Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Watching the south

The Institute for Southern Studies' Facing South blog is always a good source for some revealing news not reported elsewhere. A couple new things there today:

In their continuing reporting on the Tennessee Senate race between Harold Ford and Bob Corker, a good compilation of revelations on who's behind some of the worst advertising, particularly the NRC ad that's gotten much publicity. Is it a Karl Rove job? The Southern Strategy Unfolds.... Says R. Neal:
This is as nasty a campaign as we can remember in recent Tennessee history and we still have a week to go. Everyone agrees it has no place in politics but nobody seems to know what to do about it

And here's another revealing posting, Southeast targeted for wildlife cutbacks, listing several wildlife refuges in the Southeast that are losing staffing and/or visitor amenities. Among them, the first ever American wildlife refuge, Pelican Island in Florida. Several other Florida refuges are included, including 'Ding' Darling on Sanibel/Captiva, and the Florida Keys.

(Added later:) On the Ford/Corker campaign ads, Vanity Fair's James Wolcott has a bit more to say. Warning, this one could offend, folks:
Bob Corker is gay. He may not know it yet, he may never know it, he may go to his sarcophagus wrapped in denial, but his fascination with Ford's prowess and good looks gives him away, as does his political affiliation. All Republican political figures are gay, especially the men.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

On those Blogger problems

It's not just me. Here's what Rick at Stuck on the Palmetto has to say about it....

Weekend update: More research links from the week

A few good things this week despite a lack of much to blog last few days, and Blogger problems making it hard to post anything. The fall color photos on the Highlands Cam photo blog have slackened, too, due to wind, rain and fading colors, although it's looking good out here today: maybe I'll get some more.

The links:

  • Hurricane Katrina victims database being compiled at the Earth Institute, Columbia U.

  • Sectarian Violence: Radical Groups Drive Internal Displacement in Iraq, Brooking study based on reports from researchers in Iraq.
  • Finding Exurbia: America's Fast-Growing Communities at the Metropolitan Fringe, Brookings study.

  • Statistical Yearbook of the EU, 2006 165-page PDF.
  • Form EIA-906 and EIA-920 Databases from Energy Information Administration. Downloadable stats include: monthly and annual data on generation and fuel consumption at the power plant and prime mover level. Data for utility plants is available from 1970, and for non-utility plants from 1999.
  • State and Metropolitan Area Data Book, from Census, has been updated for 2006.

    Governments, Politics:
  • National Leadership Index, 2006, from Kennedy School of Government. The only types of leadership in which Americans have more than a moderate amount of confidence are military and medical leadership. Confidence in the leadership of five sectors—education, religion, business, Congress, and the executive branch—has declined since 2005. (The Press, lowest of the top sectors, had no change.)
  • Who Votes, Who Doesn't, and Why, report from Pew Research Center for People and the Press.

  • New Media Bibliography, includes web sites and books, compiled by the Poynter's David Shedden.

  • Easy Publishing Tools for Online Journalists from Online Journalism Review. Reviews of blogging tools, photo sites, lots more.

    Public Records:
  • Legal Dockets Blog has news of changes/additions to court public records online. News here this month: Palm Beach County, Fl has finally put criminal/traffic records online; and all Florida federal courts online are now available in CM/ECF format. A recent entry listed improvements to the NY State court records, too. (Via TVC Alert). Note is also a directory of courts online, by subscription.

  • Wednesday, October 25, 2006

    Young writer to watch

    The Miami Herald's Joan Fleischman reports that there's a new employee in the Herald newsroom: Rob Barry, 23, who clerks on the Metro desk some days and writes some stories for the Neighbors sections. We all know Rob Barry: he's the son of Dave Barry, and his exploits as a teen and earlier are still appearing in the old Dave Barry columns that are running in various newspapers these days since the column is on hiatus. Rob's website has pointers to his stories, and blog postings.

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    More on newspapers, and a disgusting political ad

    Blogger is having problems so I haven't been able to post. Hope this one gets thru....

    Here's another side to that story I mentioned yesterday, Howard Kurtz' prediction that investigative journalism will suffer from newsroom cuts. The Guardian's Roy Greenslade has another opinion: Why cutbacks in US papers may not be all bad. He says UK papers have much smaller newsrooms than American papers' bloated staffs, and still do great investigations. He quotes a thoughtful comment on the Kurtz column, and adds:
    But I'm much more optimistic about a journalism freed from corporate ownership being able to do the job better than in the past. Fewer bodies with real quality, and real commitment, will surely do better than the hordes of unproductive, self-important journalists hiding in the dusty corners of, say, the New York Times. Did that paper hold the administration to account in the run-up to the Iraq war? I don't think so.

