thoughts and links

Posts Tagged "News"

"One of the paramedics grabbed another canoe paddle to beat the animal a third time"

Well this is just plain terrifying.

A 35-pound, 24-inch rabid beaver had bitten her on the back of the leg and would not let go, sparking an ordeal that lasted more than 20 minutes Tuesday evening. The Falls Church woman and a friend battled the animal with canoe paddles, a stick and bare hands as it came at them again and again. Peterson was seriously injured.

Rabid beavers. Who knew?

The full WaPo story has the whole terrifying ordeal in detail.

Obama may have watched bin Laden op via helmet cam

Business Insider reported that President Barack Obama and the rest of his team watched live video of the Sunday night raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound — possibly via a soldier’s helmet cam. I posted a picture of Obama and his national security team watching the action earlier this afternoon.

President Obama watched live video of the raid on Bin Laden’s compound yesterday, a source tells us.

In operations like this, our source says, soldiers and pilots often carry helmet cameras, and screens in situation rooms can carry live images from all of them.

In a press conference this afternoon, head of counter-terrorism John Brennan said Obama’s reaction when Bin Laden was killed was “We got him.”

No surprise: News website stats way up last night, today

The New York Times website experienced a huge jump in traffic from 10:00 PM Sunday night to 2:00 PM Monday afternoon. So did CNN. 

Poynter has the details:

A Times spokeswoman says via email: “Looking at traffic between 10 p.m. last night and 2 p.m. today, we have seen an incredible increase in page views. Page views during that time were 86 percent higher than the average page views received during a comparable period in the last four Mondays.” || reports that between Sunday evening — when news broke about Osama bin Laden’s death — through 1 p.m. today, its website has generated 88 million global page views. That’s a 217 percent gain over the prior 4-week average for the same time period, reports the network.

Yeah, I was not surprised.

No NYT paywall exemption for bin Laden death

Niemann Journalism Lab points out that The New York Times has a way to turn off its paywall on its website for breaking news. But the newspaper did not do so for the death of Osama bin Laden, perhaps because it was May 1 and the counter reset at the beginning of the month.

Obviously bin Laden’s death was major news, something The Times acknowledged by dedicating its entire front page to the news, including a massive headline of two rows and spanning all six columns.

From Niemann Journalism Lab:

Last night’s news about the death of Osama bin Laden would seem to qualify as one of those big must-read stories. So it’s interesting to note that the Times’ coverage of the news — all of its articles and blog posts — remained behind the paper’s gate last night. And they’ll remain there. “There are no current plans to open up the news and features about Bin Laden for free on,” a Times spokesperson told me. “As you know, readers get 20 articles free each month, and they can access Times content through other means, such as blogs, social media and search.”

The Bin Laden story broke on May 1, just a few hours after all non-subscribing Times readers had seen their monthly 20-article count reset to zero. Barring a big Sunday-morning reading binge, most were probably still at the very beginnings of their monthly allotments. And while “any decision to make any content free on will be made on a case by case basis,” the spokesperson notes, “in this case in particular, the fact that the story broke on May 1 was certainly a factor.”

If the news had broke on April 29? Then The Times would have likely opened it up to everyone.

As for me, I haven’t hit the paywall limit yet since the The Times instituted their new system. This is probably because nearly every time I see a story from the paper, I get to it from Twitter or Facebook.

Twitter activity exploded during Obama’s announcement of bin Laden’s death

There was a lot of Twitter activity last night when President Barack Obama finally addressed the nation on the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. How much? Well…

From @twitterglobalpr, here are these tweets from earlier Monday afternoon. First:

Last night saw the highest sustained rate of Tweets ever. From 10:45 - 2:20am ET, there was an average of 3,000 Tweets per second [1/3]


At 11p.m. ET, there were 5,106 Tweets per second. At 11:45p.m. ET, when Pres. Obama finished his remarks, there were 5,008 TPS [2/3]


Note: The TPS numbers we reported last night were incomplete [3/3]

And CNBC sports business writer @darrenrovell puts that in context for us:

Twitter: At 11 p.m. ET, there were 5,106 Tweets/second. The record came on 1/1/11 when users in Japan sent 6,939 Tweets/second.

Yeah, that’s a lot of tweets. The last time I saw Twitter moving that fast, as I’ve said before, was during the Super Bowl.

They matched bin Laden’s DNA using sister’s brain

The United States confirmed that they killed Osama bin Laden using DNA. And the DNA that they used to confirm that it is his body came from his sister, according to ABC News.

Bin Laden's DNA was matched with that of one of his sisters who died in Boston and whose brain was kept by the United States. Then he was quickly buried at sea.

The Telegraph has more details:

When his sister, who has not been named, died from brain cancer several years ago in Boston the FBI immediately subpoenaed her body so that it could later be used to identify the al-Qaeda leader if he was caught, it was claimed.

The brain was preserved and tissue and blood samples taken from it were used to compile a DNA profile, ABC News reported.

The tissue sample was reportedly then matched to the DNA of the man shot dead by US troops in a raid on bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan.


Osama or Usama? Why is it spelled differently

I use Osama bin Laden because that is the Associated Press style. Most news organizations go by this, but some, most notably in recent hours Fox News, go with “Usama bin Laden.”

The FBI also goes with “Usama” instead of “Osama.” 

So why are there multiple different spellings of the name?

Arabic names often have multiple spellings. tackled this when talking about Muammar al-Gaddafi.


Transliteration is the reason – the transcription of a word, or in this case a name, into corresponding letters of another alphabet. The Arabic script is oftentimes unvocalized – in other words the vowels are rarely written out and must be furnished by a reader familiar with the language. As with Chinese and Hindi, the Arabic script contains a copious amount of diacritics – dots and accents added to a letter to change the sound. In addition, there seems to be an absence of any sort of authority for transliterating Arabic names.

The Arabic language is one of the most widely spoken Semitic languages in the world and the pronunciation of words varies with different across regions. Even among Arabic speakers, Arabic of North Africa is often incomprehensible to an Arabic speaker from the Gulf Region.


Even further back, Slate wrote about the multiple-spelling-conundrum of bin Laden’s name. They also cite transliteration, unsurprisingly (since, you know, that’s the reason).

This piece was from just a month and a half after 9/11.

The difficulty in Romanizing Arabic was illustrated in the 1980s by the multiple spellings for Libyan strongman Moammar/Muammar Gadaffi/Gaddafi/Gathafi/Kadafi/Kaddafi/Khadafy/Qadhafi/Qathafi/etc. The official Library of Congress transliteration would be “Qadhdhafi,” but the library opted for “Quaddafi” instead, because the “dhdh” looked so strange in English. In 1986, most publications, including the AP, adopted “Gadhafi” as the new standard. Why? The Libyan leader had sent letters to American schoolchildren and a minister. The typed name over his Arabic signature: Moammar El-Gadhafi. (Before that, he had refused to Romanize his name.) The AP stylebook says, “people are entitled to be known however they want to be known as long as their identities are clear.” (That explains the different spellings for King Hussain ofJordan and Saddam Hussein of Iraq, whose last names are identical in Arabic.)

How does Osama/Usama want his name to be spelled? In a document published by theWall Street Journal on Oct. 3, 2001, the al-Qaida leader Romanized his name as “Usama.” That hasn’t been enough to get the AP or Slate to change their stylebooks. Would an announcement on al-Jazeera do the trick?

So there you go. 

Note: Formatting updated.

Live video from the White House press room. Briefing on Osama bin Laden’s death.

Update (12:50 pm MDT): 

The press conference is now over.