Thursday, August 28, 2008

Fantasyland Media:

News fashioned by the people in charge, the corporations and your government. Each week, we cover the stories that are just left out of the US propaganda machine.


"SAN FRANCISCO - Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan qualified Friday for a November showdown with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, collecting the signatures needed to get on the ballot as an independent candidate for Congress.

"We're very excited," said Sheehan, 51, the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq who is well-known for her protest outside President Bush's Texas ranch. "Now we have to get organized and regroup."

Republican Dana Walsh and Libertarian Philip Berg will join Pelosi and Sheehan on the Nov. 4 ballot."

--->The NY Times didn't think it newsworthy that the Speaker of the House will be challenged in November by an antiwar candidate. It didn't run this story. In fact, Times consistently fails to report antiwar sentiment as well as political action.


"Two boats carrying dozens of international activists sailed into the Gaza Strip in defiance of an Israeli blockade yesterday. They were greeted by jubilant Palestinians after a two-day journey marred by communications troubles and rough seas. The 46 activists from 14 countries include Lauren Booth, sister-in-law of Tony Blair.

Since sailing from Cyprus early on Friday, the mission by the US-based Free Gaza Movement had been in question. Israel initially hinted it would prevent the vessels from reaching Gaza, but relented after determining the activists did not pose a security threat.

Israel imposed its blockade in June 2007 after Hamas seized power in Gaza. Israel has closed its trade crossings with the territory, while neighbouring Egypt sealed its passenger crossing, confining Gaza's 1.4 million residents. Israel has allowed only basic supplies into Gaza, causing shortages of fuel, electricity and basic goods."

--->The NY Times has blockaded this story for weeks, although it has been carried in most of the foreign press. When the NY Times finally covered the landing in Gaza, its story started with a statement by an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman. There was no mention of Israeli's threats, or of its jamming of communication equipment that had made the crossing dangerous in bad weather. Whatever the story, The NY Times can be counted on to portray Israel in a favorable light.


"NEW YORK (Reuters) - A nuclear power plant that lies within commuting distance of New York City is more likely to be shaken by an earthquake than previously thought because it sits atop a newly identified intersection of two active seismic zones, scientists said.

The Indian Point nuclear reactor is within a mile or two of both a seismic zone running from Stamford, Connecticut, to Peekskill, New York, and the Ramapo seismic line, said the study by seismologists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Large earthquakes are infrequent around New York compared to more active areas like California, but the risk is higher because of the millions of people that live around the largest U.S. city and the infrastructure surrounding it, said Lynn Sykes, the lead author of the study.."

--->The NY Times take on this story is a bit more benign. "With the new data, engineers could better analyze what types of forces the plant might experience in an earthquake along that fault." No mention of the increased likelihood if an earthquake around Indian Point. Nothing but a comforting reassurances: "The Appalachians Mountains were first pushed up several hundred million years ago, and those ancient large faults, including the Ramapo fault that also passes near Indian Point, have been quiet."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Fantasyland Media:

News fashioned by the people in charge, the corporations and your government. Each week, we cover the stories that are just left out of the US propaganda machine.


"The good news is that, at the present rate of progress, reliable missile defence is only 50 years away. The bad news is that it has been 50 years away for the past six decades.

The system has been in development since 1946, and so far it has achieved a grand total of nothing. You wouldn't know it if you read the press releases published by the Pentagon's missile defense agency: the word "success" features more often than any other noun. It is true that the programme has managed to hit two out of the five missiles fired over the past five years during tests of its main component, the ground-based midcourse missile defence (GMD) system. But, sadly, these tests bear no relation to anything resembling a real nuclear strike.

All the trials run so far - successful or otherwise - have been rigged. The target, its type, trajectory and destination, are known before the test begins... In order to try to enhance the appearance of success, recent flight tests have become even less realistic: the agency has now stopped using decoys altogether when testing its GMD system...

If we seek to understand American foreign policy in terms of a rational engagement with international problems, or even as an effective means of projecting power, we are looking in the wrong place. The government's interests have always been provincial. It seeks to appease lobbyists, shift public opinion at crucial stages of the political cycle, accommodate crazy Christian fantasies and pander to television companies run by eccentric billionaires. The US does not really have a foreign policy. It has a series of domestic policies which it projects beyond its borders. That they threaten the world with 57 varieties of destruction is of no concern to the current administration. The only question of interest is who gets paid and what the political kickbacks will be."

--->150 billion on a scam? How is it that the US media can't figure this out? This analysis is from the Guardian in the UK. Don't look for such honesty in the pages of the NY Times.


"WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is refusing to disclose records about a new class of pesticides that could be playing a role in the disappearance of millions of honeybees in the United States, a lawsuit filed Monday charges.

The Natural Resources Defense Council wants to see the studies that the EPA required when it approved a pesticide made by Bayer CropScience five years ago. The environmental group filed the suit as part of an effort to find out how diligently the EPA is protecting honeybees from dangerous pesticides, said Aaron Colangelo, a lawyer for the group in Washington.

Bees pollinate about one-third of the human diet, $15 billion worth of U.S. crops...Clothianidin is the pesticide at the center of controversy. It is used to coat corn, sugar beet and sorghum seeds and is part of a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids. The pesticide was blamed for bee deaths in France and Germany, which also is dealing with a colony collapse. Those two countries have suspended its use until further study. An EPA fact sheet from 2003 says clothianidin has the potential for toxic chronic exposure to honey bees, as well as other pollinators, through residues in nectar and pollen."

--->The NY Times has reported on bee deaths (April 24, 2007), but keeps US readers in the dark about chemicals like Clthianidin. The NY Times, like the EPA, puts the profits of chemical companies above the common good.


"Though the national sentiment favors wrapping up the Iraq War, there exists a small but powerful movement for starting a new military conflict with Iran. The bipartisan drumbeats for aggression reverberate throughout the corridors of Congress. House Resolution 362 and Senate Resolution 580, for example, call on the United States to prevent Iran from "acquiring a nuclear weapons capability through all appropriate economic, political, and diplomatic means...The "squeeze Iran" and "confront Iran" positions are strongly encouraged by the increasingly powerful Zionist Christian Fundamentalist community (Christians United for Israel: CUFI).

According to a Nation article, White House officials met with CUFI leaders in 2006 in a series of off-the-record meetings to discuss its policies in the Middle East. "CUFI's Washington lobbyist, David Brog, told me that during the meetings, CUFI representatives pressed White House officials to adopt a more confrontational posture toward Iran, refuse aid to the Palestinians and give Israel a free hand as it ramped up its military conflict with Hezbollah," Blumenthal wrote. Brog, who serves as CUFI's Executive Director, couldn't disclose who CUFI leaders met with at the White House.

--->Christian Zionist organizations pushing for war on Iran? Links to present and past members of the Bush administration (like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, David Wurmser, Douglas Feith, and Elliott Abrams)? Links to McCain's Reverand Hagee? While the NY Times has reported on such links, it has failed to report the influence of this powerful group on US foreign policy.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Fantasyland Media

Vital unresolved anthrax questions and ABC News.

After 9/11 itself, the anthrax attacks were probably the most consequential event of the Bush presidency. One could make a persuasive case that they were actually more consequential. The 9/11 attacks were obviously traumatic for the country, but in the absence of the anthrax attacks, 9/11 could easily have been perceived as a single, isolated event. It was really the anthrax letters -- with the first one sent on September 18, just one week after 9/11 -- that severely ratcheted up the fear levels and created the climate that would dominate in this country for the next several years after. It was anthrax -- sent directly into the heart of the country's elite political and media institutions, to then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-Vt), NBC News anchor Tom Brokow, and other leading media outlets -- that created the impression that social order itself was genuinely threatened by Islamic radicalism...

If the now-deceased Ivins really was the culprit behind the attacks, then that means that the anthrax came from a U.S. Government lab, sent by a top U.S. Army scientist at Ft. Detrick. Without resort to any speculation or inferences at all, it is hard to overstate the significance of that fact. From the beginning, there was a clear intent on the part of the anthrax attacker to create a link between the anthrax attacks and both Islamic radicals and the 9/11 attacks.

Note found: "09/11/01 This is next. Take Penacilin Now. Death to America, death to Israel. Allah is great."

Much more important than the general attempt to link the anthrax to Islamic terrorists, there was a specific intent -- indispensably aided by ABC News -- to link the anthrax attacks to Iraq and Saddam Hussein.

During the last week of October, 2001, ABC News, led by Brian Ross, continuously trumpeted the claim as their top news story that government tests conducted on the anthrax -- tests conducted at Ft. Detrick -- revealed that the anthrax sent to Daschele contained the chemical additive known as bentonite. ABC News, including Peter Jennings, repeatedly claimed that the presence of bentonite in the anthrax was compelling evidence that Iraq was responsible for the attacks, since -- as ABC variously claimed -- bentonite "is a trademark of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's biological weapons program" and "only one country, Iraq, has used bentonite to produce biological weapons." Glenn Greenwald,

-->In the rush to close this case, much is being left out. Ivins was a Christian Zionist (by his writings). The US government was intricately involved in both the original attack, and the attempt to link the attack to Iraq. All these vital details are omitted by NY Times stories. We have to ask why the media is so eager to close this chapter in the origins of the Iraq invasion. Obviously, there is a lot to be hidden. Perhaps it is even the "smoking gun" of the Bush administration.


"Israel's secret police are pressuring Palestinians in Gaza to spy on their community in exchange for urgent medical treatment, according to a report released today by an Israeli human rights organization (Physicians for Human Rights)...

Refusal to cooperate often results in the denial of medical treatment. Based on the testimonies of more than 30 Palestinians - 11 of which are published - the report says the Shin Bet is using coercion and extortion to force patients to collaborate."

-->Like most stories critical of Israel, this report was censored out of the NY Times reporting on the Middle East.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Fantasyland Media

"JERUSALEM - Taking the protest against the Gaza blockade to a new level, two boats packed with foreign left-wing activists will attempt to sail from Cyprus to the sealed Gaza harbor in two weeks’ time.0726 03 1

The operation is being directed by members of the International Solidarity Movement and the Israeli Commission against House Demolitions. A Web site, FreeGaza, has been set up to collect donations and update the public.

The group - which numbers some 40 activists - has purchased two boats, one called SS Free Gaza and the other SS Liberty, named after the USS Liberty that was mistakenly bombed by the Israel Air Force during the Six Day War. Thirty-four American sailors were killed in the bombing."

-->The US media, including the NY Times, has completely avoided this story. We must go to an Israeli paper, the Jerusalem Post, for an accurate reporting on this dramatic attempt by international activist to break the Gaza blockade.


The headline atop Saturday’s op-ed page was a hallowed standby for the New York Times: “Americans Move to the Middle.” Assembled by Times “visual columnist” Charles Blow, the text of the column was dwarfed by 15 graphs tracking recent movement in American public opinion, based on Gallup polls. There was one problem: the headline totally distorted the data.

An accurate headline would have been “American Opinion Moves Leftward” — but accuracy was apparently trumped by centrist ideology....


– “The Iraq war has made the U.S. less safe from terrorism.” 37% in 2003 and 49% four years later.

– “The government is spending too much for national defense and military purposes.” 19% in Feb. 2001 and 44% in Feb. 2008.

– “Organized religion should have less influence in this nation.” 22% in Jan. 2001 and 34% in Jan. 2008.

"The reality is that longterm trends in American opinion are generally leftward on issues, as documented in well-researched studies.

It’s a reality that troubles those Beltway pundits who constantly goad Barack Obama toward “the center” on issues like Iraq and NAFTA — when they mean, move away from the center of mass opinion and upwards toward the center of elite opinion."

-->Article by Jeff Cohen, director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College. He founded the media watch group FAIR in 1986.


"The United States security coordinator for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, retired general James Jones, is preparing an extremely critical report of Israel’s policies in the territories and its attitude toward the Palestinian Authority’s security services.

A few copies of the report’s executive summary (or, according to some sources, a draft of it) have been given to senior Bush Administration officials, and it is reportedly arousing considerable discomfort. In recent weeks, the administration has been debating whether to allow Jones to publish his full report, or whether to tell him to shelve it and make do with the summary, given the approaching end of President George Bush’s term...

According to both Israeli and American sources, the envoy’s conclusions about Israel are scathing. Israelis who met with Jones on his most recent visit here a few weeks ago, including Israel Defense Forces officers, said their impression was that the report would be “very harsh, and make Israel look very bad.”

-->This story about US Israeli relations is similarly missing from our mainstream media, including the NY Times. This story, printed in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, fills us in on what our own government is doing. The NY Times cares more about protecting Israel's reputation than most news media in Israel itself. Or maybe Israel values freedom of the press more than this country does.


"The dramatic hearing on presidential crimes and abuses of power held on Friday by the House Judiciary Committee was both a staged farce, and at the same time, a powerful demonstration of the power of a grassroots movement in defense of the Constitution. It was at once both testimony to the cowardice and self-inflicted impotence of Congress and of the Democratic Party that technically controls that body, and to the enormity of the damage that has been wrought to the nation’s democracy by two aspiring tyrants in the White House.

As Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the committee, made clear more than once during the six-hour session, this was “not an impeachment hearing, however much many in the audience might wish it to be.” He might well have added that he himself was not the fierce defender of the Constitution and of the authority of Congress that he once was before gaining control of the Judiciary Committee, however much his constituents, his wife, and Americans across the country might wish him to be...."
by Dave Lindorff

-->True to form, the NY Times refuses to print anything about impeachment. Like the rest of the US media, impeachment is "off the table." And this assessment of impeachment's importance trumps US citizens' right to know.