Saturday, May 06, 2006

From The Phoenix

How much will you miss the Jesuit Residence Lawn?

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Throw the Blog at Them


Media Law Resource Center
Compiled by MLRC Staff Attorney Eric P. Robinson
Last Update: April 29, 2006

This list, which is an outgrowth of the Pre-Dinner Symposium on Blogging held on Nov. 9, 2005, includes legal cases that MLRC is aware of in which bloggers have been sued for libel and related claims, including the first case against a blogger of which MLRC is aware that has gone to trial and resulted in a liability verdict. It also includes a criminal case against bloggers in Ohio. The list also includes links to articles reporting on these cases, and court decisions when available. This list does not include lawsuits outside of the United States.

by Jeff Jarvis

"Media companies have been united in opposing libel actions for many years (through MLRC [Media Law Research Center], formerly LDRC) in part to make it very difficult for plaintiffs’ lawyers to succeed and thus to really discourage lawyers from taking on libel cases. If bloggers, their insurance companies and other non-media company defendants start losing cases and/or paying out settlements, that will actually help to fund what could quickly mushroom into a force of plaintiffs’ lawyers eager to take on these cases, cases that would have become potentially lucrative as a result of any payouts. So the risk you raise is very real. There’s also a risk that careless postings by bloggers that lead to litigation could also result in legal decisions that set precedents damaging to free speech / free press interests. So the risk is two-fold — harmful legal precedents and a new funding source for lawyers bringing libel suits."

Geanne Rosenberg, head of the journalism program at CUNY’s Baruch and an attorney


Day Without Immigrants

Organized by
Resource Center of the Americas

May First – International Workers Day
by Dan La Botz

May First, International Labor Day, is not a holiday alien to the United Status. On the contrary, the International Workers Day has its origins in a movement in Chicago in the year 1886. At that time, the city of Chicago was the center of the Great Lakes industrial region of the United States. There were there an enormous concentration of factories, the great knot of railroad lines that connected the urban centers of the nation, and millions of immigrants who had come from Europe, giving their sweat and blood for the progress of the country. One of the most important industries in Chicago was the manufacture of harvesting machines at Cyrus McCormick’s factory. That factory would become the center of a social upheaval that would become known throughout the world.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

From the Pioneer Press


Loyola plan under fire
Loyola is taking the lead in going green, preparing to break ground on a $30 million library annex this summer that will put the college on the cutting edge of environmentally-friendly design. Ironically, though, the building will pave over a coveted grassy knoll on the lakefront, a move that has some open space advocates opposing the project.
People's pushed to 'step it up'
On behalf of all the consumers who have followed prompts then sat on the line waiting for a live person at People's Energy to answer the phone -- only to be cut off -- aldermen railed against the gas company last week, demanding better customer service.
Tax revolt planned
Rogers Park Township homeowner Antonette Caruso is one of several thousand who just received assessment notices for next year. And she's mad as hell that she will be paying an estimated 70 percent increase come August, 2007, unless the 7 percent tax assessment cap is renewed in time.
TIF district plan irks West Ridge neighbors
West Ridge neighbors are miffed about a proposed Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district that Alderman Bernard Stone, D-50th, says will set aside $32 million in future property tax dollars for redevelopment in the Touhy-Western area.


Free Public Meetings

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin
Alderman Joe Moore
Alderman Bernard Stone
Rogers Park Community Council

Encourage You to Attend a

Free Public Meeting
on How to Appeal Your
2006 Property Tax


7:00 - 9:00 PM
Bernard Horwich JCC
3003 W. Touhy Avenue

Tuesday, May 2
7pm - 9pm

Loyola Park Fieldhouse
3003 W. Touhy 1230 W. Greenleaf

Be Sure to Bring Your Assesment Notice
With You To The Seminar.
More Information is Available at

The Filing Deadline for
Rogers Park is May 10, 2006
Call 847 864 1209
with any questions or to schedule
an appointment for assistance.

Don't let the property tax
reassessment appeal process be stressful
or confusing. There are resources available.

