Saturday, September 30, 2006
This seemed a really strange thing to say. First, I am really sick of hearing about "the Greatest Generation." I always wonder are we talking about the Jim Crow loving bigots who also fought in WWII -- or people like George H. Bush and Bob Dole who never met a Central American torture regime they didn't like. Howard Zinn, a WWII veteran, also has problems with "the Greatest Generation" apellation. And then ending his report with his sensitive, serious "patriots loyal to America." Sounds like a warning to those who are disgusted with the direction our current US government is taking.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
Golly, and I thought that family incomes were dropping, health care and college costs were outstripping wage increases, and the income gap between rich and poor was fast increasing. It's also odd that I somehow connected US intervention against countries like Nicaragua and Haiti with low-wage impoverished workers abroad. Silly me, I'd better quit thinking so much and get to work--I wouldn't want to be unproductive!
- "Democrats aim to make the Iraq war a major issue in the midterm elections."
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
- "...the new version doesn’t just steer it takes control of the whole tractor...."
- "...we're just a few years away from the next big breakthough: fully automatic tractors that plant and fertilize and pick crops without a farmer anywhere in sight!"
- "and that’s not all: there are new machines like smarter seed planters and bigger combines; there's the latest yield management software and new paint polymers to spray on storage containers; there are even animal breeders touting cows bred for better tasting meat or horses bred to be calmer."
- "...overall technology has really paid off -- at least for the farmers who are still in business."
- "Once your neighbors start using something new and become more productive, more efficient, you have to get it too, or else you won’t be competitive, and you’ll probably loose your farm."
That NPR can pass off such sloppy pro-corporatist work and still be considered liberal/left by so many people is really quite an accomplishment.
Monday, September 25, 2006
How convenient to blame the Iraqi Government that exists only in the Green Zone and has no real armed forces at its disposal. How helpful not to blame the lies and arrogance of Bush and Co., nor the Bush/Rumsfeld ordered destruction of Fallujah, nor the US military's 1991 attacks on Iraq's infrastructure, nor on the meat-fisted pushing through of the Iraqi Constitution for Bush's political advantages, nor on the devastation of the sanctions over the decade of the 90's.
Juan Cole had an excellent post (9/20/06) exposing the ludicrousness of blaming Maliki or the Iraqi Government. Be sure to see his link to this Iraq Study Group.
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Mary Louise Kelly describes the report's dismal findings and Debbie Elliott responds by saying, "Now is the main thrust of this report anything very new; you know we have heard reports before that Iraq is a breeding ground and motivation for terrorists?"
To which Kelly answers, "Right, that point has been made in a number of reports and in terms of the link between Iraq and the war on terror that is hotly debated...."
Here's a newsflash for NPR. "That point" may have been made in a number of other venues (CBS, Washington Post, NYT, and CSM for example) but not on NPR. Search their site or Google NPR and you'll find very little on this score--although you will find one story where those making the connection between the London bombings and the Iraq War were called extremists.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Incredible! What people who've actually conducted interrogations--let's name them! Frailty in the system? It is clear that Simon is implying that only if torture is a real and practiced threat will interrogations be effective.
Earlier, in the show Ari Shapiro, reporting on the proposed detainee legislation "compromise," states, "...so you’ve got this definition after definition after defintion after definition and when you get down to the very bottom there’s still this question remaining whether waterboarding, stress positions, hypothermia and so on are permitted, and some legal experts are saying 'Yes, in fact I think they are permitted under this legislation.'" To which Simon responds,
"This is something local police forces, uh, it must be said I don't know about waterboarding at local police forces, but they deal with this all the time, and that it's considered to be all right to deceive someone you're interrogating because that's transitory mental harm arguably, but not leave long term damage."
This incoherent non-sequitor is truly surreal. Local police forces? Comparing misleading a suspect in questioning [e.g. stating that a co-conspirator has confessed or that one has damning evidence] to near-drownings of detainees. I thought Shapiro might ask Scott what he had been smoking, but instead he responds, "that's right and because the argument goes, waterboarding only creates mental harm for a short period of time and it doesn't create long lasting harms for years and years to come, some legal experts are saying it might actually be allowed under this legislation."
