November, 2007 link archive

Thursday, November 1, 2007

As it's reported that a mercenary force has recruited an army to defend it, the Washington Post obtains "musings and memos" in which then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld "wrote of the need to 'keep elevating the threat,' 'link Iraq to Iran' and develop 'bumper sticker statements' to rally public support for an increasingly unpopular war."

The Los Angeles Times cites U.S. officials who believe the most likely trigger for a confrontation with Iran is "an incident on the ground in Iraq," and Tony Karon applauds Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria for his stance on Iran, "acting with honor now to prevent another disaster," and "taking this fight into the mainstream media."

With Iran said to be 'prepared for the worst,' Jim Lobe reports on an appeal sent by Sen. Chuck Hagel to President Bush, calling on him to pursue "direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks" with Tehran, and Gareth Porter reveals 'Plan B (for 'bombs') after Iran fantasy fails.'

Although one U.S. Army general warns of a "tough recruiting year," another is reportedly trumpeting a new alliance to U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq, and the words of a third are invoked to introduce a training video.

U.S. diplomats vent about "directed assignments" to Iraq, first announced to the news media, late last Friday, with one telling Foreign Service Director General Harry Thomas, "at any other (country) in the world, the embassy would be closed at this point," after which Thomas reportedly said, "Okay, thanks for your comment," and ended the meeting.

Interviewed on "Countdown" about "serial quitter" Karen Hughes, and a report that the White House plans to increasingly rely on administrative orders to implement policy, "Bush's Brain" co-author James Moore said of Bush himself: "I challenge anybody to see where this guy has ever compromised." Plus: Robert Parry on why it's 'Time to Apologize to Plame/Wilson.'

With Senators' positions on the Attorney General nominee being tallied, Democrats are said to 'Have one last chance to address torture,' and a man who took the plunge has 'A Lesson for Mukasey,' who is reportedly trying to avoid the 'Tangle of Torture Cases.'

According to the Village Voice's Wayne Barrett, 'Rudy's run' is being 'haunted' by both Mukasey and Bernard Kerik, as the latter is "being sued for allegedly stiffing a law firm on a $202,384.04 tab, after its lawyers helped keep him out of jail." Earlier: 'Giuliani's Bernard Kerik Shield.'

As 'Rising prices widen gap between rich and poor,' the release of GAO report on the 'Long-Term Fiscal Challenge' coincides with Senate testimony warning that 'Fiscal crisis threatens U.S. future.' Plus: 'A year before voting, a discontented nation.'

Tim Russert is called on to 'Stop the Inanity,' and it's observed that Tuesday's debate "brought an unfortunate spin to the term 'pack journalism': reporters and candidates alike seemed on the prowl when it came to Clinton," whose campaign is now hitting up supporters for more money.

Members of Westboro Baptist Church sing "God Hates America" outside of the courthouse where a jury hit the church, Rev. Fred Phelps and his two daughters with $10.9 million in damages for invasion of privacy and inflicting emotional distress in picketing the funeral of a Marine killed in Iraq.

The Revealer's Jeffrey Sharlett reviews "Crazy for God," a new memoir by Frank Schaeffer, the son of Francis Schaeffer, who is said to have "taught a generation of evangelical leaders to engage 'the culture' as fully as possible, the better to conquer it." Plus: 'Jane Smiley smiled upon me and so did those nutty creationists.'

In an essay on Diane Keaton's photo anthologies, Larry McMurtry writes that "when I scan the photographs she has located and sponsored, whether about clowns or salesmen or actors, I can see that a high percentage of them are of people life has humbled -- even if they don't yet quite realize it."

Clips from "Salesman," the 1968 documentary by David and Albert Maysles, are now available online. It was recently voted one of the 25 best documentaries in movie history, with the Maysles brothers and Michael Moore being the only directors to have three films on the list.

With just 16 stop shopping days left until the national premiere of "What Would Jesus Buy?," the director and the star discuss the film, which was predicted to be a 'tough sell.'

October 31

Friday, November 2, 2007

President Bush generates wild applause at a right wing think tank by complaining about the disproportionate influence of and Code Pink in Washington, but only ranks 21st in the Telegraph's list of influential conservatives, just a few notches above Christopher Hitchens, and far below Gen. Petraeus.

It's 'My Way or the Die Way,' as Bush plays 'the 9/11 card' to rescue his beleaguered attorney general nominee, who is facing 'a torture litmus test' over his refusal to take a stand against waterboarding, while a Washington Post editorial on the issue flunks history.

Salon's Mark Benjamin looks into 'What Hillary won't say about torture,' while Sen. Barack Obama, who discusses his stance on Iran in an interview with the New York Times, won't sign a letter warning Bush that he has no authority from Congress for an attack on Iran.

Unmasking "Curve Ball," "60 Minutes" determines that the man whose fabricated story of Iraqi biological weapons drove the argument for invasion "was not only a liar, but also a thief and a poor student instead of the chemical engineering whiz he claimed to be."

Amid further signs that the U.S. is 'never planning to leave' Iraq or Afghanistan, Japan terminates its six-year mission in support of the war in Afghanistan, which had "recently drawn increasing criticism domestically."

'U.S. diplomats riled over forced duty in Iraq' get zero sympathy from CNN's Jack Cafferty or his audience, with the general sentiment being "go to Iraq or quit," but Juan Cole begs to differ, arguing that the participation in the "shadow colonial administration" Bush is trying to create there is "not their job."

With the Iraq war slipping off the pages of the British press, a victim, it's suggested, of "the public's lack of appetite for the dismal truth," the latest figures from Iraq show a surge in Iraqi deaths for October, while in Baquba, residents say that the increased American presence has brought its own problems and suspicions.

As the Istanbul summit gets underway, and Turkish opinion of the U.S. plunges, Bush's former envoy to deal with the PKK tells McClatchy that the U.S. is "driving, strategically, the Turks and the Iranians together" because of shared concerns about Kurdish separatist groups.

With the terrorist watch list gathering names at 'a clip of 20,000 a month,' Harper's Scott Horton considers "the failure of preventative law enforcement," and it's argued that the war on terror has devolved into a war on the unexpected.

The Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which passed the House 404-6 with little fanfare, directs DHS to designate a "center of excellence" to study domestic terrorism, but critics charge that "The bill replicates what already exists without peer review and safeguards."

As Eugene Robinson offers a second opinion on 'Rudy's bogus diagnosis,' and the dissembling spreads to another front, Paul Krugman asks, "Why isn't Mr. Giuliani's behavior here considered not just a case of bad policy analysis but a character issue?"

Taking a page from the Onion, Sean Hannity rails against Halloween for "teaching kids to be liberals," while right wing bloggers join MoveOn in an attempt to pry presidential debate footage out of the hands of Fox News.

Mike Davis fingers the "hypertrophying of developer power" at the heart of the California wildfires, while in 'Rapture Rescue 911: Disaster Response for the Chosen,' Naomi Klein looks into how privatization is making emergency help an issue of class.

'Here we glow again' With nuclear power rising again, in Jim Hightower's words, "like some B-movie space alien," the Union of Concerned Scientists unveils an interactive map of U.S nuclear reactor safety issues, and a new Achilles heel for the industry emerges in the context of climate change.

An underground leak from a beryllium plant that made parts for nuclear reactors and weapons threatens to 'uproot an entire town' in Florida, buildings go up as the island goes down in Galveston, Texas, and 'Water, Guns and Militarism' are identified as the key ingredients in the 'strange political economy of death in the South.'

'Heck of a Job, Hughsie' Slate's Fred Kaplan explores the familiar "air of farce and mystery" surrounding the exit of Bush's failed "public diplomat," although he notes that part of the problem, as far as U.S. policy goes, was that she had "no good story to sell."

The Jon Ronson documentary 'Crazy Rulers of the World' pops up on line, a Nation essay wonders whether, following Tim Russert's lead, UFOs have become the new litmus test, and the Economist considers the tourist appeal of North Korea.

Nov. 1

Monday, November 5, 2007

Putting Pakistan under martial law is described as 'coup number two' for President Gen. Musharraf who is seen to be playing 'his last ace,' in what Tariq Ali describes as the country's "long journey to the end of the night," while the Pakistani press defies media restrictions.

With 'hundreds of lawyers, rights activists, and politicians detained,' Musharraf invokes Lincoln to justify his suspension of the Pakistani constitution, albeit Lincoln via Nixon, and with a whiff of the 'Bush-Cheney doctrine of lawfare,' while Pakistani television celebrates the army in song.

Despite a "breakdown in communications," the Bush administration signals that the billions of dollars in U.S aid to Pakistan will likely continue to flow, apparently looking to "finesse the situation yet again because of what it sees as the overall U.S. interest in the so-called war on terror." Plus: "Thank heavens for small favors."

As 'Turkey gives talking one last chance,' Kurdish rebels retreat to strongholds in Iran, and the approach of winter complicates attempts to launch a military action.

With Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki openly mocking calls for national reconciliation, an impending trial reinforces "long-standing Sunni fears that hospitals had been opened up as a hunting ground for Shiite militias," and an article in Slate takes a look at 'the dark side of Iraq's good news.'

Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland boils Iran policy down to sanctions or war, and the White House targets IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei again, but McClatchy sums up the views of "experts in and out of government" who see 'no evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons program.'

Amid some confusion about what exactly "hair trigger" means, a newly released document on U.S. "nuclear strike plans against rogue states" elicits the comment, "If the president decided to nuke Iran, here's the plan."

The Mukasey cave in is seen as no surprise to Bush or to those who paid attention to an earlier performance by Sen. Chuck Schumer, but Glenn Greenwald finds all of the 'sudden opposition to waterboarding,' a little hard to swallow, and John Dean wishes the Democrats would at least insist on a "quid pro quo."

As the top three GOP candidates talk a hard line on detainee interrogation, and Rudy Giuliani claims experience with "very aggressive techniques," ABC News reveals that "a former Justice Department official who determined that waterboarding was torture, by undergoing it, was forced out of office by Alberto Gonzales.

"Ghost Plane" author Stephen Grey argues that 'the agonizing truth about CIA renditions' is that they are "in some ways worse than even Hollywood has portrayed," with CIA officers keeping their "eyes wide shut" to what goes on in their outsourced interrogations.

Frank Rich worries that 'Noun + Verb + 9/11 + Iran = Democrats' Defeat,' particularly given that Republicans may well "once again square off against a Democratic opponent who was for a pre-emptive war before being against it."

Newsweek's coverage of the 'Hillary Paper Chase' touched off by Tim Russert's needling about undisclosed health care task force documents is said to ignore the large number of disclosures past, present and ongoing.

Although a new poll finds 75% of Americans "eager for a change in direction from the agenda and priorities of President Bush," Paul Krugman looks at how big money is steering Democrats away from policies favored by an increasingly liberal America.

The New York Times goes in depth on 'the red flags Rudy didn't see' around Bernie Kerik, who in his autobiography remarked about Mr. Giuliani, "I wonder if he noticed how much becoming part of his team resembled becoming part of a mafia family ... I was being made."

Bill Moyers highlights what's at stake for minorities and women in the latest hurried attempts to rewrite the rules to facilitate media conglomeration in time for Christmas, as the Postal Service describes the killing of small periodicals as "win-win."

A general who vowed to rule Guatemala with a "firm hand" is the surprise loser of an an election runoff haunted by echoes of massacres past and violence present, along with threats against investigative journalists.

Nov. 2-4

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

As the 'Freedom Agenda Fizzles,' the deposed chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court issues a literal "ringing call to compatriots" to continue protesting against emergency rule, and a 'Besieged Musharraf plays for time.'

Before leaving Islamabad, Barnett Rubin reported that "The most common feeling toward the U.S. I have encountered is a kind of anger mixed with disappointment, as Pakistanis "see a weak reaction by the U.S. to the virtual martial law decreed by General Musharraf."

With Musharaff's declaration seen as both his 'latest misstep' and one that 'could fuel insurgency," a report that 'Pakistan's lobbyists target Congress,' quotes one as saying, "The focus is on the Hill right now."

The editor of an Urdu-language daily 'Stands Up to Government,' CJR reports on 'Musharraf's Monster,' also known as the private broadcast media, and Pakistanis wage 'a fight to stay connected on the Web.'

As Wired discovers a 'Tourist's Guide to Baghdad's Green Zone,' co-authored by an employee of the self-described "nonpartisan" International Republican Institute, the 'Number of Displaced Iraqis Has Soared,' according to the Iraqi Red Crescent, with millions reportedly 'Trapped in their own country.'

The U.S. military announces that '2007 is deadliest year for U.S. in Iraq,' and both a New York Times article and a "NewsHour" interview, ignore ethic cleansing as a possible cause for the drop in civilian casualties.

NPR defends its 'torture-based reporting,' a "NewsHour" viewer complains that interviewing Norman Podhoretz, "reinforces the notion that the U.S. is being taken over by maniacs," and it's predicted that Secretary of State Rice's enduring epitaph will be: "She pursued democracy at the expense of stability, and achieved neither."

With MSNBC facing a digital divide in Oregon, a report that the cable channel 'Nods to ratings and leans left,' notes Keith Olbermann's "special comments," like the one he delivered Monday on waterboarding, in which he charged that "The presidency is now a criminal conspiracy." Watch it here.

As "Frontline" premieres "Extraordinary Rendition," the Senate Judiciary Committee approves Michael Mukasey as attorney general, with Sens. Schumer and Feinstein joining nine Republicans in voting to send the nomination to the full Senate.

With Rep. Ron Paul "money bombed" into the record books, a CNN poll finds that 18 percent of registered voters would support an anti-abortion third-party candidate if Clinton and Giuliani are nominated, and the results of a Gallup poll are said to indicate that 'Hoovernomics Rides Again."

Before a 'High-Flying Ex-Con' stepped down as an adviser to Fred Thompson's presidential campaign, the candidate was reminded to 'Always Know Your Dealer.'

As it's reported that "At eight campaign events over two days, Mr. Edwards heaped a steady barrage of criticism on Mrs. Clinton," an ad that was called '2008's Best YouTube Attack Yet,' is followed by another described as being "so aggressive towards Sen. Hillary Clinton, upon first viewing I thought it was put together by the Republican National Committee."

Even before he announced plans to put forth a resolution to impeach Vice President Cheney, Democratic primary voters were told to 'Stop lying to yourself. You love Dennis Kucinich.'

As a 'Senate panel probes 6 top televangelists,' the Cleveland Scene reports on the career of a man it credits with having "invented televangelism," in 1954, and who shortly thereafter began, in his words, "To reap the harvests that had been planted by sowing the seeds of faith on TV." Plus: 'Gospel MBA's on the loose.'

Howard Kurtz is accused of taking "synergy to a smarmy new level" by constantly plugging his new book, and a call goes out to 'Abolish the Web's evil page-view count.'

November 5

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

As former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is said to be "warming to her role as the most prominent voice of opposition," the Taliban have reportedly "launched a coup of their own in Afghanistan and the Pashtun areas of Pakistan."

The Los Angeles Times reports on a 'revered activist' and head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who was placed under house arrest two weeks after being interviewed on the question of 'Democracy or martial law in Pakistan?'

The Washington Post's Philip Kennicott reflects on the images from Pakistan's 'Button-Down Protest,' which is met with a call for America's legal profession to show some solidarity with its Pakistani counterparts.

"Ghost Plane" author and "Extraordinary Rendition" reporter Stephen Grey, writes of the 'Smoking Gun Cable,' which "informed Washington that one of the key pieces of evidence for the Iraq war -- the al Qaeda/Iraq link -- was not only false but extracted by effectively burying a prisoner alive."

'Impeach Impediment' Air America's Rachel Maddow wonders why the Democratic leadership thinks "it's a bad idea to spend hours of prime time on the floor of Congress reminding the country that mister 11 percent approval rating is a bad guy of whom they disapprove and who they would like to see held accountable."

With Rep. Ron Paul now at more than $7.5 million and counting, Glenn Greenwald writes that "While Barack Obama toys with the rhetoric of challenging conventional wisdom, Paul's campaign -- for better or worse -- actually does so, and does so in an extremely serious, thoughtful and coherent way."

Candidates Clinton and Obama are criticized for their lack of press availabilities, and Eric Boehlert contends that last week's debate "was clearly a watershed moment for the media. But for voters? Not so much." And as Democratic rivals challenge Bill Clinton's talk of his wife being "swift boated," Sen. John Kerry 'says he'll be ready next time.'

Reviewing "The Conscience of a Liberal," by Paul Krugman, Michael Tomasky begins by recalling that "there was a time in the United States, as recently as fifteen or so years ago, when we were not engaged in constant political warfare." Krugman discusses the book with Mario Cuomo on

A 'Schadenfreude Alert" is issued over an "irony-laced" article about conservative authors suing the parent company of Regnery Publishing, over a scheme that has managed to land many of them on best-seller lists.

Matt Labash fesses up to "something I don't believe another Washington reporter has ever admitted publicly: I like Roger Stone." Labash's profile of the legendary Republican dirty trickster quotes one "left-leaning political hand" as saying: "Whatever people think of Stone and his scandals, he is an absolute artist."

The New York Times identifies a 'Foul Threat' in Gaza, Israeli police take heat for impersonating a TV news team to arrest a Palestinian suspect, and a Bloomberg report cites an Egyptian university's issuance of 1,000 fatwas a day as an example of what one scholar calls "a chaos of fatwas at a time when the [Islamic] nation is in utmost need of coherence and unity."

As America's Iraqi Kurds raise the prospect of Turkey being more concerned with oil-rich Kirkuk than with the PKK, the rise in oil prices is accompanied by another sobering trend.

Bolivia's increasingly popular president, who is portrayed as having been beaten unconscious by anti-narcotics police in a new feature film titled, "Evo Pueblo," tells IPS that for his country to develop its resources, "we need partners, not masters," a sentiment that is echoed in a Nation article on 'Undebated Challenges.'

As it's argued that "The Iraq war represents the end of the media as a major actor in war," a review of "Refresh, Refresh," says its stories are "among the first to measure the human repercussions in the ongoing narrative of the Iraq war," especially the "standout" title story. Author Benjamin Percy tells Bookslut that "I'm influenced -- primarily -- by a troubled mind."

