December, 2004 link archive

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Thousands of anti-war protesters greet President Bush in Canada, convict him of war crimes, and clash with police, while U.S. reporters race to get flu shots.

The Toronto Star reports that Bush stunned Prime Minister Martin by ignoring the official agenda and making a pitch for missile defense.

New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton, trying to explain "what the protests ... were about," reportedly had a "direct, amiable but ultimately 'disturbing' conversation" with Bush, who said that "Every country needs a good lefty ... We even have some in our country."

As November at least ties April for the deadliest month for U.S. troops in Iraq, USA Today quotes defense analyst Dan Goure as saying that "in the months ahead, the American public may see a death toll similar to the one in November."

Earlier, in 'More Signs of a Military Unraveling,' Goure was called "one of the unheralded Cassandras of the looming defense train wreck." Plus: A CNN report calls Fallujah "a horror."

A former bagman for the U.S. tells NBC that billions of dollars in Iraqi oil money were squandered after the invasion. The story also says that the CPA firm hired to "ensure proper controls" turned out to be "headquartered at a private home near San Diego."

'Of Mosul and Men' Matthew Yglesias writes that the civil war has already begun in Iraq, as shown by recent fighting in Mosul, which "was not between an American-backed government and anti-government rebels" but was rather "between Sunni Arabs and Kurds with ostensible agents of the Interim Government on both sides."

The Los Angeles Times reports on the Pentagon's recent use of the mainstream media as a tool in an ongoing psy-ops campaign, citing several sources as saying that "the strategic communications programs at the Defense Department are being coordinated by the office of the undersecretary of Defense for policy, Douglas J. Feith."

According to the Washington Post, Feith recently held a "policy 'all hands' meeting" at the Pentagon and "announced that all the members of the team were going to remain in place." [Scroll down]

A confidential report obtained by the Post gave Army generals an early warning of "unacceptable" mistreatment of detainees throughout Iraq, and quoted an officer who complained that prisoners taken by Special Ops/CIA Task Force 121 were being beaten as saying, "Everyone knows about it."

'Associated With Whom?' Philip Cryan of Colombia Week accuses AP of "rightist bias" in its coverage of Colombia, saying that "given what the hemisphere's largest newswire dishes out, it's hard to blame folks in the United States for their apathy about military aid to Colombia."

As Tom Ridge resigns as head of Homeland Security, a Bad Attitudes poster asks, "Had he not announced it, who would have noticed?"

The Los Angeles Times reports that the National Association of Homebuilders is celebrating a White House proposal to roll back "critical habitat" protection by 90 percent for endangered salmon and steelhead trout.

After a pro-Bush think-tank proclaims the "positive effects" of global climate change, Jonathan Schwarz admires 'The Art of the Fallback Position.'

In a new TomGram, Chip Ward explains why we need charismatic predators.

'The Waste of the Nation' After Reuters gauges the state of the economy by reading the garbage indicator, Critical Montage cites an interview with John Bellamy Foster to argue that "capitalism can never become green."

On the eve of World AIDS Day, the Vatican blamed "a pathology of the spirit" and a moral "immunodeficiency." Plus: 'New York's HIV Experiment' on kids.

Privatized! The AP reports that "U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's campaign committee, following big losses in the stock market, is short of money to cover a [$360,000] bank loan that was due in August."

November 30

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Military analysts tell the Washington Post that the rising number of U.S. troops in Iraq "signals a re-Americanization . . . of our strategy" and means that "the ferocity with which the war is being waged by both sides is escalating." Plus: 'Insurgency broken? Far from it.'

In a commentary for Lebanon's Daily Star, Jeffrey Sachs of the Earth Institute writes that the war's civilian carnage "is systematically ignored in the United States, where the media and government portray a war in which there are no civilian deaths, because there are no Iraqi civilians, only insurgents."

'Raytheon Heat Beam Weapon Ready For Iraq' for use in "crowd control," the Boston Business Journal reports, adding that "the company is working on a smaller, tripod-mounted version for police forces, and the price would have to come down to a few hundred thousand dollars each to be affordable."

Iraq's largest Sunni party warned of civil war unless elections set for January 30 are postponed, and the London Times reports that Sunni parties "appear to be far behind" the Shias and the Kurds in their preparations.

In a Los Angeles Times op-ed, Dirk Laabs argues that the threat posed by 'A Dwarf Known As Al Qaeda' is "hugely overblown" and "pumped up by almost obsessive media hype."

The New York Times reports that "international inspectors are requesting access to two secret Iranian military sites" and that an Iranian negotiator dismissed the idea.

The Nation's Ari Berman asks, "Will the U.S. wage another war based on bad intelligence?" Plus: Couldn't we "skip ahead directly to the quagmire?"

President Bush encountered "passionate but peaceful" protests on the second day of his visit to Canada' after "unprecedented security" in Ottawa, where one protester was quoted as saying, "Thanks to George Bush, we've got people up on rooftops with guns, ready to shoot people." Plus: Churchill, Roosevelt and... Bush?

A Washington Times reference to Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's predecessor as "Jacques Chretien" did not go unnoticed in Canada.

Bush hardened his stance on Palestinians, and Marwan Barghouti, serving five life terms in an Israeli prison, became a candidate in next month's presidential election to succeed Yasser Arafat, when his wife, Fadwa Barghouti, filed the necessary papers on his behalf. Sec. of State Colin Powell pronounced his candidacy "problematic."

Reuters reports that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is scrambling to prevent his government's collapse after a parliamentary mutiny threatened his grip on power.

The Independent's Donald Macintyre writes that "tentative hopes for a revived peace process" have been "plunged into disarray" by these 'New splits among Palestinians and Israelis.'

Knight Ridder reports that "FBI agents executed search warrants Wednesday at the headquarters of a leading pro-Israel lobby and delivered grand jury subpoenas in an ongoing probe of alleged espionage for Israel."

BOP's Ian Welsh revisits his earlier analysis of a "Perfect Economic Storm," in which he suggested that "an economic meltdown of epic proportions was likely in 2005," and invokes what he calls "the second rule of Bush: not only is it worse than you think, it's worse than you can possibly imagine."

Writing in CounterPunch, Joshua Frank and Merlin Chowkwanyun urge progressives to make "a clean break from the Democratic Party," citing the selection of Harry Reid as Senate Minority Leader and the failure to oppose the nomination of Alberto Gonzales for Attorney General as evidence that reform within the party is "a hopeless endeavor."

Greg Sargent profiles Kay Daly, a longtime Republican operative now marketing herself to Christian Conservatives as a "stay-at-home mom" and "the head of an impressive-sounding coalition of '75 groups'' whose staff includes "just me." Daly's web site touts her "numerous awards including a citation from Senator Rick Santorum."

Exposure recounts an experience with employers screening for values when considering potential employees as holiday help: "Do you believe that our current political leaders are doing a good job?"

An analysis of federally funded abstinence-only programs by Rep. Henry Waxman's staff found students being given "false, misleading, or distorted information," e.g., "that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals 'can result in pregnancy,'" says a Washington Post report.

"The George Wallace of homosexuality." An Alabama lawmaker has introduced a bill that would "ban novels with gay characters from public libraries, including university libraries," saying that if the bill passes, "I guess we dig a big hole and dump them in and bury them."

AP reports that the judge in the Methodist Church trial of a lesbian minister has excluded "expert testimony from six defense witnesses who believe the church's gay ban violates its own legal principles," saying it is "not relevant to this case."

Charles Pierce writes that the current obsession with sex in Washington, D.C., is enough to make one believe in the existence of erotoxins.

December 1

Friday, December 3, 2004

As "mortar barrages hammered the heavily fortified Green Zone and elsewhere in central Baghdad," the U.S. Embassy followed the lead of the British Embassy and banned its employees from using the highway to Baghdad's international airport, after a bomb hit an armored Rhino bus, and President Bush said, "It's time for the Iraqi citizens to go to the polls."

The Christian Science Monitor reports that rebels are returning to "cleared" areas in Fallujah, and lying in wait for Marines to come through their doors.

'Firebombing Falluja' Mike Whitney writes that proof is mounting that "the United States is using napalm in Fallujah" and calls it "an ominous sign of what's to come." Plus: 'More troops mean more trouble.'

MMFA catches a "moment of candor" from radical cleric Jerry Falwell during his appearance as a guest host on CNN's "Crossfire," during which he said that the war in Iraq "goes pretty well if you watch it on FOX.

Tom Engelhardt and Dilip Hiro explore 'the geopolitics of the Iranian bomb,' and the associated hard bargaining "over the shape of the world," as Iran bans National Geographic for placing the words "Arabian Gulf" in brackets under "Persian Gulf" on a map.

AP reports that "some 200 masked young men and women gathered at a Tehran cemetery Thursday to pledge their willingness to carry out suicide bomb attacks against Americans in Iraq and Israelis."

The U.S. government has admitted in court that military panels are using evidence gained by torture against detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Government lawyers also asserted that foreign detainees have no constitutional rights, "even if they aided terrorists unintentionally and never fought the United States." Plus: Molly Ivins asks, 'Is This American?'

A month before President Bush named Bernard Kerik as new head of Homeland Security, Newsday's Leonard Levitt made the early call: "As for Homeland Security, let's reiterate Kerik's Iraq credentials. Back in 2002, he signed on for six months in Baghdad to train the Iraqi police," yet "bugged out of Baghdad after only three months with no explanation."

A story in USAToday recalls that Kerik "told the New York Daily News during the campaign that his biggest fear was another terrorist attack, and 'if you put Sen. (John) Kerry in the White House, I think you are going to see that happen.'"

According to the Washington Post, John Danforth resigned as U.S. ambassador to the UN after "one of the shortest tenures" in the post. The story quotes unnamed administration officials as saying that "there was no future for him."

Left Coaster pays fulsome tribute to 'The One Resignation That Matters' -- the retirement of Bill Moyers from the Public Broadcasting Corporation.

In CounterPunch, Saul Landau reflects on 'The Assassination of Danilo Anderson' recently in Venezuela, noting that Anderson had been collecting evidence linking U.S. agencies to the April 2000 coup against President Hugo Chavez and writing that "high level hits occur when high level officials authorize them." Plus: 'Documents Show C.I.A. Knew of a Coup Plot in Venezuela.'

Carpetbagger suggests that President Bush's upcoming two-day economic summit "with his advisers and a few hundred business leaders" may make his recent "Ask the President" campaign events look unscripted by comparison.

Raw Story's John Byrne introduces Hustler's report on the "hidden life" of Rep. David Dreier, who "was targeted because he had repeatedly voted against gay rights measures, all the while keeping his alleged male partner on his office payroll." Byrne notes that Dreier continues to enjoy a "veil of protection from the newspapers in his home district."

Former CIA head George Tenet calls for "tough new security measures" for the Internet, saying that although people "still think the Internet is a free and open society with no control or accountability ... the Wild West must give way to governance and control."

War in Context unmasks the Martha Stewart-Bush-Sharon Connection: "Their supporters frequently employ the same structure of argument when deflecting criticism. Criticism of their conduct is treated as an attack on their identity."

The Denver Voice has published more photos of anti-Bush demonstrations in Canada, revealing the size and scope of the protests.

American Leftist ponders the identity, and the signature achievement, of "The Greatest Canadian" and concludes that "it would be like if NBC conducted a poll of its viewers to name the greatest American, and Eugene V. Debs was the winner."

'The Hit We Almost Missed' Columbia Records' Shaun Considine recalls the near non-release of the Bob Dylan classic recently named the greatest song of all time, while a CBS "60 Minutes" interview set for broadcast Sunday reveals that Dylan himself remains characteristically unimpressed.

December 2

Monday, December 6, 2004

The Independent examines President Bush's "plan to dismantle 30 years of environmental laws," citing EPA head Mike Leavitt as pointing out that a third of the agency's staff will become eligible for retirement over Bush's second term. Plus: Is "clean coal" an oxymoron?

