August, 2003 link archive

Friday, August 1, 2003

Anthony Shadid reports on the war against informants, where one Iraqi man was given a choice: Either he kill his son, or villagers would kill the rest of his family in retaliation for the son's role in a U.S. military operation in which four people died.

In Arms Way In lieu of going to the United Nations, the U.S. is trying to "buy" foreign troops for a multinational force in Baghdad, reports the Asia Times: "The inducements - including weapons and increased military aid - have apparently been offered to at least three countries...India, Pakistan and Turkey."

In 'Soldiers of Good Fortune,' Barry Yeoman looks at the booming business of private military companies, that do everything but pull the trigger. Browse his Web site for much more, including 'The Stealth Crusade and 'Unhappy Meals.'

After watching National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's interview on PBS' "NewsHour," in which she became the fourth Bush administration official below the president to accept full responsibility for allowing the uranium claim into his speech, Slate's Timothy Noah "posits the existence of a Fall Guy No. 5, Vice President Dick Cheney." Bill Berkowitz has more on Fall Guy No. 3.

A Washington Times article identifies what it calls the "big impact" plan, with which the Pentagon will attempt to silence critics, by gathering and holding information about Iraq's arms, and then releasing it in a comprehensive report in coming months. Plus: Crucial WMD information slips out.

WMDone The Washington Post reports on the Bush administration's rhetorical shift on Iraq, to "a different rationale for the war against Saddam Hussein: using Iraq as the 'linchpin' to transform the Middle East and thereby reduce the terrorist threat to the United States."

"The neocon foreign policy agenda got neither a thorough vetting nor public explication" before the war in Iraq, editorializes the Minneapolis StarTribune, "because its authors apparently thought the American people wouldn't understand it or wouldn't buy it. Instead, the neocons pulled a classic, and very arrogant, bait and switch."

Neo Con The Nation reports on Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle's practice of charging media outlets outside of the U.S. for interviews, which may violate federal laws for "special government employees" that bar the use of public office for private gain. Read all about Perle and his investment seminars.

Ha'aretz's Ze'ev Schiff on the politics of the "fence" and Amira Hass on 'The checkpoint, the rabbi and the goat.'

Tel Aviv art exhibit highlights Israel's ongoing obsession with Yasser Arafat.

After being laid off last week from his software company job, a Minnesota man decided to shadow President Bush's economic team as it toured Wisconsin and Minnesota by bus, touting Bush's tax cut plan. Scroll down to read about his encounter with Treasury Secretary John Snow. An out-of-work California woman says she's running for governor to call attention to the problem of unemployment.

With Arnold Schwarzenegger set to reveal his gubernatorial plans on the "Tonight Show," Larry Flynt sounds like he's ready to roll, and announced candidate Georgy Russell is blasting and blogging.

Larry King takes a break from his 'outrageous promotion' of UFOs, psychics, and spiritualists, to interview Bill Maher, who wrote that 'Recalls Are for Cars, Not California Governors.'

The Guardian reports on the sexing-up of more British material.

July 31

Monday, August 4, 2003

The Washington Post reports that Secretary of State Powell and top deputy Richard Armitage have told the White House they will not serve a second term if President Bush is re-elected, and that leading candidates to replace Powell are National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. But a State Department spokesman says "there is no basis for the story."

Howard Dean scores a trifecta with cover stories in Time and Newsweek and a front page-article in the Washington Post, highlighting his moderate record as governor of Vermont. Plus: Daily Kos on 'The secret of Dean's success.'

In an article gauging Democrats' disdain for the president and his policies, the New York Times notes that in the past two and a half years, "a fairly consistent 38 percent of respondents in the New York Times/CBS News poll have said that Mr. Bush was not legitimately elected president."

In an excerpt from his book, "The Best Democracy Money Can Buy," Greg Palast asks: "How did 100,000 U.S. journalists sent to cover the election fail to get this vote theft story?" More excerpts here.

"Smart Mobs" author Howard Rheingold looks for flash mobbing to become "a major outlet of political activism...The 2004 elections are going to be a watershed moment. The use of text messaging and mobile communications will be pivotal in get-out-the-vote drives. It will allow groups to disperse the resources most efficiently in the days before the election."

Time follows up on last week's NBC article about how the U.S. shifted resources from the hunt for al-Qaeda to Iraq, reporting that by last December, "many of the 800 special-forces personnel who had been chasing al-Qaeda for a year were quietly brought back home, given a few weeks' rest and then shipped out to Iraq."  

Iran says that it won't hand over detained al-Qaeda members to the U.S., and a Los Angeles Times investigation finds that Iran "appears to be in the late stages of developing the capacity to build a nuclear bomb."

North Korea says it still wants to talk about nuclear weapons, but not with U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton who it described as "human scum," after Bolton gave a speech last week blasting Kim Jon Il. The Christian Science Monitor reported that Bolton referred to Kim Jon Il 43 times while making reference to "North Korea" only 15 times: "Ironically, the strategy of isolating Mr. Kim as the principal culprit comes amid a multinational effort to get that same Kim to the negotiating table."

A Minneapolis Star Tribune editorial asks not only why is Bolton representing the U.S. in talks with North Korea, but "why is Bolton representing the United States anywhere on any issue? The man is a walking diplomatic disaster."

A former aide to Saddam Hussein tells the AP that by the mid-1990s, Iraq had destroyed its chemical stocks and discontinued developing biological and nuclear weapons, but that Saddam deliberately kept the world guessing about it. The aide said "He repeatedly told me: 'These foreigners, they only respect strength, they must be made to believe we are strong.'"

The Boston Globe fact checks 25 words from President Bush's State of the Union address -- his assertion that "evidence from intelligence sources, secret conversations, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda.''

Bet the House!  American Action Market to offer futures contracts on such things as "the next White House lie to break into the news...the next country the White House will threaten," and "the first White House staffer to resign in disgrace."

'The Emperor Has No Evidence' David Corn says that during last week's press conference, President Bush "dodged a straightforward question... engaged in transparent revisionism ...and claimed to have conducted an extensive review of intelligence, though his aides say he did not fully read the major document on the matter." Plus: 'Let's Play Softball!' and 'Saving Adviser Condi!'

Last Friday, President Bush again blamed TV coverage of the "march to war" for contributing to economic uncertainty: "As I mentioned in my press conference the other day, on our TV screens there was a -- on some TV screens -- there was a constant reminder for the American people, 'march to war.' War is not a very pleasant subject in people's minds, it's not conducive for the investment of capital."

Sports Centered A bartender tells of getting the word to put TVs back on ESPN following Bush's May 1 "Mission Accomplished" speech.

Tom Hayden considers the boffo box office that would be generated by killing Saddam.

In a Los Angeles Times article on compensation guidelines for Iraqi civilians killed or injured by U.S. forces, in which an unnamed officials says "The value of a life in Iraq is probably a lot less than it would be in the U.S. or Britain," the Times reports that "At least 5,000 civilians have been killed during the invasion and occupation of Iraq, according to...Iraq Body Count." But the group's Web site says that at least 6,000 civilians have been killed.

The Guardian reports that the number of American's wounded in Iraq may be much greater than the Pentagon's official count of 827, and officials at Walter Reed Army Medical Center tell the Washington Times that they're dealing with the casualty overflow by putting up outpatients in local hotels.

The Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F.) is suspected of arson in a fire that destroyed a condo project under construction in San Diego, after a banner was found at the scene that read "If you build it, we will burn it," signed "The E.L.F.s are mad." The San Diego Union-Tribune report says that the paper also received an e-mail calling the banner "a legitimate claim of responsibility by the Earth Liberation Front."

E.L.F. enjoys seventh-best rating among terrorist/paramilitary organization at

August 1-3

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

William Pfaff says the planned expansion of U.S. military bases in Eastern Europe and along the "arc of instability," stretching from West Africa to South-East Asia, "encourages Washington's tendency to apply irrelevant military remedies to terrorism."  Earlier:  'Pentagon dreams of playing "GloboCop."'

