Saturday, January 21, 2006

Noam Chomsky's Latest: "War on Terror"

Candide’s Notebooks Exclusive
“War on Terror”
Noam Chomsky’s Amnesty International Lecture
Trinity College, Dublin/Wednesday, January 18, 2006

[A minor exclusive, anyway: At the Notebooks’ home site, we make available here for the first time a printable, copyable and transmittable html version of the lecture, which Trinity College makes available in pdf format only.]

“Terror” is a term that rightly arouses strong emotions and deep concerns. The primary concern should, naturally, be to take measures to alleviate the threat, which has been severe in the past, and will be even more so in the future. To proceed in a serious way, we have to establish some guidelines. Here are a few simple ones:
(1) Facts matter, even if we do not like them.
(2) Elementary moral principles matter, even if they have consequences that we would prefer not to face.
(3) Relative clarity matters. It is pointless to seek a truly precise defmition of “terror,” or of any other concept outside of the hard sciences and mathematics, often even there. But we should seek enough clari~ at least to distinguish terror from two notions that lie uneasily at its borders: aggression and legitimate resistance. Read the full lecture...

Friday, January 20, 2006

The Bin Laden Show

What Next to Expect from Al-Qaeda

Sayed Saleem Shahzad, Bureau chief of Hong Kong's Asia Times, argues that "Al-Qaeda has undergone major restructuring - and soul-searching - in preparation for its relaunch as an open organization to pitch a worldwide battle against US interests. Osama bin Laden's tape shows that it is now ready."

KARACHI - The release of a new audio tape featuring al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden marks the group's announcement that the new strategy it has been developing is now very much in place. The tape, the first from bin Laden in more than a year, was aired on Thursday by the Al-Jazeera satellite TV channel. It appeared to have been made in early December, US intelligence officials said. In the tape, bin Laden warned that al-Qaeda was preparing terrorist attacks on the United States: "Operations are in preparation, and you will see them on your own [US] ground once the preparations are finished." Since the ouster in 2001 of the Taliban from Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda had a strong base, and with the ongoing "war on terror", al-Qaeda has lost hundreds of operatives through killings and arrest. By the end of 2003, the organization was in the doldrums and its cadre infested with spies. As a result, the organization as it had been run was practically dismantled. Its vertical, centralized structure was abolished and its various groups and cells - apart from a few - were abandoned and allowed to scatter. Bin Laden, in the meantime, went low-key. The US attack on Iraq then provided al-Qaeda with a trump card as it was able to reactivate members and sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Morocco and beyond. In fact the success of the Iraqi resistance, in which al-Qaeda is a component, figured significantly in the thinking of al-Qaeda's leadership to relaunch the group as an open organization to pitch a worldwide battle against US interests. Serious debate on this new direction began in 2004, with two issues prominent... Read the rest...

When Pre-Judging Is a State of War

By Rick de Yampert, pop culture columnist for the News-Journal:

To anyone protesting the film “Brokeback Mountain” or the new TV series “The Book of Daniel,” I say: Shut up! That is, shut up unless — UNLESS! — you have actually seen the film or the TV show. As our nation prepares to enter the next battles in the culture wars, I will not be surprised to witness the clueless hurling verbal hand grenades at “ Brokeback Mountain ,” that so-called “gay cowboy” film. Ditto with “The Book of Daniel,” a new NBC series about an Episcopal priest who’s addicted to pain pills, has a gay son, a randy straight son, a daughter who deals marijuana and a wife who drinks. Oh, yeah — this priest also has conversations with a Jesus who is more a mellow fellow Zen master than a Bible-quoting, Bible-thumping, righteous preacher. If history is any indication, and it is, we’re about to be bombarded by the “America is going to hell in a handbasket” gang. And if history is any indication, many of them will not have bothered to engage the source of their ire. As an entertainment writer and pop culture columnist for a daily newspaper, I have discovered that to be the case in numerous past skirmishes in the culture wars [Read the full column...]

