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    Breaking bread the manly way

    Posted by Sean at 14:03, June 13th, 2005

    Straight guys are so cute sometimes. Gay News links to this piece by an English writer who gets all fidgety over whether it looks gay if you go out to dinner with another man. He seems not to realize that his and his buddy’s thoroughgoing heterotude is proved beyond a shadow of a doubt from paragraph 1:

    Not so long ago I was having dinner with a (male) friend of mine – just the two of us in a cosy little Italian restaurant in Soho – when he suddenly started laughing. “God, this all looks a bit gay, doesn’t it?” he chuckled, indicating the plastic carnation in the middle of the table, the bottle of sparkling white wine, the tomato salad we were sharing. “I wonder if anyone thinks we’re like… you know… a couple?”

    You caught the important part, right? Of course, you did–otherwise you wouldn’t be hanging out here.

    But, okay, just in case you’re having an off day, here it is highlighted:

    Not so long ago I was having dinner with a (male) friend of mine – just the two of us in a cosy little Italian restaurant in Soho – when he suddenly started laughing. “God, this all looks a bit gay, doesn’t it?” he chuckled, indicating the plastic carnation in the middle of the table, the bottle of sparkling white wine, the tomato salad we were sharing. “I wonder if anyone thinks we’re like… you know… a couple?”

    Not if they know any queers. In the language of flowers, a gay guy who takes another gay guy to a restaurant with plastic carnations on the table is saying, “You will NEVER get into my pants.”

    BTW, Paul Sussman, the writer of the Guardian piece here, may not be anti-gay, but he’s a regular old fount of stereotypes. I’m aware that the tone of the article is tongue-in-cheek, but there’s still room for clue-deprivation:

    In a “two-guy” situation I always try to stick to “manly” beverages such as beer or whisky – the sparkling wine mentioned was a momentary aberration – and plump for cholesterol-packed, hunter-gatherer-type main courses (rump steak, rack of lamb) rather than flans, tofu or (the ultimate no-no) anything involving filo pastry and baby courgettes. I try to tell stories that involve me miming punching someone, or throwing a rugby ball, or unclipping a bra and squeezing it’s contents. Most pathetic of all, I always but always make a point of telling the waitress in a jokey-but-firm sort of way as she leads us to our table: “We’re not lovers, you know!” (On one occasion this drew the memorably caustic response: “That’s unlucky, because I can’t see any woman wanting to shag you.”)

    (Aside: Why is it that the nebbishy sorts of hetero guys like to invite the audience to laugh at the humiliating sexual put-downs women have delivered to them? So not charming. Anyway.) Half-joking or not, anyone who thinks gay guys are calorie-obsessed anorexic gym bunnies who gravitate toward fussy foods needs to see my friends some time as they tunnel ruthlessly through the romaine in a Thai beef salad to get to the meat. (Animals! You have any idea how long it takes me to wash and individually wipe those lettuce leaves dry, guys?) Or make a bowl of mashed potatoes and a boat of gravy disappear five minutes after I’ve put it on the table. I’ve been known to drink a wine spritzer or two, but I can assure you that most of us know our way around whisky and beer, too.

    Be that as it may, a word to the wise: the best way to look gay–or, more precisely, look like a certain breed of see-and-be-seen gay guy you see plenty of in cities such as London–is to make it clear that you’re taking in the effect you’re having on surrounding diners and desperately hoping you’re making the “right” impression. Secure people focus on their dinner partners, whatever plans they have for them afterwards.

    Information emerging about school bomber

    Posted by Sean at 12:32, June 13th, 2005

    The student who threw a home-made bomb into a classroom full of students on Friday may, the principal admits, have been suffering from bullying. Of a kind:

    On 13 June, Principal Yukio Hironaka of Hikari Prefectural High School, in the city of Hikari, Yamaguchi Prefecture, held a press conference to discuss the incident last Friday in which a bottle bomb exploded after being thrown into a classroom in use, injuring 58 students. Hironaka said, “It is possible that there was bullying, in a broad sense of the term, behind the incident,” acknowledgin the possibility that bullying was the motive for the student (18) who was arrested for throwing the bomb.