Note:Received in the mail today
Update: A check of the 49th ward website
found this meeting posted but also had the
RPCC listed as a sponsor, so I added their
name to the post.

Some Suggested Blog Standards / excerpted

Online Journalism Review.

Online Journalism Wikis
What are the ethics of online journalism?
These principles help separate the good writers and publishers from the frauds and con artists online. The ethics of online journalism are, ultimately, no different than the ethics of journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists has articulated a comprehensive
policy of journalism ethics that can help guide any consciencious online writer.
That said, here are some basic qualities that any good online writer ought content ought to demonstrate:

No plagiarism
By now, you've likely discovered that writing is hard work. You certainly don't want someone else swiping your effort and presenting it as his or her own.
So don't steal others' work.
Such theft is plagiarism. It includes not just cutting and pasting whole articles, but copying photos, graphics, video and even large text excerpts from others and putting them on your web page as well.

There's no such thing as too much supporting information.
Disclose, disclose, disclose
Tell your readers how you got your information, and what factors influenced your decision to publish it. If you have a personal or professional connection to people or groups you're writing about, describe it. Your readers deserve to know what has influenced the way you reported or wrote a story.

Just because someone else said it, this statement does not make it true.

Reward your readers with accurate information that stands up to scrutiny from other writers. Check out your information before you print it.
Find facts, not just others' opinions, to support your comments. Start with sites such as our
guide to reporting to learn how to find real data, not someone else's spin. Make sure that what you are writing isn't merely repeating some urban myth, either.

If you are writing about someone else, call or e-mail them for a comment before you publish.
If your subject has a blog, link to it. That link will notify the subject that you've written about them, and will allow your readers to click-through and read the subject's side of the story.
If you want to write satire or spoofs, fine. But make sure your audience knows that what you are writing is not literal truth. Tricking readers won't help you develop the respect, credibility or loyal audience that truthful writers enjoy and rely upon.

Be honest
In summary, be honest with your readers and transparent about your work. If people wonder for a moment about your honesty or your motives, you've lost credibility with them. Don't let them do that. Answer those questions even before readers ask.

From the Trib'

Woman's home taken, but nobody is charged
By David Jackson
Published April 30,

It took a deputy sheriff and a four-man crew about an hour to put the 58-year-old former pediatric nurse out of her Northwest Side home on an October morning in 2004.

On the leafy stretch of Claremont Avenue north of Welles Park, neighbors tried to comfort Judith Ahrens, who sobbed hysterically as the eviction crew piled furniture in her front yard.These neighbors had watched the vivacious single professional spiral into a mental illness that left her increasingly detached from her family and friends.

But Ahrens may have been a victim of more than her disability.The Cook County public guardian and a legal aid attorney allege in court documents that she lost her home in a mortgage fraud.

Some Mortgage Fraud Links


FBI Press Release

FBI Wants Loan Brokers to Fight Mortgage Fraud
Dec.15, 2005 Tribune
Unlike lenders, mortgage brokers are not required to report questionable transactions to the government, and "I would question whether they're exercising as much due diligence as we would like to see," said Chris Swecker, FBI assistant director in charge of the criminal division.

April 15, 2006 Detroit Free Press
The scams, step-by-step :Two of the most popular mortgage fraud schemes

A mortgage company promises to make the overdue mortgage payments to the lender.
In return, the homeowner transfers the property title to the company.
The owner is given a year to buy back the title, but in many cases the company ends up with the home.
The company then can resell it for a profit.

A homeowner needs equity from the house.
An investor may use an independent buyer, false income documents and false credit reports to obtain a mortgage loan in that buyer's name.
The homeowner is deceived into signing over the title of the home, thinking he or she can rent it and then buy it back.
Instead, the independent buyer does not make any mortgage payments and rents the property until foreclosure takes place several months later.
The buyer then gets the equity from the initial loan.
Sources: FBI and the National Consumer Law Center


From The Wall Street Journal


When Blogs Rule
We Will All Talk Like.....

April 21, 2006
By Daniel Henninger

I don't think the blogosphere is breeding cannibals. But it looks to me as if the world of blogs may be filling up with people who for the previous 200 millennia of human existence kept their weird thoughts more or less to themselves. Now, they don't have to. They've got the Web. Now they can share.

