Daily Flog: Hamdan and yeggs, bodegas, gay couplings, Putin’s march through Georgia, food on fine China




Running down the press:

Washington Post: ‘Bin Laden Driver Gets 5½ Years; U.S. Sought 30’

Don’t even bother with William Glaberson‘s weak and watery New York Times story. The WashPost‘s Jerry Markon and Josh White tell it like it is: a “stunning rebuke to prosecutors.”

The only thing that seems out of whack about Salim Hamdan‘s sentence is that his 5½ -year term is shorter than the eight years we’re serving as punk bitches under Bush and Cheney.

Is that fair? Give the guy a couple of more years.

In any case, one of many reasons that the WashPost story is superior — smooth, organized writing is another — is this passage, which can only be inferred from slogging through the stiff, cautious Times piece:

Hamdan’s trial by the first U.S. military commission since World War II was viewed as a test case of a system that the administration has been pushing, despite fierce opposition and repeated delays, since just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The result — a mixed verdict and an extraordinarily light sentence — could raise questions about the administration’s strategy of taking high-profile terrorism trials out of civilian courts and bringing them before the military.

The jury’s decision could also be used by the administration, however, to counter allegations that the tribunals are unfair because the rules give great latitude to prosecutors.

Although Hamdan by most accounts was a minor figure — even the judge called him “a small player” — the military commissions to come will try the alleged perpetrators of the Sept. 11 attacks and other terrorist acts. It is unclear what the decision might mean for other cases.

For legal beagles, see Jurist for background links.

New York Observer: ‘Does McCain Have a Chance in an Election About the Economy?’

Wrong-headed stuff from Jennifer Rubin:

Democrats are frustrated and Republicans are amazed: Barack Obama is not running away with the presidential race.

This is the presidential election, we have been told, that a Democrat can’t lose. The economy is in decline, with unemployment on the rise, President Bush’s approval ratings in the basement and virtually everyone convinced that America is “on the wrong track.” But the race remains tight, at least according to the polls.

The story’s so careful to be color-blind when we know that America isn’t so let’s not act as if it were.

America still has a Negro in the woodpile. If Obama were white, he’d be crushing McCain right now.

This year’s presidential race? It’s the race, stupid.


C’mon, headline writers, get it together. That’s almost as lame as today’s hed in the Green Bay Press-Gazette: “Packers, Favre begin a new era.”

Be thankful that you’re not stuck in Green Bay, where the cheese is redolent but the sportswriting stinks:

Green Bay Packers fans surely were stunned and some appalled when they saw Brett Favre holding up his signature No. 4 jersey for the cameras Thursday in Cleveland, but for the New York Jets and not for the Packers franchise he’s come to embody over the past 16 years.

Close the gates. Favre’s the last immigrant from Green Bay allowed in our city.


I’m serious about closing the gates. We’ve got a bunch of religious nuts out there trying to bust up our gay pals’ wedding plans:

It’s not his call to make — and Gov. Paterson “sidestepped the democratic process” by ordering state agencies to recognize out-of-state gay marriages, a Christian legal group argued yesterday.

“It’s undisputed that marriage is with a man and a woman,” Brian Raum, a lawyer for the Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, told Bronx Supreme Court Judge Lucy Billings, using a standard dictionary definition in the complicated case.

Post: ‘Fast food deal gets killer to admit his guilt’

Talk about taking a bite out of crime!

For two years, a Brooklyn thug sat in an Oregon jail awaiting trial for a coldblooded murder, and all the fat felon could think about was food – a bucket of greasy chicken, a mouthful of lasagna, a slice of pizza.

See the mug. The guy doesn’t look chewish.


I detect a theme here.

Slate: ‘The Seeds of Violence’

More food for thought: Up close and personal, a Punjab to the stomach.

Los Angeles Times: ‘The New York bodega fights for its life’

Now I’m sure there’s a theme.

Just yesterday (see the 8/7 Daily Flog), the New York Times told us about the rich snoots’ crisis of not being able to drink at their high-priced places.

