Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kyle Boller to wed Carrie Prejean: Oakland Raiders QB nails beauty queen

Former Cal Football and now Oakland Raiders Quarterback Kyle Boller is set to marry former Miss California and Miss USA Carrie Prejean.

Frankly, having met Kyle Boller, Carrie Prejean could not have picked a nicer guy. But to think that one year ago Carrie was under fire for speaking out against Gay Marriage, then getting the boot from Donald Trump, after that the CNN Larry King meltdown, and of course the infamous sex tape issue, all this blogger can say is "Wow. That was fast!" Did the Oakland Raiders Al Davis and Amy Trask encourage this in some unusual indirect promotion for Raiders Season Tickets?

Kyle Boller and Carrie Prejean have been an item since the summer of 2009. The wedding's set to take place this Friday. Let's hope Kyle's marriage to Carrie improves his play in football. He's got a new start with the Raiders and is back in the Bay Area, next to Cal.

Stay tuned..and GO BEARS!

Anna Chapman: real Russian spy out before Angelina Jolie 's Salt movie

In what must be a wild coincidence, Anna Chapman - who looks a little like Angelina Jolie - is accused of being a real Russian spy just weeks before Angelina Jolie's Salt movie is released on July 23rd. And that news of two hot women (OK, Anna Chapman's way too skinny to be considered hot but why not play along?) has pushed the news about Megan Fox getting married off the trend charts for today. Sorry Megan, this blogger will get back to you.

Before we go further, we have to see the great Salt movie trailer.

Who is Anna Chapman?

Anna Chapman

According to the New York Daily News, Anna Chapman ran a New York online real estate company worth $2 million and is one of 11 accused Russian secret agents arrested by the FBI and who allegedly operated in Boston, Seattle and Arlington, Va.

Apparently, she was caught in the middle of a mission, but what the NY Daily News posts reads as no bid deal. There must be more than this:

FBI agents found the Verizon phone contract and Motorola charger along with packaging for calling cards that can be used for international calls in a trash can after Chapman was arrested, according to the complaint.

Angelina Jolie

The court document also details Chapman's interactions with an undercover FBI agent who fed her instructions for preparing a fake passport to transfer to another female spy.

She was instructed to hold a magazine a certain way to signal the other spy to initiate contact.

Chapman is quoted in the complaint repeating back the following instructions: "Okay, tomorrow at 11, I am going to be sitting at one of the benches, she is going to ask me if she saw me in California. I am going to say no, it was in the Hamptons. I will take the documents, tell her to sign. I will hold the journal, this is how she will recognize me."

She was arrested before the mission was carried out. Chapman appeared in Manhattan federal court on June 28, 2010 with four other alleged spies.

Fine, but what was she doing in the mission? Why?

It's about as interesting as Angelina Jolie's Salt movie, but in that case Angelina Jolie's a CIA agent accused of being a Russian spy and goes on the run; we don't get to see Anna Chapman on the run. We do get to see her Facebook page.

The main question is what was this 11-person so-called Russian spy ring doing. That's not answered. In the Salt movie, we know Angelina Jolie is suspected to be planning to get the American President. But in real life, what was Anna Chapman doing?

More soon.

John Kerry calls Rand Paul and Republicans "dangerously radical"

U.S. Senator John Kerry (D - Massachusetts) is sharpening his knifes for the 2010 election season. Kerry just sent this blogger an email that is a perfect indication of how Democrats are going to paint Republicans as we head into the fall election season: as "dangerously radical."

But given that Kerry mentions Kentucky GOP Senate Candidate Rand Paul, he should call Rand "a wacky guy" because he is. And besides, being dangerously radical is too nice. No. John Kerry should call the Republican Party "dangerously wacky."

Well, here's John Kerry's email:

Hello Zenophon,

Republicans are betting that you don't care - that after all you did to beat them in 2006 and 2008, you're going to sit this one out.

So they're whipping up their base by blocking help to unemployed workers, blocking summer jobs for teens, apologizing to the big companies that gave us the spill in the Gulf, and doing anything else they can do to stop progress. They're betting that they can excite their radical base and you won't respond.

The stakes? Look no further than the truly radical candidates we're up against. Down in Kentucky, it's would-be Senator Rand Paul. Yes, that Rand Paul, who says freedom means a private business can discriminate against African-Americans, and that President Obama holding polluters accountable for the mess in the Gulf is "un-American."

And he's not alone. All across the country, the Republican Party has turned dangerously radical. One candidate calls Social Security "horrible policy," while another has said that Americans will turn to "Second Amendment remedies" against Democrats.

We have to stop them. Please contribute today to Jack Conway, Admiral Joe Sestak, and some other great Democrats. Tell the GOP that you do care and that we will stop them.

The Republican Party believes they have the upper hand; they've made no secret of the fact that they plan to repeal healthcare reform if they win back control of Congress. But we have great candidates, and if we all work at it, we will beat them.

