Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Double bombings, at least 35 dead and NPR's AWOL yet again

Why do you have someone with the title of "Baghdad Bureau Chief" if they're never in the country? How do you justify your Iraq expenses if you filed not one story in all of June on the deaths of US soldiers -- not one story from Iraq -- or on the talks to continue the occupation, or on the protests or on anything? That's really not an attack on Kelly McEvers. It's NPR that has sent her all over the Middle East. There is an set of expenses budgeted by NPR for Iraq. I wonder how you justify those expenses -- and those expenses will have to be justified -- when you have no Iraq reporting? Certainly any big NPR scoop from Syria never happened so if they were hoping that would smooth things over they were wrong. Iraq is a standing budget item for NPR. They're not supposed to be robbing that fund and using the monies elsewhere but that's what they've done and what they're doing.

If I were NPR, I don't know if I'd be doing that. Not if the taped meeting that got Vivian Schiller fired included -- though most overlooked it -- the claim by NPR that they could hide a donation, keep it off the books. I don't know if I were NPR and Congress had lost trust in me that I'd be doing things that might trigger the legislature to order an outside audit. If I were begging for public money, I don't think I'd flaunt my disdain for the public. A lot of money goes into NPR, a lot of money goes out. Contrary to popular belief, there's no outside oversight of that flow.

In Iraq today, deaths are in the double digits due to a bombing. NPR doesn't have the story, NPR never has the story anymore. But they sure spend the money like they're pursuing the story.

Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports that Osama al-Nujaifi, Speaker of Parliament, released a statement decrying today's attack and insisting "that security forces reveal the outcome of an investigation into previous attacks." Rob Crilly (Telegraph of London) counts 35 dead from the two Taji bombings. Aswat al-Iraq quotes "a security source" who states that there was a bombing in a garage and "a booby-trapped car". Hurriyet notes that the "two bombs detonated near a government council building."

Yashir Ghazi and Tim Arango (New York Times) quote
survivor Hesham Hasoon, "Why am I still alive? My brothers, friends, everyone left me. [. . .] When the first explosion happened, I saw the people and the kids start to gather near the car bomb and I knew something else would happen. I called on the stupid soldier to evacuate the place but he didn't care." Sinan Salaheddin (AP) quotes a police officer stating, "It was awful ... some of the lightly wounded people were running in all directions, either crying or screaming for help."

We'll close with this:

The Bat Segundo Show

Rethinking Radio, Cultivating Conversation

Aimee Bender

Aimee Bender returns to our program on the occasion of our 400th installment to discuss The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Edward Hopper, the relationship between empathy and fantasy, and the benefits of memorizing poetry. (Link to show.)

Janet Reitman

How can the quest for facts get you more access with a highly protective religious organization? Is Scientology a cult? This only scratches the surface of an eye-opening hour with Inside Scientology author Janet Reitman. (Link to show.)

Susan Freinkel

"We could just ban the usage of all landfills and have this Wall-E situation where every amount of trash that we produce is right outside our homes!" Or we can consider how we use plastics. Our conversation with Susan Freinkel involved a technical malfunction. So while we don't have audio for this one, we do have an engaging 8,000 word transcript. (Link to transcript.)

Mara Hvistendahl

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson boomed, "Less than five dollars invested in population control is worth a hundred dollars invested in economic growth." We discuss with Mara Hvsitendahl how such statements have led to serious issues of population balance in the rest of the world. (Link to show.)

James Gleick

We had read James Gleick for many years, but we had no idea he was such a grump before we met him. Nevertheless, we didn't let Mr. Gleick's temperament hinder us from discussing everything from Bertrand Russell's "liar's paradox" to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. (Link to show.)

Greetings from The Bat Segundo Show!

Greetings from The Bat Segundo Show, the long-running cultural radio program, which you can listen to for free, devoted to thoughtful and comprehensive conversations with the cultural figures of our time.

Not only have we reached our 400th installment, but we have four new programs an an in-depth roundtable discussion/forthcoming live event to tell you about! You can listen to the show at the main site or subscribe through iTunes.

Dana Spiotta in Conversation Live!

Dana Spiotta's dazzling Stone Arabia, a forthcoming novel concerning a down-and-out musician who makes obsessive art in lieu of connecting with others, so dazzled us that not only did we decide to hold a future five-part, week-long symposium (beginning on July 11th) at our sister site, Reluctant Habits, but Ms. Spiotta will be in conversation with Our Correspondent at McNally Jackson (52 Prince Street, New York, NY) on July 20, 2011 at 7:00 PM. If you liked Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, you won't want to miss this.

Aimee Bender

400 shows over six years? How did it happen? We're not entirely sure, but some have speculated that cultlike rituals were employed. But however unclean our hands may (or may not) be, we're still quite honored that Aimee Bender returned to our program to discuss The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Subjects include Edward Hopper, Bender's experiences with chairs, older men on the make for soup, and what it takes to sit still for two hours.

Plastics, Population Control, Information History, and Scientology

"Platics" was a word that rightfully terrified Dustin Hoffman, but our 8,000 word conversation with Susan Freinkel reveals more than a mere catchphrase. In other developments, there may be too many men on our planet. Some welcome this development; some don't. We talk with Unnatural Selection author Mara Hvistendahl to get the lowdown.

Journalist Janet Reitman spent five years investigating Scientology, and we spent one jam-packed hour discussing it with her. And while James Gleick may be one of the grumpiest people we've ever had on the show, he still has quite a lot to say about Claude Shannon and the history of information.

You can keep scratching your head over these strange topics or you can go to the main Bat Segundo site and listen to our free programs for intriguing elaborations!

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