CityBeat Blogs - Internet http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-34-86.html <![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

After 18 months in the courts, Democrat Tracie Hunter has won a Hamilton County Juvenile Court judgeship, but a GOP challenge to the court's acceptance of Hunter's challenge is likely to follow. Republican John Williams led hunter by 23 votes on election night 2010, but Hunter filed a lawsuit over provisional ballots cast at incorrect polling stations that weren't counted. After a recount of 286 provisional ballots, Hunter moved ahead by 74 votes. Republican board of election members reportedly plan to argue that the 286 should not have been recounted.

The Enquirer's Mark Curnutte today offered an analysis of recently released census data that shows a steady growth of the regional Hispanic population and a growth of minority population in areas outside the city that were once largely white. Cincinnati's data suggests that the city and region are slightly different than the nation's overall trend, which in 2011 for the first time found a majority of the country's under 1-year-old population minority (50.4 percent), up from 49.5 percent in 2010.

Included in The Enquirer's story, which included a profile of a Mexican-American Florence family that moved to Northern Kentucky eight years ago from Los Angeles:

A decrease of 1.3 percentage points in Hamilton County’s black population under 5 was countered by increases in the black population under 5 in each of the region’s six other core counties: Butler, Clermont and Warren in Ohio and Boone, Campbell and Kenton in Kentucky.

Overall, the regional population of Hispanic children under 5 years rose from 7,583 in 2010 to 8,032 in 2011, a proportional increase of 0.4 percentage points to 6.1 percent.

The family of a teenager fatally shot by a Cincinnati police officer on Fountain Square last summer has filed a federal lawsuit alleging police used excessive force and violated 16-year-old Davon Mullins' constitutional rights. Police say Mullins pulled a handgun, but the lawsuit says he had been disarmed before officer Oscar Cyranek shot him multiple times.

Cincinnati's Bike Month revelers and Over-the-Rhine residents received some good news this week when Reser Bicycle Outfitters announced the opening of an OTR location. The store could open by June 1 in the 1400 block of Vine Street.

Legislation regulating ownership and breeding of exotic animals has been approved by the Ohio House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, 17-4. Senate Bill 310 could get through the full House and Senate next week and be signed by Gov. John Kasich soon afterward. The ban on the acquisition, sale and breeding of certain species would take affect 90 days later.

Europe is preparing for Greece to completely duck out of the Eurozone. The world markets are feeling the pressure.

Mitt Romney has released his first general election TV ad. And he's giving cookies to the media.

Former Senator John Edwards will learn his fate today, as a jury was set to deliberate this morning on charges that Edwards used campaign funds to conceal an affair during his run for president.

More than 200 pages of documents, photos and audio recordings were released yesterday offering further details about what happened the night George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

The documents include an FBI audio analysis of the 911 call placed by a resident that captured yells and screams. Two FBI examiners said they could not determine whether it was Martin or Zimmerman yelling because of the poor quality of the recording and the "extreme emotional state" of screamer.

The AP is live-blogging Facebook's stock market debut. Why does Bono have so much Facebook?

Cell phone maker Nokia has accused Apple of programming bias into its interactive Siri voice search by making it answer the question “What is the best smartphone ever?” by stating “"Wait... there are other phones?" The answer had apparently previously been “Nokia's Lumia 900.” Apple won't say whether or not it changed Siri's answer after finding the glitch.

A new study suggests that nighttime fasting can go a long way toward keeping you slim even if you eat bad stuff during the day.

Scientists have found a car-sized turtle shell.

The private space launch is scheduled for 4:55 a.m. Saturday, and there will be alcohol involved.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> Cincinnati's streetcar project manager told City Council Monday that top level officials from the city and Duke Energy are continuing negotiations on who should pay for the relocation of underground utilities for the project. Chris Eilerman, an assistant to the city manager, called the discussions “fruitful.” City officials say some of the cost should fall to Duke as some of the pipes and wiring are old and will need to be eventually replaced regardless of the streetcar project. A CityBeat review of streetcar projects in other cities found that utility companies often paid the entire cost for relocation.

About 55 percent of hospitals think they will experience a drop in revenue because of federal health-care reform, according to a new survey. Twelve percent anticipate an increase in revenue and 28 percent don’t know what to expect, according to research by Woburn, a Massachusetts-based benefits consulting firm. The Business Courier reports that Greater Cincinnati hospitals are taking steps to make the best of the reform including forming tight networks with physicians and other providers in order to pursue quality-improvement initiatives the government is promoting.

Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig told City Council that some violent crime is the result of lack of parental involvement in their children's lives. At a special council session Monday evening to discuss a recent spike in shootings, Craig said each homicide costs a community millions of dollars in various expenses, so it's in everyone's best interests to try to reduce the crimes.

Ohio's tax-credit program for film production has helped create work for thousands of people, and sparked millions of dollars in economic impact, according to a new study. The report, compiled by the Center for Economic Development at Cleveland State University, estimates that each dollar of state tax breaks results in $1.20 in economic impact. The tax credits have cost the state some $30 million so far, the study reports. The film industry has created more than 9,000 temporary jobs and more than 1,100 full-time jobs in the Buckeye State since 2009.

ESPN will shoot a TV commercial promoting its popular College GameDay football show at a campus selected by fans based on online voting. Every college with a Division I football team is eligible to compete for the honor, and the University of Cincinnati is encouraging its fans to participate. Voting in the contest began Monday, and can be done here.

In news elsewhere, Republican presidential primaries are being held today in New York, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island. A total of 228 delegates are at stake, although frontrunner and presumptive nominee Willard Mitt Romney is expected to easily win the primaries. Of the five states, only Pennsylvania is considered as a swing state that could go either way in November's general election.

Facebook's stunning growth might be starting to cool a little. The social media company reported its first quarter-to-quarter revenue decline in at least two years as it prepares to go public in the largest ever Internet IPO. Net income slid 12 percent to $205 million in the quarter, from $233 million a year earlier, which executives blamed on seasonal advertising trends. Facebook is preparing to raise at least $5 billion in an initial public offering that could value the world's largest social network at up to $100 billion.

A nonpartisan group that advocates for open government has filed an IRS complaint against a secretive conservative group, alleging it is falsely claiming tax-exempt status while doing widespread lobbying. Common Cause filed the complaint Monday against the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has pushed for voter ID and “stand your ground” laws, among many other efforts. "It tells the IRS in its tax returns that it does no lobbying, yet it exists to pass profit-driven legislation in statehouses all over the country that benefits its corporate members," said Bob Edgar, president of Common Cause. The group wants an audit of ALEC's work, penalties and the payment of back taxes.

The net flow of Mexicans into the United States has dwindled to a trickle and may now be in reverse, according to a survey by the Pew Hispanic Center. From 2005-10, about 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the U.S., exactly the same number of Mexican immigrants and their US-born children who quit America and moved back or were deported to Mexico. By contrast, in the previous five years, about 3million Mexicans came to the U.S. and fewer than 700,000 left it. Poor economic conditions and an increase in border patrols are being credited with the reversal.

