If you don't know who Edward Snowden is, you have likely been locked in a dark room with a blindfold and earplugs on for the last month.
The former CIA employee-turned whistle blower is on standby waiting to hear from Iceland whether he will be given asylum
But the latest news in the endlessly interesting "the government is spying on us" story is the release of classified documents that detail the rules the NSA has for surveillance without a warrant.
The Washington Post published a story that not only describes the documents but has the documents right there for all the world to see.
They are Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act documents signed by Attorney General Eric Holder detailing rules for targeting foreigners and data collection.
Following everything about this data-mining and government spying has been interesting on a lot of levels. Finding out the "truth" about how closely the public is watched and realizing that the conspiracy theorists have been right seems to have blown the American people's minds. But I wonder how surprised we should really be? I hear people complaining about the private companies providing information to the government, and I am not thrilled about it myself, but in an age of oversharing online and everything being trackable and digital, I can't say I am at all surprised the government is watching. I may be mad, but I'm not surprised. I can't wait to see what unfolds next.
This is not a new concept, but the issues are getting more and more relevant as more and more interaction exists online. "What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas" can be adapted to say "What Happens on the Internet Stays on the Internet. Forever."
In the article, reporter Mary Callahan talks about a new industry of online reputation management. She writes:
There's something at stake for virtually everyone — whether it's job prospects, college admissions, a competitive market edge, the promise of romance or a professional reputation.
This has never been more true than today. And privacy, whatever is left of it, is something people should hold close.
The California Senate believes this to be true, particularly for youth. The Senate passed a bill unanimously trying to protect children from themselves. But how can we when we all know that part of being a kid is outdoing your peers and not really thinking of the consequences?
Guy Kovner of the Press Democrat wrote:
Privacy advocates hailed the bill, which includes a requirement that social media sites provide a so-called "eraser button" allowing minors under 18 to remove their own ill-advised postings.
"Too often a teenager will post an inappropriate picture or statement that in the moment seems frivolous or fun, but that they later regret," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, the bill's author, in a written statement.
In Callahan's article, Kerry Rego, a social media maven and technology consultant reminds us that once something is out there, it can't be gotten back.
But how can you teach a teenager that anything they put out there could potentially follow them for the rest of their life? That a seemingly innocent photo of themselves could prevent them from getting into college? I guess the legislature is trying, but I am not sure it will help. As Dane Jasper, CEO of Sonic.net said in Kovner's article, you can delete a posting, but if someone downloaded it before you got to it, it is out there forever. "You are closing the barn door after the horse is out."
Let’s get this straight—just for riding a bike less than three miles, one can obtain a $20 gift certificate to a top notch San Francisco bakery and restaurant opening a new location in Santa Rosa? Now, does anyone have a helmet?
The “mother dough” culture, which reportedly gives San Francisco’s Boudin sourdough bread the legendary flavor it’s packed with, is heading up to the restaurant’s new Montgomery Village location tomorrow, June 18. It’s leaving the Rincon Valley Library at 9:30am to be safely locked away in the new space, less than three miles away. Anyone wishing to participate in this bike ride, from the beginning, middle or end, gets a $20 gift certificate. Well, the first 100 cyclists, anyway. But considering it’s a Tuesday, the middle of the morning, in Rincon Valley, chances are high to get in on the delicious, free action.
The new restaurant opens July 11 at 2345 Midway Dr., Santa Rosa. Progress is already quite visible from Farmer’s Lane on the new space.
The Cloverdale Reveille has changed hands, according to a link on its landing page. (Which takes you to a story on Facebook, for some reason.)
The paper, owned by the Hanchett family since 1988, "will now be owned by Sonoma West Publishers, owners of The Healdsburg Tribune, Windsor Times and Sonoma West Times and News.
The new publisher and owner will be Rollie Atkinson and his wife Sarah Bradbury. Atkinson has worked at The Healdsburg Tribune since 1982, assuming ownership in 2000," according to the story published this morning.
Kind of a funny note: The tagline on the homepage says "weekly since 1878" but a scrolling "ad" about the paper says "serving Cloverdale since 1879."
I guess they were just there for a year and then started serving Cloverdale.
Online news sites like the Huffington Post, Politico, Patch and Salon have gained popularity and shifted the way people get their news. Newspapers have gotten smaller and there are fewer subscribers. But is it because people don't want papers? Or just that there isn't as much money in them and the content is declining?
Last year, New Orleans became the largest U.S. city to not have a daily paper. The Times-Picayune became a three-per-week publication with more focus on the online content. That apparently is not what people want. In an article in the New York Times, reporter David Carr noted the publisher decided to bring back the paper as a daily because of the public engagement. Also, the Philadelphia Inquirer is set to publish again; though only on Saturdays.
Now it is debatable, apparently, whether the method in which New Orleans' paper is being distributed is a good one. Says Carr:
On Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays, a broadsheet called The Times-Picayune will be available for home delivery and on the newsstands for 75 cents. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, a tabloid called TPStreet will be available only on newsstands for 75 cents.
In addition, a special electronic edition of TPStreet will be available to the three-day subscribers of the home-delivered newspaper. On Saturdays, there will be early print editions of the Sunday Times-Picayune with some breaking news and some Sunday content.
