Weaponizing sound: Could sonic devices have injured diplomats in Cuba?

Another story of the mystery Cuban sonic weapon. This story focuses more on the auditory effects but neglects the apparent concussions that also seems to be a symptom.

A mysterious illness has been striking people associated with the US Embassy in Cuba — and a secret sonic weapon is rumored to be the source. Over the past year, diplomats in Cuba have experienced an unusual collection of symptoms that range from hearing loss, vertigo, and nausea to concussions, CBS News reported.Yesterday, the mystery grew even more complex when the Associated Press reported that the number of US victims has climbed to 21 people. Canadian diplomatic households were affected as well, the AP says. The Cuban government has denied involvement, and no “piece of equipment” that might be causing the symptoms has been discovered yet, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters.

Source: Weaponizing sound: Could sonic devices have injured diplomats in Cuba?

Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrant – Sep. 15, 2017

Remember the 2012 election when I was tracking all the fake Facebook likes for Mitt Romney? Could this have also been an effort by Russia to influence the American Election by manipulating Facebook?

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are now in possession of Russian-linked ads run on Facebook during the presidential election, after they obtained a search warrant for the information.

Facebook gave Mueller and his team copies of ads and related information it discovered on its site linked to a Russian troll farm, as well as detailed information about the accounts that bought the ads and the way the ads were targeted at American Facebook users, a source with knowledge of the matter told CNN.

The disclosure, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, may give Mueller’s office a fuller picture of who was behind the ad buys and how the ads may have influenced voter sentiment during the 2016 election.

Source: Facebook handed Russia-linked ads over to Mueller under search warrant – Sep. 15, 2017

N&O losing impactful, dogged investigative reporter in Neff – Raleigh & Company

R. L. Bynum at Raleigh & Company talks to departing N&O investigative reporter, Joe Neff. As I mentioned yesterday, Joe is leaving the N&O.

Joseph Neff projects his passion as an investigative reporter as his voice breaks up relating one of the highlights of his impressive career at The News & Observer.

Neff, who announced last week that he is leaving the newspaper he joined 25 years ago, was talking about the day in March 2016 that Howard Dudley — wrongly convicted of sexually assaulting his 9-year-old daughter — was freed. Eleven years earlier, Neff wrote a series called “Caught in a Lie” that documented the problems with the case.

Source: N&O losing impactful, dogged investigative reporter in Neff – Raleigh & Company

When Silicon Valley Took Over the ‘New Republic’ – The Atlantic

A good read from Gary’s article on the N&O about how chasing clicks killed the New Republic.

Journalism has performed so admirably in the aftermath of Trump’s victory that it has grown harder to see the profession’s underlying rot. Now each assignment is subjected to a cost-benefit analysis—will the article earn enough traffic to justify the investment? Sometimes the analysis is explicit and conscious, though in most cases it’s subconscious and embedded in euphemism. Either way, it’s this train of thought that leads editors to declare an idea “not worth the effort” or to worry about whether an article will “sink.” The audience for journalism may be larger than it was before, but the mind-set is smaller.

Source: When Silicon Valley Took Over the ‘New Republic’ – The Atlantic

Clicking The N&O – Talking About Politics

I’m not the only ink-stained traditionalist concerned about the N&O’s new direction. Former newsman Gary Pearce says his piece over on his blog, Talking About Politics.

In these Trumped-up times, we need good journalism more than ever. Which is why readers of The News & Observer paid careful attention to the recent column by Executive Editor John Drescher on changes there. What he wrote told us three things:
• How much journalism and The N&O are changing,
• How much readers are concerned about the changes, and
• How much editors are concerned about readers’ reactions to the changes.

Readers are concerned that the old wall of separation between news and ads is being replaced by a chart measuring how many clicks stories get and, thereby, how many ads get sold.

Drescher’s column, “On the new N&O menu: Less spinach, more reader-focused coverage,” reassured us that the changes will be positive:

“Starting this week, we’ll be working harder to answer your questions and present the news in a way that is more relevant, with more video and more focus on topics that we know you care about.

