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Rejecting Allah-like powers, Obama vows end to ‘dictating’ in Mideast

Al Jazeera‘s morning report, proving once again that it’s ridiculous censorship for U.S. cable outlets to not carry the Arab world’s most powerful news outlet.

Dick Cheney‘s dream of an imperial vice presidency lording over all the world’s oil fields is now officially dead.

President Barack Obama snuffed it out during his first formal interview on Arabic TV. He did it with Al-Arabiya, not Al Jazeera, but it’s a stunning change from the bellicose Bush regime, as this excerpt from the AP proves:

“What I told [envoy George Mitchell] is start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating,” Obama told the interviewer.

The president reiterated the U.S. commitment to Israel as an ally and to its right to defend itself. But he suggested that both Israel and the Palestinians have hard choices to make.

“I do believe that the moment is ripe for both sides to realize that the path that they are on is one that is not going to result in prosperity and security for their people,” he said, calling for a Palestinian state that is contiguous with internal freedom of movement and can trade with neighboring countries.

Obama also said that recent statements and messages issued by the al-Qaida terror network suggest they do not know how to deal with his new approach.

“They seem nervous,” he told the interviewer. “What that tells me is that their ideas are bankrupt.”

You mean not all Muslims are bomb-throwers? And you can blast the ones who are while still pressuring the ones who aren’t? And you can even put pressure on Jews to start making nice? What an unusual thing for a U.S. president to say.

Slow on the uptake this morning was the New York Times, this country’s version of Al Jazeera. Several hours after the rest of the world noted the Obama interview on Al-Arabiya, the Times makes it truly official with “Obama Interview Signals New Tone in Relations With Islam.”

Now, if Obama’s people could start working quietly behind the scenes to get U.S. media goniffs to start carrying Al Jazeera on their cable systems.

Then, he could actually do an interview on Al Jazeera, and most Americans could watch it.

While you’re waiting for the cable guys, start clicking…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: ‘Layoffs Spread to More Sectors of the Economy’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘”Stalker” grilled in slaying of Eddy Curry’s ex’

A spurned boyfriend was being grilled in the brutal murders of Eddy Curry’s ex-girlfriend and her infant daughter.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Firefighter blames memory-loss on “mind-altering” drugs’

A firefighter who survived the deadly Black Sunday blaze admitted taking a “mind-altering” drug before he got on the witness stand Monday and can’t clearly remember what happened.

N.Y. Times: ‘”Crack Babies”: The Epidemic That Wasn’t’

Research suggests that the long-term effects on children exposed to cocaine before birth may be relatively small.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama’s EPA Move Likely to Spur Fight’

Obama opened the door to state-level regulation of greenhouse gases, setting up a long battle with industry.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘J Street’s Disappearing Gaza Statement’

ABC: Obama Chooses Arab Network for First TV Interview

The president expressed an intention to engage the Middle East immediately and his new envoy to the region, former Sen. George J. Mitchell, was expected to arrived in Egypt on Tuesday for a visit that will also take him to Israel, the West Bank, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

“My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy,” Obama told the Saudi-owned, Dubai-based Al-Arabiya news channel.

Wall Street Journal: ‘College Endowments Plunge’

N.Y. Times: ‘In Midtown, the Return of a Barfly’s Paradise’

N.Y. Post: ‘OBAMA & CONGRESS BLAST CITI OVER JET’

N.Y. Times: ‘At $235 Million, Bloomberg Was Biggest Giver in U.S.’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Caterpillar to Cut 20,000 Jobs’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Blago: I considered Oprah for Senate’

Call it the Oprah defense. Embattled Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is accused of peddling Barack Obama’s Senate seat to the highest bidder, said this morning he considered selecting TV talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey for the post.

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Commodities trader arrested after trying to start a fire inside 7 World Trade Center’

A boozed-up commodities broker with a penchant for fiery pranks tried to set the freight elevator on fire in a lower Manhattan skyscraper after trapping himself in it early Saturday, authorities said.

A still-loopy Ryan Brinkerhoff was laughing and grinning as he was led away in handcuffs hours after his 4:40 a.m. arrest outside 7 World Trade Center.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Democrats Subpoena Rove, Testing Their Clout and Obama’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘”It’s horrible … I want out,” Rikers guard held in beating cries from her jail cell’

N.Y. Post: ‘CELL THIEVES RIDING RAILS’

N.Y. Times: ‘Queens Man Dies in House Amid Disarray and Flames’

An elderly man died in a house fire in Queens on Monday night as firefighters battled flames and what they called cluttered, Collyers’ Mansion conditions.

