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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The recent school shooting in Connecticut looked like a tipping point in U.S. public consciousness.
Americans have been asking themselves some tough questions: why does this happen so often and so much more in America than in other countries? What does gun violence say about us as Americans and what measures can we put in place to stop it? similar bout of public soul-searching was on display in India recently. Across the country, tens of thousands of people took to the streets to express outrage over the rape and death of one unnamed woman. The national attention over her death is shedding light on how unsafe Indian women actually are. According to the national crime records bureau, there were more than 24,000 registered rapes in 2011. That's one rape every 22 minutes in India. And those are just the ones we know about. By some accounts, only a tenth of all such crimes in India actually get reported. Why such a shockingly high rate of violent crime? Indians are debating the reasons. The reality is this: This is one more example of a government that simply does not deliver. India has a broken public safety system, little to no public surveillance and CCTV systems, and a corrupt police force.According to the U.N.'s Office on Drugs and Crime, South Asia has one of the lowest ratios of police officers to civilians in the world. It also has among the fewest prosecutors as a percentage of the population.There could be other factors. India has a demographic crisis. According to its 2011 census, there are only 9 women for every 10 men in urban India. That's one of the worst sex ratios, and that doesn't happen naturally. It happens because tens of thousands of Indians opt for abortions if they know they're having a daughter." (GPS)


"(Labor Secretary Hilda Solis') resignation is bad timing, to be sure. The selection of John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton, the decision to pass over qualified female members of the department of defense and install Chuck Hagel ('aggressively male', you might say) instead: these actions have given fodder to a new slew of speculations about Obama's true intentions for true diversity.Not to confuse Freudians too much, but sometimes, the absence of a cigar is just the absence of a cigar – and sometimes, it's hiding behind a senior adviser. The image that accompanied the New York Times story about the lack of women in high-level positions seemed blatant enough proof of the Oval Office as locker room. CNN investigative forensic experts uncovered Valerie Jarrett's leg (presumably, attached to the rest of her) behind the figure of Dan Pfeiffer. It's a lesson in the difficulty of assessing the administration's actions on this front, and the dangers that come with judging at civil rights as if they were a census.Questions about the sincerity of the Obama team's commitment to gender equality have been hushed but constant since his primary battle with Clinton, when the very fact of her defeat was proof that a cracked glass ceiling was a ceiling nonetheless. The years following saw a reliable trickle of trend stories, each with one set of facts that could support the theory that the Obama was a feminist hero (there's a 50:50 male/female staff ratio in the White House; absent Bush appointees, only 49% of the 366 "decision makers" are men; and Secretary Clinton herself); and another set of data points that suggested he was simply treading civil rights water (no improvement over the Clinton administration in overall administration hiring) and lots of talk of a "feel" and a "sense" and even a " vibe" that Obama was really "Bro-bama"." (Ana Marie Cox)


"On 'The O’Reilly Factor'  last night, Geraldo Rivera spoke to Bill O’Reilly about the sale of Current TV to Al Jazeera, and shared a story about running into Al Gore.The year was 2006, and Gore and comedian Al Franken (who is new Senator Franken) were in the lobby of the News Corp, building in New York. Rivera knew Gore, and had interviewed him in his prior jobs. 'I run into the vice president with Al Franken by his side, and he looks me up and down and said, ‘look where you ended up.’ As if to say to me, my goodness how could you possibly sell out to go work here for Fox News,' Rivera recalled. 'And I said I am still the same guy, and the Vice President says to me in a very tsk tsk condescending way, ‘I guess you will never bite the hands that feeds you.’'"(TVNewser)


"The individuals in an organization are constantly changing. This means the job of mapping the driving forces in an organization never ends, since relations shift, roles change and individuals often are taken out of the picture altogether. As a result, intelligence collectors must continually task their intelligence assets for new information, and analysts must continually update their organizational charts.Logically, the more fluid the membership of an organization, the more difficult it is for an intelligence organization -- or rival organization -- to follow it. As an example, take Los Zetas, who dominate the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo. The group always will have individuals in the city in charge of running daily criminal operations, such as coordinating gunmen, drug shipments, money laundering and retail drug sales. Within a Mexican transnational criminal organization, the person filling this role is typically called a "plaza boss." Several alleged Zetas plaza bosses of Nuevo Laredo were killed or captured during 2012 in Mexican military operations. With each kill or capture, an organization must replace the former plaza boss. This frequent succession of plaza bosses obviously reshapes the human network operating in Nuevo Laredo.It is no simple matter for a collector to ask his informants about, or to eavesdrop through surveillance, for information about the personnel changes." (STRATFOR)


