Friday, March 27, 2009

Today’s News, Views And Issues Round Up DC, Afghanistan, North Korea, Immigration And Newspapers.

Today’s News, Views And Issues Round Up DC, Afghanistan, North Korea, Immigration And Newspapers.




Geithner seeks authority to seize firms deemed a threat

By Jim Puzzanghera and Walter Hamilton

Treasury secretary outlines measures that would for the first time regulate hedge funds and give government the power to dismantle companies whose failure threatens the nation's financial stability

A risky new push for immigration legislation

By Peter Wallsten

Advocates of legalization have crafted a plan that could alienate businesses and key Republicans, including Sen. John McCain. But it is designed to lure a powerful new ally -- organized labor.

In a March 27 article, the Los Angeles Times called Sen. John McCain a "key Republican" in the immigration debate who immigration reform advocates risk "turn[ing] off" with a new legislative proposal. The Times reported that, in the past, McCain "has crafted his own compromise plan for legalization" and later stated that "[a]ny new legalization plan is likely to look similar in some respects to the bill crafted by McCain and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), which stalled most recently in 2007. Opponents had decried the measure as 'amnesty,' but it would have required undocumented workers to pay a fine and back taxes and to wait longer than other applicants for permanent residency status." However, the article ignored McCain's flip-flop on immigration during the 2008 presidential campaign. As a candidate, McCain said he would vote against his own comprehensive immigration bill if it came to the Senate floor and argued that border security must be addressed before any other reforms can be made.

During CNN's January 30, 2008, Republican presidential debate, McCain asserted that "we've got to secure the borders first" -- a position at odds with his prior assertion that border security could not be disaggregated from other aspects of comprehensive immigration reform without being rendered ineffective. During the same debate, McCain said he "would not" support his own comprehensive immigration proposal that included a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants if it came to a vote on the Senate floor.

As Media Matters for America has noted, news outlets, including the Timesrepeatedly touted McCain as a leader on immigration during the campaign without noting his reversal.

From the March 27 Los Angeles Times article by staff writer Peter Wallsten:

With their prospects in Congress sinking along with the economy, liberal advocates of giving undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship are launching a risky strategy to push lawmakers and the White House to take up their cause.

They are devising a proposal in which millions of undocumented workers would be legalized now, while the number of foreign workers allowed to enter the country would be examined by a new independent commission, and probably reduced.

It is a calculation designed to win a new and powerful ally, organized labor, which favors a limit on foreign worker visas. But it risks alienating businesses that rely on temporary workers and could turn off key Republicans such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who in the past has crafted his own compromise plan for legalization.

Any new legalization plan is likely to look similar in some respects to the bill crafted by McCain and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), which stalled most recently in 2007. Opponents had decried the measure as "amnesty," but it would have required undocumented workers to pay a fine and back taxes and to wait longer than other applicants for permanent residency status.

The new proposal, as laid out by several participants in the behind-the-scenes negotiations, would also create an independent commission that would assess labor and industry data to decide how many foreign workers should be allowed into the country. The system, designed by Ray Marshall, a Labor secretary under President Carter, would replace a maze of special temporary worker visas that are granted each year to high-tech specialists, agriculture workers and other foreigners brought into the U.S. by foreign and domestic firms.


Sad but true: Journalists need to think about the bottom line

By James Rainey

One of my first editors would visibly recoil when the newspaper's ad manager occasionally ventured into the newsroom.


Obama Releases Multi-Faceted Afghanistan Plan

President Obama announced that he will deploy 4,000 troops this spring to train Afghan security forces. Lawmakers had suggested Thursday that expectations for success might soon be more modest than they were during the previous administration. [READ MORE] 

Taliban leader looks to reclaim Afghanistan, U.S. says

By Julian E. Barnes and Greg Miller

Mullah Mohammed Omar is reconsolidating power, say administration officials, and a new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan aims to thwart his plans. An additional 4,000 troops will deploy for training.

