February, 2008 link archive

Friday, February 1, 2008

With the field narrowed, a generally cordial Democratic debate targets the GOP and the '"CEO President" Fantasy,' as the candidates engage in some cautious sparring on the issue of immigration, given the potentially critical role of the divided Latino vote.

Near the end of what Josh Marshall terms a "shockingly substantive" debate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, after a day of bad press, appears to fumble an explanation of her Iraq war vote, and falls back on "the myth that Saddam 'kicked out' inspectors," while Obama counters with a vow to "end the mindset that got us into war in the first place."

In a new political memoir, former Sen. Lincoln Chafee offers a scathing assessment of how Democrats crumbled, assenting to war with "no conviction or evidence of their own ... just parroting the administration's nonsense," as an article in Mother Jones reviews what happened to Democrats' "new direction" in Iraq.

Suicide bombers kill dozens in a pair of attacks at Baghdad markets, adding to a resurgence of violence at a time when, it's argued, "political reconciliation ... has rarely looked like a more distant goal," while below the headline of a Time essay purporting to explain 'Why the Surge Worked,' it's explained that success is only "fragile and limited" and ultimately not guaranteed.

U.S. casualties in Iraq rise for the first time in four months, and President Bush signals that no more troop drawdowns may be scheduled during his presidency, even as a new report faults the combat readiness of National Guard units, which have been 'picked apart to fill wartime jobs.'

According to a new report from Human Rights Watch critical of how the 'West gives false "democracies" a pass,' "Washington and European governments will accept even the most dubious election so long as the 'victor' is a strategic or commercial ally." Plus: Cracks in 'Pakistani PR.'

As an 'Al Qaeda kingpin' is reported killed by a U.S. strike in Pakistan, one accounting has this as the seventh number 3 man who has been captured or killed recently.

Reading between the lines of Israel's Winograd report, Tony Karon calls "the U.S. role in Israel's decision making" during the Lebanon war the unmentioned elephant in the room, as Amnesty International charges that the report made no serious attempt to probe violations of humanitarian law or recommend prosecutions for perpetrators. Plus: The Mezuzah defense.

A Danish TV documentary sparks an investigation of whether Greenland was used as a transit site for the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program, as Al Jazeera reports on ongoing inquiries into the use of Diego Garcia as "a center for rendition prisoners" that are being stonewalled by the British government.

Insisting that "we haven't violated anyone's liberties," Vice President Cheney deploys some new vocabulary in defense of telecom immunity, while Glenn Greenwald warns that the new rules for Monday's FISA vote "shouldn't be sold as some sort of great resolve on the part of Democratic Senators."

A new chapter in the McCain Mutiny? Hostility from conservatives to Sen. John McCain who, Democrats reveal, 'nearly abandoned GOP,' is threatening to split the party, with some looking for something to love in the light of his primary successes, while others grumble about a 'new axis of evil' in the electorate.

Ann Coulter, who is getting in through the back door at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, talks of jumping ship for Hillary, and Glenn Beck's rants against 'Juan McCain' would apparently prove too much even for RedState.com.

As McCain goes for the green, a Pew study suggests that 'Republicans don't care about warming planet,' while ABC's Jake Tapper employs some selective editing to suggest that 'Bill Clinton proposed "slowing down our economy" to fight climate change.'

Michael Klare explains how oil sent the American economy 'barreling into recession,' a CEPR analysis projects negative effects on workers long after the financial markets begin to recover, Super Tuesday highlights the weakness of state labor markets, and trash and go responses to foreclosures pose a dilemma for the housing industry.

As triumphalism withers under 'an uncomfortable spotlight in Davos, John Edwards' departure from the presidential race is said to remove a convenient "target for covert class prejudices," and 'the way in which AT&T friendly bills got shepherded through the Wisconsin legislature is seen as 'a case study in 'how corporations get what they want.'

Pirate Bay gets boarded, its proprietors charged with "promoting other people's infringements of copyright laws," but it's asked 'Should it be illegal to point?,' as an old distinction between cultural and commercial uses of copyright is revisited.

Jan. 31

Monday, February 4, 2008

With polls showing that the Democratic race has become a cliffhanger both in the nation as a whole and in California in advance of Super Tuesday, the Obama campaign takes a lyrical turn and Frank Rich considers the potential of poetry as a tool of governing.

A McClatchy article finds that Hillary 'Clinton's "35 years of change" omits most of her career,' as NPR mistakenly reports that Bill Richardson endorsed Hillary, although he did sit down to watch the Super Bowl with her husband.

'Nuclear interests pull a big switch' and throw the bulk of their political contributions toward the Democratic candidates, with Obama "the largest beneficiary", a new tool makes it easier to follow the oil money, and big oil funds a 'climate skeptics conference.'

Matt Welch sums up "The Myth of a Maverick" for "Democracy Now!", while Joshua Holland expands on the theme that McCain's viability as a candidate rests on "two narratives that have absolutely no connection with reality."

With the war in Iraq moving back toward center stage in the election, and McCain is offered the neocon imprimatur, Robert Parry considers which of the Democratic candidates is best positioned to fend off the 'GOP attack machine' in a media environment that elevates questions of character over issues of policy.

As a Pentagon panel advises that the 'U.S must sell "good news,"' Patrick Cockburn reviews how a week in Iraq confirms the country's status as "the most dangerous in the world," and Thomas Ricks lays out the contours of the 'three wars' that still engage the U.S. there.

Although passage of a new Iraqi law is supposed to reverse some of the effects of de-Baathification, it remains unclear, according to a McClatchy report, whether it will "promote reconciliation ... or make matters worse," and many Sunnis suspect 'a sinister trap,' and fear for their lives.

Widespread media reports about, and denunciations of, a pair of bloody suicide bombings in Iraq emphasize that they were carried out by "mentally disabled" women, apparently putting the headlines ahead of the facts, and ignoring significant reasons for doubting this claim.

Although the proposed 2009 budget is pushing annual military spending beyond Vietnam to its highest level since World War II, Slate's Fred Kaplan argues that the challenge for the next president will be dealing with "a world in which U.S. hegemony is a thing of the past." Plus: 'The tenacity of American militarism.'

40 years on, the Tet offensive, which "continues to haunt U.S. military planners to this day," provides a still relevant object lesson, Stanley Karnow contends, in the meaning of "an unwinnable war."

With pessimism growing about the conflict in Afghanistan, insurgencies spreading through the region, and a humanitarian crisis looming, Berlin rejects a call to send German troops to Taliban hot spots, the latest in a series of clashes over Nato troop reinforcements.

As a strike against one Al Qaeda leader is now seen as only 'a limited success,' or perhaps no success at all, another leader, reported dead in 2006, is now said to be leading the organization's program to develop or obtain weapons of mass destruction, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

Concluding that the 'Syrian facility bombed by Israel not nuclear,' Seymour Hersh, in a new piece on Israel's 'Strike in the Dark' for the New Yorker, suggests instead that the strike may have been "warning about -- and a model for -- a preemptive attack on Iran."

Wikileaks posts a 2005 document outlining the rules for engagement for U.S. troops in Baghdad and central Iraq, which included an authorization of cross-border raids into Iran and Syria.

As the Senate revisits the FISA bill, Richard Clarke takes on "fear-mongering" in the Bush administration's lobbying campaign, a different kind of national security threat is highlighted, and Glenn Greenwald asks, 'Is Michael Mukasey prioritizing the harassment and imprisonment of journalists?

The In These Times article 'Extraordinary Rendition on Trial' follows the efforts of the ACLU to 'ground a Boeing subsidiary that trafficked in torture,' an appeals court rejects a Bush administration request for selective use of evidence in detainee status reviews, and the U.S. settles a lawsuit over forced drugging of immigrants.

With hard times a "hallmark of the U.S. economy" even when the economy was expanding, according to a Dollars & Sense analysis, Barbara Ehrenreich looks at how the boom got "decoupled from ordinary experience," and despite growing anxiety, it appears that the stimulus may leave the unemployed behind. Plus; 'Disowned by the Ownership Society.'

Feb. 1-3

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

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As Democrats abroad kick off what could be a 'Super-Complicated Tuesday,' the U.S. electorate enters "gloriously unknowable territory," where 'It depends on what meaning of "win" wins.'

With Newsweek and the Washington Post "putting their big editorial guns in front of webcams for six continuous hours of live coverage," a "change" election finds "the best-known television pundits ... entangled in old partisanship and past allegiances," and Fox News 'hypes' a strategist who 'knows it all.'

As it's reported how Sen. Clinton "set herself up to run for president as both a pro-war and an anti-war candidate,' a Georgetown student describes how he 'became the loneliest man on campus,' and a New Yorker renews his 2002 pledge to Clinton, who is 'On Message, and On Television.'

With Sen. Obama's economic views described as "left-libertarianism," a Tennessean says that she "doesn't want a man who's going to use the 'korean' to be sworn in as president," and 'Bill Clinton didn't punch Barack Obama in the face,' but does that mean Obama isn't 'ready for a fistfight?'

A PEJ study finds that 'McCain wins the coverage battle as media move to anoint him,' McCain and Romney do a 'flip-flop waltz,' and a report suggests the emergence of yet another 'New Mitt Romney.'

As 'States prepare for tests of changes to voting system,' one poll finds Democrats owning every issues, a tracking poll has Obama and Romney leading in California, 'Super Tuesday South' is previewed, and Ward Connerly plans his 'Super Tuesday for Equal Rights.'

President Bush proposes yet another milestone budget, that is said to "lowballing the deficits" and 'disastrous for health care,' but according to the Senate Budget Committee's chairman, it will also be "quickly forgotten."

Trying to make sense of 'The chaos in America's vast security budget,' Fred Kaplan says "the real size is not, as many news stories have reported, $515.4 billion," or even $688 billion, "but, rather, $713.1 billion."

