|December, 2003 link archive
Monday, December 1, 2003In a Rolling Stone article headlined 'Crimes Against Nature,' Robert F. Kennedy Jr. rails against the Bush administration's "ferocious three-year attack" on the environment, that has included the initiation of "more than 200 major rollbacks of America's environmental laws." More from Kennedy in an interview with Salon and a speech at the National Press Club.
The Washington Post reports on grassroots organizing efforts by President Bush's reelection team, which claims to have an e-mail list of 6 million people and "is trying to build an army of millions of volunteers to go door-to-door next year to talk to potential voters." Earlier: Midwesterners not buying door-to-door pitch.
Bill Moyers interviews former New York Yankees pitcher Jim Bouton, whose book "Foul Ball" details his run in with a chain-owned newspaper in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, over Bouton's attempt to refurbish a minor-league ballpark.† Earlier: 'Bouton enjoys a good fight.'
'Rollback Hoax' Josh Silver charges the Congressional leadership and the White House with using "tricky tactics and trickier legislation to create the illusion of a partial FCC rollback while serving up yet another give away to Big Media."
The New York Times reports that newly formed Progress Media says it's close to acquiring stations for its liberal radio network in 5 of the 10 largest media markets, and that the network has hired the oft-quoted Martin Kaplan to host a talk show about the news media. Plus: Meet Ed Schultz -- talk-radio's 'Great Liberal Hope.'
Anne Applebaum can't imagine how something as important as the Medicare bill could have been passed with so little public discussion: "It's as if we as a nation have lost our appetite for grand domestic policy debates." Plus: "Michael Jackson" battles "Medicare."
The author of a book on the AARP says that $636 million empire's "chimerical lobby wholeheartedly represents only what a few paid staff leaders decide is best for all older Americans." And Ralph Nader asks: "If Sam's Club can negotiate for lower pharmaceutical prices, why can't Uncle Sam?"
In a column on Republican arm-twisting tactics, Robert Novak says that retiring Rep. Nick Smith was told that if he switched to a yes vote on the Medicare bill, his son, who is seeking to replace him, would receive $100,000 from business interests for his campaign: "But Smith refused.† Then things got personal."
U.N. unveils plan to rush AIDS drugs to three million of the world's poor by 2005, which is the number that are expected to die from the disease this year.
TalkLeft introduces a Time article that quotes a U.S. military official saying at least 140 Guantanamo detainees will be released at "a politically propitious time," and reports that, according to U.S. officials, "some detainees were there because they had been kidnapped by Afghan warlords and sold for the bounty the U.S. was offering for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters."
The Los Angeles Times reports on concerns by two former top Justice Department officials -- one a chief architect of the Patriot Act -- about aspects of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policy, including the government's power to designate and detain "enemy combatants."
The Washington Post editorializes that "One of the great problems with the legal response to 9/11 has been Congress's unwillingness to do its job and write law."
Senior Palestinian officials will attend a ceremony for the "Geneva Accord" peace plan, which according to a recent poll, is supported by a majority of Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis were phoned for the poll, while Palestinians had to be interviewed in person.†
The New Yorker has posted George Packer's recent 'War After the War' article, describing what Matthew Yglesias calls the "pathetic plan A for postwar Iraq." Gulf War vet and "Baghdad Express" author Joel Turnipseed writes that the article will allow you to gloat over the incompetence of Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld, "while at the same time forcing you to ask yourself: 'And why not for the Iraqi people?'"
The Los Angeles Times reports that while the U.S. military says that 54 Iraqi insurgents were killed during fighting in Samarra, hospital officials there put the toll at nine people killed and 80 injured. Plus: U.S. military accused of under-reporting American casualties.
The U.S. plan for a political handover is already "on the fast-track to dead letterhood," writes Josh Marshall, because it's "being gamed by Iraqi political leaders who've clearly got more power on the ground than we do."
Iraqis celebrate end of Ramadan with trip to "weed-choked" Baghdad amusement park.
The Washington Post reports that two hours after returning from the Baghdad airport to President Bush's Texas ranch, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice "appeared on five network TV morning shows. She later told reporters that the visit had no political elements." Plus: 'Afterglow fading on PR coup,' as ' Purported Bush tape raises fear of new attacks.'
Bush was mouthing the war on terror's "newest bad cliche," when he told troops: "You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq, so we don't have to face them in our own country."
Tuesday, December 2, 2003
The Los Angeles Times reports that due to a deteriorating security situation in large areas of Afghanistan, plans to hold presidential elections in June may be in jeopardy.
An Asia Times correspondent goes 'On the job with a Taliban recruiter,' as he makes the rounds of mosques, madrassas and social gatherings in the Pakistani border area with Afghanistan.
A San Francisco Chronicle reporter interviews a Jordanian university student, who claims to have been launching hit-and-run attacks against U.S. forces after being smuggled into Iraq during summer recess. He says that he came out of religious conviction, has no link to al-Qaeda and holds no brief for Saddam or his supporters.
In an e-mail message to retired Col. David Hackworth, a "combat leader" who claims to have been involved in the Samarra battle, writes that "most of the casualties were civilians, not insurgents or criminals as being reported... We drive around in convoys, blast the hell out of the area, break down doors and search buildings; but the guerrillas continue to attack us. It does not take a George Patton to see we are using the wrong tactics against these people."
Echoing Matt Labash's Weekly Standard article, Jay Bookman writes that statements by President Bush and others that "depict our struggle in Iraq as some sort of defense of the American homeland...are simply false."
British Airways is disputing a White House claim that one of its pilots made radio contact with Air Force One during President Bush's flight to Iraq. A New York Times article attributed the claim to communications director Dan Bartlett, while an AP correspondent, "Aboard Air Force One," reported the alleged encounter as fact.
Interviewed on "Democracy Now!" about Bush's trip, Harper's publisher Rick MacArthur suggested that "some kind of shock and awe technique" be used on America's mainstream press. Plus: 'Mass Media, Mass Ignorance.'
A letter writer to Romenesko asks: "Is it me or is it simply stunning that Bob Somerby can do in one column what most journalists so try to avoid, that is to actually evaluate what politicians and journalists actually say?" Plus: Somerby describes a panderthon between NBC's Tim Russert and "Arrogance" author Bernard Goldberg.†
The New York Times reports on the widening gap between the U.S. and Canada over social and cultural issues. Read an excerpt from "Fire and Ice: The United States, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values." Earlier 'Whoa! Canada!'
The above articles quote satirist Rick Mercer, who got candidate Bush to thank fictitious Prime Minister "Jean Poutine" for his support during the 2000 campaign, and who was credited with a widely-circulated apology to America.
A Catholic priest who lives in a small New Mexico town, and whose antiwar views are known throughout the state, describes how a local National Guard unit that is scheduled to be deployed to Iraq early next year, conducted exercises at his front door.
A Florida National Guardsman will be discharged over his marriage to an Iraqi woman while on a foot patrol in Baghdad, according to his lawyer, who said the soldier is being punished for divulging the time and location of the patrol to his bride and the Iraqi judge who married them.
"Every generation has its taboo", writes George Monbiot, "and ours is this: that the resource upon which our lives have been built is running out. We don't talk about it because we cannot imagine it. This is a civilization in denial."
Diebold Inc. reverses strategy and agrees not to sue students, computer scientists and ISP operators involved in publishing e-mail correspondence that raised security concerns about its electronic voting machines. Rep. Dennis Kucinich has requested that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee investigate Diebold's takedown notices issued under a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
'Hack the Vote' Paul Krugman weighs in on the Diebold controversy, referencing Andrew Gumbel's "hair-raising" investigative report. After the article was published, "Democracy Now!" interviewed Gumbel and Rep. Rush Holt.
Population shifts alone will give President Bush seven more electoral votes if he wins the same states in 2004 that he won in 2000.
Mark Kleiman on bait-and-switch in California: "It looks as if Schwarzenegger, like Bush, having run as a moderate plans to govern as an extremist."
Wednesday, December 3, 2003
Editor & Publisher takes U.S. newspapers to task over their Samarra coverage, that included front-page stories declaring "between 46 and 54 Iraqis had been killed and using only U.S. military officials as their sources," and others that reported "the death tally and account of the battle without noting this was 'according to military officials.'"
When Rep. Ray LaHood, who sits on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, told a local newspaper's editorial board that "We're this close" to catching Saddam, a board member asked: "Do you know something we don't?" LaHood said "Yes I do."
New Harper's Index includes: "Percentage by which the Defense Department proposed cutting its budget this year by closing its Peacekeeping Institute: 0.001." Following pressure on the Army from Congress and NGOs, the institute was given a reprieve.
