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'Every citizen can be a reporter': Matt Drudge was right

Say the words "Matt Drudge" to any political junkie and you will get one of two responses.

Matt Drudge
© Unknown
Matt Drudge
The first will be strong disdain for Drudge's eponymously-named news site and its tilt toward outrageous headlines and conservative viewpoints.

The second will be sheer awe for Drudge's continued ability to pull in massive amounts of web traffic using a site that any teenager with an affinity for the Internet could make in under 15 minutes.

No one - and we mean no one - lacks an opinion when it comes to Drudge and the Drudge Report. The combination of the controversy surrounding Drudge and his legendary reclusiveness makes it difficult to have a conversation about his influence on the culture of web journalism that doesn't devolve into a shouting match within seconds.

But, Drudge did - and does - have an impact. So, it's worth going back 15 years this week to a speech Drudge gave at the National Press Club in which he outlined his vision of the future of journalism.

Turns out, Drudge was right about where journalism was heading.

"We have entered an era vibrating with the din of small voices," he said in the speech. "Every citizen can be a reporter." Later, he added: "The Net gives as much voice to a 13 year old computer geek like me as to a CEO or Speaker of the House. We all become equal. And you would be amazed what the ordinary guy knows."

A look back at the last two presidential elections proves Drudge's point. The biggest story of the 2008 campaign was Barack Obama's comments about rural voters' tendency to "cling to guns or religion", which was broken by Mayhill Fowler, a Democratic donor and a part of Huffington Post's citizen journalism program. The biggest story of the 2012 campaign was Mitt Romney's comments about the "47 percent", remarks that were recorded by a bartender at the event for high-dollar donors.

Newspaper

GetEqual defends heckling the First Lady: 'We are treating her as a Democrat leader'

Michele Obama
© AFP
The co-director of Get Equal, the LGBT group affiliated with the 56-year-old woman who interrupted a speech by First Lady Michelle Obama on Tuesday told The Raw Story that while the group did not mean to be disrespectful toward her, the protest stood in line with its goal of holding politicians accountable for protecting their community's rights.

"She was the one who went to New York City, stood on a stage and said, 'Max out, max out, max out,'" Felipe Sousa-Rodríguez said on Wednesday, referring to a previous fundraising appearance by the First Lady on May 29, 2013. "Since she's the one going to Democratic party fundraisers, we are treating her as a Democrat leader."

According to MSNBC, Obama said during her previous speech, "We need you to keep on writing those checks!' And if you haven't maxed out, you know, what's my motto? Max out! Let's say it again, max out! And if you've maxed out, get your friends to max out."

Attention

Refresher course in what constitutes free speech

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Stop your whining. This is not actually happening to you.

I'm sure regular readers of this blog have been following the whole debacle over Lindy West getting a bunch of rape threats and other nasty responses because she took the position that it's uncool for comedians to write jokes indicating that they are supportive of the criminal choices of any potential rapists in the audience. (For that is what rapists hear when you make pro-rape jokes or jokes minimizing the realities of rape. Obviously, jokes that hinge on the assumption that rape is a terrible crime make rapists uncomfortable, and I support those jokes whole-heartedly.) But what I don't really get and will never completely understand is why so many people get so bent out of shape because a rape-supportive joke was criticized. Isn't the point of said jokes to provoke? Well, you got criticized, so there you go: Proof that you were provocative. Granted, you were provocative in the cheapest, most banal, laziest way possible - artful provocateurs expose social hypocrisies and injustices, they don't support them - but your basic goal of pissing people off has been achieved. Good for you! Why are you whining?

And don't say "free speech". I am sick to the teeth of people misusing that phrase. Here is another example, of a couple of piggish sci-fi editors who said some vile shit about women and, when criticized, acted like the Stasi was banging down their front door and executing them on the spot for the crime of sexism. That is not what happened. They were criticized. Because they doubled down like whining children, their unprofessionalism is getting them let go. No doubt there will be more rounds of people whining that this is a violation of "free speech". But it's not. So, here's a refresher for the sexist crybabies out there on what is and isn't free speech.

Camcorder

Ghost hunters' surprise! Man looking for ghost instead catches girlfriend having affair with his under-age son

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An Australian father who rigged up a video camera in his kitchen to capture paranormal activity instead caught his girlfriend canoodling with his 16-year-old son.

The Tasmanian Supreme Court heard that the father had set up a camera to capture ghosts he believed were haunting his house.

One day he forgot to turn it off and when he later reviewed the footage, he saw his son and the 28-year-old Tasmanian woman - who cannot be named for legal reasons - kissing and cuddling.

His girlfriend of 11 years initially denied any relationship, but his son confessed that they had sex on multiple occasions.

