Posts Tagged ‘hard news’

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Previous AJC articles on Syria can be found here.

By @anarchyroll

The most powerful man in the free world.

That label is just as much a gift as it is a curse. Its like being born genetically blessed. Yes it has its advantages, that open doors others can only live vicariously through works of fiction. But the hate and judgement that comes with it is at a level that morphs the blessings into curses through the eyes of what becomes a scarred mind.

Heavy is the head that wears the crown.

To have the power to solve any, one, individual problem is a blessing. To have that power in a world of 7 billion and a country of 300 million where the majority publicly expound their expectations of the use of that power in the most malicious echo chamber known to mankind, is quite the head weight.

Military intervention in the Middle East, after the last thirty years, tends to fall on deaf ears to the majority of people outside of the Military Industrial Complex, justifiably so. After both Gulf Wars, who can honestly be blamed for being completely apathetic towards anything and everything in the Middle East?

Syria distinguished its case for US military intervention in the way most important…body count.

I proudly voted for Barack Obama twice. His voluntary attachment to the word hope has been as much a detriment to his legacy as it was to his ascendance. He stepped into the expectation of the largest, most diverse, and most demanding populace in the history of the world.

Economic depression, gender inequality, student loan debt, global warming,  clean up from two wars, racial injustice, the subprime mortgage crisis, the potential collapse of the American auto industry. That’s all before tackling the healthcare industry. Few presidents before have had so many pressing issues that were pressing the red button at the time of initial inauguration.

Many people think he should have used the leverage and power of the bully pulpit for causes other than what his administration chose to put their focus one during his two terms. Syria’s body count separates it from other issues such as equal pay, net neutrality, redistricting, and marijuana legalization.

The military industrial complex being up and running and forever open for business also seemed to dictate that action in Syria be taken drastically sooner than it inevitably was. Fuck, Syria is so messed up that it is the one issue that Russia and the US seem to agree on even with the shady Russian arms sales connection to the region.

Anyone who has been paying attention to the Syrian Civil War for any length of time is happy to hear that President Obama admits feeling responsibility for the ongoing girth in body county in the conflict. He should. The unchecked, unbalanced, rubber stamped budgeted, defense department dictates to any sitting president that; any issue or conflict that would involve or require the military, have action taken as if it were an urgent priority not because it’s a priority but because of the automatically alloted resources that the MIT has at its disposal at all times, for all time, until the end of time.

It always has been and always will be the body count that draws and keeps my attention about Syria. I suppose if I was older I would have the same attachment to Rwanda, AIDS, Vietnam, Auschwitz, and so on. I suppose if I were older I would have expected more from Clinton, Carter, Kennedy, and so on.

President Obama made healthcare his number one priority in office, for better and for worse, because of the issue’s direct ability to effect life and death.

One can be the most anti Obamacare person in the world, take away all the economic implications and political allegiance, and any human being can empathize with a person in power leveraging that power to help directly save lives.

At the end of the day, at the end of the issue, is the value of human life.

It is hard to make the case every life is precious when the global population exceeds 7,000,000,000. The body count of the Syrian Civil War greatly exceeds and overshadows the body count that die in America due to lack of health insurance. But what is the value of human life? Are we a global village? Or do Americans come first?

When one wins the right to be called the most powerful man in the free world, the greatest of all power comes with the greatest of all responsibility. After years and years and hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of casualties in the Syrian Civil War that have all occurred during the Presidency of Barack Obama; the man, the myth, the legend finally admitted in public his feeling of responsibility on the issue.

The death, destruction, desolation, and dehumanization that has taken place over the past half decade makes Syria either a turning point, a sticking point, a flash point, or a new normal for global society. Will we stand up for hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children being shot, tortured, gassed, and butchered or will we use our own personal drama as an excuse to stay silently complacent in mass executions and mass graves?

Barack Obama has publicly admitted his responsibility, will we ever admit ours?

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By @anarchyroll

What is journalism? What does it mean to be a journalist in 2016?

What is journalism in the era of media conglomeration? Has media conglomeration turned journalism as it was known in the 20th century into public relations for the 1%?

