Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Other Items

Rachel e-mails to note Joel Brinkley's "Rice Reaches Pact on Keeping Central Asia Base" in this morning's New York Times:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meeting with the new leaders of Kyrgyzstan, reached agreement on Tuesday on long-term rights to maintaining an air base here for servicing military aircraft on missions to Afghanistan.
The United States and allied forces may continue to use the base, adjacent to the international airport here, "until the situation in Afghanistan is completely stabilized," President Kurmanbek S. Bakiyev said at a news conference.

Rachel: Which means never. We'll be there for ever because Bully Boy Bush likes to start things, he just can't see them through.

Trey e-mails to note Linda Greenhouse's "Supreme Court Takes Up 2 Cases Challenging Powers of U.S. Regulators to Protect Wetlands:"

The Supreme Court accepted two cases on the federal regulation of wetlands on Tuesday, bringing the court's federalism revolution into the heartland of environmental policy.
[. . .]
While arising under a different environmental law, the new cases present an issue similar to one that gained some attention during the Senate confirmation hearings for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
As a federal appeals court judge, the new chief justice had voted in dissent to grant a new hearing in a case brought under the Endangered Species Act. The question in that case, Rancho Viejo LLC v. Norton, was whether the federal government could constitutionally assert jurisdiction to protect a species of toad that exists only in California and has no commercial uses.

Marcia wonders about a story (that she asks that we not link to since it's so "hideously written") where we're told of two parents disputing custody of the remains of their son who died in Iraq. (Disputing who gets custody of the remains.) Marcia points out that they lead with "allegations of abuse" but wonders why, if the police visited the house many times, as the writers tell you, they are "allegations." Marcia wonders why the reporters (there are two on the byline) don't tell you why the police were called to the home many times before the divorce.

Some may feel sympathy for the Times "bind" re: the Miller case. There's hopefully no reason for anyone to feel sympathy when they read David Johnston's "Times Reporter to Testify on Recently Found Notes." Buried well into the article, readers are told that Bully Boy, on Today, refused to answer questions about the outing of Valerie Plame:

Asked about the case in an appearance on the NBC News program "Today" on Tuesday, Mr. Bush declined to comment.

That's paragraph nine (check my math). While on the other hand (see previous entry), Laura Bush emerging from her coma offers up "sexism" and that's big news, that's a lead? Bully Boy refused ("declined") to answer. That's news. That's real news. But apparently the Times can only realize that if a president declines to answer questions about his private sex life. I'm not big on quoting or noting their Plame coverage these days (which is all centered around Miller) because I'm, frankly, sick of the corrections page (and was glad to know when I saw the Monday "correction" that I hadn't quoted them in an entry). It's a funny kind of correction page that never tells you when a book reviewer got the facts wrong (such as missing a passage in the book that the reviewer hectors the author for not knowing about) but it implies sloppiness and not just reluctance on their part when they're correcting dates to Judith Miller's notes. Anyone can make a mistake but with regards to the Miller issues, when they can't even the basic facts right, it demonstrates sloppy oversight. They know they're watched for this coverage and they should get the basic facts right. There shouldn't be a need for a correction on dates.

There also shouldn't need to be anyone from outside the Times pointing out that when Bully Boy refuses to comment, that's news. That's not bury it in down in the story, that's lead with it. That the same Today appearance results in two stories allows you to see how screwed the paper's understanding of news is. Laura Bush yacking on about a nominee isn't news if Bully Boy's refusal to address an issue isn't lead with it news.

Let's hop in the time machine and pretend that was Bill Clinton and the year was 1998. Headline from the Times would probably read:

President Refuses to Answer Questions About Ongoing Investigation.

(Subheading would probably be something about Lewinsky.)

That's your headline, that's your lead. That's what happened yesterday. Not what Judy did or what she said or what Bill Keller did or what Bill Keller said. Miller is a side issue (unless the Times knows something we don't). The news of the day was that the Bully Boy refused to answer when asked about the issues surrounding the outing of Valerie Plame, an outing currently under investigation. Everytime he refuses to answer, that is news. If it happens twenty days in a row, it's news. "Day 20, Bully Boy Continues to Refuse to Answer Questions About Ongoing Investigation."

They bungled the Miller aspect all along, you'd think by now, they'd want to get the larger story correct. But it's still All About Judy and real news gets buried in the story. There is an ongoing investigation, the occupant of the oval office refused to answer questions about it. That's news.
Is it surprising? It doesn't matter, the news often isn't surprising. But when he refuses to answer, that's news. If Johnston didn't grasp that (and he may have, this may have been rewritten) the editor should have grasped it. Instead, because of all the back patting to Douglas Jehl for doing the basics, we've got another "Where is Judy!" story.

Miller's not the news for today's paper. The news is that Bully Boy refused to discuss the issue when asked to on national television.

