Undress Rehearsal for November 2

By Al Giordano

Hey everyone! Remember Katie Halper, who co-piloted The Field's 2008 convention coverage? Last February she attended the Narco News School of Authentic Journalism in Mexico and keeps doing great work, day in, day out.

Anyway, she's produced this new Get Out the Vote video for the November 2 election in the US, and its been entered into a contest and you can vote for it by clicking this link. Go there, scroll down to the first video. Watch. Laugh out loud. And click that check mark in the upper right corner box. See? It's just like voting! Actually, it literally is an act of voting.

One of the reasons I've had no predictions for you yet for the Congressional midterm elections is that even now, two weeks out, it is very hard to tell who or how many are going to vote. And that is what is going to decide stuff like which party controls which House of Congress. But Lordy, if folks spent half the time they spend teeth gnashing over what could happen and speculating on the consequences and instead put yourselves to work actually making phone calls and knocking on doors and dragging others to the polls - or deploying your other talents, as Katie has done here, to inspire the fun people to vote -  there would be a very different and better result on election day. There is no use complaining that big money interests rule the airwaves if while doing so you are forfeiting your power to rule the ground!

From here on out, my response to those great many who come worrying to me over worst-case scenarios for election day is going to be,  "Shut Up and GOTV."

Meanwhile, you can practice actually voting by heading over to vote for Katie's video. Thank you.

A Statement by Ecuador's Most Important Social Movements

Note by Al Giordano: During Thursday's coverage of events in Ecuador, we accepted on face value that it was an attempted coup d'etat and saw the same international forces behind the 2009 Honduras coup involved in these events. Now that the immediate dangers have subsided is the moment to reflect more deeply as to what occurred and why.

We also defended Ecuador's most important coalition of social movements, the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE, in its Spanish initials) from a vicious smear and innuendo campaign against it by North Americans like Eva Golinger, Jean-Guy Allard, and on her Twitter feed, Naomi Klein (see correction down below) who recklessly accused the indigenous women and men of the CONAIE of being agents of imperialism and recipients of funds from US AID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

In subsequent days, waving extremely flimsy and half-stated "evidence," Golinger and Allard have pressed their crusade to discredit the CONAIE further in a series of articles high on rhetoric and rumor and low on factual content or proof. If this is to become a duel of credibility and honesty between these gringo and Canadian voices and the dignified ones of the CONAIE, we give far more benefit of the doubt to those Ecuadorean voices who have proved for two decades that they hold the interests of their own country and their own peoples high and proud and who have effectively organized and struggled and continue to win real results.

We furthermore consider the efforts by Golinger et al against the good people of the CONAIE to themselves be a form of North American imperialism and view it necessary to call it what it is: dishonesty based on the imperatives of political expediency and worship at the altar of State power. McCarthyism and Stalinism were always two faces on the same coin, after all. Each make their lists, invent false charges, distort the whole truth, as they seek to purge, destroy and silence debate and dissent.

In recent days, Narco News reporters have been interviewing social movement leaders from throughout the hemisphere on the issues raised by this breach and a detailed report airing different perspectives is forthcoming.

Today, the CONAIE categorically refuted the accusations made against it as false, and responded in this public statement, which we now translate for English-language readers. To be continued...

The Alleged Coup d’Etat, Democracy, and the Indigenous Organizations

By Marlon Santi

President, CONAIE

We, the Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE, in its Spanish initials) and the Pachakutik Bloc, in response to the events of September 30, 2010, and the claims made in recent days about the alleged  support by USAID-NED to indigenous organizations, standing firmly on our historic process of bringing about a true Pluri-national State, announce:

The struggle of the peoples and nationalities is not an individual one, rather, it corresponds to the collective dream of constructing a diverse country, inclusive of the diverse popular and social organized sectors that seek a real change to end the old neoliberal, exploitative structures and the decolonization of the institutions of the State. We seek a pluri-national democracy, respectful of the rights of individuals, of collective organizations and of nature.

We energetically announce that there never was any attempted coup d’etat, much less a kidnapping, but an event that responded to the uncertain political management of the government that causes popular discontent through permanent aggression, discrimination and violations of human rights consecrated in the Constitution.

