First from Reuters, which has not always been very even-handed in reporting economic news, a pretty decent report:
Consumers bright, Midwest business strong in Sept
By Ros Krasny
CHICAGO (Reuters) - U.S. consumer spending slipped in August but falling gasoline prices elevated shoppers' moods by September and Midwest factory activity picked up as well, according to reports on Friday that suggested the economy was still motoring along.
Meanwhile, consumer prices outside food and energy edged up just 0.2 percent in August, although year-on-year price gains hit an 11-year high, offering a mixed reading on inflation.
Poor Martin Crutsinger of the Associated Press, on the other hand, must have had a lot of pent-up negativity to get out before the weekend commences, as he took the same data and turned it into what Jim Taranto at Best of the Web described thusly: "If we didn't know better, we'd think we were heading for another Great Depression."
Remember the Reuters news vehicle that was fired upon, but not directly hit by an Israeli helicopter gunship while acting suspiciously near Israeli positions in Gaza?
The Israeli Government Press Office is now stating that they believe
armored vehicles licensed to news agencies, such as the Reuters vehicle
attacked, might be being used by terrorist groups to launch attacks against Israel:
Armored vehicles that were given to foreign news agencies operating in
the country with the authorization of the State of Israel, may be used
by hostile groups to carry out terror attacks against Israel, Director
of the Government Press Office Danny Seaman warned in a letter
addressed to Shin Bet Head Yuval Diskin.
On August 27 an Israel Defense Forces helicopter hit an armored
vehicle that belonged to the Reuters news agency in Gaza. According to
Seaman, the incident illustrated the failures in overseeing the use of
armored vehicles granted to the foreign media agencies with the
permission of the State.
The vehicle's presence in Gaza in itself constituted a violation of its
license terms, and moreover, the jeep was carrying only Palestinians –
one with links to Hamas who was not a Reuters employee.
This story about a Vietnamese man who was a spy for the communists during the war as well as a reporter for Reuters and Time magazine is nothing short of an outrage. It also makes you wonder how many agents for totalitarianism are working in the press today. An's assertions of impartiality are all too familar as well. (An old MRC MediaWatch item on him is here.)
HANOI, Vietnam - Pham Xuan An, who led a remarkable and perilous double life as a communist spy and a respected reporter for Western news organizations during the Vietnam War, died Wednesday at age 79. [...]
In the history of wartime espionage, few were as successful as An. He straddled two worlds for most of the 15-year war in Indochina as an undercover communist agent while also working as a journalist, first for Reuters news service and later for 10 years as Time magazine's chief Vietnamese reporter — a role that gave him access to military bases and background briefings.
He was so well-known for his sources and insight that many Americans who knew him suspected he worked for the CIA.
Before Saigon fell to the communists, An worked to help friends escape, including South Vietnam's former security chief who feared death if he was found by northern forces. An later revealed his true identity as a Viet Cong commander, but said he never reported any false information or communist propaganda while in his role as a journalist.
AP Photographer Flees Fallujah Witnesses US Helicopter Kill Fleeing Family of 5
by Katarina Kratovac
BAGHDAD, Iraq - In the weeks before the crushing military assault on his hometown, Bilal Hussein sent his parents and brother away from Fallujah to stay with relatives.
The 33-year-old Associated Press photographer stayed behind to capture insider images during the siege of the former insurgent stronghold.
Thrilled, because along with several mil blogs, I followed the Fallujah battle intensely, including with maps. See here and over a dozen links at bottom. But to the point. Here's Bilal's dramatic account of his escape from Fallujah. Jolan, his neighborhood was a hotbed of terrorists, they were being killed there in large groups the very day he fled.
Via LGF comes this report from the paragons of neutrality at Reuters:
LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime
Minister Tony Blair launched a withering attack on Thursday on what he
called “mad anti-Americanism” among European politicians.
