Sunday, August 07, 2005

Reporting from outside the US mainstream media

The atomic bomb that was dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima 60 years ago, on Aug. 6, 1945, may have been the most crucial event of the 20th century. But it was not the top news story. That was because censorship and the manipulative media treatment of the tragic event, managed by Washington and Tokyo, greatly muffled the impact of the catastrophe and made the press an accomplice in the war.
These conclusions are reached by a book written by Venezuelan journalist Silvia González, a researcher at the College of Mexico. "Hiroshima, la noticia que nunca fue" (roughly "Hiroshima, the News Report That Never Was") focuses on the bombing and its aftermath to demonstrate how news is censored and manipulated in times of conflict.
Six decades later, "manipulative practices are still repeated, at the direction of those in power, and the media disseminates inaccurate, hasty, exaggerated or biased reports, or just plain rumours, that can affect public perception even in the long term," said González in an interview with IPS.
At 8:12 AM on Aug. 6, 1945, as World War II was coming to an end, the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the uranium bomb nicknamed Little Boy, which detonated around 300 metres over Hiroshima - in order to make it even more lethal - producing an explosion that was the equivalent of 12,000 tons of dynamite. More than 80,000 of Hiroshima's 250,000 people are estimated to have been killed that day, and at least 60,000 died in the following weeks, as they fell victim to burns from the radiation and the fires caused by the bomb.
Three days later, the United States dropped a second nuclear explosive - a plutonium bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" - on the southern Japanese port city of Nagasaki, claiming another 80,000 lives and forcing Japan to an unconditional surrender.
On Aug. 7, 1945, newspapers in Japan merely printed short articles reporting that B-29 planes had dropped incendiary bombs on Hiroshima, causing some damage.
In the United States, by contrast, there was intense coverage. "The New York Times alone, the day after the bomb was dropped, used the words atom and atomic 209 times," according to González's study.

The above is from Humberto Márquez's "Hiroshima, the Top News Story That Wasn't" (IPS) and was e-mailed by Susan. We're in the midst of our entries on what's being reported outside the US mainstream media. (Another entry will focus exclusively on Iraq, as members know to expect.)

Chris e-mails to note a Reuters story in The New Zealand Herald, "Oil-for-food head resigns before explosive report:"

The former head of the scandal-tainted oil-for-food programme has resigned from the United Nations, hours before he is expected to be accused of getting kickbacks from the US$67 billion ($98.3 billion) operation.
A UN-established Independent Inquiry Committee, led by former US Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker, plans to release today its third interim report on allegations of corruption in the humanitarian programme for Iraq, which began in 1996 and ended in 2003. Benon Sevan, the former executive director of the programme, is to be accused of getting cash for steering Iraqi oil contracts to an Egyptian trader and of refusing to co-operate with the Volcker panel, his attorney Eric Lewis said. Sevan has denied the allegations.

Chris also notes Elizabeth Binning and NZPA's "Police get semi-automatic rifles, test stun gun" (also from The New Zealand Herald):

Frontline police are being trained in the use of military-style semi-automatic rifles and are to trial a 50,000-volt stun gun.
During the next few months frontline staff nationwide will do a three-day course in how to use a Bushmaster XM15 M4A3 weapon. And police will test the Taser stun gun, which has been linked to 70 deaths in the United States and was used in Britain in the arrest of one of the London bombing suspects. The gun fires a 50,000-volt charge causing the subject's muscles to contract uncontrollably.
The 880 new semi-automatic weapons will replace the old Remington rifles, which they have used since 1993. In Auckland, the first group of officers have already completed training.

Terrance e-mails to note "Why Bolton? He is the Man Bush Needs" ( China's People's Daily, via Watching America):

Fifty-six-year-old and a graduate of Yale law school, Bolton was Bush’s schoolmate. During the disputed 2000 presidential election, Bolton, was a "capable" member of the Bush legal team and performed meritorious service in winning a lawsuit for Bush. After Bush moved to the White House, Bolton was appointed Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security.
At the State Department, Bolton emits a hawkish air. Many people claim that he is "too haughty, and abuses his power to bully others," that "he has never been on good terms with his former superior Colin Powell" and that he has the "bad habit of coercing and retaliating against his subordinates."
In handling international relations, he always plays hardball. He once professed that the relationship between the United States and the world is like that between a hammer and a nail - and that the United States likes to pound whoever it wants. He especially despises the United Nations and opposes the payment of Washington’s overdue U.N. membership fees. One of his famous remarks goes like this: "The U.S. Secretariat Building in New York has 38-stories. If you lost 10 stories today, it wouldn't make a bit of difference." This implies that the United Nations is useless.

