Mass Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Mass Media Articles in Major Media
Note: Explore our full index to key excerpts of revealing major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.
A CBS News employee, fired after ABC executives informed CBS she'd had access to a leaked hot mic video that revealed the Disney-owned network killed a Jeffrey Epstein scoop, says she did not leak the tape and was unfairly axed without being able to defend herself. Ashley Bianco was a producer on ABC’s “Good Morning America” before joining “CBS This Morning” last month. Earlier this week, the controversial group Project Veritas published the damning video in which ... anchor Amy Robach complained that her bosses killed a story that would have exposed the now-deceased child sex offender Epstein three years ago. Bianco said she was fired by CBS after the network received a call from ABC informing her new boss that she once had access to the leaked video. “I did not" leak the tape, Bianco told journalist Megyn Kelly in an interview posted Friday on YouTube. “I’m not the whistleblower. I’m sorry to ABC, but the leaker is still inside.” CBS News declined to comment on Bianco's claim. Bianco denied ever communicating with anyone from Project Veritas and said she simply made a clip of the video and saved it in ABC's internal system. “I never heard of Project Veritas until this,” she said. Bianco, who deleted various social media accounts before speaking out, said she did not inform her manager that she clipped it, but “everyone in the office was freaked out” by Robach’s comments. “Everyone was watching it,” Bianco said, noting that the purpose for “clipping” it was to watch it back later for “office gossip.” Bianco told Kelly that she doesn’t know who leaked the tape because “everyone” at ABC was aware it existed.
Note: The silence of other most major media around this huge story is deafening. Watch an interview with the fired woman. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein from reliable major media sources.
Ali Alzabarah was an engineer who rose through the ranks at Twitter to a job that gave him access to personal information and account data of the social media service’s millions of users. Ahmad Abouammo was a media partnerships manager at the company who could see the email addresses and phone numbers of Twitter accounts. On Wednesday, the Justice Department accused the two men of using their positions and their access to Twitter’s internal systems to aid Saudi Arabia by obtaining information on American citizens and Saudi dissidents who opposed the policies of the kingdom and its leaders. Mr. Alzabarah and Mr. Abouammo were charged with acting as agents of a foreign power inside the United States, in the first complaint of its kind involving Saudis in the country. The case raised questions about the security of American technology companies already under scrutiny for spreading disinformation and influencing public opinion, showing that these firms can be penetrated from the inside as well. It also underscored the broad effort that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia and his close advisers have conducted to silence critics both inside the kingdom and abroad. Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who was critical of the way Saudi Arabia is run, was murdered last year by Saudi agents in Istanbul.
Note: Read more on Saudi Arabia's extreme efforts to silence its critics. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and media manipulation from reliable major media sources.
Mainstream media outlets have largely ignored the Project Veritas bombshell that ABC News killed a story that would have exposed the now-deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein three years ago. Fox News found no coverage on CNN, MSNBC, CBS News, or NBC News from noon through midnight ET on Tuesday while the story was lighting up social media. During that same time frame, Fox News covered the scandal on five different programs. Mainstream media essentially has an unspoken rule not to cover anything Project Veritas does, as the group’s controversial founder, James O'Keefe, describes himself as a “guerrilla journalist”. But the ABC video has been verified by ... ABC itself as authentic, and has therefore created quite a conundrum for mainstream media. Project Veritas’ most recent project, before releasing ABC News anchor Amy Robach's explosive hot mic tape, was publishing undercover recordings made by a now-former CNN employee who secretly documented staffers criticizing the network. The recordings also captured CNN president Jeff Zucker telling top news executives to focus solely on the impeachment of President Trump, even at the expense of other important news. “The traditional media surely do not like Project Veritas snooping around into their behind-the-scenes operations, but the Project Veritas videos of Amy Robach's and Jeff Zucker's comments do lend insight to the workings of these news organizations," [DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey] McCall said.
Note: Don't miss this most telling leaked video. Listen also to a one-hour interview by Project Veritas of WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein and media manipulation. from reliable major media sources.
Amy Robach of ABC News: “I tried for three years to get it on, to no avail, and now it’s all coming out. And it’s like these new revelations and I freaking had all of it. I am so pissed right now. ... What we had was unreal.” Those remarks come courtesy of James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. The “unreal” story [was] related to Jeffrey Epstein, the shadowy financier who died in prison in August of an apparent suicide as he awaited trial for sex trafficking conspiracy and sex trafficking. In August, NPR’s David Folkenflik documented how three news outlets - Vanity Fair, the New York Times and ABC News - “fell short” in tugging on various strands of the Epstein story. ABC News managed to conduct an interview with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who at the age of 17 had “become part of Epstein’s household.” She has alleged that Epstein “trafficked” her to his friends, including Prince Andrew. “I viewed the ABC interview as a potential game-changer,” Giuffre wrote in an email to NPR. As it turns out, Robach also viewed the interview with Giuffre as a game-changer. “Then the Palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us in a million different ways,” says Robach. “We were so afraid we ... quashed the story. She told me everything. She had pictures, she had everything. She was in hiding for 12 years, we convinced her to come out.” Robach also mentions ... Alan Dershowitz, who represented Epstein in 2008 and also stepped in as ABC News was working on the Giuffre-Epstein story.
Note: Don't miss this most telling leaked video. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein and media manipulation from reliable major media sources.
ABC News' Amy Robach, best known as co-anchor of 20/20, claimed that ABC killed her story about convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein's sex trafficking of minors three years ago in sensational hot microphone footage leaked Tuesday. In the footage, reportedly taken in August and published online Tuesday by the right-wing activist group Project Veritas, Robach, 46, says: "I've had this story for three years. I've had this interview with [Epstein accuser] Virginia Roberts. We would not put it on the air. First of all I was told, 'Who is Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.'" "Then the palace found out we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us in a million different ways," Robach continues, referring to the British royal that Roberts alleged in a 2015 court filing Epstein trafficked her to when she was 17. "[Roberts] told me everything," Robach says in the clip. "She had pictures. She had everything. She was in hiding for 12 years. We convinced her to come out. We convinced her to talk to us. It was unbelievable what we had. Clinton. Everything." Epstein was arrested on federal charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiracy to sex traffic minors in July. He was found dead in his New York prison cell in August. Epstein's death has been ruled suicide by hanging, however, Epstein's family believe he was murdered. A private pathologist hired by the Epstein estate said last week that Epstein's autopsy showed injuries more consistent with "homicidal strangulation" than suicide.
A newly surfaced video of an ABC News anchor's unguarded remarks about the network's coverage of the late Jeffrey Epstein has thrown ABC on the defensive. In a leaked video posted Tuesday by the right-wing activist group Project Veritas, news anchor Amy Robach expresses her frustration to a colleague over ABC's failure to broadcast her interview with a key accuser of Epstein. Robach complains that the network "quashed" her interview, suggesting that ABC had yielded to threats from powerful forces, including Buckingham Palace. Prince Andrew is among those men whom the accuser alleges Epstein trafficked her to for sex. Robach's comments in late August 2019 came just two days after an NPR story disclosed the existence of Giuffre's interview and ABC's failure to broadcast it. In the video, Robach is ... speaking remotely through her microphone with an unseen colleague. "I've had the story for three years," Robach says in the video. "We would not put it on the air. Um, first of all, I was told, 'Who was Jeffrey Epstein? No one knows who that is. This is a stupid story.' Then the palace found out that we had her whole allegations about Prince Andrew and threatened us a million different ways." Robach goes on to say that Giuffre alluded to others in the interview, including former President Bill Clinton, Harvard University law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz and Epstein's former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell. Giuffre has made similar accusations against all of them also in court documents.
Note: Don't miss this most telling leaked video. Read also an article showing how a variety of independent news websites have condemned ABC and CBS over this matter. Meanwhile Newsweek has posted an article titled,"'Epstein Didn't Kill Himself,' Former Navy Seal Blurts Out on Fox News." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein from reliable major media sources.
NBC News President Noah Oppenheim and his boss NBC News Chairman Andy Lack are still running the show. They remain at the helm despite the explosive reporting in Ronan Farrow’s new book “Catch and Kill,” which reveals how Oppenheim and Lack not only shut down the investigation into Harvey Weinstein’s predatory and abusive treatment of women, but how NBC News silenced or ignored multiple allegations of sexual misconduct inside the company ― including overlooking the behavior of “Today” show host Matt Lauer for years before finally firing him in 2017. In an article for Vanity Fair in October, Rich McHugh, the NBC producer who worked with Farrow on the Weinstein investigation, called out Oppenheim and Lack’s handling of the story. “They not only personally intervened to shut down our investigation of Weinstein, they even refused to allow me to follow up on our work after Weinstein’s history of sexual assault became front-page news,” he writes. MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes have criticized NBC management on-air. Current and former employees say they want a true independent investigation of what happened at NBC News regarding Lauer, the Weinstein story, and any other incidents of internal sexual misconduct. The Weinstein story wasn’t the only time Oppenheim’s news organization declined to air a story about a powerful man preying on women. NBC famously sat on the “Access Hollywood” tape in which now-President Donald Trump bragged about assaulting women.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on sexual abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
In Vietnam, citizens were enlisted to post pro-government messages on their personal Facebook pages. The Guatemalan government used hacked and stolen social media accounts to silence dissenting opinions. Ethiopia’s ruling party hired people to influence social media conversations in its favor. Despite increased efforts by internet platforms like Facebook to combat internet disinformation, the use of the techniques by governments around the world is growing, according to a report released Thursday by researchers at Oxford University. Governments are spreading disinformation to discredit political opponents, bury opposing views and interfere in foreign affairs. The researchers compiled ... one of the most comprehensive inventories of disinformation practices by governments around the world. They found that the number of countries with political disinformation campaigns more than doubled to 70 in the last two years, with evidence of at least one political party or government entity in each of those countries engaging in social media manipulation. Facebook remains the No. 1 social network for disinformation, the report said. Organized propaganda campaigns were found on the platform in 56 countries. Governments have used “cyber troops” to shape public opinion, including networks of bots to amplify a message, groups of “trolls” to harass political dissidents or journalists, and scores of fake social media accounts to misrepresent how many people engaged with an issue.
Note: This article completely fails to mention the U.S., which has one of the most sophisticated disinformation programs in the world, yet because the "black budget" for this is so well hidden, few know the extent to which citizens are manipulated both in the U.S. and worldwide. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and media manipulation from reliable major media sources.
About a half a dozen journalists were in a northern California courtroom to cover a third lawsuit alleging that Monsanto’s pesticide glyphosate causes cancer. [Sylvie] Barak told others that she was a freelancer for the BBC. When journalists searched the internet for Barak, they noticed that her LinkedIn account said she worked for FTI Consulting, a global business advisory firm that Monsanto and Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, had engaged for consulting. Monsanto has also previously employed shadowy networks of consultants, PR firms, and front groups to spy on and influence reporters. And all of it appears to be part of a pattern at the company of using a variety of tactics to intimidate, mislead and discredit journalists and critics. In the latest example of Monsanto’s efforts to track journalists, The Guardian reported in August on internal documents from the company’s “fusion center,” which worked to discredit reporters and nonprofits via third-party actors. In the California trial, the reporter who first identified Barak as an FTI plant said she ... saw an uptick in Monsanto’s industry partners contacting her as she covered the trial. A guy named Jay Byrne ... contacted her on social media to discuss how GMO criticism was part of a Russian influence campaign; when she Googled Byrne, she learned he is Monsanto’s former director of communications. In a January deposition, a Monsanto representative said that in 2016 the company spent “around $16 or 17 million” on activities to defend glyphosate.
Note: Major lawsuits are now unfolding over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public on the dangers of glyphosate. Yet the EPA continues to use industry studies to declare Roundup safe while ignoring independent scientists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
From Bloomberg: Fake news and social media posts are such a threat to U.S. security that the Defense Department is launching a project to repel “large-scale, automated disinformation attacks.” One of the Pentagon’s most secretive agencies, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is developing “custom software that can unearth fakes hidden among more than 500,000 stories, photos, video and audio clips.” It’s the latest in a string of stories about new methods of control over information flow that should, but for some reason do not, horrify every working journalist. “Fake news” is a poorly-defined, amorphous concept that the public has been trained to fear without really understanding. Fake news has a long history in America. The worst “fake news” almost always involves broad-scale deceptions foisted on the public by official (and often unnamed) sources, in conjunction with oligopolistic media companies, usually in service of rallying the public behind a dubious policy objective like a war or authoritarian crackdown. From the ... Gulf of Tonkin lie that launched the Vietnam War, to the more recent WMD fiasco, true “fake news” is a concerted, organized, institutional phenomenon that involves deceptions cooked up at the highest levels. If there’s a fake news story out there, it’s the fake news panic itself. Of course, the final, omnipresent ingredient in most major propaganda campaigns is the authoritarian solution. Here, it’s unelected, unsupervised algorithmic control over media.
A coterie of intimidating lawyers. A five-figure donation. Even, it is alleged, a cat's severed head in the front yard of the editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair. Such were the tools the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein is said to have used to try to soften news coverage and at times stave off journalistic scrutiny altogether. Epstein killed himself, authorities say, in federal prison as he faced criminal charges alleging sex trafficking of underage girls, some as young as 14. And yet with a few notable exceptions, the national media infrequently covered Epstein's behavior and rarely looked at the associates who helped him evade accountability for his actions — at least, not until the Miami Herald's Julie K. Brown's investigative series late last year. "We count on the press to uncover problems, not merely to report on when problems have been prosecuted," says David Boies, an attorney for several of Epstein's accusers. "And here you had a terrible problem. A horrific series of abuses." Boies' firm helped file lawsuits in 2015 and 2017 for clients alleging that Epstein and his associates had sexually trafficked underage girls, at his various homes. The suits were publicly available documents but received little attention in the press. In some cases, Epstein successfully scared off some accusers and struck confidential settlements with others, making it harder for reporters to get them to recount their experiences on the record.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Jeffrey Epstein and media manipulation. from reliable major media sources. Then watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US.
When the editor of a weekly paper approached me about writing a regular column about local politics, the first thing I asked her was: “Are you sure you know what you’d be getting yourself into?” I wrote just six pieces before the column was canceled. Two centered on the need for police accountability in a city traumatized by the memory of officers standing by as neo-Nazis beat residents in the streets. In a column published in May, I mentioned a photograph taken in August 2017 of an officer with his arms around James Napier, of the neo-Confederate group the Highwaymen, and Tammy Lee of the American Freedom Keepers militia. Lee’s caption read: “You should know the police escorted us and worked days with us 2b there.” The image of a Charlottesville officer with his arm around a member of a white supremacist militia was to me a perfect illustration of a department choosing to ignore the community it serves. I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was when I received a letter from the attorney for the local Southern States Police Benevolent Association, sent on behalf of the officer in the picture. One of the remarks the letter quoted and claimed to be “odious” and defamatory was taken directly from the after action report, commissioned by the city. Despite the editor’s best efforts on my behalf and the absence of any follow through on the threat of a defamation suit, the paper’s owners did not want to continue to run my column.
Monsanto operated a “fusion center” to monitor and discredit journalists and activists, and targeted a reporter who wrote a critical book on the company, documents reveal. The records reviewed by the Guardian show Monsanto adopted a multi-pronged strategy to target Carey Gillam, a Reuters journalist who investigated the company’s weedkiller and its links to cancer. Monsanto, now owned by the German pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, also monitored a not-for-profit food research organization through its “intelligence fusion center”, a term that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies use for operations focused on surveillance and terrorism. The documents, mostly from 2015 to 2017, were disclosed as part of an ongoing court battle on the health hazards of the company’s Roundup weedkiller. Monsanto planned a series of “actions” to attack a book authored by Gillam prior to its release, including ... directing “industry and farmer customers” on how to post negative reviews. Monsanto paid Google to promote search results for “Monsanto Glyphosate Carey Gillam” that criticized her work. Monsanto “fusion center” officials wrote a lengthy report about singer Neil Young’s anti-Monsanto advocacy. The internal records don’t offer significant detail on the activities or scope of the fusion center, but ... government fusion centers have increasingly raised privacy concerns surrounding the way law enforcement agencies collect data, surveil citizens and share information.
Newly released documents show that another government agency, as well as the Australian Federal Police, was involved in the investigation that led to the raid on the ABC in June. The documents, obtained under Freedom of Information, reveal that the AFP refused to release certain documents relating to the June 6 raid because it said they related to an agency of the Federal Government which is exempt from FOI. Under the section cited by the AFP to justify not releasing the material - subsection 7(1) of the FOI Act - agencies which have complete exemption include the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS). The raid on the ABC's Ultimo headquarters was related to the Afghan Files, a series of stories, published in 2017, which detailed incidents where Australian soldiers in Afghanistan killed unarmed men and children. [South Australian senator Rex] Patrick said ... he believed that the other agency was either ASIO or the Australian Signals Directorate. The primary role of the Australian Signals Directorate is to eavesdrop on conversations and monitor the communications of people of interest outside Australia. The story which prompted one of the raids - on News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst - was about the push by some within the Federal Government to give ASD power to monitor the communications of Australians in Australia, which is currently prohibited by law.
The mother of the first whistle-blower arrested in the Trump era says her daughter is being held under an unjust media blackout to stop the American public learning who she really is. Billie Winner-Davis' daughter Reality Winner, a US Air Force veteran, was sentenced to prison for more than five years in August 2018 as part of a deal in which she pleaded guilty to leaking a classified NSA document providing details of a 2016 Russian cyberattack on a supplier of US voting software. Winner, 27, who worked in the US Air Force's drone program, is serving the longest sentence ever given to a journalistic source by a federal court, according to the Department of Justice. CNN has repeatedly sought permission to interview Winner in federal prison, and recently accompanied Winner-Davis on the seven-hour road trip from her home to visit her daughter at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, where she is incarcerated, but our team was not permitted to go inside. FMC Carswell's warden has denied CNN's requests. Our attempts to speak with the warden over the phone ... were unsuccessful. CNN also sought to interview Winner by telephone but was told by her mother that the former drone operator has been told by prison staff not to add media outlets to her phone list. "She has been warned and she has been frightened as far as the restrictions on her communications," Winner-Davis said. "They're telling her she cannot even have any contact with any kind of journalists or media, in any way, shape, or form."
Note: Read more about Winner's unjust prosecution for blowing the whistle on election interference. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption from reliable major media sources.
For the past 21 years, I have had the high privilege of holding a White House press pass. But no more. The White House eliminated most briefings and severely restricted access to official events. And this week came the coup de grace: After covering four presidents, I received an email informing me that Trump’s press office had revoked my White House credential. I’m not the only one. I was part of a mass purge of “hard pass” holders after the White House implemented a new standard that designated as unqualified almost the entire White House press corps, including all seven of The Post’s White House correspondents. The Post requested exceptions for its seven White House reporters and for me. The White House press office granted exceptions to the other seven, but not to me. I strongly suspect it’s because I’m a Trump critic. The White House is drastically curtailing access for all journalists. Briefings have been abolished in favor of unscheduled “gaggles” ... in the White House driveway. The Pentagon and State Department have done similarly. The White House has also restricted access by allowing only one journalist from a news organization at most events, and by admitting journalists to events only if they register days in advance. This has sharply reduced journalists’ attendance at the White House. White House officials offered me and others it disqualified a lesser credential called a six-month pass. They say it will grant equivalent access, but for various technical reasons, that isn’t true.
Facebook on Thursday banned conspiracy theorist and InfoWars founder Alex Jones and the accounts of other controversial figures. The company, citing violations of its policies on hate speech and promoting violence, is also blocking religious leader Louis Farrakhan, who is known for sharing anti-Semitic views; Paul Nehlen, a white nationalist who ran for Congress in 2018; far-right figures Milo Yiannopoulos and Laura Loomer; and conspiracy theorist Paul Joseph Watson. Those individuals and accounts that represent them are also banned from photo-sharing app Instagram, which Facebook owns. “They have rules, but enforcement is completely random,” said Roger McNamee, a high-profile Silicon Valley investor who has become a sharp critic of Facebook. “They don’t do anything about it until massive harm has been done and they can no longer find a dodge. Facebook is clearly feeling pressure.” McNamee said Facebook’s business model depends on amplifying content that stimulates fear and outrage, and banning a few influential figures doesn't change that. "It is sacrificing a handful of the most visible extreme voices in order to protect a much larger number of users it needs to maximize profits," he said. The Menlo Park, Calif., company didn’t say what specific posts or actions led to the bans, though a spokesperson said that Jones, Yiannopoulos and Loomer have all recently promoted Gavin McInnes, founder of the violence-prone far-right group the Proud Boys, whom Facebook banned in October.
Note: What happened to freedom of speech guaranteed in the US Constitution? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
A group of American hackers who once worked for U.S. intelligence agencies helped the United Arab Emirates spy on a BBC host, the chairman of Al Jazeera and other prominent Arab media figures during a tense 2017 confrontation pitting the UAE and its allies against the Gulf state of Qatar. The American operatives worked for Project Raven, a secret Emirati intelligence program that spied on dissidents, militants and political opponents of the UAE monarchy. A Reuters investigation in January revealed Project Raven’s existence and inner workings, including the fact that it surveilled a British activist and several unnamed U.S. journalists. At first, the goal was to crack down on terrorism by helping the UAE monitor militants around the region. But Raven’s mission quickly expanded to include monitoring and suppressing a range of UAE political opponents. Among its targets was Qatar, which the UAE and Saudi Arabia had long accused of fueling political opposition across the region, in part through the Qatari government’s funding of Al Jazeera. The Emiratis also tapped Raven in the effort to contain dissent at home. After the Arab Spring, the operatives were increasingly tasked with targeting human rights activists and journalists who questioned the government. The Raven effort went beyond the Middle East. Operatives [targeted] the mobile phones of other media figures the UAE believed were being supported by Qatar, including journalists for London-based Arabic media outlets.
Sixteen years ago this week, the United States invaded Iraq. We went in on an unconvincing excuse, articulated by George W. Bush: “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised. This regime has already used weapons of mass destruction against Iraq’s neighbors and against Iraq’s people.” To the lie about the possession of WMDs, Bush added a few more: that Hussein “trained and harbored terrorists, including operatives of al-Qaeda.” WMD became the archetype of a modern propaganda campaign. In the popular imagination, the case for war was driven by a bunch of Republicans and one ... New York Times reporter named Judith Miller. It’s been forgotten this was actually a business-wide consensus, which included the enthusiastic participation of a blue-state intelligentsia. The Washington Post and New York Times were key editorial-page drivers of the conflict; MSNBC unhired Phil Donahue and Jesse Ventura over their war skepticism; CNN flooded the airwaves with generals and ex-Pentagon stoolies, and broadcast outlets ABC, CBS, NBC and PBS stacked the deck even worse: In a two-week period before the invasion, the networks had just one American guest out of 267 who questioned the war. The WMD episode is remembered as a grotesque journalistic failure, one that led to disastrous war that spawned ISIS.
The U.S. government created a secret database of activists, journalists, and social media influencers tied to the migrant caravan and in some cases, placed alerts on their passports. At the end of 2018, roughly 5,000 immigrants from Central America made their way north through Mexico to the United States southern border. As the migrant caravan reached the San Ysidro Port of Entry in south San Diego County, so did journalists, attorneys, and advocates who were there to work and witness the events unfolding. But in the months that followed, journalists who covered the caravan, as well as those who offered assistance to caravan members, said they felt they had become targets of intense inspections and scrutiny by border officials. Documents leaked to NBC 7 Investigates show [that the] government had listed their names in a secret database of targets, where agents collected information on them. Some had alerts placed on their passports, keeping at least two photojournalists and an attorney from entering Mexico to work. The documents were provided to NBC 7 by a Homeland Security source on the condition of anonymity. The individuals listed include ten journalists, seven of whom are U.S. citizens, a U.S. attorney, and 48 people from the U.S. and other countries, labeled as organizers, instigators or their roles “unknown.” In addition to flagging the individuals for secondary screenings, the Homeland Security source told NBC 7 that the agents also created dossiers on each person listed.
The vast majority of the people who propose and make changes to Wikipedia are volunteers. A few people, however, have figured out how to manipulate Wikipedia’s supposedly neutral system to turn a profit. That’s [paid Wikipedia editor Ed] Sussman’s business. And in just the past few years, companies including Axios, NBC, Nextdoor and Facebook’s PR firm have all paid him to manipulate public perception using a tool most people would never think to check. One of Wikipedia’s more well-known rules is its prohibition on editing pages that you have any sort of direct connection to. But ... anyone, even someone financially tied to the subject in question, is allowed to merely suggest edits in the hopes that a less conflicted editor might come by, agree, and implement the changes for them. This is where a paid editor like Sussman comes in. On his website, Sussman identifies himself as “a journalist, lawyer, academic and technology entrepreneur” who “is often called upon in ‘crisis management’ situations where inaccurate or misleading information has been placed in a Wikipedia article.” Sussman’s main strategy for convincing editors to make the changes his clients want is to cite as many tangentially related rules as possible (he is, after all, a lawyer). He often replies to nearly every single bit of pushback with walls of text arguing his case. Trying to get through even a fraction of it is exhausting, and because Wikipedia editors are unpaid, there’s little motivation to continue dealing with Sussman’s arguments. So he usually gets his way.
It may have shocked the world when the publisher of the National Enquirer allegedly tried to use nude pictures to coerce Jeff Bezos. But it came as no surprise to ... veterans of the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc. “The threats, the blackmail, that’s their business model,” one former National Enquirer staffer told The Daily Beast. That model burst out into public view on Thursday night when Bezos - the world’s richest man, the founder of Amazon, and the owner of The Washington Post - published emails from AMI chief content officer Dylan Howard that threatened the release of a “d*ck pick” if the Post didn’t relent in its investigation of AMI. It was a familiar moment to Paul Barresi, a private investigator who spent years working on cases that informed stories in AMI. “The National Enquirer had some people who would go to a celebrity and say, ‘unless you give in to a one-on-one interview ... we’re going to report XYZ,” he said. “The nice way of calling it was quid pro quo, but really it was blackmail.” The supermarket tabloid company’s bag of dirty tricks is well-chronicled and includes catch-and-kill operations: paying for an exclusive interview only to bury it, as a favor to an ally or after using the dirt to convince a celebrity to play ball with them. Most infamously, AMI has admitted it paid ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 in hush money for her story of an affair with Donald Trump, which never saw the light of day.
Note: WTK founder Fred Burks saw personally how the Enquirer is much more highly guarded than any other major media. He is almost certain it is a CIA front used to manage disinformation and discredit real stories that seem unbelievable. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in the corporate world and in mass media.
There are goodbye notes — and then there's William Arkin's frustrated farewell to NBC News. Arkin's 2,228-word memo to his colleagues says that his time at NBC News has been "gratifying." But he bluntly expresses his displeasure with the "Trump circus," US foreign policy failures, and the state of television news. He's far from the only person in a national newsroom to feel that way. But he is spelling it out in no uncertain terms. Arkin has worked for NBC on and off for three decades, sometimes as a military analyst, sometimes as a reporter and consultant. He describes himself as a scholar at heart, and he has authored numerous books about national security. Friday will be his last day at NBC. Arkin is a sharp critic of what he calls "perpetual war" and the "creeping fascism of homeland security." In his farewell memo, he said the American press is not aggressive enough about covering military engagements. "I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders," he said. "I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting." He said that most of his critiques of NBC apply to the rest of the news media, as well. He also said in the memo that the Trump age led NBC to start "emulating the national security state itself — busy and profitable. No wars won but the ball is kept in play."
Note: See also an excellent interview with Mr. Arkin about his departure from NBC. For more on this, see this concise summary of War Is A Racket, a powerful book written by one of the most highly decorated US generals ever. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on war corruption from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Media Information Center.
The headline in the New York Times reads: “Sanders and Warren Meet and Agree: They Both Are Probably Running.” At first, the story ... reads like standard election news. Dig deeper, though, and you find signs of negative media campaigns already beginning in earnest. Over the past few weeks, multiple outlets have published negative pieces about Warren in particular, deploying coverage gimmicks used to disparage candidates early in presidential campaigns before. The gist of the new Times piece is that the Warren and Sanders, if they do run, “will not enjoy an easy path to the nomination.” We’re 23 months away from Election Day. It’s beyond premature to be fretting about electability questions. Common phrases used to camouflage invented narratives include “whispers abound,” “questions linger” and today’s golden oldie from the Times, “concerns” (as in, the prospect of Warren and Sanders running has “stirred concerns”). The papers are all citing each other’s negative stories as evidence for Warren’s problems. Warren is the rare prospective presidential candidate with actual knowledge of how Wall Street works who is not a billionaire, a private equity chief or a bank lawyer. As for Sanders, the Times, which has a history of less-than-friendly history with this candidate, is also engaging in the invented-narrative game already. The national press [is] already inventing frivolous reasons to toss people with good ideas out of the race.
We all now know the name of Arab journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but very few of us know the name of Arab journalist Tareq Ayoub. An elected president of the United States has been blamed for killing Ayoub. We rightly demand justice in the case of Khashoggi, so why not in the case of Ayoub? On the morning of April 8, 2003, less than three weeks after U.S. President George W. Bush ordered the illegal invasion of Iraq, Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayoub was on the rooftop of his network’s Baghdad bureau ... reporting live. An American A-10 Warthog attack jet appeared. “The plane was flying so low that those of us downstairs thought it would land on the roof,” Maher Abdullah, the network’s Baghdad correspondent, later recalled. “We actually heard the rocket being launched. It was a direct hit.” Ayoub was killed. Fifteen minutes later, a second American warplane launched a second missile at the building. But the U.S. government, like the Saudi government in recent weeks, tried to duck responsibility. It was just a “grave mistake,” according to a State Department spokesperson. “This coalition does not target journalists,” a U.S. general told reporters. Al Jazeera’s managing director, Mohammed Jassem al-Ali, had written a letter to the Pentagon less than two months earlier ... providing U.S. officials with the exact address and coordinates of the Baghdad bureau. The U.S. military had bombed Al Jazeera’s Kabul office in November 2001, and the network’s bosses wanted to prevent a repeat of such an incident.
Jamal Khashoggi's grandfather was the doctor to King Abdul Aziz, the founder of Saudi Arabia in the 1930s. His uncle Adnan Khashoggi became a celebrity billionaire as the weapons broker for another Saudi monarch, King Fahd. For the first time since the journalist's disappearance on Oct. 2, Saudi Arabia acknowledged ... that Jamal Khashoggi died in the country's consulate in Istanbul ... after repeated denials by the Saudis that they knew what had happened to him. Details about his background ... paint an interesting picture of a man known today in the U.S. as a Washington Post columnist but whose family has deep ties to the Saudi monarchy that go back generations. After the 2001 al-Qaida attacks, which included 15 Saudi hijackers, Khashoggi visited the U.S. with the message that the Saudi leadership was still a trustworthy American ally. Khashoggi eventually moved to Washington in 2005. As a journalist in his younger years, Khashoggi interviewed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in the 1980s. In 2015 ... Mohammed bin Salman came to power. Until this point, Khashoggi had been a fixture in the Saudi media for years. But as Mohammed bin Salman began shaking up the kingdom, Khashoggi was effectively barred from media appearances. Khashoggi became more critical of the crown prince. "The power struggle is over. [Mohammed is] totally in control, and he has no one to challenge his rules," Khashoggi [said] in May. On Oct. 2, Khashoggi entered, and died at, the Saudi Consulate in Turkey.
The Trump Administration has now indicted at least five journalists’ sources in less than two years’ time—a pace that, if maintained through the end of Trump’s term, would obliterate the already-record number of leakers and whistleblowers prosecuted under eight years of the Obama administration. The latest case, which broke on Wednesday, shows the administration taking advantage of a new avenue to go after a potential whistleblower. Instead of using the archaic Espionage Act - the 100-year-old law meant for spies, not sources - prosecutors are pursuing the latest alleged leaker using financial laws. A senior Treasury official named Natalie Mayflower Sours Edwards has been arrested and charged ... for allegedly sharing “Suspicious Activity Reports” (SARs) about financial red flags with a news organization and its journalist for a series of stories related to the Russia investigation in 2017 and 2018. The complaint contains an interesting allegation, albeit one buried in a footnote: Edwards, according to prosecutors, told investigators she considered herself a “whistleblower.” The government also admitted she had filed a whistleblower complaint within her agency and had talked to Congressional staffers about the issue as well. The Justice Department reportedly has dozens of other [leak] investigations open, and we don’t know who will be next.
Note: This leak prosecution follows the sentencing of Reality Winner to five years in prison for providing evidence of high-level interference in a US election to the media. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Omar Abdulaziz hit record on his phone and slipped it into the breast pocket of his jacket, he recalled, taking a seat in a Montreal cafe to wait for two men who said they were carrying a personal message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. When they arrived, Abdulaziz, a 27-year-old Saudi opposition activist, asked why they had come all the way to Canada to see him. “There are two scenarios,” one of the emissaries said, speaking of Abdulaziz in the third person. In the first, he can go back home to Saudi Arabia, to his friends and family. In the second: “Omar goes to prison.” To drive home what was at stake, the visitors brought one of Abdulaziz’s younger brothers from Saudi Arabia to the meeting. The clandestine recordings - more than 10 hours of conversation - were provided to The Washington Post by Abdulaziz, a close associate of the missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. They offer a chilling depiction of how Saudi Arabia tries to lure opposition figures back to the kingdom with promises of money and safety. These efforts have sharply escalated since Mohammed became crown prince last year. Khashoggi’s friends said that senior Saudi officials close to the crown prince had contacted him in recent months, even offering him a high-level job ... if he returned to the kingdom. He didn’t trust the offer, fearing it was a ruse. Khashoggi has not been heard from since he visited the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Turkish investigators have concluded he was killed ... and then dismembered.
Note: There is much more than meets the eye on this Khashoggi case. Read this fascinating article for a taste. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
This summer, Saudi Arabia promised the Trump administration $100 million for American efforts to stabilize areas in Syria. That money landed in American accounts on Tuesday, the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, for discussions with the kingdom’s leaders about the fate of a missing Saudi dissident. The timing of the money’s arrival raised eyebrows even among some of the bureaucrats whose programs will benefit from the influx of cash. “The timing of this is no coincidence,” said an American official involved in Syria policy who spoke on condition of anonymity. The disappearance of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, has battered the image of Saudi Arabia and of its powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, a key player in many of the Trump administration’s ambitions for the Middle East. Turkish officials say that Mr. Khashoggi was slain inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by Saudi agents on Oct. 2 while he was trying to secure a document he needed to get married. Saudi leaders have denied harming Mr. Khashoggi, but have not provided a credible explanation of what happened to him. Mr. Trump threatened “severe punishment” if it was confirmed that Saudi Arabia killed Mr. Khashoggi. But after speaking with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Monday, he suggested that “rogue killers” could have been responsible and dispatched Mr. Pompeo to Riyadh to see the Saudi king.
Note: There is much more than meets the eye on this Khashoggi case. Read this fascinating article for a taste. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
The Department of Justice said it is filing a lawsuit against the state of California over its new net neutrality protections, hours after Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Sunday. The California law would be the strictest net neutrality protections in the country, and could serve as a blueprint for other states. Under the law, internet service providers will not be allowed to block or slow specific types of content or applications, or charge apps or companies fees for faster access to customers. The Department of Justice says the California law is illegal and that the state is "attempting to subvert the Federal Government's deregulatory approach" to the internet. Barbara van Schewick, a professor at Stanford Law School, says the California bill is on solid legal ground and that California is within its legal rights. California is the third state to pass its own net neutrality regulations, following Washington and Oregon. However, it is the first to match the thorough level of protections that had been provided by the Obama-era federal net neutrality regulations repealed by the Federal Communications Commission in June. At least some other states are expected to model future net neutrality laws on California's. The original FCC rules included a two page summary and more than 300 additional pages with additional protections and clarifications on how they worked. While other states mostly replicated the two-page summary, California took longer crafting its law in order to match the details in the hundreds of supporting pages.
Note: Read how the Federal Communications Commission's net-neutrality policymaking process was heavily manipulated. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The powerful and now-departed men of CBS - [Les] Moonves, [Jeff] Fager and star interviewer Charlie Rose - helped shape how our society sees women. The network, after all, is the most-watched in the nation. “60 Minutes” for 50 years has been the very definition of quality broadcast journalism: the gold standard. It’s impossible to know how different America would be if power-happy and misogynistic men hadn’t been running the show in so many influential media organizations - certainly not just CBS. What if Mark Halperin, for instance, had not been a network commentator during the 2016 presidential campaign? (James Wolcott of Vanity Fair aptly described him as ... “the most influential” of the men who were felled by sexual-misconduct allegations last year.) What if Bill O’Reilly of Fox News hadn’t been the biggest cable TV star in the nation when a woman had a major-party presidential nomination for the first time? (O’Reilly was forced out after it emerged that he had made a $32 million settlement with an accuser.) What if Roger Ailes hadn’t presided for decades over Fox News, where his own well-documented abuses bled freely into his network’s commentary. A media figure doesn’t have to show up for a business meeting in an open bathrobe to do harm. He can help frame the coverage of a candidate’s supposedly disqualifying flaws. He can squelch a writer’s promising work. He can threaten an underling’s job if she doesn’t stay in line. All these little moments add up.
Leslie Moonves, the longtime chief executive of the CBS Corporation, stepped down on Sunday night from the company he led for 15 years. His fall from Hollywood’s highest echelon was all but sealed after the publication earlier in the day of new sexual harassment allegations against him. Mr. Moonves ... could still walk away with more than $120 million. However, [he] will not receive any severance payment until the completion of an independent investigation into the allegations. He has been under intense pressure since July, when The New Yorker published an article by the investigative journalist Ronan Farrow in which six women accused Mr. Moonves of sexual harassment. On Sunday, the magazine published another article by Mr. Farrow in which six more women detailed claims against Mr. Moonves. Mr. Moonves is the latest high-powered entertainment figure to be ousted from his perch in the #MeToo era. The movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been accused by scores of women of sexual assault and now faces felony charges. Matt Lauer stepped down as the anchor of NBC’s most valuable news program, “Today,” after several women alleged incidents of sexual harassment. Charlie Rose of CBS and PBS left the airwaves after he, too, was implicated by multiple women. And Fox News saw the departures of the founding executive Roger Ailes and its top-rated host, Bill O’Reilly. The allegations go back years — in some cases even decades.
Two weeks ago, conservative commentator David Harris Jr. took a video of himself posting to Facebook. Why video something so common? Because he had a hunch what would happen. Sure enough, his post went through, but a photo of a letter that accompanied the post mysteriously vanished and did not show up in his feed until days later – proof, he said, that the sharing service was biased against conservatives. At a Wednesday House committee meeting, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was barraged with examples from Republican congressmen of how conservative voices were being suppressed on its service. On the same day, the US Department of Justice announced that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would meet with state attorneys general to discuss concerns tech companies "may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms." The immediate result is increasing and bipartisan pressure for social media platforms to be more transparent about their algorithms and how they block certain content. Longer-term, the threat is more regulation of the platforms, something that even free-market conservatives are reluctantly talking about doing if social media doesn’t clean up its act. Twitter’s Dorsey and Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg repeatedly denied that their companies were trying to tip the scales for or against any party or political ideology. But the pileup of anecdotal evidence clearly has exasperated conservative lawmakers.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
In October, when Ronan Farrow published his first article in The New Yorker on the alleged transgressions of Harvey Weinstein, people in the media and entertainment industries wondered how NBC had missed the story. After all, Mr. Farrow had spent months gathering material on the mogul when he was with NBC News. Now a producer who worked closely with Mr. Farrow has accused the network of putting a stop to the reporting, saying the order came from “the very highest levels of NBC.” Rich McHugh, the producer, who recently left his job in the investigative unit of NBC News, is the first person affiliated with NBC to publicly charge that the network impeded his and Mr. Farrow’s efforts to nail down the story of Mr. Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct. He called the network’s handling of the matter “a massive breach of journalistic integrity.” “Three days before Ronan and I were going to head to L.A. to interview a woman with a credible rape allegation against Harvey Weinstein, I was ordered to stop, not to interview this woman,” Mr. McHugh said. “And to stand down on the story altogether.” There was a point in our reporting where I felt there were obstacles to us reporting this externally, and there were obstacles to us reporting this internally,” the producer said. “Externally, I had Weinstein associates calling me repeatedly. I knew that Weinstein was calling NBC executives directly. One time it even happened when we were in the room.”
Note: NBC's chief executive stepped down amid sexual harassment claims 10 days after this article came out. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media corruption and sexual abuse scandals.
Astroturfing is when corporations or organization[s] try to make it seem as though whatever they are selling is part of a grassroots movement. For example when a seeming small group calling themselves Americans Against Food Taxes run a national ad campaign against a potential beverage tax. It’s not paid for by a small grassroots movement of concerned citizens, but a large beverage conglomerate lobbying against a soda tax. According to [John] Oliver, in the wake of U.S. Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, astroturfing is becoming increasing common. Like a national wetlands organization funded by real estate developers and oil companies and a seeming restaurant worker group campaigning against minimum wage increase. “It’s pure straight up opposite world,” said Oliver. Some astroturfing experts work with many special interest groups, creating nonprofit shell companies of sorts to ensure that their ties to the fake grassroots campaigns can be kept secret. One of “the most infuriating tools” of astroturfing is the use of paid protestors. These paid protestors show up at places like town hall meetings masquerading as concerned citizens and reciting lines fed to them by special interest groups. The existence of these paid protestors is now a common theme on conspiracy message boards. “That is hugely dangerous,” said Oliver.
Note: The New York Times recently reported on the Koch Brothers' use of tactics like this to kill public transit projects. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Just days after Google, Facebook and Apple purged videos and podcasts from the right-wing conspiracy site Infowars from their sites, the Infowars app has become one of the hottest in the country. On Wednesday, Infowars was the No. 1 overall “trending” app on the Google Play store. Among news apps, Infowars was No. 3 on Apple and No. 5 on Google, above all mainstream news organizations. The Infowars app, which includes news articles and the shows of the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, had likely been downloaded a few hundred to a few thousand times a day on average after its introduction last month, said Randy Nelson ... at Sensor Tower, which tracks app data. Now, it is likely getting 30,000 to 40,000 downloads a day, Mr. Nelson estimated. “This is such a niche app with niche content, that for it to make that sort of jump means it has become very interesting to a much broader audience,” said Jonathan Kay, a co-founder of Apptopia, an app analytics firm. “Essentially, it’s gone from being niche to being mainstream.” Mr. Jones has achieved infamy and financial success for spreading lies. Many of his most outlandish claims are made during his show, which runs live for four hours each weekday and is streamed and rebroadcast across the internet. YouTube, Facebook, Spotify and Apple’s podcasts service were all important distribution points for the show.
Note: How many other conspiracy websites will be shut down for "spreading lies"? What happened to freedom of speech? Will the major media be shut down for "spreading lies" of it own? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles from reliable major sources.
The New Yorker has published a bombshell investigation of the head of CBS Corporation that includes allegations of sexual misconduct. The article by Ronan Farrow alleges that CBS chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior, including unwanted kissing and touching that occurred over 20 years ago. Farrow told ABC News that his latest piece is "about six women who did an incredibly brave thing: overcoming tremendous fear of retaliation to speak about their experiences with Moonves. But it’s also a story about dozens and dozens of sources who told us that a culture of harassment and retaliation had permeated various facets of his company," he said. The women recalled events when they were threatened with retaliation when rebuffing advances and detailed accounts of sexual assault. They "say that they are still afraid of Les Moonves," Farrow said. "They are speaking because they believe there is a broader culture around him in which he has protected other men who have engaged in similar misconduct," Farrow said. Moonves denied any allegations of sexual assault but acknowledged, "I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely." A person "familiar with the situation" told The Wall Street Journal that CBS has no plans to sideline Moonves.
President Trump has sought repeatedly to punish journalists for the way they ask him questions, directing White House staff to ban those reporters from covering official events or to revoke their press credentials. He has also asked that retaliatory action be taken against them. Until this week ... Trump’s senior aides have resisted carrying out his directives. On Wednesday, however, newly installed Deputy Chief of Staff Bill Shine and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took action against CNN correspondent Kaitlan Collins, telling her she could not attend Trump’s open-media event in the Rose Garden because they objected to her questioning of the president earlier in the day. The move revealed a fresh willingness inside the West Wing to execute the president’s wishes to punish reporters. It immediately drew a chorus of protest throughout the media, including from Fox News Channel, Trump’s favorite network and Shine’s former employer. Olivier Knox, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said the group would challenge any further efforts by Trump to curtail the access of reporters who offend him. “In keeping with the spirit of the First Amendment, reporters who cover the White House should be free to do their jobs without the specter of reprisal from the government,” he said in a statement. During his campaign, Trump barred reporters from about a dozen media organizations ... from being credentialed at his rallies, news conferences and other events.
Note: The Department of Homeland Security recently began seeking a contractor to "gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
Like many African governments, the regime of [Emmerson] Mnangagwa’s predecessor, Robert Mugabe, was notoriously thin-skinned about social media criticism. Indeed, only two weeks before Mr. Mugabe was deposed in a coup last November, his government had arrested a young American woman working in Zimbabwe for allegedly tweeting that the country was being run by a “sick and selfish man.” For now, the temperature seems to have changed. But if Zimbabwe’s webspace has changed since the days of Mugabe, it also contrasts with many other African countries. Across the continent ... governments have increasingly targeted social media as a way to bring unruly dissenters to heel. In Tanzania, for instance, a recently introduced law slaps a registration fee of about $900 on bloggers and online forums. A 2016 law in Rwanda makes it illegal to use a digital device to cause “annoyance, inconvenience, or needless anxiety,” and Egypt’s government recently announced a law allowing it to block any social media users with more than 5,000 followers if they disseminate “fake news.” In Zimbabwe, the new government has attempted to show its openness to social media as a way of visibly distancing itself from the autocratic regime of Mugabe, whose iron grip on dissent resulted in broad sanctions against the country that sent Zimbabwe’s economy tanking. Mnangagwa has verified his Twitter account, opened a Facebook page, and set up a “broadcast list” on WhatsApp to send messages to his supporters.
Seymour M. Hersh didn’t even want to write a memoir. His publishers at Alfred A. Knopf ... “said, ‘Write a memoir,’ and I said, ‘No way,’” Mr. Hersh, 81, recalled the other day. The story of a working-class [kid who] exposed the horror of the My Lai massacre, revealed domestic and foreign abuses by the C.I.A. and harried Washington’s elite ... was not finished. Not for the first time in his career, the editors prevailed. “Reporter,” a 355-page memoir, will be released on Tuesday. The book ... reconstructs his reporting on Vietnam, his feuds with Henry Kissinger, the foibles of former bosses. He notes that major publications passed on his My Lai exposé, fearful of government denials that American soldiers had murdered dozens of Vietnamese civilians. In the end, Mr. Hersh syndicated the stories himself, and won a Pulitzer Prize for his efforts. Mr. Hersh’s place in the pantheon of reporters is secure, but his current status is ambiguous. In arguably the most fertile moment for investigative reporting since Watergate, he has been on the sidelines. By choice, he said. Mr. Hersh has found himself at odds with much of Washington’s reporting establishment since The New Yorker declined to publish his report on the death of Osama bin Laden — a story that directly contradicted the account given by the Obama White House and much of the mainstream press. His subsequent reporting on Syria, which questioned whether President Bashar al-Assad had gassed his own people, was similarly derided. But Mr. Hersh is unrepentant.
The Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday barred journalists for the second consecutive day from attending a national summit focused on water contaminants, telling reporters from CNN and other news organizations that they would not be permitted inside the venue. Carrie Budoff Brown, editor of Politico, said in a statement that her publication "would much rather be writing about the agency's efforts to address this health problem than about reporters being excluded. "The summit was focused on an important public health crisis that has affected drinking water supplies across the country, and chemicals that are present in the bloodstreams of nearly all Americans," she added. "We believe it is important that the news media have access to the entirety of this discussion to keep the public informed." On Tuesday, the EPA blocked several journalists, including those from CNN and the Associated Press, from entering the venue when Scott Pruitt, the agency's chief, was speaking. Only those journalists specifically selected by the EPA were permitted to enter the premises. Sally Buzbee, executive editor of the Associated Press, called the move to block journalists "a direct threat to the public's right to know about what his happening inside their government." Less than two weeks ago, CNN aired a special report, "Pruitt Under Fire: The Battle at the EPA," about the various scandals plaguing the federal agency.
Six more families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre victims sued right-wing radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for alleged defamation Wednesday for claiming the shooting was a hoax and the relatives are paid actors. An FBI agent who responded to the shooting joined the families as a plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in Bridgeport Superior Court in Connecticut. The families of two other victims filed similar defamation lawsuits against Jones last month in Travis County, Texas, where his media company, Infowars, is based. The families say Jones' comments have tormented them and subjected them to harassment and death threats by his followers. After the first two lawsuits were filed last month, Jones responded in a YouTube video, saying that the families are being used by the Democratic Party and the news media and that he believes Sandy Hook "really happened." Also named as defendants is Wolfgang Halbig, who the families say is a frequent guest on Jones' show who also questions whether the school shooting actually happened. Halbig, 71, a former police officer ... said Wednesday that he does believe people died in the shooting, but authorities have refused to answer his questions. The lawsuit filed Wednesday cites ... the case of a Florida woman, Lucy Richards, who believed the shooting was a hoax and was sentenced to prison last year for threatening the father of one of the slain children.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable sources.
The Department of Justice has scrubbed and revised language concerning press freedom and civil rights from its manual for federal prosecutors. In a broad revamping - the first in over 20 years - a subsection titled “Need for Free Press and Public Trial” was taken out. "The purpose of that review is to identify redundant sections and language, areas that required greater clarity, and any content that needed to be added to help department attorneys perform core prosecutorial functions," Ian D. Prior, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, [said]. "Taken in isolation, I’m not sure how much we should read into the language changed in the DOJ manual," Alexandra Ellerbeck, the North America program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told Newsweek. Ellerbeck pointed out, however, that removing the “need for the free press” section is concerning, considering the level of hostility toward journalists. Since President Donald Trump has taken office, he has popularized the term "fake news". The administration has also made repeated threats to go after leakers, Ellerbeck said. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in November there are 27 open leak investigations. In comparison, Sessions noted that during former President Barack Obama's administration, the DOJ investigated "three per year." Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index last week and cited an increasing sense of “hostility” toward the media. The U.S. fell back two places in rankings.
Note: The NSA recently deleted the terms "honesty" and "openness" from its mission statement. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
This is the story of a town called Douma ... and of an underground clinic whose images of suffering allowed three of the Western world’s most powerful nations to bomb Syria last week. When I track [a doctor] down in the very same clinic, [he] tells me that the “gas” videotape which horrified the world – despite all the doubters – is perfectly genuine. The same 58-year old senior Syrian doctor then adds something profoundly uncomfortable: the patients, he says, were overcome not by gas but by oxygen starvation in the rubbish-filled tunnels and basements in which they lived. Dr Rahaibani ... showed me his lowly hospital and the few beds where a small girl was crying as nurses treated a cut above her eye. “All the doctors know what happened. There was a lot of shelling [by government forces] and aircraft were always over Douma at night – but on this night, there was wind and huge dust clouds began to come into the basements and cellars where people lived. People began to arrive here suffering from hypoxia, oxygen loss. Then someone at the door, a “White Helmet”, shouted “Gas!”, and a panic began. People started throwing water over each other. Yes, the video was filmed here, it is genuine, but what you see are people suffering from hypoxia – not gas poisoning.” Oddly, after chatting to more than 20 people, I couldn’t find one who showed the slightest interest in Douma’s role in bringing about the Western air attacks. Two actually told me they didn’t know about the connection.
Note: Learn an alternative view of who the "white helmets" are in this Corbett Report. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Eight months before the company that owns the National Enquirer paid $150,000 to a former Playboy Playmate who claimed she'd had an affair with Donald Trump, the tabloid's parent made a $30,000 payment to a less famous individual: a former doorman at one of the real estate mogul's New York City buildings. As it did with the ex-Playmate, the Enquirer signed the ex-doorman to a contract that ... prevented him from going public. The Associated Press confirmed the details [through] interviews with dozens of current and former employees of the Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc. Sajudin got $30,000 in exchange for signing over the rights, "in perpetuity," to a rumor ... that the president had fathered a child with an employee at Trump World Tower. The contract subjected Sajudin to a $1 million penalty if he disclosed either the rumor or the terms of the deal to anyone. The parallel between the ex-Playmate's and the ex-doorman's dealings with the Enquirer raises new questions about the roles that the Enquirer and [Trump's personal lawyer, Michael] Cohen may have played in ... a hard-fought presidential election. Enquirer staffers ... said the abrupt end to reporting combined with a binding, seven-figure penalty to stop the tipster from talking to anyone led them to conclude that this was a so-called "catch and kill" - a tabloid practice in which a publication pays for a story to never run, either as a favor to the celebrity subject of the tip or as leverage over that person.
