Friday, May 01, 2009

2 US Marines, 1 US Sailor killed in Iraq

This morning the US military announces: "AL ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq – Two Marines and one sailor were killed while conducting combat operations against enemy forces here April 30. The names of the service members are being withheld pending next-of-kin notification and release by the Department of Defense." The announcement brings to 4281 the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war. CNN observes that April is the deadliest month for US service members in Iraq so far this year, "In April, 18 U.S. troops died in Iraq, according to a CNN count of reported troop fatalities. Sixteen of those troops died in combat." 18 is the current total but it is not uncommon for an announcement or two to surface a few days after the start of the month -- meaning 18 may or may not be the final count for April.

Of the deaths, Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) observes, "Anbar is an overwhelmingly Sunni province that was the center of the insurgency in Iraq until tribal leaders joined forces with the American military and Iraqi government against Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and other extremists in 2006 and 2007. Since then the province has been one of the more stable in the country." Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) provides this context: "The spike in American casualties coincides with a rise in civilian deaths. They come as the U.S. military is retrenching from urban areas, leaving Iraqi security forces in the lead, and as insurgents are stepping up attacks designed to discredit the Iraqi government and the U.S. military."

Nancy Youssef is on the radio today (see later in this entry). She also offers "Surge in violence won't delay U.S. withdrawal from Iraq" (McClatchy Newspapers):

The Obama administration is determined to continue withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq on schedule, despite a surge of violence in two Iraqi cities that shows no signs of abating and could increase in the weeks ahead, administration and military officials said this week.
"We are not even talking about" changing the withdrawal plan, an administration official told McClatchy. "The situation would have to get a lot worse for that to change."

The above is lousy journalism. No one, repeating NO ONE, has to go off record to say an administration is doing what it says it's doing. It's bad journalism. No confidentiality should have been granted for these statements. It's puff and fluff and Youssef's too smart for it but has done an amazing number of these pieces of late. For those who've forgotten, McClatchy was Knight Ridder and though Knight Ridder enjoys a glossed over history these days, it is true that they didn't rely on the unsourced, unnamed to the degree that the rest of the news outlets did in the lead up to the illegal war. Apparently when it was bought out and became McClatchy, unsourced and unnamed became the new mode of journalism for the outlet.

TV notes. NOW on PBS lays down with big business:

How is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan going to spend $100 billion in stimulus money -- almost twice the education budget -- to fix our nation's schools? During his seven years running Chicago's public schools, Duncan went head to head with the teacher's union and skeptical parents by closing down low-performing schools, getting rid of all the teachers, principals, even the janitors, and reopening them with new staffs as "turnaround schools."
It's a drastic step, but the results have been promising. This week, NOW travels to Chicago to investigate the collateral damage of a top-to-bottom school makeover, and to get a glimpse of what the future of education might look like for the rest of the country.
"We have to be willing to experience a little bit of pain and discomfort, but our children desperately need it and deserve it," Secretary Duncan tells NOW. "Just as we have to do it, unions have to change, principals have to change, teachers have to change, parents have to step up... business as usual is not going to get us there."

Arne's a joke, he's not an education guru, he destroyed Chicago's schools and he also brought the military on campus. Don't expect to hear any of that from NOW. This week's program starts stinking up most PBS stations tonight. Check local listings to avoid this toxic stink. Much easier to stomach is Washington Week which also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations (check local listings) and finds Gwen sitting around the table with Spencer Hsu (Washington Post), Alexis Simendinger (National Journal), David Wessel (Wall St. Journal) and Jeff Zeleny (New York Times). Expect some easy-breezy Cover Girl makeup 'analysis' of Arlen Specter and a ton of bad jokes. (Seriously, expect a ton of bad jokes.) Also on PBS (and starts airing tonight on many PBS stations, check local listings), Bonnie Erbe sits down with Bay Buchanan, Donna Edwards, Princella Smith and Jessica Valenti to discuss this week's news on To The Contrary. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

Amazon Crude
Ecuadorians are suing oil giant Chevron, the owner of Texaco, because they say oil drilling in the Amazon jungle by Texaco polluted their fragile environment. Scott Pelley reports.
Reeducating Osama Bin Laden's Disciples
Saudi Arabia, the native country of most of the 9/11 terrorists, says it is attempting to change the mindsets of jhadists formerly loyal to Osama bin Laden through a re-education program. David Martin reports. | Watch Video
All In The Family
The Antinoris have been in the wine business for 600 years – maybe the oldest family business on earth -- reports Morley Safer, from its vineyards in Tuscany, Italy. | Watch Video
60 Minutes, Sunday, May 3, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Expect domestic affairs on the first hour of NPR's Diane Rehm Show when she's joined by Dante Chinni (Christian Science Monitor), Lynn Sweet (Chicago Sun-Times) and Michael Duffy. The second hour will be the international landscape and Iraq should be addressed then. Her panel for the second hour is Michael Hirsh (Newsweek), Nancy Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) and Martin Walker (UPI). The Diane Rehm Show begins broadcasting today at 10:00 a.m. on most NPR stations and live streaming at the same time. They note that archived broadcasts of the show are usually available after an hour after the show is over; however, it's usually no more than 15 minutes after the show is done. You can stream live or stream the archives at no charge. And the show is live, meaning you can call-in, e-mail or Twitter with questions and comment throughout the broadcast.

It's Friday and NPR continues its tradition of live concerts this afternoon:

Live Friday: Peter Bjorn And John In Concert

Listen Online At Noon ET

Peter Bjorn and John 300
courtesy of the artist

Peter Bjorn and John.

WXPN, April 30, 2009 - The Swedish indie-pop band Peter Bjorn and John found a huge wave of success a few years ago, thanks to the endlessly catchy single "Young Folks." Now, it looks to build on that momentum with the release of a darker pop record called Living Thing. Return to this space at noon ET Friday to hear the group perform live in concert from WXPN and World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

The group got its start playing together in high school, and became official in 1999, when Peter Moren, Bjorn Yttling and John Eriksson performed their quirky new-wave pop aboard a Stockholm boat. Since then, they've built their fame slowly and steadily: After two albums, the trio released its third studio disc, Writers Block, in 2006. Filled with whistles, bongos, maracas and an instantly recognizable element of warmth, the album was an instant hit, with "Young Folks" heard on radios around the world.

After a three-year hiatus from the public eye -- apart from the occasional solo project and an instrumental, download-only release in 2008 -- Peter Bjorn and John returns with Living Thing. The disc demonstrates that the band has more than a few infectious pop tunes up its sleeve; the new songs are a bit more cynical, and even cleverer.

Related NPR Stories

For more information on the group, visit the Peter Bjorn and John website.

[Note: Headline corrected immediately after posting. 1 Sailor, not 1 Soldier.]
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