Skip e-mails to note Big News Network's "Australian workers picnic to keep rights" (The Australian Herald):

Australian workers and their families gathered Sunday for a picnic they say may be their last if new government labor laws go into place.
The Australian Broadcasting Corp. Reports thousands of people attended a picnic in Sydney.

Olive e-mails to note "Parents win new leave conditions" (Australia's ABC):

Workers will be able to request an extra 12 months of unpaid parental leave under new conditions introduced by the Industrial Relations Commission.
The commission has handed down its findings in a test case on balancing work and family commitments.
Parents will also be able to request that they return to work on a part-time basis until their child reaches school age.
Australia's peak union body, the ACTU, has welcomed the commission's decision.
But ACTU president Sharan Burrow says it is not clear how the Federal Government's planned changes to the industrial relations system will affect the new conditions.

Kara e-mails to note Moti Bassok's "Sharon names Olmert interim Finance Minister" (Israel's Haaretz):

Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stunned the political system Sunday when he announced he was resigning in protest over the disengagement plan. A few hours later, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon named Vice Premier and Industry Minister Ehud Olmert as acting finance minister in his stead.
Sharon, whose first response to the news was to declare that "the disengagement will continue," also moved swiftly to try to control the potential economic fallout: He telephoned Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer and senior treasury officials to assure them that the government would continue Netanyahu's economic polices, including sticking to the deficit and expenditure targets that the cabinet recently approved for the 2006 budget, and said that the full budget will be brought to the cabinet for approval Tuesday as planned.
Olmert, Sharon's associates declared, was a natural choice to succeed Netanyahu, since - aside from being Sharon's leading supporter in the cabinet - he already holds the second most important economic portfolio. However, Olmert also has frequently been a leading opponent of Netanyahu's policies in the cabinet.

Kara also notes Ruth Sinai's "Annual NII report to show 1.5m Israelis below poverty line" (also from Haaretz):

National Insurance Institution (NII) officials quipped Sunday that outgoing Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resigned to evade facing the 2004 poverty report to be released Monday.
While Netanyahu's resignation is aimed at achieving a political agenda, he is identified more than any other politician as the one who damaged the country's poor population, whose total reached nearly 1.5 million last year.
The poverty report shows the results of Netanyahu's policy in the last two years - primarily the drastic cut in income allowance for which he is so proud. Intended to drive unemployed people to work, the cut was carried out in the middle of 2003, and its full effect was reflected in the 2004 poverty report.

Trey e-mails to note Nabi Abdullaev's "Has the Navy Learned the Lessons of Kursk?" (The Moscow Times):

Opposition politicians on Sunday accused the military of failing to draw lessons from the Kursk tragedy, while loyalists hailed the rescue of a trapped mini-submarine and its crew as a stunning success.
President Vladimir Putin, who did not make any public remarks about the incident during three days of agonizing suspense, remained above the fray on Sunday, leaving it to his spokesman Alexei Gromov to announce that he had ordered Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov to investigate the circumstances of the incident and thank the rescuers.
None of the criticism Sunday, however, appeared to be directed at Putin, who faced sharp disapproval after the Kursk sinking when he continued a vacation in Sochi and did not address the catastrophe for several days.

Trey also notes "A Real Leader Does Not Remain Silent" (editorial, The Moscow Times):

President Vladimir Putin's silence during this weekend's rescue operation to save the seven men on the mini-submarine Priz revealed the hidden weakness of an administration obsessed with projecting strength.
All day Friday and Saturday, as naval officials gave uncertain and conflicting accounts of conditions inside the vessel and of efforts to free it, and suspicions grew that, as with the Kursk, it was already too late, there was no word from Putin.
His decision to remain silent during the crisis appears to indicate a fear of being associated with potential tragedy.
This has been his style since the first test of his presidency, the sinking of the Kursk submarine in August 2000. Despite the criticism he received then, he demonstrated it again with his silence during the seizure of the school in Beslan last year.

Margot e-mails to note Ramiro Escobar's "PERU: Seven Killed in Conflict Over Copper Mining Project" (IPS):

Seven local farmers were killed when police attempted to block a protest march to the site of a copper mine under exploration by a British firm in the northwestern Peruvian region of Piura, according to local residents and authorities and a Catholic bishop.
The police, however, have only acknowledged the death of Amado Velasco, a protester from the village of Puján, who was reportedly killed when the gun he was trying to wrest away from a police officer went off.
The protesters from the Andean highland communities of Yanta, Puján, Segundo and Cajas in the region of Piura, located 1,000 km from Lima, were killed in clashes with the police on Monday and Tuesday, said Bishop Daniel Turley, who is based in the district of Chulucanas, near the mine where the demonstrators began to converge last week.
Carlos Martínez, the mayor of the town of San Ignacio in the neighbouring region of Cajamarca, also said seven people were killed. In addition, 40 people were injured, six or eight remain missing, and 32 were arrested, the bishop said Wednesday.

