|May, 2003 link archive
Thursday, May 1, 2003May 1
Newsweek reports on how the Bush administration is working to restrict public disclosure of key events relating to 9/11, by refusing to declassify many of the most significant conclusions of a congressional report detailing the intelligence and law-enforcement failures that preceded the attacks.
Tracking South ChoicePoint, the database company that was hired prior to the 2000 election to help purge Florida's voter rolls of "convicted felons," has purchased personal data on hundreds of millions of residents of Mexico and other Latin American countries, since being hired by the U.S. government shortly after 9/11.
Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman report on the company that owns the Washington D.C. studio where the U.S. government's just-launched Arabic language satellite TV news station for Iraq is being produced. They say it's controlled by fundamentalist Christians who are rabidly pro-Israel. The company's Grace News Network "gathers reports of signs, wonders and miracles."
The Recording Industry Association of America is said to be involved in rewriting Iraqi copyright laws, which are currently much less restrictive than those in the U.S.
An attorney for a U.S. technology law firm tells Reuters that "When you are in a down economy, your biggest customers are in the public sector, the U.S. and other governments. Iraq is a big opportunity."
One justification that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has given for rewarding Iraq rebuilding contracts exclusively to American companies, is that foreign companies can't meet the security clearance requirement. But the AP reports that USAID has now deleted that requirement, after realizing it awarded a project to a U.S. company that lacked a security clearance.
The New Yorker connects the dots between the bin Laden family and Bechtel. The family is a substantial investor in the Fremont Group, a private equity firm founded by the Bechtel Group, which also owns the construction and engineering company that has been awarded the largest Iraq reconstruction contract to date.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, Rep. Henry Waxman asked if the White House had examined the legality of Halliburton's work in Iraq, Iran and Libya: "It appears that a company that has performed -- and apparently is continuing to perform -- work for state sponsors of terrorism is being given a prominent role in the administration's war on terrorism." Earlier: Waxman's letter to President Bush on the phony Niger documents.
Iraqi communists accuse U.S. of bringing its own parties to the party, look ahead to first free elections.
A Times of India commentator says that the failure of the U.S. to capture even one of Saddam's fabled look-alikes suggests that he never had any: "I reckon the story about body doubles is a classic psy-op... But the psy-ops didn't end there."
Slate's Jack Shafer tells "On the Media" that New York Times reporter Judith Miller's "off-the-reservation deal with the military" led to what was "perhaps the most unusual reporting to come out of the war." She's apparently off the beat for now.
Los Angeles Times to Bush administration: 'Tell the Truth on Weapons.'
Following Sen. John Kerry's 'hypocritical attack' on Howard Dean, for saying that "We won't always have the strongest military," Dean's campaign tried to draw Bill Clinton into the fray, by pointing to his February 2002 statement that "This is a unique moment in U.S. history, a brief moment in history, when the U.S. has preeminent military, economic and political power. It won't last forever."
Will the "old fighter pilot" take the controls again?
The Washington Post profiles a "tiny subculture of streetwise middlemen" who exist because of D.C.'s liberal rules on solicitation of clients by lawyers. They're called runners, and they go from one police station to another, reading accident reports and looking for victims who want a lawyer to settle for them. Then they sell the names to lawyers.
A novel proposal for dealing with Missouri's budget woes could prove hard to tax.
Wayne Madsen provides some revealing background information on the careers of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity and G. Gordon Liddy -- 'The Fourhorsemen of Propaganda.'
Friday, May 2, 2003
Battle Plan President Bush's carrier landing "capped a recent period in which the president has tied himself to the military as never before," writes Dana Milbank. "And that is no accident: Bush aides are planning to make his war leadership the focus of his 2004 reelection campaign, and yesterday's images are crucial in burning that impression into the national cornea."
"Was this, then, just a campaign stunt?" asks David Corn. "Nah, Bush and Karl Rove wouldn't waste taxpayer money and exploit a war that claimed the lives of 128 Americans--and thousands of Iraqis--for crass political advantage. And Bush really did serve honorably in the Guard."
William Saletan says that "In Bush's telling of the story, it all fits together. The war on terror gives meaning to the battle of Iraq. And the battle of Iraq demonstrates tangible success in the war on terror. Except it doesn't... Bush keeps saying they're the same thing. But saying doesn't make it so."
The WSWS's Patrick Martin notes that for months, the president has delivered his speeches "almost exclusively to military personnel and employees of major military arms contractors... exploiting these captive audiences" to promote "a domestic political agenda consisting of tax cuts for the rich to be paid for through the gutting of social programs—including veterans’ benefits—while portraying this Robin-Hood-in-reverse agenda as an act of patriotism."
A new study -- "More Bucks for the Bang," finds that median CEO pay at the 37 largest defense contractors rose 79 percent from 2001 to 2002, while overall CEO pay climbed 6 percent. The figures put average defense industry CEO pay at 577 times that of an army private’s pay of $19,585, which is at or near the top of the disparity spread.
Fortune reports on 'Rummy's North Korea Connection,' and finds it "surprising that there is no clear public record of his views on the controversial 1994 deal in which the U.S. agreed to provide North Korea with two light-water nuclear reactors in exchange for Pyongyang ending its nuclear weapons program. What's even more surprising about Rumsfeld's silence is that he sat on the board of the company that won a $200 million contract to provide the design and key components for the reactors."
Senate Democrats beat back a "surprise proposal" by the Bush administration and Senate Republicans to give the CIA and the Pentagon what the New York Times calls "far-reaching new powers to demand personal and financial records on people in the United States as part of foreign intelligence and terrorism operations."
Senators say FBI will sack whistleblower for "hurting the bureau's image by accusing fellow agents of stealing a crystal globe from the World Trade Center."
Handwritten motions by Zacarias Moussaoui include a multiple-choice quiz for Attorney General Ashcroft and a challenge to President Bush to "stop playing chicken and ... come out and fight hand-to-hand combat with knife if he want to kill me."
Matt Taibi takes New York Times reporter Neil Lewis to task for his government-friendly reporting on prisoners at Guantanamo, including his treatment of an Army doctor's assertion "that for the most part," the 25 prisoners who have attempted suicide "arrived already suffering from mental illness."
Times reporter resigns after lifting quotes from a San Antonio newspaper's story about a woman whose son died during the war in Iraq.
With the focus on the war in Iraq, Mark Weisbrot says that the foreign policy establishment seems to have lost interest in Latin America, where populist electoral victories in Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador, have already changed the political map: "Even if widespread populist and anti-IMF sentiment in Argentina does not end in a similar result there, all signs are that the revolt is spreading."
Bill O'Reilly cuts the mic on Weisbrot.
In a interview with The Progressive, Jeneane Garofalo talks about why she became a voice against war and what it's like to appear on cable news channels: "On the one hand, it's so bad that it's enjoyable... But for the most part, you just have to defend yourself. You don't get a chance to have a real debate." She says that after defending her position, career choice, patriotism and intelligence level, "no information has been disseminated to people watching the show."
The Black Commentator issues a call to action over the failure of corporate media in general, and Black radio in particular, to serve Black communities: "FCC Chairman Michael Powell may complete the corporate consolidation of media, but in the end, sales and audiences are local. Go for the weakest link in the chain. Powell can't do a thing about that." Plus: Barry Diller on why there's no air in the airwaves business.
In "Saddam's Ear," The New Yorker's Jon Lee Anderson reports from Baghdad on the unique relationship between Saddam Hussein and Dr. Ala Bashir, a plastic surgeon, painter and sculptor, who was both one of Saddam's doctors and one of his favorite artists.
U.S. soldiers alleged to have left going-away graffiti at Fallujah school. The Washington Post reports that "In one classroom, 'I [love] pork,' with the word love represented by a heart, was written on the blackboard, along with a drawing of a camel and the words: 'Iraqi Cab Company.' In another room, 'Eat [expletive] Iraq' was scrawled on a wall."
A U.S. Marine, who may be investigated for war crimes after saying in an interview that he had executed an Iraqi soldier, has become a cause celebre in his hometown of Las Vegas and sparked a debate about war criminals and war heroes.
In "Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market," Eric Schlosser's follow-up to "Fast Food Nation," he estimates that pot, porn and illegal labour have created a hidden market that now accounts for as much as 10% of the U.S. economy. Read an excerpt.
Monday, May 5, 2003
The Los Angeles Times reports on the toll that misconceptions about SARS is taking on America's Chinatowns. A San Francisco store keeper says "It's starting to get irritating. It's like saying to a Middle Eastern person, 'Well, you're Middle Eastern, so you must know Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden.' It's, 'Oh, you look Asian, so you must have SARS.' "
Summer of Sam The New York Times looks at the politics of victory parades.
