Opposition rally in the streets of Kiyev, Ukraine

Blogosphere rattled by Sony Cease & Desist Order: Blogger Jason Kottke has been served with cease & desist orders for putting online the same information about the end of a Jeopardy game show candidate’s successful run that all the major media had posted. Since Jason is not at liberty to talk about the status of the case, and says he doesn’t need a legal defence fund yet, there’s clearly more at stake here than just a request to remove a couple of posts from a website. Three lessons here:

  • Bloggers still don’t get the same respect, and are not perceived to have the same rights, as other news reporters.
  • As I’ve noted before, big media corporations care more about entertainment than news. There’s more money in it.
  • Bloggers need to know their legal rights. Bookmark the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse to know yours.

Thanks to the Investigative Blogging newsgroup for this link.

This is What Democracy Looks Like: Salon’s founder David Talbot interviews Ukrainian journalist Olena Prytula who has been bravely opposing the ruthless dictatorship of Kuchma, and his attempt to fraudulently subvert the recent election there. The amazing photo above is from David’s interview. Fellow Salon blogger Allen Roland compares the response of Ukrainians and Americans to election theft, and supplies the perfect 6-word caption for the photo: “This is what democracy looks like.”

Scientists Claim Breakthrough in Hydrogen Production Efficiency: Matthew Wald of the NYT reports that scientists have now developed a mechanism to manufacture hydrogen cleanly and at low cost. Two major challenges remain before a true hydrogen-based economy is possible: An economical way to transport and store it, and an economical way to manufacture fuel cells. Wald is missing a third challenge: The will to abandon the entire infrastructure of the carbon-based economy and invest the trillions needed to create a new hydrogen-based production, storage and delivery infrastructure. And there are still compelling arguments that even that won’t be enough.

The Rise of Bottomless Hot Water Heaters: Kate Murphy of the NYT reports on a more prosaic energy breakthrough: ‘Instant’ hot water heaters, which use cylindrical chambers with long lengths of pipe to heat up water as it flows through, eliminating the need for a hot water tank and the need to ‘run’ the hot water until it heats up, are becoming more efficient, powerful and economical. Long popular in Europe and Japan, this technology could save billions in wasted heat energy. And it’s getting powerful enough that it can now deliver the ‘full blast’ of hot water we wasteful North Americans are accustomed to.

Departing Health Minister Issues Dire Warnings: Tommy Thompson, who resigned yesterday as Bush’s health minister, warns that the huge risk of loss of American life if terrorists were to poison the food supply has been completely ignored by the Bush administration and health officials. He also said that mutating viruses such as those associated with the Asian avian outbreaks are a “really huge bomb” threatening the world with pandemic. Thompson was one of the few courageous and intelligent members of the Bush regime, and his statements indicate just how much more dangerous the world has become since Bush seized power. We ignore his warnings at our peril.

Chief Economist Predicts US Economic “Armageddon”: Brett Arends of the Boston Herald covers the prediction by Stephen Roach, chief economist at Morgan Stanley, that the US economy has only a 1-in-10 chance to avoid meltdown and another great depression. I’ve been saying this for over a year. “In a nutshell, Roach’s argument is that America’s record trade deficit means the dollar will keep falling. To keep foreigners buying T-bills and prevent a resulting rise in inflation, Greenspan will be forced to raise interest rates further and faster than he wants. The result: U.S. consumers, who are in debt up to their eyeballs, will get pounded. Consumer debt is equal to 85% of the entire US economy and half of new mortgage borrowings are variable-rate, leaving borrowers, already paying a record share of disposable income on interest, much more vulnerable to rate hikes”. Arends says it appears the only way to avoid collapse would be allowing the US dollar to crash and allowing inflation to soar to, say, 7% (meaning prime interest rates would hit double digits). Once again folks: Pay off your debts, get out of US dollar denominated investments, and keep spending modest.

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10 Responses to NEWS OF THE WEEK

  1. says:

    Re the Ukraine story. There’s MUCH more to it than a heart-beating victory for democracy. It’s easy to be manipulated by photographs of crowds and flags; we need to look behind the headlines in the Western media.”Ukraine

  2. Eric says:

    I have a really different take on Tommy Thompson and “food terror”. Basically I think he was untroubled by carrying out orders to make sure programs concerning lead poisoning, pesticides & health, etc. were dominated by industry advocates. Conflict of interest was of no concern to Thompson.

