Saturday, February 27, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
Guilt by association? I'd say! Though John and Reinaldo are almost never associated in the US press - where John and Diana are treated as royalty. There is, of course, much more evidence of guilt for Negroponte's involvement with Battalion 3-16, among a host of other vile atrocities. Negroponte was even involved in the recent coup d'etat in Honduras.
Her Royal Highness Diana hails from thoroughly British corporatist and royalist stock. She is a descendant of King Charles, II and a daughter of Sir Charles Villiers, a merchant banker who was the chairman of British Steel from 1974 until 1988. Of course, for those to whom much is given, much is expected, and her many philanthropic causes include service as a trustee of Freedom House, whose web site claims, "Freedom House has opposed tyranny around the world, including dictatorships in Latin America...". Really now. Gilded irony?
Robert Parry has reported that veteran CIA officer Walter Raymond Jr. was recruited to lead Ronald Reagan's National Security Decision Directive 77, which called for "the creation of an inter-agency public diplomacy mechanism that included the use of seasoned intelligence specialists  to sway the media, the Congress, and American public opinion in the direction of the Reagan administration’s policies." Parry documents how the lost chapter of the Iran/Contra Report was deleted as part of a compromise to appease house Republicans such as Dick Cheney. We see how Freedom House both lends HRH Diana an air of do-goodedness and becomes an avenue for propagating the very repression they purportedly oppose. Parry writes,
In line with its clandestine nature, Raymond also suggested routing the “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.”Ok, now for the association with NPR. I know this is a loose association, since the Brooking institute is so huge, but I find it incriminating all the same: Ms. Negroponte is a senior visiting fellow at the Brookings Institute where Antoine W. van Agtmael is a trustee. Mr. Agtmael is president and CIO of Emerging Markets Management, LLC and a great advocate for exploiting opportunities of ballooning numbers of new consumers in Asia and other "emerging markets," a phrase he claims to have coined. It so happens that Antoine is also, wouldn't you know, chair of the NPR Foundation.
More significantly (perhaps ), Mr. Agtmael is a trustee at the Washington National Opera, where HRH Negroponte was pictured above at their Golden Gala. Also in attendance were Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz.
Here's a little thought experiment:
Remember those Freedom Fightin' Contras from the 1980s - you know, the ones who killed and tortured tens of thousands of Nicaraguan civilians and were organized out of the Reagan White House by Col. Oliver North (and other assorted criminals such as John Negroponte, Dick Cheney, and our current "bipartisan" Secretary of War, Robert Gates!)? Imagine, for a moment, that a team of assassins assumed to be working for the current Nicaraguan government murdered Oliver North while he was staying at a hotel in Mexico City. Just consider that if, as the story broke, the government of Nicaragua refused to confirm or deny involvement in the killing, even though a majority of Nicaraguans believed their government committed the murder, and were actually celebrating and joking about the assassination. Now, is there anywhere but an alternative universe where NPR would run the following story (keep in mind that - except for the words in bold and italics - what follows is an exact transcript of an NPR aired on Thursday's ATC):
From NPR news, this is All Things Considered. I'm Robert Siegel.It's worth noting that NPR also featured Sheera Frenkel's racist, anti-Arab rubbish when she embedded with Israeli vigilantes last October.
The murder of Oliver North, a key figure in the Contra war against Nicaragua in Mexico City last month is causing diplomatic trouble for Nicaragua. Mexico City's police chief now says 26 people carrying forged European and Australian passports were involved in the plot, and he says he is 99 percent certain Nicaragua was responsible.
The E.U. has strongly condemned the use of those stolen IDs.
Nicaragua maintains official silence on the killing. Some Nicaraguan analysts are calling it a botched operation because the assassins left behind too many clues.
But it's a different story among many ordinary Nicaraguans who say they are proud of the assassins for eliminating a man held responsible for assisting in the systematic killing and torture of thousands of Nicaraguan civilians in 1989.
Sheera Frenkel reports from Managua.
Frenkel : Nicaraguan Daniel Zamora was caught unaware when Nicaragua's Channel 2 News informed him he had been named as a suspected assassin of Contra organizer, Oliver North.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Frenkel : His first response was to laugh. Great for me, I guess, he said. Then, the presenter asked if he was scared.