Reuters reports that Israel is 'fuming' over a likely meeting between U.S. Secretary of State Powell and the authors of the "Geneva Accord" peace plan, the Washington Post checks in on the Bush administration's progress in bringing democracy to Arab countries, and an American describes "normal" family life in Tel Aviv.
In 'Stuffed on Thanksgiving,' Matt Taibbi writes that "No one should be upset with the president for doing his job. What we should be upset about is the national press corps behaving like p.r. agents, which is what happened last week... A more dramatic example of Stockholm Syndrome has probably never been shown on television."
'Dean has Bush's Draft Number' "A guy who has no foreign policy experience, opposed the war in Iraq, and went skiing after he escaped the Vietnam draft because of a bad back is calling a wartime president soft on defense," writes William Saletan. "Where did Dean and his lieutenants get this kind of gall? Maybe from the guy they're attacking."
Did Sen. John Kerry protest the wrong war?
Partick Martin says that three recently-published commentaries by observers of the U.S. military, suggest "a major new terrorist attack within the United States could disrupt the 2004 elections and even result in military intervention on the streets of America as well as the suspension of the Constitution."
The New York Times reports that Thomas A. Scully, who became the head of Medicare and Medicaid in May 2001, and was involved in drafting the Medicare bill, "is the object of a bidding war among five firms hoping to hire him to advise clients affected by the measure."
Slate's Timothy Noah has a Medicare bill-related question for Republican Rep. Nick Smith: "Who tried to bribe you?"
National Democratic Party leaders are trying to fend off a challenge to their party's candidate in next week's San Francisco mayoral election. Out-fundraised by an eight to one margin, the Green Party candidate has pulled within eight points in the latest poll. Plus: Candidates trade allegations of dirty tricks.
Coinciding with a ceremony at the White House honoring NASCAR's top 10 drivers, Matt Kenseth, the 2003 Winston Cup champion, was featured on "Ask the White House," which is described as "an online interactive forum where you can submit questions to Bush administration officials."
Fairly Unbalanced The notion that the hosts of 'Hannity & Colmes' "are co-equals, fighting it out on a level playing field, cannot be supported by evidence," write's FAIR's Steve Rendell, "any more than the rest of Fox's daily offerings can be described as 'fair and balanced.'" Plus: 'Colmes takes heat from his own kind,' and scroll down for 'Colmes loses argument with nephew.'
Thursday, December 4, 2003
David Corn interviews Fox News military analyst, Bob Bevelacqua, who lives up to his billing as one of the harsher critics in the media of the Bush administration's postwar actions. Plus: 'Why are these guys even getting a podium?'
Jerome Doolittle answers David Brooks' question: "Can anybody think of another time in history when a comparable group of young people was asked to be at once so brave, fierce and relentless, while also being so sympathetic, creative and forbearing?"
U.S. Army uses Israeli-style bulldoze threat to get Iraqis to talk.
A new report says the Israeli government has approved the construction of more than 1,700 new houses in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza this year. And a wall critic says that while 10% of Palestinian land will be lost, 50% of the West Bank's water will end up on the Israeli side. Plus: 'Can only Bush go to Jerusalem?'
The Memory Hole has the story of a domestic terrorism plot that was largely ignored by media outlets outside of Texas, where the plotters, who had links to white supremacist and anti-government groups, were arrested in May.
Variety reports on the vow that Howard Dean made during a "Hardball" appearance, to "break up giant media enterprises." He lacked specifics, but said that he would "appoint people to the FCC that believe democracy depends on getting information from all portions of the political spectrum, not just one." Plus: Outsider courts insiders.
A letter from Greg Palast is among those published in response to Paul Krugman's "Hack the Vote" column. Palast says the real danger is the new, federally mandated computerization of voter rolls, which he wrote about in 'Jim Crow Revived in Cyberspace.'
The White House changes its story on a British Airways pilot's spotting of Air Force One during President Bush's trip to Iraq, now saying that the pilot never contacted Air Force One, and that the conversation was between the British Airways plane and the London control tower. Plus: 'Let them eat turkey' and 'The bird was perfect but not for dinner.'
A reporter goes in search of the 5,000 small businesses that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said "have opened since liberation on May 1."
'Good-bye, Mr. President' Arianna Huffington imagines how the first drafts of resignation letters written by former Bush administration officials might have read.
Muscle Breach The Los Angeles Times reports that tensions are emerging in Governor Schwarzenegger's administration, between his "more combative political operation and aides handling legislative relations, who are more schooled in the workings of the Capitol."
In an article dubbing 2003 the publishing world's "year of the political pot-stirrer," a Berkeley journalism professor, noting that many of the books are written by media celebrities, says "I would argue that Ann Coulter is provocative for the sake of being provocative. She's not attempting to make any sort of journalistic argument. I don't know what you'd call her -- 'pundit' seems too distinguished." Plus: Reviewer bashes the Bush-bashing books.
Mystery writer and musician Kinky Friedman is running for governor of Texas, with the campaign slogan, "Why the hell not?"
Friday, December 5, 2003
'News Blackout' The American Journalism Review reports on how news outlets owned by the big conglomerates virtually ignored the grassroots movement that sprang up to challenge media consolidation. AJR tracks the coverage.
In 'Looting the Future,' Paul Krugman says Republicans who think President Bush will forego politics for policy if re-elected, are in denial: "Everything we know suggests that Mr. Bush's people have given as little thought to running America after the election as they gave to running Iraq after the fall of Baghdad."
Shoot the Moon The Washington Post quotes a Bush administration official who says the president's "aides are promoting big initiatives on the theory that they contribute to Bush's image as a decisive leader... 'Iraq was big. AIDS is big. Big works. Big grabs attention.'" Plus: Is space the place?
A retired senior Israeli military intelligence officer says that Israeli intelligence overestimated the Iraqi threat to Israel and reinforced the American and British belief that Iraq had WMD.
Israeli officials join with al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in denouncing "Geneva Accord."
Former Sen. Max Cleland is expected to resign within weeks from the commission investigating the 9/11 attacks, for a seat on the Export-Import Bank board. He has harshly criticized the Bush administration for stonewalling the commission, which may seek an extension on its May deadline. Plus: "Where's the Watchdog?"
A 9/11 widow is suing President Bush and other top administration officials under the RICO Act, charging that they had knowledge about an impending attack, did nothing to stop it, and have since been covering up. Guerrilla News says her complaint, which refers to Ari Fleischer as Ari Fletcher, "is not the most professional brief ever written."
Pentagon officials deny that a contract to study how the Defense Department could design an "effective strategic influence" campaign to combat global terror, is a back-door attempt attempt to resurrect the controversial Office of Strategic Influence.
A Wall Street Journal opinion piece co-authored by Richard Perle, which praised a Pentagon plan to lease tanker aircraft, failed to disclose Perle's financial ties with Boeing, which had committed to invest $20 million with a venture capital firm where Perle was a principal.
TBOGG asks: "How long before a reporter (remember those?) puts a little time into looking into the complete dealings of Richard Perle?"
Report warns incoming Prime Minister that Canada's military faces "massive obsolescence" in two years.
The lawyer on five major Canadian national security cases, says he's quitting because of a death threat left on his answering machine, that he suggests originated with a U.S. or Canadian intelligence agency: "Well, Mr. Galati. What's this I hear about you working with the terrorist now, helping to get that (expletive) punk terrorist Khadr off. You a dead wop."
Monday, December 8, 2003
The Washington Post reports on the arms trade in Transdniester, a country that broke away from Moldova 12 years ago and is the last known location of 38 disappeared dirty bomb warheads manufactured during the collapse of the Soviet Union. "For terrorists, this is the best market you could imagine," says the head of a Russian nonproliferation group, it's "cheap, efficient and forgotten by the whole world."
An official of a group monitoring Russia's parliamentary elections, in which the pro-Kremlin United Russia Party received more than one-third of the votes, says "the enormous advantage of incumbency and access to state equipment, resources and buildings led to the election result being overwhelmingly distorted."
A Moscow think tanker tells the Los Angeles Times that "This dash United Russia made since September, when in the polls it was running head-to-head with the Communists, can be explained mostly by the television brainwashing or zombifying the population has been subjected to in the last few months. It is clear to me now that we are sliding more and more toward a police state."
Locals dispute claim by U.S. military and Afghan government officials that a Taliban commander was among those who died in a U.S. airstrike that killed nine Afghan children. Rep. Dennis Kucinich says he will call for an investigation of the incident.
Base Motives† Why is the Bush administration so reluctant to involve the U.N. in Iraq? Jim Lobe suggests that the main reason may be the U.S.' determination to build permanent military bases there, which would find little support on the U.N. Security Council.
Lobe also reports on how a group called the "Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens & Jerusalem," is trying to stop a California funder of Israeli settlements from being granted a permanent casino license.†More articles on the issue here.
