Author Archive | Danny Schechter

The World Unites Behind Mandela: An Unreported United Message From The United Nations

Mandela Funeral ProgrammeMillions of South Africans mourned the death of Nelson Mandela as you would expect, but the rest of world also joined in an unprecedented display of the same international solidarity that for years helped South Africa isolate its enemies and overthrow apartheid.

Mandela was not the first Third World revolutionary to become so popular in the West–just think of all the images of Cuba’s Che Guevara that remain proudly displayed on T-shirts the world over. Yet, Mandela built an international community of supporters that transcended ideological/political differences, races and cultures.

Nations not known for being supportive of the liberation movement he headed want to be thought of as Mandela backers.

Even Israel, whose Prime Minister Binjamin Netanyahu begged off an invitation to attend a memorial service in Johannesburg because he ostensibly ‘could not afford’ to come—other Israelis did attend—is now floating claims that their intelligence service assisted Mandela through support from a Intelligence operative in the Mossad back in 1962 who gave him a pistol.… Read the rest

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As the End Draws Nigh: Will Mandela’s Burial Also Bury His Memory?

Nelson_MandelaAs the body of Nelson Mandela heads for its “final rest” in the rural community where he was born, reverential exhilaration is turning into emotionally draining reflection tinged with criticism and self-criticism.

Mandela has moved from a person into a historical figure as in “now he belongs to the ages.”

In the world at large, this final Mandela moment has been bathed in media attention as have earlier spectacular events like his release from prison and inauguration as President. This time, there were more than two billion social media references leading to growing backlash of negativity from those who never supported him in the first place, as if the events were a distraction from the daily news parade of war, economic decline and political scandal.

Despite his death, this saga is largely considered “positive,” good news in a sea of bad. You can be sure that once he is in the ground, all you will here from media mavens is “We did Mandela, next.”

Wrote the Daily Mail in London, a newspaper that has over the years disseminated nasty and questionable criticisms of Mandela (even as in the thirties it was worshipful of fascists): ‘… while some reflected on the remarkable life of Nelson Mandela, some world leaders saw it as the perfect opportunity to grab a quick ‘selfie’ with their peers – prompting a backlash from web users accusing them of undermining the seriousness of the event.… Read the rest

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There Is More To Learn From Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela 1998Nelson Mandela is back in the news, not just due to his passing, but also because of his teaching. His daughter Makaziwe Mandela told the state-owned television network SABC that her father (from his first marriage) taught the family life lessons from what she termed his “deathbed.”

“Even, for a lack of a better word, on his deathbed, he is teaching us lessons; lessons in patience, in love, lessons of tolerance.”

Thanks to the release of the new epic movie, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom starring Idris Elba and Naomi Harris, the public is learning other lessons about the freedom struggle that he led.

On Christmas day, it opens nationwide in the US on 2000 screens with a majority of reviews very positive. It is already showing in France and England will be next in January.

In South Africa, the movie that shows Mandela’s early days as a boxer broke all box-office records.… Read the rest

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A Citizen’s Apology To Afghanistan

Hamid Karzai 2002Excellency Hamid Karzai
President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Dilkoshah Palace, a.k.a The ARG
Kabul

Dear President Karzai,

I am very, very sorry that my government won’t say how sorry we should be for the way Afghan people have died and been maimed and, otherwise poorly treated, by American soldiers, who, in too many cases, are imbued with an officially encouraged macho culture and sense of superiority enabled by having the guns and power to push people around.

That is even as we are supposedly in your country to defend and protect your emerging “democracy” from the bearded Taliban meanies who are violent extremists, or at least play them in this psycho-drama we call our “strategic partnership.” (Recall: we came to fight Al Qaeda, not the Taliban, the enemy no one mentions anymore!)

I am sorry that it’s so hard for American officials to see what others do see: that we, too, are viewed as violent extremists, what with our unrestrained use of drones and other killing machines.… Read the rest

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Nelson Mandela’s Life, Coming To A Big Screen Near You

long walkIt has been said that this is the year of the black film. Three have stood out as the Oscar buzz begins in earnest.

First, there was The Butler, later Lee Daniels’ The Butler, after a studio pissing-match about who owned the title. The heavily rewritten and sanitized story of a black butler in the White House became a platform for celebration as a cast of Hollywood heavyweights led by TV Queen Oprah Winfrey offered a praise poem to civil rights victories in which they included the election of Barack Obama.

Some critics like one at the Daily Mail felt the film was over the top: “It has been given a rather overly generous dashing, as if by a nervous butler, of dramatic license. Not historic license, though. No, every major development in the civil rights story is ticked off…what you might call the Forrest Gumping of Forest Whitaker.”

The Guardian said it “plays fast and loose with the facts” as the “central character becomes a cipher for the changing fortunes of African Americans in the 20th century.”

The underlying idea: turn civil rights into a feel-good story.… Read the rest

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CBS Still Under Attack for Benghazi And Other Reports

240px-CBS_logoGood news amidst the bad at CBS: Their drama, “Criminal Minds” had its biggest audience this week. Am I alone in believing that the network, once known for the stellar journalism of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite can at the same time be on the receiving end of at least three attacks, suggesting there is something far from kosher going on in the minds of the people in charge?

First, we have the now infamous 60 Minutes Benghazi report, which when criticized, was defended, as if it was a papal encyclical, by the powers that be, until problems were acknowledged, a lukewarm apology offered by chief correspondent, Lara Logan, that, boo hoo, did not quite silence the doubters who are still besieging CBS HQ at the Manhattan building known as Black Rock with fresh doubts and unanswered questions.

Back to Benghazi, once known as Al Qaeda’s favorite Libyan port, in a hot second.… Read the rest

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The Battle Over The Future of Journalism is Becoming More Intense

free pressNew York, NY: I was among the many media wannabe reformers to attend the tenth anniversary party of Free Press, the mostly online organization and lobby that promotes itself as a movement to transform our media system, and save our democracy.

I certainly support their policy goals like net neutrality and curbs on media consolidation,  and also admire their staying power, even if their style is very upwardly mobile, and rather un-left like, starting with this trendy soireee in an ultra modern upscale hotel lounge where drinks went for $15.00.

Free Press has been very effective in raising large sums of money using top-down means of organizing support.  (To be honest, as the editor of Mediachannel.org, a site that is barely holding on, I am a bit jealous of their evident skills as fundraisers and organization builders.)

I would like to see them do more to encourage other progressive groups to do more than electoral politics and take on media issues.… Read the rest

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Beheadings For Breakfast?

18xx Richtblock und Richtbeil anagoriaFacebook struck what it thought was a blow for freedom of expression: It is now going to allow beheadings to be seen in its news feeds.

Said the house of the billionaire Zuckerberg,

“since some people object to graphic video of this nature, we are working to give people additional control over the content they see. This may include warning them in advance that the image they are about to see contains graphic content.”

I am sure this oh-so-reasonable distinction without a difference is being celebrated at this very moment in some cave in Afghanistan by the crazies who delight in chopping off heads as acts of terror.

They do it so that their handywork will be seen. Facebook is ready to oblige them in the name of giving their members more control over the means of shocking others.

How nice.

Earlier, when their decision was roundly condemned, they qualified their pro-gore fatwa in this age of Zombie lovers everywhere, and just in time for Halloween, to put a liberal face on decision that makes chopping off faces more visible.… Read the rest

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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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