In a Time of Universal Deceit, Telling the Truth is Revolutionary.
Thursday, February 2, 2023

Iraq unsafe for U.S. officials

US officials were barred on Wednesday from traveling by land outside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone amid fears of attacks after the alleged killing of civilians by private security firm Blackwater.

The suspension came as Washington grappled with ways to curb the damage from Sunday’s clash in which Blackwater guards escorting US embassy officials opened fire in a Baghdad neighborhood, killing 10 people and wounding 13.

Blackwater denies any wrongdoing but a top Iraqi judge has said the US firm, one of the largest private security operators in Iraq, could face trial.

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Will the real John Edwards stand up?

John Edwards’ presidential campaign is not so much about the “two Americas” as it is about the two John Edwardses.

One image of Edwards is that he’s a champion of the embattled middle class and poor, an up-from-his-bootstraps populist waging war against special interests who favor the rich and established.

The other take: He’s a phony.

Which is it? Is the Democratic presidential candidate a man of the people, as he says, or the fake his rivals call him?

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Who monitors the mercenaries?

The fog of war keeps getting thicker. The Iraqi government’s decision to temporarily ban the security company Blackwater USA after a fatal shooting of civilians in Baghdad reveals a growing web of rules governing weapons-bearing private contractors but few signs U.S. agencies are aggressively enforcing them.

Nearly a year after a law was passed holding contracted employees to the same code of justice as military personnel, the Bush administration has not published guidance on how military lawyers should do that, according to Peter Singer, a security industry expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington.

A Congressional Research Service report published in July said security contractors in Iraq operate under rules issued by the United States, Iraq and international entities such as the United Nations.

All have their limitations, however.

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Leaving the GOP

Lincoln D. Chafee, who lost his Senate seat in the wave of anti-Republican sentiment in last November’s election, said that he has left the party.

Chafee said Sunday he disaffiliated with the party he had helped lead, and his father had led before him, because the national Republican Party has gone too far away from his stance on too many critical issues, from war to economics to the environment.

“It’s not my party any more,” he said.

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So much for academic freedom

Southern California political, media and legal circles have been in a dither over the selection of liberal law professor Erwin Chemerinsky as dean of UC Irvine’s new law school, his de-selection after protests by conservative groups and his re-selection on Monday.

Setting aside the demonstrable fact that California needs another public law school like it needs another drought, it has been an unseemly situation at best, raising all sorts of questions about academic freedom.

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Bush’s new Attorney General

Sen. Charles Schumer, the liberal Democrat from New York, raised the hackles and suspicions of Republican conservatives when he spoke warmly of Michael Mukasey, President Bush’s choice to be U.S. attorney general, and said the former judge had the potential to be “a consensus nominee.”

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Piling on

If you are president of the United States, there must be many days when you wish you had stayed in bed. That has to be occurring more frequently for George W. Bush as his tenure in office draws slowly — perhaps all too so for him — to an end.

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Statistically speaking

The always-interesting “Almanac Issue” of The Chronicle of Higher Education arrived this week. Its 96 pages contain a fascinating array of significant and obscure statistics about the current state of higher education in our country. For instance, did you know that in 2005-06 the University of Southern California enrolled 6,881 foreign students, who comprised 21 percent of its student body?

Or that 4.2 percent of all college presidents who are not members of religious orders have never married? You could look it up.

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The issue here is black and white

I saw two football games this weekend, one live and one on TV, that each reminded me of what a complex issue affirmative action always is.

The TV game featured the San Diego Chargers, and I was shocked to learn that San Diego’s new coach is Norv Turner. Turner has compiled a poor record in a decade-long stint as an NFL head coach, but he keeps getting hired for some incomprehensible reason (San Diego is his third head coaching position).

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A big-bucks divorce case

The divorce case titled Scaife v. Scaife has wound its way through the courts under a blanket of secrecy as both sides struggle over a storied Pittsburgh fortune surpassing $1.4 billion and a temporary monthly alimony payment bigger than the life savings of most people.

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