Archive for July 6th, 2009

Forget Flushing: Composting Toilets Coming To A City Near You

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

In addition to catching raindrops, homeowners and building managers are trying out another way to conserve water: composting toilets.

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Emma Ruby-Sachs: Fort Worth Gay Bar Raid No Accident

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

Fort Worth, Texas is not some hick town in the middle of nowhere. It’s a city with almost a million people – the seventeenth largest city in the entire country. It’s population is only a little over 60% white and it is ranked an extremely safe city for its size.

It is also a city with an openly gay elected official and a population of gay men and women who frequent bars that do not have mysterious doorways with no name on the front in order to avoid detection from a largely intolerant community.

For many who learn about homophobia through movies like Boys Don’t Cry or reports on high profile cases like Matthew Shepard, gay bashing is a small town phenomenon these days. Large metropolitan cities are just safer, more tolerant and more progressive with their social values.

Well, integration will do that. It will encourage a population to compare their beliefs with the reality around them and many will come to the conclusion that intolerance bears little relationship to the pleasant neighbors and friends they interact with on a daily basis.

But a city is not just its population.

Police officers, politicians, city officials and other arms of law enforcement and law creation are not only influenced by their everyday activities. They are influenced by the legal system in which they operate. That system repeats day after day that gay Americans are second class citizens, that their government doesn’t care about their rights, that their relationships with each other are not as important or worthy of protection as their straight counterparts.

The message of official discrimination certainly bolstered Police Chief Jeff Halstead’s opinion that gay and lesbian patrons of the Rainbow Lounge in Fort Worth are not equally protected by law. The message of official discrimination gave Halstead’s employees the impression that slamming the head of one patron against a wall, resulting in a life threatening head injury, was acceptable behavior. It was this official discrimination that encouraged one member of the raiding team to assert that the restraint used – including the violence inflicted on patrons – was acceptable because someone touched his crotch in a sexual manner.

When Stonewall happened 40 years ago, the LGBT community was just realizing how big it was. It was an expression of power and identity in the face of forced anonymity and oppression.

The raid at Fort Worth is a different story altogether: A community that fought hard for measured acceptance in a big city was undone by the political understanding, distributed across the country, that despite your tolerance, when push comes to shove, LGBT Americans just don’t matter so much.

It is time to correct that misinformation. Fort Worth can achieve this by adequately punishing the officers and commission officials involved and following through on LGBT training for law enforcement officials.

But the real change will come when the federal government repeals legal discrimination against LGBT people and endorses, finally, a policy of equality and inclusion.

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Craig Newmark: Andrew Rasiej: when it comes to gov’t info "public" means "online"

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

The deal is that any info that the government publishes should be online.

Not okay to print and bury someplace where it’s hard to find.

Hear Andrew during a brief piece on NPR.

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Carolita Johnson: Signs The Summer Has Gone On Long Enough

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

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Barry Michael Cooper: Michael Jackson Agonistes: An American Pop’era In Three Acts

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

“…human beings are still human beings and not piano keys, which, though played upon with their own hands by the laws of nature themselves, are in danger of being played so much that outside the calendar it will be impossible to want anything.”

Fyodor Dostoevsky,
Notes From Underground

Act I: I Want You Back

Thursday, 25 June 2009, is the day everyone will live outside of the calendar, because that’s the day when time stopped and hovered over U.C.L.A Medical Center in Westwood, Ca.

That was the day our King Of Pop — Michael Joseph Jackson — died from cardiac arrest (a.k.a., a broken heart), at 2:26pm, Pacific Standard Time.

One-hundred-sixty-eight hours later into the twenty millionth rotation of a never ending news cycle — and to paraphrase a line from Joan Didion’s Slouching To Bethlehemmy center is not holding. A week later, and I am scared to turn on my TV, and not only because of BET’s dismal attempt at a Michael Jackson tribute during their annual awards show which aired the Sunday after his death. Despite the powerful and moving words from Janet Jackson — Michael’s beloved baby sister — and despite the best efforts of Ne-Yo, The OJays, Don Cornelius, Maxwell, New Edition, Tevin Campbell, Guy, Tyrese, Trey Songz, Monica, Keisha Cole, Jay Z, MC Lyte (the announcer), and Jamie Foxx as the host, the network (which some have caustically derided as Bamboozled Entertainment Television, a nod to Spike Lee’s 2000 satirical masterpiece on the state of African American TV) simply dropped the ball. And yeah, I’ve heard the apologia: they only had three days to prepare, a minefield of combustible backstage politics, blah, blah, blah.


