December, 2007 link archive

Monday, December 3, 2007

With 'nonstop theft and bribery' a matter of survival for many Iraqis, fears of a catastrophic cholera epidemic growing, and Sunni insurgents reportedly regrouping, Nir Rosen contends in a interview that "There is no Iraqi government and none of the underlying causes for the violence have been addressed."

Reviewing its legacy of military bases in Iraq, Tom Engelhardt argues that "whatever the disasters of its misbegotten war, the Bush administration has, in a sense, itself "endured" in Iraq," while another commentator remarks that "our conduct of the war in Iraq has ... thrown a lasting shadow over our military and political competence."

As the '12 myths of Annapolis' are debunked, Haaretz reports that "extraordinary measures" are being used to interrogate detainees from Gaza "in one out of six cases," and details how Palestinian villages are being turned into 'Israel's dumping ground.'

Amid widespread allegations of 'intimidation and dirty tricks, Vladimir Putin wins what much of the Russian and European press view as a 'tainted' triumph, while a piece in In These Times takes a look at the 'Dark Side of Russia's Rainbow,' and the culture lever becomes an issue.

Pakistani opposition leader Nawaz Sharif is banned from taking part in January's elections, amid concerns about a "rigged" vote, as it's argued that President Pervez Musharraf is not the stalwart general in America's "war on terror" that some neocons suppose.

The Washington Post's Thomas Ricks reveals the conclusion of secret U.S. war games, that there are "no palatable ways to forcibly ensure the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons -- and that even studying scenarios for intervention could worsen the risks."

As the Bush administration informs a British court that it has the right to kidnap anyone -- not just alleged terrorists -- that it suspects of a crime, the Washington Post recounts tales of torture from a 'holding cell for the CIA' in Jordan's spy agency.

"With debate over the role of anthropologists in aiding the military machine a theme threading through their annual meeting," scholars vote to demand that the American Anthropological Association "reinstate strict language from its 1971 code of ethics prohibiting secret research."

As Karl Rove goes on Fox News to reiterate his claim that "Democrats in Congress -- not the Bush Administration -- forced a war vote prior to the 2003 midterms," the Washington Post is taken to task for completely replacing the concept of truth with a "he said, she said" journalism.

A new job offer for Paul Wolfowitz raises "more than eyebrows within State because he'll be providing advice on some of the same issues that critics say the administration got spectacularly wrong when Wolfowitz was pushing the case for the Iraq War at the Pentagon."

It's suggested that a new Gallup poll finding Republicans more likely than others to rate themselves as mentally healthy may just be a matter of reflection, as the 'Hillary hostage situation,' which drew mockery from right wing trolls, recalls "the gutting of public mental health services" begun by Reagan.

As the media struggle to decide what genre the hostage taking should fit in, Fox News opts for a car chase narrative, mistakenly identifies the wrong man as the hostage taker, and speculates about how Hillary Clinton will 'use the hostage ordeal for political gain.'

With the 'NYC papers roasting Rudy,' the mud rising, and the excuses evolving, Giuliani promotes himself as "an authority on wasteful spending." Plus: A 'Question of Security.'

As blogs flunk media coverage of the presidential campaign, a Los Angeles Times media review takes apart what it terms 'CNN: The Corrupt News Network' for the "self-serving" priorities it chose to highlight in last week's GOP debate.

After National Review reporter Thomas Smith is caught fabricating dispatches from Lebanon, his editor ultimately tries to pin the blame on the "Arab tendency to lie and exaggerate," while Glenn Greenwald puts the muted reaction to the revelations in context.

The Idaho Statesman's publication of a new round of allegations about Sen. Larry Craig, is met with a new round of denials, and some confusion on the right, as the embattled 'senator escapes to Bali to stall global warming treaty.'

With a new poll showing that "more Americans believe in a literal hell and the devil than Darwin's theory of evolution," an atheist author explains his moral compass in the face of a rather belated 'religious furor' over the debut of his work on the big screen.

Nov. 30 - Dec. 2

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

In advance of a reported '2008 makeover,' President Bush said at a press conference that he was essentially kept in the dark about the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran.

With the release of the NIE called both 'A Miracle' and "a case of the intelligence community actually being out to set the record straight," a Ha'aretz analysis suggests that "Israel may come to be seen as a panic-stricken rabbit," and its defense minister reportedly "said that Iran was continuing in its efforts to produce a nuclear bomb despite the report."

Fred Kaplan concludes that "Skeptics of war have rarely been so legitimized. Vice President Cheney has never been so isolated," and as it puts 'hardliners on the defensive,' the NIE "should help to defuse the current crisis," according to IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei.

'The Supreme Court Faces the Kangaroo Courts' on Wednesday, in what is described as "perhaps the most important habeas case in modern history," and Fox News rejects a TV spot from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which is said to have "played David to Bush's Goliath" in the Guantanamo cases.

A letter from Rep. Henry Waxman informing Attorney General Mukasey that "the White House has been blocking Mr. Fitzgerald from providing key documents to the Committee," is seen as putting "Mukasey in an unenviable spot: He can either defy the president ... or be decried as a lickspittle like his predecessor, Alberto Gonzales."

David Corn, who recently left the Nation to become the bureau chief of Mother Jones' expanded D.C. bureau, tells 'Karl Rove, Don't Spin My Work for Your Historical Revisionism.'

With a 'Big Media Blackout On Iraq,' the New Republic, after months of "re-reporting" articles by Scott Thomas Beauchamp, determines that "we cannot stand by these stories," and its editor wishes the National Review "luck in resolving" its problem.

Speculating on 'Venezuela After the Referendum,' Tariq Ali concludes that "If the lessons of the defeat are understood it is the Bolivarians who will win," McClatchy reports on the constitutional crisis in Bolivia, and in Brazil, it's 'Sanitation for All ... in 115 Years.'

With Tuesday afternoon's Democratic debate being Webcast on NPR, an Obama supporter describes "What I Saw in New Hampshire," John Edwards becomes "a casual - and even an amused - observer," and Robert Reich wonders, 'Why is HRC stooping So Low?'

With their candidate reportedly "poised to outraise the rest of the Republican field this quarter," the "Paulites" take it offline in New Hampshire, and it's asked, "Exactly when did New York turn into Ron Paul country?"

Referring to a article suggesting that he "may be the most important person in the 2008 presidential election aside from the candidates themselves," "Democracy Now!" introduces its interview with Lou Dobbs, who's launching his own radio show.

About his article on "how squishy a concept electability is," Jason Zengerle tells "On the Media" that "it allows the media to sort of play the horserace politics game with a little bit less of a guilty conscience," and suggests that "All these voters out there have become sort of mini-pundits themselves."

"No, it's all the same," said Matt Taibbi, when asked if there was "any reason to hope for a better media performance this cycle." He also described Seymour Hersh as "an incredible prick on the telephone," but "when I actually went to go meet him he was the nicest guy you could possibly imagine."

Inhale This! Calling a Rolling Stone article the 'Smartest Drug Story of the Year,' Slate's Jack Shafer likens the author to "an auditor called in to assess the wreck of a Fortune 500 company," who "asks what the government has gotten for the half-trillion dollars it has spent on the drug war and takes the question to the limits."

As a study finds that "properties of cannabis slows breast cancer," Florida's attorney general, an early proponent of medical marijuana, is issuing 'dire warnings' and calling for the targeting of 'Marijuana McMansions,' but his potency claims are being called into question.

December 3

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Los Angeles Times reports that "it wasn't until about two weeks ago that Vice President Cheney ... and other high-level officials received initial briefs on the pending findings" of the NIE, but Seymour Hersh told CNN that the intelligence "has been circulating inside this government at the highest levels for the last year and probably longer."

The Washington Post ignored its own reporting to let Bush skate on the claim that he just found out what was in the NIE "last week," and Hersh also said that "Olmert had a private discussion with Bush about it ... before Annapolis," contradicting a claim that Bush was first briefed on it two days later.

McClatchy reports that "Probably no country felt more blindsided than Israel," but a Ha'aretz article said that "Israel has known about the report for more than a month," and a former Clinton administration ambassador speculates that Bush kept a lid on the NIE before Annapolis to help attract participants by playing on the fear of Iran.

As it's reported that Bush will visit Israel in January, Palestinian leaders accuse Israel of "trying to wreck the peace process" with its plan to construct new homes near Jerusalem, and Gaza's now running on empty, after a gas station association protested a supply cut by refusing to accept additional fuel. Plus: Banksy takes it to the Wall.

CREW releases a report charging the Department of Homeland Security with 'massive failures and billions wasted,' CJR investigates the New York Times' 'Three-Year Silence on Pakistan's Nukes,' Jonathan Schell warns that the "nuclear age" is now "in its prime," and a Saudi researcher puts the number of Web sites "promoting the ideology of al Qaeda" at 5,600.

The Economist reports on California's 'new Indian wars,' and an author embeds with the landscape to envision the "Hard Road West," on which "gold-seeking argonauts" were the first to write of "seeing the elephant," a phrase that is still being used by soldiers in Iraq.

With '25 Dead in Iraq Bombings As Gates Visits,' a New York Times analysis explaining why 'A Calmer Iraq' is 'Fragile, and Possibly Fleeting,' notes that Moktada al-Sadr "has issued increasingly bellicose pronouncements recently." And Michael Massing reviews soldier-written books that reveal Iraq's 'Hidden Human Costs.'

