Wednesday, May 23, 2012


SECRET SERVICE SCANDAL WIDENS: The scandal involving U.S. Secret Service personnel and prostitutes in Colombia widened this week to include possible involvement of DEA agents, as well. The Washington Post has provided the most comprehensive coverage of the story to date, including this week’s revelation that some Secret Service employees are fighting their dismissals with claims that they are being made scapegoats in the investigation. This week, Congressional Hearings began about the Colombia incident, with Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) claiming the scandal may be just the tip of the iceberg: “This was not a one-time event,” said Collins, “The circumstances unfortunately suggest an issue of culture.”

FACEBOOK’S INITIAL PUBLIC DEBACLE: It was supposed to be one of the largest Internet company Initial Public Offerings in history, but it turned into a case of big talk and no walk. Facebook opened its company up to investors and promptly flopped. Forbes Magazine has done a stellar job in interpreting this mess for the masses, especially offering solid reasons the IPO was a bust. It should have been a top-shelf week for CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who saw his fiancĂ©e graduate from med school and then got married the day after the IPO debut; instead, Zuckerberg, more of an idea guy than a corporate animal, is learning the hard way that playing in the big leagues is unpredictable and pretty ugly.

UNCLE WALTER UNMASKED: Three years after his death and three decades after he signed off for the last time at CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite is the subject of a sometimes unflattering new biography by historian Douglas Brinkley. Brinkley, whose is renowned for his deep research and thorough approach to his subjects, uncovered a few fatal flaws about “the most trusted man in America.” Cronkite, it seems, was not immune to accepting favors and gifts from companies or organizations about which he reported.
It is widely known that Cronkite was against the Vietnam war, but not until Brinkley’s book did we find out that he actually pushed Robert F. Kennedy into a presidential run in 1968. “You must announce your intention to run against Johnson,” Cronkite reportedly told RFK, “to show people there will be a way out of this terrible war.” One could say the newsman was attempting to create the news, which as all decent journalists know, is about as against the rules as against the rules can be. The book also details Cronkite’s disdain for his successor, Dan Rather. Read more about Brinkley’s revelations at Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

STEALING SHERIFF JOE’S THUNDER: If there is one word to describe Arizona, it is “persistent.” This week, the notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the living thorn in President Obama’s side, decided to send a deputy to Hawaii to prove once and for all that Obama was not born in the U.S. There was just one problem with Sheriff Joe’s timing: Also this week, Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett received final verification from Hawaii Attorney General David Louie that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii.
Bennett was threatening to keep Obama off the November presidential election ballot if he could not be fully assured that Obama was born in the U.S. Meanwhile, Sheriff Joe might want to focus his energies on his own tenure in Arizona: The U.S. government has filed suit against Arpaio for racially profiling Latinos. Note to “America’s toughest sheriff”: Uncle Sam is one mean mother.

AND YET, NO APOLOGY: The judge in the Dharun Ravi (below, left) case wondered out loud before imposing a 30-day sentence on the 19-year-old who clandestinely taped his Rutgers University roommate having sex with a man: “I haven’t heard you apologize.” Yet Ravi’s lack of stated remorse did not seem to influence Judge Glenn Berman to exact extreme punishment. 30 days in jail, $10,000 fine and community service work. The roommate, Tyler Clementi, after discovering that Ravi had distributed the video online, jumped to his death from a bridge.
The light sentence touched off a firestorm of disagreement among observers, but Judge Berman said simply, "I do not believe [the legislature] envisioned this type of behavior" when it passed the anti-bias statute at the heart of the case.” In other words, in his estimation, the act did not rise to the standards of a hate crime. As Forbes Magazine staff writer Kashmir Hill points out, this was not a murder case, but what about the obvious invasion of privacy? Now that we have such easily accessible consumer technology, maybe it is time to revisit our privacy laws and bring them into the 21st century.

No comments: