Thursday, August 31, 2006
In the context of the US Senate, I respect Senator Boxer, but after NPR gives more airtime to Bush nonsense on Iraq and the "war on terror" I want more than a Democratic opponent to critique the presidents lies and crimes. As a Democratic leader Boxer is limited in what she can say since most of her party is complicit in voting for and funding the crimes of the US war of agression against Iraq. I want someone who will address the illegality of the war, the predatory policies of the Bremer occupation, and the institutional crimes of illegal detention and torture that the US has visited on Iraq.
At least in the Gonyea piece that preceeds the Boxer interview we get to hear an old WWII veteran exposed to Bushspeak say of the president, "I wonder if he himself really knows what's going on [in Iraq]." Amen...
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
In his report Gjelten relies heavily on Javier Corrales of Amherst University. Gjelten says that-- according to Corrales-- Chavez needs the price of oil to stay high and "that may be one reason Hugo Chavez has seemed intent lately on stirring up trouble in the Middle East encouraging Iran to stand up to the United States for example and cheering Hezbollah in its war with Israel." I swear this is what was reported--unbelievable! This passes for journalism? If anyone is "stirring up trouble" in the Middle East it is the Oilygarchs occupying the White House. Their warmaking has proven mighty beneficial to Exxon, BP etc.
I remember suffering through Tom Gjelten's "coverage" of Central America (read: cover-up of US crimes there) during the late 80s and jokingly call him "CIA Tom." Well, if Tom's not working for the CIA, he ought to be.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I'll be sharp here. This is not reporting, this is worthless propaganda--a Bush campaign commercial. I'm tired of hearing NPR state that Bush has been "criticized" or "sharply criticized" with no follow up about why. How about serious reporting? How about accountability? This is the president cum fool who was hiding out on vacation when Katrina struck, who appointed an incompetent boob to run FEMA, who helped starve New Orleans of federal funding, who was informed long before the storm hit that thousands could die because of being too poor or infirm to evacuate, who was informed when the levees broke--and who did NOTHING. And what does NPR serve up? This threadbare hucksterism of Bush as a gee-shucks good guy who eats at pancake diners, says "Yes Maam," and gets applauded for speechifying. Give me a break!
Given that Morning Edition then follows with shallow coverage of Bush's midyear electioneering trip to the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, this opening report is indeed frustrating.
Listeners who want to inform theselves should take a look at the LSU Hurricane Center website or listen to yesterday's Democracy Now story by Greg Palast which featured the deputy director of the LSU Center.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Davidson interviews Mark Dubowitz (misidentified as Mark Dubinksy). Take a look at Dubowitz' biography where you can find his dishonest article on the Israel wall. Davidson notes that Dubowitz founded the Coalition Against Terrorist Media, but Davidson doesn't tell you anything about who else is behind this pro-Zionist, rightwing organization. If you look at their statement you will see that they were founded by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) (of which Dubowitz is the Chief Operating Officer). Now more interesting than the FDD's website above is their website showing their staff--a real neoliberal/neocon hall of shame: Jeanne Kirkpatrick, William Kristol, Newt Gingrich, Zell Miller, Sen. Joe Libermann, etc.
In the report Davidson plays a clip from al-Manar in which a student on a moderated program (Is it an uncensored talk show?) is apparently (if the translation can even be trusted) spewing virulent, anti-Semitic bile. But where does this snippet come from? It comes from the Middle East Media Research Institute which again is an extreme pro-Zionist organization with a history of unreliable and biased "information." After airing the clip, Davidson mentions in passing that al-Manar is "not like that all the time."
It's a shame to hear such a biased and lopsided report on NPR. People in the US need information on the Middle East that is not provided by apologists for Israel's military actions in the region. Or, if those sources are quoted, they should be clearly identified by their staff, their ideological background, their history, and their connections to governments--foreign and domestic.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
Here's a little history lesson for the memory challenged at NPR--a few places that the story of Iran's quest for nuclear weapons might begin: the beginnings of Israel's quest for nuclear weapons (1948!), the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran (1953), or the revelation that Israel possessed a substantial nuclear arsenal (1986), or journalist Seymour Hersh's expose on Israel's nuclear policies (1991).
