|April, 2008 link archive
Tuesday, April 1, 2008Analysts agree that the 'Iraqi crackdown backfires and strengthens Sadrists,' including a scholar of Shiite politics who proclaims "the birth of Sadrist power," and Patrick Cockburn tells an interviewer that "Muqtada leads the only real mass movement in Iraq."
Juan Cole offers three reasons 'Why al-Maliki attacked Basra,' and Gareth Porter, reporting on how an 'Embarrassed U.S. starts to disown Basra operation,' contends, "suggestions that it was al-Maliki who miscalculated in Basra are clearly false." Plus: the peacemaker is a terrorist?
Nir Rosen tells "Democracy Now!" that "Iraq has become Somalia," and with civilian deaths at the highest level since August, plans to cut U.K. troops in Iraq are put on hold, and a U.S. junior officer serving in Iraq writes that it's "almost impossible to find a purpose in what we do."
Charles Ferguson's documentary "No End in Sight" is now a 641-page book, in which he "reports the 'stunningly unanimous opinion' among his interviewees 'that the surge is producing no lasting military or security benefit whatsoever.'" Plus: 'GOP to go on Iraq message offensive.'
Events in Iraq shoot up to 12 percent of the "newshole," Politico examines the lack of a mass audience for anti-war songs, and the New Yorker looks at 'coming-home movies' in reviewing "Stop Loss," as conservatives celebrate its box-office failure.
With talk that the Bush administration wants to talk about a possible compromise on FISA legislation, the Los Angeles Times reports that Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell "has drawn lawmakers' ire largely because the Bush administration has put him in the unusual role of intelligence community lobbyist."
As the GAO 'blasts weapons budget' in its annual assessment, the U.S. Air Force is reportedly "being forced to pull manned-aircraft pilots from deployments around the world and bring them to Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, to pilot the drones" being used in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Sen. McCain begins a week-long biographical tour in Meridian, MS, Alternet publishes an excerpt from "Free Ride," and Charlie Rose is the latest to falsely claim that McCain called for the resignation of Donald Rumsfeld. Plus: Those were the days.
As CNN calls in the doctor for Lou Dobbs, a Gallup poll finds agreement between Democrats and Republicans, and looking behind "The Clinton Firewall," David Sirota argues that "The 'just wait until the next states' mantra has diverted our attention from ... a well-honed strategy aimed at maximizing 'the Race Chasm.'"
Following recent high-profile resignations, the Guardian asks, 'So what's going on at Al-Jazeera English?' And as Afghan officials accuse a popular TV channel of broadcasting "immoral and un-Islamic" programs, a 'Saudi cleric calls for the death of two journalists - unless they repent.'
As it's reported that 'Hamas's insults to Jews complicate peace,' a 'Hamas TV puppet "kills" Bush for helping Israel,' and a Human Rights Watch report calls on Israel to 'End systematic bias against Bedouin.'
Sen. Obama's TV spot claiming that he doesn't take money from oil companies gets a fact check, it's reminded that "not all biofuels are created equal," and as oil company execs testify before Congress, oil revenues are taken sky-high.
Democrats and consumer groups criticize what is described as "the most sweeping overhaul of regulations for the financial industry since the Great Depression," OMB Watch launches a Regulatory Resource Center, and a Federal Times article details the brief against the Bush administration on consumer products safety.
As the 'Feds sue Wal-Mart over airman's job,' the advertising arm of the Council of Better Business Bureaus disputes Wal-Mart's claim that the average family saves $2,500 by shopping at its stores, and the company continues to take heat over its lawsuit against a brain-damaged former employee.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
As Vanity Fair reports on 'The Green Light,' John Yoo's 2003 "torture memo" is also described as "a green light for military interrogators to use just about any technique the Pentagon deemed useful," and one observer is struck by Yoo's 'utter glib certainty.'
A "Countdown" segment address issues raised in Glenn Greenwald's post on "Michael Mukasey's tearful lies," as a new NIE on Iraq is downgraded to "more or less an assessment memo, an update to policy makers."
U.S. officials continue efforts to disown al-Maliki's Basra operation, during which the studios of the U.S.-funded Al-Iraqiya TV station were reportedly "ransacked and torched." Plus: 'The other Iraqi civil war.'
As Sen. John McCain begins to develop a cleric problem, both Sens. Obama and Clinton have reportedly "been cleaning his clock among business interests that give mainly to Republicans," and Jay Rosen asks: Is it war?
With Black America said to have "succeeded in rendering itself totally irrelevant this election season," Obama is accused of misleading voters in saying, "We can't afford to stay in Iraq, like John McCain said, for another hundred years," and frustration is expressed over 'Obama's disappointing incrementalism on Cuba.'
You'll Laugh, You'll Cry! Howard Zinn adopts a cartoon format for his new book, "A People's History of American Empire," and it's pointed out that a New York Times timeline of the Iraq war ignores "what was arguably the single largest day of protest in recorded human history."
Richard Clarke is among those reviewing Steve Coll's new book on "The Bin Ladens," which Coll discussed Tuesday on "Fresh Air," and in an online forum, where he was asked: "Biggest Bush mistake re: Osama?"
The new top official in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province tells McClatchy that "We will be making a request to the U.S. government, that please stop this thing because it is only adding to the problem."
As China accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of plotting suicide attacks, a review of a new book on the Dalai Lama, by Pico Iyer, notes "that he has been forced to walk a difficult rhetorical line, accusing China of 'cultural genocide' while still supporting its stewardship of the Olympic Games."
The group Dreams for Darfur is trying to pressure China by branding the 2008 games the "Genocide Olympics," a tagline floated in a Wall Street Journal editorial co-written by Mia Farrow, who plans to host a "Live From the Camps" broadcast during the Olympics.
As the Federal Reserve chairman 'Warns of possible recession,' lawmakers are said to have been 'unmoved by Big Oil's arguments,' during hearings at which Rep. Ed Markey asked the head of Exxon Mobil, why the company is investing only $100 million a year in renewables.
The Bush administration's "biggest use of legal waivers" since it started building the U.S.-Mexico border fence, will reportedly "not affect the legal battles between Homeland Security and private landowners."
Jesse Ventura makes an April Fool's Day appearance -- video and text -- on "Larry King Live," one of the nearly 40 planned for his new book, about which a columnist who covered him wrote: "'Don't Start the Revolution Without Me!'? That's rich."
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Moqtada al-Sadr calls for one million Iraqis to march next week against the U.S. "occupation," U.S. officials give their version of events on Basra planning, and Prime Minister al-Maliki now vows to crackdown in Baghdad. But, 'Can Iraq's soldiers fight?'
Sen. John McCain's 'century-long problem' includes telling Time's Joe Klein in January that Basra was "not a problem," and the Los Angeles Times reports that Sens. Clinton and Obama have been "equally peripheral to the Iraq war debate, but he has not claimed a similar leadership role."
As the 'Military feels fuel-cost gouge in Iraq,' and 'Iran torpedoes U.S. plans for Iraqi oil,' it's observed that "throughout the history of oil reporting, there has been one major aspect that the press has remained largely silent on: peak oil."
While "consumer interest in Iraq has crept downward since last summer," writes Eric Boehlert, "it certainly hasn't plummeted by 87 percent, the way the news coverage has." One TV-land example: of the 7,000-plus words broadcast on "Countdown" last Thursday, during the fighting in Basra, roughly 100 were about the Iraq war.
The 2003 John Yoo memo 'Sheds new light on torture issue,' a footnote raises questions about the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, and "Democracy Now!" interviews attorney Philippe Sands about his Vanity Fair article on "The Green Light." Plus: 'Yoo Talkin' to Me?'
The ACLU claims that the Department of Defense is enlisting the FBI to obtain national security letters, and the Army Times reports that the DOD will begin demanding "the exact same access to student directories that is provided to all other prospective employers."
One IPS article examines the scant attention paid to long-known details of the plot "exposed" in Vanity Fair's "The Gaza Bombshell," another reports on 'Whispers for engagement with Hamas,' and Orion looks at 'Terrorism, wilderness, and the Israeli security wall.'
Jordan's Queen Rania launches a YouTube channel to break down stereotypes about the Arab world, and leaders of an organization founded by the late Marla Ruzicka, who was killed in Iraq, reach out to victims on both sides of the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war. Plus: 'going out with a bong?'
Three swing-state polls have Clinton besting Obama in a match up with McCain, a reporter finds that in Pennsylvania, 'Clinton's version of the '90s is a little airbrushed," and she's accused of "lying ... about outsourcing," based on statements she made during a 2005 trip to India. And, could North Carolina be the end?
Obama is hit for a 'lackluster record on education,' and a GQ interview with Karl Rove, prompts a prediction that "should Obama be the nominee, we're going to see a GOP assault very similar to what hit Gore and Kerry -- Obama thinks he's better than you ordinary Joes, and he thinks patriotism is for rubes. Get ready."
