Afghanistan

An insiders guide to reporting on Israel/Gaza conflict

Journalists over looking Gaza from Sderot   Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Journalists over looking Gaza from Sderot Photo/ Cam Slater, Whaleoil Media

Tablet has an essay about the media manipulations in reporting the Israel/Gaza conflict.

It is by  Matti Friedman who is a former AP correspondent who explains how and why reporters get Israel so wrong, and why it matters. What she writes echoes what I saw in Israel.

The lasting importance of this summer’s war, I believe, doesn’t lie in the war itself. It lies instead in the way the war has been described and responded to abroad, and the way this has laid bare the resurgence of an old, twisted pattern of thought and its migration from the margins to the mainstream of Western discourse—namely, a hostile obsession with Jews. The key to understanding this resurgence is not to be found among jihadi webmasters, basement conspiracy theorists, or radical activists. It is instead to be found first among the educated and respectable people who populate the international news industry; decent people, many of them, and some of them my former colleagues.

While global mania about Israeli actions has come to be taken for granted, it is actually the result of decisions made by individual human beings in positions of responsibility—in this case, journalists and editors. The world is not responding to events in this country, but rather to the description of these events by news organizations. The key to understanding the strange nature of the response is thus to be found in the practice of journalism, and specifically in a severe malfunction that is occurring in that profession—my profession—here in Israel.

She looks at the disproportionate staffing and reporting on Israel compared with other countries.

Staffing is the best measure of the importance of a story to a particular news organization. When I was a correspondent at the AP, the agency had more than 40 staffers covering Israel and the Palestinian territories. That was significantly more news staff than the AP had in China, Russia, or India, or in all of the 50 countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined. It was higher than the total number of news-gathering employees in all the countries where the uprisings of the “Arab Spring” eventually erupted.

To offer a sense of scale: Before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the permanent AP presence in that country consisted of a single regime-approved stringer. The AP’s editors believed, that is, that Syria’s importance was less than one-40th that of Israel. I don’t mean to pick on the AP—the agency is wholly average, which makes it useful as an example. The big players in the news business practice groupthink, and these staffing arrangements were reflected across the herd. Staffing levels in Israel have decreased somewhat since the Arab uprisings began, but remain high. And when Israel flares up, as it did this summer, reporters are often moved from deadlier conflicts. Israel still trumps nearly everything else.

The volume of press coverage that results, even when little is going on, gives this conflict a prominence compared to which its actual human toll is absurdly small. In all of 2013, for example, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict claimed 42 lives—that is, roughly the monthly homicide rate in the city of Chicago. Jerusalem, internationally renowned as a city of conflict, had slightly fewer violent deaths per capita last year than Portland, Ore., one of America’s safer cities. In contrast, in three years the Syrian conflict has claimed an estimated 190,000 lives, or about 70,000 more than the number of people who have ever died in the Arab-Israeli conflict since it began a century ago.

News organizations have nonetheless decided that this conflict is more important than, for example, the more than 1,600 women murdered in Pakistan last year (271 after being raped and 193 of them burned alive), the ongoing erasure of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party, the carnage in Congo (more than 5 million dead as of 2012) or the Central African Republic, and the drug wars in Mexico (death toll between 2006 and 2012: 60,000), let alone conflicts no one has ever heard of in obscure corners of India or Thailand. They believe Israel to be the most important story on earth, or very close.

That is an indictment in itself right there. That is a massive news imbalance.    Read more »

Ex-Aussie Army Boss says we need to be prepared to fight Islam for a 100 years

With Islamic fundamentalism on the rise in Australia and  radicalised Australians joining various jihad it is hard not to agree with those that want to prevent Muslim immigration into New Zealand.

Australia is far further down the track on this and as a result you are witnessing increased anti-semitism, creation of no go areas in major cities and not far off seeing demands for Sharia law in those same areas.

Australia has a problem and I don’t think we will escape it either.

Their former Army boss says Australia needs to prepare to fight, and on their own soil too.

AUSTRALIA needs to prepare for an increasingly savage, 100-year war against radical Islam that will be fought on home soil as well as foreign lands, the former head of the army, Peter Leahy, has warned.

Professor Leahy, a leading defence and strategic analyst, told The Weekend Australian the country was ill-prepared for the high cost of fighting a war that would be paid in “blood and treasure” and would require pre-emptive as well as reactive action.

“Australia is involved in the early stages of a war which is likely to last for the rest of the century,” he said. “We must be ready to protect ourselves and, where necessary, act pre-emptively to neutralise the evident threat. Get ready for a long war.”

Senior intelligence officials have moved to shore up public support for the Abbott government’s tough new security laws, including enhanced data-retention capabilities enabling agencies to track suspect computer usage.

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation director-general David Irvine said the proposed data laws, which require phone and internet companies to retain records for two years, were “absolutely crucial” to counter the jihadist terror threat.

The government’s security package also includes a $630 million funding boost to intelligence agencies and police to help prevent domestic terrorist attacks.   Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Women browse in a Kabul record store

Women browse in a Kabul record store

Afghan Women 

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Two Drones?

unnamed-2

 

Caption contest…fill your boots.

Does anyone else find it ironic that a collector of nazi memorabilia is at a protest against war?  Read more »

Looks like John Key was right about boat people

via Keeping Stock

When National rushed through legislation about stopping boat people through parliament the opposition and their lap-bloggers squealed that it was unnecessary.

In 2010, Labour MP Phil Twyford attacked John Key on Red Alert:

Does John Key really think New Zealand is about to be hit by a wave of boat people?

