Monthly Archives: March 2010

A borrowed bit of info

          Here’s a piece from a Daily Kos diarist about how Fox News covered the President’s signing of the Health Care Reform Act. Just in case any of you are still harboring any thought that Fox may be either FAIR or BALANCED:

I’m just going to let the facts speak for themselves on this one — to borrow a phrase, I’ll report, and you decide. At issue: the lead segment of Fox’s first “news” broadcast after President Obama signed the landmark health care reform legislation into law.

The segment was almost eight minutes long, but less than half a minute was spent on the bill signing. There was no reporting whatsoever on the actual consequences of the legislation’s passage or the road ahead on reconciliation.

Here’s a tick-tock I put together so you can see at a glance what Fox covered:

First: Kelly spends 50 seconds teasing upcoming segments
      – Release of 9/11 organizer?
      – Brit Hume on attacks on Pelosi, Biden dropping f-bomb
      – Volcanic eruption in Iceland
Second: Kelly spends six minutes reporting five stories
      – Report on air travel overhau-l 65 seconds;
       – Attacks on climate legislation- 35 seconds
       – Obama signs reform bill with Pelosi standing- 25 seconds
       – New poll shows top Democrats like Pelosi are unpopular- 60 seconds
       – ACORN national organization shutting down- 175 seconds
Third: Kelly spends another 60 seconds teasing upcoming segments
     – 9/11 organizer released?
      – Volcanic eruption in Iceland
       As you can see, the story that received the most coverage (with nearly three minutes of airtime) was a report on ACORN folding its national operations. A report on a poll purporting to show the unpopularity of Democrats got more than twice as much coverage as the bill signing.

         I have to admit, I can’t watch Fox News as it airs because if I watch more than a few minutes at a time I want to pull off my ears and climb under my covers forever, so I have to watch the bits and pieces that find their way to YouTube or that are replayed on Olberman or Rachel Maddow or in the lefty blogs.
         Because I can’t watch it for myself, I don’t know how much coverage they actually have given to other stories floating around the blogosphere; the five episodes that the FBI is investigating, for instance, regarding threats against “Democrat” lawmakers’ children who vote for the Health Care Bill.
          I’m curious as to how much coverage they’ve given to the likes of the tea bagger/militia freaks who are advocating (and acting out) throwing bricks through the windows of progressive legislators and organizations all over the country.
          I wonder what the chatterbugs on Fox are saying about the ignorant lunatics who are encouraging those who disagree with Health Care supporters to take their guns to the streets…in particular, the streets of Washington D.C. on April 19….IN HONOR of the Waco/Ruby Ridge/Oklahoma City tragedies, of course. (Whaaaaaaat?)

       My instincts tell me that their coverage has been less than enthusiastic, considering the latest Harris poll, which surveyed 2,230 people right at the height of the health-care reform debate, shows how Republicans feel overall about President Obama:
          • 67 percent of Republicans (and 40 percent of Americans overall) believe that Obama is a   socialist.
          • 57 percent of Republicans (32 percent overall) believe that Obama is a Muslim
          • 45 percent of Republicans (25 percent overall) agree with the Birthers in their belief that  Obama was “not born in the United States and so is not eligible to be president”
          • 38 percent of Republicans (20 percent overall) say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did”
          • Scariest of all, 24 percent of Republicans (14 percent overall) say that Obama “may be the Antichrist.” (Again….Whaaaaaaat?)
           The poll also clearly shows that education makes a difference in how people respond to this kind of garbage- people without a college education are much more likely to believe such claims, while Americans with college degrees or better are less easily duped.
           But then again, the Republican belief that only those people deemed by God (or the leaders of the Republican Party) to be worthy should be allowed to be educated reveals its value here.   Because how much easier is it to behave without fear of consequences if “the people” are wallowing in their own stupidity and not paying attention? The strategy of promoting a constituency happy to remain willfully ignorant of actual policy or fact in favor of forming opinions based on personality has had an impact, to be sure, although whether or not that impact is the one they were looking for is still a question.
       I do wonder what will happen when those angry people wake up and realize how much the “worthy” politicians they follow like sheep actually despise them. Or how they will react when they discover that the “information” they’ve been fed has actually been a series of smoke and mirrors intended to keep them in the dark.
       Waterloo, indeed.