This was Michael Jackson.
There are no excuses.

Even Sean “Diddy” Combs — a man constantly vilified in the press as an unrepentant attention whore, but who presented himself as a study of class, taste, and dignity in the front row audience Sunday night — seemed mildly befuddled by the uneven presentation. However, BET cannot be singled out, because all of the networks have been condescendingly mocking in their assessment of Michael Jackson, that Wacko-Jacko-weirdo-cosmetic-surgery-junkie-what’s-wrong-with-sharing-your-bed-pedophile. I mean, that’s the media’s King Of Pop construct, right? Even thought he was never convicted of the crime, and even though the kid from the first trial — Evan “Jordy” Chandler — has reportedly admitted almost two decades later, that Michael never touched him, and his stepfather wanted to fleece Michael out of millions.

Oh, did we mention that Michael Jackson has the biggest selling album of all time? That he was the greatest entertainer in the 20th Century? Naaaaah… just look at him! He’s the Joseph-John Merrick of Gary, Ind! The Elephant Man! He’s a freak!

I’m scared to turn on my TV right now, because I don’t have a life jacket to buoy me against the raging flash-flood of soundbites, clips, and endless b-roll of Michael Jackson’s oceanic talent. An oceanic talent which drowned in the undertow of our Tsunami-like exaltation.

You hear that?

It’s the explosion of grief, a lachrymal carpet bomb detonated by the wails of men, women, and children all over the world. There was a report on London’s website , that 12 people in Europe have committed suicide. Said Gary Taylor, the president and owner of the I know there has been an increase (in deaths), I now believe the figure is 12. It is a serious situation that these people are going through but Michael Jackson would never want this. He would want them to live. They (fans) can’t accept it, they feel in some sort of different reality. I’m stunned that he’s dead. One minute he is coming here for concerts and the next he is gone… there will be a huge depression in the fan community when that happens.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson also weighed in: There is great pain but great cause to celebrate Michael’s life. It made Michael happy saying “We Are The World”. Don’t self-destruct. We fall down sometimes, we get back up. That’s the right thing to do. In Michael’s name let’s live together as brothers and sisters and not die apart as fools.

That other sound in your ears, are the pinging, digital chirps of Blackberry’s, Palm Pre’s, and iPhones, confirming the delivery and receipt of texts, emails, pics, video, and file attachments; a cluster-pluck of Michael Jackson’s TM, which some have erroneously configured into his life.

Did he have a will?
Girrrl?! You know he was on that stuff! It was an overdose. He just didn’t wanna live no more.
I told you them kids weren’t his!
Is Katherine okay?
I bet he cut Joe out completely!
They found him bruises and needle-marks, my dude. Come on, now?! You know what this is! They knew the value of that catalog would jump through the roof, if he was-

A beggars banquet on a gluttony of gossip. An instantaneous appropriation through the airwaves of MJ’s music, abracadabra, iconography, secrets, and brand to be bought and sold. But what can’t be purchased, is his soul. I believe Michael wished his ghost to Providence a long time ago for safe-keeping, long before the first trial, because he had seen how the carrion-eaters got down while he was still in grade school.

I think a prescient Michael Jackson — the original Benjamin Button — heard the flap of vulture wings when he was just a seven-year-old charmer channeling James Brown and Jackie Wilson, gliding and soaring and singing in that audition with his brothers in Berry Gordy’s mansion on Boston Street on Detroit’s West Side. Or maybe it was on the Ed Sullivan Show, where a sunflower-Afro and bellbottom-jean-wearing Michael led The Jackson 5 through the paces of I Want You Back. Or maybe it Michael Jackson stamping his Nijinsky onto Thriller — Michael’s American Schereazade — where he retrofitted the ‘epaulement, releve’ and grand plie’ into the Moonwalk’s reverse ballet, on Motown 25.

Whenever and wherever the maturation of Michael’s business acuity, he knew this music bidness was not his friend. This business was a means to an end, and that end was to entertain us. To make us happy. But we are not happy, because this is truly fini in the three-act modern opera (or Pop’era, if you will) known as Michael Jackson Agonistes.

