•Huff Post: Boston Marathon Finish Line Evacuated Due To Unattended Backpacks
•Guardian: Ukraine On the Brink
•Independent: Refugee saved from deportation by flight passengers
•NYT: New York Drops Unit That Spied Among Muslims
The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said.
The decision by the nation’s largest police force to shutter the controversial surveillance program represents the first sign that William J. Bratton, the department’s new commissioner, is backing away from some of the post-9/11 intelligence-gathering practices of his predecessor. The Police Department’s tactics, which are the subject of two federal lawsuits, drew criticism from civil rights grou
•••Via Carolyn Baker:
MICHAEL C. RUPPERT
February 3, 1951–April 13, 2014
Mike was found dead Sunday night following his beloved Lifeboat Hour. He died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. That particular radio episode was one of the best he and I ever did together.
Thank you Mike, for all of the truth you courageously told us. Thank you for all the people you awakened. I will miss you always.
For those who have followed Mike for many years and understand “conspiracy fact,” no, this was not a faked suicide. It was deliberate, intentional, and involved a great deal of planning by Mike. It is both terribly tragic and everyone’s divine right.
“Death, be not proud, though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so; For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me. From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be, Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow, And soonest our best men with thee do go, Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery. Thou’art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men, And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell, And poppy’or charms can make us sleep as well And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then? One short sleep past, we wake eternally, And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.”
Tax Day, 2014
•Cass R. Sunstein: “Most Americans comply with the tax laws, but every year many of our fellow citizens don’t. The result is the ‘tax gap’ — the amount of revenue that the government loses because people are cheating. In one recent year, for example, the tax gap was $450 billion.”
•NYT: Andrew Ross Sorkin: Envy Those Corporate Loopholes on Tax Day
It’s Tax Day.
That means accountants across the country are working furiously to meet the midnight deadline for submitting individual returns.
In corporate America, however, many accountants are already done. The deadline for corporate returns this year was March 17, though companies could seek a six-month extension.
While individuals have long sought to take advantage of dozens of deductions and loopholes, corporations have famously excelled at this game.
How well? Companies paid an average effective federal tax rate of 12.6 percent in 2010, the last time the Government Accountability Office measured the rate. That compares with the nominal federal tax rate of 35 percent, so all those accountants appear to have done their jobs in exploiting the loopholes in our tax code.
The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Representative Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, proposed a vast reform of our tax code this year, eliminating a lot of the Swiss cheese that makes it so porous and, arguably, unfair. Mr. Camp’s proposal, as you might imagine, isn’t gaining a lot of traction.
In recognition of Uncle Sam’s payday, it’s only proper to take note of some of the most egregious corporate tax loopholes and some unexpected beneficiaries.
¦ For the last seven years, a debate has raged over the “carried interest” benefit taken by private equity and hedge fund executives. Instead of paying ordinary rates on much of their income — typically 35 percent for the highest bracket (39.6 percent for this tax year) — these executives pay the capital gains rate of 15 percent. It’s a clear loophole that is plainly unfair. Despite repeated efforts to repeal it, the loophole has remained, in part because of well-financed industry lobbying in Washington.
But much of the lobbying isn’t coming from the private equity industry — it’s coming from another beneficiary that often goes overlooked: the real estate industry. The carried-interest loophole is related to what is known as partnership accounting. Any company that uses such treatment can take advantage of the loophole. That means not just private equity and hedge funds, but also venture capital and much of the oil and gas industry. The National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, which has lobbied against the repeal of the loophole, says that “41 percent of all investment partnerships are real estate related.” When Mr. Camp announced his tax reform proposal, guess which industry was exempted? Real estate.
¦ If individual taxpayers are arrested, admit guilt and reach a civil settlement with the government, they cannot deduct the costs from their returns. But amazingly, a company is allowed to claim those costs as a business expense. JPMorgan Chase, for example, which has agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines for various transgressions, can deduct a large portion — and all the legal expenses — from its taxes.
“Ordinary citizens don’t deduct their parking tickets or library fines from their taxes,” U.S. PIRG, the federation of state public interest research groups, said in a statement. “Corporations like JPMorgan shouldn’t be able to deduct their settlements for wrongdoing either. The settlement loophole costs taxpayers billions each year.”
