CBC (that's Canada's much better funded equivalent to NPR) Newsworld had some surprisingly good in depth coverage of Israel/Palestine tonight, and will continue to broadcast longer documentary pieces and discussion (Robert Fisk is on on Tuesday) through Tuesday.
NYPress: Interview with Tariq Ali on the state of the Islamic world.
The killing of Danny Pearl, in my opinion, could not have been done without the knowledge of the [Pakistani] intelligence agencies. Any Western journalist, white-skinned journalist, who arrives in that country–not even white-skinned, any foreign journalist who arrives in that country and tries to investigate independently of the Ministry of Information and state agencies–is followed nonstop. They keep tabs on them. So the notion that they don’t know who kidnapped Danny and killed him just beggars belief. It’s just not possible.
You would include the Taliban as one of the fanatical groups created and funded by Pakistan?
Totally. The Taliban could not exist, and in fact ceased to exist, once the Pakistani military withdrew their support.
And Al Qaeda?
This is the story I think Danny was investigating... I have a feeling he got too close to something. The story everyone wants to know is Al Qaeda’s links to Pakistani military intelligence. Most people believe the links are there, and they were there on Sept. 11. Whether [the military] knew about [bin Laden’s plans] no one knows. People don’t even speculate–they don’t want to know. But the links were definitely there. These people were going in and out of Pakistan, landing in Pakistani airports. The circumstantial evidence is there to suggest that Daniel Pearl had got close to this story, and that rogue elements within the intelligence agencies laid a trap for him and he fell into it.
The thing is, the United States must know this. This is the shocking thing. They must know it. Whereas Colin Powell has gone out of his way to say, "We know the Pakistan government was not involved." How do you know that? No one in Pakistan believes that. General Musharraf himself described Daniel as "an over-intrusive" journalist.
Salon: Interview with the author of "the world's most dangerous places" travel guides. It could be titled "dozens of things the press could be paying attention to but isn't".
what do you think is going unreported over there?This from a guy who is anything but anti war, much less anti american. A very interesting interview.
Well, they kill a lot of people. The thing that doesn't come through is that we have killed thousands and thousands and thousands of people and you've very rarely seen an American soldier kill a foreign national [on television]. You've never seen a foreign national kill an American soldier. They're removing the bits that make war what it is and everybody's a hero. You drop a bomb on yourself you get a medal. That's the way the war has been fought.
So what's the way out for significant American troop presence in Afghanistan?
There is no exit strategy. It's absolutely identical to what the Russians did. People respond to what they think is an opportunity. In this case it was an opportunity to overthrow the Taliban leadership, and once you get in there and you destabilize a country, you have a choice: You leave immediately, which would bring down a lot of grief on your heads from the world community, or you stay and try and figure things out. The staying and figuring things out part is a lot more difficult than going in and destabilizing a fairly backward regime. The only thing that concerns me is when George Bush gets full of himself and starts expanding our war to include places as bizarre as North Korea and Iran and Iraq, but doesn't include a lot of the known harbors and supporters of terrorist groups. That makes me nervous.
What are you hearing about us going into Iraq?
They tried to, and then they got told: "You've got to be kidding."
Surely these big-time reporters have these questions and are asking them.
That's not true. You ask Barbara Walters. Why was Barbara Walters in Saudi Arabia? Did she get up one day, buy a ticket and take a camera in with her? No. She was invited by the government as part of a P.R. campaign to convince the American public that the Saudis who flew the planes into the buildings had nothing to do with the country of Saudi Arabia. That's an overt P.R. campaign. Why do you think the military invites journalists into a combat area? Because they know there's going to be a nice clean operation and it'll look good when we blow stuff up and they'll write about how we're winning the war.
Do you think Afghanistan has a chance at a legitimate government?
Yeah, if they start writing checks to Afghans. The problem is they're writing all these checks to Americans. They just wrote a check for $6.5 million to a university in, I think, Nebraska or something to create textbooks for Afghanistan. Well, Christ, for that kind of money they could set up an entire printing outfit and fly people over there to set up a state-of-the-art document processing system.
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Dack.com's "perpetual warlog" is really pretty good. Predicting America's next target in the war on terror and Am I a Terrorist or a Member of Al-Qaeda or a Taliban Fighter or Not? are some good examples of what can be done with a strict "show, don't tell" ethic. All the images and news reports come from yahoo.
Wired News: AOL posts $54 Billion loss. Too bad they didn't actually lose $54 billion in cash, or I would miss all that entertaining content that they serve up.
There were between 75,000 and 100,000 protesting various wars in Washington DC last weekend. That's well over the number of people who showed up in Quebec City. As usual, the corporate media made the numbers fuzzy by saying "thousands", "over 10,000", or "50,000"; the last figure is the estimated number of people attending the largest march, which was one of many.
Funny thing, that. When the Washington Post covered the pro-Israeli rally on April 15, they noted that "by 2 p.m., Metro had carried 354,220 passengers today, or 54,604 more than it did by the same time last Monday." That has to be absolutely the most charitable way possible to assess the number of protesters, as it takes into account pro-Palestinian counter-protesters, media and other observers who were probably bustling back and forth, as well as protesters who rode the subway twice. Such methods (or even accurate ones), however, suddenly disappear when it's people protesting against what the media has, not without a little outside influence, decided is a valid protest and what is not.
As I mentioned a few days ago, the effect of ideology on something as simple as covering the number of people to come out to a protest is bluntly evident. During the anti-FTAA protests in Quebec City a year ago, the local media (who wasn't really pro-protester, just, I hypothesize, less influenced by powerful interests) reported that upwards of 75,000 people had come out. The Globe and Mail (one of two national dailies in Canada) reported 50,000 or so, and the NYTimes noted 20,000. It's not as though there aren't accurate ways of determining these things (or skewing them in the other direction, as the case may be).
I was telling my roommate about the phenomenon I just described this morning, and he smiled wryly and said "conspiracy." So I felt compelled to rant, er, explain that there's a perfectly non-conspiracy theory that explains how these things happen rather accurately. There's pressure from various people and groups; notably, those with the power to pull advertising or fire writers, those who can criticize the media publicly (and get attention doing it), and those upon whom the media is dependent for access to information (notably, the pentagon, white house, and other government). These power structures are constantly reaffirming and perpetuating themselves by hiring writers, editors, and journalists who aren't willing or don't feel the need to tread outside the accepted range of debate. It's still surprising when stuff as blatant as the misconstrual of available data happens, but there's a way to account for it that doesn't require talking about men with cigars in rooms with leather walls making calls.
Edward Said: What Israel has done
There are signs, however, that the amazing, not to say grotesque, nature of these claims (its "fight for existence") is slowly being eroded by the harsh and nearly unimaginable devastation wrought by the Jewish state and its homicidal prime minister, Ariel Sharon. Take this front-page report, "Attacks Turn Palestinian Plans Into Bent Metal and Piles of Dust" by the New York Times's Serge Schmemann (no Palestinian propagandist) on 11 April: "There is no way to assess the full extent of the damage to the cities and towns -- Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarm, Qalqilya, Nablus, and Jenin -- while they remain under a tight siege, with patrols and snipers firing in the streets. But it is safe to say that the infrastructure of life itself and of any future Palestinian state -- roads, schools, electricity pylons, water pipes, telephone lines -- has been devastated." By what inhuman calculus did Israel's army, using 50 tanks, 250 missile strikes a day, and dozens of F-16 sorties, besiege Jenin's refugee camp for over a week, a one square kilometre patch of shacks housing 15,000 refugees and a few dozen men armed with automatic rifles and with no defences whatever, no leaders, no missiles, no tanks, nothing, and call it a response to terrorist violence and the threat to Israel's survival? There are reported to be hundreds buried in the rubble Israeli bulldozers are now trying to heap over the camp's ruins.
There's only one way to make sure that there are no more suicide bombings: get rid of all the people who are capable of carrying a bomb. The same general idea applies to Iraq: the only way to keep chemical weapons from being developed is to bomb them back to a pre-modern age. That is, if you want to keep ignoring the reasonable criticisms of your actions.
The OpenBeOS project seems to be moving along at a nice clip.
Dozens of Israeli flags fluttered in gentle breezes and scores of homemade signs bobbed under a perfect sun as supporters of Israel massed on the west side of the U.S. Capitol today in an impassioned defense of its right to strike back against Palestinian attacks against civilians.I've been to a few protests with similar weather conditions, but never has any description (even on sites like Indymedia) approached the sappy romanticization and one-sidedness contained in that article. The intentionally vague and inflated estimates of turnout are just the icing on this sickly sweet cake. In coverage of the Quebec City protests, however, the number of 75,000 reported by the local media had dwindled to 20,000 by the time the NYTimes had got around to covering it, and one had the impression that it consisted of solely of spoiled, violent white kids, not the crowd that had come from all over the continent to protest peacefully, or the hundreds of people dancing in the streets, even as tear gas filled the air. I'm romanticizing only a little; it was quite moving.
"Words don't work here," said Sausen, 56, a businessman, who said he was "overjoyed" with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's decision to get tough. "I think he should be tougher," he said.Want to feel sad? You can read the weblog entries of people who attended the rally.
Tom Tommorrow summarizes a talk given by Tariq Ali. The speech by the Marine General he quotes at the end is very interesting.
Updates will be few and far between until April 26, the make or break deadline for a large number of essays that I need to finish. But I bet you haven't read that many of my articles yet, so that should keep you busy.
Editorial: Four Little Editorials
[My last] Editorial: Slack for Iraq
NYTimes: Power Steer [via daily churn]
Forgetting, or willed ignorance, is the preferred strategy of many beef eaters, a strategy abetted by the industry. (What grocery-store item is more silent about its origins than a shrink-wrapped steak?) Yet I recently began to feel that ignorance was no longer tenable. If I was going to continue to eat red meat, then I owed it to myself, as well as to the animals, to take more responsibility for the invisible but crucial transaction between ourselves and the animals we eat. I'd try to own it, in other words.
So this is the biography of my cow.
Ariel Sharon: "We must fight this terrorism, in an uncompromising war to uproot these savages, to dismantle their infrastructure, because there is no compromise with terrorists."
Is the whole "infrastructure of terror" obviously incoherent, or am I missing something? In the case of 911, "infrastructure" (though that is far from the right word) might be relevant, since a lot of work needed to be put into getting terrorists onto planes at the same time. But in Israel, the "terrorists" (they are terrorists, but insofar as they do a lot of terrorizing, so are is the Israeli gov'nt) are mostly suicide bombers. This requires a person and a bomb.
So the only "infrastructure" that is there to be dismantled is the very existence of the Palestinian people in the occupied territories. Or more exactly: the very existence of a Palestinian people, many of whom are driven to the edge of despair, as a result of Israeli actions. One could dismantle this infrastructure by ending the occupation and assessing the egregious damages caused over the years and taking steps to rectifying the situation. Or, the Israelis could continue to kill, torture, harrass, torment, and otherwise attempt to drive the Palestinians out on a grand scale, as they have been doing for the past three decades.
In that sense -- but only in that sense -- Sharon's claims are coherent, since getting rid of the Palestinians is the stated and apparent goal of those currently in power.
hope your summer's going well.
just a note on your posting about pakistan: there is an interesting and well-studied disconnect between the pakistani government per se and its intelligence wing. seymour hersh wrote a wonderful new yorker article about it last october (i think, it may have been in november). really quite unreal stuff. you should look it up -- sorry i can't give you a precise issue number, i just tossed my pile of old copies.
in other words, it is somewhat misleading to equate the actions of the pakistani intel agency with the policy of the pakistani gov't. hard for us to grasp, but hersh (as always) does an excellent job depicting it.