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* Spinning Nepal's Tragedy
* An obituary for Edward Said.
* Reading Strauss scepticly
* Comments On the Einstein Freud letters
* Einstein and Freud
* Part Two - Freud's reply
 
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Interesting links
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* Afghanistan: Abuses by U.S. Forces
* The Hutton Report (excluding appendices –1.9Mb)
* The 'New Anti-Semitism'
Tht full unpublished EU report on anti-semitism (1.11 MB)
* The CIA in Iran
* An Interesting Day: President Bush's Movements and Actions on 9/11
* Jews against the occupation
* Behind the Invasion of Iraq - Research Unit for Political Economy
* The Iraq Crisis: Building the case for a new war.
* The Geneva Convention
* United Nations Charter
* Shaking Hands with Saddam Hussein: The U.S. Tilts toward Iraq, 1980-1984
 
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Important speeches 03/04
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* George W Bush - Address to the United Nations- September 2002
* George W Bush - National Press Conference - March 2003
* US National Security Document - 2003
* George W Bush - State of the Union Adress 2003
* John Howard - Address to Australian Parliament on Iraq - 2003
* George W Bush - Address to the Nation - 17.03.2003
* John Howard - Statement to Parliament - 18.03.2003
* Tony Blair - Address to House of Commons - 18.03.2003
* Colin Powell - Address to AIPAC - 31.03.2003
* Tony Blair - Address to the Labour Party Conference - 30.09.2003
* George W Bush - Address to the Nation -08.09.2003
* George W Bush - Address to the United Nations- 23.09.2003
* George W Bush - State of the Union Adress 2004
* George W Bush - Address to the Nation - 13.04.2004
 
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Spinning Nepal's Tragedy
Jimdai - - Thu 12th, February 2004
Nepal
Events in Nepal today are no joke. They require insight, a sense of nuance, and field research to understand. Thousands of innocents have been killed in a 10-year-old Maoist insurgency, while a pseudo-government wallows in its legendary corruption and incompetence. There is a lot going on in Nepal. It begs for a proper and accurate assessment. However, accurate media coverage of these events is becoming increasingly subverted by a rather callous spin from self-styled political “analysts” who, unfortunately, are using Nepal’s troubles as grist for their agendas.

Perhaps this is a sign of our times, but this spin is no mere free speech issue. Americans know virtually nothing about Nepali politics. We couldn’t care less. We pass off as true anything these “analysts” tell us about Nepal simply because we assume that anyone who cares enough to offer an opinion about events in such an obscure place must surely have researched the subject thoroughly, right? Well, wrong. Even so, we Americans understand opinionated, yellow journalism – we can make up our own minds. It’s an American journalist’s first amendment right to act like an idiot in the print and net media.

Most cultures of the third world have, historically, been spared the brunt of our national rantings, but no longer. Internet cafés can now be found everywhere, bringing this unique form of free speech to Nepal and the remotest corners of our planet. Where all of this goes beyond free speech and freedom of the press is that, while the Nepalis themselves are a fairly astute bunch on matters political, they don’t automatically understand the freedoms we in the United States are given; freedoms that allow even the wildest of viewpoints to gain international media attention. They receive these viewpoints, without filter or analysis, and take them at face value.

World opinion is no joke to a Nepali. They take a very serious look at opinions that come out of the West regarding their situation. They constantly reassess the policies of their new system of government through our Western critiques. But what kind of messages are we sending? Look at Conn Hallinan’s recently constructed piece on the Maoist insurgency in Nepal: Nepal and the Bush Administration: Into Thin Air. When Mr. Hallinan is not drooling over the technical specifications of modern weaponry, he’s indulging in an uninformed attack against Nepali royalty and government. His bend is anti-government, anti-king and democracy at all costs. This is great; makes us all feel good about ourselves, but it has no place in Nepali politics. Mr. Hallinan is trying to paint his picture, for sure, but opinions like his can and do impact a Nepali’s approach to formulating policy. I’ve had the opportunity to reply to Mr. Hallinan- challenging the assumptions of his piece virtually line by line. A full transcript of our discussion can be found by e-mailing me at jimdai@nepalimail.com, but for now, here’s a brief sample of my responses:

