Thursday, March 31, 2005

Just One of Those Days

This is why I'm not a journalist. There are days like today when I'm too busy or too tired or just plain cranky and it affects my world view. If I worked in daily news, there would be days like today when I just couldn't do it anymore, days when I just couldn't bear the hypocrisy, the ridiculousness, the need to report on something that just needs to go away. But being a news junky with a healthy journalism school dose of knowing how to read between the lines is so much more fun. I get to keep up with what interests me and blow off what doesn't. Even so, there are still days like today. What in the H-E-double hockeysticks was it about the headlines today? I have to just chalk it up to being one of those days:

Science news: Study Says Dandruff a Major Cause of Pollution

In Jerusalem: Koran Scholar Says US Will Cease to Exist in 2007

In Indianapolis: Police Find Undelivered Mail from 1990s in Carrier's Home

On Drudge: Teen Beats Up Girlfriend for Voting for Kerry

I'm Not Bitter...Schiavo Redux

So, this afternoon, I'm scanning the news. The headline said Schiavo Family Asks for Privacy. Of all the media coverage, this headline made more angry than I've been in the past two weeks. The Schiavo family asks for privacy? What a load of horseshit. They've dragged our entire country into their personal issue and they have the gall to ask for privacy?

Privacy is the last thing the Schindlers have wanted in this very public struggle for their daughter's peace. They've been vocal, manipulative, and eager to exploit any person or group who could help their cause. They've played to every media outlet, pimped themselves to Jesse Jackson, and even lobbied for Congress to involve themselves a controversial -- and extremely questionable -- legislative action. They've been quick to let anyone attach themselves to their cause for the publicity or gross political gain. They've publicly begged for help from everyone including the Florida state legislature, the Florida governor, the US Congress, the President of the United States, the Supreme Court, religious leaders, and right-to-life activists even though their requests defied law. They didn't win a single court battle in their seven-year-long case.

Of all the posturing, manipulation, denials, and family infighting that we as a nation have been exposed to -- drug into -- none has made me so angry as their request, now that their daughter is dead, for privacy. Privacy is what Terri's husband Michael has maintained all along, and now that that these public parents have lost their fight, they have further use for activism or for anyone who put faith their cause. They only want to drop out of sight and mourn. For all the people who saw them as more than just parents, as more than just people fighting for her life, as a beacon in the right to life movement, and for all those who saw them wield their power, they are done. Their capacity for denial in their daughter's condition is over and they're moving on. Well, so long Schindlers. Thanks for taking charge of our national perspective for a short time to do nothing but further your personal cause. Now that Terri is finally resting in peace, enjoy your privacy. We've all earned it.

Here We Go Again, Indiana

Ahh, it's always lovely to wake up to a local Indiana "dumb hick" story in the national news. Say what you will about obscenity, local officials' right to enforce a law, or bitter yard art business owners, this has gone from county dispute to national news in a short day. Newsflash: Genitals exposed on bad, cement fake yard art. OK, we get it, your religious moral outrage wants the local dealer of big cement pots, virigin marys and bad Venus de Milo copies to cover up their naked statues. Maybe some parents found their 8-year-olds were sneaking down to the yard art place to see the "nekkid ladies". Oh, wait, there have been only two complaints? Is this like the conservative Christian group that's generated 98% of all the FCC television complaints? I like how the Sherriff is reported to be "cracking down" on the business. Now, can we do something about those yard geese people dress up in little outfits? From the San Francisco Chronicle:

Business told to hide nude statues

Associated Press

The Venus de Milo had better wear a top and Michelangelo's David should put on some pants if they're going to be seen at a yard art business. Bartholomew County officials told the business near Interstate 65 that it must move cement copies of the classical statues _ and about 10 others _ out of public view because they are obscene under Indiana law.

"It's not fair to point out our business, and personally, I don't find them offensive," Ginger Streeval, a co-owner of White River Truck Repair and Yard Art, told the Daily Journal of Franklin for a story Wednesday.

Frank Butler, the county's zoning inspector, disagreed. "They have nudity ... and that should not be in the view of a minor," he said. Indiana's obscenity law prohibits the display of nudity where children might see it, he said. The law also stipulates that such material is harmful for minors if, "considered as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value for minors." The sheriff's department and zoning officials cracked down on the business about 25 miles south of Indianapolis after receiving two complaints about the statues.

But Ken Falk, legal director for the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, said nudity has been part of art for hundreds of years and that using nudity to define obscenity could raise serious constitutional questions. "Just because something is nude doesn't mean it's obscene," he said. "If that were the case, most Renaissance art would have to be put into back rooms or hidden."

Blogging for the Brain!

So, ever wondered what all this blogging does for your brain? What about your analytican and associative thinking skills. Apparently it's not all bad. From Eide Neuroscience (via the Erudite Redneck.) Does is make us smarter from posting, reading, or generating ideas? Mmmmm. Peanut butter.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

DST -- Not DOA After All

Thank Gopod for Doug Masson keeping track of this because I've been too busy to run this to ground. Looks like the strip-and-insert in the Indiana Senate could work with Daylight Savings Time, but the bill they'll be gutting is the popular speed limit bill. As Doug says, the good news is we'll be on the same time as Ohio. The bad news is that without the 70 mile an hour speed limit it will take longer to get there. (Come on, it won't take an extra *hour*.) Hey, at least you'll save gas and at $2.30 a gallon that can't be bad. Last I checked, it was the Dems driving that crazy 55-miles-per-hour speed limit in the 70s gas crisis. I can live just fine with 65 miles an hour in order to get that extra hour of summer sun. If all goes well, time would change on June 5! Update at World from a Doug Perspective

Pimping My Ride: Pt II

FeedMe/DrinkMe gets a press mention in the food section of the Indianapolis Star. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

MJ Update 3/28

Testimony progresses for the prosecution. And as promised, Judge Melville ruled on the admissibility of previous alleged molestations in Jackson's past. After a three-hour hearing on Monday morning, Melville said that jurors can hear testimony about five boys who Jackson may have sexually abused or tried to seduce prior to the current case against him.

The victim in the Chandler case publicly settled in 1992 for $20 million will not testify. However, the son of a former Jackson maid paid $2 million in 1994 will testify. It is expected the boy will testify that Jackson groped him on three occasions. Macauly Culkin is the third case the prosecutors will bring up with third party witnesses, however Culkin has always denied any abuse. Prosecutors can also bring up two additional cases where Jackson paid to settle child abuse allegations although the amounts of money paid will not be revealed. The defense will maintain that these instances were all people seeking money from a celebrity. Reports are that Mesereau argued vehemently against this motion since this will most likely weaken his case substantially.

Friday and Monday saw testimony from various fingerprint experts (even the judge was bored) with the defense following a "mishandling of evidence" strategy focused on the magazine with both Jackson and the accusers fingerprint. Also on Monday, comedian George Lopez testified about his relationship with the family and various fundraisers, questions of mis-used money and the stolen wallet. The prosecutors are focusing on the father as the mis-user of money. Most celebrities have testified that it was the father asking for more.

Monday, March 28, 2005

RIP Paul Henning

Henning, who died over the weekend, was the creator of the Beverly Hillbillies, and most importantly, wrote to words to the song. (The Ballad of Jed Clampett was sung by Jerry Scoggins with Nashville blugrass stars Lester Flatt and Ear Scruggs on guitar and banjo.) So long, Henning. Hope they have cement ponds up there!

Stewart Asks Judge to Release Her

Poor Martha. After all the good she did stepping up and serving her time, she's back in court, this time asking a judge to suspend the rest of her sentence, mainly the house arrest (from the New York Daily News.) Supported by affidavits from Susan Lyne, CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and Mark Burnett, producer of Stewart's upcoming reality show, Stewart's attorneys asked the judge to free her so she can rescue her firm -- and, as Burnett states, so she can wear skirts and dresses without the unsightly ankle bracelet. Come on, Martha. Are we back to getting bad advice? I hope your not surprised when the Federal court judge turns this request down. Besides, I think it would have been cool on an apprentice-like show to have all the contestants head out to Martha's "farm" to go through their elimination. They can see first hand what happens when CEOs play too fast and loose with the law.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey

This morning, I finished the last of the typescript pages in 21: The Final Unfinished Voyage of Jack Aubrey. I've been delaying it, savoring every last sentence, not wanting the entire Aubrey/Maturin series to be over. I came late to O'Brian, not starting the series until the early 90s, but I'm convinced he left behind a legacy of one of the best literary series of all time. At his death, he was four chapters in to the 21st book. About three and a half chapters were transcribed and typed by his assistant and he was well into the fourth chapter by hand. American publisher WW Norton worked with his family to publish the remnants of this last book in a unique edition in 2004. Probably appreciated most by fans, the book features the typewritten pages across from the corresponding page of raw manuscript. As you move into the last of the book, the typewritten pages are blank while only the handwritten pages remain. It feels like a memorial with blank pages where text should be. (I once heard an orchestra stop cold after the fourth bar of the Lacrimosa in Mozart's Requiem where he died while composing it. It produced a similarly eerie effect.) But in reading 21, you can't help but be in the middle of an Aubrey/Maturin tale as it abruptly comes to an end. (Like many deaths in the navy, it might be unexpected, maybe just after the last word, the powder magazine blew up, leaving all the characters with similar unfinished narratives.) But visiting their world for a short time was worth it.

