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March 27, 2005 - Short Notes on What Else is Up

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The Terri Schiavo story sucked the air out of the room this last week, so to speak.  But other things happened.




Remember the business with the Italian journalist we wounded at a checkpoint on the airport road in Baghdad, and her dead bodyguard?  The Italians were upset.  We promised am investigation that seems to never have started.  But we’re being careful and methodical, right?  This last week two Italian policemen were reportedly blocked by the U.S. military from examining the car in which Italian secret service agent Nicola Calipari was shot to death as he accompanied journalist Giuliana Sgrena to the Baghdad airport.  Sigh.  They’re impatient.


As of the end of the week the president’s approval rating dropped to 45.0%, the lowest yet  - and according to a USAT/CNN/Gallup poll 59.0% see economy "getting worse."   One fellow in USA Today wonders if this is connected to the Schiavo business.  Maybe.  Maybe folks are just getting an idea of all that’s going on.


The Washington Post reports that the House leaders have agreed to vote on easing restriction on stem cell research, but the Bush folks are trying to stop that cold.

The Washington Post also reports that Native Americans are pretty offended by the president’s lack of response to Red Lake school shooting: "The fact that Bush preempted his vacation to say something about Ms. Schiavo and here you have 10 native people gunned down and he can't take time to speak is very telling."  Press secretary Scott McClellan did say: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were killed."  The American Indian Movement’s Clyde Bellecourt said that "the so-called Great White Father in Washington hasn't said or done a thing."  Note too that Bush's 2006 budget calls for cutting one hundred million dollarsfrom Indian programs.  Sigh.


Oh, and Army recruitment is way down but we have no plans to end the ban on gay folks there.


And this?


When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a rule last week to limit mercury emissions from U.S. power plants, officials emphasized that the controls could not be more aggressive because the cost to industry already far exceeded the public health payoff.


What they did not reveal is that a Harvard University study paid for by the EPA, co-authored by an EPA scientist and peer-reviewed by two other EPA scientists had reached the opposite conclusion.


That analysis estimated health benefits 100 times as great as the EPA did, but top agency officials ordered the finding stripped from public documents, said a staff member who helped develop the rule.


Oh, what’s to say?  Sigh.  Take out the facts.  What does it matter?



And this from the Associated Press?


LOS ANGELES Mar 24, 2005 — Some IMAX theaters at science centers have declined to show "Volcanoes of the Deep Sea" but is it because of debates about evolution, or is it just a so-so movie? Filmmakers behind "Volcanoes" said executives at some Southern IMAX theaters told them they worried the movie might rile conservative Christians partly because of its references to the way life may have evolved.


"A number of theaters said, `We're not taking the film literally for fear of the reaction of the audience," said Richard Lutz, a Rutgers University oceanographer who was chief scientist for "Volcanoes."


Stephen Low, the film's producer-director, said 10 to 15 huge-screen IMAX theaters decided against showing "Volcanoes." While that is a seemingly small number, it represents about 20 percent of the potential market among IMAX cinemas that cater to scientific documentaries, he said. ….


Well, the Christian right is feeling its oats.


Agence France Presse (AFP) is suing Google for seventeen and a half million dollars for aggregating and extracting headlines and excerpts from AFP stories on its Google News service.  Google claims its use of AFP material is protected by fair use laws; AFP denies it.  And Paul McLeary over at the Columbia Journalism Review thinks perhaps if AFP wins this one websites like mine that quote from AFP might be in trouble.  Oh, probably not.


Of note also - Tom Engelhardt, in a long article discusses how the "lethal cocktail" of "imperial impunity and national goodness" narrows the boundaries of discussion in the mainstream media about the U.S. "mission."  The problem?


… a deep-seated American sense of national "exceptionalism," a sense of American goodness that can't be matched elsewhere on the planet. This is something most of us grew up with, that lies deep in our nation's history, in that sense of being in a New World, and well rid of an evil European old world. Though this is a deeply honorable (if also in many ways deeply flawed) strain of American thinking -- it's where much of the idea of American "promise" comes from -- it is also a state of mind that the Bush administration has played upon with consummate skill.


The combination of imperial impunity and national goodness of a kind not possessed by other lands has, in fact, proved something of a lethal cocktail. It lifts us into a "category of one" mentality in a way that seems to explain why we can possess weaponry and do things that, in others, would horrify us, and it absolves us of thinking about how others might look on us and our acts in the world.


Yeah, well, we’re special.


Of note, and perhaps related, in Der Spiegel there’s a review of a new book on Hitler.


A well-respected German historian has a radical new theory to explain a nagging question: Why did average Germans so heartily support the Nazis and Third Reich? Hitler, says Goetz Aly, was a "feel good dictator," a leader who not only made Germans feel important, but also made sure they were well cared-for by the state.

To do so, he gave them huge tax breaks and introduced social benefits that even today anchor the society. He also ensured that even in the last days of the war not a single German went hungry. Despite near-constant warfare, never once during his 12 years in power did Hitler raise taxes for working class people. He also -- in great contrast to World War I -- particularly pampered soldiers and their families, offering them more than double the salaries and benefits that American and British families received. As such, most Germans saw Nazism as a "warm-hearted" protector, says Aly, author of the new book "Hitler's People's State: Robbery, Racial War and National Socialism" and currently a guest lecturer at the University of Frankfurt. They were only too happy to overlook the Third Reich's unsavory, murderous side.


No comment is necessary.   The emphases are mine.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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