Sunday, April 24, 2005

This morning's Times -- where is the news? Buried inside.

Good morning. Before we get to the morning's New York Times, let me note that Ava and I are writing this entry together. And yes, it's all nighter, another all nighter, that's nowhere near done.

There is nothing up at The Third Estate Sunday Review as we type this. We broke away from our TV review to get something up here. When we rejoin the Third Estate Sunday Review gang, but for those asking, we'll be sure to get some stuff posted up there.

This morning's Times? As Roberta Flack might ask in song, "Where Is the News?"

We just aren't feeling it in this morning's paper.

And judging by the e-mails to this site ( you aren't either.

Popearama goes on. Will it ever stop? Apparently not and the Times uses three reporters for the, we're sure, much needed article on the formation of the Pope's views (turbulent campuses in the sixties). Which explains why David Johnston's "Rights Group Cites Rumsfeld and Tenet in Report on Abuse" is inside the paper while putting the Pope on the couch is on the front page.

From Johnston's article:

A human rights group issued a report on Saturday calling for a special prosecutor to examine the conduct of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and the former director of central intelligence, George J. Tenet, in issues related to the abuse of detainees.
Drawing largely on news reports and publicly available military reviews, the group, Human Rights Watch, concluded that there was "overwhelming evidence that U.S. mistreatment and torture of Muslim prisoners took place not merely at Abu Ghraib, but at facilities throughout Afghanistan and Iraq as well as at Guantánamo and at 'secret locations' around the world in violation of the Geneva Convention and the laws against torture."

For more information, go to Human Rights Watch:

"The soldiers at the bottom of the chain are taking the heat for Abu Ghraib and torture around the world, while the guys at the top who made the policies are going scot free," said Reed Brody, special counsel for Human Rights Watch. "That's simply not right." Human Rights Watch said that there was now overwhelming evidence that U.S. mistreatment and torture of Muslim prisoners took place not merely at Abu Ghraib but at facilities throughout Afghanistan and Iraq as well as at Guantánamo and at "secret locations" around the world, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the laws against torture.
"This pattern of abuse across several countries did not result from the acts of individual soldiers who broke the rules," said Brody. "It resulted from decisions made by senior U.S. officials to bend, ignore, or cast rules aside."

But again, real news, according to the Times, is psycho-analyzing the Pope.

As we've all noticed, the Times is not afraid to cover the hard hitting issue of the Patriot Act . . .
from the editorial and op-ed pages and deep inside the paper. Hence Jane Gordon's buried inside the paper report "In Patriots' Cradle, the Patriot Act Faces Scrutiny:"

When the USA Patriot Act, the antiterrorism law whose simple name belies it staggering complexity, was passed after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, grass-roots efforts to reform the legislation grew. Now, as Congress debates whether to renew provisions of the act, which are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, towns around Connecticut are staging their own version of the Boston Tea Party. In a quiet revolt, many towns have been passing resolutions condemning the act and urging Congress to kill it. These resolutions don't have the strength of law, but are meant to give people a voice on what they say is an injustice.
The Mansfield Town Council passed a resolution on the Patriot Act in 2003 urging town officials to resist enforcing the act if it means violating civil liberties. Hartford and New Haven have passed similar resolutions. Cornwall thought better of taking on the federal government and urged residents last year to write to their representatives instead. Kent also decided against a resolution, but after an impassioned public meeting on the act in 2003, the town's first selectwoman decided to write to President Bush herself.
"We wanted to send a message that the USA Patriot Act was a violation of civil liberties," said Betsy Paterson, the mayor of Mansfield, who had the resolution sent to Connecticut's senators and representatives in Washington. "It's hard to tell if it had an impact."

We'll also note one more passage of the article and we'll note it because Rebecca shared an e-mail with us that she received from someone being dismissive of the attention that she and we had given to the Patriot Act. From the article:

"Over the past couple of weeks constituents began to increase their calls into the office voicing their displeasure with the Act and its evasive capability," he wrote in an e-mail message. "These comments have strengthened my resolve on the issue."

That was House Rep. John Larson speaking. The article speaks of the effect in so-so terms (typical Times "on the one hand" or, infamously, "insert balanced quote here"). You need to making yourself heard now. You need to be sure that your reps know how you feel. Continued contact may sway some, but most important, it will shore up the people we need to speak out.
And please, make a point to discuss the issue with friends, family, co-workers. We don't need to be waiting for the week of the vote to attempt to bring everyone up to speed.

Note Douglas Jehl's inside the paper story "Released E-Mail Exchanges Reveal More Bolton Battles." Why inside the paper? Well marching bands have to go somewhere and apparently in the Times, that's the front page.

From Jehl's article:

Recently declassified e-mail messages provide new details of the bruising battle that John R. Bolton, then an under secretary of state, waged with analysts at the State Department and the Central Intelligence Agency in 2002 as he sought to deliver a speech reflecting a hard-line view of Cuba and its possible efforts to acquire biological weapons.
[. . .]
The declassified e-mail messages suggest animosity between Mr. Bolton and his staff on the one hand, and intelligence analysts on the other, at levels even greater than have emerged from recent public testimony by Mr. Bolton and others. A Congressional official provided some of the messages to The New York Times, saying they should be made available to the public because they had been declassified.
None of the dozens of messages reviewed by The New York Times were from Mr. Bolton. But the correspondence, spanning a period from February to September 2002, included e-mail sent to Mr. Bolton by his principal assistant, Frederick Fleitz, as well as extensive exchanges between Mr. Fleitz and Christian P. Westermann, the State Department's top expert on biological weapons who clashed sharply with Mr. Bolton over Cuba.

Actually making the front page is Alex Berenson's "Evidence in Vioxx Suits Shows Intervention by Merck Officials:"

In an e-mail exchange about Vioxx, the company's most important new drug at the time, a senior Merck scientist repeatedly urged the researcher to change his views about the death "so that we don't raise concerns." In later reports to the Food and Drug Administration and in a paper published in 2003, Merck listed the cause of death as "unknown" for the patient, a 73-year-old woman.
The discussion of the death is contained in several previously undisclosed Merck records, including e-mail messages from Dr. Edward M. Scolnick, Merck's top scientist from 1985 until 2002, and from Dr. Alise S. Reicin, a vice president for clinical research, that indicate Merck's concerns about data contradicting its view that Vioxx was safe.
In one e-mail message, Dr. Scolnick said the drug trial that included the woman's death had "put us in a terrible situation." In others, he fiercely criticized the F.D.A. and said he would personally pressure senior officials at the agency if it took action unfavorable to Vioxx. As lawsuits against Merck over Vioxx move toward trial, the documents could help plaintiffs paint a picture of the company that is at odds with Merck's public statements that it had no evidence of Vioxx's cardiac risks until last fall.

A great deal of e-mails that came in this morning deal with Daniel Okrent's latest op-ed. We're going to carry that over to The Third Estate Sunday Review so look for some sort of comment, reply there.

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