Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Other Items (Gary Hart on KPFA's The Morning Show today)

Insistence by Republican Congressional leaders that American money to fight the spread of AIDS globally be used to emphasize abstinence and fidelity is undercutting comprehensive and widely accepted aid models, the Government Accountability Office said in a report released Tuesday.
The report by the G.A.O., an investigative arm of Congress, examines the effect of a mandate from Congress that at least a third of United States money to prevent the spread of AIDS worldwide be devoted to sexual abstinence and fidelity programs.

The above is from Celia W. Dugger's "U.S. Focus on Abstinence Weakens AIDS Fight, Agency Finds" in this morning's New York Times. The GAO report is not a surprise (and the conclusions of it noted today have been noted here repeatedly). Will it make a difference? Probably not. And reporting like Dugger's won't help. From the article: "Dr. Mark R. Dybul, the deputy coordinator of the federal AIDS program, strongly disagreed. He said the program was carrying out a balanced effort that includes all the elements of ABC, a strategy that successfully reduced H.I.V. infection rates in Uganda."

If people, if reporters, can't get it straight about what happened in Uganda (in the nineties) then there's no need for the Times to run an article on the GAO report. I'm not in the mood for clowning or clowns and, as noted many times before, when you switch education strategies, you screw with people's lives. I have as little use for Dugger as I do for Bono. They both strike me as morons repeating falsehoods. Bono does it to get money for his organization, I'll assume Dugger's just ill informed. Abstinence "education" has no long term benefit in any scientific study. What it does, in every study, is delay the age of sexual activity (slightly) and then you're dealing with sexually active people who have little practical education about the facts they need and are less likely to use condoms. That's reality and scientific studies have demonstrated that repeatedly. Here's another reality and it's past time the paper starts getting this straight abstinence "education" wasn't a part of Uganada's success in the nineties. They didn't start offering the useless, money sucking "education" until after partnering up with the Bully Boy in 2001.

Dugger needs to get that straight and quit repeating myths. When Bully Boy is out of office, the AIDS crisis numbers will be even higher and reporters who've failed to challenge well known lies, who have instead repeated them, better not wring their hands whining, "How could it happen!" It happened because of bad reporting, it happened because people like Bono would do anything to get their "half a loaf."

Abstinence "education" has not worked in this country (or anywhere) but the model is exported outside this country because Bully Boy wants to score with his anti-science, fundy base. When the crisis explodes even more, a lot of people need to be held responsible for their passive acceptance of "education" that harmed, that diverted needed funds and needed time for true education.

In news of Ireland, Brian Lavery offers his usual anti-IRA rhetoric posing as reporting. With nothing to go on but innuendo, Lavery paints a portrait of a spy that you'll never see in the Times if the spy is an American revealed to be working for a foreign government. But today it's all hearts and flowers for Denis Donaldson who was an IRA member . . . who was actually a spy for the British government. Donaldson's dead which is not surprising. That's not a moral judgement, that's merely noting that when you spy for a foreign government and the truth comes out, it usually doesn't end pretty. (Or as the headline notes "I.R.A. Turncoat Is Murdered in Donegal.") The only thing of interest in the article, a path Lavery notes but doesn't want to explore, is this:

In 2002, Britain accused Mr. Donaldson of spying for the I.R.A. by stealing documents from government offices at the Northern Irish parliament.
At the time, Mr. Donaldson was receiving paychecks from the British intelligence agencies MI5 and Special Branch while he was serving as Sinn Fein's chief administrator for the power-sharing provincial parliament.
The charges brought down the coalition that was formed under the Northern Ireland peace accord of 1998.

In 2002, the ones accusing knew Donaldson was a spy for England, had been since the eighties. So what was the point of the charges that Britain knew were false? Isn't it interesting that false charges were knowingly made just in time to destroy the coalition?

Now that might be a story a newspaper would want to tell. Instead they waste everyone's time with innuendo. He spied for decades. He helped undermine a peace process. The way it ended is no surprise. Possibly it helps your coverage when you have friends in the press. (You think?)
Which is why **a journalist** can state: "He was alone and threatened no one. He was no harm to anybody." (CORRECTION: HE IS NOT IDENTIFIED AS BEING WITH THE ASSOCIATED PRESS.)

Donaldson spied for two decades, his work undermined a peace process. Exploring those actions would determine whether or not he was a harm to anyone. Stating that he wasn't is a bit like whining that someone who bombed African-American churches in this country in the sixties was now "no harm to anybody." Age and exposure may neutralize someone's power, but it doesn't erase what they did. Nor does it erase the British government's role in undermining the peace process. But those are stories the Times never wants to tell. The Stormont "scandal" which was nothing but propaganda to further derail the peace campaign (as Donaldson himself admitted) is something that won't be examined as the paper clucks over Donaldson's violent end.

Of course the news of the death came on the eve of Tony Blair's visit which also isn't addressed in the article. If tomorrow Donald Rumsfeld was revealed to be a spy for China and, months later, met the same end that Donaldson has, I doubt the Times would be so quick to provide quotes of how he was "no harm to anybody." Nor would they be shocked that a double agent, exposed, would meet the fate that Donaldson does.

Here's what Donaldson confessed to:

"My name is Denis Donaldson. I worked as the Sinn Fein Assembly group administrator in Parliament Buildings at the time of the PSNI raid on the Sinn Fein offices in October 2002, the so-called Stormontgate affair.
"I was a British agent at the time.
"I was recruited in the 1980s after compromising myself during a vulnerable time in my life.
"Since then, I have worked for British intelligence and the RUC/PSNI Special Branch. Over that period I was paid money.
"My last two contacts with Special Branch were as follows: two days before my arrest in October 2002, and last night, when a member of Special Branch contacted me to arrange a meeting.
"I was not involved in any republican spy ring at Stormont.
"The so-called Stormontgate affair was a scam and a fiction. It never existed. It was created by Special Branch.
"I deeply regret my activities with British intelligence and RUC/PSNI Special Branch.
"I apologise to anyone who has suffered as a result of my activities as well as to my former comrades, and especially to my family who have become victims in all of this."

Why a phoney spy ring would be created by the British government might be something worth exploring. "A scam and a fiction." But the paper of record has no interest in pursuing that story.

Zach's second Robert Parry highlight is "A 'Humbled' News Media?" (Consortium News):

Tucked inside an article about George W. Bush's disastrous Iraq War and his continuing failure to catch Osama bin-Laden, Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen offered a limited criticism of himself and his media colleagues who have acted as pro-Bush cheerleaders for much of the past four-plus years.
"Those of us who once advocated this war [in Iraq] are humbled," Cohen wrote in a column on April 4. "It's not just that we grossly underestimated the enemy. We vastly overestimated the Bush administration."
Cohen castigated Bush for "his embrace of incompetents, not to mention his own incompetence. ... Rummy still runs the Pentagon. The only generals who have been penalized are those who spoke the truth. ... Victory in Iraq is now three years or so overdue and a bit over budget. Lives have been lost for no good reason -- never mind the money -- and now Bush suggests that his successor may still have to keep troops in Iraq."
But what is also true is that the major U.S. news media has operated with equally stunning incompetence and -- just like in the U.S. government -- there has been almost no accountability.
The Washington Post, for instance, offers up nearly the same line-up of columnists who ran with the pro-war herd from 2002 through 2005.
Some, like David Ignatius, have only slowly begun to retreat from their enthusiasm for invading Iraq; others, like Charles Krauthammer, remain true believers in the neoconservative cause. Fred Hiatt stays ensconced, too, as the editorial page editor, despite having to admit that his pre-war editorials shouldn't have treated the threat of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as
a "flat fact" instead of an allegation.

Mia notes a highlight that actually should have been pared with Parry's previous one and would have if I'd seen Mia's e-mail a few minutes prior. This is Norman Solomon's "When War Crimes Are Unspeakable" (CounterPunch):

To even ask the question is to go far beyond the boundaries of mainstream U.S. media.
A few weeks ago, when a class of seniors at Parsippany High School in New Jersey prepared for a mock trial to assess whether Bush has committed war crimes, a media tempest ensued.
Typical was the response from MSNBC host Tucker Carlson, who found the very idea of such accusations against Bush to be unfathomable. The classroom exercise "implies people are accusing him of a crime against humanity," Carlson said. "It's ludicrous."
In Tennessee, the Chattanooga Times Free Press thundered in an editorial:
"That some American 'educators' would have students 'try' our American president for 'war crimes' during time of war tells us that our problems are not only with terrorists abroad."
The standard way for media to refer to Bush and war crimes in the same breath is along the lines of this lead-in to a news report on CNN's "American Morning" in late March: "The Supreme Court's about to consider a landmark case and one that could have far-reaching implications. At issue is President Bush's powers to create war crimes tribunals for Guantanamo prisoners."
In medialand, when the subject is war crimes, the president of the United States points the finger at others. Any suggestion that Bush should face such a charge is assumed to be oxymoronic.

Last highlight this morning, Molly Ivins' "Global Warming: What, Me Worry?" (Truthdig via Common Dreams):

On the premise that spring is too beautiful for a depressing topic like Iraq, I thought I'd take up a fun subject--global warming.
Time magazine warns us to "Be Worried. Be Very Worried." On the other hand, my sister is on the Global Warming Committee of the Unitarian Church in Albuquerque, N.M. They go around replacing old light bulbs with more energy-efficient models. My money's on my sis.
It's a good thing the phrase "the tipping point" became a cliche just in time to help us describe global warming. Just a few years ago, we were more or less cruising along on global warming, with maybe 50 years or so to Do Something about it. Suddenly, the only question is how soon to push the panic button, and 10 minutes ago appears to be the right answer.
People in journalism are the worst criers of "Wolf!" imaginable. We are always setting off alarms about Ebola, or avian flu, or the impending water shortage, or the Social Security crisis, or killer bees, or the pine bark beetle, or anorexia among teenagers (surpassed only by obesity among teenagers). Boy, if we can't sell you a scare with a few headlines and some mashed facts, no one can.
Naturally, having listened to the media set off endless alarms, the public is inclined to discount them, not to mention that global climate catastrophe is not an inviting topic. We're somewhere between "Don't Panic Yet" and "Panic Now!"--edging toward "Now!"
What is happening is not just what climatologists told us would happen, but global warming turns out to reinforce itself by a number of feedback mechanisms.

Remember that Gary Hart is a guest on KPFA's The Morning Show today (airs from seven to ten Pacific time, nine to eleven central and ten to noon eastern). And remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) Democracy Now! today.

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