Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Unembedded: four photojournalists War photography has a long and honored tradition, starting roughly with Matthew Brady and his assistants with their photographs of Civil War battlefields through Robert Capa and his amazing photo of a just- shot Spanish Civil War soldier to Vietnam's astonishing Eddie Adams.

Until just recently, photographers were allowed to wander the battlefields unencumbered by military authority, frequently in harm's way, sharing the dangers of combat with the soldiers that they covered. While the brass was never very pleased with this arrangement, they realized that the photographers were documenting history and providing moral support for the folks at home.

The invasion of Iraq to liberate Kuwait changed the relationship between the higher-ups and the photojournalists, and a policy of "embedding" reporters as well as photographers became the norm, the better to direct the flow of propaganda on behalf of the Powers That Be.

For the most part, the media went along, and the result is an American public starving for real visual insight into a violent and confusing war far from most Americans' awareness, and the brass like it that way. Into the breach of mis-information and ignorance on the true effects of this now unpopular war come four very independent photojournalists and two videographers.

Working without the support and often in defiance of American authority, these intrepid souls have produced an astounding body of work. Chelsea Green Publishing is releasing Unembedded: Four Independent Photojournalists on the War in Iraq on October 24.

For a preview, visit Chelsea Green or follow this link for a real eyeful. We should be receiving a copy for review pretty soon, so keep an eye on this space.

Cue the disaster profiteers

In true thief in the night fashion, the Repug-corporate agenda unfolds. Americans as private citizens responded with the most massive outpouring of gifts of money and supplies to the disaster victims, so much so that disaster relief agencies have asked people to stop, because the warehouses can’t hold any more MREs, diapers and bottled water, but what is the Repug-corporate response? While it could hardly be said that anyone actually planned on a disaster of near-Apocalyptic proportions to hit the South, when it did occur, the Repug-corporations, with the assistance of the Heritage Foundation, quickly swooped in with their vision of profitable rebuilding in New Orleans and the Gulf states.

As reported by Naomi Klein in the Nation, via AlterNet, corporate lobbyists met with reps from the Heritage Foundation and Republican lawmakers at Heritage HQ in Washington DC, September 13. On the agenda, how to profit from the rebuilding of New Orleans and the Gulf states:

1) Throw out the prevailing wage (makes sense, there’s no one working there for there to be a wage to prevail), 2) declare a no-tax “opportunity” zone (wow, and what an opportunity!), 3) exclude the blacks (ethnic cleansing anybody?), and 4) give all the rebuilding contracts to Bechtel, Halliburton, Fluor and Shaw (since they’re doing such a swell job in Iraq with infrastructure there’s almost as much electricity as before the invasion! occasionally), and 5) suspend all workplace regulations (can you say, “what workman’s comp?”). And, oh, by the way, let’s drill for oil in Alaska. Huh?

What’s a disaster for if not an opportunity for profits? If this were the results of a war, these jerks would be guilty of war profiteering, and hung for it.

DeLay still the Man for wingnuts

Assrocket mounts a credible defense of the indefensible, calling DeLay’s ethical breaches in dumping his HCA stock as “perfectly legal.” He also calls Austin DA Ronnie Earle "corrupt." That sounds like libel to me.

Prospective Supreme Court Justice Harriet Miers


Opium production in Afghanistan has soared since War on Terror began

Not that I’m complaining, but it looks like the War on Terror is delivering another one of those Unintended Consequences. The International Herald reports:

"Poppy cultivation last year rose 64 percent over the previous year, from 80,000 hectares to 131,000 hectares," or about 200,000 acres to 325,000 acres, the highest ever, Daud said. According to a recent study by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime called "Afghanistan: Opium Survey 2004," cultivation in the country last year accounted for 87 percent of the world's illegal opium production, a rise of 17 percent compared to 2003.

Good work, Shrub.