CityFile: ‘Your Tax Dollars at Work: Citi’s $50 Million Jet’

N.Y. Post: ‘RACIST BRUTE PLEADS GUILTY’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Grifter claims NYPD officer paid him $5,000 to kill ex-wife’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Afghan Guards Confound U.S. Forces’

Armed private security companies are proliferating in Afghanistan, presenting a challenge for American forces.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘”Schmooz Me Timbers!”: John Derbyshire’s Jewish Pirate Lexicon’

N.Y. Post: ‘CEO’S “$100” PAD IS A TOUGH SELL: FOES RIP LEHMAN BIG’S SNEAKY $14M ESTATE DEAL’

CityFile: ‘Lower East Side: Now Featuring One Hotel Per Block’

N.Y. Post: ‘SHUL BE SORRY, TORAH THIEF’


‘Bernie Cheated at Golf, Conference Goers Say’

From Clusterstock’s Henry Blodget:

Handicaps have always been a bit of a racket, and Bernie Madoff appears to have capitalized on that.

N.Y. Post: ‘CONGRESS TO GRILL SEC BIGS OVER MADOFF’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘LI has its very own “Madoff,” feds charge’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Celebrity side dish’

Nora Ephron had the full house at the 92nd Street Y collapsed in giggles Wednesday night at the Huffington Post bloggers’ panel hosted by Arianna Huffington, fresh from Washington. “I was thrilled that Bernard Madoff got bumped off the headlines with the appearance of Blagojevich [pronounced Bla-GOY-o-vich], because now we had someone with ‘goy’ in his name instead.”

Financial Times (U.K.): ‘Lawyers plan global action on Madoff’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff Questions Dog Santander’s Botín’

The chairman of Banco Santander faced down critical shareholders and promised to unveil “magnificent” annual results next week.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Madoff’s Firm Lays Off Dozens’

Several dozen employees of Bernard Madoff’s firm were laid off, including numerous traders from the firm’s legitimate trading arm.

Jewish Daily Forward: ‘Discussing Madoff’

When I mentioned to someone that I’d be attending the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research’s January 15 panel discussion, “Madoff: A Jewish Reckoning,” the snap retort was: “That momser! They should hang him like in the Wild West.”

 

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‘Shoe intifada’ vowed; we quake in our boots

Now we have another chance to peer into the soul of terrorists, rebels, and other insurgents.

Enraged at the alleged beating of the journalist who hurled at George W. Bush, a Muslim cleric in Iran has called for a “shoe intifada.”

Still unconfirmed: The cleric promised martyr wannabes 72 pairs of new shoes.

No time to tell you more. A snowstorm’s coming, and I need to leave for the city so I can stop at al-Payless before going to work.

So click on these …

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Post: ‘REALLY HIGH MAINTENANCE’

The estranged wife of United Technologies Chairman George David says she has weekly expenses of $53,000 — more than what half the households in America earn annually and higher than the cost of attending an Ivy League school for a year.

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Bush shoe protester has been beaten, Iraqi judge says’

The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at George Bush was beaten afterwards and had bruises on his face, the investigating judge in the case said today, as a senior cleric in Iran urged others to wage a “shoe intifada” against the US.

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Surgeon finds foot in baby’s brain’

N.Y. Post: ‘Bubba of Arabia’

BBC: ‘One in 10 Jobs Tied to Autos? Not so Fast’
Bailout Backers Claim 13 Million Jobs Rely on Auto Industry, but Economists Say It’s 2 Million

Xinhua (China): ‘Web site ordered to pay damages to China’s first “virtual lynching” victim’

Center for Responsive Politics: ‘Madoff and Company Spent Nearly $1 Million on Washington Influence’

The man behind a $50 billion Ponzi scheme that has roiled Wall Street and shaken up the nonprofit world was also a long-time contributor to Democrats,

Washington Post: ‘The Confessor in Chief’ (Dana Milbank)

Slowly, painfully, self-awareness has come to George W. Bush.

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘DreamWorks “struggling”: Everything Steven Spielberg touches usually turns to gold.’

