....LMB: "The Narcoterrorism Sideshow"....

July 31, 2002

Attorney General John Ashcroft gave a speech at the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Twentieth Anniversary Conference on Tuesday, in which he announced a "shocking" link between drug trafficking and terrorism. According to Ashcroft, "nearly one third of the organizations on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations appear also on our list of targeted U.S. drug suppliers." Not surprisingly, "Ashcroft did not elaborate on which terrorist groups are suspected of being involved in drug-trafficking. Justice Department officials would not comment on what organizations are on the drug trafficking list, except to say that Al Qaeda was one of them."

First of all, this is another infuriating example of the Bush administration making claims, and then refusing to provide the public with the evidence that could prove or disprove their claims. Are terrorists making money off of the drug trade, or is this just an opportunistic ploy by the Justice Department? We'll never know until we see their data.

Frankly, I am pretty sure that it is at least partially true. But it angers me because it is so intentionally misleading and manipulative. There are many definitions of "terrorism," and Ashcroft is exploiting this ambiguity.

To most Americans, "terrorism" means "Islamic militants out to kill Americans." In this context, Ashcroft's claims should be deeply troubling. However, "terrorist" as defined on the State Department's list includes a terrorists who don't give a damn about Islam, or the United States. While I'm sure most Americans would support an intensified drug war that protected them from Islamic terrorists, I don't think they would support an intensified drug war that protected the governments of Peru or Sri Lanka from their guerrilla enemies.

By allowing the issue to be confused in the minds of Americans, "drugs" becomes entwined with "terrorism," allowing the US military and drug interdiction agencies pretty much carte blanche to operate as they see fit in the entire Western Hemisphere, Middle East, and Southeast Asia-- so long as they can claim it had something to do with drugs or terrorism. Not a bad little scam.

Posted by Jake at 09:15 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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