Thursday, May 26, 2005

Democracy Now: Norman Solomon, Michael Massing, Ayelish McGarvey, Nancy Northup, Sylvia Enriquez, Bob Somerby, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Pamela Troy

Democracy Now! (Marcia: "always worth watching")
Headlines for May 26, 2005
- Amnesty: Guantanamo Bay is the "Gulag of Our Time"
- Amnesty: Sudan Is Suffering Worst Human Rights Abuses
- Iraq Plans to Deploy 40,000 in New Baghdad Offensive
- House Rejects Call for U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq
- Ex-Haitian PM Yvon Neptune Appears in Court
- U.S.-Supported Oil Pipeline Opens In Caspian Region
- Egyptian Police Beat Pro-Reform Protesters

FBI Files Show Guantanamo Detainees Reported Desecration of Koran Beginning in 2002One prisoner interviewed in August 2002, said that guards had flushed the Koran in the toilet. Others reported the Koran being kicked, withheld as punishment and thrown on the floor. On Wednesday, the American Civil Liberties Union released these newly declassified documents. [includes rush transcript]

Lies That Cost Lives: As Newsweek is Pressured Over Koran Report, Who Should Be Held Accountable For The Media's Mistakes Ahead of the Iraq Invasion?Last week the White House charged that "people lost their lives" because of an inaccurate Newsweek report on the desecration of the Koran at Guantanamo. Media analysts Norman Solomon and Michael Massing discuss government pressure on journalists and the media's coverage in the lead up to the Iraq war.

Dr. David Hager's Family Values: Should This Man Be Advising Bush on Women's Health?In a recent cover story, the Nation magazine examined the political and personal history of David Hager, a top advisor to the Food and Drug Administration. In the article, his former wife accused him of repeatedly raping her throughout their marriage. We talk to the reporter, Ayelish McGarvey, who broke the story and two women's health experts on how Hager's political views affect FDA policies on the morning after pill and other issues.

Now get ready for a lengthy excerpt from The Daily Howler. Here's Bob Somerby on the topic of Daniel Okrent:

But then, Okrent had to go after Krugman with those nasty, cosmos-class cheap shots (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/23/05), and he had to write that ludicrous item about the Times and Bill Moyers (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/24/05). And omigod! He had to vouch for his most famous column--the column in which he told the world that the Times is "a liberal newspaper." ("Of course it is," he blithely said.) That was one of the topics Okrent explored in his final public ed piece. Because the topic is so important--and because his item is so short--we'll cut-and-paste it in full:
OKRENT (5/22/05):
Last July, when I slapped the headline ''Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?'' atop my column and opened the piece with the catchy one-liner ''Of course it is,'' I wasn't doing anyone—the paper, its serious critics, myself—any favors. I'd reduced a complex issue to a sound bite. The column itself, I'll stand by; I still believe the paper is the inevitable product of its staff's experience and worldview, and that its news coverage reflects a generalized acceptance of liberal positions on most social issues.
For The Times's ideologically fueled detractors on the right, though, there was no reason to invoke this somewhat more complex analysis when they could paint my more incendiary words on a billboard: ''According to The Times's own Daniel Okrent.” I may wish they'd live by one of the same standards they ask The Times to adhere to—the fair representation of controversial opinions. But I handed them a machine gun when a pistol would have sufficed.
Of course, we criticized Okrent in real time for being so cavalier on this subject (see
THE DAILY HOWLER, 7/26/04). Anyone could have seen where this column would end--with kooky-con New York Times detractors saying it proved they'd been right all along about the paper's grotesque liberal bias. Okrent now says that he gave them a gun. But that was easy to see in real time.
But Okrent's mea culpa is just a tiny bit disingenuous. "The column itself, I'll stand by," he says. "I still believe the paper['s] coverage reflects a generalized acceptance of liberal positions on most social issues." But that isn't quite what the gentleman said when he slammed the Times for its "liberal" ways. Back then, he was a bit tougher on the Times. Here was the nugget statement from this,
his most long-lasting column:
OKRENT (7/25/04):
I'll get to the politics-and-policy issues this fall (I want to watch the campaign coverage before I conclude anything), but for now my concern is the flammable stuff that ignites the right. These are the social issues: gay rights, gun control, abortion and environmental regulation, among others. And if you think The Times plays it down the middle on any of them, you've been reading the paper with your eyes closed.
Okrent wasn't talking about politics-and-policy, he said--though anyone with an ounce of sense would have known that this would be ignored when he handed Times-trashers their license to vent. But how does the Times cover social issues--the "flammable stuff that inflames the right?"

