February, 2002 link archive

As a federal judge orders the DOE to hand over 7,500 pages of energy task force documents to the Natural Resources Defence Council, Arianna Huffington writes that VP Cheney is waging war on the public's right to know.

Covering a Cheney campaign swing through California, Newsweek's Howard Fineman previews the GOP's red white and blue tactics for the November elections. Plus: Will Democrats get tough?

With President Bush currently sitting atop Mount Gallup, two Whitewater veterans say that Enron spin will define his presidency.

Public Citizen investigates "527 groups," named for an exemption in Section 527 of the tax code that allows corporations to give unlimited amounts of soft money directly -- instead of through political parties -- to members of Congress.

Homeland Securities Tom Ridge says he has no plans to sell stock that he owns in several companies lobbying the Bush administration for defense contracts.

Fox News sends stocks temporarily plummenting by mistakenly rerunning a report from last week -- subsequently denied by the Pentagon -- that placed U.S. troops on the ground in Iraq.

Stock traders who rely on Debka for their military intelligence, know that the first U.S. Special Forces moved into Iraq in mid-February. (2/23)

The "axis of evil" speechwriter claims that he originally penned "axis of hate."

Was President Bush playing politics when he decided to cozy up to figure skater Sasha Cohen during the Winter Olympic's opening ceremonies? Visit "Sasha's Corner" at Burger Town and view the beefy President.

A Texas gubernatorial candidate is charged with being a bad Democrat and a worse grammarian.

Roll Call reveals how advisers to Rep. Tom DeLay reaped an Enron windfall. Plus: Framing Enron.

Will Congress act to limit media monopolies?

The inventor of voicemail has died and Callcenter magazine pays tribute.

Meet the Jesse Ventura of Mexico. Plus: Canada just asks for it.

How society casts an accusing glare on parents whose children have outraged the public.

The U.S. strikes out on Afghan war prisoners, as the Pentagon concedes that it doesn't have enough evidence to identify any of the nearly 500 captives as suitable candidates for a military tribunal. Plus: Why do they hate us?

With the shuttering of the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence, a beautiful relationship is diminished.

Military analyst William Arkin takes Rumsfeld to task for showing "little sense of understanding the history of civilian casualties in recent conflicts involving U.S. forces."

How Afghan warlords feel about a national army and why the decisive factor in convincing them to back democracy may be U.S. B-52s.

Rep. Dennis Kucinich repudiates President Bush's war rationale, his "axis of evil" comments and the Patriot Act. In August, Kucinich proposed establishing a Department of Peace.

The Independent's Andrew Gumbel reports that now up to 2,000 people in the U.S. have been held since September 11, "a scandal that shames the land of the free."

Three dozen American-Somalis, who have been sent back to Somalia by the U.S. without charge or reason, are not welcome in Mogadishu: "These men are not Somalis. You can tell a mile off they are from America, and people here do not like Americans."

An American returning home after 14 months in Asia, writes that "the world is stunned to find the legacy of Sept. 11 is an enlarged American ego, not a chastened sense that we must try to co-exist better in the global community." But for many in the U.S., it's a different story.

The Guardian's Matthew Engel travels to Alabama to find out what "the average American" -- in this case, an Olive Garden diner named Steve -- thinks of Europeans.

Budget Buster The Pentagon is claiming a $30 billion war tab for fiscal year 2002, arguing that over the next seven months, it will need $12.6 billion more than Congress has already provided. The Afghanistan war is on track to become the most expensive combat operation since Vietnam.

Although the U.S. is reportedly running low on ammo, Debka predicts that, given recent troop movements, "America's full-scale military thrust against Saddam Hussein" should be good to go in two to four weeks. (2/23)

According to Debka -- in the above report -- and the Christian Science Monitor, Georgia could be the next flash point.

In a fascinating account of how "The Sheik" got away, Philip Smucker writes that in retrospect, Tora Bora "looks more like a grand charade, a deliberate ploy to cover bin Laden's quiet escape."

U.S. analysts say that bin Laden may have been duped too, by black-market weapons swindlers who they suspect sold him a nuclear bill of goods.

Reuters and the AP offer wildly conflicting reports on the first day of boot camp for the new Afghan army. Plus: CNN lowers itself into Fox hole.

A CNN news executive says that "In Afghanistan, we have more bodyguards than journalists.''

The risk that political leaders take by overplaying the God hand.

A dog owner reveals his passing fancy with cloning "Homer." Plus: Critiquing the arguments against cloning.

TV networks avoid covering Sen. Robert Torricelli's proposal to cut rates for political ads.

Mark Shields writes that "profits trump patriotism" for U.S. "corporate parasites" that set up offshore tax dodges.

Straw Huts & Sat Phones An Afghan spy network that spent four years keeping tabs on the Taliban and al-Qaeda, provided exaptriate leaders and the U.S. military with invaluable intelligence.

Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai's smoke and mirrors.

"The West Wing's" Aaron Sorkin on media misrepresentation of President Bush: "The Times and CNN and others on whom we rely for unvarnished objectivity are telling us, that 'My God! On September 12th he woke up as Teddy Roosevelt! He became the Rough Rider!' "

Is it time to cry 'politics' over the prospect of war without end?

Stratfor examines how the U.S.' "inevitable obsession with al-Qaeda" is creating conditions in which local instability is intensifying on a global basis.

Are U.S. tobacco companies in cahoots with terrorists to smuggle cigarettes into Iraq?

Scam In Sudan The Independent reports on an elaborate hoax involving fake African slaves.

Ding, Dong Frank Rich on the death of the 90's "cultural witch hunt."

A radio station for people who think Rush Limbaugh is too liberal.

Punditwatch distills hours of bloviation down to mere minutes.

