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Thirty Days in the Hole!

Cappuccino topped with dry milk foamWoke up this morning feeling half past dead, with this silly rock lyric running through my head.
The mailman was early and gave me a shout about something I had no idea about.
Then the garbage man jumped in screaming “Make America Great Again.”
Finally I had my morning covfefe and started thinking in prose once more – though my rock rhyming lingered for a while, that’s for sure.
I switched on the radio – that ancient listening device – and caught Humble Pie’s “30 Days in The Hole.”
Then I felt at home.
Suddenly it all made sense. I wasn’t having a lucid dream. This is reality. In the year 2018 we are now officially through the looking glass.

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Before you go too far . . .

Richard JeniThe late comedian Richard Jeni once said in reference to American politics if you’ve gone too far to the right or too far to the left then you’ve . . . gone too far.
And here we are in 2018. Our president says to the nation during a joint news conference how much he enjoys conflict and how happy his White House is. “Believe me everyone wants to work in the White House,” he said an hour before Gary Cohn became the latest to say “Not so fast.”

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UPDATED: Police charge and release teen suspect in Northwest HS social media threat

  • Published in Local

Northwest High SchoolNorthwest High School. COURTESY PHOTO  

Montgomery County Police charged a 15-year-old male student with “offenses relating to disrupting school operations” Friday after they worked with the high school’s staff to identify the suspect.

“Montgomery County Police (MCP) investigators, in coordination with administrative staff from Northwest High School, identified the suspect responsible for this social media post as a 15-year-old male student who attends Northwest High School,” police said.

Police charged the boy as a juvenile, and then returned him to the custody of his parents. Police referred the case to the Department of Juvenile Services for adjudication.

Police also advised parents to tell their children to tell an adult about a suspicious social media post, rather than share it on social media.

“MCP encourages parents to have a conversation with their children about responsible social media posts,” police said. “Parents are reminded to monitor their child’s social media accounts and encourage them to not to re-post or share rumors or threats.”

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Facebookin' on the Hill

Down with Hillary rallyI have covered several Congressional hearings on Capitol Hill for the Montgomery County Sentinel. That is what I do. However the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on social media influence in the 2016 U.S. election held on November 1st was like no other.
The usual Congressional hearings I have attended are like the hearing during which former CIA Director John Brennan testified before the House Intelligence Committee looking into the Russian influence in our 2016 presidential election. During that hearing it was difficult to tell if the Republican members and the Democrat members were there for the same purpose. While the Democrat questions dealt with Russian interaction with the Trump campaign, the Republican questions dealt primarily with Hillary Clinton's emails.
No such variation in questioning during the social media hearing on November 1st. During this hearing, to my surprise, both Republicans and Democrats were for the most part on the same page. Quite simply, their questions focused on the extent of the Russian use of social media to attempt to influence the outcome of the election, what is being done to prevent any recurrence of that improper use of social media AND why was nothing done earlier!

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ACLU Sues Hogan

  • Published in State

Blocking people on Facebook comes back to haunt governor and county takes notice

 

ROCKVILLE – Members of the Montgomery County Council say they’re taking notice after the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against Gov. Larry Hogan.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, alleges that Hogan’s staff members deleted comments and blocked constituents from viewing his Facebook page.

“The highest purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the right of Americans to engage in political speech and to petition the government to address their concerns," said Deborah Jeon, legal director for the ACLU of Maryland in a statement.

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Balancing the social media fix

 

gavel2 1 The Courts have made it clear that public employees do not give up all their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they make statements on matters in the public interest. However, those rights are balanced against the government’s interest in controlling the operation of its workforce. How these principles fit into today’s social media world was explored in an opinion last week from the federal 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in a case called Kevin Patrick Buker v. Howard County.

The opinion indicates that Buker was battalion chief with the Howard County Fire Department, which in their chain of command placed him below the fire chief and his assistants and deputies. The Department in 2012 published social media guidelines, which prohibited personnel “from posting or publishing any statements, endorsements, or other speech…which could reasonably be interpreted to represent or undermine the views or positions of the Department…or interpreted as discriminatory, harassing, defamatory, racially or ethnically derogatory, or sexually violent” which may put the Department in disrepute of negatively impact its mission. The Department also adopted a Code of Conduct barring conduct through actions or words disrespectful to or undermining the Chain of Command.

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In memory of ye old "Tip Line"

 

Walnuts

It was called the “Tip Line.”

Every newsroom had them and many still do. Every place I worked the tip line was attached to an answering machine which played a pre-recorded message and then recorded whatever tip the viewer or reader had to offer.

A human being, usually a younger producer, intern or desk assistant would listen to hear if the “tip” on the tip line was worth covering.

Many of the tips were not worthy of our attention. Some of the more memorable ones included the tip that Ronald Reagan and Oliver North were sitting naked on fence posts outside of an assembly hall in San Antonio.

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County Council reaches out via social media

  • Published in Local

facebook logoFor the County Council’s social media presence, “out with the old and in with the new” isn’t exactly the adage to live by.

According to County Council Legislative Information officer Neil Greenberger, the council’s social media team is continuing to utilize both traditional and modern forms of social media outreach.

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