Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fantasyland Media

According to data compiled by Andrew Tyndall, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007. The “CBS Evening News” has devoted the fewest minutes to Iraq, 51, versus 55 minutes on ABC’s “World News” and 74 minutes on “NBC Nightly News.” (The average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.)

CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq, where some 150,000 United States troops are deployed.

Journalists at all three American television networks with evening newscasts expressed worries that their news organizations would withdraw from the Iraqi capital after the November presidential election. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity in order to avoid offending their employers.

--->This was a story from the NY Times, which does not hesitate to criticize TV news coverage. For the average person in the United States, the war has just gone away. Except for the patriotic advertising from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and the Army Advantage Fund. Why have the news any different than the advertising anyway?


The UN children's fund UNICEF has severed ties with an Israeli billionaire and financial backer due to his suspected involvement in building settlements in the West Bank, UNICEF said on Friday.

Lev Leviev, a real estate and diamond mogul who is one of the richest men in Israel, has supported UNICEF with direct contributions and indirectly by sponsoring at least one UNICEF fund-raiser.

UNICEF decided to review its relationship with Leviev after a campaign ... found "at least a reasonable grounds for suspecting" that Leviev companies were building settlements in Palestinian territory, a UNICEF official said.

--->The NY Times publishes only positive stories about Lev Leviev, an important diamond merchant and real estate developer in New York. It didn't cover this story, although the Israeli paper, Haaretz did.


WASHINGTON - A Cambridge-based human rights organization said it has found medical evidence supporting the claims of 11 former detainees who were allegedly tortured while in American custody between 2001 and 2004, in what a former top US military investigator said amounts to evidence of war crimes.

Medical evaluations of the former inmates found injuries consistent with the alleged abuse, including the psychological effects of sensory deprivation and forced nudity as well as signs of “severe physical and sexual assault,” Physicians for Human Rights said in a report scheduled for release today.

The report also alleges that in four of the cases, American health professionals appeared to have been complicit by denying the detainees medical care and observing the abuse but making no effort to stop it - charges that, if true, represent gross violations of medical ethics.

--->Few media outlets in this country covered this story. The NY Times didn't, although the Boston Globe did. Perhaps the story is too anti-American for the general public to read.


A Senate investigation has concluded that top Pentagon officials began assembling lists of harsh interrogation techniques in the summer of 2002 for use on detainees at Guantanamo Bay and that those officials later cited memos from field commanders to suggest that the proposals originated far down the chain of command, according to congressional sources briefed on the findings.

The sources said that memos and other evidence obtained during the inquiry show that officials in the office of then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld started to research the use of waterboarding, stress positions, sensory deprivation and other practices in July 2002, months before memos from commanders at the detention facility in Cuba requested permission to use those measures on suspected terrorists.

--->The NY Times prefers a lighter touch on such stories. Instead of accusing the Pentagon of torture, the Times presents them as unsure of the right direction. The NY Times story is entitled: "Notes Show Confusion on Interrogation Methods."


--->The NY Times gets this week's award for the most effective propaganda images. In a recent story about the truce between Israel and Hamas, there are two pictures, one for each side. The Palestinians are in black hoods carrying rocket launchers. And the Israeli soldiers? They are playing volleyball. Masterful pro-Israeli propaganda. Something Isabel Kershner, the NY Times reporter with Zionist ties, is very good at.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Fantasyland Media

Last weekend’s National Conference on Media Reform in Minneapolis was a freewheeling, articulate, committed gathering of activists, policy wonks and everyday citizens dedicated to the idea that there can be no real democracy without a media democracy — independent reporting from diverse communities free of the interference and spin of government and big business...

Some 3500 assembled to participate in panels and hear a range of speakers that included my colleague Bill Moyers, Senator Byron Dorgan, Center for Internet and Society founder Lawrence Lessig, Naomi Klein, Louise Erdrich and Dan Rather. Participants grappled with mobilizing grass roots movements around such hot button issues as continuing, big media consolidation and net neutrality — two words perhaps more elegantly phrased as “Internet freedom” keeping cyberspace open and accessible to all, regardless of income.

--->That story is from Common Dreams. The major sources of US media didn't even cover this story of emerging media reform in America. There was nothing on it in the NY Times.


Former Democratic presidential contender, Dennis Kucinich, has called for the impeachment of George W Bush claiming that the president set out to deceive the nation, and violated his oath of office with the Iraq war.

The Ohio representative yesterday introduced 35 articles of impeachment against Bush on the floor of the US House of Representatives. Kucinich unveiled a list of alleged illegal and improper acts by Bush, including war crimes.
He accused Bush of executing a "calculated and wide-ranging strategy" to deceive citizens and Congress into believing that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States.

He went on to say that Bush and Cheney lied to Congress and the American public about the reasons for invading Iraq in 2003 and abused their offices in order to conduct the "War on Terror" following the 9/11 attacks.

--->The NY Times, like most of the Democratic Party, remains uninterested in impeachment. America's newspaper of record didn't cover this story, although it gave wide coverage to Bill Clinton's impeachment for conducting a sex act in the White House. That was sex. This is the preservation of our Constitution, just not as important a story.


