Friday, September 09, 2005

Other Items

The former secretary of state, Colin L. Powell, says in a television interview to be broadcast Friday that his 2003 speech to the United Nations, in which he gave a detailed description of Iraqi weapons programs that turned out not to exist, was "painful" for him personally and would be a permanent "blot" on his record.
"I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world," Mr. Powell told Barbara Walters of ABC News, adding that the presentation "will always be a part of my record."
Asked by Ms. Walters how painful this was for him, Mr. Powell replied: "It was painful. It's painful now." Asked further how he felt upon learning that he had been misled about the accuracy of intelligence on which he relied, Mr. Powell said, "Terrible." He added that it was "devastating" to learn later that some intelligence agents knew the information he had was unreliable but did not speak up.

I really don't know how you respond to the above. It's from Steven R. Weisman's "Powell Calls His U.N. Speech a Lasting Blot on His Record" in this morning's New York Times. Ava and I have several possibilities for Sunday's review (at The Third Estate Sunday Review) and if she wants to put two of our strong prospects on hold and take on that, we will. There are pros and cons to the statement (the long overdue statement) and there's the self-serving aspect as well. There's also the fact that it's doubtful that he'll be as forthcoming. (The CNN special, which I didn't see, has been a serious blow for him among many people I know who defended him -- I never have defended him for the record. Among those people, African-Americans have been particularly vocal in their outrage over the actions they learned of in the CNN special. This statement may be an attempt to get ahead of the growing outrage that may have been strong news were it not for Hurricane Katrina silencing most other stories.) All of that said, regardless of the reasoning, maybe his statements will reach some and make them think. Ava and I will be watching tonight (it's the gutter ball ABC calls 20/20) and based on what we see, it may be our TV review for Sunday.

By the way, Joan e-mailed to note Weisman's article. (Thank you, Joan.) As noted last night, tomorrow we'll address the Times coverage of Iraq. Should be the first entry. (Rebecca's entry last night notes that as well. I'm not, as she does, asking people not to complain about things they find online. However, if people could table their remarks on the site that has everyone so infuriated for today and tomorrow morning, it would be a big help. I understand the anger but we haven't highlighted those posts for a reason. Rebecca is correct that if a member -- or members -- want to comment on those posts that have gone up elsewhere, note that your comments are for the community and they'll go up here.) (Rebecca doesn't imply that she's speaking for me in the request that people stop writing to complain about ___, to be clear. She's speaking for herself, Jim and Dona. And while they have a strong point, most members are aware that we go off on different roads, them and myself, on that issue. Respectfully and with no hard feelings.)

Brenda is furious with Richard W. Stevenson's "Leader Who Rose in 9/11 Slips in Wake of Storm." The media, mainstream, created the myth that Bully Boy did something wonderful on 9/11. (Was it two days later that he finally showed up? After the Bunny Fu-Fu hop across the nation on 9/11 itself?) This is the most you can expect from the Times. To critique now but maintain the myth. They pimped the myth harder than anyone. But they weren't the only ones and columnists at other papers who questioned the actions of Bully Fu-Fu on 9/11 were not well received by their bosses. (One lost his job.) This is also about as reality based as Elite Fluff Patrol member Stevenson is going to get. (That's not a defense of his writing. I agree with Brenda. But the press rarely unravels their own myths until the parties involved are all long dead and gone.) (Which may be why there's so little commentary on Dexter Filkins. Yes, Dexy's Midnight Blunder will be addressed in tomorrow's entry.)

Lynda e-mails to note Carl Hulse's "Democratic Leaders Reject G.O.P. Storm Inquiry Plan:"

Congressional Democratic leaders said Thursday that they would not appoint members to a new House-Senate committee to investigate failures in the government response to Hurricane Katrina, calling instead for an independent inquiry.
Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, her counterpart in the Senate, said they would not cooperate because the committee would be controlled by Republicans, would have uncertain authority and was created without consultation with Democrats.
"Despite all the talk of bipartisanship," Ms. Pelosi said, "they have just on their own, unilaterally, put forth a proposal that will result in a whitewash of what is going on here." She added, "If we are ever going to truly protect the American people, now it is clear to me that we must have an outside independent commission, as we finally arrived at on 9/11."

