Just watch. I simply cannot believe this.
Naturally the ruling by a federal judge yesterday that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is unconstitutional is a positive thing. The case was originally filed in 2004, it’d be a major embarrassment for Obama’s Justice Department to pursue it further in an appeal (and now that the case has been decided they have no technical obligation to defend it). If Obama says anything other than that “I always said this policy was unconstitutional and now a federal judge has agreed,” he’d lose major credibility on the issue.
Moreover, this makes two major gay rights victories by federal judges in a span of just a few months. At a time when we had been hoping that more equality would be restored by the legislative branch, it looks like judges are still the easiest route to take (which is a shame because their decisions are most easily overturned when compared to legislative and ballot proposition routes). Oh well, at least there’s (hopefully) an imminent victory here in Illinois on the legislative front, with the governor and others saying that “the votes are there” for at least civil unions created by the state legislature.
Meh, okay. He should get out of the White House as soon as possible, especially with the elections coming up. What’s more interesting is who Obama will appoint as his new Chief of Staff. It probably goes without saying that it’d be better if he chose somebody not currently part of his administration, but it’s tough timing, again with the elections coming up, for somebody to come in completely new or controversial.
Ahhh, something tells me this isn’t a good idea:
For someone convicted of endangering the welfare of a child, for instance, a judge might now learn that a three-year prison sentence would run more than $37,000 while probation would cost $6,770. A second-degree robber, a judge could be told, would carry a price tag of less than $9,000 for five years of intensive probation, but more than $50,000 for a comparable prison sentence and parole afterward. download splode for iphone onlineThe bill for a murderer’s 30-year prison term: $504,690.
Legal experts say no other state systematically provides such information to judges, a practice put into effect here last month by the state’s sentencing advisory commission, an appointed board that offers guidance on criminal sentencing.
The practice has touched off a sharp debate.
It has been lauded nationally by a disparate group of defense lawyers and fiscal conservatives, who consider it an overdue tool that will force judges to ponder alternatives to prison more seriously.
The Times wonders, without any sense of irony, “Might a decision between life in prison and a death sentence be decided some day by price comparison?” I say irony because it’s been shown again an again that death penalty cases are far more expensive than non-death penalty ones.
It speaks volumes that even Sarah Palin (the one who recently said that an Islamic community center planned for Manhattan stabs her in the heart) has come out against the idiotic Koran-burning planned in Florida on the 9th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. She recently posted a Facebook message saying:
I would hope that Pastor Terry Jones and his supporters will consider the ramifications of their planned book-burning event. It will feed the fire of caustic rhetoric and appear as nothing more than mean-spirited religious intolerance. Don’t feed that fire. If your ultimate point is to prove that the Christian teachings of mercy, justice, freedom, and equality provide the foundation on which our country stands, then your tactic to prove this point is totally counter-productive.
The only correction it seems there is to make here is that Pastor Jones’ plan does not only “appear” as mean-spirited religious intolerance, it actually is mean-spirited religious intolerance. From Palin’s statement it could almost sound like she understands the point of view of this Pastor but is concerned only about the “appearances” of the action, not the action itself. Maybe I’m digging too dip for inner meaning in Palin’s inane statements though…
From a recent Arizona Republican primary debate. Naturally, Arizona Republican voters chose to re-nominate her to lead their state.
The first general election debate is next Wednesday, and the Democratic candidate is challenging her to 6 more public debates. With a performance like the above video, it’s not hard to see why her campaign hasn’t responded to that challenge yet.
This little “national anthem trailer” was created by the Department of Defense. It’s actually hard to believe it’s not a parody, it’s that over the top.
The irony here is, perhaps literally, killer:
The National Transportation Safety Board warned 15 years ago that Alaska suffers too many air accidents from flying under conditions like those in which a De Havilland floatplane crashed on Monday, killing former Alaska senator Ted Stevens and four other passengers. The 1995 report found that a significant share of Alaska’s aviation accidents, most involving small planes, have resulted when pilots using only visual navigation encountered weather that normally would be considered unsafe for flying without instruments. “All aviation operations in Alaska have experienced a greater rate of accidents involving VFR [visual flight rules] into IMC [instrument meteorological conditions] compared to other parts of the country,” the NTSB stated. The report also cited an earlier NTSB study of Alaskan air-taxi safety, published in 1980, describing a persistent problem commonly known in the industry as the “bush syndrome”: a “mindset of risk-acceptance and a willingness to take risks.”
As we reported yesterday, Sen. Stevens (who was badly injured in the 1978 Anchorage airport crash that killed his first wife) was known among air-safety regulators for being “very protective” of his state’s aviators. Peter Goelz, who served as NTSB’s managing director during much of the 1990s, told Declassified that Stevens repeatedly argued that because of his state’s economic dependence on air transportation and its “unique” weather and terrain, regulators ought to make exceptions for aviation in Alaska.
