Thursday, December 31, 2009

Having Your Yellow Cake and Eating It Too

Itching to repeat the manufacture of phony "evidence" used to engineer the US invasion of Iraq, NPR is working hard to pursue the thinnest bits of "evidence" to get up a war on Iran.

On December 17th Mike Shuster was excitedly pushing documents that supposedly raised "New Concerns." The report was riddled with qualifications of "might be" and "could be" which would be laughable, if the consequences of such fraudulent reporting weren't so dire.
[Renee Montagne] : "The document lays out a series of experiments THAT COULD BE USED to trigger nuclear explosions. IF IT IS GENUINE, some experts believe it could be proof Iran is working toward a nuclear weapon."

[Mike Shuster]: "The document, WHICH APPEARS TO COME from an office in Iran's Defense Ministry..." "the source says the document was written in 2007. IF THAT IS INDEED TRUE, IT COULD BE evidence that Iran is engaged, now, in work on components of a nuclear weapon."
Of course this startling document turned out to be a forgery - though NPR never issued a correction or retraction.

Then - as if completely oblivious to the "Oh My God They're After Yellow Cake"scandal of the Iraq War, on Steve Inskeep was on Dec. 30th's Morning Edition pushing a yellow cake scare story on Iran. The story is based on a single mysterious document that has landed in the hands of one AP reporter. The document has not been subject to any authentication process, but that doesn't stop NPR and Inskeep from hyping it:
[Inskeep]: "The Associated Press obtained a document saying Iran is trying to buy 1,350 tons of uranium ore. Reporter George Jahn has seen the document, and he's on the line."
At the heart of the interview we hear
[Inkseep]: "Now, why would it be important for Iran to get its hands on uranium, and especially this much of it?"

[Jahn]: "Basically, this is the starting block in its enrichment program. Iran needs purified ore, also known as yellow cake or uranium oxide, to enrich, and of course, its enrichment program is the backbone of its nuclear activities, WHICH COULD CREATE NUCLEAR WEAPONS."

In case you tuned in late to the report, Inskeep closes his report with this recap:
[Inskeep]: "George Jahn is a reported for the Associated Press. He has seen a document from the International Atomic Energy Agency that says Iran is close to buying many tons of uranium from Kazakhstan."

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Iranian History - the Milani Remix

NPR put history in the blender again - this time regarding Iran. On Sunday, Dec. 27th's ATC NPR's Guy Raz interviewed Abbas Milani in order to obscure and minimize the destructive, anti-democratic role the US has played in Iranian history:
[Raz] : "Let's go back for a moment and talk about, specifically, about the US' role. I mean, the basic narrative is that the United States has always played a key role in Iranian politics. This is the narrative widely accepted among the leadership in Iran and, to some extent, by the foreign policy establishment here in Washington, D.C. What is this information based on? Why is this view so widely accepted?"

[Milani] : "I think it is accepted because, like many myths, it has some base in reality and some base in ignorance. If you, in fact, look at U.S. involvement in Iran, U.S. begins to get involved in Iran after World War II. And the first attempt by FDR, the Roosevelt administration, is, in fact, to create what they call a democratic experiment in Iran. And from Roosevelt to Carter, every administration, with the exception of the Nixon administration, pushed behind the scenes, the shah towards a more democratic, a more open society."
The NPR report is essentially a reprise of Milani's Dec. 8th article in The New Republic. In the article and on NPR Milani points out the truth that Iran's clerics were involved in the 1953 coup against Mossadegh that installed the Shah. He uses this fact to pretend that the US role was minimal and that the US role in the Shah's Iran was to push for democracy. I asked an Iranian friend and scholar - Niloofar Shambayati - if she had any insights into Milani's NPR remarks and she noted that
"The fact is that those of us who have read scholarly works on the subject of 1953 military coup, including Ervand Abrahamian’s books, have known for decades about the controversial role of the clerics in that episode of Iranian politics. We have also known that, without the U.S. planning and full force backing, the idea of a military coup could not have materialized. The fact that occasionally American officials nudged the Shah to loosen his grip on the society and politics in order to ensure the continuation of his rule and U.S. hegemony not only adds nothing to the historical narrative of this period and but confirms the pursuance of imperialist agenda by successive Administrations. "
Arash Norouzi echos this analysis as he dismantles the lies and distortions of Milani in a fine point by point rebuttal. Norouzi writes:
"Milani has chosen to counter the Islamic Republic's disengenuous, hypocritical narrative with his own equally deceptive, revisionist narrative. It's a logically bankrupt essay permeated with misleading, feel-good innuendo, signifying much but saying nothing. Repeatedly, Milani tampers with facts, contradicts his own conclusions, and even betrays his own recent statements."
Needless to add, poor Guy Raz is completely inadequate in challenging Milani. Raz asks one challenging [though qualified] question:
"...declassified documents show that the United States helped the Shah create his feared and hated secret police as well. So the U.S. did have a role that could, I think, fairly be described as a meddlesome one at certain points."
Milani simply co-opts the truth and turns it into a bald lie,
"Oh, absolutely. I don't quarrel over that at all. And the gist of the article is that the notion that the U.S. has been only propping up despots in Iran and that the only purpose Iran served for the U.S. was to buy its weaponry and sell its cheap oil does not get to the core of a much more complicated, much more nuanced relationship."