Afghanistan is the main topic of the day as all the papers preview the announcement President Obama will make today about changes to the American strategy to decrease violence in the war-torn country that will place lots of emphasis on Pakistan. Obama will announce plans to send 4,000 military trainers to Afghanistan in the fall, which will be on top of the additional 17,000 combat troops the president authorized last month and "hundreds" of U.S. civilian officials. USA Today points out that sending additional aid workers "follows Obama's previous statements that Afghanistan can't be tamed by military force alone." For the first time, the U.S. government will explicitly tie future aid to certain benchmarks that will measure how much the Afghan and Pakistani governments are doing to fight al-Qaida and the Taliban.

In demanding concrete results from the two countries, Obama "is replicating a strategy used in Iraq two years ago," notes the New York Times. The Los Angeles Times highlights that the new strategy comes at a time when Afghanistan's former Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, "is pursuing a determined effort to reclaim power." The Wall Street Journal notes that the Pentagon is consideringsetting up "a new U.S. military command in southern Afghanistan," which would "signal increasing American control over the war effort." The Washington Post highlights that the new strategy will involve a significant increase in the financial commitment to both Afghanistan and Pakistan and increase U.S. military expenses in Afghanistan by around60 percent this year.

The NYT places Obama's plan as one piece in its two-story lead. The paper's main story reveals that Taliban leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan have decided to set aside their differences andwork together in a new offensive in Afghanistan to greet the buildup of American troops. In an impressive feat of reporting, the NYT talked to several Taliban fighters along the border region who say a group of younger commanders has recently been promoted to carry out a stepped-up campaign of attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

The NYT says Mullah Omar sent emissaries to his counterparts in Pakistan to convince them to focus on Afghanistan so the Taliban can greet American troops with a renewed display of force. The Pakistani Taliban has been divided into three branches that haven't always seen eye-to-eye, but Mullah Omar apparently urged them to set aside their differences so they can all work together against the Americans. This renewed cooperation has raised fears among NATO commanders that the violence in Afghanistan will soon get much worse. Taliban fighters say they have reason to worry and predicted that it would be a "very bloody" year.

North Korea’s peaceful spacecraft may trigger another global war

The situation in the Asian-Pacific region continues to aggravate over the plans of the North Korean administration to launch a satellite into space. North Korea says that it is going to launch a civil satellite, although its neighboring states and the USA (of course) believe that Pyongyang is getting ready to test a ballistic missile. The truth will be unveiled on April 4-8, when the launch takes place. For the time being, any political statements regarding the matter are to be regarded as mere speculation.

The NKorean administration announced its intention to launch a space satellite with the help of a long-range missile two weeks ago. The USA obtained the information, which proves that the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile had been prepared to be launched during the period from April 4 to April 8.

North Korea has officially informed international organizations of its intention. The first stage of the missile is expected to fall down on Earth 130 kilometers off the coast of Japan . The second one will fall down in the Pacific Ocean, across Japan.

North Korean officials also stated that the USA, South Korea and Japan should not hamper the process. A possible decision of the United Nations to prohibit the launch may result in the termination of the six-sided talks pertaining to the North Korean nuclear program.

South Korea is especially concerned about the launch of the satellite. An official spokesman for the nation stated that the missile launch would trigger retaliatory measures. The official did not specify what kind of measures SKorea could take exactly.

Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso stated that his country was prepared to down any missile which could pose a threat to Japan . The Japanese military said that they would have US tracking satellites and Japanese radars involved to receive precise information about the launch of the NKorean spacecraft.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated during her official visit to Mexico that North Korea’s plans to launch a missile was a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1718, no matter what kind of goals the launch was meant to pursue.

"We have made it very clear that the North Koreans pursue this pathway at a cost, and with consequences to the six-party [nuclear] talks, which we would like to see revived and moving forward as quickly as possible. And we intend to raise this violation of the Security Council resolution, if it goes forward, in the U.N., and coincidentally Mexico will be chairing the Security Council starting in April,” she said.