Blair, U.S. President George W. Bush’s closest ally in the so-called war on terror, said the world urgently needs the United States to help tackle the globe’s most pressing problems. [...]
Blair, accused by critics of being Bush’s poodle who slavishly follows Washington’s line,
sought to stifle a revolt in his ruling Labour Party last week by
promising to quit within a year after almost 10 years in office.
There has been quite a bit of debate in the blogosphere surrounding this story (note: link has been deactivated) of several days ago:
An Israeli air strike hit a Reuters vehicle in Gaza City on Saturday,
wounding two journalists as they covered a military incursion, doctors
and residents said.
One of the Palestinian journalists, who worked for a local media
organization, was seriously wounded. A cameraman working for Reuters
was knocked unconscious in the air strike, one of several in the area.
Reuters claims this armored car was hit by two missiles from an Israeli helicopter.
As you can see, Isreal's new missiles are quite different than the
standard Hellfire and TOW ATGMs of the past, both of which, designed
for tanks, would have minced an armored car such as this one. Ths
armored car is said to have been hit not once, but twice by missiles, and the only apparent damage is a hole that seems to be surrounded by rust. Corrosion, or explosion?
I think it is fairly obvious that if the Israelis did fire two
missiles at this armor car, that the car did not take a direct hit.
Tanks can't survive the ATGMs Israel uses on their helicopters, and
armored cars have much thinner armor than tanks. It would have cut
through one side, detonated, and left a shattered, burning hulk. There
was no explosion, and even a dud would have completely punched through
the vehicle, exiting the other side with a noticable hole. The photo
below shows no such penetration on the opposite side.
You would think that Reuters learned its lesson about publishing to the world photos doctored to create a false image. After all, they were caught with multiple false photos from Lebanon, and had to take down more than 900 images from one stringer. Reuters promised it would have "experienced editors" look at all such photos in the future.
Has Reuters kept that promise? Apparently not.
Today, 26 August 2006, Reuters ran a photo captioned: "A French United Nations vehicle drives past a photo of Hizbollah leader .... Nasrallah, in Tyre...." The power of the photo is that the poster-sized image of a smiling Nasrallah is looking right at, and smiling at, an apparently white flag flying on the French vehicle.
The pot is calling the kettle black again. Syndicated news agency Reuters, the eponym behind the "Reutergate" (or "Reutersgate" if you follow the Drudge model) photo scandal, now says scandals "rock" the post-war Israeli government.
The president is locked in a sex scandal, the justice minister is quitting over a purported stolen kiss, the prime minister is haunted by a property deal and the country's top general is under fire for stock trading.
Welcome to Israel, after the war.
With a ceasefire in Israel's bitter battles with Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas in effect for nearly a week, Israeli media have turned the spotlight on a series of scandals.
I first raised the question of a possible relationship between the two journalists who corroborated each others accounts of an Israeli drone attack on a civilian convoy fleeing Marjayoun in south Lebanon here. In separatestories for their respective new organizations the brothers, Lotfallah (AP) and Karamallah Daher (Reuters), corroborated each others' accounts of the attack, but neither Reuters nor AP mentioned that they are related, much less twin brothers.
This morning's Washington Post features a Reuters wire service story by one Parisa Hafezi about the Iranian Holocaust Cartoon exhibition that just opened in Teheran ("Iranian Exhibit Takes On the Holocaust"). The reporter gives the idea that the competition and exhibit are all about challenging the Holocaust and testing free speech.
"This is a test of the boundaries of free speech espoused by Western countries," Masoud Shojai, head of the Cartoon House, which helped organize the exhibition, said as he stood next to the Statue of Liberty drawing.
In fact. almost all the cartoons equate Israel or the US with the Nazis, as part of Teheran's ongoing propaganda war against the Jews. The point isn't to question the Holocaust - the point is to deligitimize Israel. In fact, most of the cartoon implicitly accept the Holocaust as true, otherwise the comparisons of Sharon to Hitler wouldn't make any sense.
