Friday, September 28, 2007

Nixon and Hoover....

Whenever we forget how truly malevolent politics could be back in the '60s and '70s, we are reminded by some new revelation from Richard Nixon's tapes.

Jack Shafer, in Slate, has a new one, from a telephone conversation between Nixon and J. Edgar Hoover (another paragon of virtue), concerning the Supreme Court, Jack Anderson, and Katherine Graham. Listening to Richard Nixon. Truly despicable:
Nixon: She's a terrible old bag.
Hoover: Oh, she's an old bitch in my estimation.

Says Shafer:
For the record, Graham was a mere 54 years old at the time, and judging from photographs, she was still a pretty hot number. The 75-year-old Hoover, on the other hand, resembled nothing more than sun-rotted, wormy calabash.
Shafer is looking for any reference by Nixon to Graham's late husband, Phil. If you know of any, let him know.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Contrary views: Ahmadinejad and Rather

I'm glad to see it's not just me who is dismayed at Americans' tendency to need a demon to hate. Hitler? Gone. Saddam? Gone. Now who can we hate? Castro is dying, and Castro hatred was never universal. Chavez? They tried. We don't all hate him. North Korea? Too far away, or something.

At any rate, it seems Americans have picked the leader of Iran to concentrate our national hatred on. And the media for the most part only cheerleads for the home team.

There are some contrary voices, though, thank goodness. Dave Winer says it all in this fine posting, Media you can't trust.
We lose so much when we don't have the courage to listen to our foes. Some of my countrymen see it as a sign of weakness to listen, but they're wrong -- if we're sure we're right, what exactly do we have to lose by listening?
Winer also discusses the 'Betray Us' ad.

And, via Tennessee Guerrilla Women, this post, Iranian University Presidents Denounce Columbia's Lee Bollinger, which calls Bollinger 'the world's rudest host'. I also thought it was a shocking action by a president of a -- hopefully neutral -- university. Also from Tennessee Guerrilla Women: No Gays in Iran and No Gays in the GOP! What a Coincidence!

Here's a contrary opinion on a totally different topic, but also not what the majority seem to want to hear, from Eric Boehlert at Media Matters: Dan Rather is right.
Right-wing bloggers may have sparked the so-called Memogate story in 2004 by raising doubts about the military memos, but three years later it is the mainstream press that is adamant in condemning Rather
...The simple, yet apparently elusive, truth is that CBS' report on Bush and the National Guard could have (and should have) been broadcast without the controversial memos. And if it had been, the results would have been exactly the same.

(Added later:) Great discussion, with lots of links and a couple hundred comments, on Dan Rather's suit, at Pressthink: Rather Unbound Will Redo the Killian Memos Story.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Improving the online newspaper, part 2

Speaking of how newspapers can get online right (see previous entry on The Miami Herald's latest offering), this column from Ted Vaden at the News & Observer of Raleigh, NC, on how the paper's online presence is improving, along with some discussion of why it isn't always perfect: Paper's future is online; is that good?
The emphasis on breaking news means that the paper's most important stories don't necessarily get front-page treatment on the Web site. During the site's busiest hours in the morning, you might see highlighted the car wreck or apartment fire that just happened instead of the investigative story that led that morning's paper.
...longtime N&O readers (say) that they resent all the references in the paper to additional information online because they don't use computers. I worry also about people of lesser means for whom the computer is not a part of their daily lives.

Best of all, though, of all the changes they are planning to the N&O's site, is this:
Creation of an online "Fact Finder" center that gives readers access to some of the information resources used by N&O reporters. Stored there now are databases on the 2007 local elections, global warming, the drought and Wake schools.

The N&O had one of the first and most innovative newspaper sites around, back in the pre-McClatchy days. The N&O research department had a great online database collection for their newsroom, years before most other papers did such things. Now it's great to hear that these resources are going to be available to readers. Other newspapers have been a bit ahead in making online databases of public records available.
How about The Herald?

