President Bush visits the Middle East for the first time
in his 7 years in office

This week on Al-Jazeera's weekly media review show The Listening Post, Richard Gizbert analyses the media's coverage of US President George W. Bush's tour of the Middle East.

We also study the phenomenon of military video games and how they aid in army recruitment programmes.

The cover story in this episode of our show looks at how the media reported George W. Bush's Middle East trip. For the first time in his 7 years in office, President Bush was making a visit to the Middle East. For the American media however, it was the dramatic presidential caucuses that really merited attention.

Amongst Arab news outlets, there was huge skepticism about what George Bush could achieve in the region. Ultimately, what eclipsed the entire tour was a much-debated 'incident' that took place between US and Iranian naval vessels in the Strait of Hormuz.

There was huge skepticism about what George
Bush could achieve in the region

The Pentagon accused Iranian speedboats of threatening American warships while in international waters. A video released by US authorities was immediately contested by the Iranians, who issued their own version of the video.

The debate stirred up by the 'incident' took up most of the coverage of the Middle East tour and was only replaced by George Bush's comments in Abu Dhabi about the Iranian threat to regional and world peace.

The media's coverage of the 'peace push' that was at the core of the Bush trip fizzled out in the heat of US-Iran tension.

Our feature story this week focuses on military video games and the effects they have on gamers. With game developers looking to make their products more realistic and military outfits seeking more effective recruitment tools, military gaming has become an area of cooperation between game developers and national armies.

Military technology is used to create a
convincing 'war environment'
Military technology is used to create a convincing 'war environment', while cleverly designed game themes persuade many players into thinking that war is not as morally complex and painful as it actually is, thus making the games powerful tools for conscription. Salah Khadr takes us through the complex world of military gaming and the issues that gamers don't always realize when they play.

Spinning through media updates in our Newsbytes section, we get you a dose of the Republicans' magic 'R' word – Ronald Reagan. A mash-up of a recent Republican debate shows the candidates repeating Reagan's name like a magic mantra – it's hilarious!

Moving on, we pick up on news of the murder of a Chinese blogger who was publicly beaten to death for attempting to video a protest on his mobile phone.

Sami Al-Haj's wife was informed of a probable
release from Guantanamo Bay 

There's also an update on Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami Al-Haj who has been imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay for over five years.

His wife has said that she was informed of a probable release, but authorities of the prison have not made any formal comment as yet.

We close our show as always, with our internet video of the week. It's a humorous short that Microsoft founder Bill Gates used to announce his departure from active participation in the corporation's operations.

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