Saturday, July 18, 2009

News roundup: Iraqi authorities have decided to put a tighter lid on the movements of US forces, in an apparent effort to enforce their sovereignty, probably as a political show for the people who apparently do not want to be kept safe by a foreign power. It would be sensible if the same applies for Iran, whose fighters the US has often cast as foreign to the region, implying it is naturally our backyard.

Walter Cronkite, the legendary television newsman who recognized the folly of the war in Vietnam (Robert McNamara, its troubled architect, passed last week), is dead at 92. This appears to be a fitting coda to the transition the craft of journalism itself is making, step by step, toward a new medium and style. He was a giant of broadcasting and one of my heroes.

The other day, the Democratic-led Senate slapped organized labor in the face by stripping a key provision of the Employee Free Choice Act, namely the section that guarantees a free choice vis-à-vis arbitration (if a simple majority of workers wish to unionize, they simply check a card). For mainstream liberals the enemy is usually the G.O.P., but they ignore their enemies among their own ranks at their peril. Labor unions have captured bankrupt auto manufacturers, endangered health benefits, and a denied life-line. This is a triumph for the Chamber of Commerce.

Speaking of money matters, on that same day it was reported that JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs have emerged as the last titans standing on Wall St., which “underscores how the government’s effort to halt a collapse has ... set the stage for a narrowing concentration of financial capital” (Graham Bowley, New York Times) The largest banks have reported exorbitant profits, as well, but lending remains a trickle, posing a thorny “political problem” (Binyamin Appelbaum, Washington Post).

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