For the uninitiated the Patrick O'Brian series, also called the Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin books, tell the story of a young British Royal Navy lieutenant (Aubrey) who meets a penniless doctor in Spain (Maturin). Together they begin a lifelong personal friendship and professional relationship. We follow both through marriages, romances, deaths, battles, adventures, wars with the French and Americans, operations in the Pacific, shipwrecks and more beginning in the early 1800s and moving through 1820 or so. Maturin, also an intelligence agent, provides a counterpoint to Aubrey's spectacular, flamboyant, and sometimes disastrous naval career. Like many naval officers, he's a brilliant success on the water but a disaster on land, and with brief visits to friends and family ashore, the two spend most of their lives happily at sea. O'Brian, himself a naval historian among other things, painstakingly researched and recreated every detail of daily life aboard these ships and based his battles and many of his characters on real accounts and real actions. The detail of the ships and sailing with naval strategy, sails, rigging, and weather keep even the purists happy and set his work apart from the sentimental children's stories like Horatio Hornblower. Often his most humorous accounts and situations were based on actual events showing the modern reader that in the early 19th century, truth was often stranger -- and funnier -- than fiction.

If you love great writing, complex use of language and rich characters, read O'Brian. Like most real people you meet in life, you don't get the full depth of many of his characters on the first reading or even the second. O'Brian's writing is so rich, complex, and fluid that you instantly find yourself tranported to distant oceans. It's complicated reading at first, but the richness is what makes it so wonderful on the second, third, and even fourth readings. I've now read the entire series four times (it takes about six months) and I am still catching details or subtle humor that I missed the first three times. (In 21, I found myself only just being able to catch a joke of Stephen's on first the read -- he often plays dumb with very deadpan sarcasm. When was the last time you got that from a character in a book without being told?)

Lots of new people were exposed to O'Brian last summer with the movie, Master and Commander. Fan opinion was split (like O'Brian, many fans are purists), but even though it was an amalgam of events from many of the novels, the loose plot was based on Book 10, the Far Side of the World. Director Peter Wier is a huge fan and paid close attention to detail with the ships and characters.

To read the series, start with book 1, Master and Commander. Books 2, 3, and 4 are pretty self-contained stories (book 2 taking place largely on land is most series fans least favorite book). Hang in there for book 3, HMS Surprise, though, as it's one of the best. Books 5 through about 9 are sort of one long adventure, with each pretty much starting where the last left off, as are books 10 through about 15 or so. 21 had our shipmates in Brazil where Jack Aubrey hoisted his flag at last (was made an admiral) and was taking his squadron to the South African station. So, RIP O'Brian. In our imaginations Jack and Stephen sail on.

On Babies and Butting In

The other day I was talking to a wonderful friend of mine who had her first baby last year. She’s a fun, practical no-nonsense professional who loves her daughter and husband, but also loves her career. (She’s an MBA and marketing director.) We were talking about those women – you know them – the ones who feel they have the right to judge everything you do as a mother. So, my normally very polite, very considerate friend zinged one the other day. She’s not as snarky as I am, so I was surprised, but also very proud when she met her latest “helpy-helperton”. The woman was a stranger but a friend of a friend. They all ran into each other at Target. My friend had her 9-month-old daughter with her. They were all catching up about jobs and working and kids and the stranger says “You work?!”

Um, yes, my friend replies. “Well, why did you have children?” (It’s a common implication in the Midwest. If you work, it’s a scandal to not stay at home with your kids all day.) My friend without missing a beat says, “Oh, for the tax deduction, of course.”

All conversation stopped cold while her friend and the “friend” made a hasty departure. (In her defense, she says “Hey, 10 minutes before a clerk at Target had leaned over my daughter and said “Well, Hello! Aren’t you fat!”)

I didn’t realize my ordinarily very polite friend had such a penchant for snappy comebacks. She says that once while she was pregnant, she ordered a diet Coke at a popular pizza place. Regulars know that their diet Coke is caffeine free. After she ordered her drink, a random stranger at the counter leans over and says “should you be ordering all that caffeine?” “Oh, it’s OK”, said my friend. “It really helps my hangover.”

Friday, March 25, 2005

Gone But Not Forgotten

Well, well, well. Buried at the bottom of state/local news is a piece on the status of Daylight Savings Time legislation in the Indiana Senate. Apparently, Rep Robert Alderman (R-Ft. Wayne) has been working to find it a home in a piece of Senate legislation. His first thought was as an amendment to bill on tobacco shipment restrictions. Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton (R-Columbus) was having none of it. Senate rules say the amendment has to be relevant to the legislation. It has to fit. So Garton suggested they try a "strip-and-insert", that is amend it to a bill, then strip out the main provisions of the bill so that the amendment passes. Of course, first Alderman has to find a bill that would work and then convince the bill's sponsor to go along. But, hey, it could happen. It's still a hot button issue in the statehouse, but there was a rumor of strong Senate support before the bill was killed in the walkout by House Democrats.

Pimping my Ride

While I'm pimping blogs today, check out Feed Me/Drink Me for a Very Special Post about fruit salad. (And Oklahoma, too.)

One Last Thing on Schiavo

Here's the last thing I really have to post on Schiavo only because I found it interesting and it also answers some questions I've seen posters on other blogs have. Here the timeline for all of the legal proceedings from the past seven years including doctors examinations, etc from Abstract Appeal. Thanks Doug Masson for the pointer.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

MJ Update 3/23-3/24

Weds, jurors took an early break so Melville could hear admissibility arguments regarding the computer hard drives taken from Neverland. The hard drives had more than 1700 images of naked women stored on them. Prosecutors argued it was a circumstantial link and should show the type of images Jackson may have showed to his accuser. Defense attorneys argued the material could have been sent to Jackson unsolicited and that it was unclear if Jackson himself had accessed the images. (I love how they’re still trying to portray Jackson as not just innocent of the crime, but completely clean! Shiny! Pure!) Melville ruled to disallow the computer hard drive evidence as it was impossible to know if Jackson or the child had accessed it.

Also on Weds, Sheriff’s Det. Craig Bonner testified that he had found the adult magazines in a brief case in the Neverland search. No DNA was found on the magazines for either Jackson or the boy (which isn’t unusual, I’d think.) However, fingerprints of both Jackson and the boy were found on at least one magazine. (This is the grand jury magazine issue.)

Last to testify (and to continue on Thursday) is Dr. Antonio Cantu, a Secret Service agent and forensics expert on fingerprint recovery.

In other news: Defense attorney Brian Oxman was taken to the hospital after he had trouble breathing. He’s was admitted for observation of right lung pneumonia. (There was a stray report somewhere that a fan collapsed in the courtroom and had to be taken out on a stretcher but I was unable to find reference to it today. I suspect it was an early report and in the confusion Oxman's collapse was mis-reported as a fan.)

Santa Maria Times has an interesting commentary on Jackson’s mom in the courtroom during the presentation of prosecution exhibits (681 adult magazines)

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Where Was Julia?

When I heard about the Congressional vote last weekend pulling members of the House of Representatives back from their Easter break, I wondered whether or not Julia Carson made it. Well, sure enough, my local Congressional representative was there and did vote in person. And it was a vote that I agreed with. So, thanks, Julia. Doesn't mean I won't make an issue of the next time you're missing in action, but I'm glad you were there to at least register a "nay" for asking the Federal courts to reopen the Schiavo case. Roll call vote.

Pritzger Prize

American architect Thomas Mayne was named on Monday as the winner of the Pritzger Architecture Prize, the highest honor in architecture. He's the first American to win in 14 years. He and his firm, Morphosis, have been labeled over the years as idiosyncratic, iconoclastic, and inventive, but in a town famous for one-hit wonders, Mayne has not only been consistently good with his approach, but he's proven his buildings work. Lacking a signature style, like Frank Gehry, Mayne tends to favor exposed crossed atriums, light, technology, and even onamentation. He's currently most well known for the the Caltrans District 7 Headquarters in LA with the perforated mechanical "skin" that adjusts to light making the building almost transparent in the evening. He's also just completed the redesign of the Alaska State Capitol in Juno.

His next projects include the Cooper Union in Manhattan and the Olympic Village (should it be needed) in Hunters Point. He's a founder of the Southern California Institute of Architecture and teaches at UCLA. Gothamist on the award and some Mayne buildings.

And in other wacky architectural news, here's the scoop on the Chicago photography ban in Millennium Park. From Chicagoist.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Mary Matalin to Head S&S Imprint

Here's a little spot of news that will be all over the publishing trades tomorrow: Simon & Schuster has hired Mary Matalin to head a new conservative imprint. Here's what we know: Imprint is yet unnamed (not uncommon). Six-ten titles a year starting in 2006. She won't edit (in the publishing sense) but will edit (in the Judith Regan sense). This could be a good fit for her. It's probably safe to say she won't have to worry about books from her husband! (Did anyone else watch K Street and love it as much as I did?) Go Mary!

MJ Update -- 3/22

Wow, this Schiavo thing is crazy. It's knocked MJ right out of the news cycle. I had to go digging for my updates.

Yesterday, the child abuse specialist continued on the stand through cross ex with Mesereau working hard to try to discredit the child. The psychologist testified that children lied in only about 6 percent of cases.

The prosecution also called flight attendant Lauren Wallace who testified that in 2003 and 2004, she served Jackson wine in Diet Coke cans on private jets. She also testified that she kept small liquor bottles out of reach of small children and that she never saw any drunk kids on the flights. In re-direct, prosecution clarified that she was not the flight attendant on the Miami flight in question.

Day ended with prosecution calling comedian Louise Palanker who met the children at a comedy camp and had given the family financial assistant.

Tuesday: Today began with continued testimony from Palanker who says the mother called her in tears after the Bashir video aired and said they weren't being allowed to leave the Jackson ranch. (Short testimony today. No reason stated. Jackson was in court and apparently feeling somewhat better.)