In Pennsylvania, Admiral Joe Sestak is running to keep Pennsylvania blue. In Illinois, Alexi Giannoulias is running hard to keep Barack Obama's seat Democratic. But we're not just playing defense. In New Hampshire, Paul Hodes is running neck-and-neck with his Republican opponent to take this seat for the Democrats.

Each of these candidates will make the Senate work better for average Americans. We need to do more than just play defense. Years of GOP mismanagement dug a deep hole. We've just started to turn our country around, passing healthcare reform, working to hold the big banks accountable for the Wall Street meltdown, pushing legislation to address climate change and end our addiction to oil. The GOP is betting big that saying "no" and blocking progress is a path to success in November.

What bet will you make?

We've still got a lot of work to do.

Thank you for all your help,

John Kerry

Again, John Kerry should just call some names and throw some dirt the GOP's way. That will liven things up a bit. Rand Paul's a wacky guy, not dangerously radical.

Oakland Mayor's Race: Rebecca Kaplan to make "special announcement"

City of Oakland At-Large Councilmember and would-be Oakland Mayor's Race participant has announced she's going to make a "special announcement" and reports that it "Will be an eventful speech solidifying her position in the Mayoral race." It will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m at the Joyce Gordon Gallery 406 14th St.

In other words, after meetings, events, talks, and the parking issue, Councilmember Kaplan's going to officially run for Mayor of Oakland. And why not?

The Oakland Mayor's Race is wide open race and anything can happen between now and November, when the election for the next Mayor of Oakland is held. What I hear from Oaklander after Oaklander is that not one of the candidates is exciting to them.

That may be because they haven't seen all of them.

The Joyce Gordon Gallery is located on 14th Street between Broadway and Franklin Streets in downtown Oakland.

New York Times v. Google, Twitter in TheFlyonTheWall.com "hot news" case

Google and Twitter taking on the NYTimes
While Arthur O. Sulzberger, Chairman and Publisher of The New York Times, holds that Google is the NYTimes "friend" and they have a good working relationship - even to the point of hounding SFGate.com regarding this blogger's claims to the contrary - a recent Amici or "friend of the court" brief filed by the New York Times and other large news organizations openly attacks the work of online news aggregators like Google News.

If the New York Times likes Google so much, why would it attach itself to the friend of the court brief?

The backstory is the Barclay's Capital v. TheFlyOnTheWall.com case. In that case, New Jersey-based TheFlyOnTheWall.com was accused of taking information on bank upgrades and downgrades of stocks that was originally produced by Barclays and the other banks involved in the copyright infringement lawsuit lawsuit.

Barclays holds that TheFlyOnTheWall.com website “systematically and impermissibly accesses” its proprietary equity research and does none of its own. Barclays and the banks enjoined in the lawsuit, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley & Co. Inc., contend their information is "hot news" and "that the regular, systematic, and timely taking and redistribution of their recommendations constitutes misappropriation, which is a violation of the New York common law of unfair competition," as the case reads.

Case was bounced around before

The Barclay's Capital v. TheFlyOnTheWall.com case originally started in June 26, 2006 and then reassigned to the court of U.S. District Judge Denise Cote on June 8, 2009, according to the case document presented in the link above. It never became a jury trial because Barclays and it's banking partners elected to waive a damages claim, and perhaps they reasoned a jury trial could go against them. Summary judgment motions that would have ended the case by tossing it out of court were denied on November 6, 2009; the case was set for a March 8th 2010 bench trial.

Copywrite claims and "Hot-News"

As part of the process of the original 2006 lawsuit against TheFlyOnTheWall.com (or "Fly") that company signed a confidentiality agreement and claimed the information on Barclay's and Merill's recommendations were coming from analyst and broker sources inside those banks's research departments which created the information. Barclay's claimed to end that pipeline of information and settlement talks started over statutory damages, which are much less that any a trial jury would be asked to evaluate. Fly agrees that it committed copyright infringement but that it is not liable for what is called a "Hot-News" misappropriation.

The basis for the "Hot-News" concept is a 1918 case called International News Service v. Associated Press. In that case, the AP reported World War 1 stories from Europe at its own expense and that the International News Service got from the AP by "copying AP’s stories from bulletin boards and early editions of newspapers printed by AP’s eastern affiliates" according to the Barclay's case text.

The International News Service then sent those stories to The West Coast where it sold the news stories paraphrased as its own story. The Associated Press got a permanent injunction blocking the International News Service from the Court of Appeals, after losing the original case decision.

The Supreme Court supported the Court of Appeals ruling under the view that the AP spent money and worked to make the story that the INS then used as the basis for its own news sales. In other words, INS made money off the AP's initial work, even though it was not a direct copy, and did no original work of its own.

You can see where this can apply to the modern Internet news debate. It's the reason The New York Times and Gannett (which owns USA Today) jumped in and filed "friend of the court" briefs. If they can successfully reintroduce the hot-news legal argument it will allow them to sue Internet companies with glee.