(Added later:)
Bonus Link: In The Seattle Times, an interview with 'a couple of "old" journalists', Marianne Means and James Kilpatrick, by John Harner:
At a conference on the "new" journalism, I paid a visit to a couple of "old" journalists.
...Gazing out the window reflectively, he said: "The whole world's turned upside down. The big newspapers are in trouble. I don't know what the future holds."
..."Let's Google it," he said. So, the old lion still can hunt.
...As I left, I reflected on the fact that our conversation had encapsulated all of the issues debated at the "Journalism That Matters" meeting...

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Improving the online edition? Or just going around in circles?

Via Stuck on the Palmetto, news that the Miami Herald is now offering a new version of the online newspaper, created using Olive's ActivePaper technology. It displays the newspaper pages as designed and creates links from ads to advertisers' web sites. Demo available here.

'Stuck' links to a review of the new service, which ends up being more a review of, at Habla Mierda. Says Habla Mierda:
So instead of taking a page from the New York Times internet department and hiring one of the best interactive designers in the business, they instead buy half-assed software that basically amounts to scanned jpegs linked to each other.

Pardon me for being confused, but the Herald already had this capability, in a PDF pages version, several years ago. According to the website, they are ending this service and anyone who wants to continue getting full page versions will need to reregister. MyHerald offered two versions to scan the news paper online, the full pages in PDF, and a 'Quickbrowse' version of the Herald, using Marc Fest's creation.

So...what's been improved? (Oh, yes. The ad experience.)

Speaking of the Herald, interesting viewer sidebar I hadn't seen before: it shows who's reading the story and where they came from. I show up as from 'Asheville NC' via SotP. Hmmm.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Book collections

When it came out, Library Thing got great reviews, and I always figured, someday, I'd try using it to catalogue my home library (and that it would be a great tool for small libraries, like one-person newspaper libraries). I never did, of course.

But since I became an avid reader in my early years I've wanted to keep track of the books I've read, at least. For awhile in my teens I made index cards with book names and dates read.

A couple weeks ago an invitation to join arrived, from my niece -- so how could I turn it down. I'm not adding previously read books but figured it would be a fun way to keep track of what I'm reading from now on (see widgets at bottom of right-hand sidebar). I like it, although I'm not getting in to reviewing or recommending or adding my favorite books of all time.

Now, just as I'm getting used to GoodReads, here comes Google Books with MyLibrary. How could it be easier?
1. Search Google Book Search for a keyword, title, or author.
2. Click the "Add to my library" link to start building your collection.
I'll stick with GoodReads for now, but nice to know there are so many choices for readers.

Another look at factchecking (Coulter's), and illuminating history

Right on point with this current discussion of factchecking, Mark Bowden's column in the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Point: How not to do journalism. Ann Coulter used an earlier Bowden column, in which he supported the invasion of Iraq, and, he says, twisted the facts. A good lession in why journalistic factchecking is important:

This is just a small and relatively inconsequential example of the methods employed by the pundits who offer what increasingly poses as journalism in this country.
Coulter...represents a form of journalism free of real reporting or even modest research, which is very popular today. "Facts" are not things to be carefully observed or unearthed, but tidbits gleaned by Google or Yahoo searches. Where the facts don't exactly fit the argument, they can be artfully massaged.
... Coulter's claim that Mark Bowden warned of 60,000 to 100,000 U.S. deaths has been so widely reprinted and distributed that I could never effectively debunk it. It is out there in the ether, and there it shall remain. My note to her went unanswered, which tells you something. If journalism proceeds down this sloppy path, it is likely to turn up in my obituary.

Two wonderful examples today of why good journalism will never be replaced, in The Miami Herald:
Andrea Robinson writes about a sad time in Miami history, when 60 years ago black families were summarily displaced from their homes in an early version of gentrification: Railroad Shop: The day a black community died. It's a great example of how a well-researched newspaper story can bring history back to life.

And, by Steve Rothaus, a wonderful profile of the couple who are leading the attack on Fort Lauderdale mayor Jim Naugle and his homophobic policies: Quiet couple is called to action. Valuable in its putting a face on the people behind a story, but also a contribution to future historical reporting.

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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Just a number

..but it's $720 Million Each Day, according to the American Friends Service Committee, in this Washington Post story.
The money spent on one day of the Iraq war could buy homes for almost 6,500 families or health care for 423,529 children, or could outfit 1.27 million homes with renewable electricity...


