Sunday, December 1, 2002Cursor is off attending to administrative details this week. The next update will be December 10. Until then, please read this and consider taking advantage of our new feature.
Sen. John Kerry charges the Bush administration with using the threat of war in Iraq to distract attention from the nation's economic problems: "They sat down in August and made a conscious decision to bring that up and to dominate the discussion with Iraq."
The controversial Office of Strategic Influence is gone, but recent remarks by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld suggest that its programs are still in place.
The ACLU says that it has signed up 50,000 new members since the 9/11 attacks.
The Washington Post gives front-page treatment to the growing antiwar movement. United for Peace's Web site provides one-stop shopping for the movement and Iowans for Peace debunks myths and misinformation about Iraq.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says that it will take "probably around a year" to determine that Iraq does not possess the capability to have nuclear weapons.
Dan Savage discusses changing attitudes about S&M, following the news that an Iraq-bound U.N. weapons inspector has "played a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs." Hans Blix rejected the inspector's offer to resign.
A new book, "Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana," details the Bush dynasty's relationship with Cuban exile hardliners and says that Jeb Bush has been instrumental in securing the release from prison of militant Cuban exiles convicted of terrorist offenses. Read an excerpt.
In an interview with Esquire, the former head of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives criticizes the Bush administration for valuing politics over domestic policy: "There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you've got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It's the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis."
Howard Kurtz tells Rush Limbaugh that "this notion that this whole big news business is kind of crawling with closet Democrats, I think is like a big fat straw man that you whack away at. Without that, your three-hour show would be an hour and a half."
Rush & Me Scoobie Davis recounts his brief appearance on Limbaugh's show.
Listeners respond to a Chicago talk radio station's policy of screening out "old sounding callers."
The New York Times' $10 million oversight.
Read the transcript of Sen. John Kerry's "Meet the Press" appearance, where he announced that he's embarking on a 2004 presidential bid. Josh Marshall says that the Washington press corps doesn't much like Kerry.
Tuesday, December 10, 2002
Josh Marshall calls Sen. Trent Lott's "poor choice of words" apology "pretty feeble" and Paul Krugman writes that "choice of words had nothing to do with it. What he did, quite clearly, was offer a retroactive endorsement of a frankly racist campaign."
Concerning the lack of media attention paid to Lott's remarks before he apologized, Howard Kurtz writes that "If a Democrat had made this kind of inflammatory comment, it would be the buzz of talk radio and the Wall Street Journal editorial page would be calling for tarring and feathering."
The federal judge who rejected the GAO's attempt to force VP Dick Cheney to release records of his national energy policy task force, fought for the release of White House documents when he worked as a deputy to Kenneth Starr. Plus: Is Cheney going to ground?
Special forces soldiers in Afghanistan complain that U.S. commanders have turned down as too risky, plans for missions to attack Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters.
Robert Fisk interviews an American intelligence officer just back from Afghanistan, who says that al-Qaeda is outfoxing U.S. forces by using couriers to hand-carry notes or to repeat messages from their memory. He also says that middle-ranking Pakistani army officers are tipping off al-Qaeda about U.S.-organized raids.
Whom to believe: The assassin or the spy? A hit man for al-Qaeda's Iraqi affiliate, Ansar al-Islam, and a man claiming to be an Iraqi intelligence officer, provide different takes on Abu Wael, a mystery man who is being seen as a possible link between Saddam and bin Laden. Plus: U.S. told to put up on Iraq.
A Texas grandmother who was advised by a D.C. judge to return home after her arrest for scaling the front gate of the White House to hang a "No War on Iraq" banner, says that she's "dreamin' and schemin'" about a Christmas protest at President Bush's ranch.
Celebs to send letter urging Bush to stop his war rhetoric toward Iraq.
Noam Chomsky says that the Bush administration is "desperately eager to win an easy victory over a defenseless enemy, so they can strut around as heroes and liberators ... It's as old as history."
Jeremy Rifkin argues that the world must switch from a fossil-fuel economy to a hydrogen model, which offers a way to wrench power from ever fewer institutional hands.
The Los Angeles Times profiles security consultant Frank Abagnale, whose life as a teen con artist is the subject of "Catch Me If You Can," a new Steven Spielberg movie. Read an excerpt from the book and the buzz-wary Abagnale's reminder to his corporate clients that it's only a movie.
Blockbuster fiction feared to be going bust as sales dip for books by big-name authors.
