Salman Rushdie: ‘The Moment You Limit Free Speech It’s Not Free Speech’

From Mediaite:

The University of Vermont in Burlington invited Salman Rushdie to speak on campus Wednesday night, giving The Satanic Verses author a chance to deliver his most comprehensive response yet to the terrorist attack that targeting French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Rushdie used the opportunity to defend free speech as an absolute right that cannot be diminished just because you happen to disagree with what someone is trying to say.

Rushdie said Charlie Hebdo and its cartoonists were “beloved” in France for the willingness to make fun of anyone and everyone. “The thing that I really resent is the way in which these, our dead comrades… who died using the same implement that I use, which is a pen or pencil, have been almost immediately vilified and called racists and I don’t know what else,” he said.

Germany Bans Red Bull After Testing Positive For Cocaine

From BBC News:

The authorities in six German states have ordered retailers to stop selling Red Bull Cola energy drinks after traces of cocaine were found in it.

The recall came after a sample analysis conducted in North-Rhine Westphalia found one litre of the drink contained 0.4 micrograms of the banned substance.

Officials said the cocaine levels were too low to pose a health threat but were not permitted in foodstuffs.

Red Bull said its cola was “harmless and marketable” in both the US and EU.

Hidden Auschwitz Message Hailed as Rare Find

From Yahoo! News:

OSWIECIM, Poland – A note hidden in a bottle by Auschwitz prisoners 65 years ago in a desperate attempt to preserve a small piece of themselves was added Wednesday to the archives of the Polish state-run museum dedicated to the memory of the former Nazi death camp’s victims.

Museum Director Piotr Cywinski hailed the document — a list of the names of seven camp inmates that was discovered last month — as a rare discovery and a cause for celebration, given that at least three of the prisoners are still living today.

“This is a very clear sign of hope,” Cywinski said. “These young people put the message in a bottle to leave a sign. But not only the bottle survived — some of them also survived. This is very moving.”

The note, written in pencil on a scrap from a cement bag, was discovered by a construction crew renovating a cellar that was used by Nazis during World War II as a bunker and place to store food. The building is now on the grounds of a vocational school in Oswiecim, a town the Nazis called Auschwitz, whose director handed the note over to Cywinski in a ceremony.

One of the survivors, Waclaw Sobczak, recalled that he and his fellow inmates never expected to survive the camp and wanted to leave behind a trace of their lives.

“We did it so a sign of us would remain after we died,” said Sobczak, a diminutive 85 year old with thick white hair. “It was very risky and we had to be very careful putting it in the wall. We wanted at least our names and numbers to be left behind.”

The Espresso Book Machine Can Print Any of 500,000 Titles While You Wait

From The Guardian:

It’s not elegant and it’s not sexy – it looks like a large photocopier – but the Espresso Book Machine is being billed as the biggest change for the literary world since Gutenberg invented the printing press more than 500 years ago and made the mass production of books possible. Launching today at Blackwell’s Charing Cross Road branch in London, the machine prints and binds books on demand in five minutes, while customers wait.

Signalling the end, says Blackwell, to the frustration of being told by a bookseller that a title is out of print, or not in stock, the Espresso offers access to almost half a million books, from a facsimile of Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript for Alice in Wonderland to Mrs Beeton’s Book of Needlework. Blackwell hopes to increase this to over a million titles by the end of the summer – the equivalent of 23.6 miles of shelf space, or over 50 bookshops rolled into one. The majority of these books are currently out-of-copyright works, but Blackwell is working with publishers throughout the UK to increase access to in-copyright writings, and says the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

CNN Cuts Entire Science/Tech Team

Plenty of reporters still in their Britney Spears Department though:

CNN, the Cable News Network, announced yesterday that it will cut its entire science, technology, and environment news staff, including Miles O’Brien, its chief technology and environment correspondent, as well as six executive producers. Mediabistro’s TVNewser broke the story.

“We want to integrate environmental, science and technology reporting into the general editorial structure rather than have a stand alone unit,” said CNN spokesperson Barbara Levin. “Now that the bulk of our environmental coverage is being offered through the Planet in Peril franchise, which is produced by the Anderson Cooper 360 program, there is no need for a separate unit.”

A source at the network, who asked not to be named, said the move is a strategic and structural business decision to cut staff, unrelated to the current economic downturn. Financially, “CNN is doing very, very well,” the source said, and none of the health and medical news staff has been cut. Yet the big question, of course, is whether or not the reorganization will decrease the overall amount of CNN’s science, technology, and environment coverage. CNN says no, but it’s hard to imagine that it won’t—Anderson Cooper or not, fewer people is fewer people.

(via Gerry Canavan)