With 'No End in Sight' in Iraq, the Los Angeles Times reports on a week of surging preelection violence that has killed 23 U.S. troops and at least 80 Iraqis. Plus: 'Insurgents Step Up Attacks.'

Editor and Publisher notices that the Washington Post is "reconsidering" its many-months-old practice of running news about the war in Iraq under the label "Postwar Iraq."

In 'Icarus (Armed with Vipers) Over Iraq,' Tom Engelhardt laments the lack of "a single article anywhere in the American press" covering "the repeated bombing, strafing, and missiling of heavily populated civilian urban centers and the partial or total destruction of cities."

The Boston Globe reports that returning residents may find a Fallujah that looks "more like a police state than the democracy they have been promised." Plus: Fallujah as a model city.

A New York Times story calls a planned lawsuit by eight soldiers who say they have been prevented from leaving Iraq even though the terms of enlistment they signed up for have run out only the latest sign of "rising tension within the ranks."

Newly-surfaced photos that "appear to show Navy SEALs in Iraq sitting on hooded and handcuffed detainees, and ... bloodied prisoners, one with a gun to his head," were explained by Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt on Aljazeera as "the acts of an isolated few."

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf tells the Washington Post that "the search for Osama bin Laden has gone completely cold," and blames the U.S. because "because the U.S.-led coalition does not have enough troops in Afghanistan."

The Los Angeles Times reports that the global investigation into Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan's black market nuclear proliferation ring seems to have grown cold as well.

The Washington Post's Steve Coll separates fact from fabrication regarding the death of Pat Tillman by friendly fire, detailing how Tillman's superiors "burnished his legend in public, at the same time suppressing details that might tarnish Tillman's commanders."

AP reports at least 12 deaths in an attack on a U.S. consulate in Saudi Arabia.

The State Dept.'s Roger Noriega announces that during his second term President Bush will be committed to the "liberation of Cuba."

'Politicize the CIA? You've Got to be Kidding!' writes Alexander Cockburn, before conducting "a brisk tour of CIA Directors" in response to Jason Vest's suggestion that new CIA head Porter Goss's "articulation of CIA fealty to the White House" was "unparalleled."

The Korea Times says that the fact that Bernard Kerik admittedly ditched a Korean child and deserted her mother in 1976 means that his nomination as Homeland Security head is likely to get close attention in the South Korean media. Plus: Rudy Giuliani is said to have "cashed in a chip" on Kerik, who earlier expressed his thoughts on dissent.

After a U.S. marine embassy guard reportedly killed a rock star in a Bucharest car wreck, the BBC reveals that a U.S. pledge of "full cooperation" with Romanian police included the statement that the marine "was escorted out of country by an embassy security officer." Scroll down for photos of Teo Peter and his popular band, Compact.

As Bob Dylan breaks his silence in an edited "60 minutes" transcript, Greg Mitchell recalls the singer's vital role as ground-breaking media critic, and the Saratogian wonders, 'What if Bob Dylan gave other interviewers a chance?' -- and went on "Hardball" or "The O'Reilly Factor."

Clear Channel picks a primary news source for more than 100 of its radio stations.

December 3-5

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

The New York Times reports that a classified end-of-tour cable from the CIA station chief in Baghdad warns that "the situation in Iraq is deteriorating and may not rebound any time soon," and that a briefing by a senior advisor to CIA head Porter Goss echoed similar conclusions.

According to AP, "Brazen gunmen firing automatic weapons roamed Baghdad's streets Monday within blocks of ... the U.S. Embassy and the headquarters of Iraq's interim government," meaning that "despite their overwhelming strength, U.S.-led troops and Iraqi security forces have yet to secure areas surrounding the country's most vital facilities."

The Shiite Get Out The Vote effort, as described by the Washington Post, includes a banner reading, "Elections are the ideal way to expel the occupier from Iraq."

The Christian Science Monitor looks at why thousands of Kurds have been "switching their registration cards from the places where they actually live" to Kirkuk, hoping to reclaim the city for Kurdistan. Earlier: George Packer on 'The Next Iraqi War.'

The Los Angeles Times, filing from the scene, reports that as attackers burned a U.S. flag at an American consulate in Saudi Arabia, an employee reached by phone more than 90 minutes into the assault told a reporter, "We are under attack. If I live, you are invited for dinner."

'From L.A. to New York to . . . jihad?' LA Weekly's Brendan Bernhard takes a ride with a White Muslim who, "like a growing number of white Americans and Europeans," decided to take shahada after 9/11.

A New York Times story on documents obtained by AP, which show that the FBI complained in 2002 about abuse of detainees at Guantanamo, says an FBI official was told by the commanding general that "the bureau has its way of doing things and the D.O.D. has their marching orders from SecDef."

In an interview with Mother Jones, Mark Danner, author of "Torture and Truth: America, Abu Ghraib and the War on Terror," describes the Bush administration's containment strategy for "a scandal that could have brought down senior officials and could have lost them the election."

Josh Marshall excerpts a New York Post report which notes that in praising the career of his new Homeland Security nominee, President Bush was "oddly -- and utterly -- silent" on Bernard Kerik's service in Baghdad, "and perhaps for good reason." And "Democracy Now!" interviews Kerik watchers.

Reuters reports that unarmed Nigerian villagers, including women and children, identified in headlines as "militants," took on oil giants Shell and ChevronTexaco, seizing three oil platforms and shutting down production in a jobs dispute.

Media Week reports that when FCC chairman Michael Powell told Congress that "indecency complaints had soared dramatically," he neglected to add that 99.8 percent of them were filed by one activist group, the Parents Television Council, founded by Brent Bozell, "a zealot of impeccable right-wing pedigree."

In a commentary for the International Herald Tribune, William Pesek, Jr., hears 'the sound of sharpening knives' as Japan and Asia's central banks watch the falling dollar and the U.S. current-account deficit.

'Inventing A Crisis' Paul Krugman argues that the Social Security privateers "aren't sincerely concerned about the possibility that the system will someday fail; they're disturbed by the system's historic success."

Calling Dr. Frist. Tapped observes that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist appeared reluctant to answer a basic medical question posed by ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week": can HIV be transmitted by tears and sweat, as some federally-funded abstinence-only programs claim?

Despite an "unprecedented statewide hand recount," the Seattle Times reports that "Washington may never know for sure" who won this year's race for governor, citing experts who say that "no election system is precise enough to determine who won a race this close."

Poll Tacts Rep. John Conyers requests "raw data" from Nov. 2 exit poll and invites head of one of the companies that conducted polling to to appear before Democrats on House Judiciary Committee. And Raw Story interviews a programmer who claims he built "vote-rigging" software at the request of a Florida Congressman. Update: Other programmers weigh in.

Atrios reintroduces an Assembly of God youth pastor, no longer on his church's pastor roster, who appeared at a Bush campaign rally in October to say he "supports Bush's values," and has now been charged with sexual exploitation of a child. Plus: How "moral values" became gospel truth.

Tom Tomorrow offers a working synopsis of the post-election debate between liberals and conservatives.

December 6

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that a new study from RAND Corp. praises the Pentagon's decision to embed reporters with troops in Iraq as a "major success for the military, the press and the American public." The Christian Science Monitor interviewed the study's lead author, Christopher Paul.

AP reports that the Pentagon's inspector general has concluded that widespread sexual assault problems at the Air Force Academy stem from "failure of successive chains of command over the past 10 years to acknowledge the severity of the problem."

The Washington Post cites Pentagon officials as saying that "a military investigation has concluded that the Air Force's top lawyer engaged in improper relationships with more than a dozen women over the last decade."

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld got an earful from disgruntled U.S. soldiers in Kuwait, who cheered when one asked, "Why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills ... to uparmor our vehicles?" Rumsfeld responded that while the military was doing all that it could, "You can have all the armor in the world on a tank and it can (still) be blown up." He also said it was his "guess" that "stop loss" would continue to be invoked.

According to Reuters Rumsfeld also drew hostile fire during his brief on-screen appearance at a rare showing of the film "Control Room" in Dubai.

A former marine told a political asylum hearing in Toronto that "trigger-happy U.S. soldiers in Iraq routinely killed unarmed women and children" and that on one occasion, "marines reacted to a stray bullet by killing a small group of unarmed protesters and bystanders."

The Washington Post reports claims by U.S. military intelligence officials that Syria is providing sanctuary for a handful of Iraqi Baathists, who they say are managing the insurgency while raising funds from sources in Saudi Arabia and Europe. The article also includes a Defense Department official's assessment that the "Green Zone" is "overrun with agents."

Defense Intelligence Agency personnel who witnessed prisoners being abused in Iraq were threatened by U.S. special forces, had their e-mails monitored, and were ordered "not to talk to anyone in the U.S." about what they saw, according to documents obtained by the ACLU. The Post adds that the White house "fought vigorously to keep the new documents from public view."

Noting that the ACLU has also opposed the bill restructuring U.S. intelligence, WSWS argues that the House vote is 'Another step toward a police state.' Plus: 'Secret Intelligence and the "War on Terror."'

Michael Klare writes that a 'Looming Energy Crisis Overshadows Bush's Second Term,' and the National Commission on Energy Policy calls for 'Ending the Energy Stalemate' with a "diverse" approach that would, among other things, "stimulate global oil production ... rapidly expand a new method of burning coal and explore a revival of nuclear power."

The Union of Concerned Scientists gives Honda the "2004 Greenest Automaker" award, and dubs a slumping General Motors, "Public Polluter #1." See the rankings.

The Los Angeles Times covers an activists' forum spotlighting 2004 voting issues. Read Common Cause's 'What Really Happened?' report and get updates at its blog.

Ann Harrison writes that "there's an urgency" to postpone the December 13th meeting of Ohio's presidential electors to allow time for a recount, "but the pressure's not coming from the Democrats." She notes that "the main effort to actually channel election investigations into a win for Kerry is being led by ... the Alliance for Democracy."

The Bush campaign has refused to waive a five-day waiting period that would have allowed the Ohio recount to begin immediately. Harper's publisher John R. MacArthur argues that a 'Timid Kerry Stopped Counting Too Soon,' and Slate's Timothy Noah examines Kerry's chances of snagging faithless electors.

Summarizing problems with the Ohio vote, Juan Gonzalez writes that "Something tells me no bank in America would accept as many computer problems in tracking its money as Ohio's elections board had in tracking its votes on Nov. 2." He also refers to his earlier column about "unusual vote totals" in black neighborhoods of Cleveland.

Josh Marshall finds another possible clue to explain Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik's early departure from Iraq, and The Smoking Gun documents Kerik's sojourn in an "asset-free zone." Plus: Waxing poetic about Kerik.

Sen. John McCain slams Republicans for demanding the resignation of U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, including Sen. Norm Coleman, who was called an "an embarrassment" by the Star Tribune in an editorial that begins: "Good old Norm; it appears there's nothing he won't do for a headline, or for his GOP masters."

After incoming Senate minority leader Harry Reid said on "Meet the Press" that he could support Antonin Scalia for Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Rick Kasen writes that it would be the rational thing to do. Or why not Clarence Thomas?

'Those Sharks Have Teeth' Gadflyer's Sarah Posner writes that a New York Times article "about how payday loan sharks are ripping off military families" failed to make it clear that "the payday loan industry is in bed with the Republican Party."

A Naval officer tells David Hackworth that hearing Rush Limbaugh on Armed Forces Radio and Television is "like being forced to listen to 'Tokyo Rose' in a Japanese POW Camp." Plus: "He never caught a rabbit and he ain't no friend of mine."

Reviewing pre-Iraq war comments by Evangelical leaders, Darrell Dow argues that 'Pro-War Christians Should Come Clean.'

