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Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Media Impairs Democracy...Again 

The DRBC, Democratic Reform BC provincial political party, is a centre-right party with one sitting MLA and a few dozen candidates.

Their leader is being shut out of the televised leaders debate.

In the past fifteen years such debates have included leaders of parties with no elected MLAs.

Regardless of your political stripe, democracy is not served by undemocratic media debate opportunities.

Join in DRBC's call to get representation at the leaders' debate.

Finis

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Friday, April 22, 2005

Nothing New: US Government and Media Corruption 

I'm having a hard time saying anything in response to this other than I completely agree. It's nice to be speechless sometimes.


Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2005 17:41:52 -0700
From: Peter Phillips
Subject: Incomplete News Undermines US Values

Incomplete News Undermines US Values
By Peter Phillips

Dozens were kidnapped by roving gangs off the streets of their hometowns, disappeared from families, hooded, chained, repeatedly interrogated, incarcerated for years in military prisons, and then told it was all a mistake. Did this happen in Stalinist Russia, some South American military dictatorship, Apartheid South Africa? No, the gangs were special forces of the US Government operating with approval from the highest levels of the Pentagon, the victims Afghan civilians recently released from the Guantanamo military prison camp in Cuba.

The New York Times published an article April 20 reporting how 17 innocent Afghans were recently freed from Guantanamo prison after three and half years. "Several of the Afghans said in interviews that they had been told by American officers that they were being freed because they were innocent of any crime," the article reported. "The men would be given new clothes, turbans and travel money and allowed to go home," the paper disclosed.

Prior to the release of the Guantanamo prisoners last Fall, Seymour Hersh fully exposed the US's worldwide abuse of power and violation of human right in articles published in the Guardian and New Yorker. Hersh documented that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, with approval from the White House, had authorized a special-access program (SAP) to go on global manhunts for terrorists. It was deemed OK to kidnap suspected terrorists and take them to countries that would get tough (torture) them during interrogations. Several hundred people captured wholesale in Afghanistan and transported to Cuba were deemed enemy non-combatants without rights of due process or coverage under the Geneva Convention.

The New York Times' story covers the release of the internees without Hersh's historical context of high level official approval. Additionally, the NY Times story fails to address coverage of how, in a country that supports due process and human rights, our military could take such tragic action violating the rights of these men and their families. Instead the story implies that the kidnapping of these Afghans was justified in that undoubtedly some of the prisoners were guilty. This is like rounding up the church choir because the minister was caught in bed with the organist.

Failure to publish the full truth regarding the release of the Afghan prisoners is a strong indication that the New York Times and corporate media groups in general are unable and unwilling to fully address human right violations by our own government. The broad publication of stories about the breach of human rights by our national security forces is inconsistent with corporate media's continuing desire to have 24 hour access to sources of news inside the White House, Pentagon and State Department. This failure of nerve to support the public's right to know and insure a transparent governmental process is undoubtedly giving America a black eye in the world community. Increasingly America is seen as an uncontrolled empire of power and abuse. For many in the world we are the Darth Vaders of the planet - pure evil incorporated.

Non-Americans know that the people in the US do not approve of these practices. We must, however, openly share their outrage and demand that America hold to our values of due process and human rights. To do this we must support media that address these issues. We need a media that post and recognize the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in every newsroom. Anything less cuts at the very soul of the American people.

--

Peter Phillips Ph.D.
Sociology Department/Project Censored
Sonoma State University
http://www.projectcensored.org/


Finis

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Wednesday, April 13, 2005

The Wonkiness of Gasoline Boycott Emails 

Everyone once in a while there is an email going around explaining how consumers can use the free market to force a reduction in gas prices [see below]. These gas campaigns are always so alluring, but ultimately they ring hollow for me, and not just because I sold my car.

I think the following quote is somewhat contentious; I don't believe it anymore [as much as I'd love to hate oil companies]:

> We all know that we're being controlled by the oil companies. Does everyone
> remember how they drove up the prices way past a dollar and got the gas
> prices to where they wanted them, claiming there was a shortage of oil?
> Well, there isn't any shortage now, and the oil is more abundant than it
> was 35 years ago when the price of a litre of gas was 29 cents!!!


And while the supply and demand subtleties of consumer gas prices are in the realm of elasticity voodoo, there has been a huge traffic spike recently in the whole debate about when we as a planet cross the point of increasing consumption, maximized extraction capacity, maximum refining capacity [may have been 8-12 months ago], and decreasing growth in new finds of deposits.