    On another topic, I've been lucky(?) to be able to watch the political ads coming out of the U.S. Senate race in Tennessee between Republican Bob Corker, former mayor of Chattanooga, and Democratic Rep. Harold Ford of Memphis. Nasty stuff. This campaign has been far from enjoyable.

    But since last week the Republican National Committee has been running what I think is the most obnoxious political ad I've ever seen. Corker denies any connection, but the damage has been done, although it seems it could backfire. It uses the most base kneejerk assumptions about Democratic politicians, plus a sexual connotation (much discussion of whether it's racist too). Comments from Michael Froomkin, Alabama Liberation Front (praising the ad), Tennessee Guerrilla Woman, and Hamilton Democrats. Link to video available on a couple of these links.

    Monday, October 23, 2006

    Newspapers, comics, and clear water

    A couple interesting things today about newspapers: The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz writes about the future of investigative journalism, in his column, Tightened Belts Could Put Press In a Pinch. He mentions the Post's coverage of Jack Abramoff, and the LA Times' coverage of Rep. Curt Weldon, that led to official investigations. Not to mention coverage in another area of journalism, ABC New's breaking of the Tom Foley story, and several more. But, says Kurtz, eroding circulation and newsroom cuts may have an effect:
    If this erosion continues, it would be bad news for serious journalism, and good news for corrupt politicians.

    The wonderful Gene Weingarten profiles Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau, including a visit with wounded soldiers, in the Post magazine: Doonesbury's War.
    It turns out he's not afraid of publicity so much as he's horrified at being perceived as the kind of person who wants publicity...He's a genuinely humble know-it-all. His regard for injured soldiers is sincere, his knowledge of their lingo profound, almost as if he's one of them; watching this, you can't help but hear faint, soul-rattling echoes of Vietnam, which he escaped, like many sons of privilege, by gaming the system. He's got the greatest job on Earth -

    His continuing story of B.D. losing a leg in Iraq, is called 'genius' and 'breathtaking'.

    And how does this relate to the 'dying newspapers' story? Well, Weingarten says:
    TRUDEAU'S GREATEST WORK is coming at a time when "Doonesbury" is fading a bit from the national consciousness. He's still in 600 newspapers, but that number has been higher; there simply aren't as many newspapers as there once were, and their readership is dwindling.

    Don't read newspapers? You don't have to miss Doonesbury, every day on Slate.....

    I meant to add a bit to the link I posted yesterday to the report about Florida's waters and their continuing deterioration from pollution. The report said algal blooms are forcing fishermen and boaters from Florida's waters, inland and coastal. How true. When I moved to south Florida in 1980, the waters of Biscayne Bay and the Florida Keys were still 'gin-clear'. No more. About 10 years ago or so I lost interest in swimming in the Keys because of all the algae. The water was cloudy, not clear, and the bottom covered in gunk. Biscayne Bay was starting to have some cloudy areas, too. This may be one of the main reasons I don't live there any more....without boating and snorkeling, there wasn't much enjoyable to do outdoors. At least now I can swim in sparkling mountain lakes and walk along clear rivers. So far.

    Sunday, October 22, 2006

    Weekend update: More research links from the week

    Lots of interesting things this week, I wanted to post more of them earlier but the political stuff got in the way.

    The links:

  • The Rekjavik File, from National Security Archives, on the Reagan-Gorbachev summit.
  • Relaunched Media Tracker Reveals Media Control by ZIP Code from Center for Public Integrity.
  • Vanity Fair: finally, the content is online, including, now, James Woolcott's blog, along with some classic stories like the Mark Felt 'Deep Throat' revelation.
  • The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online

  • Climate Change: government inaction will cost trillions; press release and link to report from Friends of the Earth.
  • 2006 Report on Doctor Disciplinary Information on State Web Sites from Public Citizen.
  • World's Most Polluted Places from the Blacksmith Insitute. Number One: Chernobyl. Two western hemisphere sites in the top ten, in the Dominican Republic and Peru.
  • Too Wild to Drill: Wilderness Society report on several places the administration wants to drill for oil.

  • On Behalf of Journalism: a Manifesto for Change, by Geneva Overholser, from the Annenberg Foundation (PDF)'s Commission on the Role of the Press in a Democracy, with lots of distinguished members.

  • Finding real-time news photos; good tips from Gary Price. Example: search Yahoo! news for 'ap photo', sort by date.
  • Tailrank is a new blog ranking site with links to blog postings on the most popular news stories, somewhat like Memeorandum.

  • Wireless news sources; another list from Gary.
  • El Mundo (Madrid) opens its archives to the public, for free, going back to 1994. Archive search page.