First Reuters had a photo scandal to face. Now Go Pundit Go has discovered that Reuters is currently employing a former writer for the People’s Daily World, a Communist Party USA publication. And it turns out his propagandistic tendencies haven't left him, as he recently wrote a glowing review in the Financial Times on how Cubans are dealing with their leader's poor health:
"Cuba remained calm on Sunday as people engaged in voluntary work, cleaned neighbourhoods and donated blood in Mr Castro’s honour."
You can see Marc Frank's latest Reuters work here.
According to Reuters photographer Zohra Bensemra, an elderly injured
woman lies injured in the ruins of her house, awaiting rescue as
Let's for a moment try to look past the staging elements that we've become accustomed to searching for over the past weeks.
Ignore for a moment the fact that a wounded elderly woman in a
bombed out building is unlikely to be in the kind of physical condition
needed to drag several pristine sofa pillows through the rubble and
make a bed out of them. Look past the fact that she, in her weakened
condition, has found a nearly spotless black blanket in the fine gray
dust of a bombed out building to cover her legs against the 80 degree
cold. Ignore the conveniently-placed bottled water she somehow found
intact and had for the middle photo only.
It is hard to overstate the importance of what Little Green Footballs' site operator Charles Johnson learned from a clearly knowledgeable person in the news business, and revealed in a post yesterday morning. Anyone who attempts to understand events in the Middle East but is unaware of what Johnson has exposed is being shortchanged, and very likely misled.
Now Johnson has expanded what began as a "narrow" photojournalism controversy into an expose of how, for decades, the news we receive from the most volatile region in the world has, in exchange for what looks an awful lot like bribery, been twisted and controlled to meet a pro-Arab, pro-terorist, anti-Israel agenda.
Quick Take: Reuters' initial reaction to the UK airliner bomb plot arrests was to tie it to Tony Blair and Israel's actions in Lebanon. A later story, perhaps in response to blog criticism of the original, added the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as "reasons." Nowhere is the idea that Islamic Jihadism, independent of day-to-day events in the Middle East, is involved. More important, and worse -- Articles containing speculation gone wild are allowed to go out disguised as "objective" news pieces.
Here, from The Washington Post at 2:13 AM (article saved to my hard drive to guard against the "memory-hole effect) are three paragraphs from a Reuters story on the UK airliner bomb plot arrests (paras 9, 10, and 11):
Following the arrests, security at all British airports was increased and additional security measures put in place for all flights.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has come under strong criticism at home and abroad for following the U.S. lead and refusing to call for an immediate ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Lebanese Hizbollah guerrillas.
The security alert comes 13 months after four Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport network on July 7 last year.
The fauxtography scandal is blowing out of control as proof after proof rolls in how much of the self-described photojournalism coming out of Lebanon is illegitimate. If you're a blogger (or are reading some) covering the story, drop me an email at email@example.com and I'll include a link in this roundup. And of course, you can link in the comments as well. Comments are now open to unregistered users.
UPDATE 6:25. After an overnight hardware failure, NB is back up and running. The links will begin momentarily.
UPDATE 6:38. Snapped Shot is another blog worth checking out. Keep those links coming, folks!
UPDATE 7:05. Via NB reader Geepers comes this link to a German TV news show proving that the infamous Salam Daher, aka "greenhelmetguy," is a stage manager for Hezbollah. The video shows him rehearsing the removal of a body from an ambulance and giving directions to the camera operator.
That truth is the first casualty of war has been borne home by the proliferating 'fauxtography' scandal of photographs of the current Middle East crisis doctored or staged so as to portray Israel in the worst possible light. At this point, can we look at any image from the area without a good dose of doubt?
Take this morning's report on the Today show. NBC's Richard Engel, in Tyre, Lebanon, reported that:
"The fighting has made humanitarian relief efforts almost impossible. Israel has cut roads and attacked vehicles, isolating Hezbollah and everyone else."