To say that “… it was the Nepalese government's attempt to crush rural unrest that sparked the civil war in the first place” is tremendously misinformed. It was a strengthening Maoist movement- thanks to Koirala- and the increased scale of their attacks that made the government act. To say that “… the five political parties had thrown their support behind a growing student movement demanding a republic” is just plain lazy. There is no money or will for these types of movements within Nepal’s student culture. This “movement” was sponsored- nice new banners and all- by the five agitating parties. This is simple stuff. It can be verified by doing actual research; but therein lies the point: Mr. Hallinan and others like him are banking that no one will care enough to challenge him on his facts because, well, no one will likely care about Nepal facts anyway. The article is about his agenda, not the facts. Mr. Hallinan wants us to see a bad, corrupt king and a cruel abusive army, and see them in a western context. While there have been atrocities committed by all parties, and the king is somewhat unpopular, portraying a “people vs. the machine” environment the way Mr. Hallinan does shows his lack of insight (and field research), and serves to further polarized discourse inside Nepal. It’s fun when people get caught in the act. Immediately after my reply, Mr. Hallinan’s tone changed abruptly. Gone was the scholarly debate; in came the defensive labeler: “Look, you support the King, you support the feudal landlords, you support vitual slavery for many Nepalese, you support crushing the latest demonstration. (sic)And you accuse me of not having enough research. I certainly had more than yesterday’s New York Times piece. Just declare yourself a government hack and be done with it. Have a nice day. Conn But it doesn’t stop there. Steven C. Baker in his article: Nepal’s Maoist Insurgency (Frontpagemag.com, July 25,2003) sees a global resurgence of communism through Nepal’s Maoists. He is convinced that there is some covert world communist network that supplies Nepal with both arms and support. He advocates turning Nepal into a sort of bloodbath for democracy in order to fix the problem. Again, his tone changes when confronted with easily obtainable facts. “ I wrote one small article about the CPN and its international connections, ideology, etc. I wish I could be in Nepal learning everything about that country, but alas I only had 1200 words to focus on one issue.” He gets even better: "I don't imagine for one minute that the average Maoist has a clue about Mao or communist ideology. In fact, I would argue that if he/she did, then perhaps they may not want to be involved with it (maybe)." This comes from a guy who just finished shouting about a grand philosophical allegiance of all communists worldwide. (See a complete transcript of my debate with Mr. Baker, and read the impassioned reply of a Nepali student to Mr. Baker’s piece at frontpagemag.com.)

Before Baker there was Nathan Brown and STRATFOR. These are the people that see Nepal as just a pawn in some geopolitical chessboard. STRATFOR ‘s ham-fisted assumption that “Maoists” must naturally be sponsored by China (worldnetdaily.com, June 2, 2001 and others) is breathtakingly ignorant. Mr. Brown’s article: Crisis in Nepal Could Change Regional Balance ( STRATFOR, January 4, 2001), would be frightening if it weren’t so hilarious. In quite an athletic attempt, Mr. Brown concedes Nepal to the communists, sets up Chinese listening posts in Nepal that threaten New Delhi while spying on the U.S. Navy in the Indian Ocean; and eventually spirals outward to include Vietnam, Mongolia and even the Tibetans. But even this level of foolishness is taken seriously in Nepal. In a January 24, 2001 analysis of Mr. Brown’s article in Nepal’s Weekly Telegraph, STRATFOR is assumed to “...reflect American strategic thinking” so, naturally, they must be correct in their assumptions. In this same issue, as a result of Mr. Brown’s piece, comes the article: Political Change in Nepal Imminent, which reflected the fear that Nepalis felt after reading Mr. Brown’s article. There are other examples of this. The most credible source of information about Nepal, Newslookmag.com became the first to respond to Mr. Brown’s article on January 12, 2001 with: Nepal Likely to be a Maoist State. I had the opportunity to discuss this with Mr. Brown on June the 6th of that year and, as usual, the tune changed: “No where do I write that the Maoists will win. At most, I imply that the fights will increase” was his reply. Well, that’s all very good Nathan, but don’t you feel a responsibility to not mislead honest people with your wild speculations? By the way, yes you did say the Maoists will win: “ Nepal is likely headed toward even more difficult times with the probable change of its entire political system, from multiparty democracy to communist state…” and no, the fighting has not increased. Maoists no longer have the capability for large-scale conflict. (Again, all references are available.)

It was never the intention of Hallinan, Baker, Brown or any of these people to actually go to Nepal and do research. Their articles are packed full of boilerplate wire service information and western media bias. They are selling agendas and firing up the masses with their assumptions. Nothing wrong with that- it’s the American way: get people to write checks and subscribe to web services by appealing to their emotions and sense of outrage. But there is another side to this. Somewhere in Kathmandu, a citizen of Nepal is on the internet reading about how powerful communism has become through the Maoists, about brutalities committed by the king’s army, and how America thinks that massive military action is the only way to solve the Maoist problem. This citizen begins to wonder. This being Nepal, the citizen begins to feel increasingly powerless and begins to turn away from following the process of law and perhaps takes to the street in violent protest.

Such is the effect of world opinion in Nepal. This is a reality that is only realized by stepping outside of speculation and agenda and doing actual field research. Don’t think for a minute that Mr. Hallinan, Mr. Baker, Mr. Brown, or any of the others (stay tuned!) have one ounce of compassion for the people of Nepal and their current, tragic situation. Theirs is a world that channels public opinion; that recruits sycophants; that feeds off the most vulnerable aspects of all of us in order to serve their readership and hubris.

Nepal is not some tool used to prove a point. Spinning Nepal’s tragedy to further a narrow agenda is callous, unethical and damaging.

jimdai

(Jimdai is an American journalist living and working in Kathmandu Nepal. He is a frequent contributor to The Kathmandu Post, The Himalayan, and The Annapurna Post; as well as an advocate for media fairness and human rights in Nepal. Jimdai is a pseudonym)

Read Conn Hallinan's article in question: Nepal & the Bush Administration: Into Thin Air
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