"So?" In his book "Against the Tide," former Sen. Lincoln Chafee says that one day after the 2000 election had been decided, Vice President Cheney was already planning "confrontation on every front," and, saying "that our actions in office would not be dictated by what had to be said in the campaign."
For dropping its claim against Deborah Shank, Wal-Mart is seen as having made some kind of "deal with terrorists," Bill O'Reilly is again shut out as the winners of the 2007 Peabody Awards are announced, and two Berliner Zeitung reporters admit that they were Stasi informants.
As a D.C. conference on sugar is found to be artificially sweetened, Mexico, which is set to "surpass the U.S. as the most obese country within 10 years if trends continue," is hit with a violent wave of emo-bashing, but for the black-clad victims, there is a color-coordinated recourse.
Friday, April 4, 2008
Reporting on a surge-supporting NIE that the public can't see, and which doesn't take into account the battle of Basra, the Wall Street Journal notes that Democrats are skeptical of what appears to be "more of a political document than an intelligence document," and are calling for a public release.
As the much anticipated appearance of Gen. Petraeus on Capitol Hill approaches, Congress hears advance testimony from Iraq war critics William Odom (.pdf) and Nir Rosen (.pdf), and Tom Engelhardt contends that, given the continuing confusion of imperial and Iraqi interests, Petraeus' "testimony cannot help but be delusional."
A Nation report on 'Another KBR Rape Case' in Iraq which took place in January 2008, notes that one Houston law firm alone has 15 clients with "sexual assault, sexual harassment and retaliation" allegations about KBR or its affiliates, but hopes for redress look dim.
By calling last week's battle of Basra a "defining moment," and assuring Ukraine and Georgia of support for admission into NATO, President Bush has in both cases, Fred Kaplan contends, managed to turn "status quo into defeat." Plus: 'Great Minds Think Alike.'
Although 'NATO vows to bolster troops in Afghanistan,' an analysis in the Guardian notes that there were few firm pledges of reinforcements, as the U.S.-led forces are said to be grappling with an increasingly complex border situation.
As the 'Guantanamo endgame' approaches, a military censor stands ready to block any testimony of abuse, and John Yoo in an Esquire interview, insists that he made it clear that "the Geneva Conventions fully applied to the war in Iraq."
In the wake of an election whose results still have not been disclosed, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe weighs his options and cracks down on the opposition, and on journalists, with a Pulitzer prize winning New York Times correspondent among those taken into custody.
With a new poll finding 81% of Americans dissatisfied with the direction the country is heading in, budget gaps are prompting states to consider freeing inmates as a cost-saving measure, and a CEPR analysis finds that in bubble inflated markets owning has lost its edge over renting.
As candidate McCain hits the road with a message of "sin, then secular salvation, mostly given in made-for-TV settings," and a teleprompter that may not be helping his delivery, Rick Pearlstein thinks he detects the sound of gears jamming in the conservative noise machine.
On the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination, "Democracy Now!" hosts a panel discussion of his legacy, and a Truthdig essay looks "not at the King that America loved but the country he condemned," as McCain, on break from his biography, encounters some heckling in Memphis.
Despite a high level of support for Israel among the backers of all three presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton appears to be charting new waters with her vow of support for Israel's claim on an "undivided Jerusalem." Plus: Does Obama need "corny" patriotism?
After suspending Air America host Randi Rhodes for controversial remarks about Sen. Clinton, the network pauses to "gauge public reaction," while the Washington Times borrows a frame from Bill O'Reilly to report on a blogger election dispute.
The word "abortion" is disappeared from a U.S. funded health search engine, deceptive practices at "Crisis Pregnancy Centers" come under fire, and a GOP insider explains the firing of a DOJ employee rumored to be a lesbian saying, "To some people, that's even worse than being a Democrat."
A Vanity Fair essay digs into 'Monsanto's Harvest of Fear,' as it moves from genetically modified seeds into milk production, a translated version of a French documentary on the company goes on line, and an essay dishing 'The Dirt on Dirt' explores 'a new dawn of chemical farming, Superfund townhomes, and Wal-Mart wetlands.'
Surveillance of the U.S.-Mexico border by pilotless drones is set to increase and others are now being enlisted to track down northern California marijuana growers, as the British prime minister prepares to overrule a government advisory council and upgrade the classification of cannabis.
The only upside for privacy in the centralization of data collection in "fusion centers" is seen in the low likelihood that they will work, John Dean decries the lack of legal recourse against "passenger imprisonment," and a recent episode of "This American Life" follows the Bush administration on its quest to redefine the limits of presidential power.
Monday, April 7, 2008
With the general poised to testify on the status of the Iraq war, and all the presidential candidates positioned to ask questions, Ira Chernus warns that "a debate focused on military success or failure is a trap, with Petraeus's testimony as the bait." Plus: 'Pre-emptively Spinning The Petraeus Report Against Iran.'
A public surge report by the U.S. Institute of Peace, whose experts advised the Iraq study group, concludes that "Political progress is so slow, halting and superficial, and social and political fragmentation so pronounced that the U.S. is no closer to being able to leave Iraq than it was a year ago."
As the media piles on to fact-check claims about what McCain meant about 100 years in Iraq, and a "warmonger" controversy sputters, Frank Rich contends that "the sum total of his public record suggests that he could well prolong the war for another century ... through sheer inertia, bad judgment and blundering."
Tony Snow explains that the 'bad guys backed down in Basra,' and the military announces 'plans to cut Army war tours,' as a military push into Sadr City meets heavy resistance and fails to stop deadly rocket attacks on the Green Zone.
Citing an unresolved "massacre" issue, the Iraqi government expresses outrage at the renewal of Blackwater's security contract, as the U.S. military for the first time since 1968 files charges against a civilian contractor. However, as Jeremy Scahill emphasizes, this "token" has nothing to do with Blackwater.
As an AP article is accused of distorting the debate over the funding of the war, a legal analysis considers the implications of 'the war's expiration date,' and the ball, Marty Lederman concludes, "will be in Congress's court, after all."
Doug Feith goes on "60 Minutes" to defend the war and his reputation, Aram Roston, in an adapted excerpt from his book, discusses the lobby behind Ahmad Chalabi, and retired Gen. Tommy Franks gets a new hat.
An HNN poll of historians finds that 61% now rate Bush's presidency the worst in American history, and 98.2% call it a failure, but a proposed ballot initiative in San Francisco aims to set up a new memorial to the president's legacy.
A Washington Post analysis gets into the limits of allowable maiming under John Yoo's 2003 torture memo, and the Congressional Quarterly investigates evidence of illegal drugging of detainees, as questions are raised about rendition flights from Portugal and new allegations of torture by the British army.
In a pair of posts, Glenn Greenwald draws out the implications of bowling trumping torture and civil liberties in the media, and the AP's obsession with all the little details of the attorney general's personality, while ABC's Jake Tapper sniffs out another important story, and Christopher Hitchens wins plaudits from Tim Russert for "talking with intelligence."
Releasing her tax returns in time for the Saturday headlines, Sen. Hillary Clinton explains that "when she and her husband left the White House in 2001, they had few assets and were 'starting out like 22-year-old newlyweds,'" but Robert Parry contends that she 'low-balled Bill's pay.'
Controversial strategist Mark Penn resigns from the Clinton campaign -- or so it appears -- in the wake of revelations that he was advising the Colombian government on how to pass a free trade agreement to which Hillary Clinton is publicly opposed. Earlier: 'Penn Inc.'
President Bush puts a Hugo Chavez spin on the Colombia free trade pact he is sending to Congress, where Democratic support will be required for passage, as a 'free trade thought experiment' puts concerns about labor standards in perspective.
A graphic view of the impact of foreclosures across America and a bleak -- but perhaps not bleak enough -- jobs picture point toward recession, as a Dollars and Sense essay considers the case for 'A New WPA.'
Pondering the growing impact of a spike in the price of staples, Paul Krugman, worries that "Cheap food, like cheap oil, may be a thing of the past," and a convergence of diverse threats gives survivalism a new lease on life.
Rising oil prices unleash a drilling "stampede" in Texas, and a 'War of the Wells' between homeowners and encroaching derricks ensues, as the U.S. transportation secretary looks toward eliminating the gas tax and replacing it with tolls.
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Calling for a 45-day pause in troop reductions beginning in July, Gen. David Petraeus made no comitment to a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, during a hearing that was disrupted by anti-war protests. Watch or listen to this afternoon's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.
Steve Coll distills last week's testimony by Gen. Richard Cody down to this "essential observation: the Army is running on fumes, but Petraeus and his fellow surge advocates are driving flat out in Iraq, with no destination in sight." And for Sens. Clinton and Obama, the devil is in the "residual forces" details.
Two ex-KBR employees tell "Democracy Now!" that 'They were raped by co-workers in Iraq,' and as 'Anxiety rises over vulnerable housing in Iraqi Green Zone,' another report finds that U.S. troops serving in Iraq have little enthusiasm for a President McCain.
Contra Newsweek, it's argued that 'McCain Is close to Bush, not Democrats, on global warming,' and Glenn Greenwald invokes both John Wayne and John McCain, in discussing his new book. Plus: is it McCool to be McCruel?
