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The Emperor Doesn't Disclose: Why the Fight Against Fake News Continues

Like much news that's damaging to the Bush administration, the report came out on a Friday.

"Remixed War Propaganda" by Micah Ian WrightSince then, it's gotten little media attention -- just 41 mentions in U.S. newspapers and wire stories, according to a news database search on October 11. That's remarkably sparse coverage for a story showing that the U.S. government has been engaged in illegal propaganda aimed at its own citizens.

The Wave of the Future: From Tragedy to Far-Reaching Policy, in Less Than a Month

"Maybe something good can come from this hurricane," Senator Lindsey Graham (R - S.C.) told FOX News Sunday's Chris Wallace on September 18th.

Graham and Wallace were discussing the "torrent of federal spending" on relief and reconstruction projects in the Gulf coast states devastated by Hurricane Katrina that is "just exploding the deficit" (both Wallace's phrases). The Senator was advocating for budget cuts to balance the disaster spending, which is expected to total as much as $200 billion.

Jim Crow Propaganda


Jim Crow
The term "Jim Crow" was originally taken from a character performed in blackface by Thomas Rice, a pre-Civil War white actor who dressed in rags to portray a shabbily dressed, rural black man.

Last week I was invited to give a talk about free speech at Ferris State University in Michigan. Much to my pleasure, I discovered that one of the professors at Ferris is an old colleague, Dennis Ruzicka, who was a fellow reporter 20 years ago when we both worked for a small-town, daily newspaper in Wisconsin.


After the talk, Dennis showed me around the campus. One of our most fascinating stops was the "Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia" that has been assembled by sociology professor David Pilgrim. The Jim Crow Museum contains more than 2,000 racist artifacts, dating from pre-Civil War days to the present: cartoons, Sambo masks, Coon toys, Picaninny ashtrays, Ku Klux Klan literature, postcards with Black children portrayed as "alligator bait."

"All racial groups have been caricatured in this country, but none have been caricatured as often or in as many ways as have black Americans," Pilgrim writes. "Blacks have been portrayed in popular culture as pitiable exotics, cannibalistic savages, hypersexual deviants, childlike buffoons, obedient servants, self-loathing victims, and menaces to society. These anti-black depictions were routinely manifested in or on material objects: ashtrays, drinking glasses, banks, games, fishing lures, detergent boxes, and other everyday items. These objects, with racist representations, both reflected and shaped attitudes towards African Americans. Robbin Henderson, director of the Berkeley Art Center, said, 'derogatory imagery enables people to absorb stereotypes; which in turn allows them to ignore and condone injustice, discrimination, segregation, and racism.' She was right. Racist imagery is propaganda and that propaganda was used to support Jim Crow laws and customs."

Never Whoosh A Spook!

Non-violence training workshops I attended in the 1980s often featured, as a tension-breaker or wind-down game, a little exercise known as the whoosh.

For the uninitiated, a whoosh consists of one person standing in the centre of a circle of people holding hands. Starting from a low crouch, the circle slowly moves in with the pronunciation of whooooooosh building to a crescendo as the group converges, culminating with an enthusiastic jump. The person in the centre is then considered to have been whooshed.

If such exercises are still in non-violence training workshop manuals, maybe it's time a warning label was added: Never whoosh a spook!

A protest against the arrest and deportation of Scott ParkinWhy? This week the Australian government deported Houston-based peace and environmental activist Scott Parkin, after revoking his six-month visitor visa. No reason was given; for all we know, Scott whooshed some hapless, wet-behind-the-ears Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) spook sent to spy on one of the non-violence training sessions he was attending.

From a Lead to An Article in Two Days

I'd never heard of Safia Taleb al-Suhail, an Iraqi woman who George W. Bush praised during his February 2005 State of the Union address until I was sent an email link to an article in The Independent, a major UK newspaper. The article referred to her expressing concern about the impact of draft Iraqi constitution on women.

Safia Taleb al-Suhail"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened: we have lost all the gains we made over the past 30 years. It's a big disappointment. Human rights should not be linked to Islamic sharia law at all. They should be listed separately in the constitution," she complained to Andrew Buncombe of The Independent.

As it was early morning and I had a lot of e-mails to get through, there was no time to dig any further myself. So I posted it to the talk page of a regular SourceWatch contributor, Artificial Intelligence (AI). Within two days AI has compiled an article reviewing Safia Taleb al-Suhail's background, her role in Iraqi politics and a listing of links to online articles by and about her over the last three years. Hugh Manatee found a photo that could be added in too. It is a small illustration of how a wiki-based project like SourceWatch facilitates collaborative research and writing.

The Cows Have Come Home

Note: This article was written for CorpWatch, and also appears on their website.

Earlier this summer in Minnesota, the well-dressed woman walked briskly across the front of the red brick classroom and up to the microphone. The moderator smiled and nodded in her direction. Looking down at her notes, she began. "Good afternoon. Thanks for holding this session. And while we are here in this room discussing this important issue, 200 people in Gering, Nebraska, are looking for new jobs. Their packing plant closed this week because they could not source enough cattle due to the embargo."

Pat Robertson & SourceWatch

There's never a quiet day at SourceWatch, our open-source encyclopedia of the people, organizations and issues shaping the public agenda. Some days, articles that have been patiently compiled by our volunteer writers over months, are suddenly in demand.

Pat Robertson
Pat Robertson

A case in point is the article on the founder of the Christian Coalition of America, Pat Robertson, who proposed in a broadcast on his 700 Club program that covert American agents should assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. "We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability," Associated Press quoted Robertson stating. Over the last eighteen months a number of regular contributors have compiled a comprehensive listing of online news stories on Robertson spanning the last decade. Others have started profiles on the various organisations Robertson is involved in.

Meanwhile Cindy Sheehan's vigil outside George W. Bush's ranch has put a spotlight on the cost of the war in Iraq. In a column last week for O'Dwyer's PR Daily, Kevin McCauley, contrasted Sheehan's vigil in the Texas heat with Bush remaining "cocooned in Crawford, sticking to the script of appearing only before supporters and people in the Administration."

In the last week over eighty new articles have been started as well as numerous additions to existing pages.


ABA's School Vending Policy Fizzes On Obesity Prevention

American Beverage Association logoThe American Beverage Association scored PR points recently when they unveiled a new voluntary "school vending policy." The trade association for soft drink manufacturers says it is encouraging beverage producers and school districts to provide "lower-calorie and/or nutritious beverages" to schools and limit the availability of soft drinks in schools. ABA's announcement snagged positive news stories across the country, but public health advocates questioned the group's commitment to preventing childhood obesity.


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