February 2005 Archives

February 28, 2005

Rice to Take Part in London Conference on Palestine

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will take part in the London conference on Palestine, which gets underway March 1, 2005. The conference is hosted by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. See The London Conference on Palestine Starts March 1. The Israelis have agreed not to attend. Here's why.

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Should Bush Use Trade to Get Iran to Do His Bidding?

Gregory Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispatch, in commenting on New York Times Correspondent Steven Weisman's report, based on interviews with European and American officials, that "The Bush administration is considering a proposal by Britain, France and Germany to offer Iran trade benefits, commercial aircraft and aircraft spare parts in return for dismantling what is suspected of being a nuclear weapons program," thinks "this one will be a really tough call for Bush's foreign policy team." He opined:

The fear, of course, is Iran getting WTO accession and various Airbuses and the like (ie, all the very sizable carrots)--but nevertheless surreptitiously continuing her nuclear weapons program. A win win for the Iranians. Still, significant monitoring mechanisms will be a part of all these arrangements. So, and as B.D. has repeatedly predicted, it appears Bush really is striving to pursue a diplomatic route in concert with the Europeans on Iran.
While I see no problem with Iran having nuclear weapons, while the West and Israel have them, I can understand the Europeans' position. If negotiations can stave off a war, then negotiate.

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Norway May Initiate Talks After 2007 for EU Membership

The EU Observer reported today that "Norway might resume discussions on EU [European Union] membership after 2007." The publication added:

After closely following this weekend's heated EU debate in Iceland, [Prime Minister Kjell Magne] Bondevikr personally phoned Icelandic Prime Minister Halldór Ásgrímsson to keep abreast of the latest developments.
According to the Observer report by Lisbeth Kirk , Mr. Bondevikr said developments in Iceland could influence the Norwegian debate. Here's more.

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Tajikistan Elections Reportedly Marred by Fraud

Peter Eicher, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) mission chief, today commented on parliamentary elections held in Tajikistan over the weekend. He told a news conference: "I regret to say that the overall process was a disappointment. We witnessed direct falsification. The extent of these irregularities does raise doubts about the integrity of the tabulation process."

According to The Guardian of London, Mr. Eicher had "130 observers watching the poll in the former Soviet republic."

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Foreign Dispatches Sees a Problem With Debt Relief

Foreign Dispatches has a post headlined "The Problem With Debt Relief." I think it's worth reading. The blog says "Few ideas are as intuitively appealing as the notion that a great way to help the world's poor would be to cancel debts incurred by their governments, but as William Easterly explains, debt writeoffs are by no means the problem-free proposal their advocates imagine them to be." Here's more from Foreign Dispatches. Here is a link on Third World Debt.

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February 27, 2005

Lebanon's Daily Star Says 'Hariri's Case Gathering Momentum'

Leila Hatoum, of staff reporter for The Daily Star of Lebanon, reported February 28, 2005 that "Saudi leaders will be seeking information about the slaying of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri when Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Sharaa visits the kingdom." She quoted an anonymous Saudi official as saying:

We cannot accuse Syria or Syrian security services of orchestrating Hariri's murder as there is no proof. But we hope Syria will have information about the murder, given its military and security presence in Lebanon and we hope the Syrian foreign minister will brief us on the information available to his government.
Meanwhile, Ms. Hatoum reported, "Sidon MP Bahia Hariri, the sister of Mr. Hariri, said "Before the arrival of the UN team [investigating Mr. Hariri's assassination], all we heard were accusations and speeches aimed at tampering with people's minds. But the Lebanese are smart and they will not fall into calls of sedition," she opined. Here's more of the story.

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Zvi Bar'el Analyzes the Use of 'Finger-pointing as Policy'

Zvi Bar'el of Haaretz says "Pointing the finger at Syria and/or Hezbollah for the weekend terrorist bombing in Tel Aviv conveniently moves the Israeli-Palestinian dispute beyond its local dimension - and is far from being an Israeli invention." He also wrote in the paper's February 28, 2005 edition:

Arab regimes often do it when they blame Al-Qaida or Iran or other "external" groups for terrorist attacks; the U.S. blames Iran and Syria for involvement in Iraqi terrorism and Russia prefers to blame external "Islamic terrorists" for terror in Chechnya or terror attacks conducted in Russia by Chechens.
He said "the question is to what extent is Syria directly responsible for the execution of the terror attack? Is it only because it hosts Islamic Jihad and the other rejectionist groups on its territory, or is there firm proof that it ordered the attack or paid for it?" he asked. Read the answers here.

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WSJ: 'White House Press Room as Political Stage'

Christopher Cooper and John D. McKinnon, writing in the February 25, 2005 edition of The Wall Street Journal, said "the power of the presidency has always attracted offbeat characters to the White House briefing room." They opined:

But the trend accelerated in the late 1990s, when cable outlets like C-SPAN began broadcasting the White House briefing in its entirety. That has drawn more fringe journalists seeking a forum to voice their points of view. The trend has been further fueled in recent years by the rise of alternative media, Internet news sites and Web logs that have given just about everyone who wants it a platform for punditry.
They said "the result is that 'the entire nature of the briefing has changed,' says former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart. 'It's become a show.'" Here's more.

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WSJ: 'White House Press Room as Political Stage'

Christopher Cooper and John D. McKinnon, writing in the February 25, 2005 edition of The Wall Street Journal, said "the power of the presidency has always attracted offbeat characters to the White House briefing room." They opined:

But the trend accelerated in the late 1990s, when cable outlets like C-SPAN began broadcasting the White House briefing in its entirety. That has drawn more fringe journalists seeking a forum to voice their points of view. The trend has been further fueled in recent years by the rise of alternative media, Internet news sites and Web logs that have given just about everyone who wants it a platform for punditry.
They said "the result is that 'the entire nature of the briefing has changed,' says former Clinton press secretary Joe Lockhart. 'It's become a show.'" Here's more.

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Issue Focus: The State Dept.'s Daily Summary on Foreign Commentary

As the U.S. Department of State's Office of Research notes on its web site, "each business day," the office "produces an Issue Focus of foreign media commentary on a major foreign policy issue or related event. These reports provide a global round-up of editorials and op-ed commentary from major newspapers, magazines and broadcast media around the world," the Office of Research states in an introduction. "Following a one-page analysis of the commentary," users are told, "readers will find block quotes sorted by geographic region and country. An Issue Focus normally covers one to three weeks of editorial opinion. The latest reports date back one week," according to the Office of Research. Here is the report issued February 25, 2005. Here are other reports issued in February 2005. I find them quite valuable and read them regularly.

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Some Reporters in Syria Told They're Not Being Responsible

Here is another significant report from Joshua Landis' informative Syrian Comment blog:

Syria reporters are getting their hands smacked here for the first time in years. The AP reporter wrote up the story on the Islamic Jihad attack in Israel. He got a call from the Islamic Jihad office here in Damascus taking responsibility for the bombing in Tel Aviv. Six hours later, the same person called him back and denied that Islamic Jihad was responsible. Too late, the reporter had already filed. Then the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bushra Kanafani called and chewed out the AP reporter. She said that as a “muwatin Souri” or Syrian citizen he was not being responsible for filing the report.
Mr. Landis said "the same call came to another Syrian reporter I spoke to concerning an article he had written in an Arabic paper on Friday about chaos in the foreign ministry and how Syria could not get its story straight." Here's more on this interesting development.

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Why Did Syria Hand Saddam's Brother Over to the U.S.?

University of Oklahoma Assistant Professor Joshua Landis, who is studying on a Filbright Scholarship in Syria and Lebanon, and writes the insighful Syria Comment blog, asked on February 27, 2005: Is Syria helping the US in Iraq?

The question was provoked by the announcement that "Sabawi Ibrahim Hasan, a half brother of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, has been captured." Mr. Landis added:

One reporter told me: "I am told that the Syrians effectively handed him over to the Americans, either by kicking him out and telling the Americans, or informing the Americans where he was in Iraq."

"I am also told that there might be more examples of this in the near future and that some of the senior baathists in Syria will begin leaving the country for safer destinations."

It is interesting what individuals and nations will do to curry favor with a bigger power, in hopes of abating a threat from that power. There must be quite a few nervous Iraqis in Syria today.

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U.S. 'Strengthen' Diplomatic Mission in Sudan

Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State in charge of the Bureau of Public Affairs and State Department spokesman, said the U.S. "strengthened" its diplomatic presence in Sudan "by appointing Ambassador David Kaeuper as the chargé d'affaires of the American Embassy in Khartoum. Ambassador Kaeuper has arrived in the Sudanese capital," he told State Department correspondents February 25, 2005, adding:

He will engage the Sudanese Government on critical issues, including the crisis in Darfur, implementing the comprehensive peace agreement, delivering lifesaving humanitarian aid to millions of Sudanese threatened by displacement and food shortages.
He said "the Embassy has also sent an official to southern Sudan with a view to establishing a U.S. diplomatic presence there." Mr. Kaeuper has considerable experience in Africa.

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U.S. 'Strengthen' Diplomatic Mission in Sudan

Richard Boucher, Assistant Secretary of State in charge of the Bureau of Public Affairs and State Department spokesman, said the U.S. "strengthened" its diplomatic presence in Sudan "by appointing Ambassador David Kaeuper as the chargé d'affaires of the American Embassy in Khartoum. Ambassador Kaeuper has arrived in the Sudanese capital," he told State Department correspondents February 25, 2005, adding:

He will engage the Sudanese Government on critical issues, including the crisis in Darfur, implementing the comprehensive peace agreement, delivering lifesaving humanitarian aid to millions of Sudanese threatened by displacement and food shortages.
He said "the Embassy has also sent an official to southern Sudan with a view to establishing a U.S. diplomatic presence there." Mr. Kaeuper has considerable experience in Africa.

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February 26, 2005

UN Dispatch Getting Blogger Coverage

The UN Dispatch noted on February 26, 2005 that it "has received a fair amount of attention from bloggers this week." For example, it said:

Henry from Crooked Timber says, "[B]logs like the newly created UN Dispatch can fill an unmet need, giving us a take on the UN that isn't limited to cheap gotchas about corruption and sex scandals.... it appears to be rather stronger on actual factual information about the strengths and weaknesses of the UN than any of the other blogs opining on UN-related issues. One that I'll be reading."
UN Dispatch cited 15 additional blogs that mentioned its debut. Although The Diplomatic Times Review reported on the blog, it was not among those listed. I think the UN Dispatch is a valuable resource that should be checked daily by anyone who wants more than scandal reporting about the U.N.

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UN Dispatch Getting Blogger Coverage

The UN Dispatch noted on February 26, 2005 that it "has received a fair amount of attention from bloggers this week." For example, it said:

Henry from Crooked Timber says, "[B]logs like the newly created UN Dispatch can fill an unmet need, giving us a take on the UN that isn't limited to cheap gotchas about corruption and sex scandals.... it appears to be rather stronger on actual factual information about the strengths and weaknesses of the UN than any of the other blogs opining on UN-related issues. One that I'll be reading."
UN Dispatch cited 15 additional blogs that mentioned its debut. Although The Diplomatic Times Review reported on the blog, it was not among those listed. I think the UN Dispatch is a valuable resource that should be checked daily by anyone who wants more than scandal reporting about the U.N.

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Baradei to Issue Full Report on Iran's Nuclear Activity

Mohamed El Baradei, head of the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is scheduled to "issue a full report" on Iran's nuclear program "when his agency's 35-nation board of governors meets in Vienna" on February 28, 2005 "to review how to proceed on Iran," according to Agence France Presse. Read more here.

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Baradei to Issue Full Report on Iran's Nuclear Activity

Mohamed El Baradei, head of the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is scheduled to "issue a full report" on Iran's nuclear program "when his agency's 35-nation board of governors meets in Vienna" on February 28, 2005 "to review how to proceed on Iran," according to Agence France Presse. Read more here.

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Canada's Paul Martin Has a Lot to Learn About U.S.

The London Free Press reported in its February 26, 2005 edition that "Prime Minister Paul Martin is insisting the United States seek permission before firing any missiles over Canada. The insistence came yesterday [February 25, 2005]in response to warnings that Canada has abdicated part of its sovereignty by refusing to take part in the U.S. missile-defence project." See U.S. Doesn't Need Canada's Permission to Defend North America. Mr. Martin has a lot to learn about his powerful neighbor. Here's more of the Free Press article.

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Canada's Paul Martin Has a Lot to Learn About U.S.

The London Free Press reported in its February 26, 2005 edition that "Prime Minister Paul Martin is insisting the United States seek permission before firing any missiles over Canada. The insistence came yesterday [February 25, 2005]in response to warnings that Canada has abdicated part of its sovereignty by refusing to take part in the U.S. missile-defence project." See U.S. Doesn't Need Canada's Permission to Defend North America. Mr. Martin has a lot to learn about his powerful neighbor. Here's more of the Free Press article.

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China, Japan Agree on Need for Ministerial Dialogue

China Daily reported February 25, 2005 that "Senior Japanese and Chinese diplomats reaffirmed the need Saturday [February 26, 2005] to soon hold minister-level dialogue, and agreed to work to set a date for a visit to China by Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura. Read more here.

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China, Japan Agree on Need for Ministerial Dialogue

China Daily reported February 25, 2005 that "Senior Japanese and Chinese diplomats reaffirmed the need Saturday [February 26, 2005] to soon hold minister-level dialogue, and agreed to work to set a date for a visit to China by Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura. Read more here.

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The American Thinker: 'Baloney in Bratislava'

Herb Meyer at The American Thinker observed in a February 26, 2005 post that "President Bush and Russian President Putin seemed to get along famously last Thursday [February 25, 2005] in Bratislava. And at their post-meeting press conference, President Bush was visibly pleased when Putin stated publicly that Russia’s choice of democracy will never be reversed," he wrote, adding:

Unfortunately, there is no connection between what Putin says and what he does. In the last few years he has steadily eroded Russia’s democracy; today that country is, in fact, the only major country that is less democratic today than it was when President Bush took office in January 2001. And Putin’s recent decisions to go ahead with its sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, and to provide technical help to Iran for what Putin calls that country’s nuclear “energy” program, have put Russia on a collision course with the US.
Mr. Meyer said "When the post-summit euphoria fades –I give it a week -- US-Russia relations will continue to worsen." I agree. Here's more of his analysis.

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The American Thinker: 'Baloney in Bratislava'

Herb Meyer at The American Thinker observed in a February 26, 2005 post that "President Bush and Russian President Putin seemed to get along famously last Thursday [February 25, 2005] in Bratislava. And at their post-meeting press conference, President Bush was visibly pleased when Putin stated publicly that Russia’s choice of democracy will never be reversed," he wrote, adding:

Unfortunately, there is no connection between what Putin says and what he does. In the last few years he has steadily eroded Russia’s democracy; today that country is, in fact, the only major country that is less democratic today than it was when President Bush took office in January 2001. And Putin’s recent decisions to go ahead with its sale of anti-aircraft missiles to Syria, and to provide technical help to Iran for what Putin calls that country’s nuclear “energy” program, have put Russia on a collision course with the US.
Mr. Meyer said "When the post-summit euphoria fades –I give it a week -- US-Russia relations will continue to worsen." I agree. Here's more of his analysis.

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Sanction on Togo Lifted Following Gnassingbe's Resignation

Cameron Duodu, in a February 27, 2005 article in The Observer of London, noted that "for the first time a show of unity by African nations has succeeded in reversing a coup - forcing the resignation of Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the late dictator of Togo, who had installed himself as President in succession to his father." Mr. Duodu observed that Mr. Gnassingbe's resignation "came after the African Union had joined the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to impose sanctions on his regime. Under the sanctions diplomatic relations with Togo were to be cut." The sanctions were lifted February 26, 2005, after Mr. Gnassinbe's resignation was confirmed.

