Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good Bye NYTimes!?

New York Times Announces Paywall Details

CS - New York Times
Mark Lennihan / AP Photo
The New York Times is cutting off Internet freeloaders after 20 articles per month. Beginning March 28, Times readers will have to subscribe if they want to read more than that. Subscriptions will come in three tiers: $15 every four weeks for access to the Web and a mobile-phone app; $20 for Web access and an iPad app; or $35 for an all-access plan.
 Anyone who subscribes to the print version will still have free access to all digital editions, and readers can still get to full articles through Google searchers or Facebook referrals. In an announcement to Times staff Thursday morning, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of the New York Times Company, said, “This system is our latest, and best, demonstration of where we believe the future of valued content—be it news, music, games, or more—is going.” Before the paywall is rolled out worldwide, it’s being tested in Canada.

When it comes to budget cuts, high school football should be first to go SI's Frank Deford

When a school make budget cuts, sports, art and music are often the first to go

From a common sense standpoint, schools should eliminate their football programs

It'd be a controversial move, but the sport is dangerous and only played by boys

School sports surely mean more in the United States than in any other country. For small-town America, as Buzz Bissinger's revealing book Friday Night Lights, showed, sports teams even become a significant part of a community's identity. In the U.S., we don't have many sports clubs, where children in many other countries participate in athletics.

And now that so many American school districts -- even whole states -- are facing reductions in school funding, more and more, it is athletics that are being cut back. Sometimes now, public school sports survive only by the grace of private donations, from parents and fans. Of course, it's not just sports that are prime prospects for elimination, but also art and music. After all, sports, art and music, the S-A-M of school -- what I call the SAM activities -- are known as extra-curriculars ... emphasis on the extra. They're the logical expenses to slash before you take down the educational basics: readin', writin', arithmetic -- not to mention science ... and maybe history and geography, if anybody cares about them anymore.

It's impossible not to argue with this rational, but it's also true that when children who are artistic or musical are denied that opportunity in school, it not only robs them of developing their talent, but diminishes us as a culture. And to knock out athletic exercise at a time when childhood obesity is an absolute epidemic could be just as damaging for the health of the nation. In a recent New York Times column, David Brooks notes that administrators who cut the SAM activities are deluding themselves, because in the long run, these are interests that "[quote] keep kids in school and build character [unquote]." Children need a little dessert with their academic vegetables.

Ironically, the most sensible extracurricular activity to be eliminated would be the most controversial ... Football. Yes ... it's excessively expensive compared to other sports, it's played only by one sex -- boys -- and the evidence grows regularly now that it is a terribly dangerous sport, rife with concussions, which can damage young brains. There must be a good reason why virtually nowhere else in the world is what is distinctively called "American football" played.

Now, the hue and cry that would go up if schools started trying to drop our favorite sport would be at the mega-level. It would, in fact, be called "un-American" -- and would probably produce more hysteria than raising taxes would. But from a strictly realistic, cost-effective, health-effective, culture-effective point of view, it would make the most sense to drop football. That would allow art and music to remain in school, and divert boys into safer athletic exercise.

Or look at it this way. If administrators actually threatened to eliminate football, the football people might finally have to try and take the deadly violence out of the game.

Most Popular Stories and Blog Posts

Nate Dogg is dead at 41

  1. Fukushima heroes: Not afraid to die
    3:56:52 PM PDT 03/15/2011
  2. Amazing Video: Man hacks Times Square billboards with iPhone?
    12:26:31 PM PDT 03/14/2011
  3. Ashley Herbert is the new "Bachelorette"
    6:30:58 AM PDT 03/15/2011
  4. UCLA student mocks Asian classmates on YouTube
    3:38:49 AM PDT 03/15/2011
  5. Adorable: Zookeeper gets affection from lions
    10:26:15 AM PDT 03/14/2011
  1. Radiation from Japan: How big a risk for U.S.?
    5:27:10 AM PDT 03/16/2011
  2. VIDEO: Boy body-slams his alleged bully
    8:34:38 AM PDT 03/16/2011
  3. Earth's day length shortened by Japan earthquake
    5:20:49 AM PDT 03/13/2011
  4. Japan nuke workers fight to halt radiation leaks
    4:58:40 AM PDT 03/15/2011
  5. Japan nuke plant spewed radiation after blast, fire
    5:29:31 PM PDT 03/14/2011
  6. Kacey Jordan (PICTURES): Charlie Sheen porn star pal tweets alleged suicide attempt
    6:18:03 AM PDT 03/16/2011

Read more:

Why Qaddafi Has Already Lost By ALI ABDULLATIF AHMIDA

THE fight is not over. Whether or not Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi defeats the rebels in eastern Libya, any legitimacy he once had has been extinguished. He has weapons, tanks and planes, but he has lost the allegiance of even those elements of Libyan society that had once been willing to wait and hope for political reform. His base of support is now only diehard allies and foreign mercenaries. They might win on the battlefield, but they will lose in the end.

The uprisings in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt were precipitating events, but the resistance has drawn its core motivation from Libya’s brutal experience of colonialism. What is most striking about the rhetoric of the rebellion is how the anticolonialist theme that Colonel Qaddafi once deployed has now been turned against him and is being used on Twitter and Facebook. Even as they are assaulted by Colonel Qaddafi’s forces, the rebels have resisted calling for forceful Western intervention, though they support the imposition of a no-flight zone.