A Few Notes on the Schiavo Situation

A few notes on the Schiavo case that you may have missed in all the political posturing. Just a few points to, you know, consider, while everyone is off running around emotionally half-cocked about this whole situation:

Regardless of what you think personally of the morality issue, the vocal right pushing for Congressional intervention is a small minority. Polls across the country are showing 60-90% of Americans believe Terri and Michael's wishes should be respected and she should be allowed to die. Congress and opportunistic Republicans are responding to a vocal minority. (Remember that, too, when you hear all the posturing in Florida in the future about "renegade judges".) I've been reading material from a lot of people who seem to believe that this is a red state/blue state issue or that it's signaling some wide rift in American politics. It's not. It's a political move to make DeLay look better at home in Texas. My question: where they hell is the DNC on this? They should getting a big fat piece of this action making up ground with moderate Republicans who are sickened by the whole mess and starting to feel that the straw is piling up on the backs of camels. (Still isn't enough to make me ever vote for Hillary, though.)

Meanwhile, back in Texas: So, where was DeLay, Bush, and the GOP two weeks ago when this handicapped child was taken off a feeding tube in a Houston hospital? Did they just not have it figured out as an issue yet? Or is Texas such a GOP lock that they didn't bother. Better to play this whole crazy religious scenario out in a state that we might actually need in the next election. (Don't forget what the GOP did for you, Floridians!)

Who's been paying for Terri? Terri's care has been provided largely by Medicaid (a program Bush is cutting largely in the areas of long term care) and the proceeds of a malpractice lawsuit, exactly the kind that Bush and the Republicans are hoping to limit with new legislation capping awards (like they already have in Texas.) I'm not sure how Bush reconciles these issues with the one at hand.

Denial is a river in Egypt. No doctor who has actually examined Terri (never mind all those pundits on CNN) has said she has any chance of recovery. Don't you think if rehab could fix her after 15 years they would have tried it? The video is disturbing, but it's four years old and many say that even her uncontrollable reflexes to smile, grimace and look around have slowed quite a bit in the past few years.

NPR has been doing some terrific reporting on this whole situation and two things that were on yesterday have stuck with me:

First, an interview with Terri's court appointed advocate from 2003 (yes, contrary to what many would have you believe, she's had several court appointed advocates). He described an emotional deposition of Terri's family held by Michael Schiavo's attorneys. (Keep in mind this is a a case that has been in the court system for seven years.) Michael's attorneys asked her family to what lengths they'd be willing to go to save her. "Anything," they said. He put forth an example of diabetes, what if she needed an amputation? "Yes," they said. "Two amputations?" Yes! Three? Four? Yes! Anything! "What if she needed open heart surgery, would you do it?" Yes, they said, anything. By the time the attorney was finished with his gruesome descriptions, it was clear that the family irrationally would do anything to save Terri. Sadly, a decision has to be made.

The second thing that struck me was an interviewer asking one of Michael's attorneys the obvious question: Why doesn't he just divorce her? Michael had told him that as a young couple, they had attended several family funerals where family members had died after long periods of time on life support. "Don't let that ever happen to me," she said (supposedly) several times. When a woman is married, her husband is supposed to become her partner, her mate and the one who more than her family, can make a decision based on her wishes. This case will have stuck with all of us when it's finished. Whether the taste it leaves is one of sadness for her or disgust for the situation, it's a private glimpse into our nation's future and one family's struggle.

Voter ID Passes Indiana House

Woke up to this news this morning. Doug Masson gives a helpful summary of the SB483, the bill requiring photo identification at the polls. I don't think this is a bad bill. We have DMV voter registration in Indiana (for both drivers and state ID card carriers) and this bill has provisions for non-ID carriers, so I'm just not buying the state Dems objections. But ultimately most significant about this issue is that it's one of the sticking points that House Minority Leader Bauer used as a sticking point for the walkout at the half-session point. State R's were able to work this from the Senate side as this was on Bosma's hit list of resurrected issues, but I'm still bitter that daylight savings time got caught in the middle of a pointless power struggle. Ah, well, another summer of early nights. I'll remember the small victories when I whip out my drivers license at the polling booth for ID.

Playgirl Editor Fired

As noted here last week, Playgirl's Editor-in-Chief came out in last month's editorial as -- gasp -- Republican! As of yesterday, Drudge (muckraker to the stars) is reporting that she has been fired for her political leanings "after an onslaught of liberal backlash."

"Hello Drudge, "After your coverage of my article about coming out and voting Republican, I did receive many letters of support from fellow Republican voters, but it was not without repercussions. Criticism from the liberal left ensued. A few days after the onslaught of liberal backlash, I was released from my duties at Playgirl magazine. "After underlings expressed their disinterest of working for an outed Republican editor, I have a strong suspicion that my position was no longer valued by Playgirl executives. I also received a phone call from a leading official from Playgirl magazine, in which he stated with a laugh, "I wouldn't have hired you if I knew you were a Republican."I just wanted to let you know of the fear the liberal left has about a woman with power possessing Republican views."

I'd think she's either got on hell of a lawsuit or she's giving Matt Drudge way too much credit.

Monday, March 21, 2005

MJ Update, Mon 3/21 (I Can't Resist!)

Jackson -- late to court again today! This time, according to reports, he arrived five minutes late, helped in by a doctor and bodyguard, apparently in pain. He sat and covered his face with tissues, apparently tearing up from the pain. (Oh, the pain of this trial!) Then was escorted out again. Melville conferred with attorneys and court started 45 minutes late. Melville offered no explanation of the delay to the jury. (Gossip says MJ has literally made himself sick with his histrionics over this trial. Also, rumors are that sister Janet is the one who financially bailed him out last week.)

Today's testimony was mainly from the prosecution expert on child abuse supporting the boys' behavior regarding their accounts of the abuse, their loyalty to Jackson, and reluctance to discuss the abuse.

In Case You Were Wondering...

Doubleday is still silent on the release date of Dan Brown's next novel, The Solomon Key, but rumor is it could be as late as mid-2006. Featuring Robert Langdon from The DaVinci Code, the book is said to focus on Washington DC and Masonic secrets. Also, no word on the paperback release of DaVinci Code but look for it to coincide with the release of the movie which could be as soon as late this year (Tom Hanks, yada yada.) Rumor in the book world is that Brown hasn't delivered a manuscript to his editor yet. (And the NY Times today reports that execs say it's not expected until later this year.) He and his editor are talking daily. Oh, yeah. I'll bet they are. No pressure, Dan.

Apple, Suits, and the Press

In classic Silicon Valley PR fashion, John Markoff in today's NY Times spins a tiny issue - the Apple ruling - into a world-changing catalytic event similar to everything Apple Computer. Has. Ever. Done! Long live King Steve! The entire time I worked in Silicon Valley PR (all 9 months of it), I kept thinking, "Is this all there is?" How can so many have made so much by selling so little? But, there you have it. That's the game. So, here is Markoff (an old tech pro) today spinning a thousand words on how great Apple is, how strongly the Electronic Frontier Foundation is fighting, and how this how this ruling could effect bloggers and journalists. Everywhere! In reality, you've got one judge on one state who has narrowly defined the issue and said, journalism or no journalism, if you steal trade secrets it doesn't matter what you do with them. They're still stolen. And you have to let us know who sold or gave them to you. The real question here isn't a journalistic one. It's one affecting employees: What is the difference between revealing a trade secret and whistle blowing?

The judge said in his ruling that it's OK to reveal something as long as the revelation of the secret is "in the public interest" but how do you define that? And isn't reporting something for the good of the consumer base of the company "in the public interest"? Jonathan D. Glater in the Times writes:

Although Judge Kleinberg distinguished new product information from the whistle-blower who reveals that a company is polluting the public water supply his decision does not spell out when disclosures of a secret may serve a sufficiently great public interest to justify a reporter's protecting the identity of the person who revealed it.

"It suggests that not just for online journalists but for all journalists, the rules are different when you're talking about trade secrets," said Deirdre Mulligan, director for the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clink at Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. "And is also constructs a fairly narrow notion of what's in the public interest."

Yes, for all journalists, the rules are different when you're talking about trade secrets and it will always be a challenge to define what exactly is in the public interest. But many journalists would argue that those rules are already different. We didn't need a few bloggers to come along and try to clarify this for us. What it does do, though, is bring to light that the courts may more narrowly define "trade secret" to be, in essence, anything that a company doesn't want revealed about a new product or plan without releasing the information itself. Does this decision open doors for new definitions of what can be written about? Possibly. But does it act as a redefining moment for journalists and bloggers across the US? No. No matter how much they may want it to be.

AP Gives Just the Facts and More

Today's NY Times was just chock full of bloggity goodness including the short article on the Associated Press. In an effort to stay competitive, AP has started transmitting articles with both a regular lead (or lede, some say), with an optional lead providing more descriptive imagery. It's an effort for the 156-year old agency to stay competitive. Optional leads not available to Internet providers but are only for the 1500 daily print newspapers currently members. An example:
Straight lead: LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A jury acquitted tough-guy actor Robert Blake of murder Wednesday in the shooting death of his wife four years ago, bringing a dramatic end to a case that played out like pulp fiction.

