Friday, March 30, 2007

Iraq in the words of those who've seen it

Huffington Post's Eat the Press focuses on Newsweek's latest issue, with the cover story devoted to letters, journals and emails from US soldiers lost in Iraq. It's The War in the Words of the Dead, what owner Donald Graham said "...might be the best issue of Newsweek in the 75 years of the magazine." It's part of an ongoing series, Voices of the Fallen.

Eat the Press says the response to this issue in the blog world -- left and right -- has been minimal, and wonders why:
Is it Iraq fatigue? Is it the absence of a political slant either way? (Noted by a family member in editor Jon Meachem's editor's letter as well as on a few blogs). Is it just that it's too real, too heartbreaking?

On the topic of Iraq, the Washington Post had a story about retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey's report on his tour of Iraq, taken in his capacity as West Point adjunct professor: McCaffrey Paints Gloomy Picture of Iraq; the full report is here.
Some lines from the report:

Iraq is ripped by a low grade civil war which has worsened to catastrophic levels with as many as 3000 citizens murdered per month. The population is in despair. Life in many of the urban areas is now desperate.
...Three million Iraqis are internally displaced or have fled the country to Syria and Jordan. The technical and educated elites are going into self-imposed exile—a huge brain drain that imperils the ability to govern.
... There is no function of government that operates effectively across the nation— not health care, not justice, not education, not transportation, not labor and commerce, not electricity, not oil production.
... The police force is feared as a Shia militia in uniform which is responsible for thousands of extra-judicial killings. There is no effective nation-wide court system.

And more. McCaffrey dares to hope a bit for a better solution but, all in all, pretty depressing.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

New media move

Wonderful news that McClatchy has signed a deal with Yahoo! to provide international news to Yahoo's growing news service.

McClatchy's Washington Bureau (formerly Knight Ridder) has been providing stories from Iraq and other places that have been well ahead of most other media. Check out their site for the Inside Iraq blog, poignant stories from their Iraqi staffers and American journalists. It also includes the columns by former military correspondent Joe Galloway, now retired to Texas but still writing.

Dan Gillmor comments on the move.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Women in Iraq

MADRE has a new report out: Promising Democracy, Imposing Theocracy: Gender-Based Violence and the US War on Iraq.
Amidst the chaos and violence of US-occupied Iraq, women—in particular those who are perceived to pose a challenge to the political project of their attackers—have increasingly been targeted because they are women. Today, they are subjected to unprecedented levels of assault in the public sphere, "honor killings," torture in detention, and other forms of gender-based violence.

I remember lots of war supporters who claimed one great reason to start this fight was to free the poor Iraqi women from the restraints of a misogynist society.

That worked well, didn't it?


Dubious e-mails, drunken journalists, and New Orleans

Sheila Lennon links a story that I meant to post yesterday but didn't get to: the Republican National Committee e-mail server that has been being used by White House staff doing official government business. That includes Karl Rove, so were many of his emails left out of subpoenas? Strange business, here. Even stranger: the server is located in Chattanooga, and is also the host for And, several Chattanooga businesses, organizations, and a private prep school, Baylor.
More from Corrente.

Gawker has asked readers to find them the drunkest journalists in New York. Of course, several commenters say they can't match London's journalists, and the classic obit in the Telegraph of Graham Mason comes to mind.....(via Roy Greenslade).

New Yorker is running a wonderful blog about New Orleans by Dan Baum, who's writing a book: New Orleans Journal (link fixed to main blog URL).

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Hunt's Miami connection and JFK

Rolling Stone has a fascinating report on interviews with St. John Hunt, son of Everette Howard Hunt, who died recently. (The reporter says Hunt called his son 'Saint' at times...but is the full name pronounced sinjun, as in one of James Bond's aliases?) The story: The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt.

Hunt the younger has had an interesting life himself, quite different from the father's. But one of the tales he has to tell is compelling, about the time his dying Dad drew him a picture of the supposed link between Lyndon Baines Johnson and whoever assassinated John F. Kennedy. One of the people in the chain: Antonio Veciana, founder and longtime head of the anti-Castro paramilitary group Alpha 66. Along with, of course, Frank Sturgis and the other usual suspects.