N.Y. Post: ‘CITY TRIPLE-CROWNED BY ANOTHER TAX HIKE: PROPERTY BOOST FOLLOWS WHACKS BY GOV, MTA’

New Yorkers got slammed yesterday by the third leg of a triple whammy — a 7 percent property-tax hike, approved by the City Council, that takes effect on New Year’s Day.

Times (U.K.): ‘Barack Obama lays into SEC for its lack of “adult supervision”‘

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘Increase in robots “could lead to lack of human contact”‘

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Records show Caroline Kennedy failed to cast her vote many times since 1988’

Telegraph (U.K.): ‘Sandwiches cause woman to faint’

L.A. Times: ‘Health providers’ “conscience” rule to take effect’

The last-minute Bush administration declaration lets doctors, clinics, receptionists and others refuse to give care they find morally objectionable.

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘Gay leaders angered by Obama’s prayer pick’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Two ex-Lehman brokers among 4 hit in insider ring’

The feds busted a $4.8 million insider trading scheme involving two ex-Lehman Brothers brokers who funneled confidential tips through a Playboy Playmate, officials said Thursday.

Times (U.K.): ‘It’s dramatic! It’s sensational! It’s the Fed rescue’

Quantitative easing may not sound exciting, but it is as momentous as the Gettysburg Address or the D-Day landings.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Fairfield Extended Madoff’s Reach: Investment Fund’s Marketing Effort Helped to Raise Billions for Money Manager’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Obama Keen to Regulate Finance’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Clinton Reveals Donors’

Former President Bill Clinton‘s charitable foundation has taken in more than $140 million in the past decade from foreign sources, including the Saudi royal family and leaders of a Middle Eastern government now negotiating a controversial deal with the U.S. government to procure nuclear-energy technologies.

Those were among the details included in the list of 205,000 donors to the Clinton Foundation, released for the first time Thursday, as part of an unusual deal negotiated with Barack Obama when the president-elect decided to nominate Mr. Clinton’s wife, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, for secretary of state.

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Fellow Arabs honor journalist’s feat

Shoe-throwing journalist Muntazer Al-Zaidi must feel as if he’d died and gone to suicide-bomber heaven. At least one of his fellow Arabs is offering him a woman who may or may not be a virgin.

Sure, it’s only woman, not the 72 promised to martyrs, but he’s alive and she’s alive and, well, you know.

And she’s thrilled about it, as Reuters reports from Cairo:

An Egyptian man said on Wednesday he was offering his 20-year-old daughter in marriage to Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad on Sunday,

The daughter, Amal Saad Gumaa, said she agreed with the idea. “This is something that would honor me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero,” she told Reuters by telephone.

Start unlacing, baby. But until marriage, no tongues.

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: ‘Mukasey Recuses Himself From Madoff Investigation’

N.Y. Post: ‘MTA OKS HIKE IN DOUBLE WHAMMY’

Agence France Presse: ‘Chrysler halts manufacturing as clock ticks on gov’t bailout’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Scientists debunk the myth that you lose most heat through your head’

Register (U.K.): ‘New York “iPod tax” incites media bleating: Four-cent proposal twists knickers’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Just like humans! Yes, a squirrel can waterski, just like us! And we have video of the versatile squirrel in action.’

Reuters: ‘Father offers daughter to shoe-thrower’

N.Y. Times: ‘Obama Selects Evangelist for Invocation’

The inauguration role positions the Rev. Rick Warren to succeed Billy Graham as America’s pre-eminent minister.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Regulator Schapiro to Run SEC for Obama’

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Lillo’s smirks spur fury as jury deliberates’

Register (U.K.): ‘Censored scenes from the Congress WMD report: Last minute bioterror rewrites?’

N.Y. Post: ‘NYERS BET ON KENNEDY BUT WANT ANDY’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Antisemites feast on Madoff misery’

It has been a fertile financial week for bigots. The astonishing scale of corruption allegedly unmasked at the offices of Wall Street fund manager Bernie Madoff has caused disproportionate pain in the Jewish community, prompting unedifying sneers on the blogosphere. …

Register (U.K.): ‘Wikipedia self-flagellates over vanishing “farmsex”: The missing Zoophilia edits’

N.Y. Post: ‘SICK TRAN-SIT COP SLAY WIFE: HE WAS A CROSS-DRESSER’

A Queens cop shot to death by his wife earlier this year was a member of the “Hottie Police” — as a cross-dresser, her lawyer said yesterday.

