Sunday, January 29, 2006

NYT: Sabrina Tavernise has news on Christian Peacemaker Teams kidnapped four in Iraq

Four Western peace advocates abducted in November were shown in a videotape broadcast Saturday, and their captors renewed their threat to kill the hostages if all Iraqi prisoners were not set free.
[. . .]
The tape, bearing the date Jan. 21, was broadcast on a day when at least 13 Iraqis were killed in attacks in Baghdad and south of the capital.
Al Jazeera said the video came with a statement from the kidnappers, the Swords of Truth, saying the men would be killed if the authorities did not release all Iraqi prisoners. The aid group, Christian Peacemaker Teams, has identified the four men as Norman Kember, 74, of London; Tom Fox, 54, of Clearbrook, Va.; James Loney, 41, of Toronto; and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32, also a Canadian. They were kidnapped on Nov. 26.

The above is from Sabrina Tavernise's "Captors in Iraq Renew Threat to Kill 4 From Peace Group" in this morning's New York Times. That's what we'll note first.

The next note is a lengthy article on Haiti where the Times attempts to play catch up and attempts to do so in its timid pose. It's a long article. Here's an excerpt from Walt Bogdanich and Jenny Nordberg's "Mixed U.S. Signals Helped Tilt Haiti Toward Chaos:"

Yet even as Haiti prepares to pick its first elected president since the rebellion two years ago, questions linger about the circumstances of Mr. Aristide's ouster -- and especially why the Bush administration, which has made building democracy a centerpiece of its foreign policy in Iraq and around the world, did not do more to preserve it so close to its shores.
The Bush administration has said that while Mr. Aristide was deeply flawed, its policy was always to work with him as Haiti's democratically elected leader.
But the administration's actions in Haiti did not always match its words. Interviews and a review of government documents show that a democracy-building group close to the White House, and financed by American taxpayers, undercut the official United States policy and the ambassador assigned to carry it out.
As a result, the United States spoke with two sometimes contradictory voices in a country where its words carry enormous weight. That mixed message, the former American ambassador said, made efforts to foster political peace "immeasurably more difficult." Without a political agreement, a weak government was destabilized further, leaving it vulnerable to the rebels.
Mr. [Brian Dean] Curran accused the democracy-building group, the International Republican Institute, of trying to undermine the reconciliation process after disputed 2000 Senate elections threw Haiti into a violent political crisis. The group's leader in Haiti, Stanley Lucas, an avowed Aristide opponent from the Haitian elite, counseled the opposition to stand firm, and not work with Mr. Aristide, as a way to cripple his government and drive him from power, said Mr. Curran, whose account is supported in crucial parts by other diplomats and opposition figures. Many of these people spoke publicly about the events for the first time.
Mr. Curran, a 30-year Foreign Service veteran and a Clinton appointee retained by President Bush, also accused Mr. Lucas of telling the opposition that he, not the ambassador, represented the Bush administration's true intentions.

Now obviously, Bully Boy wanted Aristide gone. That's been reported elsewhere (including at length on Democracy Now!) but the Timid can't come out and state the obvious. Why are they bothering to say this much now? They have an official source and you know how the paper loves those. Add in the fact that, though they've failed to tell their readers this, they were using the work of a "reporter" -- Regine Alexandre -- who also worked for the National Endowment for Democracy. Alexandre was a stringer who contributed to at least two published stories in the Times. The paper hasn't made too much of a big deal about it. There's been no exploration of that issue the way they explored Jayson Blair's false reporting. But Alexandre's moonlight for NED more than calls into question her "objectivity" that the Times so prizes. The Associated Press did make public statements on this. Alexandre will no longer be a reporter for them.

For more on Alexandre see Anthony Fenton & Dennis Bernstein's "Denial in Haiti" (Consortium News).

Last highlight, Andrew C. Revkin's "Climate Expert Says NASA Tried to Silence Him:"

The top climate scientist at NASA says the Bush administration has tried to stop him from speaking out since he gave a lecture last month calling for prompt reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases linked to global warming.
The scientist, James E. Hansen, longtime director of the agency's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said in an interview that officials at NASA headquarters had ordered the public affairs staff to review his coming lectures, papers, postings on the Goddard Web site and requests for interviews from journalists.
Dr. Hansen said he would ignore the restrictions. "They feel their job is to be this censor of information going out to the public," he said.

And now they censor Hansen. Here's one example:

In one call, George Deutsch, a recently appointed public affairs officer at NASA headquarters, rejected a request from a producer at National Public Radio to interview Dr. Hansen, said Leslie McCarthy, a public affairs officer responsible for the Goddard Institute.
Citing handwritten notes taken during the conversation, Ms. McCarthy said Mr. Deutsch called N.P.R. "the most liberal" media outlet in the country. She said that in that call and others, Mr. Deutsch said his job was "to make the president look good" and that as a White House appointee that might be Mr. Deutsch's priority.
But she added: "I'm a career civil servant and Jim Hansen is a scientist. That's not our job. That's not our mission. The inference was that Hansen was disloyal."

NPR "the most liberal"? Really, Deutsch needs to get out more. And on public radio, I can't get into the accounts again. We've got Isaiah this morning because he now sends to the members account as well as two of my e-mail accounts to make sure that it gets through. So we do have a The World Today Just Nuts. I'm not sure Ruth's up this early and I'm not going to risk waking her. Dallas is attempting to get into the public account and, if he can, he'll post Ruth's latest otherwise it will go up this evening or tomorrow morning. Her choice.

The e-mail address for this site is And Dave Zirin will be one of the guests on RadioNation with Laura Flanders today. (So make a point to listen. When I checked the members account earlier -- to post Maria's entry, there were a number of e-mails on a guest who didn't impress me, who never impresses me, on yesterday's show. We heard it and we address him at The Third Estate Sunday Review so watch for that to go up later this morning. And to be clear for anyone who missed the broadcast, the problem is with the guest, not with Flanders. She asked questions, he just seemed unable/unwilling to listen. Ava and I have an opening sentence to our TV review and that's all. We hope to finish it and have a review; however, I've got about thirty minutes before I need to leave to meet up with a group I'm speaking to this morning. The plan is for entries this evening but I'm not promising anything.)