Monday, July 28, 2008
As you can see in the ad, McCain stated, "Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras." CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press each ran stories about McCain's ad, and although each note the Obama campaign's denunciation of its claim, not a single one of these reports explained, what the pentagon confirmed, that the ad is actually based on fallacy.
The real reason Obama didn't visit, as many indie-journalists like Sargent quickly uncovered, was eventually picked up and reported on by NBC's Andrea Mitchell:
"That there was never a plan for Obama to take the press to Landstuhl, despite the claim by McCain folks and others. The plan was to go with his military aide, retired General Scott Gration. The Pentagon said Gration was off-limits because he had joined the campaign-violating rules that it not be a political stop.
Obama had gone to see wounded troops in Iraq earlier in the week, without even confirming he'd been there. No press, no pictures. He has done the same when he goes to Walter Reed -- never any press."
Again, it takes an independent journalist to point this out to the public and again, MSNBC apparently aware of the Blogshere, but still a half-step behind, picked it up.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Queen Rania of Jordan recently made her first appearance in youtube. She is trying to educate the world about Muslim culture. She is using this kind of media to take her massage outside of her own country and the Arab Wolrd.http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7524933.stm
My friend is from Jordan and he didn’t hear anything of what Queen Rania was doing but he seemed very impress. In his opinion what she is doing is great. No Arab leader open themselves to this much criticism and for a woman to do this in the Middle East that takes a lot of courage.
The leaders in the Middle East put barriers between them and individuals. People usually can’t criticize leaders or they will go to jail, as simple as that.
The new King and the Queen are trying to change it but it’s hard for the royal family and also the people to accept such a change. Before the current King it was King Husain he was also trying to open people to speak their minds. The King made it ok for people to criticize politicians and also make fun of them but the king was a no! Now the new King, Abdulla is welcoming all kinds of criticism. When he first became a king, he dressed up as a cab driver and picked up people and tried to ask them and see what they though of the country, king, economy and so on...
He thinks is great what Queen Rania is doing, she is making people think differently of Jordan. “Would you imagine a Saudi woman doing what she is doing it’s rare firstly her husband would not approve and secondly the people wouldn’t approve”. The Queen is showing the world that Jordan is an open minded country that gives women their rights.
She is also doing something no Arab leader has done (man or woman), go online and have discussions with random people.
I also agree that she is doing an amazing job, she is taking a lot of courage to do this videos and most important she is educating the world. Her
These are some of the responses that Queen Rania Received:
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Role of the Media in Our Democracy: Business
Neil Brown, executive editor, St. Petersburg Times
David Carr, columnist, New York Times
John Carroll, former editor, Los Angeles Times
Ellen Hume, director, Ctr. on Media & Society, UMASS Boston
Ellen Hume moderates a panel discussion on the responsibilities of the press when it comes to business reporting and on the business of the media. A free and independent press is essential for democracy. The press has a responsibility to inform citizens about both the policies and actions of our government and any credible challenges to those policies and actions; to report on conditions that may require new or different government initiatives; and to raise timely questions itself about questionable policies and the rationales presented for them. How well are the media fulfilling these weighty responsibilities? What are the impediments to their fulfillment?
This discussion is part of the Fourth Annual Fall Symposium of The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, entitled "No News is Bad News". The Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities promotes the use of history, literature, philosophy, and the other humanities disciplines to deepen our understanding of the issues of the day, strengthen our sense of common purpose, and enhance and improve civic life.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
As Seth Colter Walls reported in the Huffington Post, "During a CBS interview on Tuesday, John McCain made a stone cold error on a subject about which he claims expert knowledge: the 'surge strategy' in
Katie Couric: Senator McCain, Senator Obama says, while the increased number of US troops contributed to increased security in
, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that? Iraq
Senator McCain: I don't know how you respond to something that is as-- such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel MacFarland was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history.
Pam Hess: This is Pam Hess with United Press International. You said that violence is down 25 percent. Could you put numbers on that? I don't know that we know specifically what you all are doing out there.
And also, I've heard recently from someone who visited Ramadi and Anbar in general is that there is a lot of Sunni insurgent and al Qaeda violence between the two groups, but that the al Qaeda side seems to be exacting a heavy toll. They're killing a lot of the Sunnis that are opposing them now.
Macfarland: Okay. Thanks, Pam. Col.