Rob e-mails to note Laila El-Haddad's "Palestinian judges strike over anarchy" (Aljazeera):

The judges are threatening to suspend their work until the Palestinian Authority addresses the continuing state of lawlessness in Gaza. The strike comes as Zuhair Sourani, the chairman of the Palestinian Authority's Higher Judicial Council, announced his resignation on Saturday.
His announcement came just days after a hand grenade was thrown at his home by a group of masked gunmen. The attack caused physical damage but no injuries. "Judges cannot work in an atmosphere in which there is absolute disregard for the law and no protection for the judicial authorities," he said.

Rob also notes "Venezuela snaps drug ties with US" (Aljazeera):

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has dismissed cooperation with the US Drug Enforcement Administration as unnecessary thus taking his country's fraying ties with the United States to a new low.
The Venezuelan leader, an ally of Communist Cuba and harsh critic of US foreign policy, said he had suspended cooperation with the DEA and accused the agency of spying against his government. "The DEA was used as a cover... to carry out intelligence work in Venezuela against this government," Chavez told reporters as he voted in local municipal elections. "Under these circumstances, we decided to shut down these agreements... the DEA is not essential to the fight in Venezuela against drug-trafficking. We will keep working with international organizations against drugs," he said.

Lynda e-mails to note Alejandro Sciscioli's "PARAGUAY: U.S. Military Presence Stirs Speculation" (IPS):

Despite the government's continued denials, analysts and activists have raised the alarm over the possible installation of a U.S. military base in Paraguay, especially after Congress granted permission for U.S. armed forces contingents to remain in the country for 18 months at a time. The joint military exercises authorised by Congress as of Jun. 1 will involve the arrival of over 150 U.S. troops in Paraguay.
In May, Congress granted immunity from prosecution to the U.S. soldiers participating in the 13 operations approved so far, two of which are already underway. But as far as Paraguayan political analyst and historian Milda Rivarola is concerned, "in practice, there has already been a (U.S.) base operating in Paraguay for over 50 years."
While the actual physical infrastructure of a military base does not exist, the U.S. armed forces have had a continued, ongoing presence in the country, she said in an interview with IPS. "In the past, they needed congressional authorisation every six months, but now they have been granted permission to be here for a year and a half," she commented.
Rivarola said that the United States is keeping a particularly close eye on the tri-border area where Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil meet. The region is home to a large Arab community, which various intelligence services have identified as a source of financing and shelter for Islamic fundamentalist groups.

Molly notes "US challenged over 'secret jails'" (BBC):

Two Yemeni men claim they were held in secret, underground US jails for more than 18 months without being charged, Amnesty International has said.
The human rights group has called on the US to reveal details of the alleged secret detention of suspects abroad.
Amnesty fears the case is part of a "much broader picture" in which the US holds prisoners at secret locations.
The US has not responded to the claims, but the head of the CIA recently said the agency does not use torture.
Porter Goss said in testimony to the US Senate torture was neither professional nor productive.

Eli e-mails to note Mariano Aguirre's "Mr Rogers goes to war: America's 'democracy by force'"

In my openDemocracy article about Michael Ignatieff, I suggested that one of the tasks performed by the distinguished head of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University is to convince liberals to become hawks and to provide hardliners with the lowdown on liberal arguments. Steven Rogers's reply is the perfect example of Ignatieff’s success.
Leaving aside the adjectives poured on my text (opaque, bizarre, superficial, irrelevant) and the paranoid suspicion raised by my mention of only some kind of dictatorships (don't worry, I have a universal dislike for dictators) Rogers's critique raises three interesting points: on democracy, the use of force, and torture.
Steven Rogers considers that there is no perfect model of democracy, and that democracy is a process accountable to voters, not to “liberal orthodoxy”. My point is that – even though the United States government and many other sectors consider their model to be the world's best, its many problems and flaws make it far from the best or fairest to promote elsewhere. There is no mission established by God or the "founding fathers" to promote, far less to impose their model worldwide.
I could go a step further: it's because United States democracy is so imperfect and deeply conservative that its
neo-conservative ideologues are pushing to promote it worldwide, and in a very authoritarian way (see John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America, Penguin, 2004.)
[. . .]
Michael Ignatieff thinks that the US has a mission. I think that the international community has a series of values on human rights, social justice and democratic procedures to preserve which it must preserve and expand, and which can be promoted using tools such as trade, diplomacy, culture, and dialogue (and sometimes tougher means like sanctions).
This all implies the concept of a multilateral regime and an international rule of law. In other words, a cosmopolitan international system that combines democratic states with active civil societies and increasingly democratic multilateral institutions (see David Held, Global Covenant,
Polity Press, 2004). This may prove to be imperfect, but it would be both less dangerous and more effective than foreign invasions justified with dirty tricks and false legitimations at the United Nations Security Council.
Are these ineffective means to overthrow dictatorships? Look around you, Mr Rogers. How many authoritarian regimes ended in the last twenty years thanks to internal opposition and international pressures, and how many collapsed through invasions?
Mr Rogers thinks that Ignatieff and I are on the same side with different approaches. No, sorry, he and the director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy are on the same side: confused and wrong.

