Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Other items

Gareth writes to note Alan Cowell's "London Police Facing Pressure Over Killing of Brazilian" in this morning's New York Times. Gareth notes that finally the victim's families gets a hearing but "the trade off" appears to be bringing in a woman to say the death is less important than the tragedy of July 7th. Gareth also notes that Jean Charles de Menezes is "the Brazilian" in the headline and the first paragraph (robbing him of his identity).

On the same story, Pru notes that Cowell gets paid for reading. She notes that two of the papers he's pulling information from get credited but others don't. She wonders if the Times realizes that he's apparenlty just reading newspapers as and filing reports "on the back of others" as opposed to actually doing his own reporting?

Now for the so-called FactCheck.org (to use Bill Scher's term), let's note this:

Last month, Congress appropriated $1.5 billion in emergency funds to cover a shortfall in the Veterans Affairs budget after the administration acknowledged that it had not taken into account the additional cost of caring for veterans hurt in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Uh, uh, could they have been wrong? Yeah, they could have and that's why Elaine made the point she made on Sunday. Before they launch their next attack on NARAL or someone else, they might want to get their own house in order which might include some fact checking of the statements they issued less than a year ago.

By the way, the quote above is from Elisabeth Bumiller's "Citing Sacrifice, President Vows to Keep Up Fight." Maybe I've gone soft but I don't see it as one of the groaners we've all grown used to. (It's not a White House Letter, by the way.) I was prepared to trot out the usual Elite Fluff Patrol commentary. I don't think the article warrents it. There's a mistake in the article:
"The mayor of Salt Lake City, Rocky Anderson, a Democrat, attended the protest as well."

Actually, the mayor didn't just attend, he was asking (days ago) for people to turn up and make the protest the biggest in the state's history. (And anyone unaware of that should watch, listen or read Democracy Now! today.)

Maybe I'm reading on a curve this morning, but let's note this passage:

"Producing a constitution is a difficult process that involves debate and compromise," Mr. Bush said. "We know this from our own history. Our Constitutional Convention was home to political rivalries and disagreements." Americans, Mr. Bush said, saluted the Iraqis' determination "to lay the foundation for lasting democracy amid the ruins of a brutal dictatorship."
After the Baghdad deadline and the president's speech, with major issues still unresolved in the constitution, the White House nonetheless issued a positive statement, calling the work in Baghdad "impressive" and "another step forward."

The second paragraph is too often left out (in Bumiller's and others' reporting).

We'll note this section as well:

Ms. Sheehan's supporters followed Mr. Bush to Salt Lake City, where more than 1,000 people staged an antiwar protest in Pioneer Park, not far from the Salt Palace Convention Center where Mr. Bush was speaking. A main speaker was Celeste Zappala of Philadelphia, a co-founder of the antiwar group Gold Star Families for Peace and the mother of a son who died in Iraq.
In a telephone interview after the protest, Ms. Zappala said she disagreed with the president's view that the way to honor the Americans killed in Iraq was to continue to fight.
"It pains me to hear that more people should die because those people have died," said Ms. Zappala. "That makes no sense. We can honor them by having an intelligent, honest policy." Ms. Zappala's eldest son, Sgt. Sherwood Baker, a National Guardsman, was killed in Baghdad in April 2004 while protecting the Iraq Survey Group, which was searching for large unconventional weapons. None were found.

Again, maybe I'm missing something (maybe someone will turn out some revelation about John T. Edward -- quoted in the piece -- for instance) but it's reading like strong reporting to me. (As always, I could be wrong.)

Wally e-mails to note this:

The lawyer for Mr. Ismael, Ian G. Loveseth, said Mr. Ismael was an American citizen born in Yemen. He was among five defendants in the drug case, but the only one to refuse a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, despite Mr. Loveseth's encouragement to take the deal.
"He said to me, 'I appreciate you are giving me the best advice in the world, but I am not going to dishonor myself by going along with this,' " Mr. Loveseth said. " 'If I do 20 years, Allah will take care of me. But I'm worried about going to heaven, and I am not going to say it happened differently than the way it did.' "
Mr. Ismael testified that he participated in the drug transactions only because Mr. Magid had recruited him as an informant and assured him it would lead to a government job, perhaps with the Department of Homeland Security.
"He convinced me that since Sept. 11, that the government is hiring certain people, honest people, Arabic speaking, to help them fight terrorism," Mr. Ismael testified.
Efforts to reach Mr. Magid were unsuccessful.

