Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Fantasyland Media

Time for some yellow journalism. Racist journalism, in fact.

The NY Times goes about as low as any tabloid in its reporting of Rev. Wright. In a front page story, the NY Times printed the following "news" story about Wright. Not an editorial, but a news story. But the NY Times simply doesn't know the difference.

On the front page we read that: Rev. Wright "wriggles out from under sound bites and screen-grab loops to put himself...on television." He spoke a "stemwinding brew of black history, Scripture, hallelujahs and hermeneutics." He was: "cocky, defiant, declamatory, inflammatory and mischievous, but most of all, he was all over the place..."

The NY Times goes on to describe Rev. Wright's "monomania" as that of a "slightly wacky uncle who unsettles strangers but really just craves attention" and "loves his own voice." Finally, on the front page, "he is the avatar of the American celebrity principle: he grabbed his 30-second spots of infamy and turned them into 15 minutes of fame."

Missing from the front page, of course, is anything that he said. Why would you need that in a news story? The NY Times has decided for you: he is just another ignorant black man acting foolish for the publicity.

Contrast this to the NY Times' effusive praise for Colin Powell when he lied at the UN about weapons of mass destruction. Clearly Rev. Wright needs to be put down for not following the correct script for black people in America.
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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Billions of aid dollars pledged to the Palestinians to bolster peace talks with Israel are having a muted economic impact because of Israeli restrictions on travel and trade, the World Bank said on Sunday.

The World Bank said modest gains in economic growth in the occupied West Bank, where Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas's government holds sway, were not sufficient to offset the "severe contraction" seen in Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Israel tightened its blockade of the Gaza Strip after the Islamist group's takeover in June from more secular Fatah forces loyal to Abbas. http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSL2616242520080427

Strong words about the Israeli blockade and its effect on the Palestinian people. But the story was not judged to be newsworthy by the NY Times, which routinely censors out stories critical of Israel.
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George W. Bush is poised to order a massive aerial bombardment — possibly including tactical nuclear weapons - of up to 10,000 targets in Iran. The attack would be justified on grounds that Iran is interfering with U.S. efforts in Iraq and that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, a charge that was debunked last fall in the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE).

The article goes on to support this thesis, including military changes (including the resignation of Admiral Fallon), accelerated orders for bunker-buster bombs and planes that carry them, and a report of an Israeli exercise simulating missile strikes from Iran, Lebanon, and Syria. The Union of Concerned Scientists has indicated that a “limited” nuclear attack on the main Iranian underground site in Esfahan would result in three million people killed by radiation within two weeks. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/25/8529/

The NY Times has done no analysis of administration plans to attack Iran. It did not carry the report of the Union of Concerned Scientists. What attack being planned? NY Times readers don't have to worry about such things.
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"We have to make clear to the Iraqis that they have been given the greatest gift that a human being can give another human being – the gift of freedom. And it is up to them to decide how they will use that precious gift that has been paid for with the blood and sacrifice and treasure of the United States of America."

That was Hillary Clinton on March 17. No national media took her to task for the utterly stupid and heartless suggestion that the people of Iraq, with a million dead and five million homeless should be thanking America. What next for Hillary, a thank you from Vietnam for the three million dead we left in that country? Until the US media exposes our politicians for the empire building rhetoric that is their stock in trade, the worldwide bloodshed will continue. And Hillary is one of the "peace" candidates we should all be so excited about.
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The UN is to halt food handouts for up to 800,000 Palestinians from today because of a severe fuel shortage in Gaza brought on by an Israeli economic blockade.

John Ging, the director of operations in Gaza for the UN Relief and Works Agency, which supports Palestinian refugees, said there had been a “totally inadequate” supply of fuel from Israel to Gaza for 10 months until it was finally halted two weeks ago. “The devastating humanitarian impact is entirely predictable,” he said.

A shortage of diesel and petrol means UN food assistance to 650,000 Palestinian refugees will stop today, and aid from the World Food Programme for another 127,000 Palestinians due in the coming days will also be halted. “The collective punishment of the population of Gaza, which has been instituted for months now, has failed,” said Robert Serry, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East. http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/23/8490/

Such UN quotes never made it into the NY Times. "Collective punishment" has not been used by the NY Times in at least two months.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

FANTASY LAND: US Media

KABUL - The Afghan government plans to investigate whether the United States used depleted uranium during its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and if it might be linked to malformed babies born afterwards.

