Monday, January 16, 2012

No one bombs bigger than the media

Tom A. Peter (Christian Science Monitor) notes 8 dead in a bombing targeting housing for displaced Iraqis outside of Mosul. This is the region of northern Iraq that various religious minorities have relocated to due to safety concerns. Peter reports the targets were the Shabaks. He then notes they share traits with Islam, he forgets to note the same is true of Christianity. Unlike the Christians who have relocated to the area due to violence in the last year, Shabaks presence in the Kurdish north predates the start of the Iraq War (as does the presence of other religious minorities such as Yazidis and Mandeans). (And Christians were present in northern Iraq prior to the start of the war as well -- especially Assyrians; however, the societal breakdown the war has created has led many Christians who'd lived in, for example, Baghdad their entire lives decide to relocate to northern Iraq.)

In terms of the press, what's most interesting about the Mosul bombing is what was interesting about yesterday's bombing. Both targeted Sunni areas -- yes, Tom A. Peter, that is a Sunni area. But notice how AP is the only one who can say that.

If you're not reading coverage at US outlets and/or using the links, you may not be aware of how the papers especially love to play up Shi'ite versus Sunni. That's my fault because I'm not interested in it. The US helped hardened that division at the start of the war and has kept it alive ever since.

If this were a Shi'ite area targeted, the New York Times (for example), would be letting you know that Shi'ites were targeted and include a paragraph about al Qaeda in Iraq and blah, blah, blah.

When it's Sunnis targeted, they don't even rush to note it.

Instead of using the already created template for each Shi'ite attack, maybe they should learn to do an actual report?

The template includes the accusation that the violence is an attempt on the part of 'Sunni insurgents' to start up the civil war.

Again, it would be really nice if they could start reporting and stop falling back on that hoary template.

Let's return to the topic of Americans detained in Iraq. Russia Today insists, "America's embassy in Baghdad houses around 15,000 US-affiliated persons, but now with the war officially over, Iraq is warning the US and others that they better play by their rules if they want to stay." That's not reality or true.

Nor does the public record back them up. As with Iraqi civilians, US contractors are stopped for no reason, assumed guilty (despite the presumption of innocence written into the Iraq Constitution) and forced to prove their innocence.

Some silly American will no doubt show up online this week or next to praise Russia Today for 'bravery' over something and note how the US media doesn't tell you ____. Media -- including US media -- is always more than willing to slam other governments. Whether it's Press TV or Al Jazeera. Do not mistake them for truth tellers. That is offensive. Truth tellers are outlets that turn that keen eye onto their own domestic issues. If you live in Japan, for example, there's little risk in your taking on England or the US.

Brave media is media that tells the truth about their own country.

Russia Today went overboard and showed their hand (they do that quite often) -- most of the time, they'd just offer embarrassing news but now they want to 'improve' on it. They also rush to align themselves with the thugs and despots of Iraq.

(Some fool will e-mail to whine about the above insisting that I've said American media doesn't do the same. Of course it does. That's a description of the bulk of the media around the world -- always more comfortable calling out the actions of others than calling out their own. Which is why it's so appalling, for example, to see US bloggers rush to praise an outlet -- controlled by a royal family whose abuses it will never cover -- as "brave" and "independent" while lamenting that we don't have that in the US. It goes to foolish desire on the part of lackeys to have a hero to worship. At some point, you grow up and put your toys away or you don't.)

Dan Morse (Washington Post) covers
the story and does so better than the New York Times did -- that was embarrassing for a paper whose suits insist it is committed to human rights -- and certainly better than Russia Today. In his report, you learn that people are being stopped for not having 2012 passports but that Iraq is not issuing 2012 passports and that the Ministries of Transport, Defense and Internal Security are battling with one another over who has control. From the article:

On Thursday, four U.S. Embassy workers were stopped and detained by Iraqi security forces for two hours.

And last week, the embassy issued a warning that people were being held for days over visas and paperwork. “Detentions often last 24-96 hours or more,” the U.S. Embassy said in a statement posted on its Web site. “The Embassy’s ability to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens are arrested or otherwise detained throughout Iraq is limited, including in and around Baghdad.”

David Bacon's latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) which won the CLR James Award. We'll close with this from Bacon's "Increasing Reliance on Guest Worker Programs" (Americas Program):

Editor's Note: This is the second installment of a three-part series on migrant rights by journalist and immigration activist David Bacon. This article is taken from the report "Displaced, Unequal and Criminalized - Fighting for the Rights of Migrants in the United States" that examines the origins of the current migratory labor phenomenon, the mechanisms that maintain it, and proposals for a more equitable system. The Americas Program is proud to publish this series in collaboration with the author.

[. . .]

U.S. guest worker programs in general are just one part of a much larger, global system, which produces labor and then puts it to use. In Latin America, economic reforms promoted by the U.S. government through trade agreements and international financial institutions displace workers, from miners to coffee pickers. They then join a huge flood of labor moving north. When they arrive in the U.S., they become an indispensable part of the workforce, whether they are undocumented or laboring under work visas. Displacement creates a mobile workforce, an army of available workers that has become an indispensable part of the U.S. economy, and that of wealthy countries like it. The same system that produces migration needs and uses that labor.

The creation of a vulnerable workforce through the displacement of communities is not new. Africa became "a warren for the hunting of black skins" during the bloody displacement of communities by the slave traders. Uprooted African farmers were transported to the Americas in chains, where they became an enslaved plantation workforce from Colombia and Brazil to the U.S. South. Their labor created the wealth that made economic growth possible in the U.S. and much of Latin America and the Caribbean. But displacement and enslavement produced more than wealth. As slave-owners sought to differentiate slaves from free people, they created the first racial categories. Society was divided into those with greater and fewer rights, using skin color and origin. When anti-immigrant ideologues call modern migrants "illegals," they use a category inherited and developed from slavery.

Today displacement and inequality are as deeply ingrained in the free market economy as they were during the slave trade. Mexican President Felipe Calderon said during a 2008 visit to California, "You have two economies. One economy is intensive in capital, which is the American economy. One economy is intensive in labor, which is the Mexican economy. We are two complementary economies, and that phenomenon is impossible to stop." When Calderon says intensive in labor, he means that millions of Mexican citizens are being displaced, and that the country's economy can't produce employment for them. To Calderon and employers on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, migration is therefore a labor supply system.

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