The U.S. military's new get tough strategy in Iraq, that includes wrapping villages in barbed wire, "is beginning to echo the Israeli counterinsurgency campaign in the occupied territories," reports the New York Times, in an article in which a U.S. colonel expresses confidence that "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them."
The article refers to an American brigadier general's letter to Army magazine, in which he wrote that "we recently traveled to Israel to glean lessons learned from their counterterrorist operations in urban areas," and argued that "proponency for urban operations" should rest with the military, and not the Intelligence branch: "Information enables decisions, but it is action that produces results." (Scroll down to "Urban Warfare.")
As South Koreans quit Iraq over security concerns, Time reports that "from the inside," the Iraqi insurgency "looks as complex and diverse an enemy as the U.S. could possibly face." Plus: Guess who's coming for dinars?
White House chief of staff Andrew Card calls questions over Iraq prewar intelligence "a moot point." Read transcipts of Card's appearance on CNN, Sen. Hillary Clinton and Newt Gingrich on "Meet the Press" and Howard Dean on "Fox News.
In a Rolling Stone interview, Sen. John Kerry said that "when I voted for the war, I voted for what I thought was best for the country. Did I expect Howard Dean to go off to the left and say, 'I'm against everything'? Sure. Did I expect George Bush to f--- it up as badly as he did? I don't think anybody did." Plus: 'Cursing' Kerry sounds presidential note.
Eric Alterman on the 'Kerry Conundrum.' Scroll down for "Look, over there! A missing coed! Michael Jackson! Scott Peterson! Look, quick! A fake president with a fake turkey! Look!"
"60 Minutes" looks at the look of Abercrombie & Fitch.
The NRA's Wayne LaPierre says the group is looking to buy a TV or radio station, as a way to gain a media outlet exemption from spending limits in the new campaign finance law.
The Los Angeles Times reports on the San Francisco mayoral campaign of Green Party member Matt Gonzalez, who is pulling away from his opponent in one poll and closing the gap in another.
Although Republican Rep. Nick Smith has backed off his earlier charges that he was bribed to change his vote on the Medicare bill, Slate's Timothy Noah says Smith can't recant.
Spell of Trouble Head of White House's Faith-Based office angers pagans by saying "I haven't run into a pagan faith-based group yet, much less a pagan group that cares for the poor!"
Tuesday, December 9, 2003
"The Bush Administration has authorized a major escalation of the Special Forces covert war in Iraq," reports The New Yorker's Seymour Hersh. He says the proposed operation, "called 'preemptive manhunting' by one Pentagon adviser," and secretly assisted by the Israeli military, worries many U.S. officials who think that it has the potential to turn into another Phoenix Program.
Hersh calls the mission a "policy victory" for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld, who, according to Knight Ridder military correspondent Joseph Galloway, wants to minimize the military's post-Vietnam dependence on the National Guard and Reserve, "so it's easier to go to war."
CNN reports on the just-launched "Operation Avalanche," which U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Bryan Hilferty described "as the largest ground operation yet in Afghanistan."† Earlier: 'Rumsfeld Announces End of Afghan Combat.'
Lt. Col. Hilferty isn't ready to admit that the U.S. failed to kill Taliban suspect Mullah Wazir in Saturday's Afghanistan air strike that left nine children and one man dead, but the New York Times reports that Hilferty "conceded that villagers had said the dead man was not Mullah Wazir."
The Guardian's Ewen MacAskill argues that bin Laden, having achieved the most important of his four objectives, polarization, appears to be winning his Jihad against America. MacAskill refers to a British government document on policy objectives, which acknowledges the danger of polarization between the west and the Muslim world.
As the U.N. General Assembly approves a resolution asking the International Court of Justice to consider the legality of Israel's West Bank barrier, the country's justice minister asks the cabinet to re-examine the current barrier route, which he says is "too long, too expensive... and puts the whole world against us."
One of the leaders of a settlers group warns that if Israel tries to dismantle inhabitated settlements, "We will end up with direct confrontation and if needs be there will be a war."
Army investigators find the reality of Bechtel's work on Iraqi schools to be far different than the image portrayed on the company's Web site. Earlier:† "Rebuilding" Iraqi schools and Bechtel's "Windfall of War."
An Arizona man visiting Baghdad as part of a Global Exchange delegation tells the Arizona Republic that "What you see on the TV doesn't really brace you for what's here. The town is barricaded up, tanks rolling down the street. Visually, it's arresting. It's shocking."
The Detroit News reports on a study which found that of the nearly 2,700 post-9/11 terrorism-related cases concluded so far, just 23 have led to prison sentences of five years or more, "about the same number as in the two years before the attacks."
Win One For the Dipper† "Inevitable negative reversals happen to all politicians -- especially in the light of 24/7 news," writes Michael Wolff. "The real political test is if you can survive your negative reversals (as well as engineer your positive ones)." In this respect, he says that Howard Dean stacks up favorably against President Bush, since both benefit from low expectations. Plus: Gore's surprise.
WTF?† AP correspondent claims that he didn't write an article -- about Sen. John Kerry using the F-word in an interview with Rolling Stone -- that carries his byline.
Florida's Secretary of State comes out against requiring a paper trail for electronic voting.
The Smoking Gun has a copy of the libel suit filed against California Gov. Schwarzenegger by former stuntwoman Rhonda Miller, claiming that he, an aide, and his campaign smeared her as a convicted felon, after she accused Schwarzenegger of previous instances of sexual harassment. Earlier: 'Arnold's True Lie.'
Schwarzenegger reverses himself on vow to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against him, issues statement saying it's "time to move on.''
Cable news channels shut out as "Frontline" wins three of thirteen 2004 Alfred I. du Pont awards for broadcast journalism.
The worldwide vice-president of genetics for GlaxoSmithKline tells a London conference that "Drugs out there on the market work, but they don't work in everybody... The vast majority of drugs -- more than 90 per cent -- only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people."
U.N. says current fertility level could put global population at 134 trillion in 2300.
Wednesday, December 10, 2003
The U.S. military says that six children and two adults were killed last Friday in a U.S. attack on a compound in southeastern Afghanistan, the day before nine children were killed in a U.S. air strike. The BBC's coverage includes an audio report in which its correspondent says that journalists "have been stopped from going to the site."
U.S. bars companies from countries that didn't support the invasion of Iraq -- including France, Germany and Russia -- from competing for $18.6 billion in reconstruction contracts. The directive, issued by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, claims the policy "is necessary for the protection of the essential security interests of the United States..." Canadian companies also deemed a security threat.
Josh Marshall points out that France, Germany and Russia are near the top of the list of countries that Bush "family janitor" James Baker will be approaching in his attempt to get Iraq's debts forgiven or restructured. Plus: Is Wolfowitz on the way out? (Scroll down to "Rummy's No. 2.")
The New York Times reports that according to a breakdown of fuel costs contained in Army Corps' documents, the U.S. government is paying Halliburton an average of $2.64 a gallon to import gasoline and other fuel to Iraq from Kuwait, more than twice what others are paying to truck it in. The documents show that Halliburton collects 26 cents a gallon on fuel that the paper says "is sold in Iraq for 5 cents to 15 cents a gallon."
The Times quotes Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall, who uses the exact same lines that she has used since the issue was first raised in October: "It is expensive to purchase, ship and deliver fuel into a wartime situation," and "It is not as simple as dropping by a service station for a fill up."
Economists for Dean points to a Wall Street Journal article, showing that virtually everything in the Bush administration runs through VP Dick Cheney. Plus: Cheney under fire by U.S. Humane Society over "canned hunt."†
The Memory Hole has a copy of Neil Bush's contract with a Chinese computer chip manufacturer, that pays him $2 million in stock for five years of "consultancy services."
Bill Moyers interviews recently retired Pentagon analyst Chuck Spinney, who explains the workings of "the military industrial Congressional complex," and discusses defense boondoggles from the malfunctioning M-16 rifles in Vietnam to the ballistic missile defense system.
TomDispatch introduces an adaptation from psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton's new book: "Superpower Syndrome, America's Apocalyptic Confrontation with the World."
'Is Osama Winning?' Billmon weighs in on the Guardian article, 'Jihad has worked - the world is now split in two,' writing that "America seems to be past the point where it can cope with policy failures... Failure is simply a PR 'negative' to be spun into a positive, or drowned out with the appropriate buzz words -- 'progress' and 'strength' and 'leadership.'"
The Dallas Morning News reports on the "growing cynicism" among Iraqis to the U.S.' pledge of democracy.
The Star Tribune editorializes that White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card went over the line when he said that any question about faulty U.S. prewar intelligence on Iraq is now "a moot point."