    The information is still sketchy, but the Nikkei article goes on to mention something that’s being reported elsewhere: this wasn’t the kind of ijime in which everyone turned on a single student and made him a target. When other students would address him, he would walk away. The Mainichi also says that he was into survival games:

    After graduating from the school, however, all the friends he played survival games with entered other schools and he could not make friends with his new classmates at Hikari High School, leading him to become increasingly isolated.

    Whenever classes were reorganized, his new classmates tried to make friends with him, but he ignored them each time. A few months later, his classmates gave up trying to speak to him, according to the sources.

    There have been cases in which bullying appears to have driven otherwise-healthy children insane. Bullying is hard to take anywhere, but it’s an especially potent force in a society that so stresses group identity and fitting in. The pattern here, to the extent that it’s emerging, is that the student in question rebuffed people who were actually trying to be friendly. There was obviously something going on there, though we probably won’t know what for a while. Incidentally, the bomb was made in a fashion similar to those favored by Palestinian suicide bombers: it contained lots of hard little objects designed to maximize injuries.

    Criminal resourcefulness

    Posted by Sean at 11:18, June 13th, 2005

    Darn. NHK just had a lengthy report today on a big-time victim of the newest variety of the “Pay up!” scam, and I was all excited to write about it–but, of course, the Mainichi English edition, which can be relied upon to report the latest scumbag-related news the minute it hits the airwaves, got there first:

    Four people who apparently made 100 million yen carrying out a scam centering on people’s fears of a relative being arrested for groping female train commuters were arrested in Tokyo, police said on Monday.

    Police said the specific case for which Mitsuyama and his co-conspirators were arrested involved a call made in March to a 56-year-old Kawasaki woman.

    Mitsuyama claimed to be a lawyer acting on behalf of the woman’s husband and said her husband used his mobile phone to take racy pictures, police said, adding that Mitsuyama had threatened to contact the media if the woman did not obey his demands for money.

    Eventually, the suspects forced the woman to transfer 3.5 million yen into an account they had designated, police said.

    Claiming to be seeking hush money to cover-up a relative’s arrest for groping female train commuters has become a popular type of fraud in recent weeks, police said.

    Since the recent introduction of women’s only trains in Tokyo and a crackdown on train perverts last month to coincide with the change, the number of victims falling for the scam has increased, with about 80 reported cases in Tokyo during May alone.

    The ease with which women are prepared to believe their husbands were groping random women on trains is its own commentary. However, those who collect Japanese compounds will love this new one, which is the way NHK labeled the swindle (I’d just seen it explained piecemeal in sentences before): 痴漢示談金振り込め詐欺 (chikan-jidankin-furikome-sagi: “the [out-of-court] settlement-for-groping ‘Pay up!’ scam”). Were it not for that native Japanese verb in the middle, it would be a marvel of 漢語 dementia.

    In other exciting news, Atsushi’s parents received a “Pay up!” call last week, but the story they were given was nothing exciting–the story was just a dumb old car accident, if I recall correctly. They’re savvy people and didn’t pay, fortunately. I did get a kick out of imagining some con artist’s possibly trying to impersonate Atsushi by calling his parents and greeting them with “オレ、オレ!” (ore-ore: “It’s me, it’s me!”), which was the original version of the scam. Having heard his end of four years of phone calls to the parents, I can attest that he always announces himself with a warm but respectful “Hello, this is Atsu.”

    Making a joyful noise

    Posted by Sean at 06:38, June 12th, 2005

    Susanna of Cut on the Bias has been having trouble registering to comment. This cannot be tolerated: what could be more piquant than commentary on a gay guy’s ravings about disco by a conservative Christian woman living in rural Alabama? Here was Susanna’s comment:

    It’s not a dance song, but I always liked “MacArthur Park” for it’s sheer incomprehensibility. And when did Madonna get in the disco thing? I thought disco died before The Non-Virgin got her start.

    I lived through the disco years, having been born in 1961, but as I was a teenaged Christian tucked away in the hills of Kentucky in the late 1970s, I can’t say I have a good handle on the full range of music from the era. My mom actually broke and threw away my single of “Rock N Roll Heaven”. I liked the BeeGees. I was more enamored of the Eagles. I confess to not remembering more than half the songs on Camille’s list.

    My dad did have leisure suits though. He may still have one around. Want me to send it to you so you can fit in with the new mode of down-dressing in Japan? 😀

    I think that wearing a suit with a jacket is considered an infraction, but thanks for the offer. Short-sleeved Qiana shirts might do it, though I don’t plan on finding out.