It is not the first time, when North Korea is launching its Taepodong-2 ballistic missile. The first test was conducted in July 2006, although it ended unsuccessfully. The missile deviated from the course and fell down in the Sea of Japan, close to the coast of Russia.

The USA, Japan and South Korea believe that North Korea is going to run yet another test of its ballistic missile under the guise of launching a peaceful spacecraft. At the same time, the three countries overestimate the military danger that Pyongyang could pose to them. Many North Koreans suffer from undernourishment. The country suffers from a serious shortage of heat and water supplies. Most of its people make less than ten dollars a month.


What About Next Week Before The Recess?


McKnight's Long Term Care News - New York,NY,USA
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said during her weekly press conference that achieving healthcare reform this year is essential, and the best way to reach ...

By Jimmie 
Let Nancy Pelosi educate you. As Senate Democrats continued to wrangle over their version of the budget, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi predicted swift passage in her chamber — with or without GOP support. ...




Legislators Propose PATRIOT Act Extensions--Start Organizing Now!

On March 12, 2009, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the Safe and Secure America Act of 2009. The bill, which already has 17 cosponsors, would extend several USA PATRIOT Act provisions set to expire on December 31, 2009, for another ten years-until December 31, 2019. The American Civil Liberties Union summarizes [] the applicable provisions as follows [emphasis added]:

  1. Section 215 known as the "library records" provision, but which actually applies to "any tangible thing") which does not require any individualized suspicion to get a court order for any record wanted in intelligence investigations;
  2. Section 206 (known as "John Doe" roving wiretaps in intelligence investigations, which allow multiple phones to be tapped) which does not require law enforcement to ascertain that a suspected foreign terrorist is using the phones being listened to by government agents;
  3. The lone wolf provision (added by the 2004 intelligence bill) which applies the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's secret surveillance powers to non-US citizens in this country but without requiring that they be acting for a foreign power and without sufficient safeguards.

Just this week, FBI Director Robert Mueller, who served under Bush as well as Obama, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he supports the reauthorization of Sections 215 and 206.

Although the sunsets of these PATRIOT Act provisions are still more than eight months away, the fight over whether they will be extended or allowed to expire has already begun. In our last sunset fight over PATRIOT Act in 2006, despite the coordinated efforts of BORDC and other national and local organizations, many of the PATRIOT Act's most egregious violations of civil liberties-including those that would be extended by the Safe and Secure America Act-were reauthorized. We can't let it happen again.

If we are to prevent the renewal or extension of PATRIOT Act provisions that undermine our civil liberties and deny us our constitutionally guaranteed protections, we must start organizing now. Our opposition has already begun to fight, and so must we.

Join the People's Campaign for the Constitution today and start working with a coalition in your community. If a coalition hasn't already started in your community, help build one. Meet with your senators and representatives-their district work period April 6-17 is a great opportunity-and tell them that you, their constituents, will hold them accountable for protecting and defending the Constitution, as they swore to do in their oaths of office. Use local media, letters to the editor, and public forums to call on your members of Congress to block any effort to extend PATRIOT Act provisions that harm civil liberties. Get started now. 

We at BORDC are here to support your local efforts in any way we can. Read about upcoming conference calls and other organizing opportunities, or contact Emma Roderick, our grassroots campaign coordinator, for additional information, assistance, and advice.

Uncovering Constitutional Violations: Opinions on a Truth Commission

Last month, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced that, as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he wanted to convene a "truth commission" to investigate the national security policies and executive powers of the Bush administration. Specifically, Leahy wants to establish such a commission to investigate allegations of torture and policies on interrogation and surveillance, but the commission would not seek to prosecute government officials.

