I thought Molly Ivins was a great writer — when she wrote about Texas.
Archives for January 2007
Thanks to Danny Lemieux, I got to read a beautifully written, funny, absolutely on-point article from a Brit analyzing Hillary’s candidacy:
Only a few days have passed since Hillary Clinton announced she is running for president, but already it is clear that much forbearance will be required from us all in the long months ahead. This is not just because Mrs Clinton has started wearing ominous pastels and smiling a lot, or appeared to enjoy a joke apparently about her husband’s sexcapades in the White House
There is something you can do to stop Ahmadinejad.
The Houston Chronicle has a story about a Texas’ families outrage over the fact that the New York Times used a picture of their son dying on Haifa street to spice up a story:
A photograph and videotape of a Texas soldier dying in Iraq published by the New York Times have triggered anger from his relatives and Army colleagues and revived a long-standing debate about which images of war are proper to show.
The journalists involved, Times reporter Damien Cave and Getty Images photographer Robert Nickelsberg, working for the Times, had their status as so-called embedded journalists suspended Tuesday by the Army corps in Baghdad, military officials said, because they violated a signed agreement not to publish photos or video of any wounded soldiers without official consent.
New York Times foreign editor Susan Chira said Tuesday night that the newspaper initially did not contact the family of Army Staff Sgt. Hector Leija about the images because of a specific request from the Army to avoid such a direct contact.
“The Times is extremely sensitive to the loss suffered by families when loved ones are killed in Iraq,” Chira said. “We have tried to write about the inevitable loss with extreme compassion.”
She said that after the newspaper account, with a photograph of the soldier, was published Monday, a Times reporter in Baghdad made indirect efforts to tell the family of the video release later that day. The video was still available for viewing on the Times’ Web site Tuesday night, when the newspaper notified clients of its photo service that the photograph at issue was no longer available and should be eliminated from any archives. (Emphasis mine.)
Since Matthew Brady’s famed Civil War photographs, there’s been a debate about newspapers using images of America’s own dead soldiers to tell a story. This is the first time that I know of, though, where a major American news organization has used video footage of a soldier actually dying.
Incidentally, there is a school of thought that says we shouldn’t make war antiseptic, like packaged meat in the market, but that we should make people on the home front vividly aware of the blood and carnage that is real warfare. The anti-War view has it that this will “turn-off” the public from War, since we have little stomach for finding out what really happens behind bloodless reports. The other view is that, as Americans showed with 9/11, these images, rather than making us passive, make us angry, help us to recognize our troops’s sacrifices, and increase our willingness to fight.
Regardless of whether you incline to either, or neither view, however, the NY Times showed exceptional bad taste in using this footage without the family’s consent — and stupidity in doing so without negotiating a deal first with the Army.
If any of you bloggers are getting disheartened, don’t. The internet does matter, even if gains are slow and grudging. Case in point: the bombed out mosques in Baghdad.
The story began in November when the AP reported that Shiite fights had destroyed four Sunni mosques in Baghdad and burned six men alive. Curt, at Flopping Aces, looked at the story with a jaundiced eye, asked some questions, and opened a huge Pandora’s box of journalistic malfeasance, with AP right in the middle of it all.
Now, after much blogging on the subject, after Michelle Malkin went to Iraq to check it out, and after the Confederate Yankee fired off a letter to the AP Board of Directors, the AP is grudgingly, gracelessly, half-heartedly backing down, although it’s still trying very hard to spin a major story where it’s apparent that none exists:
Four Sunni mosques attacked in late November in the embattled Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad still bear scars from the attacks and all are now either under Shiite Muslim control or closed.
Immediately after the Nov. 24 incidents, an Associated Press story quoted an Iraqi police captain saying the four mosques had been attacked and six men doused with fuel and burned alive at one of them. In some early versions of the AP story, which was updated several times as more information became available, the police officer referred to the mosques being burned or blown up.
The report was challenged a day later, when a U.S. military spokesman said it could only confirm an attack on one mosque.
Since then, the AP has confirmed damage at three of the four mosques, including burn damage at two and slight damage at a third.
Today, all four mosques are either clearly under the control of Shiites or closed and nonfunctioning, guarded by Iraqi army troops. The Iraqi army increased its presence in Hurriyah after the November attacks, which drove many Sunnis out of the neighborhood and put it firmly under Shiite control.