Pfaff doesn't see the bases offering much protection from the kind of people who planned the 9/11 attacks: "Westernized and educated young Muslim men, radicalized by preachers in immigrant mosques." A Newsweek reporter traces the path of one such man, his grade school classmate Moazzam Begg -- one of six Guantanamo Bay prisoners heading toward a military trial.

"One of the great illusions of the second nuclear age is that the small-scale proliferators out there in the Third World are unconnected to us," writes Tom Engelhardt, in 'A Nuclear Pandora's Box.' "But the world is actually a single, bizarrely interlocked nuclear system. This interconnectedness of proliferators is the deepest truth of the second nuclear age, and there is no way the Bush administration can blast it into nonexistence, no matter the power of its weapons."

Salon interviews Retired U.S. Army Col. David Hackworth, whose argument that the administration was unprepared for what's turning out to be a long-term guerrilla resistance in Iraq, is bolstered by disgruntled soldiers who send him confidential e-mails from the front.

In a Houston Chronicle op-ed, a recently retired Air Force lieutenant colonel explains why 'the Pentagon has some explaining to do' on Iraq.

American and British journalists discuss Iraq war coverage at a forum hosted by New York magazine. First question: "Did the American media sell out in covering this war?"

History shows that August is not the slow news month that it's made out to be.

'Everything Is Political' Paul Krugman uses the example of the Treasury Department to illustrate the Bush administration's "across the board" politicization of policy analysis. Plus: 'Buried Treasury' and 'The Check is Not in the Mail'

The New York Times reports that the Treasury Department has reneged on a promise to turn over to a Senate Committee a list of Saudi individuals and organizations the U.S. government has investigated for possibly financing al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. "I think these guys are losing it," said Sen. Arlen Specter. "We did get a commitment on this list, and even in Washington a commitment means something."

An unnamed official who read blacked-out pages in Congress' 9/11 report, tells The New Republic that "There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone's chasing the charities. They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We're not talking about rogue elements."

Noting the Bush administration's refusal to release the President's Daily Brief for Aug. 6, 2001, the StarTribune editorializes that "Interest in getting to the bottom of the Saudi connection, however, should not deflect attention from the very real U.S. intelligence failures outlined in the report... Bush appears to be covering up for himself in one instance and for the Saudis in another." More on 'Bush's 9-11 Secrets.'

During a panel discussion that followed Larry King's interview with Howard Dean, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson answered a caller's question about the current location of Saddam's WMD, by saying that "We know he has chemical weapons because he used them on his own people up in the north against the Kurds." And when another caller brought up the issue of Bush going AWOL from the National Guard, she said, "I think the question is going back to a previous campaign."

Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign split on what to do about Dean.

William Saletan writes that "One of the comedies of the 2004 campaign is watching all the candidates other than Dean claim to be angry when they clearly aren't. Lieberman just happens to be the least convincing of them."

Newest gubernatorial candidate wants Californians to 'Vote for a Smut-Peddler Who Cares.'

Atrios points to Sadly, No!'s rundown of the increasingly distorted allegations against Episcopalian Rev. V. Gene Robinson, and points out Weekly Standard reporter Fred Barnes' conflict of interest.

One More Link The Boston Globe says that while a reporter "was able to get from the Outright home page to a site containing images of bisexuality, including explicit pictures of sexual acts, in six links," it took just seven links to "connect from the Episcopal Church's home page to a site featuring explicit photographs."

The New York Times Magazine reports on "Down-Low," the subculture of black men who regularly have sex with other men but don't consider themselves gay. Plus: Down-Low out West.

Wigged Out What's with Liberia's cross-dressing combatants?

Diamond Studs Maureen Dowd solicits "Queer Eye"-inspired makeover tips for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld.

August 4

Wednesday, August 6, 2003

Top secret Omaha nuke summit coincides with anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

In 'The other Iraq fraud' Steve Chapman writes "The charges about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction were at least arguable hypotheses, based on known facts about Mr. Hussein's history and inferences from his behavior. Not so with the al-Qaida/Iraq nexus." Plus: WMD arsenal in Saddam's shirt pocket?

Google News search reveals limited interest in a story first reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune and picked up on by the AP, in which Marine Corps fighter pilots and commanders said they dropped firebombs similar to napalm on Iraqi troops. Reporters covering the Pentagon pass on chance to question top dogs about the article.

During the first week of the war, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that according to "a U.S. officer," a U.S. Navy aircraft "dropped 40,000 pounds of explosives and napalm," near Basra. The article also included a denial by "a navy spokesman in Washington" that napalm was used.

International peace-crimes tribunal assails former President Jimmy Carter's "reign of tolerance."

Maureen Dowd says the Washington Post's story that Secretary of State Powell wouldn't be part of a second Bush term, "had all the earmarks of the neocons' pre-emptive strike on Iraq." Plus: Iconic Condi.

Nation article adds new chapter to 'Richard Perle Libel Watch.'

The Star Tribune continues its week-long editorial tear with "Robinson ambush: The anatomy of a smear," joining Tapped in criticizing the Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes for his role in trying to derail Rev. Gene Robinson's elevation to Bishop of New Hampshire.

The editorial says that Barnes is "not simply a journalist in this; he's a conservative Episcopalian of outspoken views who sits on the board of the Institute on Religion and Democracy," whose prominent contributors include the Olin, Scaife and Bradley foundations, "the same folks who bankrolled the Clinton wars."

Howard Kurtz introduces a Harvard University study by Michael Tomasky, that found conservative editorial pages to be far more partisan than the liberal ones and far less willing to criticize a Republican administration than the liberal pages are to take on a Democratic administration.

The Hartford Courant gets reaction to James Fallows' 'The Age of Murdoch,' a print-only Atlantic Monthly article in which he predicts that mainstream media outlets will become more partisan: "Sooner or later Murdoch's outlets, especially Fox News, will be more straightforward about their political identity -- and they are likely to bring the rest of the press with them." Earlier: The Columbia Journalism Review on 'Re-thinking Objectivity.'

In 'Fierce Watchdog of the Constitution,' Nat Hentoff profiles Fox News judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano, and credits Fox for having what he thinks is "the only regular Constitution beat -- with emphasis on the Bill of Rights -- anywhere in the news media. And that includes newspapers."

Traveling teen arrested at Boston's Logan airport and charged with a felony for having a profane note placed on top of clothes in a gym bag: "[Expletive] you. Stay the [expletive] out of my bag you [expletive] sucker. Have you found a [expletive] bomb yet? No, just clothes. Am I right? Yea, so [expletive] you."

Meaner Streets A new report by the National Coalition for the Homeless finds an "increasingly hostile attitude in the U.S. toward people who are homeless," and ranks Las Vegas and California as "meanest" city and state.

City supervisor slams San Francisco Hotel Council over anti-panhandling campaign.

Anti-recall Web site encourages Californians to Run for Governor: "Imagine a ballot with 1,000 candidates for governor. Help extend the absurdity of this recall election to its logical extreme."

Arianna Huffington is in the race as an independent and Sen. Dianne Feinstein is out. Another potential independent candidate taps background for unique proposals on taxes, energy and guns.

Cops called on mother of topless toddler and strip club workers suspected in attempt to steal $545,000 from SUV of Powerball king. Pink Pony patrons respond.

Colorado scammers posing as Army casualty notification officers, ask to see documents such as Social Security cards and birth and marriage certificates before giving families important news about their loved ones.

August 5

Thursday, August 7, 2003

Anthony Shadid writes that what happened in the Iraqi town of Khaldiyah, "provides a glimpse of how brittle U.S. efforts to reconstitute Iraq remain, and how quickly popular sentiments...can turn from simmering anger to open revolt."

Iraqis interviewed by the Boston Globe say resentment of U.S. being driven more by civilian casualties than unemployment, fuel shortages, or electricity blackouts.

Chief Iraq commander says U.S. will ease scope of raids: "I started to get multiple indicators that maybe our iron-fisted approach to the conduct of ops was beginning to alienate Iraqis."

The Los Angeles Times reports that highly organized kidnapping gangs have stepped into Iraq's security vacuum, "often targeting children and teenagers, usually from Iraq's tiny Christian community where no tribal networks exist to fight back against the gangs."

