Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Week In Review: The Horror Of Shoddy News, Part Two.

After a 7 hour drive to Pine Knoll Shores, NC, I finally arrived at the hotel late in the evening. There was not much to do except watch some TV before I went to bed. So I checked out the latest edition of Hannity & Colmes. It seems that Fox’s dynamic duo was telling America about a great breaking news story of much importance. The story? Satish and Deepak Kalpoe was re-arrested for the disappearance of a blond white girl in Aruba.

Hannity & Colmes on this occasion (like many other occasions) were interviewing the foremost experts on the case. Would that be the prosecutors? Nope, it was Natalie Holloway’s parents. Hannity asked Dave Holloway if he knew what new evidence the prosecutors might have. His enlightening answer? “We don’t know.”

Hannity & Colmes weren’t the only ones on Fox covering that latest “startling developments” in the Holloway case. In fact, Fox News ran the story of the Kalpoe brothers being re-arrested for three straight days (maybe longer than that, but I wouldn’t know as I stopped watching). Each day it was covered as if it was breaking news. In fact, in the entire time that I was there, it seemed like the ONLY story that Fox was covering was the Holloway case and Hurricane Katrina. Fox wasn’t alone. CNN, MSNBC, and Headline News all ran an endless cycle of nothing, focusing on just these two stories. One would think that nothing else was happening in the world.

Meanwhile, real news outlets, like Democracy Now! were covering stories that were, how should we say this…more IMPORTANT.

A quick rundown of some headlines:

REPUBLICAN Congressman Walter Jones, of North Carolina announced he has 50 co-sponsors on a joint resolution that calls on President Bush to announce a plan for withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year. You might remember Representative Jones being the guy behind changing the name of French fries to “Freedom Fries” in the Congressional cafeteria. Jones wasn’t the only Republican to abandon Bush. Senator Chuck Hagel said that the US was getting “more and more bogged down” in Iraq. Hagel was the same Senator that mocked Dick Cheney’s claim that the Iraqi resistance was in it “last throes”. Hagel said of Cheney’s claim, “Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we’re taking. If that’s winning, then he’s got a different definition of winning than I do.” The Bush administration’s response? According to Gen. Peter Schoomaker, the Pentagon is drafting plans to keep over 100,000 troops in Iraq until 2009. Meanwhile, the US military is expected to complete a new detention center (read: prison) called Fort Suse. The Iraqi prison population has doubled in the past 6 months. Isn’t freedom wonderful?

And as it turns out, David Satterfield, the 2nd highest US diplomat in Baghdad has been implicated in the AIPAC spy scandal. You may not be aware of the AIPAC spy scandal as no one in the US is bothering to report it. It seems that a group of US officials are under indictment for providing classified information to AIPAC, a lobbying group that works to keep US foreign policy friendly to Israel. Aren’t we just great at “winning the hearts and minds” of the Iraqis?

Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld said on a visit to Peru that Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez was guilty of “anti-social, destabilizing behavior”. Perhaps Rumsfeld was talking about Chavez’s 70% popularity in opinion polls in his country. We can only guess Rumsfeld would like to see Venezuela as a more “stabilized” nation…like Iraq.

While the US has officially given support for Iraq being turned into an Islamic state, the Kurds weren’t so happy. One Kurdish politician said “It’s shocking. I can’t believe that’s what the Americans really want.” The Kurds weren’t alone. Iraqi feminist Yanar Mohammad, and dozens of other Iraqi women demonstrated in central Baghdad against the approval of a “fascist, nationalist and Islamist” constitution. She said, “We are fighting to avoid becoming second class citizens.” Other Iraqi women have seen the writing on the wall. Safia Tabel al-Souhail, who just months ago was hailed by the Bush administration as a symbol of a brighter future in Iraq, has come out against the Iraqi draft constitution and has said she plans on leaving the country. In February al-Souhail sat with Laura Bush during Bush’s state of the union address, holding up a purple finger showing she had recently voted in Iraq’s first elections since the invasion. Al-Souhail told the Independent of London that “When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It’s a big disappointment.”

