April 29, 2005

President Bush hints at actual proposal on Social Security, offers I-told-you-so on gas prices 

U.S. President George W. Bush last night held the first prime-time news conference of his second term, an appearance "hastily arranged" according to the NPR report on All Things Considered. Among the highlights were the first details of what might become an actual proposal to deal with the putative Social Security funding crisis. It actually looks like the President may propose something that looks like a "progressive" benefit, with lower-income workers gaining more over time than higher-income beneficiaries. We'll see how that works out if it comes to real legislation in our, er, progressive Congress. The President also suggested that today's gas prices reflect the cost of inaction on the energy policies he proposed five years ago. Which is to say we should have been drilling for more oil in more places all along, just like he wants us to do now. You can still write off a big chunk of the cost of your Hummer H2, but that has nothing to do with energy policy, does it? If you missed President Bush's news conference last night, you can hear the whole thing right here: RealAudio filestreaming RealAudio file MP3 downloadMP3 download

April 28, 2005

More budget cuts coming at the University of Illinois 

A reliable source reports this morning that "University Officials are asking all colleges/departments to plan for a four-percent cut in our state appropriation which we receive from the University in each of the next two, possibly three, fiscal years." Have a nice day!

WILL Special Events Archives 

Either we're too ambitious or have too much time on our hands. Lately we're out there videotaping things seemingly just for the heck of it. But all of it has value, so we just set up a web page for our community events streaming archives. Hope you enjoy it as the thing grows. Here are some sample images from one recent event, the Illinois/Kiwanis Club Annual Basketball Banquet, held April 12th at the Urbana Holiday Inn. Illinois Basketball head coach Bruce Weber Given the amazing season in this Centennial-year celebration of Illinois basketball, you might say there was some love in the room. Bruce Weber even had his voice mostly back. I spoke with the very talented forward Warren Carter as this event was wrapping up, who seemed to not be thrilled that conditioning work was to start the next morning. I'd gladly trade places with him, but the shoes wouldn't fit. Ice sculpture of Chief Illiniwek I'm throwing this in here just for, um, 'fun,' since it seems the controversy over Chief Illiniwek got a bit lost amid the quest for Illinois' first national basketball championship. This ice sculpture of the Chief withstood the lights for one night, but it's probably melted by this time. A metaphor perhaps?

New CPB head likes media consolidation, doesn't like NPR 

The reaction to one episode of Postcards from Buster spoiled the short tenure of Kathleen Cox as president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the federal entity that funds public radio and television. Following that embarassing little spat, President Bush has now given the reins to the man who spearheaded the recent FCC effort to relax media ownership restrictions. And who apparently doesn't know anything about NPR or public radio, and rarely watches public television. Ken Ferree served as head of the FCC's media bureau, and was the point man on the commission's attempt to loosen media cross-ownership rules and other limits on corporate media ownership. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, he says he doesn't listen to NPR because he commutes to work on his motorcycle, and likes People magazine. He equates the "Lehrer thing" to Shakespeare, which is too slow for his taste. The good news for us is Mr. Ferree likes the Internet, and sees interactive media as a promising terrain for public broadcasting. I couldn't agree more...maybe we'll see a Corporation for Public Blogcasting in the days ahead!

April 19, 2005

Pope trumps Bush and Lincoln 

Oh well, we go with Plan B, which is the announcement of the new Pope. I was thinking it would be Bono, but instead they selected Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger of Germany to succeed Pope John Paul II. He will be known as Benedict XVI. THIS EVENING AT 7...WILL-AM will air a special program including highlights of the dedication of the Lincoln Library and Museum, and the news conference during which Richard Herman was announced as the Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Slow news day...

Bush and Lincoln meet in Springfield 

Actually only in the loosest possible sense, since they don't live in the same century. President Bush appears in Springfield, Illinois in a few minutes (11 am CDT) to dedicate the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Musuem. WILL-AM will carry the event live, courtesy of WUIS 91.9. Check it out on WILL's live stream, and we'll have it archived immediately after the event.

April 15, 2005

Free speech in wartime 

(Cue the patriotic theme music...) WILLblog likes to stand up for free speech, at least partially because we can't seem to hold our tongue very well. We have principled reasons as well, including a commitment to serving the common good, building community, and faith in the U.S. Constitution. Not surprisingly, political tolerance of free speech is most severely tested in times of conflict and especially times of war. In terms of upholding our own cherished principles, we've reacted badly in past wars, but have always repented when the war was over. According to many of our national leaders, the U.S. is now engaged in a very long-term, possibly endless war on terror. With that as a set-up, I'll point you to the audio archives from today's Focus 580 program on "Perilous Times Free Speech In Wartime: From The Sedition Act of 1798 to The War On Terrorism," with Geoffrey R. Stone, the Harry Kalven Jr. Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago. Either it was a great program, or we're guilty of sedition.

April 09, 2005

The coming media chaos 

WILL might seem like a somewhat stodgy and traditional public broadcasting operation. Which is mostly a good thing, since that tradition includes the commitment to serving the public interest, education in the broadest sense, community, that kind of thing, which is now laughably passe among the consolidated and thoroughly profit-oriented commercial broadcast media. But we're really rooting for the coming chaos that will almost certainly shock and awe the broadcast media universe in the coming five years. I'm talking about the power and utility of the Internet, which finally is starting to look like it could actually undermine the entire flawed big media structure. If you want a peek at the coming media chaos, and the reactions of panic and denial from the networks and advertising industry, check out Bob Garfield's story from yesterday's All Things Considered on NPR, An Impending Period of Transitional Chaos for Media. The handful of media megaconglomerates who control what you see, hear, and read on just about every traditional media outlet, and who reap hundreds of billions every year in advertising dollars, may yet find a way to lock up all "intellectual property" on the Internet. The Supreme Court may help them by ruling that technologies that enable us to share files are verboten. The interests who want you to sit passively and consume their messages and products without creating your own may mold the world wide web in the shape of 20th century commercial media. Not if we can help it.

April 07, 2005

CPB names ombudspeople 

This just in: The CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING has named former NBC newsman KEN BODE and ex-READER'S DIGEST editor WILLIAM SCHULZ as ombudsmen to review the work of NPR, PBS, and other public radio and TV outlets. The move may be related to recent criticism of public broadcasting for programming the critics say exhibits liberal bias; NPR already has its own ombudsman, JEFFREY DWORKIN, and PBS is hiring one.

Farewell to Pope John Paul II 

NPR has done a nice job commemorating the life and impact of Pope John Paul II on the NPR site, and will be providing live coverage of the Pope's funeral beginning at 2:45 am CDT tomorrow.

April 05, 2005

Steve Coll, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, on Today's Aft Mag 

If you missed Celeste Quinn's interview today with Steve Coll, who yesterday won a Pulitzer Prize for his book GHOST WARS: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE CIA, AFGHANISTAN, AND BIN LADEN FROM THE SOVIET INVASION TO SEPTEMBER 10, 2001, you can catch the archive on the Aft Mag web page. Or if you subscribed to the Aft Mag Podcast RSS feed, you've probably already got it.

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