Israel has approved three settlements in the occupied West Bank, the office of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said in a statement. At a meeting late on Monday, a ministerial committee "decided to formalize the status of three communities which were established in the 1990s following the decisions of past governments," the statement said. The formal approval was criticized by Palestinians, who said it's another impediment to peace talks about contested land.
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<![CDATA[Historic Burial Records Placed Online]]>

Newly restored digital copies of 73-year-old maps detailing where U.S military veterans are buried throughout Hamilton County will be unveiled Wednesday.

 

The Hamilton County Recorder’s Office recently received map books dating to 1939 that were thought to have been destroyed. Created by the Works Progress Administration, the map books register the burial location of every veteran in the county who had served dating back to the Revolutionary War.

 

The maps list details about area veterans who served in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the War with Mexico, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War and World War I.

 

Eventually, the records were transferred to microfiche between the 1950s and ‘70s, and the map books were given to a local resident. The filmed copies began degrading over time and are of poor quality, causing problems for historians, genealogical researchers and others who tried to use them.

 

A member of the Ohio Genealogical Society ultimately acquired the original copies of the map books and presented them to the Recorder’s Office in February. Since that time, the office has worked to transfer the images to a digital format and enhance their quality. All of the images now are available on the Recorder’s Office website.

 

County Recorder Wayne Coates will unveil the newly restored records at 2 p.m. Wednesday. The event will be held in Room 205 of the County Administration Building, located at 138 E. Court St., downtown.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> At the risk of alienating some readers, we have to say it: If you don't know that today is Opening Day, you're not a real Cincinnatian. The 93rd annual Findlay Market Opening Day Parade begins at 1 p.m., and the Reds will kick off the 2012 season with a game against the Miami Marlins at 4:05 p.m.

Hamilton County commissioners want to help you enjoy the day if you're heading downtown to catch either or both of the events. They've lowered the parking rates today at the garages in The Banks district near Great American Ball Park. There are now 6,000 parking spaces near the stadium that will cost $10 for the day, down from $12 last year.

Just in time for the season opener, first baseman Joey Votto has agreed to a $251.5 million, 12-year deal with the Reds, the longest guaranteed contract in Major League history. The deal adds $225 million over 10 years to his previous contract and includes a club option for 2024, when the 2010 National League MVP turns 41.

Shortly after an independent assessment criticized her performance in the job, Hamilton County Public Defender Shelia Kyle-Reno has reached a deal to leave the position nearly a year before her contract ends. Until a permanent successor is found, Kyle-Reno will be replaced by W. Kelly Johnson, a former federal public defender who will work for free.

A recount is under way this morning to see which Democrat will challenge Brad Wenstrup for U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt's seat in Congress. For now, the winner of the 2nd District Democratic primary is William Smith, a Pike County man that party leaders had never even met before he beat David Krikorian by 60 votes. Because the margin of victory was so small, Ohio's Secretary of State ordered a recount in 13 of Hamilton County's 222 precincts.

In news elsewhere, a new poll finds Google beats out Apple Computer in favorable ratings by 82 to 74 percent. The Washington Post-ABC News poll also found Facebook has a 58 percent favorable rating.

An important historical document has recently been uncovered and released. In 2006 an adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice authored a memo opposing the Bush administration’s torture practices. The White House tried to collect and destroy all copies of the memo, but one survived deep in the State Department’s files and was declassified this week in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the National Security Archive. The memo argues that the Convention Against Torture, and the Constitution’s prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment, do indeed apply to the CIA’s use of “waterboard(ing), walling, dousing, stress positions, and cramped confinement.”

Syrian troops have launched new assaults on rebels as an envoy of United Nations mediator Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus today to discuss implementing a ceasefire plan. Anti-government activists said several towns, including Homs, Deraa and the Douma suburb of Damascus, have been shelled. U.N. officials report the conflict has cost more than 9,000 lives since it began a year ago. The Syrian government blames violence on "terrorist gangs" and allege about 3,000 members of the security forces have been killed. The U.N. wants a truce deal by April 12.

A major Chinese insurance company said it will stop indemnity coverage for tankers carrying Iranian oil beginning in July, narrowing insurance options for Iran's main export that already are constricted by economic sanctions pushed by the United States. This is the first sign that refiners in China, Iran's top crude oil buyer, may struggle to obtain the shipping and insurance to keep importing from the Middle Eastern nation. Iran's other top customers -- India, Japan and South Korea -- are facing similar problems.

In lighter fare, an animal rights group is urging a pastor who preaches about the importance of marital sex to teach about how becoming vegan can add extra spark to the faithful's sex lives. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) told The Rev. Mike Scruggs that vegans are less prone to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity than meat-eaters, and they often have more stamina, lower body weight, and a reduced risk of sexual dysfunction. People who choose vegan meals are also following God's call to mercy, PETA added, as plant-based meals save animals from immense suffering on factory farms and in slaughterhouses.
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<![CDATA[Enquirer's Opinion Editor Takes Buyout]]>

(**UPDATE AT BOTTOM)

The Enquirer’s sole remaining editorial writer is among the employees who will be departing the newspaper as part of a round of “early retirement” buyouts.

Executives accepted the buyout application submitted by Ray Cooklis, the newspaper’s editorial page editor, multiple sources have confirmed. Cooklis assumed control of The Enquirer’s Op/Ed pages in July 2009 when his predecessor, David Wells, was laid off.

Cooklis, who also is a classically trained pianist and previously served as a music critic, didn’t respond to an email this morning seeking comment.

In recent months, the daily newspaper has been criticized in journalism circles and on some blogs for only publishing one original, locally produced editorial a week, so it’s unclear what impact Cooklis’ departure will have.

Sources say others who are leaving The Enquirer include Features Editor Dave Caudill; photographer Glenn Hartong; reporter Steve Kemme, who covers eastern Hamilton County; Copy Desk Chief Sue Lancaster; Bill Thompson, a sports copy editor and occasional music critic; and Copy Editor Tim Vondebrink.

CityBeat confirmed Tuesday that political columnist Howard Wilkinson and longtime photographer Michael Keating also were leaving the newspaper.

The Gannett Co., The Enquirer’s corporate owner, announced the buyout offer Feb. 9 and gave employees 45 days to decide whether to apply for the deal.

Under the deal, newspaper employees who are age 56 or older and have at least 20 years of service with Gannett as of March 31 are eligible. The Enquirer’s goal is to eliminate 26 positions through the buyouts, sources said.

As part of reductions mandated by Gannett, The Enquirer has laid off about 150 workers during the past two years. Also, employees have had to take five unpaid furloughs during the past three years.

Of the departures announced so far, Cooklis’ resignation could have the most immediate impact for readers.

Some progressive voices in Cincinnati dislike Cooklis because he is ardently right-wing in his opinions; they believe he too frequently blasted Democratic politicians, while turning a blind eye to excesses by their Republican counterparts and local corporations. Further, Cooklis lacked the courage to criticize some of the people and institutions that are among The Enquirer's many sacred cows, they added.

