Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fantasyland Media:

Each week, we cover the stories that are just left out of the US propaganda machine. News that the people in charge, the corporations and your government want to keep from the public eye.


Common Dreams:
"As the world's most vulnerable populations succumb to surging global food prices—driven in part by drought, climate change, and a global food system increasingly vulnerable to the whims of commodity speculation, Goldman Sachs has managed to turn the poverty and suffering of others into profits for itself.

Pulling in more than $400 million in profits last year through risky and damaging food speculation practices, the Wall Street financial titan has once again profited from others' misfortune, The Independent reports Tuesday.

According to an analysis conducted for The Independent by the World Development Movement (WDM), 2012 investment practices in the 'soft commodities' trade (e.g. wheat and maize) by financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, drove prices to unprecedented highs while bank profits increased and banker bonuses were handed out readily.

Goldman's food speculation contributed to a roughly 68 per cent jump in profits for 2012, The Independent reports, while it increased the average pay and bonus package of its bankers to nearly $396,500.

Christine Haigh of the WDM stated: 'While nearly a billion people go hungry, Goldman Sachs bankers are feeding their own bonuses by betting on the price of food. Financial speculation is fueling food price spikes and Goldman Sachs is the No. 1 culprit.' "

->There were dozens of NY Times stories over the last week about Goldman Sachs. Non of them mention the $400 million in profits from food speculation. All the news that Wall Street sees fit to print.


Common Dreams:
"Three US drone attacks in Yemen in as many days—which have left as many as fifteen people dead— gives further proof that the CIA, according to recent comments made to the Washington Post by a former government official familiar with Obama's assassination program, has 'put the pedal to the metal' when it comes to administering the controversial tactic.

And, as Obama was sworn in to his second term in Washington Monday, critics of the 'kill list' took the opportunity to once again warn against the insidious consequences of his ongoing program.

On Saturday, two separate attacks saw US missiles destroy a house and its occupants in the province of al-Bayda and later a car and those it carried was targeted in the city of Maarib...

As Agence France-Presse reports, 'Monday's raid brings to at least 25 the number of people killed in US drone strikes since such assaults were intensified on December 24.' "

-->The NY Times didn't print this story. For the details, we have to go to a French or English newspaper. 


Common Dreams:
"...Western governments and media have done the public a major disservice by trumpeting warnings of an 'Islamist threat' in Mali. It’s as if Osama bin Laden has popped up on the Niger River. Our newest crisis in Africa is not driven primarily by religion but by a spreading uprising against profoundly corrupt, western-backed oligarchic governments and endemic poverty.

Mali’s troubles began last year when it shaky government was overthrown. Meanwhile, heavily-armed nomadic Tuareg tribesmen, who had served Libya’s late Col. Gadaffi as mercenaries until he was overthrown by French and US intervention, poured back into their homeland in Mali’s north. A major unexpected consequence, fierce Tuareg warriors, who battled French colonial rule for over a century, were fighting for an independent homeland, known as Azawad...

France, the colonial ruler of most of West Africa until 1960, has overthrown and imposed client regimes there ever since. French political, financial and military advisors and intelligence services ran West Africa from behind a fa├žade of supposedly independent governments. Disobedient regimes were quickly booted out by elite French troops and Foreign Legionnaires based in West Africa that guarded France’s mining and oil interests in what was known as 'FrancAfrique.' "

-->How refreshing this is after reading about Mali's Islamic terrorists in The NY Times. How simplistic US coverage really is when it comes to US military interventions in the Middle East or Africa. It's like the news is being pitched to idiots.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fantasyland Media:

Each week, we cover the stories that are just left out of the US propaganda machine. News that the people in charge, the corporations and your government want to keep from the public eye.


The NY Times:
Friday's front page picture and extensive story entitled "Heat, Flood or Icy Cold, Extreme Weather Rages Worldwide" sets a new record for American's premier news publication. Readers are taken around the world with images and often frightening stories of how dangerous climate change has become. 

So much in depth reporting, but not a word about what might be causing these planet wide calamities. You would think that just one of the multitude of people interviewed might mention fossil fuels, but no. Same goes with the scientists and the meteorologists. Not one touches on the reasons behind climate change. Not one even mentions that it could be "man made" and have something to do with America's refusal to implement any meaningful change in energy production or consumption. 

Mindless reporting. This is an article that Exxon Mobil and the Koch Brothers can support. Which is the point, of course. The NY Times along with much our our national media is in bed with the energy producers. And it's this sellout by our media that will delay any action on global climate change until it is too late. 

The real story should be: "NY Times Continues to Obscure the Reasons Behind Climate Change." 