The Philadelphia Inquirer analyzed 15 years of environmental-enforcement records, and found that civil enforcement of pollution laws peaked when George H.W. Bush was president and has plummeted since George W. Bush took office.
Democratic presidential candidates turn on Ted Koppel over process questions, with Sen. John Kerry telling him that "If I were an impolite person, I'd tell you where you can take your polls," and Rep. Dennis Kucinich responding to a question about why he's still in the race, by saying "I want the American people to see where the media takes politics in this country."
PoliticsNH.com reports that Kucinich's lecturing of Koppel got the biggest applause line of the debate: "We start talking about endorsements, now we're talking about polls, and then we're talking about money. Well, you know, when you do that, you don't have to talk about what's important to the American people."
The Los Angeles Times reports that in an interview with CNN, Arnold Schwarzenegger retreated "from two central campaign promises that helped make him governor," dropping his "guarantee" that cities and counties would be compensated for billions in lost car-tax revenue and reversing his pledge to safeguard spending for public schools.
Thursday, December 11, 2003
Thomas Friedman says an "earthquake happened in Israel" last week, when Likud deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, "embraced the logic of the Israeli left and center" in calling for Israel to consider unilaterally dismantling settlements and withdrawing from most of the occupied territories.
Olmert accused of "diplomatic defeatism" and credited with contributing to "a possibility, even an anticipation, of the beginning of the end of the Israeli occupation." Plus: Ha'aretz reports on a Knesset debate between Olmert and his right-wing critics and summarizes new Mideast peace plans.
David Corn writes that "So when the United States faces a situation in which the military has to imprison Iraqis within their own villages, it is not quite fair to demand that critics propose a surefire remedy to the Iraq problem. What is there to say? Picket fences instead of barbed wire?"
Gene Lyons follows the The Daily Howler's lead in analyzing Washington Post columnist -- and former practicing psychiatrist -- Charles Krauthammer's practice of describing opponents of President Bush and the Iraq war as crazy. Plus: 'He was lying about Streisand too.'
Pity Howard Dean? David Lindorff calls Al Gore's endorsement a 'Judas-like electoral kiss of death.'
A day after Rep. Dennis Kucinich lambasted Ted Koppel for asking why, given his low poll numbers, he was still in the presidential race, ABC pulled three "off-air producers" from the campaigns of Kucinich, Al Sharpton and Carol Moseley Braun. "Obviously, ABC is retaliating for my challenge to Ted Koppel," said Kucinich. "They have proven my point, which is the media, and now specifically ABC, is now trying to set the agenda for this election."
On PBS' "NewsHour," Chicago Tribune reporter Jan Crawford Greenburg discusses the Supreme Court's decision upholding the major provisions of the campaign finance reform law, a ruling that angered activists on both the left and right.
The Austin American-Statesman reports on a grand jury investigation into whether a PAC connected to Rep. Tom DeLay, violated Texas law by using corporate money to help elect "the GOP majority in the state Legislature that, in turn, gave DeLay the new congressional map needed to elect more Republicans to Congress." Plus: The kids are all right.
The New Yorker's Jeffrey Toobin on 'The Great Election Grab: When does gerrymandering become a threat to democracy?'
Internal Diebold e-mail recommends charging Maryland "out the yin-yang" if the state requires the company to add paper printouts to the $73 million voting system it purchased.
The convictions of the defendants in the Bush administration's first major post-9/11 prosecution are in jeopardy, after the Justice Department admitted that it withheld evidence from the defense -- a letter saying its star witness against the defendants was lying.
Tough Nut to Crack? A New York Post follow-up to a Washington Post article about 38 dirty bomb warheads that have gone missing from a storage depot in the Transdniester Moldovan Republic, is accompanied by a photo of President Bush with performers from "The Nutcracker."
ViewZone magazine looks at what's known about Russia's Yamantau Mountain military complex.
Private Partner The Guardian says there are 10,000 private military contractors on the ground in Iraq, making it the second largest coalition force. It also reports a U.S. army estimate that $30 billion of the $87 billion spending recently earmarked for Iraq and Afghanistan will go to private companies.
Pentagon officials say that 250 of the first 700 soldiers trained for the new Iraqi army have quit. The article also quotes Defense Secretary Rumsfeld as saying "Iraqi security forces... now number close to 160,000," an increase of almost 30,000 from just over two weeks ago, when Anthony Shadid reported that there were "131,000 Iraqis under arms."
Iraq's Minister of Health denies a charge by the head of the ministry's statistics department, that ministry officials ordered a halt to a count of civilian casualties from the war, and told workers not to release figures already compiled.
Friday, December 12, 2003
'Axis of Incoherence' Jim Lobe says that the Bush administration's shutting France, Germany and Russia out of reconstruction contracts, at the same time that it's trying to get Iraq's debt renegotiated, mirrors what's going on inside Iraq, where the U.S. military's hardball tactics are increasingly at odds with the Coalition Provisional Authority's goal of winning the "hearts and minds" of Iraqis.
The Washington Post editorializes that "Like other puerile taunts delivered by administration officials," President Bush's "sarcastic gibe" in response to German Chancellor Schroeder's remark that the U.S.' contract decision might violate international law, "will merely serve to further erode support for his policies in countries that historically have stood with the United States." More editorial reaction.
A guest poster at Talking Points Memo, described as a 'former high-level Democratic executive branch appointee,' says "Only the naive can think that [James Baker's] mission is to renegotiate Iraq's debt obligations... Finding a way to separate Bush and the United States from Iraq is this latest, and hardest, of the Baker rescue missions."
In 'A Deliberate Debacle,' Paul Krugman writes that "many insiders see Mr. Baker's mission as part of an effort by veterans of the first Bush administration to extricate George W. Bush from the hard-liners' clutches. If the mission collapses amid acrimony over contracts, that's a good thing from the hard-liners' point of view."
Pentagon audit finds that Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg, Brown & Root, may have overcharged the government by as much as $61 million for fuel delivered to Iraq, but that it did not appear to have profited from the mark up. The Pentagon also rejected a company proposal for cafeteria services, that it said was $67 million too high.
In an interview with Salon, Rep. Henry Waxman says that "The Bush administration's apparent indifference to the evidence we've brought to them about overcharging, and their failure to respond to our previous letters, even though hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are at stake, is astounding to me."
'Secrets And Spies' Robert Dreyfuss reports that Waxman plans to launch an initiative encouraging Iraq intelligence whistleblowers to come forward, and that he will also call on the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform to launch an official investigation into how Valerie Plame's name was leaked to the media. Plus: Petition campaign targets Robert Novak.
As the U.S. Congress pushes for a larger military, the Army deploys a D.C.-area ceremonial unit to the Horn of Africa, for its first action in more than three decades. Plus: Army leaning heavily on National Guard and Reserves.
Veteran Canadian war reporter Scott Taylor says that during his latest trip to Iraq, "every one of the dozens of U.S. personnel I spoke with claimed they were going to get out of the Army as soon as possible. One female Military Policewoman even asked if Canada would accept AWOL U.S. troops as 'refugees' from the war."
Editor & Publisher reports on the story behind USA Today's four-month examination of how cluster bombs were used in the Iraq war. A new report from Human Rights Watch says the bombs killed or wounded more than 1,000 Iraqi civilians.
'Is your name Mohamad?' An Arab-American waiter who was sent home from his job at a Baltimore Hyatt on the day a presidential fundraiser was held there, says the Secret Service's claim that he wasn't on a list to work that day, isn't true.
LA Weekly's 25th anniversary issue includes an interview with founder Jay Levin, who now runs an organization that educates people about poverty in L.A. County, which he says is the hunger and poverty capital of America.
Monday, December 15, 2003
Reporting on the reaction in Sunni and Shiite strongholds of Baghdad to the capture of Saddam Hussein, John Burns writes that "Across the divide that separates Adhamiya and Sadr City, one thing emerged that all Iraqis have in common: that nothing in his arrest, nor anything in a trial or possible execution, is likely to remove the huge psychic space he occupies."
Billmon says that while "Bush's mission may be accomplished... the true test of the significance of yesterday's rat trapping is still to come. Is the Sunni insurgency simply the last gasp of Saddam's 'dead enders,' or a popular movement that could simmer for years, posting a perpetual threat to the stability of any American-backed government in Iraq?" Plus: 'Future uncertain as Saddam unearthed.'
Cataloging the atrocities committed under Saddam, Juan Cole writes that while "A nightmare has ended," he "was probably already irrelevant," and that his capture may embolden those who disagree with U.S. policies to "gradually throw off their political timidity, and come out more forcefully into the streets..."
"The apprehension of Hussein does not justify the war," argues David Corn. "In a way, it is the least that Bush could have done, after invading under false pretenses." Plus: Can Dean 'move the goal post?'
