Tuesday Reads: Rachel and Trayvon, Reid Going Nuclear, Spy Stories, and Much More

Dog_getting_the_newspaper

Good Morning!!

I’m not sure if it’s the heat or the depressing news, but I’m having a hard time getting going this morning.

We’re into our third heat wave of the summer, and I’m actually getting acclimated to 90 degree weather; but I suppose it still has an effect on my body and mind.

I’m also somewhat depressed about the Zimmerman verdict and by the often ignorant reactions I see on-line and on TV.

Rachel and Trayvon

One bright spot in the coverage for me was Rachel Jeantel’s interview with Piers Morgan last night. She was real and authentic, and Morgan pretty much stayed out of the way and let her talk. I think she made a real impression on him and the reaction from the live audience was very positive too. It was refreshing. IMO, it says a lot about Travon Martin’s character that he had a friend like Rachel. I’m going to post the whole interview here in case you missed it or you want to watch it again.

From Mediaite:

Asked about what Trayvon Martin was like as a friend, Jeantel described him as a “calm, chill, loving person” and said she never saw him get “aggressive” or “lose his temper.” She said that the defense’s attempts to portray Martin as a “thug” were unfounded and defended his relatively mild drug use. “Weed don’t make him go crazy,” she said, “it just makes him go hungry.”

Jeantel also responded to the massive mockery she received in social media for the way she speaks, explaining that she was born with an under-bite that has made it difficult for her to speak clearly. When Morgan asked if she’d been bullied for her condition, she simply responded, “Look at me,” to laughter from the studio audience.

Morgan attempted to get Jeantel to offer her opinion of defense attorney Don West, who many claimed was condescending towards her when she was on the stand. Jeantel shook her head, declining to say anything bad about the man given her “Christian” upbringing.

In the second part of his interview with Jeantel, Morgan turned to the “creepy-ass cracker” comment she made and the major impact it had on the tenor of the case. She explained that the term is actually spelled “cracka” and defined it as “people who are acting like they’re police.” She said that if Zimmerman had calmly approached Martin and introduced himself, her friend would have politely said what he was doing there and nothing more would have happened.

Unlike the juror, Jeantel did think Zimmerman was racially motivated. “It was racial,” she said. “Let’s be honest, racial. If Trayvon was white and he had a hoodie on, would that happen?”

I’d also like to recommend this piece by Robin D.G. Kelley at Counterpunch:  The US v. Trayvon Martin.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Senator Rand Paul, Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley (also sponsor of his state’s Stand Your Ground law), along with a host of other Republicans, argued that had the teachers and administrators been armed, those twenty little kids whose lives Adam Lanza stole would be alive today.   Of course, they were parroting the National Rifle Association’s talking points.  The NRA and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative lobbying group responsible for drafting and pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws across the country, insist that an armed citizenry is the only effective defense against imminent threats, assailants, and predators.

But when George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, teenage pedestrian returning home one rainy February evening from a neighborhood convenience store, the NRA went mute.  Neither NRA officials nor the pro-gun wing of the Republican Party argued that had Trayvon Martin been armed, he would be alive today.  The basic facts are indisputable: Martin was on his way home when Zimmerman began to follow him—first in his SUV, and then on foot.  Zimmerman told the police he had been following this “suspicious-looking” young man.  Martin knew he was being followed and told his friend, Rachel Jeantel, that the man might be some kind of sexual predator.  At some point, Martin and Zimmerman confronted each other, a fight ensued, and in the struggle Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

Zimmerman pursued Martin.  This is a fact.  Martin could have run, I suppose, but every black man knows that unless you’re on a field, a track, or a basketball court, running is suspicious and could get you a bullet in the back.  The other option was to ask this stranger what he was doing, but confrontations can also be dangerous—especially without witnesses and without a weapon besides a cell phone and his fists.  Florida law did not require Martin to retreat, though it is not clear if he had tried to retreat.  He did know he was in imminent danger.