Democracy Now:
"Well, on financial matters, Jack Lew has been a failure of pretty epic proportions, and he gets promoted precisely because he is willing to be a failure and is so useful to Wall Street interests. So, you’ve mentioned two of the things in terms of the most important and most destructive deregulation under President Clinton by statute. But he was also there for much of the deregulation by rule, and a strong proponent of it, and he was there for much of the cutting of staff. For example, the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, lost three-quarters of its staff, and that huge loss began under Clinton. And the whole reinventing government, Lew was a strong supporter of that. And, for example, we were taught—instructed by Washington that we were to refer to banks as our "clients" in our role as regulators and to think of them as clients.

He goes from there to Wall Street, where he was a complete failure... And the unit that he was heading would have not been permissible but for the deregulation of getting rid of Glass-Steagall under President Clinton. And you saw, as an example of Citicorp, why we shouldn’t be doing this. Why would we create a federal subsidy where all of us, through the U.S. government, are on the hook for Citicorp’s gambling on financial derivatives for its own account, you know, running a casino operation? That makes absolutely no public policy sense.

Then he comes into the Obama administration, and he was disastrously wrong. He tried very hard to impose austerity on the United States back in 2011, which is—he wanted, you know, the European strategy, which has pushed the eurozone back into recession, and Spain, Greece and Italy into Great Depression levels of unemployment."

-->The NY Times doesn't see Jacob Lew, Obama's nominee for Treasury head, as a Wall Street patsy ready to throw the US public under the bus for the big banks. The story that appeared in our newspaper of record is entitled, "Obama Picks a Wall St. Outsider to Lead Treasury." It is simply more dishonest reporting about Wall Street, a hallmark of The NY Times.


The Guardian UK:
"Hundreds of thousands of Iranians with serious illnesses have been put at imminent risk by the unintended consequences of international sanctions, which have led to dire shortages of life-saving medicines such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer and bloodclotting agents for haemophiliacs.

Western governments have built waivers into the sanctions regime – aimed at persuading Tehran to curb its nuclear programme – in an effort to ensure that essential medicines get through, but those waivers are not functioning, as they conflict with blanket restrictions on banking, as well as bans on 'dual-use' chemicals which might have a military application...

'There are patients for whom a medicine is the different between life and death. What is the world doing about this? Are Britain, Germany, and France thinking about what they are doing? If you have cancer and you can't find your chemotherapy drug, your death will come soon. It is as simple as that.' "

-->The NY Times would never cover a story like this that makes the empire look bad. It's as simple as that. Our nation's premier newspaper always chooses Pentagon interests over its readership's right to know.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fantasyland Media:

Each week, we cover the stories that are just left out of the US propaganda machine. News that the people in charge, the corporations and your government want to keep from the public eye.


The Nation:
"In the latest incident of charter school fraud, the state of Oregon is going after a pair of charter school con men who reportedly scammed the state out of $17 million.

The Oregonian is reporting that Tim King and Norm Donohoe, who ran a chain of taxpayer-funded charter schools under the guise of a nonprofit named EdChoices, 'submitted false, incomplete and misleading records about how many students were enrolled in the schools and how they were spending the state's money...'

The state provided startup grants of up to $450,000 per charter school. The state Department of Education also paid about $6,000 a year for each student enrolled, relying on the charter school operators to document the number. The state now says those records were 'erroneous, false and misleading.' According to a state court filing, brought Thursday by the Oregon Department of Justice in Marion County Circuit Court, the pair is accused of racketeering and money laundering from 2007 to 2010 and is being ordered to repay the $17 million plus an additional $2.7 million for breach of contract and attorney fees...

Evidence suggests this is not the first or last time parents, students and state education boards will be swindled by privatized education. This summer, a renowned Philadelphia charter school mogul was indicted on multiple counts of wire fraud, obstruction of justice, and witness tampering. And between 2005 and 2011, the US Department of Education opened 53 investigations into charter school fraud, resulting in 21 indictments and 17 convictions in states including California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania.”

-- >No mention of this story in The NY Times. The corporate powers have decided to privatize public schools, so our newspaper of record doesn't do much reporting on the widespread corruption in the charter school movement.


Guardian UK:
"Michael Boyle, a former security adviser for Barack Obama, now says the Pentagon's targeted drone program is counter-productive, is 'encouraging a new arms race,' and has killed far more civilians than has been acknowledged. In an article for the January 2013 issue of the journal International Affairs, Michael Boyle, a La Salle University expert on counterterrorism who served as an adviser on the Obama campaign's counterterrorism expert group from July 2007-November 2008, writes that the Obama administration's increasing reliance on drone attacks is having 'adverse strategic effects that have not been properly weighed against the tactical gains associated with killing terrorists,' the Guardian reports.

Although Obama pledged to end the so-called 'War on Terror,' Boyle continues:
'Instead, he has been just as ruthless and indifferent to the rule of law as his predecessor ... while President Bush issued a call to arms to defend civilisation against the threat of terrorism, President Obama has waged his war on terror in the shadows, using drone strikes, special operations and sophisticated surveillance to fight a brutal covert war against al-Qaida and other Islamist networks.'