Parts of Afghanistan, particularly the mountainous region of Tora Bora in the east — the suspected hideout of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden — came under heavy U.S. bombing in late 2001 when the Taliban regime was ousted. Depleted uranium is a heavy metal used in some weapons that can pierce armour. It has small levels of radioactivity associated with it.

Cases of malformed babies delivered in the heavily bombed Afghan areas have come to light, Faizullah Kakar, Afghan deputy public health minister for technical affairs said on Saturday, citing an unnamed U.S. expert.
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/20/8401/

Depleted uranium? NY Times readers just don’t know what that even is. The one serious story the NY Times printed about it in the last four years was a letter to the editor (June, 2006).

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Carter calls Gaza blockade a crime and atrocity

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter called the blockade of Gaza a crime and an atrocity on Thursday and said U.S. attempts to undermine the Islamist movement Hamas had been counterproductive.

Speaking at the American University in Cairo after talks with Hamas leaders from Gaza, Carter said Palestinians in Gaza were being "starved to death," receiving fewer calories a day than people in the poorest parts of Africa.

"It's an atrocity what is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. it's a crime... I think it is an abomination that this continues to go on," Carter said.

Israel has been blockading Gaza most of the time since Hamas took control of the impoverished coastal strip in June last year, allowing only basic supplies to enter.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080417/pl_nm/palestinians_carter_dc

That was Reuters. The NY Times buried Carter’s quote towards the end of a long article entitled: “Palestinian Official Says Talks With Israelis Yield Little.” The story left out any reference to “crime,” and failed to describe the the cause of all that suffering. Israeli blockade of Gaza? What blockade?

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Exposed: The Great GM Crops Myth

Genetic modification actually cuts the productivity of crops, an authoritative new study shows, undermining repeated claims that a switch to the controversial technology is needed to solve the growing world food crisis.

The study - carried out over the past three years at the University of Kansas in the US grain belt - has found that GM soya produces about 10 per cent less food than its conventional equivalent, contradicting assertions by advocates of the technology that it increases yields.

The new study confirms earlier research at the University of Nebraska, which found that another Monsanto GM soya produced 6 per cent less than its closest conventional relative, and 11 per cent less than the best non-GM soya available.
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/20/8405/

Genetically modified food a giant industry scam? Not to readers of the NY Times. The story never made it into print, although the fact that Monsanto’s earnings more than doubled appeared in the business section. In fact, the NY Times has often championed the potential of GM foods, especially in its supposedly unbiased Science Section. One might think the newspaper would at least print irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

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Pentagon Institute Calls Iraq War ‘a Major Debacle’ with Outcome ‘in Doubt’

WASHINGTON - The war in Iraq has become “a major debacle” and the outcome “is in doubt” despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon’s premier military educational institute.

The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush’s projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.

The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/18/8368/

For the NY Times, there is no “major debacle” as long as the story doesn’t get printed. Omissions like this are not made by mistake. The NY Times often leaves out stories critical of the Iraq occupation, no matter how well documented.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FANTASY LAND: US Media

Bloodiest Week This Year For US Troops Ends With Bombing

BAGHDAD - A roadside bomb killed an American soldier in Baghdad yesterday, capping the bloodiest week for US troops in Iraq this year. Clashes persisted in Shi’ite areas, even as the biggest Shi’ite militia sought to rein in its fighters.

At least 13 Shi’ite militants were killed in the latest clashes in Baghdad’s militia stronghold of Sadr City, the US military said. Iraqi police said seven civilians also died in fighting, which erupted Friday night and tapered off yesterday.

Bloodiest Week?...not to the NY Times. The NY Times never mentioned this surge in American troop deaths, although last week they had a nice article entitled: "Counting Wall Street’s Casualties." What's more important anyway?
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/13/8264/

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The NY Times has finally responded to the criticism that it didn't cover the Winter Soldier's Testimony in DC last month.

Why hadn't it? Turns out the newspaper didn't know! All the rest of the world knew. I was there and there were at least thirty major news sources covering the event. Somebody forgot to tell the NY Times!

New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt didn't stop there, of course. If the NY Times had known, they just didn't have the reporters in DC to send: "one is on book leave, one was traveling with the secretary of defense, and one was in Iraq covering the war."

"News organizations like the Times, with its own substantial investment in independent reporting from Iraq tend to prefer their own on-scene accounts of the war, rather than relying on charges and counter-charges at home by organizations with strongly held political viewpoints about the war."