Zamora: (Through Translator) Actually, no. I guess I should have been scared, but they've managed to take out another terrorist, so it's better.
FRENKEL: Nicaraguan officials have refused to confirm or deny involvement in North's death. But across Nicaragua, news of the assassination has been met with a wink, a nod and new found pride in Nicaragua's spy agency.
Juan Cardona owns a bakery in Managua. For the past week, he's greeted his customers with jokes over the North assassination.
Cardona (Bakery Owner): (Through Translator) Listen, we're fulfilling the fantasies of many countries all over the world who want to do this but don't have the means. We have the means. It's a great thing, so we'll laugh at this and just move on.
Frenkel: He shrugs off international anger over the killing and the growing number of accusatory fingers pointed at Nicaragua.
Yesterday, Mexico City police released additional information about suspects involved in North's death. Ten of the 26 suspected assassins share names with Nicaraguans, a coincidence Mexico City police say is simply too great to be ignored.
Nicaragua is a small country where everyone knows everyone, says Cardona, so the operation could have been carried out by your neighbor, friend or customer.
In Nicaragua's left-wing daily, Barricada, education correspondent Miguel Lopez proudly wrote about being mistaken for one of the Mexico City assassins. Lopez said he even received phone calls from friends asking why he hadn't bought them cigarettes from the duty-free in Mexico. And in a small health food store in Managua, 37-year-old Jorge Rivera had been mistaken by a number of customers for an uncanny resemblance he bears to one of the alleged assassins.
He's not one of them, he says, but he's still proud of the work they did.
Rivera: (Through Translator) Every terrorist that is eliminated, we are happy about, we give our blessings. Who took him out? We don't know. But, of course, we have an interest in this man no longer being alive.
Frenkel: While some Nicaraguans have criticized their government for its alleged involvement in the killing, most have only taken issue with the supposed trail of evidence the assassins left in their wake.
Mexico City's advanced surveillance cameras caught what they say were the killers in various parts of the city, and airport immigration officials matched names and passport numbers to the images.
Britain, Ireland, Germany, France and Australia are investigating claims that false passports from their countries were used by killers to enter the country. And at least some of the Nicaraguans whose names appear on the suspect list are not happy about it.
Speaking to Nicaraguan TV last night, Jacobo Ruiz said he could not have been more surprised to see his name on the list of alleged assassins.
Ruiz: (Through Translator) They took our passport numbers without asking. It's a shock. We have no idea what kind of problems this will create.
Frenkel: Still, most Nicaraguans found time to joke as they pored over the photos of the 26 suspects. Fourteen of them were wearing glasses with thick frames And, according to Nicaraguan radio, that style is now being requested across the country. They're calling it "The Assassin Look."
For NPR News, I'm Sheera Frenkel in Managua.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Shepard Said NPR Should Advise Listeners About Military Contractor's Conflicts of Interests...and Then NPR Doesn't
In fiddling about with the Muckety map for NPR, I noticed that Colgen, LP is a client for both Fox News and NPR and that Colgen's CEO, General Robert H. Scales (ret) is a military analyst for these "news" outlets.
Sourcewatch has a good summary of the military analysts propaganda scandal.
Eyes on Fox has a little comparison study of Scales' reports to Fox and NPR from about 4 years ago.
In April of 2008, after being called on this underhanded propaganda, Alicia Shepard vowed to advise listeners that Scales is CEO of Colgen, a military contractor. She wrote,
Rather than toss Scales off the air and lose his practical and scholarly knowledge of the Army, in the future NPR should always be transparent and identify him as a defense consultant with Colgen. NPR's audience can evaluate what Scales says through that lens. NPR should also append a note to each archived Scales' appearances that indicates he is also a defense consultant with Colgen. What also is needed, and I believe NPR will now begin doing, is a more careful vetting of all experts before they go on air,But in this October 2009 story, Was McChrystal Wrong To Advise Obama Publicly?, Scales is described only as "(U.S. Army, Retired; Military Historian)." So much for that vow. A comment at the ombudsman's web site says it well:
"Scales appeared on different NPR news shows -- a total of 36 times in 2003...."
