Thursday, August 30, 2007

in which I link to John Cole a second time

It appears now that the real issue for the New Haven officials is money:
The cost of the public safety response to Thursday’s “white powder” scare that closed the Ikea store on Sargent Drive for four hours was more than $50,000, a city spokeswoman said Monday.

The incident drew dozens of New Haven and state police officers, firefighters, health department workers, FBI agents and other personnel from New Haven and neighboring communities, as well as special equipment from the U.S. Postal Service’s Wallingford processing center, which authorities say is the only place in the state that has such equipment.

It prompted the evacuation of Ikea at about 5 p.m. and kept it closed until the next morning — but the “white powder” turned out to be flour used to mark a running trail by local members of the international Hash House Harriers running club.

The group holds runs with similar trails all over the world, including New York City, Washington, D.C., and Baghdad.

“There’s not an exact number yet” for the total cost of the response “but we’re looking at upwards of $50,000,” said Jessica Mayorga, spokeswoman for the Police Department and Mayor John DeStefano Jr.

On Friday, Mayorga said officials were inclined to seek restitution from the two “hashers” who were charged with a felony in the case. She said after a meeting Monday on the case that no determination was made on whether to seek restitution.
The article goes on to point out that the felony the two are charged with requires someone to intentionally place something hazardous in a public place, and since this is clearly not the case, it is hard to conclude anything other than that the two were charged with felonies to help shake them down for cash to “recoup” the losses of the government.

It is disgusting. Taxpayers fund the government, fund all of these activities and officials, and then, when they misuse them, they charge folks with a felony to try to get more money. The mafia has more shame.
And much less power.


Wednesday, August 29, 2007

a jury of your peeps

Phew, I am glad we are finally done with that nasty Abu Ghraib business. It looks as though every responsible officer in the case has been let off the hook. Hurrah!

A military jury acquitted an Army officer on Tuesday of charges that he failed to properly train and supervise enlisted soldiers involved in detainee interrogations in 2003 at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where prisoners were subjected to brutal treatment.

In the court-martial at Fort Meade, Md., the jury of nine Army colonels and a brigadier general found the officer, Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, guilty of only one lesser offense, that of disobeying an order to refrain from discussing the case.

Colonel Jordan, 51, was the only officer to stand trial on charges related to the detainee-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, which led to prolonged investigations and charges against several soldiers.

Colonel Jordan’s acquittal on most charges means that no officers have been found criminally responsible for the abuses at the prison.

. . .

John Sifton, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the verdict was “a disappointment but not a surprise,” given the meager case he said prosecutors presented to the jury of senior officers. Mr. Sifton said prosecutors completely failed to muster evidence, including military case law, to show that Colonel Jordan, even if he did not participate in or know about abuses, was, as a senior officer at Abu Ghraib, responsible for abuses that occurred there.

“The prosecutors did not seem to understand the concept of command responsibility as a legal issue,” Mr. Sifton said, adding that other military officers, not just Colonel Jordan, should have been brought to trial for their roles in commanding detention operations in which detainees were abused.
In other news, a jury composed of Hank Greenberg, Bernie Ebbers, Dick Grasso, and Dennis Kozlowski agreed to grant Jeff Skilling early parole for good behavior and time served. Justice is served! Sweet, tasty justice . . .

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

partisan accelerator

Henry from Crooked Timber blogs about how partisan divergence in opinion on global warming is accelerating:

One bit of the Snyder, Shapiro and Bloch-Elkon paper that I linked to last week was overshadowed by the discussion of the Iraq war. They report survey evidence saying that:
Since September 11, there is not only a wider gap between Republicans and Democrats across a broad range of foreign policy issues, but their views have moved in opposite directions in response to new information. In 1998, 31 percent of Republicans believed that the planet was warming, but by 2006 only 26% did, whereas Democrats increased from 39 to 46% and Independents from 31 to 45%.
To my mind this suggests some interesting connections between new information, the dynamics of opinion change and partisanship. This same period saw an unmistakable convergence of scientific opinion, as many scientists who had previously been agnostic or skeptical came to accept mounting evidence that climate change was occurring. It also saw a clear convergence between Democratic voters and independents. But Republicans, if anything, would appear to have become less likely to believe strongly that climate change was happening during the same period. Either they weren’t getting the same information as scientists, Democrats and independents, or they were interpreting this information in different ways. My best guess (and I am not a public opinion specialist by any stretch of the imagination) is that two things are going on here. First, some Republicans are being exposed to different information than other voters, through talk radio, targeted mailings, frothing-at-the-mouth blogs and other media. Second, even those Republicans who aren’t (or who are only minimally exposed to this information) are increasingly coming to treat global warming as a partisan issue, where conceding that it is happening is in some sense giving ground to ‘the other side.’ [footnotes omitted]