A former president of the Lion's Club and a town trustee for 12 years faces a recall in Estes Park, Colorado, because of his refusal to say the words under God in the Pledge of Allegiance.

'PTC Demands A Recount' The Parents Television Council has accused the FCC of "lowballing the number of their complaints," after the FCC estimated that 99.8 percent of all indecency complaints in 2003 were filed by the PTC.

Calling Daisy Miller. Help is now available online for Americans wishing to travel abroad disguised as Canadians.

December 7

Thursday, December 9, 2004

The Los Angeles Times reports on a New England Journal of Medicine article about the "severe shortage of surgeons in Iraq," which notes that "at least as many U.S. soldiers have been injured in combat in this war as in the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, or the first five years of the Vietnam conflict ... This can no longer be described as a small or contained conflict." The article is accompanied by a very graphic photo essay.

As Iraq vets begin showing up at shelters, UPI's Mark Benjamin quotes a homeless advocate as saying, "This is what happened with the Vietnam vets ... It is like watching history being repeated."

After his troops release the "pent-up frustration of the day ... in a fury of shooting," a U.S. lieutenant tells Reuters that his marines "suppress their feelings" when some of them are killed or wounded, adding, "The time to grieve is when we get home and they all know that."

"The press it is a-changin'," writes Stewart Nusbaumer, who sees signs that the media may be moving from cheerleading to reporting that Iraq is another Vietnam. Nusbaumer is founder of Veterans Against the Iraq War.

War in Context's Paul Woodward writes that "America gave its consent to go to war so long as life here could go on as normal -- so long as for most Americans this would be someone else's war."

Knight Ridder reports that as 'Violence persists throughout Iraq,' "There is no comprehensive way to quantify how rebel activity has been affected nationwide by the Fallujah assault. American officials no longer make available to reporters a daily tally of the number of incidents reported around the country."

A senior officer in the unit of Specialist Thomas Wilson, the scout who confronted Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with tough questions about "hillbilly armor," tells the New York Times that "95 percent of the unit's more than 300 trucks had insufficient armor." Plus: Article quotes Wilson's ex-wife as saying she and her ex-husband voted for Bush and support him "100 percent."

Slate's Fred Kaplan on 'Rumsfeld vs. the American Soldier,' and Maureen Dowd asks: "How did this dangerous chucklehead keep his job?"

The Washington Post reports that a veteran CIA undercover operative has alleged in a lawsuit that he was told to falsify his reports from Iraq on WMDs and threatened with retaliation from "CIA management" if he refused. "Their official dogma was contradicted by his reporting and they did not want to hear it," said the operative's lawyer.

According to USA Today, the master list of potential terrorist targets, which the Dept. of Homeland Security has been working on for a year, "includes water parks and miniature golf courses but omits some major sites in need of security."

A Washington Post article quotes former overseas co-workers of Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik as calling him a "goon" who conducted "sinister" investigations into people's personal lives for his boss, prior to his expulsion from Saudi Arabia," an event described in Kerik's book.

The New York Times has 'Questions for Mr. Kerik,' and the AP explains how he made $6.2 million as a member of the board of directors of a company that sells stun guns to the Dept. of Homeland Security. Plus: 'All hail to Caligula's horse.'

A Reuters story says that the recent attack on a U.S. consulate in Saudi Arabia was led by a former member of the kingdom's morality police.

According to Haaretz, a candidate to succeed Yasser Arafat as head of the Palestinian Authority was beaten at gunpoint by Israeli troops while campaigning. Mustafa Barghouti is quoted as saying that "I identified myself as a politician, but was struck with rifles and pinned to the ground."

A Guardian photo album of images from along the length of Israel's "security barrier," show its impact on Palestinian lives.

The U.S. Senate passed the Intelligence Reorganization Bill by an 89-2 vote, the only dissenters being Sens. James Inhofe and Robert Byrd, who said that his fellow senators "cower like whipped dogs in the face of political pressure."

A separate intelligence spending bill includes funding for "a mysterious and expensive" new spy program that Sen. Jay Rockefeller called "dangerous to the national security."

The Bush Administration has reportedly filed a brief in the case of McCreary County v. ACLU, urging the U.S. Supreme Court to permit displays of the Ten Commandments in courthouses.

Truthout's William Rivers Pitt writes that Republicans achieved a "quieting" of the Conyers Hearing when "not one Republican congressman bothered to show up" and when "the GOP majority would not even allow this hearing to be videotaped on the television equipment that came with the hearing room."

A Daily Kos poster takes issue with America Coming Together CEO Steve Rosenthal's 'Why Democrats lost Ohio.' Earlier: ACT's operation was chronicled in 'Who Lost Ohio?'

'The Democrats' Da Vinci Code' David Sirota argues that the message of the economic populists who won victories on November 2 is a threat to both Karl Rove and to "groups like the Democratic Leadership Council, which has pushed the Democratic Party to give up on its working-class roots and embrace big business' agenda." Plus: People get another vote!

Feels just like starting over. "Senior Democratic strategists and consultants" tell The Hill that the race for DNC chair is "shaping up as a retread of January's Iowa caucuses, with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean emerging as the early front-runner and the Democratic establishment furiously scrambling for a candidate to beat him." Plus: "We have to learn to punch our way off the ropes."

December 8

Friday, December 10, 2004

As Canada's Supreme Court 'OK's Same-Sex Marriage,' the Guardian reports that Alabama state Rep. Gerald Allen was invited to the White House to meet with President Bush after introducing a bill to ban the use of state funds to purchase books or other materials that contain "positive depictions of homosexuality."

Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Lee Pitts describes "one of my best days as a journalist" in an e-mail about his role in the "hillbilly armor" questions put to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld. The paper's editor follows up with an "explanation to our readers."

USA Today reports that despite a "hastily called news conference" at which an Army general said that "we have a plan" to armor all vehicles used in Iraq, "two companies under contract to the Pentagon said their offers to boost production went unheeded." Plus: Rumsfeld forever!

According to the Boston Globe, while "only 1 in 10 U.S. troops injured in Iraq has died," those injured have "required limb amputations at twice the rate of past wars, and as many as 20 percent have suffered head and neck injuries that may require a lifetime of care."

Antonia Zerbisias of the Toronto Star writes that the U.S. media is 'still hiding bad news from Americans,' and WSWS says that the "deafening silence" in the media over a damning Pentagon report is "echoed by the Democratic Party."

A Turkish Press story accompanied by a grisly photo reveals a new mission for U.S. marines in Fallujah: hunting down and killing "stray animals grown fat on the flesh from corpses and who could harbor rabies."

CBS, on "60 Minutes Wednesday," interviewed a few of the more than 5,500 servicemen the Pentagon says have deserted since the invasion of Iraq began, and a lawyer who says they signed a contract "to defend the Constitution of the United States, not take part in offensive, pre-emptive wars." Plus: '1 million U.S. troops have gone to war' in Iraq or Afghanistan.

A London Times article on desertion and plunging morale quotes's John Pike as saying that "Another war would require a shift to a 'no-kidding wartime posture in which everybody who could shoot was given a rifle and sent to the front.'"

A Knight Ridder story says that 'U.S. gives rosy picture of rebuilding Iraq, while people on the streets seethe.' Plus: 'Understanding the Insurgency.'

The Washington Post's Scott Wilson, reporting as an embed from Mosul, learns first hand why "elections have barely registered in the frightened day-to-day life of most people here."

An AP story on a new poll, which found that a majority of Americans now view a stable, Democratic government in Iraq as "not likely," quotes a part-time postal carrier as saying, "I don't think that President Bush started off with the right attitude -- you cannot beat people into freedom."

Reuters says that, according to U.S. Army figures, Halliburton has passed the $10 billion mark in Iraq, prompting Rep. Henry Waxman to toast the milestone with a fact sheet.

"They're coming to take me away -- really." Democracy Now! interviewed reporter David DeBatto, about his article for Salon concerning a National Guard sergeant who told his captain he had witnessed five incidents of torture was "given about thirty seconds to change his mind and retract his allegations" and, after refusing, was "strapped to a gurney and flown out of Iraq."

The Army has banned the Denver Post from Fort Carson after the paper ran a story on military medical holds.

After Newsday's Ellis Henican called Homeland Security nominee Bernard Kerik "a personal and professional time bomb the Bushies will learn to regret," the Village Voice's James Ridgeway urges Sens. Schumer, Clinton and Kennedy to delay the canonization long enough to read Jimmy Breslin on 'Saint Bernard.' Plus: 'Kerik's demanding of GOP loyalty cost city.'

The New York Times reports that confirmation would put Kerik 'Atop Field That Enriched Him,' and charts his connections to 'the Business of Security.'

Meanwhile, as Kerik enters the picture, Homeland Security's inspector general, who issued "a series of stinging reports" on failed security programs, inept officials and lavish executive rewards, finds himself 'Out of a Job.'

New Front A Washington Post analysis says that President Bush is "targeting ... domestic programs" and "will travel the country and warn of the disastrous consequences of inaction, as he did to sell his Iraq and terrorism policies during the first term."

After indications that Bush plans to borrow the trillions needed to pay for privatizing Social Security, and White House spokesperson Scott McClellan's statement that "I wouldn't view anything as a cost," Paul Krugman writes that Bush's plan is similar to the one Argentina tried, just before its economy collapsed: "borrow trillions, put the money in the stock market and hope."

The Washington Post reports that the intelligence package passed by Congress this week contains "little-noticed measures" to expand police powers, most of which were "not part of the Sept. 11 panel's recommendations." Plus: a new intelligence role for driver's licenses.

Collecting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Kenya's Wangari Maathai used the occasion to sound the alarm against corporate greed and, according to Reuters, will use the cash from the award to "expand her Green Belt Movement around the world."

"I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time," says Bill Moyers, "how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee." Plus: Why Karl Rove "should get the Laughing All the Way to the Inauguration award" and 'The P.U.-litzer Prizes For 2004.'

"Man on the street" interviewed by CBS for a segment on Social Security "reform," turns out to have a history of advocating for privatization during stints at right-wing think tanks.

Scroll down for a reporter's behind-the-scenes account of a live "Hannity & Colmes" event called "Take Back America." Plus: 'Fox News has its own view of reality' and Bill O'Reilly on "the most vile, despicable human beings in the country," and "why nobody sticks up for Christmas except me."

MoveOn message to supporters says, "we can't afford four more years of leadership by a consulting class of professional election losers."

December 9

Monday, December 13, 2004

Josh Marshall reviews what the White House knew about Bernard Kerik's background, the New York Times weighs in on Kerik's web of relationships "with officials of a New Jersey construction company long suspected ... of connections to organized crime," and the New York Daily News reports that Kerik "conducted two extramarital affairs simultaneously."

The Times also speculates on how the Kerik nomination fiasco will affect relations between the White House and Rudy Giuliani, who has welcomed Kerik back to his old job. And Joyce Purnick writes that in allowing Bush to nominate him, "Kerik was acting as a graduate of the willful Giuliani administration," where he was "accustomed to working in a climate that celebrated audacity and protected insiders."

In 'Four More Years of Decline,' Peter Preston argues that "Kerik was a flawed candidate from the beginning, selected sloppily from a lackluster field," while Bloomberg reports that Sen. Joseph Lieberman has bipartisan backing to replace Kerik as the nominee.

Retaking Fallujah? As U.S. warplanes bomb the city again, the military says that eight Marines were killed in "Anbar province," giving no indication if they died in or around Fallujah. And, 13 people were killed by a suicide bomber at the gates of the Green Zone. Plus: Voter registration among eligible Iraqis said to be less than one percent.

US News describes "Project 111," "Plan 549," and other elements of Saddam Hussein's pre-war schemes to lay the foundations for an insurgency and to plant 'Seeds of Chaos.'

The Nashville Tennessean recalls that a Guardsman who confronted Donald Rumsfeld over inadequate armor to protect troops in Iraq wasn't the first Tennessee Guardsman to bring up the issue with the Sec. of Defense.

