Author Archive | Danny Schechter

Deal Done But War Goes On: No Winners, Only Losers

John BoehnerBehind the Shutdown was a politics of right-wing movement building to raise money and visibility by raising hell. Obamacare had nothing to do with it.

So what was it all about?  The Senate deal ending the shutdown and deferring a default until the next time has solved nothing. It is as if we have been given a break for Thanksgiving and the Christmas shopping season until the partisan wars resume.  The fighting and arguing have only ceased.

It is unlikely that any of the instigators have learned anything other  how a handful of parliamentary savvy kamikazes can bring the government to its knees in the name of a righteous cause—not to bring about change but to try to stop changes they don’t like.

When the Ted Cruz missile against Obamacare helped trigger the melee that closed national parks, limited government services and disrupted the livelihoods of 800, 000 federal employees and the lives of millions, many wondered why when it was clear the extreme right was pursing an unachievable goal.… Read the rest

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Introducing Tri Hita Karana, Bali’s Bold New Model for Sustainable Development

Megan-young-for-miss-world-2013Bali, Indonesia: When you arrive in Bali, the most diverse and popular of Indonesia’s 7,000+ islands, you are immediately confronted with a just-constructed, state of the art, vast airport with an arrivals area designed to accommodate thousands of visitors and conference delegates.

It had its inaugural run a week earlier for the Miss World contest that brought bevvies of beauty queens and their entourages to the Nusa Dua Convention Center that, this week, plays hosts to far less popular government leaders of the 21 member APEC—Asia Pacific Economic Community.  Later, as foreign leaders arrived, the new airport was shut down—ostensibly for security reasons—greatly inconveniencing 17,000 travelers.

Predictably, there were more photos in the press of the victory of a smiling and vivacious Miss Philippines than all of the self-important politicians scurrying for credentials.  The news in America focused on one issue: Obama’s no show and then John Kerry standing off to the side for the official photo and what he was wearing.… Read the rest

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A Shutdown or A Coup? How It Was Engineered

What is the Tea Party and where did it come from? Was it a grass roots movement nurtured in the bowels of deep dissatisfaction in the American electorate with “big government” and its inexorable turn towards Socialism?

Hate to disappoint folks who buy the populist revolt theory. Anyone remember the mad rant of Rick Santelli in 2009? He’s a fixture on the pro-business channel CNBC who actually was first to call for a Tea Party by millionaires in Chicago to protest against any relief for homeowners who were on the verge of being foreclosed upon.

It was this loudmouth who used his bully pulpit on the floor of the Chicago Board of Trade to make the original call.

The idea resonated with the armies of the resentful who always feel l that the government should not help those in need—characterizing them as people living in bigger houses than they can afford and unfairly demanding a bailout from tax payers.… Read the rest

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Commemorating the Financial Crisis: It Ain’t Over Yet

Lehman Brothers Headquarters on Bankruptcy Day. Photo:Robert Scoble (CC)

Lehman Brothers Headquarters on Bankruptcy Day. Photo: Robert Scoble (CC)

Media outlets love anniversaries. They become the makers and newspegs for one day stories that become pretexts for episodic coverage of key issues that substitute for ongoing critical reporting.

It’s a ‘how are we doing coverage ‘ that aims to give us a grade but not look too closely at the causes..

So, no surprise, the President will mark the occasion this week, with, what else—a speech, really remarks aimed at providing a positive spin for a series of economic disasters that we have yet to climb out of.

Reuters reports:

“A White House official said Obama will deliver remarks in the White House Rose Garden on Monday to mark the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, which was accelerated on September 15, 2008 when the Lehman Brothers firm filed for bankruptcy protection.

The Democratic president will focus on the positive, discussing progress made and highlighting his prescriptions for boosting job creation amid budget battles expected with Republicans in Congress in the weeks ahead.”

Never mind that that venerable bank, Bear Stearns went down a year earlier in 2007, and that consumers were being targeted by financial predators pedaling subprime loans and other financial frauds for many years earlier.… Read the rest

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Financial Crisis and Impending War Are Converging As Failed Policies Become Self-Fulfilling Prophecies

Obama speech on AfghanistanIt looks like two great events may be converging.

First, the announced, then put off, and, now, increasingly back-on US punitive bombing of Syria, which seems to be timed around the anniversary of 9/11, just so we don’t lose our anger at the terrorist “bad guys” who, so it seems, are on our side for this great military salute to international law by breaking it.

And, then, there’s the anniversary of the financial crisis which all the military bang-bang is sure to drive off the front pages even as New York Times economist Paul Krugman noted Friday:

“In a few days, we’ll reach the fifth anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers — the moment when a recession, which was bad enough, turned into something much scarier. Suddenly, we were looking at the real possibility of economic catastrophe.

And the catastrophe came.”

President Obama has demanded TV airtime for Tuesday, the day after the Congress is supposed to vote on Syria (although he earlier said he would not be required to respect any vote.)

