Friday, July 25, 2008

Fantasyland Media

"As historians ponder George W. Bush’s disastrous presidency, they may wonder how Republicans perfected a propaganda system that could fool tens of millions of Americans, intimidate Democrats, and transform the vaunted Washington press corps from watchdogs to lapdogs.

To understand this extraordinary development, historians might want to look back at the 1980s and examine the Iran-Contra scandal’s “lost chapter,” a narrative describing how Ronald Reagan’s administration brought CIA tactics to bear domestically to reshape the way Americans perceived the world.

That chapter — which we are publishing here for the first time — was “lost” because Republicans on the congressional Iran-Contra investigation waged a rear-guard fight that traded elimination of the chapter’s key findings for the votes of three moderate GOP senators, giving the final report a patina of bipartisanship."

---> A "lost chapter" indicating CIA and private investment in feeding propaganda to the US people? Since the NY Times is tied up feeding propaganda about Iran to the public, it was too busy to cover this story.


"Civil Liberties Groups Sue for Info on Cell Phone Lojacking...The complaint brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation seeks to compel the release of “all records pertaining to [the government’s] policies, procedures and practices followed to obtain mobile phone location information for law enforcement purposes,” especially when that information is sought without a warrant...

Cell providers are required to be able to pinpoint a phone’s location under “Enhanced 911? rules originally intended to aid police and paramedics when a mobile user called 911."

--->So, are you being tracked by your cell phone? Without a search warrant? You would think that story would be interesting to readers of the NY Times. But many of the government's invasions of privacy are kept hidden by the country's media, including the NY Times, which didn't cover this Civil Liberties suit.


"In just the last month, a number of major newspapers have announced they are cutting their news staffs:

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will cut 1,300 full-time employees;
The Tampa Tribune is laying off 21 newsroom employees;
The Daytona Beach News-Journal, up for sale, will slash 99 positions; and
The Los Angeles Times will cut 250 jobs, including 150 newsroom employees. And, the paper said, it will "trim story length."

In all, more than 900 newspaper jobs slashed in just 30 days."

--->The NY Times reported a story about less news coverage, based on a survey of top editors at 259 newspapers. The story attributed the diminished coverage to financial pressures, but made no reference to the massive cuts in newsroom staff. Another NY Times story did mention 150 newsroom employees being cut from the LA Times.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Fantasyland Media

"GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba - The U.S. government is blocking the American Civil Liberties Union from paying attorneys representing suspected terrorists held here, insisting that the ACLU must first receive a license from the U.S. Treasury Department before making the payments.

ACLU director Anthony Romero on Tuesday accused the Bush administration of “obstruction of justice” by delaying approval of the license, which the government argues is required under U.S. law because the beneficiaries of the lawyers’ services are foreign terrorists.

“Now the government is stonewalling again by not allowing Americans’ private dollars to be paid to American lawyers to defend civil liberties,” Romero said.

--- >Although the NY Times has published stories about Guantanamo, this example of US attempting to subvert justice must have seemed to anti- American. The NY Times did not publish the story.

"Madlala-Routledge thinks that the struggle against the occupation is not succeeding (in the West Bank) because of U.S. support for Israel - not the case with apartheid, which international sanctions helped destroy. Here, the racist ideology is also reinforced by religion, which was not the case in South Africa. "Talk about the 'promised land' and the 'chosen people' adds a religious dimension to racism which we did not have."

Equally harsh are the remarks of the editor-in-chief of the Sunday Times of South Africa, Mondli Makhanya, 38. "When you observe from afar you know that things are bad, but you do not know how bad. Nothing can prepare you for the evil we have seen here. In a certain sense, it is worse, worse, worse than everything we endured. The level of the apartheid, the racism and the brutality are worse than the worst period of apartheid.