The Nation's Ari Berman writes that "twenty-one months into the war, the Administration has repeatedly changed its explanation of why the troops are there, how long they are expected to stay and when they will receive the equipment they need." Plus" 'Failure To Plan = Planning To Fail.'

The Washington Post profiles the Army's 29-square-mile Red River Depot in Texarkana, where a few hundred Humvees await repair, although "the real bottleneck may lie in Washington," since the depot's business chief says that "the reality is, there isn't the funding."

A USA Today analysis finds that "part-time soldiers in the Army National Guard are about one-third more likely to be killed in Iraq than full-time active-duty soldiers serving there." Plus: Seventy-year-old surgeon and retired Army colonel answers the call to serve in Afghanistan.

After a 13 hour wait to buy gasoline, Baghdad Burning's Riverbend writes that "People are wondering how America and gang (i.e. Iyad Allawi, etc.) are going to implement democracy in all of this chaos when they can't seem to get the gasoline flowing in a country that virtually swims in oil."

In addition to gift suggestions for a 'Merry Military-Corporate Christmas,' Nick Turse offers up new lyrics for "Let It Snow": "Oh, the war in Iraq is frightful, But for Lockheed and pals it's delightful, Since the Pentagon continues to pay, Let 'em stay, let 'em stay, let 'em stay."

The New York Times reports that ever-present Pakistani "escorts" have made it "virtually impossible for the Americans to gather intelligence effectively" in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and quotes one intelligence official as saying that bin Laden "still has operational communications with the outside." Plus: bin Laden is said to be nearby.

Critical Montages has screenshots from the new, improved ending to the video of Eminem's "Mosh," in which the rapper and his homies crash the State of the Union to challenge President Bush, terrify Vice-President Dick Cheney and confront Sen. John Kerry with a "Count Every Vote" sign.

Art exhibit shut down over portrait of President Bush fashioned from images of chimpanzees.

Rep. John Conyers, Jr. issues a release saying that "We have now repeatedly seen [Ohio] election officials obstruct and stonewall...," the Kerry campaign requests that its witnesses be allowed to visually inspect 92,000 ballots in which no vote for president was recorded, and the Ohio county with a glitch that gave President Bush almost 4,000 extra votes, is reported to have left 39 voting machines unused.

Writing in CounterPunch, Ben Tripp says that theories swirling around the "fiddling" of Election 2004 "have gotten so confusing that John Kerry might just as well capitulate immediately and go home."

Raw Story reports that "A lead director of the company hired by Florida to fix the state's controversial felon voting rolls," Arthur Anderson spinoff Accenture, is also chairman of Anglo American plc, "a company many regard as a former pillar of South African apartheid."

The BBC reports that exit polls show Romania's presidential run-off election in a dead heat, with talk in the streets of "a second Ukraine."

King of Zembla rounds up coverage of the death of legendary investigative journalist Gary Webb, who described himself as "a reporter [who] went after the CIA and lost his job over it," an affair chronicled in Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair's book, "Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press."

Robert Parry calculates 'America's Debt to ... Gary Webb.' Earlier, Cory Zurowski analyzed the disparity in coverage of Webb's investigations between the alternative vs. the mainstream press. Plus: Uh oh, another "suicide."

December 10-12

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

In a case seen as "a key test for human rights activists who want to hold multinationals responsible in U.S. courts for atrocities," the Los Angeles Times reports that Unocal will settle with Myanmar villagers, now in hiding for their safety, who say the corporation was "responsible for forced labor, rapes and a murder ... along the route of a natural gas pipeline."

First Newsweek and then the Los Angeles Times report that despite an order from President Bush barring U.S. citizens from doing business with "one of the world's most notorious international criminals," planes said to be controlled by Victor Bout have been "making repeated flights to Iraq" on behalf of Halliburton subsidiary KBR. Earlier: Michael Scherer on 'Dealing with the Merchant of Death.'

CounterPunch pays tribute to 'Gary Webb: A Great Reporter,' recalling that in addition to exposing the CIA's role in importing cocaine into the U.S. in the 1980s, Webb also wrote "the definitive expose ... of racial profiling by cops across the country." Plus: David Corn on Webb and 'R.I.P Gary Webb -- Unembedded Reporter.'

As Sen. John McCain gives another no confidence vote to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, a Seattle Times op-ed says that it's time to "get the heat off those risking their lives" and put it on 'The leaders we have, not the ones we might want.'

The New Standard reports that, although the UN's special envoy has declared that Iraq's elections will be "an Iraqi process conducted by Iraqis for Iraqis," in reality "U.S.-financed agencies describing themselves as 'pro-democracy' but viewed by critics as decidedly anti-democratic, have their hands all over" the election process.

The second suicide bomber in as many days killed seven in Baghdad at a Green Zone gate and produced "a mushroom-shaped cloud of black smoke ... near the site of Monday's blast."

USA Today reports that its previous analysis of National Guard death rates in Iraq vs. full-time soldiers was based on bad numbers provided by the Army National guard, which now says it doesn't know how many Guard troops have gone to Iraq. Plus: are civilian workers next to face deployment to Iraq?

The acting commander of the unit charged with protecting Baghdad's "Route Irish" tells the Washington Post that attacks on the road to the airport have "created a significant perception problem," and that "It's not as bad as it looks." The story mentions that his "soldiers are armed to the teeth" and report "harrowing" experiences with car bombs.

All Hands CYA! The New York Times reveals that a classified directive issued by CIA headquarters in 2003 advised agency personnel in Iraq that "if the military employed any type of techniques beyond questions and answers, we should not participate and should not be present."

'Hero in Error' Possible explanation offered for awarding of Presidential Medal of Freedom to former CIA Director George Tenet.

The Christian Science Monitor examines Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's plans for general amnesty for the Taliban who come in from the cold, and talks to one commander who won't be getting an offer. Earlier: Karzai's 'Island Named Kabul.'

Romania's reformist opposition leader Traian Basescu has been declared president after narrowly defeating leftist Prime Minister Adrian Nastase in a run-off election that "could mark a significant shift in Romanian politics." Plus: Basescu's Bardot Bargain.

In a 'Letter From Romania,' gay rights activist Adrian Coman analyzes the election and writes that "for the first time Romania has a president who seems to be honest, does not have a past to cover up and who offers a chance to reshape politics on the basis of values and principles."

The AP reports that hundreds of absentee ballots mistakenly rejected in King County, Washington, would be enough to swing the governor's race to Democrat Christine Gregoire, who trailed by 42 votes as a statewide hand recount got underway.

Testifying at Democratic House Judiciary Committee hearings in Columbus, Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb alleged that a voting company representative tampered with equipment and attempted to plant false information into the Ohio recount, and that similar practices were "going on across the state." More on Triad GSI, "The Election Systems PEOPLE!"

Gadflyer's Sarah Posner writes that, faced with "the imminence of a Bush Supreme Court nomination and a Republican power play to eliminate filibusters," senate Democrats are "showing no signs of having either individual or collective backbone." Salon's Mark Follman explains the "nuclear option" threatened by the GOP.

Dana Milbank translates "We have full confidence in his integrity" and other "creative euphemisms the White House has adopted to get it through awkward moments."

In 'Bernie, We Hardly Knew Ye,' James Wolcott writes that "the juicy stories keep popping out of the NY tabloids and the blogs like clowns from a clown car." Good thing, Wolcott adds, "because God knows the Democrats are frozen at the steering wheel."

The New York Daily New quotes Kerik as accusing the media of attacking his family by reporting the scandals: "You want to attack me, attack me. Don't attack my family."

Newsday reports that 'Kerik kept first wife a secret,' and raises "questions about whether his first and second marriages overlapped," while Josh Marshall asks, "is there really a nanny?"

CJR Daily takes USA Today to task for editorial buying into "nanny problem" storyline, and questions pointless Web questions posed to cable news' viewers. Plus: Pat Buchanan and Jerry Falwell join chorus claiming that Chistmas is under seige.

FAIR alerts about reporting on Social Security by CBS and CNN, and The Daily Howler asks: "Has there ever been a policy matter in which so many American citizens were so aggressively disinformed?"

"Slither slither slither slither ..." After winning the British prize for bad sex in fiction, for purple prose described as "ghastly and boring," Tom Wolfe has become the first recipient to decline Literary Review's invitation to claim his due in person.

Dave Eggers previews Eric Idle's Broadway-bound "Spamalot" and discusses the Monty Python legacy.

December 13

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

'Balance in the service of falsehood' A Guardian commentary argues that "the media's failure on Iraq was not really a failure at all, but rather a classic product of 'balanced' professional journalism," and that it was "the boundaries of permissible dissent" set by the liberal media that "helped create a disaster."

Commenting on a plan to increase airlift operations because the roads inside Iraq are so dangerous, the Air Force chief of staff observed that "there'll be increased SAM threats to C-130's, you bet ... but you also have 100 casualties a month in convoys," noted that 30 percent of convoy cargo is bottled water, and "suggested that the military look for more local water suppliers."

Erik Leaver of Foreign Policy in Focus offers his five-point plan for 'Getting Out Of Iraq.'

According to the Los Angeles Times, newly-unveiled military documents made public by an ACLU lawsuit, show that "marines in Iraq conducted mock executions of juvenile prisoners last year, burned and tortured other detainees with electrical shocks, and warned a Navy corpsman they would kill him if he treated any injured Iraqis."

As Norman Schwarzkopf swells the chorus, Jim Lobe writes that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "appears to be in growing political trouble, and not just because of his cavalier reply last week to a question posed by a member of the Tennessee National Guard in Kuwait about the lack of armored vehicles to protect U.S. soldiers in Iraq." Plus: 'The Defense Secretary We Have.'

'The Gospel According to Rummy' Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell suggests that "If you have a taste for black humor you ought to take a deep drink this holiday season from a document called "Rumsfeld's Rules."

'A Pacifist Who Means Business' American Leftist was pleased to see that eight U.S. soldiers challenging the Pentagon over its "stop-loss" program are being represented in court by Staughton Lynd.

Critical Montages argues that what's going on in Afghanistan looks more like 'A New Opium War' than a war on "terror."

In the Village Voice, Jarrett Murphy reflects on Leslie James Pickering, who once held "the weirdest job in PR" -- spokesperson for Earth Liberation Front, a domestic "terrorist" organization, whom Pickering described as "freedom fighters." Plus: 'Ecology Terrorism Doubted In Arsons.'

The New York Times reports that the Battery Park City apartment that Bernard Kerik used for extramarital liasons, "was originally donated for the use of weary police and rescue workers" and that "one bedroom faced the pit of ground zero." Earlier: presidential adviser points out that Kerik "brings 9/11 symbolism into the Cabinet." Plus: there goes the biopic.

The Times also cites a GOP source as saying that "everyone at the White House knew that Mr. Bush liked Mr. Kerik, placing him in the special category of 'this guy's our guy,'" while a Washington Post analysis says that Bush's hope of limiting the political damage by cutting Kerik loose quickly has been dashed by "a cascade of damaging details about Kerik's business and personal lives that White House vetters either missed or ignored."

The New York Post cites sources who say that when publisher and paramour Judith Regan tried to end their affair, Kerik "went crazy," "showed up at her house" and "threatened her." And Media Matters charges that the mainstream media "largely accepted without challenge" Kerik's tale of a "nanny problem," allowing conservative pundits to "lament how difficult it is for good people to survive a confirmation process."

According to CNN's sources, Sen. Joe Lieberman has rebuffed two White House job overtures in recent days -- Homeland Security and UN ambassador.

Josh Marshall offers the Democrats strategy advice for waging battle on "the defining issue of the next two years," Social Security, while Molly Ivins warns that the debate is "landmined with Phony Fun Facts."

