Friday, June 02, 2006

Bloggerback: Picks and Pits of the Day

*Funny how the American press and the rest of the world’s press are playing the Iranian nukes negotiations story. In the US, it’s all about Condoleezza Rice taking the initiative. Here’s how the Washington Post, diary to the imperium, puts it this morning: “Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the U.S. policy shift at a State Department news conference, warning that if the Iranian government chooses not to negotiate and to continue pursuing its nuclear ambitions, "it will incur only great costs.” Here’s how Le Temps, a Swiss daily, put it (my translation from the original French): “After having treated European diplomatic efforts with condescension, George Bush, faced with Teheran’s defiance, embraces realism. Switzerland mediates this historic decision.” The Swiss have a right to be full of themselves today: their little near-insignificant soccer team just managed to hold Italy to a 1-1 tie in a World Cup warm-up. (You won’t read about that Swiss mediation bit in the American press, though the Times this morning does lead more accurately than the Post: “After 27 years in which the United States has refused substantive talks with Iran, President Bush reversed course on Wednesday because it was made clear to him — by his allies, by the Russians, by the Chinese, and eventually by some of his advisers — that he no longer had a choice.”

*While the US military’s Stars & Stripes continues to downplay the Haditha massacre by leaving the reporting to sidebars and the Associated Press, instead of assigning its own (whatever happened to a reporter’s Army of One?), the Washington Post pretends to catche up with the story’s import by revealing how “some officers gave false information to their superiors, who then failed to adequately scrutinize reports that should have caught their attention,” only to then delve into the comparatively idiotic and flaccid facts about how the military wants to better train its men in Iraq. The press’ various subtle means of burying the story, even when it’s on the front page, are truly lawyer-inspiring. And the Times of course continues to play the Iraqi government angle of controlling mayhem, which is another way of downplaying the mayhem (in fairness though, the Times did a fair job last week reporting on how the US training of the Iraqi police, a half-assed job worthy of Cunégonde’s sliced-up rear, only fuelled the insurgency). The Los Angeles Times provides yet again one of the better accounts of the slaughter.

*Also not to be seen in the American press, Gunter Grass, speaking at the annual congress of PEN, the writers’ organization, goes Pinter on Bush’s ass: “The crimes of the U.S. have been systematic, constant, vicious, and remorseless but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised quite a clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It's brilliant, even witty, a highly successful act of hypnosis. How many people do you have to kill before you qualify to be described as a mass murderer and a war criminal?”

*In the Toronto Star, Tarek Fatah, host of a weekly Canadian TV show called Muslim Chronicle, writes of his run-in with the paradoxes of multiculturalism: “One recent Friday, I attended an Iranian Canadian event in Toronto where I was, perhaps, the only non-white, non-Iranian among the 1,000 immaculately turned out guests. When I asked friends at the table why there were no black, Chinese or Arabs at the event, I drew blank stares of bewilderment. Unsaid, but easily understood in the silence was the answer: ‘Why would a Chinese Canadian or an Indian Canadian be interested in an Iranian event?’” He had a similar experience of “this celebration of ghettoization” at a Tamil Canadian event, which leads him to ask a question relevant to the entire North American continent: “Why is it that whenever the Chinese or Pakistani or any other ethnic minority organizes events, the only other community invited to participate is the dominant white community?” [the full coulmn…]

*Remembrance of Things Swift: Don’t miss Jon’s latest take—his funny as hell, as usual, “50 More Conservative Rock Songs,” a follow-up-send-up of National Review’s operatic wrap around the same subject.

*US Jobless claims were expected to fall by 50,000; they rose by 7,000. But more evidence that the Fed under Bernanke doesn’t know what the hell is going on.

*Blithe Death Romance: Nathaniel Hawthorne will finally get a little post-mortem action with his bride after 150 years of separation.

*Our own World Cup warm-up: Knight Ridder, a dying hope of American journalism, takes the competition as seriously as the world now appears to be taking the U.S. team