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The subject of diamonds….

        My birthday is today.  Danny and I went out with some good friends last night, the kids and grandbaby came over tonight, and  it was a really lovely, easygoing weekend.   It was not without a little controversy, however! 

         On Friday afternoon, before our dinner date, my husband of thirty years presented me with a birthday gift that was as surprising as it was beautiful.  He gave me a pair of  rose colored gold teardrop earrings, the center filled with clusters of little diamonds.  And as amazing as they are, and as thoughtful as my husband was trying to be, I’ve decided that I cannot accept them, and have asked him to take them back.  When I told this to my friends on Friday night, their mouths dropped open and they looked at me like I’m crazy.  My kids think I’m crazy, but they also say they aren’t surprised,  and Danny, while he was a little pissed off at first, now says he totally understands….I’m hoping that’s true! 

        So why am I not accepting such a loving gift?  Well,  I hate to admit it, but this is truly a political position; its a position I also have to admit that I’m sort of surprised that I feel so strongly about.  But if you know anything about diamonds, and the diamond industry, those shiny little pieces of rock tend to lose their luster when you realize how enmeshed they are in violence, war, greed, and unbelieveable crimes against humanity.  Just a few pictures edited together by a young woman I found on youtube:

http://video.aol.com/video-detail/conflict-diamonds/2962276781

While jewelers in the U.S. are quick to reassure consumers of diamonds that the war in Sierra Leone is over, and that they have all signed an agreement not to traffic in blood/conflict diamonds, the watchdog group Global Witness, which has been monitoring the diamond trade since the year 2000, counters:

 From GLOBAL WITNESS on Feb. 8, 2010

Tainted Love: blood diamonds still cast shadow over Valentines Day

“Consumer pressure will be vital to ensure that the diamond industry finally acts to eliminate conflict diamonds once and for all,” said Elly Harrowell, campaigner at Global Witness.  “Some progress has been made in recent years but the unpalatable truth is that around the world civilians are still suffering terribly as a consequence of the diamond trade.”

In 2003, following a global outcry about the problem of conflict diamonds, an international certification scheme was established to monitor the trade. Countries who signed up to the Kimberley Process were obliged to demonstrate that their diamonds were not bankrolling brutality and conflict. 

 The polished and retail sectors of the diamond industry opposed stringent government regulation when the Kimberley Process was being negotiated, and the industry was left to police itself.

         International diamond trade bodies have issued countless press releases and statements claiming that the problem has been solved, but have provided little information on what they have actually done to fix it and fulfill their promises. Despite vast profits made by many in the diamond industry ( – in 2005 diamond jewelry sales were over US $60 billion -) little has been invested to ensure that blood diamonds will not be able to enter the legitimate trade. (By the way, NONE of the money gathered by the diamond merchants has made it to the people who spend their lives digging up the diamonds.  As a matter of fact, almost none of the men, women and children who work in the diamond mining industry has ever even seen a polished diamond!)

 From The Diamond High Council (HRD) (the official representative of the Belgian diamond industry) 

“Experts agree that today it is scientifically not possible to determine the exact origin of an individual diamond.  Although projects are in development, it will take several years before a technique will be operational for commercial purposes.

In order to respect the embargo and end the conflicts, workable and immediately applicable solutions had to be found.  That was done through a system of certifications, established by the legitimate governments. As it appears that certificates can also be forged and diamonds could be commercialised through third countries, a more global solution has to be found.”

The HRD Conclusion:

“One cannot blame the diamond industry not to be able to prevent every small scale smuggling across the African borders and at the same time close the eyes for tanks and aircrafts full of weapons crossing that same border in the opposite direction. And a conflict needs oil, if it isn’t in the ground as natural resource then to fuel military machinery. The only difference between a diamond and a conflict diamond is the conflict. End the conflict and there are only diamonds, diamonds that bring prosperity for producing countries.”

Hmmm….yes, well,  for me, that means there will  be no diamonds. 

 

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