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It's the Little Lies That Torpedo the News Stars - As Brian Williams Has Found to His Cost Last Week

Embellishment and bravado are often punished more harshly than the untruths that cause wars


The exposure of fake or exaggerated tales of journalistic derring-do by Brian Williams, the anchor of NBC Nightly News now suspended without pay, will ignite a small glow of satisfaction in the breasts of many foreign correspondents. The arrival of anchors, editors or “celebrity” correspondents in the middle of a crisis, war, or at any other time, has always been the bane of reporters on the ground. I remember a friend on Time magazine, in the days when it was a power in the land 40 years ago, vainly trying to explain to his bosses why he was having difficulty arranging their fact-finding tour of Kuwait in the middle of Ramadan.

Williams’s credibility first began to disintegrate when he was challenged on his claim that he had been in a Chinook helicopter that was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in the Iraq War of 2003. In fact, the missile hit a Chinook flying half an hour ahead of his own. But he wasn’t the only journalist to be carried away by the idea that his life was in imminent danger at that time. I was then in Irbil, the Kurdish capital, and used to enjoy visiting a hotel called, so far as I recall, the Irbil Tower. Fox News was based on an upper floor of the hotel, the entrance to which, opposite the lift, was protected by a sandbag emplacement though not a shot was fired in Irbil during the conflict. In fact, the Fox team really was in some danger – a nervous receptionist at the front desk told me – because the weight of the sandbags was such that it might lead to the collapse of the shoddily built hotel.

Journalists very seldom lie about their war exploits, because, among other reasons, they are likely to be exposed by their colleagues. Usually, there is no reason to lie because almost any story can be given an appearance of truthfulness by judicious selection of the facts. My father, Claud Cockburn, an author and journalist, got into trouble for attacking what he called “the heresy of the facts”, making the point that there are not a finite number of facts lying around like nuggets of gold ore in the Yukon until they are picked up by some journalistic prospector. He argued that, on the contrary, there are an infinite number of facts and it is the judgement of the journalist that decides which are significant or insignificant. He explained that, in a sense, all stories are written backwards, beginning with the writer’s “take” on what matters and only then proceeding to a search for facts that he or she judges to be important. All this seemed to my father to be a matter of common sense, and he was taken aback to be criticised for confusing decent truth-loving reporters with black-hearted propagandists who make up stories.

Of course, some stories are faked, such as the one in 1990 about babies in a Kuwait hospital being tipped out of incubators by invading Iraqi soldiers and left to die on the floor. But a good propagandist or even a journalist looking for a good story does not have to fabricate; a selective approach to the facts is all that is needed. I remember going to Libya in the early 1990s when there was some prospect of a US invasion. Absolutely nothing was happening and the scores of journalists who had arrived on the same mission as myself waited impatiently until they could go home.

Full article: http://www.unz.com/pcockburn/its-the-little-lies-that-torpedo-the-news-stars-as-brian-williams-has-found-to-his-cost-last-week/

The Secrets of Food Marketing

By Compassion in World Farming
Monday, Feb 16, 2015


Stop All the Horror!

by Jack A. Smith / February 16th, 2015

The religo-fascist Islamic State’s penchant for beheading opponents and innocents, and its intentional burning to death of a Jordanian pilot captured after his jet was downed is, of course, horrific, as is its slaughter of prisoners, the torture and murder of fellow Muslims and others, and its abduction and violation of women. Most recently, IS released a video showing the beheadings by its militants of 21 Egyptian Christian immigrant workers in Libya.

“Over the past several months,” according to Stratfor Feb. 12, “the Islamic State has released videos documenting the executions of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi prisoners of war. In one of the videos, the group forced prisoners to dig their own graves and to kneel on the edge before shooting them. In another video, the group paraded hundreds of prisoners through the desert to a large mass grave dug by a bulldozer, ordered them to lie down and shot them. In yet another video, prisoners were marched one by one to the edge of a dock along the Tigris River, shot with a pistol in the back of the head and thrown into the river. In January, the Islamic State released photos and videos of the group throwing men accused of being homosexual from a tall building in Mosul….”

One shakes one’s head in disbelief at such practices, particularly when the Islamic State proudly broadcasts its outrages in videos that circulate around the world. How can they carry out such medieval torments and then brag about their deeds?