All right, maybe I'm expecting a bit much to think that NPR might go back as far as 1991! Well, the story could have even picked up at a two more recent dates to help explain why Iran might be pursuing nuclear arms (or might be demanding security guarantees and a declaration of its "right" to enrich uranium.) The story might have begun with Bush's threatening "Axis of Evil" speech of 2002 -- at a time when the political movement in Iran was toward moderation and reapproachment. Lastly the story could have begun with the Iranian offer in 2003 to put all its cards on the table and make a deal that would have included recognition of Israel, cutting ties to Hezbollah, etc.
One can see that to begin the story at any of these points in history actually puts the story in a more meaningful context--and puts US policy toward Iran in a far less favorable light: something NPR seems to be incapable of doing.
There are several good reasons why news outlets should refer to it as "the so-called war on terror." As for the US, there has never been a Cnstitutional declaration of war and since part of the so-called war on terror is an assault on Constitutional liberties this is significant. Second, there is no end that can be assertained in the "war on terror" and so it might as well be called the "endless war" which has serious implications for its growth, spread and detriment to progressive values and liberties. Finally, there is a strong case to be made that not only is the US-led "war on terror" not doing anything significant to improve US security, but is in fact dramatically increasing the growth of non-state terrorism and making the US less secure.
And so it was that this morning it really got under my skin (again) to hear the piece on NPR discussing the threat of the Internet in the "US-led war on terror."
Friday, August 25, 2006
If you were listening to tonight's piece on NPR you might think that the main problem was just with a mixed-up Army policy on reporting the deaths of soldiers in which the wrong information emerges from the messy circumstances of war and combat (and the uncomfortable situation of reporting "friendly fire" deaths). What tonight's story doesn't do is put the Tillman death (and the death of two soldiers killed by Iraqi infiltrators they were training) in context. The context is one in which the Bush administration and Pentagon have gone out of their way to lie and misinform about the "war on terror" and in which the MSM (including NPR) have often gone along as dupes. This is yet another missed opportunity where NPR could have done a really significant piece, but instead opted for a more shallow and uninformative report. For a fine article on the misinformation war see this article by Ramzy Baroud.
- "In the worst of all possible worlds, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah will order his Hezbollah fighters into military hibernation over the winter. No more rocket attacks on Israel, no more cross border raids. Instead, the Party of God will burnish its reputation as the social conscience and savior of Lebanon, while Iran and Syria collaborate in replenishing its supply of short- and medium-range rockets."
Well you get the picture....but I don't know if NPR ever will.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
This morning offered a good example: NPR is interviewing a Marine captain who thinks he may soon be reactivated from the Marine Reserves and sent to Iraq. He mentions, in passing, that the reserves are meant to be used for "national emergencies" not troop shortages in an ongoing conflict.
Hmmm...a president who is misusing the military reserves to pursue a failed policy in order to save his political reputation and that of his party: Now that's a story! Follow-up or comment from NPR? Not a bit.
Her guest was a bit more balanced in his responses and didn't take her leads to "bash" Iran, and noticiably the interview ended without ever questioning the complexities of the issue that her guest kept referring to.
There is no problem with inquiring about possible subterfuges that any side in a conflict might be engaging in--it's just that NPR generally focuses on only on the party that the US government has identified as the "enemy" or the the "problem." This interview would have been an excellent time to discuss the maneuverings and dishonesty of the US actions during this "crisis" (for example, US demands on Iran, while ignoring Israel's huge nuclear arsena or the US insisting on a "non-starter" such as immediate suspension of enrichment verses an increased inspections regimine--or, God forbid, direct talks between the US and Iran.)
Given that there is mounting evidence that the US is planning a military strike on Iran, NPR owes it to listeners to probe all aspects of this conflict--not just the angle of the State Department, Pentagon and Bush administration.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
During the interview Chayes describes how during the downfall of the Taliban in late fall 2001, she ended up reporting a completely bogus story supplied by the US government. The story claimed that a fierce battle was waged by local forces in Kandahar against the Taliban--though she later learned it was a complete fabrication meant for consumption back in the US.
The focus of the piece was on the failure of US policy in Afghanistan and especially the supposed role of Pakistan in supporting former Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan which was interesting. But I found myself wondering two things. First, why should I trust Chayes information and deductions now--given that she had been so misled and misinformed before. And most importantly--how many other stories on NPR have been nothing but US government planted stories?
Unfortunately these two questions were never addressed in the piece?