The son paints a picture of his distant father, too, that gives more insight on the man:
"He loved the glamorous life, cocktail parties, nightclubbing, flirting, all that," Saint says. "He was unfaithful to my mom, but she stayed with him. He was a swinger. He thought of himself as a cool dude, suave, sophisticated, intellectual. He was Mr. Smooth. A man of danger. He was perfect for the CIA. He never felt guilt about anything."
...Back home, E. Howard would slap Benny Goodman's monster swing-jazz song "Sing, Sing, Sing" on the turntable, and the two would listen to it endlessly. And then, sometimes, during the stomping Harry James horn solo, E. Howard would jump to his feet, snapping his fingers like some cool cat, pull back his shirt sleeves, lick his lips and play the air trumpet for all he was worth.

(Thanks to Sheila Lennon for the link.)

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Thoughts on newspapers, again

Doc Searls and Dave Winer riff on the future of newspapers and what can be done to change journalism in this new media world.

Winer starts it off, with a post entitled Trouble at the Chronicle. Among his thoughts on how to change journalism: Make journalism courses mandatory in college.
Why? Because journalism like everything else that used to be centralized is in the process of being distributed. In the future, every educated person will be a journalist, as today we are all travel agents and stock brokers.
The next suggestion:
Second, embrace the best bloggers. How? Easy -- every time someone is quoted in your publication, offer them a blog hosted on your domain.

Doc expands, in How to Save Newspapers , rerunning his 'Newspapers 2.0' guidelines. First among all of these, stop charging for archives; next, link to stories in the archives. These two simple steps have always seemed to me to be the logical best use for a newspaper's website. Then, link outside the paper, often, and link to local bloggers, not just the ones on your site. Says Doc:
Result: more readers, more authority, more respect, higher PageRank and higher-level results in searches....I'll betcha you'll make more money with advertising than you ever made selling stale editorial to readers who hate paying for it.
...The whole "bloggers vs. journalism" thing is a red herring, and a rotten one at that. There's a symbiosis that needs to happen, and it's barely beginning.

This posting also contains my favorite quote on journalism of anything else I've seen lately: Stop calling everything "content".

(Bonus link: Is linking the new content?)

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Weekend update: More research links from the week, law sites and a Florida housing report

The Florida Housing Boom, analysis by UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. Interesting stuff, like this, from the press release: ...rising house prices in Florida were partly a delayed response to the boom in the high-productivity technology sector in other states in the late 1990’s as retiring baby boomers up north used capital gains on their houses to fund moving to the Florida sunshine..

Justia v Findlaw's Robert Ambrosi posts about why Findlaw's once wonderful legal directory has gone downhill: the founder left after Thompson bought the site and now has stared Justia, which offers free searches of Federal court dockets. Justia now has a great law directory available. (Now if there were just some direct links to searchable case databases in state and local courts.....)

The other links:

  • Geonames,a new geographic name search.
  • Baghdad: mapping the violence from the BBC, uses casualty data to show progression of violence from 2003 til now.
  • Hawai'i Tourism Authority Stylebook (PDF): get the spellings and usage right. Includes info on the Hawai'ian language and a dictionary link.
  • "The Second Wave" and Beyond; primary sources of the women's movement, 1960-present.
  • LitiLaw, published articles for litigators. Search a "free collection of hundreds of recently published articles of interest to litigators and related legal professionals. All articles are full-text, written by lawyers and have been published as part of continuing legal education (CLE) seminars, in legal journals, or are of similar quality."
  • Real estate glossary from RealtyTrac.
  • Links for 'March Madness' resources, from Resourceshelf.
  • Family Guide for Fruits and Seeds, detailed database by family groups from USDA's Agricultural Research Service.

  • First Draft, Tim Porter's blog on journalism, is active again, now that Porter's finished his book, News, Improved.

  • Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers from the Library of Congress, searchable archives of public domain newspapers from several states, covering 1900-1910.

  • Friday, March 23, 2007

    The political beat goes on

    And the craziness continues:

    Al Gore's Science Fiction, links to several reports disputing Gore's global warming claims from Competitive Enterprise Institute. Hmm. You don't suppose they have an agenda?

    They must have prepped Sen. Inhofe.

    At least you can read Gore's opening statement without interruption.

    The Washington Post's David Ignatius has a wonderful column about the dedicated civil servants who are the heart of Washington and have a great loyalty to the government they serve, but are dissed by the current administration:
    If you read the obituary pages of The Post each morning, you encounter the kinds of people who are being trashed by the Bush administration's contempt for public servants.
    ...The Bush political operatives have become the people the Republicans once warned the country against -- a club of insiders who seem to think that they're better than other folks. They are so contemptuous of government and the public servants who populate it that they have been unable to govern effectively. They are a smug, inward-looking elite that thinks it knows who the good guys are by the political labels they wear.

