And now the most intriguing two minutes in television, the latest from the wartime grapevine:
Breaking a Story?
The New York Times, already under fire for allegedly slanting its news coverage against U.S. military action against Iraq, reported on Friday that British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw had told the BBC that removing Saddam Hussein from power is "not an object of British foreign policy." If true, it would represent a major break between the United States and its closest — and perhaps only — European ally on Iraq. But the British embassy told the Washington Post that it was not Straw, but the BBC interviewer John Humphries, who made the comment. So far, no further word from The Times.
Journalists Held Accountable
Media outlets have repeatedly shown pictures of Palestinian children carrying weapons, or wearing mock suicide bomb belts, as well as armed extremists marching masked in Palestinian rallies. Sensing that these images have not helped the Palestinian cause in world opinion, the principal union representing Palestinian journalists said today it is banning their filming or taping. The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate said any Palestinian journalist who violates the ban would "face union procedures and official accountability."
An American environmental publication is taking the position that poverty is good for some people and that electricity has been a menace to the quality of life in Africa. Gar Smith, editor of the Edge, online magazine of San Francisco based Earth Island Institute, says, "There is a lot of quality to be had in poverty." In an interview with Cybercast News Service, Smith said he had "seen villages in Africa that had vibrant culture and great communities that were destroyed by the introduction of electricity," which he said brought TV and radio and killed the culture.
Federal Security Better Than Private?
When the federal government took charge of airport security screening, the idea was that its personnel would do better than the private companies who had done the job. But the San Francisco Chronicle reports that dozens of members of a supposedly elite mobile squad of federal airport screeners have received as little as 15 minutes of training. The law requires them to have 100 hours of training, but the Transportation Security Administration, strapped for time and new personnel, admits that some screeners have received "abbreviated" training.