- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008

Grudging coverage

“Marking the fifth anniversary of the war in Iraq, ABC’s ‘World News’ on Monday provided a status check on how Iraqis view their lives and, consistent with how the newscast has been the most willing of the broadcast network evening shows to acknowledge positive developments, anchor Charles Gibson explained, ‘We have polled inside Iraq and there is some good news.’ Specifically, ‘today, 55 percent of Iraqis say their lives are going well. Last summer that number was 39 percent.’

“From Iraq, Terry McCarthy reported, ‘You cannot say that life is good in Iraq today. Not yet. Only that life is less bad.’ However, McCarthy outlined:

“ ’As our poll takers spread across the country, they found that for the first time in three years people were more worried about economic and social problems than violence. And almost half think their country will be better off in a year — double the number six months ago. In Dora, in southern Baghdad, we found these kids playing on the street. A year ago, they would haven’t dared to come outside.’ ”

Brent Baker, writing on “ABC Finds Optimistic Iraqis and Kids Playing Safely on the Street,” Monday at Newsbusters.com

Defining life

“Colorado’s most conservative lawmakers signed petitions Monday supporting the Colorado Human Life Amendment to the state constitution. The group Colorado for Equal Rights needs 76,000 signatures by May 13. Kristi Burton, a spokesperson for the group, estimated they have gathered about 40,000 signatures and thinks they will meet the required number to put the issue on the November ballot.

“The amendment would define life as beginning at the time a woman’s egg is fertilized. It doesn’t specifically mention abortion, but many think the new definition would lead to legislation to try to outlaw abortions in Colorado or build a test case that could be taken to the Supreme Court.

“Cal Zestro spends almost every day gathering signatures or working the phones to try and build support for the petition drive.

“He said, ‘I think the law should protect everybody.’

“A public vote is a way to get around the legislature, which has historically protected abortion rights and contraceptive choices. A similar amendment is being proposed in Montana. Proponents have tried but failed to pass ‘personhood laws’ in Georgia, Mississippi and Michigan.”

Steve Saunders, reporting Monday for KMGH, the ABC News affiliate in Denver

A biting criticism

“In ‘John Adams,’ HBO’s seven-part miniseries about America’s second president, the producers have rendered each scene with as much historical accuracy as time and money will allow. … Except for one wee oversight.

“Teeth. All of the actors have glorious 21[st]-century show-biz teeth.

“This problem, of course, is a familiar one: All of Hollywood has significant unresolved dental issues. Famous actors are eager to embrace all manner of abuse. They gain weight, they lose weight, they smoke cigarettes, they sport awful hairdos or shave their heads. And yet on TV and in the movies, an actor must never be asked to traverse the Dental Curtain: The pearly whites must never be scuffed or dented. Hollywood’s systematic denial of dental reality is an example of its elevation of glamour over truth, thrill over drab.

“Perhaps, though, something more is at play in ‘John Adams.’ Maybe the faux dental presentation is a deliberate extension of the patriotism implicit in the miniseries. In the 21[st] century, even as the United States’ status as a world power is wobbling and our cultural and moral authority erodes, we can still be proud of our dental heritage.”

Kent Sepkowitz, writing on “For Teeth and for Country,” Monday at Slate.com

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