The budget requests the federal minimum pay raise for service members, a vet's group takes issue with the long-term accounting, and among the finalists for an investigative reporting prize, is a Nation article revealing "how military doctors are purposely misdiagnosing soldiers wounded in Iraq as having been ill before joining the Army."

As 'Iraq accuses Iran of stealing its oil,' Iraq's oil minister tells of his escape from Abu Ghraib after ten years in solitary confinement for refusing to work on Iraq's nuclear weapons program, while another former Iraqi engineer describes how the CIA ignored his 2002 warning that the program had been scrapped in 1995. Plus: The fifth anniversary of a vial event.

With reports suggesting "some pretty deep problems" with the Awakening Councils, Iraq is 'braced for more cholera outbreaks,' and while an Iraqi official says that Baghdad is "drowning in sewage, thirsty for water and largely powerless," a U.S. military commander predicts that in "less than 10 years," Baghdad will receive full power, 24/7.

Before Monday's "first suicide attack in Israel in just over a year," which 'may have originated in Gaza border chaos,' Israelis were told to prepare "rocket rooms," Spiegel checked out the 'graveyard shift' at a 'Gaza rocket factory,' and a tally of the past 11 U.S. presidential debates found that "the grand total of references to the Gaza Strip is zero."

A BBC correspondent accompanies a Gaza man on a mattress shopping trip to Egypt, where Robert Fisk also ended up in search of the forger who had placed Fisk's name on the cover of the book, "Saddam Hussein: From Birth to Martyrdom."

After Erykah Badu arrived in Israel sporting an "Out of Iraq" T-shirt, defending Louis Farrakhan, and saying that she identified with the Palestinians and their hip hop scene, she delivered what was called "the best R&B performance ever seen on an Israeli stage."

February 4

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

As it's observed that "all the big states that rushed into the void to hold early primaries may turn out to have spoken too soon," David Corn describes the 'Long Slog' facing Democrats, with the two candidates virtually tied in votes and delegates.

With Clinton seen as 'the lesser threat to McCain,' Harold Meyerson calls McCain's "triumph of biography over ideology," a "direct affront to the Republican strategy devised by Karl Rove," but Pat Buchanan says that if McCain's the nominee, "he will make Cheney look like Gandhi."

As conservative talk radio is branded the primary season's 'Biggest Loser,' the 'Netroots open fire on Hillary for agreeing to debate on Fox,' whose election night team was said to be "so confused they can barely talk."

Defending 'Wall to Wall to Wal-Mart Political Coverage," Jack Shafer argues that it "has created a beneficial 'tyranny of choice' for voters," as 'TV pundits race to say - well, anything on Super Tuesday.'

In promoting its finding that Barack Obama was the "most liberal" senator in 2007, the National Journal touted its designation of John Kerry as the "most liberal" in 2003, even though it has admitted that it was based on flawed methodology. And, a possible fall-back for Obama.

With FISA Legislation "held hostage" by GOP senators, President Bush threatened to veto any bill that doesn't include telecom immunity.

Sen. Dick Durbin called on the Justice Department to 'investigate CIA waterboarding,' following CIA Director Michael Hayden's confirmation that the U.S. had used it on three detainees. On Wednesday, the White House again defended the technique.

National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell testified on Tuesday that Al Qaeda is improving "the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.," and is being strengthened by its refuge in Pakistan, where there's "a growing belief that the upcoming election likely will be plagued by widespread vote rigging and fraud."

While 'Pakistan kicked me out,' writes U.S. journalist Nicholas Schmidle, 'Others were less lucky,' like one who lost his TV show, and another who lost his life.

Hamas claims responsibility for Monday's suicide bombing in Israel, and the 'IDF kills nine Hamas men in Gaza, Qassams rain on Sderot.'

The Nation looks at 'Lives on the Ground' from Israeli and Palestinian writers, including the "Dark Hope" of David Shulman, and photographer Paolo Pellegrin says the war he captured in "Double Blind" was "perhaps a harbinger of the 'modern' wars to come."

U.S. journalists are encouraged to ask the likely presidential nominees about a possible 'pre-election attack on Iran,' and it's argued that "from the prism of balance of power, Iran has suffered a net loss due to the U.S.'s invasions" of Iraq and Afghanistan.

As Defense Secretary Gates 'estimates war costs but calls it inaccurate,' a formula is advanced for 'Getting past nowhere on budget,' and a report showing that U.S. service industries 'unexpectedly shrank,' leaves "Wall Street ever more convinced that the U.S. economy might already be in recession."

With Islamic banks said to have been 'shielded from subprime,' Dean Baker sees the subprime crisis "about to fade from the headlines," because "the mortgage crisis is moving upmarket" into prime loans, and, into commercial property. Plus: A comeback for savings?

With the advent of "Tupperware-style Taser parties," hosted by an Arizona saleswoman, Taser International announces that "it will offer a pump-action Taser shotgun that will allow officers to knock out people from as far as 65 feet away."

February 5

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Attorney General Mukasey tells a House committee that he won't investigate the CIA's waterboarding of three detainees, and court documents contradict claims made by the CIA director about the destruction of interrogation videos.

As the 'UN blasts White House on waterboarding,' an inquiry is made of Sen. John McCain: "Do you agree that the United States, under the leadership of George W. Bush, has committed war crimes and has stated that it sees no obstacle to doing so again?"

Robert Parry accuses the Bush administration of 'Injecting "Terror" into Campaign 2008,' and while one Guantanamo commander confirms the existence of a secret Camp 7, holding 15 "high-value detainees," another raises the spectre of an Al-Qaeda attack on Guantanamo. Plus: 'New charges of Gitmo torture.'

Al-Qaeda in Iraq militants have reportedly "shifted tactics to try to improve their image among Iraqis" in the city of Mosul, which is said to be "the next major test for the U.S. military in Iraq."

In Senate testimony, Defense Secretary Gates echoes the White House's claim that it will not seek a long-term "security guarantee" with Iraq, where "Concerned Local Citizens" have given way to the "Sons of Iraq."

Moqtada al-Sadr rejects calls for the 'Mehdi Army to take up arms again in Iraq,' and a U.S. military-released video piques NPR's interest in the exploitation of children in Iraq.

An opening night review of George Packer's play "Betrayed," about the plight of Iraqi translators, begins with one of the characters saying, "It is strange to think of becoming Swedish." Previewing the play, New York Times correspondent Dexter Filkins wrote that "The fatigue of the double life lies at the core of 'Betrayed.'"

The "Torture Couture" of fashion designer John Galliano prompts an "On The Media" discussion of 'Political Threads,' that includes a reference to Hussein Chalayan's "Between," featuring chadors of varying lengths.

The Iranian government is criticized for shutting down the magazine Zanan, which it called a "threat to the psychological security of the society."

A Palestinian pollster who found Hamas getting a 'border busting bump," says in an interview that Israel "essentially wasted all of the gains that Fatah has made as the result of Hamas' blunder in June."

"Democracy Now!" hosts a post-Super Tuesday roundtable with authors and activists, and as 17,000 provisional ballots are set to be examined in New Mexico, the Los Angeles Times is taken to task for reporting "Few election glitches, except for independents."

As Sen. Obama makes his superdelegate pitch, it's said that he "remains the object in motion," and with his campaign's fundraising matching Sen. Clinton's $5 million loan, and then some, it's argued that "we are now seeing the internet's role in politics in full flower."

With the Clinton campaign reportedly raising $4 million since Tuesday, DNC head Howard Dean said that if the race continues into the summer, "we're going to have to get the candidates together and make some kind of an arrangement," to preclude the possibility of a brokered convention.

While MSNBC's pundits ensure that 'There Will be Losers,' Chris Matthews ignores the 'Super Turnout for Democrats,' and Greg Sargent wonders if Obama is 'Being hurt by MSNBC and his other media worshippers?'

As Obama's supporters are likened to cultists, a Fox News host compares McCain to Norman Bates, Karl Rove is said to have been "actually pretty good" in his debut, and the Village Voice reports on "Naked Launch," a memoir by a former Fox editor that is being serialized online.

Maclean's interviews John Sayles, whose new film "Honeydripper," set in 1950, stars Danny Glover as a piano man in rural Alabama trying to save his failing juke joint, and who hires a stand in for the no-show star, Guitar Slim.

February 6

Friday, February 8, 2008

As Mitt Romney exits stage right amid boos from disappointed conservative activists, and $50 million poorer, David Letterman loses a favorite punching bag, and TPM rounds up the highlights of 'Mittpocalypse Now.'

More boos greet Sen. John McCain at the Conservative Political Action Conference, as he tries to woo attendees with promises popular on the right, but with issues of trust unresolved, he ducks a difficult vote.

Listening to Tom Delay, Digby gets "the feeling that the conservatives are gaming this thing" and preparing to blame the loss on "the fact that McCain wasn't a real conservative," as John Dean looks at how the GOP is getting hammered as the party of "fiscal irresponsibility."

After Democrats drop demands for "jobless benefits, heating aid for the poor and tax breaks for certain industries," the Senate passes an economic stimulus plan, but what's really needed given the scope and potential duration of the crisis, Robert Kuttner contends, is a far more ambitious 'major recovery plan.'

David Sirota analyzes the bizarre silences of the 'Democrats' class war' that has Hillary Clinton beating Barack Obama among voters making $50,000 a year or less -- despite his surprisingly good showing among union members -- while Laura Flanders maps out the historical disconnect between grassroots movements for change and political primaries.

Obama turns Romney's final "surrender to terror" message into a prime example of what made him such an "ineffective candidate," accepts Clinton's new debate challenge -- except on Fox, and has some questions 'about that loan...'

Amid concerns that Democratic party bigshots will overrule the popular vote, Ari Berman reviews the basics of 'Superdelegates 101,' a transparency project aims to shine a little daylight on the process with a running audit, and Sen. Joseph Lieberman is stripped of his "super" powers.