Why didn’t Trayvon have a right to stand his ground? Why didn’t his fear for his safety matter? We need to answer these questions as a society.  Please read the whole article if you can.
Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Koch, Rep. King and the Democratic Divide

Good Morning!

Feeling a bit anxious today, I don’t know but something tells me this hormone patch isn’t working out so well. I think the hot flashes are way more bearable. So if I am a bit touchy you know why…

That said, let’s get on with the show!

First, I want to update you on Syria, yes…the killings are still going on. The newest fear is that Lebanon will become part of the battlefield. Syrian kidnapping of Lebanese pilgrims raises fears conflict will cross border

Syrian rebels kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shias and their Syrian driver in northern Syria on Tuesday, adding to fears that Lebanon is being drawn into the chaos next door, Syria’s state-run Sana news agency reported last night.

The victims were on their way home from a religious pilgrimage in Iran when rebels intercepted their vehicles in Syria’s Aleppo province. Women travelling in the group were released.

As the news of the kidnappings spread, residents of the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Shiite area, took to the streets and burned tyres and blocked roads in protest. The leader of Hezbollah, a strong ally of the Syrian regime, appealed for calm and warned his followers against revenge attacks targeting Syrians.

Then, there is this:  Syria massacre survivor tells of killing of army defectors at Jebel al-Zawiya

Mohammed Rahman Sohail

Mohammed Rahman Sohail, an officer in the Free Syrian Army, says he believes he is the sole survivor of the Jebel al-Zawiya massacre in which 83 men were killed.
With all the election crap going on, a lot of the world news is being pushed aside, and it is only the middle of May…what will September be like!
Sticking with some world news, there is also escalating violence in Yemen:
Dozens Killed by Bomb in Yemen, Raising Al Qaeda Fears –  There is a disturbing image at this link of body parts and blood strewn across the pavement.
A huge suicide bombing in the heart of Yemen’s capital Monday left more than 100 people dead and hundreds wounded, stunning the country’s beleaguered government and delivering a stark setback to the American counterterrorism campaign against Al Qaeda’s regional franchise, which has repeatedly tried to plant bombs on United States-bound jetliners.
[…]
The militant group, which goes by the name Ansar al Shariah, said in a Facebook post that the attack was aimed at Yemen’s defense minister and was intended to retaliate for the government campaign against Al Qaeda’s southern sanctuaries that began this month. The militants appear to be holding out and inflicting heavy losses on Yemen’s weak and divided army, despite a stepped-up United States campaign of drone strikes and military assistance.
Yemen on brink of food crisis, say aid groups–  This is a new warning and it comes a day before the Friends of Yemen group meets in Saudi Arabia.

Instability in Yemen has left the country facing a hunger catastrophe, with nearly half of people without enough food, aid groups have warned.

In a joint warning, a group of seven charities said 10 million Yemenis – 44% of the population – are undernourished, with 5 million requiring emergency aid.

Yemen has been shaken by pro-democracy protests, communal unrest in the north, and an Islamist conflict in the south.

I am going to move over to the US now, I have several links on the political front. We have had previous posts on all this stuff, lots of them…Boston Boomer has kept up to date on all of Romney’s faults…and Dakinikat has done the same with the economy and finance side of things.
Members Of New GOP Women’s Caucus Voted Against Equality For Women–  What is wrong with these women, I can surely bet that “special place in hell” will be packed to the rafters.
The 24 Republican Congresswomen in the U.S. House announcedyesterday that they have joined to form the Women’s Policy Committee, a caucus aimed at “raising the profile of GOP women in their roles as lawmakers, highlighting their diverse achievements and providing a unique, unified voice on a wide range of critically important issues.”But a ThinkProgress review of their voting records shows that the two dozen women have been fairly consistent in their legislative opposition to women’s rights:

