Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Other Items

Two marines were killed and at least nine wounded in ambushes and fierce street battles on Monday as thousands of American and Iraqi troops stormed Ubaydi, a riverside town near the Syrian border that American commanders say has become a haven for foreign jihadists.
At least one Iraqi Army soldier and two Iraqi civilians were also wounded in the clashes, officials said.
The operation was a continuation of a sweep in the area that began Nov. 5 and resistance appeared to be as stiff as anything the Americans have faced in western Anbar Province.

The above tells you all the facts from Kirk Semple and Edward Wong's "U.S.-Iraqi Assault Meets Resistance Near Syrian Border" in this morning's New York Times. There's more in the article but nothing to indicate that the two writers observed it. Some appears fed by the military, some by a stringer. So the thing is, since the stringers risk their lives outside the Green Zone, is it really fair to reduce them to end credits?

If it's a "safety issue," is the assumption that the insurgency wouldn't read down to the end credits? They name stringers in the end credits. So how can Semple and Wong, for instance today, take credit for an article with three paragraphs on Ubaydi when they weren't there. The end credits tell you that Johan Spanner was. I'm not seeing any big difference between this and Rick Bragg or, for that matter, Judith Miller. Semple and Wong take credit for reporting on Ubaydi but neither was there. This isn't an "end credit" thing. Spanner's there, the information in the article comes from him. Either identify him in the text ("Spanner reports . . .") or put him the byline. The Times lost a stringer and treated it as news (it was). If they want to show respect for the people doing the work on the ground, they need to give credit -- not just after the fact. Credit isn't an "end credit." Credit is a byline or a mention within the text of the story.

Carl Hulse writes about a plan to get the troops out of Iraq in "Senate Republicans Pushing for a Plan on Ending the War in Iraq:"

In a sign of increasing unease among Congressional Republicans over the war in Iraq, the Senate is to consider on Tuesday a Republican proposal that calls for Iraqi forces to take the lead next year in securing the nation and for the Bush administration to lay out its strategy for ending the war.
The Senate is also scheduled to vote Tuesday on a compromise, announced Monday night, that would allow terror detainees some access to federal courts. The Senate had voted last week to prohibit those being held from challenging their detentions in federal court, despite a Supreme Court ruling to the contrary.
Senator Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who is the author of the initial plan, said Monday that he had negotiated a compromise that would allow detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to challenge their designation as enemy combatants in federal courts and also allow automatic appeals of any convictions handed down by the military where detainees receive prison terms of 10 years or more or a death sentence.

Let's file this under believe it when it happens. Not the "plan." Not it being "passed." Elaine and I have said for some time that with the 2006 elections approaching, the occupation so unpopular with the people, a "secret plan" would be announced by Bully Boy. His arrogance has apparently forced Repubes in the Senate to step up first.

I don't want a bumper sticker analysis of the "plan." Before the press trumpets it in headlines, they better examine every detail. (Provided it passes.)

Are the Republicans sincere? Who knows? But the Democrats aren't even pretending at this point. (There are individuals who break the silence on this issue, and certainly in the House we see bravery and leadership, but I'm speaking of those in supposed leadership roles as well as the bulk of the Dems in Congres.)

Maybe the Repubes are sincere? But this trick's been played before, "We'll be out next year!", and Congress passing a slogan isn't going to solve anything (but the election "crisis" faced in November of 2006). Sound cynical? Nixon's "peace plan" seems to be echoing here.

Lisa e-mails to note David S. Cloud's "Pentagon's Fuel Deal Is Lesson in Risks of Graft-Prone Regions:"

Soon after the American invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, the Pentagon opened an air base in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and made a deal to get jet fuel from the only two suppliers in the country. The companies just happened to be linked to relatives of the country's president.
[. . .]
But the case also illustrates the risks of alliances with nations that are unstable and rife with corruption. Mr. Akayev's abrupt departure in March has put the Pentagon in an awkward bind. It needs continued access to the base, but the $207 million spent on fuel contracts has created resentment among the country's new leaders, some of whom contend that the United States knew where the proceeds were going.