Wednesday, December 11, 2002
In November 1980, following a speech by Strom Thurmond at a campaign rally in Mississippi for Ronald Reagan, Trent Lott told the crowd that "You know, if we had elected this man 30 years ago, we wouldn't be in the mess we are today."
"Trent Lott may want to turn the clock back to Jim Crow," writes Maureen Dowd, but Dick Cheney, "just wants to go back to a time before Vietnam and Watergate, when there was more government secrecy and less moral relativism."
Web site postings provide insight into racial views of Washington Times' editor.
A Buffalo News columnist charges the Associated Press with slipping "toward the role of government organ" in the run-up to a possible war with Iraq, because of its "broad overuse of anonymous sources for key stories on intelligence concerning al-Qaeda."
In separate interviews on CNN, "Win Without War" representatives Janeane Garofalo and Mike Farrell argued for giving inspections a chance and toning down the war talk. They appeared together on "Connie Chung Tonight," where Garofalo told Chung: "You make me nervous." CNN also devoted a talk show segment to the group and covered its press conference live.
U.S. agrees to swap secrets in exchange for an uncensored version of Iraq's weapons declaration, and claims to have better photocopiers than the U.N. Plus: Geov Parrish calls on the U.S. to declare its weapons of mass destruction.
USA Today reports that the Pentagon is preparing to use land mines in a war with Iraq, despite U.S. policy that calls for the military to stop using the mines everywhere except Korea by 2003.
Yemen demands missiles seized from North Korean ship.
HBO's "Live From Baghdad," recycles debunked myth of Iraqi soldiers throwing Kuwaiti babies out of incubators, presenting it as fact.
Israeli censors have taken the rare move of banning a film, calling "Jenin, Jenin, -- an Israeli Arab's depiction of events in Jenin during last April's military offensive -- "propaganda that represents a biased view of the group with whom Israel finds itself at war."
Israel silent on bombing of U.N. warehouse that contained enough provisions to feed 38,000 people for a month.
U.S. criticized for pushing GM food on famine-stricken countries.
The Secret Service was called in to "investigate," after two Ohio high school students turned in a classmate for wearing a t-shirt with a picture of President Bush on it and the words "not my president."
Keith Olberman says that celebrities, "have become our last unprotected minority group, the final authorized whipping boys." Plus: Watch a Mercedes ad and read Salon Premium's interview with Bill Maher.
Thursday, December 12, 2002
Mark Steel asks: "Could anyone have a more useless job than those weapons inspectors in Iraq?" He sees the pointlessness displayed in the tabloid headline 'Iraqis risk Bush's wrath with another arms denial.' "It's like a witch trial from the 12th century. If they're caught, they're guilty, if they're not caught they must be guilty."
Brendan O'Neill examines the contradictory claims about the Bush administration's plans for Iraq: "The clash between U.S. leaders and the U.N. weapons inspectors currently being played out in the world media, captures the U.S. authorities' desire to avoid the unilateral route over Iraq and its desire to continue making mileage out of the Iraqi issue."
Jonathan Raban looks at the unstable family dynasties that came to dominate the Middle East after colonial administrators drew up fantasy borders. He says that toppling Saddam would be a repeat of earlier mistakes and explains why that's just what bin Laden wants.
A Washington Post article headlined "U.S. Suspects Al Qaeda Got Nerve Agent From Iraqis," was picked up by the Sydney Morning Herald, which titled it "Bush hopeful new report will link Iraq to al-Qaeda."
Lebanon's Daily Star reports that Northern Iraq -- end point for the alleged nerve gas transaction -- is on the boil.
What Would Jesus Sell? The Weekly Standard's Stephen Bates looks at the $4 billion-a-year business of Christian merchandising, and friction within the industry between ministering to people and making money.
A daughter tries to come to terms with her 47-year-old mother's decision to get new boobs: "Now, I have never been to therapy, but no amount of it could have prepared me for that."
Some Salt Lake City viewers are claiming that their early morning newscast was interrupted by a risque segment of rogue video, that apparently included a man wearing a "Hooters" shirt with his hands down his pants.
The New York Times reports that people close to Al Gore are becoming increasingly convinced that he will not run for president in 2004: "Many of Mr. Gore's associates said he had been disturbed in the last month by what one described as 'the baggage he has with the media.' "
The Associated Press stiffs Josh Marshall, failing to credit him with uncovering a 1981 friend of the court brief that Senate Republican leader Trent Lott filed to try and help Bob Jones University keep its federal tax-exempt status, despite the school's policy prohibiting interracial dating. Atrios is all over the Lott story too.