Hopefully, the Togolese affair will convince any potential African coup leader that he will be isolated diplomatically and sanctions imposed on his nation, if he succeeds in overthrowing a government or seize power upon the death of a leader.

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Sanction on Togo Lifted Following Gnassingbe's Resignation

Cameron Duodu, in a February 27, 2005 article in The Observer of London, noted that "for the first time a show of unity by African nations has succeeded in reversing a coup - forcing the resignation of Faure Gnassingbe, the son of the late dictator of Togo, who had installed himself as President in succession to his father." Mr. Duodu observed that Mr. Gnassingbe's resignation "came after the African Union had joined the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) to impose sanctions on his regime. Under the sanctions diplomatic relations with Togo were to be cut." The sanctions were lifted February 26, 2005, after Mr. Gnassinbe's resignation was confirmed.

Hopefully, the Togolese affair will convince any potential African coup leader that he will be isolated diplomatically and sanctions imposed on his nation, if he succeeds in overthrowing a government or seize power upon the death of a leader.

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Eliasson to Preside Over 60th Session of U.N. General Assembly

The Washington Diplomat has an article in the February issue on Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson, who is "set to be formally elected president of the [United Nations] General Assembly in June [2005]. If all goes as scheduled," according to The Diplomat, Sweden's ambassador to the United States "will assume the post in September [2005] just as a highly anticipated global summit is convened under U.N. auspices in New York." Mr. Eliasson "will serve as the president of the General Assembly for its 60th session that extends from September 2005 to September 2006," the publication said..

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Eliasson to Preside Over 60th Session of U.N. General Assembly

The Washington Diplomat has an article in the February issue on Swedish diplomat Jan Eliasson, who is "set to be formally elected president of the [United Nations] General Assembly in June [2005]. If all goes as scheduled," according to The Diplomat, Sweden's ambassador to the United States "will assume the post in September [2005] just as a highly anticipated global summit is convened under U.N. auspices in New York." Mr. Eliasson "will serve as the president of the General Assembly for its 60th session that extends from September 2005 to September 2006," the publication said..

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The London Conference on Palestine Starts March 1

On March 1, 2005, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw will chair an international conference in London designed to create Palestinian Authority institutions that will suit the west in a future, Palestinian state although the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office described it this way:

The central aim of the London Meeting is to help the Palestinian leadership strengthen the institutions of the Palestinian Authority. In doing so the UK and the international community will work to support Palestinian efforts to prepare for the anticipated Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the West Bank Strong institutions of governance, a more effective security apparatus and renewed economic development should enable the Palestinian Authority to build on the opportunity of these withdrawals and ensure they deliver real benefits to the Palestinian people.
The conference, which will attract Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, suggest that the west may be ready for a Palestinian state to emerge, 56-years after Western nations, especially Britain, gave the ok for the creation of Israel. Israel, by agreement, will not have an official representative at the conference

However, Haaretz analyst Aluf Benn reported February 26, 2005, that Israel will "receive backing for its position that the upcoming London conference, which is scheduled to convene this Tuesday for the purpose of strengthening the PA, should intensify demands on [Palestinian leader Mahmoud] Abbas to combat terrorism.

"Following the conference, the American security coordinator, General William Ward, will come to the region. His task will be to oversee Palestinian security forces as well as try to prevent Israeli responses that can derail the process," Mr. Benn wrote. Read his "Analysis: Israel likely to apply diplomatic pressure on PA."

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Dean to Visit Mississippi Democrats on March 1

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean will be" in Jackson, Mississippi on Tuesday [March 1, 2005] to help raise money for his party and roll out strategy to energize Southern Democrats," Julie Goodman of the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Mississippi reported February 26, 2005.

"We need to have national Democrats go into Mississippi and talk about our message and not let any of the Republicans say what our message is," Mr. Dean said February 25 "during a telephone interview with reporters," Ms. Goodman wrote.

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The Battle Over Partnership for Healthy Mississippi Dollars

There is a battle between [Mississippi] Governor Haley Barbour and former Attorney General Mike Moore "over control of the $20 million peeled annually off the state tobacco settlement for the Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi," according to [Jackson, Mississippi] Clarion-Ledger Perspectives Editor Sid Slater, who says there are legitimate questions of both politics and policy" in the struggle between the two politicians. What are those questions? Mr. Slater defines them in his in his February 23 column, in which he says "no single group of [Mississippi] legislators has more frequently enjoyed the benefits of Partnership spending within members' districts than has the Legislative Black Caucus."

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Liberals and the Free market

Dev Purkayastha of Democratic Freedom contends that "Most liberals share the very American impulse to root for the underdog, including those who distrust the free market. But economic freedom doesn't have to be an enemy of the little guy," Dev wrote. "How to convince your friends otherwise?" Here's Democratic Freedom's answer.

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Mystery Pollster Asks: 'Should Jeb Run...Or Not?'

The always informative and educational Mystery Pollster reported February 25, 2005 that:

The Hotline (subscription required) caught an intriguing polling conflict yesterday. A just released Quinnipiac poll of 1,007 Florida "voters," conducted February 18-22, showed 25% said yes when asked, "would you like Jeb Bush to run for President in 2008?" A survey of "registered voters" conducted February 16-20 by Strategic Vision showed 57% saying yes on a virtually identical question. How could that be?
Read the rest of Mystery Pollster's post for the answer.

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Steve Goddard: 'How Many Rockefellers Are There?'

Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Winthrop Rockefeller's announcement that he intends to run for governor of Arkansas is gaining interest outside of the state. Steve Goddard's History Wire, in a February 25, 2005 post, asked: How Many Rockefellers Are There? Mr. Goddard noted that "for the fourth time" in his memory, "a Rockefeller is poised to become a state governor. This week, Arkansas Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller told Republican leaders he plans to seek his party's nomination for the state house, occupied by his father, Winthrop Rockefeller, from 1967-1971," he told his readers. Here'smore.

NOTE: During Mr. Rockefeller's father last campaign, in which he lost to Dale Bumpers, I was a photojournalist for a small newspaper in West Memphis, Arkansas called Many Voices. The paper regularly covered the elder Rockefeller.

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A Perspective on Religion and American Politics

"Religion in American politics" was the headline of a February 16, 2005 column by William Rusher, "a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy," that ran in The Joplin (Missouri) Globe. The former publisher of the National Review said:

The United States is notoriously the most devout major nation in the Western world, with something on the order of 90 percent of its population professing faith in God. The other 10 percent includes agnostics, for whom the question is an open one, and a relative handful — say, 5 percent — of hardcore atheists.
He said "the distribution of believers and nonbelievers, however, is significant. America’s intellectual elite contains far more than its proportionate share of nonbelievers — not surprisingly, since it is this elite that has been most heavily influenced by the pro-scientific and antireligious sentiments generated by the 18th-century Enlightenment." Here's more of his interesting perspective.

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Newt Gingrich's Vision for Public Policy

Carl P. Leubsdorf, Washington bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News, opines in "Gingrich reveals vision for public policy" that "you've got to hand it to Newt Gingrich. No one in American political life thinks in as big, even cosmic terms as the former House speaker. Impractical, perhaps. But definitely big." Does anyone remember Mr. Gingrich's Contract With America? Read about Mr. Gingrich's vision at his web site.

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Frist Outlines Republican Legislative Agenda

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, "speaking to a capacity crowd" during a February 25, 2005 "$65 per-plate fund-raiser for the 116th annual Oakland County (Michigan) Lincoln Republican Club" dinner "celebrating tradition," outlined the "Republican legislative agenda and challenged Democrats in the Senate to give judicial nominees an up-or-down vote," according to a report by Sven Gustafson of The Daily Oakland (Michigan)Press. Here's more.

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Iowa Republicans Told Work Begins Now to Win 2006 Governor's Race

Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee Chairman, told about 90 Iowa Republican party leaders and activists in Des Moines on February 23, 2005 that the 2006 race to succeed Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack, a Democrat, will test their party's ability to win statewide, according to DesMoinesRegister.Com. Mr. Vilsack has said he will not seek a third term. Thirty-six states will hold an election for governor in 2006.

Mr. Mehlman, who spoke at a Republicans luncheon fund-raiser, said, among other things: "We need to make sure that in 2005 and 2006, the same activists around this state that made history by winning the state for George W. Bush in 2004 go to work for us to make sure we win the governor's mansion. That work begins right now." He also said, "We need to reach out to the African-American community and we need to say . . . give us a chance and we'll give you a choice," according to the Register. Read more here.

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The GOP Hunt for a Bush Successor Has Begun

Stewart M. Powell of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Washington Bureau reported February 25, 2005 that "In the Beltway version of "the cat's away, the mice will play," President Bush's prospective Republican successors were busy this week getting their 2008 presidential campaigns started while Bush was traveling in Europe."

"Political activists in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina -- states hosting the first three contests for the GOP presidential nomination in 2008 -- saw the first stirrings of the intramural Republican contest that will play out over the next three years before voters start casting ballots in the nomination struggle in January 2008," he wrote. "Many of the contenders are staging appearances and scheduling speeches at local Republican fund-raisers."

Getting started early makes sense to me. It takes three years just to raise enough money to take part in the primaries. If you are an unknown, you need years just to brand your self. I mean as in product branding. Here's a link to the Powell report.

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February 25, 2005

Win Rockefeller Wants to Be Governor of Arkansas

Arkansas "Lieutenant Governor Winthrop Rockefeller has sent a letter to state Republican Party officials saying he definitely is in the 2006 race for governor of Arkansas," David Robinson of the Arkansas News Bureau reported February 25, 2005.

"I want you to be the first to know that I have decided to seek the office of governor in 2006," Mr. Rockefeller said in "the February 21 letter to the Arkansas Republican Party Executive Committee and State Committee," according to the Robinson report.

Mr. Rockefeller, a "56-year-old billionaire," is the son of the late, former Arkansas Governor Winthrop Rockefeller who was governor from 1966 to 1970. He was defeated by Democrat Dale Bumpers. The Arkansas News Bureau said the current Mr. Rockefeller "will more formally announce his candidacy after the Legislature adjourns sometime this spring." Read more here.

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The Oil Price Trajectory Illustrated

Deep Blade Journal has a great piece on the oil price trajectory. "Hyperbolic price swings with huge upward bias portend threats to our future security," the blog predicts. I wish my professors in the three economics courses I took at Chicago State and East-West University had explained things as well. Read more here.

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Daily Star Columnist: 'Syria May be Closing its Arab Door'

Michael Young, staff writer for The Daily Star of Lebanon, opined on February 24, 2005 that, "No sooner had Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa announced on Monday [February 21, 2005] afternoon that Syrian President Bashar Assad agreed to withdraw his army from Lebanon, than the Syrians issued a clarifying statement. Moussa had misunderstood; Syria had only meant a redeployment inside Lebanon, not a withdrawal."

Furthermore, Mr. Young asserted, "On a day when U.S. President George W. Bush demanded that Syria "end its occupation of Lebanon"; that Bush and French President Jacques Chirac issued the same instructions, and set a May deadline for the pullout; that Moussa traveled to Damascus to effectively save the Syrian regime from itself by offering a negotiated way out of its Lebanese impasse; and that tens of thousands of people marched in the streets of Beirut demanding that Syrian forces leave their country; on that day, Assad chose to again embrace the politics of the ostrich by sticking his head in a hole and discounting the world around him." If Syria is not careful, she will be isolated even by Arab Governments. Read more of Mr. Young's insightful analyis.

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Blogger in Syria Says Cracks Are Beginning to Form

Professor Joshua Landis in his always informative Syria Comment blog reported February 24, 2005 that:

The squeeze has been placed on Syria, and cracks are beginning to form in the ordinarily stolid constitution of a people accustomed to disappointment and hardship. Everyone wants to criticize the government as their anxiety overflows the lip of well practiced patience. With a minimum of prodding, one gets a flood of complaint. The leadership has led the country into a blind alley. It will be the people who pay the exit price.

Everything turns on European sanctions. Unlike the US, Europe is Syria’s major trading partner. Sixty per cent of Syrian trade is with European states. France has already called for sanctions. Will Germany and Britain follow suit? If Germany and Britain agree to join an economic embargo of Syria, the entire EU will be pulled behind them, whether they like it or not. Spain and Greece, the states which have traditionally been most outspoken in Syria’s defense, will be mute.

Mr. Landis believes "the European powers will look for ways to stop the sanctions train before it leaves the station." Here's more.

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February 24, 2005

U.S. Doesn't Need Canada's Permission to Defend North America

While Canada is a sovereign nation, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin is the equivalent of a governor when it comes to relations with the U.S. That's why when he said he will not sign on to the U.S.' missile defense program U.S. Ambassador Paul Cellucci could boldy state:

We will deploy. We will defend North America. We simply cannot understand why Canada would, in effect, give up its sovereignty - its seat at the table - to decide what to do about a missile that might be coming toward Canada.
The National Post of Canada said "the warning was no slip of the tongue. Mr. Cellucci repeated several times that Canada's decision had handed over some of its sovereignty to the U.S.," the paper said, adding that "Cellucci said he understands the political issues that made it difficult for Martin's minority government to endorse an unpopular American plan. Polls have suggested most Canadians oppose the project and Martin might even have faced a revolt within his own Liberal caucus."

According to the National Post, "the blunt warning came minutes after Prime Minister Paul Martin announced Thursday [February 24, 2005] that he will not sign on to the controversial U.S. missile defence program."

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Newsweek's Mabry to Write Condoleezza Rice Biography

PR News Wire says "In a preempt, Rodale Executive Editor Leigh Haber has acquired North American rights to an important new biography of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice by Newsweek Senior Editor and Chief of Correspondents Marcus Mabry." Here's the press release.

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A Lively Debate About the 'U.N. Dispatch'

Henry Farrell's February 22, 2005 post at Crooked Timber headlined "UN Dispatch" has generated a lively debate on the value of the obviously pro-UN blog. As commenters defend and denounce the blog, Henry steps in and interjects comments that centers the debate. The back-and-forth between the writer and the audience takes the discussion beyond the praise and condemnation stage. I found the discussion stimulating. But like Henry, I would love to see more bloggers make an effort at blogging on international affairs. Here is the UN Dispatch. The Belgravia Dispatch also has a post on the new blog.

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River Bend Comments on 'Groceries and Election Results' in Iraq

"Groceries and Election Results...", River Bend's most recent post at Baghdad Burning,is quite revealing.

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Drezner Asks: 'How stable is Bretton Woods 2?'

University of Chicago Scholar Daniel Drezner asks How stable is Bretton Woods 2? in a provocative February 24, 2005 post on the Bretton Woods regime "for managing the international monetary system," which, he says, "was inherently unstable because of the Triffin dilemma. Nevertheless, the true Bretton Woods system did last for 14 years (1958-1971)," he notes, adding" It lasted for eleven years after Triffin explained the system couldn't last forever."

Mr. Drezner asserts that "Economists are labelling the current monetary arrangements as Bretton Woods 2. Under this system, the U.S. is running massive current account deficits to be the source of export-led growth for other countries. To fund this deficit, central banks, particularly those on the Pacific Rim, are buying up dollars and dollar-denominated assets." Read the entire post. Hopefully, it will generate considerable comments. It's a subject that needs to be widely discussed. By the way, I highly recommend Mr. Drezner's blog Daniel W. Drezner. It's intellectually stimulating, at least to me.

