Thursday, September 15, 2005

Other items

On April 5, Abdul Ameer Younis Hussein, an Iraqi cameraman for CBS News, was struck in the thigh by an American sniper's bullet while filming the aftermath of a suicide bombing in Mosul. As he recovered in a military hospital, the Americans arrested him. They later said the film in his camera suggested he was working for insurgents.
More than five months later, Mr. Hussein is still in an American military prison. The Iraqi criminal authorities have reviewed his case and declined to prosecute him. Colleagues who were with him that day have produced affidavits supporting his innocence. The American military has not released any evidence against him, despite repeated requests for information by CBS producers, lawyers and even the network's president, Andrew Heyward.
Mr. Hussein's case exemplifies a quandary faced by Western news organizations here. Their own reporters are mostly confined to fortified compounds and military bases. As a result, they are forced to rely on Iraqis, who work in increasingly dangerous settings, where the line between observer and participant is not always clear.

The above is from Robert F. Worth's "Detention of Iraqi Employees Angers Western News Media" in this morning's New York Times. I hadn't planned on noting any of the Iraq coverage because it's frustrating to read. (And I think the point's again been made. Since we stepped away from it, we've added new members who weren't aware of why we stepped away to begin with.) I'd say this is a good first step for the paper and for Worth. There are points I could quibble over and maybe I'm just tired (I am tired) but, to this reader, it looks like an effort was made. Both to inform the reader of certain situations and a minor note (if they connect the dots) on the coverage in the paper. Gina still kids me about the "Oprah moments" and she may see this as one (so may others) but this is the first time I've been impressed, on any level, with any reporting coming out of the Green Zone in the paper. Members are free to disagree. If you'd like to weigh in here, remember to note that you can be quoted. (New members, and we've added quite a few in the last two weeks, please note, you can disagree. Privately or here. I could be wrong and often am. Membership has been split before with some of us feeling that it was worth attempting to save PBS and NPR from little big boy Kenny Tom-Tom and some feeling what's the point? Membership has been split with some feeling Miller should name her source and others feeling that regardless of who she is, there is a principle at stake.)

Marcia e-mails to note Pam Belluck's "Massachusetts Rejects Bill to Eliminate Gay Marriage:"

In a sign that the legalization of same-sex marriage has changed the political landscape in Massachusetts, the legislature soundly defeated a proposed constitutional amendment on Wednesday to ban gay marriage and create civil unions, an amendment that lawmakers gave preliminary approval to in a raucous constitutional convention last year.
Wednesday's 157-to-39 vote by a joint session of the House and Senate partly reflected the fact that some legislators now consider same-sex marriage more politically acceptable, after a largely conflict-free year in which some 6,600 same-sex couples got married and lawmakers who supported it got re-elected.
The vote also reflected some lawmakers' reluctance to pass a bill that could either withdraw rights from already married couples or create a class of married gay men and lesbians and a class of those unable to marry.

Apparently wanting some of the good will those TV weather forecasters get (well, they're always so jolly, I assume they're beloved by someone), squad leader Elisabeth Bumiller enlists her Elite Fluff Patrol commrade Richard W. Stevenson to join her as they attempt to tell you what the Bully Boy will say tonight. See there's news, and there's predicting. Bumiller and Stevenson have obviously spent far too much time watching Early Edition repeates on PAX TV. Now what was the editor's excuse? The prediction is called "Speech Is Expected to Focus on Vision for Reconstruction" and this hasn't-happened-yet-and-may-not story is news because "damn it" the Elite Fluff Patrol tells you it is. Or will be. Maybe.

No confirmation yet on whether they'll be writing about who will the Superbowl tomorrow. Stay tuned for that developing story.

Todd S. Purdum has a story (co-written with ) and I'm skipping it. I don't have time to go through the actual results and compare them with the summary in the paper. We once did five entries in one day on how Adam Nagourney and a co-hort skewed the actual polling data. (One example that comes to mind is the attitude towards same-sex relationships. I'm thinking it was Thanksgiving weekend and probably a Monday or Tuesday. Check around the 22nd or the 23rd of November if you're interested.) That poll got a lot of talk, a lot of attention. That poll had serious problems (with questions and with the summary). I don't have the time to go through the data on this one. (I'm not even sure the Times is making the polling data available online.)
But in case someone sees his byline and wonders why we took a pass on Purdum (or Gina feels I'm bursting out with Oprah moments) the reason is I don't have hours to spend going over the questions and the responses (and then comparing them to the summary).

