Friday, October 30, 2009


There are two TV networks that raise my ire. One is CNBC with its stable of conservative Republicans adamantly opposed to anything Obama and the Democrats do. And the second is PBS, specifically The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, about which I want to talk in this post.

PBS offers The NewsHour as if it is fulfilling its obligation to present world and national news on weekday evenings. But as far as news content, The NewsHour is a canard. Compare it with BBC World News or with France 24 or even with RT News from Russia. It is then that the shallowness of The News Hour becomes transparent. Why? Because The NewsHour presents not more than five minutes hard news, the rest being low-cost interviews with "newsmakers" or "experts" from PBS studios in D.C.

Then consider the cast of characters on The NewsHour. Judy Woodruff, no doubt a nice person, is hopeless as an interviewer. CNN certainly lost nothing when she left. She'll agree with anything a guest says. Has she any opinion on anything? Is she prepared to challenge some of the outrageous things her interviewees say or claim? I argue she is not.

Then consider Margaret Warner. She asks good questions, but seems not to listen to the answers. A guest can say anything, Margaret Warner will simply go on to the next question.

How about Jim Lehrer? Like the other two, he is hopeless. Besides he comes across as a hay seed.

I submit: PBS should get rid of The NewsHour and start all over again. Look at the offerings of news on Al Jazeera, Euronews, France 24 or RT. PBS has a lot to learn, especially when it comes to representing solid national and international news.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Hamid Karzai, Bush's embattled "man in Kabul," refuses to fire any of his appointed cronies staffing the Afghan "Independent Election Commission," even though his rival for the presidency, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah has called for the sacking of the commission's president.

Jon Boone reports today for the on Abdullah's demands.

"Hamid Karzai's challenger in next month's presidential election run-off has demanded that the head of Afghanistan's election commission be sacked before the end of the month as one of a number of "conditions" for participating in the vote.

"Abdullah Abdullah refused to say what would happen if his demands were not met by 31 October, but insisted that the chairman of the so-called Independent Election Commission (IEC), Azizullah Ludin, must step down from an organisation Abdullah accused of "bias, incompetence and widespread corruption"."

Karzai however is dismissive of Abdullah's claims that the election commission is really in the pocket of Karzai and his cronies. Even though many observers agree with Abdullah that it will be difficult if not impossible to achieve a fair election with the Independent Election Commission still in place, Karzai probably will not budge.

Reports Boone:

"Karzai immediately rejected Abdullah's demands. "Ministers and officials which Abdullah wants sacked or replaced have not done anything illegal, that is why we cannot sack or replace them," the president said in a statement. "In this short period of time, we cannot make these changes – this will not be for the benefit of the country and will harm the country.""

Sunday, October 25, 2009


The unrelenting violence in Iraq and Baghdad depresses beyond words. We can only stand by helplessly and watch a descent into irrational killing.

But the two car bombs detonated today in Baghdad point out once again the unjustified and immoral war of George W. Bush in 2003. Yes, people like Bush and Tony Blair still insist that what they did was for the benefit of Iraqis, but if you had a family member killed in today's bloody bombings, I don't think that you would agree that Bush's hands (and those of Blair) are or were clean of blood.

France 24 has video and description of the two bombings today.

"At least 132 people have been killed and more than 600 wounded when two powerful car bombs targeting the justice ministry and the nearby governor's office went off in central Baghdad on Sunday."

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Nicholas Watt reports in the The Guardian that the British National Party, with its anti-immigration and anti-foreigner platform, will receive a big boost from having its leader, Nick Griffin, as a guest on BBC Question Time.

"The British National party will receive a pre-general election boost in the opinion polls, ministers fear, after more than 8 million people watched the far-right leader Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time on Thursday evening."

Nicholas Watt reports on Griffin's subsequent statements:

"In contrast with his emollient remarks to minority ethnic members of the Question Time audience, the BNP leader stridently condemned the decision to record the show in London.

""That audience was taken from a city that is no longer British," he said. "That was not my country any more.

""Why not come down and do it in Thurrock, do it in Stoke, do it in Burnley? Do it somewhere where there are still significant numbers of English and British people and they haven't been ethnically cleansed from their own country.""

Obviously, Griffin is accusing immigrants, especially those from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, of engaging in "ethnic cleansing." As if people of whatever race or ethnicity had no right to enter and live in Britain and be considered "British."

Griffin reminds me of Lou Dobbs of CNN here in the US who rants and rails against Latino immigrants. Underneath all the bluster and complaint, I get the idea that Dobbs' animus towards Latinos is really a prejudice against those of darker complexion than he or who speak a a native language other than English.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Nicolas Sarkozy's 23-year old son, Jean Sarkozy, is being nominated to head Epad, an organization which supervises France's top business district, La Defence. This is an outrageous and insulting use of crass political influence to obtain a lucrative job for the son of the president of France.

