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Hometown: VA
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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
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Journal Archives

Turkish security breach exposes Erdogan in power struggle

ISTANBUL/ANKARA, March 28 (Reuters) - Turkey's spymaster discusses possible military intervention in Syria with army and civilian chiefs, and days later their words are broadcast on the internet for all the world to hear.

The breach appeared to highlight a disturbing truth for Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan: that Turkey can no longer keep even top-level security planning secret, despite his purge of thousands of officials to root out a covert network of enemies he accuses of trying to sabotage the state and topple him.

"This crisis is one of the biggest in Turkish history," a senior government official, who declined to be named, told Reuters. "A serious concern has certainly emerged regarding what follows now...If a meeting such as this has been listened to, others may have. We do not know who is in possession of them."

Erdogan was out of public action on Friday, resting his voice strained by campaigning for local elections this weekend - the first in a string that will decide the future of a man who has reformed Turkey fundamentally but is now accused by critics of authoritarian and divisive tendencies.

Even without the principal actor, the drama played on over the leaked audio recording that appeared on YouTube on Thursday; by far most serious of a stream of illegal intercepts of state communications, many involving Erdogan himself.


France apologies to Morocco after minister searched at Paris airport

(Reuters) - France apologised to Morocco on Friday after the kingdom's foreign minister was searched while transiting at a Paris airport, the latest incident that has strained ties between Rabat and its former colonial ruler.

The two countries are already at odds over a row that erupted in February when French police tried to question the head of Rabat's intelligence service during a visit to Paris over accusations his agency was involved in torture.

According to various Moroccan media reports citing sources, Foreign Minister Salaheddine Mezouar was asked to remove his shoes, vest and belt at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport as he transited from The Hague to Morocco earlier this week.

His personal effects and suitcase were also searched despite indicating his position and diplomatic passport.

Foreign Minister "Laurent Fabius called his Moroccan counterpart to apologize on behalf of the French authorities for the inconvenience he suffered," foreign ministry spokesman Romain Nadal told reporters.

"Errors were made at Charles de Gaulle airport. The minister immediately asked the relevant authorities at the Interior Ministry and airport that everything be done to strictly adhere to diplomatic rules and norms that apply to foreign ministers, heads of state and governments," said Nadal.


What the Kitty Genovese story really means, by Nicholas Lemann

Plucking a few events out of the vastness of the world and declaring them to be the news of the day is a mysterious and complicated project. Sometimes what’s news is inarguable—the outbreak of war, a head-of-state transition, natural calamity—but very often it falls into the category of the resonant incident. It isn’t a turn in the course of history, but it strikes editors as illustrative of something important. Take crime. If crimes don’t involve anyone powerful or well known, they generally aren’t considered news. But a few such crimes do become news, big news, and hold the public’s imagination in a tight, enduring grip.

An excellent example is the murder of Kitty Genovese, a twenty-eight-year-old bar manager, by Winston Moseley, a twenty-nine-year-old computer punch-card operator, just after three in the morning on Friday, March 13, 1964, in Kew Gardens, Queens. The fact that this crime, one of six hundred and thirty-six murders in New York City that year, became an American obsession—condemned by mayors and Presidents, puzzled over by academics and theologians, studied in freshman psychology courses, re-created in dozens of research experiments, even used four decades later to justify the Iraq war—can be attributed to the influence of one man, A. M. Rosenthal, of the New York Times.

In 1964, Rosenthal was forty-one years old and relatively new on the job as the newspaper’s metropolitan editor, an important step in his ascent to a seventeen-year reign over the Times’ newsroom. Ten days after Genovese was killed, he went downtown to have lunch with New York City’s police commissioner, Michael Murphy. Murphy spent most of the lunch talking about how worried he was that the civil-rights movement, which was at its peak, would set off racial violence in New York, but toward the end Rosenthal asked him about a curious case, then being covered in the tabloids, in which two men had confessed to the same murder. He learned that one of the competing confessors, Winston Moseley, had definitely murdered a woman in Kew Gardens, Kitty Genovese. That killing had been reported at the time, including in a four-paragraph squib buried deep within the Times, but Murphy said that what had struck him about it was not the crime itself but the behavior of thirty-eight eyewitnesses. Over a grisly half hour of stabbing and screaming, Murphy said, none of them had called the police. Rosenthal assigned a reporter named Martin Gansberg to pursue the story from that angle. On March 27th, the Times ran a front-page story under a four-column headline:

Apathy at Stabbing of Queens Woman Shocks Inspector

The following day, the Times ran a reaction story in which a procession of experts offered explanations of what had happened, or said that it was inexplicable. From then on, the story—as they wouldn’t have said in 1964—went viral.


Excellent, excellent piece on how everything isn't always what it seems...

Oh, FFS Kobe!

L.A. Lakers player Kobe Bryant opened up in a new interview with The New Yorker, and one of the issues they touch on is Trayvon Martin and how members of the Miami Heat wore hoodies in his memory two years ago. Bryant admitted he’s not comfortable with the idea of being compelled to defend someone just because they’re black, saying he would rather just sit back and wait for all the facts to come out before passing judgment.

The relevant passage is only available to New Yorker subscribers, but ColorLines reposted it in its report on Bryant’s remarks.

I won’t react to something just because I’m supposed to, because I’m an African-American,” he said. “That argument doesn’t make any sense to me. So we want to advance as a society and a culture, but, say, if something happens to an African-American we immediately come to his defense? Yet you want to talk about how far we’ve progressed as a society? Well, we’ve progressed as a society, then don’t jump to somebody’s defense just because they’re African-American. You sit and you listen to the facts just like you would in any other situation, right? So I won’t assert myself.”

Bryant’s remarks have already spawned a flurry of Twitter backlash, including from MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor.




I hope for Kobe's sake that there is a more generous context of his comments in the full piece...

Joe Gaetjens - the footballer who disappeared

One of the biggest shocks in World Cup history happened in 1950, when the US beat England, thanks to a goal scored by Haitian Joe Gaetjens. After Gaetjens returned to Haiti a hero, he later disappeared and was killed, possibly by the president himself.

Joe Gaetjens made his name on 29 June 1950. "Out of nowhere apparently, my father came and went head first and hit the ball hard enough to change its direction - so the goalie from the England team was going one way and the ball went the other way," says his eldest son Lesly.

The 15,000 football fans in Brazil's Belo Horizonte stadium went wild - moments earlier they thought the US didn't have even the slightest chance of beating England. Even the US coach had described his side as sheep ready to be slaughtered.

While the England players were professionals, the Americans were part-timers - one was a teacher, another drove a hearse for a living and Gaetjens was an accountancy student.

Jo Gaetjens, Paris 1951-52
He was born in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, in 1924 to a relatively well-off family. He loved football and by the age of 14 was signed up to the Etoile Haitienne team where he became known for his goal-scoring headers.


Ta-Nehisi Coates: Black Pathology and the Closing of the Progressive Mind

Quite a long commentary, but well worth the read:

Among opinion writers, Jonathan Chait is outranked in my esteem only by Hendrik Hertzberg. This lovely takedown of Robert Johnson is a classic of the genre, one I studied incessantly when I was sharpening my own sword. The sharpening never ends. With that in mind, it is a pleasure to engage Chait in the discussion over President Obama, racism, culture, and personal responsibility. It's good to debate a writer of such clarity—even when that clarity has failed him.

On y va.

Chait argues that I've conflated Paul Ryan's view of black poverty with Barack Obama's. He is correct. I should have spent more time disentangling these two notions, and illuminating their common roots—the notion that black culture is part of the problem. I have tried to do this disentangling in the past. I am sorry I did not do it in this instance and will attempt to do so now.

​Arguing that poor black people are not "holding up their end of the bargain," or that they are in need of moral instruction is an old and dubious tradition in America. There is a conservative and a liberal rendition of this tradition. The conservative version eliminates white supremacy as a factor and leaves the question of the culture's origin ominously unanswered. This version can never be regarded seriously. Life is short. Black life is shorter.

On y va.

The liberal version of the cultural argument points to "a tangle of pathologies" haunting black America born of oppression. This argument—which Barack Obama embraces—is more sincere, honest, and seductive. Chait helpfully summarizes:

The argument is that structural conditions shape culture, and culture, in turn, can take on a life of its own independent of the forces that created it. It would be bizarre to imagine that centuries of slavery, followed by systematic terrorism, segregation, discrimination, a legacy wealth gap, and so on did not leave a cultural residue that itself became an impediment to success.