In the first of five Salon excerpts from "The Clinton Wars," Sidney Blumenthal writes that "Chief Justice Rehnquist... had been chilly and inexpressive toward the president throughout the morning. He was grim while swearing in Clinton to his second term, with Hillary holding the Bible. Now Rehnquist turned to speak to him. 'Good luck,' he said. 'You'll need it.'" As Clinton waved to the crowd, Hillary said: "They're going to screw you on the Paula Jones case."
Constitutional law professor Jamin Raskin tells TomPaine.com that the Rehnquist Court is among the most reactionary and activist in history: "The appalling thing is that, in the name of fighting judicial activism, the Republican party has engineered the most extreme judicial activism that we have seen in almost a century."
Him and Whose Army? Slate's Fred Kaplan looks at how much of the U.S. victory in Iraq should be credited to decisions made by President Bush -- and how much to the legacy left by Bill Clinton.
The battle for Baghdad took the lives of at least 1,101 Iraqi civilians, according to a Knight-Ridder report based on records at the city's 19 largest hospitals. An additional 1,255 dead were 'probably' civilians. More on who is and who isn't counting.
The director of a Paris theater staging an anti-Bush play was assaulted at the theater following a performance of "George W. Bush, or God's Sad Cowboy." His assistant said that one man held the director down, while another cut his face. Plus: 'The Iceman Cometh.'
A 2003 communications strategy document leaked to The Electronic Intifada, advises pro-Israel activists in the U.S. to keep invoking the name of Saddam, which it calls "your best defense, even if he is dead." It also acknowledges that Yasser Arafat has been a great asset to Israel because "he looks the part" of a "terrorist" and that Mahmoud Abbas' prime ministership comes "at the wrong time," because he could improve the image of the Palestinians, putting the onus on Israel to return to negotiations.
Justin Raimondo looks at the other 'road map' to peace in the Middle East – the one proposed by "would-be ethnic cleanser" Benny Elon: "This isn't some marginal figure in Israeli politics, but the Minister of Tourism speaking. That's how far the Israeli political landscape has shifted toward the Twilight Zone: it's as if President Bush had appointed Amiri Baraka the national poet laureate."
The Israeli army contradicts other witnesses with its claim that a British documentary maker who was shot dead in Gaza while filming military operations, was hit from behind, raising the possibility that he was killed by Palestinian fire.
Steve Perry says the appointment of the State Department's L. Paul Bremer to oversee the occupation of Iraq is more about style than substance, as are war reporting differences between Fox News and the New York Times.
Harper's publisher John MacArthur tells Reuters that "Murdoch knows how to run a circus better than anyone else. War and jingoism always sell. But the real damage was done by the high-brow press. On the propaganda side, the New York Times is more responsible for making the case for war than any other newspaper or any other news organization."
A Financial Times reporter calls comments by a Bush administration official, who insisted that the U.S. never expected to find a huge arsenal in Iraq and was more concerned by Saddam's team of 1,000 scientists, "a refinement in the concept of a 'preventive war.' It suggests that the administration will act against a hostile regime that has nothing more than the intent and ability to develop weapons of mass destruction." Plus: 'Skeptics eye war's rationale.'
Wife says Bennett has had his last pull.
U.S. State Department report on global terrorism suggests that Canada places too much emphasis on civil liberties.
Wilton Sekzer, a retired New York City Police detective whose son was killed on 9/11, is purported to have successfully lobbied the military to have his son's name written on one of the bombs dropped on Iraq.
In an April article on a Ground Zero rally for U.S. troops, CNN quotes Sekzer -- apparently misidentifying him as "Construction worker William Sekzer" -- on a 9/11 tie-in with Iraq: "What do you want as proof? Do you want Saddam Hussein shaking hands with Osama bin Laden?"
Tuesday, May 6, 2003
The Washington Post reports that the failure of al-Qaeda to launch terrorist attacks during the Iraq war "has bolstered a growing belief among U.S. intelligence agencies that 19 months of worldwide counterterrorism operations and arrests have nearly crippled the organization."
Al-Qaeda said to have moved operational base to Chechnya and Georgia.
'Who Wants to Be a Martyr?' Research scientist Scott Atran cites numerous studies debunking the notions that suicide attackers and their supporters are ignorant or impoverished, and that they hate America for its democracy and freedoms: "It is our actions that they don't like."
"Democracy Now!" interviews Jason Halperin, who describes how he was caught up in a Homeland Security raid when fifteen NYPD officers and federal agents stormed an Indian restaurant where he was having dinner. His account was originally published by Alternet and then as a Los Angeles Times op-ed headlined 'Feeling the Boot Heel of the Patriot Act.'
Following up on a Newsweek article, Knight Ridder reports that the Bush administration, the FBI and the CIA are blocking the release of information about the 9/11 attacks, delaying publication of a 900-page congressional report. Plus: 'The final secret of 9/11.'
TalkLeft's Jeralyn Merritt cites the popularity of ubiquitous crime case commentator Nancy Grace and her "try 'em and fry 'em" mentality, as evidence that "Guilt sells. Innocence doesn't. This is what is so sad about the massive, non-stop Peterson coverage. The media disappears when it comes to covering the innocent - because it doesn't get ratings... We might as well be living in the days of gladiators and the Roman Coliseum. It's a game, a sport to the American public."
"Grace is so repellent a figure," writes The Daily Howler, "that she serves a useful purpose; she helps us see the moral and intellectual corruption spreading through our mainstream 'news' culture."
Howler also begins a series looking at how most mainstream pundits have avoided questions about President Bush's military service, particularly the Boston Globe report that found a one-year gap -- from May 1972 to May 1973 -- in which "there is no record that he showed up for the periodic drills required of part-time guardsmen.” More media on AWOL media.
On Monday, Howard Kurtz told an online forum questioner: "I've seen a couple of references to Bush's National Guard service, but since we never got a definitive explanation as to whether he was absent without leave, it's hard to keep pounding that as an issue."
Paul Krugman also notes that "no one seemed bothered that Mr. Bush, who appears to have skipped more than a year of the National Guard service that kept him out of Vietnam, is now emphasizing his flying experience... And since Mr. Bush has chosen to play up his National Guard career, this can't be shrugged off as old news." Plus: Anatomy of a photo op.
The Spirit Grows Newly released presidential documents show that the Bush campaign's network of "Pioneers" -- people pledging to raise $100,000 -- numbered 538, more than twice as many as the campaign had initially made public.
Leading Indicator An economic policy think-tanker says that while it's natural to compare President Bush's handling of the economy to his father's, a better comparison might be to Herbert Hoover, since Bush is on his way to becoming the first president since Hoover to lead an actual decline in employment.
Why did casino employees rat out an apparent easy mark like William Bennett?
Heist or Withdrawl? Saddam's son and personal assistant are alleged to have removed $1 billion from Iraq's Central Bank in the hours before U.S. bombs began falling on Baghdad. A bank official tells the New York Times that some $900 million in American $100 bills and as much as $100 million worth of euros was carted off in three tractor-trailers.
Traveling through southern Iraq, the Washington Post's Peter Slavin finds that "the U.S.-British occupation is defined mainly by absence: the absence of Saddam Hussein's ruthless government, but also the absence of authority, the absence of improvements, the absence of answers about what is coming next."
Read how the AP put killing words in Iraqi protesters' mouths.
Haroon Siddiqui says that with 14 new post-9/11 bases -- streching from eastern Europe through Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Pakistan and Afghanistan to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan -- "America now has a vise grip on the region...The singular feature of all those new allies is that they are weak states. Most are undemocratic, if not repressive. So, America is replicating its failed model of using unrepresentative regimes to suppress the people, but doing it on new turf."
Wednesday, May 7, 2003
Iraqi doctors who attended to Pfc. Jessica Lynch, tell the Toronto Star that not only were there no Iraqi soldiers in the hospital at the time of her rescue, but that hospital staff tried to give her back to the Americans. One doctor says that "when the ambulance got within 300 metres, they began to shoot. There wasn't even a chance to tell them 'We have Jessica. Take her.'"
Here's what CNN had to say about the rescue, in an article dated May 6, three weeks after the Washington Post first reported doctors' claims that there were no Iraqi soldiers present at the hospital: "April 2, acting on intelligence information, U.S. Special Forces led a team of Marines, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, and airmen into enemy fire at the hospital to rescue Lynch."