CIA Director Michael Hayden suggests that, while perhaps no longer legal, waterboarding may be reinstated, and discloses that' contractors lead "enhanced interrogations" at CIA black sites,' as Vice President Cheney leads cheers for the practice, whose popularity is getting stretched a bit.

A Washington Post editorial decries 'a president who tortured,' a "remarkable consistency" is noted in Bush's attorneys general, and it's argued that, for reasons of fear, "the CIA wants to keep waterboarding as an option, at least in the mind of the public." Plus: 'Torture Groundhog Day.'

As Attorney General Mukasey follows up his no to criminal investigations on torture with a no to enforcing contempt citations, and the FOIA is relocated, Steven Aftergood raises questions for the presidential candidates about how willing they would be to open up the record of the last seven years.

While airport security technology remains 'stuck in the pipeline,' civil liberties groups sue to force the government to "disclose its policy on border searches," including First Amendment boundaries, and Customs practices suggest 'all your gadgets belong to us.'

The New York Times runs an "Editor's Note" distancing the paper from one of the authors of a Times piece on Guantanamo tribunals upon discovering that he has an "outspoken position," but Scott Horton wonders, is this 'Objectivity, or Spinelessness?'

Although Al Qaeda in Iraq is reportedly turning to softer tactics in the face of adversity, defense officials report that Sunni Arab insurgents have started using armor piercing bombs, and the people of the city of Mosul, facing "desperate" conditions, prepare for the coming battle.

As U.S. and Iraqi troops raid Sadr City, a report by the International Crisis Group emphasizes that the gains achieved during the Mahdi Army's ceasefire remain "highly fragile and potentially reversible," and Iraqi leaders, worried that Baghdad could slip back into sectarian war, threaten a vote of no confidence.

A new draft of the Army operations manual "elevates the mission of stabilizing war torn nations" -- some might call it "nation-building" -- and as Angelina Jolie pops into Baghdad again to raise awareness of refugees and the displaced, an Asia Times article reviews some of 'What 'Mrs Smith' didn't see in Iraq.' Earlier: 'Foreign Policy Goes Glam.'

Paradoxical recent court rulings give human rights to corporations but deny them to human beings, the FBI has reportedly invested deputized private contractors with a license to kill, and Robert Bryce, reconsidering the death of Col. Ted Westhusing in Iraq, asks if it might be 'something more sinister than suicide.'

With the Washington Post hyping a report on the security threat posed by online "cartoon-like characters," the Pentagon is reportedly now using a Sim Iraq to figure out Middle Eastern culture and conduct propaganda tests.

Feb. 7

Monday, February 11, 2008

In Baghdad, Defense Secretary Robert Gates talks of "a short pause in troop drawdowns," given the "fragile" situation, as it's reported that contractor deaths jumped 17% in 2007, and a strike by America's Sunni allies over charges that a police chief is "running a death squad" joins a list of setbacks on the Awakenings front.

In his profile of Gates the "loyalist" for the New York Times, Fred Kaplan notes that he "may be the anti-Rumsfeld ... but he is not the anti-Bush," as Gates worries that European allies are getting Iraq and Afghanistan confused, and appears to slip up on a question of American history.

With one unclassified report faulting planning for the Iraq war buried, another classified assessment reportedly details the strains that war demands have put on U.S readiness -- not to mention the economy -- and the Army plans a pricey boost in recruiting perks to relieve the strain on ground troops.

A U.S. army sniper is sentenced to 10 years for killing an unarmed Iraqi, in a case that is said to shed light on the 'shadowy tactics of U.S. troops in Iraq.'

As Ali al-Fadhily and Dahr Jamail relay the reactions of Iraqi villagers to a second U.S. bombing of a cluster of Sunni villages to which U.S. military had encouraged families to return, a disconnect between war news and war pictures prompts questions about what is in the gaps of the war narrative.

A "tsunami of misery" and a brain drain that threatens "very capacity of the national government ... to administer anything," is how Michael Schwartz sums up the impact of Iraq's overlapping waves of refugees and the dispossessed, as Patrick Cockburn details the failure of a recent propaganda push to paper over the fear that is driving it.

Critics of Matt Taibbi's Rolling Stone essay on how the 'The Chicken Doves' in the Democratic party have betrayed the peace movement argue that he missed the real peace movement and is insufficiently cynical about Democratic "surrender" on the war.

Although Guantanamo hearings are bogged down by secret evidence, military prosecutors are said to be seeking the death penalty for six detainees, as President Bush defends his record on waterboarding, whose legality is said to be a 'work in progress.'

Demands for information on "non-travelers" and details on "those whose flights are not to America, but which overfly U.S. territory," are part of a security crackdown the Bush administration has ordered on flights from Europe to the U.S. that is raising legal and privacy concerns.

President Bush at CPAC appears to be eyeing McCain as a surrogate for 'four more years,' with his price for patching things up with the conservative base said to be deference to "a legal theory that the administration uses to justify torture."

As Mike Huckabee's weekend victories dampen the McCain victory narrative, Brad Blog analyzes some of the "weird things" that went on at the Washington state GOP caucus, which Huckabee, who is formally challenging the result, compares to the elections in the Soviet Union.

Although he had already given his iconic farewell address, Mitt Romney gets 'a parting gift' at CPAC, edging out frontrunner John McCain as the favored candidate in the organization's straw poll.

As campaign reporting shifts from horse race to soap opera, the inappropriate comment about Chelsea Clinton for which MSNBC's David Shuster was suspended, Will Bunch notes, pales in comparison to the tastelessness of what John McCain said about her earlier.

Barack Obama's victory in Maine prompts a campaign restructuring, and appears to signal a 'dark stretch ahead' for Hillary Clinton, amid concerns about "'a potential train wreck' over disputed delegates from Florida and Michigan," and a reminder of all the "firebreaks" that have been set up between expressions of the popular will and the ultimate selection of the nominee.

As Colin Powell hints that he may endorse Obama, questions are raised about ambiguities in the candidate's position on Bush's war on terror, and it's argued that, despite what his campaign chief of staff seems to believe, 'Obama's message of hope, change, and unity' is "the weak underbelly of his campaign."

With the Bush administration reportedly using USAID to undermine the government of Bolivia, and recruiting Peace Corps volunteers and a Fulbright scholar to spy in violation of long-standing U.S. policy, Allan Nairn, considering an Obama advisor's past, wonders if the partisan difference on mass murder is just "embarrassment versus pride."

Venezuela bites back at ExxonMobil and threatens to cut off oil sales to the U.S, as Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell accuses Venezuela of interfering in upcoming elections in El Salvador, where polls show the opposition FMLN party making substantial gains.

Feb. 8-10

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

By defeating amendments to strip retroactive telecom immunity from FISA legislation, the Senate "handed the White House a major victory," after two 'Papers of record clash over telecom immunity.'

About the trials planned for six suspects in the 9/11 attacks, with military prosecutors seeking the death penalty, "The losers will be the American public unless some fundamental changes are made very quickly," says attorney Charles Swift, who represented Osama bin Laden's driver in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld.

And while some commentary on the trials includes speculation that they're timed to coincide with the U.S. election, McClatchy reports that "the cases probably won't be heard before the Bush administration leaves office next January," quoting a law professor who says that "Any attempt to do these cases in 2008 would be a mockery."

As Sen. Jim Webb 'Suggests legal action against Bush on Iraq,' a PEJ study finds that events in Iraq failed to capture one percent of last week's newshole.

A journalist and a translator working for CBS go missing in Iraq, the New York Times is urged to put the RAND Corporation study about Iraq online, and, finds itself choosing between a rock and a hard place.

Arguing that 'Mainstream media continues to shamelessly parrot official explanations of everything,' Ramzy Baroud cites a CNN article headlined, 'U.S.: "Demonic" militants sent women to bomb markets in Iraq.'

British journalist Nick Davis explains 'How the spooks took over the news,' adapted from his controversial new book, "Flat Earth News."

A New York Times report that the Obama campaign has "zigged and zagged" on the issue of race, cites the candidate's success in winning over Cornel West, ABC interviews Ted Sorenson about his role in the campaign, and a Cato Institute fellow says that 'Obama needs to be careful with the JFK comparisons.'

As the 'Caucus system muddies assessment of Democrats,' it's argued that superdelegates "don't actually matter," a Clinton advisor tells surrogates to refer to them as "automatic delegates," and in the Democrats "global primary," which wraps up today, it's estimated that there will be almost ten times as many votes cast this year as in 2004.

With TV described as 'The Thing' in campaign coverage, Democrats are urged to "not obsess about Republican mind control," the term "neuropunditry" finds a pathway into the campaign, and the "Clinton Rules" of punditry are set forth. Plus: "Isn't parody so much better than the real thing?"

The U.S. Air Force says it can't make do with a proposed budget of $144 billion, by most estimates three to four times larger than the entire military budget of China, which, it is argued, "is not a military threat to the U.S."

As 'Israel struggles with Gaza policy,' leaders of Hamas are reported to be 'Hiding from Israeli hits,' amid a suggestion that Hamas's new tactic is to 'Bomb Israel into a truce.' Plus: female bus riders in Mexico share a concern with those in Israel.

Bill Moyers takes a "Taxi to the Dark Side," which is rolling out nationally to widespread critical acclaim, but is too hot for the Discovery Channel, prompting director Alex Gibney to issue a press release stating: "I am surprised that a network that touts itself as a supporter of documentaries would be so shamelessly craven."

A Grammy nominee in the world music category, Rahim Al Haj, discussed his exile from Iraq and having to hand over his beloved oud at the border, during an episode of "The Story," which includes an interview with the attorney who edited "Poems from Guantanamo," discussed this week in an "On the Media" feature about "Gitmo's Pop-Culture Moment."

