Bill Keller, Executive Editor of the New York Times, on the decision to run the front page photo of a starving child in Somalia in Tuesday’s print edition:
We realize, of course, that the story du jour is the debt vote — to which we devoted the lead story and upwards of four pages this morning — but there’s no reason that has to eclipse a human catastrophe in Africa. Readers can follow more than one important story at a time.
Jeffrey and Tyler went to great trouble and some risk to get as close as they could to the calamity in Somalia. They sent us a harrowing story and vivid, arresting photographs. We put them before the attention of our readers. That’s our job.
Via the Huffington Post
Original story: Somalis Waste Away as Insurgents Block Escape From Famine
Today’s New York Times tackles an important dimension of the faminebattering drought-stricken Somalia: With the media focused on stories like the U.S. debt ceiling debate, the U.K. phone hacking scandal, and theNorway shooting rather than hunger in east Africa, relief organizations are having a hard time raising money. “The overwhelming problem is that the American public is not seeing and feeling the urgency of this crisis,” a Unicef executive tells the paper (a cartoon in The Times of London recently made a similar point more controversially, depicting a starving Somali child saying, “I’ve had a bellyfull of phone hacking”).
The data does appear to back up the claim, though the famine is certainly generating coverage. In the two weeks since the U.N. officially declared a famine in parts of Somalia, the story hasn’t registered on Pew’s News Coverage Index, with the debt crisis, phone hacking scandal, and Norway shooting driving the news cycle instead.
Read more at The Atlantic Wire
More than 11 million people across the Horn of Africa are in urgent need of food assistance and WFP needs your help to get it to them. Here are 10 things absolutely anyone can do to help us save lives.
1. Make an online donation
Over the coming weeks, WFP will feed more people across the Horn of Africa than live in Los Angeles. That’s a big job. Making a secure online donation is one of the best ways you can help us get it done. Donate now.
2. Donate by text message
Don’t have a credit card? No problem. If you live in the United States, Canada or the United Kingdom, you can also donate by text message. Here’s how:
For the US, text the word AID to this number: 27722 to donate $10.
- For Canada, text the word RELIEF to this number: 45678 to donate $5.
- For the UK, text the word AID to this number: 70303 to donate £3.
3. Take the quiz
How much do you know about what’s going on in the Horn of Africa? Find out by taking this short quiz. For every person who takes it, a child will receive a warm meal thanks to an anonymous donor. Put your knowledge to the test and then challenge your friends! Take the quiz
4. Share this video
It’s less than one minute long and will give you a good idea of the situation in the Horn of Africa and what WFP is doing about it. After you’ve seen it make sure all of your friends see it as well. Watch the video
5. Stay current
Thousands of people are on the move across Somalia and WFP is rapidly scaling up its operations in the region. Keep track of developments at our crisis page, where you’ll find the latest news and updates plus photos, videos and stories from the field. Go to Crisis Page
6. Get social
The world needs to know about what’s going on in the Horn of Africa and that starts with your friends on Facebook, your followers on Twitter, your subscribers on YouTube etc. Join our online communities and share the message with your friends and followers. Facebook | Twitter | Youtube
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Are you a blogger? Go check out our collection of banners and then put one on your site. Make sure that the people who come to your blog know what it’s for. If you don’t write a blog yourself, send this link around to the bloggers you like to read and tell them what to do. Grab a banner
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Contact your local newspaper and ask them to publish one of our print ads. Make sure they know that you think this is one of most important stories in the news right now. See the print ads
9. Be creative
There are hundreds of things ordinary people can do to help our operations in the Horn of Africa. Taking up a collection at school or holding a neighbourhood fundraiser are just a few of things are supporters have done to help feed the hungry. If you need some inspiration, find out what 9-year-old Emily did last year to help people left homeless by flooding in Pakistan. Read the story
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TAKE THE GOD DAMN QUIZ.
For much of the day yesterday, the featured headline on The New York Times online front page strongly suggested that Muslims were responsible for the attacks on Oslo; that led to definitive statements on the BBC and elsewhere that Muslims were the culprits. The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin wrote a whole column based on the assertion that Muslims were responsible, one that, as James Fallows notes, remains at the Post with no corrections or updates. The morning statement issued by President Obama — “It’s a reminder that the entire international community holds a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring” and “we have to work cooperatively together both on intelligence and in terms of prevention of these kinds of horrible attacks” — appeared to assume, though (to its credit) without overtly stating, that the perpetrator was an international terrorist group.