With a 'Torture lawyer in the crosshairs,' the ACLU will reportedly "try to provide top civilian defense attorneys for alleged terrorists facing trial at Guantanamo," and Jeffrey Toobin's New Yorker article on the prison camp is said to reveal 'A fundamental problem with Guantanamo detentions.'
As 'pay rises' for CEO's, and one slice of the economy is deemed 'Built to Last,' Barbara Ehrenreich interviews truckers involved in last week's protests and floats the notion of homeowners "making their foreclosures into public events."
With Sen. Clinton's hospital tale determined to be 'Part Truth, Part Errors,' a Clinton surrogate teases out a tease, and media outlets are called on to "find the real health care stories and problems that are out there."
With 'Obama's Lobbyist Fib' there for all to see in Pennsylvania, a reporter in Levittown, PA visits a local bar and finds that "Obama's lofty rhetoric did not move these men ... it seemed to have the opposite of its intended effect. It bothered them."
Following his appearance on "60 Minutes," former Alabama governor Don Siegelman again fingered Karl Rove in an interview on MSNBC, during which it was reported that Rove's attorney said his client will testify if subpoenaed in the Siegelman case.
A review of a thriller set in Phenix City, Alabama, provides some background on a notorious vice capital of the mid-20th century that catered to soldiers stationed at Ft. Benning, the subject of a noted literary journalism essay, "Juke Joint." And, there's a Siegelman-Phenix City connection.
The Washington Post celebrates its Pulitzer Prize haul, the committee seeks out Bob Dylan, and photographer Adrees Latif describes his prize-winning shot of a Japanese videographer killed during a demonstration in Myanmar.
'Beijing's Hot Potato' As the Olympic torch arrives in San Francisco, about 'Tibet and Palestine,' Uri Avnery asks: "Why do the world's media adopt one independence struggle, but often cynically ignore another independence struggle?" Plus: 'Gaza's sick political pawns.'
A Bill Moyers' report on 'Hope in the Congo,' is accompanied by a segment on the photography of Marcus Bleasdale, who has chronicled the 'Rape of a Nation,' and the San Francisco Chronicle interviews the director of a documentary premiering on HBO this week, "The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo."
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
With 'Petraeus Crocker and God in the dock,' Ambassador Crocker told Sen. Clinton that a long-term agreement being negotiated between the Bush administration and Iraq would be submitted to the Iraqi parliament, but not the U.S. Congress.
A "Countdown" segment includes Sen. Biden's response to Crocker, who also claimed that the U.S. has no plans for permanent bases in Iraq, and Fred Kaplan reports on the Catch-22 laid out by Gen. Petraeus and Crocker. Plus: Basra under Iraqi government control?
Sen. McCain tried to get Petraeus to pump up the threat from "AQI," even though it has apparently been supplanted by "special groups," which is said to be "a term coined by the U.S. military," and, which prompted the question: 'Who's really special?'
A report that what emerged from the hearings "was the sense that it is the United States, not Iraq, that is at a turning point," was evidenced in agreement between Sens. Voinovich and Feingold that war costs are sinking the U.S. economy.
"Where is the diplomatic surge?" asked Sen. Hagel, calling Crocker's testimony "pretty thin," and in a "NewsHour" debate with Frederick Kagan, retired Lt. Gen. William Odom said, "the notion that there's any kind of progress here is absurd." Plus: Vice President Cheney kissed off.
CJR finds that coverage of Petraeus' testimony in three major papers, didn't mention "the crucial underlying fact of the war's unpopularity," and the New York Times public editor writes to FAIR that the paper's D.C. bureau editor had "not been aware" of the under-covered Winter Soldier hearings.
The Senate is set to hold a hearing Wednesday focusing on 'rapes of contract workers in Iraq,' and the Pentagon has reportedly told Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry "that he couldn't re-air a video he'd shot in Baghdad after accusations surfaced that he breached operational security in detailing enemy rocket attacks."
Counted among the 'Shadowy soft-money groups preparing for major role in November elections,' Freedom's Watch's "rhetoric might be outpacing its actual accomplishments," according to conservative activists who are also "grumbling about the group and its bullheaded benefactor."
As a survey is made of cable "programs that treat each night like election night," excerpts are posted from a forthcoming New York Times Magazine cover story on Chris Matthews, and 'Jake Tapper's smoke detector goes off at ABC News.'
The degree to which U.S. lawmakers are literally invested in war is revealed in a new report which finds that Sen. John Kerry has between $28 million and $38 million invested in companies doing business with the Pentagon. Plus: Another day, another $100 million.
In 'Cashing in on the War on Terror,' William Fisher refers to a study on human rights and U.S. military aid after 9/11, and Fisher also writes up a new report from Human Rights Watch, finding that "moderate" Jordan has received more victims of "extraordinary rendition" than any other country.
As 'Governments take action to curb rising food prices,' the Guardian reports that the UN's top humanitarian official is warning that the price increases "could spark worldwide unrest and threaten political stability."
With Gazans paying about $30 a gallon for black market gasoline, the ADL took out full-page newspaper ads accusing Switzerland of being "the world's newest financier of terrorism, because a Swiss company made a deal to buy natural gas from Iran.
"The sound of angry Israeli youth mocking the extreme right is growing in volume," reports the Boston Phoenix, with groups like Monotonix, a Tel Aviv punk band, Useless ID, and Nikmat Olalim, whose members "dodge military service as they create what they call 'anti-Zionist punk.'"
As Charles Manson takes the Creative Commons route for his 2005 recording, "One Mind," a 'British rock-star-turned-celebrity-preacher' is profiled, and the Colorado Springs Independent reports on the 'purgatory' of indie rock icon, Daniel Johnston.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
An ABC News report that Senior Bush administration officials approved 'enhanced interrogation' during meetings of a National Security Council committee, quotes John Ashcroft as having said, "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."
With a torture debate likely in at least one U.S. election, 'Afghans hold secret trials for men that U.S. detained,' and Jordan claims that it is "undergoing an intentional slander campaign by members of terrorism groups who were trained to provide rights groups with false information to undermine anti-terrorism efforts."
During a speech that he previewed for William Kristol, President Bush 'embraces' Gen. Petraeus' call for a "pause" in U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq, putting him at odds with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki.
As 'Petraeus plays defense in testimony,' he and Ambassador Crocker get "an earful about political conditions at home," and Rep. Robert Wexler asks, "Please tell us, general, what is winning?" Plus: 'Iraq's military seen as lagging.'
Rep. Barbara Lee's questioning of Petraeus and Crocker included inquiring about "permanent bases," which Dan Froomkin calls "another one of the great rhetorical dodges that my colleagues are letting the White House get away with."
CNN's Michael Ware contends that the main issue of the Iraq war is "America's competition for influence with Iran," but Gen. Petraeus hears Ron Paul ask: "Does Iran not have a greater justification to be involved in neighboring Iraq than we do?" Plus: Shamelessly conflating AQ with AQI.
While 'Iraqi detainees languish uncharged in crowded jails,' AP photographer Bilal Hussein is ordered to be released, and U.S. military authorities are urged "to release him as soon as possible -- before Michelle Malkin starts to bombard them with blog posts."
A report that Jimmy Carter is planning to meet with exiled Hamas head Khaled Meshal in Syria is naturally red meat for right-wing bloggers, but they're even taking umbrage at their liberal counterparts who are visiting Israel on that government's dime. Plus: 'Middle East Winds of War.'
Amid 'The dubious politics behind the Beijing Olympics protests,' a Burmese native missed the torch, but gets his story told, as Chinese supporters are bussed in to counter it, and a call goes out to 'Give the torch relay the respect it deserves.
After expressing her preference for Clinton's health care plan over Obama's, Elizabeth Edwards said in an appearance on "Countdown" that there's a "solar system of difference" between their plans and the plan proposed by John McCain, who has yet to release his tax returns.
As presidential candidates say no to a science debate and yes to an "American Idol" fundraiser, an initial recipient is named in a stupid poll competition, and police get some advice on how to handle unruly protesters at the Republican National Convention.
"Knockemstiff," described as "a powerful, remarkable, exceptional book that is very hard to read," is named after the Ohio "holler" where author Donald Ray Pollock grew up. Before the Ohio primary, Pollock wrote of the need to "Ink Before You Vote."
As 'Iraq's ruined library soldiers on,' the 'Changing Bookstore Battle' in the U.S. is seen as one where "Large corporate booksellers, once an enemy of the little guy, now have enemies of their own." And the naming of America's favorite book, follows the awarding of the year's oddest title.
Friday, April 11, 2008
Following on the heels of Gen. Petraeus' testimony, President Bush's latest speech on Iraq proclaims that "Iraq is the convergence point for two of the greatest threats to America in this new century: Al-Qaeda and Iran."
Right-wing pundits agree that Gen. Petraeus gave them enough ammunition to push for a go at Iran, and as 'the surge turns into the stall,' CNN's Michael Ware tries to draw out the general on exactly how long and difficult the struggle ahead in Iraq is likely to be.
