August 18, 2011

The Faulty Prism of News

"Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers is another." -- G. K. Chesterton

"The United States is unusual among the industrial democracies in the rigidity of the system of ideological control -- indoctrination, we might say -- exercised through the mass media."  -- Noam Chomsky

It's a habit. You come home after a tiring day's work, relax into your easy-chair, switch on the box and flick the remote until you get to your favorite channel for the 6 o'clock news, or if home is your base you simply switch seats (& boxes) as you unwind, waiting to see what made the news. On the weekend you tune in to the Sunday talk shows to hear the talking heads give you their take on what you saw (or missed) during the week that was. Other than the latest sporting event or Hollywood or political scandal, this is pretty much how the average Joe and Jane are accustomed to getting their news today.

Most don't stop to even wonder whether they are getting the full story or the real facts, simply trusting that those who make a living from reporting the 'news' will get the story, since no one wants to look bad by being 'scooped'. According to their political leanings they seek out the media that will reinforce (rather than challenge) their cherished beliefs. Ironically, while people who live under regimes where the press is known to be controlled by the State are in the habit of making mental adjustments for that fact, those who live in societies with a so-called 'free press' seldom question whether the reporting is indeed free of State propaganda or nationalistic bias. Even today most remain unaware that shortly after WWII the CIA commenced Operation Mockingbird, under cover of which it successfully infiltrated every major news organization using operatives and payoffs ("You could get a journalist cheaper than a good call girl, for a couple hundred dollars a month." - CIA). More than six decades later, the operation remains as vibrant and pervasive as ever.

For those whose sensibilities are naturally repulsed by the continuing stream of one-sided journalism though, the world-wide-web has opened up new avenues through the use of blogs and alternative news sources, which are starting to open the eyes of many to the faulty prism through which most Western news outlets spin their questionable reporting. The following are but a few current examples of the wide disparity between what ends up being disseminated via Western news media and the reality of the situation on the ground for those who happen to find themselves on the other side of state-sanctioned actions.

See also:  How did Americans get so utterly clueless about world events? (Hint: It was no accident.)

Over 160 children reported among drone deaths

August 11th, 2011 | by | Published in All Stories, Covert Drone War  |  7 Comments
Sameeda Gul - Getty Images
 Six-year-old Sameeda Gul was injured in a drone strike in Pakistan on October 21 2009.
The Bureau has identified credible reports of 168 children killed in seven years of CIA drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas. These children would account for 44% of the minimum figure of 385 civilians reported killed by the attacks.
Unicef, the United Nations children’s agency, said in response to the findings: ‘Even one child death from drone missiles or suicide bombings is one child death too many.’ 
Child deaths

2009.08.21 Syed Wali Shah Aged 7, killed in strike Ob32 / Noor Behram
Children have been killed throughout the seven years of CIA strikes.


The Invisible Dead and “The Last Word”:
Lawrence O’Donnell ‘Rewrites’ the Occupation of Afghanistan