Saddam said to have been betrayed by a fellow clan member who was captured in a Friday raid on a house in Baghdad.
The Washington Post reports on a confrontational meeting between Saddam and four members of the Iraqi Governing Council who were sent to ID him.
"With television back on a war footing but short on facts," writes Howard Kurtz, "administration choreographers filled the video vacuum." Plus: Tom Shales on the TV networks' hot pursuit of a cornered Saddam.
Tuesday, December 16, 2003
The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear an appeal from Vice President Dick Cheney over the release of White House papers about his energy policy task force. Co-plaintiffs Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club respond to the news.
After Midnight Rep. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat, documents numerous examples of the U.S. House conducting its business in the wee hours of Saturday morning: "Always after the press had passed their deadlines. Always after the American people had turned off the news and gone to bed."
The Center for American Progress debunks claims made in a White House document titled "2003: A Year of Accomplishment for the American People."
'Patriots and Profits' Paul Krugman says it's difficult to tell if recent reports of possible war profiteering by U.S. contractors in Iraq -- overpriced fuel, shoddy work and dirty dining -- are isolated bad examples, or part of a pattern, because it's "hard to think of a time when U.S. government dealings have been less subject to scrutiny."
'From National Pride to War Booty' CorpWatch reports on the turnover of the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr -- "once a crown jewel of the Iraqi economy" -- to the politically-wired, anti-labor, Stevedoring Services of America.
Although the Vinnell Corporation was awarded a $48 million contract to train the new Iraqi army, the Washington Post reports that 480 of the first 900 recruits trained by Vinnell and its subcontractors have opted out, and that the U.S. military plans to take over the training.
Commenting on the attempted assassination of Pakistani President Musharraf, Billmon writes that "the day he dies is the day a new front opens up in the war against terrorism -- one more central to the ultimate outcome than Iraq will ever be."
Israeli military censors lift the lid on the story of a planned hit on Saddam, in which Israeli commandos were to have fired custom-made missiles at him as he attended the funeral of his father-in-law in 1992. The plan was aborted following a training mishap in which five soldiers standing in for Saddam and his bodyguards, died after being mistakenly hit with a live missile.
In a "NewsHour" discussion on post-capture Iraq, Sen. Bob Graham charged that the U.S. had "essentially abandoned the war on terror since the spring of 2002," and former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski called for an earlier than planned transfer of authority to the Iraqis and an international court trial for Saddam. Plus: 'You Got Him? Get Out!' and 'The Problem Prisoner.'†
During a public forum last week, where former Vice President Walter Mondale accused President Bush of forcing democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan "at bayonet point," Brzezinski said the administration's foreign policy can be summarized in Bush's quote that "If you're not with us, you're against us," which he called a stance "straight from Lenin." Have a listen.
'Neo-Ineptitude' A Baltimore Sun editorial says it's time for Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz to go.
Rev. Al Sharpton responded to a CNN anchor's suggestion that Saddam might be able to provide information about WMD, saying "Well, if we went to war to get an interview, I don't think that's what we were told. We went to war because we said we knew there were weapons. Not that we wanted to capture and interview him to see if there was weapons."
After Sen. John Warner thanked CNN's Wolf Blitzer for his role in the capture of Saddam, he told Blitzer: "I see a twinkle in your eye this morning that I've not seen before."
Rep. Jim McDermott backs off his remark that the U.S. military could have found Saddam "a long time ago if they wanted."
A spokeswoman for the National Retail Federation says that the arrest of Saddam "is going to put people in better spirits, and we are definitely excited that this has come during the holiday season." KOTV reports on 'Saddam's capture and how it relates to Tulsa's holiday shopping season.'
"At long last, Saddamís capture brought freedom," writes The Daily Howler, as the "Washington 'press corps' finally stopped talking about why Gore didnít call poor Joe Lieberman."
Retired columnist Russell Baker discusses his letter to the New York Review of Books, in which he wrote that "Today's top-drawer Washington newspeople are part of a highly educated, upper-middle-class elite; they belong to the culture for which the American political system works exceedingly well. Which is to say, they are, in the pure sense of the word, extremely conservative."
Journalism ethics professor Edward Wasserman says that Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson are no longer in the news because "The Washington press corps apparently decided that respecting one journalist's dubious secrecy pledge outweighed any professional duty to get to the bottom of a nasty, and potentially explosive, instance of deceit and reprisal."
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
Following the capture of Saddam Hussein, Jimmy Breslin visited Ground Zero: "I was out there for some time, taking notes and hometowns, and it was all the same. Saddam is bin Laden."
Terrorism analyst Bruce Hoffman says that bin Laden "is using Iraq the way a magician uses smoke and mirrors... If there are Qaeda warriors in Iraq, they are likely cannon fodder rather than battle-hardened mujahedeen. In the end, Qaeda's real interest in Iraq has been to exploit the occupation as a propaganda and recruitment tool for the global jihadist cause."
Turkish officials say that the Istanbul bombings were carried out with the blessing of bin Laden, according to a suspect in the case, who said bin Laden proposed attacking a Turkish military base used by the U.S., but tight security at the base led to the bombing of civilian targets instead.
A U.S. military officer says a key document was discovered during Saddam's capture, that reveals the financial network above insurgent cells in Baghdad. Robert Fisk questions U.S.' claims that 18 Iraqis killed during pro-Saddam protests were insurgents.
The U.S. is accused of violating a WTO procurement pact that it lobbied heavily for, by barring countries that didn't contribute militarily to the Iraq war from bidding on reconstruction contracts.
"Democracy Now!" interviews Norman Solomon (audio only) on the story of Katharine Gun, a former British intelligence employee who is facing up to two years in prison for leaking a memo, that outlined a U.S. surveillance operation directed at UN Security Council members ahead of the vote on Iraq.
"If 'freedom' is the word Bush and Cheney want as the hallmark of their administration," writes William Safire, "they should begin with freedom of information."
CalPundit spots a trend: major pieces of Bush administration legislation either don't take effect, or their full impact won't be felt, until George W. Bush is reelected or out of office.
No More Nister Nice Blog cautions former presidential speech writer David Frum that he's on a "slippery slope" with his declaration that "it's becoming increasingly difficult to doubt that God wants President Bush re-elected."
Juan Stam, a Costa Rican pastor and theologian, says that while 'Bush's Religious Language' has been politically effective, "theologically the results have been more problematic."
BuzzFlash's Maureen Farrell says that Robert Novak, in his column accusing Howard Dean of "spinning wild conspiracy theories" about 9/11, "employed the mother of all propaganda ploys by lopping off choice segments of Dean's comments, thereby changing the tone." Plus: A Bush/Lieberman ticket?
The Washington Post reports that in an interview with conservative commentator Armstrong Williams, Vice President Dick Cheney decried "cheap shot journalism" about the Bush administration, saying that many journalists have not tried to find out "the real facts" when writing about Halliburton.
John Nichols says that during last week's Democratic presidential candidate's debate, ABC's Ted Koppel "inadvertently created an opening for a serious discussion about one of the most important issues in America today: media policy." Read Rep. Dennis Kucinich's plan for media reform. Earlier: 'ABC responds to critics of campaign coverage.'
A Washington Post article on a delay in the Pentagon's awarding of a $100 million contract to run Iraqi national media, quotes a BBC official who says that "There is talk already of the desires of the people on the [Iraqi Governing] council to take it over and run it as their mouthpiece. In certain ways it has been run up to now as a mouthpiece for the CPA [and] has not broken the [Saddam Hussein] mold in Iraqi eyes."
The New York Times reports on the soon to be launched Al Hurra, a U.S. produced Arab-language satellite TV network "meant to be America's 'fair and balanced' pan-Arab answer to outlets like Al Jazeera." Plus: U.S. losing German youth?
Love is the Drug The San Francisco Chronicle reports on a Texas woman who is facing obscenity charges for selling a vibrator to "undercover narcotics officers posing as a dysfunctional married couple in search of a sex aid."
Thursday, December 18, 2003
Thomas Kean, the head of the independent commission investigating 9/11, said the attacks were preventable. "This was not something that had to happen," he told CBS, which also reports that when "Asked whether we should at least know if people sitting in the decision-making spots on that critical day are still in those positions," Kean said, "Yes, the answer is yes. And we will."
The author of "September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows," says "We spent $100 million on Whitewater.† Only $3 million has been spent on investigating September 11! Itís not about 'getting Bush' -- Iím no fan of Bill Clinton either! In a democracy it's always about us -- and what weíre willing to let people get away with."
