Monday, April 04, 2005

Where to go for news

New York Times' readers in need of a news fix, and judging by this morning's e-mails, that's a large number of community members, would be advised to push this morning's paper aside and get on over to BuzzFlash.

Right now, their largest headline ("You Tell Tony Blair we're going alone!" Britain pulling 5,500 of 9,000 troops from Iraq") links to Sean Rayment's story from the UK's Telegraph entitled "Britain to pull 5,500 troops out of Iraq:"

Defence chiefs are planning to reduce the size of the British military force in Iraq from 9,000 to 3,500 troops within 12 months as part of a phased withdrawal from Iraq, The Telegraph can reveal.
In the first stage of Britain's "exit strategy", troops will be withdrawn from three of the Army's five military bases in southern Iraq by April 2006.

There is real news out there and you'll find links to a great number of stories. We'll highlight one more, Robert Parry's "CIA 'Reform' -- or Just Sack 'Em All:"

If the American people want to prevent another intelligence failure like the one that has sent more than 1,500 U.S. soldiers to die in Iraq, it will take more than just shaking up the CIA. Much of Washington's political and media elites would need to be sacked as well.
Indeed, it is a sign of how deep the problem goes that neoconservative Republican Laurence Silberman chaired a presidential commission evaluating the CIA's failures, since he also oversaw the Reagan-Bush intelligence transition team in 1980 that struck one of the first blows against the intellectual integrity of the CIA’s analytical division. [See below]
The commission's co-chairman, former Sen. Charles Robb, represents another part of the problem: the go-along-to-get-along Democrats who did little to stop the Reagan-Bush-era politicization of U.S. intelligence.
But the crisis goes deeper still. The Silberman-Robb report, which faults the CIA for providing "dead wrong" intelligence about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, was delivered to George W. Bush, who has built his presidency on an unprecedented use of pseudo-facts over a wide range of issues, from the federal budget to global warming to the Iraq War.

So news is out there, you just won't find much of it in this morning's New York Times. Take action and go to BuzzFlash and other sites online.

Over at Danny Schechter's News Dissector, you'll find "The Pope's Death on TV: Day 3:"

The cameras are still live at the Vatican and may yet get to show us all two million mourners expected this week. President Bush, our religious leader-in-chief, has announced he will be the first President in U.S. history to attend a Pope's funeral. Another nail in the coffin of traditional notions of the separation of church and state. What politician wants to miss the glare of global media. When you are on TV, you exist!
[. . .]
At the same time, all the talking heads seemed to meld together, treating the Pope's death as greater than his life. All the Big Media lined up to repeat accolade after accolade. It was a praise poem posing as a report. Ray Flynn, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican and Mayor of Boston ("Everyone still calls me Mayor") went on and on about how the dignity of his death was his greatest lesson. The tributes and testimonials were endless. It all became a grand spectacle of a historical event, but where was the journalism, the analysis, or an assessment of what he did and didn't do?
Aren't news events deserving of some back and forth, some praise and criticism, or is all of that passé, as in one does not speak badly of the dead? The Pope has the power to deify, but should that be the role of TV news? (The one exception I saw was 60 Minutes, which had two pre-produced pieces, including one on the policking that goes into choosing a new pope.)

For those needing a good laugh this morning, Betty's added another post yesterday at Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, so please check that out.

Over at CounterPunch, note Alexander Cockburn's "Death, Depression and Prozac:"

Jeff Weise, teen slayer of ten, including himself, at the Red Lake Indian reservation in northern Minnesota, was on Prozac, prescribed by some doc. How did the consultation go? "Here Jeff, take these, they may help you get over life's little problems, like the fact that when you were 8 your dad committed suicide and when you were 10 your cousin was killed in a car wreck that left your mom with partial paralysis and an injured brain. And let's face it, Jeff, most likely you'll never get off the res. You're here for the rest of your life." Cut to a shot of the doc holding up a Prozac bottle, like the kindly fellow in the white coat and mirrored headband in 1950s Lucky Strike ads, telling us that Luckies were a fine way to soothe a raspy throat.
The minute the high command at Eli Lilly, manufacturer of Prozac, saw those news stories about Weise you can bet they went into crisis mode, and only began to relax when Weise's websurfs of neo-Nazi sites took over the headlines. Hitler trumps Prozac every time, particularly if it's an Injun teen ranting about racial purity. How many times, amid the carnage of such homicidal sprees, do investigators find a prescription for antidepressants at the murder scene? Luvox at Columbine, Prozac at Louisville, Kentucky, where Joseph Wesbecker killed nine, including himself. You'll find many such stories in the past fifteen years.
By now the Lilly defense formula is pretty standardized:self-righteous handouts about the company's costly research and rigorous screening, crowned by the imprimatur of that watchdog for the public interest, the FDA. And of course there's the bogus comfort of numbers; if Lilly's pill factory had a big sign like MacDonald's, it could boast Prozac: Billions Served.

And, from Guerrilla News Network, check out Nicole Colson's "Getting Away With Murder:"

There's no other way to describe the Pentagon's announcement that it is refusing to prosecute any of the 17 U.S. soldiers who contributed to the deaths of three prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004. The decision is against the recommendations of the Army’s own investigators.
In one case, soldiers at a U.S. base in Al Asad admitted to assaulting an Iraqi prisoner, at one point lifting him to his feet by holding a baton to his throat. He later died from his injuries.
Army investigators recommended that 11 soldiers from the Fifth Special Forces Group and the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment face charges in that case. But the accused soldiers' commander "decided that the soldiers were justified in using force against the Iraqi because he was being aggressive and misbehaving," reported ABC News.
The case is not an isolated one.

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