Utah Highway Patrol taser guy for speeding violation

November 22, 2007

News:  Another law enforcement official resorts to tasering a person, almost as if it’s the first response to any encounter with a person.  (More)

Analysis: This is getting out of hand.

Vancouver Airport police taser killing

November 16, 2007

News: On October 14, RCMP officers at Vancouver Airport tasered a Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, who was traveling for the first time on an airplane to relocate to Canada with his mother. Mr. Dziekanski spoke Polish, so he may not have understood everything going on at the customs check point. He became agitated, and then Canadian police officers came in and soon tasered Mr. Dziekanski several times. He died right after the tasering. (More)

VIEWER DISCRETION: This video is the raw footage of what happened taken by a bystander. It is unedited. It contains disturbing scenes of Mr. Dziekanski getting tasered, falling to the ground, and then dying. I believe this is a newsworthy video, but viewer discretion is advised.

Analysis: I’m not an expert in airport customs procedures or the use of tasers. But what happened here is quite disturbing to me. If anyone knows the general safety of tasering, please comment.

Teacher Cristina Mallon resigns after cheerleading routine on YouTube

November 14, 2007

News: Cristina Mallon, an English teacher and cheerleading coach at a high school in Gilbert, Arizona, has reportedly resigned. The cheer coach had showed her class a short routine in class. After video of the routine made its way on YouTube, the school put her on paid leave. She later returned to class, only to face criticism from a few parents for selecting the book Jake Reinvented for the class reading list.

Analysis: Unless I’m missing something, I think the school board should not accept her resignation, but should stand by her. The ultimate question is whether she is a good teacher. I haven’t heard any criticism of her abilities as a teacher, particularly not from any students or school administrators.  Had a male high school teacher performed a cheer in class, I doubt there would have been the same kind of response.

NOTE:  I would love to hear your reaction to this incident, so please comment.  Am I right, she should keep her job?

Does YouTube have a “girl fight” problem?

October 11, 2007

News: In Norwood Middle School, in a suburb in Ohio, a 13-year-old eighth grader beat up a 12-year-old girl in the locker room. The 13-year-old had her friend videotape the beating and it was later posted on YouTube. After much complaining, the victim’s parents and school officials eventually got the video removed from YouTube. But it still exists in a news video posted by a Cincinnati news station.

Video contains violence: viewer discretion advised

Analysis: This is a serious problem. Schools need to investigate why teenagers are engaging in this kind of behavior and develop a “zero tolerance” policy. And YouTube needs to get more involved, too. If you type in “girl fight” on YouTube, there seem to be numerous videos of young girls fighting. (I’m guessing there are videos of guys fighting, too.) I haven’t watched all these fight videos (it’s possible some have already been removed), but here’s one video that is shockingly still up on YouTube. The video was posted a year ago on YouTube and has over 880,000 views. I debated whether even to include the video, but I concluded that it may help to focus attention on what’s really going on.

Video contains violence and profanity: viewer discretion advised

I’m not sure what exactly is the right answer. Obviously, you want to stop these fights from happening. But if you can’t, there is some benefit in having a video — it’s powerful evidence that law enforcement can later use to catch and prosecute the perpetrators.

Female high school teacher suspended for “cheerleading” routine on YouTube

October 7, 2007

News: A female high school teacher in Gilbert, Arizona reportedly has been suspended (or placed on paid administrative leave) over a “cheerleading” routine she performed in front of her students. One of her students videotaped it on a cellphone and then posted it on YouTube. On YouTube, the teacher is described as a “humanities” teacher and cheerleading coach. (More) Her name is Christina Mallon, and she teaches at Williams Field High School.

Analysis: I haven’t visited a high school in a while, but it’s my understanding that cheerleaders in high school perform these kinds of somewhat provocative routines. I don’t know why the teacher would be performing this in class, though. Based on what I heard, a suspension seems like an overreaction. She’s the cheer coach.

UPDATE: One of her students explains what happened and defends his teacher: “She said she was nervous, she didn’t want to do it, but we just asked her if we could see the new cheer for the game and she did it,” 10th grader Chase Pruitt said. “It was nice there was nothing wrong with that.” (More)

For updated coverage, visit here.

Off topic, but check out this interview for Toobla:

Video of the week: To catch a thief on YouTube

August 10, 2007

Guy steals laptop.  Caught on video.  Video posted on YouTube.  And then:  According to a New Zealand paper, “One viewer recognized the man [on YouTube] and alerted police. Dawson Anthony Bliss, 50, was convicted of theft in Greymouth District Court on Thursday after pleading guilty.”  (More)

Video of the Minnesota bridge collapse on YouTube

August 2, 2007

News: The Minnesota Department of Transportation just released video of the collapse of the bridge as it happened. You can see it on the NYT blog and on YouTube. At least 4 deaths have been reported, with many more people still missing (from NPR).

