Saturday, December 26, 2020

NYT tries to kill coverage of Rukmini and her falsehoods

A number of e-mails are noting some garbage at COMMON DREAMS.  We're not going to comment on Baby Dumb F**k here.  We may comment on him at THIRD.  As it stands, his whole -- long -- life has been a dumb f**k.  There's no reason it should wind down any differently.  

The only thing more ridiculous?  Courage To Resist.  Are they aware that the Iraq War continues?

They don't appear to be.  They are a partisan site -- check out Sarah Lazare's article -- it's embarrassing both for her writing and for the veteran they quote in it.  That's from October.  And it's not about what's going on in Iraq.

To read Courage To Resists 'coverage' of the last months is to be embarrassed for them.  They don't give a damn about the Iraqi people.  They never do.  So no surprise that Baby Dumb F**k showed up to write about the Blackwater pardons and can't even get that right while pretending that this is somehow spitting on the Iraqi people.  You know what, I'm walking away.  We need content for THIRD.  Ava and I are overseeing this edition and I don't want it going up four or five days from now, so we're going to just change the topic and save it for THIRD.

I have a pretty prominent position. But the NYT has a lot of power. Not great to silence your fellow journalists, especially when they are trying to speak for others, like Arab journalists, who felt too scared to say what they thought (because the NYT has so much power).

That’s all I have to say about this episode. I don’t know Michael and respect the hell out of the Daily. But if this is scary to me, imagine how others with less of a platform feel. Peace out and Merry Christmas.

For more: journalists like and and others have been talking about the issues with #Caliphate for awhile and the industry-wide problems of who gets to tell the stories of a complex region like the ME and who are the gate-keepers. Vital questions.

What happened?  In a series of Tweets on December 18th, she addressed issues with Rukmini Callamachi's lie-riddled 'reporting.'  For this?  Let's go to David Folkenfliek's NPR report from Christmas Eve:

Privately, [Michael] Barbaro repeatedly pressed at least four journalists Friday to temper their critiques of The Times and how they framed what happened. I know, because I was one of them.

So was NPR host and former Middle East correspondent Lulu Garcia-Navarro, whom he admonished to demonstrate restraint and warned was hurting the feelings of people at the newspaper.

Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple also received multiple direct messages from Barbaro, especially about his use of the word "retract" on Twitter to describe what happened.

"I happen to believe that in this instance that it is a sign of The New York Times' integrity, that they took this step," said Wemple, who has written extensively about Caliphate. "They should embrace that they retracted it instead of ... tiptoeing around this idea."

Beyond that, Wemple said, The Times should not have assigned Barbaro to interview Baquet about a scandal that he had such close ties to.

"I think it's disqualifying and it's certainly blinding," Wemple said in an interview. "I don't think Michael should have been involved in, you know, in this particular aspect of it. But he is the voice of The New York Times."

Even so, plenty of colleagues at The Times who have rich experiences in podcasting or broadcasting could have pinch-hit: tech columnist Kara Swisher has a podcast through the opinion section; business columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin co-hosts a morning show for CNBC; media columnist Ben Smith, who has written about Caliphate previously, used to host a podcast for BuzzFeed; Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham co-host a culture podcast for The Times produced apart from The Daily.

Wemple and Garcia-Navarro are among those on social media (and in Wemple's case, in print) who have challenged The Times' judgment, particularly in dismissing critics of Callimachi's work.

Are these efforts by Michael Barbaro the reason so few have bothered to write about Rukmini's racist 'reporting'?  FAIR doesn't need much to scare it off a topic -- and they're nincompoops at FAIR as well, don't forget -- but what's POYNTER's excuse?

Maybe they're not eager to tackle the subject of the racism involved in the US press?  Maybe they're more comfortable looking the other way?  This is from JADALYYA's interview with Laila al-Arian:


J: This is not the first time Callimachi is the subject of serious scrutiny with respect to her work on the Middle East. Can you tell us more?

LA: IndeedThere was a backlash against Callimachi and the NYT when in 2017 she took more than 15,000 internal ISIS documents out of Iraq without permission from the Iraqi authorities, and which the NYT later published as the “ISIS Files.” She and the NYT were also criticized for not redacting some of the documents and failing to protect Iraqis’ names and personal information, including minors. Her decision to stuff the documents into trash bags and take them out of the country raised larger questions about the ethics and history of what Maryam Saleh of The Intercept calls “outsiders taking historically important documents out of a country at war.”

In the wake of the Caliphate controversy, Callimachi has faced questions about some of her other work, including the case of James Foley: a US journalist who was taken hostage and executed by ISIS in 2014. Foley’s brother Michael said Callimachi “threatened to publish a detailed torture story” about James unless Michael agreed to do an interview. 