Eric Zorn writes that even though President Bush "all but wore a 'Kick Me!' sticker on the back of his flight suit when he decided to land on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln," the media has for the most part, gone AWOL in reporting on his military record.
As Sen. Robert Byrd blasts Bush for exploiting "the trappings of war for the momentary spectacle of a speech," the White House alters its explanation for the carrier landing. Plus: 'George W. Bush military paper doll play set.'
"I rejoice in the newfound freedoms in Iraq," writes Nicholas Kristof. "But there are indications that the U.S. government souped up intelligence, leaned on spooks to change their conclusions and concealed contrary information to deceive people at home and around the world."
The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh reports that most of that intelligence passed through "a small cluster of policy advisers and analysts," that was conceived by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz: "By last fall, the operation rivaled both the C.I.A. and the Pentagon’s own Defense Intelligence Agency as President Bush’s main source of intelligence regarding Iraq’s possible possession of weapons of mass destruction and connection with al-Qaeda."
Robert Scheer says it's "a disgrace that the U.S. media have shown little interest in the location, legal rights and treatment" of high-ranking Iraqi POW: "If Washington is to prove its war motives, there needs to be transparency in the process of learning what the captured Iraqis know."
The Sydney Morning Herald describes the difficulty it had in getting the U.S. military -- "under international law, the de facto government of Iraq" -- interested in a 'Saddam' tape that the paper had procured.
Estimating that at least 200 civilians have been killed by U.S. cluster bombs, Iraqbodycount.org calls last month's statement by the Pentagon that only one civilian has died, "breathtaking in its audacious distortion of reality." Earlier: AFP reporter describes aftermath of April 1 cluster bombing in Hillal.
"In the eyes of most of the world, our license to kill expired sometime in the past year," writes Stan Cox, "and Israel's has been invalid for a long time. But we're still acting as if international law applies to every nation but our two, and we're getting away with it."
A contract awarded to Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown & Root, to put out oil well fires and perform emergency repairs in Iraq, appears to be much broader than previously reported. The Army Corps of Engineers says that the contract basically gives the company the power to run all phases of Iraq's oil industry.
Reuters reports that Sen. Joseph Lieberman will unveil an energy plan that "aims to slash within a decade U.S. oil imports by almost two-thirds and in 20 years eliminate the need for foreign oil completely."
Fed signals concern that U.S. economy could be slouching towards Tokyo.
The New York Times reports that Walter Cronkite and CNN's Aaron Brown have been hired to appear in "videos resembling newscasts that are actually paid for by drug makers and other health care companies, blurring the line between journalism and advertising."
They've been hired to replace Morley Safer, who, after appearing in "hundreds of the videos," for which he was reportedly paid "six figures" for one day in the studio, "concluded, according to a '60 Minutes' spokesman, that the work does not meet the standards of CBS News."
The spokesman said that "Mr. Safer had agreed to work for WJMK four years ago, thinking that the work complied with the network's standards... Some of that work that he did back then continues to appear now. I don't think there is anything we can do about that." He makes it sound like ancient history, but Safer is still featured as the sole host for all four shows in the "American Review" series.
The above two links are to Google caches of Web pages on WJMK's site, which was taken offline within hours after the Times article appeared.
One of the shows that was hosted by Safer is the "American Environmental Review." According to a press release from a company that had its "Compostable Logo" featured on the show, he was still hosting it as recently as April 2003.
Thursday, May 8, 2003
'Saddam of Basra' The Washington Post profiles a former Baath party official, who was one of the most powerful leaders in southern Iraq before a falling out with Saddam and the party led to a 10-year prison sentence. After being released in 1983, he began secretly writing: "Novels, short stories, poems, parables, historical accounts. Thousands of pages, written in longhand, then typed, then hidden."
The winners of this year's National Magazine Awards include James Fallows, "The Fifty-first State?", Jeffrey Goldberg, "In the Party of God," parts one and two, and John Jeremiah Sullivan, "Horseman, Pass By."
New York Times reporter Judith Miller's recent military-censored article, detailing WMD claims made by an unnamed Iraqi scientist who she wasn't allowed to interview, was widely publicized and debated. But "what's less well known," writes Daniel Forbes, "is her formal link to the Middle East Forum, a hawkish, political pressure group that advocates using U.S. military force if necessary to oust Syria from Lebanon."
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says that the U.S. would be forced to act if it found out that Syria was hiding Iraqi WMD.
Indian Country editorializes that "The intimidation factor has grown fangs in American public life, particularly through the phenomenon of talk radio and yell TV. It is a whole way of being in media." Plus: Fox News under investigation by television regulators in Britain for alleged bias.
Greg Beato pays a visit to "Scarborough Country," MSNBC's 'Great Right Hope,' which he says owes its existence, in part, to an attempt by the channel to "repudiate its brief flirtation with Phil Donahue's out-of-the-closet liberalism." More on Scarborough at All Hat No Cattle.
Is Jesse Ventura ready for prime time?
Spinsanity's Ben Fritz on the Gore-ing of Sen. John Kerry.
James Moore, co-author of "Bush's Brain: How Karl Rove Made George W. Bush Presidential," charges Rove with leading "the nation to war to improve the political prospects of George W. Bush. I know how surreal that sounds. But I also know it is true." Read an excerpt from "Bush's Brain"
"True to their Trotskyite roots, the ideologues in this administration have been catalysts for a consciousness lowering – not raising – among most Americans," argues Ilana Mercer, "breaking down and even inverting certain civilizing precepts which only a short while ago united us."
May Day Celebration "Ask anyone who’s lived in a communist country, and he’ll tell you: Modern America is deja vu all over again," writes Matt Taibbi. "And if ever there was a Soviet spectacle, it was Bush’s speech last week."
With global terrorism is at its lowest level since 1969, according to the State Department's 2002 report to Congress, William Pfaff says that Americans have been given a distorted account of terrorism, "causing them to think they are exposed to a degree of personal risk that has virtually no foundation in statistics, or indeed in common sense."
But someone claiming to be al-Qaeda's newly-appointed spokesman, tells a Saudi newspaper that the group is "preparing a new attack in the United States on the scale of September 11," with a "new team," which he says is protected against U.S. intelligence because the old leadership does not know the names of any of its members.
The Christian Science Monitor reports on a Taliban comeback in Afghanistan, and the New York Times on a Taliban resurgence in Pakistan's border towns, where their presence "is so strong that even many of those who have been refugees here for 20 years seem to believe that the Taliban will return to power in Afghanistan."
A Guardian correspondent tells of the harsh facts of daily life in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare.
One day after the New York Times reported that Walter Cronkite and CNN's Aaron Brown had been hired to host a series of corporate-sponsored videos broadcast on public TV stations, Brown backed out of the deal and it appears that Cronkite will follow suit.
A CBS spokesman says that former host Morley Safer, who took the job four years ago and was reportedly paid "six figures" for each day's work, quit after realizing that it was not consistent with the network's standards. But in the Times, as well as Fox News and AP articles, the spokesman skirts the issue of exactly how long Safer held the job.
Friday, May 9, 2003
Paul Krugman counts the ways in which "The new tax cut plan echoes the 2001 scam," and says that after it's passed, and the budget plunges even deeper into the red, the U.S. "will realize that international investors are treating us like a banana republic."
A USA Today/CNN/Gallup Poll finds that 52% of Americans think the tax cuts President Bush has proposed are a good idea -- a gain of 10 percentage points in two weeks. A political scientist tells USA Today that "People don't know the details... but what they are hearing is that there is going to be a tax cut, and Bush is the one who is pushing it."
Newsweek reports on a possible showdown between the commission investigating 9/11 and the Bush administration, which may seek to invoke executive privilege over key documents relating to the attacks.
Jim Crow in Cyberspace Martin Luther King III and Greg Palast warn that the "Help America Vote Act," which requires every state to replicate Florida's system of centralized, computerized voter files before the 2004 election, could lead to a dramatic increase in the expulsion of legal voters.
As autopsy findings indicate that a British cameraman killed last week was shot dead by Israeli soldiers, the Israeli military begins requiring foreigners entering the Gaza Strip to sign waivers absolving the army from responsibility if it shoots them. They must also declare that they are not peace activists and are not part of the International Solidarity Movement.
Antonia Zerbisias asks: 'Where is the outrage over activists' death?' A Google News search of Rachel Corrie (dead), Tom Hurndall (clinically dead) and Brian Avery (face shot off), shows that almost all of the coverage is coming from outside of America's mainstream media.
Jim Lobe looks at the influence that "an obscure German Jewish political philosopher whose views were elitist, amoral and hostile to democratic government," is having on U.S. foreign policy. More on 'neo-cons' muse' Leo Strauss, from the New York Times and the New Yorker.