  • Algae in Florida waters, report from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. "Florida is the undisputed capital of algal blooms." From the press release:“From Tampa to the Bay of Biscayne, algal blooms have driven tourists, fishermen and residents out of inland and coastal waters in record numbers,” stated Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, a former water enforcement attorney with the state Department of Environmental Protection. “These algal blooms are the chickens coming home to roost for decades of an utterly broken state water quality program.”

    Some interesting stories/blogs:
  • Is Google Evil? in Mother Jones: "Google already knows more about you than the National Security Agency ever will."
  • Relatives have 'inside track' in lobbying for tax dollars, great project in USA Today, covering Congressional spouses and relatives and lobbying for Earmarks; I've linked previously to research on these topics by the Sunlight Foundation.
  • Profile of Rob Curley in Fast Company; how a 'nerd from Kansas' is changing online news. Curley recently took a job at the Washington Post/Newsweek online operations.
    Dude," he recalls later, "I'm sitting there at a table with Don Graham and Ben Bradlee thinking, 'This is not right.'"

  • Friday, October 20, 2006


    Can this be true, or is it some elaborate hoax? Via Knox Views, lots of buzz about reports that president GW Bush (Bush 43) has bought a nearly 100,000 acre ranch in Paraguay. Hmm. Also reports that Jenna Bush has traveled there to meet with the president of Paraguay, and linking to a law passed there last year that exempts US military officials from prosecution for war crimes, followed by arrival there of a large contingent of American troops.
    Wonkette summarized some of the reporting the other day, with links to several Spanish-language news reports. Much of it came from Bring it On! blog. Prensa Latina says,
    An Argentine official regarded the intention of the George W. Bush family to settle on the Acuifero Guarani (Paraguay) as surprising, besides being a bad signal for the governments of the region...The official pointed out that this situation could cause a hypothetical conflict of all the armies in the region, and called attention to the Bush family habit of associating business and politics.

    Just too weird. Other rumors say the president's father, Bush 41, owns lots of land there and this may be confused.

    Worst Congress ever?

    A couple more links on this topic, the first two coming via James Wolcott's blog, which has now been moved to the new Vanity Fair website (which actually has the content now):

    Wonkette, in a posting entitled Rape, Murder, it's just a shot away, on Rep. Jim Gibbons, who wants to be governor of Nevada.
    And Talking Points Memo, on our president's campaigning for Rep. Don Sherwood.

    And here's a new report: Under the Influence, Special Interest Money and Members of Congress (press release) and web site from Clean Up Washington, a Public Citizen project to identify special interests' influence on Congress. Among the most influenced, Bill Frist and the entire Tennessee legislative delegation. Here's North Carolina's delegation.

    Can any of this be fixed? There's a list of priorities and policy changes for a new government on Among them, under Congress: "Criminals: expel convicted Members and cancel their pensions".

    Thursday, October 19, 2006

    This Congress and this president

    Seems the atrocities keep piling up. No one seemed to notice at first when president Bush signed the anti-terrorism act the other day, that it had ramifications. Keith Olbermann, did, though, and said it in his extra-long special comment last night: The Death of Habeas Corpus, transcript and links to video.
    Your words are lies, Sir.
    They are lies, that imperil us all.
    "One of the terrorists believed to have planned the 9/11 attacks," …you told us yesterday… "said he hoped the attacks would be the beginning of the end of America."That terrorist, sir, could only hope.
    Not his actions, nor the actions of a ceaseless line of terrorists (real or imagined), could measure up to what you have wrought.
    Habeas Corpus? Gone.
    The Geneva Conventions? Optional.
    The Moral Force we shined outwards to the world as an eternal beacon, and inwards at ourselves as an eternal protection? Snuffed out.
    These things you have done, Mr. Bush… they would be "the beginning of the end of America."

    Sheila Lennon has lots more links on this story. Jurist has news, background, commentary on military tribunals and habeas corpus, including a column from University of Virgina history professor Paul Halliday on a time when habeas corpus was suspended:
    Americans, like the English, have always needed habeas corpus most when our fears were greatest. When we use habeas corpus, we protect the safety of both our physical selves and our moral selves.
    ...Well might the President reflect on this history before his signature makes the Great Writ quite a bit smaller.

    (Added later:) Also, Human Rights Watch has an analysis of the provisions of the Military Commissions Act.

    And, in Rolling Stone, a tribute to the group that passed this bill: The Worst Congress Ever. The ten worst are profiled separately. It doesn't seem ten's enough.
    These past six years were more than just the most shameful, corrupt and incompetent period in the history of the American legislative branch...a stable of thieves and perverts who committed crimes rolling out of bed in the morning and did their very best to turn the mighty American empire into a debt-laden, despotic backwater.

