– This is why I

– This is why I never go to journalism conferences and don’t even much like the word journalist, for it inspires sophomoric, out-of-touch, journalism-school discussions such as this one: At a media conference in Barcelona “journalists” complain about America’s “jingoistic” coverage of this World War III and one network exec even flogs himself for not clearly explaining to his audience after Sept. 11 why we Americans are hated: “We didn’t do such a good job in explaining to viewers what large numbers of people around the world find abhorrent in our foreign policy and culture”, he said. Bleep that! There is no legitimate connection, damnit. Evil crimes are never justified; hate is not a defense for evil; period. Pulling out the WWII card, that’s like saying that British journalists should have spent time explaining why Germans hated Jews — and to what end: to justify the holocaust? What does it serve to explain why bin Laden’s cultists hate us; it does not justify Sept. 11. It is intellectually, morally, and, yes, journalistically lazy to think that “balance” means reporting their hatred along with their crimes; it makes a connection that is illegitimate and even dangerous. So is it jingoistic to show the horror in America following Sept. 11? No, it’s reporting. Is it jingoistic to call a victory in Afghanistan good news? No, it’s what you should expect from American media — and it would be a lot more accurate than calling the war in Afghanistan a “quagmire.”

– Times of London reporter finds nuke documents in a bin Laden HQ in Kabul — also chemcial weapon material and flight manuals. More: Canadian passport applications, English language courses, bomb-making instructions using “domestic items, including Alka Seltzer tubes, condoms, wax, mousetraps and cigarettes as contact switches to initiate charges.”

– Whew: The eight aid workers are confirmed safe in Pakistan.

– Lest we forget: This war is really about protecting our freedom to drink overpriced, gritty coffee sold by an incredible egotist. Getaloada the self-lionizing by the head of Starbucks — the very same company that charged rescue workers for frigging water to treat people who survived the collapse of the World Trade Center.

– A bravo and attaboy to a gloating Christopher Hitchens [via Andrew Sullivan]: “If the silly policy of a Ramadan pause had been adopted, the citizens of Kabul would have still been under a regime of medieval cruelty, and their oppresssors would have been busily regrouping, not praying. Anyhow, what a damn-fool proposal to start with. I don’t stop insulting the Christian coalition at Eastertime. Come Yom Kippur I tend to step up my scornful remarks about Zionism. Whatever happened to the robust secularism that used to help characterise the left?… It was obvious from the very start that the United States had no alternative but to do what it has done. It was also obvious that defeat was impossible. The Taliban will soon be history. Al-Qaida will take longer. There will be other mutants to fight… There are more of us and we are both smarter and nicer, as well as surprisingly insistent that our culture demands respect, too.”

– Red Cross just announced that 100 percent of Liberty Fund money will go to families affected by the 9/11 attacks. Bravo and at last.

– The Times of India was the first source I found to report to fall of Kabul. Now they are reporting the fall of Kandahar.

– They also report that a deposed Afghan president and the deposed king are packing their bags for Kabul.

– Sun calls this V.K. Day.

– Turkish Daily News hears war drums in Iraq.

– ABC reporter Sebastian Junger in Kabul.

– Royal-minded Saudi site pushes for return of Afghan king.

– The authorities are falling over themselves too quickly to try to reassure us all that the JFK crash might not have been terrorism — but in the process, they’re only freaking me more. Yesterday, we were hearing the engines in tons of our planes (including Air Force I) are faulty — but today, we learn it wasn’t the jets. Then we heard it could be a bird, a little bird that brings down a giant jet and 260 lives — but it’s no bird. Today, we hear it could be turbulence — aka wind. This is not reassuring. Neither is the thought of the passenger in the next seat peeing or barfing on you in the last half-hour of a flight — or the thought of being shot while trying to make it to the bathroom. My next vacation plan: Discover New Jersey.

– Government used nuke defense plan on Sept. 11, says the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

– Yes, this is what the world is coming to: “Hundreds of thousands of childrenís letters to Santa Claus will be irradiated against anthrax so volunteers wonít hesitate to respond to this yearís heart-tugging requests, the U.S. Postal Service said.”

– Well-said: The Telegraph celebrates

– Well-said: The Telegraph celebrates the victory (so far).

– Howard Stern is properly pissed this morning about the government falling over itself to assume the JFK crash is an accident. We don’t know yet.

