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Portland Trailblazers Streisand Stupid Local Article Into National Spotlight For No Reason At All

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While stories about the Streisand Effect here are legion, the most frustrating aspect of them for me is typically how pointless and petty the victims of it are. There are so many of life's problems that can be best taken on by being completely ignored and the simple fact is that many famous folk and large companies have a much larger capacity and ability to ignore petty shit than the average person. I mean, come on people, you have lawyers and PR teams.The Portland Trailblazers certainly do. And, yet, they appear to have decided to Streisand a mildly trafficked big dumb stupid local publication into the national spotlight just by failing to ignore it. The setup here is a playoffs game 3 loss and Tim Brown, an editor of the Oregonian, doing the laziest of "articles."

Tim Brown, the “Sports Trending Editor” of the Oregonian, published a lazy and actually-not-obligatory roundup of tweets from Blazers fans, NBA watchers, and lame-brained viral-hunting meme jockeys. Maybe these kinds of Twitter roundups are meant to be cathartic for fans, but mostly they suck mondo ass.There are 131 tweets embedded in Brown’s stupid post, mashing together bot-crafted shit like SportsCenter’s Twitter account recycling the grim success rate of teams down 3–0 in NBA playoff series—spoiler alert: it’s bad—with one each of every meme GIF ever made, plus, like, some internet blue check mark drearily firing off “This is a tough one.”
It goes on from there, but the point is that the post was lazy and dumb, constructed mostly of Twitter reactions that add roughly zero value to anyone looking for a piece on this particular game. These sorts of articles are also not rare, however, and pretty much every professional sports team, major market or otherwise, are the subject of similar "takes."  The whole thing would have ended there, except that the post's headline yoinked a bad joke from a bad national sports journalist and then pumped the whole thing out onto social media sites for public consumption. Once the tweets and retweets, mostly limited to local Blazers fans, reached members of the team, one of them that should absolutely have known better decided to respond.
Predictably, this tweet was seen by members of the Trail Blazers organization, among them Chris McGowan, the team’s president and CEO. Probably the right thing for McGowan and those in his employ to do with this kind of internet junk is sigh and grit their teeth and ignore it, but here he has chosen another course:

Suddenly, what was a barely noticable dumb local post has not only entered the national attention category, but the Trailblazers come off looking petty. In fact, if you squint at this whole story in just the right way, the Oregonion appears to cut a sympathetic figure.And why? Again, every team has to endure this sort of thing and most of them safely ignore it all. Why Streisand this big dumb stupid article with threats of pulling ad-buys from a local publication over all of this?

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posted at: 12:00am on 24-May-2019
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New Assange Indictment Makes Insane, Unprecedented Use Of Espionage Act On Things Journalists Do All The Time

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As we noted when Julian Assange was arrested in the UK last month, it was notable how... lacking the charges were. The whole thing revolved around an apparently failed attempt to help Chelsea Manning crack a CIA password. We still had significant concerns about the way the CFAA was being used, and the fact that the description of the "conspiracy" involved actions that tons of journalists do every day -- but the original indictment didn't have what was most feared: use of the Espionage Act against the actions of a news organization. At the time, some knowledgeable observers pointed out that it was likely a superseding indictment would come, and it wouldn't surprise them if it had Espionage Act charges. And they were right.On Thursday the DOJ unsealed the new indictment against Assange and it should absolutely terrify anyone who believes in a free press and the 1st Amendment. It takes a whole variety of things that journalists at major publications do every single day -- finding and cultivating sources, getting information and publishing that information -- as evidence of Espionage Act violations. We've always had issues with the Espionage Act, which we believe is almost certainly unconstitutional. In the past, we've highlighted how it's been used in ridiculous ways against many whistleblowers, and it doesn't even allow for a defendant to give a reason for why they leaked documents (i.e., they can't say they did it to blow the whistle on government malfeasance -- it's just automatically treated as espionage, which is nonsensical).However, this indictment goes much further. It's not going after an actual leaker, it's going after a publisher. It's so bad that even Obama-era officials (who used the Espionage Act against leakers more times than any other President in history combined) seem horrified. This is from the former DOJ spokesperson in the Obama admin:

