Categories
NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES

Who needs a bailout? The New York soldiers heading to Afghan War frontlines.

The frightening Taliban invasion of the Afghan capital Kabul, courtesy of Al Jazeera‘s Todd Baer. Compare the CNN and Al Jazeera stories.

Bailout? If by accident of birth, you were in Kabul yesterday, you’d be dying to bail out. You would have been running for your life while crazed Taliban stormed major government buildings and blew themselves up. A score of non-Taliban people were killed and fourscore wounded yesterday in Afghanistan’s capital in the ominous assault.

Not to worry: Hell is on the way. U.S. troops, led by New York’s 10th Mountain Division, are returning to Central Asia after being unjustifiably diverted from Uzbekistan (where they named their camp’s muddy streets after the L.I.E., Fifth Avenue, and so on) to Iraq a few years ago to be blown up by Iraqi rebels. Bad news, everybody: There’s a spring offensive coming against the Taliban, and it won’t be like the relatively bloodless capture of Baghdad. It’ll be like what happened after George W. Bush declared, “Mission accomplished!”

See the sprightly agitprop “10th Mountain Division Leads New Deployments to Afghanistan” from the Defense Department’s American Forces Press Service. Or check out the previews from ABC and CBS.

So, prepare yourselves for depressing news this spring of a non-financial variety: The expected sudden rise of U.S. deaths in Afghanistan will shove at least some of the Wall Street-inspired news off the front pages.

After all, if by the grace of Darwin or God you happen to live in the U.S., you may very well lose your home or job, but you probably won’t be blown up. Unless you’ve been brainwashed by the government’s ad campaigns and have joined the military. In which case, you, too, might find yourself in beautiful downtown Kabul trying to stamp out the Muslim fanatics.

It was only 25 years ago that Ronald Reagan hosted the Taliban in the White House, praised them as heroic “freedom fighters,” and drummed up money for them. And Texas oilmen feted the creepily fundamentalist Taliban leaders with backyard barbecues.

Now the Taliban are returning the favor by trying to barbecue Americans. They no longer need a stimulus from the White House.

You need one, so have another cup of coffee and click on these headlines…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Bloomberg: ‘Bank Failures May Reach 1,000 on Bad Loans’

N.Y. Post: ‘BE MY CUT-RATE VALENTINE’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Mother cries “tears of happiness” after baby’s life-saving brain surgery’

N.Y. Post: ‘COP WILL SURRENDER IN BEATING’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘A daring river rescue by man down on luck’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Wants Funds Restored to Stimulus’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Job well done?! 4 Merrill execs got $121M in bonuses on eve of bailout’

N.Y. Times: ‘In New Procedure, Artificial Arm Listens to Brain’

N.Y. Post: ‘B’KLYN COP SHOOTS TEEN GUNMAN’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Gov waffles on tax hikes for wealthy’

Reuters: ‘U.S. mortgage applications slump to 8-year low’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Attack in Kabul Leaves 26 Dead’

N.Y. Post: ‘SULLY AND PAL RELIVE BIRD BLITZ’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Another day, another $294G’

N.Y. Times: ‘Comeback for 10-Year-Old Spaniel’

N.Y. Post: ‘ALOMAR IN “AIDS” SHOCK: EX-LOVE SUES MET GREAT’

N.Y. Times: ‘New School Faculty and President Remain at Odds’

International Herald Tribune: ‘U.S. is looking to the “vultures” to rescue banks’

N.Y. Post: ‘BRAVE GAL IDS “HIT MAN”‘

Wall Street Journal: ‘Economists React: Treasury Announcement Fails to Satisfy’

N.Y. Post: ‘I WAS ANGEL OF FAKE DEATH’

N.Y. Times: ‘Gates Orders Review of Policy on Soldiers’ Coffins’

N.Y. Post: ‘LOTTERY MAY BET ITS MARBLES ON THE MARKET’

N.Y. Post: ‘SHOVEL MURDER’

N.Y. Times: ‘On Trail of War Criminals, NBC News Is Criticized’

N.Y. Post: ‘BIG PUSSY $ETTLES WITH EX’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Foreclosure “Tsunami” Hits Mortgage Servicers’

N.Y. Post: ‘”GRAFT” RABBI OFF HOOK IN DOC ASSAULT’

Forbes: ‘Geithner’s Cash For Trash’

Forbes: ‘Why A $99 iPhone Is Bad For Apple’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘”Booty call” sparked fight’

Bloomberg: ‘Buffett, Who Invests “Forever,” Finds Shorter Time Horizons Unprofitable’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Mark Green wants his old public advocate gig’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Paterson puttin’ Lotto faith in stock market’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Reverse ban on pics of soldiers’ coffins, say families of fallen soldiers’

Categories
Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES

Daily Flog: Barack Obama — already a virtual star

With recession a reality, you might want to plot your escape into virtual reality. So unless your name is Rush Limbaugh, you could try Super Obama World. The BBC describes the free online game as “Obama collecting flags and dodging lipstick-wearing pit bulls, lobbyists and Sarah Palin.”

Right in the tradition of sub-genius Robert Carr‘s virtual surreality ancient-Mac game from two decades ago, Mormonoids of the Deep — “Trapped in town of Mormonville with only a suitcase nuke and a Colt .45 you must destroy the evil Yogsoggsmith before you sober up,” Carr’s still-active site explains.

Back in the real world, another racial barrier has crumbled. First it was lefty Obama. Now it’s righty half-Filipino Tim Lincecum, the San Francisco Giants pitcher who just won the Cy Young.

Lincecum’s yet another successful product of what the likes of dead Mississippi senator Theodore Bilbo used to call “mongrelization.” (See “Equal Rites,” Press Clips, November 6)

Rest in pieces, Bilbo.

Meanwhile, watch for the release of reality game Great Depression 2 . . .

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

AP: ‘Car bombings in Iraqi capital kill 4, wound 22’

N.Y. Post: ’30 PERCENT HIKE LOOMS FOR QUEA$Y RIDERS’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Former Taiwanese president arrested over corruption allegations’

BBC: ‘Forced convergence of China and US’

Agence France Presse: ‘Six dead as tanker bomb rocks Afghanistan’s Kandahar’

N.Y. Post: ‘HERPES SUIT TWIST’

Chicago Tribune: ‘Bush lament: Could’ve been more “artful” ‘

BBC: ‘Obama “to curb role of lobbyists” ‘

Transition chief John Podesta said Mr Obama would introduce “the strictest and most far reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history”.

He promised the “most open and transparent” ever handover of power.

Boston Globe: ‘Same-sex marriages to begin Wednesday in Conn.’

Boston Globe: ‘Faneuil Hall Marketplace owner might face bankruptcy’

New Republic: ‘The South Is More Vibrant, Varied, And Relevant To American Politics Than the New York Times Will Have You Believe’

BBC: ‘Obama takes lead in virtual world’

Super Obama World has Obama running round a world modelled on Nintendo’s Super Mario World.

The game takes a satirical look at US politics, with Obama collecting flags and dodging lipstick-wearing pit bulls, lobbyists and Sarah Palin.

The game is free to play online, and the developers plan to add further episodes throughout Obama’s presidency.