Fact Checker and more research sites

Speaking of fact checkers, interesting 'About' page on the Washington Post's Fact Checker blog, including an explanation of methodology and profiles of Michael Dobbs, the Fact Checker, and chief researcher Alice Crites.

Always good to see a news researcher getting deserved credit.

In other news research news, just a few research links came up this week:

  • The Business of Football: NFL Team Valuations, annual report from Forbes.
  • Global Health Facts from Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • Digital Globe imagery will be enhanced with launch of a new satellite; Resourceshelf links to sites that use satellite images from Digital Globe. More aerial image links, including street views from France, from an earlier posting.
  • Florida School Board Links from Joe Adams. Get agendas, meeting minutes, etc.
  • The Law Library of Congress has been redesigned with new features such as the beginning of a digitized library of Congressional hearings.
  • Terrorism Database Penn's International Center for the Study of Terrorism includes a global database of social and behavioral science researchers who work on, or whose work is directly relevant to terrorism, in Excel format.

  • Friday, September 21, 2007


    What can help stop the misconceptions that result in the lack of civic understanding that causes the test results shown in the previous posting?

    As a news researcher, my policy was to never answer a question without checking the facts first. (Difficult at the times when someone yells a question across a desk and you're sure you know the answer, but necessary anyway.)

    Who's replacing -- or using -- the news researchers in the public discourse these days?

    There's a sudden proliferation of web sites that are doing just that, especially as this election seasons approaches. First around was, of course, , which is funded by Annenberg Public Policy Center and says its goal is 'Holding Politicians Accountable'.

    Says FactCheck: Maybe It's a Trend, referring to the emergence of Politfact (mentioned here earlier), from Poynter's CQ and St. Pete Times, and the new FactChecker blog from (which I cited Wednesday).

    Now may have help for the education problem:, which offers help to students and professors on how to determine truth. Check out Straight from the Source, for example, which tells how to trust web sites; and Don't be fooled: Tools of the Trade, for more guidance.

    On this topic, I've received a copy of a new book, Consider the Source, by two young journalists whose website is The Reporters' Well. This looks like a very useful exercise in determining the value of news and information sites, and I'll have more to say on this once I've read it.


    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Civic education: are college students learning?

    Thanks to Bob Norman of Daily Pulp for posting about this Civics Quiz from the National Civic Literacy Board, and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute: "Failing Our Students, Failing America: Holding Colleges Accountable for Teaching America’s History and Institutions".
    They gave it to 14,000 students at 50 colleges and universities. The bad news about this quiz:
    The overall average score for the approximately 7,000 seniors who took the American civic literacy exam was 54.2%, an “F.”
    ...Harvard seniors scored highest, but their overall average was 69.6%, a “D+.”

    I missed 10 questions, for a score of 83.33 %. Not great. Most of the questions I missed were philosophic and economic. I majored in political science, so certainly should have done better. But that was years ago. Shouldn't college seniors, who have this knowledge fresh, beaten this? I'm pretty sure I would have aced this in 1967.*

    Try it. See how you do. Daily Pulp commenters had varied results. How about news researchers?

    *...and I didn't go to a big-time school like Harvard. In fact, my college, Marymount at Tarrytown, has died. Fordham took it over a few years back and is now selling the campus. I've been trying to keep at least some presence going on the Web by updating the Wikipedia entry.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Iran, Burt, Krugman and Thompson's war claim

    Why Bush won't attack Iran:Despite saber-rattling, and the Washington buzz that a strike is coming, the president doesn't intend to bomb Iran. Cheney may have other ideas. By Steven Clemons, in Salon.

    It's not just Honey, profile of Burt's Bees, in the New York Times. As expected, there hasn't been a 'Burt' in the company for many, many years, and he wasn't much a part anyway...just a face. And he lived in Maine, not the company's North Carolina headquarters.

    Introducing this blog, Paul Krugman's Conscience of a Liberal, in the New York Times. Check out the chart on the rich/poor ratio in America in the last century:
    The middle-class society I grew up in didn’t evolve gradually or automatically. It was created, in a remarkably short period of time, by FDR and the New Deal. As the chart shows, income inequality declined drastically from the late 1930s to the mid 1940s, with the rich losing ground while working Americans saw unprecedented gains.

