Friday, June 24, 2005

NYT: "U.S. General Sees No Ebb in Flight" (David S. Cloud & Eric Schmitt)

The top American commander for the Middle East said Thursday that the insurgency in Iraq had not diminished, seeming to contradict statements by Vice President Dick Cheney in recent days that the insurgents were in their "last throes."
[. . .]
His more pessimistic assessment, made during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, reflected a difference of emphasis between military officers, who battle the intractable insurgency every day, and civilian officials intent on accentuating what they say is unacknowledged progress in Iraq.
Mr. Cheney, in an interview with CNN after General Abizaid spoke, repeated his assertion that the insurgency was facing defeat, which he said was driving it to increase attacks to disrupt the United States-backed political process aimed at defusing the violence.

The above is from David S. Cloud and Eric Schmitt's "U.S. General Sees No Ebb in Fight" in this morning's New York Times.

Keesha: Dour Cheney as a Happy Talker is about as believable as Ashton Kutcher as brainy.

Damien Cave's "Age 16 to 25? The Pentagon Has Your Number, and More" was noted in an e-mail this morning by Wally. From the article:

The Defense Department and a private contractor have been building an extensive database of 30 million 16-to-25-year-olds, combining names with Social Security numbers, grade-point averages, e-mail addresses and phone numbers.
The department began building the database three years ago, but military officials filed a notice announcing plans for it only last month. That is apparently a violation of the federal Privacy Act, which requires that government agencies accept public comment before new records systems are created.
David S. C. Chu, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, acknowledged yesterday that the database had been in the works since 2002. Pentagon officials said they discovered in May 2004 that no Privacy Act notice had been filed. The filing last month was an effort to correct that, officials said.

Wally: I know this was by citing Democracy Now! and CounterRecruiter but for young members like myself, I hope we can note it one more time.

Absolutely. And if anyone e-mails Michael ( I'm sure he'll be willing to address the issue at his site Mikey Likes It! as well. (He commented on it yesterday.)

By the way, don't miss Rebecca's "gloria steinem still brave, still strong, still speaking out" from yesterday either. Marci and Rita both e-mailed to note it.

We'll note a technology article from the Times that Eli e-mailed about, Gretchen Ruethling's "Almost All Libraries in U.S. Offer Free Access to Internet:"

The study, which was conducted by researchers at Florida State University, found that 98.9 percent of libraries offer free public Internet access, up from 21 percent in 1994 and 95 percent in 2002. It also found that 18 percent of libraries have wireless Internet access and 21 percent plan to get it within the next year.
[. . .]
Hazel Williams, 50, of Chicago said she started going to the library for Internet research two years ago while she was earning her high school equivalency diploma. On Thursday, she was surfing the Web for jobs at the Harold Washington Library Center, which has 78 computers with Internet access, in downtown Chicago.
"Because I don't have a home computer, it's very convenient for me to use it here," Ms. Williams said. "If they didn't have the computer here, it would be kind of hard for me to get one."
People like Ms. Williams who go to the library for Internet access might be one reason that the number of annual library visits has increased from 500 million in the early 1990's to 1.2 billion today, said Carol Brey-Casiano, president of the American Library Association.

Kara e-mails to note Stephen Labaton and Anne E. Kornblut's "Public Broadcasting Chief Is Named, Raising Concerns:"

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Thursday appointed Patricia S. Harrison, a former co-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, to be its next president and chief executive.
In acting, the corporation board brushed aside concerns from many public television and radio stations and Democratic lawmakers that choosing Ms. Harrison threatened to inject partisanship into an organization that is supposed to shield public broadcasting from political pressures.
Later on Thursday, the Republican-controlled House, by a vote of 284 to 140, approved a measure to restore $100 million that had been cut from the corporation's $400 million budget last week by the House Appropriations Committee.

[. . .]
Investigators are looking at Mr. Tomlinson's decision to retain a consultant to monitor the political leanings on the "Now" show with Bill Moyers, his decision to retain two Republican lobbyists last year and his use of a White House official to set up an corporation office of ombudsman that is supposed to judge the political balance and objectivity of shows on public television and radio.