    Commentary on women

    There's been a lot of talk on Bob Herbert's column in the New York Times about the Amish murders and why girls were targeted (as they were in another school violence case in Colorado). Eat the Press has a good summary of the question, along with links to other discussion. (Herbert asks, if killers had walked into schools and targeted blacks, asians, homosexuals, we would all be outraged. Why isn't there more discussion of this? The original column was behind the Times Select subscription wall.)
    (Added later:) More on this, including a long excerpt from Herbert's column, on the Our Bodies, Ourselves blog, where this subject was first mentioned a couple weeks ago.

    Also in Eat the Press, a two-for-one day, a posting on Bill O'Reilly's comments on abortion. O'Reilly, an expert on women's reproductive health, apparently, says there should never be a medical need for abortion because 'you can always have a c-section'. Wonderful. 'Eat' links to other blogs commenting on this, including one that carefully explains why certain dangerous medical conditions, like ectopic pregnancies, require abortion to save the mother's life.

    Monday, October 16, 2006

    Western NC race getting negative publicity

    Forgive a little local reference here, but it's interesting that the race in my local Congressional district is attracting attention as far away as New York--and London.

    The New York Times' Caucus blog has a posting on the Heath Shuler/Charles Taylor race in the 11th Congressional district, and calls it a 'mudslide'. It quotes the Hendersonville Times (a New York Times newspaper) which asks both campaigns to give up their nasty TV ads.
    Lots of interesting stuff here including a link to the recent Wall Street Journal article on Taylor's business dealings, quotes from the political forum held the other night in Murphy, where Shuler and one of Taylor's aides spoke. Lots of comments on the posting, including a couple from Murphy. And another commenter has something to say about Murphy:
    Those people in Murphy NC will vote for Taylor only because he is a Republican. They could care less if he takes this state to the cleaners and promotes educating Russian students instead of US students. They have confused religion with politics and I don’t beleive anywhere in the Bible it allows crooks to get into heaven. When you vote for Taylor you vote for all of the dishonest things he stands for...

    Another commenter deplores the....
    ...lack of support Mr. Taylor provided the extreme western part of his congressional district. I’m not surprised he didn’t show up in Murphy because I doubt he knows where it is.

    Interesting thing about living in Murphy: people here don't see those ads, since we get local TV from Chattanooga, and see ads for Bob Corker and Harold Ford's Senate race. One thing: if you haven't seen the videos, they're on the Times' site, linked from the Caucus posting.

    The story moves to London, where The Guardian's Newsblog comments and links on the race.

    The Caucus has some nice things to say on the scenery around here, too:
    We’ve got some video up to show you why we’re not too remiss about leaving television behind for a few hours. After all, it’s autumn, and the fall foliage in the mountains would be enough to make your ears and eyes pop without the winding curves of the climb on West 74.

    Weekend update: More research links from the week

    I guess this isn't a weekend update any more since I never seem to get online on weekends, too much else going on.

    Here's one thing that I wanted to post about on Friday but didn't have time. This subject really gets me going. I can't understand why the cable/satellite companies get to have it both ways. Not only do they get huge subscription fees from us, but they sell more commercials than ever. If I have to pay this much for TV, shouldn't it be commercial free?
    The report, from Common Cause: Why are cable television prices so high?, press release with link to report. "Big cable has spent more than $92 million lobbying in Washington since 1998. The industry's spending and giving has increased dramatically in the past two years as it marshaled its forces to block congressional or regulatory interference with mega mergers, to halt any effort to curb cable rates, and to quash any attempts to permit families to pay for only the cable stations they watch - not only a cost-saving effort but a way to protect children from the more salacious channels."

    The links:

  • Bush Judges Confirm Opponents' Fears, report from People for the American Way: "federal appeals court judges nominated by President Bush are threatening and undermining Americans’ rights and liberties, and working to reduce congressional authority to protect those rights and liberties".
  • Report on 2004 election problems from Common Cause, along with The Century Foundation and The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights. Press release with links to copies of the report on the websites. "...shows that most problems exposed in the 2004 election remain unresolved, and some have been exacerbated and threaten to mar the mid-term elections in just four weeks."

    Governments, Politics:
  • Country Profile: North Korea, from Nuclear Threat Initiative.
  •, from OMB Watch, has 5 years of federal spending data (2000-2004, plus partial 2005 data). Free searching of the database under Grants or Contracts.

  • Woodward and Bernstein, site for Alicia Shepard's book on the pair.