This was followed by a clip of the unidentified individual pictured here. Judging by his words and accent, he might have been a Red Cross official. He asserted:
"Lots of people have died because they just couldn't make it to a hospital in time. Ambulances clearly marked with the Red Cross were hit right in the middle of the roof of the car. The Red Cross stands for protection and neutrality. This should not have happened."
Bloggers—and to a much lesser extent some media outlets—have paid
considerable attention to specific examples of media manipulation in
the war being fought between Hezbollah and the IDF in Lebanon and
Israel, but we seem be under-covering the overall framing of the
media's coverage, particularly when it comes to the subject matter
chosen for coverage.
This comes into sharp relief when contrasted against the coverage
we've become used to from the war in Iraq, particularly as it relates
to the media coverage allowed and provided by two different
insurgencies in Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iraq's predominately Sunni
In Iraq, we’ve become somewhat used to embedded reporters reporting
from both sides of the conflict with a fairly wide latitude to operate.
Stringers, both print media and photographers, have occasionally
embedded within the insurgency, providing coverage from ambushes and
sniper's nests alike. The insurgents themselves often seem to be media
hungry, filming operations themselves and often releasing the tapes to
the media or producing them on DVDs for public consumption in Iraq and
throughout the Middle East.
By and large, the vast majority of video reporting allowed and
encouraged by the Iraqi insurgency is combat-related. IED ambushes are
particularly popular, often released as montages set to Islamist music
as propaganda videos. The Iraqi insurgents have often seemed intent on
portraying themselves as rebel forces actively waging a war for the
people, whether or not the people would always agree.
Hezbollah, however, seems to be fighting a different kind of media war.
For those that are interested, Charles Johnson, the proprietor of Little Green Footballs, was interviewed on CNN earlier today. He discussed at length the issue of Adnan Hajj, the Lebanese photographer at the center of Reutersgate.
It’s not just the doctored photos. Apart from the most recent travesty of journalistic ethics, it's worth recalling how Reuters has also tilted its words in favor of those who promote terror and misery around the world.
For example, Iraqis compelled to vote for Saddam Hussein back in 2002 were “defiant” and in a “festive mood,” while Saddam’s capture by U.S. forces a year later was marked by “resentment...of life under U.S. occupation.”
For Reuters’ editors, the first anniversary of 9/11 was a reminder that “human rights around the world” have been a “casualty” of the war on terror, while the second anniversary was a time to point out how “sympathy [for America] soured” as the U.S. actually fought back against the forces of darkness.
In the ongoing investigation of a Lebanese photographer that has been caught with his hand in the Photoshop jar as reported by NewsBusters here and here, Reuters has made the following announcement:
Reuters withdrew all 920 photographs by a freelance Lebanese photographer from its database on Monday after an urgent review of his work showed he had altered two images from the conflict between Israel and the armed group Hizbollah.
Global Picture Editor Tom Szlukovenyi called the measure precautionary but said the fact that two of the images by photographer Adnan Hajj had been manipulated undermined trust in his entire body of work.
Apparently, Reuters is taking this very seriously:
This one is pretty amazing (hat tip to Drudge). At 8:29AM ET Monday, Reuters reported that 40 people were killed in a Lebanese village by Israeli air strikes. Less than three hours later, the Associated Press reported that the number of casualties had been dropped to one. Here’s the first report:
"An hour ago, a horrific massacre took place in Houla village as a result of the intentional Israeli bombardment that resulted in more than 40 martyrs," Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told an emergency Arab foreign ministers meeting in Beirut.
Residents of Houla said they feared up to 60 people, including many children, had been killed. They said most of the people were shepherds who had refused to flee the fighting.
It’s one thing when an obviously deluded shill suggests that Americans are stupid because they disagree with him as reported by NewsBusters Saturday. However, it is quite another thing when the largest wire service in the country does it.
