Saturday, April 25, 2009


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This week's TIME: A Top Interrogator Who's Against Torture

And NEWSWEEK: ‘We Could Have Done This the Right Way.’

Both explain how FBI agent Ali Soufan got Abu Zubaydah to talk without torture.

Here's an excerpt of Michael Isikoff's NEWSWEEK article:

The agent, Ali Soufan, was known as one of the bureau's top experts on Al Qaeda. He also had a reputation as a shrewd interrogator who could work fluently in both English and Arabic. Soufan yelled at one CIA contractor and told him that what he was doing was wrong, ineffective and an affront to American values. At one point, Soufan discovered a dark wooden "confinement box" that the contractor had built for Abu Zubaydah. It looked, Soufan recalls, "like a coffin." The mercurial agent erupted in anger, got on a secure phone line and called Pasquale D'Amuro, then the FBI assistant director for counter terrorism. "I swear to God," he shouted, "I'm going to arrest these guys!"

D'Amuro and other officials were alarmed at what they heard from Soufan. They fretted about the political consequences of abusive interrogations and the Washington blow back they thought was inevitable, say two high-ranking FBI sources who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters.

According to a later Justice Department inspector general's report, D'Amuro warned FBI Director Bob Mueller that such activities would eventually be investigated. "Someday, people are going to be sitting in front of green felt tables having to testify about all of this," D'Amuro said, according to one of the sources.

Mueller ordered Soufan and a second FBI agent home.

No arrests, no FBI participants/witnesses... Principled or political?

Soufan, an MVP caliber anti-terrorism asset, has since quit the FBI.

He broke his silence in an April 23rd New York Times op-ed:
I questioned him from March to June 2002, before the harsh techniques were introduced later in August. Under traditional interrogation methods, he provided us with important actionable intelligence.

We discovered, for example, that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. Abu Zubaydah also told us about Jose Padilla, the so-called dirty bomber.
Maybe it's just me, but it really looks like Cheney turning the screw...

Cartoon: Wesley Bedrosian - New York Times, April 23, 2009.

Tortured Logic 1

I'm not a lawyer, but I know enough to find out what I don't know.

Waterboarding is torture. Torture is illegal, and can be prosecuted:
  1. 18 USC 2340-2340A
  2. Article 7 - UN Convention Against Toture
  3. Common Article 3 - Geneva Conventions

MSNBC, April 23, 2009.

Tortured Logic 2

Cheney seeks release of documents to cite in book... Or possibly prepare an "immoral but effective" Jack Bauer style defense.

MSNBC Countdown, April 24, 2009.

Tortured Logic 3

The Washington Post learned torture plans began before there were high level suspects to interrogate.

MSNBC Countdown, April 24, 2009.

Tortured Logic 4

Liberal George Washington University Law Pofessor Jonathan Turley plays Hardball with NBC's resident right wing apologist, Pat Buchanan.

MSNBC - Friday, April 24, 2009.

And the moon rose over an open field

From the album Bookends (1968)

Friday, April 24, 2009

I'm Wasted and I...

Ten years ago, this song was recorded for the Mod Squad movie soundtrack. Like Seal's treatment of Steve Miller in Space Jam, the primary difference in updating the Classic Rock original is increasing vocal density and complexity.

Alana Davis bio at All Muisc dot com.

Scientists Uncover Genetic Risks For Stroke

Someone in America dies of a stroke about every three minutes.

Some day I will, too.

Experts know relatively little about why people suffer these "brain attacks," but a study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that millions of Americans carry a gene that makes them more likely to suffer a stroke.

Audio: NPR's Morning Edition, April 16th.

First Sick Day in 17 years

Jay Leno, the “Tonight” show host, was hospitalized on Thursday and a taping of the show planned for that afternoon was canceled. NBC said Leno checked himself into the hospital because he wasn’t feeling well, but would not elaborate on his condition.

Jay moves from the “Tonight” show this summer to a nightly prime-time variety series on NBC in the fall... And the illness comes just weeks before the annual blitz of ad sales accompanying the unveiling of TV networks full fall schedules.

From: Google News, April 23rd.

There's an App for WHAT?

Apple has apologized after a game for the iPhone called "Baby Shaker" was approved for sale in the company's online store.

The application, which appeared in Apple's App Store on Monday and cost 99 cents to download, allowed a user to violently shake an iPhone screen to make a baby stop crying. After enough shakes, the hand-drawn baby displayed on the screen stopped wailing and a large red "X" appeared over each eye.

Tens of thousands of applications for the iPhone have been created by independent developers, but Apple has strict control over which ones are featured in the App Store, which recently ticked off the billionth download in just nine months of operation.

Article: Philadelphia Inquirer, April 24th.