At this point the hapless Raz simply folds and joins in the narrative that Milani is spinning,

" your article, you write: This is a seductive narrative, but what's strange is the group that it has seduced, the very meddlers themselves in Washington. What do you mean by that?"

So there it is. The US, the prime engineer of the Shah's installation and supporter of his dictatorship actually was working for freedom and democracy all along. And the proof of this lie? Simply the fact that the corrupt clerical regime in Iran was also complicit in the overthrow of Mossadegh.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Making Lemonade from Lemons [and Cupcakes from Cat Poo]

According to Rene Montagne on Christmas Eve morning, "One thing that is clear is that the U.S. and China are no longer observers in the international climate debate, but leaders." How's that for objective reporting?

I had to hear NPR's spin on the essentially antidemocratic Copenhagen "deal" orchestrated by Obama behind closed doors with China, India, Brazil, and South Africa. The report by Christopher Joyce essentially tries to lay the blame for the Copenhagen Summit's failure to reach a meaningful agreement at the feet of Venezuela and Sudan (seriously!). Here are highlights from NPR's creative take on the imperial arrogance of the US and the irresponsible behavior of rich countries at Copenhagen.
Joyce: "Many delegations did not view the five-nation accord as a step forward....Nonetheless, many in the climate business say it's lemonade from what was a very sour lemon. Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, is in the lemonade camp. She says people had pushed the myth that the world was ready to agree on a new binding treaty, and it wasn't...." (Claussen's lemony position is less than unbiased - given that she worked for the US Department of State).
Joyce: "....delegations from countries like Sudan and Venezuela burned up conference time with procedural tactics and, Claussen says, unrealistic demands."
Claussen: "It wasn't clear that anything could get done because some group of countries or some country was trying to hold up everything, which is why I think the approach of just trying to do an accord with a small number of countries was probably the only way to have anything come out of this at all."
Joyce briefly lets Ray Kopp from Resources for the Future [and Member, U.S. Department of State Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy, 1999 - present] note that China is like the US and doesn't want to be pushed around.

Finally Joyce, in typical NPR fashion - after consulting former State Department affiliated opinion - takes a hard right turn so as to use a bit of American Enterprise Institute quackery for concluding remarks. He trots out "climate expert" Dr. Kenneth Green who make these fair and balanced comments:
"Kyoto has been an albatross around the necks of those - of people who are genuinely concerned about climate change. The first thing they have to do is let go of the failed model, because they're pushing for basically two things countries cannot - democracies, especially - cannot do. It's economic suicide and the exporting of massive amounts of their people's wealth to their enemies or competitors." [No mention of planetary ecocide or of just where some of that people's wealth came from...]

Monday, December 21, 2009

Q Tips

All precious NPR related comments are welcomed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Pottersville Redux - Happy Holidays

(click to see the original still)

My, my, how things change. Seems like it was just yesterday (ok, 2006) when I posted my holiday greeting card featuring Cheney and Bush bringing us our Wonderful Life. Well there was a big election since then, and - what with the Bankster bailouts, the GITMO shuffle [hello Illinois], the expanded secrecy acts, the Afghanistan Surge™, the Health Care Reform Christmas present to the Insurance industry, it only seemed fair and balanced to reissue and update my holiday howdy featuring our new POTUS and his loyal assistant Timmy Geithner - oh yea, Change We Can Believe In.