As Rudy Giuliani explains 'How to Deal With Tyrants and Terrorists,' PoliFact reviews Giuliani's tenure on the Iraq Study Group, noting his $240,000 take for two speeches on the two days he missed before being replaced, and Salon publishes documents that illustrate 'The bill for Rudy Giuliani's love life.'

A Boston Globe report leads Mitt Romney to get tough on illegal immigrants, it's revealed that as of Tuesday evening, Mike Huckabee was 'not aware' of the NIE report on Iran, and a South Carolina mailer prompts the question, 'Is Ron Paul becoming just another politician?'

An article on Sen. Barack Obama's shoot the moon education plan, notes that Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney have "surprisingly little information on their websites about education reform," and that Sen. John McCain has none.

'Let Them Eat Broccoli' About a new Heritage Foundation study on "Hunger Hysteria," James Ridgeway writes that since "the U.S. media and public have become increasingly obsessed with the 'obesity epidemic'.... what better way to attack the idea of deprivation among the poor than to note that they are getting fatter?"

Paul Krugman cites an article in his paper that refers to the American Enterprise Institute as "a nonpartisan group," and Eric Boehlert takes 'GOP bloggers' to task for being "so afraid of democracy that they spend their days and nights blaming the press for allowing it to take place."

Glenn Greenwald makes more time for Time, detailing how the magazine stymied attempts by Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Rush Holt and others to respond to Joe Klein, and Rupert Murdoch gets religion, 'Adds Beliefnet to his media arsenal.'

A "Line Up" exhibit, with accompanying video, garners a "Big Outrage" award for a "Lefty Library." Read about the artists behind it and how their John Ashcroft Snow Globe ended up in the hands of its namesake.

With the U.S. release of the documentary, "Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten," Ted Leo talks about refusing to sell his music for commercial use: "Of course it pains me to hear the Clash in a car commercial, but what are you going to do?"

December 4

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Reviewing oral arguments in the Guantanamo habeas cases, Dahlia Lithwick "couldn't count five votes ... for the proposition that the kangaroo tribunals are better than the alternatives, or even that they are any good at all." Plus: 'What's next for Guantanamo prisoners?'

As the Senate Judiciary Committee considers a bill that would permit television coverage of Supreme Court proceedings, the Washington Post editorializes that it's 'Time for Cameras,' which draws a dissenting opinion.

On Wednesday evening the White House issued a statement, saying that President Bush was told in August by the director of national intelligence that Iran's nuclear weapons program "may be suspended," after which, Bush began engaging in what Dan Froomkin calls an "oddly familiar pattern of deception."

Greg Sargent notes that both the Washington Post and the New York Times buried the White House's statement, which followed a report that four former CIA officials "described as preposterous President Bush's claim that he was unaware until very recently that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003."

'When Reason Prevails' War In Context argues that "The neocons know the game is up," but Robert Parry says they're ''Down, Not Out,' and in an op-ed, John Bolton complains that "Too much of the intelligence community is engaging in policy formulation rather than 'intelligence' analysis, and too many in Congress and the media are happy about it."

On a 'Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day' for Mike Huckabee, he 'defends lack of awareness on Iran,' and after a Clinton volunteer in Iowa resigned for forwarding an e-mail suggesting that "Obama is some sort of Manchurian candidate for Muslims," it was reported that "the campaign knew that one of their county chairs was sending this around." Plus: 'Mitt Romney's Big Speech'

In recapping her interview with Lou Dobbs, who stands accused of indirectly employing illegal immigrants, Amy Goodman refers to a Southern Poverty Law Center report about the immigration backlash against Latinos.

Fresh from a hunting trip to Arkansas, Vice President Cheney serves up red meat in D.C., and predicts that Iraq "will be an enormous success story," as it's reported that "there's no flood of Iraqis leaving Syria to go home."

A bill calling for mandatory U.S. limits on greenhouse gases passes a Senate committee, with an assist from Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has offered a competing bill, and 'Scientists Beg for Climate Action,' with a petition directed at Bali conferees.

Grist introduces Elizabeth Kolbert's now-liberated New Yorker article on Alberta's tar sands, which are also the subject of a new book titled "Stupid to the Last Drop."

As the Mortgage Bankers Association says that "home foreclosures surged to an all-time high in the July-September period," a report suggesting that "A recession looms for the U.S. economy in the first half of 2008," also predicts that "home prices will fall further."

Coming on the heels of Iceland supplanting Norway as the most desirable country in which to live, the Los Angeles Times reviews "The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland," by Bill Holm, who writes that "After a while the United States is simply too much: too much religion and not enough gods, too much news and not enough wisdom..."

A record number of films from the Middle East will be among the 'fresh faces' at Sundance, including "Slingshot Hip Hop," which documents the Palestinian rap scene, and "Recycle," about the life of an ex-mujahideen in the Jordanian city of Zarqa, hometown of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

With Los Angles set to put 'An end to the free ride on trains,' the author of "Transit Maps of the World," described as 'sheer subway-porn,' said in an interview with Reuters that "there are a lot more map geeks and anoraks out there than you can imagine - and not just blokes."

Schilling for McCain Appearing in New Hampshire, the Boston Red Sox' pitcher and backer of Bush, reportedly said "the next president has to be ready to lead on taxes and what he repeatedly called 'the war in the Middle East,'" and a Boston magazine profile of a Bruins' hockey team executive, leads to intentional roughing.

December 5

Friday, December 7, 2007

The CIA announces that it has destroyed tapes -- made for purposes of "quality control" --that showed terror suspects being subjected to "severe interrogation techniques" without, Spencer Ackerman contends, making "a single plausible claim about the tapes and why they were destroyed," prompting accusations of "obstruction of justice."

One analysis of the CIA's announcement finds the 'absence of a torture tape librarian a feature, not a bug,' as 'questions beg to be answered,' and Glenn Greenwald fits the absence of evidence into a 'familiar Bush pattern.'

Among the more bizarre recent attempts at rebranding 'Blackwater's Bu$ine$$,' observes Jeremy Scahill, was a "dramatic aerial landing, complete with Blackwater flags and parachutes--not in Baghdad or Kabul but in San Diego," near where the company is "fighting fierce local opposition to its attempt to open a new camp." Plus: Special RSC meeting with Prince.

UPI's Ben Lando reports that "Big Oil's dreams are close to coming true" in Iraq where the Oil Ministry is poised to give them a foot in the door, as the documentary 'The Battle for Basra' explores the struggle for control over an area with 80% of the country's known oil reserves.

A new report by the Pentagon's Inspector General details more than '$1 billion in military equipment missing in Iraq,' while a State Department manager, although "banished from Iraq" and "under scrutiny" continues to oversee construction of the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

One new poll finds Bush losing ground with military families, a majority of whom now say the invasion of Iraq was not worth it, while another suggests that "Republicans have lost all the support among Hispanics that they gained early in Bush's first term."

In Bush's 'zero sum fiasco' in Iran, Dilip Hiro finds the "definition of a superpower in decline," as the latest parsing of his statement on what he knew about the NIE appears to depend on "what the meaning of 'was' is," and it's argued that "the real lie" is administration claims that it has tried to negotiate with Iran.

Although the NIE apparently sinks CNN's plans to air "Iran goes Nuclear," Senate Republicans are reportedly preparing to officially investigate the NIE's conclusions, Germany and France remain unmoved, and Israel reserves the right to strike despite popular opposition.

In a nationally televised defense of his faith that aimed to win over an audience of Christian conservatives but used the word "Mormon" only once, Mitt Romney proclaims that "freedom requires religion," and blasts "the new religion of secularism."

Keith Olbermann talks to Eugene Robinson about Romney's JFK disconnect, a comparison of photos points to a Kennedy pose, it's suggested that underlying issues of character are more than just a "comma problem," and the Romney campaign goes silent on an issue of inclusion.

Joe Conason argues that "Whatever bland assurances they may offer to the contrary, both Romney and Huckabee have implicitly endorsed religious tests for a presidential candidacy," as Katha Pollitt tracks an outbreak of sympathy for Huckabee among "left leaning male pundits."

Responding to the firing of a Texas science curriculum director for passing along an FYI about her talk on "Creationism's Trojan Horse," Barbara Forrest warns that "If anyone had any doubts about how mean-spirited ID politics is, this episode should erase them." Plus: Darwin takes the stage.

"The impact of climate change plus deforestation could wipe out or severely damage nearly 60 percent of the Amazon forest by 2030," according to a new WWF report, while the Bush administration, on the defensive at a climate conference in Bali, points in another direction.

With teen births rising for the first time since 1991, a Heritage fellow insists that this is no failure of abstinence education, and the New York Times spotlights "push presents" for new moms.

Amid talk of "big sticks" on Capitol Hill, an "approved" military journal is found to have touted the "Leadership lessons of Capt. Kirk," and Hollywood does the stall.

While digging into decades old Foreign Office files, Patrick Cockburn uncovers his grandfather's role in the pre-history of rendition, a furious 1908 "battle with his own government to prevent a Korean journalist from being handed over to the Japanese for torture."