Stand By Me

From the award-winning documentary, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music", comes the first of many "songs around the world" being released independently. Featured is a cover of the Ben E. King classic by musicians around the world adding their part to the song as it travelled the globe. This video and other songs such as "One Love" will be released on the film soundtrack and DVD in stores on Tuesday.

From: Playing For Change YouTube Channel.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Everything You Know Is Wrong

A new, more accurate, way to measure radio listening shows prime time for radio listening is really in the afternoon... Proving the industry's 50+ year conventional wisdom of deploying concentrated personnel & promotion in "peak" morning hours is far more conventional than wise.

With data compiled by Arbitron's electronic measurement system in 10 large metropolitan areas over six months, we continue to learn more about the dynamics of actual listening (rather than recalled listening in diaries). A new study by Research Director Inc. demonstrates that radio’s hour‐by‐hour listening levels are consistently strong throughout the day.

King of Pain

The Broadcasters Foundation of America honored Clear Channel Media founder Lowry Mays as one of the recipients of their Ward L. Quaal Pioneer Awards April 22 in the beautiful Monet Ballroom of the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas.

Jerry Del Colliano, who writes the Inside Music Media blog, had his torch and pitchfork ready when the news broke in early March.

"Broadcasters Foundation Chair Phil Lombardo made an ass of himself when he approved a news release that has him quoted as saying, 'Once again we are privileged to honor an esteemed group of broadcasters who have left a permanent legacy of commitment to the betterment of the radio and television industry.'

"Okay, let's put a stop to this bull right now.

"Lombardo is right that Mays has 'left a permanent legacy' on the radio industry but it was not for "the betterment of the radio and television industry'."

There's plenty more where that came from. Jerry talks a lot.

When you search "clear channel" on Google, the second auto complete option is "clear channel layoffs." You see, Mays strategy (once radio ownership limits were lifted and the floodgates were opened) was one of raw monopoly... own as much as you can.

Clear Channel acquired over 1200 US radio properties... highly leveraged empty shells, where (then publicly traded) CCU found they'd paid too much for the properties, then tried using technology, inter connectivity, mass cloning of generic programming plus relentless pay cuts and staff reductions to recoup. It didn't work.

When I was a broadcaster, I used the analogy of sustained yield agriculture in explaining our stewardship of our listeners, license and local economy.

In contrast, I'd describe Clear Channel as strip miners... Mays has left an ugly scar on the media landscape, killing many careers in the process of however many deadly sins he's racked up.

As Seen On TV

It looked like it'd be good:

Based on that early morning promotional appearance, I watched CNBC's 1AM ET/10 PM PT rebroadcast of the show... Which was followed immediately by an infomercial.

Get Darren Rovell's report and more! Go to As Seen on TV on CNBC.

Stop the Presses

What are the consequences when publications move to online-only?

Newspapers like the Seattle Post Intelligencer and Christian Science Monitor plus magazines like Blender have recently abandoned their print operations as a way to cut costs.

Although there aren't North American examples to cite as a predictable pattern, Taloussanomat, a financial publication from Finland that stopped printing to focus on digital operations in December 2007, offers evidence of what may happen, and of the promotional value having a print edition offers.

Bottom Line: Online-only newspapers face an uphill climb.

Audio: APM's Future Tense, April 20th.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Sun Shines

Las Vegas, like many cities, has experienced contraction in the newspaper business. At the beginning of the decade, it still had two dailies, the Review-Journal in the morning, and until (September 30, 2005) the Sun in the afternoon. The paper, drastically reduced in size, scope and staffing, is now included as a print section of the R-J, and continues operating with an independent editorial staff and its own website.

If this were a business school case study, the Las Vegas Review-Journal would be the clear winner.

However, on April 20, 2009, the Las Vegas Sun was awarded the first ever Pulitzer Prize for any Southern Nevada publication. The committee cited the Sun's Alexandra Berzon, a 29 year old general assignment reporter and primary author for the winning series:

Video: KVBC-TV, April 20th.
Anchor: Sue Manteris / Reporter: Steve Crupi

Lord of the Ring

Cheese Factory Contributor: Ken Morgan

Role Model

Cheerleading Controversy Sidelines Coach
2008 headshot.Imagine you looked like this...

Height: 5′2″
Weight: 105
Hair: brown
Eye Color: hazel

Maybe you were the prettiest girl in your school... A cheerleader... Very popular... And everyone said you should be a model... So you got your own page on a website showcasing models, which got you a a few small jobs, like this catalog...
Maier Manufacturing Catalog Shoot, 2008You became more widely noticed, and that got you some more jobs... And photographers telling you how beautiful you were encouraged you to be more seductive...
Left Coast Girls shoot, July 2008

And that attracted the attention of a higher paying opportunity with people always on the lookout for knockouts from next door: Playboy...