Josh Marshall says the U.S. has reneged on a promise of asylum for the Iraqi nuclear scientist who turned over parts of a gas centrifuge and nuclear weapons program blueprints that had been buried in his backyard. The CIA reportedly has him on ice in Kuwait, "apparently because the answers he's giving them aren't the ones they want to hear."

The Guardian's Julian Borger reports from Bellevue, Nebraska, home to Offutt air force base and site of this week's top secret nuke summit, described by one arms control proponent as "a confab of Dr. Strangeloves."

A Ha'aretz columnist wonders why President Bush is buying the 'tall tales' being fed to him by Prime Minister Sharon: "Does Bush know that Sharon is lying to him, or does he still believe him? Does Bush pretend to believe because of political convenience and domestic considerations?"

Joe Conason asks: 'If the Bushes reveal damaging information about the Saudis, what might the Saudis reveal about them?'

In an interview with BuzzFlash, Conason talks about how the media allows Republicans to get away with charges of "moral relativism" against Democrats: "It’s the job of the media to measure whether these kinds of allegations by one political party against another have any validity and how much hypocrisy is involved... Again and again, the mainstream media have failed to do that job."

The Washington Times reports on the Pentagon's new electronic voting system, that will allow military personnel and other Americans living abroad to cast online ballots in the 2004 elections, but doesn't mention that the contract was awarded to offshore company Accenture.

Entertain Us Noting that in 2000, approximately 60% of the 63 million Americans aged 18-34 didn't vote, Micah Sifry asks: "Given this huge untapped reservoir, why doesn't American politics better reflect the interests of younger people?"

Read an interview with Danny Goldberg and the long and the short of his "Dispatches from the Culture Wars: How the Left Lost Teen Spirit."

As the dam bursts in California and Arianna and Arnold meet the press, welcome to the show.

The Daily Kos on why "classy guy" Arnold's candidacy is a boon for the tabloids.

In 1999, Jesse Ventura advised Schwarzenegger to "continue with your movie career." That was the same year an unsuccessful recall drive was launched against then Gov. Ventura by environmentalist and political foe Leslie Davis, who claimed that Ventura had committed malfeasance by using his position as governor to leverage book and wrestling deals.

This week Davis was arrested on suspicion of obstructing a legal process after he refused to accept a copy of a harassment restraining order obtained by Ventura, that was prompted by Davis' protesting outside of the TV studio where Ventura is taping pilots for his planned MSNBC show. Read more about 'The man under Jesse's skin.'

August 6

Friday, August 8, 2003

Recalling Bush In a CNN report on the California election, correspondent Bob Franken compares Arnold Schwarzenegger's question-ducking to "a certain presidential campaign, where there was a minimum of give and take on issues. And I think that they've modeled their campaign probably, or trying to after the George Bush presidential effort."

In a talk about his book "The Modern American Presidency," broadcast on C-Span, Lewis Gould said the White House has become a "movie and television production set," where "Presidents now move from one camera set-up to another in the equivalent of the headquarters of a twenty-four hours news channel....Reporters no longer cover the White House in the sense of pursuing news. They are there instead as props in the domestic drama that fills in the dead hours on cable television until something real happens."

'Curiouser and Curiouser' Newsweek's Rod Nordland says that a day of violence in Baghdad deepens the mysteries of Iraq, which come in two kinds: "no one knows, and no one says." Plus: Photos capture firefight in Baghdad.

Chrisotopher Dickey sees no mystery in the length of the U.S. military's stay: "We’re here forever. The simple fact about the New Iraq is that never in our lifetimes will it be able to defend itself from its neighbors. It will always be dependent on the United States to do that job."

The Washington Post reports that Arnold Schwarzenegger's policies are a mystery, "on almost every issue that he would confront if elected governor of the nation's most populous state." Plus: 'Environment may be GOP waterloo.'

Casting the campaign as 'the ultimate reality show,' the Los Angeles Times says Schwarzenneger is drawing interest from entertainment news shows such as "Access Hollywood" and "Entertainment Tonight," which are free to cover him and not other candidates because they are exempt from equal opportunity requirements. Will President Bush join the show's cast?

He Wears it Well Politician who spent $1.7 million to finance recall looks like big loser.

Radiolibs vs. Radiocons  The New Yorker's Hendrik Hertzberg looks at what AnShell Media is up against in attempting to launch a liberal talk radio network: "The main obstacle, probably, is neither financial nor ideological but temperamental. Remember the old joke about politics being show business for ugly people? Well, right-wing radio is niche entertainment for the spiritually unattractive."

Foxy Lady NPR's ombudsman says the issue of correspondents opining on other media outlets "came to a head" after a recent column by Norman Solomon brought up Mara Liasson's comments on Fox News last October, when she called Reps. David Bonior and Jim McDermott "a disgrace" for statements they made during a pre-war trip to Iraq, adding "I mean, these guys ought to, I don't know resign."

After Brit Hume began Fox News' analysis of Al Gore's speech, by reading off six "false impressions" about Iraq which Gore had blamed on the Bush Administration, Juan Williams conceded that "Well, some of it was true." The Daily Howler says that's when Fred Barnes "began his faking," claiming that "Bush said exactly the opposite, consistently! Exactly the opposite!"

George Soros pledges $10 million to new political group that plans to spend $75 million on get-out-the-vote drive to defeat President Bush in 2004.

LA Weekly's Nikki Finke follows MSNBC's "Scarborough Country" behind enemy lines: "Not to Tehran or Damascus or Pyongyang. To Hollywood."

Did Joseph Stalin order a hit on John Wayne?

Citing a Wall Street Journal op-ed co-authored by former CIA director James Woolsey that revealed the details of a possible plan for attacking North Korea, Toronto's Globe and Mail says "the war drums in Washington have begun pounding again."

Mushroom Crowd The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has compiled the ultimate list of WMD statements by senior Bush administration officials, covering the period from August 2002 to July 2003. FAIR has its media counterpart.

Rivals for Iraq work say deck is stacked to favor Halliburton.

Reuters reports on a study by Iraq Body Count -- "Adding Indifference to Injury" -- that puts the minimum number of civilians injured in the Iraq war at more than 16,000, or, about 20 times the number of U.S. soldiers that the Pentagon says were "wounded in action."

U.S. says bounty on American soldiers upped to $5,000.

Let's Reroll The AP reports that U.S. investigators now believe the hijacker piloting Flight 93 crashed it into a Pennsylvania field because of a passenger uprising in the cabin, but that the insurgents didn't fight with the hijackers to seize the plane's controls. Responding to the report, a 9/11 widow who heard the flight tapes says "To even assume that the passengers didn't break into the cockpit is just ludicrous."

Feds takes a break from prosecuting the war on terrorism to catch a movie, and Attorney General Ashcroft announces plans for a 'Victory' tour to plug new terror bill. (8/7 post)

August 7

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fox sues Al Franken and his publisher to stop the use of the phrase ''fair and balanced'' in the title of his upcoming book, ''Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.''

In court papers, Fox calls Franken a "parasite," saying that he "is neither a journalist nor a television news personality. He is not a well-respected voice in American politics; rather, he appears to be shrill and unstable. His views lack any serious depth or insight."

BuzzFlash interviewed Franken about his book and his beef with Bill O'Reilly, who was the subject of a recent prayer vigil sponsored by a California gubernatorial candidate.

Another Planet  Slate finds some striking similarities between the business plan of Planet Hollywood and the business plan of Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign. Plus: Can he avoid the grill?

Distaste for historical revisionism serves as inspiration for latest presidential action figure, as plan develops to immortalize other top Bush administration officials.

Ross Perot gears up for 2004 election with Bushwhacking book proposal.

Meet the New Ross Kevin Phillips says that Howard Dean, like Perot before him, is an "anti-Bush" candidate, who, even if he doesn't win the nomination, could contribute to Bush's defeat with his constant hammering away at the president's policies.

Matthew Miller says that today's spectacle is that "'Family values' Republicans are sticking the kids with the bill for current spending while railing fraudulently against the 'big government' they support." And "If we had a functioning press corps... the fiscal and moral fraud of the GOP position would be self-evident. Instead, today's press corps chews endlessly over the political jockeying."