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I listened to this sad bit of propaganda and thought if it were the Spring of 1973, I'd be hearing NPR warn us about the threatening government of Salvador Allende and his paranoia of the US and CIA. They'd be contrasting his dictatorial style with the US friendly military juntas in Brazil and Nicaragua--but NPR didn't exist in 1973 and so now they are making up for a lost opportunity by doing the journalistic "dirty work" on Venezuela.
Besides that valuable bit of information, Fallows swallows (!) the whole the idea that there is a legitimate "war on terror" and that it has been successful! He qualifies it by stating that what has been acheived is a significant weakening of al-Qaeda "central" as a force capable of launching a terrorist attack against the US on the scale of 9/11. Well...
However there are several gross misteps in his analysis. First he posits that "political violence" is the domain of terrorist groups and is something that the "developed world just has learned to live with. This ignores that the developed world is a significant participant in violence that targets civilians--the US / Israeli assault on Lebanon being only the most recent obvious example.
Fallows also has nothing--absolutely nothing--to say in this interview about the violent, militaristic, anti-democratic policies of the US since WWII that have fostered the conditions of terrorism (the pond in which terrorist "fish" swim to use his metaphor).
Fallows and Liane Hansen rehash the canard that Israel (unlike the US) does face terrorist threats to its existence and is therefore excused for its militaristic aggression. This, by the way, helps undercut the power of Jamie Tarabay's moving report from Lebanon.
I don't have a problem with NPR interviewing Fallow's on his Atlantic Monthly story, but they should be much more challenging in the analysis. Who specifically were his "expert sources" and why see Iraq as any kind of aberration? Also what about Afghanistan as a "success" even before this past spring and summer?
Instead NPR goes along with the nonsense that US policy has helped stop terrorism, when any thinking individual would at least wonder if that policy hasn't helped create a far vaster pool of potential terrorists and --especially in Iraq-- provided them with weapons, training, skills, and a cause that someone like Bin Laden could have only dreamed of before 9/11.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Seems like NPR is again helping soften up the public for the next phase of gettting a war on--see you in Tehran!
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
In light of the Downing Street Memo and other leaked documents, it is clear that Blair - like Bush - is a calculating liar, and that in the service of one of international law's greatest crimes, a crime against the peace, aggressive war.
In a real rhetorical twist of logic Gifford notes that Blair was intitially seen as being like Bill Clinton -- a creature who based decisions on polls and focus group studies. He then notes that the Iraq war unveiled the nobler Blair, a man of convictions and integrity (like Bush!) who was willing to go against "popular opinion" to support a war he believed in. This is astounding and thoroughly dishonest. To compare poll-watching political maneuvering (which for Blair and Clinton was always serving establishment interests) to the blatant anti-democratic actions of Blair in ignoring literally millions-in-the-street public protests and overwhelming public and "expert" disapproval of the war against Iraq is really grotesque.
Also, to describe the arrogant, dishonest, and self-serving delusions of Bush and Blair as convictions is contempuous of even the most basic ethical codes of human behavior. Ironically, Blair and Bush should have convictions -- in an international criminal court of law!
And yes, Blair rolled the political dice in supporting the Bush war machine and has lost the gamble (along with hundreds of thousands of human lives), but his actions are not contradictory to his New Labor politics, which are decidedly right-wing in nature. Only in our own narrow and debased political universe could someone like Rob Gifford describe (without irony) the likes of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair as being left-of-center. What center--the Liebermann, Limbaugh, Berlusconi center of politics?
It was interesting to me to note that Darby still had two weeks in the military as of the interview--I hope NPR will revisit him after he is fully discharged, when he might be freer to speak of the culpability of higher-ups.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
As in previous posts, I am not apologizing for the dictatorial police-state of Castro's Cuba--just suggesting that US "help" has a history of making human rights horribly worse, while making poverty blossom!
Monday, August 14, 2006
Meanwhile NPR continues its "Gameday" coverage of the ceasefire: how many rockets, numbers of troops, hours of the ceasefire, etc. Perhaps they will get on the phone to Seymour Hersh before day's end--we'll see. In the meantime skip NPR and watch/listen to today's Democracy Now!'s extended interview with Hersh--you won't be disappointed.
A few other news outlets around the world also considered the Hersh story newsworthy enough to include in their coverage, for example CBS, ABC, and Arutz Sheva of Israel!
Sunday, August 13, 2006
It would be interesting to know what all the Lebanese dead civilians felt about the robust Israeli self-defense. Or how inmates at Qitmo or Abu Gharaib like our robust hospitality?