  • Violence Against Women: Of the 24 women, 22 voted to rollback the Violence Against Women Act, backing a version of the bill that could violate the confidentiality of victims and that excluded protections for immigrants, LGBT people, and Native Americans.
  • Access to contraception: 21 of the 24 co-sponsored the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” to take away regulations enacted under Obamacare requiring most employers to cover birth control in their health insurance plans, without additional cost-sharing.
  • Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act: Of the 15 Republican Congresswomen who were in the House at the time, all 15 voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, a law that helps women hold accountable employers who discriminate in the pay practices based on gender.
  • Paycheck Fairness Act Act: 13 of those 15 also voted against the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update the 1963 Equal Pay Act by closing many of its loopholes and strengthening incentives to prevent pay discrimination.
  • Reproductive health: According to Planned Parenthood, 20 of the 24 GOP women earned a zero score, voting against reproductive health at every opportunity. The average score for the women was under 6 percent.
But women, don’t feel like you are the only ones getting beaten down in the Republican Game. Of course, immigrants are part of the festivities too. Rep. Steve King: Immigrants are like dogs

Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, compared immigrants to dogs at a town hall meeting yesterday, telling constituents that the U.S. should pick only the best immigrants the way one chooses the “pick of the litter.”

King told the crowd in Pocahontas, Iowa, that he’s owned lots of bird dogs over the years and advised, “You want a good bird dog? You want one that’s going to be aggressive? Pick the one that’s the friskiest … not the one that’s over there sleeping in the corner.”

King suggested lazy immigrants should be avoided as well. “You get the pick of the litter and you got yourself a pretty good bird dog. Well, we’ve got the pick of every donor civilization on the planet,” King said. “We’ve got the vigor from the planet to come to America.” The liberal research group American Bridge captured the comments:

Video at the link. It makes me wonder… If Women=Livestock and Immigrants=Dogs, than what do Filthy Rich White GOP Men equal?

Charles and David Koch, the billionaire owners of of Koch Industries, are known as big spenders when it comes to lobbying and influencing public policy. Now, a new document filed with the IRS reveals how the Koch political machine funneled over $54.5 million in previously undisclosed funds to a litany of front groups designed to smear Democrats.

The disclosure suggests that a very wide variety of Republican groups active in the last major election, from pro-life organizations that ran ads on abortion to shadowy fronts that aired partisan commercials with the infamous Ground Zero Mosque conspiracy, have been highly dependent on Koch money. The document also reveals that the Koch’s political network spent much more on electing the current Congress than previously known.

Please read the entire article, this next paragraph should come as no surprise to you…
Sean Noble, a Republican consultant, was hired to help administer the Koch war chest. According to Politico, Noble was part of a group of GOP operatives who met regularly with Karl Rove’s superPAC to target 120 House of Representatives races in 2010. The close coordination was pivotal in helping the Republican Party capture 63 seats in one of the biggest midterm election landslides in modern history.
Which brings me to a series of articles on the Democrats, the press and the members of the post-election politician club.
Think of the next three links like a sandwich…the first and third links are like the rye bread with those seeds that get stuck in-between your teeth and annoy the hell out of you… and the second link is the pastrami, you know it is bad for your health, but you eat it anyway because well…you’ve been eating it on rye your whole entire life, what else are you gonna do?
Oh, and BTW, if you missed Dr. Dakinikat’s post yesterday, go read it now…think of it as the appetizer, before that pastrami on rye.
Okay, for that top slice of bread, you know…the one that keeps sliding off when you put the sandwich down to take a bite of the pickle spear on the side. The Emerging Democratic Divide –

Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker’s off-message criticism of the Obama campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s background at Bain Capital gave the campaign an untimely, unwanted headache this week. But more significantly, it exposed a tension that’s developing between the Democratic Party’s centrist wing and its more-outspoken liberal base—one that threatens to fester more openly if President Obama fails to win a second term.

Conversations with liberal activists and labor officials reveal an unmistakable hostility toward the pro-business, free-trade, free-market philosophy that was in vogue during the second half of the Clinton administration. Former White House Chief of Staff William Daley, who tried to steer the Obama administration in a more centrist direction, is the subject of particular derision. Discussion of entitlement reforms, at the heart of the GOP governing agenda, is a nonstarter. The fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats are now nearly extinct on Capitol Hill.

