Featuring the works and commentary of Andrew Bruss

Friday, April 29, 2011

A Tragic Wedding

They were happy together... right?

For a society that loves to gawk at human misery, it should be surprising that every media outlet across the nation prioritized the royal wedding over hundreds of tornado related deaths. Thousands of families across the South have been uprooted and destroyed but America would rather watch the most privileged family in the world celebrate themselves.

One of my favorite journalism professors used to say that the news is a hybrid of what people need to know and what they want to know. The royal circus of the past few weeks goes to show how unbalanced those two factors are.

A friend at NPR commented that “if only we reported on everything as much as this damn wedding, corruption would have become nonexistent 30 years ago.”

For those of you reading this who actually woke up at before dawn to celebrate diluted imperialism, I ask you this: When was the last time you woke up at 5am to do anything to improve the world around you? If you’ve got a good answer please comment because my faith in the news consuming public is at an all time low.

Note: The editorial staff at andrewbruss.com is fully aware that the divorce of Prince Charles and Lady Di statistically dispositions Kate and William’s marriage to failure.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

TV on the Radio bassist, Gerard Smith, dies.

I’m very sad to give word that Gerard Smith, 34, has passed away due to an ongoing battle with lung cancer. The bassist for TV on the Radio bowed out from the tour last month after his diagnosis was made public but the hope was he would get back on the road once he recovered.

I had the opportunity to interview Smith in the fall of 2006 after the release of the group's mainstream breakthrough, Return To Cookie Mountain. Smith radiated a very real warmth that I’ve found to be extremely rare in the music industry.

Life on the road can be grueling and unforgiving, but even after an energy draining performance, Smith didn’t even think twice about giving a budding music journalist a break by chatting with him for a few minutes about how the show went. After he talked with me, he continued to greet fans that were waiting for the group outside the venue.

I intentionally avoid blogging about A&E on andrewbruss.com but this really hit home. He will be missed.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Pro-Palestinian Activist Murdered by Palestinians

This grizzly image came from Youtube via Getty Images

In a sad twist of fate, a pro-Palestinian activist from Italy named Vittorio Arrigoni has been brutally murdered by Palestinians in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. His captors wanted a prisoner released in exchange Arrigoni’s life, but Palestinian medical sources say he was killed 24 hours before the deadline was set to expire.

Although Al Jazeera decided not to cover this story, The New York Times considers the crime a challenge to Hamas’ control over the coastal-enclave, and the robust editorial staff at AndrewBruss.com agrees.

If this crime was committed in Israel, politicians would clamor for justice, and the Palestinian Authority would surely do the same in the West Bank. Hamas has said they plan to bring those responsible to justice, but Hamas differs from the Israeli government, and Palestinian Authority for that matter, in the degree to which they’ve used violence and intimidation to enforce their will over those they govern. Given the lack of democratic restrictions on Hamas, their means of preventing crime is far greater than those of Israel, or their political rivals in the Palestinian Authority.

When rockets have been fired at Israel, often resulting in retaliatory air raids that cause civilian casualties, Hamas has proven they can reign in other militant groups when it is in the best interest of the Hamas government (and presumably the civilian population of Gaza). Given their history of keeping both civilian and competitive militant factions under their thumb, the murder of a friendly, Western activist is more than an insult: it is a challenge.

Hamas is not a peaceful organization. Even if you disagree with Israel, the UN and the United States’ assertion that they are a terrorist organization, it is widely understood that within the confines of the Gaza Strip, the Shia organization regularly resorts to violence and intimidation to silence political opponents, critics and business owners whose enterprise could be considered to be “Western.” I’m pretty comfortable going on record saying that if I lived in the Gaza Strip, my fear of being murdered would will me to do everything in my power to stay on Hamas' good side.

Regardless of who is behind the murder of Vittorio Arrigoni, it is clear his killers were not worried about embarrassing Hamas on the world stage, or the way Hamas would respond to this embarrassment. Therein lies the challenge. Hamas has relied upon fear and intimidation to ensure their populace remains obedient, and if Gazans no longer fear Hamas, then Hamas will gradually lose their control.

If these killers get away with their crime, what motivation is there for Islamic Jihad to abide by Hamas-imposed cease-fires? Hamas is currently managing an unofficial cease-fire with Israel that other militant organizations are abiding by. If these organizations were to continue their rocket fire against Hamas’ wishes, the likelihood of a large-scale military conflict with Israel would greatly increase. Thus, the more militant organizations act without fear of reprisals from Hamas, the more likely Hamas will be to find themselves in a damaging conflict with Israel they cannot not predict or control.