Still, Cooklis’ departure is a bad omen for local news, with some media observers worried that it means The Enquirer has abandoned its First Amendment duty to hold powerful people accountable for their deeds.

Virginia-based Gannett also owns USA Today, more than 100 newspapers nationwide and 23 TV stations.


(**UPDATE: Glenn Hartong is not taking the buyout. Despite some sources at The Enquirer saying that he was, Hartong is only 51 years old and, thus, ineligible.)

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<![CDATA[Wilkinson, Keating Leave The Enquirer]]>

Political columnist Howard Wilkinson and longtime photographer Michael Keating are among the 26 employees who are leaving The Enquirer as part of a buyout deal.

This week was the deadline for editors at the newspaper to decide whether to accept voluntary “early retirement” buyouts from employees. Although
The Enquirer hasn’t released any details, current and former co-workers of Wilkinson and Keating have begun discussing their departures and posting their well wishes on social media sites.

So far,
CityBeat’s emails sent this morning seeking comment haven’t been returned.

Gregory Korte, an ex-City Hall reporter at
The Enquirer who now works at USA Today, posted, “I grew up reading Howard Wilkinson's politics column in the Cincinnati Enquirer. It's one of the reasons I got into this business, and I was delighted to work and learn alongside him for so long. And Michael E. Keating? The best political photographer I've ever worked with — he could turn a podium shot into pure art. A real reporter's photographer. Now they're both taking a buyout and retiring. The Enquirer has done just fine without me, but I can't imagine it without these two.”

Another former
Enquirer reporter, Ben Fischer, posted, “Howard Wilkinson you're one of the all-time greats. And that goes for baseball fandom, general good guys AND political reporters. Everybody's going to miss your prose and insights this election season.”

Wilkinson confirmed the news on Facebook, adding, “Thanks to one an all. It's been a great ride. But you haven't heard the last from me ... or Michael either... Michael and I were a team; and got to see and do some amazing things over the years. I will always be grateful for that.”

The Gannett Co.,
The Enquirer’s corporate owner, announced the buyout offer Feb. 9 and gave employees 45 days to decide whether to apply for the deal.

At the close of the offer period, editors reviewed applications and made final decisions; some people who apply for the deal potentially could've been turned down if their position is deemed essential to the newspaper’s operation.

Under the deal, newspaper employees who are age 56 or older and have at least 20 years of service with Gannett as of March 31 are eligible. Although executives said 785 employees meet the criteria, the deal only is being offered to 665 employees “due to ongoing operational needs at the company.”

Sources at
The Enquirer say executives are looking to shed 26 employees at Cincinnati’s only remaining daily newspaper. It is believed that 19 of the positions will come from the newsroom, while six people will be affected in the advertising department, and one person in the online/digital content department.

As part of reductions mandated by Gannett,
The Enquirer has laid off about 150 workers during the past two years. Also, employees have had to take five unpaid furloughs during the past three years.

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<![CDATA[Survey: Gen Y Benefits, Suffers From Tech]]>

A survey of more than 1,000 technology experts, critics and students has revealed a split about how the Internet and other technological advances are affecting “Generation Y.”

The Pew Research Center’s survey, released today, found a majority of respondents believed the technology would create a generation of nimble decision-makers, while almost as many feared it would cause young people to become easily distracted and lack deep thinking skills.

Wait. What were we talking about?

The survey found 55 percent of respondents agreed with a statement that “in 2020 the brains of young people would be ‘wired’ differently from those over 35, with good results for finding answers quickly and without shortcomings in their mental processes."

But it also found 45 percent who agreed with a second statement “in 2020 young technology users would be easily distracted, would lack deep thinking skills and would thirst only for instant gratification.”

“A number of the survey respondents argued that it is vital to reform education and emphasize digital literacy,” a Pew summary stated. “A notable number expressed concerns that trends are leading to a future in which most people are shallow consumers of information, and some mentioned George Orwell’s 1984 or expressed their fears of control by powerful interests in an age of entertaining distractions.”

Generation Y, also known as the Millennial Generation, are generally considered to be composed of people born between the late 1970s and the early '90s.

Pew’s online survey questioned 1,021 people involved with technology and was conducted from Aug. 28 to Oct. 31, 2011, as part of Pew's ongoing project on the Internet and American life.

Respondents included industry insiders like Bruce Nordman, a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Hal Varian, Google's top economist, along with university and high school students.

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> About 75,000 workers in Greater Cincinnati don't have insurance coverage for contraceptives, The Enquirer reports. Most of those who don't are employed by hospital systems connected to the Catholic Church or religiously affiliated universities, which try to adhere to the church's stance against using birth control. Still, as reporter Cliff Peale writes, “They follow the Catholic directives first, but also have set up financial models that depend on millions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid and federal student aid programs, and employees who might very well be non-Catholics.” In other words, they want federal largesse, they just don't want to follow federal rules.

Dick Costolo, the CEO of Twitter, will be one of the speakers next week at Procter & Gamble's digital marketing summit. The event, known as Signal P&G, will be held March 8 at the corporation's downtown headquarters. About 20 executives will participate in the summit, which will feature a full day of case studies and one-on-one interviews with industry leaders.

If you live within Cincinnati's city limits, your day for garbage pickup might be changing. Beginning March 5, some trash collection routes will change, which means the day of the week when garbage and recycling are collected will be affected in some neighborhoods. Check this website for more details.

The Cincinnati Board of Education announced today that it wants to renew the contract of Mary Ronan, who has been schools superintendent since April 2009. The board authorized negotiations to be conducted with Ronan over the next month on a three-year contract extension that would take effect on Aug. 1, 2012 and end on July 31, 2015.

In news elsewhere, today might well be the rubicon for the campaign of Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Primaries will be held today in Arizona and Romney's native Michigan, where his family is something of a political dynasty. Many pundits say that unless Romney scores a convincing victory in Michigan, his campaign could be in serious trouble against the surging Rick Santorum.

Meanwhile, Romney is angry that some Democratic voters in Michigan are vowing to cross over and cast ballots for Santorum in the GOP primary, to sow chaos. But Romney used a similar tactic and cast a Democratic ballot in Massachusetts's 1992 primary. "In Massachusetts, if you register as an independent, you can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary," Romney told ABC News. Until he made an unsuccessful run for Senate in 1994, Romney had spent his adult life as a registered independent. "When there was no real contest in the Republican primary, I’d vote in the Democrat primary, vote for the person who I thought would be the weakest opponent for the Republican,” he added.

The Orange One is facing criticism again for his leadership style, or lack thereof. West Chester's favorite son, House Speaker John Boehner, is being chided for fumbling the passage of a major transportation bill. Because Boehner couldn't round up enough votes to pass the bill – which is being touted as the GOP's main jobs plan for 2012 – Boehner had to split the bill into three component parts.