How Ken Lay got in bed with Bill Clinton.

The U.S. Air Force has adopted "Let's Roll," for use as a logo on several aircraft. The Todd Beamer Foundation is trying to fend off others hoping to cash in on the phrase. Is President Bush overusing?

John Powers enters the abyss separating what's natural in the U.S. from what's naturel in France.

Copies of the videotape confirming Daniel Pearl's murder may soon be for sale in Pakistani shops. Plus: The chief suspect in Pearl's kidnapping was secretly indicted by the U.S. in November.

Tech's Toxic Trash A new report finds that 50 to 80 percent of electronics waste collected for recycling in the U.S. is shipped to poor nations, where it's reused or recycled under largely unregulated conditions.

Read the transcript of Michael Moore's jousting with Bill O'Reilly.

The disappearing promise of upward mobility for young white male workers.

Boarding Games A reporter monitors who gets frisked at LAX.

The FBI draws a bead on a suspect in the anthrax mailing.

Maureen Dowd on the Pentagon's fiction addiction.

Sneaking With the Enemy A Weekly Standard reporter gets a sneak peak at "Journeys With George," the documentary of George W. Bush as a merry-prankster campaigner, shot by the daughter of California Democratic congresswoman Nancy Pelosi.

The Bush administration has dropped a 24-year-old U.S. pledge not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states.

Jimmy Carter, who instituted the pledge, blasts Bush over his "axis of evil" phrase.

Evidence suggests that the U.S. military was duped into attacking Afghan targets of questionable military significance.

Berkeley sex-ed controversy debunked.

Satellite Subversives How an unlikely group of Iranian expats, broadcasting from a "hellhole of a TV station" in Hollywood, are helping to sow the seeds of revolution in Tehran.

A Houston TV station reports a former Enron employee's charge that the company maintained a fake trading floor, designed to trick analysts into believing business was booming.

Televangelist Pat Robertson describes Islam as a violent religion bent on world domination. Plus: Free electricity for true believers?

It'll cost you to read beyond the introduction to Joan Walsh's Salon argument that "the president has done nothing right since winning the war in Afghanistan," but the letters it prompted are free.

A humanitarian disaster is brewing in northern Afghanistan.

Mission Creep It may be good policy for the U.S. to take sides in an Afghan civil war, but is it legal?

U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld declines to apologize for the "unfortunate" deaths of 14 Afghans. Read the briefing transcript, in which he also denies that there will be a disinformation campaign from the Pentagon.

Is Rumsfeld's denial part of the new disinformation campaign?

Jonathan Alter, Nicholas Kristof, Howard Kurtz and the Wall Street Journal, on the death of Daniel Pearl. His reporting had a flair for the offbeat.

OsamaNet A new Arabic language Web site has started carrying statements and messages it says are by bin Laden.

Russia threatens to pull out of the Winter Games and E.R. Shipp asks: "Must we wave the flag in the whole world's face?"

A one-time Olympic hopeful is unable to stomach IOC's junk food co-branding with McDonald's and Coca-Cola. Plus: The super-sizing of America.

How campaign contributors got Olympic gold.

As the public shows a growing interest in the Enron scandal, the White House signals a willingness to go to the mat over the GAO's lawsuit seeking details of energy task force meetings.

President Bush faces tough questions in a university appearance broadcast live on Chinese state television, and gets a warning from President Jiang -- don't "bully" Iraq.

Michael Moore chronicles his book tour for "Stupid White Men."

What the tax rebate giveth, line 47 taketh away.

Reparations activists finger corporations with slavery in their past.

CNN further Foxifies its lineup by adding moral watchdog and grant hound William Bennett.

Toxic TV Eric Alterman on 'celebrating' the twentieth anniversary of "The McLaughlin Group": "We might as well 'celebrate' the discovery of anthrax."

The New York Times broaches the not ready for prime time subject of warlords and pedophilia in Afghanistan.

As the Israeli cabinet backs a greater use of death squads, Palestinians adopt a new strategy, in an attempt to deflect international criticism and to avoid being branded as terrorists. More on the Palestinian's guerilla warfare strategy.

An Israeli Jew and a Palestinian Muslim risk harassment, jail and death for their love.

Robert Fisk on why Europe must stop parroting the American script: "Let us have done with crusades and the 'war on terror.' Let's have some justice in the Middle East. For Israelis and Palestinians alike."

The Chechens are victims of the war on terror, writes Eric Margolis, and the U.S. has chosen the side of reaction and repression.

ABC and the Pentagon are teaming up for a new prime-time "reality" show profiling U.S. military personnel. Says one critic: a military conflict "needs to be covered by journalists, not by entertainers."

The Miami Herald's TV critic lambastes CNN for a how-to piece suggesting ways to circumvent the U.S. ban on travelling to Cuba, and Oliver Stone goes "Looking for Fidel."

Consumer advocates respond angrily and media stocks rise, following the federal court ruling on conglomerating the TV audience. More on the imminent merger mania.

Florida family "honored" to be named first recipients of ID chip implants.

Media types staking out Chez Lay in Houston are egged and insulted by toney neighbors.

Under the threat of death, a former Taliban minister wants to talk, but U.S. intelligence won't listen. Plus: A new CIA report warns of war among the warlords in Afghanistan.

How the U.S. is making a monster out of John Walker Lindh.

An Australian journalist describes being "PNG'd," -- declared persona non grata -- in Afghanistan. Plus: 2002 Afghan opium output expected to be equivalent to bumper crop of three years ago.

When e-Bay's moratorium on selling World Trade Center memorabilia ended on December 31, the flood gates opened. See the 1000 plus WTC or World Trade Center items for sale.