“Centrist Direction,” I’ve said many times before that Obama has always seemed like right of center to me. I am so sick of the “centrist” label.  In fact some of these Democrats sound more like Republicans from several decades back.
“There are not a lot of moderates left in the Democratic Party, and Cory is one of the few of them left,” said former Democratic Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, an early Obama ally who has become increasingly estranged from the party. “I would like to think Cory speaks for a lot of voters in the Democratic Party, but sadly he doesn’t speak for a lot of Democratic operatives within the party. This isn’t Bill Clinton’s Democratic Party anymore.”
[…]

But Booker’s comments reflect an uncomfortable ideological divide within the elite elements of the Democratic coalition. As I wrote last month, wealthy voters made up a pivotal part of Obama’s winning coalition in 2008—not to mention contributing a good chunk of his campaign cash that cycle. But as Obama’s rhetoric has turned populist to capitalize on Romney’s biographical vulnerabilities, he has alienated some of those voters. Booker isn’t the only high-profile Democrat with Wall Street connections raising questions about the Obama campaign’s populist appeals. It follows similar criticisms from Obama auto adviser Steven Rattner, former Rep. Harold Ford Jr. of Tennessee, and JPMorgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon, a past Obama donor and supporter. Meanwhile, Wall Street money has dried up, playing a role in the president’s less-than-imposing fundraising totals for the year.

Over the past generation, losing Democratic presidential campaigns have sparked soul-searching within the party. After Walter Mondale’s landslide defeat in 1984, centrist Democrats formed institutions, like the Democratic Leadership Council, to counter the influence of the old, liberal guard. The DLC later provided the governing fuel for Clinton’s presidency. A decade later, when John Kerry lost to George W. Bush, it sparked the rise of the liberal netroots, which played a key role in the Democratic takeover of Congress two years later. The party’s activist base currently is firmly in charge, but that could change quickly if things turn south.

With Obama at the helm of the party and broadly popular among Democratic voters, there’s little incentive for Democratic critics to openly take on a sitting president. The harsh reaction to Booker’s mild apostasy on Meet the Press, and his subsequent walk-backs, was proof positive of that. But if Obama loses to Romney after embracing a message advocated by the party’s liberal wing, don’t be surprised if the knives come out in force after the election.

Where’s the Beef? That salted cured beef?  Bill Clinton’s $80 Million Payday, or Why Politicians Don’t Care That Much About Reelection « naked capitalism

“There was a kind of inflection point during the five-year period between 1997 and 2003 — the late Clinton and/or early Bush administration — when all the rules just went away. You went from a period, a regime, where people did have at least some concern about going to jail, to a point where everything is legal, and derivatives couldn’t be regulated at all and nobody went to jail for anything. And looking back I would say that this period definitely started under Clinton. You absolutely cannot blame this on George W. Bush.” – Charles Ferguson of Inside Job

“I never had any money until I got out of the White House, you know, but I’ve done reasonably well since then.” Bill Clinton

On December 21, 2000, as President, Bill Clinton signed a bill known as the Commodities Futures Modernization Act. This law ensured that derivatives could not be regulated, setting the stage for the financial crisis.  Just two months later, on February 5, 2001, Clinton received  $125,000 from Morgan Stanley, in the form of a payment for a speech Clinton gave for the company in New York City.  A few weeks later, Credit Suisse also hired Clinton for a speech, at a $125,000 speaking fee, also in New York.  It turns out, Bill Clinton could make a lot of money, for not very much work.

I look forward to the comments about this article…

Today, Clinton is worth something on the order of $80 million (probably much more, but we don’t really know), and these speeches have become a lucrative and consistent revenue stream for his family. Clinton spends his time offering policy advice, writing books, stumping for political candidates, and running a global foundation.  He’s now a vegan. He makes money from books. But the speaking fee money stream keeps coming in, year after year, in larger and larger amounts.

