Daily Archives: September 3, 2008

Murdoch brokered secret truce between Obama and Fox News

Rupert Murdoch helped broker a “tentative truce” between Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and key News Corporation lieutenant Roger Ailes, the boss of Fox News Channel, earlier this year, according to the media mogul’s biographer.

Guardian | Sep 2, 2008

Rupert Murdoch acted as peacemaker between Barack Obama and Fox News

By Oliver Luft

Murdoch, the News Corp chairman and chief executive, was forced to court Obama after the rising star of US politics rebuffed his initial approaches, it is believed because of what he saw as the derogatory coverage of him and his wife, Michelle, on Fox News, according to Michael Wolff.

The News Corp boss also advised Wolff, his biographer, to vote for the man who eventually became the Democratic presidential candidate during the New York primary earlier this year, saying: “He’ll sell more papers.”

These revelations are reported in the October edition of Vanity Fair magazine, which details contributing editor Wolff’s interviews with Rupert Murdoch over a period of nine months for his upcoming biography of the media mogul, The Man Who Owns the News.

After initially snubbing offers of a get-together with the media tycoon, made through the Kennedy family, Obama relented and a secret courtesy meeting with Murdoch was arranged at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York, according to Wolff.

When Obama eventually met Murdoch early this summer in secret, they were joined by Ailes, who runs News Corp’s Fox News Channel.

Wolff reported in Vanity Fair that during the meeting Obama and Murdoch sat knee to knee, with the older man offering the prospective candidate advice.

“Murdoch, for his part, had a simple thought to share with Obama. He had known possibly as many heads of state as anyone living today – had met every American president from Harry Truman on – and this is what he understood: nobody got much time to make an impression. Leadership was about what you did in the first six months,” wrote Wolff.

But Wolff claimed things were different when Ailes took Murdoch’s place.

“Obama lit into Ailes. He said that he didn’t want to waste his time talking to Ailes if Fox was just going to continue to abuse him and his wife, that Fox had relentlessly portrayed him as suspicious, foreign, fearsome – just short of a terrorist,” he wrote.

“Ailes, unruffled, said it might not have been this way if Obama had more willingly come on the air instead of so often giving Fox the back of his hand.

“A tentative truce, which may or may not have vast historical significance, was at that moment agreed upon.”

In the Vanity Fair article Wolff also claimed that Murdoch advised him to vote for Obama during the democratic primaries.

“Just before the New York Democratic primary, when I found myself undecided between Clinton and Obama, I said to Murdoch (a little flirtation, like a little gossip, softens him), ‘Rupert, I don’t know who to vote for – so I’m going to give you my vote. You choose’,” he wrote.

“He paused, considered, nodded his head slowly: ‘Obama – he’ll sell more papers.'”

Murdoch courting Obama marks something of role reversal from the mid-1990s, when UK prime minister-in-waiting Tony Blair actively courted Murdoch as part of his bid for power.

“This is a leap for Murdoch. Murdoch has traditionally liked politicians to come to him. His historic shift in the 1990s to Tony Blair came after Blair made a pilgrimage to Australia,” wrote Wolff.

“Obama, on the other hand, was snubbing Murdoch. Every time he reached out (Murdoch executives tried to get the Kennedys to help smooth the way to an introduction), nothing. The Fox stain was on Murdoch.”

However, the “Fox stain”, as Wolff calls it, does not appear to be one that Murdoch is so comfortable with any more.

Wolff wrote that the influence of Murdoch’s wife Wendi and the courting of more liberal figures in the media has raised a conflict in the News Corp founder, as he would love to build on his purchase of the Wall Street Journal by taking over the New York Times.

“He is spending time now in consideration of an even more far-fetched fantasy, the New York Times: he’d really like to own it too,” Wolff added.

“Now, everybody around him continues to tell him that buying the Times is pretty much impossible. There will be regulatory problems. The Sulzberger family would never … And then there’s the opprobrium of public opinion.

“But it’s obviously irresistible to him. I’ve watched him go through the numbers, plot out a merger with the Journal’s backroom operations, and fantasise about the staff’s quitting en masse as soon as he entered the sacred temple.”

This increasing desire to move for titles away from his traditional right-of-centre political power base is mirrored by a cooling toward Fox News Channel, according to Wolff.

