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The fog of war

by Migeru Fri Sep 20th, 2013 at 08:27:46 PM EST

Three weeks ago I shared the following article: EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack (By Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh, MintPress News, August 29, 2013)

Dale Gavlak assisted in the research and writing process of this article, but was not on the ground in Syria. Reporter Yahya Ababneh, with whom the report was written in collaboration, was the correspondent on the ground in Ghouta who spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents.

Gavlak is a MintPress News Middle East correspondent who has been freelancing for the AP as a Amman, Jordan correspondent for nearly a decade. This report is not an Associated Press article; rather it is exclusive to MintPress News.

I am quoting only the byline because this has now become a point of controversy in itself.

Antiwar.com: Retraction and Apology to Our Readers for Mint Press Article on Syria Gas Attack (Eric Garris, September 20, 2013)

On August 31, Antiwar.com reprinted an article from Mint Press News: "Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack." We originally linked to it, but then reprinted on our site at the request of Mint Press because traffic on their site was crashing their server. The validity of the story was primarily based on the fact that the supposed co-author (Dale Gavlak) is a reporter for Associated Press.

...

Dale Gavlak has issued a statement saying she did not co-author the article and denies that she traveled to Syria or contributed to the article in any way. Here is his statement:

Mint Press News incorrectly used my byline for an article it published on August 29, 2013 alleging chemical weapons usage by Syrian rebels. Despite my repeated requests, made directly and through legal counsel, they have not been willing to issue a retraction stating that I was not the author. Yahya Ababneh is the sole reporter and author of the Mint Press News piece. To date, Mint Press News has refused to act professionally or honestly in regards to disclosing the actual authorship and sources for this story.

I did not travel to Syria, have any discussions with Syrian rebels, or do any other reporting on which the article is based.  The article is not based on my personal observations and should not be given credence based on my journalistic reputation. Also, it is false and misleading to attribute comments made in the story as if they were my own statements.

Gavlak has apparently sent an identically worded email to Brown Moses, a prominent blogger.


FAIR.org writes about the Mint piece: Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account Is More Credible? (dated September 1, with two Update notices; deletions in the original, presumably as a result of Dale Gavlak's retraction?)

Let's compare a couple of accounts of the mass deaths apparently caused by chemical weapons in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta on August 21. One account comes from the U.S. government (8/30/13), introduced by Secretary of State John Kerry. The other was published by a Minnesota-based news site called Mint Press News (8/29/13).

...

Unlike the U.S. government, Mint does not have much of a track record, having been founded only about a year and a half ago (CJR, 3/28/12). The founder of the for-profit startup is Mnar Muhawesh, a 24-year-old Palestinian-American woman who believes, reasonably enough, that "our media has absolutely failed our country" (MinnPost, 1/18/12).  One of its two reporters on its Syrian chemical weapons piece, Dale Gavlak, is a longtime Associated Press Mideast stringer who has also done work for NPR and the BBC. AP was one of the few US corporate media outlets to question official assertions about Iraqi WMDs, contrasting Powell's assertions with what could be discerned from on-the-ground reporting (Extra!, 3-4/06).

Mint takes a similar approach to the Syrian story, with a reporter in Ghouta-not Gavlak but Yahya Ababneh, a Jordanian freelancer and journalism grad student-who "spoke directly with the rebels, their family members, victims of the chemical weapons attacks and local residents." The article reports that "many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out" the chemical attack. The recipients of the chemical weapons are said to be Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda-linked rebel faction that was caught possessing sarin nerve gas in Turkey, according to Turkish press reports (OE Watch, 7/13).

...

Without Gavlak's byline, and with the allegations of unprofessional behavior on the part of Mint Press News, there's little reason to take the Mint Press story seriously. We leave this post up for the historical record.

So, what's the story here?

Display:


In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 20th, 2013 at 08:36:25 PM EST
Tweet by Sharmine Narwani:
I have heard that she has come under considerable pressure. Ababneh claims he has too.