The woman later pleaded guilty to sex with the minor and today was sentenced to at least six months in jail.

The court heard the illicit affair began last year after a discussion about driving lessons. It was discovered in October, when the boy was moved to live with his grandparents.

Hourglass

Climate change and revolution: Complex systems theorists warn we are one year away from global riots

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What's the number one reason we riot? The plausible, justifiable motivations of trampled-upon humanfolk to fight back are many - poverty, oppression, disenfranchisement, etc - but the big one is more primal than any of the above. It's hunger, plain and simple. If there's a single factor that reliably sparks social unrest, it's food becoming too scarce or too expensive. So argues a group of complex systems theorists in Cambridge, and it makes sense.

In a 2011 paper, researchers at the Complex Systems Institute unveiled a model that accurately explained why the waves of unrest that swept the world in 2008 and 2011 crashed when they did. The number one determinant was soaring food prices. Their model identified a precise threshold for global food prices that, if breached, would lead to worldwide unrest.

Pistol

Hysterization anyone? Guns and grade-school panic

The specter of school shootings has brought a too-typical staple to local newspaper sections: the boys disciplined at (or suspended from) grade school for bringing a toy gun or anything resembling a gun.

The Washington Post just found the latest wild overreaction, from Calvert County, Md., a blue state that's cracked down on gun rights. "A kindergartner who brought a cowboy-style cap gun onto his Calvert County school bus was suspended for 10 days after showing a friend the orange-tipped toy, which he had tucked inside his backpack on his way to school," according to the family.

USA

Multiple victims as gunman opens fire near Santa Monica College, school on lockdown

SMO Shooting
© The_Corsair
At least three people have been wounded in a shooting in the Santa Monica College area, California. The school is on lockdown and students are advised to stay away from the campus.

A "fully armed" suspect has opened fire at cars and a bus in the area, local police said. Witnesses reported hearing at least one shotgun blast and several handgun shots.

UCLA Medical Center officials confirm that two people have been hospitalized and are in critical condition, while one is in a serious but not life-threatening condition, CNN reports.

One suspect has reportedly been detained in the school's library and taken into custody. The police are now checking reports of a possible second shooter.

Eye 1

Hospital implements palm scan

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© Unknown
Imagine going to the hospital and having your doctor or nurse retrieve your vital medical records simply by scanning the palm of your hand. It is happening now at a local medical center.

Black Magic

Witchcraft accusations lead to torture, murders

Witchcraft Slayings
© Byelikova Oksana | Shutterstock
In villages throughout Papua New Guinea, accusations of witchcraft can lead to torture and murder, a growing trend that has authorities alarmed.
The witch hunts and subsequent killings that took place in colonial New England are considered a dark chapter in U.S. history.

But across Papua New Guinea and in other places around the world, accusations of witchcraft and sorcery are on the rise, with tragic results.

In April, an elderly school teacher was beheaded in Papua New Guinea after her neighbors accused her of witchcraft, TIME reports. A few days earlier, seven people were kidnapped and tortured with hot irons over suspicions of sorcery in Papua New Guinea's Southern Highlands province.

Last year, 29 people in the poor island nation located north of Australia were arrested for killing and cannibalizing the brains and genitals of seven people accused of sorcery.

And in February, Kepari Leniata, a 20-year-old mother in Papua New Guinea's Western Highlands region, was accused of witchcraft by the family of a 6-year-old boy who had recently died.

Leniata was stripped, bound, tortured with a hot iron, doused with gasoline and burned to death on a pile of trash in broad daylight in front of hundreds of onlookers, The Associated Press reports.

The brutal killing was condemned by officials, including Prime Minister Peter O'Neill, but no arrests of Leniata's killers were made.

Info

Dog saves abandoned baby

Pui
© Sunthorn Pongpao
Pui, a 2-year-old dog, who saves the life of a newborn baby girl.
Ayutthaya - A pedigree Thai dog carried a plastic bag containing a newborn baby girl believed to have been left in a roadside dump back to its home on Monday morning, saving her from inevitable death.

Sudarat Thongmak said the two-year-old male, a Bangkaew named Pui, took the white plastic bag from a site in tambon Sala Loi in Tha Rua district to the house and barked loudly to get attention.

Sudarat, 12, heard the noise and was the first to see the baby.

After hearing the dog barking she went down the stairs and discovered the bag on the patio.

She opened it and was shocked to find a newborn baby with its umbilical cord still attached. It was clearly very weak and she ran to get her mum, Pummarat, and her father, Kummerd. The parents rushed the baby to Tha Rua hospital.

Mrs Pummarat said Pui always wanders around the community especially a wood grove near the house. She and her husband believe the dog found the bag there.