In a recent "losers of the week" segment, Fox News' John Gibson lumped in "Aging movie great Robert Redford" with "all the other Hollywood anti-war types whose anti-war movies are bombing at the box office," even though Redford's "Lions for Lambs" doesn't open until this Friday.

November 6

Thursday, November 8, 2007

As the U.S. national debt hits $9 trillion and the GAO warns that "our nation is on an imprudent and unsustainable long-term fiscal path," Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz enumerates 'The Economic Consequences of Mr. Bush.'

A CNN poll registers opposition to the Iraq war at an "all-time high," and a Pew survey finds that 47 percent of respondents say "Democratic leaders in Congress are not going far enough in challenging President Bush's Iraq policies," a percentage that "has been increasing fairly steadily since March, when 40% expressed this view."

While veterans represent 11 percent of the civilian adult population in the U.S., they comprise 26 percent of the homeless population, according to a report issued by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, and it's predicted that there will be "a new surge in homeless veterans in the years ahead."

As Slate charts how the U.S. Army "is stretching to make manpower ends meet," it's said that a Washington Post article "underscores Blackwater's reputation for opening fire first and asking questions later," and Time reports on a Florida court case that "threatens to undermine the arrangement under which some 150,000 private contractors provide security and backup for the U.S. in war zones."

In an excerpt from "The Fall of the House of Bush," Craig Unger writes that both Bush 41 and Brent Scowcroft "were denied access to the White House" following Scowcroft's August 2002 op-ed, 'Don't Attack Saddam.'

Recounting the 'Fraternite Party' that characterized the French president's visit to Washington, Dana Milbank notes that "Sarkozy was so eager to please his hosts that he neglected to mention a word about Iraq," and "Even the Francophobic Bush got into the spirit... he dubbed his secretary of state 'Madame Rice.'"

While one commentator finds 'Rice in Lebanon: Hard to Digest,' it's reported that there's yet another book about her on the way, this one written by Wimblehack "winner," Elisabeth Bumiller, and even the Weekly Standard piles on in celebrating the 'End of the Karen Hughes era.'

As 'Musharraf says he'll give up army post and hold elections,' it's reported that the U.S. gives the government of this "indispensable" ally "about $200 million annually and his military $100 million monthly in the form of direct cash transfers." And while 'Pakistan's private TV channels struggle,' Internet access is said to remain "more or less unrestricted."

There they grow again! A new report by Peace Now says that 88 West Bank settlements are being expanded with government approval, and also reveals "The Settlers' new trick: Instead of transporting from Israel - construction of caravans on spot." Plus: 'IDF facility tapped all calls from Israel abroad until 2004.'

"Countdown" interviewed AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein, before the Senate Judiciary Committee postponed a vote on the telecom immunity section of the FISA bill.

ThinkProgress reports that 'Cheney quietly maneuvers increased control over environmental policies," and "Democracy Now!" interviews Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage about his article on how the Bush administration used a controversial maneuver to put the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights under conservative control.

As Pat Robertson throws in with Rudy Giuliani, it's reported that an indictment against Bernard Kerik for tax evasion is expected to be announced on Friday, and a message is delivered to "CNN and other journalists, Rudy and his campaign think you're all a bunch of easily-played chumps."

Wired's editor discusses how, after getting fed up with "PR spam," he "not only blocked a huge batch of offenders, he also made their e-mail addresses public, inciting a mass tantrum within the world of flacks."

The New York Observer profiles the Paris Review under editor Philip Gourevitch, who is collaborating on a forthcoming book and film on Abu Ghraib with Errol Morris, and the Boston Globe interviews former Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, who "is now aiming to add a new chapter to his career-long act as ruling class scold."

With Las Vegas seeing more gays and fewer gamblers, The Believer interviews art critic, journalist and Las Vegas resident Dave Hickey, whose Harper's article from last November, "It's morning in Nevada: on the campaign trail in post-Bush America," is abstracted here.

November 7

Friday, November 9, 2007

As Pakistani President Musharraf's election pledge is hedged by arrests and by detention of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto, the situation in Pakistan is, IPS's Jim Lobe notes, only one of a series of crises spinning out of control across the "periphery" of Bush's "war on terror."

Amid growing concerns about the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, BBC interviews one of the authors of "Deception," a new book on Pakistani and U.S. complicity in nuclear proliferation, which contends that "Pakistan has traded nuclear technology with the knowledge of the U.S."

Although he hails legislative efforts to "phase out the use of private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan," Jeremy Scahill warns of "a loophole that could unwittingly pave the way for an expansion of the U.S. war machine in Iraq."

The Iraqi interior minister's announcement that he would authorize raids on Western security firms sounds to one analyst like "a recipe for something really ugly," while 'a year in hell for 1000 dollars a month' appears to be making some mercenaries thankful.

As the Iraqi parliament gets sidelined by the executive branch, upbeat U.S. military assessments of security in Baghdad are greeted with skepticism by European analysts, and a "new round of violence in Iraq's two oil capitals" is said to highlight "internal discord, not external threats."

The author of new U.N. report on 'academics in the gun sights' in conflict zones across the globe, notes that a "campaign of liquidation" has killed 280 academics in Iraq since 2003, with recent killings in Basra and Baghdad illustrating the continuing danger.

With his erstwhile protege and potential Achilles heel now indicted, Rudy Giuliani is finding it hard to dodge questions of judgment that touch on the very issues upon which he "has asked voters to judge his candidacy." Earlier: Scroll down to "A 9/11 Hero's Public Relations Blitz" in Iraq.

Now that 'Rudy's new best friend' is on board as a campaign advisor, Joe Conason urges "the press to examine a few of Pat Robertson's more incendiary remarks over the years, and ask Giuliani whether they reflect his own current views," as torture appears to replace abortion as the new GOP litmus test.

The Senate confirms Michael Mukasey as Attorney General in a 53-40 vote, with some notable no shows, leaving Glenn Greenwald wondering what was stopping Democrats from filibustering, given the gravity of the issue, and Republicans' willingness to do so on so many other occasions.

A former Navy interrogator tells a House panel that waterboarding is torture, but another witness is gagged, as two Democratic Senators move to outlaw waterboarding and other extreme interrogation techniques by making the U.S. Army manual the standard for all U.S. interrogators. Plus: Alan Dershowitz's curious precedent.

The last minute "discovery" of a witness for the defense that "the government has always known about" is seen as emblematic of the way the "decks are stacked" against detainees in the Bush administration's military commission system.

Robert Parry notes that 'Bush's favorite lie' was once again on the menu at his Mt. Vernon press conference with French President Nicolas Sarkozy who, it's suggested "may fast make a name for himself on the world stage. Just not the one he wanted."

Sifting though the thin evidence behind the media narrative accusing Sen. Hillary Clinton of playing the gender card, Susan Faludi instead suggests the indignation of Clinton's opponents is at its root resentment at her success in tapping into "American political rescue fantasies."

An analysis of Hillary Clinton's foreign policy agenda in Latin America finds no evidence that she recognizes that "international cooperation is not just about winning respect, it's also about respecting other nations," something that Helena Cobban suggests is also missing in the debate about Pakistan.

As countries across Latin America move to increase their 'shock resistance,' Naomi Klein notes that "opposition to privatization has become the defining issue of the continent, able to make governments and break them," with key battlegrounds defined by oil and water.

A Washington Post article tries to make the case that an anti-global warming platform might be a liability for Democrats, but a new poll suggests otherwise, as a worsening drought "raises the strange specter of a resource war between American states."

A review of 'The John Bolton Agenda' as outlined in the former U.N. ambassador's new book, finds him sneering at former colleagues and reveling in his own intractability, as he complains about 'a White House dangerously soft on Iran and North Korea.'

Nov. 8

Monday, November 12, 2007

Despite much "talk of improvement," a quick tour outside the U.S. media provides a rather more discouraging portrait of Iraq, amid revelations about the grisly methods of one of America's 'new allies,' and what many Iraqis see as "the uncertain consequence of a divide and rule policy."

Robert Dreyfuss offers a more optimistic take on the situation in Iraq and its possibilities, arguing that, with no clear enemies, there is "a critical window of opportunity opening for the United States to withdraw and for Iraq to hold itself together and rebuild."

"They were taking weapons away by the truckload," comments one witness to the "private arms bazaar" created by an Iraqi businessman put in charge of issuing weapons to police cadets, as activities at this armory and other warehouses point to how the American military lost track of some 190,000 small arms.

As 'Quietly, U.S. death toll hits a new high in Afghanistan this year,' and civilian deaths prove subject to competing interpretations, the Independent reports that while British forces are 'stretched to limit,' plans are already being made to extend British presence in Afghanistan beyond 2009. Plus: 'The rise of the neo-Taliban.'

Firedoglake balances a "round-up of some of the more egregious items of this Veterans' Day" with a clip of CCR on Ed Sullivan, it's noted that 'Veterans are home, but not at ease," and anti-war vets are excluded from a parade "to keep the event free from politics."

With only one of the two million U.S soldiers sent to France in World War I still remaining, alongside a handful of British survivors, the Nation's John Nichols remembers some of those who resisted "the war to end all wars."

