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ZNet News: 

As always, we of course have numerous new articles online, even since
just a couple of days ago when we sent our last update mailing. 

We are also busy redressing some tardiness in updating various ZNet
Watch Sites. We hope you will make the rounds to see the results. For
example, you might wish to check out the updated Iraq Watch, Anarchy
Watch, Interviews, and other Watch Sites as well in coming days.


Web Announcement

Brian Dominick, who has been a tireless and creative worker on ZNet
since its inception, and Jessica Azulay, a current ZNet Commentator, are
working hard to found a new, nonprofit, independent, online newspaper,
called The NewStandard. They want to determine people's interest in
their project and are also looking to hire two collective members, even
as they are hard at work building a network of freelance journalists,
artists, and photographers. The NewStandard will provide current events
coverage ("hard news"), from a progressive perspective, as well as many
diverse innovative features. It is an ambitious (pareconish) project and
Brian and Jessica would very much like you to come visit their site and
respond to their online queries even as the site is being built at
http://newstandardnews.net  We at ZNet hope you will take a look at
their efforts and anticipate great things from the NewStandard.  

P.S. They even have a fancy Flash Interactive Preview for you to view.


And now, to close out this update, here is a powerful essay from Norman
Solomon ..
.
  
The Political Capital of 9/11 
by Norman Solomon 

The Bush administration never hesitated to exploit the general public's
anxieties that arose after the traumatic events of September 11, 2001.

Testifying on Capitol Hill exactly 53 weeks later, Donald Rumsfeld did
not miss a beat when a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee
questioned the need for the United States to attack Iraq.

Senator Mark Dayton: "What is it compelling us now to make a precipitous
decision and take precipitous actions?"

Defense Secretary Rumsfeld: "What's different? What's different is 3,000
people were killed."

As a practical matter, it was almost beside the point that allegations
linking Baghdad with the September 11 attacks lacked credible evidence.
The key factor was political manipulation, not real documentation.

Former CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack got enormous media exposure in late
2002 for his book "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq."
Pollack's book promotion tour often seemed more like a war promotion
tour. During a typical CNN appearance, Pollack explained why he had come
to see a "massive invasion" of Iraq as both desirable and practical:
"The real difference was the change from September 11th. The sense that
after September 11th, the American people were now willing to make
sacrifices to prevent threats from abroad from coming home to visit us
here made it possible to think about a big invasion force."

Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk, with the London-based Independent
newspaper, was on the mark when he wrote: "Iraq had absolutely nothing
to do with 11 September. If the United States invades Iraq, we should
remember that."

But at psychological levels, the Bush team was able to manipulate
post-9/11 emotions well beyond the phantom of Iraqi involvement in that
crime against humanity. The dramatic changes in political climate after
9/11 included a drastic upward spike in an attitude -- fervently stoked
by the likes of Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and the president -- that our
military should be willing to attack potential enemies before they might
try to attack us. Few politicians or pundits were willing to confront
the reality that this was a formula for perpetual war, and for the
creation of vast numbers of new foes who would see a reciprocal logic in
embracing such a credo themselves.

One of the great media cliches of the last two years is that 9/11
"changed everything." The portentous idea soon became a truism for news
outlets nationwide. But the shock of September 11 could not endure. And
the events of that horrific day -- while abruptly tilting the political
landscape and media discourse -- did not transform the lives of most
Americans. Despite all the genuine anguish and the overwhelming news
coverage, daily life gradually went back to an approximation of normal.

Some changes are obvious. Worries about terrorism have become routine.
Out of necessity, stepped-up security measures are in effect at
airports. Unnecessarily, and ominously, the USA Patriot Act is chipping
away at civil liberties. Yet the basic concerns of September 10, 2001,
remain with us today.

The nation's current economic picture includes the familiar scourges of
unemployment, job insecurity, eroding pension benefits and a wildly
exorbitant healthcare system that endangers huge numbers of people who
are uninsured or underinsured. Two years after 9/11, the power of money
is undiminished -- notwithstanding every platitude that bounced around
the media echo chamber in the wake of September 11.