As China marks the 70th anniversary of the Nanking massacre, a propaganda war breaks out in the cinemas in nearly a dozen movies, one of which inspires two new Lou Reed songs, while another seeks to bolster the claim that "evidence for the massacre is faked."

Dec. 6

Monday, December 10, 2007

With inquiry beginning into the destruction of the CIA "torture" tapes, the "security risk" rationale meets skepticism, and fingers point toward "a second tier leadership figure at the CIA," whom Harper's Scott Horton terms the "designated scapegoat," and the Democratic Chair of the House Intelligence Committee called an "American hero."

On "Democracy Now," Horton and Mark Benjamin discuss the implications of the tapes, including the possibilities that they were to be used as "a training vehicle," and that they showed "psychologists torturing," amid growing insistence that that the APA take a stronger stand against participation in interrogation.

Following revelations in the Washington Post that congressional Democrats had been 'briefed on waterboarding in 2002,' but "failed to protest," Glenn Greenwald considers the scope of 'Democratic complicity in Bush's torture regimen,' while John Nichols focuses in on 'Pelosi and Torture.'

As it's suggested that the destruction of the tapes could threaten prosecutions, lawyers for a Baltimore man held at Guantanamo file a motion in federal court "to order the Bush administration to preserve evidence" of how their client was tortured, and lawyers for a British detainee claim that CIA photos show evidence of torture.

In a pair of reports, McClatchy's Baghdad Bureau Chief Leila Fadel details objections by the Iraqi government to burgeoning number of U.S.-financed armed groups termed "concerned local citizens" and highlights the revenge motive behind a Iraqi mother's deadly suicide bombing that targeted a Sunni group that had recently allied with the U.S. military.

Syria is 'sinking in flood of refugees from Iraq,' according to a Seattle delegation which recently visited the country, as the UNHCR warns that many Iraqi areas are unsafe for return, with returnees often finding their former homes "destroyed, looted or occupied."

Political maneuvering in advance of a delayed referendum over the fate of oil-rich Kirkuk, strands Kurds in the squalid limbo of the city's soccer stadium, while Arab "newcomers" to the region are paid to get out, and the U.N. looks for a formula for reconciliation.

In a surprise visit, beleaguered British Prime Minister Gordon Brown heralds the 'handover of power' to Iraqis in Basra, where "religious vigilantes have killed at least 40 women this year because of how they dressed."

Embattled State Department Inspector General Howard "Cookie" Krongard resigns with, he says, "a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment," in the wake of "a long controversy over allegations that he obstructed inquiries that could harm the Bush administration."

The choking off of fuel supplies to Gaza, which has put 'donkeys in demand,' is exacerbating shortages in other critical areas from medical supplies to water, with a number of deaths already attributed to a system of granting permits to access medical care likened by one WHO official to a "Kafka novel."

Israeli peace campaigner Uri Avnery takes stock of how inconvenient the NIE on Iran has proved for the Israeli leadership, as "U.S. observers" tell Ha'aretz that the report will have "no impact on U.S. public opinion or its effect will erode," and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates says "grave threat."

'More big questions remain about Bush and the Iran no-nuke intel,' as the Washington Post confirms that the president and his advisers were "regularly and continuously" apprised on new Iran intel, and a sudden "shift of terms in August" is taken as a sign of what Bush knew and when he knew it.

Questioned about his 1992 statement advocating a quarantine of AIDS patients and claims of confusion about how the disease was spread, Mike Huckabee rewords but does not recant, as he surges to a lead in Iowa, where it's suggested that the real front runner may be "none of the above."

Tim Rutten contends that the 'Press preys on the wrong question,' worrying about whether "some ancient Mormon elder in Salt Lake City is going to pick up the telephone and order President Romney to do something kooky," while ignoring the fact that "Huckabee, by contrast, already believes kooky things for religious reasons."

For a Univision audience, GOP candidates talk up Iraq and and maintain a toned down hard line on immigration, as a New Yorker essay looks at what's behind the 'Return of the Nativist,' and Dave Neiwert uses "the antics of CNN's Lou Dobbs" to illustrate 'journalism's accountability problem.'

Rudy Giuliani laughs off some embarrassing questions on "Meet the Press," and says he will not sever ties to his firm.

The 'sleeping press' is taken to task for ignoring McCarthy-like implications of the "The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism and Prevention Act," as the 'cash-starved Forest Service' ponies up $600,000 for tasers.'

As Al Gore accepts the Nobel Peace Prize, a CNN report compares him to Jerry Lewis, driving home its point "by showing a particularly moronic segment of 'The Nutty Professor.'"

Dec. 7-9

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The 'White House goes mum on CIA video case,' but the New York Times reports that CIA lawyers "gave written approval in advance to the destruction in 2005 of hundreds of hours of videotapes documenting interrogations of two lieutenants from Al Qaeda."

As former CIA interrogator John Kiriakou 'Enters Waterboarding Fray,' two Democratic members of the "Gang of Eight" are told to "start snitchin'," and Guantanamo's former chief prosecutor explains why he stepped down.

The "CIA took pictures of Mr. Mohamed's brutalized genitalia," says the attorney for a Guantanamo detainee who claims to have been tortured when his interrogation was outsourced to Morocco, and lawyers for another detainee 'assert that Pentagon overstates ex-detainee threat.'

As MSNBC airs its first installment of "Bush League Justice," a 'False Alarm' at a Boston hotel leads to a chance encounter with "Mr. Slam Dunk," who uttered a "cryptic one-word pronouncement" about the NIE on Iran, to "Nation of Secrets" author, Ted Gup.

The ABC News report that a former Halliburton/KBR employee claims to have been gang-raped by co-workers in Iraq, and that "the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident," is virtually ignored by other mainstream media outlets. Plus: "No rape kit; no problem; the Republican revolution delivers again."

Although the majority of GOP presidential candidates support waterboarding, a poll finds that the 'Field Isn't Touching Voters,' and the New Republic details the 'boring lunacy' of one candidate and it's not 'Rudy Giggliani.'

One pundit argues that 'Edwards deserves another look,' and Sen. Hillary Clinton is described as a "change agent" by her husband, who 'Continues Effort To Rewrite History.'

With House Democrats reportedly set to push a spending bill that would "contain no money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq," David Brooks declares 2008 "a postwar election," but ignores a Gallup poll that according to Greg Mitchell, "disputes the whole notion."

As 'Iraq's Sadr uses lull to rebuild Army,' the New York Times reports that "despite the relative calm, the pace of attacks has quickened of late," and Iraq's foreign minister calls for "a time limit on the presence of American troops."

A speech by Douglas Feith at the American Enterprise Institute "reunited Iraq hawks," including Richard Perle and the 'rebounding' Paul Wolfowitz, and to replace Karen Hughes, President Bush is reportedly set to name AEI fellow, James Glassman.

Marc Herold accuses the AP of speaking 'Newspeak' in its reporting on Afghanistan, and while "claims that the Taliban run more than 50% of Afghanistan should be treated with scepticism," according to the Guardian's Jason Burke, the town of "Musa Qala does not deserve the attention it is currently receiving."

As it's reported that "Dozens of IDF tanks and armored vehicles moved into Gaza on Tuesday morning," Israel's interior minister introduces a bill that "would allow district courts to either halt or completely stall a newspaper's publication, should it prove to have compromised Israel's security or national welfare."

With 'Outcast Kasparov still squaring up to Putin,' the story of 'How Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky became pawns,' is described as "the latest in a long line of culturally and historically informed books on chess."

'Led Zeppelin Finds Its Old Power' in a lights out performance dedicated to Ahmet Ertegun, that came with seven "pieces of history."

As it's said that the band was 'a force for peace' by bridging the divide between Western and Islamic cultures, a Pakistani duo that makes "Sufi-oriented music inspired by Led Zeppelin and Metallica," is drawing the ire of religious extremists, according to an article calling President Musharraf "a fan of classic rock."

December 10

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

CIA Director Michael Hayden 'testifies behind closed doors on destroyed tapes,' about which the AP reports, "the CIA may have an out: its clandestine network of overseas prisons," and a Newsweek article says the tapes "were never brought onto U.S. territory; they were kept, and later destroyed, at a secret location overseas."

As the ACLU 'asks court to hold CIA in contempt,' TPMuckraker assembles a timeline of the tapes, and about a Wall Street Journal article, Tom Engelhardt observes that "we're talking about CIA officials in a torture chamber."

An NPR interviewer leaves unchallenged House Minority Leader John Boehner's claim that "it's clear that the White House was unaware of the existence of these tapes," and asked on PBS if he thinks waterboarding constitutes torture, Sen. Kit Bond said: "There are different ways of doing it. It's like swimming: freestyle, backstroke."

War In Context offers up some 'Moral clarity on torture,' as it's reported that Attorney General Mukasey "refused ... to be rushed into deciding whether he considers waterboarding a form of torture," and a Guantanamo legal adviser refused to say if Iranians waterboarding downed U.S. airmen is a violation of the Geneva Convention.

As former Iranian President Khatami 'Publicly Assails Ahmadinejad,' a CNN poll finds that 54 percent of respondents "believe the Bush administration deliberately misled them about whether Iran was attempting to develop nuclear weapons."