Most activists and political operatives are under a delusion about American politics, which goes as follows.  Politicians will do *anything* to get reelected, and they will pander, beg, borrow, lie, cheat and steal, just to stay in office.  It’s all about their job.

This is 100% wrong.  The dirty secret of American politics is that, for most politicians, getting elected is just not that important.  What matters is post-election employment.  It’s all about staying in the elite political class, which means being respected in a dense network of corporate-funded think tanks, high-powered law firms, banks, defense contractors, prestigious universities, and corporations.  If you run a campaign based on populist themes, that’s a threat to your post-election employment prospects.  This is why rising Democratic star and Newark Mayor Corey Booker reacted so strongly against criticism of private equity – he’s looking out for a potential client after his political career is over, or perhaps, during interludes between offices.

Read the rest and let’s discuss it below…
And here is that slice of rye, the one on the bottom, that always tends to be on the soggy side.  DISSENTING JUSTICE: IN DEFENSE OF CORY BOOKER: Why Think Progress Is Unfair and Unbalanced
Liberal blogs have fallen in line to excoriate Newark Mayor Cory Booker for describing President Obama’s campaign attacks against Bain and Company as “nauseating.” Although Booker has tried to walk back his commentary, he still faces a lot of criticism, especially since rightwingers have used his comments as a weapon against the president’s campaign strategy.
For several reasons, I strongly support Cory Booker, and I condemn progressives who criticize him for his remarks. And as I explain below, I am especially troubled by a Think Progress article that seeks to raise questions about Booker by exposing campaign donations he received from Bain executives and other financial industry employees. Here is why I support Booker and disagree with Think Progress.
And that is all the world news and political stuff I have for you this morning.
This last link is just a cool bit of health news:  Skin cells turned into healthy heart muscle cells

Scientist say they have managed to turn patients’ own skin cells into healthy heart muscle in the lab.

Ultimately they hope this stem cell therapy could be used to treat heart failure patients.

As the transplanted cells are from the individual patient this could avoid the problem of tissue rejection, they told the European Heart Journal.

So what are you all reading about today?


The Changing Face of the MENA Region (Breaking News)

The WSJ reports that Yemeni President Saleh is working out a deal that will let him resign. The country’s leading general will also resign. The details will be released on Saturday.

“Both sides have agreed on the main points of departure, and Saturday is expected to be the day that Saleh and General Ahmar both step down,” according to a senior official familiar with the negotiations.

It couldn’t be determined which individuals were being considered as candidates for any transitional authority as talks continued late Thursday between the two leaders.

The support for mainstream opposition party leaders is unclear across the rugged and largely conservative country. Meanwhile, traditional tribal leaders who have great social standing would face problems exerting authority over rival tribes.

The Pentagon is currently holding a presser and has announced that they’re no longer ‘detecting’ Libyan planes in the air. NATO and the UN are expected to make an announcement shortly that NATO will be taking over the No-fly efforts. I just read some interesting analysis at Juan Cole’s Informed Consent on the Top Ten Accomplishments of the UN’s no-fly zone efforts. Cole says the French have also verified that Gadhafi’s air attacks have stopped and that his planes are grounded.  There is also this tidbit.

The participation of the Muslim world in the United Nations no-fly zone over Libya has been underlined. The measure was called for by the Arab League, which has not in fact changed its mind about its desirability. Qatar is expected to be flying missions over Libya by this weekend. Other Arab League countries will give logistical support.

It is significant that the Arab League is supporting this action.  The GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)–an organization that is an essential part of my research on trade–is also trying to curb problems in Bahrain. This is significant because it shows that region is actively trying to create situations to jointly improve the conditions in the region.

Meanwhile, the people of Syria may be closer to the goals of their mostly peaceful protests. Syria is one of the most repressed countries in the region and has been under martial law for 50 years.  Clashes between protesters and the government have increased recently.

President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public pledge to look into granting Syrians greater freedom on Thursday as anger mounted following attacks by security forces on protesters that left at least 37 dead.