Is journalism;

  • What we see on local evening news? Sensationalized reporting of gun violence amongst those on the low-end of the economic ladder between sports, traffic, and weather.
  • What we read in newspapers and magazines between the advertisements, crossword
  • What we see on national news and cable news? Human interest pieces, celebrity gossip, and opinions given about politics, sports, and Hollywood all looped and edited to elicit emotion rather than thought or discourse.

Is journalism meant to report facts and information that affects large numbers of people based on the political, economic, and/or environmental the information will impact? Or is it just people writing/broadcasting what newspaper owners and trending topics dictate?

Journalism is about facts and information. It’s about exposing injustice to the public. It is about shining the light of truth into the dark corners of conspiracy and deceit.

Just because a small group of billionaires has bought all major news outlets (media conglomeration), doesn’t mean they have bought the facts and information that qualifies as news. Just because political parties receive large donations and cater to these media conglomerates, doesn’t mean they are immune from the facts and information they wish to keep secret from being reported to the public.

As was shown in the DNC Leaks, MSNBC was in direct contact with the Democratic National Committee about what to say and what not to say about Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. If MSNBC is a news station, and they are conspiring to turn the news into specifically crafted public relations, do they not deserve to have this conspiracy reported on? Is that not a news story?

When the news is owned by the people the news used to report on, so they don’t get reported on anymore, then the nature of gathering facts and information as well as reporting them must change. If the 1% would divest all holdings in all news reporting outlets, and all journalism was once again independently financed, what purpose would Wikileaks serve?

In a post print media conglomerate landscape, hactivism has evolved into journalism.

How much content have credible news outlets turned the DNC Leaks into? How many articles, pictures, videos, sound bites, polls, tweets, vines, snaps, and stories have been created because of what Wikileaks has done? The only ones who seem to think it’s wrong, are the people who have been exposed and their allies.

Mainstream media using the information provided by Wikileaks makes them complacent which makes what Wikileaks does with their hacking no longer any different from what a beat reporter did with their pen, paper, and access to newswires in the 20th century. Ten years ago Wikileaks may have been an underground, illegal, immoral, criminal, hacking networks of deviants, anarchists, and outsiders. In 2016, they are just another credible source alongside the Associated Press and Reuters. In 2016, Wikileaks is journalism.

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By @anarchyroll

News as significant as the Panama Papers doesn’t come around that often, unless it’s a news about how bad global warming is getting. That is becoming a weekly occurrence.

The Panama Papers’ place in history places the document leak right up with Edward Snowden, Watergate, the Pentagon Papers, and Wikileaks in its prime.

What the Panama Papers does is removes the illusion that the wealthy care about the poor. It destroys the myth that money trickles down from the top to the bottom. The wealthy don’t give a shit about anything other than getting richer, keeping what they have, to ensure they remain the haves, and that the have nots stay that way.

Just like it has always been. The 99% vs the 1% was once known as the castle owners versus the serfs. All the poors will ever be to those with wealth are serfs. A bunch of ignorant mouth breathers who don’t deserve to live a life of privilege.

The Panama Papers proves that those with wealth will take extraordinary measures to opt out of the social contract. That even though they could not possibly acquire a fortune without society, that they do not under any circumstance want to give back.
How do the rich give back? Not with charity but with taxes. We as a society need taxes. We need taxes to build our infrastructure to ensure our bridges don’t collapse and that our water pipes aren’t poisoning us with lead.

We need taxes to create housing and counseling for the mentally ill, physically handicapped, and generationally underprivileged. That is what the public sector and more importantly, public service is for.

If the rich, wealthy, private sector could be relied upon to help society better than the public sector, wouldn’t they have done it by now? The concentration of wealth is greater now than at any other point in modern history. So are the billionaires of the world repaving our roads, repairing our water pipes, building schools, shelters, asylums, and municipal Wi-Fi? No, they are putting the consumerism, capitalism ideology on steroids and crashing the economies’ of the world cyclically.

Private islands, mega yachts, vacation homes, third cars, personal jets, spa getaways, and tax havens. They go together like peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, caviar and foie gras, VIP bottle service and hookers.

After all they worked for that money, except for the trust fund crowd.

Remember, its not the local café owner, franchise retail manager, regional bank president, or serial entrepreneur whose economic terrorism has been exposed by the Panama Papers. Its not the rich, it’s the wealthy. Were talking Bill Gates money, not Oprah money.

Whether it is distrust of specific governments, municipalities or just the public sector in general is irrelevant. Infrastructures are crumbling, people are starving, coastal communities are eroding, species going extinct, and these greedy fuckers only care about having enough money to one up each other in the game of thee who dies with the most toys wins.

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by @anarchyroll

Tackling environmental causes is as important as it is thankless.

There is nothing more important to the survival of the human race, than insuring that we have clean air, drinkable water, harvestable land as well as habitable temperatures and sea levels. Other issues are as important on micro/local levels. Some issues are artificially inflated to seem as important. The only other topic that carries the gravitas of capability of wiping out the human race is warfare…..and asteroids from outer space. But as long as Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck are alive, we’re safe.

Warfare and environmental issues parallel each other. Both can have truly global impacts. Both issues have resulted in global changes over the past century. Both issues are so complex it’s hard to wrap one’s head around them. Both issues are so important they are boring. Both issues change and evolve in a way inconvenient for twenty four hour news cycles. Both issues see new sub issues come up immediately after victories making celebrations both limited and moot.

WWI to WWII to Vietnam to Gulf War One to Gulf War Too to Al Qaeda to ISIS. Global warming to drought to famine to flooding to super storms. But it’s not just the big macro stuff. It is also the smaller micro topics. Terrorist attacks and poisoned drinking water reservoirs. Hostage crises to methane leaks.

People who care about the environment and know about climate change should still be rejoicing over the historic Paris Climate Deal that was signed in mid December. 200 countries signing an agreement with legal force to reach zero carbon emissions in the second half of this century is certainly worth a celebration. 2015 closed with the biggest victory to date in regard to the biggest macro environmental issue.

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In the United States, 2016 has begun with a two micro environmental issues making the Paris Agreement feel a world away. The California Methane Leak and the Flint Water Crisis have grabbed attention and headlines usually reserved for sports and celebrity gossip. If the body count goes up, maybe either issue can be talked about as much as the weather.

EMERGENCY!!!

A State of Emergency has been declared in California over the three month and counting leak of underground methane reservoirs into the air. 2,000 people have been evacuated from their homes with many more seeking relocation assistance in Southern California. A bonafied environmental disaster has struck the Porter Ranch area.

EMERGENCY!!!

A presidential emergency declaration has been given to Flint, Michigan by Barack Obama. $80 million in resources will be given to city that has had its water supply poisoned via bureaucratic cost cutting. 100,000 people including schools full of children have been exposed to toxic drinking water for years.

Wide reaching and far stretching damage at a biblical scale. That is why environmental issues are the most worthy of the attention and resources of the masses and those in power. 200 countries came together in Paris knowing this. That economic bickering and small scale terror attacks mean nothing in the face of environmental crises capable of wiping out the entire human race.

Flint and Porter Ranch merely scratch the surface of the severity of negative environmental issue impacts. Poisoned air, poisoned water, and a poisoned atmosphere that will effect global warming. Each issue individually can lead to death instantly and severe pain, discomfort, and displacement. The negative consequences of the issues will be on a monumental scale at an unceasing length.

Environmental issues are real issues. Nothing soft news about them, they are very hard news second to none. Scientists giving speeches or scientific reports/studies being released don’t get the play or attention that war stories get. If it bleeds it leads in the broadcast news world. It is not wrong to care and focus on the casualties of war. But please remember that just because the destruction is immediate and sensational, doesn’t mean it is the most austere.

A gun can kill many. A bomb many more. But a poisoned water supply? Unbreathable air due to toxic gas? If an army or terrorist group poisoned the water supply or the air supply of two American cities, what would the reaction be? Does incompetence of a corporation or governing body make the consequences less grave?

The impact of environmental issues are immune to perception and/or plausibility. You can choose to not believe or not care about the methane leak in Southern California. I can choose to tell my social circle the effects on global warming of the methane leak won’t be huge and felt for decades to come. But the gigantic amount of methane leaking into the air, like the lead in the Flint water supply is immune from peoples’ perceptions and beliefs.