In one case, at least, JPMorgan has agreed to forgo this benefit. It will not take a deduction on its $1.7 billion fine related to its actions regarding Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, saving the taxpayers about $600 million.
And it’s not the only one. This year, Toyota, which admitted it hid safety defects from the public, agreed as part of a $1.2 billion criminal penalty with the United States government that it would not “file a claim, assert or apply for a tax deduction or tax credit.” The U.S. PIRG said this one line saved taxpayers $420 million.
Still, the U.S. PIRG highlighted a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office in 2005 that found that of 34 settlements worth more than $1 billion, 20 companies took advantage of tax rules to deduct all or part of the settlement costs.
¦ A tiny but symbolic loophole still persists. Companies that own aircraft can depreciate their planes more quickly than airlines — over five years instead of seven — and claim the deduction. In total, closing the loophole is worth $3 billion to $4 billion over a decade.
•National Priorities Project:
While you’re rushing to file today or feeling relieved that you beat the deadline, some of the biggest corporations in this country are getting a fat tax refund.
In fact, General Electric has received more than $3 billion in tax refunds over the last five years, on top of $27 billion in profits. Sounds pretty nice, especially considering that the average American taxpayer pays the government $11,715 in federal income taxes each year.
How do they get away with it? Two of the biggest loopholes in our tax code allow corporations like General Electric, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to avoid billions in taxes by moving their profits — and jobs — offshore.’
•Natiional Journal: What Obamacare Means for Your Taxes
Some taxpayers owe more this year because of changes related to the health care law, reports Health Care Correspondent Sam Baker:
The law’s biggest tax provision—billions of dollars in tax credits to help people cover the cost of their premiums—is already in effect, but doesn’t affect the taxes due on Tuesday. A handful of smaller provisions, mostly affecting wealthy households, will show up for the first time in this year’s filing. Among this year’s changes: a 0.9 percent increase in Medicare taxes and a 3.8 percent surtax on investment income. Both are limited to high-income taxpayers, and both took effect for the first time in the tax season that just ended. Most people won’t notice the extra Medicare tax because it was automatically deducted from their paychecks, but some could face a tax bill they did not expect, said Jackie Perlman, principal tax research analyst at the H&R Block Tax Institute. The Affordable Care Act also raises the bar for writing off medical expenses. Previously, a tax deduction was available if medical expenses reached 7.5 percent of your income. Obamacare moved the cutoff to 10 percent for taxpayers younger than 65.
•Fitzgibbopn Media: ‘New IRS’ Allows Americans Choose How Their Federal Income Tax Dollars Are Spent
TheNewIRS.com Allows Taxpayers to Develop Personal Allocation Plans, Presents Lawmakers with a Crowd-Sourced Directly Democratic Representation of Taxpayer’s Desires
Tax day is upon us, and for the first time ever, Americans everywhere will have the chance to say —and meticulously catalog— exactly how they want their Federal Income Tax dollars spent. TheNewIRS.com provides users with interactive, visually arresting, and shareable infographics that juxtapose how users choose to have their taxes allocated versus how they will actually be spent by our Federal Government.
On April 17th, 2014, TheNewIRS.com will issue a detailed report comprised of “Personal Allocation Plans” created by thousands of New IRS users, wherein the allocation data collected will be paired against the projected use of our 2014 Federal Income Taxes.
Conceived by Alex Ebert (Golden Globe winning, front-man for Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros), TheNewIRS.com was born out of the Sundance Film Festival’s star-studded “Hackdance” hackathon, which awards innovators using technology to create social impact.
It will be the first in a series of websites created by Ebert and his team that will provide users a virtual, parallel world to experiment with new forms of government.
From National defense, to healthcare, to education, to agriculture TheNewIRS.com is a medium in which to democratize what some critics consider stagnant or misrepresentative forms of government spending.
“We present to you a simulation, that you may peruse and develop a taste for a new paradigm of citizen power,” said New IRS founder Alex Ebert “through your participation, we will be able to collect national data that will serve to reflect our ethics as a nation, as well as to illuminate disparities between our will and the actual expenditures of the current political powers”
•GetLiberty.org: Celebrate tax day by repealing income tax amendment
Last November, U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine introduced legislation to repeal the Sixteenth Amendment — which he hopes to replace in part with some form of consumption-based tax.