  3. says:

    Re: Eric’s comment about Tommy Thompson. No question that TT was favorable to industry (he’s no Ralph Nader!). But he seems to have an independent streak. The fact that he made these pregnant remarks about food security indicates that he may have disagreed with the Bush/Rove party line, and took this opportunity to speak out. I don’t know what to make of all the resignations from Bush’s cabinet. Some people contend that he’s getting rid of anybody with a hint of independence (e.g. the recent Doonesbury cartoons). If even conservative Republicans are being purged

  4. Dave Pollard says:

    Bart/Eric: Goes to show things are not always as simple as they appear, doesn’t it. I’d read about the suggestions the CIA was behind the Kuchma opposition. What surprises me is that the CIA, with a lot of other countries to worry about, would care very much about a bankrupt nation ruled by a despot. The only thing everyone seems to agree upon is that (a) almost anything would be an improvement on Kuchma, and (b) no matter who bankrolled them, the opposition demonstrations were, for the most part, a spontaneous outpouring of support for change. As for anything else, I guess we’ll see. What’s interesting to me is that, consistent with my post from yesterday, the balkanization of Ukraine (a very large country by European standards) into separate Western and Eastern republics now looks to be a decided possibility. As for Thompson, I agree, in a way, with both of you: You need to be suspicious of anyone who could survive a whole term under the Bush regime, notorious for its support of polluted corporatist food, but at the same time his recent statements suggest he wasn’t happy, not even happy enough to shut up after he pocketed the spoils of his position. These remarks are a definitive example of a ‘career limiting move’. He’s either courageous, politically inept or really pissed.

  5. says:

    The reasons behind US interest in the Ukraine are (no surprise) oil and gas.“If Ukraine falls into the Nato orbit, Russia will lose her access to Black Sea naval bases and Russian oil and gas export routes will have to pass an American stranglehold.Yet Russia is a bit player in this new global competition. The Pentagon is really aiming at Beijing in its grab for the old Soviet strategic space around Russia. China is booming, but energy is her Achilles heel. Economically and technologically, China’s 1.3 billion people seem poised to assume superpower status, but China cannot risk falling out with America. Only access to Russian and central Asian oil can liberate China from dependence on vulnerable sea-borne oil supplies, so the real “Great Game” is between Beijing and Washington. America’s real strategic fear is the rise of China and India.”Like you, I wish that this were a symbol of people power overcoming authoritarianism… and no doubt some of the Chestnut Revolution is that. I don’t know much about the Ukraine situation, but I’ve heard enough to make me distrust the interpretation in the media. If the Ukraine heats up, as it seems to be doing, we’ll all get an education in Ukrainian politics.

  6. Rajiv says:

    An interesting take on the falling dollar by Moe Blues at

  7. Dave Pollard says:

    Bart/Rajiv: Thanks for the links — excellent stuff.

  8. mscandide says:

    Regarding the Sony thing: This is what I was trying to warn about when I posted the following at feral three weeks ago–“CyberAlert, an online clipping firm has announced BlogSquirrel, a new service specifically designed to monitor over 100,000 blogs. According to the press release: “By searching and reporting on a comprehensive cross-section of blogs, BlogSquirrel ( offers an effective ‘early warning system’ to identify problems and issues that may threaten corporate or brand reputation, or that present new opportunities for product development or business growth.” The growing number of “blog monitoring” services is probably a good (if early) indication of the interest around blogs. Source:

  9. Dave Pollard says:

    MsCandide: Excellent links and important warning, thanks. I think exposure to these kind of monitors comes with the blogging territory. Consumer Reports has been fighting for years against companies like Suzuki who have sued them for defamation just because they did a test that showed a company product to be shoddy or dangerous. They usually win, but bloggers don’t have the resources to fight off corporatist threats. This will eventually come to a head, and will come down to a decision on where individual rights to free speech end and corporations’ ‘rights’ to maximize profit at any cost begin. It will be interesting.

  10. Don Dwiggins says:

    Thanks to Bart for providing a good second perspective on the Ukraine situation. As to the spontaneity of the demonstrations, yet another interesting perspective is provided by this article:,15569,1360236,00.html (BTW, the “Otpor” movement in Serbia is worth an in-depth look — your favorite search engine should turn up some good info.) That article, of course, doesn’t discuss the geopolitical motivations of the US intervention in the Ukraine.Also, from an LA Times article I saw last week, it appears that the folks in the east side of the Ukraine have some sound reasons not to like Yushchenko. When he was Prime Minister, he basically wrote off the region, saying in effect “who needs ’em.” (This is an oversimplification, of course.)

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