|November, 2003 link archive
Monday, November 3, 2003In a report from Fallujah, a U.S. sergeant tells the Guardian that "It's a pay scale: $700 for an attack on a tank, $200-$300 for a Humvee, but $1,000 for a helicopter," and an Iraqi says "Ramadan has been Allah's gift to us. The streets are empty then, so we can attack the Americans without the possibility of killing our people."
In an article on the nature of the resistance, and how U.S. and U.K. officials portray it differently, the Observer quotes a former colonel in the Iraqi security services: "Most people are not doing it because of Saddam, but for religious or nationalist reasons. Some are criminals, who under other circumstances few people would have anything to do with. Some are paid, but not many." More on intelligence and recruits.
The Washington Post reports that former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has told interrogators that Saddam didn't order a counterattack when U.S. troops invaded because he thought the ground thrust was a ruse. Aziz also reportedly said that Iraq did not possess WMD on the eve of the war.
In 'Press Wars in Baghdad,' the New York Times Raymond Bonner writes that reporters interviewing Iraqis "aren't typically greeted with stories about all the schools built, or praise for what America has done. The Iraqis, typically, are glad Saddam Hussein is gone. Now they want security... And the Iraqis complain that reporters are not telling that part of the story strongly enough."
"I think it might be possible to start into the subject of withdrawal from Iraq by saying one thing," writes Tom Engelhardt. "There's a great deal of 'hype' in that 'hyperpower.'"
In the original version of a column published on the Heritage Foundation's Townhall.com, Kathleen Parker quoted "a friend and former Delta Force member" who named six Democratic presidential candidates that "should all be lined up and shot" for their "carping and undercutting of our foreign policy." Townhall.com later changed the word "shot" to "slapped."
So Help Me Scaife Charles Pierce reports on the "counterreformation" being waged by a faction of religious and political conservatives who oppose efforts to liberalize the American Catholic Church, and whose "magazines and think tanks are funded by the same foundations that have been the fountainhead of movement conservatism over the past three decades."
During a Q & A at Georgetown University, Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz told a questioner who brought up U.S.' support for Saddam in the 80s: "It seems to me that the north star of your comment is that you dislike this country and its policies." Juan Cole writes that "as a historian I try to be as even-handed as I can, and I don't like to demonize people. There are things I admire about Paul Wolfowitz. But this exchange is just so ugly and ruthless that it made my blood boil when I read it."
Lawmakers whose trip to North Korea was canceled by the White House, say they don't believe a president has ever prohibited congressional travel, except to an active war zone. Earlier: Freelancer gets chilly response from White House spokesperson to questions about the make up of the 600-person entourage that accompanied President Bush to Asia.
CalPundit retrieves a transcript that was scrubbed from the U.S. Agency for International Development's Web site. It's an April 2003 "Nightline" program, during which agency administrator Andrew Natsios told Ted Koppel that the top cost to the U.S. taxpayer for rebuilding Iraq would be no more than $1.7 billion.
Heavy Rotation On Saturday, President Bush delivered his fifth successive weekly radio address focusing exclusively on Iraq, but on the White House's Web site, two of the five are simply labeled "radio address," a more generic description than has been used to describe any of his 140 previous addresses.
A Cleveland cycling shop owner has filed a complaint with the FCC, following on-air comments made by disc jockeys at three Clear Channel stations, that bicyclists say encouraged drivers to throw bottles at bike riders or hit them with open car doors.
The New York Times magazine profiles touchy-feely radio talker Delilah, an "anti-Limbaugh" with nearly 6 million listeners, 100,000 of whom attempt to call her show every night. Plus: Study finds high levels of stress among Oprah viewers.
According to Nielsen research, nearly one in three visitors to adult Web sites is a woman, and a survey by the editors of Today's Christian Woman, found that 34 percent of its online newsletter readers said they had intentionally visited porn sites.
Charlie Reina, the former Fox News producer who wrote about "The Memo," tells the Los Angeles Times that Fox's Roger Ailes "is such a high-profile and partisan political operative that everyone in the newsroom knows what his political feelings are and acts accordingly. I'd never worked in a newsroom like that."
Scroll down to read a former Foxnews.com editor's claim that "the right-wing bias was there in the newsroom, up-front and obvious, from the day a certain executive editor was sent down from the channel to bring us in line with their coverage."
As New York Post publisher Lachlan Murdoch tries to cast doubt on an article reporting him admitting that the Post is losing $40 million a year, Rupert Murdoch's SkyTV is in a legal flap over a transsexual-themed reality show.
October 31-November 2
Tuesday, November 4, 2003
Lone Voice The New York Times reports that Senate passage of the $87.5 billion military and aid package for Iraq and Afghanistan "came on a voice vote with only six members present," and that Sen. Robert Byrd was alone in "shouting no during the vote." Byrd had more to say in "A High Price for a Hollow Victory."
The Los Angeles Times reports on the war of attrition between Iraqi insurgents and the U.S. military, as each seek an 'angle in the Sunni triangle.'
In a Washington Post op-ed, Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria argues that Iraqification, like Vietnamization before it, "is less a winning strategy than an exit strategy."
In 'Mission Demolished,' Eric Boehlert asks which was worse: pre-war intelligence or post-war planning? Plus: Richard Cohen on why VP Cheney deserves censure for exaggerating the Iraq threat, and Eric Alterman on how many of those who politicized Iraq intelligence, attempted a similar strategy with the Soviet Union in the 70s.
The Los Angeles Times profiles U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton, who answers critics' charges that he's hyping the threat posed by Syria, Libya and Cuba.
Major U.S. newspapers begin reporting all U.S. military deaths in Iraq, not just those the Pentagon attributes to combat or hostile action.
An article that airs complaints of Iraqis recently released from U.S. prison camps, notes that prisoners at one camp had respectfully dubbed a U.S. guard "al-Haji," meaning pilgrim. That's what many U.S. troops call anyone from the Middle East or South Asia, reported the Raleigh News & Observer, but it's not meant as a term of respect.