Logging onto You Tube — that HD’d, 4G time machine where the future of the past can be viewed in the present — I realize I can’t deal with this finality, because I can’t stop crying as I watch the video for Rock With You. In 1979, I was a 21- year-old clerk employed by the U.S. Post Office on 33rd and 8th Avenue in New York City. On Saturday nights, I was dancing the night away at Club Pegasus on 2nd Avenue and 64th Street, with my first love, Cynthia. Cynthia pushed me to seek out a gig with Soul Magazine — edited thirty years ago by J. Randy Taraborrelli, the same guy who later wrote an unauthorized MJ bio titled Michael Jackson: The Magic and the Madness — which published my first stories. Cynthia and I always waited for Rock With You to get our groove on, and when Michael sang, Out on the floor/there’s nobody there/but us…, that’s exactly what it felt like. You Tube is my portal: Jimmy Carter was in office. Florida, J.J., Michael, Thelma, Keith, Willona, and Penny moved out of the projects on final episode of Good Times. Fish and chips from Seafood Haven on 136th Street in Harlem. Subways without $20 metro-cards. Communication by phones you couldn’t put in your pocket and mail delivered without the speed of e and without lol’s. Crack was still the kinder-chanting sing-song thing you avoided on the sidewalk — in order not to break your Momma’s back — and not an extended enchanted evening of white-rocked witchcraft inculcated by a dangerously ambitious Bad Lieutenant Colonel and teenage obeah men carrying divination rods that resembled AR-15’s.

The video for Rock With You haunts me with memories and the desire to see that permutation of Michael Jackson once again. You know: Negroid Mike, the one with the subtle nose job and a splash of Luster-fied baby hair adorning his forehead like a Ethiopian crown. Rock With You projected a happy Michael Jackson onto the silver screens of our subconscious. A playful Boyish Man draped in a sequined, two-piece Osh-Kosh set — with matching booties — who mirrored a bioluminescent glitter child desperately trying to hold on to a rapidly evaporating innocence. Using his effortless choreography to transform fog, lasers, and halogen into his own sacristy, Michael Jackson allowed us into his sanctuary where the profanities of the material world could not touch him. Or U.S.

However, the noise from the rotary blades of that battalion of L.A. news-copters on Thursday, 25 June 2009, at 2:26pm, chopped the summer air and our glimmers of hope into quixotic slivers, as we realized our impossible dream was not going to come true.

Our King Of Pop was never going to wake up.

(Next, Act II: Man In The Mirror)

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Shelly Palmer: Hacker Jailbreaks iPhone 3GS: MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer July 6, 2009

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

Geroge Hotz is the first hacker to unlock the Apple iPhone 3GS. Hotz, who was the first to jailbreak the first iPhone, released the application Purplera1n this past weekend, the first piece of software that will allow the iPhone 3GS to run on a different network. Despite reports that Purplera1n makes it incredibly easy to jailbreak the iPhone, analysts believe only a small portion of users will attempt to modify the smartphone.

The Department of Justice is officially investigating Google’s book service. The DOJ will probe Google’s settlement with publishers and authors with acute insight into antitrust issues involved. The suit will not come to court until sessions continue in September.

Warner Bros. acquired the movie rights to Midway Games properties through a bankruptcy court sale. The Hollywood studio purchased the rights to the Mortal Kombat, Spy Hunter and Joust franchises and more for approximately $33 million. The struggling Midway was unleashed by parent company Viacom last year after CEO Sumner Redstone sold his controlling share of 87%.

Many networks are planning broadcast coverage of Michael Jackson’s funeral on Tuesday. ABC, CNN and MSNBC, as well as E! Entertainment, will cover the funeral live from the Staples Center beginning 10 am Pacific time. While NBC, Fox and CBS do not have planned coverage, CNN, whose Jackson coverage has spurned a ratings burst, will show the funeral on HLN (aka Headline News) and CNN International, in addition to its main channel.

Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs tied Transformers: Revenge of the Fall tied for the top spot at the box office this weekend. The 3-D animated Fox Film and Paramount’s summer blockbuster each took in $42.5 million domestically, while Ice Age grossed $148 million internationally to take the worldwide box office with a total of $215.5 million. Meanwhile, the Transformers sequel has grossed a total of $591.4 million worldwide.

Shelly Palmer is a consultant and the host of MediaBytes with Shelly Palmer a daily show featuring news you can use about technology, media & entertainment. He is Managing Director of Advanced Media Ventures Group LLC and the author of Television Disrupted: The Transition from Network to Networked TV. Shelly is also President of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. You can join the MediaBytes mailing list here. Shelly can be reached at For information about Get Digital Classes, visit

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Dylan Loewe: Did Sarah Palin Kill Michael Jackson?

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

Well, she didn’t quit to run for president.