Well, first of all, attacks have dropped from about 20 a day to more like 15 a day. It was actually a little bit lower than that before Ramadan. We had a little bit of a surge, an uptick since Ramadan began, and we'll wait to see how that levels out here in the next few days. But it has been on an overall downward trend.
With respect to the violence between the Sunnis and the al Qaeda -- actually, I would disagree with the assessment that the al Qaeda have the upper hand. That was true earlier this year when some of the sheikhs began to step forward and some of the insurgent groups began to fight against al Qaeda. The insurgent groups, the nationalist groups, were pretty well beaten by al Qaeda.
This is a different phenomena that's going on right now. I think that it's not so much the insurgent groups that are fighting al Qaeda, it's the -- well, it used to be the fence-sitters, the tribal leaders, are stepping forward and cooperating with the Iraqi security forces against al Qaeda, and it's had a very different result. I think al Qaeda has been pushed up against the ropes by this, and now they're finding themselves trapped between the coalition and ISF on the one side, and the people on the other.
Beyond this incontrovertible interview comes even more evidence as pointed out by Mark Lynch on his Blog, Abu Aardvark. In his military review titled, "Anbar Awakens: The Tipping Point," Col. MacFarland wrote a summary of his experiences in Anbar Province and how they helped turn the war in the Sunni parts of
What is especially notable in all of this is that McCain himself was not always confused as to the start date of the "Awakening," and whether or not it was caused by the surge. In a speech given to the American Enterprise Institute with fellow Senator, Joseph Lieberman, on January 5, 2007, McCain said:
"Too often the light at the tunnel has turned out to be a train, but I really believe -- I really believe that there's a strong possibility that you may see a very substantial change in Anbar province due to this new changes in our relationships with the sheiks in the region. ... But it's important, as I said in my opening remarks, that this troop surge be significant and sustained."
Hmmm. So what's the big deal you might ask? Well beyond the fact that John McCain lied, or forgot, or whatever, it has been clear that he has based the crux of his campaign around the idea that he knows best when it comes to Iraq. McCain's military experience somehow directly translates into good policy judgement and his primary example is his backing of the surge. But politicians will do as politicians do. Ultimately it is the media's job to catch them when they do, do. Whether rhetoric, mis-truths, or mistakes, the role of the press is to examine and identify. In this instance, that did not initially occur. Given the media's dominant narrative which has been to leave McCain's comments about Iraq unquestioned, that is not surprising.
One need not look any farther than the wide scale response that Wes Clark received when he challenged McCain's policy expertise and judgement to see this narrative in action:
"He [John McCain] has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility... because in the matters of national security policy-making, it’s a matter of understanding risk. It’s a matter of gauging your opponents and it’s a matter of being held accountable. John McCain’s never done any of that in his official positions. He hasn’t made the calls."
The point was missed because it didn't coincide with the ongoing narrative. After all, how could Wes Clark try to paint a picture out side the frame?
So again, here and now, when CBS initially decided to not show this part of McCain's interview, it did so, perhaps, to maintain this ongoing narrative. Were it not for bloggers like Ilan Goldberg, Seth Colter Walls, and Marc Lynch, would Kieth Olberman have made his report? Would CBS eventually provide the full transcript and interview on their website?
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
very interesting political blogger from Albania talking about central and eastern European politics
Greater access to inexpensive devices and the internet allows individuals to collect, record, investigate, and broadcast their own news events. These individuals are called “Citizen Journalist”, according to our previous class lecture. Their goal is to escape the “bias-media” and provide accurate, independent, and dependable information that our society needs. The perfect example of citizen journalist is Julian Sanchez.
According to his website, JULIANSANCHEZ.COM, Mr. Sanchez is a writer and journalist, living in the Washington, D.C. area. He regularly writes on technology, privacy, and sexual politics. Sanchez is a frequent contributor to the technology websites Techdirt and Ars Technica, and a writer for The Economist’s U.S. politics blog, Democracy in America. He is also a “contributing editor for Reason magazine”. Sanchez is a graduate of New York University, where he obtained a degree in philosophy and political science. For more information about Julian Sanchez, visit www.juliansanchez.com.
even be considered the founder of Iraqi blogging. He has inspired and
encouraged many others, such as river band, a female blogger.
Salam started the first website "Where is Raed?" Raed is his friend
from Baghdad University¹s architecture school who moved to Amman in 2002.
