S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hear Ye, Hear Ye - Reporters & the Middle East

Reporters' work is often about shedding light where there is darkness. And the Middle East has been one of the biggest and darkest leads for the past six years. Today brings stories that reveal the life and death nature of some of the work connected with the region. Tursday's post usually is about the Middle East; this one also illuminates journalism's dedicated "soldiers."

It can be mortally dangerous to be a reporter, as this chilling morning headline makes clear: "Group: 81 Reporters Killed in 2006" - New York Times by AP. Do you remember listening enthralled to the CNN three reporters' coverage of the first Gulf War as their audio-only reports kept us up to date from Baghdad? Did you not wonder when the bomb would come down on their heads. The current AP story begins,

Eighty-one journalists and media staffers were killed worldwide in 2006, making it the deadliest year for reporters in more than a decade, Reporters Without Borders said Thursday.
Iraq was the most dangerous country for journalists last year, with 39 reporters and 26 other media workers killed, the Paris-based media advocacy group said.
Reporters now risk their personal freedom - The government is now threatening, indicting or jailing a number of journalists who have refused to reveal their anonymous news sources. A number of states have reporter "shield laws," but there is no protection at the federal level. The current headline is about former NYT reporter Judith Miller's testimony in the Libby trial. The Miller story also maked it clear that it is dangerous to one's reputation to get taken in by the current Bush administration. But Miller may have her revenge. The recent article reads, "Jailed reporter contradicts Libby in perjury case" - Yahoo! News/Reuters by Andy Sullivan. To quote,
Former vice presidential aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby spoke to a reporter about a CIA operative on two occasions before he says he knew her identity, Libby's perjury trial heard on Tuesday.
Judith Miller, one of the Times's star journalists until she resigned in late 2005, spent 85 days in jail resisting court orders to disclose who told her about Valerie Plame, the wife of a prominent critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
She was released from jail last year and agreed to testify after receiving written permission from Libby, Vice-President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff.
Her light goes out - My favorite columnist, Molly Ivins, has died. Like many powerful Texas women, Ivins was educated in the East. Smith College and the Columbia School of Journalism were where she honed her skills, but much of her talent was in-born. I began reading her regularly in the 1970's when she co-edited the Texas Observer, all Texas' liberals' favorite rag. It was just in time. I needed the comic relief because that was around the time I joined the League of Women Voters and began writing about our locale's bizarre County Commissioners. One of her best friends, Governor Ann Richards got her political start as a County Commissioner in Austin. They were so alike. And now they are both gone. Our state is poorer for that. The sad headline reads, "Molly Ivins, 62, Dies; Writer Skewered Politicians" - New York Times by KATHARINE Q. SEELYE. I quote from her excellent "obit" piece:
Molly Ivins, the liberal newspaper columnist who delighted in skewering politicians and interpreting, and mocking, her Texas culture, died yesterday in Austin. She was 62.
Ms. Ivins waged a public battle against breast cancer after her diagnosis in 1999. Betsy Moon, her personal assistant, confirmed her death last night. Ms. Ivins died at her home surrounded by family and friends.
[re Texas Observer]. . . Indeed, rarely has a reporter so embodied the ethos of her publication. On the paper’s 50th anniversary in 2004, she wrote: “This is where you can tell the truth without the bark on it, laugh at anyone who is ridiculous, and go after the bad guys with all the energy you have.”
My favorite's last column was published only three and one-half weeks ago - And it shimmered with pure dedicated "Molly." A fierce and funny wordsmith, she challenged all us "bubba's" to get out there and do something about our current president (OCP). And she promised to return to the subject of the war in Iraq in her future columns - "living in the now" as she always did to the very end of her days. Ivins' final column is titled, "Bubba, we -- yes, we --have to stop the war now" - Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Molly Ivins. It will not be the last time she is quoted; it is an honor to quote her today:
The president of the United States does not have the sense that God gave a duck -- so it's up to us. You and me, Bubba.
I don't know why George W. Bush is just standing there like a frozen rabbit, but it's time we found out. The fact is that WE have to do something about it. This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war, and it has to be stopped. NOW.
. . . This will be a regular feature of mine, like an old-fashioned newspaper campaign. Every column, I'll write about this war until we find some way to end it. Every column, we will review some factor we should have gotten right.
. . . It's up to you and me, Bubba.
We need to make sure that the new Congress curbs executive power, which has been so misused, and asserts its own power to make this situation change.
A number of my favorite dedicated bloggers recently posted items of interest to them - also linked to the Middle East. I spotlight today:
  • The Washington Note by Steve Clemons - "Zbigniew Brzezinski Calls Iraq War a Historic, Strategic and Moral Calamity & Says Stop the Trappings of Colonial Tutelage" - Steve posts the opening testimony of Brzezinski, set to be given to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning.
  • The Reaction by Michael J.W. Stickings - "Debating war powers: Democratic resolve, Republican hypocrisy" - about the current congressional dilemma of what to do about the war in Iraq.
  • Fayrouz in Beaumont - "Who Killed Daniel Pearl?" - a very special tribute to one of our favorite hero-journalists, Danny Pearl, along with a beautiful protrait.
  • life's journey by betmo - "gone but not forgotten" - another of us who is missing Molly. Her short post also includes a portrait.
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My "creative post" at Southwest Blogger is about Mars.

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