Sunday, June 17, 2007

Anonymous Internet Trolls Sued By Yale Women

I learned of this from TechCrunch , where Michael Arrington wrote "Although the case may well turn into an argument in relation to free speech online, it’s difficult to sympathize with the trolls. Free speech does need to be defended but it must be respected; with any power comes responsibility. Slandering people anonymously, particularly where that slander has direct consequences is a step too far."

I totally agree, yet there are people who pose as Anonymous Internet Trolls and lurk on sites like The Daily Kos , and seem to delight in trying to be insulting and hurful, and they do so behind a fake name and generally with no other website to track them down at.

I call them cowards who would not say what they write to anyone in public, and be considered pretty fucked up if they did.

As a Barack Obama supporter, I've got some weird comments; so many that after the last one, I elected to disallow comments from all but registered Blogger users.

According to Reuters,.. after facing lewd comments and threats by posters, two women at Yale Law School filed a suit on June 8 in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Connecticut, that includes subpoenas for 28 anonymous users of the site, which has generated more than 7 million posts since 2004.

According to court documents, a user on the site named "STANFORDtroll" began a thread in 2005 seeking to warn Yale students about one of the women in the suit, entitled "Stupid Bitch to Enter Yale Law." Another threatened to rape and sodomize her, the documents said.

The plaintiff, a respected Stanford University graduate identified only as "Doe I" in the lawsuit, learned of the Internet attack in the summer of 2005 before moving to Yale in Connecticut. The posts gradually became more menacing.

Some posts made false claims about her academic record and urged users to warn law firms, or accused her of bribing Yale officials to gain admission and of forming a lesbian relationship with a Yale administrator, the court papers said.

This news certainly should come as welcome to bloggers like Kathy Sierra, who was the target of death threats by Anonymous Internet Trolls, some of which took to wildly insulting and scary methods of hurting her with words and pictures, and for no reason -- no good reason that is.

I for one do no allow Anonymous Internet Trolls to write on this blog save for the occasional person who's trying to make money by adding a link to some program they sponsor. I'm fine with that. But in other cases, forget it. I want names. I want you to be known so we can have the authorities track you down.

Now, someone reading that last sentence might cringe, thinking about the many politically motivated blogs that need to protect their writers. Hey, I've got no problem with protecting righfully subversive political figures, but that's where a need for a community of people who really protect these figures is needed. Look, if a government wants to find even a "blogger in hiding" it can do it; a system -- a social system to keep these change-agents protected, even if it means getting them out of the country itself and to America, is needed.

My point is that we have so many Anonymous Internet Trolls running around they've spoiled the soup for the nice and respectful bloggers. Perhaps we have to remove the good with the bad as the community does not seem to want to police itself.

We've got to do it for them.

Bonnie Piesse Is "Aunt Beru" From Star Wars Episode II and Episode III

Actress Bonnie Piesse appeared at WonderCon in San Francisco and was kind enough to listen to my stupid question regarding her time playing "Aunt Beru" in Star Wars Episode II and Star Wars Episode III. In our conversation Bonnie explains that the baby she held was in fact not real, but was made to feel like a real baby.

She also offered that George Lucas, who directed and produced the movies, was relaxed and easy to work with. Finally, Bonnie talks about her music and her album which is set to debut in late 2007.

The Bill Clinton / Hillary Clinton / Ron Burkle Memos

The bottom line is that Bill Clinton's had this unchecked investment organization that has paid the Clinton's over $1,000 in payments. That same company invests Worldwide. Because the Clinton's are being paid, it does seem like influnce-peddling. Indeed, it's hard to argue against such a claim. But the bottom line is that poltiicians are still paying for access. This must end -- please.

Yucaipa is a holding company that invests across a wide range of industries—from groceries to logistics to
magazine distribution. Ronald Burkle, chairman of Yucaipa, has been a multi-million fundraiser and donor for
Bill and Hillary Clinton and in Bill Clinton’s post-presidency, Burkle has emerged as a close friend and rain-
maker for the Clintons – and the friendship has been prosperous for both.