"Since February 2003, he has been on NPR 67 times, most often (28 appearances) on All Things Considered (ATC)."
"Rhame has appeared on NPR news shows 48 times -- 43 of them in 2003."
And how many times did you have serious critics of the entire US policy toward Iraq? Or experts who were right about the facts from the start. It is ok to get the military view that these retired officers present, but what about Scott Ritter, Chalmers Johnson, Noam Chomsky, Patrick Coburn, Robert Fisk, Juan Cole etc. Your coverage is heavily weighted toward active and former US government or military personnel.
Sent by MyTwords | 10:20 PM ET | 04-30-2008
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Today's WESun was just an unending litany of awfulness. Maybe because the puzzle segment is one of the few I usually enjoy, it was the most galling:
Take the name "Proust," as in Marcel Proust. Using these six letters, repeating them as often as necessary, spell a familiar bumper sticker with three words, 16 letters altogether. What bumper sticker is it?
It often happens that a puzzle decontextualizes its subject matter. In this instance, the recombinatory "Proust" seems most apt, since atomizing and recombining news nuggets for optimal Pentagon promotion is part and parcel of what seems to be the propagandizing agenda at NPR. Of course, Proust's most famous work is A Remembrance of Things Past, an activity which Americans are most emphatically urged to avoid. As Gore Vidal has observed, we are The United States of Amnesia.
So deliberately do we seek to "not look back," and to proclaim "Yesterday's Gone" - which is as much Obama's theme song as it was the Clintons' - that NPR's Jon Hamilton reported a while back (if my memory serves me well) that, In Future, Science Could Erase Traumatic Memories. The general thrust of the story is that scientific research into the role played by the protective molecular sheath around the brain cells of the amygdala and the role this sheath plays in the creation of traumatic memory may lead to a cure for PTSD . A drug that can dissolve this sheath and erase painful memories has been developed. Hamilton sees this as a pharmaceutical cure for people who suffer PTSD. But as the commentator at WebNewser who first called my attention to that story wrote,
What Hamilton doesn’t say is that without traumatic memories human culture would be a wasteland and humanity, itself, a thing of the past.Such a drug is certainly in the CIA mind control medicine chest, and perhaps many of the bathrooms of NPR staff.
Meanwhile, Americans are continually subjected to a sort of MSM version of Groundhog Day. In US Media Replays Iraq Fiasco on Iran, Robert Parry (his amygdaloid nucleus sheath intact) observes how many of the same voices of incestuous amplification that propelled us to invade Iraq are pounding the drums for violent action against Iran. Parry concludes,
But one might at least have hoped that the death and destruction in Iraq would have taught these media figures a painful lesson: that sometimes loose talk about foreign “enemies” can contribute to horrendous human suffering.When "human suffering" is run through the NPR anagram machine, it comes out, "Um, snuff hearing." That's what I had to do when subjected to the music of 4 Troops who sing - their amygdalic sheaths stripped bare - lyrics like,
Soon as we could see clearly through our big black eyeAs Dana Franchitto (Heaviest Cat) wrote in the NPR comments at this story
Man, we lit up the world like the fourth of July.
Unfortunately,this kind of pro-war puffery has displaced critical thinking on "public" radio.
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Running a series called "Going Radical," NPR claims the mantle of "investigative journalism" as it works to shore up the military and foreign policy interests of the United States. Instead of investigating how - under the rubric of a "war on terrorism" -
- the tradition of Constitutional law in the US was chucked in favor of unrestrained surveillance, illegal detention, disappearances, assassination and torture, or
- an unsuccessful businessman/crook of low to middling intelligence became so radicalized that he lead the US into two wars of aggression against two predominately Muslim states based on propaganda and manufactured intelligence, or
- the state of Israel was brazenly supported by the US government through two massive military assaults (Lebanon & Gaza) targeting civilians and in enacting policies against Palestinians that are tantamount to genocide, or
- how someone goes from a position of privilege to one of radically bragging about committing an international crime for which the penalty on conviction is death or life imprisonment,
The star of NPR's Going Radical series is Dina Temple-Raston (NPR's resident FBI spokesperson). She hosts three of the features in the series:
- Her Thursday morning piece is a thing of twisted beauty. In a matter of minutes she is able to conflate anti-Guantanamo, anti-torture activism with terrorist extremism. She notes that ex-GITMO detainee Moazzam Begg spoke at a University College London 2007 "Terror Week" event. First she ties Begg to Abdulmutallab by stating, "People who attended the conference say Begg and Abdulmutallab were sitting next to each other" and concludes that "when Abdulmutallab started meeting people like Moazzam Begg, he was exposed to vitriolic and very anti-American views." What is it with these people who've been kidnapped and tortured by the US being so vitriolic and anti-American? - sheesh!
