Running down the press:
Daily News: 'First look at wife of John Lennon slayer in decades - she says let me be'
Jesus Christ! I'd forgotten that Mark David Chapman was such a sicko/twisted Lennon wannabe that he had also married a woman of Japanese descent.
Post: 'ARK. ASSASSIN GUNS DOWN TOP CLINTON ALLY'
Congratulations to the Post for not only mentioning in the second paragraph that the shooter had just been fired from a Target store but also for showing the maturity not to hammer into readers that grim irony, as I am immaturely doing right now.
Post: 'COLOR BY NUMBERS: MAC GAINS MORE WHITES VS. OBAMA'
Good story, better head. The fourth graf is key:
McCain has closed the gap by padding his lead among whites, Southerners and white evangelical Christians.
At least that should make the rest of us whites feel better — that we're not quite as bad at acting on our institutionalized, internalized racist impulses.
Being upfront about race is something that much of the media is not doing. Witness this CNN story:
"McCain, Obama to address 'values voters' "
Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama plan to appear together Saturday at a minister-moderated forum held in a church as thousands of evangelicals plan to gather in the nation's capital to pressure both men move further to the right on social issues.
"Values voters" my shiny metal ass. The rest of us also vote our "values." These are white conservative Christians (99 percent of them), so call them that in the headlines. Christ, there are even political parties in Europe that use "Christian" in their names.
Newsday: 'Revealed: Julia Child was a U.S. spy in World War II'
This AP story is old news, but it does remind us why she seemed to have such mixed feelings about turkey.
Post: 'BRETT FEELIN' UP THE CREAK'
Clever hed on this:
The 38-year-old Favre - who turns 39 in October - had his fifth practice yesterday morning for the New York Jets, but he admitted his arm wasn't exactly feeling lively.
Brett Favre is one pro athlete who talks like a real person, unlike the platitudinous Derek Jeter, for example, or the former Giant blowhard Jeremy Shockey or the guarded-beyond-all-reason, high-paid choker Alex Rodriguez. Favre sez:
"I didn't throw the ball very well this morning, underthrew some throws. No pain, but I'm 38 years old. It's got to be fatigued a little bit. . . . I felt 38 today, I'm not going to lie to you."
In his case, he probably won't. A rare celebrity.
Times: 'In a Generation, Minorities May Be the U.S. Majority'
Warning to whitey: Your reign as The Man will end sooner than predicted. Sam Roberts reports:
The census calculates that by 2042, Americans who identify themselves as Hispanic, black, Asian, American Indian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander will together outnumber non-Hispanic whites. Four years ago, officials had projected the shift would come in 2050.
The British press doesn't whitewash this news with P.C. tentativeness. The BBC's lede, for example:
White people of European descent will no longer make up a majority of the US population by the year 2042 - eight years sooner than previous estimates.
The big change is among Hispanics and Asians whose share of the population is set to double to 30% and 9%.
The Times more subtly emits a red-alert tone:
“No other country has experienced such rapid racial and ethnic change,” said Mark Mather, a demographer with the Population Reference Bureau, a research organization in Washington.
Unless you're talking about the Cherokee Nation. In that previous monumental conflict in Georgia (even before Sherman's march), Andrew Jackson ethnically cleansed the Cherokees, herding them to the Ozarks along the Trail of Tears and replacing them with slaves and ballcap-wearing, NASCAR-loving rednecks.
Anyway, the Times just loves trend stories, and here's a trend in the Times itself: Just last week (as I noted on August 7), the paper blared "'Minorities Often a Majority of the Population Under 20' "
Next topic for the Times: How do we protect the Upper West Side from these Visigoths?
Human Rights Watch: 'High Toll from Attacks on Populated Areas'
Yes, NYC-based Human Rights Watch has an open bias as a Goody Two-Shoes, but also does some great reporting — unlike its better-known but stodgy fellow NGO Amnesty International — so why not include it in "the press"?
Mainstream international papers, like the Guardian (U.K.), have no problem giving HRW full credit when it breaks news stories. This morning the Guardian's Mark Tran notes:
Human Rights Watch provides the first independent confirmation that Georgian villages in South Ossetia have been looted and burned.
HRW is somewhat schizoid as a news source, because it always follows its great nuggets of news with predictable appeals to officials to stop the madness. For example, today it reports:
Forces on both sides in the conflict between Georgia and Russia appear to have killed and injured civilians through indiscriminate attacks, respectively, on the towns of Gori and Tskhinvali, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch expressed its deep concern over the apparently indiscriminate nature of the attacks that have taken such a toll on civilians.
Memo to HRW: Lose the second sentence, please, because your news reporting speaks for itself and you're clouding the impact of that reporting with that squishy, predictable statement of "deep concern." (I guess HRW feels it has to do that, but I ignore such statements of concern — who could disagree with such sentiments? — and take its reporting seriously. Keep reading this item and you'll see why.)