Adding to yesterday's commentary, Sheila e-mails to note, on the same article, that in the fifth paragraph, Hulse is noting the Republican response and by the sixth quoting Republicans. Due to the nature of both stories and the fact that Hulse wrote them (yesterday and today's), Sheila feels you get a pretty strong look at "actual balance" at the Times. **** [see correction]

Brady e-mails asking that we ignore the Times "pedistrian coverage" of Hurricane Katrina and instead highlight Naomi Klein's "Let the People Rebuild New Orleans" (The Nation):

On September 4, six days after Katrina hit, I saw the first glimmer of hope. "The people of New Orleans will not go quietly into the night, scattering across this country to become homeless in countless other cities while federal relief funds are funneled into rebuilding casinos, hotels, chemical plants.... We will not stand idly by while this disaster is used as an opportunity to replace our homes with newly built mansions and condos in a gentrified New Orleans."
The statement came from Community Labor United, a coalition of low-income groups in New Orleans. It went on to demand that a committee made up of evacuees "oversee FEMA, the Red Cross and other organizations collecting resources on behalf of our people.... We are calling for evacuees from our community to actively participate in the rebuilding of New Orleans."
It's a radical concept: The $10.5 billion released by Congress and the $500 million raised by private charities doesn't actually belong to the relief agencies or the government; it belongs to the victims. The agencies entrusted with the money should be accountable to them. Put another way, the people Barbara Bush tactfully described as "underprivileged anyway" just got very rich.

Except relief and reconstruction never seem to work like that. When I was in Sri Lanka six months after the tsunami, many survivors told me that the reconstruction was victimizing them all over again. A council of the country's most prominent businesspeople had been put in charge of the process, and they were handing the coast over to tourist developers at a frantic pace. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of poor fishing people were still stuck in sweltering inland camps, patrolled by soldiers with machine guns and entirely dependent on relief agencies for food and water. They called reconstruction "the second tsunami."

(Remember, BuzzFlash is currently offering No Logo: Brands Globalization & Resistance (DVD), A Conversation with Naomi Klein.)

Oh my God. For Susan, that was my reaction ("Oh my God.") when I read the propaganda that is John Kifner's "From the Halls of Falluja to the Shores of Louisiana." Kifner's apparently basing his beliefs upon the reporting of Dexy Filk. I really can't go into more details than that, Susan, because we're addressing it tomorrow. It's probably just as well that I wasn't able to last night or this morning because it may be our only entry (other than to highlight The Laura Flanders Show) for Saturday. It'll be op-ed sort, not a survey. On Wednesday, while in a conversation with yet another person outraged over Judith Miller's pre-war reporting, I asked what of Filkins? The person had no idea. A lot of jaw boning over Miller and Filkins deserves a little attention to. So look for it tomorrow.

We'll note this from an e-mail sent out by Dahr Jamail to all who sign up for them at his Iraq Dispatches:

The following is the latest press release from the 'Doctors for Iraq Society' regarding the most recent US offensive near the Syrian border.
For those of you in the US reading this, please keep this in mind when viewing the catastrophe in New Orleans. -DJ
Doctors for Iraq is deeply concerned at the fate of hundreds of civilians trying to flee the sieged town of Tallafa, 80 km from Mousel City. Thousands of residents from the town have been told to leave the area by US/Iraqi forces who have been attacking the area for the past three- four days.
Eyewitnesses report that heavy bombs were dropped on targets in the town a few days ago and on Monday 5th September the US army has been firing missiles onto the town from aircraft. The entire town in under siege and is in preparation for a new military attack. .
Doctors for Iraq has received reports that at least twenty civilian have been killed in the attack. It is impossible to check these reportsfor accuracy.
US /IRAQI forces have forced frightened civilians to leave the sieged town and and women and children are making their way to a refugee camp set up outside the Tallafa.
Civilians have told Doctors for Iraq that many young men aged between 20- 35 are being stopped and detained at checkpoints and are being taken to a US military building near an airport.
It is not known how many men have been detained and why they are being held. It is impossible for Doctors For Iraq to check this reports as media and health workers are being prevented form entering the area.
What is know is that during the military siege of Falluja in 2004 young men were also prevented from leaving the city and were detained by US/Iraqi military.
Doctors inside the town are concerned about the lack of medicine and health care facilities for people who are being forced to flee their homes.
Tallafa's medical infrastructure has been badly damaged by the ongoing military attacks on the area over the past few weeks. Doctors and medical convoys are unable to enter the sieged town and assist the desperate civilians.
Doctors for Iraq is particularly concerned about the fate of the refugees. There is concern about the lack of clean drinking water for displaced civilians and the threat of disease is very real as hygiene conditions in the area are very poor.
Doctors for Iraq is calling for :
*A complete and immediate *END * to the military attack on the town so all civilians can be evacuated safely
For the US/IRAQI military to uphold the Geneva Convention and allow doctors and medical supplies into the town.
For international human rights organisations to carry out an immediate investigation into allegations that young men are being detained by the military and reports of civilian deaths during the attack.
For more information contact:
Dr. Salam Ismael
Aisha Ismael
< >

Tiffany sent that and I'm reading it as I do the spacing and tempted to take the day off and just do the Iraq post. I'll be on the soap box tomorrow but for now I'll just say exactly at what point do we get disgusted? And exactly at what point does the Times feel the need to start reporting?
Not giving us that ___ on baseball in Iraq, the ___ that they front paged this week by Kirk Simple. (Semple, actually but we'll let the previous stand.) It is digusting and shameful that the New York Times won't report from Iraq. We'll address it tomorrow. Will we print the passed on gossip about Love in the Green Zone? There's a lot of that coming into the inbox.

