Aletho News

ΑΛΗΘΩΣ

US ‘sends special forces to Yemen’ amid crisis

Press TV – December 14, 2009

US special forces have reportedly been sent to Yemen to train its army, as the Yemeni military backed by the Saudi Arabian army has been fighting local Houthi fighters in the north of the country.

The development comes amid fears that foreign military intervention in the country has put Yemeni civilians in dire condition.

American officials told The Daily Telegraph on Sunday that the US forces have been sent to Yemen to prevent the country from turning into a “reserve base” for al-Qaeda.

The move to strengthen Yemen’s army comes at a time that the country’s army is not fighting with al-Qaeda militants which are based in the southern parts of the country.

The conflict in northern Yemen began in 2004 between Sana’a and Houthi fighters. The conflict intensified in August 2009 when the Yemeni army launched Operation Scorched Earth in an attempt to crush the Shia fighters in the northern province of Sa’ada.

The government claims that the fighters, who are named after their leader Abdul Malik al-Houthi, seek to restore the Shia Zaidi imamate system, which was overthrown in a 1962 coup

The Houthis reject the claim and accuse the Yemeni government of violation of their civil rights, political, economic and religious marginalization as well as large-scale corruption.

The Saudi air force has further complicated the conflict by launching its own operations against Shia resistance fighters.

Saudi fighter jets are reportedly using phosphorous bombs against the Houthi fighters.

Houthi fighters on Sunday said that Saudi forces launched a major cross-border airstrike on Yemen, leaving at least 70 civilians dead and more than 100 others injured in the northern district of Razeh.

As Sana’a does not allow independent media into the conflict zone, there are no clear estimates available as to how many people have been killed in the Shia province of Sa’adah since the beginning of the conflict.

International aid agencies and some UN bodies including United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have voiced concern over the dire condition of the Yemeni civilians who have become the main victims of the conflict in the country.

UNICEF has deplored the plight of children in northern Yemen. UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, Sigrid Kaag, said “They (children) are living in difficult conditions, away from their homes and schools despite significant humanitarian relief efforts.”

UNHCR estimates that since 2004, up to 175,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Sa’ada and take refuge at overcrowded camps in which, according to UN reports, bad conditions have resulted in children’s death.

The United Nations which according to its charter is set up “to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace, and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace” has failed to adopt any concrete measures to help end the bloody war.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism | 4 Comments

Chavez says Clinton threatens Venezuela over ties with Iran

MOSCOW, December 14 (RIA Novosti) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said a recent statement by the U.S. secretary of state on ties with Iran was “a clear threat” against his country and Bolivia, the EFE news agency said on Monday.

Hillary Clinton said on Monday that “if people want to flirt with Iran, they should take a look at what the consequences might well be for them.” She expressed hope that they would “think twice” before doing so.

“Clinton’s statements are, above all a threat to Bolivia and Venezuela, as well as the whole Bolivarian Alliance,” the agency quoted the Venezuelan leader as saying at a summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America (ALBA).

ALBA, or the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, was founded by former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez in 2005 and now comprises nine members – Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Honduras, Dominica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Antigua and Barbuda.

“They are a direct evidence of the Imperialistic threat, which seeks to halt the development of progressive forces… Facing this threat, we agreed… to strengthen Alba and to activate [cooperation] in all directions: economic, political and social,” the Venezuelan leader went on.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose country is suspected of developing a nuclear program aimed at the production of an atomic weapon, has visited a number of Latin American states in late November, including Bolivia and Venezuela.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Full Spectrum Dominance, Wars for Israel | Leave a comment

US Wants to Expand Drone Strikes Into Major Pakistani City

Officials: ‘Real Discussion’ of Attacking Quetta

by Jason Ditz, December 13, 2009

Top US officials say there is a “real discussion” going on right now about launching drone attacks against the Balochistan capital city of Quetta. The comments are the latest in a series of threats against the city, one of Pakistan’s largest.

Though the Pakistani government has looked the other way and even provided behind the scenes support for the various US drone attacks against Pakistan’s tribal areas, officials say a strike on Quetta would be a deal-breaker.

“We are not a banana republic,” one official declared, adding that a US attack on Quetta “might be the end of the road.” Pakistan’s military has likewise repeatedly warned against attacks on the city.

