Thursday, October 25, 2007

Other Items

As Cedric and Wally noted yesterday, CODEPINK's Desiree Anita Ali-Fairooz was arrested at a Congressional hearing yesterday and other members of CODEPINK were kicked out of the hearing due to Ali-Fairooz' protest aimed at Condi Rice. Apparently, Congress kids itself that Desiree was an interruption of serious business -- the Democratically controlled Congress has done nothing day after day. Maybe Henry Waxman can dash off yet another letter to Condi Rice about that? Or he could just ask her today. John M. Broder's "State Dept. Official Resigns; Oversaw Blackwater and Other Private Guards" which tells you, "Ms. Rice is scheduled to appear Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which has been investigating Blackwater and other security contractors in Iraq." And that's pretty much all the news Broder offers.
Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The 'Fashionable' Condoleeza de Vil" from June 22, 2005.

Portland notes Bambi Lin Litchman's letter to the Seattle Times:

President Bush wants $46 billion more for war in Iraq and Afghanistan ["Iraq war costs: sharpen the pencil," Times editorial, Oct. 24].
Are you kidding? With our stunning national debt? What happened to traditional Republican values like fiscal conservatism?
We have already spent $455 billion in Iraq.
A Scrooge-like president apparently believes there is no money for sick kids, especially sick poor kids, but plenty of money for war, war and more war.
It's one sucker punch after another. If there had ever been WMD in Iraq, if Saddam Hussein had been linked to al-Qaida, perhaps there might be an excuse for the hellish nightmare in Iraq. There is no excuse.
There aren't even enough troops left if we were actually to experience a security crisis in the United States. Does anybody feel a draft?
If the Bush administration cared about national security, it wouldn't have outed CIA agent Valerie Plame to punish her and her husband, Joe Wilson, after he questioned the Iraq war. CIA agents are supposed to be secret. Duh.
National security seems insecure; our constitutional rights are eroded; the budget is bust, and -- oh -- Iran! The drumbeat intensifies.

In this morning's New York Times, James Glanz apparently wants the entire world to never forget how wrong his reporting (with Sabrina Tavernise) was on the September 16th slaughter in Baghdad by Blackwater. He teams with PvZ today for another p.r. blitz that some will mistake as news. It's entitled "Under Siege, Blackwater Takes On Air of Bunker." It tells the story from Blackwater's view because, goodness knows, it's probably been at least a day or two since the paper's done that. Several calls this morning from those serving in and those who have served in Iraq noted that the paper of little record repeatedly ignored the service members, repeatedly acted as if they didn't exist. So it's awfully cute that two reporters for the paper can visit with and e-mail Blackwater employees. They treated US service members like crap (while sucking up to the brass) but they'll move heaven and earth to speak to the mercenaries. And they won't even call them mercenaries which had one friend the most enraged. Blackwater is not the US military so the reporters' drooling over "military jargon" (their term) being used to describe the slaughter really pisses a lot of people off (and should).

As the paper of little record continues to carry the water for Blackwater (minimizing the number dead, scoffing at the initial report by the Iraqi government, 'reporting' on a report from the US Embassay that was actually a report written by Blackwater -- that's all James Glanz and Sabrina Tavernise, by the way), a pattern emerges and possibly people who consider themselves journalists should read the latest sob story (It's hard to be a mercenary in the city, apparently) on the corporation run by the Times with a lot of skepticism. Instead, it's yet again being hailed as breakthrough reporting. This isn't reporting, it's p.r. for Blackwater.

Some are going ga-ga over this: "According to Blackwater employees, the leader of the convoy on Nisour Square was a man known as Hoss. He and two or three other members of the team have returned to the United States because their tours of duty were up or their contract with the company had ended, one employee here said. In Hoss's case, the trip home was to remove shrapnel from a wound he received before the Sept. 16 shootings." That's paragraph 15, so those applauding the story should GROW UP. The article starts on the front page. Paragraph 15 is before anything resembling news (and apparently only single sourced) pops up. For those wondering, it's paragraph seven of A12 when that tidbit pops up. And not before they sneak in "tours of duty." Blackwater does not have "tours of duty." That is so insulting (and, yes, those serving are insulted). It's nothing but a huge p.r. release for Blackwater that attempts to mitigate the murders of Iraqi civlians by telling us, "They're just regular guys -- they like to sunbathe nude!" "Guys" used intentionally.

It's garbage and shame on those so willing to pan for gold that they'll wade into the sewer and praise this garbage. The Times' coverage of Blackwater has been public relations from the start. It's gone beyond one or two mistakes to a pattern of disception and distortion that always seems to favor Blackwater. After the lie that Erik Prince had a crew-cut (he doesn't), there appears to be no lie they won't attempt.

And, again, that bit of news -- apparently single-sourced. The man may or may not be in the US. He may or may not have an injury from before the slaughter. He may or may not have shrapnel. But doesn't it paint a picture of poor Blackwater, poor Blackwater taking shrapnel, why, they are just like the US military . . . No, they're not. And this nonsense needs to be called out. The Times continues to fluff Blackwater.

And when you've been as wrong as Glanz (or Tavernise) so often, a real paper would assign you to other stories -- but then a real paper would have run corrections, now wouldn't they?

As Ruth noted yesterday, NPR began a three-part series today on wounded US service members. Morning Edition and All Things Considered today have parts one and two and part three airs on Friday's Morning Edition.

Friday (on most PBS stations), NOW with David Brancaccio airs:

In August, NOW traveled with an unlikely alliance of Evangelical Christians and leading scientists to witness the breathtaking effects of global warming on Alaska's rapidly-changing environment. Though many in the Evangelical community feel recognition of global warming is in opposition to their mission, the week-long trip inspired new thinking on the relationship between science and religion, and on our moral responsibility to protect the planet.
On Friday, October 26 at 8:30 pm (check local listings), travel with NOW and the expeditionary group on a breathtaking and surprising journey to find common ground between Earth
and sky.
"Despite having some differences on some well known issues, our two communities clearly shared a deep and fundamental reverence for life on Earth and a profound concern about what human activity was doing to it." write Dr. Eric Chivian and Reverend Richard Cizik for NOW.
At NOW Online, read an essay co-authored by the Nobel Peace Prize-winning scientist and the Evangelical leader, both of whom were on the trip. Also see amazing photographs from their journey.

Lastly, Skip notes this from Australi's Herald Sun:

And Prime Minister John Howard says the tensions on the Turkey-Iraq border will not help the west's battle for democracy in Iraq.
Mr Howard said there was some recent evidence that US forces were making headway in their battle against al-Qaeda in Iraq following the US troop surge.
"There is some evidence in recent weeks that the surge has been more successful than many of its critics wanted it to be or believe it would be," Mr Howard told an army land warfare conference in Adelaide today.

Skip: "He is our Bully Boy and we're all hoping he's sent into retirement as a result of the elections. A small tyrant who struts and preens."

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