- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
How Butler's Got a Bad Rap
For those who have wondered how butler's have been unfairly labeled
as likely murderers, here is the answer, courtesy of Wikipedia.org:
Mary Roberts Rinehart (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was an
American author and the source of the phrase "The butler did it."
Rinehart was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her father was a
frustrated inventor, and through her childhood, the family often had
financial problems. She was left-handed at a time when that was
considered inappropriate, and she was trained to use her right hand
instead. She married Dr. Stanley M. Rinehart in 1896. She died in
New York City, where she had been living for some time.
Rinehart wrote hundreds of short stories, poems, travelogues and
While many of her books were best-sellers, critics were most
appreciative of her murder mysteries.
The phrase "The butler did it", which has become a cliché, came from
Rinehart's novel The Door, in which the butler actually did do it,
although that exact phrase does not actually appear in the work.
Lindsay Lohan Admits Bulimia Battle
Wednesday Jan 04, 2006
By Jon Warech and Stephen M. Silverman
CREDIT: MARIO TESTINO EXCLUSIVELY FOR VANITY FAIR
While Lindsay Lohan, admitted to a Miami hospital Monday night after
suffering a severe asthma attack, is now "resting comfortably," an
explosive interview with the Mean Girls star hits newsstands
Wednesday and lifts the curtain on her self-confessed bulimia,
drug use and emotional wreckage over her relationships with her
volatile father and her first boyfriend, Wilmer Valderrama.
"I was making myself sick," Lohan, 19, admits to Vanity Fair
magazine, of her bulimia.
She credits Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels and head
writer Tina Fey with helping solve her eating disorder by staging an
intervention. "(They) sat me down, literally before I was going to
do (SNL), and they said, 'You need to take care of yourself. We care
about you too much, and we've seen too many people do this, and
you're talented,' and I just started bawling. I knew I had a problem
and I couldn't admit it."
Adds Lohan, "I saw that SNL after I did it. My arms were disgusting.
I had no arms."
The actress also says that she used drugs "a little," then quickly
adds: "I've gotten that out of my system. ... I don't want people to
think that I've done ... you know what I mean? It's kind of a sore
In her romantic life, she confesses to smothering Valderrama and
pushing their relationship to the brink because she didn't know who
else to go to with her problems, including those with her father,
currently serving jail time for assault on a family member.
Regarding reports of a relationship with Jared Leto, all she tells
Vanity Fair is, "We're great friends."
As for her current hospitalization, Lohan celebrated New Year's Eve
in Miami, hosting a party at Prive Nightclub when the asthma attack
occurred, said her publicist, Leslie Sloane. Sloane added that
Florida's humidity may have contributed to the condition of the
actress, who has suffered from asthma since childhood.
Lohan is set to begin shooting her new film, Chapter 27, in two
weeks. The movie, about John Lennon's killer Mark David Chapman,
stars Lohan as a Lennon fan who befriends Chapman (played by Leto)
just days before he assassinates the musician outside his New York
German media: U.S. prepares Iran strike
By MARTIN WALKER
WASHINGTON, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- The Bush administration is preparing
its NATO allies for a possible military strike against suspected
nuclear sites in Iran in the New Year, according to German media
reports, reinforcing similar earlier suggestions in the Turkish
The Berlin daily Der Tagesspiegel this week quoted "NATO
intelligence sources" who claimed that the NATO allies had been
informed that the United States is currently investigating all
possibilities of bringing the mullah-led regime into line, including
military options. This "all options are open" line has been
President George W Bush's publicly stated policy throughout the past
But the respected German weekly Der Spiegel notes "What is new here
is that Washington appears to be dispatching high-level officials to
prepare its allies for a possible attack rather than merely implying
the possibility as it has repeatedly done during the past year."
The German news agency DDP cited "Western security sources" to claim
that CIA Director Porter Goss asked Turkey's premier Recep Tayyip
Erdogan to provide political and logistic support for air strikes
against Iranian nuclear and military targets. Goss, who visited
Ankara and met Erdogan on Dec. 12, was also reported to have to have
asked for special cooperation from Turkish intelligence to help
prepare and monitor the operation.