•Otherworlds.Org: Real Tax Reforms
•E-Wall Streeter” HAPPY TAX DAY, AND WHY THE TOP 1% PAY A MUCH LOWER TAX RATE THAN YOU
It’s tax time again, April 15, when our minds turn toward paying the taxes we owe or possibly getting a tax refund. But what we don’t think about enough is whether our tax system is fair. The richest 1 percent of Americans are now getting the largest percent of total national income in almost a century. So you might think they’d pay a much higher tax rate than everyone else. But you’d be wrong.
Many millionaires pay a lower federal tax rate than many middle-class Americans. Some don’t pay any federal taxes at all. That’s because they‘re allowed to deduct from their taxable income such things as large interest payments on mortgages for huge homes, also the costs of business entertainment and conferences (aka vacations at golf resorts), and gold plated health care plans. Some also take advantage of tax loopholes that let them park some of their earnings in offshore tax havens like the Bahamas or the Netherlands Antilles. And other loopholes that allow them to treat some income as capital gains – subject to a much lower tax rate than ordinary income. If you happen to be a hedge-fund or private-equity manager, there’s a capital gains loophole designed especially for you. Consider the Social Security payroll tax and the situation is even more lopsided. That tax applies to every dollar of income up to a cap — which this year is $117,000. Anything earned above the cap is not subject to Social Security taxes at all – meaning anyone with a high income pays a much smaller percentage of it in Social Security taxes than most people do. Put these all together and you see why Warren Buffet, the second richest person in America, pays a lower tax rate than his secretary, as he readily admits. State and local taxes are even more regressive.
The poorest fifth of Americans pay an average state and local tax rate of over 11 percent, while the richest fifth pay only 5.6 percent. This isn’t small change. State and local taxes account for about 40 percent of all government revenues. Believe it or not, Republicans want to make all this worse by cutting taxes on the wealthy even more. Paul Ryan’s new budget doesn’t just slice Medicare, education, and food stamps. It also lowers the top federal tax rate to 25 percent. When the rich are let off the hook in all these ways, the rest of America has to pay more in taxes to make up the difference – or have services cut because government doesn’t have the funds.
•Daily Beast: You Pay Higher Taxes Than Boeing (and GE, Verizon & 23 More U.S. Corporations)
Feeling the sting of Tax Day today? Prepare to feel even worse—with a look at the 26 U.S. corporations who pay no federal corporate income tax at all. Plus, see how your tax bill compares to the rest of the country.
You may be among the 95 percent of Americans who believe it’s their civic duty to pay their fair share of taxes, but sending a portion of your salary to the IRS still smarts. Even for the more than 100 million who will receive refunds, no day is more agonizing than April 15.
If only we could all be corporations. Although they all start with a flat 35 percent federal tax rate, most employ a team of clever accountants to whittle down their liability—sometimes to nothing at all.
After taking advantage of credits, exemptions, and offshore tax havens, U.S. corporations get away with paying an average of less than 13 percent, according to the Government Accountability Office. What’s more, the GAO found that more than half of them reported owing no federal taxes in at least one year between 1998 and 2005.
According to a study by the advocacy group Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ), 26 Fortune 500 corporations paid no federal corporate income tax over the most recent five-year period. In fact, according to CTJ, they generated so many tax breaks that they reported negative taxes and often received a rebate check. As procrastinators rush to post offices and computers to file by deadline, let us pause—in anger, jealousy, or admiration—to recognize the corporations who manage to avoid the taxman.
Corporation and 2008-2012 Rate
1. Pepco Holdings -33.0%
2. PG&E Corp. -16.7%
3. NiSource -13.6%
4. Wisconsin Energy -13.5%
5. General Electric -11.1%
6. CenterPoint Energy -8.5%
7. Integrys Energy Group -8.2%
8. Atmos Energy -7.7%
9. Tenet Healthcare -6.0%
10. American Electric Power -5.8%
11. Ryder System -4.7%
12. Con-way -3.5%
13. Duke Energy -3.3%
14. Priceline.com -3.0%
15. FirstEnergy -3.0%
16. Apache -2.4%
17. Interpublic Group -2.1%
18. Verizon Communications -1.8%
19. NextEra Energy -1.6%
20. Consolidated Edison -.1%
21. CMS Energy -1.1%
22. Boeing -1.0%
23. Northeast Utilities -0.7%
24. Corning -0.3%
25. Paccar Rate -0.1%
26. MetroPCS Communications -0.1%
•From Ken Burns, The Address
•Happy Passover. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.Please visit Mediachannel.org
There was no white smoke on Morningside Heights To announce the annual Pulitzer Prizes Monday.