A Baghdad registrar says that "We have not recorded a single Saddam since the regime fell on April 9," but in Baiji, an oil refinery town 145 miles north of Baghdad, his counterpart tells Patrick Cockburn that over the last couple of months parents of newborn babies had started to name them 'Saddam.'
Foreign journalists will be forced to undergo security checks by Israel's Shin Bet as a requirement for accreditation, according to the head of the government press office, who said he will give the security service the names of more than 17,000 previously accredited journalists.
Israelis mark eighth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, with 100,000 calling for peace.
Bombing Hits Home As the Afghan government tries to rally Pashtun support for a new draft constitution, officials say a U.S. airstrike hit the houses of two influential Pashtuns, including a former provincial governor, killing six people.
The New York Times weighs in on the legal war being waged by Diebold Election Systems against those who are posting copies of the companyís internal memos on the Internet. Plus: California halts e-vote certification.
Kurtz also reports that Fox News was the only network to withhold permission to use interview footage for a documentary contrasting news clips of Bush administration officials with interviews of intelligence experts. Plus: Top ten boiled down to five biggest.
Wednesday, November 5, 2003
New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse looks at how illegal immigrant labor makes its way to Wal-Mart, interviewing workers, contractors, and a proud Czech recruiter, who said that "If they hired Americans, it would take 10 of them to do the work done by five Czechs." More on the Czech connection.
Last year Greenhouse co-produced a segment for "Now," on off-the-clock work at Wal-Mart and Sam's Club. Current and former employees said managers often forced or pressured them to work over-time, and through lunches and breaks without pay. Plus: Wal-Mart shops for voters.
"Democracy Now!" interviews 91-year-old Studs Terkel, who calls it "mind boggling" that Sen. Robert Byrd, has been the "one eloquent voice" talking about "the dangers of no longer being this country that is so proud of its democratic spirit and openness." Terkel also discusses his recent article: "No Brass Check Journalists."
Harper's publisher John MacArthur visited with Byrd, following "yet another in a year-long series of remarkable speeches...to a Senate Chamber as bare of people as the emperor was of garments."
The $87 billion spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, was stripped of an amendment that would have criminalized war profiteering.
The Washington Post reports that in a poll it did with ABC, 61% of respondents believe Iraq is part of the war on terrorism, but just 14% think it is the "most important" part. The article quotes pollster John Zogby, who says that in making Iraq the "central front" against terrorism, Bush has taken "what has been a policy problem and turned it into a public relations problem, and it doesn't look like people are buying that."
Nicholas Kristof also quotes Zogby, who somewhat undercuts his argument that administration officials may "have been more deluded than duplicitous on Iraq." Commenting on Vice President Cheney's use of a Zogby International poll to back his claim that there is "very positive news" in Iraq, Zogby tells Kristof that while "I am not willing to say they lied... I was floored to see the spin that was put on it; some of the numbers were not my numbers at all."
Ha'aretz reports that in a paper submitted to a U.S. Senate committee, the intelligence arm of the State Department recommended that the Bush administration apply "clear and intentional pressure" on Israel regarding the settlements, as part of making headway with the Palestinians, which it said would also help to calm the situation in Iraq.
The BBC reports that the the U.S.-appointed mayor of Najaf, who was installed last April after offering good intel about Baath Party fighters, has been jailed for 14 years on charges of corruption, extortion and false imprisonment. Locals had dubbed him "Saddam II."
Scottish Highlanders report witnessing large movements of U.S. warplanes overhead since last Saturday.
'Anonymice'† Slate's Jack Shafer complains that "the acreage devoted to anonymous sourcing has grown so vast in recent years that the press... has invited opportunistic weeds, weevils, starlings, carp, and other pests to bloom in that editorial space."
Journalism professor proposes system of warning symbols to accompany stories based on leaks.
"The media has done a completely miserable job at holding its own" against Linda Tripp's "spin-meisters," writes Eric Alterman, who he says has "portrayed herself as a juvenile, and claimed she was never charged, when all you have to do is go to look at The Smoking Gun." The CNN article that he links to has gone missing.
David Walsh writes that when CBS canceled "The Reagans," it was "apparently the first time a major network has ever removed a completed project from its schedule due to political pressure and the threat of an advertising boycott." Plus: What's next?
GLAAD says that media coverage of the controversy over the miniseries and an AIDS-related line in the script, "has largely ignored the reality of the Reagan Administration's record on AIDS."
Thursday, November 6, 2003
The Media Channel's Danny Schechter and Timothy Karr suggest Fox News as an "unlikely model" for mainstreaming the media movement: "It is important to understand how they have positioned themselves, however bogus, as critics of bias, and challengers to the status quo."
Billy Bragg's 'Tell Us the Truth' tour links trade issues with media reform.
Sen. John McCain asks the FCC to examine pay-for-play journalism.
Kroc Pot NPR gets what it calls the "largest monetary gift ever received by an American cultural institution," $200 million from the will of McDonald's heiress, Joan Kroc, which is almost twice its annual operating budget of $103 million.
As federal authorities confirm that the Patriot Act is being used in a public corruption trial involving a Las Vegas strip club owner, TalkLeft writes that "It was always the Justice Department's intention to use the powers authorized by the Act in non-terror related criminal cases and Congress, in its post-9/11 fervor, just looked the other way."
ACLU responds to new guidelines that the AP reports "enable the FBI to conduct a 'threat assessment' of potential terrorists or terrorist activity without initial evidence of a crime or national security threat."
LA Weekly's Nikki Finke on the election eve smear campaign against a Hollywood stuntwoman who accused Arnold Schwarzenegger of groping her: "What is most astonishing... is not just how little publicity it's received, but that neither the governor-elect nor his representatives have yet to apologize."
Joint Chiefs of Staff vice-chairman claims that much of the planning for post-war Iraq was put off because: We did not want to do anything that would prejudge or somehow preordain that there was definitely going to be a war."
As the Pentagon begins alerting 43,000 Reserve and National Guard troops to the possibility of yearlong duty in Iraq or Kuwait, David Lindorff reports on steps being taken to prepare for a possible return to the draft.
