All Notebook Entries
- Posted by - February 25, 2004 at 11:06 pmThis year's full session of The School of Authentic Journalism promises to be better than ever. An absolutely astounding faculty of gifted and renowned journalism professionals is being put together for this intensive ten-day program, and this year's campus has the space for a significantly larger student body. This can mean more journalism students than ever before and more Authentic Journalists, trained in the skills, ethics, and issues of reporting on the drug war and democracy from Latin America, who will be challenging mass media distortions in the years to come.
The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism has offered one scholarship slot to The Fund for Authentic Journalism as a special incentive to help us to recruit good writers in our fundraising campaign on behalf of Narco News. This scholarship provides the ability for somebody to attend the ten-day session, tuition free, with room and board included. Narco News already has a rigorous application process for finding the most promising scholarship applicants. Duplicating it didn't seem to make sense. Since the art of good writing and the art of successful fundraising are so entwined, here is what we're going to do:
Announcing: The Authentic Letter Scholarship Contest
- Posted by Bill Conroy - February 25, 2004 at 8:17 pmGiven all the recent media hype over the CIA's lack of good intelligence on Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion of that country, it's easy to backburner the fact that this nation's intelligence agencies also were accused of dropping the ball with respect to the 9/11 terrorists.
Now CIA Director George Tenet and Defense Intelligence Agency top gun Lowell Jacoby are all over the news telling us that, beyond Al Qaeda, we face an even greater threat from as-yet-unknown terrorists groups who are being spurred on in the wake of rising anti-Americanism.
Gee, I wonder why we're ticking so many people off? In any event, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to connect the dots and predict that because there's a rising tide of rage against the United States, there is likely more fuel being thrown on the fire of terrorism.
But what isn't being asked often enough in the media is what the current administration was focusing on prior to 9/11 in terms of perceived terrorist threats. A little-notice report prepared for the Department of Energy (DOE) some five months prior to 9/11 offers some clues.
It seems, according to that report, that some elements of the Bush administration were concerned about a potential rise in "left wing" terrorism. The title of the report says it all: Left-Wing Extremism: The Current Threat.
- Posted by Nora Callahan - February 25, 2004 at 7:46 pmBill Conroy's, Borderline Security has prompted me to begin this notebook, blog, or diary. http://www.narconews.com/Issue32/article893.html
Why do we have warlords or whistleblowers, and fewer civil servants in between the extremes? The topic begs for discussion, and I have some personal thoughts of my own to share.
My father was a combat veteran of World War II, my mother a suburban pioneer with a lifetime of hurt behind her -- or thinking so when I came along in 1953. Growing up on white bread and thousands of bloody war stories, my oral history was punctuated by fantastic tales of survival in the 'hardest times there were.' The Great Depression and World War II were as steady a stream in our home as tea, coffee and old friends. I was raised under the shadow of remarkable events.
I was never sure if I was supposed to be grateful for growing up in cold war peace, and shopping ample aisles of grocery stores, or to feel guilty that I was. So I did both.
My public education included 'duck and cover' exercises in school. People who love peace, having lots of enemies -- a tired line, revived today -- was literally drilled into me as a child.
"How is that supposed to keep us alive if the A-bomb hits?" I would ask my teacher, after we pulled our terrified bodies from under our desks. Furthermore, how do you study after a near death experience?
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 25, 2004 at 12:04 pmColleagues and Copublishers,
Now that 80 of our 118 original copublishers are in the door, a critical mass has begun commenting, and there are starting to be more comments, we've turned on the "comments rating system" which allows you, the copublishers, to "vote" on which comments get linked on both page one of Narco News, and the front page of this Narcosphere.
That means that YOU, the copublishers, collectively decide which comments get page one placement. This is the main way that we assure that comments, corrections, enhancements, and additional information - especially regarding those news stories reported on Narco News - that the copublishers feel are important get prominent billing for the wider and massive universe of readers. In this, as publisher, I'm surrendering a significant amount of control to you.
Here, below, is how the ratings system works...
- Posted by - February 25, 2004 at 12:13 amHard Number Time.
$7,023. That's the grand total raised for Narco News through The Fund for Authentic Journalism since we started over New Year's. Much of that money, along with funds raised for Narco News last year via the (now defunct) LiveArt1st, allowed us to qualify for that first $10,000 installment of our matching grant from Tides.
$3,443. That's the total raised since February 5th. That's everything we can be certain counts toward the next $10,000 batch of matching funds. That's just over one third of the way there.
$129.69 That's the average per day of what we've raised this year. That's a handful of people. Sometimes even one person. But always someone. One person at a time, putting their money where their beliefs are, who wont let mass media distortions go by unchallenged.
1 Minute. That's all it takes to contribute, right now. Please, go to http://www.authenticjournalism.org and use the PayPal buttons to make a contribution today. Thank you.
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 24, 2004 at 12:30 pmLast week's vicious smear and libel campaign against Brazilian drug policy reform leader Fábio Mesquita (read about his timely exoneration here) was an atrocity. The perpetrator, Phil Smith of DRCNet, instead of admitting that he was wrong by posting a correction and offering the apology that any professional journalist would offer, hides in his bunker.
Narco News has obtained the texts of four "private" emails that are now published here, below. They demonstrate grossly unethical journalism on the part of Smith. We didn't hack anybody's email account: Smith sent them, by accident, last week to a public mailing list. He later posted a message to that list confessing: "This was supposed to be a private message."
The emails reveal:
- Prior intent, by Smith, to smear Fábio Mesquita.
- That Smith reported information he knew to be untrue in his newsletter.
- Dishonesty, by Smith, to his sources regarding the subject of his article.
- The suggestion that Smith unethically shared his text, in advance, with one side of the conflict.
- The fundamental unfairness of conducting interviews in English with native Spanish and Portuguese speakers.
- The presence of the legal definition of "malice" in Smith's reporting.
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 23, 2004 at 6:55 pmNow that more than half of our copublishers are in the door, with others constantly arriving, let's hear from each of ya with a brief introduction here on this thread.
Present your brilliant copublishing selves!
Al Giordano, ¡Presente!. I live somewhere in a country called América (too often in various somewheres all at once). I'm a journalist who reports on the drug war and democracy from Latin America, and I'm publisher of Narco News. I offer my partisan political opinions over at my weblog, BigLeftOutside.com, so if anyone wants to play at elections and that kind of thing, you're invited over there, too.
I sometimes subsidize this intercontinental ballistic trilingual online newspaper by strumming my Dobro in clubs. Over the next year, thanks to a recent stroke of good luck in the legal system, I (who have never owned a house before) plan on constructing a permanent oceanside campus-newsroom for the School of Authentic Journalism. In future years, we'll see some of you there, no doubt.
In the meantime, we're hard at work in the Narco Newsroom, and I'm very excited that so many of you are already here, inside the Narcosphere. Ahead of us on the highway is immediate history, and we're gaining on it!
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 21, 2004 at 3:07 pmThat didn't take long.
Days after Brazil's Congress approved a bill to decriminalize drug users, a heavy hitter from Foggy Bottom was dispatched to Brazil to discuss, among other matters, "security concerns including terrorism and narcotrafficking," according to this press release from the U.S. General Consulate in São Paulo:
Brasília, February 19, 2004 Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman, the State Departments top political affairs official, is visiting Brazil February 18-19. After touring the new facilities of the U.S. Consulate General in São Paulo on February 18, Grossman will hold talks today with high-level Brazilian government officials in Brasília. These annual discussions are part of an on-going bilateral dialogue between the United States and Brazil.
Under Secretary Grossman will review a wide range of bilateral and multilateral issues in his meetings with senior Brazilian officials. Among the topics to be discussed are the state of bilateral relations, U.S. and Brazilian views on matters of regional and global importance, the United Nations, and security concerns including terrorism and narcotrafficking.
Let's take this opportunity to look at the U.S. Embassy and Consulate's team on the field in Brasilia and São Paulo, and their past histories that just happen to coincide with US Embassy dirty tricks and other atrocities in those regions, for some perspective on the underhanded smear campaign that has begun against leading drug policy reform advocates in Brazil at the very moment that the movement is on the verge of victory...
- Posted by Dan Feder - February 20, 2004 at 6:08 pmIts almost a week now that weve been online here, and I thought it was about time I introduced myself and said a few things about how were doing so far. Im the Narco News Webmaster, in charge of the technical aspects of this experiment, or forum, or publication, or community, or war machine, or whatever you want to call it. Ill be using my reporters notebook here, in part, to discuss the evolution of this site into what we all expect to be a really unique and vital space for all authentic journalists.
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 20, 2004 at 1:20 pmThe Drug User Decriminalization Law passed the Brazilian Congress!
I informed y'all this would happen eight days ago.
More details, plus news from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and...
Miami Oligarchs on Parade Tomorrow!
Details follow below...
- Posted by Bill Conroy - February 19, 2004 at 10:23 pmEarlier this week, I received a letter -- sent anonymously. It was stuffed with documents, including a memo written by Colleen Kelley, the president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). The union represents some 13,000 Customs employees who work for the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) -- which is under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The NTEU, which has endorsed Sen. John F. Kerry for president, is currently battling the Bush administration and DHS over proposed workplace rule changes that will severely limit the union's ability to represent workers within the new super department.
The leaked Kelley memo, which is directed to NTEU chapter presidents, also deals with a workplace-rights issue. The memo, dated Nov. 14, 2003, is the real thing. A spokesman for the union confirmed that fact.
The memo reveals something quite startling in terms of how the government operates with respect to promoting the right people to the right jobs. Essentially, the memo indicates that since December 1998 Customs has maintained a "secret vetting" policy that requires that background checks be run at the headquarters level on employees who are up for promotion.
So why is this a big deal?
One Customs inspector interviewed put it this way: "There's a secret vetting list that the agency has. What that means is they have opened a file on your name, to be used for anything."
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 19, 2004 at 6:52 amThe "issue of blogging" that is pounding at the gates of Commercial Media is becoming a kind of modern-day Cotton Gin: separating the fiber from the chaff in our profession.
The good news is that some prominent media critics with long experience in journalism are starting to weigh in defense of the bloggers.
