Sunday, March 20, 2005

This morning's Times: Nuclear site, Dorothy Stang, threats against judges, the Coast Guard, etc.

Okay, we're moving quickly through this morning's main section of the New York Times. These are the stories that caught my eye. (If I open the e-mail account, I'll never get to sleep because I'll get too caught up in the e-mails. I'll start reading this afternoon after I've finally gotten some sleep. My apologies.)

Note Matthew L. Wald's "E-Mail Shows False Claims About Tests at Nevada Nuclear Site."

Internal Energy Department e-mail messages written in preparation for seeking a license to open a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada show that the department made false claims about how it carried out its work.
For example, in 2000, James Raleigh, an Energy Department employee, pointed out in one message that records showed some instruments that were apparently used to measure conditions inside the mountain were certified as having been calibrated before the procedure was performed, and even before the equipment was received.
[. . .]
Other instruments, according to the messages, were used for months without calibration.
On Wednesday the energy secretary, Samuel W. Bodman, said an employee of the United States Geological Survey had written e-mail messages indicating that the employee had falsified some of his work and that others might also have falsified work. The messages further hinder the project to develop the repository, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Also don't miss Kirk Johnson's "Memory of Activist Sister Is Now Brother's Mission" which focuses on David Stang, brother of Dorothy who was killed in Brazil. From the article:

David Stang was retired and thought that the days ahead would be marked by the easy tread of his gardening and his books. But the killing last month of his sister Dorothy, a Roman Catholic nun in Brazil who had made powerful enemies in the Amazon Basin working on behalf of the homeless, turned that plan upside down.
Now Mr. Stang is on a mission to make sure the world remembers his sister correctly. She was not by any means, he said, a sweetly pious nun who had retreated to a life of prayer and contemplation. She was tough, smart and intensely political, and it was precisely her fervent earthly work on behalf of the poor that got her killed, he said.
[. . .]
Mr. Stang said his sister, who was 73 when she was killed, was a martyr to the faith. She apparently knew her killers and the danger they presented and was reading aloud from her Bible, witnesses said, when she was shot. But he said that church recognition of Sister Dorothy as a martyr was unlikely because of the bruising, advocacy-draped political life that she had led in Brazil for 36 years. Her reputation for riding a motorcycle and for camping overnight outside the offices of local officials who refused to see her, he said, is probably too much associated with discredited church goals of the past.

Deborah Sontag has an interesting story on the front page, "In Courts, Threats Become Alarming Fact of Life." From the article:

Only federal authorities keep a count of annual threats, but the 700 reported against federal judicial officials alone suggest that the total made against federal, state and local court officials is much larger.
In the last decade, too, threats have escalated, especially on the federal level, where there is a new age of dangerous cases involving terrorism, international drug trafficking, international organized crime and gangs. Violent incidents themselves, inside and outside the courtroom, are not tallied, but they are known to involve an unpredictable range of defendants, from white supremacists and gang members to white-collar frauds, batterers and civil litigants.
Court-related violence is a chronic, costly preoccupation for those inside the system, but it is not one that usually gets much attention. That concern ratcheted up considerably and went public after the back-to-back killings of a federal judge's relatives in Chicago and of a judge, court reporter, sheriff's deputy and federal customs agent in Atlanta.

"Trying to Keep Nation's Ferries Safe From Terrorists" by Eric Lipton is also worth reading.

From that article:

Coast Guard officials say nearly 400 passengers would be likely to die if a large ferry were attacked, more than twice the number of deaths expected from an airplane crash. Officials worry that ferries may be attacked because they often carry cars and large trucks that could hide bombs, they run on a schedule and they are screened less intensely than airplanes.
There have been attacks on ferries elsewhere: a 1,050-passenger ferry sank in the Philippines in February 2004 after a bomb, consisting of eight pounds of TNT packed into a television, killed more than 115 people.

Those are the articles that stood out for me. I'm sure I missed something. But make sure you intentionally miss two articles.

First, ignore "Visiting Korea Base, Rice Sends Forceful Reminder to the North" by Joel Brinkley who must be quite a sight chasing after Condi with his tongue hanging out and panting. It's pure steongraphy and offers no view other than the administration's. And let's hope that's drool on Brinkley's hands and not another bodily substance.

Second, Amy Harmon's "Ask Them (All 8 of Them) About Their Grandson." It's not badly written in terms of style. But this is a feature story and it's on the front page. (That's not Harmon's fault. As reporters for the paper have pointed out, they don't determine whether or not their story runs on the front page.) As a Sunday Style story or a Sunday Magazine article, it's just wonderful. As a front page news story . . . Well, let's put it this way, if you've ever found the following lyric stuck in your head, there's nothing newsworthy about the story: "It's a story of a man named Brady . . ." How tired is the general topic of blended families? Goldie Hawn couldn't get the topic turned into a feature film over a decade ago . . . while she was still signed to a non-exclusvie deal with family-friendly Disney. But someone at the Times is convinced that this topic is so cutting edge, so noteworthy, so "breaking news" that it just belongs on the front page. They're mistaken. (And again, there's nothing wrong with Harmon's article. She writes it well. But it's a feature story and doesn't belong on the front page of the main section -- which, again, she has no control over.)

Abby Goodnough continues to not live up to her name with a story on protestors. Don't get excited. The Times hasn't discovered the story of what went on across the country on Friday and Saturday yet. (If, in fact, they ever do.) This is another Shiavo story which makes me think of Joni Mitchell's "The Three Great Stimulants:"

Wouldn't they like their peace
Don't we get bored
But we call for the three great stimulants
Of the exhausted ones
Artifice, brutality and innocence
Artifice and innocence

Because there are usually requests to know what's on The Laura Flanders Show, I did just check the web site but there's no information on tonight's show. Possibly there will be later. But there's a good chance, I won't be doing a post before the show starts so take it upon yourself to use the link.

For those wanting additional information about Monday's Congressional committee hearing in Ohio, I'll refer you to this editorial by The Third Estate Sunday Review (which I offered help with writing) (as did Rebecca) and to this government press release on it that lists who will be attending (the title of the press release is "Committee to Continue Oversight on Election Reform with a Field Hearing in Ohio on Monday"). And I see that Rebecca has a post up at her site (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) on this issue so let's note that as well.

E-mail address is and besides checking quickly Saturday morning anything that was mailed Saturday morning and had a subject heading about that morning's Times, I haven't read the e-mails. I will be catching up later today (after I've gotten some sleep). If we're not noting some issue or if you want to weigh in on something (privately or for the community) feel free to do so.