Reuters reports that a UN monitoring board says that "Pentagon auditors found numerous irregularities in a no-competition deal given by U.S. authorities to Halliburton Co. and paid for with Iraqi oil money."

The AP reports that interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says that "the armed uprising against Israel is a mistake and must end." Meanwhile, Aljazeera reports that a Likud Party member of Israel's Knesset said during a parliamentary debate that "the Arabs are worms. You find them everywhere like worms, underground as well as above."

Writing in Lebanon's Daily Star, David Hirst says that "for Arabs, the remarkable thing is the way that, historically, the West has repeatedly ignored or overridden the centrality of Palestine in their psyche," with Iraq, perceived as "another Palestine," as the "latest and most blatant example of it."

Pat Buchanan writes that "the neocons have in mind taking down Middle East regimes and occupying their nations with U.S. troops, who would train and fight with indigenous forces to crush insurgents who resist American 'hegemony.'"

Report that Spain's former prime minister Jose Maria Aznar erased computer records referring to the March 11 Madrid train bombings and the rest of his period of government, prompts question: 'Did Bush Know About Aznar's Cover-Up?'

'Voting Their Fears' Ira Chernus argues that "Bush's slim electoral margin didn't come from moral-values voters. It came from people who worried first and foremost about terrorism."

Brad Blog welcomes both the New York Times and the Washington Post to the voting irregularities beat, as the latter reports that problems which "prevented many thousands of Ohioans from voting on Nov. 2 ... appeared particularly acute in Democratic-leaning districts."

'Watch Your Language,' advises Gadflyer's Paul Waldman, who posts a December 7 ABC News transcript that "sounded like it was aired on the 700 Club, about how all over America, oppressed Christians are forced to hide their religion."

AP reports that a South Alabama judge showed up in court to hear a DUI case "wearing a judicial robe with the Ten Commandments embroidered in gold on the front of the garment," eliciting approval from former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and objections from a defense attorney.

As conservative Christians lobby to "put more Christ into Christmas" at stores and government buildings, the senior U.S. diplomat in Cuba defends his use of Christmas decorations to make a statement in Havana, saying, "We're prepared to pay whatever price for the things we believe in."

"On the Media" covers the latest battle in Venezuela's war between the press and the government, President Hugo Chavez's signing of the "Law of Radio and Television Responsibility."

A Boston Globe columnist bemoans trial coverage that "reduced a family tragedy to a national pastime, a sporting event complete with 'fans' cheering Peterson's conviction last month outside the courtroom." Plus: "Scott Peterson" vs. "Abu Ghraib" on since last June.

December 14

Thursday, December 16, 2004

A new taped message, purportedly from Osama bin Laden, makes reference to "our brothers who stormed the American Consulate in Jiddah" and warns Saudi leaders that "people are fed up ... security will not be able to stop them." Plus: 'Bin Laden Tries New Approach.'

As Iraq's election campaign kicked off, the country's interim defense minister appeared at a Green Zone meeting to criticize a front-running Shiite alliance for putting an "Iranian list" of candidates on the ballot, and to warn exiled alliance candidate Hussein Shahristani that "We will not let him come back and become an Iraqi prime minister."

Writing in the Boston Globe, Molly Bingham explains 'Why elections won't quell Iraq resistance' and says that "the violence will remain until we are gone." Plus: 'Easing the Mule Down From the Minaret.'

Voting With Their Feet. The Christian Science Monitor, examining 'The Pattern of Discontent in U.S. Ranks,' cites an analyst who says that "What is driving the resistance is the same thing that drove it during Vietnam -- a lack of trust in the civilian leadership and a sense that the uniformed leaders are not standing up for the forces."

The New York Times hears a slow train coming, "packed with people," says one expert, "who are going to need help for the next 35 years," as upwards of 100,000 troubled soldiers requiring mental health care return from Iraq.

'Canada Goes to Hell' Mark Morford writes that our neighbor to the north has "simply beat us senseless on the whole open-minded, progressive thing. Kicked our flag-wavin' butts."

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin says that Canada is "prepared to accept U.S. citizens who do not want to serve in the war in Iraq," and will not help to fund a missile shield or allow rockets to be stationed on Canadian soil.

Under the Same Sun finds an example of 'How propaganda works' cloaked in the "objective voice" in a Washington Post story about the latest failure to launch during a missile defense test. And the Los Angeles Times quotes a Pentagon spokesman as saying, "I definitely wouldn't categorize it as a setback of any kind."

In an August assertion that became part of the Republican Party platform, President Bush said that "Later this year, the first components of America's missile defense system will become operational."

War and Piece rounds up coverage of a defense technology transfer dispute that has the Pentagon's Douglas Feith reportedly demanding that an Israeli Defense official be dismissed over an offer to upgrade a sensitive weapons system for China.

According to the Washington Post, Rwanda and Congo are on the brink of war, "with Rwandan soldiers reportedly staging raids in eastern Congo and Congolese militias clashing separately with each other."

The New York Times reports that high-ranking ex-military lawyers, including former generals and admirals, are gearing up to oppose the nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft as attorney general, citing his torture memos. Plus: reading them their rights at Gitmo.

Rudy Giuliani has discovered "an aspect of Bernie's personality that needs to be changed. In this area -- being careful -- he is challenged. Really challenged." Bill Van Auken writes that when Giuliani supposedly turned to Kerik "as the first tower fell" and said, "Thank God George Bush is president," he left out the punch line: "Because we're going to get rich!"

Josh Marshall sees his 'was there ever a "nanny"?' inquiry go mainstream, and catches a report that Sen. Norm Coleman "says he needs more information before deciding if Rumsfeld should be held accountable for the lack of armor on military vehicles."

Last March, Coleman flipped on drugs from Canada during a mail facility tour with Giuliani and partner, who represented the manufacturer of Oxycontin. Plus: What Rudy got right about Kerik.

Ombudsman Jeffrey Dworkin -- and listeners -- complain that NPR's reports on Kerik sounded like White House press releases, after none of NPR's 12 initial reports on him mentioned any controversies.

Still unanswered, Norman Solomon's question in a column on Dworkin's hiring: "When the United States engages in warfare ... why does 'NPR' seem to stand for 'National Pentagon Radio'"?

The Sacramento Bee reports that, after "facing a barrage of calls from the media and the public," the County Coroner's Office issued a statement saying that reporter Gary Webb "committed suicide with two gunshots to the head."

The Los Angeles Times reports on a California plan to help the medically uninsured -- by passing a law requiring them to get insured -- and quotes Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger as saying that "it's unfair to so many people when you have people using the hospitals for emergency, and then creating a huge cost."

Kerry campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill, in a joint appearance at Harvard with Ken Mehlman, who ran the Bush campaign, said she underestimated the impact of the Swift Boat ads and regrets it. Plus: Kerry campaign joins Greens and Libertarians in adding "election tampering" to a civil suit filed against the state of Ohio.

Molly Ivins writes that "of all the problems that arise from having an administration that chooses not to believe in reality, the ones most likely to have irretrievably disastrous consequences are environmental."

Secret Justice "While there is an agreed-upon national right to scrutinize every last sperm on Monica Lewinsky's blue Gap dress," write's Slate's Dahlia Lithwick, "there is no corresponding right to know whether the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court is sick, very sick, or deathly sick."

'This Is Your Country on Drugs' The author of a book about Americans' embrace of "enhancement technologies," points out that athletes have plenty of company in the "pharmaceutical arms race."

December 15

Friday, December 17, 2004

'The Enemies Among Us' Calling the new Intelligence reform bill "a more stunning attack on the Bill of Rights than the Patriot Act," Mike Whitney writes that "the role of the media has been pivotal in obfuscating the details of the bill."

The Boston Globe attempts to dispel the 'Fog at Bush's Summit,' and a woman introduced as a "single mom" from Iowa who would benefit from Social Security privatization, turns out to be a conservative advocacy group plant. Plus: White House not up to "challenges."

Aside from giving "organizations promoting Social Security privatization the space to present upbeat tales from Chile," writes Paul Krugman, "the U.S. news media have provided their readers and viewers with little information about international experience. In particular, the public hasn't been let in on two open secrets..."

As groups line up to oppose privatization, Democrats neglect "phony crisis" line of attack.

Debunking 'Centrism' David Sirota writes that "multinationals like Philip Morris, Texaco, Enron and Merck" have all "slathered the DLC with cash ... to push a nakedly corporate agenda under the guise of 'centrism,'" while the mainstream media characterize "progressive positions on everything from trade to healthcare to taxes as ultra-liberal."

He left out Jesus, Napoleon and Elvis. A Financial Times story mentions that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, responding to mounting criticism, told WABC radio that "George Washington was constantly criticized, John Adams was constantly criticized, Abraham Lincoln was vilified and criticized."

'Torture begins at the top' Joe Conason reviews recently released documents that he says are "creating an untenable situation" for Rumsfeld, who announced that he will begin personally signing condolence letters.

National Guard falls 10,000 short as recruiting slips, and a U.S. soldier is charged with having himself shot so he wouldn't have to return to Iraq.

Methodist minister announces plan to raise opposition to Iraq war that includes hoped-for meeting with fellow Methodists in the White House.

Libya's Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi calls for the creation of "Isratine," and tells Italian television that some nuclear technology would be a nice gesture from the U.S. in return for his help in re-electing President Bush.

The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid visits the 'Rebuilders of Sadr City,' touted as "an example for battle-scarred cities like Fallujah," and finds that "the disenchantment is so deep in some places that it leaves a question most U.S. officials prefer not to address: Is the battle for hearts and minds already lost?"

On TomDispatch, Michael Schwartz argues that "dystopian" U.S. plans for Fallujah reveal "the desperation of American strategists" and reflect the fact that "the conquest of Fallujah, despite the destruction of the city, visibly did not accomplish its primary goal."

Awarding of Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tenet, Franks and Bremer, said to have "creepy feel of the old communist states, where incompetents wore medals and harsh facts were denied." Plus: Awards an attempt to buy silence?

Ken Bode calls on Bush to donate his lunch money, "so our reservists and Guards in Iraq won't have to ride around with homemade sandbags on the floor."

The AP reports that Saddam Hussein has recently been allowed to meet with an attorney for the first time since his capture a year ago, and that Saddam's legal team includes 20 lead lawyers and 1,500 volunteers.

Juan Cole writes that "from the moment that George W. Bush decided to overthrow Saddam and hold democratic elections, he ensured that Shiites would dominate Baghdad."

Pied-a-Terror The Washington Post reveals the existence of a secret CIA detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, where detainees are held under "separate rules and far greater secrecy ... and without revealing the rules for their treatment."

UN says bugging device was found in meeting room at European headquarters in Geneva used for post-Iraq invasion talks.

According to Ray McGovern, the fact that China and Russia will conduct joint war games next year may mean that 'Laughing Dragon, Dancing Bear' are no longer "more interested in developing good relations with the United States than with each other."

Feliz Abu Ghraib Reuters reports that Cuba has put up two huge billboards in front of the U.S. mission that include pictures of abused Iraqi prisoners, "apparently placed in retaliation for a U.S. Christmas display which includes the number 75, in reference to 75 pro-democracy activists imprisoned 20 months ago for long terms."

LA Weekly's Marc Cooper excoriates the Los Angeles Times for its "scandalous, self-serving and ultimately shameful obituary" on the death of journalist Gary Webb. Plus: 'Webb was the Real Deal.'

As New York City launches a probe into ethical breaches committed by Bernard Kerik, Atrios connects the dots between Kerik, Anthony Bergamo -- who arranged for Kerik to have the use of an apartment near the World Trade Center -- and an accidental death ruling handed down while Kerik was police commissioner, after Bergamo ran over a homeless woman in "a mammoth sport utility vehicle."