The Sadr City crackdown continues, punctuated by Hellfire strikes and mounting civilian casualties, making the district what a New York Times article terms 'a proving ground for the Iraq military,' as Tom Engelhardt highlights the blowback potential of air power.
Jonathan Steele investigates the genesis of sectarian conflict in Iraq, and an IPS analysis looks towards its ominous future, warning that "Shia power struggles are the lesser of the buried sectarian tensions that loom large over the future of a peaceful Iraq," as unknown gunmen assassinate a senior aide to Muqtada al-Sadr.
Fears of sedition lead NATO to abandon a police training program in Afghanistan, where insurgent attacks are spiking and U.S. troop levels are reaching a record high, while the Canadian government retools its sales pitch for war and an Afghan warlord finds a promise of safe passage ephemeral.
The AP moves the ball forward on ABC's story about torture planning in the White House, and the news builds some momentum, but the Pentagon puts the brakes on a report on the FBI role in detainee abuse as it reviews "how much should remain classified."
Vanity Fair surveys the "horrors of Guantanamo Bay" as replicated by activists in the virtual world of Second Life, while one real Guantanamo inmate is denied access to fantasy world of the 'Lord of the Rings,' and another decides to boycott his own trial.
Mother Jones profiles a private security firm that ran 'Black Ops on Green Groups' for corporate clients, and Attorney General Mukasey dances around the question of whether domestic military operations still trump the Fourth Amendment, but there are signs that the GOP is backing off on FISA and telecom amnesty.
After a British court rules that the Blair government acted illegally in halting a bribery investigation into a Saudi arms deal, the ministry of justice announces that it will "press on with a bill to give the attorney-general statutory powers to block corruption investigations on national security grounds."
Thursday's New York Times front-page feature depicting a war between realist and neoconservative advisers for John McCain's soul is criticized for superimposing balance on 'a decidedly imbalanced reality,' mislabeling war advocates, and exaggerating his openness to a realist position.
Although the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs admit that truncated tours of duty are not a complete fix for what ails the armed forces, a McCain advisor insists that the military strain from stop loss is "a myth of the left."
Reversing his position on mortgages, Sen. McCain decides that a laissez-faire approach is no longer enough, but offers no specifics, while Joe Conason contends that "Nowhere is the gap between 'straight talker' and pandering faker more obvious than on questions of reproductive freedom and sex education."
With the race tightening in advance of the April 22 primary, a Los Angeles Times report notes concerns that Sen. Obama's reluctance to conform to a local "street money" ritual may hurt his chances in Philadelphia, although little justification is seen for another Times story on 10 year old Palestinian connections making it to page 1.
Although the White House is portraying the "unprecedented" House vote to stall consideration of the free trade agreement with Colombia as "a huge setback," David Sirota argues that this "is not a move to kill the bill and take a stand for human rights abroad ... it is a move to make sure the bill can ultimately pass."
The head of the OAS tells U.S. lawmakers that there is no evidence linking Venezuela to terrorist groups, charges of CIA infiltration shake up the armed forces in Ecuador, and it appears that sometimes a suspicious Star of David is just a star.
As food riots crop up all over the map, a protest over rising food prices and hunger in Haiti puts U.N. peacekeepers defending the palace gates in the line of fire, and the IMF, in advance of 'a weekend to start fixing the world,' condemns policies that let 'the poor go hungry while rich fill their tanks.' Plus: 'The upside of the food crisis.'
As consumer confidence falls to a new low, a state-by-state analysis finds the rich and poor 'pulling apart,' and Nouriel Roubini predicts "a 12- to 18-month recession that will make a mockery of the recent stock market bounce."
Monday, April 14, 2008
A statement by the dean of Berkeley's law school explaining why he would not fire John Yoo touches off a legal debate, with Brian Leiter highlighting considerations of academic freedom, Scott Horton raising questions of "actual criminal culpability," and Glenn Greenwald redirecting toward the collective responsibility of America as a country.
'Team-Building or Torture?' Intent is said to be the key to the outcome of a lawsuit against Utah company accused of waterboarding one of its employees as part of a motivational training exercise, but the company insists that its newfound notoriety has had no negative impact on sales.
The tale of how an Israeli psychologist sought private atonement for involvement in the murder of Palestinians by fighting for human rights in Tibet prompts a meditation on double standards, as a new human rights report accuses Israel of using threats to families in the "psychological torture" of Palestinian suspects.
While Guantanamo detainees transferred into Afghan custody face secret trials based on secret evidence, families of Afghan detainees who remain in U.S. custody cling to a video lifeline to "get a glimpse of loved ones who have been held ... for months, sometimes years, without charges or legal redress."
As the death toll from clashes in Sadr City rises, Muqtada al-Sadr, who holds the U.S. occupation responsible for the assassination of a key aide, rejects an overture by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, indicating that "he will not enter any political process that would allow U.S. forces to remain in Iraq."
The next president, Juan Cole contends, will have to come to grips with the fact that "Iraq is embroiled in three separate civil wars, as 'Iraq security forces fire 1300 deserters,' and Britain wins a landmark case allowing it to return refugees to war zones in Iraq.
Frank Rich observes that most Americans are "unable to even look at the fiasco" in Iraq any more, UPI's Ben Lando takes apart complaints about freeloading Iraqis, Helena Cobban annotates the transition from quagmire to sinkhole, and Norman Solomon explains why it's all so yesterday.
As Iraq's no-bid arms deal with Serbia highlights "corruption and inefficiency," a move to block fraud investigations in Britain crosses party lines, and it's revealed that the U.S. government awarded millions in loans and no-bid contracts to the polygamist sect at the center of a child abuse investigation in Texas. Plus: 'The Pentagon's $1 Trillion Problem.'
Although he may have "changed the nature of the vice presidency," Sidney Blumenthal is convinced that 'Dick Cheney never was a "grown up"' and, weighing the prospect of Condoleezza Rice as his successor, Richard Clarke and Dana Priest sum up her record as the 'worst' ever. Plus: 'The end of welfare as we know it?'
After some apparently rather unremarkable observations, Sen. Obama finds himself the poster boy at the center of a media maelstrom over elitism, with Sen. Clinton, who reportedly holds rather similar views, going after him with an "American" kitchen sink.
Clinton, who is now marketing herself as a 'pro-gun churchgoer,' may be looking to spin her way out of Pennsylvania, where her once commanding lead in the polls appears to be narrowing, and where Obama is picking up some 'unexpected support.'
As a Financial Times essay takes stock of 'The fiscal consequences of the Bush administration,' a new study finds that IRS audits of the largest companies are at a 20-year low, and the U.S housing bubble appears to be "mutating into a global phenomenon."
As Italy goes to the polls amid accusations of a 'Mafia-run ballot plot,' the Independent reports on how a challenger from the far right is taking on the macho image of frontrunner Silvio Berlusconi, who is, as the paper puts it, "as priapic as a character in an Aristophanes farce."
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
As 'Iraq qualifies 35 companies for oil deals,' it's suggested that the country's 'financial free ride may end,' despite a "blank check" that has seen Iraq war spending more than double in four years to $10 billion per month.
The Bush administration finds $200 million in emergency aid to help deal with the global food crisis, and despite growing opposition in the U.S. and Europe to policies that promote biofuels, it's suggested that "If you care about hunger, eat less meat."
Asking if he should 'Keep Reporting? Or Stop?', an Iraqi working for Western news organizations writes that "Life has become like a long line of people, each waiting his turn for death, either by a car bomb, I.E.D., or kidnapping."
Last week President Bush spoke of the U.S. having "actually re-liberated certain communities" in Iraq, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker called Fallujah "now one of Iraq's safest cities," but it's reported that "Many residents refer to it as a big jail." Plus: 'Iran says U.S. aids rebels at its borders.'
A Democracy Arsenal post bemoans that "Last week we were debating Iran's role in Iraq, what the Basra offensive means, the pressure that Iraq is putting on our military, and how it is harming our overall national security. This week we're debating bitterness and orange juice."
At the AP's annual meeting, 'McCain reveals confusion over Petraeus role,' and speaks out against torturing Americans, as a New York magazine cover story asks: 'Is John McCain Bob Dole or Dwight Eisenhower?'
An AP correspondent at the meeting 'invites McCain to pile on Obama,' the AP 's board chairman declares that "Obama bin Laden is still at large," and, 'For Obama and McCain, the Bitter and the Sweet.'
A Quinnipiac University poll finds 'Penn race unchanged by Obama remark,' Obama is steeled for the fight, and he's also said to be "at the least open to the possibility of investigating potential high crimes in the Bush White House."
As Clinton's superdelegate "strategy" is defined, her response to Obama's comments is said to be an example of why she's the "personification of artifice," and Jay Rosen describes how, "When a story goes from 'OffTheBus' to 'Meet the Press' in two days certain things are lost in the velocity of the thing."
