Day: May 11, 2003

Correcting the Record:

The Times airs its dirty laundry in agonizing detail. The article is frank about the extent of fabrication and plagiarism in ex-reporter Jayson Blair’s high-visibility national reporting on such issues as the Washington sniper attacks, the domestic reaction to the invasion of Iraq, and the rescue of Jessica Lynch. The crucial issue in this abrogation of the public trust in the Times, however — how he could get away with it for so long — is glossed over in one brief paragraph:

The investigation suggests several reasons Mr. Blair’s deceits went undetected for so long: a failure of communication among senior editors; few complaints from the subjects of his articles; his savviness and his ingenious ways of covering his tracks. Most of all, no one saw his carelessness as a sign that he was capable of systematic fraud.

(Sound of the wind blowing as The Times neatly sidesteps any corporate responsibility). In an accompanying editorial note, the mea culpa is similarly tight-lipped: “The Times regrets that it did not detect the journalistic deceptions sooner. A separate internal inquiry, by the management, will examine the newsroom’s processes for training, assignment and accountability.”

Annals of Emerging Disease (cont’d.):

Why Is Jonathan Simms Still Alive? “Jonathan Simms lies in a bed at a hospital somewhere in Belfast — the British courts will not allow the press to say exactly where. He is thin and pale, and on the wall behind him his parents have propped photos taken in happier times, to show the staff the handsome 18-year-old locked within this shell. It is hard to see the connection between that vibrant young man and the one who lies here now, jerking with involuntary spasms.” NY Times

Are We Grown Up Yet?

Study Says Not ‘Till 26. I had a friend who was running for political office many years ago . Asked about his platform on abortion, he jokingly said he thought it should be legal until the fetus was 21 years old. Perhaps today he’d say 26…

No Joke??

Man Advertises ‘Son for Sale’ on Internet

A man who jokingly offered his five-year-old son for sale on the Internet has had to explain himself to police after a complaint from a concerned web surfer….

‘Hyperactive kid for sale, good at vacuuming, not great at washing dishes because he’s too short,’ the ad read. ‘Guaranteed to annoy. Five pounds ($8) or nearest offer.’

Yahoo! News

Ponds provide theory on anthrax attacks

The FBI has a new theory on a central mystery of the 2001 anthrax attacks after finding evidence in a pond in Maryland that may suggest how an ingenious criminal could have packed deadly anthrax spores into envelopes without killing or sickening himself.


A piece of equipment and other evidence recovered this northern winter from ice-covered ponds in Frederick Municipal Forest have reinvigorated the 18-month-old case, leading officials to explore a novel theory with shades of science fiction.


Some involved in the case believe the killer may have waded into shallow water to delicately manipulate anthrax bacteria into envelopes, working within a partly submerged airtight chamber. When finished, the killer could have hidden the evidence by dumping contaminated equipment and clothing into the pond. Sydney Morning Herald

The theory strengthens suspicions about former US Army infectious disease researcher Steven Hatfill, who also has diving qualifications.

What is the psychological toll

of living under a brutal totalitarian regime for a quarter century?: “…A minor incident, perhaps, but one that reveals many of the psychologically most debilitating forces at work in a brutal totalitarian state: the intrusive cult of personality; the ruthless indoctrination of children; the pervasive atmosphere of paranoia; the frightening potential for one inconsequential event, remark, or gesture to become grounds for severe reprisal. Today, as the people of Iraq are suspended between the death of the old system and the uncertainty of the new, the emotional consequences of living in this regime are most likely to be experienced by the victims, the torturers, and the millions of silently complicit citizens who simply tried to survive the 24 years of Saddam’s tyranny. As the experiences of Cambodia, Chile, Germany, South Africa, Rwanda, and the former Soviet Union have shown, repairing the hearts and minds of the citizenry may prove far more difficult–and more important–than restoring the electrical grids or the water supply.” US News

And: “the strained relations between Germany and the United States took a turn for the worse yesterday after a senior Berlin diplomat was reported to have told Foreign Ministry colleagues that America was turning into a “police stateâ€�. Times of London