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11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]

11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]

11.16 Scotland was first Industrialized Country to Run wholly on Wind in October

11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]

11.15  The long read:  The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]

11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]

11.15 Trump administration to cut air pollution from heavy-duty trucks

11.14 Backed by Ocasio-Cortez, Youth Climate Activists Arrested in Pelosi's Office Demanding Democrats Embrace 'Green New Deal'

11.13 What would a smog-free city look like?

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]

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11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]

11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]

11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]

11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]

11.17 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare

11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]

11.17 Trump Is Starting to Panic

11.16 As 'Green New Deal' Demand Grows, Democrats Have Choice: Confront and Defeat Fossil Fuel Industry or Take Credit for 'Doomed' Planet [Two choices: Save life-on-Earth or help Republicans let it die?]

11.16 Trump’s latest interview shows a president who’s in way over his head

11.16 Why the political fight in Georgia is far from over

11.16 Florida judge sides with Democrats, giving thousands a second chance to fix their ballots

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11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]

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11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]

11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]

11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]

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11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]

11.17 Saudi crown prince's 'fit' delays UN resolution on war in Yemen

11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]

11.17 CIA finds Saudi crown prince ordered Jamal Khashoggi killing – report

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  Print view: What We Learn From WikiLeaks
MEDIA ADVISORY:

What We Learn From WikiLeaks

Media paint flattering picture of U.S. diplomacy

SOURCE: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
Published orginally on the F.A.I.R. website on Thursday, 16 December 2010
U.S. mainstream media reported only the least controversial of WikiLeaks cables. But the rest of the world got to read/hear of extremely imperialistic and immoral U.S. policymakers.

In U.S. elite media, the main revelation of the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables is that the U.S. government conducts its foreign policy in a largely admirable fashion.

Fareed Zakaria, Time (12/2/10):

The WikiLeaks documents, by contrast [to the Pentagon Papers], show Washington pursuing privately pretty much the policies it has articulated publicly. Whether on Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan or North Korea, the cables confirm what we know to be U.S. foreign policy. And often this foreign policy is concerned with broader regional security, not narrow American interests. Ambassadors are not caught pushing other countries in order to make deals secretly to strengthen the U.S., but rather to solve festering problems.

David Sanger, New York Times (12/5/10):

While WikiLeaks made the trove available with the intention of exposing United States duplicity, what struck many readers was that American diplomacy looked rather impressive. The day-by-day record showed diplomats trying their hardest behind closed doors to defuse some of the world's thorniest conflicts, but also assembling a Plan B.

David Brooks, New York Times (11/30/10):

Despite the imaginings of people like Assange, the conversation revealed in the cables is not devious and nefarious. The private conversation is similar to the public conversation, except maybe more admirable.

New York Times editorial (11/30/10):

But what struck us, and reassured us, about the latest trove of classified documents released by WikiLeaks was the absence of any real skullduggery. After years of revelations about the Bush administration's abuses--including the use of torture and kidnappings--much of the Obama administration's diplomatic wheeling and dealing is appropriate and, at times, downright skillful.

Christopher Dickey and Andrew Bast, Newsweek (12/13/10):

One of the great ironies of the latest WikiLeaks dump, in fact, is that the industrial quantities of pilfered State Department documents actually show American diplomats doing their jobs the way diplomats should, and doing them very well indeed. When the cables detail corruption at the top of the Afghan government, the Saudi king's desire to be rid of the Iranian threat, the personality quirks of European leaders or the state of the Russian mafiacracy, the reporting is very much in line with what the press has already told the public. There's no big disconnect about the facts; no evidence--in the recent cables at least--that the United States government is trying to deceive the public or itself.

Bob Garfield, NPR's On the Media (12/3/10):

The stories so far have been revealing but unsurprising, it seems to me, and not especially indicting. It’s made me wonder whether WikiLeaks is a legitimate whistleblower in this case or just a looter. Has Julian Assange shed light here with the release of 253,000 cables or has he just smashed a very big store window?

Anne Applebaum, Washington Post (12/7/10):

By now, I think we have learned that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has vast ambitions. Among them is the end of American government as we know it. On his website he describes the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables in dramatic and sinister terms, evoking the lost ideals of George Washington and claiming that they demonstrate a profound gap between the United States' "public persona and what it says behind closed doors." Alas, the cables don't live up to that promise. On the contrary--as others have noted--they show that U.S. diplomats pursue pretty much the same goals in private as they do in public, albeit using more caustic language.