Washington Post: ‘Top Two Officials In U.S. Intelligence Expect to Lose Jobs: Obama Silent Amid Conflicting Advice’

New Republic: ‘The Imperial Dick: Has Cheney’s thirst for executive power weakened Obama’s chance to use it?’

New Republic: ‘Si Se Puede?: On the Hispanic experience in the age of Obama’

N.Y. Times: ‘Lobbyists Swarm the Treasury for Piece of Bailout Pie’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Urinal golf club improves flow of game’

Categories
Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Daily Flog: Kicking the habit but blindly drunk, hounded by Afghans, woofed at by Hillary

Running down the press:

To the dismay of headline buffs, the New York Post let a good one slip away this morning. Buried in its canned Weird But True roundup is the news that Italian priest Antonio Rungi planned a beauty contest for nuns, “Miss Sister 2008,” but canceled it under pressure.

And this isn’t a separate splash in the Post?

The tab decided to focus on the other beauty content, the one in Denver, where it managed to get in a well-justified shot at Hillary:

HILL: ‘BARACK’S MY CANDIDATE’; BUT HEAPS MORE PRAISE ON HER BACKERS THAN ON HIM

Brendan Scott and Maggie Haberman crafted a solid lede:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton last night declared that former rival Barack Obama “is my candidate” and urged her backers to let go, lay down their swords and vote for him over John McCain.

But while throwing her political weight behind her one-time foe, Clinton said little that boosted Obama’s personal story, political résumé — nor did she defend him against GOP attacks that he’s unqualified for office.

Good piece, but the Post didn’t have to kick its headline habit by practically ignoring the beauty contest for nuns.

Christ, it merited separate pieces in outlets around the world — even in the government-controlled Kazinform in Kazakhstan.

The Calgary Sun headlined it “Sisters’ Pageant Just Nun-Sense,” and the Daily Mash in the U.K. proclaimed, “Nun Lovers Devastated” before veering off into its usual satire by “quoting” Rungi:

“I wanted to reflect the inner beauty of my holy sisters. But if you just want to look at nuns’ tits then I suggest you try the Jesuits.”

Even the mostly moribund Chicago Sun-Times found space amid its Demo convention news to weigh in with “Beauty Contest Doesn’t Have Prayer.”

Isn’t it big news when a priest is obsessed with female beauty?


Salon: ‘We drive as we live’

Kevin Berger had the good sense to hitch a ride on NYC’s mad streets and expressways with Brooklyn’s Tom Vanderbilt, author of Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do. (See Vanderbilt’s blog.)

Reporting from the front (seat), Berger weaves:

“You have to be careful here,” [Vanderbilt] says. “People come blazing out of the Battery Tunnel with an E-Z Pass and don’t stop for you.”

“I notice you didn’t signal,” I say.

“It’s New York drivers. It’s one thing I’ve observed from living here: They will not slow down. It’s almost like you’re taunting them. I was told in Boston that signaling is revealing your intentions to the enemy. It’s the same here. You’re better off not signaling.”


Times: ‘Clinton Delivers Emphatic Plea for Unity’

Ridiculously lame headline that doesn’t even back up the story’s angle, which is surprisingly heady, at least in the second graf. Unfortunately, even there, Patrick Healy and his editors made sure that the syntax was typically stiff and stilted:

With her husband looking on tenderly and her supporters watching with tears in their eyes, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton deferred her own dreams on Tuesday night and delivered an emphatic plea at the Democratic National Convention to unite behind her rival, Senator Barack Obama, no matter what ill will lingered.

Mrs. Clinton, who was once certain that she would win the Democratic nomination this year, also took steps on Tuesday — deliberate steps, aides said — to keep the door open to a future bid for the presidency. She rallied supporters in her speech, and, at an earlier event with 3,000 women, described her passion about her own campaign. And her aides limited input on the speech from Obama advisers, while seeking advice from her former strategist, Mark Penn, a loathed figure in the Obama camp.


Times: ‘Taliban Gain New Foothold in Afghan City After Attack’

Too bad that Carlotta Gall‘s important story from Kandahar has a feature-y lede on such a good hard-news piece. The significance of a Taliban jail break in June starts in her third and fourth grafs, and you have to give the Times credit for surprisingly using such adjectives as “spectacular” and “catastrophic” in the same sentence:

The prison break, on June 13, was a spectacular propaganda coup for the Taliban not only in freeing their comrades and flaunting their strength, but also in exposing the catastrophic weakness of the Afghan government, its army and the police, as well as the international forces trying to secure Kandahar.

In the weeks since the prison break, security has further deteriorated in this southern Afghan city, once the de facto capital of the Taliban, that has become a renewed front line in the battle against the radical Islamist movement. The failure of the American-backed Afghan government to protect Kandahar has rippled across the rest of the country and complicated the task of NATO forces, which have suffered more deaths here this year than at any time since the 2001 invasion.

Why she didn’t lede with the fourth graf is beyond her editors. And that contributed, no doubt, to the soft headline on a story carrying ominous news about what may turn out to be a watershed moment in the worsening Afghan War.


Times: ‘A Decline in Uninsured Is Reported for 2007’

As predicted in yesterday’s Press Clips, the big dailies mostly limped home in the race to report the bad economic news eructated by the Census Bureau.

But there was some good nagging. Go straight to Steven Pearlstein‘s column in the Washington Post. He cuts through the bullshit:

Hey, good news on the income front: The Census Bureau reported yesterday that median earnings for full-time male workers rose by $1,653 last year, to $45,113, after adjusting for inflation.

Another year like that, and maybe the typical male worker will finally catch up to where he was in 1973.

The Times‘s Ian Urbina focused almost solely on the health-insurance angle of the stats.

The WashPost‘s news story, by Michael A. Fletcher, takes another angle, the poverty rate.

But Urbina’s focus on the health-insurance figures is at least serviceable because he throws in the big caveats very high. (Disclosure: I’ve edited Urbina’s work and respect it.)

And Urbina got some good context that dampens the supposedly good news about the number of uninsured Americans:

Health-care experts and advocates for the poor said the report also presented an outdated picture regarding health insurance. The rate of people without health insurance declined to 15.3 percent in 2007, from 15.8 percent a year earlier.

“In 2007, at least 26 states made efforts to expand coverage, but as the economy has turned downward so have state efforts,” said Diane Rowland, executive vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Ms. Rowland added that insurance premiums had risen faster than wages and inflation, causing more people to seek insurance from public programs.


Daily Scotsman: ‘Young Scots risk losing their sight in bid to get blind drunk’

The best story of the day, and it’s too bad that the big U.S. papers ignored it.

The Times, for instance, limited its Scotland coverage this morning to “the Royal Bank of Scotland announced on Wednesday it appointed a trio of non-executive directors in effort to address weaknesses on its board.”

Fascinating. Now here’s the interesting news out of Edinburgh, courtesy of Craig Brown:

With one of the highest rates of binge drinking among teenagers, Scotland already has an unenviable reputation with alcohol. But now experts are warning about a new trend among young people that is aimed at speeding up the process of getting drunk – pouring shots of alcohol directly into their eyes.

Known as “one-in-the-eye”, it involves using shot glasses in a manner similar to that of eye-wash.

Despite the risk of blindness, users hope that by absorbing the alcohol via the membranes of the eye, it will enter the bloodstream more quickly and have a stronger effect when it reaches the brain.

Brown’s piece continues with a taste of history of this, like, totally insane practice, dude:

Originating in the bars of holiday resorts on the continent, the dangerous fad has caught on in university bars and nightclubs, despite potentially catastrophic consequences.

One leading doctor warned those who indulge in the craze are seriously endangering their sight.

Expect more hipsters than usual staggering around Williamsburg’s streets.


Daily News: ‘Hillary Clinton leaves no room to doubt support for Barack Obama’

Talk about going blind:

Playing the role of healer, an impassioned Hillary Clinton delivered the most dramatic speech of her storied life Tuesday night – even if it wasn’t the one she wanted to give.

Moving forcefully but gracefully to tamp down the enduring bitterness over her tough primary battle with Barack Obama, Clinton unequivocally beseeched her Democratic supporters to follow her lead and vote for the Illinois senator in November.

Ludicrous, though you can’t help but perversely love the 19th century feel of “unequivocally beseeched.”

Fill the inkwell and fetch the carriage, my good man! I warrant there’s no dearth of speechifying to report to the citizenry!

 

Categories
Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Daily Flog: Games — Nuclear, Political, and/or Olympic

 

(Roy Edroso of Runnin’ Scared here. Even gadflies have to rest their wings sometimes, so Ward Harkavy is on vacation and I’m filling in as best I can for a few days. )

New York Times: “In Nuclear Net’s Undoing, a Web of Shadowy Deals

Switzerland has destroyed evidence pertaining to a “family of Swiss engineers suspected of helping smuggle nuclear technology to Libya and Iran.” But our Government isn’t upset about it — it’s pleased, because the CIA had been secretly working with the same family to feed damaged nuclear provender to the same countries. While the Democrats have been pushing for worldwide nuclear inspection and controls for years, Republicans seems to prefer handling things with cloak-and-dagger operations. Your call as to which approach is less likely to get us blown up.

Washington Post: “ Experience Is Double-Edged Sword for The Ticket

The Republicans think Joe Biden is a liability to the Democratic ticket. The VP candidate-designate and Obama have disagreed on some issues, particularly the war in Iraq, so the McCain campaign expects “a debate between Joe Biden and Barack Obama about whether Barack Obama has the judgment and experience to lead.” Biden cannot be expected to agree, and we recall another Vice-Presidential candidate who called his future boss a practitioner of “voodoo economics,” but hey, it got Republican spin on the front page of the WashPost. Not that that’s hard.

Los Angeles Times: “Remembering Beijing

The 2008 Olympics “were a triumph for a people and a government determined to show their skill and confidence, as both athletes and organizers, to a world that once treated China as a weak, servile nation.” And nothing spoiled the party: the protest pens were quiet, since the Chinese Government failed to license any protests for them, and anyone who tried to mount an unlicensed demo was swiftly arrested. Now some Chinese hope, per the Toronto Globe and Mail, that their country can “solve its economic and social problems, especially inflation, the slumping stock market and the environment.” If they do, it won’t be because citizens of the People’s Republic, or of anywhere else, have anything to say about. Nor would we expect it to. And that’s China’s real triumph.

Categories
Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Daily Flog: Obama in PA, Stevens in DC, Lieberman in WSJ, Russians in GA (non-US)

(Roy Edroso of Runnin’ Scared here. Even gadflies have to rest their wings sometimes, so Ward Harkavy is on vacation and I’m filling in as best I can for a few days. )

New York Times: “Rural Swath of Big State Tests Obama

Those bitter Pennsylvanians are once again hauled out by the allegedly Obama-worshipping Times. Though “Labor operatives line up behind Mr. Obama, and about a third of the 35 white voters who were interviewed leaned toward him,” the Clinton voters are thought to be not entirely on board, so it’s all in the hands of the guys who think Obama refused to shake hands with the troops.


Washington Post: “Judge Won’t Move Trial For Stevens To Alaska

The fixer from the 49th State will have to stand trial (for failing to disclose receipt of gifts) in Washington instead of Alaska, where citizens have sent him to the Senate seven times. On the bright side, everyone in DC, from judges to jurors, knows how the game is played. The downside is that Stevens has been playing it for a long time and some people may think it’s time he lost one.


Wall Street Journal: “Lieberman Agonistes

This editorial suggests the Senator from Connecticut bothers Democrats because he’s an apostate, and Republicans (the kind who write to the Journal, anyway) because he’s a liberal. The reliably pro-Republican paper naturally admires Lieberman for bolting the Democrats, and suggests this will bring out his conservative instincts under a McCain Administration, but while Lieberman would “be a better vice president than many oft-mooted Republicans,” the Journal prefers McCain keep him on the down-low lest the rubes revolt.


Los Angeles Times: “Russia to Keep Soldiers in Georgia.”

Rather than wait till Friday’s announced pullout to reveal how far they’re willing to go, Russia signals that it intends to continue looking after its South Ossetian interests from the Georgian side, with some troops remaining “just outside the Georgian city of Gori.” The nationalistic argument plays well inside Russia, but not with the U.S., which is “attempting to dispatch several military vessels” to the Georgian coast.

Categories
Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Daily Flog: Russian Bear Goes Bullish; Pakistan Dithers; Obama Strikes Back

(Roy Edroso of Runnin’ Scared here. Even gadflies have to rest their wings sometimes, so Ward Harkavy is on vacation and I’m filling in as best I can for a few days. )

Reuters:Russia says troops to leave Georgia

Having rejected a U.N. plan that would have evacuated them from a “buffer zone” on Georgia’s side of the South Ossetia border, Russia agrees to abide by French President Sarkozy’s original plan and withdaw its forces from deeper inside the former Soviet Socialist Republic by Friday.

The West is unmoved. Secretary of State Rice says the Russians “intend to strangle Georgia and its economy” and are “more and more the outlaw in this conflict.”

The Wall Street Journal mocks the warnings NATO ministers gave Russia in Brussels (“not going to permit a new line to be drawn in Europe”) as “Empty Words,” because “there was no move to fast-track Georgia’s bid to join NATO, nor a pledge to help the battered democracy rebuild its defenses.”

Meanwhile Georgia accuses Russia of holding Georgia hostages and stealing American Humvees (which Russia admits, or rather boasts) and holds a hard line on total Russian evacuation.

It’s hard to judge the level of seriousness with which these sabers are being rattled. Do Putin and Medvedev want Georgia, or just Peace With Honor in South Ossetia? Does the West have the stomach for Cold War II or any other kind of war with Russia? We’ll see where the chess pieces lay on Saturday morning.


Bloomberg: “Musharraf Ouster Fails to End Deadlock Over Judges

You’d think Musharraf’s resignation would lead to at least a brief period comity among the members of the Pakistan ruling colation. But they’re arguing over the dispenation of the judges Musharref fired and placed under house arrest last year to maintain the strength of his shaky dictatorship. “Sharif [of the Pakistan Muslim League] wants the judges restored through a parliamentary resolution that sends the present judiciary back home,” says Bloomberg. “Zardari [of the People’s Party, and husband of the late Benazir Bhutto] prefers reinstatement that also retains the current judges appointed by Musharraf on Nov. 3.” Pakistan’s Geo TV says Zadari also wants “indemnity” for Mushareff before the judges return, lest they wreak vengeance.

“If I were the Bush administration,” the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations’ Daniel Markey tells Bloomberg, “I’d kiss goodbye the chance of having a workable Pakistani government” this year. That’s bad news for the Bush Administration, which has counted on Pakistan to help contain Taliban agents in the region.

Bush’s weak response to the Pakistani impeachment crisis and continued support for the departed dictator suggests that he is unsure which new government faction to support — that is, which will prevail. But with his network of foreign support crumbling worldwide, he may not have time to wait before picking a side.


New York Times: “Obama’s Ads in Key States Go on Attack

Obama, “whose candidacy has been built in part on a promise to transcend traditional politics,” has nonetheless started running “sustained and hard-hitting” negative ads against McCain on local TV, while his national ads retain a sunnier aspect. The new ads contrast what-we-worry McCain stump quotes with the dire state of the nation, and stress the connection between McCain and the unpopular current President.

Evan Tracey of TNS’ Campaign Media Analysis Group calls it “go[ing] quietly negative.”

The Times questions Obama’s use of a clueless McCain quote on the economy that “was from a debate in January, before the economy took several turns for the worse,” and says that McCain has seen been properly gloomy on the subject since. FactCheck.org also complains.

Considering that McCain’s ads have of late been about how Obama is like Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, this is rich and we don’t mean Frank. In negative advertising, the Obama campaign is so much more sinned against than sinning — not to mention damaged by the relentless McCain onslaught — that they can probably afford to ignore the pearl-clutching of the Times and FactCheck.org.

Refreshingly, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon seems to think so, too. “It’s ‘game on, the money’s in the bank,” says McMahon. “Let the McCain campaign chase us around the country, if they can find us.”

Categories
Living Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Daily Flog: Poland to the rescue, homicidal geezer school-bus driver, China imports gold, Georgia imports Rice, more abuse (ho-hum) of Iraqis

Running down the press:

Times: ‘U.S. and Poland Set Missile Deal’

Refusing to take off their Cold War monocles, Thom Shanker and Nicholas Kulish ignore the hilarity of Condi Rice going to Georgia to simmer things down. Instead, they try to get poetic on our asses:

The deal reflected growing alarm in countries like Poland, once a conquered Soviet client state, about a newly rich and powerful Russia’s intentions in its former cold war sphere of power. In fact, negotiations dragged on for 18 months — but were completed only as old memories and new fears surfaced in recent days.

The funniest line in this super-self-consciously serious piece:

Polish officials said the agreement would strengthen the mutual commitment of the United States to defend Poland, and vice versa.

Vice versa . . . Poland defending the U.S. . . . let’s see . . . oh, yeah, maybe we could get Poland to step in on behalf of Williamsburg’s Poles to try to stop Manhattan developers from wrecking the Brooklyn enclave’s waterfront.

Solidarność with the hipsters!

See FAIR’s fresh dissection of media blubber: “Georgia/Russia Conflict Forced Into Cold War Frame.”


McClatchy: ‘U.S. ‘no’ to intervention leaves Russia in control of Georgia’

One of the best U.S. sources of world news — and probably the liveliest — the McClatchy D.C. Bureau (the old Knight-Ridder operation) is a solid site. For the full flavor of the good reporting and breezy writing, try this from Nancy A. Youssef, Tom Lasseter, and Dave Montgomery:

American officials on Thursday ended speculation that the U.S. military might come to the rescue of Georgia’s beleaguered government, confirming Russia’s virtual takeover of the former Soviet republic and heralding Moscow’s reemergence as the dominant power in eastern Europe.

“I don’t see any prospect for the use of military force by the United States in this situation. Is that clear enough?” Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told reporters in his first public comments since the crisis began Aug. 7.

“The empire strikes back,” said Ariel Cohen, a Russia expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Gates’ comments came just 24 hours after President Bush dramatically announced in a televised White House appearance that American military aircraft and ships would be dispatched to carry humanitarian aid to Georgia and that the U.S. was expecting unfettered access to Georgia’ ports and airports.

But Bush apparently had spoken out of turn, before Turkey, which by treaty controls access to the Black Sea, had agreed, and on Thursday, Pentagon officials said they doubted that U.S. naval vessels would be dispatched.


Slate: ‘Conventional Nonsense: Making the case for a press boycott of the national political conventions’

Jack Shafer notes the foregone conclusions of these non-events. Amen.


Post: ‘HILLARY PUSHES WAY ONTO STAGE’

The tab’s institutional contempt for Hillary pays off in this case, because she really did push her way onto the DNC stage. Not that this is big news. But how many more shots at Hillary does the Post have left? And she is such an easy target.


Christian Science Monitor: ‘Mexican citizens asked to fight crime’

Sara Miller Llana‘s story notes:

[I]f Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard has his way, a new corps of 300,000 residents will become watchdogs of sorts — monitoring and turning in police officials who operate outside the law.

The Times reports on the same story — citizens outraged that corrupt cops are even aiding and abetting kidnappings of children — but of course it takes the establishment side, not even noting Ebrard’s call for a citizen corps.

Can you imagine a crew of 300,000 New Yorkers regularly keeping tabs on the NYPD? The Times sniffs, Don’t even mention it. And its story sez:

Given the involvement of some wayward officers in the kidnapping trade, it is easy to see why victims’ relatives look outside police forces in trying to bring such nightmares to an end.

But Luis Cárdenas Palomino, director of intelligence for the federal police, says that private negotiators do not have the same experience as his veteran agents, who he says have been catching more kidnappers and freeing more victims in recent years.

No wonder that, here in NYC, the Times, with its institutionalized obeisance to authority, doesn’t hold the NYPD’s feet to the fire.


Post: ‘TRAGIC MOM’S BABY IS SAVED’

A runaway school bus crushes pregnant NYPD traffic agent Donnette Sanz, “but a superhuman effort by 30 strangers who lifted the vehicle off her body miraculously saved her baby before she died.”

Word pictures of the bus driver with his head in his hands — “”The light turned red, and I couldn’t stop . . . I tried to miss her. I tried to go behind her, but she stopped and moved back, and I hit her.”

Oh, by the way, we find out only at the end of this weeper that the 72-year-old driver hasn’t had a license in 40 years and that his record includes “a gun bust and arrests for driving on a suspended license, grand larceny, menacing and aggravated harassment.”

And he was driving a school bus — a school bus!

Most absurd quote of the day:

Mayor Bloomberg, who went to St. Barnabas to comfort [her] relatives, said, “I hope that as this child grows up, he comes to understand that his mother gave her life in service to our city, and we are forever grateful.”

The Daily News account is lamer, but it does include this quote from Bloomberg:

“It is a terrible poignancy that Donnette’s son’s birthday will now coincide with the day his mother died.”

Give Bloomberg a break. George W. Bush couldn’t have connected those dots.


Post: ‘ “WRONG MAN” FREED AFTER 14 YRS.: BAILED OUT ON “BAD RAP” IN QNS. SLAY’

Great quote garnered by Ikimulisa Livingston:

Kareem Bellamy stepped out of Queens Supreme Court to the open arms of relatives and cheers from his relentless law team, which spent nearly four years working to get him freed.

“I hope I don’t get struck by lightning,” he joked in the midst of a thunderstorm. “I can’t believe I’m really walking out.”


