Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Ukraine - The Typical Media Bias

As dramatic events are rolling across the Ukraine and its capital Kiev today, several things just can not be pointed out enough. The average American knows nothing of Ukraine, except perhaps that it has good gymnasts and is one of those places that may or may not have been part of the Evil Empire. Those watching the news or reading their local paper this past week have heard about an election involving a pro-Western (or liberal) opposition candidate and pro-Russian, autocrat in the making who deals in poisoning opponents.

Now we have had an election where some of the US-funded exit polling appears to have been wrong (and some of it was right), which triggered Richard Lugar (R) and the EU's Netherlands-chief (conservative) to express complete outrage. The allegations, whether substantiated or large-scale enought to tip the 3 point margin, have caught on in the Western press as proof of a fradualant eleciton, giving the young hooligans and fortunatge capitalists of Kiev to push their well-planned protests - and perhaps stepped up provocation and violence. Pre-made tents were set up in the city center with army-like precision and from the rock concerts to the orange scarves seems aimed squarely at western eyes.

Nevermind the fact that full election results have not been announced, that Ukraine has a established legal process to take up claims of fraud, that I have seen no proof of the allegations and that the US and its proxies in certain capitals see this election as vital to their national interests. I am afraid that this is an example of the 21st Century method of getting Western-backed leaders in power - along with kidnappings called resignations (Haiti, Palestine and Venezuela).

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

US Destorys Iraqi Agricultural Tradtion - and Line Monsanto's Pockets

The American Administrator of the Iraqi CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) government, Paul Bremer, updated Iraq's intellectual property law to 'meet current internationally-recognized standards of protection.' The updated law makes saving seeds for next year's harvest, practiced by 97% of Iraqi farmers in 2002, the standard farming practice for thousands of years across human civilizations, newly illegal. Instead, farmers will have to obtain a yearly license for genetically modified seeds from American corporations. These GM seeds have typically been modified from IP developed over thousands of generations by indigenous farmers like the Iraqis, shared freely like agricultural 'open source.' Other IP provisions for technology in the law further integrate Iraq into the American IP economy.

Powell Had List of Demands That Bush Refused

From the Washington Post, November 16th
..."one government official with personal knowledge of the situation said Powell had second thoughts and had prepared a list of conditions under which he would be willing to stay. They included greater engagement with Iran and a harder line with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."

Well, it seems clear that the Bush Administration is determined to have none of this. It's intention is to clean house of any voice of mederation in their quest to rewrite the rules of Empire. Along with Alberto Gonzales and the CIA desertions, it is plain to see there is a purge going on and that loyalty and consolidation matter most. Bush must truly believe this mandate business. Now the only bastion of people thinking about the reprocussions of hegemony in the Adminstration - the CIA and State Department - are decimated. Let the fun begin!

Thursday, November 11, 2004


This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

What is The Story?

Examining the coverage of 2 trajedies - the death of Abu Ammar (Arafat) and the appointment of Alberto Gonzales as the county's top law authority - shows the media for what it is. Instead of sharpening independent criticism with the end of the election, the media is not getting the story right.

On Arafat's death, I've already heard things like "considered a terrorist by many" (NPR/CNN) and "what militant group will take power next?" (MSNBC) and "life marked by terror and greed" (NY Daily News). I can't even bear to turn on Fox... In some ways it opens an interesting argument on what is a terrorist and what is a hero, but the tone on this sad day of respect and mourning is just disgusting. Even Bush knew better than not Arafat him a terrorist. T

he most important thing about Arafat's life is that he almost single-handedly brought the Palestinian issue to bear - and that is why he is an enemy to Zionism - no one else. Arafat signed at least 5 peace deals and history knows that Israel violated and killed most of those. Now it's main excuse is gone and maybe history's blessing will finally reward the ravaged people a State.

Then of course, we couple that with the sight of mangled Iraq War veterns today on CNN.

And then on "Deciding What's Salient About Gonzales"

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Thursday, November 11, 2004; 10:59 AM
What's the most important thing about White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, who President Bush nominated yesterday to replace Attorney General John D. Ashcroft?

That he would be the first Hispanic attorney general?

That he has been a longtime and deeply loyal friend to the president?

That he championed legal arguments that some critics say laid the groundwork for the abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison?

Clearly, all three are important. The first is neat. The second is telling. The third is horrifying, if true. All three are mentioned in pretty much all of today's major media coverage.

But what, as we say in the newspaper business, is the lead?

I parsed the first descriptive phrases of the main news stories about Gonzales by several major media organizations. Here's what they went with:

• Washington Post: Longtime friend.

• New York Times: Longtime political loyalist.

• Los Angeles Times: Loyal friend; aggressive advocate for strengthening Bush's powers as a wartime commander.

• USA Today: Bush confidant, first Hispanic.

• Wall Street Journal: Son of Mexican immigrants; close, longtime adviser to Bush.

• Chicago Tribune: Friend; first Hispanic.

• Knight Ridder: First Hispanic; longtime friend.

• CBS Evening News: Loyal longtime ally; under fire for legal arguments in war on terror.

• NBC Nightly News: Mexican American; friend.

• ABC World News Tonight: Friend; anything but a country-club Republican.

• Associated Press: Helped shape controversial legal strategy in the war on terror; first Hispanic.

• Reuters: Son of migrant workers; Bush confidant; shaper of legal opinions about prisoner treatment.

Is the whole "torture memo" issue just too complicated to get at in the lead of a story, or is it a relative non-issue? We'll have to wait until the confirmation hearings to find out.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Venceremos (We Will Win!)

The leftward march in Latin America showed its force over the weekend in 4 critical elections.

In the (once) middle-class, normally sedate country of Uruguay, a socialist named Tabare Vazquez, was elected President for the first time in the country’s history. The election also signaled the end of an era where the country was dominated by two centrist parties since the end of dictatorship in 1985.

In Venezuela, candidates loyal to leftist President Hugo Chavez swept 20 of 23 state governorships and won the influential Caracas mayor's post. It was a crushing defeat for the opposition, already demoralized by the president's victory in an August referendum. Chavez proclaimed on Monday "the revolution is here to stay," and that "Latin America's great people are rising up."

In Chile’s Mayoral and City Council elections, President Ricardo Lagos’ Socialist Party coalition, which has ruled Chile for 15 years, took 45 percent of votes and the right-wing opposition got 39 percent. While bolstering the President, the election was perhaps more significant for the strong showing of small leftist parties that are not yet represented in Congress.

And in Brazil, the Worker’s Party (PT) of President Lula da Silva, doubled the total municipalities they governed in elections that finished with run-offs over the weekend. The PT’s losses in a few large cities (to the Social Democrats) was blamed more on local issues than Lula’s leadership, which remains popular.