For the rest of us, Erika Hayasaki steps all the way back to California this morning to put perspective on our bodega crisis:

Across the city, a food crisis is unfolding in low-income neighborhoods, as one-third of New York’s supermarkets have closed over the last five years, according to a recent city report. Most New Yorkers don’t own cars; having a nearby store is important when grocery shopping means traveling by foot, cab or subway. Well-to-do residents who don’t live near a supermarket can pay extra to order groceries online and have them delivered; poor residents must turn to the closest bodegas.

“The sales have been down for the last nine months,” said Jose Fernandez, president of the Bodega Assn. of the United States, which claims membership of 7,800 of New York’s 11,400 bodegas. A weakening economy and rising rents and food prices have forced many to close, he said; the number of bodegas in New York has decreased by nearly 1000 from two years ago, according to his organization’s most recent tally.

For decades, bodegas — the crowded corner stores started by Puerto Rican and Dominican entrepreneurs in the 1960s and 1970s — have textured the backdrop of New York. The Spanish word comes from bodeguita, a general store in Latin America, and has come to refer to such New York shops owned by people of all ethnic backgrounds.

In the last decade, many Latino longtime shop owners have left to open bodegas in places like Pennsylvania, Rhode Island or Connecticut, or moved on to bigger businesses, passing their shops to other immigrant groups, including Koreans, Middle Easterners and the newest wave of Latino immigrants, Mexicans.

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Russia battles Georgia over breakaway region of South Ossetia’

Cold Warriors are creaming in their jeans because someone is finally bombing Stalin’s hometown. And it’s Russia that’s doing it!

This is some serious stuff going on the Caucasus, and naturally it’s mostly ignored by the U.S. press, though the Times does report: “Fiercest Fighting in Years Near Georgian Border.”

Slate: ‘Broken Windows: Farhad Manjoo takes readers’ questions about Microsoft’s sly new PR campaign for Vista.’

The daily newsprint press ignores at its own peril this kind of hybrid reporting on important topics.

What if you were forced to buy an SUV right now? That’s what Bill Gates is trying to make you do by shoving Vista onto your mother-friggin’-board.

This Slate item is 21st century consumer news.

Slate: ‘The Anthrax Truth Movement: The Web searches for holes in the FBI’s latest lone-gunman theory’

Farhad Manjoo (yes, him again) calls it right:

The FBI’s cartload of paper is unlikely to settle the case. Like 9/11 and the Kennedy assassination, the anthrax attack bears the hallmarks of a tragedy destined to spawn innumerable alternative theories: It’s an event of world-changing consequence with a murky official narrative that can be construed, depending on your view of the government, as either pretty sensible or unbelievably bizarre. The FBI has outlined a classic “lone gunman” case.

Daily News: ‘The 10 loudest political statements in Olympics history’

Mildly interesting after this intriguing David Hinckley lede:

Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have spent a combined $11 million on advertising time on the NBC telecasts and cablecasts of the Olympic Games that formally open Friday in Beijing.

Because it’s unusual for Presidential candidates to buy national television advertising time anywhere — it hasn’t happened in a general election since Bob Dole bought one spot in 1996 — some viewers may be mildly surprised to see political messages popping up between a Greco-Roman wrestling match and the 400-meter semifinals.

New York Review of Books: ‘China: Humiliation & the Olympics’

You want to try to understand China?

No, let me put it another way, as a direct order: You want to try to understand China.

That’s for the sake of your future and your children’s future in a world in which China’s burgeoning consumer class is elbowing the U.S. consumer class out of the way.

Avert your eyes from the glare of endless promos, ads, and Olympics coverage and read Orville Schell‘s piece.

And speaking of food, check out Schell’s Modern Meat, his 1984 exposé of factory farming. You’ll have to search out a printed copy. But that’s OK. It’s better to wait until after lunch to read this brilliant reporting on the meatpacking industry.