Tuesday, July 25, 2006

FAIR interviews Lebanese scholar - listen to MP3

FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) interviewd a Lebanese born scholar and author, to try to show the omissions and inaccuracies in the US nedia's coverage of the Israel/ Lebanon conflict.

I thought the interview was well done and very informative. Fawaz Gerges was in Beirut when the bombing began on an annual vacation to visit family.

Here's what he had to say: click here

I'll let the interview speak for itself.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

FAIR challenges media coverage of Lebanon crisis

FAIR, an organization comprised of journalists, whose organization exposes inaccuracies in major news stories, free speech violations, and interference by corporate media into balanced reporting, has targeted the Lebanese crisis as its latest example of unbalanced news.

Accusing corporate media outlets of twisting facts to run interference for "Israel's disproportionate response" to Hizbollah's kidnapping, they are encouraging people to listen to their news program COUNTERSPIN which broadcasts in Chicago on WLUW Wednesday's at 10 am.

I too, have noticed some omissions as well as inappropriate commentary by news anchors. MSNBC was giving some background on the conflict and mentioning conditions in various towns in Israel. When the anchor mentioned Bethlehem, the off camera co-anchor could be heard saying "Where Jesus was born", mentioning Nazareth she said "Where Joseph and Mary lived." Are these comments truly appropriate for a major news organization, shouldn't the bible lesson be left to the 700 Club?

Though I think most organizations are being fair, I did notice one huge ommission that truly shows the difference in the military capabilities of Israel and Hizballah. Only one news organization reported that the Katayusha rocket is a 50 pound bomb. As we all know, the American made bombs dropped from the F-14's the Israeli air force flies are 500 pound bombs. There is a huge difference in the destructive capability of these two armaments. The 50 pound rocket will blow a hole in the side of a building, the 500 pound bomb will obliterate the block and leave a crater reminiscent of the moon.

Since the conflict began, 362 Lebanese civilians have been killed compared to 14 Isreali civilians. 8 Canadian civilians have been been killed by the Israelis, 4 Brazilians by the Israelis. As for the military. 20 Israeli soldiers have been killed and 40 Lebanese soldiers, thougfhthey are not presently involved in the conflict. Their brracks were bombed by the Israeli air force, while Israel says they want the Lebanese army to guard the Blue Line. Hard to do when you're dead. Do they really mean that? 16 Hizballah militants have been killed. Over 1,000,00 Lebanese civilians have been displaced which is 25% of their population.

Israel has dropped approximately 10,000 bombs (500 pound) compared to Hizballah's approximately 1000 bombs (50 pounds). Do the math. Israel has dropped 500,000 pounds of bombs on Lebanon compared to Hizballah's 10,000 pounds.

Neither side is right. I do not defend one or the other. But the reponse is disproportionate, the destruction in Lebanon was of mostly civilian infrastructure, yet the Israelis told Koffi Annan (reported on Larry King last night) they would try not to destroy the civilan infrastructure. By the time they made this agreement, most of it was already destroyed.

If you want to find out from people who are there, go to Blogging Beirut or From Israel to Lebanon

For more news stories go toFAIR

Let's hope they resolve this conflict soon, before anymore loss of life.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Squad car crashes into tree, but only after being rammed by an SUV

On Friday NBC reported a car crash involving a 24th District police squad car. They reported there was a crash, officers were injured, and basically nothing more. My first question was - how did they do that? As their story is copyrighted material and cannot be republished without permission, I will provide the link to the original story. The highlight is in red. NBC story

A Chicago Police Department squad car crashed into a tree Friday in Rogers Park, injuring two officers inside and two other people.

Here is what I found out about the crash. It took 10 minutes.

On Friday afternoon a 24th District police car was struck near the intersection of Campbell and Rosemont. The impact of the crash sent the squad car careening into a tree and a nearby house.

Police sources say the accident occurred when a 27 year old woman, driving a Chevy Suburban at a high rate of speed, blew the stop sign and crashed into the driver’s side of the police car.

The two officers, both in serious condition were transported to area hospitals. They are expected to recover.

The owner of the vehicle, who was riding in the passenger’s seat, told police they were traveling at a high rate of speed because someone he knew to be a Latin King pointed a gun at them from another vehicle. He recognized one and gave police his name.

Though the story may be true, the owner was given a ticket for letting an unauthorized person drive his car. The driver did not have a driver’s license.

