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Jasmine Stucky to Speak in Peoria

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And in local news, I have received the following 411 from Michael Perillo, President of the Peoria Area peace Network:

Curt Keller, minister at the Forest Hill Methodist Church, and the PAPN are sponsoring Jasmine Stucky to come and speak here in Peoria.

Jasmine Stucky is a political and environmental activist from Portland, Oregon, who spent four months in Israel, from January to May 2010, in a section of East Jerusalem called Sheikh Jarrah (a predominately Arab neighborhood), she also visited villages in the West Bank called Bil’in, Al-Walaja (an enclave located in the West Bank), Ramallah, Hebron and many other places.

Jasmine spent a lot of time in Sheikh Jarrah which was once a refugee camp established in 1948 after the Nakba (“disaster” or “the catastrophe”). Due to the Absentees’ Property Law from 1950, which was created to protect the new Jewish state from the claims of the Palestinian refugees, Palestinians were stripped of any rights to property. Stucky provided 24 hour night watch for the Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah, media coverage, organizing community meals, protests or mass demonstrations to get in the way of Israel authority from arresting Palestinians or evicting them from their homes.

Here’s the schedule so far at where and when she’ll be speaking:
*Friday, May 6th in the evening at the Forest Hill United Methodist Church.
*Saturday, May 7th in the morning at the Islamic Center Youth Group.
*Saturday, May 7th in the evening at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Bloomington, IL.

Also, the PAPN holds an anti-war vigil every Saturday at the corner of Main and University in Peoria from noon-1pm.

And check out the Solidarity Journal on WAZU 90.7, Tuesdays at 6 am and 2 pm.

Written by slothropia

April 15th, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Peoria CBS Affiliate Manufacturing Consent?

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On January 12, I attended the monthly meeting of the Peoria Area Peace Network (PAPN). thew guest speaker was peace activist Eric Stoner who talked about what he found on a recent trip to Afghanistan. After Stoner’s presentation he was interviewed by local tv station WMBD. Mike Perillo of the PAPN has this to say about WMBD’s coverage of Stoner:

I do want to make a few comments on the WMBD interview. After having watched the interview, which was good for the most part, there are two lines that stick out. First, Kim Behrens says in a voice-over “Stoner admits the United States Military has helped rebuild the country [Afghanistan]” and then the anchorman, Jacob Long, who, as his bio describes “loves telling great stories”, does so by ending the segment on this: “Stoner would like to see the fighting stop, but says U.S. forces are playing a big role helping Afghan people restructure their government.” Notice that neither of these comments appears in quotes on WMBD’s website. Furthermore, WMBD never shows the video clips of Eric saying this. I knew Eric wouldn’t have made these comments or he was taken completely out of context.

After talking to Eric, he said that these two supposed statements he made were “just not true”, and there was nothing that he said that could have been misinterpreted that way. They had put words into his mouth, or as Eric put it “that is simply bad journalism”. We have not heard from WMBD after Eric sent them an email explaining to them that their credibility as journalists and a new outlet will be affected for their actions. We do not know if this was how Kim edited the video, or if the Jacob made the last comment on his own, or if someone in the higher-ups decided that these two pro-military comments should be added. I do not know right at this moment what further action the PAPN will take, but something needs to be said and done to make others aware of this. The media has done this for a long time now, and seeing it at a local level to this degree is very disappointing.

Mike and the PAPN and Eric Stoner himself have every right to be angry and disappointed with WMBD in this regard. But perhaps they should not be too surprised. In 1988 Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman wrote a book titled Manufacturing Consent, in which they discussed the role of the mass media in U.S. political discourse. They present a “propaganda model” as a tool to understanding how mass media distorts information and news.

Using the propaganda model, Manufacturing Consent posits that corporate – owned news mass communication media — print, radio, television — are businesses subject to commercial competition for advertising revenue and profit. As such, their distortion (editorial bias) of news reportage — i.e. what types of news, which items, and how they are reported — is a consequence of the profit motive that requires establishing a stable, profitable business; therefore, news businesses favoring profit over the public interest succeed, while those favoring reportorial accuracy over profits fail, and are relegated to the margins of their markets (low sales and ratings).

News media depend on government and corporate sources for the news they disseminate. Print or electronic outlets are reluctant to criticize such sources too harshly and so distort information to protect themselves from reprisals from business and government.

Chomsky and Herman further posit five “filters” that media outlets apply to distort news and information:

1. Size, Ownership, and Profit Orientation: The dominant mass-media outlets are large firms which are run for profit. Therefore they must cater to the financial interest of their owners – often corporations or particular controlling investors. The size of the firms is a necessary consequence of the capital requirements for the technology to reach a mass audience.

2. The Advertising License to Do Business: Since the majority of the revenue of major media outlets derives from advertising (not from sales or subscriptions), advertisers have acquired a “de-facto licensing authority”. Media outlets are not commercially viable without the support of advertisers. News media must therefore cater to the political prejudices and economic desires of their advertisers. This has weakened the working-class press, for example, and also helps explain the attrition in the number of newspapers.

3. Sourcing Mass Media News: Herman and Chomsky argue that “the large bureaucracies of the powerful subsidize the mass media, and gain special access [to the news], by their contribution to reducing the media’s costs of acquiring […] and producing, news. The large entities that provide this subsidy become ‘routine’ news sources and have privileged access to the gates. Non-routine sources must struggle for access, and may be ignored by the arbitrary decision of the gatekeepers.”

4. Flak and the Enforcers: “Flak” refers to negative responses to a media statement or program (e.g. letters, complaints, lawsuits, or legislative actions). Flak can be expensive to the media, either due to loss of advertising revenue, or due to the costs of legal defense or defense of the media outlet’s public image. Flak can be organized by powerful, private influence groups (e.g. think tanks). The prospect of eliciting flak can be a deterrent to the reporting of certain kinds of facts or opinions.

5. Anti-Communism: This was included as a filter in the original 1988 edition of the book, but Chomsky argues that since the end of the Cold War (1945–91), anticommunism was replaced by the “War on Terror”, as the major social control mechanism.

I would suggest that in the case of WMBD v Stoner, the television station applied filter number 5 to its coverage of the PAPN event and interview with Stoner.

Also possibly relevant is the fact that WMBD is owned and operated by the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. Wikipedia informs us that “The CEO of Nexstar, Perry Sook, has donated over $4,300 to Republican candidates and officials.” That’s not a lot of money in the Citizens United era, but it does show that the ownership of WMBD is clearly in the GOP camp, and while the people of the U.S. have turned against the war in Afghanistan, many elected Republicans (and too many elected Democrats) have not.

The lesson learned (though probably not for the first time) by PAPN is that even local media have internalized the rules about what is and is not acceptable political discourse.

Written by slothropia

January 24th, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Illinois Senate Bill 3539–Abolish the Death Penalty

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Cross posted at Peoria Progressive.

Overnight I received an email from Michael Perillo of the Peoria Area Peace Network asking if I would urge my state legislator to support Illinois Senate Bill 3539, which would end capital punishment i the state. I was glad to do so for three reasons.

1. The death penalty is not a deterrent. Canada abolished the death penaltyin 1976 and the murder rate has decreased since that time even when the conviction rate for first degree murder increases. Juries are more likely to convict in murder cases when their deliberations are not clouded by the possibility of committing state sanctioned murder themselves. Life in prison is the real deterrent to murder.

In the U.S., the murder rate is lower in non-death penalty states than in those with capital punishment.

2. The work of The Innocence Project has abundantly demonstrated that innocent people are often convicted of crimes, including murder, they did not commit.

3. By some strange coincidence, people of color are disproportionately represented on death rows in the U.S.

Also, if it is wrong for humans to kill each other, then the state should try not to kill humans.

If you live in Illinois and do not know how to contact your legislator, please call this number at (217) 782-2000 and ask for them by name, or if you do not know who represents you just check out the Equal Justice USA (EJUSA) website and enter your zip-code. You can either call, email or do both and say to your legislator: “I’m a constituent and I urge you to support SB 3539.

Written by slothropia

January 6th, 2011 at 10:23 am

Hey FBI: Knock It Off!

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I spent part of today’s late afternoon at a demonstration protesting the recent FBI harassment of peace activists with raids of private homes in Chicago and Minneapolis. The event was organized by the Peoria Area Peace Network and was held outside the Federal Building in Peoria.

This was one of many such demonstrations around the U.S. It looked to me like maybe two dozen people came out to show solidarity with the groups and individuals under investigation. Some of us held signs that talked about peace, some were more directly about the FBI harassment. There were quite a few cars honking in support as they drove by and nobody threw tomatoes or flipped us the bird.

One of the protesters was Zack Michaels (I hope I got the last name and spelling right – I did not take notes) an ICC student and volunteer at community radio station WAZU – 90.7 if you are in the area and want to listen. As the demonstration was winding down Zack herded some of the demonstrators over to East Peoria for an on air conversation about the event, the wars and the witch hunt.

Let me paraphrase what was said by one of the protesters who noted on air, if peace groups can be hounded this way by Obama’s and Holder’s Justice Department, imagine what the Tea baggers would do if they ever got hold of the government.persecuted

Written by slothropia

October 1st, 2010 at 10:50 pm