Brokeback Wal-Mart

I was standing in a cashier’s line at Wal-Mart the other day, my arms full of cars and trucks for my son, who was about to turn 2. Out of nowhere, a man thinner than a toothpick but weathered by at least six Republican administrations struck up a conversation. I don’t know what made him think we could buddy up. He couldn’t possibly have been encouraged by the giddiness of the season (it was just before Christmas). Wal-Mart’s fluorescence ensures that all giddiness is disemboweled from all occasions and all entrants. Something else was urging him on, something compulsive. He asked me if I’d seen “Brokeback Mountain.” He clarified for me that it was about two cowboys in Wyoming humping something other than horses. No, I told him, I hadn’t had the pleasure. Again, I don’t know what urged him on, or what gave him the notion we were on the same gay-bashing wavelength. Maybe the Wal-Mart surroundings induce customers into a trans-Southern trance of mob prejudices, as in contemporary-vintage Baptist congregations. But the toothpick started coursing (and cursing) of the disgust of the thing, his face contorting along in agony, well-practiced, I imagined, from having had a lifetime of agonies to share with strangers. Funny, I told him as I pointed to my son, who was a few aisles over (I’d asked my daughter to keep him from seeing his presents), “my 2-year-old son is gay.” Read the full post...

Best of Blogs Round-Up/From Every Time Zone

From the Notebooks’ Home Site…

Best of Blogs Round-Up: Friday, January 20
From the left, the right, the in-between: we include the political, the social, the cultural and the undefinable.

  1. Corrente shows how White House links umbilically to Joseph Goebbels

  2. Michael Totten calls on the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo

  3. Nancy Rommelmam on “James Frey, Pussy”—and her Freyed past

  4. Pacific View on global warming passing the tipping point

  5. Conspiracy or quack: the secret war on Iran

  6. Midnight Blue wishes a happy 300th to Ben Franklin

  7. Venezuela is as US does: Human Rights Abuses down under

  8. Captain’s Quarters wonders whether John McCain stands for anything

  9. Jeff Jarvis won’t get a hearing on Capitol Hill

  10. Instapundit snipes at Iraq news coverage

  11. Marc Cooper is gored by Al being “the conscience” of Democrats

  12. Romania inspires Burden of Proof’s heights of hypocrisy

  13. Red State gives a full analysis of Alito’s, and a filibuster’s, chances

  14. Juan Cole: Bush wants Egyptian troops to save face for Iraqi Sunnis

  15. Japundit tells us about Japan’s Pulitzers for fiction

  16. Our Man in Tirana on the consolation of whiskey in Albania
Featured Blog I: Paris Waits: Garçon, s’il vous plaît!

[On the torments and pleasures of waiters who take their surliness seriously.]
I live just above a fairly typical Parisian Brasserie, those restaurants/cafés/bars that are open throughout the day for the various needs of the day - the coffee in the morning, lunch, dinner in the evening, and snacks, drinks or light food throughout the day. It is staffed by the archetypal Parisians garçons - men, of all ages but rarely very young, in their black and white livery, and their amazing ability to speedily carry all sorts of things in their hands and on their arms throughout the day, and their selective approach to clients (more on that later). For us, the place is very convenient, being downstairs from home [...]. It also helped that they serve excellent meat and very decent wines, as well as a wide variety of other dishes.Tourists often complain about the surly, unfriendly treatment they get in Paris restaurants or brasseries. The important thing to know is that this is not just true of tourists - it applies to everybody, foreigner or French, tourist or Parisian. The only thing that matters is whether you are recognised as a regular or not. Read the full post...
Featured Blogger II: Sideshow in Pakistan
The Damadola Outrage
KAMRAN SHAFI/January 19, 2006
[Last week American warplanes bombed the village of Damadola in remote northwest Pakistan, ostensibly to kill al-Qaeda’s No. 2 man. The raid missed. Eighteen civilians were killed, most of them women and children. On Wednesday, the Pakistani government claimed two senior al-Qaeda members were killed in the raid, as well as other operatives. The claim was made without bodies being recovered or proof provided. Pakistani civilians have been outraged by the attack. The American public has been as unmoved by the American government. Kamran Shafi, author of the following post, is a retired Pakistani officer, author and freelance columnist. His blog post on the Damadola bombing also appeared in the Pakistan Daily Times. The opening italics are in the original.]
While it was comic seeing the reaction of our brilliant FO falling over itself and “vehemently” denying the mere suggestion that our ambassador to the US was being recalled — a recognised diplomatic manoeuvre made by self-respecting countries against others that might have offended it — it is tragic to see Shaukat Aziz jet off to the United States so soon after the outrageMany moons ago, 19 actually, I had written in this very space that the governments of the “tight” buddies Dubya and the Big General were as one when it came to stupidity and foolishness and doing exactly the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time. The title of the piece was ‘Allah millaee joree’, explained thus in English: A pair made in heaven: well suited to each other — one as bad as the other. I had gone on: “While America the country is eons ahead of Pakistan the country according to every indicator; while the Americans reached the moon almost thirty-five years ago, and a very large majority of Pakistanis cannot read or write even today; while America is the most powerful and one of the richest countries in the world and Pakistan is a very poor example of a ‘developing country’, aren’t the government of the Land of the Pure, and its tight friend and ‘Coalition Partner’ the government of Amreeka Bahadur as incompetent, inept, cretinous... I could go on and on... as each other? I mean, look at them both go about their respective business and see what a complete mess they are making.” Read the full post...