Optional lead: LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Robert Blake left court playing a role he hasn't known for a long time: that of a man no longer charged with killing his wife, non longer cast as the lead villain in a bizarre murder trial.
I think they should just go all the way with the Tabloid Lead: LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Robert Blake gets off in dramatic last minute jury thriller involving his wife and a hit man! Or maybe the Lifestyles Lead: LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A Los Angeles jury acquitted aging actor Robert Blake who sported a shock of white hair and a rugged look while thanking supporters. Or... maybe a, oh, I could do this all day.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

MJ Update -- Friday, 3/18

Fridays are usually my favorite days on the Jackson trial since they're usually miscellaneous hearing and motions days. This past Friday was a bit slow.
  • Melville said he would rule on 3/28 whether or not the prosecution will be allowed to bring up Jackson's past accusations of child abuse. Both were multi-million dollar settlements and neither brought criminal charges. The defense believes they are irrelevant and confusing.
  • Melville also denied a defense request for a mistrial based on a prosecuting attorney named at least one of the boys who had previously accused Jackson. The judge ruled that the mere mention of the name was in context and would not jeopardize their case.
  • Melville ruled that the defense can add comedian George Lopez to the witness list to question him about a falling out over money that he apparently had with the accusers family.
  • Both sides and Melville also discussed the issue regarding the fingerprint and the adult magazines. The magazines were not checked for fingerprints until after the grand jury testimony and the boy's fingerprints were found on at least one. It is unclear whether or not the fingerprint was placed on the magazine during grand jury testimony. The defense asked for the right to call grand jurors to testify if they'd seen the boy handle the magazine. Melville opted to exclude grand jurors as witnesses and members of the prosecution have volunteered to testify in their place. The court reporter may also be called.
Some are saying this trial will go the full scheduled five months while others are saying this trial may wrap up in four months.

Jury reaction: Some reporting on jury reaction from the Santa Maria Times:
Reactions so far by the 12 jurors and eight alternates have been tough to categorize. Several appeared disengaged and bored by the testimony, even when Jackson's accuser took the stand. Others took copious notes. The jury enters the courtroom each day smiling, and about half the panel dressed in green for Thursday's St. Patrick's Day. Most appear to have warmed to Melville, who occasionally jokes with them using his characteristic dry sense of humor. The presence of a world famous defendant does not seem to phase them anymore, and they rarely look in Jackson's direction. However, trial consultant Richard Gabriel said guessing a juror's reaction on body language can be misleading. "The juror who is nodding and winking at you during the trial is the one that can hit you the hardest in the deliberation room," Gabriel said. "Some jurors will as a rule say, 'I know everybody's watching me, I'm going to personally look disinterested.' There's some jurors who scowl because that's how they express concentration. Some are smiling at a witness, but thinking that the person is (lying)."

Schiavo and the DC Buzz

Am back from a long weekend and still full of food and mellowness. But the big buzz inside the beltway was about two things: Clinton as the next possible head of the UN and the sad case of Terry Schiavo. As a Republican, I wish some members of my party would just shut the hell up and let this poor woman die in peace. I wish her family could finally face the reality that she's not coming back, even if she does blink at them. And I wish the Christians who are protesting for Terry's right to live, would spend one half the time, energy and effort into improving the lives of living people. Before I could even draft a complicated and long thought, I found The Curmudgeon has an interesting take which helps start to explore the issue. Right-to-lifers should be more consistent and a lot of what he says gets to the kernel of what bothers me about these willing-to-jump-on-any-bandwagon Christians and politicians. Now, if Howard Dean could just stop calling Republicans "brain dead", I might actually stop and listen to him long enough to be embraced by what he's doing over at the DNC. But the Dems aren't going to solve their problems by alienating those of us in the middle who would be willing to listen if they'd stop spouting bitter invective long enough to say something of interest.

Friday, March 18, 2005

MJ Updates -- Day 13 and 14

The prosecution continues to move through their case at a pretty good clip. Weds and Thursday featured more law enforcement personnel as well as some of Jackson's personal staff.

On Weds: Lead sheriff's investigator Sgt. Steve Robel continued his testimonies saying the boy accusing the singer of child molestation shed tears when first describing the alleged acts of molestation. His testimony opened up quite a bit of questioning and cross examination on the time line of the molestations, how many occurred and when.

Next, sheriff's detective Paul Zelis testified about what materials had been found in the searches at Jackson's estate. These materials included adult books, magazines, and DVDs some published after March 2003, the date the alledged molestations took place. Many of these materials were found in a search at Jackson's estate and some were found in two locked briefcases. These materials were viewed by the jury via a large video screen. (You'll recall that the judge has said prosecutors are not allowed to refer to these materials as "porn" or "pornographic". The defense clarified that these books, magazines, and DVDs are all available for legal sale and purchase. Also significant from Zelis' testimony:

Sheriff's Det. Paul Zelis testified Wednesday that he found at least one adult magazine in Jackson's bedroom nightstand. A photograph of the drawer shown to jurors included the adult magazine with two pictures of young children next to them. One showed two babies in diapers, another a shirtless toddler in a wash basin with a puppy. A picture of Jackson's accuser and his brother and sister was also found in the nightstand drawer, Zelis testified. Prosecutors have said at least one adult magazine seized at Neverland features the fingerprints of both Jackson and his accuser. But Zelis admitted to Jackson defense attorney Robert Sanger that one batch of adult magazines seized from Neverland were not checked for prints until they were presented at a grand jury hearing convened in March and April 2004, during which the boy testified. Zelis said he was uncertain if the boy handled the magazines during the grand jury hearing.

On Thurs: LA weatherman Fritz Coleman testified he gave Christmas gifts to the family and had no concerns that it was a scam. He and his staff had identified them as a needy family and felt the had significant financial problems. He also performed a stand-up comedy routine at a benefit for the boy when he was diagnosed with cancer. Under cross-ex, though, he also testified they never solicited him for money (as the defense has said the family did to other stars such as Jay Leno.) (Somewhat surprisingly. The defense had apparently expected otherwise.)

Kiki Fournier, who served as housekeeper at Neverland from 1991-2003 testified she had seen children drunk at the dinner table with Jackson. She also testified that she had never personally seen Jackson give alcohol to children and that she didn't specifically remember the accuser. She said children were often out of control in the permissive environment and their behavior was "destructive". On cross examination, she testified the guest quarters had been "trashed" by the accuser and his brother during their stay in Feb/March 2003. "I believe that it was he and his brother staying there." She also testified that Jackson lavished attention on certain boys at Neverland and that it wasn't uncommon for those boys to stay in MJ's bedroom. She identified Macaulay Culkin as one of these children. (Defense had at one point said it would call Culkin to testify nothing had ever happened with Jackson. Culkin has a substance abuse issue and may currently be in rehab after his recent arrest in Oklahoma City.)

Today (Friday), the jury and Jackson are dismissed as Judge Melville will hold several routine hearings related to the case. Also Wednesday, Melville said a hearing about whether past allegations of child abuse against Jackson are admissible at trial may occur next week.

Since 1993, Jackson has made two multi-million dollar financial settlements with two boys after they accused him of sexual misconduct. The judge earlier ruled that prosecutors had to prove their current case before he would decide whether to permit these alleged past bad acts.
This is one of the first references I've seen to the 2nd settlement, but I expect we'll be seeing more about it in coming weeks, especially if Melville allows it into evidence.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

No Ban on Car Video Screen Porn

Speaking of California, I noticed this bill a few months ago when it was first introduced. Now everyone can say a car-screen video porn ban had it's day in the sun (so to speak) or on the floor of the California statehouse. The bill sought to ban x-rated movies from car video screens. The scenario:

You're cruising down Interstate 80, kids crammed into the family sedan, when Junior spots the flickering images on the video screen in the Honda Odyssey one lane over and starts snickering. Taking your eyes off the road, you spy the featured attraction: writhing naked bodies enjoying fleshly pleasures in the porn epic "Caught from Behind." Ah, the challenges of modern parenting.

Is this a huge (heh, "huge") problem in California? (Truly the land of opportunity flowing with milk, honey and porn.) Is it that drivers are trying to get a better view? ("Oh, no? Is that porn? I'd better check!") Or is it that they can't change lanes? The California Highway Patrol has given fewer than 1000 tickets for "distraction by video screen" and I'm guessing only a fraction of that is for porn. Normally, I'd think I was missing something, but this is California, after all. I'd rather see lawmakers concentrating on the out-of-control mini-van driving moms trying to re-load Disney's Aladdin while three kids are screaming in the back. Some of us are more offended by Disney videos than full-core Channel 85 doggie-style. From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"We've had a number of people complain that stopping at a light they've seen sexual acts of the kind we don't want to speak of displayed on the video screen in the car in front of them,'' said Assemblyman John Benoit, R-Palm Desert (Riverside County).

So Benoit, a former California Highway Patrol commander, introduced legislation that would have made it illegal for anyone to exhibit "sexually explicit material in a motor vehicle . . . knowing that the material is visible to the public."

The California Highway Patrol agrees that driving distractions are a concern, though it doesn't differentiate between porn videos and other entertainment offerings shown in the back seat and doesn't take positions on legislation. The CHP doesn't keep statistics that single out video-watching -- G- or X-rated -- as the cause of accidents.

Of course, family activists loved this bill (porn is bad! down with porn!) while civil rights activists hated (porn for everyone if they want it!) and even a contingent felt it was unfair for drivers to be responsible for the viewing habits of their passengers. (Are you kidding me? It's a mini-van for cryinoutloud.) And speaking as one who has watched porn in the low-rider Caddy ahead of me at a red-light on 38th street, I feel I can ring in on this issue. Either way, it's dead now. (I even feel a little oily that I spent so much time on this rant!) I'm going to go take a shower now. Hmmm. Naked. Mmmmm. Porn.

California -- Land of the Wacky

Over the years, California has become known as the land of wacky juries. It's a reputation well-earned where too many good cases ran off the rails when overly sympathetic liberals combined with the best defense attorneys money can buy can resulted in some pretty shocking verdicts. Don't get me wrong. I believe in great defense attorneys, and certainly, we've seen some prosecutions fail to make their cases, but between OJ and the Twinkie Defense, celebrity defense lawyers have been making Californians look bad for a long time.

But it looks like things may be turning around. Maybe prosecutors have gotten better at proving their cases, or maybe it's forensics, or maybe jury pools have gotten smarter, but high profile convictions like Scott Peterson's make you wonder if California juries aren't sending a message: You can't get off in California (at least, you know, where the law is concerned.)