In a Q. & A. on 'war and intelligence,' Seymour Hersh says of the current administration: "In covering Washington for forty years, I've never seen a group of people who have been so unwilling to hear the other side, who are so quick to see criticism not as loyal opposition but as betrayal."
David Corn says that U.S. weapons-hunting actions in post-war Iraq do not reflect the pre-war sense of urgency about the handoff of WMD to anti-American terrorist groups, and are "geared more toward finding evidence of WMD (which would help Bush justify the war) rather than thwarting the threat supposedly posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction." Plus: 'Rummy the genius forgot about nukes.'
Gwynne Dyer writes that "The post-9/11 patriotic chill still prevents any senior American politician from questioning the existence of Iraqi WMD in public, but this issue is not going to go away."
A U.S. general running part of northern Iraq has denied a Wall Street Journal report that he ordered Mosul's only TV station be "seized," but said that he is considering putting a U.S. Army officer and a translator in the station to monitor what goes on the air: "Yes, what we are looking at is censorship, but you can censor something that is intended to inflame passions."
U.S. hires looters to restore peace in east Baghdad.
In a Guardian article assessing the assets and liabilities that VP Dick Cheney brings to the 2004 ticket, Cheney says that "I've got a doc with me 24 hours a day who watches me very carefully."
David Neiwert says that the mainstream media's attitude towards President Bush's military record is that the "real" scandal hasn't been uncovered yet: "But the reality is that what we know about his record now should be considered a scandal, and should have been since it was uncovered during the campaign."
Josh Marshall reports on attempts by Democrats to investigate if Republican activist and fundraiser Katrina Leung, who has been arrested on suspicion of being a double-agent for China, funnelled money into GOP coffers in the 1990s. Scroll up for more on the story in 'another installment of Great Moments in Liberal Media.'
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Republican reaction to Rupert Murdoch's bid to buy DirecTV was "just short of fawning" when he testified before Congress. But Democrat Maxine Waters told Murdoch that he was "scaring the hell out of her."
The LA Weekly's John Powers says that political values such as the "Populist Social Darwinism" embraced by the Bush administration, "don’t flourish in a vacuum, and it’s no surprise that today’s most memorable TV shows are reality programs... which are essentially Darwinian games of selection, extinction and survival."
The Independent reports that an attempt by Madonna and her record company to embarrass people downloading illegal free copies of her album – by replacing them with Madonna saying "What the f*** do you think you're doing?" – has instead sparked a remix bonanza, with online DJs creating dozens of brand new tracks using her words as a sample.
Monday, May 12, 2003
Los Angeles Times TV critic Howard Rosenberg says that "If Lincoln had issued his document that freed slaves in rebelling states in the era of all-news channels instead of in 1863, [cable news] would have granted him half the screen, the rest to Laci Peterson's memorial... Is there broad interest in the Peterson case? Certainly. But guess who created most of it?"
"Suddenly the conventional wisdom is significantly more to the right, significantly more patriotic," says Michael Wolff, in an article about Fox's impact on cable news. "But I think one of the subscenes that we've seen over the past couple of years is how quickly the conventional wisdom changes. So is it possible that between now and the election George Bush goes from flyboy hero to neanderthal fool? Absolutely." Earlier: 'Americans turn to BBC for war news.'
The New York Times reports that Karl Rove made the Bush reelection strategy clear -- "It's the terror, not the economy, stupid" -- during a recent visit to New Hampshire, in which he corrected a student who asked about the war in Iraq: "First of all, it's the battle of Iraq, not the war."
With the U.S. military budget approaching the size of the next 21 largest militaries in the world, combined, Steve Lopez says that Democrats shouldn't be questioning President Bush's landing on an aircraft carrier, they should be questioning why the U.S. has nine of them.
The Washington Post reports that the U.S. team leading the hunt for WMD is winding down operations in advance of next month's expected departure from Iraq. Team leaders and members, who blame erroneous intelligence and poor site security for their failure to find banned weapons, have taken to using the term "smoking gun" ironically: "Maj. Kenneth Deal, executive officer of one site survey team, called out the words in mock triumph when he found a page of Arabic text at a former Baath Party recreation center last week."
U.S. intelligence agencies turn on each other in attempt to avoid blame.
The Telegraph reports on doctors' fears that hundreds of Iraqis may be suffering from radiation poisoning, following the widespread looting of the country's nuclear facilities: "Many residents in villages close to the huge Tuwaitha Nuclear Facility, about seven miles south of Baghdad, were showing signs of radiation illness last week, including rashes, acute vomiting and severe nosebleeds."
Returning from 23 years' exile in Iran, Ayatollah Mohammed Bakr al-Hakim, the leader of Iraq's largest Shiite opposition group, called for the establishment of a moderate Islamic government in Iraq and demanded that foreign forces leave the country. Homecoming photos include sheep sacrifice.
The BBC asks: 'Who are the Shia?'
The Christian Science Monitor reports that security in Baghdad is deteriorating: "Gunfire is heard more often than it was two weeks ago, thieves drag drivers from their cars in broad daylight, and looters continue to steal whatever is left from public buildings in full view of passers by."
An E. U. commissioner says that the draft UN Security Council resolution on Iraq sends Washington "on its way to becoming a member of Opec."
The Los Angeles Times investigates the banking scandal that forced Iraqi National Congress head Ahmad Chalabi to flee Jordan, where a court sentenced him in absentia to 22 years of hard labor for embezzlement, misuse of the nation's funds and illegal currency speculation. Plus: Chalabi drowned in Baath-water?
U.S. snubs Mexico and Chile as payback for Iraq stance.
Mexicans are outraged at an attempt by a U.S. Congressional committee to link any accord on immigration issues with an agreement by Mexico to open its state oil company to U.S. investment.
The amendment was authored by Rep. Cass Ballenger, who made news during the Trent Lott affair, for saying that he had "segregationist feelings" about Rep. Cynthia McKinney and for painting his black lawn jockey white.
The Center for Cooperative Research has prepared an exhaustively researched and annotated timeline detailing the contradictory accounts of President Bush's movements and actions on 9/11, that includes seven different versions of how Bush learned about the first crash.
An internal New York Times investigation calls the widespread fabrication and plagiarism of Jayson Blair "a profound betrayal of trust and a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper."
CalPundit asks: "Why is it that when one — one! — black con artist scams the Times he's a black con artist, but when white con artists scam the New Republic, the LA Times, and the Salt Lake City Tribune, they're just — con artists?"
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
Sen Bob Graham charges the Bush administration with engaging in a "coverup" of intelligence failures before and after the 9/11 attacks and with jeopardizing the safety of Americans by blocking the release of a congressional report on the government failures that preceded the attacks.
In a recent interview on "Democracy Now!", Newsweek's Michael Isikoff said the report "includes information about the role of suspected Saudi intelligence agents and Saudi diplomats in providing support, whether advertent or inadvertent for the hijackers, and the role of Saudi financing for the operations of September 11th."
Peter Bergen describes the similarities between the terrorist attacks in Riyadh and the U.S. Embassy bombing in eastern Africa in 1998, and notes that just last week, the Saudi interior minister said that al-Qaeda was weak or perhaps nonexistent in Saudi Arabia. Steve Perry has links to more attack coverage at Bush Wars.
An al-Qaeda operative reportedly warned of the attacks in a Sunday e-mail to the London-based Al-Majalla magazine, which published an interview last week with someone claiming to be the new al-Qaeda spokesperson.
In 'From Cold War to Holy War,' Asia Times commentator Henry Liu writes that "It is conceivable that the U.S. can prevail over all other national governments militarily, but it is pure fantasy that the U.S. can spread U.S.-styled democracy and freedom all over the world, even with a new 100-year war."
As Israeli Prime Minister Sharon rejects any talk of dismantling Jewish settlements in the foreseeable future, Ha'aretz reports on how settlers and their hawkish supporters in the government are working overtime to keep settlements on the map, and editorializes on the danger that this intransigent minority poses to the peace process.
'Baghdad Anarchy' The Washington Post describes the deteriorating security situation in Baghdad and the challenges facing the 12,000 U.S. troops charged with maintaining order. Plus: More regime change in Iraq.
Post reporter Carol Morello tells CNN that Baghdad "looks very much like a city of men. You rarely see women around. When you talk with women, when you can track them down in their houses, they'll tell you they're scared out of their wits by the lawlessness."
0 for 500 (Tons) Hellblogger has the latest update on the "Iraq WMD Scoreboard."
