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Friday, March 4

WARNING: Syria Direct site funded by U.S. Department of State

That according to a report today from VICE NEWS. Before I turn to VICE here is the "About Us" section from the Syria Direct website, which reports on the conflict in Syria:
About Us
Syria Direct is a non-profit journalism organization that produces timely, credible coverage of Syria while training a small group of highly talented, aspiring Syrian and American journalists in professional news-gathering and accurate, in-depth reporting. As a result of agenda-free funding, our focus is on providing credible, original, relevant and immediate news and analysis of the conflict.
From VICE NEWS [emphasis mine]:
The US State Department's Syria Hotline Staff May Not Speak Arabic — or Answer the PhoneBy Avi Asher-SchapiroMarch 4, 2016 - 7:15 am
The US State Department has set up a hotline to help document reports of violence in Syria, but some of the operators working the phones don't speak fluent Arabic, and sometimes nobody answers the phone at all.

The problem was first revealed on Wednesday by reporters with the news site Syria Direct, which receives funding from the State Department. One of its reporters tried to call the hotline on February 27, hours after a "cessation of hostilities" — basically a limited truce — that was brokered by the US and Russia went into effect between many of the parties in Syria's ongoing civil war.
Syria Direct's newsroom in Amman, Jordan had been tracking shelling in several Syrian provinces, and had heard reports of continuing violence after the truce went into effect. But when one of the site's reporters, an American named Orion Wilcox, phoned in the potential violations to the State Department's hotline, the operator on the other end didn't seem to comprehend Wilcox's Arabic.
Now why would Syria Direct bite the hand that feeds it? VICE doesn't say how it learned that the site is a propaganda outlet for the State Department but the word is obviously out about the website's funding. Perhaps the report critical of State's hotline is an attempt by the editor to save face with the site's Twitter followers -- Twitter being the place where the propaganda war against the Syrian government has been prosecuted most strongly.  There would be other guesses as well. 

In any case I quoted from the website once, in January, because I liked a map they provided. On a return visit to the site, it didn't pass muster with me so I didn't mention it again on my blog. Until today.

As to whether I consider VICE a reliable source -- how many times have I quoted a VICE report on the war? There's your answer. As to why I should accept their claim that Syria Direct is funded by State, they didn't write that the site is "reportedly" funded, which suggests they're prepared to source their claim. 

So that's what's out there. When you go to a site like Iran's FARS or Syria's SANA, or Russia's Sputnik for news on the war, you know that you're going to be getting government propaganda with the reporting, so you can learn to separate the chaff from the grain.  

But Syria Direct gives no such warning and it's obviously aimed at young, idealistic readers (as is VICE News) -- read 'credulous.'  

You would think our State Dept Interns would learn Arabic!

But gotta have those resume padders.


Have you thought of covering the slow genocide of Afrikaners in South Africa?

Yes they're White. I get it. But still...
It's hard enough for me to try to keep up with the genocide of Christians in the Middle East but send me what reports you have about the Afrikaners and I'll read them
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