Saturday, August 27, 2005

What's My Pirate Name?

My pirate name is:

Dirty Harry Flint

You're the pirate everyone else wants to throw in the ocean -- not to get rid of you, you understand; just to get rid of the smell. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from

Friday, August 26, 2005

Iraq Bloodshed May Get Worse

Note that, at the time of this posting, 75 soldiers have lost their lives while Bush has been "getting on with his life." And now a senior U.S. commander is predicting things are going to get worse.

From the Associated Press:

A senior U.S. commander in Iraq predicted Friday that insurgent violence will increase in the Sunni-dominated areas he commands north of Baghdad, but he also said there is a growing confidence among Iraqis that the insurgents will fail to stop planned elections in October and December.

Army Maj. Gen. Joseph Taluto, commander of the 22,000-soldier Task Force Liberty, also said that while his election security plan does not require any additional U.S. troops, he could use extra help if it were offered by Gen. George Casey, the top overall commander in Iraq, who is assessing election security needs.


We expect that the enemies will increase their attacks, particularly as we run up to the referendum," he said. "The divergent groups all have their own strategies and they select a time for these attacks. But they go up and then we'll have a week or two where the attacks will go down, and they seem to rearm themselves and then re- attack."

Asked why the U.S. military has been unable thus far to defeat the insurgents, Taluto said progress is being made and it is not widely recognized that U.S. troops stop many attacks before they can be executed. On the other hand, he said, it also is true that the insurgents have become part of the fabric of Iraqi life.

"They are intrinsic, and so it seems like they can act with impunity," Taluto said. "And then they do escalate their activities, so they surge and so on and so forth."

Have we turned another corner yet?

Bad People Scare Little Girl

So the campus newspaper at Southern Illinois University (Carbondale) has, for two years, been printing stories, columns, letters, etc. about a motherless little girl who's Marine father is deployed in Iraq. And recently they reported the father had been killed. One problem. It was all a hoax.

From the Chicago Tribune [via the Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader]:

Word that Sgt. Dan Kennings had been killed in Iraq crushed spirits in the Daily Egyptian newsroom. The stocky, buzz-cut soldier befriended by students at the university newspaper was dead, and the sergeant's little girl, a precocious, blond-haired child they'd grown to love, was now an orphan.

They all knew Kodee Kennings' mother died when she was 5. The little girl's fears and frustrations about her father being in harm's way had played out on the pages of the Daily Egyptian for nearly two years, in gut-wrenching letters fraught with misspellings, innocent observations and questions about why daddy wasn't there to chase the monsters from under her bed.

It turns out daddy didn't exist at all.


Using role players, including an employee of a local Christian radio station, the woman at the center of the hoax spun a remarkable wartime tale so compelling it grabbed the hearts of young journalists, university faculty members and readers, and left them blind to the possibility it could all be a ruse. There appears never to have been a monetary motive. In fact, the reasons behind all the lies remain unclear.


The Tribune traced the license plate of Hastings' car, and by Wednesday afternoon, a reporter was outside a home in Marion, Ill., looking for a woman named Jaimie Reynolds.

Reynolds agreed to talk.

Sitting on the back porch of her house wearing a maroon, long-sleeved Southern Illinois University shirt, her face flush from crying, Reynolds admitted she had pretended to be Colleen Hastings. She said Dan Kennings was invented, and those who met him had actually met a friend of hers who agreed to play the role.

She said, and the Tribune confirmed, that she was a broadcast journalism student at Southern Illinois. She graduated in 2004, putting her there alongside the very people she was deceiving.

Reynolds acknowledged the little girl actually is the daughter of friends, and said she persuaded the parents to let her bring the child regularly to Carbondale by saying she was filming a documentary about a soldier killed in Iraq.

"We told her it was for a movie," Reynolds said.
The Daily Egyptian has removed all of the previous articles, columns, and letters from their archives. However, the person who directed me to this article found the very first "introduction" article in Google’s cache. Get this:
But southern Illinois has proved to be just as much of a challenge. They keep her away from all the war coverage on television unless her dad shows up and home-school her because normal schools cover the war and try to keep her away from war protest.

That last one becomes a challenge anytime she comes to the SIUC campus with Matt. An avid Saluki fan, Kodee loves SIU, but she hates seeing "no war" scrawled on the walls of Faner and becomes confused when reading slogans such as "Bush is the Devil."

To Kodee, Bush is her father's boss and she does not understand why people think he is evil. She has also has a very difficult time understanding the war protesters and has begun to fear them the way most kids fear the boogeyman or monsters.

She calls them "the bad people," and is convinced they are going to come to her house at night to hurt her or camp out on the lawn and make her father not want to come home.