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Peter Daou's 'UN Dispatch' Makes its Debut

Thanks to Gregory Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispatch for highlighting a "new and noteworthy" blog called the UN Dispatch. Peter Daou, author of the Daou Report, is the proprietor. The Dispatch is described as "a blog intended to promote thoughtful discussion about the UN, and to provide an outlet for important news and views on the UN." It's "sponsored by the United Nations Foundation, though the views expressed" in it "do not represent the official views of the United Nations Foundation, or the UN.," according to the Dispatch's about page. I didn't see a comment section.

NOTE: This post can also be found at The Foreign News Observer.

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'Raising children…and Republicans'

Dave Belden at Open Democracy has an interesting post on Raising children…and Republicans." The point is that "a family difference over childrearing" makes him "rethink America’s political future."

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Army Rules for Denver Post on Opening Court-martial to Public

Miles Moffeit, staff Writer for The Denver Post, reported February 24, 2005, that "a U.S. Army appeals court on Wednesday [February 23, 2005] assailed a Fort Carson [Colorado] official for barring the public from court-martial proceedings involving the interrogation death of an Iraqi general, calling the move illegal and ordering portions of the transcript released."

He said, "In siding with attorneys for The Denver Post, the Washington, D.C.-based judicial panel also said future testimony in the murder case that is not deemed classified must be aired in an open courtroom." Here's more.

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Voter Impressions of Schwarzenegger's Proposals Are Positive

SignonSanDiego.Com says "California voters are initially in favor of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's four-part agenda, but oppose holding an expensive special election for it." That's according to a new Field Poll. According to SignonSanDiego.Com:

Voters' first impression of Schwarzenegger's proposals – automatic state spending curbs, replacing state pensions with an individual retirement plan, paying teachers on the basis of merit and taking away redistricting power from the Legislature – is positive, but not overwhelmingly so.
"Mark DiCamillo, director of the nonpartisan Field Poll, pointed out that support for ballot propositions tends to decline once the campaign begins and the opposing arguments are heard," according to SignonSanDiego.Com. Here's more.

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February 23, 2005

Kimmage: 'Central Asia Provides Window On Russia-U.S. Relations'

"When U.S. President George Bush meets with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Bratislava on 24 February, Central Asia will not be an agenda-topping item," notes Daniel Kimmage in February 23, 2005 article on the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website. "But as a region where U.S. and Russian interests intersect, Central Asia provides a window on the dynamics that dominate the two countries' uneasy relationship in the former Soviet Union." Why? See "Analysis: Central Asia Provides Window On Russia-U.S. Relations" for Mr. Kimmage's rationale.

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'Bush Says Diplomacy Just Starting on Iran'

In analyzing President George W. Bush's February 23, 2005 comments on Iran, Daniel Quintiliani, a blogger out of Milford, Pennsylvania who writes at Life, Liberty and Property, said "if we can defy treaties, why can't they?" meaning the Iranians. He added:

Whether or not Iran is building nuclear weapons is not the issue. Iran has not attacked the United States, therefore we should not be considering fighting them in a war. As for spreading democracy throughout the Middle East, why is that necessary for anything, and why would our President put our troops to that dangerous task? We don't even know if Iran is making nuclear weapons.
"We should stay out of the Middle East and concentrate on problems here at home," he opined. That's not going to happen Daniel. The U.S. is an empire and empires don't stay home. They extend themselves until they are exhausted economically and militarily. Read more here.

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Americablog.Com: 'Bush Agrees To Disagree...With Himself '

"What great diplomacy Bush Inc. is demonstrating in Europe," says Michael at Americablog.com. "First Condi went over there and said, The US is willing to stand with Europe and Europe MUST be ready to stand with the U.S. (Talk about an olive branch.) Then Bush came to Europe and magnanimously said he's willing to forgive it for being right about those Weapons of Mass Destruction. Gee thanks."

"Now today, Bush cautions Europe not to jump to conclusions about our intentions towards Iran," Americablog added. Here's more.

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Duality, Stereotyping and Diplomacy

The Great American Enigma contends that "Duality from the Bush administration is on the rise. At one moment they are saying to us, "Iran is a haven for terrorism", and the next they say, "We want diplomacy to work," according to a February 19, 2005 post. "How is it possible to go forth with diplomacy when you've already stereotyped a nation and named it an Axis of Evil?" Enigma asked, adding: This is all public relations going on now and the war with Iran is soon to ensue." Enigma has a point about the public relations angle. Here is more of "White Collared Conservatives Pointing Their Plastic Fingers."

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'Allawi Still Thinks He Could Run Iraq for Bush

Deep Blade Journal, a blog in the Bangor, Maine area, has an informative analysis of the political jockeying in Iraq. It's headlined "Iraq PM game not over: Allawi still thinks he could run Iraq for Bush ." I recommend it.

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A Blogger's Lament on 'Troubled Ramblings of Europe Lost'

Marvin Hutchens at Little Red Blog posted an article on February 23, 2005 headlined "Troubled Ramblings of Europe Lost," in which he opined: "There are times when the incalculably talented Mark Steyn’s words are too difficult to read. His latest offering, Atlanticist small talk is all that's left, is a masterpiece and at the same time terribly saddening. Steyn shows the nature of the cleaving of U.S. European relations, and moreover, the future of a bureaucratically inclined Europe in an age when values matter more than men are willing to admit." Click here to read Mr. Hutchens' lament.

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Reuters Analyst: Syria Thrown off Balance by Hariri Assassination

Reuters analyst Alistair Lyon, writing from London, noted on February 23, 2005 that, "Syria still appears to be groping for an adequate response to the assassination of a former ally in Lebanon and the political firestorm it has touched off."

"Many Lebanese have blamed Syria" for the February 14, 2005 "killing of ex-Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, a Sunni Muslim billionaire who symbolized Lebanon's efforts to recover from civil war," said.

"The outcry may have thrown Syrian leaders off balance, but their instincts will be to cling to their perceived interests in Lebanon, not cut their losses and run," he added based on interviews with foreign affairs analysts. Here's more of Mr. Lyon's thought-provoking analysis.

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Walid Jumblatt: Lebanon is a Hostage

Across the Bay has great coverage on Syria's troubles in Lebanon. On February 22, 2005, the blog reported on an interview Druze leader Walid Jumblatt gave "to the French "20 minutes." According to Across the Bay, Mr. Jumblatt said Lebanon was a "hostage" and that "its liberation might take years." Here's Across the Bay's report.

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Joshua Landis on 'The Taste of Bitterness in Syria'

Joshua Landis, a University of Oklahoma assistant professor of Middle Eastern Studies who grew up in Beirut and is on a Fullbright Scholarship in in Syria, reported in Syria Comment that Syria is going through a new layer of emotions as a result of the Hariri assassination." Read "The taste of Bitterness in Syria." Mr. Landis does a good job of capturing the mood of the Syrians and the Lebanese. It's ugly in both countries.

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February 22, 2005

Is the U.S. Role in the World to Spread Democracy?

Associate Press (AP) Writer Will Lester reported February 22, 2005 that President George W. Bush "is calling on European leaders to support his campaign to spread democracy abroad at a time people in many of those countries have doubts whether that should be the U.S. role in the world." His conclusion is based on AP polling. I expect the AP's results to be widely debated and challenged in the blogosphere. Here is the AP report.

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Bush, Yushchenko Meet Briefly in Brussels

Radio Free Europe (RFE) reported February 22, 2005 that "Ukraine's President Viktor Yushchenko met briefly with U.S. President George W. Bush on the sidelines of today's NATO summit in Brussels. The meetings come after Bush yesterday called for Ukraine to be welcomed into what he called "the Euro-Atlantic family," RFE said.

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Talks Between Indonesia, Aceh Resistance Movement at Delicate Stage

Helsingin Sanomat of Finland reported February 22, 2005 that "talks aimed at ending three decades of hostilities in Indonesia's Aceh Province continued in Vantaa" on February 21, 2005. "The talks are being led by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, the paper said, noting that Mr. Ahtisaari "did not want to comment on progress in the talks, which he said were in a "delicate phase". The paper added:

Discussions are focusing on an arrangement under which Aceh would remain a part of Indonesia, with a certain degree of autonomy. Negotiators representing the Indonesian government and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) went through the difficult agenda on Monday.
Helsingin Sanoma said the focus for February 22, 2005 "is to be on a more detailed analysis of the various points." Here's more.

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Reuters: 'Chirac Backs German Call for Revamp of NATO'

Reuters, citing "speaking notes released by [French President Jacques] Chirac's staff, reported on Tuesday [February 22, 2005] that Mr. Chirac "endorsed a controversial call by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder for a revamp of NATO, which the United States has rebuffed."

"Europe and the United States are real partners. So we need to dialogue and listen to each other more," Chirac told a NATO summit with President Bush, according to the speaking notes.

"We must also, as the German chancellor has underlined, continue to take account of the changes that have occurred on the European continent," Chirac said, referring to the end of the Cold War and the rise of an enlarged and increasingly integrated European Union.

Reuters said Mr. Schroeder "said in a speech delivered to a Munich security conference 10 days ago that NATO was "no longer the primary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and coordinate strategies." He "suggested a high-level panel should recommend how it could be reformed," according to Reuters.

The wire service said "some analysts interpreted [Mr] Schroeder's call as implying that the EU, rather than NATO, should be the main partner in future transatlantic cooperation."

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Bush: 'A state of Scattered Territories Will Not Work'

Roland Watson and Rory Watson of The Times Online reported February 22, 2005 that "President Bush gave a stern warning to Israel yesterday as he set the bruised transatlantic alliance a series of grand goals for the 21st century. Mr Bush used the keynote address of his European visit to lay out tough terms for Israel before peace could be established in the Middle East," they wrote, adding:

He said that Ariel Sharon, the Israeli Prime Minister, must stop all settlement activity in the West Bank. And he went further than ever before in insisting that an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank had to be large-scale rather than piecemeal
. "Referring to the resulting Palestinian state," The Times added, "Mr Bush said: “A state of scattered territories will not work.” The line produced one of the biggest rounds of applause, which was polite if hardly enthusiastic, from the audience of 300 European dignitaries in Brussels." Here's more.

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February 21, 2005

Was the Hariri Hit a Brilliant Achievement or Fatal Blunder?

Nelson Ascher at EuroPundits, in commenting on the speculation surrounding the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, said what he’d "really like to know, and have not been seeing very much addressed anywhere, is more about what kind of power struggle may be taking place in Damascus," the Syrian capital.

Has, for instance, some Syrian faction perpetrated the attack in order to embarrass another Syrian faction? Is the answer to be found in divisions not inside Lebanon, but Syria? A good informative analysis of Syria’s internal problems and quarrels would come in handily.

But how independent is Syria itself? If there’s a country interested in upping the ante in the region right now and, perhaps, diverting attention from itself to Syria, that is Iran. My impression is that, nowadays, Baby Doc Assad is nothing but the ayatollahs’ poodle.

What makes things even stranger in this case is that the murdered politician was, ostensibly at least, a close friend of Jacques Chirac’s. One can, and should, say many things about the guy, but he doesn’t look like the kind of person who takes slights lightly. One could expect now a Bush-Chirac anti-Syrian and maybe anti-Iranian alliance: or could one? If, as far as we can know, there’s a spark that could ignite some Franco-American collaboration, this would be it.

"After all," he said, "the last time France and the U.S. worked really close together was precisely in Lebanon over twenty years ago and, even then, they were targeted by the same people: it wasn’t only American marines who died in suicide-bombings, French soldiers were also killed. And also French diplomats and journalists. The killers were almost certainly obeying orders from Hafez Assad."

Mr. Ascher, who was born in Brazil but now lives in Europe, also asked: "How much do we know about both countries’ joint efforts in Lebanon during the early 80s? What was left of them? Will this murder bring both of them closer together? Was Hariri’s killing a brilliant achievement, a kind of test or a miscalculation, a fatal blunder?" Great questions. If only we could get answers.Here is more of his interesting analysis of the assassination.

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The U.S.' Back-Channel Talks With the Iraqi Resistance

Professor Daniel Drezner's analysis of Time magazine correspondent Michael Ware's "exclusive look at back-channel negotiations between U.S. officials and elements of the Iraqi insurgency" is among the better commentaries I've seen on this development. What makes it so? He's not predicting that it's the beginning of the end of all resistance to U.S. occupation of Iraq. That won't happen until the U.S. withdraws. His analysis is headlined "Interesting developments in Iraq."

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EU Referendum's Analysis of President Bush's Brussels Speech

EU Referendum says there was "was, unsurprisingly, very little that was unexpected in President Bush’s speech this evening [in Brussels]. He talked much about the need to fight for freedom and democracy, in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe. He criticized Russia as strongly as he could." Here's more.

Here are more view from Bloggers
Bush Presses Europe to Back Middle East Democracy--By Life, Liberty and Property
The Irony of his Words--By Crashpoint-Politics
Spreading Liberty--By Dr. Sanity
The President In Europe--By Penraker
Reality Shift--The Watchers

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Is Bush and Rice Trying to Rebrand U.S. Image?

Let me be the first to say it: Condoleezza Rice may be in line for a Nobel Peace Prize," proclaimed Nancy E. Soderberg, a senior national security advisor in the Clinton administration, in a February 20, 2005 Los Angeles Times article headlined "A Second-Term Shift"? The author of "The Superpower Myth, the Use and Misuse of American Might" wrote:

As a critic of the Bush administration and a Democrat, I'm not a fan of Rice's record as national security advisor. But if her new rhetoric means a real second-term conversion, she may go down in history as one of the most successful secretaries of State ever.
Ms. Soderberg said "U.S. actions over the last four years have been driven by Rice and colleagues who believe that as the lone superpower, the United States is powerful enough to act whenever and wherever it wants, primarily through military means. That costly myth has made the superpower burden heavier — and spiked anti-Americanism to unprecedented levels that, in turn, breed further terrorist attacks," she contends, adding: There are signs, however, that the administration may be abandoning this myth." Read more here. Here is a critique of Ms. Soderberg's perspective.

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Follow-up: Is Bush's European Trip Important to Top U.S. Bloggers?

After reading and linking to The Periscope's February 21, 2005 post that said there is "a dismal lack of coverage of [President] Bush's trip to Europe at top American blogs Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt and Daily Kos and Atrios, I e-mailed each blogger and asked if he planned to give much attention to the trip? I immediately received a response from Daily Kos and Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, the founder of Daily Kos. I'm still waiting to hear from the others.

The e-mail from Daily Kos said: "Probably not. Has anything happened on that trip worthy of mention?" An e-mail from Mr. Moulitsas asked:"Oh, and what the heck is "The Periscope"?

Meanwhile, Instapundit has posted links and commented on Mr. Bush's trip.

NOTE: The Daily Kos and the Moulitsas quotes were incorrectly attributed. They have been corrected.

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Pfaff's Opinion on 'Why Bush will fail in Europe'

William Pfaff, the Paris-based columnist who was once a staple in the Chicago Tribune, one of my hometown newspapers, told London Observer readers in a February 20, 2005 column Why Bush Will Fail in Europe. He asserted that "President George W. Bush arrives in Europe this week in the belief that the European Nato allies can be persuaded to 'turn away from the disagreements of the past' and open 'a new chapter' in transatlantic relations, as Condoleezza Rice, on her European trip, advised them to do. He is likely to go home without the concessions he wants." Mr. Pfaff added:

He wants more help from the Europeans in Iraq, Afghanistan, and probably in other places yet to be announced; European backing for American policy on Iran (and Syria and Israel/Palestine); and no European arms sales to China. Those are Washington's priorities. There is a further list of secondary issues, commercial as well as political.
Mr. Pfaff predicted:
His trip will fail because he and his administration do not understand what really divides most continental European governments from the United States today. At the same time, Europeans are mostly unwilling to confront these issues, because of the trouble with Washington they imply. But, unacknowledged or not, they count.
While European leaders have been cordial to Mr. Bush, thus far, his speeches are unlikely to produce any substantive changes in posture on either side. The differences are too great, and there is an imbalance of global power between the U.S. and Europe. In addition, France and Germany are unlikely to play a submissive role in the mold of England under Prime Minister Tony Blair. We saw them resist that role in the lead-up to the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which was launched in March 2003 in complete disregard to international public opinion. Sure, there will be customary announcements of agreements to work together on Iraq and other issues. However, I suspect it's mostly rhetoric. Such announcements are like aid pledges during disasters. If the aid doesn't come through, and often it doesn't, the promises were empty gestures designed to deflect criticims. I'll be surprised if this visit produces any diplomatic victories.