“When most of our readership was of the print paper, we never knew with precision how much each story was read. Now we know how much digital readership each story has, and we’ve used that as a guide for which stories we will cover.

“While measuring readership is important to us, it’s not the only factor we’ll consider when deciding what to cover.”

Drescher vowed that the pursuit of digital clicks won’t imperil quality.

“Our core values remain the same. We’ll continue to provide the kind of watchdog reporting that has distinguished The N&O. Check out ‘Jailed to Death,’ our new report on deaths in county jails….We want to give you the news and information that means the most to you in the form and at the times you want it.”

He chided “ink-stained traditionalists” who “worry that we’ll publish nothing but click-bait stories about cats. They (the traditionalists, not the cats) underestimate the intelligence of the readers in this region.”

Well, call me an ink-stained traditionalist. I do worry. Not so much for now, because I know the editors at The N&O today. They are serious, committed journalists.

But they’re under a lot of pressure from business people, bean-counters and click-counters who live on the West Coast. While I trust John Drescher and his colleagues, I don’t know who or what will come after him and them.

Source: Clicking The N&O – Talking About PoliticsTalking About Politics

Also last week, superstar investigative reporter Joseph Neff turned in his typewriter at the N&O. He’ll be joining the Marshall Project:

North Raleigh development reveals Isaac Hunter’s Tavern | News & Observer

While I was away last week, Craig Jarvis’s story on Isaac Hunter’s Tavern ran in the News and Observer. Craig did a nice job summarizing the current state of things and included some bonus photos and video of me traipsing through the woods that day. Had I known I would be populating pixels I would’ve dressed more like Indiana Jones than Mike the Mechanic!

It was fun rediscovering the tavern and I’m happy that I got a mention, though I’m just one of many who have helped bring attention to the Tavern.

RALEIGH Forty-eight years ago, a pair of state archaeologists went in search of a 200-year-old tavern that was the scene of an historic event in North Carolina history but had seemingly disappeared.

When they found it, the dilapidated tavern — near Wake Forest Road just north of what is now the Beltline — the scientists urged immediate action to preserve the structure. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, Isaac Hunter’s Tavern slipped from sight again, disappearing over time into acres of trees and dangling vines until few clues were left that it had ever stood there. Until now, after development plans for the woods were announced this summer, once again stirring the saga of the old tavern.

The story of Hunter’s tavern shows how easily history slips through a community’s collective memory in a fast-growing place like Raleigh.

Source: North Raleigh development reveals Isaac Hunter’s Tavern | News & Observer

The N&O called him an ink-stained traditionalist. Watch what happened next!

Courtesy North Carolina State Archives

I spent my lunch hour tromping through the woods, showing the N&O’s Craig Jarvis the ruins of Isaac Hunter’s tavern. Craig had discovered my posts on the tavern and wanted to see it for himself. When my vague, emailed descriptions of the spot didn’t get him there I offered to take him there myself. After five or more minutes of us ducking under fallen trees and getting all turned around, I practically cheered when I found the foundation stones again! Craig was just as excited as I was, snapping photos on his phone and pondering how it all once looked.

I was happy to share it with him and didn’t think twice about meeting him there. I don’t know anything about the story he’s writing nor do I know (or particularly care) if I’ll be mentioned in it. What matters to me is that he’s telling the story of a place that was very important in making Raleigh what it is today.

OK, so maybe I was a little hard on the News and Observer. I know the paper has to adapt to changing conditions but I do not want to see the coverage dumbed down just to generate more clicks. I also don’t want to see journalists forced to pimp their articles just to remain in good graces with their boss. But I absolutely do want journalism to succeed. I want the News and Observer to succeed.

I also want the spinach. Lots of spinach. I want local coverage, even if it means fewer clicks. Tell me about the city’s budget, and about the controversy surrounding the latest audacious development project. Let me know about disagreements between city and county officials. Convey the complex jargon of transportation plans (rail realignments, commuter rail plans, etc) in terms I can understand. Be firm but be fair.

So while I was very, very close to canceling my N&O subscription again, I will give the paper’s new plan a chance to prove itself.

But don’t expect me to like the clickbait headlines, ok?