Sunday, April 23, 2006

Site Reviews: Some Interesting Sites with Quirks

From now on I'll tend to do site reviews in groups - there are so many out there, I think this will work out better than trying to cover each is a separate blog. Today's reviews focus on a set of interesting sites that have some distinct caveats. I've found that in order to get the true story behind the mainstream news, it can be helpful to wade through sites that contain some strange points of views and odd material. People who distrust and want to look beyond the mainstream news tend to have idiosyncratic personalities and relish the role of the outsider; it's the nature of the beast. That doesn't mean they don't have good information or should be totally dismissed.


The first two sites I discuss, Madsen's and Hopsicker's, are essentially investigative sites.


The second two are sites with some analysis and lots of news links, and both are sites that have major caveats. Despite these, I find them useful and visit them often.


Wayne Madsen Report


Site: www.waynemadsenreport.com


Primary author: Wayne Madsen


Madsen focuses on investigative work in Washington DC. He often comes up with original material, and while it can be difficult to verify, I suspect that much, though not all, of it is accurate. He can be pretty opinionated, and occasionally he does seem to blow things out of proportion. The site can also be full of the minutiae about the details of his investigations. For example, he might list the check numbers of every financial transaction tracked down in a "follow the money" trail, or the plane numbers of every plane involved in a CIA rendition or drug smuggling operation. That can be a lot to wade through. But he does come up with original information, and he tends to update his reports daily, so I typically visit this site a few times a week.



Mad Cow Morning News


Site: www.madcowprod.com


Primary Author: Daniel Hopsicker


Like Madsen, Hopsicker does a lot of original investigative work. He has achieved a significant amount of fame in conspiracy circles for his investigation into Mohammed Atta, which is described in his book "Welcome to Terrorland". This book is, essentially, a very interesting piece of investigative journalism written in a trash novel sort of way. Luckily, the core of his findings, that the FBI timeline involving Atta and its depiction of him as a devout practicing Muslim are totally false, have been recognized and disseminated quite widely. The book also gives some insight into how the local press, after an event such as 9/11, initially does some good investigative work before that is shut down and reversed. And his investigations into the people surrounding Atta and the airports he trained at gives a feeling for the seamy side of the people involved in at least one level of the 9/11 operation.


He continues to do investigative work, almost entirely Florida based (and there's a lot going on down there to investigate), and this site publishes the results of those investigations. Unlike Madsen's reports, these come back only sporadically, so the site need not be checked frequently to keep track of what Hopsicker's up to.



What Really Happened


Site: www.whatreallyhappened.com


Primary Author: Michael Rivero


I view Rivero as being part of the "right wing" branch of conspiracy theorists, though I'm not sure that's a fair characterization - I just tend to group the anti-gun control guys that way. His site has a lot of interesting analyses on all sorts of events, and they're usually quite good; he also updates his news links every day. But there are some major caveats. The biggest is that he has an extreme - well, let's say, "focus" - on Israel, and especially Israeli spying and the Israeli influence on the US. I'm not so sure I'd go so far as to call him anti-semitic, but there's no question it's personal. His first wife was Jewish. I'm guessing it wasn't such a good experience. He's also a bit of a sarcastic wise guy.


Nonetheless, he updates the site daily with interesting news and opinion links, and I go there pretty much every day. And his own analyses of "conspiratorial" events are pretty involved and insightful. If you can get past the Israel obsession and the sarcasm, the site has a lot to offer.



Prison Planet


Site: www.prisonplanet.com (related sites: www.propagandamatrix.com, www.infowars.com)


Primary Editor: Alex Jones


Alex Jones is one of these outlandish "the world is a police state" type of radio hosts that I would have thought was crazy 10 years ago. But, alas, the powers that be have done more than meet him halfway, so his site now seems moderately, if not totally, sane. He occasionally writes an "I told you so" article. The site is also heavily commercialized, and as he gains in success due to the desire for this kind of information he gets even more shameless about peddling his wares.


The site tends to have lots of news links in this "police state" theme, and some fairly over the top articles. Jones also interviews many people, most legitimate, who are involved in attempting to expose things such as 9/11 - I can't say I've listened to these, as they're an option that requires a paid subscription, though I've read some transcripts, and they tend to be OK if you ignore the Alex Jones part. Jones himself is obsessed with such conspiracy red herrings as "Bohemian Grove" and the "Illuminati". Despite this, Jones' site does offer a lot of interesting news links, interviews, and occasionally some new information, so I tend to check it out pretty often.

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