Saturday May 25, 2013
An In-Depth Look at Salem-News.com Writers and TopicsTim King Salem-News.com
An Editor's thoughts on managing the daily flow of a high traffic news Website.
(SALEM, Ore.) - Our goal from the first day has been to offer a product for news viewers that is helpful and educational, fast, non-invasive and undemanding, relevant and honest.
We are bound to no political party and yet we do speak out clearly about certain issues.
Salem means Peace, in case you didn't know that, so we have a lot to live up to with a name like that. Arabs say 'Salaam' and in Hebrew it is 'Shalom'.
Many people the world over, do not connect our name with our actual location in Salem, Oregon; they enter the site with a certain expectation.
While the methods vary, I can speak for all of our writers when I say that peace is the most important collective goal we can possibly have.
Veterans in the Ranks
Anyone who examines our staff page, will notice that there are large number of military veterans in the ranks. War backgrounds range from Dr. Leveque and our Op-Ed Writer Hank Ruark's WWII service, to the Vietnam War, where many writers here served.
They include Gordon Duff, Jeff Gates, Ralph Stone, Alan Sabrosky, Chuck Palazzo, John McCarthy, Roger Butow and Jerry West.
Writer Ken O'Keefe served in the first Gulf War, and Phil Northcut fought in Iraq where he served as a sergeant.
As a reporter, Alan Hart covered numerous conflicts including the Six Day War in the Mideast and The Vietnam War for The BBC and ITN. He worked with and interviewed the top players in world politics for many years.
Also from London originally, Dexter Phoenix covered Israel's war on Lebanon in 2006 and other conflicts in recent years. I have covered the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as a photographer and correspondent. Frequent Salem-News.com Writer Belen Fernandez was also in Lebanon during the 2006 war, and has ample experience covering conflict.
I mention all of this because in my opinion, it is important for the people who publish the news, to have a clear idea of how the military operates, and how conflicts are carried out. It is difficult for a reporter to accurately convey information about something that can take years to fully understand.
Of course most of our writers are not Combat Vets or War Photographers, but those of us who are, I believe, have an ability to talk about it with real understanding. Myths about war dissipate like mist when your boots hit the mud in a real combat zone for the first time. It pays to have this kind of experience when you are a reporter covering a world that hosts so much endless military conflict.Another serious aspect to our philosophy, is that of anti-racism. Problems stemming from this serious problem affects everything in our lives, whether people realize it or not. I expand later in this article on a serious investigation we are involved in locally, where racist treatment of blacks in the Oregon prison system goes unchecked year after year.
Racism is a worlwide issue: I experienced it growing up in Los Angeles, then saw it take place inter-culturally while covering politics in Mexico. I saw the hatred between French people and Arab immigrants in Paris, and then again I witnessed this phenomena between the cultural groups of Afghanistan. Western cultures are not supposed to have hang ups when it comes to this archaic behavior, it was supposed to have been stomped out for the final chapter when the defeat of Nazi Germany, but it wasn't. Then Pol Pot went into a murderous drive and had millions of his fellow citizens killed, and yet that wasn't the end.
Few if any cultures are able to avoid racism completely; but it is another thing for a government to sanction different laws for people of different religions, as Israel has. The world should prohibit this, but instead it sides with anything Israel does. At the heart of the Arab/Israeli conflict is racism.
Reporting the Truth About Israel's Military
The existence of Israel, and the subsequent decimation of the population of Palestine, is a constant subject here. We do not believe that the Israeli government has a right to subjugate the Muslim and Christian population of this region over their strict adherence to a religious doctrine and a philosophy that the Jewish race are the "Chosen People". That is religious fanaticism; the same problem we constantly hear about with the Arab countries, but never Israel in mainstream media. The 'Chosen People' as a result of this passage in the Bible, have the biggest self-entitlement problem in history.