Headlines from Every Time Zone updated Friday, January 20, 2006 6:23 PM EST
  1. Dow falls 214 pts on earnings, oil gloom (Financial Times)

  2. Turkey ends Pope gunman's freedom (BBC)

  3. Shiites win Iraq vote, will need coalition to rule (AP/NYT)

  4. Syria and Iran join in axis of weevil (Beirut Daily Star)

  5. Dark interrogation tactics in Iraq exposed (LAT)

  6. US Justice Department backs NSA spying (WashingtonPost)

  7. Denmark extends Iraq troop support until July 1 (CopenhP)

  8. Canada: Harper's lead Takes a hit (Toronto G&M)

  9. Move afoot to review rights of non-Muslims (New StraitsT)

  10. The end of cheap rail fares in Britain (Times)

  11. Russia rejects Israeli plan for Iran sanctions (Haaretz)

  12. Malaysia bans cell phones in schools (Kuala Lumpur Star)

  13. Bin Laden tape warns of more attacks (Al-Jazeera)

  14. Quebec separatism enters Canada election debate (TG&M)

  15. Housing bubble bursts in New Zealand (New Zealand Herald)

  16. US Govt. subpoenas Google's records (FT/Reuters)

  17. Chirac threatens terrorist with French nukes (Daily Telegph)

  18. Billion-dollar railway line for Namibia/Botswana (NamibiaE)

  19. Torture flights: What UK knew and covered up (Guardian)

  20. Legality of Bush administration spying questioned (WPost)

  21. Ivory Coast keeps slouching toward civil war (BBC)

  22. Pill shows promise to fight AIDS (Johannesburg M&G)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Human Rights Whacked

"It will be interesting to see how long the White House can recite China’s abuses when its own moral threads are unraveling to the point that it has become the schoolmarm scolding the world in exposed lingerie."—Derrick Jackson, Boston Globe column, March 3, 1999

"Fighting terrorism is central to the human rights cause. But using illegal tactics against alleged terrorists is both wrong and counterproductive."—Kenneth Ross, executive director, Human Rights Watch.

Human rights! How low you’ve fallen in the esteem of those countries that once made you their battle cry. How scorned you’ve become, how cheap, how cumbersome. The West, and the United States in particular, used to be synonymous with human rights as principles, as policies, as exports and, when it was convenient, as conditions. Sure the West had its abuses, its repressive prisons, its internment camps and Red Scares and McCarthys. But those were the exceptions rather than the rule. Western governments would once have been ashamed to smell of repression as they campaigned to crack the Soviet Bloc or free dissidents from the Chinese gulag or unmoor Cuba from Castro’s cast-irons. They might deal with repressive regimes, even sponsor them. They wouldn’t dream of aping their methods. At least not in the open, not as a matter of policy, not as a matter of fact and routine, as they do now. Read the full post...