The San Francisco Chronicle looks at the just-leaked details of the FCC's proposal on media ownership, that would increase the number of TV stations that conglomeraters could own in major markets, from two to three, and would also allow cross-ownership of TV stations and newspapers in many markets in which it is currently banned.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who opposes the proposal, tells Bill Moyers that "If you take this to its logical conclusion, you could end up with a situation where one company owns the newspaper, the television station, the radio station and the cable system." (scroll down) Plus: 'Showdown at the FCC.'
Could Rupert Murdoch's 'China Syndrome' happen in the U.S.?
In 'Jayson Blair Cracked the Code,' Narco News editor Al Giordano looks at the institutional pressures on journalists, particularly young journalists, at the New York Times and other commercial media institutions. Reader comments here.
Bill Vann contrasts the Times' treatment of Blair with that of reporter Judith Miller, and compares her WMD reporting with the Washington Post's.
Neal Pollack on his resignation from the Times.
A lawsuit filed by a San Francisco attorney asks for an injunction ordering Kraft Foods to desist from selling Nabisco Oreo cookies to children in California, because the cookies are made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, also called trans fat. Plus: Don't partially hydrogenate me!
The lawsuit mentions a 2002 school-based program called the Oreo Online Project, which involves stacking Oreos as high as possible without toppling the tower. More than 326 schools and classes participated.
Steve Dow calls today's kids "functional food" guinea pigs: "In the '80s and '90s, the food industry went through the 'natural' phase, in which everything from ice cream to fruit juice was marketed as natural. Now begins the functional foods era, where only the imagination of food companies – and the liberalism of regulators – is the limit."
Wednesday, May 14, 2003
The Times of London reports that intelligence experts believe the main target in the Riyadh bombing was the compound housing employees of Northrop Grumman subsidiary Vinnell, which has trained the Saudi National Guard since the 1970s.
In a 1996 article, "Mercenaries Inc.: How a U.S. Company Props Up the House of Saud," William Hartung wrote: "Today, the biggest question regarding Vinnell's ongoing operations is the same one that was posed twenty years ago: why is a U.S. company using retired U.S. military and intelligence personnel to defend a corrupt monarchy in Saudi Arabia?"
Saudi officials say the terror cell that carried out the attacks had 50 to 60 members, was formed post-9/11 and led by a man who escaped from Tora Bora in December 2001.
Sen. Bob Graham says the U.S. had al-Qaeda "on the ropes" a year ago, but that shifting the focus to Iraq allowed it to regenerate. The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia says that Washington tried and failed to get the Saudi government to tighten security around western residential compounds in Riyadh in the weeks preceding the attack.
Expats talk of 'growing divide' with Saudi locals.
Is the Saudi bombing story too hot for U.S. TV networks?
For the fourth year in a row, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, in its annual report, has criticized the State Department for failing to designate Saudi Arabia as one of the world's worst violators of human rights and as an exporter of extremist Islam.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the U.S. is urging Afghan President Karzai to rein in warlords who are undermining the central government by keeping hundreds of millions of dollars that they collect each year in customs duties and taxes at border checkpoints. The U.S. has not ruled out military aid to the government in the event of a showdown.
"New" Ariel Sharon had short shelf life.
A new policy will reportedly give U.S. military forces the authority to shoot Iraqi looters on sight.
Christopher Hitchens on justice vs. reconciliation in post-Saddam Iraq.
London tabloid is charged with doctoring a front page photo to inflate size of crowd at Saddam statue-toppling.
A U.S.-sponsored Iraqi TV station has postponed plans to air a half-hour live news program, because of a dispute over requests by the U.S.-led Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, that it not air passages from the Koran and that the station's news programs be reviewed by the wife of a Kurdish leader who is in line to head Iraq's interim government.
Greg Beato looks at the players in Iraq's new air war.
Cox Communications has reversed itself and will air a TV commercial produced for MoveOn.org, that criticizes President Bush's tax cut plan by recreating an event in Eugene, Ore., at which 50 parents lined up outside a clinic to sell their blood plasma to help pay a teacher's salary.
TomPaine.com launches 'Take On the News' blog.
Pfizer swings for the fences with new Zoloft push.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
The Burst is Yet to Come? "The Clinton boom was built on three unsustainable bubbles," argues Dean Baker. "One of them, the stock bubble, has already burst. The other two bubbles—the dollar bubble and the housing bubble—are still with us. The dollar bubble is starting to deflate, and the housing bubble is perhaps just now reaching its peak."
A memo from a top sales executive at Microsoft, shows how the company uses its $40 billion in cash to aggressively discount its products in a bid to fend off rivals, particularly Linux.
CEO's leave little to chance at annual shareholder's meetings.
Joe Conason says that a constant among President Bush's judicial nominees is their "corporation-coddling approach to the law."
Dressing Down the Economy The White House reportedly told audience members sitting behind President Bush during an Indianapolis speech on tax cuts, to take off their ties.
Bloomberg reports that the Riyadh bombing has "triggered alarm bells" in the closed-mouth "sutling" industry -- the 200 or so firms that supply U.S. military operations abroad with logistical support and train foreign armies in the art of war. Among the companies in the estimated $100 billion a year industry is Vinnell Corp., which had nine employees killed in Riyadh.
The author of "Corporate Warriors" told Bloomberg that "All of these firms are targets for attacks. The original rationale for the Defense Department contracting them was to lower the U.S. military presence and profile abroad. That logic may play in Washington, but it doesn't play on the ground. Adversaries make absolutely no distinction between uniformed U.S. soldiers and ex-military men working for a private company.'' More: "The New Mercenaries."
Jason Leopold reports that sutling stalwart Halliburton, struck a secret deal with the Pentagon in November for Iraq's oil.
Bush administration officials continue rhetorical shift on Iraqi WMD, as Condoleezza Rice says U.S. officials never expected that ''we were going to open garages and find'' weapons of mass destruction.
The French government is accusing the Bush administration of waging an "organized campaign of disinformation" against it. In a letter that the Washington Post calls "unprecedented," France details what it says are false news stories, with anonymous administration officials as sources, that appeared in the U.S. media over the past nine months. A Bush administration official calls the claim "utter nonsense."
Home Spun "One generally doesn't think of psychological warfare as something waged against the home population," writes Paul de Rooij, "but this is perhaps the best way to appreciate the U.S. experience during the past few months."
John Kampfner previews "War Spin," his upcoming BBC program on the making of the Jessica Lynch myth and "the divisions at the heart of the allies' media operation." He quotes a British army spokesman who says that "In reality we had two different styles of news media management. I feel fortunate to have been part of the UK one."
In "The Unseen War," Michael Massing offers a behind the scenes look at the different versions of Iraq war coverage emanating from Doha, Qatar, home to both CentCom headquarters and Al-Jazeera.
Eight months before the first 2004 presidential primary, Americans for Job Security, a pro-Republican group founded by the American Insurance Association, has unveiled attack ads targeting U.S. Sen. John Edwards.
Republicans in Washington and Texas apparently used a California-based Homeland Security Department agency to track fugitive legislators to Oklahoma. Rep. Tom DeLay says Texas Democrats "may not be patriots."
Defector says North Korea has developed tens of nukes, imported others from the former Soviet Union.
Friday, May 16, 2003
William Beeman argues that the Riyadh bombers may have been local anti-monarchist groups with little or no connection to bin Laden, that were targeting the private sector military: "The dissidents know that the U.S. has agreed to withdraw 5,000 troops... However, the withdrawal would not cover the Vinnell contract employees, who presumably will stay in Saudi Arabia and keep propping up the regime."
In 'Saudis' Quicksand of Poverty,' the Los Angeles Times reports that in the early 80s, "the nation's per capita income was $28,000 in current dollars, on a par with that of the United States. Since then, the U.S. per capita income has grown to $34,100, while Saudi Arabia's has slipped to $7,230."
Military analyst William Arkin tells "On the Media" that a Knight Ridder count of civilian deaths in Baghdad should have been front page news, because "we are engaged right now in the reconstruction and reconciliation of Iraqi society. And if 1200 families lost members of their family, then those are all people that we have to deal with in the days, weeks and months ahead."
The Independent reports that 242 people have died in Baghdad in just over three weeks, almost all from bullet wounds.
In 'Beirut Redux,' Hassan Fattah says that Baghdad violence -- so far limited to unorganized gangs of looters carrying Kalashnikovs -- could escalate: "Iraqi security experts and other sources in the capital say that, under the nose of the American forces, Iraq's nascent political groups are forming armed militias and storing weapons as they prepare for a potential civil war for control of the country."
