Nov 13, 2007

Rising gas price, jailed bloggers, etc.

Ø KPCC's Larry Mantle did a segment this morning on Air Talk about dropping the names of southern California freeways and exclusively using numbers in their place. The sentiments were most impassioned on the side of keeping the names, even in light of the initially confusing nature of their application. Callers seemed to like the idea of going with numbers if they were relative newcomers to the area.

Ø If you think gas is expensive now, just wait. The LA Times opinion page has a piece about Venezuala President Hugo Chavez's imminent ability to "tip the world into a recession" on Dec. 2nd, the date of that country's next election.
On that day, if Venezuelan citizens pass the dozens of constitutional amendments on the ballot, Chavez will essentially be granted dictatorial powers -- an elected strongman reminiscent of Spain's Franco, Italy's Mussolini and Orwell's Big Brother. The day could easily deteriorate into one of violence, martial law and suspension of oil production, the latter calculated to inflict maximum damage on the U.S. economy.
Ø Is the media tiring of the presidential campaign already? Either that or Huffington Post is spreading it a little too thinly for my tastes with their obsession over whether the Clinton campaign forgot to tip an Iowa waitress recently. Sam Stein writes about it to the exclusion of mentioning any real issues in her campaign. He interviews the waitress and she tells him much the same thing but it doesn't stop him from pushing her for details about the meaningless episode. Priorities, people...

Don't get me wrong, I read their political coverage everyday; I just miss when it was only about politics and didn't even mention celeb gossip crap (Olbermann, this applies to you too.) Now I feel a bit assaulted by how the mindless glitz is moving more to the top center, crowding out the real news.

Do people who read HuffPo really care that an actor paid a lot of money for a painting? Does that "story" really deserve to be tucked between one about the Guiliani-Kerik story and it's developing News Corp angle and another about Blackwater?

Oh well, at least they took the TMZ link off the front page. Still, almost the entire right column is flooded with mindless drivel.

A feed from Al Jazeera would be a worthy addition to the HuffPo home page, putting a different POV of the world in front of their readers instead of distracting them with the latest celeb antics.

Ø Speaking of Al Jazeera, it's got a story about Yahoo's undisclosed settlement with the families of jailed dissidents in China. The California-based internet company has agreed to pay their legal fees.

A statement released by the World Organisation for Human Rights (WOHR) USA said Yahoo had decided to settle the case following fierce criticism at a US congressional hearing last week.

Shi Tao, a business journalist, and Wang Xiaoning, a pro-democracy blogger, are serving jail sentences of 10 year each.

According to their families' lawsuit, which was backed by WOHR, their imprisonment was a direct result of information provided by Yahoo to Chinese authorities.

Yahoo has previously defended its actions, saying it had to comply with Chinese laws in order to operate in the country.

Shi was jailed in 2004 for divulging state secrets after he forwarded a Chinese government order forbidding journalists from marking the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Police identified him using information provided by Yahoo.

Wang was jailed two years earlier after he was linked to emails and political essays posted online via information provided by Yahoo.

Think about that the next time you check your email on Yahoo or look at photos on Flickr.

The Jim Lehrer News Hour is doing a series of reports this week on Las Vegas' rising profile in national politics and it's still-booming growth (5,000 new residents every month.) It's a big union town due to the casinos and hotel workers presence, along with a large and growing Latino population, and both major parties are competing for their votes.