I recall a California State University System professor of middle east history telling me why he didn't research, write or publicly lecture about recent mid east events. He had a Greek surname and an Egyptian wife, was fluent in Arabic and Modern Turkish and could read Coptic and Ottoman Turkish texts. Both he and his wife had relatives living in Egypt and other mid east countries. He recalled an encounter with a Saudi intelligence officer after a talk he had given in which he discussed aspects of Saudi history. The officer said to him: "You got it right this time."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Sep 20th, 2013 at 10:32:18 PM EST
Fierce debate as it happens now on Brown Moses blog.
by Oui on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 04:50:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Post by blogger econdemocracy

If you want to base things on what one person posts (which you shouldn't) but if you do, one Sandboxer wrote he contacted her and on Aug 30 got a reply,

    "Basically I helped Yahya Ababneh, who traveled to Gouta, to write what he saw and heard. He mainly met with rebels, of course, the father of one of the rebels killed and doctors treating victims in the area. He has traveled to Syria numerous times."
in which she did NOT in any way try to distance herself from the story, let alone talk about wanting to have her name removed. This fellow also claims a Jordanian journalist tells him that Gavlak has been under a LOT of pressure after the article went viral - it's not hard to guess who is unhappy with this article - many parties including the most powerful empire in the history of the human race - the country I live in with 300million others.

And also: it simply does not add up: why would Dale remain for over 3 weeks? All the evidence points to her being O.K., with her name on the article - at least for the first three weeks..she helped Ababneh write it and apparently she has known him for several full years and learned to give significant level of credibility - one source says she knew Ababneh for 3 years, though I haven't verified.

... We haven't even begun to mention other lines of evidence linking rebels to chem attacks - most explosive is two pro-rebel journalists Pierre Piccinin and Domenico Quirico, overhearing while held hostage, rebel commander saying in clear English in adjacent room that they, rebels, had just done a chemical attack in Ghouta area(!) as "provocation" to get US to attack.

Don't forget in the UN Report these "limitations" were repeated:

    Limitations:
    As with other sites, the locations have been well travelled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the Mission. Time spent on the sites was well used but limited. During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.
by Oui on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 01:50:14 AM EST
Daily Mail (yeah, I know...): Journalist and writer held hostage for five months in Syria 'overheard captor's conversation blaming rebels for chemical attacks' (12 September 2013)
An Italian journalist and a Belgian writer who were held hostage in Syria for five months have claimed that they overheard a conversation suggesting that rebel forces were behind a chemical weapon attack on Damascus and not President Assad's army.

...

The pair were released on Sunday night and have now said that they heard a conversation between their captors in English on Skype in which they allegedly revealed that rebels launched the attack to prompt Western forces to intervene.

Quirico, a veteran reporter for La Stampa daily with vast experience of reporting on conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, told the newspaper: 'In this conversation, they said that the gas attack on two neighborhoods of Damascus was launched by the rebels as a provocation to lead the West to intervene militarily.



In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 04:11:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The link above (Pierre Piccinin) is to my post on Sept. 10, the day after the two hostages were released ... Piccinin gave a statement in French.

Belgian who had been abducted in Syria is back

(FlandersNews.be) - Pierre Piccinin da Prata, a Belgian teacher who had been abducted in Syria, is back on home soil. He landed at Melsbroek military airport at 5:40 this morning. He was welcomed by his parents, but also by Interior Minister Joëlle Milquet. The man had been liberated together with Italy's Domenico Quirico, a journalist working for the daily La Stampa, in Syria.

"Ce n'est pas le gouvernement Assad qui a utilisé le gaz sarin"

(RTL.be) - L'enseignant belge Pierre Piccinin da Prata, kidnappé en Syrie au mois d'avril et libéré ce dimanche, a accordé une interview à RTL-TVI ce lundi matin. Il a indiqué que le gaz sarin avait été utilisé par les rebelles, et non par le régime syrien.