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Is Bush's European Trip Important to Top U.S. Bloggers?

The Periscope notes that there is "a dismal lack of coverage of [President] Bush's trip to Europe at top American blogs Instapundit and Hugh Hewitt and Daily Kos and Atrios. The Diplomatic Times Review thinks The Periscope is doing a great job covering Mr. Bush's European trip. This is where I visit for special coverage.

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Opinion.Telegraph: Bush is Self-Assured as He's Ever Been

Alec Russell of Opinion.Telegraph describes his February 18, 2005 interview with President George W. Bush. "With the double boost of the American and Iraqi elections behind him, Mr Bush is as self-assured as he has ever been," Mr. Russell said in his February 21, 2005 column.

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Gary Younge of The Guardian 'We Cannot Vote Labor'

In his February 21, 2005 column headlined "We cannot vote Labour," Gary Younge of The Guardian of London states that "The closest the Bush administration ever got to expressing regret for invading Iraq on false pretenses was a comment from the former U.S. secretary of state, Colin Powell. "The absence of a stockpile changes the political calculus," he said. "It changes the answer you get." Mr. Younge added:

Assuming that President George Bush's question was "Colin, what pretext should we adopt for bombing a sovereign, oil-rich nation so that we can steal its resources and humiliate its people", then Powell may have a point. Coming from Bush, the political representative of global capital, armed to the teeth and unfettered by international law, this would be a reasonable line of questioning. It is not to the tastes of most of the international community. But it is in keeping with the traditions that give his party and his platform meaning.
Mr. Younge said "from Tony Blair, however, one might have expected something different," noting:
As the political representative of a movement founded on the principles of international solidarity and equality, a Labour leader might have chosen a different path. Sadly, Blair's political calculus was faulty long before the first shot was fired. He decided that since the US was hellbent on having a fight and would undoubtedly win, the best thing Britain could do was not try to stop it but offer to hold its coat. He calculated that the security council would authorise the invasion; that the invaders would be greeted warmly; that they would find weapons of mass destruction; that all military opposition would be crushed quickly; and that he would emerge unambiguously victorious.
Here is more of "We cannot vote Labour."

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February 20, 2005

Time Says U.S. Negotiating With Sunni Resistance in Iraq

"U.S. diplomats and intelligence officers are conducting secret talks with Iraq's Sunni insurgents on ways to end fighting there, Time magazine has reported, citing Pentagon and other sources," according to Reuters. This should not surprise anyone. Governments always secretly negotiate with those they vow never to hold talks with, if the opposition cannot be easily defeated.

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The Washington Diplomat Reviews 'Diplomacy'

Alan B. Nichols, a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat, has a great review of the board game Diplomacy in the February issue of The Diplomat. He writes:

Created in 1959 by Allan B. Calhamer of Chicago, who designed the game while attending Harvard Law School, Diplomacy is the rage of a very small but dedicated group of game enthusiasts. Not designed for the impatient, a typical face-to-face game can take anywhere from six to 12 hours, depending on the rules adopted by each set of players. There are also mail and Internet versions that can last up to a year or even longer.

The game is quite popular in selected regions of the United States and in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil and South Africa. In addition to the many informal games, hobbyists often form informal societies that promote information exchanges among members and sponsor tournaments. The Potomac Tea & Knife Society, a 50-member group based in the Washington area, sponsors an annual local tournament and will be the host of this year’s World Diplomacy championship, to be held in Washington, D.C., in July.

"What fascinates these enthusiasts?" Mr. Nichols asks. He said "the Web site of the manufacturers (a Hasbro subsidiary) touts its attractions this way: "Trust and treachery are the entertaining ingredients in this Game of International Intrigue…. Cunning, deceit and betrayal [are] just a few of the charming qualities you will need to succeed at Diplomacy." I found Mr. Nichols' article fascinating and highly recommend it. Read it here. I have The Diplomat in my favorites folder and read it often. It provides interesting interviews and insights into the Washington Diplomatic corp.

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Blogger Tells Why He Removed Article 'Disarray in Syrian Rank...'

Joshua Landis, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma and proprietor of the very informative blog Syria Comment, took down his "article "Disarray in Syrian Ranks Leads to Crisis" because a number of Syrian friends here said that "everyone was talking about it" including among university political science departments and that it could cause me trouble.

"More to the point,he added, "some friends believe that it could cause them trouble as well, perhaps earning them a visit to ask about their relationship to me. At worst, I would be asked to leave Syria, but even my wife was anxious and pointed out that it could have repercussions for the family." According to the University of Oklahoma's website, Mr. Lanidis is on leave during 2005 (January to December) and is a Fulbright Scholar living in Damascus and Beirut.
Here's more of his candid rationale for removing the article.

NOTE: This post first appeared at The Diplomatic Times Review, one of my other blogs.

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Blogger Tells Why He Removed Article 'Disarray in Syrian Rank...'

Joshua Landis, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma and proprietor of the very informative blog Syria Comment, took down his "article "Disarray in Syrian Ranks Leads to Crisis" because a number of Syrian friends here said that "everyone was talking about it" including among university political science departments and that it could cause me trouble.

"More to the point,he added, "some friends believe that it could cause them trouble as well, perhaps earning them a visit to ask about their relationship to me. At worst, I would be asked to leave Syria, but even my wife was anxious and pointed out that it could have repercussions for the family." According to the University of Oklahoma's website, Mr. Lanidis is on leave during 2005 (January to December) and is a Fulbright Scholar living in Damascus and Beirut.
Here's more of his candid rationale for removing the article.

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As Expected, Syria Rejects U.S. Call for Lebanon Pullout

Hala Jaber of The Times Online of London, reporting from Damascus, the Syrian capital, said "Syria has defied American demands to withdraw its forces from Lebanon and to disarm Hezbollah militants, insisting that Israel must first pull out of the Golan Heights.

"The government in Damascus has been under growing pressure from Washington since last week’s assassination of Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese prime minister and forthright critic of Syria’s military presence in his country," the correspondent wrote, noting that "President George W. Bush recalled the U.S. ambassador to Syria and demanded an international investigation of the killing." The Bush Administration was seeking an pretext for going after Syria and this may be it. Read more here.

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President Bush in Brussels

The Periscope is covering President George W. Bush's visit to Europe this week. I like their coverage and intend to follow it. The blog reported today that "Various news outlets are reporting on the protests against Bush in Brussels, though they're somewhat smallish at only around 1,000 people (est.)."

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What is the Meaning of the Outcome of Spain's Vote on the EU?

The blog EU Referendum told its readers on February 20, 2005 in post headlined "The people have spoken... (not)" that "Provisional results in from the Spanish referendum give 79 percent to the "yes" campaign, with 16 percent voting "no" – according to an exit poll carried out by state television. Interestingly, about five percent of votes cast were blank. The blog added:

Hailed as an "overwhelming victory", the turnout paints a different picture, estimated at 41.5 percent. That means that just under a third of Spain's 35 million voters endorsed the constitution. For Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, this result is something of a rebuff. He had staked his reputation on a high turnout, looking for at least fifty percent to make the vote credible.
"In fact," Eu Referendum opined, "at four percentage points less than the turnout at the June Euro-elections, Zapatero's credibility has not exactly improved, especially as his pre-poll speech verged on the hysterical when he appealed to voters to participate with the words: "Today we are taking a decision of huge importance for the future of a united Europe. A very important decision for Spain, for its future and well-being."

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Deutsche Welle: Spain Says Resounding Yes to EU Constitution

Deutsche Welle of Germany reported February 20, 2005 that "Spaniards gave a strong seal of approval to the new European constitution in a Sunday [February 20, 2005] referendum, with four in five of those casting ballots backing the text, exit polls showed." The publication noted that:

More than 14 million people voted, lifting participation to 40-42 percent of the electorate, proving wrong analysts' forecasts which had feared a showing of below 40 percent. Around 11 million voted in favor of the constitution, which is designed to facilitate decision-making in the expanding European Union and which was approved by EU government leaders last year.
According to Deutsche Welle, "Spain was the first of 10 EU states who are called upon to give the proposed a seal of popular approval, with the remaining 15 member states of the bloc, including the largest nation, Germany, preferring parliamentary ratification. In theory at least, all 25 member states must back the constitution for it to take effect," Deutsche Welle said.

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Yushchenko Cranking up the Pressure Against Kuchma

A February 20, 2005 post at Kiev Ukraine News blog has an update on Ukranian affairs, written by "an American expat who has been living in Kiev for the last 13 years." The blog reports that "as Ukraine's ex-President Leonid Kuchma settles into a comfortable retirement, his future is in the hands of some of his fiercest political enemies, who accuse him of misdeeds ranging from corruption to ordering the murder of a journalist." The report continues:

President Viktor Yushchenko, sacked by Kuchma in acrimony as prime minister in 2000, is cranking up the pressure. He has unleashed his government to pick through sales of state property and alleged "insider" deals under the previous regime.

Even Kuchma's retirement package — fat pension, two cars, cook, maid and much more — is under investigation. Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, whom Kuchma once had thrown in jail, ordered the government to come up with a new, slimmed-down version.

Kiev Ukraine News blog said "the real specter haunting Kuchma's future is Heorhiy Gongadze." Click here to read why.

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MosNews.Com: Britain Offers to Help Russia in Chechnya

On February 17, 2005, MosNews.Com of Russia reported that "UK authorities have proposed that Russia make use of their experience in Northern Ireland as a solution to the Chechen problem, the British ambassador to Russia, Anthony Brenton, said on Thursday [February 17, 2005]."

“Our officials met their Russian counterparts ten days ago, and we have proposed to them that they use our experience in Chechnya,” Interfax news agency quoted the ambassador as saying," MosNews.Com noted. The Diplomatic Times Review learned of this proposal from the informative blog Chechnya.

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Helena Cobban on 'Lebanon: the Multi-track Version'

Helena Cobban, the editor and publisher of the always informative Just World News, has a highly recommended February 19, 2005 post headlined "Lebanon: the multi-track version." The tracks are:

"Track 1: The facts about the hideous killing of Rafiq Hariri. Track 2: The international "uproar" and rush to judgment. And then, the most fascinating track of all...Track 3: The birth of an inter-sectarian, nonviolent opposition movement in Lebanon. This is such great news!" she says about Track 3.Click here to read why.

Ms. Cobban's post should help readers understand some of the intricacies of Lebanese politics and the various factions that have vied for leadership in Lebanon for decades, if not centuries. I have read her work since the 1974, when she began working as a journalist in the Middle East. She was there from 1974 to 1981, and was last in Beirut "for just over two months" in "October, November, and a tiny part of December," 2004. For years, I've considered her and Eric Rouleau, the former French diplomat and Middle East correspondent for the French newspaper LeMonde, and now special correspondent for LeMonde Diplomatique, to be the most informed and authoritative western journalists reporting on and analyzing Middle East Affairs.

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February 19, 2005

Do Blogs Influence Debate in International Affairs?

Scholars Daniel W. Drezner and Henry Farrell raised an important question about blogs and international affairs in the November/December issue of Foreign Policy. The article, headlined "Web of Influence," asked: "Political scandals are one thing, but can the blogosphere influence global politics as well? Compared to other actors in world affairs—governments, international organizations, multinational corporations, and even nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)—blogs do not appear to be very powerful or visible," they wrote. "Even the most popular blog garners only a fraction of they Web traffic that major media outlets attract." They further noted:

According to the 2003 Pew Research Center for the People and the Press Internet Survey, only 4 percent of online Americans refer to blogs for information and opinions. The blogosphere has no central organization, and its participants have little ideological consensus. Indeed, an October 2003 survey of the blogosphere conducted by Perseus concluded that “the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life.” Blogging is almost exclusively a part-time, voluntary activity. The median income generated by a weblog is zero dollars. How then can a collection of decentralized, contrarian, and nonprofit Web sites possibly influence world politics?
Mr. Drezner and Mr. Farrell argue that "Blogs are becoming more influential because they affect the content of international media coverage." They recalled that "Journalism professor Todd Gitlin once noted that media frame reality through “principles of selection, emphasis, and presentation composed of little tacit theories about what exists, what happens, and what matters.” Increasingly, journalists and pundits take their cues about “what matters” in the world from weblogs," they wrote. "For salient topics in global affairs, the blogosphere functions as a rare combination of distributed expertise, real-time collective response to breaking news, and public-opinion barometer. What’s more," the scholars maintain, "a hierarchical structure has taken shape within the primordial chaos of cyberspace. A few elite blogs have emerged as aggregators of information and analysis, enabling media commentators to extract meaningful analysis and rely on blogs to help them interpret and predict political developments." Here's more of their thought-provoking opinion. I highly recommend it for anyone seeking a perspective on the influence, if any, that bloggers and new media have on shaping debates on international affairs.

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Link to U.S. Mission to EU Web Page

If you want to hear President George W. Bush's speech during the February 22, 2005 U.S.-European Union Summit in Brussels, visit the website of the U.S. Mission to the EU for instructions.

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Afro-Netizen Urges African-Americans to Blog

Blogger Christopher Rabb, who was "fortunate to be one of the 37 bloggers "credentialed" at the 2004 Democratic National Convention," is encouraging African-Americans to take advantage of what he calls "The grassroots communication tool of today's digital age." In a post at Afro-Netizen, headlined " Blogging While Black: An Afro-Netizen's Take on the Next Talking Drum , Mr. Rabb contends that:

blogging is inherently egalitarian and democratic because anyone – even those who are not tech-savvy – can set up their own weblog and wax philosophical within just minutes. And to do so is often of little expense, if not free (minus the value of your time, of course). Such blog platforms as Blogger.com, Blogspot.com, and TypePad.com are three of innumerable online sites that the curious neophyte can use to make their voices heard amidst an American media universe monopolized by essentially seven corporate behemoths.
"Moreover," he added, "a blog's endemic power comes not from its ability to generate revenues, but is derived from the will and capacity of its readers to coalesce around the sharing, mobilization and analysis of issues the more entrenched institutions do not address. Namely, the issues that have an overwhelming impact on the black community." Mr. Rabb is the founder of Afro-Netizen. I endorse his recommendation.

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When the Mainstream Media Fight's Back

CBS News.Com picked up blogger and radio host Hugh Hewitt's worth-reading Weekly Standard article on what Mr. Hewitt says is the mainstream media's eagerness "to divert attention from the incredible incompetence displayed in the handling of Eason Jordan's remarks before the Davos audience (and Jordan's November 2004 accusation that the U.S. military was torturing journalists)."

What has upset Mr. Hewitt is the" number of voices within the mainstream media" who "have argued that the credentials of bloggers are suspect. The most surprising of these attacks came in an unsigned editorial in the Wall Street Journal," he wrote. Click here to read why it was a surprise.

