Saturday, July 23, 2005

A not so Plain Dealer...

If you remember, shortly after Judith Miller went to jail, the Cleveland Plain Dealer editor announced that it would regrettably shelve two stories of "profound importance" based on illegally leaked documents. The editor added that the Plain Dealer feared the legal exposure of the paper and the threat of jail for its reporters. However, the Dealer's concern for its reporters seemed likely no more than a fig leaf as the reporters were quite willing to face jail time, if necessary:
The reporters say, 'Well, we're willing to go to jail, and I'm willing to go to jail if it gets laid on me,'" Clifton added, "but the newspaper isn't willing to go to jail. That's what the lawyers have told us. So this is a Time Inc. sort of situation.
Yes, this is the same Cleveland Plain Dealer that courageously decided to endorse neither Bush nor Kerry in the last election.

Today the nature of one of the two stories the Plain Dealer had shelved is finally revealed, courtesy of the Washington Post. And surprise, surprise, it turns out to provide much less ammunition to those preferring the absolutist position on reporter-source privilege than was initally believed.

The leaked documents were sealed FBI memos, one of them leaked by a defense lawyer in an ongoing corruption probe of Cleveland city officials. This type of leak might seem to pit the right of the public to be informed against the legal rights of court participants, but the revelations about the court proceedings would have come out after trial anyway. This is clearly in the category of "scoop at any cost", even at the risk of jeopardizing legal proceeedings seeking to fight corruption of public offices.

The funniest part of this whole story is found near the end of the Washington Post article.
The Plain Dealer, Ohio's largest newspaper, decided to publish after the weekly Scene wrote about the investigation and identified the story as one that was being withheld, Clifton said in Friday's edition.
Once again, cowards are getting played.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Snow birds or slow birds ?

The Research Highlights in the latest Nature mention a survey of the habits of 134 bird species published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

The conclusion ?

Bird species with larger brains relative to body size are less likely to migrate south for the winter. Furthermore, the non-migratory birds are more flexible in their feeding habits

Can an anthropology grant to study South Florida's wintering gents be far away ?

(Self-serving statement of the day: It remains to be seen whether the biggest bird brains are found in the birds that reside year-long in the south).

Monday, July 11, 2005

Start with a whisper, not a bang.

Alright, first post, first impressions. Now the first thing I cannot stress enough, is that this is not a blog.

No, I don't mean it like that.

I mean to say that it is an online magazine publication. You hear that, FEC ? Now that I've cleared that up, let me welcome you all, dear subscribers and pour you a fresh one.