Reuters: ‘HIV infects women through healthy tissue: U.S. study’

Instead of infiltrating breaks in the skin, HIV appears to attack normal, healthy genital tissue, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday in a study that offers new insight into how the AIDS virus spreads.

They said researchers had assumed the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, sought out beaks in the skin, such as a herpes sore, in order to gain access to immune system cells deeper in the tissue.

Some had even thought the normal lining of the vaginal tract offered a barrier to invasion by the virus during sexual intercourse.

Register (U.K.): ‘Yahoo! to! kill! most! search! engine! data! records! after! three! months!’

Register (U.K.): ‘Don’t delay: Delete your DNA today’

McClatchy: ‘Kabul residents have more fear of gangs than of Taliban’

Washington Post: ‘End of the Hedge Fund?’ (Sebastian Mallaby)

… Because it is possible to commit undetected fraud, the industry will attract fraudsters; eventually, investors will realize that they can’t tell the good guys from the bad and yank their money out. If this is going to happen, the Madoff scandal could be the catalyst, especially because it has hit at a time when hedge funds are in trouble for other reasons.

Hedge fund strategies depend on borrowing, or “leverage,” which is hard to come by now. They often depend on “shorting” stocks — that is, betting that they’ll fall in value — but regulators have restricted that practice. Even before the Madoff scandal, there were estimates that hedge fund assets might shrink from just under $2 trillion a few months ago to perhaps $1.4 trillion.

Guardian (U.K.): ‘Iraqi officials arrested over coup plot against prime minister’

McClatchy: ‘Salazar pick indicates big change at Interior Department’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘UN tribunal jails Rwanda genocide mastermind for life’

Register (U.K.): ‘Economists say European ancestors are what make you rich: No shit, Sherlock’

 

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Iraqi journalist throws shoes at Bush

A go-away present during president’s surprise visit to Baghdad.

An Iraqi journalist threw shoes at George W. Bush during a press conference Sunday in Baghdad.

Loafers for the loafer.

See the video yourself. AP reported:

“This is a farewell kiss, you dog!” shouted the protester in Arabic, later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.

Bush ducked both shoes as they whizzed past his head and landed with a thud against the wall behind him.

“It was a size 10,” Bush joked later.

The journalist had apparently just come to the realization that the emperor’s new clothes were an illusion and decided to present some footwear to him on behalf of the Iraq people.

With tens of thousands of Iraqis already dead since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, there’s no shortage of previously owned footwear in Baghdad to donate to Americans.

Al-Zeidi is believed to have hurt his chances of landing a network job in the U.S.

I can’t think of any more smart-ass lines right now.

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Mumbai mastermind reported captured

And in a shocker, it was Pakistan that nabbed him.

Good news — for a change — from Pakistan: The suspected mastermind of the Mumbai Terror has been arrested in a raid, the Guardian (U.K.) and others report. And this happened inside Pakistan.

Here’s how the Guardian tells it:

‘Pakistan arrests Mumbai mastermind, reports say’

Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, named by sole surviving attacker as ringleader, held in raid on militant camp in Pakistani Kashmir

The suspected planner of last month’s Mumbai terror attacks has been arrested in a raid on a militant group in Pakistan, an official close to the extremist organisation said today.

The official from Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), the charity and education arm of the terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, told Reuters that Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was among four men taken into custody after a raid yesterday on a camp outside Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani Kashmir.

Lakhvi, one of Lashkar’s operations chiefs, was named as a ringleader in the Mumbai plot by Ajmal Amir Kasab, the lone surviving gunmen captured after the attacks, according to Indian officials.

If these reports are true, then the arrest inside dangerously unstable Pakistan comes less than two weeks after the deadly November 26 attacks throughout India’s version of New York City.

Compare that with 9/11. We’re seven-plus years and counting and still no Osama bin Laden, who also was believed in hiding in either Afghanistan or Pakistan or both.

The best news about the arrest, if it’s true and if Lakhvi really was the mastermind, is that Pakistan itself did the capturing. Maybe this will help ease the bitter fight between India and Pakistan, both of which have nuclear weapons.

Former strongman Pervez Musharraf and the scary Inter-Services Intelligence (Pakistan’s CIA) long dragged their heels in the search for bin Laden.

Not so, apparently, regarding the Mumbai Terror ringleader. Of course, it wasn’t ISI that did the capturing of the alleged Mumbai Terror ringleader. It was another Pakistan agency.