There is, after all, the matter of history. It is important to remember that the Islamic State is a direct outcome of the unjust and illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003. Speaking at the Munich Security Conference Feb. 8, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan acknowledged the correlation between the Iraq War and the growth of IS.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/02/stop-all-the-horror/

And no, I'm not excusing for one second the horror caused by ISIS ......... but stopping the funding for them, particularly from Saudi Arabia and the constant 'war on terror' (that includes NATO, of which Canada is also a member) that's producing more hatred and barbarians than it's stopping, and we'll be doing a lot more to end this than anything else. Why are we even over there???

From Minsk to Brussels, it’s all about Germany

By Pepe Escobar, OpEdge
Saturday, Feb 14, 2015

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) talks to France's President Francois Hollande during a meeting with the media after peace talks on resolving the Ukrainian crisis in Minsk, February 12, 2015. (Reuters / Grigory Dukor)

Germany holds the key to where Europe goes next. A fragile deal may have been reached on Ukraine, but there’s still no deal with Greece. In both cases, there’s much more than meets the eye.

Full article: http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_69361.shtml

'Let Greece Breathe'

By Staff Writers, teleSUR
Sunday, Feb 15, 2015

Greece's new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of Syriza, waves as he leaves a polling station in Athens January 25, 2015 | Photo: Reuters

With the left-wing Syriza government not backing down on its electoral mandate to tackle austerity policies, despite ongoing pressure from other European governments, progressive movements across Europe are expressing their solidarity with Greece this weekend.

In Rome, thousands of Italians marched on Saturday calling on the Eurozone to "Give Greece a Chance".

Sunday will see protests in London, Madrid and other European cities demanding "Let Greece breathe" in reference to the call from the new Syriza government for time to renegotiate the conditions of the financial bailout, initiated after the global crisis of 2007. The bailout was accompanied by strict austerity policies blamed for a dramatic collapse in economic growth and living standards.

Huge anti-austerity protest near Colosseum, Rome

In Germany, whose government has been accused of being the most insistent in maintaining austerity measures, dozens of leading trade unionists have signed a declaration calling Syriza’s victory “an opportunity...for a fundamental reassessment and revision of EU economic and social policy.” The trade unionists explain that “The billions of euros that have flowed into Greece have been used primarily to stabilise the financial sector. At the same time, the country has been driven into deep recession by brutal cutbacks in government spending” creating “a social and humanitarian crisis.”

Full article:


Beyond the Market-State

Decentralising Power in a Sharing Society

by Rajesh Makwana / February 15th, 2015

At a time when governments are failing abysmally to mitigate climate change, reduce inequality or end poverty, the key to creating a more equal and sustainable world is establishing participative forms of political engagement at all levels of society – from the local to the global.


In an era of politics characterised by unconstrained corporate lobbying, a well-oiled ‘revolving door’ between industry and government, and an endless stream of campaign contributions from dirty oil and other lucrative industries, is the long-championed ideal of a truly democratic state now a lost cause? Should concerned citizens and activists turn their attention instead to establishing sustainable economic alternatives within their towns and communities? Or should we all be doing much more to ensure that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”, as Abraham Lincoln once avowed?

Few questions are more pertinent at a time when levels of trust and support for the political elite have reached an all-time low across the globe. This is not surprising given the extent to which policies that uphold the common good have been steadily marginalised over the past three decades in favour of those that promote a predominantly neoliberal agenda. As Oxfam’s head of global policy and campaigns recently mentioned, “policies such as public provision of services, public ownership and subsidy of industry, progressive taxation of rich individuals and corporations, strong trade unions and labour rights, full employment, universal welfare states, strong limits to intellectual property – are still pretty much frozen out of current debates.” The consequences of what has become an almost global adherence to a market-driven ideology is plain to see: a failure of governments to stem the growth in inequality or significantly reduce global poverty, and an inability to agree upon the basic measures needed to curb global carbon emissions and mitigate climate change.

For the most part, campaigners and progressive organisations recognise that our governments seem incapable of addressing these and many other interconnected crises. Most are also united in acknowledging the root cause of this failure: the illegitimate power of multinational corporations. It is widely recognised that the greatest influence over public policy in today’s globalised world is not wielded by the electorate, but rests with a powerful elite of wealthy individuals and transnational businesses that have unwarranted access to the corridors of power. As this year’s State of Power report by the Transnational Institute sums up, “corporations have succeeded in replacing rule of law with Global Corporate law, using a multitude of norms, treaties and agreements – most recently the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership – to secure their rights to profit above human rights.” In short, we are witnessing a crisis of governance and democracy at all levels of society – from local municipalities and national government, all the way up to the United Nations.

