Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jeffrey Gettleman's "Ruined Treasures in Babylon Await an Iraq Without Fighting" in this morning's New York Times reads like damage control on a story that's outraged many. (We noted it last Friday and those wanting to skip the Times' nonsense should stick with the story from Australia's ABC.) Gettleman's been around long enough to grasp the importance of the lede and here's what he offers:

In this ancient city, it is hard to tell what are ruins and what's just ruined.

Are your sides splitting yet? Mine neither. But it's part of an approach the article takes of "things happen" throughout.

Note the headline (which Gettleman did not write) and contrast it to ABC's "US officer offers apology over Babylon destruction." Gettleman's story, like the headline of his article, put a happy little spin on things. It doesn't matter that ancient ruins (the hanging gardens) were turned into a helicopter landing pad (by United States forces -- Gettleman rushes to bring in Poland), it's all just a stuff-happens report that attempts to reassure readers that it's no big deal and things can be fixed. What needs to be fixed? You won't grasp that from his article because, after all, it was ruins. It's hard to imagine that the same sort of article could be written about Greece but then, and the paper counts on this, most Americans are familiar with the ruins of Greece.

So instead, Gettleman trivializes the hanging gardens ('made with mud!' he practically chortles) and does damage control. (Notice what's placed upfront and remember the inverted pyramind requires that the most important details be placed upfront. See what Gettleman judges the most important.)

From ABC's report:

However, the head of the Iraqi state Board for Heritage of Antiquities, Donny George, is angry and says the mess will take decades to sort out.
"Normally in Iraq when a farmer would scrape two metres off an archaeological site he will be sent to court," he said.
"But they are just talking about this, so, unfortunately using this city for military purposes was huge damage to the history and heritage of the country."

But no need to get upset, Gettleman informs us:

Factories are churning, Iraqi security forces are patrolling and the streets pulsate with life -- children bounding to school, crowds wading into markets, taxis gliding by.

For the paper to print such nonsense is an embarrassment. More so for the Times than any other paper because they like to see themselves as cultivated. (They aren't. But money can buy seats on boards. And has.)

Sounding both foolish and like someone who thinks an antiquity is a velvet painting of Elvis, Gettleman notes things like a "snazzy brochure" (travel) and that a Holiday Inn might be coming to Babylon! Wow. Forgive any rational person for not being excited and for, in fact, being appalled by what happened. Many may not be though -- because Gettleman spends the front of his story minimizing what happened, 'joshing' the reader and refusing to note that a very real tragedy (of historical importance) took place.

Cindy notes that she didn't see a topic covered in the paper this morning (I'm still going through it). She steers us to Gina Holland's "Justices Reject Gitmo Detainees' Appeal" (Guardian of London care of Common Dreams):

The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from two Chinese Muslims who were mistakenly captured as enemy combatants more than four years ago and are still being held at the U.S. prison in Cuba.
The men's plight has posed a dilemma for the Bush administration and courts. Previously, a federal judge said the detention of the ethnic Uighurs in Guantanamo Bay is unlawful, but that there was nothing federal courts could do.
Lawyers for the two contend they should be released, something the Bush administration opposes, unless they can go to a country other than the United States.
A year ago, the U.S. military decided that Abu Bakker Qassim and A'Del Abdu al-Hakim are not "enemy combatants'' as first suspected after their 2001 arrests in Pakistan. They were captured and shipped to Guantanamo Bay along with hundreds of other suspected terrorists.

Today's scheduled topic for Democracy Now!:

* The case of Frank Jude: We go to Milwaukee where an all-white jury has acquitted three white police officers charged with brutally beating an African-American man.

Upcoming Un-embed the Media appearances. One is tonight and Micah was correct last week, James Ridgeway will be attenting:

Democracy Now! Benefit Evening ­ Dinner and a Play
CALL NOW 888-999-6761
See "Stuff Happens" by David Hare
Enjoy dinner w/ Amy Goodman, Pulitzer prize winning veteran reporter
Sydney Schamberg , Village Voice reporter James Ridgeway (just fired by new
management) Iraqi journalist Ali Fadhil, Democracy Now producer Sharif Abdel
Kouddous and others at worker-owned restaurant Colors
Audience talk back and wine and cheese reception to follow show
Tuesday, Apr 18. 2006
Price: $500/couple, $300 for single seats
Ticket availability is VERY LIMITED ­ first come, first served
To order tickets, call 888-999-6761, credit card purchases only
Dinner and a Show with Amy Goodman, Iraqi filmmaker Ali Fadhil, Pulitzer
Prize winning journalist Sydney Schamberg, and veteran investigative
journalist James Ridgeway. Schamberg recently resigned from the Village
Voice after the new owners abruptly fired James Ridgeway.
The evening begins at 5 PM at Colors, the new restaurant owned by the
surviving workers of Windows on the World, the eatery that was at the top of
the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
"Stuff Happens", the critically-acclaimed play by award-winning playwright
David Hare, begins at 7 PM. It is a provocative and thoughtful play about
how and why Bush invaded Iraq. Following the play, Amy Goodman will
moderate an audience talk-back, with Ali Fadhil, Iraqi medical
doctor-turned filmmaker who was one of the few to document the US military
siege of Fallujah, in his documentary "Fallujah: The Real Story". Fadhil
was detained by US troops. Pulitzer Prize winner Sidney Schamberg, veteran
war correspondent and press critic, and fired Village Voice reporter James
The after show talk-back will be emceed by Democracy Now! producer Sharif
Abdel Kouddous.
Again, tickets are limited -- they are only available by calling 888-999-6761

* Amy Goodman in Milwaukee, WI:

Thur, Apr 20 *
George F. Kennan Forum on International Issues: Balancing Security and
Freedom in a Post-9/11 World
The Pabst Theater 144 E. Wells Street Milwaukee, WI
For more information: http://www.pabsttheater.org/kennan.html

Host Organization: Institute of World Affairs (IWA), Center for
International Education, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, P.O. Box 413,
Milwaukee, WI 53201. Sponsoring Organizations: Peace Action Wisconsin,
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Public Radio, Milwaukee Public
Television, and Wisconsin Public Radio.

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