I wonder if the mainstream media will describe al-Qaeda's next massacre as a "robust" operation? I kind of doubt it!
It's interesting to note how certain words find their way into the "news" vocabulary. Earlier in the year it struck me that I heard the words "vetted" and "vetting" more frequently than at any time before or since.
Mann concludes the interview by indirectly criticizing Sec. Rice for not engaging with Iran and Syria more directly, but he fully swallows the complete B.S. of team-Bush wanting to spread democracy in the Middle East: "she’s going to have to engage in some tough bargaining and some tough talk both with America’s allies—like Israel—and also with people the United States, with governments it doesn’t agree with including possibly Syria or Iran.....she’s going to have to talk…without giving speeches about democracy in the Middle East, that s not going to help, that’s a worthy cause, but not something she’s going to help by preaching on."
"this nation is at war with Islamic fascists", NPR entertains us with an interview with Kenneth Walsh (graphic image warning--only for strong stomachs). Walsh has written a book on presidential retreats. One might expect to hear about our "vacation President" and especially last summer's Crawford adventures of our Boy Emperor hiding from Cindy and playing rancher while Rome burned (drowned)--but instead we get to hear G.W. compared to the first G.W. chilling out at slave central (Mt. Vernon), Lincoln retreating from the pressures of his civil war, or FDR seeking respite from running the war against an earlier Axis of evil. You've got to love NPR's unwitting, twisted sense of humor!
Saturday, August 12, 2006
- Regarding the debate in the US government about Iran he says, "nowhere is that debate as intense as at the Pentagon which would be called upon should diplomatic efforts fail at the State Department." Notice how this assumes it as a given that war should follow if Iran refuses to stop uranium enrichment.
- Referrring the thuggish Perle and Gingrich he states, "Gingrich and other Pentagon advisors including Richard Perle are calling for covert support for democratic groups in Iraq" [interesting--he meant to say Iran]. Suggesting that Perle and Gingrich support any democratic groups is like suggesting the Klan supports activists for racial harmony.
- Bowman continues the lie that the nasty Iranian president has "has publicly called for destruction of the Jewish state." This is a mistranslation.
- Noting that a one-time Israeli strike on Iran would not stop its nuclear development he says, "a one time strike would do little to halt Iran’s nuclear program…that means an effective military attack on Iran could only be done by the Americans—cruise missles fired from ships, B-2 warplanes hammering Iranian nuclear facilities..." Like our other successful military attack on Iraq! If this isn't cheerleading for war on Iran what is?
- Bowman continues the complete nonsense that Iran is helping the insurgency in Iraq. Any fool knows that Iran is helping the Shiite parties in Iran, but has no interest in helping the Sunni insurgency. Bowman states, "Gingrich says there are deep divisions…the defense department he says is at the very least eager to cut off the growing Iranian help to Iraqi insurgents."
Friday, August 11, 2006
Chertoff states: "I also have to point out that some of these plots are what we call home-grown plots where people are radicalizing themselves over the Internet or in small groups and the larger question is, you know, What do we do about the increased radicalization of some people into an ideology of terror and hatred, and that is a much more fundamental study which we are undertaking with a great deal of energy and a great deal of urgency."
At this point the OBVIOUS follow-up question, the friggin' elephant-in-the-living-room question would be, "With all due respect Mr. Secretary, aren't these people being radicalized by the US invasion/occupation of Iraq, the one-sided backing of the US for Israel's assault on Gaza and Lebanon, and the refusal of the US to insist on Israel giving up settlements in the West Bank? I mean that is what the London train bombers of last summer stated."
But instead Norris takes an even more militaristic tack than Chertoff! She asks, "Well I guess that goes to the question of how you actually vanquish this threat, because unless you can actually weaken their ability to plan and to plot and to pay for these events, it seems like you're engaged in almost like a game of 'Whack a mole' just trying to knock them down when they come up with these plots."
To which Chertoff, of course replies, "You're exactly right.....that psychology of what makes a person convert from an ordinary individual into a suiced bomber is I think at the core of a longer term strategy to winning here--which is worth a great deal of study and discussion. "
Interesting enough, but how about NPR confronting some of the hucksters of our Iraq adventure with this situation. I seem to recall Rumsfeld trumpeting how great US training of Iraqi troops and policemen was going not so long ago. Why not call up the Pentagon and ask them about the infiltration of the security forces? Why not ask about our policy of creating death squads in Iraq (the so-called Salvador Option--see my previous post).