These conclusions represent an extraordinarily narrow reading of the WikiLeaks cables, of which about 1,000 have been released (contrary to constant media claims that the website has already released 250,000 cables). Some of the more explosive revelations, unflattering to U.S. policymakers, have received less attention in U.S. corporate media. Among the revelations that, by any sensible reading, show U.S. diplomatic efforts of considerable concern:

  • The U.S. attempted to prevent German authorities from acting on arrest warrants against 13 CIA officers who were instrumental in the abduction and subsequent torture of German citizen Khaled El-Masri (Scott Horton, Harpers.org, 11/29/10; New York Times, 12/9/10).
  • The U.S. worked to obstruct Spanish government investigations into the killing of a Spanish journalist in Iraq by U.S. forces, the use of Spanish airfields for the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program and torture of Spanish detainees at Guantánamo (El Pais, 12/2/10; Scott Horton, Harpers.org, 12/1/10).
  • WikiLeaks coverage has often emphasized that Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh reassured U.S. officials that he would claim U.S. military airstrikes in his country were the work of Yemeni forces. But as Justin Elliot pointed out (Salon, 12/7/10), the United States has long denied carrying out airstrikes in the country at all. The secret attacks have killed scores of civilians.
  • According to the cables, U.S. Special Forces are actively conducting operations inside Pakistan, despite repeated government denials (Jeremy Scahill, Nation, 12/1/10).
  • The U.S. ambassador to Honduras concluded that the 2009 removal of president Manuel Zelaya was indeed a coup, and that backers of this action provided no compelling evidence to support their legal claims (Robert Naiman, Just Foreign Policy, 11/29/10). Despite the conclusions reached in the cable, official U.S. statements remained ambiguous. If the Obama administration had reached the same conclusion in public as was made in the cable, the outcome of the coup might have been very different.
  • The U.S. secured a secret agreement with Britain to allow U.S. bases on British soil to stockpile cluster bombs, circumventing a treaty signed by Britain. The U.S. also discouraged other countries from working to ban the weapons, which have devastating effects on civilian populations (Guardian, 12/1/10).
  • The U.S. engaged in an array of tactics to undermine opposition to U.S. climate change policies, including bribes and surveillance (Guardian, 12/3/10).
  • U.S. diplomats in Georgia were uncritical of that country's claims about Russian interference, a dispute that eventually led to a brief war (New York Times, 12/2/10). U.S. officials "appeared to set aside skepticism and embrace Georgian versions of important and disputed events....as the region slipped toward war, sources outside the Georgian government were played down or not included in important cables. Official Georgian versions of events were passed to Washington largely unchallenged."
  • U.S. officials put forward sketchy intelligence as proof that Iran had secured 19 long-range missiles from North Korea--claims that were treated as fact by the New York Times, which subsequently walked back its credulous reporting (FAIR Activism Update, 12/3/10)

All of these examples--an incomplete tally of the important revelations in the cables thus far--would suggest that there is plenty in the WikiLeaks releases that does not reflect particularly well on U.S. policymakers.

In its "Note to Readers" explaining their decision to publish stories about the cables, the New York Times (11/29/10) told readers that "the documents serve an important public interest, illuminating the goals, successes, compromises and frustrations of American diplomacy."

The paper went on:

But the more important reason to publish these articles is that the cables tell the unvarnished story of how the government makes its biggest decisions, the decisions that cost the country most heavily in lives and money. They shed light on the motivations--and, in some cases, duplicity--of allies on the receiving end of American courtship and foreign aid. They illuminate the diplomacy surrounding two current wars and several countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, where American military involvement is growing.

The "duplicity" of other countries can be illuminated by the cables, while the U.S.'s secret wars are evidence of "diplomacy." That principle would seem to be guiding the way many U.S. outlets are interpretating the WikiLeaks revelations.


Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a nonpartisan media watchdog organization. Visit http://fair.org for more information, or share your opinion about this story by writing to fair@fair.org. Republished in the Chronicle with permission from F.A.I.R.


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This story was published on December 16, 2010.
 

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