Sunday, May 01, 2005

This morning's Times ay-yi-yi

Let's get the bad out of the way first. Reporting on the shooting of the car carrying Giuliana Sgrena, the Times still won't tell the readers that Sgrena says the car was shot from behind.
Considering that the military report the Times announces depends on the car being shot as it "approached," this is rather sad. Whether the Times believes Sgrena or not, this is a part of the story Italians have heard. The rest of the world. Democracy Now! viewers (listeners, readers).
So why the Times has such a problem with a simple sentence stating that "Sgrena disputes that the car was shot from in front."

Evidence, such as it is, does make one wonder why the driver in the front seat wasn't shot but Sgrena and Nicola Calipari sitting in the back seat were shot. The Times notes recommendations the report makes about checkpoints. Recommendations that anyone following the checkpoint situation for the last two years already knew.

Whether the paper believes Sgrena or not, for Americans to understand why Italy isn't buying this story, the paper needs to inform the readers of Sgrena's claims.

As with the 60 Minutes II report, there's selective editing here that goes far beyond pruning.

Dominick and Eli both e-mail in regarding Lizette Alvarez's "Chased by the Past, Sinn Fein's Leader Looks Ahead." Both note that Alvarez's article appears even-handed but wonder why the paper wants to take a softer tone (because Gerry Adams and his party appear to be sitting pretty) and act as though allegations were made elsewhere. (Dominick clipped the Times editorial and intends to hold on to it.) They agree that Alvarez was right to mention the tentative nature of the peace, but wonder why it never occurred to the editorial board that seemed intent on inflaming the public. (It didn't take.)

Kara e-mails to note that Scott Shane's grabbed the mop but decided to mop up after John Bolton in "a fluff piece that would do Elisabeth Bumiller proud." Kara also notes, "If Bolton's being Bork-ed, as the right wing claims, he's Bork-ing himself. He looks ridiculous with that mustache and someone should have asked him to shave it off some time ago."

The Nepal article we noted yesterday (because it was available online yesterday morning) appears in today's paper, for anyone wondering.

Liang found Bernard Weinraub's article on "30 Years Later, Cake and Credit Cards in Saigon" to be "insulting in it's lack of basic awareness."

And as though they wanted to prove me right about their concern for social justice, the Times front pages a story (Katie Hafner's "First Come Cellphone Towers, Then the Babel") about the ugly eyesores that are causing blight to Mendham Township, New Jeresey which, as the paper quickly notes, has citizens who are "among the wealthiest in the nation." Where there is money to throw around, the Times is there! Not quite the Red Cross motto but then I doubt the Red Cross would employ the likes of Judith Miller. (I could be wrong.)

Keep front paging those "hard-htting issues!" Town & Country shouldn't be the only ones addressing them!

Moving on (I hope everyone got that the paragraph above was intended to be humorous), we'll note two should-be-front page stories. We'll start with Don Van Natta Jr.'s "U.S. Recruits a Rough Ally To Be Jailer" which actually did make the front page.

Here's the opening:

Seven months before Sept. 11, 2001, the State Department issued a human rights report on Uzbekistan. It was a litany of horrors.
The police repeatedly tortured prisoners, State Department officials wrote, noting that the most common techniques were "beating, often with blunt weapons, and asphyxiation with a gas mask." Separately, international human rights groups had reported that torture in Uzbek jails included boiling of body parts, using electroshock on genitals and plucking off fingernails and toenails with pliers. Two prisoners were boiled to death, the groups reported. The February 2001 State Department report stated bluntly, "Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights."
Immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, however, the Bush administration turned to Uzbekistan as a partner in fighting global terrorism. The nation, a former Soviet republic in Central Asia, granted the United States the use of a military base for fighting the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan. President Bush welcomed President Islam Karimov of Uzbekistan to the White House, and the United States has given Uzbekistan more than $500 million for border control and other security measures.
Now there is growing evidence that the United States has sent terror suspects to Uzbekistan for detention and interrogation, even as Uzbekistan's treatment of its own prisoners continues to earn it admonishments from around the world, including from the State Department.