Note: The National Enquirer for decades has been notorious for reporting crazy, unbelievable news. Why would they then quash this juicy tidbit which was real? In his interpreting career with the US State Department, WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks learned that the Enquirer was actually a CIA managed media front. If any big news on UFOs, mind control, or other sensitive topics that the CIA didn't want published was about to come out, the Enquirer would quickly publish the news so that it could be easily debunked if any media later dared report on the story.
Bloomberg Government reports on a FedBizOpps.gov posting by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with the relatively benign-sounding subject “Media Monitoring Services.” The details of the attached Statement of Work, however, outline a plan to gather and monitor the public activities of media professionals and influencers and are enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide. As part of its "media monitoring," the DHS seeks to track more than 290,000 global news sources as well as social media. The successful contracting company will have "24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database" ... in order to "identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event." The database will be browsable by "location, beat and type of influencer," and for each influencer, the chosen contractor should "present contact details and ... an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer." Increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this. Freedom House ... recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years. The independent watchdog organization blames "new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies" as well as "further crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China."
Fifty years ago ... Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis. The Washington Post is running a series of commentaries. The New York Times ran an emotional editorial. Neither paper will mention that they each denounced Dr. King in his later years. Nor will any outlet today likely mention that King had fallen sharply out of favor with much of the national media ... on April 4, 1967. The offense was a speech in New York. King spoke of the “hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence” abroad, and added that a country as financially and politically committed to war as ours could never fight a “War on Poverty” in earnest. One hundred and sixty-eight newspapers denounced him in the days that followed. These editorials had a peculiarly vicious flavor. In late 1967, King pooh-poohed the “violence” and “extremism” criticisms of the civil rights movement, explicitly saying the excesses of urban rioters were “infinitely less dangerous and immoral” than the cold, corporatized murder of the “American mainstream.” “If destruction of property is deplorable,” he asked, “what is the use of napalm on people?” Yet the “mainstream” King is the one most Americans have been conditioned to believe in. King ... died wanting us to radically change our way of life. But history has sanitized him, turning him into a mainstream leader who accomplished what he could within an acceptable role. That sanitizing continues on each of these anniversaries, and is a sad commentary on our inability to listen to even the best of us.
Note: A recent Corbett Report on the assassination of MKL has some powerful evidence of conspiracy at the highest levels. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Facebook closed down the official handle of Palestinian news agency Safa over the weekend. The move came as part of a new company policy to block Facebook pages that promote and publish contents that are defined as inciteful. A Palestinian activist who has been following the affair closely said that the move to close Palestinian Facebook pages started several weeks ago after Hamas operative Ahmed Jarrar was killed near Jenin. Jarrar, who was one of the main strategists behind the drive-by West Bank shooting attack that claimed the life of an Israeli father-of-three, was hailed as a Palestinian hero on social media, and images of him that circulated online had become emblematic of the Palestinian resistance movement against Israel. According to the activist, since the beginning of 2018 alone some 500 Facebook pages of Palestinian activists, journalists and bloggers were closed by the company. The activist also said that pages of news companies had also been blocked, including one of a news company affiliated with Islamic Jihad and another linked to the Palestinian National Front, with Safa being the latest. Other activists have noted that Facebook pages affiliated with Fatah, which recently posted images of Yasser Arafat holding a Kalashnikov, were taken offline by the company. Safa has been operating for a decade out of its offices in Gaza, and is associated with Hamas.
Note: How interesting that no Western media reported this major move by facebook. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles from reliable sources.
Trump-era media really is something else. Otherwise smart and interesting publications are working so hard to “appeal to both sides” that they’ve completely abandoned their integrity in the process. Take the Atlantic, who announced a new roster of high-profile columnists this week, including Kevin D Williamson – a writer who compared a nine-year-old black child to a primate, and who argued that women that have abortions – along with their doctors and nurses – should be executed by hanging. When I asked the Atlantic for comment, a spokesperson responded that the magazine has “a large number of contributors who represent a broad spectrum of views”. She wrote that while “diverse viewpoints” are core to the magazine’s mission, they have “strict standards for how these viewpoints are expressed in our pages”. In other words, the Atlantic doesn’t mind employing a marquee columnist who thinks women should be hanged for having abortions so long as he doesn’t say as much in the magazine. But believing America should execute women in genocidal numbers (one in four women in this country will have an abortion) is not a “diverse viewpoint” – and the fact that one of the nation’s leading political magazines could defend it as such indicates a serious moral crisis in mainstream media.
Sitting in a hotel bar, Alexander Nix, who runs the political data firm Cambridge Analytica, had a few ideas for a prospective client looking for help in a foreign election. The firm could send an attractive woman to seduce a rival candidate and secretly videotape the encounter, Mr. Nix said, or send someone posing as a wealthy land developer to pass a bribe. “We have a long history of working behind the scenes,” Mr. Nix said. The prospective client, though, was actually a reporter. The encounter was secretly filmed as part of a monthslong investigation into Cambridge Analytica, the data firm with ties to President Trump’s 2016 campaign. The results of Channel 4’s work were broadcast ... days after reports ... that the firm had harvested the data from more than 50 million Facebook profiles in its bid to develop techniques for predicting the behavior of individual American voters. Less noticed has been the work that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company, the SCL Group, have done outside the United States. “Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company,” he told the Channel 4 reporter. “We can set up fake IDs and websites.” Mr. Nix ... boasted that Cambridge Analytica employs front companies and former spies on behalf of political clients. The information that is uncovered ... is then put “into the bloodstream to the internet,” said Mark Turnbull, another Cambridge executive. “Then watch it grow,” he added. “It has to happen without anyone thinking, ‘That’s propaganda.’”
Note: Watch an astounding video revealing how Cambridge Analytica has successfully manipulated national elections around the world using sleazy tactics like pretty women to entrap candidates and offering major bribes while recording the exchange. And here is a video featuring the whistleblower who exposed this.
At 24, [Christopher Wylie] came up with an idea that led to the foundation of a company called Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that went on to claim a major role in the Leave campaign for Britain’s EU membership referendum, and later became a key figure in digital operations during Donald Trump’s election campaign. In 2014, Steve Bannon ... was Wylie’s boss. And Robert Mercer, the secretive US hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, was Cambridge Analytica’s investor. The idea they bought into was to bring big data and social media to an established military methodology – “information operations” – then turn it on the US electorate. By , Steve Bannon had become Trump’s chief strategist. Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL, had won contracts with the US State Department and was pitching to the Pentagon, and Wylie was genuinely freaked out. “It’s insane,” he told me one night. “The company has created psychological profiles of 230 million Americans. And now they want to work with the Pentagon? It’s like Nixon on steroids.” He ended up showing me a tranche of documents that laid out the secret workings behind Cambridge Analytica. Wylie ... came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, and to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles. And then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup.
Note: Billionaire Robert Mercer used this new new technology to build a corporate empire capable of swinging elections by using military propaganda strategies on civilian populations. The above article further details how mass media is being combined with Big Data to produce powerful new forms of mind control. Watch an astounding video revealing how Cambridge Analytica has successfully manipulated national elections around the world.
I’m talking about a documentary called The Lobby, directed by one of Al Jazeera’s top journalists, Clayton Swisher. After months of postponement, The Lobby ... is still no nearer to being shown – and Swisher himself has taken a paid leave of absence. In his published explanation, Swisher described how his award-winning investigative unit ... sent an undercover reporter to look into “how Israel wields influence in America through the pro-Israeli American community. But when some right-wing American supporters of Israel found out about the documentary, there was a massive backlash. It was ... labelled as antisemitic.” Although Swisher’s reporters had exposed genocide in Myanmar, presidential corruption in the Maldives and paedophilia in British youth football, another documentary under Swisher’s direction concentrated on Israel’s influence over Britain and included a secretly filmed sequence in which Israeli official Shai Masot discussed how to “take down” British MPs regarded as pro-Palestinian. In response to antisemitism claims after the London documentary, the broadcasting regulator Ofcom ruled that the programme was “a serious investigative documentary”. It was the same question, Swisher says, that he and his team sought to answer in the American edition of The Lobby: “whether the Israeli government was funding or involved in lobbying efforts in the US under the guise of a domestic lobbying group”.
People tend to trust video evidence as an arbiter of truth. But that faith could soon become quaint, as machine learning is enabling ordinary users to create fabricated videos of just about anyone doing just about anything. Earlier this month, the popular online forum Reddit shut down r/deepfakes, a subreddit discussion board devoted to using open-source machine-learning tools to insert famous faces into pornographic videos. This episode represents just one of the many ways that the this technology could fuel social problems, particularly in an age of political polarization. Combating the negative effects of fabricated video will require a shift among both news outlets and news consumers. “When you see something, or when you believe that you’re seeing something and hearing something, it has a much more visceral impact ... than when it’s something that you’re just reading about,” says Henry Farrell, a professor of political science. Professor Farrell warned that this technology’s “implications for democracy are eye-opening,” in a Feb. 4 New York Times op-ed. “Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality,” the op-ed concluded. “We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.” When mixed with confirmation bias – the tendency to process information in a way that conforms to one’s preexisting beliefs – [the technology] could become an increasingly destructive social influence, one that corrodes even good-faith efforts to tell the truth.
Note: Read more about producing fake video with machine learning programs. While governments have long been developing technologies to produce very convincing illusions, and it has become trivial to edit video footage of a person talking to change their words and facial expressions, this emerging technology makes it possible to manipulate mass media in previously impossible ways.
Strange thing happens when you write about something going right. People take notice. They read to the end. They share it with their friends. They write to thank you. Eighteen months ago, the Guardian launched a pilot project to see how readers would respond if we deliberately sought out the good things happening in the world. More than 150 pieces of journalism later – in which we have examined the relative merits of everything from dog turds to ketamine, the blockchain to microhouses, and gardening to exoskeletons – we have proof of concept. Reader numbers for this kind of journalism have proven remarkably robust throughout the project. While audiences have always been riveted by bad news (it serves as both an early warning system and a reassurance about the comfort of their own lives), they are tired of the avalanche of awfulness. They are switching off. If people just shrug at news because they feel there is little they can do, nothing will change. Journalists in the US, Europe and the UK are waking up to this by publishing what is variously described as constructive journalism, solutions journalism or, somewhat misleadingly, positive news. Now the Guardian is deepening its commitment to this type of work. Our new series, The Upside, launched this week with [a] determination to show readers all of humanity, not just the bad bits. As our editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, promised in a speech ... recently, “we will develop ideas that help improve the world, not just critique it.”
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
At Portland's Aladdin Theater at the close of 2017, Storm Large confessed that she finds it hard to follow headlines these days. "It's like a bummer gun aimed right at your face," she said, pointing a pair of imaginary pistols at her head. An April 2016 study by The Tow Center for Digital Journalism offered this sobering observation: "In a journalistic environment where the mantra 'if it bleeds, it leads' continues to resonate - and is amplified ever more by the clickbait web - there is a professional bias in favor of reporting on violence ... and other negative tropes." As journalists, it's our job to point out problems. However, I've come to see that we messengers are part of the problem - and, thankfully, that there's a fix. When I first heard about [the Solutions Journalism Network] I was skeptical. Their point is that journalists ... consistently do an amazing job of providing independent, objective reporting on societal problem. What we don't do as well is report how people respond to those problems, leaving readers like Storm feeling depressed. SJN, led by New York Times reporters Tina Rosenberg and David Bornstein, aims to change that. They're not asking us to dish out "happy news" but simply use a slightly different lens when we look at issues, to take the same professional rigor we bring to our reporting on problems and apply it to investigations of potential remedies. SJN has found that solutions journalism ... engages readers and leaves them feeling empowered, rather than helpless.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing mass media news articles from reliable sources.
Imagine it is the spring of 2019. A bottom-feeding website, perhaps tied to Russia, “surfaces” video of a sex scene starring an 18-year-old Kirsten Gillibrand. It is soon debunked as a fake, the product of a user-friendly video application that employs generative adversarial network technology to convincingly swap out one face for another. Then it is fall. The junior senator from New York State announces her campaign for the presidency. At a diner in New Hampshire, one “low information” voter asks another: “Kirsten What’s-her-name? She’s running for president? Didn’t she have something to do with pornography?” Welcome to the shape of things to come. The technology [is] closer than you might think. And even when fake video isn’t perfect, it can convince people who want to be convinced, especially when it reinforces ... stereotypes. It might be impossible to stop the advance of this kind of technology. But the relevant algorithms here aren’t only the ones that run on computer hardware. They are also the ones that undergird our too easily hacked media system, where garbage acquires the perfumed scent of legitimacy with all too much ease. It already feels as though we are living in an alternative science-fiction universe where no one agrees on what it true. Just think how much worse it will be when fake news becomes fake video. Democracy assumes that its citizens share the same reality. We’re about to find out whether democracy can be preserved when this assumption no longer holds.
Note: Read more about producing fake video with computer programs. While governments have long been developing technologies to produce very convincing illusions, and it has become trivial to edit video footage of a person talking to change their words and facial expressions, this emerging technology makes it possible to manipulate mass media in previously impossible ways.
An obscure American company named Devumi ... has collected millions of dollars in a shadowy global marketplace for social media fraud. Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers. The accounts that most resemble real people ... reveal a kind of large-scale social identity theft. At least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors. Fake accounts, deployed by governments, criminals and entrepreneurs, now infest social media networks. As many as 48 million of Twitter’s reported active users ... are automated accounts designed to simulate real people. In November, Facebook disclosed ... that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated. Up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform. Devumi has more than 200,000 customers, including reality television stars, professional athletes, comedians, TED speakers, pastors and models. Devumi’s fake followers also serve as phantom foot soldiers in political battles online. Devumi’s customers include both avid supporters and fervent critics of President Trump, and both liberal cable pundits and a reporter at the alt-right bastion Breitbart.
Note: The use of social media to manipulate public perception has reportedly influenced recent elections in Latin America, the UK, and the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, on Saturday opened an investigation into a company that sold millions of fake followers on social media platforms, some of them copying real users’ personal information. The company, Devumi, and its sale of automated followers to a swath of celebrities, sports stars, journalists and politicians, was detailed in a New York Times article published earlier on Saturday. At least 55,000 of its “bot” accounts used names, pictures, hometowns and other details taken from people on Twitter. The real users hailed from every U.S. state, including New York, and dozens of countries. “Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law,” Mr. Schneiderman wrote. “We’re opening an investigation into Devumi and its apparent sale of bots using stolen identities.” Tens of millions of fake accounts have been deployed to defraud businesses, influence political debates online and attract customers. Social media companies, including Twitter and Facebook, have drawn intense scrutiny for not taking greater steps to weed them out. Mr. Schneiderman ... has brought a series of cases focused on the emerging world of online fraud, impersonation and abuse. In December, he began an investigation into how the Federal Communications Commission was flooded with millions of fake comments on a proposal to scrap so-called net neutrality rules. Many of the comments used names and addresses borrowed from real people, almost always without their knowledge.
Note: The use of social media to manipulate public perception has reportedly influenced recent elections in Latin America, the UK, and the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Two New York Times reporters learned in 2004 that the George W. Bush administration was secretly wiretapping Americans, and collecting their phone and email records. The reporters’ attempt to publish their findings were thwarted by the administration’s intense and successful lobbying of their editors. That effort ... had an unlikely ally: Rep. Jane Harman of Los Angeles, the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Details of the far-reaching, legally unauthorized surveillance program remained secret until the Times published the article in late 2005. The newspaper’s interactions with administration officials, and Harman’s role, were described by former Times reporter James Risen this month in the Intercept, the investigative publication where he now works. The story on the program known as Stellar Wind was ready for publication before the November 2004 election, when Bush was on the ballot, but NSA Director Michael Hayden and other administration officials told Times editors, in phone calls and face-to-face meetings, that publication would damage national security and endanger lives, Risen said. He said the officials were joined in that effort by Harman, one of a handful of congressional leaders who had been briefed on the program and were enlisted by the White House to contact the Times. Members of Congress learned later that the NSA had not been seeking warrants from a secret court, as required by law, before wiretapping calls.
Note: James Risen is a courageous hero who shared two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting around 9/11 and massive government surveillance. His recent article in The Intercept describes how a "marketplace of secrets in Washington" supports the US national security apparatus, and is used by corrupt government officials to manipulate the news.
The Obama administration was demanding that I reveal the confidential sources I had relied on for a chapter about a botched CIA operation in my 2006 book, “State of War.” I had also written about the CIA operation for the New York Times, but the paper’s editors had suppressed the story at the government’s request. It wasn’t the only time they had done so. My case was part of a broader crackdown on reporters and whistleblowers that had begun during the presidency of George W. Bush and continued far more aggressively under the Obama administration, which had already prosecuted more leak cases than all previous administrations combined. I started covering the CIA in 1995. Success as a reporter on the CIA beat inevitably meant finding out government secrets, and that meant plunging headlong into the classified side of Washington, which had its own strange dynamics. I discovered that there was, in effect, a marketplace of secrets in Washington, in which White House officials and other current and former bureaucrats, contractors, members of Congress, their staffers, and journalists all traded information. This informal black market helped keep the national security apparatus running smoothly, limiting nasty surprises for all involved. The revelation that this secretive subculture existed, and that it allowed a reporter to glimpse the government’s dark side, was jarring. It felt a bit like being in the Matrix.
Note: Article author James Risen is a courageous hero who shared two Pulitzer Prizes for his reporting around 9/11 and massive government surveillance. If you read the entire article at the link above, you will learn in detail how the New York Times and other media bow to government pressure and filter what information reaches the public. They also have a strong, but secretive agenda to support war and the military-industrial complex. You will also see how government keeps the media from reporting some of the most important stories.
Television advertisements for prescription drugs ... have been running for 20 years. [Yet] it is not your imagination if you think you are seeing more of them these days. Lots more. 771,368 such ads were shown in 2016 ... an increase of almost 65 percent over 2012. “TV ad spending by pharmaceutical companies has more than doubled in the past four years, making it the second-fastest-growing category on television during that time,” Jon Swallen, Kantar’s chief research officer, said. The ads ... have turned to more serious ailments in the last few years. And when the ads come on, [the] audience is also listening intently to all that can befall them if they take a certain drug. An unexpected side effect of ad agency compliance with the drug administration’s regulation, it turns out, is enhanced credibility. “It’s counterintuitive, but everything in our research suggests that hearing about the risks increases consumers’ belief in the advertising,” said Jeff Rothstein, the chief executive officer of Cult Health, an ad agency that specializes in health care.
Note: 25 years ago drug advertising was illegal, as it was believed drugs should sell themselves on their own merits. Now Big Pharma is raking in profits hand over fist by inundating us with fear-based advertising. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing Big Pharma profiteering news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Washington Post says it has uncovered a failed "sting operation" by a group trying to peddle a sensational but false story to its journalists. A source told the newspaper she had been impregnated as a teenager by US politician Roy Moore. The Post said its research debunked her story, and that she worked for a group called Project Veritas, which it said "targets the mainstream news media". The group said the Washington Post was reporting "an imagined sting". The Washington Post said it was originally approached by a woman the day after it published allegations that US Senate candidate Roy Moore had once initiated a sexual encounter with a 14-year-old girl. The woman, who used a fake name, claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Mr Moore when she was 15. "She said that she got pregnant, that Moore talked her into an abortion and that he drove her to Mississippi to get it," the newspaper said of the conversations. Project Veritas has posted a series of tweets claiming to expose bias at the Washington Post. It claimed the newspaper was attempting to divert attention by inventing the "sting operation" story. But many journalists on social media claimed the attempt to prove the Washington Post had published unverified claims had backfired - and showed the opposite.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles from reliable sources.
The journalist who led the Panama Papers investigation into corruption in Malta was killed. Daphne Caruana Galizia died on Monday afternoon when her car ... was destroyed by a powerful explosive device. A blogger whose posts often attracted more readers than the combined circulation of the country’s newspapers, Caruana Galizia was recently described by the Politico website as a “one-woman WikiLeaks”. Her most recent revelations pointed the finger at Malta’s prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and two of his closest aides, connecting offshore companies linked to the three men with the sale of Maltese passports and payments from the government of Azerbaijan. Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago to say that she had been receiving death threats. The journalist posted her final blog on her Running Commentary website at 2.35pm on Monday, and the explosion ... was reported to police just after 3pm. Caruana Galizia ... set her sights on a wide range of targets, from banks facilitating money laundering to links between Malta’s online gaming industry and the Mafia. Over the last two years, her reporting had largely focused on revelations from the Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5m documents leaked from the internal database of the world’s fourth largest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. Her family have filed a court application demanding a change of inquiring magistrate. Investigations into the case are being led by Consuelo Scerri Herrera. But Herrera had come under criticism by Galizia in her blog.
Note: The release of the Panama Papers exposed tax-dodging elites in many countries. There is speculative evidence that the CIA had a hand in releasing these documents. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing financial industry corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
For more than two decades during the Cold War, the public was bombarded by an enormous publicity campaign to shape American views of Russia. The campaign may have been the largest and most consistent source of political advertising in American history. And it was orchestrated by a big, powerful intelligence service: the Central Intelligence Agency. In 1950, [the CIA] created Radio Free Europe, a government-sponsored broadcasting station. Ostensibly, it provided unbiased news for Eastern Europeans, but in fact the agency used it to wage a subversive campaign to weaken Communist governments. But how to hide the agency’s hand? Simple: pretend that ordinary Americans are paying the bills. A well-heeled and well-connected front group, the National Committee for a Free Europe ... ran an enormous fund-raising campaign ... that implored Americans to donate “freedom dollars” to combat Kremlin lies. The donations barely covered the cost of running the “fund-raising drives,” to say nothing of Radio Free Europe’s $30 million annual budgets. But that wasn’t the point. Declassified documents reveal that almost from the start, the CIA saw that it could exploit the fund-raising campaign as a conduit for domestic propaganda. It was a way to rally public support for the Cold War. Our post-truth media environment [carries] voices from this past. The crusade blasted all information from enemy sources as lies and deceit — fake news, we could say.
Note: The US government was legally prevented from broadcasting propaganda to domestic audiences for many years. This prohibition ended when new rules were adopted in 2013. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
An Open Secret, a documentary about the sexual abuse of teenage boys at the hands of Hollywood big-wigs, generated plenty of publicity a few years ago. Now, with new sexual allegations against Harvey Weinstein and others in the movie and TV industry coming practically daily, the producer of An Open Secret has posted his film online for the first time. "It's so funny to keep seeing headlines about how Harvey's abuse was 'an open secret' in Hollywood, and that's the name of our film," said producer Gabe Hoffman. The movie got a limited theatrical release a few years ago, and Hoffman is still seeking more distribution. Much of the movie focuses on the now-defunct Digital Entertainment Network. DEN [is] remembered today for hosting wild parties with drugs, alcohol and underage boys at the former residence of founder, Marc Collins-Rector, now a registered sex offender. Another case explored in An Open Secret involves talent manager Marty Weiss, who pleaded no contest to lewd acts on a child and is heard in the film admitting molestation. Also explored is talent manager Bob Villard, who used to represent Leonardo DiCaprio and also pleaded no contest to lewd acts with a child. "We haven't got any offers from major distributors yet because Hollywood doesn't want to expose its dirty laundry," [said Hoffman]. "Harvey Weinstein, by the way, is not the only one who has used confidentiality settlements. That's why more of Hollywood's behavior hasn't been exposed. This is the tip of the iceberg," he said.
Note: Read a summarized review of this film, or a much more detailed report on the issues it exposes. Then learn how the film's director strangely distanced herself from the film, likely because she was threatened. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
Reporter and NBC contributor Ronan Farrow pursued leads about Harvey Weinstein's misconduct for months, but NBC passed on the chance to publish his story. "Ronan was basically told to stop working on this," according to a source. So Farrow contacted David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker. Now the magazine is receiving widespread acclaim for publishing the investigation. What happened at NBC is a media world mystery. Did the network's executives not have the stomach for the inevitable legal threats? Were they trying to protect relationships in Hollywood? Or were there other reasons? The official explanation, from the news division's president Noah Oppenheim, is that "we didn't feel that we had all the elements that we needed to air it," so Farrow "took it to The New Yorker." But some staffers aren't buying that. And they're wondering why Farrow's taped interviews with accusers aren't being broadcast now. The question of how NBC could have let this scoop get away is big enough that it even came up on sister network MSNBC Tuesday night. Host Rachel Maddow asked Farrow, "Why did you end up reporting this story for The New Yorker and not for NBC News?" "Look," Farrow responded, "you would have to ask NBC and NBC executives about the details of that story." Earlier in the interview, he had mentioned that he taped one of his on-camera interviews way back in January.
As of Wednesday, half of Puerto Ricans had access to drinking water and 5 percent of the island had electricity, according to statistics published by the Federal Emergency Management Agency on its Web page. By Thursday morning, both of those key metrics were no longer on the Web page. The statistics that are on the FEMA page, as of Thursday afternoon, include these: There are now 14,000 federal workers on the ground in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, up from 12,300 earlier in the week. All airports, federally maintained ports and post offices are open. More than 30 miles of roadway have been cleared, up from about 20 miles earlier in the week. About 65 percent of grocery stores have reopened, along with nearly all hospitals and dialysis centers. And 64 percent of wastewater treatment plants are working on generator power. Those statistics illustrate President Trump's assertions that the island is quickly making tremendous strides toward full recovery and that the media have exaggerated the conditions on the ground.
Note: As of Friday afternoon, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is once again reporting the percentage of Puerto Ricans who have access to drinking water and the percentage of the island that has power.
As part of his ongoing crusade targeting black athletes, President Donald Trump shared a tweet. It included an image of Pat Tillman, the former NFL safety-turned-U.S. Army Ranger who was killed in Afghanistan in the spring of 2004. Trump was co-signing a suggestion that Tillman was a true patriot, unlike those who have chosen to kneel during the national anthem. Tillman’s is indeed an all-American story, it’s just not the kind that Trump and his supporters want it to be. Few episodes of the post-9/11 era have called down more disgrace upon the military than its handling of Tillman’s death. Tillman was 25 years old when he joined the Army ... expecting to join the fight against Al Qaeda and the effort to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Instead, he was sent to Iraq. Tillman loathed the Iraq War. He confided in his brother and their friend Russell Baer that he thought the invasion and occupation were “fucking illegal.” On April 22,  Tillman was killed. His memorial service was broadcast on national television. The military provided a Navy SEAL ... with a narrative to read to mourners. It described how Tillman charged up a ridgeline, braving enemy fire, and died defending his fellow soldiers. The military knew Tillman was killed by his fellow soldiers, brought down by three bullets to the head let loose during spasms of wildly irresponsible but deliberate shooting. In Tillman’s death, powerful officials saw an opportunity to spin a yarn of heroic sacrifice, rather than an obligation to tell the truth.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing military corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
When David North, the editorial chairman of the World Socialist Web Site, noticed a drop in the site’s traffic in April, he initially chalked it up to news fatigue. But when he dug into the numbers, Mr. North said, he found a clearer explanation: Google had stopped redirecting search queries to the site. He discovered that the top search terms that once brought people to the World Socialist Web Site were now coming up empty. Accusations that Google has tampered with search results are not uncommon. But they are taking on new life amid concerns that technology behemoths are directly - or indirectly - censoring controversial subjects in their response to concerns over so-called fake news. In April, Google announced an initiative called Project Owl to provide “algorithmic updates to surface more authoritative content” and stamp out fake news stories from its search results. To some, that was an uncomfortable step toward Google becoming an arbiter of what is and is not a trustworthy news source. “They’re really skating on thin ice,” said Michael Bertini, a search strategist at iQuanti, a digital marketing agency. “They’re controlling what users see." In an open letter to Google last month, Mr. North traced his site’s traffic decline to Project Owl. Mr. North said he believed that Google was blacklisting the site, using concerns over fake news as a cover to suppress opinions from socialist, antiwar or left-wing websites and block news that Google doesn’t want covered.
Note: Visits to WantToKnow.info have dropped to less than half of what they were just eight months ago, largely due to a drop in visits from Google's search engine. Many alternative news websites have lost a lot of visits as Google prioritizes "mainstream" sources over alternative viewpoints. Check out the intriguing, well researched article "How the CIA Made Google." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
On the evening of October 30, 1938, a seventy-six-year-old millworker in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey, named Bill Dock heard something terrifying. Aliens had landed just down the road, a newscaster announced. Dock ... prepared to face down the invaders. But ... he’d been duped by Orson Welles’s radio adaptation of “The War of the Worlds.” The next day, newspapers were full of stories like Dock’s. This early fake-news panic lives on in legend, but [historian A. Brad] Schwartz is the latest of a number of researchers to argue that it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. There was no mass hysteria, only small pockets of concern that quickly burned out. Newspapers exaggerated the panic to better control the upstart medium of radio, which was becoming the dominant source of breaking news in the thirties. Newspapers wanted to show that radio was irresponsible and needed guidance from its older, more respectable siblings in the print media, such “guidance” mostly taking the form of lucrative licensing deals and increased ownership of local radio stations. To some, the lesson of the panic was that the F.C.C. needed to take an even more active role to protect people from malicious tricksters like Welles. Yet Schwartz says that the people calling for a government crackdown were far outnumbered by those who warned against one. Today, Facebook and Google have taken the place of the F.C.C. in the conservative imagination. With a powerful, well-funded propaganda machine ... conservatives aren’t the ones who have the most to fear.
Note: Historian A. Brad Schwartz is the author of a bestselling book titled, "Broadcast Hysteria: Orson Welles’s War of the Worlds and the Art of Fake News". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
It was just four years ago that roughly two dozen representatives of major news organizations crowded around a conference table at the Justice Department for a meeting with Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. Our agenda? Strengthening the Justice Department’s guidelines that limit when federal prosecutors can serve subpoenas on the news media. It had just been revealed that federal investigators had secretly seized the phone records of The Associated Press and the emails of a Fox News correspondent during leak investigations. The result was important: The Justice Department revised its internal guidelines to make it harder for prosecutors to obtain subpoenas for reporters’ testimony and records. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, after being chided by President Trump for being weak, recently declared a war on leakers and made clear that the news media was also on his mind. It seems all but certain that the Justice Department will try to chip away at the subpoena guidelines, [which] say that prosecutors are to seek testimony and evidence from journalists only as a last resort, and that news organizations should have a chance to go to court to challenge any subpoenas. The guidelines are far from ironclad. If a prosecutor were to ignore them, a journalist would have no right to go into court and demand they be followed. When federal courts dial back protection for reporters, the guidelines become an essential first line of defense against overzealous prosecutors.
The relationship between US national security and Hollywood is much deeper and more political than anyone has ever acknowledged. It is a matter of public record that the Pentagon has had an entertainment liaison office since 1948. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) established a similar position in 1996. Although it was known that they sometimes request script changes in exchange for advice, permission to use locations, and equipment such as aircraft carriers, each appeared to have passive, and largely apolitical roles. Files we obtained, mainly through the US Freedom of Information Act, show that between 1911 and 2017, more than 800 feature films received support from the US Government’s Department of Defence (DoD), a significantly higher figure than previous estimates indicate. These included blockbuster franchises such as Transformers, Iron Man, and The Terminator. On television, we found over 1,100 titles received Pentagon backing – 900 of them since 2005, from Flight 93 to Ice Road Truckers to Army Wives. When we include individual episodes for long running shows like 24, Homeland, and NCIS, as well as the influence of other major organisations like the FBI and White House, we can establish unequivocally for the first time that the national security state has supported thousands of hours of entertainment. For its part, the CIA has assisted in 60 film and television shows since its formation in 1947. This is a much lower figure than the DoD’s but its role has nonetheless been significant.
Note: Read how the Pentagon controls the script of hundreds of movies, some quite well known. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Seth Rich [was] a mid-level staffer at the DNC who was murdered on July 10, 2016. Conspiracy theorists ... pounced on the story. Rich, they declared, was killed ... because he had stolen vast swaths of data from the DNC and handed it to WikiLeaks. "Whistle-blowers go to significant efforts to get us material. A 27-year-old that works for the DNC was shot in the back, murdered ... in Washington," [WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange said in an interview]. Days later, WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information about the murder of Rich. On May 16, Malia Zimmerman, a Fox reporter ... published a story on DC’s Fox 5 News outlining a conspiratorial view of the Rich murder. That night, Sean Hannity broadcast a lengthy segment based on Zimmerman’s story. The star witness was Rod Wheeler. But in [a new lawsuit, filed on August 1], Wheeler says that he was a victim of manipulation by others involved in the story. On May 23, Fox would retract the entire story and purge it from its archives. Wheeler ... was recruited [by Fox contributor Ed Butowsky] to serve as a paid investigator by the Rich family. Enter Sy Hersh. According to Wheeler’s lawsuit, “even before Butowsky had ever contacted Mr. Wheeler, Butowsky had already had a conversation on this topic with Seymour (Sy) Hersh.” Hersh claimed - and there’s a recording to support this - that he, Hersh, had had access to a secret FBI report about the Rich case. Hersh also said that Rich had created a Dropbox for DNC e-mails, that WikiLeaks had access to it, that Rich had warned friends in case “something happens to me,” and more.
Note: An intriguing six-minute video by whistleblower website Newsbud presents powerful evidence the Wikileaks DNC leak was not the result of Russian hackers. As reported in the above article, venerable journalist Seymour Hersh stated that murdered Clinton aid Seth Rich was behind the leak and that the whole thing was a CIA operation. Hints of more cover-up and manipulation around this can be found in this Washington Post article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and media manipulation.
Julian Assange, the founder of whistleblowing platform WikiLeaks, has spoken out against a passing US Senate bill which aims to officially label his organisation as a "non-state hostile intelligence service". WikiLeaks has recently been publishing documents allegedly pilfered from inside the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), something that has led its director, Mike Pompeo, to shift from openly citing its publications to harshly criticising them. The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief ... wrote: "Media organisations develop and protect sources. So do intelligence agencies. But to suggest that media organisations are 'non-state intelligence services is absurd. It is equivalent to suggesting that the CIA is a media organisation." The day prior to the statement's release, it emerged that US senator Ron Wyden was the sole politician to vote against the intelligence committee's authorisation bill. Wyden said: "My concern is that the use of the novel phrase 'non-state hostile intelligence service' may have legal, constitutional, and policy implications, particularly should it be applied to journalists inquiring about secrets. The language in the bill suggesting that the US government has some unstated course of action against 'non-state hostile intelligence services' is equally troubling." Legally, experts warn it is largely impossible to prosecute WikiLeaks without also bringing charges against The New York Times, The Guardian or other mainstream publications. Despite this, US attorney general Jeff Sessions has still pledged to "put some people in jail".
Note: In May, United Nations officials said that the US treatment of activists was increasingly "incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the intelligence community.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday that the Justice Department has more than tripled the number of leak investigations compared with the number that were ongoing at the end of the last administration. Sessions said he was devoting more resources to stamping out unauthorized disclosures, directing Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray to actively monitor every investigation, instructing the department’s national security division and U.S. attorneys to prioritize such cases, and creating a new counterintelligence unit in the FBI to manage the work. Sessions also said he was reviewing the Justice Department’s policy on issuing subpoenas to reporters. Rosenstein refused to rule out the possibility that journalists would be prosecuted. It has long been Justice Department practice in leak probes to try to avoid investigating journalists directly to find their sources. Prosecutors in the Obama era brought nine leak cases, more than during all previous administrations combined, and in the process called a reporter a criminal “co-conspirator” and secretly went after journalists’ phone records in a bid to identify reporters’ sources. Danielle Brian, executive director at the Project on Government Oversight, said leak investigations might inappropriately target well-intentioned whistleblowers. “Whistleblowers are the nation’s first line of defense against fraud, waste, abuse, and illegality within the federal government,” Brian said in a statement.
Documents released Tuesday in a lawsuit against Monsanto raised new questions about the company’s efforts to influence the news media and scientific research and revealed internal debate over the safety of its highest-profile product, the weed killer Roundup. The active ingredient in Roundup, glyphosate, is the most common weed killer in the world. The documents underscore the lengths to which the agrochemical company goes to protect its image. Documents show that Henry I. Miller ... a vocal proponent of genetically modified crops, asked Monsanto to draft an article for him that largely mirrored one that appeared under his name on Forbes’s website in 2015. An academic involved in writing research funded by Monsanto, John Acquavella, [wrote] in a 2015 email to a Monsanto executive, “I can’t be part of deceptive authorship on a presentation or publication.” He also said of the way the company was trying to present the authorship: “We call that ghost writing and it is unethical.” Mr. Miller’s 2015 article on Forbes’s website was an attack on the findings of ... a branch of the World Health Organization that had labeled glyphosate a probable carcinogen. The documents also show that A. Wallace Hayes, the former editor of a journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, has had a contractual relationship with Monsanto. In 2013, while he was still editor, Mr. Hayes retracted a key study damaging to Monsanto that found that Roundup, and genetically modified corn, could cause cancer and early death in rats.
Few science writers have worked as hard as Keith Kloor to impact public opinion on genetically modified organism (GMO) agriculture. An adjunct professor at New York University and former editor for Audubon and blogger for Discover, Kloor has spent years championing GMO products and portraying skeptics and critics as scientifically illiterate quacks. His curious form of advocacy includes bitter attacks on anyone who disagrees with him. Kloor’s targets have included Jake Tapper of CNN; Michael Pollan, professor of journalism at UC-Berkeley; Tom Philpott of Mother Jones; Mark Bittman, the noted food columnist; Glenn Davis Stone, Guggenheim Fellow and professor of archaeology at Washington University; Nassim Taleb, professor of risk engineering at NYU; Marion Nestle, professor of food science at NYU; and Charles Seife, professor of science journalism at NYU. The public has known for some time that Keith Kloor loves GMOs. What they haven’t known, until now, is how hard he’s worked with industry-funded “experts” to present corporate talking points as journalism and then try to cover his tracks. An avalanche of documents released through court proceedings and freedom of information requests point to a coordinated effort by corporate front groups, scientists secretly funded by agrichemical industry giants, and allied reporters attempting to portray themselves as arbiters of scientific expertise while condemning critics of GMO technology as “antiscience.”
Note: The above article provides an in-depth view of Monsanto's corruption of mass media. This company's use of scientists as industry puppets, its lies to regulators and the public and its massive lobbying campaign have not kept information on the risks and dangers of GMOs from getting out.
Drone pilots have been quitting the U.S. Air Force in record numbers. They cite a combination of low-class status in the military, overwork and psychological trauma. But a widely publicized new memoir about America’s covert drone war fails to mention the “outflow increases,” as one internal Air Force memo calls it. “Drone Warrior: An Elite Soldier’s Inside Account of the Hunt for America’s Most Dangerous Enemies” chronicles the nearly 10 years that Brett Velicovich, a former special operations member, spent using drones to help special forces find and track terrorists. Conveniently, it also puts a hard sell on a program whose ranks the military is struggling to keep full. The book is, at best, a tale of hyper-masculine bravado and, at worst, a piece of military propaganda designed to ease doubts about the drone program and increase recruitment. Velicovich exaggerates the accuracy of the technology, neglecting to mention how often it fails or that such failures have killed an untold number of civilians. For instance, the CIA killed 76 children and 29 adults in its attempts to take out Ayman al Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda, who reportedly is still alive. The film rights to “Drone Warrior” were bought over a year ago, with much fanfare, by Paramount Pictures. This development is predictable. The U.S. military and Hollywood have long enjoyed a symbiotic relationship. But there is something particularly unseemly about Hollywood’s enthusiasm for bringing Velicovich’s version of drone warfare to the big screen.
Note: Documents obtained by a crowdfunded investigative journalism project show that US military and intelligence agencies have influenced over 1,800 movies and television shows. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has a reputation as a nice guy. This is the man who could destroy the open internet. Pai ... is spearheading the Trump administration’s regulatory rollback of net neutrality protections. Net neutrality, which some have described as the “first amendment of the internet”, is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone’s data equally – whether that’s an email from your mother, an episode of House of Cards on Netflix or a bank transfer. It means that cable ISPs such as Comcast, AT&T or Verizon don’t get to choose which data is sent more quickly and which sites get blocked or throttled based on which content providers pay a premium. In February 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to more strictly regulate ISPs and to enshrine in law the principles of net neutrality. The vote reclassified wireless and fixed-line broadband service providers as title II “common carriers”, a public utility-type designation. But Trump’s FCC, with Pai at the helm, wants to repeal the rules. Pai’s views echo those of the big broadband companies. That might have something to do with the huge sums AT&T, Comcast and Verizon throw toward lobbying, collectively spending $11m in the first quarter of 2017. Pretty much everyone outside the large cable companies supports the FCC’s net neutrality rules.
Note: Members of the public can support net neutrality by sending comments to the FCC until July 18. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and in the corporate world.
Investigators have revealed that targets of high-tech spying in Mexico included an international group of experts backed by the Organization of American States who had criticized the government’s investigation into the disappearance of 43 students. Previous investigations by the internet watchdog group Citizen Lab found that the spyware had been directed at journalists, activists and opposition politicians in Mexico. But targeting foreign experts operating under the aegis of an international body marks an escalation of the scandal. The experts had diplomatic status, making the spying attempt even graver. The spyware, known as Pegasus, is made by the Israel-based NSO Group, which says it sells only to government agencies for use against criminals and terrorists. It turns a cellphone into an eavesdropper, giving snoopers the ability to remotely activate its microphone and camera and access its data. The spyware is uploaded when users click on a link in email messages. Citizen Lab said the spyware attempts against the international experts occurred in March 2016 as the group was preparing its final, critical report on the government investigation into the disappearances. The 43 students were detained by local police in the city of Iguala on 26 September 2014, and were turned over to a crime gang. Only one student’s remains have been identified. The experts criticized the government’s conclusions, saying ... that government investigators had not looked into other evidence.
Note: Read the report by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto for the details of these suspicious spyware attacks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and the erosion of civil liberties.
Amid all the talk of Qatar’s alleged support for terrorism, at the core of the Gulf Arab countries’ ongoing blockade of the oil- and gas-rich emirate is one major source of contention: Al Jazeera. A central demand of the Gulf states lead by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates ... is for the Gulf country to “close Al Jazeera network and its affiliates.” Other key demands: downgrading ties with Iran and closing a Turkish military base in Doha. Why the intense focus on the pan-Arab TV network? When launched in 1996, the network was seen as a revolutionary force bucking a largely conservative and autocratic status quo. In an era in which state-run media dominated the Arab world, Al Jazeera for the first time broadcast differing views and opinions, and raised political awareness. Today ... states such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE are exerting all their diplomatic and economic might to bring an end to Al Jazeera in a vain bid to close its Pandora’s box of democratic and liberal social values. Al Jazeera has addressed social issues and taboos often discussed in heated debates at home but never broadcast on-air: honor killings, the plight of migrant workers, suicide bombings, sexual harassment. “We opened a huge debate and exposed a lot of contradictions in the well-established orthodoxy of traditional organizations, including political and religious groups,” says Wadah Khanfar, former director general of Al Jazeera from 2003 to 2011.
Note: Al Jazeera is one of the very few media outlets that has raised serious questions about many of the issues raised by WantToKnow.info, so no wonder the powers that be want it shut down. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and mass media.
Amid the unusual pressures of the Trump era, some are advocating a more interpretive or even combative approach to journalism – and argue that will do more to help society. When President Trump retweeted a meme earlier this week, sending out a cartoonishly doctored video that showed him clotheslining a person representing CNN, it escalated the conflict between Mr. Trump and the press. For the president, his tweet was a “modern-day presidential” counter-punch to his critics. But coming on the heels of his ... reference in February to the nation’s news media as “the enemy of the American people,” many journalists took it seriously. They saw not a joke but a dangerous portrayal of violence against their profession. The press has long been seen as essential to the idea of democratic self-governance. Free speech, enshrined in the First Amendment, is one of the bulwarks of individual liberty and equality. This has not always included the idea of impartiality and objectivity, however. In the 18th and 19th century, in fact, most newspapers were often aggressively partisan. Today, standards are different. “I think for a long time now people judge quality in journalism by how ‘balanced’ it is,” says Mitchell Stephens, a professor of journalism at New York University. “It seems that journalism is attacked for not being balanced more than it’s being attacked for not getting things right.” Professor Stephens ... suggests that American news organizations, abandoning a “pretense to objectivity,” could be returning to their “loud, boisterous, and combative” ways.
Faith in written information is under attack in some quarters. But images and sound recordings retain for many an inherent trustworthiness. [Machine-learning algorithms] are part of a technological wave that threatens this credibility. Audio is easier to fake. Normally, computers generate speech by linking lots of short recorded speech fragments to create a sentence. Generative audio works differently, using neural networks to learn the statistical properties of the audio source in question, then reproducing those properties directly. Putting words into the mouth of Mr Trump, say, or of any other public figure, is a matter of feeding recordings of his speeches into the algorithmic hopper and then telling the trained software what you want that person to say. Generating images is harder. [Generative adversarial networks] were introduced in 2014 by Ian Goodfellow. Mr Goodfellow ... suggests that the generation of YouTube fakes that are very plausible may be possible within three years. Others think it might take longer. But all agree that it is a question of when, not if. “We think that AI is going to change the kinds of evidence that we can trust,” says Mr Goodfellow.
Note: While government programs have long been developing technologies to produce very convincing illusions, and it has become trivial to edit video footage of a person talking to change their words and facial expressions, this emerging technology makes it possible to manipulate mass media in previously impossible ways.
CNN accepted the resignations Monday of three journalists involved in a retracted story about a supposed investigation into a pre-inaugural meeting between an associate of President Donald Trump and the head of a Russian investment fund. The story was posted on the network's website on Thursday and was removed, with all links disabled, Friday night. CNN immediately apologized to Anthony Scaramucci, the Trump transition team member who was reported to be involved in the meeting. The story had been quickly questioned both internally and externally, including by the conservative site Breitbart News. It was determined that the story was posted without going through the expected checks and balances for a story of such sensitivity, the executive said. The failure to follow proper procedures is what led to the resignations, the CNN executive said. It's not immediately clear what in the story is factually incorrect, or whether CNN will continue to report on the issue. The retracted story had said the Senate investigations committee was looking into a January 16 discussion between Scaramucci and Kirill Dmitriev, whose Russian Direct Investment Fund guides investments by U.S. entities in Russia. Scaramucci, in the story, said he exchanged pleasantries in a restaurant with Dmitriev. The report also said that two Democratic senators wanted to know whether Scaramucci had indicated in the meeting whether sanctions against Russia would be lifted, a decision that could impact the investment fund.
Note: CNN supervising producer John Bonifield was recently caught on camera admitting that CNN's Russia narrative is unsupported by proof but good for ratings. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable sources.
Mexican journalists, lawyers and activists were targeted by spyware produced by Israel’s NSO Group that is sold exclusively to governments. [A] report by Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto said the targets included people, such as prominent journalists Carmen Aristegui and Carlos Loret de Mola, who were investigating alleged government corruption and purported human rights abuses by security forces. The people targeted received messages with links that, if clicked on, opened up their devices to being exploited and spied upon. NSO’s Pegasus spyware allows hackers access to phone calls, messages, cameras and personal data. Other targets included members of the Centro Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez, a prominent human rights group that has investigated cases such as the disappearance of 43 students whom police allegedly detained and turned over to drug gang killers; the anti-graft group Mexicans Against Corruption and Impunity; and the Mexican Institute for Competitiveness, a civil society group working on economic policy and combatting corruption. Aristegui, who exposed a case of possible conflict of interest involving a luxury home acquired from a government contractor ... was aggressively targeted. She received more than two-dozen messages with NSO links claiming to be from “the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, Amber Alerts, colleagues, people in her personal life, her bank, phone company and notifications of kidnappings,” the report said.
Note: If the above link is not working, this Associated Press article is also available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corruption in government and the erosion of civil liberties.
Television reporters covering the Capitol were told midday Tuesday to stop recording interviews in Senate hallways, a dramatic and unexplained break with tradition that was soon reversed amid a wide rebuke from journalists, Democratic lawmakers and free-speech advocates. The episode heightened concerns about reporters’ access to Washington leaders in an era when hostility toward the political media has increasingly become the norm. For some, the move to protect senators from impromptu on-camera interviews fell into a wider Trump-era pattern of efforts to roll back press freedoms, whether by barring reporters from interviewing officials or denying them access to briefings, trips and events. “These are actions that are without precedent in the history of the White House and Congress,” said Ben Wizner, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union and director of the group’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project. “Even if some of the violations are of norms rather than rights, the effect is to make the government less transparent at precisely the moment when congressional oversight has been at its weakest,” Wizner said.
The world finds itself in an age saturated with anxiety - at least, that’s the sense created by the daily deluge of news portraying a grim present of economic hardship, global tensions, terrorism, and political upheaval. The five-year-old site Upworthy doesn’t want you to see the world that way. In March of 2012, Eli Pariser - one of the leaders of the activist group MoveOn - and Peter Koechley - also of MoveOn and an editor at The Onion - launched Upworthy with several million dollars of seed money and a surfeit of hope. It was and is a bold attempt at reframing what constitutes news. Fear and anger are the currency of the media realm. Upworthy seeks to upend that formula and focus instead not on what is going wrong but on what might go right. Upworthy ... insists that stories “can make the world a better place” and engage people in a way that makes them want to do something instead of tuning out. On the numbers, Upworthy has 11 million subscribers, 20 million unique visitors to its website, and more important, substantial community engagement through its main distribution platform, Facebook. For those of you who think Upworthy has faded, Facebook’s own research ... demonstrates that the site and its stories have some of the highest community engagement of any Facebook page, behind Fox News but ahead of CNN. The site’s audience is surprisingly diverse in terms of politics and geography. Its experiment seems to be more one of tone: positive encouragement rather than inflammatory antagonism.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
Just over a week ago, the White House declared that ordering an American aircraft carrier into the Sea of Japan would send a powerful deterrent signal to North Korea and give President Trump more options in responding to the North’s provocative behavior. “We’re sending an armada,” Mr. Trump said to Fox News last Tuesday afternoon. The problem was that the carrier, the Carl Vinson, and the three other warships in its strike force were that very moment sailing in the opposite direction, to take part in joint exercises with the Australian Navy ... 3,500 miles southwest of the Korean Peninsula. White House officials said Tuesday that they had been relying on guidance from the Defense Department. Officials there described a glitch-ridden sequence of events ... which perpetuated the false narrative that a flotilla was racing toward the waters off North Korea. By the time the White House was asked about the Carl Vinson, its imminent arrival had been emblazoned on front pages across East Asia, fanning fears that Mr. Trump was considering a pre-emptive military strike. In South Korea ... fears of a full-blown war erupted. The government rushed to reassure the public that the Carl Vinson was coming only to deter North Korean provocations. After a week of war drums, fueled by the reports of the oncoming armada, tensions subsided when the weekend passed with only a military parade in Pyongyang and a failed missile test, [while] the Carl Vinson ... was thousands of miles from where most of the world thought it was.
A leading weapons academic has claimed that the Khan Sheikhoun nerve agent attack in Syria was staged. Theodore Postol, a [former scientific advisor at the Department of Defense (DoD)], issued a series of three reports in response to the White House's finding that Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad perpetrated the attack on 4 April. Postol said: "I have reviewed the [White House's] document carefully, and [it] does not provide any evidence whatsoever that the US government has concrete knowledge that the government of Syria was the source of the chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. "In fact, a main piece of evidence that is cited in the document point to an attack that was executed by individuals on the ground, not from an aircraft, on the morning of 4 April. "My own assessment is that the source [of the sarin release] was very likely tampered with or staged, so no serious conclusion could be made from the photographs cited by the White House." The image Postol refers to is that of a crater containing a shell inside, which is said to have contained the sarin gas. His analysis of the shell suggests that it could not have been dropped from an airplane as the damage of the casing is inconsistent from an aerial explosion. Instead, Postol said it was more likely that an explosive charge was laid upon the shell containing sarin, before being detonated. The implication of Postol's analysis is that [the attack] was carried out by anti-government insurgents as Khan Sheikhoun is in militant-controlled territory of Syria.