Anti-government protestors in Syria said they found the bodies of 64 men dumped on the outskirts of the city of Homs. An unknown number of women and children who had been with the men are missing, protestors added. The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began last March, and pressure for U.S. or NATO military intervention is growing due to the violence.

New archaeological evidence suggests that America was first discovered by Stone Age people from Europe, about 10,000 years before the Siberian-originating ancestors of the American Indians set foot in the New World. Time to start changing those history books.
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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]> In a move that's been expected for months, the parent company of The Enquirer informed investors Wednesday that all of its websites will implement a paywall model by year's end. Under the switch, online users will be able to access a limited number of articles for free every month, then must subscribe if they want to see additional digital content. Gannett Co. executives said it would probably offer between five and 15 articles for free per month, and compared the change to a system implemented by The New York Times last year. That newspaper, however, offers 20 free articles per month.

Hamilton County will soon have its first female coroner. The local Democratic Party's central committee will meet tonight to vote on the appointment of Dr. Lakshmi Kode Sammarco, a radiologist who lives in Indian Hill. She will replace Dr. Anant Bhati, who died last week from injuries sustained in a fall.

In a sign that the economy might be improving, local home sales increased in January. The Cincinnati Area Board of Realtors says sales last month rose almost 11 percent over January last year.

The city manager and his staffers at City Hall seem to be keeping pertinent facts from Cincinnati City Council. First, council members said they weren't aware that a Hamilton restaurant in line to get almost $1 million in grants and loans to open a location at The Banks just paid off a delinquent property tax bill that was almost two years old on their eatery in Butler County. Then, council members learned the city's recently hired human relations director had to resign from her previous position in Detroit over a controversy involving a severance payment. Although Georgetta Kelly said she had nothing to do with a $200,000 payout to a woman who voluntarily left a county job to become CEO of an airport, her signature appears on some of the documents.

In news elsewhere, a Georgia lawmaker who is disturbed by Republicans' increasing attempts to pass new legislation involving abortion and birth control has offered a proposal of her own. State Rep. Yasmin Neal, a Democrat, wants to begin regulating vasectomies. If approved, her bill would ban the practice of male sterilization except in cases where a man faces serious health risks without one. It was crafted as a response to a so-called “fetal pain bill” proposed by Republicans, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks.

Even though he wants to end the Afghanistan war and impose a more isolationist foreign policy, Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul has received more donations from members of the military than all of his GOP rivals and President Obama combined during 2011's fourth quarter. Paul raised more than $150,000 from active-duty military personnel.

As banks foreclose on an increasing number of properties nationwide, tenants are discovering many of those lending institutions are neglectful landlords, NPR reports.

The United Nations has a secret list of top Syrian officials who could face investigation for crimes against humanity for their violent crackdown against anti-government protestors, according to a U.N. report. The list includes Syrian President Bashar Assad, said London's The Independent. Sources tell the newspaper as many as 500 children have been killed in the violence.
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<![CDATA[Here's What Facebook Censors]]>

Never piss off the proletariat.

Upset about his low pay and dismal working conditions, a worker at one of Facebook’s Third World contractors has leaked the social media site’s ultra-secret document about what type of content it censors.

Amine Derkaoui, a 21-year-old Moroccan man, worked for an outsourcing firm last year that scanned Facebook members’ pages for banned content. Given Facebook’s profitability, Derkaoui became angry about its stinginess with workers.

As a result, Derkaoui gave
a copy of Facebook’s internal guidelines about what content it will delete to Gawker, a top Internet gossip site.

Some of the forbidden items are obvious like racial slurs, depictions of human or animal mutilation, photographs or cartoons of sexual activity, violent speech and content that organizes or promotes illegal activity.

But some of the other verboten items are more unusual, if not downright strange.

For example, naked “private parts” including female nipple bulges and butt cracks are forbidden, but male nipples are allowed. The list specifically mentions “mothers breastfeeding” as unacceptable.

Also, most depictions of bodily fluids are unacceptable, but not all. It lists “urine, feces, vomit, semen, pus and ear wax" as unacceptable (yes,
ear wax). But, it helpfully notes, “cartoon feces, urine and spit are OK; real and cartoon snot is OK.” Well, that's good to know.

Other items subject to deletion include cartoon nudity, images of internal organs, bones, muscles, tendons and “deep flesh wounds,” along with “blatant (obvious) depiction of camel toes and moose knuckles.” (Confession: I had to Google “moose knuckle” to know what that meant.)

Images of “crushed heads, limbs, etc. are OK,” however, as long as “no insides are showing” and the person posting them doesn’t express delight or gratification.

Moreover, all criticism of Ataturk, the founder of the nation of Turkey, along with images depicting the burning of Turkish flags are forbidden. It’s believed this restriction is due to certain European laws that, if violated, could cause the site to be blocked in Turkey.

The 17-page manual includes
a one-page “cheat sheet” so workers can quickly reference it when making decisions about what to delete.

Gawker said Derkaoui found his job through the outsourcing firm oDesk, which provides content moderation services for Facebook and Google. About 50 people across the globe — mostly in Turkey, the Philippines, Mexico and India — work to moderate Facebook content. They work from home in four-hour shifts and earn $1 per hour plus commissions.


"It's humiliating. They are just exploiting the Third World," Derkaoui told Gawker.

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<![CDATA[Internet Protest Set for March?]]>

If you need to do some research, post on Facebook or look at online porn (c’mon, we know you do it), you had better get it done before March 31.

That’s when the global computer hacking group known as Anonymous — or someone claiming to represent it — allegedly plans to launch “Operation Global Blackout.” To protest efforts by corporations and governments to restrict access to some material on the internet, the hacktivists plan to shut the web down, maybe just for an hour or perhaps much longer.---

Anonymous plans to attack 13 root DNS servers on the internet and restrict access to them. If it is successful, internet users won’t be able to perform a domain name lookup.

Such an action would disable the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), which is the most widely used function on the web. It is an application for collaborative information systems, and serves as the foundation of data communication on the World Wide Web.

“Anybody entering ‘http://www.google.com’ or any other URL, will get an error page, thus, they will think the internet is down, which is close enough,” an Anonymous member
posted on Pastebin.com. “Remember, this is a protest, we are not trying to 'kill' the internet, we are only temporarily shutting it down where it hurts the most.”

Despite the use of the name “Anonymous,” it’s unclear whether it actually supports the March 31 action.

Anonymous is amorphous and lacks a clear organizational structure, so occasionally individuals post assertions that the group as a whole doesn’t endorse. For example, some websites alleged Anonymous planned an attack on Facebook for Jan. 28, but the group said that wasn’t true on two Twitter feeds that it regularly uses.

In fact, one of the Twitter feeds calls for a different action throughout March. Dubbed “Black March,” it urges people to not buy any DVDs, video games, compact discs, records, books or magazines during the month, as well as not download any songs either legally or illegally, or see any films in cinemas. This will impact the first-quarter profits of large media companies, it alleges.

So, whether Operation Global Blackout is sanctioned remains to be seen.

