In keeping with their constant quest to saddle the USA with the fault for the growing unrest in he Middle East, the Washington Post has unleashed another article, replete with some efforts to blame-the-USA-first, titled "Across Arab World, a Widening Rift".
In the first paragraph, writer Anthony Shadid illustrates the traditionally intertwined nature of Egypt's Sunni and Shiite communities showing us how they have so easily coexisted in the recent past but quickly gets to the warnings of the danger of the Shiites "rising".
Naturally, this is the fault of the USA who has left Arabs with a sense of "powerlessness and a persistent suspicion of American intentions." The rise of unrest is also blamed on the "United States and others for inflaming it".
The AP has found a new way to attack TV's 24. They say that because of the depiction of character Jack Bauer's, shall we say, short-cuts in interrogating prisoners his ways have now infected the US Military. Absurdly, the AP is advancing the case, in "Does Jack Bauer Influence Interrogators?", that "there are indications that real-life American interrogators in Iraq are taking cues from what they see on television."
Are they indeed? Says who?
Predictably the AP reports these claims are from the "advocacy group Human Rights First".
This was one of the topics discussed at a conservative bloggers briefing that I attended this afternoon: the media are complaining that Senate Republicans are shutting off a debate on Iraq war policy by, well, voting against shutting off debate.
Now, why is Fox the only outlet reporting that the "Democratic majority failed to shut off debate" instead of the Republicans succeeded in blocking debate. I am no parliamentary expert, that's for sure, but I do know cloture ends debate. So, how do Republicans voting against ending debate get accused of ending debate?
This is amusing for it's total ridiculousness. In the AP story about upcoming Senate campaign of Al Franken, the soon to be ex-Air America ranter and supposed comedian, AP seems to have forgotten to mention he is a liberal.
And the long piece gives no hint of Franken's leanings until the last line of the report: Long AP Version
And even the long piece does not state Franken's leftist positioning as a fact, but couches it as the claim of a political science professor. And they don't even introduce the label until the very last paragraph of a ten paragraph story.
The headline conveys the obvious impression that our troops are fighting Iraqi soldiers and not terrorists/"insurgents."
Based on the story that follows, the headline is obviously false.
Bryan thought the headline at the original story had been updated, but that turns out to have been incorrect. Yours truly tipped him, and he noted, that the story is still there in all its ignominy. What's more, he noted, by reviewing Google News results, that the false headline, even if corrected now, has spread around the country and around the world. Further supporting the Pandora's Box nature of the AP's journalistic malpractice, here's a regular Google search on the headline (in quotes) showing that it still generates thousands of hits. And even though most of underlying linked stories appear to have different titles now, some (like this one) still have the original.
We all know the face of real terror. Nick Berg getting his head sawed off by a knife wielding Islamist, suicide bombers laying waste to mass transit in Israel, the World Trade Towers collapsing on the morning of 09/11/01. That is real terror.
But, to Reuters, enforcing U.S. immigration laws is terror.
Words like "fearful", "shock", "afraid" and "terrified" are sprinkled all through the article leaving the impression that something mean and violent is occurring to these poor people. One would think that we are rounding up Mexican and Central and South Americans who are in this country illegally and herding them off to torture camps or to some Holocaust redux.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly report on "mass layoffs" yesterday. It also included annual totals and an eleven-year chart of mass layoff history.
A "mass layoff action" involves "at least 50 persons from a single establishment." Since 1988, employers have been required to give 60 days notice of "covered plant closings and covered mass layoffs." The BLS Mass Layoffs report compiles those notices.
Now that 2006 is in the record books, here is that eleven-year chart:
As you can see, the total number of "layoff events" in 2006 came in at the lowest on record (BLS began compiling these statistics during the second quarter of 1995), while the number of people who filed unemployment claims as a result of those layoffs was the lowest in 10 years. On a percentage-of-workforce basis, the number of unemployment claims filers in 2006 was also, along with the layoff events, the lowest in the 11 full years BLS has reported on this information.
Proving the pro-life movement is alive and well despite abortion advocates obtaining control of Congress last November, hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates participated in the annual March for Life. The mood was optimistic and positive despite 34 years of legalized abortion since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.
Independent confirmation of the size of the crowd, plus additional chances for readers to get a perspective on the number of people present (no aerial shots, unfortunately), is at "Barbara's Public March for Life 2007 Gallery," where Barbara says:
As a former radical leftist, I attended many demonstrations in Washington, DC. Now having attended the March for Life two years in a row, I'm amazed at how under-reported the March for Life is - and all too aware of how that under-reporting contributes to the rampant stereotyping of pro-lifers as middle-aged white males. I actually saw very few of those today! What I saw were hundreds of thousands of people willing to brave the cold (DC had its first snow of the winter the night before) to affirm that a baby in the womb is not property to be destroyed, but a person that those committed to human rights must defend. It's a child, not a choice!