    To respond to the other parts of Susanna’s post: “MacArthur Park” wasn’t originally written as a disco song, but Donna Summer’s version of it certainly was one. And, no, I have no idea what the, um, blazes (just in case Susanna’s mother is looking over her shoulder) the lyrics are supposed to be about. Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” was one of the first disco recordings to score with the American mass audience–kind of ironic: in my experience it’s a bad choice at a club, because just about everyone looks like a complete idiot dancing to it. There’s something about “Love to Love You Baby” that makes people surrender to their Inner Stripper, and most of us have Inner Strippers that aren’t very talented.

    As for why Madonna’s music can be considered disco, I think that as long as it’s uptempo, has a 4/4 meter with every beat hit on the bass drum, has a heavy and syncopated bass line, and has hi-hat or cowbell fills, it’s disco. (This Wikipedia article tells you that, but you have to be willing to dig for it.) It’s the steady drumbeat that reminds people who don’t like disco of a pounding headache, though it’s the bassline they think they’re complaining about. They stopped calling it “disco” because the public backlash meant the term was no longer marketable and there were lots of little sub-genres forming.

    My family was very devout, like Susanna’s. My mother had been reared Catholic, too, so you can imagine what she thought of Madonna. A lot of our ministers frowned on any pop music edgier than Pat Boone; but my parents had met playing in a cover band after high school, so while they wouldn’t let anything that was frankly lewd into the house, they didn’t go ballistic over songs with passing lines expressing mild, good-natured bawdiness.

    Of course, as Susanna said in a later message, the dividing line was different back then. It’s not disco, but the other day I was listening to Physical by Olivia Newton-John and remembering how brazen everyone considered it at the time (1981). These days, Physical is the kind of album a pop star would make to tone down the sexuality of her image after marrying, having a child, and converting to Seventh Day Adventism.

    A more relaxed Army

    Posted by Sean at 02:13, June 10th, 2005

    The US Army is still having trouble hitting its recruitment targets:

    The U.S. Army, facing recruiting woes and a reorganized force, will relax requirements for new officers, welcoming older candidates and allowing more tolerance of past minor crimes, officials said on Thursday.

    Trying to stem the loss of current personnel, the Army also has made it more difficult to kick soldiers out of the military for alcohol or drug abuse, being overweight or “unsatisfactory performance,” according to a recent memo.

    At least there’s no talk of letting in the non-closeted homos, who would clearly spell doom for the Republic.

    Those cell phones can do anything

    Posted by Sean at 00:47, June 10th, 2005

    Interesting mini-article on the Nikkei:

    Honda, Matsushita Electric, and about 120 other companies will introduce a system that allows the use of cellular phones to cast votes at general shareholder meetings. Many corporations are giving more consideration to individual shareholders and are urging the exercise of individual voting rights by increasing the convenience [of the system]. The number of corporations that allow Internet-based voting is also expected to increase to around 300. The IT-ization of the operations side of shareholder meetings has been advancing, with the ease with which shareholders can see their wishes reflected in company policy increasing accordingly.

    This represents a big shift. Their influence is not what it once was, but the 総会屋 (soukaiya: “general” + “meeting” + “shopkeeper”) are still around, and I assume that allowing people to vote remotely–surely that’s the purpose of Internet voting?–is to no small degree a move to counter them.

    I wasn’t going to write my own explanation of what the soukaiya do, but there doesn’t seem to be a good, concise definition that I can link to as a primary source. This Mainichi article from a few years ago gives a representative sample of their activities. The soukaiya basically buy small numbers of shares in a company, dig up some of its management’s nastier doings (every company has nasty doings ready for digging, of course) and threaten to disrupt the general shareholders’ meeting if not given hush money. Some of them are tied to vast networks of gangsters, but many are independent. Those not ambitious enough to poke around for scandalous material have been known to simply show up and start blurting out inanities in the hopes that someone will give them a few hundred bucks to shut the hell up. Beats working at 7-Eleven, apparently.

    Of course, soukaiya are the interesting problem. The more mundane but far-reaching problem has been that many Japanese companies engage in mutual shareholding. The big banks were required to sell off their mutually-held shares, and though many other companies within conglomerates have retained them among themselves, the result has been an overall increase in the number of small shareholders. Whether financial transparency has really increased enough for them to have any idea what they’re voting about is debatable, but the fact that air is being let in is encouraging.