Analysts referenced in AP article predict that Iraq costs will total three to six times the $100 billion that U.S. civilian administrator Paul Bremer has publicly projected.

U.S. Treasury Department warns "human shields" that they face $10,000 fines for violating sanctions that forbade most travel to Iraq and commerce with Saddam's regime.

Monkey Media Report looks at what happens when private military contractors put bottom line concerns before the well being of U.S. soldiers.  Paul Krugman adds penny-pinching to the mix.  

Shot in the Dark Six Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. soldiers following an explosion that blew up an electrical transformer in a Baghdad suburb.

Former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay, now building the WMD case for the U.S., reportedly told Congress that he has evidence that Iraqi military forces were ordered to attack U.S. troops with chemical weapons.

Weak and Weaker The Washington Post reports on the Bush administration's campaign to market Saddam as a nuclear threat, which it says "began with weaker evidence" than was available about Iraq's alleged chemical and biological programs, "and grew weaker still in the three months before war." Plus: 'Sounding the Drums of War' timeline.

The Star Tribune editorializes that "On every piece of evidence in the U.S. indictment of Iraq, the story is the same: With a weak case on the most powerful argument for war -- preventing Saddam Hussein from going nuclear -- the Bush administration exaggerated and twisted information, and frequently just made stuff up."

"They were fully and repeatedly informed that those famous aluminum tubes were for regular rockets, not for atom bombs," writes Jerome Doolittle at Bad Attitudes Journal. "Then they went right out and told the world the opposite, with all the casual, carefree amorality of ad men assigned to the Philip Morris account." Plus: 'Radically Different from the Truth."

The AP reviews major elements of Secretary of State Powell's ''thick intelligence file" on Iraq, based on what was known in February and what has been learned since.

In reporting on a recent forum on media coverage of the Iraq war, hosted by the Guardian and New York magazine, Philip Weiss writes that "However spineless or greasy he has seemed to be, this is Tony Blair’s gift to America: The English have provided us with a left wing, a conscience wing that must be taken into account."

Fox "News Watch" panelists discuss President Bush's statements blaming TV news' "march to war" coverage for contributing to economic uncertainty. Host Eric Burns says that although Bush's accusations "were extremely controversial... no one in the media seems to have picked this up and responded to it." (scroll down)

As TV news audiences drop off, networks continue to spend big in Iraq.

Former CNN anchor Andrea Thompson hooks up with b-list Web site that offers to "have a real celebrity call you or a friend for just $19.95."

August 8-11

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

In an article on Islamic militants infiltrating Iraq, the Cairo bureau chief of the newspaper Al Hayat, tells the New York Times that Iraq's "chaotic security situation, unchecked borders and the lack of a central government," make it "the perfect environment for fundamentalist groups to operate and grow."

The Globe and Mail reports that Iraqi men are volunteering in droves for the Mahdi Army, an anti-U.S. occupation Shia force, named after a long-lost imam. While no guns have been distributed, one recruiter, who turned away a man trying to sign up his five-year-old son, said: "We don't have the ability, like a state, to import weapons, but everyone has his own gun at home anyway."

The New York Observer's Sridhar Pappu says that the Washington Post's "earth-rattling, policy-dictating piece" on how the Bush administration hyped Saddam as a nuclear threat, "marked a kind of capping-off point for the period in which the Post has outrun the New York Times and others, setting the national agenda on both the rebuilding of Iraq and the search for weapons of mass destruction..." Earlier: 'The Post War High.'

Josh Marshall introduces a WorldNetDaily article, which claims that a former Energy Department intelligence chief who agreed with the White House that Iraq had reconstituted its nuclear-arms program, was awarded a total of $20,500 in bonuses during the run-up to war. Scroll down for Marshall's take on the 'plot' that wasn't a plot.

Reuters reports that President Bush plans to sidestep Congress and name controversial appointee Daniel Pipes to serve on the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Arianna Huffington has enlisted Jesse Ventura's former campaign manager Dean Barkley to run her California gubernatorial campaign, and Bill Hillsman to develop her advertising. See Hillsman's work for Ventura, Paul Wellstone and Ralph Nader.

Thinking Out of the (Ballot) Box In an interview last fall, Hillsman talked about the state of politics and why the national parties don't come calling.

Fox's lawsuit against Al Franken and his publisher has resulted in hundreds of articles and sent "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" to number one on See how it marched up the charts.

Both Franken's book and Bill O'Reilly's rankings laggard, "Who's Looking Out For You," are due out in September, along with "The Oh Really Factor," whose publisher says the suit "makes Fox look small, mean-spirited and pinch-faced. What they're really trying to do is politically punish somebody for being critical of them. What more antidemocratic-free-speech act can we witness than that?"

"Have Fox's lawyers ever watched their own channel?" asks Brian Lambert. "It's essentially programmed by and for the shrill, unstable and depthless. If Roger Ailes... ran the place with any concern for journalism and none for shrill, unstable hype, spin and marketing, CNN would be eating his lunch, instead of vice versa."

Use It 0r Lose It Neal Pollack designates Friday, August 15, Fair and Balanced Day on the Internet. Plus: Fox ties one on with "Fair. Balanced. Unafraid." trademark registration.

Strike Out Atrios reports back from a Philadelphia Phillies game, where he says a Fox News crew was trying to goad fans sitting in the Gay Community section to say something mean about Bill O'Reilly.

Murdoch & the Mouse The Village Voice's Cynthia Cotts reports on a lawsuit filed by Nikki Finke against Walt Disney and the New York Post, after the Post fired her in response to a letter from Disney's president alleging errors in her reporting.

Below the Fray Attending a Christian youth rally at a Six Flags theme park, Matt Taibbi, writes of the "weird paradox" of people who want to reject our culture and our politics, yet scrupulously follow and criticize it: "What people on the so-called left have never figured out is that the strength of the Christian movement is that its people have had enough sense to openly reject the popular culture. They're just too stupid to do it effectively."

Iraq war scorn replaces post-9/11 war porn in Vanity Fair, as editor Graydon Carter turns against the Bush administration.

August 12

Thursday, August 14, 2003

As Afghanistan reels from what Reuters calls "one of its bloodiest days since the fall of the Taliban," Stratfor reports that the Taliban has wrested control of most of Zabul province in southeastern Afghanistan — for the first time recapturing a province since being ousted from power in November 2001.

Is the U.S. trying to buy its way out of Afghanistan?

"Bring Them Home Now" launches its campaign as the Bush administration reportedly abandons idea of giving U.N. more of a role in the occupation of Iraq.

U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan face Pentagon-supported pay cut of $225 per month.

Father-in-law of wounded soldier responds to column, claims U.S. military is downplaying seriousness of casualties in Iraq.

In a subscriber-only Financial Times op-ed, summarized here, economist Jeffrey Sachs writes that "The crucial question concerning Iraq is why the motives for war were disguised," and argues that it's "increasingly likely that Iraq was attacked because Saudi Arabia was deeply implicated" in 9/11.

More oily business involving Iraq, including 'Operation Oily Immunity.'

USA Today's Susan Page reports on how the White House is virtually bulletproof from investigation, what with the Republican lock on Congress, the expiration of the law that provided for special counsels and the GAO having backed off after losing its court case to open the records of VP Cheney's energy task force.

Schwarzenegger's run takes media heat off Bush, as Arnold overtakes yellowcake.

Washinton Post columnist Terry Neal says Schwarzenegger deserves a chance to answer questions about his association with U.S. English, "an organization that seeks to establish English as the official language of the United States and also has ties to right-wing nationalist movements that have stirred controversy for other politicians such as Mississippi Republican Sen. Trent Lott."

California Governor Gray Davis wins and Schwarzenegger loses in out-on-a-limb predictions.

Fortune reports on how J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup got off easy with a combined fine of $286 million for their central role in facilitating the Enron fraud, and William Greider asks: "Where's the outrage?"

Declan McCullagh interviews Sherman Austin, age 20, who is about to begin serving a one-year sentence for distributing information about Molotov cocktails and "Drano bombs" at McCullagh says Austin appears to be the first person to be convicted under a controversial 1997 law that made it illegal to publish such instructions with the intent that readers commit "a federal crime of violence."