Responsibility for the twin bombings in Algiers has been claimed by a group calling itself Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb. And an article on 'The Spectre of Jihad' in Morocco, notes that "a wave of Islamic extremism washing over North Africa suggests more violence is coming."

Since 9/11 and the anthrax scare, reports the AP, "the Pentagon and the Postal Service have refused to deliver mail addressed simply to 'Any Wounded Soldier,'" and after being detained by the FBI in the wake of 9/11, and subjected to six months of interrogations and nine polygraph tests, a Rutgers art professor devised a 24/7 alibi.

WikiLeaks posts a military manual for Camp Bucca in southern Iraq, where the celebration of Christmas is canceled in Basra, and Patrick Cockburn contends that U.S. commentators "look at Iraq in over-simple terms and exaggerate the extent to which the U.S. is making the political weather and is in control of events there."

As a photo-op for Senator Obama keeps the "O-mentum" going, the Washington Post enlists a barbershop quartet in profiling "the only Democrat who beats all four Republicans," and FAIR's Peter Hart suggests that "journalists should recall what the polls told them last time around about who would likely win the Iowa caucuses."

With Republican presidential candidates, including Alan Keyes, debating at 2 p.m. EST and airing online here, Todd Gitlin offers up 'Eight questions reporters should ask Huckabee,' who reportedly "won't make his sermons available to the media and the public."

Asked on CBS about climate change, Huckabee said, "we ought to declare that we will be free of energy consumption in this country within a decade." Sen. Joe Biden, who is virtually tied with Rep. Dennis Kucinich in the polls, was also asked, but Kucinich wasn't, despite being "considered a trailblazer ... among deep green voters."

Kucinich continues to be an un-favorite son of the Cleveland Scene, which says in a feature article that he "will play any role to his advantage - be it race-baiter or liberal purist- only to spin himself a new image the next day. It's a formula that hasn't changed in 40 years."

Harry Shearer rips TV news for perpetuating some very erroneous impressions of New Orleans, with it's use of undated Katrina "B-Roll" footage, and NPR reports on efforts to find shelter for homeless residents of a park encampment that will be off-limits as of December 21, six days after the "government-funded demolition of hundreds of sound housing units scheduled to begin."

LaShonda Katrice Barnett discusses her book "I Got Thunder," described as "a treasure trove of raw emotion from some of jazz and soul's greatest black scribes," and David Was describes how "when the awards season rolls around, money talks and music walks."

"On the Media" interviews the proprietor of the Web site Comcast Must Die, based on "the idea of forming an E-surrection against companies that treat us like - dirt."

December 11

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sen. Dick Durbin opens a new front on interrogation tapes, the New York Times reports that the current chief judge at Guantanamo was once a critic of military tribunals, and Vice President Cheney is cited as one reason why 'Hopes dim for closure of Guantanamo.'

'A strong president says no to torture,' the attorney general is put 'on the spot,' and a Times analysis finds that 'CIA agents sense shifting support for methods.' Plus: 'Who gave the green light to "enhanced" interrogations?'

The Senate Judiciary Committee votes 12-7 to approve contempt resolutions against Karl Rove and Joshua Bolten, and senators lobby Majority Leader Harry Reid to 'Keep Telecom Immunity Out of Surveillance Bill.'

With survival taking a backseat to education, illiteracy is "spreading rapidly among refugee children from Iraq," and the Mahdi Army uses "a new generation of youths, some as young as 15, to expand and tighten its grip across Baghdad."

The Army Times reports on a 'mutiny' at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, where shell-shocked soldiers refused to go out on patrol, numerous military charities are shortchanging troops, according to a charity watchdog group, and 'Suicides by U.S. soldiers and war veterans surge.'

As southern Iraq is hit by 'rare car bombs,' killing more than 40 people in the city of Amarah, Pierre Tristam, writing about the 'Fake Calm in Iraq,' concludes that "If Enron was an emirate, Bush would be its principal shareholder right now, with America's foreign policy as collateral."

"I wanted to sex up history a little," says Jon Sack, whose "Iraqi Oil for Beginners" joins two other recently published graphic novels about Iraq, "Shooting War," and "Iraq Operation Corporate Takeover."

A Blackwater VP claims that "I don't care one way or the other," despite having invested considerable resources in a Portero CA election, in which five members of a planning group that supported a proposed Blackwater facility were voted off the panel.

After reportedly pulling video footage of young Pakistanis saying that they believe Bin Laden is a CIA creation, 'ABC Exiles Ron Paul Interview to Web,' as Paul tells Wolf Blitzer that there's a "99.999 percent" chance that he will not run as an independent, and a perennial underdog weighs in on 'Covering the Underdogs.'

David Sirota sees 'Peter Beinart as cautionary tale in journalism history,' Greg Sargent is puzzled by "the unwillingness of so many commentators and media figures to learn from it when they get burned by bogus stories," the "Best Political Team on TV" gets a head start on being spun, and Regret The Error compiles 2007's best of the worst.

Keep It From the Kids As President Bush again vetoes an SCHIP bill "in private," it's reported that 'Steep heating costs hit neediest,' including those in one of the coldest states.

Al Gore blames the U.S. for Bali stalemate, a GAO report finds that the EPA was pressured by the White House "to weaken requirements that companies annually disclose releases of toxic chemicals," and at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union, "news is flying about climate change," reports Wired, "and it's bad."

The Los Angeles Times names Rebecca Solnit's 'Storming the Gates of Paradise" as one of its favorite books of 2007, rerunning Bill McKibben's review, in which he writes that "Solnit may be at her best in her depictions of California," and refers to her "arch and acid fantasia called 'The Wal-Mart Biennale.'"

As a federal appeals court rules that the sexual discrimination case against Wal-Mart will remain a class-action lawsuit, the company is taking heat over a report of sweatshop conditions at a Chinese supplier of Christmas tree ornaments, and, meeting more resistance from local governments - in China.

"Of all the nightmares on Elm Street haunting America's sleep, the bleak state of book reviewing would rank rather low on the worry meter," concedes James Wolcott, "somewhere between the decline of the sitcom and the disappearance of the pay phone."

December 12

Friday, December 14, 2007

As the House passes legislation to prohibit waterboarding, mock execution and other harsh interrogation tactics on a largely party line vote, John Dean weighs the prospects of an ACLU lawsuit getting the Bush administration to reveal what actually happened to the torture tapes.

As the New York Times considers how to fix the damage the 'Global War on Terror' has done to human rights and civil liberties in the U.S., a Nation forum details 'What GWOT has Wrought,' in country after country where it was used to "provide rhetorical refuge for tyrants."

In 'Tainted Hands Across the Water,' John Pilger puts British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's comments on "values we share" with the U.S. into institutional context, and concludes what's really meant is "rapacious power and wealth," as Tony Blair 'lands a role in Bush's doggie video.'

At the end of a 'B-movie terror trial,' the government's 'case goes bust,' as a teacher notes how a connection between Iraq and 9/11 is seeping into the background of student essays.

Legislators raise concerns that the 'KBR gang rape was not an isolated case of sexual assault,' as right wing bloggers look for somewhere else to point the finger.

'Surge, meet Escalation,' suggests a CJR case study of the fight for clarity in language, while Editor & Publisher's Greg Mitchell confronts claims that violence is down to 2005 levels with a reminder of how violent 2005 was and how far from normal Baghdad remains.

Withdrawing British forces 'tout Basra model,' but residents of the city sum up the British achievement there as "liberated from Saddam and delivered into the hands of the militias."

USA Today reports that the military paid $32 million for an 'Iraqi base that wasn't built', as the launch of a misconduct probe into an Iraq inspector general "whose revelations of waste and corruption in Iraq have repeatedly embarrassed the Bush administration," falls into a familiar pattern.

Robert Parry considers the implications of new equipment for speedy processing of biometric data designed, in its inventor's view, to help soldiers decide who to execute, while Nick Turse previews what holiday gifts might be expected "when Military-Industrial Santa lands on your roof in his Hellfire missile-armed Predator sled."

"Historians looking back on the Bush presidency may well wonder if Congress actually existed," comments Dan Froomkin, on a string of congressional concessions "on Iraq war funding, children's health insurance, tax policies, general spending and energy."

In a separate piece, Froomkin urges journalists to break the silence of the GOP candidates by pressing them to say what they think of the Bush legacy, while Juan Cole wonders how it is that Nancy Pelosi is just now discovering that "that she is facing a phalanx of determined warmongers."

With the GOP battle apparently boiling down to 'The Plutocrats vs. the Theocrats," Eugene Robinson tries to puzzle out the threat level in 'Code Huckabee,' and the Minutemen endorse Huckabee as the candidate whose plans were most likely to halt "this illegal immigrant invasion problem."

As U.S. border patrol agents reportedly begin "launching pepper spray and tear gas into densely populated Mexican border neighborhoods," the Southern Poverty Law Center profiles a prominent anti-immigrant group it terms 'The Teflon Nativists,' as it passes the "Rubicon of hate."

Plans to raze public housing in New Orleans, despite "a serious shortage of affordable housing,"draw protests, lawsuits and the attention of John Edwards who decries "Knocking down historic and livable housing today that withstood the winds of Katrina with the bulldozers of Bush."