U.S. Special Forces interrogator charged with cowardice in Iraq, to have first court appearance on Friday. Plus: A Washington Post reporter chats online from Baghdad and Maureen Dowd on funerals and fund-raisers.
Los Angeles Times op-ed speculates that Vice President "Cheney may prove to be a bigger domestic liability to Bush than he is a foreign policy burden."
Micah Sifry reports on the CNN/Rock the Vote debate, and Rep. Dennis Kucinich's spin room confrontation with CNN analyst Joe Klein, who turned down a request that he interview Kucinich by saying: "Not in this lifetime. Life is too short.'" Earlier: Kucinich won't play "Hardball." Debate transcript and candidates' videos.
Tuesday, November 11, 2003
Earth Island Journal has posted an html version of retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner's report identifying more than 50 stories that the White House allegedly manufactured to sell the invasion of Iraq. Plus: 'How Dick Cheney Sold the War.'
U.S. Defense Department deletes Web site notice for people to join local draft boards.
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel says that he has 25 co-sponsors for a resolution calling on President Bush to sack Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Plus: 'Rumsfeld takes more friendly fire,' denies ever having made several controversial pre-war statements.
Although U.S. warplanes are once again dropping bombs in Iraq, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice says that "Major combat operations have not resumed in Iraq by really any stretch of the imagination."
Conservative talk radio turns on Pfc. Jessica Lynch.
Get a McLife! In response to McDonald's CEO complaining about the inclusion of "McJob" in the latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, a columnist for Purdue University's The Exponent, writes about the "strange new Lost Generation out there, graduating college only to work in jobs they could have had in high school."
Swedish blogger discovers that on November 10, Merriam-Webster pulled "McJob" from its Web page containing examples of new words in the latest edition.
A group campaigning against the use of RFID chips follows up on a Chicago Sun-Times report that Wal-Mart and Proctor & Gamble conducted a secret test on the chips at a store in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
European Union selects products for trade war tariffs from states which are crucial to President Bush's electoral hopes.
Should Democratic presidential candidates be "lined up and shot," or just "lined up and slapped?" Plus: Wesley Clark and Howard Dean cautioned against loose talk.
As California's Attorney General insists that Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger submit to an independent review of groping allegations, Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez looks at Schwarzenegger's plan to "put a snoop on his own trail."
U.S. Energy Secretary says "I just figured people knew..."
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
The Washington Post reports that "Israelis are losing patience with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."
Filmaker Stephen Ives, who made 'Reporting America at War,' says that "What's significant about Jessica Lynch in terms of the future, is that the Army took their own cameras along on the rescue mission. It's not too big a stretch, I believe, to imagine an ever increasingly sophisticated Pentagon shooting more and more of their own 'news.'" Plus: Launching Lynch.
A report by a UK-based international security consultancy says "The consequences of Bush's foreign policy have created new risks - and exacerbated existing risks - for U.S. companies around the world."
Reuters reports on the big business of private bodyguards in Iraq, and NBC estimates that it will cost U.S. taxpayers as much as $400,000, for each of the 1,500 private trainers hired by DynCorp to train an Iraqi police force.
In 'Bring Halliburton Home,' Naomi Klein says the "shock therapy" economic reforms that the U.S. has instituted in Iraq are illegal, and that "Any movement serious about Iraqi self-determination must call not only for an end to Iraq's military occupation, but to its economic colonization as well."
Iraq's foreign minister defends the country's governing council against U.S. criticism, blaming "American infighting" for many of the council's problems and saying the coalition has "some experts, so-called, who still live in the 1950s, in the 1940s -- some geriatric ambassadors who have a certain interpretation of how Iraq works."
Alaska man arrested for allegedly harassing anti-war protesters and kicking a puppy belonging to one of them.
The U.S. National Park Service has agreed to modify a video shown as part of an exhibit at the Lincoln Memorial. Conservative critics say that footage of historic moments and demonstrations at the memorial implies that Abraham Lincoln would have supported abortion and gay rights. Plus: 'Mount Reagan?'
Thursday, November 13, 2003
Reporters in Iraq tell the New York Observer that the Coalition Provisional Authority is severely limiting or denying access to Iraqi officials, hospitals, morgues and police stations, and that the C.P.A. feels, writes Sridhar Pappu, "more like a public-relations agency for the Bush administration than a field operation for the American press in wartime." Plus: "Live from Baghdad...itís Bush TV."
The Associated Press reports that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are becoming increasingly hostile to journalists there, prompting letters of protest to the Pentagon from an association of editors at AP papers, as well as the Washington bureau chiefs of 30 other media organizations.
The U.S. commander responsible for combat operations in the lower Sunni Triangle, tells the Washington Post: "I believe Saddam Hussein always intended to fight an insurgency should Iraq fall. That's why you see so many of these arms caches out there in significant numbers all over the country."
The Post also quotes a Bush administration official about a CIA report warning that coalition forces could lose the cooperation of Iraqi citizens if they can't get the situation under control. The official said Iraqis are "getting worried about retribution from them more than us. When that becomes a critical mass, it all could go south."
The Post article also notes that a lack of interpreters and intelligence analysts fluent in Arabic, is hampering U.S. intelligence efforts. "Democracy Now!" interviewed a former one, Pentagon Middle East analyst Peter Molan, who has become an outspoken critic of the war.
Molan was on the phone from outside of Walter Read Medical Center, where he was protesting with Veterans for Peace. Members of that group and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, were yanked from a Veterans Day parade in Tallahassee.
A New Jersey radio station -- "105.7 the Hawk" -- has banned Jethro Tull "forever," after Ian Anderson said in an interview with the Asbury Park Press: "I hate to see the American flag hanging out of every bloody station wagon, out of every SUV, every little Midwestern house in some residential area. It's easy to confuse patriotism with nationalism."
The Visionary Thing A Boston Globe article says that Republican Party officials are planning to invoke the "doctrine of preemption," in an election-year portrayal of President Bush as "a visionary acting to prevent future terrorist attacks on U.S. soil despite the costs and casualties involved overseas."
