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Fire Department Blotter for Nov. 12

November 12, 2009

File under Why We Need Investigative Journalism: The New York Times today has a story about Peter W. Galbraith, a former American ambassador (and son of the famous economist) whose close relationships with Iraq’s Kurdish regional government and a Norwegian oil company, as well as the Kurdish constitutional provisions that he helped the ethnic group extract from the Iraqi central government, have put him in position to earn upwards of $100 million dollars from a Kurdish oil field.

Politico has a memo from Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, who says that layoffs are happening at the weekly.  That’s a shame.  I really like the magazine’s new redesign and direction, launched earlier this year.

According to the Nielsen Company, U.S. TV-viewing is at an all-time high: The average American watches four hours and 49 minutes of the stuff every day. (How is that even possible?)

The New York Times has a generally high-marks review of the new video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 … save for this disturbing revelation:

Basically, the player, in the guise of an American commando, can participate in a massacre of unarmed civilians.

Or is it acceptable?  The review goes on to make a queasy sort of argument for the sequence’s validity.  And, oftentimes great books or movies put readers or viewers in the shoes of people who do terrible things … though of course many oppose these works as well.  Is a video game any different?  As the reviewer writes:

Yet the player may find it hard to feel much animosity toward the virtual Russians because you have seen or participated in the very atrocity that has prompted them to attack the United States. It all lends an emotionally ambiguous cast to the cavalcades of explosions and gunfire that Modern Warfare replicates so energetically.

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