Media Revolution

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Iraqi Council Gaming the US, Democracy Unlikely Amidst Jostle of Power Politics
The Washington Post article is here.
As usual, John Marshall of Talking Points Memo has some good insight.

The essence of the story is that the plan for a political handover that we announced just weeks ago is already on the fast-track to dead letterhood.

And it's happening because the plan is being gamed by Iraqi political leaders who've clearly got more power on the ground than we do.

Our lack of effective power, as opposed to main force, of which we've got plenty, is what's pushing us to get out of the country in the first place. But our efforts to get out have further weakened our position, thus diminishing our ability to get out on our own terms. It's a vicious cycle, and as difficult to remedy as it is vicious.

My own thoughts are that the neo-cons and the oil multinationals may not really care that much. There's little attention to the broken promises of a new Afghanistan, but there are still American troops in there protecting "American" interests. However the political games play out in Iraq , you can bet that we're going to have a military presence there for a long, long time. (Only a political sea change in the United States would change that.)

And regardless of the shape and compliance of the new puppet regime, one thing is not negotiable: American oil companies are going to keep control of Iraqi oil.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Ethanol in Gasoline: "Money-wasting government schemes are hardly rare. But how many do you know of that flout the second law of thermodynamics?"

Thursday, November 27, 2003

The Massacre in Miami(Capital Times, Madison WI)

They chased us through Miami. This was not a police free-for-all as was the case with Seattle. This was military precision. Forty police forces - federal, state, local and military - were under a central command. Over three hours they forced us back, block after block, with little resistance, miles from Bayfront Park. They divided us from each other at each intersection, splitting us, and splitting us again, into small groups, each a fraction of the size of the one before it. They had clearly made a decision to suppress the protest, and this they did with the violence necessary to do the job.


In Seattle, the police ran amok. They lost the battle for legitimacy to the moral force of nonviolence, and they lost control of the streets to the effective use of civil disobedience tactics.

In Miami, the police ran the protests out of town. They not only controlled the streets, but also often the media. Police commanders appeared on local television channels as "on-site commentators," in many cases displacing the channels' own journalists as reporters of the news.


After congressional authorization of the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and passage of the Patriot Act, we should have had no illusions that leadership remains within the political establishment to stop the FTAA. Yet our actions in Miami indicated that we were still operating under exactly those kinds of illusions. We looked for leaders to emerge who we could follow, rather than taking leadership ourselves.

However, not all is lost. Because of the leadership of the people of Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, and other nations, the ministerial meeting produced no real movement toward the enactment of the FTAA. We have a reprieve, and it is up to the people of the United States to use it.

Attending the protests of the FTAA ministerial meeting was delegate Leonardo Alvarez, a Green member of the Mexican Congress. As we said goodbye, Leonardo took hold of my arm and did not let go. He told me, "We are counting on you. You must be aggressive. You are leaders. You will succeed, I know you will."

After Miami, we had better.

Union: Police Broke Protest Promise (Miami Herald)
Miami police reneged on their promise to give safe passage to 25 busloads of seniors who attempted to attend Thursday's AFL-CIO rally against the Free Trade Area of the Americas, the leader of a retired union workers group charged Tuesday.


Tony Fansetta, president of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans Tony Fansetta, president of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, said 13 of the busloads were turned away and many of the others were diverted...

''It is despicable when in good faith you have what is referred to as the greatest generation -- and I'm a Korean War veteran myself -- come down here in good faith and jump through every hoop the city of Miami asked us to jump through,'' Fansetta said.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Bill of Rights Suspended in Miami
I have gotten numerous reports from the Miami Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) protests about gross abuses of police power. Searches
occured without just cause, journalists were arrested who had chosen not
to be "embedded" with the police, and peaceful protesters were greeted
with police violence.

There are two elements to the story.

First is the repression of protest and of constitutional rights. There
are allegations of police brutality and even sexual assault in prisons.