The US threats are ostensibly designed to counter the Quetta Shura, a group of Afghan exiles supposedly running much of the insurgency from the city. Pakistan has repeatedly denied that the Shura even exists, though on Friday Defense Minister Ahmad Mukhtar insisted that security forces had degraded them to the point they no longer pose a real threat.

Source

December 13, 2009 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Militarism, War Crimes | Leave a comment

HOW THE ‘JERUSALEM POST’ PROPAGANDISES ITS EXTREME VIEWS WITHOUT SEEMING TO BE EXTREME

By Damian Lataan
December 14, 2009

I suspect that many exiled Palestinians and their friends and supporters take the trouble to read the ‘Jerusalem Post’ on a regular basis if for no other reason than to get an Israeli perspective of how things are in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and elsewhere and in order to assess the Israeli point of view on these matters.

The ‘Jerusalem Post’ is a politically right of centre newspaper and generally pro-Zionist and pro-Likud though it occasionally publishes works that clearly do not support the right-wing of Israeli politics – but only occasionally, and then only to present it self as a ‘fair and balanced’ journal in support of what they consider is their idea of ‘democracy’. The ‘Jerusalem Post’ tries hard to present its right-wing Zionist views without seeming to be extreme. One of the ways that it does this is to write articles that argue the right-wing cause but without going ‘over the top’ with extremist rhetoric. It then allows its right-wing readership to do the rest by inviting them to comment. The ‘Jerusalem Post’ then censors comments so that the extremists view dominates. The ‘Jerusalem Post’ will publish irrational or just plain stupid comments that dissent from their article in order to belittle and demean the more progressive or left-wing side of the ‘debate’. Sensible progressive or left-wing comments rarely get published.

A good example of how all this works appeared in the ‘Jerusalem Post’ last week when it published an article entitled ‘Security and Defence: Round Two’ by Yaakov Katz. The article was about how Israel is gearing up for, and why the Israel people should expect, another ‘round’ of war against Hamas and the Palestinian people in the Gaza.

Katz is a skilled propagandist and is well practised in the art of expressing an extremist view with such eloquence as to make it seem almost moderate. This is done by presenting his writings as objective analysis rather than obvious propaganda and political rhetoric. As well as the content of his article conveying the message to Israelis and the rest of the world, (the message, incidentally, is; “The IDF believes this future conflict will be far different than its predecessor, and likely more lethal”) Katz leaves it to his readers to express what he really thinks. There’s this one for example:

Round two? Round umpteen! Only one way to fight ethically NOW. Territorial and demographic (non-violent [sic] transfer) VICTORY AND BUFFER to achieve true.. balance in ME (minimally “Big” Israel, how the British Mandate should have been divided anyway) with a minimal amount of casualties. It is NOT ethical anymore to send soldiers into battle without any clear and honest territorial gain. Honesty will win the day. Backed by a diplomatic “offensive” to finally put across Israel’s historical rights and position forthrightly and to explain to the Arabs/Mulsims (sic) and West that a “Big” Israel is the best psychological defense against Totalitarian Jihad. Israeli politicians have to back the jewish (sic) soldier! Shalom is the only defense, not rounds of hagana (sic)
No more rounds.

Unlike Katz, this reader is not constrained when it comes to saying what he/she as a Zionist really believes.

Then there’s this which highlights the Zionists belief in a God-given right to lands that don’t belong to them. It’s not something you’ll ever find Katz saying in the ’Jerusalem Post’ but he’d likely endorse the sentiment expressed:

Simon the Maccabbee took Gaza 2150 years ago. That’s what we will be forced to do sooner or later.
It is part of our land and the more we try to run away from it the more it chases after us. Most of the Arab there want to leave and would do so in a minute if helped to do so. Which would solve the problem of Gaza once and for all in a humane fashion. The world and especially the 22 Arab states sitting on 1/6 of the Earth’s land can certainly find room for these people who want simply to leave. Then the Gush Katif Jews can return rebuild and make the whole of Gaza into a paradise as their own small area was before the destruction.

And there’s this from a reader who calls himself ‘Pedro’ in Australia:

The question is, knowing all this what is Israel going to do about it and why in the first place do you allow this monsters to arm them self to this point?? Why must you wait for them to attack first?