Although some people might be skeptical that Anonymous could launch such a large-scale action, the group successfully attacked several government and entertainment industry websites in mid-January. Among the websites momentarily crippled were those operated by the FBI, the U.S. Justice Department, CBS, the Motion Picture Association of America and Universal Music Group.

Around the same time, Anonymous also attempted to take offline the websites for the U.S. Defense Department and the White House, but was unsuccessful.

The initiatives are aimed at websites connected to anti-copyright legislation in the United States and abroad.

In an online message, someone alleging to represent Anonymous posted, “Behind closed doors the governments of the world have agreed to censor the internet in order to appease the corrupt banks and corporate entities that have been enshrined within the hearts of every government making us, the people, pay for their bigotry, as we have seen in Iceland and are now seeing throughout Greece. This document in question is the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which effectively molests your right to fair use and allows corporations to dictate and capitalize on your free speech.”

It added, “They have overstepped their limits, defiled their documents written by we the people, even now with the movement of a hand they can silence you into indefinite detention or even warrant your death. … On the 31st of March, Operation Global Blackout will go into full effect. For the cause of liberty, for the good of mankind and for laughs, the Internet as we know it will go dark in protest for the collective grievances of all. We recognize that our methods will be labeled by some as extreme, and are willing to accept this fate in order to achieve our goals. A goal of free speech for all and oppression for none.”

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<![CDATA[Alleged Leaker Nominated for Nobel]]>

Some U.S. progressives are supporting a move by Icelandic politicians to nominate alleged WikiLeaks collaborator Bradley Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Manning was nominated for the prestigious prize by The Movement of Icelandic Parliament, a group of politicians in Iceland dedicated to empowering grassroots activism.---

In its letter nominating Manning, the group wrote, “The leaked documents pointed to a long history of corruption, war crimes, and imperialism by the United States government in international dealings. These revelations have fueled democratic uprising around the world, including a democratic revolution in Tunisia. According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq.”

The letter continued, “The documents made public by WikiLeaks should never have been kept from public scrutiny. The revelations — including video documentation of an incident in which American soldiers gunned down Reuters journalists in Iraq — have helped to fuel a worldwide discussion about America’s overseas engagements, civilian casualties of war, imperialistic manipulations, and rules of engagement.”

Manning, 24, is a U.S. Army private who is awaiting court-martial on 22 charges including aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, theft of public property or records and transmitting defense information.

Although the most serious charge — aiding the enemy — carries a possible death penalty, prosecutors have said they won’t seek it. Still, Manning faces life in prison if convicted of all the charges.

He has been held in maximum security custody — essentially solitary confinement — since July 2010 at the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Va.

Manning is suspected of leaking more than 251,000 secret diplomatic messages from U.S. embassies worldwide to WikiLeaks.

Revelations in the documents include there were 15,000 previously undisclosed civilian deaths in Iraq after the U.S. invasion; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered diplomats to spy on overseas leaders at the United Nations and elsewhere and try to collect their DNA; Arab leaders urged the U.S. to launch a preemptive attack against Iran to stop its nuclear program; a source alleged China launched a cyber-attack against Google; the Obama administration is waging a secret war using missiles against suspected terrorists in Yemen; and U.S. suspicions that Iran has received 19 long-range missiles from North Korea.

Firedoglake, the popular U.S. progressive blog, is endorsing the nomination. The blog has distributed an email asking people to sign an online petition to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, which selects award recipients.

“What's more ironic than nominating Bradley Manning for a Nobel Peace Prize while he stands trial for allegedly ‘aiding the enemy,’ is that President Obama himself won the prize in 2009 — a few months before Manning was arrested in Iraq. This could be the first time a Nobel Peace Prize recipient has been inhumanely and unjustly imprisoned by a previous Peace Prize recipient,” said Firedoglake’s email.

It added, “As Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg has said, Bradley Manning is a hero. If he really did leak these documents, we should recognize that there are likely few individuals who have made as great a contribution to justice and peace as Bradley Manning — and even fewer who have had to pay for it the way he has.”

There appears to be growing international support to award the prize to Manning. In October, he won a poll conducted by The Guardian newspaper in Britain, which asked who should win the Nobel. Manning received nearly 40 percent of the votes cast.

One respondent wrote, “If Bradley Manning is responsible for allowing the world to see the shenanigans that have been going on in the name of western democracy and responsible government, then he must be the first on the list. Those ‘shenanigans’ include horrifying acts of murder and torture.”

Even as Manning sits in solitary confinement for more than a year, the U.S. Army last week dropped all charges against the last of five soldiers to face a court-martial in the slaying of unarmed Afghan civilians.

Five members of the infantry unit formerly known as the 5th Stryker Brigade were charged with killing Afghan civilians in cold blood during random attacks staged to look like combat engagements, according to Reuters News Service.

The staff sergeant who led the attacks was convicted by court-martial in November of murdering three unarmed civilians. Although that mandates an automatic life prison sentence, he will be eligible for parole in 8 1/2 years. Three others involved in the case were sentenced to prison sentences of 24 years, seven years and three years respectively.

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<![CDATA[Handel Resigns from Breast Cancer Charity]]>

The anti-abortion politician who urged Susan G. Komen for the Cure to pull its funding from Planned Parenthood has resigned from the charity.

Karen Handel, who was Komen’s vice president of public policy, submitted her resignation letter today, the Associated Press reported. Handel said she stands by her goal of ending grants to Planned Parenthood and is disappointed that Komen leaders reversed the decision after public outcry.---

Handel ran unsuccessfully for the GOP's nomination to be a candidate for Georgia governor in 2010. In the campaign, she was supported by Sarah Palin, largely for her anti-abortion views.

In Handel’s letter, she wrote, "Neither the decision (to pull the grants) nor the changes themselves were based on anyone's political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen's mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy."

How did that work out for you, Karen?

** UPDATE: Here is the full text of Handel's letter.

February 7, 2012

The Honorable Nancy Brinker

CEO, Susan G. Komen for the Cure VIA EMAIL

5005 LBJ Freeway, Suite 250

Dallas, Texas 75244

Dear Ambassador Brinker:

Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been the recognized leader for more 30 years in the fight against breast cancer here in the US – and increasingly around the world.

As you know, I have always kept Komen’s mission and the women we serve as my highest priority – as they have been for the entire organization, the Komen Affiliates, our many supporters and donors, and the entire community of breast cancer survivors. I have carried out my responsibilities faithfully and in line with the Board’s objectives and the direction provided by you and Liz.

We can all agree that this is a challenging and deeply unsettling situation for all involved in the fight against breast cancer. However, Komen’s decision to change its granting strategy and exit the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its grants was fully vetted by every appropriate level within the organization. At the November Board meeting, the Board received a detailed review of the new model and related criteria. As you will recall, the Board specifically discussed various issues, including the need to protect our mission by ensuring we were not distracted or negatively affected by any other organization’s real or perceived challenges. No objections were made to moving forward.