Stanley Crouch thinks that "all the talk about a liberal media bias was bunk - at least when it comes to race ... Lott might survive all this. He is not black. If he were, and if he had associated with a racist black organization, the media would have pressed his pants while he was wearing them."
Friday, December 13, 2002
Nicholas Kristof warns that the international community is playing "a very dangerous game" in Venezuela, by not speaking up and condemning calls for army intervention to oust President Hugo Chávez.
Mark Weisbrot says that because of the Bush administration's telling silence, "Those who are trying to overthrow the government of Venezuela at this very moment know that the U.S. will do its best to recognize and support any resulting dictatorship."
Although Chávez has publicly affirmed that he will submit to a referendum in August 2003, as mandated by the constitution, Hans Dietrich explains why the coup plotters are so anxious to oust him now.
Greg Palast examines two very different power-grabs: Last April's big business-led coup in Venezuela, which failed, and international finance's coup in Argentina, which has succeeded.
Counterpunch's Jeffrey St. Clair says that former Sierra Club head David Brower must be "fuming in his grave" over the Club's refusal to take a stand against war, which Brower believed to be the ultimate environmental nightmare.
During an interview in which Eric Margolis tells CNN's Paula Zahn that he's skeptical about a report that Iraq may have sold nerve gas to al-Qaeda, Zahn incredibly asks: "You are not suggesting that a member of the administration floated this story to the Washington Post are you?"
Norman Solomon decodes some top buzz words of 2002.
Howard Kurtz profiles the resurgent Washington Monthly, a shoestring operation that's making an impact well beyond its 16,000 circulation. Plus: Read about a San Francisco non-profit that is a key to survival for many small magazines.
Paul Krugman says that the Republican Party's 'Southern strategy,' "rests on appealing to the minority of voters who do share Mr. Lott's views. But because the majority doesn't share those views, the party must present two faces to the nation. And therein lies the clue to Mr. Lott's role."
Krugman praises Josh Marshall for making Lott's remarks the issue they deserve to be. CalPundit calls Marshall and Atrios the blogs of record (may have to scroll down) on a story that has been heavily influenced by one-person operations. Tom Tomorrow -- on his blog -- invites journalists to listen to an audio tape of a third instance in which Lott remarked that Strom Thurmond should have been President in 1948.
John Podhoretz on "the Internet's first scalp."
BuzzFlash sees the hand of Karl Rove in the drive to replace Lott as the next Senate Majority Leader.
Monday, December 16, 2002
Matt Welch looks at President Bush's "habit of appointing known liars and once-convicted Republican officials to key government positions. Without much evident restraint, he is restoring long-forgotten indignities to the White House at a time when his administration is expanding the very powers that his new appointees once abused."
Snoop Dogged Online pranksters are publishing John Poindexter's home phone number, photos of his house and other personal information to protest the Total Information Awareness project that he heads.
The New York Times reports that a proposed Defense Department directive to the military to broaden secret propaganda missions to include friendly and neutral nations, has "ignited a fierce battle" throughout the Bush administration. Earlier: The Office of Strategic Influence is gone, but its programs may still be in place.
The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh says that the killing of an al-Qaeda leader in Yemen by an American Predator drone "marked a dramatic escalation" of the U.S.' war on terrorism.
In rejecting the U.S.' call for early elections in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez said that "I think they haven't properly evaluated Venezuelan affairs. They are confused. We will have to send them a copy of the constitution." Plus: Chavez speaks to U.S.' newspapers, picturing Venezuela, and more from Narco News and El Sur.
Brazilians say that their cities are becoming "Colombianized," as increasingly violent drug-trafficking gangs extend their reach into middle- and upper-class neighborhoods. Brazil's cocaine consumption is the world's second-largest -- 40 to 50 tons per year, compared to 260 tons in the U.S.
The Houston Chronicle analyzes Texas' war on drugs, and finds that of the 58,000 convictions won by local prosecutors in one county over the past five years, 77 percent involved less than a gram of a drug and that 35,000 of these small-time offenders were sent to jail or prison.
The Bush administration is reportedly refining the arguments for shifting more of the tax load onto lower-income workers.
Bill Moyers interviews Paul Krugman on the squeezing of the middle class, Sen. John McCain on money in politics and Mark Hertsgaard on his new book "The Eagle's Shadow: Why America Fascinates and Infuriates the World."
Cash of Civilizations Media Transparency reveals who's funding some of the Christian fundamentalists and Jewish neoconservatives who are calling Islam an inherently violent religion.