Best of Blogs/From Every Time Zone

From the left, the right, the in-between: we include the political, the social, the cultural and the undefinable--From Daily Bloggerback at the Notebooks' Home site:

  1. Baldilocks on the double-standard of the racially salted word plantation.

  2. Mathew Yglesias to Hillary & Dems: ambitious agendas, not shrillness

  3. The German press on Ray Nagin’s friendship with God

  4. Ezra Klein on the raging debate over bloggers’ expertise

  5. In Utah, violence wins over “Brokeback Mountain”

  6. Korean Words: The South Korean president has three blogs

  7. Richard Posner says tenured employment’s time is passé

  8. The agitator on your taxes, and our police state, at work

  9. Intellectual Conservative sees “separate but equal” still in Arizona

  10. What Bush and Argentina’s (thuggish?) Kirchner have in common

  11. The Talking Dog on King (George) Day and the Era of Secrecy

  12. Even British conservatives think they own the meaning of patriotism

  13. From India, a man and wife discuss lovemaking in Islamic Egypt

  14. Singapore’s Maureen Dowd goes Medieval on men

  15. The NYT’s Howard French on a recent trip to Laos

  16. Where the beggars hide in Shanghai

Featured Blog I: Shits & West
Scatological Drama


[Hold your noses if you needto, but get ready to laugh your way through some fascinating sociology on the scatologies of East and West. Margaret Cho has been traveling Asia for weeks. Our luck...]

I thought I was ghetto, before I went to India. I was so painfully mistaken. I saw a man in a three piece suit take a shit on the sidewalk. That is gangsta!!! He just squatted down and went for it, all the while, casually reading the paper. I love that he had such an air of weary decadence, so that the act of defecating in the street wasn’t enough for him. He still needed something to read. The amount of shit everywhere is something that you just have to deal with, being there. There is all kinds of shit too. Cow shit, dog shit, goat shit (little and pebbly like rabbit shit so less offensive and more petting zoo like), and of course real live BULL shit, which I thought was just an expression. Then the many faces of human shit, unpleasant and instantly recognizable. The shit didn’t bother me as much as the piss, which was a surprise. I didn’t like to encounter the public urinals placed on busy street corners. Read the rest at Margaret Cho's blog...

Featured Blogger II: A Different Tet Offensive
Triumphs and Tragedies for Vietnam's Homeless Children

VIETNAM STREET KIDS/January 17, 2006

[Thirty years after the end of the war, Vietnam is still, to most Americans anyway, primarily a bad memory rather than a country of living and surviving human beings—a disproportionate number of them homeless children who could care less about another era’s idiocies, but who live those idiocies’ consequences daily. Vietnam Street Kids is written by Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, “a grassroots charity working in Vietnam with street kids and the poorest of the poor.” This post candidly describes the triumphs and heartbreaks in the children’s daily lives, and the foundation’s attempts to ease their way.]

Vietnamese New Year—Tet—is looming like a storm cloud. The streets are crazier than usual (yes, it is possible!) as everyone rushes to get ready for The Event of the year. For Blue Dragon kids, Tet has a particularly pertinent meaning. Will the Year of the Dog bring luck, success, employment, or hope? Will things get better or worse? The fortunes of the new year begin with the passing of the old. Right now is the time to give and receive gifts such as new clothing, and also to hand out Li Xi—lucky money. A child who does not receive any of these gifts in the coming weeks will start the new lunar year with little reason to hope for happiness or prosperity. Over the coming week, the staff here at Blue Dragon are preparing two Tet parties: one for the kids in our Hanoi program, and one for the 250 or so girls and boys sponsored in rural areas, through our Stay In School program. Both events should be a lot of fun, but for the moment they are a lot of hard work! I hope to post news and photos of the parties next week. Since my last post, the center has been in overdrive preparing for Tet and dealing with lots of urgent kids’ issues. If I was superstitious I would be wondering if this was related to Friday the 13 th.... But it wasn’t all bad, of course! Lots of good news too. We have made good progress in dealing with the attacks on some of our kids. During last week, we found where some of the thugs lived and were able to take the police around to visit them. Looks like at least one of the kids who was robbed and beaten will be receiving compensation—and the attacks have definitely stopped for the time being. Read the rest at Vietnam Street Kids...

