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19 posts categorized "Weblogs" Feed

January 17, 2011

Vermont Political Blog Seeks Donations, Plans Expansion

GMD Visitors to the left-leaning blog Green Mountain Daily were greeted with a pop-up window this morning with the opening line: "GMD needs your help."

No, the site's existence isn't being threatened or held hostage by some corporate web-hosting service. Instead, GMD is urging its fans to donate money to the five-year-old blog as a way to support its ongoing work and potentially fuel its "big plans and ideas."

The pop-up plea kicks off a two-week contribution drive — no mention of tote bags or GMD mugs as thank you gifts for your contribution like they have over at Vermont Public Radio. In a note to readers, the GMD crew said they plan to use the drive to "not only support our ongoing work, but to gauge support for doing more."

Continue reading "Vermont Political Blog Seeks Donations, Plans Expansion" »

January 13, 2011

Criminalizing Comments? Bill Would Make "False and Defamatory" Internet Postings a Crime

Obuchowski Elected officials take a lot of abuse from anonymous commenters who attack them on blogs and news websites. But should "cyberbullying" politicians be a crime?

It should if comments cross the line from critical into "false and defamatory," says Michael Obuchowski (pictured in this old file photo). Obuchowski, a Rockingham Democrat, recently resigned from the Legislature to become commissioner of the Department of Buildings and  General Services. Before he left, Obie proposed numerous bills, including H.16, "An act relating to harassment and disturbing the peace through false and defamatory Internet website postings."

Cosponsored by state Rep. Carolyn Partridge (D-Rockingham), the bill would expand Vermont's "disturbing the peace" statute to include electronic communications that "knowingly and intentionally" cause "false and defamatory" postings to be made on a website. The crime would be punishable by a fine of up to $250 and up to three months in jail; on second offense, the fine and jail time increase to $500 and six months.

The legislation has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

Obuchowski tells Seven Days the legislation was requested by Tom MacPhee, chair of the Rockingham Selectboard, following the resignation of Robert Thomson last summer. Thomson resigned from the selectboard over what he felt were "personal attacks" against him in the comments section of the Brattleboro Reformer website by readers critical of his role in laying off two town employees.

While the Obuchowski-Partridge bill is aimed at "false and defamatory" comments made about individuals including politicians, comments threatening politicians have been in the news locally and nationally. Burlington police attended a city council meeting this week after a commenter on the Burlington Free Press website referenced bringing "Smith and Wesson" to the meeting. Meanwhile, in reaction to the shooting rampage in Tuscon, a Pennsylvania congressman has proposed legislation that would make it a federal crime to make criminal threats against a member of Congress or his or her staff.

Continue reading "Criminalizing Comments? Bill Would Make "False and Defamatory" Internet Postings a Crime" »

December 27, 2010

The Jim Douglas-Jim Morrison Connection, and Other Google Doppelgangers

Jims Ed. Note: During the last week of the year, we asked our writers to reflect on the highs and lows of 2010.

 As a reporter, one of the easiest ways to stay abreast of local newsmakers is using Google Alerts — where you sign up to get an email every time the name of someone, or some thing, hits the world wide web.

My Google Alerts run the gamut from Vermont politicians like Jim Douglas and Bernie Sanders, to prominent local companies like Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Every time their name hits the Internet, I get an email alerting me to it.

It's a really smart little system Google has devised — but not so smart that it can distinguish between Jim Douglas the governor and Jim Douglas the television news reporter from Dallas, Texas. Or Jim Douglas the character in the 1968 Disney film The Love Bug. Or the Jim Douglas who is a judge in Australia.

Over the last year, Google Alerts has clogged my inbox with Jim Douglases, Patrick Leahys and Phil Scotts who have nothing to do with Vermont. I started collecting them last January and wanted to share my stash before 2010 went out the door. Much as former Seven Days staff writer Mike Ives discovered in his piece "Alter Egoed," I learned that once you go down the doppelganger rabbit hole, there's no telling where you'll end up.

Here, in no particular order, are my 7 best newsmaker doppelgangers of 2010:

Continue reading "The Jim Douglas-Jim Morrison Connection, and Other Google Doppelgangers" »

December 17, 2010

Polls Gives Obama 71-Point Lead Over Sanders in Hypothetical 2012 Match-Up

Sanders-header Bad news for folks on board the "Bernie for President" bandwagon.

A poll of New Hampshire Democrats and independents released today by Magellan Strategies shows Barack Obama shellacking Filibernie by 79 to 8 in a theoretical "primary" election. Sanders has said he's not interested in running for president but that hasn't stopped more than 500 fans from signing a petition asking him to do it anyway.

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November 30, 2010

Judge Orders Psych Evaluation For Vermonter Who Threatened to Kill Obama

 You hear the one about the Vermont comedian who threatened to kill President Obama on Twitter?