Appearing on "Larry King Live," Bill Maher said the Bush administration "can't have it both ways. You can't have the Patriotic Act and curtail the civil liberties because 9/11 was that bad and also have the time to go after Tommy Chong for selling bongs on the Internet. "
The New York Times reports on the post-9/11 "global detention system" run by the Pentagon and the CIA, with a hierarchy "in which the most important captives are kept at the greatest distance from the prying eyes of the public and the media."
In 'Patriotically Incorrect Degrees of Happiness,' a Blogcritics' poster writes: "I'm actually not in ecstasy about Saddam's capture. It's not that I don't despise the guy, and it's not that I don't recognize how wonderful it is that he's history. It's just that America lost so much in getting here that it's hard to take excessive joy in it."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked former Sen. John Glenn: "is the American public safer today now that Saddam Hussein has been captured?" Glenn said: "The American public? Well, I'd be hard pressed to say that... I'm glad he was captured. But do I feel safer? No, I guess I don't feel that much safer." (scroll down)
President Bush told ABC's Diane Sawyer that "Saddam Hussein was a threat. And the fact that he is gone means America is a safer country." When she said the administration "stated as a hard fact," that Saddam had WMD, "as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons," he responded: "So what's the difference?" Plus: WMD now a nonissue for Bush.
The Washington Post reports that David Kay has told Bush administration officials he plans to leave before the Iraq Survey Group's WMD-hunting work is completed, possibly before February. Last January Kay wrote that "Iraq is in breach of U.N. demands that it dismantle its weapons of mass destruction."
Wesley Clark claimed that "If I'd been president, I would have had Osama bin Laden by this time," and accused Bush of "a bait-and-switch. He took the priority off Osama bin Laden. He shifted the spotlight onto Saddam Hussein."
According to a CBS/New York Times poll, the capture of Saddam has had no impact on support for Dean among Democratic primary voters, only 25 percent of whom said they had already decided which candidate to support.
Ted Koppel defends the questions he asked of Democratic presidential candidates during last week's debate.
Dana Milbank reports on 'White House Web Scrubbing,' a recent example of which is the removal of a "Nightline" transcript from last April, in which the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development said that U.S. taxpayers wouldn't have to pay more than $1.7 billion to reconstruct Iraq.
New York Times' foreign correspondent John Burns follows up on his accusations that American reporters paid-off Saddam's deputies to stay on their good side. The original interview was from "Embedded: The Media At War in Iraq."† Plus: E&P recaps 'The year of the war reporter.'
Friday, December 19, 2003
In a New York Times analysis of Thursday's appellate court rulings on Jose Padilla and Guantanamo detainees, Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth says both rulings "attacked the Bush administration's view that a war metaphor can justify restrictions on basic criminal justice rights away from a traditional battlefield." Plus: Civil liberties and human rights groups hail one-two punch.
"A magnificent act," is how Jonathan Turley described the Padilla ruling. "I mean, this is what the framers intended courts to do, to be independent enough to stand against the most powerful wind." Introducing Turley, CNN's Aaron Brown said: "We set out to find a conservative, legal scholar who would argue that the court got it wrong today. And we failed."
An investigation by the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general, found that foreign nationals detained at a federal prison in Brooklyn following the 9/11 attacks, were physically abused by guards, with many of the incidents captured on more than 300 videotapes that prison officials had claimed were destroyed. Read the report.
LA Weekly reports on the detention and interrogation of an Australian journalist who traveled to the U.S. to interview Olivia Newton-John, for a magazine she calls "a cross between Good Housekeeping and People. She was held at LAX for 14 hours by U.S. agents before being sent back to Australia. More: 'Journalists expelled, terrorists allowed in' and 'A repressive embarrassment.'
In a CBS report on how wounded U.S. soldiers are being discharged from the military, resulting in a dramatic reduction in their income, the head of Disabled American Veterans complains that "I don't know if it's a clouded secret about who's coming back, who's there, the nature of their disabilities, the nature of their wounds or not but there is not the kind of unfettered access that we used to have at Walter Reed."
Paul Krugman writes that regardless of how things turn out in Iraq, "we should be deeply disturbed by the history of this war. For its message seems to be that as long as you wave the flag convincingly enough, it doesn't matter whether you tell the truth." He cites a new poll finding that 53% of Americans believe Saddam had something to do with 9/11, up from 43% in September.
A Newsweek report casts doubt on the authenticity of a document purporting to place 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta in Baghdad during the Summer of 2001.
The Star Tribune editorializes that Howard Dean "is getting beaten up unfairly for telling an unpleasant truth: The capture of Saddam Hussein hasn't made America safer... He might make a poor challenger to Bush, but in this instance he spoke a truth that bears endless repetition, because it's a truth the Bush administration wants to hide."
In an op-ed headlined 'Military Medals and Pentagon Meddlers,' two military analysts say the Pentagon -- at the direction of the Bush administration -- will award the same campaign medal to those serving in Afghanistan or Iraq, a decision meant to reinforce the notion that the two wars "are part of the same seamless global military fight against terror."
Ret. Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner says the U.S. is overstating Saddam's involvement in the insurgency as part of an orchestrated media campaign and a psychological operation aimed at the insurgents in Iraq. Plus: Did Saddam loyalists infiltrate U.S. operations in Iraq?
News execs interviewed by the Boston Globe, slam a Bush administration plan -- dubbed "C-SPAN Baghdad" -- to transmit news footage from Iraq for local TV outlets.
The Washington Post reports that newly declassified documents on Donald Rumsfeld's 1984 trip to Baghdad, include a cable from then-Secretary of State George Schultz, urging Rumsfeld to tell Iraq's Foreign Minister that U.S. public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons, wasn't intended to imply a shift in policy, and the U.S. desire "to improve bilateral relations, at a pace of Iraq's choosing," remained "undiminished."
Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Jay Bookman gets an earful about U.S. foreign policy from non-Americans who work at U.S. embassies around the world.†
The Los Angeles Times reports on Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's "disengagement plan," that includes moving an unspecified number of settlements and speeding up construction of the barrier, unless the Palestinians implement the provisions they agreed to in the road map. A Bush administration official tells the New York Times that the number of settlements expected to be moved is 17 to 22 of perhaps 100 in the West Bank.
Ha'aretz's Yoel Marcus, reporting on the conference where Sharon delivered his speech -- "the strangest show on earth" -- writes that "it doesn't matter what Sharon said last night and how nicely he said it. It's his actions that will talk."
'Paris, Jacko, Saddam' "The world is like one big media show," writes Bob Herbert, "a made-for-TV spectacular. We can change the channel if things get too ugly. Or just turn the television off. Genuine social consciousness is for squares."
Pay To Play A New York Daily News investigation finds that a so-called consumer advocate known as the Toy Guy, who appears on local and national media outlets with his selections of the best and hottest new toys, "is paid hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by those toy manufacturers to hawk their products."† Plus: 'Have yourself a Pentagon Christmas.'
Monday, December 22, 2003
One day after the Washington Post reported that an investigation of Iran's secret nuclear program has implicated Pakistan as a supplier of nuclear technology to Iran, the New York Times says an investigation of the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, has forced Pakistani officials "to openly confront evidence that the country was the source of crucial technology to enrich uranium for Iran, North Korea and possibly other nations."
The Tolede Blade reports that the U.S. Army says it's unable to find crucial records relating to atrocities committed by the Tiger Force platoon in Vietnam. The Army began reviewing the platoon's activities after the Blade published its "Buried Secrets, Brutal Truths" series in October.
As part of a series on how the U.S. government deals with deaths on the job, the New York Times reports that of 1,242 cases investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration from 1982 to 2002 -- every one of which the paper describes as "a potential crime" -- only seven percent were prosecuted.
A Los Angeles Times investigation finds that the U.S. Justice Department has inflated the number of terrorism-related prosecutions on a list that it cites as evidence that the U.S. is winning the war on terrorism.
In early December, the Detroit News reported on a study which found that just 23 post-9/11 terrorism-related cases have led to prison sentences of five years or more, "about the same number as in the two years before the attacks."
"This is where we've come to after two decades of anti-U.S. terrorism and 9/11," writes Thomas Friedman, in a column about the Fort Knox-like security at American embassies and consulates. "The cops are now in charge -- not the diplomats."
Capture of Saddam not enough to keep U.S. from raising terror threat level.
Writing in the Toronto Star about what he calls the U.S.' "doctrine of change of course," Noam Chomsky refers to a New York Times article from 1991 that reported the "strikingly unanimous view" of Washington and its allies, that "whatever the sins of the Iraqi leader, he offered the West and the region a better hope for his country's stability than did those who have suffered his repression."
Referring to a Times' article from last week that described Saddam's capture as "the sweetest kind of vindication for a president who has earned worldwide skepticism," Star' columnist Linda McQuaig writes that WMD "were not even mentioned in the article, they've been airbrushed from history."
