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Tereza Coraggio

Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.

We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.

We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.

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Past Shows


You've Been Framed

September 7, 2009

3P-042 Show Information (includes MP3 download link)

Welcome to the 42nd episode of Third Paradigm, entitled You've Been Framed. This week, we'll look at how public opinion can be manipulated by the way that the question is phrased. This might be comparable to taking a painting and putting a wide red frame over it that obscures half the picture and highlights what's red within it. If asked what it's a picture of, the viewer will name the red object. As color analysts know, even the names of colors change, depending on what color they're next to. The eye will push adjacent colors away to create greater contrast. Beige is called pink next to green and labeled green next to red. So even a fixed color shifts inside our eye, as the cones and rods align to accentuate differences.

In the same way, how a question is worded will shift the perspective of the listener. It will put parameters on how much of the context is included and create contrasts and complementary points that change how the facts are colored. Framing draws our mental eye to some details and causes us to brush over others. Derrick Jensen talks about studies showing that people won't see what contradicts their belief system, even when it's right in front of their face. The eye won't track over it. The peripheral vision will register it and keep the iris averted. So what you get, in a cognitive sense, is what you see.

If we want to understand the truth of an issue, we need to first look it in the frame. By understanding the frame, we can begin to dismantle it. Then we can put it in the larger context and get the perspective straight.

The first example we'll apply this to is Mark Hosenball, Special Correspondent for Newsweek, who was on NPR's Talk of the Nation chatting about the Inspector General's Report on the use of torture. We'll take one paragraph and do an analysis on it, ala the media watchgroup FAIR or Fairness-and-Accuracy in Reporting.

Second, the London-based group Survival International has found the winner for their Most Racist Article of the Year Award. And the prize goes to an editorial in Peru's daily, El Correo, which suggests bombing the Peruvian natives with napalm . We'll update you on the indigenous situation in Peru and the media war against it. But Glenn Beck, Fox News, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly will certainly be disappointed that their coverage of Van Jones as a radical extremist didn't qualify. As a consolation prize, we'll check some of their facts or lack thereof. But first, let's read a poem about the difference between seeing and perspective: Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller.

Monet Refuses the Operation

Doctor, you say that there are no haloes
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
wisteria separate
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

~ Lisel Mueller ~
From Sixty Years of American Poetry

This is one of my favorite poems. Mueller describes how the world Monet paints dissolves the frame around reality. For all of my school years before college, I had glasses that I inexplicably refused to wear. Instead, I'd cringe when the nuns had us read from the overhead projector out loud. Since my last name began with a Z, I could rehearse my scolding 29 times before she got to me. Since I couldn't see the board, I never knew what the homework assignment was and spent my formative years with my desk out in the hallway. In sports, I couldn't even see the ball. Socially, I couldn't recognize people from more than a two foot distance, and so walked with my nose in a book. Certainly, my awkwardness and ineptitude can't all be blamed on myopia, but it didn't help.

On the other hand, it probably made me who I am. To me, the world was an impressionistic painting. The exterior reality was soft, fuzzy, and didn't intrude on my interior life. Mike Sirocco, who's blazing through the website design, said I reminded him of a display of tempered glass he saw when he was 10. They applied ice to one side and a blowtorch to the other, and it didn't crack. I'm not ready for the experiment, but I do have a higher tolerance for conflict than most people. That early sense of detachment has served me well.

However, by college I had gotten contacts, and found that there were spaces between the leaves, and a dark side of the moon. But I could still retreat when the world was too much with me. Eight years ago, I had the operation that Monet refused. All I have to say is that relentless clarity with teenagers is enough to drive a person to drink.

But where Monet dissolves Parliament into the fluid dream of the Thames, what passes as journalism today dissolves our heads like the sugar cube people. Let's read the excerpt from Talk of the Nation. This is Mark Hosenball, Special Investigative Correspondent for Newsweek, on the then-pending report from the Inspector General. The emphasis (in red) is mine.

Well, we're going to learn some more details about alleged abuses in the CIA detention and interrogation program, including, as I understand it, some allegation to the effect that at least one detainee, this guy Nashiri, alleged mastermind of the Cole bombing, was somehow threatened that his family members would be abused or raped or whatever. And also, that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind - or I guess the confessed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks - that he was threatened that members of his family would be killed in a part of - if he didn't cooperate with the CIA. So there's - and we reported last Friday - my colleague Michael Isikoff and myself - in Newsweek that the report is also going to allege that the CIA conducted mock executions of some of these detainees to frighten them. And this man, Nashiri, the Cole bomber, was threatened with a gun and a power drill. They held up the power drill in front of him and went (makes noise) with it, the implication being that they would use it on him if he didn't talk. These are all pressure tactics, tactics designed to threaten these people, in the case of the mock executions, with imminent death. And such tactics are forbidden both under International Conventions Against Torture and under American law forbidding torture. So these are allegations, essentially, that the CIA, or CIA people, you know, broke the law by going beyond guidelines -which are pretty flexible guidelines anyway - laid down by the Bush Justice Department in the way that they conducted these interrogations.

