Monday, January 25, 2016

A EULOGY FOR AL JAZEERA AMERICA


By Ronald T. Fox 


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Al Jazeera America, the cable network that has been repeatedly recognized for excellence in journalism by industry peers, I wrote so glowingly about back in November (see: Investigative Journalism in America: Rest in Peace) announced on January 6 that it will be shutting down by the end of April.  The only cable news option in the US that offered thoughtful, in-depth, contextual journalism from an international rather than an American-focused perspective, will be gone.  I guess it had to be. Serious journalism is a poor fit in the highly competitive, profit-driven US media marketplace.

With the US also lacking an extensive national public news option not captive to profit, similar to, say, the BBC, Agence France-Presse or Sveriges Television (Sweden), Americans thirsting for serious global news coverage will now have to turn exclusively to web sources.  (I understand public networks have their issues, but I would take any of the above listed offerings over the private networks or limited public broadcasting we have in the United States.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

IMAGES OF A DESTROYED RAMADI

By Ronald T. Fox


The back-slapping and self-congratulation has been deafening: with assistance from American special operation forces and air support, Iraqi military forces retook the city of Ramadi from the Islamic State, which had controlled it since May. This was good news for most Americans, even if 600 air strikes from the US-led coalition, along with destruction caused by retreating ISIS booby-traps, left 80% of the city destroyed.  Chalk up one more "liberated” city with an uncertain future. Up next, Fallujah, followed by Mosul and then Raqqa, the Syrian "capital" of the Islamic State.

Ramadi is yet another example of the scorched-earth reality that passes for victory on the ground in Iraq and Syria. Call me na├»ve; I just can’t seem to figure out how the utter destruction of towns serves any long-term purpose for achieving stability and order, let alone political and economic viability.   Military victories can be won, but the political challenge of reconstruction, meeting humanitarian needs, and reconciling Sunni-Shiite animosities remain illusive, if not intractable.  When will we learn that military gains must have a political program to back them up?

Previously I posted images of Kobani, Syria, which was similarly “liberated.” Below are some images of Ramadi.  Draw your own conclusions.

Monday, January 4, 2016

DECEMBER 2015 BONEHEAD ABSURDITY OF THE MONTH


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1. Colorado State Republican Representative JoAnn Windholz. Windholz issued a statement on the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood attack that left 3 dead and 9 wounded last week. The Colorado Independent published her jaw-dropping statement:​
 
“The freedoms we enjoy in the United States include those that were made up to fit the audience and unsubstantiated numerical support, specifically the right to an abortion. When a violent act happens at a Planned Parenthood (pph) facility (most recent in Colorado Springs) the left goes on “auto-pilot” blaming everyone in sight when they should be looking in a mirror. Free Speech has brought to light the insidious selling of baby body parts (PPH has no shame). These facts and overall mission of the abortion industry would easily send anyone over the hill who wasn’t rational.”
 
Oh, but wait—there’s more. Rep. Windholz was just getting started:
 
“Violence is never the answer, but we must start pointing out who is the real culprit. The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves. Violence begets violence. So Planned Parenthood: YOU STOP THE VIOLENCE INSIDE YOUR WALLS.”
 
Blaming an organization that provides vital legal and medical services to women, including abortions (3 % of its funding), and circulating false information about what PPH does, has become the stock in trade for far-right conservatives. They have no qualms about making up facts to push their sick notions. Worse, though, are the gullible people who believe their lies.
 
Windholz won her seat in 2014 by only 106 votes. Let us hope her outrageous statement will seal her electoral doom.  The full statement from Rep. Windholz can be read at the Colorado Independent.