    SDF to buy unmanned spycraft from US

    Posted by Sean at 22:20, June 9th, 2005

    Sleeping too soundly? Get a load of the participial modifier that begins this Asahi article:

    Fearing a flare-up in North Korea at any time, the Defense Agency has abandoned plans for the domestic production of a high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and will purchase U.S.-made planes instead, sources said.

    They said the decision was made because strengthened surveillance of airspace around Japan has become a priority, given the uncertain situation on the Korean Peninsula.

    Analysts said it likely would have taken a decade for Japan to deploy a domestically produced unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The Pentagon operates several UAV versions, so deploying one that fits Defense Agency needs should be no problem, the sources said.

    The aircraft would be used not only for patrol and reconnaissance over Japanese airspace, but could also be used for intelligence gathering from North Korea-even while flying in Japan’s Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ), which establishes the boundaries for territorial airspace.

    A Defense Agency study team visited the United States in April for a first-hand look at what UAVs actually do. Members focused on high-altitude aircraft like the Global Hawk and Predator as well as the low-altitude Fire Scout and Eagle Eye.

    I don’t know that the DPRK is going to erupt at Japan any time soon–though the SDF should be able to predict better than I can. I do know (this is something I’ve remarked on before) that the feeling of living in Japan is completely different from that of living in the States. If you’re good at spatial relations, you know that map in your head that appears whenever you read the name of a country or think about the location of a city? When you’re in America, of course, the only close-by major countries are Mexico and Canada. Our closest enemy is Cuba, and it hasn’t exactly been making many belligerent noises lately.

    In Japan, you’re within spitting distance of the DPRK, one of the craziest regimes on the planet, which tests missiles by flying them over your head and has been known to sneak onto your shores and snatch your citizens. Moving westward, you also have China, the most populous country in the world, a rising economic competitor whose citizens alternate between gratefully taking jobs and consuming goods created by your enterprises, on the one hand, and demonstrating against you, on the other. It treats nearby democracy Taiwan as a renegade province. Even South Korea, the other democracy in the region, has bitter memories of being occupied by you within the last century and is not always amicable.

    It’s little wonder that everyday citizens don’t think too hard about world politics; you could drive yourself insane. I’m glad the SDF, whose job it is to deal with grim realities, is accelerating its plans, even if it means buying planes from foreigners.

    Moderation in all things

    Posted by Sean at 23:40, June 8th, 2005

    And that, my dear blogdaddy, is why I still use the word libertarian. Moderate is a state of mind, not a set of political positions. This is not to trivialize the very important philosophical and ethical principle that we should all listen to those with opposing views, deal honestly with the valid points they make, and be willing to change our positions if their counterarguments are strong enough.

    It’s just that, if what you’re looking for is an indication of what the person you’re talking to thinks the relationship between government and society should be, hearing him says he’s a “moderate” tells you nothing except that he likes to congratulate himself about how fair-minded he is. You still need to find out whether he’s a conservative, a leftist, a nanny-statist, a one-world pacifist, or an isolationist; and the only way to do that is to start talking policy.

    Of course, libertarian has its downside–especially since all too many people like to hear “gay libertarian” as “gay libertine.” But in its implication that someone so labeled is likely to defend the strict delimitation of government power in relation to most issues that come up–which I’ve actually been known to do pretty immoderately–it suits me better than anything else I’ve encountered.

    Added on 10 June, Pretenders playing in the background: Alan Stewart Carl has his own take on centrism. It’s a good read. I’m still not entirely sure about this part, however:

    I have very firm beliefs (free markets, social inclusion, privacy rights, vigorous national defense, etc.) but other Centrists may fall to my left or right on some issues. That doesn’t make us mushy.

    Indeed? Sounds pretty mushy to me. I’m not accusing these individuals of being mushy, mind you, only saying that any political movement they’re all yoked into is going to be, unless you list out policy positions and do a sort of two-from-column-A-two-from-column-B diagnostic kind of thing.

    This part also caused my eyebrows to rise a bit:

    The current political environment too often serves up only two possible solutions. And too often the adherents to those solutions are unwilling to consider change (just look at the Social Security debate). Centrism seeks to get away from the choice A, choice B or no choice at all method of problem solving. We believe there is often a third way. And we want to find it.