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TV News Gives Less Attention to Local Politics, Study Says

The Lear Center of the University of Southern California's revelation that "in the month leading up to Election Day 2004, viewers of local news in 11 media markets saw nearly four-and-a-half times more stories about the presidential campaign than they did stories about all other political races combined," is a sad testimony to how some local media outlets across the nation serve their audiences. The center said:

Only one-third of all campaign stories focused on issues. Ninety-two percent of the 4,333 regularly-scheduled half-hour news broadcasts studied contained no stories at all about local candidate races, which include campaigns for the U.S. House, state senate or assembly, mayor or city council, law enforcement posts, judgeships, education-related offices and regional and county offices.
The study says "Eight times more coverage went to stories about accidental injuries, and 12 times more coverage to sports and weather, than to coverage of all local races combined. Across the nation," the study noted, "local stations in all U.S. markets took in more than $1.6 billion in revenues from political advertising." See TV News Ignores Local Political Races.

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Why TNPO Wasn't Updated During the Last Three Days

The National Political Observer wasn't updated February 16, 17 and 18 because I was too tired to do so, after long days of trying to fulfill Freedom of Information Act requests for journalists here in Chicago. I'd attempt to update but often fell asleep at the keyboard. I hope today's post will make up for lost days. By the way, take a look at The Diplomatic Times Review, which I began publishing in 2003 at The Diplomatic Times.Com. That site is now a portal. The Review, which monitors news and commentary about diplomacy and international affairs, was converted to a blog for easy updating and to allow comments from readers.

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India Daily Sees a Strange Australian Link to Hariri Assassination

Was Syria really involved in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri?" asks India Daily in a though-provoking, February 19, 2005 article headlined "A strange Australian connection to Lebanese assassination – was Syria really involved?"

The article, written by a "staff reporter", says "The answer to this question took a strange bizarre turn as Lebanese authorities found some strange Australian connections." The paper added:

According to media reports, Lebanese authorities are searching for 12 Australian men in conjunction with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Lebanese Justice Minister Adnan Addoum said the suspects have Australian passports and that six of them took a flight to Australia shortly after the Feb. 14 explosion that killed al-Hariri and 16 others. Police found traces of explosives on the plane.
The publication said "two Australians tried to leave Lebanon after the incident and missed their flights. Interpol agreed to interrogate the suspects."

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Syria Comment: 'Syria Must Have a Place in the "New Middle East'

Joshua Landis at Syria Comment, in a February 19, 2005 post on Washington Post Foreign Service correspondent Scott Wilson's article headlined " Syria Likely to Defy Calls For Pullout From Lebanon:Reaction to Bombing Underlines Strategic Interest in Neighbor," offered this observation:

Scott Wilson has again written a very smart article on Syria's position in the region. Some see the Hariri assassination as a reason to completely isolate Syria. The call of the Syrian opposition in Washington, led by Farid Ghadry, for "regime change," is finding new adherents. This is a dangerous game, however, which will lead to America over-reaching in the region.

He noted that "European Ambassadors in Damascus still believe that Damascus needs to be given a stake in the "New Middle East" that Washington and others are trying to build. It was be (sic) cut into peace deals with Israel and the Syrian track needs to be restarted. Even if Syria is temporarily isolated, they note, its interests will not go away. It is better to accommodate Syria and draw it into regional plans, rather than put it to the wall." An astute observation that Washington should take into account. Here's more.

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Franjieh Opposes International Probe of the Assassination of Hariri

Suleiman Franjieh, Lebanon's minister of the interior, "has rejected all calls for an international investigation," into the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, "saying only that Swiss experts would be asked to assist a Lebanese team," according to Kim Ghattas, BBC News' Beirut correspondent.

The correspondent noted in a February 19, 2005 dispatch that "The U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, is sending a team of experts to Lebanon to investigate the killing...," adding: "The Lebanese authorities appear set for a serious stand-off with the international community."

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Syria Says it Won't Recall U.S. Ambassador Despite Tensions With U.S.

La Prensa, citing reports published February 18, 2005 in the Cairo, Egypt-based Arabic language Al Hayat newspaper, said "Syrian Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Walid Moalem asserted his country´s ambassador to the U.S would not be recalled for consultations" despite the Department of State's recall of Margaret Scobey, U.S. Ambassador to Syria, for "imminent consultations in Washington" following the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri.

"We will not recall our ambassador to the U.S. because I believe its diplomat will brief North American authorities on the principles Syria defends," noted Mr. Moalem, four days following" Ms. Scobey's recall, according to La Prensa. Read more here.

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The 'Deal on Wheels' and India-Pakistan Relations?

Abbas Rashid, described by the Daily Times of Pakistan as "a freelance journalist and political analyst whose career has included editorial positions in various Pakistani newspapers, noted February 19, 2005, that:

The bus is about ready to roll between Muzaffarabad [Pakistan] and Srinagar [Kashmir]. The foreign ministers of Pakistan and India, Khurshid Kasuri and Natwar Singh, met in Islamabad on February 16, [2005] a little over a year after President Musharraf [of Pakistan] and former Prime Minister Vajpayee [of India] met in the same city on the sidelines of the last SAARC [South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation] summit, and formally announced the historic deal on wheels. It had been expected but then the proverbial last-minute glitch is never far from Pakistan-India negotiations.
Mr. Rashid added:
The atmospherics preceding the visit to Islamabad by the Indian foreign minister Nat war Singh had been less than upbeat. Given India’s refusal to stop work on the Baglihar Dam, Pakistan had decided to take the matter to the World Bank for resolution by a neutral expert even as India continued to insist that it could be resolved bilaterally. And, India had, at least for the time being, scuttled the SAARC summit by refusing to go to Dhaka, ostensibly in the light of the security situation there and events in neighbouring Nepal.

It was a relief then to finally have the two foreign ministers announce that the Muzaffarabad-Srinagar bus service will be operational by April 7, 2005. India agreed to drop its insistence on passengers carrying passports for intra-Kashmir travel across the Line of Control (LoC). Other issues aside, removing the conditionality of passports will certainly enable many Kashmiris who do not possess one to travel across the LOC to visit families and friends on the basis of a travel permit to be issued by local authorities after due identification.

Here's more of Mr. Rashid's analysis of efforts to use a bus routes between India and Pakistan to improve relations.

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Why Georgian-Russian Relations Remain Strained

The Messenger, "Georgia's English language daily," said, "On coming to power the post Rose Revolution government [in Georgia] highlighted three initial directions in its foreign policy: to become a member of the European Union; to deepen its partnership with the United States; and to normalize relations with Russia.

"Unfortunately," the publication said in a February 17, 2005 analysis, "it seems impossible to achieve the third while at the same time pursuing the first two goals, as Russia is not prepared to have good relations with a neighboring country bent on EU membership and working closely with the United States." Here's more of The Messenger's analysis.

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China: Sanctions and Pressure at Every Turn Complicates Problems

"When handling international relations, we propose not to use sanction and pressure at every turn, which usually complicate the situation instead of solving the problem," Kong Quan, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said at a regular press conference on February 17, 2005. He added:

We also stress on many occasions that the solution to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula can only be found through dialogue and negotiation, which is acceptable to all parties and in the interests of all parties. Any other choice does not help to solve the issue or maintain the peace and stability on the Peninsula, but only to complicate the issue.
He said "during his telephone talks with the U.S. State Secretary, the Russian Foreign Minister, the Japanese Foreign Minister and the ROK Foreign Minister respectively on February 12, 14 and 16, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing clarified China's position that China hoped all parties [concerned about North Korea's nuclear weapons program] to make joint efforts to ensure the early start of the Six-Party Talks by keeping self-restained and calm." Here is the transcript of Kong Quan's press conference as provided by China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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February 18, 2005

Japan´s Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense To Visit U.S.

Prensa Latina reported February 18, 2005 that Japan and the United States "are expected to strengthen their military alliance during a visit to Washington" on February 19, 2005 "by Nobutaka Machimura, Japan's minister of Foreign Affairs, and Defense Minister Yoshinori Ono. Mr. Machimura "will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and later both will attend a gathering of the bilateral Security Consulting Committee," La Prensa reported, adding: "This so-called "two-party" meeting" will be also attended by Mr. Ono and Donald Rumsfeld, his U.S counterpart.

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Foreign Dispatches' Take on the Assasination of Rafik Hariri

Foreign Dispatches has an interesting take on the recent assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. It's headlined "Who Killed Hariri?" Foreign Dispatches points the finger at Syria.

Since the assassination, I've wondered whether Syrian President Bashar al-Asad would be foolish enough to order the asassination. I have my doubts. I can, however, imagine Syrian intelligence involved in an operation of this nature.

I also think that if an anti-Syria Lebanese official or a foreign power wanted to induce the U.S. to attack Syria, or tighten sanctions as a means of forcing Syria out of Lebanon, all they'd have to do is assassinate a Lebanese leader. Fingers will automatically point to Syria. Finally, I, like most commentators, have no proof that Syria is guilty or innocent. At this stage, it's all speculation.

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On Sunday, Mr. Bush Goes to Europe

The Periscope, the "companion weblog to Euro-correspondent.com journalist network," is producing good coverage of President George W. Bush's upcoming visit to Europe. On February 17, 2005, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said Mr. Bush and Mrs. Bush will depart for Europe on February 20, 2005, "with stops in Belgium, Germany and the Slovak Republic." Here is a transcript of Mr. Hadley's briefing on the trip.

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Stopping The Chaos In Togo Without an Invasion

Elias Rick Ngwayah at The New Outpost has a warning to those calling on Ghana and Nigeria to invade Togo to "restore democracry" in that West African nation. He wrote:

Looking at recent events in West Africa, I think it would be a mistake for any one country or two countries to invade another country without the approval or mandate of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, and the United Nations. Despite our desire to see the constitution restored, it is crucially important that this be thought through thoroughly before any action is taken.
I totally agree with Mr. Ricks, a Liberian-American who lived through the first Liberian civil war and spent time in a U.N. refugee camp in Ghana. Here is more of "Stopping The Chaos In Togo."

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Diplomatic Pressure Forces Mr. Gnassingbe to Hold Elections

Faure Gnassingbe, the president of Togo, was installed in power by Togo's military following the death of his father, Gnassingbe Eyadema, on February 5, 2005. The act immediately drew international condemnation and some African leaders labeled it a coup. They demanded that Mr.Gnassingbe abide by the constitution, which was changed so he could become president. Now, after considerable diplomatic pressure and the threat of sanctions, he has relented and agreed to hold national elections within 60 days. On February 18, 2005, he said:

I have decided in the higher interests of the nation to continue the process of transition in line with the constitution of 1992 amended in December 2002 and organise the presidential election within the stipulated time of 60 days. The government will make the necessary arrangements to this effect. We heartily desire ECOWAS (Economic Community of West Africa) to accompany us in this electoral process."
Before Mr. Gnassingbe's decision, some opinion makers in Africa were calling on Ghana and Nigeria to invade Togo to "restore democracy." Hopefully, Mr. Gnassingbe's announcement will put this foolish notion to rest.

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Why Seoul and Washington Must Tend to Their Differences

Digital Chosunilbo of South Korea noted February 18, 2005 editorial that while "discussing South Korean aid to North Korea, U.S. Ambassador to Korea Christopher Hill, who heads the U.S. delegation to the six-party talks, said Friday [February 18, 2005] that while Korea and the U.S. didn't need to take the same action, they needed to take coordinated action." The publication also said, "Hill, who is likely the State Department's next under secretary in charge of East Asian and Pacific affairs, also said that even if the success of the six-party talks on Pyongyangs nuclear program was by no means assured, they would certainly consolidate the partnership between the other five participants." Here's more of the editorial.

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North Korea's U.N. Envoy Lists Conditions for Talks With U.S.

The North Korean paper Joong Ang daily reported February 18, 2005 that "North Korea's top diplomat said in a phone interview Thursday that Pyeongyang is willing to attend talks "in any form" over its nuclear arms program if the United States promises coexistence with the North and noninterference in its internal affairs, and if Pyeongyang can expect the talks to have "substantial outcomes in denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula and renouncing hostile U.S. policy."

The paper said "in an exclusive interview with the Joong-Ang Ilbo on Thursday (February 17, 2005, Washington time), Han Song-ryol, North Korea's ambassador to the United Nations, made it clear that he was stating the official position of the North's Foreign Ministry." Here's more.

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February 17, 2005

Bush Appoints Veteran of Dirty Wars to Lead US Spy Role

Ambassador "John Negroponte's nomination by President Bush yesterday [February 17, 2005]to be his chief of intelligence represents the pinnacle of rehabilitation for a man who, for many people, will always be associated with U.S. involvement in the "dirty wars" in Central America in the 1980s," Duncan Campbell, The Guardian's Washington correspondent noted in the February 18, 2005 issue of the widely-read British journal. Here's more. Here is an USA Today editorial on the appointment.

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Bush Calls for Diplomatic Solutions to Conflicts

Peter Baker reports in the February 18, 2005 issue of The Washington Post that "President Bush pressed Syria, Iran and North Korea yesterday [February 17, 2005] to live up to international commitments and reverse policies destabilizing their regions, but emphasized that he will seek diplomatic rather than military solutions to the escalating conflicts." The report added:

Bush carefully avoided provocative language and stressed his desire to work with European and Asian allies to isolate or persuade the three maverick countries to alter course, distinguishing the current standoffs from the confrontation that led to the U.S. invasion of Iraq two years ago.
It's my contention that, short of inviting the U.S. to occupy their territory, no gestures these nations make to appease the West will placate the neoconservatives driving U.S. foreign policy.

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Dobbins on 'Winning the Unwinnable War' in Iraq

James Dobbins, director of the International Security and Defense Policy Center at the Rand Corporation, maintains in the January/February 2005 edition of Foreign Affairs that, "The recent American presidential campaign has had the perverse effect of postponing any serious national debate on the future U.S. course in Iraq." He contends:

Electoral considerations placed a premium on consistency at the expense of common sense, with both candidates insisting that even with perfect hindsight they would have acted just as they did two years ago: going to war or voting to authorize doing so. The campaign also revealed the paucity of good options now before the United States. Keeping U.S. troops in Iraq will only provoke fiercer and more widespread resistance, but withdrawing them too soon could spark a civil war. The second administration of George W. Bush seems to be left with the choice between making things worse slowly or quickly.
If Mr. Dobbins had published his critique in a blog, instead of Foreign Affairs, he would probably come in for a swarming attack by some conservative bloggers for daring to suggest that the that the Bush Administration's military and political stragey will fail, if the U.S. remains in Iraq. But he is right, and no amount of wishful thinking will change the fact that the Administration will not win the war. Nor will the army it is training to serve as its proxy. That army likely contains many resistance fighters or their collaborators. If even if Iraqi officials invited the U.S. to remain in the country, U.S. troops will never be safe form the suicide bombers an assassins. There will always be some form of resistance and Iraqi nationalism will emerge over time. No Iraqi leader will long-enjoy the support of his people if he is seen as a puppet of a foreign government. Here is more of Iraq: Winning the Unwinnable War.

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The Evidence Isn't in Yet on Syria and the Assassination of Hariri

Gregory Djerejian of the increasingly influential Belgravia Dispatch "hopes that the young and relatively inexperienced Syrian President, Bashar Asad, would not have grotesquely miscalculated so as to allow his mukhabarat to be behind" the February 14, 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He wrote:

One cannot discount, for instance, that the assassination may have been the handiwork of other interests shrewdly attempting to create a crisis for Damascus. Or that al-Qaeda, acting indepedently, saw fit to kill Hariri for whatever reason. Commenters are invited to chime in with any theories or viewpoints on who may have been behind the vicious car bombing. Suffice it to say, however, that if the evidence ends up leading to Damascus the entire (already difficult) relationship between the U.S. and Syria will be thrown into real crisis. And rightly so. After all, it would be a poor time indeed, to say the least, for Syria to have stoked such potential instability in Lebanon--given also the potential implications for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Iraq, and, of course, throughout the Levant generally. Developing, as they say.
With constant threats from the Bush Administration, who claims that Syria is not doing enough to prevent Muslim fighters from entering Iraq to fight U.S. occupation forces, and Israel, who is constantly testing Mr. Asad, I find it difficult to believe that he would create conditions for an attack on Syria, or the tightening of sanctions. At this point, Syria is a convenient scapegoat because of its long occupation of a portion of Lebanon. Until there is concrete evidence that Syrian agents assassinated Mr. Hariri, on orders from the Syrian government, its anybody's guess as to who committed the crime.