"The apartheid regime viewed the blacks as inferior; I do not think the Israelis see the Palestinians as human beings at all. How can a human brain engineer this total separation, the separate roads, the checkpoints? What we went through was terrible, terrible, terrible - and yet there is no comparison. Here it is more terrible. We also knew that it would end one day; here there is no end in sight. The end of the tunnel is blacker than black.

--- >The NY Times hardly prints any news critical of human rights abuses by Israel. A story like this would never get by the pro-Israeli censors. True to form, this visit to the West Bank by black South Africans was never covered.

"A US air strike killed 47 civilians, including 39 women and children, as they were traveling to a wedding in Afghanistan, an official inquiry found today. The bride was among the dead.

Another nine people were wounded in Sunday's attack, the head of the Afghan government investigation, Burhanullah Shinwari, said.

Fighter aircraft attacked a group of militants near the village of Kacu in the eastern Nuristan province, but one missile went off course and hit the wedding party, said the provincial police chief spokesman, Ghafor Khan.

"We found that 47 civilians, mostly women and children, were killed in the air strikes and another nine were wounded," said Shinwari, who is also the deputy speaker of Afghanistan's senate. "They were all civilians and had no links with the Taliban or al-Qaida."

--- >The NY Times covers this story slightly differently. Instead of the head of the Afghan government's investigation (and member of the Afghan senate) being quoted, it is "local officials." Maybe that is why the NY Times reported 27 civilians killed rather than 47.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fantasyland Media

In a new analysis released today comparing the conventional military capabilities of the United States and Iran, experts at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation conclude that the current threat posed by Iran is exaggerated by conflating it with Iran's potential, but far from certain, acquisition of a nuclear weapon in the future.

The United States will spend 99 times more on defense than Iran in the upcoming fiscal year. U.S. fighter aircraft outnumber Iranian aircraft 12.4 to 1, and American planes like the F-22 Raptor are far superior to aging Iranian aircraft.

“It is dangerous to allow speculation about what Iran might be able to do in the future to permeate debates about the threat posed by Iran today,” said Carah Ong, Iran Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Conflating future and present threats creates an artificial sense of urgency about what the United States must do to protect itself.”

--->Such rational talk, however, is missing from the NY Times. It didn't cover this story at all, although it published 58 stories in the last month about Iran and nuclear weapons.


In recent weeks we’ve again seen an escalation of US/Israeli threats to attack Iran. Among many other examples, the House of Representatives is currently considering a resolution promoted by AIPAC that would effectively demand a blockade against Iran. This resolution has over 200 co-sponsors (including our own supposedly antiwar Rep. Kirstin Gillibrand), although a surge of opposition has prevented it from being passed so far. The resolution is H. Con. Res. 362.

Here’s what those promoting military attacks and blockades on Iran don’t want Americans to know: there’s an offer on the table that could resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program and allow both sides to claim victory.

The former US Ambassador to the United Nations Thomas Pickering has made a case for talks with Iran without pre-conditions on multilateral uranium enrichment in Iran. It is even on Youtube.

--->But such stories don't sit well with the NY Times as this country eases into war with Iran. It didn't cover Pickering's statement. Nor has it covered House Res. 362 in the last month. The only "362" found in pages of the NY Times since early June is a story about a Mets and the Phillies game (the batting average of baseball player Damion Easley).


The highly regarded American journalist Seymour Hersh just confirmed that the U.S. Congress authorized a $400-million plan to overthrow Iran’s government and incite ethnic unrest. This column reported a year ago that U.S. and British special forces were operating in Iran, preparing for a massive air campaign. Israel’s destruction of an alleged Syrian reactor last fall was a warning to Iran.

This week a Pentagon official claimed an Israeli attack on Iran was coming before year end.