After more than seven years of constitutional violations and civil liberties abuses in the name of national security and the so-called "war on terror," America needs to know the truth about its government's actions. In fact, a February poll "found that 62 percent of Americans favor a criminal investigation or an independent panel to look into the use of torture, illegal wiretapping, and other alleged abuses of power by the Bush administration." However, people across the political spectrum disagree about whether and how to go about uncovering abuses and no single opinion prevails as to the best way to move forward.

Leahy's truth commission proposal has many backers. BORDC Advisory Board member, Georgetown University law professor, and author David Cole wrote, in a blog post for The New York Times,

As a legal matter, we are compelled to investigate by the Convention Against Torture, a binding treaty, that requires its signatories to investigate and refer for possible prosecution credible evidence of torture under their jurisdiction.…

Some complain that a truth commission is not enough-and that crimes require criminal prosecutions.… At this point, it is too early to conclude that prosecution is either required or ruled out. But it is too late to deny that a serious independent investigation is necessary.

In that same New York Times post, American University law professor Kenneth Anderson argued that "evoking the idea of a 'truth commission' is needlessly inflammatory," and that Congress's calling for such a commission "underrates the authority already in the Constitution to investigate and prohibit illegal actions by any branch of government."

Others have made their own suggestions. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers has called for a bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on war powers and civil liberties that would have subpoena powers and a broader mandate than Leahy's proposed "truth commission." The American Civil Liberties Union, on the other hand, has called for the establishment of a Select Committee to work alongside Senator Leahy's truth commission, "believing that the combination of both committees would be an effective format for congressional review of Bush administration policies."

Some, including Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, have advocated for a special prosecutor to be assigned to investigate torture allegations: "A criminal investigation and prosecution of the torture conspirators is a necessity, not a choice.… Unless government officials know that consequences follow from such abuses, they will break the law again."

Still others have said that investigating allegations against the Bush administration is a bad idea. A USA Today editorial argued that any investigation would be polarizing and take focus away from more important national issues such as the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In response to questions about how he wishes to address allegations against the Bush administration, President Obama has said that he is "more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards."

Deciding whether and how to go about investigating torture, warrantless surveillance, and other constitutional and human rights violations perpetrated under claims of national security cannot wait. To know the truth, we must investigate while documents exist and memories are clear. Opinions abound, and there are many reasonable positions. However, one thing is certain: America has the right to know the truth about acts done in its name. Now, it is time for America to decide just how to go about finding that truth.

Leaked Red Cross Report Calls Detainee Treatment Torture

In the April 9 edition of the New York Review of Books, journalism professor and author Mark Danner published excerpts of a confidential report, issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), on U.S. interrogation practices. The documents, which were leaked to Danner, contain interviews with detainees regarding their treatment at CIA "black sites" and describe the behavior of the interrogators as "torture." Though accounts of detainee mistreatment have been previously reported, Danner explained the significance of this particular report to the Washington Post: "It could not be more important that the ICRC explicitly uses the words 'torture' and 'cruel and degrading.'…The ICRC is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions, and when it uses those words, they have the force of law." 

The testimony of the 14 detainees held first at CIA black sites and then at Guantánamo is highly credible because, as each prisoner was held in isolation, none had the chance to corroborate his story with another. Danner does not make clear exactly why he chose to publish the report, which was intended to remain confidential, but more on his point of view, as well as small excerpts from the report, can be found in his recent New York Times op-ed.

People's Campaign for the Constitution News

Hold the Department of Homeland Security Accountable

Since its inception, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has been characterized by disrespect for human rights and a lack of due process for detainees. We've seen some progress since Obama took office, but not enough. BORDC and the People's Campaign for the Constitution are joining with the Detention Watch Network and the Rights Working Group in their National Week of Action to Hold DHS Accountable this April 8-15. Working together, we can restore the constitutional values of due process and human rights. Read our latest PCC blog post for more information about how to organize an event in your community for the National Week of Action.

Get Involved in the People's Campaign for the Constitution!

