American Pie 28.11.05

Pie One:

Whether Lord Black is heavily fined or goes to jail
is one question, but the other is: Will he have a country when his
trial is over? Unless he is acquitted in Chicago of all the charges –
which he insists will happen – he may find it difficult to ever return
to his native Canada. Four years ago, in order to accept his British
title, he renounced his Canadian citizenship. Which means whenever he
returns to Canada he is considered to be a visitor. And should he be
convicted of the charges against him – or even if the case is still in
abeyance – he could be refused entry to Canada. Even an allegation of
wrong-doing is enough to have someone barred from Canada. Lord Black
reportedly is trying to regain his Canadian citizenship, He has, it’s
said , hired a top Canadian lawyer who specializes in immigration
problems.

Of course the beleagured 61.year old Press lord still
has his British citizenship but he has, it’s reported, sold his London
residence and until his latest problems erupted was spending most of
his time at his estate in Toronto. So where these days does he feel is
his home? He is still insistent that the charges against him in the
United States are without substance and he will ultimately be
vindicated. “There will be a happy ending” he said confidently. “It’s
all a big smear job”

The now long-running inquiry into who
leaked the name of a CIA agent to various Washington journalists –
including, of course, New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who went
to jail for refusing to reveal her source – is once again gathering
momentum.

The special prosecutor, charged with investigating
the leak, is still doggedly pursuing the case. He has asked that yet
another reporter, Vivecia Novak, of Time magazine, be officially
questioned. In her case she is being asked about a conversation she had
with a lawyer who represents senior White House advisor Karl Rove . It
suggests the special prosecutor is determined to link the White House
with the case. The Bush administration, its been suggested, was irked –
even angered – that a former diplomat, the husband of the now famous
CIA agent, had been sent to Africa allegedly at his wife’s suggestion
and returned reporting there was no truth in the claim that Saddam
Hussein was endeavoring to purchase nuclear materials in Africa. A
claim that, at the time, bolstered President Bush’s urging that no-one
would be safe until Saddam Hussein was deposed But who, if anyone, was
“assigned” to blow – the CIA agent’s cover, is still a mystery.

Ironically
it was Robert Novak, a Washington columnist, who first revealed the
name of the secret CIA agent in a story he wrote back in July 2003 –
long before it became a sizzling Washington topic. He is not, it’s been
pointed out, related to Time mag’s Ms Novak..

Every week more
journalists in the US get their walking papers – or “pink slips” as
they are called here. At the latest count more than 1,900 have lost
their jobs this year. That’s from big and middle-sized papers. There
are no figures for small newspapers..

The latest big papers to
slash their staffs are the Houston Chronicle, which has cut is
workforce by seven per cent, and the San Jose Mercury News. which laid
off 16 per cent of its newsroom staff. The company that surprised
everyone was the NY Times Co. which in September cut 500 jobs –
including 45 positions in the newsroom of its flagship The NY Times.
The Hearst papers in San Francisco and Houston have laid off almost 250
of their staff. The Los Angeles Times also has laid off 85 staff, the
Chicago Tribune about 100. All the newspapers blame rising costs and
loss of advertising. In on effort to cut costs the LA Times and Chicago
Tribune are considering reducing the amount of space they devote to
stock market prices. The argument is that anyone who owns stocks and
shares and is a serious investor these days goes on-line. At the moment
the LA Times prints four pages of stock listings five days a week and
five pages on Sundays. A spokesman for the paper said the plan may be
to reduce the number of stocks listed – not cut them out completely.
One paper that has already cut back its listings is The Star Ledger in
Newark, New Jersey. It has reduced its daily stock quotes from 7,000 to
just 700. About 700 readers protested –but only 50 actually cancelled
their subscriptions. The paper claims its saving about a million
dollars a year in the cost of newsprint.

For its 1000th issue
next year Rolling Stone is planning something its claims no-other
magazine has done before: a cover in 3-D.. It will consist of a collage
of 100 people who have been important to American music. politics and
pop culture since the magazine was launched in November 1967. The cover
will not require special 3-D glasses. It ‘s using a new technique known
as lenticular. It involves hand feeding material into the presses, It
will probably, it is also claimed, be the most expensive cover in
magazine history – although the magazine won’t say exactly how much. It
will however recoup some of its money it hopes, by increasing its cover
price for the 3D issue from its regular $4.

A few jaws dropped
at the NY Times at the sight of Jayson Blair,the reporter whose
fabrications created a scandal at the paper two years ago and led to
the resignation of editor Howell Raines, walking by the building once
again. He was there, in the neighbourhood, he explained, to tape an
interview for Swedish tv. The disgraced newsman admitted he was nervous
. But some of his former colleagues said hello. “That was nice” he
said. Since his firing from The Times he has been living in rural
Virginia writing about his medical problems , specifically his bi-polar
disorder. “I’m just susceptible to lying” he confesses As for the
Judith Miller scandal he said: “What’;s scary is how at The Times you
can so quickly switch from being a star to being vilified.”

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