The Week in Review 5/12/07

How to Sink a Newspaper
Free news for online customers is a disastrous business plan.
BY WALTER E. HUSSMAN JR.
One has to wonder how many of the newspaper industry’s current problems are self-inflicted. Take free news. News has become ubiquitous, free, and as a result, a commodity. Anytime you are trying to sell something that becomes a commodity, you have lost much of the value in providing that product or service.
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110010038

Comment: A fascinating look at how the Old Media is adapting – sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully – to the New Media technology.

Boos for Al-Hurrah
Your tax dollars at work in the Mideast.
We’ve been watching the debate over Al-Hurra, the U.S.-funded Middle East TV channel that has lately developed a reputation as a friendly forum for terrorists and Islamic radicals. A bipartisan group of Congressmen has called for Al-Hurra’s news director, former CNN producer Larry Register, to resign–and it’s time he and his supervisors gave taxpayers some answers.
Mr. Register’s defense has been, in essence, that if Al-Hurra doesn’t run anti-American content, no one will watch. He seems to have misunderstood his assignment: Al-Hurra is not meant to compete with Al-Jazeera but to offer an alternative view of the Middle East from those of either its dictators or jihadis.
http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html

Comment: Look, the Democrat leadership is anti-American, the main stream news organs are anti-American, why shouldn’t our government operated propaganda television stations be the same?

Untapped
By Jamie Glazov
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is John Ghazvinian, a visiting fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. He has a doctorate in history from Oxford and has written for Newsweek, the Nation, Time Out New York, and other publications. He is the author of the new book Untapped: The Scramble for Africa’s Oil.
http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=28236

Comment: An interesting, however brief, discussion of the plight of Africa from an oil perspective. This is not the first time I’ve read something that mentions China’s involvement there, and their long term interests in the continent.

Tucson Region
6,000-square-ft. ‘hobby room’ rejected
No one questioned the size of the hobby room when the Glenns submitted their building plans. But eight months and $100,000 into building the house, Pima County’s chief zoning inspector decided that was too much hobby for one house.
Indeed, she questioned whether it really was a house at all.
“It is my determination that the primary use of the property is clearly for ‘hobby’ and not for ‘single-family residence’ ” Chief Zoning Inspector Pat Thomas wrote in a letter revoking the Glenns’ building permit in November 2006 and ordering them to stop.
The Glenns lost an appeal to the Board of Adjustment and now are suing the county, seeking the restoration of their building permit and attorney’s fees.
“We believe the law says that if you follow all the rules and spend all the money associated with following the process of getting a building permit, your right to that building permit becomes vested,” said Patrick Lopez, the Glenns’ attorney. “They can’t take it away.”
http://www.azstarnet.com/dailystar/182571

Comment: This is an unbelievably raw deal. It’s bad enough that “property owners” have to get permission from the king to build anything, but now the king sees no problem in whimsically changing his mind half way through the project. Maybe the king should reimburse the peasants as a gesture of his boundless love.

The Skinny
By JIM NINTZEL and MARGARET REGAN
MO’ MONEY
One week after County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry released his proposed budget, City Manager Mike Hein showed us his spending plan.
Hein wants to spend $1.25 billion, which is about $152.6 million more than the city is spending this year.
Most of the increase–about $104.3 million–is in money from grants, bonds and other so-called restricted funds that the council has little control over.
The general fund–the portion of the budget that the City Council can play with, which covers expenses like police, fire, transportation and parks–is increasing by about $32 million, thanks to increased revenues and the use of some money the city had stashed away.
http://www.tucsonweekly.com/gbase/Opinion/Content?oid=oid:95952

Comment: Our friend Jim Nintzel delivers the bad news about the proposed City budget, and trashes the fee that the Democratics used to hate (until it was theirs).