Every night, Matt and Colleen have to check under Kodee's bed and in the closet for "the bad people." They also have to double check to make sure the window is locked and investigate any sound that comes from outside.

Colleen said Kodee routinely wakes up at night screaming, fearful that "the bad people" are going to get her.

"To you and I, it's a crazy thought, but in her mind, it's as real as the telephone you're holding," Colleen said during a phone interview. "The fear is just so real."

Those mean ole anti-war protesters are frightening a (fictitious) little girl who's daddy is fighting for truth, justice and the American Way in Iraq. Bad people. Shame on them.

Too bad none of it was true.

SIU has a respectable journalism program. This won't help it. And removing all the "evidence" of the hoax from the newspaper's Web site may not be the best way to handle this.

Friday Beagle Blogging

Baxter in one of his seven favorite napping locations, my chair.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Fox News Makes (another) Boo-Boo

Never buy a house in Orange County, California. Fox News may out you as a terrorist.

Kevin Drum reports, you decide:

Just when you thought cable news couldn't sink any lower, cable news sinks lower. Two weeks ago, Fox News wrongly identified the house of Randy and Ronnell Vorick as a terrorist lair:
In what Fox News officials concede was a mistake, John Loftus, a former U.S. prosecutor, gave out the address Aug. 7, saying it was the home of a Middle Eastern man, Iyad K. Hilal, who was the leader of a terrorist group with ties to those responsible for the July 7 bombings in London.

Hilal, whom Loftus identified by name during the broadcast, moved out of the house about three years ago. But the consequences were immediate for the Voricks.
Italics mine. He gave out the address! On national TV! That's practically an invitation for local thugs to firebomb the house.

But now for the worst part. Not only has Fox not retracted this report, but here is Loftus' brain dead pseudo-excuse for broadcasting the Voricks' address to 20 million viewers in the first place:
"I thought it might help police in that area now that we have positively identified a terrorist living in [Orange County]," he said.
Note to Loftus: the next time you want to let police know about a terrorist living here in the OC, call the police.
Wonder if the folks at Fox can spell L-A-W-S-U-I-T?

Cheney Says "Let's Nuke Iran!"

OK, that's not a direct quote. As far as I know. Of course, I don't know that he didn't say it. Anyway, I inferred he said it after reading an article in Pat Buchanan's magazine, American Conservative.

Buchanan's magazine has published a report saying the Vice Prez has had the Pentagon prepare a contingency plan for an immediate air strike on Iran, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons, in the event of "another 9/11."

More from Doug Ireland:

The report, in Buchanan's mag's "Deep Background" column, claims: "In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration who brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran. The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections."

To summarize, Cheney has asked the Pentagon to prepare a plan to use nuclear weapons on Iran in response to another attack on the U.S., whether Iran is involved with that attack or not.

Will any mainstream media news organization report on the veracity of the article? If found to be correct, will any elected Democrat rise in opposition?

Scared yet?

67 American Soldiers Die While Bush on Vacation

As of August 23rd, 67 military personnel have lost their lives in Iraq while Bush has been on vacation getting on with his life.

America can do better than George W. Bush.

(Photo courtesy Linux Beach)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Welcome to Dish, MO

I'm starting a campaign to change the name of the Queen City of the Ozarks. Care to join me? We'll get free satellite TV for 10 years.

CNN/Money has the scoop, er, dish:

Satellite television company EchoStar is willing to give away its service to all residents of a lucky town for 10 years. But there's a catch.

The town must legally (and permanently) rename itself DISH, in honor of the name of EchoStar's service.

"As part of DISH Network's re-branding efforts and new advertising campaign trumpeting 'Better TV for All,' we invite a city or town to join us by re-branding itself DISH," said EchoStar president Michael Neuman in a written statement Tuesday.

The company said that it will accept submissions up until November 1 and that every household within the winning municipality will receive a free DISH Network satellite TV receiver, free standard installation and programming for 10 years.

Tired of paying for television? Let's change Springfield to DISH! As John 'Bluto' Blutarsky (John Belushi) said in Animal House, "Let's do it!"

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Good Question

Scott, over at I Know What I Know, offers up an excellent question which should be asked whenever the commander-on-vacation explains our illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq saying "if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets..." as he did again on Saturday.

So here’s the question: why does confronting them there mean that we won’t have to confront them here, too? Could someone make sure that Bush asks Tony Blair that question?

Don't hold your breath waiting for a reporter to ask the question. Maybe after a few more soldiers die and their mothers camp outside Dubya's residence demanding he explain the noble cause for which their children died. Maybe if Dubya's approval ratings go even lower. Then, maybe, some mainstream reporter will have the courage to call Dubya on his idiotic statement.

America can do better than George W. Bush.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Army Planning for 4 More Years in Iraq

So says the Army's top general, Gen. Peter Schoomaker, in an interview with the Associated Press.