As 'Mullahs grumble about "un-Afghan" foreign TV series,' militants' attacks are taking their toll on the hospitality industry in Kabul and the entertainment industry in Peshawar, "the capital of pop culture for the Pashtun," but a University of Peshawar professor quips that the films it produces "are so horrible, they should be banned."

February 11

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

'Obama sweeps the night by winning over Clinton's core supporters,' and claims a "new American majority" during a speech in Wisconsin, where the Clinton campaign is challenging Obama on refusing to debate.

With Obama now leading Clinton in both delegates and the popular vote, it's suggested that 'McCain mind games should make campaign riveting,' while a year-old promise by Obama could level the money playing field with McCain. Plus: An early 'Test For The Maverick.'

As the 'Chickens come home to roost,' strategists offer advice for a Clinton comeback, an updated rewriting of a GQ article killed by the Clintons, describes 'How to Burn Through 175 Million Dollars,' and the New Republic reports on 'The second thoughts of Hillary's African American endorsers.'

With Tuesday night's election coverage on MSNBC said to be "so polite it was almost comical," about David Schuster's "pimped out" comment, Thom Hartmann points out that "The larger problem is how a reporter became a commentator." Plus: 'Journalism's last line of defense,' by former NPR ombudsman, Jeffrey Dvorkin.

Echoing British 'concerns,' the Financial Times editorializes that "Military tribunals are not the way," as it's reported that if the six suspects in the 9/11 attacks are sentenced to death, they may be executed by lethal injection at Guantanamo, because of "U.S. Army regulations that were quietly amended two years ago."

A New York Times editorial raises "the Kafkaesque fact that even if the defendants were somehow to beat the charges, they would not be set free," and even U.S. Supreme Court Justice Scalia, in defending torture, agreed that "incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime."

As congressional testimony by former KBR employees illustrates the 'Limbo for U.S. women reporting Iraq Assaults.' a U.S. Justice Department plan forcing companies to notify the government of contract abuse, "has a multibillion-dollar loophole," reports the AP, exempting overseas work, "including projects to secure and rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan."

A 'Rift threatens U.S. antidote to Al Qaeda in Iraq,' and a police crackdown on private security guards is said to be "paralyzing Afghanistan," where a refugee crisis has reportedly erupted, "as an unknown number of people are fleeing their homes, caught between security forces and the Taliban," during the harshest winter in decades.

With kidnappings of Afghans on the rise, the Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan has also reportedly been snatched, and it's pointed out that "Without the cooperation of Musharraf's government, the 24,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan would likely run out of fuel within a matter of days."

Despite "a literacy rate of 28.1 percent, a lack of paved roads, and a crumbling infrastructure," the U.S. government is reportedly contemplating a "massive video surveillance project" for Afghanistan, where a Financial Times columnist stays 'Inside the Bubble,' reporting on a trip to Afghanistan by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

In an interview with Publisher's Weekly, Richard Clarke explains why he got it in writing that the embargoed copy of "Against All Enemies" given to the 9/11 commission, not be read by Philip Zelikow: "I knew Phil and believed he would immediately pass the book to his friend, Condi Rice ... giving her and Rove time to develop an offensive to smear and discredit me."

Following the Senate's passage of a FISA bill, with the support of 19 Democrats, the House debates a three-week extension to review the bill, amid "early signs from the House leadership ... that they will strongly oppose the Senate version."

As 'Movies catch up with global war on terrorism,' Errol Morris's new film about Abu Ghraib, "Standard Operating Procedure," premieres at the Berlin Film Festival, the first documentary to enter the main competition there, but a Variety review calls it "a grind to sit through."

An employee of a Utah "self-help and motivational coaching" firm, claims that he was waterboarded by his supervisor, who told the team at Prosper, Inc., "that he wanted them to work as hard on making sales as Chad had worked to breathe while he was being waterboarded." More or Prosper here.

The Portland Mercury, which has been busy busting the city's "rent-a-cops," now reports on a private security firm accused of repeatedly engaging in "pseudo police action," while private security for celebrities is described as a "moving gated community."

February 12

Thursday, February 14, 2008

After describing how the fix was in on telecom immunity, Jonathan Turley accused the Senate of "actively working with the White House to cover up a crime," one crime that was not ready for prime time, as all three major broadcast networks ignored the story on their nightly newscasts.

The 'House holds Bush confidants in contempt,' Justice Department official Steven Bradbury continues the administration's 'waterboarding PR offensive,' and the White House again threatens that President Bush will veto an intelligence authorization bill that includes a ban on waterboarding.

Sen. John McCain explains his vote against the bill, which, it's argued, "is not going to significantly change the U.S. torture picture." Plus: 'McCain's rewrite of his anti-Rumsfeld script.'

As White House spokeswoman Dana Perino disputes the notion that the U.S. has permanent military bases in other countries, Secretary of State Rice 'heatedly defends her integrity on Iraq claims,' following the co-authoring of an op-ed described as 'Bush team tells Congress: Keep hands off Iraq talks.'

The administrator of a Baghdad mental hospital "has been arrested on suspicion of supplying mental patients to insurgents for use in suicide bombings," reports McClatchy, noting that the U.S. no longer thinks the bombers were "teenage girls with Down syndrome." It attributes that characterization to "Iraqi authorities," but fails to mention that the U.S. military was also promoting it.

The Iraqi parliament passed three bills, which clear the way for provincial elections, approve the 2008 budget, and grant a limited amnesty "for some of the tens of thousands of mostly Sunni prisoners in Iraqi custody."

As the 'Arab League endorses limits on satellite channels,' the killing of a top Hezbollah commander prompts the revisiting of an inquiry into what might have motivated him, and it's said that the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency 'comes off like M*A*S*H' in the book, "Still Broken."

Sens. 'McCain and Obama take their senatorial rivalry into the presidential race,' McCain advisor Mark McKinnon reaffirms his plan to step aside if Obama is the nominee, not wanting to be in "a campaign that would be inevitably attacking Barack Obama," and a "side-by-side comparison" of speeches by Obama and Hitler is aired by a Fox News radio talker.

A Quinnipiac University poll finds that Sen. Clinton has double-digit leads over Obama in Ohio and Pennsylvania, her strategist Mark Penn decries "impressionable elites," and the Obama campaign's success in reaching "low information" voters is weighed.

As Clinton gets Up With People, "Democracy Now!" interviews Donna Edwards about her primary win over Rep. Al Wynn, and a New York Sun editorial describes Edwards as an "insurgent hard-left candidate."

Obama pitches his economic plan at a General Motors plant in Janesville, and the New York Times "illustrates why the tax cuts have to go," amid a bleak forecast for Economic Indicators. Plus: 'Your Tax Dollars At Labor.'

A look at how the war on drugs has led to an 'explosion of female incarcerations,' notes that as funding increases for anti-drug missions in Afghanistan and Colombia, allocations for two federal agencies charged with substance abuse prevention and treatment fell by $32 million in 2008, with a $99 million drop proposed for 2009.

Mother Jones reports on the Merida Initiative, dubbed "Plan Mexico" by it's detractors, that envisions a U.S. outlay of $1.4 billion over three years to slow the flow of drugs into the U.S., and as Mexican President Calderon announces plans to reduce the army's role in fighting drug traffickers, their patron saint, Jesus Malverde, 'gains a kind of notoriety in the U.S.'

Writing about a language that is 'too beautiful to lose,' novelist David Treuer describes efforts being undertaken by him and others to preserve the Ojibwe language, in an essay published shortly after the death of the last native speaker of Eyak.

As the cable news channels finally find some Congressional testimony that they're willing to broadcast live, it's suggested that a Seattle Times' series, lauded in both sports and journalism circles, is Pulitzer material.

February 13

Friday, February 15, 2008

As the Lancet's count of the Iraqi dead is defended against a media assault, Patrick Cockburn points to a lake of sewage in Baghdad so large that it can be seen "as a big black spot on Google Earth," and an IPS article sums up two new reports that suggest the surge is exposing rather than resolving political tensions.

The U.N is called in to help Iraq meet an Oct. 1 deadline for provincial elections, amid complex electoral realities, and an article in the Asia Times examines the role becoming an ayatollah plays in the political strategy of Muqtada al-Sadr as his self-imposed six month truce nears an end.

Two mistaken perceptions are behind the displacement of the Iraq war by the economy at the top of the national agenda, contends Gen. William Odom, while Paul Krugman responds to suggestions from the right that bad feelings about the war are somehow the cause of the decline in consumer confidence.

With the U.S. government apparently getting its signals crossed on Syria, the Democratic candidates are asked what they would do, and as Israel is blamed for the assassination of a Hezbollah militant commander and revenge threatened, competing Beirut rallies offer two visions for Lebanon.

As Steve Bradbury testifies that CIA waterboarding was 'not as barbaric as the Spanish Inquisition,' Bush tells a British audience that 'London bombs justify torture,' and an upcoming DOJ seminar on "investigating and prosecuting human rights violators" is discreetly publicized.

Attempting to keep a lid on how it classifies enemy combatants, the Bush administration goes to the Supreme Court, as a 'CIA rendition case against Boeing' is dismissed, requirements are relaxed for a government report on CIA tape destruction, and the "case of the contraband underpants" goes to market.

The House breaks for recess without renewing the surveillance authority demanded by President Bush, whose press secretary accuses Congress of caving to the "fantasies of left wing bloggers," as the administration's fearmongering rhetoric gets skewered, and 'spies who love you' make an animated appeal.

The U.S. is accused of playing 'divide and rule' by negotiating directly with individual EU member states over controversial proposed changes in transatlantic airline security, while the EU considers biometric border checks that critics warn could create a "fortress Europe" for foreigners.

A British judge concludes that the government of Tony Blair "rolled over" in the face of security threats from Saudi Arabia and, watchdog groups emphasize, corporate pressure, when it derailed a investigation into corrupt arms deals.