Martha e-mails to note Danny Schechter's "A Time to Change: The Media Debates Itself" (Common Dreams):

Judith Miller's "retirement" from the New York Times is a sign of how public opinion forced even Establishment organs like the "newspaper of record" to make a break with a favored prize-winning journalist who finally admitted to have erred in her reporting from Iraq. What's significant is that many of the letters to the editor of the Times don't just indict her performance but instead turn on the failings of her editors and overlords. They indict the whole institution.
For the most part, except from some utterances by TV network news executives--two of whom are now gone--has been silent on these issues. But even the TV world is reading the tealeaves and having long overdue discussions about its own failings.
I have just returned from the international NewsXChange ("For broadcasters by Broadcasters") in Amsterdam attended by 450 newspeople from 40 countries. 70 members of the Eurovision News Exchange and the 29 members of European News Exchange (ENEX), the co-operative of commercial broadcasters were there. In addition, participants included major international broadcast news agencies and networks like Reuters and the AP as well as ITN, BBC, CNN International and Al Jazeera. CBS and ABC had a smaller presence while NBC, Fox, CNN domestic and Bloomberg were M.I.A. Globalvision/Mediachannel.org was one of the only smaller independents present.
I expected lots of self-congratulatory conversation but was amazed to find hard- hitting debates and candid challenges to the way big stories get covered. Sure, there were lots of networking and cocktail parties but most of the focus was serious and substantive.

Lloyd e-mails to note Ruth Conniff's "The Bernie Bashers Gear Up" (Ruth Conniff's Weekly Column, The Progressive):

Perhaps the most exciting Senate candidate in the nation is the independent, Socialist Congressman from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.
Sanders is the real thing. A champion of his low-income, rural constituents--the dairy farmers and working poor of Vermont--and a star among Burlington progressives, Sanders has a compellingly straightforward way of talking about politics. And he has been tackling the problems that affect working families in a no-nonsense way. He was the first member of Congress to take a busload of constituents across the border to buy drugs in Canada, and he has had frequent, confrontational debates with Alan Greenspan when the former chairman of the Federal Reserve appeared before Congress.
When I interviewed Sanders recently for The Progressive, he warned that the Republicans' mounting troubles do not spell easy victory for the Democrats, who need to become more of a real opposition. As for the left, he urged liberals and progressives of all stripes to get out and talk to people who don't already agree with us. "We are right on the issues," he said, but the social and cultural divide is ours to bridge.
Of the Republican campaign against him, which was then just shaping up, Sanders said: "If you look at what they did to Max Cleland and what they did to John Kerry, we have a pretty good idea of what they can do. It’s the politics of personal destruction. They are incapable of debating issues, because their positions on all of the issues are horrendous. Their style has always been to try to personally destroy whom they run against. So we expect a great deal of negativity."

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

* We look at the issue of torture. We talk to a former army interrogator who alleges that the military routinely engaged in torture in Iraq.

And the Un-Embed the Media tour continues:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Wed, Nov 16
Wal-Mart: The Face of 21st Century Capitalism?
Panel discussion moderated by Amy Goodman,
featuring Nelson Lichtenstein,
Bethany Moreton,
Dan Cantor
and Liza Featherstone,
followed by a screening of the new Robert Greenwald film,
Wal-Mart: the High Cost of Low Prices.
New School University
65 W. 11th
(entrance at 66 W. 12th)
Wollman Hall 5th Floor
Enter at 66 W. 12th,
proceed through courtyard to elevator in adjacent building,
65 W. 11th.
Email reservations to: boxoffice@newschool.edu
Tickets can be ordered by phone with a credit card (212) 229-5488,
in person at The New School Box Office,
66 West 12th Street,
main floor,
Monday-Thursday 1-8 p.m.,
Friday 1-7 p.m.
Most events are FREE to all students and TNS alumni with ID.

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Mon, Nov 21
New School University
Graduate Program in International Affairs
Wollman Hall,
5th floor
66 West 12th St.
(between 6 and 5th Aves).
Event is free and open to the public

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