Bloggers on the Free Tibet protests in San Francisco.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
April 10 2008 6:03 PM

Torched

Bloggers ponder the protests accompanying the Olympic Torch relay in San Francisco on Wednesday. They also examine Yahoo's experiment in ad-sharing with Google, and Elton John's pronouncement that America is "misogynist" for not supporting Hillary Clinton.

Torched!: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom is drawing fire for authorizing an evasive, truncated route for the Olympic torch relay that managed to bypass most of the 10,000 viewers and protesters. Newsom cited public-safety concerns and the violent protests surrounding the relay in London and Paris.

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Daily Kos diarist "Bagof Health and Politics" excoriates Newsom: "Have we placed the First Amendment down as collateral on the loans the Chinese government continually gives this country? Today, the Mayor of San Francisco failed to uphold his office, freedom, and the spirit of democracy." France Insider's Paul Ben-Itzak, a San Fransiscan living in Paris, unfavorably compares Newsom with Paris' mayor, who supported the protests in Paris: "In San Francisco, by contrast, reports today's San Francisco Chronicle, Mayor Newsom outdid the Chinese by pulling a slight of hand on the thousands of his constituents and fellow citizens all set to exercise their rights of free speech."

"Looks like total confusion in San Francisco. Excellent! I think it's wonderful that the Tibetans are getting a little air time," suggests John Derbyshire at the National Review Online's Corner. He goes on to credit India and Switzerland for taking in Tibetan refugees, and to criticize former U.S. administrations for dropping the ball on Tibet.

But Chris, commenting on the SF Bay Guardian's Politics blog, reasons: "Individuals have a guaranteed right of freedom of speech; they do not have a guaranteed right to view the Olympic torch. Everyone, pro-China and anti-China had a chance to have their voices heard--the amount of global media attention has been enormous and having the torch run curtailed did not make China look good in the least in the eyes of the world; rather, it made it look like the torch got run out of town."

Although Newsom thwarted them successfully, did the protesters accomplish anything? Shreiner's Media Landscape, a native of Utah, celebrates the presence of Utah's Tibetan community at the rallies and writes, "[T]he demonstrations in San Francisco made me feel proud to be an American: the first time I've been able to say that since 9/11."

"For the first time, Beijing has actually admitted that the Tibetan protests are widespread and conducted on a large scale," observes Nima Taylor Binara of the Tibet Justice Center in Berkeley on Tibet Talk. Thanks to the recent spate of protests around the world, "Tibetans are no longer portrayed as colorful if slightly backward 'minorities.' Tibetans are now ungrateful colonial subjects in open rebellion. This is significant, because recognition of the difference between Tibetans and Chinese is the first step to recognition that Tibet is not China."

Read more about the protests. Wired's blog links to video feeds from the streets.

Yahoogle: Yahoo has announced that it will experiment with running Google ads on some search queries. The move is widely seen as a challenge to Microsoft's hostile takeover bid.

Bloggers are torn about what it will all mean. "[Yahoo's] actions, which appear to be based on destroying their market value as a counter to the Microsoft bid, benefit neither their stockholders nor their employees," notesTech Crunch's Michael Arrington. "And by setting up Google as the only real option in search marketing, they are disrupting what little market balance and competition exists in that space today. … If Yahoo 'wins' this epic battle with Microsoft, will there be anything left at the end to celebrate over?"

Mashable.com's Stan Schroeder contends, "The big four are making a mess, and wasting time here, nothing more - although I'm sure it seems like a lot more to them. By the time Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft figure out who owns what, chances are that many of their online properties will be worthless."

ZDNet's Larry Dignan disagrees: "This Microhoo soap opera has been a hoot, but the clock is ticking. Shockingly, Yahoo may actually get Microsoft to up its price. Stay tuned."  Silicon Alley Insider (and Slate contributor) Henry Blodget gives credence to a JPMorgan analyst who believes that "[a] full search-outsourcing deal between Yahoo (YHOO) and Google (GOOG) would increase Yahoo's value by more than $5 a share."

GigaOm's Om Malik * concludes, "Either way, in this deal, heads or tails, Google comes away a winner. If Yahoo goes to Microsoft, the ensuing chaos is going to benefit Google. If Yahoo gives away its search ad business, Google is a winner."

Read more about Yahoogle.

Still standing: Elton John raised $2.5 million for Hillary Clinton at a Radio City Music Hall concert Wednesday. Bloggers are abuzz about John's suggestion that misogyny is the reason behind Clinton's floundering campaign.

"Thank you, Elton John! It's almost like you have to be from outside the country to name the problem," claimsTennessee Guerilla Women's Egalia. "Sexism does NOT hurt Hillary Clinton. Being Hillary Clinton hurts her," comments Liz on the Swamp, the blog of theTribune Co.'s D.C. bureau.

Elton's critics abound on both sides of the aisle. Ann Althouse writes: "Geezer John is a whole lot less fun than the youngish John in the 'I'm Still Standing' video, which is exactly the sort of thing feminists of the time would deplore. And now he's grown up into one of those people who deplore things." And at Stop Her Now, a blog devoted to all things anti-Hillary, Kevin points out: "I am not the first person to point out the irony involved in claiming that voting for Hillary is somehow a blow for independent women when Hillary's entire career is based on her husband's success and pity for the way he treated her.  Take away her marriage to Bill - and the attendant eight years in the White House - and Hillary is just another mediocre senator."

Read more about Elton John and Hillary.

Correction, April 16, 2008: The article originally misspelled the name of blogger Om Malik. (Return to the corrected sentence.)

Bidisha Banerjee is the San Francisco-based co-author of a forthcoming Yale Climate and Energy Institute/Centre for International Governance Innovation report on scenario planning for solar radiation management. She is collaborating on a geoengineering game and has written about geoengineering governance for Slate and the Stanford Journal of Law, Science, and Policy.