During the last months of 2001, many media powerhouses heralded the
arrival of humanistic values for the country. Typically, the December
issue of O -- "The Oprah Magazine" -- was largely devoted to the cover
story "We Are Family." In the lead-off essay, Oprah Winfrey served up a
heaping portion of sweet pabulum. "Our vision of family has been
expanded," she wrote. "From the ashes of the World Trade Center, the
Pentagon, and that field in Pennsylvania arose a new spirit of unity. We
realize that we are all part of the family of America." Later in the
glossy, ad-filled magazine, the "We Are Family" headline reappeared
under Old Glory and over another message from Oprah, who declared:
"America is a vast and complicated family, but -- as the smoke clears
and the dust settles -- a family nonetheless."

>From the vantage point of the present day, the late-2001 claims about a
new national altruism invite disbelief if not derision. No amount of
media spin about "the family of America" can negate the fact that gaps
between wealth and poverty have never been wider. What kind of affluent
family would leave so many of its members in desperate need?

As measured by poll numbers, President Bush's fall from popular grace
this year has brought him back to about where he was just before 9/11.
That decline runs parallel with slumping myths about the transcendent
aftermath of September 11. Subsequent events have brought sobering
realities into focus.

Recent news about Halliburton and Bechtel cashing in on the occupation
of Iraq is a counterpoint to revelations that the White House strongly
pressured the Environmental Protection Agency in the days after 9/11 to
mislead the public about dangers of airborne toxic particles from World
Trade Center debris. The EPA's Office of the Inspector General reported
last month that "the desire to reopen Wall Street" was a major factor in
the Bush administration's misleading assurances. Although the public was
told that everything had changed, powerful elites gave the highest
priority to resuming business as usual.

After September 11, while many thousands of people grieved the sudden
loss of their loved ones, a steady downpour of politically driven
sentimentality kept blurring the U.S. media's window on the world.
Politicians in high office, from President Bush on down, rushed to
identify themselves with the dead and their relatives. Cataclysmic
individual losses were swiftly expropriated for mass dissemination.

In a cauldron of media alchemy, the human suffering of 9/11 became
propaganda gold. Sorrow turned into political capital.

The human process of mourning is intimate and often at a loss for words;
journalists and politicians tend to be neither. Grief borders on the
ineffable. News coverage gravitates toward cliches and facile images.

In tandem with the message that September 11 "changed everything" came
an emboldened insistence on the U.S. prerogative to attack other
countries at will. In a bait-and-switch operation that took hold in
autumn 2001, emblems of 9/11 soon underwent double exposure with
prevailing political agendas.

Displayed by many as an expression of sorrow and solidarity with the
September 11 victims, the American flag was promptly overlaid on the
missiles bound for Afghanistan. In TV studios, like angelic symbols
dancing on the heads of pins, the Stars and Stripes got stuck on the
lapels of many newscasters.

Network correspondents routinely joined in upbeat assessments of the
U.S.-led assault on Afghanistan that took the lives of at least as many
blameless civilians as 9/11 did. Later, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq,
which overthrew a regime in Baghdad with no links to the September 11
hijackings or Al Qaeda, took more civilian lives than 9/11 did. For the
United States, moral reflection could not hold a candle to the righteous
adrenaline of war.

Two years ago, W.H. Auden's mournful poem "September 1, 1939" suddenly
drew wide media attention. Set amid the "blind skyscrapers" of
Manhattan, where "buildings grope the sky," the poem seemed to eerily
echo the World Trade Center calamity with words that closed the first
stanza: "The unmentionable odor of death / Offends the September night."

The concluding lines of the next verse received less notice during the
terrible autumn of 2001. But we now have more reason to consider their
meaning: "Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return."

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public
Accuracy based in San Francisco. He is co-author, with Reese Erlich, of
"Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell You." For an excerpt of
the book, go to: www.contextbooks.com/new.html target

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