    This is attractive on its face; we’ve all heard the proposals from the two major parties on a given issue and thought, “Wow, those both suck.” But surely centrists have noticed that, in the real world, the “third way” that is actually arrived at is frequently a cheerfully schizoid “bipartisan compromise,” produced by haggling and deal-brokering and back-scratching and pork-barreling in which coherent policy aims recede from view. If Alan thinks he has a better way that’s genuinely practicable, I, for one, would very much like to hear about it.

    I doubt that more hand-wringing about “special interests” is going to be of much help, though. By this point every American belongs to a half-dozen interest groups, whether he pays membership dues to any organization or not. Those that are very powerful tend to be those that have a lot of constituents (AARP, anyone?), which makes calling them “special” somewhat misleading. We are the special interests, and if those who self-identify as centrists want to decry the general entitlement-mindedness of the citizenry, I’m certainly on board. But in that case, you have to acknowledge (at least, I think you do) that stern, uncompromising calls for self-reliance are more likely to be effective there than yet more willingness to negotiate or endlessly poke around for more options.

    I don’t want to sound dismissive, because I do think what he’s saying is very important. The models for discourse we’re frequently offered these days usually come in two varieties: “politeness” = “namby-pamby PC-ism” and “character assassination/gruesomely gleeful expletive-throwing/screechy overstatement” = “daring truth-telling.” Both are tiresome beyond belief.

    But both also extend beyond the political realm and into popular culture, the arts, education, and what passes for conversation at dinner parties. Which is to say, a general return to civility, in which strongly-held, fact-based opinions are respectfully aired and heard, is what’s called for. Casting it as a move for political reform seems to me misleading and insufficient.

    Muslim refusenik

    Posted by Sean at 09:26, June 8th, 2005

    I bumped the mouse while I was over at Eric‘s and happened to land on this site. It turned out to be a felicitous accident, because he (I think it’s a he) has what looks like an author profile/review of a book posted. The book is by a Muslim lesbian, born in Uganda and brought up in Toronto. I could seriously learn to like this woman:

    “[Gay Muslim activists] say, ‘Don’t confuse me with being anti-Jewish, I’m just anti-Israel,'” Manji says. “I say, ‘Hold on sister. I oppose that premise and so should you.’ I have never said that Israel has a perfect human rights record. Neither does America. I make the case that Israel’s existence does not lie at the heart of what’s wrong with the Muslim world.

    “I say, yes, feel free to criticize the IDF [Israeli Defense Force] and their policies. There absolutely is an occupation but there is also a political occupation inflicted by the Palestinian leaders,” she says. “They have rejected every proposal for an independent state. They have always been rejected without the consultation of the Palestinian people. The last one, the Oslo Accords, was not translated into Arabic. This should burn every human rights activist.”

    That’s something I’ve always found it difficult to get my head around. On the one hand, it annoys me to see people wringing sacred texts like dishcloths to squeeze out meanings that they happen to want to be there. I find it much easier to deal with Biblical literalists (like those I grew up around) than, like, Unitarians. On the other hand, debate (including that over meanings) is how you learn that strong, vibrant personalities are going to disagree, that you’re not always right, and that the only thinking and behavior you can reliably change is your own.

    Come to think of it, maybe it’s the lack of self-criticism and constant finger-pointing at the same bugbear that makes gay activists feel such an affinity for, say, Palestinian activists:

    “The fact that the neo-con right and preachers have called Muslims on their hypocrisy makes it difficult for the political left to condemn it,” Manji says. “To criticize, they say, says you are only feeding into the so-called fear of Islam. It’s the same thing if someone were to say, ‘Oh, I think we need to overthrow Hussein because of his atrocious record on human rights.’

    “To criticize the gross human rights violations of Hussein means that you support the Bush administration,” she says. “I long to see the day when gay and lesbian leaders will attend Muslim speak-outs and ask the Muslims in those protests if they in turn will speak out against gay homophobia. I don’t hear too many queer activists hammering that.”

    Manji contends that Islam is the only religion that has no sense of moderation. Even Christianity has moderate factions, she says, despite the loud, mouthy rhetoric of apocalyptic social conservatives.

