Saturday, October 04, 2008

Back to Blogging: Watching the NY Times Lay Down

     Been away from the computer for a while.  The author of FiveThirtyEight is pro-Obama, but his methodology is public.  His polling aggregation is fairly attractive, and the numbers about now look good (if you don't want John McCain to win, anyway, they look good).

     A french paper of non-high-repute published a communique between a Deputy French Ambassador and the French government, suggesting a dictator for Afghanistan is probably NATO's best bet.  The story included a comment that the U.S./NATO plan is doomed.  But a few other NY Times stories basically laid down for the administration.  There was a very long story on a holiday (Eid al-Fitr, end of Ramadan) party held by Iraqis.  Yah?  Really?  Give with the details, NY Times!  Um, I take it back!  A story on Afghanistan's poppy production was basically the repeat of the hopes and wishes of the Governor of Helmand.  The story re-affirms the hard-to-believe story that the poppy problem is a Taliban problem.  Helmand is not near the many parts of Afghanistan which are increasingly Taliban controlled.  In fact, this U.S. State Department map of poppy production from March, 2008 doesn't overlap well at all with this 2007 map of Taliban influence.  Sure, the Taliban has influence in Helmand, which is a Pushtun(Pashto-speaking) area, but they are much stronger in/near the Waziris, Peshawar and Jalalabad.  I suppose they could be farming in the South and sending the funds to the East, but they are strong in the East, not so much in the South.  Here is another, more recent, map of violence in Afghanistan, which furthers the point.

     The NY Times laid down again when discussing violence in Somalia.  The article starts by bemoaning the lack of health services in one of the most anarchic nation-sized places on Earth, firmly blaming the Somali Islamists who are battling the Ethiopian backed government.  But Somalia is actually divided into Somaliland, Puntland, Gulmudug and Ethiopian/Islamist embattled areas.  Most of the physical space of Somalia has no connection to the Ethiopian connected areas, much of which has been under very limited control of the Ethiopian backed government at any time (De Jure Government areas on the map).  Do I want Islamists to run Somalia?  No, I'd prefer they got their act together, educated their kids until their brains spin, and ran their own show.  Arguably, I'm for Greater Somalia (although I know neither Kenya nor Ethiopia is going to give up an acre of land without first shooting a lot of people, no matter what the people on that land might want).

     Somalian Islamists are throwing out _two_ (not all) aid groups from their areas.  This a week after four CARE offices were raided.  The NY Times doesn't even ponder that maybe the US Gov't was using these groups as cover for their operatives.  Keeping Americans ignorant is the job of a newspaper?  Bah.

Another article, which I swear did more covering for Wall St. in the print version, suggests that Germany might weather some sort of global depression (always possible, now more likely than some other times) best.

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