Patterico's Pontifications

2/22/2009

Newspaper Bankruptcy Watch

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:34 pm

The latest bankruptcy: Philly papers:

Philadelphia Newspapers L.L.C., which owns The Inquirer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and Philly.com, filed for bankruptcy protection today in a bid to restructure its $390 million in debt load.

Bailout time!

Thanks to The College Politico.

Another Twitter Victim: Patterico

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:20 pm

OK, Allahpundit is now on Twitter. I feel have no choice: I have to join as well. (Actually, I joined a while back just to keep others from poaching my name. Now I’m going to start posting.)

I don’t really understand what the point is, but if you do, you can follow me here.

U.S. Senator Predicts Justice Ginsburg Dead This Year

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:21 pm

Sometimes Republicans can be real idiots:

U.S. Sen. Jim Bunning predicted over the weekend that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg would likely be dead from pancreatic cancer within nine months.

During a wide-ranging 30-minute speech on Saturday at the Hardin County Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner, Bunning said he supports conservative judges “and that’s going to be in place very shortly because Ruth Bader Ginsburg … has cancer.”

“Bad cancer. The kind that you don’t get better from,” he told a crowd of about 100 at the old State Theater.

“Even though she was operated on, usually, nine months is the longest that anybody would live after (being diagnosed) with pancreatic cancer,” he said.

Ginsburg, who is 75, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this month and surgeons removed a small tumor that had not spread. Doctors termed it a “Stage 1″ cancer, meaning they found it in the early stages when it is most curable.

According to the American Cancer Society, people diagnosed with Stage 1 pancreatic cancer have between a 21 and 37 percent chance of living for more than five years with the disease.

Thanks for your diagnosis, Dr. Bunning. Now shut the hell up.

Thanks to Scott Jacobs.

AP: “Hot News” Doctrine for Me, But Not for Thee

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 pm

The Washington Post‘s TechCrunch reports:

A case between the Associated Press and All Headline News is moving forward based on a 90-year-old legal doctrine which may no longer be applicable in the Internet age. A federal judge ruled that the AP can sue AHN for stealing its “hot news.”

The piece relies heavily on an excellent post at a blog called The Prior Art. The post pulls together the relevant briefs and the court decision in the case, and explains:

According to 2nd Circuit law quoted in the order in this case [PDF], a “hot news” misappropriation claim is viable when:

(i) a plaintiff generates or gathers information at a cost;

(ii) the information is time-sensitive;

(iii) a defendant’s use of the information constitutes free riding on the plaintiff’s efforts;

(iv) the defendant is in direct competition with a product or service offered by the plaintiffs;

(v) the ability of other parties to free-ride on the efforts of the plaintiff or others would so reduce the incentive to produce the product or service that its existence or quality would be substantially threatened.

Personally, I can’t see how all five of these don’t apply to any news organization that’s writing a story that follows a “scoop” by a competitor.

If courts are seriously going to apply this doctrine, it threatens traditional understandings of fair use and puts a chill on bloggers’ freedom of expression.

What’s more, the AP apparently doesn’t feel bound by this doctrine. Because as it turns out, I have a pretty good argument that the AP has stolen my “hot news” on more than one occasion.

Last year, the AP republished portions of a letter posted on my site from Alex Kozinski’s wife.

This information cost me time to obtain. I wrote Judge Kozinski an e-mail (passed on to his wife) asking for a reaction. Then I spent considerable time of the phone with Ms. Tiffany — talking about the controversy generally, her reaction to it, and whether she would be willing to write something about it.

The information was time-sensitive. I posted the letter from Ms. Tiffany on June 16, 2008. The AP story reproduced the information the same day. At the time, the controversy was still a hot topic.

The AP constituted free riding on my efforts in obtaining the e-mail from Ms. Tiffany. As the blogger at The Prior Art noted, “it could still be thought of as ‘free-riding’ if the second news outlet is just publishing a do-over of the themes, sources, ideas, in the first article—and such second-day stories could reduce the incentive to get scoops.” Other than placing a phone call to verify Ms. Tiffany’s identity, the AP did little but piggy-back off the contents of Ms. Tiffany’s letter.

Is the AP in direct competition with me? Arguably so. We’re both trying to get eyeballs for our respective Internet content. They’re waaayy more successful — but I’m trying!

A similar thing happened in April 2006, when I reported on the sock-puppetry of L.A. Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik. My report took far more effort than my post about Marcy Tiffany’s e-mail — and was certainly considered news by outlets across the nation. The AP piggybacked on my efforts within a day.

I’d ask for a lawyer to help me file a couple of lawsuits here — except that I happen to believe that the “hot news” doctrine is crap. The AP may well have a valid copyright claim in the case discussed above, but this “hot news” concept flies directly in the face of fair use. If a sane court ever got hold of the issue, I assume it would be resolved properly.

So I won’t be filing suit — but I will be savoring the irony. It’s yet another example of the AP failing to live by the rules it sets for others.

WaPo on Gitmo Detainee Who Returned to Jihad: Was It Gitmo’s Fault?