Nobody would do that, could possibly do that, could at any point be told by any person that an idea that crazy might actually work out. It’s not just that it’s irrational; it’s that it’s insane. There is no political playbook (there will never be a political playbook) that calls this play.

Whatever the reason, it isn’t that.

Keep in mind that if you could pick any day in the year to dump a story like this, to try to damp down negative coverage, you’d have to go with the Friday before July 4th. If you wanted to keep the story low-key you’d hold a small press conference, hastily announced, before all of the press could arrive to ask questions. If you thought the story was a bad one, you’d do exactly what Sarah Palin just finished doing.

What kind of scandal could cause a resignation before the story has even broken? Pay-for-play, Ted Stevens style? A briefcase full of cash? Will there be handcuffs? Is there an ethics investigation bombshell about to be dropped? Did she kill Michael Jackson?

It’s just so exciting to think about.

But while Democrats have taken joy of late, impressed by how utterly fulfilling the twists and turns of Republican scandal can be, the total collapse of political characters like Sarah Palin and Mark Sanford may actually be the best thing that could happen to the GOP.

There is no doubt that the Sarah Palin of only a week ago would have been a leading contender to win the Iowa caucus in 2012. Her celebrity would have been a useful tool for building the kind of ground game necessary to compete there and her appeal among the religious right is high (60 percent of Iowa Republican primary voters are evangelicals). But had that win been her springboard to the nomination, it could have literally destroyed the GOP.

Against a powerful Obama organization and with a massive intellectual disadvantage, Palin’s lack of discipline and intelligence, her unyielding preference for trite rhetoric over even the illusion of substance, her total lack of self-awareness and her obvious lack of readiness would have caused unknowable damage to her party.

Every week, she finds a new way to embarrass herself. Lucky for Republicans, her latest train wreck means a future disaster avoided.

Mark Sanford too could have torn his party apart. Surely under the scrutiny of running for national office, Sanford’s exotic personal life would have been uncovered. Having this saga unfold now is far better for the GOP than having it unfold two weeks after Sanford’s nomination.

Whoever is unlucky enough to take on Obama in the 2012 race is going to face the most formidable incumbent in the history of American politics. The size and scope of his campaign organization will be so massive, so all-encompassing, that defeating it will be nearly impossible.

If there’s anyone who can, they aren’t on the stage right now. Not a single name mentioned as a potential Republican presidential candidate has anything near what it would take. The party needs to look elsewhere for its savior.

Though they may not realize it, the best hope of Republicans is for more scandals among their starting lineup. For a backbencher to emerge onto that stage, it helps to have Palin and Sanford falling off of it headfirst.

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Jack Myers: The Upfront That Could Have Been

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

As the broadcast network television Upfront moves forward quietly and with little momentum, it’s becoming clear that procurement and financial officers of major marketers are dictating the pricing decisions and driving Upfront purchasing models. Based on the deals that are being negotiated and completed, overall apples-to-apples cost-per-thousand pricing is down compared to last year with total Upfront sales down considerably, leaving a higher than normal percentage of inventory available for scatter markets. Exceptional deals are available to marketers who would agree to flat to modest CPM increases, but instead of capitalizing on these potential opportunities, marketers are walking away from incumbencies and category exclusivities, ignoring major long-term relationships in return for cost efficiency considerations. In this week’s subscriber report, I share detailed insights into this year’s Upfront market conditions.

Jack Myers is a media economist and consults with media companies, agencies and marketers. He can be reached at

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Kerry Trueman: Meet Meatless Monday

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

Has that long holiday weekend of grillin’ and chillin’ left you in a carnivorous coma? Feeling kinda sluggish after piling your plate sky high with the obligatory 4th of July burgers, hotdogs, potatoes, and pie?

The fastest way to shrink that post-barbecue belly this Monday is to let your body lighten up: step away from the saturated fats in meat and get your week off to a heart-healthy start with fruits, veggies, grains and legumes. And because livestock production creates more greenhouse gases than transportation, choosing beans or beets over meat one day a week helps to lighten your carbon footprint, too.

You’ll be in good company with millions of other folks who’ve joined the Meatless Monday movement and its British cousin, which share two simple goals: healthier people and a healthier planet. This not your father’s–or your grandfather’s–Meatless Monday campaigns, which flourished during World Wars I and II.

Back then, it was all about scarcity. Things like fuel, meat, sugar, milk, and cheese were in short supply and Americans were called on to sacrifice for the sake of the war effort. Now, we’re going meatless on Mondays for our own sake. Decades of cheap gas and bargain beef have created a surplus of ill health and greenhouse gas emissions, two things we really can’t afford.

Today’s Meatless Monday–a non-profit initiative run in collaboration with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health–is not about rationing. It’s about living rationally; i.e., eating more healthfully. Skipping meat even just once a week can help you avoid a wide range of illnesses, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

Not sure where to begin? You’ll find all kinds of tantalizing recipes on the Meatless Monday website, and, starting this Monday, Huffington Post will be featuring recipes from Ellen Kanner,
aka the Edgy Veggie. You’ll find plenty of pro-produce posts on the Green page from other bloggers as well (myself included).

Some of us are vegetarians or vegans, but others, like me, eat the occasional grass-fed burger or pasture-raised pork. We encourage meat-free meals because it’s not only healthy and humane, but because getting your calories from plant-based foods grown by the sun is such an easy way to support renewable energy. Calories, after all, are just another form of fuel.

So get your week off to a sunny start and make Monday your day to lighten up. After that, who knows? You might find meat-free eating so life-affirming that you’ll find yourself worshipping seitan on Sunday. I’m thinking about launching Tatsoi Tuesday, myself.

Read Ellen Kanner’s column with a recipe for Tunisian Roasted Vegetables

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Jerry Capeci: Tangled Tale Of Lawyer And FBI Informer

July 6th, 2009 admin No comments

The already tarnished credibility of FBI snitch Lewis Kasman, a key prosecution witness at the upcoming racketeering and murder trial of John (Junior) Gotti, was further sullied last week.

Kasman – the self-proclaimed “adopted son” of the late John Gotti who has already admitted stealing $80,000 while working as a paid FBI informer – was accused by a Manhattan attorney of stealing an additional $10,000 that the FBI gave him to use in a sting operation against the lawyer.

Joseph Bondy told Gang Land that – contrary to what Kasman told the FBI – he did not take $10,000 in cash from the wired-up informer at a meeting at the lawyer’s office on July 26, 2005 during a discussion about legal fees for Bondy. At the time, Bondy represented Junior’s uncle, Peter Gotti, older brother of the late Dapper Don.

“I wish I had,” Bondy told Gang Land.

That summer, sources say, the FBI and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn had targeted several mob lawyers in an investigation into tax evasion and money laundering, including Bondy and Jeffrey Lichtman, who represented Junior Gotti during the first of his three Manhattan trials that ended with a hung jury.

“He took it all back after I told him that I needed his Social Security number for an 8300 form that I had to fill out,” Bondy said.

Gang Land reached out to Bondy last week when looking into reports that the federal prosecutors in Junior Gotti’s case had told the trial judge that they had nothing to do with efforts by Kasman to snare Lichtman during Gotti’s trial. The lawyer, say the Manhattan prosecutors, was part of a larger corruption probe by their counterparts in Brooklyn.

According to FBI reports, Kasman was sent out with $11,500 in cash to see if either lawyer would take the funds, which were $1500 over the legal limit for unreported cash transactions.
The FBI report concerning Bondy states that “he retained the $10,000 in cash” and said “he would not file a report.”

But Bondy, who told Gang Land that he believed an associate of his was privy to “at least some of the events,” said that Kasman offered him even more dough – $13,000 in cash. But he said that the former Gotti family friend left his office with all the money. “I wish I had taken the $10,000,” he said.

According to the FBI reports, Lichtman accepted $9500 in cash towards his legal fees, a figure that he has confirmed. “I think it’s pitiful that they tried to entrap me in the middle of a trial,” Lichtman said when stories first appeared last year that he had taken cash fees from Kasman during the 2005 trial.

In publicly filed court papers, prosecutors told Judge P. Kevin Castel that defense claims that Manhattan federal prosecutors engaged in improprieties by sending Kasman to speak to Lichtman during the first trial “is a fiction.”

In redacted portions of their filings, the Gotti prosecutors say their office, and FBI agents involved in the Gotti probe, were shielded from all aspects of the lawyers’ probe by federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Castel also scheduled a hearing on a defense motion that the judge reconsider earlier rulings denying Junior bail on the grounds that prosecutors had failed to furnish the judge any allegations of recent criminal activity by Gotti that would call for him to remain behind bars while he awaits trial.

Castel, who has voiced some disagreement with recent arguments by prosecutors that Gotti is a danger to the community or a flight risk, scheduled the hearing for Wednesday (July 8) even before prosecutors could respond to the papers filed by Gotti lawyers Charles Carnesi and John Meringolo.

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