    Meanwhile, the Pew Report on the American political climate is bad news for Republicans. Among the findings: increasing number of Americans subscribe to the sentiment "today it's really true that the rich just get richer while the poor get poorer." Currently, 73% concur with that sentiment, up from 65% five years ago.

    And, despite the 'support our troops' mentality that we're all supposed to have, it doesn't seem to apply to the army. A Nation report finds that some soldiers with difficult medical problems due to head wounds, etc. are being released under 'personality disorder discharges', which means the Army and the VA don't have any responsibility for their medical care. See How Specialist Town Lost His Benefits.

    Meanwhile, Veterans for Peace is campaigning for recognition that the war diminished the response to Hurricane Katrina, as reported in Facing South.

    And, The Huffington Post's Rachel Sklar scolds Tom Delay for not bothering to run a Google search related to an ...interesting...statement in his book.

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    This would buy a lot of health care

    The Congressional Research Service has issued a report for Congress: The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war on terror operations since 9/11.

    $510 BILLION.

    That's billions. Soon to become a trillion if this keeps up.

    (The link is to a 45-page PDF with lots of documentation. The CRS reports are not normally available to the public, but there is an ongoing effort to make them public info. Certain members post them and others collect them whenever found. Resourceshelf has an update on Congress' continuing reluctance to release them.)

    (Added later:) Update: What has homeland security cost? from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Just covers 2001-2005, but shows huge increases, from $56 billion in 2001 to $99.5 billion in 2005.

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    Thursday, March 22, 2007

    Objectional discourse: the attacks on Edwards start

    It's really, really discouraging to read the comments on Politico's blog posting on John Edwards' press conference about Elizabeth's health. There were over 300 comments last I looked and many of them are nasty. There are responders who ask for compassion, but the best the anti-posters can do is ask 'where was the moral outrage' when some people joked about the bomb attack in Afghanistan when Cheney was there.

    None of this is really worth reading. It just reminds us how screwed this society has become. Or, as one commenter, 'Eelpie' says:
    I am stunned at the hate and vitriol aimed at a man and a family in pain. I used to fear that America would someday lose its compassion. Reading the posts in this thread, I realize today's the day.


    Organic longing

    I can't grow vegetables. I do OK with flowers. But somehow I just can't get plants to produce food for me, at least not in any useful quantity. (I'm great at scavenging: wild blackberries, peaches from the trees that were already growing here when we bought the place, mangos, citrus and avocados at our old South Miami house; I did manage to grow a wonderful key lime tree from seed and reap the harvest several years before leaving...)
    Here, my excuse is the chiggers that keep me out of the lower field in hot weather, where there's lovely creekside loam and I've had two years of a fairly useless small garden; and the voles that eat the roots of anything I plant in the raised beds here on the hillside. I do get nice herbs, though. In Florida, wonderful things grew wild after Hurricane Andrew when the tree canopy was opened to the sun: volunteer tomatoes, delicious papayas; but I never got any vegetables I planted to do much. My earlier gardening history was similar.

    So reading Joel Achenbach's recent column about his parents and their attempts at living off an organic garden really struck a chord with me. It struck a chord with lots of readers: over 400 comments already. The Florida soil didn't do much for them, either, but they had what sounds like a wonderful life, living off the land as much as possible. Joel, in Dirt Rich:
    So, as spring arrives, I'll be in a fluorescent landscape, sitting at my desk near the photocopier, making a living with a keyboard. The windows are so far away, the view so attenuated, that I can barely tell whether it's night or day, and to find out whether it's raining, I have to check the Internet.
    But down South, my mom and stepdad are still plant people, tooling around in a pickup. At the end of every day, they sit under the grape arbor, pop open a beer and admire their Edenic surroundings. Spring will be full throttle by now. The azaleas and dogwoods will be glorious. My parents know that to save the world, you first have to appreciate it.

    No azaleas or dogwoods here yet, but the birds are singing and I know what the weather is. And I'll be seeing what I can grow again this year. Thanks for the reminder, Joel.

    Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    Citizen Journalism

    Josh Micah Marshall and Paul Kiel of TPM Muckracker decided that reading the entire download of administration e-mails about the U.S. Attorney dismissals was too much for two people to do. So they posted a request to readers, asking them to each read a few emails and report anything interesting in the comments. They did.

    The most interesting thing so far? The discovery of an 18 day gap in the emails. Hmm. 18 days, 18 minutes? You'd swear Rose Mary Woods was still around....

    Talking Points Memo has been on the attorneys story from the beginning.

    The New York Sun reports on the research.

    Via Romenesko, Doc Searls, and Sheila Lennon.

    Also from Sheila, a link to a little folk music journalism, from Tom Paxton, who's always had a great take on the news of the day, from way back in the '60s til now:

    Take a look at, and Click on the 'new short shelf-life song' to listen to Tom's latest on the Iraq war. Or download George W. Told The Nation from the download page:

    Brilliant. Timely and true, with wonderful lines like this:
    ...we ride around in our humvees, listening to the Black-Eyed Peas, and speaking fondly of our president....

    Sheila Lennon compares the chorus of this new song to a similar one about Lyndon Johnson back in the day. This one's a rewrite of 'Lyndon Johnson told the nation'. How things keep coming back.
    (Next I'm going to download/listen to the one on the download page called 'In Florida'. Should be interesting.)

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    Category 305, Miami's online magazine, has a wonderful portrait of the Miami Herald photographer Tim Chapman, who's been doing it for 35 years. The story compares him to legendary New York photographer 'Weegee'.
    Chapman is becoming a legend, too. Here's an old time newsman who's become a skilled new media practitioner.
    Some examples of his classic photos here, too, including one from the disaster at Jonestown, Guyana, where Chapman was one of the first on the scene; from the Contra war in Nicaragua, from the Mariel boatlift and more.
    And some commentary on the state of journalism too, and how Chapman fits in:
    In 1963 Dade County had a population of about 1,050,000. The Herald's daily circulation was about 330,000 according to a special section the Herald printed to coincide with the opening of their new building. Miami-Dade County now has a population of over two and a quarter million. However, according to the paper's website, Herald circulation is about 314,000.
    "For newspapers the watchword is hyperlocalism," Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Washington DC-based Project for Excellence in Journalism, recently opined on NPR.
    Or as Chapman puts it: "I want to shoot good news photos and stories of local events."
    Chapman's adrenaline junky aesthetic serves him, and his paper, well. His bosses appreciate his enthusiasm. "He’s 16 years old," laughs Rick Hirsch, managing editor of multimedia and new projects.

    ...Chapman drives and explains his journalism philosophy. "I'm a hunter/news gatherer." Chapman says that he shoots news for the guy who doesn't have time to read the paper before he leaves for work but will probably hit the Herald Website at work. "If you're not looking on the web then you're not getting your news."

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    Thursday, March 15, 2007

    Tracking spending, and the companies that do the work

    Since it's Sunshine Week, a good time to be noting some of the places that are shining light on government operations, like the Sunlight Foundation, whose projects I've linked to a couple times over the last few months. The link goes to their blog, which has links to the projects, like Congresspedia, The Revolving Door, and, and postings about other open government sites.

    In the news today, the Heritage Foundation has added to this range of information with a Federal Spending Book of Charts. View or download charts like Pork Projects, 1991-2007.

    Congressional 'Earmarks' have been getting a lot of attention, and now the OMB has posted a website to track them: Earmarks.

    On the spending side, a couple of federal contracting companies worth longer looks have been highlighted on Facing South, with lots of background and links: Troops deserve better than then lowest bidder discusses IAP Worldwide Services, a company based in Jacksonville and run by former Halliburton executives. It was the company that handled privatized services at Walter Reed, and was also responsible for the FEMA/Katrina ice disaster. According to this, the company has also been awarded a $103 million contract for the IRS.

    And, here's a Katrina-related story with an interesting twist that goes back to the interesting pre-governorship history of Jeb Bush: N.O. pump problems renew cronyism concerns. The company, Moving Water Inc., of Deerfield Beach, FL, was marketed once by Bush-El, a partnership between MWI's David Eller and the former Florida governor (pre-election). Lots of time and effort went into trying to prove allegations about Bush-El's questionable deals in Nigeria, which remain under investigation according to the Facing South posting.
    Amazing how some of these old stories keep coming back.