I am deeply disappointed by the gross mischaracterizations of the strategy, its rationale, and my involvement in it. I openly acknowledge my role in the matter and continue to believe our decision was the best one for Komen’s future and the women we serve. However, the decision to update our granting model was made before I joined Komen, and the controversy related to Planned Parenthood has long been a concern to the organization. Neither the decision nor the changes themselves were based on anyone’s political beliefs or ideology. Rather, both were based on Komen’s mission and how to better serve women, as well as a realization of the need to distance Komen from controversy. I believe that Komen, like any other nonprofit organization, has the right and the responsibility to set criteria and highest standards for how and to whom it grants.

What was a thoughtful and thoroughly reviewed decision – one that would have indeed enabled Komen to deliver even greater community impact – has unfortunately been turned into something about politics. This is entirely untrue. This development should sadden us all greatly.

Just as Komen’s best interests and the fight against breast cancer have always been foremost in every aspect of my work, so too are these my priorities in coming to the decision to resign effective immediately. While I appreciate your raising a possible severance package, I respectfully decline. It is my most sincere hope that Komen is allowed to now refocus its attention and energies on its mission.

Sincerely,

Karen Handel




 

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<![CDATA[Morning News and Stuff]]>

Despite all of the incessant hype, there actually are other things going on in the world besides the Super Bowl. So, grab your beverage of choice, sit back and we’ll tell you about a few of them. (And we promise nary a mention of Tom Brady or Eli Manning. Well, after this paragraph, that is.)

A study by Chicago University’s Booth Business School found that the use of social media might be more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol. A team used BlackBerrys to gauge the willpower of 205 people between the ages of 18 and 85 in and around the German city of Würtzburg. The researchers say sex and sleep still appear to be stronger urges, but tweeting and checking email are more irresistible to some people than smoking or drinking.---

Possibly buoyed by last week’s improving unemployment statistics, President Obama has opened a clear lead over Mitt Romney in the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll. It found Americans were evenly divided about whether Obama deserved a second term but once the president was placed into a match-up against Romney, his numbers dramatically improved.

Overall, 55 percent of those who are closely following the campaign say they disapprove of what the GOP candidates have been saying. By better than 2 to 1, Americans say the more they learn about Romney, the less they like him.

Politico’s Jonathan Martin writes that Newt Gingrich 2012 looks a lot like Mike Huckabee 2008, and Gingrich’s campaign probably will flame out in a similar fashion. Some GOP strategists say Gingrich has yet to prove he holds appeal beyond Southern conservatives, who aren’t indicative of the populace as a whole.

Nevertheless, Newt will make a stop in the Queen City on Tuesday. Details still are being hashed out, but it looks like a stop at Price Hill Chili is in the works.

The Syrian military bombed the city of Homs today, killing at least 50 people as the crackdown continues on dissidents opposed to President Bashar al-Assad. Activists said more than 200 people were killed on Friday night when tanks and artillery blasted the Khalidiya neighborhood of Homs. The strikes come after Russia and China vetoed a draft U.N. resolution that would have backed an Arab plan urging Assad to resign.

A source at Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the nation’s leading breast cancer charity, told The Huffington Post that the group’s new vice president, Karen Handel, was the main force behind the decision to defund Planned Parenthood. “Emails between Komen leadership on the day the Planned Parenthood decision was announced, which were reviewed by HuffPost under the condition they not be published, confirm the source's description of Handel's sole ‘authority’ in crafting and implementing the Planned Parenthood policy,” the website reported.

Although Mitt Romney only paid an effective tax rate of 13.8 percent in 2010, a recent report shows that many corporations are paying even less. U.S. corporations only paid an average of 12.1 percent in taxes on the profits they earned inside this nation during 2011, according to statistics from the Congressional Budget Office. That’s the lowest percentage corporations have paid on profits since at least 1972, and it’s less than half of the 25.6 percent they paid on average between 1987 and 2008.

Two gay men in Cleveland who were jailed without their pants by a police officer who was their neighbor are suing the city and the police department. The men were charged with assaulting the officer but were acquitted Oct. 20 in a non-jury trial. The lawsuit states the officer and his colleagues repeatedly referred to the two men as "faggots" and said "faggots don't get to wear pants to jail."

Locally, a homeless man was arrested early Sunday morning while hiding under a pew after allegedly breaking into an Avondale church and attempting to steal some items. An alarm was triggered, which alerted police to the scene. Vaughn Whitehead is scheduled to appear in court this morning.

Cincinnati City Councilwoman Laure Quinlivan is proposing a charter amendment that would change council terms from two years to four years. As part of the measure, the term-limit clock would start over for incumbents, potentially giving them extra time in office if voters approve the measure and then reelect them. Councilmen P.G. Sittenfeld and Christopher Smitherman are opposed, but it looks like Quinlivan has enough support to put the amendment on the November ballot.

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<![CDATA[Frost Interviews WikiLeaks Founder]]>

For all the rhetoric about the United States' right to freedom of the press, the best reporting on the governmental secrets revealed by WikiLeaks, and the deeper issues they raise, has been done by media outlets in other nations. And the best and most in-depth interview with Julian Assange has been done by a British journalist for Al Jazeera, the Arab satellite news channel.

David Frost, who famously interviewed President Nixon a few years after his resignation following the Watergate scandal, now has a program on Al Jazeera, entitled Frost Over the World.---

In the latest episode, Frost interviews Assange. In the 24-minute interview, several topics are discussed including Assange's views on secrecy and the proper role of media.

Here are some noteworthy excerpts.

** On why WikiLeaks isn't anarchic or anti-authoritarian: "We're an organization that goes about and has a long track record of, all over the world, of exposing abuses by exposing concrete documentation -- proof -- of bad behavior," Assange said. "That's not anarchy. That's what people do when they're civil. They engage in organized activity that promotes justice."

** On why the United States, although never intended to be the prime target of WikiLeaks, has become such a focus in recent months: "The United States is not the most closed or the most corrupt (government)," Assange said. "On the other hand, what we've found in practice was the United States, as the dominant empire, is connected to all the other countries and has a tendril in them. And being the largest security state, spending approximately the same amount as all the rest of the world combined on its military-intelligence sector, it generates a tremendous amount of secrets."

** On how WikiLeaks is source-driven: "We can only publish what people are giving us," Assange said. "And, in the United States, they are giving us a lot of material."

** On why WikiLeaks, although it's never paid a source to date, isn't opposed to the concept: "We have no philosophical objection to paying, actually. Why should journalists and lawyers be the only ones to be compensated for their risks, when it actually is the source who are the ones taking the greatest risk?"

WikiLeaks is designed as an outlet for "dissenters" and "courageous whistleblowers," Assange told Frost. Its goal is to hold institutions accountable and work toward a more just society. Some secrets are needed, but it's not the role of the media to keep them for governments or others.

The organization's motto is "courage is contagious." It's meant to encourage dissent through successful examples, and empower the average person to speak out against governments, corporations and other institutions that wield great power when they believe it's necessary to do so.