Syrian opposition figures said the promises did not meet the aspirations of the people and were similar to those repeated at regular Baath Party conferences, where committees would be formed to study reforms that do not see the light of day.

“The leadership is trying to absorb the rage of the streets. We want to see reform on the ground,” said a protester in the southern city of Deraa.

A hospital official said at least 37 people had been killed in the southern city of Deraa on Wednesday when security forces opened fire on demonstrators inspired by uprisings across the Arab world that have shaken authoritarian leaders.

While an aide said Assad would study a possible end to 48 years of emergency rule, a human rights group said a leading pro-democracy activist, Mazen Darwish, had been arrested.

It’s exciting to watch the move to democracy and modernity in a region known for strongmen dictators, kings, and harsh political oppression.  This will be an interesting situation to watch. I only hope that the people get what they are hoping for and that modernity and better treatment of women are part of the equation.  Some of the states–like Qatar and the UAE–are further along in this pursuit than others.  Yemen and Syria are perhaps the most dangerous parts of the equation.  The Shia-Sunni dynamic is present and that always makes for a delicate situation.

Also, SOS Hillary Clinton will be making a statement shortly.  We will try to keep you updated and give you interesting links as these new developments unfold.


Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

A couple of days ago President Obama actually did something I could cheer about. He awarded the Medal of Freedom to former Boston Celtics great Bill Russell. Of course he also awarded them to George H.W. Bush and Warren Buffett, but I’ll try to overlook that for now.

Obama suggested that Boston should have a statue of Russell, and according to the Boston Herald:

The unveiling of a Bill Russell statue in Boston appears to be just a matter of time.

According to Celtics [team stats] co-owner Steve Pagliuca, the organization has already begun the process of getting the statue created and placed. And it didn’t hurt Tuesday when President Barack Obama, while awarding Russell the Medal of Freedom, mentioned that such a monument should be erected for future generations.

That would be okay, but I agree with what I heard NPR sports commentator Bill Littlefield recommend yesterday: every school library should have copies of Russell’s books and biographies of him written by others.

Russell played for the Celtics in the days when racism was rampant in Boston.

NBA greats Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain

As a highly visible public figure in the years when the country was emerging from a century of legally sanctioned discrimination, Russell threw his prestige behind the emergent Civil Rights Movement, participating with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the historic 1963 March on Washington. Russell’s years of living in Boston were not easy ones. At the height of the Celtics’ success there were many empty seats in the Boston Garden, while less successful teams in other cities played to full arenas. When Russell bought a fine home for his family in a historically white neighborhood, he received threats and insults. On one occasion, vandals broke into his home and splattered the walls with filth and graffiti. Unbowed, Russell focused his energies on his game, and enjoyed excellent relations with his teammates and other NBA players.

Once when a hotel in the South denied accommodations to black players, Russell protested by refusing to play in the game that night, drawing media attention to the injustice. He never let the disrespect he often received prevent him from giving his heart and soul to Celtics basketball, leading the team to 11 NBA championships. If only President Obama would take leadership lessons from Bill Russell!

For a long time Russell remained bitter about Boston, but in the past 20 years or so he has become a presence here again, a greatly admired and beloved part of Boston sports and social history. Never mind that the Medal of Freedom has been given to so many who don’t deserve it. This time it went to someone truly worthy.

In other news…

The White House is still leaking information to The New York Times in an effort to make it look like President Obama has been in full control during the ongoing crises in the Middle East.

President Obama ordered his advisers last August to produce a secret report on unrest in the Arab world, which concluded that without sweeping political changes, countries from Bahrain to Yemen were ripe for popular revolt, administration officials said Wednesday.

Mr. Obama’s order, known as a Presidential Study Directive, identified likely flashpoints, most notably Egypt, and solicited proposals for how the administration could push for political change in countries with autocratic rulers who are also valuable allies of the United States, these officials said.

