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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


 

"Arabs" alarmed by Iran


So reads the AP headline in the San Jose Mercury News (and presumably elsewhere) this morning, except for one detail - they didn't include the quotes. Just who are the "Arabs" in the headline who comprise the "depth of alarm across the Middle East" discussed in the article?

Exactly three of them are quoted in the article (indirectly by being quoted in the leaked cables) as having urged an attack on Iran: the King of Bahrain, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, and the King of Saudi Arabia. Hmmmm. I'm noticing a trend. How absolutely astonishing that three monarchs would be concerned about a country who represents an example of having toppled their own U.S.-backed monarch. But "Monarchs alarmed by Iran" just didn't sound like a headline that would resonate with the American people.

As for the people of the region, and their feelings about Iran? Not a word.


Monday, November 29, 2010


 

Haiti's elections


The news is filled with reports of fraud in Haiti's elections, with the majority of Presidential candidates calling for an annulment of the elections. I can find exactly one article in the corporate media, an op-ed published six days ago in the Los Angeles Times, which notes that the country's most popular political party, Fanmi Lavalas, was barred from the election, making it a bogus election before it even began.


 

Wikileaks: more caveat lector


I wrote at the time of the last Wikileaks document dump that one has to be very careful about what one is reading. In the current case, for example, when we read what U.S. diplomats are saying about foreign leaders, or about how the U.S. government is spying on foreign leaders including the U.N., or when we read about how the King of Saudi Arabia repeatedly urged the U.S. to bomb Iran, we can believe all those things because they are, in courtroom terminology, direct testimony.

But many of the leaks which are being repeated in the media with equal credibility deserve no such belief. Claims that Iran used the Red Crescent to funnel weapons to Hezbollah, or that China's Politburo directed the hacking of Google's computers, deserve no more credence than claims that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was pursuing (or even stockpiling) WMD. You can read, for example, that "WikiLeaks confirms that Iran and North Korea have for years been sharing weapons technology." No, what Wikileaks "confirms" is that U.S. officials allege that to be the case, just as the fact that the King of Saudi Arabia urges the U.S. to bomb Iran to thwart Iran's "nuclear weapons program" may confirm that the King has been convinced by U.S. propaganda, or his own intelligence agents with an agenda of their own, that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, but it has no bearing whatsoever on the truth of that claim.

Caveat lector.


Update: FAIR extensively documents one story, the "North Korea sold Iran missiles" story, and how it was treated in the press, vs. what the actual documents say.


 

Framing North Korea


On the TV news I was watching this morning, the "framing" of the story went like this (quoting verbatim): "The U.S. and South Korea continued war games this morning as tension on the peninsula continued to escalate." Which should, more accurately, have been worded this way: "The U.S. and South Korea continued war games this morning, continuing their escalation of tensions on the peninsula."

In the Washington Post today, we can read this (the wording is from the version in the San Jose Mercury News print edition): "The crisis began Nov. 23, when North Korea fired nearly 200 artillery rounds onto the small island of Yeonpyeong." No, the crisis began when South Korea, despite being warned by North Korea, fired artillery rounds into North Korean waters (or, at the least, into waters claimed by North Korea as their own). Not a word in the article indicating that almost all of the casualties on the South Korean side were military, not civilian (a way higher ratio than casualties inflicted by the U.S. or Israel in wars they are involved in). And of course, the article refers to the "sinking of the South Korean warship in March" without indicating the disputed nature of that event. South Korea is now talking about they will respond to provocations. Could there really be a bigger "provocation" than sinking someone's warship? If there really were evidence that that sinking was done by North Korea, don't you think that either the South Korea or the U.S. would have responded to it?

Update: CNN just referred to how South Korea and North Korea never signed a peace treaty. Uh, CNN, there's another party to that issue you seem to have forgotten about.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010


 

The Korean "war"


If you just listen to reports on TV, you'll know one thing - that "crazy" North Korea fired artillery at a South Korean island today, killing a bunch of people, all because they're "trying to get attention" or there's some kind of "power struggle" because Kim Jong-Il is dying and the military is trying to assert its power.

But what actually happened? Well, you have to get past the first paragraph of the news to find out. First of all, it seems to be undisputed that the first artillery firing was done by the South, not the North, and into North Korean waters, although not "at" North Korea itself. Secondly, although the news keeps emphasizing this was a populated island, of the casualties on the side of the South, there were two South Korean marines killed and 15 wounded, along with just three wounded civilians. So either most of this island is actually occupied by the South Korean military, not civilians, or North Korean firing was directed at the South Korean troops "playing" war "games," and not random.