In an article assessing the danger of Pakistan losing control of its nuclear arsenal -- estimated at from 55 to 115 weapons -- the New York Times' David Sanger quotes a senior U.S. official as saying "this problem will not be discussed in public." Plus: Some historical context.

With Pakistani president Musharraf suggesting that emergency rule might outlast elections, President Bush and Sec. of State Rice mount a defense of "an ally," and an article in the Economist details why the U.S. is unlikely to withdraw support any time soon.

A New York Times editorial excoriates the Democrats for their 'Abdicate and Capitulate' routine, a theme Frank Rich extends in 'The Coup at Home,' where he reviews how democracy has been "steadily been defined down" to the point that people have "become inured to democracy-lite."

A top U.S. intelligence official asserts that it's time to change the definition of privacy to exclude anonymity, which one observer notes "has been important since the Federalist Papers were written under pseudonyms."

Glenn Greenwald tracks how Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whom he dubs 'Bush's key ally in the Senate,' in her defense of the telecoms, parrots the "administration's standard pro-amnesty talking points, leading with its most deceitful ones."

Despite "absurdly short notice," the FCC's final official public hearing on media ownership issues drew a big crowd in Seattle, where alarm over media consolidation reportedly "crossed party lines," while plans to 'open up the cable market' draw a skeptical assessment of motives.

Although Sen. Barack Obama, delivered a rousing speech before a "fired up" crowd in Iowa on Saturday night, 'all but calling out Hillary Clinton,' Salon's Walter Shapiro observes that he seemed to get 'weak-kneed on Sunday morning.'

'Journalism as Sadism' Matthew Yglesias lays into Tim Russert for focusing on "tough questioning" at the expense of informing the audience and "irrespective of the importance of the issue," while Paul Krugman feels compelled to remind Obama that "Tim Russert doesn't vote in Iowa."

"It was all just an innocent mistake," suggests Krugman, poking fun at fellow Times columnist David Brooks' attempt to free Ronald Reagan from the racist roots of "the Southern Strategy," while Bag News Notes dissects an anti-Obama viral swiftboating campaign.

The death of Norman Mailer unleashes a torrent of appreciation for "a towering writer with a matching ego,' who "bled his life and personality into his writing," a revolutionary journalist and co-founder of the Village Voice, and "a chronicler of politics and protests," who 'brawled with Bush to the bitter end.'

Read some excerpts from Mailer's writings, along with the remembrances of writers, actors and artists who knew him, and watch the author discuss 'Iraq and the American Right' in a FORA interview conducted last June. Earlier: 'We went to war just to boost the white male ego.'

Nov. 9-11

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

As 'Turmoil in Pakistan Grabs the Media's Attention,' it's argued that the country's nukes have already fallen into "the wrong hands."

After a high-ranking intelligence official advises Americans to 'Expect Less Privacy,' in a speech [pdf] invoking "the smell of decaying human remains on a large scale," the White House proposes to "study" a federal judge's order to "preserve copies of all its e-mails."

USA Today reports that in September, coalition forces in Iraq found only 2,022 of the IEDs that have killed 510 coalition troops in 2007, and one war widow is informed that her citizenship request "died with her husband," while "the fears [President Bush] expressed 10 years ago have become reality."

Congressional Democrats unveil the 'Hidden Costs' of two wars, but anti-war voters seek to make the party pay a price for going 0-for-40 on Iraq.

Although "all the world appears to care about is that the king of Spain told Venezuela's president to shut up," Time finds that "... much of the international media missed what may have set Chavez off in the first place," and it takes one blogger "about 2 minutes" to uncover "deeply buried secrets" about Jose Maria Aznar, while Oliver North deplores the failure to Pervez Chavez.

Hillary's Gannon? After a college newspaper broke the story of a planted question in Iowa, a Clinton spokesman who confirmed the report also claimed that "It's not something we do," before accusing rival John Edwards of 'acting like Bush.' Plus: 'So Happy Together.'

As Senator Clinton is accused of stealing the Bush playbook, Alexander Cockburn ponders 'Hillary's Big Problem and How Bill Can Fix It.'

The 'kitchen gets hotter' for Rudy Giuliani, as his campaign 'Tries to Minimize Fallout From Kerik Indictment,' while 'Media mislabel GOP front-runner' and 'Abortion Foes Throw Support to Thompson,' who is "far from a consensus choice."

Bob Herbert debunks "the suggestion that the Gipper didn't know exactly what message he was telegraphing in Neshoba County in 1980," only days after the Ku Klan Klan had endorsed his re-election, and Robert Parry discusses how "false narratives get good people killed."

With "the gradual killing of one of India's most treasured resources," Smithsonian offers up "A Prayer for the Ganges," and Peter Matthiessen notes that Arctic Sea deposits "might suffice to fuel the world for a few years, after which this last clean wilderness will be fatally filthied and contaminated and lost forever to mankind."

This is "a sad book -- tragic, really," begins a review of "Gonzo," an oral biography of Hunter S. Thompson, but it also notes that "when the going was good, it was very good, and a lot of amazing Thompson tales are retold here by eyewitnesses."

Interviewed about his collection, "Smells Like Dead Elephants," Matt Taibbi tells Reason that he's sick of being compared to Thompson: "People throw that term around, gonzo journalism, but it's synonymous with Hunter Thompson. He is gonzo journalism. The guy I really grew up admiring was H.L. Mencken."

'Publish and Perish' The Washington Monthly examines the 'The mysterious death of Lyndon LaRouche's printer,' who picked up where "Lynfomercials" left off, and Brad DeLong reviews the products of a decision by U.S. publishers to "commission and publish many books sort of like 'Freakonomics,' for here is a previously unexploited market segment."

An Economist report on 'Dollywood Values,' or, 'What the Backwoods Barbie's theme park says about America,' notes that Saddam Hussein used an Arabic version of "I Will Always Love You" as a campaign song in 2002, but concedes that "it would be unfair to blame Ms. Parton for his victory, since there was no one else on the ballot."

The San Francisco Chronicle interviews Brian De Palma about "Redacted," and the New Yorker reviews the film, which opens on Friday. Its financier, Mark Cuban, told a bloggers' conference that "Bill O'Reilly is my new best friend ... I'm very grateful to him." Plus: 'Hollywood, year zero.'

In a six-part series, the New Orleans Times Picayune blogs Fats Domino's visit to New York, where the rock and roll legend "offered just a taste" at a "Goin' Home" gala, before performing live on the "Today" show.

November 12

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The White House denounces a Senate report on the true costs of the war as "an attempt to muddy the waters in Iraq at a time when there have been positive developments on the ground."

As it's reported that "no one is declaring victory," the Air Force announces plans to triple the number of airmen serving in Army and Marine units throughout Iraq, and the results of a CBS probe into suicide among vets are said to have "shocked everyone."

Blackwater security guards 'Killed 14 Iraqis Without Cause,' according to preliminary findings from an ongoing FBI investigation into a September shooting incident in Baghdad, and the State Department will rely on DynCorp to probe itself with regard to the killing of an unarmed taxi driver last Saturday.

As 'Distrust and fear grip Pakistanis,' Jonathan Schell explains why, on the day the U.S. invaded Iraq, "Pakistan was by far the more dangerous country."

While Gen. Pervez Musharraf 'Defends Rule By Decree,' an op-ed by Aunt Benazir's niece argues that "perhaps the most bizarre part of this circus has been the hijacking of the democratic cause by my aunt."

As the dean of Yale Law School discusses 'Repairing our human rights reputation,' Amnesty International urges NATO forces to stop handing over prisoners to be tortured in Afghanistan.

After both the FBI and the CIA are reported to have hired "an illegal immigrant from Lebanon," who "paid a U.S. citizen to marry her and then lied her way through national security background checks," and later gained unauthorized access to federal computers, counter-terror expert Richard Clarke expresses concern that she may have been a 'Hezbollah Mole.'

A lawsuit filed by Judith Regan 'Plays a Giuliani-Kerik Angle,' with Bernard Kerik's former lover and publisher alleging that "a News Corporation 'senior executive' counseled her to 'lie and withhold information' from investigators" during Kerik's vetting for the post of Homeland Security director.

Dick Morris finds 'Rudy in trouble' of another kind, But "America's Mayor" is not without his place of refuge.

Although it is reportedly "standard procedure" for campaigns to plant questions, and to suggest them to reporters, for Sen. Hillary Clinton, "the timing couldn't be worse."

In the first of a 3-part series, 'The Making of Hillary Clinton' is chronicled from the perspective of Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, and it's suggested that maybe widely-quoted Iowa waitress Anita Esterday should be offered her own talk show.

A $600 million move by the second-largest U.S. bank, to cover potential losses in money market funds, is said to be a sign that the subprime mortgage crisis "could potentially affect everyday savers" -- unless "a market correction is your friend."

The answer to the question, "Who put a million dollars for an 'Extended Cold Weather Clothing System' into the 2008 defense spending bill President Bush signed yesterday?" appears online.

After holding up a disclaimer at a tournament in Shanghai, a world champion bridge player encounters what she calls "the Bush brand of patriotism, where criticizing Bush means you are a traitor."

Wayne Besen ponders a scenario in which President Bush could go down in history as 'The Gay Rights President,' by signing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act -- even if it is 'too little too late' -- rather than carrying out his threat to veto the legislation.

