Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Nations don't invade other nations

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Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?

 

 

IT'S been more than eight years since "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" made its first foray into presidential politics with the presciently named Indecision 2000, and the difference in the show's approach to its coverage then and now provides a tongue-in-cheek measure of the show's striking evolution.

Jon Stewart describes the morning meeting as "a gathering of curmudgeons expressing frustration and upset."

In 1999, the "Daily Show" correspondent Steve Carell struggled to talk his way off Senator John McCain's overflow press bus — "a repository for outcasts, misfits and journalistic bottom-feeders" — and onto the actual Straight Talk Express, while at the 2000 Republican Convention Mr. Stewart self-deprecatingly promised exclusive coverage of "all the day's events — at least the ones we're allowed into." In this year's promotional spot for "The Daily Show's" convention coverage, the news newbies have been transformed into a swaggering A Team — "the best campaign team in the universe ever," working out of " 'The Daily Show' news-scraper: 117 stories, 73 situation rooms, 26 news tickers," and promising to bring "you all the news stories — first ... before it's even true."

Though this spot is the program's mocking sendup of itself and the news media's mania for self-promotion, it inadvertently gets at one very real truth: the emergence of "The Daily Show" as a genuine cultural and political force. When Americans were asked in a 2007 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press to name the journalist they most admired, Mr. Stewart, the fake news anchor, came in at No. 4, tied with the real news anchors Brian Williams and Tom Brokaw of NBC, Dan Rather of CBS and Anderson Cooper of CNN. And a study this year from the center's Project for Excellence in Journalism concluded that " 'The Daily Show' is clearly impacting American dialogue" and "getting people to think critically about the public square."

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/arts/television/17kaku.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

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The Anger, the Longing, the Hope

Uri Avnery's Column 
 
ONE OF the wisest pronouncements I have heard in my life was that of an Egyptian general, a few days after Anwar Sadat's historic visit to Jerusalem.

We were the first Israelis to come to Cairo, and one of the things we were very curious about was: how did you manage to surprise us at the beginning of the October 1973 war?

The general answered: "Instead of reading the intelligence reports, you should have read our poets."

I reflected on these words last Wednesday, at the funeral of Mahmoud Darwish.

DURING THE funeral ceremony in Ramallah he was referred to again and again as "the Palestinian National Poet".

But he was much more than that. He was the embodiment of the Palestinian destiny. His personal fate coincided with the fate of his people.

He was born in al-Birwa, a village on the Acre-Safad road. As early as 900 years ago, a Persian traveler reported that he had visited this village and prostrated himself on the graves of "Esau and Simeon, may they rest in peace". In 1931, ten years before the birth of Mahmoud, the population of the village numbered 996, of whom 92 were Christians and the rest Sunni Muslims.

On June 11, 1948, the village was captured by the Jewish forces. Its 224 houses were eradicated soon after the war, together with those of 650 other Palestinian villages. Only some cactus plants and a few ruins still testify to their past existence. The Darwish family fled just before the arrival of the troops, taking 7-year old Mahmoud with them.

http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1218922126/

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Justice Dept. Moves Toward Charges Against Contractors in Iraq Shooting

An Iraqi policeman inspects a car that was destroyed when Blackwater security guards opened fire in Baghdad, killing 17 civilians.
An Iraqi policeman inspects a car that was destroyed when Blackwater security guards opened fire in Baghdad, killing 17 civilians. (By Khalid Mohammed -- Associated Press)

Federal prosecutors have sent target letters to six Blackwater Worldwide security guards involved in a September shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, indicating a high likelihood the Justice Department will seek to indict at least some of the men, according to three sources close to the case.

The guards, all former U.S. military personnel, were working as security contractors for the State Department, assigned to protect U.S. diplomats and other non-military officials in Iraq. The shooting occurred when their convoy arrived at a busy square in central Baghdad and guards tried to stop traffic.

An Iraqi government investigation concluded that the security contractors fired without provocation. Blackwater has said its personnel acted in self-defense.

The sources said that any charges against the guards would likely be brought under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which has previously been used to prosecute only the cases referred to the Justice Department by the Defense Department for crimes committed by military personnel and contractors overseas. Legal experts have questioned whether contractors working for the State Department can be prosecuted under its provisions.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/16/AR2008081601967.html

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bags

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Ukraine offers satellite defence co-operation with Europe and US

Ukraine inflamed mounting East-West tensions yesterday by offering up a Soviet-built satellite facility as part of the European missile defence system.
 
Russian troops to withdraw from Georgia at noon today, according to the country's president. ; http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1488655367/bctid1735125743 http://www.brightcove.com/channel.jsp?channel=1139053637

The proposal, made amid growing outrage among Russia's neighbours over its military campaign in Georgia, could see Ukraine added to Moscow's nuclear hitlist. A Russian general declared Poland a target for its arsenal after Warsaw signed a deal with Washington to host interceptor missiles for America's anti-nuclear shield.

The move came as the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, signed a cease-fire deal that sets the stage for a Russian troop withdrawal after more than a week of warfare with its neighbour Georgia.