If you link to the article and read it and the comments that follow you’ll soon understand how the propagandists work.

But what’s really frightening is how these people, Katz supported by his readers, can actually endorse blatant violence in order to achieve nothing less than conquest of lands that are not theirs. This is the mindset of the Zionists. The propagandist plants the pestilent seed; the readers that support him supply the manure to fertilise it.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Leave a comment

Obama snubs UK freedom request

Last Briton in Guantanamo Bay has been held eight years without charges

By Robert Verkaik, Law editor
The Independent
December 12, 2009

The government has clashed with the Obama administration over the return of the last UK resident to be held at Guantanamo Bay.

Foreign Office officials yesterday confirmed that Foreign Secretary David Miliband last month made an “exceptional” request to the US for the release of Shaker Aamer, but that his appeal has been rejected.

Mr Aamer, 42, who lived with his British wife and four children in London for five years after arriving in Britain in 1996, has been detained at the prison camp in Cuba since February 2002 after his capture in Afghanistan in December 2001. He was later handed over to American forces and held at Bagram prison, where he claims he was subjected to torture during interrogations.

Britain made its first request for the release of Mr Aamer to representatives of the Bush administration in August 2007. Mr Miliband was known to have discussed Mr Aamer’s release with Hillary Clinton after President Obama’s election victory, but it was not known until yesterday that a second request had been made.

A Foreign Office spokesperson said: “We have made an exceptional request for the release and return of Shaker Aamer, a Saudi national, to the UK.

“This is because of the exceptional nature of the Guantanamo facility and our sustained efforts to see it closed. Though we were successful with securing the return of four other non-UK nationals, we have not been able yet to do so with Shaker.”

Mr Aamer has never been charged with an offence.

This week the High Court in London ruled that there was evidence of wrong-doing in Mr Aamer’s case and ordered the UK Government to disclose secret documents that Mr Aamer alleges prove Britain was complicit in his torture.

The case is potentially more damaging to Britain than that of former Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed because British agents are accused of being present during Mr Aamer’s alleged torture. In one allegation an MI5 agent is said to have been present when Mr Aamer’s US interrogators banged his head against a wall, although the agent did not intervene.

In his court victory on Tuesday two judges ruled that Mr Aamer was entitled to see UK Government documents relating to his detention. His lawyers say they contain evidence supporting his claims that confessions he made were obtained through torture.

Lord Justice Sullivan said: “Our present view is that this matter is clearly very urgent. If this information is to be of any use it has to be put in the claimant’s hands as soon as possible.”

Later Mr Aamer’s solicitor, Irene Nembhard, said: “It is the first ray of light for Shaker and his family. [They] will be overjoyed and they will be expecting that the British Government will give their lawyers the documents to assist them in persuading the Americans to release Shaker.” President Obama made the closure of the US naval base a key priority when he was elected last year. He set himself a deadline of one year but has since admitted that he will not be able to meet this target.

Clive Stafford Smith, the director of UK legal charity Reprieve, has represented Mr Aamer in the US. He said that the British and American governments seem to working in unison to keep information about Mr Aamer’s treatment from being made public. “It seems to be another big example of the British government working with the US to hide their mutual wrongdoing,” he said.

The US have told the UK that they believe Mr Aamer represents a security risk.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Civil Liberties, Deception, Islamophobia | Leave a comment

On the demonization of Saddam Hussein and Manuel Noriega

An excerpt from the recently published book The Mother of All Battles: The Endless U.S.-Iraq War by Malcom Lagauche:

In December 2003, we all saw the photos of a disheveled Saddam Hussein after he was pulled out of a “spider hole” in a town near Tikrit. The administration laughed and the U.S. public made jokes about him and his hiding place.

The room was dirty. There was an empty can of Spam. The story was that he was holed up there and was totally irrelevant to Iraq. His day was done and he was now in the hands of Iraq’s liberators. What you saw wasn’t real. Nothing of this scenario was true.

