Associated Press reporter Martin Crutsinger reported this morning that retail sales in December came in better than expected:
Retail sales rose in December at the strongest pace in five months, indicating that the all-important holiday shopping season turned out better than original reports indicated.
The Commerce Department said Friday that retail sales increased 0.9 percent last month, the strongest showing since a 1.4 percent increase in July.
The increase was better than the 0.7 percent advance that economists had forecast and provided evidence that consumer spending was ending the year on a firmer footing than initially thought.
The government report presented a firmer tone to spending than initial reports from the nation's big chain retail stores. They complained that holiday sales had fallen below expectations as mild winter weather depressed sales of winter clothing.
Crutsinger then downplayed the year's strong retail results, and used it as an opportunity to get in a few licks about how supposedly tough the economy of 2006 was:
For all of 2006, retail sales rose by 6 percent, a solid showing but down from a 6.9 percent increase in 2005.
That slowdown reflected the fact that consumer spending, after a sizzling start to the year, slowed in the spring and remained at lower levels for the rest of the year as Americans were battered by soaring gasoline prices, rising interest rates and a cooling housing market.
Mr. Crutsinger portrayal of the full-year result as a "slowdown," which formed the linchpin of the rest of that sentence's negativity, overlooked one "minor" detail: Reported retail sales figures include inflation.
Is it not outrageous that Senator Barbara Boxer (Dem, Cal) verbally attacked Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for not having children as Rice appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday to discuss the Administrations position on Bush's Iraq military "surge" plans? Is this an acceptable criticism of a political official? Is the fact that an official might not have children reason to doubt their capacity for policy making or ability to advise an administration?
Is this the Democrat's new era of niceness, their less rancorous way of governing?
I was shocked to see this intemperate verbal assault by Boxer in the New York Post, but I became curious to see how other MSM sources treated the outrageous comments of the unbalanced Boxer. So, I did a little search of the reactions of the press.
(Full excerpts of the sections in each story that detailed Boxer's outrageous behavior follows)
Despite the media's fawning over Jimmy Carter and the publication of his new book as reported by NewsBusters here, here, here, and here, the former president has suffered even further embarrassment as another fourteen members of The Carter Center have resigned. As reported by the Associated Press (hat tip to Drudge, emphasis mine throughout):
Fourteen members of an advisory board to Jimmy Carter's human rights organization resigned on Thursday to protest his new book, which criticizes Israeli policy in the Palestinian territories.
The resignations from The Carter Center board are the latest backlash against the former president's book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," which has drawn fire from Jewish groups, been attacked by fellow Democrats and led to the resignation last month of Kenneth Stein, a center fellow and a longtime Carter adviser.
And so a major Associated Press claim in "Jamilgate" takes an apparently fatal hit.
According to Bill Costlow of CPATT (Civilian Police Assistance Training Team) in Baghdad, and as forwarded by Lt. Michael Dean of Multinational Corps-Iraq/Joint Operations Command Public Affairs, our now infamous police captain in Iraq appears to be definitively not Jamil Hussein.
Nor is his name Jamil Gholaiem Hussein as statedrepeatedly by the Associated Press Executive Editor Kathleen Carroll and other Associated Press employees.
Nor is his name Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim, as he has been called previously in other accounts. According to his personnel records at MOI, confirmed with BG Abdul-Kareem and then reportedly verified by BG Abdul-Karim Khalaf with AP's Baghdad sources, his name is actually Jamil Gulaim "XX".
The "XX" protects his second middle name and real last names, of which "Hussein" is not a part.
An unbylined report on unemployment claims by the Associated Press is a classic of the genre (bold is mine):
The Labor Department reported Thursday that applications for jobless claims dropped by 26,000 to 299,000 last week on a seasonally adjusted basis. It marked the first time jobless claims have fallen below 300,000 since the week of July 22.
The improvement was much better than the decline of 9,000 that analysts had been expecting and provided further evidence that the slowing U.S. economy has not begun to seriously affect the labor market outside of specific industries such as housing and auto manufacturing.
SLOWING? Did AP ever consider that maybe claims are dropping because the economy may NOT be slowing?
It's not like there is a lack of evidence of continued and probably accelerating growth:
The Associated Press crowed on Jan. 4 that their controversial source "Jamil Hussein" did indeed exist, as it announced:
Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, who had previously denied there was any such police employee as Capt. Jamil Hussein, said in an interview that Hussein is an officer assigned to the Khadra police station, as had been reported by The Associated Press.