Salon's Mark Benjamin gets a peek inside a secret Air Force high-tech control center which specializes in stalking and targeting "Bubba" from the skies, as it's suggested that the Air Force is trying to pad its arsenal with unnecessary planes, and not paying enough attention to the security of its nukes. Plus: 'Tech barely a factor' in the war against IEDs.

A prominent African American supporter and superdelegate jumps off the Hillary Clinton bandwagon -- again, as Barack Obama picks up an endorsement from one large union, with another, the SEIU, expected to follow suit, and both Democratic candidates 'sound economic populist themes.'

With 'shades of Chicago' and analogies to Bush v. Gore haunting the Democratic campaign, Move On launches a campaign of its own targeting superdelegates, and urging them to support "the people's choice."

Despite huge turnouts and much enthusiasm, the 'Obamapalooza' doesn't appear to be living up up to the "cult meme," but a CJR analysis plumbing the depths of Obama love in the media does warn of some toxic side effects.

While John McCain campaigns as 'Mr. Big Stick in Latin America,' Hillary Clinton's campaign, in response to Obama's attacks, tries to distance her from NAFTA, which may have a stealth enhancement on the way.

Paul Krugman contemplates "a sort of minor-key reprise of the banking crisis that swept America in 1930 and 1931," as one group of children is encouraged to "sing the praises of fast food corporations," and another is urged to "spout coal propaganda."

On 'The Lost Kristol Tapes,' Jonathan Schwarz finds a wealth of historical and moral lapses, as Kathryn Joyce reviews the proliferation of fears about a "demographic winter of Western societies" on the right. Earlier: Arrows in the quiver of God's army.

Feb. 14

Monday, February 18, 2008

As the Guardian live blogs 'Election Day in Pakistan,' the Washington Post reports that a "frantic" last minute U.S. scramble to get election observers in place, likened to "electoral tourism" by some experts, "underscores the Bush administration's bid to boost President Pervez Musharraf."

Pakistan's 'beleaguered leader' is expected to be weakened by the election results, despite widespread suspicions of vote rigging, and media restrictions which, local journalists tell (mp3) a CBC reporter, will significantly hamper election coverage.

'Unpopular at home, Bush basks in African praise' -- and pushes military expansion -- but even halfway around the world, he "cannot escape the race to succeed him," and is upstaged by anticipations of Obama, who is 'topic no. 1 on the streets.'

A New York Times headline reads "U.S. Struggles to Tutor Iraqis in Rule of Law," as a proliferating series of mistaken identity killings prompts more of the U.S.-allied fighters now known as "Sons of Iraq" to end cooperation with the U.S.

Bureaucratic delays in responding to requests for blast resistant vehicles are blamed for the deaths of hundreds of U.S. Marines, in an internal study whose author filed for whistle-blower protection last year, as coroners fault "lack of basic equipment" in the deaths of three British soldiers.

With the number of U.S. troops now expected to increase by summer, plans to deal with a "pause" in the drawdown of an "over-extended force" are said to "include activating more National Guard and reserve units," and a Washington Post report details the strain the current "operations tempo" is putting on army mothers.

Aid societies warn that millions of Iraqis are 'living on the edge,' with insecurity in access to food worse than in 2003, and limited access to safe drinking water, while in Baquba, 'months of power failures have darkened morale.'

Looking at how 'the new Berlin walls' separate the public in the "murdochracies" from the news that matters, John Pilger highlights a little noted "quiver of escalation," while Noam Chomsky fits the virtual disappearance of the Iraq war from the presidential campaign into a larger pattern.

One deadly bombing after another rock Afghanistan, heightening "the deepening perception of lawlessness and insecurity in and beyond the capital that both Afghans and expatriates say has left them more fearful than at any time since the overthrow of Taliban rule in 2001."

In its war with Lebanon, Israel's "use of cluster munitions was both indiscriminate and disproportionate ... and in some locations possibly a war crime," concludes a Human Rights Watch report, as Uri Avnery provides a historical counterpoint to the "orgy of jubilation and self-congratulation in the Israeli media" over the country's prowess in "liquidation."

The CIA closes a constellation of "front companies," in what the Los Angeles Times terms a failure of its 'most ambitious post-9/11 spy plan,' skepticism swirls about the rationale for a satellite shoot, the FBI warns of "potential retaliatory strikes by Hezbollah" in "the U.S. homeland," and Wikileaks is deleted.

Although the president's FISA messages have hyped terror, and Robert Novak crows about torts trumping terrorism, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell admits that the real issue is in fact "liability protection for the private sector" for illegal wiretaps, and perhaps some "unknown unknowns."

Although Florida and Michigan were penalized under the very rules he helped pass, a top adviser to the Clinton campaign now plays up the idea that they are being "disenfranchised," predicting that their votes plus the superdelegates will give Clinton the nomination even if Obama wins the rest of the primaries.

Bill Kristol attempts to channel Kipling on behalf of the Democrats, while David Brooks suggests that Hillary Clinton "play on social resentments," complaining that Obama who, he asserts, "doesn't campaign outside of 50 yards of a provost's office," really ought to "visit a factory for once."

As John 'McCain seems to shift right in terror debate,' and 'aligns with Bush on two key votes, some "internal inconsistencies" are noted in his stance on Iraq, which some in the media continue to present as his "winning issue," and questions are raised about what it takes to be a "war hero."

An article by one neo-conservative test markets McCain as 'the new Churchill,' while other members of the GOP's neoconservative clique are reportedly "trawling archives for 'anti-Israeli' essays by advisers who had been seen in Obama's staff." Plus: 'Totally Gay for America.'

Although lacking in on-line bounce, McCain finds new flexibility on tax cuts for the wealthy, and receives a boost from a couple of members of the old guard, as police prepare a shock for the GOP's national convention in St. Paul.

Feb 15-17

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

As one commander-in-chief announces that he's not running for re-election, another 'welcomes' the decision, while continuing to talk up his own "mission of mercy."

With Cubans wondering who will succeed Fidel Castro, the U.S. says 'No change in Cuba policy,' and as U.S. presidential candidates weigh in, it's asked if any of them will embrace "the gold standard in US-Cuba relations articulated by Senator Chris Dodd?" Plus: 'S. Florida celebrations tempered by Cuban reality.'

'Pakistan rejects Musharraf rule, cheers democratic turn,' putting Musharraf 'under pressure to resign,' with one political opponent boasting that "The margins are so big they couldn't have rigged it even if they tried," and another suggesting that "Musharraf should be preparing a C-130 for Turkey."

Although the three U.S. senators observing the election pronounced it credible, the niece of the late Benazir Bhutto, Fatima Bhutto, 'Accuses aunt's party of fraud,' amid a proposed coalition that could lead to Musharraf's impeachment.

As Fred Kaplan examines 'The creeping monetization of military service," rural recruiting is cited as one reason why dozens of cities with populations of 100,000-plus haven't had a service member killed in Iraq, and William Powers points out "how little we care anymore, newswise, about a story that used to be a global obsession."

The British government publishes the secret first draft of its Iraq weapons dossier, which "shows that spin doctors were sexing up the dossier at the time the notorious 45 minutes claim was included," and a U.S. professor who returned to his native Iraq to work as a reconstruction consultant, describes being stunned by the level of corruption.

"On the Media" interviews the director of "Rules of Engagement," a "Frontline" documentary about Haditha that goes on the air, and online, Tuesday, and Al-Jazeera reports on Nick Broomfield's "Battle for Haditha," a docu-drama with a cast of Iraqi refugees, insurgents and former marines.

An essay questioning if PBS is still necessary, which doesn't even mention Frontline or P.O.V., does address efforts by the Bush administration to again slash funding for public broadcasting, as it also attempts to cut federal arts funding.

McClatchy reports a rise in the long-term jobless rate, and with many renters rendered homeless by foreclosures, one reason cited for a drop in homeless people sleeping outside in downtown Cleveland is "the availability of shelter in foreclosed homes." Plus: 'Does Ben Bernanke Have to Go?'

As it's explained how the 'McCain campaign banked on taxpayer-funded bailout,' George Tenet has reportedly become a managing director of the private investment Allen & Co., which lived up to its reputation for secrecy by keeping Tenet's employment under wraps for months.

A 'Texas poll shows dead heat among Dems,' and the Texas Observer investigates why the border wall is 'bypassing the wealthy and politically connected,' as growing controversy over its construction creates a 'South Texas Hornet's Nest.'

The man who Sen. Barack Obama allegedly "plagiarized" labels the accusation "extravagant," Robert Parry explains 'Our view on Clinton-Obama,' and, 'Let's play race card,' says the publisher of the Anniston Star.

With a reminder that "the presidential race isn't being conducted to provide drama and amusement for members of the media," the AP reports on how the 'Pundit police watch news talkers 24/7.'

The New York Times is accused of offering "a visual assist to Obama's argument about the superdelegates,' and concerning what David Brooks called "a good story on Obama's drug use," the New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg asks: "The news here is - what, exactly?"

As it's revealed that the Palestinians' 'War on drugs lacks a certain something,' it's suggested that the 'Natives are getting restless over U.S.'s Israel policy,' and Israel is confronted with what is termed a "difficult statistic" about the seizure of private Palestinian land, amid "new land invasions by the hilltop youth."

February 18

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

As Sen. Obama goes 10-0 and 'broadens winning coalition in Wisconsin,' things are said to look "pretty hopeless" for Sen. Clinton.

While the U.S. 'awaits its own transition' to review its policy on Cuba, John Nichols spells out the Cuban policy differences between Clinton and Obama, and with Raul Castro -- one of four possible successors to Fidel -- seen as "a fan of biofuels ... Cuba could become a key player in the global ethanol game."