On March 8, 2005, United Press International (UPI) ran a short press release titled “Public Version of Saddam Capture Fiction.” It received little publicity in the U.S., but some foreign news agencies did run the story

The UPI press release consisted of quotes from an ex-U.S. Marine of Lebanese descent, Nadim Rabeh. In addition to the U.S. version of the capture date being off by two days, during an interview in Lebanon, Rabeh stated:

I was among the 20-man unit, including eight of Arab descent, who searched for Saddam for three days in the area of Dour near Tikrit, and we found him in a modest home in a small village and not in a hole as announced. We captured him after fierce resistance during which a Marine of Sudanese origin was killed.

Rabeh recounted how Saddam fired at them with a gun from the window of a room on the second floor. Then, the Marines shouted at him in Arabic, “You have to surrender. There is no point in resisting.”

How did we come to see the pictures of the hole and a scruffy-looking Saddam Hussein? According to Rabeh, “Later on, a military production team fabricated the film of Saddam’s capture in a hole, which was in fact a deserted well.”

The former Marine’s account mixes with the rendition Saddam Hussein gave his lawyer when they had their first meeting. Saddam told him that he was captured in a friend’s house and that he was drugged and tortured for two days, hence the pictures of Saddam looking bedraggled.

All the major news networks and publications showed pictures of the hole and a beleaguered Saddam: Time Magazine, CNN News, magazines, daily newspapers, etc. You name it and they published it. But, they were all wrong. Not one publication took the time to research the story. They ran the pictures supplied by the U.S. military and parroted the lines they were given.

This was not the first time something similar has occurred. After the 1989 invasion of Panama, the U.S. allowed the press to enter Manuel Noriega’s office. He was portrayed as a sexual pervert. In the office were pictures of young boys, a picture of Hitler, red underpants and pornographic magazines.

A few months later, the first Marine to enter Noriega’s office was released from the Corps. He eventually talked to a reporter and gave his story of the encounter. He maintained that the contents of the office included only a desk, a telephone, a chair, and a typewriter.

With Saddam, the props were changed. They were made to make Saddam look like a caged animal on the run who only had the basic elements to survive. No one asked questions of what should have been obvious. For instance, how did Saddam Hussein come into possession of a can of Spam? There was absolutely no place in Iraq where Spam was sold. It contains pork, a food forbidden from a Moslem’s diet.

A few months after his capture, a picture was widely distributed that gained much publicity. It showed a bunch of U.S. soldiers standing next to an Iraqi building on which a painted illustration depicted the blowing up of the World Trade Center. The inference was that Iraqis took glee in the acts of the destruction of the World Trade Center on 9-11-2001.

If one looked close, it was evident that the soldiers were standing on the base path of a disused baseball field. There were no baseball fields in Iraq. Upon closer scrutinizing, the trees were typical southeastern U.S. types that are not indigenous to Iraq.

The photo was bogus. It was filmed in the U.S., but, the harm had been done. Many news agencies had distributed the picture. Its contents inflamed U.S. citizens even more about the Iraqi people.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | 21 Comments

Climate change: Minority report

Climategate does not just demonstrate the corruption of science and peer-review; it also demonstrates the incompetence of specialists who do not understand planetary ecology

By Peter Taylor
Al-Jazeera
December 8, 2009

Some climatologists believe current rises in temperatures and melting icebergs are part of of the Earth’s natural cycles, and not induced by man-made devices [EPA]

Concern over global warming has spawned such a highly charged and polarised political movement, that real science has become sidelined in favour of sound-bites and simple messages. The real science is not as ‘settled’ as some politicians would have us believe.

There is a significant minority of climate scientists who look at the data and conclude that we are dealing with natural cycles that are peaking just as they have done on a regular basis over centuries.

These scientists are heavily outnumbered by the proliferation of computer specialists who have created their own virtual planet – people trained in maths and physics who may never have handled an ice-core, tree-ring apparatus, sediments or stalagmites and all of the proxy indicators of past temperature cycles.

In my view, the UN secretariat has marginalised their careful assessment and warnings about natural cycles in favour of alarming future projections generated by the computer model.

These real climate scientists know that the last major warm period was a 1,000 years ago when the Vikings grew crops in Greenland – their graves are still solid in the permafrost.

In between then and now, Europe and China experienced a Little Ice Age – with widespread famine.

Reading the fine print

There is so much spin that you have to read the small print of the UN reports where they admit to not understanding natural cycles and what drives them.

Behind the scenes they acknowledge cycles are at work and contribute to the warming and that it is only from the model that they derive the dominance of carbon dioxide.

