December 25, 2010

File this one under: “You can’t make this stuff up.”

According to Greg Miller at the Washington Post: “The Central intelligence Agency (CIA) has launched a task force to assess the impact of the exposure of thousands of US diplomatic cables and military files by WikiLeaks. Officially, the panel is called the WikiLeaks Task Force. But at CIA headquarters, it's mainly known by its all-too-apt acronym: WTF.”

December 11, 2010

No, you're not going to find LeBron James on this list. The man did what any self-respecting capitalist would do: Take the money and run.

Curious, isn't it? Throughout the year, James was catching all sorts of shit for his decision to leave Cleveland for more lucrative, and winning ways, in Miami. Meanwhile, people in positions of real power and authority sold out this country at every turn. Where is the outrage?

Call James a sellout all you like, but this sideshow ain't nothing like the real thing.

November 26, 2010

In the aftermath of the midterm elections, politicians and pundits on either side of the partisan divide urged Democrats and Republicans to stop their bickering and get down to business. Sound advice, to be sure. But if recent history is any guide, such efforts are doomed from the start. As the saying goes, "The water is wide." And when it comes to putting the interests of everyday Americans before those of partisans and private interests, it's a bridge too far.

Saying this, I'm not being cynical, or partisan for that matter. A clear-eyed assessment of our political system reveals a twisted, shortsighted and self-interested logic that represents a far more ominous threat to our democracy -- and our whole way of life -- than any ideological differences we might have.

November 12, 2010

The election results are in and, as expected, Democrats took it on the chin. It remains to be seen how the historic gains made by Republicans -- and their Tea Party doppelgaengers -- will play out in the next session of Congress. But as one of MTV's memorable characters put it some years ago, "I've got a bad feeling about this Butthead."

In the meantime, it might be worthwhile to consider a few stories that got spun, overlooked, or just plain ignored amid the deluge of news, analysis and opinion coming out of the 2010 midterm elections. Here, then, in no particular order, are five stories that deserve a closer look.

November 8, 2010

Wendell Berry will be in Bloomington Nov. 9-11 to read from his work and participate in a discussion with Wes Jackson and Scott Russell Sanders as part of the Patten Lecture series. Berry spoke with Thomas P. Healy from his northern Kentucky farm prior to the November elections.


TPH: You're going to be giving the Patten Lecture in Bloomington, and I wanted to see if you'd given any thought to what you'd be discussing in that lecture.

WB: To tell you the truth, I haven't. There are a number of possibilities, I'm not going to write a lecture, I've already told them that, and I may be reading a piece of fiction. I just don't know.

October 30, 2010

This year’s campaign season has been more bizarre than usual. From the manufactured controversy over the so-called Ground Zero mosque and Christine O’Donnell’s “I am not a witch” ad to Barack Obama’s “Yes we can, but” moment on The Daily Show, it’s been a long, strange trip.

With a tip of the hat to the Tea Party, and the journalists and pundits who love them, here are a few thoughts on the intersection of media, politics and culture on the eve of Decision 2010.

CBS correspondent has spent seven years covering Middle East wars

October 17, 2010

CBS chief foreign affairs correspondent Lara Logan's talk at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater on Oct. 12, 2010, was a fascinating exploration of war reporting, as well as an intriguing insight into the possibilities of her future CBS News foreign affairs reportage.

Logan spoke to a full house and kept the audience rapt throughout. Her appearance was sponsored by the IU School of Journalism.

October 17, 2010

When I reflect on the news habits of college students today, my thoughts can best be summed up in three words: shock and awe. On the one hand, it's shocking how uninformed and uninterested students are in news and current events. Whether its domestic policy debates or international relations, students are routinely "out of the loop" on the major issues of the day.

On the other hand, I'm awed by the impressive array of communication technologies college students have at their disposal. From traditional media like newspapers, magazines, radio and television, to the new media of the Internet, cell phones, PDAs and social networking sites, young people have unprecedented access to local, national and international news.

October 16, 2010

Photojournalist Adam Reynolds was happy to see the FedEx truck pull up recently. He'd been anxiously awaiting the return of the tools of his trade -- camera, laptop and iPod -- that were confiscated by Yemen authorities in April.

The Bloomington native and another freelance journalist, Heather Murdock, were deported at the end of April from the country located at the tip of the Saudi Arabian peninsula. The official reason for their expulsion was that they were traveling without permits. "We wanted to visit southern Yemen to interview members of the secessionist Southern Movement," Reynolds said. "And there was no way the government would have permitted that."

An interview with Scott Russell Sanders

October 4, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- In his capacity as the 2010 national winner of the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, Scott Russell Sanders spent the day here recently, making the rounds of media outlets. Over lunch, the professor emeritus of English at Indiana University talked about retirement, the culture of books, real wealth and the common good.


TPH: Which library did you pick to be the beneficiary of the award? [In addition to receiving a $10,000 personal prize, Sanders gets to select a library to receive $2,500.]

SRS: Monroe County Public Library. It’s a great dimension of the award in that it explicitly recognizes the importance of public libraries, the culture of books and what’s involved in nurturing a society where the reading and writing of books is taken seriously. And by books, it doesn’t really matter to me what medium people read in. I distinguish between the nature of the delivery system and what it is that’s being delivered. I will always prefer reading a book to reading something that’s on the screen. But I’m perfectly willing to believe that another person can get as rich an experience from reading the screen -- maybe prefers the screen.

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