In response to a studio walk out on negotiations, striking writers file a complaint with the Republican-led NLRB, which is itself facing criticism from Democrats in Congress for having "undermined collective bargaining at every turn," as unions under siege seek international support.

Despite "growing criticism of his agenda and tactics," FCC chair Kevin Martin "refused senators' requests Thursday to delay a vote next week on his plan to loosen restrictions on owning a newspaper and broadcast station in the same city," and activists ask 'Is junk media making you sick?"

An Obama zinger proves the highlight of a final Democratic debate before the Iowa caucuses that otherwise had so little new material that, David Corn writes, "As soon as the debate ended, it was as if it had never occurred."

Bill O'Reilly touts his show's coverage of the "war on Christmas," as "one of the most important things we've done," the 'White House's super-Christian Christmas card' draws criticism from Barbara Walters, and Rep. Jim McDermott votes to highlight the irony.

Dec. 13

Monday, December 17, 2007

Looking at how the Bush administration is "trying alternative rationales for refusing to turn over evidence of its own obstruction" in the case of the CIA "torture" tapes, Jonathan Turley concludes, "I have seen more reputable conduct from mob attorneys."

With the House announcing that it will continue its investigation of the tapes over White House objections, a Newsweek article advises investigators to 'make sure you ask for the Negroponte memo,' and the case is made for a special prosecutor, but GOP senators block House anti-torture bill.

Based on a detainee's first person account of life inside the CIA's black sites, Salon's Mark Benjamin reconstructs the 'Architecture of Detention,' as a former U.S. interrogator recounts torture cases in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Harper's Scott Horton sums up a week of torture revelations as 'The President's Coming-Out Party.'

As plans to give retroactive immunity to the telcos for their role in warrantless wiretapping face a filibuster threat, revelations in the New York Times link the immunity push to pre-9/11 efforts to tap into the domestic communications network, and flesh out Glenn Greenwald's portrait of 'The Lawless Surveillance State."

Commenting on a FISA court decision to deny public access to records concerning wiretapping, a New York Times editorial argues that the court "seems to have forgotten that its job is to ensure that the government is accountable for following the law -- not to help the Bush administration keep its secrets."

A U.N. survey of Iraqi refugees in Syria finds that more than a third fled during the height of the U.S. surge, while refugees in Lebanon face arrest, and a 'Balkanized homecoming' awaits those who return to Baghdad.

The Los Angeles Times reports that "American commanders in Iraq have decided to keep their forces concentrated in Baghdad when the buildup strategy ends next year," in a move that is "likely to give more power to Iraq's regional and local governments," and is intended to send a message to the government in Baghdad.

As Turkey conducts air strikes in Northern Iraq over the objections of the Iraqi central government and, according to a Turkish general, with U.S. backing, it is said to be in effect bombing 'the myth of Iraqi sovereignty.'

At a ceremony marking the handover of power in Basra, Britain's foreign secretary acknowledges that his country's forces have not left it "a land of milk and honey," and a BBC poll finds that "only 2% of Basra residents believe that British troops have had a positive effect on the province."

Afghanisurge? Under pressure to "accelerate a troop drawdown in Iraq and bulk up force levels in Afghanistan," the Bush administration has reportedly begun "top-to-bottom reviews" of the entire Afghan mission, as the Economist paints a bleak picture of the country's north-south divide.

An essay in Foreign Affairs lamenting Bush's "arrogant bunker mentality," described by one commentator as "suspiciously urbane," gets Mike Huckabee entangled in a battle over 'who values Bush more,' while his son moves into the spotlight for 'stoning, hanging dog.'

With an uncharacteristic lack of zeal among Republicans for any of their candidates, 'Huckabee panic' begins to set in on the right, the candidate gets tagged as 'Huckabuchanan,' and his support for the 'Canadian National Igloo,' comes to light.

Sen. Joe Lieberman comes out for McCain, a piece in the Los Angeles Times looks into how island tax havens factor into Mitt Romney's business success, and Frank Rich considers the culture clash between 'Latter Day Republicans and the Church of Oprah.'

Although John Edwards gets passed over in the press. it's argued that his "talk of hunger, poor medical care and working people's fear of sudden middle-age unemployment provided a bracing touch of reality in a campaign where the media are stubbornly occupied with matters irrelevant to American life."

Updated data from the Congressional Budget office show an "unprecedented increase in inequality," and that 'the rich are getting rich faster, much faster,' as another wave of food price inflation is set to hit the world's leading economies, and a sinking dollar turns New York into "the world's most fabulous discount mall."

Although the U.S. government delegation is 'herded into consensus' in Bali, George Monbiot argues that with "no targets and no dates" the Bali deal is worse than Kyoto, and predicts that "America will keep on wrecking climate talks as long as those with vested interests in oil and gas fund its political system."

States questioning the effectiveness of abstinence education turn down funding, a poster boy for the ex-gay movement was apparently not magically cured by I-35, and a planned creationist theme park in Britain is touted as a multimedia alternative to binge drinking.

Dec. 14-16

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Washington Post investigates the significance of Abu Zubaydah and the circumstances surrounding his interrogation, and Slate sees the actions of the Justice Department as an example of 'How not to investigate the destruction of the CIA tapes.'

What Chris Dodd called a "victory for American civil liberties," left fellow Senator Jay Rockefeller "disappointed," and following a lawsuit by CREW, a federal judge told the White House to 'detail Christian leader visits.'

As 'Gays retreat to shadows in new Iraq,' an Iraqi "body contractor" tells Newsweek that "The kidnapping and killing of people ... is in a more secret way than before," figures released by the U.S. military indicate 'Violence in Iraq still falling, but pace of decline slows,' and a former KBR employee gives her version of what happened at Camp Hope in Baghdad.

The U.S. Secretary of State follows Turkish soldiers into Northern Iraq, it's reported that 'Turkey's U.S.-Backed Strike in Iraq' was facilitated by "real-time intelligence" from the U.S., and a State Department spokesman claims that the PKK poses a threat to the U.S. (scroll down)

As 'Russian nuclear fuel lands in Iran,' an Israeli official tells the Jerusalem Post that Israel does not have 'smoking gun' intelligence on Iran, and IPS's Gareth Porter reports that President Bush likely knew about new intelligence on Iran, "as early as February or March 2007."

Eric Alterman reminds that "To most of the reporters and producers covering the election, Bush's presidency is already over. They are focused entirely on minutiae of the personalities of those running and the ins and outs of their campaigns," and Matt Taibbi says, "They're perfectly happy to report about the reality show because it's good business for them."

Howard Kurtz decries 'The Hit-Job Mentality' of political reporting, Paul Harvey delivers a Black Panther hit on Sen. Hillary Clinton, Greg Sargent suggests "an industry-wide seminar on the meaning of the word 'rumor,'" and a racially charged question to John Edwards leaves one observer wondering, "did this cat just ask about O.J.?"

Before Editor & Publisher reported on the role of political blogs at mainstream newspaper sites, CJR asked, "are we seeing hints of a MSM/independent hierarchy developing in the political blogosphere?" Plus: 'Cillizza on Lieberman: Telling Moments In Punditry.'

After being asked by Bill Moyers, how does he "differentiate his ad hominem attacks from those we see on the other side?," Keith Olbermann said, "The one criticism that I think is absolutely fair [is that] we're doing the same thing."

"Democracy Now!" interviews Harvey Wasserman, co-author of "What Happened in Ohio," about the report by Ohio's Secretary of State that the state's voting systems were rife with "critical security failures."

As Rebecca Solnit offers up '12 Books to Stiffen Your Resolve,' among the winners of the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University 2008 News Awards, are Iraq-related reports from "60 Minutes," on "The Mother Of All Heists," NPR's "Mental Anguish and the Military," and Richard Engel's "War Zone Diary."

The book based on CJR's "Reporting Iraq," is "a searing document, one of the most revealing chronicles of the war yet published," writes "Jarhead" author Anthony Swofford, and "the kind of book that the hawks who pushed the Iraq war on America could never have imagined." Plus: 'All the news that's fit to print - with Pentagon approval.'

Although $7.4 billion in aid pledged to the Palestinians exceeded expectations, one commentator cautions that "Without ... changes by Israel to its lockdown control of Palestinian movement on the West Bank, the area will remain as the World Bank now describes it: a 'shattered economic space.'"

He also notes that "the package offers essentially nothing to Gaza," which Palestinian President Abbas said is "close to catastrophe," and where an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people rallied on Saturday to mark the 20th anniversary of Hamas. Plus: 'Sealed Off by Israel, Gaza Reduced to Beggary.'

Declaring that 'It's Time for Muslim Comedians to Stand Up,' Sarfraz Manzoor, author of "Greetings From Bury Park," finds hope in the touring show "Allah Made Me Funny," and comedian Shazia Mirza.

December 17

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

After the New York Times reported that at least four White House lawyers took part in discussions with the CIA about whether to destroy the interrogation tapes, the White House demanded a correction on the sub-headline of the story. Plus: Deputy Attorney General nominee refuses to call waterboarding torture.

"Democracy Now" interviews the Yemeni man whose rendering of his "black site" cell was featured in a recent Salon article, and who is among those suing a Boeing subsidiary that offers "international trip planning services." The ACLU has more on the suit.