The Canadian government's outlawing of Hezbollah followed a news report that attributed "likely invented" quotes to Hezbollah's Lebanese leader, including his call for Palestinians to expand their suicide bombings worldwide.
In an interview with London's Sunday Times, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat demanded that bin Laden stop using the Palestinian struggle for statehood as a reason for al-Qaeda's attacks: "I'm telling him directly not to hide behind the Palestinian cause." Earlier: Palestinians accuse Israel of setting up fake al-Qaeda cell in Gaza.
Writing in the Atlantic Monthly, Rene Chun chronicles the unraveling of the greatest chess player ever in a fascinating profile titled "Bobby Fischer's Pathetic Endgame." Fischer, who applauded the 9/11 attacks, categorizes his enemies as "Jews, secret Jews, or CIA rats who work for the Jews."
Lottsa Trents Josh Marshall writes in the Financial Times that the Trent Lott affair suddenly changed the rules of the political game: "What is really dragging him down is his longer history of cavorting with the racist right. And in that he is not alone ... Having applied those new standards to Mr. Lott it will be difficult not to apply it to others." Plus: "Dunces of Confederacy" and mainstream press caught napping.
The surest way for GOP moderates to deny Lott his Senate leadership position.
Newsweek reports that White House lawyers never vetted Henry Kissinger for conflicts of interest before he was appointed to head the 9/11 commission.
The foreign companies named in Iraq's weapons declaration, and revealed only to the five permanent U.N. Security Council members, include American companies that provided materials used by Baghdad to develop chemical and biological weapons in the 1980s, according to an Iraqi official.
Tuesday, December 17, 2002
Secretary of State Powell tells an Arab newspaper that the Bush administration's demand for regime change in Iraq aims at disarmament, not ousting Saddam. Earlier: White House spokesman Ari Fleischer goes round 'n round with reporters trying to clarify whether President Bush's goal was disarmament or regime change.
The Guardian's Brian Whitaker looks at how the media, particularly in the U.S., are hyping a possible connection between Saddam and al-Qaeda: "The more we mention missing links, the more people will assume they are out there somewhere, waiting to be found."
The head of the Swiss voice-recognition institute that is analyzing the bin Laden tape for a French television network, says that "The more I work on this, the more I'm confident that it's not him." He also questions the motives of U.S. officials for insisting that it's bin Laden's voice on the tape.
In "Bush and the Saudi Princess," Mark Steyn writes that "As things stand, whether intentionally or not, there’s a reasonable probability that funds from the ambassador’s wife helped pay for the scheme that murdered thousands of Americans. And that the President knew this when he lunched with her at Crawford a few weeks ago."
The Los Angeles Times reports on new tricks of the money laundering trade, including a possible scenario that involves financing terrorism through the buying and selling of German luxury cars.
Jennifer Berkshire asks "What's behind this Hummer fever?" She says that dealers report selling some 10,000 of the $50,000 plus H2 model in recent months. Hummer's pitch: "In a world where SUVs have begun to look like their owners, complete with love handles and mushy seats, the H2 proves that there is still one out there that can drop and give you 20." "Hummer stuff" includes playing cards and a cotton Afghan.
Josh Marshall says that "Republicans are already looking to push an agenda that is, let's say, racially edgy. They don't want to hit that fight with Lott's baggage in tow." Agenda items mentioned are a scaleback of affirmative action policies, private school vouchers and appointment of conservative judges with backgrounds more questionable than Lott's.
The Washington Post also reports on the White House's fear that the Lott controversy threatens a variety of items on its agenda, and notes the ways in which "Bush has winked at the more racially angry politics of the South."
BET viewers weigh in on the network's interview with Lott, and TalkLeft examines the voting record of possible Lott successor Sen. Don Nickles. Earlier: Gay rights group bashes both Lott and Nickles for stalling James Hormel's nomination to be ambassador to Luxembourg.
Paul Krugman says that the executive order signed by President Bush last week -- barring federal agencies from discriminating against religious organizations when awarding social service money -- "didn't attract much attention amid the furor over Trent Lott. Yet it contains the seeds of a similar future uproar."
Salon interviews "shy, uptight journalist" Leif Ueland, whose book "Accidental Playboy" chronicles the months he spent as the Internet writer and photographer for Playboy's Miss Millennium search, traveling by bus across the U.S. in search of the ultimate Playmate. Here's an excerpt.
Playboy Enterprises sheds the silk smoking jacket, goes hard-core.