Libya’s history explains why. From 1911 to 1943, half a million Libyans died under Italian rule, including 60,000 in concentration camps run by the fascists. Colonel Qaddafi’s nationalist populism is rooted in the traumas of the colonial era, which were papered over during the modernizing but out-of-touch monarchy that ruled from 1951 to 1969.

The regime that came into existence in a bloodless coup in 1969 was led by officers who came from lower-middle-class backgrounds, represented all three regions of Libya and had the backing of a population that was largely rural. Although it was anticolonialist and anticommunist and advocated Arab nationalism and Islamic cultural identity, the new government did not have a clearly delineated political agenda; instead it looked for guidance from the 1952 Egyptian revolution. To this ideological mix the Qaddafi faction, which consolidated power in 1976, added its vision of an indigenous, pastoral, socialist society supported by oil revenues and the labor of workers from abroad.

Western analysts focused on the leader’s cult of personality and eccentric style have often misinterpreted his regime as a historical aberration. In fact, it was rooted in the hinterland of south-central Libya, with its pan-Islamic culture, kinship networks, fear of the central state and mistrust of the West. Colonel Qaddafi transformed anticolonialism and Libyan nationalism into a revolutionary ideology, using language understood by ordinary Libyans. He employed his charisma to mobilize Libyans and attack his opponents. He spoke, ate and dressed like a rural tribesman.

But “tribalism,” so frequently mentioned in coverage of the revolt, is not a timeless feature of Libyan society. It was merely one facet of Colonel Qaddafi’s divide-and-conquer style of rule. To weaken opposition from students, intellectuals and the middle class, the regime pursued a policy of “Bedouinization,” attacking urban culture; promoting rural dress, music, festivals and rituals; and reviving institutions like tribal leadership councils. Tripoli, the capital, lost much of its cosmopolitan character even as it grew.

In its first two decades, the revolution brought many benefits to ordinary Libyans: widespread literacy, free medical care and education, and improvements in living conditions. Women in particular benefited, becoming ministers, ambassadors, pilots, judges and doctors. The government got wide support from the lower and middle classes.

But starting in the 1980s, excessive centralization, greater repression by security forces and a decline in the rule of law undermined the experiment in indigenous populism. Institutions like courts, universities, unions and hospitals weakened. Civic associations that had made Libyan society seem more democratic than many Persian Gulf states in the 1970s withered or were eliminated. A hostile international climate, and fluctuations in oil revenues, added to the pressures on the regime.

It responded by transforming its rituals of hero-worship into a rhetoric of pan-African ideology. It also turned to violence. After repeated coup attempts, it beat, imprisoned and exiled dissidents. It staffed security forces with reliable relatives and allies from central and southern Libya. During the 1990s, as economic sanctions took their toll, health care and education deteriorated, unemployment soared, the economy became ever more dependent on oil and the regime grew increasingly corrupt.

But what has escaped notice since the rebellion began in mid-February is the demographic transformation that made it possible. About 80 percent of Libyans now live in urban areas, towns and cities. Libya today has a modern economy and a high literacy rate. The leaders of the uprising include lawyers, judges, journalists, writers, scholars, women’s rights activists, former army officers and diplomats — a sizable urban elite that is battered and restive.

Had Colonel Qaddafi responded with openness to the calls for reform and not overreacted to the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the urban elite might have been placated, and the violent rebellion avoided. He blew it. Once his army and police shot at protesters, the pent-up disaffection of Libyan society was unleashed, and it is too late for the regime to bottle it up.
 In recent weeks the revolt has even gained support from the historically pro-Qaddafi rural populace. No matter how much blood is shed today, the uprising will not be stopped.

Ali Abdullatif Ahmida, a professor of political science at the University of New England, is the author of “The Making of Modern Libya: State Formation, Colonization and Resistance, 1830-1932.”

The Court’s Recusal Problem

Supreme Court justices have life tenure to assure their independence and impartiality. The court’s lack of a recusal policy leaves each justice to decide whether he or she is meeting that standard. That plainly violates the age-old legal principle: Nemo iudex in causa sua — no one should be a judge about his or her own case. It damages the justices’ credibility and the court’s authority.

The court is still not addressing the issue despite months of questions about possible cozy friendships, suspected political biases and family ties. Last week, Justice Antonin Scalia was asked to recuse himself from an upcoming case about alleged gender bias at Wal-Mart Stores because his son is co-chairman of the labor and employment practice at the law firm representing the company.

A bipartisan group of 107 law professors from 76 law schools have made their own proposal for how the court should solve its recusal problem. They argue that justices should follow the ethical code that applies to other federal judges. (Under the rule about avoiding the appearance of impropriety and not letting others “convey the impression that they are in a special position to influence the judge,” Justice Antonin Scalia would not have been able to go duck hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney in 2003 after the court agreed to hear a case involving Mr. Cheney.)

If a justice denies a motion to recuse, he or she should have to issue an opinion explaining why and that could be reviewed by some as yet unspecified group.

The professors’ proposal is a good start. Representatives Chris Murphy and Anthony Weiner are working on a bill based on it. It would be better for the justices to come up with their own similar proposal and adopt it — including a review process by a committee of justices to ensure accountability. That would not interfere with the court’s independence and would strengthen its credibility.

If the justices don’t act, Congress may have to require them to adopt a more transparent recusal process. That’s not our first choice. But the questions about the court’s impartiality are too serious to ignore.