Reports the BBC:

"Amid calls of nepotism, more than 40,000 people signed an online petition calling for Mr Sarkozy Jnr to pull-out."

If Jean Sarkozy did not have the Sarkozy name, would he even be considered for an internship at Epad? As it is, the Epad job will reward beyond the expectations of most 23-year olds.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Even a high-ranking associate of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is criticizing Abbas' decision to withdraw support for letting the UN General Assembly consider the Goldstone Report on Israel's conduct during the three-week war last January against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Rory McCarthy reports in the

"A senior Palestinian official admitted today it was a "mistake" to drop support for a UN human rights council resolution that called for investigations into Israel's conduct in the Gaza war.

"Frustration and anger has been mounting against Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, for his surprise decision not to endorse a highly critical UN inquiry into the January war. The inquiry, by the South African judge Richard Goldstone, accused Israel and Hamas of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity."

South African Judge Goldstone has a reputation for fairness and lack of bias. His report put most of the onus on the IDF for its indiscriminate shelling and shooting of Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Since the report was published several weeks ago, Israel and the Israeli government under PM Netanyahu have been putting pressure on countries to ask the U.N. to postpone dealing with the explosive report. For some reason, Abbas went along.

Palestinian groups and human rights organizations have condemned the postponement and Abbas' involvement in it.

Writes McCarthy:

"There have been several demonstrations against the decision in the West Bank, as well as protests from human rights organisations. Syria cancelled an official visit by Abbas, criticising the Palestinians for backing down.

"In a joint statement, 17 Palestinian human rights groups "strongly condemned" the decision, saying the justification for delaying the vote was "inappropriate" and that accountability was needed as part of a peace process. "Justice delayed is justice denied. All victims have a legitimate right to an effective judicial remedy, and the equal protection of the law," it said.

"Mustafa Barghouti, an independent Palestinian MP, said the decision was a "grave and horrible mistake" that had damaged the Palestinian Authority's credibility. "The only beneficiary of this postponement was Israel and it happened at a time when there was an opening to hold Israel accountable." He added that it left the Palestinians in a weaker position in peace talks with the Israelis."

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Why is Pres. Obama making the same mistakes in his dealing with Iran as did hated George W. Bush?

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, announces that negotiations with Iran are proceeding in good faith, and that Iran has agreed to open its Qom nuclear processing site to U.N. inspectors on October 25th. Furthermore, Iran has agreed to send all of its processed uranium to Russia for conversion into harmless nuclear fuel.

Yet much of the reaction from Obama's Washington is how Iran must do this, must do that. Where are the important and needed Obama celebratory words congratulating Iran for being willing to sit down and negotiate? Instead we get doom and gloom, and injunctions to Iran that it better move quickly.

Here is Politico reporting on the words of Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., on Meet the Press today.

"U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice on Sunday warned that Iran had to move quickly to prove its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes.

"“If it doesn't, time is short,” Rice said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"She told host David Gregory, “We're not interested in talking for talking's sake. We're not interested in interminable negotiations. They have to demonstrate conclusively that their program is for peaceful purposes.”"

Suppose you were Iranian. Suppose you were also an opponent of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. How would you feel about the threatening words of Susan Rice, Pres. Obama's friend and confidante?

However, all is not so bleak. The BBC reports on words of Obama's security adviser, retired general James Jones, praising Iran for its willingness to negotiate. Reports the BBC:

"US National Security Adviser Jim Jones said Tehran was now "willing to come to the table", following talks this week between Iran and major powers. . . .

"Speaking on CBS television on Sunday, Mr Jones said: "We now have an Iran that is willing to come to the table.""

Iran has agreed to several important steps after its sit-down negotiations with the U.S. and EU countries. Furthermore, ElBaradei believes that it is now negotiating rather than engaging in confrontation. The BBC reports:

Speaking after talks with the top Iranian nuclear official, Ali Akbar Salehi, Mr Elbaradei said the talks had been successful, and that inspectors would ensure that the Qom facility was for "peaceful purposes".

"He added: "I see that we are shifting gears from confrontation into transparency and co-operation. I continue, of course, to call on Iran to be as transparent as possible.""

Some of Pres. Barack Obama's signals will do little to foster the good faith needed on both sides to continue to engage in meaningful and productive diplomacy between Iran and the West. Stop the threats a' la Bush against Iran, and instead reward the Iranian government for taking meaningful steps, as Obama's security adviser, James Jones, has done.