GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR COUNTRY!!!!!

Last week, U.S. and Iraqi officials said the two sides agreed tentatively to a schedule that includes a broad pullout of combat troops by the end of 2011 with the possibility that a residual U.S. force might stay behind to continue training and advising Iraqi security services.

But al-Maliki’s remarks indicated his government was not satisfied with that arrangement and wants all foreign troops gone by the end of 2011.

Iraqi leader insists foreign soldiers must go – Yahoo! News.

——

Sorry for the harsh paraphrase there, but I wanted to make it clear to my fellow Americans what the Iraqis think our foreign policy should be regarding their domestic policy.

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Iran, CNN, Fearmongering, and Nukes. Lots and Lots of Nukes

This was going to start off as a post about Iran’s recent test firing of some missiles.

It starts with the CNN story of the firing, was going to mention the US response to the 40-year anniversary of the ABM treaty (from a couple weeks ago) and was going to finish with a mention that Iran had photoshopped one of their released “proof” photos to add a missile.

My main point was going to be that it was simple dick-waving. I was going to mention during the ABM article dissection that Israel (which is/was mentioned in the original CNN article) didn’t sign it and has nukes and isn’t afraid to use them in defense. So, all in all, it was a stalemate and dick-waving. Not much to see here.

Then I reloaded the CNN article.

A subtext of a lot of my media coverage over the last, oh, 10 years or so, has been their penchant of blood and guts. They have a desire to forment war, at least a little bit. I’m not alleging anything more nefarious here than news sells eyeballs. So helping the news along isn’t beyond the pale, generally. There is an incentive.

It’s sometimes hard to find. Sometimes easy. This article is now going to include all of that stuff before, but since there are now two (2) different CNN articles, both with quite different tones, I’ll point that out as well.

See if you can spot the difference. These are screenshots. I’ll try and archive the originals as well. Right now this proof only exists in the memory of my computer and some others out there that have been sitting on this story for a couple weeks.

Here is the original article.

This was how the article originally appeared

This was how the article originally appeared

[full size]

Things to note here

Title:
Iran test fires missiles in riposte to U.S., Israel

Bullet Points:

  • Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards test fire nine long and medium range missiles
  • Officials say war games are in response to U.S. and Israeli threats
  • Drill conducted in the Persian Gulf and the strategic Strait of Hormouz

Paragraph 2 and 3:The Islamic Republic News Agency and Press TV reported that the naval forces of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Wednesday test-fired a Shahab-3 missile during war games in the Persian Gulf.

The exercises come a month after Israel conducted a military drill in the eastern Mediterranean involving dozens of warplanes, and the latest Iranian activities prompted concern from Israel and condemnation from the United States.

So in this version we have a pretty simple action/reaction narrative going (bolded). We do something, they do something, etc. etc.

Now on to the updated version. This one is much punchier.

How the article looked after the update.

How the article looked after the update.

[full size]

Things to note here

Title:
Iran Gen.: Our finger is always on the trigger

Bullet Points:

  • Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards test fire long and medium range missiles
  • NEW: Iranian general: “Our finger is always on the trigger”
  • NEW: U.S.: Iran is “as serious… a problem as any we face today
  • Missile tests were part of Iranians war games in the Persian Gulf

Paragraph 2 and 3:

“We want to tell the world that those who conduct their foreign policy by using the language of threat against Iran have to know that our finger is always on the trigger and we have hundreds and even thousands of missiles ready to be fired against predetermined targets,” Gen. Hossein Salami, commander of the Revolutionary Guard ground forces, said on state TV.

We will chase the enemies on the ground and in the sky and we are able react strongly to enemy’s threats in shortest possible time.”

So here we have a slightly different narrative (bolded).

Note how any mention of outside influence is relegated to a minor point of the story. This is how you war-monger in print.

————-

The articles then move a bit towards each other in content. With the updated one including the following.

There are worldwide worries that Israel, which is concerned by Iran’s plans, is pondering a unilateral strike.