John McCain said on Wednesday that fellow "Senator Obama wants to bomb Pakistan without talking to the Pakistanis," a distortion of what Obama actually said, and, as Robert Stein points out, "according to a highly sourced report in the Washington Post, the CIA has done just that."

In an election that found Pakistanis also 'Voting for Change,' they were said to have "rejected the two players in Pakistani politics that scare -- and confuse -- Americans most: Musharraf and the Islamists."

'Pakistan turns scary for Bush's war on terror,' as 'Victors want dialogue with militants,' and former PM Nawaz Sharif wants Musharraf impeached as a condition for his party joining a coalition with the Pakistan Peoples Party, which reportedly isn't committed to impeachment or the reinstatement of Supreme Court justices.

A Bush administration magic act that is facilitated by "the perfect assistant," and also includes payoffs, still has a problem keeping the seats filled.

As 'Iraq and torture gatecrash Oscars party,' the Washington Post reports that the Iraqi Interior Ministry has "ordered police to round up beggars, itinerants and the mentally disabled, fearing they could be unwittingly used as suicide bombers by insurgent groups."

With the Supreme Court's refusal to hear a warrantless wiretapping case brought by the ACLU, there's speculation about what impact the decision will have on the FISA debate.

"Duke" Cunningham briber and Republican party "Pioneer" Brent Wilkes was sentenced to 12 years in prison and told by the judge that he was 'a liar' to boot. Wilkes was represented by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos.

Obama is now accused of being "a little too wonky," and 'The heat's on Clinton over plagiarism charge,' as it's suggested that ABC News' Jake Tapper "might consider his own news organization's similarly trivial failure to attribute properly the story of Obama's trivial failure to attribute properly." And Bill O'Reilly says no "lynching party against Michelle Obama unless..."

With Texas said to be an ideal test of "which candidate's health policy appeals to voters," private insurance is a "prime weapon against cancer," according to an American Cancer Society study, while another study found that exposure to too much light at night raises the risk of breast cancer. Plus: 'Clinton shifts definition of night shift.'

Susan Jacoby begins a discussion of her book, "The Age of American Unreason," by railing against politicians who routinely refer to their constituents as "folks."

With Jacoby's book scaling up the Amazon charts, her 'Dumbing of America' argument is challenged, as she argues that 'A president who wants to be a leader must first be a teacher.'

Noting the April release of "Harold and Kumar Escape From Guantanamo Bay," the New York Times reports on 'Guantanamo, Evil and Zany in Pop Culture,' including the forthcoming book, "Five Years of My Life," by Murat Kurnaz, with a foreword by Patti Smith, who also wrote a song about Kurnaz.

As 'Political films triumph in Berlin,' including one that is said to play "like a recruitment film for fascist thugs," the New Statesman describes the challenges facing female filmmakers across the Middle East, in previewing a festival of "Women's Cinema from Tangiers to Tehran."

NPR flashes back to 1960, when the Democratic presidential "Primary" in Wisconsin was credited with giving birth to American cinema verite.

February 19

Thursday, February 21, 2008

An accusation that the New York Times is "defining deviancy downward," with its "expose" of Sen. John McCain, which is at 2,400 comments and counting, notes that "the Times' takeout is bigger news than its contents."

As 'McCain camp vows to "go to war" with NYT,' McCain himself 'tries to backtrack on 100 years of war,' and an effort by House conservatives to revive the Iraq Study Group is seen as an attempt to boost McCain's campaign.

One day after Sens. McCain, Clinton and Obama were called on to "lead a principled bipartisan challenge to a Bush veto" of a bill than bans waterboarding, McCain said Bush should veto the bill, after declaring his support for "allowing the CIA to use extra measures."

As the 'CIA confirms rendition flights to Brits,' Harper's Scott Horton, following up on a "Democracy Now!" segment in which he discussed an allegation of 'Rigged Trials at Gitmo,' writes that "The American media seems by-and-large not to understand the 'justice' angle of the military commissions debate."

Horton also brings word that the trial of Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, whose attorneys are seeking his release during the appeal of his conviction in a government corruption case, will be the subject of a "60 Minutes" report set to air Sunday.

The Poetry of Terror A review of "Modern Life," by Matthea Harvey, describes "two long, strange, nervous sequences," as "among the most arresting poems yet written about the current American political atmosphere," and an inquiry into post 9/11 fiction, cites a discussion among Thomas Ricks, Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Steve Coll and George Packer.

With the U.S. adding comic books to its arsenal in Iraq, the AP reports that the U.S. military said there is no indication that the pet market suicide bombers "had Down syndrome as Iraqi and U.S. officials initially had claimed." But a New York Times article, and an earlier one from McClatchy, both incorrectly attribute the initial claim only to Iraqi authorities.

As 'U.S. payments to Pakistan face new scrutiny,' the Bush administration is reportedly pressing Pakistan's opposition leaders to allow President Musharraf to retain his position, and urging them to not pressure Musharraf to reinstate the judges he ousted.

An exiled Iranian opposition group claims that Iran is 'Speeding Up Nuke Plans,' and it's asked if an AEI fellow's call for dialogue with Iran, is really about 'Jaw-Jaw In Order to War-War?'

With Sen. Obama portrayed as 'A new face for American diplomacy,' his campaign is seen as a 'Triumph of Narrative,' while a Time report on 'Clinton's Spin Machine' finds it 'Spun Dry,' with a narrative that "borders on self-parody." Plus: 'Why bad press refuses to stick to Obama.'

Clinton is facing a 'daunting delegate deficit,' made more difficult by Texas's 'complicated rules,' as Obama wins his 11th straight victory, while confounding "the identity experts."

The Obama campaign is urged to respond aggressively to conservative attacks on Michelle Obama, amid questions about 'Proud v. Really Proud.'

About the Democratic candidates health care plans, Trudy Lieberman says the word "universal" as it applies to the plans has become "a form of campaign propaganda," and a Supreme Court decision shielding medical-device makers from lawsuits is said to leave the public "facing the worst of both worlds." Plus: Is happy Danes health care a better deal than U.S.?

As a National Popular Vote plan is promoted, an argument is made for lowering the voting age to 16, and C-SPAN interviews the producer and director of the documentary, "18 in '08," in which Rep. Christopher Shays says that it was a mistake to lower the voting age from 21 to 18.

Examples of the "apocalyptic activism" that is said to have been the most distinctive theme of last month's Sundance Film Festival, include "Secrecy," and three films about water, one of which, "Trouble the Water," won the Grand Jury prize for documentary.

Described as "an extraordinary autumnal depiction of a failed '60s radical," the novel "My Revolutions," by Hari Kunzru, draws comparisons to the Tom Stoppard play, "Rock 'n' Roll," and Newsweek interviews Israeli author Amos Oz, who, along with Stoppard and Al Gore, was just named a winner of the Dan David Prize.

February 20

Friday, February 22, 2008

At the Democratic debate, a "valedictory" Hillary Clinton challenges "change you can Xerox," but in her closing remarks, reaches for a familiar note herself.

McClatchy ventures a pre-post-mortem for the Clinton campaign, Eugene Robinson considers what the situation would be like 'if Obama went 0-for 10,' and concerns are raised about a security lapse at an Obama rally in Dallas.

Despite a 'long run up,' the New York Times' McCain bombshell appears to have been rushed to publication, it's suggested, when rivalry overcame fear, leaving the paper open to attack, Jay Rosen notes, for running a story that "speaks too thinly for itself," and posing questions of "timing, sourcing and wording."

McCain insists that he has "never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists," but it's noted that his first line of defense is a lobbyist, and the Washington Post points out that the "anti-lobbyist" is even now "advised by lobbyists," as "Democracy Now!" spotlights the Paxson case.

For a surprisingly un-volcano-like McCain, the Times story is the opportunity for a fundraiser, while for right wing talk radio talkers, it's an opportunity to make the case for their own importance and close ranks.

Joe Conason finds that Sen. John McCain carefully avoids "straight talk" about the real costs of the Iraq war, as the candidate zeros out on the environment, and now faces problems with the FEC over a flip-flop on matching funds.

With a former GOP operative on "60 Minutes" fingering Karl Rove in the efforts to smear Alabama's former Democratic governor, the messengers become a target, while John McCain, no longer in Rove's crosshairs, recently appeared to have come to an accommodation.

It's a legislative no show on FISA negotiation, with an ad ripped from the headlines of "24" playing a supporting role, while President 'Bush says no compromise, and demands immunity for the telecoms, both "prospective and retroactive" in the name of American security, prompting Keith Olbermann to look into the 'nexus of politics and terror.'

Extraordinary admissions by the CIA force the British foreign secretary to "eat great chunks of humble pie" over earlier denials that British territory was used for rendition flights, as Stephen Bradbury's defense of what used to be known as "the water cure" gets taken on a field trip to the torture museum.

The prospect of changes in Pakistan's government reportedly has the Bush administration worried that drone strikes might be curtailed, as Canada turns to drones in the aftermath of Kandahar carnage, and Miami law enforcement tests domestic applications.

'Belgrade's Burning' A huge nationalist rally by Serbians opposed to Kosovo's independence, culminates in the torching of the American embassy in Belgrade, with one burned body of unknown identity recovered, in an outbreak of violence that is said to have been "fully expected."

Reviewing the role of the Kosovo conflict in the 'rise of the humanitarian hawks,' Matthew Yglesias contends that "Kosovo's formal declaration of independence shows how modest our accomplishments in Kosovo have been," as 'Russia threatens force.'

As British Channel 4 prepares to launch a season of "Happy Birthday Iraq," billed as a "no-holds-barred examination of the fallout from five years of horror," a federal corruption probe goes 'inside the world of war profiteers' to find evidence of graft, party houses and prostitutes.

Following an incident in which Kurdish troops reportedly "encircled Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq and threatened to open fire," Turkey confirms the launch of a ground operation in Iraq, while Patrick Cockburn, on "Fresh Air," discusses the "tenuous calm" preceding Moqtada al-Sadr's extension of a crucial cease fire.