Only four days ago, the New York Times reported, in “Pakistan’s Spies Aided Group Tied to Mumbai Siege,” that the ISI shared intelligence with Lashkar and even provided protection for it.

The ISI did the same for bin Laden’s crew. And in fact, ISI official Mahmoud Ahmad — who later turned out to have been Mohammed Atta’s bagman — was having breakfast in D.C. on the morning of 9/11 with Porter Goss and Bob Graham, the chairs of Intelligence committees of the House and Senate. (See my August 10, 2004, item “Food for Thought.”)

After 9/11, the two Floridians headed the formal congressional inquiry. Their breakfast with the Pakistan security official who was a bagman for one of the hijackers didn’t make it into their 858-page report.

With that background, Goss was perfect for the job of CIA director, and three years after 9/11, George W. Bush gave him that job.

But this morning, at least, the news concerning Pakistan is good. If true, then the longtime undeclared war between Pakistan and India could be somewhat lessened.

On the other hand, Kashmir has always been the flash point between India and Pakistan, and it remains so.

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Plastic explosive: P.C. police hunt down ‘Osama bin Lego’

While real people are being blown up all over the world, religious leaders are taking up arms against little Lego terrorists.

The crusade against BrickArms’s tiny terror toy is all the rage in the Brit tabloids. Naturally, one of Rupert Murdoch‘s papers, the Sun, has the best headline: “Osama bin Lego.”

But no news outlet is as consistently droll as the Brit techie Register, which for this story blares:

“Lego terrorist threatens democracy: Religious leaders slam ‘Toy Taliban'”

Religious leaders have united to express their dismay at a custom range of Lego figures — including a “Toy Taliban” armed to the teeth with C96 broomhandle Mauser pistol, AK Assault Rifle and M67 frag grenades.

The offending terrorist — made by US firm BrickArms — didn’t much impress Mohammed Shaffiq, of Muslim organisation The Ramadhan Foundation, who slammed the toy as “absolutely disgusting”.

He told the Sun: “It is glorifying terrorism — the makers should be ashamed. We should be coming together to unite against terrorism, but how is that possible when children are playing with toys like this?”

The Register story adds:

Parents who feel uneasy about their kids reenacting exciting moments in recent Afghan history might consider buying their offspring an SS major instead.

Everything is “disgusting” to Shaffiq. Remember those Danish cartoons? “Disgusting,” Shaffiq said in March 2007. Or The Jewel of Medina? “I am disgusted at the novel,” Shaffiq said in November 2008.

Meanwhile, BrickArms, a family business in Redmond, Washington, is molding plastic and young minds. Check out Will Chapman‘s charming history of his small company.

 

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Daily Flog: Economy, Iraq missions accomplished, Bush finally tries Afghanistan rescue

It turns out that Hurricane Katrina — at least the Bush regime’s late reaction to it — wasn’t a once-in-a-century event.

After the administration let the economy and various wars veer out of control, the administration is wading into Wall Street to rescue bankers and thinking about rescuing homeowners. Now it’s even considering negotiating to rescue our troops from Afghanistan.

What’s next? A withdrawal from Iraq?

The Afghanistan situation is so serious that as the Wall Street Journal reports (“U.S. Mulls Talks With Taliban in Bid to Quell Afghan Unrest”):

The U.S. is actively considering talks with elements of the Taliban, the armed Islamist group that once ruled Afghanistan and sheltered al Qaeda, in a major policy shift that would have been unthinkable a few months ago.

But until late summer 2001, the Bush regime was muddling along in a generally uncontroversial way when the unthinkable (not to the regime) happened on 9/11. That tragedy unleashed the Bush regime on the world. So far, his administration has wrecked Iraq, made a bad situation in Afghanistan worse, and presided over a historic Wall Street crash that threatens the entire world economy.

That’s three exhibits right there for the new George W. Bush Presidential Libary being erected in Dallas. It would be nice if the libary put those three exhibits in the same hall, next to the Pet Goat Reading Room, which would display the August 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing with the same kind of reverence that real libraries afford the U.S. Constitution.

Bush’s job as president is almost finished; there are no more worlds to conquer us. Unless, as Mike Bloomberg has done in New York City, Bush’s handlers try to undemocratically erase term limits so he can serve a third term.

Is there a groundswell for abolishing presidential term limits? While you’re being pinned to the ground by current events, listen for one. . . .