No, we won't but it's good to worry the Times for a second or two. (Someday, someone will print that up and when they do the paper of record will have a tremendous amount of explaining to do.)

I'm assuming we could all use a laugh right about now, so refer to Betty's latest. Apologies to Betty because I would have highlighted it Wednesday if I'd known it had gone up. Due to a doctor's appointment for one of her kids, she went ahead and made the time to write it Wednesday. So you may have already seen "It's always about Thomas Friedman" but read it again to laugh and enjoy the critique of the Times' own Newton Fulbright. Here's an excerpt:

I'm taking out the garbage today because . . .
There really is no polite way to say it. Because Thomas Friedman doesn't do a damn thing.
So I bump into Jess from upstairs and he tells me he doesn't know what to make of "Osama and Katrina." That's my husband Thomas Friedman's return to the op-ed pages after a lengthy summer vacation of sulking and shorty robes.
The column is supposedly about the country but Thomas Friedman can't write about anything but himself. That's why in his first paragraph he uses "I" three times. Three or four sentences and "I" statements pop up three times. It's all about Thomas Friedman.
When we were watching the destruction on TV, the first thing he said to me was, "Thank God I went to New Orleans last year." We're seeing people with nothing, we're seeing dead bodies. But it's all about him. It was as though, if he were watching the crucifixtion, he'd be saying, "Thank God I had my picnic there last week." No sense of perspective beyond himself.
His next statement was one of worry, would they pull Invasion due to this? He really wants to watch that television program and seeing the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, that was his second thought.
He never did get around to addressing the issues. When I read the column this morning, I was surprised to see that he was still unable to.
What he could do was try to justify his push for war and justify his many valentines to the Bully Boy. "It's not my fault" was the subtext because it's always about him.

When we mentioned Newton Fulbright in Janaury, a select few caught the reference. It's okay if you don't. In fact, it underscores how useless Thomas Friedman and how transitory his "fame" will be. (Friedman also has a bit of the Herbert Phillbrick in him as well.)

P.J., I'll address the thing you e-mailed on tonight. And this weekend at The Third Estate Sunday Review, during their news review, there will be a report on one of the centers set up for the victims of Hurricane Katrina plus Jess is doing an interview with a community member that he hopes to work into the news review on another topic.

Rod e-mails to note the topics for today's Democracy Now!:

Unembedded in New Orleans: In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, a number of journalists have been harassed by the U.S. Military.
A hurricane survivor gives an in-depth account of the Superdome in the days after the disaster hit New Orleans.

From Wednesday, we'll From yesterday, we'll again note this:

NEW YORK -- WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception, a controversial documentary of American media's coverage of the war in Iraq, will make its exclusive television premiere on Independent Film Channel (IFC) on Sunday, Sept. 11 @ 10p Eastern. The IFC premiere is the result of an agreement announced today between the network and Cinema Libre Studio for the exclusive television rights to the film, which was produced and directed by long-time media critic Danny Schechter."
Freedom of expression is at the heart of the American experience. A free and curious press is supposed to be the personification of that. This film takes on important questions about the American media that few, if any, other networks seem willing to address," said Evan Shapiro, executive vice president/general manager of IFC. "We are presenting it as part of IFC's mission to provide filmmakers with a voice and as reinforcement of our refusal to perpetuate the very forms of censorship depicted in this film."
Shapiro added, "We are, of course, sensitive to the emotions surrounding 9/11 and join with all Americans in sharing remembrances of that tragic day. But we believe that Sept. 11 is an appropriate day to air this film since the Administration has continually made it a point to link the war in Iraq with 9/11 and terrorism. At the same time, we believe that this is an important day to celebrate the freedoms that we in America enjoy, including that of freedom of speech and thought."

Schechter's WMD airs '10 PM ET/PT." This Sunday. Please pass the information on to make sure people are aware of it. It's a great documentary. For a review of it, you can read The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Must see DVD: Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception."

Lastly, don't forget to check your in boxes this afternoon for the latest gina & krista round-robin.

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*** Correction. The paragraph in the entry above has been corrected. Sheila used "sixth." Sixth paragraph in Hulse's article quotes a Republican. I wrongly typed seventh.
That was my mistake, not Sheila's. I've corrected it in bold print ("sixth") above.
This correction is first noted in the third entry of today (the one immediately after this one).