Overheard the militants acknowledging that President Bashar Al-Assad was not responsible for last month's chemical weapons attack

by Oui on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 04:32:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Brown Moses Blog: More From Dale Gavlak On The Mint Press Article

Following yesterday's statement from Dale Gavlak on an article published by Mint Press she claims wrongly used her name in the byline, I've now received the following email from Dale based on a statement from her lawyer further clarifying the situation.

Dale Gavlak has sought to make a public statement from the beginning of this incident and now is able to do so.
 
Email correspondence between Ms. Gavlak and Mint Press News that began on August 29 and ended on September 2 clearly show that from the beginning Ms. Gavlak identified the author of the story as Yahya Ababneh, a Jordanian journalist. She also made clear that only his name should appear on the byline and the story was submitted only in his name. She served as an editor of Ababneh's material in English as he normally writes in Arabic. She did not travel to Syria and could not corroborate his account.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 10:15:35 AM EST
After seeing that her name was attached to the article, Dale Gavlak demanded her name be removed. However, Ms. Muhawesh stated: "We will not be removing your name from the byline as this is an existential issue for MintPress and an issue of credibility as this will appear as though we are lying."
Jeebus!

In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 10:20:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we all know that it is appearances that matter.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 12:19:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure this will do wonders for their credibility.
by generic on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 12:30:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dale Gavlak specifically stated in an email dated August 29 "Pls find the Syria story I mentioned uploaded on Google Docs. This should go under Yahya Ababneh's byline. I helped him write up his story but he should get all the credit for this."


In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 10:21:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]


In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 05:49:19 PM EST
Mint Press: Official Statement On Dale Gavlak's Involvement In Syria Exclusive (September 21, 2013)
Gavlak wrote the article in it's entirety as well as conducted the research. She filed her article on August 29th and was published on the same day.

Dale is under mounting pressure for writing this article by third parties. She notified MintPress editors and myself on August 30th and 31st via email and phone call, that third parties were placing immense amounts of pressure on her over the article and were threatening to end her career over it. She went on to tell us that she believes this third party was under pressure from the head of the Saudi Intelligence Prince Bandar himself, who is alleged in the article of supplying the rebels with chemical weapons.

On August 30th, Dale asked MintPress to remove her name completely from the byline because she stated that her career and reputation was at risk. She continued to say that these third parties were demanding her to disassociate herself from the article or these parties would end her career.

On August 31st, I notified Dale through email that I would add a clarification that she was the writer and researcher for the article and that Yahya was the reporter on the ground, but did let Gavlak know that we would not remove her name as this would violate the ethics of journalism.



In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 05:52:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]






In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 05:58:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So AP supports Mint Press News' version of events then? Why else fire Gavlak?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 06:08:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]


In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 06:25:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the fog of war it is easy to step on a land mine. I had suspected Bandar was behind this. Hope Dale Gavlak can find paying work with another organization. Al Jazeera? At least they are not headquartered in Saudi Arabia. But likely they would consider her too radioactive. Possibly some NGO, perhaps Russia Today. Right now she needs a friend - with money.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Sep 21st, 2013 at 07:40:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Once again truth said is taking casualties. And again no one cares about truth said. Carla Del Ponte strangely did grow some spine and told the world what truth is. It did not change anything. Empire and Co are playing same old same old record all over again.
Russians are saying what the truth is...and no one cares.
It's like no one has any credibility at all but they (USA, UK, France etc.) that already cheated and lied about Iraq WMD should be trusted for some reason. That boggles minds, really.  

Truth is irrelevant nowadays. What is important here is what those in powers keep repeating and that will be carved in to the people's brains. Lies about some events during wars in ex YU are still carved in people's brain and some events like Racak (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ra%C4%8Dak_massacre) are very much in dispute but they were "a major factor in NATO deciding to use force against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia". Just an example...I wonder what happened to two journalists from France

They received some support from the French newspapers Le Figaro and Le Monde, which suggested that the KLA could have fabricated evidence. A film crew working for the Associated Press accompanied the Serb forces in Račak for part of 15 January. Two French journalists from the Agence France Press and Le Figaro interviewed the cameramen and saw at least some of the footage, from which they concluded that it was possible that the KLA could have staged the massacre, and that "only a credible international inquiry would make it possible to resolve those doubts." According to the paper,

Of course this women journalist is not even important here, what is important is for them to send message to any other brave journalist to stay away from the truth...they will be told what to report...


Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 04:02:18 AM EST
vbo:
I wonder what happened to two journalists from France

The journalists cited are Christophe Châtelot of Le Monde and Renaud Girard of Le Figaro (the English wikipedia page incorrectly gives his name as René Girard, but you can check him out on the Serbian wikipedia here).

Châtelot is still with Le Monde as a foreign affairs/war journalist. Girard is a still a foreign affairs/war journalist and chronicler with Le Figaro. Neither of them seems to have suffered any inconvenience as a result of their reporting on Račak.

Everything is not as minutely stage-managed as you think...

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 04:50:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah OK.Good for them ( and good France is not anything like Middle East). Point is that what they reported was and stayed irrelevant...like all inconvenient truth...
Not that there was serious neutral investigation on Racak...even if it was...what exactly that would change? NATO bombardment happened...
Remember Iraq ...the country is by the way in full scale civil war with much more killed every single day...It was NOT like that during Saddam who they shamelessly claimed possessed WMD...
and then all we had to say was : "OOOOPPPPSSS sorry , we were wrong" after our great democracies founded on lies bombarded the whole Iraq in to the stone age and started 100 years of civil war there.
Well what is different this time? Maybe just simple truth that Russians said " we had enough" this time with Syria. We came to close to their borders I suppose...Russian bear is awake lately I suppose and with arrest of Green peace activists Russia is telling the world that thare is a"red line" for them too.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 05:20:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Once again truth said is taking casualties. And again no one cares about truth said.
Right now we know very little about the truth of what was said.

In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 05:23:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah...interestingly "fog of the war" is quite tick when evidence is not going the way our Empire and Co prefer but everything is "crystal clear" to them when they are presenting their case...If the truth is not clear to anyone with half mind then how the hell it is crystal clear to Kerry and France officials etc. If they have EVIDENCE let's see it.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 08:14:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could always look here.

Look, on balance, it appears that the most parsimonious hypothesis is that a Syrian commander "went rogue". It's possible that simultaneously the rebels were u to the Saudi-financed shenanigans reported in the Mint Press article.

In the Neurozone, there can be only one.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 08:33:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
it appears that the most parsimonious hypothesis is that a Syrian commander "went rogue"

Couldn't stay way from the technical discussion.

Who Attacked Ghouta?

Summary:

  1. The evidence implying a large-scale coordinated attack out of the capability of the opposition is weak. 
  2. The geolocation of the attack source to military bases is very weak. Actually, a more careful analysis results in locations within rebel held territory.
  3. The evidence associating the regime with the use of rockets similar to those used in the August 21st chemical attack is strong.

So my conclusion at this point is that while some of the Brown Moses evidence is weak, his ammunition analysis is the only evidence for regime responsibility that withstands scrutiny. In future posts I will compare it to the evidence supporting competing hypotheses.

The arguments are all there after the link. I find the distance simulations of the UMLACA interesting. Hopefully Brown Moses will chime in and some back and forth on the issues can shed more light on what we can know. Though I still suspect what we can know is little and what is covered by fog is large.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 04:50:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm obviously behind the curve on this.

In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 05:00:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Gavlak continues emailing people: The Lede (NY Times blog, September 21, 2013)
In a subsequent e-mail to The Lede, Ms. Gavlak said that the article was based entirely on reporting by her friend Yahya Ababneh, a Jordanian journalist. Her only role, she said, was to help Mr. Ababneh translate his thoughts from Arabic to English. Ms. Gavlak added that MintPress, a start-up based in Minnesota, had refused "repeated demands" to remove her byline from the article and that she has now retained a lawyer to press her case.

...