She was cited for failure to stop at a stop sign, failure to reduce speed at an intersection, and failure to properly restrain her 3 year old child who was in the back seat protected only by a seat belt. The child was uninjured.

I felt a lot better about the story after I found out what happened. Not only did it make more sense, but it reveals an important lesson to be be learned.

Don't let other people drive your car, especially if they don't have a driver's license and insurance. This guy's financial future is gone. Between the squad car, the owner of the house that was damaged as well as his own personal vehicle, this guy may as well file for bankruptcy now.

The other issue it brings up is just how vulnerable are we to being threatened with people who have weapons in their cars. Did they randomly threaten this guy, was it a personal beef, or was he also in a gang?

I think NBC, by not waiting to get the whole story, blew a much better one.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Crook County - third world elections?

Looking back over the last few months since President Stroger's incapacitating stroke I sometimes wonder where I am. Nearly everyday I read yet another plan for the filling of his vacant positions and I feel as though I've been transported into a third world country or a fledgling democracy, struggling to overcome a past entrenched in nepotism. Sometimes I think we should call in the U.N. election monitors because the maneuvering I am seeing is far from democratic.

Since the primary, and the attending speculation about Stroger's ability to return to work, I have become increasingly irritated by the proclamations from the Democratic Committeeman that they have the authority to choose his replacement, and the press' attendant acceptance of these statements. Not believing that the Illinois Legislature would pass a statute that says the Democratic Committee can fill any and all vacancies and can slide their candidate into a slot on the ballot, I looked up the law.

According to Illinois Compiled statute 55 ILCS 5/2﷓6001, "If a vacancy occurs in the office of a commissioner from the city of Chicago, the remaining commissioners from the city of Chicago shall appoint a suitable person from the city of Chicago to fill the vacancy." So why haven't they complied with Illinois law? And where is the Attorney General on this one? Can't she sit down and explain it to them if they don't understand?

Then there is the presidential vacancy. Again, Illinois law is very clear on the handling of this event. According to Illinois Statute 55 ILCS 5/2﷓6003, "Vacancy in office of president. In case of the death, resignation, removal from office or other inability to act of the president so elected.... If less than two years and sixty days of the unexpired term remain, the board of commissioners shall elect one of their number to serve the unexpired term of the president." This also is pretty clear-cut, but you wouldn't know it reading the press reports.

The last bit of county business is the empty slot on the ballot. Illinois law requires that the board president be elected directly by the people. Stroger was. But the Democratic Committee wants to slide someone else in the slot for the general election, someone who didn't even run in the primary, someone who showed no interest in the job whatsoever until the current president was deemed unable to serve out his term. Their choice for the general election wasn't elected by the people; he didn't even run.

It would seem that if the machine wants Todd Stroger to be County Board President, fulfilling the wishes of his father, they should call for a special election and slate him. If they don't want a special election, they must put up the Democrat who came in second in the primary who did receive the votes of the people of Cook County. That's about as directly elected as we're going to get.

Ignoring the will of the people and sliding your own candidate into the slot on the ballot denies the people of Cook County the ability to choose the individual that will control a $3 billion budget. It does not allow for a direct election, which violates Illinois law. Can we have a ruling by the Attorney General or is she, too, beholden to the party that slated her?

The voters of Cook County, contrary to press speculation, are outraged. To express our outrage, we have put a letter out, addressed to commissioners who have email addresses and other elected officials, expressing our displeasure, and our view of how the succession should take place. Though news of this has been sent to columnists such as Mary Mitchell and Carol Marin, no one, as yet, has chosen to publicize it.

The link, should you choose to participate, is http://citizenspeak.org/node/913. And I want to thank the press for their complicity in reinforcing the notion that the voters don't care when you have been informed that we do, and congratulate you on your inability to read the applicable statutes which would have allowed you to question the participants in this travesty intelligently. Your silence and willingness to accept what you're being told speaks volumes about the absence of the press in protecting our democracy. I wasn't aware sheep could type. Kool-Aid anyone?

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Stroger vacancy - voice your opinion

If you are sick of business as usual in Cook County, stop by Citzenspeak where you can sign a letter to the Cook County commissioners which delineates what some voters of Cook County believe is the proper procedure for filling Stroger's presidential vacancy as well as his place on the ballot.

Click on the attached link, if you agree with the statement, sign your name. Your letter will be forwarded to the board. I signed it and received a reply from Mr. Silvestri on the board. I appreciated the fac that he took the time out to contact a concerned voter who can't vote for him.

So here's the link......