The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have since 2005, adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL:

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Week of News: Past, Present and Future

It's not every week you get to see the past, the present and the future of news displayed before you.

This past week was a rare treat.

First, the past...

Last weekend, in advance of the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, both the National Post and the Globe and Mail carried stories about the sputtering anti-war "movement" in the U.S. The gist of both was that the anti-war campaign had failed to find any traction in the general public, and was driven by leftover hippies who were trying to relive their anti-Vietnam protest days.

Those, you may recall, were the glory days of the mainstream media, when anti-war protestors were deified and reporters were applauded for being openly critical of the government and of the military fighting the Communists in Vietnam.

Sadly (for the MSM veterans of Vietnam past), there was the present...

The next day we saw the proof of the advance stories. Anti-war marches across Canada, the U.S. and Europe drew pathetic "crowds." In Winnipeg a mere 75 protestors showed up at City Hall (according to CJOB) with barely 200 anti-everything marchers wending their way through downtown. In Toronto, a thousand protestors turned out, a far, far cry from the estimated 25,000 three years ago.

Even worse than the turnout was the reporting. The daily newspapers in Winnipeg both quoted the official spokesmen for the protests, Darrel Rankin and Glenn Michalchuk, without, as usual, mentioning the Communist credentials of the men. Rankin is the leader of the Communist Party in Manitoba and Michalchuk ran for office under the Marxist-Leninist banner.

While Free Press columnists don't hesitate to attack Christians who run for office or get involved in politics, apparently Communists get a free pass.

Why should their politics be an issue, you ask? Because knowing their Communist affiliations affects their credibility as protestor organizers. After all, who can forget the long history of the Communists in fighting for democracy, what with 90 years of secret police, gulags, absolute press censorship and all.

If you want to align yourself with that history, then your motives for protesting anything are suspect and open to challenge. Not that the Winnipeg reporters can figure that one out.

But the past seven days haven't been a complete bust for journalism. Newshounds got a hefty taste of the future....

All week the internet has been abuzz with startling news that's coming out of official Iraqi documents that have been published online by the U.S. government. Thousands of pages of raw files captured after the fall of Baghdad have been put on the internet to use the skills of private citizens as translators.

The results so far have been astonishing. Not that you would know if by reading the Free Press or the Sun or watching the local television news.

Here's a snapshot of some of the information uncovered in the Iraqi documents this week alone:

* Saddam Hussein began cooperating with Osama Bin Laden as early as March, 1995. Bin Laden contacted Iraqi officials and suggested ""carrying out joint operations against foreign forces" in Saudi Arabia. Saddam agreed to broadcast lectures by a radical Saudi preacher and left the door open for more. This document states "development of the relationship and cooperation between the two parties to be left according to what's open (in the future) based on dialogue and agreement on other ways of cooperation."

Another document reads:

Due to the recent situation of Sudan and being accused of supporting and embracing of terrorism, an agreement with the opposing Saudi Osama bin Laden was reached. The agreement required him to leave Sudan to another area. He left Khartoum in July 1996. The information we have indicates that he is currently in Afghanistan. The relationship with him is ongoing through the Sudanese side. Currently we are working to invigorate this relationship through a new channel in light of his present location.

* Iraq funded the Abu Sayyaf terrorists in the Philippines, an Islamic group with strong ties to al-Qaeda.

* A document dated March 23, 1997 details how "directors and managers" are supposed to hide documents and materials from UN inspectors looking for evidence of weapons of mass destruction.

You might think that evidence of Saddam Hussein's cooperation with Osama Bin Laden, his financing of terrorist activity, and his campaign to hide banned weapons years after he allegedly destroyed his banned weapons would be newsworthy.

Well, it is on the internet and throughout the blogosphere. The MSM, however, has a different slant on what it considers news. You might even call it a bias.

The Winnipeg Free Press carried a story about a tiny town in Vermont voting "to impeach" President George Bush. But have you read a word about the Iraq documents?

Ask yourself why. The information is out there.

Even if you distrust the bloggers who have done the most to spread the new information in the Iraq documents, you can find translations on ABC's webpage. And Fox News. The newspaper can't claim ignorance.

It's decision to print an anti-Bush story instead of information supporting Bush's decision to go after Saddam Hussein is deliberate. The newspaper is promoting the "Bush lied" storyline in the face of facts which undermine it.

Thirty-two years ago, people had no idea how thoroughly the MSM slanted the news. Thanks to the internet, people now know how little they can trust the 'news' they get from the mainstream media outlets.

Newspapers like the Winnipeg Free Press are rapidly becoming yesterday's news.

The past, if you will.

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