This kind of soft-pedaling of the assault on the rule of law and on the integrity of human beings is really grotesque. For readers who want to explore the complications and problems with current detainee abuse policy I highly recommend this piece by Jane Mayer from the February 14, 2005 New Yorker. It is a bit long but really informative. If you don't have time to read it, at least consider the following excerpt from the article:
- "Dr. Allen Keller, the director of the Bellevue/N.Y.U. Program for Survivors of Torture, told me that he had treated a number of people who had been subjected to such forms of near-asphyxiation, and he argued that it was indeed torture. Some victims were still traumatized years later, he said. One patient couldn't take showers, and panicked when it rained. 'The fear of being killed is a terrifying experience,' he said."
Friday, September 22, 2006
If you listened to this report you'd assume that Gazans are as responsible for their misery as the ruthless Israeli policy toward Gaza--a sad distortion of the situation. For better reporting on Gaza you should take a look at some of the following: The Guardian, Electronic Intifada, the International Solidarity Movement, and this piece from Agence Global which looks at how the election of Hamas could have been handled if the US and Israel were interested in peace.
That's all we get. No explanation as to where that delusional thinking might be coming from. That's interesting because I too have some similar delusions--probably from reading these hallucinations that seem so real I've hyperlinked them for you here: USA Today, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, The Guardian, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
As an important footnote, NPR might occasionally read from the actual Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in order to inform listeners that the US is clearly out of compliance with Article IV which states:
"Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control."And in helping to cover up Israel's nuclear arsenal, the US is in complete violation of Article I which states:
"Each nuclear-weapon State Party to the Treaty undertakes not to....and not in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, or control over such weapons or explosive devices."
In a report on Thursday's ATC, Robert Siegel talks with Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relation, about a recent Q & A session with President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Referring to Ahmadinejad (and not that other guy!) Haas states:
- "...whenever you deal with a leader who's confident it's something of a mixed blessing: confidence can be good because it gives leaders the ability to make compromises if they so want – but confidence that spills over into cockiness can be dangerous because history is filled with examples of leaders who are cocky and as a result often overreached and that can trigger, shall we say, international crises or worse."
Yes, I'd definitely say worse!
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Where to begin unpacking NPR's unprofessional and biased reporting on speeches at the UN's General Assembly? First, I have to say that I wasn't impressed with Chavez' speech ; I think his repeatedly calling Bush a "devil" undermined the seriousness of his allegation that the US is an imperialist state that endangers the world. Also, I am no fan of Iran's narrow-minded President Ahmadinejad--but to use these two men to belittle the speech of Bolivian President Evo Morales and Noam Chomsky's rigorous critiques of US foreign policy is unacceptable.
Consider Michele Kelemen's remarks in her report:
- "[Chavez] took center stage…to call on nations to rise up against what he called America’s hegemony....Chavez even had some recommended reading for his colleagues, Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival: America s Quest for Global Dominance." She then mentions Pres. Ahmadinejad's speech yesterday and concludes with this description of Pres. Morales, "there was another bit of diplomatic showmanship last night by Bolivia’s new president Evo Morales, an ally of Chavez...[who] challenged US drug policy in the Andes, calling it a form of neocolonization....he seemed at ease making his UN debut reading off some notes scribbled on what looked to be the back of an envelope; the leftist leader talked about his indigenous roots and what he called the pillaging of natural resources in his country.
- Hugo Chavez' speech before the Gen Assembly was truly remarkable – one that startled both for its use of props: the Noam Chomsky book that President Chavez held up before the delegates....Chavez also railed against President Bush, the 'world tyrant' in his words, for trying to consolidate the United States' hegemonistic domination....by the way I spoke today with one of Noam Chomsky's publishers, Metropolitan Books, Sarah Bershtel there says she agrees with Hugo Chavez, she says everyone should read Chomsky’s book, Hegemony or Survival.