Schoomaker said commanders in Iraq and others who are in the chain of command will decide how many troops will be needed next year and beyond. His responsibility is to provide them, trained and equipped.

About 138,000 U.S. troops, including about 25,000 Marines, are now in Iraq.

"We are now into '07-'09 in our planning," Schoomaker said, having completed work on the set of combat and support units that will be rotated into Iraq over the coming year for 12-month tours of duty.

Schoomaker's comments come amid indications from Bush administration officials and commanders in Iraq that the size of the U.S. force may be scaled back next year if certain conditions are achieved.

Among those conditions: an Iraqi constitution must be drafted in coming days; it must be approved in a national referendum; and elections must be held for a new government under that charter.

Meanwhile, Dubya again invoked Sept. 11 as the reason we're in Iraq, despite the indisputable fact that Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11:
President George W. Bush launched a counter-offensive against growing public discontent over Iraq on Saturday, when he defended the war as a way of protecting Americans from another September 11 attack, a message he will reinforce when he takes to the road next week.

"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war," he said.

But fortunately, the article exposes Dubya's tactic for what it is, an attempt to fool the public:
"They're trying to get the public's attention again and remind them of the arguments that once worked with the public," Larry Sabato, director of the center for politics at the University of Virginia, said.

If Bush falsely implying Iraq is tied to Sept. 11th wasn't bad enough, he also insults those who fought in World War II:
Bush likened the current situation to World War Two when U.S. forces "helped former enemies rebuild and form free and peaceful societies that would become strong allies of America."

American can do better than George W. Bush.

How Can You Just Foreget a Child in a Car?

Just read a story about a 1-year-old found dead in a car Thursday in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. Mt. Pleasant is in southeast Iowa, near where I grew up.

Authorities say the child had been in the vehicle for several hours and may have died of heat stroke.

Local newspaper reports said the child had been in the car all day and that Henry County Medical Examiner Dr. Kent Metcalf said the death apparently was an accident.

The local temperature at the time the child was found was 90 degrees.

Child advocacy groups have worked in recent years to reduce what appears to be a steady number of deaths caused when children are left unattended in hot vehicles.

According to the Associated Press, this type of child death in the United States varies annually from 28 children to 34 children in recent years.

I do not understand this. How can you "forget" about a child or a pet left in a car? How, in this day and age, can you not know how dangerous it is to leave any living thing in a car in 90-degree heat? We read stories like this every year. Why? Are some people still that ignorant?

And how can this be ruled an accident? Yes, I know, the parent didn't mean to kill the child, probably. But shouldn't these cases be ruled as negligent homicides? Isn't this really a case of depraved indifference?

I'm sorry for the family and friends who must mourn this senseless loss of life. I'm not unfeeling toward the party responsible, the party who left a 1-year-old in a car when the temperature was in the 90s. But I will never understand how you can just forget about any living thing in your car.

Anyone care to offer an explanation?

Friday, August 19, 2005

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Video Tombstones

If you've spent any time at a cemetary you undoubtedly have seen photos of the deceased included on a tombstone. Soon you may be able to see and hear the dead.

Robert Barrows has a patent pending for a weatherproofed, hollowed-out headstone that will house a microchip memory system and flat-screen TV. People will be able to film "talking tombstone" messages before they die, sharing highlights of their lives or whatever else they choose.

They might just relate their life stories, says Barrows, or worse: they could confess to lurid indiscretions. "It's history from the horse's mouth."

The tombstone would draw its electricity from the cemetery's lighting system. And to avoid a grave's soundtrack clashing with the one next door, people can also listen through wireless headphones.


If his patent is granted, Barrows hopes that when people make out their will, they also leave a parting video with their lawyer. They could also choose how grandiose to make their video monument: a standard flat-screen TV or perhaps a high-definition plasma screen in a more extravagant mausoleum.

Gary Collison, professor of American studies at Pennsylvania State University in Pittsburgh, thinks video tombstones are a natural progression from outsize monumental stonework.

"Cemeteries are places where people try to outdo each other, display their wealth and power. This would certainly be a new way to do that," he says.

I have assigned reporting students to pick a random tombstone in a cemetary and write a story about the person buried beneath it. That always meant digging for details. If these video tombstones catch on, students may find that excercise too easy.

That Other War

Afghanistan. Remember it? Where Bin Laden plotted the 9-11 attacks? Or, like dear leader, have you forgotten about it? Things aren't going well there.

The Times of London has this:

NEARLY four years after the defeat of the Taleban, efforts to rebuild Afghanistan face a “real and worrying risk of failure”, the British Government has concluded.

Terrorism remains an ever-present threat. Opium production is spreading. Large parts of the country’s infrastructure are in tatters and United Nations targets for improving basic services such as education and water will not be met.