    The Washington Post factchecks Fred Thompson's claim that "it doesn't take you long to realize that our people have shed more blood for other people's liberty than any other combination of nations in the history of the world." and finds:
    Even if the Soviet Union [which suffered 8 million casualties in WWII] is not included in the calculation, U.S. military casualties in all wars combined remain lower than those of the British Commonwealth ("a combination of nations," in Thompson's phrase) in World War I and World War II.

    Commentary and open Times

    Among the huge benefits to the NY Times' having opened up Times Select(Dan Gillmor's comment) to the non-paying public: Dick Cavett's column is now available to all. Today's is wonderful, on his appearance in the Nixon tapes (much more interesting if you're old enough to remember Dick Cavett): Him, to Kick Around Again.
    ...there is something unsettling when it’s your name being abused by the chief executive of the United States. And isn’t there something nauseating about the spectacle of the most powerful man in the world scheming to “screw” a late-night chat show that he apparently sees as part of a widespread conspiracy to bring him down?

    On that New York Times Select opening, one thing I meant to mention was that I wondered if this meant the Times' archives were now included in this free access, since that was one of the great benefits to Select for subscribers. Now I see Sheila Lennon has already answered this question for me, and she's found that many many years of the archive (1851 to 1922 and 1987 to the present) are now searchable and displayable for free on the Times' site. Sheila: "History -- searchable primary sources -- is now an open book, within certain dates. This is a huge contribution to the culture. Thanks, Gray Lady." Let's hope this lasts.
    (Note the archives are in PDF format so you can see how the stories, with photos etc, appeared on the page. I've used it online before, and paid, and you can still get those stories between 1922 and 1987 there too.)

    And, a columnist who's guaranteed to get your blood pressure up if you're a confirmed red-stater, the San Francisco Chronicle's Mark Morford, whose column last Friday lays it all on the line: Iraq, deep in your bones; A war that isn't really a war, the great humiliation that's ours forever. Is there any upside? Harsh words but maybe -- just maybe -- a chance for hope, I hope:
    Iraq is, was, and forever will be our very own massive strategic blunder, a failed land grab for position and power in a tinderbox region defined by furious instability and corruption and death.
    ...we are well past the point of salvaging anything noble or honest from Bush's massive, historic debacle. We have only this brutal reality: Iraq is, and forever will be, one of the most extraordinary wastes in all of American history.
    ...We are not safer. We are not better off in any measurable way. We are not stronger or more unified or prouder or more respected or healthier or wealthier or wiser and we have done exactly zero to stem the flood of radical Islam or the general outpouring of global disgust at what America has become under this president.
    ...By many measures, the worst of it is over. There really is light coming, a new awareness, a shift away from the bleakness and the rot and the wallowing in bland violence. Perhaps you can feel it.

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    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Strong opinions

    Interesting commentary in the news this weekend:

    In The Daily Mail, Correlli Barnett writes Bush the Jihadist: How the world was plunged into an apocalyptic war.
    ...exactly why did Osama Bin Laden decide to attack the World Trade Centre and other American targets?
    It is clear enough that Bin Laden himself and Islamist militants everywhere are motivated by sheer hatred of America, her global hegemony and her materialist civilisation. This goes hand in hand with a passionate religious belief in the righteousness of the cause.
    ...Bush and his neo-con cronies have been all too willing to accept the challenge.
    Why? Because just as much as Bin Laden and his fellow jihadists, they, too, see world affairs in simple terms of ideological conviction.
    Remember, Bush and his vicepresident Dick Cheney are fundamentalist Christians, while Bush's own political base lies in his fellow fundamentalists of the American 'Bible belt'. And tragically for Britain, Tony Blair passionately shared Bush's belief that world policy must be inspired by religious faith.
    The grim truth is that when George W. Bush declared "a global war on terror", he was really announcing a jihad of his own - a struggle to convert the whole world to American-style capitalist democracy.
    ...if only George W. Bush would abandon his paranoid search for ideological monsters, we could all sleep more peacefully in our beds.