Times: ‘Bomber Kills 18 on Shiite Pilgrimage in Iraq’

Obsessed with Georgia, the Times editors are now consigning Iraq news to a roundup — you know, like those small-town-newspaper city council stories that always include “in other business” items.

Today’s example is yet another suicide bombing. In other business, the Times adds:

And at Camp Bucca, an American military base in southern Iraq, six sailors who were working as prison guards in Iraq are facing courts-martial on charges of abusing detainees, the United States Navy said in a statement on Thursday.

Only two other brief grafs, both far down the story, about this abuse. No mention of exactly what kind of abuse is alleged or that Camp Bucca is the largest U.S. prison in Iraq, housing a staggering 18,000 Iraqis, probably none of whom have been to trial.

At least the BBC saw fit to present a separate story on this.

But the U.S. establishment press has consistently underplayed jail abuse, except when it reaches the high embarrassment level of Abu Ghraib. Remember the proud “Murderous Maniacs” at Camp Mercury near Fallujah, the U.S. soldiers who beat up prisoners for sport? If you don’t, see yesterday’s Daily Flog.


Post: ‘TRAP PLAY TARGETS GIANTS; “SEX-TORTION PLOT” VS. COACH COUGHLIN’

Feds yesterday busted a birdbrained Philadelphia man for allegedly trying to blackmail Giants Coach Tom Coughlin with false allegations of extramarital flings with two women.

Stop right there, unless you want to walk around all day with images swirling in your brain of this aging coach naked and having sex.


Post: ‘DEM’S KILLER WENT “POST-IT” ‘

Hed of the day, lovingly applied to a wire story:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The man who fatally shot the chairman of the state Democratic Party after he lost his job had a Post-it note at home with the victim’s last name and phone number along with 14 guns, antidepressants and a last will and testament, according to court documents.

Wall Street Journal: ‘World Economy Shows New Strain’

If you can tear yourself away from Olympic water polo for a second, remember that China is losing the gold-medal battle but is raking in the gold anyway.

The WSJ reports, in other business:

The global economy — which had long remained resilient despite U.S. weakness — is now slowing significantly, with Europe offering the latest evidence of trouble. . . .

With the European growth report, four of the world’s five biggest economies — the U.S., the euro zone, Japan and the U.K. — are now flirting with recession.

China, the world’s fourth-largest economy, is still expanding strongly, as are India and other large developing economies. . . .

The global weakness marks a sharp reversal of expectations for many corporations and investors, who at the year’s outset had predicted that major economies would remain largely insulated from America’s woes.

The Journal almost always leavens its dense reporting with a human touch (not on its inhumane editorial pages, but in news stories), and even this piece has a good morsel:

British consumers are hunkering down. “The cost of living has rocketed,” says Gareth Lucas, 34 years old. He works part time at a hospital in Swansea, south Wales. With fuel costs so high, Mr. Lucas tries to fit more tasks into each car trip and no longer treats himself to cappuccino at a nearby café.

At night, to make extra cash, Mr. Lucas does gigs as a stand-up comedian — but increasingly he performs to smaller audiences. “People just aren’t going out anymore,” he says.


Wall Street Journal: ‘Data Raise Questions On Role of Speculators’

Suspicions confirmed: The oil market is being driven by scumbag speculators, not the “free market.” The WSJ puts it into perspective:

Data emerging on players in the commodities markets show that speculators are a larger piece of the oil market than previously known, a development enlivening an already tense election-year debate about traders’ influence.

Last month, the main U.S. regulator of commodities trading, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, reclassified a large unidentified oil trader as a “noncommercial” speculator.

The move changed many analysts’ perceptions of the oil market from a more diversified marketplace to one with a heavier-than-thought concentration of financial players who punt on big bets.

This is a fascinating developing story — let alone a probable explanation of why gas costs so much — if only the rest of the press would take the topic seriously.

Here’s the politics of it:

The . . . questions about the reliability and transparency of data in this market are feeding into efforts by Congress to impose restrictions on energy trading. Four Democratic senators on Thursday called for an internal CFTC inspector-general investigation into the timing of a July 22 release of a report led by the agency. That report concluded speculators weren’t “systematically” driving oil prices. Oil prices soared until mid-July before beginning a decline.

In recent months, legislators in Congress have demanded insight about the distinction as they try to answer concerns of constituents, from companies to consumers, about what has contributed to the high price of gasoline and other fuels.

 

Categories
Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Bush and the Caucasians

The closer to the end of his term, the less funny (and more disastrous) Bush seems.

While the New York Times continues to report with a straight face the rhetoric of George W. Bush — the doofus POTUS demands that “the sovereign and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected,” as if the rest of the world listens — the real situation is shrewdly analyzed by international outlets such as Der Spiegel.

We’re not crazy. It’s the world that’s acting bipolar. Good luck figuring out why if you rely on just the feeble U.S. press.

Writing today on the German site’s opinion page, Gerhard Spörl notes:

The war in the Caucasus is a truly global crisis. Russia’s action against the western-looking Georgia testifies to an extreme craving for recognition and is reminiscent of the Cold War. It reveals the reality of the chaotic new world order — a result of the failures of President Bush’s foreign policy.

Do you really think that Iraq and a sinking economy are the only messes the Bush-Cheney regime will turn over to either Obama or McCain?

The past eight years have crippled U.S. foreign policy in ways that go far beyond the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan. The rivalry between Russia and the U.S. would be bad enough without the Bush regime’s hamhandedness and bully bluster.

Spörl, the chief editor of Der Spiegel‘s foreign desk — and the author of a clear-headed, provocative Obama piece (“No. 44 Has Spoken”) a short while back — adds some context to this schizoid Caucasoid series of bloody events:

Who would have even bothered to try and pinpoint South Ossetia on the map or to carefully differentiate it from North Ossetia before the conflict? And this is supposed to be a world crisis?

But it is one indeed, because the crisis has given oil and gas producer Russia an alibi for cleaning up along its borders in places like Georgia, where the United States and NATO were beginning to exert their influence. It is a world crisis, because this wounded ex-superpower decided, some time ago, that it was going to put an end to a phase of humiliation and losses, of NATO and American expansion.

And what does this have to do with Bush’s “legacy”? Well, who’s been more smug about being the planet’s supposed lone superpower than the Bush regime? Spörl writes:

Part of the truth is that the United States had rather relished treating Russia and its then president, Vladimir Putin, as yesterday’s superpower and leader. US President George W. Bush withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and invented a missile shield in the Czech Republic and Poland.

The revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, reverberations of the revolutionary fall of 1989, were made possible by the gracious assistance and coaching of American foundations and think tanks. There was nothing wrong with this approach, but America, the overwhelmingly superior superpower, was petty enough to gloat over its achievements.

Spörl also notes the Cold War mentality of McCain:

John McCain, who hopes to become the 44th US president, has come up with the spectacular idea of establishing a league of democracies that would address the world’s problems whenever the United Nations is gridlocked, in other words, whenever there is an important issue on the table. If this league existed today, would intervention forces already have been deployed to the Caucasus? And now McCain has come up with the no less original idea of excluding Russia from the golden circle of G8 nations. Does anyone have any other bright ideas on how to punish the miscreant?