A federal appeals court has ordered a trial in a lawsuit which claims that Florida's law barring felons from voting is unconstitutional because it discriminates against blacks. The current law is said to ban about 600,000 Floridians from voting. Plus: Modern-day slavery in Florida?
The Miami Herald reports that a judge presiding over the cases of protesters arrested during last month's Free Trade Area of the Americas summit, said in court that he personally witnessed ''no less than 20 felonies committed by police officers."
Republican Congressional leaders are "deploying scorched-earth, compromise-be-damned tactics," writes the Washington Post's congressional editor, "as if they ruled the nation 80-20, not 51-49." Earlier: 'Democracy crumbles under cover of darkness.'
Ralph Nader positions possible presidential bid as a second strategic front: "If the goal is to defeat Bush, the Democrats have their hands tied on so many issues that a third political force could elaborate on."
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld included in Time issue naming the American soldier "Person of the Year."
In an article on President 'Bush's disdain for the news,' the editor of Playboy says ''It's appalling to think that the man who runs the country somehow finds time for a long gym workout each day but can't muster up the intellectual curiosity to peruse the newspaper."
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
'You can't handle the truth.' Oliver Willis extracts the choice nuggets from a "Hardball" installment in which Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan repeatedly dodged Chris Matthews' question about whether or not she thinks Saddam was personally involved in 9/11: "Peggy, you can't handle this question, because it gets to the heart of why we went to war." More: Scroll down to 'Darkness From Noonan.'
'Does the truth matter in politics?' Jules Witcover compares the records of Howard Dean and George W. Bush.
Time reports that U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice "is arguing over ground rules for her appearance" before the 9/11 commission, "in part because she does not want to testify under oath or, according to one source, in public."
In 'The Harder Hunt for Bin Laden,' Newsweek interviews Taliban fighters in Pakistan who say that bin Laden would never allow himself to be captured alive and that unlike Saddam's henchmen, they say they're "linked by Islam, not by money."
"The Democrats need a large cause of their own," writes The New Republic's Peter Beinart. "And there's only one that's emotionally relevant: capturing bin Laden and decapitating Al Qaeda."
Reddish Orange A federal law enforcement official tells the Los Angeles Times that "I have never seen the national security leadership as tense and anxious as they are right now. In the past, there were disagreements over whether [the elevated alert] was needed. This time, everyone said, 'Yeah, let's do it.' It is the most specific and credible information we've had, period."
A U.S. military spokesman acknowledges that attacks against Iraqi civilians are up sharply since the capture of Saddam Hussein. A Knight Ridder correspondent writes that "In recent months, he said, there'd been an attack or two on civilians every other day. Now, he said, there are two or three daily, with 21 in the past week alone."
"We don't often talk about the possibility of civil war because conferring about it somehow makes it more of a reality," writes Baghdad Burning's Riverbend. "When we do talk about it, it's usually done in hushed tones with an overhanging air of consternation. Is it possible? Will it happen?"
ROI From RPGs Iraqi insurgents are said to be sending out videotapes of attacks against U.S. forces as proof to Mideastern financiers that their money is being well spent.
The Washington Post profiles former CentCom commander Anthony Zinni, who went "from obedient general to outspoken opponent" of invading Iraq: "The more I saw, the more I thought that this was the product of the neocons who didn't understand the region and were going to create havoc there. These were dilettantes from Washington think tanks who never had an idea that worked on the ground."
'Citizen Conrad's Friends' Paul Krugman follows up on a New York Times article that revealed the financial relationship between Conrad Black's Hollinger International, and William F. Buckley and George Will, who wrote favorably about Black without disclosing to readers that they were in his pay. Plus: Krugman on 'The Death of Horatio Alger.'
The P.U.-litzers Norman Solomon announces his selections for the "foulest media performances of 2003." Thomas Friedman is cited for a column calling Iraq "one of the noblest things this country has ever attempted abroad..."
As of Monday, the New York Post was alone among U.S. newspapers in reporting a statement that President Bush is said to have made last week to an Israeli journalist, that "we must get rid of" Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Plus: Conservatives warn Bush -- don't push Israel, and 'Sharon's Phony War.'
'Grapes of Wrath' Washington Post columnist David Ignatius visits a West Bank farming town whose residents boast of producing the world's best grapes.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's ombudsman addresses complaints from readers that the paper's editorial cartoonist, Mike Luckovich, is being too hard on President Bush. Plus: "I Was a Tool of Satan."
As a Washington Post/ABC poll shows Howard Dean leading his nearest Democratic competitor by 22 points and trailing President Bush by 18, Dean tells MSNBC that "I have run eight statewide races and I know whatís coming and it is not pretty. The last few weeks and few days of a campaign are some of the most intense experiences a person can have short of being incarcerated in a prison camp someplace."
Wednesday, December 24, 2003
Calling 2003 "a year in which we almost lost honest news," the Media Channel's Danny Schechter asks: "Was there a quid pro quo, a deal to advance media concentration in exchange for network flag waving?" Plus: 'Media death toll grows in 2003.
'Politically Significant Cluelessness' Jay Rosen applauds and expands on Frank Rich's 'Napster Runs for President in '04' essay, in which Rich writes that "the political establishment has been blindsided by the Internet's growing sophistication as a political tool ó and therefore blindsided by the Dean campaign."
A Los Angeles Times article on the rift between Dean and Democratic Party centrists, quotes Dean telling the author of the book "One Car Caravan": "What a lot of people learned from Bill Clinton is that if you accommodate and you co-opt [the other party] you can be successful. And Bill Clinton was very successful. But that role doesn't work for everybody, and it's not the right time for it anymore."
In an article headlined 'Under Bush, Expanding Secrecy,' Steven Aftergood, who heads the Project on Government Secrecy, tells the Washington Post that "There is an unwholesome change in the deliberative process unfolding before our eyes. These are not technicalities. These are fundamental issues of American government that are now up for grabs." Earlier: 'UnMediated Government.'
Inuit Induction James Ridgeway reports on how in the run up to the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. military tried to recruit from Canada's native population, citing as its justification a 1794 treaty that it said granted aboriginal Canadians dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship. Canada didn't see it that way.
An Iraqi teen describes his run in with U.S. soldiers who scoured his high school in search of students who had attended a pro-Saddam demonstration.
The Boston Globe profiles the executive director of corporate watchdog group Infact, who helped negotiate an international treaty banning tobacco marketing in countries that sign on. She argues that a U.S. ban is not unconstitutional, because "The First Amendment was intended to protect political speech... The claim that the Marlboro Man is somehow conveying information to consumers is outrageous."
Vice President Dick Cheney "should do some fact-checking of his own statements" writes Helen Thomas, in response to Cheney's claim that reporters covering the Bush administration "don't check the facts." Plus: 'Twilight of the Neocons?'
Monday, December 29, 2003
Coalition Provisional Authority head Paul Bremer dismissed a claim that "massive evidence" of weapons programs had been found in Iraq, without knowing that British Prime Minister Blair had made it. Plus: 'Blair under fire again for WMD claims.'
The Washington Post examines U.S. decisions on Iraq spending, many of which are made in private by the Bremer-appointed Program Review Board. The Post also reports that ongoing attacks in Iraq have forced the U.S. to pull back from several "initiatives touted by conservative strategists to fashion Iraq into a secular, pluralistic, market-driven nation."
Juan Cole reacts to a statement by a member of Iraq's Interim Governing Council, that Saddam's trial is unlikely to be public: "Well, at least Rummy won't have to worry about Saddam going on and on about their close friendship back in the day, on Arab satellite television. Ooops. That's probably one reason the Bush administration announced with such alacrity that Saddam would be tried in Iraq."
The Roads Less Traveled "Roads and highways in Iraq are classified by the U.S. military as green (safe), yellow (dangerous; no travel at night) and red (closed to military traffic)," reports Newsweek. "There are no green routes left except in the far north; all other routes are usually yellow and occasionally red."
The Chicago Tribune reports that 20 GIs have taken their own lives in Iraq and Kuwait since the start of the war, a number which "outside experts have said... is alarmingly high compared with the military's average suicide rate." Plus: 'Army stops many soldiers from quitting.'
Following the second assassination attempt in 11 days on Pakistani President Musharraf, the Washington Post editorialized that "His sudden death would trigger a crisis both for Pakistan and for U.S. security. Yet if the Bush administration has a fallback plan, it shows no sign of it."
Nuclear Fallout Columnist M. B. Naqvi looks at the crisis in Pakistan that has resulted from the arrest of three of the country's top nuclear scientists, following Iran's disclosure that its nuclear program was helped along by Pakistani scientists. Plus: U.N. Security Council to discuss Syrian draft resolution calling for the Middle East to rid itself of all WMD.