    From James Wolcott, in Vanity Fair: The Simple Life: White House Edition.
    From the slapstick genius of his China trip to his spitball contests with the press, Bush has the makings of a major reality-TV star. With some image tweaking, the author proposes, a 24-hour "Prez Channel" could turn the administration's dismal ratings around.

    Glenn Greenwald: American war culture in a nutshell:
    ...within this ugly dynamic lies much of the explanation for what has happened to our country since the 9/11 attack, and the personality type that continues to drive it today.
    Or, as FireDogLake puts it: Why Do Republicans Want to Punish the Troops for George Bush’s Failures?

    For a break from political rhetoric, some other news/commentary:

    In The Miami Herald, a story by Lisa Arthur on a politician who's found something worthwhile to do with her life, Janet Reno leads a musical history tour.
    ...the woman who left an indelible mark on U.S. history by serving as the country's first female attorney general is adding to her legacy with a ``mix tape.''
    She is the brains behind Song of America, a three-CD, 50-song ''history book'' that is due in stores on Tuesday.

    And, in the Achenblog, Joel writes about huge homes and how their owners should pay a debt to society: Giant Houses: Impermissible? principle we have a government that says that you can't alter your environment without getting permission, and that permission costs money. But -- correct me if I'm wrong -- we don't require people to get a permit to be a carbon pig.

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    In this Saturday post, Sheila Lennon muses about blogrolls and whether they're important, after Doc Searls announced he'd removed his from his new blog. Says Sheila:
    Blogrolls are endangered. Read the discussion -- More blog, less roll -- at Doc Searls' new Harvard hang. The applause for white space and splendid isolation makes me squirm uncomfortably.
    I regret the dust bunnies and shrunken heads of my own blogroll. Linking is a generous way to participate in and extend the Web, and I hope soon to replace this archaic relic with blogs that feel intelligently alive to me now, each in a different way.

    I hear you, Sheila. My blogroll, not the one on the side of this page, (which is -- mostly -- up to date, except for a couple that have changed or been rarely updated since I added them and I keep hoping they'll come back --) is dearly in need of a total makeover.

    Most of the journalism links on that separate page are still good. Some other categories (like Florida blogs, library blogs, and photo blogs) I don't check as much as I used to. But are still many, many blogs here that I check regularly. Of the rest, some probably don't exist any more. Keeping track is time-consuming and that's why many people use feed readers. I don't, much. I like clicking on the blogs and seeing what's changed. But I don't have time to check as many as I once did.

    Like Sheila, though, I believe in the power of linking as the real value of the Web. We don't link to our online friends and sources regularly in postings but want those links easily available. I use my blogroll much more than my bookmarks, and I can get to it from anywhere. It will stay and will -- soon, I hope -- improve.

    (In addition, the Curious Expeditions blog that Sheila links to has a posting I meant to note last week when someone mentioned it on the NewsLib listserv: Librophiliac Love Letter: A Compendium of Beautiful Libraries. I've seen only a couple of these libraries and find these photographs amazing.)


    Weekend update: more links from last week

    A few things I didn't have time to link this weekend.....

  • Stop the Spying, from EFF, campaign to stop legislation allowing telecoms to continue wiretapping programs.
  • Charlie Savage: the Cheney Project at TPM Cafe's Table for One. Former colleague Savage, who won a Pulitzer and other awards for his stories on presidential signing statements, explains in this column how his research led to a new book, Takeover: The Return of the Imperial Presidency and the Subversion of American Democracy. What Charlie learned:
    ...this agenda of concentrating more unchecked power in the White House was primarily coming out of Vice President Cheney’s office.

  • On Google search result numbers: Mark Schaver looks at results and wonders why they're so inflated, using Politfact as an example.
  • Homeland Insecurity: The 9/11 Conspiracy File: Myths and Facts. James Ridgeway finds the facts behind the myths, in Mother Jones.
  • Lie by Lie: The Mother Jones Iraq War Timeline (8/1/90 - 6/21/03).

    The research links:

  • Old Magazine
  • SITE Institute: the search for international terrorist entities monitors web sites, propaganda documents and more for intelligence.

    Governments, Politics:
  • Issue Coverage Tracker from, compares coverage by issue and presidential candidate.

  • Cooking with Google, the cool tool from ResearchBuzz's Tara Calashain, has been refined so that it's set to search recipe sites first, and by category.