Imagine a speech by Bush getting such a send up on NPR. You'll have to be content with your imagination, because on NPR his speeches are covered with great seriousness--never treated with such derision--regardless of how filled with lies and nonsense they may be (e.g FactCheck or Common Dreams ).
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Monday, September 18, 2006
Her laughing and smug tone seem grossly inappropriate, even if one believes in what Bush wants to do. She is reporting on our government making it official policy that people can be detained and held incommunicado indefinitely (at the whim of the president)! Just writing these words gives me the creeps.
Roberts closes her insulting and stupid piece by talking about an upcoming meeting between Laura Bush and Bill Clinton by saying, "so [it's] possible Steve, even though we see absolutely no bipartisanship in this city these days, maybe there is life after the presidency that allows people to speak civilly to each other." There it is, strong opposition to kidnapping, indefinite detention, unlimited executive power, and torture is just uncivil partisanship...ugh.
Imagine for a moment that NPR would run a report stating that Bush administration officials delight in tormenting the Palestinian Authority, or delight in tormenting Cuban leaders. Even I'd find this a bit strange and unprofessional. Now consider Tom Gjelten's words in reporting on the Non-aligned Movement Summit in Havana, Cuba:
- "Among the stars of the Havana summit were the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Venzuelan President, Hugo Chavez -- both of whom seem to delight in tormenting the Bush administration."
To describe the actions and rhetoric of these men "delight in tormenting" is to completely mislead listeners as to the serious threats these nations face from the current administration in Washington. I don't know if he delights in it, but Tom Gjelten is bound to torment anyone with a knowledge of history and a bit of common sense!
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Saturday, September 16, 2006
Describing the speeches at the summit, Gjelten stated,
- "...whoever governs Cuba next, I think, will have to deliver improvements in the quality of life, but in the short term there could very well be a hardening of the situation here and more repression – one of the things I noticed among all the Cuban leaders who spoke this week was that they consistently took a pretty hard line."
- "Raul Castro, Fidel's brother, and the man who's the designated successor, was the one who presided over this meeting. He's someone, for example, who has had the reputation in recent years of being in favor of reform and even possibly in favor of better relations with the United States but the speech he delivered at this summit meeting was as hardline as any speech I’ve ever heard Fidel give."
I wondered what the repression and hardline were in the speeches, so I did a little searching and all I could find in various news sources was that the speeches were highly critical of the US -- especially current US policy. Given that the current US policy entails military agression in Iraq and Lebanon, threats of agression against N. Korea and Iran and a severe economic embargo of Cuba, one might expect the tone of Cuban leaders not to be particularly conciliatory toward the US. But there was nothing to indicate moves toward greater repression.
Friday, September 15, 2006
Also disturbing is when McCarthy asserts, "the dictatorship ended in 1990; it was brutal; it also laid the foundation for Chile’s remarkable growth today." I think not! Greg Palast has an excellent critique of this canard. His analysis is born out by the reporting on NPR which mentions that much of Chile's economic growth can be attributed to the high price that Chile's copper fetches on world markets. Even a writer for the Miami Herald in 1998, concluded that much of the Pinochet economic moves were disastrous for Chile.
After spending much of the 1980s studying the Chile tragedy, it is really heartbreaking to listen to NPR's silent coverup of the US' prominent role in creating and sustaining the torture state of Pinochet's Chile, and perhaps even worse to hear the dictatorship (and its eager economists from the University of Chicago) lauded for whatever economic successes Chile may be having.
For some great resources on the less savory history of the US in South America take a look at this resource page from Third World Traveller.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
This missing possibility is the desire of some core members of the Bush administration to launch military strikes against Iran. Without discussing the neocon hawks who want wider US (or Israeli) military action in the Middle East, Schuster leaves listeners without a key piece of information.
