Tuesday, December 23, 2008
The Gowanus Lounge: What's Up With Coney Island's Shore Theater?
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Monday, December 15, 2008
* Story Highlights
* Felix Batista, anti-kidnapping consultant, abducted in Mexico
* Former military officer was in Mexico on "personal business," employer says
* Kidnappings, violence have reached record levels in Mexico in 2008
MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) -- An American anti-kidnapping consultant was kidnapped in Mexico, according to the Houston-based security firm he works for.
Felix Batista was abducted outside a restaurant December 10 in Saltillo, the capital of Mexico's Coahuila state, the firm said.
The former U.S. military officer is a contract consultant for ASI Global LLC and was in Mexico "on personal business," ASI Global President Charlie LeBlanc told CNN.
He said the FBI is investigating the incident along with Mexican authorities.
Kidnappings and violence reached record levels in Mexico this year.
Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora said this month that organized-crime killings soared to 5,376 in 2008, more than double the 2,477 deaths in Mexico in 2007.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon met over the summer with the country's 32 governors to unveil a plan to combat the nation's staggering rise in kidnappings.
The plan includes building special prisons for kidnappers, bolstering the justice system, cleaning up corrupt police forces and clamping down on kidnapping tools such as prepaid cell phones and money-laundering.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Howard Reig (1921-2008)
Howard Reig's Retirement Tribute
Videos courtesy of Kenneth Reig
Howard Reig was 87 years old. His personal website is here.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Mark Bittman prepares his mother's classic dish
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Friday, October 03, 2008
Palin and McCain will be waving the white flat on November 4.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Editor's Note: Craig Newmark was working as a San Francisco-based computer programmer in the 1990s when he started e-mailing friends about local events. His simple Web site has grown into Craigslist, which provides classified ads and forums for more than 500 cities in over 50 countries. This commentary by Newmark, a Barack Obama supporter, is one of a series from McCain and Obama supporters attending party conventions.
"How do we build what some call 'participatory democracy'?" asks Craig Newmark.SAN FRANCISCO, California (CNN) -- Like most people, I really don't want to be bothered with politics. On a gut level, it seems to be the province of the popular kids, and I'm a nerd. (Plastic pocket protector, thick black glasses taped together, that was me in school.)
Now, my day job is customer service for a Web site I founded, helping tens of millions of people. I'm in touch with a lot of everyday human concerns, that's the gig. Every day, I connect with people across America who want to make things better, a new generation committed to civic engagement.
To that end, people are using the Internet as the platform for tools for elections and governance. Speaking as a nerd, I love the technology, but what really matters is the means by which we all can use the Net to strengthen democracy in the USA. We can address practical problems and also better realize the vision of the Founding Fathers.
Nationally, the Howard Dean presidential campaign pioneered the use of the Net for grassroots campaigning, involving ordinary people in the election process. The Net proved to be an effective tool for organization and fundraising. However, this campaign didn't quite reach critical mass, perhaps because there weren't enough Americans with high-speed Internet connections at the time.
In this electoral cycle, we see campaigns like the Barack Obama campaign using the Net for organizing and fundraising very successfully. Additionally, we're seeing the Obama campaign use the Net to battle disinformation campaigns. For example, rumors that he's a Muslim or wants to raise taxes for ordinary Americans.
The key is that the campaigns manage to get ordinary people involved, including people like me who'd rather not be bothered with politics.
After the participatory campaign, how do we build what some call "participatory democracy" or "networked democracy?"
Here are several areas where people are starting to make that real:
311: Customer service for government -- In New York and San Francisco, California, people can call 311 for city services. For example, you can get a pothole fixed, or find out how to get a license. In the future, it will be possible to make direct use of 311 systems over the Net. I feel all levels and departments of U.S. government should provide customer service this way.
New York and San Francisco have made a good start, and interestingly enough, the Transportation Security Administration is doing a good job with its blog.
Transparency and accountability -- Money plays a much larger role in government than a democracy can survive. Some companies find it's easier to lobby for privileges than to compete in a free market. A notorious example of that involves "no-bid contracts." Sunlight Foundation is the hub of a network that allows people to blog about how lobbyists and others use cash in ways that might not survive public scrutiny.
