Kara: The front page of this morning's NYT features a photo by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad [Getty Images] that is disturbing. The caption is: "Elite Iraqi commandos detained a suspected insurgent yesterday after raids in Taji, north of Baghdad." The photo shows a man who's arms are restrained behind his back, apparently handcuffed, being led by two Elite Iraqi Bullies. With a drawn gun and the man's hands firmly behind his back, you've got one Bullie grabbing at his shoulder and another one slinging his arm around the man, choke-hold style. This is something to be proud of. I see one of the bullies has a gun in his hand. I'll also note that the paper's own Elite Fluff Patrol squad leader Bumillie [Elisabeth Bumiller] gets a front page piece about the "White House Bond: Teamed by No. 43, 41 and 42 Hit It Off." Is this supposed to begin the healing of the nation? Not likely. By the way, where on the front page is there any real news?
Lydia Polgreen's " Togo President, Installed by Army, Agrees to an Election" should have been front page news. This 'change of heart' came as a result of the neighboring countries in Africa applying "unrelenting pressure." And it seems to indicate that a shift has taken place in what other African countries will allow. That's front page news, even if the Times places the story on A3. (Like Kara, I'm not overly impressed with the front page of today's paper.) I'll also note that the paper provides a map of the region which is helpful and something that they have slacked off doing in recent weeks. I may be the only one who finds the maps beneficial. (If you do or don't and want to weigh in, the e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Also on A3, Michael Wines has an important story entitled " AIDS-Linked Death Data Stir Political Storm in South Africa." The South African government has issued a report (that some say was delayed "because of political pressure from President Thabo Mbeki's government, which they say have long played down the dimensions of the AIDS crisis here"). The report finds that "annual deaths increased 57 percent from 1997 to 2003," "the proportion of deaths among sexually active women is rising significantly compared with deaths among men" and that "disorders of the immune system emerged for the first time as one of the 10 leading causes of deaths of children under 15."
Brian Lavery's "Irish Raids Net Vast Sums That Are Tied to the I.R.A." (page A7) suggests that there's a turning away from the IRA in Ireland. After numerous phone calls this morning, I would suggest that Lavery's article is based on what others want and see and not an emerging consensus. Dominick e-mailed the site early this morning asking, "What is the Times problems with the Irish?" I don't know. Here's what I do know based on multiple calls this morning:
The bank robbery may or may not be tied to some in Sinn Fien but those citizens of Ireland who have supported the it and the IRA aims in the past continue to do so. There is an attempt to turn these allegations into a scandal that will drive support away but this has been tried before in the past and it didn't work then either. Lavery may be reflecting official opinion (as tendency with the Times) but it's "silly" for Lavery to imply that he's got "a finger on the pulse of the average Irish citizen." This reads "as though it was written by the State Department" (another tendency with the Times). The suggestion that "the Irish public now seems to be turning against the party [IRA]" is beyond silly and suggests that Lavery needs to stop printing summaries of press headlines and comments from officials and actually start speaking to the Irish.
[Note: "the Irish public now seems to be turning against the party" is a quote from Lavery's piece. All other items in quotes in the italicized paragraph are quotes from the people I spoke to. Those included three American reporters, one British, one Canadian, and five university professors.]
Mark Lander, on the same page, attempts to predict the size of the turnout for protests of the upcoming Bully Boy Goes to Germany in "As Germans Prepare for Bush Visit, City Braces for Security Lockdown." He apparently does so without contacting any of the "Web sites [that are] urging people to turn out to protest." He does speak to "local authorities" and run with their estimate which is strange unless he's suggesting that "local authorities" are spying on "Web sites" and doing such a marvelous job that it's somehow not incumbent upon him to speak to "Web sites."
There are two more articles we'll highlight in individual entries. After that, as has become a pattern on Saturdays, there will be the Black History Month entry sometime tonight and that may be it because I will be assisting The Third Estate Sunday Review by offering another pair of eyes as they prepare their Sunday edition.