Other Pentagon and CIA sources say a U.S. attack on Iran is imminent, with or without Israel. The Bush administration is even considering using small tactical nuclear weapons against deeply buried Iranian targets. 2008/07/05/6077376-sun.php

--->The NY Times reports the story as "Mixed Reactions to Report on U.S. Moves Against Iran," although the only quotes used were those questioning Hersh's research and motives.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Fantasyland Media

This nation is grievously and knowingly failing the young men and women who wear the uniform of its military services, and nothing demonstrates that more powerfully than the suicides of soldiers. According to the Army’s own figures, the rate of suicide among active duty personnel nearly doubled between 2001 and 2006. The number then grew even higher in 2007, when suicide ranked third as the cause of death among members of the National Guard...

Veterans, too, are in trouble. In May, the head of the National Institute of Mental Health warned of “a gathering storm.” Thomas Insel told the American Psychiatric Association that one in five of the 1.6 million soldiers who have been deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan (or more than 300,000) suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome or depression. Potentially life-threatening mental disorders, including self-destructive behavior like addiction, raise the prospect, in Insel’s words, of “suicides and psychological mortality trumping combat deaths.”

Repeated deployments to war zones, combined with meager support upon returning home, are leaving many soldiers adrift. Each one who commits suicide, or attempts to (more than 2,000 last year), shows this...

---> This from the Boston Globe op-ed. Veteran suicide rates, however, get very little media coverage in the US. Bob Herbert referred to suicide rates in an op-ed column in the NY Times on June 24. Where are the news stories?


Not only did the four energy giants - BP, Exxon Mobil, Shell and Total - write their own contracts with the Iraqi government, an unheard-of practice: they have also reportedly secured rights of first refusal on the far more lucrative 30-year production contracts expected once a new US-sponsored oil law is passed, allowing a wholesale western takeover...

It's a similar story when it comes to the future of the US occupation itself. The last thing on anyone's mind, we were told when the tanks rolled in, was permanent US control, let alone the re-colonisation of Iraq... But five years on, George Bush and Dick Cheney are putting the screws on their Green Zone government to sign a secret deal for indefinite military occupation, which would effectively reduce Iraq to a long-term vassal state.

In April, I was leaked a draft copy of this "strategic framework agreement", intended to replace the existing UN mandate at the end of the year. Details of the document, which came from a source at the heart of the Iraqi government, were published in the Guardian - including indefinite authorisation for the US to "conduct military operations in Iraq and to detain individuals when necessary for imperative reasons of security". Since then, much more has emerged about the accompanying "status of forces agreement" the US administration wants to impose: including more than 50 US military bases, full control of Iraqi airspace, legal immunity for US military and private security firms, and the right to conduct armed operations throughout the country without consulting the Iraqi government.

---> Our new colony, Iraq? The US media keeps us in the dark about the workings of our own empire.


Cuba has approved what is believed to be the world's first registered lung cancer vaccine and is offering it to Cuban and foreign patients in its hospitals.

The therapeutic vaccine CimaVax EGF extends life with few side effects, and is another step in Cuba's expertise in biotechnology. It was unveiled on Monday at Havana's centre of molecular immunology.

It has been shown to boost survival rates by an average of four to five months, and in some cases much longer. It does not prevent lung cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, CimaVax EGF is said to have few side effects because it is a modified protein which attacks only cancer cells.

"It's the first such vaccine registered in the world," said Gisela González, who headed the project begun in 1992. The drug is in various clinical trials, some in Canada and Britain, and is expected to be approved next in Peru.

---> You would think a breakthrough in cancer would be a big news item in the US. Not with a media that does the government's bidding.


Wednesday, July 2 on WAMC/NPR

How great that NPR is finally reporting on the health coverage in other developed countries, something few Americans know about. Today's program was an excellent analysis of Germany's healthcare system that covers all citizens, even offers dental, and costs half of what we pay here.

The reason? To NPR, it is because German doctors are paid less! Not a word is spoken about the massive costs imposed by private insurance companies in this country. There was mention of higher "administrative" costs in the US, but no reference to why that might be.

What a wonderful exercise in pretending to talk about the healthcare crisis without exposing on the major cause of it. Sort of like describing the fall of Poland without mentioning the German Army. Just shoddy journalism? No, this is corporate controlled media.