Supporting the troops -- There are small things we can do, like supporting the new GI Bill and helping get adequate medical care for veterans and their families and the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans of America. The Net helps veterans in obvious ways, like awareness and fundraising. Even better, it connects citizens with the soldiers and military families who need a hand, like the Yellow Ribbon Fund, Adopt A Platoon and Any Solider. The theme is to get help directly to the people who need it, with the least middlemen possible. The focus of much of this is the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, who helped pass the new GI Bill.
The Permanent Town Hall -- Americans overall are pretty smart and we know how to run things, providing we can overcome the privileged trying for more privileges. The problem involves too many voices providing a wide range of ideas of varying quality. We need Internet-based platforms that people can use to voice needs and suggestions, with means by which the participants can rate the priority and usefulness of those statements.
Such systems exist in their infancy, like the ratings on Amazon.com and the filtering provided in Slashdot.org. The first of these is already happening and we need to recognize their importance and accelerate their adoption.
The last requires more work, but is more important. American leaders are surrounded by people who filter input and who can isolate the leader in a bubble of disinformation. (Symptoms include low approval ratings or not knowing how many houses one owns.) iReport.com: Watch Newmark's iReport endorsing Obama
However, if you know how Americans use the Net to talk, you can easily stay in touch with real people.Speaking as a customer service rep, that's the real deal.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Last night, country singer Toby Keithappeared on the Colbert Report to promote his new movie, Beer for My Horses. The movie is based off his song by the same name, which he performed on the show — and whose lyrics promote vigilante-style hangings of anyone considered “wicked” or “evil”:
Grandpappy told my pappy, back in my day, son
A man had to answer for the wicked that he done
Take all the rope in Texas
Find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys
Hang them high in the street for all the people to see that
Max Blumenthal notes that in Keith’s “Grandpappy’s” day, “3,437 African-Americans were lynched in the United States, mostly in the heart of Dixie.” Blumenthal also remarks on the racial undertones in the song’s video; the movie trailer depicts a “Mexican guy” who deals drugs and kidnaps Keith’s character’s girlfriend.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Monday, May 05, 2008
Read more in The Consumerist
Waiting for the economy to "come on"
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Speaking in front of more than 400 people Friday night during a sold-out reception at a hotel in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, Dick Cheney said that history will be very favorable to the Bush presidency:
“When the history is written, it will be said this is a safer country and more hopeful world because George Bush was president,” Cheney said
Keith Olbermann - Mission Accomplished Anniversary
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Watch the video here
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Monday, February 25, 2008
I've used the WOT (Web Of Trust) extension for Firefox for over a year now and it's been very effective. You'd be surprised how how easy it is to be fooled by legitimate looking websites. The WOT extension monitors links and automatically blocks sites that are considered dangerous. You can override the blocked website on an individual basis. It also provides ratings on search results and Wikipedia links. They recently also published a list of the Top 50 Dangerous Websites.
WOT Home page
In a related item, the McAfee Site Advisor has a spam quiz. Can you tell which sites are safe and which ones will sell your email address? Try it here.
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Sunday, February 24, 2008
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Friday, February 22, 2008
Saturday, January 26, 2008
"Sicko" Gets the Oscar High-Five ...a note from Michael Moore
January 25, 2008
I just wanted to drop you a note to let you know (if you didn't already) the good news that "Sicko" has been nominated for this year's Academy Award for Best Documentary. It was a pleasant surprise when we got the news on Tuesday.
Of course, every reporter who's called me in the past few days wanted to know if I plan on giving an "anti-war" or "anti-Bush" speech, should "Sicko" win, as I did when we won the Oscar for "Bowling for Columbine" in 2003. (As you may recall, it was the 5th day of the war when those Oscars were held, and I said from the stage that, while I enjoy making nonfiction films, we live in fictitious times with a man of fiction in the White House. A ruckus ensued with a loud roar of cheers and boos, then someone cued the band to get me off the stage. As host Steve Martin said a few moments later, Teamsters were out back loading me into the trunk of a car.)
Well it's five years later and we are still at war. But there's no booing these days. 65% of the public is now opposed to the war and to Mr. Bush. The Academy, instead of cutting off the microphone, now nominates anti-war films for Best Documentary. That's right, three of the five nominees this year are Iraq War films!