Wednesday, December 18, 2002
In reviewing Bob Woodward's "Bush at War," Eric Alterman writes that "We read Woodward to understand what goes on in the inner circles of power, and we come away thinking we know. We do not."
In an online-only interview with The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh says that "We're beginning what could be a hundred-years war if we don't change our policy." On getting the story, he says that "When you go into the State Department or into the C.I.A. or into the Pentagon you begin to find disparate sounds. Inside this White House, we don't hear anything ... There's almost a ferocious animosity toward people in the press who ask questions they don't want to hear."
The commandant of the Marine Corps goes on the record to dispute optimistic forecasts that Saddam's government is likely to collapse almost as soon as a U.S. attack is launched. He says that the chief of the Army agrees with his assessment.
A Los Angeles Times poll finds that 72% of respondents -- including 60% of Republicans -- do not think that President Bush has provided enough evidence to justify starting a war with Iraq.
Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins headline a lively war debate on "Donahue."
Bill Berkowitz looks at what's behind an FBI e-mail warning sent to thousands of "corporate security professionals." It said that "a loose network of antiwar groups" opposed "to possible U.S. military action against Iraq, are advocating 'explicit and direct attack upon the war machine.'"
Germany's Die Tageszeitung newspaper reports that the original Iraqi dossier listed 150 foreign companies -- including 80 German firms and 24 from the U.S. -- that allegedly supported Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.
Jeanne D'Arc muses on Billie Holiday, racism and the interpretation of words, in "Lady Sings The Dixiecrat Double Entendre Blues."
"Of Ghosts and Mississippi" Maureen Dowd imagines a conversation between Lee Atwater and his old protégé, Karl Rove, "the two boy geniuses of Southern politics."
Nathan Newman says that Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, who appears to be the White House's choice to become Majority Leader, "is literally the child of corporate medical fraud and union-busting," as a member of the family which founded what became the HCA/Columbia health care hospital chain.
Bill Maher and Michael Moore talk guns, politics, the media and America's culture of fear.
A videotape of a January 1997 going-away party for former Enron President Rich Kinde, features jokes and skits about playing fast and loose with accounting, as well as appearances by President Bush and his father.
"On the Media" interviews James Surowiecki about the new anthology that he edited, "Best Business Crime Writing of the Year."
Thursday, December 19, 2002
Chaos and Constitution Barry Lynn, who covered Venezuela for Agence France-Presse in the late 1980s, returns to a country teetering on the brink of disaster. He says that President Hugo Chavez is able to hang on primarily because of the passionate support that he enjoys among the poor, who have been empowered by a constitution that redrew the political boundaries from the ground up.
Is the U.S. funding opposition infomercials in Venezuela?
In an interview with The American Conservative magazine, Norman Mailer talks about Iraq, Israel, the perils of technology and the difference between "value conservatives" and "flag conservatives." He says of the latter, that "they believe America is not only fit to run the world but that it must run the world."
Mailer says that the idea of a war with Iraq began "to make its own kind of sense" after he read Jay Bookman's argument that "this war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire."
The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration has set the last week of January, when Hans Blix is scheduled to to make his first substantive report to the U.N. Security Council, as the make-or-break point in the standoff with Iraq.
Memo to Blix: You're in the wrong country.
U.S. intelligence officials claim to have "solid evidence" that Iraq is preparing for a scorched-earth campaign if it goes to war with the U.S., targeting its own oil fields, food supplies and power plants and blaming America for the devastation. Plus: One war, two campaigns.
With the Baghdad Stock Index up more than 50 percent this year, are Iraqi investors betting on regime change?
Islamic and immigrant groups estimate that more than 500 Middle East citizens have been arrested in Southern California in the last three days, after coming forward to comply with a new rule to register with authorities. An INS spokesman said they had violated immigration laws, overstayed their visas, or were wanted for crimes.
It was "Just another boring PBS 'Newshour,'" writes Justin Raimondo, "the droning voices of predictably safe panelists putting us to sleep, when, all at once, we are jolted wide awake."
First the Defense Department agency that's running the Total Information Awareness Program removed the biographies of senior staff members from its Web site. Now it has deleted its logo.
Joe Conason debunks an attempt by the Washington Post's Michael Kelly to prove "liberal bias" in the national media, by showing that the "independent" organization that Kelly relies on for his data is heavily funded by right-wing foundations.
Paul Waldman, co-author of "The Press Effect: Politicians, Journalists, and the Stories That Shape the Political World," looks at why journalists went after Al Gore in 2000, and why they would have done it again in 2004 -- if he had given them the chance. Plus: When the press corps booed and jeered at Gore.