But now it turns out that the alleged perpetrator wasn’t from an international Muslim extremist group at all, but was rather a right-wing Norwegian nationalist with a history of anti-Muslim commentary and an affection for Muslim-hating blogs such as Pam Geller’s Atlas Shrugged, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch. Despite that, The New York Times is still working hard to pin some form of blame, even ultimate blame, on Muslim radicals:
Terrorism specialists said that even if the authorities ultimately ruled out Islamic terrorism as the cause of Friday’s assaults, other kinds of groups or individuals were mimicking Al Qaeda’s brutality and multiple attacks.
“If it does turn out to be someone with more political motivations, it shows these groups are learning from what they see from Al Qaeda,” said Brian Fishman, a counterterrorism researcher at the New America Foundation in Washington.
Al Qaeda is always to blame, even when it isn’t, even when it’s allegedly the work of a Nordic, Muslim-hating, right-wing European nationalist. Of course, before Al Qaeda, nobody ever thought to detonate bombs in government buildings or go on indiscriminate, politically motivated shooting rampages. The NYT speculates that amonium nitrate fertilizer may have been used to make the bomb because the suspect, Anders Behring Breivik, owned a farming-related business and thus could have access to that material; of course nobody would have ever thought of using that substance to make a massive bomb had it not been for Al Qaeda. So all this proves once again what a menacing threat radical Islam is.
Then there’s this extraordinarily revealing passage from the NYT — first noticed by Richard Silverstein — explaining why the paper originally reported what it did:
Initial reports focused on the possibility of Islamic militants, in particular Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami, or Helpers of the Global Jihad, cited by some analysts as claiming responsibility for the attacks. American officials said the group was previously unknown and might not even exist.
There was ample reason for concern that terrorists might be responsible.
In other words, now that we know the alleged perpetrator is not Muslim, we know — by definition — that Terrorists are not responsible; conversely, when we thought Muslims were responsible, that meant — also by definition — that it was an act of Terrorism. As Silverstein put it:
How’s that again? Are the only terrorists in the world Muslim? If so, what do we call a right-wing nationalist capable of planting major bombs and mowing down scores of people for the sake of the greater glory of his cause? If even a liberal newspaper like the Times can’t call this guy a terrorist, what does that say about the mindset of the western world?
What it says is what we’ve seen repeatedly: that Terrorism has no objective meaning and, at least in American political discourse, has come functionally to mean: violence committed by Muslims whom the West dislikes, no matter the cause or the target. Indeed, in many (though not all) media circles, discussion of the Oslo attack quickly morphed from this is Terrorism (when it was believed Muslims did it) to no, this isn’t Terrorism, just extremism (once it became likely that Muslims didn’t).
• At least 92 killed in Norway attacks
• Bomb blast in capital Oslo kills at least 7
• 85 killed at youth camp on Utøya island
• Unexploded device found on Utøya
• Norwegian gunman ‘held rightwing views’
A 15-year-old camper named Elise who was on Utoya said she heard gunshots, but then saw a police officer and thought she was safe. Then he started shooting people right before her eyes.
“I saw many dead people,” said Elise. “He first shot people on the island. Afterward he started shooting people in the water.”
Elise said she hid behind the same rock that the killer was standing on. “I could hear his breathing from the top of the rock,” she said.
She said it was impossible to say how many minutes passed while she was waiting for him to stop.
At a hotel in the village of Sundvollen, where survivors of the shooting were taken, 21-year-old Dana Berzingi wore pants stained with blood. He said the fake police officer ordered people to come closer, then pulled weapons and ammunition from a bag and started shooting.
