With Iraqi Shiites cracking down on recalcitrant Sunnis, Baghdad is experiencing a new surge of car bombs. 17 explosions went off across Iraq on Friday, and another 5 on Saturday. Another suicide bomb on Sunday killed 30 people and wounded 50 more.
Techno brain drain : The U.S. bows out of a market it created.
IBM FINALIZES THE SALE OF ITS PC DIVISION TO CHINA
Lenovo, new parent of the "Think Pad" is partially owned by the Chinese government, and was founded in 1984 by academics at the government-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences. First set up to distribute equipment made by IBM and other companies, by 1990 it was selling PCs under its own brand name.
IBM now focuses on consulting and software, outsourcing much of its manufacturing. The sale to Lenovo is expected to cut production costs and breathe new life into the PC business, which now accounts for a small portion of IBM's total sales and profits.
IBM had 5 percent of the worldwide PC market in 2004, selling 6.8 million units, according to Gartner Inc., a U.S. technology consulting firm. That compares with 16.4 percent for Dell Inc. and 13.9 percent for Hewlett-Packard Inc., which makes the HP and Compaq brands. Lenovo ranked fifth in sales worldwide.
(AP, May 1, 2005)
-BBC: both the Justice Department and Homeland Security worried about industrial espionnage.
TAKING THE LIFE OUT OF PUBLIC BROADCASTING
Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, a former editor-in-chief of Readers Digest, may have been joking when he told a meeting of the Association of Public Television Broadcasters last November that they had better make sure that their programming reflected the Republican mandate, but Tomlinson's actions since being appointed chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting have not been particularly humorous. Tomlinson took after Bill Moyers' program Now with a vengeance, hiring outside consultants to gather dirt on what he saw as a liberal bias. Then Tomlinson fired the Corporation's president and chief executive officer, Kathleen Cox and tried to replace her with the White House's head of global communications. After that Tomlinson tried to hawk a show presenting the right wing views of the Wall Street Journal's editorial page pundits. With news reporting in the three major television networks effectively neutered by infotainment, sports marathons and idiotic "reality" programming, the politicization of public broadcasting, threatens to cut off the last source of serious news left in the U.S. As one Eastern European reporter commented recently, American journalism is beginning to sound like the old Soviet Union. Stephen Labaton, Lorne Manly and Elizabeth Jensen report on Tomlinson's maneuvers in the New York Times. (NYT, May 2, 2005)
THE GLOBAL LOCOMOTIVE RUNS OUT OF STEAM
IN CERTAIN quarters in America, a dreadful word is once again being whispered. “Stagflation”, that puzzling combination of high inflation and economic stagnation, was once thought impossible...(The Economist, April 29, 2005)
SURGE IN NEW VIOLENCE
Baghdad is still reeling from Friday's bloodshed in which 17 bombs exploded, killing 50 people. At least five car bombs exploded in Baghdad Saturday (Tracy McVeigh, The Guardian, May 1, 2005)
-NY Times Updates on latest attacks
--A $35,000 cab ride on the "road of death"
(The Nation, May 2)
--River Bend on the bombing: saved by the carrots(May 2)
IRAQI SHIITES MOVE AGAINST THE SUNNIS
Iraq's Shiite Muslim leadership, alarmed by a surge in attacks, plans to crack down on Sunni-led insurgents and purge suspected infiltrators and corrupt officers from the nation's security forces... A likely tactic is unleashing well-trained Iraqi commandos in Baghdad and other trouble spots. The special forces units have a reputation for effectiveness and brutality... (Patrick J. McDonnell and Solomon Moore, LA Times, May 1, 2005)
A GOVERNMENT THAT LACKS CRITICAL PIECES