On page A23, you'll find another story, one that's also front page news, but the Times needs to inform us the blight of cell phone towers on rich communities instead, Neil A. Lewis and Eric Schmitt's "Inquiry Finds Abuses at Guantanamo Bay:"

A high-level military investigation into accusations of detainee abuse at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has concluded that several prisoners were mistreated or humiliated, perhaps illegally, as a result of efforts to devise innovative methods to gain information, senior military and Pentagon officials say.
The report on the investigation, which is still a few weeks from being completed and released, will deal with accounts by agents for the Federal Bureau of Investigation who complained after witnessing detainees subjected to several forms of harsh treatment.

For anyone who hasn't heard, 60 Minutes has a report that's supposed to be worth viewing tonight. No, not the Goldie Hawn story! (Although I'm sure that will be nice. And Hawn has a book due out.) (Or did, last I heard.) "'Sex-Up' Tactics at Gitmo" is the report I'm referring to:

A former Guantanamo Bay translator says prisoner interrogations were staged to give visiting congressmen, senators and generals the impression that valuable intelligence information was being gleaned from cooperative detainees on a regular basis. He also says detainees were treated in sadistic ways, including being taunted sexually. Former Army Sgt. Erik Saar talks to Correspondent Scott Pelley in his first interview, to be broadcast on 60 Minutes, Sunday, May 1, at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Saar spent six months at Guantanamo and believes "only a few dozen" of the 600 detainees at the base were real terrorists, and that little information was obtained from them. Visiting authorities were led to believe otherwise, says Saar.

(Note, the online summary of Goldie Hawn doesn't mention it, but she does have a book and it's due out Tuesday. The title is A Lotus Grows in the Mud.) (And yes, I too can already hear the pithy review from Janet Maslin, or what passes for "pith" from Maslin.)

So I grab the Book Review to see if they have a slam, er review -- they're always fair, right -- on Hawn's book (advance copies were made available to some outlets, guess not the Times, hard to be a player in Hollywood for the paper still?) and find instead a wet kiss (to steal from Harry Reid) from Fareed Zakaria to Thomas L. Friedman (the neos live to stick together!) The Times run this today. Read this sentence and ask yourself how they can ever again accuse anyone of being "a soap opera queen" or whatever Maslin accused Fonda's writing of:

And while this book is not as powerful as Friedman's earlier ones . .. its fundamental insight is true and deeply important.

"True and deeply important?" Zakaria's reviewing a book here or inscribing a yearbook?

"True and deeply important." Sing it and it's practically a Savage Garden song!


In other book news, since I opened the section, Jane Fonda's My Life So Far remains at the number one spot, for the second week in a row, on the nonfiction best sellers (hardcover). Thomas Friedman has slipped to number two. (More wet kisses, Zakaria, pronto!) If you haven't picked up My Life So Far, it's a strong story well told. (Scanners like Maslin miss that. Folding Star, who's an actual reader, loved it.)

Juan had a comment on the two book reviews of My Life So Far that the Times has run (Maslin first, then Maureen Dowd last Sunday).

Juan: As you noted in your review of Maslin, she avoided mentioning the fact that the Times trumpeted Jane Fonda's arrest on drug charges but buried the later news that they were just vitamins. Dowd managed to miss that too. Which is strange since one of the photos the paper chose to illustrate Dowd's review was a mug shot of Fonda.

Yes, that was strange. Especially since they ran a mug shot.

But ours is not to reason why, ours is but to . . . wait and wait and see if the paper ever arrives. (I promise Dallas, I haven't forgotten about the entry I need to write.)

Usually we do our Sunday evening thing about what's being reported in the rest of the world.
I would like to do that tonight and hope to. However, Rebecca's going to talk me through some software that she's used which I really need to learn if I'm going to be able to share a contribution from one of our community members. Watching America is a site we link to on the left, always on the left, so feel free to check that (and other sites) out. If you have suggestions for stories from around the world, please e-mail them in and I'll make every effort to share them. But Rebecca's going to be teaching me the software during The Laura Flanders Show and that's usually when I hunt down things to share.

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