Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Some newspapers are saved; others are not

It looks as if a buyer has been found for the Bristol Press and New Britain Herald. That's a cause for muted celebration, muted not because of the success for the five central Connecticut papers included in the deal, but for those in the New Haven area not included.

The buyer, Michael Schroeder, said he will keep both papers running at their current schedules. The deal includes the weekly Wethersfield Post, Rocky Hill Post and Newington Town Crier.

What it doesn't include is the group of local weeklies in the New Haven area that were gobbled up by Journal-Register, the publisher of the Herald, Press and New Haven Register. The Journal-Register then just regurgitated them and tossed them into the trash when they proved too expensive for the company's reduced means. 

The self-serving release put out by Journal-Register about the sale didn't point that out. It said the company had tried really hard to sell the central Connecticut papers. That's like saying that a homeowner facing foreclosure tries really hard to sell the home rather than have to give it up for no gain. I hope the Journal-Register isn't too disappointed about not getting a gold star for its efforts.

I started out at the Wethersfield Post more about 40 years ago, back when it was owned by Chris Larsen, a son of Roy E. Larsen, one of the founders of Time, Inc. Daddy bought Chris the papers that would later be called Imprint, Inc., including the Post, Town Crier, West Hartford News and a couple of other papers and a printing operation in Hamden. Unlike Journal-Register, Larsen didn't bite off more than he could chew, at least not then, and took at vicarious delight in the lives and loves of the veritable children he hired to run his papers.

It was a good time and I learned a lot, not from Larsen, but from colleagues and competitors. 

It's a shame when any newspapers go down. It's a boon to the cities of New Britain and Bristol and to the towns of Newington, Wethersfield and Rocky Hill. I hope they can get the backing of their advertisers and, especially, their readers.

The author of a comment on the Bristol Web version of the sale story said he'd now have to start buying the paper rather than get his news free from the Internet version. A lot of his friends and neighbors will have to, and should, do the same. These papers may not be great, but they are a great deal better than nothing.

Page 2

Just how dumb are the Bushies, who now have less than two weeks left in their jobs?

We reported before that they turned down the request of the new president to move into Blair House, across from the White House, so his kids can start school on time. He had to move into a hotel.

Now it come out for whom he was turned down. The former prime minister of Australia. It seems our soon-to-be-former president will be giving the presidential Medal of Freedom to the former Aussie leader for sticking with us on Iraq. So, the Aussie reserved Blair House for a day. Instead of sending this former official to the Hay-Adams Hotel for a day, the Bushies told the Barack Obama family there was no room at the manse. 

So, Obama moved into the Hay-Adams. Laura Bush said Blair House also had some other events on the calendar. Right. So, on Jan. 21, the Obamas will be moved into the White House, the Bush family will head out of town and these former Bushies who turned down the Obamas will be seeking new employment. If they have any sense at all, they'll be seeking such employment in other than Washington or the federal government. 

Page 3

It's amazing how much I agree with New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman these days. Read his column in today's Times. 

Before New Year's, I wrote a posting about the war in Gaza. Some of you wrote back, mostly expressing horror at the growing casualties and saying that peace was better than war. I agree, but not when you are being shot at. 

Look, I know I'm not going to get many of you to agree that Israel is right in going after Hamas tooth and nail. One of you suggested that I talk to Gazans. I have. I have been to Israel a number of times and have spoken with Palestinians and with Jews there. 

Most of them just want to make a living for their families, just as we do. The problem is this Hamas has been placed in charge of a large number of them. The Bush administration must answer for that. It mindlessly pushed for democratic elections when the outcome was clear to anyone who knew anything about the Middle East. So now, Hamas is in charge and the other Palestinian group, Fatah, is weak. 

How about a few tips in following the war. For example, when you see a gun-camera shot of a bomb hitting a building, watch for secondary explosions. That means there is ordinance in the building, which is probably why Israel was bombing it in the first place.

If the United Nations or the Red Cross complains about Israelis bombing their facilities, find out if Hamas people were shooting from there or if they had hidden ordinance there and why the U.N. or other group didn't complain to them. A clue: If they did complain, they wouldn't be around to ask. Also, ask about the lack of tooth-gnashing about suicide bombings in Iraq that killed hundreds just in the past few days.

Or better yet, ask your friends who have served in Vietnam or Bosnia or Iraq or Afghanistan how less dead you are if you're shot to blown up by a 14-year-old kid or an old woman with a gun or bomb.

William Tecumseh Sherman said it best: War is all hell. If you keep throwing rockets at Israel, it's going to come down on you like the wrath of God. And that's what's happening. In the last 60 years, civilians have suffered and died in Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Bosnia, Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Spain, Great Britain and the United States of America because of war or act of war. It's an incomplete list by half. 

In 2005, Israel left Gaza, hoping to prevent more casualties. The Gazan government, Hamas, reacted by tearing down much of the infrastructure left behind and throwing rockets and mortar shells at Israel. 

It's dangerous for the Gazans to get rid of Hamas. Some will be tortured and killed, It was dangerous for the Poles, Czechs, Yugoslavians, Baltic nations to get rid of the Soviets. Many died. But in the end, they won their freedom. The Gazans must do the same to the Hamas and their Iranian handlers.

Until next time...

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