The dominant forces in the new cabinet are the mainly Shia Unified Iraqi Alliance (UIA), which won 140 of the 275 seats in the end-January election, and the Kurdish alliance, which has 75 seats in the national assembly. The Iraqi List, headed by the outgoing prime minister, Ayad Allawi, is not represented in the new government. Mr Allawi had demanded four seats in the cabinet for his list, which won 40 seats in the election. This was too much for Mr Jaafari to accommodate. (Economist Intelligence Unit Viewswire, April 28, 2005)
HOW ZARQAWI FITS IN WITH BIN LADEN
Abu Mu'sab al-Zarqawi is the most important addition to Osama bin Laden's Al qaeda, since it absorbed Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad... Bin Laden's late-December, 2004, welcome of Zarqawi into the World Front, as always, bore no hint that al-Qaeda would control Zarqawi's operations. Bin Laden's acceptance of Zarqawi's group came after almost a year of talks between "Shaykh Abu Mus'ab … and the brothers of al-Qaeda," and more than two months after Zarqawi announced he and his "soldiers have pledged allegiance to the ‘Shaykh of Mujahideen' Osama Bin Laden and they will follow his orders in jihad for the sake of God…." (Jamestown Foundation, April 29, 2005)
WINNERS AND LOSERS IN THE SUPERPOWER RACE
Of the two superpowers that faced each other down in an almost half-century-long Cold War, one -- the United States -- emerged victorious, alone in the world, economically powerful, militarily dominant; the other, never the stronger of the two, limped off, its empire shattered and scattered, its people impoverished and desperate, its military a shell of its former self. This is a story we all know, and more or less accept. Winner/loser, victor/vanquished. It makes sense. That's the way we expect matches, competitions, struggles, wars to end. But what if, as I've suggested recently, the Cold War turned out to be a loser/loser contest? (Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, May 2, 2005)
ITALIAN REPORT SUGGESTS LACK OF TRAINING AND NERVOUSNESS LED TO AMERICAN G.I.s ACCIDENTALLY SHOOTING SECRET SERVICE AGENT
Stress, fatigue and the inexperience of some U.S. soldiers led to the shooting death of an Italian intelligence officer at a Baghdad checkpoint, Italian investigators have concluded in their own report..."It is likely that the state of tension stemming from the conditions of time, circumstances and place, as well as possibly some degree of inexperience and stress might have led some soldiers to instinctive and little-controlled reactions..." The Italians note that the U.S. removed the vehicle from the scene before forensic experts could determine what had actually happened, and no effort was made to mark the car's actual position after the shooting.(CBC News, May 2, 2005)
-Comparing the Italian and U.S. reports (Boston Globe, May 2)
NORTH KOREA'S INTERNAL CRISIS
North Korea is undergoing the most profound economic changes since its founding. It is unclear if the regime is capable of fully embracing the market; no major new economic engagement should be attempted until the nuclear issue is resolved. Nevertheless, the international community has an opportunity to increase the chances that North Korea will make a successful transition from a Stalinist command economy to one that is more market-driven and integrated into the global economy. Facilitating its economic reforms remains the best strategy for pushing the North towards more acceptable international conduct. (International Crisis Group, April 29, 2005)
-Part 1 of the report: How the bin Laden front strategises against the world
TOM FRIEDMAN AT THE CSIS-GLOBALIZATION 3.0
In a talk given at the Center for Strategic and International Studies' annual Global Strategy Institute conference, Tom Friedman suggests that the interconnectedness of the world was not planned, but is now having an enormous impact through the ease with which people can collaborate on single projects from vantage points that span continents.