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February 15, 2005

Journalist: Iraqi Media Network Became a CPA Mouthpiece

Don North,an independent journalist "who served as a U.S. government adviser to the Iraqi Media Network, said the network became an irrelevant mouthpiece for the U.S. Coalition Provisional Authority," according to the Associated Press (AP). The wire service said Mr. North "testified at a hearing of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, a party organization. Senator Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., head of the panel, said Democrats had asked Republican-led Senate committees to conduct hearings on U.S. waste and missteps in Iraq but the GOP chairmen refused." As a result of his testimony, Mr. North should probably prepare for an assault of his character. Here is the AP report.

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The Hill: 'Bush's Supplemental Aid Request Irks Some Conservatives

Jonathan Kaplan of The Hill reported February 15, 2005, that "President Bush sent his $81.9 billion supplemental spending request to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to lawmakers on Valentine’s Day, but some conservative House Republicans, and Democrats, are giving the plan the cold shoulder." Here's more of Mr. Kaplan's report.

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February 14, 2005

Anil Dash's Message to Political Bloggers

I agree with Six Apart Vice President and writer Anil Dash's February 14, 2005 commentary on the gloating some bloggers are doing over the February 11, 2005 resignation of former CNN news excecutive Eason Jordan. Some of the more aggressive bloggers targeted Mr. Jordan for a take down because he allegedly told an auidence at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switizerland, on January 27, 2005, that the U.S. military in Iraq had deiberately targeted and killed some journalists. Mr. Jordan had to backtrack when he was challenged because he could not substantiate his allegation.

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Kurdish Observer Article Points to Conflict Between Kurds and Turkomen

An article in the Kurdistan Observer by Adil Al-Baghdadi and headlined "Moment of Truth for un-Iraqi Turkoman Front" seems to point to the ethnic conflict that is likely to explode as a result of the Kurds' strong showing in the January 30, 2005 elections in Iraq. Clashes between the two groups could result in Turkey's intervention to save the Turkomen, if they are attacked.

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Should Ghana and Nigeria Invade Togo to Restore Democracy?

Ghana Home Page published an article on February 14, 2005 "in response to calls for Ghana to invade Togo to restore democracy. Better still," the paper said, "why can't Ghana and Nigeria agree to invade Togo and overthrow the recently installed Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema regime?" Read the publication's argument.

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Mainichi Daily News Interview Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski

Chiyako Sato, a correspondent in Mainichi Daily News of Japan's Washington Bureau, recently Interviewed Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981 about President George W. Bush's January 20, 2005, State of the Union address and it's implications. Asked if the influence of the Neocons would decline during Mr. Bush's second term, Mr. Brzezinski said:

You want everything kind of black and white and the world doesn't work that way. You know, he will go up, this will go down and when -- that will be your next question. But at least, there is now a group of people who have a different way of looking at the world, more pragmatic, tough minded, but able to recognize nuances and complexities and with experience in dealing with our allies. If we have no difficulties in foreign policy of course policy won't change if it's continuously successful. You know if Iraq is a wonderful success, if having a bigger war with Iran is going to be a great success, which I think is doubtful, then of course we will continue but if it becomes to be more difficult that new team will begin to influence events.
Here is a link to the interview.

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Dean May be Just What the Democrats Need

The Chicago Tribune, in an article republished in the Holland (Michigan) Sentinel, told its readers electing Howard Dean as Chairman of the Democratic Committee "may be a gamble. But don't be misled by the scream," the paper said. "He is a serious politician bidding to lead a Democratic comeback," Read more here.

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February 13, 2005

Jeff Jarvis Represented Bloggers Well on Reliable Sources

Jeff Jarvis at Buzz Machine did a great job on Howard Kurtz's Reliable Sources on CNN explaining the role of Bloggers in the resignation of CNN executive Eason Jordan on February 11, 2005. He also weighed in on the February 8, 2005 resignation of former White House correspondent Jeff Gannon of Talon News. Here is a transcipt of the February 13, 2005 edition of Reliable Sources.

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Tom Watson and Darryl Strawberry

Tom Watson has a great piece on former New York Mets player Darryl Strawberry who is rejoining the Mets as an instructor. Tom's article brought back many memories of players I had not thought of in years. The piece, The Straw Stirs, was a welcome diversion from politics. It revived old memories of watching one of the best baseball players to put on a uniform. I wish Mr. Strawberry well.

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'St. Louis' Old Ward System Has Lost clout'

St. Louis will hold its Democratic primary in March, 2005, "where voters in the overwhelmingly one-party city will effectively elect a new mayor, comptroller and half of the city's aldermen," noted Jo Mannies, political correspondent for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in a February 3, 2005 article headlined "Old ward system has lost clout in city politics." Mannes said "The April general election will be little more than a footnote, since no Republicans have filed for any office." A good glimpses at how citizens attempt to circumvent bossism.

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Student Columnist: Why Dean is Karl Rove's Worst Nightmare

Brad Levinson, who "was highly involved in the Howard Dean for America campaign" before going on to work on "the Kerry-Edwards campaign last summer and fall," opined in a February 11, 2005 column in The Triangle, the student newspaper of Drexel University:

I CAN HEAR IT coming. As Howard Dean locks up his bid for DNC Chairman this weekend, the Republican Noise Machine will surely crank out their message. "The only thing that's crazier than Howard Dean are the Democrats for making him their Chairman!" "They're so desperate, they went for the guy that screams!" As far as I'm concerned, the Democratic Party would be absolutely crazy to not elect Dean into such a position. This week, I seek to lay out exactly why Dean is Karl Rove's worst nightmare.
Mr. Levinson makes many valid points. Read more of "Dean Shows Promise as New DNC Chairman."

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The Blogosphere's Long Tail

I highly recommend Edward B. Driscoll, Jr.'s February 7, 2005 article at TechCentral Station headlined "Chasing the Long Tail." It's about "the Blogosphere's version of the long tail," which "is its stream of tens of thousands of little known and under-publicized weblogs. They exist underneath such household names as Glenn Reynolds and Andrew Sullivan, whose blogs can receive hundreds of thousands of visitors a week, and the lion's share of attention from big media (although Sullivan recently put his blog on hiatus), Mr. Driscoll wrote.

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'Why is Everyone Mad at the Mainstream Media?'

Nicholas Lehman has an insightful piece in The New Yorker headlined "Fear and Favor: Why is everyone mad at the mainstream media? "

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Virginia's Tim Kaine May Get the Daschle Treatment

John Behan, the pseudonymous proprietor of the very interesting Commonwealth Conservative of Virginia, provided a glimpse of what's in store for Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine in an Augusta Free Press article headlined "The blogging of Daschle ...And why Tim Kaine might be next." Mr. Kaine wants to succeed Governor Mark Warner. But so does attorney general Jerry Kilgore, a Republican. Mr. Behan said in his February 7, 2005 article:

Already, an Old Dominion Blog Alliance has taken shape, led by Commonwealth Conservative (www.vaconservative.com). The ODBA has begun cutting through the spin coming from the campaigns, but the overarching goal is to identify the real Tim Kaine, not the prepackaged version of a candidate that he wants you to see.
He said "as was the case with [John]Thune in South Dakota (who defeated Senator Tom Daschle in the November 2004 election), Virginia's center-right bloggers are greatly aided by having a solid conservative, Jerry Kilgore, at the top of the ticket. Kilgore is an excellent candidate for those on Virginia's center-right to get behind, and the role of bloggers in the political process is to give ordinary citizens a voice," Mr. Behan added. "That doesn't just apply to conservatives: Anyone, from the left, right or center, is allowed to voice their opinion on the Commonwealth Conservative blog, and that opinion will never be censored for its political content." Mr. Behan ia "one of Virginia's 120 elected Commonwealth's attorneys. He describes himself as "the Internet's first elected blogger."

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Is Blog Government in Our Future?

Public CIO published an article by Blake Harris in its February 2005 issue called the "The Coming of blog.gov? " The article is thought-provoking and a recommended read.

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Carl Luna Describes the Political 'Battle Royale' Underway in San Diego

University of San Diego professor Carl Luna, in his February 11, 2005 "Observations on California Politics" column at SignOnSanDiego.Com, took a look at what he called the "battle Royale" being fought in San Diego between the City Attorney on one side and the mayor and the city council on the other. He wrote:

It is becoming a battle Royale. Indeed, civil (or uncivil) war itself is being waged at City Hall. (If this was the Ukraine tanks would already be surrounding 202 C Street.) The Royalists are the embattled Mayor and city council who, while they can’t agree on how to fully resolve the City’s financial crisis, all agree that they don’t want the rap for said financial crisis hung around their necks, either politically or legally. The Jacobins are lead by firebrand Mike Aguirre, determined to redefine the role of the City Attorney’s office and apply enough pressure on City Hall to force full disclosure on actions leading up to the current financial debacle..
He said "at stake are the financial security of the City of San Diego, the quality of life of its citizens, its reputation as America’s Finest (if dysfunctional) City, and more than a few political careers, Aguirre’s included." This is political intrigue at its best. Read more here.

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Becker and Posner Respond to Comments on Their Ideas on Social Security

On February 12, 2005, University of Chicago Nobel Prize winning economist Gary Becker and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner posted responses to their arguments on Social Security. On February 6, 2005, Mr. Becker posted a column at The Becker-Posner Blog headlined "Why I Support a Privatized Individual Account Social Security System." Mr. Posner's post was headlined "Social Security Reform." Their debate plus comments from their readers produced an interesting online exchange of ideas. I highly recommend their blog.

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Michael Barone on 'Blogoshere Politics'

Michael Barone, writing in the February 21, 2005 edition of U.S. News & World Report, said "Going into the 2004 election cycle, just about everyone said the Internet was going to change politics. But no one was sure how. Now we know.' He added:

The first signs of change came from the Howard Dean campaign. His campaign manager, Joe Trippi, used the Internet and meetup.com and moveon.org to identify and bring together Bush haters from all over the country and raise far more money than anyone expected. Dean rose to the top in the polls and amassed an E-mail list of 600,000 names.
Mr. Barone said "When Democratic voters dropped Dean as unelectable and embraced John Kerry as the most readily available instrument to beat George W. Bush, Kerry inherited Dean's Internet constituency. No one expected the Kerry campaign to raise more money than the Bush campaign. But it did, because of the Internet." Here's more.

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Wellington Webb: Howard Dean is Not 'Republican Lite'

Wellington Webb, a former three-term Denver mayor and an early supporter of former Vermont governor Howard Dean's presidential run, is quoted in a February 13, 2005 Knight Ridder article as saying that Democrats "need somebody that's a fighter, someone who will fight for this party."

He said that person is Howard Dean, who defeated all candidates, including Mr. Webb, for the right to chair the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Webb sought the job but ended his campaign on January 31, 2005 "after an influential group of state Democratic Party chairpeople overwhelming supported Dean, a 2004 presidential candidate who promises to rally the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party," according to Denver Post reporter Susan Greene.

Mr. Dean, chosen chariman on February 12, 2005, was "the first one to take on George Bush ... the first to energize the grass roots of our party ... the one who showed us how to raise money on the Internet," Mr. Webb said. He also said Mr. Dean was not "Republican Lite," according to Knight Ridder

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February 12, 2005

Tom Barry: Liberals and Neocons are Together Again

Whether you are a conservative, neocon, liberal, or independent, I highly recommend that you read Tom Barry's Liberals and Neocons: Together Again. In it, he explains the Project for the New American Century's global agenda for the second Bush Administration.

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Bialik: Polls on Donations Don't Tell the Whole Story

Carl Bialik, "the Numbers Guy," asked an important question in his February 11, 2005, column in The Wall Street Journal. "What proportion of American households donated to tsunami-relief efforts?" he asked, noting that " President Bill Clinton put the number at one-third in a television appearance during the Super Bowl telecast, and that stat was repeated in news reports."

"But," Mr. Bialik opined, "Americans likely haven't been quite as charitable as Mr. Clinton suggested. His figure appears to have been based on telephone surveys, and that's no way to measure charitable donations." Read more here. The article is quite revealing.

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Can Feingold's State Political Strenghts Translate Nationally?

Joel McNally of Milwaukee, who writes a weekly column for The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin, asked in a February 12, 2005 column "What are the chances" that Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's "political strengths could be translated nationally into a serious run for the presidency? They could be greater than they've been for any other state politician in history," he concluded. Read why the three-term Democrat may run for president. See also Feingold Sizes Up Presidential Race.

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Whether Elite Democrats Like it or Not, Howard Dean is Their Leader

Many Democratic Party leaders still don't want former Vermont Governor and Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean to lead the Democratic National Committee. However, their failure during the 2004 presidential election left them no choice but to elect him chairman after many state party leaders rejected the insiders and threw their support behind him.

Coming from the small state of Vermont, Mr. Dean is not an inside-the-beltway guy and is enough of a populist to appeal to many rural, small town democrats. He should also do well with urban democratic voters,independents and probably some republicans. Many young people seem to like him, and he's a proven fundraiser. He is not afraid to mix it up, something democrats haven't been too good at lately.

As Reuters reported February 12, 2005, many "activists, recovering from a stinging November election loss and a fresh round of soul-searching, rallied around" Mr. Dean on Friday [February 11, 2005] and promised a grass-roots drive to make the party competitive in the South, Midwest and Mountain>" That's what it's going to take if the Democrats are to make a winning political comeback.

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Salon's Mary Walsh: 'If We Were Doing a Better Job...'

On February 9, 2005,David Talbot stepped down as editor-in-chief of Salon, one of the better web publications. His deputy, Joan Walsh, succeeded him in that position. Mediabistro’s David S. Hirschman interviewed Ms. Walsh on February 10, 2005. Among the questions asked in the interview, which was primarily about “the website's proposed redesign, and whether Salon will be the next web acquisition by a major media company," was this one about politics:

Mediabistro: As a left-leaning site that incorporates both news and opinions, what have been the major issues arising from George Bush's reelection? Some liberal commentators say the election was positive in that the second Bush term will provide ample fodder for essayists and pundits to riff on.

Walsh: I was depressed after the election that so many of us liberals, and many in the media, were surprised that Bush won. If we were doing our jobs better, we would have seen it coming. I think, though, there's plenty of room for smart critical coverage, both of the Bush administration and its hubristic overreaching on Social Security and Iraq and the deficit, as well as of the battle for the soul of the Democratic Party. I'm excited about the year ahead.

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MacKinnon Offers 'Final Thoughts' on the Eason Jordon 'Mess'

Rebecca MacKinnon at RConversation has some "final thoughts on this mess," meaning the Eason Jordan resignation. On February 11, 2005, she wrote:

I have been avoiding comment these last couple of days. I felt I had nothing further of substance to add since Wednesday morning. The resignation requires one final comment.

I think Eason Jordan resigned because he knew that if the Davos tape came out it would make the situation worse, not better.

I suggest reading Ms. MacKinnon's entire post. She makes important observations such as this one:"I am amazed that anybody in this day and age still expects a gathering of more than 10 people to remain off the record." This was prompted by "people involved with the World Economic Forum who think the WEF needs to completely re-think its media/blogging and on/off record policies."

