Shoe-Hurling Iraqi Becomes a Folk Hero
UPDATE: BAGHDAD — An Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President Bush and called him a dog became a huge celebrity in the Arab world and beyond on Monday, with many supporters exalting him for what they called a courageous act in the face of American arrogance about the war. MORE
CNN: An Iraqi television journalist hurled two shoes at President Bush on Sunday during a joint news conference Bush was holding with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki to mark the signing of a U.S.-Iraq security agreement. Bush had just finished his prepared remarks in which he said the security agreement was made possible by the U.S. surge of troops earlier this year, whhen the journalist, Muthathar al Zaidi pulled his shoes off and hurled them at the president. “This is a goodbye kiss, you dog,” Zaidi shouted. “This is from the widows, the orphans and those who were killed in Iraq.” Bush dodged the shoes and was not struck. Bodyguards quickly wrestled Zaidi to the floor and hauled him, kicking and screaming, from the room. Two other Iraqi journalists were briefly detained after one of them called Zaidi’s actions “courageous.” MORE
RELATED DOUCHEBAGGERY: Congress wanted to guarantee that the $700 billion financial bailout would limit the eye-popping pay of Wall Street executives, so lawmakers included a mechanism for reviewing executive compensation and penalizing firms that break the rules. But at the last minute, the Bush administration insisted on a one-sentence change to the provision, congressional aides said. The change stipulated that the penalty would apply only to firms that received bailout funds by selling troubled assets to the government in an auction, which was the way the Treasury Department had said it planned to use the money. Now, however, the small change looks more like a giant loophole, according to lawmakers and legal experts. In a reversal, the Bush administration has not used auctions for any of the $335 billion committed so far from the rescue package, nor does it plan to use them in the future. Lawmakers and legal experts say the change has effectively repealed the only enforcement mechanism in the law dealing with lavish pay for top executives. [via WASHINGTON POST]
DUCK, DUCK, BUSH: Still Winning Hearts And Minds
RELATED: On the eve of the invasion, as it began to dawn on a few officials that the price for rebuilding Iraq would be vastly greater than they had been told, the degree of miscalculation was illustrated in an encounter between Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, and Jay Garner, a retired lieutenant general who had hastily been named the chief of what would be a short-lived civilian authority called the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance. The history records how Mr. Garner presented Mr. Rumsfeld with several rebuilding plans, including one that would include projects across Iraq. “What do you think that’ll cost?” Mr. Rumsfeld asked of the more expansive plan. “I think it’s going to cost billions of dollars,” Mr. Garner said. “My friend,” Mr. Rumsfeld replied, “if you think we’re going to spend a billion dollars of our money over there, you are sadly mistaken.” MORE
MSNBC: Even if the U.S. exits Iraq within another three years, total direct and indirect costs to U.S. taxpayers will likely by more than $400 billion, and one estimate puts the total economic impact at up to $2 trillion.
THE GUARDIAN: An independent UK-based research group, calling itself the Iraq Body Count (IBC), collates all fatality reports in the media where there are two or more sources as well as figures from hospitals and other official sources. At least four household surveys have been done asking Iraqis to list the family members they have lost. The results have then been extrapolated to Iraq’s total population to give a nationwide estimate. The results range from just under 100,000 dead to well over a million.
THE GUARDIAN: Lieutenant General Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan during his time as head of US Central Command, once announced, “We don’t do body counts.” This blunt response to a question about civilian casualties was an attempt to distance George Bush’s wars from the disaster of Vietnam. One of the rituals of that earlier conflict was the daily announcement of how many Vietnamese fighters US forces had killed. It was supposed to convince a sceptical American public that victory was coming. But the “body count” concept sounded callous – and never more so than when it emerged that many of the alleged guerrilla dead were in fact women, children and other unarmed civilians.
Iraq was going to be different. The US would count its own dead (now close to 4,000), but the toll the war was taking on Iraqis was not a matter the Pentagon or any other US government department intended to quantify. Especially once Bush had declared “mission accomplished” on May 1 2003 – after that, every new Iraqi who died by violence would be a signal that the president was wrong, and would show that a war conducted in the name of humanitarian intervention was exacting a mounting humanitarian toll of its own.