It's trade show time at Mardis Gras, with Snoop Dogg and the tummy shirt girls.

Big Get Bigger A federal appeals court has rejected an FCC ruling that limits corporate ownership of TV stations to 35% of U.S. households, raising the likelihood of a new wave of merger mania. More on the changing media landscape.

Attorney General Ashcroft plays to his audience, by casting the war on terrorism in religious terms during a speech at the National Religious Broadcasters convention. The president of the NRB was forced to resign after saying that he wanted to make the group less political.

With access to $130 million in endowments, annual revenues of $41 million, and a fiscal year 2000 surplus of $7.4 million, why does the nation's richest public radio station keep asking listeners for money? More on "Money Public Radio."

Plus: "Why I won't be donating to MPR".

Saudi Arabian leaders, unhappy with what they consider to be Al-Jazeera's favorable coverage of their not-so-favorite son, have reportedly pressured advertisers -- including multinationals Ford and PepsiCo -- to yank their ads from the network.

An organization that is said to have close ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, claims that bin Laden and Mullah Omar are still alive. Plus: The CIA keeps spinning in an attempt to place bin Laden or another tall Arab at the scene of a drone missile attack.

No organization spins as wildly as the North Korean News Agency.

Follow President Bush's Asian tour with e-mail dispatches from a BBC reporter who's "travelling with the president."

President Bush is Ramboized on the cover of Germany's Der Spiegel.

The "Tonight Show" audience "cheers wildly" as VP Cheney explains the president's "axis of evil" remark. Earlier: Cheney photographed celebrating 61st birthday.

The Guardian's Matthew Engel writes that "More starkly than the present differences over foreign policy, nothing illustrates the gap between European and American perceptions quite like Ronald Reagan's reputation."

War Riddles Ten questions the media can't answer.

Does the FBI know the identity of the anthrax mailer?

Read an interview with New York media critic Michael Wolff, on the business of media, the selling of the war, Enron coverage, the FOX/CNN rivalry and his favorite print pundits. Find Wolff's columns here.

The addition of "hotties and hotheads" makes personality the real news on cable.

As the Enron probe spreads to Wall Street, read how business reporters largely missed the company's impending fall.

The attorney for EnronOwnstheGOP.com responds to an attempt by the Texas Republican party to shut down the parody website that satirizes Enron's alleged ownership of the party.

William Safire reacts to Washington D.C.'s plans to install an unprecedented SpyCam network: "To be watched at all times, especially when doing nothing seriously wrong, is to be afflicted with a creepy feeling."

Milosevic wins praise for trial lawyer debut.

Andy Rooney and Wayne Gretzky on "why they hate us."

The Washington Post continues its better late than never collateral damage tour of Afghanistan.

Pentagon officials criticize the recently created Office of Strategic Influence, charging that it could blur the distinction between public affairs and covert operations.

If the cause is just, why not just tell the truth?

PBS' "NewsHour" examines U.S. broadcasts and ad campaigns designed to counter anti-American sentiment in the Arab world.

Slate's Robert Wright on how unilateralism works against America by making it "the world's designated flak catcher," and Studs Terkel on fighting terrorism.

Why is Washington so obsessed with Saddam Hussein? Plus: Road tripping on Iraq's "highway of death."

For Iraq invasion, the Saddam devil is in the Pentagon details.

Iraq's plan to build a 100,000 seat sports stadium is seen as a signal that it intends to make a bid to host the 2012 Olympics.

Corporate sponsors play their own war games at the 2002 Olympics and a security guard blogs from the front lines.

The danger of journalists as patriots and the Fourth Estate's one-eighty on President Bush.

The White House's mixed signals to the media concerning family privacy.

Former President George H.W. Bush: out of office and in the money.

Shakeout at 11! Oversupply of indistinguishable local TV newscasts meets advertising downturn.

The Alliance for Better Campaigns responds to a broadcasting industry lobbying blitz that stripped the Shays-Meehan campaign finance bill of a provision that would have reduced the cost of political ads.

Blobbo Box Office Bitch magazine's Marissa Meltzer chronicles "one of the most disturbing and offensive cinematic trends in recent memory: the fat suit."

U.S. launches new accusations of Iranian arming and financing of anti-government fighters in Afghanistan. Read the transcript of a Ray Suarez interview with Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan.

With an ever-diminishing number of al-Qaeda and Taliban targets to strike, the U.S. military is now bombing local militias that are purportedly opposed to the Karzai-led government.

Afghan authorities condemn British peacekeepers for opening fire on a taxi taking a woman in labor to the hospital.

How President Bush's world view could lead to war without end.

As the CIA director reportedly tells Egypt's president that the U.S. has already decided to attack Iraq, Chris Matthews asks: Who hijacked the war on terrorism? Plus: Iraqis fear life going from bad to worse.

The editor of Die Zeit explains why Europe is wary of war in Iraq.

The U.S. State Department takes issue with MTV's depiction of Colin Powell as the sole moderate in an administration of hard-line hawks.

A gaffe by President Bush -- mixing up devaluation and deflation -- during a press conference with Japan's Prime Minister, sends the yen briefly lower. The official White House transcript includes a rare footnote to correct the error.

Robert Fisk on the "pit of desperation" that Arab nations are lost in: "They cannot criticise U.S. policy, however outrageous they believe it to be, because they are all beholden to it."

The CNN reporter who interviewed John Walker after he was captured in Afghanistan, says that prosecutors are falsely attributing comments contained in the video's narration to Walker, to make him appear more knowledgeable about al-Qaeda.

Ann Coulter's call for executing Walker "in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them realize that they can be killed too," prompts a proposal for "liberal re-education camps." Plus: The myth of America's red vs. blue electoral map.

