Though not nearly as sleazy as Will Leitch and the New York Times’ Warren St. John trading links, the LA Times’ Mark Mazzetti and Borzou Daragahi have uncovered ways in which the US Defense Department’s aspiring military journalists can be published for the first time.
As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.
The articles, written by U.S. military “information operations” troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.
Though the articles are basically factual, they present only one side of events and omit information that might reflect poorly on the U.S. or Iraqi governments, officials said. Records and interviews indicate that the U.S. has paid Iraqi newspapers to run dozens of such articles, with headlines such as “Iraqis Insist on Living Despite Terrorism,” since the effort began this year.
The Atlanta Journal-Constituion’s Dave O’Brien tips Rafael Furcal to re-sign with the Braves.
From the few conversations I™ve had with baseball types in past couple of days, I™m more convinced than ever that Braves are keeping Furcal. Not 100 percent certain, but definitely moved closer to that than the 50-50 proposition I felt it was when I left town a week ago. We™ll see. Not really expecting a decision from him until end of winter meetings next week in Dallas, but I think the Cubs would have to pay far more than they™re willing to offer to pry Furcal away from Bobby Cox and the Braves.
So what would that mean for the future, if the Braves sign Furcal to, say, a four-year contract? What about all the young middle-infield prospects coming up the pipeline? Well, I think if they sign Furcal, Marcus Giles wouldn™t be part of the long-term plans. Maybe he™ll be back this year at more than $4 mill through arbitration but after that, the Braves could move one of the young studs from shortstop to second base and have him ready to step in and play for a few years at a very low salary. And another of the youngsters could move into utility role once Pete Orr becomes arbi-eligible in a couple years and too expensive to keep as a utility guy. But that™s just me speculating, looking ahead.
As for closer, obviously with Billy Wagner and B.J. Ryan off the market and both having signed even bigger deals than anyone projected, it™s going to drive up the price of the remaining options, including two the Braves have considered ” Kyle Farnsworth and Trevor Hoffman. The Braves liked Farnsworth enough in his three-plus months with them to feel comfortable with him as their closer for next couple years, but it just depends how high the Yankees and possibly other suitors drive up the price.
Wednesday morning on XM’s Home Plate channel, Mark Patrick and Buck Martinez suggested that if the Braves failed to keep Furcal after failing to woo BJ Ryan or Billy Wagner, Chipper Jones would be justified in asking for his defered money back.
Sam Frank says the footage is “bananas” and the New York Times’ Lee Jenkins concurs.
Helix High School conveniently stores its old highlight tape of Reggie Bush (above) in the sports medicine center.
“You’ll see some stuff on here,” Helix Athletic Director Damon Chase cautioned, “that is really pretty sickening.”
Despite the lack of a warning label, the footage of Helix’s most aerodynamic alumnus can induce dizzy spells, even for that jaded viewer numbed by hours of cable highlight shows.
The tape includes eight minutes of cutbacks, jump stops, spin moves and slipped tackles that have not yet been broadcast on national television.
With limited sound and only one slow-motion replay, the tape acts as an underground treasure in Southern California. Watching it feels sort of like listening to a bootlegged copy of a Bob Dylan basement concert. “I don’t know who exactly has the tape right now,” Chase said. “But I know it’s been copied a lot.”
Borat’s reply to the Kazakhstan Government (Windows Media Player required, link courtesy Brian Turner.)
Thanks to Paul Sommerstein for passing along the sad news that 1B Vic Power, whose big league career spanned 12 years with the A’s (Philly and K.C.), the Twins, Angels and Phillies, has died at the age of 78.
Power stole home twice in a 1958 game for the Indians ; he won the Gold Glove for his work at 1st on seven occasions. Though there are a couple of obituaries making the rounds, Sommerstein submits the following quotes from The Bill James Baseball Abstract :
Power was a spectacular defensive first baseman, an acrobat who would dive for ground balls half way to second base; he had the athletic ability we normally associate with a very good second baseman, but had applied it to playing first base. Power had the same problem as Siebern and McQuinn: he came along in the Yankee farm system at a time when the Yankees were not exactly desperate for help. He had two additional problems: one, that he would be a right-handed hitter in Yankee Stadium, and two, that he was a dark-skinned Latin player before the Yankees had broken the color line.
One odd thing about Power is that his power zone was right between his eyes; if you threw at his head (which a lot of people did) he was liable to line the knock down pitch into the left field bleachers.
He hit .300 several times in the majors (.288 or better six seasons as a regular), hit 14-19 homers a year, led the league in triples one year, won seven Gold Gloves at first base, and would have won two or three more before that, but they didn’t start giving the award until the middle of his career.
Power was an emotional player, great sense of humor, always laughing, joking, cutting up, playing practical jokes, but he was also a sensitive man with a hair-trigger temper. He would get “hurt angry” rather than “fighting angry,” not that he didn’t get into his share of fights, but sometimes he would take things the wrong way. Bigots just couldn’t stand him. In the vernacular of the 1950s, Power was one of “them” who “didn’t know his place.” He was a showboat, and he was an uppity n-word who dated white girls.
My favorite Vic Power story…Vic Power in a restaurant in Syracuse, 1951. An embarrassed waiter shuffles up to him and explains, “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t serve colored people.”
“That’s OK,” says Power. “I don’t eat colored people.”
Chicago’s WMVP claims the Cubs might be sending Todd Walker to Los Angeles in exchange for the cool, calm and collected Milton Bradley.
With Jeff Kent ensconced at 2B, Walker — an unlikely Gold Glove candidate at any position — would play third base.
If Bradley does indeed, come to Wrigley, Jay Mariotti can finish most of next year’s columns by January 1.
Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci does a fine job breaking down the Mets’ financial picture (ie. “where is all the money coming from?”) but the part about the club anticipating a gate of 3 million plus is interesting. There were a lot of empty seats at Shea last September, and while the team are unquestionably a hotter product with the additions of Delgado and Wagner, tickets haven’t gotten any cheaper (and the stadium hasn’t improved one iota) since the last time the Mets drew 3 million.