Saturday, April 15, 2006

NYT: Pretend to care, pretend Dexy's not there, pretend it's news

How much fluff are you supposed to swallow before you spit out feathers? A question worth contemplating if you've read this morning's New York Times. If you haven't spare yourself.

Monica Davey's writing about . . . what? The articles entitled "Protest Rallies End in Job Loss For Immigrants." (That is the print headline. Online headline is different. We go by print when there's a difference between it and online.) She offers, as an exampled, that in Tyler, Texas "22 welders lost their jobs making parts for air conditioners." 22 out of over 2000 demonstrators. I've heard from the Tyler members (and the surrounding areas -- shout outs to Longview, Marshall, Kilgore and Chandler -- see, I did read this morning's e-mails).

Is this propaganda intended to scare people because that's quite frankly how it's being read. Davey's got nothing in the article about the 22 fired including what the grounds were for firing them. She also doesn't note who they worked for. Would it be Trane? Would it be Carrier? Is it another company? For members: air quality, "Targaritas," special rates, and threats of pulling business if their product is not used. Put it together and you've got what didn't make it into Davey's story.

What did make it into print is a cautionary tale of victims -- one that never actually includes the victims. She offers a shrugged oh-well of these-things-happen. Whether that's her intent or not (or whether someone else shaped what made it into print), who knows? (I'm not taking calls this morning because I'd like to be done with this entry in less than an hour and out the door.)

Are the 22 (that Davey tosses out, if not explores) taking the attitude that they'd made a mistake? (At least one isn't taking that attitude and would march again.) Who knows? They don't get a hearing on their feelings on anything. As pointed out yesterday, it's a wide shot when it comes to the people effected. But it's always a close up (flattering) for big business in the paper of record, isn't it? So flip from Davey's front page story to A11 for Kate Phillips' "Business Lobbyists Call For Action on Immigration." Lobbyists? The Times is comfortable to speaking to them and for them (check out the editorials) but people effected? Rendered invisible yet again. (Recalling an infamous editorial that the paper no doubt wishes was forgotten -- where they advocated that the minimu wage should be "$0.00.")

And is Alan Cowell lost in London (again!)? Brandon wonders that and whether Pru should return to covering him for the round-robin? Why does Brandon wonder that? There was a court martial in England. Three days. Malcolm Kendall-Smith was sented to eight months. The Times hasn't noted the verdict even in an "international brief." Pru, Brandon may be right and you may need to send out a search party to locate Cowell. Who will locate the news for the paper is another issue.

From Democracy Now!:

RAF Doctor Jailed For Refusing Iraq Service
In Britain, a doctor in the Royal Air Force has been sentenced to eight months in jail for refusing to go to Iraq. Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith maintained he is refusing his assignment in order to not take part in an illegal war. "Now more so than ever he feels that his actions were totally justified and he would not if placed in the same circumstances seek to do anything differently," Justin Hugheston-Roberts, the lawyer representing Kendall-Smith, said after the sentencing.

"Warhols of Tomorrow Are Dealers' Quarry Today" is someone's idea of news. Well at least, as far as we know, the paper's not using its own space on a pet issue of concern. (Tweet, tweet, ring a bell?) It's not exactly front page news, notfor the hard news section. But it ends up there, lets them pretend they've covered the art scene well and maybe someone has an investment to protect? (The Times' conflict in the arts scene, traditional arts, is legendary. Just never covered in the Times.)

What else is there? Kirk Semple reports from Iraq. Not in the mood for it this morning. It's laughable that the Times has yet to apologize to readers for running propaganda that was part of a PSYOPS operation and yet they want readers to trust them on Iraq.

Let's be clear that what Dexter Filkins did in that instance (and just focusing on that one instance) topped Judith Miller because PSYOPS operations can be directed at foreign countries but it is illegal to use them on Americans. So let's be real clear that Dexter Filkins has surpassed Judith Miller. The minute the truth of Dexy's report was reported (not in the Times), there should have been a very prominent note to the readers. It should have offered an apology, it should have named Filkins and should have set out some sort of guideline to prevent readers from being the target of future PSYOP operations. Bare minimum, that should have been done.

The paper's refusal to address the issue demonstrats, yet again, that the mea culpa was meaningless. Their silence, rightly or wrongly, indicates that they have no interest in whether their readers are misinformed or if reporters are accomplices (knowingly or unknowingly) in illegal activies that further lower the paper's credibility and damage the readers chances of true understanding. "All the news that's fit to print"?