Newsday's Knut Royce reports that the U.S. intelligence community has been ramping up the Syria threat, in what he describes as "a pattern reminiscent of its pre-war reporting on Iraq's alleged nuclear program."
In an interview with "On the Media," journalist and National Security Archive founder Scott Armstrong, uses the case of Joseph Wilson to illustrate how the U.S. Congress, in the face of increasingly secretive presidential administrations, has abandoned its role of fact finder, and how the media has allowed it to happen.
Two Democratic commissioners on 9/11 panel slam restricted access agreement with White House.
Hanging With Gore LA Weekly interviews Gore Vidal, about his new book, the situation in Iraq, President Bush's re-election chances and the USA Patriot Act: "The Founding Fathers would have found this to be despotism in spades. And they would have hanged anybody who tried to get this through the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia."
Studs Terkel's editor, Tom Engelhardt of TomDispatch, writes that Terkel's new book of interviews with activists, "Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difficult Times," is "a reminder that in good times, you can do nothing and still have hopes, but in bad times, you have to act."
U.S. congressional negotiators maintain ban on travel to Cuba following a presidential veto threat. The House had voted to drop the ban by a 227-188 margin, and the Senate did the same by a 59-36 vote.
Friday, November 14, 2003
Spinsanity chronicles the Republican Party's "systematic effort" to label attacks on President Bush by Democratic presidential candidates as "political hate speech."
Dan Kennedy looks at how the "Republican Attack Machine quickly geared up," following the leak of a memo -- to Fox News' Sean Hannity -- by an aide to a Democratic member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Kennedy calls Hannity "an interesting choice...since it's hard to imagine that anyone would leak genuine news to that self-important blowhard."
The News Dissector introduces Bill Moyers' "moving and militant" keynote address to the National Conference on Media Reform. Plus: "Democracy Now!" interviews Billy Bragg and the Coup's Boots Riley, who kicked off their "Tell Us The Truth" tour at the conference.
The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh on President Bush's reelection prospects: "You have a war fought by the underclass, financed by the underclass and for the profit of the upperclass. I think Bush's going to lose unless he makes some radical change, which he's not going to do." Plus: 'Richard Perle Libel Watch, Week 34.'
Why are some Iraqi Governing Council members often outside of the country? Baghdad Burning's Riverbend writes that it's because "many of them don't have ties in it. They have to visit their families and businesses in Europe and North America. For some of them, it sometimes seems like... an interesting hobby -- a nice little diversion in the monthly routine."
U.S. said to be 'Halfway to a Kurdish Triangle in Iraq.'
Editor & Publisher reports on two separate letters of protest sent by news outlets to the Pentagon, claiming that U.S. troops are harassing journalists in Iraq.
The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Army has tightened rules on press coverage of funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, "directing that reporters be kept far enough away from the graveside that they would likely be unable to hear a chaplain's eulogy." Plus:† As not seen on TV.
Reporters and photographers were barred from covering a speech by a helicopter pilot involved in Jessica Lynch's rescue. Georgia Military College officials told journalists, who had been invited by the school to cover the event, that the pilot said he wouldn't speak if members of the media were present.
Skewering Sergeant Jessica Readers of a conservative Web slam an Illinois National Guardswoman, home on leave from Iraq, who reportedly said in a radio interview: "I believe it is in the forefront in the minds of many soldiers that we were lied to about the reasons for going to war."
Hell, No. We Won't Go. The New York Times reports that following the ousting of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a shouting match broke out between a handful of atheists and friends of Moore, one of whom told the president of the Atheist Law Center of Montgomery to "Go to hell!" I can't," said the atheist. "Hell doesn't exist."
Reuters reports on a memo intended for Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's inner circle, that said, according to government sources: "We promised the United States that we would dismantle the outposts and have not done so... not only have we not evacuated the illegal outposts, we are working in every way to whitewash their existence and build more." Earlier: 'Dr. Strangelove goes live.'
As two new DVDs and a video game starring Arnold Schwarzenegger are released, the Los Angeles Times reports on how California's next governor is profiting from an unprecedented synergy between his careers. Earlier: Marketers credit FCC's equal-time rule for helping to boost video sales, and Schwarzenegger announces sweeps appearance on the "Tonight Show."
A longtime Jesse Ventura-watcher writes that an official portrait of the former governor, 'brushes off the real Ventura,' who, "History books will likely show... spent four years thumbing his nose at the state, exploiting his position to make millions, prancing around a wrestling ring with someone called Mr. Ass, shilling for a fake football league, writing books that revealed an embarrassing crassness and -- ultimately -- leaving his voters, his party and his talented staff to their own devices."
Monday, November 17, 2003
U.S. weapons hunters tell the AP that the Iraqi scientist who headed Saddam's long-range missile program has fled to Iran: "Experts long feared... the kind of scientific brain-drain the U.S. tried to prevent as the former Soviet Union collapsed. But the Bush administration had no plan for Iraqi scientists and instead officials suggested they could be tried for war crimes."
In a report on his briefings with U.S. officials in Iraq, military and intelligence analyst Anthony Cordesman writes that according to Iraq Survey Group head David Kay, there is "No evidence of any Iraqi effort to transfer weapons of mass destruction or weapons to terrorists. Only possibility was Saddam's Fedayeen and talk only." Pdf's are here.
Billmon and Jim Lobe unpack the findings of the latest Program on International Policy Attitudes' poll, in which 87 percent of respondents said the Bush administration portrayed Iraq as an imminent threat to the U.S.
Calvin Trillin's 'Questions for President Bush's Next Press Conference' includes: "Sir, now that you've acknowledged that there was never any evidence of Iraqi involvement in the September 11th attacks by Al Qaeda, does it remain your policy that in the event of any future Al Qaeda attack against this country we would still retaliate against Iraq, and, if so, how would you avoid hitting our own troops?"