    Public Records:
  • Online crime maps, links from Journalistopia.
  • Utah's Right to Know, public records databases including court records, public employee salaries, etc. from Salt Lake Tribune.
  • Oklahoma county clerk databases: search recording indexes of 28 counties at once.

  • Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Portrait of a lady (and a Dame)

    Most Americans probably never noticed the obituary this week of Anita Roddick, or if they did, didn't recognize the name. Too bad. Dame Anita (who was given an O.B.E. and the title by the Queen in 2003), was a visionary who did more to change the world than many of her contemporaries.

    She started a small natural cosmetics shop in Brighton, England, in 1976 and built it up into a huge global business, The Body Shop.

    She worked with only natural ingredients, recycled packaging, and ended up devoting herself to ending animal testing of cosmetics and apartheid in South Africa, helping small business owners in Nicaragua, campaigning to save the rain forests and stop violence against women, among many, many other causes.

    She died this week at 64. Said Dame Anita, four years ago: 'I am 60 years old, and I'm not quite done yet with the business of being a woman'. More wisdom: 'If you think you’re too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.'

    Here are just two of many reminiscences about this excellent life: How Anita changed the world, in The Independent; and There Was Nothing Like This Dame, from Rory O'Connor at Media is a Plural.

    Wednesday, September 12, 2007

    Enough social networking?

    You won't be getting an invitation to Quechup from me, I hope. I just got my first invitation, from someone who I once had a couple email conversations with, years ago. I'm sure this wasn't a direct invitation, but one of the spam-like emails generated by Quechup, which goes into your email directory and sends an invitation to everyone there.

    If you've missed the warnings from many, many other bloggers, take it from me: don't respond to Quechup invitations unless you know what it does.

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Mythology in the news

    Yesterday's link to the NYT/CBS poll on Iraq missed one sentence in the story that was noticed by Dan Gillmor and illustrates the mythology that builds up in the populace and the media during a time of crisis: Journalists Failure to Dispel Saddam-9/11 Myth is Media Scandal.

    Yes, according to this poll, a third of the populace in this country still believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. Shocking.
    Six in 10 Americans said in the poll that administration officials deliberately misled the public in making a case for the war; 33 percent of all Americans, including 40 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats, say Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
    says Gillmor:
    The continuing scandal is that media organizations are doing so little to correct the record. Because it is not enough to run an occasional story debunking the lie.

    (Added later): For a chilling deja vu, check out the pictures that BAG News Notes found of presidents and their generals in a war zone: From The "While Petraeus Testifies" Department: Been There, Done That. This gives me chills.

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    Monday, September 10, 2007

    Petraeus, Iraq casualties, and conservative minds

    Berkeley Breathed may have posted his best 'Opus' cartoon since the beginning of Bloom County: whatever you do don't miss "Petreaus", on Salon (or in your local Sunday paper).

    From Washington Monthly, The Myth of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Analysis shows the group is much less influential than we have heard:
    After a strike, the military rushes to point the finger at al-Qaeda, even when the actual evidence remains hazy and an alternative explanation—raw hatred between local Sunnis and Shiites—might fit the circumstances just as well. The press blasts such dubious conclusions back to American citizens and policy makers in Washington, and the incidents get tallied and quantified in official reports, cited by the military in briefings in Baghdad. The White House then takes the reports and crafts sound bites depicting AQI as the number one threat to peace and stability in Iraq.
    In truth, reports Andrew Tilghman,
    AQI includes about 850 full-time fighters, comprising 2 percent to 5 percent of the Sunni insurgency. "Al-Qaeda in Iraq," according to Nance, "is a microscopic terrorist organization."

    Meanwhile, TPM Muckraker reports on how well the surge is serving the people of Iraq: Iraq Civilian Casualties: 2007 Outpaces 2006.
    Even as today's testimony from General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker is considered a possible make-or-break moment for U.S. policy on Iraq, with the Bush Administration and the Pentagon touting the success of the surge in reducing civilian casualties, there is no general agreement on what civilian casualties have been or on what the most accurate methodology for tallying casualties is.
    TPM' figures were gleaned from reports from Iraq Body Count and the AP.