U.S. papers refuse to include HRW and like groups in their press club, but the Internet dissolves that separation because HRW's reports are as freely and directly available as news from other sources.
You may have forgotten — and the mainstream press has done nothing to help you remember — that HRW broke one of the most grim and explosive stories (so far) from the Iraq War.
Back in September 2005, HRW revealed that U.S. troops at Camp Mercury, outside Fallujah, proudly called themselves "Murderous Maniacs" as they tortured and beat up hapless Iraqi prisoners merely for sport — and in a highly sexualized way that was worse than at Abu Ghraib. As I wrote back then:
In a shocking new report, soldiers of the U.S. Army's 82nd Airborne reveal that they or their fellow soldiers routinely beat, tortured, stripped, humiliated, and starved Iraqi prisoners in 2003 and 2004 at a base near Fallujah, often breaking bones, either at the request of superiors or just to let off steam.
HRW wasn't guessing, nor was it chiding from its Fifth Avenue offices. It waded right in and talked to U.S. troops about it. From its own report, "Leadership Failure: Firsthand Accounts of Torture of Iraqi Detainees by the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division":
The accounts here suggest that the mistreatment of prisoners by the U.S. military is even more widespread than has been acknowledged to date, including among troops belonging to some of the best trained, most decorated, and highly respected units in the U.S. Army. They describe in vivid terms abusive interrogation techniques ordered by Military Intelligence personnel and known to superior officers. . . .
The torture of detainees reportedly was so widespread and accepted that it became a means of stress relief for soldiers.
Soldiers said they felt welcome to come to the PUC [Prisoner Under Control] tent on their off-hours to "Fuck a PUC" or "Smoke a PUC." "Fucking a PUC" referred to beating a detainee, while "Smoking a PUC" referred to forced physical exertion sometimes to the point of unconsciousness.
Three years later, HRW has made its own march into Georgia. So keep tabs on its reporting. For that matter, keep checking the Guardian's Georgia page.
NY Observer: 'Penguin Group Wins Rights to Steinbeck Novels'
Minor note on a major author, especially compared with Tony Ortega's unique yarn about Steinbeck and Mexican-American farmworkers in today's Voice: "John Steinbeck's Ghosts."
Times: 'Ruling Is a Victory for Supporters of Free Software'
John Markoff's piece about a court ruling in favor of open-source software is a little confusing, but the upshot is that a major pothole has been patched on our major transportation artery, the information highway.
Times: 'Conflict Narrows Oil Options for West'
In other transportation news: Good piece by Jad Mouawad about our latest loss in the centuries-old Great Game in Central Asia, and bad news for us SUV owners:
[E]nergy experts say that the hostilities between Russia and Georgia could threaten American plans to gain access to more of Central Asia’s energy resources at a time when booming demand in Asia and tight supplies helped push the price of oil to record highs.
Times: 'Downtowns Across the U.S. See Streetcars in Their Future'
Yet another transportation story.
Unfortunately, the Times blows this story by just briefly noting that cities and even small towns across the country had functioning streetcar lines until the mid 1950s, and not mentioning at all that it was the automobile lobby that killed them as it pressured pols to build the Interstate Highway System.
I don't blanch at this new development because when I was a kid in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, I depended on the kindness of streetcars. Public transit is a blessing, no matter how much my fellow straphangers grouse about the MTA and Long Island Rail Road.
Post: 'BIZMAN HAD A "LOT" OF NERVE'
Carolyn Salazar's lede is right to the point:
An enterprising squatter transformed a vacant Brooklyn lot into a thriving million-dollar business — an illegal parking lot and chop shop, prosecutors said yesterday.
Whereas powerful pol Shelly Silver is squatting like Jabba the Hutt on a vacant lot on the Lower East Side, as the Voice's Tom Robbins reports.
Daily News: 'Gloomy Gotti trip to Sunshine State'
The latest installment of news about the fading Italian-American Gangster Era. John Marzulli reports:
Junior is on the move.
John A. (Junior) Gotti, aka Bureau of Prisons inmate 00632-748, began his journey to Tampa Wednesday to be arraigned on racketeering and murder charges.
Who gives a shit?
Daily News: 'Elizabeth Edwards stayed with cheating husband John for children's sake'
A perfect example of how the Daily News almost always lags behind the Post in tabloidian terms. The lede:
An anguished Elizabeth Edwards decided to stay with her cheating husband because she is dying and worried about their two young children, her closest friend says.
Only five tabloidian buzzers: "anguished," "cheating," "dying, "worried," and "closest friend." Yesterday, I noted eight in a Post Edwards lede.