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Salem-News.com: ‘Hell Freezes Over: White House Drug Czar Backs Decriminalization’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Rescue Plan Faces Delays In Hiring Asset Managers’

BBC: ‘NATO’s Afghan forces “hit limit” ‘

CNN: ‘Global stocks rebound’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Crisis Deals New Blow to Japan: Country’s Top Bank in Capital Shortfall; Stocks at ’82 Levels’

New York: ‘Stimulus in Pinstripes: Why the Yankees will renounce their smart, sustainable team-building strategy and start spending like drunken lunatics again.’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Post-Enron Crackdown Comes Up Woefully Short’

“. . . Today’s financial crisis has shown what a real debacle looks like. And it has made clear that executives’ duties to public companies have, if anything, been loosened, not reinforced. What is worse, the post-Enron crackdown appears not only to have failed to stop flagrant corporate risk-taking, but to have lulled Washington to sleep.”

Reuters: ‘Skinheads held over plot to kill Obama’

Slate: ‘Countdown to the Obama Rapture: Watch as the press corps battles its performance anxiety!’ (Jack Shafer)

“. . . if Obama wins, these scribes know that they’ll be facing the toughest assignment of their careers. They’ve all oversubscribed to the notion that Obama’s candidacy is momentous, without parallel, and earth-shattering, so they can’t file garden-variety pieces about the ‘winds of change’ blowing through Washington.”

N.Y. Post: ‘PATERSON WOULD BEAT RUDY: POLL’

N.Y. Jewish Week: ‘New Tactics By Settlers Worrying Authorities’

Slate: ‘How Bad Are Electronic Voting Machines?’

McClatchy: ‘McCain pushed regulators for land swap, despite pledge’

N.Y. Times: ‘The Drug Czar’s Report Card: F’

Slate: ‘Middle-Aged Feminists Longing for Their Father’s Money’

N.Y. Times: ‘Rice Visits Mexico for a Meeting About Its Drug War’

Slate: ‘Registering Doubt: If we can nationalize banks, why not our election process?’

Dawn (Pakistan): ‘Barbaric killing of teenager unfolds’

“. . . was first thrown before hungry dogs and when she was mauled by them and in the jaws of death, she was riddled with bullets.”

N.Y. Daily News: ‘Ma charged in vicious mop-handle slay of 11-year-old daughter’

L.A. Times: ‘McCain was frank, garrulous and accessible — and then he wasn’t’

Guardian (U.K.): ‘The cost of the crash: $2,800,000,000,000’

N.Y. Post: ‘DA EYES COPS IN SODOMY’

Human Rights Watch: ‘Confessions of a former Guantanamo prosecutor’

McClatchy: ‘As clock ticks, U.S. letting thousands of Iraqi prisoners go’

N.Y. Times: ‘Can I Get an Arrgh?’

BuzzFlash: ‘Memo to Palin: Fruit Fly Researchers Receive Nobel Prize for Medicine for Advancing the Understanding of Birth Defects in Humans’

Slate: ‘Texts You Can Believe In: Forget robo-calls — Obama’s text messages are this campaign’s secret weapon

McClatchy: Texts You Can Believe In: Forget robo-calls — Obama’s text messages are this campaign’s secret weapon

Guardian (U.K.): ‘BP smashes forecasts as profits soar 148 percent’

“Oil giant BP has reaped the benefits of this summer’s record oil prices, smashing all forecasts with a 148 percent rise in third-quarter profits. The figures are likely to spark fresh protests from motorists and businesses that have been hit hard by higher petrol prices.”

RadioAustralia: ‘China tries to kick start housing sector’

BBC: ‘Arctic ice thickness “plummets” ‘

Wall Street Journal: ‘Some Newspapers Shed Unprofitable Readers’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Another Favorite Trade Bites the Dust’

N.Y. Times: ‘Fractures in Iraq City as Kurds and Baghdad Vie’

Scotsman: ‘Transcript of Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross’s phone calls to Andrew Sachs’

N.Y. Post: ‘EASY TICKET TO RIDE THE GRAVY TRAIN’

Bloomberg: ‘Volkswagen Overtakes Exxon as Most Valuable Company’

N.Y. Post: Texts You Can Believe In: Forget robo-calls — Obama’s text messages are this campaign’s secret weapon

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Daily Flog: Heads roll on Wall Street, in Texas; houses, jobs whacked across U.S.