The Atlantic goes on the campaign trail with Al Franken, whose Democratic opponent discusses his insurgent campaign, as one observer asks: "Who is the Democratic candidate with the best claim to be rightful heir of Paul Wellstone's Senate seat?"
Rebecca Solnit recounts "The battle with Men Who Explain Things," and a defense of Matt Taibbi concludes that "as Taibbi himself makes clear, his own special brand of misanthropy is nothing if not equal-opportunity."
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
As Iraqi troops abandon their positions in Sadr City, Time reports that Muqtada's al-Sadr's "political power appears to be growing," and cites a report from Refugees International that "Iraqi militias are creating a Hezbollah-like dynamic by becoming major humanitarian providers of food, clothing, oil and other basic resources."
The 'State Department warns diplomats of compulsory Iraq duty,' Secretary of State Rice claims to have been "deeply offended" by diplomats who last fall protested mandated service in Iraq, and a Texas high-schooler is put on two-day leave for answering his father's call from Iraq.
Rice, targeted in a new 'Condi Must Go' campaign, is also being ripped by conservatives for again referring to Hamas as a "resistance" movement, and as a new U.S. "pro Israel, pro peace" lobbying group is launched, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said that Israel was benefiting from the 9/11 attacks.
The BBC puts the one-day Gaza death toll at 22, including a Reuters cameraman, and the Christian Science Monitor reports from Lebanon that "military activity on both sides of the border has contributed to war jitters as both Israel and Hizbullah are seemingly poised to strike."
As 'Pakistan forces thousands of Afghans to leave,' a correspondent travels to 'Fort Kabul,' and a McClatchy report on the 'surging violence in Afghanistan,' finds "indications that Islamic militants may have adopted a new strategy of avoiding U.S and NATO forces," that includes attacking "poorly trained Afghan police."
"Bush cannot claim to be taking this papal visit seriously if he will not even entertain a discussion of just and unjust wars," argues John Nichols, as White House spokeswoman Dana Perino contends that the Pope and the President now "share ... an understanding" about Iraq.
On "Countdown," Sen. Biden discussed his foreign policy speech, video here, and after taking an audience member's question about Abu Ghraib, during an appearance on "Hardball," Sen. McCain was asked by Chris Matthews: "We're getting to the domestic Abu Ghraib here. Is Barack Obama an elitist?"
An L.A. Times/Bloomberg poll finds that the Rev. Wright controversy might have helped Obama in Pennsylvania, and Bill Clinton risks alienating younger voters that his wife might need for a 2012 run. Plus: "He's back!"
A former pollster for Bill Clinton says that Hillary "took an important step ... toward winning the Democratic nomination," with this ad. CQ Politics predicts that she'll win three more delegates than Obama in Pennsylvania, and a New York Times editorial asks: "Whose brilliant idea was it to leave six weeks open before the Pennsylvania primary?"
'McCain's gas-tax plan may be a clunker," according to one analysis, and as California braces for prime time, it's argued that "Hanging the worldwide economic recovery on reigniting consumer spending is like investing in used fireworks."
The director of "The Red Tail," a forthcoming documentary on Northwest Airlines, discusses the potential impact on workers of the proposed Northwest/Delta merger, which Rep. Jim Oberstar called, "probably the worst development in aviation history in the aftermath of deregulation.''
As 'China blasts its foreign critics,' an attorney representing Olympic athletes asks the IOC to clarify how it will protect athletes who express dissident views at the Beijing Olympics, Dream for Darfur releases its "report card" on the IOC, and a sportswriter describes his 'stomach-turning Olympic dinner with Mia Farrow.'
The Chicago Tribune's Africa correspondent, Paul Salopek, discusses war reporting and his National Geographic cover story "Lost in the Sahel," which details his imprisonment in Darfur on espionage charges after being arrested with his translator. Bill Richardson flew to Sudan to help secure Salopek's release.
Following last week's arrest of a man who faked his way into Yale, a new book by David Samuels tells the story of a serial impostor who duped Princeton, which grew out of a New Yorker article, cached here. More by and about Samuels, a practitioner of "the dying art of old-school magazine journalism."
Thursday, April 17, 2008
'The Supreme Court jump-starts the machinery of death,' but Justice John Paul Stevens, while voting to uphold lethal injection, turns against capital punishment, calling it "the pointless and needless extinction of life."
The ruling came as Rep. Betty McCollum introduced a Constitutional amendment to ban the death penalty, and one day after Amnesty International released its annual death penalty statistics, that found China to be the world's leading executioner.
As a torture story is blacked out, the ACLU says that documents it obtained from the Department of Defense, "include the first on-the-ground reports of torture in Gardez, Afghanistan to be publicly released," but an AP report describes it as "assault." And Robert Parry asks: 'Would Obama hold Bush accountable?'
Mark Benjamin scrutinizes the candidates' plans to end the Iraq war, a Foreign Affairs article is called "a must-read for anyone concerned with the long-term consequences of the U.S. arming tribal factions in Iraq," and a survey of Arab public opinion finds Iraq withdrawal almost as important an issue as Israeli-Palestinian peace.
George Stephanopoulos, one of the "shameful" and "dreadful" moderators, did advance publicity for the Democratic debate on right-wing talk radio, where it was suggested that he question Obama about his relationship with William Ayers.
FAIR provides evidence of 'a Media double standard on fundraising promises' by Sens. McCain and Obama, and as Obama releases his 2007 tax returns, McCain has never released his tax returns, despite a mid-March pledge that they would be made public in the next month or so.
As 'George Soros throws some more money to the left,' a Democratic campaign committee has filed a complaint with the FEC accusing its Republican counterpart of illegally coordinating campaign ads with Freedom's Watch.
Citing a finding that special interests spend $17 million a day to lobby lawmakers, CJR's Trudy Lieberman points out that "the drug industry spent most of all, paying lobbyists 25 percent more than they did last year." Plus: 'Merck wrote drug studies for doctors.'
In offering up examples of "how our biases shape our understanding of reality," taken from a "terrific new book" by Farhad Manjoo, Nicholas Kristof notes that "liberal blogs overwhelmingly link to other liberal blogs or news sources. But with conservative blogs the tendency is much more pronounced; it is almost a sealed universe."
As the GAO says that the 'U.S. lacks terror plan for Pakistan,' the Guardian reports that Sen. Biden is putting together a package of $7 billion in non-military aid to Pakistan to fight terrorism, that includes a U.S. promise to curb air strikes by drones against suspected militants. Plus: Sacked judges set for reinstatement.
As a second mistrial is declared in the case of "an inept group of Miami cultists," the British trial of eight men charged with plotting to blow up transatlantic airliners is in the second week of what is expected to be a six-month trial. Earlier: 'British jihad: Why our anti-terror strategy isn't working.'
'Laptop Jihadi' A review of a new biography of al-Qaeda strategist Abu Musab al-Suri, says that the "concept of 'leaderless jihad,' now much in vogue among so-called terrorism experts, is to a great extent al-Suri's invention."
A New Scientist article on 'How global success is changing English forever,' prompts the observation that "native English speakers ... are heading to the ashcan of history," and in "Bastard Tongues," linguist Derek Bickerton writes that "Drunks are the world's most underrated language teaching resource."
Friday, April 18, 2008
The Washington Post cites an unpublished study that tracks a 'dramatic increase in suicide bombings' around the globe since 2001, dramatically illustrated this week by deadly attacks in Sunni areas of Iraq, and in a remote Afghan province.
A new RAND study estimates the number of U.S. troops with war-related mental problems at 300,000, a Pentagon institute concludes that the Iraq war is a "major debacle," and a report (.pdf) by a House Armed Services subcommittee faults poor oversight and organization for disappointing reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In a report that Spencer Ackerman sums up as '"Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S." Pt. 2,' the GAO concludes that the "Bush administration has failed to develop a comprehensive plan to eliminate al Qaida and its sanctuary in Pakistan's remote tribal region," 87 months after Richard Clarke first sounded the alarm.
Afghanistan's Supreme Court confirms more than 100 death sentences, raising fears about the fate of a student journalist on death row, and heightening anxieties about the country's legal process and "a possible return to Taliban-style morality rules."
A search by the CIA finds no evidence that the agency violated a judge's order by destroying videotapes that showed harsh interrogations, as 'experts weigh in on top officials talking torture with Bush's approval.'
As William Astore ponders the Strangelovean relic at Cheyenne Mountain, Tony Judt contends that a lesson from the 20th century more often forgotten in America than in Europe is that "war, not racism or ethnic antagonism or religious fervor ... has been the crucial antecedent condition for mass criminality in the modern era." Plus: 'Scrapping history.'
Covering the "No Bases for Empire" tour, Democracy Now!" interviews international activists fighting missile placements in the Czech Republic and a U.S. military presence in Diego Garcia, which a recent article termed "The Other Guantanamo."
After a 'debate debacle' that was, FAIR notes, dominated by 'trivia and biased questions,' ABC gets a surge of feedback, Will Bunch looks into the background of a question of lapel pins, and Greg Mitchell, on "Countdown," listens for the sound of "50,000 shoes hitting T.V. screens."