UPDATE:  here’s video of the bridge after the collapse.

Priest in Australia has tirade against skateboarders on YouTube

August 2, 2007

News: Reverend Monsignor Geoff Baron, dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Australia, was put on leave by Archbishop Denis Hart, following Baron’s complete meltdown with teenage skateboarders on church property. The kids egged the priest on with their insults and conduct, and then the priest completely lost it, launching into a tirade filled with expletives and even racist comments against one Asian boy. (More here)

Viewer discretion advised: The video is very disturbing and filled with some bad language (not to mention behavior). The teenagers were wrong for some of the things they said and for not leaving or respecting the property. But the priest was totally out of line and should be publicly reprimanded by the Church–“indefinite leave” is meaningless unless the Church says what he did was wrong. For him to say the things he did and even make fun of the “foreigner” Asian boy’s eyes was absolutely beyond the pale.

We’re living in the video world

July 26, 2007

News:  Pew Internet just released its report about video use on the Internet.  The results are eye-popping.

76% of Internet users between 18-29 watch online videos, and 57% of all adult Internet users.

49% of users between 18-29 watch videos on YouTube (compared to 15% for MySpace).

The most surprising stat to me:  62% of adult Internet users say they prefer “professional” videos over “amateur” ones; 19% prefer amateur; and 11% enjoy both equally.  For young adult men, the numbers are much more evenly distributed (which may explain why I’m surprised!). 

Another interesting stat:  57% of people polled watched videos online with others and shared links of videos with others.  73% of 18-29 year olds have watched with others and 66% have shared links with others.  The linking phenomenon helps explain how videos go viral.

Video of the week: Simon Cowell, on being stoned

March 16, 2007

Schoolyard fight on YouTube leads to arrest

January 18, 2007

News:  Three high school girls beat up a 13 year old girl outside of a school.  The bullies pulled the girl’s hair, while she lay prone on the ground, and they punched her repeatedly.  Of course, the bullies videotaped themselves and stuck it on YouTube and MySpace.  After the video received a lot of publicity, school officials found out and notified Suffolk County police, who just arrested the three girls who beat up the other girl.  (More here)

Analysis:   I’m glad the girls got caught.  But I have mixed feelings about YouTube’s role in all this.  On the one hand, it’s definitely good that the police could use the YouTube video to identify the perpetrators of the beating.  On the other hand, I wonder whether YouTube should evaluate its own policies in allowing so many beating and fight videos up freely on its site.  I worry that teenagers and others might now be enjoying more getting into fights, so they can videotape their exploits and put them up on the web.  If you type in “girl beating girl” on YouTube, you get some 2,347 videos.   (You’d probably find some other fight videos if you type in some other search terms.) Some of these videos may not be actual fights, but I’m pretty sure that many are.

I’m not sure what the best policy for YouTube would be, but I think YouTube needs to study the issue at the very least.  In the end, maybe they need to ban all such fight videos from its site — after all, the postings on YouTube might be unintentionally promoting criminal acts.  The downside of such a ban would be that without the videos, it’s unlikely the police would ever investigate the fights.  I wonder, though, whether that’s likely to happen anyway, the Suffolk County case notwithstanding.

Daniela Cicarelli video — explaining herself on YouTube

January 10, 2007

The Brazilian model Daniela Cicarelli, whose sex video caused a Brazilian court to shut down YouTube in Brazil for one day, apparently explains her thoughts about what happened. I say apparently because the video is in Spanish [oops] Portuguese, and I need someone to help out with a translation. Please submit a comment if you can translate. Thanks.

UPDATE:  I’m still working on a full translation.  From press reports, Daniela Cicarelli tries to do a little bit of damage control after thousands of Brazilians were upset by the judge’s shutdown of YouTube.  Some Brazilians organized an e-mail protest against her and proposed boycotting her MTV show.  Cicarelli said she didn’t bring the lawsuit (her boyfriend, who was also in the sex video, did on his own behalf).  Unrepetant about the 1-day shutdown of YouTube in Brazil, Cicarelli explained, “I don’t have to say I’m sorry about anything because it’s not my fault. I don’t have anything to do with that request, nor with the decision.” (more here

Three children hang themselves after watching Saddam Hussein hanging video

January 6, 2007

News: A 10-year-old boy in Texas, a 9-year-old boy in Pakistan, and a 15 year-old girl in India all died this week — after they hanged themselves. Each had watched the Saddam Hussein hanging video. It’s not clear whether any were attempting suicide, or were merely mimicking what they saw on the video. (More from ABC News)

Analysis: In one case, the boy saw the video on the news. There’s been no suggestion that any of the children saw the video on the Internet (or YouTube for that matter). But the tragedies do raise a legitimate question about the hundreds of copies of the Hussein execution on YouTube. Even if they are flagged and restricted for users over 18, there’s no real way to verify age on YouTube.