And thirdly, we learn that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon doesn't know much history: "U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned North Korea's artillery attack, calling it 'one of the gravest incidents since the end of the Korean War.'" Of course the Korean War, just like the U.S. occupation of Iraq, has not ended, since the U.S. refuses to sign a peace treaty with the North nor let its South Korean allies do so, mainly because the U.S. refuses to give assurances not to attack North Korea. We wouldn't want to rule out "all options," don't you know.

Oh, and fourth, the South has launched an attack on the North as well. How many casualties resulted from that, and what kind of targets were attacked, we don't know.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010


 

That pesky "complication" called the legal system


The Los Angeles Times, no doubt reflecting the view of the entire ruling class, gives us the news - "U.S. civilian court acquits ex-Guantanamo detainee of all major terrorism charges" - and then opines: "The verdict involving a suspect in the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa may complicate efforts to try Sept. 11 defendants in nonmilitary U.S. courts." Yes, because we "know" he's guilty, after all, so obviously there must be something wrong, and ultimately unacceptable, about a court system which would find him not guilty.

Ah, but not to worry, because even though he's only been found guilty on a "lesser charge", he "may still face life in prison without parole." Just like a lot of other people who, thanks to the (il)legal system in place, won't get to have a trial at all, just the sentence (ok, technically, not a sentence either, just the end result).


Wednesday, November 10, 2010


 

The dishonest broker


President Barack Obama responds to an Israeli announcement of 1800 (!) new housing units (1000 in one place, 800 in another, all of them racist to the core in that they are intended for Jews only) in occupied Palestine by calling the action "never helpful." Really? That's it? Because there are about a billion things that are "never helpful" to the alleged "peace negotiations" that are (not) going on. McDonald's Happy Meals. Glee. Avocados. All those things are "never helpful" to peace negotiations. What Israeli colonization is, is hurtful to the "peace process." "Damaging" if you like. "Fatal" even. Anything stronger than "never helpful."

But that wasn't all Obama, the "honest broker," had to say. Oh no. He had to follow that up with the usual shared blame: "I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough." Right. So Israel should make an "extra effort" to refrain from building more settlements, and Palestinians should make an "extra effort" by not criticizing them and boycotting peace talks if they do.

Of course the settlements aren't the only "extra effort" that Israel is going through not to help any peace process, but to scuttle it. Just today, for example, they abducted the secretary general of the Palestinian parliament in the West Bank city of Ramallah. I wonder if Obama will describe that action as "unhelpful." Chances are he won't have to, because although it was reported by Press TV and various Middle Eastern news outlets including Israeli ones, it's unlikely this news, like so much other news about Israeli actions against Palestinians, won't appear in U.S. media and Obama won't be bothered with having to address the subject.


Thursday, November 04, 2010


 

"We're taking back our country"


First of all, who is this "we" and "our" that the right-wing is talking about? The "real" Americans, as opposed to the fake, Kenyan-born ones who have been in power for the last two years? The "white" ones instead of the Black and Latino ones? And what is this "taking back"? Was there a coup that "took" the country away from the people I don't know about? Were the current crop of elected officials not put in office by the same electoral process that just put the new crop in? [Actually it wasn't quite the same, since there was less corporate money involved, but we'll let that slide]

We the people of this country, the working masses of the country, do need to "take the country back." But we need to take it back from the corporations, not by putting one group of corporate-friendly politicians in office in place of another one.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010


 

The fightin' Dems!


Today's headlines:By the way, that last headline comes as no surprise, just as Obama's actions since becoming President have come as no surprise. Despite liberals desperately thinking that somehow Obama and Brown were of a similar mind, the truth was as evident in Brown's campaign as it was in Obama's. If you voted for Brown, you definitely will get what you asked for.


 

The Red Tide


Lead headline in the San Jose Mercury News this morning: "Brown, Boxer buck Red Tide" (with the last two words in red).

From Wikipedia: "Some red tides are associated with the production of natural toxins, depletion of dissolved oxygen or other harmful effects, and are generally described as harmful algal blooms. The most conspicuous effects of red tides are the associated wildlife mortalities among marine and coastal species of fish, birds, marine mammals, and other organisms."

Sounds about right, although it leaves out the effect on mammals, especially humans, and of course the blue water is polluted.


Tuesday, November 02, 2010


 

Endangering security


With every disclosure from WikiLeaks, we hear squeals from the government and military about how these leaks have endangered informants and other locals cooperating with the U.S. occupation (this despite the fact that there is zero evidence that has happened, and the extensive redacting of names done by Wikileaks).

So what do we find in today's news? The name and picture of the man who allegedly tipped off the Saudis to the toner cartridge bomb plot that just went down.


Why stop here? There's more...

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