Ironically, when I wrote this, the Blake verdict hadn't come in yet. So, I diligently waited until 2:30 PST knowing that my theory could be off. From the transcripts I saw of the Blake case, it wasn't exactly clear the prosecution had proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Their primary witness was a little shaky. I had a suspicion this one would go either way. And it did.

So, I want to amend my theory and say the legal system is only better in California for juries returning fair verdicts. If guilt isn't proven, or if the evidence of guilt of heavy, juries seem to be listening and playing fairly. I wonder if this signals a true shift in the tide of celebrity cases. Certainly on the East Coast in financial cases there seems to be no fear of sending the rich to jail. Let's hope we're seeing a change in the tide in California. Of course, Mesereau and Geragos could use a reason to raise their rates.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"The Simpsons" and New Words

Sunday night, Bravo re-aired one of my favorite episodes of Inside the Actors Studio -- the episode featuring the cast of The Simpsons. (Don't even start on what it means that I have a favorite episode of Inside the Actor's Studio. I'm an Elitist, remember? It's perfectly normal.) The episode featured James Lipton (who always reminds me of one of those heads in a jar from the late lamented Futurama) interviewing Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Hank Azaria, Nancy Cartwright, Harry Shearer, and Yeardly Smith. It was terrific fun with the actors doing various voices -- both with the characters on screen and in person. (Watching Nancy Cartwright do Bart is pretty wonderful.) Lipton called forth various characters from Homer and Marge to Ned Flanders and Apu. Watching Cartwright and Azaria ad lib several Bart-Mo prank phone calls was especially fun. Much was made at the time about the disappearance of Julie Kavner (who voices Marge) in the second half of the show. When the show originally aired, there was a lot of speculation about whether or not she'd left in a disgruntled huff. The reality, she had another commitment and taping had run on quite long. (She does refuse to be filmed voicing her characters, though, which was why characters were shown on screen through some of the episode.)

Aaaannnyway, I always laugh when Lipton prompts Castellaneta/Homer to demonstrate the full range of "D'oh!"'s based on level of severity, from the simple one hit "D'oh!" to the longer, much more harried "Dooo-ooohh!!" Funnily enough, when Lipton pointed out that several dictionaries had included "D'oh" as an official new word, he noted that in the script it always appears as "annoyed grunt". I find it weirdly funny that "D'oh" has been a much touted new word in dictionaries in the past few years when the writers of the show don't even consider it a real word.

Knowing just enough about how dictionaries are made to be very dangerous, I know that while we read the annual reports every year of what new words make it in, lexicographers do not take this new word business lightly. It takes years and hundreds of demonstrable usages in printed word, much discussion, and the actual writing of a definition before a word is considered accepted. And the actual process of defining the word is much more complex that one would imagine. Either way, here we are to the "annual list of new words". Hey, "wedgie" finally made it in. Maybe it was tough to define. From Monday's SF Chronicle.

Word joins Al Qaeda, blog, irritable bowel syndrome in Websters dictionary

Wedgie, a teenager's locker-room nightmare, has made it into the dictionary. Webster's New World College Dictionary based in Cleveland said wedgie was among its new additions to its latest edition. The new edition will carry this listing: wedgie: noun. a prank in which the victim's undershorts are jerked upward so as to become wedged between the buttocks. The dictionary also carries the tradition wedgie definition of a type of shoe.'Wedgie' was always a part of the high school terminology that you sort of never thought about later," said Editor in Chief Michael Agnes." It never really entered the mainstream until the '90s. It broke out of high school and, boy -- if you don't know what it is, you're absolutely at a loss." The new edition will reach bookstores by May and has 58 new entries, plus another 20 new senses of existing words (such as wedgie). The additions include Al Qaeda, blog, cargo pants, irritable bowel syndrome and partial-birth abortion.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

MJ Update -- Day 12

Michael Jackson's primary accuser finished testifying today. He's been on the stand since last Weds. After an hour of cross-examination, Sneddon spent three hours re-directing and clarifying testimony regarding the boy's family, his disciplinary issues in school, and his reasons for lying to his principal about Jackson. (He says he didn't want to be teased.)

It's hard to say how all this is playing with the jury. It's impossible to tell from transcripts how credible the boy is, but from the reports I've heard, he held up well as Mesereau tackled his testimony piece by piece. Ultimately, Jackson's odd behavior might contribute to the believability of boy's accounts more than anything. It's hard for someone like Jackson to roll into the court room with an expensive attorney and not look like he's paying his way to freedom. These are all perception issues. Of course, the jury will be instructed to consider only the facts of the case. The boy stepped down about 12:30 p.m.

Other prosecution witnesses called today (from Santa Maria Times): Santa Maria Police Officer Terry Flaa, a former Santa Barbara County sheriff's deputy who investigated the complaints made about Jackson's conduct toward children in 2003. Flaa testified that his investigation was closed April 16, 2003, after the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services interviewed the accuser and his family and found no evidence of abuse. That interview occurred in February, before prosecutors allege that Jackson molested the boy. At that time, the estranged father of the accuser also told authorities that he was not aware of any abuse.

Santa Barbara County sheriff's Lt. Jeff Klapakis testified that the Jackson investigation was reopened after the accuser and his siblings made allegations to Dr. Stanley Katz , a psychologist who worked for civil attorney Larry Feldman (the civil attorney who handled the 1993 settlement.)

Next on the stand was sheriff's Sgt. Steve Robel, who testified about a July7, 2003, interview he conducted with both the accuser and his brother. Robel said the boy told him that both molestations occurred near the end of his stay at Jackson's Neverland Valley Ranch near Los Olivos. On Monday, the defense introduced a separate interview between the boy and law enforcement in which he seemed to indicate that one of the molestations happened much earlier.

And last but not least: There have been lots of headlines today about psychologist Katz's comments saying Jackson is not a pedophile. His point, Jackson is not a pedophile, but a regressed 10-year-old. From that bastion of hard news, The Smoking Gun:

Katz told Det. Paul Zelis, "[Jackson] is a guy that's like a 10-year-old child. And, you know, he's doing what a 10-year-old would do with his little buddies. You know, they're gonna jack off, watch movies, drink wine, you know. And, you know, he doesn't even really qualify as a pedophile. He's really just this regressed 10-year-old."

What Kind of Elitist Am I?

Via the Erudite Redneck and only because, well, I'm an elitist. What kind of elitist am I? I am a Fine Art and Decor elitist, of course (only because I didn't choose"chef or sommelier" as my dream job, I'm sure.) What it says about me? What people love: You're the perfect person to shop with. What people hate: They have to clean their house whenever you come over. What Kind of Elitist Are You?

Copyright Office and Orphan Works

The US Copyright office is currently reviewing the laws as they apply to works unclaimed by their "owners" and what happens to them as they approach their deadlines for copyright extension, as well as what happens with derivative works. From Slashdot:

The question is how to treat works (books, films, software, etc.) for which the copyright owner cannot be found so that permission can be granted to republish or create derivative works. "The issue is whether orphan works are being needlessly removed from public access and their dissemination inhibited. If no one claims the copyright in a work," they write, "it appears likely that the public benefit of having access to the work would outweigh whatever copyright interest there might be."

Electronic Frontier Foundation and several other organizations are helping gather comments and input from writers, developers and other content creators to make sure these laws reflect realistic uses for information in the coming century. Check out Orphan Works for more information and to have your comments forwarded to by the March 25th deadline.

MJ Update Day 11

Mesereau continued his cross examination of the boy who accuses Michael Jackson of molestation. Mesereau did a good job of pulling as many loose threads as he can. While it's getting a lot of media play, it's hard to tell how much the jury will care that the kid didn't tell his school principal when called to the office. Other points:

The boy described gifts given by Jackson and taken away after the family "displeased" him. An SUV, television, etc.

More point of masturbation and alcohol consumption. The defense may have witnesses to show the boy was witnessed engaging in these activities without MJ present. The defense also focused on inconsistencies in the timeline. It's clear the Mesereau is doing a painstaking job of finding every hole he can in the story.

The jury viewed the Feb 20 "rebuttal video" made after the Feb 6 Bashir video but never aired. It's looking more and more like this is going to be "he said/he said" on the molestation charges.

Jackson showed up for court on time and dressed in a flashy red jacket with black trousers and military medals. (A UK military veterans group is protesting his use of several of them.)

I'll take complete mental breakdown for $300, Alex... : Also in UK news, a behavioral psychologist has been publishing quite a bit about the state of MJ's mental health. He predicts a complete nervous breakdown.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

And in other celebrity trial news...

The Michael Jackson trial antics have completely overshadowed the other big celebrity trial right now -- the Robert Blake murder trial. The jury has had the case for a week now and still has made no decision. As of Friday, they had asked for trial transcripts before adjourning for the weekend. This jury may be at an impasse. No word on how long the judge will let them deliberate with no decision before calling the case a mis-trial.

Much of the case has hinged on gunshot residue evidence. Blake was found with almost none on his hands -- inconsistent with the allegation that he fired two shots in rapid succession killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakely in her car outside a restaurant. The state's star witness was a former stunt man named Ronald "Duffy" Hambleton who testified that Blake hired him to kill his wife. The defense discredited Hambleton as a hallucinatory methamphetamine abuser who has had several brushes with the law.

Kasparov Retires

Russian chess champion Gary Kasparov has announced that he is retiring to go into Russian politics. Ranked number one in the world since 1984 (and known for his high profile loss against IBM's Big Blue), Kasparov is a vocal Putin opponent and leader of a liberal opposition group.

Even the Children Are Talking...

Awwww. Apparently, I'm not the only one gossiping about the cuteness of America's favorite couple. Last night, at the DC Gridiron Club's annual dinner, a night filled with political skits, songs and jokes, even President Bush joked about it:

The president noted that former President Clinton was recovering from surgery and said that "when he woke up he was surrounded by his loved ones" - his wife, daughter and "my dad."

