Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Video: Polish plane crash, do we know everything?

I'm posting a video from investigative journalist Jane Burgemeister, famous for her fight against the swine flu mass vaccination.

The video raises important questions on how the events have occurred and on how following investigations have unfolded (have they?).

The very moment I heard tv reports on the plane crash, I felt something was wrong or untold. The official version implied that it was a very dangerous airport and that the pilot had been repeatedly warned to land in another airport nearby. After trying three times, he kept insisting on landing there.

So I thought: Why on earth would a pilot who's certainly well-trained (President's plane, after all!) go on a certain suicide? And then, the fourth time, when he actually landed, he went against trees? Was the pilot blind?

But, on the other hand, I couldn't find any reason for an attack. There had been clashes within Europe with the Polish government, but come on, a plane crash? Slawomir Wisniewski, the first journalist to get to the scene, has reported that he has not seen anything resembling a human body or personal belongings whatsoever.

Maybe this video will answer some of my questions.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

East and West, clash of civilisations or plain prejudice?

When I started reading this article, my first sentiments were of outrage and anger: how can a man beat up a woman? Then I kept on reading and felt something was unavoidably drifting towards the wrong direction. The piece was written by an aspiring journalist, Katherine, who has spent her junior year of college in Amman, Jordan, and it's the vivid account of when she was attacked by a taxi driver.

The violence of a human being against another human being is always despicable, no matter where, when and by whom is carried out.

As Katherine continues with her account, it inevitably ends up into cultural matters: "This wasn’t America, and we were nowhere near equal. What’s more: The majority of the population seemed to accept this, even expect it."

What did I miss? From being attacked by a taxi driver to the allegations of living in a society where women are considered next to nothing?

The first year I lived in London, women were terrified when booking a black cab because there was a taxi driver who had raped or attacked I can't remember who many women before getting caught. It was disgraceful, but the criminal was a single man, not all men in the UK, and this was the way it was reported in the UK media: a criminal act happening in London.

When I lived in Rome, my friend and I were walking down a very popular road downtown when, suddenly, out of nowhere, a guy showed up, punched my friend right on her face and walked away as if nothing had happened. It was early in the morning, we were heading to college, the neighbourhood was slowly waking up and the road was empty, so it didn't occur to us to scream. We were both shocked, my friend making sure she didn't have anything broken, myself trying to see if she needed to be brought to the hospital. It never crossed our mind that this was Italy's national attitude.

When a random act of violence happens in Europe or the US, it is reported as such: a random criminal incident. If the same episode occurs in any  Middle Eastern country, the first Western reaction is to condemn the entire society. This is not fair and doesn't benefit anybody, both in the West and in the East.

True is that as citizens in Western countries have a distorted idea of Eastern societies, the same applies to many citizens of Eastern countries regarding their general opinion on Western women.

Although our media are swift in defending women's rights and condemning any distorted ideas foreign societies can hold on Western women, very little they do in order to prevent this misconception from happening. I had written a post on my travel blog about the abuse of women's body in the Italian media: a quick glimpse is enough to understand that Italian tv is pure pornography, and pornography is a violation of women's dignity. Despite much criticism, this poor quality and constantly offensive content is what Italian national tv (private *and* public) broadcast, ignoring the fact that most women are uncomfortable with that.

The image of women as sexual objects, and the primary role that media, from cinema to tv to glossy magazines, give to seduction, justifying and encouraging its use for social empowerment, have undoubtedly led citizens of Eastern societies to think that this is what women are in the West. And it's wrong.

Western women are nowhere near the distorted image that our media give, we have nothing in common with Britney Spears or Paris Hilton, we don't envy them and we don't emulate them. They are fake, we are real. Western women are not well represented by Western media, as simple as that.

Similarly, by saying:

A woman, her face covered and her head down, came up to my translator as I waited at the police station for a medical exam. She said something in Arabic. My translator turned to me and said flatly, “She wants to know if your husband is beating you too, 

Katherine seems implying that women's abuse is a common routine in Jordan or Arab countries, and that Arab women accept and expect to be considered inferior. This is not true: the Arab women I met are nowhere near downtrodden and constantly humiliated, and the Arab men I know are nowhere near violent. Generalisation is never useful.