High school football beats Gitmo war crimes cases by 23 in the New York Times, but both take a back seat to the 'Columnists War.'

November 13

Thursday, November 15, 2007

U.S. military commanders identify a new key threat in Iraq, their troops are 'accused of shooting Sunni allies,' and as one Republican senator vows to derail a war funding bill passed by the House, it's reported that another 'may seek to pull plug on Maliki.'

With blood 'Thicker Than Blackwater,' and State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard stepping further back but not out, it's asked: "why didn't Cookie recuse himself as soon as he learned of Buzzy's ties to Blackwater?"

As 'Opponents begin talks on anti-Musharraf alliance,' it's also reported that the U.S. 'eyes Pakistan's nuclear arsenal,' and is 'Looking past Musharraf in case he falls,' ahead of a visit to Pakistan by Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, characterized as 'the messenger without a message.'

An arrested former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. wonders, "Does George Bush see that now even sports heroes, leaders of mega-parties and humble servants of the republic are behind bars?" But what Tony Karon sees now is a bogus "showdown."

A 2003 manual detailing the day-to-day operations at Guantanamo, and bearing the signature of the notorious Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, is leaked to the Web, and appears to contradict Miller's assertion that the Red Cross had full access to the facility. Plus: 'NPR plays fair-and-balanced game on waterboarding.'

Reporting on a Senate hearing at which Sen. Dick Durbin declared that the 'U.S. has become haven for war criminals,' McClatchy cites homeland security figures that "More than 1,000 people from 85 countries who are accused of such crimes as rape, killings, torture and genocide are living in the United States."

As the U.S. Sentencing Commission is urged to reduce the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine for current inmates, the author of "Women Behind Bars" points out that "the number of girls and women doing time is utterly unprecedented in U.S. history." Plus: 'Did I Steal My Daughter?'

With 'Twelve Strikes and Counting,' it's said that 'Newspapers love the striking screenwriters,' but the strike isn't playing on TV.

Free Press and other consumer advocacy groups push back against a proposal by FCC head Kevin Martin to remove the limit on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership, which is also meeting resistance from publishers big and small.

With her Democratic opponents 'Hunting for the hammer to haul Hillary down,' it's reported that "some labor officials say Edwards is new to their cause," as Edwards vows "that if elected president he will reverse trade and tax policies that he said are designed to wipe out middle-class working families."

A 'journalist' goes 'On the fake campaign trail,' the Tyndall Report finds that issues accounted for only 18 of the 599 minutes devoted to presidential campaign coverage on the major networks' evening news broadcasts, and political journalists are told that "Polls & strategy are crack; you know that. But be a little disciplined."

As Google is Obamed, a Time passage is doctored by the Media Research Center, and Sen. John McCain is reportedly 'Trying to raise money over Hillary "bitch" flap.'

A campaign remembers the failed run of its "Triple-A" candidate, and a review of 'The Liberals' Moment' concludes that "Shadow-boxing an imaginary foe called 'McGovernism' is not only futile, but also ... a disservice to McGovern. He may not have been perfect, but he was a damn sight better than the other guy."

Queerty accuses Tom Brokaw of not getting out enough during the sixties, Denver's Westword reports on the group Recreate '68's plans for the Democratic National Convention, and "There's a Riot Going On," is described as "an early demonstration of capitalism's genius at absorbing its critics as lucrative commodities."

As Dick Cavett recalls Norman Mailer's appearance with Gore Vidal, Denis Johnson's novel about the Vietnam War is named the winner of the National Book Award for fiction, a genre which is said to be seeing 'Shades of gray.'

November 14

Friday, November 16, 2007

Looking toward the coming fiscal surge in Iraq, the Economist notes that "lack of progress towards national reconciliation" throws plans for infrastructure development and reconstruction in doubt, and then there is the continuing problem of corruption. Plus: John Pilger remembers 'The Forgotten Fallen.'

Jeremy Scahill illuminates the background connections of 'The Blackwater Brothers,' as a State Department spokesman hedges his words in the 'confidence game,' and 'sibling tensions make congressional waves.'

A dossier in Le Monde diplomatique surveys the accumulating and overlapping problems in 'The United States' New Backyard,' where all conflicts are subsumed under a single world view, but there are signs that, as far as U.S. public opinion is concerned, "the post-9/11 era ... is effectively over."

The New York Times reports that 'militants gain' in Pakistan, undermining one of President Gen. Musharraf's main justifications for claiming "emergency powers,"which his opponents contend are being used "against the mainstream of Pakistani civil and political society and not against terrorists."

A misguided deference to bipartisanship, "in an age when that's neither possible nor desirable," keeps Sen. Barack Obama talking about a supposed Social Security "crisis," according to Paul Krugman, who goes on to explain why "the whole Beltway obsession with the fiscal burden of an aging population is misguided."

In the Vegas debate, 'Hillary goes on counter-offensive,' and 'plays the gender card' to some effect, while Wolf Blitzer hypes the importance of black and white answers to a drivers license question, and Matthew Yglesias reflects on the striking difference between questions generated by the audience and those generated by journalists.

With the "clean coal" industry touting its sponsorship of the Democratic debate, it's noted that "efforts to curb greenhouse emissions have yet to dent enthusiasm for coal," while a new report explores how climate change could increase the risk of war or political instability.

The "world's best place for power plant voyeurism" goes online, featuring an interactive map pinpointing the highest CO2 emitting power plants in the world, and a U.S. power company with close financial ties to Bush comes out near the top of the pack.

In a speech to the Federalist Society, President Bush talks about how the Constitution serves to prevent tyranny, and decries "activist judges" who interpret the Constitution to "mean whatever those activists want it to mean."

After the full House and Senate Judiciary Committee pass versions of the new government spying bill without telecom immunity, what happens next is up to Harry Reid, while Michelle Richardson of the ACLU puts the issues at stake in context.

As the New York Times #1 bestselling author lines up with the 'pro-torture right,' CJR finds evidence for a "creeping usage" of waterboarding as a metaphor in the media, and on the campaign trail, John McCain's opposition to torture elicits sympathy, if not agreement.

As Bush bestows an honor on a 'historian who downplayed Abu Ghraib,' John Dean suggests that the federal government should withdraw support from the Bush Presidential Library, "in light of the fact that President Bush has refused to comply with the 1978 Presidential Records Act."

Karl Rove is hired to add balance to Newsweek's coverage of the upcoming election, and although the guy he's balancing out is okay with it, one critic describes the whole scheme as 'Newsweek morphs into Crossfire,' and another wonders why the magazine doesn't "hire OJ Simpson as a sports contributor."

The Daily Howler finds that for Chis Matthews, it's 'All Women Left Behind,' as a compilation of "Fox News Porn" aims to hit the network in the "fair and balance sheet."

Judith Regan's lawsuit raises questions about 'Giuliani's ties to Fox News,' as the candidate strays from the ever-present and inspirational theme of 9/11 in his first TV spot, which New York Magazine sums up as "Gomorrah to Mayberry in eight easy years." Plus: On hold with 9/11.

'Criminal or Liar?' asks an In These Times article on Giuliani's claimed familiarity with "intensive interrogation techniques," and a "Bloggingheads" debate twists around the issue of authoritarianism in considering 'Is Rudy Creepy?'

'Democracy goes wild in Ukraine,' with "comic statements and protests, bizzare incidents and absurd accusations," according to an AP report, as new evidence of secret CIA prisons and rendition flights there leads to the reopening of an EU probe.

Nov. 15

Monday, November 19, 2007

As the U.S. military announces a drop in violence, Iraq experiences its deadliest day in weeks, including an incident in which a U.S. army convoy is accused of "firing without provocation on motorists" trying to get out of the way.

Two years after his call to redeploy U.S. forces from Iraq, Rep. John Murtha and the Democrats tally up some of the costs, and Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell notes that a "Cronkite moment" has yet to arrive, as 'Canada shuts doors to U.S. war resisters.'

As Iraqi soccer players 'vanish, seek asylum' during an Olympic qualifying match in Australia, Iraqis who helped the Americans find little success trying to leverage their ties into U.S. entry, and those who helped the British have no more luck fighting the 'visa red tape blocking road to freedom.'

Amid concerns about an 'accidental war' with Iran, 'Israel asks IAEA chief to step down,' and an analysis of the 'politics of reporting on IAEA reports' looks at the spin put on the reports by interested parties who are confident that the audience they are speaking to will not read the reports themselves.

Mother Jones' Laura Rozen reveals that Freedom's Watch is using focus groups to test market "language that would sell a war with Iran," following on the heels of an apparently unpersuasive ad campaign targeting "vulnerable Democrats" over Iraq.

As Pakistan's Gen. President 'Musharraf widens his sphere of punishment,' and cracks down on the press, it's reported that the U.S. envoy 'brought nothing new,' and Musharraf claims that Washington is "privately '200 per cent' more supportive of him than they are in public."

With Tom Friedman reveling in the madness of an 'Obama-Cheney' ticket, Maureen Dowd obsessing about "Mistress Hillary," and an editorial talking about "feasible military options in Pakistan," Glenn Greenwald concludes that the day's New York Times Op-ed page "would be a superb museum exhibit for what has happened to our country."