When the Washington Post first reported France's accusation that the Bush administration has been conducting a covert smear campaign against it, a Bush administration official called the claim "utter nonsense." Yesterday, a White House spokesman said "There is, I don't think, any basis in fact to it," and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld offered: "Certainly, there's no such campaign out of this building."
Who's more paranoid: Neocons or their critics?
California Peace Action is launching an ad campaign featuring the 1983 photo of Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. It includes the text: "The war in Iraq marked the seventh consecutive time that American troops have been sent into combat against a regime the U.S. had previously backed."
The New York Daily News quotes "a high-level Hollywood agent who specializes in TV movies" as saying that Blair is "not Jessica Lynch being rescued from the Iraqis." How might NBC, which is making a movie about Jessica Lynch being rescued from the Iraqis, deal with reports that her rescue was stage managed?
The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller details how White House image crafters are "using the powers of television and technology to promote a presidency like never before." An ABC cameraman marvels that: "They seem to approach an event site like it's a TV set. They dress it up really nicely. It looks like a million bucks."
In a letter to Tom Ridge, Sen, Joseph Lieberman writes: "I am deeply troubled by recent news reports that the Department of Homeland Security wasted scarce resources to search for a Texas state legislator ..." Was Rep. Tom DeLay behind the hunt?
Although the Texas Democrats' flight to Ardmore has generated more than 1,200 articles, The Daily Ardmoreite is only willing to concede that "their presence is just about the hottest topic in town..."
An unsold screenplay written three years ago foretold the Texas Democrats' flight, but in "Sonny's Last Shot," they only made it as far as the Alamo.
Monday, May 19, 2003
'Times Bomb' Newsweek's Seth Mnookin charts the collision course between Jayson Blair and Howell Raines.
The author of a new study on political lying says that "Politics should be regarded as less like an exercise in producing truthful statements and more like a poker game. And there is an expectation by a poker player that you try to deceive them as part of the game."
The LA Weekly profiles Men Nguyen, a world poker champion from southern California, who travels to tournaments with a cartel of other expat Vietnamese players. He tutors and finances them, and they in turn, worship him as "Men the Master."
Revenue-starved U.S. states are increasingly turning to gambling, an industry with an annual growth rate of about 9 percent since 1991.
In early April, settlers began occupying the first settlement built in a Palestinian area of Jerusalem since Israel seized control of the entire city in 1967. Among them was Irving Moskowitz, who donated almost $50 million to the settlement movement over 12 years. In "The Bingo Connection," Mother Jones reported on how impoverished Hawaiian Gardens, CA, home to Moskowitz's non-profit bingo club, became a cash machine for Jewish settlements.
William Pfaff asks: "Who is the U.S. trying to fool?' with its promises on Iraq and Israel.
In 'Bored With Baghdad — Already,' Thomas Friedman writes that "The U.S. networks changed the subject after the fall of Baghdad as fast as you can say 'Laci Peterson,' and President Bush did the same as fast as you can say 'tax cuts.'" Plus: 'A battle in Washington breaks the peace in Iraq.'
In a Washington Post op-ed, Michael Schrage argued that it doesn't matter if the U.S. finds WMD in Iraq, because "The real story here... is about the end of America's tolerance for state-sponsored ambiguities explicitly designed to threaten American lives."
"Does Schrage think his readers are fools?" asks David Walsh. Saddam's regime "practiced no 'ambiguity' about its supposed stockpile of weapons of mass destruction... [it] resolutely denied that it possessed any such weapons."
Notes on the Atrocities catalogs WMD promises made by Bill O'Reilly, who said that I will "apologize to the nation, and I will not trust the Bush Administration again," if no banned weapons are found in Iraq. (scroll to May 17)
Aid workers claim that U.S. troops vandalized the ancient city of Ur -- spray-painting the remains with graffiti and stealing bricks. As a result, reports the Observer, "the U.S. military has put the archaeological treasure, which dates back 6,000 years, off-limits to its own troops."
U.S. reshuffles deck of most-wanted Iraqis, elevating at least three people who have already been captured.
Saddam's doctors say he's fit enough to hide for years.
Saudi authorities are reportedly investigating suspected illegal arms sales by members of the country's national guard to al-Qaeda operatives, after weapons seized in a May 6 raid were traced to national guard stockpiles.
A CNN segment on providing security for U.S. "civilian contractors" and "private citizens" in Saudi Arabia, skirts the issue of what U.S. companies do there, not even mentioning the Vinnell Corp., which trains the Saudi National Guard and was a target of the Riyadh bombings.
"While we're looking at the Saudi situation," writes William Hartung, "let's also review the wisdom of using private military companies like Vinnell, DynCorps, and Halliburton to do everything from bombing drug labs in Colombia to rebuilding Iraq."
Democratic presidential candidates gang up on Bush over his handling of the war on terrorism.
Given the role of local groups in terrorist attacks, the Observer's Jason Burke says it's "rubbish" to think that terrorism can be stopped by taking out al-Qaeda, which "can only be understood as an ideology, an agenda and a way of seeing the world that is shared by an increasing number of predominantly young, predominantly male Muslims... If bin Laden no longer exists to give them aid, they will simply find someone else."
Arundhati Roy brands Democracy "the Free World's whore," in a speech on the New American Empire at Harlem's Riverside Church.
About 100 graduates walk out of a commencement address by Sen. Rick Santorum.
Former White House intern Nora Ephron tells her story of not being hit on by JFK.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003
Print Gets the Jump The Times of London reports on the flourishing Iraqi press, that now numbers about 50 titles.
Once-lowly dinar soars in value against U.S. dollar.
The Washington Post reports that revenge killings of former Baath Party officials appear to have picked-up in recent days and estimates that the post-war tally "could reach several hundred in Baghdad alone." A resident of Sadr City (formerly Saddam City) said: "We want the Americans to kill them, but we don't think they are going to. Why can Americans kill anyone they want? Why can't we? I will kill Baathists myself. This is my right."
Rep. Barney Frank calls for the resignation of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, after Wolfowitz told CNN Turk that the Bush administration was disappointed that the Turkish military didn't do more to convince the Turkish parliament to join the coalition against Iraq.
Also on Salon, Joe Conason quotes James Wolcott in an attempt to understand George W. Bush's 'cult of personality.": "Reagan was an actor who played cowboys in movies and became a politician. Bush is a politician who pretends to be a cowboy in order to remind us of Reagan when he was president. Reagan represented Hollywood. Bush represents an imitation of Hollywood, the TV spin-off of the hit movie."
In the latest issue of The New Yorker, Ken Auletta writes about Fox News. The article isn't online, but a press release gives the highlights, and in an online Q. & A., Auletta says that "The network proclaims, 'We report. You decide.' But, too often, Fox both reports and decides. The anchors are opinionated throughout the day, not just in the evening hours, with Bill O'Reilly or Sean Hannity." Earlier: 'It's all attitude, all the time..."
In an interview with JournalismJobs.com, the Weekly Standard's Matt Labash talks about the success of conservative media outlets: "We've created this cottage industry in which it pays to be un-objective. It pays to be subjective as much as possible. It's a great way to have your cake and eat it too. Criticize other people for not being objective. Be as subjective as you want. It's a great little racket."
On May 15, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough claimed victory in his show's campaign against Danny Glover, writing that "we received an e-mail today announcing that MCI would no longer be using Danny Glover as its spokesman."
Scarborough doesn't say who he received the e-mail from, but according to a May 16 article in the Washington Times, MCI has 'no plans to dump Glover' and an AP article from May 18 makes no mention of Glover having been dropped.
Party Line Phone calls urging country stations to remove the Dixie Chicks from their playlists, are alleged to have been made from Republican Party headquarters in Washington.
Michael Moore pitches his upcoming film -- "Fahrenheit 9-11: The Temperature at Which Truth Burns" -- to distributors at Cannes.
Wednesday, May 21, 2003
Ha'aretz reports that the Israel military has all but exhausted its list of options to combat Palestinian bombers, in a war that has seen a "breathtaking array of military initiatives by both sides."
Terrorism experts claim Iraq blowback, say war helped to boost al-Qaeda's recruitment and financing efforts.
Eyes on the Prize George Soros says that he's setting up a watchdog group to guard against any abuses in how the U.S. manages Iraq's oil resources.
Daily Kos reviews Hedges' "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning."
When the U.S. reshuffled the deck of most-wanted Iraqi's a few days ago, a Senior Baath Party official -- who had already been captured -- was moved to the number nine slot, from 18th. That sleight of hand is already paying PR dividends, as Reuters reports that two of the top ten on the list have now been captured.
