January 23, 2008

Web Reconnaissance for 01/23/2008

A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

In the News: (Registration may be required to read some stories)
Fed Cuts Interest Rate to Stem Panic - The Federal Reserve slashed a key interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point yesterday, a bold action designed to prevent steep losses in world stock markets from causing an all-out panic. (READ MORE)

Politicians Power Up With 'Green-Collar' Workers - When Hal Jordan, the fictional playboy test pilot, was given a power ring from a dying spaceman, thus making him the Green Lantern of Sector 2814 (Earth), he joined an elite military institution called the Green Lantern Corps -- a group dedicated to preserving order in the universe while sporting... (READ MORE)

Judge Sentences Padilla to 17 Years, Cites His Detention - MIAMI, Jan. 22 -- Jose Padilla, the former Chicago gang member originally accused of plotting with al-Qaeda to detonate a radioactive "dirty bomb" on U.S. soil, was sentenced on Tuesday to 17 years in prison on less dramatic charges. (READ MORE)

Iraq's New Law on Ex-Baathists Could Bring Another Purge - BAGHDAD -- Maj. Gen. Hussein al-Awadi, a former official in Saddam Hussein's Baath Party, became the commander of the Iraqi National Police despite a 2003 law barring the party from government. (READ MORE)

Slashed Rate Slows Losses - The Federal Reserve yesterday calmed world markets with the most dramatic interest rate cut in 24 years, citing increasing danger to the economy from deteriorating financial conditions. (READ MORE)

Palestinians Enter Egypt Over Downed Wall - Tens of thousands of Palestinians poured from the Gaza Strip into Egypt today after masked gunmen with explosives destroyed most of the seven-mile wall dividing the border town of Rafah. (READ MORE)

Hillary-Obama Feud Alarms Party Officials - Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama are increasingly going after each other, prompting top Democrats to warn they are muddying the party's image in advance of the general election. (READ MORE)

Bush Promises Quick Economic Salve - President Bush and congressional leaders yesterday sought to reassure investors and stock market watchers by promising to craft an economic stimulus package within a month, before Congress recesses in mid-February for Presidents Day. (READ MORE)

Medvedev Says Would Support U.N. and Iran - Russian presidential heir apparent Dmitry Medvedev, in his first major campaign speech yesterday, said he would seek to boost the power of the United Nations and would not sever Moscow's ties to "problem states" like Iran, despite Western pressure. (READ MORE)

Obama's Clinton Education - One of our favorite Bill Clinton anecdotes involves a confrontation he had with Bob Dole in the Oval Office after the 1996 election. Mr. Dole protested Mr. Clinton's attack ads claiming the Republican wanted to harm Medicare, but the President merely smiled that Bubba grin and said, "You gotta do what you gotta do." (READ MORE)

From the Front:
Lt. Nixon Rants: Winter Soldier '08: For Better or For Worse - Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) is putting on a "Winter Soldier" symposium on March 13-16 where Iraq vets are going to discuss atrocities committed during the time on the ground in Iraq and why the US needs to get out. I'm a little skeptical on this one because it seems like it's going to play into the propaganda imagery employed by the extreme liberal and even moderately liberal blogosphere. You go to any one of these sites and I guarantee you'll see more Abu Ghraib and Gitmo imagery than any of Al-Qaeda's daily worldwide atrocities. I've wrote about vets being exploited for political purposes before, and I fear that's what may happen this time around (it's deja vu all over again). I've been in-country for 7 months, and while I'm not on the ground, the only thing which could be construed as a "war-crime" in my time here was that whole Blackwater fiasco. (READ MORE)

Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal: The Great Dragunov Jigsaw Puzzle - “Hey, LT.” SSG Boondock’s rapid banter rose above the incessant prattling of four Iraqi women, upset at being shepherded out of their house in the desert orange dawn. “You’ll want to check this out.” I left the terp Billy the Kid with the locals, and followed SSG Boondock’s lead around the corner of the house – a mud hut, really, only consisting of two small rooms that supposedly housed two military-aged males, one of the men’s mother, three younger women, and four children. We were operating in the farmland outskirts of Anu al-Verona, acting on a tip one of the local Sheiks had provided us about a new family in his area possibly housing insurgents. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Bush's Media Victims - Journalists sometimes give the impression that they have no shame. Today they get some help from a study by two nonprofit journalism organizations, according to the AP. The study "found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks." The report suggests that the journalists were fooled into spreading the statements, which "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses." (READ MORE)