“It’s life with Wendi versus life with Fox. (And, too, it’s the Wall Street Journal – and maybe the New York Times – versus Fox),” he wrote in Vanity Fair.

“Fox has been his alter ego. For a long time he was in love with the Fox chief, Roger Ailes, because he was even more Murdoch than Murdoch. And yet now the embarrassment can’t be missed – he mumbles even more than usual when called on to justify it; he barely pretends to hide the way he feels about [Fox presenter] Bill O’Reilly.

“And while it is not possible that he would give Fox up – because the money is the money; success trumps all – in the larger sense of who he is, he seems to want to hedge his bets.”


Another Weatherman terrorist a player in Obama campaign
Communists, socialists, anarchists also part of political organization

Town Residents Protest Police Taser Abuse

KOMU | Aug 29, 2008

by Brandon Lewis

COLUMBIA – Dozens of Moberly residents protested the death of Stanley Harlan Firday night.

Moberly police Tased Harlan twice two nights ago after they say he resisted arrest. But protesters have a different story. They say Moberly officers used excessive force and do so frequently.

They call Harlan’s death the final straw and say some form of disciplinary action needs to be taken.

“I want the brutality, excessive force, the harassment, that the Moberly Police Department puts on these young people to come to an end,” said mother Anthena Bachteo.

“I just want him home, I just want him to go home,” said Bachteo.

In a phone interview tonight, Police Commander Kevin Palmatory says the excessive force accusations in the Harlan case are false.

The investigation is now in the hands of the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Surveillance Society Sparks Psychosis

People think they are being watched…

Wired | Aug 29, 2008

By Kim Zetter

If you think someone is watching you, you’re probably right. But this doesn’t mean you’re not also crazy, according to psychiatrists who say that our surveillance and reality TV society is spawning a new kind of psychosis. They’re calling it the Truman Show delusion.

Psychiatrists in the U.S. and Britain say they’re seeing a growing number of psychotic patients who are paranoid that cameras are watching their every move.

Not sure why they might think this.

Others fear the World Wide Web is monitoring their lives or being used to transmit photographs or personal information.

The psychiatrists say such patients are often mirroring — albeit, to an extreme — what is occurring in the environment around them.

One way of looking at the delusions and hallucinations of the mentally ill is that they represent extreme cases of what the general population, or the merely neurotic, are worried about. Schizophrenics and other paranoid patients can take common fears – like identity theft because of information transmitted on the Internet, or the loss of privacy because of the prevalence of security cameras to fight crime – and magnify them, psychiatrists say.

Which would seem to suggest that these patients might not be so delusional after all.

‘Smart’ surveillance systems to be set up in Pennsylvania cities

Allegheny County Emergency Services chief Bob Full (back right) explains the Emergency Management Visualization System to Sen. Arlen Specter (second from right) Friday in the courtyard of the Allegheny County Courthouse, Downtown. James Knox/Tribune-Review

Beware: Allegheny County is planning to keep an electronic eye out for you.

“The cameras work best when everyone knows they are being watched.”

TRIBUNE-REVIEW | Aug 30, 2008

By Mark Houser

County Emergency Services Chief Bob Full said Friday that $750,000 in a pending federal appropriations bill would help pay for as many as 40 remote-controlled cameras to watch for crimes and monitor emergencies.

“We want to keep (criminals) guessing, but we want them to also know that we are watching them in critical areas,” he said.

Cameras could be moved as needed and would be monitored and controlled from the department’s Point Breeze headquarters, Full said. Images could be relayed to police officers responding to an incident and shown on their in-car computers, he said.

The planned system will include 64 cameras the county already has, as well as 64 sensors that sniff the air for traces of chemicals and radioactive materials.

The closed-circuit wireless surveillance network could include microphones that detect the sound of a gunshot and alert dispatchers, said Sen. Arlen Specter. He said images caught by cameras would be an aid in prosecuting crimes.

“A picture is worth a thousand lawyers,” Specter said.

In all, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved more than $2 million for police surveillance in Pennsylvania. Besides the county money, the funding bill includes $250,000 to put 53 cameras in Pittsburgh, and similar projects for cameras in Allentown, Williamsport and York.

The bill must pass the full Senate and be signed into law before any money is available. The county has budgeted $250,000 for the project, Full said, and he is seeking additional money to expand the system’s capabilities.

Philadelphia is building a $10 million surveillance network with 250 cameras that the city hopes to have operating by the end of the year.