Iraqi ex-generals returned from exile, claim Saddam is hiding in Iraq and plotting a return to power. They also say that he has ordered a name change for the Baath Party, to ''Auda,'' which means return.
"New" al-Qaeda also said to be rebranding.
Noah Shachtman describes a "stunningly ambitious research project" that the Pentagon has embarked on. He says that LifeLog is "designed to gather every conceivable bit of information about a person's life, index it and make it searchable." Plus: 'Walk This Way.'
ConWebWatch names some conservative news sites that "should acknowledge their own Jayson Blair-like credibility problems before beating up on the New York Times."
A New York Post article condemning plagiarism by one of its freelancers, who lifted an article from the National Enquirer, runs next to an ad for a company that sells term papers for $25 a pop.
'Dividend Voodoo' Warren Buffet compares his take from a dividend tax cut with that of the receptionist at his company.
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has obtained an e-mail from the Texas Department of Public Safety that ordered the destruction of all records and photos gathered in the search for Democrats who fled to Oklahoma.
Lutefrisk A co-pastor explains why his Lutheran church is suing Minnesota over a new conceal-and-carry gun law: "We personally have to inform everybody coming through the door that firearms are prohibited, so it's like 'Peace be with you, now get rid of the guns.' Which we think is telling us how to speak within our religious space." Plus: Prospect of armed fans has Vikings seeing purple.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
A Homeland Security department's visa crackdown on journalists snares six French TV reporters on their way to cover a video game expo in Los Angeles. They never made it out of LAX before being sent back to France.
As the Pentagon continues to snub France, the Telegraph reports that President Chirac is "preparing to embarrass" President Bush at the upcoming G8 Summit in France, "by laying out an agenda heavy on environmental, development and economic issues and light on the fight against terrorism."
EPA head Christie Whitman's resignation leaves environmentalists worried.
In "The Big Blackout," Salon's Eric Boehlert looks at how television news operations are ignoring the FCC debate, especially CBS and Fox, which are owned by the two conglomerates with the most to gain from a lenient FCC ruling.
Cable World's Alicia Mundy tells "On the Media" how FCC Commissioner Michael Powell struck a not so hard bargain to get his three-to-two majority in favor of deregulation. Plus: A deregulation primer and just in case there's still time to 'Stop the FCC.'
A new study finds that online product reviews are playing an increasingly important role in human discourse.
Steve Perry says the Bush administration "has done exactly what it set out to do" in Iraq, "which was to seize the country rapidly and then unveil by degrees its plan for a long-range military and business presence there. No central government? No problem. In fact, that may be the whole idea."
Sen. Robert Byrd accuses President Bush of constructing a "house of cards, built on deceit" to justify the war against Iraq.
The Christian Science Monitor surveys the body counts and finds "mounting evidence" to suggest that "between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians may have died during the recent war," making it "the deadliest campaign for noncombatants that U.S. forces have fought since Vietnam."
CNN correspondent coins the phrase "the average civilian casualty episode."
Rep. Barney Frank goes on "Scarborough Country" to explain why he called for the resignation of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, after an interview in which Wolfowitz told CNN Turk that he was disappointed with the Turkish military for not being more "forceful" in trying to convince its government to join the fight against Iraq.
Eastern European prostitutes 'invade' Oslo, aggressively stake out turf.
The Times of London says the Indonesian government's plan to intern up to 200,000 Acehnese civilians in tented camps guarded by soldiers, is similar to a technique the British used in Malaya in the 1950s, when "thousands of villagers were rounded up and put into camps to deny guerrilla forces access to food and information or the ability to camouflage themselves among the local population." More on Indonesia's offensive.
Elvis Costello defends musicians who speak their minds in these "fairly dangerous times" and warns Americans to guard against "any attempts by people who swindle their way into office."
Download the string quartet version of (What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding.
An Arab-American woman who went to court in Tarrytown to contest a pair of parking tickets, fainted after the judge asked her if she was a terrorist.
Michael Tomasky says that Ari Fleischer helped Bush fulfill a campaign pledge to "change the tone" in Washington.
Friday, May 23, 2003
The Washington Post reports on a new study from the Center for Public Integrity (CPI), which found that over the past eight years, FCC officials "have taken 2,500 business trips to global tourist spots, most of which were paid for by the media and telecommunications companies the agency oversees."
The Times of London reports on how 1,500 members of an Iraqi Arab tribe ended up living in an abandoned prison near Baghdad, after being evicted from their homes by Kurdish soldiers.
In 'Wild Weapons Chase,' Brendan O'Neill writes: "A war that was launched to 'disarm Saddam of his deadly weapons' is being re-justified as a campaign to uncover Saddam's past atrocities. This must be the first example of casus belli being discovered after the war has ended."
The New York Times reports that the CIA is reviewing pre-war intelligence on Iraq, and plans to compare it with what has actually been discovered since the war ended. The review was proposed by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld last October, before a special unit, launched by deputy Paul Wolfowitz, had become a source of outrage within the intelligence community.
"To conservatives, the Bush administration is everything its predecessor was not: decent, ethical, honest," writes Peter Beinart. "It doesn't abuse government power or the public trust...That's the claim. Here's the record..."
Wolfowitz tells Congress that U.S. forces in Iraq still face "several tens of thousands" of fighters who are sufficiently armed and organized to be considered "something close to light infantry."
Socialists turned neocons meet to ask: What next?
New York Times said to be addicted to "the crack cocaine of journalism."
Westword's Michael Roberts calls a new editorial policy at the Rocky Mountain News, that mandates a stricter approval process for Times stories that use anonymous sources, "An astonishing development, because it suggests that in a few short weeks, the Times has gone from being among the most trusted news purveyors on the planet to a publication viewed with suspicion by its peers."
Israel hires American PR experts to spin "road map" policy.
Venezuelan demonstrators expected to call for expulsion of U.S. Ambassador Charles Shapiro, over his hosting of an International Press Freedom Day event at which a comedian used a puppet to ridicule President Hugo Chavez.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Peter Oborne previews his documentary: "Here's One We Invaded Earlier." Oborne traveled to Afghansistan to see what kind of progress George W. Bush and Tony Blair were making on their pledge to build a free and secure Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban.
President Bush's re-election campaign has created a new class of fund-raisers. Those who raise at least $200,000 will be called Rangers. In the 2000 campaign the top fund-raisers -- those who brought in $100,000 -- were known as Pioneers.
Anti-Bush reelection campaign takes high-tech, high-touch approach.
The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration has suspended diplomatic contacts with Iran and appears ready to embrace an aggressive policy of trying to destabilize the Iranian government. Plus: 'Yo, Ayatollahs!' and will Iran go for the bomb?
Spinsanity looks at the 'Bush media myth' spawned by Maureen Dowd, when she used an ellipsis in a quote to imply that Bush had said al-Qaeda is "not a problem anymore."
Suspended New York Times reporter Rick Bragg says he'll quit, calls practice of sending stringers to conduct interviews that appeared under his byline "not unusual... It's what we do." Plus: 'Suspension exposes issue over bylines.'
Slate's Jack Shafer wrote that "it's dishonest for a writer like Bragg -- who prides himself in brushing literary lacquer to the down-home details he harvests -- to publish under his byline sights, sounds, and scenes collected by somebody else." Read the stories that won Bragg the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
In a Washington Post report on how Sen. Robert Byrd became the Bush administration's most outspoken critic, Byrd says that "We went through Iraq like a dose of salts. We were told by this president that Saddam Hussein constituted an imminent threat to our security. Bunk! That man couldn't even get a plane off the ground!"
U.S. general in charge of Guantanamo prisoners floats 'death camp' plans.
The Tarrytown judge who asked an Arab-American woman contesting traffic tickets if she was a "terrorist," says he won't resign. He told a TV reporter that the woman "could have received an Academy Award" for how she fainted in his courtroom.
Imad Khadduri, the former Iraqi nuclear scientist who stated before the war that Iraq's nuclear weapon program had been destroyed in 1991, says that Iraq's chemical and biological programs were also probably destroyed. Plus: Nuclear inspectors may return to Iraq this week.
In an internal e-mail obtained by the Washington Post, New York Times reporter Judith Miller tells Baghdad bureau chief John Burns that Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, "has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper."
The Financial Times reports that France concluded in early January that the U.S. had abandoned the diplomatic path to disarm Iraq via the U.N. and was already determined to overthrow Saddam.
A French newspaper reports that a Special Republican Guard chief, who is a cousin of Saddam Hussein, ordered forces not to defend Baghdad after making a deal with the U.S.