This reality is neatly encapsulated in the concept of the ‘market-state’, which illustrates the imbalance of power between the private sector and citizens, and the impact this has over the formulation of public policy. The phrase was first coined by the law scholar and national security expert Philip Bobbitt in 2002, to reflect the evolution of a new globalised constitutional order in which governments work towards maximising economic opportunity rather than safeguarding the welfare of individuals. Nowadays, however, it is used more generally to describe the fused relationship between governments and big business and the impact this has on society, and is often used as a point of reference by proponents of the commons. As commons theorist James Quilligan explains, “the private sector and banks are rapidly swallowing up governments and bending national constitutions to their favor, decreasing the role of government and limiting our political rights as citizens. Voting and popular representation are becoming less meaningful because governments are pledged to support the interests of large corporations, not the people’s interests.”

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/02/beyond-the-market-state/

John Pilger Interviewed by Michael Albert

By John Pilger and Michael Albert

February 16, 2015

1. Why would the U.S. want venezuela’s government overthrown?

There are straightforward principles and dynamics at work here. Washington wants to get rid of the Venezuelan government because it is independent of US designs for the region and because Venezuela has the greatest proven oil reserves in the world and uses its oil revenue to improve the quality of ordinary lives. Venezuela remains a source of inspiration for social reform in a continent ravaged by an historically rapacious U.S. An Oxfam report once famously described the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua as ‘the threat of a good example’. That has been true in Venezuela since Hugo Chavez won his first election. The ‘threat’ of Venezuela is greater, of course, because it is not tiny and weak; it is rich and influential and regarded as such by China. The remarkable change in fortunes for millions of people in Latin America is at the heart of U.S. hostility. The U.S. has been the undeclared enemy of social progress in Latin America for two centuries. It doesn’t matter who has been in the White House: Barack Obama or Teddy Roosevelt; the US will not tolerate countries with governments and cultures that put the needs of their own people first and refuse to promote or succumb to U.S. demands and pressures. A reformist social democracy with a capitalist base – such as Venezuela – is not excused by the rulers of the world. What is inexcusable is Venezuela’s political independence; only complete deference is acceptable. The ‘survival’ of Chavista Venezuela is a testament to the support of ordinary Venezuelans for their elected government – that was clear to me when I was last there. Venezuela’s weakness is that the political ‘opposition’ — those I would call the ‘East Caracas Mob’ – represent powerful interests who have been allowed to retain critical economic power. Only when that power is diminished will Venezuela shake off the constant menace of foreign-backed, often criminal subversion. No society should have to deal with that, year in, year out.

2. What methods has the U.S. already used and would you anticipate their using to unseat the Bolivarians?

There are the usual crop of quislings and spies; they come and go with their media theatre of fake revelations, but the principal enemy is the media. You may recall the Venezuelan admiral who was one of the coup-plotters against Chavez in 2002, boasting during his brief tenure in power, ‘Our secret weapon was the media’. The Venezuelan media, especially television, were active participants in that coup, lying that supporters of the government were firing into a crowd of protestors from a bridge. False images and headlines went around the world. The New York Times joined in, welcoming the overthrow of a democratic ‘anti-American’ government; it usually does. Something similar happened in Caracas last year when vicious right-wing mobs were lauded as ‘peaceful protestors’ who were being ‘repressed’. This was undoubtedly the start of a Washington-backed ‘colour revolution’ openly backed by the likes of the National Endowment for Democracy – a user-friendly CIA clone. It was uncannily like the coup that Washington successfully staged in Ukraine last year. As in Kiev, in Venezuela the ‘peaceful protestors’ set fire to government buildings and deployed snipers and were lauded by western politicians and the western media. The strategy is almost certainly to push the Maduro government to the right and so alienate its popular base. Depicting the government as dictatorial and incompetent has long been an article of bad faith among journalists and broadcasters in Venezuela and in the US, the UK and Europe. One recent US ‘story’ was that of a ‘US scientist jailed for trying to help Venezuela build bombs’. The implication was that Venezuela was harbouring ‘nuclear terrorists’. In fact, the disgruntled nuclear physicist had no connection whatsoever with Venezuela.