Yet, that’s exactly what transpired when the Associated Press published a report Sunday evening entitled “Half of U.S. Still Believes Iraq Had WMD”: “Half of America apparently still thinks so, a new poll finds, and experts see a raft of reasons why: a drumbeat of voices from talk radio to die-hard bloggers to the Oval Office, a surprise headline here or there, a rallying around a partisan flag, and a growing need for people, in their own minds, to justify the war in Iraq.”
Much like CNN’s Jack Cafferty the day before, AP didn’t offer the possibility that many of these believers feel Saddam moved his weapons to Syria or elsewhere before the invasion began. Such was certainly not on the mind of AP writer Charles J. Hanley, who, instead, wanted to make the case that Americans are just deluding themselves:
Last night's report by Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs that a "Beirut burning" photo that was clearly and clumsily doctored with Photoshop editing tools had made it way onto the wires from Reuters has morphed into what must be considered a full-blown scandal that should, by rights, shake the news service and other "Mainstream" Media outlets to their very foundations, and force them to reexamine how they conduct and control their photojournalistic efforts around the world.
Consider just some of what has happened in the 24 hours or so since my NewsBusters post very early Sunday morning:
Reuters has "dropped" the freelance Lebanese journalist after the image in question was shown to be doctored:
The wire service offered perhaps the lamest excuse ever offered in the history of photojournalism for Adnan Hajj, the photographer involved --
The headline had me laughing before I even read the article:
"Michael Moore says gets lots of Republican hugs"
I'm thinking it must be a slow news day. But then I read the article and realize that the entire article reads like a press release for Moore, himself.
Michael Moore -- gadfly filmmaker, liberal activist and political lightning rod -- says he finds himself being hugged by a lot of Republicans these days.
So who are these Republicans he speaks of? Does the article identify any?
...the Oscar-winning director says he is approached all the time by conservatives ready to make peace.
Ok, so who are they? Names? Descriptions? Anything....?
Some in solidly Republican northern Michigan and elsewhere now believe that they made a "colossal mistake" in initially supporting the war in Iraq, Moore said, and they have let him know it in chance encounters on the streets of Traverse City, a resort town where he has relocated from New York.
Guess we folks at NewsBusters and at our parent organization, Media Research Center, can go home. Our work is done. Not only is the media not controlled by liberals, it's actually . . . dominated by the right wing. For that matter, it has been for decades! If only we had known, we could have saved ourselves all this trouble.
How did I learn this? From Arshad Hasan, of Democracy for America, the group Howard Dean founded at the end of his candidacy, and that has as its stated goal "to rebuild the Democratic Party." Dean's brother Jim serves at its chair.
Arshad was nice enough to send me an email this morning [OK, I signed up for their list], informing me of the exciting news that DFA is working "to take back our media" and that for such purposes will be conducting online 'DFA Night School' sessions to cover the following subjects:
With Mexicans going to the polls today to elect a new president, Reuters leaves little doubt as to whom it's pulling for: Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, of the Democratic Revolution Party The headline tells you all you need to know, but here are a few choice excerpts to flesh out the picture of an heroic 'leftist' bringing hope to the little people, versus the other major candidate, Felipe Calderon, who is given the shortest of shrift, merely being described once, and then only as a 'conservative.' Nuff said!
"When the air reeks of sewage, rain makes your street look like a ploughed field and month-long water shortages mean even bucket baths are sometimes a luxury, a flushing toilet can be a dream worth voting for. A two hour commute from downtown Mexico City on the putrid periphery of a vast urban sprawl, many in this town of housemaids and security guards will vote for a leftist in Sunday's presidential election, hoping he will change their lives." [Intead of a chicken in every pot, a potty in every house?]
"Lopez Obrador gave cash handouts to elderly and disabled people and single-parent families as Mexico City mayor. He has promised to spread those programs throughout Mexico while boosting incomes through welfare payments and fuel price cuts." [Nothing like handouts and more welfare to get an economy going!]