From an Anthropological Perspective: Cooking Oil in Baghdad and the World - I read the online version of the New York Times today and came across an article on the shortage of cooking oil globally and food shortages due to more land going toward producing biofuel crops. Cooking oil is the new oil shortage and the problem is not simply one of cooking convenience. For people living on the caloric edge, cooking oil is an important source of calories and necessary fats (many vitamins, for example, require fats to be properly absorbed by the human body). This article got me to thinking about how cooking oil is often not included in the food ration provided to Baghdadis. (READ MORE)

Fightin' 6th Marines: Fightin' 6th is Going Home! - We knew that this time would arrive and while we are excited to return home, we must thank each and every one of you for your support over the past year. A very special "THANK YOU!!" to the guys and gals at VOX for assisting us during the initial stages and we definitely could not have done it without them! When we first started this blog, they understood the complications of our internet connectivity here and kept in touch with us to ensure that everything was running smooth. We hope that this site brought some newsworthy information, but if you want to keep up with the news here in Fallujah, Regimental Combat Team 1 has started their own VOX blog. (READ MORE)

Eighty Deuce on the Loose in Iraq: I didn't know it got THIS cold here... - Alright, well it has been a little bit since my last post and that is partially due to a little bit of laziness on my part compounded with the inability to access my Blogger account from the outpost. I was going to put a post up right before I left, but I figured, no I'll just do it once I get to the outpost. Well, as I've talked about before the people who control the firewall that prevents us from going to many websites, I have noticed are very bi-polar when it comes to allowing/denying access to Blogger. Sometimes they do and others they dont. One day I may be able to get on and the next I wont and then the next day again I can't. It's pretty crazy and it can get quite annoying sometimes. Gets my hopes up. (READ MORE)

Desert Dude: 23 January - Well I guess I am getting used to going on the missions—I did not want to get up this morning …that’s the normal early morning response when I usually have to go to work…so I got up and got the truck checked out—I was the driver today …everything went like it was supposed to—loaded, staged, comms, etc…everything went right and we got out the gate on time …the first place we stopped was in the middle of the city to check out an electrical supply something or other…the town was bustling and busy and crowded and crazy like every other day… (READ MORE)

Badger 6: Setting the Record Straight Regarding Soldiers Deaths while Riding in MRAPs - Today the New York Times has this article, Hopes for Vehicle Questioned After Blast. The basic thesis is that because some Soldiers were killed while riding in the vehicle. Long time readers of Badgers Forward know that I mentioned the MRAP in its various models is not the panacea some would have have you believe. I was stunned when I read this though – “Yet, it was anything but routine. Over a crackling field radio came reports of injuries and then, sometime later, official confirmation of the first fatality inflicted by a roadside bomb on an MRAP, the new Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected armored vehicle that the American military is counting on to reduce casualties from roadside bombs in Iraq.” The New York Times gets it wrong. (READ MORE)

all expenses paid afghan vacation: times are changing - Things have been pretty busy around here lately, missions and QRF have been keeping quite active, and lots to do with organizing mounds of clothes and gear to figure out the final packing list heading home and getting our footlockers ready to ship within a week. And in the free time I have had I’ve been extremely lazy and tried to sleep as much as possible…it helps the down times go by that much faster…hence the lack of updates on my part. Nonetheless, here we finally go, some random thoughts from while on towers a couple weeks ago. Among the many things that you see or think about differently while on a deployment is the weather and seasons. (READ MORE)

A Battlefield Tourist: This Week in Afghanistan: January 20th - 26th - January 20th: A British soldier is killed and five others wounded when their vehicles are hit by an IED northeast of Musa Qala, Helmand Province. A government official in charge of Zabul Province’s Commision for National Reconciliation is executed. Qayyum Mujadeddi was shot dead after his vehicle was pulled over outside the provincial capital of Qalat. Mujadeddi’s driver and a guard were also kidnapped. Seven Taliban fighters are killed in Musa Qala District, Helmand Province; an eigth insurgent is killed in neighboring Zabul Province. A suicide bomber is shot and killed in Gurbaz district, Khowst Province, after approaching a police station. (READ MORE)