  • Times Topics. I've run across search references to this but never really looked at it before. Did you know the NY Times puts its stories online by topic, where you can easily get a look at their coverage going back several years? The description: "In the tradition of the printed Times Index, Times Topics seeks to provide simple access to the contents of Each topic page collects all the news, reference and archival information, photos, graphics, audio and video files published on the topic on"

    North Carolina:
  • NCSecondary Roads Database. Put in a road name or number and get the reverse.
  • Craft Revival from Western NC University: search a library of images of crafts and crafters in Western North Carolina.

    Some interesting stories/blogs:
  • The Nieman Watchdog Blog

  • Folkstreams, streaming films on folk culture. Featured, among many others: Alan Lomax's Appalachian Journey.

  • Thursday, October 12, 2006

    Saving the boys

    The struggle of young African-American boys is in the consciousness a lot these days, especially for those of us who are addicted to HBO's The Wire.

    This year's episodes, with typical great acting from the kids as well as adults, focus on a group of Baltimore boys struggling to get along in the culture of corner drug dealers, car theft, police surveillance, school and its attendant violence, and teachers, coaches, and other adults trying to make their lives better.
    This amazing show also has a story line on the fictional Baltimore mayoral race and a candidate who 'still wakes up white in a black city', as well as the police who are trying to do their job unfettered by department politics.
    Two former police from previous episodes are a new 8th grade teacher and a researcher trying to get a handle on violent kids.
    Powerful stuff that will make you think hard about our culture.

    So, the recent killing of a popular black teacher in Miami who mentored young black men, and subsequent arrest of a 17-year-old for the shooting, strikes a chord.

    Leonard Pitts' column on the story, An Open Letter to the Killers of Mr. Lawrence, has run all over the country, including my daily paper, the Asheville Citizen Times, yesterday. Pitts:
    In a very real sense, of course, it's a waste of time talking to you. You stood in the endless moment before the awful act, the moment when all things were still possible, and you made your decision. You pulled the trigger. You crossed a sacred line, and there's no going back.

    But I find myself thinking about the young black men for whom there is still time, the ones who stand at that line but haven't crossed it yet, the ones who still live in the moment before, and thus, still have time to reclaim their futures, redeem their lives.

    Stuck on the Palmetto discusses this story, too.


    300 million

    Al Tompkins has some great resources for reporting on the coming announcment of the 300 millionth American, expected around Monday. See today's Al's Morning Meeting.

    Wednesday, October 11, 2006

    Hearing more sides

    ...always a good thing. A couple new voices:

    Our Bodies, Ourselves, is a new blog on women's health from one of the book's editors. Nice recent post on Elderbloggers, mentioning Ronni Bennett and other good women bloggers, and lots more.

    And, have you gone to The Sandbox yet? It's the military blog aggregation on the Doonesbury website. The strip linked to it on Sunday. Posts from soldiers from the war. Good to hear what the troops are seeing and thinking.

    Trying popup pols

    The Sunlight Foundation, mentioned yesterday for its project to find Congressional spouses' paid jobs, and mentioned earlier for its Congresspedia and the 'Earmarks' project, has another cool app: Popup Politicians. Install the code on your Website, and any time you mention a politician, it inserts a popup profile.

    So, say, if I mentioned my incumbent, Rep. Charles Taylor, does this work? (Roll the cursor over the little sunlight icon. Note links to Congresspedia profile, voting records, etc.)

    Enough dead yet?

    Coming in the British medical journal, Lancet, report on a new Johns Hopkins study saying that over 655,000 Iraqis have died in the U.S. invasion and aftermath. CNN has the story, and a link to the PDF of the report.

    Does that make up for the 3000 killed Sept 11?

    Tuesday, October 10, 2006

    Research links and useful sites

    I'm cutting into the collection of links I'll post over the weekend, but these are too interesting to hold for several days:

  • Folkstreams, streaming films on folk culture. Featured, among many others: Alan Lomax's Appalachian Journey.

  • Congressional Family Business Project, from the Sunlight Foundation, searching for instances of congressional spouses paid for working for Congress.

  • Bush Judges Confirm Opponents' Fears, report from People for the American Way:
    Federal appeals court judges nominated by President Bush are threatening and undermining Americans’ rights and liberties, and working to reduce congressional authority to protect those rights and liberties...

  • Forecast Advisor gives you a local forecast, and rates other weather services for reliability. (via Tara Calashain's Tech Talk blog from WRAL-TV.)

  • Also via Tara: Bildt Comments, blog from former Swedish P.M. Carl Bildt, who was just named foreign minister. Thoughtful comments on world situation. Something here I hadn't heard about elsewhere: the U.S. Navy's base at Keflavik has been shut down.
    For close to a generation, Keflavik was the by far most important military installation in northern Europe. It was the linchpin of Atlantic and Northern security during the cold decades of the Cold War.
    No more.