Filed under: General,Media Bias,Terrorism,War — Patterico @ 2:47 pm

A Page A01 Washington Post story is titled From Captive To Suicide Bomber, with a subhead: “Accused of Being Little More Than a Low-Level Taliban Fighter, Abdallah al-Ajmi Was Held by the U.S. for Nearly Four Years. After His Release, He Blew Up an Iraqi Army Outpost. Did Guantanamo Propel Him to Do It?”

Here’s my answer after reading the article: no. His lawyer thinks the answer is “yes,” but the answer is no.

I guess this will be the leftist answer if there are future acts of violence by released detainees: it’s all George W. Bush’s fault for holding them there.

The prisoner committed the worst act of violence to date by a released Gitmo detainee. He made a video praising Allah for releasing him from Gitmo and joining him with “the Islamic State of Iraq” and then killed more than a dozen people:

At 6:15 a.m. on March 23, 2008, not long after making the video, Ajmi drove a pickup truck filled with 5,000 to 10,000 pounds of explosives, hidden in what appeared to be white flour sacks, onto an Iraqi army base outside Mosul. He barreled though the entrance checkpoint and past a fusillade of gunfire from the sentries, shielded by bulletproof glass and makeshift armor welded to the cab.

The Easter Sunday blast killed 13 Iraqi soldiers, wounded 42 others and left a 30-foot-wide crater in the ground.

The article suggests that Gitmo was responsible for turning him into a homicidal jihadist. Early in the article, we are given excerpts from two letters to his attorney that supposedly illustrate this transformation. The first letter the attorney received was polite; in it, Ajmi refers to himself as a “happy detainee.” The last letter the attorney received referred to the Jewish attorney as the “descendant of rotten apes and swine” and says: “I greet you with a kick, a spit, and a slap on your lying, rotten, ugly, and sullen face.”

Yet, deeeeeep down in the article, we learn evidence showing it wasn’t Gitmo that did this to him. According to prosecutors, in August 2004, before he had even met with his lawyers, he was talking about how he wanted to kill as many Americans as possible. Near the very end of the lengthy article, we are told that at his tribunal, the prosecutor said: “In August of 2004, Al Ajmi wanted to make sure that when the case went in front of the tribunal, that the tribunal members know that he is now a jihadist, an enemy combatant and that he would kill as many Americans as he possible [sic] can. . . . Upon arrival at the Guantanamo detention facility, Al Ajmi has been constantly in trouble. Al Ajmi’s overall behavior has been aggressive and non-compliant and [he] has resided in the disciplinary blocks throughout his detention.” (Ajmi denied the allegations.)

The article describes how, in his first meeting with his lawyers, he said: “I am here as an enemy combatant, and I will leave here as an enemy combatant. Tell my family that.”

(Two weeks later he told his lawyer that his story was made up. We know from the interview with Stashiu that “deny, deny, deny” is the mantra of many Gitmo inmates — though not all; some proudly proclaim their hostility to the U.S. — as Ajmi himself apparently had.)

The article sets forth Ajmi’s history, which shows that he became radicalized at a Kuwaiti mosque, and followed fatwas to engage in jihad.

Ajmi joined the army in Kuwait, and the article says that “even some of his relatives are convinced that his departure from Kuwait was not entirely for peaceful purposes.” In Kuwait he attended a mosque that” is known among Kuwaitis as a hotbed of radicalism,” where sermons “dwell on the oppression of Muslims and include exhortations to participate in jihad.”

Obeying a fatwa posted at the mosque, Ajmi traveled to Pakistan to fight Russians in Chechnya, but could not travel there. Another fatwa “called for Muslims to fight against Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of the Northern Alliance, which was battling the Taliban in Afghanistan.”

On March 26, Ajmi left Kuwait for Pakistan. Before leaving, he called his mother. “I’m going for jihad,” he said, according to his brother Ahmed. “Count me as a martyr for God.”

Ahmed said their mother yelled at him. He hung up on her.

After his brother left, Ahmed said, he went to the Subhan mosque to inquire about his whereabouts. “They told me, ‘We taught your brother the right things. We set him on the right path.’ “

He fought against the Northern Alliance and was later captured in Afghanistan near the Tora Bora mountains.

At Gitmo, Ajmi was a disciplinary problem. While speaking with his lawyer, with the aid of an interpreter, he “threw a cup of hot tea in the interpreter’s face.”

He sounds like he had mental issues, and I may try to ask our friend Stashiu about him, although I doubt I’ll get anything specific. At one point he grabbed a microphone tied into the camp’s PA system and said: “This is General al-Ajmi and I’m in control now . . . Everyone is going free.” He “developed a propensity for hurling his feces and urine” — again, a common tactic by detainees, as we know from our conversations with Stashiu.

When his attorney told him he was being released, he cursed at him.

Did Gitmo do this to him, as the article suggests? Anyone making that case has to explain why he was engaged in jihad before arriving at Gitmo, why he described himself as an enemy combatant early on in his stay — and why, in August 2004, before he ever met with his attorney, he said he was going to kill as many Americans as possible.

Once you’re done explaining that, explain to me why we let this guy go.


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