Israel’s recent aerial military exercise was in part an effort to send a message that it has the capability to attack Iran’s nuclear program.

The distance involved in the exercise was roughly the same as would be involved in a possible strike on the Iranian nuclear fuel plant at Natanz, a U.S. military official said.

In 1981, Israel attacked a nuclear facility in Iraq. Israel also struck a site in Syria that some say was a nuclear reactor under construction.

One Israeli Cabinet member, Shaul Mofaz, recently said it “will attack” Iran if the nuclear program was not halted.

So that’s where we are there. This is a confrontation between Israel (not a signatory of the NPT (Nucular [sic] Non-Proliferation Treaty) and has nukes) and Iran (signatory of the NPT and has a large number conventional missiles).

So here’s how we marked the 40 year anniversary of a treaty meant to end the spread of such things…

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States, marking the 40th anniversary of the fraying nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), said on Tuesday it was concerned that countries like Iran had “violated” the pact.

Garold Larson, deputy U.S. ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, also urged the NPT’s near-global membership to deter violators from withdrawing from the treaty in the future.

Speaking to a U.N. seminar in Geneva celebrating the 40th anniversary of the NPT, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, Larson said the past two decades had witnessed the proliferation and misuse of nuclear technology.

“The United States remains very concerned that parties like Iran have violated their commitments and thereby undermined the treaty,” he said.

Larson did not refer to U.S. intelligence findings that Syria covertly tried to build an atomic reactor with North Korean help at a site bombed by Israel last year. Syria denies the accusations.

Investigators from the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency said after a four-day visit to Syria last week that they had examined the site but that more checks were needed.

Unlike Syria, Israel has not signed the NPT. It is widely believed to have the only nuclear arsenal in the Middle East.

So, we take a swipe at one group and look the other way from the other

And as we look over the horizon half-way around the world…we see this…

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A photo of Iranian missiles being test-fired yesterday was “apparently digitally altered to show four missiles rising into the air instead of three,” according to Agence France-Presse.

The image, which the wire service says it obtained from a website controlled by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, appeared in newspapers and blogs across the world, including USA TODAY and On Deadline.

The Lede blog says “the second missile from the right appears to be the sum of two other missiles in the image.”

[full post]

So the general idea here is that we are supposed to be deathly afraid, so afraid that we’ll allow for another “pre-emptive” attack, on Iran because of their fearsome arsenal.

Which has been photoshopped to look scarier.

Riiight.

I spent the vast majority of my life 15-minutes away from being vaporized by Crazy Ivan’s nukes launched from super-secret subs and tropical paradii.

Iranian editing skills don’t scare me. In the slightest.

Sign of the Times

The Joys of the Early 21st Century

The Joys of the Early 21st Century

That’s for the upper end of the spectrum.  The lower end looks more like this

Poor people in the United States are increasingly at risk from tropical diseases such as dengue fever and Chagas disease, says a new report.

Researchers blame climate change and increasing poverty for the increased spread of these infectious illnesses.

The study warns that while these diseases are not always fatal, they are severely debilitating.

The Media’s Campaign

West Wing: The Media’s Mini-Truths – International – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News

A journalist’s twin points of references should be the real and the important. But for months the focus of the election coverage was on trivia. Every insignificant detail got blown out of proportion, with every chipmunk becoming a Godzilla. According to a report by the Project for Excellence in Journalism, over 60 percent of election coverage by the US media has been focused on campaign strategies, tactics or personalities — but not on actual political content.

 

Reporters focused the most attention on such pressing questions as whether Barack Obama was wearing an American flag lapel pin, whether John McCain had a mistress eight years ago or whether former first lady Hillary Clinton was incorrectly recalling her 1996 trip to Bosnia.

Clinton claimed to recall hearing sniper fire as her plane landed in Bosnia. In fact, as archive TV footage later showed, Clinton was actually greeted by a young girl who recited a poem on the tarmac. That may have been embarrassing for Hillary Clinton, but it is insignificant for voters.