Latest Headlines from Every Time Zone
updated Thursday, January 19, 2006 7:28 AM EST

  1. Torture flights: What UK knew and covered up (Guardian)

  2. Legality of Bush administration spying questioned (WPost)

  3. Ivory Coast keeps slouching toward civil war (BBC)

  4. Pill shows promise to fight AIDS (Johannesburg M&G)

  5. Oil costs up? Blame Nigeria (CSM)

  6. Rich Saudi Ar. needs 1 million homes for its poor (Arab N.)

  7. Musharraf: National interest before terror war (PakistanDT)

  8. Horizon Pluto launch set for Thursday (Florida Today Blog)

  9. Finally: Troops to get more armor next month (S&S)

  10. Ivory Coast: 5 protesters killed by UN peacekrs (Indep.)

  11. Human Rights Watch says US undermines rights (VOA)

  12. Human Rights Watch also slams EU (BBC)

  13. UN on East Timor: Indonesia starved civilians (Australian)

  14. Selling panic shuts down Tokyo stock exchange (BBC)

  15. Nigerian rebels threaten more oil firms (Al-Jazeera)

  16. Bush administration knew Iraq-uranium link bogus (NYT)

  17. New Orleans mayor apologizes for God remark (NOTP)

  18. UK doctors assist in 3000 deaths a year (Guardian)

  19. Disabled men forced to crawl from mall shop (The Age)

  20. Elation as giant Thai pandas mate for 1st time (BangkokP)

  21. Supreme Court Upholds Oregon suicide law, 6-3 (NYT)

  22. Google expands into radio advertising (Washington Post)
Roving updates at The Notebooks' Home site...

Shooting a Child: Beyond Police Brutality

From today's News-Journal:

"One thing just about all should agree on in the shooting death of 15-year-old Chris Penley at Milwee Middle School in Longwood [Florida] last week, is that something went terribly wrong. A middle school student cornered by himself in a restroom -- even a dangerous middle school student holding a weapon -- should not have ended up dead. Penley was brandishing a pellet gun. He was alone. Speed stalked the succession of events that led to his shooting. All of 44 minutes elapsed from the time a school resource officer was told of trouble and the moment Penley was shot, just when Penley's father had been reached by cell phone by an officer in a separate part of the school." Read the full editorial

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Suicide Pact: How Scalia's Shamanism is Shaping the Future John Roberts Court

Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision upholding Oregon’s assisted suicide law is a great victory for humanism and the rule of law. It is a rare defeat, these days of bullying pieties, for Washington’s College of Cardinals occasionally referred to, for politeness’ sake, as Bush Administration conservatives. But the decision should dispense with any lingering (though still potent) inventions about Chief Justice John Roberts’ “pragmatism,” “moderation,” or intellectual honesty. Only Sam Alito, who’s more right-wing than Thomas, makes him look a Hamburg winter’s shade to the left of the hyper-right. That’s not saying much for someone who remains firmly clenched somewhere between Thomas and Scalia. Roberts is the stealth reactionary any close reading of his jock-like, power-hungry legal decisions make him out to be. His willingness to go along with the dissenters’ oily, Bush v. Gore-like reasoning around constitutional principle (to say nothing of their own federalist principles) reveals him to be dishonest, too, when politically expedient. So much for a change on the court.

But it’s worth taking a closer look at the dishonesty’s shamanism. It hums in Scalia’s dissent. Scalia won’t be around for ever. His dissents are teaching his successors, who are verging on a commanding (and, to the country’s independent judiciary, fatal) majority, how to pull the wool over the Constitution’s eyes. Read the full analysis…  

Democracy's Retreats: Imperial Mongering from Gladstone to "King George"

William Gladstone, the on-again, off-again British prime minister for most of the second half of the 19 th century, famously liked to walk the streets at night, counseling prostitutes to a more wholesome life. He did so when he was young. He did so when he was old, and through his four terms as prime minister from 1868 through 1894. Those were the years when Britain thought itself Queen Victoria’s and God’s gift to the world (in that order), when the sun never set on the Union Jack, when imperialism found cover behind the infomercial known, then as now, as the white man’s burden. The link between Gladstone ’s streetwalking and Britain ’s globe-trotting is one of those striking historic parallels between a man’s ideals personifying a civilization’s presumptions. The link isn’t just symbolic. It betrays the rot at the heart of western assumptions about right and wrong, about who, your majesty, the savages are. For Gladstone wasn’t a compulsive streetwalker for virtue all those years: He was, in fact, an assiduous whoremonger. He makes you think of that old hair club commercial — “I’m not just the president, I’m a customer.” And Britain wasn’t bringing civilization to the world so much as decimating and retarding it where it didn’t fit with Albion ’s tastes. It wasn’t called perfidious for nothing. Read the rest...