Friedman's talk is viewable segments on line. (Tom Friedman, CSIS, April 22, 2005)
HOW TERRORISTS LEARN
Better ways are needed to understand how terrorist groups become more effective and dangerous. Learning is the link between what a group wants to do and its ability to actually do it; the latest RAND study, downloadable in pdf format, analyzes current understanding of group learning and the factors that influence it and outlines a framework that should be useful in present analytical efforts and for identifying areas requiring further study. (Rand, April 2005)
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PROTESTS AGAINST THE WARS IN VIETNAM AND IRAQ
Two reputable polls last month found more than 50 percent of Americans saying that the Iraq war wasn’t worthwhile. By a narrow margin, more Americans agree than disagree with the statement that Bush deliberately misled the country into Iraq in his prime claim: weapons of mass destruction. The 50 percent who now believe that Bush deceived them contrasts with 31 percent who thought so less than two years ago, according to Gallup. The worth-it numbers have been sliding downward, on the whole, for more than a year. You’d think, then, that an anti-war movement that mustered millions of American marchers before March 2003, when the war started, would be revving up again...It isn’t. Recent rallies have been local and, for the most part, small. Anti-war groups are modest in their plans. The mood is often as mournful as it is militant. The deep truth about this time of perplexity is that the groups reflect their base. Whatever their leaders may want, they read the temperature of those who would have to follow—and they read it accurately.(Tod Gitlin, TomPaine.com, May 2, 2005)
Doug Feith, a major proponent and strategist of the War in Iraq is slated to be the next neocon to exit the administration. Three different investigations by the FBI didn't help his case.
THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST?
A New Yorker profile by Jeffrey Goldberg recounts that Douglas Feith is a history buff with 5,000 volumes in his home library. Studying the records of past leaders did not seem to prevent Feith from encountering disaster himself while trying to reshape the Middle East. While working as the Defense Department's Under Secretary for Policy, and the third most powerful figure in the Pentagon, Feith ultimately came under investigation from the FBI after it was discovered that Israeli intelligence was being given access to classified U.S. defense information controlled by his office. Goldberg reports that General Tommy Franks, who actually ran the initial U.S. invasions in Afghanistan and Iraq, called Feith, “the f-----g stupidest guy on the face of the earth,” General Peter Pace, George W. Bush's latest nomination for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, considers Feith a "true American patriot" and intimidating because he is "so smart."
When Goldberg suggested that the loss of more than 1,500 American soldiers in Iraq, and the wounding of another 12,000 or more might be considered by many Americans to be a large and terrible loss, Feith seemed to have trouble understanding the question. "Based on what?" he replied. “It’s a large sacrifice. It’s a serious loss. It’s an absolute disaster for the families. Nobody can possibly deny how horrible the loss is for the families involved. But this was an operation to prevent the next, as it were, 9/11, the next major attack that could kill tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of Americans, and Iraq is a country of twenty-five million people and it was a major enterprise.”
“The main rationale was not based on intelligence,” Feith added. “It was known to anyone who read newspapers and knew history. Saddam had used nerve gas, he had invaded his neighbors more than once, he had attacked other neighbors, he was hostile to us, he supported numerous terrorist groups. It’s true that he didn’t have a link that we know of to 9/11. . . . But he did give safe haven to terrorists.” Goldberg's profile makes compelling reading. whether the sacrifice of American lives and money is justified by the results in Iraq and a destabilized Middle East is another question.
(Jeffrey Goldberg, The New Yorker, May 2, 2005)
IS THE NEW YORK TIMES A LIBERAL NEWSPAPER?
The New York Times' ombud, Daniel Okrent, points out that the characterization depends to a certain extent on your point of view. Times publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, likes to describe the paper as "urban." In fact, both labels probably mean more or less the same thing. Just look at George Bush's pseudo cowboy boots, and his obvious discomfort with spending time in Washington. " if you're examining the paper's coverage of these subjects from a perspective that is neither urban nor Northeastern nor culturally seen-it-all," observes Okrent. "If you are among the groups The Times treats as strange objects to be examined on a laboratory slide (devout Catholics, gun owners, Orthodox Jews, Texans); if your value system wouldn't wear well on a composite New York Times journalist, then a walk through this paper can make you feel you're traveling in a strange and forbidding world. "
Okrent doesn't quote Hunter Thompson in his column, but it is hard not to think of how Thompson captured the current mood when he observed that, "when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." the U.S. is getting pretty weird these days. Okrent says he considered this one of his most important columns. Whether the Times is liberal or urban, it has tried to steer a straight course in an increasingly turbulent era.
(Dan Okrent, New York Times, May 1, 2005)
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