BTW - It seems like I'm managing about one post a week, which seems about right. The help from readers in the Q-Tips section has been great, and I'll post a new Q-Tips tomorrow.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Junk in the Air and Junk on the Air

Readers of this blog busted David Kestenbaum (pictured above) for airing crap about climate change during his coverage of the UN Copenhagen Conference. As "doggydaddy" writes,
"This [link to the Tuesday morning story] may help explain my antipathy towards Kestenbaum this AM. Of all the stories one could file from Copenhagen, he gives credence to hack skeptic Lomborg who has been thoroughly discredited. [link to a point by point refutation of Lomborg's "science."] What a doofus and a tool is the Kestenbum."
Given that Bjorn Lomborg has been debunked, refuted and exposed as having only one goal - pushing for "the pressing need to do nothing about global warming" - one can only conclude that Kestenbaum shares this mission. This would explain his 2008 adoring [and shameless] piece on a teen global warming skeptic.

So how does a groovin', Yale-Harvard hipster like Kestenbaum top a scoop interview with Bjorn Lomborg? He does it by using his Thursday morning slot to sneer at and ridicule the attendees at the conference for contributing to carbon pollution by using air travel to get to the conference - how cutting edge! As "Woody" wrote in the comments,
"I nearly went inside the radio this AM, when I heard that lame-ass report on the "carbon footprint" required to host the Climate Summit, and the ever-so-condescending snarkiness of the lazy, smirking, sold-out creeps and asswipes reporting it.

Just once, I'd like to hear some proper context, like what is the size of the carbon footprint of just one day's operations by the USer military in Central Asia."
Ah yes, the footprint of the US military in Central Asia, that would be interesting. In fact would have been great fun to hear Bjorn Lomborg asked about the bloated US military spending that could be used for those humanitarian projects that he supposedly cares so much about.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

You Lie!

When I listened to Obama's Nobel Prize war speech and heard him say this
"Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms."
I wanted the blood of the millions of East Timorese, Vietnamese, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Haitians, Chileans and others murdered by the US "strength of arms" to cry out "You Lie!"

Then on Sunday morning I had to hear NPR feature not one, but TWO stories on an assassination carried out under Pinochet's dictatorship in Chile. In spite of discussing the dreadful state of repression under Pinochet, neither story made any mention of the strong role played by the United States in instigating and supporting the Chilean nightmare.

This brought me back to Obama's speech. No wonder he can get away with saying something so blatantly and obscenely false. The news coverage of events that would contradict such propaganda disappears down the memory hole again and again.

You Got Punk'd

I had to post this because - to their credit - on Thursday's ATC, NPR had on Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation to give her reaction to Obama's War-You-Can-Believe In rubbish Nobel Peace Prize lecture. Here's what she said:
"President Obama is an ethical realist....a speech grounded in realism with elements of idealism ....could see why the Nobel committee awarded him this prize....had a humility and grace while confronting the paradoxes."
Even Bob Siegel had to ask, "But you seem to be resolving this conflict between the wartime president, who's escalated the U.S. operation in Afghanistan and the peace prize winner, and the speech about peace rather easily. I'm surprised. I'm surprised you're not more stuck on that one." [Yeah, me too!]

Vanden Heuvel simply took another sip o' the Kool-aid and added,
"And I think it is up to the people, not only in the United States, but this world, to push him to live up to the words he spoke in the speech which was a complex speech. It was a, kind of a speech that could be taught in a college course on just war and America's role in the world."
Wowzer! Even the pathetic Juan Williams was more articulate on Saturday's Weekend Edition:
"Well, I think it was a very militaristic does that relate to eight years of war that was based on weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist? And what does it say to us about dealing with Iran and their difficulties today?'s a president who is advancing war - two wars at this moment - where is the peace? You know, where is the Martin Luther King? Where is the Mandela? The commitment to non-violence?"

