It's hard to believe it's only one day since I last blogged. So much has gone on. Please make a point to visit Mike's blog Mikey Likes It! to get his take on the events.
"140 Die in Iraq Following Bombing at Shiite Shrine" (Democracy Now!):
Iraq is under a high security alert following days of violence sparked by Wednesday’s bombing of one of the country’s holiest Shiite shrines in Samarra. At least 140 people, mostly Sunni Arabs, have been killed across the country. The Sunni-led Association of Muslim Scholars has said 184 Sunni mosques have since been damaged or destroyed. 10 clerics have been killed and 15 more abducted. The government imposed a rare daytime curfew today in Baghdad and in three other provinces -- preventing many from attending Friday prayers. A series of joint Sunni-Shiite demonstrations have been held calling for national unity and to condemn the increasing violence. As many as 10,000 rallied in Basra alone. But many analysts fear Iraq is on the brink of civil war. The U.S. military is ordering its soldiers to stay in its barracks in Baghdad and to stay off the streets. On Thursday seven U.S. troops died. Meanwhile the staff of the satellite TV channel Al Arabiya is in mourning following the death of one of its best-known correspondents in Iraq. The 30-year-old Atwar Bahjat was assassinated along with her cameraman and soundman on Thursday.
The tragedy continues. It is a tragedy. C.I. noted Camilo Mejia saying "Tragedy -- not my tragedy, but the tragedy of Iraq; my sacrifice is nothing compared to theirs." It is a tragedy and it goes on. Why?
I think we have the answer in "NYT: Bill Keller declares a 'play day' and paper misses Guantanamo coverage (again!)." Read that, because C.I. nails the paper of record perfectly. It's not about reporting that we need. It's about, as C.I. said in "Other Items" this morning, official speak:
So exactly what does the New York Times do today? Not a whole lot. They fawn over officials as usual. Such as with Steven R. Weisman and Robert F. Worth's "Violence Strains U.S. Strategy and Imperils Pullout Plans:"
Senior administration officials in Washington and Baghdad said the next few days would test American and Iraqi resolve, as the United States military, despite pressure to intervene and angry accusations that it stood by while Iraq erupted in revenge killings, holds back to see if Iraqis can quell violence themselves. An unusual daytime curfew in Baghdad scheduled for Friday Prayer could help, the officials said.
Did the officials say that? Well then it must be true and it must be recorded by the paper of record.
Meanwhile the Davids (S. Cloud and E. Sanger) team up to tell you what must be the most important development in the port story -- from "Dubai Company Delays New Role at Six U.S. Ports:"
The Dubai company at the center of a political furor over its plans to take over some terminal operations at six American ports said Thursday night that it planned to close the deal next week, but that it would "not exercise control" over its new operations in the United States while the Bush administration tried to calm opposition in Congress.
The statement may provide a little time and political breathing room for President Bush, who has appeared stunned at the opposition from Republicans and Democrats alike over the deal involving one of the country's few close Arab allies.
Bully Boy might get breathing room? Surely that is the most important detail in this story . . . in the eyes of the New York Times which, more and more, reads less like a newspaper and more like a club newsletter. At this rate, tomorrow's port story will inform us of whether or not the Bully Boy is still regular or if constipation has set in as a result of (backdrop) the controversy over the ports issue.
Are these the voices that matter to you? Or are you like me and more interested in the Kevin and Monica Bendermans of the world? Their story isn't important enough to the paper of record. That's exactly why that paper is so useless.
"Letters from Fort Lewis" (Kevin Benderman, Feb. 8, 2005):
The American people need to wake up to the reality of what this admininstration is doing to our country. They claim to be creating economic growth for the country, but I wish someone would explain to me why General Motors and Ford are eliminating 30,000 jobs each and why Kraft Food is eliminating 6,000 jobs IN AMERICA. The mega-oil corporations are bragging about the record profits they posted in 2005, while Jane and Joe "average" America are having to pay record prices for heating oil for their homes and record prices at the pump.
Another news report stated that Americans, on average, were not able to put any money into their savings accounts in 2005. This situation has not occurred since before the great depression of the 1930's. While I am not an economist, I don't need a weatherman to tell me which way the wind blows.
The $440 billion spent on mass destruction could have paid Social Security, it could have been spent on the Gulf Coast states destroyed by the hurricanes, it could have been spent on a more reliable immigration system, it could have gone to help seniors afford their prescription medication, it could have gone into a student loan program, it could go into research and development for more reliable and cleaner energy sources, and, it could have benefited America to finance something constructive instead of funding absolute destruction.
Now tell me which you relate to more: Kevin Benderman's truth or spin out of the mouth of the Bully Boy? Think about Monica Benderman, fighting for her husband and for her country. Does it not scream "human interest story"? It does to me. But the corporate press isn't interested in that. If you ask me, most of us have far more in common with the Bendermans than we do with the Bully Boys. A real press would be interested in covering these stories of how the illegal invasion/occupation is impacting people's lives. All the New York Times wants to do is suck up to officials. We are all the Bendermans. We thought we'd be able to take care of ourselves, do the right thing and no problem. But look what happened when Kevin Benderman tried to do the right thing. That's a story. The corporate press may not care, but it is a story.
