Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Common Dreams:
"Russian lawmaker Vyacheslav Volodin threatened nuclear war as NATO members debate whether to send more tanks to Ukraine.

Should the West continue to ship arms to Ukraine, Moscow will retaliate with 'more powerful weapons,' a top Russian government official and close ally of President Vladimir Putin said Sunday, referring to the use of nuclear missiles.

'Deliveries of offensive weapons to the Kyiv regime will lead to a global catastrophe,' Vyacheslav Volodin, chairman of the State Duma, Russia's lower house, said in a statement shared on the Telegram messaging app. 'If Washington and NATO countries supply weapons that will be used to strike civilian cities and attempt to seize our territories, as they threaten, this will lead to retaliatory measures using more powerful weapons,' said Volodin."

-->How to stop worrying and love the bomb: Read the NYT, which didn't refer to this story at all. Maybe the end of the world isn't really fit to print.


"Within Latin America, Nicaragua is among the countries that has best managed to reduce its poverty rate. In 2007, Nicaragua’s poverty rate was at 48.3%. After the transition to a Sandinista government, this percentage has been steadily reduced and currently is at 24.9%.

I think the key was the arrival of the FSLN government, which proposed a national strategy to fight against poverty and for human development and to overcome the whole neo-liberal model which had left us a country practically in bankruptcy. Since 2007, the country has been moving forward because there is a national development strategy that includes economic development with social rights, and economic growth with equitable distribution of wealth. 
This means that a series of rights that were violated during the neo-liberal period have been restored: free health care, free education, access to housing. More than 125,000 families, for example, have had their housing problems solved during these last ten years. More than half a million property titles have been given out."

-->No US media will cover anything positive about Nicaragua. That's just the way it is. You have to go outside the US to read a different story. I don't know what that says about Nicaragua, but what it says about our supposedly free press is worse than damning.

Common Dreams:
"Huge Win for Organic Farmers as USDA Files Long-Sought Rule to Prevent Fraud.
One advocate said the rule change 'will help tighten the national organic system to ensure organic integrity and better protect American organic farmers and confidence in the organic seal.' ...

The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) amendments to the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP)—a federal regulatory program that enforces national standards for organically produced agricultural products—is meant to 'strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products' in the United States, according to a federal memo published Wednesday.

'Organic farmers have consistently ranked National Organic Program enforcement and stopping import fraud as a top priority,' Kate Mendenhall, executive director of the Organic Farmers Association and an Iowa organic farmer, said in a statement."

-->No mention of this in the NYT, which has always had a soft spot for both toxic agricultural chemicals, and corporate fraud.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Common Dreams:
"A group of corporate Democrats led by Rep. Jared Golden of Maine sent a letter Wednesday defending the out-of-control U.S. military budget and expressing concerns about looming attempts by House Republicans to cut it, even as several GOP lawmakers insisted the Pentagon would be safe from their coming austerity spree.

In their letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Golden, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and other members of the right-wing Blue Dog Coalition celebrated the bipartisan vote last month to add $45 billion to the latest military budget proposed by President Joe Biden, claiming the extra money is necessary for 'the procurement of additional naval ships at a time in which China has developed the world's largest navy' and for 'strengthening the defense industrial base.' ...

The White House, too, weighed in on the side of maintaining the current military budget this week, calling any push for cuts 'senseless and out of line with our national security needs.'

-->Corporate Democrats, as well as our corporate president, are defending the obscenely large military budget. The very budget that means so much less money spent on education, housing, and other social programs. With Democrats like that, who needs the wacko Republicans? Too bad the NYT didn't think this story worth reporting. The sickness of empire has infiltrated both of our major parties, as well as our news media.


Geopolitical Economy:
"A poll found that Nicaragua is the top country in the world where citizens feel at peace. The United States and Western media outlets have long demonized Nicaragua’s Sandinista government and its President Daniel Ortega, sponsoring violent coup attempts against him and imposing illegal unilateral sanctions aimed at hurting the Central American nation’s economy.

But studies show that the Sandinista Front is very popular among the Nicaraguan people, who enjoy a high quality of life compared to their neighbors. ... Despite the fact that numerous polls like these show that Nicaraguans feel very safe, the US State Department has since 2018 issued an annual travel advisory, discouraging tourists to visit the country. ...