Erika notes this from "National Briefing:"

MICHIGAN: ABORTION LAW RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL A federal district judge has declared unconstitutional a state law intended to ban what it calls partial-birth abortion. In a ruling dated Monday, the judge, Denise Page Hood, ruled that the law placed an "undue burden" on women's right to choose an abortion. The parties in the suit learned of the ruling Wednesday. Judge Hood also said that the law was confusing and vague and that its exceptions for the health or life of the pregnant woman were meaningless and unconstitutional. (AP)

If you're looking for a summary of yesterday's hearings, you can check out Linda Greenhouse's
"In Roberts Hearing, Specter Assails Court" which is a "news analysis." I'm tired this morning, but I'm thinking Greenhouse joined the paper at the end of the seventies (78 or 79) and she must have been grandfathered in which explains why she's one of the few in the news section that isn't required to wear an atheletic cup when reporting (or, in the case of some, when "reporting.")

Yazz e-mails to note Laurie Goodstein's "Vatican to Check U.S. Seminaries on Gay Presence:"

The Vatican document, given to The New York Times yesterday by a priest, surfaces as Catholics await a Vatican ruling on whether homosexuals should be barred from the priesthood.
In a possible indication of the ruling's contents, the American archbishop who is supervising the seminary review said last week that "anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity or has strong homosexual inclinations," should not be admitted to a seminary.
Edwin O'Brien, archbishop for the United States military, told The National Catholic Register that the restriction should apply even to those who have not been sexually active for a decade or more.
American seminaries are under Vatican review as a result of the sexual abuse scandal that swept the priesthood in 2002. Church officials in the United States and Rome agreed that they wanted to take a closer look at how seminary candidates were screened for admission, and whether they were being prepared for lives of chastity and celibacy.

[. . .]
Experts in human sexuality have cautioned that homosexuality and attraction to children are different, and that a disproportionate percentage of boys may have been abused because priests were more likely to have access to male targets - like altar boys or junior seminarians - than to girls.

Still waiting for the New York Times to devote real attention to the Ukraine? They do a little bit, today. But come on, the Times has to wait for the State Dept. to figure out where they stand and between tennis lessons and Spamalot, Condi Rice is busy, busy, busy. Considering their coverage on so many things, maybe it's better that they've relegated the story, primarily, to "World Briefing."

For what's going on, Marcus suggests you check out Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Ukraine's Tarnished Orange Revolution" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

But while there was something exhilirating about the democratic awakening in Kiev and other cities, there was also a good deal of rank hypocrisy on display in Washington, DC. As I wrote then: This Administration celebrates pro-democracy rallies abroad, while showing no respect for America's pro-democracy protesters. And despite the exhiliration as The Guardian's Jonathan Steele noted at the time, "to suggest that [opposition candidate Viktor Yuschenko] would provide a sea-change in Ukrainian politics and economic management is naive."
Just last week, events revealed how political infighting, accusations of corruption and pitched battles over power and property have sullied the democratic hopes of those pro-democracy protesters. The skirmishes also remind us how tough it is to translate people power into viable political change.
For an insightful analysis of the past week's developments in Ukraine--and their significance for the future of a revolution which so galvanized the world's attention--I asked Mark von Hagen, the Boris Bakhmeteff Professor of Russian and Eastern European Studies at Columbia University, for his reflections.

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

Coverage of Day 3 of the confirmation hearing of John Roberts to be the nation's 17th Supreme Court Chief Justice. We'll speak with Ted Shaw, President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Excerpts of tonight's Grapple in the Big Apple: George Galloway and Christopher Hitchens debate the Iraq war and U.S. and British foreign policy

Rod also notes Amy Goodman's upcoming appearances. (I'm tired so I may be wrong but I think the Robert Fisk joint appearances is one we haven't noted here before.)

* Amy Goodman in Birmingham, AL:
Sat, Sept 17
Amy Goodman speaking event:
Hill University Center Alumni Auditorium
14th Street South @ University Blvd
Free and open to the public
Pre-event reception:
Bare Hands Gallery
109 Richard Arrington, Jr. Blvd
4:30-6:30 PM
For more information, visit:
or contact
Diane McNaron,, 205.838.1391
David Gespass, 205.323.5966

* Amy Goodman in Santa Fe, NM:
Mon, Sept 21
Lannan Readings & Conversations
Robert Fisk with Amy Goodman
Lensic Performing Arts Center
211 W. San Francisco St
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Tickets: $6 general public, $3 with student ID
Tickets for each event go on sale the first SATURDAY in the month prior to the event.
By phone: 505.988.1234 (Lensic Box Office), Mon-Sat, 10-5
In person: Lensic Performing Arts Center,
211 W. San Francisco St,
Santa Fe, NM 87501,
Mon-Sat, 10-5
Online: Order tickets online at the Lensic website,

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