Iran's foreign ministry is denying an Iranian newspaper's report that bin Laden's number two man, Egyptian militant Ayman al-Zawahiri, has been captured and jailed in Tehran.

As it becomes safe to criticize the Pentagon, war coverage takes a negative turn.

Sen. Harry Reid accuses President Bush of having lied during the 2000 campaign on the issue of storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Read Bush's September 2000 letter to Nevada's governor.

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith writes that "Around these parts, you learn to live with the dirty looks and disrespect from Washington, the Bible Belt and the whole damn nation during an election year." Plus: Vegas abandons "family-friendly" pretense.

Unholy Alliance The Washington Post has uncovered a memo from Ralph Reed to Enron, in which he offered to help promote deregulation of the electricity industry, in part, by mobilizing religious leaders and pro-family groups for the cause.

U.S. taxpayers take it in the shorts, as a growing number of companies incorporate in Bermuda.

How Bill Clinton stokes the engines of commerce, for $100,000 a pop.

Seth Sandronsky on corporate capitalism's terrible twins: American economic contraction and militaristic expansion.

No trouble finding a cab in economically contracted Buenos Aires -- everyone's driving one.

"If you're having trouble keeping up with the Olympian scandals in Washington," writes Frank Rich, "just think of the Republicans and the Democrats as the French and the Russians and all the rest of us as Canadians. But at least those Canadians got their gold back."

A Kenyan diamond mine owner, in Belgian custody, is offering up details about business dealings between al-Qaeda and one of the world's largest arms trafficking operations, run by a Russian broker named Victor Bout.

How the Taliban and al-Qaeda looted Afghanistan's banks and national coffers, transferring millions of dollars to Dubai, where the assets were converted to gold bullion.

With Las Vegas' gold mine being threatened by President Bush's choice of Yucca Mountain as the repository for 77,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste, Nevadans go on high alert to protect their turf.

Dear George, The Smoking Gun has posted the just-released correspondence between Kenneth Lay and George W. Bush, during the years that Bush served as governor of Texas.

IOC officials blast U.S. and President Bush over jingoism and heavy-handed security at Olympics.

Afghan refugees go on the block at a Pakistani slave auction.

Bucks Not Bombs Witnesses report that U.S. aircraft in southern Afghanistan are dropping $100 bills tucked into envelopes bearing a picture of President Bush.

How serious are recent U.S. military blunders in Afghanistan?

Cheering Afghans celebrate Karzai's new choice for governor of Paktia province, as the country's transport and tourism minister is beaten to death by angry Haj pilgrims.

Karzai absolves pilgrims, accuses government officials in killing.

Why did the New York Times scrub a September 9 article on Osama bin Laden from its Web site?

That was then, this is now: How Army Secretary Thomas E. White's Web site biography was changed to downplay his Enron connection.

Al Gore slams the Bush administration's environmental plan. Read his statement. Plus: Paul Krugman explains how the plan's proposed reduction in greenhouse gas "intensity" will actually increase greenhouse gas emissions.

Masochistic Capitalists Naomi Klein writes that "over the course of only three years, Davos has been transformed from a festival of shamelessness to an annual parade of public shaming, a dour capitalist S&M parlour."

Read Marc Cooper's dispatches from Davos' alternative, Pôrto Alegre, Brazil.

Public financing is the only true campaign finance reform argues Marie Cocco: "If you want a government by the people and for the people, then the people have to pay the bill."

According to a U.S. Public Interest Research Group study, proposed campaign finance legislation would have had no impact on political contributions from Enron and Arthur Andersen.

A new Zogby poll finds that respondents strongly favor rolling back the tax cut if it means more money for government programs. Read the transcript of Sen. Edward Kennedy's National Press Club speech, in which he proposes a $350 billion rollback.

A Canadian newspaper conglomerate is in a free-speech row with writers.

U.S. officials tell the New York Times that a 30-year-old Palestinian, Abu Zubaydah, has taken over as al-Qaeda's military chief and is planning new attacks. If it's true that previous chief Muhammad Atef is dead, why is he still on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorists?

Arianna Huffington on the real threat to our food supply.

The National Association of Broadcasters shows its lobbying muscle by torching a campaign finance bill amendment that would have tightened an existing law requiring political broadcasting to be sold at a preferential rate. Read about the NAB's behind-the-scenes jockeying to win the vote.

Lou Dobbs, host of CNN's "Moneyline," has been dumbfounding correspondents with his on-air jousting over campaign finance reform and Enron.

Following up on a Philadelphia Inquirer report that President Bush has decided to oust Saddam Hussein, the Guardian outlines an operation involving up to 200,000 troops. An intelligence source says it will follow U.S. demands for a stringent program of weapons inspections that Iraq will find unacceptable.

But former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter writes that Iraq has already called Bush's bluff, by showing a willingness to discuss the issue of inspectors, and raising the question as to whether a U.S. call for them "has been merely rhetorical, a verbal foil designed to support the primary policy objective of removing Hussein from power."

A key Iraqi opposition leader just says no to any U.S. invasion plan.

Pakistan's Dawn editorializes that "only an enemy of America would recommend a second Gulf war."

Washington DC police are using 9/11 as the justification for an unprecedented SpyCam network.

Hardcore promophiles stalk Olympic venues. Plus: Miss America's unhappy reign.

How Wall Street marketed Enron's partnerships. View a partnership blueprint.

Were you really surprised about Enron?

The Los Angeles Times reports that Ahmad Omar Saeed Sheikh, who told an anti-terrorism court in Karachi that Daniel Pearl is dead, may not have been the main player in Pearl's kidnapping.

An intrigue-filled, but dubiously sourced UPI report, places bin Laden at the site of last week's CIA Hellfire missile attack.