I don’t think these can be treated as separate issues. Someone with a particular perspective shaped by unique surroundings, upbringing, life experiences, and choices will process a given bit of information differently than someone else with an entirely different perspective. People prioritize sources of information based on their existing perspectives. Sources of news and commentary don’t provide facts so much as narratives. So Republicans are both being exposed to different information than other voters and treating global warming as a partisan issue. So are Democrats; so am I, so are you. The process is circular and self-perpetuating. The filtered information and biased processor are two sides of the same coin. This is far from revolutionary.

But Republican intransigence on global warming is as the mewing of a small kitten compared to this:
[The Sunni insurgents] begin from a deep belief that they are the ones who defeated the United States (and they do believe that they are winning), and that they are a majority in Iraq (a few weeks ago I think I wrote about a statement by the head of the Islamic Army of Iraq which claimed that Sunnis made up 60% of Iraq's population). They also believe that the current Iraqi state and government are thoroughly controlled by Iran, and that the Shia are determined to ethnically cleanse them from (at least) Baghdad.
[Mark Lynch via Eric Martin]

One interesting question is: How do certain groups of people get so out of whack with broader society? Another is: What normally keeps groups from collectively going off the deep end like this? How are holdout narratives such as these (e.g., apartheid, anti-Semitism, divine right of kings) finally deconstructed and invalidated?

Monday, August 27, 2007

my first link to John Cole

How many Americans have died due to terrorist attacks in this country in the last ten years?

Two thousand, seven hundred and forty-five. All related to 9/11, save five people that were killed in the anthrax mailings. There simply have been no other attacks- nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. The only other thing I can think of that comes close is the DC Sniper, and I can’t even remember his cause, so I am hesistant to call him a terrorist.

Again. 2745 dead. That is it. What is the US population?

According to the census, 302,703,731.

So 2745 out of 302,703,731 in the past ten years have died in terrorist attacks, and we are getting our knickers in a twist about an arrow made of flour in the IKEA parking lot?

It is absurd. You are safe. I am safe. This nation is safe. Quit being such a damned pussy. All of you.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

regular joes

Jim Henley ponders the persistent attraction of war:

War is beguiling. Even those of us who have spent years opposing this war, and the next one, are testament to this. We could be writing every day about tax policy or drug laws or health care policy or Lindsay Lohan. We write about war because it’s important, but also because it’s fascinating. Even as we abhor it we are mesmerized.
I'm reading now A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin. British commanders and politicians in WWI were at least as clueless, ineffectual, and bloodthirsty as Bush and Co. have been, and hundreds of thousands of troops died needlessly as a result of their stupidity. Contemporary public perception of who was competent and who to blame for wartime screwups was almost entirely wrong. Most striking was the unquestioned view, shared by 99% of the people in charge, that it would be in the Arabs' best interest to be ruled by Britain and that, in fact, this was what the Arabs wanted. There was never any evidence to support this view, and there’s little evidence American troops are welcome in Iraq today.

A good portion of the problems of Britain in the Middle East in WWI and of our problems today can be attributed to troop worship and the free hand given the military. Service in the military doesn't endow regular people with exceptional intelligence and judgment—perhaps the reverse is more true.

War gets disproportionate attention in part because people feel war is world-changing and historically important, so they view it and those who carry it out with a sort of sacred awe. Yes, when countries fight wars, governments are overthrown, borders redrawn, and lots of people die. But the pervasive sense one gets in discussion about the Iraq War is that each action, each decision taken in wartime is weightier and more meaningful than routine peacetime decisions. Politicians and generals use this public feeling to circumvent normal decision-making processes and insulate themselves from criticism. Not subject to normal constraints on power and often blind to inconvenient facts or contrary narratives, they make predictable errors and overestimate their capabilities. Also, they often view human beings as just so many Risk pieces on their global gameboard, to be shuffled around and sacrificed as contingencies of the moment require. Consequently, incompetence and meaningless destruction are the rule in wartime, not the exception. War, then, fills me not with a sense of awe and import, but with disgust and sadness.