Monday, January 16, 2006

From Every Time Zone

The headlines, from the Notebooks’ Home site:

Updated Monday, January 16, 2006 10:02 AM EST

  1. Abramoff pipe points to Chr'tian centerfold R.Reed (WPot)

  2. Nationwide demonstrations protest US strikes (Pakistan DT)

  3. Democracy inaction: US warns Hamas election (AlJzera)

  4. Ausralia moves toward national ID card (The Age)

  5. Pro-democracy campaigners arrested in Swaziland (JG&M)

  6. Canadian conservatives hold lead over liberals (Globe & Mail)

  7. UN powers debate Iran nukes escalation (BBC)

  8. Canadian inquiry fins no fault in CIA flights (Montreal Gzt)

  9. Iran threatens soaring oil prices in retaliation (Guardian)

  10. 76yr.old Californian next on US death penalty hit list (LAT)

  11. India's girl deficit biggest amon educated women (CSM)

  12. Taliban defector shot dead in Kandahar (BBC)

  13. Bachelet elected Chile's 1st woman president (SantiagoTms)

  14. Terrorist elected to British Legion Com'tee (Belfast Times)

  15. China reserves soar to $819bln, US deficit to $700 bln (FT)

  16. How New York's mean streets were tamed (Guardian)

  17. El Baradei doubts Iran's peaceful nukes claims (Haaretz)

  18. The living wage as an emerging campaign issue (NTM)

  19. Scientists discover diabetes heredity gene (NYT)

  20. Halliburton picked to build in anti-war town (The Australian)

  21. Austria's EU pres'cy, Mozart's 250th connected? (WPH)

Blog World Round-Up: Monday, January 16

  1. Talking Points Memo sorts out who was on Arbamoff’s take

  2. Echidne’s fairy tale: Of emperors without clothes, peas and carrots

  3. Corrente celebrates Bachelet’s win in Chile

  4. Pacific Views on the mockery of Republican Health Care Benefits

  5. Paperweight on liberal patriotism without qualifiers

  6. Crooks and Liars give us Arlen Specter implying Bush Impeachment

  7. Peter Daou on liberal bloggers in the wilderness

  8. James Wolcott adds valuable fizz to Peter Daou’s depression

  9. Brian Maloney weeps over WOR’s Bob Grant, huffs over Jerry Springer

  10. Shadow of the Hegemon takes on Roger Ebert taking on video games

  11. American Street on the flaws in “King Kong”

  12. The Angry Arab on the two Lebanons dividing over a US visitor

  13. Eye of smog will have you in hysterics over vaginal madness

  14. Urban Semiotics on what’s so hateful about Internet Explorer

  15. Carter’s Little Pill on rhyming poetry and arrested development

  16. This Fish rediscovers the joys of middle school humiliation

  17. Anonymous co-worker gives the low-down on that room’s sounds

Featured Blog I: Kentucky FriedIntelligent Design's Next Crow

[The J Train is a primary care physician in eastern Kentucky and an alluringly original writer. He's old enough to be routinely saving lives but too young to remember Louie Nunn, Kentucky's last Republican governor--until Ernie Fletcher took over in 2003, apparently not for Kentucky's better health. The J Train diagnoses.]

Ernie Fletcher would love nothing more than to change the subject. Kentucky's first Republican governor in my lifetime, thanks to Paul Patton's pecadilloes, he started his term by taking a dump on the state's teachers (and other state employees) before waltzing into his own little cronyism scandal. Rather than owning up to his mistakes and taking it like a man, he issued pre-emptive blanket pardons for anything anybody involved might have done. The only people left who truly support him are the ones who have drunk so much of the Kool-Aid that they frequently burst through walls and exclaim, "Oh yeah!". So, clearly, Ernie needs the state to start talking about something else, and his State of the Commonwealth (remember, we're a commonwealth, for some reason) Address was the perfect time to set new ideas afloat. Read the rest at The J Train...