Note: See an excellent list of 10 points with strong evidence Assad was not behind the chemical attacks the media has pinned on him. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
There have been four episodes of The Bernie Sanders Show so far, with the most popular seeing Sanders and his guest, Bill Nye, seated on stylish red armchairs. Sanders has decided to bypass traditional media and broadcast exclusively on Facebook. And it is attracting ... a huge audience. The first episode of the show featured the Rev William Barber, a protestant minister and activist who is a national board member of the NAACP. The conversation ... focussed on grassroots mobilizing, and has been viewed more than 950,000 times. Sanders himself is the brains behind much of the output. “Our goal – and this is all coming from the senator – is to find new ways to move outside the bubble of DC,” [Sanders’ deputy communications director] Miller-Lewis said. The scope of Sanders’ Facebook audience became clear after he used the platform to give a response to Trump’s state of the union speech in February. The video has 8.3m views, and ... 80,000 people watched it live. “We were essentially reaching as many people as we could if he went on cable news after the address,” Miller-Lewis said. “But instead he was able to give a 15-minute speech about whatever he wanted. He didn’t have to deal with the questions that they were going to ask or the things the anchors on CNN thought were important.”
The companies responsible for programming your phones are working hard to get you and your family to feel the need to check in constantly. Some programmers call it “brain hacking” and the tech world would probably prefer you didn’t hear about it. Ramsay Brown studied neuroscience before co-founding Dopamine Labs. The company is named after the dopamine molecule in our brains that aids in the creation of desire and pleasure. Brown and his colleagues write computer code for apps ... designed to provoke a neurological response. The computer code he creates finds the best moment to give you ... rewards, which have no actual value, but Brown says trigger your brain to make you want more. When Brown says “experiments,” he’s talking generally about the millions of computer calculations being used every moment by his company and others use to constantly tweak your online experience. "You’re part of a controlled set of experiments that are happening in real time across you and millions of other people," [said Brown]. "You’re guinea pigs ... pushing the button and sometimes getting the likes. And they’re doing this to keep you in there. You don’t pay for Facebook. Advertisers pay for Facebook. You get to use it for free because your eyeballs are what’s being sold there." While Brown is tapping into the power of dopamine, psychologist Larry Rosen and his team at California State University ... are researching the effect technology has on our anxiety levels. Their research suggests our phones are keeping us in a continual state of anxiety in which the only antidote – is the phone.
Note: This new form of "brain hacking" adds to a vast arsenal of behavior modification technologies developed by government and industry. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on mind control and the disappearance of privacy.
WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange’s revelation last week of the CIA’s arsenal of hacking tools had a misplaced tone of surprise. Some scary initial stories argued that the CIA could crack Signal and WhatsApp phone encryption, not to mention your toaster and television. But ... the hardest question here is whether the CIA and other government agencies have a responsibility to disclose to software vendors the holes they discover in computer code, so they can be fixed quickly. This may sound like a no-brainer. The problem is that there’s a global market for “zero-day” exploits (ones that are unknown on the day they’re used). U.S. intelligence agencies buy some of these exploits; so do other countries’ spy services, criminal gangs and the software vendors themselves. A recent report by the Rand Corp. [calculated that] there are about two dozen companies selling or renting exploits to the United States and its allies, with many of these contractors making between $1 million and $2.5 million annually. More than 200 zero-day exploits studied by Rand went undetected for an average of 6.9 years. Given this evidence, Rand argued, “some may conclude that stockpiling zero-days may be a reasonable option” to combat potential adversaries. But let’s be honest: The real shocker in the WikiLeaks scoop is the demonstration ... that the U.S. government can’t keep secrets. It makes little sense for the CIA to argue against disclosing its cyber-tricks to computer companies if this valuable information is going to get leaked ... anyway.
According to new research from the University of Southern California and Indiana University, up to 15 percent of Twitter accounts are in fact bots rather than people. Researchers at USC used more than one thousand features to identify bot accounts on Twitter, in categories including friends, tweet content and sentiment, and time between tweets. Using that framework, researchers wrote that "our estimates suggest that between 9% and 15% of active Twitter accounts are bots." Since Twitter currently has 319 million monthly active users, that translates to nearly 48 million bot accounts, using USC's high-end estimate. The report goes on to say that complex bots could have shown up as humans in their model, "making even the 15% figure a conservative estimate." At 15 percent, the evaluation is far greater than Twitter's own estimates. In a filing with the SEC last month, Twitter said that up to 8.5 percent of all active accounts contacted Twitter's servers "…without any discernable additional user-initiated action." USC's researchers ... highlight the benefits of some bots, writing, "many social bots perform useful functions, such as dissemination of news and publications…" But the USC report also points to the downside of bots, saying, "there is a growing record of malicious applications of social bots. Some emulate human behavior to manufacture fake grassroots political support [and] promote terrorist propaganda and recruitment."
Note: The use of social media to manipulate public perception has reportedly influenced recent elections in Latin America, the UK, and the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
When Angus Crawford, a journalist at the British Broadcasting Corporation, started reporting on sexualized images of children on Facebook, he knew he had to proceed with caution. Mr. Crawford ... began investigating the presence of obscene images of children on Facebook last year, [and] found that pedophiles were using secret pages to share images of children. A subsequent police investigation led to one man being imprisoned. This year, [Mr. Crawford] followed up and found that there were still images on the website that appeared to break Facebook guidelines, which state that the social media company will remove any content that promotes sexual violence or exploitation. Mr. Crawford reported the images using Facebook’s internal system, but the company took down only 18 of the 100 that he flagged. He then contacted the social network directly ... and was asked to provide examples of images that he had reported. When he provided examples ... the company reported Mr. Crawford and the BBC to the police. The company filed its report with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center. Facebook has said it is improving its system for reporting offensive content, but the incident has raised questions about exactly how it polices its site. Mr. Crawford ... noted an apparent contradiction between the view of Facebook’s moderation system, which determined that the photos were not in breach of the social network’s guidelines, and the company’s decision to report the BBC to the police.
Facebook unveiled its highly anticipated “disputed news” tag Friday, allowing some users to flag stories that appear to contain false information, alerting readers and potentially making them less likely to click through to the content. In December, the company announced it would unveil a fact-checking feature that allows users to dispute material they believe is false. The system relies on users who qualify as fact-checkers after signing onto a list of principles codified by the journalism nonprofit Poytner. These users can flag single stories, rather than entire sources, as fraudulent. Links to vetted debunkers, such as Politifact and Snopes, that analyze claims and arrive at conclusions regarding their validity then appear beneath the post. So users can still see and access flagged stories shared by their friends, but they will get a warning before clicking through. According to Gizmodo, two stories flagged as “disputed” by the social media site Friday seemed to follow a pattern: Both made critical statements about the Trump administration and came from sources that had previously admitted to publishing fake stories. It’s unclear how many fake stories the system will be able to identify, or how many others will trust it. The divisive political climate ... likely won’t be fixed simply by placing an asterisk on some coverage. “The problem is that we are too credulous of news that reinforces our predispositions and too critical of sites that contradict them,” Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., told the Monitor.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable sources.
I Googled “mainstream media is…” And there it was. Google’s autocomplete suggestions: “mainstream media is… dead, dying, fake news, fake, finished”. Google’s first suggested link ... leads to a website called CNSnews.com and an article: “The Mainstream media are dead.” How had it, an obscure site I’d never heard of, dominated Google’s search algorithm on the topic? In the “About us” tab, I learn CNSnews is owned by the Media Research Center. It receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Since 2010, Mercer has donated $45m to different political campaigns – all Republican – and another $50m to non-profits – all rightwing, ultra-conservative. This is a billionaire who is ... trying to reshape the world according to his personal beliefs. He is reported to have a $10m stake in the [Cambridge Analytica], which was spun out of a bigger British company called SCL Group. It specialises in “election management strategies” and “messaging and information operations”, refined over 25 years. In military circles this is known as “psyops” – psychological operations. Cambridge Analytica makes the astonishing boast that it has psychological profiles based on 5,000 separate pieces of data on 220 million American voters. With this, a computer ... can predict and potentially control human behaviour. It’s incredibly dangerous.
British journalist Julia Breen's scoop about racism at her local police force didn't just get her on the front page, it got her put under surveillance. Investigators logged her calls, those of her colleague Graeme Hetherington and even their modest-sized newspaper's busy switchboard in an effort to unmask their sources. The [Northern Echo newspaper] has often provided painful reading for Cleveland Police, a department responsible for a Chicago-sized patch of England's industrial northeast. The small force has weathered a series of scandals. A minority officer, Sultan Alam, was awarded 800,000 pounds ... after allegedly being framed by colleagues in retaliation for a discrimination lawsuit. The judgment made national headlines. Cleveland Police issued a statement insisting the force wasn't racist. The next day, an anonymous caller told Breen an internal police report suggested otherwise. The following morning her byline was across the front page beneath the words: "Institutional racism uncovered within Cleveland Police." Breen ... eventually forgot the episode. Cleveland Police didn't. The force secretly began logging calls to and from Breen, Hetherington and a third journalist from another newspaper. It was later calculated that the surveillance covered over 1 million minutes of calling time. The Echo isn't unique. Britain's wiretapping watchdog ... revealed in 2015 that 82 journalists' communications records had been seized as part of leak investigations across the country over a three-year period.
Four more journalists have been charged with felonies after being arrested while covering the unrest around Donald Trump’s inauguration, meaning that at least six media workers are facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted. A documentary producer, a photojournalist, a live-streamer and a freelance reporter were each charged with the most serious level of offense under Washington DC’s law against rioting, after being caught up in the police action against demonstrators. The Guardian learned of their arrests after reporting on Monday that the journalists Evan Engel of Vocativ and Alex Rubinstein of RT America had also been arrested and charged with felonies while covering the same unrest. All six were arraigned in superior court on Saturday and released to await further hearings. “These charges are clearly inappropriate, and we are concerned that they could send a chilling message to journalists covering future protests,” said Carlos Lauría, the [Committee to Protect Journalists'] senior Americas program coordinator. The National Lawyers’ Guild accused Washington DC’s metropolitan police department of having “indiscriminately targeted people for arrest en masse based on location alone” and said they unlawfully used teargas and other weapons. None of the arrest reports for the six journalists makes any specific allegations about what any of them are supposed to have done wrong.
Note: These outrageous charges come on the heels of similar tactics being used to silence reporters covering last October's Dakota Access Pipeline protests. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
Pizzagate was the false claim that the Comet Ping Pong pizza place in Washington D.C. was at the center of a pedophilia ring linked to the Hillary Clinton campaign. But on Tuesday night, Meredith-owned CBS46 ran a report full of recycled Internet rumors about the restaurant. Reporter Ben Swann cited the WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from Clinton campaign chief John Podesta heavily throughout his segment. “In all, WikiLeaks dumped around 50,000 email messages, and it was from those emails that the claims that John Podesta may be part of a child sex-trafficking ring come from,” Swann said. However, moments later he added: “To be clear, not one single email in the Podesta emails discusses child sex trafficking or pedophilia.” Swann claimed “strangely worded emails” could be “code language used by pedophiles,” and repeated much of the conspiracy theories featured by conservative radio host Alex Jones and various online forums. “For all that is here, there has not been one single public investigation of any of this,” Swann said. “Not from local police, not from the FBI, no one. And that has to be the big question.” Swann’s boss defended his latest report. “I know he was meticulous with his search for facts,” CBS46 news director Frank Volpicella told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Note: Ben Swann was removed from the show shortly after this report, and his social media accounts went strangely silent. Watch his controversial Pizzagate report on this webpage. The media has slammed Pizzagate as fake news, yet if you look without bias, there is tremendous solid evidence suggesting something very fishy is going on. See this webpage for lots more.
[Cameron] Harris started by crafting the headline: “BREAKING: ‘Tens of thousands’ of fraudulent Clinton votes found in Ohio warehouse.” In a raucous election year defined by made-up stories, Mr. Harris ... and his ersatz-news website, ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, make for an illuminating tale. Contacted by a reporter who had discovered an electronic clue that revealed his secret authorship of ChristianTimesNewspaper.com, he was wary at first. “This topic is rather sensitive,” Mr. Harris said, noting that he was trying to build a political consulting business. But eventually he agreed to tell the story of his foray into fake news, a very part-time gig that ... paid him about $1,000 an hour in web advertising revenue. He seemed to regard his experience with a combination of guilt about having spread falsehoods and pride at doing it so skillfully. He pushed the button and the story was launched on Sept. 30, blazing across the web like some kind of counterfeit comet. “Even before I posted it, I knew it would take off,” Mr. Harris recalled. He was correct. The ballot box story, promoted by a half-dozen Facebook pages Mr. Harris had created for the purpose, flew around the web, fueled by indignant comments from people who were certain that Mrs. Clinton was going to cheat Mr. Trump of victory and who welcomed the proof. It was eventually shared with six million people. The money, not the politics, was the point, he insisted. Mr. Harris said he would have been willing to promote Mrs. Clinton and smear Mr. Trump had those tactics been lucrative.
Important Note: WantToKnow.info manager Fred Burks watched the CBS news video at the link above one day after it was posted. Two days later, Fred clicked on the same link only to find the video there had been replaced with one titled "Why Reports on Trump Are Fake News." The original video was gone. This is unprecedented and suggests someone did not want you to see this video. Fred managed to download the video before it disappeared. You can watch it now on this webpage.
What exactly is Pizzagate? [It began with] the WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. [Some emails suggest] Podesta may be part of a child sex trafficking ring. Podesta talks about his close relationship with Dennis Hastert, the former Speaker of the House who was recently sentenced to 15 months in prison for abusing boys. To be clear, not one single email … discusses child sex trafficking. But there are dozens of ... strangely worded emails dealing with pizza. Those words [may be] code language used by pedophiles. Comet Ping Pong Pizza [is referenced] at least a dozen or so times. The owner of that place, James Alefantis, is a friend of John Podesta. He was actually named ... by GQ magazine as one of the top 50 most powerful people in Washington. Comet Ping Pong ... is a place where a number of performance artists perform [including] a group called Heavy Breathing and another called Sex Stains. Heavy Breathing has songs that do joke about pedophilia. [Alefantis] has made his Instagram profile private, but an archive search of Instagram reveals a number of strange photographs and words with ... disturbing images. According to the Washington Post, visitors to [John's brother] Tony Podesta's home in Falls Church "got an eye full when they walked into a bedroom ... hung with multiple color pictures by Katy Grannan, a photographer known for documentary style pictures of naked teenagers in their parents’ suburban homes." That just begins to scratch the surface of how strange some of the stuff is.
Note: Explore the retrieved Instagram account of James Alefantis and you will understand why this is so important. Read what may be the most level-headed exploration of Pizzagate. For undeniable evidence of powerful child prostitution rings leading to the highest levels of government, watch the suppressed Discovery Channel documentary "Conspiracy of Silence." An excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" also covers a pedophile ring in the UK which leads to the highest levels of government. See also news articles on sex abuse scandals.
For months, the CIA, with unprecedented clarity, overtly threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. In August, former acting CIA Director Michael Morell announced his endorsement of Clinton in the New York Times and claimed that “Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation.” The CIA and NSA director under George W. Bush, Gen. Michael Hayden, also endorsed Clinton and went to the Washington Post to warn, in the week before the election, that “Donald Trump really does sound a lot like Vladimir Putin.” It is not hard to understand why the CIA preferred Clinton over Trump. Clinton was critical of Obama for restraining the CIA’s proxy war in Syria and was eager to expand that war. Clinton clearly wanted a harder line than Obama took against the CIA’s long-standing foes in Moscow. In general, Clinton defended and intended to extend the decadeslong international military order on which the CIA and Pentagon’s preeminence depends, while Trump - through a still-uncertain mix of instability and extremist conviction - posed a threat to it. The claims about Russia’s interference in U.S. elections and ties to Trump should be fully investigated. But until then, assertions that are unaccompanied by evidence and disseminated anonymously should be treated with the utmost skepticism. Venerating the intelligence community ... and equating its dark and dirty assertions [with] Truth ... cannot possibly achieve any good and is already doing much harm.
Note: For an important viewpoint on the real complexities going on with recent reporting on Trump links to Russia, CIA involvement in Syria, and media manipulations, don't miss the above provocative article by Glenn Greenwald and this interview he gave to Fox News.
The C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the White House may all agree that Russia was behind the hacking that interfered with the election. But that was of no import to the website Breitbart News, which dismissed reports on the intelligence assessment as “left-wing fake news.” Until now, that term had been widely understood to refer to fabricated news accounts that are meant to spread virally online. But conservative cable and radio personalities ... have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda. In defining “fake news” so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information. Journalists who work to separate fact from fiction see a dangerous conflation of stories that turn out to be wrong because of a legitimate misunderstanding with those whose clear intention is to deceive. A report, shared more than a million times on social media, that the pope had endorsed Mr. Trump was undeniably false. But was it “fake news” to report on data models that showed Hillary Clinton with overwhelming odds of winning the presidency? Are opinion articles fake if they cherry-pick facts to draw disputable conclusions? “Fake news was a term specifically about people who purposely fabricated stories for clicks and revenue,” said David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, the myth-busting website. “Now it includes bad reporting, slanted journalism and outright propaganda. And I think we’re doing a disservice to lump all those things together.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable sources.
Yesterday afternoon a colleague forwarded me an article from the Daily Mail, asking me if it could possibly be true. The article in question is an expose on Snopes.com, the fact checking site used by journalists ... that Facebook recently partnered with to fact check news stories on its platform. The Daily Mail’s article makes a number of claims about the site’s principles and organization, [and questions] whether the site could possibly act as a trusted and neutral arbitrator of the “truth.” The Daily Mail appeared to be sourcing its claims from a series of emails and other documents from a court case. Neither Snopes nor its principles had issued any kind of statement ... disclaiming the story. When I reached out to David Mikkelson, the founder of Snopes, for comment, I fully expected him to respond with a lengthy email in Snopes’ trademark point-by-point format. It was with incredible surprise therefore that I received David’s one-sentence response which read in its entirety “I'd be happy to speak with you, but I can only address some aspects in general because I'm precluded by the terms of a binding settlement agreement from discussing details of my divorce.” This absolutely astounded me. Here was the one of the world’s most respected fact checking organizations, soon to be an ultimate arbitrator of “truth” on Facebook, saying that it cannot respond to a fact checking request because of a secrecy agreement. In short, when someone attempted to fact check the fact checker, the response was the equivalent of “it's secret.”
If you follow the news regularly - even if the stories you see are factual - you’re likely to overestimate the amount of violence in the world, underrate the performance of the government, and develop an unduly low opinion of the average American. For every problem you see reported in the news, there are almost always people responding - and some are doing pretty smart things. One encouraging pattern visible across the country is a gradual shift from reflexive punishment, which is usually counterproductive ... to harm reduction and treatment. This theme is explored in “Chasing Heroin,” a two-hour PBS Frontline documentary ... which illuminates the country’s heroin crisis. The film explains the public policies that shaped the crisis and reports on some alternatives to punishment, including drug courts, and a promising initiative in Seattle, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, which ... has been shown to markedly reduce criminality among addicts. The shift away from punishment can also be seen in schools, as they reduce the use of suspensions as the go-to discipline option, and turn to “restorative justice” practices, which have been shown to improve school cultures and improve graduation rates. The shift from punishment to treatment is supported by emerging insights from psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics. “The Crisis Within,” a four-part series ... explain how such “toxic stress” harms children, and explore ways that parents, educators and others can protect them.
Note: Explore a treasure trove of concise summaries of incredibly inspiring news articles which will inspire you to make a difference.
US intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in last month’s presidential election. Officials ... were told that intelligence agencies had found that individuals linked to the Russian government had provided WikiLeaks with thousands of confidential emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and others. The emails were steadily leaked via WikiLeaks ... revealing that DNC figures had colluded to harm the chances of [Clinton’s] nomination rival Bernie Sanders, and later giving examples of collusion between her campaign and figures in the media to blindside Trump in debates. The Kremlin has rejected the hacking accusations. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has previously said the DNC leaks were not linked to Russia. A ... senior official cited by the Washington Post conceded that intelligence agencies did not have specific proof that the Kremlin was “directing” the hackers. Craig Murray, the former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, who is a close associate of Assange, [said of] the CIA claims: “They are absolutely making it up ... I know who leaked them. “They are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things. “If ... the CIA’s statement refers to people who are known to be linked to the Russian state, they would have arrested someone. America has not been shy about arresting whistleblowers and it’s not been shy about extraditing hackers. They plainly have no knowledge whatsoever.”
Note: The Guardian newspaper's website removed all front page links to the above article just three hours after it was published. In its place, the Guardian ran a new article that was entirely supportive of what Wikileaks affiliate Craig Murray calls "the CIA’s blatant lie" about the leaked DNC emails. A short essay by WantToKnow.info team member Mark Bailey explores this apparent media manipulation.
A web of truthiness, post-truths and half-truths is replacing a once-shared goal of knowing the actual truth. Ever since Eddie Bernays changed his occupation from “advertising man” to “public relations expert” a century ago, the distortion and manipulation of the truth through covert campaigns has been a mainstay of public life. We make light of it by calling it “spin” instead of covert information warfare, but covert warfare it is, and the prize is the capture of friends and enemies alike in webs of disinformation. Words - stories, narratives - have been weaponized and collateral damage is extensive. The Russians excelled in the use of stolen material ... to affect the recent campaign. They have done the same with neighbor countries to undermine clarity about their intentions and actions. There is a NATO group, for example, that does nothing but peruse Russian propaganda to understand it, but it was discovered that ... they unconsciously absorbed false material as if it was true, because that’s what the mind does, it treats data as data, even when it knows the data is a fiction. So the NATO group has to be debriefed in order to recalibrate their maps of the real to ... well, to the real. But who debriefs the debriefers? Who debriefs us? The inability to discriminate between plausible and crazy plus the impossibility of knowing what’s real in this perpetual fog of information warfare causes anxiety and fear, which people counter with narratives to comfort the afflicted soul. Then it’s called “truth.”
The Iraqi army, backed by US-led airstrikes, is trying to capture east Mosul at the same time as the Syrian army and its Shia paramilitary allies are fighting their way into east Aleppo. An estimated 300 civilians have been killed in Aleppo by government artillery and bombing in the last fortnight, and in Mosul there are reportedly some 600 civilian dead over a month. Despite these similarities, the reporting by the international media of these two sieges is radically different. In Mosul, civilian loss of life is blamed on Isis, with its indiscriminate use of mortars and suicide bombers, while the Iraqi army and their air support are largely given a free pass. Contrast this with Western media descriptions of the inhuman savagery of President Assad’s forces indiscriminately slaughtering civilians. One factor making the sieges of east Aleppo and east Mosul so similar, and different, from past sieges in the Middle East ... is that there are no independent foreign journalists present. They are not there for the very good reason that Isis imprisons and beheads foreigners while Jabhat al-Nusra, until recently the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, is only a shade less bloodthirsty. Unsurprisingly, foreign journalists covering developments in east Aleppo and rebel-held areas of Syria overwhelmingly do so from Lebanon or Turkey. But, strangely enough, the same media organisations continue to put their trust in the veracity of information coming out of areas under the control of these same potential kidnappers and hostage takers.
Note: Read more on the media bias in news coverage of these wars in this article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on war and the manipulation of public perception.
In your Monday editorial, “Russia’s roulette,” you mentioned the “alarming evidence” of my government’s alleged involvement in the U.S. presidential elections. I do believe that it’s just nonsense, but if you insist that it’s true, then it would be interesting and necessary to see the evidence. I am sure that your respected newspaper meticulously worked through all the proofs before publishing the above-mentioned editorial. Unfortunately, nobody, including my government, despite numerous official requests, has never been presented with the onus probandi. The latter will not come from just repeating the unsubstantiated accusations over and over again or referring to unknown “independent researchers.” As far as I know, (National Security Agency Director) Adm. Michael Rogers in his recent interview with Wall Street Journal has never mentioned RUSSIA, while the official statement of Oct. 7 that has been repeatedly referred to, has never INDICTED Russia (“believing” and even being “confident” is something very different). Without evidence, in every state of law, with the United States being one of them, the principle of the presumption of innocence prevails. And accusations remain pure speculation. In this case, ill-intentioned.
Note: The above was written by Maxim Goncharov, a press attaché with the Russian Consulate in San Francisco. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing elections news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Elections Information Center.
The Washington Post on Thursday night promoted the claims of a new, shadowy organization that smears dozens of U.S. news sites that are critical of U.S. foreign policy as being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.” The article ... cites a report by an anonymous website calling itself PropOrNot, which claims that millions of Americans have been deceived this year in a massive Russian “misinformation campaign.” The group’s list of Russian disinformation outlets includes WikiLeaks and the Drudge Report, as well as Clinton-critical left-wing websites such as Truthout, Black Agenda Report, Truthdig, and Naked Capitalism, as well as libertarian venues such as Antiwar.com and the Ron Paul Institute. This Post report was [hailed] as an earth-shattering exposé. The individuals behind [PropOrNot] are publicly branding journalists and news outlets as tools of Russian propaganda - even calling on the FBI to investigate them for espionage - while cowardly hiding their own identities. The group promoted by the Post thus embodies the toxic essence of Joseph McCarthy, but without the courage to attach individual names to the blacklist. Echoing the Wisconsin senator, the group refers to its lengthy collection of sites spouting Russian propaganda as “The List.” The group eschews alternative media outlets ... and instead recommends that readers rely solely on establishment-friendly publications. That is because a big part of the group’s definition for “Russian propaganda outlet” is criticizing U.S. foreign policy.
One of Hillary Clinton’s closest aides is at the centre of the new FBI investigation into the Democrat candidate's emails after it emerged the evidence was discovered during an investigation into her husband. Anthony Weiner is being investigated over allegations that he sent sexually explicit text messages to a 15-year-old girl. New York prosecutor [Preet Bharara] issued a subpoena for Mr Weiner's mobile phone and other electronic records after the “sexting” came to light in September. It is believed this sparked the reopening of the closed [Clinton] investigation. Mr Weiner [is] the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, 40, Mrs Clinton’s closest aide. Mrs Clinton thought that the issue of her email server – which has been a millstone round her neck since 2012 – was finally settled, with the FBI deciding in July not to charge her with any criminal offence. Mrs Clinton was supposed to have handed over all evidence relating to her use of a private email server – something she instigated in 2009, when she was appointed secretary of state. The Weiner investigation shows she did not. Critics claim there was a security risk if restricted government business was sent over personal email servers. They also say Clinton could skirt around freedom of information requests and have sole control of what information was handed over to interested parties – such as the congressional committee investigating 2012’s attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.
Note: The use of private servers for sending and receiving sensitive official emails is not unprecedented. Between 2003 and 2009, the George W. Bush White House 'Lost' 22 Million emails, which helped cover up its lies about WMDs in Iraq. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and the manipulation of public perception.
Two large Sunni Arab urban centres – East Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq – are being besieged by pro-government forces strongly supported by foreign airpower. Yet the coverage is very different. In Libya ... opposition activists were able to gain control of the media narrative. The overthrow of Gaddafi rapidly reduced Libya to a violent and criminalised anarchy with little likelihood of recovery. In present day Syria and Iraq one can see much the same process at work. In East Aleppo, some 250,000 civilians and 8,000 insurgents, are under attack by the Syrian Army ... supported by the Russian and Syrian air forces. The bombing of East Aleppo has rightly caused worldwide revulsion and condemnation. But look at how differently the international media is treating a similar situation in Mosul, 300 miles east of Aleppo, where one million people and an estimated 5,000 Isis fighters are being encircled by the Iraqi army ... with massive support from a US-led air campaign. In the case of Mosul, unlike Aleppo, the defenders are to blame for endangering civilians by using them as human shields and preventing them leaving. The extreme bias shown in foreign media coverage of similar events in Iraq and Syria will be a rewarding subject for PhDs students looking at the uses and abuses of propaganda down the ages. Nothing much has changed since 2003 when the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein had persuaded foreign governments and media alike that the invading American and British armies would be greeted with rapture by the Iraqi people.
Two documentary film-makers are facing decades in prison for recording US oil pipeline protests, with serious felony charges that first amendment advocates say are part of a growing number of attacks on freedom of the press. The controversial prosecutions of Deia Schlosberg and Lindsey Grayzel are moving forward after a judge in North Dakota rejected “riot” charges filed against Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman for her high-profile reporting at the Dakota Access pipeline protests. But authorities in other parts of North Dakota and in Washington state have continued to target other film-makers over their recent reporting on similar demonstrations. Schlosberg, a New York-based film-maker, is facing three felony conspiracy charges for filming protesters on 11 October at a TransCanada Keystone Pipeline site in Pembina County in North Dakota. The 36-year-old ... could face 45 years in prison. In Goodman’s case, a judge forced prosecutors to drop a serious “riot” charge. But prosecutors and sheriff’s officials said they may continue to pursue other charges against the critically acclaimed journalist. In Schlosberg’s charges, North Dakota prosecutors have alleged that she was part of a conspiracy, claiming she traveled with protesters “with the objective of diverting the flow of oil”. “I was surprised at the conspiracy charges. I never thought that would ever happen,” her attorney Robert Woods told the Guardian. “All she was doing was her job of being a journalist and covering the story.”
US journalist Amy Goodman is facing charges of participating in a "riot" after filming Native American-led protests over an oil pipeline in North Dakota. The Democracy Now! reporter said she would surrender to authorities on Monday in response to the charge. District Judge John Grinsteiner will decide whether there is sufficient evidence to support the riot charge. Ms Goodman filmed the crackdown on protesters by authorities last month. "I wasn't trespassing, I wasn't engaging in a riot, I was doing my job as a journalist by covering a violent attack on Native American protesters," Ms Goodman said. The charge relates to her Democracy Now! coverage of the protests against the Dakota Access pipeline on 3 September. Earlier this month US actress Shailene Woodley was arrested at a construction site for broadcasting the North Dakota protests on Facebook. The video by the Divergent star was viewed more than 2.4 million times on social media within hours of being posted. The Dakota Access oil pipeline project, which will cross four states, has drawn huge protests. Native Americans have halted its construction in North Dakota, saying it will desecrate sacred land and damage the environment.
Note: A judge later rejected the riot charge for Goodman, but the fact that she was even accused speaks volumes. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the erosion of civil liberties.
A US navy destroyer fired a barrage of cruise missiles at three radar sites controlled by the rebel Houthi movement in Yemen. This attack marked the first time the US has fought the rebels directly in Yemen’s devastating civil war. The Pentagon justified this attack as retaliation. Last week, missiles were fired on two separate occasions at another navy destroyer off of Yemen’s southern coast. Those missiles fell harmlessly into the water, but they were enough of a provocation that the navy responded with its own bombardment. Immediately prior to those incidents, on Saturday 8 October, a 500lb laser-guided US-made bomb was dropped on a funeral procession by the US-sponsored Saudi-led coalition fighting the rebels. This bomb killed more than 140 people, mostly civilians, and wounded more than 525 people. Human Rights Watch called the incident “an apparent war crime”. The US ... has sold the Saudis $110bn worth of arms since President Obama assumed office. The US also supplies the Saudis with necessary intelligence and logistics to prosecute its war. The situation in Yemen is already catastrophic and largely out of view. Since the conflict began 18 months ago, more than 6,800 people have been killed. Both rebels and the regime have committed atrocities, though most of the dead are civilians and most have been killed by Saudi-led airstrikes. Almost 14.4 million people are now “food insecure”, according to the UN’s World Food Program, and 2.8 million people have been displaced.
Note: Read a two-page summary of a highly decorated US general's book which exposes how war is a racket meant to benefit the big bankers and power elite. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
The furore over the sexual antics of Donald Trump is preventing much attention being given to the latest batch of leaked emails to and from Hillary Clinton. Most fascinating of these is [a] memo, dated 17 August 2014. There is no ambivalence about who is backing Isis. The memo says: “We need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to Isis and other radical groups in the region.” After 9/11, the US refused to confront these traditional Sunni allies and thereby ensured that the “War on Terror” would fail decisively; 15 years later, al-Qaeda in its different guises is much stronger than it used to be because shadowy state sponsors, without whom it could not have survived, were given a free pass. It is not as if Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State ... did not know what was happening. An earlier WikiLeaks release of a State Department cable sent under her name in December 2009 states that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan].” But Saudi complicity with these movements never became a central political issue in the US. Why not? The US did not think it was in its interests to cut its traditional Sunni allies loose and put a great deal of resources into making sure that this did not happen. They brought on side compliant journalists, academics and politicians willing to give overt or covert support to Saudi positions.
Note: Read a two-page summary of a highly decorated US general's book which exposes how war is a racket meant to benefit the big bankers and power elite. Then check out a very well-researched essay describing how the war on terror is a fraud. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
A former contractor for a UK-based public relations firm says that the Pentagon paid more than half a billion dollars for the production and dissemination of fake Al-Qaeda videos that portrayed the insurgent group in a negative light. The PR firm, Bell Pottinger, worked alongside top US military officials at Camp Victory in Baghdad at the height of the Iraq War. The agency was tasked with crafting TV segments in the style of unbiased Arabic news reports, videos of Al-Qaeda bombings that appeared to be filmed by insurgents, and anti-insurgent commercials. Those who watched the videos could be tracked by US forces. Bell Pottinger ... could have earned as much as $120m from the US in 2006. Former video editor Martin Wells, who worked on the IOTF contract with Bell Pottinger, said they were given very specific instructions on how to produce the fake Al-Qaeda propaganda films. US Marines would then take CDs containing the videos while on patrol, then plant them at sites during raids. “If they’re raiding a house and they’re going to make a mess of it looking for stuff anyway, they’d just drop an odd CD there,” he said. The CDs were encoded to open the videos on RealPlayer software that connects to the Internet when it runs. It would issue an IP address that could then be tracked by US intelligence. The programmes produced by Bell Pottinger would move up the chain of command ... and could sometimes go as high up as the White House for approval.
Note: Read more about the fake "Al Qaeda" videos produced and distributed for the Pentagon. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on military corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
It's rare to get a glimpse behind the curtain of pharmaceutical marketing. CBC [has] learned about a stealth marketing campaign involving a drug company, a well-known Canadian comedian, a doctor and a public relations firm. "Cathy Jones of This Hour Has 22 Minutes is on a mission to get women to start talking about female sexual health after menopause - and particularly, their vaginas," wrote PR company GCI Group in a press release, offering to arrange an interview. But nowhere did it say this "mission" was initiated and sponsored by Novo Nordisk Canada Inc., which makes a vaginal hormone pill. Nor did GCI's release specify that Jones was paid to give media interviews about vaginal atrophy. When CBC asked if there was a drug company involved, the PR firm said yes, Novo Nordisk, but that was to be kept secret. "No parties including GCI want any mention of the drug or drug company," CBC was told. "It's an unbranded campaign." In other words, it's marketing that looks like any other lifestyle article in news. This is what it looks like on the Globe and Mail's website. There was originally no mention of Novo Nordisk sponsoring the campaign. Is it OK for a drug company, behind a curtain, to generate news about a condition and then encourage women to see their doctor? "No, it is not OK," says Dr. Jerilynn Prior [with] the University of British Columbia. "It is misrepresenting the marketing purpose behind it." This is a rare public example of something that happens all the time.
In the past few days a number of politicians and former generals have criticised the so-called hounding of British soldiers by what they claim are just money-grabbing lawyers launching ill-founded cases into alleged wartime abuse. Criticising the work of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat), Tim Collins, the retired colonel who led British troops in Iraq, said the allegations were being made by “parasitic lawyers”. Theresa May has said she wants to end the “industry” of vexatious claims. And Tony Blair, who launched the military action in Iraq and Afghanistan, said: “I am very sorry that our soldiers and their families have been put through this ordeal.” The reality, of course, is somewhat different. The Ministry of Defence has already paid out Ł20m in compensation to victims of abuse in Iraq. Anyone who has been involved in litigation with the MoD knows that it will pay up only if a case is overwhelming or the ministry wants to cover something up. The complaints before the Ihat are not just from lawyers. They are also from serving and former members of the armed forces with no financial interest in the outcome. Even more disturbing, many of these investigations may lead to the door of the MoD itself. Many of the allegations concern physical, sexual and religious abuse during interrogation. The conduct appears systematic, and ... there were secret detention facilities in the UK area of operations which appear to have bypassed prisoner of war facilities. If this is correct, it is in violation of the Geneva conventions.
Note: The Chilcot inquiry recently concluded that Tony Blair deliberately lied to MPs and the public on Iraq to commit British troops to the US-led invasion in 2003. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about war corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
It was a faustian bargain—and it certainly made editors at National Public Radio squirm. The deal was this: NPR, along with a select group of media outlets, would get a briefing about an upcoming announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a day before anyone else. But in exchange for the scoop, NPR would have to abandon its reportorial independence. The FDA would dictate whom NPR's reporter could and couldn't interview. “My editors are uncomfortable with the condition that we cannot seek reaction,” NPR reporter Rob Stein wrote back to the government officials offering the deal. Stein asked for a little bit of leeway to do some independent reporting but was turned down flat. Take the deal or leave it. NPR took the deal – along with reporters from more than a dozen other top-tier media organizations, including CBS, NBC, CNN, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. This kind of deal offered by the FDA - known as a close-hold embargo - is an increasingly important tool used by scientific and government agencies to control the behavior of the science press. By using close-hold embargoes and other methods, the FDA, like other sources of scientific information, are gaining control of journalists who are supposed to keep an eye on those institutions. The watchdogs are being turned into lapdogs. It is hard to tell when a close-hold embargo is afoot because, by its very nature, it is a secret.
Note: And to see how the media is censored by big money and a corrupt judicial system, watch this incredible video of two crack reporters who had their major investigation into a public health threat shut down. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in science and the manipulation of public perception.
The Pentagon gave a controversial U.K. PR firm over half a billion dollars to run a top secret propaganda program in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism can reveal. Bell Pottinger’s output included short TV segments made in the style of Arabic news networks and fake insurgent videos which could be used to track the people who watched them, according to a former employee. The agency’s staff worked alongside high-ranking U.S. military officers in their Baghdad Camp Victory headquarters. Bell Pottinger reported to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the National Security Council on its work in Iraq. In the first media interview any Bell Pottinger employee has given about the work for the U.S. military in Iraq, video editor Martin Wells told the Bureau his time in Camp Victory was “shocking, eye-opening, life-changing.” The firm’s output was signed off by former General David Petraeus - then commander of the coalition forces in Iraq - and on occasion by the White House, he said. Bell Pottinger’s work in Iraq was a huge media operation which cost over a hundred million dollars a year on average. The ... most sensitive program described by Wells was the production of fake al Qaeda propaganda films. U.S. marines would take the CDs on patrol and drop them in the chaos when they raided targets. Wells explained how the team embedded a code into the CDs which linked to a Google Analytics account, giving a list of IP addresses where the CDs had been played.
Note: So the Pentagon made propaganda films to recruit for Al Qaeda, bombed a place upsetting the people there, then seeded these films to try to capture anyone who was interested in the propaganda they spread. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about war corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
On Sept. 10, 2001, George Carlin, the greatest political comic in history if measured only by stand-up specials, recorded a bracing hour of social commentary for his new HBO special. The next day, he shelved it. It wasn’t only the title, “I Kinda Like It When a Lotta People Die,” that seemed in bad taste after nearly 3,000 people were killed a day later in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Mr. Carlin also told a joke about a fart so potent it blew up an airplane. “You know who gets blamed? Osama bin Laden,” Mr. Carlin joked. “The F.B.I. is looking for explosives. They should be looking for minute traces of rice and bok choy.” Fifteen years later, his lost special is finally being released. It’s a polished hour of new jokes. Mr. Carlin, who died in 2008, had always been a left-leaning comic whose skepticism of government would be right at home with the Tea Party. In a 1999 special, he even ridiculed airport security as a pointless charade, saying Americans are “always willing to trade away a little of their freedom” in exchange for “the illusion of security.” But like so many other people, he was transformed by Sept. 11. He released an entirely new special only two months after the attack - “Complaints and Grievances” - in which he talks more about survival than freedom, setting up one premise by saying that dire events call for us to cooperate with “unsavory people” like George W. Bush. Mr. Carlin’s more tentative attitude toward the government is a reminder of the anxiety about even doing comedy after Sept. 11.
Note: Carlin's recorded comedy show will be publicly released on September 16. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing 9/11 news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our 9/11 Information Center.
Former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros claims in an explosive new lawsuit that disgraced ex-network chairman Roger Ailes sexually harassed her and that high-ranking executives fostered a newsroom culture in which abusive behavior flourished. Fox News masquerades as defender of traditional family values, but behind the scenes, it operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult, steeped in intimidation, indecency and misogyny, the suit reads. Ailes was the primary culprit, according to the suit, but his actions were condoned by his most senior lieutenants who engaged in a concerted effort to silence Tantaros by threats, humiliation, and retaliation. Tantaros' suit is the second leveled against Ailes, but the first to name the network itself and several current executives as co-defendants. Last month, former Fox & Friends host Gretchen Carlson opened the floodgates of sexual harassment accusations against Ailes, a legendary TV executive who built and ran Fox News for two decades after serving as a leading Republican operative and former adviser to three presidents. Ailes is reportedly now advising Republican nominee Donald Trump. Less than two weeks after Carlson made her claims, Ailes stepped down as Fox News chairman. In the suit, Tantaros claimed that Fox News' ... public relations department leaked unflattering information about her, didn't adequately promote her, refused legitimate media requests, and used 'sock puppet' social media accounts to post or direct negative comments about her.
Note: For more on this, see this informative Vanity Fair article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
WikiLeaks published the DNC’s hacked emails. There has been a flurry of accusations – including from the Hillary Clinton campaign – that Russian president Vladimir Putin orchestrated both the hack and the leak, in an attempt to help Donald Trump win the presidency. It’s amazing how quickly the media are willing to forgo any skepticism and jump to conspiracy-tinged conclusions where Putin is involved. There is some circumstantial evidence that the hack may have originated in Russia, but there are also many questions that haven’t been resolved. As Adam Johnson detailed, when you look closely, the evidence is shoddy and often contradictory. The bulk of the “evidence” has come from the statements of cybersecurity firms FireEye and Crowdstrike, both of which have lucrative contracts with the US government. As FireEye’s CEO once made clear, his company has a financial stake in nation-state hacking tensions. As Edward Snowden pointed out ... with an accompanying NSA document, “Our government specifically authorized the hacking of political parties.” The US has also considered hacking and then releasing sensitive and embarrassing information in China in retaliation for cybersecurity attacks, as the New York Times reported last year. If the US wants to place blame at the feet of the Russians, they should do so transparently and in public, without leaving it to anonymous officials and cybersecurity firms to make claims without providing hard evidence.
The images that shaped public imagination of the American Indian - 19th and early 20th century photographs - were mostly fiction. Often, they were sentimentalized portrayals of what Edward S. Curtis, the most successful of all who trained their cameras on the subject, called “the vanishing race.” The ... pictures glossed over attitudes and policies that today are seen as cruelly neglectful, if not genocidal. Curtis himself, funded with J.P. Morgan money to produce some 40,000 photographic documents for his magnificent 20-volume “The North American Indian,” is known to have choreographed ceremonies and dances, phonied up costumes, retouched negatives to remove all signs of modernity; he paid reservation residents to play the part of native nobility. Other photographers purported to show the fearsomeness of the American Indian warrior. Two ... intensely engaging exhibitions newly opened at the California Historical Society present images of Northern California and southern Oregon’s Modoc tribe. “Sensationalist Portrayals of the Modoc War, 1872-73” examines reports of a sad chapter of American history, when a band of about 60 Indian fighters held off 600 U.S. Army troops. “Native Portraits: Contemporary Tintypes by Ed Drew” features Drew’s revival of a 19th century photographic process to depict present-day Modocs as they choose to be seen. Side by side, the two shows add up to a quiet rebuke of photography’s cravenly racist portrayal of the first Americans.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles.
The CIA has a long history of “spooking the news,” dating back to its earliest days when the legendary spymaster Allen Dulles and his top staff drank and dined regularly with the press elite of New York and Washington, and the agency boasted hundreds of U.S. and foreign journalists as paid and unpaid assets. In 1977, after this systematic media manipulation was publicly exposed by congressional investigations, the CIA created an Office of Public Affairs that was tasked with guiding press coverage of intelligence matters. The intelligence empire’s efforts to manufacture the truth and mold public opinion are more vast and varied than ever before. One of its foremost assets? Hollywood. The agency has established a very active spin machine in the heart of the entertainment capital, which works strenuously to make sure the cloak-and-dagger world is presented in heroic terms. Since the mid-1990s, but especially after 9/11, American screenwriters, directors, and producers have traded positive portrayal of the spy profession in film or television projects for ... favors at CIA headquarters. As Hollywood became increasingly embedded with Langley ... CIA employees often saw their public-affairs colleagues giving various celebrities personalized tours of the headquarters. “I can’t tell you how many times this happened,” recalled the former CIA officer John Kiriakou. There’s a revolving door between the CIA and Hollywood.
Note: Read how the Pentagon controls the script of hundreds of movies, some quite well known. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Secret FBI rules allow agents to obtain journalists’ phone records with approval from two internal officials - far less oversight than under normal judicial procedures. The classified rules ... govern the FBI’s use of national security letters, which allow the bureau to obtain information about journalists’ calls without going to a judge or informing the news organization being targeted. Obtaining a journalist’s records with a national security letter (or NSL) requires the signoff of the FBI’s general counsel and the executive assistant director of the bureau’s National Security Branch. The Obama administration has come under criticism for bringing a record number of leak prosecutions and aggressively targeting journalists in the process. In 2013, after it came out that the Justice Department had secretly seized records from phone lines at the Associated Press and surveilled ... reporter James Rosen, then-Attorney General Eric Holder tightened the rules. The FBI could not label reporters as co-conspirators in order to try to identify their sources - as had happened with Rosen - and it became more difficult to get journalists’ phone records without notifying the news organization first. Yet these changes did not apply to NSLs. Those are governed by a separate set of rules. The FBI issues thousands of NSLs each year, including nearly 13,000 in 2015. Over the years, a series of Inspector General reports found significant problems with their use, yet the FBI is currently pushing to expand the types of information it can demand with an NSL.
Note: The aggressive pursuit of leaks and journalists that report them led BBC to recently ask: "Is the US government at war with whistleblowers?" Read more about the FBI's use of secret National Security Letters. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation and the disappearance of privacy.
The fast rise of Sen. Elizabeth Warren within the Democratic Party has coincided with another phenomenon: the continual use by elite-media journalists of anonymous sources in articles that either criticize Warren directly or warn other politicians about the dangers of embracing ... the policies she advocates. That journalistic trend manifested itself most recently on Monday, in a piece by Ben White in Politico that quoted fully five anonymous sources - including “one top Democratic donor,” “one moderate Washington Democrat” and “one prominent hedge fund manager” - to the effect that Hillary Clinton would be making a major misstep by selecting Warren as her running mate. Warren is an expert in bankruptcy and predatory lending and a leading critic of the financial industry. Is the “top Democratic donor” Politico quoted a self-interested executive at Citigroup or Goldman Sachs fearful that Warren would influence policy decisions? We’ll never know. Journalists in this way let powerful individuals take potshots without any fear of accountability and without the reader being able to discern what conflicts of interest might be involved. And when it comes to Warren in particular, pretty much any “administration official” or “political strategist” interested in advancing a narrative gets the anonymous treatment. The Intercept in short order compiled a list of 15 other articles and political newsletters over the last few years of the anonymously sourced, anti-Warren genre.
Note: The complete list of examples of anti-Warren propaganda articles is available at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles.
The Associated Press - on a day when nobody voted - surprised everyone by abruptly declaring the Democratic Party primary over and Hillary Clinton the victor. The decree, issued the night before the California primary in which polls show Clinton and Bernie Sanders in a very close race, was based on the media organization’s survey of “superdelegates”: the Democratic Party’s 720 insiders, corporate donors, and officials whose votes for the presidential nominee count the same as the actually elected delegates. AP claims that superdelegates who had not previously announced their intentions privately told AP reporters that they intend to vote for Clinton, bringing her over the threshold. AP is concealing the identity of the decisive superdelegates who said this. Although the Sanders campaign rejected the validity of AP’s declaration - on the ground that the superdelegates do not vote until the convention and he intends to try to persuade them to vote for him - most major media outlets ... declared Clinton the winner. This is the perfect symbolic ending to the Democratic Party primary: The nomination is consecrated by a media organization, on a day when nobody voted, based on secret discussions with anonymous establishment insiders and donors whose identities the media organization - incredibly - conceals. For a party run by insiders and funded by corporate interests, it’s only fitting that its nomination process ends with such an ignominious, awkward, and undemocratic sputter.
Corey Feldman, who has opened up in the past about being molested by multiple Hollywood bigwigs, said he believes the problem of producer pedophiles is bigger today in age of social media. He’s also said one of his abusers is “still prominently in the business today.” Gabe Hoffman is the executive producer of “An Open Secret,” a 2015 documentary that investigated child molesters in Hollywood, and he echoed Feldman’s sentiments. "Young people, both boys and girls looking to work in Hollywood are at great risk from sexual predators,” he [said]. Psychologist Dr. Judith Zackson concurred. “The Internet is becoming an increasingly dangerous place for young, vulnerable stars,” she said. “Internet profiles provide an anonymous platform for pedophiles to study their victim’s personal information and patterns to assist in their ‘grooming’ process - pedophiles develop a relationship with their victims through enticing dialogue filled with promises that promote the young stars dream.” Pop culture expert Cate Meighan said the Internet lets abusers reach out to victims more easily. “Back in the ‘80s it really was quite different in that these people had to wait until child stars were brought into their circle to have access to them,” she said. “Now, they have the ability to hand pick potential targets and probably at a much younger age too.” Feldman has been vocal in the past regarding pedophilia in Hollywood. In 2011, he said it was “the number one problem in Hollywood” claiming it to be “the big secret” plaguing the industry.
Note: Don't miss the incredible film "An Open Secret" which follows five boys and their families who were gradually ensnared by a secret Hollywood pedophile ring which ruins their lives. It is available for free viewing on this webpage. The entire "Secret Societies in Hollywood" series is available here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
Morley Safer, who was a correspondent on CBS’s 60 Minutes from 1970 until just last week, died Thursday at age 84. In 1965, Safer was sent to Vietnam by CBS. That August he filed a famous report showing American soldiers burning down a Vietnamese village. The next year, he wrote a newspaper column about a visit to Saigon by Arthur Sylvester, the ... head of all the U.S. military’s PR. Sylvester, [who] had arranged to speak with reporters for U.S. outlets, [said] that American correspondents had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. A network television correspondent said, “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be the handmaidens of government.” “That’s exactly what I expect,” came the reply. An agency man raised the problem [of] the credibility of American officials. [Sylvester], the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, [responded]: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? Stupid.” A Democratic senator from Indiana, entered Safer’s article into the Congressional Record, and ... a Republican representative from Missouri called for Sylvester to resign. For its part, the Pentagon told CBS executives: “Unless you get Safer out of there, he’s liable to end up with a bullet in his back.” Moreover, Sylvester absolutely meant what he said [to] the journalists in Saigon. [By that time], he’d already told some of the key U.S. government lies about the Cuban missile crisis.
Would you read a story if this was the headline: "New study raises questions about an experimental treatment that might not work and won't be ready for a long time." That description would apply to most medical studies that make the news but would be unlikely to generate the clicks, taps, likes and shares that propel a story through cyberspace and social media. What gets clicks? Words like "breakthrough," "groundbreaking," "game changer" and "lifesaver." Since the 1970s, the use of positive words in scientific abstracts increased by 880 per cent, according to a study last December in the British Medical Journal. And now, the world's stem cell scientists have been told to stop the hype. The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) issued new guidelines last week that urge scientists to dial back their enthusiasm when talking publicly about their research. Because people are getting hurt. Last December, the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. issued a warning letter to a U.S.-based company offering stem cell therapies for a range of diseases, including autism, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease. And a U.K. newspaper claims its undercover investigation lead to the closure of a controversial clinic in Germany where a child died after having stem cells injected into his brain. "There is ... an industry already out there that is marketing unproven therapies directly to patients," said George Daley, a member of the ISSCR and a professor at Harvard Medical School. "It is part of the concern that has raised the alarm."