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    The folks at have been on a roll with their genealogical research findings, first with the revelation that Strom Thurmond's ancestors owned some of Al Sharpton's.
    Now they've got a study of Barack Obama's ancestry, headlined Irish Roots Of Barack 'O'Bama'. Well, not surprised if some of Obama's mother's ancestors were Irish. Weren't everyone's?

    New ideas in journalism

    Here's a wonderful idea from the Charlotte Observer: two researchers, Maria Wygand and Marion Paynter, have just started a blog for Sunshine Week that I hope will last: Your Right to Know. It's a guide to the public records available to Charlotte readers.

    NewsAssignmentZero is the new site from Jay Rosen's that provides "Pro-Am Journalism" where you can contribute stories, research, interviews. Joel Achenbach discusses it more, and says "It's a bit like Wikipedia-meets-Woodward-and-Bernstein." Joel asks Rosen:
    What about Bad Information?
    That's a concern, he said, but there will be a Director of Verification (now that's a job title I'd like)

    Oh, yeah, me too......where do I sign up?

    And a couple other things I noted of interest:
    The Horse's Mouth: Matt Drudge is the MSM's assignment editor. This is a reaction to a mention in the Washington Post by reporter Chris Cillizza, who says Matt Drudge's headlines are used as a source to find stories. TPM's Greg Sargent asks,
    ...if we're perfectly aware that Drudge is the primary sludge line for campaign oppo research, and if we're perfectly aware that some Drudge stories are massive distortions or outright falsehoods, shouldn't we be trying to figure out how to prevent Matt Drudge From Ruling Our World, rather than granting him continued domination over us...?

    On the Media: Carol Rosenberg talks about covering Guantanamo. The Miami Herald reporter has covered Guantanamo probably longer than any other journalist. She talks about how hard it is to get information from the detainees when the government doesn't want it reported:
    A couple of years ago, a colonel said to me, you know, we still don't have one of those Men in Black flashy things that can erase it from your brain.
    What a thought.
    Her point of view is useful in interpreting today's confession story...

    (Added later:) More on the dubious confession from WIRED's Danger Zone blog, which compares Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's performance to that of The Wire's Wee-Bay in the first season ender.

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    Monday, March 12, 2007

    No one ever said this wasn't important

    In all the online talk about the death of newspapers, some astute commenters continue to point out that there is one thing newspapers do better than anyone: investigative journalism. A no-brainer, but it does seem to be worth harping on. Nothing says it better than a reading of the Washington Post's series on Walter Reed, which I've linked to a couple times now.

    Now the Post is doing another amazing project: Citizen K Street, an online project in serial form, covering a DC lobbying business. The series was done by associate editor Bob Kaiser, who started out doing great investigations on the city desk years ago when I was there. The project is edited by Jeff Leen, another great investigative reporter who got his start at the Miami Herald. Best of all, there's a research editor, Alice Crites. As well as lots of staff work.

    Something to keep in mind while reading the Project for Excellence in Journalism's latest report, The State of the News Media 2007.

    On the importance of investigative journalism, Bob Stepno has a posting about reading Carl Hiaasen's book Basket Case and how others have noted that Hiaasen makes a profound case for the craft. Some forget that Hiaasen made his mark at the Miami Herald as an investigative journalist, too.

    Fodder for would-be investigations: Project Censorship has a list of the '25 most censored news stories' of 2007. Some things here that certainly seem to be worth a better look into by journalists. Did Halliburton really sell nuclear technology to Iran, and did Cheney really make a huge profit on the stock? Are the oceans really dying? Are we making more landmines? Is Roundup really killing people? Sounds like stories I'd like to hear more about.


    Saturday, March 10, 2007

    Weekend update research links

    ...and a couple news tidbits I just couldn't resist: In Guatemala, Mayan priests say they'll have to purify sacred land after GW Bush's visit next week. According to one spokesman, the visit will bring 'bad spirits'.

    And in Georgia, Zell Miller says we would have 45 million more Americans to staff our military and pay into Social Security if we just hadn't aborted them all after Roe v Wade. Uh, yeah. And more traffic, more demand for housing and energy, more crime, more people needing welfare and health care and Chinese imports.

    The links:

  • ATM locator databases, links from Resourceshelf.
  • Database on introduction of aquatic species, from FAO, tracks nearly 5000 species.
  • PhillyHistory: photo archive hundreds of thousands of photos highlighted, from Philadelphia's department of records. Photos can be searched by address or neighborhood, and can be purchased.