Probably due to the young age of the writer, the article is incredibly naive, lacking of any social and geopolitical context, which is always necessary in order to understand what cultural patterns we are talking about. Unfortunately, many Westerners, consciously or unconsciously, adopt the "our-culture-is-the-best" attitude.

This is why statements such as:

Coming home—first to Wisconsin and then back to school in Los Angeles—I was suddenly surrounded by things that had been taboo—short skirts, tank tops, male friends, individuality, and an expectation that I was an independent woman capable of having a job, a voice, and my own life plan. I felt like I was handed every social freedom for which those women in Jordan fought every day, but for the first time in my life I could fully appreciate them all

reek of an overstated national identity and don't do justice to a society as complex as the Jordanian one, and much of the Middle East countries that can rightly boast thousands of years of culture and scientific discoveries we are all still drawing from.

The biggest mistake we, Westerners, make when judging other cultures is that we do it using our cultural standards, making no effort in trying to understand the others, their complexities and imperceptible nuances. This pattern, it must be said, is widely encouraged by media propaganda and our governments.

Just because in Europe or the US we wear mini-skirts  and don't wear the hijab (which has somehow become the symbol of the abuse), it doesn't mean that we don't face discrimination, at work and in the society.

There's no culture better than another, there are human beings. Like it or not, we all share the same planet, and like it or not, we all have to acquire awareness of it. Katherine happened to be "granted awareness" in Jordan, I was granted awareness by living in Rome, Dublin and London. Especially the latter, where nobody can afford to be naive for too long, to avoid being sucked by the jungle.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country!

Hardly something bearing the name of William Blum can be disappointing. I've just received the video he has produced about US foreign policy and found it extremely enlightening to have an idea of how the propaganda machine in the States (and in Europe!) starts the brainwashing process in the school system, so that the pieces of information acquired at a young age are uncounsciously part of our knowledge and play a strong role in our future understanding of the events in the political scene.

The information to learn and memorise doesn't need to be long, actually it's better quick bits, slogans easy to remember: "We are exceptional, we export democracy. Repeat after me."

I'm a frequent reader of Mr Blum articles, I never miss his monthly reports and his books are an invaluable source of information for anybody who wants to have an idea of covert (and open and illegal) operations the US administrations have been carrying out since the end of WWII.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Italian doctors arrested in Afghanistan: plots and lies

Three Italian doctors working with the NGO Emergency, founded by Gino Strada, were arrested in Afghanistan for allegedly plotting to kill the governor of Helmand, Gulab Mangal.

True is that NGO Emergency has never been a fan of the Italian support of US criminal activities in Afghanistan, but was it really the case to stop them for that?

It's no mystery that Italy is only an ailing, pathetic Zio-US-colony and that each and every government has been previously stamped and approved by the CIA, but forgodsake, do Italian politicians really need to remind us of this every time they open their mouth? Can they really never say anything even a little evocative of some veneer of independence?

A while ago, Italian premier Berlusconi, who is not exactly famous for his intellectual brightness, issued the very unfortunate remark of our "brotherhood" with Israel, brotherhood mainly unknown (and quite not appreciated) by Italian people, and urged Israel to become a member of the EU.

Yesterday, the Italian minister of Foreign Affairs, Franco Frattini, issued another pearl. Two, actually. Asked about the events the three medical workers found themselves involved in, instead of showing the support he's supposed to give to Italian citizens abroad, he immediately replied; "The men arrested are not part of the Italian involvement in Afghanistan," and "the Italian government confirms its hard line against any kind of direct or indirect support to terrorist activities in Afghanistan and anywhere else."

Excuse me, Mr Frattini: What?

  • Are you saying that you are not going to protect the three Italian doctors that in Afghanistan are trying to save the desperate cases of bodies mangled by US humanitarianism?
  • Are you implying, by any chance, that the Emergency's doctors are somehow involved in any kind of terrorist activity?
  • Are you saying to all Italian citizens abroad that they have no government to rely on should anything happen to them?
  • Do you know that you are a minister of a sovereign and independent State and that you are entitled (and required) to kick any foreign interference out of the national Parliament?
  • Do you know that it's not necessary to be always subservient at 90° and that even the most thick-headed has now understood you are a zio-servant?