I can’t resist one more interesting passage from Spörl’s piece:

It is true that there is a touch of the old Cold War to August 2008. And yet it is also true that the month’s events constitute only a subcategory of the larger complexity in which the world finds itself today. The United States is the common denominator. On the one hand, it had no qualms about tormenting Russia, and yet it is incapable of coming to Georgia’s aid. It was also apparently unable to dissuade the Georgian president from embarking on his adventure.

CNN is so enamored of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili that he is constantly asked to appear on the news network for interviews, so that he can instill his view of things — of Georgia on the road to democracy, and of Russia succumbing to revanchism — in Americans, to the delight of the White House.

Damn it, one more slice of Spörl, but this one helps explain why the planet’s behavior seems particularly bipolar these days:

The world ceased to be a unipolar place when the Iraq war began. When the neocons used the word unipolarity, they were referring to the idea that the world’s sole superpower, thanks to its military superiority, could assume that it was entitled to the role of global cop, and that the world must bend to its will, whether it wanted to or not.

Now a new technical term has come into circulation: multipolarity. It means that a number of powers can do as they please, without punishment, and no one can do much about it. China can do as it pleases with Tibet, the Uyghurs and its dissidents, and it can buy its energy where it pleases. India can sign a nuclear treaty with the United States, and can then vacillate between choosing to ditch the agreement and keep it in place. Iran can decide to become a nuclear power and then wait to see what happens, to see whether Israel and the United States, for example, will issue empty threats of air strikes while Russia and China obstruct the superpower in the UN Security Council whenever it calls for effective resolutions.

But the new multipolarity is lopsided. America is still the power without which nothing works — whether it be sensible or senseless.

 

Categories
Equality Living Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Daily Flog: Warning to whitey, desired streetcars, soiled Lennon, two Georgias, Target practice

Running down the press:

Daily News: ‘First look at wife of John Lennon slayer in decades – she says let me be’

Jesus Christ! I’d forgotten that Mark David Chapman was such a sicko/twisted Lennon wannabe that he had also married a woman of Japanese descent.


Post: ‘ARK. ASSASSIN GUNS DOWN TOP CLINTON ALLY’

Congratulations to the Post for not only mentioning in the second paragraph that the shooter had just been fired from a Target store but also for showing the maturity not to hammer into readers that grim irony, as I am immaturely doing right now.


Post: ‘COLOR BY NUMBERS: MAC GAINS MORE WHITES VS. OBAMA’

Good story, better head. The fourth graf is key:

McCain has closed the gap by padding his lead among whites, Southerners and white evangelical Christians.

At least that should make the rest of us whites feel better — that we’re not quite as bad at acting on our institutionalized, internalized racist impulses.

Being upfront about race is something that much of the media is not doing. Witness this CNN story:

“McCain, Obama to address ‘values voters’ “

Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama plan to appear together Saturday at a minister-moderated forum held in a church as thousands of evangelicals plan to gather in the nation’s capital to pressure both men move further to the right on social issues.

“Values voters” my shiny metal ass. The rest of us also vote our “values.” These are white conservative Christians (99 percent of them), so call them that in the headlines. Christ, there are even political parties in Europe that use “Christian” in their names.


Newsday: ‘Revealed: Julia Child was a U.S. spy in World War II’

This AP story is old news, but it does remind us why she seemed to have such mixed feelings about turkey.


Post: ‘BRETT FEELIN’ UP THE CREAK’

Clever hed on this:

The 38-year-old Favre – who turns 39 in October – had his fifth practice yesterday morning for the New York Jets, but he admitted his arm wasn’t exactly feeling lively.

Brett Favre is one pro athlete who talks like a real person, unlike the platitudinous Derek Jeter, for example, or the former Giant blowhard Jeremy Shockey or the guarded-beyond-all-reason, high-paid choker Alex Rodriguez. Favre sez:

“I didn’t throw the ball very well this morning, underthrew some throws. No pain, but I’m 38 years old. It’s got to be fatigued a little bit. . . . I felt 38 today, I’m not going to lie to you.”

In his case, he probably won’t. A rare celebrity.


Times: ‘In a Generation, Minorities May Be the U.S. Majority’

Warning to whitey: Your reign as The Man will end sooner than predicted. Sam Roberts reports:

The census calculates that by 2042, Americans who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander will together outnumber non-Hispanic whites. Four years ago, officials had projected the shift would come in 2050.

The British press doesn’t whitewash this news with P.C. tentativeness. The BBC’s lede, for example:

White people of European descent will no longer make up a majority of the US population by the year 2042 – eight years sooner than previous estimates.

The big change is among Hispanics and Asians whose share of the population is set to double to 30% and 9%.

The Times more subtly emits a red-alert tone:

“No other country has experienced such rapid racial and ethnic change,” said Mark Mather, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a research organization in Washington.

Unless you’re talking about the Cherokee Nation. In that previous monumental conflict in Georgia (even before Sherman’s march), Andrew Jackson ethnically cleansed the Cherokees, herding them to the Ozarks along the Trail of Tears and replacing them with slaves and ballcap-wearing, NASCAR-loving rednecks.

Anyway, the Times just loves trend stories, and here’s a trend in the Times itself: Just last week (as I noted on August 7), the paper blared “‘Minorities Often a Majority of the Population Under 20’ “

Next topic for the Times: How do we protect the Upper West Side from these Visigoths?


Human Rights Watch: ‘High Toll from Attacks on Populated Areas’

Yes, NYC-based Human Rights Watch has an open bias as a Goody Two-Shoes, but also does some great reporting — unlike its better-known but stodgy fellow NGO Amnesty International — so why not include it in “the press”?

Mainstream international papers, like the Guardian (U.K.), have no problem giving HRW full credit when it breaks news stories. This morning the Guardian‘s Mark Tran notes:

Human Rights Watch provides the first independent confirmation that Georgian villages in South Ossetia have been looted and burned.

HRW is somewhat schizoid as a news source, because it always follows its great nuggets of news with predictable appeals to officials to stop the madness. For example, today it reports:

Forces on both sides in the conflict between Georgia and Russia appear to have killed and injured civilians through indiscriminate attacks, respectively, on the towns of Gori and Tskhinvali, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch expressed its deep concern over the apparently indiscriminate nature of the attacks that have taken such a toll on civilians.

Memo to HRW: Lose the second sentence, please, because your news reporting speaks for itself and you’re clouding the impact of that reporting with that squishy, predictable statement of “deep concern.” (I guess HRW feels it has to do that, but I ignore such statements of concern — who could disagree with such sentiments? — and take its reporting seriously. Keep reading this item and you’ll see why.)

U.S. papers refuse to include HRW and like groups in their press club, but the Internet dissolves that separation because HRW’s reports are as freely and directly available as news from other sources.

You may have forgotten — and the mainstream press has done nothing to help you remember — that HRW broke one of the most grim and explosive stories (so far) from the Iraq War.

Back in September 2005, HRW revealed that U.S. troops at Camp Mercury, outside Fallujah, proudly called themselves “Murderous Maniacs” as they tortured and beat up hapless Iraqi prisoners merely for sport — and in a highly sexualized way that was worse than at Abu Ghraib. As I wrote back then:

In a shocking new report, soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne reveal that they or their fellow soldiers routinely beat, tortured, stripped, humiliated, and starved Iraqi prisoners in 2003 and 2004 at a base near Fallujah, often breaking bones, either at the request of superiors or just to let off steam.