Note: According to Richard Horton, chief editor of The Lancet, up to half of all science journal claims may be untrue. Read also the revealing comments of Marcia Angell, former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, on the massive corruption she found in the health industry. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing science corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Rick Friday has been giving farmers a voice and a laugh every Friday for two decades through his cartoons in Farm News. Now the long-time Iowa farm cartoonist [says] he has been fired. Friday announced ... that his job was over after 21 years in a Facebook post that has since gone viral: "I am no longer the Editorial Cartoonist for Farm News due to the attached cartoon which was published yesterday. Apparently a large company affiliated with one of the corporations mentioned in the cartoon was insulted and cancelled their advertisement with the paper, thus, resulting in the reprimand of my editor and cancellation of its Friday cartoons after ... over 1,090 published cartoons to over 24,000 households per week in 33 counties of Iowa. "I did my research and only submitted the facts in my cartoon. The cartoon features two farmers talking about farming profits. The first says, "I wish there was more profit in farming." The second farm[er] answers, "There is. In year 2015 the CEOs of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer and John Deere combined made more money than 2,129 Iowa farmers." Friday received an email from his editor at Farm News cutting off their relationship a day after the cartoon was published. Friday’s editor said a seed dealer pulled their advertisements with Farm News as a result of the cartoon, and others working at the paper disagreed with the jokes made about the agriculture corporations.
A protest movement calling on Congress to “end the corruption of big money in our politics” and “ensure free and fair elections,” converged on Capitol Hill on Monday, staging a nonviolent sit-in that resulted in over 400 arrests. While the action, dubbed #DemocracySpring, garnered wide coverage on social media and over 136,000 tweets, cable news programs found little time to cover the political protests. During daytime and afternoon news segments, CNN did not devote any coverage to the actions. MSNBC mentioned the protests for approximately 12 seconds, while Fox News mentioned the arrests and discussed the protests for about 17 seconds. Hosts on both networks misrepresented the protests. The focus on systemic political corruption ... during the rally yesterday was ignored. The protests were widely covered by CSPAN, Al Jazeera, and NPR, among other outlets. But cable news programs, which specialize in American political news, were another story. The parent companies of cable news networks are closely tied to the Washington establishment being challenged by protesters. Comcast, parent company of MSNBC, is among the biggest spenders on political lobbying. Broadcasting companies have lobbied in recent years against reforms that would diminish the role of big money in election campaigns largely because the bulk of campaign funds are spent on television advertisements. [An] estimated ... $4.4 billion [will] be spent on television ads during the election cycle this year.
Mercenary hackers helped Enrique Peńa Nieto win Mexico’s 2012 presidential election, according to an imprisoned Colombian hacker who says he was involved. Andrés Sepúlveda ... claimed he had also helped to manipulate elections in nine countries across Latin America by stealing data, installing malware and creating fake waves of enthusiasm and derision on social media. In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, the Colombian – who is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence - boasted of his ability to hack into campaign networks and manipulate opinion. “My job was to do actions of dirty war and psychological operations, black propaganda, rumours – the whole dark side of politics that nobody knows exists but everyone can see,” the 31-year-old told Bloomberg. Although he was well paid for his work, Sepúlveda said his primary motive was political. He supported right and centre-right candidates against what he called “dictatorships and socialists governments”. In Mexico ... he reportedly had a $600,000 budget, [and] used a “virtual army” of fake Twitter accounts to direct public debate. “When I realized that people believe what the internet says more than reality, I discovered that I had the power to make people believe almost anything,” he told Bloomberg. To varying degrees, he said he applied similar tactics in other elections over an eight-year period in in Venezuela, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, El Salvador, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala. Sepúlveda is now in jail for hacking crimes related to Colombia’s 2014 presidential election.
Note: Read an excellent article on how electronic voting machines are likely being manipulated in the 2016 US elections. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about elections corruption and the manipulation of public opinion.
One week before the Brussels terrorist attacks, a Saudi-led coalition bombed a market in Mastaba, Yemen. Although more people died in Mastaba than in Brussels - 106 versus 34 - the media and the international community in general ignored that earlier atrocity, as they've ignored most of the 150 indiscriminate aerial attacks reported by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch in the last year. The West is actually supporting - by way of arms and military assistance - this all-but-invisible war. The Saudis are violating international law as they carry out attacks [on] schools, hospitals, markets and homes, [which] account for 60% of the 3,200 civilians killed in the conflict. The U.S. and Britain are ... the lead providers of the Saudi coalition's arsenal. Saudi Arabia has ... contracted for at least $20 billion in weapons from the U.S. and almost $4.3 billion in weapons from Britain in 2015. Many human rights and humanitarian organizations, as well as the European Parliament, have called for an embargo on arms sales to Saudi Arabia. What remains unknown is the exact nature of the U.S. and British military role in the Saudi campaign. The U.S. Defense Department has vaguely stated that it is providing “targeting assistance,” which as a matter of law means it is liable for unlawful strikes in which it takes part. Member states of the U.N. Human Rights Council attempted to pursue ... an investigation [into unlawful airstrikes in Yemen], but the Saudi-U.S.-Britain trifecta effectively quashed it.
Note: In one of the largest arms deal ever, the sale of $60 billion worth of US fighter jets and attack helicopters to Saudi Arabia quietly proceeded in 2010 with State Department approval. An International Business Times investigation shows that $10 Million in Clinton Foundation donations coincided with a 97% increase in arms export authorizations to Saudi Arabia from 2006-2012. The underlying reason for this war and most wars is the huge profits that are made, as clearly revealed by a top US general in his highly revealing book "War is a Racket."
A disgraced former British surgeon’s new documentary about the discredited link between autism and childhood vaccination has put Robert De Niro at the centre of a medical row that threatens the reputation of his prestigious film festival in New York. De Niro, the father of an autistic child and co-founder of the Tribeca film festival, is standing by the decision to premiere Vaxxed: from Cover-Up to Catastrophe, which has been directed by the controversial Andrew Wakefield. The trailer for Wakefield’s film opens with ominous music as the words “Are our children safe?” appear through a spiral of billowing smoke seeping from a syringe. A key element of the documentary, the trailer claims, will be the testimony of a whistleblower from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US public health body, who is to allege fraud inside an organisation that “knew that vaccines were actually causing autism”. De Niro and his wife, Grace Hightower, issued a statement on Friday, defending the screening. “Grace and I have a child with autism and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined. In the 15 years since the Tribeca film festival was founded, I have never asked for a film to be screened or gotten involved in the programming. “However this is very personal to me and my family and I want there to be a discussion, which is why we will be screening Vaxxed.
Note: After being subjected to intense pressure, De Niro sadly backed down and pulled this documentary from the festival, as reported in this New York Times article. For more on how this film and how De Niro was pressured see this webpage. Then watch a member of US Congress testify in the Congressional record on major cover-up regarding the relationship between autism and the MMR vaccine. Still more here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing vaccine controversy news articles from reliable major media sources.
For days now, American cable news has broadcast non-stop coverage of the horrific attack in Brussels. This type of coverage is accorded only to Western victims of violence, but almost never to the non-Western victims of the West’s own violence. A little more than a week ago ... fighter jets from a Saudi-led (U.S.– and U.K.-supported) coalition bombed a market in Mastaba, in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah. The latest count indicates that about 120 people were killed, including more than 20 children, and 80 were wounded in the strikes. Over the past several years, the U.S. has launched hideous civilian-slaughtering strikes in Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and Iraq. You’ll almost never hear any of those victims’ names on CNN, NPR, or most other large U.S. media outlets. No famous American TV correspondents will be sent to the places where those people have their lives ended by the bombs of the U.S. and its allies. At most, you’ll hear small, clinical news stories briefly and coldly describing what happened - usually accompanied by a justifying claim from U.S. officials, uncritically conveyed, about why the bombing was noble - but, even in those rare cases where such attacks are covered at all, everything will be avoided that would cause you to have any visceral or emotional connection to the victims. You’ll never know anything about them - not even their names ... and will therefore have no ability to feel anything for them. As a result, their existence will barely register. That’s by design.
The Rockefeller Family Fund, a charity that supports causes related to the environment, economic justice and other issues, is liquidating its investments in fossil fuel companies, including Exxon Mobil. "While the global community works to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, it makes little sense - financially or ethically - to continue holding investments in these companies," the fund said. In announcing its decision, the Rockefeller fund attacked Exxon for what it called the company's "morally reprehensible conduct," alluding to allegations that the company has hidden evidence that fossil fuels contribute to climate change. "Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change's march, while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change's destructive consequences and track new exploration opportunities as the Arctic's ice receded," the fund said. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is said to have launched an investigation last fall into whether Exxon misled the public and investors about ... climate risks. California Attorney General Kamala Harris is also reportedly looking into whether Exxon lied about climate change. The probes followed a report by InsideClimate News ... claiming that Exxon sought to undermine scientific evidence that pointed to the growing threat of climate change.
Note: The Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced its fossil fuel divestment in 2014. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on climate change and the corruption of science from reliable major media sources.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is adding more American lobbyists to its payroll by hiring BGR Government Affairs. The contract provides BGR with $500,000 annually to assist with U.S. media outreach for the Center for Studies and Media Affairs at the Saudi Royal Court, a government entity. The retainer includes the services of Jeffrey Birnbaum, a former Washington Post reporter who once covered the lobbying industry and now works as a lobbyist, as well as Ed Rogers, a former Reagan administration official who now lobbies and writes a column for the Post. The Saudi government has brought on a dizzying array of American public relations experts and lobbyists to help spin reporters and influence policymakers, [including] the Podesta Group, a lobbying firm run by a top fundraiser for the Hillary Clinton campaign, [and] Norm Coleman, the former GOP senator who leads a major Republican Super PAC. The money spent on lobbying has been used to counter growing controversies surrounding the kingdom. When Nimr al-Nimr, a peaceful government critic, was executed in January, the Podesta Group helped the regime shape media coverage ... to smear Nimr as a “terrorist.” Other American consultants working for the Saudi Embassy used social media and other efforts to attack Nimr and justify the execution. The kingdom has relied on its media and lobbying apparatus to combat criticism of its human rights record, including the growing rate of executions and beheadings.
Note: Democracy for sale? Read more about Saudi Arabia's influential charm offensive. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the manipulation of public opinion.
News that Ketchum Inc., the public relations firm leading the charge to promote chemical-dependent GMO agriculture, is launching a new “specialty group” to capture a slice of the growing organic food market caught many food industry players by surprise last week. Ketchum’s new branch, called “Cultivate,” is pitching itself to “help purpose-driven brands with a natural, organic, and sustainable focus.” The news comes as Ketchum remains a key player in PR efforts to dampen demand for organic foods, spinning messages that tell consumers organics are over-priced and over-hyped. In 2013, Monsanto hired Ketchum’s parent company, Omnicom, to “reshape” its reputation amid fierce opposition to GMOs, according to the Holmes Report. Ketchum now works closely with Monsanto and the agrichemical industry on its massively funded PR efforts to promote genetically engineered food and crops, stop GMO labeling, downplay concerns about pesticides, counteract consumer advocates and convince consumers that organic food is no different from conventional food. A closer look at Ketchum’s past and current activities turns up more reasons that purpose-driven organic and natural food companies might want to steer clear of Ketchum’s “Cultivate” branch. Emails from the late 1990s indicate that Ketchum was involved in espionage against nonprofit groups that were raising concerns about GMOs. Ketchum ... has worked to undermine consumer advocates and the organic foods industry. It would be unwise for organic companies to hire the PR firm.
It’s still up for debate whether or not the media “created” Donald Trump - or, at least, the GOP presidential frontrunner version of him - but there is no doubt the billionaire reality TV star turned politician has meant big ratings - and income - for networks. Leslie Moonves, the chairman of CBS, admitted as much on Monday. “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” Moonves said at a Morgan Stanley conference in San Francisco. In addition to around-the-clock TV news coverage of Trump and his fellow presidential candidates (but, mainly Trump), major broadcast and cable networks have pulled in record ratings for televised debates throughout this election cycle. Roughly 13.5 million tuned in to CBS for a GOP debate last month, making that one of the most-watched debates so far this year, as nearly 5 million more viewers tuned in to watch Trump battle his GOP rivals than did for a Democratic debate on CBS last November. Thanks to those high ratings, networks have reportedly been able to gouge advertisers for higher ad-rates during this cycle’s debates. Moonves indicated that he is more than happy to have Trump in the White House race if it means more advertising money.
An investigation into the Jimmy Savile sex abuse scandal cleared the BBC of wrongdoing Thursday, even as it painted a damning portrait of an institution where employees were afraid to raise even serious concerns about sexual misconduct for fear of upsetting celebrity talent or making the corporation look bad. Savile, a BBC television presenter and popular charity figure who died in October 2011, is believed to be one of Britain's most prolific sex offenders, often targeting minors. “Celebrities were treated with kid gloves and were virtually untouchable,” said Janet Smith, a former Court of Appeal judge who conducted the inquiry, describing a BBC culture of not wanting to “rock the boat.” Smith said 117 people at the BBC admitted they had heard rumors about Savile, who abused victims on BBC premises, including the venues where his programs “Top of the Pops” and “Jim'll Fix It” were shot. Smith's review said the Savile abuse incidents dated all the way back to 1959. She identified 72 victims of Savile, both male and female. One was only 8 years old. But girls who raised concerns about Savile were treated as a “nuisance.” In one case in 1969, a girl who was molested on the “Top of the Pops” program while standing next to Savile on the podium was “ejected from the building.” The inquiry also concluded that another BBC star, sports presenter Stuart Hall, 86, also used his celebrity to shield his activities, often plying his victims with alcohol. The Hall investigation ... found 21 victims.
Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team titled "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this sad subject in the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
It is just a single line of dialogue from Spotlight. But it could be a movie in itself. It's an allusion to an entire unknown chapter in the history of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals: the role of the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) in first uncovering the clerical conspiracy to shield abusing priests. “Have you read Jason Berry’s book? He wrote about the Gauthe case,” an abuse survivor asks the team of investigative reporters featured in the film. The survivor ... holds up a copy of Berry’s 1992 book, Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children, which expanded on Berry's reporting for the Times of Acadiana in partnership with the NCR. The June 7, 1985, edition of the NCR was earth-shattering. Berry ... published a lengthy piece on Father Gilbert Gauthe’s sexual crimes and their concealment by the highest clerical authorities. In the same issue, reporter Arthur Jones detailed the concealment of pedophile priests throughout America, and NCR wrote an editorial accusing American Catholic bishops of systemic inaction and silence. “The concealment of pedophiles reminded me of the Watergate coverup,” Berry said in a recent essay. By the time The Boston Globe succeeded in bringing the scandal to the attention of the entire world, the NCR had been doggedly covering the story for 17 years, often alone. Secular publications, including The New York Times and The Nation, wouldn’t go near the topic at all. Even the rest of the Catholic press stayed silent.
Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team titled "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this sad subject in the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about sexual abuse scandals and the manipulation of public perception.
The people who really run the world, it turns out, are perfectly capable of silencing the presses. Consider Postmedia, the biggest newspaper chain in the country. It is largely owned by an American hedge fund ... and editorial direction is dictated from corporate headquarters. Advertiser-controlled copy designed to resemble news [takes] up ever more prominent placement. Marty Baron ... took over the Boston Globe back in 2001, [and] ordered the newspaper's investigative unit to go after pedophile priests. The investigation took a year, and produced a scoop of historic proportion - proving church complicity in covering up heinous crimes. Fifteen years later, like most North American newspapers, the Boston Globe is hobbled and shrunken. Defiance has mostly given way to naked fear, as media managers, and not just in newspapers, desperately try to hold onto splintering audiences and plummeting revenue. Baron, now executive editor of the Washington Post, acknowledged the economic forces ripping the business to shreds. But, said Baron, news institutions must place principle ahead of metrics, or our core withers, and we become clickbait hustlers for corporate paymasters. "The greatest danger to a vigorous press today," he [said], "comes from ourselves."
A four-year survey of more than 100,000 newborn babies in north-eastern Brazil has uncovered hitherto unrecognised patterns of microcephaly. The discovery suggests microcephaly is not necessarily a new phenomenon, and questions whether Zika virus is even the cause. Paediatric cardiologist Dr Sandra Mattos ... and her colleagues surveyed more than 100,000 newborns for congenital heart disease in the Brazilian state of Paraiba. "We tried to establish the pattern of microcephaly over the last four years," Dr Mattos said. "What we expected was that we would have something like ... what has been documented in the official sites. "But we then noticed that we had much, much higher numbers. "Independent of what criteria we used, we had between 2–8 per cent of babies that would fall into the criteria of microcephaly," she said. This represents between 2,000 and 4,000 babies per year in the state of Paraíba - about 1,000 times more than the team expected. The survey goes back to 2012 and 2013 and shows a spike each spring and summer, and while the headlines are all recent, the biggest peak in north-eastern Brazil was actually in 2014. The survey calls into question whether these microcephaly cases are caused by Zika virus or something else. If it is Zika virus, it has been in Brazil for a lot longer than people have thought, but that does not explain why after 50 years Zika has only now been linked to microcephaly.
Note: Another article describes a doctors group which has stated the increasing microcephaly may be caused by a larvacide. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the zika virus from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Brazil’s government is considering tightening the guidelines it currently gives doctors, hospitals, and health care providers for when to report infants born with abnormally small heads, a move intended to reduce the number of false alarms that it has received in wake of the Zika epidemic gripping Brazil. In the last few months, the nation has been grappling with a growing surge in medical reports of microcephaly, a rare condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads. According to data released this week by the Ministry of Health, there have been 4,783 reported cases since October last year. Before that, the nation had about 150 annually. But how many of the babies actually have microcephaly - and whether the condition was caused by the Zika virus - is still far from clear. Of the cases examined so far, 404 have been confirmed as having microcephaly. Only 17 of them tested positive for the Zika virus. Another 709 babies have been ruled out as having microcephaly, according to the government, underscoring the risks of false positives making the epidemic appear larger than it actually is. The remaining 3,670 cases are still being investigated. As is often the case with global health epidemics, the numbers have caused confusion. Some have wondered if Brazil was overstating the extent of its health crisis.
Note: Another article describes a doctors group which has stated the increasing microcephaly may be caused by a larvacide. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the zika virus from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Before Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, and Edward Snowden, the intelligence whistleblower, there was Katharine Gun. The former GCHQ employee ... was a young Mandarin specialist at the British government’s eavesdropping agency in Cheltenham. In early 2003 she received an email asking her and her colleagues to help the US government spy on UN security council delegations in New York. It was a critical moment, as Washington was seeking UN backing for its invasion of Iraq. Gun decided the world had to know, whatever the cost to her life and career. She leaked the memo to the Observer and was arrested, lost her job and faced trial under the Official Secrets Act. Thirteen years later, as bloodshed continues in Iraq, the almost forgotten story is to be brought to a new audience in Official Secrets, a movie [that] will chart Gun’s unlikely bid – courageous self-sacrifice to supporters, treachery in the view of critics – to block George W Bush and Tony Blair’s march to war. Unlike many whistleblowers who leak thousands of documents after the event, Gun was intervening in an active operation and trying to stop a war. The US National Security Agency memo told employees of GCHQ to gather “the whole gamut of information that could give American policymakers an edge in obtaining results favourable to US goals or to head off surprises”. “I saw the email and my gut reaction was pretty instantaneous, that it was highly explosive information and that it should be out in the public domain,” she recalled.
Note: The US has spent several trillion dollars pursuing a policy of endless war since 9/11. Great Britain did not believe Iraq to be a global security threat, but backed the US-led invasion on this false pretense for political reasons. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
The mosquito-borne Zika virus is drawing global attention. Earlier today, the head of the World Health Organization said Zika is "spreading explosively." Brazil has reported more than 4,000 cases of babies born recently with microcephaly, a brain condition characterized by an abnormally small head that can lead to developmental issues or even death. That number compares with fewer than 150 cases in the country for all of 2014. The virus is mainly a health concern for women who are pregnant and it does not have long-lasting effects on most people. The virus is primarily transmitted through the Aedes aegypti mosquito. So far there is limited evidence on whether Zika can be transferred from mother to child. But because of the rash of microcephaly cases in Brazil, which spiked after the first confirmed case of Zika, this maternal link is "strongly suspected" and being closely studied. Only one in five of those infected with Zika show symptoms, which develop up to one week after being bitten. Most symptoms are mild, and ... can be easily treated with rest and plenty of fluids. Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti told CBC News, "the one thing to make very clear is that Zika, once it's out of your body, it's gone. It's not something like Hepatitis B or HIV that can stay in your body forever. "Overall, Zika is a very mild illness apart from what we think might be happening in pregnant women."
Note: Lots more fear mongering with this latest virus. Yet there is actually very little risk, with the possible exception of pregnant mothers, and even this is being exaggerated. Remember, powerful people want to keep us in fear, as that makes it easier to manipulate us. The swine flu, avian flu and ebola are prime examples of supposed "doomsday diseases" that turned out to harm relatively few. For more on how these diseases were manipulated and who profited, see concise summaries of deeply revealing major media news articles from reliable sources on this.
New FEC filings show that all of the $417,250 in monetary donations to a Super PAC called “Black Americans for a Better Future” comes from conservative white businessmen - including $400,000, or 96 percent of the total, from white billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer. Mercer, co-CEO of Renaissance Technologies on Long Island, is best-known politically for donating $11,000,000 to Keep the Promise I, a Super PAC backing Ted Cruz’s presidential run. BABF appears to exist solely as a vehicle for Washington, D.C., consultant Raynard Jackson, who is African-American. Jackson is quoted on his firm’s website stating that “You have a fundamental right to pursue business interests with the least amount of interference from the government.” Jackson has elsewhere accused Barack Obama of “relentless pandering to homosexuals.” At an event in November 2015 at the National Press Club, which cost BABF $13,252.79 for the venue and catering, Jackson said that “Having well-trained, credible, experienced African-Americans constantly challenging the liberal orthodoxy in the media will create a tectonic shift in the perception of the Republican Party within the Black community.” Other donations to BABF [include] $10,000 from Keller Investment Properties of Utah, whose CEO is the white Scott Keller, a member of Mitt Romney’s donor network, [and] $5,000 from the very white Marc Stanley Goldman.
In the fall of 2010, a blogger asked Jane Mayer, a writer with The New Yorker, how she felt about the private investigator who was digging into her background. Ms. Mayer thought the idea was a joke. A few months later, she ran into a former reporter who had been asked about helping with an investigation into another reporter on behalf of two conservative billionaires ... Ms. Mayer recounts in “Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right.” Her acquaintance told her, “‘It occurred to me afterward that the reporter they wanted to investigate might be you.’” Ms. Mayer had published a major story in the magazine that August about the brothers David and Charles Koch, and their role in cultivating the power of the Tea Party movement. [She] began to take the rumored investigation seriously when she heard from her New Yorker editor that she was going to be accused - falsely - of plagiarism. A dossier of her supposed plagiarism had been provided to reporters at The New York Post and The Daily Caller, but the smears collapsed when the writers who were the purported victims made statements saying that it was nonsense. Who was behind this? Ms. Mayer ... traced it to a “boiler room” operation involving several people who have worked closely with Koch business concerns. The private investigation firm ... was Vigilant Resources International, whose founder and chairman, Howard Safir, had been New York City’s police commissioner under the former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.
Note: The Koch brothers built a secretive empire to manipulate the political process in the US. This empire plans to spend $889 million on US elections in 2016. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about elections corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Some Marketplace reports about vitamins and supplements published in November contained incorrect information, CBC has learned. Last fall, Marketplace commissioned lab testing for samples of fish oil, vitamin C and protein powder supplements to see if consumers are actually getting what they pay for. Based on those test results, Marketplace reported that Emergen-C and two protein powders: GNC Lean Shake 25 and Cytosport Muscle Milk failed to live up to label claims. However, subsequent re-testing of the samples has found that the lab results and analysis provided to Marketplace were incorrect, and that there is no evidence of problems with those products. The original lab tests were performed by an independent lab in Michigan, which is ISO-17025 accredited, registered with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and used by the supplement industry. The lab was recommended by Neil Thanedar, co-founder and CEO of LabDoor, a company that has products tested and makes those results public to help guide consumers about vitamins and supplements. CBC re-tested some of the products at other independent, accredited labs. None of them found problems with the samples. While Thanedar admits some of the lab results he provided to Marketplace were flawed, he was still unable to explain how the mistakes were made.
Note: Definitely something fishy going on here. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing health news articles from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Health Information Center.
Cologne’s police chief has been removed from his post amid criticism of his force’s handling of a string of sexual assaults and robberies carried out by groups of men in the German city on New Year’s Eve. His enforced departure came as a witness to the violence told the Guardian the events appeared to have been coordinated. Lieli Shabani, 35, said she saw three Arabic speaking males who were “clearly giving instructions”. A leaked police report [describes] how officers were initially overwhelmed by events outside the city’s train station, after which more than 100 women filed criminal complaints of sexual assault and robbery, including two accounts of rape. Cologne mayor Henriette Reker suggested on Friday that police had held back information from her, and said in a statement that her “trust in the Cologne police leadership is significantly shaken”. The leaked police report, obtained by the German newspaper Bild, said women were forced to “run a gauntlet ... beyond description” to reach or leave the station. The incidents in and around the square in front of the main train station have led to accusations of a police and media cover-up. Evidence has emerged that similar attacks had taken place in seven other German cities.
Note: It's entirely possible that these attacks were coordinated in order to stoke anti-immigrant sentiment. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about sexual abuse scandals and the manipulation of public perception.
Saudi Arabia’s well-funded public relations apparatus moved quickly after Saturday’s explosive execution of Shiite political dissident Nimr al-Nimr to shape how the news is covered in the United States. The execution led protestors in Shiite-run Iran to set fire to the Saudi Embassy in Tehran, precipitating a major diplomatic crisis. The Saudi side of the story is getting a particularly effective boost in the American media through pundits who are quoted justifying the execution, in many cases without mention of their funding or close affiliation with the Saudi Arabian government. Meanwhile, social media accounts affiliated with Saudi Arabia’s American lobbyists have pushed English-language infographics, tweets, and online videos to promote a narrative that reflects the interests of the Saudi regime. An editorial published by the Wall Street Journal approvingly quoted Joseph Braude of the Foreign Policy Research Institute claiming that Nimr was a violent extremist. Braude’s depiction of Nimr aligns with ... Saudi Arabia’s terrorism law, [which] includes as acts of terrorism merely criticizing the government. But as journalists and editors from the Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, the BBC, and other prominent outlets have reported, Nimr advocated nonviolence and encouraged his followers to protest peacefully. Braude did not provide any evidence for his claims beyond anonymous “Saudi sources.”
Note: Read about the Saudi campaign to charm American policy makers even as it set a record in the number of public beheadings. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and media manipulation.
Ramadi was liberated today, but will anyone notice? The sad fact is that nothing that actually happens on the ground against Daesh (ISIS) is likely going to have a material effect on the culture of fear that has been created to infest the American psyche by so many people who should know so much better. A whopping 59% of Democrats are unhappy with the progress President Obama has made on the war on terror, along with 86% of Republicans and 69% of independents. What did anyone expect? Since the Paris shootings, and certainly since the shootings in San Bernardino, through the efforts of our leading television news stars, Daesh has been converted into the greatest threat to Western civilization since the Battle of Tours. They are supervillains with mad computer skillz and secret Muslim mind-tricks who can turn your children into implacable murder machines. If you want to see what losing the war on terror really looks like, don't look to the Middle East. Instead, watch the television commercials approved by the various Republican presidential candidates. The three Democratic candidates are better, but not by much. You can't win a "war" on terror any more than you can win a "war" on hate or a "war" on any other easily activated human emotion, if there are enough powerful institutions that can profit from its activation. It's really up to the rest of us ... to keep things in perspective about the genuine dangers and the fantastical ones by which other people profit.
Note: Explore powerful evidence that ISIS is aided and was possibly even created by covert US support. Watch this video which shows how the US and its allies stoke war in order to pad the pockets of mega-corporations which profit greatly from arms sales. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the manipulation of public perception.
The New York Times is taking a second look at its reporting on the Internet activities of the assailants in the San Bernardino, Calif., massacre. The review is addressing a discrepancy between the paper’s reporting and statements made ... by FBI Director James B. Comey. The New York Times reported in a front-page Sunday piece that Tashfeen Malik, who with her husband Syed Rizwan Farook committed the slayings, “talked openly on social media about her views on violent jihad.” In a session with reporters yesterday, Comey announced: “So far, in this investigation we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period in time and thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihad or to martyrdom. I’ve seen some reporting on that, and that’s a garble.” Following Comey’s statements, the New York Times published an article acknowledging the inconsistencies. That the New York Times appears to have botched this story isn’t a shocker. “American law enforcement officials” - upon whom the paper relied for its scoop - are famous for feeding contradictory and unfounded information to the media. Yet the paper’s explanation is indeed a shocker, especially these two sentences: "While those remarks were made online, Mr. Comey said, they were “direct private messages” and not easily accessed. Nevertheless, the F.B.I. was able to obtain them in the days since the attacks." This is a story that needs a large correction, if not a retraction.
Note: Somebody wants us to be afraid. Read an excellent analysis raising serious questions about these alleged mass murderers and others. A New York Times editor admitted that the NYT failed to accurately report the news after 9/11. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the manipulation of public perception.
The headlines about Donald Trump hitting new highs in national polls are tremendously deceptive, as they only measure his support among self-declared Republican primary voters, a small subset of the nation as a whole. For example, in [a] recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Trump was the first choice of 27 percent of the Republican voters who responded. Given the weighted samples in this poll (38 percent identify as Republican or leaning Republican) this translates into Trump capturing the support of about 11 percent of American voters in total. In the same poll, 37 percent of Democratic voters supported Democratic contender Bernie Sanders. Given the weighted samples (43 percent identify as Democrat or leaning Democrat) that translates into roughly 16 percent of all American voters. Additionally, in a recent Quinnipiac poll, Sanders beat Trump in a head-to-head matchup - by an even larger margin than Hillary Clinton did. But in terms of coverage by the mainstream media, Trump is besting Sanders 23 to 1, by some estimates. Some of this can be explained by the fact that Trump is the GOP frontrunner, and Sanders has consistently run second to Clinton. But it’s also partly because of what a spectacle Trump has made of himself - and because the media has consistently treated Sanders as a marginal candidate. Media executives view Trump’s outrageous antics as good for their bottom line. “Go Donald! Keep getting out there!” Les Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, [recently] cheered.
Today, FBI director James Comey said the San Bernardino shooters never talked openly about violent jihadism on social media: "So far, in this investigation we have found no evidence of posting on social media by either of them at that period in time and thereafter reflecting their commitment to jihador to martyrdom." So where did this notion come from, anyway? The answer is a New York Times story on Sunday headlined "U.S. Visa Process Missed San Bernardino Wife's Zealotry on Social Media." It told us that Tashfeen Malik "talked openly" on social media about jihad and that, "Had the authorities found the posts years ago, they might have kept her out of the country." The story was written by Matt Apuzzo, Michael Schmidt, and Julia Preston. Do those names sound familiar? They should. The first two were also the authors of July's epic fail claiming that Hillary Clinton was the target of a criminal referral over the mishandling of classified information in her private email system. In the end, virtually everything about the story turned out to be wrong. Clinton was not a target. The referral was not criminal. The emails in question had most likely not been classified at the time Clinton saw them. That's two strikes. Schmidt and Apuzzo either have some bad sources somewhere, or else they have one really bad source somewhere. And coincidentally or not, their source(s) have provided them with two dramatic but untrue scoops that make prominent Democrats look either corrupt or incompetent.
Note: A New York Times editor admitted that the NYT failed to accurately report the news after 9/11. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the manipulation of public perception.
Soon after launching a brutal air and ground assault in Yemen, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia began devoting significant resources to a sophisticated public relations blitz. Elements of the charm offensive include the launch of a pro-Saudi Arabia media portal operated by high-profile Republican campaign consultants; a special English-language website devoted to putting a positive spin on the latest developments in the Yemen war; glitzy dinners with American political and business elites; and a non-stop push to sway reporters and policymakers. That has been accompanied by a spending spree on American lobbyists with ties to the Washington establishment. Saudi Arabia continues to be a leading driver of Sunni terror networks worldwide, including in Syria and Iraq. The Saudi Arabian government is currently supplying weapons to a Syrian rebel coalition that includes the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in the region. Private donors in Saudi Arabia have also worked as fundraisers for the Islamic State, or ISIS. And there is a renewed, bipartisan push by lawmakers to declassify the 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report, a censored section that reportedly relates to Saudi state support for al Qaeda’s operation. In September, the Kingdom helped sponsor opulent galas for Washington’s business elite at the Ritz Carlton and the Andrew Mellon Auditorium. The events were attended by King Salman, along with the chief executives of General Electric and Lockheed Martin, the chairman of Marriott International, and prominent think tank officials.
Note: A carefully researched report on the covert origins of ISIS suggests the creation of terrorists is useful for Washington's elite. A document that is reported to connect Saudi money to 9/11 remains classified. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and media manipulation.
CNN yesterday suspended its global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, for two weeks for the crime of posting a tweet critical of the House vote to ban Syrian refugees. Whether by compulsion or choice, she then groveled in apology. Labott’s crime wasn’t that she expressed an opinion. It’s that she expressed the wrong opinion: After Paris, defending Muslims, even refugees, is strictly forbidden. I’ve spoken with friends who work at every cable network and they say the post-Paris climate is indescribably repressive in terms of what they can say and who they can put on air. When it comes to the Paris attacks, CNN has basically become state TV. Labott’s punishment comes just five days after two CNN anchors spent six straight minutes lecturing French Muslim civil rights activist Yasser Louati that he and all other French Muslims bear “responsibility” for the attack. In the wake of Paris, an already ugly and quite dangerous anti-Muslim climate has exploded. The leading GOP presidential candidate is speaking openly of forcing Muslims to register in databases, closing mosques, and requiring Muslims to carry special ID cards. Others are advocating exclusion of Muslim refugees (Cruz) and religious tests to allow in only “proven Christians” (Bush). That, by any measure, is a crisis of authoritarianism. And journalists have historically not only been permitted, but required, to raise their voice against such dangers.
Note: The New York Times recently reported that a Syrian passport found at a Paris bombing site was planted as part of a false evidence trail "to turn public opinion against Syrian refugees." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles from reliable sources.
In 2009, not long after his historic election and seven years after the first U.S. drone strike, President Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then, however, deadly U.S. drone strikes have increased sharply, as have doubts about the program’s reliability and effectiveness. The latest criticism comes from Drone, a new documentary about the CIA’s covert drone war. To help promote the film and inveigh against the agency’s drone program ... four former operators - Stephen Lewis, Michael Haas, Cian Westmoreland and Brandon Bryant - appeared at a press conference. Speaking out can lead to veiled threats and prosecution. Which is why for years Bryant was the only drone veteran who openly rebuked the drone war. But his persistence and his appearance in the film, the other three say, inspired them to come forward. On multiple occasions, the men say they complained to their superiors about their concerns to no avail. Drone strikes kill far more civilians than the government admits. These deaths, they argue, wind up helping militant groups recruit new members and hurt the U.S.’s long-term security. By distancing soldiers from the battlefield, the operators suggest the people carrying out strikes may become even more desensitized to killing than their counterparts on the front lines. On some occasions, Haas says operators referred to children as “fun-sized terrorists” or “TITS,” terrorists in training.
Note: A human rights attorney has stated the four former Air Force drone operators-turned-whistleblowers mentioned above have had their credit cards and bank accounts frozen. How many more have not spoken out against these abuses for fear of retaliation like this? Read more about the major failings of US drone attacks. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
There’s no longer any doubt that thousands of West Coasters witnessed an unarmed missile streaking across the sky Saturday night. What remains open to interpretation: Why? Why test-fire a missile within sight of the nation’s second-largest city? Did officials underestimate social media’s ability to turn a routine event into front-page fodder? Or was that the plan all along, using the inevitable influence of social media to flex America’s military might for observers in Beijing and Moscow? The answer: It’s complicated. Loren Thompson, a military analyst who used to teach nuclear strategy at Georgetown University, told The Washington Post that “We have entered an era when anybody can reach a large audience using social media and the blogosphere, so the military needs to look closely at the implications of testing close to population centers. Obviously, with something as large as a Trident II missile, whether you launch during the daytime or at night, it will be visible,” he said. “That’s just the nature of it.” Even so, the extra attention might not have mattered to military officials, Thompson said. If you ignore the frenzy on social media, there is a benefit to visibility: The U.S. Navy, Thompson writes in Forbes, views nuclear deterrence as its most important mission, and the Trident is the backbone of that deterrence. “You could have demonstrated same point to the Russians or the Chinese without getting people really concerned in L.A.,” Thompson told The Post.
"Spotlight" ... is the saga of how the Boston Globe won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for uncovering not only decades of sexual abuse by Catholic priests but also systematic maneuvers by the church's Boston archdiocese to shield the more than 70 perpetrators. The story "Spotlight" tells is significant twice over. First for its depiction of the uncovering of what proved to be an international scandal, and also for the way it quietly but potently illustrates society's need for old-fashioned investigative journalism, the kind of labor-intensive telling-truth-to-power work that's increasingly in jeopardy. As "Spotlight" opens in July 2001 ... a new man, the imperturbable Marty Baron, the rare Globe editor not to grow up in Boston, is about to take over the paper. In fact, practically the first thing Baron does is ... focus on the accusations of clergy sexual misconduct. The [news] team (all of whom are lapsed Catholics), as well as the staff in general, symbolized by dubious assistant managing editor Ben Bradlee Jr. are well aware of the enormity of what they're taking on. For one thing, 53% of the Globe's subscribers are Catholic and, for another, as someone says, "the Church thinks in terms of centuries." Because it has done its homework ... "Spotlight" is especially good at the dynamics of interviewing, on what happens when reporters say things like, "Do you want to be on the right side of this story when it breaks?" Honest enough to zing the Globe for neglecting this story for years before it took it on, "Spotlight" is both damning and inspiring.
Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team titled "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this sad subject. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
The Vatican announced Monday that two members of a commission set up by Pope Francis to study financial operations at the Holy See had been arrested on suspicion of leaking confidential documents to journalists. The arrests came days before the publication of two books - “Avarizia,” or “Avarice,” by Emiliano Fittipaldi, and “Merchants in the Temple,” by Gianluigi Nuzzi. Both books claim to offer glimpses of the turmoil surrounding Francis as he pursues his reforms of Vatican finances, the operations of the Curia and the Vatican bank. Those institutions had long been plagued by scandal and corruption that contributed to the resignation in 2013 of Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to step down in nearly 600 years. Divulging confidential documents has been considered a crime in the Vatican since July 2013, after the leak of a cache of Vatican documents ... which Mr. Nuzzi published. Besides reporting on the church’s vast financial holdings, Mr. Fittipaldi said he had also discovered that money given to the church for the poor was used for other purposes. Mr. Nuzzi’s book ... suggests that the Vatican’s finances were in such chaos that Benedict had no choice but to resign. “I am certainly surprised that the Vatican responds to the imminent publication of a book with handcuffs,” Mr. Nuzzi said ... particularly “when handcuffs aren’t used to stop the thieves in the Vatican.”
Note: In 2012, leaked documents revealed that the Vatican Bank was used for money laundering. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the financial industry.
The FBI says crime rates, including murder, were down last year. The report is in contrast to headlines this year. In 2014 the U.S. recorded the fewest murders since 2009. Most other violent crimes, such as robbery, burglary, theft and arson have declined, while aggravated assaults and rapes, which now includes a broader definition, were on the rise in 2014. The 2014 numbers do not reflect an increase this year in murders and other violent crimes reported in some cities. Deputy Attorney General Sally Quillian Yates highlighted progress made for cities compared to decades past. "We have witnessed a remarkable drop in crime since the 1980's - both violent crime and crime overall. Entire cities have been transformed, unlocking tremendous potential and releasing a wave of prosperity," Yates said, adding that "even though crime is trending downward in most places, we are seeing pockets of rising violence in various locations across the country." While the FBI has expanded the report to include new statistics such as hate crimes and human trafficking arrests, it addressed concerns of transparency in the reporting of potential violent crimes committed by law enforcement officers on civilians.
Note: This article, like almost all media articles on the topic, fails to report the incredible news that violent crime rates have dropped to 1/3 of what they were just 20 years ago. Why are they not highlighting this incredibly inspiring news? For details on this awesome development, see this excellent webpage. See also an excellent graph on this.
John Lydon has claimed he was banned from the BBC after speaking out against Jimmy Savile. The former Sex Pistol was referring to an interview he’d given in 1978, during which he had said that Savile was “into all sorts of seediness. We all know about it but we’re not allowed to talk about it." Speaking to Piers Morgan for his Life Stories show, he said: “I’m very, very bitter that the likes of Savile and the rest of them were allowed to continue. I did my bit, I said what I had to. But they didn’t air that.” He continued: “I found myself banned from BBC radio for quite a while, for my contentious behaviour. They wouldn’t state this directly; there’d be other excuses.” The band were already in the BBC’s bad books before Lydon’s Savile comments: God Save The Queen received a total ban on radio play from the corporation in May 1977. Lydon didn’t go into the specifics of what the ban entailed, although he said: “Weren’t I right? I think most kids wanted to go on [Savile's popular show] Top of the Pops, but we all knew what that cigar muncher was up to.”
Note: Watch an excellent segment by Australia's "60-Minutes" team "Spies, Lords and Predators" on a pedophile ring in the UK which leads directly to the highest levels of government. A second suppressed documentary, "Conspiracy of Silence," goes even deeper into this topic in the US. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
The United States has slipped so far with respect to transparency that some open-government groups now rank it behind Yemen, Kyrgyzstan and Liberia. Today, the Freedom of Information Act – our country’s signature right-to-information law – is alarmingly dysfunctional. It is impeding the ability of the press to do its job. Sharyl Attkisson, a journalist with five Emmy Awards ... asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last October for records related to a virus that had possibly killed 14 children and paralyzed another 115. The CDC still hasn’t turned over a single document in response. This isn’t the first such experience for Attkisson. She recently told a congressional committee that it took the Department of Defense 10 years to respond to a request she made in 2003. It is a sad turn of events that FOIA has become so unhelpful to journalists. Like many other citizens who make requests under FOIA – which allows any person to request federal agency records for any reason – journalists face backlogs, excuses for withholding, and delays. “Non-responsiveness is the norm,” Karen Kaiser, general counsel of The Associated Press, told a Senate panel in May. Agencies could do a far better job of enforcing FOIA as it is written. Notably, agencies need to faithfully adhere to a provision of FOIA that allows journalists’ requests to go to the front of the queue when there is an “urgency to inform the public.” As it stands, agencies reject these so-called “expedited processing” requests the vast majority of the time.
Note: Along with having her FOIA requests stalled, Sharyl Attkisson has sometimes been spied on and computer-hacked by U.S intelligence agencies for her investigative journalism. The number of FOIA requests denied by government agencies has been rapidly increasing in recent years.
The New York Times today has a truly bizarre article regarding the U.S. and cluster bombs. The Paper of Record [claims the U.S.] government, though refusing to sign the cluster ban treaty, has nonetheless “abided by its provisions.” This claim is totally false. The U.S. has long been and remains one of the world’s most aggressive suppliers of cluster munitions, and has used those banned weapons itself in devastating ways. In December 2009 - just weeks after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize - President Obama ordered a cruise missile strike (that) “killed 35 women and children.” Among the munitions used in that strike were cluster bombs. Although the U.S. at first refused to confirm responsibility, a Yemeni journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye, visited the scene and found irrefutable proof that it was done by the U.S., a finding subsequently confirmed. Obama ... then forced the imprisonment for years of the Yemeni journalist who reported it. Under the treaty which The Paper of Record today claimed the U.S. honors: "Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to: (a) Use cluster munitions; (b) Develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer to anyone, directly or indirectly, cluster munitions; (c) Assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention. The U.S. does not occasionally violate one of those provisions. It continually violates all of them, systematically and as a matter of policy.
The Associated Press sued the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday over the FBI's failure to provide public records related to the creation of a fake news story used to plant surveillance software on a suspect's computer. At issue is a 2014 Freedom of Information request seeking documents related to the FBI's decision to send a web link to the fake article to a 15-year-old boy suspected of making bomb threats to a high school. The FBI has used spyware before to pursue suspected criminals. AP strongly objected to the ruse, which was uncovered last year. AP General Counsel Karen Kaiser [wrote] in a 2014 letter to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, "It is improper and inconsistent with a free press for government personnel to masquerade as The Associated Press or any other news organization. The FBI may have intended this false story as a trap for only one person. However, the individual could easily have reposted this story to social networks, distributing to thousands of people, under our name, what was essentially a piece of government disinformation." In a November opinion piece in the New York Times, FBI Director James Comey revealed that an undercover FBI agent had also impersonated an AP reporter. AP's records request also seeks an accounting of how many times since 2000 the FBI has impersonated media organizations to deliver malicious software. In a response to AP, the FBI indicated it might take nearly two years to find and copy the requested records.
Note: According to The Guardian, the FBI forced an informant to hack into and compromise the computer systems of a major UK newspaper in 2011. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of mass media.
The Defense Department earlier this summer released a comprehensive manual outlining its interpretation of the law of war. The 1,176-page document, the first of its kind, includes guidelines on the treatment of journalists covering armed conflicts that would make their work more dangerous, cumbersome and subject to censorship. Journalists, the manual says, are generally regarded as civilians, but may in some instances be deemed “unprivileged belligerents,” a legal term that applies to fighters that are afforded fewer protections than the declared combatants in a war. The manual warns that “Reporting on military operations can be very similar to collecting intelligence or even spying.” It says that governments “may need to censor journalists’ work or take other security measures so that journalists do not reveal sensitive information to the enemy.” Allowing this document to stand as guidance for commanders, government lawyers and officials of other nations would do severe damage to press freedoms. Authoritarian leaders around the world could point to it to show that their despotic treatment of journalists — including Americans — is broadly in line with the standards set by the United States government. The document’s broad assertion that journalists’ work may need to be censored lest it reveal sensitive information to the enemy ... seems to contravene American constitutional and case law, and offers other countries that routinely censor the press a handy reference point.
Note: Read a critical analysis of the Pentagon’s new manual from the Committee to Protect Journalists. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of public perception.
Coca-Cola, the world’s largest producer of sugary beverages, is backing a new “science-based” solution to the obesity crisis: To maintain a healthy weight, get more exercise and worry less about cutting calories. Health experts say this message is misleading and part of an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, [and] convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume. “Coca-Cola’s sales are slipping, and there’s this huge political and public backlash against soda, with every major city trying to do something to curb consumption,” said Michele Simon, a public health lawyer. “This is a direct response.” Coke’s [campaign] is not the only example of corporate-funded research and advocacy to come under fire lately. The American Society for Nutrition and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have been criticized by public health advocates for forming partnerships with companies such as Kraft Foods, McDonald’s, PepsiCo and Hershey’s. Dietitians have also faced criticism for taking payments from Coke to present the company’s soda as a healthy snack. A recent analysis of beverage studies ... found that those funded by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, the American Beverage Association and the sugar industry were five times more likely to find no link between sugary drinks and weight gain than studies whose authors reported no financial conflicts.
During a discussion yesterday in Aspen with ... CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, FBI Director James Comey somberly warned that ISIS now officially poses a bigger threat to the “U.S. homeland” than the one posed by former title-holder Al Qaeda — because, of course, the Latest Threat must always be the Greatest Threat. Comey also said that the previous bigger-than-Al-Qaeda contender, “The Khorasan Group,” has been “diminished” by “the work done by our great military” — because the War on Terror narrative requires that it must always be somehow simultaneously true that (1) the Terror Threat facing Americans is Greater Than Ever™ and (2) U.S. military actions against Terrorism are succeeding. To dramatize ISIS as The New Greatest Threat to the Homeland, FBI Director Comey first summoned the TV-actor-who-plays-the-journalist-character-called-Wolf-Blitzer to Aspen, and then NBC News posted to the top of its news article a slick, scary, music-and-graphic-driven video using all of Hollywood’s horror film staples to provide the visceral kick. I’m really grateful that because Americans have a free press, we’re not subject to state propaganda the way people in those bad, unfortunate countries are.
Note: Read an excellent essay by a top US general exposing how war is a racket. Is this why terrorist fear-mongers always claim that it is the scariest time ever? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the manipulation of public perception.
A treason investigation into two journalists who reported that the German state planned to increase online surveillance has been suspended by the country’s prosecutor general following protests by leading voices across politics and media. Harald Range, Germany’s prosecutor general, said on Friday he was halting the investigation “for the good of press and media freedom”. It was the first time in more than half a century that journalists in Germany had faced charges of treason. His announcement followed a deluge of criticism and accusations that Germany’s prosecutor had “misplaced priorities”, having failed to investigate with any conviction the NSA spying scandal revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden, and targeting instead the two investigative journalists, Markus Beckedahl and Andre Meister. The two reporters made reference to what is believed to be a genuine intelligence report that had been classified as confidential, which proposed establishing a new intelligence department to monitor the internet, in particular social media networks. Beckedahl hit out at the prosecutor’s investigation against him on Friday on the state broadcaster Deutschlandfunk, calling it “absurd” and suggesting it was meant as a general warning to scare sources from speaking to journalists. Much of the German media called the decision an attack on the freedom of the press.
Note: The NSA recently got caught spying on German reporters, possibly as a favor to the German government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of public perception.
Former New York Times reporter Judy Miller ... granted anonymity to government officials and then uncritically laundered their dubious claims. As the paper’s own editors put it in their 2004 mea culpa about the role they played in selling the [Iraq] war: “We have found a number of instances of coverage that ... seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged.” But 12 years after Miller left, you can pick up that same paper on any given day and ... find reporters doing exactly the same thing. It is worth observing how damaging it continues to be, because, shockingly, all sorts of self-identified “journalists” — both within the paper and outside of it — continue to equate unverified assertions from government officials as Proven Truth, even when these officials are too cowardly to attach their names to these claims, as long as papers such as the NYT launder them. Among the assertions mindlessly repeated by the Paper of Record from its beloved anonymous officials is this one: that ISIS learned to use couriers as a result of the Snowden revelations. The claim itself ... is monumentally stupid. Terrorists have known for a very long time that the U.S. government and its allies are trying to intercept their communications, and have long used encryption and other means to prevent that. This is the same process that enabled the New York Times, more than any other media outlet, to sell the Iraq War to the American public, and they’re using exactly the same methods to this day.
Reporter Jason Leopold ... has revealed about 20,000 pages of government documents, some of them the basis for explosive news stories. His secret weapon: the Freedom of Information Act. A number of stories over the last several years based on government documents leaked by WikiLeaks and by ... Edward J. Snowden seem to have piqued the interest of the public, and of journalists, in acquiring such materials. In 2009, according to its own figures, the government received about 560,000 Freedom of Information Act requests. By 2014, that number had risen to about 715,000. The Freedom of Information Act was enacted in the 1960s to help citizens gather information on their government. In practice, it can seem as if Kafka and Orwell sat down together to plot a nightmare of bureaucratic complication. Each government agency or department has its own FOIA office that it must finance out of its own budget. [Yet] the office of the secretary of defense ... with an annual budget of more than $500 billion, was reported, in 2013, not to be accepting FOIA requests because its fax machine was broken. The C.I.A.’s FOIA website has been down for some time, Mr. Leopold said, and there seem to be few signs it will be fixed. And there is one small Treasury Department office, he said, that has no working email, fax number or address, and that does not answer the phone.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about high level manipulation of mass media.
The Oscar-winning documentary film-maker Laura Poitras is suing the US government. Poitras, 51, said she had been held at borders more than 50 times between 2006 and 2012, often for hours at a time. At various times she alleges being told by officials that she was on a “no fly” list, having her electronic equipment confiscated ... and being threatened with handcuffs for taking notes. The latter incident took place when she was working on a film about the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Poitras [is] launching the legal action "because the government uses the US border to bypass the rule of law,” said the film-maker. She was repeatedly stopped until 2012, when the journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote an article about her experiences. Poitras’s reporting on the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, along with work by Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and Barton Gellman contributed to the Pulitzer prize for public service won jointly by the Washington Post and the Guardian in 2014. Her film on Snowden, Citizenfour, won the 2015 Oscar for best documentary. The director is being represented by lawyers from digital-rights advocacy group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “The well-documented difficulties Ms Poitras experienced while traveling strongly suggest that she was improperly targeted by federal agencies as a result of her journalistic activities,” senior counsel David Sobel told the Intercept. “Those agencies are now attempting to conceal information that would shed light on tactics that appear to have been illegal.”