Treating members of the military like regular human beings subject to the same temptations, aspirations, and obligations as the rest of us would help deflate the false religion of war and show it for what it invariably is: a bloody mess.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

the ambiguity of sensation

This caught my eye today:

Using virtual reality goggles, a camera and a stick, scientists have induced out-of-body experiences — the sensation of drifting outside of one’s own body — - in healthy people, according to experiments being published in the journal Science.

When people gaze at an illusory image of themselves through the goggles and are prodded in just the right way with the stick, they feel as if they have left their bodies.

The research reveals that “the sense of having a body, of being in a bodily self,” is actually constructed from multiple sensory streams, said Matthew Botvinick, an assistant professor of neuroscience at Princeton University, an expert on body and mind who was not involved in the experiments.

Usually these sensory streams, which include vision, touch, balance and the sense of where one’s body is positioned in space, work together seamlessly, Prof. Botvinick said. But when the information coming from the sensory sources does not match up, when they are thrown out of synchrony, the sense of being embodied as a whole comes apart.

The brain, which abhors ambiguity, then forces a decision that can, as the new experiments show, involve the sense of being in a different body.

The research provides a physical explanation for phenomena usually ascribed to other-worldly influences, said Peter Brugger, a neurologist at University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland. After severe and sudden injuries, people often report the sensation of floating over their body, looking down, hearing what is said, and then, just as suddenly, find themselves back inside their body. Out-of-body experiences have also been reported to occur during sleep paralysis, the exertion of extreme sports and intense meditation practices.
I remember one sunny afternoon as a preteen sitting in Sunday school listening rapt to my teacher recount a near death experience he’d had as a young man. He had been in some kind of accident and described in vivid detail how, while lying in the hospital bed, he left his body and temporarily entered another place, a beautiful place that must have been heaven. He was an amiable guy in his thirties, and though only 5’8” or so, could dunk the basketball, which meant that to us, he was God. Or at least God’s right hand man. We had a basketball court inside the church, that’s how seriously we took the sport. So the man had our respect.

Over the years of my indoctrination, I heard similar stories, always offered and received with a reverence and awe reserved for the most sacred topics. I always sensed, when these testimony-strengthening experiences were brought out, the familiar phrases lovingly retraced like a pencil scratching the lines of a name on the back of a pew, that we were getting to the core of faith, to the real nub of things. What set us apart, what gave us the hope and optimism that others lacked, was our knowledge of the hereafter. Knowledge that the future was good, that it stretched out like the ocean away from the limited scope of our present sight, and that each of us would be there in person to see it unfold.

The out-of-body stories were a source of comfort to me; they suggested that I, ever resistant to change, could continue on the path upon which I had been set. They suggested that all I had been taught, the ancient stories and the rules around which I structured my life, cohered into something powerful, real, and essential.

I remember in high school my mother, a clinical psychologist, talking about unwelcome doubts that had intruded on her faith, doubts spawned by her neuropsych studies. Questions about things I took for granted like consciousness, emotion, and agency. What if fundamentals like love or faith were dependent on chemical reactions in our brains, wholly contingent on the vagaries of our impermanent bodies? I thought her weak and immature at the time. She must have lacked discipline to have entertained those misgivings, or her mental clarity must have temporarily failed.

A couple years afterwards, I left the church. It’s been many years since then. Still I find that articles like the one excerpted above exert a pull on me; I feel the same fascination that I felt in Sunday school years ago. I feel this time, though, not as if routine things have been enshrouded with mystery, but as if previously obscure matters have become clearer.

I am reminded of the words of LDS authority Bruce McConkie in a different context:
We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

your daily imponderable

This deserves to be more widely disseminated:

An article in the Post asks if the War on Drugs has undermined the War on Terror. This question seems to me to be as fully engaged with reality as the question of whether or not a man who has self-amputated both arms with a band saw has undermined his ability to fly by flapping them.
Chew on that for awhile and see if you have any teeth left!

Monday, August 20, 2007

GiuliRomney Attacks!