The report said that there had been “remarkable progress” since 2001 with 3.5 million returned refugees, 60,000 former combatants disarmed and almost 2,000 schools built or refurbished. But three out of five Afghan girls do not attend school, life expectancy is 45 and one in five children die before five years of age.

The report adds: “Large parts of Afghanistan’s infrastructure are in tatters; in rural areas it has never been developed. The vast majority of Afghans do not have access to electricity or safe water. For some mountainous villages, the nearest road is two weeks’ walk away.”

But don't annoy Dubya with this. He's on vacation, getting on with his life. Oh, and don't tell him about the four American soldiers killed while he was riding his bike. That brings the total count this month to 63. With two weeks to go, August is on track to become the third deadliest month in the Iraq war.

Oh, and so far in August, 91 U.S. soldiers have earned Purple Hearts.

Update: Just read that two soldiers were killed and two wounded today in Afghanistan. The deaths bring to 182 the number of U.S. service members killed in and around Afghanistan since the start of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001.

Shh! It's a Surprise!

Don't tell me, but today's my birthday. A birthdate I share with such notables as Meriwether Lewis, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Roman Polanski, Robert Redford, Edward Norton, Rosalyn Carter, Martin Mull, Elayne Boosler, Denis Leary, and Christian Slater.

Chickenhawk in Springfield

Dick Cheney talks at Purple Heart recipients today in Springfield. Paul Begala reminds us why this is offensive:

On Thursday, Dick Cheney, who said he had "other priorities" in the Vietnam era, and so helped himself to five draft deferments, will address the 73rd Convention of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. I do not think he will express remorse for the callousness with which he explained his cowardice. Nor do I expect him to apologize for the shocking, mocking Republicans who, at their New York Convention a year ago, sported Band-Aids with tiny purple hearts to mock the blood shed by John Kerry and so many other heroes in that misbegotten war.

No, Mr. Cheney, surrounded by body guards who would gladly give their life for him, will no doubt wrap himself in the flag. A flag Larry Chad Northern wrapped around his axle on Prairie Chapel Road.

Larry Chad Northern is the right-wing nut who police say ran his pickup truck over hundreds of crosses bearing the names of heroic Americans killed in Iraq, along with dozens of American flags. This happened outside Dubya's ranch in Crawford, Texas where Cindy Sheehan is waiting for Dubya to explain for what noble cause her alter boy Eagle Scout son lost his life.

America can do better than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Jump at the Pump

Think gasoline prices have been going up a lot lately? You'd be correct. A Washington Post article says the average price of a gallon of gas jumped by 18 cents in the past week, the biggest one-week jump since the Energy Department began compiling the data 15 years ago. The average national price of a gallon of regular was up 36 percent over a year ago.

And it could get worse:

Prices are rising partly because drivers are taking to the road during the summer's peak travel period. The increased demand for gas comes as supplies have tightened and refineries are grappling with problems that have cut production, analysts said.

Crude oil prices, the biggest component of gasoline prices, have been climbing as well and remain above $66 a barrel. In recent days, gasoline prices on the futures market have shot up even faster than oil, and that has translated into the rapid surge in prices at the pump.

Gasoline prices could climb another 5 to 15 cents through Labor Day even if oil prices do not rise, analysts said. Prices should fall after the holiday, when demand typically drops, said Tom Kloza, chief analyst for the Oil Price Information Service of Lakewood, N.J.

"I absolutely do not believe we will stay at these numbers," Kloza said.

And yet oil companies are reporting record profits:
The largest United States-based oil company, Exxon Mobil Corp., reported last month that its second-quarter profit was up 32 percent, to $7.64 billion.

But the L.A. Times reports oil prices dropped on Wednesday:
Crude oil prices fell nearly $3 a barrel Wednesday as new inventory and demand data eased concerns about summertime fuel supplies and traders pocketed profits from the oil market's dramatic run-up in recent weeks.

How long do you think it will take stations to adjust their prices downward?

Ashcroft Investigation?

Two Democratic Congressmen have requested the Justice Department investigate former Attorney General John Ashcroft's role in overseeing the Plame probe, before it was taken over by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald.

Murray Waas, who has been all over the Plame case, has details:

The ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman John Conyers, of Michigan, and Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Democrat of New York, will tomorrow formally request that the Inspector General of the Justice Department, Glenn A. Fine, investigate whether then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft "violated explicit rules on conflicts of interest when he failed to recuse himself from, and in fact was briefed on, the CIA name leak investigation despite his personal connection to Karl Rove, a person of interest to investigators."