A story Callimachi wrote in October 2019 about how ISIS was paying protection money to a militia aligned with its arch-rival, al-Qa'ida was apparently based on distortions of specialist opinion. Yet the NYT chose to deal with these claims by merely stating that “experts were divided” about the authenticity of the documents. 

Similarly, a Syrian journalist who helped report a story for Callimachi, published in December 2014, recently told the NYT’s Ben Smith that his warnings about the credibility of a source she relied upon were dismissed.  “With Rukmini, it felt like the story was pre-reported in her head and she was looking for someone to tell her what she already believed, what she thought would be a great story,” Karam Shoumali told the NYT.  

Recently, a leading scholar on Jihadism in the Sahel also criticized her framing of al-Qa'ida in Mali. After the October 2017 Las Vegas mass shooting, there were unverified claims in ISIS chatrooms that the shooter, Stephen Paddock, had converted to Islam and carried out the shooting at the behest of ISIS. Callimachi spent days recklessly regurgitating this ISIS chatter to her large Twitter following.

I question whether the NYT would allow this kind of speculation by its reporters covering other subjects. It has also been pointed out that Callimachi does not read or speak Arabic, though much of her high-profile work is based on Arabic language documents.

In general, I believe Callimachi’s reporting on ISIS over-emphasizes religious ideology while stripping the group’s emergence and growth from its geopolitical context, specifically Iraq, a country that was destroyed by the 2003 US invasion and occupation, which also led to the destabilization of the region as a whole. A leitmotif of her work is that ISIS and other Jihadi groups are a legitimate and perhaps revealing manifestation of Islam. By Callimachi’s count, 40,000 Muslim foreigners joined ISIS. In a religion of 1.8 billion, this is a statistically insignificant number for generalizations. Yet she devotes the majority of her reporting on ISIS describing, explaining, and at times acting as a borderline stenographer for, a murderous cult’s religious and theological beliefs and rationalizations. 

Meanwhile MENAFN reports:

Up to 960,000 people in Basra to have access to safe drinking water thanks to the Netherlands' support to UNICEF and UNDP

The Netherlands has committed USD $6,41 million to support UNICEF and The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to ensure that almost a million residents of Basra governorate have access to safe water.

This support comes at a time when less than 11% of Basra's population has access to clean drinking water on site and the majority of households (8 out of 10) only receive 10 hours of water per day in their homes. And as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the need for clean water has become even more urgent for residents

That is appalling news.  By population,  Basra is Iraq's second largest city (Mosul is the third -- Baghdad is the biggest city).  And the corrupt government of Iraq isn't able to provide the residents with potable water -- safe drinking water -- "less than 11% of Basra's population has access to clean drinking water."  That's appalling.  And it's one of the reasons that the Iraqi people have spent over a year protesting in the streets.

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Friday, December 25, 2020

Talking entry

 In Iraq today?  XINHUA reports, "The Iraqi Health Ministry reported on Friday 1,140 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total nationwide infections to 589,943."  AFP notes, "Pope Francis in his Christmas message on Friday called for 'vaccines for all, especially the most vulnerable and most in need in all regions of the planet' for the coronavirus, which he said had exacerbated existing global crises."

Meanwhile, at IRISH TIMES, Michael Jansen offers, "Although Baghdad would welcome US return to the nuclear deal, Biden’s election has had a mixed reaction in Iraq. He is viewed with suspicion for supporting the 2003 US war on that country and for calling in 2006 for its division into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish regions as this could would lead to massive ethnic and sectarian cleansing."

2020 is winding down and a few e-mails are asking about 2021?  What are we going to be doing here, etc?  We'll presumably do what we always do.  That would be cover Iraq.  

A community member who is an activist in Iraq writes to say that he believes the Trump pardons on Blackwater get the attention they get in the west because the west likes to pretend it cares and that it's wonderful (he's correct there) so when something from "over a decade ago" comes up they get to grandstand and pretend.  He wonders if they get how pathetic they look to the Iraqi people?

I doubt it.  But I also doubt that they'd care one damn bit.  Self-stroking is about self-stroking, it's not about caring what others think about you.  The community member is correct, though, this is a decades old event that was heavily covered in real time.  Many didn't express any regret at all in real time.  We were the only ones, let's be honest, in this country that called out Gwen Ifill for laughing about this assault on PBS.  We called her out.  She thought it was funny.  Bottles of water tossed out the window of a car, that's what she compared it to.

So I agree, save me the pretend caring.  You didn't care then, you don't care now.  You just want to pretend that you're somehow up to date on the news and it's a Trump thing so you want to spew.