We do not recognize this dictatorial “democracy” because of its lack of freedom of speech, the kidnapping of all the powers of the state by the executive branch in its political system of one government, that does not generate spaces to debate the projects, and laws elaborated from the indigenous movement and other social sectors.

We categorically refute claims that the CONAIE, the Pachakutik Political Movement, the peoples and nationalities have any relationship at all with the organism known as USAID, previously NED, not today nor ever. To the contrary, we know that this organization finances the “social programs” of this government like the forest partnership and that, yes, is condemnable.

We demand the constitutional suspension of the National Congress for its failure to comply with the constitutional mandate that it legislate much less audit as it is well known that all laws are approved by the president’s legal minister.

We condemn the usurpation of press freedom when on September 30 all media not allied with the government was forced to broadcast government news in “cadena nacional,” a means by which all access to information is controlled and manipulated with a version of the facts that does not inform about the real dimensions of the situation on that day in the country.

Quito, Ecuador, October 6, 2010

Government of the Peoples and Nationalities,

Marlon Santi

President, CONAIE

Update and Correction: A reader, Dawn Paley, writes us:

Hi Al,

In your post yesterday on Narco News, you wrote that on her Twitter feed, Naomi Klein "recklessly accused the indigenous women and men of the CONAIE of being agents of imperialism and recipients of funds from US AID and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)."
 
I've carefully reviewed Naomi's twitter feed from that day and following days, and she did no such thing. On the contrary, she repeatedly challenged Golinger's position.
 
I hope that you'll correct this error as soon as possible.
 
thanks,
 
Dawn Paley
We have reviewed Klein's Twitter feed and conclude that Dawn is correct. The confusion stemmed from Twitter posts from Golinger to Klein. We regret the error and extend our apology to our readers and to Naomi Klein. Thank you, Dawn, for bringing the error to our attention. We are actually relieved that the truth is better than our error in this case.
 

Coup Attempt in Ecuador Is a Result of Sec. Clinton's Cowardice in Honduras

By Al Giordano

Oh, crap. Another year, another coup in Latin America. And while today's attempt by police forces in Ecuador went so far as to fire tear gas at elected president Rafael Correa, the military brass in the South American country have sided with the democratic order - its top general is on TV right now strongly backing the elected government - and this one isn't likely to go as well for the anti-democracy forces as last year's did in Honduras.

First, because the Ecuadorean people are far more advanced in social and community organization than their counterparts in Honduras were last year. Second, because the events last year in Honduras caused other center-left governments in the hemisphere to prepare for what everybody saw would be more coup attempts against them in more countries.

Additionally, we can expect in the coming hours that the police leaders responsible for todays events - you don't need to understand Spanish to get a pretty good idea of what went down this morning by watching the above video - will be rounded up and brought to justice, as would happen in any other country, including the United States.

But, kind reader, do you know why this is even happening? Because the same unholy alliance of Latin American oligarchs who can't stomach the rising wave of democracy in their countries - from the ex-Cubans of Miami to the ex-Venezuelans and others who have joined them in recent years - along with international crime organizations seeking new refuges and members of extreme rightist groups in the United States and elsewhere, saw their scheme work in 2009 in Honduras and took note of how quickly, after US President Barack Obama denounced the Honduras coup, his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began playing both sides of it.

It was this newspaper, through reporter Bill Conroy's investigations, that broke the story last August that the State Department-controlled Millennium Challenge Corporation had poured extraordinary amounts of money into Honduras in the months leading up to the June 29, 2009 coup d'etat. And in story after story, we demonstrated with documented fact how Clinton's Millennium Challenge Corporation went so far as to violate the ban on US aid to the Honduran coup regime. Clinton's later endorsement of farcical presidential elections and her over-reaching attempts to pretend nothing had happened in Honduras are precisely the signals that were received by today's coup plotters in Ecuador when they made a run at toppling the democratic government there.

At present, thankfully, the coup in Ecuador seems more likely to fail than to succeed. And there will be hell to pay for those behind it. But it didn't have to get that far. That only happened because, last year, the US Secretary of State pulled off a kind of "silent coup" in US foreign policy while her commander in chief was buried with the urgent domestic tasks stemming off economic collapse and, as everyone knows, small nations get little attention almost always anyway.

