Thursday, April 24, 2008

BREVITAS

No matter what happens in the military there's always a euphemism for it, still the RAF set some sort of semantic record with its description of Prince William's helicopter landing in a field next to his girlfriend's house. The mission, it said, "achieved necessary training objectives."

The media is a great place to hunt for subtexts, for example this unconscious admission by the Washington Post that Iraq and Afghanistan are American colonies and will remain so for the indefinite future: "Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq and the public face of the war effort there, became President Bush's nominee yesterday to supervise U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia as head of Central Command, putting him in position to oversee American strategy in Iraq for years to come."

On the other hand, Robert Gates seemed somewhat less than ecstatic over the appointment, creating a new level of uncertainty, i.e a probable likelihood: "This arrangement probably preserves the likelihood of continued momentum and progress," Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said in announcing the nominations at the Pentagon yesterday morning.

One thing we don't understand about the Democratic election campaign. We thought conventions were held to nominate a candidate, but according to the media and political spin, it is essential to choose the candidate before the convention. If so, why both having the convention at all?

Jeb Bush said those who advocate action to limit climate change are acting out of something like religious zeal. "I don't think our policies should be based on emotion; they should be based on sound science,'' he said. Rather than reducing oil consumption, Bush said the United States should focus on "energy security'' - reducing dependence on oil imported from hostile or politically unstable countries by encouraging alternative fuels. - NW Florida Daily News

Visitors to the new, popular museum about journalism might notice that the “Ethics” exhibit doesn’t get much real estate. It clocks in at 800 square feet. The Newseum’s gift shop - all two floors of it - occupies a whopping 2,600 square feet. - DC Examiner

Surviving members of the Grateful Dead have decided to give the group's archives to a university library in Santa Cruz, Calif., which some Silicon Valley executives hope to help turn into a mecca for scholars and the band's "Deadhead" fans. The trove, to be transferred to the University of California at Santa Cruz, includes photos, artwork, press clippings, posters, letters, backstage passes, ticket stubs and other documents assembled by the band over 30 years, as well as memorabilia sent to the group by fans. It doesn't include the Dead's huge vault of live recordings - Wall Street Journal

Sales of new homes in the US fell more than expected in March to their lowest level since late-1991.

Sales fell 8.5% from February to a seasonally adjusted 526,000 homes, according to the Commerce Department. The median price of a home was down 13.3% from March 2007, which is the biggest fall since July 1970. Sales were down in all regions of the country, with the biggest falls coming in the north-east of the country, where sales declined by 19.4%. - BBC

New York psychologist Steven Reisner won over 30% of the votes in the mail balloting for nominations for the presidency of the American Psychological Association, as announced at the beginning of April. This represented more votes than any other candidate running. Dr. Reisner is a leading critic of APA's position on torture and interrogations. A number of APA members see Reisner's showing as a great victory for critics of APA's position of allowing psychologists to participate in Bush's "war on terror" interrogations. The electoral results guarantee that Dr. Reisner will be on the ballot for APA president next October. - Alternet

Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press wrote a story last week that tied Burger King to "libelous" attacks via email and online posts against the Coalition of Immokalee Workers-- a respected anti-slavery group that has helped to prosecute six federal slavery cases and has been praised by the FBI, federal prosecutors, members of Congress, and civil rights organizations. Even worse is an alleged attempt to infiltrate a key CIW ally, the Student/Farmworker Alliance, by using Diplomatic Tactical Services, "a security and investigative firm that advertises its ability to place 'operatives' in the ranks of target groups." - Nation

FREE PRESS The Senate Commerce Committee passed a "resolution of disapproval" that would veto the Federal Communications Commission's latest attempt to dismantle longstanding media ownership limits.

"Our best chance to stop Big Media has just cleared a big hurdle," said Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, which coordinates StopBigMedia.com. "The Senate's defense of quality journalism, local news and diverse and independent voices couldn't happen at a more critical time." Last December, the FCC voted to remove the longstanding "newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership" ban that prohibits one company from owning a broadcast station and the major daily newspaper in the same market. The ruling still must pass muster in the federal court that reversed the FCC's previous attempt to lift media ownership limits in 2003. But the Senate is intervening right away. The resolution of disapproval in early March, serves as a "legislative veto." If passed by Congress and signed by the president, it would nullify the FCC's new rules.

The legislation has 25 bipartisan co-sponsors including Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

A mental health crisis in Britain's secondary schools was revealed in a survey showing a quarter of young teenagers are frequently depressed. The Children's Society charity, which carried out the poll, said young people were being ground down by multiple pressures at home and school. . . The charity questioned a representative sample of 8,000 children aged 14-16, and found 27% agreed with the statement: "I often feel depressed.". . . The charity also commissioned a poll of adults, which showed 55% thought children were less happy today than when they were children. Only 9% thought today's children were happier. A third said family breakdown and conflict had the most impact on children's mental health and a quarter thought peer pressure was to blame for emotional distress. Guardian, UK

A second call girl has provided federal investigators with details of Eliot Spitzer's fondness for high-priced hookers, law-enforcement sources told The Post. . . In the complaint, "Kirsten" insisted she didn't find the ex-governor very "difficult," even though her madam warned that he might want "unsafe" sex. Law-enforcement sources said Spitzer didn't like to wear a condom. The second hooker-informant also told investigators Spitzer was fond of using sex toys to enhance his own pleasure, the sources said. "The full portrait of Mr. Spitzer's sexual interests has yet to be told," one source said. . . Sources said the second hooker also noted that Spitzer liked to keep his socks on during sex - a claim previously made by Republican political operative Roger Stone. NY Post

Sam's Club warehouse division said on Wednesday it is limiting sales of several types of rice, the latest sign that fears of a rice shortage are rippling around the world. Sam's Club, the No. 2 U.S. warehouse club operator, said it is limiting sales of Jasmine, Basmati and long grain white rice "due to recent supply and demand trends." U.S. rice futures hitting an all-time high Wednesday on worries about supply shortages.- Reuters

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