If you turned on US cable news at any point last week, you might have thought this July 4 holiday would be our last weekend on earth – the supposed terrorist masterminds in Isis and their alleged vast sleeper cell army were going to descend upon America like the aliens in Independence Day and destroy us all. CNN has led the pack in whipping Americans into a panic over the Isis threat, running story after story with government officials and terrorism industry money-makers hyping the threat, played against the backdrop of scary b-roll of terrorist training camps. Following the tragedy in Charleston, where a white supremacist terrorist killed nine innocent churchgoers, there was – finally! – widespread acknowledgement that the Islamic terrorism threat in this country is vastly exaggerated, and that white supremacists actually kill many more Americans than Muslim extremists do. As Glenn Greenwald wrote at the time, you are more likely to be struck by lightning, stung to death by bees or killed your own falling furniture on you than you are by a Muslim terrorist. Yet there we were, less than a week later, back to an “Isis is going to kill us all” mentality. Journalist Adam Johnson went back a decade and found 40 ... times the FBI and Homeland Security have issued similar threats around national holidays or major events, none of which actually was followed by a terrorist attack. It’s more than a little disturbing how much CNN and others have seemingly grown to rely on these nebulous warnings to keep viewers hooked.
Note: Read an excellent essay by a top US general exposing how war is a racket. Is this why terrorist fear-mongers always claim that it is the scariest time ever? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about the manipulation of public perception.
An investigation by the German parliament is raising questions on whether the Obama administration not only spied on journalists in that country, but also interfered in the exercise of the free press. On Thursday, Germany's intelligence coordinator, Günter Heiss, testified before a parliamentary investigative committee of the German parliament, the Bundestag, focused on the activities of the U.S. National Security Agency's spying on Germany and whether the German intelligence agency BND had any knowledge of it. In 2013, the German magazine Der Spiegel ... first reported that the NSA was intercepting German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone communications. On Thursday, WikiLeaks released more information, presumably from that surveillance, from a conversation between Merkel and her personal assistant in October 2011. The WikiLeaks release also suggested that the NSA was spying on German ministers in addition to Merkel. Less observed this week was news that the NSA was eavesdropping not only on Merkel, but also in some capacity on Germany's free press, specifically Der Spiegel. "It feels bitter to learn that American intelligence agencies spied on reporters in another country and denounced alleged sources to the government," said one reporter involved, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from his government or the U.S. government. "This is something I expected to happen in authoritarian states like Russia or China, but not in a democracy."
Three days after the New York Times revealed that the U.S. government was secretly monitoring the calls and emails of people inside the United States without court-approved warrants, the National Security Agency issued a top-secret assessment of the damage done to intelligence efforts by the story. The conclusion: the information could lead terrorists to try to evade detection. Yet the agency gave no specific examples of investigations that had been jeopardized. The December 2005 bombshell story, by James Risen and Eric Lichtblau, set off a debate about the George W. Bush administration's expansion of spying powers after the 9/11 attacks, and also about the Times editors' decision to delay its publication for a year. White House officials had warned the Times that revealing the program would have grave consequences for national security. "To this day we've never seen any evidence – despite all the claims they made to keep us from publishing – that it did any tangible damage to national security, " Lichtblau told The Intercept. "The reality was that the story ... didn't tell terrorists anything that they didn't know," he said. The NSA's damage assessment on the article ... is among the files provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The memo recounts meetings in 2004 and 2005 in which administration officials disclosed "certain details of the special program to select individuals from the New York Times to dissuade them from publishing a story on the program at that time."
Note: You can read the revealing memo mentioned at the link above. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on civil liberties from reliable major media sources. Then explore the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Media Information Center.
Last week in the Boston area, a 26-year-old black Muslim man was shot and killed by agents of the FBI and Boston Police Department. A surveillance video ... was finally released on Monday. It’s virtually impossible to know what happened from this highly touted video, other than the fact that [Usaamah] Rahim appears to have been walking peacefully when he was approached by multiple individuals, wearing no police uniforms, in a threatening, military-style formation. Rahim’s family issued a statement detailing the numerous questions raised by the video. Early reports claimed that there was a third conspirator beyond Rahim and [his nephew and accused co-conspirator David] Wright. The FBI affidavit filed against Wright repeatedly references a “third person” who plotted with Rahim and Wright and met with them. Yet there has been no further mention of this “third person,” and apparently no arrest of him. Why not? Is that third person an FBI informant? Is this yet another case where the director and prime mover of a scary “terror plot” is in fact the FBI itself. What basis exists for the highly inflammatory claim that Rahim was “linked to” or “inspired by” ISIS? He was not only wary of being set up by the FBI, but specifically said he was “preaching AGAINST violence and terrorism.” As AP noted, on social media Rahim “spoke out against the kind of violence Islamic State extremists are fomenting across the Middle East,” and “made none of the violent calls to arms many supporters of armed extremist groups espouse on social media.”
Last week, WikiLeaks disturbed many journalists with an initiative to crowd-source a $100,000 “bounty” on the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. In traditional newsrooms, the idea of offering a cash incentive for the leaking of confidential documents is anathema. But WikiLeaks ... leaves us no choice but to reconsider this prohibition. The TPP exceeds agreements like Nafta in scope and scale and involves far-reaching foreign policy decisions. Its measures will touch the lives of every citizen in the 12 countries expected to sign the pact. Chapters already leaked suggest that the deal restricts fair use of copyrighted material, expands medical patents and weakens public policies that govern net neutrality. Members of Congress can read the text in a secure room but cannot discuss its contents publicly. Representatives from about 600 private corporations are said to have access to the document. Yet the public is excluded. WikiLeaks has arrived at a flawed solution to a very real problem. We have reached a point in the evolution of global democracy at which secrecy and transparency are grotesquely imbalanced. Right now, the bounty may be the best shot we have at transforming the TPP process from a back-room deal to an open debate. But we need a better system to discourage unjustified secrecy, to protect sources and to encourage public-interest whistle-blowing.
Note: The Trans-Pacific Partnership may be a pending disaster. But we do not know for sure, because its contents remain secret. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in government and in the corporate world.
Two years ago, the first story based on the Snowden archive was published in The Guardian, revealing a program of domestic mass surveillance, which, at least in its original form, ended this week. To commemorate that anniversary, Edward Snowden himself reflected in a New York Times op-ed on the “power of an informed public”. The debate provoked by these disclosures [examined] the role journalism ought to play in a democracy and the proper relationship of journalists to those who wield the greatest political and economic power. Of all the revelations over the last two years, one of the most illuminating and stunning has been the reaction of many in the American media to Edward Snowden as a source. There was plenty of journalistic support for the disclosures. But huge numbers of journalists went on the warpath against transparency. The Los Angeles Times ... believes leaking is criminal and those who do it belong in prison. The LA Times itself constantly publishes illegal leaks, though the ones it publishes usually come from top government officials. Have the LA Times editors called for the criminal prosecution of Leon Panetta, and John Brennan, and the endless number of senior officials who leak not (as Snowden did) to inform the public but in order to propagandize them? Of course not, and therein lies the key media lesson from all of this. These journalists are literally agents of political power.
For the fearmongers in the West and their allies, it’s always the scariest time ever. In February, former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morrell, arguing for renewal of the Patriot Act, warned that “the ‘lone wolf’ terrorist threat to the United States has never been greater.” In January, an anonymous senior aide to U.K. Prime Minister ... argued for a new “snooper” bill by saying that “the terrorist threat has never been greater.” In mid-2014, U.K. Prime Minister Cameron himself raised the threat level to “severe” and announced: “Britain faces the ‘greatest and deepest’ terror threat in the country’s history.” Throughout the Bush years ... officials raised their color-coded terror alerts and issued similar warnings so many times that it became a running joke. Years later, the face of that joke, Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, admitted he was pressured to issue warnings for political gain. Here we are 14 years after 9/11, and it’s still always the worst threat ever in all of history. If we always face the greatest threat ever, then one of two things is true: 1) fearmongers serially exaggerate the threat for self-interested reasons, or 2) the threat is always getting more severe, year after year — which might mean we should evaluate the wisdom of “terrorism” policies that constantly make the problem worse. Whatever else is true, the people who should have the least credibility on the planet are [those] who have spent the last 15 years exploiting the terror threat in order to terrorize the American population into doing what they want.
Note: Read an excellent essay by a top US general exposing how war is a racket. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about corruption in the intelligence community and the manipulation of public perception.
The decapitated body of a missing blogger who was investigating a child prostitution ring has been found by police in Brazil. Evany José Metzker's body was found outside the town of Padre Paraíso, in ... Brazil's southeastern Minas Gerais state. Metzger, who maintained a blog named 'Coruja do Vale' (The Owl of the Valley), was reportedly investigating a child prostitution ring operating in the area. Metzger had travelled to Padre Paraíso three months earlier. His body was found on Monday. He had been missing for several days. Metzger's wife, Hilma Chaves Silva Borges, was quoted by The Committee to Protect Journalists as saying that Metzker was working in a dangerous part of the country. "There are lots of murders here. I think that the motive, given the barbarity of his murder, was because he hit on something," she was quoted as saying. Brazil is the third most dangerous country for journalists in Latin America, after Mexico and Colombia, according to Reporters Without Borders. In his blog Metzger often reported on corrupt officials and politicians. Extra, a local daily newspaper, quoted Metzker's family as saying the police were led to the body following an anonymous tip-off.
Note: Those running child prostitution rings make huge amounts of money and are protected by politicians at high levels. Many will not hesitate to kill if anyone threatens to expose their sex trade in children. If you want to understand how pedophile rings have infiltrated the highest levels of government, don't miss the powerful Discovery Channel documentary on this available here.
Grant David Gillham, former legislative staffer ... knows how to work the system. Three major manufacturers of fire retardants went to the right person in 2007 when they enlisted him to help defeat legislation that would ban two classes of retardants believed to cause cancer. Their instructions to him: Don’t worry about the science. Run a political campaign. Oh, and by the way, he was not to reveal his association with the industry. Now Gillham is speaking out in a big way, and his story ... illustrates the extent to which the legislative process can be manipulated. The chemical industry’s main trade group, the American Chemistry Council, denied any connection with Gillham after a 2012 Chicago Tribune series exposed that the advocacy group he created, Citizens for Fire Safety, was not as it claimed, “a coalition of fire professionals, educators, community activists, burn centers, doctors, fire departments and industry leaders,” [but] was funded by three manufacturers who controlled 40 percent of the global market for the targeted chemicals. The strategy worked in California — Leno’s bill to ban chlorinated and brominated fire retardants died on the Senate floor on Aug. 26, 2008 — and Citizens for Fire Safety went on to help defeat similar bills in other states. The manufacturers’ claims of the lifesaving benefits of fire retardants have been contradicted by scientific studies that suggests their flame-resisting properties are minimal, and are more than offset by their negative effect in making fires more toxic.
As a candidate in 2008, Barack Obama pledged to run the “most transparent administration” in U.S. history with an “unprecedented level of openness.” Seven years into his presidency, Obama’s promise rings hollower than ever. A year ago, 38 journalism groups assailed the president’s team for “politically driven suppression of the news.” Complaints included the inaccessibility of key staffers, delays in interview requests and — most insidiously — the blackballing of reporters who wrote critically of the administration. Photojournalists also objected to the White House’s insistence on issuing official images of the president instead of allowing them access. Even before that, The Chronicle had issues with the White House. Our Carla Marinucci was even barred for a time from serving as a pool reporter for presidential visits after she shot video of a spontaneous protest at an April 2011 Obama fundraiser in San Francisco. Most transparent administration in history? Obama has ... prosecuted more leakers under the century-old Espionage Act than all of his predecessors combined. He has continued to defy one of his campaign lines by invoking the state secrets privilege to keep classified information out of court proceedings or to force the dismissal of lawsuits. This administration ... is falling well short of Obama’s promise to be the most transparent president in U.S. history.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles from reliable sources.
President John F. Kennedy sent an army of anti-Castro exiles backed by the CIA onto the beach at Cuba’s Bay of Pigs to suffer bloody, catastrophic defeat. A few days later, [Kennedy] wondered aloud why nobody had talked him out of it. Could the Miami Herald have done that - talked him out of it? The Herald, seven months before the Bay of Pigs, had prepared a news story saying that the United States was planning to launch a military operation against Cuba. But the paper’s top management killed the story after CIA Director Allen Dulles said publishing it would hurt national security. In 1960, [reporter David Kraslow's] contacts at the Justice Department ... told him of a brutal feud between legendary FBI director J. Edgar Hoover and the CIA. The CIA wanted to train an army of Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro; the FBI was charged with enforcing the federal Neutrality Act that makes it illegal to stage a military expedition against another country from U.S. territory. Kraslow had a blockbuster story. “It was about 1,500 words and it said the CIA was secretly recruiting and training Cuban exiles for some sort of major military operation against Castro,” he recalls. The Herald wouldn’t run it. Training of the Cuban exiles was moved out the United States to Guatemala. On Jan. 10, 1961, [The New York Times] published a story on the ... base in Guatemala. The day after that, the Herald published its own story. A little editor’s note explained that the Herald had held up the news “for more than two months”.
Note: Although JFK did not stop the Bay of Pigs debacle, his administration did successfully stop a Pentagon plan to fabricate acts of terrorism on US soil as a pretext for war with Cuba. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
When Americans look out at the world, we see a swarm of threats. China seems resurgent and ambitious. Russia is aggressive. Iran menaces our allies. Middle East nations we once relied on are collapsing in flames. Latin American leaders sound steadily more anti-Yankee. Terror groups capture territory and commit horrific atrocities. We fight Ebola with one hand while fending off Central American children with the other. In fact, this world of threats is an illusion. The United States has no potent enemies. We are not only safe, but safer than any big power has been in all of modern history. It will be generations before China is able to pose a serious challenge to the United States — and there is little evidence it wishes to do so. Russia is ... not always a friendly neighbor but no threat to the United States. Violence in the Middle East has no serious implication for American security. As for domestic terrorism, the risk for Americans is modest: You have more chance of being struck by lightning on your birthday than of dying in a terror attack. Promoting the image of a world full of enemies creates a “security psychosis” that misshapes our view of the world. In extreme cases, it pushes us into wars aimed at preempting threats that do not actually exist. Arms manufacturers profit from the security psychosis even more directly than militarists. Finding new threats is always good business for someone.
Note: Explore powerful evidence that ISIS is aided and was possibly even created by covert US support. Watch this video which shows how the US and its allies stoke war in order to pad the pockets of mega-corporations which profit greatly from arms sales. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Last week, FAIR noticed that not one major media organization in the United States has covered the charge, reported in Colombia, “that US military soldiers and contractors had sexually abused at least fifty-four children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007 and, in all cases, the rapists were never punished–either in Colombia or stateside–due to American military personnel being immune from prosecution under diplomatic immunity agreements.” One of the rapes ... was allegedly committed by Army sergeant Michael J. Coen and an employee of a private security contractor, César Ruiz. The victim was a 12-year-old girl. They abducted her, they drugged her, they took her to the air base near the town of Melgar and raped her, they took videos of her. Colombian prosecutors issued arrest warrants [that] were “not executed because of the immunity of Coen and Ruiz.” Under a series of treaties ... members of the US military stationed in Colombia are immune from prosecution. That immunity has since been extended to private security firms. Another serious sexual assault that, like the rape described above, was covered by the Colombian press, both in print and on TV, but ignored in the United States: in 2004, “53 underage girls were sexually abused by mercenaries, who filmed and sold the tapes as pornographic material.” The private security firm involved [was identified as] DynCorp, a Virginia-based contractor.
Note: Dyncorp is only slightly less infamous than Blackwater, having been involved in numerous international outrages, including a child sex slavery ring in Bosnia in 1999. Explore powerful evidence from a suppressed Discovery Channel documentary showing that child sexual abuse scandals reach to the highest levels of government. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about sexual abuse scandals from reliable major media sources.
John Oliver’s Monday night interview of Edward Snowden ... renewed all the standard attacks in Democratic circles accusing Snowden of being a traitor in cahoots with the Kremlin. What’s most striking about this — aside from the utter lack of evidence for any of it — is how identical it is to what Nixon officials said to smear the last generation’s greatest whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg. I defy anyone to listen to any Democratic apparatchik insinuate that Snowden is a Russian agent and identify any differences with how Nixon apparatchiks smeared Ellsberg (or, for that matter, how today’s warnings from Obama officials about the grave harm coming from leaks differ from the warnings issued by Bush and Nixon officials). The script for smearing never changes. One of the most illustrative examples of this: an April 1967 New York Times editorial harshly chastising Martin Luther King for his anti-war activism. That editorial was published three days after King’s speech on the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City, which ... denounced the U.S. government as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” as well as the leading exponent of “the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long.” The attack of the NYT editors on King for that speech is ... identical to how anti-war advocates in the U.S. are maligned today [by] Washington smear merchants.
Note: The media smear campaign against Dr. Martin Luther King was followed by his government-sponsored assassination, as a 1999 trial in Memphis, TN ultimately revealed. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the manipulation of mass media.
Gary Webb knew his story would cause a stir. The newspaper report he'd written suggested that a US-backed rebel army in Latin America was supplying the drugs responsible for blighting some of Los Angeles's poorest neighbourhoods – and, crucially, that the CIA must have known about it. [Webb's report, titled] "Dark Alliance" has been called one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism. Nineteen years on, the story of Webb’s investigation and its aftermath has been given the full Hollywood treatment. Kill the Messenger, based on his account of what happened and a book of the same name about the saga by journalist Nick Schou was recently released in cinemas. What Webb did that nobody else had was to follow the supply chain – right to the poverty stricken streets of Los Angeles. Webb summed up the heart of his ... series thus: “It is one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history. The union of a U.S. backed army attempting to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and the uzi-toting “gangstas” of Compton and South-Central Los Angeles.” Perhaps most damningly, Webb wrote that crack was virtually unobtainable in the city’s black neighbourhoods before “members of the CIA’s army” began supplying it. [In 1999], Webb said that after spending three years of his life looking into it, he was more convinced than ever that the U.S. Government's responsibility for the drug problems in South Central L.A. was “greater than I ever wrote in the newspaper.”
Note: Read an excellent, concise summary written by Gary Webb himself of what happened on this highly revealing Dark Alliance series. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing intelligence agency corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The US has set a new record for denying and censoring federal files under the Freedom of Information Act, analysis by the Associated Press reveals. For the second consecutive year, the Obama administration more often than ever censored government files or outright denied access to them under the open-government legislation. The government took longer to turn over files when it provided any, said more regularly that it couldn't find documents, and refused a record number of times to turn over files quickly that might be especially newsworthy. It also acknowledged in nearly one in three cases that its initial decisions to withhold or censor records were improper under the law - but only when it was challenged. Its backlog of unanswered requests at year's end grew remarkably by 55% to more than 200,000. Citizens, journalists, businesses and others made a record 714,231 requests for information. The US spent a record $434m trying to keep up. The government responded to 647,142 requests, a 4% decrease over the previous year. "What we discovered reaffirmed what we have seen all too frequently in recent years," [The AP's chief executive, Gary] Pruitt wrote in a column published this week. "The systems created to give citizens information about their government are badly broken and getting worse all the time."
Note: It appears the the UK's Guardian was the only major media to pick up this AP article. Is this a form of censorship? For more, read how the US government now blocks specific journalists from accessing information, or see concise summaries of news articles about mass media manipulation.
A senior writer at the Daily Telegraph has dramatically quit the newspaper after accusing its owners, the Barclay Brothers, of suppressing reports about the HSBC scandal out of fear of losing advertising revenue. Peter Oborne, the paper’s chief political commentator and an award-winning author, announced his resignation [and] accused the Telegraph of committing a “fraud” on readers. Mr Oborne detailed a series of investigations about HSBC, and other financial scandals, which he said executives at the newspaper had closed down. Mr Oborne wrote: “From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged [because] HSBC [had] suspended its advertising with the Telegraph. “Its account ... was extremely valuable. HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is ‘the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend’. “Winning back the HSBC advertising account became an urgent priority. It was eventually restored after approximately 12 months. Executives say that Murdoch MacLennan [chief executive of Telegraph Media Group] was determined not to allow any criticism of the international bank.” As a result of a 2012 investigation into accounts held by HSBC in Jersey, he claimed: “Reporters were ordered to destroy all emails, reports and documents related to the HSBC investigation. I [resigned] as a matter of conscience. The past few years have seen the rise of shadowy executives who determine what truths can and what truths can’t be conveyed across the mainstream media."
Note: Oborne's online resignation provides a unique window into some of the ways that big money is used to manipulate the media. Read lots more on HSBC's empire of corruption in a Rolling Stone article by Matt Taibbi. HSBC was founded to service the international drug trade in the 19th century, and launders money for mobsters and terrorists on a massive scale.
I have been the guest of both Jon Stewart and Brian Williams, the newsy comedian and the comedic newsman who announced very different sorts of leave-taking last week. As they depart — Mr. Stewart honorably, Mr. Williams with his integrity in doubt — I found myself recalling very different experiences on their shows. On Mr. Stewart’s show, the truth was a process; on Mr. Williams’s, it was an outcome. “The Daily Show” deconstructed purported truths. “Nightly News” took precarious facts and fallible “experts” and constructed them into something purporting to be Truth. An under-told aspect of Mr. Stewart’s legacy is how much his deconstructing spirit meant to many in the less open parts of the world. On a reporting trip to China some years ago, I was struck by the risks young people took to download the show illegally and, in some cases, to subtitle and disseminate it for others. I telephoned one such Stewart fan in Beijing to ask how she was coping with his departure. “We hope he can delay his resigning until after the 2016 election,” said Maggie Chen. “We’re not interested in your politics,” she said, adding: “We’re interested in the style of the show, and the idea that you can use jokes to tell the truth.” As a young Chinese woman living through a widening crackdown on free speech, Ms. Chen admires the show’s exploration of “the things behind the news or within the news.”
It’s not so much that more than a whopping 100 cases of measles have cropped up in California since December. It’s not even that concerns over the number of unvaccinated kids have been escalating in recent years. The reason measles is on the tip of so many people’s tongues these days, and the subject of so much sturm and drang in the media, is this: It’s a mild case of mass hysteria. The reality, doctors contend, is that chances of the potentially deadly disease once again becoming epidemic are nil. The virus was declared wiped out in the U.S. in 2000, and with more than 90 percent of the country still getting vaccinated, overall safety is still strong. The current measles outbreak began in December, when the illness cropped up at two Disneyland theme parks in Southern California. Within a month, smatterings of viral infections had spread throughout the state with a handful of cases showing up in other states. To date, California has reported nearly double the 61 measles cases reported all of last year. That’s ... considerably fewer than the tens of thousands of cases that were diagnosed across the nation in 1989 in another outbreak. But try telling that to parents of little kids who have become alarmed at ceaseless news reports of increasing cases. Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says one or two people in 1,000 with measles worldwide will die from the illness. That’s less deadly than ... tetanus, which globally kills up to 20 percent of its victims.
Note: How many mass media mass hysterias do we have to endure? Every couple years there’s a new killer plague about to devour us all. Today, it’s measles, a couple of months ago, it was Ebola. A few years ago, avian flu was going to do us in. And there was the swine flu, which turned out to be just a common flu. Of course governments worldwide paid Big Pharma billions to buy a special swine flu vaccine. Now it’s measles, and everybody has to get a shot or the drug companies won't make their billions. We definitely wouldn't want that!
Russia, the United States, Japan and many parts of Europe lost ground last year in its ranking of global press freedoms. The rise of non-state groups, crackdowns on demonstrations, wars and economic crises provided a backdrop for a tough 2014. The Paris-based media watchdog [Reporters Without Borders] said two-thirds of the 180 countries surveyed in its annual World Press Freedom index scored worse than a year earlier. Western Europe, while top-ranked, lost the most ground as a region. Three Nordic countries headed the list, but there was slippage in Italy — where Mafia and other threats weighed on journalists — and Iceland, where the relationship between the media and politicians soured. The U.S. fell three places to 49th amid a “war on information” by the Obama administration. Reporters also faced difficulty covering events like demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, where black teen Michael Brown was shot dead in August by a white police officer. Russia dropped two notches to 152nd place after passing “draconian laws” to limit freedom of information, the group said. Legislation allowing access to information helped Mongolia jump 34 spots — the highest single advance — to 54th place. China, Iran and North Korea all remained among the 10 lowest-ranked countries. The group uses seven criteria to calculate its index — measures for media independence, the diversity of opinions expressed, self-censorship, transparency, abuses and the legislative environment.
Note: For more on ongoing threats to press freedom, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation stories from reliable sources.
The New York Times on Tuesday republished its first-ever profile of Adolph Hitler and it seems the newspaper's "reliable, well-informed sources" were not so reliable. The Nov. 21, 1922 article - headlined "New Popular Idol Rises in Bavaria" - offers a profile of the 33-year-old leader of the so-called Bavarian Fascisti. While the paper accurately characterizes Hitler's hatred toward Jews and the popularity of his vitriolic public speeches, the Times also quotes sources who were just a bit off the mark. The Times wrote: "Several reliable, well-informed sources confirmed the idea that Hitler's anti-Semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-Semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of followers and keep them aroused, enthusiastic, and in line for the time when his organization is perfected and sufficiently powerful to be employed effectively for political purposes." The Times also quoted an unnamed politician who said Hitler was being politically deft for exaggerating his anti-Semitism. "You can't expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims," the newspaper quoted the politician as saying. "You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like anti-Semitism. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them." Two years later, on Dec. 21, 1924, the newspaper published another story with a headline that conveyed another questionable assessment of the future German chancellor: "Hitler Tamed By Prison."
Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, believes his newspaper – in company with the US mainstream media – failed their audiences after 9/11. He told the German news magazine Der Spiegel that he agreed with the criticism originally made by an NYT reporter, James Risen, Baquet said: “The mainstream press was not aggressive enough after 9/11, was not aggressive enough in asking questions about a decision to go to war in Iraq, was not aggressive enough in asking the hard questions about the war on terror. I accept that for the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times”. Baquet, in charge of the NYT since May 2014, was previously editor-in-chief of the LA Times. In his wide-ranging interview with Der Spiegel, Baquet also spoke about the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden having chosen to tell his story to the Guardian. He said he regards the Guardian as “a new competitor [for the NYT] in the digital age.” He said: “Does it make me nervous that they compete with us and in fact beat us on the Snowden story? Yes. "It hurt a lot. It meant two things. Morally, it meant that somebody with a big story to tell didn’t think we were the place to go, and that’s painful. And then it also meant that we got beaten on what was arguably the biggest national security story in many, many years.
Note: When asked about the New York Times' refusal to report on military drone base locations in the interview referenced above, Baquet recalls, "A high-ranking CIA official called me up and made the case to leave out where the drone base was. It was Saudi Arabia. I accepted it. And I was wrong." For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing articles about mass media manipulation.
Former CIA officer [Jeffrey Sterling] was convicted Monday of providing classified information about his work to a New York Times reporter. Guilty verdicts were read on all nine criminal counts. The prosecution ... spawned a First Amendment confrontation between a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and the Justice Department. It might be one of the greatest courtroom successes of a presidential administration that has pursued more leak cases than all of its predecessors combined. Other leak cases have resulted in pleas, at least one with terms favorable to the defendant. Sterling ... faced charges under the Espionage Act. [He] was first accused in 2010 of giving classified information to New York Times reporter and author James Risen for his 2006 book, “State of War.” Sterling, who was fired in the early 2000s, had sued the agency over alleged discrimination and also sparred with officials about publishing a memoir describing some of his work. The trial itself was something of a spectacle, with CIA officers testifying behind a retractable gray screen. The case against Sterling was largely circumstantial. There were no recorded phone conversations or captured e-mail exchanges that show that he leaked classified information to Risen. Defense attorneys posited several people other than Sterling who could have served as Risen’s sources, and ... argued that some information in the book could not have come from Sterling, because it addressed things that happened after he left the CIA.
Note: James Risen tried to help Jeffrey Sterling expose CIA racism, and later wrote an unrelated book exposing some questionable government practices. Now Sterling is going to prison for what Risen wrote then. Risen's journalistic courage remains intact, and his latest book exposes major government corruption related to the war on terror.
The outrageous legal attack on WikiLeaks and its staffers ... is an attack on freedom of the press itself. WikiLeaks has had their Twitter accounts secretly spied on, been forced to forfeit most of their funding after credit card companies unilaterally cut them off, had the FBI place an informant inside their news organization, watched their supporters hauled before a grand jury, and been the victim of the UK spy agency GCHQ hacking of their website and spying on their readers. Now we’ve learned that, as The Guardian reported on Sunday, the Justice Department got a warrant in 2012 to seize the contents – plus the metadata on emails received, sent, drafted and deleted – of three WikiLeaks’ staffers personal Gmail accounts. The tactics used against WikiLeaks by the Justice Department in their war on leaks [are] also used against mainstream news organizations. For example, after the Washington Post revealed in 2013 the Justice Department had gotten a warrant for the personal Gmail account of Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010 without his knowledge. Despite the ongoing legal pressure, WikiLeaks has continued to publish important documents in the public interest.
Note: In recent years, Wikileaks' radical transparency has made draft texts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership public, and uncovered a secret CIA report that suggests the US government’s policy of assassinating foreign 'terrorists' does more harm than good. So who is the real problem here?
A man is given 50 lashes in a public square for "insulting Islam" on a liberal blog. Another is arrested for filming and uploading a woman's public beheading. Two females are imprisoned and put on trial for writing on Twitter in support of women driving. The cases are part of a sweeping clampdown on dissent. Acts that offend the country's religious hard-liners or open up the kingdom to criticism â€” like the video of the execution of a woman convicted of murdering her stepdaughter â€” have landed people in jail as a warning to others. The case of Raif Badawi, a 31-year-old father of three who was flogged this month, has attracted the most attention in recent days, particularly in the aftermath of the deadly attack in Paris. Badawi was arrested in 2012 after writing articles critical of Saudi Arabia's clerics on his Free Saudi Liberals blog. He was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes and was fined $266,000. Just days after the attacks in Paris, Saudi Arabia's minister of state for foreign affairs took part in the huge march that was held there to support free speech and honor the victims. Two days earlier, Badawi was flogged [for "insulting Islam" on his blog]. Critics of the crackdown on dissent point out that public beheadings are also practiced by al-Qaida and IS.
Note: Saudi Arabia continues to be a key ally of the US. Is this really what we want to support? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about civil liberties from reliable major media sources.
The [recent] holiday headlines blared: “End of War” and “Mission Ends” and “U.S. formally ends the war in Afghanistan." Great news! Except: “the fighting is as intense as it has ever been since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001,” according to the Wall Street Journal. And about 10,000 troops will remain there for the foreseeable future. They’ll continue to engage in combat regularly. This is the new reality of war: As long as the White House doesn’t admit the United States is at war, we’re all supposed to pretend as if that’s true. This ruse is not just the work of the president. Members of Congress [are also] letting the public think we’re Definitely Not at War. Another place the United States is Definitely Not at War? Pakistan, where, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the US conducted multiple drone strikes between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, killing at least nine people. Another six “militants” were reportedly killed in a drone strike in Pakistan on Sunday. There was yet another American drone strike in Somalia on 30 December. Meanwhile, the Defense Department quietly announced ... that, later this month, another 1,300 troops will deploy to Iraq in its ever-expanding undeclared war on Isis. The US continues to launch airstrikes against Isis and various other groups in Syria as well. Legal experts across the political spectrum believe this war is without precedent.
Note: Although 21st Century military combat operations may no longer be called war, war has been called a racket since the era of General Smedley Butler, one of the most highly decorated US generals ever. Read General Butler's eye-opening essay "War is a Racket." For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war news articles from reliable major media sources.
Former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has sued the Justice Department over the hacking of her computers, officially accusing the Obama administration of illegal surveillance while she was reporting on administration scandals. In a series of legal filings that seek $35 million in damages, Attkisson alleges that three separate computer forensic exams showed that hackers used sophisticated methods to surreptitiously monitor her work between 2011 and 2013. The intruders installed and periodically refreshed software to steal data and obtain passwords on her home and work computers. She also charges that the hackers monitored her audio using a Skype account. The award-winning reporter says she and her attorneys have "pretty good evidence" that these efforts were "connected" to the Justice Department. She said she was caught in a "Catch-22," forcing her to use the lawsuit and an administrative complaint to discover more about the surveillance through the discovery process and to learn the identities of the "John Does" named in the complaints. Attkisson learned through a Freedom of Information request that the FBI opened an investigation of the hacking case in May 2013, but says the bureau never interviewed her or even notified her of the probe. Attkisson resigned from CBS last March after complaining that she was increasingly unable to get her investigative stories on the air. She has published a best-selling book, "Stonewalled," about her battles against the network and the administration.
Note: Fox News was the only major media to cover this important case. Read a judge's supportive comments about this important case on Ms. Attkisson's website. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about government corruption and the disappearance of privacy.
The identity of the Sony hackers is still unknown. President Obama, in a December 19 press conference, announced: “We can confirm that North Korea engaged in this attack.” He then vowed: “We will respond. We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States.” The ... campaign to blame North Korea actually began two days earlier, when The New York Times [reported] that North Korea was ‘centrally involved’ in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers. The same day, The Washington Post ... devoted most of its discussion to the “retaliation” available to the U.S. The NYT and Post [did not note] how sparse and unconvincing was the available evidence against North Korea. The day before Obama’s press conference, long-time expert Marc Rogers detailed his reasons for viewing the North Korea theory as “unlikely”; after Obama’s definitive accusation, he comprehensively reviewed the disclosed evidence and was even more assertive: “there is NOTHING here that directly implicates the North Koreans” and “the evidence is flimsy and speculative at best.” None of this expert skepticism made its way into countless media accounts of the Sony hack. North Korea was [reported to be] responsible for the hack, because the government said it was. That kind of reflexive embrace of government claims is ... dangerous [because such] claims can serve as a pretext for U.S. aggression.
Note: Read the complete article above to see why Glen Greenwald compares this propaganda campaign with the run-up to the Iraq War and the Gulf of Tonkin fraud. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles about mass media deception from reliable sources.
Cybersecurity experts are questioning the FBI's claim that North Korea is responsible for the hack that crippled Sony Pictures. Kurt Stammberger, a senior vice president with cybersecurity firm Norse, told CBS News his company has data that doubts some of the FBI's findings. While Norse is not involved in the Sony case, it has done its own investigation. "We are very confident that this was not an attack master-minded by North Korea and that insiders were key to the implementation of one of the most devastating attacks in history," said Stammberger. He says Norse data is pointing towards a woman who calls herself "Lena" and claims to be connected with the so-called "Guardians of Peace" hacking group. Norse believes it's identified this woman as someone who worked at Sony in Los Angeles for ten years until leaving the company this past May. "There are certainly North Korean fingerprints on this but when we run all those leads to ground they turn out to be decoys or red herrings," said Stammberger. For instance while the malware used to attack Sony has been used by North Korea before, it is also used by hackers around the world every day. It's worth noting that the original demand of the hackers was for money from Sony in exchange for not releasing embarrassing information. There was no mention of the movie "The Interview." The FBI is still continuing its investigation into the Sony hack.
Note: There appears to be much more to the Sony hacking than meets the eye. Read a wired.com article showing among other things that both Sony and the FBI deny the North Korea connection.
Ever since the torture report was released last week, U.S. television outlets have endlessly featured American torturers and torture proponents. But there was one group that was almost never heard from: the victims of their torture. The War on Terror generally has been “reported” for 13 years and counting by completely silencing those whose lives are destroyed or ended by U.S. crimes. In 2002, Maher [Arar], a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent who worked as an engineer, was travelling back home to Ottawa when he was abducted by the U.S. Government at JFK Airport, [secretly] interrogated for weeks, then “rendered” to Syria where the U.S. arranged to have him brutally tortured ... for 10 months. He was completely innocent, [and was] unceremoniously released back to his life in Canada as though nothing had happened. U.S. courts refused even to hear his case, accepting the Obama DOJ’s claim that it was too secret to safely adjudicate. The Canadian government ... publicly apologized for its role, and paid him $9 million. There are hundreds if not thousands of Maher Arars the U.S. media could easily and powerfully interview. The detainees held without charges, tortured, and then unceremoniously released from Guantanamo and Bagram are rarely if ever heard from on U.S. television, even when the U.S. Government is forced to admit that they were guilty of nothing.
James Risen, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for exposing the NSA warrantless eavesdropping program, has [been] threatened with prison by the Obama Justice Department. [This] is almost certainly the vindictive by-product of the U.S. government’s anger over his NSA reporting. He has published a new book on the War on Terror entitled Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War. Risen's [critique] is one of the first to offer large amounts of original reporting on ... a particular part of the War on Terror, namely the way in which economic motives, what [he] calls the Homeland Security Industrial Complex, has driven a huge part of the war. GLENN GREENWALD: How much of this economic motive is the cause of the fact that we’ve now been at war for 13 years? RISEN: It plays a really central role. After so many years there’s ... a post-9/11 mercenary class that’s developed that have invested. Not just people who are making money, but people who are in the government. Their status and their power within the government are invested in continuing the war. There’s very little debate about whether to continue the war. When Dick Cheney said, “the gloves come off,” ... that really meant, “We’re going to deregulate national security, and we’re going to take off all the rules that were imposed in the ’70s after Watergate.” That was just a dramatic change. It’s been extended to this whole new homeland security apparatus. People think that terrorism is an existential threat, even though it’s not, and so they’re willing to go along with all this.
Note: The complete interview at the link above provides details of James Risen's fight to preserve journalistic integrity against a corrupted government's attempts to manipulate the news. For more on Risen's deeply revealing investigation of the Homeland Security Industrial Complex, see this recent NPR interview.
The security services are facing questions over the cover-up of a Westminster paedophile ring as it emerged that files relating to official requests for media blackouts in the early 1980s were destroyed. Two newspaper executives have told the Observer that their publications were issued with D-notices – warnings not to publish intelligence that might damage national security – when they sought to report on allegations of a powerful group of men engaging in child sex abuse in 1984. One executive said he had been accosted in his office by 15 uniformed and two non-uniformed police over a dossier on Westminster paedophiles passed to him by the former Labour cabinet minister Barbara Castle. The other said that his newspaper had received a D-notice when a reporter sought to write about a police investigation into Elm Guest House, in southwest London, where a group of high-profile paedophiles was said to have operated. Theresa May, home secretary, this month told the Commons that an official review into whether there had been a cover-up of the Home Office’s handling of child-abuse allegations in the 1980s ... was prompted by the discovery that 114 Home Office files related to child abuse in the 1980s had gone missing. The two journalists, Don Hale, the former editor of the Bury Messenger, and Hilton Tims, news editor of the Surrey Comet between 1980 and 1988, both recall their publications being issued with D-notices around 1984.
Note: Explore powerful evidence from a suppressed Discovery Channel documentary showing that child sexual abuse scandals also reach to the highest levels of government in the US. For more along these lines, see these concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption and sex abuse scandal news articles from reliable sources.
It has been more than two years since The New York Times revealed that “Mr. Obama embraced a disputed method for counting civilian casualties” of his drone strikes which “in effect counts all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants ... unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.” The paper noted that “this counting method may partly explain the official claims of extraordinarily low collateral deaths,” and even quoted CIA officials as deeply “troubled” by this decision. After the Times article, most large western media outlets continued to describe completely unknown victims of U.S. drone attacks as “militants” — even though they (a) had no idea who those victims were or what they had done and (b) were well-aware by that point that the term had been “re-defined” by the Obama administration. Like the U.S. drone program itself, this deceitful media practice continues unabated. The U.S. government itself —let alone the media outlets calling them “militants”— often has no idea who has been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan. The Intercept previously reported that targeting decisions can even be made on the basis of nothing more than metadata analysis and tracking of SIM cards in mobile phones. Just last month, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that “fewer than 4% of the people killed have been identified by available records as named members of al Qaeda.”
In an astonishing media tour following her resignation from CBS News last spring, correspondent Sharyl Attkisson sat before interviewers ranging from radio host Chris Stigall to CNN media correspondent Brian Stelter and launched attacks on her newly former employer. “With various stories, you do get the idea at some point that they want you to stop, especially if you start to dig down right into something very, very important. And it’s not just with political stories - it’s with stories that go after other interests, corporations, different things,” Attkisson told Stigall. Perhaps the most spectacular allegation against Attkisson’s former employer relates to influence by corporate interests on the news product. Despite the hassles, Attkisson and her colleagues plow ahead with such stories. Until she catches wind that the bureau chief has requested to see her notes on a story about “an American Red Cross disaster response.” After Attkisson complains that it’s inappropriate to ask to see the notes, the bureau chief says, “I know. I don’t know what else to do.” Discouragement of Attkisson’s reporting, confesses the bureau chief, comes from powerful forces within CBS News. “We must do nothing to upset our corporate partners,” says the bureau chief, per [Attkisson's book] “Stonewalled.”
Note: There is much more to this story. Please read the analysis of top independent reporter Jon Rappoport on this webpage showing how sharp investigative reporters who threaten the powers that be are forced out, as Attkisson was. And watch Attkisson give a Tedx Talk on how the public is deceived in dangerous ways be powerful corporations and interests. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles from reliable sources.
The FBI confirmed Tuesday it faked an Associated Press story to catch a bomb threat suspect in 2007. Police in Lacey, near Olympia, sought the FBI's help as repeated bomb threats prompted a week of evacuations at Timberline High School in June 2007. The agency obtained a warrant from a federal magistrate judge to send a "communication" to a social media account ... which contained a software tool that could verify Internet addresses, (and) turned out to be a link to a phony AP story about the bomb threats posted on a Web page created by the FBI. The 15-year-old suspect clicked on the link, revealing his computer's location. The FBI did not initially respond to AP's request earlier Tuesday for further detail about the fake story, beyond saying the ruse was necessary. AP spokesman Paul Colford said Tuesday the FBI's "ploy violated AP's name and undermined AP's credibility." "We are extremely concerned and find it unacceptable that the FBI misappropriated the name of The Associated Press and published a false story attributed to AP." Kathy Best, editor of The Seattle Times, said in a statement that, "The FBI, in placing the name of The Associated Press on a phony story sent to a criminal suspect, crossed a line and undermined the credibility of journalists everywhere — including at The Times." The documents revealing the deception were publicized Monday on Twitter by Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing stories about questionable intelligence agency practices from reliable sources.
The intrusions into former CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s computers constitute the narrative spine of the reporter’s new book “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.” In October 2012, right in the midst of the Benghazi story ... a person who’s identified as “Jeff” warns Attkisson: “I’ve been reading your reports online about Benghazi. It’s pretty incredible. Keep at it. But you’d better watch out.” So CBS News hires an independent computer analyst whom Attkisson identifies as "Jerry Patel." He finds a massive amount of suspicious activity in the computer. Intrusions of this caliber, concludes “Patel,” are “far beyond the the abilities of even the best nongovernment hackers.” In summing up, Attkisson writes, “Everything Patel has found serves to confirm my January source and analysis. Patel tells me that only a few entities possess these skills. One of them is the U.S. government. [Computer security specialist] Don Allison ... takes a close look at Attkisson’s iMac. The results: “While a great deal of data has been expertly wiped in an attempt to cover-up the deed, Don is able to find remnants of what was once there. There’s key evidence of a government computer connection to my computer. A sort of backdoor link that leads to an ISP address for a government computer that can’t be accessed by the general public on the Web. It’s an undeniable link to the U.S. government.”
TLC cancelled ”Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” on Friday after photos surfaced of star Mama June hanging out with a convicted child molester. In August, “Sons of Guns” star Will Hayden was arrested on multiple rape charges against minors. Discovery, which owns TLC, swiftly cancelled that show, too. In 2013, reality TV producer Donald Luciano – who worked on some episodes of “Beverly’s Full House” about the life of former supermodel Beverly Johnson – pled guilty to possession of images of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. So does reality TV have a pedophile problem? “The issue is not just about reality TV. Hollywood bears a lot of responsibility normalizing this behavior by sexualizing young girls,” said Dan Gainor, Vice President of Culture at the Media Research Center. “Too bad director Roman Polanski doesn’t get the (quick cancellation) treatment. He got an Oscar and a standing ovation and he raped a 13-year-old girl. ”Alec Shankman, Head of Alternative Programming & Digital Media at Abrams Artists Agency, noted that reality TV background checks are extremely thorough. “In the ‘Honey Boo Boo’ scenario, the guy wasn’t even on the show,” he said. "I wouldn’t say it is a problem in the genre, certainly no bigger than throughout the rest of Hollywood.” California-based criminal defense attorney Leo Terrell of CleartheCourt.com, noted that “The abuse is magnified when one of these predators appeared on a reality television show and/or is a public figure.”
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sex abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
Breast cancer giant Susan G. Komen has found its strangest bedfellow yet in one of the world’s largest oilfield services corporations, Baker Hughes. The two have teamed up for a second year to distribute 1,000 pink drill bits to oil fields worldwide. This is just the latest example of “pinkwashing” – when a company or organization claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink-ribbon product but at the same time manufactures or sells products that are linked to the disease. Pinkwashing has become a central component of the breast cancer industry: a web of relationships and financial arrangements between corporations that cause cancer, companies making billions off diagnosis and treatment, nonprofits seeking to support patients or even to cure cancer, and public relations agencies that divert attention from the root causes of disease. The partnership with fracking company Baker Hughes is among the worst examples of Komen’s pinkwashing so far. More than 700 chemicals are used in the process of drilling and fracking for oil and gas. In a study of about 350 of those chemicals, researchers found that up to half can cause health problems, including nervous, immune and cardiovascular symptoms. More than one-third can disrupt the hormone system. And a quarter of the chemicals, such as benzene and formaldehyde, increase the risk of cancer. Baker Hughes is doing more to cause breast cancer than to cure it. And Komen, with its poisonous partnerships, is giving Baker Hughes — and many other companies — the perfect pink disguise.
Note: For more along these lines, read this Los Angeles Times article about how fracking introduces carcinogens into drinking water, and see concise summaries of deeply revealing corporate corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
David Bronner, CEO of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps, presides over a company with famously wacky product labels. But Bronner himself, grandson of the founder ... has emerged as a serious, though fun-loving, activist, particularly around pesticides and genetically modified crops. Bronner's writing on GMOs is too hot for the advertising pages of the English-speaking world's two most renowned science journals, Science and Nature - even though a slew of magazines ... accepted the Bronner ad. It consists of a short essay, known in publishing as an advertorial, [and] focuses on how GMO crops have led to a net increase in pesticide use in the United States, citing an analysis by Ramon Seidler, a retired senior staff scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency. Bronner ... first published his critique on Huffington Post, and then decided to publish it as an ad in a variety of high-profile magazines. Science was close to accepting it. An ad sales manager for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which published the magazine, emailed on September 15 that she would send over paper work "in a bit," adding that "[a]fter you sign it, I can take your credit card info." The price: $9,911.00. But hours later, she wrote back, squashing the deal: "This has gone up the ladder quite far and our CEO along with the board have come back saying that we cannot accept the ad. We're concerned about backlash from our members and potentially getting into a battle with the GMO industry."
Note: See the original ad at this link. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation and the GMO controversy from reliable major media sources.
TERRY GROSS: James Risen [is] an investigative reporter for The New York Times. He, along with Eric Lichtbau, broke the story about warrantless wiretapping. Now Risen is facing a prison sentence for refusing to reveal his source or sources for that story. [Risen] has a new book called "Pay Any Price: Greed, Power And Endless War," which is a series of investigations into who's making money on the War on Terror and what are some of the secret operations within it. You recently wrote an article in The New York Times with Laura Poitras who broke the Edward Snowden story along with Glenn Greenwald. And you reported on how American intelligence is trying to harvest facial imagery with the intention of - what's it for? RISEN: Facial recognition ... in a way that no [one] really understood before has become a central focus of the NSA today. They can link that up with a signals intelligence, which is the communications that they intercept [and] basically find where you are, what you're doing, who you're seeing and virtually anything about you in real time. GROSS: So ... your big story turned out kind of differently than the celebrations facing Woodward and Bernstein. RISEN: I think the times have changed. We had this period in journalism for about 30 years where there was the government and the press. The government ... wouldn't go after whistleblowers or reporters very aggressively. It's only after the - after 9/11 and after the plane case, which you may remember where Judy Miller was sent to jail. I think the post-9/11 age, the government has decided to become much more aggressive against reporters and whistleblowers.
Note: The above quotes are from the transcript of a radio interview that you can listen to by clicking on the news story link provided. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing stories about high level manipulation of mass media from reliable sources.
As part of their insurgency against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua, some of the C.I.A.-backed contras made money through drug smuggling, transgressions noted in a little-noticed 1988 Senate subcommittee report. Gary Webb, a journalist at The San Jose Mercury News, thought it was a far-fetched story to begin with, but in 1995 and 1996, he dug in and produced a deeply reported and deeply flawed three-part series called “Dark Alliance.” That groundbreaking series was among the first to blow up on the nascent web, and he was initially celebrated, then investigated and finally discredited. Pushed out of journalism in disgrace, he committed suicide in 2004. [The movie] “Kill the Messenger” ... suggests that he told a truth others were unwilling to. Mr. Webb was not the first journalist to come across [such matters]. In December 1985, The Associated Press reported that three contra groups had “engaged in cocaine trafficking, in part to help finance their war against Nicaragua.” Major news outlets mostly gave the issue a pass. Peter Landesman, an investigative journalist who wrote the screenplay, was struck by the reflex to go after Mr. Webb. “Planeloads of weapons were sent south from the U.S., and everyone knows that those planes didn’t come back empty, but the C.I.A. made sure that they never knew for sure what was in those planes,” he said. “But instead of going after that, they went after Webb." In 1998, Frederick P. Hitz, the C.I.A. inspector general, testified before the House Intelligence Committee that after looking into the matter at length, he believed the C.I.A. was a bystander — or worse — in the war on drugs. However dark or extensive, the alliance Mr. Webb wrote about was a real one.
Note: Webb's story was not deeply flawed, as reported in this article. His editor even commented that four Washington Post writers could not find one significant factual error, but then changed his mind after CIA leaders threatened the paper. Read a Sacrament Bee newspaper article for more on Webb and his story. For more along these lines, see the excellent, reliable resources provided in our Mass Media Information Center.
Qatar has become a hostile target for two nations with significant influence in the U.S.: Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Israel is furious over Qatar’s support for Palestinians ... while the UAE is upset that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This animosity has resulted in a new campaign in the west to demonize the Qataris as the key supporter of terrorism. The Israelis have chosen the direct approach of publicly accusing their new enemy in Doha of being terrorist supporters, while the UAE has opted for a more covert strategy: paying millions of dollars to a U.S. lobbying firm – composed of former high-ranking Treasury officials from both parties – to plant anti-Qatar stories with American journalists. That more subtle tactic has been remarkably successful, and shines important light on how easily political narratives in U.S. media discourse can be literally purchased. The Camstoll Group [has] key figures [who] are all former senior Treasury Department officials ... whose responsibilities included managing the U.S. government’s relationships with Persian Gulf regimes and Israel. Most have backgrounds as neoconservative activists. Camstoll’s Managing Director, Howard Mendelsohn, was Acting Assistant Secretary of Treasury, where he also had ample policy responsibilities involving the Emirates. In other words, a senior Treasury official responsible for U.S. policy toward the Emirates leaves the U.S. government and forms a new lobbying company, which is then instantly paid millions of dollars by the very same country for which he was responsible, all to use his influence, access and contacts for its advantage. The UAE spends more than any other country in the world to influence U.S. policy and shape domestic debate, and it pays former high-level government officials who worked with it ... to carry out its agenda within the U.S.
The police response to the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. — which included heavily armed militarized police clashing with protesters in the St. Louis suburb — is a case study for how not to manage a crisis. The St. Louis Police Academy seems to agree, offering a new fall course that teaches "tactics, skills and techniques that will help you WIN WITH THE MEDIA!" According to the Oct. 24 program's description, the "highly entertaining" class will cover lessons learned from both Ferguson and Newtown: • Meet the 900-Pound Gorilla • Feeding the Animals • "No Comment" is a comment • Dont' Get Stuck on Stupid! • Managing Media Assault and Battery. The one-day course, led by former WGN anchor-turned-public relations consultant Rick Rosenthal, is aimed at "upper-echelon law enforcement professionals" who expect to face the media, including "top-level decision-makers," supervisors and public information officers. During the protests, the city of Ferguson retained a PR firm to help its communications department deal with the "large volume of media queries." But some criticized the city for hiring a firm, Common Ground, with an all-white staff.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Michael Specter's recent articles bashing Vandana Shiva and the labeling of genetically engineered foods (Seeds of Doubt and The Problem with G.M.O. Labels) in the New Yorker are the latest high-profile pro-GMO articles that fail to engage with the fundamental critique of genetically engineered food crops in US soil today: rather than reduce pesticide inputs GMOs are causing them to skyrocket in amount and toxicity. Setting the record straight, Dr. Ramon J. Seidler, Ph.D., former Senior Scientist, Environmental Protection Agency, has recently published a well-researched article documenting the devastating facts, "Pesticide Use on Genetically Engineered Crops," in Environmental Working Group's online AgMag. Dr. Seidler's article cites and links recent scientific literature and media reports, and should be required reading for all journalists covering GMOs, as well as for citizens generally to understand why their right to know if food is genetically engineered is so important. Over 99% of GMO acreage is engineered by chemical companies to tolerate heavy herbicide (glyphosate) use and/or produce insecticide (Bt) in every cell of every plant over the entire growing season. The result is massive selection pressure that has rapidly created pest resistance - the opposite of integrated pest management. Predictably ... we now have huge swaths of the country infested with "superweeds" and "superbugs" resistant to glyphosate and Bt, meaning more volume of more toxic pesticides are being applied.