The latest installment of "Ari & I" finds Russell Mokhiber continuing to hound White House press spokesman Ari Fleischer for an answer to the question: "Why is the President appointing convicted criminals like Elliot Abrams to policy positions at the White House?"
Help TomPaine.com finger the "Eli Lilly Bandit" and win $10,000!
Bill Clinton says that it's "pretty hypocritical" of Republicans to criticize Trent Lott: "He just embarrassed them by saying in Washington what they do on the back roads every day." Plus: 50 things you didn't know about Lott.
Friday, December 20, 2002
U.S. Justice Department officials say that groups with a "bias against the system" are exaggerating the number and treatment of Muslims arrested in a Southern California roundup. Iranian immigration lawyers claim between 1,000 and 2,500 arrested.
The Guardian's Indonesian correspondent reports on a marketing campaign that he says is designed "to demonstrate America's tolerance, respect and even love for Islam by showing what wonderful lives Muslims lead in the U.S."
Former labor lawyer rides a tide of anti-U.S. sentiment to victory in South Korea's presidential election.
"Sects in the City" A marketing plan for Saddam's latest work of fiction.
Hans Blix calls on the U.S. and Britain to hand over intelligence on Iraq. In an interview with the "NewsHour's" Ray Suarez, Blix is noncommittal about implementing the U.N. provision authorizing Iraqi scientists to be taken out of the country and interrogated.
D.C. police say that they will activate surveillance cameras next month -- for the first time since city officials passed new legislation -- to monitor anti-war and pro-life marches.
The Marijuana Policy Project wants to oust U.S. Drug Czar John Walters for "illegal and dishonest activities" in campaigning against Nevada's marijuana ballot initiative. The project's director goes on "The O'Reilly Factor" Friday night to discuss the war on Walters.
A Harvard School of Public Health survey finds Americans "deeply confused" over just about every aspect of smallpox. "It's staggering" says the survey's director. Plus: The New England Journal of Medicine's call to arms.
A Human Rights Watch report finds that although the U.S. used fewer cluster bombs in Afghanistan than in the Gulf War or Kosovo, it "ignored a critical lesson of past wars" by using them in or near populated areas. It also left behind more than 12,000 duds. Earlier: Deadly and cheap.
Paul Krugman says that the Bush administration has done "as little as possible, as late as possible," on homeland security, a 9/11 inquiry, corporate reform and the economy. Plus: "Bush nominates himself to chair 9/11 investigation."
John Balzar says that the administration is doing as much as possible to help companies reduce benefits to older workers, by lifting a Clinton administration moratorium on "cash-balance" pensions: "It works something like this: They get the cash, and we get the balance."
Hummer of a Deal Uncle Sam is offering big tax breaks to small-business owners and self-employed workers who buy SUVs.
Narco News blasts Associated Press for "one-sided" Venezuela coverage.
Monday, December 23, 2002
Material Bleach Scotland's Sunday Herald reports that the U.S. edited out more than 8,000 pages of Iraq's 11,800-page dossier before passing it on to the 10 non-permanent members of the U.N. security council. Plus: U.N. says war could create 900,000 refugees.
The Associated Press reports on the lack of evidence behind many U.S.' claims about Iraq.
A Western diplomat says of the rise in anti-Americanism among Pakistanis: "Over the last eight or nine months it's gotten a lot worse and that's what Osama and the people on his side want to foster. This is a real danger. This can get out of hand on a lot of levels." Plus: Pew Research survey finds "Global Gloom and Growing Anti-Americanism."
"20/20" investigation finds that amphetamines are standard issue to U.S. Air Force combat pilots.
FBI agent Coleen Rowley and two women who blew the whistle on corruption at Enron and WorldCom are Time's "Persons of the Year." Plus: How all the president's men buried Rowley and the FBI's "nasty little sequel" to the whistle-blower saga.
Political Science The Los Angeles Times reports that "researchers are complaining with rising alarm that the Bush administration is using political and ideological screening to try to ensure that its scientific consultants recommend no policies that are out of step with the political agenda of the White House."
Bush administration's top traffic safety official takes aim at hazards of SUV's.
The Guardian reports that VP Dick Cheney interceded on behalf of U.S. pharmaceutical firms to block an international agreement that would have allowed poor countries to buy cheap drugs. Said one source: "The joke in Geneva this morning is that they couldn't make a decision because the CEOs of Merck and Pfizer were still in bed."