It's from Dean E. Murphy's "U.S. Is Ordered to Investigate Use of Disputed Informant" which details possible problems with professional witness and sometimes FBI employee (earned more than $77,000, along with having his own drug charges dropped) Essam Magid. Wally felt (I agree) that the information on Mr. Ismael was the most powerful and pertinent; however, it's buried at the end of the article. Judge Charles R. Breyer has "ordered the Justice Department on Monday to investigate the continued use by the federal authorities of a Yemeni informant [Essam Magid] even though the man had revealed his undercover status and the names of two F.B.I. agents during a terror investigation in California." You've also got an FBI agent (in the story) giving testimony that contradicts another agent's testimony and then "[Dwayne] Bareng invoked his right against compelled self-incrimination." As Wally notes, this article should have amounted to a lot more based upon the events reported.

Marcia e-mails to note Adam Liptak's "California Ruling Expands Same-Sex Parental Rights:"

The California Supreme Court ruled yesterday that both members of a lesbian couple who plan for and raise a child born to either of them should be considered the child's mothers even after their relationship ends.
The court, stepping into largely uncharted legal territory concerning same-sex couples and parenting, issued decisions in three cases, ruling that women whose partners gave birth had parental rights or obligations in all three.
The cases involved a request for child support, a petition to establish parental rights and an attack on a lower court ruling issued before a child's birth that the child should have two women listed as parents on her birth certificate.
"We perceive no reason," the Supreme Court ruled, "why both parents of a child cannot be women."

Portland e-mails to note David Corn's "Rove Scandal: Bob Dole Disinforms" (The Nation):

The spin never ends. In a New York Times op-ed piece published on Tuesday*, former Senator Bob Dole, the hapless 1996 GOP presidential nominee, backs proposed legislation that would protect (to a large degree) a reporter's confidential relationship with a source. That's all fine and well, but Dole also takes the occasion to disinform about the Rove scandal. The piece opens:
Like many Americans, I am perplexed by the federal investigation into the alleged leak of classified information that exposed Valerie Plame Wilson, the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador, as a Central Intelligence Agency officer.
Why is he perplexed? Classified information was leaked. It was not an "alleged leak." The leak did occur. No one disputes that. And the CIA has repeatedly said the information that was leaked--Valerie Wilson's employment status at the CIA--was classified information. The Justice Department, which initiated the investigation, presumably agrees. (Otherwise, why investigate?) And we now know that Karl Rove (at least) twice shared this classified information with reporters Bob Novak and Matt Cooper and that Scooter Libby shared it (at least) once with Cooper. Yet Dole, following the lead of conservative spinners, diminishes the matter as an "alleged leak" and writes it off as oh-so-puzzling. There's noting perplexing about special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's mission.
Dole continues:
So far the special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has achieved one notable result: putting a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, in jail for refusing to break her promise of confidentiality to her sources in response to a grand jury subpoena.
Here Dole is pandering to his audience--or the editors of the Times. Prosecutor do not tend to achieve any "notable" result until he or she ends his or her investigation and brings indictments. There is nothing odd in that Fitzgerald has not produced any results yet. True, he has chased Miller into jail, and that does distinguish his inquiry from most investigations conducted by US attorneys. But again Dole is doing his disingenuous best to falsely portray Fitzgerald's work, which remains unfinished.

[*Note: Corn's referring to last Tuesday, not to today. The article was published at The Nation on the 17th.]

Rod e-mails to note today's scheduled topics for Democracy Now!:

Middle East analyst Juan Cole and Iraqi feminist Yanar Mohammad on the Iraqi constitution.
We speak with Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson who is calling for a protest against President Bush's visit hoping for the "the biggest demonstration this state has ever seen."

The Un-Embed the Media tour goes on:

Amy Goodman in Baraboo, WI:
Sat, Sept 10
TIME: 2:45 PM
Fighting Bob Fest
Sauk County Fairgrounds
Baraboo, WI
"Free admission", $10 donation will be requested.
Pre-register at http://www.fightingbobfest.org/register.htm

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