I've been in touch with Bill Costlow (the CPATT (Civilian Police Assistance Training Team) representative) since he has been back in-country and I have a few interesting developments on this story.
Despite the AP's claim that a Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf had confirmed Hussein's existance:
Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf never acknowledged that there was a Capt. Jamil Hussein assigned to the Khadra station, he confirmed to the AP that there was a Capt. Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim assigned there. Apparently he is the source for the AP even though he still, to this day (according to Bill Costlow), denies being the source.
In case you haven't seen it, over on The Corner, Jonah Goldberg shared correspondence on the AP's Jamil Hussein problem from Michael Schrage, a former reporter for the Washington Post and columnist for the Los Angeles Times unleashing on the "mainstream" media:
Subject: You are, indeed, missing something -
I wrote this piece for the washington post a year ago. It speaks for itself...but the jamail hussein saga is a classic example of unprofessional, plame-like hypocrisy by the AP...
They named their source - many, many times - and it was challenged...there was a myriad of ways they could have handled the query: they could have called in a favor and gotten one of the AP-member newspapers in iraq to 'interview' the guy to vouch; they could have done a podcast with the guy; if the bloggers still insisted the guy was a fraud, then AP itself would be literally accused of not just perpetrating a hoax but perpetuating one...
In her story today on the resumption of the debate on embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) in the House, Laurie Kellman of the Associated Press reports the following as fact:
Polls show Americans overwhelmingly support federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. And scientists aren't sure that stem cells shed by a fetus and extracted from the surrounding fluid carry the same possibility for treatments and cures of diseases as those culled from embryos.
The facts are that:
At least one poll involved asked a misleading question to get a still-not-"overwhelming" result that does not support the characterization of "overwhelming support" she employs.
The poll's sample was skewed to Democrats and strong Democrats.
The "possibility for treatments" for stem cells obtained from amniotic fluid may have MORE disease-eliminating possibilities than those obtained from ESCR will ever have.
I'd never quite appreciated how amusing the Leftist swarm could be until last night and this morning, where an Associated Press report
that Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Abdul-Karim Khalaf had
finally, at long last confirmed the existence of Captain Jamil Hussein
hit the wires, and liberals around the country (and around the world)
conflated Hussein's ability to exist with the veracity of his claims.
The illogical leap this took—to purposefully decide that someone's
state of existing is an immediate and overwhelming vindication that
everything he claimed was true—is massive in its undertaking, and truly
staggering to behold. Rarely have so many been willing to overlook so
much in the simple hope of being able to say—or in many cases shriek—"I
told you so!"
But the simple fact of the matter is that simply existing does not grant validity to the stories that several someone’s purport to have occurred.
The accuser in the Duke Lacrosse rape case assuredly exists, but it
is her multiple stories and the lack of evidence that throws her
accounts of what happened on the night of March 13, 2006 into question.
She has presented multiple accusations, and multiple versions of her
accusations, and yet, nearly the overwhelming majority of people
following the case to any degree feel she probably falsified the events
she reported. The feel this way because her story kept changing, and
while there should have been copious evidence to support her claims, none has thus far been found.
And so it is with the on-going Associated Press scandal that started
with the claim of one Iraqi Police Captain by the name of Jamil Hussein
on November 24, 2006.
INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana's law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls is not too burdensome, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said Thursday in a 2-1 ruling that upholds the 2005 law.
..... The 7th U.S. Circuit Court questioned arguments that Indiana's rule is unfair to poor, elderly, minority and disabled voters, and pointed out that opponents could not find anyone unable to cast a ballot under the new law.
..... Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita, who pushed for the voter ID law, said the ruling was a victory for election reform.
"The seventh circuit affirmed what we have seen from four successful elections in Indiana under the photo ID law - this is a common-sense way to protect honest voters and to improve voter confidence," he said.
Judge Terence T. Evans dissented with the majority opinion, which affirms an earlier decision of U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker. Evans said there was no evidence of voter fraud in Indiana that could be avoided with the photo ID law.
"Let's not beat around the bush," Evans wrote. "The Indiana voter photo ID law is a not-too-thinly-veiled attempt to discourage election-day turnout by certain folks believed to skew Democratic."
The AP isn't the only one going ga-ga over the ascension of Nancy Pelosi to become the "first Female Speaker of the House". We are seeing the fawning on just about every news outlet out there. And it is, indeed, quite an historic change from the long line of gentlemen that have taken the Speaker's gavel.
A groundbreaking study of 1,946 male veterans of World War II and Korea suggests that vets with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder are at greater risk of heart attacks as they age.
The conclusion: war is bad for your health.
Wow. Wonder how much taxpayer money was wasted on THAT study!?
At least our veteran's aren't so stupid that they wouldn't have been able to know it all upfront, without a "study".
"It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out," said John Oliveira of New Bedford, Mass., a former Navy public affairs officer and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Now, I certainly don't want to make light of the problems of coping that our veterans confront upon returning from war. Robert E. Lee once said that it is good that war is so horrible or we'd get too fond of it and he knew whereof he spoke.
People are vastly different and, whereas some may never experience much discomfort or anguish from their war service, others are bothered with the mental images for the rest of their lives. And we, as a society, should be observant and responsive to the needs of our returning heroes even as they advance into old age.
As last reported on NewsBusters, the AP has been under fire for a November '06 report that 6 Iraqi Sunnis were burned alive in sectarian violence a claim that was never adequately proven and is hotly disputed by both Iraqi Government and US Military officials. And, as many Bloggers investigated (such as Michelle Malkin and Patrick Frey of Patterico's Pontifications among many more), the identity of the AP's lone source seemed impossible to establish.
At last it seems some light has been shed on the existence of this capt. Hussein as we get the story from Michelle Malkin's site. Michelle has been the chief bulldog in efforts to reveal the AP's mysterious source.
In apparent pursuit of their status as the chief news source for Islam in the west, the AP published a puff piece about how wonderful it is for young Americans to participate in the Muslim practice of the Hajj -- a required pilgrimage to Mecca.
Here is how wonderful and instructive it is...
The 20-year-old American tells his hajj pilgrimage stories ... and saw a man drop dead while circling the Kaaba.
Well, how "inspiring" it is to see a man drop dead at a religious function. Is that the sort of thing that should be praised as a civilized expression of religion?
"Dude, I saw it, the guy had the most peaceful smile on his face," (said) Adil Muschelewicz ... Muschelewicz didn't know the cause of the man's death -- exhaustion maybe, he said -- but it became one of the many powerful religious moments that have shaken him during the trip.
"I looked at his face and I looked at the Kaaba, and it was like he was happy, he'd gotten close to God. It just went boom, like this deep bass line in my heart," he said. "It was so emotional. I was by myself, in this wild place I'd never been before."
On December 5 of last year, I wrote a blog post entitled 60 Billion Minutes, where I wrote:
We also know that Jamil Hussein has consistently been a source for at least 60 news stories over two years, and that Jamil Hussein is just one of many apparently fake sources that has driven Associated Press reporting in Iraq.
This presents us with the unsettling possibility that the Associated Press has no idea how much of the news it has reported out of Iraq since the 2003 invasion is in fact real, and how much they reported was propaganda. The failure of accountability here is potentially of epic proportions.
In the weeks since that date, the Associated Press has maintained that the stories they originally reported on November 24-25 of burning mosques and burning men is true, even though almost every single factual claim made in the account has been disputed. The AP maintains this position today, even after the Iraqi Interior Ministry Officially stated that the AP's source, Captain Jamil Hussein, simply didn't exist, and that no one by that name ever worked at the two police stations where AP said he did.
The Associated Press released an interesting set of statistics (host link stored for future ref) a couple of days ago that I would suppose were designed to suck away any optimism any fools who still support the mission in Iraq might have (bolds are mine):
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Government officials on Monday reported that 16,273 Iraqi civilians, soldiers and police died violent deaths in 2006, a figure larger than an independent Associated Press count for the year by more than 2,500.
The tabulation by the Iraqi ministries of Health, Defense and Interior, showed that 14,298 civilians, 1,348 police and 627 soldiers were killed in the violence that raged in the country last year.
The Associated Press accounting, gleaned from daily news reports from Baghdad, arrived at a total of 13,738 deaths.
Pretty grim, isn't it? And this is for "violence that raged in the (whole) country."
Man, what a downer. I mean, this is an honest-to-goodness Grade A bona fide quagmire.