Much of the indictment focuses on Wikileaks/Assange cultivating sources and requesting information -- which is what lots of reporters do all the time. For example, the first count includes the following actions:
To willfully communicate documents relating to the national defensenamely,detainee assessment briefs related to detainees who were held at Guantanamo Bay, U.S.State Department cables, Iraq rules of engagement files, and documents containing thenames of individuals in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere around the world, who riskedtheir safety and freedom by providing information to the United States and our allies, whichwere classified up to the SECRET levelfrom persons having lawful possession of oraccess to such documents, to persons not entitled to receive them
But, that's what lots of reporters do all the time in cultivating sources within the government. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein became celebrated and famous by getting government officials to leak classified information. Indeed, it's what a bunch of reporters at the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. are doing right now to try to find information about this White House. And, yes, President Trump likes to refer to them as "fake news," and if you buy that you are too stupid to read this site, so go away. This is a full frontal attack on the First Amendment and basic reporting. If this works it sets a precedent to go after any investigative reporting of the government.It's also notable -- and ridiculous -- that the indictment focuses on the supposed "danger" that Assange/Wikileaks put people into by publishing the documents that Chelsea Manning leaked.
The significant activity reports from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that ASSANGEpublished included names of local Afghans and Iraqis who had provided information to U.S. andcoalition forces. The State Department cables that WikiLeaks published included names ofpersons throughout the world who provided information to the U.S. government in circumstancesin which they could reasonably expect that their identities would be kept confidential. Thesesources included journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidentswho were living in repressive regimes and reported to the United States the abuses of their owngovernment, and the political conditions within their countries, at great risk to their own safety.By publishing these documents without redacting the human sources' names or other identifyinginformation, ASSANGE created a grave and imminent risk that the innocent people he namedwould suffer serious physical harm and/or arbitrary detention.
News publishers often have to make difficult decisions about publishing certain info that could cause harm, but it does not violate the Espionage Act to do so in the service of informing the public. Even worse, as has been detailed for many years now, the US government admitted back in 2013 that not a single death was caused by Manning's leaks, and former Defense Secretary Robert Gates even called claims of harm "overwrought" and said:
Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.''
In fact, Reuters reported (via its own cultivated sources and leaks) that the "damage" claims were purposefully exaggerated by Obama admin officials in the hopes that it would create enough to bring these bogus charges against Assange:
A congressional official briefed on the reviews said the administration felt compelled to say publicly that the revelations had seriously damaged American interests in order to bolster legal efforts to shut down the WikiLeaks website and bring charges against the leakers.I think they just want to present the toughest front they can muster, the official said.But State Department officials have privately told Congress they expect overall damage to U.S. foreign policy to be containable, said the official, one of two congressional aides familiar with the briefings who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The only "evidence" of harm shown in the indictment is just that Osama bin-Laden had some copies of the Wikileaks files when the US killed him:
On May 2, 2011, United States armed forces raided the compound of Osama binLaden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. During the raid, they collected a number of items of digital media,which included the following: (1) a letter from bin Laden to another member of the terroristorganization al-Qaeda in which bin Laden requested that the member gather the DoD materialposted to WikiLeaks, (2) a letter from that same member of al-Qaeda to Bin Laden withinformation from the Afghanistan War Documents provided by Manning to WikiLeaks andreleased by WikiLeaks, and (3) Department of State information provided by Manning toWikiLeaks and released by WikiLeaks.
There are a few other claims of people made "vulnerable" by Wikileaks publishing the Manning documents, but no evidence of actual harm.So, let's be clear here: the US government has admitted to making bullshit claims about non-existent "harms" done by Wikileaks, and now it's using that to charge a news publisher with espionage for doing the same sort of work that tons of reporters do every day. It's an incredible attack on the 1st Amendment from this administration, and one that hopefully the courts will shut down.

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posted at: 12:00am on 24-May-2019
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