The Man Who Will Blog History. Lyle Denniston. by Isaac Matson

With an anticipated 250,000 followers, this man’s blog is expected to be the first to report tomorrow’s Supreme Court decision on President Obama’s healthcare law.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court of the United States (#SCOTUS in Twitter speak) is expected to hand down its decision on the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as “Obamacare”. Until recently, many believed the law would be struck down entirely, but the unexpected ruling in the Arizona immigration case has cast some doubt on previous court predictions. Regardless of the outcome, the ADA ruling is set to join a group of famed Supreme Court rulings that include Marbury v. Madison, Plessy v. Ferguson, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade. One man will be the first to tell the world what the court has decided: Lyle Denniston.

According to a Washington Post profile, Lyle Denniston is an 81 year-old retiree who is responsible for the reporting on SCOTUSblog, a site that has been live blogging Supreme Court opinions for the past two years. Until recently, the site had a small readership of approximately 1,500. But court cases involving politically volatile issues like immigration and healthcare have led to an explosion in readership: 70,000 on Thursday; 100,000 on Monday. The site expects 250,000 to be tuned in tomorrow. Being the first to report Supreme Court rulings is Denniston’s passion. He told the Washington Post, “It’s our number one ambition to be the first and beat everybody.”

Denniston began court reporting in 1953, writing for the Wall Street Journal. He has covered the Supreme Court for literally decades, and is older than all the sitting Supreme Court justices. He has retired from court reporting twice. And returned twice. He simply loved his job too much. Denniston briefly left his court beat to help edit stories on the Watergate scandal. Missing the Roe v. Wade ruling was his biggest regret, according to the Washington Post. He told his boss that either he would be allowed to return to SCOTUS reporting or he would quit.

Electronic devices are not allowed in the Supreme Court press room, so after high profile rulings are handed down, there is a mob of reporters scurrying back to their computers to file reports. Denniston has an office at the court and will file his report with his editor via Skype.

Despite his reputation for the being the first to report court decisions in the age of Twitter and blogging, Denniston told the Washington Post that he is not a fan of technology.  

(Follow SCOTUSblog here


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Syria is a Chance for America to be on the Right Side of History. by Isaac Matson

Russian arms shipments to the Syrian regime will escalate what some are already calling a civil war.  Scores of unarmed men, women and children have been killed at the hands of regime forces.  European nations are purposing stronger action. It is time for the United States to intervene. 

Yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that the United Sates had become aware of a shipment of Russian attack helicopters headed for Syria. The Syrian uprising has been ongoing for 15 months and the death toll is staggering. It was staggering before the West became aware of the atrocity that took place last month in Houla.

As reported by Reuters, on Friday, May 25, pro-government militia entered Houla and killed 108 people, the vast majority of whom were civilians. According to U.N. officials, many women and children were among the dead. Rupert Colville, a U.N. rights spokesman told Reuters in separate statements, “At this point it looks like entire families were shot in their houses.”

“Some 49 children and 34 women were among the known victims but the toll was not definitive...there are reports of more deaths.” 

“Almost half of the ones we know of so far are children--that is totally unpardonable--and a very large number of woman as well.” 

Later in the report, Colville says that 32 of the children killed were under the age of 10. More and more children are becoming casualties in this conflict, many suffering horrific fates. In a report filed today, Reuters confirms that the Syrian regime has employed children as human shields and that children have been “placed in front of tanks, tortured, raped and assassinated."

France is purposing that the United Nations enact Chapter 7 of the United Nations charter, allowing the Security Council, the most powerful institution in the UN, to use sanctions and even military force against the Syrian regime, lead by President Bashar al-Assad. China and Russia, permanent members of the Security Council, have repeatedly blocked strong efforts to confront the Syrian regime. 

One can speculate as to why China would block such efforts, but Russia’s motives are clear: Syria is their longtime ally, and home to Russia’s only naval base in the Mediterranean Sea. It seems that for Vladamir Putin’s government, strategic power is more important than human rights, evidenced by their shipment of attack helicopters to a regime that has already demonstrated its capacity for slaughter, as this inforgraphic from Reuters shows: 

The time for the United Sates to act is now. Yes, the situation is complex. Yes, Syria is quite different from Libya. No, direct military intervention by U.S. troops should not be an option. But we should arm the opposition that so often places itself between murderous government forces and unarmed civilians. 

