Iraq's Ministry of Interior recently released a civilian casualty count for the month of July. Their report accounted for the lost lives of 535 Iraqis, making this past month the most violent since June 2008. This escalation in violence can be attributed in part to a situation which Jeremy Scahill, writer of the ground breaking novel, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army and correspondent for Democracy Now! explains as an unstable country. Iraq is as "unstable as it has ever been," Scahill says. "They [Iraqis] can't form a government. The vast majority of people don't have consistent access to potable water, to electricity, to gasoline... Iraq is a disaster right now."
Recently, the newest batch of Israel-related hasbara was released on a mass scale by the Israeli news website, Ynetnews, which is the online English language news website of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel's most-read news source. It is akin to the New York Times or the Washington Post of the United States, and one of Israel's news sources of prominent distinction.
"There Is No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza"
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel hasbara-extraordinaire, Felix Frankfurter, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and Alan Dershowitz, are both on the record as saying that "there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza." They are not outliers in holding that opinion. Indeed, former neo-conservative Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, the current Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, as well as Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev, are all on the record sharing these sentiments.
BP officials have admitted that members of its staff manipulated official images posted on its Gulf of Mexico Response Web site, and promised to stop the practice. The most recent photo, apparently taken from inside a helicopter cockpit, was altered to make it look as though the helicopter was flying.
There's a new player in the game that is pro-Israel lobby hasbara in the United States: The Emergency Committee for Israel, which is running an ad attacking House Representative Joe Sestak for his positions on Israel.
The Committee has arisen just in time for the 2010 mid-term elections campaign season, and right in the middle of what have been, albeit weak and mostly a public relations stunt, a push for peace talks, mediated by the Obama Administration, between the Benjamin Netanyahu-lead Likud coalition of the Israeli government, and the Palestinians. Even the facade of Obama pushing for negotiations for a two-state solution and holding both sides of the conflict accountable, though, is too much for this new committee, which explains why it has arisen from the dust.
Energy in Depth and the gas industry are deploying spin doctors to counter a new documentary being aired nationwide on HBO. This time around, the truths unearthed about what the impacts would be of methane gas drilling into the Marcellus Shale unveiled by the film Gasland, by scientists, and by investigative journalists, are all victims of a prolific oil industry smear campaign.
Quick refresher: Marcellus Shale is an extensive underground formation of shale in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and other states in the region that has received renewed attention both because of new estimates of the quantity of methane gas believed to be under these rocks, and because of the significant environmental concerns that have been raised about the method of extracting the gas from the shale. "Hydrofracking" is a process in which a fluid is injected at high pressure into oil or methane gas deposits to fracture the rock above and release the liquid or gas below. The process uses enormous amounts of drinkable water, along with toxic chemicals. It also releases radioactive materials and other hazardous substances within the shale deposits, a fact that has raised significant environmental and health concerns.
The celebrity chef Alice Waters is probably the world's most famous advocate of growing and eating local, Organic food. In February 2010 her Chez Panisse Foundation chose as its new Executive Director the wealthy "green socialite" and liberal political activist Francesca Vietor. Vietor's hiring created a serious conflict of interest that has married Waters and her Foundation to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC) and its scam of disposing of toxic sewage sludge waste as free "organic Biosolids compost" for gardens.
For the first time, thanks to an ongoing "open records" investigation by the Food Rights Network, the public and the press have easy online access to dozens of internal SFPUC files (SFPUC Sludge Controversy Timeline), documenting the strange tale of Chez Sludge, or how the sewage industry bedded Alice Waters.
On May 13, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer appointed a task force to address flagging tourism amid the backlash created by Arizona's strict new law on immigration enforcement.
Front group king Rick Berman, who has worked in the shadows for years, is starting to draw closer scrutiny from the IRS, the media and the public for the unique, self-dealing business model he developed to champion for big business. Berman, a former lobbyist, set up six nonprofit organizations with innocuous names like the Center for Consumer Freedom, the American Beverage Institute and the Employment Policies Institute. Despite their nonprofit designation, together these groups provide as much as 70 percent of the revenues of his for-profit enterprise, Berman and Company. The Center for Consumer Freedom, for example, took in $1.5 million in revenues in 2008, of which 93 percent went to Berman and his firm. The American Beverage Institute took in $1.7 million, of which 82 percent went to Berman and his firm. None of his non-profit groups have independent offices or staff, and all of them pay Berman's for-profit business for services like accounting, copying, writing, operating Web sites, placing opinion-editorials, and bookkeeping, which is managed by Berman's wife, Dixie Lynn Berman. Rick Berman sits on the boards of his organizations, holds a total of 24 positions within them, and he serves as Executive Director for most of them. Sounds fishy, right?