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<![CDATA[Moore Helps Bail Out Assange]]>

With donations from filmmaker Michael Moore and others, WikiLeaks provocateur Julian Assange made bail today and was released from a British prison, awaiting extradition to Sweden on sex charges.

A judge had set Assange's bail at 240,000 pounds, which equals about $380,521. Moore donated $20,000, which equals about 12,633 pounds.---

In all, Assange supporters pledged about 1 million pounds toward his bail, which equals about $1.6 million.

Also, Moore offered to let WikiLeaks use his Web servers to host his site and publish documents, if needed. Moore has called Assange “a pioneer of free speech.”

As conditions of his release, Assange had to turn over his passport, wear a GPS tracking device, visit police once daily and agree to a 10 p.m curfew.

Meanwhile, some former WikiLeaks staffers plan to launch a new Web site to compete with Assange's, to be called OpenLeaks.

The staffers had complained about Assange's management style and the connection of WikiLeaks to his criminal charges.

Unlike WikiLeaks, OpenLeaks doesn't plan to publish its information directly to the public. Rather, it intends to partner with other organizations — initially five newspapers, then more later — and allow them access to documents, to do with them as they see fit. OpenLeaks sees itself as a neutral party “without a political agenda except from the dissemination of information to the media, the public, non-profit organizations, trade- and union organizations and other participating groups.”

Critics say the new site's plan doesn't allow unfettered access and instead will be filtered through gatekeepers that might be too sympathetic to the Establishment's agenda and point of view, or be too easily intimidated by governments or corporations.


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<![CDATA[Hackers Strike Back at Bank]]>

Just hours after a Swiss bank froze access today to a legal defense fund established for WikiLeaks provocateur Julian Assange, a group of hackers have shut down the bank's Web site in an escalating "infowar."

A group calling itself Operation Payback took responsibility for the Internet attack on the Swiss bank, PostFinance, via its Twitter account. "We will fire at anyone that tries to censor WikiLeaks," the group said in its announcement.---

PostFinance had said it blocked access to the account, which contains about $41,000, and stopped accepting donations because Assange lied about his residency when he opened the account. Bank officials said Assange couldn't provide proof of Swiss residency, making the account invalid. His supporters, though, countered that the bank only took its action because of pressure from the U.S. government and other nations angry at Assange and WikiLeaks.

In a video posted on YouTube, Operation Payback stated it would fight any attempts at Internet censorship. On its Twitter feed, it vowed to hack PayPal next.

"In these modern times, Internet access is fast becoming a basic human right," the video stated. "Just like any other basic human right, we believe it is wrong to infringe upon it."

During the past few days, both PayPal and Amazon.com have stopped service to WikiLeaks, and the U.S. government has blocked access to the Web site on all federal computers, including those at the Library of Congress.

Also, an American provider of Internet domain names — EveryDNS.net — withdrew its service to WikiLeaks Thursday. The provider stated it was experiencing multiple attacks by hackers that threatened its entire system, attacks that some computer experts say are being mounted by nation-states including possibly the U.S. government. As a result, WikiLeaks supporters have launched an estimated 500 mirror sites to continue public access to the once-confidential government documents posted by Assange.

The fast-paced, escalating series of events prompted the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an online free-speech group, to declare this was the start of the first bonafide war waged on the Internet.

"The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops," tweeted John Perry Barlow, the EFF's co-founder, on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Assange is expected to turn himself into British law enforcement officers Tuesday. He has been wanted on an Interpol arrest warrant stemming from a Swedish criminal charge based on having consensual sex without a condom. The charge, known as "sex by surprise" in Sweden, is punishable by a fine of about $715. His accuser has ties to a Cuban anti-Castro group that's been partially funded by the CIA in the past.

Although many Democrats and Republicans in the Establishment have criticized Wikileaks and promised to find methods to prevent future document dumps, the organization also has drawn some support from across the political spectrum, primarily from people concerned about free speech or civil liberties.

"In a free society, we are supposed to know the truth," said Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas). "In a society where truth becomes treason, we are in big trouble."

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<![CDATA[The Number You're Not Supposed to Have]]>

If you like pissing off overly authoritarian government initiatives, then you need to bookmark and use the following Web address.

It's http://213.251.145.96/---

That's the new Internet home of WikiLeaks, which has been bouncing around the Web this week as the U.S. government and other nations pressure various servers not to host the controversial site.

Originally available at wikileaks.org, an American provider of Internet domain names — EveryDNS.net — withdrew its service to WikiLeaks Thursday. The provider stated it was experiencing multiple attacks by hackers that threatened its entire system.

It's been documented that various governments are trying to knock WikiLeaks off the Internet and block access after it posted nearly 251,000 diplomatic messages last week from U.S. embassies that were surreptitiously obtained.

The messages included one about China launching cyber-attacks against Google due to an access dispute.

After WikiLeaks was kicked off Amazon.com's cloud service, it moved to a French firm, and was accessible at http://wikileaks.ch. But the Reuters News Service reported today that the French government was researching methods to keep companies in that nation from hosting the site. Access through that address has been sporadic.

Now various mirror addresses — including wikileaks.de, wikileaks.fl and wikileaks.nl. — take users to the new site accessible via only an IP address.

This week's Porkopolis column looks at WikiLeaks' various document dumps during the past year, and how they've embarrassed governments around the world.

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' Australian founder, has been in hiding in recent weeks, although he's granted some interviews via Internet hookups and other methods. He was thought to be in the United Kingdom last week, and now might have moved to Germany.

Assange's supporters say the U.S. and other governments are waging a smear campaign against him, trying to harm his credibility and deflect attention from the Web site's revelations.

Last summer Swedish authorities started an investigation against Assange based on complaints alleging he raped one woman and sexually harassed another. Within 24 hours, prosecutors withdrew their arrest warrant, stating the accusations lacked substance.

This week Swedish authorities renewed the arrest warrant. Assange's lawyer says his client is wanted for questioning about allegations he didn't use condoms during consensual sex with two Swedish women.

The lawyer, James D. Caitlin, said in a published report Thursday that “the Swedes are making it up as they go along,” adding the Swedish justice system will become “the laughingstock of the world” due to the charges.

On the Crikey Web site, Caitlin wrote, “Apparently having consensual sex in Sweden without a condom is punishable by a term of imprisonment of a minimum of two years for rape.”

In his article, Caitlin named the two women, nothing they boasted about their sexual conquests online after they occurred.

Meanwhile, although the WikiLeaks revelations continue only to get minimum coverage and soundbites in the U.S. (and blocked altogether in China), European media outlets have aggressively covered the material.

British articles detailing the revelations can be found here, here, here and here.

WikiLeaks' next target is a major U.S. bank, according to Assange, which is believed to be the Bank of America. Reportedly, he has a large cache of internal documents that will expose the greed and scheming of bank executives.

In coming months, WikiLeaks will focus on the private sector, Assange said, including the financial, pharmaceutical and energy sectors.