As a 'Picture of Secret Detentions Emerges in Pakistan,' two recent reports on Afghanistan are said to document a 'deepening social catastrophe' in the country, and FAIR's "CounterSpin" interviews Marc Herold about U.S. reporting on Afghanistan.

More than 250 people once held in Iraqi prisons, including Abu Ghraib, have filed a lawsuit against U.S. military contractor CACI for their alleged torture, and the Motion Picture Assn. of America has rejected the poster for "Taxi to the Dark Side," because it shows an image of a hooded detainee.

U.S. commanders in Iraq are distanced from Turkey's bombing, amid ongoing rows over oil and power sharing between the Kurds and Baghdad, and the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism's study on news coverage of Iraq, tells the AP that reporters "appear to be very sensitive to the notion that 'all you cover is bad news.'"

As Blackwater guards shoot news hound dead in Baghdad, the Committee to Protect Journalists pays tribute to the 64 journalists killed in 2007, which was more than in any year except 1994, and included seven journalists killed in Somalia, where a kidnapped French journalist is being held.

After expelling one journalist Russia silences another, the Baltimore Sun says goodbye to Moscow, and Time names Russian President Vladimir Putin as its "Person of the Year."

In two narrowly approved decisions that are both "likely to be challenged in federal court," the FCC chairman voted with Democratic commissioners to reestablish a national cable TV ownership ceiling at 30 percent, and with Republican commissioners to relax the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership ban.

A convicted GOP phone jammer talks to McClatchy about his book, "How to Rig an Election," and the mention of someone being "Larry Craiged" in a TV series, "suggests another word. 'Vittered' - to be let off the hook, for no apparent reason, for conduct at least as bad as those who are being punished."

As it's reported that a 'HUD "Snitch" Jumped Ship,' about the book "Snitch," which last week was on the table at the TPMCafe book club, a reviewer said that "Journalist Ethan Brown has tackled a seemingly impossible job: making the "Stop Snitching" movement seem reasonable."

New polls find John Edwards running first and third in Iowa, Mother Jones reports on how his anti-corporate message is playing there, Sen. Chris Dodd talks filibuster on "Countdown," and the New York Times is filibusted.

As 'Elder Bush nixes Clinton trip idea,' Marc Cooper points out that "rolling the dice is one of the very best bets you can make in Vegas, or anywhere else," and Media Matters documents how "the conservative echo chamber went into effect," hyping what was elsewhere described as "the snake belly of the campaign."

Following a report that Mitt Romney attended a Planned Parenthood fundraiser in 1994, ex-Mormon cartoonist Steve Benson tells Editor & Publisher that Romney is 'not telling truth,' and that he "needs to face an informed member of the media with 'cojones' who has a working and perhaps personal experience with Mormonism." Update: Readers respond.

Harper's Scott Horton highlights "an obscure speech delivered by an obscure person, with a message that no one wants to hear," although a catchy headline can help.

Tom Hanks says about his film "Charlie Wilson's War," -- based on the book, excerpted here, by the late George Crile -- that the studio's marketing executives would have preferred the title, "Julia and Tom Are in This Movie."

One reviewer calls it "Gumped-up history," while another complains that "It's all about how Democrats defeated the Soviet Empire," and the Telegraph interviews the conservative Houston socialite who pushed for the war.

December 18

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Although President Bush said at a news conference that 'He will reserve judgment on destruction of CIA interrogation tapes,' Jonathan Turley sees "a scandal that currently contains at least six credible criminal allegations," and Brent Budowsky calls it the 'Watergate of Our Times.'

'To Impeach or Not to Impeach?' asks a "Democracy Now!" segment, and Harold Meyerson, in 'Hard-liners for Jesus,' notes that "It's not just Bush whose catechism is a merry mix of torture and piety. Virtually the entire Republican House delegation opposed the ban on waterboarding." Plus: 'As torture debate heats up, Jewish groups stay mum.'

Radar's Charles Kaiser says that "every single fact" offered by former CIA agent John Kiriakou in his interview last week with ABC, "was directly contradicted in a piece by Katherine Eban, which was posted last summer on"

Speaking during a hearing at which Jamie Leigh Jones testified, her congressman, who said that he has been contacted by three other women, also called out the Justice Department, for "having thousands of lawyers but not one ... is here to tell us what if anything they are doing."

'A soldier who killed himself in Iraq had been ignored and mistreated,' reports the AP, which also provides a timeline of his last days, and an interview with his parents.

With the Al-Qaeda outlet Al-Sahab inviting questions to ask Ayman al-Zawahri, the Guardian's Jason Burke says that al-Zawahri's latest video 'shows that Iraq is not only a failure for the U.S. but for al-Qaida too,' which "has always tried to piggy-back on others' conflicts."

War on Castroism A GAO audit found that not only are U.S. sanctions against Cuba "more restrictive than those imposed on any other country," reports the Washington Post, but also that "their rigorous enforcement risks diverting government attention from higher-priority counterterrorism tasks."

About the U.N.'s nonbinding resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on the death penalty, the New York Times editorializes that "its symbolic weight made barely a ripple in the news ocean of the United States," which, "as usual, lined up on the other side." Plus: Global campaign ... establishes beachhead In New Jersey.'

On the day that President Bush signed an energy bill, derided by a Republican congressman as a "no-energy bill" and even "a cause for recession," the EPA waited until after hours to deny states the right to mandate emissions, which reportedly "infuriated public officials and environmentalists from Washington to Sacramento."

While it's again argued that 'betting the farm' on corn ethanol is a bad idea, the prospects for mass transit are weighed in a car-addicted culture, and, 'Imagine this: riding buses & subways for free.'

Reason points out what's available on for the "inquiring minds" that CNN president Jonathan Klein hopes to attract, and Norman Solomon enters 'The Mad Corporate World of Glenn Beck,' who also interviewed Rep. Ron Paul this week.

The New Republic publishes 'The unhinged correspondence of Mike Huckabee,' with journalists when he was governor of Arkansas, primarily Arkansas Times' editor Max Brantley, who recently wrote and spoke about Huckabee. Plus: 'Is This Heaven? No, It's Iowa.'

In a 'Christmas season of toxic recalls,' Sen. Barack Obama calls for a U.S. ban on toys made in China, and with the recruitment of blacks and other minority workers seen as a key to the labor movement's survival, the Center for American Progress documents the Bush administration's 'Regulatory Assault On Unions.'

A review of "Punching In" recommends that "if you really want to know how workers and customers are manipulated," read "Why We Buy," and Stewart O'Nan discusses his 'Requiem for a Red Lobster: A Novel of Downsizing."

At 100, Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer has embarked on what is seen as his "last great challenge," and 99-year-old Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira, the world's oldest active director, "emphasizes that he is only interested in concentrating on his future projects."

Flash In the Pan "On the Media" interviews Mark Crispin Miller about the history of subliminal advertising -- he wrote the introduction to a reissue of Vance Packard's "The Hidden Persuaders" -- and follows that with a discussion of the technology being employed be "the new persuaders."

December 19

Friday, December 21, 2007

A series of 'deadly attacks shatter holiday in Iraq,' one of which appeared to be targeting the "mushrooming alcohol sector" in Baghdad, as a new USIP report notes that the lack of political progress is in part due to power struggles within the Shia and Sunni communities.

Spencer Ackerman goes in-depth on the 'The Coming Fight for Northern Iraq,' where Kurdish leaders are "threatening to withdraw support from the Baghdad government" over issues of power sharing and oil, and a "Reader on Iraqi Media and Media Law" is published "with the aim of encouraging media development within the country."

Commenting on the discovery of "torture complex" in Diyala province thought to have been run by al Qaeda in Iraq, War in Context asks, "Have their torturers been empowered by ours?"

As the FBI opens a criminal probe of a former CIA official for waterboarding interviews, his lawyer warns of a "Pandora's box" of questions, and in regard to the tapes, Larry Johnson contends that, "The real priority is who in the Bush Administration knowingly lied to a Federal Judge in the spring of 2003."

The strain that indefinite detention has put on a University of South Florida professor and his family is captured in the documentary 'USA vs Al-Arian,' as the release of British Guantanamo detainees into legal limbo is seen as little cause for celebration as long as the U.S. continues to deny detainees legal redress.

"I go around spreading good will," says President Bush, as he loses patience with Syria, and prepares for a trip to the Middle East in which "detailed discussions about a concession on one side or the other" are not expected and dialogue with Hamas is off the table.

Data from a CSIS study of bombing raids in Iraq and Afghanistan confirms that "the U.S. has drastically escalated its aerial assault in both countries," as a Find Law article surveys this "year's crop of war-on-terror related books."

At the top of the list of 'the 10 most underreported humanitarian stories of 2007' compiled by Doctors Without Borders is the displaced fleeing war in Somalia, of whom more than 1,400 have died this year attempting a perilous sea voyage to Yemen. Plus: 'The Media Crackdown' in Somalia.

Reporting back from a trip to Chiapas, Naomi Klein says it's "Zapatista Code Red," with the 10th anniversary of a massacre overshadowed by signs of a new struggle over collectivized land, while an America's Program report looks at the cultural challenge of an unlikely "alliance between Zapatistas, sex workers, and transvestites."