December 16

Monday, December 20, 2004

Newsweek uncovers a late September 2001 memo to White House counsel Alberto Gonzales' office from Justice Department lawyer John Yoo, that "seems to lay a legal groundwork for the president to invade Iraq -- without approval of Congress -- long before the White House had publicly expressed any intent to do so."

As GOP senators rallied to the defense of Donald Rumsfeld on "Meet the Press," Weekly Standard editor William Kristol denied telling "everyone within earshot" that he was acting on a White House suggestion when he wrote an op-ed critical of Rumsfeld.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that, with pressure building on Rumsfeld, "in the long run, it is a lack of faith within the military establishment -- from ordinary troops to US commanders -- that could prove the most serious threat to Rumsfeld's tenure. Plus: Soldier says no aid from embed on 'armor' question to Rumsfeld.

President Bush's chief of staff said that Rumsfeld "is doing a spectacular job" and predicted that Iraqi elections will be "a wonderful success story."

Going Negative Knight Ridder reports that the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and State Department warned Bush that "U.S. forces hadn't been able to stop the insurgents' intimidation of Iraqi voters, candidates and others who want to participate in the elections."

The Washington Post reports that twin car bombings in Najaf and Karbala killed at least 64, and gunmen dragged election workers out of their car to execute them in the middle of Baghdad's "notoriously lawless Haifa Street."

Although U.S. military officials said in late November that residents of Fallujah could begin returning "possibly as soon as mid-December," AFP now reports that 'U.S. marines do not recommend return of residents to Fallujah.'

A Marine psychologist says that "After the [Fallujah] offensive began, we had a lot of patients, then there was this lull, and it has picked up again recently with people trying to sit on their symptoms."

'Soldiers who led Iraq invasion must return' As U.S. Iraq vets tape Arabic cheat sheets to their rifle stocks before redeployment, USA Today quotes one as saying that "the first Gulf War was in and out. I thought this would be pretty much the same."

Strike Down the Band Marines from Camp Lejeune forego holiday concerts to prepare for deployment to Iraq, as military 'sees sharp fall in black recruits.'

"Pushing our borders out." The Denver Post finds the U.S. Coast Guard at work on Homeland Security patrol -- sinking boats off the coast of Ecuador.

Closer than they appear... Distancing himself from Bernard Kerik, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani tells Newsweek that Kerik's role in Giuliani Partners is "very limited," and that although Kerik's title in the firm is senior vice president, "that's not the way we primarily relate to him."

One lesson to be learned from the Kerik affair, writes William O'Rourke, is that "Now we know why President Bush wants all his appointments to come out of the White House, or to be relocations from one agency to another."

The head of the GAO predicts that over the next 75 years, "the Medicare problem is about seven times greater than the Social Security problem" being trumpeted by President Bush, while federal auditors fan out across the nation to battle spending on Medicaid.

The Washington Post reports on big donors to the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and at a news conference about planned protests, an A.N.S.W.E.R. representative said it was nearly impossible for the general public to obtain tickets to the parade. A Southern alternative is warmer, free and open to the public.

Article posted on Florida League of Conservation Voters Web sites provides documentation in support of alleged vote machine fraud patterns in New Mexico, Ohio and Florida.

'Not Every Vote Counts' included among Geov Parrish's list of the most overhyped and underreported stories of 2004.

Reported hiring of Tucker Carlson by MSNBC leads James Wolcott to suggest that "If liberal opinions and interests are going to be blacked out from cable news, maybe liberal guests and viewers should boycott and let conservatives monopolize the conversation amongst themselves..." Plus: Wolcott on the 'Christmas Kvetchers.'

December 17-19

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

An embedded reporter from the Richmond Times-Dispatch describes the aftermath of a mortar attack on a dining tent at a U.S. military base in Mosul that killed more than 20 people. The Al-Qaeda linked Army of Ansar al-Sunna claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place shortly after a surprise visit to Baghdad by British PM Tony Blair, who "wore no flak jacket."

'Topsy Turvy World Gone Mad' Bill Berkowitz offers an "end of the year inventory of the 'Person of the Year's' Iraq War," and in an NPR report, a U.S. Marines colonel describes the security measures that will be imposed on returning Fallujahns. Plus: Fallujah as the "great challenge" to the occupation of Iraq.

After Left I flags an AFP story reporting that U.S. troops in Fallujah "had orders to shoot all males of fighting age seen on the streets, armed or unarmed," a reader comments on "the fact that fighting-age males were prohibited from evacuating the city in the first place."

AKA torture. The Los Angeles Times reports that documents made public by the ACLU, including FBI e-mail, say that Pentagon interrogators impersonated FBI agents at Guantanamo Bay, that detainees were wrapped in Israeli flags to humiliate them and that an executive order from President Bush authorized the use of "inhumane interrogation methods." Plus: 'Burying the lede, circling the wagons.'

Knight Ridder reports that according to two government officials, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld approved the methods.

In 'Why Rummy should not go,' Ehsan Ahrari argues that "hounding him out of office is likely to create a bitter debate -- if Iraq indeed ends up as a failure of America's foreign policy -- that such a reality emerged largely because Rummy was not allowed to remain in office and finish his job."

At a Monday press conference, Bush "repeatedly told reporters that their questions would be better directed at someone else," refused to 'negotiate with himself' on social security, said Rumsfeld is "a caring fellow" doing a "fine job," and added that Bernard Kerik would have done a "fine job" as head of Homeland Security.

The president also presented "a far more sober picture of the situation in Iraq than he did during his reelection campaign," and acknowledged that the insurgency has "eroded morale" among Iraqis and Americans.

Down From the Mountain. Carpetbagger highlights the sharp contrast between Bush's "summitized" portrait last week of a "growing" economy and the significantly lower expectations reported only three days later in the Wall Street Journal.

King of Zembla pops the big question as a new ABC News/Washington Post poll lets the air out of President Bush's second term honeymoon hopes. And a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll finds that "Bush is the first incumbent president to have an approval rating below 50 percent one month after winning re-election."

Jim Lobe writes that the 'Neocon Christmas List' includes "Target: Iran," "Target: Syria" and "Target: Everyone Else," while Tom Engelhardt looks at G.I. Joe's long, long 'War On the Floor.'

According to the New York Times, a near-disaster happened at an Oak Ridge weapons plant when a "shadow force" of Wackenhut security guards, armed to the teeth and dressed as commandos, stalked another group of unarmed guards conducting a drill. Later, as guards were practicing loading and unloading with blank ammo, someone shot a live round through a wall and a refrigerator.

Roe v. Strauss? Los Angeles Times media critic David Shaw's "worst journalism of 2004" list includes his own paper's review of Richard Strauss' "Die Frau Ohne Schatten," in which an opera first described as "pro-life" became "anti-abortion" in a subsequent version, followed by two corrections.

In his final episode as the host of "Now," Bill Moyers goes out telling what he has called "the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee." Plus: New York Times provides "platform for the radical right to slam Moyers."

Editor & Publisher reports on a Gallup poll finding that "Local television news ranks at the top of the list of daily news sources, with 51% of Americans saying they use this source every day." The only news source that showed gains since 2002 was the Internet, which increased from 15% to 20%. Plus: Washington Post Co. to buy Slate from Microsoft.

The Tennessean uncovers a 'campaign of deception' to promote the "The Bumper of My SUV," by country singer Chely Wright, that involved members of her fan club contacting radio stations and posing as a GI or a family member and requesting airplay for the song. Earlier: Sight of Hummer adorned with "support-our-troops" ribbons leads to ideas on 'How we really could support troops.'

December 20

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The Washington Post reports that documents released Tuesday by the ACLU, "undermine the Pentagon's past insistence that the abuse occurred largely during a few months at [Abu Ghraib] prison, and that it mostly involved detainee humiliation or intimidation rather than the deliberate infliction of pain."

Following 9/11, "proposals to authorize torture were circulating even before there was anyone to torture," writes William Pfaff, adding that "destroying cities and torturing prisoners are things you do when you are losing the real war."

The Burlington Free Press reports that a U.S. marine, stationed until recently at Guantanamo, was charged with assault in Vermont after allegedly beating his parents.

AP reports that the deadly rocket attack on a military dining tent near Mosul took place only days before a hardened bunker was to replace the tent, and a defense analyst tells the Washington Post that "he is especially worried that the insurgents' next move will be an actual penetration by fighters into a base."

In a WSWS analysis of the Mosul attack, Rick Kelly writes that "the northern city was previously presented as a model success story, with far fewer guerrilla attacks than in Baghdad and other cities." Plus: Death toll of Iraqi policemen said to have hit 1000, as Al-Jazeera responds to claim by Iraqi interior minister that it funds terrorist groups in Iraq.

Biggest U.S. contractor to pull out of Iraq walks away from a $325 million deal to rebuild the country's transportation system.

A New York Times article based on interviews following the Mosul attack and headlined, "Fighting On Is the Only Option, Americans Say," cites a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll that didn't ask if the U.S. should withdraw its military forces from Iraq, while ignoring a Washington Post/ABC News poll in which 39% said the U.S. should withdraw.

The Independent reports that a group of MPs back from Iraq is "convinced British troops may have to be deployed there for at least another 10 years," quoting one as saying, "The Iraqis just cannot cope with the security situation and won't be able to for years."

'Back by Unpopular Demand' Taking the pulse of recent polls, Eric Boehlert observes that President Bush may be "sworn in to office with the lowest job-approval rating -- barely 50 percent -- of any president in the last 80 years, or since modern-day presidential polling began." Plus: 'The President's Grand Elusion.'

'How Bush Really Won,' "As the security helicopters circled overhead, and the crowd launched into yet one more chant of 'Kerry is scary!'" writes Mark Danner, "I was struck again by how precisely the campaign had managed to define Bush's strengths in perfect contradistinction to what they had defined as Kerry's weaknesses, and then to devote all its resources to emphasizing both."

Rep. John Conyers calls on TV networks and the AP to release raw exit poll data from the 2004 presidential election, and in 'The Case of the Ohio Recount,' Rick Perlstein argues that the election reform movement is "so uncoordinated, strategically unsound, and prone to going off half-cocked that it may end up hurting the crucial cause it seeks to help."

Washington State Democrats have claimed an eight-vote victory for Christine Gregoire after a hand recount in the governor's race.

In response to a New York Times article on the "massive lobbying campaign" that financial firms are planning for President Bush's Social Security reforms, Carpetbagger says to 'Get ready for "Harry and Louise" -- The Sequel.'

Interviewed on "Democracy Now!", Paul Krugman said that reporting on Social Security has "bought into the White House spin, and people who offer a different point of view are simply not considered." Plus: Thirteen Democrats who are "most likely to go wobbly" on a Social Security vote.

Let Them Eat Tax Cuts The New York Times reports that the White House, reneging on promises, has cut its contributions to global food aid programs, affecting 5 to 7 million people according to a food aid expert.

The Economist examines personality cults in North Korea, Turkmenistan and Togo, asking: "Why do they survive, how long will they last, and why do those who build them always have such vile personalities?" Read an excerpt from "Kim Jong-Il : North Korea's Dear Leader."

Ms. notes that the only women among Time's 17 entries for "People Who Mattered" in 2004 were Nancy Reagan, Martha Stewart and the cast of "Desperate Housewives." Plus: Time responds to "Person of the Year" complaints and CNN makes Time for synergy.

"Bush Monkeys" portrait that led to closing of art exhibit in New York gets billboard treatment, to be auctioned on eBay with part of proceeds going to fund body armor for troops in Iraq.

XMas Marks the Spot. Baghdad Burning's Riverbend has some suggestions for Santa Claus, should he care to visit Iraq: "please make sure he is wearing a bullet-proof vest and helmet. He should also politely ring the doorbell or knock, as a more subtle entry might bring him face to face with an AK-47."

December 21

Thursday, December 23, 2004

The Washington Post reports 'Amended Holiday Wishes' for wounded U.S. troops struggling to "recuperate from the horrific damage caused by land mines, rocket-propelled grenades, mortar fire and suicide bombers."