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
A second, really troubling statement was made by Peterson. He stated that "we've seen evidence of al-Qaeda and also Taliban remnants rebuilding over the last few years and kind of actually conducting attacks in places like Uzbekistan and in a lot of other countries." Uzbekistan? Interesting. I did a little digging around and could find no reliable evidence of al-Qaeda or Taliban attacks in Uzbekistan. In fact what I found was a mountain of evidence that Uzbekistan is a nightmarishly repressive torture state (just read a bit of Human Rights Watch's collection here). Yes, there were suicide bombings attacking police in the capital Tashkent in March 2004 and the Guardian noted that Uzbek authorities "said that the Islamic fundamentalist group Hizbut Tahrir was behind the blasts, a group the authorities have repeatedly persecuted and tortured for terrorism, despite the US and UK thus far considering the group non-violent." The Guardian goes on to report that "the Uzbek persecution of Hizbut Tahrir, which reportedly involved some prisoners being boiled to death, has led to insistent criticism of the regime of President Islam Karimov from human rights groups, the Foreign Office and the EU."
These are large and really inexcusable distortions of events in Southeast Asia, especially as the situation in Afghanistan looks to be getting even worse--with dire implications for the people living there and for us, too. And papering over the sickening situation in Uzbekistan is really irresponsible and sad.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
NPR offered "analysis" right after Bush's speech last night. The commentators brought on were Tod Lindberg of the Hoover Institution and E.J. Dionne of the Brookings Institution. Given the explicit rightwing tilt of the Hoover Institution and the firmly center-right leanings of the Brookings Institute, it was actually surprising how critical the two guests were of Bush's speech, noting that it was very political when the White House implied it would not be, and criticizing how much it focused on Iraq and not the sorrows of the anniversary.
The real kicker though was David Greene who tends to do a lot of "traveling with the president" for NPR. Michelle Norris asks Greene, "you've spent the day, really two days traveling with the president…, is there anything that really stuck out with you -- a moment that stands out in your mind?" Greene's answer is a stunner and deserves to be quoted in full:
It was striking the power of the commander in chief no matter what the polls are saying, no matter which party, uh the ability to really capture people and become the focus of attention on a day like this, in New York, in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at the Pentagon. There were firefighters, there were families of victims who just seemed to be reaching out for someone to give them a sense of mission, for someone to really recognize their sense of loss, and that person was the president.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Sunday, September 10, 2006
It was refreshing was to hear conflicting points of view discussed with commitment, seriousness, and passion on the part of the speakers (and to hear points of view that are rarely aired in the mainstream media.) And credit also goes to Debra Elliot who tried to keep a focus to the discussion but didn't adopt a glib or smug tone.
I absolutely agree that comparing any human rights abusers to the Nazi's is a stupid tactic. Whatever the merits of the comparison, it is a non-starter for debate or discussion. Instead a better tactic is to just list the crimes and atrocities of the government, army, militia, etc. that one is concerned about--and let the reader/listener draw their own conclusions. With this in mind here are a few of the atrocities that Israel has committed of late:
- East Jerusalem "Cleansing" from EI
- Gaza (see link above)
- Amira Hass reporting for Haaretz
Saturday, September 09, 2006
This brings me to this morning's "talk" on NPR between Linda Wertheimer, John Hendren and David Greene. In discussing Bush's recent admissions on the CIA secret prisons and the "harsh tactics" (the Bushspeak term for "torture") used there, Greene and Wertheimer give credence to Bush's claims of how successful the torture has been. Wertheimer says of Bush, "he talked about how much the country has learned from these people and how valuable it has been. He said that some of the things they’ve learned from these prisoners actually stopped future attacks." To this Greene responds, "That's exactly right." Greene goes on to restate Bush's speech: "a lot of these very harsh tactics produced results, and the crux of his message was that this kind of interrogation is effective – he said that these tactics produced vital information and acually broke up some terror attacks and saved innocent lives."
These journalists offer no challenge to these claims, which is inexcusable, especially since rebutting Bush's lies is not terribly difficult as Leigh Pomeroy of Minnesota Monitor shows.