But standing in the way of such a modern application is Justice Brandeis minority Supreme Court view of that time: “the general rule of law is, that the noblest of human productions -- knowledge, truths ascertained, conceptions, and ideas -- become, after voluntary communication to others, free as the air to common use.”

While the INS hot-news legal view was challenge by the Second Circuit court's Judge Learned Hand as not intended to establish a general doctrine, it still became part of state common law in several states, including New York. The most famous recent "hot-news" case was National Basketball Association v. Motorola, Inc. in 1997.

In National Basketball Association v. Motorola, Inc., the hand-held pager displayed NBA game action news as the games were in progress. The information that was sold by Motorola via its SportsTrax device and for profit triggered the hot-news argument. The NBA won.

The NBA "Hot-News" view is pre-Twitter

The major problem with the Hot-News view is that it comes from a time before Twitter and smart phones. Now, a person can sent a tweet about an NBA game in progress that is then picked up by Twitter and can be used as a news feed on a blog that gains revenue from ads placed on it. The fan-generated information was not produced by the NBA itself. No sports stats sheet needs to be obtained.

But arguably the person who created the "Hot-News" is the fan, and not the NBA. The NBA can't control what its fans see its players do on the court and report to others. Adding a "no-tweet" ticket disclaimer would be impossible to legally justify if challenged. That's like asking a person not to talk about a game it saw. There's a numbers issue: the NBA game itself is so large and reaches so many people that it becomes a public event, thus the information from it is public.

Now you can see why Twitter jumped into this issue with Google. Indeed, the problem in the Barclay's case is that the "size of the impact of information" was not considered. In other words, in the view of this space, information that can be agreed to impact a large number of people should be considered public and thus more easy to distribute, even if it's for profit. The profit-takers will eventually have such a large market they will reduce the price for the information. In fact, one can claim that's what the Internet is causing to happen.

U.S. District Judge Denise Cote's March 2010 Decision

In March 2010, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote established a creative injunction in the Barclay's v. TheFlyOnTheWall.com case that blocks TheFlyOnTheWall.com and other similar firms from releasing information from a research report not before four hours after the release of that report. TheFlyOnTheWall.com asked the appeals court to delay Judge Denise Cote's order while it files an appeal. This is where Google and Twitter are battling The New York Times, The Washington Post, Gannett, McClatchy, Belo, Scripps, Time, and the Newspaper Association of America, all of which filed a "friend of the court" brief that counters Google and Twitter.

The central problem with the Amici brief filed by The New York Times, et al, it is a direct attack on Google News. Page 25 of the brief reads:

One of the greatest concerns among news originators is inexpensive technology that allows easy aggregation of news. Aggregation can take many forms, including the indexing of fresh news content from one or more websites, by engines of various kinds. News stories are traditionally written to compress the key facts of a story into the opening paragraph. The output of indexing engines can reproduce the headlines, opening paragraph or sentences from originator news stories, and thereby convey the essence of the original news item. Even where an aggregator website or news application contains a hyperlink to the news item on the originator’s website, the risk remains that readers will find that reading the aggregator’s output keeps them sufficiently informed of the latest news. As a result, they may never click through to the originator’s website. If a significant number of readers find the news reproduced by the aggregator to be an acceptable substitute for reading the original story, courts should conclude that the two products compete in the INS/Motorola sense even though the two parties are not in identical businesses.

That is a direct attack on Google News and on the same process that Arthur O. Sulzberger himself has said gives a significant amount of traffic to The New York Times. I will go a step beyond that and say that Google does The New York Times a favor by in effect presenting it in Google News, and perhaps on more occasions that it had a right to have. Even if there is no click through to the website, the NY Times still has the benefit of being seen as the news producer.

Here's the full Amici brief from the news organizations:


According to Bloomberg, Google and Twitter's counter is that...

"In our brief, we're not taking sides or focusing on the details of this particular dispute between the parties," Chris Gaither, a spokesman for Mountain View, California-based Google, said today in an e-mailed statement. "But we believe that the case raises important issues of law that could affect the free flow of important factual information online."

It's clear we're at ground zero of what will be an important legal battle that impacts the future of news online. In this, we can now see true colors of the The New York Times : it has an issue with Google, otherwise it would not have joined the Amici brief in the Barclay's case that attacks news aggregators.  Perhaps the NYTimes thought it was making a sneak attack; not any more.

Stay tuned.

A swinging sack of moral authority

I suppose many have seen this already, even if you're not regular Colbert Report viewers, but as a long-time fan of SNL's Father Guido Sarducci I wanted to share it here, too.

Prophet Glenn Beck - Father Guido Sarducci

Incidentally, Fox News took little notice of the significance of August 28th as an anniversary date in 2008, when Democrats nominated Senator Barack H. Obama to run for President of the United States.

Thomas Hayes
is an entrepreneur, journalist, political staffer, and photographer who contributes regularly to a host of web sites on topics ranging from economics and politics to culture and community.