It's interesting to see the shift in coverage on Iraq of late. There is more coverage of the disaster that Iraq has become--but without identifying those responsible (starting with Bush and working down).
Thursday, August 10, 2006
So far all of NPR's coverage about the airline terrorism plot foiled by the British authorities has focused on surface issues (how many people, what are the new regulations, how would bombs be made, etc.). I keep waiting for that forbidden question: "Why?" That is the question that we are not allowed to consider. Why exactly are these terrorists targeting US/UK airlines? What are their complaints/demands/grievances? It is interesting to compare the coverage of the US/Israeli destruction of civilians and civilian targets with the coverage of terrorist operations. When it is the US/Israel destroying civilian targets all we hear about is "stopping terrorists," "establishing security" and "self-defense" as if legitimate aims justify terrorist tactics. Yet we almost never hear about the motives or platforms of non-state terrorist organizations unless it is some nonsense from US officials about their "hating freedom" or "hating our way of life."
Shouldn't there be one standard of ethics applied equally to all parties in a conflict?
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Today's report has Raz speaking to the Jewish community near Dearborn. Raz asks none of the Jewish people inteviewed if they support "collective punishment" or complete forced depopulation of civilian areas, or blockades of humanitarian relief, etc. Instead he focuses on issues of "self defense," Holocaust memories, and repeating the lie that Iran's President threatened to "wipe Israel off the map." (a gross mistranlation)
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
For an informed historical perspective on the Lebanon, Hezbollah, Israel issue I'd recommend readers to see this commentary from the Guardian Unlimited [UK]. It represents the kind of complex, informative coverage that we should be getting from NPR.
Despite the Israeli assault on Lebanon, the IDF continues its crimes against Palestinians in Gaza with almost no coverage from NPR (and the rest of the MSM). For an excellent update on the situation visit this post from Helena Cobban's blog, Just World News. Cobban is a Contributing Editor of the Boston Review, a columnist for the Christian Science Monitor, and an independent scholar. (She is one of those creatures--a scholar/writer/analyst with a sharp mind, a big heart and conscience).
Monday, August 07, 2006
There's nothing wrong on the face of it about reporting on the sexual repression of fanatic Shiites who kill a grocer for displaying vegetables in a way that only a pervert could see as "erotic" or kill a sheperd for not covering the privates of his goats. But what's the point? And then to contrast it with the oh-so-noble US soldier and military surgeons and Iraqis who work with "us." To me it smacks of the "Aren't we so civilized and aren't these people so barbaric and bizarre that in spite of trying to help them and democratize them, it's hopeless" argument.
Watching the Iraq War spiral deeper and deeper into failure for the US, I'm always watching and wondering who will be blamed for the failure. You can almost be certain that on NPR it won't be the criminal masterminds at the top of our government or their whole violent, arrogant, greedy project for Iraq that will be held to account.
The most disturbing thing though about Williams' piece was its utter lack of details. Who are all the voices of victimhood that he denounces. Only Al Sharpton's name comes up. And what about the incredibly short-lived life of affirmative action and the roll-back of civil rights that really got rolling with Reagan? What about the complete destruction of more militant African American leaders by the police and government in the 60's (e.g. Fred Hampton)?
I don't object to raising thorny issues about problems in the African American community--but where is the contextual perpective?
Williams did have a few details that hint where his loyalties lie. When asked what Black leaders are "getting it right" he cites Sen. Barak Obama, Colin Powell, and Dick Parsons (CEO of AOL/Time Warner)--deconstruct that! I can tell you as an Illinois progressive that Obama is a pathetic disappointment supporting the war in Iraq, hawkish on Iran, and hawkish for Israel. Powell (UN liar and Vietnam cover-up man) has surely disgraced himself in his salesmanship for the Bush project in Iraq and the Middle East, and then Parsons [helped with Bush's Social Security Commission] the head of a mega-media conglomerate (we know how democratic and progressive they are!). Yes, Williams wants self-empowerment all right--but only if it's cozied up with those in power--regardless of what wrongs they are committing.
We'll see if this NPR "series" offers any progressive voices from the African American community.