Rudy has the spine of a mollusk and the consistency of warm jello salad, improbably tempered by a Chihuahuan streak of toothless viciousness. Romney is a robotic opportunist who promises to leave no voting bloc unpandered. Together, they are: GiuliRomney, cybernetic frontrunner in the race for the GOP nomination!
(I credit my wife with this disturbing formulation.)

ImmigrationProf Blog watches with cynical amusement as each tries to out-hate the other:

On August 9, we reported that Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney had accused fellow Republican Rudy Guiliani of being "soft" on immigration when he was mayor of New York, a cruelly ironic accusation given that Romney stands accused of employing undocumented workers at his home in Massachusetts. As they say, for every action, there is a reaction. CNN now reports that Giuliani promised today to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States by closely tracking visitors to the country and beefing up border security.
This is one of the most egregious of Rudy’s many flipperoos. I haven’t paid much attention to Rudy, since it’s been hard to take him seriously as a potential Republican candidate, given his lengthy, well-documented leadership of one of the most liberal cities in the country. I stand by that assessment, but he’s still there in the race, acting crazy and walking back, one by one, each policy stance he once held in public office.

When Giuliani was attacked by Romney a week or two ago about his history of support for out-of-status immigrants in New York City, his campaign avoided the issue entirely, instead trying for a NYPost headline with a snarky takedown:
Campaign communications director Katie Levinson said, "I am not even sure we should weigh in on this, given Mitt Romney may change his mind later today about it. Mitt Romney is as wrong about Mayor Giuliani's position on illegal immigration as he was when he last mischaracterized the mayor's record and later had to apologize. New York is the safest large city in America since Mayor Giuliani turned it around -- it is not a haven for illegality of any kind. The mayor's record speaks for itself."
Elsewhere in the article, ABC gave the following bit of context:
In 1996, Giuliani compared "the anti-immigration issue that's now sweeping the country" to "the Chinese Exclusionary Act, or the Know-Nothing movement -- these were movements that encouraged Americans to fear foreigners, to fear something that is different and to stop immigration."

That same year he sued the federal government for new provisions in federal immigration laws that would encourage government employees to turn in illegal immigrants seeking benefits from the city.
Romney has the knives out on this issue since it’s one he’s vulnerable on himself:
For 10 years, Romney used the services of a landscaping company for his Belmont, Mass., estate that hired illegal workers from Guatemala, workers who told the Boston Globe that Romney never inquired about their legal status.

While Romney was governor, the commonwealth of Massachusetts became one of the six states with the largest growth in unauthorized migrant population, from 2002 to 2004, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, with somewhere between 200,000-250,000 new illegal immigrants. Romney was governor from January 2003 until 2007.

Romney in the past voiced support for immigration reform bills far more liberal than the 2007 bill.
The maddening beauty of our primary system is that, even as public opinion moves decisively to the left (or at least as decisively as a herd of black angus moves in response to a few border collies snapping at their tails), the leading candidates for the Republican nomination are driven to renounce previously-held reasonable positions and aspire to new heights of frenzied conservatism by an increasingly isolated “crazy 27%” , thereby ensuring their eventual defeat in the general election. But that still won't necessarily give us a sane, humane immigration bill.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

what, nauseous?

Obama wants to remind Democrats of the feeling they get when they're at a ball game and the national anthem is played . . .

charity and the market

I’d rather give my money to CARE than to the government, which would rather give taxpayer money to corporate farmers than to poor people:

CARE, one of the world’s biggest charities, is walking away from some $45 million a year in federal financing, saying American food aid is not only plagued with inefficiencies, but also may hurt some of the very poor people it aims to help.

CARE’s decision is focused on the practice of selling tons of often heavily subsidized American farm products in African countries that in some cases, it says, compete with the crops of struggling local farmers.

The charity says it will phase out its use of the practice by 2009. But it has already deeply divided the world of food aid and has spurred growing criticism of the practice as Congress considers a new farm bill.
Here we see the crucial text: the farm bill. As with the perennial energy bill, these words should alert the careful reader that the con is on.
. . . Peter J. Matlon, a Nairobi-based agricultural economist and a managing director of the Rockefeller Foundation, said in an interview that converting American commodities into cash for development was a case of “the tail wagging the dog,” with domestic farm policies in the United States shaping hunger-fighting methods abroad.

. . .

The Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan, investigative arm of Congress, also concluded this year that the system was “inherently inefficient.” CARE and Catholic Relief Services — who rank first and second in money raised through the current system — say they recover only 70 to 80 percent of what the United States paid for the commodities and shipping.
CARE thinks traditional forms of charity are unsustainable, and works to promote development instead. This is better for everyone involved. Teaching a man to fish and all that.
One of those programs could be seen in action one recent afternoon in the Kenyan village of Poche. CARE has helped local women bypass local middlemen to sell pineapples at better prices in Nairobi’s big supermarkets, 10 hours away by road.

. . .

CARE’s idea is that a profitable business is more likely than a charitable venture to survive when foreign aid runs out.

“What’s happened to humanitarian organizations over the years is that a lot of us have become contractors on behalf of the government,” said Mr. Odo of CARE. “That’s sad but true. It compromised our ability to speak up when things went wrong.”
This story exposes the falseness of the “free market” story the U.S. likes to tell about itself. Rather than funding sustainable ventures with equals, the government would prefer to shovel money at its corporate farmers to provide handouts to poor nations that may do more harm than good. The spigot from U.S. taxpayers to corporations is always open full, even when the government tells us we are giving to the needy. This corporate giveaway is shrouded in the following lie: this is the market at its finest, allowing us to live well enough to give freely. Everyone wins.

Running our foreign policy on the dual principles of militarism and charity poisons our country and those we interact with. It is reminiscent of a feudal lord tossing a few alms to his peasants every Christmas, then exploiting/ignoring them the rest of the year. This approach is unsustainable in a world where people in rising nations are not content to live second-best lives.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

hands off Zimbabwe!

mugabe mansion
Originally uploaded by tos1010

By all accounts, Mugabe has run Zimbabwe into the ground. Anyone who could leave the country has already done so—the rest are left to suffer and wait for something better.

Which is why it pisses me off to periodically see my corner of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, plastered with posters of Mugabe’s ugly mug and slogans like “Hands Off, Bush and Blair” or “Mugabe is Right!” I don’t know if this misguided mini-movement is the result of stubborn, head-in-the-sand racial politics or if it’s actually sponsored by the government of Zimbabwe.

A bit of Googling leads me to this:
“Mugabe is right!” and “Bush and Blair are wrong!” were two slogans chanted repeatedly during a march in Harlem, N.Y., on April 14 to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the liberation of the southern Africa country of Zimbabwe from British colonialism in 1980. The Brooklyn-based December 12th Movement and Friends of Zimbabwe initiated the march, which was supported by other groups.

The demonstration was more than just a celebration of independence. It also served as an occasion to defend Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and its president, Robert Mugabe, from ongoing threats by U.S. and British imperialism.
Now that’s just retarded. And this made me chuckle:
March organizers also linked the land issue in Zimbabwe to the ongoing crisis of massive gentrification in Harlem caused by big real estate developers who want to turn what was once referred to as the “capital of Black America” into a haven for affluent whites.
So in this analogy, Mugabe’s forcible land redistribution equals the developers putting up fancy condos in poor areas? Or do the affluent white gentrifiers correspond to Mugabe razing the shantytowns and displacing an already impoverished people while he lives in luxury? I need someone to spell this out for me, ‘cause I don’t get it.

As the resident gentrifier on my block, next time I see those posters on the corner, it’s my duty to tear that shit down. Or at least sharpie a Hitler mustache on Mugabe.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

chocolate cheese!

The Times has been flogging the evils of farm subsidies as long as I’ve been reading the paper, for at least the last ten years. This has had no measurable effect on farm policy. But they keep trying—the latest installment explores the success New Zealand, an agriculture-based economy, has had by eliminating its farm subsidies.

“They went cold turkey and in the process it was very rough on their farming economy,” said Ray Goldberg, a retired professor of agriculture and business at Harvard Business School. “But they came out healthier and stronger. They proved it could be done.”

. . .

Traditional subsidies, economists contend, generally encourage inefficient farmers to grow unprofitable crops far beyond what consumers actually need, secure in the knowledge that the government will help protect them from loss. And they make it much harder for farmers in poor countries to compete on a level playing field against coddled farmers in the West. Removing subsidies, the argument goes, liberates the best farmers anywhere in the world to produce what people really want.