This time, the White House would do well to put a much shorter leash on its Secretary of State, because her horrendous and unforgivable anti-democratic behavior regarding the Honduras coup only fueled, and continues to fuel, understandable speculation that if the United States doesn't walk its talk about opposing coups d'etat, then it must have been an active participant in plotting it. The mishandling of the Honduras situation last year did lasting damage to President Obama's stated hopes to turn the page in US relations with its closest neighbors after decades of abuse and neglect. A single misstep by Secretary Clinton today and in the future regarding the events in Ecuador, like those she repeatedly made regarding Honduras, now that the hemispheric coup plotters have moved from Central America to larger South America, will further erode the cause of democracy in the entire hemisphere. I don't trust her. Nobody south of the border does. And nor should you, Mr. President.

Update: Narco News has translated today's Statement from the Office of President Rafael Correa.

Update II: If it holds, this will be the first time in the history of the hemisphere that the Armed Forces of a country stood up against a coup d'etat from the first moment. Now, that would be democracy at work.

Update III: The situation in Ecuador today is further complicated by the disillusion that the very social forces that elected President Correa have with his actions in office. The CONAIE (Federation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador) is the leading national indigenous movement with strong alliances with labor and other social forces) held a press conference today to say that it is neither with the police forces nor with President Correa. The CONAIE and its hundreds of thousands of participants is not only responsible for Correa's election, but its mobilizations caused the rapid-fire resignations of previous presidents of Ecuador in this century.

The situation thus also shines a light on the growing rift in the hemisphere between the statist left and the indigenous left and related autonomy and labor movements. The CONAIE is basically saying to Correa, "you want our support, then enact the agenda you were elected on." Whether one sees this as a dangerous game of brinkmanship or something that actually strengthens Correa's hand by placing him in the middle zone ideologically, it is worth seeing this at face value and beware of getting led astray by some of the usual suspect conspiracy theorists of the statist left who are predictably out there barking that the CONAIE is somehow an agent of imperialism, dropping rumors of US AID funding but never seeming to exhibit the hard evidence. Sigh. What Johnny-One-Notes! They wouldn't know nuance if it slapped them in the face. For them, you either line up lock-step with THE STATE (if it is "their" state) or you're a running dog of capitalism. That kind of Stalinist purge mentality should have died with the previous century.

The CONAIE's grievances happen to be very legitimate. Of course, they do not justify a coup d'etat, but the CONAIE is not participating in or supporting the coup d'etat. It is saying to Correa; we'll have your back, when you have ours. This, like the Armed Forces support for Correa, is also a historical first in the region. And the plot thickens...

Update IV: A boilerplate statement from the US State Department:

We are closely following events in Ecuador. The United States deplores violence and lawlessness and we express our full support for President Rafael Correa, and the institutions of democratic government in that country.

We urge all Ecuadorians to come together and to work within the framework of Ecuador’s democratic institutions to reach a rapid and peaceful restoration of order.

Now let's see if they walk that talk...

Update V: 9:30 p.m. Quito: Ecuadorean military troops have just rescued President Correa from the police hospital where he was sequestered all day. Looks like it was a pretty violent battle, but multiple media on the scene are reporting that the president is safe and the Armed Forces stuck with the democratic order.

Meet the Spring Breakers Without Borders!

By Al Giordano

For those Field Hands who don’t have our Narco News front page on your daily surfing rounds, you may have so far missed this new video, the latest from Narco News TV:

Reporting the constant daily spectacle of prohibition-related violence, massacres, beheadings, corruption and human rights abuses is probably what hell-for-journalists looks like (and since most members of the media are surely headed there, it’s going to be crowded): a permanent correspondent gig from Hiroshima, ground zero.

One has to keep a sense of humor in the gallows, and this video – already going viral (post it to your blogs, social networks, email lists and tweets, and send the link to all your friends!) – is just what the doctor ordered at this point in the winless “war on drugs” south of the border.

You may have also missed Erin Rosa’s scoop, Eye Scanners Being Tested Along the US-Mexico Border, or her appeal, Support the Newspaper that Encourages and Defends My Freedom to Report, or the appeal by Karina González, Proudly an Authentic Journalist. And there, you'll get a glimpse at the people behind this flagship of authentic journalism.

Or the link to the audiotape of yesterday’s Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC New York (NPR) in which author Charles Bowden praises the work of Narco News investigative reporter Bill Conroy: “I have no idea why the US press has ignored this. The sole source for covering this Bill Conroy of Narco News.” (And the interview is damn good for lots of other reasons, too.)