"If you think the Times play it down the middle," you’re a blind man, Okrent said. Later, he expanded his criticism:
OKRENT (7/25/04):
[I]'s one thing to make the paper's pages a congenial home for editorial polemicists, conceptual artists, the fashion-forward or other like-minded souls...and quite another to tell only the side of the story your co-religionists wish to hear. I don't think it's intentional when The Times does this. But negligence doesn't have to be intentional.
According to Okrent, the Times has been "negligent" in covering these topics; the paper "tells only one side of the story." And then, he offered the "perfect example"--the Times' coverage of same-sex marriage.

There's more on Okrent and Somerby's dealing with Meet the Press and other topics as well. I'll steal from Marcia and apply her slogan (deserved) for Democracy Now! to The Daily Howler: "always worth reading."

But I will offer a (negative) criticism. Dallas and Brenda have already e-mailed wondering when today's Howler went up because they'd checked several times this morning.

At the top of The Howler, there's a heads up to an appearance that day by Bob Somerby, a radio appearance. Like Dallas and Brenda, I would've liked to listen but I missed it today.
This may have been a last minute thing or (like with me on any number of topics), it might have just slipped the mind. I'll look for an archived broadcast but I'm pretty sure that if you missed it, you missed it. Which is too bad because he was going to be discussing the Newsweek controversy. So our complaint can be boiled down as: please more lead time on the heads up.

Lloyd notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's latest Editor's Cut:

When the Republicans thought they were going to win the filibuster fight, they tried to change the term of art from "nuclear option" to "constitutional option." The GOP's lexicographer-in-chief, Frank Luntz, argued that "the implication of 'nuclear option' is way too hot and extreme." Even Trent Lott, showing a surprising lack of authorial pride, took up the new phrase, despite the fact that he personally had coined the old one.

From Guerrilla News Network, Terry e-mails "Public Backlash Over Private Water Deals:"

Water privatization was meant to solve a world crisis that has left more than two billion people without clean water or sanitation.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the private sector was seen by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and governments like Britain and France as the only way of raising the money needed, and international companies such as Suez, Thames and Biwater, encouraged by the IMF, rushed to privatize the water of the poor.
Many negotiated contracts which gave them monopolies for up to 30 years and guaranteed profits of up to 30-40%. Some companies ended up in the courts, accused of paying bribes to government officials.
Companies were also frequently accused of not delivering on their contracts. Prices shot up, people lost jobs, the poor often did not get the water promised, and discontent grew.
In the past decade there have been riots in Bolivia, after which western water companies were thrown out. There has also been discontent in Trinidad, Argentina, Ghana, South Africa and the Philippines.
Water privatization has become a subject of political debate in most developing countries – fiercely opposed by unions but widely backed by most governments.

From BuzzFlash, I'll note Pamela Troy's latest "Dangerous Clowns" -- this is the fourth part of the four part series. Here's an excerpt:

The far right was the first to establish a beachhead on the Internet in the early '90s, taking advantage of what was, for them, a promising demographic of mainly young white male techies from the middle class. An examination of exactly how this happened is the subject for another article. For the purposes of this piece, it's enough to simply state the early right-wing/libertarian dominance of the Internet as a given.
The resulting right-wing online echo chambers, which have dramatically sped up and broadened the dissemination of talking points, rumors, and grassroots campaigns, might not have invented the tactics of disinformation and personal attack, but they did help amplify their effects, while at the same time making them less obvious to a population still used to getting its news from television, the radio, and newspapers. Talk Radio has often been invoked as a detriment to intelligent discussion, and it certainly bears some responsibility for the decline in 21st century political discourse, but the effect of the Internet is just as often underestimated, perhaps because unlike radio, it’s less evident in the physical world. And the effect of these online and radio echo chambers on how their often youthful participants think about issues and grasp important elements of discussion like logic and context has been ignored, perhaps because the implications are too disturbing.

Read the series, it's worth reading and it's original content provided by BuzzFlash.

Also note that BuzzFlash is offering the DVD documentary Howard Zinn: You Can't Stay Neutral on a Moving Train.

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