Does a threat of doxing constitute blackmail?

Merriam-Webster defines ‘dox’ to mean to “publicly identify or publish private information about (someone) especially as a form of punishment or revenge” and the practice is generally frowned upon. Some of you may be familiar with the recent case involving CNN and the person who modified an old video clip of Trump engaging in a phony wrestling fight with someone. This person had superimposed the CNN logo over the head of the person getting ‘pummeled’ by Trump and Trump had (of course) re-tweeted the clip. CNN uncovered the identity of the person who had created the video and in the process found out that he had also posted racist and anti-Semitic content on the web.
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Great moments in punditry

Clinton partisans among the Democrats are providing their own overheated rhetoric as they seek revenge for what they see as an election victory that was stolen from them by Russians. Paul Begala is a top Democratic insider and close confidante of the Clinton family who served as counselor to Bill Clinton when he was president. He is now a commentator on CNN. On Anderson Cooper’s show, he actually suggested that Donald Trump should “blow up” Russia’s KGB, GSU, or GRU (the intelligence services of that country) because “we were and are under attack by a hostile foreign power” and “should be retaliating massively”.
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Why are these books worth so much?

I have written before of my puzzlement at the huge advances paid by publishers for books by politicians and celebrities because I could not see how these books could possibly be interesting enough to recoup in sales what the publishers seemed to expect. At least when it comes to politicians, there is a ready-made market of their own political parties and partisan groups that may buy these books in bulk as gifts to be given out to loyalists. And when it comes to celebrities in the arts and sports worlds, there does seem to be a fascination with what they are ‘really’ like, an appeal that completely eludes me.
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Another exciting episode of ‘Adventures With Ordinary People’ by David Brooks

In a recent column, David Brooks of the New York Times describes the structural barriers that have been created that separate the rich from the rest of us and prevent the poor from making progress. He starts out reasonably enough.

Upper-middle-class parents have the means to spend two to three times more time with their preschool children than less affluent parents. Since 1996, education expenditures among the affluent have increased by almost 300 percent, while education spending among every other group is basically flat.

The most important is residential zoning restrictions. Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.

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When it comes to warmongering, the establishment is united

In reading the news, one would think that the mainstream media and the Trump administration are at loggerheads. But when it comes to warmongering, they are united. Note the strange silence surrounding Seymour Hersh’s reporting about the doubtful evidence that Syria had used sarin gas in the bombing in Idlib, Syria in April. Given that Donald Trump had made the use of that nerve gas as the prime reason for his launching of missiles at a Syrian airbase, you would think that they would have covered the story, even if just to refute it.
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The background to Susanna Reid’s epic put down of Smarmy Piers Morgan

Pretty much everyone must have seen the clip of the way that Smarmy Piers Morgan (I believe that is his full name) was hilariously put down by his TV co-host Susanna Reid, and the expression on his face as it slowly dawned on him that he was having his own words turned on him by his co-presenters. The clip has been rocketing around on Twitter and blogs, a sure sign of how everyone hates Morgan and are delighted at the opportunity to laugh at him. But there is some background to it.
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We would all be better off without Facebook

Being an old geezer, I don’t use Facebook even though I have an account. But I have been seeing increasing reports of how it has become a pernicious influence, not merely because it encourages the waste of time. Facebook has become a haven for the spreading of false information and generating hate and divisiveness. And what makes it worse is that Facebook is not neutral when it comes to monitoring hate speech and taking steps to combat it.
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Michelle Wolf gives Megyn Kelly her comeuppance

After wallowing in the mud at Fox News for a decade and reaping the huge rewards of being just another of their attack dogs, faithfully repeating the party line and viciously attacking people who disagreed with it when she was not being utterly ridiculous (she once made the claim that Santa Claus was white), Megyn Kelly has now moved to NBC and is trying to pass herself off as serious journalist. On her new show she landed an interview with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
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The new neighborliness

While the internet has been blamed for a decrease in person-to-person interactions and the increase in people checking their phones even when they are with someone in person, in other ways it has increased communication by enabling people to get in touch with like-minded people whom they would never have encountered before. Internet dating, for example, has enabled people to connect with people who share the same interests and whom they might never have found in the random interactions of daily life.
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