No, the NY Times likes their embedded reporters and Pentagon sources so much better than Iraq War vets who might tell things upsetting to readers. And the NY Times did cover a vet's group in DC that week: the Vets for Freedom, a tiny group supporting the war. Anyone still thinking the NY Times is against the Iraq occupation should think again. The NY Times has been a cheerleader for this war from the beginning.

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Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups.

A private security company organized and managed by former Secret Service officers spied on Greenpeace and other environmental organizations from the late 1990s through at least 2000, pilfering documents from trash bins, attempting to plant undercover operatives within groups, casing offices, collecting phone records of activists, and penetrating confidential meetings.

Private firms spying for the US Government? What is this, "Big Brother" privatized? Don't worry about this report; the NY Times didn't bother covering it.
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/11/8217/

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The NY Times has called attention to one humanitarian disaster, the "genocide in Darur." Of course, like most US media, the NY Times has blamed it all on one group (bad Arabs), and pushed military solutions over other remedies. Could it be all that oil in Sudan, which is never included as part of the story?

Turns out, all that hand wringing for another US military adventure may be based on lies: In 2007, Doctors Without Borders, which has been on the ground in Darfur since 2003, stated, "Today, it is totally incorrect to speak of large-scale massacres, of genocide, of famine and of large epidemics in Darfur." A recent report by FAIR bears this out. Most of the stories are gross exaggerations and based on happenings before 2004.

When the establishment in the US, including the NY Times calls for "humanitarian intervention," you know something is being cooked up in the Pentagon. And Nicholas Kristof's role in promoting American military intervention must be seen for what it is, pure propaganda - something he is very good at.
http://www.fair.org/index.php?page=3259

Thursday, April 10, 2008

FANTASY LAND: US Media

The NY Times gets some credit for their story on the newly disclosed Justice Department legal memorandum, written in March 2003, that authorized the military’s use of extremely harsh interrogation techniques by American troops at the Abu Ghraib, Guant├ínamo Bay, and elsewhere. But let's take a quick look at what the NY Times left out:

"The brief, provided to the Pentagon days before the invasion of Iraq, allowed slapping, poking and shoving without legal consequences. Maiming a detainee, defined as disabling or cutting out the nose, eye, ear, lip, tongue, or limb, was deemed a defensible interrogation tactic if the military could prove it had no advance intention to maim."

"The 9/11 attacks allowed the military and White House to invoke a broad right to self-defence, the brief argued. 'The defendant could claim he was fulfilling the executive branch's authority to protect the federal government and the nation from attack after the events of September 11, which triggered the nation's right to self-defense,' read the brief, written by former Bush administration lawyer John Yoo."

"Referring to Bush as 'the sovereign,' Yoo gave him the right to override laws 'at his discretion'."

The Guardian newspaper in the UK told the unvarnished story. The NY Times left out the parts that made the US and the Bush Administration look bad. Media as propaganda in the US.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/apr/03/usa

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In the past two weeks, the following events transpired. A Department of Justice memo, authored by John Yoo, was released which authorized torture and presidential lawbreaking. It was revealed that the Bush administration declared the Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights to be inapplicable to “domestic military operations” within the U.S. The U.S. Attorney General appears to have fabricated a key event leading to the 9/11 attacks and made patently false statements about surveillance laws and related lawsuits. Barack Obama went bowling in Pennsylvania and had a low score.

Here are the number of times, according to NEXIS, that various topics have been mentioned in the media over the past thirty days:

“Yoo and torture” - 102
“Yoo and Fourth Amendment” — 16
“Obama and bowling” — 1,043
“Obama and Wright” — More than 3,000 (too many to be counted)
“Obama and patriotism” - 1,607
“Clinton and Lewinsky” — 1,079

Published on Salon.com
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/05/8103/

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Joshua Holland just wrote the piece "Obama and Hillary Spin a 'Big Lie' About Iraq," which states: "On the campaign trail, the two candidates often speak of bringing the troops home and ending the war, and Democratic primary voters, 80 percent of whom want U.S. troops out of Iraq within 12 months, reward them with boisterous applause. ... Both Clinton and Obama have been very clear -- in the fine print -- about the fact that they will leave a significant number of 'residual forces' in Iraq, albeit with a more limited mission than the Bush administration has pursued."

Holland told the Institute for Public Accuracy today: "For example, Obama has played this trick of calling for the removal of all 'combat troops' in 16 months; what the campaign doesn't highlight is that it plans to leave 'non-combat troops,' but the idea of 'non-combat' troops in Iraq makes no sense. Also, the campaign is backing off of the 16 months pledge: 'Obama Advisor: 60,000 Troops Should Stay In Iraq Through 2010.'"