The Authors Guild is compiling a list of works that might have been subject to being barred under Fox's interpretation of the trademark law, such as "Breakfast of Champions," and plans to submit it to the court hearing this case.

Law professor Jack Balkin says "The most troubling aspect of the lawsuit is its attempt to harass a political opponent through the use of intellectual property laws." Scroll down here for a response: 'Fox is waging a very clever marketing campaign.'

August 13

Friday, August 15, 2003

Power Tripped In an article on pre-blackout warnings, the Washington Post reports that while electricity deregulation over the past decade has dramatically increased the volume of power flowing on the grids, "Investment dwindled in transmission lines, whose profits are limited by regulation." Leaving the U.S., according to former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, "a superpower with a Third World grid."

Was the black-out a surprise? "Heck, no," says Greg Palast, "not to us in the field who've watched Bush's buddies flick the switches across the globe." Plus: Blackout History Project.

Top ten things to do in a blackout and tips from Iraqis.

The Memory Hole rescues a Reuters article in which the U.S. said that it had neither an exact count nor all the names of Guantanamo prisoners, and two versions of an AP article, the latter of which scrubbed the mention of an American helicopter purposely tearing down an Islamic banner in Sadr City. On Thursday, the U.S. made a banner apology.

Conditrarians The Boston Globe reports that the National Security Council was told before the war in Iraq, "in multiple classified reports," that the U.S. plan to build a democratic model in Iraq for the rest of the region "was so audacious that, in the words of one CIA report in March, it could ultimately prove 'impossible.'" Plus: 'Clean Break or Dirty War?'

Outrage forces Pentagon to reverse course on troop pay cuts.

The Pentagon just doesn't want Congress telling it how to spend the money, according to a spokesman who told reporters that "We're saying we've got plenty of authority.  We'll use that authority. In fact we are busy debating how best to use that authority." 

'In New York, Boys Covered Men'  The Daily Howler is in full throat, in part four of a series on the coverage of Al Gore's speech.

She Stoops to Cover  CNN anchor Kyra Phillips accuses Arianna Huffington of "mud slinging," following a press conference in which Huffington raised questions about a May 2001 "secret meeting" between Ken Lay and "prominent Republicans, among them Mike Milken and Arnold Schwarzenegger."  Earlier:  When 'CNN hit bottom.'

The Washington Post reports that "as Huffington spoke, a silver BMW slowed to a crawl on Sunset Boulevard. Its driver rolled down the windows and screamed: "Pay your taxes!"

The 'smut peddler who cares' tells Salon that if he pulls 10 percent in his polling, he's prepared to go the distance. If not? "Arianna is a good friend and I would support her in a second."

Fundamental Divide Nicholas Kristof agrues that the increasingly evangelical nature of American Christianity is opening a gulf, "Not only between America and the rest of the industrialized world, but...between intellectual and religious America."

Sidney Blumenthal on 'The right wing's summer of hate,' and how the vocabulary of bullying is intrinsic to the politics of bullying.

An Enquirer columnist writes that a sold-out performance by Sean Hannity in Cincinnati "was feeding time at the zoo, and liberals were the raw meat being broiled by Hannity and his guest, author Ann Coulter." Is Hannity a trademark violator?

'Fair & Balanced' Web site joins exploding market segment, with links to coverage of Fox's Franken suit, including video of Jon Stewart's report.

Saturday Night's All Right? In a statement released by MSNBC, after it downgraded Jesse Ventura 's upcoming show to one night a week, Ventura said: "It's not as confining as weeknight programming and will allow me more freedom to strut my stuff and make my case." In response, Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the Tyndall Report said: "Yes, freedom to strut his stuff, unencumbered by an audience."

Washington Post takes heat over editorial that chided Europeans for fussing about their hot weather.

August 14

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

One-Two (Counter) Punch: Jeffrey St. Clair says the war in Iraq "won't be remembered for how it was waged so much as for how it was sold," and Alexander Cockburn looks at New York Times' reporter Judith Miller's war pitch.

"It isn't just propaganda any more," says Brian Eno, "it's 'prop-agenda'... not so much the control of what we think, but the control of what we think about."

Despite being virtually ignored by the mainstream media in the U.S., "Weapons of Mass Deception" is among's 100 best-selling books.

Read various excerpts/adaptations: 'The Fog of War Talk,' 'True Lies,' 'Trading on Fear' and 'How To Sell a War.'

August 19

Hutton Inquiry hears e-mail from Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief of staff, warning that the British intelligence dossier failed to provide evidence that Saddam posed a military threat.

The White House appears to have recently changed a Web site headline, that according to Washington Post reporters and this news release, had read: "President Bush Announces Combat Operations in Iraq Have Ended."

In an editorial headlined 'White House Fantasies on Iraq,' the New York Times says "the biggest problems have been airbrushed out" of an "implausibly upbeat" 100-day progress report on Iraq, "making it read more like a Bush campaign flier than a realistic accounting to the American people."

The Washington Post's Anthony Shadid reports on a rare Sunni/Shiite alliance in Iraq, between two clerics who oppose the U.S. occupation and were both left out of the Iraqi Governing Council named last month.

Journalist watchdog groups join Reuters in calling for a public inquiry into the shooting death of cameraman Mazen Dana. Read Reporters Without Borders' statement and a letter to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld from the Committee to Protect Journalists. Witnesses tell AP that the shooting was not an accident.

In a Nightline interview, Dana talked about working as a cameraman and journalist in Hebron: "I have multi injuries, many, if you look to my body, you will not find one centimeter without beating, without rubber or live bullets." A slideshow and other photos show a family's grief and colleague's protests.

'The Two Cowards' Israeli novelist Amos Oz says that fanatic Arabs and extremist Jews are able to block the road for peace because leaders on both sides are afraid to challenge them.

'Crimine Solicitationies' The Observer obtains a secret Vatican document from 1962, in which Pope John XXIII instructed Catholic bishops worldwide to cover up cases of sexual abuse or risk being excommunicated.

The Sacramento Bee reports on Arnold Schwarzenegger's hiring of campaign consultants who were at the heart of a scandal that drove California's Insurance Commissioner from office.

One is media man Don Sipple, who worked on gubernatorial campaigns for Pete Wilson and George W. Bush, as well as Bob Dole's 1996 presidential race. In a 1997 article, 'The True Character of a Spin Doctor?', Mother Jones reported allegations that Sipple, who "helped Republican candidates leap the gender gap with ads that exploit women's fears of violence," had physically abused his two ex-wives.

The ex-wives issued statements supporting the accuracy of the article and a $12.6 million libel suit filed by Sipple against reporter Richard Blow and Mother Jones was thrown out of court.

In a column about the article, Arianna Huffington wrote that "Mayor Susan Golding of San Diego, who is running for the Senate, was planning to use Sipple as her media consultant... 'If it turns out that Sipple has a violent temper and has abused his wives,' her campaign strategist George Gorton told me 'then it would severely impact our interest in him.'"

In 'California Confidential,' the American Prospect looks at the "consultant cabal," including Gorton and Sipple, that "Months before the recall was even a blip on the media radar...began manipulating California's idiosyncratic electoral system, creating a muscular funding mechanism and exploiting it for its members' own ends."

Totalled Recall Schwarzenegger gives reporters three minutes, dismisses criticism by Huffington that he's a "Bush Republican" and says "I don't remember" a May 2001 meeting between Kenneth Lay and prominent California Republicans.

Iraqi information minister jokesters extend brand with Arnold. Now that a poll finds Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante leading Schwarzenegger, will he get the 'Ahhnold!?' treatment?

David Neiwert looks at allegations of racism being leveled against Bustamante.

Democratic presidential candidates appropriate each other's lines about President Bush.

Where's Thomas Friedman getting his lines about the Middle East?

"The accusation that Fox is a conservative network is pure propaganda, writes Bill O'Reilly. "But facts don't matter to the Fox haters who are, themselves, primarily ultraliberal." James Fallows on 'The Age of Murdoch.'