In the reception of the debate in the media and on the right, Glenn Greenwald dissects some gushing expressions of satisfaction, and a Boston Globe editorial turns the tables on "elitism," while Robert Parry puts the question of guilt by association in historical context. Plus: A poll says boo.
With the handoff from Sean Hannity putting the Weather Underground back on the front pages, former member, now blogger, Bill Ayers addresses the question of regrets, as a former SDS member brings up another relic of the 60s for comparison and contrast.
As part of his day of 'political speed dating,' British Prime Minister Gordon Brown proclaims that "The world owes Bush a huge debt of gratitude," and seconds a tough posture on Iran, while Bush uses an appearance with the pope to take a swipe a "moral relativism."
Although Bush's latest climate speech doesn't play well before an international audience, or even with some conservative bloggers, an annotated edition, according to a CJR review, provides a stand-out example of "dynamic, digital journalism at its most useful."
With the future of the Internet up for debate at Stanford, the 'FCC gets an earful from open net defenders,' and anger at Comcast boils over and crosses an ideological divide in response to the company's use of "one of the same techniques the Chinese government uses to censor the internet in China."
Marketed with an extra helping of swag to "entice group sales," Ben Stein's "Expelled" showcases complaints that "Big Science" is stifling academic freedom by keeping "intelligent design" out of the classroom, but appears uninterested in even discussing the evidence.
If, as expected, a "bearded, left-leaning bishop" riding a platform of "change" wins this Sunday's presidential election in Paraguay, it would upend a 60-year dynasty, and likely deprive the Bush administration of one of its last allies in the region.
Controversy over the "Simpsons" migrates to Argentina from Venezuela, where a disjunction between money and happiness tops the chart, and a claim made in Foreign Affairs that the Venezuelan economy has hurt the poor most of all gets a rejoinder.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Following revelations in the New York Times about the use of military analysts as "puppets" to peddle Bush administration talking points on Iraq, scrutiny extends to the print media, to how much was already known, and to why we are hearing about all this now.
As the author of the article, David Barstow, responds to questions, Bag News does a background check, Editor & Publisher revisits a prophetic 2003 column on TV's military embeds, and Robert Parry looks back on a scandal three decades in the making.
Despite Muqtada al Sadr's "final warning" of an open-ended "war until liberation" if the offensive against his followers continues, clashes intensify between Shiite militias and U.S. forces in Baghdad and, after British and American troops clear the way, the Iraqi army takes a key Mahdi army stronghold in Basra.
Bill Moyers interviews McClatchy's Leila Fadel about soldiers and civilians caught in the crossfire in Sadr City, while Patrick Cockburn notes the additional complications of a growing civil war between factions of Iraq's Sunni community.
Dropping in to Baghdad for an unannounced visit, Sec. of State Rice jettisons the language of "special groups" and taunts al Sadr, in what his followers may view as "a challenge to their honor," and trumpets "a coalescing of a center in Iraqi politics," amid intermittent rocket fire. But even Judy Miller is skeptical.
As the pottery barn rule goes bust, Marc Lynch argues that there is no exit from the "magic box" offered by advocates of "strategic patience" in Iraq, and Tom Engelhardt lays out 12 key questions that all point toward the door.
A New York Times analysis of McCain's use of "Al Qaeda" as shorthand for all sorts of groups with very different agendas cites Kenneth Pollack in defense of "catch all" phases, but Juan Cole contends that this is a "dangerous generalization" that ignores the role of the occupation in "producing "al-Qaeda" wannabes."
Running what seems to be a triangulation campaign to contrast himself to both the Democrats and Bush, McCain tones down calls for a break with the U.N., and tries to paint Obama as the Hamas candidate.
Keeping his wife's fortune under wraps, Sen. McCain hopes to avoid the Kerry precedent, and CNN appears willing to at least picture him as the least wealthy of the candidates, as he weighs in on the psychological "ability to keep our own home." Plus: Where are his medical records?
As journalists continue to decry ABC's handling of last week's debate, in which the Constitution appeared to serve as "little more than window dressing," has already spawned a plethora of parodies, but it is, Joe Conason suspects, "a signal of the coverage to come."
While Newsweek attempts to repackage Obama as Kerry, and Tim Russert, 'dumpster diving' for lapel pins, recycles a mistake, Bob Schieffer wonders what it really means to wear patriotism on one's sleeve.
After meetings with Hamas that provoked debate about the logic of engagement, and talk of revoking his passport and more on Capitol Hill, Jimmy Carter emerges with what might be a "significant concession" and pointers toward peace.
Stories of White House torture planning make it to the editorial page of the New York Times, as new excerpts from Phillipe Sands' "Torture Team" detail how the torture system was put into practice, and how America's most senior general was "hoodwinked" into thinking the techniques involved were permissible.
With the Yoo torture memo now part of an internal DOJ investigation, Scott Horton contends that -- issues of academic freedom aside -- the timing and context in which John Yoo offered his legal opinions raise the possibility of real culpability. And 'torture questions hover over Chertoff' as well.
In a series of articles on the expanded use of DNA in the criminal justice system, the Washington Post looks at U.S. government plans to collect samples from those arrested but not convicted, the use of family DNA to make arrests, and the potential for 'deeper examination' of the accused, as genetic screening of newborns raises privacy concerns.
With financial anxiety on the rise, Kevin Phillips forecasts a "perfect economic storm," Paul Krugman, reviewing the skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, warns that we are 'running out of planet to exploit' and foreclosures and debt appear to have people burning down the house.
As change comes to Paraguay after six decades, a McClatchy analysis sees signs of Democrats becoming more assertive on policy towards Latin America, with a possible showdown over an anti-drug-trafficking package for Mexico in the offing. Plus: Calderon plays the Hitler card?
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
With a report that Iraq wants the 'U.S. to compromise more on security deals,' an article about Defense Secretary Gates criticizing the bureaucracy he oversees, notes that "There are more than 5,000 UAVs working in Iraq and Afghanistan."
A highlight reel accompanies a call for a Congressional investigation of military pundits and their ties to the Bush administration, and even Howard Kurtz opines that "the degree of behind-the-scenes manipulation is striking." But as McClatchy points out, not everyone played along.
In an interview on "Countdown," Sen. Clinton laughed off her "unholy alliance" with Richard Mellon Scaife, clarified her "umbrella of deterrence" remark from last week's debate, and confirmed her talk of "massive retaliation" against Iran. Plus: 'Oy vey! Where to start?'
As The Electronic Intifada examines one 'pro-Israel group's plan to rewrite history on Wikipedia,' Secretary of State Rice 'says Carter was warned against meeting with Hamas,' disputing Carter's claim, in interviews with NPR and Ha'aretz, that he was not.
The Clinton campaign goes for broke, Obama's campaign 'finds a culture clash in Philadelphia,' and elsewhere, and MoveOn.org releases more than 1,000 voter-created campaign videos for Obama on the eve of the Pennsylvania primary.
With 'Fox slowly developing a link between Barack Obama and Hamas,' it also cultivates a new Reverend Wright. And with Bill Moyers scheduled to interview the original this Friday, 'Fox News gets owned by pro-Wright priest.'
On a busy day for Rupert Murdoch, new Wall Street Journal columnist Thomas Frank reminds that conservatism "has no problem with bitterness," and it's predicted that 'Obama will be the bitter one at the end of this campaign.'
With a report that 'Gasoline usage heads down,' Energy Bulletin excerpts Wendell Berry's essay in the latest issue of Harper's on 'Faustian economics,' and Bill McKibben examines 'The Greenback Effect,' amid complaints of a 'Green buying binge doing us in.'
With a shoot 'em up weekend in Chicago, Hal Crowther, in 'One nation under guns,' argues that "As long as we indulge a minority of armed bullies whose model for America is Dodge City, we're all as crazy as they are."
As a Georgia company is indicted for "relabeling and selling defective diversionary grenades to the FBI," despite a pledge of "Quality products at competitive prices," there's some good news for protesters at the Democratic National Convention.
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
As it's suggested that Sen. Clinton's "path to the nomination depends on one fuel: fierce attacks," a New York Times editorial accuses her of taking "The low road to victory,' and a call goes out to 'Save Us!'
In calling out "the media organizations that relied on these Pentagon analysts," FAIR reprises the classic response from former CNN news head Eason Jordan, that the network "got a big thumbs-up" from the Pentagon on its analysts before the Iraq war. Plus: TV outlets ignore Times' story on analysts.
As 'Maliki tries to rally Arabs behind Iraq,' Marc Lynch deciphers the recent "blizzard of activity" from al-Qaeda Central, Fred Kaplan suggests that Iran is 'outsmarting' the U.S. in Iraq, and it's argued that 'Israel sees Iran threat recede.'
With a report that 'Iraqi women take on roles of dead or missing husbands,' George Packer reviews "I Lost My Love in Baghdad," excerpted here, by Newsweek reporter Michael Hastings, whose fiancee was killed in Iraq when her convoy was ambushed.