The 18-page classified report, they said, grapples with a problem that has bedeviled the White House’s approach toward Egypt and other countries in recent days: how to balance American strategic interests and the desire to avert broader instability against the democratic demands of the protesters.

Administration officials did not say how the report related to intelligence analysis of the Middle East, which the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Leon E. Panetta, acknowledged in testimony before Congress, needed to better identify “triggers” for uprisings in countries like Egypt.

Hmmm…I wonder why Obama looked so flatfooted and off-balance when the Egyptian protests began then? Why did he fail to make any definite stands? Why did he make so many vague and conflicting statements? Why is he now trying to blame all of this on the State Department? Do you suppose maybe he didn’t read the report?

Whatever. It’s too late. The rest of the world knows he’s incompetent even if a lot of Americans don’t.

The Obama administration offered to support a UN rebuke of Israel:

The U.S. informed Arab governments Tuesday that it will support a U.N. Security Council statement reaffirming that the 15-nation body “does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity,” a move aimed at avoiding the prospect of having to veto a stronger Palestinian resolution calling the settlements illegal.

But the Palestinians rejected the American offer following a meeting late Wednesday of Arab representatives and said it is planning to press for a vote on its resolution on Friday, according to officials familar with the issue. The decision to reject the American offer raised the prospect that the Obama adminstration will cast its first ever veto in the U.N. Security Council.

Still, the U.S. offer signaled a renewed willingness to seek a way out of the current impasse, even if it requires breaking with Israel and joining others in the council in sending a strong message to its key ally to stop its construction of new settlements. The Palestinian delegation, along with Lebanon, the Security Council’s only Arab member state, have asked the council’s president this evening to schedule a meeting for Friday. But it remained unclear whether the Palestinian move today to reject the U.S. offer is simply a negotiating tactic aimed at extracting a better deal from Washington.

Gordonskene at C&L has a great post up about one of my favorite journalists of all time: Eric Severeid:

Before the days of spin, agendas and punditry, there was that somewhat extinct class of journalists known as “commentators” – and even though they were journalists first, their commentaries were secondary; separate and classified as such. They were usually imbued with a sense of professional objectivity we would find somewhat strange by todays standards with Entertainers masquerading as Journalists and Journalists masquerading as Entertainers.

One such commentator was Eric Sevareid. In the mold of Edward R. Murrow (in fact, often referred to as one of “Murrow’s Boys” during World War 2), Sevareid along with radio journalists Charles Collingwood, Robert Trout and many others from CBS and the other networks routinely offered commentaries on the days news, separate from their regular reporting.

Yes, those were the days…there may have been plenty of propaganda, but there was some actual journalism going on too.

You may have heard (despite the U.S. media blackout) that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Pervez Musharraf, former President of Pakistan for the murder of Benazir Bhutto. Ron Brynaert at Bradblog has an analysis of the U.S. media reaction. A sample:

“A Pakistani court issued an arrest warrant for ousted military leader Pervez Musharraf on Saturday over allegations he played a role in the 2007 assassination of an ex-prime minister and rival,” the Associated Press reported over the weekend, although no major US newspaper seems to have followed up. “It was a major setback for the onetime U.S. ally, who was plotting a political comeback from outside the country.”

[….]

After the opening paragraph, the next four paragraphs of AP’s report are devoted to defenses of Musharraf, accusations against the present Pakistan government, and doubts that the warrant will amount to much. An independent United Nations report which blasted the Musharraf government’s security arrangements as “fatally insufficient” isn’t mentioned until near the end, and reports that the Musharraf government lied and manipulated evidence about the ultimate cause of Bhutto’s death are completely ignored.

“Musharraf, who has not been charged, described accusations that he had a hand in the attack on ex-Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as a smear campaign by a government led by her aggrieved husband,” the second paragraph states, even though the former coup leader is never directly quoted once in the article.

Al Jazeera has the latest on events in the Middle East:

Clashes rock Bahraini capital

The Bahrain capital of Manama was rocked by sporadic clashes, hours after riot police attacked a makeshift encampment of pro-reform protesters in the centre of the city, killing at least three and injuring dozens of others.