Even the eccentric pastor from Obama’s church, Jeremiah Wright, is not worth the fuss. “God damn America,” he preached. So what? The priest at my Catholic church was a reactionary, while my class teacher was a communist. Perhaps the mad and the blind to the right and the left of our path through life are there simply to show us where the middle way is.

Solid criticism from the Continent on the U.S. Presidential Campaign.  Pretty striaghtforward criticism of the media focusing on the sizzle and not the steak.  When the majority of political coverage involved how the pundits feel about the candidates, rather than what those candidates themselves stand for, it’s not a good thing, particularly.

This is more symptomatic of how the U.S. public has been trained to consume media than anythning else, IMHO.  When the sizzle gets ratings and the steak makes people change the channel, you can bet your bottom dollar it’s the sizzle that gets the coverage.

It’s Catching Up with Us

Paulson Says US Economy Has ‘Turned Down Sharply’ – Economy * US * News * Story – CNBC.com

“There is no doubt we’re having a tough quarter, that the economy has turned down sharply,” Paulson said.

But he said a swoon in the housing sector, which was largely to blame for the rough patch, was necessary.

“We need to have this correction. It’s not pleasant, but we need to have it,” Paulson said in reference to declining U.S. house prices and homebuilding.

This is going to be an interesting year or 5.

Zbig on the Way Out of Iraq

The Smart Way Out of a Foolish War – washingtonpost.com

The case for U.S. disengagement from combat is compelling in its own right. But it must be matched by a comprehensive political and diplomatic effort to mitigate the destabilizing regional consequences of a war that the outgoing Bush administration started deliberately, justified demagogically and waged badly. (I write, of course, as a Democrat; while I prefer Sen. Barack Obama, I speak here for myself.)

The contrast between the Democratic argument for ending the war and the Republican argument for continuing is sharp and dramatic. The case for terminating the war is based on its prohibitive and tangible costs, while the case for “staying the course” draws heavily on shadowy fears of the unknown and relies on worst-case scenarios. President Bush‘s and Sen. John McCain’s forecasts of regional catastrophe are quite reminiscent of the predictions of “falling dominoes” that were used to justify continued U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Neither has provided any real evidence that ending the war would mean disaster, but their fear-mongering makes prolonging it easier.

There’s some dang good reasoning in the article.  Almost robot like in his precision.  This is how it should be done.

Muslim Jew on U.S. Race Relations

Asia Times Online :: Asian News, Business and Economy.

Black and white and barely read at all
By Muhammad CohenLast week, Senator Barack Obama gave the most important speech on race in America since Martin Luther King shared his dream 45 years ago. But instead of focusing on Obama’s thoughtful words, Americans seem more intent on the sayings of the preacher Obama denounced.

In speaking fundamental truths about black and white under the stars and stripes, Obama’s speech challenged Americans to prove we want intelligent debate on key issues. So far, America is failing that test as badly as it has so many racial trials, preferring simple sound bites that reduce a vivid, vibrant society to a different kind of black and white

Now, after eight years of Reagan’s political heir George W Bush and his simple but wrong answers leaving a legacy of crises at home and abroad, you’d think America would be ready to elevate the degree of difficulty. Reactions to Obama’s speech indicate otherwise. Rather than considering the points he makes about race relations – or, yikes, reading the speech – reactions center around whether the Illinois senator sufficiently distanced himself from Wright.

It might be that Americans can’t handle complexities. Don’t underestimate the capacity of voters to confuse and misunderstand. A poll last week showed most Americans oppose Republican nominee-in-waiting John McCain’s policy prescriptions for Iraq, yet they say he’d do the best job on the issue as president.

But the reaction to Obama and his speech goes beyond seeking simple answers. It’s about avoiding the honest racial introspection he’s asking us to undertake. Despite Obama’s urging to the contrary, Americans would indeed prefer “to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality”. Make no mistake, race is a key factor in reactions to and the coverage of Obama’s speech.

Sorry, but I just think it’s hilarious that “Muhammad Cohen” wrote this outstanding article on the black/white thing in America.  Good reading.  Sad story.