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168 posts from October 2006

October 31, 2006

Oaxaca update

Peter Kuper has a remarkable update from the ground in Oaxaca--his dispatches include prose, original artworks, and photographs of the teachers' strike/army crackdown in the southern Mexican province.

Marilyn Musgrave's men maul media

Watch how the handlers of the notoriously homophobic Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave's partake in the latest GOP craze: mauling the media.

When the Progress TV crew approached the Republican Congresswoman on the street, her handlers tried to intimidate them and force them off a public sidewalk. When that didn't work they put their hands on the reporters' faces, on their bodies, and on their camera equipment.

One of Musgrave's people was obviously trying to provoke a fight, getting in the reporter's face and sneering, "What are you gonna do about it?"

"It" being the reporter's polite request for the thugs to get their hands of people and equipment.

What a pathetic spectacle, all to avoid a simple question from an undecided voted in Musgrave's district: "Given the choice, would you rather save a soldier's life, or prevent a gay marriage?"

Bigots are bullies. Never forget it.

HT: Pam Spaulding

George Allen's thugs attack journalist

George Allen's thugs attacked Mike Stark at a press conference at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville, Virginia, today. Stark was covering the campaign appearance for his blog, Calling All Wingnuts. Allen's handlers set upon Stark after he pressed for details about Allen's arrest record and allegations that he abused his first wife. Watch the video.

Allen's people nearly put Mike's head through a plate glass door. John of AMERICAblog has screenshots of the attack.

Mike Stark, a former Marine, runs the popular blog Calling All Wingnuts. He is a first year law student at the University of Virginia.

I've been informed by private email that Mike has filed a police report and will press charges against his assailants.

Update: Many established media reports are incorrectly describing Mike Stark as a "protester" or a "heckler." Mike is neither of those things. He's a journalist who was covering a media event for his widely read publication. The established media may not realize that they could be next. More likely, they've already figured out what happens to correspondents who ask embarrassing questions. Hence the lapdog journalism we've come to expect.

Be a hack, or get attacked.

Pentagon steps up blog monitoring program

The Pentagon is stepping up what it calls its 'media war' unit (aka its online propaganda efforts):

The US defence department has set up a new unit to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet. The Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter "inaccurate" news stories and exploit new media. [...]

The unit would reportedly monitor media such as weblogs and would also employ "surrogates", or top politicians or lobbyists who could be interviewed on TV and radio shows.

[BBC]
Officially, the Pentagon is primarily interested in monitoring the blogs of foreign insurgents rather than than domestic political critics. I'm glad they emphasized that because otherwise I would have suspected that the new "media war" unit might be some kind of domestic spying. Or an excuse to flood YouTube with tax-payer funded propaganda clips about how great things are going in Iraq. It's illegal for the government to produce propaganda for domestic consumption, but I bet it's perfectly legal for the Pentagon to put out propaganda on the internet and claim it was directed at foreign audiences.

Vietnam may restore habeas corpus

The Vietnamese government is expected to repeal a 10-year-old law that allows the state to detain people without trial. Ironically, one impetus for restoring habeas corpus is the prospect of normalizing trade relations with the US:

"Whoever is detained [in Vietnam] will have to know what they are being detained for and be given an opportunity to go to court and to meet with a lawyer - rights which were not granted before," said Michael Orona, the US state department's deputy director of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, told the AFP news agency. [BBC]

Let's make a game out of it: Whoever reinstates habeas first wins! The loser gets kicked out of the WTO.

Real elephants more self-aware than metaphorical counterparts


African elephant, originally uploaded by ucumari.

Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror and use their reflections to explore hidden parts of themselves, a measure of subjective self-awareness that until now has been shown definitively only in humans and apes, researchers reported yesterday. [WaPo]

Bush says America loses under Democrats while Sadr City is off limits to US troops as radical Shiite militiamen infiltrate the Iraqi Army.

October 30, 2006

Bilal Hussein, the right wing blogs, and the GOP

Excellent post by Glenn Greenwald on what the lawless detention of AP photographer Bilal Hussein reveals about the Bush administration.

Sy Hersh interview

Matthew Hays of the Montreal Mirror interviewed investigative journalist Sy Hersh, excerpt follows:

M: Why does so much of the American public often seem wilfully ignorant? Much of the populace seems intent on not knowing what is going on in terms of political and foreign affairs.

SH: This is the strangest interview I’ve ever had.

M: Why?

SH: Because you’re so fucking opinionated. I don’t disagree with you, but we’re just rolling through your thoughts on things. It is sort of silly. No, it’s not silly, but we’re just rolling from whatever obsession you have to the next. You’re pretty obsessional.

HT: Pacific Views.

Lieberman camp sends irate letter to New York Times


Joementum?, originally uploaded by Lindsay Beyerstein.

Joe Lieberman's communications director penned an irate letter to the New York Times on October 30, ostensibly to complain about an editorial the paper ran last Sunday:

Had the New York Times taken an honest measure of the two U.S. Senate candidates in Connecticut, there is no question it would have followed the lead of the Hartford Courant and the New Haven Register in endorsing Joe Lieberman over Ned Lamont.

Lieberman’s record of accomplishment, his unfailing leadership on many of the very issues the Times promotes, his personal integrity and even the way he has conducted himself since the August primary – which the Times purportedly weighed in making its endorsement – should have made him the hands-down choice.

Instead, the Times’ ill-informed and tendentious endorsement of Ned Lamont reads as if the editors had outsourced the editorial writing to the same crew of blindingly angry bloggers who have teamed with the Lamont Campaign to twist Joe Lieberman’s record beyond all recognition.

What resulted -– a cant recitation of discredited arguments, along with a willful ignorance of Senator Lieberman’s many accomplishments for the state and the country –- reveals far more about the Times’ knee-jerk biases and lack of rigor than either of the candidates.

The Times most obviously shows its narrow-mindedness by reducing the entire campaign to the war in Iraq, despite the fact that two-thirds of voters in Connecticut consistently say it is not their top concern. Even worse, the Times shows its disinterest in the truth by regurgitating several of the bloggers’ biggest falsehoods and grossly mischaracterizing Senator Lieberman’s position on Iraq.

[Read the whole thing on Lieberman's blog]

Somebody's internal polls must be disappointing.

Unchecked global warming will devastate economy

A report commissioned by British Treasury chief Gordon Brown concludes that unchecked global warming will devastate the world economy unless countries act quickly to reduce their carbon emissions:

LONDON -- Unchecked global warming will devastate the world economy on the scale of the world wars and the Great Depression, a major British report said Monday.

Introducing the report, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said unabated climate change would eventually cost the world between 5 percent and 20 percent of global gross domestic product each year. [WaPo]

The Guardian has a much more detailed review of the findings of the Stern Report:

Commenting on the report, Professor Michael Grubb, a professor of climate change and energy policy at Imperial College, London, and Cambridge University said: "The Stern Review finally closes a chasm that has existed for 15 years between the precautionary concerns of scientists, and the cost-benefit views of many economists.

"It finds that most economists' methods have been inadequate for a problem of this scale. Argued with meticulous economic detail, Stern concludes that the problem is indeed massive and urgent - but that it can be solved.

"The most encouraging feature of the Stern review is its conclusion that the problem can be solved by building upon the existing foundations of emissions trading and the Kyoto protocol, combined with strengthened attention to the other pillars of behaviour, efficiency and technological innovation. [Guardian]

You can read the full report on the official website of Her Majesty's Treasury: Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change.