– Mohammed Atta picks up a ladyfriend on a flight. [Via Moonfarmer]

– Oh, hell, our side is winning. The Northern Alliance is in Kabul. This could be bad news for lots of reasons, primarily: Once the Taliban is defeated, every fair-weather ally will want us to stop fighting when, in fact, the enemy is everywhere, including Iraq. It will be harder to keep the PR coalition together as the war continues. Nick Denton‘s two cents: “I would rather the Islamic international brigade stay there, and die there, rather than leach out full of revenge into the wider world.”

Ken Layne is a one-man blogfest this week; lots of good posts.

– Thomas (Newsrack) Nephew has a fun feud with a German editor over their odd opinion of taking on oppression. He says to me: “I keep thinking, naively, jeez, you’d think they’d jump at a chance to join the civilized world in doing the right thing…. Maybe I should take it easier on Germany: the US public wasn’t exactly gung-ho about taking on Hitler, either, once upon a time. In fact, Hitler had to declare war on us to really get our attention.”

– Here’s one reason Germans are hinky on deploying troops: It could cause the government to fall. Schroeder calls for a confidence vote on Afghan war troops.

Kabul: Get out the razors, burn the burqas.

Guardian lead: “American Airlines flight 587, bound for Santo Domingo, crashes into Queens. ‘It is a test,’ Mayor Giuliani says. I believe him. I just wish I knew who was doing the testing: God or Osama bin Laden?”

– Mirror page 1: Same City, Same Airline, Same Time… Coincidence or Bin Laden?

– Times of India says

– Times of India says Northern Alliance troops enter Kabul … already.

– Brief but vivid report from the front in the London Times: “…The general, his wooden right leg stuck out stiffly before him, turned and waved on a group held in reserve behind him. In no time nearly 100 Mujahidin, screaming and yelling with jubilation, raced forward to the breach in the line. ‘See you at the gates of Kabul,’ one turned back and shouted…. As the tanks and men poured through, the roadside images were fittingly bleak: a one-legged Mujahidin hopping desperately to keep up with his comrades; a wounded soldier kneeling immobile in the dirt, where his friends had left him, a spreading scarlet stain seeping through the fingers clutching his belly; Taleban dead being mauled and looted; prisoners being slapped and abused; two soldiers praying. It was not glorious, nor was it unusually ugly. It was no more, no less, than a spectre of men in war.”

– Tony Blair lectures and sermonizes on his doctrine of “international community” in the Times:”One illusion has been shattered by September 11 ó that we can have the good life in the West irrespective of the state of the rest of the world. Once chaos and strife have got a grip on a region or a country, trouble will soon be exported.” And in the Telegraph: “…self-interest for a nation and the interests of the broader community are no longer in conflict. There are few problems from which we remain immune. In the war against terrorism the moralists and realists are partners, not antagonists.” I’m no isolationist but I also don’t buy this hook to sinker. We Westerners cannot solve the world’s problems and too often, when we try, we’re treated like the tech department at a company: everything’s our fault; it’s our machines; it’s our way. Yes, we have to be responsible; we have to be world citizens (yes, globalization is the natural direction of things); we have to help where we can. But it’s up to the Mideast to solve Mideast problems; we cannot do it for them (and will fail trying); we can only help. Though I’ve been in the Tony Blair fan club lately, I hope he doesn’t get carried away with this role he cast himself in as the wise man on the mountain.

– Nice observation from Ken Layne today re Ian Fleming and James Bond: “Fleming invented a new villian, an international terrorist organization called SPECTRE. This outfit existed outside of the USSR/USA battle, because he feared his Cold War stories wouldn’t age so well. Did little Bin Laden grow up reading the Fleming books, or seeing the 1960s Bond movies?”

– The Sun calls our plane crash site Ground Zero 2.

– How tragedy affects the stars: Paul McCartney sees crash from his Concorde window.

– It is at once reassuring and frightening to hear F-16s woosh overhead in New York moments after the American Airlines jet crashed near JFK.

– Ashleigh Banfield comes back from Pakistan and she’s on the air this morning on MSBNC from the jet crash site. What a newshound.!

– The Florida recount story:

– The Florida recount story: Bush would have won limited recount; Gore would have won larger recount; close by any count; moot today. The versions: Washington PostCNNNY TimesAPTribune.