Frattini has showed, once again, he doesn't represent Italy, because most of the Italian population is unconditionally on Emergency's side. 
He has proved unfit to be part of the Italian government because unwilling to defend Italians abroad. 
His reaction, in this occasion, was highly disappointing, thus, he should seriously consider to resign from his position.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Guantanamo detainees innocent, and Bush knew it

I read, appalled, the article published on The Times of London, in which Colonel Wilkerson accuses former US president George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld to have known that hundreds of people jailed in Guantanamo torture camp were innocent.

According to Rumsfeld they were "politically impossible to release" in order to boost the push towards the invasion of Iraq. So they preferred to keep them locked for years.

The article, of course, gives for granted the idea that the attacks on 9/11 were carried out by a handful of Islamic terrorists. This, however, is not granted at all, since there are thousands between scientists, academics, engineers, architects, pilots, military officers, journalists and citizens that are demanding a new, independent investigation on what has been one of the darkest pages in US recent history and that has been used as an excuse to colonise and destroy Afghanistan and Iraq. Demand that, so far, has been largely ignored by both Bush and Obama.

I find astonishing how far human cruelty can go, and what I find most worrying is that the worst examples of such brutality come from the people who lead our goverments and are supposed to keep human rights at the top of their agenda.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Ali Abunimah's lecture about the current situation in Palestine

Ali Abunimah, Executive Director of Electronic Intifada, is on a US tour to speak about the current situation in Palestine.

From the lecture below, it's clear how illegal zionist colons have seized the land of indigenous Palestinians and are now granting themselves with the power to decide about their life. All this, while US and EU countries watch scared and abashed.

The lecture is an hour and a half long, and worth watching every single minute.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Why media outlets face their biggest crisis and why people don't trust them

Yesterday I received an email from an editor, whose name and publication I won't reveal, saying:

Thanks for that article - we don't publicly comment on political articles, but certainly appreciate what you share and thank you for getting the message out. There is more bullshit political propaganda in the USA than even China. Americans are fed with lies, hate and fear every day by their government and media. Keep spreading the word.
Someone has to pave the way. I spend more time in USA than I like and can't stand the endless media/govt propaganda. Whenever we travel overseas, the media does a much better and more balanced job of sharing news from around the world - whereas the USA news is primarily US centered and the rest of the world barely exists. Keep up the good work.
While this is very flattering and somehow encouraging, it nevertheless caused me some anxiety.

Why is it flattering? Easy: it's always nice to see that someone actually appreciates my efforts which, in the end, are not as hopeless as they seem most of the time.

Why is it encouraging? Because it's reassuring to see that who works in the media industry is fully aware of what the situation is and that always more journalists/editors are finding this unbearable.

So, why did this email cause me anxiety? Because Western countries (and relative media outlets) claim to be free and independent, and they are not. Western economies are run by a free market system (very "market", little "free"), and media outlets are nothing but entreprises. As all entreprises do, also media outlets work towards making profits and benefiting their owners. This, in a free-market economy, is quite normal. What is not normal, however, is that private companies act and offer an image of themselves as if they were operating for the sake of the population, for a greater public good, and not for money. This behaviour is misleading and very unfair towards all readers. It reeks of mind manipulation, instead of honest information, with the aim of preserving a system and its flaws, instead of trying to correct them.

While in the political sections of newspapers and magazines this censoring process is most perceived, the other categories are not completely bias-free. The travel section, for example, can have the means to enlighten readers about foreign countries: they cover far-flung destinations, but do they really carry out proper research? No, most of the times their articles seem stemming from total ignorance of the geopolitical and sociological situation of the countries they write about, with the only aim to advertise the tour operators paying for the articles or support in a subtle way their government's takes on foreign administrations.

This usually corresponds to the relations Western governments hold with foreign administrations. So if there is a so-called "rogue state", the travel articles would abide by the unsaid rules of conformism. An example would sound like "China is a beautiful country, and you can constantly perceive the population's discontent against a suffocating dictatorship." This is a plain lie, but I wouldn't be surprised to read it tomorrow on a national paper.

What's sad is that even small publications, even if non-corporate, seek for some kind of illustrious approval from mainstream media (that is always corporate), and instead of making the best out of their independence, are filled with hackneyed expressions and judgements that are often incorrect but adopted because generally accepted.