Sean Wilentz rattles the southern skeletons in the Bush administration's closet, as he looks at how Bush gained the Republican nomination in 2000, the neo-Confederate background of Attorney General Ashcroft and the "dark past" of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.
Civil rights groups and black politicians broaden their attack to include the rest of the Republican party. Plus: Bob Herbert on "The Other Trent Lotts" and The New Republic on Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who it calls "worse than Lott."
University of Mississippi accuses three black students of faking hate crimes.
A state commission on judicial conduct has recommended that the Mississippi Supreme Court penalize a judge who publicly advocated that gays and lesbians should be institutionalized.
The New York Times reports that a proposed Internet strategy for the new Department of Homeland Security will include a requirement that ISPs help build a centralized system to enable broad monitoring of the Internet and, potentially, surveillance of its users.
New report downplays risk of an "electronic Pearl Harbor."
The Houston Chronicle looks at the war of images in Venezuela, where "some television reporters have seemed more like politicians than journalists."
Palestinians accuse Israeli police of forcing detainees to choose whether to have a nose, arm or leg broken in a sort of "lottery."
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Legitimacy of "no-fly" zones over Iraq in dispute.
Forbes names Northrop Grumman company of the year. Read more about NG's killer products and political connections and the role of the arms lobby in the Bush administration's reversal of two decades of U.S. nuclear policy.
Israeli Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compares Yasser Arafat's PLO to the Taliban, says Arafat resembles bin Laden "with very good PR." Plus: Israeli leaders accused of "driving the public into a panic" with scare tactics over a possible war in Iraq.
The Independent reports on the exploitation of toy workers in China, where 70 percent of the world's toys are made: "Sixty percent of the workers are women between 17 and 23 who live in cramped company dormitories, 15 to a room, earning 30 cents an hour."
Blogger vows to post through the holidays, but "only when i'm sober."
Looking for a last minute cause-related gift?
The Smoking Gun publishes some of the thousands of letters sent to the FCC in response to CBS's telecast of the Victoria's Secret fashion show.
Paul Krugman says that in naming three whistle-blowers as persons of the year, Time "seems to be celebrating what should have been, not what was."
Why the long faces on America's CEOs?
Corporate malfeasance reduced to advertising punchline.
Friday, December 27, 2002
Human Rights Watch wants the Bush administration to investigate allegations that the CIA is employing torture tactics in the interrogation of suspected al-Qaeda detainees. Plus: Old Israeli policy takes on an American face.
The Los Angeles Times reports on the impact of guns in Afghanistan: "For more than 20 years, guns poured into the country as foreign-backed rebel groups fought the Soviet occupation and then the Taliban. Now, those militias find themselves as the de facto government outside Kabul, answerable only to themselves."
Soviet-era guerilla commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar says that his forces have allied with Taliban and al-Qaeda fugitives and that a holy war will be stepped up to target international forces and peacekeepers.
The Christian Science Monitor reports on Al-Jazeera's 2003 plans to launch English-language programming in the U.S. It also looks at the severe restrictions that the channel faces in Middle East countries considered to be allies of the U.S. Plus: A lightning rod for controversy.
Could I Use Your Phone? Canadian authorities say that a pizza delivery man arrested last week is a link between al-Qaeda sleeper cells in the U.S. and Canada.
The New York Times reports that White House aides are pushing for a 50 percent tax cut on corporate dividends for shareholders -- at a cost of $100 billion over 10 years. Says one critic: "One wouldn't think of this as the first or second or even third measure to stimulate consumption or investment."
Hart Attack The New Republic's Michelle Cottle reports on two audacious Harvard graduate students who are laying the groundwork for another presidential run by former Sen. Gary Hart.
Homeless people help raise $3,000 for a New York City police officer who was suspended for 30 days after refusing to arrest a homeless man sleeping in a Manhattan garage.
As the Fabian Society releases a report predicting that British children will live shorter lives than their parents, financial analysts warn that the obesity epidemic presents a long-term risk to producers of fast foods, soft drinks, confectionery and snacks.
Wal-Mart pulls pregnant doll following customer complaints.
Robert Scheer asks: "Is She Dr. Laura or Dr. Strange Love?"
A British nuclear expert says that restarting its nuclear reactor could enable North Korea to produce nuclear weapons in as little as 30 days.
The Washington Post reports on a failed attempt by the U.S.to get senior Iraqi scientists to defect while they were in New York last May as part of a delegation planning for the resumption of U.N. inspections.