So, the guy argues hard against air safety regulations that aim to stop pilots from taking off and doing dangerous maneuvers (despite the fact that his own first wife died in a plane crash before his very eyes), and this is what he gets. Okay then.
On Thursday as I was walking from work to the subway here in Chicago, I noticed on the CBS2 jumbotron in Daley Plaza that President Obama was at the Chicago Cultural Center. That’s only a block or two past the L station I was heading to, so I just kept going to see what was going on there.
Sure enough, there was a bit of a crowd waiting to catch a glimpse of him. After waiting several minutes two guys wearing white uniforms that I didn’t recognize started waving people down with handheld metal detectors and motioning them through the barricade. I asked a cop what where those people were going and she told me “They’re going through there to see the president of the United States.”
“Well, I suppose I can wait in line for that,” I replied, laughing. So after the security guys looked in my backpack I went into this cordoned off area across the street from the Cultural Center. After another several minutes (okay, more like an hour), Obama came out and waved at the crowd of a few hundred that had assembled for about 30 seconds. Cool. I’ve attached a really low quality video I made with my iPhone. Here are a few photos as well.
This was the fourth time I’ve seen Obama in person, not counting election night in Chicago at the party (since I only saw him on the jumbotron that time). The first two times had been at campaign events in New Hampshire (see my posts with photos here and here– the second one of those has some great closer up photos), and the third time was right after his first press conference as president-elect walking out of the back of the Chicago Hilton.
I noticed two things that I didn’t notice when seeing him before. The first was a guy whose arm was handcuffed to his briefcase– presumably he was the nuclear football carrier (the person who accompanies the president everywhere he or she goes carrying the nuclear launch codes should they be necessary).
The second thing I noticed this time was a cultural observation: everyone had a camera or camera phone. I have difficulty believing that anyone really left home to go there on purpose trying to see him. Instead, everybody was probably just a passerby who saw the police barricades and was curious what was going on. It struck me that these days wherever you go somebody probably has the ability to take a picture of something they think is extraordinary. I find this especially neat from my perspective rooted in documentary film.
Sure enough, after a quick Flickr search, I was able to find some more photos that people had posted from the spur of the moment sighting…
Photo by Flickr user Mark 2400.
Photo by Flickr user ozmodiar.
This item hit store shelves in 1970. Hat tip – Trav.
I am encouraged to read the recent statement made by the Librarian of Congress bolstering and clarifying the fair use doctrine (which lays out exemptions from US copyright law in certain instances).
This is great news for consumers and documentary filmmakers alike. Instead of the overgrown American copyright lobby (MPAA, RIAA, etc) influencing this strengthening clarification, it was consumer advocacy groups like the EFF and documentary filmmakers themselves.
The consumer advocacy groups were arguing for greater control over products they bought and paid for (iPhones and ebooks), and the documentarians were arguing for the right to circumvent copyright protection measures on DVDs in order to sample movies for fair use media criticism. The latter deserves some explanation.
If an author wants to write a book about the history of racism in movies, he or she can simply quote dialog and describe scenes wherein racism is displayed. They don’t need to ask permission from Paramount Pictures to describe the scenes in Breakfast at Tiffany’s where Mickey Rooney shows an astonishingly racist depiction of Asian-Americans. But without the Fair Use Doctrine, a documentary filmmaker making a movie about racism in movies could be sued or even prosecuted for excerpting that snippit.
Since 1976, we’ve had fair use but up until now that didn’t change that you were breaking the law to obtain it in the first place. Unless you’ve got an original 35mm print of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and a $100,000 telecine machine to scan the film you’d probably have to rip a DVD to get access to the video clip you wanted to excerpt. And that’s been illegal, putting documentarians at risk over a technicality. Well, not any more thanks to this clarification. So it’s great news: hopefully we’ll see more fair use in documentaries in the future.
From the NYT obit:
In 2007, at the unveiling of a portrait of Mr. Byrd in the Old Senate Chamber, former Senator Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland, a colleague of 30 years, recalled that Mr. Byrd had taught him how to answer when a constituent asked, “How many presidents have you served under?”
“None,” was Mr. Byrd’s reply, Mr. Sarbanes said. “I have served with presidents, not under them.”
West Virginia's governor, a Democrat, will appoint a temporary successor until a special election can be held to fill out the rest of his term.
Especially after this stunning development in the trial, and the fact that Viacom only intiated its lawsuit against YouTube after it failed to buy it, the news that Viacom has lost their lawsuit is indeed good news.
Naturally, they'll appeal, but c'est la vie with corporate lawsuits.