    The Village Voice reports on how the Times covered another big story which is just coming out, who was responsible for dismantling the Iraqi military: Paper Trails in Iraq.

    Right wing bloggers are livid over an ad bought by Move On, in the New York Times: Petraeus 'Betray Us' ad is group's 'shock and awe' (from Tribune's The Swamp blog). Note the Swamp's report mentions a NYT/CBS poll that shows "most Americans have more faith in the military to bring the Iraq War to a successful conclusion than they have in civilian leadership"; Talk Left disputes that conclusion.

    Finally, why do conservatives and liberals think so differently? The Los Angeles Times reports on a study that suggests our brains work differently:
    Based on the results...liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.


    Weekend roundup

    Just a few new research links from last week, but they're good ones:

  • Journalism 2.0: How to survive and thrive, PDF pamphlet from Knight Citizen News Network.
  • People Search Tools Populate the Web , InfoToday's Paula Hane looks at several of them.
  • 2004 Hurricane FEMA database, from Ft. Myers News-Press and Gannett, search addresses of those who registered for aid after Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne in 2004.
  • Timeline of America's War on Drugs from NPR.
  • What's New At... from PI Buzz, links to collections of new public records, including newspaper databases, 'new' lists, archives, etc.
  • Medline Plus: Herbal Supplements
  • Sacred: online gallery from the British Library with images of sacred texts from around the world.

  •, new news aggregator.

  • Friday, September 07, 2007

    Iran? Wingnuts, and carbon guzzlers

    Once again, the war drums rumble:

    In The Sunday Times: Pentagon ‘three-day blitz’ plan for Iran.

    From A Tiny Revolution: Wow, We Suck. Yep, I suck too.
    Afghanistan? Okay, that was impossible. Iraq? Well...September 11th, etc. But Iran? If you can't stop the third war in six years—one that's going to happen because shredding infants with flechettes is the last remaining activity that provides William Kristol sexual gratification—you should change your name from "anti-war movement" to "pro-sucking movement."

    In the New Republic: Feast of the Wingnuts. Not about Iran but on the economic disaster brought about by the policies of those who have also crafted our foreign policy over the last several years.

    And, last, as long as we're berating the state of political responsibility in this country, a column from Michael Niman in Artvoice: Getting a Grip: Carbon Culture.
    All of this consumption squanders precious, nonrenewable resources both in production and shipping while producing all sorts of waste products such as carbon, the effects of which we are only now beginning to understand. Fetishistic consumerism isn’t harmless—it’s adding up to the biggest threat humanity and the world has ever faced.

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    Check out the article on Poynter by Mallary Jean Tenore about Twitter for journalists. I've been paying attention to the Twitter buzz somewhat (especially Dave Winer's tweaks), but wasn't aware that news organizations like the New York Times and CNN had active Twitter accounts with thousands of followers. Or that John Edwards updates his Twitter regularly.

    A quick look at the Twitter site finds more news organizations using Twitter, from ESPN to Guardian Tech and Sky News.

    Food for thought.

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    More from Iraq

    I was particularly struck by this summary at Cursor linking to Riverbend's posting about her flight from Iraq:
    "The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming," writes Iraqi refugee Riverbend, now among the estimated 1.5 million Iraqi refugees in Syria, with another 800,000 in Jordan, and 719 in the U.S.
    Read those numbers again.

    In Vanity Fair: Billions over Baghdad, where investigative reporters Bartlett and Steele "discover just how little anyone cared about how the money was handled."That's $12 billion in cash that was transferred from the Federal Reserve to Iraq, and of which only $3 billion can be accounted for.

    That's only the beginning, and one trail leads to a contractor whose records are shady at best. Bartlett and Steele conclude:
    There is no true method of calculating the human cost of the war in Iraq. The monetary cost, grossly inflated by theft and corruption, is another matter. One simple piece of data puts this into perspective: to date, America has spent twice as much in inflation-adjusted dollars to rebuild Iraq as it did to rebuild Japan—an industrialized country three times Iraq's size, two of whose cities had been incinerated by atomic bombs.

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    The sad story continues

    In Salon, from Sidney Blumenthal: Bush knew Saddam had no weapons of mass destruction.