All this is reminiscent of the unrelenting attacks on Chávez, each with that peculiar malice reserved for dissenters from the west’s ‘one true way’. In 2006, Britain’s Channel 4 News effectively accused the Venezuelan president of plotting to make nuclear weapons with Iran, an absurd fantasy. The Washington correspondent, Jonathan Rugman, sneered at policies to eradicate poverty and presented Chávez as a sinister buffoon, while allowing Donald Rumsfeld, a war criminal, to liken Chavez to Hitler, unchallenged. The BBC is no different. Researchers at the University of the West of England in the UK studied the BBC’s systematic bias in reporting Venezuela over a ten-year period. They looked at 304 BBC reports and found that only three of these referred to any of the positive policies of the government. For the BBC, Venezuela’s democratic initiatives, human rights legislation, food programmes, healthcare initiatives and poverty reduction programmes did not exist. Mission Robinson, the greatest literacy programme in human history, received barely a passing mention. This virulent censorship by omission complements outright fabrications such as accusations that the Venezuelan government are a bunch of drug-dealers. None of this is new; look at the way Cuba has been misrepresented – and assaulted – over the years. Reporters Without Borders has just issued its worldwide ranking of nations based on their claims to a free press. The U.S. is ranked 49th, behind Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso and El Salvador.

3. Why might now be a prime time, internationally, for pushing toward a coup? If the primary problem is Venezuela being an example that could spread, is the emergence of a receptive audience for that example in Europe adding to the U.S. response?

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/john-pilger-interviewed-by-michael-albert-2/

Rachel Corrie's Family Denied Justice From Israel's Highest Court

Published on
Friday, February 13, 2015
byCommon Dreams
bySarah Lazare, staff writer

Decision 'amounts to judicial sanction of immunity for Israeli military forces when they commit injustices and human rights violations,' said Corrie's family

(Photo: Robert Shetterly/Americans Who Tell the Truth)

The family of Rachel Corrie—the 23-year-old U.S. activist crushed to death by an Israeli military bulldozer while nonviolently protesting a home demolition in Palestine 12 years ago—was denied justice by Israel's top court on Thursday.

The rejection is the latest stage in the family's decade-long legal battle to hold Israel liable for Corrie's death, on charges that the military either killed her deliberately or was negligent.

Corrie, who hailed from Olympia, Washington, had been volunteering with the International Solidarity Movement for two months in Gaza when she was run over and killed by Israeli forces near the Rafah crossing in 2003. Her death sparked international outrage at Israeli human rights abuses, as well as accolades for Corrie's life and legacy.

Since her killing, Corrie's parents—Cindy and Craig—have continued their daughter's work for global justice.

However, they have so far not seen justice in Israel's courts.

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/02/13/rachel-corries-family-denied-justice-israels-highest-court

Keeping Food Security on the Table at UN Climate Talks

Published on
Saturday, February 14, 2015
byInter Press Service
byDenise Fontanilla, Chris Wright

Farming in Kenya. (Photo: C. Schubert, Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security/flickr/cc)

While food security is a core objective of the U.N. climate convention, it has traditionally been discussed in relation to adaptation.

“Ask any African country what’s adaptation about – they’re going to say agriculture,” said Teresa Anderson of the international charity ActionAid. She added that 90 percent of countries who developed national adaptation plans identified agriculture as the key element.

Food security is referenced throughout the latest draft of the new climate agreement, which was released Feb. 12. One proposal for adaptation recognises the need “to build resilience of the most vulnerable linked to pockets of poverty, livelihoods and food security in developing countries.”

“What we have learned from the biofuel land grab, it is always the hungriest, the poorest, the most marginalised who suffer the most. In the end, they get pushed off their land and thrown into poverty as they can’t afford the price of food.”

Full article: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/02/14/keeping-food-security-table-un-climate-talks

New Anti-Poverty Mission, “Households of the Nation,” Gets Underway in Venezuela

By Lucas Koerner
Source: Venezuelanalysis.com
February 15, 2015

In a speech from Miraflores Palace on Saturday, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that his government would begin to implement its newest social program, known as the Great Household Mission of the Nation.

The stated aim of the new mission is to tackle extreme poverty and ensure the “total protection” of the Venezuelan family, from birth and child-rearing through to elderly care. The announcement comes in the midst of a severe recession, an economic war, and escalating U.S. sanctions, yet the government has said that it will not compromise its commitment to the country’s network of social missions developed over the past sixteen years.

The Great Household Mission is specifically targeted at the 500,000 Venezuelans currently living in extreme poverty, or approximately 7 percent of the population. A rate which has dropped significantly from 21% in 1998 thanks to a near doubling of expenditure on social programs such as the missions, according to the National Institute of Statistics.

According to the President, the Household Mission is intended to act as an umbrella project to “group together various missions and plans that are in development… in order to become a single action for the protection of the family.” Missions that will fall under the remit of the new project include Women of the Barrio, Children of the Barrio, and Children of Venezuela.

Full article: https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/new-anti-poverty-mission-households-of-the-nation-gets-underway-in-venezuela/
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