Salam posted silly things for his friend at the beginning and then he started
to post about unspoken hardships of life in Iraq and how people were
preparing for the war. Once the war started he posted about how the Iraqis
struggled through electricity blackouts and the destruction of Baghdad.
Through his postings, Salam became an eyewitness blogger in Iraq,
documenting the war and after that, the 2004 U.S. political
Salam's online diary has fascinated the web's myriad of users with its
sharp observations of day-to-day life in Iraq.
Salam Pax eventually became a columnist for the British Guardian
newspaper and published a book of his weblog posts. Salam Pax: The Clandestine
Diary of an Ordinary Iraqi.
It's very important to have Iraqi voices telling the world what is
going on,and Salam was just the beginning. And because of him, many other
bloggers have started to report about life in Iraq.
Omar al-Bashir, however says that Sudan "does not recognize the ICC or its decisions." (BBC News)
In his recent trip to the region of Darfur, the president addressed the local people as of nothing has happened in the past. He looked supportive of international aid programs and declared that Sudanese were people of peace. (BBC News)
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
This report gives a description of how Zimbabwe resent presidential elections have become a battle for power. Most important it reports how two different news media describe this recent event.
Zimbabwe has face terrible crises throughout the years, and more since the presidential election took place earlier this year. Robert Mugabe as well as opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai claimed the presidency of Zimbabwe. During the first electoral rounds Tsvangirai won more votes, but electoral officials said neither one had 50 percent of the votes required to win.
During the Second round of election a number of violent events happened to the opposition party of Mr. Tsvangirai. The New York Times espressed that the reason why Mr. Tsvangirai pulled out of the electoral race was because many of his members were being assassinated. The BBC modestly expressed that the reason that Mr. Tsvangirai pulled out of the race was because of violence against it supporters.
For the first time in about 10 years both leaders meet in order o reach some kind of agreement. The BBC & the New York Times have two different narrations for the events. BBC position is very neutral toward Mr. Mugabe and does not at any moment questions his past actions nor his decision of why he wants to reach a new deal with the opposition. The New York Times in the other hand, portraits Mugabe as an opportunistic who is acting out of interest in order to gain legitimacy in Africa.
In addition, The New York Times expressed in more detail why The European Union is giving more sanctions to Zimbabwe, even though the president is willing to reach an agreement with the opposition. The newspaper specify that the sanctions are for “senior officials”, The BBC just referred them as people and does describe what types of sanction The EU is enforcing.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Along the lines of one of my closing points from last Wednesday's class, please read this post "Nine Signs of an Effective Blog Post" on problogger.net. This site seems geared towards showcasing how to make money blogging (which I'm somewhat skeptical about), but I thought this post offered some good tips.
After reading that, consider editing your existing assignments to be more effective!
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
As a freelance journalist in Iraq, David Enders reported on stories that often went untold. In his 18 months in the Middle East-spanning from the outset of the invasion to this summer-Enders accessed areas previously designated unsafe for any westerner, let alone a journalist. The 28-year-old will speak tomorrow at Washington University about his findings and his most recent stint in the Shia-dominated Anbar province, where U.S. forces face new byproducts of war such as ethnic cleansing, factional clashes and the growing refugee crisis.Over the summer, Enders, author of the new book "Baghdad: Bulletin," which chronicles his war coverage, and filmmaker Richard Rowley traveled to Iraq and Syria. It was part of a project chartered by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting in an effort to tell the real-life stories of the citizens in these war-torn regions.Besides spending about two weeks embedded with troops, a common war coverage strategy of the media that offers maximum safety, Enders spent most of his time with Sunni and Shia militia groups without any American military protection.Regarding his most recent reports, Enders finds that some of the war's most alarming issues have received little attention in the day's public discussion. "The U.S. is contributing openly to war crimes," he said. "But it doesn't seem that that's generally discussed."Zach Dyer, a Washington University alumnus, was one of the people responsible for bringing Enders to the University. "The Iraq subject is interesting because it's a chance to take a topic that is really volatile, really important, and on a personal level affects a lot of Americans," said Dyer.Dyer went to work for The Pulitzer Center in Washington, D.C. after graduating last spring.Enders' reports on Iraq deserve intense consideration, Dyer said, because they ask the essential question: "What's the actual situation in the country?"Along with recognition from The Pulitzer Center, an organization that provides in-depth coverage of global