“The mainstream business press beats up on [Burkle], essentially for buying access and
influence among politicians and leaders of the pension funds that invest with him
(FORBES included). ‘I basically became the poster child for the ills of political donations
and business. It’s preposterous!’ Burkle protests.” [Forbes, 12/11/06]


2006: Bill Clinton Has Guaranteed Payments “Over $1,000” From Yucaipa And Has Invested In Several
Yucaipa Funds. Hillary’s financial disclosure report indicates that Bill Clinton has “over $1,000” in guaranteed
payments from Yucaipa Global Holdings. Because the Clintons are not required to report the actual amount or
any range of income that is more specific than “over $1,000” we do not know how much Bill has been compen-
sated. Through WJC International Investments GP, Bill Clinton invests in Yucaipa Global Holdings and Yu-
caipa Global Partnership. The Yucaipa Global Partnership Fund “invests in securities of corporations that con-
duct significant operations in foreign countries.” Clinton reported interest income between $201-$1,000 from
Yucaipa Global Holdings and between $1,001-$2,500 from Yucaipa Global Partnership Fund. [2006 Sen. Clinton
Senate Financial Disclosure Report; 6, 8]

2005: Bill Clinton Has Guaranteed Payments “Over $1,000” From Yucaipa And Has Invested In Several
Yucaipa Funds. Hillary Clinton’s Senate annual financial-disclosure statement for 2005 show Bill Clinton re-
ceiving ‘guaranteed’ partnership payments from the Yucaipa Global Opportunities Fund I LLC of ‘over
$1,000.’ A spokesman for Bill Clinton said he owns a one-third share of that fund. The two other Yucaipa
funds involving the former president the Yucaipa American Fund and the Yucaipa Corporate Initiative Fund
aren’t listed on Hillary Clinton’s disclosure form. Bill Clinton’s spokesman said he would only receive remu-
neration from those two funds if they meet certain investment benchmarks. Since he hasn’t received any mon-
ies from them, no disclosure is required, the spokesman said.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/2/07]

∞ WSJ: Bill Clinton May Receive Millions From Yucaipa. “After leaving the White House, Bill Clinton
became a senior adviser to Yucaipa and involved in three of its investment funds. When Clinton joined
Yucaipa in 2002, the company said he would ‘provide counsel’ and ‘participate in events related to the
funds and provide advice in the development of potential investments.’ Neither Yucaipa nor Mr. Clinton
has released full details about the former president’s compensation. Some observers have estimated he
could make millions of dollars or more from his Yucaipa connection. [Wall Street Journal, 5/2/07]



Bill Clinton Assisted Billionaire Hillary Clinton Bundler Ron Burkle In A Controversial Effort To Take
Over The Car Hauling Business. Los Angeles billionaire Ron Burkle has stirred up controversy with his ef-
fort to take control of a big chunk of the nation’s car-hauling business, with some help from Bill Clinton. In
2006 two investment funds in Burkle’s Yucaipa Cos. bought big holdings of Allied Holdings Inc. debt, making
Yucaipa the largest unsecured creditor of the company, which sought bankruptcy-court protection in 2005. Ear-

lier this year, Yucaipa gained control of Performance Transportation Services, another big car hauler. Allied and
Performance together account for an estimated 50 percent of the new vehicles hauled by truck in the U.S. The
International Brotherhood of Teamsters agreed to back a 15 percent wage cut for those workers. By bringing
Burkle together with teamsters boss James Hoffa, Bill Clinton helped to pave the way for the two sides to work
together in the effort to reorganize Allied and bring it out of bankruptcy proceedings. [Wall Street Journal, 5/2/07]

∞ Lawsuit Says Yucaipa Interfered With Teamsters To Push Own Reorganization Plan. Now, a fed-
eral lawsuit filed in Atlanta by some union members, three Allied directors and several outside investors
alleges Yucaipa interfered in Allied’s talks with the Teamsters as a way to push through its own reor-
ganization plan. They also say that as an owner of a major Allied competitor, Yucaipa has a conflict of
interest and is looking to gain an improper amount of market power in the car-hauling business. In the
Allied matter, Burkle has credited President Clinton with persuading Hoffa to work with Yucaipa as a un-
ion-friendly employer a feat that Burkle said he couldn’t have pulled off on his own. Teamster and Yu-
caipa officials say that in 2003 Clinton suggested to Hoffa that he look to Yucaipa if any companies em-
ploying Teamsters got into financial trouble.” [Wall Street Journal, 5/2/07]