  • Data Planet Subscription-based access to statistics from government and other sources. Minimum $49 for month's access.
  • TrafficSTATS, project of AAA and Carnegie Mellon; has FARS and NHTS data, allows you to calculate "the travel risks for millions of different combinations of transportation modes, demographic variables, and a host of other parameters."

    Governments, Politics:
  • BNA Web Watch: Government Contractors, a webliography.
  • 2007 Congressional Pig Book released (press release). Direct to the pig book summary, or you can download an Excel file of the pork.
  • Project Vote releases new study on voting fraud: full PDF here. The headline: "Claims of “Voter Fraud” Often Manufactured, Exaggerated for Political Purposes".
  • Oppo Depot brings opposition research to Web 2.0. Find or contribute the dirt on presidential candidates.

  • Rural Journalism Reporting Resources, part of the U Ky Rural Journalism and Community Issues site (which also contains the Rural Blog, a great resource for stories, often cited by Al Tompkins).

  • Ancestors on Board has searchable outbound passenger lists from British Isles ports covering 1890-1909 (will go to 1960).

  • has databases of
    telcos, exhanges, codes, switches, etc.
  • From Guide to online calculators, and Business Glossary/
  • From MIT's library: Business Database Adviser, leads to databases in MIT's library, so may not be available without password, but is a good guide. Choose type of info you want and it gives you a list of sources.
  • Online Lookups from Quentin Sager Consulting, offers telco searches, SSN validator, bank routing number validator.

  • Google Video-- search for documentaries; a great collection here.

  • Reuters Africa, news portal including blog news via Global Voices.

    Public Records:
  • Online Lookups from Quentin Sager Consulting, offers telco searches, SSN validator, bank routing number validator.

  • Couchville lets you create an interactive TV listing guide for your local TV source.
  • Pretty Penny Books: service finds books available at for a penny (plus shipping). Some really good stuff here.

  • Wednesday, March 07, 2007

    Out of proportion

    A link for someone who asked: Think Progress compares Fox New's coverage of the Anna Nicole Smith story to the Walter Reed story. Guess what? More Anna. Lots more Anna. MSNBC has more Anna, but not nearly so much. CNN kept the Walter Reed story higher.

    And, a wonderful collection of maps in the Daily Mail, from a mapping project at the Universities of Michigan and Sheffield: How the world really shapes up. Stats from HIV rates to toy exports/imports, or compare the effect of wars on the countries of the world.
    For example, Who's higher in military spending:

    and war deaths:

    What it's come to

    So this is how the war on terrorism is working, according to a couple new reports:

    Salon has a guide, The Iraq insurgency for beginners, consisting of an interview with Evan Kohlmann of He's been studying the online writings, videos, interviews, etc. of insurgents and has come to some terrible conclusions: The insurgency is a result of the invasion and would stop once foreign troops left. The suicide bombings, however, are the work of al Qaeda, which is stronger now than it ever was in Iraq:
    The hardcore true believers of al-Qaida at one time were probably 10 percent of the insurgent groups. Now they're 50 percent. Al-Qaida is growing in places it shouldn't.
    ...The idea of Western-style democracy in Iraq doesn't appeal to anyone. It was our own myth. We thought that if we get rid of Saddam Hussein, people would come together and celebrate and democracy would reign throughout the Middle East. The people who thought that up are people who think Iraq is like Texas. Iraq is not Texas.

    There's much more. As to what might be a solution:
    If we withdraw from Iraq right now, there's no doubt what will happen. First there's going to be a war for control of Baghdad and then once Baghdad is ripped to the ground, the battle is going to spread across Iraq.
    ...If I was going to invade Iraq, the first thing I would do is commission the top history experts, top geographical experts, top cultural experts, and sit them down at a table and say, "This is what I'm thinking about doing. Is this feasible?" That was never done. Nobody in their right mind would have taken a look at Bush's plan and said, "Oh, yeah, that's going to work."
    ...the best solution is not to have invaded at all.

    Backing this up, The Council on Foreign Relations has issued a new analysis: Al-Qaeda's Resurrection.


    Walter Reed

    I've linked to this before but it's worth noting that the Washington Post's coverage of this story continues and there's lots: The Other Walter Reed. The package includes photos and interviews, as well as hearing transcripts.

    And, the Miami Herald's incomparable Jim Morin hits the nail on the head, again: full image here.