The DDP report added that Goss had delivered to the Turkish prime
minister and his security aides a series of dossiers, one on the
latest status of Iran's nuclear development and another containing
intelligence on new links between Iran and al-Qaida.
DDP cited German security sources who added that the Turks had been
assured of a warning in advance if and when the military strikes
took place, and had also been given "a green light" to mount their
own attacks on the bases in Iran of the PKK, (Kurdish Workers
party), which Turkey sees as a separatist group responsible for
terrorist attacks inside Turkey.
Goss's visit to the Turkish capital followed the rising
international concern over recent statements by the new Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel should be "wiped off the
map," denying the existence of Holocaust, and suggesting that
Israel's Jewish population might be re-located to Europe.
In a December 23 report, the DDP agency quoted an anonymous
but "high-ranking German military official" telling their
reporter: "I would be very surprised if the Americans, in the mid-
term, didn't take advantage of the opportunity delivered by Tehran.
The Americans have to attack Iran before the country can develop
nuclear weapons. After that would be too late."
The DDP report also said that several friendly Arab governments,
including Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and Pakistan, had also been
informed in general terms that the Pentagon was preparing
contingency plans, including "the option of air strikes," in the
event of the new Iranian government precipitating a crisis.
Arab diplomatic sources have told United Press International that
they have been given no briefings on any policy change beyond
President Bush's "all option are open."
Bush's most recent such statement in public came on Aug. 13, during
an interview at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, when he told Israeli
TV: "As I say, all options are on the table. The use of force is the
last option for any president and, you know, we've used force in the
recent past to secure our country."
Other NATO sources have told United Press International that "all
this may be mood music, a way to step up the diplomatic pressure on
It is possible that leaks from NATO and German security sources are
part of a ploy to convince the Iranian government that the Americans
and their NATO allies are in dead earnest when they say a nuclear-
armed Iran would not be tolerated, and that Iran had better start
But the German media speculation about the supposed U.S. plans has
been fueled by a number of high-profile visits to Turkey this month,
including trips by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, by the CIA's
Porter Goss and by the FBI Director Robert Mueller, who also
delivered U.S. intelligence reports on Iranian backing for PKK
operations aimed against Turkey. There have also been some
significant Turkish visits to Washington, as reported by Der
"Two weeks ago, Yasar Buyukanit, the commander of the Turkish army
and probable future chief of staff of the country's armed forces,
flew to Washington. After the visit he made a statement that
relations between the Turkish army and the American army were once
again on an excellent footing," Der Spiegel reported Friday.
"Buyukanit's warm and fuzzy words, contrasted greatly with his past
statements that if the United States and the Kurds in northern Iraq
proved incapable of containing the PKK in the Kurd-dominated
northern part of the country and preventing it from attacking
Turkey, Buyukanit would march into northern Iraq himself," the
German weekly added.
The CIA Director's Dec. 12 call on the Turkish prime minister last
for over an hour, far longer than customary for a mere courtesy
call, and followed an even longer meeting with senior staff of MIT,
Turkish intelligence. The Turkish Daily Cumhuriyet reported on
December 13: "Goss also asked Ankara to be ready for a possible U.S.
air operation against Iran and Syria."
Der Spiegel noted Friday that the latest high-level visitor to the
Turkish premier was NATO Secretary-General Jaap De Hoop Scheffer.
This is not unusual, since Turkey is a member of NATO, but the
coincidence of these various trips prompted Spiegel to comment "the
number of American and NATO security officials heading to Ankara has
"In Berlin, the issue is largely being played down," Der Spiegel
reported Friday. "During his inaugural visit with U.S. Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Washington last week, the possibility
of a U.S. air strike against Iran 'had not been an issue,' for new
German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung, a Defense Ministry
spokesman told Spiegel."