Introduced as someone who had shown "the wisdom and humility to surround himself with talented, dedicated and energetic people," Rudy Giuliani speaks to the Federalist Society of America's mission to "save civilization from Islamic terrorism." Nonetheless, '9/11 families hope to deflate Giuliani's heroic image.'

'What "That Regan Woman" Knows' Frank Rick speculates about what light "the filing of a lawsuit by a vengeful eyewitness who was fired from her job" might shed on the heretofore under-reported background stories of the Giuliani campaign, including the candidate's "special relationship" to Fox News.

As the debate over 'Reagan and Racism' continues on the New York Times editorial page for another couple of rounds, Paul Krugman re-frames the issue around the central role of white backlash in the rise of the modern conservative movement and the question of whether anti-immigrant rhetoric can take its place.

After getting a green light from the Colorado Supreme Court, the eggs rights movement scrambles to put an initiative on the state ballot that, without ever explicitly mentioning abortion, raises "the prospect of a heated local debate over abortion at the same time that Democrats are gathering here for their national convention."

In the debut of their bookend campaign columns, Karl Rove casts about for an antidote to "the low approval rates of the Republican president," while Markos Moulitsas aims to strengthen the linkage between the president and his party, but criticism from left and right just leaves the editor of Newsweek satisfied.

As it's revealed that a member of the audience at last week's Democratic debate was pushed to exchange a question of substance for "diamond or pearls," Media Matters looks at some of the key questions the media is failing to ask about even once.

In a heated debate with Raw Story's Larisa Alexandrovna over his views on torture, Alan Dershowitz stakes out a position that emphasizes how well torture sometimes works and insists that it should sometimes be used, even though he claims to be "personally opposed" to the practice.

The Texas Observer tackles the state's prison system, which circumscribes the lives of more than 700,000 of its citizens, and is constructed, according the magazine's lead editorial, as if "state leaders and prison officials consciously set out to create the least effective, most destructive, fiscally unsound prison system possible."

In an interview with the Montreal Mirror, Juan Cole contends that it is not primarily the ideological pressures from within academia that are politicizing academia, but "outside pressure groups, non-specialists who intervene because they don't like the conclusions."

As Francisco Franco gets a 'final salute,' a controversial new video game "designed to enable players to take on the role of Franco's victorious forces or the defeated republicans" is set for release on the anniversary of his death.

Nov. 16-18

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Washington Post report on its poll that has Sen. Obama leading in Iowa for the first time since late September, notes that about half of Sen. Clinton's supporters said they've never attended a caucus, compared to 43 percent of Obama's backers and 24 percent of Edwards's, adding, "Previous attendance is one of the strongest indicators of who will vote."

As 'gotcha and mini-scandals' dominate the weeks' news, the New York Times' Public Editor calls on his paper to 'Give more coverage to John Edwards,' whose campaign hits a public financing snag, and McClatchy delves into 'The semi-secret world of campaign bundlers.'

With 'Republicans betting on the Iraq success narrative,' prosecutors are reportedly "attempting to build the first criminal case against private security companies," and the 'U.S. will finally bring charges against AP photographer in Iraq.' Plus: Ken Pollack, 'The War Expert.'

Sen. John McCain is scheduled to spend Thanksgiving in Iraq after besting Rudy Giuliani for the endorsement of the 9/11 commission's Republican co-chair, and Eric Boehlert asks: 'Why does Fox News hate our troops?'

Bill Berkowitz reports on Giuliani naming 'war/disaster profiteer' Joe Allbaugh as his senior adviser for "general strategy and homeland security," and Frances Townsend's resignation is accompanied by a "heart-rending tribute" in which she writes, "Mr. President, you are such a man."

Following Monday's New York Times' article on how the 'U.S. hopes to use Pakistani tribes against Al Qaeda,' it's argued that this is 'A Risky Strategy,' and that "The last thing we need is a better funded, trained, and equipped more professionalized pro-Taliban military force in Pakistan." Plus: 'At White House behest, NYT sat on scoop.'

With 'Expectations low' for next week's U.S.-Mideast peace talks, Jimmy Carter, asked if he thought that he had moved the debate forward with his book and book tour documented in 'Man From Plains,' tells the Nation, "Oh, no. It would be amazing for me to hear any candidate for President even mention it -- even begin to address these issues in a serious way."

As 'Minnesota's embattled U.S. attorney steps down' on the heels of "the latest staff uprising," which was said to be prompted by comments she made last week to conservative blogger Scott Johnson, 'Univ. of Florida Students Welcome Gonzales,' who is reportedly being paid $30,000 to $40,000 a speech.

Following 'Barnum & Bailey & CNN,' Marty Kaplan looks at "the postmodern funhouse that imprisons prestige media," and Danny Schechter asks: 'Can we resist "Electotainment?"' Go to the midpoint of this segment to hear Kaplan on the "Infotainment Freakshow."

With webcasts from the 'Orwell Comes to America' conference now available, George Lakoff is interviewed about his chapter in the companion book, from which the Los Angeles Times recently ran commentaries on 'Why Orwell Matters.' Another chapter, Michael Massing's 'We are the Thought Police,' is also online.

The Chicago Sun Times' business editor 'may feel some heat' after sending a letter to reporters at other papers urging them to "keep an open mind" on global warming. The letter was part of a package from the Heartland Institute, which also reportedly bankrolled an 'Anti-Gore' campaign by the president of the Czech Republic.

As MTV Arabia debuts, a tour of the London bureau of Al-Jazeera English notes that "In its first 12 months, the network has far exceeded its expectations, reaching 100 million homes, though it is shunned by most cable networks in the U.S., where it relies heavily on its website stream," a gateway to which is a comprehensive YouTube site.

"The eventual decline of American hyperpower is inevitable," concludes a review of "Day of Empire" by Amy Chua, "The question is whether we can avoid the descent into vicious xenophobia and defensive intolerance that has accompanied the fall of hyperpowers in the past."

Before the presidents of Venezuela and Iran cited the fall of the dollar as a sign that the "U.S. empire is coming down," Jay-Z was seen brandishing a briefcase of Euro notes in his latest video, but still using dollars to convey the value of the wine he consumes.

As President Bush issues more pardons, the Cleveland Scene goes "hunting in the Wii Age, where fast, wall-mount-caliber kills are the goal. If you are willing to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000, you can bag the trophy of a lifetime."

November 19

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

The next update will be on Monday, November 26.

"You believe what the Pentagon says?" asked Rep. Jack Murtha, after colleague David Obey provided a phone number for President Bush to call if he wants the $50 billion in war funding released that passed the House, but is being held up by the Senate.

With one wounded soldier no longer being dunned by the U.S. military, the Center for Public Integrity updates its rankings of the Top 100 private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, with "Unidentified Foreign Entities" topping the list at $20 billion.

As 'Bin Laden talks of victory, not defeat' in Iraq, 'Extremists fuel anti-women violence in Basra,' and militants reportedly head North, amid concerns that the country is becoming a "warlord state."

"While U.S. generals in Iraq have stressed the gentler aspects of their latest 'surge' successes," writes Robert Parry, Iraq is a 'Laboratory of Repression.'

As 'Iraqi Kurds vs. Baghdad heats up over oil," the Telegraph reports on the U.S.'s construction of a "permanent security base on Iraq's oil pumping platforms in the Gulf," and a call goes out to 'Give thanks for oil - and OPEC.'

Saudi Arabia 'defends verdict' in the gang-rape case that stepped on a 'PR blitz' at the OPEC summit, and a review of a 1955 book on Saudi Arabia that the Arabian American Oil Company commissioned Wallace Stegner to write, says that "If any PR work was worth a writer's time, it surely was this."

The authors of "Less Safe, Less Free" offer up a scrupulously-sourced report card on the "war on terror," and a book on 'Political Thought since September 11,' looks at "how the United States developed a rhetoric to legitimate its 'war on terror,' particularly its invasion of Iraq."

As President Bush says that his Pakistani counterpart "truly is somebody who believes in democracy," Pakistan's ousted chief justice remains under arrest, but cricketer turned politician, Imran Khan, has reportedly been released.

About the tease from Scott McClellan's as yet unfinished book, John Dean suggests in an interview on "Countdown," that it was designed to get bookstores interested, and recommends that if necessary, the Senate Judiciary Committee should subpoena the manuscript.

As 'Democrats jump on CIA leak case,' Sen. Chris Dodd calls on the Justice Department to "launch an immediate investigation to determine the facts of this case, the extent of any cover up and determine what the President knew and when he knew it." Update: 'Publisher deflates tantalizing snippet on CIA leak.'

Tom DeLay reportedly said that he'd "like to bitch-slap" Paul Krugman, at a book party for John Bolton that was described as "a virtual 'who's who' of the conservative movement."

The fur flies in an NPR debate over the latest advancement in stem-cell research, and Margaret Atwood checks in on Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," 75 years after its publication.

With counter-programming being readied for "Black Friday," a survey is made of "brands and logos that don't bother with what seems like a crucial component: an actual product, service or company." Plus: "It's nothing personal, Larry. It's just business."

Director Todd Haynes talks about "I'm Not There," which by one account, "hurls a Molotov cocktail through the facade of the Hollywood biopic factory."

