Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Common Dreams:
"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Saturday warned the United States not to interfere with a shipment of oil bound for Venezuela after the South American nation said it would provide an armed escort for the tankers.

In a statement posted on his website, Rouhani said the United States had created 'unacceptable conditions' in different parts of the world, but that Iran would 'by no means' be the one to initiate conflict. ...

Venezuela said Wednesday that planes and ships from the nation’s armed forces will escort the tankers in case of any U.S. aggression."

-->Imminent war, but the US media, including the NYT, is not reporting on the confrontation. Our media does not like to highlight how reckless and provocative our military is in the rest of the world. 


Carnegie Mellon University, School of Computer Science:
"Carnegie Mellon University researchers have discovered that much of the discussion around the pandemic and stay-at-home orders is being fueled by misinformation campaigns that use convincing bots.

To analyze bot activity around the pandemic, CMU researchers since January have collected more than 200 million tweets discussing coronavirus or COVID-19. Of the top 50 influential retweeters, 82% are bots, they found. Of the top 1,000 retweeters, 62% are bots. ...

'Conspiracy theories increase polarization in groups. It’s what many misinformation campaigns aim to do,' Dr Carley [professor in the School of Computer Science] said. 'People have real concerns about health and the economy, and people are preying on that to create divides. ... Spreading conspiracy theories leads to more extreme opinions, which can in turn lead to more extreme behavior and less rational thinking.' "

-->You would think that the widespread use of bots to divide citizens and encourage conspiracy theories would be covered by our "newspaper of record." But the NYT is often missing in action when it comes to reporting on AI manipulation of the internet.  


Common Dreams:
"New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is facing new criticism after the Associated Press reported Friday that a state directive led to over 4,300 still recovering coronavirus patients being sent to New York's 'already vulnerable nursing homes.'

'It was a death sentence,' tweeted Daniel Choi, a doctor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. He called the directive a 'horrendous idea' and 'definitely not something any doctor taking care of nursing home patients would have signed off on.'

The state health department directive, issued March 25, barred nursing homes from requiring patients deemed 'medically stable' from being tested for Covid-19 prior to admission. Cuomo, a Democrat, rescinded the order May 10, but not before thousands of infected patients likely entered nursing homes and contributed to the coronavirus's spread."

-->The NYT has done several stories about the appalling death rate in the state's nursing homes, but criticism of Cuomo is always left out. He has become the darling of the neoliberal Democrats. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Common Dreams:
"Big Oil Taking $1.9 Billion in CARES Act Tax Breaks Aimed at Helping Small Businesses in 'Stealth Bailout' Report. ...

Reporting Friday from Bloomberg News showed that '$1.9 billion in CARES Act tax benefits are being claimed by at least 37 oil companies, service firms, and contractors'—what watchdog group Documented senior researcher Jesse Coleman described as a 'stealth bailout' of the climate-killing industry.

'In the name of small business, we're shoveling out billions of dollars to big corporations and rich guys,'  Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told Bloomberg. 

-->This discouraging news was kept from readers of the NYT, a newspaper that always gives Big Oil a break in its reporting.


Common Dreams:
"Esteemed medical journal The Lancet on Friday took an unusual step towards calling on American voters to remove President Donald Trump from office in November, condemning the Trump administration's 'incoherent' response to the coronavirus pandemic and expressing shock at the CDC's inability to cope with the public health crisis.

The journal's frustration with Trump centered on the president's downplaying of the pandemic and his refusal to coordinate a robust national effort of social distancing, lockdown orders, and a testing regime to stem the Covid-19 outbreak.

'The administration is obsessed with magic bullets—vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear,' wrote the editors. 'But only a steadfast reliance on basic public health principles, like test, trace, and isolate, will see the emergency brought to an end, and this requires an effective national public health agency" ".

-->Why wouldn't this call by one of the most influential medical journals in the world be covered by the NYT? Yes, it gets a one sentence commentary in an opinions piece, but that is hardly sufficient. As much as the NYT hates Trump, our "newspaper of record" thinks it more important to protect America's image in the world. 


"The US Senate has voted to give law enforcement agencies access to web browsing data without a warrant, dramatically expanding the government’s surveillance powers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The power grab was led by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell as part of a reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which gives federal agencies broad domestic surveillance powers. Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Steve Daines (R-MT) attempted to remove the expanded powers from the bill with a bipartisan amendment.

But in a shock upset, the privacy-preserving amendment fell short by a single vote after several senators who would have voted 'Yes' failed to show up to the session, including Bernie Sanders."

-->The NYT covered this story with the headline: "Senate Approves Surveillance Bill With Sharper Privacy Safeguards." Sharper privacy safeguards? So much for the NYT being interested in web privacy. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Common Dreams:
"Public education advocates on Wednesday rejected New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's pledge to work with billionaire entrepreneurs like Microsoft founder Bill Gates to 'reimagine' his state's school systems once the coronavirus pandemic subsides.  ...

Critics including New York State Allies for Public Education, Class Size Matters, and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy were wary of handing the state's education system over to Gates, who previously launched—among other 'education reform' projects—a $1 billion initiative in three states to improve 'teacher effectiveness' which policy think tank RAND found did 'more harm than good' for students. 