Jason's Iraq Vacation: pudding makes me happy - It wasn't meant to rain here. Even a light sprinkling turns everything into goop. A full rain? Not good. It's sort of like the water hits the dusty earth and the earth freaks out and throws it all back up, so you either have pools of water everywhere, or chocolate pudding-type mud. Which is weird, because the mud almost looks delicious enough to eat, like someone spent the time to whip it up into chocolatey goodness. When you’re in charge of construction projects, nothing gets done in weather like this. (READ MORE)

A Surgeon's Letters Home From Iraq: 21 JAN 2007 A reunion with the not so mundane - A friend just told me that it must be nice to be back in the routine of the mundane. He is absolutely right. There is slim chance that I will encounter either a mortar attack or an amputated limb in my daily circles. That in itself is a comfort, beyond the big comfort of being back with my family. I still find myself tracking in a few habits. I keep pulling on my boots whenever I prepare to leave the house. Nothing else seems comfortable. It is really hard to choose clothes, now that I have a choice. A few days ago, M. and I were in the HEB supermarket. (that's "Henry Edward Butt's supermarket" for you Northerners, but they also claim that the acronym stands for "Here Everything's Better. Wow, I'm calling people Northerners.) (READ MORE)

Babylon & Beyond: With a heart - A 3-year-old Iraqi girl with a life-threatening heart defect was flown by Marine helicopter to the Jordanian border Tuesday to meet U.S. officials and medical personnel who will escort her to the U.S. for surgery. Marines from the 3rd battalion, 23rd regiment, a reservist group with headquarters in New Orleans, encountered Amina Ala Thabit while patrolling in Haditha. The girl's feet and lips turn blue with the slightest exertion. (READ MORE)

Northern Disclosure: Idle Hands are the Devils Playmate - When I was a kid my Grandmother would say "Idle hands are the devils playmate". She was a deeply spiritual woman and extremely conservative. She would not approve of watching television, playing guns, cursing or any kind of profanity, kissing tag (personal favorite) with the neighbor girls. Basically she was the fun police and we used to joke that the Mounties (RCMP) inserted her into our lives to keep us honest. She would always want us to do something around the house because when left alone to our own devices we would turn to sin. (READ MORE)

LTC Richard Phillips: Stuck in the Mud - I don’t know how many paved roads there were in Afghanistan before we arrived, but there are still not many miles of paved roads even now. At this time of year, the unpaved roads in Afghanistan turn to mud, and the mud to quicksand. We were out driving near the FOB one day when we saw a coworker just off the road, so we went to see what he was doing. As we got closer, we noticed he was not moving. He was stuck in the mud. Our plan was to pull him out of the mud with our tow strap on the front of our HMMWV, until we noticed that we were also sinking, and eventually stuck, in the mud. (READ MORE)

Sergeant Grumpy: Steaming Bowl of Suck, part II - So back to my story. Remember now readers, that it has only rained all day only once during our entire deployment, and we have been out that whole night. And it is cold, really cold. Cold enough for it to snow in Baghdad and cold enough for us to have to worry about hypo-thermia - the senior NCOs will be keeping an eye on everyone tonight. I saw the lead HMMWV (Humvee) start to turn right, there was a shadow on the ground right where it was turning. In the dark of night, with shadows being cast about by the Iraqi vehicle's headlights, no way to tell if you are looking a shadow or a hole in the ground. (READ MORE)

Sgt Hook: The Times gives MRAP a bad Rap - Tim Sumner has an excellent post about the New York Times Slimes recent article dissing the Army’s new combat vehicle MRAP (mine resistant armored protected). I don’t have a lot of statistical data to throw at you, but I have talked with Sodliers driving in these colossal trucks and while they were skeptical at first, the vast majority have come to love the MRAP. Granted, they are big and sometimes cumbersome, but the trade off for saving our Soldiers’ lives. I shared an eye witness account on the effectiveness of the MRAP here. I also took a look at one just yesterday that had been hit with an IED and all of the occupants survived. (READ MORE)