But the model does not easily simulate the poorly understood cycles. Satellites do a better job and having spent three years studying the data I conclude global warming is real but at least 80 per cent natural cycle and 20 per cent human emissions.

My conclusions are supported by recent climate shifts that run counter to model predictions. From the data on cycles I could predict that after 2007, when Arctic summer ice reached a record low, it would start to recover.

In 2008, it came back by 10 per cent. The majority expected it to continue its decline to ice-free status by 2015. In 2009, it grew by another 10 per cent.

Little Ice Age

The models beloved of the majority also predicted that the high-level winds, known as the jet-stream, would shift north as the globe warmed.

The jet-stream directs wet weather from the Atlantic and in 2007 they shifted south, bringing widespread flooding to Western Europe.

I have seen a minority report in Nasa’s archives which shows that the jet-stream shifts south as the magnetic field of the sun falls and this was characteristic of the Little Ice Age.

In 2007, the sun’s magnetic field fell to an all time low and this repeated through 2008 and 2009, as did the floods.

Many solar scientists point to a link between this magnetic field and climate on Earth and when the field is low, the Earth cools.

During the low in the 17th century the Thames in London froze every winter for 50 years and summers were a washout.

Chinese and Russian scientists have better knowledge of these cycles, because the cold periods induce widespread famine – and some of them see all the signs of a new Little Ice Age.

Perhaps that’s why their governments’ sovereign funds are buying huge tracts of productive land in the tropics – for food.

You may ask – if this is real science, how can the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ignore it and claim the warming is caused by carbon dioxide.

Global spin?

In fact, the scientists only agreed the warming is “very likely not due to known natural causes acting alone” – and that is spun by the policy-makers and the world’s media.

The not-known natural causes are subject to high-level research programmes because real scientists know they exist and are powerful. And no real climate scientist ever said natural causes are acting alone.

Up until the recent ‘climate-gate’ scandal, I accepted that the objective data could be trusted.

But it now appears scientists upon whom the UN relies were busy manipulating the data to produce a warmer globe and to eradicate what they call ‘blips’ (i.e. cycles) that they cannot explain.

To compound matters, they then sought to undermine the Freedom of Information Act and delete their records in advance of requests for the data.

The issue of causation is crucial. The poorest people are already at risk whether the globe warms or cools.

We need action on the real and immediate threats facing human support systems from unavoidable natural climate change – but less than one per cent of resources devoted to climate are spent on adaptation, the rest goes on what will be ineffective attempts to ‘stop climate chaos’.

Peter Taylor is an ecologist and author of ‘Chill: a reassessment of global warming theory’.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Science and Pseudo-Science | 15 Comments

Israel allocates millions of dollars to settlements

Press TV - December 13, 2009 17:37:49 GMT

The Israeli cabinet has approved a proposal by Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu to allocate millions of dollars in extra funds to “national priority zones” in the West Bank.

The cabinet voted on Sunday to approve the proposal to include settlements in the list of communities designated as national priority zones, which entitles them to credits worth $41 million, AFP reported.

In its vote, the cabinet also decided to create a commission that will decide within 30 days on whether to include other communities inside Israel in the priority list, said a government official.

The move, which came just weeks after Israel imposed a ten-month moratorium on new buildings in the West Bank settlements, defies a call by Palestinians for a complete halt on settlements considered by the International community as illegal.

Netanyahu, however, claimed the plan to change Israel’s map of national priority areas does not signify a permanent stance on the future of these areas.

“We will determine the future of settlements only within the framework of a permanent agreement [with Palestinians],” he said, according to Army Radio.

Israel has repeatedly been called to halt the construction of illegal settlements including the so-called “natural growth” in existing settlements in the West Bank.

Tel Aviv, however, claimed that it is not constructing ‘new’ settlements but only building new units in the existing settlements.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | Leave a comment

Washington ‘rejects Iran uranium swap offer’

Press TV – December 13, 2009

Washington has reportedly dismissed a Tehran offer to swap 400 kilograms of its low enriched uranium in the Persian Gulf island of Kish.

“Iran’s proposal today does not appear to be consistent with the fair and balanced draft agreement proposed by the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) in consultation with the United States, Russia and France,” AFP quoted an unnamed US official as saying.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Saturday said the country is ready “to take 400 Kg of 3.5 percent enriched uranium to the Island of Kish and exchange it with an amount equivalent to 20 percent of the original batch.”