If Russia is willing to arm a regime that so shamelessly kills its own people, than the West, including the United States, should arm the rebels. Then, at least, civilians would have a chance. The calls for arming the rebels are longstanding and have come from both sides of the political spectrum: Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham as well as the editors of The New Republic have called for arming the opposition. 

We need to use our power and join other Western nations on the right side of history before it is too late.


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How to Stay Alive After the Zombie Apocalypse. A Fictitious Editorial. Part 1. (May Include Large Amounts of Fabricated Information)

by Busola

I'm going to give you tips on how to stay alive and thriving after the apocalypse. Why? Today I've decided to deviate from the norm. Usually I would try to pick a topic that would benefit the independent individual in our modern society. A piece that was written for a young designer, artist or photographer etc. trying to break into their industry at the ground level. 

But, Trust me there are more than a few metaphors between brain-dead zombies and brain-dead consumers, and maybe we'll talk about how you can get rich making a new social media site called LivingFriends or something.

So let's get started. It's the end of the world. The rapture has happened and all the Christians and every member of every religion are now gone from the earth, having left to their version of heaven. All the rapists and murderers went to hell. There is only one hell. Of the remaining  200 million non-evil unbelievers half died in a flurry of natural disasters including tsunami's, global warming etc. and the other half are now zombies. Yes, zombies are real, after the second giant tsunami they escaped from the Florida containment quarantine and spread all over the world.

The single most important part of staying alive after "the end of the world ends" is your friends. Your friends are all you have against the zombies, radiation, starvation, and loneliness. And trust me, after everything that happens you're going to need someone who knows how to make you laugh. So gather as many of them together as you can, that's your team/family whatever you guys want to call yourselves.

So now time to pick a leader right? WRONG. In case you learned nothing from human history, the idea of a leader is stupid. Why on earth would one person be making the decisions for a group of people? You're all going to have grow up, and make good choices.

Now I'm not going to explain the basics like how to find shelter, or grow plants. That's dumb. Figure it out. It's not that hard, and it's going to be different depending on where you live. What is important is Zombies. Zombies aren't going to be like they show you on T.V. They won't be evil. Evil doesn't exist anymore, remember all good/evil religion stuff is gone. Zombies are basically animal forms of human beings.

They won't have the ability to do anything we deem as creative and have no concept of beauty. They won't be able to see color, or feel pleasure or pain. They'll operate by a hive mind so verbal communication is usually not necessary, but they can speak and when they do it's kind of like yiddish except less phlegm.

Did I not mention that they're gonna be immortal. I should've. After the third giant tsunami all humans are gonna become immortal, zombies and regulars alike. You'll still get hungry but it'll just be a permanent twinge in your stomach if you never eat. And all wounds will heal so you won't have to waste time with medical stuff. Even if you get completely obliterated you'll just pop up somewhere randomly.

One thing the mass media got right about zombies is for some reason they'll like to eat our flesh. They won't be able to taste it, so maybe it's just because it keeps growing back and they don't have to keep hunting animals. Whatever the reason don't let them catch you. If they do they'll keep you as a pprisoner as long as they can, and keep eating you as your body grows back. Gruesome.

That's all there is to know about surviving zombies. Next time we'll talk about post apocalyptic social media. All I'm gonna say is if you don't have a Facebook. I feel sorry for you.

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Why is The New York Times Struggling So Much to Get Readers to Subscribe to Their New DIGITAL Incarnation. by Busola Laditan

The "Digital" age isn't a dream anymore. It's a clear reality with a definable future, but you wouldn't know it by looking at the big shots like the New York Times, who should be calling the shots.

The New York Times has been launching and relaunching their Digital subscriptions with regularity. It allows readers to subscribe to The New York Times via smartphones, tablets, and The problem is they're doing it wrong, they look old and outdated.

There is no company like the New York Times anywhere in the world. Their wide span of journalistic coverage is a polished gem in a world saturated with nonsense information. Why do they seem so old and outdated to all of us? The company itself believes that it is old and part of a passing era. It's reflected in poor advertising and billing strategies. The base package from New York Times Digital costs $30/12wks and continues to $70/12wks. I could laugh at how bad of an idea that is.

The internet and related technology should have been a gold rush for all information and content owners/distributors. Instead these big companies are following the trends, and barely keeping up. Industry leaders are going around to college kid start ups, asking them how to stay in business.