Washington claims the Central American nation is dangerous, suffers from supposed 'arbitrary enforcement of laws', and has 'limited healthcare ability'. [But] Nicaragua’s Sandinista government created a system of free universal healthcare for everyone. The United States, on the other hand, has one of the most expensive and inefficient healthcare systems on Earth, and medical expenses are the cause of two-thirds of US household bankruptcies."

-->In the "land of the free" we can't really read about the strengths of Nicaragua. Our government has been trying to overthrow the Sandinista Revolution for the last 40 years. As a result, you just won't find stories like this in our Pentagon controlled press.


Common Dreams:
"The fascist attack on Brazil's main government complex was 'directly aided' by major social media platforms such as Facebook, TikTok, and Telegram, the global watchdog group SumOfUs said Monday as the country's authorities continued their cleanup efforts, investigation, and arrests of suspects involved in the anti-democratic assault.

The insurrection, carried out by supporters of far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro, 'can come as no surprise to social media executives, who were warned time and again that their platforms, tools, and algorithms were directly aiding a violent uprising in Brazil,' said Flora Rebello Arduini, campaign director at SumOfUs, a nonprofit that has been monitoring the proliferation of election lies on social media in the South American country.

Referencing the January 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol, which was also abetted by social media giants, Arduini added that 'we've now seen this happen in two of the world's major democracies—if governments fail to respond, more will inevitably pay the price.' "

-->I see this story in our leftist media, but not in the NYT. I think that major corporations are just making too much money promoting fascist attacks for the NYT to risk reporting on them. In a front page story on Monday, Jan 16, the NYT covers every aspect of the riots in Brazil. Every aspect except for the role of Facebook, TikTok, and Telegram.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

The Guardian UK:

"Leading civil rights organisations have condemned Harvard Kennedy School’s denial of a position to the former head of Human Rights Watch over the organisation’s criticism of Israel.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the refusal of a fellowship to Kenneth Roth 'profoundly troubling'. PEN America, which advocates for freedom of expression, said the move raises serious questions about one of the US’s leading schools of government. Roth also received backing from other human rights activists.

But the Kennedy School found support from organisations that have been highly critical of Roth and HRW, particularly over the group’s report two years ago that accused Israel of practising a form of race-based apartheid in the Palestinian occupied territories. ...

Roth told the Guardian that Harvard’s move was a reflection of 'how utterly afraid the Kennedy School has become of any criticism of Israel' under pressure from donors and influential supporters within the school of Israel’s rightwing government."

-->This is a sickening story of how the moral stench of Zionism has permeated the halls of America's most prestigious university. Equally troubling is the fact that America's most influential newspaper, The NYT, didn't cover the story.


Common Dreams:

"Despite acknowledging 'tremendous' public pressure to impose a ban on bump stocks, a firearm attachment used in the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, a federal appeals court on Friday rejected a 2019 Trump administration rule barring people from owning the instruments.

In a 13-3 ruling, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the ban violated the Administrative Procedure Act and that the U.S. Congress must act to ban bump stocks rather than the executive branch. 

The majority, made up mostly of judges appointed by Republican presidents, said that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) at the U.S. Department of Justice wrongly interpreted a law banning machine guns when they extended that ban to bump stocks in 2019, two years after a gunman killed 60 people and injured hundreds of others in a shooting at a concert in Las Vegas."

-->Another shameful story about the failure of our nation to control assault weapons. Why didn't the NYT cover this story either? Perhaps our "newspaper of record" cares about America's image abroad almost as much as it cares about Israel's.


The New York Times:

"CARACAS, Venezuela — The opposition legislature in Venezuela voted on Friday to terminate its interim government, ending the leadership of Juan Guaidó, who for years had served as the face of resistance to the country’s authoritarian government.

The vote was a blow to the United States, which had steadfastly backed Mr. Guaidó. It was the second and final vote this month to determine the fate of the interim government, whose influence has waned in recent years as President Nicolás Maduro has held onto power, Mr. Guaidó failed to cement his popular support and the opposition fractured."