Why are the American people being fed the myth about how Democrats will end the war? The establishment elites in this country have no intention of ending the Iraq occupation. It is too profitable. And ending it would be to admit it was wrong in the first place. Mainstream media plays its part by obscuring how Democrats will continue the war, and possibly escalate it into Iran and Pakistan.

Published by the Institute of Public Accuracy
http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0407-14.htm

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New research by the Indiana University School of Medicine shows that 59 percent of doctors support legislation to establish a national health insurance system, up from 49 percent in 2002. Only 32 percent of doctors said they were opposed.

The NY Times ran a story last week about an Indiana University School of Medicine study. It was about escalator injuries among the elderly. The universal healthcare story didn't make it.

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/20080402_doctors_and_patients_agree/

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

FANTASY LAND: US Media

Since the Iraq War began, aerospace and defense industry stocks have more than doubled.

General Dynamics did even better than that. Its stock has tripled. Banking on its Abrams tanks and Stryker troop transports, General Dynamics gobbled up $2.35 billion “in war revenue last year,” according to Bloomberg News.

“The war has been a huge benefit to almost all contractors,” William Hartung of the New America Foundation told Bloomberg.

War profiteering is not news, I suppose. But it is disgusting. And those who are profiting from the war are Bush and Cheney’s cronies in the corporate boardrooms. For them, war is not a bloody tragedy, it’s a golden opportunity. Bush’s “base” is doing just fine.

The NY Times will run articles about individuals who have suffered because of the war. US soldiers and families, not Iraqis. But there are no stories about corporate profit making from the war. Not from the corporate voice of America, the NY Times. This report from the New America Foundation didn't make it.

http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/03/30/7975/ (originally in the Progressive)
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WASHINGTON, DC - March 28 - Think tank citations in the media are dropping, but right and center still predominate, according to a new study by FAIR.

The annual study, which FAIR has conducted since 1995, counts citations of the 25 most prominent think tanks of right, center and left, using the Nexis database. Citations for the 2008 study were counted in what Nexis designates to be major U.S. newspapers, as well as in transcripts of the broadcast networks ABC, CBS and NBC; the cable channels Fox News, CNN, MSNBC and CNBC; and publicly funded PBS and NPR.

Among the findings for 2007: The ideological breakdown was exactly the same in 2007 as it had been the previous year: Centrist think tanks garnered 47 percent of think tank citations, conservative think-tanks garnered 37 percent and progressive think-tanks received 16 percent.

Media overloaded with center and right opinion? Opinion paid for by corporate money poured into right wing think tanks? Doesn't concern the NY Times which neglected to print FAIR's report.

http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0328-04.htm
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Here's how NPR anchor Scott Simon introduced a segment on March 15 in which senators James Webb and Jon Kyl talked about "what the war has meant and what the future might hold":
"This coming Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. So far 3,975 U.S. service men and women have died. Estimates on the number of Iraqis killed range from 47,000 to 151,000, depending on the source."

If NPR is taking its lower estimate of Iraqi fatalities from the New England Journal of Medicine report, why does it ignore the higher estimate given in that same report of 601,000? That's the estimate made by the Johns Hopkins University school of public health, and published by the Lancet medical journal (10/11/06). It's a well-known study done by highly regarded scholars.

It's worth noting that 601,000 figure from Johns Hopkins study and the 151,000 number from WHO both only go up to June 2006, and therefore also leave out the worst of the violence. The most recent survey of Iraqi deaths is the poll conducted by Opinion Research Business, a top British polling firm, in August 2007, which found an estimated 1.2 million deaths by violence among Iraqi households. If NPR really wanted to inform its listeners about the range of credible estimates of Iraqi deaths, it would have included this survey--but instead left them with the impression that the highest plausible estimate was one-eighth as high.

http://www.commondreams.org/news2008/0327-01.htm Published by FAIR
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The NY Times gets failing grades on its reporting on Venezuela. This week we get a report of Venezuela arming Columbian rebels. But the story just didn't make it in the rest of the world. Why? Maybe because the sources were so poor. More Pentagon placements? The US in determined to paint Venezuela as a terrorist state, and the NY Times does its best to play along:

"Though it was impossible to authenticate the files independently, the Colombian officials said their government had invited Interpol to verify the files. The officials did not want to be identified while any Interpol inquiry was under way." Files supplied by the Colombian government. No authentication yet. Some reporting.