The Observer reports on U.S.' demands relating to President Bush's trip that were rejected by the British government, including the closure of Tube lines, diplomatic immunity to armed U.S. special agents and snipers, and the shipping in of battlefield weaponry to use against rioters. Plus: Trip 'was a good idea at the time.'
An Independent article on Bush's interview with David Frost, notes his dodging of a question about whether he believed British intelligence reports that Saddam could deliver chemical or biological weapons within 45 minutes, first saying "I believed he was a dangerous man." And when asked a second time: "Well, I believed a lot of things."
Citing a leaked memo as proof of a connection between bin Laden and Saddam, The Weekly Standard reported 'Case Closed.' The U.S. Defense Department dismissed the report, but not before Fox News spent all day Saturday pumping the story, and trumpeting the Standard's "close ties to the White House," without ever mentioning the magazine's closer ties to Fox.
"Neocons come up with the harebrained idea," writes Josh Marshall. "The U.S. Army takes it on the chin. And the CIA, the State Department, the Democrats, miscellaneous foreign moderates and other deviants get saddled with the blame. A nice division of labor, ain't it?" Plus: Casualty count tops 9,000.
U.S. agrees to international control of its troops in Iraq?
A Los Angeles Times report finds "no indication that the Iraqis are up to the challenge," of meeting the U.S.' timetable for "Iraqification," and that U.S.' claims about the number of Iraqis in uniform -- estimates have more than doubled to 130,000 in five weeks -- "suggest a far more formidable force than the one that exists." Plus: 'Shiites Impatient For Vote.'
The Guardian reports that a Hollywood movie released last month -- "Beyond Borders" is "beyond bad" -- has provoked an angry response from aid organizations, for its suggestion of a relationship between the CIA and NGOs.
After spending $24 million to study privatizing the federal payroll, the U.S. Forest Service is outsourcing less than 250 jobs, with 41 of those -- in Utah and Montana -- costing the government an additional $425,000 a year. One of the outsourced was called back through a temp agency -- without benefits and at $4 less per hour.
In 'Getting Warmer,' The New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert writes that "President Bush, defending his opposition to all forms of carbon regulation, claims that he is waiting for a scientific consensus to emerge -- even as his administration has been working hard to suppress the inconvenient fact that such a consensus already exists." Plus: 'Backdoor Assaults.'
Bill Berkowitz reports on the launch of Partnership for the West, an industry-sponsored effort aimed at trumpeting so-called "common sense" environmentalism, that he says "represents a kinder, gentler and more politically savvy brand of anti-environmentalism."
Endangering Species Frederick Sweet says a new Bush administration initiative, encouraging the capture and import of animals on the brink of extinction in other countries, is "turning animal conservation on its head."
The New York Times profiles John Buffalo Mailer, son of Norman Mailer and the new executive editor of High Times. He says the revamped magazine will use marijuana "as a metaphor. So it's not a magazine about pot, it's a magazine about our civil liberties, and our tag line is 'Celebrating Freedom.' Our feeling is it's patriotic to be in High Times." Earlier: 'Inside Dope.'
Tuesday, November 18, 2003
The New York Times reports that China's first minimum fuel economy standards on new cars will be "significantly more stringent than those in the U.S.," out of concern for energy security, not global warming.
A Washington Post article on the political stakes over energy and Medicare legislation, quotes a GOP aide saying that party leaders "basically threaded a needle to get a bill AARP can endorse and Ted Kennedy can't."
'Funds and Games' Paul Krugman says the mutual fund scandal took so long to become visible because "On any given day, the losses to each individual investor were small... But if you steal a little bit of money every day from 95 million investors..."
Back to the Futures Private company says it will launch futures market on Middle East terror in March 2004.†
Just Asking After a CNN reporter explained that before destroying four homes north of Tikrit, U.S. forces had "double-checked to be sure that [neighborhood] residents had a chance to leave, and to collect some personal belongings," anchor Carol Costello said: "Well, there are probably two-fold reasons for that. U.S. forces certainly don't want to kill civilians in this latest bombing effort, right?"
Juan Cole says that a San Francisco Chronicle reporter pulled off a coup by landing an interview with Grand Ayatollah Kadhim al-Haeri, a leading Iraqi religious authority still in Iran: "Al-Haeri is a Khomeini style radical, unlike Najaf's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the leading religious authority in Iraq."
World's fastest-growing economy? "60 Minutes" reports that it's Equatorial Guinea, because it has so few people and so much oil. Human rights advocates criticized the U.S. for reopening its embassy there last month, after an eight-year shutdown.
London's Evening Standard reports that "U.S.-based multinationals have been told they will receive compensation from American trade authorities if they cancel contracts in Britain and take jobs home," according to the head of a British industry group.
A proposal before the European Union threatens sanctions on products from swing states, unless the U.S. drops tariffs on imports of British steel.
Brendan O'Neill asks "What's behind this Bush - bashing?... Like every other modern president, he has launched wars, told half-truths and untruths, and acted in the interests of America's capitalist elite - hardly Stop the Press stuff." Plus: 'IVINS THE TERRIBLE!...just like Ann Coulter!'
Fox News reports that the New York Times Book Review "is coming under increasing fire for what some authors are calling a liberal bias." The article's "fire" is provided by one bookstore manager and "some authors," Coulter and Bill O'Reilly.
Weekly Standard' executive editor Fred Barnes gets very excited about his magazine's 'Case Closed' article on links between bin Laden and Saddam: "These are hard facts. You can call it speculative. You can call it cotton candy. These are hard facts, and I'd like to see you refute any one of them!" Plus: CIA seeks probe of memo leak.
An Asia Times reviewer writes that "A Heart, a Cross, and a Flag: America Today," a collection of post-9/11 articles and columns by Peggy Noonan, delivers "the baffling reactions of an opportunist pleased somewhere underneath that a colossal national tragedy has succeeded in mainstreaming the brand of ideology that she happens to cherish."
Interviewed for a New York Times article on Rush Limbaugh's return, William Bennett "sought to distinguish his own shortcomings from the conduct of Limbaugh... 'Not an addiction,' Mr. Bennett said of his own actions, as if ticking off a list of talking points, 'not a problem, no therapy, gambling too much, stopped it.'"