 

Big noose in Texas this month: The hangingest state in the nation is celebrating 10 executions in 30 days.

Tuesday’s lethal injection of Joseph Ray Ries kicked off the bloodfest. Read the Agence France Presse preview.

You’d think that Wall Street’s investment bankers and lawyers could use a shot in the arm. If an injection of $700 billion hasn’t done the trick, and constant needling by the press seems futile, maybe the only thing left to do is invoke the death penalty.

By coincidence, I just happen to be reading Ronan Bennett‘s Havoc, in Its Third Year. Because I haven’t finished it, I’ll let the Washington Post‘s Carolyn See describe it in her 2004 review:

Havoc, in Its Third Year is a novel about a society coming apart. About a growing distance between rich and poor, an intense fear of evils perceived both within and without the land. About a desperate and inept government that slashes taxes for those at the top of the heap while withholding succor from those at the bottom, all the while reinforcing its injustices through fundamentalist interpretations of Christian scripture.

Don’t get nervous! It’s 17th-century Northern England that Ronan Bennett is talking about — just a remote Yorkshire village, where a deadly struggle between Protestants and Catholics is playing out under the guise of Puritan “reform.” Bennett is a novelist as well as a moralist, so he shapes his tale as a grisly murder mystery, while doing his learned best to imagine what it must have been like to live in that faraway place, during those very hard times.

One more glimpse, this one from Ian Thompson in the Spectator (U.K.):

I cannot recall any other living writer who has so convincingly and horrifyingly described the mental atmosphere of fanaticism. Like [Graham] Greene before him, Bennett re-creates a period of ferocious human intolerance; at the same time Havoc is a plea for the virtues of mercy and compassion.

You’d think that George W. Bush, the hangingest governor in U.S. history, should have read it. But we already know that Bush doesn’t read.

And he obviously no longer cares. Returning to the lazy-faire days of its pre-9/11 activities, the Bush administration is focused on shaping its legacy — not to mention the pardons list it’s now compiling. But Americans will remember the Bush regime for its mania to control Iraq and its refusal to control Wall Street.

Deregulation, rather than the Bremer Rules, might have worked well as a policy for the former; deregulation is a disaster when applied to the U.S. economy. Unless you think it’s a good thing that foreclosure filings have risen 71 percent and that more and more people are losing their jobs.

We should have invaded Wall Street instead of Iraq. But it’s the Dow of Bush. Try to stay calm.

By the way, don’t watch this morning’s webcast of another of the Waxman Committee hearings on the meltdown. Usually it’s good entertainment. But today’s hearing, “The Role of Federal Regulators,” stars Alan Greenspan, SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, and former Treasury Secretary John Snow. You won’t see their blood on the floor.

Maybe something else will click…

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

Village Voice: ‘Mayor Mugabe: Bloomberg’s Velvet Coup’ (Tom Robbins)

The Age (Australia): ‘US stocks wilt’

McClatchy: ‘Florida’s GOP lawmakers blamed for early-voting lines’

Register (U.K.): ‘Ohio elections website hacked as vote scuffle gets ugly’

CNN Money: ‘Foreclosure filings spike 71%’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Plans to Aid Borrowers Gain Steam’

BBC: ‘ “US missiles” hit Pakistan school’

N.Y. Post: ‘TRAGEDY IN “LENO” CASE: EXEC IN SUIT OVER VINTAGE-CAR DEAL IS FOUND SHOT DEAD’

Register (U.K.): ‘Greenpeace on fusion: Whatever it is, we’re against it’

Uruknet (Italy): ‘Mutant Seeds for Mesopotamia’

Dwell: ‘Big Trouble in Little Dubai’

BBC: ‘Painfully slow progress in Iraq’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Bernanke Endorses Obama’

Raw Story: ‘ACLU demands info on domestic military deployments’

Register (U.K.): ‘Dutch court convicts teens for stealing pixels’

N.Y. Post: ‘CREDIT-RATING ANALYSTS CREATED SUBPRIME MESS’

Washington Post: ‘Job Losses Accelerate, Signaling Deeper Distress’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Poll Shows Opposition to Gay Marriage Ban’

Scotsman (U.K.): ‘We rapped our way to a deal with Sony, our story was fake and accents phony’

N.Y. Times: ‘A.I.G. to Suspend Millions in Executive Payouts’

Wall Street Journal: ‘Goldman to Cut 10% of Jobs as Downsizing Wave Grows’