crises, Enders' articles on the humanitarian crises have garnered national exposure. His reports are featured in The Washington Times, Democracy Now!, Foreign Exchange and al Jazeera English. His most recent byline landed locally, on the front page of the "NewsWatch" section in last Sunday's St. Louis Post-Dispatch.Enders, who also teaches English and journalism at the middle and high school levels, has an interest in seeing young people take an interest in global affairs. Students should know "how we interact in the world," said Enders in an interview, and "the best lesson plans are the ones that have a heavy, real-life element to them."For students, Enders' talk may convey the reality of war in Iraq, a version not diluted by politics or network television producers."He's not pandering to any particular audience," said sophomore Raghu Harrington. "The anchors of the major TV stations have a responsibility to be compelling to audience members, but a freelance journalist doesn't have that obligation.""David brings a very interesting perspective to the whole debate," said Pushkar Sharma, the programming coordinator for the International Area Studies department. "There are very few people who have had that experience with that perspective. We would be wrong not to bring him to campus."In addition to his visit to the University, Enders will also speak at area high schools about his reporting, part of the Pulitzer Center's "Global Gateway" initiative to educate young people on the importance of international affairs.For more information on David Enders or the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting, visit http://www.pulitzercenter.org/.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
This is a short version of an important news bulletin illustrated by both CNN and MNSBC News. According to CNN, Louis Moreno-Ocampo (Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court) has submitted a criminal proposal to the international court against President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan, and the judges have already accepted the charges. MNSBC, however, reported that Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked a three-judge panel at the International Criminal Court to deliver an arrest warrant for President al-Bashir. Both CNN and MNSBC News have presented a different version of the same story.
The head prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has filed genocide condemnations against Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for a five-year operation of hostility in Darfur, CNN reported on Monday. The charges comprise convincing efforts to eliminate African tribes in the war-torn province with a combination of murder, rape and deportation.
International Criminal Court Prosecutor Louis Moreno-Ocampo submited his facts against al-Bashir to the judges at the Hague in the Netherlands on Monday, and the judges have accepted eleven of Moreno-Ocampo’s earlier proposals to the court. The judges are now obligated to determine whether to deliver the warrant, according to CNN. The warrant would make Mr. al-Bashir the first president to be summoned by the ICC for genocide, if delivered. Moreno-Ocampo says there are sufficient proofs to believe that al-Bashir stands criminal liability for five counts of genocide, two counts of felony against humanity, and two counts of war crimes.
MNSBC News, on the other hand, reported the same news story a little differently. MNSBC reported that prosecutor of the International Criminal Court filed genocide charges Monday against Sudan’s president, condemning him of engineering efforts to exterminate African tribes in Darfur with a campaign of murder, rape and deportation. That part of reporting is similar to that of CNN. However, MNSBC reported that the Sudanese government has denounced the charges because the ICC does not acknowledge the jurisdiction of the ICC, which CNN News did not clarify.
MNSBC also reported that Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked a three-judge panel at the International Criminal Court to deliver an arrest warrant for President Omar al-Bashir to stop the slow deaths of 2.5 million Sudanese who are presently under attack from government-backed janjaweed militia.
Both CNN and MNSBC have just given their own version of an important news-story. The media and communication have changed, and the way we get our news has also changed dramatically—thanks to modern technology. Everybody has a story to tell, and technology makes it possible for everyone to tell their own version of a story. The above is my own version of re-writing the story.
News sources http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25671505/#storyContinued
According to the Columbia Journalism Review, to get to the newsroom of Talking Points Media in lower Manhattan, "you need to visit a pungent block of cut-flower wholesalers on Sixth Avenue, then climb a narrow stairway to an eight-hundred-square-foot suite that might once have been an accountant’s office." This modest space is the home of a news organization that was almost single-handedly responsible for bringing the story of the fired U.S. Attorneys to the attention of the public. Outlets, including the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, noticed in January the sudden pattern of U.S. Attorney departures, but only Talking Points gave the matter sustained attention that month.
In February of this past year, Marshall won a George Polk Award for his reporting on this matter. According to the New York Times, his web site, Talking Points Memo, is the first internet only news cite to win the Polk Award.
