Catching up – AK-47, Four Elements, Digg’s crisis, reporters’ phone records

1) Larry Kahaner, author of “AK-47: The Weapon That Changed the Face of War“, wrote an interesting and insightful Washington Post article “Weapon Of Mass Destruction” today. Here is a brief excerpt,

The AK-47 has become the world’s most prolific and effective combat weapon, a device so cheap and simple that it can be bought in many countries for less than the cost of a live chicken. Depicted on the flag and currency of several countries, waved by guerrillas and rebels everywhere, the AK is responsible for about a quarter-million deaths every year. It is the firearm of choice for at least 50 legitimate standing armies and countless fighting forces from Africa and the Middle East to Central America and Los Angeles.

2) The indieWIRE has a great article about the opening documentary film 4 Elements at 19th International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA),

Young Dutch filmmaker Jiska Rickels’ “4 Elements” opened the event on Thursday night, launching the ten-day festival. A uniquely visual and aural exploration, the film depicts man’s relationship with the four elements — fire, water, earth and air — through the experiences of firefighters in Siberia, king crab fisherman on the Bering Sea in Alaska, German mineworkers, and Russian cosmonauts preparing a launch to the international space station. [K: Great stuff. Would love to see it.]

[K: By the way, indieWIRE has a great section for documentaries.]

3) VentureBeat has a post that talks about some potentially fundamental problem with Digg,

The crisis at DiggDigg, the San Francisco company that lets users rank news, is facing a credibility test. A fake story about Sony recalling its PlayStation 3 stayed on the site’s front-page for several hours, even though the content was clearly questionable — people blindly digged the article nonetheless. This led to some sleuthing by Niall Kennedy, who turned up evidence of some major spamming. This and other problems are causing some people to give up on the site.

4) Thanks to John for bringing this to my attention. What is at stake is nothing less than the freedom of press in the US. Here is an excerpt, [K: emphasis mine]

The press has been on a losing streak of late in the federal courts, with several decisions refusing to recognize protection for confidential sources. The Supreme Court has not weighed in on the question since 1972.

Floyd Abrams, a lawyer for The Times, said the case now before the court could give it an opportunity to clarify the law.

If the government is permitted to proceed to scrutinize the telephone records of The New York Times and its journalists,” Mr. Abrams said, “it will be in a position to identify literally scores of confidential sources, thus imperiling both the ability of the press to gather the news and of the public to learn it.

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