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December 01, 2011


I've only been following it sporadically and second-hand. I do wonder whether similar levels of phone-hacking have been taking place in the US, and if not, why not?

And, on a completely other topic, does anyone happen to know anything about art history research? Specifically, how can I find out if there's any published scholarly work on this picture in the Rijksmuseum?

You may recall, Dr Science, that Newt Gingrich himself was the target of a similar (maybe even more egregious) level of phone-hacking back in the day.

A Florida couple managed to intercept and record John Boehner's cell phone transmissions during a House GOP conference call among Boehner, Gingrich and several others during which Gingrich admitted he was guilty of the ethics violations he was then being investigated for and explained various ways he had deceived investigators and reneged on agreements. The Floridians passed the recordings to the NY Times.

So, seems safe to assume this sort of thing is ongoing.

Since it's an open thread, may I get something of a political nature off my chest?

Gingrich is the perfect candidate for Obama to run against if O would finally grasp the nettle being endlessly shoved under his nose. Newt is centrally responsible for the GOP becoming what it is today, and he exemplifies it: casually incompetent, rampaging, wildly prolifigate, utterly cynical. The politics of insecurity. The politics of Newt. If O can run against Newt instead of Reagan, not only does it clarify the campaign beautifully, but Newt would most likely lose spectacularly. It's just what the GOP needs and also what the country needs.

thank you

Obama's team seems to think the same, jonnybutter. Currently they only attack Romney whi is obviously seen as far more dangerous.

Harmut: Running against Gingrich is politically dangerous too, since it's always possible he could win, which would be a much worse result than a president Romney. I just hope, if it comes to pass that the 'historian' wins the nomination, that team O has the vision to run against not just Gingrich himself - which is almost too easy, and therefore too easy to screw up - but to finally take direct aim at the extremely decadent GOP which Newt has had such a large hand in shaping. There's a much surer purchase there, and it would make life easier for them in a second term, and would also be beneficial for the GOP itself, in the long run.

I'm not one to ascribe more political power to the 'bully pulpit' than it actually has, but I also don't think there's any doubt that, politically speaking, Obama is essentially cowardl..I mean 'cautious'. Cautiousness, like boldness, and bipartisainship, and compromise, et. al. are not simply eternally appropriate values unto themselves; there's a time and place for each. So far, the political Obama seems to have only two tempi: molto adagio, and andante timoroso. Here's hoping we have a less mediocre campaign and election next time.

So, seems safe to assume this sort of thing is ongoing.
Depends what you mean by "this sort of thing." What happened in Britain was a massive and consistent use over many years of dialing into people's voice messages by the simple method of spoofing their phone number, and relying on the fact that most people are unwise enough to not use a password.

It's just that simple, though we could elaborate at length on the specifics of NEWS OF THE WORLD, News Corps., the individuals involved, and so on.

Intercepting live cell phone calls, on the other hand, is something entirely different, as is comparing sporadic random efforts by handfuls of individuals to a massive corporate ethic and practice that takes place within a specific context of the British news establishment, the "press barons," and their cozy relations with establishment politicians, who mutually need to suck up to each other.

If we want to discuss various forms of eavesdropping on phones in general, that's an even wider topic.

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