While it is impossible to determine who is right based on these conflicting statements, one part of Ms. Gavlak's account, sent to both The Lede and the Brown Moses blog, seems to suggest that it was perhaps not so unusual for MintPress to have given her at least a share of the byline. Quoting from what she said was an email she sent to her MintPress editors on the day of publication, Ms. Gavlak said she wrote: "Pls find the Syria story I mentioned uploaded on Google Docs. This should go under Yahya Ababneh's byline. I helped him write up his story but he should get all the credit for this."

...

Time again in the online debate over the attacks, bloggers who defend the Syrian government and oppose American military intervention have argued that the MintPress article was credible since it was written by an A.P. reporter. Ms. Gavlak told The Lede that she has been suspended by The A.P. as a result of the article.

...

The dispute over the article has caused even some contributors to MintPress to ask questions about its mission and how it is financed. Steve Horn, an investigative reporter based in Madison, Wis., said in an e-mail that he has decided to cut ties to the news site as a result of Ms. Gavlak's objections to how her name was used. "I departed because I feel I was misled about the credibility of the article -- which I trusted largely because Dale's name was on it -- and because of that, I no longer feel it's a credible outlet. Frankly, I'm not sure it ever was."



In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 05:17:44 AM EST
One shouldn't trust websites who play at online news agency. I am a bit surprised that an professional reporter could fall for this outfit.
by IM on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 08:07:42 AM EST
One shouldn't trust websites who play at online news agency.

FIFY.

The sad fact is that on several key issues, the paid news agencies have had a worse track record than unpaid hobbyists.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 10:15:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, look that doesn't works. Two wrongs don't make a right and the deficiencies of the professional agencies don't excuse the delusions of outfits like Mint press.
by IM on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 11:12:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two wrongs don't make a right

Except in hegemonic foreign policy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 11:14:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Never claimed they did.

No substitute for doing your own due diligence.

I'm beginning to think that if TV stations want to show footage that isn't live, there ought'a be a law requiring them to show an actual screen showing the footage. So when they steal from each other, you could tell by the number of nested screens how far removed from the original the footage is.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 11:57:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yahya Ababneh exposed. Syria "rebel chemicals" story may have come from Russian source

New questions have arisen about Yahya Ababneh, the alleged author of an article claiming that the chemical deaths in Damascus last month were caused by rebel fighters mishandling weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia. 

The story, originally published by an American website, Mint Press News, has since been cited by Russian officials (and others) to cast doubt on the findings of the UN weapons inspectors in Syria.

Mint Press named the journalists who wrote the story as Dale Gavlak - an established freelance based in Jordan who has worked regularly for the Associated Press - and Yahya Ababneh, a Jordanian.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 08:53:22 AM EST
If Yahya Ababneh and Yan Barakat are indeed the same person, the question arises as to why Mint Press called him Ababneh rather than Barakat (which is the name he appears to have used for his other writing). If there were fears for his safety it would have been far better to be up-front about it and declare the use of a pseudonym.

With hindsight, this may also explain why Mint Press was so insistent on including Dale Gavlak's name in the joint by-line.

As far as the most crucial part of the article is concerned, we are also left wondering what to make of Barakat's statement that he was alerted to the "rebel weapons" tale by a Russian who befriended him in Damascus.

I had caught a reference in twitter yesterday to the fact that "Barakat" used the "Ababneh" name only on Mint Press.

But there is more:It appears that

In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 10:18:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Following Benjamin Doherty's link.

Yovav Kalifon | His finger on the pain, Jordanian tells Israelis how it is

Yahya (Yan) Barakat Ababneh is a freelance journalist, Arabic tutor, tourist guide and stage actor. He covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Libya. His stories appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.

Yovav Kalifon | His finger on the pain, Jordanian tells Israelis how it is

Lets take some inspiration from Yan. Here is a man who was not afraid to report from Syria, and got beaten up both by Assad supporters and by rebels, each side accusing him of supporting the other camp.

By coming to Israel to talk to Israelis Yan was again taking risks. His career in journalism, theater connections, respect from family and friends, even his personal safety may be at risk after publishing his reports.

Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News are all in arabic. Anyone skilled in arabic might want to go check what he has written before.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 04:20:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Twitter account of Brian Whitaker, journalist, former Middle East editor of the Guardian newspaper and blogs @al-bab.com. Author of 'What's Really Wrong with the Middle East'.

Yahya Barakat - profile and photo's on VKontakte. Petra University 2002  Born: April 30, 1984 Hometown: St. Petersburg.

 « click for more

VK (Originally VKontakte, Russian: ВКонтакте, literally "in contact") is the second biggest social network service in Europe after Facebook, it is available in several languages but popular particularly among Russian-speaking users around the world, especially in Russia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Moldova, Belarus, and Israel.

The Jordanian reporter uses the name of Yahya Barakat, director of documentary "Rachel Corrie: An American Conscience." Strange coincidence.

by Oui on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 03:53:30 PM EST
The Jordanian reporter uses the name of Yahya Barakat, director of documentary "Rachel Corrie: An American Conscience." Strange coincidence.
Not the same Yahya Barakat:
However, Barakat experienced a tremendous loss when he permanently lost a completed film during the Israeli invasion in Beirut during the 1980s. After leaving his finished film, which chronicled the colonization of Palestine in the years 1922 to 1948, in his studio, he said, the "Israelis entered the studio and take everything." The film disappeared before Barakat even had a chance to showing it to an audience.
(Documenting the Occupation: Director Yahya Barakat discusses working under Israeli military rule, 22 April 2003)

The film director is 30 years older.

In the Neurozone, there can be only one.

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 04:53:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Being a (political) journalist is quite dangerous profession.They are under enormous pressure especially when they tell the truth as it is...
I remember few of them in Serbia that had to pay with their lives...but I will specially remember Dada Vujasinovic because she was so young...Here

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dada_Vujasinovi%C4%87  

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein

by vbo on Sun Sep 22nd, 2013 at 09:22:49 PM EST
Paul Woodward: Mint Press and Dale Gavlak under threat from mysterious `third parties'? (by PAUL WOODWARD on SEPTEMBER 22, 2013)
However, whether Mint Press and one of its reporters, Dale Gavlak, have indeed provoked Prince Bandar's wrath by alleging his involvement in the August chemical attacks outside Damascus, he probably doesn't need to take any action since the publication and journalist are doing a very effective job at destroying each other.

...

The thing to not lose sight of here, is that the MintPress story at the center of this fight contained nothing more than rumors.

Rumors can turn out to be true if they lead to an investigation that reveals substantive facts. But this has been the feature of the rebel-instigated-chemical-attack narrative from beginning to end -- it has been propelled and propagated without any credible supporting evidence. Moreover, those pushing the narrative have shown an unconscionable lack of interest in evidence, allowing themselves to become enslaved to their own ideological convictions.



In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 at 01:59:28 AM EST
Yes, the narrative was based on rumors. So was all narratives about who was guilty until the publication of the UN report. And most written after too.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 at 06:12:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Syria: Controversy surrounding MintPress Ghouta report  by blogger Phil Greaves

(nortehrnsmdotcom) - Following Gavlak's statement release, and after several attempts by myself and many others to contact MintPress News, MintPress editor Mnar Muhawesh in turn released a lengthy statement that defines their position in no uncertain terms: (emphasis added)

    Thank you for reaching out to me in regards to statements made by Dale Gavlak alleging MintPress for incorrectly attributing our exclusive report titled: "Syrians in Goutha claim Saudi-supplied rebels behind chemical attacks." Gavlak pitched this story to MintPress on August 28th and informed her editors and myself that her colleague Yahya Ababneh was on the ground in Syria. She said Ababneh conducted interviews with rebels, their family members, Ghouta residents and doctors that informed him through various interviews that the Saudis had supplied the rebels with chemical weapons and that rebel fighters handled the weapons improperly setting off the explosions.  

    When Yahya had returned and shared the information with her, she stated that she confirmed with several colleagues and Jordanian government officials that the Saudis have been supplying rebels with chemical weapons, but as her email states, she says they refused to go on the record.