Technorati, a site that keeps numbers on the blogosphere, reports that as of this month the number of Web logs the site tracks is 35.3 million, and doubling every six months. Technorati claims each day brings 75,000 new blogs. We know something's happening here but I'm not sure we know what it is.

But in a "Blogs Trend Survey" released last September, America Online reported that only 8% blog to "expose political information." Instead, 50% of bloggers consider what they are doing to be therapy. Some might argue that using the Internet to self-medicate includes many nominally political blogs, but more on that shortly.

Not surprisingly, a new vocabulary has emerged from clinical psychology to describe generalized patterns of behavior on the virtual continent. As described by psychologist John Suler, there's dissociative anonymity (You don't know me); solipsistic introjection (It's all in my head); and dissociative imagination (It's just a game). This is all known as digital identity, and it sounds perfectly plausible to me.

A libertarian would say, quite correctly, that most of this is their problem, so who cares? But there is one more personality trait common to the blogosphere that, like crabgrass, may be spreading to touch and cover everything. It's called disinhibition. Briefly, disinhibition is what the world would look like if everyone behaved like Jerry Lewis or Paris Hilton or we all lived in South Park.

Example: The Web site currently famous for enabling and aggregating millions of personal blogs is called If you opened its "blogs" page this week, the first thing you saw was a blogger's video of a guy swilling beer and sticking his middle finger through a car window. Right below that were two blogs by women in their underwear.

In our time, it has generally been thought bad and unhealthy to "repress" inhibitions. Spend a few days inside the new world of personal blogs, however, and one might want to revisit the repression issue.

The human species has spent several hundred thousand years sorting through which emotions and marginal neuroses to keep under control and which to release. Now, with a keyboard, people overnight are "free" to unburden and unhinge themselves continuously and exponentially. One researcher quotes the entry-page of a teenage girl's blog: "You are now entering my world. My pain. My mind. My thoughts. My emotions. Enter with caution and an open mind."

The power of the Web is obvious and undeniable. We diminish it at our peril. But what if the most potent social effect to spread outward from the Internet turns out to be disinhibition, the breaking down of personal restraints and the endless elevation of oneself? It may be already.
Disinhibited vocabulary is now the normal way people talk on cable TV, such as on "The Sopranos" or in stand-up comedy. On the Web and on the street, more people than not talk like this now. What once was isolated is covering everything. No wonder the major non-cable networks are suing to overturn the FCC's decency rulings; they, too, want the full benefits of normalized disinhibition. Hip-hop, currently our most popular music form, is a well-defined world of disinhibition.

Then there's politics. On the Huffington Post yesterday, there were more than 600 "comments" on Karl Rove and the White House staff shake-up. "Demoted my --- the snake is still in the grass." "He should be demoted to Leavenworth." "Rove is Bush's Brain, and without him, our Decider-in-Chief wouldn't know how to wipe his own ----."

From a primary post on the same subject on the Daily Kos, widely regarded as one of the most influential blogging sites in Democratic politics now: "I don't give a ----. Karl Rove belongs in shackles." "A group of village whores have taken a day off to do laundry."

Intense language like this used to be confined to construction sites and corner bars. Now it is normal discourse on Web sites, the most popular forums for political discussion. Much of this is new. Politics is a social endeavor. The Web is nothing if not "social." But the blogosphere is also the product not of people meeting, but venting alone at a keyboard with all the uninhibited, bat-out-of-hell hyperbole of thinking, suggestion and expression that this new technology seems to release.

At the risk of enabling, does the Internet mean that all the rest of us are being made unwitting participants in the personal and political life of, um, crazy people? As populist psychiatry, maybe this is a good thing; the Web allows large numbers of people to contribute to others' therapy. It takes a village.

But researchers note that the isolation of Web life results in many missed social cues. It is similar to the experience of riding an indoor roller coaster, what is known in that industry as a "dark ride." This dark ride could be a very long one.

note: Sent to RPR by a reader and excerpted, thanx.