Mottaki added that the process would begin “right away” if the P5+1, the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany, agree to the offer.

The US official talking on condition of anonymity, however, said the offer was “nothing new.” Iran should take up the existing IAEA proposal, the official added, and send 1,200 kilograms of its low enriched uranium to Russia “in one batch.”

“We remain committed to these terms. Unfortunately, Iran has been unwilling to engage in further talks on its nuclear program,” the official said. “We urge Iran not to squander this opportunity.”

The West has been pressuring Iran to accept a UN-backed draft deal which requires Iran to send most of its domestically produced low enriched uranium (LEU) abroad to be converted into more refined fuel for the Tehran reactor that produces medical isotopes.

Iran has however called for “concrete guarantees” as some Western countries have previously failed to adhere to their nuclear commitments with regards to Tehran.

Iran’s nuclear program was launched in the 1950s with the help of the United States as part of the Atoms for Peace program.

The then US President, Gerald Ford believed that the “introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran’s economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion to petrochemicals.”

After the 1979 Revolution which toppled Iran’s US-backed monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, Western companies working on Iran’s program refused to fulfill their obligations even though they had been paid in full.

Tehran and Paris had signed a deal, under which France agreed to deliver 50 tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to Iran, a promise which was never fulfilled.

Despite being a 10-percent shareholder and entitled to France’s Eurodif output, Paris has refused to give any enriched uranium to Iran.

In January 1978, Germany’s Kraftwerk Union, which according to a 1975 contract was obliged to complete the Bushehr reactor, stopped working at the nuclear project with one reactor 50 percent complete, and the other reactor 85 percent complete.

December 13, 2009 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Wars for Israel | 2 Comments

Award Winning Flashpoints Radio Show Under Threat by KPFA Management

Daily Censored – December 11, 2009

eblpalestine101_mk.jpg

By Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff

The Flashpoints radio program is being directly threatened with closure by station management. Budget cuts implemented by KPFA management; reduce staff time for Flashpoints by some 75 hours per week. Flashpoints, an award winning national radio program, originates at KPFA in Berkeley, California, and reaches some thirty cities in the US and serves an on-line audience worldwide.

Nora Barrows-Friedman wrote on December 9, “KPFA has effectively destroyed Flashpoints this week, beginning with the layoff of our technical producer position. Just hours ago, they called me into a meeting and casually informed me that my hours will be reduced by 50%. I cannot afford to keep this job if I’m on 20 hours a week.”

Ms. Barrows-Friedman is a long time investigative reporter specializing in Israel-Palestine issues and is one of the few reporters in the country who covers this sensitive issue in a straightforward manner. She taught herself Arabic and often reports from the ground in the Middle East. Along with Flashpoints producers Dennis Bernstein and Miguel Molina, Ms. Barrows-Friedman was the recent recipient of a lifetime achievement Media Freedom Award from Media Freedom Foundation/Project Censored.

“Nora Barrows Friedman has seniority over at least a dozen more recent and less experienced staff people. She has done an outstanding job at Flashpoints, showing a special dedication and talent. She has top professional qualifications and standards, tested by time and performance,” stated long standing political commentator and author Dr. Michael Parenti.

With the latest cuts Flashpoints has lost some 30% of its annual budget. Flashpoints producer Dennis Bernstein believes that, “This has now been elevated to a political battle. Management has pumped up the budgets of the programs of their internal political supporters, and at the same time tried to kill Flashpoints through intimidation and attrition, and outright disrespect. Over fifteen people were hired after Nora, and yet Nora is one of the first to be hit and hit hard. It appears to the Flashpoints team, and our key advisers and supporters, that KPFA management is about to deal the show a final blow.”

Local KPFA listener Dianne Budd, M.D., a regular contributor to KPFA, threatened on December 11, to withhold her annual contribution to the station.  “I have donated regularly to KPFA, sometimes well over $1,000 a year.  This year I had planned to donate towards the end of December for tax reasons; however, if this decision to decimate and make impotent the Flashpoints staff is not overturned immediately, I will not make any donation,” Dr. Budd stated.

