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New York Times Reporters Avoid Investigative Journalism When Covering Israel’s Bombing of UN-Run School

By: Monday July 28, 2014 9:15 am

New York Times reporters seem to have neglected to engage in investigative journalism when reporting on last week’s attack by Israeli forces on a school in Gaza.

The school in Beit Hanoun, which was being run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), was shelled on July 24. At least sixteen people were killed and about 200 people were wounded in the attack, which occurred when the UN agency was trying to evacuate people. Palestinians have said that Israeli forces shelled the courtyard area where the bloodshed occurred and the Israeli military has now put out two versions of events intended to contradict the stories of survivors.

Rather than get to the bottom of why the accounts of what happened are so different, Isabel Kershner and Ben Hubbard, reporters for the New York Times, printed the new claims from the military and wrote, “It was not immediately possible to reconcile the accounts.”

But is it not the job of journalists to get to the bottom of any claims before passing them off as truth?

The headline for the Times’ story unambiguously read, “Israel Says Its Forces Did Not Kill Palestinians Sheltering at UN School.” That imputes some measure of credibility to the claims of Israel. So, was this headline from editors reasonable given the fact that Israel’s claims are rather incredible or, at best, impossible to verify?

The Israeli military forces immediately claimed that “rockets launched by Hamas had landed in the Beit Hanoun area during fighting with its forces, and that those rockets may be responsible for the deaths.” Then, a spokesperson for the military said it did not know if the school was hit by a “stray shell” from the military or “Hamas fire.” Then, the military indicated it had been coordinating with the UNRWA to evacuate the school, the UNRWA had given the Israeli military coordinates for the school and the military had “fired mortars in the area of the school.” The military additionally claimed Hamas had fired at the school, though no survivors had reported such fire.

However, NBC News’ Richard Engel tweeted:


Voters Feel Some 2012 Buyer’s Remorse

By: Monday July 28, 2014 7:49 am

If the 2012 election was held again today 53% say they would back Romney while 44% would vote for Obama

President Obama’s job approval rating has been negative for months and it has gotten so bad a majority of voters now wish he lost his re-election. If the Presidential election was held again today 53 percent of voters say they would back Mitt Romney while only 44 percent would vote for Barack Obama according to a new CNN/ORC poll.

This is not completely surprising given that the last time Obama’s job approval rating was positive, according to Gallup’s daily tracking poll, was for brief moment last September. At the moment his average approval rating is in the low 40′s.

The survey isn’t all horrible news for Democrats. It did find Democrats have a modest lead in the generic Congressional ballot. If that election took place today 48 percent would back the Democrat in their district while only 44 percent would back the Republican. This is a improvement from their two point lead in the same poll last month.

Congressional Democrats are still in decent shape, but it is unlikely they will be getting any help from their President. There are probably no competitive districts or states where he would be a real asset at the moment.

David Gregory Caught Using Unverified Israeli Propaganda Video To Smear UN

By: Monday July 28, 2014 6:45 am

Tim Russert spins one more time in his grave. In yet another embarrassing moment for Meet The Press, David Gregory was caught using Israeli government video claiming to show rockets being fired from a UN school with no verification, only to have to to walk back the claim later in the show. Gregory accusingly introduced the video during an interview with UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) spokesperson Chris Gunness.

Gunness could not see the video and told Gregory “anyone looking at this program would think it was unfair,” to have Gunness comment on video he had not seen and could not see. The grainy obscured video from the Israeli government purportedly showed rockets being fired from a UN school and was clearly meant to give the appearance that the UN had something to hide.

Later in the program, Gregory announced that the UN finally had a chance to review the video Gregory had been promoting and, not surprisingly, claimed it was false and did not show rockets being fired from a UN school that Israel attacked violating international law.

Israel has moved on to other weak claims after using Gregory as a tool. Now Israel claims that the courtyard of one of the schools it has attacked was “completely empty” and that Israel is not responsible for the deaths at the UN school.

Despite claims by the Israeli government and David Gregory, evidence shows Israeli military strikes killed 15 people at a UN school that was being used to shelter people fleeing their homes from Operation Protective Edge, not a base to shoot rockets from.

The Roundup

By: Monday July 28, 2014 5:45 am

- Israeli Defense Force: Yes we bombed the UN-run school, but we did not kill anyone; Wait….what?

- The wife of the Vice Prime Minister of Cameroon was kidnapped by Boko Haram militants after an attack on his house

- Leaders of countries in Central American criticize the U.S. for policies forcing its civilians to emigrate north

- The U.S. would do well if mass transit was free as was done in Paris, France just recently

Pol Pottery Barns…

By: Monday July 28, 2014 1:30 am

But…of course, Michele Bachmann has a new solution to the humanitarian crisis of refugees along the US/ Mexico border.

Late Night: Piketty’s Failure of Nerve, or Why Marx Is Still the Boogeyman

By: Sunday July 27, 2014 8:00 pm

Piketty’s emphatic denial of Marxian influence on his work – and the fact that he felt compelled to make it in the first place – is quite telling. The decades of heavy-duty demonizing dumped on Marx by capitalism’s cheerleaders, particularly in the United States, have scared people away from studying his work to the point where even a French economist is quick to deny being contaminated by the thoughts of the Great Satanic Boogeyman.

Speaker Boehner Observed by International Whistleblowers

By: Sunday July 27, 2014 7:00 pm

A letter demanding an official tabulation of State legislature applications for a convention to propose amendments as prescribed in Article V of the Constitution just arrived at the Office of the Speaker of the House for John Boehner. As international observation may be required to determine if elections are being managed correctly, we reached out to internationally known whistle blowers, Karen Hudes, Birgitta Jónsdóttir, Carl Robert Gibson, and Hörður Torfason to observe how Congress handles their duty to call a convention once two-thirds of the states apply. After 238 years of application by State legislatures it is “arguable”, as the Congressional Research Service described, that States reached the threshold to trigger a convention call which Congress should have no authority to refuse.

Panthers in the Hole: French Angola 3 Book Illustrates US Prison Crisis –An interview with Nicolas Krameyer of Amnesty International France

By: Sunday July 27, 2014 6:00 pm

Amnesty International France and La Boîte à Bulles have published a 128-page French language graphic novel entitled Panthers in the Hole. The book’s co-authors David Cénou and Bruno Cénou present with visual art what Amnesty France describes as “la tragique histoire des Trois d’Angola” (the tragic story of the Angola 3).

Say Anything: Words Matt Entenza Lives By, Apparently

By: Sunday July 27, 2014 5:00 pm

Poor Matt Entenza. He thought he could run yet another sleazy and expensive backstabbing of a campaign against a fellow DFLer, only to be tripped up by the fact that many politically-minded Minnesota Democrats have a) long and accurate memories, and b) an ability to find the proofs that confirm the accuracy of those memories.

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