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
In contrast to recent estimates by Bush administration officials that there are between 1,000 and 3,000 foreign fighters in Iraq, a U.S. commander said "most of the attacks on our forces are by former regime loyalists and other Iraqis, not foreign forces." Another commander, reports the New York Times, said that since last May, his men had captured perhaps 20 foreign fighters trying to slip into the country from Syria, Turkey or Iran.
U.S. occupation officials in Iraq, reportedly under pressure from the White House, have launched a media offensive that includes a return to the type of briefing operations that occurred during the war's major combat phase. Plus: 'Dear Media,'
Another Guatemala? Robert Parry writes that "many top Bush aides played key roles in the repression of leftist peasant uprisings in Central America in the 1980s, a set of lessons the Bush administration is now trying to apply to the violent resistance in Iraq."
In an article headlined 'Experts See Major Shift in Al Qaeda's Strategy,' the Los Angeles Times reports that "Through an evolving and loose alliance of semiautonomous terrorist cells, the network has been able to export its violence and 'brand name' with only limited involvement in the attacks themselves."
The Washington Post reports that the shipping of a Syrian-born Canadian citizen to Syria -- where he says he was tortured for ten months -- was approved by a senior U.S. Justice Department official, under a U.S. immigration law that prohibits sending anyone to a country where "it is more likely than not that they will be tortured."
Mexico sacks ambassador to U.N. for speech in which he said "The U.S. isn't interested in a partnership of equals with Mexico, but with a tight relationship of convenience and subordination. They see us as a backyard." He also called Mexico's decision to join the NAFTA, a "marriage of convenience" that "never got beyond the level of a weekend fling"
The Globe & Mail reports that during the Free Trade Area of the Americas talks in Miami, "there will be bitterness inside the meeting rooms as well as out in the street among the protesters. There's a strong feeling in Latin America that the region has been cast adrift as Mr. Bush pursues 'evil-doers' abroad and votes at home."
Slate's Jack Shafer asks why the mainstream press is avoiding The Weekly Standard 's Case Closed," which was mainly confined to the Rupert Murdoch-owned outlets that simultaneously reported on it. Plus: 'The media baron, the reporter and the dictator.'
CalPundit introduces Wesley Clark's combative interview with Fox News' David Asman.
Howard Dean calls for "re-regulation" of U.S. businesses: "In order to make capitalism work for ordinary human beings, you have to have regulation. Right now, workers are getting screwed." Read the text of the "Enron Economics" speech that he delivered in Houston.
'Bush says he will lead fight to ban unions.'
Media critics discuss the Internet's impact on their work. The Toronto Star's Antonia Zerbisias said she can't remember her first brush with cyberspace, "But I distinctly can remember having much more of a life before I ploughed through some 50 favorite Web sites/blogs a day, not to mention hundreds of e-mails."
"Freedom to Advertise Coalition" strikes back at Commercial Alert, which called for on-air disclosure of product placements. Read Commercial Alert's response. Plus: 'Marketing in places that were once free of messages.'
ABC News reports that Rush Limbaugh "may have violated state money-laundering laws in the way he handled the money he used to buy the prescription drugs to which he was addicted."
Thursday, November 20, 2003
The AP reports that a man calling the Anatolia news agency, claimed that al-Qaeda and the militant Islamic Great Eastern Raiders' Front, jointly claimed responsibility for the Istanbul bombings of the British consulate and a London-based bank. Earlier: 'Jews in Turkey -- a bombing at odds with history.' †
The Guardian reports that "International lawyers and anti-war campaigners reacted with astonishment," after Richard Perle told a London audience that the invasion of Iraq was illegal, saying "I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing."
Head of U.S. office overseeing the issuing of 25 Iraq rebuilding contracts worth $18.7 billion, promises "maximum transparency," but would-be contractors attending a conference on the process, were told to bring their own security to Iraq.
The AP interviews three Iraqis claiming to be part of the insurgency, who describe themselves as Baath party loyalists, but say they have no allegiance to Saddam and that he's not directing the attacks.
President Bush nominates Texas oil lobbyist to replace Texas oil lawyer as U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Defense trade ranks Israel number three in weapons exports, as value of contracts skyrockets from $2.6 billion to $4.1 billion in one year, on growing sales to Turkey and India. Plus: Venture capitalists talk of partnering with Arafat.
A Washington Post analysis of President Bush's London speech, says that silence greeted his call for Europeans to "withdraw all favor and support from any Palestinian ruler who fails his people and betrays his cause."
The BBC reports that the "Chasing Bush" campaign is encouraging mobile users to send location reports and images, and to "disrupt the PR" of Bush's visit to London by spoiling stage-managed photos. Plus: Trafalgar Square Webcam.
Neverland's Calling† "Nightline" weighs covering President Bush in London or Michael Jackson: "So if he is arrested, should we cover that tonight... The staff is about evenly split. Some think it's a big story that we would have to do, others don't want any part of it. So what will happen?" Plus: Kobe Uncovered!
U.S. House and Senate negotiators defy White House veto threat in agreeing to provision preventing FCC from relaxing media ownership rules.
The AP reports that media cultures clashed at the first of what Gov. Schwarzenegger promises will be many news conference, "saying the press proved an invaluable help to him in years of becoming a bodybuilding sensation and movie star."
New owner of plan for liberal talk radio network said he expects to be broadcasting by early next year.
Although readership declined at two out three magazines measured by an industry research group, the Nation reached a milestone among opinion journals, surpassing the National Review in circulation. Plus: 'Liberals Fight Back; Pundits Are Shocked.'
Winey Liberals† A Los Angeles Times poll finds that those who drink wine with dinner prefer a Democrat over Bush for 2004 by 7 percentage points, and those who drink beer back Bush over a Democrat by 23 points.