This War and Me: Censorship - As you can probably tell by the lack of entries lately, I have been pretty busy lately. Even when it is not busy, I have lost the ability to write as often or as easy. My journal has been blocked by military networks. It isn't because of anything I did or said, but because they have filtered out blogging sites to conserve bandwidth. Today marks my one year anniversary; today I have now spent 12 months in Iraq. My room is empty. All except for a few odds and ends that I will drop off at the dumpster or the gazebo as we leave. (READ MORE)

Yellowhammering Afghanistan: Packing in the packages - I anticipated I would have a good bit of mail when I returned from leave. Considering what I get in a normal week, it was understandable that after being away from Camp Vulcan for around three weeks would mean the packages were piling up. Even so, what awaited me when I got back was astounding. My office was crammed with boxes and letters. There was more in the conference room of the TOC. But the majority where put into one of the large shipping containers outside because there simply wasn't enough room to leave them inside. (READ MORE)

On the Web:
Eugene Scalia: The New Labor Activism - As public companies sift through shareholder proposals in preparation for their annual meetings, a recent Labor Department action could indicate stepped-up scrutiny of one of the most activist investor groups -- labor-union pension funds. (READ MORE)

George Melloan: Hillary and Say's Law - "But this stimulus shouldn't be paid for," Hillary Clinton said to Tim Russert in a recent interview, when he reminded her that she'd omitted a price tag somewhere. Shouldn't be? Say hello to that old ghost from the past we thought banished by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. It's called "Keynesian Economics." (READ MORE)

Holman W. Jenkins: Sovereign Wimp Funds - Hillary Clinton test-marketed worry about "sovereign wealth funds" at last week's Nevada debate, but the polls didn't jump and neither did her Democratic rivals. Give her and her fellow political professionals credit for quickly moving on to the more politically remunerative issue of a droopy economy. There is wisdom here. Dollars are dollars. Unless we want to ruin our currency, we have no business limiting its usefulness to foreigners after we've traded it for oil or DVD players. (READ MORE)

Bill Wilby: The Dollar and the Market Mess - Currency debauchment is a choice. Most governments don't want to debauch their currency -- it's just that they don't want to take the actions that might prevent it, because those actions are perceived to be intolerably painful. Thus it was that last fall, the Federal Reserve, the world's central bank, decided to "let the dollar go" because staying the course on interest rates might threaten the world's financial system (or so the argument goes). (READ MORE)

Hank Adler: FairTax: Double Taxation, An Admission - H.R. 25, the legislative proposal inappropriately named the FairTax, would eliminate the Federal income tax and replace it with a national sales tax. It is axiomatic that if enacted, those individuals who have saved money during their lives would be faced with double taxation. (Under the Fairtax, someone who earned $1000 and paid income taxes of say, $250, would find his remaining $750 subject to a 30% sales tax on all retail purchases.) Generally, when commentators have pointed out the above fact, they have been met with either personal attacks or nonsensical economic gobbledegook. (READ MORE)

David Strom: Stimulating Conversations - Few economists seriously believe that an economic stimulus package (at least those being discussed in Washington and on the campaign trail) would have much positive impact on the lagging economy. There are two basic reasons for that: first, economic slowdowns are notoriously hard to predict and begin long before their effects become obvious to the political class or even economists; second, even the most timely and best tailored economic stimulus packages usually take effect too late to have any real impact on the sluggish economy, and thus usually only provide a minor bump to an already recovering economy. (READ MORE)

Austin Bay: From Kosovo War to Cold War? - The Kosovo War isn't over. At the moment, Serbian ballots take precedence over bullets; democratic electoral politics are a blessing in Serbia and Kosovo, just like they are in Iraq. But make no mistake: Sunday's first-round 2008 presidential vote in Serbia was another battle in the Kosovo War, and it will not be the last. (READ MORE)

Mike S. Adams: Alison: Your Aim Is True - A recent essay by Alison Piepmeier of the College of Charleston provides some of the best examples of the cruelty, heartlessness, and utter self-absorption embodied in the modern feminist movement. Aptly titled, “Choosing Us,” the essay shows that, for feminists, abortion is a device to prevent one thing: Feminist inconvenience. Alison begins her abortion story by informing her readers that her unwanted pregnancy began with an “ecstatic, hushed fling on the cold tiles of the bathroom floor a few weeks earlier” while her brother and his girlfriend were in the other room. (READ MORE)