  • Monday, October 09, 2006

    Musical birthdays

    Billboard offers a This Day in Music history feature.
    What a day today is: the birthday of John Lennon, Peter Tosh, Jackson Browne, and John Entwistle. Whew! It's also the day Jacques Brel died.


    Still a controversial subject, but nevertheless, no Columbus Day logo at Google today?

    Ask isn't so shy. (Archived copy if you missed it.)
    Via Gary Price, who works for Ask.

    Of all the great Columbus links on Ask, here's an unusual one: Columbus' Gastronomic Persona from Castello Banfi winery.

    Notable today

    Of course the news is all about North Korea, and if you want to see what people are saying in blogs and news reports Memeorandum is a good place to start. Al's Morning Meeting also has lots of links.
    (Added later: also, for a different perspective, see Amy Gahran in Poynter's E-Media Tidbits, asking why news organizations can't find out with a quick Google search what is the best source for definitive answers on nuclear tests: the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization._

    But some other things caught my eye:

    Alicia Shepherd, whose coming book I need to put on my Amazon wish list, has a profile of Bob Woodward in the Chicago Tribune that's quite revealing:
    This time, everyone has decided that Woodward must really be a Democratic ideologue because the latest book skewers the president. But wait: People thought the 63-year-old veteran Washington Post reporter was a toady for Republicans after his last two books on the Bush White House.

    Fact is, Woodward is apolitical. True, his father was a prominent Republican judge, and Woodward quoted Sen. Barry Goldwater in a high school speech. He even voted for Richard Nixon in 1968, just a few years before he helped bring him down.

    The Raleigh News and Observer ran a series on religion and politics in the South a few days ago, based on that survey we saw reported last week: God as Fearsome Father?, with related stories.

    In The Nation, a story on the Virgina senate race, focusing on Jim Webb: Virginia's Rumbling Rebels. Webb, author of some interesting historical novels and the book about the Scots-Irish I really want to read, Born Fighting. is running against the infamous Sen. George Allen but is not catching up very fast. Maybe because he is a rebel:
    Webb's gonzo campaign--chaotic, underfunded and featuring a candidate who refuses to pander or even, at many campaign appearances, to so much as crack a smile--grew out of his exasperation with Allen's unwavering support for George W. Bush's Iraq adventure. Webb had been warning against military intervention in Iraq, insisting that it would destabilize the Middle East and spawn dangerous anti-Americanism, since the late 1980s.
    ...Webb might have been a hellacious soldier--one of the most highly decorated to return from Vietnam, in fact--but he has never been a go-along guy, to say the least. His stint as Navy Secretary, for instance, ended with Webb abruptly resigning after just ten months, protesting the Reagan Administration's refusal to fully fund the 600-ship fleet he insisted was necessary.

    More discussion of Webb's political chances from Facing South, with lots of links.

    The Secret Letter from Iraq, in Time magazine, from a Marine who says it like it is. Somehow the letter has been making the rounds:
    Perhaps inevitably, the "Letter from Iraq" moved quickly beyond the small group of acquantainaces and hit the inboxes of retired generals, officers in the Pentagon, and staffers on Capitol Hill.

    Time decided to publish it after verifying the author and authenticity. Some tidbits are telling:
    Most Profound Man in Iraq — an unidentified farmer in a fairly remote area who, after being asked by Reconnaissance Marines if he had seen any foreign fighters in the area replied "Yes, you."

    (Thanks to Lynne for the link.)

    Weekend update: More research links from the week

    Wow, another busy week (and weekend), but also, some really interesting new research sites made their appearance last week.

    The links:

  • The Relationship Between Crude Oil and Natural Gas Prices, from EIA. (PDF)
  • North American Power Plant Emissions, data from 2002 in PDF format.

  • World Population Data Sheet, 2006 from Population Reference Bureau.
  • Electric Power Annual, data from 2005, EIA.
  • Immigration prosecutions for June 2006, from TRAC.

    Governments, Politics:
  • Country Report on Cuba, just updated, from Library of Congress.
  • Elections around the world, 2006 from Australian parliamentary library.
  • Abramoff Ties to White House, report from Committee on Govt Reform.
  • Good story on Tracking politics with blogs, aggregators and tracking tools from Searcher magazine.

  • 100 Leading Media Companies Report from Ad Age. Includes downloadable media company family tree poster, and data.
  • Well Connected, a Center for Public Integrity report on the Broadcast, Cable, and Telecommunications industry. Includes information about state influence, federal lobbying/influence, and a media tracker.
  • FDA News and Recalls Archive, updated daily, from AskSam. It's searchable. Note AskSam can create a database from any RSS feed, according to their newsletter. Contact them for info on setting one up.