The event is shrouded with the same sense of global importantance, as every major media outlet is there to see who are chosen.
This year, it was expected that the Snowden -originated NSA disclosures would be recognized but how. Activists had hoped that the team of Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras would be honored for their brave and focused work, but they are outsiders in the Temple of Journalism. (I actually had a former Dean of the Columbia Journalism School–where I taught as an adjunct–was “the Taj Mahal of Journalism. I don’t think she meant by that that the J School is a tomb like the Taj in India, but rather a symbol of world importance.
My partner Rory O Connor said weeks ago at a New York Times conference on Secrets and Spies that Glenn and Laura make the mighty oligarchs of media nervous.
“My perspective on that is that the people who have been giving us the truth about the NSA through these Snowden revelations, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras,… are not being embraced by the larger media, the so called “mainstream” media. Instead they’re kept at arms length.
Why is that, I asked? Is it because they, they’re too independent?
Because they’re too independent, and because even as you heard, the editors of the top publications here, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and so on, all of them said on the panels today in fact that they not have been aggressive enough, that they have collaborated perhaps too much with the government in the past. These are the people who run the major media organizations being self-critical and saying “No, we don’t need to have more humility”, which is what was suggested by Mr. Lipp, the representative of the NSA and the CIA, he said that the press needed more humility. I was pleased at least that the leaders of the mainstream organizations fired back against that and said “No, we don’t need more humility, we need more aggressive reporting”. And I agree with that.”
Actually, media outlets had been debating and speculating about the challenge that the media titans faced. Dylan Byers wrote in Politico:
“Honoring the NSA reporting … would inevitably be perceived as a political act, with the Pulitzer committee invoking its prestige on behalf of one side in a bitter national argument. ….
Yet to pass on the NSA story would be to risk giving the appearance of timidity, siding with the government over the journalists who are trying to hold it accountable and ignoring the most significant disclosure of state secrets in recent memory”
The major media resolved the debate this way: They recognized the Snowden disclosures without recognizing him or the people closest to him.
How it was played: Every Media outlet that won something led with their honor.
•BBC: NSA stories take Pulitzer Prize
The Guardian and Washington Post newspapers share the Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism for a series of stories on US electronic spying.
•AP: Post, Guardian win Pulitzers for NSA revelations
NEW YORK (AP) – The Washington Post and The Guardian won the Pulitzer Prize in public service Monday for revealing the U.S. government’s sweeping surveillance efforts in a blockbuster series of stories based on secret documents handed over by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.
•Here’s the full list: The 2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners And Finalists
The 98th annual Pulitzer Prizes in Journalism, Letters, Drama and Music, awarded on the recommendation of the Pulitzer Prize Board, were announced today by Columbia University.
•Juan Cole, Informed Comment: US Press once again Declines to Call White Terrorism in Kansas, Nevada, White Terrorism
Heck, the LA Times said authorities are cautioning that it is too soon even to call the shootings a “hate crime.” Since the shooter is said to have shouted “Heil Hitler,” I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was a hate crime. And I’m also pretty sure it was a form of terrorism.
My Top Ten differences between White Terrorists and Others, judging by the Facebook shares, must be among the more popular pieces I have ever written. It keeps being proven correct by American journalism every day.
I get hot under the collar thinking about all the effort the US government is expending to monitor who we call and where we are when we do it–in the hundreds of millions!– and about all the surveillance of innocent American citizens of Muslim faith and of mosques, when the American fascists receive much less focus. If a group is armed and announces its purpose is to spread hate of another group, wouldn’t that warrant some surveillance? By surveiling us all, precious person power is being wasted.
Thus, we had the horrible day-before-Passover attack on two Jewish community facilities outside Kansas City, KS allegedly committed by a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, which left 3 people dead. My heart goes out to the innocent victims of hate. I put “Kansas” and “terrorism” in a search of Google News and did not get a single hit on this incident, which tells me that no US news services are describing it that way. Heck, the LA Times said authorities are cautioning that it is too soon even to call the shootings a “hate crime.” Since the shooter is said to have shouted “Heil Hitler,” I’m going to go out on a limb and say it was a hate crime. And I’m also pretty sure it was a form of terrorism.