The owner of an East Hollywood apartment complex where the subject of "Born Into This" lived when he wrote "Post Office" and "Factotum," reportedly "intends to challenge the landmarking on two counts," that the resident in question "was a Nazi sympathizer, and that he was a person of low moral character."

Just selected as one of GQ's "Men of the year," Rep. Ron Paul gets yet another adult entertainment industry endorsement.

"November nights were made for this music," begins the New Statesman's rave review of "Untrue," follow-up to the self-titled debut by Burial, who recently told the Guardian that "Only about five people outside of my family know I make tunes."

November 20

Monday, November 26, 2007

"We reject the return of Baathists to any executive position, not even a hospital manager," remarks one Shiite lawmaker upon the introduction of a de-Baathification reform bill, as another Shiite leader expresses skepticism about U.S. claims that Iran is fueling the violence there.

Dahr Jamail explains how "tactical perception management" in Iraq creates the impression that 'Iraq has only militants, no civilians,' Mark Weisbrot adds up the numbers behind 'holocaust denial American style,' and the brain injuries of 20,000 U.S vets appear to be missing from a Pentagon tally.

As the 'White House releases "principles" for permanent Iraqi presence,' "intense pressure to show results," is reportedly pushing the Iraqi government toward optimistic exaggerations about the return of refugees and the lull in violence, and the Los Angeles Times notes defense officials' concerns that "an incessant spotlight on one general risks politicizing the military."

Although it appears that 'war is peace, sanctions are diplomacy' as far as U.S policy toward Iran is concerned, Gary Sick discerns some tentative signs that the U.S. may be dialing down tensions.

As Australia votes for 'Howard's end,' and the "coalition of the willing" shrinks and shrinks again, Glenn Greenwald reviews the "pernicious" way in which the former prime minister had inserted himself into U.S. politics in support of the worst and most war-loving aspects of the Bush/Cheney foreign policy."

Although likely to redeploy from Iraq to Afghanistan, and leave the U.S isolated on climate policy, Australia's new prime minister is said to be a "vocal supporter of the U.S. alliance," and an "antipodean close relative of Tony Blair," albeit one expected to "roll back neoliberal economic reforms."

With a resurgent Taliban "closing in on Kabul" according to one recent report, the White House's own assessment of the war in Afghanistan concludes that "wide-ranging strategic goals ... have not been met," and a British ex-army chief warns that British troops there are 'facing failure,' due to underfunding.

'Darkness falls on the Middle East' With a presidential vacuum stirring fear in the streets of Beirut, Robert Fisk points to signs that "From the borders of Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean, we -- we Westerners that is -- are creating ... a hell disaster." Plus: The legacy of cluster bombs.

As preparations are made for a Middle East peace conference laden with high risks, low expectations, ulterior motives, and much fanfare, various American papers turn the spotlight on "Condi Rice's legacy," and the Economist pins hopes on an unexpected savior.

A 'French prosecutor rejects war crimes lawsuit against Rumsfeld,' while Stephen Grey reports in the London Times that the discovery of "sensitive military flight plans" reignites the controversy over European participation in extraordinary rendition.

The 'U.N. labels taser use a form of torture,' and the number of taser-related deaths in Canada grows, but the company that manufactures the device markets it as a holiday stocking stuffer.

Amid reports that a 'new wave of mortgage failure could create a nightmare economic scenario,' Paul Krugman notes a "weird discrepancy in tone" in reports on the liquidity crisis: "Europeans are screaming; here, it's barely being covered."

Although bloggers and commentators on the right are trying to tag the Democrats as "the party of the rich," the New York Times notes that the GOP is "recruiting wealthy candidates who can spend large sums of their own money" to make up for fundraising shortfalls, and Sen. Rick Santorum sings the charity blues.

Bob Woodward stumbles into trouble with voter caging, as a petition to split California's electoral vote is said to be "turning into an early showdown between the two front-runners."

Sen. Trent Lott is set to announce that he will resign by the end of the year, five years before his term in office was scheduled to end, and just before a new more restrictive lobbying law goes into effect.

Summing up former press secretary Scott McClellan's exercises in "strategic non-communication," Jay Rosen contends that "The goal was to make the American presidency more opaque," while Robert Parry complains about the press' lack of interest in a finger pointed at McClellan's former boss.

With his emphasis on the need for further research, Sen. Barack Obama is seen as "a lot like Hillary" on the subject of medical marijuana, but unlike Bill Clinton, he emphasizes that "The point was to inhale. That was the point."

Nov. 22-25

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

As President Bush opens the Annapolis conference, which is said to be "failure-proof" and "success-proof," an 'uninvited guest' reportedly 'fights back against sudden chill of isolation in Arab world.'

With Annapolis seen as a 'Conflict by Other Means,' and, an opportunity to boost and be boosted, the State Department writes Hamas out of its "Middle East Peace Chronology." Plus: 'Assad sits at Rice's table - will the right flip out?'

As an 'Arrest on the Border' snares a political geographer with dual Israeli and Canadian citizenship, visits to a disco and a rap show drive home the "growing psychological gap between the West Bank and Gaza Strip."

Jonathan Schell finds "plenty of cause for gloom, but also reasons not to abandon hope," in "Arsenals of Folly" by Richard Rhodes, the thesis of which, as another reviewer points out, is that "there has never been a realistic military justification for accumulating large, expensive stockpiles of nuclear arms."

As it's reported that the Iraqi parliament must approve any long-term U.S. presence in its country, William Arkin asks: 'Permanent Bases in Iraq? How About Permanent Civil War?'

As 'ABC's "Nightline" walks away from Iraq,' a Mississippi paper 'Uncovers another apparent soldier suicide in Iraq,' and AlterNet follows up on a CBS News' investigation that found a 'Suicide epidemic among veterans,' which is cited as one example of how 'Conservatives can't count.'

CBS, which is reportedly blocking efforts by an attorney for Dan Rather to interview the investigator it hired to get to the bottom of the National Guard documents' story, is branded a 'Respect-Free Zone for Journalists.'

With 'Another weekend, another round of political horse-race coverage,' Marty Kaplan previews CNN's "entertainment marketing scam known officially as The CNN/YouTube Republican Debate," and CNN's previous effort is described as "less a debate than a two-hour advertisement." Plus: The biggest factor favoring Democrats in '08?

The Times of London defends its Drudge-hyped report on 'innuendo for Hillary Clinton,' a simple Google search answers a question that reporters didn't ask about charges leveled against Mitt Romney by Rudy Giuliani, and it's said that 'The Carville-Matalin Joke Is on Us.'

As it's revealed that "A Homeland Security public affairs official acted like a reporter asking questions during a briefing in San Antonio in January 2006," Stephen King, in an interview with Time, unloads on the media's promotion of the entertainment/industrial complex.

With a drop in home prices the 'largest on record,' and signs 'Pointing South on Wall St.,' Citigroup looks to the East for a cash infusion from Abu Dhabi, and David Brooks takes aim at "Dobbsianism."

As 'Nooses resurface in wake of Jena 6,' Bill Moyers asks James H. Cone, "How do you explain the current spate of the appearances of the noose again?"

The Nation reviews the work of Kara Walker, who is said to be "single-minded in seeing racism as a reality, but of many minds about exactly how that reality plays out in the present and the past." Plus: 'Is modern art a left-wing conspiracy?'

A "shopocalypse" post-mortem finds that the "only negative note was the fear among some that toys might be unsafe," and "Consumed" author Benjamin Barber asks: "On this blue Monday following Black Friday, can anyone remember Thursday?"

"Receiving $750 checks for chatting with some doctors during a lunch break was such easy money that it left me giddy," writes a psychiatrist and former "drug whore" who kicked the habit, and three books on antidepressants are said to offer up evidence that "pharmaceutical companies haven't so much answered a need as turbocharged it."

November 26

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

As 'Doubts linger about U.S. commitment after Annapolis,' the Los Angeles Times reports that "there were clear indications that the Israelis came away with a greater share of what they were seeking."

A Washington Post article quotes a former Israeli peace negotiator who "said Bush's speech seemed jarring next to the more uplifting visions of Olmert and Abbas. 'It plays so badly in the region when he tries to make this an anti-terrorism conference.'"

As 'The Algebra of Occupation' is calculated, U.S. troops kill Iraqi civilians in "back-to-back incidents," while 'U.S. air strikes kill civilian roadworkers in Afghanistan,' and a lawsuit alleges that Blackwater guards in Iraq were 'pumped on steroids.'

The director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism says of the group's survey of journalists in Iraq, "The grimness of the results surprised me," and the findings of a Pew poll show that 'Military progress doesn't make war more popular.'

Aaron Glantz, who produces The War Comes Home Web site, calls today's GI Bill, "not so much a ticket to college but a recruiting tool that can be used to persuade skeptical young people to join the military."

"Countdown" picks up on Karl Rove's attempt to rewrite history about the Iraq war vote, Bill Clinton does some rewriting of his own, and a report finding U.N. arms embargoes generally "inefective," also determined that the one "against Saddam Hussein's Iraq was effective and did reduce the capabilities of the Iraqi armed forces."

