Wednesday, February 06, 2008

FANTASY LAND: US Media

The NY Times reported recently reported that Human Rights Watch, a respected advocacy group, had the following to say about US support of dictators dressed up like elected officials:

"In a scathing report, the organization blamed the United States and Europe for undermining human rights around the world by allowing autocrats to pretend they are democratic simply by holding rigged elections."

So what countries were mentioned by the NY Times? Well there was "Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan." There was Russia and Jordan. But, of course, one important piece in the Human Rights Watch report was left out. The report also strongly condemned Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

Reading from the Guardian in the UK:

Human Rights Watch "criticized Israel for blockading Gaza in response to rocket attacks, describing this as "collective punishment of Gaza's civilian population in violation of international humanitarian law."'

So we have the curious spectacle of the NY Times printing criticism of America's human rights failures while censoring out condemnation of Israel for its blockade and collective punishment of 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza. When it comes down to choosing, the NY Times is more interested in distorting news for Israel than for the United States.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/31/world/31cnd-rights.html?hp
http://www.guardian.co.uk/humanrights/story/0,,2250412,00.html


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The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, known as the "Homegrown Terrorism Bill" passed the House of Representatives, with Kristin Gillibrand voting "yes" for its passage.

What does it do? It clears the way to spy on, infiltrate and prosecute groups that have "extremist beliefs...to advance political or religious or social change." There is no attempt at defining what "extremist" means. It is left up the the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, the same governmental organizations that have harassing groups in the past advocating peace and social justice. Groups mentioned specifically in the House of Representatives debate were those calling for a full investigation of Sept. 11.

The legislation would also target Internet freedom and harshly criticizes the "constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to the United States citizens."

This Monday in Hyde Park, I asked Rep. Gillibrand about her yes vote on the "Homegrown Terrorism Bill" (passed Oct. 23 of this year). She didn't remember the bill, and asked if I knew the bill's number. Even when I read quotes from the bill and explained the major issues, all she could do is assure me that she wouldn't have voted for such legislation. But she did vote for it, and a little over three months ago. Apparently protecting basic civil liberties did not rank that high on her political agenda. Certainly not as high as her constant refrain to "get out the Democratic" vote next November.

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The US has suffered more than 72,000 battlefield casualties since the start of the war on terror in 2001, a Freedom of Information request has revealed.

The query by the campaigning Veterans for Common Sense organization shows that 4,372 American soldiers have died and another 67,671 have been wounded in action, injured in accidents or succumbed to illness in Iraq and Afghanistan. The veterans' group had to force the US Defense Department to release the figures by persuading judges to uphold their FoI rights.

A second request to the Veterans' Administration, the government-funded body responsible for taking care of ex-servicemen and women, showed 263,909 soldiers with experience of the two 21st-century wars have so far received treatment for everything from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the aftermath of amputated limbs.

It also showed 52,375 veterans had been diagnosed with PTSD and 34,138 have received approval for disability claims for the psychological disorder. As of October 31 last year, 1.6 million Americans have been deployed overseas since 2001.
-from The Herald (United Kingdom)

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