Jacob Sullum: Hillary Clinton's Quest for Economic Justice - During this week's Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton said that putting together the right kind of stimulus package is "a part of economic justice." The remark reflected a major campaign theme for the New York senator, who has declared she would pursue "a new vision of economic fairness" as president. That slogan should set off alarm bells for anyone who recognizes that economic outcomes result from myriad individual choices. To impose her vision of economic fairness, Clinton would have to override those choices, compromising freedom in the name of equality. (READ MORE)

Debra J. Saunders: The Real Conservative Republican? - Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney likes to tell Republican voters that he is the true conservative because, unlike Sen. John McCain, he has not been "part of the Washington scene for a quarter of a century." Yes, McCain has been in Congress since first elected in 1982, but he never succumbed to the Beltway Culture of Spending, whereas Romney fell into Washington's big spending trap somewhere between Michigan and Florida. (READ MORE)

John Stossel: A Freer World is a Better World - This week's newspapers are full of predictions of an impending recession, and maybe they're right. But the great untold story is the good news: the worldwide boom in economic growth. "I think one of the best kept secrets is that the world is in the midst of an economic boom, and it is largely driven by increases in economic freedom," says economics professor James Gwartney, director of the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education at Florida State University. (READ MORE)

Michelle Malkin: John McCain: The Geraldo Rivera Republican - After spearheading a disastrous, security-undermining illegal alien amnesty bill last year with Teddy Kennedy, "straight-talking" GOP Sen. John McCain claims he has seen the light. In TV appearances, he vows to put immigration enforcement first. On the campaign trail, he offers a perfunctory promise to strengthen border security and emphasizes the need to restore Americans' trust in their government's ability to defend the homeland. "I got the message," he told voters in South Carolina. "We will secure the borders first." (READ MORE)

Jonah Goldberg: What 'The Daily Show' Cut Out - If you're like me, you probably watch Comedy Central's "The Daily Show." If you're like me, you probably also turn to reruns of "Scrubs" or "Seinfeld" when the newsmaker interview comes on. If that's the case, you probably missed me and Jon Stewart playing Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots last week. It started civilly enough, discussing my new book, "Liberal Fascism." But things got sufficiently testy that we spent nearly 20 minutes swearing and sparring, and only six minutes aired. The result was "choppy as hell," Stewart conceded. (READ MORE)

Mario Diaz: Constitutional Blunder - Though some may disagree, the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision has to be the greatest constitutional blunder of our time. It is the quintessential example of judicial activism, and it has to be the greatest exercise of (to use Justice White’s phrase) “raw judicial power” ever seen, resulting in the death of close to 50 million lives. You would think that a decision of such impact would be closely studied and scrutinized by us as a country. However, a recent Roe I.Q. Test created by Concerned Women for America (CWA), Focus on the Family, The Alliance Defense Fund and the Family Research Council, and taken by more than 40,000 people thus far, reveals that the American people are still ignorant as to the meaning of the decision. (READ MORE)

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.: Front-Gate - It is now a well-established tradition in Washington that any scandal, no matter how seemingly innocuous, soon is given the suffix “-gate,” establishing a lineal connection to the mother of all scandals, Watergate. Well, let me be the first to suggest that a recent scandal in the Pentagon be known hereafter as “Front-gate” in recognition of the central role played in the drama by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), an organization designated by the Justice Department as a front for the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan). (READ MORE)

DJ Drummond: Now What? - Sometimes it seems God wants to punish the United States of America. He did so in 1976, when we had to choose between the less-than-thrilling Gerald Ford and the folksy Jimmy Carter. We chose poorly. In 1988, we had to choose between Reagan's tagalong sidekick "Poppy" Bush, and Michael "Tank Guy" Dukakis. We chose the better man, but it did not always feel like it. And here we are in 2008, with an array of candidates who either demonstrate poor qualification for the job, or poor communication of just why we should trust them with the helm of the nation. Things are less than optimal, no matter who we choose, yet the stakes and consequences of our choice are high indeed. Look, Fred Thompson may not have been what we'd hope he'd be; the man certainly made some strategic errors, but at least he seemed to have a sense for what Conservatives were hoping for. (READ MORE)