A 2006 pilot project there led to a 13 percent reduction in crime overall in the areas under surveillance, according to a Temple University study.

The cameras work best when everyone knows they are being watched, said the study’s author, Jerry Ratcliffe.

“If you make (criminals) move to another location, it’s often a worse location for committing crime, so that’s a good thing,” Ratcliffe said.

Full said the planned surveillance system, to be built by August Systems of Morgantown, W.Va., eventually could include security cameras owned by universities, PennDOT and private companies.

“It is scalable, and it can grow. And this is what we need to do in the future: We need to use technology as our best defense,” Full said.

Deputies taser mentally ill inmate twice in court

Associated Press | Aug 30, 2008

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) – Broward County deputies shocked a mentally ill inmate with Tasers in court after the man asked deputies for a few minutes to catch his breath before he was led from the courtroom.

Assistant Public Defender Anne LeMaster said deputies told 22-year-old inmate David Jones it was time to go Friday. When he resisted, they shocked him twice. Jones had just been found mentally incapable to stand trial and was ordered transferred to a state mental hospital.

The public defender’s office says the deputies used excessive force and filed a complaint with the Broward Sheriff’s Office. Jones was handcuffed and shackled.

The sheriff’s office says they will investigate

Clones’ offspring “may have” entered the US food supply

Reuters | Sep 2, 2008

By Christopher Doering

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Food and milk from the offspring of cloned animals may have entered the U.S. food supply, the U.S. government said on Tuesday, but it would be impossible to know because there is no difference between cloned and conventional products [according to the FDA].

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in January meat and milk from cloned cattle, swine and goats and their offspring were as safe as products from traditional animals. Before then, farmers and ranchers had followed a voluntary moratorium on the sale of clones and their offspring.

While the FDA evaluated the safety of food from clones and their offspring, the U.S. Agriculture Department was in charge of managing the transition of these animals into the food supply.

“It is theoretically possible” offspring from clones are in the food supply, said Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokeswoman.

Cloning animals involves taking the nuclei of cells from adults and fusing them into egg cells that are implanted into a surrogate mother. There are an estimated 600 cloned animals in the United States.

Proponents, including the Biotechnology Industry Organization, say cloning is a way to create more disease-resistant animals that produce more milk and better meat. The cloning industry and the FDA say cloned animals and their offspring are as safe as their traditional counterparts.

Critics contend not enough is known about the technology to ensure it is safe, and they also say the FDA needs to address concerns over animal cruelty and ethical issues.

“It worries me that this technology is out of control in so many ways,” said Charles Margulis, a spokesman with the Center for Environmental Health. The possibility of offspring being in the food supply “is just another element of that,” he said.


Thai government tries to shut down 400 websites

Guardian | Sep 3, 2008

By Oliver Luft
Thailand’s Information and Communications Technology Ministry sought court orders yesterday to shut down about 400 websites and advised internet service providers to block 1,200 sites it considers a danger to national security or disturbing social order.

ICT minister Mun Patanotai said the department had advised ISPs to immediately block these websites, which it claimed were detected between March and August this year, and had sought court actions against them under article 20 of Thailand’s Computer Crime Act.

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that the ministry claimed the sites “disturbed the peaceful social order and morality of the people, and/or which were considered detrimental to national security”.

This move to shut down online dissent follows the Thai authorities’ declaration of a state of emergency yesterday as thousands of demonstrators took to the streets to demand the government’s resignation.

Thai prime minister, Samak Sundaravej, announced sweeping curbs to civil liberties to maintain calm, after which the ICT Ministry said it had detected more than 1,200 websites that violated the Computer Crime Act.

In addition, a Thai court issued three orders to shut down about 400 websites, 344 of which, it claimed, carried material that was contemptuous of the country’s royal family. The other blocked websites included two with religious content, one video sex game and five sites deemed to carry obscene content.

The ICT ministry, the Bangkok Post reported, also sought help from the police to “bring all the violators to trial”.

Samak gave the army power to restore order on the streets of Bangkok yesterday after fighting started between his supporters and those demanding he quit.

One demonstrator was killed and dozens were injured during the worst violence seen since anti-government campaigns began in May.

The present crisis started just over a week ago as members of the People’s Alliance for Democracy took over government buildings in an attempt to try to force the Thai government to stand down.