Saturday, August 07, 2004

Exudation of Optimism

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw told a BBC World Service interviewer who was asking too many questions about the excuses for going to war with Iraq to "fuck off." Sadly, the Beeb didn’t broadcast the words. Can’t find a transcript on their website, either. I guess they took his advice.

The American-appointed administration in Iraq bans Al Jazeera for 30 days, renewable, claiming it instigated violence (by reporting on it) and that it failed to show the "reality of political life," and should "readjust its policy agenda" during this time-out. While that certainly reflects the appointees, and of Arab governments which have also banned Al Jazeera (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, etc), I have to wonder whether they did it on their own, or at the instigation of the Americans. Bremer, Rumsfeld and Kimmit certainly would have loved to be able to get away with that (they could only "accidentally" bomb its offices, although they did try to get Qatar to clamp down), but now have plausible deniability. Here are some old posts of mine which mention the US’s verbal and sometimes literal war on Al Jazeera: 4/8/03, 6/15/03, 7/27/03, 4/13/04, 4/29/04.

Al Jazeera’s website, which has several details that, say, the NYT does not, notes that the closure did not have the legally required court order, and that thing about them adjusting their policy agenda is actually a piece of paper they have to sign before they will be allowed to reopen. And that the order followed remarks by Rumsfeld Friday in which he said that AJ and Al-Arabiyah "have persuaded an enormous fraction of the people that we’re there as an occupying force, which is a lie, that we are randomly killing innocent civilians, which is a lie. ... And they’ve persuaded a pile of people that what's happening is a terrible thing." Rummy also says that its reporters were paid by Saddam Hussein (who actually also banned the station). By the way, after those Abu Ghraib pictures, maybe Rummy shouldn’t be using the phrase "pile of people."

Is there actually a need for an "Anna Kournikova of chess"? After reading that story, I put that phrase into Google, quite frankly looking for pictures (which the Telegraph didn’t have) so I could judge for myself as part of my quite legitimate blogging duties, and it turns out there are actually a bunch of women (and girls) trying to be the Anna Kournikova of chess.

Headline (WaPo) that makes you too scared to actually read the story: "Ga. Town Torn Over Feelings for Wild Chickens."

Another WaPo headline: "Kerry Leads Bush in Exudation of Optimism." They probably make a salve for that.

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