Jacob G. Hornberger says that by encouraging the Iraqi people to rise up and overthrow their government following the Gulf War, the U.S. has a moral responsibility for the mass graves that are being used "as an ex post facto justification" for the invasion of Iraq.
An Iraqi man who Saddam placed an execution order on, claims to have spent the last 20 years hiding in a space sandwiched between two walls in his parents' home.
Boozeless in Basra Islamic fundamentalists target Iraq liquor trade.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Stanley Hoffman looks at the Bush administration's "impressive but depressing record," built on a post-9/11 "manipulation of fear" and, in the case of Iraq, "a resort to Orwellian rhetoric."
"Black Hawk Down" author and Iraq war supporter Mark Bowden, says that if President Bush lied or exaggerated to make the argument for war, "What we lost in this may yet end up being far more important than what we gained."
Both the head of the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, and the author of a new book on airline security, challenge a claim made by Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta during testimony before the commission. Mineta said that prior to 9/11, "I don't think we ever thought of an airplane being used as a missile."
Newsweek's Michael Isikoff reports that the Bush administration is refusing to declassify chapters from a congressional report on 9/11, that offer details of daily intelligence briefings given to the president in the summer of 2001 and evidence pointing to Saudi government ties to al-Qaeda.
A U.S. CentCom report, now removed from its Web site, estimates that the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan dealt a $10 billion dollar blow to Pakistan's economy -- more than three times what the Musharaff government has claimed. The report, which one analyst calls "a goldmine of political ammunition for religious right wing forces," also says that more than 50,000 U.S. sorties were generated from Pakistan’s air space/soil.
U.S. looks the other way as new ally Uzbekistan steps up repression of Islamists.
Silk Route online documentary series includes two segments on Uzbekistan: 'Slouching toward Samarkand' and 'Timur is Back.'
Sewing Dissent An Iranian Communist asylum seeker, who was recently granted protection by a British court, has sewn his lips, ears and eyes to protest an appeal by the Home Office, which wants him sent back to Iran.
Lootigans? Defense Secretary Rumsfeld compares Iraqi looters to unruly soccer fans.
In a report on the branding of cable news, a communications professor uses Fox's labeling of Iraq as part of the "War on Terror," as an example of how ideology creeps into news content. Plus: Murdoch's disclaimer about acquisition plans draws laughs from U.S. senators.
'Wich Hunt How patriotic is the guy in the Subway commercials?
Following Wal-Mart's decision to stop selling "lad" mags, Los Angeles Times media reporter David Shaw checks out what's still on the shelves at the world's biggest retail chain, and finds both gun mags and violent DVDs. Earlier: 'Wal-Mart and the Compressed Culture.'
New Web site caters to whites looking to diversify their portfolio of friends.
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes Moody's announces possible downgrade for $55 million of David Bowie bonds.
A traveler returning to Israel for the first time since August 2000, a month before the second intifada broke out, writes that "I can't yet say whether the aura is that different... Maybe I'll get a better feel for the general mood after I visit a couple of brothels with my father."
Thursday, May 29, 2003
Spinsanity attempts to separate fact from fiction on the issues of WMD in Iraq, links between Saddam Hussein's regime and al-Qaeda, looting from the National Museum and what actually happened to Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is quoted in an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair as saying that "For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on." Plus: 'U.S. hedges on finding Iraqi weapons.'
Bunker Bunk? A U.S. Army colonel who has been searching the site that the U.S. bombed on the first night of the war, in an attempt to kill Saddam, tells CBS that "When we came out here the primary thing they were looking for was an underground facility, or bodies, forensics. And basically what they saw was giant holes created. No underground facilities, no bodies."
Saddam Meets Slim Shady Will the real Hussein please stand up?
Hitites Hit Back The Los Angeles Times reports that residents of Hit, enraged by house-to-house weapons searches being conducted by U.S. troops and Iraqi police, "ransacked the police station, stoned U.S. armored military vehicles and set police cars on fire."
The Daily Howler says that President Bush is making a joke of his campaign pledge that $1.3 trillion tax cut was all we could possibly afford and that the press corps is afraid to call him on it: "But that was then, and this is plunder. To all appearances, Candidate Bush has been replaced by a slick and dishonest impostor."
Leave More Children Behind A Last-minute revision in the new tax bill denies the $400 child credit increase to most families with incomes from $10,500 to $26,625. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities(CBPP) says that's almost 12 million kids, or one of every six under 17.
The Financial Times reports that a study commissioned by the U.S. Treasury Department, which estimated that "the equivalent of an immediate and permanent 66 percent across-the-board income tax increase would be needed" to close the U.S. deficit gap, was left out of the annual budget report for fiscal year 2004, published in February.
CalPundit says that tax-cutting as a strategy to starve the government is more than just a "Democratic delusion."
Bush Wars asks: 'What if there's no such thing as "al-Qaeda"?'
The Observer's Jason Burke wrote that al-Qaeda "can only be understood as an ideology, an agenda and a way of seeing the world that is shared by an increasing number of predominantly young, predominantly male Muslims." Plus: 'Poverty Doesn't Create Terrorists.'
Blogger Gabriel Demombynes wonders if NewYork Times reporter Judith Miller is wearing two hats.
IWantMedia.com rounds up the latest articles and commentary on the FCC debate.
Friday, May 30, 2003
The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration wants to limit the ability of foreign nationals to obtain judgments in U.S. courts, arguing that the suits have become a threat to U.S. foreign policy and could undermine the war on terrorism. The Post cites a brief filed by the Justice Department in the case involving a Unocal Corp. gas pipeline in Burma.
Matt Taibbi writes that "The Lackawana Six case was held in Buffalo, despite the fact that the root crime occurred outside the United States, in Afghanistan. No one, least of all Attorney General Ashcroft, disputed the idea that the U.S. had jurisdiction over this crime. When an American citizen violates American laws overseas, the thinking goes, American justice cannot be too zealous. Hard to argue with that." Except that in the Unocal case, "John Ashcroft himself argued exactly that."
The New York Times reports that the Justice Department is "using its expanded counterterrorism powers to seize millions of dollars from foreign banks that do business in the U.S., creating tensions with the State Department and some allies... in part because most of the seizures have involved fraud and money-laundering investigations that are unrelated to terrorism."
Salon's Jake Tapper says that while the failure to find WMD, and the spin being put on it, is angering U.S. allies, the American public's concern is reflected in two recent polls: In one, 41 percent said they "believe or are unsure about whether the U.S. has already found WMD in Iraq," and in another, 82 percent said they "think that any WMD have been moved or destroyed, while only 10 percent think that there were no weapons to begin with." Plus: 'How We Miss the War.'
The Guardian has extensive coverage of the row over WMD that has broken out in Britain.
Paul Krugman says describing the failure to find WMD as an "intelligence failure," ignores the fact that the agencies were pressured to tell the Bush and Blair administrations what they wanted to hear. A column that Nicholas Kristof wrote on the subject "drew a torrent of covert communications from indignant spooks who say that administration officials leaned on them to exaggerate the Iraqi threat and deceive the public."
During a radio interview, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld denies "false pretext" for war, citing the "good intelligence" that the U.S. had and Iraq's track record of using chemical weapons in the 1980s. Asked whether the U.S. was gearing up for war with Iran, Rumsfeld said, "Not to my knowledge."
The Financial Times reports that Rumsfeld "is spearheading efforts to make 'regime change' in Iran the official policy goal of the Bush administration, but his campaign is meeting with considerable resistance."
Knight Ridder reports complaints by senior administration officials, who say that Bush, Powell, Rice and other top officials are spending hours coping with Rumsfeld's "frequent, unsolicited attempts to make foreign policy." Says one regular recipient of the overtures: "The theme is control. He wants everyone to have to play on his field."
Coalition members prove less than willing to provide replacement troops for Iraq, with just 13,000 pledged from two dozen countries. The U.S. and Britain currently have an estimated 165,000 troops there.
The mayor of Krakow claims that he has been excluded from President Bush's visit to the city this weekend because of his opposition to the Iraq war.
No More Games Australia moves to dry up broad-based source of funding for Hezbollah.
The Guardian profiles Baghdad blogger Salam Pax and announces that he will be writing a regular column for the paper, but the profile fails to mention what Salam wrote on his own blog about being interviewed by the Guardian.
In his latest blog entry he writes that "One day, like in Afghanistan, those journalists will get bored and go write about Syria or Iran; Iraq will be off your media radar. Out of sight, out of mind. Lucky you, you have that option. I have to live it."
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