Note: The negative health impacts of Monsanto's Roundup are well known. Major lawsuits are building over Monsanto's lies to regulators and the public about the safety of glyphosate. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing GMO news articles from reliable major media sources.
A prominent national security reporter for the Los Angeles Times routinely submitted drafts and detailed summaries of his stories to CIA press handlers prior to publication, according to documents obtained by The Intercept. Email exchanges between CIA public affairs officers and Ken Dilanian, now an Associated Press intelligence reporter who previously covered the CIA for the Times, show that Dilanian enjoyed a closely collaborative relationship with the agency, explicitly promising positive news coverage and sometimes sending the press office entire story drafts for review prior to publication. In at least one instance, the CIA’s reaction appears to have led to significant changes in the story that was eventually published in the Times. Dilanian’s emails were included in hundreds of pages of documents that the CIA turned over in response to two FOIA requests seeking records on the agency’s interactions with reporters. They include email exchanges with reporters for the Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. In addition to Dilanian’s deferential relationship with the CIA’s press handlers, the documents show that the agency regularly invites journalists to its McLean, Va., headquarters for briefings and other events.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing major media corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Washington’s elite media, as usual, ... are baying for war. They are ... essentially demanding a major military assault [on ISIS]. Watching post-invasion reality in the region should have made it clear to anyone paying any attention at all that ... military action kills not just enemies but innocent civilians, creates refugee crises, ... further destabilizes entire regions, and alters the future in unanticipated and sometimes disastrous ways. In a nation that considers itself peaceful and civilized, the case for military action should be overwhelmingly stronger than the case against. It must face, and survive, aggressive questioning. There is no reason to expect that kind of pushback from within Congress — leading figures ... are falling into line with the hawkish consensus for some sort of action. And Vice President Joe Biden [said on September 3] that the U.S. will follow ISIS “to the gates of hell“. In the absence of a coherent opposition party or movement, it’s the Fourth Estate’s duty to ask those questions, and demand not just answers, but evidence to back up those answers. [In an interview,] Paul R. Pillar, formerly the CIA’s top Middle East analyst, ... marveled at the “kind of mass emotional phenomenon” based in part on the recent barbaric beheadings of captured free-lance journalists and the scary maps that make it seem like ISIS is about to take Baghdad. But, he said, the press is “getting excited in a way that I think has been blown well out of proportion.” Have we considered whether part of the group’s purpose is to provoke more U.S. intervention?
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing major media corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The video of James Foley’s execution may have been staged, with the actual murder taking place off-camera. Forensic analysis of the footage of the journalist’s death has suggested that the British jihadist in the film may have been the frontman rather than the killer. The clip, which apparently depicts Mr Foley’s brutal beheading, has been widely seen as a propaganda coup for Islamic State militant group. But a study ... carried out by an international forensic science company which has worked for police forces across Britain, suggested camera trickery and slick post-production techniques appear to have been used. A forensic analyst told The Times that no blood can be seen, even though the knife is drawn across the neck area at least six times. “After enhancements, the knife can be seen to be drawn across the upper neck at least six times, with no blood evidence to the point the picture fades to black,” the analysis said. Sounds allegedly made by Foley do not appear consistent with what may be expected. During Foley’s speech, there appears to be a blip which could indicate the journalist had to repeat a line. One expert commissioned to examine the footage was reported as saying: “I think it has been staged. My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped.”
Note: It is widely suspected by those in the know that many of the beheadings by alleged terrorists are staged by groups working with those who want to promote fear in our world to drive up war profiteering. For more on this, read this media article. Explore also powerful evidence that ISIS is aided and was possibly even created by covert US support.
It was revealed this week that many government information officers block specific journalists they don't like from accessing information. The news comes as 47 federal inspectors general sent a letter to lawmakers criticizing "serious limitations on access to records" that they say have "impeded" their oversight work. The data about public information officers was compiled over the past few years by Kennesaw State University professor Carolyn Carlson. Her surveys found that 4 in 10 public information officers say "there are specific reporters they will not allow their staff to talk to due to problems with their stories in the past." Carlson has conducted surveys of journalists and public information officers since 2012. In her most recent survey of 445 working journalists, four out of five reported that "their interviews must be approved" by government information officers, and "more than half of the reporters said they had actually been prohibited from interviewing [government] employees at least some of the time by public information officers." The Associated Press reported earlier this year that in 2013 "the government cited national security to withhold information a record 8,496 times — a 57 percent increase over a year earlier and more than double Obama's first year." This week's letter from more than half of the federal government's inspectors general [said] that government agencies' move to hide information from them represents a "potentially serious challenge to the authority of every Inspector General and our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner."
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government secrecy news articles from reliable major media sources.
The New York Times announced on [August 7] that it will use the word torture to describe the United States' controversial interrogation tactics on terror suspects. "From now on, The Times will use the word “torture” to describe incidents in which we know for sure that interrogators inflicted pain on a prisoner in an effort to get information," said Times executive editor Dean Baquet. In the past, the Times had been sharply criticized for not using the word torture. Instead, [it] had referred to torture as "brutal interrogation," or similar epithets. The Times is hardly the only major media outlet to avoid using the word "torture." Reuters referred to the tactics as "brutal interrogation methods" and the AP has called them "enhanced interrogation techniques." The media have been accused of following along with President Bush's denial that the U.S. does not use torture. Banquet [says] that "while the methods set off a national debate, the Justice Department insisted that the techniques did not rise to the legal definition of 'torture.'” Baquet said that reporters and editors had debated the issue in wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report, which has yet to be released. Last week, President Obama admitted that the CIA "tortured some folks" in post-9/11 anti-terror efforts.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media cover-ups news articles from reliable major media sources.
It’s a mythical number that skeptics never question. And it’s come up again and again in the national press for decades. It’s purportedly the number of victims from the infamous child sexual abuse cases of the 1980s and 1990s. Not child victims, though. The victims are said to be adults who were falsely charged and often convicted of sexual abuse, victims of a witch-hunt. Christina Hoff Sommers used the number just a few weeks ago in a Time column, referring to those cases and writing that “hundreds of innocent adults faced charges of ritual child abuse.” She was echoing a January article in Slate. The list goes back over the years. The number of accused or jailed is always impressive. But the numbers don’t add up. There’s no evidence of hundreds of cases of false convictions of child sexual abuse in this era. In my new book, The Witch-Hunt Narrative, I examine dozens of specific cases from the 1980s and early 90s that are said to be wrongful prosecutions or wrongful convictions. Looking closely at the record revealed substantial evidence of abuse and compelling reasons that jurors voted to convict. While the media publicizes sexual abuse stories about celebrities and cover-ups of abuse in the past, and repeats the mythical numbers from the witch-hunt narrative, they overlook a real number that concerns real victims - the number of children being sexually abused today.
Note: For solid evidence that rogue elements of government are involved in systematic child abuse sometimes with Satanic elements, see this excellent essay. Watch a disturbing seven-minute clip from a 1988 show of Geraldo interviewing Satanist Lt. Col. Michael Aquino and Ted Gunderson, former chief of the FBI's Los Angeles division. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing sexual abuse scandal news articles from reliable major media sources.
[Phil Donahue:] I [have] produced ... an anti-Iraq War documentary. It’s titled “Body of War,” and it is available on Netflix. I’d very much like you to see the behavior of the [US] congressmen [in my film]. They were summoned to the White House by WHIG, White House Iraq Group. This is a Karl Rove committee that included the advertising warriors who named our invasion “Shock and Awe,” and “Rolling Thunder,” like video games. And they gave them their talking points: “A smoking gun will become a mushroom cloud”; “The longer we wait, the more dangerous he becomes”; “Saddam has more weapons of mass destruction than Hitler ever had”; “I see Hitler in Saddam Hussein.” And they read this, they’re looking down at the piece of paper, in what was at most a shell debate, that led to the deaths of over 4,500 service people, men and women both, not to mention how many injuries, we’re not even sure, we’re not even sure how many Iraqis are dead, and the refugees are in the millions. This is unbelievable. You’ve got to see this debate. It’s truly a very instructive piece on what you can do if you scare the people. George Bush took this nation, the mainstream media included, and led it right into this war. It was an amazingly executed, brilliantly executed, plan. The politics of fear. We haven’t won a war, and we’re spending $2 billion a day on things that go “boom.” We have become a warrior nation. We have no respect for diplomacy. We have to be tough, and we don’t talk to people we don’t like.
Note: Learn lots more about the politics of fear by watching online the BBC documentary Power of Nightmares. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing government corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The lead-up to the war in Iraq in 2003 was not The Times’s finest hour. Some of the news reporting was flawed, driven by outside agendas and lacking in needed skepticism. Many Op-Ed columns promoted the idea of a war that turned out to be both unfounded and disastrous. Readers have not forgotten. In recent weeks, with Iraq in chaos, military intervention there again has been under consideration, and readers are on high alert. Given The Times’s troubled history when it comes to this subject, readers have good reason to be wary about what appears in the paper about military intervention in Iraq. Many readers have complained ... that The Times is amplifying the voices of hawkish neoconservatives and serving as a megaphone for anonymously sourced administration leaks, while failing to give voice to those who oppose intervention. The readers have a point worth considering. On the Op-Ed pages and in the news columns, there have been very few outside voices of those who opposed the war last time, or those who reject the use of force now. But the neoconservatives and interventionists are certainly being heard. A recent profile of the historian Robert Kagan, a leading proponent of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 who is once more in the news, was one focus of sharp reader criticism. The coverage has not featured the kind of in-depth attention that readers want as a counterbalance to pieces like the one on Mr. Kagan.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
A U.S. soldier imprisoned for leaking documents to WikiLeaks broke her silence in a fiery editorial accusing the United States of lying about Iraq. Chelsea [formerly Bradley] Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking 750,000 pages of classified documents to the anti-secrecy group. Manning has stayed out of the limelight since the conviction. But she was back Saturday, with an opinion piece titled "The Fog Machine of War" in The New York Times. In it, she accuses the U.S. media of looking the other way when chaos and corruption reigned in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance." She said that during the 2010 elections in Iraq, the media duped the world into thinking that all was well. "You might remember that the American press was flooded with stories declaring the elections a success, complete with upbeat anecdotes and photographs of Iraqi women proudly displaying their ink-stained fingers," she wrote. "The subtext was that United States military operations had succeeded in creating a stable and democratic Iraq. Those of us stationed there were acutely aware of a more complicated reality." She said at the time, she got regular reports detailing security forces' crackdown against dissidents "on behalf" of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. "I was shocked by our military's complicity in the corruption of that election," she said. "Yet these deeply troubling details flew under the American media's radar."
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing war crimes news articles from reliable major media sources.
Reports from an oil rig worker who saw a fire in the sky on the night Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared are being taken seriously, police sources have confirmed. But New Zealander Mike McKay, 55, has lost his job in the ‘‘circus’’ that developed after his report to authorities was leaked. Mr McKay had been working on the Songa Mercur oil rig in the South China Sea when he saw an ‘‘orange light’’ on an especially clear night. The object was still in one piece and close to where MH370 first dropped off radar between Malaysia and Vietnam on March 8 with 239 people on board. He emailed his employer and Vietnamese authorities about his sighting, but his statement was leaked, which included his full name, email, passport number, and full details of the company operating the rig. In the ensuing media storm, Mr McKay said the Japanese-based petroleum company, Idemitsu, was flooded with emails and he was taken off the rig. He is now unemployed and disappointed his efforts at reporting potentially vital information turned into such a circus. ‘‘I was only trying to privately help,’’ he told Fairfax Media during a series of interviews. ‘‘If it was the aeroplane I saw, then it must have been an external fire. How far would an aeroplane stay in the air after such a fire?’’
Note: So much strangeness here. Why was this man fired for reporting simply what he saw? And why isn't this getting more media attention? For possible answers, see our essay on media corruption.
NPR’s David Folkenflik has a revealing new look at ... one of the most important journalistic stories of the last decade: The New York Times‘ 2004 decision ... to suppress for 15 months (through Bush’s re-election) its reporters’ discovery that the NSA was illegally eavesdropping on Americans without warrants. This episode was one significant reason Edward Snowden purposely excluded the Times from his massive trove of documents. In an interview with Folkenflik, the paper’s new executive editor, Dean Baquet, describes the paper’s exclusion from the Snowden story as “really painful.” But ... Baquet has his own checkered history in suppressing plainly newsworthy stories at the government’s request, including a particularly inexcusable 2007 decision, when he was the managing editor of The Los Angeles Times, to kill a story based on AT&T whistleblower Mark Klein’s revelations that the NSA had built secret rooms at AT&T to siphon massive amounts of domestic telephone traffic. In his NPR interview, Baquet insists that he has had a serious change of heart on such questions as a result of the last year of NSA revelations: "[Baquet] says the experience has proved that news executives are often unduly deferential to seemingly authoritative warnings unaccompanied by hard evidence." Dean Baquet’s epiphany about the U.S. government and the American media ... is long overdue, but better late than never. Let us hope that it signals an actual change in behavior.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
Statements made by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden regarding the 9/11 terror attacks were edited out of his NBC Nightly News interview with Brian Williams ... in what appears to be an attempt to bolster legitimacy for the agency’s controversial surveillance programs. Snowden’s comments surrounding the failure of dragnet surveillance in stopping the 9/11 attacks were censored from the prime time broadcast and instead buried in an hour long clip on NBC’s website. "The CIA knew who these guys were. The problem was not that we weren’t collecting information, it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough dots, it wasn’t that we didn’t have a haystack, it was that we did not understand the haystack that we had.” NBC’s decision to bury Snowden’s comments are unsurprising given the fact that the 9/11 attacks are exhaustively used by the federal government as the prime justification for surveilling millions of innocent Americans. Snowden remarked on the government’s prior knowledge of the accused Boston bombers as well, also cut from the prime time interview. ‘We’re missing things like the Boston Marathon bombings where all of these mass-surveillance systems, every domestic dragnet in the world, didn’t reveal guys that the Russian intelligence service told us about by name,” Snowden said. Despite ... government officials pointing to 9/11 foreknowledge, whether missed or ignored, establishment media outlets have continually worked to keep such voices out of relevant reporting.
Note: We've never used globalresearch.ca as a top source respected by the general public, but as none of the major media is covering this critical information, we are making an exception here. For more on the Snowden case, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The [New York] Times published an article [on April 17] about an Arab citizen of Israel – a 23-year-old journalist and Palestinian rights advocate – who was detained by Israeli authorities last weekend. The man, Majd Kayyal, was not allowed a lawyer until Wednesday night, and he was interrogated for five days on suspicion that he was being recruited by a “hostile organization” after he visited Lebanon. He was released on Thursday but ordered to be kept under house arrest. The Times article mentions a court-imposed gag order that was lifted on [April 17]. What it doesn’t mention is that The Times, too, is subject to such gag orders. According to its bureau chief in Jerusalem, Jodi Rudoren, that is true. The Times is “indeed, bound by gag orders,” Ms. Rudoren said. She said that the situation is analogous to abiding by traffic rules or any other laws of the land, and that two of her predecessors in the bureau chief position affirmed to her this week that The Times has been subject to gag orders in the past. The Times’s newsroom lawyer, David McCraw, [said] that he was consulted by Times journalists this week as they considered publishing an article about Mr. Kayyal’s arrest. Although the situation is somewhat murky, he said, “the general understanding among legal counsel in other countries is that local law would apply to foreign media.” “I’ve never seen us actually challenge it,” Mr. McCraw said. Meanwhile, an online publication called The Electronic Intifada published a number of articles about Mr. Kayyal’s detention over the past several days. The author of those articles, Ali Abunimah, said in an email that “readers have a right to know when [the New York Times] is complying with government-imposed censorship.”
Note: For more on mainstream media cover-ups, see the deeply revealing reports available here.
Mainstream media, cued by corporate press releases, routinely claim that America’s schools are markedly inferior to schools in other developed nations. The claim is part of an organized, long-running, generously funded campaign to undermine confidence in public schools to “prove” the need to privatize them. Educators have been handicapped for more than a century by a curriculum adopted to serve a too-narrow purpose—admission to college—and failure to address that curriculum’s problems has made the institution vulnerable to destructive corporate and political manipulation. Below are brief descriptions of some of the more obvious of those problems. 1. The standard core curriculum is stuck in the past. Adopted in the late 19th Century, the curriculum now shaping America’s schools reflects the “big idea” of that earlier era—the factory system, standardization of parts, mass production, centralized decision making, and passive worker compliance. None of those fit the present era. 2. The standard core curriculum is so inefficient it leaves little or no time for apprenticeships, internships, co-op programs, projects, and other ways of “learning by doing” (which is how most of us learned most of what we know). 3. The standard core curriculum gives thought processes other than recall short shrift, or no attention at all. The ability to remember is, of course, important, but the main educational challenge—making better sense of real-world experience—requires the ability not merely to recall but to infer, generalize, hypothesize, relate, synthesize, value, and so on. 4. The standard core curriculum ignores vast and important fields of knowledge.
The renowned correspondent [Sharyl Attkisson] recently bolted CBS News after prolonged turmoil and tensions over her work and how it fit with a mainstream broadcast network. Attkisson pushed super-hard on stories that painted the Obama administration in a bad light, including coverage of the Fast & Furious gun-interdiction program and Benghazi. She also covered aviation, Obamacare and other [issues]. She worked at the network for two decades. In a chat today with Attkisson, [radio host Chris Stigall on Philadelphia station WPHT] wisely picked up on the question of air time. He asked whether CBS News had instructed Attkisson to “knock it off” with her anti-Obama stories and denied her exposure for such fare. The response from Attkisson was ... damning: "With various stories, you do get the idea at some point that they want you to stop, especially if you start to dig down right into something very, very important, and it’s not just with political stories — it’s with stories that go after other interests, corporations, different things. There seems to come a point when you get close, they seem to not be interested in the stories anymore sometimes and some people ... or some managers act as though, yes, you’re a problem if you keep pursuing the questions." She had blockbuster scoops — perhaps many of them — that her bosses all but killed. "Why be at a place where ... you’ve never been better positioned to break original investigative stories but have nothing that you can do with them once you do so. That’s sort of the position I felt I was in.”
One person's freedom fighter may be another's terrorist, but David Miranda is very clearly neither. Yet he was detained at Heathrow airport for nine hours under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. That the high court has now found his detention to be lawful is disappointing, to say the least. If someone travelling as part of journalistic work can be lawfully detained like this – questioned for hours without a lawyer present, his electronic equipment confiscated and cloned and all without the merest suspicion of wrongdoing required – then clearly something has gone wrong with the law. Schedule 7 suffers the same glaring flaws as the old section 44 counter-terrorism power that also allowed stop and search without suspicion. Such laws leave themselves wide open to discriminatory misuse: section 44 never once led to a terrorism conviction but was used to stop people like journalist Pennie Quinton. In a significant victory, Liberty took her case to the European court of human rights and the power was declared unlawful. Liberty and other organisations intervened in [Miranda's] case on just this point, arguing that the detention violated article 10 of the European convention, the right to freedom of expression. Our riled security services' transparent intimidation and interference with Miranda is shocking. But it's also important that we use his case to shed light on the murky everyday reality of schedule 7.
Note: For more on threats to civil liberties, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The United States did not live up to the promise of the First Amendment last year, “far from it,” sinking to 46th in global press freedom rankings, a respected international nonprofit group said. The U.S. plummeted 13 slots to 46th overall “amid increased efforts to track down whistle-blowers and the sources of leaks,” Reporters Without Borders warned in an annual report. “The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest,” the organization said. The group ... also cited the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press telephone records and a court’s pressure on New York Times reporter James Risen to testify against a CIA staffer accused of leaking classified information. “The whistle-blower is clearly the enemy in the U.S.,” Delphine Halgand, who heads the RSF outpost in Washington, told Yahoo News. “Eight whistle-blowers have been charged under the Obama administration, the highest number of any administration, of all other administrations combined.” Overall, RSF said in its report, “countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it.” “Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result,” the group said.
Note: As if to underscore the sad state of US press freedom, we couldn't find any major media who reported this sad news, other than a Washington Post blog at this link, which simply downplays the news and tries to explain it away. To read how the media censors some of the biggest stories never reported, click here.
At least since the aftermath of September 2001, western governments and intelligence agencies have been hard at work expanding the scope of their own power, while eroding privacy, civil liberties and public control of policy. What used to be viewed as paranoid, Orwellian, tin-foil hat fantasies [turn] out post-Snowden, to be not even the whole story. We've been warned for years that these things were going on: wholesale surveillance of entire populations, militarization of the internet, the end of privacy. Secret laws, secret interpretations of secret laws by secret courts and no effective parliamentary oversight whatsoever. By and large the media have paid scant attention to this, even as more and more courageous, principled whistleblowers stepped forward. The unprecedented persecution of truth-tellers, initiated by the Bush administration and severely accelerated by the Obama administration, has been mostly ignored, while record numbers of well-meaning people are charged with serious felonies simply for letting their fellow citizens know what's going on. Numerous ex-NSA officials have come forward in the past decade, disclosing massive fraud, vast illegalities and abuse of power in [that] agency, including Thomas Drake, William Binney and Kirk Wiebe. The response was 100% persecution and 0% accountability by both the NSA and the rest of government. Since the summer of 2013, the public has witnessed a shift in debate over these matters. The reason is that one courageous person: Edward Snowden.
Note: For more on government corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh accused the Obama administration ... of having “cherry-picked intelligence” regarding the Aug. 21 chemical attack in Syria that served as evidence for an argument in favor of striking President Bashar Assad's government. Though President Barack Obama eventually decided not to strike Syria, the administration made a public case for war by saying that Assad’s regime was responsible for a poison gas attack in the outskirts of Damascus. The U.N. later concluded the attack had involved the nerve agent sarin. In his piece -- titled "Whose Sarin?" -- Hersh reported that al-Nusra, a jihadi group fighting in Syria’s long-running civil war, had also "mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity.” Therefore, he wrote, “Obama did not tell the whole story” when stating with certainty that Assad had to be responsible, crossing a so-called "red line" that would trigger U.S. retaliation. Hersh is a freelancer, but he's best known these days for his work in The New Yorker, where he helped break the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004. In an email, Hersh wrote that “there was little interest” for the story at The New Yorker. Hersh then took the story to The Washington Post. Hersh wrote that he was told by email that Executive Editor Marty Baron decided “that the sourcing in the article did not meet the Post's standards.” Hersh [then] sent the Syria story to editors at the London Review of Books, LRB Senior Editor Christian Lorentzen [said]. Lorentzen said the piece was not only edited, but thoroughly fact checked by a former New Yorker fact checker who had worked with Hersh in the past.
Note: For more on government lies to provide pretexts for war, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Reporting the NSA story hasn't been easy, but it's always been fulfilling. It's what journalism at its crux is about, and we must protect that. I'm leaving the Guardian in order to work with Pierre Omidyar, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill and soon-to-be-identified others on building a new media organization. Leaving the Guardian was not an easy choice, but this was a dream opportunity that was impossible to decline. The new site will be up and running reasonably soon. I'll also periodically post on my personal blog – here – with an active comment section, as well as on our pre-launch temporary blog. Reporting the NSA story has never been easy, but it's always been invigorating and fulfilling. It's exactly why one goes into journalism and, in my view, is what journalism at its crux is about. I really urge everyone to take note of, and stand against, [the] sustained and unprecedented attack on press freedoms and the news gathering process in the US. That same menacing climate is now manifest in the UK as well. There are extremist though influential factions in both countries which want to criminalize not only whistleblowing but the act of journalism itself. I'm not leaving because of those threats – if anything, they make me want to stay and continue to publish here – but I do believe it's urgent that everyone who believes in basic press freedoms unite against this. Allowing journalism to be criminalized is in nobody's interest other than the states which are trying to achieve that.
Note: For confirmation of Glenn Greenwald's warnings of immediate government threats to press freedom in the UK, click here.
There is ample reason for skepticism that anything substantial will change in Iran-US relations, [but] whatever one's views are on the prospects for improving relations, the first direct communications in more than 30 years between the leaders of those two countries is a historically significant event. Here is what NBC News anchor Brian Williams told his viewers about this event: "This is all part of a new leadership effort by Iran - suddenly claiming they don't want nuclear weapons!" Yes, Iran's claim that they don't want nuclear weapons sure is "sudden" - if you pretend that virtually everything that they've said on that question for the past ten years does not exist. The country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a 2005 religious edict banning the pursuit of nuclear weapons, and in January of this year, Iranian official Ramin Mehmanparast declared: "We are the first country to call for a Middle East free of nuclear weapons." The following month, Khamenei himself said: "We believe that nuclear weapons must be eliminated. We don't want to build atomic weapons." Iran's top leadership has been making similarly unambiguous statements for almost a full decade, even taking out a full page ad in the New York Times in 2005 to counter the growing clamor in the US for a military attack by proclaiming that Iran had no desire for nuclear weapons, was not pursuing them, and wanted transparency, accountability and peace. US intelligence agencies have repeatedly though secretly concluded that they do not believe that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, and even top Israeli military officials have expressed serious doubts that Iran is building, or will build, a nuclear weapon.
Note: For more on mass media corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
During January 2011, Anabel Hernández's extended family held a party at a favourite cafe in the north of Mexico City. As one of the country's leading journalists ... Hernández had to leave early, as so often, "to finish an article". After she left ... gunmen burst in. But this was no robbery – it was "pure intimidation, aimed at my family, and at me." Hernández's offence was to write a book about the drug cartels that have wrought carnage across Mexico, taking some 80,000 lives. Narcoland: The Mexican Drug Lords and their Godfathers [is] about the mafia state; how the old Guadalajara cartel of the 1980s was protected by the Mexican government just as its heir, Guzmán's Sinaloa syndicate, is now. The threats began when Hernández's book was published in Mexico in 2010. Veteran reporter Mike O'Connor works full-time on behalf of Mexico's menaced reporters, based in Mexico City for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "The silencing of the press and killing of journalists is integral to the reality, the big story, of what is happening here," explains O'Connor. "The cartels are taking territory. For the cartels to take territory, three things have to happen. One is to control the institutions with guns – basically, the police. The second is to control political power. And, for the first two to be effective, you have to control the press." Hernández is "very pleased my book is being published in English, so it can be read in London and New York. I want it published ... where HSBC took Chapo Guzmán's money."
Note: Read more in this revealing article, or find out about the sweetheart deal the U.S. gave to the HSBC executives that were caught knowingly laundering millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels.
Has our political system been so degraded by misinformation and disinformation that it can no longer function? In a well-known paper with a discouraging title, “It Feels Like We’re Thinking,” the political scientists Christopher Achen and Larry Bartels reported on a 1996 survey that asked voters whether the budget deficit had increased or decreased under President Clinton. In fact, the deficit was down sharply, but a plurality of voters — and a majority of Republicans — believed that it had gone up. I wondered on my blog what a similar survey would show today, with the deficit falling even faster than it did in the 1990s. Hal Varian, the chief economist of Google, offered to run a Google Consumer Survey ... on the question. So we asked whether the deficit has gone up or down since January 2010. And the results were even worse than in 1996: A majority of those who replied said the deficit has gone up, with more than 40 percent saying that it has gone up a lot. Only 12 percent answered correctly that it has gone down a lot. Am I saying that voters are stupid? Not at all. The problem is that much of what they hear is misleading if not outright false. The outright falsehoods, you won’t be surprised to learn, tend to be politically motivated. It’s a discouraging picture. We have an ill-informed or misinformed electorate, politicians who gleefully add to the misinformation and watchdogs who are afraid to bark.
For decades, a so-called anti-propaganda law prevented the U.S. government’s mammoth broadcasting arm from delivering programming to American audiences. That came silently to an end with the implementation of a new reform passed in January. The result: an unleashing of thousands of hours per week of government-funded radio and TV programs for domestic U.S. consumption in a reform initially criticized as a green light for U.S. domestic propaganda efforts. So what just happened? Until this month, a vast ocean of U.S. programming produced by the Broadcasting Board of Governors such as Voice of America, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks could only be viewed or listened to at broadcast quality in foreign countries. The programming [is] viewed in more than 100 countries in 61 languages. The restriction of these broadcasts was [lifted with] the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, which passed as part of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. But if anyone needed a reminder of the dangers of domestic propaganda efforts, the past 12 months provided ample reasons. Last year, two USA Today journalists were ensnared in a propaganda campaign after reporting about millions of dollars in back taxes owed by the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan. The firm [created] phony websites and Twitter accounts to smear the journalists anonymously.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media manipulation news articles.
A professor at an Indiana college says he has found film footage showing President Franklin Delano Roosevelt being pushed in his wheelchair, depicting a secret that was hidden from the public until after his death. Ray Begovich, a journalism professor at Franklin College south of Indianapolis, said ... he found the eight-second clip while conducting unrelated research in the National Archives in College Park, Md. Roosevelt contracted polio in 1921 at age 39 and was unable to walk without leg braces or assistance. During his four terms as president, Roosevelt often used a wheelchair in private, but not for public appearances. News photographers cooperated in concealing Roosevelt's disability, and those who did not found their camera views blocked by Secret Service agents. "This raw film clip may be the first motion picture images of the president in his wheelchair, and it was never meant to be shown to the world," Begovich said. The film shows Roosevelt visiting the U.S.S. Baltimore at Pearl Harbor in July 1944. Roosevelt's disability was virtually a state secret during his presidency, which spanned the Great Depression and most of World War II.
Note: To watch this historic video, click here. Isn't it amazing that Roosevelt was U.S. president for 12 years, yet thanks to collusion of the press, his use of a wheelchair and disability was kept a secret from the public the entire time? Politicians know that public perception makes all the difference, so that perception management and manipulation has become a huge industry. For excellent information and resources along these lines, see this link.
On [July 10] the Washington Post published an article by its long-time reporter Walter Pincus. The article concocted a frenzied and inane conspiracy theory: that it was WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, working in secret with myself [Glenn Greenwald] and Laura Poitras, who masterminded the Snowden leaks ahead of time and directed Snowden's behavior. To peddle this tale, Pincus, in lieu of any evidence, spouted all sorts of accusatory innuendo masquerading as questions ... and invoked classic guilt-by association techniques. See the email I sent Pincus for the conclusive evidence of those factual falsehoods and the other distortions peddled by the Post. Apparently, the Washington Post has decided to weigh in on the ongoing debate over "what is journalism?" with this answer: you fill up articles on topics ... with nothing but idle speculation, rank innuendo, and evidence-free accusations, all under the guise of "just asking questions". You then strongly imply that other journalists who have actually broken a big story are involved in a rampant criminal conspiracy. What was far worse was that Pincus' wild conspiracy theorizing was accomplished only by asserting blatant, easily demonstrated falsehoods. The Post allowed the falsehoods to stand uncorrected all day. More than 8 hours after I first publicized his errors - Pincus emailed me back ... and vowed that a correction would be published. 36 hours after the Post published these falsehoods, 24 hours after I publicized them, and 15 hours after the author of this article acknowledged one of those errors and vowed a correction, the Post article still sits on the internet: uncorrected.
Note: For more on mass media corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
The Army is blocking all access to The Guardian newspaper's reports about the National Security Agency's sweeping collection of data about Americans' email and phone communications, an Army spokesman said Thursday. The Monterey (Calif.) Herald reported that employees at the Presidio of Monterey, an Army public affairs base about 100 miles south of San Francisco, were unable to gain access to The Guardian's articles on former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and his professed leaks of classified information about the intelligence programs. Late Thursday, an Army spokesman told The Herald by email that the newspaper's NSA reports were, in fact, being blocked across the entire Army. He wrote that it's routine for the Defense Department to take "network hygiene" action to prevent disclosure of classified information, The Herald reported. "We make every effort to balance the need to preserve information access with operational security," the newspaper quoted the spokesman as saying. "However there are strict policies and directives in place regarding protecting and handling classified information."
The case of Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, the government adviser, and James Rosen, the chief Washington correspondent for Fox News, bears striking similarities to a sweeping leaks investigation disclosed last week in which federal investigators obtained records over two months of more than 20 telephone lines assigned to the Associated Press. At a time when President Obama’s administration is under renewed scrutiny for an unprecedented number of leak investigations, the Kim case provides a rare glimpse into the inner workings of one such probe. Court documents in the Kim case reveal how deeply investigators explored the private communications of a working journalist - and raise the question of how often journalists have been investigated as closely as Rosen was in 2010. The case also raises new concerns among critics of government secrecy about the possible stifling effect of these investigations on a critical element of press freedom: the exchange of information between reporters and their sources. “The latest events show an expansion of this law enforcement technique,” said attorney Abbe Lowell, who is defending Kim on federal charges filed in 2010 that he disclosed national defense information. “Individual reporters or small time periods have turned into 20 [telephone] lines and months of records with no obvious attempt to be targeted or narrow.” The Obama administration has pursued more such cases than all previous administrations combined.
First there was the hidden video of Mitt Romney criticizing the 47 percent. Next came the surreptitious recording of Senator Mitch McConnell's aides mocking Ashley Judd. And then, on the morning of April 25, Mother Jones completed the hat trick, publishing a secret video of GOP consultant Frank Luntz calling Rush Limbaugh “really problematic” for the Republican party. How did Mother Jones position itself as the go-to destination for secretive political recordings? The website for Mother Jones, like a lot of news sites these days, has an area soliciting tips from would-be sources. “Got a scoop?” it reads. “Send our team of investigative reporters a note.” The “47 percent” video did not come through the tip box. But its publication ... has since resulted in a slew of new material coming through the magazine’s website. This week’s video—in which GOP consultant Luntz explains to a group of University of Pennsylvania students his theory on how talk-radio power brokers Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin are hurting the Republican party—first came to Mother Jones’s attention through the website.
The [Los Angeles Times] is one of the eight daily newspapers now owned by the creditors who took control of the Tribune Co. after real estate wheeler-dealer Sam Zell drove it into bankruptcy. The Tribune board members whom the creditors selected want to unload the papers in favor of more money-making ventures. Right-wing billionaires Charles and David Koch are looking to buy all eight papers. The Koch boys, whose oil-and-gas-based fortune places them just behind Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison as the wealthiest Americans, have been among the chief donors to the tea party wing of the Republican Party. Their political funding vehicle, Americans for Prosperity, ranked with casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson among the largest funders of right-wing causes and candidates in 2012. Their purchase offer [comes] complete with a commitment to journalism as a branch of right-wing ideology. The staffs at [the Tribune Co.] papers fear that, once Kochified, the papers would quickly turn into print versions of Fox News. A recent informal poll that one L.A. Times writer conducted of his colleagues showed that almost all planned to exit if the Kochs took control (and that included sportswriters and arts writers). Those who stayed would have to grapple with how to cover politics and elections in which their paper’s owners played a leading role. It’s also unclear who in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s most liberal cities, would actually want to read such a paper, but then the Kochs don’t appear to view this as a money-making venture.
A 49-year-old man refused to pay his TV licence because he believed the BBC covered up facts about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Tony Rooke, who represented himself today at Horsham Magistrates’ Court in West Sussex, said ... he was withholding the funds under the Terrorism Act. Section 15 of the 2000 Act states that it is an offence for someone to invite another to provide money, intending that it should be used, or having reasonable cause to suspect that it may be used, for terrorism purposes. Rooke told the court: 'I believe the BBC, who are directly funded by the licence fee, are furthering the purposes of terrorism and I have incontrovertible evidence to this effect.' He was not allowed to show his pre-prepared video evidence in court because the District Judge said it was not relevant to the trial. But the major point Rooke said he relied upon was that the BBC allegedly reported that World Trade Centre 7 had fallen 20 minutes before it did. District Judge Stephen Nicholls said: 'This is not a public inquiry into 9/11. This is an offence under section 363 of the Communications Act.' He said: 'Even if I accept the evidence you say, this court has no power to create a defence in the manner which you put forward.' Sentencing, Judge Nicholls said: 'Mr Rooke puts the basis of his defence under Section 15 of the Terrorism Act, effectively asking the court to find the BBC is a terrorist organisation and that if he continues to pay them he himself is committing a criminal offence. 'I have explained to Mr Rooke even if I were to accept his evidence I would be unable to find a defence.'
[The] New York Times and Washington Post ... are facing accusations of complicity after it emerged that they bowed to pressure from the Obama administration not to disclose the existence of a secret drone base in Saudi Arabia despite knowing about it for a year. Amid renewed scrutiny over the Obama administration's secrecy over its targeted killing programme, media analysts and national security experts said the revelation that some newspapers had co-operated over the drone base had reopened the debate over the balance between freedom of information and national security. One expert described the initial decision not to publish the base's location as "shameful and craven". Dr Jack Lule, a professor of journalism and communication at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, said that the national security implications did not merit holding on to the story. "The decision not to publish is a shameful one. The national security standard has to be very high, perhaps imminent danger," he said. The Obama administration has resisted any effort to open up its targeted killing programme to public scrutiny. The White House legal advice on the assassinations program, including the killing of a US citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, has been withheld from the public and Congress, despite repeated requests to make it public. Lule said that in not publishing the location of the base when it had the information, the newspaper had failed in its responsibility to the public. "It happened at the top ranks of the media, too. They should have been leading the pack in calling for less secrecy. For them to give up that post is terrible."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on major media coverups, click here.
Evidence proves that the graph trumpeted by [the Associated Press] as evidence of Iran's nuclear weapons program is an obvious sham. Although it was intuitively obvious that the graph trumpeted by AP as scary and incriminating of Iran's nuclear program was actually a farce, there is now new, overwhelming, very compelling scientific evidence that is the case. Whether as victim or recklessly culpable participant, AP helped perpetrate a dangerous hoax, and owes an explanation and accounting for what took place, including identifying the "officials from a country critical of Iran's atomic program" who made false claims about what this is. At the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS), Yousaf Butt and Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress [wrote]: "Graphs such as the one published by the Associated Press can be found in nuclear science textbooks and on the Internet." So what AP presented to the world as some sort of highly complex, specialized document was, in fact, nothing more than a completely common graph easily found in all sorts of public venues. Butt and Dalnoki-Veress document that the graph "does nothing more than indicate either slipshod analysis or an amateurish hoax". That's because, they explain, "the diagram features quite a massive error, which is unlikely to have been made by research scientists working at a national level". This error is patently obvious to anyone versed in nuclear physics. Yet AP - eager to believe, or at least lead others to believe, that it had some incriminating evidence - either failed or refused to understand its significance.
Note: You can find the graph in question and other graphs for comparison at the link above. For a top US general's essay laying bare the desire for continued war at the expense of the public, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on media corruption, click here.
Two former confidants of Britain’s prime minister have been charged with conspiring to pay public officials in exchange for stories and information — the latest development in the country’s establishment-shaking scandal over media malfeasance. Britain’s Crown Prosecution Services [said] that former tabloid editors Andy Coulson and Rebekah Brooks were among five people being charged with conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Prosecutors said that Brooks, a neighbour, close friend, and political ally of Prime Minister David Cameron, conspired with journalist John Kay to funnel as much as Ł100,000 ($160,000) to Ministry of Defence employee Bettina Jordan Barber in return for seven years of stories that were published in Murdoch’s The Sun newspaper. The allegations cover 2004 to 2011, when Brooks was editor of The Sun and then in charge of News International, the parent company of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. The prosecutors alleged that Coulson, who until last year served as Cameron’s top press aide, conspired in 2005 with former royal reporter Clive Goodman to pay officials for access to a royal phone directory known as the “Green Book.” The confidential directory includes home and office numbers for senior royals including two of Queen Elizabeth’s children, Prince Edward and Princess Anne, as well as the landline, office and mobile numbers of the royal household staff, the Telegraph reported.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on media corruption, click here.
Barbara Starr, CNN's Pentagon reporter (more accurately known as: the Pentagon's reporter at CNN), has an exciting exclusive today. Exclusively relying upon "three senior officials" in the Obama administration (all anonymous, needless to say), ... the CNN report on this incident is revealing indeed. Every paragraph - literally - contains nothing but mindless summaries of the claims of US government officials. There is not an iota of skepticism about any of the assertions, including how this incident happened, what the drone was doing at the time, or where it took place. Most notably, CNN does not even bother with the pretense of trying to include the claims of the Iranian government about what happened. There is no indication that the self-described news outlet even made an effort to contact Tehran to obtain their rendition of these events or even confirmation that it occurred. It simply regurgitates the accusations of anonymous US officials that Iran, with no provocation, out of the blue decided to shoot at a US drone in international airspace. (Although CNN does not mention it, last December Iran shot down a US drone which, it claims (and the US does not deny) was in Iranian air space). That CNN's prime mission is to serve the US government is hardly news. [The Christian Science Monitor, however, noted]: "There was no way to independently confirm the Pentagon's account, and correct facts have not always been initially forthcoming in past US-Iran incidents in the Persian Gulf." It then detailed several historical events when the US government's claims about Iran were proven to be false.
Note: Iran denies that the drone was in international airspace, as claimed by the US. For more on this, click here.
The story seemed perfect for the British Broadcasting Corporation’s hard-hitting “Newsnight” program: a nationally beloved television host, it seemed, had also been a pedophile who for decades preyed on young teenagers in hospitals, in children’s homes — and in the halls of the BBC itself. But last December, as the segment neared completion, it was abruptly canceled by the editor in charge, who said there was not enough evidence to justify going ahead. That decision, and the BBC’s earlier failure over four decades to investigate rumors about Mr. Savile’s behavior, is now the subject of three independent investigations. But they are just the latest and most explosive elements in a scandal that seems to widen by the hour. With new victims of Mr. Savile coming forth daily, George Entwistle, who took over as the BBC’s director general just a month ago, is facing embarrassing questions about what the corporation knew and why it did nothing. The Savile affair is by no means restricted to the BBC, drawing in some of Britain’s most important institutions. Scotland Yard has opened an investigation involving 14 other police forces and no fewer than 340 “lines of inquiry”; it said that from 1959 to 2006, Mr. Savile might have molested 60 or more underage girls. But politically the primary focus is on the BBC.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on sexual abuse, click here.
Breaking from two decades of tradition, this year’s election exit poll is set to include surveys of voters in 31 states, not all 50 as it has for the past five presidential elections, according to multiple people involved in the planning. The decision by the National Election Pool — a joint venture of the major television networks and The Associated Press — is sure to cause some pain to election watchers across the country. Voters in the excluded states will still be interviewed as part of a national exit poll, but state-level estimates of the partisan, age or racial makeups of electorates won’t be available as they have been since 1992. The lack of data may hamper election night analyses in some states, and it will almost certainly limit post-election research for years to come. Here is a list of the states that will be excluded from coverage: Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming.
Note: How sad that the one poll considered to be the most reliable is being cancelled in 19 states. This opens the door wide to elections manipulation. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on the flawed electoral system in the US, click here.
On 30 May, Dan Rather, one of America's best-known journalists, referred to [Venezuelan president Hugo] Chávez as "the dictator" – a term that few, if any, political scientists familiar with the country would countenance. Here is what Jimmy Carter said about Venezuela's "dictatorship" a few weeks ago: "As a matter of fact, of the 92 elections that we've monitored, I would say that the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world." Carter won a Nobel prize for his work through the election-monitoring Carter Center, which has observed and certified past Venezuelan elections. The opposition will probably lose this election ... because the living standards of the majority of Venezuelans have dramatically improved under Chávez. Since 2004, when the government gained control over the oil industry and the economy had recovered from the devastating, extra-legal attempts to overthrow it (including the 2002 US-backed military coup), poverty has been cut in half and extreme poverty by 70%. And this measures only cash income. Millions have access to healthcare for the first time, and college enrolment has doubled, with free tuition for many students. Inequality has also been considerably reduced. By contrast, the two decades that preceded Chávez amount to one of the worst economic failures in Latin America, with real income per person actually falling by 14% between 1980 and 1998. In Washington, democracy has a simple definition: does a government do what the state department wants it to do?
Note: For a powerful movie which shows how much our media distorts our perception of global events, watch "The Revolution Will Not be Televised" about Venezuela and Hugo Chavez at this link. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on mass media corruption, click here.
For seven years [Professor Gilles-Eric SĂ©ralini, professor of molecular biology at Caen university in France] and his team have questioned the safety standards applied to varieties of GM maize and tried to re-analyse industry-funded studies presented to governments. Last week, Seralini brought the whole scientific and corporate establishment crashing down on his head. In a peer-reviewed US journal, Food and Chemical Toxicology, he reported the results of a â‚Ź3.2m study. Fed a diet of Monsanto's Roundup-tolerant GM maize NK603 for two years, or exposed to Roundup over the same period, rats developed higher levels of cancers and died earlier than controls. But barely had the paper surfaced than it was attracting heavyweight academic criticism. Commentators variously claimed the study to be "biased", "poorly performed", "bogus", "fraudulent", "sub-standard", "sloppy agenda-based science", "inadequate" and "unsatisfactory". SĂ©ralini and his scientists were labelled "crafty activists" and "anti-science". It was a triumph for the scientific and corporate establishment which has used similar tactics to crush other scientists like Arpad Pusztai of the Rowett Institute in Scotland, who was sacked after his research suggested GM potatoes damaged the stomach lining and immune system of rats, and David Quist and Ignacio Chapela, who studied the flow of genes from illegally planted GM maize to Mexican wild maize.
Note: For a powerful summary of the risks to health from GMO foods including the story of the above-mentioned Arpad Pusztai, click here. For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on GMOs, click here. For a powerful 13-minute video revealing the disturbing results of the first long-term scientific study on GMOs showing how they greatly increased cancer incidence in rats, click here.
Antarctic sea ice set another record this past week, with the most amount of ice ever recorded. National Public Radio (NPR) published an article on its website last month claiming, “Ten years ago, a piece of ice the size of Rhode Island disintegrated and melted in the waters off Antarctica. Two other massive ice shelves along the Antarctic Peninsula had suffered similar fates. There's no question that unusually warm air triggered the final demise of these huge chunks of ice.” NPR failed to mention anywhere in its article that Antarctic sea ice has been growing since satellites first began measuring the ice 33 years ago. Sea ice has been above the 33-year average throughout 2012. Indeed, none of the mainstream media are covering this important story. A Google News search of the terms Antarctic, sea ice and record turns up not a single article on [this]. Page after page of Google News results for Antarctic sea ice record show links to news articles breathlessly spreading fear ... because Arctic sea ice recently set a 33-year low. Sea ice around one pole is shrinking while sea ice around another pole is growing. New data show ice mass is accumulating on the Antarctic continent as well as in the ocean surrounding Antarctica. The new data also add context to sensationalist media stories about declining ice in small portions of Antarctica (see here, for example). The mainstream media frequently publish stories focusing on ice loss in these two areas, yet the media stories rarely if ever mention that ice is accumulating over the larger area of East Antarctica and that the continent as a whole is gaining snow and ice mass.
Note: A look at US government statistics for sea ice concentration shows a gradual decrease in Arctic sea ice over the past 40 years, yet a slight overall increase in Antarctic ice for the same period. Antarctic sea ice coverage peaked in 2012 to it's highest measurement since 1978, when the graph starts. But then three years later it plunges to it's lowest ever. A NASA website and a university website also raise many questions. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on global warming from reliable major media sources.
[CNN] is seriously compromising its journalism in the Gulf states by blurring the line between advertising and editorial. CNN International (CNNi) [has refused] to broadcast an award-winning documentary, "iRevolution", that was produced in early 2011 as the Arab Spring engulfed the region and which was highly critical of the regime in Bahrain. The documentary ... documented the brutality and violence the regime was using against its own citizens who were peacefully protesting for democracy. CNNi has aggressively pursued a business strategy of extensive, multifaceted financial arrangements between the network and several of the most repressive regimes around the world which the network purports to cover. Its financial dealings with Bahrain are deep and longstanding. CNNi's pursuit of and reliance on revenue from Middle East regimes increased significantly after the 2008 financial crisis, which caused the network to suffer significant losses in corporate sponsorships. It thus pursued all-new, journalistically dubious ways to earn revenue from governments around the world. Bahrain has been one of the most aggressive government exploiters of the opportunities presented by CNNi [which produces] programs in an arrangement it describes as "in association with" the government of a country, and offers regimes the ability to pay for specific programs about their country. These programs are then featured as part of CNNi's so-called "Eye on" series [or] "Marketplace Middle East", [which are] designed to tout the positive economic, social and political features of that country.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable sources on corruption in the major media, click here.
In late March 2011, as the Arab Spring was spreading, CNN sent a four-person crew to Bahrain to produce a one-hour documentary on the use of internet technologies and social media by democracy activists in the region. Featuring on-air investigative correspondent Amber Lyon, the CNN team had a very eventful eight-day stay. The documentary [was] titled "iRevolution: Online Warriors of the Arab Spring". The portion Lyon and her team produced on Bahrain ended up as a 13-minute segment in the documentary. That segment, which as of now is available on YouTube, is a hard-hitting and unflinching piece of reporting that depicts the regime in a very negative light. In the segment, Lyon interviewed activists as they explicitly described their torture at the hands of government forces, while family members recounted their relatives' abrupt disappearances. On 19 June 2011 at 8pm, CNN's domestic outlet in the US aired "iRevolution" for the first and only time. The program received prestigious journalism awards. [But] CNN International never broadcast the documentary. Even in the face of numerous inquiries and complaints from their own employees inside CNN, it continued to refuse to broadcast the program or even provide any explanation for the decision. To date, this documentary has never aired on CNNi. It is CNN International that is, by far, the most-watched English-speaking news outlet in the Middle East. By refusing to broadcast "iRevolution", the network's executives ensured it was never seen on television by Bahrainis or anyone else in the region.
Note: For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing media corruption news articles from reliable major media sources.
The rightwing transparency group, Judicial Watch, released [on August 28] a new batch of documents showing how eagerly the Obama administration shoveled information to Hollywood film-makers about the Bin Laden raid. Obama officials did so to enable the production of a politically beneficial pre-election film about that "heroic" killing, even as administration lawyers insisted to federal courts and media outlets that no disclosure was permissible because the raid was classified. The newly released emails [were] between Mark Mazzetti, the New York Times's national security and intelligence reporter, and CIA spokeswoman Marie Harf. The CIA had evidently heard that [NY Times columnist] Maureen Dowd was planning to write a column on the CIA's role in pumping the film-makers with information about the Bin Laden raid in order to boost Obama's re-election chances, and was apparently worried about how Dowd's column would reflect on them. This exchange ... is remarkably revealing of the standard role played by establishment journalists and the corruption that pervades it. Here we have a New York Times reporter who covers the CIA colluding with its spokesperson to plan for the fallout from the reporting by his own newspaper ("nothing to worry about"). Beyond this, that a New York Times journalist – ostensibly devoted to bringing transparency to government institutions – is pleading with the CIA spokesperson, of all people, to conceal his actions and to delete the evidence of collusion is so richly symbolic.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable sources on corruption in the major media, click here.
Is it not remarkable that one of the very few individuals over the past decade to risk his welfare, liberty and even life to meaningfully challenge the secrecy regime on which the American national security state (and those of its obedient allies) depends just so happens to have become – long before he sought asylum from Ecuador – the most intensely and personally despised figure among the American and British media class and the British "liberal" intelligentsia? In 2008 – two years before the release of the "collateral murder" video, the Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, and the diplomatic cables – the Pentagon prepared a secret report which proclaimed WikiLeaks to be an enemy of the state and plotted ways to destroy its credibility and reputation. But in a stroke of amazing luck, Pentagon operatives never needed to do any of that, because the establishment media in the US and Britain harbor at least as much intense personal loathing for the group's founder as the US government does, and eagerly took the lead in targeting him. Many people like to posit the US national security state and western media outlets as adversarial forces, but here – as is so often the case – they have so harmoniously joined in common cause. Whatever else is true, establishment media outlets show unlimited personal animus toward the person who, as a panel of judges put it when they awarded him the the 2011 Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism, "has given the public more scoops than most journalists can imagine."