Does Paul Newman have a case against HUD for copyright infringement?

In response to Rep. Tom DeLay calling him one of the "blow-dried Napoleons," Gen. Wesley Clark tells Wolf Blitzer that "I'd be happy to compare my hair with Tom DeLay's. We'll see who's got the blow-dried hair."

August 15-18

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

"Rushing to pummel Iraq after 9/11, Bush officials ginned up links between Saddam and Al-Qaeda," writes Maureen Dowd. "They made it sound as if Islamic fighters on a jihad against America were slouching toward Baghdad to join forces with murderous Iraqis. There was scant evidence of it then, but it's coming true now."

Dowd refers to a Financial Times article in which a Saudi dissident said he was told by a security official inside the kingdom that up to 3,000 Saudi men had gone "missing" in two months. The dissident said that while the number crossing into Iraq is unknown and that there was no clear link to al-Qaeda, "its umbrella is huge, which is what has given it its ability to survive."

Terrorism analyst Peter Bergen sees bin Laden's hand in the Baghdad bombing, adding that "It is only a matter of time before al-Qaeda is able to pull off a significant terrorist attack that kills a large number of American soldiers. At that point perhaps the American public will ask: 'Didn't we invade Iraq to prevent exactly what is happening now?'" Plus: Bergen and other analysts say all roads lead to Iraq.

But that's a good thing, according to "flypaper" theory adherent Ralph Peters, who says in a "NewsHour" discussion that "terrorists rushing into Iraq and getting themselves out quite well for us." A security policy analyst calls Peters' argument "delusional" and says it "makes no sense at all...we're actually enlarging the terrorism problem, in fact, making our terrorism problem worse not better by going into Iraq."

U.S. reportedly continuing to shift intelligence officers from Afghanistan to Iraq.

Former U.S, diplomat John Brady Kiesling, who was stationed in Athens when he resigned over the Iraq war, writes in a Greek newspaper that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld led Bush to war: "Easy to convince, (Bush) blindly believed in Rumsfeld's assurances that the occupation of Iraq would pay for itself."

In an examination of counter-insurgency options in Iraq, blogger Billmon writes that "success requires political stability, physical security and a speedy revival of Iraq's battered oil industry...but the reliance on oil exports to pay the bills is a particularly dangerous Achilles Heel. It's tough to imagine a vital industry more vulnerable to disruption and sabotage."

Are saboteurs in Iraq providing a convenient cover for the coalition's failures?

A New York Times report on the bus bombing in Jerusalem, notes that "Fireworks burst over Hebron," home to the suicide bomber, "as Palestinians there celebrated the bombing." Reuters reports that during a Hebron funeral procession for slain cameraman Mazen Dana, "about 3,000 mourners, some chanting 'Americans are dogs,' accompanied his body through the streets, "in a procession reminiscent of final honors accorded to Palestinians killed by Israel in an uprising for statehood."

The "silly season" of August is no more, as dog days give way to a '24-hour bad news cycle.'

In response to a question about why rich liberals don't fund media, Joe Conason, appearing with Washington Times editorial page editor Tony Blankley, on "Hardball," said: "It would have been good if somebody had decided to be like Reverend Moon and spend hundred of millions of dollars on the Washington Times where Tony Blankley works, which has never made any money... The free market isn’t what supports the Washington Times... That is a propaganda operation that is paid for by Reverend Sun Moon."

Read a review of, and the introduction to, Conason's "Big Lies," which has moved into Amazon's top ten.

Payroll Deduction During a "Fox News Watch" segment on the network's Franken suit, host Eric Burns asked, according to the transcript, "Does anybody else on the FOX News panel want to leap in...?" But a viewer writes to Media News (scroll down to 'Transcript tampered with?') that "I saw the show and could swear I heard Burns ask 'Does anybody else on the Fox PAYROLL want to leap in ...'" 

Thursday, August 21, 2003

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the spate of mostly soft-target attacks in Afghanistan over the last ten days that have left more than 90 people dead -- the vast majority of them civilians.

"We've got ourselves some trouble," writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jay Bookman: "So what's the plan? Where are the additional troops going to come from? Where's the money going to come from? How are we going to fix this?"

"Beefing up the American occupation is not the answer to the problem," says Bob Herbert. "The American occupation is the problem. The U.S. cannot bully its way to victory in Iraq. It needs allies, and it needs a plan. As quickly as possible, we should turn the country over to a genuine international coalition, headed by the U.N. and supported in good faith by the U.S."

The Bush administration is reportedly planning to seek a Security Council resolution that would urge other nations to send troops and aid to Iraq, but allow the U.S. military to maintain control over international forces.

Robert Fisk asks "What UN member would ever contemplate sending peace-keeping troops to Iraq now?" He adds that talk of foreign terrorists in Iraq "covers up the painful reality: that our occupation has spawned a real home-grown Iraqi guerrilla army capable of humbling the greatest power on Earth."

Australian reporter Paul McGeough says that if accounts of the resistance that he gathered over ten days are accurate, "U.S. intelligence is way behind understanding that what is emerging in Iraq is a centrally controlled movement, driven as much by nationalism as the mosque, a movement that has left Saddam and the Baath Party behind and already is getting foreign funds for its bid to drive out the U.S. army."

A formal naval officer recounts U.S. attempts to control the civilian population in Vietnam: "Our government called it 'pacification.' We called it madness. It all has come back to me while watching the news from Iraq, where we should be applying more of the lessons so painfully learned in Vietnam. Instead, we seem to be repeating our mistakes."

The New York Times reports on a confrontational meeting between civilian administrator Paul Bremer and the Iraqi Governing Council, which responded to Bremer's demand that it exert more authority, by saying it lacked authority to convince Iraqis it was effective or relevant. Plus: Ahmed Chalabi says truck bomb intelligence shared with U.S.

In an interview for the upcoming book, "Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq," New York Times foreign correspondent John Burns said: "This war could have been justified any time on the basis of human rights. Alone."

Michael Wolff says the plot has momentarily stalled as the White House, the Democrats, and the media all try to answer the question: 'Exactly what kind of trouble is the president in?' Plus: Gathering of "liberal power elite" taken aback by Bill Clinton's partisan passion.

Slate reviews, of which a reader writes: "In all but one of the ["compassion" section] photos that pictures President Bush along with other people... he is interacting with black people. Is this his definition of compassion? Is there some sort of moral generosity implied by his interacting with black Americans?" Plus:  Bush mining voters. cries foul over "poorly-designed parody" and anti-Bush activists plan 'Flood the Zone Fridays.'

One of the founders of the Fair and Balanced PAC -- -- says that "What we hope to do is to remind people that all of the things that are being said about Gray Davis as the reasons for the recall can be applied to George Bush." 

Reporters pumped up as 'assured, vague' Schwarzenegger speaks. Plus: Tabloids in deal to lay off Arnold?

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, if the U.S. adopted a Canadian-style health care system, the savings would likely pay for coverage for the more than 41 million Americans without health insurance.

Going for Broke  More Americans now declaring bankruptcy than getting divorced.

August 20

Friday, August 22, 2003

The Bush administration is "unabashedly using Kremlin tactics to muzzle members of Congress and thwart the current federal commission investigating the failures of Sept. 11," writes Gail Sheehy. "But there is at least one force that the administration cannot scare off or shut up. They call themselves 'Just Four Moms from New Jersey,' or simply 'the girls.'" Aka "the Jersey girls."

Bad week for peace suggests 'Security may not be safe issue for Bush in '04.'

"NewsHour" discussion by editorial page editors illustrates splits on Iraq.

Terror Sell As the U.S. tries to get U.N. help in Iraq, without giving up authority, the Los Angeles Times reports that "U.S. officials linked Tuesday's bombing to other terrorist incidents, providing a framework for reluctant supporters to say their soldiers would be fighting terrorism, not supporting the occupation."

He's Baaaack!  Secretary of State Powell calls on Yasser Arafat to enlist security forces under his control to go after Palestinian militant groups. Earlier: 'Three Men in a Boat.'