“What I’ve said to the Australian prime minister is that we recognise there is a problem, and we recognise that from New Zealand’s perspective it’s a problem that is coming towards our shores at some point in the future.”
Mr Key said that from all the intelligence he had received, this was “a real issue”.

Has he looked at a map recently? There is a lot of ocean between us and them. Short of us putting out the welcome mat for people-smugglers it seems very unlikely they will make it this far.

In 2011, former Green MP Keith Locke accused the PM of scaremongering in this post on the party’s Frogblog:

John Key’s scaremongering about boat people flooding into the country damages New Zealand’s race relations, Green Party immigration spokesperson Keith Locke said today.

“While John Key’s approach may increase the National Party’s ‘redneck’ vote, as happened to John Howard in Australia, it will be at a cost to race relations in New Zealand,” said Keith Locke.

“Racial dog whistling about refugees is unbefitting of a Prime Minister.

And just last year, those bastions of left-wing reason at The Standard accused John Key of invoking the “yellow peril”:

Bad jobs numbers and a succession of collapses of major businesses weighing your government down? You need: distraction! How about an old classic from the New Zealand politician’s playbook – the Yellow Peril!

Passed on by Richard Seddon and Winston Peters, Yellow Peril’s now being wielded by John Key as he talks of vague, unsubstantiated threats that boatloads of Indonesians are heading for our shores (no, I’m not sure what terrors are meant to eventuate when they land, either)

Of course, the closest any boat people have actually come to reaching New Zealand was when our mates, the Aussies, thought about helping them

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Never mind that Indonesia is literally 1/6th of the world away,* John Key wants us to know the ‘threat’ from boat people, threat of what I don’t know, is very real and something we should all be worried about. Far more worried than we should be about, say, the threat of losing our jobs. (* At nearly 4,000 miles the distance from the closest parts of Indonesia to New Zealand is the distance from Europe to North America and back. Most boat people make trips from Indonesia to one of Australia’s offshore islands, a journey of a couple of hundred miles. So, we’re being asked to believe that boat people are planning, for no apparent reason, to make a journey 20 times longer and over colder, rougher, open seas in the Tasman, when Australia’s right there, literally in the way – doesn’t seem like a profitable business venture for the people smugglers for a start, 20 times the operating costs.)

Read more »

Here’s a conspiracy for ya…

Oh no, explosive revelations in the Dominion Post today about New Zealand spies working in Afghanistan.

Kiwi spies operating in Afghanistan sifted through intelligence supplied by the United States National Security Agency, a former US intelligence officer has revealed.

Prime Minister John Key confirmed this week that New Zealand intelligence agencies provided information to international forces in Afghanistan that may have been used to target drone strikes.

Former “black ops” operator Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer detailed the work carried out by a New Zealand defence analyst stationed in Afghanistan in 2003.

He revealed that “raw” signals intelligence was passed to a team of US and Kiwi specialists “to parse it and review it to establish their own intel”.

Shaffer, who worked under the alias Major Chris Stryker, struck a deal with a colleague to access the intercepts.

He was working on a mission – eventually vetoed – to strike Taliban insurgents over the border with Pakistan.

Shock horror, our people working with the US.  Read more »

Doors closed in Australia, no matter let’s try NZ

People smugglers are giving up on trying to get people into Australia now, the government of Tony Abbott has succeeded in stopping the boats.

The people smugglers though are not to be deterred and are now targeting NZ.

Michael Bachelard at The Guardian reports:

People smugglers in Indonesia are mounting their first credible attempt to ship asylum seekers on the hazardous voyage to New Zealand and circumvent the Abbott government’s Operation Sovereign Borders.

Four men – two from Bangladesh and two from Afghanistan – were caught last month by the Indonesian immigration department in Jayapura, West Papua, on their way to get a boat to New Zealand.

Their capture appears to have stalled, for the time being, a plot to send up to 100 people, but sources in West Java say people smugglers in the town of Cisarua are still advertising for places on a New Zealand-bound boat.

The smugglers are showing asylum seekers a grainy picture, obtained by Fairfax Media, of the boat they say they have bought for the venture, which is larger and sturdier looking than the typical fishing vessel and has covered cabins and navigational antennae.  Read more »

Top shot, six dead scumbags with a single shot

This has to be one for the record books.

Six dead taliban ratbags with a single shot.

A British sniper in Afghanistan killed six insurgents with a single bullet after hitting the trigger switch of a suicide bomber whose device then exploded, The Telegraph has learnt.

The 20-year-old marksman, a Lance Corporal in the Coldstream Guards, hit his target from 930 yards (850 metres) away, killing the suicide bomber and five others around him caught in the blast.  Read more »

Photo Of The Day

© Abbas/Magnum Photos

© Abbas/Magnum Photos

 Marriage by Proxy

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‘Tis but a scratch, pommy soldier shot through neck but ‘cracks on’ with job in firefight

MAINMOD-3266611

They breed pommy soldier tough, real tough.

How typical of the pommy soldier…crack on lads.

Lance Corporal Simon Moloney’s life was saved by friend L/Cpl Wes Masters – who has now been awarded the Military Cross for his bravery.

In the heat of battle with the Taliban, Lance Corporal Simon Moloney was suddenly sent flying to the ground.

He’d been shot in the neck by a sharpshooter as his troop were in the midst of conquering an enemy base.

The 23-year-old cried out for a medic, knowing he had only minutes to live.

Without fear for his own life or waiting for orders, his friend Lance Corporal Wes Masters ran through 300metres of open ground under heavy fire carrying 60kg of equipment to get to him.

His quick reactions saved L/Cpl Moloney and the pair were even able to rejoin the raging gun battle.

L/Cpl Masters, 25, is among more than 100 members of the armed forces recognised in the latest round of military honours.

[...]    Read more »