Likewise, if you search for Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who shot down Sikhs, “and terrorism,” you only get opinion pages and blogs, not MSM sites.
But a where a lone gunman committing a hate crime is a Muslim, there’s a demand to use the T-word. Moreover, there is the peculiar American practice of laying collective guilt on all Muslims for what any one wacko amongst them does. White people get a pass on having violent and destructive wackos among them.
•Who Rules America: US Is an Oligarchy Not a Democracy, says Scientific Study by Eric Zuesse
Who governs? Who really rules?”
Ukraine Crisis Is Heating UP:
•NYT: Ukraine Asks U.N. to Help Control Insurgent East
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s failure to enforce its own ultimatums and its appeal on Monday to the United Nations to send peacekeepers laid bare a grim reality for the shaky government in Kiev, where political leaders and security forces have few reliable ways to confront Russian-backed separatists in the restive east.
A deadline set by Ukraine’s acting president for the start of a “large-scale antiterrorist operation” in the east passed without any clear police or military intervention. Meanwhile, pro-Russian militants seized yet another government building in the Donetsk region, bringing to at least nine the number of eastern towns now swept up in a spiraling insurgency.
The country’s acting president, Oleksandr V. Turchynov, asked the United Nations to send peacekeepers. But the move was widely viewed as an act of desperation, given that Russia holds a veto at the United Nations Security Council and is unlikely to assent to a such a request.
•Putin to Obama: Russia not behind Ukraine protests
MOSCOW (AP) – The Kremlin says President Vladimir Putin has urged President Barack Obama to discourage the Ukrainian government from using force against protesters in the country’s east.
The Kremlin said in a statement following Monday’s conversation that the Russian leader rejected the claims of Russian agents’ involvement in protests as “speculations based on unreliable information.”
•Guardian: US Blames Russia For Militias
•The Saker, ICH: The Next 24 Hours Are Crucial For Ukraine
There are a lot of reports of large columns of military units moving towards the East. They even include artillery and heavy multiple rocket launchers.
•Johannes Stern: Ukrainian Opposition Responsible for Lethal Shootings: Report
Evidence is mounting that the Western-backed opposition was responsible for the lethal shootings in Independence Square on February 20.
•Gareth Porter: The Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program That Wasn’t
The deceptive rhetoric about the Iranian nuclear programme began with the Bill Clinton administration.
• Beware The BU Biolab:
For years there has been a grassoots campaign in Roxury and other neighborhoods in Boston against the building of a highly dangerous Level 4 BioLab by Boston University in a residential neighborhood. The lab had been built with federal funds thanks to Teddy Kennedy who thought it would create jobs in the bio-tech area, jobs that haven’t materialized.
Now, as a scappy grassroots campaign led by the gutsy and outspoken veteran Roxbury organizer, Klare X Allen, presses a gutless City Council to have hearings and shut down the lab which has violated all sorts of ordinances. The Boston Globe that has largely ignored the issue but emerged from its slumber with a predictable its good for Boston editorial. I am sure no Globe honchos live next door.
Anti-lab Alice Kast, an anti-lab campaigner has circulated this critique of the Globe’s foggy view:
“Did you read the Sunday Globe editorial, ‘Level 4’ disease research can be safe, belongs in America’s medical capital? The Globe should be ashamed of the level of intelligence or lack thereof in this article. It is a total denial of the reality of biodefense work in Boston.
It was Ted Kennedy in his defense role who worked to get BU as the location for coveted biological warfare research back in the day when he was openly fighting bioterrorism. BU won the designated space for research in spite of the fact they had multiple violations of not following guidelines set for research. BU was honest then about the reason for the work. They sent NIH a confirmation of their 20 year commitment to allow NIH and the Defense Department the use of this promised lab for biodefense. Menino never was honest. He simply said “we” are going to do the work. period. no discussion allowed. It was the sealed documents from the national security peoples which told Judge Saris that they needed this lab for defense research; that we could trust them with handling any inevitable disaster that was the risk to pay for the benefit of having biological weapons technology. After all we have great first responders. Please listen to that. It is inevitable that something will happen but you can handle it. If we believe that, we are living a clear case of a delusion of safety. We are not safe because we have storm troopers in our streets.