Ha'aretz reports that before the assassination of Hamas co-founder Ismail Abu Shanab, often described as a moderate, Palestinians said that Arafat had agreed to put security forces under his control at the disposal of Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' security chief. Plus: 'Now it's do or die for Abbas.'

Israel picks big news day to demolish West Bank commercial area to make way for security barrier/wall/fence. See more photos and maps at Apartheid Wall Campaign.

WIA Go MIA The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the number of U.S. military personnel who have been wounded since the Iraq war began -- more than 1,000 -- is not listed under the casualty posting for U.S. CentCom or the Pentagon. Reporters must specifically ask for those tallies.

'No Less Dead' Media reports still ignoring U.S.' non-combat fatalities in Iraq.

Access Hollywood "Most Americans are unaware that the U.S. military routinely reviews scripts that might require Defense Department cooperation and that the Pentagon compels changes for television and movies to convey the government's message," writes Jonathan Turley. "This work is done by a team of military reviewers 'embedded' in Hollywood."

Attorney General Ashcroft met colorfully-dressed protesters at Detroit tour stop, where his speech was disrupted by a follower of Lyndon LaRouche. Earlier: Aschcroft security detail fears acid throwers.

Critics slam Ashcroft tour with 'Brother John's Traveling Patriot Salvation Show' and 'Heeeere's Johnny.'

TalkLeft looks at the proposed Victory Act bill, which it says "reinvents drug offenses as terrorism crimes."

The Philadelphia Inquirer's TV critic says that Janeane Garofalo has "more than held her own" while co-hosting CNN's "Crossfire" this week. Garofalo blames an "infantilizing" pre-war segment with Connie Chung -- during which she told Chung: "You make me nervous." -- for getting her smoking again.

Heard On the Street Norman Solomon imagines what would happen 'if famous journalists became honest rappers.': "The New York Times let me spin 'bout WMDs. Got lots of front-page ink, Iraq is on its knees."

Washington City Paper's Erik Wemple looks at how pro-war editorial writers have undertaken the task of "eating crow without making a face," now that much of the basis for their pre-war opining has been proven false. Plus: No Lie!

Mother Knows Best?  The daughter of Sally Baron, a Wisconsin woman whose family had the words "Memorials in her honor can be made to any organization working for the removal of President Bush," included in her obituary, said her mother "would always watch CNN, C-SPAN, and you know, she'd just swear at the TV and say 'Oh, Bush, he's such a whistle ass!'" Plus: 'Even the obits are going against Bush.'

Susan Estrich uses the kids to launch a scathing attack on Arianna Huffington, even charging her with "turning the governor's race into a joke." Will Arianna talk back?

Arnold also pumped down, in 'My Lesson From Mr. Olympia' and 'Conan the Deceiver.'

August 21

Monday, August 25, 2003

Friends in Dark Places Knight Ridder reports that what U.S. officials aren't saying -- "but ordinary Iraqis know -- is that terrorists are finding sympathizers among a growing number of people who have been alienated by the heavy-handed tactics of American soldiers, and by the failure of the U.S.-led occupation to deliver safe streets, electricity, clean water and jobs."

The article quotes the editor of Iraq Today, a weekly English-language newspaper, and Jessica Stern, who wrote an op-ed last week titled "How America Created a Terrorist Haven."

In recent posts at Baghdad Burning -- "Girl blog from Iraq... let's talk war, politics and occupation." -- pseudonymous blogger "Riverbend" writes about the effects of a 65 percent unemployment rate and an "overwhelming return to fundamentalism." Plus: 'The two faces of the occupation.'

A Seattle forum on pre-Iraq war intelligence claims draws 1,100 people. One attendee quotes panelist and former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson as having told the gathering that it's of great interest to him to "see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs."

U.S. weapons experts cast doubt on claims made by President Bush during an October 7 speech in Cincinnati, in which he said that Iraqi drones "could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas," and that Iraq was "exploring ways of using these UAVS for missions targeting the United States." Earlier: Speech also hyped Iraq-al-Qaeda connection.

In a New York Times op-ed, former U.N. weapons inspector Scott Ritter wonders why the U.S. failed to secure the complex that housed the Iraqi National Monitoring Directorate, the repository for Iraqi government records relating to its weapons programs.

"Get Over It?" History News Network's Thomas Spencer responds to a Washington Post column by David Ignatious, 'Time to Unite,' in which he calls on both sides in the Iraq debate to bury the hatchet.

Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root wins no bid contract as plans are set in stone for a new facility at Guantanamo Bay. 

Dollars & Sense has a company by company breakdown of reconstruction contracts in Iraq.

What a Load! Blogger Skimble looks at how financial services marketers are pitching retirement plans to U.S. military personnel, that include mutual funds with first-year sales charges of up to fifty percent.

One biased voice is enough for CNN's Lou Dobbs, who has banned retired Gen. Wesley Clark from appearing on his show for the remainder of the Iraq war. Earlier: Dobbs sings pro-war tune.

Internal memo to Fox News staff says no more Schwarzenneger movie puns, "Otherwise the effect is often to belittle the candidacy of the front-runner for one of the most important offices in the U.S., and that's not fair and balanced."

Said one Fox News executive: "The circus component is starting to subside. People have gotten their yuks about the porn star and the sitcom representative, but I think people want to get down to dollars and cents."

Silly Like a Fox Arguments by attorneys for Fox News met with courtroom laughter as judge rejects network's request for an injunction to stop Al Franken from using the words "fair and balanced" on the cover of his best-selling book. Is Franken banking on an appeal by Fox?

The source for Fox's vitriolic lawsuit quotes -- describing Franken as a "parasite" and an "increasingly unfunny... C-level political commentator -- was a commentary written by a columnist for a weekly newspaper that covers Platte County, Missouri.

The Daily Howler calls the Weekly Standard's Byron York -- also a guest commentator on PBS' "NewsHour" -- on his contention that "The Immaculate Deception," which York calls "the bible for Bush murder-and-conspiracy aficionados," is outselling "Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot." 'Deception' vs. 'Idiot.'

August 22-25

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

In an interview with "Democracy Now!", Stephen Kinzer, author of "All the Shah’s Men," talks about the 1953, CIA-orchestrated coup that overthrew the government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. Kinzer says the coup sent a message that the U.S. "Wanted dictatorship in the Middle East, and a lot of people in the Middle East got that message very clearly and that helped to lead to the political trouble we face there today."

Read a review and the first chapter of "All the Shah's Men," along with the article naming Mossadegh Time's 1951 "Man of the Year." More on Mossadegh and the coup in this biography and in archives from The Iranian, that includes a link to CIA documents on the overthrow.

GAO report says White House collaborated heavily with corporations in developing President Bush's energy policy, as investigators accuse Vice President Cheney of stifling probe.

"Executive Excess" report for 2003 finds that "CEOs at companies with the largest layoffs, most underfunded pensions and biggest tax breaks were rewarded with bigger paychecks."

Could President Bush's failure to deliver on his "compassionate conservative" agenda become an election year liability? "Critics say the pattern has been consistent," writes Elisabeth Bumiller. "The president, in eloquent speeches that make headlines, calls for millions or even billions of dollars for new initiatives, then fails to follow through and push hard for the programs on Capitol Hill."

Bumiller notes that Bush's campaign Web site is "lush with a 'compassion photo gallery' showing him reading to schoolchildren, helping out at a soup kitchen and visiting an AIDS treatment center in Africa." Dana Milbank points out that while 16 of the 20 shots in the "compassion" gallery "feature Bush with non-white faces (the other four are studies of Bush), all 16 of the photos in the 'environment' gallery display what appear to be white complexions."

Jimmy Breslin and Paul Krugman respond to the EPA report that said the White House instructed the EPA to mislead New Yorkers on 9/11 pollution. Links to documents and more articles at 9/11 Environmental Action.

Loaded Deck An editor for the Marine Corps Times says "America's Most Unwanted" is different from other partisan playing-card deck's spawned by the Iraq war, because it's "the creation of two active-duty Marine officers, and what's dangerous is that the Marine Corps is winking at their sale and distribution."

The number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since May 1, when President Bush declared that major combat was over, now exceeds the number that died before that. Complete breakdown here.

