Bush's Election-Year Ploy to Help Iraq - January 16, 2004 - TimesWatch.org

Times Watch for January 16, 2004

Bush's Election-Year Ploy to Help Iraq

More bad news in Iraq, judging by the opening sentence of Friday's front-page story by Steven Weisman and John Cushman Jr.: "The Bush administration, trying to rescue its troubled plan to restore sovereignty to Iraq, is joining Iraqi leaders to press the United Nations to play a role in choosing an interim government in Baghdad, administration officials said Thursday."

The Times puts the best cynical spin on the U.S. move: "The new move involved yet another change in strategy for an administration under pressure from shifting events in Iraq.At the United Nations, Secretary General Kofi Annan is said to be highly reluctant to give his blessing to what is widely seen as a jerry-built process in effect concocted to let the United States hand over sovereignty to Iraq by June 30, as the American elections get under way."

For the rest of Weisman and Cushman on Iraq, click here.

John Cushman Jr. | Iraq War | United Nations | Steven Weisman

Does Frank Bruni Dislike Silvio Berlusconi? The Eyes Have It

Frank Bruni's latest scoop on his personal bugbear, Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's prime minister: He may be having plastic surgery!

Bruni snidely opens his Friday story, "Is Berlusconi Remaking Himself With Eyes to the Future?" with this snide comment: "Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's epically wealthy and willful prime minister, has long boasted of being a self-made man. Has he now taken his dauntless odyssey in personal improvement further, becoming a remade man?"

Bruni then highlights rumors in the Italian press that Berlusconi is having a nip-and-tuck around his eyes. The article, which includes a large head shot of a baggy-eyed Berlusconi, goes on: "Without spending much time in the sun, the prime minister nonetheless manages to keep pastiness at bay. He reliably looks either bronze or somewhat orange, depending on the moment and the lighting. He also looks less short than he really is (an estimated 5-feet, 6-inches), thanks to special padding on his seats, sizable heels on his shoes and his aides' relentless patrol of the photographs taken of him."

Excessive vanity in a politician? What's the world coming to?

For the rest of Bruni on Berlusconi, click here.

Silvio Berlusconi | Frank Bruni | Italy

"Non-Violent" Terrorist Helpers in the Gaza Strip

Friday's story by James Bennet, "Israel Seals Off Gaza Strip in Response to Suicide Bombing" gives the pro-Palestinian International Solidarity Movement another pass.

After noting Israel's actions in response to a Gaza suicide bombing that killed four Israelis at a checkpoint, Bennet updates another matter: "On Wednesday, the [Israeli] army said it was revising the charges against an Israeli soldier accused of shooting a British activist and photography student, Tom Hurndall, after Mr. Hurndall died Tuesday of his wounds. Witnesses said Mr. Hurndall was shot in the head on April 11 as he tried to protect Palestinian children near an Israeli roadblock in the Gaza Strip. He died in a London hospital after lingering in a coma. Mr. Hurndall, 22, was a member of the International Solidarity Movement, a group that uses nonviolent tactics to impede Israeli Army actions in the West Bank and Gaza."

Though the group itself claims to be nonviolent, it doesn't at all mind violence among its Palestinian allies; the ISM "recognize[s] the Palestinian right to resist Israeli violence and occupation via legitimate armed struggle." A skeptical look at the ISM's "nonviolent" tactics (which include interfering with Israeli operations to close tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt) can be found here.

For the rest of Bennet's story from Jerusalem, click here.

James Bennet | International Solidarity Movement | Israel | Palestinians

Affirming the NAACP

Lynette Clemetson pens a sympathetic look back Friday on the career of Elaine Jones, retiring president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Clemetson portrays Jones as a fighter against anti-civil rights conservatives: "Ms. Jones took the helm at a time when conservatives were challenging many achievements and objectives of the civil rights movement, sometimes with success before increasingly sympathetic courts." Later Clemetson adds: "It was the Supreme Court's ruling last June upholding the use of race in admissions policies at the University of Michigan Law School, Ms. Jones said, that finally freed her to make the decision to step down."

But in discussing that ruling, Clemetson leaves out some unflattering details about Jones' record, such as the lawsuit filed by the Center for Individual Freedom charging that "Jones, a member of the Virginia State Bar, intentionally acted to manipulate the outcome of the highly publicized affirmative action case challenging the University of Michigans undergraduate admissions process then being considered by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit-a case in which she was named counsel. According to one in a series of memoranda initially released by the Wall Street Journal and Washington Times, Ms. Jones contacted the Office of Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) on April 17, 2002, urging him and his staff to delay Senate action on 6th Circuit nominee Julia Smith Gibbons and all other nominations to the 6th Circuit because, "the thinking is that the current 6th Circuit will sustain the affirmative action program, but if a new judge is confirmed before the case is decided, that new judge will be able to review the case and vote on it.'"

For the rest of Clemetson on the NAACP, click here.

Affirmative Action | Civil Rights | Lynette Clemetson | NAACP | Racial Issues