It sounds harsh, but it is a fact that Israel has been and continues to practice genocidal behavior toward people whose families lived there for hundreds of years. It is as if the two choices Palestinians are offered, are, "leave or die", and this is not acceptable. I recently wrote about an Arab rap band called DAM that is always top ranked on the charts in Israel. Young Israelis want a peaceful future, they don't want to be forced to serve in the military, as everyone is at 18 in Israel, and they know that Palestinian land in stolen every day by the extreme right wing Netanyahu government. Many want no part of it.
In fact there are vast numbers of Israeli people who do not support this madness and their voices are not heard. The videos we publish of the violence Israel inflicts on Palestinians can not be seen via YouTube in Israel. Israel has filters in place, it is locked down, but still many know and consequently, a large number of the people who write stories here critical of Israel's politics, are Jewish Israelis. They are our brothers and sisters in the human race who know that what is taking place under Netanyahu's government breeds only hostility and endless grief. Many Israeli people want to simply co-exist with Palestinians. We represent their needs as well as those of the Palestinians.
People are often shocked to learn how only 100,000 or so Israeli 'settlers' are the fanatics who cause the hatred to keep its center stage position, and at times spiral out of control. To make matters worse, Israeli 'settlers' willing to live in a new home built on a razed Palestinian village, can live there rent free as long as they stay for ten years, then they own it.
More aggravating, is the fact that 60% of the male settlers don't work and rely on government subsidies, so they can spend all day every day studying the Torah. Then there is the fact that billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer donations are sent to Israel to keep the settlers funded, to fuel the oppression, and also make sure that every Israeli can go to college for free, unlike American kids.
The single biggest thing for western people to comprehend, is that with rare exceptions, the Palestinians have laid down their arms. There is no fighting, just peace protests on Fridays in certain parts of Occupied Palestine. The people march, the Israeli soldiers fire tear gas canisters and beat and arrest them, for walking on land that is supposed to be their own. This is life in Palestine and Israel, it is what Americans support even if indirectly, through taxes.
On the non statistical, human side of it, are our writers on scene like Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh and Yousef Al-Helou. They keep readers up to speed on many aspects of Palestinian life and resistance. In the US writers like Jeff Gates and Alan Sabrosky, join Gordon Duff, Ralph Stone, Gilad Atzmon, Maidhc Ó Cathail in Japan, Dr. William Cook, esteemed British BBC and ITN Reporter Alan Hart, and so many others, in advocating this point of view.
But there is a Star of the hour also, and his name is Ken O'Keefe. This Marine Combat Veteran turned Peace Activist was aboard the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish flagged ship that was one of several packed with supplies destined for the poor and oppressed people of Gaza last May.
Israel maintains an illegal military blockade of Gaza and bombed it for weeks in the winter of 2008/09, killing over 1400 people. Before the 'Gaza Freedom Flotilla' had even reached Israeli waters, Israel attacked the ship, killing nine people, in some cases with repeated point blank shots to the head.
Not a single Israeli attacker was killed; instead they were captured, disarmed and taken into the ship by the activists and given medical treatment. (Read Ken's article about it here: Aug-17-2010: A Beautiful Gift from the BBC - Ken O'Keefe Salem-News.com)
The BBC recently produced a program about it in their 'Panorama' series. In the first 17 seconds of the program, BBC shows an Israeli soldier with his face obscured, said this about their attack on the Mavi Marmara
"They tried to kill each and every single one of us, and we were just defending our lives."
Now think about it.
Again, the first seventeen seconds of Panorama: "They tried to kill each and every single one of us, and we were just defending out lives."
How does the BBC possibly justify the use of that sound bite in the open of the program?
The crew of the Mavi Marmara did not kill Israeli soldiers, though they easily could have. The ship was unarmed, but the crew took the weapons away from the Israeli soldiers. It is ludicrous that The BBC would be so blatant in their desire to convince the public that the Israeli soldier's lives were endangered. It is embarrassing as a journalist, that anyone in this role would be so specifically deceptive and dishonest.