GHW Bush followed in Presidential tradition by attending. Since 1885, only Grover Cleveland has refused to attended the yearly political roast.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Apple Case Updates

AP is reporting that the three bloggers sued by Apple Computer for revealing trade secrets on their blogs will be compelled to reveal their sources. The ruling from a California judge on Friday said the three were not entitled to protection for publishing "stolen property". More details on the case, the facts found and the rulings.

MJ Update -- Day 10

Friday -- Melville heard ruled on a couple of motions today and heard arguments on several others.

* Melville issued his clarification on the gag order requested by attorneys for Jay Leno. Leno is on the defense witness list and his attorneys had asked if that made him a "party to the case" required to observed the gag order. Melville says the gag order does not prevent the late night host from making jokes about the trial. (Last night, Leno showed up "late" for his own show in pajamas sheltered by a large black umbrella.) Leno's attorneys argued the gag order was a restriction on his first amendment rights. Melville agreed and only restricted Leno to not discussing particular parts of the case with which he might be involved.

* Melville listened to arguments from the prosecution seeking to examine Jackson's finances. The prosecution believes financial problems may have motivated Jackson to hold the family captive. The prosecution wants to review records from Jackson's accountants. The defense does not believe Jackson's finances are relevant. (It's unclear if Melville ruled on this although it does appear he will allow this line of questioning in a limited way.)

* The defense asked that Jackson be allowed to a make "an extensive rebuttal" to the Bashir documentary that aired on ABC last month. The judge said that MJ is free to submit anything he likes, but that he'll consider it, conferring with both sides before any rebuttal is allowed to be viewed by the jury.

For the Best in Media Gossip...OK Just Gossip

Can I say how much I love Gawker? Yes, I can. I love Gawker.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

MJ Update -- Day 9

I'll be honest, even I was getting a bit bored with this trial. But I should have just had a little in Michael that is! Once again, the King of Pop has shown himself to be the King of Grandstanding. Even his attorney is becoming annoyed with his antics. Imagine what the jury must think. Just when the trial was getting so slow that I was behind in updates, MJ tops himself. Now to the recap!

Yesterday, Jackson sat through a long day of testimony from his accuser. Photos showed he was actually starting to look more normal, no make-up, slightly less flamboyant clothes. His parents are in court along with much of his family.

Today, from various reports, here's what seems to have happened. Jackson was up most of the night calling people, frantic, one report stated. He called his lead defense attorney Thomas Mesereau at 5:30 a.m. PST and said he had major back pain. (People close to him report that he has created a stress so great that he is in physical pain but that he's not sick.) Jackson, apparently, traveled to the hospital in Santa Ynez, the next town over from Santa Maria. He did not show up for court in Santa Maria at 8:30 a.m. and Judge Melville was visibly angry (reports said). Melville told Mesereau that if Jackson did not show up in 1 hour, he would issue a warrant for his client's arrest and Jackson would forfeit the $3 million in bail. Mesereau was viewed on his phone outside the courtroom. Jackson's attorney's stated that Jackson tripped and fell while getting dressed at Neverland and was in horrible pain during the proceedings.

Jackson showed up 20 minutes past Melville's deadline wearing a jacket over pajamas along with slippers and dark glasses, accompanied by his family. Jackson then sat through the day's testimony facing his accuser. Testimony resumed by the boy at 10:00 a.m. The boy testified that Jackson molested him twice in his bedroom at Neverland. The accounts seemed to be two different accounts than those described by the alleged victim's younger brother.

Cross examination began this afternoon and Mesereau clarified that the boy had met with two civil attorneys prior coming forward. (This isn't new information, as I recall. The prosecutor's office made the boys testify and, I believe, this situation falls under the specific law Sneddon's office pushed in Santa Barbara county compelling molestation victims to testify in criminal matters before civil trials. The law was passed after Jackson settled out of court with a boy in 1992.) Mesereau came out in full force and Judge Melville admonished both Mesereau and the boy for arguing with each other in an intense cross examination at the end of the day.

Friday will be a day for routine trial motions and Jackson will not attend. He'll be back on Monday when Mesereau picks up the cross-examination.

Most interesting is the gossip that seems to be swirling regarding Jackson's financial trouble. It has long been reported that Jackson is in serious financial trouble living largely off royalties and the mortgage from Sony for the Beatles library. Fox News is reporting that Jackson's situation is so dire that employees haven't been paid at Neverland for two weeks, Jackson can't meet basic expenses, and Sony will be tendering a last minute offer to buy out Jackson's half of the music library. Look for some interesting news on this front. (Jackson has long denied that he is in any financial trouble.) They also report that Mesereau hasn't been paid any money for the past three months.

At least one outlet is reporting that Jackson is on suicide watch.

Most interesting is the media tide turning against Jackson. When we've all just watched Martha Stewart show up on time, respect the court, and serve her time, Jackson just looks like more of the child he is. And it can't look good to the jury. As Jon Bonne from MSNBC notes:
Melville has an unenviable task. He has to keep this trial from becoming an uncontrollable three-ring act. He has a defendant who's made his livelihood by being a spectacle -- on and off stage.

Additionally, more interesting is that defense attorney Mesereau seems to become less patient with his star client's stunts. Also from Bonne:
You had to feel a bit sorry for Mesereau as he stood in the glare of TV lenses Thursday morning, chatting nervously into his cell phone. He's done an exceptional job this week of poking holes in district attorney Tom Sneddon's case -- only to have all that progress unraveled by a defendant whose antics are, frankly, a nose-thumbing to his legal team, the court and the jury. Not exactly how I'd act toward the people who'll determine whether I go to jail or not. ... it would have been easy enough for Jackson's camp to make a single phone call. But the look of surprise (and maybe a bit of disgust) on Mesereau's face is a good sign the veteran lawyer can't control his client.

What will be Jackson's next step? Take the quiz:
a) suicide attempt
b) an OJ style flight from justice
c) he skips the country
d) Mesereau drops the case

MJ Update Days 7-8

Yesterday, Day 7, slow day.

The accuser's brother finished testimony for the prosecution in the morning and was cross examined by the defense for most of the day. Most newsworthy seems to be that the boy, tired after 2 days on the stand, stumbled over descriptions when pressed and misidentified a magazine that he was supposed to have viewed with Jackson. Mesereau also spent quite a bit of time on previous cases brought by the boy's parents and whether or not the boy had lied for his parents on previous occasions. The boy admitted he had.

Today, day 8, defense attorney's finished with the younger brother and the prosecution called it's primary witness, the accuser, to the stand. The prosecution presented the bulk of its evidence with the boy facing MJ directly. Boy testified MJ molested him, paraded naked and served the children wine.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Outwitting ... or Outlasting the IRS

Last year if you recall, Richard Hatch, naked winner of the first Survivor in 2000 was caught by the IRS for failing to declare the $1,000,000 he won on the show. He also failed to declare $320,000 he received working for a radio station in 2001.

He apparently cut a deal and agreed to plead guilty. And he has reneged on the deal. IRS plans to present its case to a grand jury. From TaxProfBlog via Gawker.

Legislative Update

House speaker Brian Bosma released his Top 40 list today of bills Republicans hope to revive in this legislative session, bills killed by house Democrats in a walkout last week. On the list were bills for the statewide observance of daylight-saving time and Gov. Mitch Daniels' inspector general and various economic initiatives including Colts funding. Senate rules are going to make it very difficult to get most of these proposals attached or amended to something but I have to appreciate them for trying. Is some of this an election ploy to make House Republicans look good and House Dems look bad? Of course it is. And House Dems are looking pretty bad as Republicans make popular legislation visible again -- along with the reasons it won't be passed. Of course, if they ever get enough of a majority to make it stick, House Republicans could always try the Texas way legally forcing legislators to show up for quorum calls. (And forcing legislators to flee the state if they want to make their point.)

In a related note -- or maybe related to House Dems looking bad -- the Decatur Daily Democrat has a take on the situation comparing the Indiana House to the infamous Delta House of Animal House fame. Funny as it might be, columnist Howey makes a good point. Public servants can't be irresponsible and blow off their jobs. If House Dems were upset and if Bauer was on a "retribution binge", then they needed to show up and vote, but pettiness -- whether Republican or Democrat -- doesn't get anything done. Doug Masson takes it one step further and compares to House Minority Leader Bauer to, who else, Bluto. I'd pay money to watch Bauer stand and the floor with his hands to his facing saying "What am I?"

Hearts and Hospitals

Hearts and hospitals. I don't trust either of them. It's a distrust born from experience. They're not reliable, not deserving. As children, we take both for granted. Your heart works. It keeps beating automatically. It keeps you alive every day, up and running, and like the sun coming up as sure as morning, your heart will keep working. It stays whole, unbroken -- metaphorically and physically. When we're young, we see hospitals as a place where sick people go to get well. Doctors work miracles. You truly believe they have a secret knowledge when they give you stitches or set a broken leg.

As we get older, we find that there are no absolutes. We find we can't trust anything wholly. Hearts fail. They stop beating. They become unreliable. They break (both metaphorically and physically). And we learn that hospitals are not where people go to get well. They're where people go to get sicker, where they age, and where sometimes they die. As adults, we leave the comfort of childhood, the comfort of thinking someone else holds the answers for us. As adults, we learn the hardest truths, that we sometimes have no idea what we're doing -- in our jobs, in our relationships, as parents. We feel at sea not knowing the right answer, but taking what we know and making an educated guess. And with age comes the knowledge that for doctors it's sometimes no easier. I imagine they must enjoy it when a diagnosis is an easy answer, a simple win.