Waas wrote about this in the Village Voice. Here's the big paragraph:
As the truthfulness of Rove's accounts became more of a focus of investigators, career Justice Department employees and senior FBI officials became even more concerned about the continuing role in the investigation of Ashcroft, because of his close relationship with Rove. Rove had earlier served as an adviser to Ashcroft during the course of three political campaigns. And Rove’s onetime political consulting firm had been paid more than $746,000 for those services.

Waas is using both mainstream media publication and blog post to cover this story. Quite impressive.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Like most computer users I find myself killing time playing solitaire now and then. When I played with a deck of cards I only knew one game. And although many variations are available (over 1,000, according to one source), I still most often play the classic version, called Klondike, on my computer.

Many famous people played solitaire. When Napoleon was exiled to St. Helena in 1816 he reportedly played to pass the time. Many games use his name to this day. Franklin D. Roosevelt was another of the many well known avid solitaire players. His favorite solitaire game was Spider solitaire. Several famous works like War and Peace and Great Expectations mention solitaire.

Whenever I play Solitaire I can't help but hear the Statler Brothers singing Flowers on the Wall in my head:

Countin' flowers on the wall, that don't bother me at all
Playin' solitaire 'til dawn, with a deck of fifty-one
Smokin' cigarettes and watchin' Captain Kangaroo

I always think of Harold Reid hitting "Kang" a half step ahead of the rest with his deep bass. Those too young to have a clue as to what I'm talking about may leave now.

How old do you have to be to understand the reference to Captain Kangaroo, let alone remember watching the show weekday mornings on CBS? [sigh] Now THAT was good children's programming.

Anyway, I usually also run through Janis Ian's hit At Seventeen:
We all play the game, and when we dare
We cheat ourselves at solitaire....

mainly because I sometimes find myself cheating. It's so easy to do when you play on a computer that allows you to undo! (BTW, 2005 is the 30th anniversary of the release of that song. Gawd, I feel old.)

At one time I played a version that timed each game and was constantly trying to "win" faster. I no longer try to beat the clock, at least not consciously. But I do find myself shifting my eyes around the screen quickly as if I need to play in a hurry. This invariably leads to eye fatigue and sometimes a dizzy spell.

Am I odd this way, or do others play quickly as well?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The New Gatekeepers

While in San Antonio last week I sat in on a panel about the impact of blogging on traditional news operations. While all panelists agreed the "old" media need to adapt to the world as changed by bloggers, they didn't agree on much else. That made for a lively discussion, which included many in the audience. Always a good thing at these conventions, since it usually plants an idea in my brain that will fester into something more.

This time it led me back to a recent post on the Adbusters Web site regarding the myth of the liberal news media:

The myth of the mainstream media’s “liberal bias” has recently taken yet another hit after researchers at California’s Sonoma State University took a close look at the resumes of the 118 people who sit on the boards of directors of America’s ten largest media organizations. The research team is part of the Project Censored, which for nearly three decades has been exposing journalistic self-censorship — “the news that didn’t make the News.” They determined that the group of 118 board members in turn sit on the boards of 288 other major corporations. They also discovered that eight out of the ten media behemoths share common memberships in each other’s boardrooms.


Can we reasonably imagine Peter Jennings’ handlers at ABC giving him the green light to investigate why Halliburton was awarded sole-source contracts in Iraq when their own wallets are fattening because of it? How about expecting the grand poobahs of the New York Times to report on the financial ties between the Bush and Bin Laden families through their mutual membership in the Carlyle Group when they’re feasting from the same trough?

One role of the U.S. news media traditionally has been that of the gatekeeper, determining what "news" gets through the gate and into American homes. That role no longer exists due to the advent of 24-hour cable "news" channels (which are far more about opinion than news), Internet news sites, and Web logs (blogs). But many in the traditional news media haven't made the change from gatekeeper to guide.

A guide should supply depth and detail. Tell me when something isn't true and why. Explain how and why something happened, not just that it did. My choices for finding out WHAT happened have increased dramatically, and definitely include blogs and news Web sites. And I'm able to search the Web for additional details and background, although most people probably don't.

But back to the Adbusters' post. While ABC News bosses may not allow their reporters to investigate a story early on, they may certainly find it difficult to ignore a story built up by bloggers. "Citizen journalists" are able to report on matters the mainstream media may ignore. But as we've seen with Cindy Sheehan, the mainstream media often find it difficult to ignore a story receiving a great deal of coverage in the blogosphere.

Other options for "getting a story out" keep popping up. Thanks to "Current TV" (and similar sites) people who own a video camera (or have a friend who owns a video camera) can now do more than criticize the news media or offer advice. They can make a news video and upload it:
Let’s redefine the news. Shoot a story the traditional news media doesn’t know about, or won’t touch. Whether it’s an expose or an interview, your point of view matters — but so do the facts.

Gay marriage. Drug laws. Stem cells. It’s the stuff that divides us — and shows us who we are. Pick a side or bridge the gap, and help us make the abstract real and relevant.