As we can see in their ad above is doing it's best to seem young and fresh. Afraid that this new generation might just be too cool for them. Youth like what works, they have no prejudice, and will stay with the Times for as long as they do what they do best better than anyone else. The New York Times will survive the Digital Age. If they stop messing around they can actually come out of it bigger than google.

by Busola Laditan


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Instagram, Obama, and Why We Should Be Wary of Social Media Start-Ups Part 2 by Isaac Matson

Read Part 1

Before we start carving the images of Mark Zuckerberg and Kevin Systrom into a mountainside, there should be a word of caution. Instagram is a unique case: it only has 13 employees and makes zero revenue. 

That’s right—Instagram doesn’t make any money. This brings up the question of valuation. How do you assign value to a company that has 35 million users but only 13 employees and zero revenue?

Valuation in the age of social media is tricky. According to the Wall Street Journal, “the traditional ways of valuing a company—by its cash flow, or sum of its parts—are ineffective when that company makes only one product and gives it away free.” Derek Thompson writes, “The new Web economy, which draws its value not from employees making hardware but from users employing software, operates with a totally different valuation calculus than AT&T or Microsoft…Instagram and Facebook are free. They’re valuable because they’re selling (or have the potential to sell) so much of you.”

Some say social media companies are overvalued and fear a bubble may be forming. While reporting on LinkedIn’s volatile stock prices after that company went public, James B. Stewart wrote in the New York Times, “There is widespread agreement that bubbles occur when a speculative mania causes the price of an asset to soar far above its intrinsic worth. After the mania runs its course, and investors finally recognize their divergence, the bubble typically bursts, causing prices to plunge.”

After the Instagram deal, Rebecca Greenfield of The Atlantic Wire posted, “Facebook’s $1 billion acquisition of Instagram, a photo sharing app that costs zero dollars to use and has no source of revenue, sure feels like a social networking tech bubble.” Even more compelling: days before Zuckerberg and Systrom shook hands, a group of Silicon Valley investors valued Instagram at $500 million, exactly half of what the Facebook CEO paid.

Talk of a social networking bubble may be premature, but the U.S. remembers past bubbles well. The dot com bubble of 1990’s—and more recently, the devastating housing bubble that left many new homeowners underwater in value—beg us to exercise caution.

Is entrepreneurship vital to our recovering economy? Absolutely. Start-ups have the potential to create new jobs and hopefully the JOBS Act will help do that. But we should be wary of billion dollar social media start-ups that have no definite source of income. After what happened to the housing market, we cannot afford another bubble, regardless of who wins in November.

Isaac J.Matson


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Instagram, Obama, and Why We Should Be Wary of Social Media Start-Ups Part 1 by Isaac Matson

Mark Zuckerberg's billion dollar handshake with Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has brought the booming social media market into focus, pushing entrepreneurship to center stage in the election year debate over the economy.

 President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are staking their careers on improvement in private sector job growth and start-ups seem to hold promise, as new businesses have the potential to create new jobs.

Obama signed the bipartisan JOBS (Jump-Start Our Business Start Ups) Act in April, a rare example of election year cooperation hailed by both Republicans and Democrats as a step in the right direction. Called a “potential game changer” by the President, the JOBS Act would allow entrepreneurs to raise small amounts of money on the internet from individuals through websites registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. No longer would an entrepreneur be limited to raising funds for their start-up from a small group of venture capitalists.

In an official statement, Duncan L. Niederauer, CEO of NYSE Euronext, had this to say: “I was pleased to join President Obama at the White House today as he signed this important measure into law. We believe the exchanges have a responsibility to help small companies grow by providing entrepreneurs with a source of capital. Good policy, such as the Jobs Act, ensures that entrepreneurs and small businesses have access to the capital they need to expand and thrive.” Now any Bill Gates hopeful can access the brave new world of online capital to achieve their dreams.

The JOBS Act has its roots in our messiah complex. If only Steve Jobs could rise from the grave. Or maybe there is another Mark Zuckerberg, lurking somewhere out there on the edge of success, waiting for that all crucial start-up money. These men have become our saints, both emulated and prayed to. We admire them, in part because they embody a story we love: a person starting from nothing to carve out success on their own terms. Their lives have become an all-American narrative, the next chapter of which the JOBS Act hopes to help write.

Kevin Systrom is the newest member of this elite tech entrepreneur club. Last month he sold his Instagram app to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg for a cool $1 billion. The deal was largely negotiated in private over the course of three days at Zuckerberg’s house in Palo Alto. The Facebook CEO, who controls the majority of its voting rights, did not inform his board of directors until after he had reached an agreement with Systrom. With a user base of 35 million, many agree that the purchase of Instagram was a smart move.

Isaac J.Matson



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