So, tonight, I put my faith in an inexact science -- the science of the heart. I have to push my fears aside and release the cynical notions that I've accumulated over the years so I can trust that hearts work and doctors have all the answers (physically, at least), and that hospitals are places where people go to get well. When a heart becomes unreliable, how can we trust anything else around us? How can we believe it will keep beating day after day automatically without fail? While we know the sun will come up tomorrow, hearts stop every day whether doctors can fix them or not. My father and I share a joke that hospitals are where people go to get sick. Every time someone in our family goes in for a routine procedure, they seem to come out in worse shape than they entered. It's become something of a phobia for me -- I dread hospitals specifically and medical procedures in general. Things break in there. And my father continues to prove us right as he spends the night in intensive care due to unexpected complications in a routine stent procedure. I have to believe in his heart and the hospital on this one ...with a good measure of childlike trust.

Bobby Fischer...Found

I didn't know that the world was aware of Bobby Fischer's whereabouts these days. He's spent much of his life in seclusion -- so much so that for many years, his whereabouts where completely unknown. However, these days, he is in a Japanese detention center where he's been since last July. Detained for traveling on an expired passport, the Japanese are holding him for possible extradition to the US. (He was in a scuffle with guards, supposedly over an egg and is in solitary confinement, now.) His fiancee, a four-time Japanese women's chess champion, has seen him and says he's in a fragile mental state.

The US wants Fischer for violating sanctions against the former Yugoslavia related to his 1992 match. Iceland has offered Fischer a home and a special passport for travel including clearance through countries he'd need to enter to get there. The passport awaits Fischer at the Icelandic embassy in Japan as soon as he can claim it. The question lies with Japan -- will they allow the US to extradite him or allow him to leave the country on his own. More on his plight.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Publishing It at Home

I'm blown away every day by the terrific blogging work I see out there. It's hard to separate it from the sheer amount of really awful stuff. But, really, it's all relative. It sorts itself out when you read what you like, just like regular publishing. With all the talk about media reform and what the Democratic party needs to do to come together and elect someone, DailyKos has a great piece asking why more progressive authors don't choose independent publishers over the corporate behemoth media giants. It's an interesting dilemma. It would be much harder for small publishers to get books into the places where they sell, but if the bookselling channel became more driven by what booksellers wanted instead of what major publishers were pushing them, it might work. It's too bad that small independent booksellers make up such a small percentage of most publishers' business. And also too bad that national buyers for chains, the gatekeepers who decide what you read, don't make nearly the educated decisions that anyone gives them credit for. Great article on Independent Publishers.

Bloggers ... Protected or Not?

Apple is suing several bloggers for releasing product information on sites that are pretty much know for fostering Apple rumors and secrets. Apple isn't suing them for publishing trade secrets but for refusing to reveal their sources -- the sources of a couple of rumors that ended up accurate and damaging. Those who run the sites,,, and, say that as bloggers, they are journalists, and shouldn't have to disclose their sources. The case which seems simple at first begins to drill into the very nature of journalistic reporting, the first being: Are bloggers protected as journalists? If they report what they know, should they be afforded the same rights as journalists? Can they be made to reveal their sources? Are they protected under the First Amendment?

What do you attribute? How do you handle anonymous sources? How do you disclose sources while protecting them and your credibility at the same time? To many trained journalists, these questions are second nature. For many bloggers they are not. But where and how do you draw the line between "legitimate" bloggers and those who follow no rules? How do you draw a distinction between someone who blogs and someone who writes for the New York Times. Or more specifically, is a blogger who runs a legitimate news site with 100,000 hits a day and reports from direct sources less legitimate than a small town editor who cobbles together stories from the wire and has a circulation of 10,000?

Legal experts in states with privilege statutes are watching this case closely. Some believe that the California judge may try to keep the decision as narrow as possible. Others believe it will result in a series of tests for bloggers with the court deciding if what they write and how they write it makes them protected. But many legal experts feel there's a problem if the courts create this distinction. Bloggers have begun to fulfill a role in questioning the mainstream press and some advocates don't want this squashed.

The lines between news and commentary don't apply in many cases. The lines between direct and secondary reporting are blurred. Print versus online makes no difference. With each question there are more questions. There could be a decision as early as the end of this week.

MJ Day 6

Most of Monday was taken up with testimony from the alleged victim's younger brother, now 14. The boy is one of the star witnesses for the prosecution on the molestation charges. Nothing really new from what we expected. The boy testified:

-that he witnessed two separate incidents of molestations of the older boy by the defendant
-that Jackson paraded naked in front of the boys
-that he showed them adult internet sites
-that he showed them adult magazines
-that Jackson discussed masturbation with them citing "it's OK, everyone does it."
-that Jackson warned them not to tell
-that Jackson served wine to the boys several times
-Jury also viewed a photo of a mannequin from Jackson's room which he simulated sex with

This morning, Sneddon is expected to finish questioning the boy and defense attorney Thomas Mesereau will cross examine. Mesereau finished with the sister first thing in the morning and also showed the jury a tape made by a private investigator (working for MJ) in which the family praises Jackson and the boy admits to sleeping in the same bed with MJ, but emphasizes that nothing sexual had ever happened.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Overheard in New York

Possibly one of the best uses for a blog I've seen yet. Possibly my new favorite site:

E-I-C Outs Self -- as G-O-P.

I love this! This could be me! Except for, well, the Editor in Chief part. And, well, the Playgirl part. But not the Republican part! I recently outed myself on the WeLL as a Republican and I can relate. It is easier to let people assume. The reaction was interesting, OK, hostile, but, as a pal said, it would have been the same if most of them had come out as liberal over at What bothers me is that people stop listening to you for your ideas and only start hearing what their assumptions tell them. Either way, I'm glad I'm not the only one. And that whole power in the bedroom thing? Very hot. Much hotter than your average Sensitive New Age Guy. From Drudgereport (Yes, I read Drudge, like everyone else, I can admit it.)


Mon Mar 07 2005 19:42:14 ET When it comes to sex and politics, Democrats are the more liberal, right? Not so fast. Playgirl editor-in-chief Michele Zipp explores “down and dirty” politics and examines sexuality on both sides of the aisle. In the process she comes to a realization about herself and reveals for the first time she’s now a Republican.“Siding with the GOP when you live in the bluest state around is almost like wearing a Boston Red Sox jersey at a New York Yankees’ home game,” says Zipp in the April issue of PLAYGIRL.

"I cannot tell you how many times a person assumed I voted for John Kerry in 2004. Most of the time, I don’t have the heart to tell them, or the energy to discuss my reasons for going red this election year. But this is Playgirl magazine so it’s about time I was the one who bared what’s underneath.”

How could a member of the media who produces adult entertainment for women possibly side with conservatives from the red states? Zipp spells it out. “Those on the right are presumed to be all about power and greed – two really sexy traits in the bedroom. They want it, they want it now, and they’ll do anything to get it. And I’m not talking about some pansy-assed victory, I’m talking about full on jackpot, satisfaction for all.” “The Democrats of the Sixties were all about making love and not war while a war-loving Republican is a man who would fight, bleed, sacrifice, and die for his country. Could you imagine what that very same man would do for his wife in the bedroom?” asks Zipp.

Turning War into Art

I woke up this morning to NPR's review of Gunner Palace, a new documentary following the day-to-day lives of 2nd battalion 3rd field artillery regiment who's base is the once oppulent palace of Uday Hussein. In what's become the new NPR where they create fresh stories from a piece that ran last week, they focused on the music and poetry these troops create and how they use them to cope. One soldier plays his guitar every day while another writes free form poetry. Others rap creating beats on the hoods of humvees to pass time. There will be no soundtrack for this documentary but the music, spoken words, and sound bites will be released on the web. Filmmakers hope that musicians, DJs, poets, producers, and others will use these samples to create new art. (Last year, while promoting his book on Fresh Air, Joe Trippi shared music remixes using one of the most popular sounds bites at the time, the Howard Dean scream.)

The Story I'm Waiting For

AP has a small blurb answering at least one question about our favorite, sweet elderly couple. (See Feb archives "American's Favorite New Couple") On their recent tsunami trip, Clinton deferred to the elder Bush and slept on the floor. (I cannot resist asking if this sounds familiar.) Very sweet, but what I really want to know is if these two political adversaries are forming a new found friendship personally, not professionally or politically. I think there's a beautiful story here (Sarc 1 for those of us reading Tom Wolfe). Seriously, I'd love to hear the real story if there is one. I'm going to be terribly disappointed if we find that all this traveling and pitching has just been them together in a plane. (Please let there be no alcohol in a Coke can.)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

More on the Dem Walkout

Those of you I've seen in person know that I'm still so irrationally angry about the Democratic walkout last week I can't even discuss it. As I formulate a more productive way to channel my anger (I know I wear "crazy woman who rants like a loon" so well), I want to point readers to a terrific piece of blogging work, Masson's round up of regional editorials on the walkout. And a general pointer, too, to one of my favorite blogs, the Indiana Law Blog.

MJ Day 5

First full week of the MJ trial is complete. Friday was dominated by the testimony of the alledged vicitm's sister. She was on the stand for four hours on Thursday as well.

The bulk of her testimony focused on the details surrounding the two week period between the airing of the Martin Bashir documentary and the making of the "rebuttal tape", the video-taped response MJ had filmed with the family. The sister says their comments were scripted and that she (and others) lied on the video tape. (The family eventually refused to participate and the tape was never aired.) Other points of interest:
  • The jury viewed the 80-minute tape.
  • The sister also says that it is not her mother who goes after celebrities for money but the children's estranged father. (If this sticks, it's a problem for the defense who as set the family up as disreputable celebrity money chasers.)
  • Under cross examination the sister said that she had not discussed the case with anyone in her family. (Surprising to Mesereau, apparently)
  • Family members of the victims are being named in court but names are not being released publicly.
  • The sister will continue on the stand on Monday for more cross-ex.