McClatchy: ‘The Philippines: America’s other war on terrorism’

McClatchy: ‘Financial panic now sweeping through South America’

Dawn (Pakistan): ‘Kabul admits holding talks with Taliban’

IRIN (UN): ‘Attacks drive thousands of Christians out of Mosul’

IRIN (UN): ‘Medical mission denied entry into Gaza’

Register (U.K.): ‘One billion unwanted opinions in real-time: Now SHOUTED at you’

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Iraq is yesterday’s news

Yesterday’s news in Iraq:

October 21: “The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Justin A. Saint, 22, of Albertville, Ala., died Oct. 15 in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries sustained in a non-combat related incident. He was assigned to the Special Troops Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg, N.C. The incident is under investigation.” (DOD)

October 21: “The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Spc. Heath K. Pickard, 21, of Palestine, Texas, died Oct. 16 in Balad, Iraq, of wounds suffered when he received indirect fire in Baquaba, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Fort Wainwright, Alaska.” (DOD)

October 21: “In a bid to alleviate the suffering of internally displaced persons (IDPs) living in tent camps, the local authorities have built a makeshift camp in western Baghdad to house 150 families in wooden caravans.” (IRIN)

Iraq Body Count: “Tuesday 21 October: 26 Dead”

Baghdad: 1 body found.

Jurf al-Sakhr: 15 killed in attack on two tribes.

Shirqat: Gunmen kill oil refinery director.

Diyala: 5 in minibus killed by US forces.

Mandili: car bomb kills 3.

Mosul: 1 body found. (Iraq Body Count)

“FACTBOX: Security Developments in Iraq, Oct 21

“Following are security developments in Iraq at 1600 GMT on Tuesday.”

• BAGHDAD – A salvo of seven mortars struck Saidiya neighbourhood of southern Baghdad, wounding five people, police said.

• BAGHDAD – One dead body was discovered in Baghdad, police said.

• MOSUL – Police said they found one unidentified dead body with gunshot wounds to the head and chest in the northern city of Mosul.

• BAGHDAD – Iraqi army troops found a large cache of weapons, ammunition and explosives in an industrial area of Sadr City in eastern Baghdad, said Qassim Moussawi, government spokesman for security in the capital.

• LATIFIYA – Nine decomposed bodies were found on Monday in Latifiya, 40 km (25 miles) south of Baghdad, police said. The victims had been buried for more than a year.

• BAGHDAD – A roadside bomb near an army checkpoint wounded one Iraqi soldier and three electricity workers in Palestine street in northeastern Baghdad, police said. (JAVNO — Croatia)

DOD Casualty Report:
U.S. military casualties during combat operations (March 19, 2003 to April 30, 2003): 139

U.S. military casualties “post combat ops” (May 1, 2003 to present): 4,038 (DOD Casualty Report)

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Journalist’s sentence still makes no sense

It’s not just newspapers that are dying; it’s newspaper reporters — and not the old, crusty variety. Here’s just another reason not to go to J-school: A student journalist in Afghanistan was sentenced to death for blasphemy. And this is under the “good guys” — the Karzai regime, which we’re supporting to the tune of billions of dollars.

But the good news is that the sentence of Sayed Parwiz Kambakhsh (left) has now been reduced to only 20 years in prison.

What did this 24-year-old student do? The Guardian (U.K.) explains:

[Kambakhsh] was studying journalism at Balkh University in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and writing for local newspapers when he was arrested in October 2007.

Prosecutors alleged that Kambakhsh disrupted classes by asking questions about women’s rights under Islam. They said he illegally distributed an article that suggested the Prophet Mohammad had ignored the rights of women.

In January this year, a lower court in Mazar-i-Sharif sentenced Kambakhsh to death after a trial that took place without a lawyer to represent him. . . .

After Kambaksh was sentenced to death in January, Muslim clerics welcomed the decision and there were public demonstrations against him.

In the West, the decision was seen as showing Afghanistan’s slide towards an ultra-conservative view on religious and individual freedoms.

Again the reminder: This is taking place not under the Taliban but under the Taliban’s foes, the puppet regime we’re propping up.

This is what U.S. troops over there are fighting and dying to preserve and protect: the right of a repressive government to execute people for asking questions about women’s rights.

Couldn’t Karzai’s increasingly conservative regime at least hold off on the executions or imprisonment of “blasphemous” people until we finally leave Afghanistan?