The Secret Service wasn't laughing in August when 43-year-old Chris King of Bellows Falls tweeted a message to the White House that read, "I am dying inside. And I am plainly stating to you that I am going to kill the president." Agents arrested King at his home for the federal crime of "threats against president and successors to the presidency" in October. He's remained locked up since, while lawyers argue about whether he is competent to stand trial, and if he should be released from custody pending trial.

(Note: Video is from King's UStream page and apparently documents his trip to Senator Patrick Leahy's office in Washington, D.C. on June 28, 2010.)

Yesterday in federal court, U.S. District Judge William K. Sessions III denied King's request for release from custody, saying he believes that without psychological treatement, King poses a danger.

Continue reading "Judge Orders Psych Evaluation For Vermonter Who Threatened to Kill Obama" »

November 29, 2010

VT Law School Student and Prof Blogging from COP16 Climate Change Conference

COP16 Remember last year's global climate change conference in Copenhagen? The one that, despite Barack and Michelle Obama's best efforts, failed to produce a binding U.N. treaty to slow global warming?

Well, it's happening again, this year in Cancun, Mexico, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 10. A Vermont Law School professor and student are attending the COP16 conference and blogging about it.

VLS assistant professor Katherine Garvey and third-year law student Dan Miller will aim to provide a local perspective on the U.N. "conference of parties," or COP16. According to a VLS press release, Garvey is there to see what Vermont can learn from Latin American countries that, like us, have greenhouse gas emissions from land use, agriculture and forestry. Miller is focusing on financing adaptation and mitigation projects, with emphasis on the role of the U.N. Development Programme, the release states.

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May 19, 2010

VTDigger Hits Pay Dirt

Smallshovel The news website VTDigger has won a competitive two-year, $25,000 national grant from J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism.

What timing, too.

The site's founder — Anne Galloway — posted an item Tuesday asking readers to help raise more money so the site can cover the gubernatorial election.

Galloway told Seven Days that she was given notice last week that she, and eight other groups, had won the award, but she had to keep quiet until J-Lab made the official announcement. In all, 284 groups competed for the "New Voices" award.

That takes some effort: A journalist keeping quiet on a scoop!

"I'm still wondering if I should pinch myself," joked Galloway. The site will receive $17,000 this year and $8000 next year, she added.

Here's how J-Lab described Galloway's winning entry.

Continue reading "VTDigger Hits Pay Dirt" »

September 17, 2009

Senate Republicans Block Media Shield Law

Journalists hoping for federal protection from being held in contempt of court, fined or even jailed for refusing to divulge confidential sources will have to wait a bit longer.

Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee blocked any further changes to the bill, specifically a suite of proposed changes agreed to in principle last week that were designed to garner more support.

070709SotomayorPressConfBIG The Free Flow of Information Act (S. 448) would create a federal shield law that would grant protections to journalists who refuse to reveal confidential sources, even when compelled by a subpoena and the threat of penal action.

Currently, journalists and their sources are only protected by privilege statutes or administrative rules in certain states. There is no such protection at the federal level, according to the Society of Professional Journalists. Last week, 70 media companies and organizations — including the Vermont Press Association — urged the committee to support the bill.

Vermont is one of those states without a media shield law, said Michael Donoghue, executive director of the Vermont Press Association and reporter at the Burlington Free Press.

In general, Vermont judges use a two-pronged test established by a state supreme court ruling when asked to force reporters to testify. First, the information in question must not be obtainable anywhere else, and the information must speak to a person's guilt or innocence, said Donoghue.

"Unfortunately, there have been a couple of cases where the Vermont courts have rendered decisions that could provide a chilling effect on reporters in Vermont doing their duty," said Donoghue. "For 35 years, the system has been working fine, but that's not good enough."

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September 16, 2009

VT Blogger Named One of 50 Most Influential Commentators

Steve Benen, the Vermont-based "blogger in chief" for the Washington Monthly has been named one of the 50 most influential opinion makers by the Atlantic Wire.

Steve_benenBenen comes in at No. 44, just one slot up from CNN's grumpy angry white guy Lou Dobbs. At the top of list is New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Other big names on the list include the likes of Rush Limbaugh (2), Glenn Beck (7), Rachel Maddow (14) and Bill Moyers (32).

The Wire's "Atlantic 50" is a who's who of bloggers, journalists, TV hosts, columnists and former politicians who regularly grace the nation's leading talk shows, newspapers, websites and cable news channels.

Before coming to the Washington Monthly to pen Political Animal, Benen was the longtime author of The Carpetbagger Report. He closed down that blog in August 2008.

Of the major cable news shows, Benen is a regular guest on the popular MSNBC show "The Rachel Maddow Show".

To come up with this group, the Atlantic used a fairly extensive methodology. The editors identified roughly 400 possible candidates and then surveyed 250 Washington insiders to rank the individuals. From there, the editors hired an outside consultant to measure each commentator's "webiness." In other words, how do they rank on key social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Digg and Delicious.

Cathy Resmer, Seven Days' Online Editor and Associate Publisher, profiled Benen back in 2006, when he was a rising star in the political blogosphere.

Continue reading "VT Blogger Named One of 50 Most Influential Commentators" »

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