Sunday Times of London:
– Fascinating story of the new world of war: How the US killed Al-Qaeda leaders by remote control — “The Predator was providing a live battlefield television picture back to control rooms at the US Central Command in Tampa…”
– The battle in Mediastan: Brit papers fight their own war over the war… “Life under a tabloid regime may at times be nasty, brutal and short-paragraphed….” And in this fight, Andrew Sullivan is the cluster bomb: “With amazing swiftness and surprising finality, the enemy caved in last week…. Never before in the field of human conflict have so many armchair generals been exposed as idiots in such a short period of time.”The Guardian’s take.
– And the Telegraph says we don’t want bin Laden alive. Probably true. How do you put him on trial? To quote: “President Bush has insisted all along that he wanted bin Laden ‘dead or alive’. It is now clear that he wants him dead…. The Prime Minister evidently realises that ‘justice’ for bin Laden can no longer mean months listening to lawyers in a courtroom in New York, the Hague, or anywhere else. It means a bullet in the back of the head, or immolation in a cave hit by a ‘bunker-buster’ bomb…. ‘I love death as much as you love life’, bin Laden told a Pakistani journalist who interviewed him last week. As the net closes around him, he may start to reconsider that judgment. He might now come to realise that he can inflict more damage on his enemies if, rather than dying in some vast blood-soaked conflagration, he decides to give himself up. The worst outcome for the West would be if bin Laden uses one of his televised appearances to tell the world that he wants to be tried by an international court. The Americans have already tried to make that option more difficult for him, by bombing his only outlet – the al-Jazeera television centre in Kabul – to smithereens. Let us hope that he stays in love with death, and never looks for a way to ensure that he receives a trial. For if he does, we might be forced to give him one.”
This wonderful web:
Yesterday, I threw out bait to three of my favorite webloggers hoping they’d tackle some new antiwar bilge from Brit John Pilger. I knew they’d do a better job than I could refuting the twit, for I was tired and sick (and sick and tired) and not as smart as any of them. So Matt Welch swallowed the bait and wrote an intelligent and reasoned yet nicely bitchy retort.
This is one of those moments that makes me marvel still at the wonders of the Web. I felt like I did when I was a plain print editor, handing a story to a reporter in a room filled with them: “Welch, see what you can find here.” And this Welch would return with the facts and a good story and thus news was made. Now the Web helps do that.
The Web — and webloggers in particular — add perspective that rarely could exist in print because newspapers and magazines and TV are all one-way media; editors are all about telling you what they think you should know. But the Web is about listening to the audience; the audience owns this medium. And the audience is smart; they call us in the media when we’re wrong (see Andrew Sullivan every day these days and also Nick Denton today on the war quagmirists).
It also still amazes me still how this audience can coalesce into community that freely and eagerly contributes value to each other; I see it every day in my job at Advance.net, where in just one of our local services the forum traffic on just one high-school sport can add up to hundreds of thousands of page views and thousands of posts a day; interactivity is the heartbeat and soul my services and our medium. Here, too, in the land of warblogs, there is a fast community forming. I’ve never met Welch, Ken Layne, Sullivan, Charles Johnson, Thomas Nephew, Dan Hartung, Reid Stott, or Bj¯rn StÊrk but I admire and like them (even if I often don’t agree with them) and feel as if I’ve come to know them and their views over beers instead of blogs. Damn, I love this.
– Note also that it took a web site, Rotten.com, to uncover the fact that the nuclear clues found in Kabul by the Times of London (I fell for this too) were really just an old parody. The web is a reporter (albeit often unreliable) that never sleeps.
– New tool #1: If you haven’t yet found this, Columbia U has created a neat Newsblaster that automatically categorizes headlines from major news sources. Pretty good. Long ago, the MIT Media Lab’s Fishwrap tried to do this. And, of course, Moreover does this with thousands of sources.
– New tool #2: At least it’s new to me… Vivisimo is a meta-search-engine that also categorizes search results very nicely and also offers searches of the web and of news.
– See, the Web is like real life. I’m already fearing that Newsblaster, Moreover, and Vivisimo will put us human Webloggers out of work.
– Any of the bloggers above could have fun, too, with the latest from Palestinian Prof Edward Said in Al-Ahram. Smelling defeat in Afghanistan and, coincidentally, for Yasser Arafat’s political dynasty as well — even as Washington and London start talking credibly of a Palestinian state — Said again executes the intellectual suicide of tying bin Laden’s terror with Western and Israeli sins in the Middle East. I had this same argument the other night with my minister, believe it or not. They both say there is justice in the Palestinian cause and there is injustice in America’s and Israel’s actions. Fine; we can discuss that. But how does that connect with a madman’s mass murder? If you try to tie them at all, you try to justify bin Laden’s actions — and, at the same time, you devalue and dirty any arguments about Palestine and America and Israel. There is no justification. What bin Laden has done is, yes, evil; it is terrorism; it is hate-motivated murder and everyone on every side should be agreeing at least on that. Separately, of course, we must find solutions to the problems in the Middle East but we cannot fall into the trap of doing that in reaction to murder and evil and terror. We cannot fall into the trap of letting the terrorist set the agenda by thinking that our sins led to his evil. Nothing leads to evil acts but evil itself.
– Timing is everything: Lake Effects giggles over Geraldo Rivera’s arrival as a war correspondent at just about the moment when the war (in Afghanistan, at least) is ending.