Media Guy's Pop Pick: Foreign Press-o-Meter

Our Columnist's Current Media Obsession

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Last week The New York Times reported that the Homeland Security Department has given a $2.4 million grant to a consortium of major universities, including Cornell and the University of Utah, that will allow the government to conduct "sentiment analysis" on the foreign press. The software is, according to a government spokesperson, intended to "identify common patterns from numerous sources of information which might be indicative of potential threats to the nation."
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Seriously? A government that couldn't make heads or tails of blunt English like "Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S." and "Any storm rated Category 4 or greater ... will likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching" is now spending millions on an electronic clipping service to find just how much, and in what ways, foreign journalists and their subjects hate us? Does Homeland Security really think that terrorists are doing Q&A's with, say, The Baghdad Bugle, spelling out "potential threats" to the U.S. in specific terms? Is this really happening?
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