You didn't say a word about Abeer all those years.  You haven't said a word as the protests in Iraq have now lasted over a year and over 600 have been killed.  You haven't said a word as the government has persecuted the protesters and you ignored the government's attack on the protesters that has expanded to tearing down their tents, to setting them on fire, in the last weeks.

So, yeah, America, you're a fraud and the Iraqi people aren't fooled.

It's the fraud characteristic that made a hero out of a racist like Rukmini Callamachi.  It's this same fraud that allows you to invent this or that spin each day to try to justify Rukmini's racism and her 'reporting.'

There's no real concern for the Arab world in the US.  Jane Fonda might have been forced to apologize for Vietnam but she was never forced to apologize for any of her anti-Arab remarks.  One example, she stated, "If we aren't afraid of Arabs, we'd better examine our heads. They have strategic power over us. They are unstable. They are fundamentalist, anti-woman, anti free-press."

At what point does promoting a film (ROLLOVER) justify your preaching hatred at an entire group of people?  

At what point does an 83-year-old woman grasp that she needs to apologize for her hateful remarks about Arabs?

Now I get it, I know Jane, this was her being an idiot for Tom Hayden who was up the ass of the government of Israel and who intended ROLLOVER to turn the world against Arabs.  Maybe that's why it flopped?  Maybe hate really doesn't sell tickets?  But she said those statements and more.  And it's past time that she apologized for them.

Does she not get that the anger at John Wayne over his homophobic statements is going to be similar when she's gone to anger over her anti-Arab statements?  Does she not get that her laughable claim when she grandstanded in DC at an Iraq War protest in January of 2007 made Arabs laughs because they were aware of these statements?

I wasn't aware.  It was Arab community members who made me aware.

There's a lot of hatred of the Arab world and there's a lot of ginned up hatred on the parts of certain politicians and performers who want to please Zionist zealots.  

Rukmini tapped into the hatred of Arabs that's always there on the surface in American popular narratives.  It's not hidden.  Let's not pretend that it is.  I watched WONDER WOMAN 1984 today, it was right there on HBO MAX.  Time to show the true evil?  Let's go to the Arab world.  

That's what sells, it's what always sells in the US.

We need to take a hard look at ourselves.  We are not the caring, good people we hope to be as a nation.  We regularly demonize whole groups of people.  

The supposed 'liberal' NEW YORK TIMES has demonized Arabs for decades and gotten away with it.  Jane Fonda, a noted and talented actress, has still not been held accountable for her offensive and racist remarks about Arabs.  These were public remarks.  They are out there and they exist.  Scholars like Michael Parenti have noted these remarks over the years.  She will apologize for some of the actions she took in protesting the illegal war on Vietnam but she won't apologize for her anti-Arab remarks made to promote a film that she conceived of and that she produced as well as starred in.

Right now, we're hearing that the worst US crime in Iraq was a drive-by shooting by Blackwater.  The reality is, Blackwater (and other US companies) did this all the time.  This one got some attention because the US government stonewalled the media.  When the story broke, the press was interested in finding out what US dignitary was being protected.  It's what forgotten in the story today, by the way.  Supposedly, Blackwater had to protect some US dignitary.  But that name's never come forward and the press no longer cares to ask.  But these events were common.  They're criminal, don't think I'm saying that they're not.  But they were common.  

They happened regularly.  

To this day, the US media and the 'caring opiners' have still not given Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi even a 100th of the attention they've given the Blackwater drive-by.  And noted 'good people' like Mark Cuban (he's not a good person) have been embraced by the left despite the fact that he went out of his way to harm Brian De Palma's REDACTED -- a fictional film that dealt with an Abeer type crime.  

No surprise, Mark Cuban polices his own WIKIPEDIA entries.  I just went to the one on REDACTED and his handlers have lied very well.  Very, very well.  Here's some reality from the September 4th, 2009 snapshot:

Turning to the United States and what may be the only accountability for the crimes in Iraq.  May 7th Steven D. Green (pictured above) was convicted for his crimes in March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead kicking in sentence to life in prison. Today, Green stood before US District Judge Thomas B. Russell for sentencing. Kim Landers (Australia's ABC) quotes Judge Russell telling Green his actions were "horrifying and inexcusable."  Not noted in any of the links in this snapshot (it comes from a friend present in the court), Steven Dale Green has dropped his efforts to appear waif-ish in a coltish Julia Roberts circa the 1990s manner.  Green showed up a good twenty pounds heavier than he appeared when on trial, back when the defense emphasized his 'lanky' image by dressing him in oversized clothes.  Having been found guilty last spring, there was apparently no concern that he appear frail anymore. 
Italy's AGI reports, "Green was recognised as the leader of a group of five soldiers who committed the massacre on September 12 2006 at the Mahmudiyah check point in the south of Baghdad. The story inspired the 2007 masterpiece by Brian De Palma 'Redacted'."  BBC adds, "Judge Thomas Russell confirmed Green would serve five consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole."  Deborah Yetter (Courier-Journal) explains, "Friday's federal court hearing was devoted mostly to discussion of technical issues related to Green's sentencing report, although it did not change Green's sentence. He was convicted in May of raping and murdering Abeer al-Janabi, 14, and murdering her parents, Kassem and Fakhriya, and her sister, Hadeel, 6, at their home outside Baghdad."
Green was tried in civilian court because he had already been discharged before the War Crimes were discovered.  Following the gang-rape and murders, US soldiers attempted to set fire to Abeer's body to destroy the evidence and attempted to blame the crimes on "insurgents."  In real time, when the bodies were discovered, the New York Times was among the outlets that ran with "insurgents."  Green didn't decide he wanted to be in the military on his own.  It was only after his most recent arrest -- after a long string of juvenile arrests -- while sitting in jail and fearing what sentence he would face, that Green decided the US Army was just the place he wanted to be.  Had he been imprisoned instead or had the US military followed rules and guidelines, Green wouldn't have gotten in on a waiver.  Somehow his history was supposed to translate into "He's the victim!!!!"  As if he (and the others) didn't know rape was a crime, as if he (and the others) didn't know that murder was considered wrong.  Green attempted to climb up on the cross again today.  AP's Brett Barrouguere quotes the 'victim' Green insisting at today's hearing, "You can act like I'm a sociopath.  You can act like I'm a sex offender or whatever.  If I had not joined the Army, if I had not gone to Iraq, I would not have got caught up in anything."  Climb down the cross, drama queen.  Your entire life was about leading up to a moment like that.  You are a sociopath.  You stalked a 14-year-old Iraqi girl while you were stationed at a checkpoint in her neighborhood.  You made her uncomfortable and nervous, you stroked her face.  She ran to her parents who made arrangements for her to go live with others just to get her away from you, the man the army put there to protect her and the rest of the neighborhood.  You are one sick f**k and you deserve what you got.  Green play drama queen and insist "you can act like I'm a sex offender" -- he took part in and organized a gang-rape of a 14-year-old girl.  That's a sex offender.  In fact, "sex offender" is a mild term for what Green is.
Steven D. Green made the decision to sign up for the US military.  He was facing criminal punishment for his latest crimes, but he made the decision.  Once in the military, despite his long history of arrests, he didn't see it as a chance to get a fresh start.  He saw it as a passport for even more crimes.  What he did was disgusting and vile and it is War Crimes and by doing that he disgraced himself and the US military.  His refusal to take accountability today just demonstrates the realities all along which was Green did what he wanted and Green has no remorse.  He sullied the name of the US military, he sullied the name of the US.  As a member of the army, it was his job to follow the rules and the laws and he didn't do so.  And, as a result, a retaliation kidnapping of US soldiers took place in the spring of 2006 and those soldiers were strung up and gutted.  That should weigh heavily on Steven D. Green but there's no appearance that he's ever thought of anyone but himself.  He wants to act as if the problem was the US military which requires that you then argue that anyone serving in Iraq could have and would have done what he did.  That is not reality.  He does not represent the average soldier and he needs to step down from the cross already.

 AFP notes, "During closing arguments at his sentencing, Green was described alternately as 'criminal and perverse' and deserving of the death penalty, and as a 'broken warrior" whose life should be spared'."  Brett Barrouquere (AP) has been covering the story for years now.  He notes that Patrick Bouldin (defense) attempted to paint Green as the victim as well by annoucing that Green wanted to take responsibility "twice" before but that Assistant US Attorney Marisa Ford explained that was right before jury selection began and in the midst of jury selection.  In other words, when confronted with the reality that he would be going to trial, Steven D. Green had a panic moment and attempted to make a deal with the prosecution.  (The offer was twice rejected because the 'life in prison' offer included the defense wanting Green to have possible parole.)  Steve Robrahn, Andrew Stern and Paul Simao (Reuters) quote US Brig Gen Rodney Johnson ("Commanding General of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command") stating, "We sincerely hope that today's sentencing helps to bring the loved ones of this Iraqi family some semblance of closure and comfort after this horrific and senseless act."

2009 is when Steven D. Green went on trial and was convicted.  It's cute of Mark and his assholes to lie in the CRAPAPEDIA entry that when the 2007 film was released Steven was on trial and facing the death penalty.  And if you're going to lie, the place to do it is CRAPAPEDIA.  

As disclosed before many times, Brian De Palma is a friend.  Mark Cuban is scum. 


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