NPR kept calling the man a Pygmy, which I’ve understood to be one of those terms like “witch doctor” or “gypsy” that’s not very respectful to the people it is being applied to. But what struck me as most strange was the complete lack of context given to the time period when this man was being brought to the US to be put on display. In 1904 the Congo was undergoing the Belgian orchestrated holocaust in which about 10 million Congolese were slaughtered (half the population!). The genocide enriched King Leoplod’s Belgium and was strongly opposed by progressives in the US—including one of my favorites, Mark Twain. An excellent treatment of this horror is given in the book, King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild.
It’s sad to think of listeners now hearing about the more recent bloodletting in the Congo and having no greater historical reference than the story of Oto Benga—a story told on NPR with the smug assurance that our current attitudes about foreign people are so far advanced to those of our backward progenitors living at the beginning of the previous century.
Friday, September 08, 2006
The president of Iran at that time was Mohammed Khatami, and so today when NPR reported today on the visit of Khatami to the US, I hoped they might put his visit in context by discussing the earlier peace overtures of Iran. Instead all we here about is how Khatami's tour has been carefully planned, how "many people are outraged that Khatami had been granted a visa to the United States," and how no US government officials attended any of his talks. That's it, nothing more.
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Instead NPR rebroadcasts as facts Bush's mix of statements, lies, and misinformation. On Morning Edition, Renee Montagne interviews NPR's Mary Louise Kelly who is breathless about the Bush statements: "interesting detail," "remarkable details," and "really quite fascinating." She then quotes unnamed sources who affirm that the secret detainees were "treated in a safe manner" and given regular medical treatment, Korans, dvds, and even gym equipment! This in spite of direct evidence that Zubaida was denied medical treatment for gunshots as a form of torture and years of corroborated testimony of torture and abuse from other captives in the "war on terror."
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
I really tire of the MSM's terrorism experts; as Rami Khouri explains, these experts often know very little, speculate a lot, and "their guesswork is ideologically defined by the prevalent White House script of the day." This fits Hoffman to a tee. In the interview he states,
- "I think the strategy very, very commendably talks about the dynamic nature of terrorism and argues that terrorism is changing and therefore our strategy has to, which is quite right. It also, I think, is remarkably candid; it talks at length about the challenges of ending the sanctuary that terrorists can receive from states and the support that they obtain from states. And then goes on, as I said, very frankly to discuss how Iran and Syria have reemerged as problems after having be quiescent, or after having been, in Syria's case remarkably cooperative during the first phases of the war on terrorism.
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
So how does NPR's morning edition deal with this critical juncture of congress reconvening? With a glibness that is really disheartening. Steve Inskeep asks Brian Naylor, "...do you like this season..." to which Naylor responds, "Yeah it’s fun; this is where it gets down to the real politcal nitty gritty—these guys are all worried about their election; the climate seems very much against the republican majority and so there’s going to be a lot of scrambling and a lot of rhetoric and it’s going to fun to watch..."
Fun to watch!
Then when Inskeep notes, but "there are real issues to discuss—what’s on the agenda?" Naylor states that defense and security will be at the core of debate and then goes on to note how republicans will try to make democrats look weak on defense and security and democrats will try to embarass the White House by seeking a vote of "No Confidence" in Rumsfeld.
That's really about all we get. It's too bad because there could be a lot of ground covered to inform people about how corrupt the defense and security spending is in congress or how the military industrial complex threatens the institutions of our republic (read Chalmer Johnson's Sorrow's or Empire for a good primer on this).
On the other hand maybe that's too much to ask...
Two lies in less than two minutes!
Sunday, September 03, 2006
Today featured one of those "insider" talking heads, Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution -- director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy and a former assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs--discussing US Middle Eastern policy and acting as an apologist for US policy there. I've posted before on the shortcomings of the Brookings Institutions (May 17, 2006 and July 20, 2006).