[Again, I will note, I am not slamming Jehl for doing his job in the article where he attempted to get a quote from Keller. I am saying that is what the reporters covering that type of story are supposed to do. Instead of seeing it as him doing his job, there are attempts to turn Jehl into a hero for it. Which is why we end up with more nonsense today about what Keller said -- nothing -- and what Miller's attorney said -- nothing. Jehl did his job. Good for him. I'm always accused, by whining reporters who e-mail, of favoring him and overly praising him. If he does something worthy of praise, we'll note it here. In the case of attempting to get Keller to go on the record, he did his job. But when he gets praised for that you end up with other articles like this where the focus isn't the news but "I covered my bases!" Good for you. And hopefully you'll do so every day. But there's not any real news in your base covering -- or that you covered the bases -- the news was that Bully Boy refused to address the issue on national television.]

From The Independent, we'll note Kim Sengumpta's "Basra voters say it is time for soldiers to go:"

"I felt proud that the Iraqi police had arrested the British soldiers, it is our country and our laws should be obeyed", said Zainab.
Her colleague Fatima added: "I do not like seeing foreign soldiers on our streets, they should go."
What is surprising about these views in Basra is that they came from two educated, middle class women speaking fluent English who have frequent contact with the British and have little sympathy for the Shia militia who have infiltrated the Iraqi police.
In fact, the women admit they are very wary of the same police who had arrested two British special forces soldiers, triggering a rescue mission in which British forces smashed their way into a police station.
Their sentiments, echoed by others, do reflect, however, the new, public mood of defiance and nationalism among the Shia of Iraq as they prepare for power for the first time in 100 years.

(You can also check out Ben Russell's "UK offers payout for victims of Basra raid" from The Independent.)

Eddie e-mails to note Christopher Hayes' "Opening the Lines: While federal communications flopped, a small band of wireless technicians helped Katrina victims reconnect with the world" (In These Times):

Explain to me briefly what a wireless ISP is.
So let's say, you live in rural Louisiana. Maybe you have dial-up that works but you’re never going to have broadband.
Why not?
Because it doesn't make economic sense for the telecom companies to physically bury the cable and run it out to these rural communities where there’s just not enough density. I mean, there are places that still don't have cable TV.
In a lot of ways, these small, independent wireless ISP's are CNT's brothers as far as the digital divide goes. They've recognized a fundamental need for information and access, and realized that it’s not going to come any other way unless they do it. So there was a really kindred spirit between us and the folks down there, which was good because at first I thought there might be a little bit of a clash.

Krista e-mails to note Nina Siegal's "Viggo Mortensen Interview" (The Progressive):

Question: Why did you decide to go down to Camp Casey and join Cindy Sheehan?
Viggo Mortensen: I went in the first week, when there were only a few people down there. She was being so maligned and dragged through the mud. I thought the best thing to do was just to go and listen to her and make up my own mind. If you're someone who is a public figure, if you make too much of it, the risk is that you can be seen as just trying to get attention for yourself. So I intentionally went down without saying I was coming. No one even saw me getting out of the car, and before anyone knew it I was just standing in front of her. I stayed very briefly, and she was nice enough to give me a little of her time.
Q: What did you talk about?
Mortensen: Well, first of all, I just said, respectfully, I'm sorry about your son, and I said thank you for some of the things you’ve said and for bringing attention to the issue, for keeping this topic alive. I left there really impressed with her, with her integrity and sincerity.
I also had a sense of just how threatening someone like this would be to people who are used to running the show, in terms of perception and media information--or disinformation. It’s like she pulled an end around just by being herself, a relatively ordinary woman displaying extraordinary courage and being quite eloquent and brave, knowing she’s being savaged and hearing it and standing up to it and having her say as an individual and as a woman. The fact that she was a woman--how could this little woman do that to us?--it just galled them. I thought, good for you.

Rod doesn't know the topic for today's Democracy Now! but passes on these upcoming appearances for Amy Goodman's Un-embed the Media tour:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Sat, Oct 15
NewLife Expo
New Yorker Hotel
34th St. and 8th Ave.
New York, NY
Keynote speech
For tickets and more information, visit:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Sun, Oct 16
2005 Annual Fall Party
Dos Pueblos:
NY-Tipitapa (Nicaragua) Sister City Project
503 West 120 Street (between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway)
New York, NY
Music by John Fisher, Jim Rogers, and Ben Silver

Dahr Jamial also has an upcoming events (he has several and we'll note them later in the week but this is the first of the upcoming events):

October 19, 2005
Santa Cruz, CA

Dahr Jamail "Dispatches From Iraq" - Presentation at UCSC
Location: University of California, Santa Cruz.
UCSC Music Recital Hall.
Date and Time: Wednesday, October 19, 2005 7 PM
For more information
Download the flier

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