The same is true for battles and war. The people of Paris probably believed they were safe from ISIS. America perceived the constant conflict in the Middle East wouldn’t have any effect on the homeland before 2001. Perception and belief just don’t mean anything when it comes to the facts and events that are happening. It is how we react to them and what we do going forward to minimize damage and maximize the effect of the lesson(s) learned from the events.

The methane leak is happening, the water crisis is happening, global warming is happening. These are hard facts immune from political beliefs and personal perception. What are we going to do to minimize their damage? How are we going to maximize the effects of the lessons learned from these events going forward? The answers to these questions don’t just effect a community, a country, or a continent.

They literally effect the entire human race and the entire planet we inhabit. That is why environmental issues are the most worthy of the attention and resources of the masses and those in power. The answers to these questions will be difficult, inconvenient, expensive, and require massive sacrifice. Which is why ;

Tackling environmental causes is as important as it is thankless.

by @anarchyroll
5/16/2014

There has been another development in Syria this week and, as has become standard, it is not a positive one.

Lakhdar Brahimi; the man tasked with trying to broker a peace treaty or at least a long-standing ceasefire in Syria has resigned. He resigned due to the current Syrian regime not giving an inch, as well as the international community basically not giving a damn about what is going on in Syria as long as chemical weapons aren’t involved. What has been happening and continues to happen in Syria represents everything wrong with the human race.

150,000 dead and counting, with no end in sight, no hope in sight, for the people of Syria. The situation between Russia and Ukraine has shifted all focus away from Syria. The fatigue of the international community has felt from the constant flow of horrifying news coming out of Syria is palpable. No one is even putting up a front of enthusiasm towards of humanitarian solution in that country. When politicians can’t even put on a veil of political correctness on an issue, you know the shit is hitting the fan.

Unfortunately in Syria, it is not shit hitting the fan, it is the blood of women and children by the thousand. Civilians are killed every day and everyone looks away. I had the pleasure of meeting someone who volunteered in the region, at one of the refugee camps. I gave them my respect and attempted to stay in contact with them as they were in the process of trying to go back. That area needs all the help they can get. It is such a vast war zone, one wonders if there is anything that can actually, tangibly, help.

Frequenters of this site know I keep an eye and an ear one what is going on in Syria and have written about it often. I will continue to do so. It is important to know about what is going on there. Remember, the whole situation started with the government opening fire on protesters. Consider what is also happening in Egypt, Ukraine, Greece, and Spain. It seems opening fire on protesters is becoming the norm. It is important to be aware of things like this so a disease of government versus civilian violence do not spread to our side of the ocean.

 

by @anarchyroll
3/15/2014

The Syrian conflict recently turned three years old. The anniversary has been marked around the world with #StandwithSyria gatherings and candlelight vigils. The anniversary has been marked in Syria with continued genocide against the civilian population by the military of Bashar Al-Asaad. The conflict in Syria is one in which the numbers speak for themselves.

When did the conflict begin? March 6th, 2011.

How did this situation start? The government/military opened fire on peaceful protestors. It is as if Obama/Bloomberg sent the army into Occupy Wall Street with shoot to kill orders.

What caused the protests in the first place? A gathering protesting the release of political prisoners in Deraa, Syria. Military/security personnel opened fire and killed 15 people. Both the protesting and the executing of civilian, peaceful protesters continued to escalate.

Where is the conflict at now? Civil war with each sides allies propping up each side with military and economic aide. Asaad’s allies are Iran and Russia. The resistance’s allies would be the US and EU.

Why hasn’t the US, EU, or UN intervened directly? That is the big question. There is no answer that doesn’t involve bias, cynicism, skepticism, or posturing. With those numbers it is hard to fathom the some western power getting in there. The closest any western power has gotten is the US threatening to go in if Asaad didn’t turn over all of his chemical weapons. He presently is, so the US has stayed on the sidelines. Reasons commonly cited are a lack of oil, direct US interests, threat of a proxy war with Russia and/or Iran, and the vast size of the country making a ground war even more of a rabbit hole than Iraq or Afghanistan.

I am for a military intervention for the first time in my life. I really do believe that with those numbers the US should send in troops. Just my opinion, I wouldn’t argue it. I just know that we have gone in other places for far less. I read a news story about Syria usually every day. Because every day there is something just gut wrenching to report. There have been multiple chemical weapon attacks against civilians, though the US will only acknowledge one. Those numbers at the very least grab anyone’s attention more often than not followed by sympathy for those in the trenches.

Save the Children is a good charity to give to if you are able to. Islamic Relief USA is a good charity for a variety of reasons.

Syria is one of the few news events in my lifetime that always makes me stop and think whenever I see something about it. Something like that going on in the world I live in at the same time as social media and Starbucks. Bosnia, Iraq, 9/11, Obama becoming president…none of those grabbed my attention as much as the first time I heard about it three years later. Syria does, I’m not sure why. I’ll still pay attention and try to help in the little way(s) I can, and I hope you will too.

by @anarchyroll
3/13/2014

The situation in the Ukraine has been getting a lot of press, and justifiably so. A potential hot war involving Russia has implications as far reaching as it gets in the political and violence realm. While the situation in the Ukraine has been deteriorating since December, another situation involving civil unrest and government instability has been brewing in Venezuela. In February, the unrest boiled over.

Political unrest in Venezuela has been going on for some time. The unrest that has been boiling over in the streets of Caracus has been brewing for over a decade while now Hugo Chàvez was still alive. Chàvez’s successor, current President Nicholàs Madura won a very close, very disputed election in the spring of last year. He came into office during an economic depression in which food, milk, and other essentials such as toilet paper are in short supply across the entire country.

The situation has boiled over in the last several months. According to Al Jazeera a female student claimed was sexually assaulted, causing a wave of protests to begin. Why? Rape is bad, but protests of sexual assault don’t usually lead to violent protests that put a government on the brink of collapse. According to The New Republic, the university had been asking the government for better security for over a year to combat rampant crime in the area.

In the eyes of the majority of the people of Venezuela, the government is unable to provide them with food, water, shelter, employment, or safety. The sexual assault at ULA’s Táchira in San Cristóbal sent the boiling water frothing over the edge.

February 4th is when the protests started. February 13th is when they turned violent. How? Why? By whom? Has been disputed in so many conflicting reports I honestly can’t say. From what I’ve gathered by the data I’ve read, it would seem that the protesters pushed a little too hard, and the police/military used deadly force to push back. The human condition always wins out no matter how civil we think we are.

Since the protests turned violent a month ago 50 people have died. Madura has ordered all US diplomats out of the country claiming the US is involved in a conspiracy against his Socialist Party along with the far right party members of Venezuela. The leader of the protest movement Leopoldo Lopez turned himself into police. The charges against him have been reduced from terrorism to arson but President Madura continues to call the college aged protestors terrorists. Bashir Al-Assad of Syria says the same thing of the protesting civilians of his country where his military has killed 100,000 civilians in the past three years.

In Venezuela; the economic depression continues, the political unrest continues, the protests continue, the violence continues. There is no end in sight, there are no simple answers. Surprised? Well, welcome to Post 2008 1st World Earth.

by @anarchyroll
1/30/2014

The West Virginia chemical spill is the gift that keeps on giving, by gift, I mean knee in the proverbial testicles.  It turns out the effects of the chemical that spilled (MCHM) has NOT been tested in relation to its effects on humans.

Bad right? Ready for the good news? The effects aren’t even known to the company responsible for the spill. Not that they tested the chemical and suppressed the results, they never even did a study. The company that created the chemical (Eastman Chemical Company) did a study of the effects on rats, but hasn’t publicly disclosed the results before OR after the spill.

How is this possible? How is this legal? Because MCHM was “grandfathered” in when the Toxic Substances Control Act passed in 1976.  What is the point of regulation if there are 64 exemptions to it?

