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Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Aereo Case

Here is the transcript of today's oral argument in the Supreme Court in the case of ABC v. Aereo. Aereo is a broadcast tv streaming service that for a small monthly fee, allows computer and mobile device users to access their network of antennas and watch shows that are broadcast on free over the air channels in their area. Not surprisingly, the TV networks want to shut them down.

The networks claim Aereo violates copyright laws. Aereo says all it does it provide access to the antennas and the user decides what to watch.

The legal issues are very technical. One has to do with whether Aereo's service falls under the "public performance" or "reproduction" part of the copyright statute. If the networks are right, then Aereo is in violation of the law for not paying re-transmission fees to the networks. (Networks earn $3 billion a year in re-transmission fees from cable and satellite providers.) [More...]

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R.I.P. Ruben "Hurricane" Carter" (Open Thread)

Bob Dylan - Hurricane - 1975 Live by movisfree

R.I.P Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, who died this weekend in Toronto of complications from prostate cancer at age 76.

Carter spent 19 years in prison for a triple killing in New Jersey before a federal judge ruled in 1985 that he and John Artis, who was with Carter on the night of the shootings, did not receive fair trials and released them.

Artis was with Carter when he died early Sunday morning.

This is an open thread, all topics welcome.

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Guardian and WaPo Win Pulitzers for NSA Coverage

The Guardian and Washington Post have won gold medal Pulitzer Prizes for their coverage of the National Security Agency's secret electronic surveillance program. The announcement is here. The full list of winners, with citations, is here.

For a distinguished example of meritorious public service by a newspaper or news site through the use of its journalistic resources, including the use of stories, editorials, cartoons, photographs, graphics, videos, databases, multimedia or interactive presentations or other visual material, a gold medal.

Awarded to The Washington Post for its revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security.


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Steven Colbert to Replace David Letterman

Late night TV viewers are about to get a new choice -- Steven Colbert has been tapped to replace the retiring David Letterman.

Good choice.

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"The Good Wife": How Not to Handle a Major Character's Departure

The creators of "The Good Wife" decided that the best way to handle Will Gardner's decision to leave the show was to have him killed by a client at the courthouse. Here's their explanation. Poor choice.

Even worse, now the show will bring back Michael J. Fox, in his role as a sleazy lawyer, and Stockard Channing, as Alicia's irrelevant mother. And judging from the preview for next week, Alicia and Peter will recreate The Taming of the Shrew.

The show has been off its game most of this season. The "new firm" storyline went nowhere, they turned Eli Gold into a neurotic mess and they neutered Galinda by pairing her with milk-toast Carey. The new characters, like the ethics lady, and Will's yoga teacher girlfriend, were one-dimensional and embarrassingly demeaning. The only thing we were spared (for the most part) this season were Alicia's unappealing teenage kids. [More...]

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R.I.P. L'Wren Scott

Update: Mick Jagger has released a statement on his website, which now features a photo of L'Wren.

I am still struggling to understand how my lover and best friend could end her life in this tragic way.

We spent many wonderful years together and had made a great life for ourselves.

She had great presence and her talent was much admired, not least by me.

I have been touched by the tributes that people have paid to her, and also the personal messages of support that I have received.

I will never forget her, Mick


Fashion designer L'Wren Scott, long time significant other of Mick Jagger, was found dead in an apparent suicide in her New York apartment this morning. [More....]

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Comcast First to Air Medical Marijuana Ad

Latest example of our rapidly changing times when it comes to marijuana: Comcast accepted and has begun airing an ad for medical marijuana. The ad is by MarijuanaDoctors and will be seen on a variety of channels between 10 pm and 5 am.

The commercial draws a parallel between a “shady” street dealer attempting to push “unsafe” sushi to unsuspecting buyers, and medical marijuana patients being forced to obtain their medication in a similar fashion. MarijuanaDoctors.com draws this parallel in an attempt to prove the severity of consulting physicians in order to obtain medical marijuana for terminal & debilitating medical conditions where the doctor may recommend that the benefits of medical marijuana outweigh the risks of in order to improve a patients overall health.

You can view the ad below: [More...]

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Oscars Thread

It's time for the Oscars. Up for Best Picture:

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

Here's a thread for your thoughts.

