Waiting Game

Waiting Game

Waiting Game

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
May 19 2005 7:47 PM

Waiting Game

Bloggers are discussing the Ethiopian elections and an ongoing spat between Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds; they're also swooning at the BBC's decision to offer up all its content for users to remix at will.

Waiting game: Ethiopia held national elections on Sunday; the final results won't be determined until June 8, but both the opposition and the ruling party are claiming victory. Monitors such as Jimmy Carter have praised the elections, but the European Union suspects irregularities, and the prime minister has banned demonstrations.

Some can't wait for final results. On Meskel Square, journalist Andrew Heavens remarks, "[P]eople have started taking down the election results posters from the doors of polling stations, photocopying them and selling them off for 50 cents a copy. Now that is real grassroots journalism." Tobian ThinkTank, a blog about Africa and America, has a lukewarm endorsement of the ban on demonstrations: "It seens drastic, but I'm not sure I'm against it. Ethiopians forget that the very symptoms they fear in others are the symptoms others fear in them." And The Head Heeb's Jonathan Edelstein, a NYC lawyer, is disappointed that the election won't be a "catalyst for revolution," as he had hoped, though he does take comfort in the estimates that opposition parties might have combined to take more than 100 seats in Ethiopa's parliament, compared to the 20 they had before

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Read more about the elections in Ethiopia; read Ethiopundit for the back story on democracy in Ethiopia.

Blogfight!: Uber-bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds (of InstaPundit) are dueling over whether Abu Ghraib was more damaging to U.S. interests than the retracted Newsweek story that claimed that Guantanamo Bay interrogators had flushed a Quran down the toilet in order to intimidate detainees, sparking riots across Afghanistan. (Read Slate's Jack Shafer and Jacob Weisberg on Newsweek; read Monday's Today's Blogs.)

Sullivan has objected  to Reynolds' characterization of the Newsweek incident as "the press's Abu Ghraib" and written, "Instapundit's coverage suggests that he believes that the erroneously-sourced Newsweek story is actually more offensive and important than what happened at Abu Ghraib." Today he  asserts, "It seems to me that Glenn's position is the president's: he's against torture, except when it happens. Then he refuses to stop or condemn it. And in unguarded moments, he's a real enthusiast. Or maybe I have this wrong and, like Volokh, Instapundit has changed his mind somewhat."

Reynolds wrote on Tuesday, "When Andrew was a champion of the war on terror, writing about martial spirit and fifth columns composed of the 'decadent left,' did he believe that nothing like Abu Ghraib would happen, when such things (and much worse) happen in prisons across America (and everywhere else) on a daily basis? If so, he was writing out of an appalling ignorance. ..." Yesterday he added, "I'm not interested in an inter-blog pissing match; I tend to take a blog-and-let-blog approach to these sorts of things. But I think that Andrew's take on these issues hasn't accomplished what he hopes to accomplish, and I don't think that it will do so in the future if his approach remains the same."

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Daily Pundit's libertarian Bill Quick excoriates Sullivan: "Anybody who places such an overwhelmingly high level of importance on a few isolated instances of abuse in a war we have fought more cleanly than any nation in history has not just lost his moral footing, he's lost his ability to make rational distinctions. The Muslim reaction to the Newsweek debacle has already resulted in at least 17 deaths. How many were butchered at abu Ghraib?" non-fat latte liberal is critical of both bloggers, but applauds Sullivan for quoting this "disturbing sentiment" from conservative LaShawn Barber: "Newsweek should not have reported it, even if true." But Talking Points Memo's liberal Josh Marshall sides with Sullivan: "[I]n terms of severity it is actually not that easy to distinguish between this alleged conduct and lots of stuff we know for a fact did happen at Abu Ghraib, Gitmo and other places."

Read more about the debate between InstaPundit and Andrew Sullivan.

Best Broadcasting Company: In thisWired op-ed, Boing-Boing's Cory Doctorow lauds the BBC for launching BBC Backstage, which offers up BBC programs for anyone to remix (people can devise their own podcasts, or make one file that combines the BBC's RSS feed with other sources) and the Creative Archive, which promises to bypass copyright restrictions to digitize and make available online all of the BBC's contents as "fuel for a creative nation."

Most bloggers are delighted, but Americans want their own media to catch up. On the Institute for the Future of the Book's blog, Ben Vershbow posts a chunk from a silent film version of Hamlet and exults, "It feels good to make a video quotation with total impunity. Perhaps others will be inspired to take a page from BBC's book." Portension's Jay Oatway, a man dedicated to "future, frivolity, and folly" contrasts the BBC's iconoclasm with the MPAA's stick-in-the-mud lawsuits against people who pirate TV shows: "The steps taken by the BBC will lead towards this future. The steps taken by the MPAA will only delay the inevitable, and ... destroy the lives of a few downloaders and their families with massive lawsuits." Apanthropinization's Brian Boyko, a Texas journalism student, points out, "PBS's programs are not available the way the BBC's are to be folded, spindled and mutilated by the taxpayers who paid for them. PBS is an afterthought - a joke. It's still better than anything else on."

Read more about the BBC's plans.

Discatmer: No kittens were actually mauled in the making of this TB.

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