Texas is planning criminal background checks and RFID wristbands for prospective evacuees, as the trailer for the forthcoming documentary "Children in Jail" goes on line, and former South Carolina executioners sue state officials "alleging they were forced to conduct executions even though they were not trained to do so."

As the New Orleans city council approves housing demolitions in a meeting that excluded many critics, police taser and pepper spray protesters, but if you watched CNN or MSNBC, it's argued "You wouldn't have a clue of what was really going on."

Highlighting the role of conservative ideology in the mortgage disaster, Paul Krugman notes that Alan Greenspan, who once "dismissed as a 'collectivist' myth the idea that businessmen, left to their own devices, "would attempt to sell unsafe food and drugs, fraudulent securities, and shoddy buildings," is now calling for a bailout.

Amid signs of Cheney's influence, the EPA faces a court battle over yesterday's contentious emission standards ruling which it is "almost certain to lose" but which could delay action to curb emissions, and Oversight Chair Henry Waxman, who is opening an investigation of his own, warns "Don't destroy those documents."

In "Tilting Rightward" CEPR documents how "CSPAN favors conservative think tanks 3-1 over left of center," while a FAIR analysis finds that "it's media, not voters, who seem to have lost interest in Iraq," and activists turn to Congress to overturn 'FCC's big media giveaway.' Plus: 'The 2007 P.U.-litzer Prizes.'

As Bill Clinton promotes his wife as a "world class genius," and his "negative campaigning" draws fire, Eugene Robinson wonders whether he could "find a way to live in a White House that wasn't all about him?"

WIth Shane MacGowan poised to hit 50 on Christmas day, his "Fairytale of New York," survives a brief and unpopular bout of BBC censorship to remain one of Britain's favorite Christmas tunes.

Dec. 20

Monday, December 24, 2007

Best wishes for a safe and peaceful Christmas holiday, and do stay warm. The next update is December 27.

In its in-depth, multimedia investigation of the 'Seeds of Conflict' in the U.S. nurtured "Awakening movement," the New York Times emphasizes the "challenge of managing a huge, and growing, force where many of the men have shadowy pasts," and that has made little headway in gaining the trust of the government.

Iran is another factor cited by U.S. officials -- but on second thought not by Ambassador Ryan Crocker -- to explain Iraq's apparent decline in violence, as Al Jazeera obtains "video footage that appears to show that Iraq's resistance movements are very much in operation, despite the U.S. administration's claims."

"We set this thing up for failure from the beginning," says a military officer quoted in Steve Fainaru's account of the long unheeded warnings about the risks of using the "universally despised" Blackwater, as a rival security firm is accused of failing to pass on intelligence on police corruption to the British army in Basra.

A CorpWatch report on 'The Gunmen of Kabul' notes that one of the Afghan government's first attempts to crack down on private security firms was a raid carried out with the aid of Blackwater, whose "actions and virtual impunity" had spurred the crackdown in the first place.

A '9/11 panel study finds that the CIA withheld tapes,' apparently "waiting for a window in which there (arguably) were no pending investigations in which the evidence would be relevant, and then pounced on the opportunity -- the potential gap in criminal law coverage -- to eliminate the evidence."

With the man who allegedly ordered the destruction of the tapes seeking immunity for his testimony, it's asked "Who might he give up?," while a right wing pundit ventures, "I think he deserves a medal."

Although the FBI insists that the 'vast database of biometrics,' it is compiling is aimed at stopping terrorists, it's noted that some data will be available to employers, and that the Defense Department is already storing biometric data on "more than 1.5 million Iraqi and Afghan detainees, Iraqi citizens and foreigners who need access to U.S. military bases."

After listening to a Pentagon source who claims to have been briefed on the proceedings, Scott Horton concludes, "The case of Bilal Hussein is sending a distinct message to the government in Baghdad ... Persecuting journalists is fine with us, it says. And best to do it in the dark, so that no one sees."

Looking at the candidates' responses to questions about executive power posed by the Boston Globe's Charlie Savage, which zero in on key issues raised by Bush's approach to the "war on terror," and "executive privilege," Glenn Greenwald finds evidence of 'Mitt Romney's pursuit of tyrannical power, literally.'

The Hartford Concord Monitor publishes an unusual "anti-endorsement," which warns that Romney "must be stopped," while Mike Huckabee, who complains that Christians are being persecuted, says of Guantanamo, "If anything, it's too nice."

'I, Rudy' The American Conservative skewers Giuliani for charting a course for a 'forever war,' while Jacob Heilbrunn points to a common denominator in the Podhoretz-Giuliani connection: "Real men don't explain. They seek to intimidate and cow their opponents into abject submission."

Appearing on "Meet the Press," Ron Paul warns of "soft fascism," and remarks that saying Iran would invade Israel is "like saying Iran is going to invade Mars," but it's noted that he has also joined the ranks of GOP candidates rejecting modern biology.

Frank Rich notes that for all the talk on the campaign trail about who has more experience, 'a resume can't buy you love,' blogs debate Obama's potential as a change agent, and Matt Bai observes that Hillary Clinton walks a tightrope between her husband's legacy and a new direction.

The December 2007 MRFF report on Campus Crusade for Christ assembles evidence that Air Force Academy cadets are being pressured to become "government-paid missionaries" after they graduate, in violation of federal regulations. Earlier: 'The Anti-Crusader.'

As U.S banks scrap 'superfund' plan, the New York Times contemplates 'the sound of a bubble bursting in Florida,' Naomi Klein looks at how the shock doctrine is being put into action in New Orleans, and Paul Krugman takes on 'inequality denial' at the Economist.

'Tourists to U.S. weigh cheap dollar with entry hassle,' an Icelandic woman who was held in shackles before being deported from her Christmas trip to the U.S., details the humiliations to which she was subjected, and 'strictures in U.S. prompt Arabs to study elsewhere.'

As an AP poll finds that the TSA is now as unpopular as the IRS, and less popular than FEMA, Jim Hightower considers what might be appropriate gifts for America's power elites, and "dropshopping" paints a target on the ideal of "distraction free shopping."

Dec. 21-23

Thursday, December 27, 2007

As it's reported that a "U.S. official speaking on grounds of anonymity confirmed that Bhutto was assassinated," both a Bhutto adviser and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, blame President Musharraf.

Bloggers from Pakistan and elsewhere react, and her 'supporters take anger to the streets,' amid a reported claim of al-Qaeda responsibility, delivered via what is described as an "obscure Italian Web site."

More from Reuters' Pakistan wire, as well as live coverage from Al-Jazeera English and Sky News, and updated YouTube video.

Juan Cole debunks the 'Top Ten Myths about Iraq 2007,' and the Los Angeles Times' Tina Susman says in an interview that what the U.S. is "aiming for by the end of '08, essentially, is to bring the number of American troops down to ... pre-surge levels," which is not what Gen. Petraeus said in September. Plus: 'Three possible post-surge scenarios.'

Recent polls show that 'Military family members share public's division on Iraq war, Bush,' who is said to have been a 'big spender in early years,' and the Washington Post's Walter Pincus reports on Sen. Ted Stevens' claim that the U.S.' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan 'Cost $15 Billion a Month.'

With 'Iraqi hairdressers forced underground' by both Shiite and Sunni groups, Turkey, which is said to be 'Risking a new spiral of violence,' also 'praises U.S. help as jets bomb northern Iraq,' and in recent "off the record" remarks, Bill Clinton reportedly said that 'We need to stay in Iraq to protect the Kurds from the Turks.'

Citing Reporters Without Borders 'Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2007,' McClatchy's Hannah Allam reports that "Five of the world's top-13 Internet censors are in the Middle East." At the bottom of the index is Eritrea, which is reportedly on the verge of another war with Ethiopia.

In an interview with Newsweek, the outgoing director of the Information Security Oversight Office speaks of efforts to abolish his office by David Addington, then-chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, a.k.a. "Fourthbranch."

With Nat Hentoff following the 'Trail of Torture Tapes,' the New York Times editorializes for "a full investigation into the misconduct that may have occurred" in the U.S. attorneys scandal, and calls for the Justice Department to "investigate Mr. Siegelman's case." Plus: Is 'Fear of subpoenas "crippling" the White House?'

As 'Blame abounds for housing bust,' which is in turn blamed for having "squelched expansion in some of the nation's fastest-growing states," prices in the top 20 metropolitan markets fell 6.1 percent from October 2006 to October 2007, with double-digit drops in six cities, including Las Vegas.

'Campaigns exploit every electronic channel there is,' Michelle Obama tells Vanity Fair that "it's now or never," and her husband and John Edwards lead for second-choice in Iowa.

As it's reported that 'Republican health tax breaks may fall short on costs, coverage,' the only Republican participating in a presidential candidate forum on health care was Sen. John McCain, while Mike Huckabee is "continuing to accept paid speaking engagements ... often on his signature topic of health and fitness."

With Edwards and McCain 'positioned to shake up race,' an observer of the 'GOP's Six-Ring Circus' wonders why McCain isn't their man, MSNBC's David Schuster predicts that Huckabee would win "hands-down" against any of the Democratic front-runners, and addressing criticism from Bob Dole and Rush Limbaugh, Huckabee said of the former, "I love the man," and of the latter, "I love Rush Limbaugh."