This is your chance to dissect the news. Show us what the media is saying — and how it’s misleading, incomplete, or just plain untrue.

News Current
Here’s where we re-invent the news. Important stories? Check. Point of view? Check. Insatiable curiosity? Double-check.

Pick up on a story the mainstream media doesn’t know about — or chooses to ignore.

There are inherent dangers in relying on non-traditional "news" media, which may not do fact-checking or seek balanced reporting. But that's where the traditional news media may remain valuable, by exhibiting and explaining errors.

I'm rambling a bit, I know. As I said, the thought is still festering.

Reuters Has An Oops

It might not be there if you click the link, because ads often rotate, so I did the screen capture above. The article is about the worm that invaded computers using the Windows operating system, including those at CNN, ABC News and the New York Times.

Right next to it is an ad for Microsoft's Windows Small Business Server.

I found it amusing, thought you might, too.

Even in London

Reports are coming in that London police may well have screwed up big time when they killed a Brazillian man last month. The police "mistook" the man for a terrorist.

Britain's ITV television news reported the man was already seated on a train when he was tackled by a police surveillance officer. The report also quotes a passenger on the train as saying the first shot was fired while the victim was sitting down.

The documents and photographs confirm that Jean Charles was not carrying any bags, and was wearing a denim jacket, not a bulky winter coat, as had previously been claimed.

He was behaving normally, and did not vault the barriers, even stopping to pick up a free newspaper.

He started running when we saw a tube at the platform. Police had agreed they would shoot a suspect if he ran.

A document describes CCTV footage, which shows Mr de Menezes entered Stockwell station at a "normal walking pace" and descended slowly on an escalator.

The document said: "At some point near the bottom he is seen to run across the concourse and enter the carriage before sitting in an available seat.

British police originally said the 27-year-old Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes, was shot after refusing an order to stop. That no longer appears to be true.

While blame for this horrendous act cannot be placed fully on George W. Bush, he certainly deserves a portion of it, as do the actual terrorists. It's events like this that cause the world to hate the U.S. And Bush has done more to elevate that hate than any other American. Ever.

America can do better than George W. Bush.

Bush Screws Up Iraqi Constitution

He's done everything else wrong, why should this be any different? Seems the pressure Bush and Condi are putting so much pressure on the Iraqis to finish a constitution, it is causing a backlash.

Reuters has details:

The United States is pushing Iraqi leaders hard to reach agreement on a draft constitution but U.S. experts on Iraq warned on Monday that too much pressure could backfire and undermine the leadership's credibility.

Condi and Bush are pretending that the Iraqis are in charge, but that's not quite accurate:
But some U.S.-based Iraq analysts disagreed and criticized the United States for piling too much pressure on all sides to reach agreement and said it had made Iraqi politicians' jobs more difficult.

"Clearly the deadline is not working as there are still such big issues outstanding and putting pressure on them to meet the timetable is probably causing more division among the Iraqis than consensus," said Iraq expert David Phillips of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Middle East specialist Shibley Telhami said he thought the United States was playing too big a role in helping draft the constitution and this posed a credibility problem for the current Iraqi leaders.

"The U.S. ambassador there is very visible in his meetings over the constitution. There is the impression that the United States is driving this, and that is not a good thing," said Telhami of the Brookings Institution.

And there are those who don't think the constitution will make a difference.
"By now I don't think that progress on the constitution will have one iota of impact, and even if they come up with a compromise agreement, implementing it is another story," [Phillips] said.

Why are we there?

Being Honored

I'm not quite sure how to react to this. My sudden disappearance from big church city (and blogging) was to attend a convention of journalism and mass communication educators in San Antonio, Texas.

I had no plans to go to this annual event because of its location and the time of year. San Antonio. August. Why? Well, you get good convention rates when you go to the deep south in August. This same group has had its convention in Miami Beach, Phoenix and New Orleans in recent years, along with Kansas City, Toronto and D.C. I'm not much up for high humidity. High heat I can deal with, but humidity wipes me out. Probably why I so enjoyed New Mexico earlier this summer.

Anyway, was going to pass on the convention until I got a phone call telling me I absolutely had to attend. Nope, not gonna do it. Please? Nope. OK, I really HAD to attend. Why? I was getting an award. Oh. Okay. I'll try.

So the missus and I dropped the beagle off at the pampered pet motel and drove to Texas. It rained part of the time, but generally we had hot and humid weather. Highs near 100 every day, humidity above 90 percent. Ate at a wonderful German deli and a pretty good Mexican restaurant (the wife loves a good Margarita). Visited the Alamo, walked on the Riverwalk, rode the trolley to see the Alamodome and other parts of town. A worthwhile visit. Even attended a session on blogging at the convention.