Introducing Steve Fraser's 'Our Gilded Age and Theirs,' Tom Engelhardt cites the article on compensation for hedge fund managers that Obama referred to in last week's debate. Listen to an interview with Fraser, and read a review of his book, "Wall Street: America's Dream Palace."
As the U.N.'s World Food Program warns about a "silent tsunami" of hunger, an article on 'Food for Thought on Earth Day,' and another on 'Why more food is not the answer,' both refer to a recently released report on food security, and IPS interviews the head of the group that produced it.
A review calls "The War on Bugs" as much about "our culture's relationship to advertising as it is about food production," employing "plenty of examples of pesticide advertising, including some DDT ads drawn by none other than Dr. Seuss." Author Will Allen also co-chairs "Farms Not Arms."
Following last Friday's public hearing on Net neutrality, a Senate committee heard testimony on the issue Tuesday, during which the FCC chairman challenged Comcast's claims about how it handles Internet traffic. And, Charlie Rose hears his favorite voice on the future of technology.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
With the 'Involuntary drugging of U.S. detainees' described as 'a crisis for the health professions,' Joanne Mariner writes that "On the rare occasion that U.S. officials venture to look critically at Malaysia's detention policies, the local authorities have a ready response: Guantanamo."
With reports that the CIA has 7,000 documents relating to rendition, detention and torture programs, the U.S. is said to be 'angry as Pakistan seeks peace deal with Islamists,' and U.S. federal prosecutors plan to pursue a third trial against 'The bungling boys in Miami.'
Glenn Greenwald lauds a "Democracy Now!" report in an introduction to his audio interview with former CNN anchor Aaron Brown about the Pentagon pundits story. Brown was grilled on "Democracy Now!" in April 2003 about CNN's war coverage.
"If we treated this the way we would call an election in a state ... it's over," said NBC's Chuck Todd on "Countdown," following Sen. Clinton's single-digit win in Pennsylvania that netted her ten delegates.
As a New York Times article debunks Clinton's "chief political rationale for her enduring candidacy," it's noted that "In hour after hour of frequently repetitive punditry," no one "raised this question."
The North Carolina GOP makes an "Extreme" ad buy, a pollster tells McClatchy that "There is a layer of white voters that is having a hard time voting for" Obama, and novelist Colson Whitehead describes the burden of being "The Guy Who's Where He Is Only Because He's Black."
It's alleged that North Koreans were 'Taped At Syrian reactor,' Israel and Syria 'hint at progress on Golan Heights deal,' and Jimmy Carter 'rebuts State Dept. on Hamas' in an interview with USA Today. Plus: 'Carter spreads a new doctrine.'
With Israel set to mark '60 years of hope and despair,' the 2008 Palestinian Film Festival 'commemorates 60 years of catastrophe,' and Ha'aretz profiles a photographer with a portfolio whose "common denominator is clearly rightist identity."
Gen. David Petraeus is said to be a "big supporter" of a "massive American-style amusement park" planned for Baghdad, which coincides with a report that 'Hollywood hopes theme parks, superheroes fly in Middle East.'
A Seattle man carbon offsets his entire life, and in Vanity Fair, Alan Weisman, author of "The World Without Us," imagines 'Three Planetary Futures,' for Cairo, Baffin Island and Las Vegas, which was also the setting for J.G. Ballard's "Hello America."
Amid a dust up over 'Free-Range-Kids,' a review of the book "Parenting, Inc.," by Pamela Paul, cites a two-story "luxury playhouse" for $122,730 from the PoshTots catalog. Plus: 'A coach at the crib and a consultant at the potty.'
Friday, April 25, 2008
Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki celebrates "national reconciliation" without Muqtada al-Sadr, the U.S. military says it has no plans for a siege beyond the southern part of Sadr City, and Britain does an about face on troop withdrawals amid clashes with the Mehdi Army in Basra.
With Speaker Nancy Pelosi reportedly plotting a 'three-step' dance on funding the Iraq war, a government audit finds Pentagon reports on the progress of Iraq's military suspect, and Iraq's military and police years away from autonomy.
Doug Feith explains why the 'Iraq war is everyone else's fault,' Vice President Cheney continues to root around in Syria for elusive WMDs, and Tariq Aziz is now set to go on trial for executing 42 merchants for increasing food prices in 1992.
The timing of a public release of intelligence about North Korean-Syrian nuclear collusion raises suspicions that it is a "diversion," particularly given the thinly-sourced nature of reports that have so far appeared in the press, and several key questions remain unanswered.
As a top U.S. general warns of record levels of violence in Afghanistan, a battlefield video illustrates the hazards of lighting up before you wander into the line of fire, and Canada considers how much to pay for the Afghan dead.
Plans for son of Blackwater West get a green light in the face of continuing public opposition, as one new film treats private contractors as a joke, and another paints them as a target. Plus: Sizing up contractors' off-shore subsidiaries.
As Nick Turse embarks on a tour surveying how thoroughly the Pentagon interfaces with everyday life in America, the House grills the military on its collaboration with the social sciences to make counterinsurgency more efficient.
In a speech at Knox College, John Ashcroft gets into a heated exchange over fine distinctions between "pouring and forcing," while Andy Worthington goes over the background and prospects of the children of Guantanamo, and Hollywood rolls out its first "feel-good torture film" with George Bush behind the curtain as "deus ex machina."
One congressman tries to get a little more attention paid to a '7,600-word disappearing act,' as a new study by Syracuse University tracking pre-war coverage by ABC and CBS finds that virtually all of the voices of opposition were from foreign sources, with Saddam Hussein or his underlings accounting for 40%.
As Rush Limbaugh dreams up riots for Denver, Arianna Huffington contemplates the latest evidence that the "right-wing message has become a part of the news media's DNA," and a PEJ analysis documents how the Wall Street Journal has shifted focus from business to politics with Rupert Murdoch at the helm.
Campaigning in New Orleans, John McCain tries to put some distance between himself and "his shadow" on disaster response, but Newsweek notes that "his cameo role in the mess may soon make the highlight reel." And then there is the matter of what his radical pastor said.
McCain also attempts to distance himself from a GOP ad tarring Barack Obama for his association with Rev. Wright, and Joe Conason argues that it will take more than "ritual denunciations" to separate him from the recently resurfaced man behind the Willie Horton ad.
Although McCain is still touted on the Washington Post's editorial page as "the rare exception who is not assumed to be willing to sacrifice personal credibility to prevail in any contest," an article in the paper's news section reports that he is now "marching straight down the party line," promoting Bush administration tax policies he once opposed.
With the pain of foreclosures beginning to spread even among the affluent -- but not the super-affluent -- millions of Americans behind on electric and gas bills face the prospect of service cut-offs, and shortages in basic commodities open avenues for exploitation.
Although Hillary Clinton's margin in Pennsylvania is narrowing, her campaign deploys an innovative metric to cast her in the lead for the nationwide popular vote and, despite strangely familiar intimations of doom, a "long-term tectonic shift in the electorate" is said to put the Democrats in great shape for November.
China catches up with the U.S. on the internet by some measures, as dissidents fight to stay ahead of an increasingly sophisticated censor, while the U.S., lacking a lacking a comprehensive policy, lags behind other industrialized nations in broadband infrastructure.
The Pentagon announces that it is reestablishing a 'Fourth Fleet' to patrol the Caribbean, Central and South America where, John Pilger contends, the Bush administration has in recent months been systematically undermining democracy and inciting class warfare.
Monday, April 28, 2008
As mortar fire and sand storm the Green Zone, 'Iraqi political leaders protest U.S. siege of Sadr City,' Muqtada Sadr repositions, and the U.S. military pushes utilities in an attempt to restore calm.
The idea of recruiting the undocumented for the military makes the rounds at some Washington think tanks again, reviving a proposal that died with the Dream Act, but there is already consensus in Congress on helping one immigrant group -- entertainers.
With Blackwater treated like a pariah even in San Diego, and accused of shredding documents related to a lawsuit over the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians, a UPI analysis looks at all the caveats involved in the claim that private military contractors are more cost efficient.
Tom Engelhardt unpacks all the careful marketing work involved in 'selling the president's general,' while Stephen Kinzer contends that the Petraeus promotion is extending "a policy of threats and demands" that "strengthens xenophobic and reactionary forces in Iran."
Despite rumblings from the U.S. military about Iran's "increasingly lethal and malign influence" in Iraq, hawks resurgent, and Hillary Clinton's Strangelovean overtures, Iranian leaders dismiss the possibility of an attack as unlikely given the "disastrous situation" already facing the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the absence of "physical evidence available for independent inspection," skepticism about Syria's purported reactor remains, and the IAEA expresses outrage at the failure of the U.S. to turn over its intelligence which, Scott Ritter points out, even if accurate, would provide "no legal justification" for Israel's attack. More on this from Ritter here.