  • Chicago Manual of Style is now online, by subscription ($25/yr now, $30 later).
  • Reporters Cookbook, a Wiki for reporters and others interested in Computer-Assisted Reporting and Research, where participants are encourange to post their tips, instructions, and guides to better research and database usage. Under construction, contributors are encouraged.
  • I had linked to, and looked at, Google Reader once, but never really tried it. Last week I set Reader up to read a few news feeds for a project I'm working on and I'm finding it to be pretty efficient. I may like this better than any other RSS reader/newsfeed aggregator I've tried. What do you think?

  • Friday, October 06, 2006

    A Nobel for communication?

    Jeff Jarvis nominates Blogger. What a concept.

    Bad week for publishers

    Wow, two publishers gone in a week. Now the publisher of the Los Angeles Times, Jeffrey Johnson, has resigned (actually, was fired, it seems). New York Times story; LA Times story; and on the new publisher.

    Rather than the result of a dispute over staff controversy, as in Miami, this one was over budgeting. Not the first time a publisher's quit rather than make more cuts to news coverage: there was the Miami Herald's Dave Lawrence, several years ago, and the San Jose Mercury News' Jay Harris.

    Those were both Knight Ridder papers. More and more the story of the Tribune Company is following the KR path...

    Thursday, October 05, 2006

    Newspapers in a new world

    Interesting post from Doc Searls, who links to a story and comments about labor problems at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, my (long-ago) hometown paper (I read the D&C when there was an afternoon paper to read, too, the Times Union. They were among Gannett's first newspapers and once housed the company headquarters).

    The story, Remaking media: the D&C's hazy future in City, talks about how changes in the newspaper industry are affecting how papers look at the future:
    What changed that was a little-known Florida-based investor named Bruce Sherman. Sherman's firm Private Capital management was the largest shareholder in Knight Ridder, which was the second-largest newspaper chain in the nation (behind Gannett).

    Last fall, Sherman, dissatisfied with the company's stock performance and believing its management hadn't made sufficiently deep cuts, led a shareholder revolt. At Sherman's urging, Knight Ridder ultimately sold itself to the McClatchy Company, which auctioned off a few of the larger, less profitable properties, including both dailies in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia papers were bought by a private group put together by local PR man Brian Tierney.

    Doc goes on to discuss what newspapers need to do to get over the fact that "as a class they are resolutely clueless about how to adapt to a world that is increasingly networked and self-informing." He offers ten "hopefully helpful" clues, including:
    • stop giving away the news and charging for the olds
    • start featuring archived stuff on the paper's website
    • link outside the paper
    • start following, and linking to, local bloggers and even competing papers

    Thank you, Doc. Been saying this for years. Don't miss the rest.

    Media bloggers

    Great seminar being hosted by South Florida SPJ chapter Oct 19th at the Sun-Sentinel building, on blogging. See for details. Among the panelists:
    Daily Pulp's Bob Norman, S-S's Phoebe Flowers, Rebecca Wakefield of, and Ron Gunzberger, who works for the Broward County Property Appraiser but is also the creator of the great politics site, Politics1.

    On that Foley story

    I've been avoiding this one since there's plenty of coverage elsewhere, but some things are just too good to pass up:

    Florida Blog has a great rundown of all the blame flying around in this story, from Drudge to Katharine Harris to Limbaugh and Hannity (blaming Democrats, of course).

    Florida Blog also recommends Talking Points Memo as the best blog for following the political ramifications of this case. (Also, TPM points to its TPM Muckraker blog for breaking Hastert/Foley news.)
    TPM also points to a blogger who searched the entire Congressional Record for references to Foley and pages.

    Daily Pulp has been linking for days to the previous coverage of Foley's outing, and to reports about his hidden longtime partner, including one from the Miami Herald's Steve Rothaus in his Gay South Florida blog.
    Notable, also, Frank Cerabino's column in the Palm Beach Post: Foley's sexual orientation a not-so-secret secret.

    Will there be prosecutions? The Washington Post reports the Justice Department has sent an order to the House of Representatives to preserve all documents relating to Foley and the page program, a good indication.


    The fur is flying in South Florida this week, what with the Foley scandal and revelations about his personal life that the papers chose to keep private up til now.

    And, of course, the continuing fallout at the Miami Herald over the Radio Marti/El Nuevo Herald story and the comments by Herald editor Tom Fiedler the other day. Fiedler has published an apology.