If you missed Bill Moyers on Democracy Now! this week, here are his remarks on Tomlinson's analysis:

AMY GOODMAN: We continue our discussion today with Bill Moyers. Bill Moyers's latest book is called Moyers on America: A Journalist and His Times. Bill Moyers, himself, and public media, in general, is in the crosshairs, a target today. Later today, the CPB is expected to vote on the president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. A lot of revelations have come out over the last month in various exposés about what has been happening.
Bill, I wanted to get your response to the monitoring of the political content of your show. This first came out right before the big Media Reform Conference that you addressed in St. Louis. More has come out around it. The Chair of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Kenneth Tomlinson, spending something like $14,000, apparently secretly, to a consultant named Fred Mann from Indianapolis, who used to be with the American Conservative Union, to monitor the content of your show. Your response.
BILL MOYERS: Well, he didn't have to pay Fred Mann any money at all. He could have just watched the broadcast. He could have called me and asked me who was on. He did not tell his board he was doing this. He did not tell his staff he was doing this. He did it arbitrarily on his own.
AMY GOODMAN: Where did he get the money?
BILL MOYERS: From the public. These are funds that were spent to hire this (quote) "consultant." I think Fred Mann is an old friend of Kenneth Tomlinson. Michael Winship, the columnist, has a really interesting report on who Fred Mann is. It turns out he’s been a longtime operative for conservative, right-wing journalism, and so naturally Tomlinson, who is himself a right winger, turned to him.
But, you know, the interesting thing, Amy, is this guy, watching my broadcast, concluded that I was – that "Now" was anti-defense, because we did an hour broadcast with the whistle blower, Chuck Spinney, one of the great public servants of our time, who kept calling the Pentagon from inside the Pentagon to account for its expenditures. We did a wonderful -- I won an Emmy Award by it, by the way. But Fred Mann saw that report and reported to Mr. Tomlinson that "Now" was "anti-defense" because it was doing it.
We did a documentary segment, which included a sound bite from Chuck Hagel, the Republican Senator from Nebraska, criticizing his own party's president, George W. Bush. Fred Mann's report to Kenneth Tomlinson said, "Now" is anti-Bush because they had this liberal Senator, Chuck Hagel, on from Nebraska.
I mean, this is the kind of nonsense -- we did one of the first investigative pieces in Texas of Tom DeLay's use of corporate funds to manipulate the redistricting of Congress in Texas. And so Fred Mann's report, secret report, to Kenneth Tomlinson said, "'Now With Bill Moyers' is anti-DeLay."
The really revealing moment came a couple of weeks ago when Kenneth Tomlinson gave an interview to The Washington Post, and he said he was watching "Now" himself one night, and he just couldn't take what we were reporting from a little town in Tamaqua, Pennsylvania. My camera crew, one of the great journalists of our time, a network journalist named Peter Bull, had gone with the team and spent time in this little town looking at what was happening economically in this town as a result of downsizing, outsourcing, loss of jobs, people losing $20 an hour jobs for $9 or $6 an hour jobs. It was a really good reporting about the losers in the class war.
And Kenneth Tomlinson, a right-wing Republican, couldn't take that because it was contrary to the party line. The party line is: Globalization, NAFTA, CAFTA, all of this is really good for people, and if we just have the patience, we'll see that. Well, we were reporting from the front lines of what's happening on globalization to American workers, and he became furious. And it was that moment, he said, he decided I was a liberal advocate journalist, and that's when he really turned up the heat on "Now." Why? Because we were reporting what was contrary to the official view of reality. It's not my opinions he opposes. It's journalism that is beholden to nothing but getting as close as possible to the verifiable truth.

Here's Amy Goodman and Bill Moyers discussing the newly appointed president of the CPB (prior to her receiving the title):

AMY GOODMAN: Last year, she testified before Congress in her capacity as a State Department official, applauding the State Department's Office of Special Broadcasting, which puts out those video news releases that we were describing them in the headlines today. Today we're talking about the VNR's that came out of the Department of Agriculture. But she was describing the ones, the packaged news stories that end up on local newscasts around the country or internationally that covered the invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan, saying that they were powerful strategic tools that sway public opinion. Your response.
BILL MOYERS: Well, she and Kenneth Tomlinson both are involved in the overseas broadcast of the American government, and it seems to me that they both would like to see Public Broadcasting be an arm of government propaganda, in particular the administration's propaganda. That does not surprise -- I’ve not heard that she had said that, but it does not surprise me that she sees the job of Voice of America and other broadcasts abroad, sponsored by the United States government, of putting America's best foot forward. Journalism is about saying we're not putting our best foot forward. Journalism is about reporting the news that we need to -- Napoleon said to his secretary, you know, “If the news from the front is good, you don't need to wake me, I can wait until morning; if the news is bad, I need to get up and act on it, so wake me up.” But these people really want Public Broadcasting and all journalists – and they've essentially intimidated the mainstream media so that you don't get much reporting of what is contrary to the official view of reality. They'd like to see Public Broadcasting silenced, too, or become an arm of the administration and the government.
AMY GOODMAN: State media.
BILL MOYERS: State media, yes. Or at least state-manipulated media, media that may not be owned by the state, but is responsive to the state.

This is (the Times') Labaton's third article on Public Broadcasting this week (not a complaint) and hopefully I spelled Kornblut's name correctly. (I mispelled her last name last week. My apologies and it was corrected.)

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