And the newest stop on your daily surf should be Narco News TV, which has been updated with five new videos since last week.

You could surf us all day long from your job site. See? We’re working hard so that you don’t have to.

Telling the Whole Truth About the "Drug War"

Thoughts on the Open Letter by El Diario of Juárez to Narco-Traffickers

By Al Giordano

Publisher, Narco News

Not being a narco-trafficker, the recent open letter from the Diario de Juárez wasn’t addressed to me. Still, as a colleague in journalism who has long reported on the drug war, I would like to offer some thoughts, both for the editors that wrote it, and the rest of our colleagues in the media professions and especially for the general public.

Narco News today translates El Diario’s open letter, titled, “What Do You Want from Us?” which is addressed “To the leaders of the different organizations that are fighting for control of Ciudad Juarez.” It comes from a newspaper that has already lost two reporters to assassination and that lives under daily and nightly fear. The first human reactions to such a situation are sympathy and empathy. But in this case, as with most tragedies, caring is not enough.

The newspaper writes:

“All of you are, at this moment, the de facto authorities in this city, because the legally instituted authorities have not been able to do anything to stop our colleagues from continuing to die, although we have repeatedly called for them to act.”

This is interesting because in most of the world the legal private sector of business interests, particularly the corporate media, have become themselves a kind of “de facto authority” over public opinion and all levels of government. Seen in that light, one has to recognize that we in the media are not suddenly passive victims of the drug war that for too long has been ideologically bankrolled by the “reporting” of too many of our colleagues.

That early paragraph in the open letter can only further rarify the dysfunction and risk of violence through its implicit recognition of “instituted authorities,” meaning government and its police and military forces, as somehow being more legitimate than those of organized crime and narco-traffickers.

As we have reported at Narco News for more than a decade, governments and their policies of drug prohibition are not intended to eliminate illegal drug use or commerce, because government officials – including politicians and the banks and other business interests that finance them – are profiteering off the drug war just as much as the so-called (and misnamed) “cartel” leaders.

We will say it again: drug trafficking organizations are not cartels. We try not to use the term in this newspaper and here is why:

Here’s an example of a cartel: OPEC – the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. It controls the supply of a product – oil – and therefore can set the price. Narco-traffickers – even the most powerful among them – have never enjoyed that kind of control over the supply and price of cocaine, marijuana or any other product. It is much more the actions of governments that determine the price: More enforcement tends to raise the street price of a prohibited product, and less enforcement tends to lower it. That’s basic economics.

The higher the price, the bigger the profits, and a higher price also attracts more competitors trying to do business in that product. Those competing businesses – legal or illegal, that’s what this is, a business – have to establish and protect turf against each other in an unregulated market. The more enforcement, the greater the necessity for drug trafficking organizations to arm up with more lethal weaponry; but that presents no problem, really, because greater enforcement brings them the greater profits (through the artificially increased price of the drugs) so that buying and creating entire arsenals of guns and other weapons simply becomes a percentage of the cost of doing business.

The “drug war” of Mexican President Felipe Calderon may be the most obvious example of how government, police and military officials, themselves involved in the illegal drug trade, use drug laws as a pretext to eliminate the competition to open the markets and the shipping routes to their own favored narco-trafficking organizations: the ones that offer the authorities and their preferred narco-bankers the bigger slice of the profits.

And most of the profits come not from the sale of the drug but from the laundering of the billions of dollars in proceeds by banks and other financial institutions to turn the dirty money into legal capital. That means that the real kingpins of narco-trafficking are not the ones fighting the street wars against each other or against the police and military. They’re not the guys with fancy nicknames like “Lord of the Skies” or the recently arrested “La Barbie.” The real bosses of the illegal drug trade wear suits and ties, give big donations to all the political parties and their candidates, and get invitations to state dinners from Los Pinos to the White House.

Those are the real narco-bosses atop this violent food chain (and when this newspaper and the Mexican daily Por Esto! reported the photos and eye-witness testimonies about one of them back in 2000, we quickly found ourselves defendant in a libel suit filed by the National Bank of Mexico, or BANAMEX; so, yes, we know from long experience what the colleagues at El Diario and others are going through.)

