Monday, March 28, 2005

The Times has a few stories today, a few, see Kara's note at the end

In this morning's Times, let's start by noting Ralph Blumenthal's "With Watch List, Pilot's Career Is Stalled:"

Juan Carlos Merida is up in the air, and not just when he is flying the Cessnas of the Airman Flight School here, south of Oklahoma City.
Is he or is he not a terror suspect, linked by circumstance to Zacarias Moussaoui, who is facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks?
If he is, says Mr. Merida, a 34-year-old Panamanian aviator who has lived in the United States since 1996, why has the Federal Aviation Administration licensed him to fly small planes? Why did the United States Embassy in Panama vouch for him? And why have prominent local businesspeople embraced him?
If he is not, why is he on a watch list that stops him at airports? And why has the government blocked him from learning to fly jets and other heavy aircraft, stymieing his flying career?
For now the questions outnumber the answers, leaving Mr. Merida in what his lawyer calls a Kafkaesque limbo, unable to find out what exactly he is suspected of and unable to clear himself.

Let's also note Stephen Labaton's "Under New Chief, F.C.C. Considers Widening Its Reach:"

Leading lawmakers and the new leader of the F.C.C. have proposed a broad expansion of indecency rules, which were significantly toughened just last year. They are also looking for significant increases in the size of fines and new procedures that could jeopardize the licenses of stations that repeatedly violate the rules.
Some senior lawmakers, including Senator Ted Stevens, the Alaskan Republican who is the leader of the Commerce Committee, as well as Kevin J. Martin, the new chairman of the commission, have suggested it may be time to extend the indecency and profanity rules to cable and satellite television providers, which now account for viewership in 85 percent of the nation's homes. And organizations opposing what they consider indecent programming have joined forces with consumer groups that have been trying to tighten regulation over the cable industry and force it to offer consumers less expensive packages of fewer stations, known as à la carte services.

From the morality police, let's move to Larry Rohter's "A Vast Brazilian Project for Water Diversion Is Greeted by Widespread Skepticism:"

But now the government is poised to carry out a bold plan that it says will accomplish those goals. President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has authorized $1.7 billion to build a pair of canals hundreds of miles long to divert water from this river basin, the country's second largest, to the most arid parts of the interior. This would be the first phase of a much larger project that envisions eventually redirecting water from the Amazon watershed to this area.
[. . .]
But opponents of the venture, including environmental groups and business interests, argue that so ambitious an undertaking is unnecessary and far more costly than the initial price indicates. They favor the construction of more reservoirs, cisterns, wells and aqueducts, which they contend would be cheaper and more efficient than building the canals and compromising the flow of a river already damaged by pollution and deforestation.
"The problem of the northeast is not the scarcity of water, but the way that water is managed and existing projects left unfinished," Renato Cunha, director of the Bahia Environmental Group, said in an interview in Salvador, the state capital. "This plan is not going to solve the problem. It will only exacerbate existing conflicts over who controls land and water."

Ben e-mails noting Diana B. Henriques' "Some Creditors Make Illegal Demands on Active-Duty Soldiers:"

Though statistics are scarce, court records and interviews with military and civilian lawyers suggest that Americans heading off to war are sometimes facing distracting and demoralizing demands from financial companies trying to collect on obligations that, by law, they cannot enforce.
Some cases involve nationally prominent companies like Wells Fargo and Citigroup, though both say they are committed to strict compliance with the law.
The problem, most military law specialists say, is that too many lenders, debt collectors, landlords, lawyers and judges are unaware of the federal statute or do not fully understand it.
The law, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, protects all active-duty military families from foreclosures, evictions and other financial consequences of military service. The Supreme Court has ruled that its provisions must "be liberally construed to protect those who have been obliged to drop their own affairs to take up the burdens of the nation."

Rob e-mails to call our attention to Craig S. Smith's "Dueling Parliaments, Old and New, Deepen Crisis in Kyrgyzstan:"

A post-putsch crisis in this Central Asian nation appeared to deepen Sunday, as a conflict between the newly elected Parliament and the old one continued to cloud prospects for the government that seized power last week.
The head of the world's largest election-monitoring body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, arrived to offer help in mediating a resolution to the crisis, which started after President Askar Akayev suddenly fled in the face of protests over election abuses.
The standoff has turned into a negotiation between the small group of unelected politicians at the core of the new government and some of the powerful businessmen who recently won parliamentary seats. Many of those new members have enough money to destabilize the country if pushed from the scene.

Kara e-mails wondering where the news is in the paper?

Kara: There's nothing on Israel, even after what Haaretz has reported regarding Bush and Sharon's "understanding." There's very little to read. And after NYC Indymedia [Chris Anderson's "The Media: Blind In Iraq"] broke the story on how the paper's last big 'scoop' on Iraq was a) false and b) based solely on what the military told them, what's the point of even reading their coverage of Iraq? Monday's have never been a good day for the paper but more and more Sunday's are proving to be a waste of time for the main section as well.

Kara, I couldn't agree more. The Sunday section was pretty much disposable yesterday and the few stories worth reading have no follow up today and will more than likely not be followed up tomorrow. The tribunals, for instance, should have been followed up on. But instead, the Times chugs along. And if it helps, Shirley e-mailed that she considers the opera star surgery front page story "possibly the worst story to be pushed on the front page thus far this year."

E-mail address is for anyone who wants to weigh in.