Marshall uses a style of online reporting that greatly expands the definition of blogging. But he operates a long way from the cliched, commentator on the network news. Since 2000, when he started, Marshall has grown his operation from a one man Blog into a newsroom in Manhattan, with several reporters, including two in Washington. Yet, Marshall does not shy away from the notion of blogging. As he said in the New York Times interview:
“I think of us as journalists; the medium we work in is blogging. We have kind of broken free of the model of discrete articles that have a beginning and end. Instead, there are an ongoing series of dispatches.”
I think it is important to point out that blogging alone does not make a "citizen journalist." Anyone can blog for any reason. A blogger can represent the corporate run media as well as he or she can represent self. What makes a citizen journalist is in the idea that the consumer of the news (whatever that news might be) crosses over and becomes a distributer of that news. In short, the audience member becomes a role player. Josh Marshall fits this definition.
The following video is taken from the website the Veracifier. You will notice in this clip a couple key elements that act to further support the claim that Marshall is a citizen journalist. The first is that he is highlighting and then challenging, as he states, "the mainstream media's dominant narrative." As an outsider, he is very capable and almost obliged to take this position. It is what defines an unaffiliated journalist in many ways (but not always).
You might also notice that Marshall is not and does not have to be completely objective. John McCain in this instance is the crux of his commentary about the media. Marshall does, however, have a self-imposed responsibility to his audience. With that in mind, the subjective statement he is making is supported with factually-based evidence that leads to logical, analytical conclusion(s). His reporting takes on a multi-dimensionality in this regard. This is critical to Marshall's credibility as a journalist as well as what has enabled him to garner the attention of his peers.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
2. Make a new post with an example of Citizen Journalism (not Steve Garfield)
They all covered the basics of the story. Hezbollah turned over the remains of two Israeli soldiers for, in part, five Lebanese prisoners and roughly 200 bodies of fighters that have been killed over the years. Those numbers have varied slightly from article to article. Each paper covered both sides of the story and the reaction that citizens from each country had. The mood in Israel was one of sadness and tears while Lebanon declared today a national holiday with parades and celebrations planned. Every article covered the major points but the amount of details and history included in the article was different in each case. In the Australian and South African paper there was a larger background on the story, in particular about Samir Kuntar.
Kuntar, whose name is spelled different depending on what paper your read, was labeled as hero by some (such as quotes from officials in Lebanon) to a terrorist in the Israeli paper. CNN introduced the reader to Kuntar as a convicted murder, as he was sentenced to life for killing a man in front of his 4-year old daughter, then crushing the little girls skull and killing her in 1979. A third family member died that day when the mother accidently suffocated her 2-year daughter while trying to stifle her cries as they hid during the attack. The Israeli newspaper gave the most graphic account of the incident.
Only after reading all the numerous articles and comparing the information provided was I able see any kind of bias from the newspapers. All articles gave opinions from both sides but the use of words to evoke emotion is what I felt was the real difference in the telling of the story. I feel that I was only able to get a solid grasp on this story after reading accounts from numerous ‘lenses’. Had I read just one article from one perspective I would not been able to acquire such a comprehensive picture of the events.
The other three American's that were released with her did not get as much media cover as Ms. Betancourt did, they were also hostage for about the same time, and separated from their family as Ms. Betancourt. The NY times as well as BBC only cover very little about the Three American which work. Although, the Boston Globe did a little more reaserach on the three hostages.
The trio - Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell - have now arrived back in San Antonio, Texas, where they will undergo medical tests and be reunited with their families. BBC
The three Americans, Marc Gonsalves, Keith Stansell and Thomas Howes, were captured in 2003 while working for the Northrop Grumman Corporation after their surveillance plane went down on an antinarcotics mission for the Pentagon. NY Times
One of the contractors, Thomas Howes, is a native of Cape Cod who had settled in Florida. Howes and the other two, Marc Gonsalves and Keith Stansell, were flown directly to the United States to reunite with their families and undergo tests and treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. They had been the longest-held American hostages in the world. Boston Globe
Ingrid had an interview with Larry King describing how the hostages were saved, and her experience.http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/americas/07/09/king.betancourt.intw/index.html?
As well, BBC interviewed her but they focus on how she was able to listen to BBC while she was captive and this was her only media to the outside world. http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/news/2008/07/080711_betancourtbbc_sl.shtml
Betancourt is a French citizens as well, she also got a lot of coverage in Europe. It is clear that the rescue of the 15 hostages was a very important event, but how does a foreigner get more media attention here in the US that a US citizen?
