Democracy

Journalism and Patriotism

"I believe it is vital to the interest of the journalist and the public alike that we engage in an urgent, forceful and consistent campaign to educate the public with the knowledge that in a democratic society the journalist is, in fact, exercising the highest form of citizenship by monitoring events in the community and making the public aware of them and their import; by skeptically examining the behavior of people and institutions of power; by encouraging and informing forums for public debate," writes Bill Kovach, North American representative and chair of the International Consorium of

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Bush's Conspiracy to Riot

"On Nov. 22, 2000, the so-called 'Brooks Brothers Riot' of Republican activists helped stop a vote recount in Miami -- and showed how far George W. Bush's supporters were ready to go to put their man in the White House," writes Robert Parry, who cites newly-released documents which "show that at least a half dozen of the publicly identified rioters were paid by Bush's recount committee.

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Roping Off the Information Commons

Public domain information - including our shared culture of literacy and democratic dialogue, basic drug research and government information resources paid for with public tax dollars - has grown in importance now that the Internet has empowered everyone to become a creator and to readily share information with others. As a result, writes David Bollier, corporate "content aggregators" -- film studios, publishers, record labels -- have "brazenly cast a broad net of claimed ownership rights in the intangibles of our culture.

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A 12-Step Program for Media Democracy

Jeffrey Chester and Gary Larson have drafted a "plan on behalf of a more democratic media system, a collective effort to ensure that alternative, independent voices will still be heard over the growing din of conglomerate media culture. " In the Internet age, they say, "The sad irony is that never before have we had such communications power at our disposal, in the form of new digital technologies that allow any of us to be producers as well as consumers of media content.

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Don't Scrutinize the Pentagon

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is pushing a series of sweeping proposals that would weaken congressional oversight of the Pentagon. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Pentagon officials also are drafting proposals to ban strikes by contract workers, eliminate federal personnel rules protecting civilian workers at the Pentagon and bypass environmentalists in Congress. Some proposals are more provocative. They include allowing the Pentagon to send its initiatives directly to Capitol Hill before other agencies could review them.

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Spinsanity's Inanity

The Spinsanity.org website has on occasion published insightful commentaries on misleading uses of political rhetoric in the United States. In July 2002, however, Spinsanity itself published a deceptive attack on the media watchdog organization Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). After FAIR criticized U.S.

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Free the Info

In the last decade, 26 countries have enacted formal statutes guaranteeing their citizens' right of access to government information. Now freedom of information advocates have a global internet link: freedominfo.org, a virtual network that offers summaries of existing laws governing access to information in 45 countries, along with current news and analysis.

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Bush Zips Whistleblowers' Lips

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has joined senators Chuck Grassley and Patrick Leahy in warning that the Bush Administration's proposed new cabinet-level Homeland Security Department threatens long-standing American freedoms while eliminating legal safeguards necessary to keep the agency open and accountable to the public.

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Fear and Loathing in the Middle East

"I have seldom been lied to so blatantly in my life," Amit Pal, editor of the Progressive Media Project, writes from Egypt. "On June 20, we had a lunch meeting with Nabil Osman, who is the chairman of the State Information Service here. He assured us that censorship was a relic of the past in this country, having disappeared after the 1970s, and that the press was free to criticize anything or anyone, including the president.

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Myanmar Hires PR Help

"The Union of Myanmar, which is ruled by a ruthless military junta, has retained Washington, D.C.-based DCI Assocs. to improve its relationship with the U.S.," trade publication O'Dwyer's PR writes. "DCI is to brief members of the Bush Administration and Congress that the former Burma is now committed to democracy and human rights. It also wants to be considered a foot soldier in President Bush's so-called 'war on terror.' DCI received a $100,000 retainer from Myanmar in early April, which will cover work through July 15. It will then bill Myanmar $35K a month. ...

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