- On Thursday afternoon Temple-Raston is back to highlight a character who features in all three of her reports, a Hitchenseque fellow named Shiraz Maher who used to recruit for Islamic extremism, but is now firmly in the camp of rationalizing Western exceptionalism, state repression and aggressive Zionism. His writing can be sampled in Standpoint Magazine where he takes a stand on Israel's annexation wall:
"We tend to hear only about Israel's because of the news coverage and hippy activism it attracts. No other security fence has attracted quite as much attention and theirs - that despite Israel suffering a torrent of terrorist attacks from 2000-2003....where is the ‘fairness' and ‘consistency' that Islamists and their leftist cheerleaders continually complain about?"It is telling that there actually is another former recruiter with a similar story to Mr. Maher's. His name is Maajid Nawaz, but instead of excusing the "western" security state or Israeli aggression - he brings a far more compassionate, nuanced approach to the lessons he's learned.
- Finally on Friday afternoon Temple-Raston - like our President - plays the role of judge, jury and executioner. Remember Anwar al-Awlaki, the US citizen targeted for assassination by the US government (see post below)? Speaking of al-Awlaki as if she were discussing him receiving a traffic ticket, Temple-Raston explains that
"The U.S. has been trying to bring him in for questioning for years. After the Fort Hood attack, it even launched a missile strike on one of his houses in Yemen, but he survived the attack."Hey, but he deserves extrajudicial execution because Robert Siegel opens the piece with the damning evidence that
"He's admitted to knowing Abdulmutallab. But their relationship, according to intelligence officials, goes far deeper than that. In fact, NPR has learned that al-Awlaki may have been in charge of a small terrorist cell and that Abdulmutallab may have been his first al-Qaida recruit."Still not convinced? Temple-Raston lays it on:
"He is the same radical imam who was implicated in the Fort Hood shootings last year. He was in email contact with the suspected shooter, Major Nidal Hasan. And, apparently, he blessed that attack and then called Hasan a hero"and
"Al-Awlaki has always been a propagandist. If he actually mentored Abdulmutallab while he allegedly trained to bomb a U.S. airliner, that would mean al-Awlaki had moved into an operational role in the organization."Still not ready to lynch? Nothing like a huge dose of fear to nail the case: "What's more, officials tell NPR that they believe al-Awlaki was put in charge of more people than just Abdulmutallab. They believe he trained an entire cell of English-speaking recruits. Apparently, Abdulmutallab named names and provided locations to authorities. Law enforcement officials are looking for those young men now. Officials say they don't believe the young men are in the U.S."
Friday, February 19, 2010
In Alicia Shepard's defense of the Zinn offense, she writes,
After the flood of emails, I asked Sweeney to take another listen.So it was NPR Managing Editor David Sweeney who green-lighted sicking the attack dog Horowitz on Howard Zinn. Searching NPR for David Sweeney doesn't produce the usual bio. Perhaps he's too new on the job? Or too much of a spook for words?
He agreed the Horowitz quote is harsh in tone. "That doesn't undermine the legitimacy of using his point of view," said Sweeney.
Googling "Sweeney NPR" finally led to this facebook pic of Sweeney.
According to a story in Webnewser, Sweeney was promoted last May:
By the way, the comment at the Webnewser site is quite interesting.