A paper that's concerned itself with "tabloid wars" this week should be willing to take a serious (and needed) look at their own actions in what was an illegal activity by the government. As it is, for readers to know what happened, they can't depend on Edward Wong's aside yesterday, but will need to turn to Thomas E. Ricks "Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi" (Washington Post). The most we can hope for, apparently, is circle jerk profiles where Dexter Filkins says he and John F. Burns will be "friends forever" (did they exchange frienship braclets) and Burns notes Dexy's "questing." (Was there a medieval romance in the Green Zone?)

For real news from Iraq, we'll note Dahr Jamail. Read his and Arkan Hamed's "Baghdad Morgue Overflowing Daily" here at IPS or here at Iraq Dispatches:

BAGHDAD, Apr 14 (IPS) -- As sectarian killings continue to rise in Iraq, the central morgue in Baghdad is unable to keep up with the daily influx of bodies.
The morgue is receiving a minimum of 60 bodies a day and sometimes more than 100, a morgue employee told IPS on condition of anonymity.
"The average is probably over 85," said the employee on the morning of April 12, as scores of family members waited outside the building to see if their loved ones were among the dead.
The family of a man named Ashraf who had been taken away by the Iraqi police Feb. 16 anxiously searched through digital photographs inside the morgue. He then found what he was looking for.
"His two sons were killed when Ashraf was taken," said his uncle, 50-year-old Aziz. "Ashraf was a bricklayer who was simply trying to do his job, and now we see what has become of him in our new democracy."
Aziz found that the body of Ashraf was brought to the morgue Feb. 18 by the Iraqi police two days after he was abducted. The photographs of the body showed gunshot wounds in the head and bludgeon marks across the face. Both arms were apparently broken, and so many holes had been drilled into his chest that it appeared shredded.
A report Oct. 29, 2004 in the British medical journal The Lancet had said that "by conservative assumptions, we think about 100,000 excess deaths or more have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq."
In an update, Les Roberts, lead author of the report said Feb. 8 this year that there may have been 300,000 Iraqi civilian deaths since the invasion.

Highlight. And, it's not available online yet. However, check here because it's supposed to go online (excerpt) at some point. From Robert Dreyfuss' "The Pentagon's New Spies" (Rolling Stone, April 20, 2006):

Last October, before the public learned that President Bush had secretly ordered the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on Americans without a court order, the Pentagon approached the Senate intelligence committee with an unprecedented request. Military officials wanted the authority to spy on U.S. citizens on American soil, without identifying themselves, in order to collect intelligence about terrorists threats. The plan was so sweeping, according to congressional sources who reviewed it, that it would have permitted operatives from the Defense Intelligence Agency to spy on dissidents by posing as peace activists and infiltrating anti-war meetings.
Senators on both sides of the aisle refused to go along with the plan. "The Department of Defense should not be in the business of spying on law-abiding Americans-- period," said Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon. In closed-door deliberations, the intelligence committee blocked the request.
In fact, however, the Pentagon has already assembled a nationwide domestic spying machine that goes far beyond the National Security Agency's warrantless surveillance of telephone and e-mail traffice. Operating in secret, the Defense Department is systematically gathering and analyzing intelligence on American citizens at home -- and a new Pentagon agency called Counterintelligence Field Activity (CIFA) is helping to coordinae the military's covert efforts with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
[. . .]
"We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America," says Wyden. "This is a huge leap without even a congressional hearing."

The Defense Department, formerly the War Department, has no business spying on Americans; however, it did before and that led to Congressional hearings. Hearings are not required to determine whether they can do this, hearings are required to determine the guilt and the punishment. The militarization of the United States is not in keeping with democracy but maybe it will wake some up (finally?) to the "dangers of an unchecked Bully Boy"?

Martha advises those looking for news in a print newspaper to check out the Washington Post.
From Thomas B. Edsall's "E-Mails Tie Former GSA Official to Abramoff: Safavian Attorney Objects to Disclosure:"

Federal prosecutors last night released hundreds of e-mails documenting the business and personal ties between former White House aide David H. Safavian, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and a network of congressional representatives and staffers.
Within days after becoming chief of staff at the General Services Administration, for example, Safavian began discussions of government property opportunities with Abramoff. In other e-mails, Abramoff suggested that then-GSA Administrator Steve Perry join them on a $130,000 golfing trip to Scotland.

Ruth's Public Radio Report going up after this posts (and publishes). The e-mail address for this site is