Ken O'Keefe is controversial because of his choice to fight the Israelis aboard the Mavi Marmara, and for having appeared on The BBC program which ultimately treated the story so poorly.
But I can honestly say, having spent years in television stations, that we can never really know what a producer is going to cut from the footage. There was obviously a BBC agenda to discredit Ken, but we have an answer underway for that. Ken, along with Eileen Fleming, Belen Fernandez, and possibly Elias Harb from Intifada-Palestine.com, will be here in Oregon in just a couple of weeks. We will bring Ken to different speaking events, and we will take the opportunity to shoot a documentary with Ken that tells the real story of what happened that night at sea when Israel attacked. Look forward to this exciting short term project.
Israeli Nuclear Secrets Exposed
The other half of this story is that Israel, constantly trying to rally a war with Iran over nuclear weapons that "could" exist, though Iran has clearly stated it has no intention of doing this, has hordes of undisclosed nuclear weapons. Hundreds, according to former U.S. President James Carter, who revealed this officially to the world in 2008. Interestingly, it was 1986 when an Israeli defected from their military nuclear arms program and fled to London. Mordechai Vanunu told the London Times about Israel's dirty secret because he believed Israel to admit what they are doing to the world. Israeli Mossad agents kidnapped Vanunu, and placed him in prison for 18 years.
He is in and out of jail these days, and in contact with our Writer Eileen Fleming for the last several years. To me, Eileen's work with 'V' as she likes to refer to him, is some of the most significant unrecognized journalism to take place in recent years. This is the guy who exposed Israel's nuclear weapons program; Eileen has traveled to Israel and met with him repeatedly.
Again, Salem-News.com is blazing the way forward as the only U.S. news agency covering this, and at some point other media groups will follow. They are so held back by sponsor related issues, that there is no freedom for the press at all today, compared to years past at least.
Our fascinating writer Belen Fernandez from Istabul, Turkey, has a favorite saying from long ago: "Freedom of the Press Belongs to Those Who Own One". I think it was Ben Franklin, funny how something stated then would be so true today. The Internet allows writers like Belen, Author of Coffee with Hezbollah, to reach so many people, compared to for example than she could have before the Internet, and the stories go on reaching people for years when we publish them. All Salem-News.com reports are published forever online and there will never be a cost associated with looking at a story. That is why we seemingly dominate certain search words on Google, a long list in fact; it pays to have heart and make sure everything is constantly accessible.
There are many other fascinating topics Salem-News.com is following closely.
African Affairs Correspondent Alysha Atma, has been making a profound difference by exposing torture, murder and kidnapping of African political opposition leaders. This continues taking place at the hands of governments the U.S supports. Her stories through close contacts in Sudan, Rwanda, and other African nations, have literally saved lives.
The coverage is a result of Alysha spending endless hours on the phone and at the computer, communicating with her contacts on the other side of the world, in opposite time zones. Her effort to expose what is taking place there, has led to several African publications picking Alysha's columns up, which she gladly agrees to.
This is a prime example of how Salem-News.com's unique approach to news brings stories to the world that are extremely important, and otherwise overlooked. They are also politically inconvenient, we don't care about that.
GM Food, Children, and Puppies
April Scott writes articles about genetically modified food and its implications on America's future, with clear research and chilling realities. She cites the real motivating factors in this business-science of greed and control. April doesn't pull punches, and she leaves readers with real information that they can in turn educate their families with. Her work here has led to interviews with radio stations as far away as Australia.
Amanda Leduc's articles range from heart wrenching sagas about endangered dogs, cats and other members of the animal population, to serious stories about the closure of facilities needed by poor children. She also addresses the serious issues of child and spousal abuse in her contributions; subjects that even this media group does not spend enough time discussing.