NPR Looks to Hire a Digital News M.E. As More Leadership Changes Are Announced (5/13/09)David Sweeney is assuming the position of Managing Editor. David will direct the daily editorial process -- determining which stories will be covered, how and by whom. The desks; Foreign, Washington, Science, National and the Newscast unit will all report to him. David's reputation as a clear decision-maker and the manager who anticipates everyone's needs will be invaluable as we work to streamline communication and coordination and help shows and online get what they need. He will initially work a Tuesday-Saturday schedule to cover the start-up of the Newsdesk and will report to Dick.
"Dick" is Dick Meyer, who was also shuffled in during the NPR management shakeup last May. He was plucked from CBS to become the Executive Editor of NPR news. I guess that's what Alicia means about NPR being a Main Stream Media organization.
So Sweeney answers to Dick Meyer who answers to Kinsey Wilson, a brilliant investigative journalist (heh) who cut his teeth at that muckraking outfit, USA Today.
From 2000-2005, Wilson was Vice President and Editor-in-Chief of USATODAY.com. He expanded the mission and staffing of the site, developed third-party partnerships and led the staff through coverage of major news events including the disputed 2000 presidential election, the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington, the Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina.Yeah, remember all the ground-breaking exposes about those issues in USA Today?
Who does Kinsey answer to? Hard to tell. I invite the reader to go to Muckety and see if you can figure this behemoth out.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
On Saturday, February 13, 2010, according to Reuters (and several other outlets)
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Reuters) - Thousands of Floridians demonstrated against moves to allow offshore oil drilling on Saturday along the east and west coasts of the state in a protest dubbed "Hands Across the Sand."
I thought maybe I missed a mention of it on NPR, so I did a search on their website—‘offshore oil drilling protests in Florida’ --- and came up with zero results. Then, I decided to do a search on their website for Tea Party protests and came up with 47 results. Do we need rocket science to conclude why NPR would spend precious air time covering every move the tea party makes like the for-profit conference in Nashville with only 600 attendees and ignore statewide protests of offshore oil drilling with 1000’s in attendance?
There are countless examples of NPR’s convenient omissions that protect their right wing brethren. The day the Minnesota election results were finalized was the last time I heard Al Franken mentioned on NPR. However, I did a search on their website for Al Franken and got 298 hits. This is after he’s been in office for more than six months. Scanning most of the Franken hits, I found they were mentions associated with his role on the Judiciary Committee during Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation.
Al Franken’s win in Minnesota was not exactly a mean feat unless you’re a right wing media outlet. With Franken, the accolades are omitted. NPR announced
Democrat Al Franken won Minnesota's Senate race Tuesday…
In contrast, NPR raved about Scott Brown, the recent winner in the Massachusetts Senate race, ad nauseum. Recently, I searched the NPR website for his name and there were an impressive 706 results! This is after he’s been in office less than a month.
Consider the language from NPR’s website for Scott Brown.
Senate’s New Maverick, Takes His Seat
- The GOP’s new ‘IT’ boy
As I see it, self-censorship reigns with NPR’s carefully crafted ‘embellish and/or omit’ policy that serves their puppetmasters while ‘protecting’ their listeners from the truth.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Wow...the power to post on the front page! That's awesome! With it comes some responsibility, I suppose. I must train myself to refrain from referring to Scott Simon as a "moist flushable wipe." That's gonna be hard, but I can do it!
My antithapy to the well-liked Simon demands some explanation. I liked Simon well enough until the unilateral invasion of Afghanistan when he spoke and wrote in support of the so-called "war on terror." Simon wrote an op-ed for the October 11, 2001 WSJ titled, "Even Pacifists Must Support This War" whose tone was condescending towards people who didn't see the wisdom of unilateral pre-emptive invasion and occupation of a sovereign country. In the first paragraph he likens the anti-war protesters who were clogging streets of major cities around the world as "a Halloween parade."
After more confused and "holier-than-thou-because-thou-art-too-holy" polemics, SS determines that
The war against terrorism does not shove American power into places where it has no place. It calls on America's military strength in a global crisis in which peaceful solutions are not apparent.Here he implicitly endorses a pivotal flaw in his argument: that a "war on terror" fought with military might makes any sense in the first place. (See Lakoff on this.)