Sunday, August 06, 2006
There were two gems in this interview. Implicitly blaming the Palestinians and the Lebanese for being hammered by indiscriminate Israeli violence Feldman makes the following two statements:
- "...if you elect a government that's hostile to us or to our allies, we're just not going to deal with that government; we’re going to treat you as a hostile state. The message there is that democracy is just fine, but there's no excuse-making for the public when they've elected democratically a government that goes out and breaks international law or that violates the borders of its neighbors...."
- "people do not take responsibilty for what their governments do. They point the finger they say well my government did this but I don't support my government's policies or it's unfair to attack my country because we really didn't do this just our government did it but if you've actually elected the government then you have to be prepared to take responsibility for what it does. That doesn’t mean that civilians can be targeted—of course that's wrong—nobody should target civilians on either side and if anyone does it’s a clear violation of international law."
What is sad is that NPR could use the current events in Cuba to investigate the complexities of Cuba: its dismal human rights record, the success of its medical and public education system, its emergency preparedness successes, and of course the violent crimes by the US against Cuba and horrific crimes against South and Central America by the US and especially by the current crop of criminals running the executive branch of our government.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Has NPR heard of Richard Falk? His name came up on NPR one time back in 2002 when he "supported" the US attack on Afghanistan as just. Maybe they could bring him back again, although he might not fit into NPR's pro-US slant on this conflict (or the Occupied Territories or the war in Iraq).
A simple Google search of "civil war constitution" on Juan Cole's Informed Comment page reveals several pertinent facts: last summer's US-rushed Iraqi constitution nearly guaranteed civil war. As Juan Cole wrote on August 12, 2005: "And thus, this rush to a constitution, mainly for the benefit of the Bush administration, which wants it done so Bush can gracefully begin exiting next year in time to affect the 2006 congressional races, is highly unwise. It may well contribute to the outbreak of a civil war in the future in Iraq." You'd also see that Cole was describing the conflict in Iraq as an "unconventional civil war" in July of 2005.
Then onto Lebanon where Schorr and Simon continue the big lie that the US has been working overtime to find an end to the conflict--it just wants it to be "sustainable." This is pure nonsense; the stalling by the US in preventing a ceasefire has had nothing to do with "sustainable" peace, but has been a policy decision to allow Israel to complete the destruction of Lebanon's infrastructure and punish the civilians of Lebanon with the supposed goal of destroying Hezbollah. Even CBS news noted on July 25th that Sec. of State Rice in meetings in Lebanon was "repeating the same conditions for a ceasefire that Israel has laid out." And of course Fox News interviewing Rice on July 16th, reveals Rice agreeing with Chris Wallaces statement that the US opposes a ceasefire because "the Israelis are talking about a bombing campaign that could take weeks to basically rewrite the facts on the ground and put Hezbollah out of business in southern Lebanon."
Friday, August 04, 2006
Yes, the Hezbollah attacks on Israeli towns and cities are clearly war crimes and are terrible. But on a day when 40 Lebanese civilians are killed by the US supplied/funded/encouraged Israeli air force and when further assaults are launched against relief supplies and infrastructure in Lebanon (a clear war crime) it is a sickening way to open the news by focusing on the small number of Israeli casualities and shows the pro-Israeli bias of NPR.
The Gjelten piece begins as if it might actually be informative describing Kennedy's botched Bay of Pigs invasion and mentioning that Pres. Johnson through "Operation Mongoose," supported Cuban exile militants who trained in Guatemala and Nicaragua and attacked Cuba, sinking ships and bombing a refinery in Havana. That is as close to the truth as this report comes. It then goes on to describe the admirable sending of Cuban troops to Angola in 1975, the more dubious sending of Cuban troops to Ethiopia (since Ethiopia was controlled by military dictators) to stop an illegal invasion from Somalia, and the shooting down of two small civilian aircraft that had repeatedly invaded Cuban airspace as "provocative act[s]." This is history turned on its head--the provocative acts came from the US not from Cuba (this is an excellent link).
As far as the Cuban exile community, NPR would do its listeners a service to even briefly cover its sordid history of attacking free expression and supporting violence and terrorism (and these are the folks who will supposedly bring "freedom" to a post-Castro Cuba).
Here are a two more links of interest regarding Cuba/US relations:
Center for International Policy
A Chomsky essay
Thursday, August 03, 2006
However, the report opens with Block noting that "three weeks ago that commission released a 40 page plan on hastening the transition to a democratic society," yet at no time during the interview is this premise that the US supports democracy in Latin America challenged. This is a glaring oversight since even a brief look back shows that the US has consistently supported state terror and torture regimes when they have been friendly to US business interests in the region. This reminded me of the unbelievable bragging about US policy in Central America that Dick Cheney engaged in during the 2004 campaign.