Oops -- I started digging into US murder statistics, and what I found made me less depressed about Iraq, and more concerned about the US.
As reported here on Newsbusters the Associated Press is refusing to back down from, nor give satisfactory evidence for, its November report that 6 Iraqi Sunnis were burned alive in sectarian violence, a claim heavily disputed seemingly by everyone but the AP.
The AP based their reports of this grisly violence on the word of a single "witness" they named as Iraqi police captain, Jamail Hussein. Unfortunately for the AP, and despite quite a lot of effort by quite a few people, this captain of Iraqi police cannot be located so that the story can be substantiated. The AP, however, continues to claim that he exists despite the paucity of evidence.
If an Iraqi police captain by the name of Jamil Hussein exists, there is no convincing evidence of it - and that means the Associated Press has a journalistic scandal on its hands that will fester until the AP deals with it properly.
This controversy and the AP's handling of it call into question the credibility, integrity, and smarts of one of the world's biggest, most influential, most respected news organizations, the New York-based Associated Press.
When does a protest that includes a total of approximately 45 people spread over 3 US cities merit national media coverage? When the protest is anti-American and pro-terrorist. That was the case of the “emergency” protests sponsored by Ramsey Clark’s International Action Center decrying the execution of Saddam Hussein. According to the AP, the protests were “small rallies” with “a few dozen activists” in Times Square, 15 “anti-war demonstrators” in Detroit and “five protesters” in Boston. Given the media’s penchant for inflating the attendance at any anti-American event, the number 45 is probably too generous.
Just deserts were dished out to one Saddam Hussein last night. Few deserved it more than he.
There is no reason for me to recount his many crimes against humanity here, but it is a good thing he has paid for his evil -- and paid with his life.
That is all that needs to be said about that...
But, in reading the AP's story by Abdul-Zahra, something else comes to the fore that is vexing to anyone looking for truth in the media. Of course, truth is always in short supply from our friends at al-AP, but with Abdul-Zahra's report we see a constant misuse of the English language.
While he wielded a heavy hand to maintain control, Saddam also sought to win public support with a personality cult that pervaded Iraqi society. Thousands of portraits, posters, statues and murals were erected in his honor all over Iraq. His face could be seen on the sides of office buildings, schools, airports and shops and on Iraq’s currency.
What was the point of closing out an otherwise well written article with the above statement? Does the reporter actually believe that the Iraqi people made the decision to put Saddam's mug on the currency or that they erected statues out of something other than fear?
The last paragraph of their Wednesday editorial (my bold) makes the point that the wire service, its defenders, and those who want to see the whole to-do as being about "just one incident," won't see, or won't admit to seeing:
What is clear about all this is that nothing is clear. Maybe there's a Jamil Hussein with the Iraqi police, but he's a sergeant, not a captain. Maybe there's a police captain whose first name is spelled Jamail, not Jamil. Both possibilities have been floated in the blogosphere, but neither has withstood scrutiny.
Editor & Publisher summed it up best when it reported that Jamil Hussein had been lost, then "found," then lost again. Amazing.
Last summer, Reuters, the media outlet that refuses to label terrorists as terrorists, was jolted by the "fauxtography" scandal. Adnan Hajj, a freelance Lebanese photographer, allegedly doctored images of the Israel-Hezbollah war and photographed what appeared to many to be staged scenes of victim rescue and recovery efforts in Qana, a Lebanese village where Israel attacked Hezbollah terrorists. Both were clearly an effort to further inflame a world that had already cast Israel as the villain.
Just as we asked in August if Reuters was "a patsy or collaborator," we wonder the same about the AP. We also wonder if we can trust any AP report from the Middle East. If it can't show us Capt. Jamil Hussein, we're not sure it has anything else we want to see.
This goes to the credibility, and ultimately the business viability, of the entire AP operation.
As the AP reports (Strip-Searched Muslim Woman Gets Apology), the Dept. of Homeland Security sent an apology letter to a Muslim woman who was strip searched on April 11th, 2006. Naturally, the AP uses the report as an excuse to bash the US government.
The Department of Homeland Security has sent a letter apologizing to a Muslim woman who was detained at the Tampa airport and strip-searched at a county jail.
Safana Jawad, 45, a Spanish citizen who was born in Iraq, was detained on April 11 because of a suspected tie to a suspicious person, authorities said. She was held for two days before being deported to England.
A December 26 AP story tried to make people feel bad for Ford auto workers stuck between staying with the struggling company and possibly losing their jobs in the future, or choosing up to a six-figure buyout. Workers like this man:
Scott Swiercz, chose to stay at a job he knows he could lose rather than take any of eight buyout options, one of which is a $100,000 lump sum. Swiercz said it feels “100 percent” like a gamble, wrote AP business writer Ellen Simon.
This isn’t exactly Vegas. Most Americans would love to have a chance to get twice the median household income for working at a place for about 11 years.
..... On Saturday, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, increasing international pressure on the government to prove that it is not trying to make nuclear weapons.
..... Iran insists its nuclear program is intended to produce energy, but the U.S. and European nations suspect its ultimate goal is the production of weapons.
That's "funny." Here's an AP story from December 11 by Alicia Chang, AP Science writer, about potential global cooling that might occur as the result of a nuclear war that says:
Possible candidates for "Captain Jamil Hussein": Jamil Gholaiem Hussein, Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim, Jamil Ghdaab Ghulaim, or indeed Jamil Hussein, but not as a police captain, but instead as a Sergeant.
A little bit of "Hussein" here, a shade of "Gulaim" there... When you are
never obligated to prove your claims, why not throw in a little
"Gholaiem" as well?
It should be clear from all of this that AP writers are merely story painters, with palettes as large as the earth itself. A painting can be made, or a "trend" created, out of stringing together facts from any set of random people in the world. If you wanted to write a story claiming the 1920s-era flapper style is now all the rage, a shade of "teenager Sarah Wilson likes flapper clothes" here, a touch of "fashion watchers are observing..." there, and you've made a whole new painting out of shoddy-at-best sources, ones you'll likely never have to verify. In the process, you've just proven the existence of the biggest thing to hit the fashion world since blue jeans.
Michelle Malkin has the latest on efforts to identify the mysterious "Captain Jamil Hussein," the "source" the AP claimed as an authority figure for a number of reports out of Iraq, including the apocryphal November story that claimed "Shiite militiamen grabbed six Sunnis as they left Friday worship services, doused them with kerosene and burned them alive."
As Malkin reports, the AP itself isn't being very cooperative in trying to follow up on new leads.
Yesterday, I contacted the AP about the "Jamil Hussein"/Jamil Ghdaab Gulaim/Ghulaim findings and asked these simple questions:
Yet Another Poser (Mostly) Gets Through the Media 'Filter'
Yesterday, in his story about Rosemarie Jackowski, the "new folk hero" of the antiwar movement, John Curran of the Associated Press quoted a gentlemen who was arrested with Jackowski in a 2003 protest incident in Vermont:
She's not a loony toon by any means," said Andrew Schoerke, 73, a retired U.S. Navy captain who was arrested with her. "She's a very down to earth, sensible, caring person with some very strong convictions."
But what about her "character witness," Mr. Schoerke?
I did a Google Main search on his name in quotes last night. At the time, the very first item (it has moved down since) was A May 19 column by Mr. Schoerke, "Stop Bush's Next War", which he believes to be Iran, and where he is described as follows -- "Andrew Schoerke, United States Naval Reserve Captain (ret.), lives in Shaftsbury, VT and is a member of vermontpeacetrain." At the very least, he's not just another "unlikely peace activist," as Jackowski is described in the headline.
Vermont Peace Train of Bennington is "a 'grassroots' organization formed by residents of Southwest Vermont in order to promote and practicethe non-violent resolution of conflicts." That's career peace activist-speak.
So that made me wonder if Schoerke has been arrested on other occasions. Googling "ex-Navy officer arrested" (not entered in quotes) -- Surprise, surprise (not), at the very first item, this guy's in the "big leagues":
Curt at Flopping Aces notes that the Associated Press has quietly changed the copy of their November 28 response to questions about the "burning six" story. And the Google cached version apparently has been changed, as well.
The AP angrily rejected criticism of its story about six Sunni men being dragged from prayer and burned alive after CENTCOM, the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, and bloggers questioned the identity of "police captain Jamil Hussein," their chief source for the story. CENTCOM and the MOI say that no such person is listed as a police captain. Hussein had previously been quoted by the AP in more than sixty stories over the past two years.