Stuff worth reading:
The Columbia Journalism Review’s story on the Russian press and Russian journalists. The story cites the Committee to Protect Journalists ranking of Russia as the third most dangerous country for journalists, behind second-place Algeria and the US-created democratic capitalist paradise of Iraq, and describes the gyrations that reporters and writers for independent newspapers and magazines have to perform in order to remain independent and intact. No word on why US journalists parrot the government line without government subsidies or the threat of violence and murder.
The Secretary of State’s explanation of what the US plans to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan other than killing people; you can compare what she says with the ideas advanced by Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid. The State Department document is quite long, which is promising but possibly discouraging if you’re in a hurry.
Yitzhak Laor writing almost six years ago on the lives of Israeli soldiers guarding a small Jewish settlement in Hebron, Avi Issacharoff writes about an attack by settlers on Palestinians in the city in 2008, and Amira Hass writes in 2009 about an unpleasant encounter with residents of an illegal Hebron settlement, and the larger policies it represents.
Gay Hoosier: two words you never heard in the same sentence between the roaring twenties and the desperate eighties, and that are still apparently a pretty big deal when directly adjacent. One of them got invited to the State of the Union speech, which some guy at NPR says will have to address Obama’s failure to get Republicans more involved in the legislative process. He says other stuff too, but that’s about the silliest.
The Washington Post story on the Republican National Committee’s fake Census Bureau fundraising mailers, a semi-amusing variation on the historical use of similarly official-looking documents for vote-suppression purposes.
This fascinating story about the recent and bizarre spiritual journeys of a public figure in Northern Ireland who is herself married to a prominent public figure in Northern Ireland. I have absolutely no context for the story and I’m satisfied with that.
An essay in the Guardian that is attractive if for no other reason than the opening line: “Like an abandoned car rusting in a backyard, bits keep falling off this government.” The rest of the piece pretty much measures up. The Labour government of Tony Blair and now Gordon Brown seems to have been falling apart forever, at least since the Blair blessing of the Iraq invasion, but somehow it keeps staggering along.
Barack Hoover Obama: The best and the brightest blow it again. As you might suppose, this is a comparison of Hoover’s failure to combat the financial collapse on his watch with the radical measures that might have mitigated it early on, to Barack Obama’s similarly constrained response to the current distress. Essayist Kevin Baker is no Hoover-hater; he’s more saddened by the failure of a man he greatly admires to escape from the trap of the conventions of his time. Two men, now.
The piece on a UN survey of corruption in Afghanistan from McClatchy’s Nukes & Spooks blog. Guess what percentage of the country’s GDP was paid in bribes last year?
Avedon Carol’s reaction to the Supreme Court decision allowing overt corporate purchases of elections. Did you ever see the movie about that house in Amityville? Avedon says what it said: “Get out.” Or start living the proletariat version of Left Behind.
From Foreign Policy Magazine, a story about the CIA guy who went on ABC News to claim that waterboarding was a miracle interrogation tool but now says, well, not so much; “it was a valuable lesson in how the CIA uses the fine arts of deception even among its own.” ABC’s response? No comment, but they’ve apparently removed the video of the interview and altered the story about it.
And finally: not a read, but here’s PETA’s 2010 State of the Union Undress. If you’re in a workplace where people might disapprove of innuendo-laden lifestyle admonishments delivered by comely Vegan strippers and interspersed with footage of Congress rising as one in applause, you might want to save this for later. Bonus: the 2008 version.