The original story in the German press which provoked the wider
media furore was written for the DDP agency by a veteran reporter on
security and intelligence matters, Udo Ulfkotte, who has in the past
been criticized in the German media for being "too close to sources
at Germany's foreign intelligence agency, the BND"
At the same time, Ulfkotte has himself come under scrutiny by German
security services, and his home and offices have been repeatedly
searched in the course of inquiries into allegations that he had
published official secrets.
Fury over US mine 'rescue' fiasco
Families of 11 US miners found dead have expressed anger and
disbelief at communications failings which led them to believe their
loved ones were alive.
Relatives were celebrating a "miracle" before they were told only
one of the 12 West Virginia miners had survived. A 13th miner was
found dead earlier.
"There was no apology. There was no nothing," said Nick Helms, son
of dead miner Terry Helms.
The survivor, Randal McCloy Junior, 27, is still critically ill in
But doctors treating him say he is showing signs of brain
functioning. "We hope that we will try to awaken him later today or
tomorrow," Dr Larry Roberts of Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown
US President George W Bush said the nation was mourning the lost
"We send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to the loves ones
whose hearts are broken," Mr Bush said.
There were scenes of jubilation when families, gathered inside a
local church near the Sago Mine, were told of their menfolk's
Several US newspapers went to press with headlines such as "Miracle
in the Mine" and "Alive!".
Three hours later, joy gave way to grief and anger when mine
officials broke the terrible news. A witness said one relative
lunged for an official and had to be wrestled to the ground.
The families lost a loved one not just once, but twice
Elaine Willis, Charleston, West Virginia, USA
State troopers and an armed Swat team were posted alongside the road
by the church in the small town of Tallmansville near Buckhannon, in
case relatives' anger spilled over into violence.
"Everybody is stunned," said Sam Lands, the brother-in-law of miner
"I thought I was going to pass out. I couldn't believe it. We've
been lied to all along. We need answers."
Earlier, rescuers had found the body of a 13th miner left in a mine
cart some 3,000m (9,842ft) inside the mine, separate to the other
The company, International Coal Group (ICG), said it knew within 20
minutes that initial reports all the men had survived were
incorrect, but said it was not clear at that stage how many were
Ben Hatfield, president of ICG, said: "We are incredibly saddened by
the horrific loss."
The reversal left relatives who had gathered at the mine here
stunned and furious
New York Times
Under tough questioning at a press conference, he sought to explain
how the misunderstanding occurred.
Mr Hatfield said: "What happened is that through stray cellphone
conversations it appears that this miscommunication from the rescue
team underground to the command centre was picked up by various
"That information spread like wildfire because it had come from the
command centre but it was a bad information."
He said he believed the men had survived the explosion and gone to
what they thought was a safe area. They are then thought to have
been poisoned by toxic fumes.
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, who had earlier hailed the
rescue as a miracle, apologised for the mistaken information.
"I can't tell you of anything more heartwrenching that I have gone
through in my life," he said. The governor's own uncle had been
killed in a mine disaster in the state in 1968.
The cause of Monday's blast is not yet known.
The US Mine Safety and Health Administration is to hold an
investigation into the tragedy.
Acting Assistant Secretary David Dye said it would include "how
emergency information was relayed about the trapped miners'
from the January 04, 2006 edition
Abramoff deals, Congress quakes
In pleading guilty, the lobbyist agrees to help prosecutors nab
By Linda Feldmann and Gail Russell Chaddock
Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor
WASHINGTON - Washington's long-awaited "A-bomb" has gone off.
Super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff's guilty plea Tuesday to three felony
counts sets the stage for the biggest congressional scandal perhaps
in decades, certainly since the Republicans took over Congress 10
years ago, pledging clean government.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, in both the Washington case and a
separate Florida case in which he was indicted last year, Mr.
Abramoff will cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating
members of Congress, Capitol Hill aides, and other lobbyists.
Political players with ties to Abramoff and his network, who knew
the lobbyist was preparing to cut a deal, have been sweating for
months. Now they're sweating harder.
Though members of both parties are involved, analysts expect
Republicans - who control both houses of Congress - to bear the
brunt of the political fallout. Abramoff, who has close ties to
former House majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas, allegedly funneled
campaign donations to lawmakers, who were treated to lavish trips
and meals, in exchange for official acts.
"It could end some careers," says Jennifer Duffy, an analyst at the
non- partisan Cook Political report.
Stanley Brand, a Washington defense lawyer and former Democratic
counsel to the House, predicts at least six members of Congress and
at least as many staff will be convicted by the end of the year.
Besides Representative DeLay, who is already under indictment in
Texas, other members who are already battling allegations over their
associations with Abramoff include Sen. Conrad Burns (R) of Montana,
Rep. Bob Ney (R) of Ohio, and Rep. John Doolittle (R) of California.
Federal campaign records show that about 220 members of Congress
received some $1.7 million in political contributions from Abramoff
and his associates and clients, including American Indian tribes,
between 2001 and 2004. According to Bloomberg news service, 201 of
those members are still in Congress; Republicans received 64 percent
of that money.
Since the whiff of scandal began to emerge around Abramoff, members
have been rushing to return his contributions or donate the money to
charity. But not everyone who ever took Abramoff-related money or
perks is guilty of wrongdoing.
"It's not enough to take a campaign contribution," says Mr.
Brand. "What's criminal is accepting the contribution in return for
an express agreement to perform an official act. Beyond campaign
contributions, one can't accept bribes or gratuities of any kind in
return for official acts." Members of the executive branch may also
be implicated in the investigation, he says.
"The line between a bribe and a legal contribution is very thin, but
it is that line that keeps you out of jail," says Larry Noble,
executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. "The
critical element is whether there was an understanding or agreement
to take specific action in return for the money."
Abramoff joins former associate Michael Scanlon, former press
secretary to DeLay, as a witness for the prosecution. Mr. Scanlon
reached a plea deal last year, which raised the stakes for Abramoff.
The Department of Justice says the two men defrauded Indian tribes
they represented out of tens of millions of dollars.
In exchange for the guilty plea and cooperation, Abramoff would
probably get a reduced prison sentence. In the Washington case, he
faces a maximum of 10 years; in the Florida case, in which he is
pleading guilty to fraud and conspiracy in the purchase of a casino
cruise line, he could get as many as seven years.
"Up until now, I've said it will involve just a few members," says
Mr. Noble. "But if they've reached a plea agreement with Abramoff,
it means he's turned over people higher than him, and they must have
some pretty strong evidence.
The explosion of the Abramoff scandal also represents bad news for
the White House, just as President Bush is preparing for his Jan. 31
State of the Union speech - an effort to build on the momentum he
started last month, after a stumbling first year to his second term.
All of Washington is looking ahead to next November's midterm
elections, and whether Congress's low approval ratings and
Republican woes in particular can grow big enough to swing control
of one or both houses of Congress to the Democrats. Polls show that
so far, the Democrats' charge that Republicans have created
a "culture of corruption" has not seeped into public consciousness.
But, analysts say, the 2006 campaign has not started in earnest, and
it's too soon to say how the public is perceiving the corruption
"This will crowd out a lot of the news about the new Bush agenda,"
says Paul Light, a political scientist at New York
University. "He'll be going up to the Hill to present his agenda,
and meanwhile you have six, 12, 20 members desperately trying to
return money to Abramoff, and another bunch wondering how they will
look in an orange jump suit."
If the Bush White House tries to minimize the scandal, "it feeds the
view that Bush doesn't take ethics seriously," says Professor Light.
Last year, a top White House aide, I. Lewis Libby, was indicted in
the scandal surrounding the public revelation of a CIA agent's
For Congress as an institution, the Abramoff scandal reinforces
prevailing attitudes that are already set in stone, says Light, who
has studied the issue of trust in politics. "The American public has
become inured to congressional scandals, and as long as members are
bringing home enough pork, they basically say, a pox on both their
- Please send as far and wide as possible.
Editor, The Konformist
U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Reaches 3,000
Dec 31, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The death of a Texas soldier, announced Sunday
by the Pentagon, raised the number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq
to at least 3,000 since the war began, according to an Associated
The grim milestone was crossed on the final day of 2006 and at the
end of the deadliest month for the American military in Iraq in the
past 12 months. At least 111 U.S. service members were reported to
have died in December.
Spc. Dustin R. Donica, 22, of Spring, Texas, was killed Thursday by
small arms fire in Baghdad, the Defense Department said. Donica was
assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 509th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.
His death was not announced by U.S. military authorities in Baghdad.
At least 820 U.S. military personnel died in Iraq in 2006, according
to the AP count.
Kevin Federline, Wife Divorce
December 18, 2006 | Issue 4251
Celebrities and personal drama took center stage before a gossip-
hungry public this year, and perhaps none received more press than
superstar rapper Kevin Federline. So when his wife of two years
abruptly filed for divorce, the country took notice.
According to Federline's publicist, Marilyn Chang, the spouse, a 24-
year-old entertainer who worked as a singer and foreground dancer at
Federline performances before wedding him in 2004, presented
Federline with divorce papers on Nov. 7 citing irreconcilable
"K-Fed gave it his best, but in the end it just wasn't meant to be,"
said Chang of the reportedly tumultuous relationship between
Federline and his partner, whose vocal talents have been featured on
several pop and dance albums. "The good news is that this separation
might afford Kevin the opportunity to finally move on and grow as an
artist. This marriage was really slowing him down, and I think many
will agree with me when I say we want the old Kevin back."
Federline is seeking sole custody of his two sons, claiming his
estranged wife, a struggling actress who has appeared in soft-drink
commercials, is unfit to care for 1-year-old Sean Preston and 3-
month-old Jayden James.
"Kevin is a family man," Chang said. "He will do whatever is
necessary to protect his kids, and he will not be undermined by this
irresponsible hanger-on, who was only in the marriage to springboard
her own career."
Federline has two children from a previous relationship with Shar
Jackson, costar of the mid-90s UPN sitcom Moesha and a featured
player in the 1997 Nickelodeon feature Good Burger.
Boise State puts the BS in BCS
By Terry Bowden, Yahoo! Sports
January 2, 2007
I couldn't find one college football analyst or expert who picked
them. Who possibly could have predicted that Boise State, which
moved to Division I-A just a decade ago, could beat Oklahoma, the
team with the highest paid coach in college football (well, as of
Jan. 2), the best facilities, the best athletes, seven national
championships and arguably the best winning tradition anywhere?
But we all saw it on New Year's night; heck, we've probably seen it
a dozen times by now. And it was the most fun I've had watching a
college football game probably ever.
The Broncos finished their season with a 13-0 record, a Fiesta Bowl
trophy and absolutely no chance of being the national champions.
Boise could be the only undefeated team in the country on Jan. 9 (if
Ohio State loses to Florida), and they would watch the Gators
celebrate and wonder, along with a lot of us, "what if?"
And even if Ohio State caps a perfect season by beating the Gators,
we still are left with a pair of unbeaten teams. Sure, the Buckeyes
would be favored to dominate Boise State. But so were the Sooners.
Monday night's game was the biggest possible exclamation point at
the end of my season-long argument for a playoff in Division I-A
college football. I have explained how it could work with the
current bowl system and Bowl Championship Series rankings and even
tossed out the potential brackets.
I've presented my case for a playoff in articles with examples and
scenarios, and I think I've done a pretty dadgum good job of it. I
know that the more I have written and spoken about it, the stronger
I feel about it. It boils down to this: Writers and coaches with
their opinions, along with a bunch of computers with their
statistics, should not be deciding something that only can be
decided on the field.
