A rare apology from The Washington Post (& Mohammed cartoons editor jailed for three years)

January 20, 2008

* White House finds 473 days of e-mail accidentally wiped out
* Should Nabokov’s son destroy his father’s final manuscript?
* Sarkozy’s ex attacks “stingy” husband who “likes no-one, not even his children”

 

CONTENTS

ON JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA DEVELOPMENTS

1. A well-deserved apology from The Washington Post
2. Belarus jails editor for three years for printing Mohammed cartoons
3. Reporters Without Borders criticizes Saudi Arabia
4. European journalist murdered by Taliban in Kabul hotel
5. Robert Fisk’s “Independent” in financial trouble?
6. Coming soon: Oprah’s very own TV network

ON POLITICS AND SOCIETY

7. White House study found 473 days of e-mail gone
8. Should Nabokov’s son destroy his father’s final manuscript?
9. It looks like Facebook’s version of Scrabble may spell L-A-W-S-U-I-T
10. Muslim store worker refuses to sell “unclean” Bible book to grandmother
11. Sarkozy’s ex attacks “stingy” husband who “likes no-one, not even his children”
12. Congratulations Jenna (a new generation of Bush politicians on its way?)
13. Twins separated at birth, who married each other by accident, granted divorce

ON GLOBAL WARMING

14. Br-r-r! Where did global warming go?
15. Now the Global Cooling reaches Iraq and Saudi Arabia
16. Emergency warning for Siberia: Minus 67 Fahrenheit


[Note by Tom Gross]

A lot of readers tell me they like the occasional lighter, non-Middle East items to help complement and balance the often distressing Middle East ones. The other dispatch I am posting tomorrow contains only Mideast news and articles. This dispatch includes some of the items on other subjects that I have published in recent days on the National Review’s Media Blog.

***

I include three items at the end on global warming to provide a small counterweight to the mainstream media (and to the Nobel prize and Oscar committees) which refuse to properly air the opinion of those who express doubts about the global warming orthodoxy. Some on the left (and far-right) are using global warming issues as a kind of post-Marxist method of attacking capitalism and America.

As I report below, with record cold temperatures and unprecedented levels of snowfall recently in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Siberia (minus 57!), Argentina, Peru, Chile, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and in parts of the U.S. and Canada, one might at least consider allowing some of the scientists who are being shunned by the mainstream media to express their findings about what they say is the myth of man-made global warming.

Some (though of course not all) of the prominent global warming activists are deliberately using the subject to deflect attention from what others feel are even more important issues, such as the Iranian rush to acquire a nuclear arsenal and instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan.

 

[All notes below by Tom Gross]

ON JOURNALISTS AND MEDIA DEVELOPMENTS

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A WELL-DESERVED APOLOGY FROM THE WASHINGTON POST

Following recent criticism by myself and others about a piece prominently highlighted on The Washington Post’s home page on January 7, which suggested Israel was somehow following in the footsteps of Nazi Germany, the newspaper has issued a rare apology.

The piece, part of the Post’s religion column, was penned by Arun Gandhi, grandson of India’s legendary leader “Mahatma” Gandhi, and was titled “Jewish Identity Can’t Depend on Violence.”

The Washington Post has often been criticized by Jewish groups for running pieces highly slanted against Israel, but it is extremely unusual for the paper to acknowledge bias.

In a statement on Friday, The Washington Post wrote that readers “found Gandhi’s initial remarks anti-Semitic and his subsequent apology insufficient. When we undertook this project over a year ago, we wrote that our goal was to shed light on a subject – religion – that too often generates heat. The Gandhi post failed to comply with that mission, and we can only ask our readers to extend ‘On Faith’ a measure of forbearance and tolerance as the site endeavors to conduct a civil and illuminating conversation. We regret the initial posting, and we apologize for the episode.”

Arun Gandhi’s original piece also appeared on the Newsweek website.

 

Saturday, January 19, 2008

BELARUS JAILS EDITOR FOR THREE YEARS FOR PRINTING MOHAMMED CARTOONS

Yesterday Belarus – one of the world’s most oppressive states – jailed for three years a newspaper editor who reproduced cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that first appeared in Denmark in 2005.

Alexander Sdvizhkov was sentenced in a closed session of the court for incitement of religious and national hatred.

Miklos Haraszti, media freedom representative for the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, protested against Sdvizhkov’s jailing, calling the case against him “shocking” and saying he should be freed. His lawyer said there would be an appeal.