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<![CDATA[Is The Enquirer Next?]]>

The Cincinnati Enquirer's parent company is testing a “pay wall” system at three of its newspapers as it attempts to devise a business model that involves users paying for Internet content.

If successful, the model being implemented at the Tallahassee Democrat in Florida, The Greenville News in South Carolina and The Spectrum in St. George, Utah, eventually could be implemented at Cincinnati's only surviving daily newspaper.---

All the newspapers are owned by The Gannett Co., based in McLean, Va.

According to a report on Poynter Online, a journalism industry Web site, the fee for online-only content is $9.95 a month; the cost for Web access bundled with a print subscription varies by market. In Tallahassee, seven-day home delivery (with Web access) costs $20, while an online day pass costs $2.

Kate Marymont, news vice president for Gannett's Community Publishing Division, told a Poynter writer that "we know this is not the model, this is a small-scale test."

Gannett hasn't yet decided on the approach for its other markets, a company spokeswoman said, but that the firm will use what it learns from the test sites "to help us develop our long-term strategy for paid content."

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<![CDATA[Lessons from Bold Fusion]]>

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber embraced the YP concept several years ago in the wake of Richard Florida’s “creative class” discussion, which really hit home here because it crystallized the problem Cincinnati and other “uncool” cities face in stemming the brain drain of talented young people leaving to advance their careers elsewhere.

The Chamber created an array of programs to support local young professionals, an effort that certainly came at the behest of Procter & Gamble, Kroger, Macy’s and other corporate giants here that must recruit and retain the best and the brightest talent available. Bold Fusion has emerged as one of the Chamber’s highest profile efforts.

The sixth annual Bold Fusion conference was held Thursday afternoon at the Westin Hotel downtown, packing the ballroom to its 400-person capacity. It was one of the most interesting and inspiring afternoons I’d spent in a while.---

David Pescovitz’s keynote remarks were the day’s highlight for many in the room, including me, but every presentation built on his theme of an emerging “maker” culture and its implications for future business and life in general.

I’ve known Pescovitz since he interned for me as a UC student in the early 1990s when I was editor at Everybody’s News, the city’s alternative weekly newspaper before I helped start CityBeat. He worked for me for a bit after graduating, but he soon headed west to attend grad school at Cal-Berkeley and to immerse himself in the new technology culture bubbling up in San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

Laura Baverman graciously allowed me to comment on Pescovitz’s career in her Bold Fusion preview article in The Enquirer, and I said he was the perfect keynote speaker for two main reasons: He left Cincinnati in his early twenties because he wanted to be where the action was, which wasn’t here, and he’s built a career that embodies the do-it-yourself ethic, from starting web sites to innovating within such existing structures as Wired magazine and Institute for the Future. So David was the simultaneous vision of Cincinnati's problem and solution, and I was proud of how well he explained those competing forces on Thursday.

[Check out a photo gallery from Bold Fusion here, including Pescovitz above.]

Here are some takeaways from the event:

* The current meta trend is toward self-guided and authentic goods and services. LPK Vice President Valerie Jacobs gave a presentation on recent social and business trends, leading to her conclusion that — with the worldwide economic meltdown and failures of large institutions and corporations — young people in particular are looking to forge a more grassroots, do-it-yourself future. Her buzz words for 2010 are “hacktivism” and “garage innovation.”

* Everything should be “open source” and collaborative. Pescovitz picked up on Jacobs’ trends analysis to suggest that future manufacturing, design, research & development and almost all forms of innovation will be collaborative. Up until now technology has enabled entrepreneurs to share ideas, but Pescovitz envisions that future collaboration will include micro-manufacturing, crowd-sourced problem solving and open hacking and customization of existing products.

Pescovitz says too many large consumer goods companies now treat their customers as the enemy, from canceling warranties if customers try to improve on or customize products to even threatening legal action against consumer hackers. (Yes, we’re talking about you, Apple.) In the “maker” world, if you can’t open it you don’t own it — once you buy a product, you should be able to tinker with it however you want … and smart companies will actually learn a thing or two from the resulting innovations.

* See the future at a Maker Faire. Make magazine, where Pescovitz serves as editor-at-large, hosts its fifth annual Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif., at the end of May and is taking the concept on the road to Detroit in July and New York City in September. Pescovitz describes the event as a combination nerd convention and county fair where people display and explain their homemade inventions; a big breakthrough came last year, however, when Microsoft sponsored a pavilion to host inventions and innovations from people hacking Microsoft products.

Im sure I wasn’t the only person at Bold Fusion conceptualizing a Cincinnati Maker Faire when Pescovitz was describing the concept. Anyone want to partner with CityBeat on one? Will P&G, Kroger or Macy’s join us to sponsor pavilions encouraging locals to hack their consumer products?

* Innovation happens everywhere. After Pescovitz’s remarks, a panel of local entrepreneurs took the stage to share their own attempts at innovation and collaboration, most of which remain works in progress. A good example of the changing culture was presented by Steve Burns, founder of AMP Electric Vehicles in Blue Ash, whose company basically hacks General Motors gas-guzzlers to turn them into all-electric cars (see our recent feature story on AMP here).

After their first successful conversation a few years ago, AMP posted a video of the car on YouTube, and the next day Burns took a call from the CEO of General Motors. Instead of getting yelled at or receiving a cease-and-desist order as he expected, Burns says the CEO wanted GM engineers to come down and check out AMP’s work. They did, and AMP has continued converting GM models, finally opening their own retail electric car dealership earlier this year.

Classic entrepreneurship will always be with us, Pescovitz says, as long as people have good ideas that serve the marketplace. But an emerging new dynamic will be large companies and organizations encouraging innovation from within and/or working collaboratively with “professional amateurs” outside the company walls — consumers or “makers” who are passionate about the company’s products and occasionally have better ideas than the company’s full-time R&D staff.

* Cincinnati is ripe for the “maker” culture. We can all argue endlessly about the pros and cons of trying to be an innovator in Greater Cincinnati, but Bold Fusion’s entrepreneur panelists repeated several encouraging themes: Some found ideas taking root in other cities that hadn’t been tried here yet, some connected with other innovators feeling lonely in a city that’s often unwelcoming to outsiders and some took advantage of Cincinnati’s out-of-the-way-ness to fly under the radar.

Dan McCabe, CityBeat’s marketing manager and head of the MidPoint Music Festival, has always argued that Cincinnati is the best place for creative people to locate because all the good ideas haven’t already been taken here and the barriers to creating something (costs, available infrastructure, taxes/fees) are pretty low. His reasoning was once again proven correct at Bold Fusion.

At the end of his remarks, Pescovitz told the Bold Fusion crowd not to trust anyone who says they can predict the future with any certainty. Repeating a line attributed to writer and management consultant Peter Drucker, he said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”


NOTE: David Pescovitz handed out a printed “Future of Making” map at Bold Fusion, an excellent synthesis of his remarks prepared by Institute for the Future. You can download a PDF version of the map here. I highly recommend it.

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