The Hubbert's Peak idea may sum it up best. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubbert_peak and http://www.HubbertPeak.com


> all of you that buy Petro Can and Shell....read on....
> It is rumoured that we are going to hit close to a $1.42 a Litre by the
> summer. Want gasoline prices to come down? We need to take some
> intelligent, united action. Phillip Hollsworth, offered this good idea:
> This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the ''don't buy gas on a certain day''
> campaign
> that was going around last April or May! The oil companies just laughed
> at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to hurt ourselves by
> refusing to buy gas. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a
> problem
> for them. BUT, this is a plan that can really work. Please read it and
> join with us!
>
>
> We all know that we're being controlled by the oil companies. Does
> everyone
> remember how they drove up the prices way past a dollar and got the gas
> prices to where they wanted them, claiming there was a shortage of oil?
> Well, there isn't any shortage now, and the oil is more abundant than it
> was 35 years ago when the price of a litre of gas was 29 cents!!!
>
>
> Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to
> think that the cost of a litre of gas is CHEAP at $0.78-$0.85, we need
> to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the
> marketplace....not sellers. With the price of gasoline going up more
> each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to
> see the price of gas come down is if we hit someone in the pocketbook by not
> purchasing their gas! And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. How?
> Since we all rely on our cars, we can't just stop buying gas. But we CAN
> have an impact on gas prices if we all act together to force a price
> war.
>
>
> Here's the idea: For the rest of this year, DON'T purchase ANY gasoline
> from the two biggest companies (which are now one), PETRO CANADA, SHELL.
> If they are not selling any gas, they will be inclined to reduce their
> prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to
> follow suit.
> But to have an impact, we need to reach literally millions of PETRO
> CANADA and SHELL buyers. Its really simple to do!! Now, don't whimp out on me
> at this point...keep reading and Ill explain how simple it is to reach
> millions of people!!
>
>
> I am sending this note to at least thirty people. If each of you send it
> to at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300) ... and those 300 send it to at
> least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000)...and so on, by the time the message
> reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached over THREE MILLION
> consumers! If those three million get excited and pass this on to ten
> friends each, then 30 million people will have been contacted! If it
> goes one level further, you guessed it..... THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!
>
>
> Again, all You have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all.
>(after all we all forward messages to people every day that have no impact
> other than entertainment!- why not something that could make a difference
> in our pocket books!)
>
> How long would all this take? If each of us sends this email out to ten
> more people within one day of receipt, all 300 MILLION people could
> conceivably be contacted within the next 8 days!!! Ill bet you didn't
> think you and I had that much potential, did you?! Acting together we can
> make a difference!! If this makes sense to you, please pass this message
> on.
>
> PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE $0.64 OR LESS
> RANGE AND KEEP THEM DOWN. THIS CAN REALLY WORK!!!!!!!


Finis

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Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Death of Real News: Foretold by the Movie "Network" 

The 1976 masterpiece Network was prescient enough to foretell the rise of reality TV, the absence of quality news, the public's lack of demand for it and our appetite for fluff that doesn't disturb our comfortable consumer lifestyles. Stories now are not why gas is over a dollar a litre, but where the price wars are to fill up our FUVs. God forbid that we actually delve into the complex geopolitical reasons for oil price increases like ensure the future ability to fuel aircraft carrier groups all within a context of reaching Hubbert's Peak of oil production.

Now I've just read an interview with Leroy Sievers, recently resigned Executive Producer of Nightline on why news today is pap. It's fantastic. Here's the best part:

Years ago I was at a conference and people were saying--a couple of people that ran other shows--"We don't want to challenge the audience. We want to make it easy and comfortable," and I was thinking to myself, God, I want to challenge the audience every night. That's what I want to do. Well, it turns out maybe the audience doesn't want to be challenged.

Maybe we're the lone voices crying in the wilderness. I think it's cyclical, but if people don't care about what's going on now, in the world we live in now, what will make them care?


And as we become more consumers than citizens, we demand news that meets our consumer impulse instead of our desire to learn about things we don't already know about:

Where I think it's headed as a business is news on demand. You know, you're going to say, "I'm interested in the weather, I'm interested in film, I'm interested in the beach, I'm interested in Iraq." And so your computer will simply give you those stories. What's being lost now, it's just about gone, and it's going to be lost when all that happens, is the idea that there are stories out there that you don't know about, that you don't know you're interested in, but you will be interested in.

God help us all.

Finis

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