I am not suggesting that NPR be an apologist for the despicable human rights record of the Castro dictatorship, but it is critical to report on the sordid history of US foreign policy in the region so that people can deduce what kind of future the US government has in mind for Cuba [Haiti and Nicaragua are good examples.] And finally, covering this history is very relevant because the main villains of the 1980s are back in power and setting the current agenda in the Middle East.
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
I wonder if any of the forces they're training will be able to live up to past students of the Green Berets like those in Vietnam, El Salvador, Egypt, Colombia, and Uzbekistan? Given the bodies turning up in the streets of Baghdad, they may already be hard at work.
Describing the Israeli assault on a HOSPITAL in Baalbek, Northam states, "Hezbollah says that the hospital that the commandos hit during this raid, the Dar al-Hikma, is only about 10 miles from Lebanon's border with Syria so it's a strategic area. Residents in Baalbek say that this hosptial is financed by an Iranian charity the Imam Khomeini Charitable Society and it has close ties to Hezbollah. By the way Renee, Israeli warplanes hit that hospital last night and destroyed most of it; it had already been evacuated...."
According to the NPR bio of Jackie Northam, she "is the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the abuse scandal at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and the administration's policies on torture and the Geneva Conventions." Well, Northam seems to have missed a few key points of the Geneva Convention, so I'll provide them here (see this link for the source):
Fixed establishments and mobile medical units must be protected and respected by all sides in a conflict. (Convention I, Art. 19)
Hospitals may have personnel who carry arms for self-defense or for the maintenance of order; may be protected by a picket, by sentries, or by an escort; may temporarily store small arms and ammunition taken from patients; may be associated with a veterinary unit; and may treat civilians. (Convention I, Art. 22)
Hospitals may not be used to commit acts harmful to the enemy. If they do, they lose their protections under the Geneva Conventions after due warning has been given and a reasonable time limit has passed. (Convention I, Art. 21)
- "Witnesses in Baalbek said they saw dozens of IAF helicopters hovering over the city. They said the hospital in Baalbek, filled with patients and wounded people, was bombed by IAF helicopters late Tuesday. Plumes of burning smoke billowed from the hospital after it was directly hit, they said." (link here)
It is statements like this that drove me to write this blog. How can NPR expect its listeners to have an informed opinion when they broadcast this kind of Whitehouse propaganda as if it were fact? There is absolutely no evidence to support the statement. All evidence points to the contrary--that Bush is seeking and promoting more conflict and war in the Middle East (Iraq, Syria, Gaza, West Bank, and Iran for example). It really is sickening to hear NPR day after day reassert the completely unfounded and ridiculous claims of the Bush administration that their project in the Middle East is somehow about peace, freedom, and democracy.
Tuesday, August 01, 2006
Ok, at this point in the interview I expected that she or Renee Montagne would express some kind of reaction such as "Do you mean to say that 57 sheltering civilians in one strike doesn't count?" Or "Are you saying the over 500 killed civilians in three weeks isn't a large death toll?" But instead there is no reaction at all and the statement is just left there as if it were a normal, understandable figure.
I'll comment on this; let's do a little sad math. Lebanon has about 4 million citizens and the US has about 300 million. That means that the US population is about 75 times greater than Lebanon's. So we'll count consider the single Israeli air strike on the building in Qana. It killed 57 people; if a similar massacre by proportion took place in the United States that would entail the murder of 4275 innocents (that number is not far off the Sept. 11, 2001 figures). As for death toll of at least 600 civilians in Lebanon, that would translate to 45,000 dead. (Oh, and the 800,000 displaced would be the equivalent of 60,000,000.)
I guess the pro-war Israelis (and pro-war US House, Senate, and Executive ) will only take notice when the death toll is closer to the 1982 figure of about 18,000 civilians slaughtered (see the Library of Congress country study site on Lebanon for this number).
I won't apologize for being partisan on this one. This also in no way excuses the Hezbollah war crime of targeting Israeli cities. But NPR has no excuse for being so crass and dispassionate about the killing of so many innocent civilians by a state armed, funded, and encouraged by the our government. To do so is to support the US /Israel war of aggression against Lebanon.