Another writer on our staff, Coral Theill, contributes heartful essays about her life as a survivor of extreme domestic abuse in Oregon. The Author of Bonshea: Making Light of the Dark:, Coral rose from the ashes to become a distinguished author with the respect of endless thousands who have read her book, available at the link above.
Some of her recent stories, tributes to the achievements of African-American Marines, will resonate forever. Coral's research broke new ground and introduced new facts about a group known as the 'Montford Point Marines'- who like the infamous Tuskegee Airmen, pioneered new ground for black Americans, forever establishing a foothold that would eventually lead to the Marine Corps' banning of all practices the even resemble racism. Her writings became very popular in Iraq in recent years with U.S. Marines who tapped into her wisdom to survive the stress of battle, and today use it to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD.
While I am not able to reference my appreciate toward all of our writers in this article, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Lela Taylor, a Salem Public Access Producer and TV show Host, Lela also generates wonderful articles for Salem-News.com. One of her contributions, about losing her husband, a U.S. Marine Combat Veteran suffering from years of PTSD and alcoholism, is the third pick on Google for those who search liver cirrhosis death. It constantly receives comments though it was written in September 2007, and is one of the few things like it available online. Top Doc
Dr. Phil Leveque, our esteemed writer who the Portland Oregonian once dubbed 'The Most Dangerous Doctor in Oregon' over his role as a medical marijuana physician, is always busy lighting up out pages with his stories about legal medical marijuana use, and the varying treatments and health applications.
Salem-News.com has always taken the idea of medical marijuana seriously, unlike other media. For years, Dr. Leveque has been generating articles and also recording video segments with our Bonnie King, that address questions sent in to the doctor by curious readers. Most questions are simply answered via email, but every now and then they simply demand more.
Speaking of more, Dr. Leveque has to be the biggest encyclopedic resource alive in the world when it comes to anything regarding medicine or pharmacology. 'Doc' Leveque joined the Army and fought in WWII before returning to the U.S. and eventually becoming a Professor of Pharmacology. Dr. Leveque continued studying and also became one of the nation's few actual Forensic Toxicologists.
Dr. Phil Leveque brought Oregon an extremely diverse background and a unique understanding of the issues that faced combat veterans suffering from PTSD. Since he has dealt with it ever since WWII, he happens to have both a professional and personal level of knowledge in this area. All of that was dismissed when the Oregon Medical Board finally found a way to clip his wings. It is a sad case.
Training the first doctors in Tanzania and Uganda, being offered one of the top spots as a Forensic Toxicologist in Baltimore, spending his life raising a family with his late wife, a Holocaust survivor; there are few people who have lived more or seen more, and are still so bright and energetic and happy to help others.
Oregon's regard for Dr. Leveque was to take his ability to practice medicine away, because he signed a medical marijuana permit for a handicapped shut in woman who lived hundreds of miles from Portland, and qualified for medical pot on several levels. Signing that woman's permit, not making her come to his office for a physical; that was Dr. Leveque's big sin.
We recently published a story about how a Tennessee doctor who murdered his wife and mother-in-law was allowed to become a doctor again after prison. Now he is back in jail on new charges. Dr. Leveque is one of the top medical professionals in the world with an emphasis on medical marijuana and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Mainstream Voice for the Marijuana Culture
Bonnie King has been actively covering medical marijuana in recent years, working closely with Dr. Leveque, continually building a particular following as she trails significant stories in this unique seemingly no longer 'counter' culture that uses the growingly legal herb. Her stories show up in blogs all over the world and even in an LA newspaper that apparently doesn't consider paying or notifying writers when they publish their work. The popularity is certainly not working against her though. Bonnie's name is now well known in this subject area, as Dr. Leveque's certainly is.
Perhaps she will always be known best as the writer who chronicled the last months of Author Jack Herer's life. Jack was loved by millions and he suffered a heart attack just over a year ago at the Hempstalk event in Portland, Oregon. The following months saw endless legal wrangling for control of Jack's fate, as he fought and struggled to regain control of his ability to talk and move. Bonnie's Salem-News.com article, "Jack Herer in Eulogy- Global Cannabis Warrior" is published in the brand new edition of Jack's famous book, 'The Emperor Wears No Clothes' which debuted in the mid 1980's.