Feb. 2009 as Playboy Cyber Girl

That's nice... but not enough to pay the bills.

After the shoot but before her selection as a Playboy Cyber Girl, Carlie Beck took a job as a high school cheerleading coach. Everything went smoothly until one of her cheerleaders, Adelle Geniella, got cut from the squad and barred from next year’s cheerleader tryouts for having more than three unexcused absences.

Adelle then took her mom to the principal's office at Casa Roble High School in Orangeville California. Armed with Coach Carlie's Playboy photos, they got revenge by getting the coach fired.

Adelle Geniella appeared live on TODAY Monday with her parents, Scott and Heather Geniella, to talk about the case that has a high school near Sacramento up in arms — and debating just what it means to be a role model. The family insisted it was a matter of morals and respect — not sour grapes — that led them to full dis-clothesure:

The cheerleading coach's dismissal has divided students at Casa Roble High School. 14-year-old Lorraine Spradling, who is on the cheerleading squad, says everyone knew about the pictures.

"It's none of our business what she does in her personal life!" Spradling told INSIDE EDITION.

Beck claims she was honest about her past with school officials, and says her story comes with a warning: "It's important to know that anything you put on the internet will be there for the rest of your life."

Carlie Beck says she now plans to pursue a career in modeling.

Photos: From Model Mayhem portfolio.
Video: NBC Today Show, April 20th.

If you were a tree, what kind would you be?

Not a poodle!

A chain saw? Not your average ambient sound for city dwellers. But when I realized the man holding the saw was right outside my third floor apartment, I panicked.

He didn't mean me any harm, but he was trimming the tree outside. When I saw the finished product, with what seemed like very small clumps of leaves left at the end of surviving branches, I thought "poodle tree."

Officially it's some kind of ash... and now an amputee. But at least the more normal sparrow chirps and sounds of the city have returned.

Barbara Walters has been widely lampooned since her 1981 interview with actress Katharine Hepburn. She never asked the question: "If you were a tree, what kind would you be?" Video clips confirm Hepburn initiated it by saying she would like to be a tree, and Walters merely followed up with, "What kind of a tree?"

Come up with your own answer at Arbor Day dot Org.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Laugh It Off

Everyone seems to have a different tactic for venting their anger. Some people smash dishes, others yell and scream. But current research suggests that all that venting could be making us angrier.

Audio: NPR's Morning Edition, March 25th.
Photo: Peter Finch from the movie Network (1976).

Is laughter the best medicine?

Audio: CBS Radio's Osgood File, April 17th.

Bambi vs Google

One day in New York, Google's cameras recorded this street view...

Google explained: “The driver was understandably upset, and promptly stopped to alert the local police and the Street View team at Google. The deer was able to move and had left the area by the time the police arrived. The police explained to our driver that, sadly, this was not an uncommon occurrence in the region — the New York State Department of Transportation estimates that 60,000-70,000 deer collisions happen per year in New York alone — and no police report needed to be filed.”

Via: Next Nature & Streetviewfun.

Bambi Meets Godzilla (1969) is regarded as a classic of animation, and in 1994 was voted #38 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time.

Uncomfortable "Love Scenes"

Natalie Tyler-Tran of Sydney Australia runs the communitychannel video blog.

From: NBC's Today Show, April 9th.

Frogs in Edinburgh, Scotland, now have a waterside hotel that they can visit to mate with other frogs. An environmental group opened the hotel as part of a campaign to get more people involved in volunteering. NPR's Liane Hansen speaks with the Scottish coordinator of the organization, Robert Henderson, about the hotel.

Audio: NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, March 21st.

Bloody Controversial

When life hangs in the balance and blood is needed to save a patient even before the correct type can be determined, there's one lifesaver... Type O negative. With regard to transfusions of whole blood or packed red blood cells, individuals with type O negative blood are often called universal donors. But people with this blood type constitute 9 percent or less of any given ethnic group.

With this perpetual shortage of potential donors, a group of researchers led by Welsh Professor Marc Turner, plan to use stem cells to become the first team in the world to create a supply of disease-free blood that cannot be rejected during transfusions. It's not synthetic blood... But real blood, synthetically produced.

Audio: CBS Radio's Osgood File, March 23rd.
Article: Wales Online, April 16th.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Boozin' & Cruisin'

London Police patrol the streets looking for alcohol casualties... Reporter Anna Holligan says alcohol poisoning is up by 90% with three times more teenage girls than boys are being taken to hospital.

Audio / Video: BBC World Serivice, April 3rd.


Nice Cans, Paris

Their product was the only thing flopping!
Prosecco is a sparkling white wine from the Treviso province of Italy. Somehow German marketers got the idea to can it... No screw top, no box... Aluminum cans.