Currently calls to Congressional offices are reportedly running 540-1 against this war, but what the American people want does not seem to register with teeny alliance between the US, France and Israel—and not the rest of the world—determined to teach Assad a lesson no matter who likes it.  The latest number I saw showed a majority of Americans oppose a military strike.… Read the rest

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Is The Western Media Promoting War on Syria? Are All The Facts in? Does It Matter?

Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile -cropAs the United States threatens to target Syria militarily, how can we expect the military strikes to be covered?

First, there are very few US or western journalists stationed in Syria,  and many of the citizen reporters on the ground have become casualties, and/or have been intimidated and forced to leave.

That assures poor coverage of  those who will be hurt or become predictable and disposable “collateral damage.”

A front page New York Times article on Friday reporting on Syria, carries no dateline and was filed from Beirut. The Times explains that mainstream journalists cannot work freely in Syria, and contends that social media offers better coverage.

The paper quotes Absi Smesem, Syrian journalist, as saying,

“There are no objective sources of information on either side, neither with the regime nor the rebels .We need to get out of this Facebook phase, where all we do is whine and complain about the regime.”

Writing on Salon, in a piece picked up by Mediachannel.org, Patrick L Smith indicts western “lapdog media,”  asking,

“When was it that journalists began thinking of themselves as national security operatives?

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The New South Africa Bans a Major Film Festival Entry as Protests Mount

Durban, South Africa: It was Nelson Mandela’s birthday, and the international day of service in his honor. The reports were that the man they call Madiba was recovering, according to upbeat accounts from his wife of 15 years and daughter Zindzi from his marriage to Winnie.

Happily, on that night, it was also a time of celebration as film fans packed into the annual opening of the film festival in Durban.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 8.36.48 AM

For 34 years, the Durban International Film Festival  (DIFF) has brought a world of cinema to the East coast of South Africa with an impressive range of films, filmmakers and related events. The screenings are often packed with over 150 films or more on display.

The Festival is organized by the Center for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, up on the big hill overlooking Durban. In recent years, its setting went from the academic to the commercial, from a mountain to a beach, with the opening this year, once again, based in cinemas at the Suncoast casino where it is attended by a multi-racial, and multi-generational crowd.… Read the rest

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Nelson Mandela’s Final Battle: Dying With Dignity

Nelson_Mandela-2008_(edit)Durban, South Africa: If I was an ailing Nelson Mandela and at all conscious of the storms surrounding me, I might not be in such a hurry to open my eyes.

My diagnosis of “critical but stable” might change rapidly were I to find out how fiercely members of my own family are battling over my remains, and the funds I had provided for them in a special trust administered by people I trusted.

This spectacle could kill me!

As thousands of South Africans hold prayer sessions outside “his” Pretoria hospital, and with the world media still on an escalating ‘death watch,’  inside, there’s been a clash among and between family members, government officials trying to control and spin health information, and, even, doctors who have been cited, wrongly, in court battles about his condition. (The latest news from family members that he is “doing better” cannot be too encouraging to a media anxious to bring this expensive to cover story to its conclusion.)

There had been an official denial of a claim that he is in a vegetative state, along with unsubstantiated rumors that he is being kept alive at least until July 18, his 95th birthday, a day marked worldwide as “Mandela Day” to encourage community service.… Read the rest

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Media Waits for Mandela To Die: Are They ‘Vultures’?

Bill-Clinton-with-Nelson-MandelaThere’s anger amidst the apprehension in South Africa as the numbers of “journalists” on the Mandela deathwatch grows. Members of his family have about had it, comparing what even the New York Times called a “media swarm” to African vultures that wait to pounce on the carcasses of dead animals.

With President Obama in South Africa, carrying a message that he hyped as one of “profound gratitude” to Nelson Mandela. The Times reported,

“Mr. Obama said the main message he intended to deliver to Mr. Mandela, “if not directly to him but to his family, is simply our profound gratitude for his leadership all these years and that the thoughts and prayers of the American people are with him, and his family, and his country.”

It doesn’t seem as if the South Africa’s grieving for their former president’s imminent demise are too impressed with Obama seeking the spotlight. Some groups including top unions protested his receiving an honorary degree from a university in Johannesberg.… Read the rest

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Ethical Conundrums: Left, Right and Center

NSA_Employees_onlyNEW YORK: The annual Left Forum here is holding a panel that touches on ethics and I was asked to be on it. I have always been conscious of the ethical minefields we live in when we, myself included, sometimes make bad choices or try to take short cuts that end up being embarrassing, hurtful or worse. I certainly don’t feel self-righteous enough to put all the blame for my problems on others, even as I try to be aware of and critical of my own flaws and failings.  That old blues song with the refrain, “before you accuse me, take a look at yourself” is one musical corrective to the problem. It is easy to heap all the blame on political enemies who seem to always be blatantly lying, cheating and causing so much violence and mayhem the world over. We routinely blast the “banksters” and Republican right for their frauds, crimes and abuses of democracy.… Read the rest

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