Posted by: quiscus | May 20, 2010

May 20. 2010

1.  “Shaping the Story on Iran

The unanimity of view is particularly evident on the editorial pages where the neocons and the groupthink that they have fostered have become deeply embedded.  Everyone in the MSM agrees that Iran either already has nukes or is about to go nuclear and that the country shelters terrorists on every block, all colluding to attack a completely innocent and guileless United States.  Saturated with the propaganda, the American public more or less accepts that narrative.

How we Americans have arrived at this sorry point is somewhat difficult to explain.  That most media outlets have become parts of much larger corporations that are uninterested in challenging authority, making their news coverage a large dose of pablum, is clearly part of the problem.  The closure of most overseas newspaper bureaus hasn’t helped either as it has reduced the number of local reporters who might have applied their own insider knowledge to developing stories.  Also the use of embedded journalists in war coverage has meant that only reporters writing stories favorable to the Pentagon spin are given access to the “hot information.”  But the biggest factor has been the de facto takeover of many editorial pages by hardliners who perversely believe that the United States can resolve its problems by continuing with the so-called “long war,” a conflict in which Washington is fated to engage in never ending struggles against an enemy that is increasingly being seen around the world as all Muslims.

The media hypes the threat and keeps the story going so the public is acquiescent as more Americans die and countless billions of dollars are thrown down a money pit.  This is frequently accomplished by redirecting the narrative when the truth is somehow unpalatable.  If, for example, Israel’s bestiality towards the Palestinians is creating danger for American soldiers deployed overseas it is far better to write instead about how deeply concerned Israelis are about the “existential” threat coming from Iran.  That ignores the actual clear and present danger to Americans and moves the discussion to the completely theoretical threat experienced by Israelis, reinforcing along the way the old narrative about Jews as victims, not as persecutors.

How this process works in practice with Iran is not too dissimilar to the way it worked with Saddam.  Make up a bunch of garbage and let it fly, hoping that some of it might stick. ”

2.  “WikiLeaks works to expose government secrets, but Web site’s sources are a mystery

For an organization dedicated to exposing secrets, WikiLeaks keeps a close hold on its own affairs. Its Web site doesn’t list a street address or phone number, or the names of key officers. Officially, it has no employees, headquarters or even a post office box.

Yet, about 30 times a day, someone submits a sensitive document to this cyber-whistleblower to be posted online for all to see. Politicians’ private e-mails, secret CIA reports, corporate memos, surveillance video — all have been fair game.

WikiLeaks has pioneered an approach that capitalizes on its secretive nature. Lacking a home base or traditional infrastructure, it is almost entirely virtual, relying on servers and helpers in dozens of countries. It is accessible anywhere the Internet goes, yet it is relatively immune from pressure from censors, lawyers or local governments. Its founders say those who submit material to the site typically do so anonymously.

The goal, said Daniel Schmitt, one of WikiLeaks’ five core directors, is to make the organization unstoppable.

“The message of WikiLeaks to the controllers of information is this: You can either be transparent, or transparency will be brought to you,” he said.”

3.  “Special Place in Hell / Rebranding Israel as a state headed for fascism

No one knows fascism better than Israelis.”

4.  “Top Ten Other Gratuitously Offensive Draw-a-Cartoon Days

The juvenile “draw Muhammad” day has generally been avoided by professional editorial cartoonists. One Islamophobic theme apparent in the writing on it is that Muslims are peculiar in their thin-skinned responses to such assaults on their religious sensibilities and that members of other religions never riot or protest. This assertion is not only bigoted but it is silly. So here are some other needlessly offensive cartoon-drawing days that could be adopted by the jerks bothering Muslims today, just to show that they are jerks toward other communities as well. All these subjects have produced vigorous protests or rioting and violence among members of other religious traditions. Me, I think when you know people have died in violence over some piece of thoughtlessness, it is the height of irresponsibility to repeat it for no good reason.”

5.  “Professor of Mechanical Engineering Estimates that 4 Million Gallons of Oil are Leaking Every Day”

6.  “Just Like 9/11? Oil Spill Responders Are Getting Sick … But Are Being Told They Don’t Need Any Safety Gear

7.  “Spanish Judge Accused of Establishing the History of Atrocities committed by the Franco Dictatorship

“Senseless”, “astounding” , “unheard of” … The world press, human rights associations, and the finest international jurists can’t get over it. Why is the Spanish judicial system, which has done so much in recent years to punish and prevent crimes against humanity in many parts of the world, bringing charges against Baltasar Garzon, the judge who best symbolises the contemporary paradigm of applying universal justice?

Because at bottom this matter involves one central question: symbolically, what is to be done with the Spanish Civil War? The administrative decision taken in 1977 with the Amnesty Law (which in the short term was intended essentially to obtain the release from prison of a few hundred prisoners of the left) was not to do justice and not to impose any kind of policy with regard to memory.