  • Join PCC Members for a Conference Call - Interested in organizing a local coalition but don't know where to start? Want to host a house party in support of the People's Campaign for the Constitution? Have local organizing experience that you'd like to share? PCC Members are invited to take part in a conference call Monday, April 6, at 9 p.m. EST. Connect with other activists and plan your next moves. To RSVP/get information about the call, email Emma.  
  • Help Start an Affinity Group - The PCC isn't just for local coalitions-we're forming affinity groups for students, educators, clergy, attorneys, librarians, doctors, and people fluent in languages other than English. These groups will use their commonality to rally supporters and call for change. To be involved in an affinity group, email Emma and put the group you're interested in joining in the subject.  Want to start an affinity group other than the ones listed above?  Just emailEmma and she'll help you get started.
  • Share Your News - We want to publish your PCC experiences-successes, challenges, new ideas-in our newsletter and on our PCC blog.  If you have something to share, email Emma!
  • Not a PCC Member?  What Are You Waiting For? - Visit the People's Campaign for the Constitution website and join today! Emma will contact you shortly after you sign up to help you get started.


Is Your Representative Speaking Out Against Escalation in Afghanistan?

Norman Solomon, AlterNet. March 27, 2009.
Some members of Congress have asked Obama to reconsider sending 17,000 troops to Afghanistan. But the list is awfully short.

Obama's New Strategy for Afghanistan Means More Troops

David Usborne, Jerome Starkey, Independent UK. March 27, 2009.
In addition to more soldiers, Obama is ordering a "civilian surge" and increasing the number of U.S. officials by 50 percent.

Why Is a Progressive Think Tank Telling Obama to Escalate the War in Afghanistan?

Tom Hayden, Huffington Post. March 27, 2009.
It is deeply disappointing that the Center for American Progress has issued a call for a 10-year war in Afghanistan.

Despite Obama's Vow, Combat Brigades Will Stay in Iraq

Gareth Porter, IPS News. March 26, 2009.
"They will be called advisory and assistance brigades," says Defense Secretary Gates. "They won't be called combat brigades."

In Afghanistan, Taliban Taking Cut of Reconstruction Funds

Fetrat Zerak, Institute for War and Peace Reporting. March 24, 2009.
"The Taliban have two goals," says one official. "Money to make themselves stronger. Second, they want to show their power."

Postcard From Damascus: Living With Iraqi Refugees in Syria

Jennifer Utz, AlterNet. March 23, 2009.
What most Americans don't know about Syria -- a nation vilified by the U.S. that has also absorbed 2 million Iraqi refugees -- might surprise you.

Did Nouri al-Maliki's Government Disappear an Iraqi MP for Exposing Human Rights Abuses?

Robert Fisk, Independent UK. March 20, 2009.
Authorities say Mohamed al-Dainy planned a deadly suicide bombing. His allies say he's a fighter for human rights. But nobody knows where he is.

One Soldier's Tale of How War Drove Him Crazy

Penny Coleman, AlterNet. March 20, 2009.
"When it got really bad, I dumped 5 tons of sand into my basement to remind me of Afghanistan."

Six Years After the Invasion of Iraq, War Resisters Are Taking Their Fight Across the Globe

Maya Schenwar, March 19, 2009.
"We have killed, tortured and bombed civilians into submission": Winter Soldiers speak out in Europe.

Burning Toxic Waste is Making U.S. Soldiers and Iraqis Sick, But the Pentagon Refuses to Admit It

Nora Eisenberg, AlterNet. March 18, 2009.
Six years into the war, many U.S. bases in Iraq are still without incinerators, leaving open pits spewing toxic plumes over soldiers and civilians.

Tired of Living in Survival Mode, Iraqis Pessimistic Over New Local Leaders' Ability to Make Good on Promises

Emad al-Shara, Zaineb Naji, Daud Salman, Institute for War and Peace Reporting. March 18, 2009.
Iraqis are doubtful that incoming provincial councils will boost employment, curb corruption or bring basic needs like water to their homes.