Editor & Publisher takes note of USA Today founder Al Neuharth's call to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq, "Sooner rather than later. That should be our New Year's resolution." Plus: 'Call for pullout draws massive response.'

Knight Ridder reports on a poll showing that "Nearly three-quarters of Iraqis say they 'strongly intend' to vote in next month's pivotal elections, and a small majority believe the country is headed in the right direction." The poll, conducted by the International Republican Institute, did not include the cities of Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul.

According to the New York Times, a decision by international "observers" to watch Iraq's election "from the safety of Amman, Jordan ... probably means the only monitors will be Iraqis."

'Quiet, Or I'll Call Democracy' Iraqi-born novelist Haifa Zangana writes that whereas "Iraqi women were long the most liberated in the Middle East," nowadays "the death of about 100,000 Iraqi civilians, half of them women and children, is met with rhetoric about training for democracy."

Another National Guard unit comes forward to complain of poor training and inadequate gear, with one sergeant quoted as writing in a "gun maintenance" report that "Perhaps we should throw stones?" Earlier: "U.S. forces armed with what? Spitballs?"

As evidence mounts that the Mosul attack was carried out by a suicide bomber, the New York Times quotes a retired four-star general, who said, "I've been expecting it. We don't wash our dishes, cook our own food. When you bring indigenous laborers into camps, you immediately have a security problem."

At a Pentagon briefing, Gen. Richard Myers blamed the devastating Mosul attack on "the same insurgents who attacked on 9/11," and Salon reports on the battle that conservatives are waging against the Associated Press "insurgency."

'Iraq? Whatever' Spiked's Brendan O'Neill contrasts the impact of the Mogadishu 18 with the "general shrug of the shoulders" that greeted the deaths of the Mosul 18, highlighting the fact that "the anti-war movement has all but fizzled out."

The WSWS charges the New York Times with 'manufacturing support' for the Iraq war in the aftermath of the Mosul bombing, with an article "presented as an objective characterization of the nation's mood. Plus: U.S. signals a "public warning of impending slaughter in Mosul."

Intimidation by insurgents is said to have produced "a virtual intelligence meltdown in Samarra," where troops who say they "have to jump on every little piece of intel we get" are now operating "without a single interpreter."

The Dallas Morning News reports that Iraq's unsecured ammo dumps are providing explosives for the insurgency, despite the fact that Gen. John Abizaid has told Congress that "the first line of defense" against Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq is to "deny bomb-makers access to explosive materials."

Although Time may have named George W. Bush its choice for "Person Of the Year," in Time's Canadian edition the "Newsmaker of the Year" is torture victim Maher Arar.

Newsweek surveys 'Torture's Path,' following the paper trail that leads to the desk of George W. Bush's lawyer, Alberto Gonzales.

'War Crimes' A Washington Post editorial reviews the administration's attempts to whitewash torture and says that recently published documents "establish beyond any doubt that every part of this cover story is false." Plus: "Since when did the ACLU become a media organization?"

A suggestion for resolving the issue of whether Bush gave an Executive Order authorizing torture, as alleged in an FBI e-mail: 'Follow the bytes!'

Donald Duck? A UPI commentary by Martin Sieff says that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is "already a political dead duck" who has "reached that remorseless point in the decline and fall of public figures where he has become his own worst enemy."

As Bernard Kerik elects to "take some time off to focus on my family... and to clear my good name," the firm of Giuliani-Kerik LLC gets a new name. Plus: "It has come to my attention ..."

Paul Krassner produces a highly improbable interview with the nanny whose "very existence" has been questioned by skeptics following the Bernard Kerik scandal-du-jour saga.

In response to a Los Angeles Times story, 'Democratic Leadership Rethinking Abortion,' Doug Ireland asks, "Is there no limit to the poll-driven cowardice of the Democratic Party's elite?"

Hullabaloo spotlights a "Christian Exodus" plan to " redeem States one at a time," beginning with "the move of thousands of Christians to South Carolina for the express purpose of re-establishing Godly, constitutional government." Plus: 'Will Pat Robertson force us to tax Jesus?'

An article on new rules that are said to allow "increased logging and oil and gas development" on public lands, notes that timber execs were among Bush's "elite fundraisers." Plus: "This is not news ..."

In an examination of how 'GOP Corporate Donors Cash In on Smut,' the Washington Post's Terry Neal writes that "the Rupert Murdochs of the world could not exist without the Utah Counties of the world. His political party needs their voters. His businesses need their patronage."

Red With Rage! Listen to an award-winning talk by Thomas Frank on the conservative movement's marshalling of cultural anger to achieve economic ends.

The New York Observer's Joe Hagan predicts that "The sheer success of the Drudge-Fox nexus will reach a tipping point in 2005, one in which straight news... will start to look novel again, even necessary."

December 22

Monday, December 27, 2004

As the death toll from a rare tsunami surpasses 22,000, a Washington Post staffer in Sri Lanka provides a first-person account of what 'Seemed Like A Scene From the Bible.'

Noting that media coverage and politicians are treating the events as "a terrible, but unavoidable tragedy," the WSWS argues that "thousands of lives could have been saved if immediate action had been taken to alert the most vulnerable areas." Plus: 'Tsunami a Foretaste of Global Warming' and 'Enough Is Enough.'

At least 10 current and former Guantanamo detainees have lodged allegations of abuse similar to incidents described by FBI agents in recently released documents, according to their attorneys, with one telling the Washington Post that "When we first got involved in this case, I wondered whether this could all be true ... now there's no question these guys have been tortured."

Eric Umansky extracts the payout from a New York Times article on efforts to dismantle the A. Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network, parts of which "live on," even as "cooperation between the United Nations atomic agency and the United States has trickled to a near halt."

In 'The Butcher's Bill,' the Atlantic Monthly's Jack Beatty cites a Scripps Howard article noting than one-third of the 1,256 GIs killed in Iraq as of November were parents, leading military experts to conclude that "the proportionally higher number of American children left bereaved by the Iraq war is unprecedented." Plus: 'Pondering the slaughter of innocents.'

Food Fight. The New York Times reports that U.S. and Iraqi troops are "one edge" in Mosul after last week's deadly attack by "a suicide bomber believed to have been wearing an Iraqi Army uniform." U.S. troops complain that the Iraqis are stealing food, while Iraqi soldiers object to being fed rations containing pork and meat "not slaughtered according to Islamic practices."

The Shiite head of Iraq's largest political party was unharmed in a bomb blast that killed 15, as the country's largest Sunni Muslim party announces that it's pulling out of elections. Plus: Purported bin Laden tape calls for boycott of Iraqi elections.

One For the Books! According to a study by a U.S. Army major that the Washington Post describes as "an official historian" of the Iraq campaign, "There was no adequate operational plan for stability operations and support operations" following the initial major combat phase, and war planners suffered from "stunted learning and a reluctance to adapt."

IPS reports that the U.S. is "helping" Iraq's interim government make major economic changes which will result in U.S. firms getting "the lion's share of access" to Iraq's oil reserves.

A French journalist held hostage in Iraq writes that his captors wanted President Bush to win re-election, quoting one as saying, "We want Bush because with him the American troops will stay in Iraq and that way we will be able to develop." Earlier: 'World Feels Bullied by Washington.'

David Sirota analyzes President Bush's Christmas Day radio address, and finds its rhetoric disconnected from the reality of recent policy initiatives.

Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu was placed under house arrest for five days after being detained trying to get into Bethlehem for Christmas. The Jerusalem Post's account describes Vanunu as "a hero to international anti-nuclear and far-left activists alike."

Israel releases 159 Palestinian prisoners and arrests Palestinian presidential candidate. Plus: 'Elections Without Democracy.'

Ukrainian prime minister refuses to concede election, vows to challenge results before country's Supreme Court.

In a review of the year in media, CJR Campaign Desk's Steve Lovelady says the most important media story of the year was "the way in which the press was so easily manipulated by spin machines all the way through the election campaign ..." Plus: '2004's top changes to the American lexicon.'

A Montana state legislator who refused to formally apologize for calling developmentally disabled students "vegetables," said, "This thing where people have to grovel around and apologize for everything they say irritates me."

Walter Kirn theorizes that "The seduction of America's elites by the vices of humanism and skepticism can only be blamed on the New Yorker cartoon, an agent of corruption more insidious than LSD or the electric guitar."

Slate's Chris Suellentrop defends new Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid against charges that's he's boring, including one by a Washington wag who wrote that Reid "lacks Daschle's flair."

A Los Angeles Times article on the growing popularity of GPS tracking, quotes a retailer who estimates that "60% of my sales are to women who say, 'I think my husband is cheating on me,'" and "The rest are men who want to track employees." Earlier: Ret. Gen. Tommy Franks signs on to help track teens.

December 23-26

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

As the tsunami death toll reportedly tops 68,000, and the U.S. offers up an additional $20 million in aid, the U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator backs off statements he made on Monday, when he said of rich nations, "It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really."

As of last week, FEMA had approved payments of $3.17 billion to victims of hurricanes that hit Florida this year. Earlier: 'How FEMA delivered Florida for Bush.'

The Village Voice recalls that for Indonesia, 'Before there was tsunami, there was Wolfowitz.'

As 'Problems mount for Iraqi vote,' Osama bin Laden calls for a boycott of Iraq's elections, saying that "anyone who takes part in this election consciously and willingly is an infidel," and UPI's Arnaud de Borchgrave writes that it looks like al-Qaeda has a new M.O.

AFP reports that "at least 42 people were killed in a string of attacks on Iraqi security forces and other targets today after Osama bin Laden declared fugitive Jordanian Islamist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi his 'emir' in the country."

Juan Cole speculates that bin Laden's intervention in Iraq's election process "was hamfisted and clumsy, and will benefit the United States and the Shiites enormously." Plus: 'Who will rid me of this meddlesome illegitimacy crisis?'

Knight Ridder reports on the "fierce dispute" among Iraqi Shiite leaders over walayat al faqih -- meaning, in effect, "absolute rule by clerics."

In 'Disappearing Act: Fallujah and the Media,' Mike Whitney asks, "How do we explain the sudden and complete desertion of the media from the largest operation since the fall of Baghdad? Did Rumsfeld simply tell them to pack their cameras and go home?"

A comparative analysis by Slate demonstrates that in Iraq, "Today's grunts are patrolling a battlefield every bit as deadly as the crucible their fathers faced in Southeast Asia."

A Los Angeles Times op-ed contains excerpts from a recent speech by Eric Shinseki, 'The General Who Got It Right on Iraq,' and USA Today profiles Clark Kent Ervin, the Shinseki of Homeland Security, who "lost his job this month in mysterious fashion," in what a senate committee spokeswoman calls "purely a White House decision."

'The Cabinet of Incuriosities' Ron Suskind describes Bush's "populist" style of anti-meritocratic leadership, as seen in his Cabinet appointments, based on "the idea that anyone, properly encouraged and supported, can do a thoroughly adequate job, even better than adequate, in almost any endeavor."

'Open Secret' The Washington Post reports on the Gulfstream V turbojet used to carry U.S. detainees out of the country in luxury to be tortured elsewhere. Plus: 'Write torture memos, win a lifetime spot on the federal bench.'

Alongside estimates of 'U.S., Britain holding 10,000 prisoners in Iraq,' the Boston Globe reports that the CIA has decided to invoke the "Glomar response" to requests for info about its role in the torture of detainees in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. Plus: Helen Thomas writes that 'The buck never stops at the top.'

Noting the frequency with which President Bush and the White House have "compared their build-up to the Iraq war with their push to phase out Social Security," Josh Marshall suggests "creating a detailed taxonomy of the Bush White House approach to major policy initiatives in order to predict their efforts over the next two years."