Obviously 71 years from the end of the conflict, with all responsible parties deceased, the administration of justice cannot consist of physically trying those accused of abominable crimes. But this is not just a juridical matter. If it impassions millions of Spanish, it is because they feel that, beyond the Garzon case, what is at issue is the right of victims to moral reparation, the collective rights to memory and the possibility of officially establishing, on the basis of the atrocities committed, that Francoism was an abomination and that allowing it impunity is intolerable. It is essential to be able to say this, to proclaim it, and show it in “museums dedicated to the Civil War”, for example; in history textbooks; and on the solemn days of collective homage, etc. As is the case with all of

Europe in solidarity with the victims of Nazism.

Proponents of the “culture of concealment” are accusing Garzon of wanting to open a Pandora’s box and divide the Spanish people again. They are insisting that the other side committed crimes as well. They have not understood the specificity of Francoism. They behave like a journalist who, seeking to organise a “fair debate” on World War Two, gave one minute to Hitler and one minute to the Jews.

Francoism was not just the war (in which General Queipo de Llano asserted, “We must sow terror and eliminate without scruples or wavering all those who don’t think like us.”) ; it was above all, between 1939 and 1975, one of the most implacable authoritarian regimes of the 20th century which used terror in a systematic manner to exterminate its ideological opponents and frighten the entire population. This is not a political assertion; it is a historical fact.

The Amnesty Law led to the imposition, on the Francoist “banality of evil”, of a sort of official amnesia, or a mechanism of “unconscious blindness” (collective, in this case) by which a person makes unpleasant areas of his memory disappear. Until the day they boil back up to the surface in an fever of irrationality.

This what judge Garzon wanted to avoid. He wanted to reveal the malevolent nature of Francoism so that history would never repeat itself. Never.”

8.  “Supplanting the United States Constitution: War, National Emergency and the “Continuity of Governement”

9.  “Grotesque Global Financial System: Greece. Economic Theft on an Unprecedented Scale

Greece is a microcosm of a modern class war rarely reported as such.

At 11 per cent, Greece’s budget deficit is no higher than America’s. However, when the Papandreou government tried to borrow on the international capital market, it was effectively blocked by the US corporate ratings agencies, which “downgraded” Greek debt to “junk”. These same agencies gave triple-A ratings to billions of dollars in so-called sub-prime mortgage securities and so precipitated the economic collapse in 2008.

What has happened in Greece is theft on an epic, though not unfamiliar, scale. In Britain, the “rescue” of banks such as Northern Rock and the Royal Bank of Scotland has cost billions of pounds. Thanks to Gordon Brown and his passion for the avaricious instincts of the City, these gifts of public money were unconditional, and the bankers have continued to pay each other the booty they call bonuses and to spirit it away to tax havens. Under Britain’s political monoculture, they can do as they wish. In the US, the situation is even more remarkable. As the investigative journalist David DeGraw has reported, the principal Wall Street banks that “destroyed the economy pay zero in taxes and get $33bn in refunds”.

In Greece, as in America and Britain, the ordinary people have been told they must repay the debts of the rich and powerful who incurred them. Jobs, pensions and public services are to be slashed and burned, with privateers put in charge. For the EU and the IMF, the opportunity presents to “change the culture” and to dismantle the social welfare of Greece, just as the IMF and the World Bank have “structurally adjusted” (impoverished and controlled) countries across the developing world.

Greece is hated for the same reason Yugo slavia had to be destroyed physically behind a pretence of protecting the people of Kosovo. Most Greeks are employed by the state, and the young and the trade unions comprise a popular alliance that has not been pacified; the colonels’ tanks on the campus of Athens University in 1967 remain a political spectre. Such resistance is anathema to Europe’s central bankers and regarded as an obstruction to German capital’s need to capture markets in the aftermath of Germany’s troubled reunification.

Shock therapy

In Britain, such has been the 30-year propaganda of an extreme economic theory known first as monetarism, then as neoliberalism, that the new Prime Minister can, like his predecessor, describe his demands that ordinary people pay the debts of crooks as “fiscally responsible”. The unmentionables are poverty and class.”

10.  “If Its Is Good For General Motors,
Is It Good For The Rest Of Us?

Once the high-pressure political rhetoric and the high-fallutin scholarly jargon is set aside and undeniable economic and social facts are brought to the fore, the conclusion is inescapable: totally unregulated, laissez-faire capitalism cannot work, and attempts to make it work can only lead to oligarchy: opulent wealth for the very few, poverty for all others, and the disintegration of social order and the just rule of law. In addition to all that, oligarchy leads, paradoxically, to the destruction of the free market for, as history testifies and we are discovering anew in the daily news, oligarchy detests competition and leads to monopolies. Hence “mergers and acquisitions.”

11.  Because they DON’T care what God wants.  Oh, and they are ignoring the New Testament:

Why Are So Many Christians Conservative?”


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