Jay Tea: Islam: The Religion Of Ghouls - "Islam is a religion of peace." I've often scoffed at that notion, but now I think it's just a misunderstanding. Islam is a religion of pieces -- body pieces. Over in Lebanon, the head of Hezbollah (which, I must restate, means "Party Of Allah"), the terrorist group that dominates much of Lebanon and regularly wages war against Israel, emerged from his bunker, saw his shadow, and promised another ten years of terrorism. Whoops, my bad. No, he emerged to boast of his trophies from the last brief war with Israel. That fight, you might recall, was ended by international pressure. The UN intervened and arranged Israel to withdraw, then moved in to keep Hezbollah from re-fortifying the south and help the Lebanese government reassert control over its own territory. (READ MORE)

Meryl Yourish: The UN anti-Israel bias - The Arab League is currently trying to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution forcing Israel to reopen the Gaza Crossings. I wonder, I thought, whether the UN Security Council ever passed a resolution insisting that the terrorists in Gaza stop firing rockets into Israel. So I looked through the 2007 resolutions. Couldn’t find one. Checked in 2006. Couldn’t find one. Maybe back in 2005, after Israel left Gaza? Nope. So it seems that the United Nations is silent, always, about rockets being fired into a member state from the territories that are ministered by UNRWA. But the UNSC is going to issue a statement condemning Israel for daring to close the crossings after terrorists fired hundreds of rockets at Israeli homes, farms, and schools. (READ MORE)

Wolf Pangloss: Conservativism is the real “Reality Based Community” in America - On this day on which we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday, John Hood expresses uncommon wisdom as he explains the natural alliances of conservatives that form the Republican Party in America: "The conservative movement constitutes an alliance of those who accept unchangeable facts rather than trying to wish fantasy into reality, remake human nature, or avoid economic tradeoffs. Traditionalists embrace timeless morals, even when they deny one immediate gratification. Libertarians embrace the sovereignty of consumer demand and the sometimes-disorienting effects of technological change, even when the result isn’t to one’s personal liking. And hawks embrace the reality that America lives in a dangerous neighborhood, one full of bullies, pirates, and fanatics who respond to gestures of good will with contempt, larceny, and brutality." (READ MORE)

Ron Winter: The "Other" 300; US Vietnam War POWs - Discarded, Disregarded, Abandoned and Betrayed! Will Hillary Use Them Against McCain? - While Republican candidates running for the presidential nomination were slugging it out in South Carolina last week, news began seeping out in the national media that a group of Vietnam Veterans was campaigning against fellow Vietnam veteran Sen. John McCain! That Vietnam vets would take umbrage against McCain was surprising, but to find that they were angry with him over his handling of the POW/MIA issue from that war is outright shocking, considering McCain's status as the most famous of the Vietnam era POWs. (READ MORE)

Orin Kerr: "Catch and Release" Tactics and Virginia v. Moore - I've been thinking more about Virginia v. Moore, the Fourth Amendment case I have blogged a lot about in the last few weeks. Here's a question for those readers following the case: Am I right that under Virginia's theory of the case, federal agents could make arrests for violations of state law? Sure, the agents couldn't actually bring charges themselves: They would have to arrest the target, search him, and then let him go. But unless I'm missing something, it seems plausible to me that the state's theory would allow the federal agents to use this "catch and release" tactic. After all, the arrest would be based on probable cause to believe a crime has occurred. If probable cause is enough, then the arrest and subsequent search should be fully constitutional. (READ MORE)

Cassandra: Iraq: The Never Ending Crisis Factory - When it comes to the war in Iraq, it seems to rain every day. For the mainstream media any happenstance related to the war is immediately seized upon as a harbinger of doom; a sign, a portent, an ill omen. Take last week's splashy story in the New York Times. A bevy of Times reporters, laboring arduously in the field of preconceived notions, uncovered exactly what they expected to find. Upon reading the article, experienced readers of the Times will no doubt uncover exactly what they expected to find, too. Unsurprisingly, if journalistic ethics don't prohibit one from counting DUIs, crimes that occurred before the allegedly precipitating combat stress, cases where the defendant acted in self defense, or an egregious case of drag racing, there's absolutely nothing to prevent an intrepid reporter from making statements like these: (READ MORE)