Slate's Michael Kinsley unpacks some of the new math behind the surge's alleged "success," the Los Angeles Times depicts the sectarian tensions at neighboring rival checkpoints in a religiously mixed region of Iraq, and it's 'Money Day in Baghdad.'

"It's more than a sartorial change," says Spencer Ackerman of the militarization of U.S. intelligence agencies under Bush's second term, as questions linger about whether the shoot-down of satellite was "a thinly veiled test for a shadow antisatellite program."

Amid 'a world of water woes,' the Georgia Senate reopens a 19th century border dispute with Tennessee "to the refrain of Senators singing 'This land is my land, this land is your land.'"

Feb. 21

Monday, February 25, 2008

The 'new invasion of Iraq' by up to 10,000 Turkish troops, Patrick Cockburn warns, "threatens to destabilize the country's only peaceful region," as it fuels 'anger in Kurdistan at U.S. green light,' raises the prospect of a wider conflict, and sends oil prices climbing.

Debunking 'The Myth of the Surge,' Nir Rosen quotes a U.S. diplomat who contends that its "quasi-feudal devolution of authority to armed enclaves" has only suppressed sectarian and ethnic conflicts that "are likely to burst out with even greater ferocity in the future."

A pair of reports in the Los Angeles Times highlights how rocket attacks on Baghdad's fortified Green Zone and a deadly bombing of Shiite pilgrims call into question the value of Muqtada al-Sadr's recently renewed ceasefire, which is also the focus of an in-depth analysis on Al Jazeera (part one and two).

'Plans to reduce British forces in Iraq are shelved' amid fears of a final showdown in Basra, where the ominous tension between politics and violence is said to be manifest in "overlapping spheres of gangsterism and politics, militias and legitimate businesses," as oil giants wait for an opening.

As the presidential candidates ponder 'which war to fight,' Andrew Bacevich commends a "never again" foreign policy, Daniel Ellsberg expresses dismay about the continued success of recycled lies, and the U.S. Army reports "establishing a permanent platform for 'full spectrum operations' in 27 countries."

The Army shells out $800,000 to bring "Service, Disney Style" to Walter Reed Hospital, as army doctors work to battle a spike in the number of 'insurgents in the bloodstream,' highly resistant bacteria that are threatening "the lives, limbs, and organs of hundreds wounded in combat."

Contrary to the Bush administration forecast, Kosovo's legally problematic declaration of independence appears to have opened a Pandora's box, as Jeremy Scahill highlights the irony of U.S. appeals to international law, and reasons for pessimism about the future of the new country and the precedent it has established are enumerated.

A curious outbreak of confessions spurs renewed attention to charges that Poland and Romania hosted CIA black sites, although the limited nature of the confessions about a "a twice-used pit-stop for terror planes" appears to dodge even more serious allegations.

As 'Taxi to the Dark Side' takes home an Oscar and changes channels, director Alex Gibney explains to Robert Scheer how during the process of making the film he discovered a "kind of a momentum to torture," that continued even after a confirmation of innocence. Plus: 'Hollywood's Eco Trip.'

A first hand account depicts how "The Tightening Noose" has led to social unraveling in Gaza, while Roger Morris looks for a way beyond "reciprocal brutality and defeat in the Middle East" in the lessons embodied in 'A Death in Damascus.'

Fidel Castro indicates that he's 'ready for a vacation,' as Raul attempts to step into his brother's shoes, and Sen. John McCain makes a wish.

McCain's "cozy ties to the press corps" are outlined, questions are raised about how the current lobbying controversy would have played out under the Clinton rules, and Sen. Lieberman offers absolution.

Attempting to reconcile contradictory accounts of the relation between McCain and Paxson, the candidate's lawyer remarks, "We understood that he [McCain] did not speak directly with him [Paxson]. Now it appears he did speak to him. What is the difference?"

The New York Times' public editor concludes that his paper didn't have the goods "to suggest an improper sexual affair," a failure Jay Rosen traces to an institutional inability to "think politically," as Howard Kurtz notes the changes "since the Flowers era."

Forced to formally deny that her debate close was a concession, Sen. Hillary Clinton turns to sarcasm, invoking "celestial choirs" and "a magic wand" in her attack on her opponent's message of unity and change.

Raising questions about the patriotism of Sen. Barack Obama, AP's Nedra Pickler turns to an "expert," as CNN rolls the question into a poll, and William Kristol tries to turn it into an issue of "moral vanity."

Scott Horton highlights new 'revelations of prosecutorial misconduct' in a "60 Minutes'" segment on the politicized prosecution of Alabama's former governor, which was not aired in parts of Alabama due to "a technical malfunction."

Feb. 22-24

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

As a 'Gitmo Fixer Resigns,' an IPS article reviews the most recent example of how U.S. renditions are 'Clothed in state secrets mantle,' a 'Former SAS man condemns British role in torture tactics,' and the British government is said to have been 'Marooned' by its 'special relationship' with the U.S.

After 'backtracking' on claims of lost intelligence over the weekend, the White House was back beating the drum that Democrats are exposing the U.S. to another terrorist attack, and Sens. Hagel and Biden talk 'U.S. policy in South Asia after visit.'

As the 'Taliban threatens cell towers' in Afghanistan, the Pakistan army's surgeon general is killed by a suicide bomber, and YouTube has now removed the trailer for the film by Dutch politician Geert Wilders that was objected to by Pakistani officials, who continue to target Pakistani TV outlets.

"Events in Iraq" hold onto its one percent of the newshole, while continuing to go missing from the presidential campaign, as the U.S. military says that an Iraqi journalist it detained may "have key information on Iranian-sponsored criminal activity," and the U.S. is found to have 'No Corner on Surges.'

Sen. Barack Obama is depicted as an 'American Adam' in an article by the New Republic's John Judis, as his campaign is cited for "good damage control and even better umbrage-taking," in swiftly responding to the circulation of a photo that one online bookmaker says will not result in changing Obama's odds, "unless betting trends force them to do so."

In support of "what one Clinton aide called a 'kitchen sink' fusillade against Mr. Obama," a "bacon-and-eggs session" with two Clinton advisers included an argument between the campaign and the press about the "assignment editor" roles of "Mr. Drudge" and "Saturday Night Live," which appears to have come up short in its effort to create an "in-house Obama."

David Corn reports on 'this election's sneaky operators,' an NPR segment ignores who the "youth vote" is actually turning out for, and the Nation finds 'Another story the Times shouldn't have published.'

As an "Iraq/Recession" campaign is launched, a ranking of economic growth by presidential administrations since 1960, finds that President Bush "only manages to beat out his father," and McClatchy reports on the "dubious claim" about opposition to NAFTA by both Clinton and Obama, who "took divergent approaches to their Senate careers."

Following her "Democracy Now!" debate with Jeremy Scahill, Obama's senior foreign policy adviser, Samantha Power, was interviewed about Obama's positions on Latin America, and his call to add 90,000 troops to the U.S. military, as a former adviser to John Edwards' campaign asks: 'It's a scary world. Don't campaign reporters care?'

In an interview with Ha'aretz, Power responded to attacks on her from supporters of Israel, and Ralph Nader, in announcing his candidacy, spoke about what he considers Obama's shortcomings on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, as Obama, who 'was once a Nader man,' distinguishes between "pro-Israel" and pro-Likud.'

As a 'McCain supporter disparages Obama,' Democrats ask the FEC 'to investigate McCain for campaign finance violations,' and it's reported that in the 2006 Senate report concerning Jack Abramoff's activities, McCain "conspicuously left out information detailing how Alabama Gov. Bob Riley was targeted by Abramoff's influence peddling scheme."

Attorneys for former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman call for a special prosecutor, Karl Rove goes after the message and both messengers, his accuser has her say, and he's seen brandishing a "Free Don Siegelman" banner.

As SMU professors criticize an institute that will be attached to the George W. Bush presidential library, Helen Thomas advises Bush to "stop worrying about his legacy."

Designer Milton Glaser spoke to the issue of 'Art and Propaganda' at a symposium on "Where the Truth Lies," which included a talk by Stuart Ewen about how the Coach corporation helped to fund a course in "stealth marketing" that was essentially designed to do the anti-counterfeit bidding of luxury goods' manufacturers.

Time reports on efforts to expose 'credit-card fine print,' following last week's Wall Street Journal article about big retail chains dunning shoplifting suspects by threatening to sue under "civil recovery" laws, with one attorney saying that his firm sends out "1.2 million civil-recovery demand letters a year but follows up by suing fewer than 10 times a year."

February 25

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Democratic candidates traded distortions about NAFTA, before a debate in which Sen. Obama was deemed 'most improved,' and which included a 'cringe-worthy moment' and one "standout performance."

As an LA Times/Bloomberg poll finds McCain leading both Clinton and Obama, it's reminded that all three want a bigger military, and Media Matters points out that in a Washington Times article about Obama headlined "Military fears 'unknown quantity,'" the "unknown quantity" quote is from a defense industry executive. Plus: What the Zell?

Senate Democrats focus on the 'economic cost' of the Iraq war, enlisting Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and his "three trillion dollar" price tag, and while the U.S. Air Force reportedly "hauls 3.7 million pounds of fuel above Iraq and Afghanistan daily to refuel aircraft in flight," people are 'Freezing in Iraq.'

After telling reporters that they don't know what FISA is about, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said that the Turks "have been fairly responsible in moving forward with this operation," but Patrick Cockburn sees Iraq "visibly falling apart," with Iraqi Kurdistan "becoming like Gaza."

