October 29, 2006
One of the funnier films at the Berlinale was the U.S. documentary The Yes Men, which follows the antics of a group of political activists who impersonate the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Yes Men started by creating the bogus website gwbush.org during George W. Bush’s 2000 election campaign. They quickly moved on to bigger and better things by creating the gatt.org website, which many groups mistook for the WTO’s website. Soon, they were receiving invitations to international conferences (in Austria and Finland) and even television programs (CNBC Marketwrap Europe) to speak on behalf of the WTO. They attended these events posing as WTO representatives, but instead of talking about real policies, they lectured on such ideas as selling votes to the highest corporate bidder, allowing countries to commit human rights abuses with a system of “justice vouchers”, and even combating widespread hunger by making the poor eat “recycled” hamburgers. The film does a great job of showing activists “on the front lines” while making a strong case for their ideological viewpoints, plus its often very funny subject matter was a welcome relief from all of the heavy films shown at the festival. (KG)
October 27, 2006
Okay (so I have been told), perhaps the war in Iraq is an unconstitutional, unjust, illegal, immoral, and unnecessary war of aggression. But what’s a soldier to do? He can’t just walk away. It’s too far to swim across the Atlantic. And besides, there is no draft. Every soldier joined the military of his own free will. He committed himself to serve for a certain number of years. He just can’t quit. He isn’t allowed to change his job. It doesn’t matter what his opinion of the war is now, he took an oath to obey the president and his officers.
October 25, 2006
Barack Obama: ‘I Inhaled — That Was The Point’
“I inhaled — that was the point.”
That was what Illinois Senator Barack Obama, currently on a book tour that may or may not segue into a run for the 2008 presidency, said to New Yorker editor David Remnick this afternoon at the American Magazine Conference, after Remnick asked Obama whether or not his admission of drug use in the book would become problematic if he does, if fact, run for president.
The softspoken Obama, who during an appearance on Meet The Press yesterday admitted he would consider a run for the White House, openly criticized the Bush administration in front of 500 or so magazine executives during a wide-ranging, 45-minute discussion, occasionally with Remnick’s prodding. “This is the most ideologically driven administration in my memory, so obstinate in resisting facts, dissenting opinions … [They entered the White House] with a set of preconcieved notions.” Obama said. “I think this administration has done great damage to this country.”
“I wouldn’t fit in with this administration [because I think] actually being informed is a good basis for policy,” Obama said to laughter. “OK, that’s a low-blow.”
Obama was particularly critical of the war in Iraq. “We’ve used up so much political capital [in Iraq],” adding that it is “going to take the current military the same amount of time it took the military to recover from Vietnam.”
After some lighthearted grilling, Obama said Remnick “sounds nicer in his columns, but turns out to be somewhat of a prickly guy.”
Remnick, who at this point could be considered the President of the United States of Magazines, forced Obama to address the topic of religion. “It’s not ‘faith’ if you are absolutely certain,” Obama said, noting that he didn’t believe his lack of “faith” would hurt him a national election. “Evolution is more grounded in my experience than angels.”
Throughout the interview, Obama expressed doubt about his willingness to put his family through the scrutiny of a presidential race. “My wife would be leading the bandwagon for me to be running for president … if I was married to someone else.”
When asked if the White House would be a plac e worth inheriting in 2009, Obama said, “There are a lot of problems to clean up, and nopt a lot of resources to work with.” He added that the first agenda of a new president should be to “stabilize and extricate ourselves” from Iraq.
FishbowlNY will be blogging live this week from the American Magazine Conference — the annual pow-wow of high-powered magazine executives — at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa in Phoenix. Check back often for our extended coverage.
FishbowlNY’s AMC 2006 Coverage:
October 24, 2006
Bush: ‘We’ve Never Been Stay The Course’
During an interview today on ABC’s This Week, President Bush tried to distance himself from what has been his core strategy in Iraq for the last three years. George Stephanopoulos asked about James Baker’s plan to develop a strategy for Iraq that is “between ’stay the course’ and ‘cut and run.’”
Bush responded, ‘We’ve never been stay the course, George!’ Watch it:
Bush is wrong:
We’ve lost battle for Baghdad, US admits
· President concedes war may be at turning point
· Mounting death toll brings comparison with Vietnam
Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
Friday October 20, 2006
Victims of a roadside bomb in Baghdad yesterday. Photograph: Hadi Mizban/AP
A day after George Bush conceded for the first time that America may have reached the equivalent of a Tet offensive in Iraq, the Pentagon yesterday admitted defeat in its strategy of securing Baghdad.The admission from President Bush that the US may have arrived at a turning point in this war – the Tet offensive led to a massive loss of confidence in the American presence in Vietnam – comes during one of the deadliest months for US forces since the invasion.
Yesterday the number of US troops killed since October 1 rose to 73, deepening the sense that America is trapped in an unwinnable situation and further damaging Republican chances in midterm elections that are less than three weeks away.
In Baghdad a surge in sectarian killings has forced the Pentagon to review its entire security plan for the capital, Major General William Caldwell, a US military spokesman, said yesterday. more
October 19, 2006
Having Halloween spirit is fine, but don’t forget the common sense
Osama bin Laden is just one costume air travelers and airline staff should avoid this Halloween, James Wysong writes.
by James Wysong
Updated: 1:01 p.m. ET Oct 18
On Halloween, most airline crew members are allowed to wear a costume to work. Some costumes are elaborate and well thought out, while others look like a last-minute throw-together. Sometimes passengers get into the spirit and dress up as well. Every year there is someone — a passenger or a crew member — who takes dress-up a little too far.
The following are costumes that I have actually seen at the airport, along with the consequences that followed.
Osama bin Laden. Maybe funny at a college frat party, but a little too close to the bone at the airport. The person who did this was — believe it or not — a pilot, and let’s just say it went over like a lead balloon. I laughed, not at his costume but at his surprise when he discovered the authorities didn’t think it was funny.
October 18, 2006
An internet user has been found guilty of what police said was Britain’s first “web-rage” attack.
Paul Gibbons, 47, tracked down John Jones using details obtained online after the pair exchanged insults in an internet chatroom, a court heard.
He travelled 70 miles to Mr Jones’ home in Clacton, Essex, and beat him up with a pickaxe handle in December 2005.
Gibbons, of Southwark, south London, admitted unlawful wounding and will be sentenced on 7 November.
October 15, 2006
By DAVID CAY JOHNSTON
A decade after competition was introduced in their industries, long-distance phone rates had fallen by half, air fares by more than a fourth and trucking rates by a fourth. But a decade after the federal government opened the business of generating electricity to competition, the market has produced no such decline.
October 14, 2006
CHICAGO (Reuters) – The chief executive of health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc. (NYSE:UNH – news), which has been criticized for its stock options accounting for top executives, is under pressure from board members to resign, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.
The fate of William McGuire, whose options are worth about $1.6 billion, may be decided at a Sunday board meeting, the paper said. more
October 14, 2006
LSD Mystery: In 2002, Justice Dept. OK’d Dosing Detainees
By Justin Rood – October 13, 2006, 3:18 PM
After reporting yesterday that lawyers for Jose Padilla accused government interrogators of forcing their client to take drugs similar to LSD or PCP, more than a few people wondered if I had been slipped a couple tabs myself. full story