But the public demanded it and they listened.
When I went to J School, everyone I knew said I was studying a dying industry. After all, "Newspaper Reporter" is apparently the worst job out there.
I always argued it was reporting I was studying, not newspaper reporting. And I figured no matter what, there would be a medium for the message. I am sure there will be a day when print is dead—environmentally speaking, it certainly makes more sense to have news delivered electronically. But apparently even today, people argue for print. And while I am a news junkie and look at it online constantly, there is nothing like a cup of coffee and the Sunday New York Times—in print—to make me happy.
While politicians like Michele Bachmann and Anthony Weiner are taking the press into their own hands, effectively making press conferences irrelevant, Attorney General Eric Holder and the DOJ are attacking reporters from another direction, approving search warrants, signing subpoenas and collecting phone records. Oh yeah, and the NSA is wiretapping, well, everyone, in what the ACLU is referring to "beyond Orwellian."
Meanwhile, Congress and "our beloved president" are arguing about whether this stuff really matters. And claiming it has been done with "congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate."
Is the government saying they don't want a free press and they don't care whether everyone's information everywhere is up for surveillance? It certainly seems so. It used to be when a politician had something to announce, they called a press conference where journalists would gather, listen to their statements, and then ask questions. Of course, a journalist could ask any sort of question, making the politician have to face things he or she may not want out there, but they are elected officials, are they not? They should be held responsible for what they do.
Oh yeah, there also used to be this thing called privacy, where one could assume they weren't being looked down upon by the overlords. The whole communication system has allowed for global expansion, technological breakthroughs and many other incredible things. And it has made the world smaller, and a place where it is much easier to track what anyone does, anytime, anywhere.
This time, the conspiracy theorists were right. And I'm not surprised.
I don’t eat octopus. It has a lot to do with respect. If I were less hypocritical, I would probably not eat any meat, even fish. But no, I have standards. An animal has to impress me somehow in order to stay off my plate. There are too many reasons to list why octopus meets this criteria for me, but they are damn smart, adaptable to any situation, can communicate with sudden changes in color, mimic other animals, can crush far more than its body weight, etc.
This kid (I believe he’s speaking Portuguese) doesn’t want to eat his octopus. Not because the taste, but because it’s a living creature. He then launches into a beautiful and articulate diatribe about why he doesn’t want to eat animals, and even makes his mom cry. The weirdest part is he looks a little bit like me as a kid.
Turns out all those people who put money into pork futures were right, after all. Today it was announced that Chinese company Shuanghui will buy Smithfield, one of America's largest pork producers, for $34 per share, about 30 percent above its closing share price yesterday. Reports on the value of the deal vary; some report it as $4.7 billion, some say it's $7.1 billion. Either way, this is the largest takeover of an American company by a Chinese company.
There are concerns on this deal, naturally. Shuanghui was embroiled in a tainted meat scandal two years ago in China, but the companies say this deal will primarily focus on exporting American pork to China. Shuangui says it also hopes to learn more about the United States food safety processes. China is the world's biggest pork market.
So, it seems the only thing we don't get from China these days is pork, retaining it as a part of our American heritage. And now they're taking our pork. It's easy to say this is a win for the overall health of Americans, a blow to the "obesity epidemic," as it were. But bacon isn't to blame, it's the maple coating on the bacon, the chocolate bar in which the bacon is mixed, the 1,400-calorie burger on which it sits that is the real culprit. Only time will tell how this deal plays out.
Smithfield says it's keeping its operations in the U.S., which is good for its 46,000 employees. The headquarters will remain in Virginia and no facilities will close, says Smithfield. For now, at least, it's only the profits that will be leaving.
Anyone who goes near the internet or a television has at least heard of the Cotati police who kicked the door down at James and Jennifer Woods' house after being called on a domestic disturbance charge and tased Jennifer.
Crime reporter for the Press Democrat Julie Johnson wrote a story about the video going viral, and a follow-up that went a little more in depth about the incident and addressed the use of tasers.
All of these things are relevant and worth discussing. The video undoubtedly produces a visceral reaction—cops kicking in doors, a lot of yelling, a woman screaming before, during and after her tasing experience and the man with her who shot the video and who was yelling back and forth with the cops about not coming in.
Yet whatever one's thoughts are about cops, when they are called on a domestic disturbance, they are required to check to make sure there is nothing abusive or salacious going on.
I also want to state clearly that I am not justifying in any way this particular situation or the police's action. I am not a police apologist, I have in fact participated in Cop Watch and am very skeptical about a lot of things police-related.
But in terms of the viral video and the media issues surrounding it, my mind quickly went to ask questions about what had happened first. Why were the police there? Why was the man in the house yelling at them to go away? What was actually going on? And until there was some reporting done, and some questions were answered, what I saw was a man yelling at police who seemed to think it was very important to get into the house and used force to do so and then responded to the screaming woman by tasing her.
Certainly there are corrupt police who take advantage of their power. In my poking around into this situation, it is pretty clear this officer doesn't have the best track record. But what interested me about this was my instantaneous negative reaction of a clip of a situation. It reminded me that in addition to "just the facts" the media needs to provide context and some analysis of a situation to create understanding. Understanding about what happened as well as understanding as to how to prevent it from happening again.