With 'Gazans told to boil water as chlorine runs low,' a Ha'aretz editorial highlights 'The Corruption of Occupation,' and the author of "Occupied Minds" goes 'Inside a failed Palestinian police state,' writing that "Where five years ago, Ramallah was at the heart of the intifada, today there almost seems to be an intifada against its heart." Plus: 'Obama: Good or Bad for the Jews?'

Historian Sean Wilentz accuses Obama of having 'played the race card and blamed Hillary Clinton,' as the IRS investigates the United Church of Christ over a speech -- scroll down for text and video -- that Obama gave at its national meeting last summer.

As 'Huckabee presses for debate with McCain, raises FEC issue,' a public broadcasting activist and author of the book "Air Wars," accuses McCain's campaign of lying in statements it issued in response to the New York Times article, about which, Michael Kinsley addresses 'the Real Questions.'

With Howard Dean breaking his "relative silence" to challenge McCain, it's argued "that Obama is kind of the next generation of Howard Dean when it comes to building a grassroots organization."

One reporter discusses his article and map about how corporations and interest groups are increasingly buying and leasing townhouses near Capitol Hill and making them available for Congressional fundraisers, and another details his research finding that both Sens. Clinton and McCain have "top fundraisers who are also lobbyists for foreign countries."

As right-wing radio talkers blast McCain for denouncing Obama smearer, "Taxi to the Dark Side" director Alex Gibney tells Politico that his next film will be on the Jack Abramoff scandal, including McCain's role in investigating it, with a tentative title of "Casino Jack and the United States of Money."

The RNC announces that it "has no intention of trying to restore the missing White House e-mails," and at a hearing on food safety, a Republican Congressman blames the Humane Society for not turning over its slaughterhouse video sooner, as the Humane Society's CEO talks 'Meat Marketing' with "On the Media."

As 'Pfizer pulls Jarvik spots, vows more "clarity" on spokespeople,' what is described as "a comprehensive review of newly released data" finds that 'Antidepressants hardly help,' prompting a commentary on 'The vested interests that conspire to bury bad news.'

Named for one of the six realms in the Buddhist Wheel of Life, "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts," excerpted here, argues that the "current system for dealing with addicts - heavy on the policing and prosecuting, light on the treatment and R&D - simply isn't working."

For a look 'Inside the "controlled madness" of creation,' three of the thirteen stories in Pulitzer Prize-winning author Steven Millhauser's new collection are available online: "Cat 'N' Mouse," "In the Reign of Harad IV," and "History of a Disturbance."

February 26

Thursday, February 28, 2008

"The heart of Sageman's message is that we have been scaring ourselves into exaggerating the terrorism threat," writes David Ignatius, about the book "Leaderless Jihad" by Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer, as "Frontline/World" goes live with its new documentary on Pakistan.

As 'Obama's hearing problem' is raised, National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell testifies that Afghanistan's government controls "about 30-31 per cent" of the country, compared to "10 or 11 per cent" for the Taliban, contradicting Defense Secretary Gates' January assertion that "The Taliban occupy no territory in Afghanistan on a continuing basis."

McConnell also confirmed that the White House was told last Friday night that private companies were cooperating with surveillance requests, in advance of President Bush's Saturday radio address implying that they were not, and as Bush declares the FISA delay is "dangerous, just dangerous," it's 'attack ad deja vu.'

Attorney General Mukasey makes his first visit to Guantanamo, and psychologist Philip Zimbardo offers up previously unseen Abu Ghraib photos, as he returns to the site of the Stanford Experiment that he describes in "The Lucifer Effect."

As Iraqi leaders reject a 'benchmark' local election law, a report on 'Sunni Forces Losing Patience With U.S.,' notes that "U.S. military officials say they are growing concerned that the Sunni insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq has infiltrated Awakening forces in some areas." Plus: Sunni sheik drives hard bargain.

With the new U.S. embassy in Baghdad no longer "substantially completed," Sami Rasouli, following up on his "Freezing in Iraq," writes that even in the Shia city of Najaf, "we have been getting one or two hours of electricity a day." Earlier: 'Inside the world of war profiteers.'

Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz enters the fray, including testifying before Congress, and a White House spokesman asks: "$3 trillion? What price does Joe Stiglitz put on attacks on the homeland that have already been prevented? Or doesn't his slide rule work that way?"

Mark Weisbrot sizes up 'The Media's Election,' a potential windfall slips away from TV stations, MSNBC more than doubles its largest audience ever with Tuesday's debate, and it's said that neither Clinton nor Obama have yet achieved the buy-in from voters necessary to close the deal on health care.

As 'Obama fights false links to Islam,' Josh Marshall offers a 'Road Map' to "the core" of McCain's strategy, "to drill a handful of key adjectives into the public mind about Barack Obama."

With McCain's birth in the Panama Canal Zone reviving a "musty debate," the Cincinnati Enquirer reports on the McCain campaign's courtship of shock jock Bill Cunningham, including a denial by former Sen. Mike DeWine that he told Cunningham to "throw some red meat" to the crowd.

With the death of the "Sesquipedalian Spark of Right," columnist Ellen Goodman tells Editor & Publisher that he "was always a wonderful source for words I never heard before in my life!" Watch Buckley trade words with Gore Vidal and Noam Chomsky.

Noting that "Buckley bears little resemblance to the modern-day, Bush-era 'conservative' movement," Glenn Greenwald cites an account of an argument between Buckley and Norman Podhoretz, and, "sorry as we may be to mark Buckley's passing," writes Timothy Noah, "we should be very glad that the country ignored much of what he had to say."

Slate's Dahlia Lithwick speaks out about the two years of silence by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote the dissenting opinion in an the age discrimination case against FedEx.

As the AP reports on the genesis of the Charles L. Blockson Afro-American Collection at Temple University, former NFL star and now Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, Alan Page, has also amassed a personal collection of the kind of items displayed at the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia.

Mother Jones compiles a 'Torture Playlist,' and the subject of the documentary "Body of War," co-directed by Phil Donahue, chooses 30 songs that inspired him for the film's soundtrack, including Tom Waits' "Day After Tomorrow."

February 27

Friday, February 29, 2008

"Iraqis are once again loving brothers!" declares Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in a speech whose confidence, a Washington Post analysis suggests, is "untethered to political reality," as the elements of prospective quagmire and two tested recipes for disaster are outlined.

After having initially dismissed U.S. calls for withdrawing from Iraq with borrowed rhetoric, Turkey is now apparently moving its troops out, as the economic dependence of Northern Iraq on Turkey is highlighted, and Al Jazeera surveys the pressures on those 'trapped in the Turkey-Kurdish divide.'

With visas halted for war zone translators, and six million Iraqis struggling under the poverty line, the AP profiles desperate jobs seekers from around the world who have set aside risks to work in the service industry spawned by the Green Zone and military bases in Iraq.

'Joint Chiefs Chair warns Obama and Clinton' against a rapid withdrawal from Iraq, as it's argued that "calculated ambiguity" could turn into a potential nightmare in the general election for the Democratic candidates, whose current plans appear to suggest that 'many troops would stay.'

According to a UN mediator trying to broker a settlement, the struggle for control of the city of Kirkuk and its oil amounts to a "ticking time bomb," as UPI's Ben Lando reviews the status of the stalled 'Iraq oil debate.'

As 'McCain and Obama exchange punches' over Iraq, the provenance of "Al Qaeda in Iraq" is reviewed, and Joe Conason looks at signs that McCain's escalating rhetoric on Iraq could leave him stuck in a quagmire come November.

McCain's enthusiastic acceptance of the endorsement of "end times" Pastor John Hagee, which has been in the works for over a year has, according to critics, failed to draw its fair share of media scrutiny, but it has managed to make the Catholic League hopping mad.

The New York Times points to early signs of the new kind of onslaught the GOP is preparing for Obama if he becomes the Democratic nominee, as Juan Cole attempts to disarm the "Hussein" smear, and it's argued that the "Muslim smear" is about more than just Islam. Plus: 'Arab Bloggers and the Obama Phenomenon.'

As deadly airstrikes against Gaza and the West Bank continue, an Israeli minister warns that Palestinians could bring a "holocaust" on themselves.

The British government threatens to gag a former soldier for speaking out on rendition and torture, European countries are not responding to calls to allow Guantanamo detainees to settle on their soil, and a Find Law columnist faults the lack of planning for "what happens after Guantanamo."

Continued 'U.S. embrace of Musharraf,' despite the recent elections, is reportedly "fueling a new level of frustration in Pakistan," and Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid explains why the "biggest failure of the Americans" has been lack of appreciation of the need for a legitimate government.

Despite testimony from the GAO that 'Boeing's border watchtowers can't see straight,' a top homeland security official resets the goal posts, and terms a pilot project to create a virtual fence along parts of the Mexican border a success.

And the winner is ... With more than one in 100 adults behind bars, according to a new Pew report, the U.S. beats out China and the rest of the world "in both the number and percentage of residents it incarcerates," at a cost to state governments of nearly $50 billion a year.

After President Bush confessed that the prospect of $4-a-gallon gas was news to him, Obama immediately seized on the issue, accusing him of "failing to understand the hardships ordinary Americans are facing."

'Hail the conquering euro!' With the euro reaching an all time high against the dollar, and 'U.S. debt through the [over-mortgaged] roof,' Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke paints a bleak picture that includes bank failures, but sees no stagflation.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi sends a letter to the Justice Department requesting that it "open a grand jury investigation into whether President Bush's chief of staff and former counsel should be prosecuted for contempt of Congress," setting off an explosion of rhetoric.

An impasse over White House nominees threatens to let "half a dozen regulatory bodies go dark," as a small business advocacy group tees up a list of "10 rules the Bush administration may attempt to roll back in its final year in office."

Sifting through the bipartisan hagiography, Ian Williams feels compelled to correct the impression that "William F. Buckley was some kind of saint," while Rob Levine underlines the irony of how the career of this "uber-capitalist free-marketeer" was underwritten.

Feb. 28

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