Featured Blogger II: Washington Putsch

The Naked Lies of Deborah Howell, Washington Post Ombudsman Jane Hamsher/Firedoglake, January 15, 2006

Deborah Howell is an outrage. Or rather, her title of "ombudsman" is an outrage. If you just change it to "Official GOP Steward" I would have far less problems with her continued presence at the WaPo. But they probably have adequate reason to fear that people like John Harris would then start to bristle and covet it for themselves. It is obvious that on a day-in, day-out basis Howell is being bombarded by representatives of GOP think tanks to complain about any deviation from the official GOP slant on any story, a job which she clearly relishes. She is most certainly happy to print obvious distortions on a daily basis, like this one in today's column about Jack Abramoff:
Schmidt quickly found that Abramoff was getting 10 to 20 times as much from Indian tribes as they had paid other lobbyists. And he had made substantial campaign contributions to both major parties.
That is just an out-and-out, boldfaced lie. It's hard to tell whether Howell is a hack or just an idiot and I suspect a bit of both, and I'm not going to waste any more time beating that one into the ground. I've already been there, as has anyone else paying even the littlest bit of attention. Then Howell goes on to indulge her favorite myth -- the smoke-and-mirrors "well both Democrats and Republicans are unhappy so we must be fair and balanced." I'm sure mother Dahmer was upset at the outcome of young Jeffrey's trial too, but that hardly adds up to "two equal stories." Read the rest at Firedoglake...

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Wal-Mart: The New Southern Plantation

Serge Hamili/Le Monde Diplomatique,

Wal-Mart is the world’s biggest company, and the social dumping that has made such success possible is infecting western economies, especially labour relations and minimum pay rates. It buys cheaply and sells cheaply, but at a huge cost to communities all over the globe.

The American dream of upward social mobility, with its rags to riches leitmotiv, needs a constant supply of fresh stories to keep the myth alive. There was John D Rockefeller, a smalltime accountant in Cleveland, who became the world’s most powerful oil magnate at the age of 31. More recently Steve Jobs left university without a degree to start his own computer company, Apple, in a garage; he was a billionaire by his 30s. Now it is the turn of Wal-Mart, and on an even bigger scale. It started out as a small store in Arkansas, one of the poorest states in the United States; yet four members of the founder’s family are now among the 10 richest people in the world. With sales totalling $310bn, the supermarket chain is the world’s largest company (it overtook ExxonMobil in 2003) and the biggest private employer. Wal-Mart sells one in five of all CDs in the US, one in four tubes of toothpaste, one in three disposable nappies. Perhaps more significantly, it accounts for 2.5% of US gross domestic product. Wal-Mart has more financial clout and influence than 150 countries, but it could not have achieved its present powerful position without the favourable legislation passed by national governments. Read the rest...

Weekend Roundup: From Every Time Zone & Blog Zone

From the Notebooks’ Home Site:
Updated Sunday, January 15, 2006 9:29 AM EST
  1. Austria's EU pres'cy, Mozart's 250th connected? (WPH)

  2. Pakistani protesters riot against US strikes (Al-Jazeera)

  3. Polar warning: The difference a dgree makes (SF Chronicle)

  4. Sarkozy: Less imperial presidency in France (France Exp)

  5. Cannibal relaxed at retrial in Germany (Ger Expatica)

  6. Military hospitals suffer when doctors deploy (Stars/Stripes)

  7. Saddam judge resigns from trial (BBC)

  8. Pakistan condemns US air raid on its soil (WPost )

  9. Bahrain's web takes on ruling elite (NYT)

  10. Mostly women and children killed in US raid (Pak'tan Times)

  11. US defends raid on Pakistan village (NYT)

  12. Thai crackdown over protest, 40 arrested (BBC )

  13. Moscow Synagogue rampage wounds eight (STPete Times)

  14. No military coup in Fiji: general fired (New Zealand Herald)

  15. Link between electric light and breast cancer (Toronto G&M)

  16. Former Syrian VP forming government in exile (Haaretz )

  17. US threatens aid cut if Hamas in Palestinian govt (Haaretz )

  18. Environmental group issues whaling ultimatum (SMH)

  19. German intelligence aided US Iraq invasion (FT)

  20. Swiss Senator: Europe "complicit" in CIA jails (BBC)

  21. Hussein palace looted (Washington Post)

  22. Iceland reeling over sex predator-media scandal (IcelandR)

Daily Bloggerback: From the left, the right, the in-between: The bestand worst  in the Blogospheres