    “Whenever I would air anti-gay remarks from Christian leaders on my television show, Christian viewers would flood our lines with tolerant biblical interpretations,” she says. “But when I expose anti-gay feedback from Muslim leaders, not once did other leaders offer other interpretations. It is as if these bigots spoke for Islam. Even those who don’t share mainstream Islam’s prejudices against homosexuality won’t speak up.”

    Manji says she hears from many Muslims on her Web site, www.muslim-refusenik.com, and face-to-face that they can’t be public with their support of diversity because they fear persecution. She believes this is because literalism has gone mainstream.

    “Every religion has its fair share of literalists but in Islam, literalism is worldwide. Even moderate Muslims believe that the holy Koran is God 3.0,” she says. “Most Muslims still don’t know how to debate because they have never been taught to. The same cannot be said of moderate Christians and Jews.”

    If their moderation is in conflict with their beliefs about God, I don’t really see what the moderate Muslims Manji is describing can do except pick one. That doesn’t make it much easier to explain why they bother offering her secretive shows of solidarity and support, though.

    Risk-free adventure

    Posted by Sean at 01:23, June 8th, 2005

    The Committee to Protect Journalists is not an organization I’ve done much paying attention to. Something one of its spokespersons said yesterday caught my eye, though, and made me wonder anew at how callow some people can be.

    Reuters says a Spanish judge wants to haul in US soldiers for questioning over an incident two years ago in which a Spanish journalist was killed:

    The Pentagon has exonerated the U.S. soldiers from any blame, but High Court Judge Santiago Pedraz wants to question the three who were in the tank, a court official said on Tuesday.

    “Spanish cameraman Jose Couso, who worked for Telecinco, and Reuters cameraman Taras Protsiuk, a Ukrainian, were killed and several people were wounded when the U.S. tank fired a shell directly into the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad on April 8, 2003.

    The Spanish court would have jurisdiction only over the death of the Spanish citizen.

    The American soldiers would be questioned as suspects for murder and crimes against the international community, which carry sentences of 15 to 20 years in jail and 10 to 15 years respectively.

    “It is difficult to conceive of any set of circumstances under which we would submit U.S. military personnel to questioning before a foreign court of criminal jurisdiction regarding the conduct of authorized combat operations,” said Navy Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

    Hey, I wonder whether targeting journalists is a hate crime in Spain. Perhaps US forces were trying to create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. I’m not sure what other “crimes against the international community” [retch! heave!] we could be talking about.

    Maybe my irreverence is misplaced; it’s possible that the actual journalists who were killed had a clear-headed, philosophical view of the risks involved in covering combat operations and would be displeased at their colleagues’ reactions to their deaths.

    The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists obtained the full report under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act. Among other criticisms, the committee said the report failed to address “the question of why U.S. troops were not aware that the Palestine Hotel — one of the best-known civilian sites in Baghdad at the time — was full of journalists.”

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (and Reuters) made similar noises at the time, it seems:

    “I note that the commander of the U.S. 3rd Infantry has now said that one of its tanks fired a round at the Palestine Hotel,” Reuters Editor-in-chief Geert Linnebank said in a statement. “He said it did this after it came under fire from the hotel.”

    “… the incident nonetheless raises questions about the judgment of the advancing U.S. troops who have known all along that this hotel is the main base for almost all foreign journalists in Baghdad. (The Reuters cameraman’s) death, and the injuries sustained by the others, were so unnecessary.”

    The Committee to Protect Journalists said Tuesday that the incidents violated the Geneva Conventions and called for an “immediate and thorough investigation,” the results of which should be made public.

    These people are out of their gourd. The idea of marking off a little Temenos of Innocence in the middle of a war zone, in which journalists can expect absolute safety, is idiotic. Central Command made the common-sense point that such sites become a magnet for dirty-fighting combatants who want to camouflage themselves (and to make the enemy hestitate to strike at them hard). CPJ seems to think that the ground forces involved should have been told that there was a significant press presence in the Palestine Hotel. How that would have changed the fact that those ground forces were being shot at and needed to respond is not explained. As it was, those manning the tank didn’t keep firing, or call in reinforcements to help flatten the place, so they clearly didn’t mistake it for an enemy bunker.

    CPJ keeps its own statistics on journalists who die in the line of duty. Its total for 2004: 39 confirmed, including 13 in Iraq. Considering the risk involved in walking around a war zone without combat training, that doesn’t strike me as an outrageously high number.