    And, there's word from Iraqi blogger Riverbend, who hasn't been heard from in a long while: she's a refugee in Syria. Leaving Home...
    As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn’t want to seem like a baby. I didn’t want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.


    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    About that 2000 election, a new news site, and Cuba rumors

    Fascinating tale from next month's Vanity Fair, by Evgenia Peretz: Going After Gore:
    Al Gore couldn't believe his eyes: as the 2000 election heated up, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other top news outlets kept going after him, with misquotes ("I invented the Internet"), distortions (that he lied about being the inspiration for Love Story), and strangely off-the-mark needling, while pundits such as Maureen Dowd appeared to be charmed by his rival, George W. Bush. For the first time, Gore and his family talk about the effect of the press attacks on his campaign—and about his future plans—to the author, who finds that many in the media are re-assessing their 2000 coverage.

    From's Yays and Nays blog: Book says Souter mulled resignation after Bush v. Gore.

    In the Mahablog: We are all uninsured now:
    The health insurance crisis is no longer just a matter of poor people, or the unemployed, being left uninsured. The health insurance crisis has spread to the middle class. If even a former Supreme Court justice is worried, it is spreading to higher-income citizens as well.
    ... in 1993, when the Clintons brought out their health care plan, the insurance industry’s “Harry and Louise” ads effectively frightened people to stick by the status quo. I had problems with the Clinton’s approach, but it’s interesting to me that the Right still speaks of it as a failure. It didn’t fail, because it was never tried. What is failing is the status quo.
    The 2000 election connection? Read the first, raw, comment.

    On another note, news of a new news site that is worth watching: Newser. Why is this news? Because it's brought to you by the folks that created Highbeam Research, where you can find news stories and magazine and journal articles from their archives, going a long way back. And this site has several new and interesting features, worth browsing. Note Newser's Top 100 News sources. Vanity Fair writes about Newser, too.

    News is in the news these days, what with Google News adding stories from the AP, AFP and several other newswires. Speaking of Google News, worth mentioning (again) that they also have a news archive search.

    In Miami, the blogs and news organizations have been having a field day with the rumors of Castro's death. For awhile there, you couldn't click on a Miami blog without some mention of the rumors. Poynter discusses the dilemma this creates for Miami newspapers, in Not Dead Yet.

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    Sunday, September 02, 2007

    Weekend update: More research links from the week

    Here are some uncategorizable links that will make you think:

  • Wikirage: what Wikipedia entries are being edited most?
  • How to protect your privacy, useful article on getting info deleted from search engines, from Daniel Tynan at MacWorld.
  • Hugh Macleod: Why Microsoft should buy Facebook, interesting thoughts on search/recommendation. Hugh says: "because at the end of the day, all search begins and ends with people, not algorithms."

    The other links:

  • NFL Football 2007 Fast Facts, Stats, links compiled by Resourceshelf.
  • University of Wisconsin Digital Collections, links to the entire library of digital documents, covering Africa to Women's Studies, with lots in between from an Icelandic dictionary to history collections.
  • Public Domain Books from Questia: 5000 available for free.

  • Latin America and the Caribbean in the World Economy 2006. Trends 2007, report from ECLAC/CEPAL.
  • United Nations Disarmament Yearbook, 2005

    Governments, Politics:
  • Foreign Relations of the United States, the State Department record books, from Truman adminstration to Nixon administration. See also:
    University of Wisconsin Digital Collections: Foreign Relations of the U.S., which covers 1861-1899 and 1900-1918. Here's the volume covering Cuba, 1958-1960.
  • Congressional trips database from Legistorm.
  • PolitiFact

  • Journalists' Toolkit 1, Syllabus for a class taught by Mindy McAdams at UF.

  • Searching Dirty to Find What's Hidden; from The Virtual Chase, a guide to mining Web sources to find information about companies they don't want you to know.

  • AllinOne News, a new search that claims to search 1800 news search engines from 200 countries.

    Public Records:
  • Montana Criminal Record check, $11.50 per search.
  • Michigan ICHAT: The Internet Criminal History Access Tool, criminal records searches for $10.
  • AltLaw: fulltext searches of U.S. Supreme and Circuit Appeals Courts case reports from Columbia Law School.