Dutifully went to the business meeting where the award was to be presented and had a wonderful conversation with a couple of ladies from the Radio-Television News Directors Foundation.

Came to the time for the award. Listened to a description of someone who sounded vaguely familiar, but certainly didn't deserve the kudos being bandied about. "Recognition long overdue," the host said. "Served the organization in good times and bad." "Not only should he receive this award, but we've decided to name it after him." Then he called me up to the podium to present a plaque honoring me for my service to the organization. I am the first recipient of a service award named for me. And then I got a standing ovation.

And I really don't know how to react to this. I am humbled by the experience. And very grateful to be so honored. But what does one say at such an event? Fortunately, no one expected me to give a speech. Wouldn't have been able to as I was choked up and speechless.

So, how'd you spend your weekend?

Bush's Weekly Lie-fest

Our commander on vacation used his weekly radio address to promote his old lie that Iraq was tied to "September the 11th:"

The recent violence in Iraq is a grim reminder of the brutal nature of the enemy we face in the war on terror. Our mission in Iraq is tough because the enemy understands the stakes. The terrorists know that a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a crippling blow to their hateful ideology. And that is why our work in Iraq is a vital part of the war on terror we're waging around the world.

This war on terror arrived on our shores on September the 11th, 2001.

When will the mainstream media start calling Bush on this lie? Dubya then slaps the face of our "allies" in the War on Terror (or whatever we're calling it now):
...the terrorists have continued to kill -- in Madrid, Istanbul, Jakarta, Casablanca, Riyadh, Bali, Baghdad, London, and elsewhere. ...we're staying on the offensive in Iraq, Afghanistan and other fronts in the war on terror, fighting terrorists abroad so we do not have to face them here at home.

Yes, we must keep the terrorists from attacking America. Keep them in Spain and England and Saudi Arabia where they belong.

That same day, the New York Times posted this story: "U.S. Struggling to Get Soldiers Improved Armor." Still struggling to get armor for the troops. We've been told it's been taken care of....but it hasn't been. Soldiers in Iraq do not have the proper equipment:
For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents.

The ceramic plates in vests worn by most personnel cannot withstand certain munitions the insurgents use. But more than a year after military officials initiated an effort to replace the armor with thicker, more resistant plates, tens of thousands of soldiers are still without the stronger protection because of a string of delays in the Pentagon's procurement system.
The effort to replace the armor began in May 2004, just months after the Pentagon finished supplying troops with the original plates - a process also plagued by delays. The officials disclosed the new armor effort Wednesday after questioning by The New York Times, and acknowledged that it would take several more months or longer to complete.

Next up: . Bush and company keep pushing for a third war there:
President Bush said on Israeli television he could consider using force as a last resort to press Iran to give up its nuclear programme.

"All options are on the table," Bush, speaking at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, said in the interview broadcast on Saturday.

Asked if that included the use of force, Bush replied: "As I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the last option for any president and you know, we've used force in the recent past to secure our country."

How long do you think it will be before we start hearing about Iran's nuclear program being tied to "September the 11th?"

7 Years for Killing Five

Seven years ago Mitchell Johnson and Andrew Golden killed four students and one teacher in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Last Thursday, Johnson walked out of jail a free man.

Arkansas' juvenile justice system prevented the state from holding either killer beyond their 18th birthdays. Federal prosecutors used weapons laws to keep the boys locked up until age 21.

Now, in the eyes of the law, Mitchell Johnson has no criminal record. He could even legally, if he chose to, buy a gun.

“If you’re a juvenile who commits a serious violent crime, you should lose your right to be able to purchase a weapon,” insists gun control advocate Peter Hamm.

Arkansas has since changed its law, allowing young offenders to be punished first as juveniles and then transferred to adult prison once they turn 18.

But Jason Ziedenberg, an advocate for the juvenile system, says Mitchell Johnson has served long enough in a system designed to rehabilitate. “That’s a far better impact on public safety than having him come out of prison 10 years, 15 years from now, without any chance of re-integrating in the way that we’d want,” says Ziedenberg.

Johnson’s parents aren’t saying where he’ll go now that he’s out. But his mother says it won’t be Jonesboro.

The shooting was cold-blooded and premeditated. Frightening to think kids so young could be so ruthless. More frightening to think Johnson could buy a gun.

Write Your Own Caption

Here's Dubya with some Little Leaguers. What do you think the caption should be? Post it in the comments. Mine's below the fold.

"And the Army will pay for your college if, I mean 'when' you get back from eye-rack..."

Dubya Has No Shame

Been away, now I'm back. Visited the Lone Star state but Dubya wouldn't allow an audience with me, either.