(Scroll down here to see the controversial cartoons.)

 

Friday, January 18, 2008

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS CRITICIZES SAUDI ARABIA

Reporters Without Borders have finally criticized Saudi Arabia after the regime in Riyadh refused to allow Gideon Kouts, a journalist who holds an Israeli passport, into the country as part of the media delegation accompanying French President Nicolas Sarkozy to the kingdom earlier this week.

“The discrimination practiced by Saudi Arabia with respect to Israeli journalists is unacceptable,” Reporters Without Borders announced.

 

Friday, January 18, 2008

EUROPEAN JOURNALIST MURDERED BY TALIBAN IN KABUL HOTEL

Carsten Thomassen, 39, the correspondent for the Norwegian paper Dagbladet, was among seven people killed as Taliban “militants” (the AP’s word) stormed Kabul’s leading hotel.

The Taliban attacked the luxury five-star Serena hotel with guns, grenades, and a suicide bomb, after forcing their way through a heavily fortified gate by lobbing grenades at the guards.

It was the first attack on a Kabul hotel since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. Until recently suicide bombers in the country mostly hit military targets, although many civilians also died in the blasts.

The Serena is patronized by diplomats, journalists and dignitaries. When it opened in 2006, the hotel was hailed “an oasis of luxury in a war-ravaged city.”

Taliban violence greatly increased last year, with 140 recorded suicide attacks in 2007.

 

Sunday, January 20, 2008

ROBERT FISK’S “INDEPENDENT” IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE?

Media insiders in London say that The Independent, the British paper of which the viciously anti-American and anti-Israeli polemicist Robert Fisk is the star foreign correspondent, is in dire financial straights and is now considering launching a “free edition” to boost circulation and shore up its advertising revenues.

The Independent’s editor, Simon Kelner, has denied the reports but the rumors persist.

Circulation for The Independent was 228,400 in December, down 4.3% compared with November and down 5.7% compared with the previous year. This is now well below sales for each of the other dozen or so British national daily papers.

About 40,000 of The Independent’s December sales are estimated to be bulk copies, sold to airlines, gyms and hotels and then distributed to customers for free.

Nevertheless the paper continues to have influence far beyond its immediate readership, with articles by Fisk and others republished on anti-American websites the world over.

Among those who have praised the writings of Fisk is Osama Bin Laden.

 

Friday, January 18, 2008

COMING SOON: OPRAH’S VERY OWN TV NETWORK

Fresh from having made the most significant endorsement of the 2008 presidential election campaign to date – which many analysts have credited with reviving Barack Obama’s run for the White House – talkshow queen Oprah Winfrey is getting her own TV network, it has been announced in New York.

Winfrey has signed a deal with Discovery Communications to create “OWN” – the Oprah Winfrey Network – next year. It will be available in more than 70 million homes.

“I always felt my show was just the beginning of what the future could hold,” said a thrilled Winfrey (whose own father, Vernon, is currently writing a tell-all book about her).

No teaming up as Obama’s running mate for Oprah then, as some have suggested?

 

ON POLITICS AND SOCIETY

Friday, January 18, 2008

WHITE HOUSE STUDY FOUND 473 DAYS OF E-MAIL GONE

Whoops.

The Washington Post reports today:

The White House possesses no archived e-mail messages for many of its component offices, including the Executive Office of the President and the Office of the Vice President, for hundreds of days between 2003 and 2005, according to the summary of an internal White House study that was disclosed yesterday.

 

Sunday, January 20, 2008

SHOULD NABOKOV’S SON DESTROY HIS FINAL MANUSCRIPT?

Writer Ron Rosenbaum, who has been corresponding with Dmitri Nabokov about this issue for the last two years, reveals a fascinating dilemma in Slate:

Says Rosenbaum: It’s the question of whether the last unpublished work of Vladimir Nabokov, which is now reposing unread in a Swiss bank vault, should be destroyed – as Nabokov explicitly requested before he died.

... It’s a decision that has fallen to his sole surviving heir (and translator), Dmitri Nabokov, now 73. Dmitri has been torn for years between his father’s unequivocal request and the demands of the literary world to view the final fragment of his father’s genius, a manuscript known as The Original of Laura.

Dmitri’s predicament goes beyond Laura. It’s one that raises the difficult issue of who “owns” a work of art, particularly an unfinished work of art by a dead author who did not want anything but his finished work to become public. Who controls its fate? The dead hand from the grave? Or the eager, perhaps overeager, readers, scholars, and biographers who want to get their hands on it no matter what state it’s in?