Almost four months after Human Rights Watch reported on a U.S. bombing raid that survivors say killed 21 members of two families, including 17 infants and other children, the New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Times all feature the incident -- on the same day!

Slate's Eric Umansky, noting a similar coincidence from Monday, writes: "So unless the NYT, WP, and LAT spontaneously decided to go on a hiking trip together, somebody seems to be organizing a Collateral Damage Tour. If that's the case, the papers should simply say so." (Scroll down)

Broadcasters are lobbying hard to remove a provision in the campaign financing bill requiring them to give politicians their lowest advertising rates. Read their talking points and the Alliance for Better Campaigns' news release. Plus: Last minute manuevering over Shays-Meehan.

The Financial Times reports that the Justice Department is seeking an immunity deal with an ex-Enron accountant who's described as a potential "ace in the hole" witness.

What the U.S. news media has missed about the Bush-Lay coziness.

Quoting "senior U.S. officials," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Bush has decided to oust Saddam Hussein from power, and "ordered the CIA, Pentagon and other agencies to devise a combination of military, diplomatic and covert steps to achieve that goal."

Talkin' Turkey Thomas Friedman commends Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for being "crazier" than terrorists.

In an Economist profile of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a former colleague says "Hawk doesn't do him justice. What about velociraptor?" Wolfowitz now has his own card in the "American Crusade" collection.

The toy industry isn't playing around either. View the complete line of "American Freedom Fighter" action figures, including Tora Bora "Ted."

The Guardian reports that Taliban and al-Qaeda forces evaded U.S. military operations in Afghanistan by crossing the border into Pakistan and escaping along a drug smuggling route to Iran -- with many Arabs making it back home to Gulf countries.

The Great Game: Oil, Sharon and the Axis of Evil. Plus: Israel bombs out Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners.

FBI snubs Foggy Bottom on terror alert.

"Fresh Air's" Terry Gross discusses her dustup with Gene Simmons. Simmons' fans and foes respond at GeneSimmons.com You can download an MP3 of the interview or read a partial transcript here.

Dylan wins "28th or 29th" annual Pazz & Jop Critics' Poll.

Better Olympics coverage eh? The view from north of the border.

As Ken Lay takes the Fifth, one senator cites unfair comparison to carnival barkers: "a carny will at least tell you up front that he's running a shell game."

As the black and white phase of the Afghanistan campaign turns to shades of gray, the Pentagon admits that it's battling a fog of confusion.

The Associated Press estimates a lower civilian death toll in Afghanistan than previous reports, as the Guardian launches its own investigation to determine how many innocent people are dying.

Talk of civilian casualties edges towards primetime.

Geov Parrish on what was missing from the New York Times late report on civilian casualties.

Forbes also criticizes the New York Times, for its "remarkable front-page bouquet to Robert Rubin," over his intervention on Enron's behalf.

Davos Exposed! After five days at the World Economic Forum, Harper's publisher John MacArthur found it to be more about "the hollowness of public relations, the hot air of advertising and the monotony of mutual congratulation," than the exercise of raw power.

In "The Company Presidency," Kevin Phillips provides a detailed accounting of how Enron and the Bush family have boosted each other up the ladder of success.

Joshua Micah Marshall on the prospects for naming names of those who invested in Enron's outside partnerships.

As the White House reportedly works to scuttle campaign finance legislation, David Corn asks: "Is pseudo campaign reform better than none?"

In an interview on the PBS "Newshour," Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle criticized President Bush's "axis of evil" rhetoric and said that he didn't think "the case has yet been made" for military action against Iraq.

As President Bush lines up support for a confrontation with Iraq, Al-Hayat reports that the U.S. has already picked Saddam Hussein's successor.

Read the text of the FBI's terror attack warning.

Walt Brasch on the synergizing of America.

America's "biggest" media critic lectures reporters over "bias."

Why local television news is no longer the dependable cash cow that it once was.

Drilldo! Salon reports on the industrialization of sex toys.

If it's Tuesday, this must be carnival, in Rio, Aruba, Duesseldorf, Venice, and New Orleans -- with Gandhis, bin Ladens, George W. and Barbara Bush. And the most popular masks?

Gigantisme Militaire An Observer report on American power asks: "Is Bush's awesome increase in military spending a reasonable response to the aftermath of 9/11, or is he creating a force almost too powerful for its own good?" Foreign policy wonks weigh in.

All Aboard A Bush administration plan to oust Saddam Hussein takes shape.

Released Afghan prisoners tell of beating and abuse by U.S. soldiers.

Poor Man's Osama Villagers say that the "al-Qaeda officials" who the Pentagon speculated may have been hit last week by a missile fired from a CIA-run Predator drone, were actually three peasants out gathering scrap metal.

An Algerian Islamic radical arrested in Paris is reportedly spilling the beans about al-Qaeda operatives and operations.

As Afghanistan's foreign minister warns that the Taliban are regrouping, a high-ranking official reveals how Taliban leaders escaped to Pakistan. Plus: A day at the opium bazaar.

Michael Kinsley asks: "how did the 'war on terrorism' change focus so quickly from rooting out and punishing the perpetrators of 9/11, to doing something about nuclear proliferation?"

Kinsley steps down as editor of Slate.

"Ambling into History," a forthcoming book by New York Times reporter Frank Bruni, shows President Bush to be "largely unaware of culture -- high, pop and maybe even yogurt." Plus: Bo Derek's cultural ascendancy.

Prankster in Chief "Journeys With George," an unauthorized campaign documentary, has Bush aides nervous because it depicts the president as a frat boy cutup.

Al Who? Jack Germond on Gore's announcement that he's rejoining "the national debate."

While Sharon fails to provide peace or security, the peace camp in Israel fires the opening salvo of a new campaign.