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Glenn Greenwald's New Journalism Venture

Say hello to The Intercept, Glenn Greenwald's new journalism website, published by First Look Media and funded by EBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

While announcing the formation of First Look in October, Omidyar said he is contributing $250 million to pursue independent journalism, and tapped Greenwald to lead editorial operations.

One of today's two articles is about the NSA's role in the targeted assassination program.

The list of authors and staff is impressive -- it includes Marcy Wheeler (Empty Wheel) as Senior Policy Analyst, and Peter Maass, and Dan Froomkin as senior writers. Reporters include Ryan Gallagher, Ryan Devereaux, and Murtaza Hussain.

I hope they are a great success. We need more independent journalism ventures like this.

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Funeral Today for Philip Seymour Hoffman

Philip Seymour Hoffman's funeral was today.

According to NYC police chief Bill Bratton, his death is not a criminal investigation.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the search for the dealer who sold Hoffman the lethal dose was continuing — although he noted it was not a criminal investigation.

“We’re dealing with a death,” Bratton said Friday. “It is, I would emphasize, not a narcotics investigation ... but rather the investigation of a death.”

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Philip Seymour Hoffman: Autopsy Results Inconclusive

The autopsy results of Philip Seymour Hoffman are inconclusive. Authorities say further tests are needed to determine the cause of death.

My translation: He had multiple substances in his system and they can't say for sure whether any specific substance or combination caused his death.

The four people arrested last night have been charged with misdemeanor or felony drug possession. While one, a musician, knew Hoffman, it's not at all clear he was the source of Hoffman's heroin. The drugs seized during the search of their apartments did not have the markings found on the bags at Hoffman's apartment. Also, the heroin found at Hoffman's house did not contain Fentanyl.

The stepdaughter of arrestee Robert Vineberg, a jazz musician, said he hadn't seen Hoffman since November.

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R.I.P. Philip Seymour Hoffman

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has died of a drug overdose. His personal assistant found him on the bathroom floor of a Manhattan apartment he had recently rented with a needle still in his arm. There was heroin nearby.

Hoffman had been struggling with drug issues since 2012, after being clean for more than 20 years. He last went through rehab in 2013.

Hoffman and his longtime partner, Mimi O'Donnell, had three children. He was nominated for an Oscar four times, and won Best Actor for "Capote." He had several current film projects on tap. [More...]

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The Grammys

The Grammys are tonight, but most of the awards are given out this afternoon. You can watch live here.

The Red Carpet begins at 3pm ET.

The full nominee list is here. Some of the major categories for tonight:[More...]

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Spanish Programming and Subtitle Purgatory

The new TV season is beginning. Last night, I got bored during Downton Abbey and was not impressed with The Good Wife. They both seemed sluggish and a bit dull. Tonight, The Bachelor begins a new season, which of course I'll watch, but it will be the same old formula (although the Bachelor this year is from Venezuela and a native Spanish speaker.)

I think know why these shows, which I used to really like, now seem plodding and predictable to me: For the past few months, I've been watching Teleseries produced in Colombia, including La Reina Del Sur and Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal, and they just rock. They are like the Sopranos on speed. Only Breaking Bad and the first season of Homeland come close in terms of capturing your attention and holding it.

But here's the problem and why I'm writing about this. Other than these two shows, which were available with English subtitles when I watched them on MUN2-TV, since I can't understand Spanish when spoken rapidly, I have no way to watch other shows like El Capo, El Cartel de Sapos (Snitch Cartel), Alias al Mexicano and Los Tres Caines. None of the networks airing these other shows provide English subtitles or even English closed captioning.

These shows aren't all fictional. From the cartels to FARC and the right-wing paramilitary death squads, to the militarization of law enforcement, corrupt cops and the global reach of the DEA, many are educational as well as entertaining. [More...]

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Most Interesting Crime Stories of 2013

Time to recount the year's top crime stories: In no particular order, here's my list:

1. Colorado and legal recreational marijuana
2. Edward Snowden and NSA Phone Records
3. Guantanamo Hunger Strikes
4. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and the Boston Marathon Bombing
5. The George Zimmerman trial
6. DOJ and Kim Dotcom
7. DOJ and Aaron Swartz
8. Mexico's Release of Rafael Caro-Quintero
9. Adam Lanza (and efforts to enact new gun control laws)
10. Oscar Pistorius

Feel free to add your own own, but please keep them related to crime and civil liberties.

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