Monday, December 19, 2005

A Little of the Old In and Out

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In: Kurt Eichenwald. Again: Who says print media is dead? Not The Corsair. Kurt Eichenwald's well-excecuted piece in today's Old Gray Lady on the subject of online sexual abuse of teenagers is nothing short of astonishing and devastating all at once. The story highlights the necessity of strong print journalism in an age of short-attention spans and the profusion of moral grays. There is no simple way to do justice to this grim story, but here is some of it:

"A six-month investigation by The New York Times into this corner of the Internet found that such sites had emerged largely without attracting the attention of law enforcement or youth protection organizations. While experts with these groups said they had witnessed a recent deluge of illicit, self-generated Webcam images, they had not known of the evolution of sites where minors sold images of themselves for money.

"'We've been aware of the use of the Webcam and its potential use by exploiters,' said Ernest E. Allen, chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a private group. 'But this is a variation on a theme that we haven't seen. It's unbelievable.'Minors who run these sites find their anonymity amusing, joking that their customers may be the only adults who know of their activities. It is, in the words of one teenage site operator, the 'Webcam Matrix,' a reference to the movie in which a computerized world exists without the knowledge of most of humanity.

"In this virtual universe, adults hunt for minors on legitimate sites used by Webcam owners who post contact information in hopes of attracting friends. If children respond to messages, adults spend time 'grooming' them - with praise, attention and gifts - before seeking to persuade them to film themselves pornographically.The lure is the prospect of easy money. Many teenagers solicit 'donations,' request gifts through sites like or negotiate payments, while a smaller number charge monthly fees. But there are other beneficiaries, including businesses, some witting and some unwitting, that provide services to the sites like Web hosting and payment processing.

"Not all victims profit, with some children ending up as pornographic commodities inadvertently, even unknowingly."

Perhaps we are especially receptive to the piece today because of our own little brush with cybercrime. Whatever the case, Eichenwald's piece will move you..

(Rachel Sklar on Eichenwald)
(CBS News Eye on Eichenwald)


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Out: The West Wing? We still love The West Wing, arguably the best written show on television, even though, we cannot fail to note, other bloggers consider the show as having "jumped the shark."

Medialifemagazine's Toni Fitzgerald, however, raises some curious questions as to how theembattled show, contending with the death of John Spencer, can stay on the air:

"His death could not come at a worse time for the show, now in its seventh season, with its future already very much in doubt because of sinking ratings and rising salaries.

"The real-life death of such an integral character could well spell the official end for 'Wing,' a show that was once among TV�s most-watched dramas and is now mustering just 8 million total viewers, barely half of what it averaged in its prime years.

"'Wing' was renewed last season at about half the cost of the previous year, forcing many regulars into recurring roles.

"Spencer would ostensibly have played a major role in the show�s season-long election storyline as the vice presidential candidate. In fact, his selection last spring was the show�s season-ending shocker, and one focus this season has been presidential candidate Matt Santos� seeming distaste for McGarry.

"Without McGarry, whose character was a mentor to many of the younger White House staff and the closest confidante of president Jed Bartlet (Martin Sheen), the show will lose its wise old sage. And one of the great joys of 'Wing' was watching McGarry advise them correctly while he himself dealt often unsuccessfully with private demons.

"Just how 'Wing' will deal with Spencer�s death is unclear. His character suffered a heart attack last season, and during his recent campaign questions about his health arose.

"It would not thus seem surprising for McGarry to die of a fatal heart attack, but the writers won�t be able to do that without rewriting history. The first episode of the season showed a scene three years in the future where Spencer appeared.

"Unless 'Wing' sets that as a fantasy sequence, it can�t very well write McGarry out."

More at Medialifemagazine here.


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In: Gisele Bundchen, Musician. Hott. (The Corsair sips a RAGNAUD-SABOURIN Alliance No. 4 cognac) Is it just us or does Gisele seem happier outside of the dark, Scorpionic purview of The Leo? According to Fashionweekdaily (Shoutout to Jim Shi and Faran Krentcil at Fashionweekdaily for being so darn quotable):

"Wearing jeans, tan cushy boots, a loose white tank top, and thin gold arm bracelet, Gisele Bundchen casually made her way into the Chelsea nightclub Stereo Saturday night sans paparazzi, where the Brazilian supermodel played backup guitarist to her friend, Chino Maurice. 'This is my first time performing,' she said over a microphone to the invite-only crowd of about 100. 'I�m here to support Chino!' The two-hour get together marked the first significant performance for Maurice, who is currently working with Damon Dash on a reality show called Hustler. And Dash, along with Charlotte Ronson, Dani Stahl, and Stereo owner Michael Satsky, held court in the back of the massive space, where a stage was built over the dance floor.

The full story here.


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Out: Senator Evan Bayh. As family-friendly Senator Evan Bayh stakes out the prospects of future center-right real estate in the 2008 Democratic Primary (Think: He's made 2 visits to Iowa and New Hamshire this year), the perfect Dickensian villain, Robert Novak, pooh-poohs his chances with the Jesus crowd:

"Hopes by Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana to become the centrist candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination were not helped by the Nov. 30 ruling of U.S. District Judge David Hamilton of Indianapolis, a former Bayh aide, against the Indiana state legislature opening its sessions with a prayer referring to Jesus Christ.

"When Bayh was governor of Indiana, Hamilton was his chief counsel and master political strategist. Hamilton ruled, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, that any prayers referring to Jesus Christ by name, 'Savior'' or 'Son of God' are unconstitutional. He said that such a reference ''amounts in practical terms to an official endorsement of the Christian religion.''

We have to agree: Bayh without the distinct Christian flavoring is pretty bland stuff to sell to the competitive Democratic center space come next Presidential primary.

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