The other "most famous name" in the marijuana culture is Ed Rosenthal. His new book, 'Big Buds Volume IV' will feature include one of Bonnie's articles about Jack Herer. She says each represents a real honor, and she is very happy above all else, that she had the opportunity to share the funny and meaningful side of Jack Herer, the 'Emperor of Hemp'.
One constant subject our reports center around is the contamination of the old El Toro Marine base in Southern California. In the summer of 2008, we began investigating this serious issue and publishing reports that have never stopped.
In fact they have only grown in intensity, along with our understanding of how deadly and serious the health consequences connected to years of toxic chemical degreasers poured into the ground here really are.
The first round of people in danger are the Marines who served at El Toro, along with their families and civilian base employees and Navy personnel, etc.
When our reports began there was a plan in place to build a park and subdivision on the contamination land.
Soon Google search related to El Toro were flooded with references to the base's dark dangerous past. Now even the plan to build a park is fizzing out.
And in context with that, Salem-News.com is now working with an Irvine City councilwoman who has taken a leading role in ending the charade, and exposing the truth.
Our Laguna Beach based Environmental Writer Roger Butow, is located just a few miles from the base today. In addition to having a strong desire to help his fellow Marines, Roger is an extremely busy water quality activist and the person behind cleanwaternow! It is fortunate for us and unfortunate for the people who were trying to convert the toxic base into a park for kids and luxury homes.
He served there, I served there for two years, and our writers Robert O'Dowd who frequently writes about El Toro, and John Uldrich who is a tremendous resource and contributing member of our research team, were El Toro Marines. So was our Da Nang Vietnam based writer Chuck Palazzo. Other members of our writing team which includes 12 Marines, were also there at different times.
The El Toro problem might have gone unnoticed, had things not lined up the way they did. People have been genuinely helpful on this, once they realize how serious the health problems have been with Marines who served there.
Missing Journalists in SE Asia
April 1970 was a bad month for many in a then rapidly changing SE Asian country called Cambodia, and it represents a time when almost a dozen journalists from half that many countries around the world went missing, almost all falling into the hands of Khmer Rouge Communists who had taken control of the area away from government forces.
I have been following the two missing journalists Sean Flynn and Dana Stone for many years, and I have written numerous articles about what may have happened to this pair the day they disappeared, shortly after warning off a team of French television journalists.
Salem-News.com is working with the Flynn estate in Los Angeles to keep the world up to date on the fate of these missing journalists, as well as the list of others. We have already shared this material at great length and plan to release a great deal more in the future. A link on the front page of Salem-News.com will take you to all of the stories about Sean Flynn and the other missing journalists from the Vietnam War period.
There are many missing reporters and photographers beyond the immediate group that went missing during what is known as the 'Parrot's Beak' operation in Cambodia. We find this subject very worthy of our time and hope to see real results through eventual recoveries of remains.
One of our serious local series that has been underway for several weeks, involves the investigation of a decades old pattern of abuse and illegal corruption in the Oregon State Corrections Dept. The prison in Salem, Oregon State Penitentiary, is the epicenter of the prison system's illegal activity. No agencies in the state will even talk about it. Yet former corrections employees like William Coleman, a guard from 2005 to 2007, who is African-American, have plenty to say about racism, hate crimes, bribery and official corruption taking place within the agency at the highest levels.
In the late 1980's, a Corrections Director named Michael Francke, was brought in as the top prison official by a governor who asked this man to examine the corruption related to everything from drug running and prostitution, to actual cattle rustling that took place well into the 1980's and possibly beyond. At the time of Francke's murder, media in Oregon was still active, looking for stories, and making headlines with news that was worth knowing. Today Salem-News.com leads the way with brave, essential reporting that we have no choice but to follow through with. We believe that there is a brighter day in the future and that a great deal of justice must take place. We are sure that it will not ever happen from within Oregon's government.