As Sen. Hillary Clinton drops Colin Powell's name, Democrats' embrace of retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who delivered the party's weekly radio address, is seen as 'Another slap in the face to antiwar voters.'

John Edwards criticizes the war on drugs, talks poverty in a 15-minute interview with Brian Williams, and is singled out by Jesse Jackson as the one Democratic presidential candidate who hasn't ignored the plight of African-Americans.

As Free Press releases a study suggesting that "the future of minority TV station ownership is in jeopardy," FCC head Kevin Martin is 'Forced to Scale Back Cable Plan,' withdrawing a proposal to encourage more minority ownership of radio and TV stations. Earlier: 'Blog is Beautiful: People of color challenge mainstream views online.'

Following a New York Times' feature characterizing Wal-Mart's overhaul of its health plan as 'Less Stinginess,' it was reported that the company is suing a brain-damaged worker. And as 'Google expands into alternative energy,' a "Marketplace" report asks: 'Is there room for Wal-Mart on the green bandwagon?'

As Scott McClellan's editor tells his side of the story, Bill O'Reilly badgers USO head about not sending more "big guns" like Dr. Laura Schlesinger to Afghanistan, and a co-star of makes an uncharacteristic push for "wholesome" entertainment.

The co-authors of 'The Nuclear Jihadist,' review and excerpt, write that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal "was a concept developed in one country and, for the most part, built in another. Its creation was an example of globalization before the term was even coined."

As the 'Capitalist world creeps into North Korea,' where public executions are reportedly on the rise, a British journalist visits 'Camp Kim,' and the South Korean actress, who along with her director husband was kidnapped by Kim, writes in a new biography that "she understands Kim Jong-Il's passion for cinema that fueled the abduction."

With Louisiana's film industry seeing a post-Katrina boom, the documentary "Desert Bayou" chronicles the lives of the 600 Katrina refugees who were evacuated to Salt Lake City.

Heckuva Job Brownie! The humble snapshot gets its due with a book and an exhibition, the final image of which is a "droll Polaroid of a woman celebrating her birthday at home."

November 27

Thursday, November 29, 2007

As a federal judge orders the Bush administration to "disclose telecom lobbying ties," CorpWatch reports on a proposed plan that would "create the legal mechanism for an unprecedented degree of domestic intelligence gathering," and Rep. Rush Holt explains 'What's really in the RESTORE Act.'

Slate examines the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act," suggesting that "Perhaps because it appears to content itself with merely studying a problem that doesn't yet exist," it has "slid under the media radar." More on the act and on efforts to stop it.

'The Annapolis Peace Train' As "the mono-metaphor presidency stays perfectly on track," the U.S. Secretary of State gets verbed, and a McClatchy article offers up "a reminder that facts on the ground in the Middle East usually trump expectations in Washington."

'Bush's Next Preemptive Strike' It's argued that "if Bush tries to lock the next president into permanent U.S. bases in Iraq, he may also be locking in a Democrat as the next president," and as soldiers in Iraq shrink from duty, the Marine Corps' top general is pushing for a "surge" in Afghanistan.

The Village Voice's Wayne Barrett is interviewed about his article on "Rudy's Ties to a Terror Sheikh," the head of Qatar's Interior Ministry, Abdallah bin Khalid al-Thani.

And about the story of 'Giuliani and The Hamptons,' readers were asked to 'Imagine the Tabloid Wood Tomorrow.'

Republican presidential candidates are said to have "stumbled over one another to out-Tancredo Tancredo" at the CNN/YouTube debate, during which, in what Juan Cole calls "a new low of despicable looniness ... John McCain equated those Americans who want to stop militarily occupying Iraq with Hitler-enablers."

As a survey finds that "Americans are particularly dissatisfied with press coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign," it's suggested that a 'Fake-news vacuum' could impact the race.

With the 'Death of the Religious Right' said to be 'Greatly Exaggerated (Again),' a review of "Faith in the Halls of Power," cites Chick-fil-A, "a religiously oriented chain of fast-food restaurants" whose corporate mission is to "glorify God." Plus: 'Evangelicalese 101'

Pakistan's emergency rule will be lifted on December 16, according to President Musharraf, and a purported 'CIA Venezuela Destabilization Memo Surfaces,' in advance of Sunday's referendum in Venezuela.

With an estimated 60 percent of Mogadishu's residents having fled, it's warned that the conflict there "could fracture the brittle stability of the entire Horn of Africa." The city's mayor has banned media interviews with Somali insurgents, and while many Western reporters have left, one explains why he's going in.

As 'Syrians find new friend in Beirut,' an article describing the Access Denied Map as "a handy way to visualize global censorship," suggests the need for a similar mechanism to track social networking sites being blocked in the U.S., including those banned by corporations and the military.

After YouTube suspended the account of an Egyptian anti-torture activist, Wael Abbas, Egyptian bloggers planned to create an online festival of torture videos to run alongside the Cairo Film Festival, and to award a "Golden Whip" to the winner.

As On the Media reports on an "ATM machine for literature," Nicholas Negroponte is interviewed about his One Laptop per Child program.

After reporting from the self-proclaimed "sock capital of the world," in Alabama, an NPR correspondent visited "the world's largest sock factory," in Honduras, which may pack up and move to another country if the U.S. rescinds a duty-free provision.

As a reporter describes a week spent at the Mall of America, homage is paid to the man who inspired the nearby Stall of America.

November 28

Friday, November 30, 2007

As American military officials warn that the Iraqi government's lack of a plan for absorbing returning refugees risks "setting off a new round of sectarian violence," dwindling aid from NGOs exacerbates hardships for the internally displaced, and efforts to boost basic services remain uneven. Plus: 'Iraqi Contractors Frozen Out of U.S.'

IPS's Ali al-Fadhily finds an "undercurrent of violence, detentions and fear," in Iraq's Anbar province, where the U.S. military's "mass recruitment" of fighters it terms "Concerned Local Citizens" to try to maintain the peace, has sparked concerns that these groups might "turn against the government one day."

A new report by the Congressional Research Service raises concerns about the "technically unlimited application" of Bush's executive order authorizing seizure of assets of anyone deemed a threat to "the peace or stability of Iraq," while Michael Schwartz explains the "Catch-22 of Bush administration policy in Iraq."

About the 'godawful GOP debate,' Walter Shapiro writes "what sent me into a free fall of depression was CNN's instinct for the fatuous in choosing the debate questions," as talk turns to torture, and a focus group dials into the reaction of the Republican base.

Although apparently willing to spite Reagan and 'eat their own,' the Washington Post notes that 'for GOP presidential candidates, the less said about Iraq the better.'

The New York Times' Michael Cooper takes stock of some of the mistaken statistics at the heart of Rudy Giuliani's campaign, as the 'Shag fund' story grows legs, its "sexier tale" overshadowing coverage of another scandal replete with unanswered questions.

With its out of state backers keeping to the shadows, the initiative to change California election law and boost GOP chances is a "no-lose situation" for the Republicans, John Dean argues, because it would "divert the time and attention of the Democratic presidential nominee" regardless of its chances for passage.

As Republican candidates consider who they're going to call the criminal if abortion becomes illegal, and NPR promotes an obscure author who has a line of "abstinence friendly clothing," reproductive health scientists lobby Congress to end abstinence-only funding. Plus: There's always "Plan C."

Fair fact checks Bill Clinton's claim to an anti-war record, Ari Berman reports on the frustration of anti-war Democrats in Iowa who are dissatisfied with the gap between rhetoric and action on ending the war, and the candidates 'hounding the Bush dogs' in the Democratic party are profiled.

A new report finds that Victoria's real secret is the the "appalling conditions" at the company's production facilities in Jordan, as 'Burger King and modern day abolitionists face off' over a disputed penny.

Good Magazine animates the "ecological and cultural monster" that is the 'Business of Death,' while In These Times raises questions about the "trend of farming out public libraries to a private, profit-oriented business."

With the venture capital market turning from green to guns, Naomi Klein sums up the investors' choice as aiming to "develop policies and technologies to protect us from those we have enraged through resource wars and displaced through climate change."

The science curriculum director of the Texas Education Agency gets forced out ostensibly for "an email from her office computer promoting a public talk by Barbara Forrest," a prominent critic of creationism, although it's charged that the real goal is preparing the way for a change in the state's science curriculum.

'Ctrl + Alt + Delete' A street artist and the National Geographic mark recent changes along the route to Bethlehem, which also provided a more political theme for this year's "Kitschmas."

As Russia prepares to vote in this Sunday's legislative election amid allegations of fraud and harassment, Spiegel notes in its 'Portrait of a Reluctant Democracy,' that the Chairman of the Central Election Commission has stated publicly that he planned to abide by what he called "Law Number One: Putin is always right."

The media environment in the run up to the election is described as "more advertising campaign than election coverage," as Putin warns 'vote for me or face humiliation,' and Garry Kasparov calls the 'Russian election a farce,' following a 5 day stint in jail during which he was denied access to his lawyer.

As Democracy Now! talks to James Petras about charges that the CIA is fomenting unrest to challenge Sunday's referendum in Venezuela, CEPR warns about the use of fake polls and other tactics to undermine the electoral process.

Nov. 29

There are 342 link-paragraphs in this archive.