Jay Rosen, at New York University and PressThink, comments here.
As already mentioned, Cynthia Cotts, at The Village Voice, comments here.
(Both were attentive and nice enough to quote me accurately.)
And also worth repeating, Philadelphia City Paper editor and media critic Howard Altman cheers the return of Narco News.
This is becoming one of the healthiest discussions and debates among journalists in a long, long, time.
So, don't be shy, copublishers: Jump into the conversation.
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 19, 2004 at 5:45 amI'll be publishing some questions about Haiti and the coup attempt (see my notebook entry of yesterday) on Narco News later today.
Meanwhile, there is lots of news around the hemisphere...
Honduran television journalist Renato Alvarez, 38, sentenced to 32 months in prison for "defamation" of a National Party politician who he labeled a "narco-trafficker," according to AP Español. It's a horrible precedent, but the glass is half-full: His prison time is suspended and he'll pay a fine of $800 dollars and do some community service work. The authorities want to intimidate journalists, but not, apparently, create martyrs for the international press. Still, heed Alvarez's warning:
"They've now begun with the journalists and tomorrow (the government) will restrict the freedom of speech of Honduran citizens who fight against the current State... The people are tired of so much injustice in the country."
More of today's Narco News Round-up, with reports and links from Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, and Venezuela, below...
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 18, 2004 at 2:13 pmEditor, journalist, and media critic Howard Altman welcomes Narco News back in today's issue of the Philadelphia City Paper.
About the return of Narco News, he writes, "Watch out, America," and notes that we're "on a mission to change the way news is gathered and distributed ."
"Its good news for most of Latin America and anyone who questions how our government operates down there. Its good news for anyone who has doubts about the so-called war on drugs (remember that?) and the way corporate media covers the world.
"It's bad news for the people who don't want you to know what's going on in Latin America. It's bad news for those who want no light shed on drugs or revolution. It's bad news for the Bush administration, which did its best to topple President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela..."
- Posted by - February 18, 2004 at 1:49 pmHi folks. Al Giordano suggested a regular blog from the treasurer of The Fund for Authentic Journalism would be a great way to keep people involved in the fundraising end of this operation, up to date with our progress and fully informed about the twists and turns that come up along the way. Our aim is more than just keeping the Narco News funded. We want to demonstrate a new model of financial support for journalism that provides the resources necessary to produce the finest journalism without any of the corrupting pressures inherent in advertising and other models. So hopefully this space will keep your interest. I'm humbled by having a blog appear alongside such fantastic writers as are lined up for the NarcoSphere, but I'll do my best to keep up.
First, I want to tell you a bit about where we are and how we got here .
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 18, 2004 at 7:54 amA Narco News reader, Thomas, writes me that he's "disappointed" that we're not reporting from Haiti.
I'm disappointed too. We don't yet count with the resources to put a reporter on the ground there. (The Fund for Authentic Journalism treasurer, Andrew Grice, will shortly appear here in the Narcosphere to explain that we're still waiting on pledged funds.)
But I have thought of who could do the job, if resources suddenly became available: Paging Stan Goff.
Meanwhile, click the "read more" link for a round up of links to the latest news reports on what is occuring in this Caribbean country...
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 17, 2004 at 9:30 amPart of journalism involves, obviously, deciding what to investigate and write about.
Here in the Nomadic Narco Newsroom, we review what other journalists, media, and bloggers are saying on events throughout the hemisphere, daily. Sometimes we notice gaps, or falsehoods, in the coverage, and that often suggests a job for Narco News to fill in the blanks, or to deepen a story that is only told superficially.
Today, with the introduction of The Narcosphere, the readers become more involved in pointing us toward the news that is already out there, and what Authentic Journalists need to do about it.
If you've seen a story today about the drug war and democracy in Latin America, give us the link, here, and add your comments on the news, and your critiques of how it could have been reported better.
I'll post some below, in the comments, too.
- Posted by Al Giordano - February 16, 2004 at 5:54 pm
Veteran journalist Chris Lydon has a name for it: "the transformation."
A fundamental shift is underway in how politics and fundraising are practiced: from dependence on the financiers at the top levels of the economy to a more authentically democratic model of a wide base of support from below.
- Posted by Charlie Hardy - February 16, 2004 at 9:16 amShit was a word that was prohibited in my childhood home. We tried alternatives:
"You're not going to use that word in this household!"
"That means the same thing!"
Thus three four-letter words were eliminated from my useful vocabulary at a very early age. I grew up not liking them. I advanced in wisdom and age not using them.
Now it wasn't that there was no strong language used around our house. One of my sisters mentioned that my father spoke five or six languages. My mother only three: English, German and Profanity. English was the language used with the natives and the kids; German with the few Austrians and Germans in Cheyenne, Wyoming who weren't ashamed to continue speaking it while World War II raged on; and, Profanity which was reserved to use on my father on special occasions when my mother had a need to verbally dump on him. There is an explanation as to how my mother learned each of these three languages but I will share that another day. I would also like to add that I think my mother was a very holy person.
The point that I would like to establish at the very beginning of my blogging life is that I grew up hating the word "shit."