April 21, 2004

this one is on the house this one is better than ever

* The Guardian article discussing the Pentagon's war on Al-Jazeera concludes:

"Sami al-Haj, an al-Jazeera cameraman seized in Afghanistan, remains detained in Guantánamo Bay to this day, and al-Jazeera's journalists in the west have been singled out. After attending the European social forum in Paris, I myself was detained for an hour by British special branch officers at Waterloo station. The questioning focused on my employer. The officers also wanted information about other al-Jazeera journalists in Paris and London, and asked if I would speak to someone in their office on a regular basis about my work contacts. I declined both requests.

"The targeting of al-Jazeera is all the more remarkable, given that it is the only Arab TV network to routinely offer Israeli, US and British officials a platform to argue their case. The Israeli cabinet minister Gideon Ezra famously told the Jerusalem Post: 'I wish all Arab media were like al-Jazeera.' Kenton Keith, the former US ambassador to Qatar, commented: 'You have to be a supporter of al-Jazeera, even if you have to hold your nose sometimes.'

"Al-Jazeera has a track record of honest and accurate reporting, and has maintained a principled pluralism in the face of brutal and authoritarian regimes within the region, and increasingly from those without. This is why it has been vilified, criminalised and bombed. It is also why it should be defended by those who genuinely believe that successful societies depend upon an independent media."

* Things Fall Apart. excerpt:

"Watching the commission hearings and especially listening to George W. Bush's utterly disastrous press conference last Tuesday, I personally have gotten a completely different picture about what left us vulnerable to a massive terrorist attack on American soil. The fact that 9/11 happened had nothing to do with 'the wall,' or with pesky legal restrictions put on the FBI and the CIA, or with the fact that we were not 'on a war footing,' whatever that really means. What we need is not a new and improved PATRIOT Act. What we need is a president.

"Unfortunately I will never make it into the White House press pool. But had I been there on Tuesday night, I know what my question would have been:

"'Mr. President, could you tell us all who's actually running this country? Because it can't possibly be you.'

"Because it can't be. Based on his performance last Tuesday I wouldn't hire him to manage a McDonald's, let alone the entire nation. Some of the journalists who were there apparently shared this opinion to some extent; at any rate, they pointed out that Bush's 'answers' were almost always nonresponsive and by and large consisted of reformulations of the 'stay the course' rhetoric he had trotted out earlier in his 17-minute opening statement.

They have generally not tried to convey something that was obvious to anyone who tuned in, which is that as nonsensical as Bush's words were - just reading the transcript would make your head bleed - his delivery was even worse. Bush went from halting and wooden to aggressive and angry, with a lot of silences, pauses, and meaningless babble in between. Perhaps the lowest point came when he was asked what he would say was his biggest mistake since 9/11/01. There was silence for several seconds as Bush racked what he calls his brain for an answer, and what he finally said was, 'I wish you'd have given me this written question ahead of time so I could plan for it.'

"For once, no doubt, he was telling the truth."

* "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed." - President Dwight D. Eisenhower - April 16, 1953


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