Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Z Magazine:
"Totalitarian systems carry out wholesale surveillance not to find crimes. It’s so they have information should they seek to shut down an individual or a group. They can manufacture evidence from the data they’ve collected to criminalize and incarcerate those they’ve targeted. Go back and look at what fascism and communism did. That’s why they had systems of mass surveillance.  Blackmail was one of the major tools that the FBI used against Martin Luther King Jr. and others in an attempt to shut down their activism. In the case of King, it was adultery. Nobody’s clean; everybody’s got something. And the state wants to know what it is so they can build a case against anyone. ...

Mass surveillance also destroys any possibility of serious investigative reporting because your sources always know they’re being tracked. Under those conditions, no one can reach out independently to a reporter to shine a light on the inner workings of power. The Obama administration’s assault on civil liberties has been far more egregious than the Bush administrations. We’ve seen Obama use the Espionage Act eight times against whistleblowers. That’s not why the Espionage Act was written. It was the equivalent of our Foreign Secrets Act to prosecute people who gave sensitive state information to those who were deemed the enemy. But it has been misused and has essentially killed investigative journalism into government activity." -Chris Hedges 

-->Wouldn't it be amazing if our mainstream media was that straightforward about the purpose of mass surveillance? This interview with Chris Hedges exposes the secrets of the national security state, but you have to seek out such information from alternative media.


The Guardian UK:
"Confidential files containing evidence of violations committed during El Salvador’s civil war have been stolen from a Washington-based human rights group days after it launched legal proceedings against the CIA over classified files on a former US-backed military commander implicated in massacres, death squads and forced disappearances.

A computer and hard drive containing testimonies from survivors were stolen from the office of the director of the University of Washington Center for Human Rights (UWCHR) last week. The director’s office was the only one raided, there were no signs of forced entry, and items of monetary value were left behind, raising concerns that it could have been a targeted attack linked to the group’s sensitive work, said UWCHR.

The stolen files contained details of investigations related to the 1980-1992 civil war, which left at least 75,000 people dead, 8,000 missing and a million displaced. The vast majority of crimes were committed by US-backed military dictatorships against civilians in rural communities suspected of supporting the leftist guerrillas, according to the UN-sponsored truth commission."

-->The NYT didn't report this story, so American readers are spared the gruesome details of how the CIA funded and trained the death squads in El Salvador, and then committed a burglary in the US to hide the evidence.


Z Magazine:
"Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act overturns over 150 years of domestic law that prevents the U.S. military from carrying out domestic policing. The NDAA also authorizes the military to carry out, in essence, extraordinary rendition of U.S. citizens on U.S. soil who, in the words of that section, 'substantially support' Al Qaida, the Taliban, or something called 'associated forces.' This is not material support, which is a defined legal term. 'Substantial support' is an amorphous term and 'associated forces' is another nebulous term. Section 1021 would strip these citizens of due process, an egregious violation of one of our most basic constitutional rights, and hold them in military facilities including in offshore penal colonies or 'black sites' until, in the language of this section, 'the end of hostilities.' In an age of permanent war that means probably forever.

The NDAA is a major step in eviscerating one of the most basic tenets of the Constitution. It had bi-partisan support and was initially sponsored by Senators Levin and McCain. In January, 2012, I met with lawyers Bruce Saffron and Carl Meyer and we sued the President in the Southern District Court of New York. Judge Katherine B. Forest ruled in our favor and declared in her 112-page opinion that not only was the law unconstitutional, but that it opened the way for the government to criminalize whole categories of people and hold them in military detention facilities. She brought up the case of the 110,000 Japanese Americans who were interned in military camps without due process during World War II." -Chris Hedges

-->One would think the American people would at least be informed of the end of Constitutional rights for US citizens. But few media outlets have been forthcoming about how the National Defense Authorization Act authorizes state tyranny, all in the name of national security.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The NYT:
An Oct 17 article by Isabel Kershner is typical: "Anger Spreads With 5 Attacks on Israelis." One sentence at the end by "Palestinian leaders" is immediately contradicted by Israel's minister of defense. The rest is a cataloging of Palestinian atrocities   committed against Israelis.

An Oct 18 article entitled "Mismanaging the Conflict in Jerusalem" By Nathan Thrall states quite amazingly that, "Contrary to claims that Israel’s occupation is growing only further entrenched, the decades since Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza have been characterized by a slow process of Israeli separation, often reluctant and driven by violence." 