On CNN's "Reliable Sources," Bob Woodward responds to criticism of his and Dan Balz's "10 Days in September" series, and Lewis Lapham and Jonah Goldberg debate the issue of American journalists as cheerleaders.

The New Republic parodies Woodward and the Weekly Standard sends-up bloggers.

Will Vehrs watches the pundits so you don't have to.

Norman Solomon on American journalism's "class act."

Salon's Gary Kamina writes that NBC is "grubbing for eyeballs" with its Winter Olympics coverage.

Howard Kurtz on how the Houston Chronicle has been slow to respond to Enron's meltdown.

Enron motivational tchotchkes make for ironic art exhibit.

U.S. right wingers declare war on Robert Altman over anti-American statements.

In a New York Times examination of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, former army intelligence analyst William Arkin says that the subject ties the military in knots: "It's an irritant, and they avoid it."

"Let's Roll" The trademark battle is on over Todd Beamer's last known words.

Bowen Smith notes that since 9/11, there have been no military enlistments "from the ranks of our political, industrial, media, or entertainment elites."

The CIA launches a patriotic program in Afghanistan -- compensating the families of innocent victims with cash.

The EU commissioner in charge of international relations delivers a scathing attack on U.S. foreign policy, calling on European governments to speak up and stop Washington before it goes into "unilateralist overdrive."

Sen. Ernest Hollings makes the case for a Special Counsel to investigate Enron.

A former fast food junkie's tour of repentance.

As Utah goes on war footing, with more U.S. troops deployed around Salt Lake City than in Afghanistan, Mormons try to maintain a sense of humor over the beating they're taking in the media.

Ex-Enronites rip Skilling's story at hearings. One former worker in attendance said of Fastow: "He won't even look over here." Full text here. Plus: Skilling's high-stakes strategy.

Empire strikes back over use of "Star Wars"-related names for Enron partnerships.

Eric Alterman on the "decade of decadence."

An otherwise routine budget hearing turned "unusually bitter and personal," as Treasury Secretary O'Neill and Sen. Robert Byrd squared-off over administration rhetoric, congressional procedure and their impoverished childhoods.

Russ Baker on the Bush administration's "overarching obsession with secrecy." Plus: Nixon, Clinton and Bush as one.

VP Dick Cheney's journey from asset to albatros.

Propaganda War Nicholas Kristof travels to the Philippines and reports that the U.S. is sending 660 troops and $100 million to battle "a gang of about 60 brutal thugs," who in recent years have had "no proven links to al-Qaeda."

Does President Bush's "axis of evil" mask U.S. uncertainty about what to do after Afghanistan?

Harper's posts an excerpt from the prison diary of Ahmad Omar Sayed Sheikh, the main suspect in the abduction of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby lambastes NPR for freezing-out ubiquitous terrorism talking head Steven Emerson. Salon reported on Emerson's role in smearing professor Sami Al-Arian. More on the controversial Emerson from the Village Voice and Extra!.

Although it's estimated that the average citizen is already caught on a closed-circuit camera 300 times a day, the number of cameras is predicted to increase tenfold in the next five years. Emerging "presence technology" will pick up where CCTV leaves off.

Tivo's business isn't limited to selling digital recorders, it also hawks customers' viewing habits to marketers. More on Tivo's data collection. Plus: How companies pushing the envelope on monitoring technology have become emboldened following 9/11.

The U.S.' Hare Krishnas are headed toward Chapter 11 in the wake of a $400 million lawsuit alleging sexual and emotional abuse.

"Is America about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?" asks The Times of London's Anatole Kaletsky. "The greatest danger to America's dominant position today is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is the arrogance of American power."

Only War in Town France's foreign minister attacks the U.S. over its support for Israel and says that "We are threatened today by a new simplism which consists in reducing everything to the war on terrorism."

Limousine Liberal The Weekly Standard reports on Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee's curious commuting habits -- being chauffered the one block from home to office. Lee was number two on the list of House members receiving Enron money. Complete list: "This table may take several minutes to load."

Raising the possibility that Osama bin Laden was killed by a missile fired from a CIA drone, CBS reports that "bin Laden and his top lieutenants are believed to have been hiding at Zawar Khili since escaping the bombing of Tora Bora two months ago."

CBS doesn't say how it came to believe that bin Laden has been holed up there for two months, but a search of its Web site finds that the above report is the first mention of "Zawar Khili," in an archive that extends back many years.

CNN releases the complete transcript of Al-Jazeera's October interview with bin Laden.

The Washington Times reports that dozens of Afghan warlords were given $200,000 payments and satellite phones to secure their cooperation in the war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The warlords transferred the money via hawala, the underground banking system that the U.S. government sees as an obstacle in the war on terrorism.

Tragically Insignificant David Hall writes that the attention paid to John Walker Lindh "trivializes journalism and its duty to cover the nascent concern over terrorism. John Walker will receive legal due process, but due process has been denied to Americans seeking news."

Cosmetic Buzz During her first day on the job, Greta Van Susteren told fellow FOX News Channel host Bill O'Reilly why her cosmetic surgery is good for ratings: "I know it's created this extraordinary buzz. And buzz in our business, as you know, may grow our viewers."

Van Susteren loses viewers as "plastic surgery lookie-loos" tune out.

Get Real As a kidnapping plays out on the world stage, "Kidnapping" plays on MTV. Plus: hard news at the Wall Street Journal.

How a public television employee discourages viewer complaints.

Croatia's secret service has leaked transcripts of Slobodan Milosevic's telephone conversations, including one in which President Clinton told him: "I think I can count on you."