Friday, November 21, 2003
'Terrorism Inc.' The Washington Post reports on al-Qaeda's franchising of its "brand of synchronized, devastating violence to homegrown terrorist groups across the world," with the main link among the groups, according to an FBI official, being shared experiences in Afghan training camps. Earlier: 'Experts see major shift in al-Qaeda's strategy.'
German spy chief warns that Iraq is becoming a new rallying point for a resurgent al-Qaeda, and that the West is "in the process of losing the battle for people's minds."
A Baltimore Sun editor calls on the Bush administration to ask for help in stabilizing Iraq, "even if it means Washington doesn't have full control. And come next November, Americans should remember this November - and who took us on this ill-fated, deadly adventure."
GOP's first TV ad of presidential race criticizes potential challengers and includes line: "Some are now attacking the president for attacking the terrorists."
Smash the State Michael Kinsley writes that since Nixon's southern strategy, "Republicans have had a talent for geographical chauvinism...Wherever a Democratic candidate happens to be from, [Massachusetts, Arkansas, Vermont] that place turns out to be isolated and unrepresentative and not part of the real America."
The Boston Phoenix reports on an "unusual collaboration" between two Vermont newspapers and a small literary publisher, Steerforth Press, that produced the book, "Howard Dean: A Citizen's Guide to the Man Who Would Be President." Plus: Marketing Dean.
One of Steerforth's founders is Thomas Powers, who wrote "The Vanishing Case for War" in the latest issue of the New York Review of Books, and who shared a Pulitzer Prize in 1971 for reporting on Weather Undergrounder Diana Oughton, who died in an explosion at a bomb-making factory in Greenwich Village.
Corporate Misgovernance Orville Schell says that despite the "business-style mind-set" of Bush administration officials, they did a poor job of due diligence before committing to a Middle East "merger," and were "so ginned up over their inevitable success that they never bothered to develop a viable exit strategy."
Billmon looks at some of the ways in which Iraq "sucks up people and resources at an alarming rate, but yields absolutely no offsetting advantages in the struggle against jihadism."
Toma Hawks What to do when 550 mph and a 1,500-mile range just isn't enough?
In an interview with Salon, former Sen. Max Cleland blasts the Bush administration's stonewalling of the 9/11 commission that he serves on, its attempt to make Iraq America's "51st state," and Bush's flight-suit photo op after "hiding out" during Vietnam. Plus: 'Why Chickenhawks Matter.'
Intervention's Frederick Sweet reports on the Bush administration's blocking of a federal court's award of more than $900 million in frozen Iraqi assets to seventeen former POWs who were tortured during the Gulf War. Earlier: 'U.S. opposes money for troops jailed in Iraq.'
Asked about the issue during a press briefing, White House spokesman Scott McClellan repeated some version of the following five times: "...there is simply no amount of money that can truly compensate these brave men and women for the suffering that they went through at the hands of Saddam Hussein's brutal regime."
Israeli military admits that it gave journalists incorrect information about last month's helicopter attack on a Gaza Strip refugee camp in which at least 10 Palestinians were killed and more than 55 injured. Plus: "The lie of the land."
Monday, November 24, 2003
Write of Return An Egyptian novelist begins an account of her trip to the West Bank with: "I thought it was bad three years ago. Now the landscape itself is changed." Plus: "Good neighbors make good fences. Not the other way around."
A Ha'aretz commentator writes that "While the politicians lie in order to perpetuate the occupation, the workers learn to lie in order to justify it... Lying has become a way of life for commanders and soldiers, lawyers and clerks, most of whom are far from having right-wing views and many of whom loathe the occupation."
George Packer talks about his "Liberators and Occupiers" article for The New Yorker, with photographs by Gilles Peress. The article details bureaucratic bungles by the military, including how a plan for securing Baghdad after the fall -- the museum was number two on a list and the Oil Ministry was last -- never made it out of Kuwait.
U.S. Senate Democrats fall behind in updating "Daily Tribute to the Troops."
Political crisis that resulted in the resignation of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, called "astonishing for its speed and lack of violence..." Plus: Once global fight for influence between U.S. and Russia, now edges much closer to Moscow.
The White House had sent James Baker to Georgia to push Shevardnadze to hold free and fair elections. The Carlyle Group, which also employs Baker, is reportedly considering taking a stake in Hollinger International, whose board members include Richard Perle and Henry Kissinger.
'Yes, Imagine That' Josh Marshall flags a Washington Post editorial that includes the line: "For Democrats thrilled with the Soros millions, imagine conservative financier Richard Mellon Scaife opening his bank account on behalf of Mr. Bush."
George Soros vs. Rev. Sun Myung Moon: A consumer's guide to political sugar daddies.
"If Ronald Reagan was the Great Communicator," says Time in its 'Love Him, Hate Him President,' cover story, "Bush is proving to be the Great Polarizer."
California to become first state requiring that all electronic voting machines produce a voter-verifiable paper receipt.
In a Washington Post article on the $125 billion in subsidies that the Medicare bill provides to the health care industry and U.S. businesses over the next decade, a Medicare administrator is quoted as saying that employers "should be having a giant ticker-tape parade." Earlier: Companies "got exactly what they wanted, and then some."
Critic of AARP survey points out leading nature of question that garnered 75% support for Medicare bill: "Even if this plan won't affect you personally either way, do you think it should be passed so that people with low-incomes or people with high drug costs can be helped?" Plus: 'The Long Count.'
As ten thousand people protested the former School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, the U.S. Army blared anthems and martial music from loudspeakers positioned just inside its gates. More from SOA Watch.
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid interviews U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces, who "say they are torn between loyalties to family and faith, country and personal welfare. They have yet to determine where they stand." Earlier: U.S.' claims of 130,000 Iraqis in uniform, "suggest a far more formidable force than the one that exists."
U.S. officials say that while attacks on American troops in Iraq have declined recently, strikes against Iraqis are up.
Iraqi Governing Council shuts down Al-Arabiya satellite TV channel, which it accused of "inciting murder" for broadcasting an audio tape last week of a voice it said belonged to Saddam Hussein. Reporters Without Borders says channel not guilty of inciting murder.