Friday, March 04, 2005

The Crucible

Film and lecture activities surrounding the upcoming performance of Indianapolis Opera's The Crucible have had me thinking lately about fascism. Not so much fascism itself, but more the mass hysteria that can infect a society and carry it in a wave of righteousness. A week or two ago, I finished Philip Roth's The Plot Against America, and I can't stop coming back to an overwhelming image from the book – not of a Lindberg presidency or an isolationist America, but of the hysteria that swept up whole families in its power and carried them along, powerless.

I don't have anything terribly profound to say, except that whether you look at the Salem witch trials, McCarthyism (on which Miller based the play), or WWII, there's a lesson for us in today's world. There are multiple lessons, in fact. We hear so many opinions, see so many divisions, but don't recognize the right or wrong path. Certainly people in Roth's world thought staying out of WWII was the right answer – no matter the cost. And certainly many in Salem thought they were doing the right thing – listening to a group of teenagers instead of making their own choices. And in either scenario, the belief of the people, upon which everything turned, was guided by leaders who may or may not have had questionable motives. (Roth's Lindberg certainly thought he was doing the right thing by keeping the US out of the war. Reports and speculation about Salem show that some church leaders and judicial officials may or may not have had the purist motives.)

I hesitate to draw the obvious parallels to today's world – yet. Perhaps I'm blinded by looking forward. Maybe I haven't convinced myself completely of the questionable motives by leadership. Or I could just think it's somewhat of a different situation. But I'm thinking about it, which is what I'd hope anyone would do who sees the upcoming performances. I'm a big believer that art should provoke thought. And so I go to tonight's performance with my mind ready to add a new layer to a foundation of understanding. Ready to open my mind and see something new, something I didn't see before. It's the least we could ask of anyone. In Roth's world, in Salem, and even in the 1950s, those who stopped thinking for themselves -- and who stopped looking for new perspectives -- became the power behind the hysteria. Regardless of how we feel about politics, religion, or any number of divisive ideals, we all have to keep opening ourselves to new ideas -- not just confirmations of what we already believe.

Poet Noir-iate

If you follow unique literature at all, you'll appreciate poet Kevin Young's latest, Black Maria (pronounced "Mariah")(2005 Knopf). Young captures the essence of noir, the dark crime genre featuring seedy private detectives, disreputable damsels, and rainy city streets. Following the path of writers like Dashielle Hammet, Young reimagines both the crime drama and poetry with gritty dramas set in verse. The lyric rhythm of his poetry lends itself nicely to the visual aspects of dark roads, fast women, footchases, guns, and gangsters, creating both the visual story and sound effects.

From Publisher's Weekly:
Tough and unlucky in a rainy city or on a Hollywood back lot, poetic detective A.K.A. Jones seeks answers, dodges bullets, and drowns his sorrows as he pursues the alluring and mysterious Delilah Redbones in Young's fourth volume, a book-length sequence of linked short poems grounded in film noir scenarios and in the short, bluesy lines Young has made his signature. ... The saga of Jones, Redbones and their quirky, mostly anonymous supporting cast ("The Gunsel," "The Boss," "The Snitch") confirms Young's mastery of his syncopated verse line, his way with witty rhyme, and his facility with his chosen genre. Yet the many lyrical asides and point-of-view changes make any plot hard to grasp, a problem alleviated, but not quite solved, by prose summaries which introduce each of Young's five sections (called "reels"). And Young's devotion to film noir atmosphere here makes it hard for the tone to vary from poem to poem: in visits to Las Vegas, the sagebrush West, even the set of a science-fiction film, their beat-up, hard-done-by gumshoe sounds more or less the same.

NPR story with Young reading selections from the book.

MJ Day 4

Update from Thursday:

  • More testimony from Ann Kite, the publicist. Her biggest point revelation for the prosecution was that Jackson's attorney told her he'd make the mother (of the child MJ is accused of molesting) look like a "crack whore." In the cross-ex, she said that she felt MJ was a victim of people close to him who didn't always have his best interests at heart. (The defense is smart to paint MJ as a possible victim in a plot to ruin him by close associates.)
  • She also testified that she felt that Ronald Knitzer (one of the five un-indicted co-conspirators) may have been trying to wrestle control of the Beatles catalog from Jackson. (Never mind that the catalog is mortgaged to the hilt and currently being held by Sony as loan collateral.)
  • Jurors viewed a videotape from the Nov 18, 2003 search of Neverland showing his bedroom and two additional rooms filled with toys -- the "toy room" and the "doll room".
  • The victim's sister was called to testify. She is now 18 years old. She confirmed the prosecution timeline testifying about the Miami trip, the soda cans, and Jackson's control of the family during and after the Miami trip. She also testified that MJ served the children alcohol in his home on several occasions. She spent four hours on the stand Thursday and will cross-examined today. There is a lot of testimony here on MJ's alleged co-conspirators. The whole imprisonment charge is looking more and more solid.

Related note: A request for clarification regarding the gag order has been filed by attorneys for Jay Leno, listed on the defense witness list. The gag order currently says that no party to the case can discuss it outside of court. Obviously, this could be a problem for Leno.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

You've Gotta Give Her Credit

Hey, I read the Christopher Byron book Martha Inc (2002 Wiley) just like everyone else. I get what a mess she is -- control freak, perfectionist, unable to delegate or let go, unable to maintain personal relationships, ambitious, grasping. Byron wasn't very flattering in his description of Stewart and how she got where she is today, figuratively. Which made all kinds of sense when she ended up where she really is today, literally, in her last days at Camp Cupcake serving a prison sentence for lying to federal investigators in a very questionable stock deal.

But if you learned anything from the Byron book it's that Martha Stewart is very good at one thing in particular -- reinventing Martha Stewart. She's done it before and in a strange way, I'm happy to see her doing it again. She's taken what could have been a career ending disaster and turned it into a prime business move with a sympathetic press, a stock price on the rise, and a strong financial base. Sure, there are still a lot of questions about her company, her true rehabilitation, and whether or not her new career will work, but if I learned anything from Martha Inc it's that she'll figure out a way to claw her way back to the top -- and I mean that in the nicest of ways. Great article in Newsweek on Martha and her new life. Love her or hate her, you've got to give her a lot of credit. She gets out of jail at the end of this week.

Even the Post Can Be Funny

From some daily list or another:

The Washington Post story on the winning entry in the Center for American Progress's "Name Ann Coulter's Next Book" contest: ROOSEVELT: Wheelchair-Riding, America-Hating Terrorist, selected over such runners-up as PANDER: How Character Assassination and Name-Calling Will Make You Popular and Rich.

Coulter tells the paper, "Well, at least now they're trying to be funny, a welcome change from all the vomiting and fainting after the election season." And she offers some even better suggestions of her own:

"The Five People You Meet in Line at the Welfare Office"
"It Takes a Village to Raise a Kid With A.D.H.D., Rage Issues, and an Eating Disorder"
"Their Eyes Were Watching God and Banning Him From Public Schools"
"The Dan Rather Code"
"He's Just Not That Into Jews: The George Soros Story"

MJ Day 3

Updates from Weds:

  • Judge Melville clarified testimony by prosecution witness Ann Kite that she worked for Jackson's attorney (not for Jackson) and that doing damage control for Jackson was her interpretation of what she was hired to do. (But based on the job, it's pretty clear what she was hired to do.)
  • Kite of her own accord brought up the 1993 child molestation allegations in her testimony. Melville has not yet ruled on whether prosecutors can present evidence from the 1993.
  • Will Jackson testify? He's not currently on the defense witness list but could be added. Concern would be that it would open him up to cross examination (It would be worth it just to see him lose it with Sneddon.)
  • Melville has yet to rule on whether or not journalist Martin Bashir will be held in contempt of court. Mesereau says he will call Bashir as a defense witness. Melville said he would decide after Mesereau shows why he should testify.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Bashir Faces Contempt

At question is what leeway Martin Bashir has under California's "shield law" which is designed to protect journalists from being forced in court to reveal sources. Under cover of this protection, Bashir refused to answer four questions from Jackson attorney Mesereau on Tuesday. From This Is London:

Throughout the cross-examination, Bashir's lawyers raised objections to the questioning. But four times the objections were overruled and Judge Melville asked Bashir if he wished to answer. Looking straight ahead into the courtroom he solemnly replied: "No, your honor, I do not."

When Mr Mesereau asked for Bashir to be held in contempt, Judge Melville said: "I will review all of the questions asked to the witness and the objections raised to see if the witness is in contempt of court. It is a really ticklish area."

Mr Mesereau asked the judge to strike Bashir's testimony from the case, which he refused to do.

Bashir, who now works for America's ABC News, refused to answer the following questions:
• "Did you get Michael Jackson to sign two documents without a lawyer present?"
• "How many hours of footage did you omit from the documentary?"
• "Are you covering this case as a correspondent who is paid?"
• "Before this film was shown, and I am talking about the actual film shown by the prosecution today, did you watch the trial reel?"

Melville is expected to rule today on whether Bashir will go to jail or whether he will pay a fine. I had heard this news before I read this and honestly, I'm questioning whether or not Bashir is truly covered by the intent of the shield law. None of these questions would force Bashir to reveal sources and almost all deal with journalistic issues and editorial decisions made by Bashir or his producers. California's shield law says journalists do not have to testify about unpublished material. Certainly the answers to all of them could be spun by the defense and provide potentially misleading information to a jury who doesn't understand how editorial decisions are made, but I'm going to be curious about the ruling if the judge finds that Bashir is protected. More likely, he'll find Bashir in contempt and fine him. Unfortunately, that may open up the video and Bashir's testimony to a motion to strike, gutting the prosecutions case for the molestation charges.