By Nima Shirazi*

“It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder.”
- Albert Einstein
On Saturday August 6, 2011, a U.S. military Chinook transport helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, killing 30 American soldiers, including 17 elite Navy SEALs, and eight Afghans. The mainstream news media was awash with somber reports about this being the “deadliest day” for U.S. forces in the ten years since the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan began.
Notably, many news outlets such as ABCNBCCBS, and The Washington Post claimed the helicopter crash and its 30 American casualties marked the “deadliest day of the war”, without adding the vital qualification, “for United States military personnel.” Even the progressive website Truthout provided its daily email blast that day with the headline: “Deadliest Day in Decade-Long Afghanistan War: 31 Troops Killed in Shootdown.”
The obvious implication of these reports was that on no single day since October 7, 2001, when the U.S.-led invasion and bombing campaign began, had as many people been killed in Afghanistan as on August 6, 2011.
Perhaps most brazen and sanctimonious regarding this claim was MSNBC‘s primetime anchor Lawrence O’Donnell. Introducing the “Rewrite” segment of his Monday August 8 broadcast of “The Last Word”, O’Donnell looked directly into the camera and, in his measured and most heartfelt serious voice, told his viewers:
“This weekend saw the worst single loss of life in the ten years of the Afghan War.”
He was lying. Unless, of course, like so many Americans, O’Donnell doesn’t count Afghan civilians as human beings worthy of being allowed to stay alive. In fact, the invisibility of the native population of Afghanistan is so ubiquitous in the American media, O’Donnell and his writers probably didn’t even think they needed to acknowledge civilian death tolls at the hands of foreign armies. As General Tommy Franks, who led the invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, told reporters at Bagram Air Base in March 2002 when asked about how many people the U.S. military has killed, “You know we don’t do body counts.”
After showing a video clip of CIA Directer-cum-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s statement that the helicopter crash served as “a reminder to the American people that we remain a nation still at war,” O’Donnell took seven minutes of airtime to lecture his viewers about a country that has forgotten the hardships of warfare, due to the absence of a draft or rationing or war taxation. Clearly passionate and frustrated, he rhetorically wondered, “What kind of nation would need to be reminded that it is still at war?” He continued,
“There will be other nights for us to discuss the way forward or the way out of Afghanistan. Tonight is not that night. Tonight is for reminding this nation that it is indeed at war. And tonight is for reminding the nation of the price of war. The ultimate sacrifice.”
At this point, O’Donnell displayed photographs of some of the soldiers killed in the crash while delivering brief biographies, a sort of “Last Word” eulogy for the dead.
In his effort to tug at his viewers heartstrings, O’Donnell told us of one young soldier who had only “been in Afghanistan for less than two weeks.” Another was described by his mother as “a gentle giant.” A SEAL Team 6 member also killed in the crash, we were told, had a wife, a two-year-old son and a two-month old baby girl while another solider was survived by his pregnant wife and three children. O’Donnell eulogized one of the deceased servicemen by telling us of his personal history as a high school wrestler and his lifelong dream of becoming a Navy SEAL.
O’Donnell concluded the segment with the assurance that none of the family members of those soldiers who had died – as opposed to the million of Americans whose lives are totally unaffected by the ongoing occupation – needed any “reminding” that “we are a nation at war.”
Never once during this paean to the military did O’Donnell make even a passing reference to the thousands upon thousands of Afghan men, women, and children killed by U.S. and NATO forces in their own homeland, their own country, their own towns, their own communities, their own homeshospitalsmosquesandschools, and at their own weddings.
The Afghan village of Karam was completely destroyed on October 12, 2001 when American forces dropped a one-ton bomb on it and killed over 100 people. On October 21, 2001, “At least twenty-three civilians, the majority of them young children, were killed when U.S. bombs hit a remote Afghan village,” according to areport by Human Rights Watch.

Iran vs Israel: What The Media Wants You To Forget

The corporate media have been given their orders to throw the focus back on to Iran.
Here is a recap of what they are trying to make you forget.
5. Iran allows IAEA inspections of all its facilities.
6. Contrary to face-saving claims, it appears that the US and Israel were both caught off guard by Iran's announcement of a planned underground (to avoid being bombed) enrichment facility. The reasoning is simple. Had the US or Israel announced the existence of he new facility before Iran's notified the IAEA, it would have put Iran on the defensive. As it is now, the US and Israel seem to be playing catch up, casting doubt on the veracity of Israel's claims to "know" that Iran is a nuclear threat.
7. The IAEA and all 16 United States Intelligence Agencies are unanimous in agreement that Iran is not building and does not possess nuclear weapons.
9. Israel made the same accusations against Iraq that it is making against Iran, leading up to Israel's bombing of the power station at Osirik. Following the invasion of 2003, international experts examined the ruins of the power station at Osirik and found no evidence of a clandestine weapons factory in the rubble.
10. The United Nations has just released the Goldstone Report, a scathing report which accuses Israel of 37 specific war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza earlier this year. Israel has denounced the report as "Anti-Semitic (even though Judge Goldstone is himself Jewish), and the United States will block the report from being referred to the War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague, thereby making the US Government an accessory after-the-fact.
13. Declassified documents from the former South African regime prove not only that Israel has had nuclear weapons for decades, but has tried to sell them to other countries!
We all need to be Joe Wilson right now. We need to stand up and scream, "LIAR!" at every politician and every talking media moron that is pushing this war in Iran. And we need to keep dong it until they get the message that we will not be deceived any more.
Israel wants to send your kids off to die in Iran, and YOU are the only one that can stop them.  

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