Saturday, May 13, 2006

NYT: In a Dispute, Army Cancels Rebuilding Contract in Iraq" (Glanz and Rhode)

Juso Sinanovic, a 47-year-old carpenter from northern Bosnia, died on April 17 of natural causes. His body arrived on Thursday in the northern town of Djurdevik.
"Daddy is back, and this is the only thing I lived for these last days," his daughter, Jasmina Sinanovic, 21, said. "We were waiting for so long to give him a proper burial."
Sinanovic's body was sent to Australia instead of that of Private Jake Kovco, 25, the first Australian serviceman to die on duty in Iraq since the US-led war began in 2003.

The above is from the Associated Press' "Bosnian man's body returns home" (Sydney Morning Herald) and Skip noted it. The New York Times has never been interested in the stories of Sinanovic or Kovco so we'll open with it. Iraq's not given much play in this morning's New York Times at all.

James Glanz and David Rhode contribute "In A Dispute, Army Cancels Rebuilding Contract in Iraq" which is hard to get excited about. The article is an officials say. Might officials also need to say that not only has Parsons (who lost their contract) done a poor job rebuilding hospitals in Iraq (that's a mild way to describe the tragedy) but the officials provided no real oversight? That's reality. It's easy to get outraged (and people should be) that Parson won a $243 million contract and "that just 20 of the original 150 clinics" can be "completed without new financing."
But where was the oversight? The administration launched the invasion three years ago. Why only now is it an issue that there's a lot of money being shoved in pockets but nothing to show for it?

The article would also benefit from an awareness of Dahr Jamail's study (PDF format "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" -- summarized here) but it's probably too much to expect that Green Zone reporters read the work of the non-embeds. (It's probably a mobility envy thing.) They do mention ("last year") the work of Ali Fadhill but his work was televised which is probably much easier than reading.

Probably for readers of the Times this is an amazing article because this is really the first they're learning of it. For those who know to go elsewhere for the news, it's disappointing. (Possibly increasing the size of the article -- the topic should indicate it should be longer and front-paged -- would have allowed Glanz and Rhode a stronger article.)

Diana Jean Schemo contributes "Protests Continue at University for Deaf" which is about the protests over the selection of Jane K. Fernandes as president of Gallaudet University after a limited search and criticisms of Ferandes' approach and experiences. Fernandes, Schemo notes, has been "criticized . . . as aloof." Meeting with groups of teachers and students while making statements like "I'm not here to get your vote" probably won't help dispell that image.

Mark Mazzetti and David Johnston contribute "C.I.A. Aide's House and Office Searched" covers Kyle "Dusty" Foggo (the Times leaves out "Dusty" -- it's always hilarious to watch the Times rename whether it's Spiro or Scooter) the latest on the contracting fraud scandal that's already landed Randy Cunningham a conviction and has Foggo stepping down from his position (though not quitting the CIA as some might think). From the article:

Current and former intelligence officials said they could not recall another time in the 59-year history of the agency that a senior official like Mr. Foggo was involved in a criminal investigation. Intelligence officials said that although Mr. Foggo had resigned as executive director, he remained an agency employee, but without access to headquarters.

On the front page, John Markoff tackles "Questions Raised For Phone Giants In Spy Data Furor:"

The former chief executive of Qwest, the nation's foruth-largest phone company, rebuffed government requests for the company's calling records after 9/11 because of "a distinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process," his lawyer said yesterday.
The statement on behalf of the former Qwest executive, Joseph P. Nacchio, follwed a report that the other big phone comanies -- AT&T, Bell-South and Verizon -- had compiled with an effort by the National Security Agency to build a vast databse of calling records, without warrants, to increase its surveillance capabilities after the Sept. 11 attacks.

While an improvement over yesterday's coverage (it abandons what can best be characterized as "Sweet, sweet, sweet the sting" -- with a nod to Tori Amos and The Beekeeper), questions in e-mails indicate that there's some confusion. I spent some of the morning on the phone with friends who work at various phone companies. If you're using a "Bell-ette," you were effected. Let's say you go through 1888GETAPHONE (made up company), that's not a phone company proper in that it has its own equipment. So if you're not with Qwest but didn't see your phone company listed, you may be thinking (falsely) that you weren't effected. If you're using some form of a Bell-ette, your service provider is likely using a bigger company (AT&T, etc.) because they are the ones with equipment and lines.

A number of members wrote about their service providers. I was able to find out about all but one (Sam's) and, in those instances, you're being routed through either AT&T, Bell-South or Verizon. (Sam, you've got an e-mail asking if your company has a longer name, full name.) So, unless you're with Qwest, a good rule of thumb is to assume that your own calls were caught up in the spy net. (I was told flat out by three friends that unless you're with Qwest, regardless of what the name of your service provider was, you are in the net.)

The article speaks of "pen register or trap and trace information" and I was told that in earlier decades these would be "toll slips." For authorites to seize toll slips (records of calls placed and received, either written by an operator or printed on a roll of tape) they did need to go through channels. Bully Boy has circumvented that process. The fact that we're no longer dealing with a hard copy (or "wet document") shouldn't alter the guidelines the government would need to follow if it were an instance of getting information on calls placed and received on one line or on millions.

That's the Times. Besides those phone calls, I also got to hear Betty's latest, "The joke is always Thomas Friedman. Always." It's very funny and you should read it. (If you're one of the lucky ones who avoids Thomas Friedman's column, Wednesday he was again scaring the United States about the dangers in store from other countries including Russia which is the country Betty's focusing on in her latest chapter.) I then stopped in the middle of this entry when Trina called. She was nervous about her entry but it's perfect. Make a point to read "Popcorn in the Kitchen." And I'm leaving the time on this for when I started the entry. Which was almost three hours ago. She's addressing a topic that was alluded to here and one that a number of members want explored more, so read her entry.

Also remember this from CODEPINK:

Declare peace on Mother's Day with CODEPINK! We will be gathering in Washington DC for a 24-hour vigil outside the White House on May 13-14, and will be joined by amazing celebrity actresses, singers, writers, and moms, including Cindy Sheehan, Patch Adams, and Susan Sarandon! Bring your mother, children, grandmothers, friends, and loved ones. We will be honoring the mothers of the fallen by sending them organic roses. Click here to send your rose! We're also writing letters to Laura Bush to appeal to her own mother-heart, turning them into a book, "Letters to Laura." For event info click here, read our blogs and check out our online store for gift ideas.

Kat posts her review later today. After the flack I got last week for steering to something outside the community, I won't steer to another thing. (Not complaining, but again, I just gave a heads up to something that happens on Fridays, I had no idea what was scheduled.) That'll become clear tomorrow but if you're reading this and thinking I've forgotten something, I haven't. (I do know what's scheduled and, if you do as well, you know why I'm not highlighting it.)

Seems like there's something else (something I may be actually forgetting). The e-mail address for this site is