Let's Have a Tea Party

In case you missed it last Wednesday's ATC gave a whopping 12.5 minutes of airtime promoting the sophisticated political maturation of the Tea Party movement - especially in Texas. Bob Siegel was hosting...
(cursor over each frame and click the hyperlinked ones you want to follow - nos. 1,2,3, 10, 13, & 14)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Q Tips

NPR related comments welcomed.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

And From the Left

NPR's supposedly liberal, left-leaning Dan Schorr weighs in on Obama's escalation of the war and occupation of Afghanistan on Weekend Edition Saturday:
Simon: "President Obama appeared at West Point, send 30,000 or more U.S. troops to Afghanistan by next fall. How would you characterize the speech?"

Schorr: "I would characterize it as being a statesmanlike speech trying to deal with two disparate problems. One of the problems is they need to send more troops to Afghanistan. The other problem is that that does not go down very well with a great many liberals in the Democratic Party [seriously, click on this link to see my Republican representative's stand on Afghanistan]. And what he's done in effect is to say here we come and there we go, 18 months later, hoping that he managed to get both groups. He may succeed, but not entirely.

Simon: "Of course the concern was raised by a number of people this week - in Congress, commentators - that if you a put time stamp on a commitment, it doesn't impress anybody and it allows the Taliban to say we'll just hold onto the ropes for 18 months, and for that matter, as some people suggested, it's hard to ask U.S. troops to risk their lives for that kind of exit."

Schorr: "Well, you're right. It's not really a very wise thing to do if you want to get the Taliban and al-Qaida out of there. You don't say just hang around, we'll be leaving in 18 months, it's not a very good idea. But he had a very sticky problem that what would work internationally would not work with public opinion at home, and he tried to straddle that.
With "liberals" like these who needs conservatives?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Q Tips

Ok, I'm still on break - notwithstanding the post below - so swing away.

Propaganda Squared

A reader noted in the Q Tips section below that Tuesday's ATC featured Pentagon propaganda on the Green Berets. It's no secret that NPR do love it some counterinsurgency, including the Green Berets.

The piece from Jon Kalish was an unabashed, uncritical advertisement for a Green Beret commercial called Why We Fight Now. There was no critique of the Green Berets, just positive comments, an "explanation" of the filmmaker's motives, and a handy link to the 10 minutes of the film on YouTube (watch it if you can stomach it - it's a lazy, stupid, paean to warriorism).

Here's a taste of the NPR feature:
Kalish: The film is titled Why We Fight Now, a nod to the World War II series Why We Fight, produced by Hollywood filmmaker Frank Capra for the U.S. War Department.....Why We Fight Now has no narration and consists mostly of Green Berets talking about their work. It was directed by Mark Benjamin, a 62-year-old Manhattan filmmaker who might seem an odd choice for the job." [Actually there is nothing but narration, provided by Green Berets parroting a simple-minded world view and the worship of war and counterinsurgency which in NPRspeak is "talking about their 'work.' "]

Benjamin: "I've always been anti-war and never thought I would ever work for the military."

Kalish: On the wall in Benjamin's office is a poster of Che Guevara, but there's also a picture of a Green Beret handing a piece of food to a child in Afghanistan. Benjamin's political evolution is due in no small part to the terrorist attacks of September 11. He knew people who died and has made several films dealing with the day's repercussions."

Benjamin: "Because of 9/11, I became this liberal hawk. My own political perspective on global conflicts, democracy, capitalism, human rights everything changed. I certainly became more militant. I think we should go after terror wherever it is."

That's all we get. Not one bit of intelligent information or analysis. There is some chatter from an ex-Green Beret who now is a fellow at NPR-favorite war-tank, Center for New American Security, who liked the film (surprise!) and seemed surprised that the military is airing this pro-special forces rubbish (because it favors the Green Berets over other special forces!)

As always there was no mention of the sordid history of the Green Berets supporting dictators and torture states - such as the disgusting Karimov of Uzbekistan or the torture deaths of Green Beret prisoners in Afghanistan (yawn...) or the usual trail of torture, blood, and repression that US special forces leave in their wake all over the world.

In the comments section below the story Boulder Dude nails it: "So, what does one call Propaganda of a Propaganda film? Double Plus Good news?" Or as I see it propaganda squared.