FALLUJAH - Babies born in Fallujah are showing illnesses and deformities on a scale never seen before, doctors and residents say.

The new cases, and the number of deaths among children, have risen after “special weaponry” was used in the two massive bombing campaigns in Fallujah in 2004.

After denying it at first, the Pentagon admitted in November 2005 that white phosphorous, a restricted incendiary weapon, was used a year earlier in Fallujah.

In addition, depleted uranium (DU) munitions, which contain low-level radioactive waste, were used heavily in Fallujah. The Pentagon admits to having used 1,200 tonnes of DU in Iraq thus far.

Many doctors believe DU to be the cause of a severe increase in the incidence of cancer in Iraq, as well as among U.S. veterans who served in the 1991 Gulf War and through the current occupation.

--->The NY Times has had one piece on depleted uranium in Iraq since 2005, and that was in a letter to the editor. With determined investigative reporting like that, who needs media reform?


By now, billions have evidently gone into single massive mega-bases like the U.S. air base at Balad, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. It's a "16-square-mile fortress," housing perhaps 40,000 U.S. troops, contractors, special ops types, and Defense Department employees. As the Washington Post's Tom Ricks, who visited Balad back in 2006, pointed out - in a rare piece on one of our mega-bases - it's essentially "a small American town smack in the middle of the most hostile part of Iraq." Back then, air traffic at the base was already being compared to Chicago's O'Hare International or London's Heathrow - and keep in mind that Balad has been steadily upgraded ever since to support an "air surge" that, unlike the President's 2007 "surge" of 30,000 ground troops, has yet to end.

--->The American permanent occupation of Iraq is the big story that always gets left out of our media. Occupation is the forbidden subject, be it in Gaza, the West Bank or Iraq. There is no freedom of the press in America when it comes to reporting on the empire.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Fantasyland Media

Desmond Tutu, the South African Nobel laureate, called for an end to the "abominable" Israeli blockade of Gaza yesterday and condemned a "culture of impunity" on both sides of the conflict.

Tutu was in Gaza on a three-day mission, sent by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the deaths of 18 Palestinians from a single family, who were killed by a wave of Israeli artillery shells in Beit Hanoun in November 2006. Tutu said he was in a "state of shock" after seeing Gaza and taking detailed witness testimony from survivors of the incident.

"We saw a forlorn, deserted, desolate and eerie place," he said. "The entire situation is abominable. We believe that ordinary Israeli citizens would not support this blockade, this siege, if they knew what it really meant to ordinary people like themselves." The international community was also at fault, he said, for its "silence and complicity".

-This story from The Guardian. The NY Times, of course, is part of of the silence and complicity. It didn't carry this story at all, although other statements by Desmond Tutu about violence in South Africa were covered.


FORMER US president Jimmy Carter today claimed Europe should be "embarrassed" by the way it had allowed Israel to treat Palestine. Mr Carter used a visit to Wales to spell out how he thinks Britain can help bring peace to the Middle East.

Speaking on a visit to the Hay Festival, the Democrat, who led Americans from 1977 to 1981, said: “They should be encouraging the formation of a unity government that includes (Palestinian political parties) Hamas and Fatah.

“They should be encouraging Hamas to have a ceasefire in Gaza alone as a first step, with Israel as it has announced in the past it wanted to.”

He added: "It's a horrible punishment of them and to see Europe go along with this, I think is embarrassing. It should be embarrassing. There's no reason to treat people this way."

-This story is from IC Wales in the UK. Carter's statements about Gaza are completely ignored by the NY Times. Two references to Carter were made recently in the NY Times, but both refer to the history of Camp David. The Israeli lobby works hand in hand with America's premier newspaper, making sure you don't hear about Israel's mistreatment of Palestinians.


GENEVA - As the 61st annual World Health Assembly gathers in Geneva this week, a major issue that the world’s governments are struggling with is patents on medicines, and whether the option to digress from a strict patent system should be endorsed by the United Nations World Health Organisation (WHO).

The United States is the sole country obstructing the ability of the WHO to push for a more flexible intellectual property system, according to several sources. This issue is being negotiated at the WHO’s Intergovernmental Working Group on Public Health, Innovation and Intellectual Property (IGWG).

According to the WHO’s website, “developing countries remain largely excluded from the benefits of modern science.” IGWG’s mandate is “to prepare a global strategy and plan of action on essential health research to address conditions affecting developing countries disproportionately.”

-The NY Times, a staunch defender of US pharmaceutical companies, didn't carry this story.


This week the Guardian broke the news that an upcoming report from Reprieve (human rights organization) documents the use of as many as 17 American warships as floating prisons to hold detainees in the “war on terror”. The report apparently documents not only descriptions of detentions at sea from released Guantánamo detainees, most of whom presumably were held in the early days of the “war on terror”, but also more recent detentions on US warships, particularly in the Horn of Africa, a current hot spot for disappearances carried out by the US military and intelligence agencies.

The report also claims that in the last two years there have been several hundred renditions — another practice thought to have ceased after President Bush declared an end to it in 2006.

-When this story finally breaks in the US, it will not be because of the NY Times, which has refused to run this story.