"Business Insider founder Henry Blodget has pulled aside the curtain — or the kimono, as he likes to call it — to tell us all about how well the site is doing, courtesy of a presentation he put together for Folio magazine. In true Business Insider fashion, it’s basically a 90-item slideshow featuring a host of details about the site and its growth, including its traffic numbers (both in aggregate and by individual writer) along with favorable comparisons to other players such as Forbes and Mashable. But for someone promoting transparency for media entities, there’s a lot he’s not saying.There’s no question Business Insider has grown substantially since the last time Blodget opened up about his company’s performance: almost two years ago, he released some public numbers, and at that point the site — which was then about three years old — was pulling in 8 million unique visitors per month and had revenues of $5 million. The site even turned a minuscule profit in 2010, Blodget said, of about $2,000 (that’s not a typo).In the latest update, the Business Insider founder says the site has boosted its traffic substantially, and now gets an average of 23 million unique visitors per month, or more than a million on the average day — growth that he says puts it ahead of giants such as Businessweek, Mashable and TechCrunch." (Matthew Ingram)



"At first blush, Saxby Chambliss and the Michigan right-to-work episode seem completely unrelated. Most Republicans approve of both, of course, but there is a deeper connection. The Georgia senator and Michigan’s effort to restrict organized labor’s power are both byproducts of a phenomenon that, despite the electoral problems currently facing Republicans, continues to favor the GOP: severe ballot turnout drop-off in non-presidential elections.On Nov. 4, 2008, Chambliss received 49.8% of the 3.75 million votes cast statewide in Georgia; Democrat Jim Martin finished second with 46.8%, three points behind. Because Chambliss fell two-tenths of a percent shy of the absolute majority required, however, Georgia law required a run-off. Four weeks later on Dec. 2, Chambliss crushed Martin by 14.8% — nearly five times his November margin. Only 2.14 million votes were cast in the run-off, 43% fewer. High turnout in November — driven, no doubt, by African-American voter enthusiasm, given Obama’s presence on the ballot — kept Martin competitive; far lower turnout in December doomed the Democrat’s chances in the run-off.Two years later, Republican Rick Snyder easily won the Michigan governor’s race with 58.1% of 3.23 million votes cast statewide. His victory was sandwiched between the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections in which Obama won 57.4% and 54.2%, respectively, of the 5 million and 4.73 million votes cast. This zig-zagging effect of voter drop-off between Michigan presidential and gubernatorial cycles is clear: For the past 60 years, turnout as a share of the state’s voting-age population typically ranged between 55% and 65%, but fell into the mid-40% range during congressional cycles ... 'Drop-off” is the political science term for the decline in turnout between the high-water benchmark of presidential elections and other electoral moments: midterm elections for both chambers of Congress; state and local elections for governor, state legislature, county officers and various municipal officials held in non-presidential years, including the five states (Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and Virginia) that hold odd-number-year gubernatorial and legislative elections; and ballot measures voted upon in non-presidential cycles. As the Chambliss example demonstrates, there can also be a drop-off effect within presidential years in states that require post-November run-off elections." (CenterforPolitics)


"New TV tech has always been at the heart of the Consumer Electronics Show.The focus of last year's event was smart TV interfaces, but attention has swung back to the screens themselves this year with Sony and others declaring 4k's time has come. The term "4K" refers to the horizontal resolution of such screens as they are all about 4,000 pixels in width. Also known as "ultra-high definition", the format offers four times the resolution of the current 1080p HD standard and is best appreciated up close, or further away from a mega-sized screen.There is a deluge of 4k displays on the show floor - some adding OLED (organic light-emitting diode) tech to offer richer colours, others slimming the screen's bezel down until it is almost not there. Samsung and China's HiSense have also made a splash by exhibiting sets with gargantuan 110in (279cm) images.But the truth none of the manufacturers likes to talk about is that the challenge involved in packing so many pixels into a small space means their prices are likely to stay too high for most for a while longer." (BBC)

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