But even though the Americans were not counting, people were dying, and every victim had a name and a family. Wedding parties were bombed by US planes, couples driving home at night were shot at checkpoints because they missed a flashlight warning them to stop, and hundreds of other unarmed civilians were killed for no legitimate cause. In just the last three weeks of April 2003, after Saddam’s statue and his regime were toppled, US forces killed at least 266 civilians – a pattern of overeager resort to fire which has continued to this day. MORE
SHOCKER: Google Admits Staff Meddles With Search Results, Drops Net Neutrality
THE REGISTER: Google this week admitted that its staff will pick and choose what appears in its search results. It’s a historic statement – and nobody has yet grasped its significance. Not so very long ago, Google disclaimed responsibility for its search results by explaining that these were chosen by a computer algorithm. The disclaimer lives on at Google News, where we are assured that: The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program. A few years ago, Google’s apparently unimpeachable objectivity got some people very excited, and technology utopians began to herald Google as the conduit for a new form of democracy. Google was only too pleased to encourage this view. It explained that its algorithm “relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value.” That Google was impartial was one of the articles of faith. For if Google was ever to be found to be applying subjective human judgment directly on the process, it would be akin to the voting machines being rigged. MORE
WALL STREET JOURNAL: The celebrated openness of the Internet — network providers are not supposed to give preferential treatment to any traffic — is quietly losing powerful defenders. Google Inc. has approached major cable and phone companies that carry Internet traffic with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Google has traditionally been one of the loudest advocates of equal network access for all content providers. At risk is a principle known as network neutrality: Cable and phone companies that operate the data pipelines are supposed to treat all traffic the same — nobody is supposed to jump the line. But phone and cable companies argue that Internet content providers should share in their network costs, particularly with Internet traffic growing by more than 50% annually, according to estimates. Carriers say that to keep up with surging traffic, driven mainly by the proliferation of online video, they need to boost revenue to upgrade their networks. MORE
GIGAOM: In response to an earlier story in The Wall Street Journal, Google offered a clarification and reaffirmed its stance on network neutrality and pointed out that it is not backing away from it. It has dismissed the WSJ story as confused. Instead, Google explained that the OpenEdge effort (the subject of the WSJ story) was a plan to peer its edge-caching devices directly with the network operators so that the users of those broadband carriers get faster access to Google and YouTube’s content. “Google has offered to “colocate” caching servers within broadband providers’ own facilities; this reduces the provider’s bandwidth costs since the same video wouldn’t have to be transmitted multiple times,” Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington telecom and media counsel, wrote on the company’s policy blog. He went on to say that all these colocation deals — done via projects like OpenEdge and Google Global Cache — are non-exclusive and “none of them require (or encourage) that Google traffic be treated with higher priority than other traffic. Despite the hyperbolic tone and confused claims in Monday’s Journal story, I want to be perfectly clear about one thing: Google remains strongly committed to the principle of net neutrality, and we will continue to work with policymakers in the years ahead to keep the Internet free and open.” MORE
- Barack Obama, speaking to Google employees about net neutrality
- Net neutrality advocacy video
- Al Gore, on net neutrality
- Lawrence Lessig, speaking at Stanford University
PATTISON AVE. FREEZEOUT: Phillies Quietly Cut Burrell Loose
DAILY NEWS: PAT BURRELL was asked to lead the Phillies’ triumphal parade down Broad Street. Then, nothing. After that the organization seemed content to allow him, like MacArthur’s old soldiers, to just fade away.Even while actively seeking his replacement, club officials never said out loud that they didn’t want their longest-tenured player back. Didn’t say they did, either. Just decided not to offer arbitration and went about the business of not having substantive discussions with the first overall draft pick in 1998, the leftfielder they once viewed as the face of their franchise.
It was a curiously anticlimactic end for the player who has hit more home runs for the Phillies than anybody but Mike Schmidt and Del Ennis, an end that finally came when the organization agreed to terms on a 3-year, $31.5 million contract with free agent Raul Ibanez, a deal expected to be formally announced this week. “I kind of had a feeling there was a strong possibility, you know, that I wasn’t in the cards,” Burrell said during a lengthy phone conversation over the weekend. “At the same time, I hadn’t heard anything from the team. MORE
PAINFUL: Kanye West Attempts To Sing On SNL