Second is that the protester's message isn't being heard. There are
numerous strong reasons to be opposed to the FTAA and similar "Free Trade"
agreements, even if you support free trade. For example, under NAFTA,
corporate immunity from expropriation has been pushed to ridiculous and
dangerous levels: the Canadian corporation Methanex sued the United
States for close to a billion dollars when California decided to ban MTBE,
a gasoline additive that is poisoning groundwater. A group of
academics at Rutgers University said that the US could face $30
billion dollars of similar lawsuits annually under the FTAA and
related expansions to NAFTA.

See this press release. The number of "at least thirty" injured by projectile weapons is probably low.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Changing Tides: U.S. Nationalism vs. Globalization

It is clear, however, that the Bush administration's attitude toward globalization differs substantially from former President Bill Clinton's. In contrast to Clinton's support of multilateral negotiations, Bush's stance is as a nationalist. This idea should surprise no one after the preemptive war in Iraq.

However, our global justice movement has not widely acknowledged that the administration's fervent unilateral approach extends even into the realm of economic relations.

Meanwhile, the echelon of the elite across the globe has watched Bush's military aggression with uneasiness, fearing that his reckless pursuit of U.S. dominance will endanger the global economic system they constructed in past decades.

The Onion on Media Bias

Members of the national media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting released a 255-page report Monday criticizing the American media for severely biased local sports coverage.

"Coverage was heavily, sometimes brazenly, weighted toward the teams from a media source's own area. To look at the data, you would almost think that sports journalists aren't held to the same standards as other reporters."

"Let's face it, sports news is the only news most people read," Wilborough said. "That's reason enough to clean it up. Otherwise, the media may start seeing bias and sensationalism as a formula for success. I don't think anyone wants to live in a country where that happens."

Media Protest Harrassment by U.S. in Iraq --Boston Globe

The Associated Press says soldiers in Iraq detained one of its photographers and a driver in late September near the site of the Abu Ghraib prison. Knight Ridder says its photographer at the scene of the Nov. 2 downing of a Chinook helicopter had photographs destroyed by the US military. Reuters, which had a cameraman killed in August in what the US military called an accident, says another photographer was detained last month by Iraqi police alleging to be acting on orders from US forces.

Amid growing reports of journalists being harassed and intimidated by troops policing postwar Iraq, representatives of 30 media organizations, ranging from CNN and ABC to the Newhouse News Service and The Boston Globe, have signed a letter to the Pentagon raising concerns about what they view as an increasingly hostile reporting environment.

Some of the signers say the relationship between the press and the US military in Iraq has worsened since the major combat ended.

The letter, addressed to Larry Di Rita, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, says the news organizations have "documented numerous examples of US troops physically harassing journalists and, in some cases, confiscating or ruining equipment, digital camera disks, and videotapes."

Tommy Franks: Terror Attack Could Mean Martial Law for U.S.

Gen. Tommy Franks says that if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government.
Franks, who successfully led the U.S. military operation to liberate Iraq, expressed his worries in an extensive interview he gave to the men’s lifestyle magazine Cigar Aficionado.

In the magazine’s December edition, the former commander of the military’s Central Command warned that if terrorists succeeded in using a weapon of mass destruction (WMD) against the U.S. or one of our allies, it would likely have catastrophic consequences for our cherished republican form of government.

Discussing the hypothetical dangers posed to the U.S. in the wake of Sept. 11, Franks said that “the worst thing that could happen” is if terrorists acquire and then use a biological, chemical or nuclear weapon that inflicts heavy casualties.

If that happens, Franks said, “... the Western world, the free world, loses what it cherishes most, and that is freedom and liberty we’ve seen for a couple of hundred years in this grand experiment that we call democracy.”

Franks then offered “in a practical sense” what he thinks would happen in the aftermath of such an attack.

“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”

Franks didn’t speculate about how soon such an event might take place.

Already, critics of the U.S. Patriot Act, rushed through Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, have argued that the law aims to curtail civil liberties and sets a dangerous precedent.

But Franks’ scenario goes much further. He is the first high-ranking official to openly speculate that the Constitution could be scrapped in favor of a military form of government.

Great Audio from the National Conference on Media Reform that I attended in Madison, WI. Check out especially Bill Moyer's Keynote Speech at the bottom.