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Heather Barmore
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    Wednesday
    Jul202011

    Hackergate: News Corps, it's subsidiaries and the demise of journalistic integrity



    When I'm truly confused by utter stupidity I end up asking many obvious questions and reiterating obvious statements. I'm that girl who wants to bring a bit of reality and obviousness to a situation where, what would be considered to be in the realm of appropriate has long ago jumped off a bridge into a a sea of flames. It's asking blatant 'duh' statements like why a "journalist" - and I say that word as loosely as possible - would think it ok to hack into the voicemail of a 13 year old murder victim. I wonder from what planet said journalist is from where that might be ok. And if so, I bet it's one of those places where Up is Down and cookie's for breakfast are the norm. I wonder how it is ok for the President of the company where the hacking originated would think he has nothing to do with that behavior. Like yeah, it happened while he (and she) were in charge but they have so many employees. How is it their fault?

    The last two weeks of the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks, News of the World scandal have kept me in rapt attention as I have followed the ups and downs and whosits and whatsits and now the whistleblower of the entire thing is dead. If you want to see international scandal, theater and intrigue this might be your thing. I'm waiting for the movie version to come out.

    But in all sincerity I find myself sad. Sad that people who have lost their loved ones much too soon due to murder or terrorist attack are now being forced to not only relive the pain of that loss but also knowing that a news organization is reported to have hacked into the voicemails of their loved ones. And for what I wonder? There is not a news story in the world that is juicy enough to involve listening to little Milly Dowler's voicemails and yet…apparently integrity is lacking in certain people. This goes beyond a lack of journalistic credibility or keeping ones company in order but to the root of all that is wrong with so many in this world that they will literally do anything and everything to get what they're after.

    And once again I am being obvious here in my questions and in trying to find reason for such despicable acts. Which brings me to Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks. Murdock is the President of News Corporation (which is also the parent company of Fox News and I'm hoping that all of that 'trickle down' conservatives are so fond of works in this situation as well. Yes, please, trickle on down) (but I digress) and Rebekah Brooks was the Editor of News of the World before it was shuttered last week after 168 years. Because of their mishandling and involvement in the suspected hacking of phones (every time I write that I shake my head because..God, really??) they were asked to come before Parliament. It should also be said that the FBI is starting its own inquiry here in the US. Yesterday, Murdoch and Brooks made their appearance and I'll spare you play by play to say that though their behavior was 'typical' it was still disturbing to see that them both claiming that they really had nothing to do with what happened and they had better things to do while all of this was going on. Like vacation, according to Ms. Brooks. Murdoch and Brooks continued to play the "I'm sorry but it's not my fault" game and in return they were told by Members of Parliament that they had "immense courage" and my, they have so much guts for coming in to answer to the actions of their companies.

    Sigh.

    The entire thing makes me angry and I'm curious to know if others have been following along as well. My anger comes not just because this is what passes for 'journalism' these days but because the privacy of a 13 year old murder victim was violated for a tabloid story. It doesn't make any sense. Then again, I don't think it's supposed to and that's why people are angry and furious. Because those that are weak are taken advantage of while a billionaire like Murdoch, one of the 10 most powerful people in the world can simply apologize, shrug and go on. I'm pissed because none of this is fair. Then again, who said anything was supposed to be fair?



    Related:

    If you have no clue what I'm talking about a primer from Wikipedia: News International Phone Hacking Scandal

    From Blurbomat: Jaw Dropping Stories from England and Parliament Committee Hearing Day

    From CBC: Murdoch Apologizes

    From Forbes Blog: News Corp: Yep, we're going there
    Sunday
    Jul172011

    Debt Ceiling Explained

    I attempted and failed miserably at explaining the debt ceiling and its importance to a friend. There was a lot of wild gesturing and then a heavy sigh at the end. I think it comes from how debt ceiling, deficit and budget are inexorably intertwined. And the next thing you know states are facing the same budget crises that they faced this past year. A problem that will persist until we are out of this hole. Anyway, if you have been wondering what this is all about, Ali Velshi explains it here.

    Tuesday
    Jul052011

    "Off the Sidelines" and other things that make me say hooray! 

    “The female approach is more conciliatory and less combative. We tend to use a more civil tone.” - Senator Kirsten Gillibrand

    I started this website last year in order to voice my very strong and ever present opinions on all things political. Not just on policy and people but because I wanted to be able to start and have a discussion on what is going on in the world around me. We are the products of our communities and I have long felt that it is our responsibility as citizens to be as informed as possible. And so I have spent so much of my time, energy and effort wanting to engage people on what is going on in their parts of the world because a) I am interested and b) Because what happens in Boise is capable of affecting what happens in Albuquerque. Just as what was happening in Athens affected what happened on Wall Street.

    In the years since realizing my passion for politics I have always noticed one thing. The giant elephant in the room staring me down during meetings and through hallways on the hill, that I am a rarity. A young (black) female who finds C-SPAN to be the best thing since white bread. Quick sidetone: This obsession with watching Congress is such that a) On my Life List is being able to be on the floor of the House and Senate and b) My friend Jen recently met the President of C-SPAN at an event and she made sure to tell him about her crazy liberal friend who thinks the Washington Journal call-in hour might be the most entertaining moment on television.

    Every time I meet another young female in politics we sit and talk about our own trials and tribulations and if I were to tell you how easy it is all the time to be the Young Girl in the room, I'd be lying because <whine> it's so hard, y'all! </whine> Despite the aggravation there is one thing that I has intertwined with my general love of politics and that is to get women, scratch that YOUNG WOMEN - involved in the political process. To get them to listen, think and care about what is going on in the world around them.

    I've actually had this post on my mind for a few days and how fitting that this morning Senator Gillibrand, who, full-disclosure, is someone I know and admire in real life, announced Off the Sidelines a program to "mobilize women across the country, in advance of the national elections next year". When I saw this on Twitter and in my inbox it was all I could do not to fist pump. There are several organizations to help women in politics and with each new program I get a little more hopeful about the progress of women - ALL WOMEN - in politics.

    One of my favorite organizations that I have worked with for several years is Running Start which is an organization for high school and college women who are interested in politics and teaches them who, what, where, when and why along with mentoring and support in their endeavors. This summer Running Start is doing another summer program and because there is no other organization whose mission is so close to my heart and to what I want in my life and career, I have decided that for every comment received on this post between the time I hit publish and Friday Monday, I will donate one dollar to Running Start and getting a high school student to their summer program.

    All you have to do is comment. That's all. I'd like it even better if you checked out Running Start, its sister organization WUFPAC, EMILY's List, WCF and Off the Sidelines. Sound good? Great. Go.

    *Disclosure: This is all of my own doing and for fun and because I believe in the mission of this organization and the organizations listed here.