“Follow the money” is often cited as the first axiom of journalism, a phrase made famous in the Hollywood movie about the Watergate scandal and the two Washington Post reporters who uncovered it. Well, if journalists took those words as something more than a cheap self-important slogan, the daily drug war coverage would be about banks and politicians and big-money moves on Wall Street instead of this circus-like “coverage” about so-called “cartels” and their alleged leaders, arrests, seized kilos and street violence, most of which involves no more than taking dictation from prosecutors and government officials, their press releases and anonymous “leaks.”

Think about it: the most powerful drug-running organizations – governments – have set the tone, the language, the sensationalist buzz words and the matrix by which most of the press covers the “drug war.” If you’re a street level drug dealer or a leader of one of the competing illegal drug trafficking organizations, the headlines in most of the media are probably pissing you off daily. The hypocrisy is so great as to be enraging, even if you’re not involved in the drug business but simply hate it when big lies get repeated over and over again, louder with every day’s broadcast, and especially when it causes so much human pain, misery, death and destruction.

While some honest reporters have been assassinated or live under daily threat for their reporting on the drug war, let’s state the dirty little secret of the official “press freedom” organizations that participate in this charade while fueling the false drug war narrative: It is also the case that many of the assassinated “journalists” lost their lives because leaders of one drug organization perceived – many times accurately – that journalist or news organizing as having chosen sides and doing the propaganda work of a competing drug organization. Media outlets that accept “official information” from government agencies about drug “cartels” and their leaders, in the eyes of those illicit businessmen, cease to be civilians and become just as much soldiers in the drug wars as the guys on the street with AK-47s.

The dangerous situation for honest and dishonest reporters, editors and media organizations alike is made worse by another dirty little matter: It is not uncommon – in fact, it is standard operating procedure – for “reporters” and their editors to accept payments and bribes from crime organizations and from government officials to spin their stories in the ways their secret sponsors want. Again, these corrupt “journalists” are no more civilians than the police or military official that accepts payments to enforce the law against one group of people in order to help a competing crime organization. And too many of the “assassinated journalists” in the drug war, in Mexico, in Colombia and elsewhere, lost their lives precisely because they had ceased to be journalists and had become partisans and soldiers of competing narco-trafficking interests.

Even when direct financial payment is not made, every journalist knows that documents and other information are the currency by which we rise or fall in this profession. Government officials have long owned and controlled the reporting of many journalists by spoon-feeding them the documents that will tell a story as they want it to be told.

A case in point: In the 1990s, when the office of Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo wanted to eliminate some competing politicians in his own party, the PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party), they gave a set of documents to then New York Times reporter Sam Dillon – according to the reporting of national columnist Carlos Ramírez – which were then turned into “investigative reports” in the Times and submitted by the newspaper as nominees for the Pulitzer prize in journalism. The reports tagged the competing politicians as narcos, of course.

The documents handed over to the Times – we don’t believe much “investigation” was involved; we view it as more a case of receiving documents and typing them up into Timespeak - told a partly true story about one corrupt politician – then governor of the state of Morelos – while it fabricated a wholly false one about the other, Manlio Fabio Beltrones, today a possible 2012 presidential candidate in Mexico who has obviously weathered the PR storm. After the NY Times played its role as Zedillo’s spectacular hit man, Beltrones lawyered up, sent the documented facts showing the libels committed by Dillon’s story, and the Times filed an unprecedented correction of its own Pulitzer winning story. (The Pulitzer committee, meanwhile, has no process to withdraw an award once given, so Dillon can still crow to whoever is unlucky enough to be seated next him on an airplane about an award that those few who pay attention to these things see as deeply tainted).

But, really, what is the difference between a reporter publishing falsified “news” from official sources meant to take out a hit on competing interests in exchange for a “big scoop” and possible awards and career advancement, and one who accepts a bribe of money? Official and corporate journalism in the twenty-first century has itself become a form of racketeering. Couldn’t it be said that the big media companies are more “News Cartels” than any crime organization ever will be a cartel of anything? And for those who are, again and again, on the receiving end of these informational hits, it is not only enraging, but understandably difficult to see the participating journalists as anything other than legitimate military targets. I’m not defending these acts – I don’t believe in death penalties for any crime – but nor am I, as an authentic journalist, going to play along with the false narrative that all the journalists who have been assassinated in Mexico or elsewhere were slain because they were honestly telling the truth.

