Thursday, March 24, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
Avi Perry, author of 72 Virgins and Paltalk News Network talk show host said it best. To paraphrase, he suggested that the world not trust Moammar Gadafi when the Libyan president announced a cease-fire in the wake of a UN no-fly and military authorization resolution.
Today, the world is waking up to learn how correct Perry was.
Gadaffi used his announced cease-fire as cover to attack from the air Benghazi, a city held by rebel forces. Just as Perry had predicted.
And now he is publicly thumbing his nose at the UN, calling the resolution "invalid."
Gadaffi's response has prompted Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to huddle with British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris to decide what their next steps should be. If those steps include boots on the ground, there will be invariable comparisons to Iraq. But that would be unfair.
The United States used the most tenuous pretense to declare that the Iraq invasion was "authorized" by the United Nations. At a time when the UN's secretary general and chief weapons inspector both were clearly, to put it mildly, uncomfortable about it all.
In this case, the secretary general has been upfront and unambiguous about Libya. And there is a clear Security Council resolution, ink still drying, in hand, which says, military might is permitted, if necessary, to stop Gadaffi.
That's not to say there aren't lessons to be learned from Iraq. The United States, 'til now, has not taken the public lead in beating military drums. The fact that Clinton is meeting with Cameron and Sarkozy suggests that, this time, should there be an invasion, the United States won't be going it alone.
Even some in the Democratic leadership are urging the President Obama to take care to not appear as the puppet master. House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), for example, is on record saying the United States should not take the lead in any military action against Libya.
"I firmly believe," he says in a statement, "that our European allies and the members of the Arab League must take the leading role."
Therein lies a potential problem. The UK and France may be pointed to as fulfilling the "European allies" part of Hoyer's equation. But what of the Arab League?
Almasryalyoum reports in its English edition that Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa opposes an invasion. Moussa, the news site says, argues that the UN resolution doesn't support any military action or occupation of Libyan land.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
By GARY BAUMGARTEN
The Chrysler 200, you know, the car that was introduced as part of an amazing music video commercial featuring Eminem during the Super Bowl as "imported from Detroit" is a "dog."
At least that's what Detroit News (ex) auto critic Scott Burgess wrote.
The story made it into the print editions. But was watered down online after a car dealer complained, says Crain's Detroit Business.
Crain's says Burgess reportedly quit in protest. The paper later acknowledged the decision to dilute his scathing review was a "mistake."
This is not the Detroit News I used to work for.
I remember when I was an aspiring reporter taking a journalism class from a Detroit News editor at the University of Detroit. The professor was so proud that the News never collapsed from pressure from advertisers.
He told a story about an horrific accident in the old - now demolished - downtown Detroit Hudson's store. The story went something like this:
A glass pane to one of the elevators was missing. Had been for awhile but the lift remained in use.
According to this professor, a guy impatiently waiting for the notoriously slow elevators stuck his head through the opening to check on its arrival and literally lost his head.
The paper reported that Hudson's - a major advertiser at the time - hadn't acted when the missing pain was reported. Hudson's demanded a retraction or it would pull its advertising, the professor said. The paper refused.
As the story went, the ads were pulled. Several days later, when the store's sales dipped, Hudson's came running back, demanding its coveted prime advertising space on page 3. Hudson's refused, saying the spot had already been sold to a competitor.
I don't know if the story was true, but, heck, it came from a college professor who was in a position to know. True or not, it spoke to the integrity of the paper.
I don't know if the 200 is a "dog" or not. I've never driven one. But I do agree with the paper. It made a mistake.
If you can't trust that the people who are critiquing products or music or films aren't being influenced by advertisers, you lose faith in the media outlet.
The News should beg Burgess to return. Apologize to him. And offer him a raise.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Anti-nuke activist Harvey Wasserman says the damaged plants in Japan are worse than the company and authorities are telling us.
Speaking with me on News Talk Online on the Paltalk News Network, Wasserman warns the radiation that's been released into the atmosphere will reach as far as the United States.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Apparently the rag-tag rebels who have been holding key towns in Libya don't have the firepower nor the training to stave off an all-out assault by troops loyal to Moammar Gaddafi.
The New York Times reports a pitched battle in Zawiyah, a key town held by the opposition, by Gaddafi's militia. The paper quotes two residents as describing the scene as a "massacre."
Sky News reports fierce fightings in other towns held by rebels as well.
The evacuation of foreign nationals continues. The Times of India reports 9,200 Indian citizens have been removed from Libya but thousands more remain. The Hindustan Times reports that before the special flights sent in by the Indian government arrived to take them to safety, many of the evacuees say they were robbed of their luggage and money by Libyan troops. The Associated Press reports that all the Chinese workers known to be in Libya have now been safely evacuated.
Libya continues to blame outside influences for its troubles. Deutsche Press-Agentur reports that Tripoli is now pointing its fingers at the Netherlands for allegedly sending spies into the country. The Netherlands, of course, is home to the International Criminal Court, which is investigating crimes against humanity allegedly perpetrated by Gaddafi against his own citizens.
All these allegations of outside interference in Libyan affairs - including specific allegations that African workers had been employed by Gaddafi as mercenaries - is making the situation particularly upset for black foreigners who are desperately trying to get out of the country, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Recently imposed sanctions have apparently already taken their toll. Libya has petitioned the United Nations to lift them. But Italy, which has strong financial ties to and depends on that nation to feed its oil consumption needs is balking at freezing Libya's assets, the New York Times reports.