I don't know if SS is a deliberate shill for the war machine, or if he actually believes his own drivel. He seems to actually believe it - but how convenient to believe such nonsense when it allows you to collect a giant salary for very little effort (I'd guess he shows up in the studio maybe 40 days of the year.) If he is a true believer, then he is a useful idiot for military/industrial/bankster complex who have profited hugely from the invasion/occupation.
Howard Zinn responded to SS's nonsense in December of 2001, saying of Simon
He tried to use the pacifist acceptance of self-defense, which approves a focused resistance to an immediate attacker, to justify this war, which he claims is "self-defense." But the term "self-defense" does not apply when you drop bombs all over a country and kill lots of people other than your attacker. And it doesn't apply when there is no likelihood that it will achieve its desired end.No duh, huh? No wonder the folks at NPR were sore enough with Zinn to invite Horowitz to opine at his NPR obit.
What makes it all the worse is that these "just war" zealots never really bother to examine their cause in any detail. Where is SS's response to bogus phone calls that Ted Olson has claimed to have received? Simon lumps questions about 911 together with believing in Martians questioning the moon landing. It's this sort of intellectual dishonesty that makes me loathe Scott (MFW) Simon (oh, damn, I'm trying to resist it, I really am!) - whether he is a true believer (useful idiot) or not.
Afterthought 1: Helena Cobban wrote more considerately about Scott Simon in in The Friends Journal a few years ago. She labels him aptly as a Liberal Hawk, but says,
Of course, we should not engage with these former liberal hawks in any kind of a gloating way that says, "Ha! We were right and you were wrong." Instead, we could simply invite them to join with us in reflecting more deeply on what went wrong with the project to improve Iraqis’ lives through the application of military force, and to entertain the idea that now and in the future, when we are concerned about harms suffered by vulnerable others in distant places around the world, there are ways for our country to respond that would be a lot more effective than the use of military action—even if this action is dressed up in the fine (though very misleading) words "humanitarian intervention." We need to strengthen our country’s commitment to the UN and the essentially egalitarian principles it embodies. We need to work hard to develop the capacities of all nations—including our own—in nonviolent conflict resolution and the nonviolent prevention of future wars. And we all need to work much harder than we have thus far to build the kind of equitable world order that is needed to enable all of God’s children to flourish, in whichever part of the globe they’re born.Fair enough. Though the UN doesn't seem to have redeemed itself well in places like Haiti and Liberia. And God ain't my daddy.
larry, dfh said...
I realized that the purpose of these npr shows, and the sleepy, reassuring voices of the hosts, is in fact to make us feel secure, and not ripped off.Yeah Scott Simon as much as says this in the third of the video clips posted here.
The distribution system is going to change [..] and people are not going to put up with the relation they used to have with the media [..] what we're hoping to do is to use whatever [trust] we have to [..] amuse, provide company for people in the lonely hours of the night, be with people during times of national tragedy, pass along a joke.Notably absent from his list are the hopes to
- report the truth
Afterthought #3 (yes, I am a ponderous fellow)
I may be faulted for describing the invasion of Afghanistan as unilateral and preemptive. See The Myth of Preemptive Self Defense for a more accurate accounting of this:
Both the United States and the United Kingdom notified the United Nations Security Council that Enduring Freedom was an exercise of individual and collectiveThe article continues to observe how this was a slippery slope that led to the unilateral and preemptive invasion and occupation of Iraq. Certainly, if it proves true (and there is significant unexplored evidence to support the contention) that 911 was a false flag operation of some sort, that would tend to undermine the legality of the invasion...to put it mildly.
self-defense in compliance with the terms of United Nations Charter Article 51, which permits the use of force in self-defense against an armed attack.
In 2008, a top UK judge observed that
If I am right that the invasion of Iraq by the US, the UK, and some other states was unauthorised by the security council there was, of course, a serious violation of international law and the rule of law.
For the effect of acting unilaterally was to undermine the foundation on which the post-1945 consensus had been constructed: the prohibition of force (save in self-defence, or perhaps, to avert an impending humanitarian catastrophe) unless formally authorised by the nations of the world empowered to make collective decisions in the security council ...
But then the niceties of the rule of law have been rendered quaint by the war-criminal Bush regime.