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February 11, 2005

Bloggers, Journalists Should Answer Rony Abovitz's Questions

Rony Abovitz's February 3, 2005 article headlined "Journalists Killed in Iraq -The Core Issues" deserves considerably more attention and debate in the Blogosphere and in the mainstream media than it has gotten. Written after his return from the World Economic Forum (WEF)in Davos, Switzerland, where he broke the Eason Jordan story on January 28, 2005 in Forum Blog.org--The World Economic Forum Blog, Mr. Abovitz asked these important question, among others:

Is this the Boston Tea Party of major media? Maybe in a small way. Yes, I am asking some seriously difficult questions, but they do need answers. Is it wrong to ask for the accountability of major news media and their leadership? Aren't we also all disturbed at the prospect of Eason being correct about the targeting of journalists, including those journalists now in Iraq, or on their way there? If I were going to cover the news in Iraq, I would have no idea what to think or expect at this point
I think bloggers and mainstream journalists should try to answer Mr. Abovitz's questions, especially the one about the the "prospect of Eason being correct about the targeting of journalists, including those journalists now in Iraq, or on their way there." Just as some congressmen, bloggers and journalists are asking WEF and CNN for a tape and/or transcript of what Mr. Jordan said in Davos, we should also ask for an investigation into whether or not independent journalists in Iraq are targeted because they are not embedded with the military. It should go deeper than the military's investigation into its shelling of the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad on April 8, 2003. Three journalist staying there were killed. The military claimed it had been fired on from the hotel. Some observers say the resistance and U.S. occupation forces both are responsible for the deaths of journalists.

Some will argue that such an investigation would be unpatriotic and border on treason. That's their right. However, the response to that is: What's unpatriotic about the truth? If independent journalists aren't being deliberately targeted, then the military will be exonerated, and Eason Jordan would have been proven to be a liar. If it's true, Mr. Jordan will be exonerated.

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Who Will Provide the Best Coverage of Eason Jordan's Resignation

Bloggers began their coverage of the Eason Jordan resignation shortly after word spread that he had resigned. Techorati had "61 posts matching Eason Jordan Resigns" when this was posted. However, there are likely many more posts up on the subject. Here is a look at what some of the well-known bloggers are saying.

I predict that Jay Rosen of PressThink will provide the best and most sober coverage. He has an interesting post up.

I also expect Robert Cox at The National Debate to cover the story thoroughly. At this point, this is all he has said: "WOW! WOW! WOW! Eason Jordan resigns.I guess this means he really said it.Who's next?"

Jeff Jarvis' BuzzMachine is making a a valuable contribution. When Mr. Jarvis stays away from adjectives, he's really good.

Brian Stelzer at TVNewser has good coverage and will continue to as long as the story plays out.

Jim Romenesko, who lives just north of Chicago in Evanston, IL, has an AP story up at Romenesko. I expect a lot of mainstream journalists to weign in at his site.

Joel Achenbach at Achenblog hadn't posted anyting when this post went up.

Mickey Kaus has a post at Slate headlined Eason Down the Road.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit wrote: "I think that Jordan could have quickly defused this by just saying "I screwed up," but -- as with Trent Lott -- he waited days while hiding behind a lame and unpersuasive explanation. He should have read this, and other people who might be in his position should do the same."

La Shawn Barber at La Shawn Barber's Corner has weighed in. So far, she's not gloating and that's good. If she does, La Shawn Barber, Exposed will report it.

Dan Gillmor at Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism, Etc. hadn't commented of the Jordan resignation at posting time.

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CNN's Eason Jordan Steps Down, Watch Some Bloggers Gloat

CNN reported on February 11, 2005, at 8:19 p.m. eastern standard time, that "CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan resigned... saying the controversy over his remarks about the deaths of journalists in Iraq threatened to tarnish the network he helped build." Read the CNN post here. Now, the gloating will begin among bloggers who called for Mr. Eason's head after he stated at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, on January 28, 2005, that he knew of 12 journalists that the U.S. military in Iraq had deliberately targeted and killed. He could not support his charge with evidence. The story was broken by Rony Abovitz. He reported it in Forumblog.org - The World Economic Forum Weblog at 2:21 a.m. on January 28, 2005. The article was headlined "Do U.S. Troops Target Journalists in Iraq?"

If Forumblog's logs are correct, I initiated the discussion on the Jordan story at Forumblog by making the first response to the Abovitz post on January 28, 2005, at 4:50 a.m. central time. Here's what I wrote:

The Forumblog.org post on the question: Do U.S. Troops Target Journalists in Iraq? did a good job of conveying the reactions of some Americans attending the forum where the question was raised and discussed.

Eason Jordan's statement should not surprise anyone since the question of whether U.S. troops in Iraq deliberately targeted journalists has been raised in the U.S. and abroad. I put it, or a variation of it, in Google and came up with many instances where the question was raised. We Americans delude ourselves when we think that only the other guy's troops kill journalists or torture prisoners. When we are hit with the evidence, we say the killings and espisodes of torture must have been committed by rogue elements among us. Unfortunately, that's not the way many non-Americans see it. Finally keep the interesting posts coming.

My post elicited some criticism, which is ok with me. Issues such as these should be researched,debated and mulled over until we get the truth.

It appears that the first trackback to the Abovitz's post on Mr. Jordan came from The National Political Observer and The Foreign News Observer, which I publish.

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Democrats Abroad Japan Endorses Dean

USAbroad.Org reported February 11, 2005, that "Democrats Abroad Japan (DAJ) has officially endorsed Gov. Howard Dean for the position of Chair of the Democratic National Committee, the group announced yesterday. "DAJ members followed the DNC Chair campaign with a record level of intensity," the blog reported. "In January, after our monthly meeting, a number of members asked the Chairs for the opportunity to show official support of Gov. Dean. DAJ polled the membership, and the results were overwhelmingly in his favor," the group said, according to USAbroad.Org. Here's more.

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Do People Tell Pollsters the Truth?

Mystery Pollster reported February 11, 2005 that on February 10 he "talked to two junior high school students doing a school project on political polling. One of their questions was," he wrote, "Do people tell the truth when they answer poll questions?" He said, "The answer is, they usually do though there may be times when they do not, especially when the question asks about something that might create embarrassment or what social scientists call "social discomfort." If you did not vote, for example, you might be reluctant to admit that to a stranger."

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Waiting for Deep Throat to Die

Blogger Tom Watson says "The well-worn Watergate saga of Deep Throat, the shadowy insider source for Woodward and Bernstein, retains its fascination for one good reason: most secrets are not so well-kept. For this reason," Mr. Watson wrote, "I've never subscribed to conspiracy theories; human nature, my reporting experience tells me, always favors the moving lips and the clucking tongue. And yet 30 years on, Deep Throat retains his cloak of invisibility, known only to himself, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, and Ben Bradlee. Read Mr. Watson's entire post. He offers interesting observations on Deep Throat amid rumors the Watergate source is dying. Reportedly, Deep Throat's identity will be revealed after his death.

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Bloggers Keep the Eason Jordan Story Alive

New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, an important thinker in the new media movement, has an insightful post at PressThink headlined "Blog Storm Troopers or Pack Journalism at its Best?" It's primarily about the controversy swirling around CNN executive Eason Jordan. Some bloggers are calling for his resignation because he asserted at the 2005 Davos World Economic Forum, "during one of the discussions about the number of journalists killed in the Iraq War," that he knew of 12 journalists who had not only been killed by U.S. troops in Iraq, but they had in fact been targeted, according to blogger Rony Abovitz, who broke the story. "He repeated the assertion a few times, which seemed to win favor in parts of the audience (the anti-US crowd) and cause great strain on others," Avovitz wrote.

Mr. Rosen said "a good number of PressThink readers think I am in error for tracking the Eason Jordan story as closely as I have. By writing about the furor I am voting for it, and in some sense endorsing it, they say."

The give and take between Mr. Rosen and PressThink readers makes for delighful and reasoned debate, the kind I wish we could see on every controversial issue that some in the blogosphere latches on to with glee. Instead, we often get name calling and personal invective that serves to obscure, rather than highlight issues, simply because some of us want to force others to accept our opinion on controversial matters.

Meanwhile, if Forumblog's logs are correct, I initiated the discussion on the Jordan story at Forumblog: The World Economic Forum Blog by making the firstpost on January 28, 2005, at 4:50 a.m. central time. Here's what I wrote:

The Forumblog.org post on the question: Do U.S. Troops Target Journalists in Iraq? did a good job of conveying the reactions of some Americans attending the forum where the question was raised and discussed.

Eason Jordan's statement should not surprise anyone since the question of whether U.S. troops in Iraq deliberately targeted journalists has been raised in the U.S. and abroad. I put it, or a variation of it, in Google and came up with many instances where the question was raised. We Americans delude ourselves when we think that only the other guy's troops kill journalists or torture prisoners. When we are hit with the evidence, we say the killings and espisodes of torture must have been committed by rogue elements among us. Unfortunately, that's not the way many non-Americans see it. Finally keep the interesting posts coming.

My post elicited some criticism, which is ok with me. Issues such as these should be researched,debated and mulled over until we get the truth.

Finally, it appears that the first trackback to the Abovitz's post on Mr. Jordan came from The National Political Observer and The Foreign News Observer, which I publish.

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Gannon Story Getting Lots of Attention in the Blogosphere

When this item was posted today, Technorati listed 1,733 posts matching Jeff Gannon, the former Talon News reporter who, as Editor & Publisher noted February 10, 2005, "first gained attention several weeks ago when he asked a question at a presidential press conference that some in the press corps considered so friendly it might have been planted." Mr. Gannon resigned February 9, 2005.

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The Triangle Blogger Conference 2005 is Tomorrow

Ed Cone posted a reminder that The Triangle Blogger Conference 2005 is tomorrow, Saturday, February 12,[2005] from 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

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Gillmor Signs-on to Speak at Freedom to Connect Conference

Dan Gillmor at Dan Gillmor on Grassroots Journalism etc. reported February 11, 2005 that he "just signed on as a speaker at David Isenberg's Freedom to Connect conference in Washington late next month. In a section on freedom, I'm going to discuss freedom of the press, with specific reference to the promise of -- and challenges to -- grassroots journalism," he reported.

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The National Debate on 'KOSpocrisy'

Rober Cox at The National Debate asked this question in a February 11, 2005 post:

Does anyone else find it amusing that the leading liberal blogger, Kos. is among those leading the charge in attacking a guy for acquiring a press pass while writing for a partisan, advocacy web site?
Mr. Cox noted that, "this is the same Kos who, as Chris Nolan, noted showed up at a "Western DNC" event wearing a press pass and was credentialed at the DNC, right? Seems to me this is another "whose ox is getting gored" story."

I don't find it amusing that Kos would lead the charge no more than I would if conservative bloggers were doing the same thing. In fact, I expect both sides to seek an advantage, at the expense of the other, in the ongoing struggle for political and cultural dominance in the U.S. I suspect Kos is simply doing to a conservative journalist what was done to him a few weeks ago. This kind of tit-for-tat will continue as bloggers and journalists' cozy relationships with politicians for money and insider status are exposed.

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A Baby Boomer Comments on Social Security

My friend and colleague, Edward H Rynearson II, has some interesting thoughts at Suitopath.Com on President George W. Bush's Social Security plan. Although he comments with a lot more passion than I do, we need passionate voices on this issue. He says:

What is the real reason the neojerks cult is pressing for "Private Accounts". Here's my thought. As we baby boomers get closer to retirement age, our various financial agents will begin shifting our assets from risky stocks to safer bonds. This is going to create a huge out-flow of money from the stock market. Without buyers, the market could (the ellipses are Ed's). . . well . . . crash. So government money, borrowed from China/India (do we really have to pay them back?), will be used to create the in-flow to balance out the out-flow.
Ed said "the real question we should be asking ourselves is not how much money will we have for our retirement . . . the question should be . . . . what we will be able to buy/consume with the paper that is issued to us. Maybe we all get our 2,000 a month government allowance . . . maybe that buys a Big Mac and a morning in paper in the year 2018."

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February 10, 2005

Why Did the White House Give Joe Gannon a Pass?

Eric Boehlert, in a February 11, 2005 post at Salon, noted that, "before abruptly quitting his post this week as White House correspondent for the GOP-friendly group Talon News, Jeff Gannon enjoyed unfettered access to White House briefings.

He gained that access not by going through the normal full background check most journalists face when obtaining a "hard pass," the ultimate White House credential, but rather by getting day passes, which require only an abbreviated background check.
Mr.Boehlert said, "according to one current member of the White House press corps, Gannon was the only reporter to skirt the rules that way, obtaining daily passes month after month for nearly two years. "Why did the White House circumvent the process for him?" asks the White House reporter.

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Poland May Get $100 Million for Helping U.S. Occupy Iraq

President George W. Bush "is asking Congress to set up a $400 million fund to reward nations that have taken political and economic risks to join U.S.-led coalitions in Iraq and Afghanistan," according the Associated Press and other publications. A hundred million of that is expected to go to Poland, whose government and some businessmen viewed the Iraqi mission as a means to earn foreign exchange. The announcement was made following Polish president Aleksander Kwasniewski's February 9, 2005 visit to the White House. Here is a white House transcript of Mr. Bush and Mr.Kwasniewski's press conference following their meeting. The Sofia News Agency reported October 4, 2004 that "Poland will withdraw its troops from Iraq by the end of 2005." I wonder which domestic program's budget will be cut to pay the mercenary nations.

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February 9, 2005

Opinion: 'That's our West Africa'

Kofi Akosah-Sarpong of The Reporter, a West African publication, said in an article posted to the web February 9, 2005, that "The Togolese military's fast installation of President Gnassingbe Eyadema's son, Faure Gnassingbe, just a few hours after his father's death, once again, confirms the West African character - complex and turbulent, weak rule of law, weak civic virtues, fragile democracies, undercurrent of anarchic forces, flashes of dark spiritual practices, and prone to disorder." His opinion is worth reading.

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Simon: What Dean Should Do to Rebuild the Democratic Party

Harvard University student Samuel M. Simon, whose column appears in the Harvard Crimson on alternate Wednesdays, offers Democrats ideas for rebuilding the Democratic Party in a February 9, 2005 article headlined "Democracy for Democrats: What Howard Dean can and should do to rebuild the Democratic Party." It's good to see young people offering old foggies in the party leadership ideas. The question is: will they listen?

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Matthew Yglesias Discovers Peter Cuthbertson

Matthew Yglesias has discovered British Blogger Peter Cuthbertson, an undergraduate who publishes the increasingly influential Conservative Commentary, one of my favorite blogs. Mr. Yglesias posted an interesting comment on February 8, 2005, on Mr. Cuthbertson's February 4, 2005 post headlined "Why partisanship fades." In his post, Mr. Cuthbertson, who was responding to something Mr. Yglesias wrote, said:

Matthew Yglesias notes the tendency of those on both sides of America's political divide straightforwardly to dislike the Presidents of opposing parties while they are in office, but to come in the following decades to find much to appreciate about them.
Mr. Yglesias commented:
New-to-me blogger Peter Cuthbertson offer some thoughts on the phenomenon I noted a bit back of today's liberals to think rather better of yesterday's Republican presidents than did yesterday's liberals, and vice versa for conservative pundits and Democratic presidents. Peter thinks it's all about emotions -- people just can't gin up the same depth of feeling about past figures as they can about present ones.
"There's something to that," Mr. Yglesias added, "but I think there's more going on here. Fundamentally, I think what's at work is a general tendency of things to get better over time, which just winds up reflecting well on major historical figures from the past." An interesting point. Here's more of Mr. Yglesias' commentary. Mr. Cuthbertson and Mr. Yglesias are two young bloggers worth reading daily.