“Boston as the world’s greatest repository of life-saving expertise”… with the world’s deepest concentration of medical brainpower.” Really? It could be and still can recover its public health mandate. In today’s technological world. there is absolutely no need to be in the same lab or building or country to benefit from any research. It may be that individual scientists are still competing for the glory of being the one who comes up with a great discovery, but humankind would benefit if they started working together for the good of public health.
Level 4 research has never had “a life-saving usefulness which attracts top-level scientists.” Nobel prize winners do not do Level 4 research. Level 4 is needed for extremely hazardous pathogens which have been in existence for millions of years. They are not emerging and will become dangerous if we allow scientists the space to mutate them and make them universally dangerous. Pathogens have always had a way of protecting themselves against threats and they have a way of becoming resistant to our attempts to control.
As City Councilors you have the responsibility to realize that some research should never be done anyplace. The only cinema taking place today fits in with the Third Reich of Germany. The good people were told that they could trust and take part in the pathological programs run by the militaristic leaders. Do it to be patriotic, good citizens. As citizens of an emerging world family, we have to draw the line somewhere and say no, we will not take part in the planned genocide of whomever our leaders choose to name as enemy. There is no one in the world we need to destroy in order to live our own lives in peace.
Someone of you has to take the responsibility of asking BU some hard questions. Ask them why top rated scientists, including two Nobel peace prize winners, told them this work should not be done. Ask them to define valid research. Ask them why they pursue the myth of space suits protecting lab workers. Ask them why, when the only known escape from a lab came as an inside job, they are calling the conclusion inconclusive. They have put us in the position of becoming complicit with a gross evil. Boston deserves better than that.
Sincerely, Alice Kast
•Thanks for being here for another Newsdissector.net blog flowing from the passions of your news dissector Danny Schechter. Comments to email@example.com. Visit Mediachannel.org
•In case you missed my latest dissection on the Pistorius Trial that’s getting blanket coverage in South Africa and other news that isn’t.
***Thank you April Watters for documenting the recent tribute to the “Central Park 5″–5 NYC teenagers featured in a recent film documenting how they were falsely convicted and jailed. It’s 25 years later and some restorative justice is on the way. This story has been documented but the victims and their families are still fighting to put their lives together. Watch this video and then goo back and research the story
April writes: Yusef Abdus Salaam first up at expressing his feelings on being swiftly Wrongfully convicted them having justice denied when it’s been Proven they were innocent after Matias Reyes, already jailed,, confessed after finding out Korey Wise was jailed for what he did.
Raymond Santana,, who broke my heart, in the Central Park 5 documentary by Ken Burns
Kevin Richardson,, then Antron McCray’s Mother.
Where’s the Justice!?
In the News
•NY Times: Climate Efforts Falling Short, U.N. Panel Says
BERLIN — Delivering the latest stark news about climate change on Sunday, a United Nations panel warned that governments are not doing enough to avert profound risks in coming decades. But the experts found a silver lining: Not only is there still time to head off the worst, but the political will to do so seems to be rising around the world.
In a report unveiled here, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that decades of foot-dragging by political leaders had propelled humanity into a critical situation, with greenhouse emissions rising faster than ever. Though it remains technically possible to keep planetary warming to a tolerable level, only an intensive push over the next 15 years to bring those emissions under control can achieve the goal, the committee found.
“We cannot afford to lose another decade,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, a German economist and co-chairman of the committee that wrote the report. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”
The good news is that ambitious action is becoming more affordable, the committee found. It is increasingly clear that measures like tougher building codes and efficiency standards for cars and trucks can save energy and reduce emissions without harming people’s quality of life, the panel found. And the costs of renewable energy like wind and solar power are falling so fast that its deployment on a large scale is becoming practical, the report said.
•AP: Cost of fighting warming ‘modest,’ says UN panel
BERLIN (AP) – The cost of keeping global warming in check is “relatively modest,” but only if the world acts quickly to reverse the buildup of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere, the head of the U.N.’s expert panel on climate change said Sunday.
Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s appointment to the board of technology firm Dropbox draws criticism from some customers.