Joshua Micah Marshall on the Bush administration's willingness to abandon its principle of protecting documents when it's politically advantageous: "Clinton-era records that tarnish the former president's reputation are offered up with alacrity, while those that might cast him in a better light are hoarded as executive-branch secrets."

Win Win While the number of Americans with million-dollar incomes more than doubled between 1995 and 1999, the percentage of their income that went to federal income taxes fell by 11 percent.

Spilling the Beans A self-described chef for Osama bin Laden, who claims to have been with him at Tora Bora, says that bin Laden has traveled into Iran, but that his eventual destination is probably Azerbaijan or Chechnya.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld says there's no question that al-Qaedaites are in Iran, which has asked the U.S. to "give us any information they have so that we can go after them."

In an interview with the Washington Post, Afghan leader Harmid Karzai says that innocent people were killed by the U.S. in a Special Forces raid last month, and a convoy bombing of tribal elders in December.

In characterizing the proposed military budget as an "Orgy of Defense Spending," Robert Scheer argues that "we need sharper agents, not more expensive equipment. There is not an item in the Bush budget that will make us more secure from the next terrorist attack."

Norman Solomon writes that the Washington press corp has cut FDR down to size in its attempt to build up GWB.

KISS and (Don't) Make Up Terry Gross and Gene Simmons mix it up in a name-calling confrontation that's uncharacteristically not available on the "Fresh Air" Web site. NPR says it's because Simmons refused to grant Internet rights for the interview. (Feb. 6 letter).

Like most "Fresh Air" interviews, it was probably conducted long distance.

Field of Nightmares The Houston Astros seek a court order to get out of its naming-rights agreement with Enron, as New York's mayor discloses a plan to offer corporate naming rights for areas in city parks.

The New York Times profiles Andrew Fastow, the finance wizard behind Enron's myriad partnerships. He was referred to by one legislator as the "Betty Crocker of cooked books."

Fastow boasted about his role in keeping debt off Enron's balance sheet in a 1999 interview with CFO, the same year that he won the magazine's "Excellence Award for Capital Structure Management."

Enron debacle not all bad for business.

Is the war against "axis of evil" states a cover for corporate corruption?

Robert Kuttner on the one political figure who looks prophetic these days.

Faster, Higher, Stronger Corporate sponsorship reaches new levels at the Salt Lake City Games. Plus: Utah braces for caricature by the international media.

The Financial Times reports on a sport that's gaining momentum in France.

How "Mediasaurus Rex" adapted to avoid extinction.

Although President Bush's "approval" ratings continue to scrape the sky, a Los Angeles Times poll finds that 84% of respondents oppose implementing the tax cut if it means tapping Social Security and increasing the national debt -- as Bush's budget proposes for the next three years.

Standing Soft David Corn investigates how well the U.S. adheres to the "non-negotiable demands of human dignity" that President Bush, in his State of the Union speech, proclaimed "the country will always stand firm for."

Corn references a Washington Post profile of an immigrant from the Ivory Coast whose tale is "modern-day Kafka," a New York Times decimation of the Pentagon's spin of a bungled Special Forces raid, and his Los Angeles Times op-ed proposing compensation for Afghan civilian bombing victims.

$1,000 a Head An NPR report from the scene of that Special Forces raid -- which the Pentagon has yet to explain, beyond admitting that it was a mistake -- includes a photograph of an Afghan man holding ten $100 bills that he says were given to him by the U.S. as compensation for the death of his brother.

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, interviewed on PBS' "NewsHour," discusses the war on terrorism and the U.S. defense budget, which, if new spending proposals are passed, will equal the combined military spending of the next 16 countries. Plus: Picturing the Budget.

Paul Krugman writes that "No politician hoping for re-election will dare to say it, but the administration's new motto seems to be 'Leave no defense contractor behind.'"

How the war in Afghanistan is handy politics for President Bush.

War Is Peace Bush and Blair nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.

Norman Mailer talks to the Guardian about the war on terrorism, Enron, Mike Tyson and why "machismo isn't that easy to wear."

In a BBC interview, Mailer says 9/11 was "larger than the atom bomb," and that the U.S. takes solace in having an evil enemy: "If you're half-evil, nothing soothes you more than to think the person you are opposed to is totally evil."

As of Wednesday, you will be breaking the law by possessing food made with hemp, thanks to a DEA ruling that bans even trace amounts of THC in food products.

The Canadian snowboarder who was temporarily stripped of his Gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics after testing positive for marijuana, has been banned from traveling to Salt Lake City by U.S. immigration officials.

Live Fast, Die Big Rolling Stone examines the teenage drug subculture of legal steroid substitutes and speed.

As a "major breakthrough" in the Daniel Pearl kidnapping case falls through, Robert Fisk calls on bin Laden to help secure Pearl's release.

Theories on why Pearl was kidnapped include "U.S. hubris" and payback for the Wall Street Journal's sharing of intelligence with the U.S. government.

European leaders warn the U.S. that they will oppose military action against "axis of evil" states. Plus: Slate's Robert Wright on the "Axis of Incoherence."

"Enron looms as the Big Kahuna, the tsunami of modern corruption scandals," writes Sean Wilentz. "At its root are the neo-robber-baron politics and mentality that the Reaganites ushered in, the Gingrichites expanded, and the Bush administration now advances so smugly and dogmatically."

Feast During Famine How corporate execs are making themselves recession proof.

Molly Ivins finds parallels between President Bush's oil patch days and stock-dumping by Enron higher ups. More on George W. Bush's business success story.

The Bush administration asks the ABA to not take a position on military tribunals, as the U.S. convinces the U.N. to forego its traditional call for an Olympic truce.

U.S. officials express frustration over the virtual absence of intelligence on bin Laden's whereabouts.

Was the U.S.' military plan responsible for letting him slip away?