An Oct 17 article entitled "East Jerusalem, Bubbling Over With Despair," does give a greater voice to Palestinians. Jodi Rudoren's article starts off with stabbing attacks by Palestinians, which is then condemned by a "successful" Palestinian businessman. Yes, he "shares the frustration and alienation," but doesn't mention the snipers, checkpoints, and decades of occupation. In fact, NYT articles like the ones above never even include the word "sniper." 

After mentioning "stollen lands" and an "ugly barrier," Rudoren goes on to frame the unrest as part of "feeling like the neglected stepchildren" who "seethe as they pump gas or stock shelves for better-off Jewish peers." Yes, it's not the occupation but economic envy. 

Then comes the surprise: "The uptick in aggression did not begin with the two dozen attacks that have killed seven Israeli Jews, five of them in Jerusalem, since Oct. 1. (At least 16 suspected assailants have been shot dead by Israelis, including four Saturday, along with more than 20 other Palestinians in clashes with security forces)." It is no doubt a huge step forward to write that, the assumption being in almost all NYT articles that the Palestinians commit violence and the Israelis respond.

--> Being more straightforward about Palestinian suffering is a breakthrough, but not enough. When will The NYT actually state that Israel creates the suffering by its continued occupation? That ethnic cleansing has been the Israeli agenda since 1948?


Jewish Voice for Peace:
"Our analysis of over 30 New York Times stories over the last few weeks shows clearly that the New York Times still values Israeli lives more than Palestinian ones. Even though the vast majority of those killed and injured are Palestinian, and Palestinians are facing extreme collective punishment, Israeli violence against Palestinians doesn’t make the news:
Over 50% of headlines depicted Palestinians as the instigators of violence, while no headlines depicted Israelis as aggressors.
No headlines referenced racist mobs that have roamed the streets of Jerusalem shouting “Death to Arabs.”
Palestinians were referred to as terrorists 41 times, while the term was used four times (including quotes from Palestinians) to refer to violent Israeli actions intended to terrorize Palestinians.
The terms “violent” or “violence” were used 36 times to refer to Palestinians, and 2 times to refer to Israelis.
The terms “attack(s)” or “attackers” were used 110 times to describe Palestinian actions and people, and 17 times to describe Israelis."

-->It is a big step forward that Jewish based peace groups can unequivocally criticize the reporting of the NYT.


Common Dreams:
"Over four years later, the site of the Fukushima nuclear disaster remains a post-apocalyptic landscape despite massive reconstruction efforts, paltry steps forward - a soon-to-be re-opened skating rink - and less-then-impressive P.R. efforts ... 

Meanwhile, scientists are reporting immense bird die-offs, children's thyroid cancer rates are soaring, officials are ignoring profound safety issues to dump radioactive water into the sea, 120,000 of 160,000 evacuated residents are still living elsewhere, often in temporary housing, and a reported 90% of them are too frightened to want to return anyway. ...

Armed with permits, swathed in protective gear and navigating checkpoints, Podniesinski visits the 12.5 mile no-go Exclusion Zone, the most contaminated area where no work has been done, residents are unlikely to ever return, and brush is eerily overtaking the carcasses of cars abandoned during evacuation."

-->A 12.5 mile zone of no return. For outer areas, no place to put the cleanup soil. A disaster at Indian Point would affect millions of Americans. Maybe that is why the NYT didn't print this story. Our newspaper of record protects the image of the nuclear industry just as carefully as the image of apartheid Israel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Eco Watch:
"Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.
More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.

More than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated where just three would be expected, says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.

The nuclear industry and its apologists continue to deny this public health tragedy. Some have actually asserted that 'not one person' has been affected by Fukushima’s massive radiation releases, which for some isotopes exceed Hiroshima by a factor of nearly 30. But the deadly epidemic at Fukushima is consistent with impacts suffered among children near the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island and the 1986 explosion at Chernobyl, as well as findings at other commercial reactors."

-->The NYT is one of the chief deniers of public health dangers of nuclear disasters. In their pro-corporate "Science Section," nuclear energy, GMO farming, and chemical herbicides are always given the benefit of the doubt. It didn't print this story.


Common Dreams:
"Israeli forces on Friday killed six Palestinians, including at least two teenagers, who were taking part in a demonstration along the Gaza border. Hundreds of protesters were gathered there in solidarity with Palestinians residing in the West Bank, where a spate of violence in recent weeks has added to fears of growing unrest.