The "structural conditions" Chait outlines above can be summed up under the phrase "white supremacy." I have spent the past two days searching for an era when black culture could be said to be "independent" of white supremacy. I have not found one. Certainly the antebellum period, when one third of all enslaved black people found themselves on the auction block, is not such an era. And surely we would not consider postbellum America, when freedpeople were regularly subjected to terrorism, to be such an era.

We certainly do not find such a period during the Roosevelt-Truman era, when this country erected a racist social safety, leaving the NAACP to quip that the New Deal was "like a sieve with holes just big enough for the majority of Negroes to fall through." Nor do we find it during the 1940s, '50s and '60s, when African-Americans—as a matter of federal policy—were largely excluded from the legitimate housing market. Nor during the 1980s when we began the erection of a prison-industrial complex so vast that black males now comprise 8 percent of the world's entire incarcerated population.


Jack Nicholson on ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ twice

Maybe this is just values dissonance at work, but no amount of suspension of disbelief in the world can get me past the idea of a ranking law enforcement officer simply handing an abandoned baby over to a strange couple just on their say-so—not even in ‘60s small-town America, and least of all when the claim they’ve laid on the child is a explicit admission of horrifying negligence.

His second appearance was a meatier part in 1967, around the time he began making serious turns toward the weird, writing the script for Roger Corman’s bizarre attempt at counterculture pandering The Trip and appearing in the drugsploitation oddity Psych-Out. But in Andy Griffith’s season 8’s episode 7, Aunt Bee is called to serve as a juror and finds herself recast as Henry Fonda from 12 Angry Men. Nicholson plays the defendant. I suspect there’s loads of potential in this episode for a mashup with A Few Good Men.


Obama defends NSA spying in meeting with Chinese president

Source: Los Angeles Times

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — President Obama on Monday defended U.S. surveillance programs as serving national security rather than commercial interests, in a wide-ranging meeting with his Chinese counterpart on the sidelines of a nuclear summit.

In the private session with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Obama defended the National Security Agency’s espionage tactics days after news broke that the U.S. spy agency had tapped into Chinese telecommunication giant Huawei’s computer system. The revelation, stemming from documents leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, appeared to undermine Obama’s regular complaint that Chinese companies conduct corporate espionage and intellectual property theft.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes said Xi raised the matter, which was reported by the New York Times and Der Spiegel on Saturday. The president countered that “the United States does not engage in espionage to gain a commercial advantage,” Rhodes said, adding that Obama said the U.S. believes there’s “a clear distinction between intelligence activities that have a national security purpose and intelligence activities that have a commercial purpose.”

Obama thanked the Chinese leader for welcoming First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters on a trip to Beijing this week. Xi thanked Obama for U.S. help in trying to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, which was carrying many Chinese passengers.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-obama-nsa-spying-chinese-president-20140324,0,3780214.story#ixzz2wtxXlMNp

The Chinese don't seem to be too outraged over this...Maybe they just see it as "everyday business as usual?"

Does anyone still want to claim SnowWald are *NOT* specifically timing these true-but-not-that-shocking "gotcha" releases for maximum political damage? They're pretty predictable by this point now...

Just for laughs, I highly suggest DUers regularly check out Greenwald's twitter feed -- It's a dizzying, nonstop perpetual motion machine of circular logic on the Chinese story, the Russia issue, Russia Today, etc. etc...Only on twitter does Greenwald throw away the mask and be his true, unfiltered self -- It's very eye-opening....

WHY would Kathleen do such a thing over the phone? And why is it even news??

World War One weapon explodes, killing two

A shell or grenade buried in western Belgium since World War One, has exploded, killing two people.

At least two more were injured, one of whom is in critical condition.

The device was set off as workmen at a building site in Ypres were trying to dig it up.

A strategic city, Ypres was shelled by German forces for most of the war and unexploded weapons are often found there.

The area, where a factory is being built, has been sealed off and local explosives experts have been brought in.

It is thought that thousands of explosives from the 1914-1918 war still lie buried in and around Ypres, yet to be discovered.

Every year the former battlefields of western Belgium throw up hundreds of Great War armaments. Most are destroyed without incident by a special Belgian army bomb squad.

Despite that, several hundred people have been killed in similar explosions since the end of the war.

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