As Afghan interim leader Hamid Karzai calls for an end to warlordism, a Time report echoes Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's assertion that Iran helped Taliban and al-Qaeda members escape from Afghanistan.

President Bush's State of the Union speech brings unity -- to Iran.

You can't tell the players without a (war on terrorism) scorecard.

Unaware that a translator was listening, an Afghan official spoke candidly about the unraveling of the Northern Alliance coalition.

Alexander Cockburn on the return of pederasty to Kandahar, as reported by the Times of London and The New Yorker. The Washington Post concedes only that "now, some in Kandahar say the practice could flourish again."

"America did, in Afghanistan, what had to be done, and did it well," writes Salman Rushdie. "The bad news, however, is that these successes have not won new friends for the U.S. outside Afghanistan."

Red, White and Phew! Geov Parish critiques FOX's Super Bowl coverage and finds that "patriotism and warfare and corporate branding were very much considered interchangeable, all part of a spectacle suffused with smarmy jingoistic bullshit."

A press release proudly touts a company's deal with the NFL to "power a virtual first down line" for the international Super Bowl feed.

Arianna Huffington writes that media covererage of the World Economic Forum missed the story by focusing on rabble rousers outside of the event. More on the WEF's left turn.

Newsweek uncovers an additional meeting between a Cheney staffer and Enron, set up by a lobbyist whose brother is the White House chief of staff. Plus: Getting Cheney's ear and how the VP channels Clinton with "lectures, and legalisms, and carefully worded denials."

Scientists debate human evolution: Is this as good as it gets?

Gore returns to the fray, unleashing a "searing critique" of President Bush's policies. Plus, an election year prediction: As Democrats try to capitalize on voters' return to domestic concerns, Bush will try to yank them back to the war.

Can America's love affair with "old 43" endure?

Bono and Bill Gates tag team Treasury Secretary O'Neill over U.S. aid to poor nations.

Al-Jazeera says it never aired the bin Laden interview because it was conducted under duress and the questions were dictated to its correspondent. One day before the interview, VP Cheney warned Al-Jazeera that it ran the risk of being labeled "Osama's outlet to the world."

An internal report filed by a special committee of Enron's board of directors fingers top management for failing to supervise partnerships and covering up nearly $1 billion losses in the 12 months that ended last September.

"Enron may be as much a cultural scandal as it is a business and political scandal," writes Frank Rich. "What we see is a world in which insiders get to play by one set of rules while the unconnected and uninitiated pick up the bill."

Neal Gabler asks: "Whatever happened to good old-fashioned class-based politics pitting haves against have-nots?"

Greg Palast on the "rotteness" of energy deregulation and why he sheds no tears for Enron's "po' widdle stockholders."

Taking the secrets of the Sabra and Chatila massacre to the grave. Plus: Yasir Arafat spells out the Palestinian vision of peace.

Israelis react to Arafat's "vision" op-ed as more combat reservist officers add their names to a petition calling on soldiers to refuse to serve in the occupied territories.

An AP report on the Pentagon's fessing up to the death of innocents during a U.S. commando raid last week offers a chronicle of changing military spin.

Shakespeare to Buchanan to Bush: "Upon what meat has this our Caesar fed that he has grown so great?"

Coverage of the World Economic Forum, from the streets to the suites.

Axis of Egos Howard Rosenberg on the "new personality-obsessed, format-fixated, talk-driven, graphics-screaming, self-adoring, dumbed-down, less-news-is-good-news CNN."

Fresh off its first monthly ratings loss to FOX News, CNN kicked off February sweeps by airing an interview with Osama bin Laden. It was conducted on October 21 by an Al-Jazeera correspondent, but the network never ran it.

Al-Jazeera accuses CNN of obtaining and broadcasting the tape illegally and says it is now severing relations with the station. Read Al-Jazeera's statement.

In December, the New York Times reported that Al-Jazeera had the interview, but decided not to broadcast it, partly because it revealed how much bin Laden had intimidated its correspondent. The decision also followed a meeting between VP Cheney and the Emir of Qatar.

The Times of London reports that al-Qaeda and Hezbollah are discussing the transfer of al-Qaeda's operations to Lebanon.

Warlord Padsha Khan, who Hamid Karzai appointed as governor of Paktia Province, has been rebuffed in his attempt to take Gardez, but he vowed to make the city suffer: "I'll kill them all, humans and animals."

On Thursday it was widely reported that nuclear power plants could be the target of an airliner attack. Friday's New York Post headline screams "Nuke Plot," even though the story on the inside reveals that the warning was a mistake, based on information received several months ago.

Gotcha! A new ABC/Washington Post poll finds that Republicans are 50% more likely to be on the lookout for terrorists than Democrats and Independents. The most vigilant demographic group is people with annual incomes of $100k or more.

North Carolina Democrats are airing an ad attacking senate candidate Elizabeth Dole for attending a September 20 fundraiser hosted by Kenneth Lay, after stating that she had put campaign activities on hold following 9/11. The Winston-Salem Journal editorializes.

Lay has said that he gave the White House a list of favored candidates for positions on the Federal Energy Regularory Commission (FERC), two of whom were chosen. He disclosed the existence of the list in a May interview that will air Friday on "NOW with Bill Moyers".

One of Lay's picks was Pat Wood, who was named FERC chairman in August, replacing Curt Hebert. Wood, Hebert, Lay, former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling and VP Cheney were all interviewed for a "Frontline" special on the California power crisis.

Robert Novak writes that President Bush's "dedication to the Texas buddy system" was more important than Lay's influence in getting Wood the FERC job, but that Wood "has not disappointed Enron." Plus: Enron execs still flying high.

March, 2002 Link Archive