As has been the case for decades, those who are supposed to bring us the news couldn't and/or wouldn't accurately report what was occurring right in front of them:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics released what it calls its Usual Weekly Earnings Report for the Fourth Quarter of 2006 on Friday.
This is one of the more important reports the BLS releases because:
It looks at the earnings of full-time wage and salary workers, excluding part-timers, business owners, and the self-employed.
It looks at individuals, not households or families.
Unlike most reports, it tells us median earnings, the point at which half of workers are earning more and half earning less. Other reports covering "average" results may be distorted by the impact of high earners bringing up the reported average while a "typical" person at the median might not be making any progress.
It specifically compares nominal earnings increases at the median (i.e., before inflation) to inflation that occurred during the same time period. It therefore tells us whether the "typical" (as opposed to "average") worker has gotten ahead or has fallen behind during the period covered.
So it was very heartening to read the first paragraph from Friday's Usual Weekly Earnings report:
Median weekly earnings of the nation’s 106.9 million full-time wage and salary workers were $682 in the fourth quarter of 2006, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today. This was 3.5 percent higher than a year earlier, compared with a gain of 1.9 percent in the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) over the same period.
The AP has published a story today about the grand opening of the first McDonald's outlet with a drive-through window in China. It opened yesterday in Beijing to rave reviews from its first customers.
Apparently, the fast food chain is growing by leaps and bounds in the communist enslaved nation. McDonald's China CEO, Jeffery Schwartz is quoted in the AP piece about the company's growth in the Red Nation. "It's huge. It's a real priority for the global company because of the potential growth in China...We think drive-throughs are a big part of this."
And, when you read the AP's story everything seems upbeat and glowing about McDonald's growth and future opportunities in China." It's all good", as they say. And, it is no surprise that the AP's business writer, amusingly named Joe McDonald -- no I am serious, that IS his name-- was so aglow over the heightened business opportunities for the McDonald's chain.
In an article (HT Instapundit) decrying the alleged environmental waste in the United Arab Emirates, Associated Press writer Jim Krane gave voice to the environmental strain of Bush Derangement Syndrome when he claimed:
But the oil-rich Emirates is considered a developing country, and even as a signatory to the United Nations Kyoto protocol on global warming, is not required to cut emissions. The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.
Economists are hastily upgrading their forecasts for the US economy after a series of surprisingly strong reports suggesting the so-called "soft landing" may be over and growth is accelerating.
Over the past week, surprises have come in stronger-than-expected reports on US job creation, the trade balance and retail sales -- all key contributors to economic activity.
Lehman Brothers chief US economist Ethan Harris on Friday boosted his forecast for fourth quarter 2006 growth to an annualized rate of 3.3 percent, a leap from the firm's prior call for just 2.0 percent growth.
"After slowing in November, the economy seems to have regained its stride," Harris said.
..... The latest data defy predictions that the slump in real estate would filter into other areas of the economy, notably consumer spending.
The latest data showed US employers added a healthy 167,000 new jobs in December (196,000 with revisions to prior months -- Ed.), with unemployment holding at a low 4.5 percent. Average wages were up 4.2 percent annually.
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)
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:
UPI is wagging its finger at U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez via a group of "Arab leaders" who are warning the government "to fight anti-Arab bigotry." The whole UPI "report" is nothing but the warnings of these so-called leaders about how filled with bigotry the USA is and how the government must fight it.
With all this hooplah, one would imagine that Arabs are being attacked, mistreated and discriminated against all across the country at an alarming rate. Arab "leader" James Zogby even makes the claim that the government must "reverse this disturbing and increasingly accepted trend of anti-Arab and Muslim bias".
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.
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.
The story of James Kim, who died of hypothermia in a remote part of Oregon after setting out on foot to seek help for his stranded family, was a sad capper to the year 2006 for many. A lot of things went wrong for the Kims as they started out for a holiday trip only to have it end in disaster.
Spencer H. Kim, James Kim's Father, has today a plea appearing in the Washington Post titled The Lessons In My Son's Death. It is a message to Oregon's emergency services community to help stop another tragedy such as befell his son from happening to anyone else.
Today's announcement there were 167,000 net new jobs in December (196,000 counting revisions to prior months), and that the unemployment rate held steady at 4.5%, made me wonder how job growth during the Bush prosperity compares to job growth during comparable periods in the 1990s.
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."
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.
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.
..... 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:
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":