In a story on presidential reluctance to grant clemency petitions, the Washington Post cites a former federal pardon attorney as saying that Bush approaches the use of his pardon power "with no theory other than to stay safe."

The executive director of the AIDS community's biggest Washington lobby "has jumped into bed with the Bush-Rove Republicans," writes Doug Ireland, by lending her name to an inauguration celebration benefitng a "pharmaceutical industry front group" that "crusades against giving cheap, generic AIDS-fighting meds to the world's poorest victims of the AIDS pandemic."

Rahul Mahajan argues that "the left must come to terms with American public opinion" and stop confusing "the descriptive with the normative" in opinion poll results. Mahajan cites a recent Cornell poll showing 44 percent of Americans in favor of curtailing liberties for Muslim Americans.

Noting that the costliest elections in U.S. history "failed to buy the votes of 79 million Americans" who sat out the election, Critical Montages calculates that "it took a whopping 30% rise in campaign costs to achieve practically the same turnout rates as 2000." Plus: Bush administration unseated by 'American voter!'

'Greens and Greenbacks' Writing in CounterPunch, Michael Donnelly examines the rise of "nonprofit careerism" to explain how "the third largest party in the nation came in sixth in the election," and then found "a whole new fundraising mechanism -- the Ohio recount."

As the Kerry-Edwards campaign's state counsel for Ohio files a motion to preserve evidence related to Ohio's recount, Keith Olberman parses statements by the lead Kerry campaign attorney, one of which led to speculation that Kerry will unconcede.

'No Holiday for Vote Thieves' Rep. John Conyers "is acting as 'our' Special Prosecutor," says Black Commentator, "methodically laying the factual groundwork for future legal and political action while at the same time giving the 'troops' a central focus around which to orbit."

The Nation's John Nichols writes that Democrat Christine Gregoire prevailed in Washington's governor's race because, first, she got more votes, and "second, she demanded that they be counted." Plus: 'Settled in Seattle.'

December 27

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

As 'Iraq Edges Toward Civil War,' the former CIA chief in Afghanistan tells UPI that "We are starting to play the ethnic card in Iraq, just as the Soviets played it in Afghanistan ... You only play it when you're losing and by playing it, you simply speed up the process of losing."

Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad turned a house into a bomb and blew it up after luring police inside, killing at least 29, while in Tikrit gunmen blew up the police station after slitting the throats of 13 policemen. And Robert Fisk, who calculates that in in the past year at least 190 suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq, asks: "What have we done to create this extraordinary industry?"

Mandate! Fifty-one percent of Americans now say the U.S. made a mistake by going to war against Iraq, according to a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Been There, Spun That American Leftist detects an image rehab pattern in two surprise visits to Iraq by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

CJR Daily examines a Washington Times article that describes the new "Pentagon Channel" as having been created to cut out "the middleman." Earlier: Rory O'Connor on 'Militainment Gone Amok.'

Eric Umansky supplies what wasn't mentioned in a Washington Post story about the Navy's decision to re-up military contractor CACI to the tune of $85 million.

With the tsunami death toll continuing to rise, the Post airs "complaints that the vacationing President Bush has been insensitive to a humanitarian catastrophe of epic proportions," and cites Bush aides as objecting that former President Clinton has been "too quick to head for the cameras ... with his trademark empathy." Plus: Bush speaks, announces coalition.

Blog poster wants to know how much money the corporations that use tsunami-devastated countries for their cheap labor are donating to the relief effort, and AP weighs the impact of the tsunami on "two of the world's longest-running civil wars."

Gadflyer's Joshua Holland accuses the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal of capitalizing on the tsunami tragedy by using it to score points against the UN and "environmental zealotry." And James Ridgeway on 'A Tsunami of Greed.'

TVNewser reports getting e-mails objecting that Fox News Channel "spent time talking about a supermodel whose hip was hurt in the cataclysm, 'giving them a chance to run ... bathing suit tape, instead of that annoying video that shows the heart-wrenching reality.'" Plus: 'CNN's earthquake coverage rises above the rest.'

Global Hunger The New York Times reports on how small Central American farmers are getting crushed by supermarket multinationals like Ahold, Wal-Mart and Carrefour, which one agricultural economist likens to trojan horses for foreign goods. Earlier: 'Life and Debt.'

After a Boston Globe analysis says that "the run-up to President Bush's plan to deal with Social Security is looking a lot like the run-up to his plan to deal with Saddam Hussein," Carpetbagger sees a genuine meme emerging. Plus: Bush said to be "sort of punting" on tax code overhaul.

A San Diego retiree calculates that the trust fund for Social Security beat the Dow Jones Industrial Average, $261,372 to $255,499, over a 45-year period.

Gene Lyons writes that when "Bush and the think-tank spokesmen ... say Social Security's going broke" they actually mean that "the trust fund has been looted fair and square."

In a year-end roundup for The New Yorker, Dan Greenburg surveys 'Expected Legislation From the President,' including "a twenty-foot-high concrete security wall, topped by electrified razor wire ... between blue states and red" as part of the Healing a Divided America Act.

According to Reason's Jeff Taylor, a section of the Patriot Act is putting some Americans on a list used to prevent them from banking while Muslim, and an AlterNet story says that the Brand X case, headed for the Supreme Court, "could ... help government spies wiretap your online communication."

A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled that a female bartender who was fired for refusing to wear makeup at a Harrah's casino in Reno, after a "Beverage Department Image Transformation Initiative" was instituted, was not unfairly dismissed from her job. The Lambda Legal Defense Fund, which backed her suit, responds.

A report that the chair of the House ethics committee may be replaced by a Tom DeLay backer, prompts Off the Kuff to opine that "This is like appointing Bonnie to be Clyde's jailer."

A New York Times story on the "pot of gold at the end of the Washington rainbow" mentions that Rep. Billy Tauzin, the self-styled "Cajun ambassador to Congress," is about to "become, in effect, the drug industry's ambassador." Plus: 'Want a Ticket to the Inauguration? Call a Democrat.'

Doug Ireland remembers Susan Sontag, who died on Tuesday. The Times links to writing by and about her, including her essay on Abu Ghraib. In a 2001 interview with Salon, Sontag responded to criticism of a post-9/11 essay in which she wrote that "Whatever may be said of the perpetrators of Tuesday's slaughter, they were not cowards."

December 28

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Happy New Year!!! Next update January 3.

A U.N. official estimates that 80,000 tsunami victims may be dead in Aceh province alone, and the Los Angeles Times reports that "little food or medical assistance appeared to be reaching camps where thousands of survivors have taken refuge." Plus: Disaster updates and donation options.

The Star Tribune assails 'stingy U.S.' in an editorial calling the Bush administration's handling of the tsunami crisis "inept beyond belief," and saying that President Bush should have immediately pledged $1 billion in relief aid. A New York Times editorial calls $35 million "a miserly drop in the bucket," and MediaCitizen calculates that it would cover 3.5 hours in Iraq.

Spain has pledged $68 million in aid and Canada $40 million, not counting $8 million from the province of British Columbia, whose premier says it's important to "show leadership." Update: U.S. pledges $350 million.

Bill Berkowitz surveys the web sites of "powerful and well-funded political Christian fundamentalist organizations" and finds a post-tsunami compassion deficit. And Raw Story discovers a Westboro Baptist Church news release headlined, 'Thank God for Tsunami and 2,000 dead Swedes!!!'

The WSWS characterizes the Bush response as 'indifference compounded by political incompetence,' and Sen. Olympia Snowe's office says Congress will investigate NOAA's failure to warn some nations, after the director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, "We don't have contacts in our address book for anybody in that part of the world." Plus: 'band plays on for the tourist horde.'

The New York Times reports that President Bush appeared to be debating Osama bin Laden during a press conference in Crawford, after bin Laden "clearly hit a nerve with his latest message" urging Iraqis to boycott January elections.

The Christian Science Monitor sees 'a clear-cut bin Laden-Zarqawi alliance' in Iraq, where a new wave of insurgent attacks coincided with release of the latest bin Laden message.

Two weeks after bin Laden "called on his followers to focus attacks on his homeland," AP reports that militants set off car bombs and battled police in a "bold assault" on "the Interior Ministry in central Riyadh."

And don't drink the water. According to the Los Angeles Times, refugees returning to Fallujah are being handed leaflets "warning against a myriad of dangers and advising them that the U.S. military could not guarantee their safety."

The New York Times reports that although "federal law prohibits retired military people from signing over their future pension payments to others," that hasn't stopped "financial companies using military-sounding names" from advertising "pension advances" in Army Times.

An Editor & Publisher article about a column by USA Today founder Al Neuharth, calling for the withdrawl of U.S. troops from Iraq "sooner rather than later," "drew more letters than virtually any story we have ever posted," writes Greg Mitchell. "We presented a few excerpts from those letters ... but we did not quote from some of the nastiest -- and, believe me, there were plenty ..."

The New York Times ignored polls that show four out of ten respondents favor withdrawal from Iraq, in an article based on interviews with ten people and headlined 'Fighting On Is the Only Option, Americans Say.' Earlier: 'Times manufactures support.'

King of Zembla notes a hefty increase since 2003 in the number of calls to G.I. Rights Hotline from soldiers wanting out of the military.

Intrigued by "the extent to which the U.S. military, which abandoned the Geneva Conventions against prisoner torture and the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996, is being a stickler at enforcing its rules against sexual affairs," Paul Craig Roberts says 'Forget Torture; It's the Sex That Matters.'

The Memory Hole reports on an Air Force lab proposal to spend $7.5 million developing "annoying" chemical weapons, for example, "strong aphrodisiacs, especially if the chemical also caused homosexual behavior."

Muslim civil liberties group calls on Homeland Security to investigate an incident at the U.S. border near Niagara Falls, during which American Muslims who had attended a conference in Toronto were reportedly detained for six hours, told "you have no rights" and held until they agreed to be fingerprinted.

An International Herald Tribune article headlined 'In Europe, Islam fills Marxism's old shoes,' says that France has 50,000 Muslim converts and quotes one observer as saying that "when the left collapsed, the Islamists stepped in."

A Miami Herald op-ed writer says that 'Bush's Washington is a Potemkin Village,' citing a recent Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony, the antimissile defense system and the White House economic summit as evidence. Plus: Frank Rich on 'Washington's New Year War Cry: Party On!'

Sidney Blumenthal writes that Bush has now "purged the last of his father's senior advisers," ridding himself of "Republican elders who warned of endless war" and rewarding those who advised him that Iraq would be a "cakewalk."

The Main Event "This is the type of story -- a gradual erosion instead of a single, headline-grabbing event -- that most in the press tend to overlook", writes CJR Daily's Susan Stranahan. "Yet in the coverage of government, it may be the most significant event of all."

Bad Attitudes says it's bad news for 'Brand America' after a Jim Lobe article based on a Global Market Insite survey reports that "German restaurants are beginning to refuse American Express cards" as U.S. corporations feel the effects of world public reaction to Bush's foreign policy.

'Ready, aim, slaughter' The Seattle Post-Intelligencer says that, thanks to Congress and Bush, American wild horses are probably heading for "French dining tables." Plus: 'No more home on the range.'

The Washington Post details how the 'GOP Got More Bang For Its Billion,' especially from the Swift Boat ads and direct mail voter targeting, while the Kerry campaign, though barely outspent, was "outorganized and outthought." The article notes that the campagn to re-elect Bush began "almost immediately" after he took office in 2001.

The AARP announces a $5 million ad campaign that includes likening Social Security privatization to gambling on slots, BuzzFlash posts audio and text for a series of issue ads that Clear Channel refused to run, and the Freeway Blogger offers pointers on how to have 'Fun with Hate Radio.'

Il Wind The Independent reports that Kim Jong Il is said to have purged some of his closest relatives, as "A trickle of reports coming out of North Korea paint a picture of a regime in its dying days, with leading members of the ruling family at each other's throats."

December 29

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