An Al Jazeera correspondent, who cannot be named for security reasons, said on Thursday morning that “clashes were no longer limited to one place…they are now spread out in different parts of the city”.

Another Al Jazeera online producer said that booms could be heard from different parts of the city, suggesting that “tear-gas is being used to disperse the protesters in several neighbourhoods”.

Latest reports, however, indicated that a tense calm had descended on the capital with troops patroling the streets.

There were also reports of dozens of armoured vehicles moving towards the Pearl Roundabout, the protest site that was raided by the riot police.

‘Day of rage’ kicks off in Libya: Protesters have reportedly taken to the streets in four cities despite a crackdown, heeding to calls for mass protests.

Protesters in Libya have defied a security crackdown and taken to the streets in four cities for a “day of rage,” inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, reports say.

Several hundred supporters of Muammar Gaddafi, the country’s longtime leader, have also reportedly gathered in the capital on Thursday to counter online calls for anti-government protests.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said that Libyan authorities had detained 14 activists, writers and protesters who had been preparing the anti-government protests.

Libya has been tightly controlled for over 40 years by Gaddafi, who is now Africa’s longest-serving leader.

According to reports on Twitter, the microblogging site, Libya’s regime had been sending text messages to people warning them that live bullets will be fired if they join today’s protests.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


CSM: “Inspired by Tunisia, Egypt’s protests appear unprecedented”

Egyptians protest in central Cairo today. Photograph: Khaled El Fiqi/EPA (Click image for live updates from the Guardian)

Good afternoon everyone. I wanted to put up a quick thread of the headlines and developments coming out of Egypt so we have a place for us to discuss and keep adding more links as they become available. It’s a true shame that Obama’s upcoming SOTU is driving so much of the news coverage today, not to mention a convenient distraction since “power to the people of the Middle East” doesn’t exactly fit the Western media’s narrative. Take a look at what is going on–it is simply incredible.

Guardian: “Protests in Egypt and unrest in Middle East – live updates”

CSM: “Inspired by Tunisia, Egypt’s protests appear unprecedented

NYT: “Broad Protests Across Egypt Focus Fury on Mubarak

BBC: “Egypt protests: Clashes in Cairo on ‘day of revolt’

BBC: “Anger of protesters in Cairo ‘surprised police‘”

BBC: “Egypt protests: Three reported dead in ‘day of revolt’

Twitter

Looks like censors are hard at work trying to stop the twitter revolution:

WaPo: “Twitter blocked in Egypt as protests turn violent (Video)

Heredict.org is tracking the reports of twitter outage in Egypt today (H/T Minkoff Minx who found the heredict.org link via the AFP’s report on the twitter blockage)

Live Tweets

Nonetheless, the revolution continues to be tweeted. Check out Blogs of War for live tweets (H/T Taylor Marsh)

Another good place to check for updates: Ahram online

via the WaPo link above — “Live updates: Opposition groups protest on Police DayAhram Online will be posting updates about planned protests by opposition activists in Cairo and elsewhere

Also, some links on Lebanon’s Day of Rage…

Guardian: “Lebanon protesters clash with army over new Hezbollah-backed PMSupporters of previous prime minister, Saad Hariri, clash with troops and burn tyres as Najib Miqati assumes office

Guardian: “Lebanon’s ‘day of rage’ – in pictures

NYT: “Amid Protests, Ex-Lebanon Leader Assails New Premier

And, on Tunisia…

LA Times: “Key diplomat says U.S. approves of Tunisia revoltJeffrey D. Feltman, assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs, says Washington has offered Tunisia ‘whatever support is appropriate and requested’ in conducting a nationwide election.

Update –Video on Cairo protests posted on youtube by Al Jazeera English a couple hours ago:

Update 2 — see the twitter/live tweet section above. I added some links.

Update 3 — Amazing Photo (Egypt, Jan 25) circulating on twitter: