Net Briefs – April 2010


In Truth

Sourcewatch.org alerts us to an Interpress News Service article (March 8, 2010). Apparently, the U.S. media reported that a big, offensive battle was taking place in Marja, Afghanistan, a "city of 80,000 people" in Helmand province, which was also the "logistical hub of the Taliban." The description gave the impression that the U.S. presence in Marja was a major strategic objective.

In truth, Marja is not a city or even a town, but a few farmers’ homes and farmland encompassing much of the southern Helmand River Valley. The fiction that Marja was a city of 80,000 got started at a briefing given by officials on February 2 at the U.S. Marine base, Camp Leatherneck. Officials referred to Marja as a populous city. The Associated Press subsequently reported, that same day, that they expected up to 1,000 insurgents were "holed up" in the "southern Afghan town of 80,000 people," a statement that evoked a picture of house-to-house urban street fighting.

The rest of the news media fell in line, giving fake descriptions of a densely populated Marja. Finally, on February 22, the Washington Post reported that the decision to launch the big offensive against Marja was intended largely to impress U.S. public opinion with the military’s effectiveness in Afghanistan by showing that it could achieve a "large and loud victory." The false idea that Marja was a significantly large city center was an essential part of that disinformation message.

Campaigning

PR Watch.org reports on U.S. Chamber of Commerce activities post-Citizen’s United v FEC decision, noting that the Chamber had spent more than $144 million on lobbying and grassroots organizing in 2009, before the decision, far beyond the spending of individual labor unions or the Democratic and Republican national committees.

The Chamber is expected to exceed that spending level in 2010. It has developed a system where corporations give them money and they, in turn, produce issue ads targeting individual candidates without revealing the names of the businesses who are funding the ads. The Chamber’s system keeps secret which businesses are influencing a given election, and to what extent.

Move to Amend

Movetoamend.org informs us that activists against corporate "personhood" have formed a new movement "that holds that large business corporations are the most powerful institutions in our society and the main obstacles to rule by the people—or democracy. Move to Amend is a multi-year project of the Campaign to Legalize Democracy and is circulating a citizens’ petition, signed by 71,330 as of March 11, which reads as follows (online at www.movetoamend.org).
We, the people of the United States of America, reject the Supreme Court’s ruling in Citizens United, and move to amend our Constitution to:

Firmly establish that money is not speech and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights

Guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our votes and participation count

Protect local communities, their economies, and democracies against illegitimate "preemption" actions by global, national, and state governments

FYI

The group behind Citizens United v. FEC is an organization "dedicated to restoring our government to citizens’ control…. Citizens United seeks to reassert the traditional American values of limited government, freedom of enterprise, strong families, and national sovereignty and security. Citizens United’s goal is to restore the founding fathers’ vision of a free nation, guided by the honesty, common sense, and good will of its citizens."

Citizens United has produced 11 documentaries since 2004, including Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny hosted by Newt and Callista Gingrich and We Have The Power, which "highlights America’s need to adopt our World War II mentality" of "Do It All, Do It All Now" by exploring the vast amount of oil and gas in the Outer Continental Shelf, Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as well as hydroelectric power, wind power, oil shale, natural gas, gas hydrates, hydrogen, biofuels, solar power, clean coal, and nuclear power.

Another Citizens United documentary, Generation Zero, attributes the "U.S. fiscal meltdown to undisciplined baby boomers coming to maturity and gaining power." Generation Zero is Citizens United’s name for baby boomers who were "born into unprecedented prosperity…. In the 1950s, because parents determined that their children should be sheltered from the economic hardships of the 1930s and the wartime sacrifices of the 1940s; their offspring were coddled, growing up in a childhood of Beaver Cleaver suburbs."

You’re Kidding

Truthout.org makes note of the new law allowing weapons to be carried in national parks and wildlife refuges and of the existence of a loosely organized Bay Area Open Carry Movement, a group that has been turning up at coffee shops (Starbucks is a favorite) with (unloaded) handguns holstered to their belts to raise awareness about gun rights.

David LaTour, a student at San Jose State University, has been carrying his Springfield XD 9mm handgun on his hip for about a month. California allows its citizens to openly display and carry unloaded weapons without a permit, but many gun advocates complain that the state is too restrictive when it comes to issuing licenses to carry concealed weapons. "I looked into concealed carry permits, but unless you’re well-connected, it’s impossible to obtain," says LaTour. However, he says, "I personally prefer open carry because of the visual deterrent. While we can’t legally carry loaded guns, we can have ammunition, as long as it’s not attached to our weapons. You can, of course, have a functioning loaded weapon in two seconds."

Nathan Wolanyk, an open carry advocate from San Diego, says the movement is about informing the public. "If all you see are guns in the media used in a violent manner, that’s your perception of guns," he says. "When we’re out in public with them, we’re interacting with the public in a very nice manner."


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