Archive for the ‘Blogroll’ Category

Has Morgan Spurlock Found Osama Bin Laden?

December 6, 2007

By Josh Tyler: 2007-12-04 14:26:36

Has Morgan Spurlock Found Osama Bin Laden? If Michael Moore is America’s number one documentary filmmaker, then after releasing Super Size Me Morgan Spurlock definitely became number 2. Except while Moore makes more point of view movies, Spurlock’s work is a lot closer to being what we think of when throwing around the word “documentary”.

His next project is by far, his riskiest yet. Spurlock has finished his new movie Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?, in which he sets out to do what the United States government has apparently failed to do: Find Osama Bin Laden. The Weinstein Company bought the thing after seeing only 15 minutes of it at the Berlin Film Festival, and here’s where it gets really interesting. Rumor has it that Spurlock actually found Osama Bin Laden.

The film’s director of photography told SlashFilm that Morgan “definitely got the holy grail.” Since the movie is about him hunting Osama, that would make him the holy grail… wouldn’t it? For now though, everyone around the production is keeping things locked down.

The film is supposed to debut in Park City at Sundance this year, and since tomorrow is the deadline for them to notify people who have received press credentials and I still haven’t heard anything, I guess I won’t be able to report back on it. I’m sure someone more important than us will. Whenever we all finally get around to seeing it, I can’t even begin to imagine the media madness this film will unleash if Morgan Spurlock actually found and hung out with Osama Bin Laden. It instantly raises a lot of important questions like… if mustachioed Morgan Spurlock can find him, don’t you have to assume the US government isn’t even trying?

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Sen. Vitter’s Wife Said She’d Cut Off His Penis, If He Were Caught Cheating

July 11, 2007

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As Washington is abuzz with the news that GOP Sen. David Vitter once used the “DC Madam’s” escort service, the ears of his wife, Wendy Vitter, must be ringing. In 2000, you see, Ms. Wendy was quoted in a news article focused on Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities.“I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary,” she told a reporter regarding whether she could forgive her husband if she learned he’d cheated as Hillary Clinton had done after Monica Lewinsky became a household name. “I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

According to the Washington Post (today at least), we guess she meant an apology? Unless, that is, Sen. Vitter was just talking to those escorts…

Rudolph W Giuliani and Bernard B Kerik

July 7, 2007

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Good story – pity about the propaganda
By Hans Durrer

In 1962, Konrad Kellen wrote in the introduction to Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes that Ellul designated “intellectuals as virtually the most vulnerable of all to modern propaganda. He listed three reasons: (1) they absorb the largest amount of second-hand, unverifiable information; (2) they feel a compelling need to have an opinion on every important issue of our time, and thus easily succumb to opinions offered to them by propaganda on all such indigestible pieces of information; (3) they consider themselves capable of judging for themselves.”

Needless to say, the likely victims of propaganda are often also
the unconscious producers of propaganda. Here’s an example that, not least for the sake of argument, equates journalists with intellectuals. On Sunday, April 8, 2007, the Washington Post published an article headlined “White House looked past alarms on Kerik” by staff writers John Solomon and Peter Baker. The article begins like this:

When former New York mayor Rudolph W Giuliani urged President George W Bush to make Bernard B Kerik the next secretary of homeland security, White House aides knew Kerik as the take-charge top cop from September 11, 2001. But it did not take them long to compile an extensive dossier of damaging information about the would-be cabinet officer.

They learned about questionable financial deals, an ethics violation, allegations of mismanagement and a top deputy prosecuted for corruption. Most disturbing, according to people close to the process, was Kerik’s friendship with a businessman who was linked to organized crime. The businessman had told federal authorities that Kerik received gifts, including $165,000 in apartment renovations, from a New Jersey family with alleged mafia ties.

The article describes in detail the financial deals, the initially positive reviews of the nomination by New York’s Democratic senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer and how, after new revelations, Kerik’s nomination eventually collapsed.

At first glance, it seems that this is simply good reporting. Who did what to whom and when and where and all the rest of it.

Moreover, it is well written and one comes away with the feeling of now knowing what there is to know about this case. So what is the problem? The problem is that the necessary questions were never asked. And because they were never asked, one feels at the end of the article that the system works well, because the one rotten apple was duly taken care of.

What do I mean by the necessary questions? This one for example: How was it possible that such a guy was heading the New York Police Department? To be fair, somebody must have asked at least a somewhat similar question, as Solomon and Baker report that

Giuliani told reporters that they had a right to question his judgment in putting Kerik in charge of the New York Police Department and recommending him to Bush. “I should have done a better job of investigating him, vetting him,” Giuliani said. “It’s my responsibility, and I’ve learned from it.”

It goes without saying that this is a rather poor statement. But worse, it was not followed up. I mean: Giuliani worked together with Kerik for many years, he is the godfather of the two youngest of Kerik’s children, Kerik sat on the board of Giuliani Capital Advisors – it is pretty obvious that they must know each other pretty well.

Moreover, according to the Washington Post, “Kerik rose up through the ranks of city government when Giuliani was mayor, serving as chief of both prisons and commissioner of police. He moved to Giuliani’s firm in 2002 and oversaw much of the firm’s security work.”

In other words Kerik, despite his numerous flaws that must have been obvious to everybody around him, was never regarded as unfit for his job. On the contrary: “He earned 30 medals for meritorious and heroic service, including the department’s Medal for Valor for his involvement in a gun battle in which his partner was shot and wounded in December 1997,” as Wikipedia reports.