The BBC is reporting that Hugo Chavez is attempting an economic experiment, that inserts democracy into the workplace. Chavez has put the workers of Alcasa, an aluminum plant, in charge of all management decisions. This follows similar experiments at Zanon ceramics in Argentina, that so far have been a complete success where World Bank capitalistic fundamentalism has failed.

In other labor news, a global coalition of 900 unions spread across 140 countries is launching an unprecedented campaign to organize workers at Wal-Mart around the world. Wal-Mart is the world’s largest retailer, and has a history of poor, if not illegal working conditions at their stores and facilities.

Meanwhile, Asher Weissgan, a West Bank settler who shot and killed four Palestinians, made remarks about his actions and Israel’s withdrawal of Gaza. Weissgan said, “I’m not sorry and only hope that somebody murders Sharon, too.”

In Pittsburgh, dozens of anti-war demonstrators attempted to shut down a military recruiting center. Two protesters were hospitalized at the hands of the police. Officers shot one woman with a Taser stun gun who was lying on the street. Another woman, who was 68 years old, was bit in the thigh by a police dog. Meanwhile, Jacob Herring, a police chief in Hallsville, Missouri, is suing Taser claiming that he was severely injured after being shocked with a Taser weapon during police training. Herring says he has suffered two strokes, loss and impairment of vision and hearing, neurological damage, and significant cardiac damage after being shocked with a Taser M26 during training last year.

In other police brutality news, in Texas a Peruvian man died after being pepper sprayed by police. Police pepper sprayed 45-year-old Edgar Vera after he allegedly resisted arrest. Police tried to arrest Vera for an outstanding warrant for a seat belt violation.

In Salt Lake City, Utah Bush addressed the local Veterans of Foreign Wars. Speaking of the 1,864 American troops who have died in Iraq, Bush said, “We owe them something. We will finish the task that they gave their lives for.” 2,000 anti-war demonstrators who gathered outside had other ideas in mind. Celeste Zappala, who co-founded Gold Star Mothers for Peace with Cindy Sheehan addressed the crowd, calling for the troops to be brought home from Iraq.

Bill Moyer, 73, wears a “Bullshit Protector”
flap over his ear while President George W. Bush
addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Bush then traveled to the tiny Idaho town of Donnelly, which only has a population of 130 people. You might think Bush would be free of protests there, but you’d be wrong. In this tiny town of 130 people, 200 anti-war protesters met Bush, issuing a citizen’s arrest warrant for the president. Laura McCarthy, whose son is in Iraq, said “President Bush probably breathed a sigh of relief when he landed in Idaho last night. But no matter where he goes, he’s going to find a Cindy Sheehan in every community across the United States. The name is going to be different, but the message is going to be the same.”

This as former US ambassador Joseph Wilson issued a statement defending Cindy Sheehan, saying “The Bush White House and its right-wing allies are responding to Cindy Sheehan and the military families’ vigil in central Texas in the same way that they always respond to bad news - by unleashing personal attacks and smears against her.”

Meanwhile Cindy Sheehan has announced that she will take her vigil on the road next month following Bush to Washington, D.C. She said she will launch a bush tour from Crawford starting on September 1st that will converge on Washington on the 24th for the major antiwar rally planned for that day.

This comes as opinion polls show that Bush’s approval rating has drooped to a new low. Gallop found that only 40% of Americans approve of Bush in their lowest findings to date. The American Research Group had a similar finding of just 36%. That is a lower approval rating than was Nixon’s at the height of the Watergate scandal.

Meanwhile, Representative Lynn Woolsey of California has announced that she will hold hearings on September 15th on how the US can leave Iraq. Woolsey said, “We’ll hear from academics, military personnel and other experts about strategies to achieve military disengagement while still playing a constructive role in the rebuilding of Iraqi society.”

The state of Connecticut has become the first state to challenge the No Child Left Behind Act in court. The state’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal file the suit arguing that Connecticut is not being reimbursed for the cost of expanding annual testing. The law bars the federal government from imposing unfunded mandates.

In medical news, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have issued a report determining that fetuses likely don’t feel pain until the final months of pregnancy.

