Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Elsewhere in the Times

Tuesday morning's New York Times has some other stories worth checking out.  From the front page, I'd recommend Diana B. Henriques' "Seeking Quick Loans, Soldiers Race Into High-Interest Traps" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/business/07military.html):
From Puget Sound in the Northwest to the Virginia coast, the landscape is the same: the main gate of a large military base opens onto a highway lined with shops eager to make small, fast and remarkably expensive loans, no questions asked.
[. . .]
Getting the loan was fast and convenient, too. To borrow $500, they wrote a $575 check to the lender, to be cashed on their next payday, less than two weeks away. But in accepting that instant loan, the couple, who would talk about their experience only if their identities were not disclosed, were also agreeing to pay a staggering annual interest rate of more than 390 percent. By contrast, a loan from a credit union would have taken several days or longer but cost no more than 18 percent.

Repaying their fast-money loan took a big bite out of the couple's next paycheck, leaving them short when other bills fell due. So they borrowed again, and again, until they had raised about $4,000 through more instant loans, some of them with official-sounding names like Military Financial Network.

The cost of this new money also mounted, ranging as high as 650 percent when expressed as an annual percentage rate, as the law requires. And as the couple continued to fall behind, they borrowed even more, from other kinds of expensive lenders.

By October, just days before the petty officer had to ship out for duty in the Persian Gulf, the debts had grown so large that the couple and their young children were about to lose their home to foreclosure.

Douglas Jehl's "2 C.I.A. Reports Offer Warnings on Iraq's Path" is a worthy front page topic and one that you will, no doubt, here mentioned all day, so I'll just provide this link http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/international/middleeast/07intell.html and leave it at that.  Eric Schmitt's "Rumsfeld Sees an Iraq Pullout Within 4 Years" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/international/middleeast/07rumsfeld.html):

Looking back over the past four years, he acknowledged that the two biggest mistakes or misjudgments that had been made - though not necessarily by him - were the failure to discover any prohibited weapons in Iraq ("that's clearly a disappointment") and a lack of intelligence that predicted "the degree of insurgency today."

He remained defiant in the face of critics who say the United States failed to send enough troops to Iraq initially to handle postwar security and, now, to combat the insurgents.

Just wondering, does Abu Ghraib make the Rumsfeld 'hot list?'

Let's note that Schmitt points out (re: troop numbers which Rumsfled claims was "out of my control" and a decision made by the Gens. Tommy Franks, John P. Abizaid and George W. Casey, Jr.):

While that may be technically true, Mr. Rumsfeld approves all decisions on troop levels in Iraq, and his commanders and top civilian aides have indicated that he routinely demands detailed explanations for troop increases and movements.

At a time where spin is passed off as truth and is then simply repeated, I think that paragraph of Schimitt's deserves noting.

Page A18 has one of the many stories worthy of the front page -- "F.B.I. Memos Criticized Practices at Guantanamo" by Neil A. Lewis (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/national/07gitmo.html):

Confidential memorandums from F.B.I. officials that were disclosed Monday show the bureau repeatedly criticized "aggressive interrogation practices" that its agents observed being used by military personnel at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

[. . .]

The memorandums show that relations between agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and senior military officials at the detention facility in Cuba grew heated as agents at Guantánamo objected to the interrogation techniques, arguing that they were not effective. It is not clear whether the bureau raised ethical questions regarding the treatment of detainees.

An F.B.I. official whose name was edited from a memorandum dated May 10 wrote that a sharp exchange of views occurred at a meeting with Maj. Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, then the commander of the detention facility at Guantánamo, and Maj. Gen. Michael B. Dunleavey, who was in charge of the intelligence operation there.

"Both sides agreed that the bureau has its way of doing things and the D.O.D. has their marching orders from SecDef," using abbreviations for the Department of Defense and the secretary of defense. "Although the two techniques differed drastically, both generals believed they had a job to do."

"SecDef?"  "Department of Defense and the secretary of defense?"  Rumsfeld.  Another 'mistake' that didn't make his 'hot list.'  Granted, with a plethora of egregious mistakes it can be hard to select just two.  If anyone out there wants to compile a 'Rumsfeld Hot List' of ten boneheaded and/or egregious mistakes, e-mail it to this site (common_ills@yahoo.com) and we'll try to include in the end of the year wrap up.  (And Kara I read your suggested category and winner this morning.  It'll be included.)

Please consider checking out Robert F. Worth's "Army Punishes 23 for Refusing Convoy Order" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/international/middleeast/07convoy.html) and John  Files "Gays Ousted from Military Challenge Policy in Lawsuit" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/national/07gays.html).

Lastly, in response to Carl's e-mail, I agree that this is questionable:

There is wide agreement that rapes have occurred, although some opportunistic women eyeing a payoff have also taken advantage of the situation and falsely claimed that they were assaulted. Some of those women have come to the area from other parts of Kenya with mixed-race children, the result of liaisons with white foreigners.

Possibly the journalist included "may" in an earlier draft and it fell out in the editing or it could be a printing error.  But I agree that "may" is needed in the first sentence ". . . although some opportunistic women eyeing a payoff may have also taken advantage . . ."  I think that's the very least that's required in that sentence.

The article that caught Carl's attention is Marc Lacey's "Umoja Journal:  From Broken Lives, Kenyan Women Build Place of Unity" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/international/africa/07kenya.html).

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Mail - Find what you need with new enhanced search. Learn more.