... Dmitri’s past pronouncements suggest that Laura is not merely another scrap of paper. At one point he called it “the most concentrated distillation of [my father’s] creativity.”

 

Friday, January 18, 2008

IT LOOKS LIKE FACEBOOK’S VERSION OF SCRABBLE MAY SPELL L-A-W-S-U-I-T

The companies that make Scrabble are trying to shut down Scrabulous, an online version of the game which has become an instant hit on the Facebook website.

Indeed with 2.4 million weekly users worldwide (600,000 of whom play every day), Scrabulous is now Facebook’s most popular game.

Created last July by Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, two young brothers from Kolkata (the Indian city that was until 2001 called Calcutta), Scrabulous has become an internet phenomenon. Revenue from advertising alone makes the pair, the younger of whom is still at university, $25,000 a month.

Now the world’s two largest toymakers, Hasbro, which owns the rights to Scrabble in the U.S. and Canada, and Mattel, which owns the rights elsewhere, are claiming that the Facebook electronic version infringes their copyrights and trademarks.

Lawyers’ letters have been sent to Facebook’s U.S. headquarters and to the brothers. But the brothers say they are undeterred and have announced plans for a Scrabulous championship, as well as a Facebook version of chess.

Facebook, devised by Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg, now accounts for 1% of all traffic on the Internet.

 

Friday, January 18, 2008

MUSLIM STORE WORKER REFUSES TO SELL “UNCLEAN” BIBLE BOOK TO GRANDMOTHER

Yet another sign of creeping Islamicization in Britain?

The Daily Mail reports:

A Muslim store worker at Marks & Spencer refused to serve a customer buying a children’s book on biblical stories because she said it was “unclean”.

Sally Friday, a customer at a branch of one of the famous stores, felt publicly humiliated when she tried to pay for First Bible Stories as a gift for her young grandson.

When the grandmother put the book on the counter, the assistant refused to touch it, declared it was unclean.

... Conservative MP Philip Davies said the refusal to serve Mrs. Friday, 69, was “unacceptable” and “damaging” to community relations.

... Mrs. Friday said “Had this been a copy of the Koran I am confident any Christian person would be happy to do her job, and for this to happen in a Marks & Spencer of all places beggars belief.”

 

Friday, January 11, 2008

NICOLAS SARKOZY’S EX ATTACKS “STINGY” HUSBAND WHO “LIKES NO-ONE, NOT EVEN HIS CHILDREN”

The Élysée palace soap opera descends to new depths of vitriol.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ex-wife Cécilia has branded him a “stingy philanderer” with a “behavioral problem” who is an “unworthy president” of France.

Cécilia Sarkozy is reported to have made the comments before Mr. Sarkozy hinted that he will marry the ex-supermodel Carla Bruni following a whirlwind affair of less than three months.

... Mrs. Sarkozy alleged that her 52-year-old ex-husband was “a man who likes no-one, not even his children”.

According to a new book, she even called the president’s other female friends “a bunch of slappers” and young female government ministers “boring wallflowers”.

 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS JENNA (A NEW GENERATION OF BUSH POLITICIANS ON ITS WAY?)

President Bush’s daughter Jenna, 26, and her fiancé, Henry Hager, 29, are to be married on May 10, according to a report on People magazine’s website. (This date might interfere with Bush’s plan return to Israel for a second visit this May, to help celebrate the state’s 60th birthday.)

The wedding will apparently be held at the president’s 1,600-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas. A spokeswoman for first lady Laura Bush said she could not confirm the report and had no comment on it.

“It’s going to be a small wedding,” a source told People, adding Jenna had already selected her bridesmaids. “She’s very excited. They make a great couple.”

And if Hager, who comes from a prominent Republican family and worked on the president’s re-election campaign, one day has greater political ambitions of his own, perhaps he can even find himself added to this website.

 

Friday, January 11, 2008

TWINS SEPARATED AT BIRTH, WHO MARRIED EACH OTHER BY ACCIDENT, GRANTED DIVORCE

A bizarre and sad story is dominating the media in Britain today, as a married couple makes a devastating discovery:

The Times of London writes:

Twins who were separated at birth married each other without knowing they were brother and sister. The couple were adopted as babies by different families, and neither was told that they had a twin.