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll says "I was wrong. The invasion of Iraq by the United States is not as bad an idea as I thought it was. It was worse."

As the Bush administration launches a campaign to counter Iraq criticism, Robert Kagan and William Kristol, in a Weekly Standard article, accuse the administration of a "baffling" failure "to commit resources to the rebuilding of Iraq" and warn that "These failings, if not corrected soon, could over time lead to disaster."

Emerging Bush doctrine of pre-emption said to be placing "stresses on intelligence that it cannot bear."

A longer version of 'Intelligence: The Achilles Heel of the Bush Doctrine,' is available at Arms Control Today, along with former State Department intelligence analyst Greg Theilmann's 'Rumsfeld Reprise? The Missile Report That Foretold the Iraq Intelligence Controversy.'

The Observer's Ed Vulliamy bids farewell to America after a six-year stint as the paper's U.S. correspondent.

The Daily Howler and Media Whores Online (scroll down) catch "Hardball" host Chris Matthews spinning out of control, with his accusation that "Big Lies" author Joe Conason got it wrong.

Conason responds to Matthews and appears on a "Crossfire" episode co-hosted by Al Franken.

August 25

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Howard Dean's presidential campaign says that it expects to raise $10.3 million for three months ending Sept. 30, matching Bill Clinton's 1995 quarterly fundraising record. A new Zogby poll gives Dean a 38% to 17% lead over Sen. John Kerry in New Hampshire.

President Bush raises as much as $1.4 million in 24 minutes, during a St. Paul fundraising stop in which he denied that he had started camaigning, saying "Until the political season starts for me..." and "I'm loosening up and getting ready for the campaign, but there's going to be plenty of time for politics."

That speech and other fundraising pitches by Bush and Vice President Cheney are on the White House Web site, a practice that, according to a report in the Washington Post, "could be violating the Hatch Act, which restricts political actions by government employees."

Both Bush and Dean make Florida moves, with the U.S. Treasury Department cracking down on travel to Cuba and Dean altering his stand on the trade embargo.

Village Voice film critic J. Hoberman previews the Showtime docudrama "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis," calling it "a shameless propaganda vehicle" that "also marks a new stage in the American cult of personality: the actual president as fictional protagonist." See a rougher cut of President Bush's "interesting day."

ChronWatch floats sedition charge over San Francisco Chronicle editorial asking: "Did President Bush or other senior administration officials knowingly exaggerate evidence about weapons of mass destruction or deceive the American public?"

"So that's the latest rationale for going into Iraq?" asks Maureen Dowd. "We wanted an Armageddon with our enemies, so we decided to conquer an Arab country and drive the Muslim fanatics so crazy with their jihad mentality that they'd flip out and storm in, and then we'd kill them all? Terrorism is not, as the president seems to suggest, a finite thing."

Not (Just) Your Father's War "Bush says that America will 'persevere' in Iraq, writes James Pinkerton. "But the Israelis have been 'persevering' in an area that's a fraction of the size and population for 36 years now...if we are as persevering as the Israelis, and if the Iraqis are as persevering as the Palestinians, then the Anglo-Americans could be fighting in Iraq for 36 years themselves."

Ombundsman explains Orlando Sentinel policy of referring to al-Qaedaites as "terrorists" and to members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad as "militants."

Saudi Arabia challenges claim that Saudis have traveled to Iraq to fight American troops, accuses the U.S. of failing to secure border. In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said: "The ways these people are getting into the country is from Iran and from Syria and from Saudi Arabia."

Billmon questions the U.S. plan to recruit agents of Saddam's old intelligence service, the Mukhabarat, thereby "recreating the same police state apparatus that America supposedly came to Iraq to destroy. I mean, it's hard to be 'Wilsonian' when your hired Iraqi goons are connecting car batteries to the testicles of suspected terrorists."

In an interview with the Washington Post, U.S. occupation coordinator Paul Bremer said it's "almost impossible to exaggerate" how much money it will take to reconstruct Iraq, putting the tab at "several tens of billions" of dollars.

As U.S. plans for a new resolution on Iraq meet "fierce resistance" at the U.N., Cynthia Cotts reports on a behind-the-scenes conflict between the spokesperson for the U.S. mission, and some U.N. correspondents who he has rubbed the wrong way.

"Democracy Now!" hosts a debate between a utility company representative and the director of Natural Resources Defense Council, over a new Bush administration rule that reportedly would allow thousands of older power plants, oil refineries and industrial units to make extensive upgrades without having to install new anti-pollution devices.

The new issue of Mother Jones has a special package of articles on the Bush administration's environmental agenda, titled "The UnGreening of America." More on the administration's below the radar strategy on the environment.

The Christian Science Monitor reports that European media have gone "fou fou" over the California recall and Arnold Schwarzenneger. Plus: "Outsider" candidate heavily dependent on insider advisers.

Recall fever threatens to spill across the border into Nevada.

August 26

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Next update September 2

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that a new study on Jemaah Islamiah found that the Indonesian terror group is both larger and better networked than previously thought, and that it's producing a new generation of "jihadists" from members' children, who are educated in Islamic boarding schools in Indonesia.

The study also says Jemaah Islamiah was formed around a core of Indonesians who fought alongside bin Laden in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Zachary Abuza, author of the book "Militant Islam in Southeast Asia," discusses kingpin Hambali's arrest and his Afghan connection. (Scroll down for audio only) Plus: 'Asia's most-wanted man lived life of a backpacker.'

With the U.S. reportedly readying a plan to overhaul its Afghan rebuilding effort, Reuters reports on the 'growing menace to stability' posed by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Asia Times' Syed Saleem Shahzad looks at how the group grows its army.

The Washington Post reports that Halliburton's Iraq contracts "are significantly greater than was previously disclosed."

Labor Dazed U.S. occupation authorities show little tolerance for labor protesters in Iraq.'s Dick Meyer says that while President Bush gave a fine campaign speech on Iraq this week, he didn't address "the substantive concerns about the administration's reconstruction policy directly. Nor did he level with the American people about the costs in blood and bucks... A leader addresses these challenges -- a campaigner finesses them."

'Duped' Defense? The Los Angeles Times reports that U.S. intelligence officials now claim to have evidence that "Hussein's regime sent 'double agents' disguised as defectors to the West to plant fabricated intelligence."

Rank Liars Mendacity Index rates recent presidents on whopper telling.

On the Media interviews Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie about the paper's aggressive debunking of pre-war intelligence claims, and the Washingtonian reports on how the Post's Walter Pincus had to fight to get his stories on the front page.

Read how badly Fox News' Brit Hume missed the mark with his claim that U.S. soldiers have less of a chance of dying in Iraq than citizens have of being murdered in California.

Taos mayor upset by protests against Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial calls on President Bush to send Rumsfeld packing.

New York Times' editorial rails against the Bush administration's "reckless and insupportable decision to eviscerate a central provision of the Clean Air Act and allow power plants, refineries and other industrial sites to spew millions of tons of unhealthy pollutants into the air."

Go Phish Tom Tomorrow thinks a Times reporter covering a Howard Dean rally full of "Birkenstock liberals... aging flower children and the tongue-studded next generation," may have wandered into the wrong event.

Charisma Tour The Weekly Standard's Matt Labash reports on the uphill task facing the 20 or so kids and grandkids of Sen. Bob Graham who converged on Iowa for a family vacation intended to breathe life into Graham's presidential campaign. Photos here. Earlier: Graham at the track and on the air.

Journalism professor who left Minnesota for California writes that "It's not about action figures with statehouse aspirations, or about voters who find well-publicized physical bulk politically appealing. It's all about the death of embarrassment."

Nikki Finke on 'Arnold’s Sexual Recall' and "Democracy Now!" talks to Peter Manso, who did the Schwarzenneger interview for the August 1977 issue of Oui.

Schwarzenegger told Sean Hannity "I think that gay marriage is something that should be between a man and a woman," but the Washington Post cleaned up the Arnoldism.

Judge tells Ventura critics to leave Jesse alone. Plus: Unsourced report says Ventura's yet-to-air MSNBC show has been cancelled.

Ten Commandments Monument makes move into TV entertainment.

August 27

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