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government secrecy, click here.
Considering he made his name with the biggest leak of secret government documents in history, you might imagine there would be at least some residual concern for Julian Assange among those trading in the freedom of information business. But the virulence of British media hostility towards the WikiLeaks founder is now unrelenting. This is a man, after all, who has yet to be charged, let alone convicted, of anything. The ostensible reason for this venom is of course Assange's attempt to resist extradition to Sweden (and onward extradition to the US) over sexual assault allegations. But as the row over his embassy refuge has escalated into a major diplomatic stand-off, with the whole of South America piling in behind Ecuador, such posturing looks increasingly specious. Can anyone seriously believe the ... British government would have made its asinine threat to suspend the Ecuadorean embassy's diplomatic status and enter it by force, or that scores of police would have surrounded the building, swarming up and down the fire escape and guarding every window, if it was all about one man wanted for questioning over sex crime allegations in Stockholm? To get a grip on what is actually going on, rewind to WikiLeaks' explosive release of secret US military reports and hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables two years ago. They disgorged devastating evidence of US war crimes and collusion with death squads in Iraq on an industrial scale, the machinations and lies of America's wars and allies, its illegal US spying on UN officials – as well as a compendium of official corruption and deceit across the world.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on government secrecy, click here.
The Washington press corps ... is too caught up in its own self-importance and petty competition to understand it has become the cabin boy of the political class. Washington reporters are co-conspirators in an ongoing fraud. The epidemic of blind quotes is a standard way of giving a platform to officials speaking in an official capacity, yet with zero accountability. The practice is also supremely manipulative, giving the most banal information the allure of forbidden fruit. At its worst, the game can allow the vice president of the United States to leak phony intelligence to the New York Times and later refer back to the leak as independent journalistic confirmation, leading to invasion and hundreds of thousands of deaths and a trillion dollars in squandered treasure. The Iraq disgrace aside, obscuring official sources might be understandable if this journalistic worst practice were in the service of earth-shaking news. It almost never is. The blind quotes, though, are not even the worst of it. The New York Times recently revealed that reporters are not merely working on background, they negotiate after interviews what comments may be used and send them to sources for prepublication approval. The sources routinely edit those quotes before turning them back over to news organisations. As media ethicist Edward Wasserman so aptly put it, "At this point you're no longer talking about an interview; you're talking about a press release … And what happens is Washington becomes no different from Beijing, in terms of reporting what authorities want reported".
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable sources on mass media corruption, click here.
Media manipulation currently shapes everything you read, hear and watch online. Everything. In the old days, we only had a few threats to fear when it came to media manipulation: the government propagandist and the hustling publicist. They exploited the fact that the media was trusted and reliable. Today, with our blog and web driven media cycle, nothing can escape exaggeration, distortion, fabrication and simplification. Media manipulation is the status quo. It becomes, as Daniel Boorstin, author [of] The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America, once put it, a "thicket ... which stands between us and the facts of life." Today the media -— driven by blogs -— is assailed on all sides, by the crushing economics of their business, dishonest sources, inhuman deadlines, pageview quotas, inaccurate information, greedy publishers, poor training, the demands of the audience, and so much more. These incentives are real, whether you’re the Huffington Post or CNN or some tiny blog. They warp everything you read online. Everyone is in on the game, from bloggers to non-profits to marketers to the New York Times itself. And when everyone is running the same racket, the line between the real and the fake becomes indistinguishable. Media manipulation exploits the difference between perception and reality. This all happens because of the poor incentives. When readers don’t PAY for news, the creators of the news don’t have any loyalty to the readers. To combat these manipulations, we must change the incentives. If we want loyalty to the truth, we must be loyal to the people who provide us with it. This probably means paying for information in one form or another.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable sources on mass media cover-ups and distortions, click here. Thanks to the generous support of our readers and our lack of advertising, WantToKnow.info is one of the few news sources not subject to pressure from financial incentives which drive news manipulation for others. To support our work so that we can continue to be free of these market pressures, click here.
The push and pull over what is on the record is one of journalism’s perennial battles. But those negotiations typically took place case by case, free from the red pens of press minders. Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations. Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign, used by many top strategists and almost all mid-level aides ... at the White House - almost anyone other than spokesmen who are paid to be quoted. (And sometimes it applies even to them.) It is also commonplace throughout Washington and on the campaign trail. From Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department, interviews granted only with quote approval have become the default position. Those officials who dare to speak out of school, but fearful of making the slightest off-message remark, shroud even the most innocuous and anodyne quotations in anonymity by insisting they be referred to as a “top Democrat” or a “Republican strategist.” It is a double-edged sword for journalists, who are getting the on-the-record quotes they have long asked for, but losing much of the spontaneity and authenticity in their interviews. Many journalists spoke about the editing only if granted anonymity, an irony that did not escape them. Those who did speak on the record said the restrictions seem only to be growing.
A USA TODAY reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites. Fake Twitter and Facebook accounts have been created in their names, along with a Wikipedia entry and dozens of message board postings and blog comments. Websites were registered in their names. The timeline of the activity tracks USA TODAY's reporting on the military's "information operations" program, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan — campaigns that have been criticized even within the Pentagon as ineffective and poorly monitored. For example, Internet domain registries show the website TomVandenBrook.com was created Jan. 7 — just days after Pentagon reporter Tom Vanden Brook first contacted Pentagon contractors involved in the program. Two weeks after his editor Ray Locker's byline appeared on a story, someone created a similar site, RayLocker.com, through the same company. If the websites were created using federal funds, it could violate federal law prohibiting the production of propaganda for domestic consumption. Some postings ... accused them of being sponsored by the Taliban. "They disputed nothing factual in the story about information operations," Vanden Brook said.
Note: For more on a proposed amendment to a U.S. bill which would make it legal to use propaganda and lie to the American public, click here.
Police swooped on eight individuals between 6am and 8am yesterday, arresting the five Sun journalists, two Ministry of Defence staff and a police officer. The arrests came hard on the heels of five related arrests two weeks ago when four senior Sun journalists and a police officer were questioned in connection with bribery allegations. The latest astonishing development ... prompted fury among the newspaper's staff, amid allegations that those arrested had been "thrown to the wolves" in an effort to bolster the embattled News Corp empire, and, particularly, to rekindle its hopes of taking over BSkyB. The police were acting on information provided by News International, owner of The Sun and Times newspapers. The investigation broke new ground yesterday: for the first time, the arrests broadened beyond payments to police, with a female member of the MoD and a member of the armed forces also held while their homes were searched. The journalists arrested were Geoff Webster, The Sun's deputy editor; John Kay, a former chief reporter who joined the title in 1974; Nick Parker, chief foreign correspondent; John Edwards, picture editor; and John Sturgis, a reporter.
Note: The fact that the The Sun's deputy editor and chief foreign correspondent were arrested along with a female member of the MoD and a member of the armed forces is astounding. Could the predictions of David Wilcock of mass arrests of key people involved in major corruption be coming true? Wilcock has written a thoroughly researched and amazingly deep and penetrating paper on all that is going on at this link.
88 million. That's how many working-age Americans don't have a job and aren't trying to find one. The increase in people dropping out of the labor market altogether skews the otherwise-positive unemployment numbers released last week. While the jobless rate fell to 8.3 percent in January - a three-year low - it doesn't [take into account] this army of nonworking Americans. The percentage of people participating in the labor market dropped to 63.7 percent last month, the lowest level since May 1983.
Note: This one small article reveals an astounding statistic the media and government are all but ignoring. The actual rate of jobless Americans is well over 30%. The U.S. government definition of unemployed covers only those who "do not have a job, have actively looked for work in the prior 4 weeks, and are currently available for work."
In an unprecedented display of Internet force, thousands of websites went dark or censored themselves [on January 18] to protest twin antipiracy measures pending in Congress. The blackout represented a culmination of months of intensifying outcry over the bills, echoed and amplified by social media, blogs and tech publications, that drew more and more popular sites into the official day of protest, including Google, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Wired, Reddit, Boing Boing, Reporters Without Borders, Pressthink, Greenpeace and McSweeney's. Their actions and the frenzy of media coverage in the buildup raised mainstream awareness of what, until recent days, had been a wonky set of proposals only lightly covered outside tech circles. Congressional phone lines were reportedly flooded Wednesday in what could begin the final unraveling of the already troubled measures. The stated goal of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA), is to confront the sale and distribution of pirated movies, drugs, music and consumer goods by rogue overseas sites. But in doing so, critics say the bills threaten crucial legal protections that foster online innovation [and undermine] due process and free speech. Some observers said the day of protest may come to represent a fundamental shift in the legislative landscape, a flexing of a newfound and untraditional source of political power in the Internet sector.
Note: For lots more on government and corporate threats to civil liberties, click here.
President Obama, after objecting to provisions of a military spending bill that would have forced him to try terrorism suspects in military courts ... signed the bill on [New Year's Eve]. The White House had said that the legislation could lead to an improper military role in overseeing detention and court proceedings and could infringe on the president’s authority in dealing with terrorism suspects. But it said that Mr. Obama could interpret the statute in a way that would preserve his authority. The president, for example, said that he would never authorize the indefinite military detention of American citizens, because “doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a nation.” He also said he would reject a “rigid across-the-board requirement” that suspects be tried in military courts rather than civilian courts. Congress dropped a provision in the House version of the bill that would have banned using civilian courts to prosecute those suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda. It also dropped a new authorization to use military force against Al Qaeda and its allies. Civil liberties groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, still oppose the law, in part because of its authorization of military detention camps overseas.
Note: This New York Times article amazingly fails to mention that civil liberties groups oppose this law primarily because it eliminates habeus corpus, Posse Comitatus and Bill of Rights protections, and enables the military to arrest and imprison American citizens on American soil and subject them to military tribunals without due judicial process. These protections are what Pres. Obama was referring to when he mentioned "our most important traditions and values as a nation." Is his statement that he will not use the new powers the law gives him sufficiently reassuring?
Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican running for president, has something that his rivals in the Iowa caucus don't have: a positive image on social media. While Paul gets less mainstream media coverage than nearly any other candidate, he gets far more positive mentions on Twitter and blogs than any of his GOP rivals, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. That's saying something, as the study found that political commentary on the microblogging service, based in San Francisco, is harsher and generally more negative than on other media platforms. Along with Barack Obama, Paul had one of the strongest online presences during the last presidential campaign. But little of that translated into votes during Paul's campaign four years ago. One reason for Paul's positive social media profile may be that he gets so little mainstream media coverage, said Mark Jurkowitz, associate director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. Only former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum receives less traditional media coverage. "The mainstream media doesn't deem them to [be] viable candidates, so they don't get as intense [a] vetting process as the others," Jurkowitz said.
Note: As mentioned in the article above, Ron Paul has been largely ignored by the media. This is likely at least partly due to his strong advocacy of abolition of the Federal Reserve. For a rare media interview presenting Ron Paul in a positive light, see him on the Jay Leno show at this link.
A Pentagon public relations program that sought to transform high-profile military analysts into "surrogates" and "message force multipliers" for the Bush administration complied with Defense Department regulations and directives, the Pentagon's inspector general has concluded after a two-year investigation. The inquiry was prompted by articles published in the New York Times in 2008 that described how the Pentagon, in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks, cultivated close ties with retired officers who worked as military analysts for television and radio networks. In response to the articles, the Pentagon suspended the program, and members of Congress asked the Defense Department's inspector general to investigate. The results of the inquiry ... confirm that the Pentagon under Donald Rumsfeld made a concerted effort ... to build and sustain public support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The inquiry found that from 2002 to 2008, Rumsfeld's Pentagon organized 147 events for 74 military analysts. The inquiry confirmed that Rumsfeld's staff frequently provided military analysts with discussion points before their network appearances.
Note: For lots more on government corruption from reliable sources, click here.
At a packed City Council meeting ... Los Angeles lawmakers Tuesday called for more regulations on how much corporations can spend on political campaigns. The vote in support of state and federal legislation that would end so-called "corporate personhood” is largely symbolic. The council resolution includes support for a constitutional amendment that would assert that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights, and that spending money is not a form of free speech. City Council President Eric Garcetti, the resolution's sponsor, said such actions are necessary because “big special interest money” is behind much of the gridlock in Washington. He blamed a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, which rolled back legal restrictions on corporate spending on the grounds that political speech by a business entity should receive the same 1st Amendment protections that people do. It allows corporations and other groups to spend unlimited money on behalf of candidates. Councilman Richard Alarcon, who also supported the resolution, said corporations are “trying to take over every aspect of our lives.” “Corporations are at the wheel of America,” Alarcon said. “And they are driving us to destruction.”
Note: Why was this key decision only reported in a blog and hardly covered by the media elsewhere? To understand how the media controls public debate, as reported by top journalists, click here.
“Democracy Now!,” the 15-year-old public radio and television program ... distinguishes itself by documenting social movements, struggles for justice and the effects of American foreign policy, along with the rest of the day’s developments. Operated as a nonprofit organization and distributed on a patchwork of stations, channels and Web sites, “Democracy Now!” is proudly independent, in that way appealing to hundreds of thousands of people who are skeptical of the news organizations that are owned by major media companies. Though it has long had a loyal audience, “Democracy Now!” has gained more attention recently for methodical coverage of two news events — the execution of the Georgia inmate Troy Davis and the occupation of Wall Street and other symbolic sites across the country. [Host Amy] Goodman broadcast live from Georgia for six hours on Sept. 21, the evening of the execution, and “Democracy Now!” reporters were fanned out in Manhattan from the first day of the protests against corporate greed. The media, Ms. Goodman said in an interview last week, can be “the greatest force for peace on earth” for “it is how we come to understand each other.” But she asserted that the views of a majority of Americans had been “silenced by the corporate media.” “Which is why we have to take it back,” she said.
Note: Up until now, there has been a virtual ban on mentioning the important work of Amy Goodman and Democracy Now. Could this be a signal of some real change?
Ignored by the media and dismissed by the Republican Party in general, liberty-minded Congressman Ron Paul leaped into third place today in the Gallup Presidential Nomination preference poll. Paul jumped over Michele Bachmann, relegating her to fourth-place in the current poll. Apparently the American people are starting to take notice, too. According to the most recent Rasmussen survey of likely voters, Ron Paul is a mere one point behind President Obama in a head-to-head matchup - a better result than any of the other GOP contenders received. This is despite the media blackout around Ron Paul's campaign, and despite the media's insistence that Ron Paul can't beat Obama. This poll suggests he can.
Note: We have seen a consistent and systematic campaign to block news reportage of candidates who are exposing the deeper political agenda like Congress members Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. For how the media is controlled to make this happen, click here.
What distinguishes the BBC from the rest of this country's media? Perhaps the most important factor is its editorial guidelines, which are supposed to ensure that the corporation achieves "the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive[s] to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences." Woe betide the producer or presenter who breaches these guidelines. Unless, that is, they work for Top Gear. Take, for example, Top Gear's line on electric cars. Casting aside any pretence of impartiality or rigour, it has set out to show that electric cars are useless. If the facts don't fit, it bends them until they do. It's currently being sued by electric car maker Tesla. Now it's been caught red-handed faking another trial, in this case of the Nissan LEAF. Last Sunday, an episode of Top Gear showed Jeremy Clarkson and James May setting off for Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, 60 miles away. The car unexpectedly ran out of charge when they got to Lincoln, and had to be pushed. They concluded that "electric cars are not the future". But it wasn't unexpected: Nissan has a monitoring device in the car which transmits information on the state of the battery. This shows that, while the company delivered the car to Top Gear fully charged, the programme-makers ran the battery down before Clarkson and May set off, until only 40% of the charge was left.
The judicial screws are tightening on Rupert Murdoch's empire in America as the US justice department prepares to subpoena News Corporation in its investigation into whether the company broke anti-bribery and hacking laws on both sides of the Atlantic. The news that subpoenas are being drawn up, reported by News Corp's flagship newspaper the Wall Street Journal, comes a week after attorney general Eric Holder said he was launching a preliminary investigation into the media group as a result of the UK phone-hacking scandal. In addition, it has emerged that federal prosecutors have begun probing allegations that News Corp's advertising arm in the US hacked into a computer of a competitor as part of a campaign to crush its rival. News Corp also faces a possibly lengthy and costly federal probe into whether it broke anti-bribery laws as part of the illegal News of the World phone hacking in the UK. The company is potentially liable under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), which bans US-based companies from profiting from bribery and corruption in other countries. News Corp is a US-based firm, its headquarters on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan. FCPA experts have suggested that it could be brought under the auspices of the act because News of the World journalists bribed police officers in the UK in search of exclusive stories that in turn increased sales and generated profits.
The phone hacking scandal in Britain claimed another high-profile casualty on [July 18] when John Yates, the deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in London, resigned his post. His departure comes a day after the country’s top police officer quit and Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, was arrested on suspicion of illegally intercepting phone calls and bribing the police. Such is the severity of the crisis swirling around the Murdoch empire and Britain’s public life that Prime Minister David Cameron cut short an African trip on Monday and, bowing to opposition pressure, called a special parliamentary session on Wednesday to debate the widening scandal. Mr. Murdoch, his son James and Ms. Brooks are set to testify before a parliamentary inquiry into the scandal on Tuesday. The home secretary, Theresa May, said on Monday that the country’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, a police oversight body that reports to her, would investigate possible corruption in the links between the police and journalists. Mr. Yates has been criticized for his decision not to reopen the investigation even though the police under his command possessed some 11,000 pages of largely unexamined evidence. “I’m not going to go down and look at bin bags,” Mr. Yates said.
Britain’s top police official resigned on [July 17], the latest casualty of the phone-hacking scandal engulfing British public life, just hours after Rebekah Brooks, the former chief executive of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, was arrested on suspicion of illegally intercepting phone calls and bribing the police. The official, Sir Paul Stephenson, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, commonly known as the Met or Scotland Yard, said that he had decided to step down [but] that he had done nothing wrong and that he would not “lose sleep over my personal integrity.” The commissioner’s resignation came as the London political establishment was still digesting the stunning news about the arrest of Ms. Brooks — who apparently was surprised herself. A consummate networker who has always been assiduously courted by politicians and whose friends include Prime Minister David Cameron, Ms. Brooks, 43, is the 10th and by far the most powerful person to be arrested so far in the phone-hacking scandal. The arrest was a shock to the News Corporation, the parent company of News International, and the other properties in Mr. Murdoch’s media empire, which is reeling from the traumas of last week: the forced withdrawal of its cherished $12 billion takeover bid for British Sky Broadcasting and the resignations not only of Ms. Brooks but also of Les Hinton, a longtime Murdoch ally and friend who was the chairman of Dow Jones and the publisher of The Wall Street Journal.
Sean Hoare, the former News of the World showbusiness reporter who was the first named journalist to allege that Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead. Hertfordshire police would not confirm his identity, but said in a statement: "The death is currently being treated as unexplained but not thought to be suspicious." There was an unexplained delay in the arrival of forensics officers at the scene. There was no police presence at the scene at all for several hours. Hoare was in his mid-40s. He first made his claims in a New York Times investigation into the phone-hacking allegations at the News of the World. He told the newspaper that not only did Coulson know of the hacking, but he also actively encouraged his staff to intercept the calls of celebrities in the pursuit of exclusives. In a subsequent interview with the BBC he alleged he was personally asked by his editor at the time, Coulson, to tap into phones. Hoare returned to the spotlight last week, after he told the New York Times that reporters at the NoW were able to use police technology to locate people using their mobile phone signals, in exchange for payments to police officers. He said journalists were able to use "pinging", which measured the distance between a mobile handset and a number of phone masts to pinpoint its location.
For nearly four years they lay piled in a Scotland Yard evidence room, six overstuffed plastic bags gathering dust and little else. Inside was a treasure-trove of evidence: 11,000 pages of handwritten notes listing nearly 4,000 celebrities, politicians, sports stars, police officials and crime victims whose phones may have been hacked by The News of the World, a now defunct British tabloid newspaper. Yet from August 2006, when the items were seized, until the autumn of 2010, no one at the Metropolitan Police Service, commonly referred to as Scotland Yard, bothered to sort through all the material and catalog every page. During that same time, senior Scotland Yard officials assured Parliament, judges, lawyers, potential hacking victims, the news media and the public that there was no evidence of widespread hacking by the tabloid. After the past week, that assertion has been reduced to tatters, torn apart by a spectacular avalanche of contradictory evidence. The testimony and evidence that emerged last week, as well as interviews with current and former officials, indicate that the police agency and News International, the British subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation and the publisher of The News of the World, became so intertwined that they wound up sharing the goal of containing the investigation. Members of Parliament said in interviews that they were troubled by a “revolving door” between the police and News International.
Note: Media and government corruption could hardly get worse than seen in this case of the Murdoch phone hacking scandal. Scotland Yard's primary responsibility is to protect the UK public from criminal activity; instead it enabled the activity to continue and shared high-level information and personnel with News Corporation. For lots more on media and government corruption click here and here.
“Unlawful Killing,” a documentary about the death of Princess Diana that began to stir up controversy even before it got [to the Cannes Film Festival, was] directed by Keith Allen [and] earned global [comment] for including a graphic image of the aftermath of the car accident that took Diana’s life in 1997, the details of which have historically been distorted in the interest of taste. The photo does appear in “Unlawful Killing,” but only for a moment, and within the legitimate context of Allen’s claim that Diana received tardy and inadequate care immediately after the wreck and that a more timely response would have saved her life. “Unlawful Killing,” which is part of the Cannes “Marche du Film,” or Film Market, and played here ... to a packed house of buyers and critics, will surely raise hackles for the additional ... accusations Allen levels in the film. These include allegations ... that Diana was murdered, most likely by a cabal involving the royal family, the political establishment and the secret services; that she was killed because she was threatening the British arms industry with her work against land mines; and that the inquest into the death ... was little more than a coverup in which the media were ... complicit.
Note: For more on Princess Diana's mysterious death, click here.
The White House threatened [on April 28] to exclude The San Francisco Chronicle from pooled coverage of its events in the Bay Area after the paper posted a video of a protest at a San Francisco fundraiser for President Obama last week, Chronicle Editor Ward Bushee said. White House guidelines governing press coverage of such events are too restrictive, Bushee said, and the newspaper was within its rights to film the protest and post the video. Chronicle senior political reporter Carla Marinucci was invited by the White House to cover the Obama fundraiser on April 21. About 200 donors paying $5,000 to $38,500 each attended the event at the St. Regis Hotel in the city, a day after Obama visited Facebook headquarters in Silicon Valley touting the proliferation of "new media" breaking the confines of traditional journalism. At the St. Regis event, a group of protesters who paid collectively $76,000 to attend the fundraiser interrupted Obama with a song complaining about the administration's treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the soldier who allegedly leaked U.S. classified documents to the WikiLeaks website.
Note: This is an excellent example of how politicians can control the press. Top reporters are under threat of losing their connections to top officials if they report anything negative about them.
If any institution needs to get back to basics and refocus on what it takes to survive a disaster - or report on it with integrity - it's the cable news business. The triple threat in Japan - earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactors in peril - is clearly demonstrating how reporters and anchors are bungling the basics and how the producers and executives in charge of them have fallen woefully short of leadership. Yes, the visuals were riveting and horrific, but context was lacking. Covering this trilogy of terror in Japan really underscores how much better prepared reporters and anchors need to be. The incessantly simplistic and embarrassing questions need to stop. It's a shame that going online to watch videos from NHK, BBC and Al Jazeera English was far and away the best option for Americans.
When it comes to the bedroom, Viagra, Cialis and Levitra are all household words, thanks to TV, radio and Internet ads broadcasting information about erectile dysfunction around the clock, on all kinds of programming - even the Super Bowl. So when Rachel Braun Scherl, 45, a Stanford University business school graduate, co-founded Semprae Laboratories, which developed Zestra Essential Arousal Oils, a product described as a botanical aphrodisiac, she thought bringing its message to the airwaves would be a snap. Research had shown that tens of millions of American women had sexual difficulty and no products to remedy it. Scherl, 45, a married mother of two, and company co-founder Mary Jaensch, 58, a married mother of three, thought they had an answer for this unmet need, along with the cash to pay for ads on TV. In an apparent double standard, many networks and some websites have declined the company's ads; a few will air them during the daytime, and others only after midnight. "The most frequent answer we get is, 'We don't advertise your category,' " Scherl said. "To which we say, 'What is the category? Because if it's sexual enjoyment, you clearly cover that category. If it's female enjoyment, you clearly don't.' And when you ask for information as to what we would need to change so they would clear the ad for broadcast, they give you very little direction. ... And yet they have no problem showing ads for Viagra and other men's drugs. Why?"
Note: For highly informative reports from major media sources on health issues, click here.
We live now in a cable news universe that celebrates the opinions of Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly - individuals who hold up the twin pillars of political partisanship and who are encouraged to do so by their parent organizations because their brand of analysis and commentary is highly profitable. The commercial success of both Fox News and MSNBC is a source of nonpartisan sadness for me. While I can appreciate the financial logic of drowning television viewers in a flood of opinions designed to confirm their own biases, the trend is not good for the republic. It is, though, the natural outcome of a growing sense of national entitlement. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's oft-quoted observation that "everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts," seems almost quaint in an environment that flaunts opinions as though they were facts. And so, among the many benefits we have come to believe the founding fathers intended for us, the latest is news we can choose. Beginning, perhaps, from the reasonable perspective that absolute objectivity is unattainable, Fox News and MSNBC no longer even attempt it. They show us the world not as it is, but as partisans (and loyal viewers) at either end of the political spectrum would like it to be.
Note: Ted Koppel, who was managing editor of ABC's "Nightline" from 1980 to 2005, is a contributing analyst for "BBC World News America."
WJLA-TV has fired veteran anchorman Doug McKelway for a verbal confrontation this summer with the station's news director that came after McKelway broadcast a sharply worded live report about congressional Democrats and President Obama. McKelway was placed on indefinite suspension in late July after his run-in with ABC7's news director and general manager, Bill Lord. In a letter to McKelway this week, the station said it was terminating his contract immediately, citing insubordination and misconduct. Amid the ongoing BP oil spill in July, McKelway covered a Capitol Hill demonstration by environmental groups protesting the influence of oil-industry contributions to members of Congress. In his piece, McKelway said the sparsely attended event attracted protesters "largely representing far-left environmental groups." He went on to say the protest "may be a risky strategy because the one man who has more campaign contributions from BP than anybody else in history is now sitting in the Oval Office, President Barack Obama, who accepted $77,051 in campaign contributions from BP." Lord took exception to McKelway's reporting and asked to meet with him, according to several station sources who were granted anonymity to discuss the sensitive personnel matter. A shouting match between the two men ensued, leading to McKelway's suspension, sources said.
As BP makes its latest attempt to plug its gushing oil well, news photographers are complaining that their efforts to document the slow-motion disaster in the Gulf of Mexico are being thwarted by local and federal officials — working with BP — who are blocking access to the sites where the effects of the spill are most visible. More than a month into the disaster, a host of anecdotal evidence is emerging from reporters, photographers, and TV crews in which BP and Coast Guard officials explicitly target members of the media, restricting and denying them access to oil-covered beaches, staging areas for clean-up efforts, and even flyovers. Last week, a CBS TV crew was threatened with arrest when attempting to film an oil-covered beach. On Monday, Mother Jones published this firsthand account of one reporter’s repeated attempts to gain access to clean-up operations on oil-soaked beaches, and the telling response of local law enforcement.
Note: To see some of the devastating photos from this tragic spill, click here. For an abundance of revealing articles from major media sources on government and corporate collusion and corruption, click here and here.
A case about pollution, big business and the movies has reopened longstanding debates about who is a journalist and how far parties to a lawsuit can reach when seeking ammunition for their side. The case involves a documentary, “Crude,” that tells the story of a long-running legal battle in which Ecuadorean plaintiffs are suing Chevron over the pollution of the Amazon rain forest. As part of its defense, Chevron demanded 600 hours of outtake footage from “Crude,” saying it could help the company show corruption and misconduct by the plaintiffs. The filmmaker argued that his work was protected by journalist privilege, which protects reporters and others in the newsgathering business from being compelled to reveal confidential sources or divulge confidential material. On [May 6], Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in New York granted the request for the subpoena. The judge’s decision sparked outrage among documentary filmmakers, who said it endangered their form of journalism. The filmmaker Michael Moore said the decision could have “a chilling effect.” “If something like this is upheld, the next whistle-blower at the next corporation is going to think twice about showing me some documents if that information has to be turned over to the corporation that they’re working for,” Mr. Moore said.
Note: For lots more from reliable souces on government corruption and collusion with industries it is supposed to be regulating, click here.
"The Game of Death" has all the trappings of a traditional television quiz show, with a roaring crowd and a glamorous and well-known hostess urging the players on under gaudy studio lights. But the contestants did not know they were taking part in an experiment to find out whether television could push them to outrageous lengths, and which has prompted comparisons with the atrocities of Nazi Germany. "We were amazed to find that 81 percent of the participants obeyed" the sadistic orders of the television presenter, said Christophe Nick, the maker of the documentary for the state-owned France 2 channel. "They are not equipped to disobey," he added. The game: posing questions to another "player" and punishing him with up to 460 volts of electricity when he gets them wrong -- even until his cries of "Let me go!" fall silent and he appears to have died. Not knowing that the screaming victim is really an actor, the apparently reluctant contestants yield to the orders of the presenter and chants of "Punishment!" from a studio audience who also believed the game was real. Nick said 80 percent of the contestants went all the way, zapping the victim with the maximum 460 volts until he appeared to die. Out of 80 players, just 16 walked out. "When it decides to abuse its power, television can do anything to anybody," said Nick. "It has an absolutely terrifying power."
Note: For more on this powerful and disturbing phenomenon, click here.
Iceland, where the journalists run free. Iceland is considering a new vision: to become a haven for journalists and publishers by offering some of the most aggressive protections for free speech and investigative journalism in the world. The proposal, the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, combines in a single piece of legislation provisions from around the world: whistle-blower laws and rules about Internet providers from the United States; source protection laws from Belgium; freedom of information laws from Estonia and Scotland, among others; and New York State’s law to counteract “libel tourism,” the practice of suing in courts, like Britain’s, where journalists have the hardest time prevailing. “We would become the inverse of a tax haven,” said Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Parliament and a sponsor of the initiative. “They are trying to make everything opaque. We are trying to make it transparent.” For many observers, this legislation represents a direct reversal of recent Icelandic history. Secret dealings by a few banks in Iceland, combined with a lack of regulation and oversight, led to calamitous debts that were nine times the gross domestic product. In response, Iceland would institutionalize the most aggressive sunshine laws possible.
Last fall Hearst, the big media company that owns newspapers, magazines and television stations, filed a lawsuit against the Texas governor’s office, seeking access to a clemency report in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, who was executed in 2004 but whose guilt is now in doubt. It is the sort of case — Mr. Willingham may have been innocent, but there is no way of saving him now — that one might not expect to be taken up by a news organization amid a wrenching economic downturn that has forced a trimming of journalistic resources across the industry. But [some] big companies, like Hearst and The Associated Press, have been quietly ramping up their legal efforts, by doing more of the work in-house — and saving costs by not hiring outside lawyers — and being more aggressive in states where they can recoup legal fees and at the federal level, which also allows plaintiffs in such access cases to sue for legal fees when they win. At Hearst, the company’s top lawyer says it has never had more First Amendment lawsuits in courtrooms around the country than it does now. “I think we’d be the only media company that would say that we’re at an all-time high with the number of access cases we’re bringing,” said Eve Burton, vice president and general counsel at Hearst.
American forces in Iraq have released an Iraqi freelance photographer held in detention for 17 months without charge. Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed, who worked for Reuters, was arrested in September 2008 in a dawn raid on his home. The US said the photographer was a "security threat", but all evidence against him was classified secret. An Iraqi court had ruled in December 2008 that there was no case against him and that he must be released, but the US military refused. The US military has detained a number of Iraqi journalists working for international news organisations, but none have been convicted. It has been criticised by press freedom organisations such as Reporters Without Borders.
Note: So the U.S. can detain someone without any publicly-stated reason merely on suspicion of being a security threat? Sounds like something a police state would do. And why isn't this even being seriously questioned in the media?
Do people prefer to spread good news or bad news? Would we rather scandalize or enlighten? Which stories do social creatures want to share, and why? Now some answers are emerging thanks to a rich new source of data: you, Dear Reader. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have intensively studied the New York Times list of most-e-mailed articles, checking it every 15 minutes for more than six months, analyzing the content of thousands of articles and controlling for factors like the placement in the paper or on the Web home page. According to the Penn researchers, Jonah Berger and Katherine A. Milkman, people preferred e-mailing articles with positive rather than negative themes, and they liked to send long articles on intellectually challenging topics. Perhaps most of all, readers wanted to share articles that inspired awe, an emotion that the researchers investigated after noticing how many science articles made the list. “Science kept doing better than we expected,” said Dr. Berger, a social psychologist and a professor of marketing at Penn’s Wharton School. “We anticipated that people would share articles with practical information about health or gadgets, and they did, but they also sent articles about paleontology and cosmology."
Law enforcement deaths this year dropped to their lowest level since 1959, while the decade of the 2000s was among the safest for officers -- despite the deadliest single day for police on Sept. 11, 2001. Through Dec. 27, the report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found [the following]. 124 officers were killed this year, compared to 133 in 2008. The 2009 total represents the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 108 a half-century ago. Firearms deaths rose to 48, nine more than in 2008. However, the 39 fatalities in 2008 represented the lowest annual figure in more than five decades. One female officer was killed in 2009, compared with 13 the previous year. There was no explanation for the decline. An average of 162 officers a year died in the 2000s, compared with 160 in the 1990s, 190 in the 1980s and 228 in the 1970s -- the deadliest decade for U.S. law enforcement. Seventy-two officers died on Sept. 11.
Note: Why wasn't this article titled something like "Law Enforcement Deaths Lowest in 50 Years"? Why is this inspiring news given so little attention? Did you know that violent crime nationwide in the US has decreased by 50% in the last 15 years? Click here to read about this. Why is news that inspires fear given such prominence while inspiring news gets so little notice? For a possible answer, click here.
Conspiracy theorists awaiting Wednesday night's premiere of "Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura" might take interest in a curious comment Ventura made in the Los Angeles Times this weekend. Ventura ... told the paper that MSNBC cancelled his show "Jesse Ventura's America" in 2003 because he did not support the Iraq War. He said the network "in essence" paid him to be silent. "It was awful. I was basically silenced. When I came out of office, I was the hottest commodity out there. I was being groomed for a five day-a-week TV show by them. Then, all of a sudden, weird phone calls started happening: 'Is it true Jesse doesn't support the war in Iraq? My contract said I couldn't do any other cable TV or any news shows, and they honored and paid it for the duration of it. So in essence I had my silence purchased. Why do you think you didn't hear from me for three years? I was under contract. They wouldn't even use me as a consultant!"
In a case that raises questions about online journalism and privacy rights, the U.S. Department of Justice sent a formal request to an independent news site ordering it to provide details of all reader visits on a certain day. The grand jury subpoena also required the Philadelphia-based Indymedia.us Web site "not to disclose the existence of this request" unless authorized by the Justice Department, a gag order that presents an unusual quandary for any news organization. Kristina Clair, a 34-year old Linux administrator living in Philadelphia who provides free server space for Indymedia.us, said she was shocked to receive the Justice Department's subpoena. The subpoena ... demanded "all IP traffic to and from www.indymedia.us" on June 25, 2008. It instructed Clair to "include IP addresses, times, and any other identifying information," including e-mail addresses, physical addresses, registered accounts, and Indymedia readers' Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, [and] credit card numbers. Clair [called] the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which represented her at no cost. Making this investigation more mysterious is that Indymedia.us is an aggregation site, meaning articles that appear on it were published somewhere else first, and there's no hint about what sparked the criminal probe. Clair, the system administrator, says that no IP (Internet Protocol) addresses are recorded for Indymedia.us, and non-IP address logs are kept for a few weeks and then discarded. "This is the first time we've seen them try to get the IP address of everyone who visited a particular site," [EFF's Kevin] Bankston said. "That it was a news organization was an additional troubling fact that implicates First Amendment rights."
Note: For many reports from major media sources of growing government threats to civil liberties, click here.
MADDOW: Tonight, a dash of truth. Seriously rich corporate interests are out to paint ACORN as a vast left-wing conspiracy against the American way of life. You can look at ACORNâ€s primary political sin as theyâ€re trying to raise the minimum wage. ACORN has been caricatured by people, like Congressman King, as a corrupt, criminal enterprise that steals elections and turns a blind eye to prostitution. Thatâ€s the story line the mainstream media has latched on to, as well. What you might not know from all of the breathless ACORN damnation coverage is what ACORN actually does. They do things like advocating for a higher minimum wage. They do things like helping low-income families file their taxes. They do things like helping low-income families find jobs. And as we discovered most recently in the healthcare debate, when industries sense a threat to their profits, they go into kill mode. They create corporate-funded purportedly grassroots organizations to derail and destroy whomever they believe to be the source of that threat. Say youâ€re a company that doesnâ€t really want the minimum wage to be raised. But you also donâ€t want to be seen fighting ACORN yourself. What you do is you hire Richard Berman. And what you get is â€śRottenACORN.com,â€ť a grassroots-ish looking Web site dedicated to destroying ACORN. â€śRottenACORN.comâ€ť is run by something called the Employment Policies Institute, a nonprofit think-tank that happens to be run by Richard Berman, who also happens to be the man behind grassroots-ish Web sites like the anti-labor one, â€śUnionFacts.com.â€ť Also, â€śMercuryFacts.org.â€ť which assures people that there really isnâ€t that much mercury in that fish.
Note: A video of this segment is available at this link.
For generations, The Washington Post has been a scrupulous watchdog over the capital’s cozy world of power networking. For a short time, it almost became the network’s host. The Post decided Thursday to cancel plans to charge lobbyists and trade groups $25,000 or more to sponsor private, off-the-record dinner parties at the home of its publisher, Katharine Weymouth, events that would have brought together lobbyists, business leaders, Post journalists and officials from the Obama administration and Congress. The revelation of the parties early Thursday morning by Politico.com appalled members of The Post newsroom and put the paper squarely in the cross hairs of journalism ethicists. In response, Ms. Weymouth canceled the first dinner, scheduled for July 21. A flier describing the events promised corporate sponsors conversation (“Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No.”) at the Washington home of Ms. Weymouth. Sponsors were asked to pay $25,000 to attend an event, or underwrite a series of 11 for $250,000. The July 21 event, focusing on health care reform, “guaranteed” a “collegial evening” with health industry advocates, Post journalists covering the field and administration officials involved with its policies. The Politico article prompted an immediate newsroom reaction. The Post’s ombudsman, Andrew Alexander, wrote on his blog that “this comes pretty close to a public relations disaster.” With the print business in tough straits, many news organizations have turned to conferences and other events to raise revenue and their profiles. But the planned Post events seem particularly audacious, not only acting essentially as a paid conduit between lobbyists and government officials, but also providing sponsors the opportunity to make their case to Post journalists.
Note: This article shows the blatant manipulations going on behind the scenes in our major media. To learn just how compromised the media have been for a long time, click here to read about former Post owner Katharine Graham's connections with the CIA. And to understand how major news is suppressed, click here.
You probably have never heard of Robin Beaton, and that's what's wrong with the debate over health care reform. Beaton, a retired nurse from Waxahachie, Texas, had health insurance -- or so she thought. She paid her premiums faithfully every month, but when she was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, her health insurance company, Blue Cross, dumped her. The insurance company said the fact that she had seen a dermatologist for acne, who mistakenly entered a notation on her chart that suggested her simple acne was a precancerous condition, allowed Blue Cross to leave her in the lurch. Beaton testified before a House subcommittee this week. So did other Americans who thought they had insurance but got the shaft. The subcommittee's chairman, Democrat Bart Stupak of Michigan, called the hearing to highlight the obnoxious and unethical practice called rescission. His researchers produced performance reviews of insurance company bureaucrats who were praised and rewarded for kicking people off their coverage. Then Stupak asked three health insurance executives the big question: Will your company pledge to end the practice of rescission except in cases of intentional fraud? All three health insurance executives said no. It was as dramatic as congressional testimony gets. Yet it got no airtime on the networks, nor, as far as I can tell, on cable news, although CNN.com did run a story. The story did not make The New York Times. Nor The Washington Post, which found space on the front page the morning after the hearing for a story on the cancellation of Fourth of July fireworks in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, but not a story on the cancellation of health insurance for deathly ill Americans who've paid their premiums.
Note: For lots more on corruption in the health industry, click here.
Following the attacks of September 11th, a small group of grieving families waged a tenacious battle against those who sought to bury the truth about the event. In this documentary, six of them – including three of the famous 9/11 widows known as the "Jersey Girls" – tell the powerful story of how they took on the greatest powers in Washington, compelling lawmakers to launch an investigation that ultimately failed to answer most of their questions. The filmmakers collaborated with the media group Globalvision to stitch together overlooked news clips, buried stories, and government press conferences, revealing a pattern of official lies, deception, and spin. As a result, a very different picture of 9/11 emerges – one that raises new, and more pressing, questions. To mark the film's U.S. broadcast premiere, Executive Producer Kyle Hence, Director Ray Nowosielski, and family member Bob McIlvaine – who lost his son Bobby in the attacks on New York – will be in the KBDI studios to discuss the film throughout the evening. Additionally, volunteers from Colorado 911 Visibility will be on hand to answer phones.
Note: To watch this important, landmark 9/11 documentary, click here. This highly engaging, well researched film may be the best way yet to open the eyes of those who don't know about the major 9/11 cover-up.
Shock jocks shock. And so it went Friday morning when WLS radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller decided to subject himself to the controversial practice of waterboarding live on his show. Mancow decided to tackle the divisive issue head on -- actually it was head down, while restrained and reclining. "I want to find out if it's torture," Mancow told his listeners Friday morning, adding that he hoped his on-air test would help prove that waterboarding did not, in fact, constitute torture. At about 8:40 a.m., he entered a small storage room next to his studio. "The average person can take this for 14 seconds," Marine Sergeant Clay South answered, adding, "He's going to wiggle, he's going to scream, he's going to wish he never did this." With a Chicago Fire Department paramedic on hand, Mancow was placed on a 7-foot long table, his legs were elevated, and his feet were tied up. Turns out the stunt wasn't so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds. "It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."
Note: Click on the link above to watch a video of Mancow being waterboarded.
In a highly unusual reversal, the Defense Department’s inspector general’s office has withdrawn a report it issued in January exonerating a Pentagon public relations program that made extensive use of retired officers who worked as military analysts for television and radio networks. Donald M. Horstman, the Pentagon’s deputy inspector general for policy and oversight, said in a memorandum released on Tuesday that the report was so riddled with flaws and inaccuracies that none of its conclusions could be relied upon. In addition to repudiating its own report, the inspector general’s office took the additional step of removing the report from its Web site. The inspector general’s office began investigating the public relations program last year, in response to articles in The New York Times that exposed an extensive and largely hidden Pentagon campaign to transform network military analysts into “surrogates” and “message force multipliers” for the Bush administration. The articles also showed how military analysts with ties to defense contractors sometimes used their special access to seek advantage in the competition for contracts related to Iraq and Afghanistan. The report released in January took issue with the articles. [It] has been the subject of controversy, with some members of Congress calling it a “whitewash” marred by obvious factual errors. For example, the report erroneously listed many military analysts as having no ties whatsoever to defense contractors.
Note: The author of this article, David Barstow, won a 2009 Pulitzer prize for exposing military corruption, yet the press gave virtually no coverage to his prize. Why does it seem that the media don't want us to know about military influence on the news we receive?
After a few days of breathless H1N1 flu coverage - some of it on his own network - CNN commentator Jack Cafferty noted that 13,000 people have died from the "regular ol' flu" this year in the United States, compared with just one confirmed H1N1 flu death. Cafferty then asked his audience to respond to his online poll asking "if swine flu coverage was overblown." He waited a moment, then said, "Hint: Yes." For a week, the flu story has whet cable TV's bloodlust with what the 24-hour cable news vacuum craves: mystery, death and great visuals that inspire fear. "Frankly, I've been a little horrified by how sensationalist and scare-mongering it is," said Vivian Schiller, chief executive officer of National Public Radio. No detail about the flu - often delivered without context - has been too tiny to go unreported, which means that cable TV viewers are getting coverage that is moment-to-moment but often not terribly useful. Conservative talk radio hosts have used fear about the flu to segue to anti-immigrant remarks and calls to close the U.S.-Mexico border.Just when the coverage appeared to be calming a bit Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden helped rekindle fears by saying on the "Today'" show that he "would tell members of my family - and I have - I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now." Health stories always attract huge audiences, said Andrew Kohut, president of the Pew Research Center. But viewers shouldn't expect as much breathless coverage when Congress begins debating an overhaul of the U.S. health care system over the next few months.
Note: For an excellent article showing how media fear-mongering of this and past flu emergencies have brought unprecedented profits to the pharmaceutical companies, click here.
In February 1976, an outbreak of swine flu struck Fort Dix Army base in New Jersey, killing a 19-year-old private and infecting hundreds of soldiers. Concerned that the U.S. was on the verge of a devastating epidemic, President Gerald Ford ordered a nationwide vaccination program at a cost of $135 million (some $500 million in today's money). Within weeks, reports surfaced of people developing Guillain-Barré syndrome, a paralyzing nerve disease that can be caused by the vaccine. By April, more than 30 people had died of the condition. Facing protests, federal officials abruptly canceled the program on Dec. 16. The epidemic failed to materialize. Medical historians and epidemiologists say ... the decisions made in the wake of the '76 outbreak — and the public's response to them — provide a cautionary tale for public health officials, who may soon have to consider whether to institute draconian measures to combat the disease. "I think 1976 provides an example of how not to handle a flu outbreak," says Hugh Pennington, an emeritus professor of virology at Britain's University of Aberdeen. Despite modern advances in microbiology, today's health officials still make decisions in a "cloud of uncertainty," Pennington says. "At the moment, our understanding of the current outbreak is similarly limited. For example, we don't yet understand why people are dying in Mexico but not elsewhere." Howard Markel, director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan and a historical consultant to the CDC on flu pandemics, says the most vexing decision facing health officials is when to institute mass vaccination programs.
Note: To watch two short commercials made in 1976 showing clear scare tactics, click here. Only one person died from the actual flu in this 1976 "epidemic," yet more than 30 died of the flu vaccine. To explore the serious risks of vaccines reported in the media, click here. For lots more on bird and swine flu scares, click here.
We missed this story from earlier this week, but think it's still worth sharing. Glenn Greenwald over at Salon.com wrote an interesting column on Tuesday about the lack of cable news coverage related to New York Times journalist David Barstow's Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism. Barstow wrote two fascinating, deeply researched stories last year about how retired generals, acting as military analysts for cable channels, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to push their line on the war. He also discovered that the generals had, as the Pulitzer committee describes it "undisclosed ties to companies than benefited from the policies they defended." Greenwald notes that there was a virtual moratorium on discussing Barstow's prize on TV. Brian William at NBC just said that the NYT had won five awards, and CNN's write-up didn't even mention Barstow's name. You can read Greenwald's piece here.
Note: For lots more on major media cover-ups, click here.
The Pentagon is steadily and dramatically increasing the money it spends to win what it calls "the human terrain" of world public opinion. In the process, it is raising concerns of spreading propaganda at home in violation of federal law. An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year, according to Department of Defense budgets and other documents. That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006. This year, the Pentagon will employ 27,000 people just for recruitment, advertising and public relations — almost as many as the total 30,000-person work force in the State Department. The biggest chunk of funds — about $1.6 billion — goes into recruitment and advertising. Another $547 million goes into public affairs, which reaches American audiences. And about $489 million more goes into what is known as psychological operations. Staffing across all these areas costs about $2.1 billion, as calculated by the number of full-time employees and the military's average cost per service member. That's double the staffing costs for 2003. Recruitment and advertising are the only two areas where Congress has authorized the military to influence the American public. Far more controversial is public affairs, because of the prohibition on propaganda to the American public.
Note: For more revealing reports from reliable sources on the realities of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, click here.
Who imagined that in 2009, the world's governments would be declaring a new War on Pirates? The British Royal Navy – backed by the ships of more than two dozen nations, from the US to China – is sailing into Somalian waters to take on men we still picture as parrot-on-the-shoulder pantomime villains. But behind ... this tale there is an untold scandal. In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million people have been teetering on starvation ever since – and the ugliest forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in their seas. Yes: nuclear waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then, after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness, and more than 300 died. At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our own fish stocks by overexploitation – and now we have moved on to theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now starving. This is the context in which the "pirates" have emerged. Somalian fishermen took speedboats to try to dissuade the dumpers and trawlers, or at least levy a "tax" on them.
Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest. Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey. General McCaffrey, 66, has long been a force in Washington’s power elite. A consummate networker, he cultivated politicians and journalists of all stripes as drug czar in the Clinton cabinet, and his ties run deep to a new generation of generals, some of whom he taught at West Point or commanded in the Persian Gulf war. But it was 9/11 that thrust General McCaffrey to the forefront of the national security debate. In the years since he has made nearly 1,000 appearances on NBC and its cable sisters, delivering crisp sound bites in a blunt, hyperbolic style. He commands up to $25,000 for speeches, his commentary regularly turns up in The Wall Street Journal, and he has been quoted or cited in thousands of news articles, including dozens in The New York Times. His influence is such that President Bush and Congressional leaders from both parties have invited him for war consultations. At the same time, General McCaffrey has immersed himself in businesses that have grown with the fight against terrorism.
Note: This in-depth article on the "military-industrial-media complex" is worth reading in its entirety. For lots more on war profiteering from reliable sources, click here.
In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn't take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives. Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms. According to a 2007 study from the University of Alberta, as many as 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls aged 13 to 14 have accessed sexually explicit content at least once. But it isn't just sex that [Kevin] Scott is worried about. He's more interested in how we, as a culture, often mimic the most raunchy, degrading parts of it—many of which, he says, come directly from pornography. In "The Porning of America", which he has written with colleague Carmine Sarracino, a professor of American literature, the duo argue that ... the influence of porn on mainstream culture is affecting our self perceptions and behavior - in everything from fashion to body image to how we conceptualize our sexuality. Sarracino and Scott define "porning" as the way advertising and society in general have borrowed from the ideas and characteristics central to most American pornography: sex as commodity, sexuality as overt, narrow views of women and male-female relationships, bad girls and dirty boys, domination and submission. "Both boys and girls are really confused about what's appropriate," says [author Lyn Mikel] Brown. Helping kids make that distinction may be an increasingly uphill battle.
The end of the internet is nigh - and in less than three years, according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The problem is that the world is running out of internet addresses. More than 85% of the available addresses have already been allocated and the OECD predicts we will have run out completely by early 2011. These aren’t the normal web addresses you type into your browser’s window, and which were recently freed up by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). Beneath these commonsense names lie numerical internet protocol (IP) addresses that denote individual devices connected to the internet. These form the foundation for all online communications, from e-mail and web pages to voice chat and streaming video. When the current IP address scheme was introduced in 1981 there were fewer than 500 computers connected to the internet. Its founders could be forgiven for thinking that allowing for a potential 4 billion would last for ever. However, less than 30 years later we’re rapidly running out. Every day thousands of new devices ranging from massive web servers down to individual mobile phones go online and gobble up more combinations and permutations. “Shortages are already acute in some regions,” says the OECD. “The situation is critical for the future of the internet economy.” As addresses run dry we will all feel the pinch: internet speeds will drop and new connections and services (such as internet phone calling) will either be expensive or simply impossible to obtain.
The former Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt returned to what she called her "other family" in France today as doubt was cast on the apparently daring rescue that won her freedom. While she was still in the air, the Swiss radio station RSR broadcast a report questioning the official version of the operation to free Ms Betancourt and 14 other hostages -- saying that money, not cunning, had clinched their freedom. RSR said that the 15 hostages "were in reality ransomed for a high price, and the whole operation afterwards was a set-up". Citing a source "close to the events, reliable and tested many times in recent years", it said that the United States -- which had three citizens among those freed -- was behind the deal and put the price at $20 million. The Colombian Foreign Ministry furiously denied the allegations, with a spokesman calling them "completely false." He added: "They are lies". General Freddy Padilla, head of the Colombian military, categorically denied they had paid "a single peso" to Farc. The French Foreign Ministry denied any involvement in any deal. The US has not responded to the [allegations].