They met, fell in love and got married before discovering that they were blood relatives. The British couple were recently granted an annulment at a special hearing at the High Court in London, the Evening Standard reported today.

... Professor Lord Alton, who uncovered the case, said that the twins’ experience demonstrated the need to strengthen the rights of children to know the identity of their biological parents.

The Daily Telegraph adds:

The couple’s identities, along with details of how they met and fell in love, remain a closely-guarded secret.

Lord Alton said: “They were never told they were twins. They met later in life and felt an inevitable attraction, and the judge had to deal with the consequences of their marriage that they entered into, and all the issues of their separation. The right for children to know the identity of their biological parents is a human right.

“There will be more cases like this if children are not given access to the truth. The needs of the child must always be paramount.”

 

ON GLOBAL WARMING

BR-R-R! WHERE DID GLOBAL WARMING GO?

As snow blanketed the deserts of Iran for the first time in living memory yesterday and Iranian motorists froze to death in their cars, Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby asks “Where did all the Global Warming go?”

Was Al Gore too busy collecting prizes in 2007 to notice?

Jacoby writes:

The stark headline appeared just over a year ago. “2007 to be ‘warmest on record,’ “ BBC News reported on Jan. 4, 2007. Citing experts in the British government’s Meteorological Office, the story announced that “the world is likely to experience the warmest year on record in 2007,” surpassing the all-time high reached in 1998.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the planetary hot flash: Much of the planet grew bitterly cold.

In South America, for example, the start of winter last year was one of the coldest ever observed... The death toll for the 10-day cold wave was the highest for any single weather event in Argentina in recent history.” In Buenos Aires, it snowed for the first time in 89 years, while in Peru the cold was so intense that hundreds of people died and the government declared a state of emergency in 14 of the country’s 24 provinces. In August, Chile’s agriculture minister lamented “the toughest winter we have seen in the past 50 years,” which caused losses of at least $200 million in destroyed crops and livestock.

Latin Americans weren’t the only ones shivering. University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming, a specialist in temperature and heat flow, notes in the Washington Times that “unexpected bitter cold swept the entire Southern Hemisphere in 2007.” Johannesburg experienced its first significant snowfall in a quarter-century. Australia had its coldest ever June. New Zealand’s vineyards lost much of their 2007 harvest when spring temperatures dropped to record lows.

Closer to home, 44.5 inches of snow fell in New Hampshire last month, breaking the previous record of 43 inches, set in 1876. And the Canadian government is forecasting the coldest winter in 15 years.

... Just last month, more than 100 scientists signed a strongly worded open letter to [UN Sec.-Gen.] Ban pointing out that climate change is a well-known natural phenomenon, and that adapting to it is far more sensible than attempting to prevent it. Because slashing carbon dioxide emissions means retarding economic development, they warned, “the current US approach of CO2 reduction is likely to increase human suffering from future climate change rather than to decrease it.”

Climate science isn’t a religion, and those who dispute its leading theory are not heretics. Much remains to be learned about how and why climate changes, and there is neither virtue nor wisdom in an emotional rush to counter global warming – especially if what’s coming is a global Big Chill.

***

For some background stories on this issue, see:
(1) Weather Channel boss calls global warming “the greatest scam in history
(2) Al Gore’s inconvenient judgment

 

Saturday, January 12, 2008

NOW THE GLOBAL COOLING REACHES IRAQ AND SAUDI ARABIA

Following up my item earlier in the week (Br-r-r! Where Did Global Warming Go?), snow yesterday reached Baghdad, Reuters reports:

Snow fell on Baghdad on Friday for the first time in memory, and delighted residents declared it an omen of peace.

“It is the first time we’ve seen snow in Baghdad,” said 60-year-old Hassan Zahar. “We’ve seen sleet before, but never snow. I looked at the faces of all the people, they were astonished,” he said.

Tom Gross adds: The next day snow fell in areas of Saudi Arabia where it had also not fallen in living memory.

 

Friday, January 18, 2008

EMERGENCY WARNING FOR SIBERIA: MINUS 67 FAHRENHEIT

After the unprecedented snow storms in Iraq and Iran, yet more signs of global warming?

Siberia has issue an emergency warning as a near record bout of cold weather is forecast. Temperatures are predicted to reach minus 55 degrees Celsius (minus 67 Fahrenheit) which officials fear may lead to dozens of people freezing to death. They say the extreme chill is expected to last until January 21st.

-- Tom Gross


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.