An article about a 'mystery subject' photographed by Howard Bingham during a 1968 campaign swing through Watts by Robert F. Kennedy, on the day before he was assassinated, quotes a California state senator as saying, "Back then every presidential candidate came to Watts.... Now they go to Hollywood."

In running the "almost irresistible ... hangdog image," the Washington Post is accused of having "decided to take its editorial cues from Drudge," Glenn Greenwald finds evidence that "one can actually occupy a sewer level beneath that where one finds The Politico and Drudge, and, did Chris Matthews really say of Ann Coulter's "Godless": "I think it is Emersonian even, or Fitzgerald."?

December 24-26

Friday, December 28, 2007

Before Pakistan's government claimed that al-Qaeda and the Taliban were responsible for the death of Benazir Bhutto, Trudy Rubin reported from Islamabad that "just about every Pakistani with whom I spoke blamed her death not on al-Qaeda, but on their own government - and the United States."

As the 'Regional press mourns Bhutto,' Pakistan is said to have 'hosed away scene' after the attack, Tariq Ali calls her death 'A tragedy born of military despotism and anarchy,' and Sandip Roy explains why "South Asians like their martyrs."

Her friend and U.S. spokesman, Mark Siegel, goes on CNN to discuss an e-mail from her that was to be made public if she was killed, in which Bhutto blames Musharraf for not providing the security she had requested. Plus: 'The "Other" Bhutto.'

As a warning is issued about the orchestration of "conventional wisdom," Juan Cole wonders if President Bush has a Plan B for Pakistan, since the 'assassination upends Bush strategy in South Asia,' and John Moore narrates a presentation of the photos he took before and after the assassination.

Rep. Ron Paul said on CNN that the U.S. exacerbated the problems in Pakistan "because we supported a military dictator and he became our puppet," and concerning a much-criticized blog post about Paul, the New York Times now says that it "should not have been published." Plus: 'Ron Paul and the Foreign Policy Disconnect.'

Paul's stance on Pakistan echoes sentiments expressed earlier by Zbigniew Brzezinski, advising Sen. Barack Obama, and as Musharraf returns a call from John Edwards, Peggy Noonan declares Edwards to be "not reasonable," because he "spent two minutes on YouTube staring in a mirror and poofing his hair."

Mike Huckabee's campaign issues two clarifications on statements he made about Pakistan, Paul Krugman reminds candidates that 'It's not about you,' and a CNN blog post on comments by Obama strategist David Axelrod is headlined: "Did Hillary Clinton Kill Benazir Bhutto?"

As a Financial Times columnist declares that "If populism had material to work with in 2007, just wait for 2008," new home sales take 'A Stunning Slide,' and with 'Defaults moving beyond sub-prime,' reports the Los Angeles Times, "There's another time bomb waiting to explode, experts say: risky loans made to people with good credit."

A veteran journalist argues that "The media is a co-conspirator in a con, the Iowa caucuses ... a promotional device, just like the Rose Bowl is a way for Pasadena to pitch itself to the world," and an "old antiwar horse" is found to be "still kicking."

As John Mearsheimer participates in a debate on the Israel Lobby, the Los Angeles Times reports on a "drama both intimate and epic" over West Bank land, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert 'balks at full settlement halt,' and Physicians for Human Rights says that Israel is stalling on entry permits for terminally-ill patients from Gaza.

Top editors at Stars & Stripes are reportedly "asking for full disclosure of the paper's relationship with a Department of Defense publicity program," America Supports You, after the paper's bureau chiefs called for the acting publisher's resignation, because he refused to release documents about the program.

Mother Jones reviews 'The Year in Oversight,' Marjorie Cohn, alleging a 'Torture Tape Cover-Up,' asks, 'How high does it go?,' and having spotted "a formulation frequently used to avoid perjury charges," Harper's Scott Horton wonders, 'Did Bush watch the torture tapes?'

As a reading from "Brave New World" is said to have convinced President Bush to ban embryonic stem cell research, an abortion provider discusses the recent series of arsons at abortion clinics in Albuquerque, and an antiabortion group is promoting a video of the reenactment of the shotgun murder of an abortion provider and his escort.

With 'Bush associates still consolidating their hold on U.S. media,' J-school deans take on the FCC in arguing that "local television and radio stations should be doing their own news gathering," and Time is accused of covering up its inability to get Russian President Putin's date of birth correct.

GQ gets its man, George Saunders interviews him, and also asks readers to "consider Daniil Kharms, the Russian writer often described as an absurdist," whose "stories are truly odd, as in: at first you think they're defective."

Calling a book on the 13th Floor Elevators "a gut-wrenching glimpse into rock's unadulterated dark side," a reviewer notes that there's "little historical record of the group, save some old clips on YouTube and tall tales about the band's vocalist, Roky Erickson, one of rock's great lunatics."

And tribute is paid to 'the anti-Diana of 2007,' with "a voice sent from Aretha Franklin and the misery chords of Leonard Cohen. Thank 2007 for Amy - she just about managed to make the noughties look a bit naughty."

December 27

Monday, December 31, 2007

The next update will be January 3, 2008.

Arthur Brooks on how to have a happier new year: "But there is one special reason to give, beyond the noble goals of helping your favorite charity and beating back the voracious taxman. It is that your gifts will give you a happier new year."

"Democracy is the best revenge," proclaims Benazir Bhutto's son, as he along with Bhutto's husband, "Mr. 10 percent," as caretaker, extend family control of the Pakistan People's Party into a third generation, treating the party, in Tariq Ali's view, like "a family heirloom" and dimming prospects for democracy.

'Did someone say "grassy knoll?"' Amid conflicting accounts of how Bhutto was killed and the emergence of a video that's termed 'Pakistan's Zapruder film,' Andrew Bacevich considers how the assassination shatters the historical narrative undergirding the Bush administration's strategy of "militarized liberation."

Robert Fisk deplores how the media has trotted out "the 'good-versus-evil' donkey ... to explain the carnage in Rawalpindi," ignoring the fingers pointed at Musharraf. Along the way, Fisk cites some critical passages from Tariq Ali's earlier essay 'Daughter of the West,' which provides a critical counterpoint to the hagiography now surrounding 'a flawed and feudal princess.'

At the end of a 'bloody year' in Iraq -- in Dahr Jamail's view, the "worst year yet" -- where perceived gains are acknowledged to be "fragile and still reversible," Scott Ritter maintains that there will be no real resolution as long as American politicians continue to approach it "from a domestic political perspective."

From the Kurdish north of Iraq come reports of the exploitation of imported labor and and increase in suicides among women, while in Syria 'Iraqi refugees turn to sex trade' to survive.

With PR reportedly at the heart of the decisions to both make and destroy the CIA interrogation tapes, unanswered questions lead Glenn Greenwald to a diagnosis of 'oligarchic decay,' while Egyptian torture videos appear to shed light on U.S. rendition policies.

As the 'record industry goes after personal use' in court, one Oregon university is praised for fighting back for privacy in the battle over copyrights, and the U.S. is ranked alongside China and Russia as an "endemic surveillance society."

Of the top ten challenges facing the U.S. in the Middle East in 2008, Juan Cole puts lifting the siege of Gaza at no. 1., as an Israeli human rights organization takes stock of the deterioration of conditions in the Occupied Territories in 2007.

Bush makes a last minute move to veto -- or is it pocket veto -- a defense authorization bill that contained pay raises for troops because of a provision that would have made it easier or "Americans to seek financial compensation from countries that supported or sponsored terrorist acts,"

The New York Times adds right wing pundit Bill Kristol to its regular editorial line up, despite his vociferous attacks on the Times itself, and a problematic track record, in a hire that is said to demonstrate "how successfully the right has intimidated the mainstream media."

'When the old tricks stop working' David Sirota notes some inadvertent honesty in GOP responses to Mike Huckabee's economic populism, while Jay Rosen looks beyond "Huckenfreude" to how contrasting views of the "liberal media" show evidence of "contempt by conservative elites for yahoos in their own coalition."

Looking at a chart laying out the positions of the presidential candidates, Paul Krugman sees evidence of "the extent to which Republican politicians still cower before the power of movement conservatism," all three factions of which, Michael Tomasky notes, still have unfulfilled plans for the country on their agendas.

On "Meet the Press", Huckabee calls for outlawing abortions and criminalizing providers, and says that if voters want to know how his faith would influence his presidency "the best way to look at it is how I served as a governor." Plus: 'The Press, the Religious Right and the Wall of Separation.'

John "I am legend" McCain, who has long campaigned against special interests, is found to have some 'unlikely ties to K-Street,' with "more than 30 lobbyists among his chief fundraisers, more than any other presidential candidate."

Excluded from an upcoming GOP debate on Fox News, Ron Paul launches into the network as "propagandists for this war," as he takes his campaign to the sky and his followers march in the World of Warcraft.

Riding a "populist message," John Edwards surges in the Iowa caucuses, and he looks to a win to overcome his rivals' fundraising advantages. Plus: Glenn Greenwald on 'Michael Bloomberg: Trans-partisan savior.'

A New York Times review of a book attributed to an apostate atheist notes that "Far from strengthening the case for the existence of God, it rather weakens the case for the existence of Antony Flew," whose authorship of the book in question remains in some doubt.

Dec 28-30