Monday, December 30, 2002
Almost five months after Jeremy Scahill wrote about "The Saddam in Rummy's Closet," the Washington Post gives front-page treatment to the key role played by the U.S. and Donald Rumsfeld in arming Iraq during the 1980s.
Arab leaders float the idea of approaching Saddam about stepping down and Debka reports that Syrian president Bashar Assad recently met with Saddam in Baghdad, carrying President Bush’s final ultimatum.
"Sometimes it's difficult to keep track of all the enemies of the United States," writes Carl Hiaasen, "but today Americans are in near-unanimous agreement as to who should be at the top of the list. It's Osama bin Laden or, as he's known around the Bush White House, the One Whose Name We Dare Not Speak."
As active-duty U.S. Special Forces train for a possible war in Iraq, the Los Angeles Times reports on the difficulties faced by Special Forces in Afghanistan -- three-quarters of whom are from the National Guard and Reserves. Photos here.
A leading Pakistani nuclear scientist, who is under a gag order from the country's intelligence officials, has communicated through his son that bin Laden approached him before 9/11 for help in making nuclear weapons.
Schroeder Syndrome Josh Marshall looks at a recent electoral trend, in which winning candidates in Germany, Brazil and South Korea ran on some variant of anti-Americanism. Plus: A historian warns that the U.S. "is building its rule on a foundation that is potentially quite unstable."
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the White House budget office intervened last April to stop the EPA from warning millions of Americans that their houses might contain asbestos-contaminated insulation.
"Libby's Deadly Grace" The source of the contamination was ore from a vermiculite mine in Libby, Montana, that was owned by W.R. Grace & Company. Mother Jones reported that Grace knew asbestos from the mine could harm workers and their families, but kept quiet for decades.
The Washington Post's Dana Milbank looks at the gap between the reality and the rhetoric of "compassionate conservatism." He writes that President Bush, "busy with economic and anti-terrorism policy, did not put much of his compassion agenda at the top of the legislative list."
Milbank calls education legislation the "one major success on the compassion list," but Nathan Newman says that Bush's education strategy -- more funding with higher achievement through rigorous testing -- "turns out to be a fraud." He cites broken funding promises and a new study which found that high-stakes testing does little to improve achievement and may actually worsen academic performance and dropout rates.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, the leader of the Raelians claims that Clonaid -- which he founded in 1997 -- has a waiting list of about 2,000 customers willing to pony up $200,000 each to have themselves or a loved one cloned.
Democrats say an internal White House document obtained by the Associated Press, that puts the war on terrorism and homeland security at the top of President Bush's re-election agenda, is further proof that his advisers are seeking political gain from the 9/11 attacks.
Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Geov Parrish picks the most overhyped and underreported stories of 2002.
Best booking photos of the year.
The New York Times reports on the dozens of people caught fraudulently claiming to have lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks.
As the war on terrorism falls to number seven on the Associated Press' list of the year's top stories, Ian Williams writes that the Twin Towers "have served their purpose for two opposing groups of fundamentalists, who have each used them to launch their apocalyptic visions."
Editorial cartoonist Doug Marlette is on the receiving end of an Islamist fatwa for depicting a man dressed in Middle-Eastern garb, and driving a Ryder truck bearing a nuclear missile with the caption: "What would Mohammed drive?"
U.S. officials tell the Washington Post that they have identified 15 cargo freighters that are either controlled by al-Qaeda or at its disposal, but that it's a difficult industry to keep tabs on. One calls it a "shadowy underworld," and says that "After 9/11, we suddenly learned how little we understood about commercial shipping. You can't swing a dead cat in the shipping business without hitting somebody with phony papers."
Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher argues for putting Iraq on the back burner.
Veteran war reporter Chris Hedges discusses the deadliest drug.
The all-time top 10 stories that politicians and PR people tried to bury.
Punditwatch's Will Vehrs on what he saw in 2002.
How Bill O'Reilly uses hip-hop fear-mongering to boost ratings.
"The real media war today isn't between liberals and conservatives," argues Neal Gabler, "but between two entirely different journalistic mind-sets: those who believe in advocacy, and those who believe in objectivity -- or, at the very least, in the appearance of objectivity. And what we are witnessing is not just a political skirmish but a battle for the soul of American journalism."
Slate's Daniel Gross says that President Bush and his aides are being dishonest about when the recession started.
Half-Off Sale! White House lowers estimated cost of a war with Iraq.
Rep. Charles Rangel on why he plans to introduce legislation to bring back the draft.
Supporters of Venezuelan President Chavez see strike beginning to fail.