    Last Anna Nicole word

    Just a quick link for anyone who missed Carl Hiaasen's column on how the coverage of Anna Nicole Smith signifies the end of journalism as we knew it: We have seen the future, and it's not pretty.

    It's been quoted in lots of blogs but is worth noting once more. Some of the telling quotes:
    ...this is the new New Journalism, which is steered by a core belief that people would rather be smothered by seedy gossip about dead ex-Playmate junkies than be bothered with the details of North Korea's nuclear program.
    ...Don't make the mistake of dismissing the Smith story as an anomaly; it's a media watershed. If the death of a hapless, doped-up ex-model can knock two wars out of the headlines, there's no end to the squalid possibilities.

    Hiaasen at his best.


    Tuesday, March 06, 2007

    Music for the ages

    Noticed today on Resourceshelf, an announcement from the Library of Congress of this year's National Recording Registry additions. The Registry consists of 225 recordings chosen by the Librarian of Congress as "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

    Among this year's additions, The Rolling Stone's 'Satisfaction', Sam Cooke's 'A Change is Going to Come', The Ronette's 'Be My Baby', Pete Seeger singing 'We Shall Overcome' at Carnegie Hall in 1963, and The Carter Family's 1928 (!) recording of 'Wildwood Flower'. There are voice recordings, too: Alan Ginsburg's 'Howl', Roosevelt's address to Congress the day after Pearl Harbor. And several other songs and musical recordings that were a big part of my life -- and everyone else's -- at various times.

    It was hearing Maybelle Carter playing and singing 'Wildwood Flower' at various Bluegrass festivals and at the Smithsonian's Folklife Festival that made me obtain an Autoharp back in the '70s. Reading this today I got it out of the closet, tuned it, and found chords to the song so I could try to play it again. This time I'm going to get it right.

    Monday, March 05, 2007

    Can't we all get along?

    The public discourse is getting ugly again. Seems rare these days we have a respite from the foolishness.

    Much uproar, of course, on Ann Coulter's latest, calling John Edwards a 'faggot' at last week's Conservative Political Action Committee conference. Not the first time she's said inflammatory things at this conference, and Digby lists them in this column. He responds to those conservatives who claim the left is filled with hatred, with this:
    ...that kind of disgusting rhetoric has been thoroughly acceptable in the highest reaches of the political establishment for years now and nobody but us unhinged liberals have said a word about it.

    Facing South points to Coulter's rant as only one of the mean things said at the conference; Newt Gingrich had something controversial to say, too. Speaking of Hurricane Katrina victims, especially in New Orleans' 9th Ward, he said they were 'too undereducated and unprepared' to get out of the way of a hurricane.' Facing South's Chris Kromm disputes the statement.

    For those who would rather believe the left is the source of the most hateful statements, Patterico lists some of them. Actually, a pretty comprehensive list. I'd bet if someone tried to compile right-wing hate quotes that list would be a whole lot longer.

    Nevertheless, there's more than enough hatred to go around. It's this sort of thing that gets us nowhere and leads us to more nasty elections, wars, and continuing degredation of our culture.

    One more thing. Digby also has a response to the Bush administration official who predicted gloom and doom on '60 Minutes' last night, saying we have to get rid of some of the services that help keep our poor and elderly afloat.


    Friday, March 02, 2007

    Amazing facts

    Several very interesting reports released this week, found via Resourceshelf and/or Docuticker:

    Diesel Fumes: The Clean Air Task Force released No escape from diesel fumes. According to the report: "...fine particles, such as those found in diesel exhaust, shorten the lives of 70,000 Americans each year... although we spend only about six percent of our day commuting to and from work, it is during that time when we receive over half of our exposure."

    I used to ride a bike in downtown DC and figured breathing the air was a real problem for my future health. After a respite for a few years in the NC mountains, I moved to Miami and drove a series of convertible cars. Great way to drive back and forth to work in the tropical air, but it covered a few miles of I-95 so I'm sure I got another good dose of those diesel particles.

    Hmmm. Doomed. Between that and the spray I breathed in all the apple orchards around my childhood home....