    Gavlak wrote the article in it's entirety as well as conducted the research. She filed her article on August 29th and was published on the same day.

    Dale is under mounting pressure for writing this article by third parties. She notified MintPress editors and myself on August 30th and 31st via email and phone call, that third parties were placing immense amounts of pressure on her over the article and were threatening to end her career over it. She went on to tell us that she believes this third party was under pressure from the head of the Saudi Intelligence Prince Bandar himself, who is alleged in the article of supplying the rebels with chemical weapons.

    On August 30th, Dale asked MintPress to remove her name completely from the byline because she stated that her career and reputation was at risk. She continued to say that these third parties were demanding her to disassociate herself from the article or these parties would end her career. On August 31st, I notified Dale through email that I would add a clarification that she was the writer and researcher for the article and that Yahya was the reporter on the ground, but did let Gavlak know that we would not remove her name as this would violate the ethics of journalism.

    We are aware of the tremendous pressure that Dale and some of our other journalists are facing as a result of this story, and we are under the same pressure as a result to discredit the story. We are unwilling to succumb to those pressures for MintPress holds itself to the highest journalistic ethics and reporting standards. Yahya has recently notified me that the Saudi embassy contacted him and threatened to end his career if he did a follow up story on who carried out the most recent chemical weapons attack and demanded that he stop doing media interviews in regards to the subject.

    We hold Dale Gavlak in the highest esteem and sympathize with her for the pressure she is receiving, but removing her name from the story would not be honest journalism and therefore, as stated before, we are not willing to remove her name from the article. We are prepared and may release all emails and communications made between MintPress and Dale Gavlak, and even Yahya to provide further evidence of what was provided to you in this statement.

At the time of writing, Gavlak, or her lawyer, have not responded to the above statement.

... Why the haphazard attempt to disassociate from the story now, three weeks later? It has only given the report an added impotus - highlighted by the fact that a plethora of establishment media pundits and commentators (who originally dismissed and subverted the report) are now going to great lengths to discredit it. There is almost an air of desperation coming from several pundits, going as far as to insinuate that MintPress holds a bias simply because the editors father in-law happens to be a Shi'ite muslim. The NYT lede blog even ran a story on the issue late last night - totally omitting any reference to the crucial pieces of information relayed in the MintPress statement. This is even more perplexing when you consider the fact that outlets such as the New York Times completely ignored recent revelations that the Washington Post's new Jerusalem correspondent is the wife of a Zionist PR tycoon Michael Eglash that regularly lobbies for the Jewish state.

Regardless of the veracity of the original report from Ghouta, and the allegations against the Saud regime held within; MintPress News are undoubtedly within their rights to uphold the Gavlak byline and in turn deem her accountable for its credibility.

by Oui on Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 at 04:16:09 AM EST
This is even more perplexing when you consider the fact that outlets such as the New York Times completely ignored recent revelations that the Washington Post's new Jerusalem correspondent is the wife of a Zionist PR tycoon Michael Eglash that regularly lobbies for the Jewish state.
Irrelevant antisemitic conspiratorial sop?

In the Neurozone, there can be only one.
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 at 04:26:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's part of the official role by Israel and AIPAC in support of a military strike on Syria by President Obama. Israel by it's own initiative has become part of the sad story in Syria's civil/sectarian war.

Gloves Come Off: Israel Lobby Goes All-In for Syrian Intervention, While New York Times Self-Censors
Mondoweiss - 'NYT' deletes references to AIPAC's role in pushing strike on Syria
Gerald Steinberg's Hasbara War

by Oui on Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 at 05:48:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really. Major newspapers have always disliked mentioning their competitors, unless there was really no alternative, and this, relatively minor point, is not one of these. Attacking the NYT for not mentioning that their own Israel reporter has a son in the IDF is valid criticism, but this example is, as Migeru said, irrelevant antisemitic conspiratorial sop.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Mon Sep 23rd, 2013 at 06:16:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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