The deal calls for both Russian and Georgian forces to pull back to positions they held before fighting erupted on August 8. As of last night, though, there was little apparent evidence of a Russian pull-out from the Georgian town of Gori, which Russian tanks and troops took last weekend. Russia's foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, insisted a broader withdrawal would be contingent on further security measures.

Just hours before Mr Medvedev put his signature to the ceasefire deal, Russian forces blew up a Georgian railway bridge on the main line west of the capital, Tbilisi, an act that critics interpreted as a malicious attempt to cripple the country's infrastructure. Moscow at first issued a denial, but television footage shot by the Reuters news agency clearly showed the bridge's twisted remains.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/2570285/Ukraine-offers-satellite-defence-co-operation-with-Europe-and-US.html

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A New Low

A place for a tired old woman to try to figure things out so that the world makes a bit of sense.
 
On August 5, US newspapers carried the story of the capture of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani woman who was trained in neuroscience here in the United States. Typical of the stories was this one in the NY Times. The report was fairly neutral, but there were some gaps in the coverage which seemed a little puzzling. Dr. Siddiqui was brought back to the US and charged in a New York federal district court for the crime of shooting at FBI agents. There was no other terrorism related charge, yet she was identified as someone who worked closely with Al Qaeda. Rather curious, don't you think?

Yesterday, during my usual visit to Watching America, I came across this opinion column written by Aijaz Zaka Syed for the United Arab Emirates' Khaleej Times Online. It raises similar questions and suggests some possible answers.

JUST when you think Uncle Sam's war has no more surprises to spring on an unsuspecting world, he comes up with yet another gem.

Take the case of Dr Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who grew up in the US and went to top universities including the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The woman who had been a star student and a topper throughout a remarkable career had to leave the US when the authorities began harassing her and her husband for their charity activities in the wake of September 11 upheavals.

The family settled down in Karachi and was never involved in any illegal activities. One day in March 2003, this talented young woman went missing with her three children when she was on her way to Karachi airport.

Dr Siddiqui resurfaced this week after five years in a New York court as a 'top Al Qaeda terrorist'. She was barely able to walk and speak, which was not surprising given the fact she had been recently involved in a "gun fight with FBI agents" in Afghanistan. The US authorities claim Dr Siddiqui was captured near the governor's offices in Ghazni, Afghanistan last month with a bag full of "suspicious liquids in tubes."

If you think this is an incredible yarn, here's some more food for thought. We are told Siddiqui assaulted a team of US troops and FBI officials with a highly sophisticated weapon when they went to quiz her in Afghanistan. ...

There are some basic questions that an ordinary mind like mine just can't seem to figure out.

First, where was Aafia Siddiqui hiding or hidden all these years - since she went missing in Karachi in March 2003? How did she turn up in the remote Ghazni province in Afghanistan, of all the God-forsaken places? And what happened to her three children?
 
http://cabdrollery.blogspot.com/2008/08/new-low.html
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Conservative Party linked to pro-U.S. annexation cabal

Conservatives Put Canada's Most Vulnerable on Chopping Block

Compiled by John Stokes

  Stephen Harper Militarism
 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The Liberal Opposition chastises the Conservative government for cutting $1 billion in funding that targets the most vulnerable Canadians, despite at the same time reporting a near-record surplus of $13.2 billion for 2005-06.

"The vindictive, mean-spirited cuts targeted at the weak, the needy, the vulnerable and the marginalized in Canada, could only have been dreamt up by the insider group of Conservative Mike Harris hold-over ministers in this government," said Liberal Leader Bill Graham. "Conservatives have continued their "them versus us" mentality. People without money or clout get clobbered by them. In a country as blessed as ours, how does the Prime Minister justify cuts to funding for immigrant youth, aboriginal women, adults with literacy problems, housing for the disabled and vulnerable workers?

"When the Liberal Party inherited the Government of Canada, we had a $42 billion deficit, and we managed it for the people of this country" Mr. Graham continued. "The Conservatives got a $13 billion surplus that they're squandering and they won't give a cent to poor people.

http://www.agoracosmopolitan.com/home/Frontpage/2008/07/14/02459.html

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Hillary's The One!

 
 
Nearing the end of a week's vacation, Barack Obama now faces the toughest decision of his life. He has to come back from Hawaii ready to announce his running mate. And for me it's a no-brainer.

Forget Tim Kaine. He's an impressive young governor of a key swing state, but he has even less foreign policy or national security experience than Obama. Forget Evan Bayh. Again, a popular former governor, now senator, of a key Rust Belt state, but a big, early supporter of the war in Iraq and not exactly a firecracker on the stump. By the same measure, and for similar reasons, forget Bill Richardson, Joe Biden and Chris Dodd.

They are all good people. Each of them would make an outstanding member of Obama's Cabinet. But there's only one person with the firepower needed in a vice-presidential candidate. If Barack Obama really wants to blow John McCain out of the water, the best candidate by far is . . . Sen. Hillary Clinton.

It's all about winning in November. So think about the math. She got 18 million votes in the primaries; he got 18 million votes. She won the women and working-class vote; he won the African-American and white-collar vote. Put the two of them together and you have an unbeatable ticket: experience and promise, inspiration
and perspiration, change squared. It's the one sure way to unite and excite the party.
 
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Separated at birth?

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