That's exactly where Boise State proved the pro-playoff crowd's
point beyond a reasonable doubt, with absolutely irrefutable
No machine and no person can see into the hearts of the young men
who play college football or into the minds and guts of the men who
coach them. If they could have on Jan. 1, 2007, everyone, instead of
no one, would have picked the Boise State Broncos to beat Goliath.
Wouldn't it be great to see if they could do it again, with even
US 'licence to snoop' on British air travellers
By David Millward, Transport Correspondent
Air passengers face having credit card transactions and email
messages inspected by the American authorities
Britons flying to America could have their credit card and email
accounts inspected by the United States authorities following a deal
struck by Brussels and Washington.
By using a credit card to book a flight, passengers face having
other transactions on the card inspected by the American
authorities. Providing an email address to an airline could also
lead to scrutiny of other messages sent or received on that account.
The extent of the demands were disclosed in "undertakings" given by
the US Department of Homeland Security to the European Union and
published by the Department for Transport after a Freedom of
About four million Britons travel to America each year and the
released document shows that the US has demanded access to far more
data than previously realised.
advertisementNot only will such material be available when combating
terrorism but the Americans have asserted the right to the same
information when dealing with other serious crimes.
Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the human rights group Liberty,
expressed horror at the extent of the information made
available. "It is a complete handover of the rights of people
travelling to the United States," she said.
As the Americans tightened security after the September 11 attacks,
they demanded that airlines provide comprehensive information about
passengers before allowing them to land.
But this triggered a dispute that came to a head last year in a
Catch 22 situation. On one hand they were told they must provide the
information, on the other they were threatened with heavy fines by
EU governments for breaching European data protection legislation.
In October, Brussels agreed to sweep away the "bureaucratic hurdles"
preventing airlines handing over this material after European
carriers were threatened with exclusion from the US. The newly-
released document sets out the rules underpinning that deal.
As a result the Americans are entitled to 34 separate pieces of
Passenger Name Record (PNR) data all of which must be provided by
airlines from their computers.
Much of it is routine but some elements will prove more contentious,
such as a passenger's email address, whether they have a previous
history of not turning up for flights and any religious dietary
While insisting that "additional information" would only be sought
from lawful channels, the US made clear that it would use PNR data
as a trigger for further inquiries.
Anyone seeking such material would normally have to apply for a
court order or subpoena, although this would depend on what
information was wanted. Doubts were raised last night about the
effectiveness of the safeguards.
"There is no guarantee that a bank or internet provider would tell
an individual that material about them was being subpoenaed," an
American lawyer said.
"Then there are problems, such as where the case would take place
and whether an individual has time to hire a lawyer, even if they
wanted to challenge it."
Initially, such material could be inspected for seven days but a
reduced number of US officials could view it for three and a half
years. Should any record be inspected during this period, the file
could remain open for eight years.
Material compiled by the border authorities can be shared with
domestic agencies. It can also be on a "case by case" basis with
Washington promised to "encourage" US airlines to make similar
information available to EU governments rather than compel them to
"It is pretty horrendous, particularly when you couple it with our
one-sided extradition arrangements with the US," said Miss
"It is making the act of buying a ticket a gateway to a host of
personal email and financial information. While there are
safeguards, it appears you would have to go to a US court to assert
Chris Grayling, the shadow transport secretary, said: "Our
government and the EU have handed over very substantial powers to
gain access to private information belonging to British citizens."
A Department for Transport spokesman said: "Every airline is obliged
to conform with these rules if they wish to continue flying As part
of the terms of carriage, it is made clear to passengers what these
The US government has given undertakings on how this data will be
used and who will see it."
Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR)
Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006
Media Beat (12/26/06)
By Norman Solomon
Competition has been fierce for the fifteenth annual P.U.-litzer
Many can plausibly lay claim to stinky media performances, but only
a few can win a P.U.-litzer. As the judges for this un-coveted
award, Jeff Cohen and I have deliberated with due care. (Jeff is the
founder of the media watch group FAIR and author of the superb new
book Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.)