A CBC production titled "Deadline Iraq: Uncensored Stories of the War," includes an interview with a French TV reporter who was in the Palestine Hotel when it was shelled by a U.S. tank, and who claims that she never heard shots fired from the hotel. Additional transcription by CincyDemo blog.
The head of Consumers Union describes an agreement between Congressional negotiators and the White House, setting TV networks' ownership caps at 39% of the U.S. audience, as "A backroom deal to let the two largest networks [CBS and Fox] keep all of their stations."
In "The Miami Model," "Democracy Now!'s" Jeremy Scahill describes the hand-in-glove relationship between the police and the media during the Free Trade Area of the Americas protests. Read more about Police Chief John Timoney, and watch or listen to "Mayhem in Miami," -- linked in the right-hand column.
'Fragments of the Future' "It's popular to say that corporate globalization is war by other means," writes Rebecca Solnit, "but what went down in Miami during the FTAA skipped the part about other means." Plus: Steelworkers union calls for Congressional investigation into "massive police state."
A Washington Post report on President Bush's visit to Fort Carson, notes that "White House aides said the meeting was Bush's third with families of fallen soldiers since the war in Iraq began... Over the same period, Bush has headlined 41 Republican fundraising receptions."
Reality Check A new TV ad for Sen. John Kerry, titled "No Mr. President," counters the Republican National Committee's "Reality" spot, which says "Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists."
New York Times executive editor Bill Keller says he will announce a new policy cutting back on the use of anonymous sources. The Washingtonian has a 'Reader's Guide to (SAOs) Senior Administration Officials.'
Historians question claim made by California Governor Schwarzenegger in his inaugural address, that he saw Soviet tanks in the streets when he was growing up in Austria.
In a commentary on the coverage of Michael Jackson, the Los Angeles Times Tim Rutten writes that "it's hard not to dismiss the whole thing with a weary quip: The circus is back in town. The problem is that, nowadays, the circus never leaves." Plus: Cable news ratings spike up on Jackson coverage.
In response to a CNN anchor asking if the Jackson story didn't present an opportunity for a broader discussion of pedophilia, Salon's Eric Boehlert said: "I think most 12-year-old boys know you're not supposed to sleep with 40-year-old men. And if they don't, they're not going to learn about it from watching the cable news channels."
A journalism professor tells USA Today that ''Replacing hard news with pop culture fits both the attention span of many, plus it doesn't offend the White House or advertisers.†The 'Vast Wasteland' is at hand.''
Talkin' Turkey "Angry/drunk uncle" has a few words for TV types.
The AP reports that more than two dozen FM stations have already switched to an all-Christmas-music format. "Maybe it's the mood of the country," says a Clear Channel programmer. "Maybe after 9/11, and with the war, people want an early pick-me-up."
Wednesday, November 26, 2003
The Washington Post reports on how a religious edict issued in June by Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric -- calling for general elections to select the drafters of a new constitution -- forced the U.S to change its plans for political transition. Plus: 'Sistani's Fatwa trumped Bremer.'
Cynthia Cotts profiles Dr. Abdul Samay Hamed, "one of Afghanistan's sharpest political satirists," who was knifed by an unknown assailant last April, and who was recently given an International Press Freedom Award by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). See this year's other recipients.
Embed With Guerrillas? Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and General Richard Myers, say they have evidence that Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya cooperated with Iraqi insurgents to witness and videotape attacks on American troops.
The AP reports that Britain and France want to turn the U.N. inspection force that worked in Iraq before the war into a permanent agency to investigate biological weapons and missile programs. Diplomats and U.N. officials say that the U.S., like Syria and Pakistan, opposes the idea. Plus: U.S. undermining Musharraf?
The Los Angeles Times' op-ed page features pro and con articles on a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda, by the Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes and Alternet's Christopher Scheer. Plus: 'Pundits overstate links.'
Enhancing Reality The Republican National Committee digitally reworked President Bush's State of the Union Address, cleaning up a verbal blunder for its recent "Reality" TV spot.†
'Treason's Greetings' "In 30 seconds," writes William Saletan, "this ad distorts the Democrats' views and impugns their motives more crudely than the Democrats have done to Bush in two years." Al Gore says the ad's message is "something you would find in a down-and-dirty sleazy campaign for city council."
Prospect of Rep. Katherine Harris making a U.S. Senate run, touches off an early battleground state battle.
Members of the press covering President Bush's appearance before soldiers at Fort Carson, were told there would be no talking to the troops before, during or after the rally. Plus: ' Warrior died serving 2 nations.'
In an excerpt from "The Sorrows of Empire," Chalmers Johnson writes that while the Gulf War produced a total of 760 casualties in 1990 and 1991, "as of May 2002, the Veterans Administration reported that an additional 8,306 soldiers had died and 159,705 were injured or ill as a result of service-connected 'exposures' suffered during the war." Plus: Johnson on assassination squads.
David Corn examines the White House's stonewalling of Congress and the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, over a July 2001 intelligence warning and the President's Daily Brief for August 6, 2001.† Plus: One man's crusade against government secrecy.
The Environmental Working group looks at how buzzwords crafted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz (LuntzSpeak), were used to position energy legislation.† MSNBC continues to mislead viewers by failing to mention Luntz's political leanings. Plus: "Buchanan and Press" canned.
Fronting for Arnold An analysis of Bay Area newspapers found that Arnold Schwarzenegger was given far more front page headlines than any other recall candidate, even before he became the front-runner, and that in the final 11 days of the campaign, his image covered nearly as much of the front pages as all other candidates combined. Earlier: Pundits and reporters inflated size of state budget deficit.
Charles Pierce calls a Texas Monthly profile of White House communications director Dan Bartlett, "a gooey valentine to a paid liar," adding that "It remains a mystery to me how they manage to get the whole White House press corps onto the back of that turnip truck to bring them to work every morning." (Scroll down to 'What search engines say about Bartlett.')
Behind the Times The New Yorker profiles a man who, despite spending more than two hours each day reading the New York Times, is "One year, five months, and four days behind, which places him in late June, 2002."†
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