•LA Times: Heil Hitler Heard to KC Shooting: Three dead, teenager critical after shootings at Jewish facilities
•AP: 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting
OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) – A man in his 70s opened fire Sunday outside of a Jewish community center and nearby retirement community, killing three people, authorities said.
Overland Park Police Chief John Douglass said at a news conference Sunday evening that a person who had been reported to be in critical condition earlier was among three killed in the attacks
•BBC: Syria’s Assad claims war advantage
Syria’s President Assad claims his government has gained the upper hand in the civil war which has raged for more than three years.
•Willam Boardman, RSN: New Questions on Benghazi
• Is it possible that the Benghazi attack was orchestrated by the Islamist president of Turkey for the sake of freer rein in helping Syrian Islamist rebels?
• How much credence should be given to the YouTube recording of Turkish officials discussing a false flag operation designed to provoke a war between Turkey and Syria? ( Turkish officials have not denied the authenticity of the recording, but they claim it was manipulated and have shut down the YouTube site in Turkey.)
• Have the arms shipments from Libya to Syrian rebels included any chemical weapons? Or biological weapons?
• What did the White House know, and when did the White House know it?
•CLG: Inside the FBI’s secret relationship with US elite assassination team, JSOC –FBI agents were regularly involved in shootings, sometimes fighting side by side with the military – James Davis, FBI’s legal attaché 10 Apr 2014 …
•FBI officials have become more willing to discuss a little-known alliance between the bureau and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that allowed agents to participate in hundreds of raids in Iraq and Afghanistan. The FBI’s presence on the far edge of military operations was not universally embraced, according to current and former officials familiar with the bureau’s role. As agents found themselves in firefights, some in the bureau expressed uneasiness about a domestic law enforcement agency stationing its personnel on battlefields.
•FBI secretly worked in Iraq, Afghanistan
The Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have secretly worked with American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan in hundreds of operations, according to a new report. The FBI formed an alliance with Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and deployed its agents in hundreds of raids in Iraq and Afghanistan, The Washington Post reported on Friday. JSOC took advantage of the agency’s ability to utilize digital media to identify suspects… The agents who participated in these military raids by JSOC, described by retired General Barry McCaffrey as the “most dangerous people on the face of the earth,” and came from the FBI’s Hostage and Rescue Team (HRT).
•CIA and White House under pressure after Senate torture report leaks
A leak of the major findings of a landmark Senate inquiry into the CIA’s post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees led, on Friday, to intensified pressure on the White House and the CIA to release the inquiry speedily and with a minimum of redactions. The classified study, prepared by the Senate select committee on intelligence, concluded that the CIA’s interrogations, secret detentions and outsourced torture sessions were “brutal, and far worse than the agency communicated to policymakers.” More suspected terrorists underwent the agency’s post-9/11 treatment, which largely lasted from 2002 to 2006, than the CIA has publicly admitted, according to the report’s findings, which were first reported by McClatchy.
•GITMO AGAIN: I just saw the documentary on former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld who claimed that on his watch, no torture took place at Guantanamo. Now this:
•SP: Window opens on secret camp within Guantanamo
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) – Attorney James Connell has visited his client inside the secret Guantanamo prison complex known as Camp 7 only once, taken in a van with covered windows on a circuitous trek to disguise the route on the scrub brush-and-cactus covered military base.
•Renee Parsons: Building a Russian Wall
The US/NATO Enlargement Project
There had been a concerted effort at the US State Department to establish what has become a Russian Wall – meant to cut the country off from land and sea access.
•Eric Margolis: Patriotism is the First Platform of Fools
President Putin is being demonized into America’s leading hate figure. Few in the media dare say that Putin is reacting in Russia’s interests to NATO’s foolish push right up to his borders.
•Patrick Cockburn: MI6, The CIA And Turkey’s Rogue Game In Syria
New claims say Ankara worked with the US and Britain to smuggle Gaddafi’s guns to rebel groups.
• Felicity Arbuthnot: Hijacking God?
Tony Blair, George W. Bush and David Cameron
“Beware false prophets”, there are some very powerful ones around and these are dangerous times.