    The Cuban-American bloggers, of course, don't buy it. Babalu blog is particularly heated, including this comment by George Moneo (thanks to Alex for correcting my confusion with another Babalu contributor, Henry 'Conductor' Gomez, who writes the Herald Watch blog...apologies):
    The Miami Herald has a long and dirty history of slapping the face of the Cuban-American community in South Florida. Beginning with Jack Kofoed, and continuing with race-baiters Leonard PItts and Carl Hiassen, and the other other exemplary bigots who write for your newspaper.

    'Race baiters'? Oh my.

    Babalu is encouraging protests in writing to Fiedler and to the McClatchy (owner of the Herald) corporate HQ. They're continuing to call for Fiedler's resignation.

    They know where we live

    OK, here's a puzzle I don't quite understand. I called up an article in Britain's
    Independent newspaper today, and in the sidebar was an ad for a singles dating service. The headline: find singles in Tellico Plains, with photos of three lovely young ladies supposedly from the place.

    Well, Tellico Plains is a tiny town about 30 miles from here, over the mountains and the state line in Tennessee.

    And this is a newspaper in the UK.

    How do they know I live near Tellico Plains?

    Is it because I linked to the story from Yahoo! News? And since Yahoo! knows where I live (as I'm a My Yahoo! subscriber, with localized page and an email account), do they feed that info to newspaper sites? Or is there some deal where newspapers get a special ad link from a Yahoo! link?

    What's the deal?
    (Note, thanks to SpaceCoastWeb's explanation in the comments. Makes sense a bit, but I don't dialup to a local ISP, although I guess they could base it on the ISP's local phone number...But that's not in Tennessee. Why don't they target here?)

    (photo: near downtown Tellico Plains, Saturday)

    Wednesday, October 04, 2006

    ...and more

    Lots of fallout on the Miami Herald story, for any readers who don't read Romenesko where the links are prominent today, here's what's happening now:

    In the Miami Herald, story of the argument over a Carl Hiaasen column that led publisher Jesus Diaz to decide to resign two weeks ago. And, a profile of the new publisher, David Landsberg, in which he encounters unhappy newsroom staffs in both newspapers.

    Also: Carl Hiaasen tells NPR he would have resigned if they cut his column about the El Nuevo Herald reporters.

    Also in The Herald: why the two Miami newspapers' newsrooms have such different philosophies.

    (Added later:) Note Pulp's take on the Herald story and his insistence that editor Tom Fiedler should resign, along with comments....I expect there's much more on this on other Miami-area blogs....'Stuck', for example, who likes Fiedler's 'chihuahua' quote.

    Tuesday, October 03, 2006

    Miami Herald fallout

    The story of the El Nuevo Herald staffers fired for taking payment for work for Radio Marti has reached a new level, as publisher Jesus Diaz has quit and the staffers are reinstated. Wow.

    I've been browsing lots of newspaper and news websites today for a project, and the 'Herald publisher resigns' story is prominent on lots of them, front page.

    Lots of comments on local blogs, of course, too: Stuck on the Palmetto links to a few.

    I'll probably be adding to this posting. Besides the Diaz story, lots of bloggers linking to the Herald admission that they had the Foley emails, too.

    Monday, October 02, 2006

    Foley: An old story

    Lots of fallout from the email revelations and resignation of Florida congressman Mark Foley.

    Turns out that besides the House leadership several media people got copies of the emails almost a year ago, but they didn't think they were newsworthy enough to publish.
    The St. Petersburg Times has an editor's note in their 'Buzz' blog Saturday, about their handling of the emails:
    After much discussion among top editors at the paper, we concluded that the information we had on Foley last November didn't meet our standard for publication. Evidently, other news organizations felt the same way.
    ...someone contacted ABC and provided a detailed email exchange between Foley and at least one other page that was far different from what we had seen before.

    This has attracted lots of comments, of course, including one from Daily Pulp's Bob Norman, although I can't get it to open this morning.

    Note, Americablog, which has been covering this story heavily, had images of the more damning emails.

    Sunday, October 01, 2006

    Weekend update: More research links from the week

    Just a few more good research links noted this week:

  • Mixed Messages, Washington Post database of political ads.
  • Center for Legislative Archives, at National Archives. Includes The Historical Records of Congress.
  • Consumer Reports on Safety Blog
  • Best Places to Retire, 2006, from Money.
  • State Economic Profiles 2006 from SBA.
  • Geographic Mobility in the U.S., 2005 from Census.
  •, site devoted to the history of the once great airline.
  • Hispanic Reading Room from Library of Congress, includes links to good portals, lots more.
  • U.S. Senate Office of Public Records: lobbyist filings now available in images.
  • InciWeb, Incident Information System, for keeping track of wildfires. Includes links to pictures, maps.