Jun
18
2013

Spinning Surveillance via Discredited NSA Talking Points

Barack Obama on Charlie Rose

What might it say about the depth of NSA's record of success stories that, even after its prime exhibit is debunked, the White House is still retailing the story, the second time around with muddled language?

Sep
20
2012

Quantifying 'Muslim Rage'

Newsweek's "Muslim Rage" cover

Sometimes very little can tell you a lot. Here's Brian Williams on NBC Nightly News, updating viewers on protests that are linked to that famous anti-Islamic video: Overseas tonight, new and deadly retribution from that amateur Internet film that's enraged much of the Muslim world. The "Muslim world" is, well, enormous–somewhere in the neighborhood of 1.5 billion people. A good question that doesn't get asked enough: How many Muslims are out protesting this video anyway? A helpful analysis comes from Dan Murphy at the Christian Science Monitor ("Is the Islamopocalypse Really Upon Us?," 9/17/12). He writes: While sensational headlines have […]

Jul
03
2012

Getting Iran Sanctions Wrong

Much of the media analysis of Iran at the moment dwells on the punitive economic sanctions targeting Iran's economy. An additional round of more restrictive sanctions took effect at the beginning of this month, drawing renewed attention from the press. The clear message from that media coverage is this: If Iran were to come clean about its nuclear program, they could get relief from the sanctions that are starting to wreak serious havoc on the country's economy. That is one of the primary assumptions in the coverage of the Iran crisis. But is it correct? Mostly not. Here's the New […]

Nov
30
2011

Mitt Romney's Murderous Dictator Gaffe

If you've paid attention to the presidential campaign season, you've no doubt been entertained by the string of embarrassments and gaffes: Rick Perry blows the voting age! Herman Cain can't remember what to say about Libya! Mitt Romney talks about the upside of a murderous dictatorship! Wait–what? In the November 22 debate, Romney gave this answer to a question about what to do about Pakistan: We don't want to just pull up stakes and get out of town after the enormous output we've just made for the region. Look at Indonesia in the '60s. We helped them move toward modernity. […]

Jul
12
2009

Colonialism Endures 'Without Being Seen to Do So'

Michael Schwartz' (TomDispatch, 7/9/09) quote from a New York Times Baghdad report that "much of the complicated work of dismantling and removing millions of dollars of equipment from the combat outposts in the city has been done during the dark of night" includes the reason for this secrecy having to "take place at night": "Fewer Iraqis are likely to see that the American withdrawal is not total." To Schwartz, "acting in the dark of night, in fact, seems to catch the nature of American plans for Iraq in a particularly striking way": Last week, despite the death of Michael Jackson, […]

May
08
2009

Fox Fantasizes Evidence of 'Global Cooling'

During his regular review of scientific reporting for the Knight Science Journalism Tracker, Boyce Rensberger describes (5/7/09) how the "11-year (give or take) sunspot cycle, associated with a periodic reversal in the sunâ┚¬Ã¢”ž¢s magnetic poles" means that "the number of sunspots increases in the years just before a reversal." But Rensberger notes that "Where are we now?" depends on "Who you gonna read?": The Christian Science Monitor says the next reversal, expected in 2012, could be associated with an unusual number of sunspots and solar flares. Those flares send out barrages of charged particles that can cause problems on Earth. […]