In today's tour of state-sponsored terrorism: Syria's media takes a rare jab at an ally, a Chinese propaganda film enters the U.S. 2012 race, and Iran cracks down on the media. We begin in Damascus.
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Frenemies of the State
The Syrian government and the Palestinian militant group Hamas are supposed to be besties. In fact, they even have their own club: "the axis of resistance," the self-styled rat pack of anti-Israel, anti-U.S. countries including Syria, Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah. That's why a Syrian state TV editorial attacking Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal Monday raised eyebrows. The segment accused Mashaal, who moved Hamas' headquarters out of Damascus, of abandoning the resistance movement, suffering from a "romantic emotional crisis," and betraying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The editorial reminded Mashaal of the time he was stranded after getting kicked out of Jordan in 1999 for "illicit and harmful" activities. "Remember when you were a refugee aboard planes. Damascus came and gave you mercy," the editorial said. "No one wanted to shake your hand then as if you had rabies."
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The New York Times says the editorial was issued by a newscaster "in alternatively stern and mocking tones." According to the Associated Press, "The regime's verbal attack appeared to be prompted by Mashaal's decision to take part in a major conference Sunday of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling party. Erdogan has been one of Assad's sharpest critics." The editorial is the latest sign that the 18-month long civil conflict has torn the relationship between Hamas and Syria asunder. Hamas initially stayed on the sidelines during the initial unrest, but after Palestinians grew enraged by the increased violence, the relationship frayed.
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Obama Funds Chinese Propaganda?
In a tangled election season conspiracy, voters in four swing states began to see a 30-second ad accusing President Obama for allowing taxpayer funds to finance a Chinese propaganda film by way of General Motors. It's a little confusing but there's a lot of money behind the campaign ($7 million). Here's what the ad says:
The Chinese Government recently released a propaganda movie on the Founding of the Communist Party. And who was the movie’s primary sponsor? General Motors. Yes. Our taxpayer dollars that President Obama gave General Motors in the auto-bailout are helping promote communism.
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So is it true? According to GM spokesman Greg Martin, not really. Here's what he told the Daily Caller:
“It is not GM. It is not GM money. And it is in no shape or form, or indirectly, taxpayer money,” spokesman Greg Martin told The Daily Caller, which added that “the sponsor, Shanghai GM, said Martin, is a distribution and sales network that “is a completely separate and distinct business entity based in China that has no organizational or financial ties whatsoever” to the Detroit-based company.”In 1995, according to the GM Heritage Center, “GM signed a milestone agreement with China’s Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) for a proposed automotive joint venture, a joint venture technical center, and several other projects in and around the city of Shanghai, assuring GM a major presence in China’s expanding auto industry.”
Will GM's denial penetrate swing state voters? Hard to say. But it's a pretty convoluted ad either way.
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Iran Launches Media Crackdown Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have charmed Piers Morgan but apparently Morgan's peers in Iran don't get the same treatment. According to a new report in The New York Times, the United Nations human rights office has a new report spotlighting a "severe clampdown" on critics within the country.
The independent daily newspaper Shargh was closed and its managing editor, Mehdi Rahmanian, was arrested after it published a cartoon the government said was insulting to the memory of Iranian soldiers who fought in the Iran-Iraq war. A summons has also been issued for the cartoonists responsible...
In addition, Ali Akbar Javanfekr, press adviser to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, was sentenced to six months in jail for insulting Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And the Tehran bureau chief of the Thomson Reuters news agency, Parisa Hafezi, was charged with spreading lies and false propaganda. Iran’s Press TV reported last week that a court would issue a ruling in the case in early October.
Apparently, the only press that is truly free in Iran is the kind that cites Onion stories as fact and later apologizes by saying the BBC messes up too.