Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Stock sell-off ringing alarm bells

As your blogtress writes this, the New York Stock Exchange composite (click on the "Indexes" tab in the box on the right) is down by 193 points and dropping. The sell-off is attributed to scary inflation numbers released earlier today, which show an increase of 0.6 percent, and an unexpected 0.3 percent for the ridiculous core inflation rate which, as explained by Glenn Kellis of Ob:Blog, excludes energy and food from its calculation.

Your cybertrix prays that her readers have stashed something useful under the mattress.

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Turnabout on double super-secret background
NSA briefs full committees

Even as your blogstress writes, members of the House and Senate intelligence committees are being briefed by officials of the National Security Agency (NSA) about the administration's domestic spying programs. The NSA briefers are addressing the full committees, a development that represents a change from the leadership-only policy the administration had so adamantly adhered to for years.

Today's move is widely seen as an attempt to save the nomination of Gen. Michael Hayden, architect of the NSA's program of spying on Americans, to the post of director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), whose nomination hearing begins tomorrow before the Senate committee.

Your Webwench will dilligently cover the hearings for her devotees, so stay tuned to

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Addie talks to Brian Ross for FishbowlDC

Check out your blogstress's tête-à-tête with ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross at FishbowlDC. It was Ross, you'll recall, who broke the story, earlier this week, of the government's spying on journalists.

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Stengel to take over Time mag

Remember that limb on which your blogstress perched herself, overlooking the speculative media landscape? Well, down just came blogstress, Spandex and all.

Your cybertrix had put her money on People magazine managing editor Martha Nelson to be the fixer of Time. She based this on an obviously poorly educated guess, since the buzz around the impending appointment was that the new leader of the venerable newsweekly would be a surprise, and would come from outside the magazine. Your écrivaine took this to mean that the new top Time ed would come from outside the magazine but within the ranks of Time Inc., since the Time Inc. corporate culture is famously insidey. Looking around up in the corner offices of the Time+Life Building, your blogstress found Ms. Nelson to be a likely choice, being the brilliant magazine editor that she is. (Not that your net-tête is sucking up, or anything.)

"Outside the magazine" turned out to be a bit of a ruse, since the enigmatic Richard Stengel, who won Time's top edit spot, spent a number of years on the magazine's staff before leaving to lead a Philadelphia think tank. Your blogstress remembers Stengel from her New York days as the enigmatic and very elegant writer of January Sun. (Not that your Webwench is sucking up, or anything.)

Herewith, via Romenesko, the memo from Time Inc. honcho John Huey announcing Stengel's appointment.

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The Horn of Africa: Now it makes sense

Devotees of your blogstress will recall her puzzlement over President Bush's reference, in a commencement address last week at the Gulf Coast Community College in Biloxi, to a soldier who was killed "fighting terrorism" over "the Horn of Africa."

Today comes word, thanks to the work of Emily Wax and Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post Foreign Service, that the U.S. is backing warlords in Somalia's civil war, ostensibly to prevent al Qaeda from taking root there:

Africa researchers said they were concerned that while the Bush administration was focused on the potential terrorist threat, little was being done to support economic development initiatives that could provide alternative livelihoods to picking up a gun or following extremist ideologies in Somalia. Somalia watchers and Somalis themselves said there has not been enough substantial backing for building a new government after 15 years of collapsed statehood.

"If the real problem is Somalia, then what have we done to change the situation inside Somalia? Are we funding schools, health care or helping establish an effective government?" [Ted] Dagne [the leading Africa analyst for the Congressional Research Service] said. "We have a generation of Somali kids growing up without education and only knowing violence and poverty. Unless there is a change, these could become the next warlords out of necessity for survival. That's perhaps the greatest threat we have yet to address."
Lost on the Bushies is the lesson of Afghanistan, and how al Qaeda came to take root there: the U.S. backed warlords in the Afghans' fight against the Soviet Union. Then the land of the free did nothing to help feed or educate the Afghans, who were left hungry amid a pile of rubble, with only U.S. weapons to sustain them.

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FBI investigates NYPD

From The New York Times comes continuing coverage of the violations of the rights of protesters at the 2004 Republican National Convention. This is a story getting short shrift by the rest of the national media, but vitally important as the nation grapples with recent revelations about spying on Americans and the reporters who serve their interests. From today's Times:

F.B.I. Is Seeking to Interview Jailed Activists

Published: May 17, 2006

As part of a continuing criminal civil rights investigation of the New York Police Department, the F.B.I. is seeking to interview protesters who were arrested in 2004 during the Republican National Convention and then had the charges against them dimissed. Investigators are specifically seeking one protester whose case prompted the federal inquiry.
Question is, will protesters whose rights have already been violated in their attempt to exercise their constitutional rights trust the FBI -- the agency currently busying itself violating the 4th amendment rights of news reporters? Your blogstress, in the position of said protesters, would be most wary.

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Turner Questions Hayden Nomination

Admiral Stansfield Turner (ret.), in a surprising commentary on NPR's Morning Edition, today urged the Senate not to confirm the appointment of General Michael Hayden to the post of CIA director -- if Hayden maintains his previously stated contention that it is legal for the government to eavesdrop on the phone calls of Americans without a warrant. Turner served in CIA's top spot under President Jimmy Carter.

NPR will post audio of the commentary at 10:00 AM.

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