An Israeli army spokesperson said there were 200 demonstrators, and that 'Forces on the site responded with fire toward the main instigators to prevent their progress and disperse the riot.' According to the army, the protesters were throwing rocks and rolling burning tires toward the military forces.

'The Israeli army uses snipers, and most of the wounds are in the head and throat,' Haaretz reports Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian health ministry, as saying.

Joel Greenberg writes for the Financial Times that an 'Israeli spokeswoman could not explain why troops had not instead used non-lethal crowd control weapons.' "

-->The NYT doesn't use the word "sniper" when describing Israeli troop actions. It didn't print this article, although it carried a Reuters story dealing with Palestinian deaths in its on-line edition. 


The Guardian UK:
"African-American citizens are being failed by the US criminal justice system because of ingrained racial bias in the way suspects are treated, according to the head of the United States’s largest legal professional body. Paulette Brown, who became the first black female president of the American Bar Association (ABA) in August, is determined to transform the negative image that many people hold of lawyers. ...

But after going to Ferguson, Missouri, and other places where there have been protests over the treatment of black suspects, she has also become more concerned about the way defendants are processed through US courts. 'One in 16 African Americans are subjected to the criminal justice system,' Brown explained, 'compared to one in 106 of white people. A lot of that is drugs. The evidence, however, shows that black people don’t use drugs any more [than white people].'

'But they are being arrested for it and charged with it [more frequently] and some of that is implicit bias - particularly on the part of prosecutors. Prosecutors are overcharging.' She added: 'Ninety-five percent of all prosecutors are white; 88% of all lawyers in US are white.' "

--> Paulette Brown's words have to be read in a foreign paper, however. The NYT didn't think this story about American bias in its criminal justice system was worthy of printing.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

"In ‘NYT’ coverage of violence, only Israeli Jewish victims count (Updated)
This long New York Times article on the wave of violence in Israel and Palestine describes many Palestinian attacks but says not one word about settler violence.
The entire article is from the Israeli Jewish perspective. Right at the start we are told this is 'a country in a grim mood on the eve of a Jewish holiday,' and then the catalog of violence is all Palestinian...

There is not a word here of the settler attacks that Allison Deger reports from Ramallah, or that the Israeli website +972 has from across Palestine: 'Israeli settlers carried out dozens of violent attacks across the West Bank over the past two days...'

The Times just can’t go there. It can’t relate the settler 'pricetag' attacks of six days ago that Deger reports, or the arson attack by settlers on the Dawabshe family in Duma two months ago that killed three, or the killing of a Palestinian medic, Diaa al-Talahmeh two weeks ago (which Deger reports motivated alleged Palestinian killer Mohannad Halabi), or the 'extrajudicial execution' by Israeli soldiers of Hadil al-Hashlamoun in occupied Hebron ten days ago...

In the Times‘s distortion of the truth, this isn’t even a cycle of violence. It’s all Palestinian attacks aimed at Israelis."

-->Distorting the news to favor Israel again. The Times can always be counted on as Israel's newspaper of record. 


Common Dreams:
"America's Fortune 500 companies are 'playing by different rules' when it comes to the federal tax system and, according to a new report out Tuesday, are stashing $2.1 trillion in offshore tax havens—with as much as $620 billion owed to the U.S. taxpayers who are left footing the bill. ... 'The American multinationals that take advantage of tax havens use our roads, benefit from our education system and large consumer market, and enjoy the security we have here, but are ultimately taking a free ride at the expense of other taxpayers.' -Michelle Surka, US PIRG. ...

Nearly 72 percent of the these mega-corporations operate tax haven subsidiaries in countries like Bermuda, Ireland, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, according to the groups' examination of 2014 financial filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In some cases, U.S. law allows a company to simply maintain a post office box at an offshore site to reap the tax benefits. ...

With $181.1 billion offshore, Apple has booked more than any other company that reported its international holdings. According to the study, the Silicon Valley giant would owe $59.2 billion in U.S. taxes if these profits were registered within the U.S.

-->The Times protects the image of large corporations as fiercely as it protects apartheid Israel's. Why didn't it print this story instead of just including a Reuters story in its online edition?


The Guardian UK
"Facebook row: US data storage leaves users open to surveillance, court rules. The personal data of Europeans held in America by online tech corporations is not safe from US government snooping, the European court of justice has ruled, in a landmark verdict that hits Facebook, Google, Amazon and many others.

