The record of the U.S. government's support for authoritarian, corrupt and/or murderous regimes is not really up for debate. The only question is whether one believes that the U.S. extends such support despite a deep-seated preference for democratic rule and human rights.
There's nothing quite like the demise of a U.S-allied dictator to get the Paper of Record talking about the "clash" between U.S. "ideals" and the actual policies the country carries out. Today's New York Times (8/22/12) carries the headline "Ethiopian Leader's Death Highlights Gap Between U.S. Interests and Ideals," under which Jeffrey Gettleman lays out the case that the United States kept Ethiopian leader Meles Zenawi, who died early this week, in the "good guy" column despite our normally idealistic approach to world affairs. Gettleman writes that Zenawi extracted prized intelligence, serious diplomatic support and millions of dollars in aid [...]
Drudge Report headline, right now: CLAIM: Iran Arranging to Buy Yellowcake in Africa… Is my computer a time machine, traveling back to 2002-03?
Reporting on variousWhite House personnel changes, specifically the idea that Clinton administration veteran Gene Sperlingwill soon head the National Economic Council, the New York Times explains (1/6/11): Mr. Sperling, much like Mr. Obama, is a liberal but with a pragmatic bent. "Pragmatic," in corporate media code, means "centrist," because it's an article of faith in journalistic circles that smart Democrats move away fromtheir progressive base. The Times adds: Some liberal activists have opposed his becoming the director because of his openness to compromise with Republicans, and because he once was a well-paid consultant to Goldman Sachs, managing a charitable program [...]
Time's Alex Perry, the magazine's Africa bureau chief, responded in the FAIR Blog comments section to FAIR's Julie Hollar, who recently (FAIR Blog, 6/25/10) criticized Perry for neglecting to mention the U.S. and Belgium's role in propping up the Mobutu regime in Congo. Perry said: The idea that the U.S. created Mobutu and maintained him in power belittles Africans and is typical of the kind of racism that dogs analysis of Africa from commentators and journalists who get as close to Africa as, er, America, like old Julie here. The U.S. did not create Mobutu. They certainly did support him. [...]
That's according to Time magazine's Alex Perry (7/5/10): If you want to see what's wrong with Africa, take a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. The size of Western Europe, with almost no paved roads, Congo is the sucking vortex where Africa's heart should be. Independent Congo gave the world Mobutu Sese Seko, who for 32 years impoverished his people while traveling the world in a chartered Concorde. His death in 1997 ushered in a civil war that killed 5.4 million people and unleashed a hurricane of rape on tens of thousands more. Today AIDS and malaria are epidemic. [...]
In his May 23 column–"Moonshine or the Kids?"–New York Times columnist Nick Kristof has hit upon the "simplest option" for keeping poor African kids in school (and ending malaria): getting their fathers to stop drinking, smoking and whoring. There's an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or U.N. reports. It's a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating and ubiquitous: It's that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children's prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by [...]
NBC reporter Ann Curry's fawning interview with actor Ben Affleck (NBC Nightly News, 5/19/10), about his celebrity activist work in the Congo, is downright embarrassing: CURRY: Why do you pick the place that people think is actually one of the worst places in terms of the number of atrocities, in terms of the level of suffering, one of the worst places on Earth? AFFLECK: I really do see tremendous hopefulness. I'm really moved by the power of folks to find solutions to their own problems. The Congolese sense of kind of strength and self-sufficiency and resilience. CURRY: And he's seen [...]
Canada's Globe and Mail decided to do a special issue on Africa this Monday, and who better to guest edit than Bono and Bob Geldof? There's a piece about their day at the paper that's truly absurd. Here's the section on "Opinion Pages": They move back to the meeting table to discuss more content for the paper. Bono asks for a cup of tea, with a drop of milk. Geldof takes his coffee black. Comment Editor Natasha Hassan goes over options for opinion pieces to run in Monday's paper. Christy Turlington has written a piece on maternal health, drawing from [...]
Thomas Rogers of Salon's Broadsheet (9/10/09, ad-viewing required) reports that world champion South African runner Caster Semenya recently "was tested (possibly without her consent) by the International Association of Athletics Federations" and "now the results of her gender testing have leaked, and, if the reports are to be believed, they show that she is, in fact, biologically intersex." After an informative look at the real biological meaning of the test findings that "led some media outlets to call her a 'hermaphrodite' (and some even more inaccurately calling her 'a woman — and a man')," Rogers writes that, to him, Caster's [...]
Eighteen-year-old Caster Semenya, a runner from South Africa, just blew away the competition in the women's 800-meter world championship race. But the news reports yesterday weren't about that–they were about whether she's "really" a woman or not. And supposedly serious outlets like the AP and CNN are sinking to tabloid levels of coverage on the issue. The AP video of the controversy, posted on the L.A. Times website, kicks off: "Quick! Man–or woman?" The piece includes slow pans over Semenya's body, more tabloidy commentary ("She–and yes, SHE claims to be a woman"), and the offering of her voice as some [...]
In a News Analysis piece (7/11/09), New York Times reporter Adam Nossiter attempts to illustrate the difference between some African countries and more enlightened nations, writing: The gulf separating the West and many African leaders on fundamental issues like human rights was on display just last week. The African Union announced that it would refuse to cooperate with the International Criminal Court in its attempt to prosecute the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, for crimes against humanity, over the mass killings in Darfur. Whatever you think of the ICC's pursuit of Al-Bashir (some human rights observers thought it an unwise [...]