President Obama, Why Did You Pay Blackwater $70 Million in February?

Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet. March 17, 2009.
Obama may keep the company on the government payroll months after its Iraq contract expires. Not bad for a firm supposedly going down in flames.

The Most Pervasive Combat Injury Among U.S. Soldiers is Invisible -- and the Pentagon Has Tried to Keep it That Way

Nora Eisenberg, AlterNet. March 17, 2009.
The DoD finally admits that 360,000 Iraq and Afghanistan vets may have suffered serious brain injuries they previously dismissed as mild concussions.

Can Baghdad's Neighbors Learn to Trust Each Other Again?

Zaineb Naji, Institute for War and Peace Reporting. March 13, 2009.
Community and reconciliation initiatives are nearly non-existent in Iraq.

Inheriting Halliburton's Army: What Will Obama Do With KBR?

Pratap Chatterjee, March 12, 2009.
Obama needs to ask his Pentagon commanders this: Can the U.S. military do anything without KBR?

Shoe-Throwing Iraqi Journalist Given Three-Year Sentence

Michael Howard, The Guardian. March 12, 2009.
"I am innocent," Muntazer al-Zaidi said. "What I did was a natural response to the occupation."

Suicide Bomber Kills 33 at Reconciliation Meeting of Sunni and Shia Iraqis

Patrick Cockburn, Independent UK. March 11, 2009.
The suicide bombing comes three days after a similar attack killed 28 people near the police academy in east Baghdad.

Afghan MP Fatima Nazari: U.S. 'Has Focused on Mujahedeen Warlords; They Should Listen to the People'

Anand Gopal, IPS News. March 10, 2009.
A conversation with the head of Afghanistan's new political party devoted to women's rights.

The Myth of U.S. Military Dominance in the Middle East

Gareth Porter, IPS News. March 9, 2009.
The notion that U.S. military presence has definitively shaped the region has been thoroughly discredited.

Will Iraq's Next Battle be Between the Kurds and Baghdad?

Mohammed A. Salih, IPS News. March 7, 2009.
The balance of power in Iraq is quickly tilting toward forces that Kurds perceive as hostile.

A Nation of Widows: Why Any Honest Discussion About Iraq Must Include the Plight of Women

Rose Aguilar, AlterNet. March 6, 2009.
Nadje Al-Ali: "Now Iraqis tell me, 'We have 90 Saddam Husseins' ... I think people need to get a reality check."

How One Coffee Shop in Washington State is Providing a Haven For War Resisters

Sarah Lazare, Courage to Resist. March 5, 2009.
Forty miles south of Seattle, at Ft. Lewis Army Base, COFFEE STRONG provides a space for soldiers to explore GI resistance.

Global Support for the War in Afghanistan is Plummeting -- So Why Aren't Americans Talking About It?

Amy Goodman, AlterNet. March 4, 2009.
While leaders like Stephen Harper and Gordon Brown bend to the will of their constituents, Obama is staying the course.

MoveOn Should Oppose Obama on Afghanistan

John Nichols, March 3, 2009.
MoveOn's new director says the group has other priorities than telling Obama he's wrong on Afghanistan. This is a mistake.

LaVena Johnson: Raped and Murdered on a Military Base in Iraq

David A. Love, The Black Commentator. March 3, 2009.
Military authorities claimed she committed suicide in her tent in Iraq, but autopsies revealed she had been brutally attacked and raped.

Mounting Accusations of Voter Fraud in Iraq's Elections

Abeer Mohammed, Neil Arun, Institute for War and Peace Reporting. March 2, 2009.
Iraq's election commission has taken center-stage in a battle over ballot-rigging allegations.