Cindy Sheehan is the California woman holding vigil outside Dubya's Crawford, Texas ranch until he meets with her to provide a reason for her son's death in Iraq. I'm sure you've read about it, but if not, details are here.

I'm pleased with the media attention Sheehan has been getting, especially the bad press for Dubya. When asked about Sheehan, Dubya said "I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life."

That includes attending a Republican fund-raiser and a little league game and a bike ride with Lance Armstrong.

But Dubya says "I grieve for every death" and that's supposed to make it all better. This is the same man who has never been to a soldier's funeral, whose Pentagon won't allow pictures of their caskets and who only mentions losses when they are in double digits. Oh, and he thinks about Iraq every single day.

America deserves better than George W. Bush

Friday, August 05, 2005


Corrected the Chatter link over there on the right, and added some blogs I read regularly. There's no particular order to any of the listings, and no meaning behind being listed or not being listed. I need to spend some time organizing and adding blogs and other links. [sigh] A blogger's work is never done.

Friday Beagle Blogging, Impression Edition

Baxter does his impression of a pointer. "It's over that way."

By the Numbers, Part Two

Some additional numbers and thoughts to ponder.

From TheDenverChannel we learn:

A Colorado soldier who just returned from duty in Iraq fatally shot his wife and then himself, according to a Fort Carson spokesman.

Pfc. Stephen S. Sherwood, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was with his wife at their home near Fort Collins when the shooting occurred Wednesday afternoon.


The couple's 8-month-old child was in the care of a neighbor, who reported hearing the gunshots, said Eloise Campanella, a spokeswoman for the Larimer County sheriff.


Sherwood was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery based out of Fort Carson, but had a home near Fort Collins.

Sherwood had returned from Iraq on July 25 after spending nearly a year there and was on leave at the time of the shootings, said Dee McNutt, an Army spokeswoman.

Sherwood enlisted in the Army in January 2004, according to McNutt.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, which had previously been based in South Korea, lost 68 soldiers during its tour in Iraq.

He was at least the second Fort Carson-based soldier to commit suicide shortly after serving in Iraq.

• 23,317 – Civilians reported killed by military intervention in Iraq (at least, as of August 4, 2005)

• 13,769 – U.S. military wounded in action since April 2003 (as of August 2, 2005)

• 215 – U.S. military casualties in Afghanistan (where bin Laden was/is)(as of August 4, 2005)

$3,870,000,000 – Annual cost of all sixteen U.N. peacekeeping missions currently underway

$4,100,000,000 – Monthly cost of the U.S. occupation of Iraq

• 0 – Number of weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq

Finally, Joe in D.C., writing about Dubya's vacation on AmericaBlog, reminds us:
And you will recall, it was during a similarly long vacation in 2001, that he was handed a memo that read "Bin Laden Determined to Strike In U.S." and did nothing.

America can do better than George W. Bush.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

By the Numbers

Harper's Magazine publishes a monthly feature, Harper's Index, "a statistical snapshot of the world's economic, political, and cultural climate." Time magazine does something similar called Numbers. Here's some data worth pondering:


  • 49 - the number of vacations that Bush has taken since he was inaugurated in 2001
  • 5 - the number of weeks that Bush will spend on vacation. It is the longest presidential vacation in at least 36 years.
  • 319 - August 3, 2005 was the 319th day Bush has spent on vacation since his 2001 inauguration.
  • 20% - the fraction of Bush's presidency that he has spent on vacation
Now consider these:

The lyrics to U2's song Sunday, Bloody Sunday keep going through my head:

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes and make it go away
How long...
How long must we sing this song?
How long? how long...

And it’s true we are immune
When fact is fiction and tv reality
And today the millions cry
We eat and drink while tomorrow they die
America can do better than George W. Bush.

Art, Graffiti, or What?

The people of Des Moines, Iowa have a new outdoor painting to admire. But is the nude figure — part of which is shown below the fold — art, graffiti, or what?

Like many communities, Des Moines is trying to revive its downtown by turning part of it into a center for cultural activities. Artists are turning vacant store fronts into galleries and studios. The result has met with mixed reaction:

A painting of a nude woman on the side of a downtown Des Moines building has raised eyebrows, elicited smirks and forced city inspectors to determine whether it's art or graffiti.


City leaders, so far, have not made a determination if the painting must come down.

Art that promotes a business is often considered an advertisement that requires a permit while graffiti is strictly prohibited.

The painting was commissioned partly by the makers of Red Bull energy drink. A graffiti artist and others started the project during a Saturday night party at their galleries at 1408 Locust St. The group had permission from the building's owner, Brommel said.

City leaders complain that the work looks too much like graffiti.

"I'd rather it's not there, to be perfectly honest," said City Councilwoman Christine Hensley, who has passed on complaints to the inspectors.

Judge for yourself, is this art, or graffiti?