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Houston Chronicle: Time is Short for Bush's Long to-do List

The Houston Chronicle says "With much to do and little time, President Bush is pushing Congress for quick action on one of the most ambitious second-term agendas in modern presidential history. But whether he has enough clout and political capital to see it through remains an open question," writes Julie Mason and Gebe Martinez of the Chronicle's Washington Bureau. Here is a link to their February 8, 2005 report.

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Eric Olsen on 'Dr. Dean and the Democratic Machine'

Eric Olsen over at BlogCritics.Org stated in a February 08, 2005 post:

As an independent, I believe strongly in the checks and balances of the two party system and thusly don't like to see either party get too far down or up. I want elections, especially presidential elections, to be about the relative merits of the individuals running, not the relative efficacy of their respective parties.
He added: "And it is for these reasons that I am quite concerned about Howard Dean taking over as Democratic national chairman, a result that was ensured when his last rival, Timothy J. Roemer, a former congressman from Indiana, dropped out of the running." I wonder how many others have similar views about Mr. Dean? Read more of Mr. Olsen's post.

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Columnist: Is Dean the Best Medicine for Ailing Democrats?

Cragg Hines of the Houston Chronicle wrote on February 8, 2005, that "The opportunity for a searingly insightful column about the campaign for chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee is, alas, long gone. Unless Howard Dean has another cosmic fit before a camera and microphone in the next day or two, he will be elected to lead a party that essentially rejected his act a year ago." Here's more.

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Sunday Times: Stormin’ Marxist is Toast of the Neocons

The Sunday Times of London, in a February 6, 2005, article headlined Stormin’ is toast of the neocons," quotes "Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, whose Instapundit.com has become one of the most influential websites in American politics," as saying this about Marxist professor Norman Geras, who writes Norms blog:

He writes well, and what he writes makes sense. Unlike too many on the left these days, his moral sense hasn’t been obliterated by hostility towards the West in general and America in particular.
The Times said "despite his leanings," Mr. Geras "has praised President George W. Bush and says the invasion of Iraq was necessary to oust the tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein."

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The White Place: Isolation in Northwest Arkansas

This Arkansas Times article about an African-American family that moved to Rogers, Arkansas from Atlanta when the husband "was assigned to be the sales manager at Colgate-Palmolive’s Northwest Arkansas office, which deals mainly with Wal-Mart," is an interesting look at racial perceptions and isolation. The Times said "The 2000 Census counted 817 people out of a total population of 153,406 who classified themselves as “black or African American alone or in combination with one or more other races,” living in Benton County, Arkansas, where Rogers is located. "That amounts to 0.5 percent."

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Debating Social Security Requires Debate on U.S. Finances

Doug Thompson, a Fayetteville, Arkansas -based reporter and columnist for the Arkansas News Bureau and The Morning News, a Stephens Media Group publication, told his readers in a column headlined "Senators Pryor And Robinson" that,
"Debating Social Security will require a debate on the state of the federal government's finances. That debate is long overdue," he wrote. I agree.

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February 8, 2005

Is Edward's Preparing to Run for President in 2008?

Scott Shepard of Cox News Service reported February 07, 2005 that, "for the next two years," Senator John Edwards "will head a new nonpartisan center at the University of North Carolina to study ways to move more Americans from poverty to the middle class. He also will give a series of five public lectures at the university and be a guest teacher in the UNC (University of North Carolina) Law School, where he earned his law degree," Mr. Shepard wrote, hinting that Mr. Edwards is expected to be a contender in the 2008 presidential election. On February 5, 2005, he "addressed some of the most influential New Hampshire Democrats at a party fundraising dinner," according to Mr. Shepard

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Karl Rove Finally Given Deputy Chief of Staff Title

President George W. Bush's February 8, 2005 announcement that he has named Karl Rove "Assistant to the President, Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor" has been reported around the world. Some observers view Mr. Rove as the real architect of the Bush Administration. Authors James Moore and Wayne Slater called him "Bush's Brain." Read the White House Press release about the announcement.

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Reiss and Gallucci Respond to Selig Harrison

Mitchell B. Reiss and Robert L. Gallucci, writing in the March/April 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs, said

As individuals who have negotiated with North Korea and are well versed in the development of Pyongyang's nuclear programs through our service in the Clinton and Bush administrations, we feel compelled to comment on Selig Harrison's "Did North Korea Cheat?" (January/February 2005) in order to clarify a number of the misstatements and misunderstandings in Harrison's article.
"The most serious of his allegations," they contend, "are that the Bush administration has politicized the question of North Korea's uranium-enrichment program; that U.S. allies and partners in the six-party talks do not share Washington's assessment of that program; and that the enrichment program is somehow not central to resolving the nuclear challenge Pyongyang poses to its neighbors and the world." Read more here.

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February 7, 2005

Asahi.Com on 'Relations With Russia'

Asahi.Com contends in a February 8, 2005 opinion piece that, "2005 offers ideal chance to resolve outstanding issues" between Russia and Japan. Chief among those issues is Japan's "continuing drive for the return of the four islands [of the Kurile Island archipelago], which Tokyo claims are unlawfully occupied by Russia," Asahi said, adding:

Moscow, on the other hand, shows no sign of agreeing to return all the four islands , even though it repeatedly has expressed its intention to settle the territorial issue by handing over jurisdiction of Habomai and Shikotan on the basis of the 1956 Japan-Soviet Joint Declaration.
Read Asahi's opinion piece headlined "Relations with Russia."

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February 6, 2005

Anteon Reportedly Edits News for Southeast European Times

Anteon Corporation of Fairfax, Virginia, reportedly edits the reports of the fifty journalists contributing to the Pentagon's propoaganda website, The Southeast European Times, which is designed to influence public opinion in the Balkans, especially among young people.

Capitol Hill Blue reported February 5, 2005, that Air Force Lt. Col. Derek Kaufman, a European Command spokesman, said a second site, called Magharebia, is aimed at the Maghreb or western region of North Africa, which includes Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. It is is still in development and has not reached the stage of having paid correspondents," Mr. Kaufman reportedly said.

NOTE: This post first appeared at The Foreign News Observer.

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Fifty Journalists Said to Contribute to Pentagon Web Sites

Capitol Hill Blue in an aritcle headlined Pentagon Probes Military-Funded Propaganda Web Sites" offers interesting details on the Pentagon's use of professional journalists to produce content for Southeast European Times, which is aimed at Balkan audiences, and Magharebia "aimed at the Maghreb region of North Africa. Maghreb (the West) countries are Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. Magharebia is still in development and has not reached the stage of having paid correspondents, said Air Force Lt. Col. Derek Kaufman, a European Command spokesman," according to Capitol Hill Blue.

Capitol Hill Blue's report, which was prepared from staff and wire reports, said "about 50 paid correspondents contribute to Southeast European Times, including one American journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia." The website reported that "Air Force Maj. Sarah Strachan, a European Command spokesman, said many of the journalists work primarily for news organizations, although she said the details of those employers could not be provided for privacy reasons." Many more journalists will likely be exposed as being on the U.S. government payroll.

NOTE: This post first appeared at The Foreign News Observer, one of my other blogs.

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NDC of Ghana Says Togo's Military Should Follow Constitution

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) of Ghana, after expressing condolences to the family of Former Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, who died on February 5, 2005, said the Togolese military's quick installation of Mr. Eyadema's son in power despite rules of succession could lead to deeper divisions in the country.

"It is a move that may well set their country on the path of deeper divisions in their body politic, confusion and ultimate chaos, with dire geo-political consequences for the West African Sub-region," the NDC said. According to the Ghana Home Page, the NDC "called on the New Patriotic Party government to use its influence and leadership in ECOWAS to help the Togolese authorities to install constitutional and democratic governance in Togo." Read more here.

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February 5, 2005

Blog for America: Dean Gets Nod From Southern Black Democrats

Blog for America, reported February 5, 2005, that "Though it will not be formalized until a day before the actual vote for DNC Chair on February 12, the Conference of Southern Black Democrats have publicly declared that they support Governor Dean for DNC Chair." Read about it here.

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Cole and Goldberg Engage in Intellectual Sniping

InstaPundit's Glenn Reynolds offers at link to what he calls Jonah Goldberg vs. Juan Cole, with Justin Katz chiming in." Mr. Goldberg is a columnist for the National Review Online (NRO) and Mr. Cole is a professor of Modern Middle East and South Asian History at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Here is Mr. Goldberg's criticism of Mr. Cole, editor and publisher of Informed Comment, which provides some of the best analysis of Iraq I've ever read. Here is Mr. Cole's February 5, 2005 rejoinder. Here is a link to numerous blogs piling on Mr. Cole. He has infuriated some critics because he refuses to promote conservative orthodoxy on the Iraq war. Instead, he calls it as he sees it based on his years of studying Iraq and Islamic history, which is enhanced by his reported ability to speak Arabic and read Arabic publications.

NOTE: This post was first published at The Foreign News Observer.

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Salam Pax: Iraq's Election Was 'No 'Magic Pill'

Reuters correspondent Wendell Broere reported February 6, 2004 that "Salam Pax, the Baghdad Blogger whose bulletins from Baghdad during and after the war were read by thousands on the Internet, says it will take longer than Iraqis expected for their country to return back to normal" Mr. Pax said:

Since last January it's been kind of a downhill ride and I don't really think that these elections are suddenly going to be the 'magic pill' that suddenly makes everything OK."
Mr. Pax spoke with Reuters "at the Rotterdam film festival where the film "Baghdad
Blogger" is being shown." Read more here. Mr. Pax's blog is called "Where is Raed?"

NOTE: This post first published at The Foreign News Observer.

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Some Iraqi Sunni Leaders Offer to Help Write Constitution

Increasingly influential blogger Gregory Djerejian of The Belgravia Dispatch, says in a February 5, 2005 post that he "Can't say I'm surprised" by Washington Post correspondent Anthony Shahid's report that

Influential Sunni Arab leaders of a boycott of last Sunday's elections expressed a new willingness Friday to engage the coming Iraqi government and play a role in writing the constitution, in what may represent a strategic shift in thinking among mainstream anti-occupation groups.
"B.D. always thought most mainstream Sunni factions, even those boycotting (or threatening to boycott), would end up playing (mostly constructive) ball," he wrote. "It's still to early to make any definitive conclusions, but such a peeling away of moderate to nationalist Sunnis from the ranks of the extremists will lend yet another defeat to the ranks of the Baathist restorationists, assorted jihadists, and Zarqawi and Co. terrorists." I wouldn't get too excited by some Sunni leaders'alleged offer to help write Iraq's constitution. It's what one would expect from politicians. I'd want to infleunce it, too.

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February 4, 2005

Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's Resignation Offers

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, who has been under persistent attack in recent weeks from some of the neo-conservatives that advocated and got an invasion of Iraq, disclosed February 3, 2005 that he had offered President George W. Bush his resignation twice during the embarassing Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2004, according to The Associated Press and other publications. "He said he wanted the decision on his future to be placed in Bush's hands," Robert Burn's, the AP's military writer, noted in a February 3, 2005 dispatch.

Question: Why does Mr. Rumsfeld need Mr. Bush to tell him to resign? I think he was looking for assurance from his boss that he could stay on despite creating a situation that caused Mr.Bush considerable embarassment. Mr. Bush has said, among the many reasons he has given for invading and occupying Iraq, that the U.S. had liberated Iraqis from torture and human rights abuses.

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February 3, 2005

Masud Barzani: Kurdistan's Independence is Inevitable

Masud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said February 2, 2005, that "when the right time comes" the independence of Kurdistan "will become a reality. Self-determination is the natural right of our people, and they have the right to express their desires," he added. Read more here.

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February 2, 2005

Kenny Hulshof's Punishment

U.S. Representative Kenny Hulshof of Missouri has paid the price for crossing Representative Tom DeLay of Texas on an ethics issue during the 108th Congress. He was removed from his position as chairman of the House Ethics Committee and replaced by Washington Congressman Doc Hastings. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington criticized the move. Here's a St. Louis Post Dispatch article with background on the issue.

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Spinning the Iraqi Election

Howard Kurtz, who writes "Media Notes" for The Washington Post, noted February 1, 2005, that "From the moment the first Iraqis cast their ballots [on January 30, 2005], the administration's supporters and critics were out in force, pushing their preferred story line. True, no one knows yet who won, or how many Sunnis turned out despite boycott threats, and 45 people were killed in a matter of hours. But none of that could stop the message wars," he opined.

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Glaser: 'Newspaper Archives Not Ready for Open Web...Yet'

Mark Glaser, in a February 1, 2005 post at the Online Journalism Review, asks: Wouldn't it be great if Google searches brought up every past newspaper article?" Yes, it would, Mark. "But," he added, "publishers aren't interested in opening up old articles if it would hurt their value in lucrative after-market database sales." I agree. Here's more.

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February 1, 2005

Arkansas Democrats to Vote on Replacing State Chairman

Democrats in Arkansas will vote February 5, 2005 "on whether to replace their chairman of four years, Ron Oliver, with his young challenger, Jason Willett," according to John Brummett of the Arkansas News Bureau. Here's the full story.

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Democratic National Committee, Michigan Democrats Feuding

The Associated Press reported February 1, 2005 that "as Democrats continue to wrangle over what the party should look like to ensure victory in 2008, a fight has broken out between the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic officials [in Michigan] over how DNC money was spent on John Kerry's 2004 race in Michigan." Here's more.

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Can Lula da Silva Boost Brazil's Economy?

John over at Inside Europe: Iberian Notes makes interesting observations in a commentary on the National Review's Jay Nordlinger , who "is in Davos for the big hoo-haw wing-ding they're having" and "his take on our man [Luz Ignacio} Lula da Silva, who talks doctrinaire left and occasionally says something profoundly dumb, but has been behaving surprisingly sensibly regarding economic policy." John added:

I've always liked the theory that it took a guy who was seen by the Commies and by the American people as a real hardhead, Nixon, to get us out of Vietnam and open up relations with China. Some softy George McGovern type wouldn't be taken seriously by anyone, just as Jimmy Carter wasn't. Similarly, it took tough old Charles de Gaulle to get France out of Algeria. My guess is that it's going to be tough mean Ariel Sharon who makes the Palestinians an offer they can't refuse.
"Well," John wrote, "maybe a country like Brazil needs exactly the opposite approach. Lula is seen as a man of the people, and it may take a guy with his humanitarian lefty image to give Brazil's economy the "neoliberal" bitter medicine it needs more of." An interesting thought.

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Columnist Says Dean Will Be Next DNC Chairman

Chicago Sun-Times Columnist Michael Sneed wrote in her February 1, 2005 column that former presidential candidate Howard Dean "is not done. Sneed is told former presidential candidate Howard Dean, who is running hard to become the next Democratic Party chief, is gonna get the job ... despite recent reports his wild man "Yee-haw" antics strike fear in the hearts of Dem congressional establishment leaders," she wrote, adding:

Word is Dean has a big ally in [Chicago] Mayor [Richard M.] Daley , who likes him because he is an anti-Washington beltway guy who is thought of as an outsider. 'Dean is in frequent touch with Mayor Daley,' said a top Dem source. 'They admire each other.'"
Illinois' democratic party leaders backed Mr. Dean January 31, 2005 during the Association of State Democratic Chairs conference call. He got 56 votes to Donnie Fowler's 21.

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DemDaily.Com Has Good Coverage on DNC Chairmanship Race

DemDaily.Com has interesting and relevant information on the race for the Democratic National Committee chairmanship. See the January 31, 2005 post headlined "Momentum for Dean" and "Dean wins Endorsement of State Chairs." You may want to bookmark DemDaily.Com for future reference. It's very informative.

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