Off topic, but check out this cool new site called Toobla:

YouTube takes down sex video of Daniela Cicarelli — again

January 6, 2007

News: YouTube spokesperson Jaime Schopflin said that YouTube has removed (another copy of) the video of Daniela Cicarelli having sex on the beach with her boyfriend. Yesterday, a Brazilian court ordered YouTube to stop service in Brazil unless it removed all video clips of Brazilian model Daniela Cicarelli having sex on the beach. YouTube had removed the sex video before, but another copy (if not copies) resurfaced on YouTube after being uploaded by YouTube user(s). The case in Brazil reportedly will go to a 3-judge court, which will determine the extent of penalty on YouTube (up to $119,000 per day) for the period in which the video was on YouTube in spite of the lower court’s order. (More from SJ Mercury News)

Analysis: Let’s hope this puts an end to the entire affair.

Off topic, but, if you have time, check out this restaurant review:

And this interview of Toobla.com:

Brazilian court orders YouTube shutdown for sex video of model Daniela Cicarelli

January 4, 2007

News: A Brazlian court has reportedly ordered YouTube to shut down its service until all it removes all video clips of model Daniela Cicarelli having sex with her boyfriend on the beach, apparently in broad daylight. Of course, YouTube has removed these clips, but other users apparently have reposted them onto YouTube, forcing YouTube to try to remove them again. It’s not clear from the report whether there still is a problem, or the extent of it. (More from The Register)

Analysis: Without seeing the Brazilian court order, it’s hard to say whether it is as bad (overbroad) as it sounds. One commentator suggests here that YouTube must pay a fine and must remove all of the sex videos or make its site unavailable in Brazil (which allegedly is the second largest user of YouTube). Unless YouTube visually inspects every single video clip (of the 65,000 that are uploaded each day), it’s practically impossible to prevent one clip of a sex video from slipping through YouTube’s monitoring or uploading procedure. Thankfully, because YouTube is located in the U.S. (where the First Amendment applies), enforcement of the Brazilian court order (assuming it is as broad as it sounds) would not fly in the U.S. No U.S. court would order a complete shutdown of the site for one sex video, given the First Amendment violation that such an overbroad order would cause.  Of course, YouTube wants to be in good standing in Brazil, so I’m sure will appeal the court order there.

Off topic, but you should check out this interview for Toobla:

Amnesty International attacks video of Saddam Hussein execution and “YouTube generation”

January 4, 2007

News:  Amnesty International has condemned the execution of Saddam Hussein and the release of the video of the hanging.  That’s not all.  Amnesty International has taken a pot shot at YouTube.  “Welcome to the sordid world of the execution chamber, brought to you by the YouTube generation,” Amnesty International reportedly said.  (more from The Independent)

Analysis:   OK, sorry, I’m still posting on this topic, but the reference to YouTube was too hard to leave alone.  I think the reference is a bit unfair, but it does make me wonder whether YouTube should be allowing hundreds and hundreds of Saddam Hussein hanging videos on its site.

Fallout from video of Saddam Hussein’s execution (hanging)

January 3, 2007

News: CNN reports that Iraqi officials have detained the security guard who shot video from his cellphone of Saddam Hussein’s hanging. Apparently, several guards taunted Hussein just before he was about to be hanged. According to CNN, the exchange took place as follows:

After Hussein offers prayers, the guards shout praise for Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric whose father is believed to have been murdered by Hussein’s regime.

They chant, “Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada!”

Hussein smiles. “Is this how you show your bravery as men?” he asks.

“Straight to hell,” someone shouts back at him.

“Is this the bravery of Arabs?” Hussein asks.

A sole voice is heard trying to silence the taunts.

“Please, I am begging you not to,” the unknown man [the chief prosecutor] says. “The man is being executed.”

Analysis: I thought I could avoid talking about this topic, but the newsworthiness of the issue deserves some comment. I have not watched the execution video, nor do I intend to. But I do find it somewhat ironic for the Iraqi officials now to be worried about how Saddam Hussein was treated on video. After all, the man was about to be hanged by official state sentence. And, at least according to my understanding, Iraqi officials had planned on allowing a release of video of the execution, so people there could witness it (whether as proof of death or sign of atonement). The fact that a guard took his own video on his cell phone, with others and perhaps himself taunting Hussein, might have been improper, but it probably only added insult to injury (the execution). And if atonement is one of the purposes of a public execution, then you might have to expect even some taunting of a man sentenced to die. True, probably not from a security guard, but the new Iraqi government probably hasn’t had that much time to train its security force.

The Pandora’s box was opened when Iraqi officials allowed any video taping of Saddam’s execution in the first place. Once Pandora’s box was opened, it was foreseeable that a guard or bystander might video the execution on his cellphone, or that hundreds of video clips of Hussein’s execution (including some that may be only spoofs) would find their way onto YouTube and other sites. This is probably all I’ll say on the topic, since it’s way beyond my expertise.