Monday, April 11, 2005

Operation Happy Talk and other things of note in this morning's New York Times

This morning's New York Times carries the date "Monday, April 11, 2005" right under the banner. I note that from the start because some people reading Eric Schmitt's
"U.S. Commanders See Possible Cut in Troops in Iraq" may end up a little confused. So before anyone goes digging through the closets for fringes and the drawers for love beads, let me repeat that it is still 2005; it's only the government that's stuck in the past recycling lies and the Times
that's ready to swallow them (as, let's face it, they too often did during Vietnam).

"Peace is around the corner," "secret plan for peace," "we're making progress," . . . choose your lie because it looks like they're all coming back. Maybe instead of a reporter (not a slam against Schmitt), the Times might want to assign a historian to cover each announcement on Iraq. The historian could note how the latest Operation Happy Talk echoed the talk of an earlier era and, most importantly, how things really turned out back then.

Instead, we're left with the back and forth of reality breaking through for a brief moment and then the propaganda starting back up. Less skeptical readers may end up with whiplash trying to follow the bouncing ball.

Douglas Jehl's "Intelligence Chief Is Urged to Assert Powers Quickly" can be boiled down to Negroponte is being urged (if confirmed Tuesday) to take a hard line quickly and though no one seems to worried how Porter Goss might react to that, D.C. gossips wonder how Donald Rumsfeld will handle the turf war.

Kara e-mails to note Norimitsu Onishi's "Tokyo Protests Anti-Japan Rallies in China:"

The marches have set off a steep decline in the already troubled diplomatic relations between Asia's big powers and threatened to harm their important economic relationship. Japan has recently adopted a more assertive foreign policy, and its relations with South Korea have deteriorated as well, so the dispute with China could leave Japan isolated in Asia.
Its simultaneous disputes with China and South Korea, two countries invaded and occupied by Japan, have been rooted in differences over the past, including the approval last week of Japanese junior high school textbooks that critics in and outside Japan say whitewash Japanese militarism. But the fight over the past has also crystallized into a fight over the future, as South Korea and China have each moved to oppose Japan's effort to win a permanent seat on an expanded United Nations Security Council.

[. . .]
The Ministry of Education's approval of textbooks that contain significant revisions of painful historical events is one of a number of signs of a rightward shift here.
The textbooks, for example, play down the issue of the so-called wartime comfort women, Asian women forced by the Japanese military to work as sex slaves, as well as the issue of Asians brought to Japan to be forced laborers.

Brandon e-mails to note Sharon LaFraniere's "Health Workers Race to Block Deadly Virus in Angolan Town:"

Someone alerted one of the mobile teams of health workers that scour neighborhoods here daily that Mrs. Pinto, a 42-year-old pediatric nurse, appeared to have become another victim of the Marburg epidemic, which is centered in this northern province, also called Uíge.
[. . .]
The race to contain the outbreak of Marburg, a deadly relative of the better-known Ebola virus, is centered here in the town of Uíge (pronounced weezh), where health officials fear the makings of a public health disaster that could spread elsewhere in Angola and beyond.
The number of victims is already the largest ever recorded from a Marburg outbreak, and there is no effective treatment. Nine out of 10 people who get the virus die, usually within a week.
The first cases of the virus were identified in the pediatric ward where Mrs. Pinto had worked. Despite incessant warnings on local radio that families of the sick should neither treat them at home nor touch them if they die, Mrs. Pinto's family cared for her in their house and prepared her for burial. The virus is spread by bodily fluids, and even stray drops of spittle or beads of sweat can lead to death.

And Lloyd e-mailed to note "the latest Tom DeLay scandal" by highlighting Philip Shenon's
"Inquiries of Top Lobbyist Shine Unwelcome Light in Congress:"

Mr. Abramoff, known to envious competitors as "Casino Jack" because of his multimillion-dollar lobbying fees from the gambling operations of American Indians, wrote to a Texas tribe in June 2002 to say that a member of Congress had "asked if we could help (as in cover) a Scotland golf trip for him and some staff" that summer. "The trip will be quite expensive," Mr. Abramoff said in the e-mail message, estimating that the bills "would be around $100K or more." He added that in 2000, "We did this for another member - you know who."
[. . .]
Mr. Abramoff did not explain why the tribe should pay for the lavish trip, nor did he identify the congressmen by name. But a tribe spokesman has since testified to Congress that the 2002 trip was organized for Representative Bob Ney, an Ohio Republican and chairman of the House Administration Committee, and that "you know who" was a much more powerful Republican, Tom DeLay of Texas, the House majority leader and old friend of Mr. Abramoff's. Both lawmakers have said they believed that the trips complied with House travel rules.
The e-mail message of June 7, 2002, is part of a mountain of evidence gathered in recent months by the Justice Department, the Interior Department and two Senate committees in influence-peddling and corruption investigations centered on Mr. Abramoff, a former college Republican campaigner turned B-movie producer turned $750-an-hour Washington super-lobbyist.

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