The Iraq Election Primer- title says it all. An FAQ about the upcoming Iraqi elections. Hint: they’re not electing a new president.
WMDUH!- Matt Taibbi writes about the media’s treatmetn of the news that the US has given up looking for WMDs in Iraq. He points out that: a) the media keep referring to this news as “little noted”, conveinently ignoring the fact that it is they themselves that did the noting, b) that although there was four months of erroneous pro-war coverage, there will only be about 10 minutes of “whoops, we were wrong” coverage, c) that the media is structured in such a way that nothing even remotely like b) could ever happen, and most importantly, d) he answers the tortured “how did we go wrong?” question the media are pretending to ask themselves:
The answer is this: You lied!
It’s really as simple as that. Everyone knew it was bullshit. I defy Bill Keller to stare me in the face and tell me he didn’t know the whole Iraq war business was a lie from the start. Whether or not there were actually WMDs in Iraq is a canard; this was essentially unknowable at the time. It was the rest of it that was obviously idiotic, yet even the pointiest heads in the business, like the folks at the Times, swallowed it with a smile…
The problem wasn’t a small, isolated ethical error, like Judith Miller’s Chalabi reporting. The error here was not a mistake of fact. The problem was that a central tenet of our system of news reporting dictates that lies of consensus will never be considered punishable mistakes. In other words, once everyone jumps in the water, a story acquires its own legitimacy.
And now we get papers like the Times wondering aloud why they didn’t feel the ground under their feet. Answer: you jumped in the water. And you knew what you were doing.
A Demobilized Press in a Global Free-Fire Zone- Tom Engelhardt runs the interesting site TomDispatch.com, where gets all sorts of smart writers to submit insightful pieces. But for some reason, Engelhardt thinks that these pieces are improved when he slaps 2-10 paragraphs of his own introduction onto the front of these articles. He is wrong. Quite frankly, I find his intros so off-putting that I have decided not to link to some truly fascinating articles, just because I wouldn’t expect anyone to wade through his extra nonsense.
That being said, this article is a piece by Engelhardt and just Engelhardt. He takes about ten times as many words as he needs to, but he does present an interesting point: not only does the American press fail at educating its audience about the world around us, it usually can’t even bring itself to mention more than two countries in a single article. For example, almost any article about Iraq could very reasonably mention the ways that current events will influence and be influenced by the United States, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan. But that sort of depth and complexity is very rare, and thus Americans remain stupid.
Civil Liberties Myopia- short history lesson for folks who’ve only become politicized since the Bush presidency: attacks on Americans’ civil liberties came long before W and 9/11.
The 10 Worst Corporations of 2004- kind of arbirtary, deciding which corporations are truly the worst, but the article does contain a lot of good info about corporate abuse in 2004 that you might have missed.
What Kind of Freedom?- Christian Parenti titled his new book about the Iraq war after a quote from his Iraqi translator:
“Ah, the freedom. Look, we have the gas-line freedom, the looting freedom, the killing freedom, the rape freedom, the hash-smoking freedom. I don’t know what to do with all this freedom.”
The article above is an interview with Parenti about his thoughts on Iraq, given his experience both with the US troops and Iraq, and his time spent with the insurgents.
And Now for Something Completely Different- a happy story. A young hippo stranded by the tsunami was rescued and brought to a zoo in Kenya, where it has now apparently become fast friends with the zoo’s ancient, humungous tortoise. I think that’s neat.
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