Weekend Roundup 9/20/2010

Worth reading...

Every week, the CQR Blog will feature comments from CQ Researcher writers and editors on stories they read over the weekend and liked. We hope you’ll join in the conversation and post your favorite reads in the comment section.


At 103, Oldest Federal Judge Has One Caveat: No Lengthy Trials
A.G. Sulzberger, The New York Times, 9/17/10

  • Synopsis: U.S. District Court Judge Wesley E. Brown, appointed by President Kennedy, is still hearing cases in semiretirement at age 103. Lawyers who appear before him are quoted in this endearing portrait as saying he is still sharp and capable.
  • Takeaway: Brown dismisses talk about his age. “I’m not interested in how old I am,” he says. “I’m interested in how good a job I can do.”
Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor, CQ Researcher


The Hamster Wheel
Dean Starkman, Columbia Journalism Review, Sept./Oct. 2010

  • Synopsis: It's common wisdom that updating news minute by minute is an Internet imperative. But readers are busier than ever so "it makes no sense....to be increasing the volume of random items for these harried people to sort through." Worse, speed-journalism strengthens the truth-hiding function -- PR -- not reporting or analysis. More than ever reporters parrot business and government "spokespeople," and PR professionals now outnumber journalists nearly four to one. "The greater the need for copy, the more dependent reporters are on sources for scoops and pitiful scraps" of largely agenda-driven "information."
  • Takeaway: Maybe not all is lost? So far, nobody's made money on "hamster-wheel" journalism, and some analysts say that, as Internet users switch to mobile devices, deep reader engagement and "curated news" provided by knowledgeable people may be just the thing to capture readers' eyes and dollars.
Marcia Clemmitt, Staff writer, CQ Researcher


Touching off Debate, Missouri Tells Judges Cost of Sentences
Monica Davey, The New York Times, 9/19/10

  • Synposis: Before sentencing convicted criminals, judges in Missouri are now told how much a prison sentence would cost the state versus probation. For example, five years of intensive probation for a second-degree robber might carry a $9,000 price tag, versus $50,000 for a comparable prison sentence and parole. Missouri is the only state that systematically provides such information.
  • Takeaway: The new policy has sparked intense debate between defense attorneys and prosecutors and fiscal conservatives and raised a fundamental question: Should justice be subject to cost-benefit analysis?
Thomas J. Colin, Managing Editor, CQ Researcher


Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs
David Segal, The New York Times, 9/19/10

  • Synopsis: At age 12 Seth Priebatsch started a price-comparison shopping Web site and by eighth grade he had eight employees — six in India, two in Russia. Now, aided by venture capitalists, he is working 24/7 to grow Scvngr, the site he first pitched as a Princeton freshman.
  • Takeaway: It takes a special breed to launch a new venture – especially a Web-based venture.

Lord Bingham
The Economist, 9/18/10

  • Synopsis: Tom Bingham, a passionate defender of individual liberty and the rule of law, died Sept. 11 at age 76. He alone had held the three top legal posts in England—Master of the Rolls, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales and senior law lord in the House of Lords—and was regarded “by general agreement…[as] the greatest English judge since the second world war.”
  • Takeaway: Bingham stood fast against illegal detention of terrorism suspects and the use of evidence obtained by torture, and his death on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks is a striking reminder of that tragic event’s legal legacy on both sides of the Atlantic.
Thomas J. Billitteri, Assistant Managing Editor, CQ Researcher


Benedict Bites Back: How the pope tried to stem the tide of criticism
Joanna Moorehead, The Independent, 9/19/10

  • Synopsis: Before Pope Benedict set foot in the United Kingdom last week, the view in the country he was due to visit was that the first papal state visit, overshadowed by the wave of sexual abuse scandals and the pope’s conservative approach to such issues as birth control and gay marriage, would either be a flop or a PR disaster. It turned out to be neither.
  • Takeaway: But as he prepares to leave for Rome this evening …you could at least make a case for saying he’s emerged from the trip looking statesman-like, looking successful, and – most unlikely of all – looking popular.
Roland Flamini, CQ Contributor