HRW wasn’t guessing, nor was it chiding from its Fifth Avenue offices. It waded right in and talked to U.S. troops about it. From its own report, “Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division”:

The accounts here suggest that the mistreatment of prisoners by the U.S. military is even more widespread than has been acknowledged to date, including among troops belonging to some of the best trained, most decorated, and highly respected units in the U.S. Army. They describe in vivid terms abusive interrogation techniques ordered by Military Intelligence personnel and known to superior officers. . . .

The torture of detainees reportedly was so widespread and accepted that it became a means of stress relief for soldiers.

Soldiers said they felt welcome to come to the PUC [Prisoner Under Control] tent on their off-hours to “Fuck a PUC” or “Smoke a PUC.” “Fucking a PUC” referred to beating a detainee, while “Smoking a PUC” referred to forced physical exertion sometimes to the point of unconsciousness.

Three years later, HRW has made its own march into Georgia. So keep tabs on its reporting. For that matter, keep checking the Guardian‘s Georgia page.


NY Observer: ‘Penguin Group Wins Rights to Steinbeck Novels’

Minor note on a major author, especially compared with Tony Ortega‘s unique yarn about Steinbeck and Mexican-American farmworkers in today’s Voice: “John Steinbeck’s Ghosts.”


Times: ‘Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software’

John Markoff‘s piece about a court ruling in favor of open-source software is a little confusing, but the upshot is that a major pothole has been patched on our major transportation artery, the information highway.


Times: ‘Conflict Narrows Oil Options for West’

In other transportation news: Good piece by Jad Mouawad about our latest loss in the centuries-old Great Game in Central Asia, and bad news for us SUV owners:

[E]nergy experts say that the hostilities between Russia and Georgia could threaten American plans to gain access to more of Central Asia’s energy resources at a time when booming demand in Asia and tight supplies helped push the price of oil to record highs.

Times: ‘Downtowns Across the U.S. See Streetcars in Their Future’

Yet another transportation story.

Unfortunately, the Times blows this story by just briefly noting that cities and even small towns across the country had functioning streetcar lines until the mid 1950s, and not mentioning at all that it was the automobile lobby that killed them as it pressured pols to build the Interstate Highway System.

I don’t blanch at this new development because when I was a kid in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, I depended on the kindness of streetcars. Public transit is a blessing, no matter how much my fellow straphangers grouse about the MTA and Long Island Rail Road.


Post: ‘BIZMAN HAD A “LOT” OF NERVE’

Carolyn Salazar‘s lede is right to the point:

An enterprising squatter transformed a vacant Brooklyn lot into a thriving million-dollar business — an illegal parking lot and chop shop, prosecutors said yesterday.

Whereas powerful pol Shelly Silver is squatting like Jabba the Hutt on a vacant lot on the Lower East Side, as the Voice‘s Tom Robbins reports.


Daily News: ‘Gloomy Gotti trip to Sunshine State’

The latest installment of news about the fading Italian-American Gangster Era. John Marzulli reports:

Junior is on the move.

John A. (Junior) Gotti, aka Bureau of Prisons inmate 00632-748, began his journey to Tampa Wednesday to be arraigned on racketeering and murder charges.

Who gives a shit?


Daily News: ‘Elizabeth Edwards stayed with cheating husband John for children’s sake’

A perfect example of how the Daily News almost always lags behind the Post in tabloidian terms. The lede:

An anguished Elizabeth Edwards decided to stay with her cheating husband because she is dying and worried about their two young children, her closest friend says.

Only five tabloidian buzzers: “anguished,” “cheating,” “dying, “worried,” and “closest friend.” Yesterday, I noted eight in a Post Edwards lede.

Categories
Living Media NEW YORK CITY ARCHIVES NEWS & POLITICS ARCHIVES NYC ARCHIVES THE FRONT ARCHIVES Washington, D.C.

Daily Flog: Crime, kvetching, corporate looting –and tanks for nothing, ‘Times’

Running down the press:

Daily News: ‘Cops: Psycho girlfriend tortures and slices up boyfriend in Brooklyn flat’

Great crime day in the News. Check these out, too:

‘Judge’s house shot up’

‘Queens mom lured to her death’


Post: ‘EDWARDS SCANDAL’S NEW TRYST’

Though Dan Mangan mistakenly assumes that needle-dick politicians are even capable of steaming up mirrors, he efficiently essays an effective presentation of these tabloidian buzz words: “disgraced,” “secretly,” “steamy,” “affair,” “confessing,” “infidelity,” “cancer-stricken,” and “explosive”:

Disgraced ex-presidential candidate John Edwards secretly rekindled his steamy affair with his campaign videographer after confessing his infidelity to his cancer-stricken wife, according to an explosive new report.

Cogito argot sum.


Post: ‘TOP OF THE WORLD: PHELPS SETS RECORD FOR CAREER GOLDS’

Yet another breathless, confessional dispatch from Beijing by Mike Vaccaro, a big-city-tabloid version of a small-town-broadsheet hack sportswriter (note the absence of true tabloidian buzz words):

That’s it. The thesaurus is exhausted. The dictionary has just declared bankruptcy. With Michael Phelps, all the fitting adjectives have been used and re-used and worn down to the nub: amazing, astounding, astonishing, remarkable. Incredible, unbelievable, implausible, inconceivable.

So stop writing you don’t.

You’ll want a better lede and a better read, so check out the reliable Filip Bondy in the Daily News:

‘More gold and another day at the office for Michael Phelps’

Two more golds, two more world records, four Olympic immortals surpassed. Just another day at the office with leaky goggles, and Michael Phelps won’t even file for overtime.

Phelps’ journey has become so routine and so spectacular at the same time, you get confused sometimes about whether to get excited (yes, you should). Phelps himself doesn’t seem particularly overjoyed very often, unless he has relay teammates or fellow medalists standing around him to share the glory.


Daily News: ‘Grief for Council pols over car perks’

Classic local-news reportage, courtesy of Lisa L. Colangelo. It’s one thing to have a free parking spot in downtown Dubuque. It’s another to have one in New York City.

While all Council members receive parking placards from the DOT that allow them to park in many restricted areas and even avoid paying the meter, four have their own private parking spots on city streets.

Despite Dick Cheney, a unilateral strike on Iran’s nuke sites — and the resulting radioactive clouds circling the planet — now seem less and less likely.

Despite practically no mention in the U.S. press of this developing story during the past two months, we can read that no-nukes-is-good-news story this morning.

See Aluf Benn‘s “U.S. puts brakes on Israeli plan for Iran strike” in today’s Haaretz. Benn notes:

U.S. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen both visited here in June and, according to the Washington Post, told senior Israeli defense officials that Iran is still far from obtaining nuclear weapons, and that an attack on Iran would undermine American interests. Therefore, they said, the U.S. would not allow Israeli planes to overfly Iraq en route to Iran. . . .

These private messages were accompanied by a series of leaks from the Pentagon that Israel interpreted as attempts to thwart any possibility of an attack on Iran. For instance, the Americans revealed details of a major Israel Air Force exercise in the Mediterranean; they also said they doubted Israel had adequate intelligence about Iran’s nuclear facilities. In addition, Mullen spoke out publicly against an attack on Iran.

