Monday, February 28, 2011

The CIA guy in Pakistan

The NYT public editor on Sunday came to the defense of the paper for not reporting, at the request of the US, that the guy in Pakistan who shot two people (Raymond Davis) was in fact CIA. Glenn Greenwald, among others, previously laid out the case against the Times, Post, and AP for having concealed his CIA job.

One part of the problem with those American outlets withholding the information was that in the meantime, they printed some very, very misleading stuff. Are they going to go back and now append a note to each of those articles? No. So what are we left with? We were misled. Not good.

The other option, disclosing Davis's identity, may indeed have upped the risk of him being hurt or killed in detention. It's hard for the public to know, perhaps hard for the papers to know, and hard to know if they should trust the US. With Wikileaks, the Administration had asked the Times not to publish, but had presented an unimpressive case. Sort of hurts the US's credibility for next time.

The bigger picture problem has nothing to do with the media angle that's gotten all this attention in the last week. The problem is that the State Department and the White House -- including the president himself -- have claimed Davis was a "diplomat" when he was in fact CIA. That potentially puts real US diplomats at further risk.

Next time, the US really isn't going to be believed, even if it's telling the truth.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Costco announces big changes on seafood sustainability; victory for Greenpeace campaign

Big victory today. Costco will stop selling 12 species of fish that are in danger unless there's a MSC-certified option. Details from Greenpeace here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

How Apple treats its workers

It's great that this issue has gotten so much press of late (and that some sectors of the tech press have really gotten into it in a positive way). I have no concept of how particularly bad these Apple factories are, and whether they're actually worse than your average factory in China, or if they're mostly just about that bad.

Anyhow, David Barboza has a piece in today's NYT actually going to this one factory and talking to the workers and digging into the issue of this toxic chemical used in iPhones. Props to him for doing this work.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Those NJ environmentalist House Republicans

Interesting point from Politico this morning, looking at which House members voted for an amendment in the continuing resolution strengthening the CR's language blocking regulation of greenhouses gases (sorry, sorry -- I'll try to return to English in my next post.) Turns out, sure enough, four of the GOP members who had courageously voted in favor of the Waxman-Markey climate bill in 2009 in fact voted a few days ago to go symbolically hard-core blocking EPA from taking action on climate change. From Politico:
In the end, Henry Waxman and co. weren’t able to dodge a CR vote on language blocking EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. While Democrats kept their language-stripping amendments holstered, the Texas Trio of Ted Poe, Joe Barton and John Carter forced a vote on an amendment to marginally strengthen the existing EPA-blocking provision in the seven-month spending bill. The final vote broke down largely along party lines, 249-177, with 13 Ds and a pair of Rs breaking with their parties.


Reichert was the only Republican to vote for Waxman-Markey and against Poe. Four of the other seven Republicans who backed the cap-and-trade bill voted for Poe: New Jersey’s Leonard Lance, Frank LoBiondo and Chris Smith, and California’s Mary Bono Mack. The remaining three GOP ‘Ayes’ on cap and trade are no longer in the House. (Castle, Kirk and McHugh)
And of course the vote on the whole CR itself, Saturday morning, which includes blocking EPA action on greenhouse gases, was a party-line affair.

If they really wanted to vote for the whole thing, they could have at least first voted against Poe. But they didn't.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Groovy video from Madison

Three days of footage (Feb 15-17) from the Madison, WI protest against the SB11 budget repair bill.

Update: video #2!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Washington Post Plays Catch-Up on College Dining Halls Without Trays

So the front page of the Metro section in today's Washington Post has a piece reporting on "Food trays on the skids at college cafeterias."

Some colleges are getting rid of the trays, for various reasons: so people don't take more food than they eat, so people don't eat more than they otherwise would, so students don't steal the trays and then the shcool has to buy new ones, and so they don't have to wash the dishes (an environmental win, if small). But doesn't this all sound a bit familiar?

Yes. That's because this article was on the front page of the New York Times on April 29, 2009. Almost two years ago.

Sure, the Post adds some recent and local examples. But it's not particularly breaking much new ground.

As the saying goes, that's not news, that's olds.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In which I approvingly link to Dana Milbank

I thought it might never happen!

But this piece is really good. He writes about how if we indeed cut the budget to federal agencies by the amounts proposed by the House GOP, this would kill hundreds of thousands of jobs. (Hopefully the Dems will be tough.. but that's a whole different post.)

I know, it's pretty basic stuff, but you don't hear much of it right now.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What counts as a fact, what counts as in debate, and what's outside

David Roberts at Grist had a good post last week on what the traditional media treats as fact, what's considered within debate ("he said, he said"), and what's considered outside the realm of possibility. We have these categories, but how they're used doesn't actually correspond with what we know about reality.

Many things stay in one category for a long time, rightly or wrongly; others have moved across categories (climate change, for example, has always been an interesting case to watch). The right, Roberts notes, is terribly good at pushing things across the categories in the way it wants.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Colombia trade deal

The Administration has announced that it will be pushing the Colombia free trade agreement. USA Today notes that "In Colombia, labor leaders have been subjected to violence." Sometimes that's known by the other name, what we call "murder."

Greg Grandin was ahead of the curve on this and last week at The Nation he previewed it, and why it's so terrible.

Back in 2008 there was a Senator who said:
And I'll also oppose the Colombia Free Trade Agreement if President Bush insists on sending it to Congress because the violence against unions in Colombia would make a mockery of the very labor protections that we have insisted be included in these kinds of agreements.
The junior senator from Illinois, that was. He continued:
So you can trust me when I say that whatever trade deals we negotiate when I'm President will be good for American workers, and that they'll have strong labor and environmental protections that we'll enforce.
That doesn't actually appear to be in the cards.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Today's edition of "Yes, this is an actual Washington Post headline"

Ooh this is so clever, surely it will bring in young readers to get new print subscriptions and keep the business alive!

Friday, February 04, 2011

NYT struggles to accept advantages of leaderlessness in Egyptian movement

As usual, many US media are having serious trouble grasping the concept -- and advantages of -- a movement or entity that is relatively non-hierarchical, leaderless.

Today the NYT has "Some Fear a Street Movement’s Leaderless Status May Become a Liability" (that's the online headline). The article rightly points out some of the advantages of being a leaderless movement, but still manages to turn it into a story about about how this is a liability.

Certainly there are disadvantages to being leaderless, relevant in this case as many. But seems to me the overarching reality of the last two weeks is about the advantages.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Politico is covering 2012, like, super intensely, or something

Politico is covering the 2012 GOP field super intensely, the NYT noted in a Sunday front-pager. Ok, but really?

On Tuesday, Mike Huckabee said Palestinians should move to somewhere other than, you know, Palestine. AP was up with the news at 9:57am, and Josh Marshall highlighted it at 1:14pm. What about Politico? They only got around to understanding and reporting the basic significance with a short mention this morning. So like a day behind.

Maybe they were too busy BREAKING THE NEWS that Huckabee went duck hunting. No, really.

Having lots of reporters covering the campaign is all well and good, but, only so much good if they can't see the news under their noses.