The loss of the Sunni mosques is a powerful symbol of how the formerly mixed neighborhood has changed to one where only Shiites are welcome.
You can read the rest of AP’s spin and retrofitting here.
I know that sometimes conservative members of the blogosphere get frustrated with the reach the MSM has. That is, even though there isn’t a vast Left wing conspiracy (a belief that would put us on the same level as Billary), the fact remains that MSM reporters have a tone and worldview that leans left, and they have the world’s biggest bully pulpit. I know that I often feel like Dame Partington, about whom the wonderful Rev. Sydney Smith (1771-1845) wrote:
In the midst of this sublime and terrible storm [at Sidmouth], Dame Partington, who lived upon the beach, was seen at the door of her house with mop and pattens, trundling her mop, squeezing out the sea-water, and vigorously pushing away the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic was roused; Mrs. Partington’s spirit was up. But I need not tell you that the contest was unequal; the Atlantic Ocean beat Mrs. Partington.
What keeps me going is that I’m not a lone figure with a mop. I’m part of Glenn Reynold’s “ Army of Davids.” Even if I fall back temporarily from fatigue, or miss something altogether, there’s someone else (and usually someone with greater insight, more accurate information, and a bigger audience) to take up the standard.
UPDATE: Here’s Michelle Malkin’s post explaining all the spin still existing in the story. Obviously, the AP is never going to cave in on this one, because to do so would admit how deep the institutional rot runs. Nevertheless, I thinks it’s a stellar blogosphere victory that they conceded, however obliquely and grudgingly, that their first report was just plain wrong.
In the long ago past, Jews were accused of heinous acts such as kidnapping Christian children and using their blood to make matzoh, or of poisoning wells, accusations that existed entirely separate from actual fact. That is, there was never any evidence that Jews actually engaged in these heinous acts. These accusation were the original blood libels: false charges intended to demonize an otherwise innocent group. In the Nazi era, the blood libels shifted. The Christian angle vanished with Jews instead accused of defiling innocent German maidenhood, and a Marxist element entered with Jews accused of controlling world finances (which, of course, explains why the Nazis felt impelled to slaughter millions of the world’s poorest citizens — Polish ghetto dwellers). Jews are still routinely accused of controlling things to the world’s detriment, and the blood libels and financial libels are alive and horribly well in the Muslim Middle East.
Jews, understandably, have always resented these libels, and modern Jews are not shy about speaking out vociferously against them. Modern Muslims, led by CAIR, like to speak out against calumnies against them as well. The latest Muslim anger is against a Canadian town that took steps to remind its Muslim immigrants that some behaviors will not be accepted in that town (h/t Captain’s Quarters):
Don’t stone women to death, burn them or circumcise them, immigrants wishing to live in the town of Herouxville in Quebec, Canada, have been told.
The rules come in a new town council declaration on culture that Muslims have branded shocking and insulting.
Herouxville, which has one immigrant family in its population of about 1,300, is 160km (100 miles) north-east of Montreal.
Its council published the new rules on the town’s website.
“We wish to inform these new arrivals that the way of life which they abandoned when they left their countries of origin cannot be recreated here,” the declaration reads.
“We consider it completely outside norms to… kill women by stoning them in public, burning them alive, burning them with acid, circumcising them etc.”
It points out that women are allowed to drive, vote, dance and own their own homes.
However, the president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, Salam Elmenyawi, condemned the council, saying it had set back race relations decades.
He told Reuters news agency: “I was shocked and insulted to see these kinds of false stereotypes and ignorance about Islam and our religion.” (Emphasis mine.)
It’s almost certain that Mr. Elmenyawi himself has never stoned a woman, burned her alive, or otherwise engaged in behavior that Westerners consider anti-social and even, maybe, misogynistic. Indeed, he may not even approve of those acts. However, unlike the Jews who could credibly deny using blood for Passover matzoh (it’s not even kosher), Mr. Elmenyawi is on thinner ice when he professes to be shocked, just shocked that a town would dare to use against Muslims “false stereotypes” about female circumcision, stoning, etc. Maybe he needs a little reminder of some recent events:
- Stoning to death, and more stoning to death, and just a little more stoning to death.
- Gang rape (and a sermon justifying its use against non-Muslim women)
- A little primer on female genital mutilation in Islam
- Honor killing, honor killing, honor killing and more honor killing, which, while not a part of the Koran, is a sanctioned (or ignored) act in most Muslim countries, with Jordan as a good example.