Really good reporting would have not only questioned but scrutinized how it was possible that this man could have had such a career; really good reporting would have exposed the flaws of the system that allowed such a man to rise up through the ranks of city government; really good reporting would have never accepted Giuliani’s response – “I should have done a better job of investigating him, vetting him … It’s my responsibility, and I’ve learned from it” – but would have challenged him, for it is hard to believe that he did not know what kind of man Kerik is. And what exactly did Giuliani really learn from all this? Apart from quickly removing Kerik from the board of his firm, that is? How come journalists didn’t ask?

Flawed journalism then. Nothing extraordinary, happens every day. But what has this to do with propaganda? Journalism that almost exclusively concentrates on who did what to whom and when, etc, journalism that personalizes almost every issue, journalism that fails to investigate, analyze and expose the “How come? How is this possible?”, is no journalism at all, it is propaganda.

Hans Durrer has degrees in law, journalism studies, and applied linguistics, from universities in Switzerland, Wales and Australia. He has lived in Southeast Asia, and worked in Cuba, Southern Africa, Central America, Argentina, Brazil, China, Switzerland and Turkey. He is author of Ways of Perception: On Visual and Intercultural Communication (White Lotus Press, Bangkok, 2006).

(Copyright 2007 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Marijuana Odor Didn’t Justify Search Without a Warrant

March 11, 2007

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Marijuana Odor Didn’t Justify Search Without a Warrant

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The odor of burning marijuana didn’t justify a search of a central Utah trailer without a warrant, the Utah Supreme Court said Friday.

Police officers broke through the door of a trailer in Carbon County in April 2003 because they believed the suspects were eliminating evidence by smoking it. The court, however, said there was no sign that Bernadette Duran knew authorities were around.

“Most significantly, there is no indication that the law enforcement officers engaged in any effort, much less a reasonable one, to reconcile their … needs with the demands of personal privacy,” the court said in a 4-1 decision.

The Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Utah Court of Appeals. The case originated with a judge in 7th District Court in Price, who had refused to throw out evidence. Police seized guns and drugs.

“Oh, hallelujah,” Duran’s attorney, Samuel B. Bailey, said. “This is good news.”

Duran and three other defendants pleaded guilty to drug charges, although her conviction was conditional and thrown out after the appeals court declared the seizure illegal, Bailey said.

He had feared the Supreme Court would rule against Duran, giving police more authority and diminishing privacy rights.

The ruling “will change things,” Bailey predicted. “They pay attention, officers do. They read the case law and they know when they get overturned.”

The dissenter on Utah’s highest court was Associate Chief Justice Michael Wilkins, who said “this was not a close call” that would require a search warrant.

“Protecting the rights of citizens does not necessarily require the handcuffing of police,” he wrote.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office, which took the case to the Supreme Court, did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In the decision written by Justice Ronald Nehring, the majority expressed concern that police might feel empowered to enter a house to check if minors were drinking alcohol or search an 18-year-old for cigarettes, both without warrants.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Bechtel “cut and runs” or the rats are leaving the Bush sinking ship

November 5, 2006

Bechtel pulling out after 3 rough years of rebuilding work
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
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Bechtel Corp. went to Iraq three years ago to help rebuild a nation torn by war. Since then, 52 of its people have been killed and much of its work sabotaged as Iraq dissolved into insurgency and sectarian violence.

Now Bechtel is leaving.

The San Francisco engineering company’s last government contract to rebuild power, water and sewage plants across Iraq expired on Tuesday. Some employees remain to finish the paperwork, but essentially, the company’s job is done.

Bechtel’s contracts were part of an enormous U.S. effort to put Iraq back on its feet after decades of wars and sanctions. That rebuilding campaign, once touted as the Marshall Plan of modern times, was supposed to win the hearts of skeptical Iraqis by giving them clean water, dependable power, telephones that worked and modern sanitation. President Bush said he wanted the country’s infrastructure to be the very best in the Middle East.

But Bechtel — which charged into Iraq with American “can-do” fervor — found it tough to keep its engineers and workers alive, much less make progress in piecing Iraq back together.

“Did Iraq come out the way you hoped it would?” asked Cliff Mumm, Bechtel’s president for infrastructure work. “I would say, emphatically, no. And it’s heartbreaking.”

more

prediction: republicans maintain the house and senate (black box voting), bombs start to fly soon after

October 24, 2006

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Frailty, thy name is Tehran
By Spengler

Russia warned on Saturday against “any attempt to use the Security Council … to promote the idea of regime change” in Iran. On the same day, the USS Eisenhower carrier strike force entered the Persian Gulf, joining two other carrier groups already steaming off the Iranian coast. Two paraphrases of William Shakespeare occur to me: The Russian doth protest too much, and Frailty, thy name is Tehran.

It is silly to portray the United States as a declining imperial power. The US set out to stabilize Iraq, and instead plunged it into civil war, precisely as I predicted three years ago. [1] Suppose instead that the US had set out intentionally to plunge Iraq into civil war. How easy would that have been? Iraq is an empire in miniature, a multi-ethnic-and-confessional changeling created by French and British imperialists in their own image. Like Iran, where Persians comprise just half the population, and Syria, an ethnic and religious farrago ruled by an Alawi clique, Iraq suffers the centrifugal faults of empire without, however, enjoying the imperial advantage of rewarding one’s own people by oppressing others.more

How to talk to a Republican (Gay Old Pedophiles)

October 15, 2006

How it’s done:


“Basically a party of criminals and pedophiles.” That’s the national campaign, right there. No one is too stupid to understand this. A vote for Republicans is a vote for criminality and pedophilia, period. Pull the lever for your Republican candidate to proudly say “yes!” to corruption, idiotic wars, and NAMBLA. ShrillPAC endorses this kind of debate unreservedly. All the Republicans can do is change the subject – there’s literally nothing else they can do, and it doesn’t even work. Even the Democrats aren’t stupid enough to bungle this. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Drive it home. Let’s end this fucking nightmare already.