Dominick e-mails to note "Colombia Three will not hinder peace, says Adams" (Ireland's

But Mr Adams blamed any current crisis on unionists stalling plans to kickstart power-sharing talks in the aftermath of the IRA’s July 28 statement ending its armed campaign.
Mr Adams said of the Colombia Three: "This is not causing a crisis in the peace process."
"What is causing a crisis in the political process is the refusal or the failure by the unionists to share power with the rest of us at this time."

Dominick also notes "Four held in Belfast shooting investigation" (also from Ireland's

Four men are being questioned in connection with a gun attack in North Belfast at about 6.30am today, in which one man was seriously injured.
Two men were arrested on terrorism charges, while the two others were arrested for attempted murder, and all are thought to be linked to the loyalist paramilitary feud in the city.

Pru e-mails to note "We demand justice, say grieving relatives" (the UK's Socialist Worker):

The family of Jean Charles de Menezes remembered him last week and asked for help in their struggle for the truth, writes Joseph Choonara
The family of the 27 year old Brazilian shot dead by armed police in south London, have cast further doubt on the police's version of events leading up to the shooting.
Police initially claimed that Jean was wearing a thick padded coat when he was shot and that he jumped the barrier at Stockwell tube station.
But Jean's cousins have revealed that he was wearing a light denim jacket and that he used his travel card to enter the tube. The family say they were given the information by police who had viewed CCTV footage from the station.
These revelations connect to existing questions, such as why the police allowed someone who they say was a suspected suicide bomber to board a bus and then enter the tube, without once challenging him.
There are deeper questions surrounding the policy of shoot to kill -- a policy introduced through police guidelines, which remain unpublished, and not even debated in parliament.
Alex Pereira, one of Jean's cousins, said last week that police wanted to shoot someone to show they took terrorism seriously.
Another of Jean's cousins, Alessandro Pereira, said, "I want justice for my cousin. Tony Blair has talked about the attacks on London and terrorists, but he has not mentioned my cousin."
Linking Jean's killing to the deaths of innocent Iraqis, he added, "The money that is wasted on war should go to a better cause. I would like the government to use this money to help people in Africa."
A number of events have taken place to remember Jean and to protest at his death. Around 200 people attended a Stop the War Coalition protest at Downing Street on Thursday of last week.
About 50 people attended an emergency meeting called by Lambeth Stop the War and held in Brixton, south London, near where Jean was killed.
A vigil at parliament on Friday of last week was called by the Jean Charles de Menezes Family Campaign.
It was followed by a ­service at Westminster cathedral, held simultaneously with Jean's funeral in Brazil. Alessandro Pereira made this tribute:
"Jean was aged 27. He was a young Brazilian man who came to London full of dreams and hopes. He loved London. He loved the fact that it was home to so many different people from around the world.
"Seven days ago he died--an innocent man who was shot dead by police officers. We have many questions about how he died. We want to find the truth.
"Today is about remembering Jean. At this very moment his funeral procession is beginning in our home town of Ganzaga. The streets are lined with the people of my town as they pay their respects to Jean.
"His death has destroyed Jean's mother and father. Jean was the youngest child. He was loved by everybody. He loved to talk, he loved to sing. Now we will never hear his voice again.
"We are all so destroyed. Nothing can bring Jean back or stop the hurt our family is feeling.
"But in this tragic time my family want to thank all our friends, all the people of London, including the Muslim community, who have given us so much support.
"This death could so easily have happened to somebody else's brother, father or cousin. I hope no other family suffers as we have suffered. Please help us in our quest for justice."
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