Original Art from Salem-News.com's Glen Bledsoe
Speaking of educational; there is a particular master of word and art here named Glen Bledsoe, a local educator, who generates incredible work; two cartoon series that are totally unique and published exclusively on Salem-News.com, and a new project.
YourCity USA features incredible photographs, transformed through Glen's artistic skill into something that is almost transforming; treatment of color and design and light that bring together an image that is better than great, more vivd than real life.
He sets these series around a particular event, or theme, and offers a dazzling array of artwork for our viewers that is simply incredible.
We are one of the only news organizations that utilizes poetry as a delivery format for updates on current events. It seems appropriate and people have very much embraced the concept.
As a little girl raised in Palestine, Nahida Izzat and her family were forced to flee to London as war refugees when Israel launched an unprecedented 'Pearl Harbor style' attack against neighboring Arab nations in 1967, known as the 'Six Day War'- an overwhelming victory for Israel; and one that left many questions unanswered. Nahida's values as a Muslim woman in a western society always take into account the struggle of her people. Her writing is dramatic and clear, it speaks of an epic cultural struggle.
Our U.S. Poet, Luke Easter, is another former U.S. Marine who concentrates on issues relating to morality in today's society. He conveys strong Christian values in his poetry, and attempts to propose an answer, a remedy, at least where and when he can. Racism is a rampant problem in America, and frequently the subject of Luke's work, though he does also offer poetic criticism of today's entertainment industry. Luke challenges youth to study Civil Rights Leaders, and try to live up to real goals.
Even though they are only related through Salem-News.com, and have no personal background or knowledge of one another, Luke and Nahida have what I could only call 'startling similarities', and I suspect that is because they are both legitimate believers in their respective faiths, and in each case their moral values almost mirror one another. I personally enjoyed the realization of this. For total balance I hope to eventually connect with a Jewish poet and also poets of other faiths, to offer a rounded collection of rhyming verse that illustrates past hardship and future goals in an almost forgotten journalistic art form.
This is a long article and yet I have to say I'm sorry that I am not referencing all of our writers. There are many and they are all worth writing about. There is Lee Coyne who writes clever and thought provoking articles based in Salem, Oregon, and other helpful volunteers like News Photographer Jerry Freeman has been helping out by shooting video from news scenes in the local area. His skill level has gone from zero to very proficient in just over a year.
Jerry now has the ability to work for a TV station, keep shooting for us, or take any number or combination of positions if they are offered, because he has the understanding gained through personal training by me. This is the type of trade off that a relationship like this can offer, as mentioned at the top of the story. To clarify, I am not seeking field shooters, but newsroom assistance.
It is true that I could not elaborate enough about the incredible aspects of so many other writers, like Daniel Johnson, whose lively criticism of U.S. politics whips readers into a fury, particularly because he cites factual researched data, hard to argue with. There is Gail Parker in Argentina with her wonderful stories about birds in Patagonia that are soothing and educational. Sometimes she includes audio clips of the exotic birds singing, along with incredible photos. Stories about Afghanistan from Writer Khalil Nouri, whose family is among the most well known as respected Pashtun families in the Kandahar area, are extremely interesting and eye opening.
Our News Photographer Jerry Freeman has been helping out by shooting video from news scenes in the local area. His skill level has gone from zero to very proficient in just over a year. Jerry now has the ability to work for a TV station, keep shooting for us, or take any number or combination of positions if they are offered, because he has the understanding gained through personal training by me. This is the type of trade off that a relationship like this can offer, as mentioned at the top of the story. To clarify, I am not seeking field shooters, but newsroom assistance.
The Salem-News.com Writer and Contributor Team
Articles for August 29, 2010 | Articles for August 30, 2010 | Articles for August 31, 2010
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