View from the Loft 

war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...


Saturday, July 05, 2003

Must-Read: Fisk and Pilger on Journalists' Self-Censorship

Australian John Pilger says the three main dangers facing the world are "silence, betrayal, and power," and that journalists contribute to silence. Control of the media by so few corporations poses a threat to our ability to get honest information.

Fisk sees the most underreported story in Iraq as DU and its risks. He says, "An official American military document states that DU dust can indeed be spread in battles and lead to serious illness in humans, but this is not reported." Journalists didn't find stories of rising cancer and birth-defect rates as worthy of report. And he points out,
”Many more people have died so far in the war against terrorism than on September 11 2001,” Fisk says. ”That is the story of our time, and very few are writing it.”

Twenty thousand people have died just in the Afghanistan war, seven times more than on September 11, Fisk says. This is just one example of the ”great power of silence that is threatening to dominate us all.”

(Apparently, killing tens of thousands of civilians as a payback for three thousand deaths on September 11, 2001, is justifiable in the eyes of the United States. After all, those dead aren't Americans.)

Both censorship and self-censorship exist to an alarming degree among the U.S. media. For a disgusting example of the latter, read this.

Shape of Things to Come?

Let's hope not. But it seems to me that this sort of thing could happen in Iraq, especially after the various ethnic and religious groups are no longer united by their active opposition to the United States presence in their country:

47 Pakistanis Die in Attack on Shiite Rites
The mass killing, the first sectarian strike here to use a suicide bomber, appeared to be an effort to ignite a cycle of violence between Sunnis and Shiites and destabilize the country, the officials said.

Those Wacky Canadians Strike Again!

Golly, those Canadians! Relaxing the marijuana laws and declaring homosexual marriages to be legal wasn't enough for them--now swinging has been found legal as well.

"Canadian society will tolerate swingers clubs, as long as the sexual acts that take place in those clubs, take place in private," Judge Denis Boisvert said in his ruling. He warned, however, that "if the sexual acts take place in public, even among consenting adults, that is no longer swinging, but an orgy. And Canadians do not tolerate orgies or other Canadians participating in orgies."

You gotta have some standards, I guess.

Some interesting lists:

War on terror: the numbers -- The "war on terror" really hasn't accomplished much, nor has the government taken threats seriously enough that it's willing to spend the necessary money to make the country safer. I continue to believe that a Dem candidate could effectively target Bush's lackluster performance on security issues and pose a real challenge to the conventional wisdom that Republicans are better on matters of national security.

Timeline of U.S. losses in Iraq -- I question the accuracy of the numbers, as I've read that 60+ soldiers have died since Bush's proclamation of victory on May 1, but it's informative nonetheless.

Iraq Body Count -- IBC reports that there are now 15 different projects attempting to count civilians killed in the war against Iraq. The projects "reinforce rather than contradict one another and provide converging evidence that current estimates putting the number of civilians killed at significantly above 5,000 are well-founded." I keep reading a figure of around 3,000 in the mainstream media and don't understand where that figure is coming from, although it isn't surprising that the mainstream media would low-ball it.

The Good Old Summertime

As expected, I haven't had much time to blog. Most of my time has been spent outdoors, either working in the garden(s) or relaxing on the porch or under the oak tree. I'm also reading Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin when I get a few minutes.

The weather has been uniformly hot and sunny. Yesterday a storm system passed us by after raising our hopes for rain. A few miles south of us, the lucky farmers got over an inch of rain, but here we had the merest few drops spatter against our windows. The storms hit south and west of us, passed around us, and traveled east, leaving our drought in place. James has been hauling water all over the property trying to keep veggies, trees, and fruits alive, when he'd much rather be doing something a bit showier. He was in a foul mood yesterday, complaining, "I've been working my ass off and I have nothing to show for it!" Poor guy--a victim of the Protestant work ethic, agnostic though he is. Thank heaven I am able to take a more Sherry Bobbins (remember that Simpsons episode?) attitude and sing the refrain, "Just do a half-assed jo-o-o-b."

In any case, I reminded him that by keeping the trees alive, he would indeed have something to show for it. Keeping the trees alive (we just planted them this year) involves hauling a huge plastic tank around on the trailer and letting gravity do its work. It took him some time just to find the plumbing fittings and get them all in place so he could attach the hoses. Then to top it all off, the tractor needed repairing. Right after James replaced the bearings in one of the wheels, the tachometer stopped working, causing immense frustration and lots of expletives.

Just moving the soaker hoses from one garden to the next, then out to the vineyard, then to certain areas of the lawn, has been a mighty effort. We have about 200' or more of hose and it's no simple task to move it from place to place. So you can see why we shook our heads in dismay and disbelief when the storms predicted for yesterday came to nought.

Last night the fireworks around here were quite something, and I'm talking about just the private displays. People around here must have spent small fortunes purchasing illegal fireworks! Some of them were huge--the palm trees and so on that you see at shows. And we also had a magnificent after-dark build-up of clouds that eventually produced impressive cloud-to-cloud lightning. The towering cumulus was lit at the very top by the rays of the sun, which was well below the horizon by then. Amazing to see the bright white at the top of those mountainous clouds when the rest of the landscape was dark. But no rain came of it.

Our Independence Day celebration will take place today as we relax at my brother-in-law's with family and friends. Yay! We get to have some fun!

Right after I work in the garden, get some herbs drying, and put together the food I'm taking, and right after J makes a few little repairs to the balcony so we can begin painting it tomorrow. And oh yeah, moving the hoses and watering ...

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Bloggus Interruptus

Blogging will be very erratic, if not non-existent, over the next couple of weeks. My spouse will be on "vacation," if two weeks of intense work around the house and property can be called that, and we have lots of projects planned. We have much to do to get ready for the annual family reunion, which we're hosting this year. This is a busy time for us even without a family reunion on the horizon, what with the gardens to keep in shape and so on.

But I hope you'll check back here from time to time, because I'm sure to snatch a few moments here and there. And the bizarro world of BushCo just won't let a blogger get any rest. Stay tuned.

This page is powered by Blogger.