A New York Times report that President Bush's campaign plans to portray Howard Dean as "reckless, angry and pessimistic," prompts launch of "Optimists for Dean" blog. Plus: 'Washington Goes to War (with Howard Dean)', who criticizes Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe for not reining in his attackers and raises the issue of transferability of support.
Paul Krugman proposes some rules for reporting on the 2004 presidential race.
"The two halves of Republican policy no longer fit together," editorializes the New York Times. "A political majority that believes in big government for people, and little or no government for corporations, has produced an unsustainable fiscal policy that combines spending on social programs with pork and tax cuts for the rich."
The AP reports on the federal government's expanded role in fighting common crimes, which it says has resulted in a sixfold increase in federal spending for criminal justice since 1982.
TalkLeft looks at the intelligence bill granting the FBI new anti-terrorism powers, that was signed into law by President Bush on December 13, the day that Saddam was captured -- the first time in more than a year that he had signed a bill on a Saturday.
In response to a report that "The U.S. sales director for one of India's top computer services providers said his company has won business from customers such as Walt Disney Co., Time Warner's CNN and the Fox division of News Corp. -- none of which want public disclosure," an Economists for Dean poster asks: "Will Lou Dobbs expose Time Warner for offshoring to India?"
Old Faithfuller Bill Berkowitz reports that the National Park Service is displaying religious symbols, selling creationist materials and is contemplating adding 'conservatively correct' images to government videos. Plus: Florida Gov. Jeb Bush dedicates "faith-based" prison.
Baby Got Brand The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports on kids being named after popular products.
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
'Our So-Called Boom' Paul Krugman says that with direct gains from the economy's expansion "going largely to corporate profits... for most Americans, current economic growth is a form of reality TV, something interesting that is, however, happening to other people."
The Washington Post reports that an EPA-headed task force that was set to recommend "rules that within three years would force every coal-fired power plant in the country to reduce emissions of mercury," was "abruptly disbanded" last April.
The Post says the policy turnabout was engineered by Jeffrey Holmstead, the EPA's senior air quality official who previously served as an adjunct scholar for Citizens for the Environment, an organization formed in 1990 as a project of "corporate front group," Citizens for a Sound Economy. For more on Holmstead, scroll down to 'The Clean Air Wake.'
Of all the "administration's retreats on controlling air pollution," editorialized the Star Tribune, "its proposed new rules on mercury may prove to be the most cynical."
Newspapers fall for astroturf effort from Bush-Cheney campaign regarding the president's "Healthy Forest" initiative.
In a New York Times article airing criticism of America's public diplomacy efforts, a State Department official asks: "Why, in Jordan, do people think Osama bin Laden is a better leader than George Bush?. It's not just Arabs who are angry with the United States. It's worldwide."
Sunni Muslim imams in Iraq complain that U.S. troops are accusing them of links to al Qaeda.
A Muslim football tournament in California is under fire for fielding teams named Intifada, Soldiers of Allah and Mujahideen.
Palestinian leadership calls an Israeli order to remove four West Bank settlements a publicity stunt. Ha'aretz reports that "Only one of the outposts -- Ginot Aryeh -- is inhabited, with about 10 families living there as well as a few single people."
An Australian political science professor identifies what he calls three interlocking threats to world peace: "militant fundamentalist Islamists exemplified at the far edge al Qaeda, certain activist elements among America's reborn Christians and neoconservatives, and the most inflexible hard-line Zionists from Israel."
Peter Bergen says that recent terrorist attacks "executed by local jihadists who have little or no direct connection to al Qaeda... suggests that al Qaeda has successfully turned itself from an organization into a mass movement -- one that has been energized by the war in Iraq."
The Washington Times reports that "bin Laden's al Qaeda network has become deeply involved in international drug trafficking," according to senior U.S. officials. Fresh evidence offered for "an al Qaeda drug operation that has grown tremendously" since 9/11, is the recent seizure of "three al Qaeda-linked boats," with crews "suspected of links to al Qaeda."
FBI warns local police departments to be alert for people carrying almanacs. The Washington Post reports that investigators said they found one with bookmarked pages on U.S. dams, rivers, reservoirs and railroads, at the apartment of an alleged al Qaeda sleeper agent.
The Los Angeles Times reports that documents found in Iraq offer evidence that a Syrian trading company with close ties to that country's regime, smuggled weapons and military hardware to Iraq between 2000 and 2003, "helping Syria become the main channel for illicit arms transfers to Iraq..."
Dale Steinreich writes that since December 14, Fox News Channel "has been almost one continuous Saddamathon," trumpeting Saddam's capture "as ex post validation of the coalition's invasion."
The Gropinator blog describes how a Fox reporter and cameraman confronted a Los Angeles Times photographer during an appearance by Gov. Schwarzenegger at the site of last week's California earthquake. Scroll down to "The Faux Follies."
"For Bush and Blair to go into Iraq together was like a bunch of white vigilantes going into Brixton to stop drug dealing," said the Bishop of Durham. "This is not to deny there's a problem to be sorted, just that they are not credible people to deal with it." Plus: 'Bush's Desolate Imperium.'
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
The Center for American Progress examines the challenges for 2004 in the areas of national security, domestic policy and the economy, and the editors of The Futurist offer up 10 forecasts. Plus: What really happened in 2003 and 'All the best, and then some.'
'The Nightmare Begins' John Stauber revisits the subject of the 1997 book that he co-authored, "Mad Cow USA: Could the Nightmare Happen Here?"
'Inside Big Meat' In his book "Been Brown So Long It Looked Like Green to Me: the Politics of Nature," CounterPunch's Jeffrey St. Clair reported on conditions at the IBP plant in Pasco, Washington, one of America's biggest slaugherhouses. Plus: New ban on sale of 'downer' meat was blocked by Congress just weeks ago.
Jimmy Breslin applauds the Army Times for a year-end review that runs photos of most of the 500-plus U.S. soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003: "The chilling photos run at a time when the government tries to describe the war as a civic venture, and nearly all of the news industry doesn't know how to object." Earlier: Cher made the call.
"Our first New Yearís resolution," writes retired Colonel David Hackworth, "should be to find out if the stated reasons for our pre-emptive strike -- Iraq's purported weapons of mass destruction and Saddamís connection with al-Qaeda -- constituted a real threat to our national security."
'Ashcroft Takes a Hike' Billmon says "the very good news" about U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who was named to lead the investigation into who leaked the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, is that Fitzgerald "has had some previous experience prosecuting organized crime families." Plus: Josh Marshall considers the timing.
The Telegraph reports on a new book by Richard Perle and David Frum, "demanding regime change in Syria and Iran and a Cuba-style military blockade of North Korea, backed by planning for a pre-emptive strike on its nuclear sites." Recently retired USAF lieutenant colonel, Karen Kwiatkowski, reviews the book jacket.
Chairman of Afghanistan's loya jirga to draft a new constitution, walks out on day 17, as Pashtuns and Tajiks struggle for power.
"Democracy Now!" interviews former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who says he passed along intelligence "of dubious quality" to Britain's MI6 spy agency, for "Operation Mass Appeal," a previously secret, late 1990s public relations campaign designed to exaggerate Iraq's WMD.
The author of a book accusing the French press of slanting its coverage of the war in Iraq, was recently fired from his job at one of the newspapers that he criticized. Plus: 'Will the French indict Cheney?'
In 'Their Media War and Ours in 2004,' Danny Schechter references "Tell Me Lies" a new anthology on media coverage of the Iraq war. He also flags the play "A New War," which satirizes broadcasts from a CNN-like network. A new staging of the play was just reviewed in the New York Times.
The Hollywood Reporter's Ray Richmond offers his '10 Most Painful TV Events of 2003,' including: "Arnold Schwarzenegger announces his intention to run for California governor on 'The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.' It says everything about the incestuous alliance between politics and entertainment that something this staged would become a worldwide event, launch a candidacy and, ultimately, result in triumph." Plus: '2003 Media Follies!'
The New York Times reports that "Michael Jackson struck a deal with CBS to be paid in effect an additional $1 million for both an entertainment special to be broadcast on Friday and his interview on '60 Minutes.'" The Times also reported on earlier examples of line blurring at the network.
Left I on the News wonders who ghost-wrote a poem from President Bush to the first lady. Scroll down for 'Washington Post on Venezuela.'
A Guardian "special correspondent" reports on the apparent doctoring of a photo of Fidel Castro to make him look like Adolf Hitler, that ran on the front page of the official newspaper of Cuba's Communist party. Plus: Playwright Arthur Miller on his visit with Castro.
'The Accidental Populist' Will Dean be the next FDR or the latest Al Gore?
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