– Thanks to the wonderfully named Relapsed Catholic ‘log, I found a link to an odd Jonestown reenactment as we approach the Nov. 18 anniversary of that 1978 mass murder and suicide. Just as I happened to find myself too close to the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center, I also happened to be too close to Jonestown as the Sunday editor of and then a columnist for the San Francisco Examiner at the time. Some great reporters there, led by Tim Reiterman and John Jacobs, investigated Jones and his purported church, causing a congressional investigation and the fateful trip to Jonestown that ended with the murder of a congressman and our photographer, among others, and then the mass suicide and murder of Jones’ followers: 913 dead in all. Soon after, in San Francisco, Supervisor Dan White went berserk and killed Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk, whom I counted as friends — leading to a widely held belief that San Francisco was not only nuts but also jinxed, even dangerous. I bring this up not just because we’re awash in anniversaries right now — two months after 9/11, on Veteran’s Day, and approaching Jonetown’s 23rd — but because it’s instructional to remember the extraordinary power of a cult. This devil Jones got people to kill themselves and even their children, for Christ’s sake, and with time we have seen that there was no foundation for this horrid act in religion or politics or humanity. He was insane and he made the people around him perform the ultimate insanity. Bin Laden is insane and he manages to get the people around him to perform equally evil insanities; he runs a well-armed cult but a cult nonetheless. It is a mistake to lend him any credibility in terms of religion or politics or humanity to think that there is anything more to him. It’s not a movement — now, finally, Arab leaders are starting to say that — it’s just a bunch of lunatics. So let’s not waste breath and bits arguing about whether there is anything worth arguing about behind bin Laden’s evil insanity. And let’s also not start looking on New York or Washington or America as jinxed or crazy even if the danger is making us act understandably nutty at times. We are the sane ones. He is, to quote our President, the evil one. He is a dangerous cultist who must be stopped before he kills again. It’s as simple as that.

– Two months after: A photo gallery from Der Spiegel.

– Getting too wacky: Debka says there’s an anthrax connection to old Nazis.

– Powell: Palestine is no longer a dirty word.

The smoking jet: Bin Laden admits the World Trade attack in a video, says the Sunday Telegraph.

– I hate to sound like the scrooge of charity after 9/11 and I kept my mouth shut at the time but as every good-hearted, red-blooded New Yorker ran to donate blood after the attacks, I whispered to myself, “If only there were any living victims who needed it.” Yet they kept lining up and the Red Cross kept taking — and even asking for — the blood. Now, the Red Cross is destroying who-knows-how-much blood because they don’t have the means to freeze it. This from the same charity that is being yelled at on Capitol Hill — quite rightly — because they held back money instead of giving every penny to the heroes of 9/11. We need our charity; we need it to be organized; we need it to be efficient; we need the people to have faith in the charities so they will give money and blood and time and valuables — all because there are people in need. But the big, bureacratic charities are squandering all this good will and it’s a crime.

– Scenes from the liberated

Scenes from the liberated Mazar-i-Sharif: “I just wanted to cry when I saw the troops come in,” a woman said. “I can’t tell you about the hell we’ve been living under.” And aide to a general said: “The people in Mazar-i-Sharif were very happy when we marched in. They sacrificed many sheep.” Music was also being played again in the city for the first time in years.

– On to Kabul!

– Today’s reason to feel nervous: U.S. intelligence agents employ psychics.

Observer: Predatory packs of ‘Sex and the City’ women regard a firefighter as a prize conquest. They hang round firehouses, offering gifts and attention. ‘I can’t go a day without having to hide from some woman coming round the firehouse,’ said a firefighter already spoken for. ‘I just put my hood up and cross the road.’

Christians in Pakistan caught in the crossfire: A good piece from Al-Ahram. There, Christians are a persecuted minority; most of them are poor; and after a murder at a church, they are symbols of Western civilization in this crusade against the West.

– The Dawn interview with bin Laden, in which he rattles nuclear sabres.

– Bin Laden to Dawn: “I am ready to die…. They think they will solve this problem by killing me. It’s not easy to solve this problem. This war has been spread all over the world.”

– And another Pakistani newspaper, the Frontier Post, says Osama may already have shipped two suitcase nuclear bombs to the U.S.