'Bill Gates and the Gates Foundation have promoted one failed educational initiative after another, causing huge disaffection in districts throughout the state,' wrote the three organizations in a letter to the governor. 'Whether that be the high-handed push by the Gates Foundation for the invalid Common Core standards, unreliable teacher evaluation linked to test scores, or privacy-violating data-collection via the corporation known as inBloom Inc., the education of our children has been repeatedly put at risk by their non-evidence based solutions, which were implemented without parent input and despite significant public opposition.' "

-->We have a governor who is so enamored by the billionaires he wants them to help him dismantle public education. Don't the people get any say at all? The NYT wasn't interested in printing this story, although its webpage carried the Reuters article.  


Common Dreams:
"Five major U.S. corporations that have laid off thousands of workers in recent weeks have simultaneously dished out hundreds of millions of dollars in cash dividends to wealthy shareholders, drawing outrage from Sen. Bernie Sanders and others who say the companies should be using the money to keep people employed.

The Washington Post reported Tuesday that manufacturing giant Caterpillar, toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker, clothing company Levi Strauss, office furniture company Steelcase, and World Wrestling Entertainment have paid out a combined $700 million in cash dividends to shareholders while they shutter operations and lay off employees as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage the U.S. economy. ...

[Quoting Sanders] 'Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on dividends to enrich wealthy shareholders, Caterpillar, Black & Decker, Levi Strauss, and other corporations should be using this money to compensate the thousands of workers they laid off.' "

-->Even Apple got a huge payout from the government and bought back their own stock, giving their shareholders hundreds of millions. But our "newspaper of record" just can't bring itself to cite these ripoffs, much less expose the two top Democrats, Pelosi and Schumer, who resisted efforts to limit what corporations can do with Covid-19 bailout money. 


Common Dreams:
"House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her support behind a proposal to allow corporate lobbying groups to receive bailout money from a Covid-19 relief program meant for small businesses, a move one critic bluntly described as the 'dumbest political maneuver you could possibly make right now.' ...

Pelosi's support for a lobbyist bailout comes as she is facing pressure from outside progressives, including nurses, to advance a bold Covid-19 stimulus package and stop rubber-stamping piecemeal legislation that provides insufficient relief to frontline workers, the unemployed, and states and localities.
In a blog post on Thursday, David Dayen, executive editor of The American Prospect, offered a scathing assessment of both Pelosi's leadership and the refusal of Congressional Progressive Caucus leaders to raise their voices in dissent."

-->The NYT does not do stories about top Democrats selling out to the corporations, and now even to the various lobbying groups in Washington. Our media promotes the fantasy that our two corporate controlled parties are a functioning democracy. 

Thursday, May 07, 2020

"As the pandemic takes hold around the world and the death toll mounts, journalists wring their hands in despair, as if to say, 'How did this happen? How could the people elect someone they knew would butcher public health and be poorly equipped to deal with any kind of emergency?' ...

Could, for example, the Guardian’s publishing 1,215 articles and op-ed pieces accusing the Labour Party of antisemitism, between 2016 and the December 2019 elections, have anything to do with the fact that tens of thousands of people are now dying due to the Tory’s botched mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic? Did Labour’s actions really warrant this treatment? After all, it is the British political party which is behind 100% of all anti-racism legislation in the modern history of the UK. An independent 2016 study revealed that the Labour Party was not overrun by antisemitism, and polls show that antisemitism within the party significantly declined during Corbyn’s leadership."

-->Yes, Labour was defeated in England by false charges of antisemitism. FAIR points out how implicated the Guardian was in these smear tactics. Read about it in FAIR, because you certainly won't find this story in the US media, which has itself often used unsubstantiated claims of antisemitism to destroy progressive candidates.  


"I am reaching out to you as current official friends and former enemies of Vietnam because I want you to know the truth about what could have been, an alternative and viable path of history that both countries could have trod together for mutual benefit and a more peaceful world.

One milestone that inspired me to write to you at this auspicious moment is the 45th anniversary of the end of what you call the 'Vietnam War' and what the Vietnamese logically know as the American War because it was a war that the US fought on Vietnamese soil.

Tragically, but not surprisingly, based on your history and foreign policy since the late 19th century, you chose the road to war – not once but thrice ..."

-->Read this astonishing letter if you want to understand the Viet Nam War, and American imperialism since that time. Don't bother looking for this letter in the US media, however. The truth about Viet Nam is still being hidden from the American people.


The Guardian UK:
"Nearly 130 parliamentarians, including former Conservative cabinet ministers, have written to Boris Johnson urging him to impose economic sanctions against Israel if Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government goes ahead with its threat to annex parts of the West Bank.

The letter, signed by the former Tory chairman Lord Patten and the former international development secretary Andrew Mitchell, says annexation would be clearly illegal under international law. ...

They argue 'international law is crystal clear. The acquisition of territory through war is prohibited. The Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014 is a recent example where Britain quite properly opposed such acts with appropriate measures, including robust sanctions.' "

-->Reading the NYT, one would never realize how many countries are vehemently opposed to Israel's annexation of the West Bank. But our "newspaper of record" always works hard to protect the image of this apartheid state.