“When you’re not going to get paid for what the market doesn’t want, you have to get off your backside and find out what they want,” said Charlie Pedersen, who, when he is not raising sheep and beef cattle on his farm north of the capital, Wellington, is president of Federated Farmers of New Zealand.
So by eliminating subsidies, you save consumers money and make your farmers more efficient and competitive. What's not to like? Why don't we do something similar? Well, because of the farm lobby.
If the United States were to pursue a New Zealand-type strategy, [farm lobbyist] Mr. Buis argued, large corporate entities would end up controlling most farms as smaller farmers went into bankruptcy. “Those people are going to get financially ruined,” he said.
A favorite trick of corporate farmers is to use small farmers as poster children to keep the subsidies flowing, while most of the subsidies end up going to the mega-farms. And New Zealand's approach could never work here, farm lobbyists are eager to point out.
“There’s a lot of differences between New Zealand and the United States," Tom Buis, president of the National Farmers Union in Washington, said in a telephone interview. “They are almost completely export oriented, and that’s quite the reverse of the U.S.”
For the life of me, I can't figure out what he is saying here.

Perhaps the reason subsidies are essential in the U.S. is because farming is such a crucial part of the overall economy? Well, not exactly . . .
[F]arming [in New Zealand] is not a small part of the economy as it is in the United States; it is the nation’s largest, most important sector.

“It was wacko,” said John Yeabsley, a former trade official who is now an economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research in Wellington. “Who’s going to pay for the subsidies?”

Farmers eventually realized that it was them. They responded to their higher tax burden by maximizing their subsidies. “The whole thing,” Mr. Wooding said, “was a game to try to get as much government money as possible.”

By the early 1980s, the cost of this system had created a balance of payments crisis for the nation.
For New Zealand, the subsidies meant inevitable bankruptcy and poverty. For us, it just means we pay extra for milk and eggs to ensure that the teenage children of corporate agriculture executives can drive Hummers to high school. Farm subsidies put the lie to the myth of the Western farmer as a ruggedly independent character who takes handouts from nobody. The system is set up so that small farmers have to line up, cap in hand, for the federal alms. Small farmers can run their farms with ruthless efficiency, but even with federal subsidies, they may only barely break even. Without subsidies, many would run at a loss and end up selling out to subdivision developers. Who ever heard of a wealthy family farmer? They are rare birds, at least in Utah.

The story concludes:
Without government aid, New Zealand farmers have found other ways to deal with the vicissitudes of commodity markets. In 2001, dairy farmers merged two rival cooperatives to form their own purchasing and exporting cooperative, Fonterra, which also gives New Zealand pricing heft in international markets.

“I’m very happy with Fonterra,” Mr. Lumsden said. “They’ve taken the peaks and troughs out of the price in the world market.”

Fonterra also drives innovation and product development: New Zealand’s dairy farmers have ventured into new lines like antibody-rich milk for the health food and pharmaceutical markets, kosher milk and even chocolate cheese.

“What’s happened since the reforms is that you have a new type of farm emerging — a business farm,” Mr. Lumsden said. Giving up subsidies made farming harder, he conceded, but introduced the pride that comes of entrepreneurship. “It made it more enjoyable,” he said.
But the U.S. interest-group driven political model and national bias towards rural areas will ensure that no such innovations come our way. Instead, corporate megafarms will continue to suckle at Congress’s munificent teat.

thieving Times

There's a thief about. Somebody alert the authorities. Josh Marshall writes:

The Murkowski land deal story just appeared in Wednesday's Times as though by Virgin Birth. They don't seem to realize that TPMmuckraker broke this story about two weeks ago.

What's weird is that the Times reporters were apparently listening to the same Anchorage talk radio station interview Laura McGann was listening to in which Murkowski's husband, Verne Martell, admitted that Lisa Murkowski thought the deal might "come back to bite us."
Ms. Murkowski, who was appointed to the Senate in 2002 by her father, Frank Murkowski, a former senator who was then governor, was apparently aware that the land deal might draw unwelcome scrutiny. Her husband, Verne Martell, said two weeks ago in a radio interview in Alaska that “when we signed the loan, Lisa signed on it and said, ‘This might come back to bite us.’ ”
That's uncanny because that's the passage of the interview Laura transcribed in this July 23rd post.

To the folks at the Grey Lady, all we can say is, We're Glad We Could Be of Assistance.