Mickey Kaus: Clinton-Burkle-Hoffa Deal Has Implications If Hillary Is President. Kaus wrote, “Yucaipa
arranged for Clinton to make a speech at a Teamsters conference in 2003, and later Clinton urged Teamsters
President James Hoffa Jr. to trust Burkle and present him with possible deals. Result: This spring Yucaipa paid
$100 million to buy a controlling stake in Allied Holdings, a trucking outfit in bankruptcy proceedings. ‘Clinton
got it to the point where Hoffa actually helped us with that deal, something I couldn’t have gotten on my own,’
Burkle says. So Hoffa helps Clinton with a deal that makes Clinton and Burkle money. And if Hoffa needs
something in a few years from President Hillary Clinton’s White House ...” [Mickey Kaus, Slate, 12/28/06]


Recent Yucaipa Investments Have Included Alliance Entertainment Corp. And Source Interlink. Accord-
ing to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “Alliance Entertainment Corp., Florida, is a music and magazine distributor.
Yucaipa paid an estimated $130 million for the company in 1999, and traded the firm for stock worth more than
$300 million in 2005 to Source Interlink Cos., leaving Yucaipa as Source Interlink’s largest shareholder.” [Phila-
delphia Inquirer, 3/26/06]


Matrix Software, Part Of Alliance Entertainment, Is The Leading Astrological Software Provider. “Ma-
trix Software is the leading developer and publisher of specialty astrological software for use on personal PC’s.
Founded in 1977 Matrix is one of the oldest continuously operating PC software companies in existence today.
Matrix Software became a part of Alliance Entertainment in 1995 when it was purchased with its sister com-
pany All Media Guide (AMG). Today Matrix catalog of more than sixty programs are used by astrologers, and
the astrologically curious in over 119 countries. The Matrix Oracle online is one of the most visited astrology
sites on the web.” [Alliance Entertainment website, accessed 5/23/07]


Source Interlink Renewed Full Distribution And Marketing Agreements With Playboy. A Source Interlink
press release included, under the heading “Recent Business Highlights”: “The Company renewed full distribu-
tion and marketing services agreements with Playboy Enterprises International, Inc. and Scientific American,
Inc. for the international marketplace. [PR Newswier, 4/17/06]

Source Interlink Secured Exclusive Distribution Of All Magazines To And Borders Stores... In a May
2007 Source Interlink press release, Michael Duckworth, chairman of Source Interlink, commented “We are
very pleased to have been selected by Borders Group as its exclusive supplier of magazines and we consider
this to be an outstanding opportunity to help expand the category. We look forward to working with the com-
pany and our publisher partners to enhance the customer experience at newsstands.” [Source interlink press release,
11/04/05, accessed 5/23/07; Source interlink press release, 5/7/07, accessed 5/23/07]

...And Penthouse Sales Grew At Borders. Mediaweek wrote, “Penthouse has stopped taking ads with strong
sexual content, resulting in a 4.1 percent drop in ad pages year to date, according to the Mediaweek Magazine
Monitor. But circulation has increased. The title is back at many more Borders and Barnes & Noble outlets, and
paid and verified circ was up 2.9 percent, to 366,024, in the six months ended June 30, according to the Audit
Bureau of Circulations.” [Mediaweek, 10/9/06]


2006: Calpers: We Chose To Invest In Yucaipa Funds Because Of Their Track Record, Commitment To
Disadvantaged Communities. The New York Times wrote, “The California Public Employees Retirement
System, often called Calpers, is a major investor in the two domestic funds of Yucaipa, committing $400 mil-
lion since 2002 with an option to invest another $275 million, according to public records. Calpers officials said
they chose to invest with Yucaipa because it has a stellar track record and it invests in communities that have
trouble attracting other investment capital.” [New York Times, 4/23/06]

2002: Experts: Bill Clinton Is Worth $5 Million A Year To Raise Investment Funds From Unions. The
New York Post wrote, “Bill Clinton has landed a real job. And if the ex-president rakes in enough cash for the
coffers of Yucaipa Cos., a group of investment funds based in Los Angeles, his pay could top $5 million a year,
experts estimated. ‘He can get that [$5 million] and more,’ said one. ‘He’s worth it.’ The fund managers want
Clinton to help raise $1.5 billion, mainly from the nation’s $400 billion in union pension funds.” [New York Post,