  1. Hossein Derakhshan tells US & EU to focus on regime change in Iran.

  2. Ralph Taylor’s Labor Blog on warts in Chile’s privatized Social Security

  3. Abu Ardvark on Arab press speculating over al-Qaeda after bin Laden

  4. Mark Thoma on fuel prices in 1856

  5. Ruy Teixeira on deceptive economic optimism

  6. Buzz Machine’s Jeff Jarvis scoops all on value of scoops v. collaboration

  7. Debbie Schlussel doesn’t like Pamela Anderson bashing Colonel Sanders

  8. Ruminate This turns out the lights on the Alito nomination

  9. Rightwing Nuthouse takes a cue from TV’s “24” to defend torture

  10. Iraq ain’t enough: Captain’s Quarters begins war drools over Iran

  11. Little Green Footballs’ avocado break (thanks)

  12. Daily Kos on a blogger’s ethics conference

  13. Ashcroft raking it in in “retirement”

  14. Say Anything dredges up some Winston Churchill Islamophobia

  15. Jonathan Dworkin, live from Iraq’s Kurdistan: City of Refugees

  16. Beautiful Atrocities riffs on Libya’s Saadi Gaddafi, son of The Gaddafi

Featured Blog I: Internal Affairs
Talking Sex With Mom

So the other day, my mother and I got to talking about sex. Now, this might seem weird to a lot of people, or you might be wondering "Wait, Saf is just now getting the birds-and-bees talk, wha-what?!?" But I assure you. My mother and I talk about everything from Beyonce to butt plugs, and I have been in the sex game about as long as LL has been in the rap game. What can I say, I was an early bloomer. Which is probably what led to my very open attitude about sex and sexuality, and my never-ending quest to improve my sex life. I don't know about anybody else, but I found teenage sex to be some of the most disappointing, anticlimatic shit EVER. As I moved into my twenties, shed my stupid MCMW (middle class midwestern) sensibilities about that shit i.e. baptist, black girl, bullshit repression, I began seeking the thing that should always come after foreplay and before afterglow. Begins with an O, and I ain't talking about Omarion or Oprah. Believe it or not, I had not encountered any O's at 20 (Ummm...apologies to any exes that read this shit). So being the Type A that I am, I got armed with info from books and articles and went on an expedition. And here are some of the things that I've learned... Read the rest at Safire...

Featured Blogger II: Reading Derrida in Teheran
A Modest Proposal: Total Torture Salvation Management
The Brooding Persian/January 14, 2006

[We don't pretend to understand every word we read, let alone every word we write. Nor, thankfully, do most bloggers worth their saltines. Genius is in the eye of the indulgent. With that in mind, we found this post from the Brooding Persian more irresistible, and certainly more valuable, than most of the foghorned prose dribbling out of the Council on Foreign Relations these days.]
Here at the BP, we strive not only to express our disenchantment with the state of our war ravaged planet, but also to offer some sensible solutions every now and again. “Neither whines nor dissimulations,” our motto here. To that end, our humble abode hosted a conference last night attended by many of our more mischievous, perverted inner children best kept out of sight most of the time. The subject was to be aporia. That, of course, immediately raised the ire of the more Americanized BP so enamored of the good old fashioned American common sense, ingenuity and straightforwardness. Oh, how we yearn for its reappearance. Any how, he shouted, “To hell with the pompous elitist Greco-French cow dung. You mean Clusterfuck.” The more bureaucratically inclined wheeler dealer with a propensity to overindulge in the asinine practice of offering meaningless acronyms then suggested a compromise which was developed to serve as the title of this post. An observer of the seedier aspects of the global life started the proceedings with a report on the developments in the Middle East of the omnipresent Western S/M scene.The flourishing of sites such as the Saudi Mistress, and the BDSM Haifa, and the Iranian Mistress and Slave among others are clear indications, he argued, of a new phase of enlightenment, progress, and a much welcomed sign of cultural renaissance in the region all thanks to American presence. Read the rest at the Brooding Persian...