UN Expert Slams Media On Misleading Palestine Coverage

Joe Lauria

Joe Lauria, United Nations correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, joined me Sept. 29, on Washington Update to discuss the UN's news-filled fall convocation. Click here to listen to  the one-hour live weekly public affairs show with co-host Scott Draughon, founder of the MTL network. Lauria described a remarkable misunderstanding by most reporters about last week's UN news.

A blunt-speaking expert, Laurias amplified on his Boiling Frogs column, "Why Palestine is Already a State: Shoddy Reporting Misrepresents Palestinian UN Bid," republished just after the show on Huffington Post. He argued, "A combination of mistakes—whether through ignorance or design—and significant omissions of fact have left the American public misinformed about why the Palestinians went to the United Nations last week and what they are trying to achieve." His insights can be heard by archive available globally via the link above.

He continued:

The biggest error repeated across the media in hundreds of headlines and stories is that the Palestinians are seeking statehood at the U.N. In fact, Palestine is already legally a sovereign state and is seeking membership of the United Nations, not statehood. The United Nations does not grant or recognize statehood. Only states can recognize other states bilaterally.

A journalist for more than 20 years, Lauria is part of the Sunday Times of London's investigative unit and also covers the UN for the Johannesburg Star. With former U.S. Senator and presidential candidate Mike Gravel, he is co-author of A Political Odyssey (Seven Stories Press), a look at America’s defense industry and false threats. We welcome call-in questions, as always on the five years we've hosted the weekly public affairs show distributed nationwide on the My Technology Lawyer (MTL) radio network that my co-host founded. For listener questions on upcoming shows (listed on the subsite of our home page): Call (866) 685-7469 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Mac users need Parallels.

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Below are significant articles for this two-week period on legal reform and related political, security and media factors. The articles, including a strong representation from independent blogs and other media, contain a sample of news. See the full article by clicking the link.

President & Civil Rights
OpEd News, President Obama has been a disaster for civil liberties, Jonathan Turley: Oct. 1, 2011. One man is primarily responsible for the disappearance of civil liberties from the national debate, and he is Barack Obama. While many are reluctant to admit it, Obama has proved a disaster not just for specific civil liberties but the civil liberties cause in the United States.

Oppresive Plea Bargains
Harper’ No Comment, When Prosecution Becomes Persecution, Scott Horton, Sept. 27, 2011. Richard J. Oppel has just published a piece in the New York Times detailing the rising prominence of plea bargains in the U.S. criminal-justice system. Some experts say the process has become coercive in many state and federal jurisdictions, forcing defendants to weigh their options based on the relative risks of facing a judge and jury rather than simple matters of guilt or innocence. In effect, prosecutors are giving defendants more reasons to avoid having their day in court.

Special Interest Money Floods Into State Judicial Races, Supreme Court
American Prospect, Under the Influence, Viveca Novak, Sept. 19, 2011.  Over the last decade, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent a huge amount to tilt state courts its way. isconsin epitomizes a broad and destructive trend. Since the turn of this century, business-oriented groups have dedicated big money to loading state supreme courts with judges sympathetic to their cause, installing conservative majorities in state after state. With a nationwide strategic focus, they have won far more than they have lost, and progressives have struggled to match them. See also,America’s Blog, Dem members of Congress say Clarence Thomas violated ethics rules, John Aravosis Sept. 29, 2011.

Cash for Kids Judge Sentenced in Private Prison Scandal

OpEd News, Judge Receives Over 17 Year Sentence For Role In "Cash For Kids' Private Prisons Scandal, Sept, 28, 2011. Michael Conahan, a former jurist in Luzerne County, was sentenced on Friday to 210 months in custody by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Edwin M. Kosik II. Conahan was also ordered to pay $874,000 in restitution.

Presidential Order Kills Citizen

Salon / Unclaimed territory, The due-process-free assassination of U.S. citizens is now reality, Glenn Greenwald, Oct. 1, 2011. It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki. No effort was made to indict him for any crimes. When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts. He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.

Anti-Wall Street Demonstrations

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, What's behind the scorn for the Wall Street protests? Glenn Greenwald, Sept. 28, 2011.  It's unsurprising that establishment media outlets have been condescending, dismissive and scornful of the ongoing protests on Wall Street.  Any entity that declares itself an adversary of prevailing institutional power is going to be viewed with hostility by establishment-serving institutions and their loyalists….In sum, there is a sprawling apparatus of federal and local militarized police forces and private corporate security designed to send this message: if you participate in protests or other forms of dissent outside of harmless approved channels, you're going to be harmed in numerous ways.

Media Baron Protests

Huffington Post, My Destruction by Murdoch, Conrad Black, Sept. 27, 2011. In 2007, I was convicted of fraud and sentenced to six-and-a-half years of imprisonment. At the time I was ranked as the third largest newspaper magnate in the world.... My prosecutors began with a demand for life imprisonment and fines and restitution of $140 million…No sane, fair-minded person could possibly now believe that I was guilty of any crime, and no similarly endowed person, writing from the vantage point I do, could have endured this persecution for over eight years without it diluting his affection for the United States.

Siegelman Follow-up

Legal Schnauzer, Justice Department Continues to Play Hide and Seek with Siegelman Documents, Sept. 26, 2011. The decision to prosecute Siegelman and Scrushy for "crimes" that do not exist under the law rests with the Bush administration. But the decision to stonewall on DOJ records now rests with the Obama administration.

Judicial Support for Spying

Salon / Unclaimed Territory, Dennis G. Jacobs: Case study in judicial pathology, Glenn Greenwald, Sept. 22, 2011. Each time U.S. citizens in the post-9/11 era have accused government officials in federal court of violating the Constitution or otherwise acting illegally with how they spy on Americans, the Justice Department employs one of two secrecy weapons to convince courts they must not even rule on the legality of the domestic spying: (1) they insist the spying program is too secret to allow courts even to examine it (the Bush/Obama rendition of the "state secrets" privilege); and/or (2) because the spying is conducted in complete secrecy, nobody can say for certain that they have been subjected to it, and the DOJ thus argues that the particular individuals suing the Government -- and, for that matter, everyone else in the country -- lacks "standing" to challenge the legality of the spying.

Voting Rights

Legal Schnauzer, Voting Rights Act Withstands a Challenge in the Deep South, Roger Shuler, Sept. 22, 2011. A federal judge yesterday ruled against Shelby County, finding that Congress had ample evidence that minority rights at the ballot box need continued monitoring. Congress voted overwhelmingly in 2006 to extend the Voting Rights Act for another 25 years. Shelby County's lawsuit challenged that decision, but U.S. District Judge John Bates said Congress was well within its rights.

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