The Labor Department reported that consumer prices jumped 1.1 percent last month, much worse than had been expected. Energy prices rocketed upward by 6.6 percent, reflecting big gains for gasoline, home heating oil and natural gas.
The big rise in prices cut deeply into consumers' earning power with average weekly wages, after adjusting for inflation, dropping by 0.9 percent in June, the biggest monthly decline since 1984.
The 1.1 percent June price increase was the second largest monthly advance in the past 26 years, surpassed only by a 1.3 percent gain in September 2005 from a jolt to energy costs after Hurricane Katrina.
Separately, the Federal Reserve reported that industrial output rose 0.5 percent in June, the fastest pace in 11 months. The increase, the highest since a 0.6 percent gain in July of last year, reflected an end to an automotive production strike rather than any widespread strength in the economy.
The report on retail inflation followed similarly grim news on Tuesday that wholesale prices had shot up by 1.8 percent in June.
The news on inflation kept a lid on stock prices, which were trading mixed after one of the nation's largest banks, Wells Fargo, announced it would raise its dividend.
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress on Tuesday that the Fed was concerned about the threats posed by rising inflation.
Bernanke said that the "upside risks to the inflation outlook have intensified lately, as the rising prices of energy and some other commodities have led to a sharp pickup in inflation and some measures of inflation expectations have moved higher."
Bernanke's comments underscored the bind the central bank is in, caught between a faltering economy that is struggling to overcome a prolonged housing slump and a severe credit squeeze, and the risk that inflation would move higher.
Many analysts believe that the central bank is likely to leave interest rates unchanged for the rest of the year out of concern that any tightening of credit policy could send the economy into an even worse tailspin.
Over the past 12 months, consumer inflation is up by 5 percent, the largest year-over-year gain since a similar 5 percent rise in May 1991.
Food prices also showed a big increase in June, rising by 0.7 percent, more than double the 0.3 percent increase of May. Vegetable prices shot up by 6.1 percent, the biggest increase in nearly three years.
Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, showed rising pressures too with an increase of 0.3 percent in June, up from a 0.2 percent gain in May and the biggest one-month rise since January.
This increase reflected a 4.5 percent jump in airline ticket prices, the biggest one-month rise for airline fares since March 2000.
I am following this topic through different media. There was fear that the foreign oil companies would move into Iraq in force, and stay long after U.S. soldiers withdraw especially since Iraq nationalized oil from British companies on June 1st 1972. This could lead to another type of occupation.
Some analysts focus on the idea that Iraq has the world’s third largest oil reserves, which are mainly in the north and the south of the country. This means the Sunni region would not benefit from these revenues. This could increase the gap between multi-ethnic groups in Iraq, and increase the sectarian violence.
Another opinion is that al-Maliki's government is trying to serve the Western demand in Iraq, by passing the draft of this deal instead of looking out for the Iraqi people’s interest.
Another opinion suggests that Iraqi oil reserves were a motivation for the invasion because Saddam Hussein was an obstacle to the West accessing Iraqi oil. By removing him from power and executing him, the West can now working behind the scenes to get these drafts passed, which will lead to easier access to the Iraqi oil fields, and thus to influencing Iraqi policy.
One point really caught my attention: if Iraq wants to be open for international investment I questions why the contracts were not awarded to Russian companies since they worked in Iraq for many years and they have the experience with the Iraqi environment and culture.
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
What is here and there and just about everywhere of late is a running commentary regarding the current New Yorker magazine cover. By now you all must have seen this picture depicting the Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, as a "terrorist fist jabbing," bin Laden loving, insurgent, Muslim, out to burn the flag and country with his left-leaning, black panther-a-tude; not to mention his wife, who just recently learned to be proud of this great nation, and she's 44! After all, its been a top story for at least two and half news cycles and that's a virtual eternity in this day and age. Anything that lasts this long in the spotlight is bound to be covered slightly differently depending on the medium through which it is being filtered. This story is not any different.
Just about every reputable news site has given the same facts that Sandy Kozel of the AP gave in her first report, posted here, courtesy of the Washington Post. As reported therein, a representative from the magazine explained, "On the cover of the July 21st issue of The New Yorker, in 'The Politics of Fear,' artist Barry Blitt satirizes the use of scare tactics and misinformation in the presidential election to derail Barack Obama’s campaign." Most media agencies also covered the Obama camp's initial condemnation which stated, "The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Sen. Obama's right-wing critics have tried to create. But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree."