Then they got the idea they could sell their cans of "Rich Prosecco" by hiring someone rich and painting her gold, like the cans. But despite the nude blond socialite's "Goldfinger" impression, sales of 'sparkling wine in a can' have been in the toilet.

Now there are said to be over 30,000 units of the canned wine sitting in a warehouse in Serbia ready to be auctioned off at bargain basement prices before their expiration date in May. But even though she has proved not to have the Midas touch, bosses say they want Paris Hilton to star in several of their new ad campaigns.

From: Newslite, UK, April 13th.

It Wasn't Broke, After All

Remember "New" Coke?

In that fiasco, a reformulated product was yanked off the market in response to consumer criticism. Now its not the product, but the packaging that's caused a major advertising uproar.

Tropicana brand is junking the new orange juice carton design it only just launched weeks ago. They'll switch back to familiar orange skewered by a drinking straw, keeping only the orange screw cap that replaced the green.

In this video recorded at a press conference near the launch, you can see just how emotionally invested the ad agency's CEO, Peter Arnell, was in his agency's heavily over-analyzed carton design that has now been withdrawn from the market, and may cost his agency the lucrative account.

Lesson: Don't mess with market leaders.

Via Cheese Factory Contributor: Dan McGrath.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

She Came from Providence

I'm convinced that, beyond a feeling of youthful indestructibility, it takes one of two things to become someone who'll do anything... Complete Freedom or Complete Subjugation.

At age 20, the Marilyn I met seemed to be the latter portraying the former. Her "manager/husband" directed the performance.

On April 12, 2009, Chambers (nee Briggs, Chapin, Traynor, Taylor) was found dead in her trailer in Santa Clarita, California. She was 10 days shy of turning 57 years old. No coroner's report has been submitted as of this date , but foul play is not suspected.

In 1977, the poster girl for Early 70's 'Porno Chic' appeared on a segment of the NYC Public Access series Midnight Blue, having been filmed for only two explicit movies, but still portraying herself as an "anything, any time, anywhere with anyone" character, exploiting the wave of her ("Ivory Snow" girl next door who looks a lot like Cybill Shepherd does the nasty) debut.

YouTube Video: Marilyn Chambers Interview (Jan/Feb 1977).

Article: Vancouver Sun, April 15th.
Article: London Telegraph April 17th.
Photo: Hulton Archive/Getty circa 1973.

The one in Rhode Island

She came from Providence,
the one in Rhode Island
Where the old world shadows hang
heavy in the air
She packed her hopes and dreams
like a refugee
Just as her father came across the sea

She heard about a place
people were smilin'
They spoke about the red man's way,
and how they loved the land
And they came from everywhere
to the Great Divide
Seeking a place to stand
or a place to hide

Down in the crowded bars,
out for a good time,
Can't wait to tell you all,
what it's like up there
And they called it paradise
I don't know why
Somebody laid the mountains low
while the town got high

Then the chilly winds blew down
Across the desert
through the canyons of the coast, to
the Malibu
Where the pretty people play,
hungry for power
to light their neon way
and give them things to do

Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught 'em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought 'em
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea

You can leave it all behind
and sail to Lahaina
just like the missionaries did, so many years ago
They even brought a neon sign: "Jesus is coming"
Brought the white man's burden down
Brought the white man's reign

Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
'Cause there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here

We satisfy our endless needs and
justify our bloody deeds,
in the name of destiny and the name of God

And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about
what it's like up there
They call it paradise
I don't know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye

Eagles - The Last Resort
by Glen Frey & Don Henley
from Hotel California, 1976

Robot scientist makes a discovery on its own

Terminator... the beginning?

Prof. Ross King poses in front of ADAM, a robot scientist, that is perhaps the first machine to make a scientific discovery. (Courtesy of Aberystwyth University, Dyfed, Wales)

Article: Christian Science Monitor, April 8th.
YouTube Video: Terminator Salvation trailer (2009)

Meanwhile in Cyborgia... It's happening. The HAL (Hybrid Assistive Limb) robot suit is going into mass production and will be available in Japan sometime soon for around $4,200.

This is great news for HAL's target market: Its ability to grant its wearer tenfold strength increases during specific actions could change the lives of people with degenerative muscle diseases, or accident victims who would otherwise need long, difficult rehabilitative therapy to regain basic mobility. And with a five-hour battery life, it could be quite practical for day to day use.

Via: Gizmodo & Geekologie blogs.

Too Wierd for the West of Us?

Are inventions like robot supermodels or super soldier suits too weird to take hold in the U.S.?

Remember that the Sony Walkman, the great cassette-tape ancestor of portable CD players and iPods, also started out as one of those wacky Japanese inventions.

The Freakonomics blog at the New York Times suggests: "During this economic downturn, people are more open to a quirky product if it saves them money."

Note: TP is cheaper than "facial tissue" on both sides of the Pacific.