Now in my copy, I've highlighted all of the places where he adds phrases and words that color how we hear the facts. I'll now re-read it without them.

We're going to learn more details about abuses in the CIA detention and interrogation program. One detainee, Nashiri, was threatened that his family members would be abused or raped. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was threatened that members of his family would be killed if he didn't cooperate with the CIA. The CIA conducted mock executions of detainees. Nashiri, was threatened with a gun and a power drill they would use on him if he didn't talk. These are tactics designed to threaten people with imminent death. Such tactics are forbidden both under International Conventions Against Torture and under American law forbidding torture. So the CIA within the Bush Justice Department guidelines broke the law by the way that they conducted these interrogations.

See the difference? By taking out over half the words, you get the facts. Of the extra 150 words, six are "alleged" or "allegation." The one making allegations, however, is the Inspector General whose job, like Hosenball's as an investigative reporter, is to inspect and report the facts so others can determine the truth. The word "alleged" is applied with a wink to the detainees, and later dropped. Khalid Sheik Mohammed goes from alleged to "I guess the confessed mastermind of the 911 attacks." The confession reverse-justifies the torture, rather than the torture negating the confession. Nashiri is first alleged and then becomes "the Cole bomber," as his guilt is assumed. They're called masterminds, making them larger than life villains, and invoking images of Dr. Evil. They're also referred to as "this guy," "these people" and "this man" - words that position them as other, unlike you or me.

The most disturbing transition, however, is when Hosenball makes light of threatening to rape their loved ones. Does Hosenball have a wife? A daughter? Would he refer to their rape as "whatever?" And then to imitate the sound of a power drill. Are we on a playground here? How can someone with such an "ooh, did we scare you?" adolescent horror-movie approach call themselves an investigative reporter? For some real reporting, let's listen to the Onion News Network with Who Should Be Held Accountable for Minotaur Maze Interrogations?

[Onion News Network – Minotaur Maze Interrogations]
Is Using A Minotaur To Gore Detainees A Form Of Torture?

Now let's look at the Most Racist Article of the Year Award. It's part of Survival's 'Stamp it Out' campaign which aims to challenge racist descriptions of indigenous peoples in the world's media. The winner receives an inscribed quotation from Lakota Sioux Luther Standing Bear, which is,

"All the years of calling the Indian a savage has never made him one."

The de-lustrious winner, Aldo Mariátegui, is the director and columnist for Peru's daily, El Correo. Incidentally, he once labeled my friend David Bayer an "information terrorist" for his work on how agro-exports like asparagus and grapes have precipitously dropped the water table, leading to imminent drought. "Information" as a form of terrorism makes the "war on terror" a war on information.

In his recent column, Mariátegui refers to Amazon natives as "savages," "Paleolithic," and "primitive," and writes that in protests that have recently engulfed much of Peru's Amazon, they were manipulated by "communist excrement." "For those of you who still think of these "ethnic groups" as "good," "naïve" and "pure," I will remind you that it was these same people who perfected the art of shrinking the heads of their enemies and wearing them on the belts holding up their loincloths," wrote Mariátegui. "If the "natives" didn't shrink the heads of the policemen they killed and eat their remains, it was only because there wasn't time." He concluded by adding: "I don't know what keeps the president from providing the air force with all the napalm necessary."

My student group, Food in the Hood, continues to raise money for the indigenous Peruvians, who were attacked in the Bagua massacre. They had been peacefully protesting for 56 days against the US-Peru Free Trade Agreement, which zones 70% of the Amazon for oil and gas exploration. Without provocation, Garcia authorized police to open fire on crowds of 5000. Photos show armored tanks rolling towards women, children, and men with no weapons other than their traditional spears. Notable in Mariátegui's framing is that "communist excrement" is the outside influence that's manipulated them. The foreign investment that paid for the soldiers, guns, and tanks aren't considered an outside influence.

A Lima judge has demanded that Interpol return the indigenous leaders from Nicaragua, where they've sought asylum. This includes Alberto Pizango, who had been negotiating with the government over mining concessions before the attack, and Teresita Antazú, President of the Union of Asháninka and Llaneza Nationalities, who's charged with 'sedition' and 'rebellion.' Going back to the concept of framing, what does sedition and rebellion mean when you're a plurinational group negotiating with a government that's broken both its own and international law?