Admittedly, the statement "Someone has to pave the way" did freak me out a bit, and my first reaction was "And that should be me??" But then I quickly flicked through the notes in my mind and found a lengthy list of journalists that are doing a pretty good job, such as Jeremy Scahill and William Blum, or the team of Democracy Now.

Today I've read an article on the Huffington Post about the reasons why magazines are losing ground. The writer is right when she says "Magazines are risk averse": true, magazines don't risk, they publish run-of-the-mill stories, rarely thought-provoking, always able to recall something "familiar" to readers to make it easier for them to identify themselves with an unreal and made-up world.

A reader left a comment to the HuffPo article saying "the Economist doesn't suck." Really? Is The Economist actually as authoritative as it claims to be? I've actually read many misleading articles on the Economist about Italy, France and Brasil, just to mention the three countries I'm more familiar with. Why was that? Tellingly, every time the articles libelled one of these countries, it corresponded with a particular moment of tension between them and the UK. Coincidence? Likely not.

One of the most dangerous practices is the self-censorship, more common than it seems, as freelance journalists often do it even unconsciously, for the fear of not being published and so losing work. I'm absolutely not an exception to this, the need of making our ends meet often sacrifices the need for truth, with the inevitable outcome that we betray our readers and society.

The truth, although hard to admit, is that journalists are far less brave than what they like to boast.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

WikiLeaks, a classified video from Iraq shows another slaughter and another US embarrassment

The gruesome video WikiLeaks has published, breaking in the secret halls of the Pentagon, has made the world discuss once again about the legitimacy that the United States grant themselves with in order to invade, conquer and destroy any country they like, with the resulting slaughtering of their people. The most fashionable excuse, nowadays, is to “bring democracy”, and the question comes almost alone: does anyone need the US to bring them democracy? No.

The US way to bring democracy is with bombs, guns, rifles, depleted uranium, white phosphorus. Result: nobody needs nor wants US democracy. Does the Pentagon think theirs is the best government and democracy in the world? Good, keep it, we are not jealous.

Recently, I went to the United Arab Emirates, and technically, or better, according to our political patterns, their system is not a democracy: they don't have elections. As far as I could see, they are doing much better than we are in our European democracies, where every now and then the current crop of politicians give us headache with their electoral slogans and run as candidates in the usual farce that we call “elections”. In every election, the candidates sing the same refrain: "no more taxes, more jobs", and after every elections, citizens echo the same song: "more taxes, no jobs". But we live in a democracy, we can vote, we can choose between a couple of parties that, although they bear different names, all belong to the same party, the party of power.

As the newspaper The National has written, “Wikileaks has done more scoops in its short life than the Washington Post in the past 30 years.” This is very true, but we also need to add that the Washington Post is not allowed to issue such scoops, because their job is to keep the system go on, boosting its propaganda and hiding its crimes.

With the excuse of fighting terror, the US administration has brought unspeakable suffering to Afghanistan and Iraq, caused the death of millions of people, caused high percentages of birth and heart defects due to the weapons used by the troops and destroyed their country. Even if our journalists fake happy emotions when reporting that Iraqi people "have voted for democracy". Give me a break.

Writes William Blum in his April Anti- Empire Report "One could fill many large volumes with the details of the environmental and human horrors the United States has brought to Fallujah and other parts of Iraq during seven years of using white phosphorous shells, depleted uranium, napalm, cluster bombs, neutron bombs, laser weapons, weapons using directed energy, weapons using high-powered microwave technology, and other marvelous inventions in the Pentagon's science-fiction arsenal ... the list of abominations and grotesque ways of dying is long, the wanton cruelty of American policy shocking."

All this, in the name of money, hidden by fake democratic principles, with the real aim to conquer, divide and sell the lands to the big corporations. And all this, with doormat European countries watching and complying to the orders.

After the leak out of this latest video showing the horrors that the US administrations are bringing about in the Middle East, the US defence department is reportedly "embarrassed". It's worth noticing, however, that this embarrassment is due to the leak of information, and not to the killing of twelve people. Twelve, among the millions of people slaughtered during these senseless wars, innocent civilians "expendable for the greater good".

How people all over the world can still accept such abuse of power and believe in such gross propaganda, is beyond me.
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