Boyle argues that the administration has been 'successful in spinning the number of civilian casualties' because it has reportedly begun counting all military-age men in the strike zone as militants unless the administration has clear evidence to the contrary, the Guardian reports. As a result, the standards the US uses to select targets has been 'gradual(ly) loosening.' "

-- >The NY Times and the rest of the US media didn't touch this story. Some freedom of press we have in the USA. Readers have to go to Irish, Australian or UK newspapers to read about this, although Democracy Now did cover it.


Huffington Post:
"WASHINGTON -- The White House did not inform a key Senate backer of whistleblower protections ahead of time that President Barack Obama would issue a signing statement circumventing those provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, according to the senator's office.

The protections for federal government contractors had been pushed by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) during the drafting of the NDAA over the last several months. After Obama signed the bill into law on Wednesday, he issued a signing statement objecting to those sections without having alerted McCaskill, her office told The Huffington Post.

The signing statement is yet another chapter in the president's ongoing clash with whistleblower advocates. Obama, who has come under fire for his administration's aggressive prosecution of leak cases, issued the statement despite the fact that the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence had already removed from the bill protections for contractors working in the intelligence community."

-- >The NY Times often lets our charlatan of a president off the hook for his continual attacks on civil liberties. This story wasn't covered.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Fantasyland Media:

Each week, we cover the stories that are just left out of the US propaganda machine. News that the people in charge, the corporations and your government want to keep from the public eye.


The Nation:
"Preserving Social Security should never have been all that difficult. But it took Harry Reid to settle the issue —at least as regards the miserably long and absurdly inappropriate debate of 2012.

'We’re not going to have any Social Security cuts,' the Senate majority leader said on the floor of the chamber Sunday. 'It’s just doesn’t seem appropriate at this time.'

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, had attempted Saturday to use the 'fiscal cliff' fight to advance a proposal to adopt a chained consumer price index...scheme that would slash cost-of-living increases for Americans who rely on Social Security and other government programs. The Obama administration had entertained the 'chained CPI' switch earlier in December. But as the critical point when a deal to cut Social Security might have been made, Reid said “No.”

That simple rejection of the false premises of Paul Ryan and all the other fantasists who have tried to push Social Security over the 'fiscal cliff' and into the grips of the Wall Street speculators confounded the political pawns and the 'expert' pundits who imagined that 'entitlement reforms' (Washington for Social Security cuts) were 'inevitable.' "

-- >The mainstream media had gotten it all wrong for the last year. Social Security had nothing to do with the deficit. And although Obama was willing to give it all away, one Democrat in power finally said no. In fact, it was Bernie Sanders who had really fought for Social Security, maybe in the end shaming the Democrats into protecting it. It's enough to make one a socialist (Sanders is the only socialist in Congress).


"Under the cover of holiday weekend slumber, President Obama signed into law a five-year extension of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, successfully solidifying unchecked surveillance authority for the remainder of his presidency.

Known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the law extends powers of the National Security Agency to conduct surveillance of Americans’ international emails and phone calls without obtaining a court order for each intercept...

Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald remarked that passage of the law, ushered to the president's desk with broad Democratic support, represented one of the 'defining attributes of the Obama legacy' in which a previously radical right-wing policy, in this case warrantless eavesdropping, is meekly accepted by empowered Democrats and then codified as law with 'bipartisan consensus.' "

-- >The NY Times referred to the controversy around the FISA extension in its coverage, and then stated incredibly that the law was all about "extending the government’s power to intercept electronic communications of spy and terrorism suspects..." What a convenient assumption by our newspaper of record. Of course this unchecked surveillance is about catching the "bad guys" rather than spying on all Americans to suppress dissent.


The Guardian:
"It was more sophisticated than we had imagined: new documents show that the violent crackdown on Occupy last fall – so mystifying at the time – was not just coordinated at the level of the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and local police. The crackdown, which involved, as you may recall, violent arrests, group disruption, canister missiles to the skulls of protesters, people held in handcuffs so tight they were injured, people held in bondage till they were forced to wet or soil themselves –was coordinated with the big banks themselves.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, in a groundbreaking scoop that should once more shame major US media outlets (why are nonprofits now some of the only entities in America left breaking major civil liberties news?), filed this request. The document shows a terrifying network of coordinated DHS, FBI, police, regional fusion center, and private-sector activity so completely merged into one another that the monstrous whole is, in fact, one entity: in some cases, bearing a single name, the Domestic Security Alliance Council. And it reveals this merged entity to have one centrally planned, locally executed mission. The documents, in short, show the cops and DHS working for and with banks to target, arrest, and politically disable peaceful American citizens."

-- >The NY Times did report this news, but failed to express any surprise or consternation that the US media had failed to uncover this major civil liberties story.