I am very honored to be in this group of documentaries, three of which I brought last summer to our film festival in northern Michigan. "Taxi to the Dark Side" is a brutal examination of U.S. torture in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Operation Homecoming" has actors reading letters from soldiers in Iraq. "No End in Sight" has ex-Bush administration officials admitting how they messed up the occupation, lamenting how things would have been so much better if only Bush had put people in Baghdad who knew what they were doing (and wouldn't we all have loved to see THAT? Hahaha). And "War/Dance" tells the moving story of kids in a dance competition in war-torn Africa. A diverse group of films, and proof that nonfiction movies are stronger than ever.
A lot of people ask me, 'how does this whole Oscar voting thing work?' Well, actors nominate actors, directors nominate directors -- every branch essentially votes to nominate their own (including documentary filmmakers in my branch) -- and then all 6,000 Academy members vote for the Best Picture nominees. After the nominations are announced, then all 6,000 vote for all the categories.
Documentaries, though, have one special rule: The voters have to verify they have seen all five nominated films. As some of these films, unfortunately, don't have the distribution they deserve, special Academy members-only screenings of all five nominees are set up for this very purpose in the next few days in New York, and in the next couple of weeks in L.A. and elsewhere, and that's when any Academy member can vote for Best Documentary.
But will there be an Oscar show this year? As you know, the Writers Guild (of which I am a member) is on strike and the Oscars are a union show. If the strike isn't settled, they won't be able to put on the typical telecast as no actor, writer or anyone I know will cross the picket line. This is all happening because a couple of hotheads at the studios (some would say union-busting knuckleheads) have walked away from the negotiating table in what seems like an attempt to simply get rid of the union. What do they think we are, air traffic controllers?
The writers are only asking for about 2.5 cents out of every dollar made on Internet sales (that's right, not even 3 pennies!), a small pittance compared to what the studios or networks rake in. That's it. The union has dropped the demand to unionize the reality shows (in 1993, I created the first unionized reality show, "TV Nation," but the Writers Guild unfortunately wasn't able to build on this).
I would like to believe that the honchos will come to their senses and settle this strike. Otherwise, I won't be able to talk to Joan Rivers on the red carpet or attend all those Oscar parties afterward! Don't make me suffer like this! My wardrobe and stylist people are already in tears.
In the meantime, I'll send you some pre-Super Tuesday thoughts next week. Thanks again for all your nice comments on the Oscar nod and I hope this extra attention on "Sicko" will help to push for the day when every American can go to the doctor or the hospital and never be asked "what's in your wallet?"
To subscribe to Mike's Message click on the link below:
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
By Steven K. Paulson, Associated Press Writer | January 15, 2008
DENVER --Carrying a family Bible, a state representative-elect kicked a photographer who took a picture of him during a statehouse prayer -- then was sworn into office.
Douglas Bruce went to the House floor Monday morning as a guest of Rep. Kent Lambert, a fellow Colorado Springs Republican.
When Rocky Mountain News photographer Javier Manzano took his photo during the traditional morning prayer, Bruce, who was standing, brought the sole of his shoe down hard on the photographer's bent knee.
"Don't do that again," Bruce told him.
Later, Bruce refused to apologize.
"I think that's the most offensive thing I've seen a photographer do in 21 years," he said. "If people are going to cause a disruption during a public prayer, they should be called for it. He owes an apology to the House and the public."
Rocky Mountain News Editor John Temple said the photographer had a right to take Bruce's picture. Temple said he would speak with House leadership.
"The House floor is a place where journalists are allowed to operate. It's outrageous for Mr. Bruce in a public place to assault a photographer," Temple said.
Bruce, an anti-tax crusader, was chosen by El Paso County Republicans last month to fill an unexpired term. He delayed his swearing-in until Monday, when the House was not in session. That allowed him to take advantage of a loophole in state term limits that would allow him to serve eight more years instead of six.
But it irritated Democratic House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who said Bruce should have taken the oath sooner.
Bruce said he had done nothing wrong and demanded that he be allowed to take the oath of office with the House in session.
He finally gave in after members of his own party threatened to start the process of replacing him if he didn't take the oath on Monday.
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