And now, the winners of the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006:
"FACT-FREE TRADE" AWARD -- New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman
In a press corps prone to cheer on corporate-drafted trade
agreements as the key to peace and plenty in the world, no
cheerleader is more fervent than Tom Friedman. During a CNBC
interview with Tim Russert in July, Friedman confessed: "I was
speaking out in Minnesota -- my hometown, in fact -- and a guy stood
up in the audience, said, `Mr. Friedman, is there any free trade
agreement you'd oppose?' I said, `No, absolutely not.' I said, `You
know what, sir? I wrote a column supporting the CAFTA, the Caribbean
Free Trade initiative. I didn't even know what was in it. I just
knew two words: free trade.'" (Friedman may not have read even the
pact's title; CAFTA actually stands for the Central America Free
LOCK UP THE FIRST AMENDMENT PRIZE -- CNN's William Bennett
Soon after being hired as a CNN pundit, Bennett went on his radio
talk show and offered his views on freedom of the press -- and on
reporters who broke stories about warrantless wiretapping and secret
CIA detention sites "against the wishes of the president, against
the request of the president and others." Bennett fumed: "Are they
embarrassed, are they arrested? No, they win Pulitzer Prizes. I
don't think what they did was worthy of an award -- I think what
they did was worthy of jail, and I think this investigation needs to
BROKE-BRAIN MOUTHING AWARD -- MSNBC's Chris Matthews
As the movie "Brokeback Mountain" (about a relationship between two
cowboys) was gaining attention and audience in January, Chris
Matthews appeared on the Imus show to hail "the wonderful Michael
Savage" and the talk-show host's nickname for the movie: "Bareback
Mounting." Matthews and Savage had been MSNBC colleagues until "the
wonderful" Savage was fired -- after referring to an apparently gay
caller as a "sodomite" and telling him to "get AIDS and die." Now
CASUAL ABOUT CASUALTIES AWARD -- Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch
Echoing an Iraq war talking-point heard regularly on Fox News, owner
Murdoch said on the eve of the November election: "The death toll,
certainly of Americans there, by the terms of any previous war are
quite minute." As FAIR noted, U.S. deaths in Iraq exceed those in
the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American
War, not to mention the combined U.S. deaths of all this country's
other military actions since Vietnam -- including Lebanon, Grenada,
Panama, the first Gulf War, Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
FRONT-PAGE PUNDIT AWARD -- Reporter Michael Gordon and The New York
With many voters telling pollsters that they want U.S. troops to
leave Iraq, the Times front-paged a post-election analysis by
Michael Gordon -- headlined "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast,
Experts Say" -- quoting three hand-picked "experts" who decried the
possibility of troop withdrawal. Gordon didn't tell readers that one
of his "experts," former CIA analyst Ken Pollack, had relentlessly
promoted an Iraq invasion based on wildly false claims about an
Iraqi threat. Gordon took off his reporter's hat that night on CNN
to become an unabashed advocate for his view that withdrawing U.S.
troops from Iraq would lead to "civil war" (as though civil war
weren't already underway).
"PROVE YOU'RE NOT A TRAITOR" PRIZE -- CNN's Glenn Beck
In November, Beck -- an Islamophobic host on CNN Headline News --
launched into his interview with Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, a
Muslim American, this way: "I have been nervous about this interview
with you, because what I feel like saying is, `Sir, prove to me that
you are not working with our enemies.'" Beck then added: "And I know
you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the
way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way." Is
it possible that primetime bigots like CNN's Beck have something to
do with the prejudices "that a lot of Americans feel"?