However, once these facts are presented, the deviations in opinion come forth putting a particular slant to the story. Its the slanting that keeps the story spinning from news cycle to news cycle. Take for instance today's New York Times article titled, "Want Obama in a Punch Line? First, Find a Joke". In this particular perception, Bill Carter makes the case that Obama is an anomaly of sorts. Unlike his predecessors (Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Bush) and his opponent (McCain), who is old--which is always funny--Obama provides little in the form of humor for men like Stewart and Colbert to sink their teeth into. In this regard, Carter explains that the only way to make a wise crack about the guy is to satirize the misinformation that has been perpetuated on right wing blog sites and through internet email chains.
Alexander Burns from Politico covers the story from the view point of the cartoonists. He relays the perspectives of Pulitzer Prize winning artists, Ann Telnaes and Nick Anderson, who both agree that there will always be someone offended somewhere. The cover, Telnaes wrote in an email, "Was meant to be satirical and comment on the ludicrous rumors which have been going around the Internet and repeated endlessly on cable news." According to Telnaes, the campaign operatives and pundits who have attacked the cartoon have been misreading the image. However, Anderson does point out that, "As a piece of satire, it utterly fails. The artist and the New Yorker editor [David Remnick] have claimed that it is so over the top that it is clearly absurd. But it’s not sufficiently over the top. It is merely depicting what the whisper campaigns have been suggesting." Anderson added that the cover might have been more effective if it had included the title of the cartoon, “The Politics of Fear,” on the front of the magazine.
Anderson's perspective is shared by others in the media as well. According to Joe Achenbach at his Achenblog at www.washingtonpost.com:
"Here's a fundamental rule of humor: It must be funny to work. Another rule: 'Almost funny' is invariably just as bad, and often worse, than being extremely unfunny. When something is 'almost funny,' but not genuinely funny, people can feel insulted, as if you're saying, 'This is funny, and I'm laughing, but your sense of humor is so stunted and pathetic that you just don't get the joke.' I'm not even sure this cover is 'almost funny' -- because it deals so heavy-handedly with such a sensitive topic. Osama on the wall, the flag burning, the Angela Davis wife -- the natural response is to cringe rather than laugh."Nevertheless, still others have a different take on what is funny. In his article, People Complaining about the Obama "New Yorker" Cover Are Wrong, Jackson Williams of the Huffington Post , relays the time in 1992 when Newt Gingrich deemed the Clinton's, "counter-culture McGoverniks." Then like now, the New Yorker responded with a hyperbolic depiction of Bill and Hillary sitting at the oval office, wearing tie-dyed T-shits and passing a bong. To Jackson, this Obama cover is no different. The problem is not whether the cover is funny, instead the problem is that too many people in our country believe these false things about Obama. That is not the New Yorker's fault, that is the American education system coupled with the media's repetition of the propaganda. When people have a lack of interest in the political process, yet they continue to hear out-of-context sound-bites, they are seemingly more prone to believe what they hear without further investigation.
Another perspective was articulated to me by one of my Republican friends. To him, the scale to which this blows up in the media (or not) depends entirely on Obama's reaction. If Obama brushes it off as a joke (as Jon Stewart suggested on the Daily Show), then so will most media sites, as well as Americans (at least those who are considering voting for him). However, if Obama issues a harsh response condemning the image, then the publics' reaction, according to my friend, would likely be negative. It's an interesting take on the whole situation.
As of Larry King earlier tonight, Barack Obama finally put his two cents into the bucket. As cited on CNN.com, Obama told King,
Whether or not this statement would be sufficient enough for my friend is likely irrelevant, as I am quite sure he is not going to vote for Obama either way and ultimately, this is not the point. What is the point, is the use of satire as an informative device. Whether you think the New Yorker cover is funny, informative, damaging or crude, one thing is for sure, it has elicited such a wide variety of opinion and response, a dialog has commenced and information has been disseminated. And just look at the bright side, at least the New Yorker isn't advocating the consumption of your babies.
"It's a cartoon ... and that's why we've got the First Amendment. And I think the American people are probably spending a little more time worrying about what's happening with the banking system and the housing market and what's happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, than a cartoon. So I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it."I've seen and heard worse. I do think that, you know, in attempting to satirize something, they probably fueled some misconceptions about me instead. But, you know, that was their editorial judgment."