- And just for good measure, let’s not forget that nasty torture and beheading habit. (With recent examples here, here and here.)
It’s appropriate to be shocked and offended when you’re accused of something you manifestly haven’t done. It’s a bit more disingenuous to strike that pose when there’s credible evidence that you (or your culture, I guess I should say) routinely engages in the alleged conduct. Perhaps rather than hollering at the top of his lungs that he’s deeply offended about the suggestion that his people engage in acts in which they, in fact, manifestly engage, Mr. Elmenyawi, if he does indeed find these acts offensive, should set his own house in order.
Although I find the light they give too sterile and cool to be appealing, we have a bunch of the new compact fluorescent bulbs in our house, both because they are cheap to operate and they are long lasting.
Apparently we should all be grateful to termites.
Here’s a story that will cheer you up tremendously, if you need cheering, and that will make you feel even more cheerful if you started off in a good mood.
What? The Indian Ocean?! What’s that all about? It’s about the fact that, if I were to start digging a hole in my backyard and dig all the way through the earth out out to the other side, that’s where I’d end up: in the Indian Ocean, at a point about 1/3 of the way between the Southernmost tip of Africa and Australia (closer to Africa). And how do I know this? Because of a very cool website.
What do you bet that the French will discover it takes more energy to turn the thing on and off for a five minute interval than to simply leave the darn thing lit?
Jimmy Carter has been garnering a lot of press lately for his anti-Semitic positions, hypocrisy, falsification of facts, etc.
The Museum of Modern Art hosted a symposium about feminist art. The story covering the symposium noted that the only time these feminist artists contemplated Islam they did so, not to discuss how their art could be used to help Islamic women break free from their invisibility and from the abuse heaped upon them, but to attack the Iraq War. Of course, considering what passes for art amongst the political chattering classes, maybe it’s a good thing that they’re not striving to help these poor women. Their efforts, which would probably involve effigies of mullahs soaked in urine, might backfire.
One San Francisco man learned that, even if being handicapped did not prevent him from pursuing his career of choice, perhaps he chose the wrong career:
A San Francisco man who is paraplegic was convicted Friday of two counts of robbery and one count of attempted robbery in thefts he conducted from the seat of his SUV in the Richmond District over two months in 2005.
Cuong Vinh Tran, 35, was found guilty by a jury that deliberated a day-and-a-half and also acquitted him on one count of robbery, the San Francisco district attorney’s office said in a statement.
Tran, who uses a wheelchair, robbed one victim of $160 and another of $500 and a necklace valued at $1,000, spokeswoman Bilen Mesfin said.
“According to the charges, the defendant would swoop up on the victims in his van, who were all on foot. Swearing at them in Cantonese, he would act like he had a gun under his sweatshirt,” Mesfin said in a written statement. “His defense included an alibi witness, which the jury did not believe.”
The victims didn’t know Tran uses a wheelchair because he remained in the SUV during the robberies, Mesfin said. He will be sentenced after a trial relating to two prior robbery allegations concludes, possibly Wednesday, Mesfin said.
In the late 1970s, California experienced a drought severe enough to require water rationing. I found that a very traumatizing experience, perhaps because it reminded me that, no matter how sophisticated we become, we are nothing without water. Now, as California faces its 5th driest January since 1850, I’m starting to get my drought fear back again:
This season’s scant rainfall doesn’t yet mean we’re in a drought — but it’s starting to feel that way. San Francisco is on track to post its fifth-driest January since 1850.
So far, San Francisco has recorded only 0.65 inches of rain compared to a normal rainfall of 4.72 inches. The city’s driest January on record was in 1926 when only 0.26 inches of rain fell.
And California as a whole is just as parched. Most crucially, the Sierra snowpack — which provides Californians with most of their drinking and irrigation water — has only 45 to 60 percent of its normal water content, depending on location. And it’s not improving.
“The snowpack is declining,” said Dan Gudgel, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “Every day that goes by with no precipitation puts us further behind with less prospect of catching up.”
That’s because California typically gets most of its precipitation in January, February and March, Gudgel said. Worse, no significant storms are headed this way.
“Nothing is coming for at least the next week,” he said. “We’re heading into a dry February.”
The same article says our reservoirs are still in good shape, so I’m not panicking, but this has the potential to be very depressing and demoralizing. I also just happen to like rain. That is, I love rainy days, and I miss them.