GROUNDHOG DAY AWARD -- Ted Koppel
One role of journalism should be to help the public learn from past
government policy disasters in hopes of preventing future ones. But
in a New York Times column on Oct. 2, former ABC News star Koppel
wrote that Washington should tell Iran it is free to develop an
atomic bomb -- with a Mafia-like warning: "If a dirty bomb explodes
in Milwaukee, or some other nuclear device detonates in Baltimore or
Wichita, if Israel or Egypt or Saudi Arabia should fall victim to a
nuclear `accident,' Iran should understand that the United States
government will not search around for the perpetrator. The return
address will be predetermined, and it will be somewhere in Iran." In
other words, no matter what the evidence, Koppel urged our
government to attack a predetermined foe, Iran. Didn't that happen
in 2003 with Iraq?
So, there they are, the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006. Hold your nose
and prepare yourself for 2007.
Lucas: Filming `Indiana Jones 4' in 2007
By ALICIA CHANG, Associated Press Writer
George Lucas said Friday that filming of the long-awaited "Indiana
Jones" movie will begin next year.
Harrison Ford, who appeared in the three earlier flicks, the last
one coming in 1989, is set to star again.
Lucas said he and Steven Spielberg recently finalized the script for
"It's going to be fantastic. It's going to be the best one yet," the
62-year-old filmmaker said during a break from preparing for his
duties as grand marshal of Monday's Rose Parade.
Exact film locations have not been decided yet, but Lucas said part
of the movie will be shot in Los Angeles.
The fourth chapter of the "Indiana Jones" saga, which will hit
theaters in May 2008, has been in development for over a decade with
several screenwriters taking a crack at the script, but it only
recently gained momentum.
Lucas kept mum about the plot, but said that the latest action flick
will be a "character piece" that will include "very interesting
"I think it's going to be really cool," Lucas said.
At the inaugural Rome Film Festival in October, the 64-year-old Ford
said he was excited to team up with Lucas and Spielberg again for
the fourth "Indiana Jones" installment. Ford said he was "fit to
continue" to play the title role despite his age.
Ford played Indiana Jones in 1981's "Raiders of the Lost Ark,"
1984's "Temple of Doom" and 1989's "The Last Crusade."
Lucas praised Ford for breathing life into his character.
"Mostly it's the charm of Harrison that makes it work," he said.
On the Net:
Lucasfilm Ltd: http://www.lucasfilm.com
Tournament of Roses: http://www.tournamentofroses.com
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility News Release
For Immediate Release: December 28, 2006
Contact: Carol Goldberg (202) 265-7337
HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON? PARK SERVICE WON'T SAY Orders to
Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology
Washington, DC Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give
an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature,
due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite
promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the
Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic
forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and
the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents
released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility
"In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National
Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,"
stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "It is disconcerting that
the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of
the Grand Canyon is `no comment.'"
In a letter released today, PEER urged the new Director of the
National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling
tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park
interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public
about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon. PEER is also asking
Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush
appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive
staff in making distinctions between science and religion when
speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.
In August 2003, Park Superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block
the sale at park bookstores of Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom
Vail, a book claiming the Canyon developed on a biblical rather than
an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however, intervened
and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of
Communications David Barna told reporters and members of Congress
that there would be a high-level policy review of the issue.
According to a recent NPS response to a Freedom of Information Act
request filed by PEER, no such review was ever requested, let alone
conducted or completed.
Park officials have defended the decision to approve the sale of
Grand Canyon: A Different View, claiming that park bookstores are
like libraries, where the broadest range of views are displayed. In
fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the
park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries. As
such, materials are only to reflect the highest quality science and
are supposed to closely support approved interpretive themes.
Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective.
Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon
officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore
placement while approving only one new sale item the creationist
Ironically, in 2005, two years after the Grand Canyon creationist
controversy erupted, NPS approved a new directive on "Interpretation
and Education (Director's Order #6) which reinforces the posture
that materials on the "history of the Earth must be based on the
best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources
that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism
[and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from
appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes."
"As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone
National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful:
Nostrils of Satan," Ruch added, pointing to the fact that previous
NPS leadership ignored strong protests from both its own scientists
and leading geological societies against the agency approval of the
creationist book. "We sincerely hope that the new Director of the
Park Service now has the autonomy to do her job."