"Marines Conduct Secret Study Into Iran Ethnic Minorities" (Democracy Now!):
The Financial Times is reporting an intelligence wing of the Marines has hired a private defense contractor to conduct a secret study of Iran's ethnic minorities. This is a move that could indicate early stages of contingency plans for a ground assault on Iran. The Marines conducted a similar study in Iraq. A former intelligence officer said the ultimate purpose of the Marines intelligence wing was to “support effective ground military operations by the Marine Corps.” The study appeared to focus on whether Iran would be prone to a violent fragmentation along the same kind of fault lines that are splitting Iraq. The Financial Times reports several Iranians living in the United States refused to help with the study because they saw it as part of an effort to break up Iran. To conduct the analysis, the military hired a subsidiary of the defense contractor SAIC, the Science Applications International Corp.
To steal from Rebecca, more I could have guessed that news. Is there anything that this administration can do at this point that would surprise anyone? Maybe tell the truth. That would be shocking after five years of nonstop lies. Maybe our mainstream media could start telling the truth as well? Ted Koppel is shameless. He wrote an op-ed for the New York Times that the paper ran today. It read like something a suck up to Henry Kissinger would write. Koppel's long sucked up to Kissinger. When I got to work this morning, Sunny showed it to me and asked, "Does Koppel think he's 'brave'?"
I bet he does. I bet he thinks he's brave. He wasted how many hours of Nightline? We're all supposed to be thrilled that he showed the names of the fallen twice. Or maybe that he did a story (one) on PNAC (that disappeared from the website in it's lenghtier transcript)? This is the man who was for the war. He said so publicly.
Now he's written a self-serving op-ed that says, basically, "So what if we were lied, we have a regional interest in the area and it is about oil." First off, Teddy, no WMD was known when you were still hosting Nightline. So you could have made those comments while you had a show. Second of all, you're not saying, "It's about oil! People have died for oil!" Instead, you're saying, "It's about oil and we have a strategic interest to defend . . ." and droning on in his usual dull manner. Where there's superficial, there is Ted Koppel.
I was so glad when C.I. wrote the thing on Koppel. It was embarrassing enough that the mainstream was acting like we were losing something of value but for the left to do the same was shameful. Did they never read anything by FAIR about the "balance" on Nightline? Were they not aware he was sucking up to Kissinger on air over and over. (Kissinger was one of Koppel's most booked guests.) Ted Koppel was George Will without the bow tie.
"The end of a (bad) era" (The Common Ills):
Tributes will probably roll out to remind us of what we're going to "miss." Yes, it's true there was little of the screaming found on CrossFire, The McLaughlin Group, et al. It's also true that there wasn't much for the left to applaud on Nightline.
As Gore Vidal's noted, ". . . if you want to know what the ownership of the country wants you to know, tune in to Nightline and listen to Ted Koppel and his guests" (Vidal, The Decline of the American Empire, p. 44). Vidal also cites a study by FAIR for the years 1985-1988 of Nightline. Koppel mentor Henry Kissinger racks up 14 appearances as does Al Haig -- other multi-appearance guests included Elliott Abrams and Jerry Falwell.
[. . .]
We're so starved for TV news (as opposed to "news") that there may be a temptation for some to extoll Nightline as "serious." What show were they watching? Let's trip down memory lane.
Let's drop back to July 29, 2004, Democracy Now!'s "ABC's Ted Koppel Refuses To Apologize For Pre-War Iraq Coverage:"
AMY GOODMAN: Do you think that ABC and the other networks should apologize for providing an uncritical forum for the administration to lay out their unsubstantiated claims of weapons of mass destruction?
TED KOPPEL: I am glad you phrased your question so nicely. No, I don't think an apology is due if what you are saying is could we all have been more critical? I think the answer is yes. I must tell you, I am going to be responsive in behalf of Nightline over which I do have some control. We did do a 90-minute town hall meeting, the title of which was Why Now? and the essence of which was: Where is the evidence that there's an immediate danger to the United States? Did we do enough programs like that? I concede we did not. But that's a function of perhaps incompetence on my part, but certainly not ill will and I will try and do better the next time, but I don't think I need to apologize for it.
Amy Goodman, Robert Parry, Norman Solomon, FAIR, Gore Vidal, go down the list. (And C.I.'s got a ton of sources.) Ted Koppel was everything that was wrong with the mainstream press. But you wouldn't have known it to read some of the coverage. But there are people who think he was a "serious" journalist just because he spoke in that annoying tone instead of shouting. He was serious -- about conveying conventional wisdom. He was Cokie Roberts with less attitude. That's all he was. So it's fitting that he ends up at NPR which doesn't know how to report these days but sure knows how to bore the hell out of you with chatter amongst the hosts and really lame stories.
Do I seem upset tonight? I am. I can't believe Bully Boy's plans for Iran are starting to come out. The level of incompentence in the White House is not to be believed. Presumably, after he starts his third war, he'll immediately begin planning for North Korea. It's as if he's leading a one man march for WWIII.
"War Criminal Quote" (Colin Powell on the lies in his UN presentation via Ava and C.I.'s "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were," The Third Estate Sunday Review):
Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world. And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
the common ills
and the war drags on
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