Two weeks ago, [Israeli Defense Minister Ehud] Barak visited Washington for talks with his American counterpart, Robert Gates, and Vice President Richard Cheney. Both conversations focused on Iran, but the two Americans presented conflicting views: Gates vehemently opposes an attack on Iran, while Cheney is the administration’s leading hawk.

If piece-lover Paul Wolfowitz and dual-loyalist Doug Feith were still at the Pentagon, we might be instead planning end-of-the-world parties.


Forward: ‘Greatest Jewish Olympian Sulks Over Losing the Champion Spotlight’

Dan Levin of the city’s venerable Jewish daily that is the consistently best source of news in the U.S. about the formidable Jewish-establishment lobby — though it’s not as good a paper as New York City’s now-defunct Yiddischer Amerikaner Volks-Kalender, which my ancestor Alexander Harkavy edited a century ago — noted this yesterday, before this morning’s splish-splash everywhere about Michael Phelps:

Usually it’s Jewish mothers who boast and brag about their children’s accomplishments. A big ego on a nice Jewish boy, however, is rather unbecoming. . . .

[Mark] Spitz, who is possibly the greatest living Jewish sports legend, has been pouting over the fact that he wasn’t officially invited to the Beijing Olympics.

“I never got invited. You don’t go to the Olympics just to say, I am going to go. Especially because of who I am,” Spitz, 58, told AFP [Agence France Presse]. “I am going to sit there and watch Michael Phelps break my record anonymously? That’s almost demeaning to me. It is not almost — it is.”

That’s right, Spitz, stay in the shallow end.


Post: ‘PHELPS’ PIG SECRET: HE’S BOY GORGE’

Clemente Lisi‘s lede:

Swimming sensation Michael Phelps has an Olympic recipe for success — and it involves eating a staggering 12,000 calories a day.

Next stop: Coney Island’s royal gorge.


Times: ‘Russia, in Accord With Georgians, Sets Withdrawal’

You’d think that with all the practice over the past five years the Times would learn to cover a war, but no, the paper always insists — like the paper of record it thinks it still is — on going with what the top officials say and do.

Like this morning’s story, which is careful to include the Russkie president’s middle initial but misses the point of what’s really going in Georgia:

The presidents of Georgia and Russia agreed early Wednesday morning on a framework that could end the war that flared up here five days ago, after Russia reasserted its traditional dominance of the region.

Declaring that “the aggressor has been punished,” President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia announced early Tuesday that Russia would stop its campaign. Russian airstrikes continued during the day, however, and antagonisms seethed on both sides.

“Antagonisms seethed on both sides”? Typical of the Times to meticulously quote “world leaders” while being cautious and vague about real events. Read this morning’s dispatch in the Guardian (U.K.):

‘Georgian villages burned and looted as Russian tanks advance’

Villages in Georgia were being burned and looted as Russian tanks followed by “irregulars” advanced from the breakaway province of South Ossetia, eyewitnesses said today.

“People are fleeing, there is a mood of absolute panic. The idea there is a ceasefire is ridiculous,” Luke Harding, the Guardian’s correspondent, said.

Russia denied any advance, however Georgian authorities claimed that about 50 tanks and armoured vehicles were near the strategically important town of Gori.


Times: ‘Before the Gunfire, Cyberattacks’

Now this is a great job by the Times. John Darnton‘s lede:

Weeks before bombs started falling on Georgia, a security researcher in suburban Massachusetts was watching an attack against the country in cyberspace.

Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks in Lexington noticed a stream of data directed at Georgian government sites containing the message: “win+love+in+Rusia.”

Other Internet experts in the United States said the attacks against Georgia’s Internet infrastructure began as early as July 20, with coordinated barrages of millions of requests —known as distributed denial of service, or D.D.O.S., attacks — that overloaded and effectively shut down Georgian servers.


Times: ‘Study Tallies Corporations Not Paying Income Tax’

Boring hed, fascinating story:

Two out of every three United States corporations paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005, according to a report released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

Post: ‘HUGE TIX HIKE BEANS MET FANS’

Hasani Gittens forces down our gullet some news that makes us hurl:

No wonder it’s named after a bank – Met fans are going to have to open up their safe-deposit boxes to afford seats at Citi Field next season. The choicest seats will cost $495 – a 79 percent increase.

This will be especially bitter for those Mets fans who are among the tens of thousands laid off by Citigroup.


Post: ‘SON OF A GLITCH! MTA IS OUT 74G’

Love the hed, but the story itself is somewhat of a slog:

Regular straphangers took the MTA for a $74,000 ride by accident – in addition to the $800,000 authorities say a trio of scammers bilked from the agency.

A suspected software glitch allowed people to buy MetroCards and commuter railroad tickets without being charged – the same error authorities believe Christopher Clemente, 37, Lisa Foster Jordan, 37, and Cary Grant, 40, allegedly exploited in order to peddle hundreds of thousands of dollars in rides since 2005.

Cary Grant? What a shame. He was such a hero in North by Northwest.


Times: ‘Mechanism for Credit Is Still Stuck’

A year after financial tremors first shook Wall Street, a crucial artery of modern money management remains broken. And until that conduit is fixed or replaced, analysts say borrowers will see interest rates continue to rise even as availability worsens for home mortgages, student loans, auto loans and commercial mortgages.

The conduit, the market for securitization, through which mortgages and other debts are packaged and sold as securities, has become sclerotic and almost totally dependent on government support. The problems, intensified by bond investors who have grown leery of these instruments, have been a drag on the economy and have persisted despite the exercise of extraordinary regulatory powers by policy makers.

It’s the Times that’s sclerotic, and it’s a lack of regulation that caused this problem in the first place.

“Crucial artery of modern money management” — what a riot!

You wouldn’t know it from this story, which treats mortgage securitization as something that practically sprang from the Founding Fathers’ loins, but it’s actually a devious diversion scheme that really got cooking in Wall Street’s ’80s heyday and that Wall Street has fought hard to keep unregulated.

It’s more like a shunt that drains our mortgage payments directly into the pockets of Wall Streeters without even giving a taste to the millions of Americans who give them the ante to play with. What a scam.

I wrote about this back in June 2000 (“In the Land of Milk and Money”) during the Senate race between Hillary Clinton and Rick Lazio. One of the key figures behind Lazio was Lewis Ranieri, and I noted:

Ranieri created — yes, personally created — the multitrillion-dollar trading market on collateralized mortgage bonds, made possible by the Reagan era’s relaxation of trading rules and his lobbying of Congress to establish federal agencies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and Ginnie Mae to make mortgage-bond trading more lucrative. [See Wayne Barrett‘s recent “Andy’s Kids” for the current crisis revolving around Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.]

Ranieri ranks with junk-bond king Michael Milken among “the most influential financiers of the 1980s,” according to Edward Chancellor‘s highly respected book Devil Take the Hindmost: A History of Financial Speculation.

Journalist Michael Lewis, a former bond trader for Salomon Brothers, where Ranieri was once the biggest of what were called the “Big Swinging Dick” traders, wrote in the best-seller Liar’s Poker that Ranieri and Milken were “the great bond missionaries of the 1980s,” crisscrossing the country, trying to persuade institutional investors to buy mortgage securities.

It worked.