Although Afghan President Hamid Karzai has recently sought to distance himself from U.S conduct of the war, he was the target of a well-coordinated but unsuccessful assassination attempt by the Taliban at a public ceremony marking the 16th anniversary of the end of the Soviet occupation. Meanwhile, one potential successor appears to bow out.
Letters from the Justice Department to Congress detail how the Bush administration found 'a legal rationale' for internationally prohibited interrogation methods in what's termed the "Trojan horse of universal condemnation," and Glenn Greenwald lays the responsibility for the loophole at John McCain's door.
The director of Human Rights Watch, in a Foreign Affairs essay, argues 'The Case Against Preventive Detention,' the CIA stonewalls over documentation about "ghost prisoners," and U.S. military lawyers find a use for the claim that there is a higher rate of mental illness in U.S. prisons than at Guantanamo.
Jetting about the campaign on his wife's private plane, McCain calls Obama 'insensitive to poor people,' but McClatchy uncovers a wealth of apparent contradictions in his poverty tour, and Paul Krugman suspects that behind the seeming incoherence of his tax policy lies "a giant exercise in pandering."
As McCain tries to have it both ways on Rev. Wright,' and okays associating Obama with terrorists, pastor and McCain supporter John Hagee concedes that he no longer sees God's hand in the destruction of New Orleans. Plus: Clowning around in Cornerstone Church.
Amid signs that the media is jumping ship from Obama to Clinton, Newsweek appears intent on hitting him with "every latte-sipping talking point in the book," and branding him an alien to boot, extending a genre of election coverage Elizabeth Edwards sums up as more interested in bowling than health care.
Just a couple of days after PBS -- much to the horror of Bill O'Reilly -- airs Bill Moyers' interview with Rev. Wright, Obama's controversial pastor takes the stage again at a NAACP dinner, with a keynote speech which, according to the Detroit News was "alternately fiery and humorous" but decidedly unapologetic.
With 'Democrats registering in record numbers,' a new poll finds a 20-point edge for the party on top issues, and an AP preview of the electoral road to the White House finds either Democratic candidate well positioned.
On the 22nd anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, the reactor is prepared for reburial in a new steel coffin, while converging environmental and energy crises have resurrected the fortunes of an industry which, it's argued, should stay buried. Plus: 'Good to Glow.'
With 10% of Colombia's 268 lawmakers behind bars in an expanding scandal involving ties to right wing paramilitaries, and politicians "accused of plotting killings with warlords," the nation's president 'defends his record on union murders.'
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Bin Laden's former driver looks 'slovenly, threatens boycott,' during a pre-trial hearing at which the former chief prosecutor of the war crimes tribunals testified "that the military justice system has been corrupted by politics and inappropriate influence from senior Pentagon officials."
Rep. John Conyers 'threatens to subpoena Ashcroft, Addington and Yoo,' Dahlia Lithwick documents 'The failures of the legal system for both the torturers and the tortured,' and about 'Afghanistan's Guantanamo,' it's reported that "detainees have been convicted based on little more than mere allegations by the United States."
With the release of a GAO report that the 'U.S. lacks Pakistan strategy,' a New York Times editorial expresses doubt about the Pakistani government's strategy for dealing with militants, and a Reuters reporter asks: 'Should the media be more positive about Pakistan?'
As 'Drone attacks hit high in Iraq,' where the Green Zone is again under attack, a U.S. envoy 'Slams Iran's alleged destabilizing role in Iraq,' singling out the Qods Force, whose Iranian commander is described by McClatchy as "One of the most powerful men in Iraq."
With security walls 'Freezing the conflict,' the U.S. military touts improvements at Camp Bucca, while a video shot by a soldier's father shows 'unsanitary conditions' at Fort Bragg, and billboard monkeywrenchers issue "Greetings from the Occupation."
As 'Reporters get a closer look at the Wright stuff,' Bob Herbert predicts that "this reverend is never going away," following his speech at the National Press Club, where he is said to have "committed a cardinal sin: he mocked the media."
Although Wright told reporters that he was quoting a former U.S. ambassador to Iraq with his "chickens coming home to roost" comments, he was likely paraphrasing him, and reminding that he "served six years in the military," Wright asked: "How many years did Cheney serve?"
As 'McCain's no-guilt-by-association campaign pledge' ends, it's reported that he 'Strongly rejected long-term Iraq presence,' and the Republican nominee who 'flew coach,' is said to have "as little hands-on experience with household finance as anyone ever elected president."
Calling on reporters to 'Forget the gossipy stuff,' a Los Angeles Times editorial offers up questions for the candidates, while "Russert Watch" finds that "There's no here here, only shoptalk, inside dope, and self-preoccupation." Plus: 'Peggy Noonan's bizarre litmus test.'
The Pentagon confirms that it's suspending "a public affairs program" with retired "military analysts," and Jeff Cohen contends that "The biggest villain here is not Rumsfeld or the Pentagon. It's the TV networks."
With 'Fox News still featuring Pentagon pundits,' Maj. Robert Bevelacqua "discusses his own role in the march to war," in an interview with "On the Media," which describes him as having been a "Fox News contributor through 2005." Plus: Jack Shafer on 'Murdoch's favorite lie.'
As a 'Pray-in at S.F. gas station asks God to lower prices,' an energy reporter flashes back to 'The games oil prices play,' and Kevin Phillips discusses the games presidential administration's play to paint a rosier economic outlook, which he writes about in a now-liberated, and boiled down, Harper's cover story.
Ted Sorenson gets off some zingers in a Q & A tied to the publication of his memoir, an excerpt from a book about White House speechwriters describes Sorenson's role in crafting LBJ's response to the assassination of JFK, and a Fox News correspondent 'Expiates John Mitchell' in a new biography.
At the Coachella festival, where Prince reigned, and pro-Obama fliers rained down, Prince told the audience, "We're going to beat the swords into plowshares tonight," before launching into a cover of "Come Together," (scroll down.)
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The 'U.S. role deepens in Sadr City,' with American troops "engaged in the kind of urban battle within Sadr's stronghold reminiscent of the first years of the war," and with 'Iraq civilians reportedly among Sadr City dead.'
As a U.S. report on Iraq reconstruction projects oil revenue to top a record $70 billion this year, an analysis of prospective U.S. security agreements with Iraq, by retired Col. Dan Smith, looks at both budgetary allocations and the debate over the meaning of "permanent" in relation to military bases.
The AP separates spin from fact on President Bush's energy rhetoric, during a press conference in which "He faulted lawmakers 16 times in his opening statement alone," and "Instead of embracing new proposals ... mainly dusted off old ones."
The president also talked up the threat from "jihadists," and despite the 'Gaza shooting gallery,' and trouble on the Lebanese/Israeli border, he expressed hope for a Middle East peace agreement before the end of his presidency, noting that "Condi is heading back out there."
Reviewing "Soldiers of Reason," a history of the RAND Corporation, excerpted here, one-time RAND consultant Chalmers Johnson explains how "the premier think tank for the U.S.'s role as hegemon of the Western world," set about 'Teaching Imperialism 101.'
As KBR employees working in Iraq are said to have "stole weapons, artwork and even gold to make spurs for cowboy boots," despite his claim of 'Total Impunity,' a 'Halliburton bribe case haunts Cheney.'
After 'Obama the Inevitable' inevitably "distanced" himself from Rev. Wright, a commentary on how the diligence in reporting on Wright might have been better employed, also suggests that maybe it's time for Republicans to distance themselves from Ron Paul.
It's argued that "Wright exposed the flimsy tissues of so-called 'race neutrality' in a nation founded on racial oppression," and, that "Obama's dilemma is nothing new in American politics, except for the piquant touch of a self-made man of mixed race being eliticized by a former First Lady and an Admiral's son with a very rich wife."
Itinerant robo-caller "Lamont Williams" surfaces in North Carolina, where a right-wing radio talker is reporting an 'anti-Obama chain e-mail distortion as fact,' and following last week's presentation by Scott Horton on 'Politics and the Alabama press,' Thom Hartmann interviews Don Siegelman.
Reinforcing Frank Rich's point about NBC's Brian Williams, it's noted that on the same day Williams slammed the New York Times on his blog for publishing puff pieces, his newscast devoted more time to Vanity Fair's photos of Miley Cyrus than the Supreme Court's ruling on Indiana's voter ID law.
As truckers join forces with Code Pink, Barbara Ehrenreich wonders, "Where are the Democrats?," and notes that the next protest "will be in solidarity with the San Francisco longshoremen's May Day actions against the war."
Writing about "The Political Economics of Greenwashing," Stan Cox, author of "Sick Planet," predicts that "After that next big bust, not only alternative energy but a host of other 'green' industries will be left in ruin." Plus: 'Siphoning off corn to fuel our cars.'
As the final episode of "Garbage Island" is posted online, CJR interviews two people behind the "quirky, travelogue-documentary" about the man-made Pacific Garbage Patch, which was also the subject of a recent "Nightline" segment.
In an online chat, the author of "Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?" discusses the controversy surrounding his book, as it's reminded that he wouldn't be the first travel writer to be "Economical with the truthiness."
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