Several victims “had pretended they were dead to survive,” Berzingi said. But after shooting the victims with one gun, the gunman shot them again in the head with a shotgun, he said. (guardian)
Over 80 deaths in Norway terror attacks
Today, in peaceful Norway, a suspect identified as Anders Behring Breivik committed two acts of terror. Early this morning in the capital of Oslo, Breivik set off several bombs in government buildings, killing seven people and injuring at least 15 others. Soon after, the suspect made his way to the nearby island of Utoya where a Labor Party youth summer camp was being held. Posing as a police officer, Breivik told camp officials he was there merely performing a procedural check due to the bombing. He then proceeded to open fire upon the camp of over 500 people, many who were youths. Terrified campers jumped into the sea in an attempt to escape, but the gunman soon starting firing into the water. Early reports indicated that only 9 or 10 had died, but as the day went on it was discovered after searching the island that over 80 had died. This is most the violent massacre in Norway’s history since World War II, and one of the deadly in all history.
Click-through link: New York Times reports
Norway Attacks News Round Up:
Oslo Bombing: A bomb that exploded today near the Oslo offices of Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg claimed the lives of at least 7 people and injured several others, some seriously. The Prime Minister was not in the building at the time and is currently in a safe location.
Summer Camp Shooting: A shooting incident involving a Norwegian-looking gunman disguised as a police officer took place on the island of Utøya at a gathering of the ruling Labour Party’s youth wing, where Stoltenberg was reportedly due to speak tomorrow (former PM Gro Harlem Brundtland was due to attend today). Nine, “perhaps ten” killed, according to police.
Connection: Police believe the attacks are related; AP: Man arrested at Utøya linked to Oslo bombing.
Body Count: The death toll in both incidents is expected to rise, with witnesses reporting at least 20 dead at Utøya youth camp.
Weapon: Some reports suggest the explosion may have been set off by a car bomb; multiple explosions have also been reported; police have asked residents to stay away from the city center for fear that unexploded bombs may be present.
Responsibility: An obscure terrorist group called Ansar al-Jihad al-Alami (Assistants of the Global Jihad) has claimed responsibility for the attacks, calling them retribution for Norway’s “occupation of Afghanistan” as well as “unnamed insults to the Muslim prophet Muhammad”; others have speculated that the attacks, if carried out by al-Qaeda, were likely acts of revenge for the death of Osama bin Laden’s death, involvement in Afghanistan, and/or retaliation for Danish Muhammad cartoons republished in a Norwegian newspaper; an al-Qaeda bomb plot against Norway was uncovered last year.
Reax: President Obama expressed his condolences, adding that the attacks offer “a reminder that the entire community has a stake in preventing this kind of terror from occurring”; Swedish FM: “We are all Norwegians.”
A BBC map detailing the drought in the Horn of Africa shows the incredibly large percentage of the Horn that is in danger. It also shows that the worst effects are concentrated in the South: the Al-Shabaab controlled areas.
This is particularly bad news, because Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s notoriously brutal Al Qaeda cell, is denying that there is a famine at all. Their spokesman, Ali Mohamud Rage said yesterday that the idea that there was a famine was “utter nonsense, 100 percent baseless and sheer propaganda.” They say their ban on aid groups in the areas under their control would remain in effect. Meanwhile, nearly half of the Somali population faces a crisis that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said will take $300 million to address.
[Update: 1:10 p.m. ET, 7:10 p.m. Oslo] NRK journalist Linda Reinholdsen told CNN she was told many of the youth have been evacuated from the mainland island where a shooter has opened fire. But not much more detail than that is known.
Reinholdsen also said that there is an indication that the death toll may climb from the blasts.
“There are still a lot of people dead inside the government building,” she said. “There are going to be a lot of people injured, a lot of people dead.”
[Update: 1:08 p.m. ET, 7:08 p.m. Oslo] Heide Bronke, a State Department Spokesperson, said the U.S. condemns “these despicable acts of violence.”
“We are continuing to monitor the situation, including the safety and security of U.S. citizens,” Bronke said. “Our hearts are with the victims and their families, and we have reached out to the Norwegian Government to express our condolences.”
[Update: 1:05 p.m. ET, 7:05 p.m. Oslo] National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor tells CNN: “The president was briefed on the explosion and reported shootings in Oslo by Deputy National Security Adviser for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism John Brennan.
More : CNN
Keep Norway in your thoughts.
The Guardian also has ongoing coverage.
Former Guardian staffer Neil Perry, based in Oslo, is watching Norwegian television and tells me they are showing images taken from a helicopter showing people still swimming in the water off Utoya Island, presumably they threw themselves into the sea to get away from the gunman. An eyewitness has reported bodies of people who had been shot floating in the water.