Fortunately for Hamas, the likelihood of copycat murders is pretty minimal because the number of Western activists “fighting the occupation” in Gaza is sure to plummet.

UPDATE: 2 arrests have been made.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hamas target killed by Israel… in Sudan

Boms away... allegedly.
I can already tell this is going to be one of those blog posts riddled with the word “allegedly.” If journalism school taught me anything, it’s that the saying anything “allegedly” happened is a solid way to cover your ass and when it comes to Israel’s military apparatus, nothing is ever certain.

A Hamas weapons smugger was killed when his car was struck by a missile in Sudan this week. Reports are coming in that the missile was launched from an aircraft in the Red Sea. Israel is the only regional power with both the means and the will to strike at Hamas from such a distance, and Sudan’s Foreign Minister has already pointed his finger at the Jewish State.

Weapons smuggled into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip regularly make a journey from Iran to Sudan, at which point they head north into Egypt’s vast desert plains before arriving on Israel’s doorstep.

This isn’t the first time Israel allegedly struck back at Hamas arms smugglers in Sudan. In 2009, unidentified aircraft that numerous intelligence sources suggested belonged to Israel struck a convoy of alleged arms smugglers allegedly delivering rockets to Hamas in Gaza. Reports vary as to whether the aircraft in question was an F-15 or even a UAV, so Israel’s right to deny these allegations are sound.

However, Israel doesn’t repudiate any of these charges. Their Foreign Ministry, Prime Minster, or any other authoritative government voice can always be counted on to “neither confirm nor deny” reports pertaining to overseas operations. This is true for both strikes in Sudan, the Stuxnet Super Cyber Weapon that attacked Iran’s nuclear program, the assassination of Hezbollah honcho Imad Mughniyah, or even the existence of their own nuclear program.

While covering an ADL conference this past Fall, a high ranking Israeli General commented that in his country, “those that know don’t talk, and those that talk don’t know.” Israeli Officials are notoriously tight lipped, but sometimes a wink and a nod can say everything. It is the conclusion of the robust editorial staff at Andrewbruss.com that this operation has Israel’s fingerprints all over it.

*Winks and nods*

Monday, April 4, 2011

Barack Obama’s Ass-backwards Presidency

compare and contrast...

You’d think with a title like that, this article would be spent criticizing the president, but to be honest, through pissing off his base, Obama has demonstrated a degree of political courage not demonstrated since Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon.

Obama’s alienation of the left is nothing new.  However, deciding to put 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial at Gitmo certainly is.  Attorney General Eric Holder got the rabble-rousers going in 2009 when he said Mohammed would face a civilian trial in Lower Manhattan, mere blocks from Ground Zero. Now it seems like Obama has some George W. nostalgia because Mohammed and his co-conspirators are being put through military tribunals at America’s most infamous gulag.

Opponents of military tribunals have argued that they are held in cases where there is not enough evidence to convict a defendant. Supporters have suggested that civilian trials of high-risk suspects present a danger to national security.

For the formally “Hopeful” Obama supporters, this is just another case of the president going back on campaign promises. During his inaugural address, Obama said our nation does not have to choose between our security and our ideals, and on his first day in office, pledged to close Gitmo within a year. He didn’t.

Obama said he was going to clean up Wall Street. But his new Chief of Staff, William Daley, recently served on the Executive Committee at JP Morgan Chase & Co. The financial reform bill the Senate passed is a practical joke on the American taxpayer and Obama signed on the dotted line.

His administration is filled with former lobbyists, which goes back on another campaign promise he made to America.

Every president breaks his promises, but with Obama, people feel particularly burnt. What his critics on the left and right fail to realize is it takes courage for a first term democrat to alienate the left.

The decision to try Mohammad at Gitmo was announced the same day as the Presidents re-election campaign and he could have done without the bad press. His decision to reverse a campaign pledge implies a greater understanding of a complicated situation, and a willingness to implement policy with disregard for his popularity. That’s usually the type of thing a president does after he has been re-elected.

The public was against Ford’s decision to pardon Nixon, but history has commended a tough decision that allowed America to move past Watergate.  It is the opinion of the editorial staff at Andrewbruss.com that Obama’s decision to keep Gitmo open and implement military tribunals will be treated with the same understanding.