All Troops Out By 2011? Not So Fast; Why Obama's Iraq Speech Deserves a Second Look

Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet. February 28, 2009.
Obama's speech promising a full withdrawal from Iraq adopted the long-discredited narrative of the Bush administration.

Obama Takes a First Step Reducing Troops in Iraq -- Many More Are Needed

Phyllis Bennis, Foreign Policy in Focus. February 28, 2009.
Now let's see Obama pull the foreign mercenaries and contractors, close all the U.S. military bases, and cease all U.S. efforts to control Iraqi oil.

Are We Ready to Welcome the Soldiers That Obama's Bringing Home from Iraq?

Paul Rieckhoff, Huffington Post. February 28, 2009.
No veteran's 'welcome home' should come in the form of an unemployment check.

The Afghan Surge: Proof the U.S. Has Not Learned From Its Debacle in Iraq

Patrick Cockburn, Independent UK. February 27, 2009.
More U.S. troops in Afghanistan will spark a backlash in which religion combines with nationalism to oppose foreign intervention.



Newspapers need a new business model now

Commentary: N.Y. Times cuts salaries, Washington Post offers buyouts

By Jon Friedman, MarketWatch

Last update: 12:01 a.m. EDT March 27, 2009

Comments: 72

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- The Rocky Mountain News went belly-up. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer converted to an all-digital format. The San Francisco Chronicle made such serious cuts that it had become clear the paper was hanging on by a thread. The smaller Ann Arbor News joined the procession of casualties amid a prolonged advertising slump and a national recession.

When those tremors recently shook the newspaper industry, some observers expressed public sympathy but took solace privately that at least the industry's biggest players were still holding the line.

Not any more.

On Thursday, the New York Times announced it was cutting salaries for editors and managers by 5% through the end of the year and would be asking for the same concessions from unionized newsroom employees. The Washington Post, meanwhile, will extend buyouts mostly to newsroom, production and circulation staffs. Layoffs could come next.

Now that two of the nation's best-regarded newspapers are taking dire actions, all bets are off. From now on, bad news across the newspaper spectrum will have to be accepted as more than simply a risk of doing business. It will be treated as routine.

Newspapers clearly need to embrace a new kind of business model. They must aggressively turn to the Web. That is the future, pure and simple.

The world according to Jarvis

"Do these problems shock me?" asked Jeff Jarvis, author of "What Will Google Do?" as well as a media industry consultant and a career journalist, in parroting my question.

He paused. "What does shock me is that I envisioned an orderly transfer of power from the traditional newspaper to the digital model. Instead, we have great confusion."

Jarvis says there are opportunities in the ruins of the industry for innovative newspapers and points to the biggest players. He says the Times, the Post and The Wall Street Journal have the greatest upsides because they have the ability, resources and prestige to be prominent players in local, national and global markets. (The Journal is a division of News Corp. (NWS:

The Post, he contends, should offer every employee who is forced out a blog as a way to continue to get contributions from seasoned journalists. "This way, the Post gets the value of their content."

Jarvis expects to see more sharing of news assets between papers as a way they can cut their costs.

"You just don't need to have 15,000 people covering a political convention," he said. "The Washington Post should be America's newsroom in Washington."

Jarvis says that the Times should do more to experiment with its problematic Boston Globe property and use the best of the results in New York.

"Treat the Globe as a laboratory," he urged. The Times, he suggests, must change the way it views itself.


"I'm going to get in trouble for saying this," Jarvis said, smiling, "but the New York Times is not a New York newspaper. It is a national and an international paper. The Times should spin off its metro section and charge, oh, say, four dollars a day for it."

Jarvis is a delight to interview. He loves the news business but is worried that it will suffer such massive self-inflicted wounds -- because of a fear of innovation -- that it will become a victim of its own paranoia.

Finally, I asked Jarvis, who grins while he talks in a million tangents, the key question: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of the news business?

"I'm optimistic about the news business," he said. "But if papers define themselves as traditional newspapers, that is a terrible mistake."



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