Feeling the heat for his calling on the assassination of Hugo Chavez, Pat Robertson apologized a day later. Robertson said, “Is it right to call for assassination? No, and I apologize for that statement.” But strangely enough, prior to his apology, Robertson denied he ever made the remark on national television. On the 700 Club Robertson said, “I didn’t say ‘assassination.’ I said our special forces should ‘take him out,’ and ‘take him out’ can be a number of things including kidnapping. There are a number of ways to take out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted by the AP, but that happens all the time.” Let’s review Robertson’s comments from the day prior. “You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think we really ought to go ahead and do it.” Hmm. So in two days Robertson has violated 3 holy commandments. Number 6: “Thou shall not kill”. Number 9: “Thou shall not bear false witness”. And, according to Jesus, the 2nd greatest commandment of all, “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.”

As Robertson was calling for assassination, Reverend Jesse Jackson traveled to Caracas to offer support to Hugo Chavez. Jackson said, “Be very clear that the position taken by Reverend Robertson last week was not legal, was not moral, and it must be soundly rejected.” Jackson has reportedly also worked out a deal with Chavez in which poor Americans can purchase heating oil for this winter at reduced prices.

Meanwhile, Librarians are challenging the USA Patriot Act’s constitutionality of a clause that demands information about library patrons’ borrowing records. It calls the order to produce library records “unconstitutional on its face” and said a gag order preventing public discussion of the lawsuit is an unlawful restrain on free speech.

Louisiana is suffering a shortage of supplies to help with the cleanup after the disaster of Hurricane Katrina. Equipment of the Louisiana National Guard that could help in the clean up, such as high water vehicles like Humvees, refuelers, and electronic generators are being used in Iraq.

In other military news, Bunnatine Greenhouse, a high-level Pentagon official has been demoted after she publicly criticized the Pentagon’s decision to give Halliburton’s Kellogg, Brown and Root no-bid contracts in Iraq worth billions. Greenhouse, who has worked for the Pentagon for 20 years, and has served as chief overseer of contracts at the Army Corps of Engineers since 1998 said, “I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed.”

And at Guantanamo Bay, 89 detainees have resumed a hunger strike to protest their living conditions and continued detention without trial. The hunger strike was sparked by new rumors of violent interrogations, as well as a new incident of alleged desecration of a copy of the Koran.

And that’s the week in review, all the stories that Fox could not tell their viewers, in order to maintain their “Fair & Balanced” coverage of the daily news.


Blogger MiamiMiami said...

The real tragedy here is that any news agency, even Fox News, that is not focusing their attention on the human tragedy unfolding before us in the Gulf area should be ashamed. I honestly could care less about any politcal story going on now while I watch these folks literally dying in front of us on tv.

There comes a momnet in time when all of us need to drop what we are doing and just pitch in to help. Forget whatever ideaology and politcal difference and just get the job done.

I lived through a Category 5 hurricane in 1992. We though, well at least I thought, that I would neve see something as bad as Andrew. I was wrong. I was very wrong.

I can't stand to watch anything about politics right now with the thought of what's unfolding before all of us down in these Gulf states.

I am not an emotional guy but I swear I have to physically stop myself from bawling up and crying when I see what's going on down there. Having survived a hurricane more than a few times, including Katrina as a Category 1, I am praying that these folks find some ray of hope in this shitty mess.

Please keep these folks in your prayers and your thoughts tonight and every night.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Alva Goldbook said...

Wow, for once Miami, we completely agree. Like I said, I don't watch TV, but I've seen many of the images from the net. I visited my mom the other day and saw some of the carnage, and I literally had to turn it off as it was too disturbing.

I will soon be posting some links for those of you who wish to help out our fellow Americans in New Orleans. Having worked to some degree with some humanitarian organizations in the past, I can tell you right now that the best thing you can do is send money. The reason for this is that shipping supplies usually costs the aid agencies more money than they have. Sending cash allows them to buy the aid they need the most from the locals already down there who are helping out.

1:37 AM  
Blogger MiamiMiami said...

So then you will also agree with me that those who try to politicize this event are not only heartless but completely stupid....

3:33 AM  

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