In the wake of the Shirley Sherrod incident and what it exposed about the deteriorating state of contemporary journalism, Jonathan Bernstein, the editor of an Internet-based crisis management newsletter called "Crisis Manager," is proposing that the journalistic and news-consuming community fight back against the lagging quality of journalism in the U.S.
The recent attempt by the right-wing propaganda machine to stir up interracial hatred by smearing Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod should be a call to action for traditional journalists. It is now clear that a component of the right's campaign against President Obama is creating racial backlash through the fabrication of false and outrageous propaganda.
Last month, I wrote Chez Sludge, the first inside report on the sewage sludge scandal unfolding in San Francisco, based on internal documents obtained by the Food Rights Network and now online in the Toxic Sludge wiki on SourceWatch.
San Francisco, under its "green mayor" Gavin Newsom, has since 2007 perpetrated a greenwashing scam upon city gardeners. The city, known for its environmentally sound practices and commitment to a precautionary principle approach to dealing with environmental hazards, has deceptively and fraudulently been giving away free "organic Biosolids compost," that is actually nothing but toxic sewage sludge from San Francisco and eight other counties, "composted" by the giant waste handler Synagro.
Recently, the newest batch of Israel-related hasbara was released on a mass scale by the Israeli news website, Ynetnews, which is the online English language news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's most-read news source. It is akin to the New York Times or the Washington Post of the United States, and one of Israel's news sources of prominent distinction.
"There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza"
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel hasbara-extraordinaire, Felix Frankfurter, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Alan Dershowitz, are both on the record as saying that "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza." They are not outliers in holding that opinion. Indeed, former neo-conservative Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the current Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, as well as Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev, are all on the record sharing these sentiments.
Colorado Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis admitted plagiarizing an essay that a Colorado foundation paid him to write.
The celebrity chef Alice Waters is probably the world's most famous advocate of growing and eating local, Organic food. In February 2010 her Chez Panisse Foundation chose as its new Executive Director the wealthy "green socialite" and liberal political activist Francesca Vietor. Vietor's hiring created a serious conflict of interest that has married Waters and her Foundation to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and its scam of disposing of toxic sewage sludge waste as free "organic Biosolids compost" for gardens.
For the first time, thanks to an ongoing "open records" investigation by the Food Rights Network, the public and the press have easy online access to dozens of internal SFPUC files (SFPUC Sludge Controversy Timeline), documenting the strange tale of Chez Sludge, or how the sewage industry bedded Alice Waters.
The Washington Post published a misleadingly-titled article June 30 about the environmental effects of dispersants BP is using in the Gulf. The Post article's headline reads,"Oil dispersant does not pose environmental threat, early EPA findings suggest." But neither the body of the article, nor the Environmental Protection Agency's's press release about studies the agency hastily performed on eight dispersants, indicates that there is no environmental threat from using them. The agency also gives no assurance about using dispersants in the quantities BP is applying them. EPA's June 30 press release about the studies says "dispersants are generally less toxic than oil," but does not suggest dispersants pose no environmental threat. The EPA's testing was also very limited. The agency only tested for short-term endocrine-disrupting activity of the dispersants, only tested dispersants alone (not mixed with oil, as they are in the Gulf), and tested the chemicals only on mature life forms and not young life forms, like juveniles and larvae, which are more vulnerable to the effects of chemicals. EPA also studied only very short-term exposures. The agency admits that "additional testing is needed to further inform the use of dispersants." Questions remain about why the federal government is allowing BP to engage in such widespread use of toxic chemicals in the ocean in the absence of any clear data showing it is harmless, and why the Washington Post article had such a spurious title.