Lack of knowledge of the effects, no regulation, no labels or information provided to ordinary citizens…sounds like GMO foods to me. I guess Monsanto took their cues from DOW Chemical.

by @anarchyroll

I first started paying attention to the civil war in Syria when the body count was 3,000. Back then it wasn’t yet a civil war, there was no Free Syrian Army to begin with, so it hadn’t yet splintered off into seven separate factions. I had heard that essentially the Syrian people were trying to do what the people of Egypt did during the Arab Spring of 2011. The difference in this case was, the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad ordered his military to open fire and execute all of the protesting civilians. I noticed each day the body count went up by the hundreds, not by the dozens. I noticed when the body count exceeded that of 9/11/01.

I never stopped paying attention to Syria, anyone who frequents my Twitter account would certainly agree with me. The sheer numbers of dead, wounded, and refugees has never ceased to boggle my mind. What happened in Libya and Egypt definitely led to me focusing even more on Syria. I think, without judgment, those two had the opposite effect on most people. I understand completely the fatigue of the American public after over a full decade of seeing wars in the Middle East. Afghanistan and Iraq, each day a new bombing, another dozen or more dead, more money spent (or missing) abroad, more fear mongering at home. I empathize rather than demonize the public who just seem to not care about Syria, after all there is no oil there.

The American public’s desire to not care about Syria was only aided by the fact that the main stream media didn’t focus on the country’s civil war, despite the staggering body count, until after the sarin gas attack last month. If you get your news from the internet, then you can’t not know about Syria for at least a full year. Even the websites of NBC, CBS, FOX News, and CNN have had regular stories about the conflict, the television stations they are subsidiaries of however, did not. If you get your news from newspapers or magazines, you’ve known about Syria since maybe the beginning of this year. TIME magazine, the New York Times, and Chicago Tribune have all had front page stories on Syria that I have seen with my own eyes.

Now, in September of 2013 only the young and the ignorant don’t know about the situation in Syria. It is the lead story online, in print, and on television. Local news, national news, cable news are all leading with Syria. I am happy that the light is finally getting shined on this very bleak and black news story. The death and destruction match any conflict in recent memory. Syria’s civil war is not an indie band that  just got signed to a major label, I’m not proud that I was calling for US intervention before it was cool. But I am a supporter of US intervention.

I was not a supporter of Operation Desert Storm or it’s much less successful sequel. I was a supporter of  intervention in Kosovo. I was not a supporter of invading Afghanistan after 9/11 since it was not a country that attacked the United States. I was a supporter of the small scale, special operation, tactical assassination of Osama bin Laden which I believe should be the blueprint for all of the military presence of the United States in the Middle East for the last decade should have been. I was not a supporter of our involvement in Libya. I am a supporter of the intervention in Syria.

I wish I had a year and a half backlog of blogs and articles to show the consistency of my stance on this issue, but I don’t. I wish all of my writings on the topic would give me some credibility with anyone who reads this article, but I don’t. I haven’t been writing for anything other than academic purposes for the last two years. Syria is a major factor in changing that. I thought the United States military should have intervened over a year ago. We have after all, along with the United Nations, been arming the rebels. That is going half pregnant, either we support the rebels or we don’t. Since Obama has proven to be just as much a supporter of the Military Industrial Complex as his predecessors, then let’s put that machine to use when literally hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians are being slaughtered.

I long for the day we as a country are officially isolationist, with an eye on the military operations of other countries akin to what is happening in outer space. The money we need to pump into our schools, bridges, roads, and social safety net programs is being spent on a rubber stamped military industrial complex budget every year. I will be the first to say spend that money at home and not abroad. I’d love to have an embassy in every country and not a military base. Until that day comes, and by day I mean peaceful upheaval of basically everyone in power in national office, America is the World Police. If we are going to play World Police so we can control the price of oil, then we can play world police for thousands of innocent civilians being slaughtered every day.

What should be and what is, believe it or not aren’t always the same thing. I think it is the right thing to do to get the chemical weapons from being used against civilians, and we should do something to help all of the refugees. I’ll have much more to write on Syria, so I won’t write a novel’s worth of material in this one post. I am happy to be in a position where I both want to and can go on writing for a long period of time. It was a long trip to get to this point. I needed to reignite the fire within me that had dimmed to a searing hot coal. I needed flames, the situations involving Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden applied the gasoline after Syria stoked the ambers…