There is even a commonly used street term for the bribe received by a journalist from a government official or business interest: El chayote, named for a food (one of those which some call a vegetable and others call a fruit, so I’ll just call it a food). And the corrupt reporters who receive these bribes are nationally known as chayoteros. Like US dollars, chayotes are green and spiny.

In the first years of Narco News, it probably wouldn’t surprise anyone to hear that we were approached a number of times by people we reasonably believed might be intermediaries for different drug trafficking organizations, offering gifts of expensive ads on our pages for unnamed legitimate companies. “We don’t accept advertising,” I replied.

“But don’t you want money?” was the typical response. “Couldn’t you use it to further your cause?”

“Sure, but not that kind of money, because it comes with strings attached.”

I would typically give what I call “the Godfather speech” to these presumed intermediaries. It went like this: “Tell your boss that we appreciate his respect and we mean no disrespect by turning down the offer. Of course we have also heard of the ‘silver or lead’ stories where journalists or public officials are first offered money and next threatened with bullets if we don’t do as asked. If that is the case, just send someone over to kill me, right away, because we’re never going to take advertising or any other money meant to influence our coverage. But also please tell your boss that we think it would be an error to kill us because he now knows we won’t do it for his competitors either. We’re the ones telling the whole truth about government involvement in the drug trade and our editorial policy favors legalization, so that their children and grandchildren can grow up to be congressmen, judges, or even president: just like Rockefellers and Kennedys whose forefathers made their fortunes as alcohol traffickers.”

Pretty quickly word must have got around the narco-trafficking circles and there have been no attempts for many years to try and bribe us or threaten us from those corners. For more than seven years, not one. The real threats have always been from the likes of the bankers we defeated in the New York Supreme Court in 2001, and from government officials.

And, again, we’re not out there peddling the official version of the “drug war” story. And we are not recognizing the legal authorities as somehow “legitimate,” nor allowing our pages to be used to promote their narratives each day about the latest “cartel” or “kingpin” (who, over our ten years of intensely reporting the drug war in Mexico, Colombia and elsewhere, have changed names and faces so many times anyway that we already know that this year’s “kingpin” fed to the press by the “authorities” is next year’s prisoner or cemetery plot or missing person, only to be instantly replaced by the next one, so on and so forth). The only narco-trafficking organizations to have survived these ten years are the governments; the permanent “drug cartels.”

Journalists who report on the “drug war” can plainly see what the game is really about: Raising the price of the drugs to create higher profits, and installing favored crime organizations to control it while eliminating their competitors. And it has the added benefit of fomenting fear, because a public that feels afraid is an easier people to control.

The drug trade is a business, and the fact that it is illegal doesn’t make its underlying dynamics that much different from the businesses of newspapers, television and radio stations, or the rest of the private sector. If a reporter or media organization were to unfairly choose sides between one corporation against another, legal companies always have recourse to take it to court. But what recourse does a prohibited business have to redress its own grievances other than violence?

The drug war violence in Mexico is already so out of control and so dysfunctional that some honest reporters will continue to get caught in the crossfire and pay the ultimate price. That could be you, or me, or anyone else. But it is the dishonest reporters and news organizations, or the haplessly stupid ones, who really place all of us journalists at greater risk. They have caused the widespread public disrespect that exists toward our entire profession.

In that sense, leaders of drug trafficking organizations don’t really see things much different than the average man or woman on the street. You don’t have to love them or endorse their methods or their products to be able to get into their heads and pay attention to events as they probably see them. When they see a journalist doing the bidding for their competitors, often based on spoon fed “information” and leaks from government officials who are protecting their competitors and putting their businesses and lives in jeopardy, how many times can that happen before anyone in that position would start to see those “journalists” as soldiers in the opposing army?

That, in our studied opinion, is the root source of the growing threats against journalists in Mexico, in a climate already rarified by an illegitimate and failed state that has always been hostile to a free press. As a journalist, I would never call the cops or ask governments for protection. To do so would be to offer them a legitimacy they neither have nor deserve. And with all due respect to the colleagues at El Diario, their open letter at multiple points reads like an appeal to the government for help. That’s like seeking the protection of one mafia against another. And only makes it more likely that the competing forces will see them as not neutral in the war.

At Narco News, we’re not neutral either, but we are partisan in a very different way, and have always disclosed it: Our editorial position, stated since day one, opposes the drug war and its foundation of drug prohibition. That’s not exactly a position of guaranteed safety either, but at least if it comes to the point where one or more of us die for doing our jobs, we will have gone down proudly in a worthy struggle, and not for a pendejada of seeking fame and fortune by pulling off informational hits on one group of criminals on behalf of another, and certainly not in service to the biggest, really the only, drug cartels that exist: the governments that propagate these violent acts through a policy called prohibition.

And we cordially invite all our colleagues in the media to begin to see the problem for what it is: one of policy, completely reversible and preventable. And on the day when enough of us in the Fourth Estate cease doing the Official Cartel’s bidding in our reporting, drug prohibition will finally fall, as alcohol prohibition did before it, and peace and tranquility will be restored to our cities and towns. Meanwhile, it becomes harder each day to tell the civilians from the soldiers, as the official charade marches violently on…

Enter Narco News TV: Making Cable News Obsolete Since 2010

By Al Giordano

It occurred to me around the time that Eastern European peoples were toppling their regimes by occupying the national TV station that the true seat of power is no longer located in the presidential palace or at city hall, but resides in the media. Today’s report by Fernando León and Erin Rosa in Narco News, Mexico’s Media Moguls Target Country’s Bicentennial, documents the latest example of that putsch.

And while our master plan to end world domination has gone swimmingly on schedule when it comes to taking down the print newspaper industry – see NYT’s Sulzburger – No Print Edition in Future (Deadline.com, last Thursday) – we have to admit that we haven’t been as successful when it comes to making cable news on the TV irrelevant.

Until today…

Since none of the big TV media moguls were ever elected by anyone, we hereby declare ourselves to be one of them too! With the birth of Narco News TV - September 13, 2010, never forget! - we now have our seat at the table, too. More and more people get their video news, information and entertainment from Internet video (and think, it’s only been four years since the birth of YouTube) and now the opportunity expands to do to Fox News (and media companies like those we report about today in the story about Mexico’s bicentennial) and the rest of the screeching aspiring manipulators of public opinion the same thing we’ve done to the NY Times and the daily newspaper industry: replace them, one reader and viewer at a time, until they are gasping for their last breaths.

You may have already seen NNTV’s first report last month – Al Gore’s Mexican Adventure – and today we have another one for you, The Neighbors Who Blocked the Superhighway, about an inspiring David-vs-Goliath battle in which the folks of the La Malinche neighborhood in Mexico City have successfully blocked the destruction of their community for 49 days and nights now.

More NNTV reports are in post-production right now and will be on your screens any day now.

Plus, we’ve got a library of videos produced at the School of Authentic Journalism and by other friends of Narco News up at NNTV already, too. Flag this link into your bookmarks:

http://www.narconews.com/nntv/

We will shortly have a feature in which you, too, can suggest videos for us to broadcast on NNTV, by simply pasting in the link. Or if you produce videos on any of our beats – from the drug war to Latin America to media criticism to politics in the US and across the hemisphere – and you’d like to premier one or more on Narco News TV, send me an email at narconews@gmail.com. (Oh my gawd, are Narco News internships next?)

Finally, as we roll out our arsenal for the fall season, it is also my pleasure to announce to you today that I’m moonlighting, starting today, for the most awesome media project in all of Washington DC: Wonkette. So if you see a hot story that needs very much to be made fun of, also use that email address above to bring it to my attention. My first entry for the Wonketeers, Hillary Celebrates Mexican Bicentennial by Declaring War on Mexico!, went up this morning (their comments section, like ours here, is part of the show, too). And with it I’ve also entered the profession of Blingee designers, which Wonkette publisher Ken Layne taught me is the modern-day descendant of Diego Rivera's wall murals, only the wall is the entire Internet, and one doesn't have to have actual, um, talent with a paintbrush to paint.

Still, we’ll keep grinding out the yardage of authentic journalism here at Narco News and at The Field and, now, at NNTV. Drop a little coin into the cup if you can: we’re doing an awful lot with a precious little these days. And enjoy your new excuse to goof off at work: Narco News TV!

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