∞ Success Raising Funds From Unions Motivated Creation Of The Second Domestic Fund. The New
York Times wrote, “The two funds started by Yucaipa first got their start last year when the California
Public Employees’ Retirement System, one of the nation’s largest and most influential pension plans, ap-
proved a $475 million initiative to invest in blighted urban and rural communities throughout the state.
The retirement system then picked 11 investment firms as partners with the hope it would spur develop-
ment in areas ignored by venture capitalists. Yucaipa was allotted $200 million by the retirement system
and set up a fund. But Mr. Burkle liked the idea enough to start another fund, the American Fund, which
has raised $560 million from state and union pensions.” [New York Times, 4/11/02]

2004: Data Showed Zero Return From Yucaipa Funds. The New York Times wrote, “Mr. Scheer also said
that the information would help settle longstanding questions about whether some investment partnerships were
favored because they had cultivated relationships with politicians and celebrities. A family of private invest-
ment partnerships created by the Yucaipa Companies, for instance, sometimes sponsors appearances by former
President Bill Clinton at conferences for pension trustees. The new data show that Calpers paid fees around $8.6
million to three Yucaipa investment partnerships in 2003. The return from those partnerships was zero.” [New
York Times, 12/8/04]

Burkle Won No-Auction Deals From CALPERS, Leaned On Ties To Influential Politicians. Forbes wrote,
“In 2000 Burkle decided to launch a few private equity funds aimed at big no-auction deals (he has been the
sole bidder in 75% of his transactions), and he brandished a well-honed talent for mixing business and politics.
California’s then $165 billion state pension plan, Calpers, committed $760 million to Burkle’s funds. More
scorn for Burkle: In the mid-1990s he had contributed money to the campaigns of Governor Gray Davis, San
Francisco’s former mayor Willie Brown (his former lawyer) and State Treasurer Philip Angelides, and later
Brown and Angelides joined the Calpers board. ‘How were we supposed to know in the mid-1990s that Willie
Brown was going to be on the board of Calpers?’ he says. You would never have guessed unless maybe you
knew that Willie Brown was about as well-connected as any politician in California’s history.” [Forbes, 12/11/06]

∞ CALPERS Board Drew Criticism For Awarding Investment Deal To Yucaipa Despite Ties To The
Company and Burkle. “Bob Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, a consumer
watchdog group in Los Angeles, said he is concerned that CalPERS board members are ‘in the position
of voting to invest with people who have made campaign contributions. I think there’s a problem with
that.’ [...] Nine of the board’s 13 members are elected officials. Six are elected to the board directly by
current and former state employees, and three more seats are held by San Francisco Mayor Brown, State
Treasurer Phil Angelides and State Controller Kathleen Connell. [AP, 7/18/02]

∞ Key CalPERS Decision Makers Received Campaign Contributions. “State records show that Brown,
Angelides and Connell all received campaign contributions from supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, his
wife or his companies. All three later voted to invest hundreds of millions with Burkle’s Yucaipa
Co...Paul Sanford at the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, D.C., a nonpartisan group that
tracks money in politics, said those who had received money from Burkle should have recused them-
selves. ‘That doesn’t even seem like a close call,’ he said.” [AP, 7/18/02]


Burkle Firm, AmeriCold Logistics, Won FEMA Contract With James Lee Witt’s Help. USA Today wrote,
“A firm headed by former Federal Emergency Management Agency director James Lee Witt helped a Georgia
company win federal contracts worth up to $85 million in work related to Hurricane Katrina and other major
2005 storms, interviews and government records show. James Lee Witt Associates received $40,000 in lobby-
ing fees this year for representing Atlanta-based AmeriCold Logistics, one of the nation’s largest cold-storage
companies, federal records show. As part of the lobbying effort, Witt’s firm arranged a meeting between FEMA
officials and AmeriCold last spring, before the start of the hurricane season, Witt spokesman Barry Scanlon
said.” According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, “AmeriCold Logistics, Atlanta, is the nation’s largest cold-
storage company. Yucaipa paid $145 million for 21 percent of AmeriCold in 2004.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/26/06;
USA TODAY, 10/13/05]