Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Democracy Now: John Sifton on Afghan detainees, sanitizing war; Dahr Jamail, Bob Somerby ...

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching")
Headlines for May 24, 2005
- Senate Compromise Reached on Judicial Nominees
- Supreme Court to Hear First Abortion Case in Five Years
- 54 Die in String of Attacks in Iraq
- 20 Prominent Iraqis Assassinated over Past Month
- Saudi Women Denied Right To Drive Cars
- Up to 15,000 BBC Workers Stage One-Day Strike
- School Describes Student as "Black Girl" in Yearbook
- Sister Carol Gilbert Released From Jail

Afghan President Heads to Washington Amid New Reports Of U.S. Abuse In Afghanistan
On Monday President Bush met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Washington on Monday just days after the New York Times revealed that U.S. troops tortured and killed Afghan detainees at the Bagram airbase. We speak with John Sifton from Human Rights Watch.

Unseen Pictures, Untold Stories: How The U.S. Press Has Sanitized The War in Iraq
Images of thousands of dead U.S. soldiers helped to turn the tide of public opinion against the Vietnam War, but now photo-journalists are even banned from military funerals at Arlington national cemetery. A report this weekend in the Los Angeles Times documented the extremely rare publication of photos of American casualties in six major newspapers during a sixth month period. Readers of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Washington Post never saw a single picture of a dead serviceman or servicewoman in their morning papers. [includes rush transcript - partial]

Kyle e-mails to note Dahr Jamail's "Daily Life in Baghdad, from Afar:"

It's coming apart at the seams now in Iraq. We saw on the news today that members of the Mehdi Army in the south, the militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, exchanged gunfire with members of the ING (Iraqi National Guard) who in the south are primarily, if not entirely composed of members of the Badr Army, also a Shia group. So now we have Shia fighting Shia.
Meanwhile in Baghdad, things are just as bad. Abu Talat, my friend and interpreter, was speaking with his family who live in the al-Adhamiya district of the capital city. Just across the Tigris River from Adhamiya, which is predominantly Sunni, is the predominantly Shia Khadamiyah neighborhood.
A car bomb detonated inside Khadamiyah which killed at least one ING, so people in that area began firing guns across the Tigris into Adhamiyah. According to two sources in Adhamiyah, they confirmed there was heavy damage to several houses-broken windows, bullet pockmarked walls, etc. When people inside Adhamiyah began returning fire, a US warplane bombed a small mosque on the Adhamiyah side of the Tigris, for yet unknown reasons.
Abu Talat was talking via IM with his wife as she nearly fainted because bombs and gunfire were so near their home.
"What can I do," Abu Talat asked me from a nearby computer at an internet café, "My family is in great danger and what can I do to help them?"
I stared at him dumbly…there was no response.

Over at The Daily Howler, Bob Somerby has a mammoth post today. We're going to focus on his analysis of Okrent:

PART 2--SPAWN OF BERNIE: Dan Okrent's parting cheap-shot at Krugman should be sent straight to the Smithsonian (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/05). Krugman's a serious bum, Okrent said; he's "ideological" and he’s "unfair," and his columns are full of fake, phony numbers--numbers he has "shaped, sliced and selectively cited in a fashion that pleases his acolytes." But uh-oh! Absent-mindedly, Okrent forgot to give any examples, and his remarkably nasty claims come in his last "public editor" column. This leaves Krugman with the perfect dilemma--nothing to respond to, and nowhere to do it! Tailgunner Joe must be shaking his head at Okrent's slick demagogue touch.
What explains Okrent's odd behavior? We don't know, but the gentleman seems well-disposed to rants from the "angry male" right.
In his column, Okrent examines "13 Things I Meant to Write About but Never Did." Is Daniel Okrent an Angry White Male? The scribe's familiar Topic 5 sent our analysts straight to their consoles, where they did an odd thing--research:
OKRENT (5/22/05):Reader Steven L. Carter of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., asks, If "'Tucker Carlson is identified as a conservative"' in The Times, then why is "'Bill Moyers just, well, plain old Bill Moyers"'? Good question.That was Okrent's total analysis. "Good question," the editor typed, implying a familiar judgment--the Times is showing its liberal bias in the way it IDs Bill and Tucker. But as it turns out, Okrent's reader didn't present a "good question;" in fact, his question was a complete, total clunker. Sadly but typically, Carter's implied claims about the Times turn out to be impressively bogus. Is it true? Does the Times ID Carlson as a conservative but give a pass to "plain old Moyers?" A Nexis search of the past year shows this claim to be totally false--a fever dream straight from Bernie Goldberg's old swamps. Okrent, wading through the mire, buys the claim hook, line and sinker.

Somerby's dealing with other issues as well (it really is a mammoth entry) but regarding Okrent, he demonstrates what Okrent would have known had any done any research, the question is based on something other than reality.

What else is being dealt with? Finland, education, the true history of judicial nominees. Again, all worth reading.

Liang notes that over at BuzzFlash, Pamela Troy's "Dangerous Clowns" has a second installment:

In fact, a truly interesting, but overlooked aspect of Guckert is not his sexuality or his affiliation with Talon and GOPUSA, or even the undeniably fascinating question of how he got access to White House briefings using an alias, but his connection with a popular right-wing website called Free Republic, to which Mr. Gannon frequently contributed.
Free Republic is more than just a forum where like-minded people can post their opinions. It is used as a contact point for mobilizing right-wing activists on a grassroots level in a manner that sometimes goes beyond simply campaigning for a favorite candidate or pushing for changes within the context of our legal system.
Bands of right-wing toughs are not physically beating up the opposition, as was the case in Striecher’s Germany. After all, in the 1920s and 30s, there was no mass media as we know it. Political expression more often took the form of a speaker communicating directly with an audience in a hall. In such a society, one silences the opposition by physically preventing them from speaking, breaking up the meeting, making people afraid to either speak at such gatherings or attend them. Today, in a world with television, an Internet and widespread access to computers, silencing the opposition can be done more indirectly, through attacks not on the body of the person making a speech in an auditorium, but on the show, and more directly on the web site or discussion board where they are expressing their opinions. The right wing web site and forum Free Republic early on established a reputation for fomenting organized efforts among their members to skew national polls, flood discussion boards, and bring down websites they deem too "liberal." In fact, they ended up coining a term for this kind of activity – "freeping."

Lastly, Joey steers us towards Matthew Rothchild's "Progressive Radio" where the most recent half hour is an interview with Amy Goodman.

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