World Trade Center Building 7 has become the subject of heated speculation and a host of conspiracy theories suggesting it was brought down by a controlled demolition. And some people suggest it was not just the government and foreign intelligence, but ... even the media that were involved. It is certainly true that on 9/11 the BBC broadcast that WTC7 had collapsed when it was still standing. Then the satellite transmission seemed to cut out mysteriously when the correspondent was still talking. Then [head of BBC News] Richard Porter admitted in his blog last year that the BBC had lost those key tapes of BBC World News output from the day. The internet movie Loose Change has been viewed by more than 100 million people according to its makers and it asks this question in the latest film release: "Where did CNN and the BBC get their information especially considering the building was still standing directly behind their reporters?" It turns out that the respected news agency Reuters picked up an incorrect report and passed it on. They have issued this statement: "On 11 September 2001 Reuters incorrectly reported that one of the buildings at the New York World Trade Center, 7WTC, had collapsed before it actually did. The report was picked up from a local news story and was withdrawn as soon as it emerged that the building had not fallen." And the reason the interview with the BBC correspondent, Jane Standley, ended so abruptly? The satellite feed had an electronic timer, which cut out at 1715 exactly.
Note: How many "coincidences" does it take for people to start to ask questions? How could people know that the building was going to collapse when a skyscraper had never collapsed before from fire? For a useful BBC FAQ on 9/11 alternative theories, click here.
In his new memoir, What Happened, Scott McClellan, the former White House press secretary, said the national news media neglected their watchdog role in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, calling reporters “complicit enablers” of the Bush administration’s push for war. Surprisingly, some prominent journalists have agreed. Katie Couric, the anchor of “CBS Evening News,” said ... that she had felt pressure from government officials and corporate executives to cast the war in a positive light. Speaking on “The Early Show” on CBS, Ms. Couric said the lack of skepticism shown by journalists about the Bush administration’s case for war amounted to “one of the most embarrassing chapters in American journalism.”She also said she sensed pressure from “the corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kind of dissent or any kind of questioning of it.” At the time, Ms. Couric was a host of “Today” on NBC. Another broadcast journalist also weighed in. Jessica Yellin, who worked for MSNBC in 2003 and now reports for CNN, said ... that journalists had been “under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation.” For five years, antiwar activists and media critics have claimed that the national news media failed to keep the White House accountable before the invasion. Greg Mitchell, the author of So Wrong for So Long, a book about press and presidential failures on the war, argues that some media organizations have yet to come to terms with their role.
Note: For a powerful overview of the media cover-up by top, award-winning journalists, click here.
In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantďż˝namo Bay. The detention center had just been branded ďż˝the gulag of our timesďż˝ by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure. The administrationďż˝s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantďż˝namo. To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as ďż˝military analystsďż˝ whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world. Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administrationďż˝s wartime performance. The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants.
Five years later, the United States remains at war in Iraq, but there are days when it would be hard to tell from a quick look at television news, newspapers and the Internet. Media attention on Iraq began to wane after the first months of fighting, but as recently as the middle of last year, it was still the most-covered topic. Since then, Iraq coverage by major American news sources has plummeted, to about one-fifth of what it was last summer, according to the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The drop in coverage parallels ... a decline in public interest. Surveys by the Pew Research Center show that more than 50 percent of Americans said they followed events in Iraq “very closely” in the months just before and after the war began, but that slid to an average of 40 percent in 2006, and has been running below 30 percent since last fall. The three broadcast networks’ nightly newscasts devoted more than 4,100 minutes to Iraq in 2003 and 3,000 in 2004, before leveling off at about 2,000 a year, according to Andrew Tyndall, who monitors the broadcasts and posts detailed breakdowns at tyndallreport.com. And by the last months of 2007, he said, the broadcasts were spending half as much time on Iraq as earlier in the year. Since the start of last year, the Project for Excellence in Journalism, a part of the nonprofit Pew Research Center, has tracked reporting by several dozen major newspapers, cable stations, broadcast television networks, Web sites and radio programs. Iraq accounted for 18 percent of their prominent news coverage in the first nine months of 2007, but only 9 percent in the following three months, and 3 percent so far this year. And reporting on events in Iraq has fallen by more than two-thirds from a year ago.
Note: For a powerful summary of major media censorship, click here.
The truth may be out there, but, when it comes to UFO stories, it is sure hard to find. Conjecture breeds conspiracy theories. Any official denial can be labeled a cover-up. In the end, it often boils down to a he-said-she-said scenario. Such is the case in Stephenville, Texas, a small, rural community thrust into the spotlight after several unexplained disturbances in January. Though that spotlight has now faded, the town remains altered. Some members of the community want to move on; others cannot let go. And some, if you believe them, say that UFOs are still there. According to Angelia Joiner, the reporter who wrote the original UFO stories, there was another UFO sighting on Saturday. "If the military is testing a secret military device, why do they keep doing it here?" she asked me. "If it's not a secret why do they keep scaring the bejesus out of people?" Adding a further wrinkle to this story, Joiner was fired from The Empire-Tribune a week ago. She claims she had been told to back off the story and thinks the town's "upper crust" was "embarrassed" by all the attention. The Empire-Tribune has avoided comment, which of course only fans the flames of the conspiracy theories. For its part, the military has done itself no favors, first denying that it had any aircraft in the area, then flip-flopping a few days later -- after more witnesses came forward. A spokesperson blamed internal miscommunication for the mix-up. Others, including CNN's Larry King, have asked whether it wasn't a cover-up. But who can we believe? The truth remains unidentified.
Note: As revealed in this commentary, the courageous reporter, Angelia Joiner, who gave the Stephenville UFO story legs and led to more sales of her newspaper than ever before, has now been fired. To read highly revealing information about this bizarre twist, click here and here.
On the morning of 9 February 2004, The New York Times carried an exclusive and alarming story. The paper's Baghdad correspondent, Dexter Filkins, reported that US officials had obtained a 17-page letter, believed to have been written by the notorious terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi to the "inner circle" of al-Qa'ida's leadership, urging them to accept that the best way to beat US forces in Iraq was effectively to start a civil war. The story went on to news agency wires and, within 24 hours, it was running around the world. There is very good reason to believe that that letter was a fake – and a significant one because there is equally good reason to believe that it was one product among many from a new machinery of propaganda which has been created by the United States and its allies since the terrorist attacks of September 2001. For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it. The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news. The "Zarqawi letter" which made it on to the front page of The New York Times in February 2004 was one of a sequence of highly suspect documents which were said to have been written either by or to Zarqawi and which were fed into news media. This material is being generated, in part, by intelligence agencies who continue to work without effective oversight; and also by a new ... structure of "strategic communications" which was originally designed ... in the Pentagon and Nato.
Note: This article is an edited excerpt from investigative journalist Nick Davies' new book, Flat Earth News: an award-winning reporter exposes falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media. To read about or purchase it, click here. For a highly revealing two-page summary of 20 award-winning journalists describing how huge stories they tried to report were shut down by corporate media ownership, click here.
The Nevada Supreme Court's ruling allowing a cable network to exclude Rep. Dennis Kucinich from a Democratic presidential debate was barely a blip on the media radar screen. But in the long term, the court decision might prove to be [very] significant. It constituted the strongest judicial statement yet of news organizations' near-absolute power to control participation in pre-election forums. Kucinich, the Ohio congressman who polls in the low single digits but has a fervent following among his party's anti-war base, [charged] that the cable channel had promised to let him in when he met its standards, then abruptly changed those standards to keep him out. MSNBC said initially that the debate was open to Democrats who placed in the top four in a national poll. It invited Kucinich on Jan. 9 after a Gallup Poll a few days earlier ranked him fourth. But two days later, after New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson dropped out of the race, the channel narrowed its criteria to the top three candidates and withdrew Kucinich's invitation. The day before the debate, a Nevada judge ordered MSNBC to let Kucinich participate, saying the cable operator had entered into a binding contract that it couldn't rescind once the candidate accepted. The state's high court quickly granted review and, an hour before the debate, ruled 7-0 in the cable channel's favor. The bottom line: Debates, the public's sole opportunity to see competing candidates in a neutral setting, are the prerogative of the sponsoring organizations - typically, these days, the news media - which set the criteria and have free rein to alter them.
Note: For a summary of reliable reports on major problems with the electoral process, click here.
So far as I know, I have never taken money from the C.I.A.. The same can’t be said for any number of prominent writers and artists, from Arthur Schlesinger Jr. to Jackson Pollock. During the early years of the cold war, they were supported, sometimes lavishly, always secretly, by the C.I.A. as part of its propaganda war against the Soviet Union. Yet once the facts came out in 1967 the episode became a source of scandal and controversy. How close should presumably independent intellectuals get to their government? Many books and articles were written about all this until 1999, when one book, Frances Stonor Saunders’ “Cultural Cold War,” swept the field. Saunders was highly critical of the “octopus-like C.I.A.” and those intellectuals who allowed themselves to be used as pawns in the government’s cold war game. But though her book was diligently researched and vigorously argued, it can hardly be considered the last word. Now the historian Hugh Wilford has come out with “The Mighty Wurlitzer,” and it can be seen as a direct rejoinder to Saunders. The story, Wilford says, is complicated. Far from being pawns, the intellectuals on the C.I.A. payroll were willing participants in what they understood as the legitimate cause of opposing Soviet tyranny. They took money for what they would have done anyway; the C.I.A. simply allowed them to be more effective at doing it.
Note: For lots more evidence on how the U.S. government has used propaganda against the American people, read this excellent article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on intelligence agency corruption and the manipulation of public perception.
Democrat Dennis Kucinich, who won less than 2 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary, said Thursday he wants a recount to ensure that all ballots in his party's contest were counted. The Ohio congressman cited "serious and credible reports, allegations and rumors" about the integrity of Tuesday results. In a letter dated Thursday, Kucinich said he does not expect significant changes in his vote total, but wants assurance that "100 percent of the voters had 100 percent of their votes counted." Kucinich alluded to online reports alleging disparities around the state between hand-counted ballots, which tended to favor Sen. Barack Obama, and machine-counted ones that tended to favor Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. He also noted the difference between pre-election polls, which indicated Obama would win, and Clinton's triumph by a 39 percent to 37 percent margin. [Deputy Secretary of State David] Scanlon said his office had received several phone calls since Tuesday, mostly from outside the state, questioning the results. New Hampshire's voting machines are not linked in any way, which Scanlon says reduces the likelihood of tampering with results on a statewide level. Also, the results can be checked against paper ballots. "I think people from out of state don't completely understand how our process works and they compare it to the system that might exist in Florida or Ohio, where they have had serious problems," he said. "Perhaps the best thing that could happen for us is to have a recount to show the people that ... the votes that were cast on election day were accurately reflected in the results."
Note: Except for this sparsely reported AP story, why didn't any media articles raise the question of voting machine manipulation? The SF Chronicle pointed out, "Pollster Mervin Field, a dean of American polling who has been measuring public opinion for more than six decades, notes that seven public and two private polls all reported on ... the day before the election that Obama was ahead of Clinton anywhere from 9 to 11 points." MSNBC's Chris Matthews stated: "Even our own exit polls, taken as people came out of voting, showed [Obama] ahead. So what's going on here?" For lots more on voting manipulation, click here.
BILL MOYERS: There's a big Democratic debate Saturday night in New Hampshire. Are you in that ABC debate? DENNIS KUCINICH: No, I'm not. [Yet] when you look at all the polls on the Internet I'm winning a number of them. MOYERS: Yeah, that August 22nd debate on ABC - you beat everybody. Obama by 5,000 or 6,000 votes. Clinton by 9,000 votes. And yet the mainstream media paid no attention to it, right? KUCINICH: Right. And I think that what's noteworthy is ... we have two cultures here. One which is the emerging culture of information technology that's Internet-based. And the other one is the more conventional TV technology which is coming to a clash. And I think they reflect some political trends in this country that maybe aren't getting too much attention. But they are going to have an impact. MOYERS: What rationale did ABC give you for not including you in Saturday night's debate? KUCINICH: Whatever their criteria was, they have no right to make the decision for the people of New Hampshire prior to the election being held. They have no right. The airwaves belong to the public. They don't belong to ABC. BILL MOYERS: What's the most important thing that people would have heard about you and your message if you were in the debate in New Hampshire? DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, first of all, I would have said that I'm the only real Democrat on the stage, that I reflect the mainstream of Democratic voters with aspirations for a full employment economy, healthcare for all, education for all, a new environmental approach ... carbon free, nuclear free. Ending the U.S. role in the world as an aggressor. Holding the [present] administration accountable. You know, the president and vice president ought to be impeached. And they should be held accountable for war crimes because we attacked a nation that did not attack us. Now, these are things that need to be said.
Bradblog has been chasing the story about former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds' offer to 'tell all.' [Daniel] Ellsberg says: "I'd say what she has is far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers. From what [Edmonds] has to tell, it has a major difference from the Pentagon Papers in that it deals directly with criminal activity and may involve impeachable offenses. And I don't necessarily mean the President or the Vice-President, though I wouldn't be surprised if the information reached up that high. But other members of the Executive Branch may be impeached as well. There will be phone calls going out to the media saying 'don't even think of touching [Edmonds' case], you will be prosecuted for violating national security.'" [Edmonds] said: "The media called from Japan and France and Belgium and Germany and Canada and from all over the world. I'm getting contact from all over the world, but not from here." More Ellsberg: "I am confident that there is conversation inside the Government as to 'How do we deal with Sibel?' The first line of defense is to ensure that she doesn't get into the media. I think any outlet that thought of using her materials would go to the government and they would be told 'don't touch this, it's communications intelligence.' As long as they hold a united front on this, they don't run the risk of being shamed." [Edmonds:] "I will name the name of major publications who know the story, and have been sitting on it --- almost a year and a half." "How do you know they have the story?," we asked. "I know they have it because people from the FBI have come in and given it to them. They've given them the documents and specific case-numbers on my case."
Note: Though this is not from one of our normal reliable sources, Dan Ellsberg is a highly respected whistleblower who has received an abundance of major media coverage over the years. As the mainstream media are clearly and consciously ignoring this story, we felt it deserved to be posted, even though we don't have a major media source to back it up. For lots more reliable information on this courageous woman, click here.
Coordinated antiwar protests in at least 11 American cities this weekend raised anew an interesting question about the nature of news coverage: Are the media ignoring rallies against the Iraq war because of their low turnout or is the turnout dampened by the lack of news coverage? I find it unsettling that I even have to consider the question. That most Americans oppose the war in Iraq is well established. Poll after poll has found substantial discontent with a war that ranks as the preeminent issue in the presidential campaign. Given that context, it seems remarkable to me that in some of the 11 cities in which protests were held – Boston and New York, for example – major news outlets treated this "National Day of Action" as though it did not exist. As far as I can tell, neither The New York Times nor The Boston Globe had so much as a news brief about the march in the days leading up to it. The day after, The Times, at least in its national edition, totally ignored the thousands who marched in New York and the tens of thousands who marched nationwide. The Globe relegated the news of 10,000 spirited citizens (including me) marching through Boston's rain-dampened streets to a short piece deep inside its metro section. A single sentence noted the event's national context. As a former newspaper editor, I was most taken aback by the silence beforehand. Surely any march of widespread interest warrants a brief news item to let people know that the event is taking place and that they can participate. It's called "advancing the news," and it has a time-honored place in American newsrooms.
Note: For hard-hitting critiques by famous journalists of major-media censorship of important news, click here.
Victor Viggiani has one of the toughest jobs in the universe. The retired elementary school principal spends his time lobbying reporters to blow a massive government cover-up wide open and reveal that extra-terrestrials have been visiting our planet for years. "I have no intention of convincing anybody of anything," said Viggiani, 59, director of media relations for Exopolitics Toronto, a non-profit educational group pushing for full disclosure of the truth about off-world beings. "What I do is point them to the evidence." Exopolitics is a field of study that has moved far beyond the question of whether we are alone in the universe. Its supporters believe there is enough evidence out there that they can state as fact that a) intelligent, sentient, ethical extra-terrestrials exist; b) they have made contact; and c) they probably have [many] lessons to teach us about sustainable energy sources and countless other matters of global importance. Viggiani [has] found [a] champion in Paul Hellyer, who was federal defence minister in Lester B. Pearson's cabinet. "I think the significance – and they are probably exaggerating it – but the significance is that I'm the first person of cabinet rank in the G8 to have come out openly and unequivocally and said the extra-terrestrial presence is real," said Hellyer. Stephen Bassett, executive director of the Paradigm Research Group in Washington, D.C., said the dearth of serious coverage has [him] suspecting whether publishers and national security forces are working together to keep things quiet. "The failure of the major media in the United States to cover the ET issue is one of the great failures of all journalism," he said.
Note: For powerful accounts of UFO sightings reported now and again by reliable sources, click here.
Frustrated by press leaks about its most sensitive electronic surveillance work, the secretive National Security Agency convened an unprecedented series of off-the-record "seminars" in recent years to teach reporters about the damage caused by such leaks and to discourage reporting that could interfere with the agency's mission to spy on America's enemies. The half-day classes featured high-ranking NSA officials highlighting objectionable passages in published stories and offering "an innocuous rewrite" that officials said maintained the "overall thrust" of the articles but omitted details that could disclose the agency's techniques, according to course outlines obtained by The New York Sun. Dubbed "SIGINT 101," using the NSA's shorthand for signals intelligence, the seminar was presented "a handful of times" between approximately 2002 and 2004. The syllabi make clear that the sessions, which took place at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., were conceived of ... as part of a campaign to limit the damage caused by leaks of sensitive intelligence. During one sensitive discussion, journalists were to be told they could not take any notes. The exact substitutions of language that the NSA proposed were deleted from the syllabi released to the Sun under the Freedom of Information Act. In 2005, following the publication of a New York Times story on a secret program for warrantless wiretapping ... Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss crusaded against leaks at the CIA and later told a Senate committee that he hoped reporters would be called before grand juries to identify their sources. Attorney General Gonzales also discussed the "possibility" of prosecuting journalists who wrote stories based on leaked intelligence. The syllabi, which are marked as drafts, list presenters including the director of the NSA at the time, General Michael Hayden, [now director of the CIA].
The leader of one the most notorious insurgent groups in Iraq was said to be a mysterious Iraqi named Abdullah Rashid al-Baghdadi. As the titular head of the Islamic State in Iraq, an organization publicly backed by Al Qaeda, Baghdadi issued a steady stream of incendiary pronouncements. Despite claims by Iraqi officials that he had been killed in May, Baghdadi appeared to have persevered unscathed. On Wednesday, a senior American military spokesman provided a new explanation for Baghdadi's ability to escape attack: He never existed. Brigadier General Kevin Bergner, the chief American military spokesman, said the elusive Baghdadi was actually a fictional character whose audio-taped declarations were provided by an elderly actor named Abu Adullah al-Naima. The ploy was to invent Baghdadi, a figure whose very name establishes his Iraqi pedigree, [and] install him as the head of a front organization called the Islamic State of Iraq. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's deputy, sought to reinforce the deception by referring to Baghdadi in his video and Internet statements. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and a Middle East expert ... suggested that the disclosures made Wednesday might not be the final word on Baghdadi and the leaders of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. "First, they say we have killed him," Riedel said, referring to the statements by some Iraqi government officials. "Then we heard him after his death and now they are saying he never existed. That suggests that our intelligence on Al Qaeda in Iraq is not what we want it to be."
Note: The above was written in 2007. More recently, the current Islamic State caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was reported in Newsweek to have been held alongside Al Qaeda militants by U.S. forces at Camp Bucca, a "virtual terrorist University" in Iraq.
The arguments against a federal shield law might be frightening if they were not so ludicrous. There are two ways to reassure yourself that legislation to allow journalists to protect the identity of confidential sources will not be exploited by terrorists, thugs, identity thieves, sleazy sleuths and anarchists who expose trade secrets. One is to look at the experience of 49 state laws that grant varying levels of protection for journalists using anonymous sources. The other is to read the bill. "The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007,'' sponsored by Reps. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Rick Boucher, D-Va., does not provide an absolute right for journalists to protect their sources. Under their HR2102, a journalist could be forced by the courts to reveal his or her source if the disclosure involved: -- A threat to national security. -- A threat of imminent death or significant [bodily] harm to a person. -- A trade secret of significant value. -- Personal financial or health information. [The] Justice Department, which has wielded subpoenas and threats of jail time against journalists in pursuing government leaks, has never liked the idea of a shield law. So it was hardly a surprise when it recently testified against HR2102. What was eye-poppingly outrageous was a Justice official's straight-faced attempt to suggest that criminals or terrorists would invoke the bill's protection for journalists to thwart prosecutors. "Totally absurd," House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said of the terrorism argument. However, the dangers that overzealous prosecutors pose to a free and independent press that Pence calls "essential to an informed" electorate are very real and growing. As Pence put it, "there may never be another Deep Throat" if whistle-blowers become worried that journalists cannot keep a promise of confidentiality.
The C.I.A. monitoring of journalists in 1963, 1971 and 1972, including wiretapping their phones and setting up observation posts across the street from their offices to track their comings and goings and their visitors, was a practice that the White House itself employed during the Nixon administration. The description of Project Mockingbird [details] C.I.A. wiretapping of two Washington reporters (unnamed) from March 12, 1963 to June 15, 1963. As with other questionable or illegal C.I.A. activities that were endorsed by top government officials, this account shows that spying on reporters was approved at the highest levels of the Kennedy administration. According to the transcripts of the tapes that President John F. Kennedy secretly recorded in the Oval Office, shortly after 6 p.m. on August 22,1962, JFK and Director of Central Intelligence John McCone discussed a plan for the CIA to wiretap members of the Washington press corps. The president told McCone to set up a domestic task force to stop the flow of secrets from the government to the newspapers. The order violated the agency’s charter, which specifically prohibits domestic spying. By ordering the director of central intelligence to conduct a program of domestic surveillance, Kennedy set a precedent that Presidents Johnson, Nixon, and George W. Bush would follow.
Note: This fascinating report discusses only a limited aspect of Operation Mockingbird, which included as well the placing of CIA agents in news organizations in decision-making positions for purposes of propaganda and information control.
On what should [have been] a happy day of fundraising in the four boroughs of New York City ... for Rudy Giuliani's 63rd birthday, a few protestors ruined his first event. At City Island's Sea Shore Restaurant in the Bronx, a young woman named Sabrina approached the Mayor with a prepared question, reading it word for word off of a notepad. "You reported to Peter Jennings on 9/11 that the World Trade Center towers were going to collapse. No steel structure in history has ever collapsed due to fire. How come the people in the buildings weren't notified and who else knew about this? How do you sleep at night?" Matthew Lepaceak, who stood on the other side of Giuliani, joined in. "But you said on ABC video with Peter Jennings in an interview that you were aware the towers were going to collapse in advance. Who told you the towers were going to collapse in advance, sir?" During this time, Giuliani had an incredulous look on his face, completely caught off guard. The statement they were referring to is from a phoner Giuliani had with Jennings. "We set up headquarters at 75 Barclay Street which was right there with the police commissioner and the fire commissioner, the head of emergency management, and we were operating out of there when we were told the World Traded Center was going to collapse." After being interrupted again, Giuliani responded with an explanation. "Our understanding was that over a long period of time, the way other buildings collapse, the towers could collapse. Meaning over a seven-, eight-, nine-, ten-hour period. No one that I knew of had any idea that they would implode. That was a complete surprise."
Note: To view a video clip of Rudy Giuliani describing how he was told of the Towers' collapse ahead of time, click here. To watch him deny what he said on this clip, watch this one. When so many have said no one could have predicted the fall of the towers, how is it that Giuliani knew otherwise -- and then denied ever knowing it?
While troop numbers are surging, the media that cover them are leaking away, worn out by the danger and expense of covering a war that refuses to end. Many of the journalists who are in Iraq have been backed into fortified corners, rarely venturing out to see what soldiers confront. And the remaining journalists who are embedded with the troops in Iraq — the number dropped to 92 in May from 126 in April — are risking more and more for less and less. Since last year, the military’s embedding rules require that journalists obtain a signed consent from a wounded soldier before the image can be published. Images that put a face on the dead, that make them identifiable, are simply prohibited. Ashley Gilbertson, a veteran freelance photographer who has been to Iraq seven times ... said the policy, as enforced, is coercive and unworkable. “They are not letting us cover the reality of war,” he added. “I think this has got little to do with the families or the soldiers and everything to do with politics.” Until last year, no permission was required to publish photographs of the wounded, but families had to be notified of the soldier’s injury first. Now, not only is permission required, but any image of casualties that shows a recognizable name or unit is off-limits. And memorials for the fallen in Iraq can no longer be shown, even when the unit in question invites coverage. James Glanz, a Baghdad correspondent ... for The New York Times ... said that “This tiny remaining corps of reporters becomes a greater and greater problem for the military brass because we are the only people preventing them from telling the story the way they want it told.”
By Dr. Michael Wilkes. When is a disease really a disease? Young doctors in training work hard, and so do lots of other people. When people work 24 hours in a row ... the body feels tired. Is this fatigue an abnormal physiologic state requiring medication and treatment, or is it a normal part of belonging to the human race? If abnormal, then doctors and pharmaceutical companies argue that the fatigue requires treatment. If it is normal -- despite a movement to label it as an illness -- then post-work fatigue belongs to the growing phenomenon of disease-mongering. "Disease-mongering" ... is the process of trying to convince healthy people that they are sick, or people with minor problems that they have extremely worrisome symptoms. This is all in an attempt to sell treatments. Countless examples of disease-mongering are driven by the pharmaceutical industry's drive to sell drugs. Conditions such as female sexual dysfunction syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, toenail fungus, baldness and social anxiety disorder (a.k.a. shyness) are a few places where the medical community has stepped in, thereby turning normal or mild conditions into diseases for which medication is the treatment. Most pharmaceutical companies devote huge amounts of money to prevent, control and cure diseases. When their profits don't match corporate expectations, they invent "new" diseases to be cured by existing drugs. What happens to real diseases when [the media] are filled with information promoting disease mongering? Government funding for public health campaigns pales by comparison with the billions spent by pharmaceutical companies on disease mongering intended to increase the markets for their products.
Note: For more reliable information about major corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Filmmaker Michael Moore has asked the Bush administration to call off an investigation of his trip to Cuba to get treatment for ailing Sept. 11 rescue workers for a segment in his upcoming health-care expose, “Sicko.” Moore, who made the hit documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” ... said in a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on Friday that the White House may have opened the investigation for political reasons. “For five and a half years, the Bush administration has ignored and neglected the heroes of the 9/11 community,” Moore said in the letter. “I understand why the Bush administration is coming after me — I have tried to help the very people they refuse to help, but until George W. Bush outlaws helping your fellow man, I have broken no laws and I have nothing to hide.” Harvey Weinstein, whose Weinstein Co. is releasing “Sicko,” told The Associated Press the movie is a “healing film” that could bring opponents together over the ills of America’s health-care system. “This time, we didn’t want the fight, because the movie unites both sides,” Weinstein said. “We’ve shown the movie to Republicans. Both sides of the bench love the film." Moore won an Academy Award for best documentary with his 2002 gun-control film “Bowling for Columbine” and scolded Bush in his Oscar acceptance speech as the war in Iraq was just getting under way. The investigation has given master promoter Moore another jolt of publicity just before the release of one of his films.
Note: WantToKnow.info founder Fred Burks was hit with a $7,500 fine for a 10-day vacation to Cuba in 1999. For some strange reason, his was the first Cuba travel case prosecuted. He has taken it to court, where the case is still undecided. For more, including a link to a Los Angeles Times article on his case, click here.
In an e-mail uncovered and released by the House Judiciary Committee last month, Tim Griffin, once Karl Rove's right-hand man, gloated that "no [U.S.] national press picked up" a BBC Television story reporting that the Rove team had developed an elaborate scheme to challenge the votes of thousands of African Americans in the 2004 election. Griffin wasn't exactly right. The Los Angeles Times did run a follow-up article. But ... most of the major U.S. newspapers and the vast majority of television news programs ignored the story even though it came at a critical moment just weeks before the election. In fact, not one U.S. newsperson even bothered to ask me or the BBC for the data and research we had painstakingly done. The truth is, I knew that a story like this one would never be reported in my own country [the U.S.], because investigative reporting ... is dying. Again and again, I see this pattern repeated. Back in December 2000, I received two computer disks from the office of Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. Analysis of the data ... indicated that Harris' office had purged thousands of African Americans from Florida's voter rolls as "felons." Florida now admits that many of these voters were not in fact felons. Nevertheless, the blacklisting helped cost Al Gore the White House. I reported on the phony felon purge in Britain's Guardian and Observer and on the BBC while Gore was still in the race, while the count was still on. Yet the story of the Florida purge never appeared in the U.S. daily papers or on television ... until months later, that is, after the Supreme Court had decided the election.
Note: The American-born author of this article, BBC reporter Greg Palast, has repeatedly exposed major corruption in the British media, yet the U.S. press often ignores his well-researched stories. For possibly the most amazing story he wrote which got virtually no U.S. media coverage, click here.
Four years ago on May 1, President Bush landed on the aircraft carrier USS Lincoln wearing a flight suit ... in front of a giant "Mission Accomplished" banner. He was hailed by media stars as a "breathtaking" example of presidential leadership in toppling Saddam Hussein. Despite profound questions over the failure to locate weapons of mass destruction and the increasing violence in Baghdad, many in the press confirmed the White House's claim that the war was won. How did the mainstream press get it so wrong? How did the evidence disputing the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the link between Saddam Hussein to 9-11 continue to go largely unreported? In the run-up to war, skepticism was a rarity among journalists inside the Beltway. The [PBS "Buying the War"] program analyzes the stream of unchecked information from administration sources and Iraqi defectors to the mainstream print and broadcast press. While almost all the claims would eventually prove to be false, the drumbeat of misinformation about WMDs went virtually unchallenged by the media. "Buying the War" examines the press coverage in the lead-up to the war as evidence of a paradigm shift in the role of journalists in democracy and asks, four years after the invasion, what's changed? "More and more the media become ... common carriers of administration statements," says the Washington Post's Walter Pincus. "We've sort of given up being independent on our own."
Note: You can view the highly revealing documentary "Buying the War" or read the transcript at the link above.
Whistle-blower AT&T technician Mark Klein says his effort to reveal alleged government surveillance of domestic Internet traffic was blocked not only by U.S. intelligence officials but also by the top editors of the Los Angeles Times. Klein describes how he stumbled across "secret NSA rooms" being installed at an AT&T switching center in San Francisco and later heard of similar rooms in at least six other cities. Eventually, Klein says he decided to take his documents to the Los Angeles Times, to blow the whistle on what he calls "an illegal and Orwellian project." But after working for two months with LA Times reporter Joe Menn, Klein says he was told the story had been killed at the request of then-Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte and then-director of the NSA Gen. Michael Hayden. Klein says he then took his AT&T documents to The New York Times, which published its exclusive account last April. In the court case against AT&T, Negroponte formally invoked the "state secrets privilege," claiming the lawsuit and the information from Klein and others could "cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States." The Los Angeles Times' decision was made by the paper's editor at the time, Dean Baquet, now the Washington bureau chief of The New York Times. As the new Washington bureau chief of The New York Times, Baquet now oversees the reporters who have broken most of the major stories involving the government surveillance program, often over objections from the government.
Note: So after the NY Times has the guts to report this important story, the man who was responsible for the censorship at the LA Times is transferred to the very position in the NY Times where he can now block future stories there. For why this case of blatant media censorship isn't making headlines, click here.
Afghan journalists covering the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack ... said U.S. troops deleted their photos and video and warned them not to publish or air any images of U.S. troops or a car where three Afghans were shot to death. A freelance photographer working for The Associated Press and a cameraman working for AP Television News said a U.S. soldier deleted their photos and video showing a four-wheel drive vehicle in which three people were shot to death. The photographer, Rahmat Gul, said witnesses at the scene told him the three had been shot to death by U.S. forces fleeing the attack. "When I went near the four-wheel drive, I saw the Americans taking pictures of the same car, so I started taking pictures," Gul said. "Two soldiers with a translator came and said, 'Why are you taking pictures?."' It wasn't clear why the accredited journalists would need permission to take photos of a civilian car on a public highway. The American ... warned him that he did not want to see any AP photos published anywhere. The American also raised his fist in anger as if he were going to hit him, but he did not strike, Gul said. Taqiullah Taqi, a reporter for Afghanistan's largest television station, Tolo TV, said Americans were using abusive language. "They said, 'Delete them, or we will delete you,"' Taqi said. A freelance cameraman for AP Television News said ... a U.S. officer told him that he could not go any closer to the scene but that he could shoot footage. The cameraman asked not to be named for his own safety. As he was filming, he said, a U.S. soldier and translator "ordered us not to move." The cameraman said they were very angry and deleted any footage that included the Americans.
Note: Why is this kind of media censorship not being more widely reported? For more, click here.
A furious row has been raging in the international Jewish community over the rights and wrongs of criticising Israel. At its centre is a British historian [Tony Judt] who accuses his fellow Jews in the US of stifling any debate about Israel. His opponents say his views give succour to anti-Semites. In an essay written by the Holocaust scholar Alvin Rosenfeld and published by the American Jewish Committee, Judt's views - and those of other 'progressive Jews' ... were expressly linked to anti-Semitism. That row was reported in the New York Times, giving it an unprecedented prominence, and since then the story has opened the floodgates of a debate that until now has been shrouded in fear. Americans have long been in the grip of a cultural taboo that is characterised by Judt as follows: 'All Jews are silenced by the requirement to be supportive of Israel, and all non-Jews are silenced by the fear of being thought anti-Semitic, and there is no conversation on the subject.' [A] new forum for dissent ... was launched in Britain last week by an eminent group. In launching its manifesto, Independent Jewish Voices has taken the 40th anniversary of the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as an occasion to create 'a climate and a space in which Jews of different affiliations and persuasions can express their opinions about the actions of the Israeli government without being accused of disloyalty or ... self-hating.' One of its founding principles is: 'The battle against anti-Semitism is vital and is undermined whenever opposition to Israeli government policies is automatically branded as anti-Semitic.'
Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine the UN climate change report. Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute, an ExxonMobil-funded think tank with close links to the Bush Administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of the report. Travel expenses and additional payments were also offered. The institute has received more than $1.6 million from ExxonMobil - which yesterday announced a $50 billion annual profit, the biggest ever by a US company - and more than 20 of its staff have worked as consultants to the Bush Administration. A former head of ExxonMobil, Lee Raymond, is the vice-chairman of the institute's board of trustees.
The world's largest publicly owned oil company announced yesterday the largest corporate profit ever, but news of its near $40-billion (U.S.) windfall in 2006 sparked an angry backlash, coming on the eve of a major report blaming the use of fossil fuels for wreaking devastation on the planet. Exxon shares have risen by about 20 per cent in the past year. Exxon wasn't alone in unprecedented oil earnings. Royal Dutch Shell PLC, an Anglo-Dutch company, and U.S.-run Marathon Oil and Valero Energy, also posted best-ever annual results yesterday. And ConocoPhillips Co., also American, last week posted its highest profits. Profits at the five companies together totalled $91.1-billion -- in a year when drivers paid record prices for gasoline. Both Democratic and Republican members of Congress have also urged Exxon to end its funding of organizations that deny the existence of -- or minimize the seriousness of -- human-made global warming. Scientists yesterday accused the conservative American Enterprise Institute, which receives funding from Exxon, of offering scientists up to $10,000 for articles that undercut a report to be released today from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Last month, the Union of Concerned Scientists ... said that Exxon has spent $16-million over the past 10 years financing organizations that deny the seriousness of climate change. Alden Meyer, a strategist with the group, compared Exxon's efforts to discredit the science of global warming to the tobacco companies' efforts to sow doubts about the link between smoking and lung cancer in order to protect their profits.
Note: Compare this Canadian article with the New York Times reporting of this record profit, or that of any other major U.S. newspaper. The U.S. press barely mentions that oil company gouging which took dollars from your pocket is what led to record profits. To understand why the U.S. press behaves in this way, click here.
A federal judge on Friday dismissed a libel lawsuit filed against The New York Times by a former Army scientist once identified as a person of interest in the 2001 anthrax attacks. U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton in Alexandria dismissed the case a week after lawyers for the Times argued that Steven Hatfill should be considered a public figure under libel law, which makes it much more difficult for a public figure to win a judgment than a private citizen. The judge did not explain his ruling in the order issued Friday. Hatfill had claimed that a series of columns falsely implicated him as the culprit in the anthrax attacks. Kristof said all along that he never intended to accuse Hatfill but simply wanted to prod a dawdling FBI investigation. He initially referred to Hatfill in his columns only as “Mr. X,” and identified him by name only after Hatfill held a news conference to denounce rumors that had been swirling around him. Hatfill argued that the columns contained enough information about him that people could deduce his identity. Five people were killed and 17 sickened by anthrax that had been mailed to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and members of the news media in New York and Florida just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The case remains unsolved.
Note: There is much more here than meets the eye. This article fails to mention some key facts. As reported by the highly respected Federation of American Scientists, "the New York Times invoked the 'state secrets' doctrine last month in a motion to dismiss the libel suit brought against it by Steven J. Hatfill." What secrets would be divulged? Could this have anything to do with the many microbiologists who were murdered or died under mysterious circumstances within months of the anthrax scares? For more, click here.
The questions from the civilian spokesman at Fort Lewis started sounding suspicious to Sarah Olson. He had called to ask the Oakland freelance journalist about the accuracy of quotes in her story about Lt. Ehren Watada, which had appeared on the liberal Web site Truthout.org. As the telephone conversation progressed, Olson realized that the military was using her to fortify its case against Watada, whom it was prosecuting as the first commissioned officer to refuse deployment to Iraq. While Watada faces a court-martial next month for conduct unbecoming an officer, the U.S. military pursues Olson. Last month, military prosecutors subpoenaed the 31-year-old writer and radio journalist, asking her to appear at his court-martial, scheduled to begin next month, to verify what Watada said. If Olson doesn't testify, she faces six months in jail or a $500 fine and a felony charge for a story she was paid $300 to write. Olson doesn't want to be part of a legal action that she believes limits someone's free speech. She came to journalism six years ago ... hoping to create more places for dissenting or seldom-heard voices, not fewer. "Journalists should not be asked to participate in the prosecution of political speech," Olson said. [She] isn't being asked to reveal unpublished work. "What I don't understand is why they (prosecutors) can't get this information digitally," said Fidell, president of the National Institute of Military Justice. Olson doesn't have a problem with journalists testifying in court. She doesn't want journalists to be coerced to testify in cases that could limit free speech.
Note: Truthout.org is one of the main sources of our information. Interesting that one of their reporters should be targeted in this way. For stories by 20 award-winning journalists on how the media is controlled, click here.
In a nation that preaches the virtues of democracy, the United States government has consistently eroded the media's ability to report. U.S. press freedom has been slipping away since Sept. 11, 2001. Many other countries are now ranked freer than the United States. In the most recent survey by Freedom House [the U.S.] tied for 17th place. International free-press advocates Reporters Without Borders ranked us 53rd, tied with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga. Now that we are in a seemingly permanent "war" on terrorism, the government claims wartime powers that result in restricting press freedom. The Bush administration has multiplied exponentially the number of documents it classifies as secret. The office of Vice President Dick Cheney claims to be exempt from reporting even the numbers of records it brands with the "classified" stamp. Within weeks after 9/11, President Bush issued Executive Order 13233, allowing him to veto public release not only of his own presidential papers but those of former [presidents]. One of former Attorney General John Ashcroft's first post-Sept. 11 acts was to issue a directive to federal agencies restricting access to government records under the Freedom of Information Act. Cheney [refused] to disclose even the identity of the corporate executives he met with to determine the administration's energy policy. The U.S. Supreme Court held ... that there is no such thing as a First Amendment right of access to government information or facilities. The Bush administration did not advance press freedom by producing ... favorable "news" stories with fake reporters. It is hard to stomach the hypocrisy of claiming to spread democracy abroad while restricting at home the very freedoms that make democracy possible.
There was a time when "Coast to Coast AM," the late-night syndicated talk radio show dedicated to paranormal activities and political conspiracies, didn't get much respect. That all changed when millions from the mainstream met up with the after-midnight fringe folks to make "Coast to Coast AM" a top-rated radio show. George Noory...has hosted the program on weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. PST full time since 2003. The show...was taking calls about Sept. 11 conspiracy theories just two weeks after the terrorist attacks. "Coast to Coast AM"...can now reach upward of 3 million listeners through 500 stations each week. "There's absolutely a growing conspiracy climate," said Noory. "People are tired of being misled and confused from taking information directly from a government official." Noory, 56, took over "Coast to Coast AM" when the show's founder, Art Bell, retired. Bell, who has come in and out of retirement several times over the years, now hosts the program on weekends from his new home in the Philippines. Judging by the 300-plus phone calls and 1,000 e-mails the show receives on an average night...listeners include liberals, conservatives, senior citizens in San Francisco, college students in South Carolina and even soldiers in Iraq. Talkers magazine, the trade publication that tracks radio ratings, has Noory in the top 10 of its "Top Talk Radio Audiences," alongside Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly [and] Sean Hannity. "Coast to Coast" has on occasion scooped major media outlets like the New York Times and CNN, according to Noory. "We broke the story on the Dubai ports," said Noory. "We broke the story on SARS, and we were the first to report on the bird flu pandemic."
If we believe what we see in the media, the world is on fire. The impression we get is that conflicts are increasing all around the globe while the stockpile of deadly weapons constantly expands. All this is very troubling—and quite untrue. The exhaustive Human Security Report offers a very different picture of our world. The 2005 report finds clear evidence that the world is becoming a more peaceful place. Myth 1: War is spreading. Yes, the number of armed conflicts increased sharply after World War II, but has just as sharply declined since 1991. In the last 15 years...the number of armed conflicts and wars actually fell at least 40 percent. The number of genocides and political murders declined by no less than 80 percent. In 1950, the average conflict claimed the lives of 38,000 people, while in 2002 that figure was 600, a decline of 98 percent. Myth 2: The weapons arsenal is increasing. International arms trade fell 33 percent between 1990 and 2000, and as a percentage of the value of the world economy, defence spending declined from 4.2 to 2.7 percent. Myth 3: Civilians are the vast majority of war victims. In the most recent wars, civilians account for somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of deaths. Myth 4: Women are the primary victims of war. War continues to be waged by men, against men. Ninety percent of the victims are men. Myth 5: Terrorism is the biggest threat in the world. Over the past 30 years, an average of slightly less than 3,000 people have died at the hands of terrorists each year. The chance of being a victim of terrorism remains exceptionally small. Between alleged and real threats, there is often little correlation.
The US defence department has set up a new unit to better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet. The Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter "inaccurate" news stories and exploit new media. The newly-established unit would use "new media" channels to push its message and "set the record straight", Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff said. A Pentagon memo seen by the Associated Press news agency said the new unit would "develop messages" for the 24-hour news cycle and aim to "correct the record". The unit would reportedly monitor media such as weblogs and would also employ "surrogates", or top politicians or lobbyists who could be interviewed on TV and radio shows.
The news media advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders released their fifth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index this week. It shows that the United States has dropped 9 places since last year, and is now ranked 53rd, alongside Botswana, Croatia and Tonga. The authors of the report say that the steady erosion of press freedom in countries like the US, France and Japan (two other countries that slipped significantly on the index) is "very alarming." The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of "national security" to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his "war on terrorism." The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognize the media's right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism. Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj...has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that the organization bases the index on responses to 50 questions about press freedom asked of journalists, free press organizations, researchers, human rights activists and others.
Note: It is quite interesting that the Washington Post article fails to mention the low ranking of the U.S. in the title of its article and only mentions the #53 rank in the second half of their article on the subject.
On Sept. 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the terror attacks that devastated our nation, a man crashed his car into a building in Davenport, Iowa, hoping to blow it up and kill himself in the fire. No national newspaper, magazine or network newscast reported this attempted suicide bombing, though an AP wire story was available. Cable news (save for MSNBC's Keith Olbermann) was silent about this latest act of terrorism in America. Had the criminal, David McMenemy, been Arab or Muslim, this would have been headline news for weeks. But since his target was the Edgerton Women's Health Center...media have not called this terrorism - even after three decades of extreme violence by anti-abortion fanatics. Abortion providers and activists received 77 letters threatening anthrax attacks before 9/11, yet the media never considered anthrax threats as terrorism until after 9/11, when such letters were delivered to journalists' offices and members of Congress. Is McMenemy a lone nutcase, or a member of that network of violent extremists? We don't know, because journalists haven't investigated. Nor have they reported that just last year, nearly one in five abortion clinics experienced gunfire, arson, bombings, chemical attacks, assaults, stalking, death threats and blockades. The feds have taken over McMenemy's case, charging him with arson against a business affecting interstate commerce. Yet as of Oct. 5, no news outlet on Nexis reported this, despite a second AP story. As we continue national debates on how to keep America safe from terrorism, journalists do us...no good pretending that the threats come only from radical Muslims outside our borders.
Note: MSNBC's prime time news anchor Keith Olbermann recently received a threatening letter with white powder, yet this received virtually no coverage. Could it be because Olbermann has been quite critical of the current administration lately? For one of the very few articles on this, click here. For MSNBC article, click here
The Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper, The New York Post, may have just impeded an FBI investigation into terroristic threats. I know this because I was a recipient. The Bureau asked us not to report any of the details so that the person or persons responsible would not know any of the threats had been received by any of the targets -- and we of course complied. I still cannot confirm many of the specifics -- again in order to make the jobs of the FBI and the New York Police Department a little easier. But I find it necessary to respond to the genuinely shocking tone with which Murdoch's paper reported the event, and the string of factual errors they made either through negligence or a premeditated disregard for the truth. “Powder Puff Spooks Keith," reads the headline. The article then gives the details of the event which we were asked not to divulge. Also, a New York Post reporter attempted to gain access to me by falsely identifying herself as a friend of mine. And, most relevantly, the New York Post never called NBC News or MSNBC seeking any comment. They would have been told that the FBI had requested we try to keep this quiet. But of course that would have interfered with the New York Post making fun of a terror threat. It's almost melodramatic to ask why the New York Post would choose the side of domestic terrorism, rather than choose the side of the FBI. It's interesting too that Murdoch's paper was able to get a jump on this story so quickly -- nearly as quickly, as if they'd known it was coming.
Note: MSNBC's prime time news anchor Keith Olbermann is one of the very few in the media who have had the courage to report some of the major cover-ups going on with elections, 9/11 and more. Isn't it interesting that he would be the target of an anthrax threat and that no media made a serious attempt to report any of this?
China has secretly fired powerful laser weapons designed to disable American spy satellites by "blinding" their sensitive surveillance devices. The hitherto unreported attacks have been kept secret by the Bush administration for fear that it would damage attempts to co-opt China in diplomatic offensives against North Korea and Iran. Sources told the military affairs publication Defense News that there had been a fierce internal battle within Washington over whether to make the attacks public. In the end, the Pentagon's annual assessment of the growing Chinese military build-up barely mentioned the threat. "After a contentious debate, the White House directed the Pentagon to limit its concern to one line," Defense News said. The document said that China could blind American satellites with a ground-based laser firing a beam of light to prevent spy photography as they pass over China. According to senior American officials: "China not only has the capability, but has exercised it." American satellites like the giant Keyhole craft have come under attack "several times" in recent years.
Public kept in dark as business leads talks about North American integration. Away from the spotlight, from Sept. 12 to 14, in Banff Springs, Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day and Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor met with U.S. and Mexican government officials and business leaders to discuss North American integration at the second North American Forum. The guest list included such prominent figures as U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Mexican Secretary of Public Security Eduardo Medina Mora and Canadian Forces chief General Rick Hillier. The event was chaired by former U.S. secretary of state George Schultz, former Alberta premier, Peter Lougheed and former Mexican finance minister Pedro Aspe. Organizers did not alert the media about the event. Our government ... refuses to release any information about the content of the discussions or the actors involved. The event was organized by the Canadian Council of Chief Executives. The media have paid little attention to this far-reaching agreement, so Canadians are unaware that a dozen working groups are currently "harmonizing" Canadian and U.S. regulations on everything from food to drugs to the environment and even more contentious issues like foreign policy. This process ... is about priming North America for better business by weakening the impacts of such perceived obstacles as environmental standards and labour rights. This is why the public has been kept in the dark while the business elite has played a leading role in designing the blueprint for this more integrated North America.
Note: If the above link fails, click here. Why has the U.S. media not covered this key topic? For a second article discussing this secret meeting on a top Canadian TV website, click here. To learn about other secret meetings of the power elite, click here
The Federal Communications Commission ordered its staff to destroy all copies of a draft study that suggested greater concentration of media ownership would hurt local TV news coverage. Adam Candeub, now a law professor at Michigan State University, said senior managers at the agency ordered that "every last piece" of the report be destroyed. "The whole project was just stopped - end of discussion," he said. Candeub was a lawyer in the FCC's Media Bureau at the time the report was written and communicated frequently with its authors, he said. The report, written by two economists in the FCC's Media Bureau, analyzed a database of 4,078 individual news stories broadcast in 1998. The analysis showed local ownership of television stations adds almost five and one-half minutes of total news to broadcasts and more than three minutes of "on-location" news. The conclusion is at odds with FCC arguments made when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of television stations a company could own in a single market. It was part of a broader decision liberalizing ownership rules. At that time, the agency pointed to evidence that "commonly owned television stations are more likely to carry local news than other stations."
Note: For an excellent two-page summary of media censorship, see http://www.WantToKnow.info/mediacover-up
The Bush administration’s Office of Cuba Broadcasting paid 10 journalists here to provide commentary on Radio and TV Martí, which transmit to Cuba government broadcasts critical of Fidel Castro, a spokesman for the office said Friday. The group included three journalists at El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister newspaper of The Miami Herald, which fired them Thursday after learning of the relationship. Pablo Alfonso, who reports on Cuba for El Nuevo Herald, received the largest payment, almost $175,000 since 2001. Other journalists have been found to accept money from the Bush administration, including Armstrong Williams, a commentator and talk-show host who received $240,000 to promote its education initiatives. But while the Castro regime has long alleged that some Cuban-American reporters in Miami were paid by the government, the revelation on Friday ... was the first evidence of that. After Mr. Williams admitted in 2005 to accepting money from the Federal Education Department through a public relations company, federal auditors said the Bush administration had violated the law by disseminating “covert propaganda.” A few months later, The Los Angeles Times reported that the Pentagon had paid millions of dollars to another public relations firm to plant propaganda in the Iraqi news media and pay friendly Iraqi journalists monthly stipends.
Familiar, disturbing images from five years ago flash by in "9/11: Press for Truth." But the 86-minute documentary, directed by Ray Nowosielski of Indianapolis, also asks what warnings top government officials received before the terrorist attacks, and why so many questions remain unanswered. The limited-run movie, opening in 27 cities, premieres tonight in Manhattan. It will show in Indianapolis Friday through Monday. Nowosielski, 25, and co-producer John Duffy got the idea for the movie in 2003, during their last semester of film school at Columbia College Chicago. It was there they learned of Paul Thompson's "The Complete 9/11 Timeline," and went online to read the researcher's compilation detailing the events surrounding that fateful day. "We ended up reading until the sun came up," said Nowosielski, who recently opened a Massachusetts Avenue office. Nowosielski said he double-checked whatever they used. "We did everything we could" to ensure accuracy. The documentary prominently features Thompson; Bob McIlvaine, whose son died in the World Trade Center attack; and several 9/11 widows who became known as "the Jersey Girls." McIlvaine, after screening a rough version of the film, sent Nowosielski an e-mail signed "Forever grateful," thanking the filmmakers and saying, "Every high school, college and university should have a copy of this documentary."
Note: Don't miss this amazing, moving 9/11 documentary (86 minutes) now available for free viewing on Google video at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1016720641536424083. The film is also available for purchase at http://cooperativeresearch.org/911_press_for_truth.html.
It was early December 2002. [Carlotta] Gall, the Afghanistan correspondent for The New York Times, had just seen a press release from the U.S. military announcing the death of a prisoner at its Bagram Air Base. Soon thereafter the military issued a second release about another detainee death at Bagram. Gall: “I just wanted to know more. And I came up against a blank wall." The body of one of the detainees had been returned, a young taxi driver known as Dilawar. Gall met with Dilawar’s family, and his brother handed Gall a death certificate...that the military had issued. “It said, ‘homicide.’ The press release announcing Dilawar’s death stated...heart attack, a conclusion