-->This is a sad little story about a US backed coupe in Venezuela that didn't work. Sure, the NYT is still spewing anti-Venezuelan propaganda. According to the newspaper, "socialist ideals [have] gutted the country’s democratic institutions and left much of the populace impoverished." No mention of the devastating US blockade or the Pentagon's funding of Guaidó's attempts to overturn the election of President Maduro. And let's not forget the pages of wildly favorable coverage that Quaido got in the NYT when he proclaimed himself president.

Wednesday, January 04, 2023

Common Dreams:
"The legal team of human rights attorney Steven Donziger is challenging what he describes as the U.S. Department of Justice's 'disastrous decision to side with Chevron and back private corporate prosecutions.' ... In 2011, a Donziger-led legal team representing more than 30,000 farmworkers and Indigenous people harmed by over three decades of oil drilling in Ecuador won an $18 billion judgment against Chevron for deliberately dumping more than 16 billion gallons of toxic wastewater and other hazardous pollutants in the delicate Amazonian ecosystem—an act that caused a 'rainforest Chernobyl.' ...

Although the historic ruling against Chevron was upheld by the Ecuadorian Supreme Court, the oil giant moved its operations out of the country to avoid paying for cleanup, alleged that the $9.5 billion settlement had been fraudulently obtained, and launched what six House Democrats described last year as an 'unjust legal assault' on Donziger. In July 2019, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York, a former corporate lawyer with investments in Chevron, held Donziger in contempt of court for refusing to turn over his computer and cellphone, a move that would have disclosed privileged client information. Soon after, Donziger began his 'completely unjust' 993-day detention on a misdemeanor charge that carries a maximum sentence of six months.
Donziger has received support from United Nations human rights experts and nearly 70 Nobel Prize Laureates, including 1997 peace prize recipient Jody Williams, who argued in May 2021 that Donziger's house arrest and the criminal contempt case against him was a 'gross miscarriage of justice' meant to dissuade others from challenging corporations' human rights violations and ecological crimes."

-->The message to lawyers is don't mess with Big Oil, or our corrupt criminal justice system will throw you into jail. The fact that the US Dept. of Justice is now on Chevron's side is a complete sellout of the environmental movement. But you won't read this story in the NYT, which has been selling out to Big Oil for decades.


"A human rights attorney raised alarm Monday over the expansion plans of Toka, an Israeli cyber firm that sells hacking technologies capable of finding, accessing, and manipulating security and smart camera footage.

Co-founded by former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) cyber chief Yaron Rosen, Toka 'sells technologies that allow clients to locate security cameras or even webcams within a given perimeter, hack into them, watch their live feed, and even alter it—and past recordings,' Haaretz reported, citing internal documents it obtained and reviewed with a technical expert.

The company, whose activities are overseen by the Israeli Defense Ministry, 'was set up in 2018 and has offices in Tel Aviv and Washington,' Haaretz reported. 'It works solely with state clients in government, intelligence bodies, and law enforcement agencies, almost exclusively—but not just—in the West. According to the internal documents, as of 2021, the company had contracts with Israel valued at $6 million, and had also planned an 'expansion of existing deployment' in Israel."

-->Toka, an Israeli cyber firm, sells video altering technology to governments around the world. What does that say about our freedom of speech rights? Governments can now change video footage to falsely convict anyone they want to. But the NYT didn't cover this story, maybe because it makes apartheid Israel look too bad.


The Guardian UK:
"A suggestion by one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s incoming ministers that Israeli doctors should be allowed to refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients on religious grounds has heightened fears that the new government poses an unprecedented threat to gay rights. The Israeli president, Isaac Herzog, has weighed in to condemn the growing anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, saying: 'The racist pronouncements of recent days against the LGBTQ community and other sectors of the public make me extremely worried and concerned.' ...

In a radio interview on Sunday, the incoming national missions minister, Orit Strook, of the Religious Zionist party, was widely understood as implying that Israeli doctors would be able to refuse treatment to LGBTQ patients. ... Strook specified that a doctor could refuse care to a patient if doing so violates his religious beliefs 'as long as there are enough other doctors who can give this service'. ...

Alon Shachar, executive director of Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, said: 'The changes the new government seeks to lead are liable to bring us to a situation in which LGBTQ people return to living in a reality of fear, violence and racism.' "

-->Much of the mainstream media including the NYT did not cover this story. These attacks on LJBTQ rights are deplorable. But so is the US media, which protects Israel's good name by hiding stories like this.