DJ Elliott: Iraqi Force Developments and Sensationalistic Press Reporting - Recent press reporting of the status of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) development has done more to illustrate reporters’ and editors’ lack of understanding on the subject than it has to inform. Below are two case studies highlighting what the press is missing as new Iraqi Army, police forces and other security units are built. Case study # 1 A Los Angeles Times article says the following: "Buried in the latest Defence Department quarterly report on Iraq is the disclosure that the Baghdad government is now responsible for setting the size of its security forces, and that it has authorised a level of 550,000 military and police forces - an increase of more than 40 per cent over the level that the US-led coalition reported just three months ago." The LA Times is implying that this information is a surprise and somehow an indication of problems with the development of the ISF. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistani troops, Taliban clash in South Waziristan - The Taliban and the Pakistani military continue fighting in the tribal agency of South Waziristan. The latest battle occurred near the Ladha Fort. The Pakistani military said a Taliban force attacked the Ladha Fort "before dawn" but was repelled after a four-hour battle that included artillery attacks and helicopter gunships. The Taliban force took heavy casualties, the military claimed. "Through air intercepts [signals intercepts] and our sources we have confirmation now that at least 37 militants were killed when forces retaliated [against] the attack in Ladha," military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said. Seven soldiers were killed and five wounded, Abbas said. A Taliban spokesman disputed Abbas' claims of heavy Taliban casualties, and said Pakistani soldiers were captured in the assault. Maulvi Omar, a spokesman for Pakistani Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud, said Taliban forces killed 10 Pakistani soldiers and captured 13. (READ MORE)

Ed Morrissey: Has Bush Lost His Spine On Earmarks? - The Washington Examiner wonders whether George Bush fears Congress more than his constituents in a battle over pork proliferation. As I noted yesterday, the White House appears to have backed away from issuing an executive order defunding the non-legislative earmarks in the omnibus spending bill, which account for 90% of the nine thousand pork items. Porkbusters wonder why the President won't follow a course of action that follows the law and forces Congress to adhere to its own rules: (READ MORE)

Don Surber: Turning the tables - Those who support the Second Amendment turned an anti-gun stunt around. The Virginia legislature is debating the regulation of gun shows following the Virginia Tech shootings — even though, state Sen. Roscoe Reynolds, D-Henry County, said “there is no evidence that a gun show played any part in the tragedy at Tech.” Facts are to a liberal what a bicycle is to a fish. They go by emotion. And it feels so good to suspend the rights of others. (READ MORE)

Jules Crittenden: Taliban Is As Taliban Does - I thought the point of that invasion was to bring an end to this kind of thing.* Afghan journo sentenced to death for humiliating Islam. AP: "KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan court on Tuesday sentenced a 23-year-old journalism student to death for distributing a paper he printed off the Internet that three judges said violated the tenets of Islam, an official said." (READ MORE)

Dafydd: How to Lie About Lying - This one is simply befuddling: “A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks. The study concluded that the statements ‘were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses.’” Now, would any disinterested party read the above -- and not think the study authors were accusing President Bush and his administration of deliberately lying us into war? (READ MORE)

The Belmont Club: Your typical suicide bomber - Academics at West Point have analyzed captured documents which provide an in-depth glimpse into the origins and personnel management of 'foreign fighters' bound for Iraq. “The records are ‘one of the deepest reservoirs of information we've ever obtained of the network going into Iraq,’ according to a U.S. official closely familiar with intelligence on the insurgent group al-Qaeda in Iraq. ... Al-Qaeda has a track record of good documentation, he said, adding that ‘Osama bin Laden was a businessman before he was a terrorist.’” (READ MORE)

Bryan Preston: AP runs Soros-funded anti-war “study” as hard news Updated: An inconvenient video - This AP story should have been labeled a press release. That’s what it amounts to. “A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.” This late in the war, I’m not even sure why anyone would bother trotting out the “Bush LIED, people DIED” line. If you haven’t bought it by now, you’re not likely to, and if you already buy it, you already buy it. (READ MORE)

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