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BBC’s Adam Curtis’ Fluck Up

Every once in a while there’s an opinion piece so grossly naive, horribly uninformed, or passively apologetic that it deserves pushback.

BBC’s Adam Curtis’ blog post, WHAT THE FLUCK [sic], is such a piece. Read it for yourself. I’m still scratching my head about this overlong, winding post that ultimately says,

“…Maybe today we are being farmed by the new system of power. But we can’t see quite how it is happening – and we need a new journalism to explain what is really going on. …”

No. We have the right journalism, even if it is not perfect or dispersed evenly, even if we could use more of it. The Guardian’s work on the Snowden story is just one example; if I may say so, Emptywheel sets another fine example as citizen journalism.

What we need is a public willing to invest time and energy in reading the material reported, discuss it openly after careful analysis, willing to demand and support more good journalism by way of subscription, donation, or advertising revenues as a last resort.

What we don’t need are naive or uninformed opinion leaders who tell us we don’t have journalism reporting about the size, scale, and nature of the corruption we face.

What we don’t need are apologias masquerading as demands for more and better journalism.

Curtis’ piece in particular does several things to muddy the public’s perception about journalism today:

• He throws us a narrative about poor little rich girl Tamara Yeardye Mellon and her father that is not unlike reading about poor little Paris Hilton, or poor little Kardashian Annoying-Sister-Of-The-Day. The narrative utterly misses a critical point, derailing its own effort, yet he feels the public need more backstory narrative in order to really understand today’s challenges..

• Rupert Murdoch is treated as if he was handed a bag of flaming dog poo by his editorial predecessor, dealing with the mess in the best manner he could — as if cellphone hacking by Murdoch’s employees was mere fallout inherited immaculately by Murdoch.

• Curtis ignores his own role, using his bully pulpit to complain about an absence of reporting he is capable of providing instead of this meandering whinge.

With regard to Tamara Mellon’s allegedly lost control over of her luxe shoe business Jimmy Choo Limited to Phoenix Private Equity, Curtis failed to note that not even a Mellon family member is safe from predation. Even a Mellon can be made into a corporate vulture’s bitch.

What does this tell us about the nature of the beast? Read more

Gilani to BBC: Zardari to Remain in Dubai Hospital Two More Weeks

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousef Raza Gilani granted an extended interview to BBC on Sunday.

Although many important topics were covered in the interview, the subject of the health of Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zaradari was perhaps the most crucial.  The health part of the interview starts at around 1:50 of the video.  I find it interesting that Gilani states that Zardari has now been moved from the ICU to “his room” at the hospital.  If I recall correctly, early reports had stated that Zardari was in the ICU in order to cut down on the number of visitors. Gilani’s reference to this move to a regular room appears to be more in the context of Zardari’s recovery, so now there is reason to believe that Zardari’s health when he arrived in Dubai was poor enough to warrant an extended stay in the ICU.

Gilani rejected outright the rumors that Zardari has suffered a stroke.  Those rumors have persisted on Twitter for the entire time that Zardari has been hospitalized.

Most importantly, though, is Gilani’s statement that Zardari now will “take rest” and that the rest will be for “about two weeks”.  Recall that when it was first revealed that Zardari was hospitalized in Dubai, the story was that he had suffered a mild heart attack and that he had undergone angioplasty.  In my post about that news, I had this to say:

It should be kept in mind that if Zardari did suffer a mild heart attack and then was treated with angioplasty, patients in this situation often are discharged from the hospital the next day and are usually free to resume normal activities fairly quickly. Should the hospitalization continue into next week, then either the status of Zardari’s health or the status of the political situation should be assumed to be different from what has been reported.

If we were to work only from the assumption that this was a mild heart attack followed by angioplasty, then Zardari remaining in Dubai for two more weeks would seem to point pretty strongly to the likelihood that Zardari has deemed it either not safe or not prudent for his return to Pakistan.  However, that interpretation is complicated by Gilani linking Zardari’s shift out of the ICU as part of his recovery.  A stay of four or five days in the ICU is not consistent with the initial health status that was reported.  As a result, it appears that we are stuck in a holding pattern where we cannot fully ascribe Zardari’s extended hospital stay as wholly health-dependent or wholly politics-dependent. Read more

BBC Documentary Exposes ISI Training, Equipping of Taliban Militants

For just over a month, the US and Pakistan have been struggling to deal with tensions created by former Joint Chiefs Chairman Michael Mullen’s testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee where he stated flatly that Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency directly aids militants who attack US interests in Afghanistan.  Wednesday night, BBC Two aired part one of its “Secret Pakistan” documentary, providing detailed evidence that supports Mullen’s accusations.

From BBC News, we get some details on the disclosures in the documentary:

Pakistan has repeatedly denied the claims. But the BBC documentary series Secret Pakistan has spoken to a number of middle-ranking – and still active – Taliban commanders who provide detailed evidence of how the Pakistan ISI has rebuilt, trained and supported the Taliban throughout its war on the US in Afghanistan.

“For a fighter there are two important things – supplies and a place to hide,” said one Taliban commander, who fights under the name Mullah Qaseem. “Pakistan plays a significant role. First they support us by providing a place to hide which is really important. Secondly, they provide us with weapons.”

Another commander, Najib, says: “Because Obama put more troops into Afghanistan and increased operations here, so Pakistan’s support for us increased as well.”

He says his militia received a supply truck with “500 landmines with remote controls, 20 rocket-propelled grenade launchers with 2000 to 3000 grenades… AK-47s, machine-guns and rockets”.

Reuters also describes some of the revelations from the program:

Other Taliban commanders described how they and their fighters were, and are, trained in a network of camps on Pakistani soil.

According to a commander using the name Mullah Azizullah, the experts running the training are either members of the ISI or have close links to it.

“They are all the ISI’s men. They are the ones who run the training. First they train us about bombs; then they give us practical guidance,” he said.

The BBC News article also quotes CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who prepared a review of US intelligence on ISI involvement with militants.  Riedel told BBC that the ISI actively supports Taliban militants that carry out actions in Afghanistan.  Riedel also claimed that US drone attacks are now more successful because Pakistan is not given advance warning: Read more