Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for August 30th, 2011

This is a public announcement (Murdoch phone hacking update)

Posted by Charles II on August 30, 2011

I just like the title (“This is a public announcement”), since it’s how perhaps the stupidest advertisement on TV–one that plays over and over on Countdown– starts. Presumably it is intended to imply that it is a public service announcement, which it definitely is not. But just the raw stupidity of saying on television, “This is a public announcement” appeals to something in me.

Anyway, phone hacking, which seems to have announcements in the same level of stupidity. James Robinson, The Guardian:

The names of several News of the World journalists who ordered a private detective to hack into mobile phones belonging to six public figures will not be publicly disclosed after Scotland Yard intervened to prevent their publication.

The names were passed to Steve Coogan on Friday by Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked for the paper, in compliance with a high court order the actor obtained earlier this year.

The names are critical to the phone-hacking investigation because they could show how far the practice was widespread at the paper, which was closed down by Rupert Murdoch last month, despite consistent denials from its owner News Group Newspapers. Coogan is one of several celebrities suing the paper for breach of privacy.

Similar high court orders have contained restrictions on publishing the names of News of the World journalists on the grounds that doing so could compromise Operation Wheeting, Scotland Yard’s ongoing investigation into phone hacking, by tipping off potential suspects.

Haven’t the suspects been pretty well tipped by a deluge of publicity?

Polly Curtis, The Guardian:

The Conservative party will not face an official inquiry into allegations that it broke electoral law by failing to declare News International’s payments to its former head of communications, Andy Coulson, after the elections watchdog concluded that there was insufficient evidence of a breach.

The Electoral Commission had been asked to investigate a series of payments amounting to a six-figure sum made to Coulson by News International in the months after he arrived at Conservative campaign headquarters in 2007, as well as a company car and health insurance he received for three years.

The Electoral Commission said there was no evidence that the payments related to his political activity with the Conservative party in any way.

He’s being paid, by a newspaper which is corrupting the government, to serve in that government, and there’s no evidence of a connection?

James Robinson, The Guardian:

Stuart Kuttner, the former managing editor of the News of the World, was taken into police custody for a second time on Tuesday, Sky News reported.

It is understood that the 71-year-old, who was arrested earlier this month, was answering police bail.

Kuttner was taken into custody by the Metropolitan police on 2 August. It is thought he was orginally arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications and on suspicion of corruption contrary to the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906. He was bailed until the end of the month.

Why Kuttner was re-arrested is unclear.


Posted in abuse of power, corruption, Rupert Murdoch, wiretapping | 2 Comments »

The more things change, the more I like the past

Posted by Charles II on August 30, 2011

AI was better 30 years ago, but it didn’t have voice synthesizers (from BoingBoing via Arequipa01 at Barry Ritholtz).

Posted in Just for fun | Comments Off on The more things change, the more I like the past

Eric Cantor To Missouri: Drop Dead.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 30, 2011

I was wondering when this would happen:

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is suspending payments for some projects in tornado-ravaged Joplin because of immediate disaster needs along the East Coast after Hurricane Irene. Some spending for other storm-related and flood-related damage in other parts of the country also has been delayed.

A FEMA spokesman said Monday that the agency’s disaster fund has dipped well below $1 billion.

As a result, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said Monday the agency will not consider any new applications for what it calls permanent repair work in pre-Irene disasters.


But Missouri’s two U.S. senators are still angry over cutbacks facing Joplin.

“Recovery from hurricane damage on the East Coast must not come at the expense of Missouri’s rebuilding efforts,” said a statement from Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican. “If FEMA can’t fulfill its promise to our state because we have other disasters, that’s unacceptable.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, said she will work to make sure Joplin’s repairs are fully funded.

“FEMA should be prepared for all types of disasters and have the resources to respond rapidly and stay until the work is done,” her statement said.

Why is this happening?

Because Eric Cantor would rather see the residents of Joplin starving to death in the streets than spend a penny more on disaster relief — much less actually tax rich people to help pay for it:

Just as Republicans held the country hostage over the debt ceiling (“give us what we want, or else”), Cantor is now trying to do the same over disaster relief (some of which may be needed in his home state of Virginia, which is in Irene’s path). As his spokesperson explained, “Eric has consistently said that additional funds for federal disaster relief ought to be offset with spending cuts.”

It’s one thing to demand offsets in theory, or even at the negotiating table, quite another to do so with a major hurricane bearing down, with a natural disaster possibly at hand. It would be like if a dying man desperately needed a blood transfusion but you refused to give him any unless he gave you his house and car. (Which is actually how health care works in the U.S., but let’s not go there.)

This was Cantor’s response to the earthquake that caused significant damage along the east coast, including in Virginia, it’s his response to Irene, and it’s his response to disaster relief generally. No money unless money is cut elsewhere. In other words: Give us what we want, or else. And you can be sure he won’t agree to cuts to military spending. He just wants to cut programs he’s ideologically opposed to — relatively insignificant funding for, say, public broadcasting, or more significant funding for the poor and those who otherwise are vulnerable and need government help, like Social Security and Medicare.

Consider the message he’s sending to the people along the east coast, in Irene’s path. We’ll help you but only if we can also weaken programs that help you. You get some disaster relief, but, otherwise, screw you. That’s what this comes down to. (Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, has pre-emptively declared a state of emergency. Cantor apparently doesn’t care.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »