Sunday, February 21, 2010

How the Dalai Lama got into Tiger Woods' pants

I admit, I am not a fan of the Dalai Lama. Personally, while I stand by the plight of the people of Tibet, I don't know what this man has done to deserve so much fanfare.

The Chinese, who periodically moan and groan whenever a Western official meets with the Buddhist leader, are as much to blame for his cult of personality.

Nevertheless, I wouldn't necessarily say that the Dalai Lama is an evil man, even though he seemed to be out of touch with reality when he said:

"Of course, I have great respect for, in fact, I love President Bush, because he is very frank, very straightforward. His intentions are good, but some of his policy in spite of his sincere motivation and right goal, and some of his method becomes unrealistic because of lack of understanding about reality."
How a man allegedly of peace, who campaigns on behalf of his occupied people, can say he has respect for Bush, a man who has destroyed the peace ... well it's beyond me. Is he being diplomatic, and if so, are we to understand that diplomacy comes before the guiding tenets of Buddhism?

I will just call the Dalai Lama stupid.

Moving along, however, how related is the Dalai Lama visit to the US with Tiger (has) Wood? Sure, Tiger has shed light on his Buddhism but that's like asking the Pope what he thinks of Raul Julia.

On February 20, the Dalai Lama was in Beverly Hills to support a charity organization which advocates better care for orphans around the world. Given the latest disaster in Haiti, such support is well-timed.

But some journalist decided to ask the Dalai Lama what he thought of Woods' sexcapades. Say what? Why would the Dalai Lama care; furthermore, why not ask the Dalai Lama about Haiti or orphans around the world?

No, Woods' dick and where he put it and how often was the most pressing issue. AP reported it, FOX News ran it et voila, you have yet another brilliant example of journocrapitalism.


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Al Jazeera's website wakes up

Someone put things right. Finally. Even though it comes some 12 hours late.

But the BBC News Americas website remains a mystery. Do they just not like the news out of the US Department of Justice. As of 10 EST, the BBC has already reported on Alexander Haig's passing away, but still nothing on the torture memo.

Hmmm ...

Al Jazeera, BBC go apeshit over Tiger Woods

What a disappointing day for journalism.

Take a look at this snapshot from the BBC News Americas website.

The lead story is "Repentant Woods sorry for affairs".

Nowhere on that page is there any mention of the Department of Justice's ruling following an investigation into the memos sent out by two Bush administration lawyers authorizing the use of aggressive interrogation techniques, including the much-maligned waterboarding, etc.

Compare the BBC website's choice of leading stories with oh, say the Huffington Post:

The Huffington Post is leading with the story, and has an interesting play on words to express ... well, dismay, for one.

This was the Huff Post front page as of 0500 EST.

The Huff Post also includes several links to other news stories related to this as well as entries by their usual slew of bloggers.

One would expect a story such as this, which paved the way for all kinds of human rights violations in Bagram, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to be picked up by the world press. Alright, maybe not the whole world cares, but one would expect a news organization like Al Jazeera, which has championed itself as the network which covers stories other media to do not, to cover such an event.

Disappointingly, no. Al Jazeera English as of 0600 EST has not yet made any mention of the DOJ report, but has covered and written on its website extensively about the Tiger Woods affair.

Both Al Jazeera English's TV coverage and website have failed to cover the DOJ story.

Arabic Al Jazeera metioned the DOJ story in its morning news hour, but nothing yet on its website.

One has to question what is going on. Arabic Al Jazeera has a huge stake in covering this story, particularly since one of their own cameramen, Sami Haj, was held at Guantanamo and, by his own accounts and those of his lawyers, torture in lieu of the aforementioned memos.

Did the Al Jazeera networks drop the ball? Or are they chugging along on the BBC railroad?

These are difficult questions, to be sure, but they must be asked. How can we, as media consumers, trust the media, any media?

The Tiger Woods story has transfixed audiences, mostly in North America, and the BBC and Al Jazeera (at least English). Both the BBC and Al Jazeera are hoping to lure the audience with lurid stories of affairs and sexual romps. This is what sells. It is a shame that the BBC chose to lead with this story on its Americas page.

But it is a travesty that Al Jazeera is quickly failing its audiences and falling into the pit of journocrapitalism.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Martin Indyk, the US-Islamic World Forum, and sleeping with the Qataris

There is something seriously wrong with this picture:

On the right is Martin Indyk, two-time US ambassador to Israel and an influential policy-maker in previous US administrations.

On the left is what appears to be a Qatari official from that country's foreign ministry.

The picture was taken in February 2007, during the 4th annual US-Islamic World Forum hosted by the Brookings Institution in Doha.

The picture at first look does not appear to be all that disturbing. Unless you scratch the surface and smell what lies underneath.

Martin Indyk is a tireless zionist and protector of the State of Israel. Most of his policies, advice to US presidents, and statements have defended Israeli actions in the Middle East as well as protected Israel from its "enemies".

For one, he was the architect of the dual containment policy which Madeline Albright, former US secretary of state, so defended when asked if the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children were worth the price of going after an Iraqi dictator. The UN says that 1.7 million Iraqis died during the 12-year sanctions regimen on Iraq.

Indyk is also a former AIPAC official and former director of the Washington Institute for Near East Studies, which insisted Iraq had nuclear weapons and legitimized the invasion and occupation of that oil-rich nation.

He has long harbored opposition to not only Iraq, but Iran as well, citing both as the biggest threats to Middle East stability and to Israel. He now advocates that the US move on from Iraq, having carried out the job there successfully. The success is that Iraq lies in ruins, its industry and infrastructure in decay, its people at each others' throats. In fact, Indyk was privvy to policy discussions on Iraq weapons of mass destruction programs and was in support that Iraq, despite UN evidence to the contrary, was building nuclear weapons.

Now, the picture becomes troubling when we consider that Indyk heads the Brookings Institution's Saban Centre, which co-organizes the US-Islamic World forum in Doha. It held its latest forum on February 13-15, 2010 to much pomp and circumstance.

Now that Iraq, one of the two primary concerns weighing on Indyk's mind, has been neutralized, the soundbites to emerge from the forum were principally of war, not talk.

Indyk, we are sure, never failed to push on the "Muslim World" the strategies outlined in Which Path to Persia? written for and by the Saban Center in August. What is alarming about all this is that the authors of this treatise on dealing with Iran have all at one time or another supported sanctions as part of dual-containment and advocated a speedy invasion of Iraq.

We are in deja vu mode. The approach to bamboozling the world on Iraq worked so well that the same architects of war are now marching on Iran.

Hillary Clinton, the staunch Israel supporter and current US secretary of state, called Iran a military dictatorship, thereby setting the stage for a US media blitz that will justify any military action against a dictatorship. Dictatorships are bad, evil, militaristic, conniving, duplicitous and untrustworthy. Unfortunately, this thick brush will be used to gloss over all of Iran - civilian and military alike.

Any war on Iran will sink the entire Arab Persian Gulf States. Each of the six members of the GCC, barring Saudi Arabia, host a large, animated Shia population. If Iran is attacked, the Kingdom of Bahrain will be overthrown by its 80 per cent Shia majority. Kuwait will witness a civil war. The UAE will watch as its economy - staggering along thanks in part to its thriving Iranian mercantile class - sinks to sub-zero level and countries like Qatar ... well, it will find itself unable to choose who to sleep with.

Qatari officials lambaste Israeli policies, but play host in Doha to architects and supporters of those policies. They talk of solidarity with the besieged peoples of Gaza but are in bed with US politicians who have enforced the strangulation of the Gaza Strip.

On February 15, an Iranian battleship docked in Doha. The Qatari chief of staff visited aboard the ship.

What I don't understand is why the Arab press is not all over this contradiction.

Obama's address to the Muslim World falls flat ...

We live in the age of lawlessness. Western democracies which extol the virtues of a free press, libertarianism, and human rights have again and again flaunted the very essence of these principles they are attempting to sow in other countries.

From Guantanamo to Bagram to secret rendition to waterboarding, international law is barely worth the paper it is printed on. It is a device used by Western powers to propagate strategic policies in the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.

Bringing to justice Western heads of state who launch pre-emptive wars - and in the process kill hundreds of thousands - is an exercise in futility. Nevertheless, the pursuit of justice far outweighs in importance the pursuit of happiness, and some do-gooders continue to try.

But in the age of lawlessness, there is room for comedy. And the absurd.

On February 13-14, the gas-rich state of Qatar began hosting the Seventh US-Islamic World Forum - an event which brings luminaries from opposite ends of the "divide" together to discuss bridging misunderstandings wrought by the unfortunate events of 9-11.

President Barack Obama addressed the opening ceremony saying:
Yet you also know that the United States and Muslims around the world have often slipped into a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust that can lead to conflict rather than cooperation.

That is why in Cairo last year I called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect. I laid out a vision where we all embrace our responsibilities to build a world that is more peaceful and secure. It has only been eight months since Cairo, and much remains to be done. But I believe we've laid the groundwork to turn those pledges into action ...
Is it poignant to remind everyone that it has been seven years since the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq?

It is kind of ironic that I mention Iraq. Yes, I know you will say that Iraq is now a democracy and that it has been liberated from an evil dictator and that the stores are full of commercial items, wages are higher, Iraqis can travel, etc.

But on the very eve of the convening of this World Forum, 10 Iraqi civilians were killed in a US military operation in Maysan province near the Iranian border. The US military claimed it had killed 5 insurgents, but local officials in Maysan insisted that those killed were innocent bystanders.

The above news report carried by most news agencies highlights that there is no security in Iraq, that the US is still a military occupier, and that Iraqi lives remain as forfeit as they did in 2003.

There can be no new beginning based on mutual respect, Mr. Obama, as long as your military continues to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan, maintains bases in Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Jordan and soon playing at a theater of tragedy near you - Yemen.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Getting off the information superhighway

The Internet was supposed to liberate. Instead, it has shackled the audience to a sordid entanglement of poorly written, poorly researched, and poorly presented information masquerading as journalism. If this is the "Information Highway", am getting off.

I haven't blogged in about three years. During this absence, the media has gone stir crazy. In 2009, for example, we had Obamamania, Michael Jackson overkill (ooops!), balloon boy bullshit, Brangelina fanaticism, and climate change conundrums - to name a few - which diverted our attention from real issues such as global terrorism, the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia. When millions of American viewers are glued to their TV sets watching a balloon allegedly carrying a boy rather than taking just five minutes to reflect on the plight of millions of destitute peoples around the world ... well, Houston we have a problem.

It's enough to drive anyone mad. As a result, I decided to shed some light on the dire darkness that global media has created around us. From the Murdoch-owned empire of evil to the so-called independent media groups like Al Jazeera, etc, this blog will attempt to pinpoint exactly where the system went wrong.

I am an amateur historian, a professor of journalism, who has worked in the industry for 18 years and who has watched the media consumer lose control of a tool originally designed to service the audience.

And so, we begin ...

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