The Luxembourg-based court declared the EU-US 'safe harbour' rules regulating firms’ retention of Europeans’ data in the US to be invalid, throwing a spoke into trade relations that will also impact on current negotiations on a far-reaching transatlantic trade pact between Washington and Brussels.

The ECJ, whose findings are binding on all EU member states, ruled on Tuesday that: 
'The United States … scheme enables interference, by United States public authorities, with the fundamental rights of persons…'

The verdict came as a direct result of Edward Snowden’s revelations, published in the Guardian, of how the US National Security Agency was obtaining mass access to data held by the big internet servers and telecoms companies in the US."

-->The NY Times, as well as most of the major media in the US avoided this story. Corporate profits are always deemed more important than Constitutional rights (the Four Amendment) in the "Land of the Free." Why publicize how the huge internet companies are giving our data away to the security state?

UPDATE: The Times did cover this story today (Oct 8), but only gave one sentence at the very end to US government snooping as the reason for the European court's action. Any mention of Snowden was left out.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The NY Times:
"Israel Cracks Down on Unrest"

-->During much of the Civil Rights Era, The NY Times categorized most stories of resistance as "Negro Unrest." Instead of covering the reasons for the sit-ins or marches, our newspaper of record focused on the damage done (broken car windows and "lunch counter disputes"). In effect, its readers were given little idea of why the "unrest" was happening.

We are seeing the use of the word "unrest" again, this time referring to coverage of Israel's decision to shoot live ammunition at West Bank protesters. Isabel Kershner's recent article on the West Bank is all about "rock throwing and firebombing" done by Palestinians and very little about checkpoints, home demolitions, indefinite detentions without trial, and skunk water hosed into Palestinian houses. The article is entitled "Israel acts to Combat Violence in Jerusalem," with a photograph of a stone thrower. In short, Kershner (with close ties to the Israeli right wing) tries to make it look like Israel is always responding, when in fact the violence comes from over 65 years of brutal and internationally condemned occupation. 

The NYT is part of the occupation in its continually slanted news coverage of the Israel Defense Force in the West Bank and Gaza. Apartheid Israel is always treated as the aggrieved party, only trying to defend itself. Even when it becomes state policy to shoot Palestinian children. It is time to end the occupation of The NY Times by Zionists. 


The NY Times:

-->It turns out that many people died of stress after the Fukushima meltdown, and since there is no proof that anyone died of nuclear contamination, well that means that nuclear power is safe! Or so writes George Johnson, a prolific pro-nuclear energy writer for The NY Times Science Section. And the silver lining is that because of "radiation hormesis" all those fleeting people actually benefited from the radiation building up there immune systems. 

The NY Times has long promoted the corporate view of health issues. "Smoking Beneficial, Says Paris Doctor; Nicotine Forms Anti-Microbe Chemicals" was the March 22, 1923 headline of a NY Times article that predicted "much rejoicing among smokers."

For a more trustworthy source, try alternative media: "Nuclear Power Kills: the Real Reason the NRC Canceled Its Nuclear Site Cancer Study" published by CounterPunch.


Common Dreams:
"Amid the growing call for President Barack Obama to end the leasing of federal lands for fossil fuel development, a new report published Monday exposes the energy corporations profiting most from this public pillaging. The report (pdf), put forth by the Rainforest Action Network, compiles the top federal leaseholders—dubbed the 'Filthy 15'—in each of three fossil fuel arenas: coal mining, onshore oil and gas drilling, and offshore oil and gas drilling.

Perhaps not surprisingly, fossil fuel heavyweights including ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, and Arch Coal are among the companies paying as little as $2 an acre to mine taxpayer-owned forests, prairies, deserts, and bodies of water. These corporations, states the report, 'generate millions in profit each year off of our shared national resources while damaging our environmental legacy for generations to come.' ...

'We are seeing energy companies making millions off the public land giveaway. These companies have well documented track records of environmental destruction, violations of Indigenous sacred sites, systematic evasions of royalty payments, and passing on the massive clean up costs associated with their operations to the public. This is the worst of the worst,' said RAN campaigner and report co-author, Ruth Breech."

-->The NY Times omitted this story of the fuel giants ripping off the US public. Our newspaper of record always plays down corporate exploitation of publicly owned  assets.