Now let's look at the hubbub over that radical green extremist Van Jones. But Glenn Beck is too easy of a target – you just have to aim your logic anywhere in his vicinity. I'd like instead to critique Van Jones' defenders. Here's Ryan Witt's Political Buzz Examiner. He's talking about Van Jones' signature on the 9-11 Truth petition:

"Let me first say I believe the 9/11 Truth Organization's theories are bogus. I have seen various documentaries on the alleged conspiracy theory and read some of the organization's material. In the end I was unconvinced that our government was that evil to allow or perpetrate an attack. Like many conspiracy theories (i.e. Birthers) their argument I find mostly relies on the lack of evidence from the other side rather than any hard evidence they have themselves. Finally, I cannot believe that our government could cover up such a grand conspiracy under the nose of the public and press. Call me naive if you wish - I will call myself reasonable. I do not believe Van Jones should have signed the petition. In the end I think this more a sign of stupidity than any evil intentions by Van Jones."

Santa Cruz's own Ocean Robbins cites this article while petitioning supporters to stand up for Obama's green jobs advisor. Should we make buttons that say, "Van Jones: Stupid but not Evil"? Why aren't we using this to intensify the call for some real answers on 911? Let's look at the substance behind the arguments Witt uses to refute the documentaries he says he's seen. I've highlighted them in red in my copy. He says first, they're bogus because I believe they're bogus. Second, I was unconvinced. Third, our government couldn't be that evil. Fourth, the other side's lack of evidence doesn't prove anything. Fifth, I can't believe they could get away it. Six, I say I'm reasonable. Seven, he just shouldn't have signed. Eight, it was stupid but not evil. Isn't that a backhanded compliment for ya.

Is Ryan Witt's word enough to make you ignore the evidence of your own mind and eyes? Steel-structured buildings don't collapse at free-fall speed. But I wouldn't have been able to see this obvious thing in front of me without the mountain of evidence presented by Richard Gage, founder of Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth. It's hard to see what contradicts your whole belief system, as Derrick Jensen points out. But the evidence is irrefutable and unrefuted – and not, as Witt says, because it's too ridiculous to answer. For more information, check out the episode called Making a Killing, with the bonus interview of Richard Gage.

In Glenn Beck's own words, "among all the radical progressive communist nonsense coming from Obama's green jobs czar, you can now add, 'thinks the Bush administration blew up the World Trade Center and covered it up.'" He goes on to say, "If you believe that about your government, forget about the green jobs, wouldn't you want to find out who in our government was trying to kill innocent Americans, 3000 innocent Americans? Wouldn't that be a top priority?" For once, I think we should listen to Glenn Beck. Now that Van Jones has been heckled out of green jobs, let's support him in becoming the highest profile spokesperson the 911 Truth Movement ever had. As Obama says, if those who perpetrated 911 get away with it, they'll do it again. Don't we need to know who the villains were? A homicide investigation of just one person would have been conducted more thoroughly than this crime has been. Refuse to cave to those who ridicule the questions in order to intimidate us out of asking them. Let's make this our first priority.

This has been Tereza Coraggio for Third Paradigm. A million thanks to Mike Scirocco, who's apologized to me for how fast he's pulling together the website. I barely send off one round of instructions before it's done, with a new set of questions and patient explanations back to me. Thanks as always to my co-conspirator Skidmark Bob for music, production, and editing. Our last song is from my new favorite CD, We Sing. We Dance. We Steal Things. It's...

[Jason Mraz – Make It Mine]

This is Tereza Coraggio with Third Paradigm. As listeners know, the reliability of Free Radio broadcasts of independent news has disintegrated of late. Instead, we often hear dead air or music that's still looping from the previous night. At programmer meetings and on IndyBay discussions, this seems to be of less concern than presenting FRSC, KPFK and other stations as attacking Spanish language programming. At the last meeting, which I didn't attend, a compromise was proposed, which involved adding six more hours of Spanish language news to the schedule, and moving or shortening the English-language programs already scheduled. It was also cautioned that we discuss this without name-calling and personal attacks, implying that we've been doing that. To explain these changes to listeners, a unified statement from FR was urged, supporting Spanish-language programming. This passed unanimously at the meeting, but in the interests of discussion, was tabled until the next meeting on September 20th.

I'd like to propose that listeners, donors, former and current programmers who share an interest in English-language independent news hold our own meeting. Whether Free Radio goes off the air or continues serving another agenda will have the same effect for us – the excellent programming we've supported, with our time or money, will be inaccessible. Since FR runs at a monthly deficit for ongoing expenses, logically, all equipment has been paid for by donors. Who does it belong to? Does a new programmer given the privilege of being on the air automatically become a co-equal owner of the station, to do with it what they want? Do we, as listeners and donors, have any rights? Whether or not I continue as a programmer at FR, I want to continue hearing and financially supporting those who provide the valuable service of finding great programs and reliably making them available to our community. If you'd like to join us and find a time and a place that independent news supporters can meet, please email me. Thanks for your help.

Thanks for listening.