In a December 11 letter to KPFA station management, Arab community organizer Eyad Kishawi writes, “When the national Pacifica organization attempted to conduct a corporate takeover of KPFA, we the Arab, Muslim, anti-war and Indigenous communities conducted an all out campaign in support of your/our station that carries our voices and the voices for equality and justice.  Let me remind you that we lived up to the spirit of ‘Listener Sponsored Radio’ and started organizing fundraising events to keep the station going, and in particular supported Flashpoints . . . Flashpoints had been a thorn in the side of corporate and state-sponsored media. By attacking Flashpoints, you are pitting a large number of your listener sponsors against your station.”

Richard Becker, Western Regional Coordinator, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and Barbara Lubin, Executive Director Middle East Children’s Alliance jointly stated in a letter on December 11, that “We are shocked and dismayed to hear about the draconian cutbacks that KPFA management has announced against Flashpoints, the most incisive and cutting edge of the station’s programs. Flashpoints reporting and analysis on a wide range of struggles— from Honduras to Iraq, Haiti to Palestine, political prisoners, and many, many other critical international, national and local issues is unparalleled. The activists and organizers of the A.N.S.W.E.R.-Act Now to Stop War and End Racism-Coalition and the Middle East Children’s Alliance,  along with thousands of other activists and listeners in the Bay Area, have the highest regard for Flashpoints and its dedicated team.”

Becker and Luben call upon the station to restore Nora Barrows-Friedman and the technical producer position immediately, and threaten that “this is not an issue that will simply go away. On the contrary, if these devastating cuts are not reversed, you can be assured that it will only escalate.”

Factional disputes within Pacifica and specifically KPFA have recently emerged among programs like Flashpoints, Guns and Butter and Hard Knock that take aggressive critical positions towards major social justice issues including: racism, American empire and the military-industrial-media complex, Israel-Palestine, Haiti, and other hot button issues [such as false flag terror], vis-à-vis those programs that favor a more NPR [gatekeeper] like approach that includes news from corporate media sources like Associated Press and softer more entertaining programming.

Richard Phelps, former KPFA local station board chair, stated in an interview, “that given that the KPFA mission is to bring to people the stories that the corporate media refuses to cover, Flashpoints is one of the most important programs at the station. KPFA management seems to be wanting to tone down programs like Flashpoints and move the station into being just slightly left of center of the Democrat party.”

“The KPFA management doesn’t want critical reporting,” said Attila Nagy former North Bay representative to the KPFA Local Station Board.  “They have their priorities backwards,” Nagy added.

The mission statement of Pacifica radio states, “(d) In radio broadcasting operations to engage in any activity that shall contribute to a lasting understanding between nations and between the individuals of all nations, races, creeds and colors; to gather and disseminate information on the causes of conflict between any and all of such groups; and through any and all means compatible with the purposes of this corporation to promote the study of political and economic problems and of the causes of religious, philosophical and racial antagonisms; (e) In radio broadcasting operations to promote the full distribution of public information; to obtain access to sources of news not commonly brought together in the same medium; and to employ such varied sources in the public presentation of accurate, objective, comprehensive news on all matters vitally affecting the community.”

Dr. Ben Frymer, Director of Project Censored issued a statement today, “It is quite troubling to learn of the recent drastic cutbacks to the Flashpoints program.  These cuts will almost certainly be crippling to the vital efforts of the Flashpoints team in raising awareness of social injustice on a global scale.  We at Project Censored and the Media Freedom Foundation find these efforts so valuable that we just last week presented life-time achievement awards for Media Freedom to the Flashpoints radio team on KPFA: Dennis Bernstein, Miguel Molina and Nora Borrows-Friedman.”

KPFA management did not return e-mailed questions regarding this article. Persons wishing to comment should send e-mails to the general manger at KPFA: gm@kpfa.org and Dennis Bernstein at Flashpoints: dbernstein@igc.org.

________________________________________________________________________

Peter Phillips is a professor of Sociology at Sonoma State University and President of Media Freedom Foundation: peter.phillips@sonoma.edu

Mickey Huff is a associate professor of History at Diablo Valley College, and serves on the executive committee of Media Freedom Foundation: e-mail: mickeyhuff@mac.com

December 13, 2009 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 2 Comments

   

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 705 other followers