Taliban

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 »

Photo Of The Day

Women browse in a Kabul record store

Women browse in a Kabul record store

Afghan Women 

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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 »

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

INP/Photo

INP/Photo

Sitting Exams Under Cover Of Umbrellas

 

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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 »

And we need power reform why?

Labour and the Green taliban want to nationalise and control the power industry…apparently the market is inefficient and needs their expertise in running it.

Never mind that the world over their chosen model has failed consumers.

Today in the DomPost is more evidence of their willingness to lie to the public.

Electricity prices are at a three-year low, at the very time people are using less power.

But, despite the low prices – which have reached 48 times lower than the peak last year – residential customers will notice little change as contracts buffer them from the highs and lows of the volatile wholesale market.  Read more »

How to live without fear

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A new Godwin’s Law?

We all know what Godwin’s law is…leftists usually are the first to break it, but now it is thought there is a new Godwin’s law.

Samuel Johnson once said that “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” Patriotism, and bad analogies.

For the uninitiated, Godwin’s Law is one of the cardinal rules of the Internet. Coined in 1990 by Internet law expert Mike Godwin, the principle — confirmed by countless contentious comment threads across the web — is that the longer an online discussion persists, the greater the odds become that someone will make a comparison to Nazis or Adolf Hitler, to the point of near-inevitability. Nothing ends a debate faster than the hyperbolic unsupported counterfactual: “You know who else did [INSERT SUBJECT OF ARGUMENT HERE]? Hitler!”

We get this all the time…usually from teachers unions…they used it against Anne Tolley and are yet to deploy it against Hekia Parata…only a matter of time though.

But Hitler and the Nazis aren’t the only recurring straw men used to end debates. Over the past 12 years, it’s become clear that the longer a national security debate persists, the more likely it becomes that someone will try to end it by suggesting something — some policy, some person, some technology — “could have prevented 9/11.”  Read more »

Don’t tell these women nothing’s changed in Afghanistan

The left likes to exclaim that nothing has changed in Afghanistan.

Foreign Policy magazine has a photo essay on women in Afghanistan that disproves that….but it is all at risk if the Taliban return:

Afghan girls attend class at a camp for the displaced in Kabul in October 2011.

Afghan girls attend class at a camp for the displaced in Kabul in October 2011.

Since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, Afghan women have gained the rights to vote, work, and pursue an education. They’re running for president, they’ve claimed seats in parliament, and they’ve even competed in the Olympics. But international troops are due to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and the Taliban threatens to step into the vacuum they’ll leave behind. Already, writes Amie Ferris-Rotman in an FP dispatch from Kabul, many of the women who’ve come so far — journalists, politicians, and rights workers, among others — have begun to retreat from public life out of fear for their safety. “Once the Americans go we’ll have to sit at home again, bored,” First Lieutenant Zakiya Mohammadi tells Ferris-Rotman.

The “last decade produced a league of knowledgeable, determined young women for whom the Taliban’s return is anathema,” Ferris-Rotman writes. Here’s a look at women across post-Taliban Afghanistan — from the campaign trail to the basketball court to the operating room.