    The future of fish: The National Center for Policy Analysis has released Ocean Fisheries: Common Heritage or Tragic Commons? about the collapse of fisheries around the world, particularly in U.S. waters:
    ...five hundred years ago the English explorer John Cabot reported the waters off Newfoundland were so thick with cod you could catch them by hanging baskets over the ship's side. But the boom is over. American and world fisheries have entered a period of rapid and unprecedented decline:
    In the past 50 years, populations of large fish species - including tuna, swordfish, marlin, sharks, cod, halibut and flounder - have decreased 90 percent worldwide.
    ...Fish stocks have collapsed in nearly one-third of all ocean fisheries, and all commercially valuable world fish stocks could completely collapse by 2048.

    Veterans and military: The American Psychological Association has results of a task force study on the mental health problems of military personnel and their families, which says "Many service personnel and their family members are going without mental health care because of the limited availability of such care and the barriers to accessing care."

    Too many calories: From the Center for Science and the Public Interest, a study of restaurant menus, X-Treme Eating. Listing some of the highest-calorie menu items offered by places like Ruby Tuesday, Uno and Cheesecake Factory, this is scary. For one:
    Ruby Tuesday’s “Fresh Chicken & Broccoli Pasta.” Pity the poor diner who thinks this healthy sounding entrée is on the light side: Thanks to its parmesan cream sauce and layer of melted cheese, the 2,060 calories and 128 grams of fat make it the equivalent of two 12-ounce sirloin steaks, two buttered baked potatoes, and two Caesar salads.

    I don't eat often in restaurants, partly because most of them give you too much food. But this is beyond what I would have imagined.

    Women who ask too much:
    The Telegraph takes on 'Toxic Wives' and gives potential grooms tips on how to avoid gold-diggers.


    Thursday, March 01, 2007

    Chicken Little?

    Hmm. The global warming debate seems to have heated up in some places, since 'An Inconvenient Truth' won three Oscars, and Al Gore accepted the other night.

    It shows up in places like my local newspaper, where the editor's column pointed at the big snowstorms in upstate NY as proof that Gore's campaign is just posturing (Not available online). Strange.

    Today Knox Views has a posting from someone linking to Gore's Tennessean coverage of a recent Gore speech and tries to refute some of his statements about the media's coverage of global warning as biased in favor of 'balance'. The comments on the Knox Views posting are revealing, including one from moderator R. Neal, who says he's tired of 'Gore bashing' on the blog. One poster comments:
    What a bizarre post. Are you agreeing with Gore's complaint that newspapers present global warming as "disputed?" Or are you criticizing Gore for mocking "balance" as bias against the scientific consensus? Let's take an analogy to the Holocaust to stress the point. "Some" deny that 6 million Jews died at the Holocaust. Should the mainstream press report the Holocaust as "disputed" because "some" believe it's just a "hoax?"

    On a similar note, News Hounds has a post about Ann Coulter's new status as a global warming expert on Fox News.....
    Despite the fact that FOX News’ own poll shows that 82% of the public believes that global warming exists and that 79% believe that human activity plays at least some role, FOX News Channel continues to demean those who are concerned about it.


    Harping on the media: Bob Woodruff's story

    It's to be expected, but discouraging nevertheless, to see some of the reaction to Bob Woodruff's report the other night on ABC, To Iraq and Back.

    I hadn't planned to watch the show but was hooked within a minute. It was a horrifying tale of his own injury in Iraq and his recovery, but most of the program was devoted to U.S. military veterans suffering from the same terrible brain injuries. Many of them aren't as lucky as Woodruff and their families will struggle for a lifetime.

    Even so, the naysayers can't be quiet about this. One commenter to Hal Boedeker's good column on the program and reaction to it says "To bad the guys on the firing line daily aren't fawned over as the media do over one of their own. How typical!"

    The All Spin Zone reports on what Rush Limbaugh had to say, including: "But we do not get stories of valor in the Drive-By Media about soldiers. We do not get too many profiles of the seriously injured and their recovery and the great strides they make."

    I guess those folks didn't even watch the program. And I guess they didn't know Woodruff and his family have set up a fund to help other brain-injury victims.
    The full documentary is available here.

    Part of All Spin Zone's comment on the documentary:
    As a nation, we simply can’t allow this to continue. With a short 60 minute return to broadcast television, Bob Woodruff has (or will), become as much of a “face” for Traumatic Brain Injury as is Michael J. Fox for Parkinson’s Disease. And that’s a good thing - because the Bush regime has done their level best to hide the national shame of the tens of thousands of severely wounded men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    And note the 2006 U.S. Senate vote linked at the bottom: to deny funds for research that would help diagnose brain trauma injury.....

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