•Ellen Brown: The Global Banking Game Is Rigged, and the FDIC Is Suing
•Guardian: Scandal Makes The Rich Grow Stronger
•Lapham’s Quarterly, FLASH BACK TO 1865–“With Malice Toward None”
At this second appearing to take the oath of the presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention, and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it—all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war—seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it. Neither party expected for the war, the magnitude, or the duration, which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences! For it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!” If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope—fervently do we pray—that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.”
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
•Flash Forwad: The Atlantic–Black Culture and Progressivism
•Homeless People In NYC: Living in Bridges
•A New Week is here. Happy Passover to all who celebrate it. It is a freedom story. Comments and story suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please visit Mediachannel.org…Happy Holidays from your news dissector, Danny Schechter
•Join me and Reverend Jesse Jackson and guests on KeepHopeAliveRadio.com at 9 AM Sunday morning. Topic Remembering LBJ.
•TRNN: Courts Uphold Obama’s Power to Kill
•Other News and Views
•Hallelujah: The NY Times Endorses AlJazeera: “Al Jazeera Series Depicts U.S. Problems
•Related: Daily Beast: Lack of Civility is Destroying Washington D.C.
•Reuters: Risk of ‘gas war’ grows as Ukraine halts payments to Russia
*Julian Sanchez, Guardian: The NSA’s ‘Heartbleed Problem” is the Problem WIth the NSA
•NY Times: Obama Lets N.S.A. Exploit Some Internet Flaws, Officials Say
WASHINGTON — Stepping into a heated debate within the nation’s intelligence agencies, President Obama has decided that when the National Security Agency discovers major flaws in Internet security, it should — in most circumstances — reveal them to assure that they will be fixed, rather than keep mum so that the flaws can be used in espionage or cyberattacks, senior administration officials said Saturday.
But Mr. Obama carved a broad exception for “a clear national security or law enforcement need,” the officials said, a loophole that is likely to allow the N.S.A. to continue to exploit security flaws both to crack encryption on the Internet and to design cyberweapons.
The White House has never publicly detailed Mr. Obama’s decision, which he made in January as he began a three-month review of recommendations by a presidential advisory committee on what to do in response to recent disclosures about the National Security Agency.
But elements of the decision became evident on Friday, when the White House denied that it had any prior knowledge of the Heartbleed bug, a newly known hole in Internet security that sent Americans scrambling last week to change their online passwords. The White House statement said that when such flaws are discovered, there is now a “bias” in the government to share that knowledge with computer and software manufacturers so a remedy can be created and distributed to industry and consumers.
Caitlin Hayden, the spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said the review of the recommendations was now complete, and it had resulted in a “reinvigorated” process to weigh the value of disclosure when a security flaw is discovered, against the value of keeping the discovery secret for later use by the intelligence community.
•AL Jazeera: Pakistan Judge Drops Charges Against Baby
•Robert Parry, Consortium News: Reagan-Bush Ties to Iran-Hostage Crisis
U.S. government officials are in high dudgeon again – this time over Iran’s audacity in naming an ambassador to the United Nations who allegedly played a minor role in the 1979-81 crisis in which 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days in Iran. But the same U.S. officials ignore the now overwhelming evidence that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush helped extend the hostages’ suffering to gain an edge in the 1980 election.
The double standard – getting worked up over the allegations about Iranian Ambassador Hamid Aboutalebi and going silent over the evidence implicating Reagan and Bush – is just the latest in a long series of examples of the U.S. government’s hypocrisy.
Indeed, one might think that the near treasonous behavior of Reagan and Bush was more objectionable than whatever Aboutalebi did as a young man in Tehran. He has denied direct participation in the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 though he apparently provided some assistance with translations and negotiations. Aboutalebi is now a close adviser to Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani and has served as Iranian ambassador to Belgium, Italy, Australia and the European Union.
It is rare for the United States to block an ambassador to the United Nations, which is located in New York City, but Aboutalebi’s selection has become the latest excuse for congressional hardliners to throw a wrench into negotiations aimed at limiting but not eliminating Iran’s nuclear program. On Monday, the U.S. Senate passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to deny Aboutalebi a visa for entering the United States. Following the Senate’s lead, the Obama administration also has criticized the nomination.
The irony, however, is that Cruz and pretty much every leading Republican model themselves after President Reagan whose election in 1980 now appears to have been aided by his campaign’s behind-the-scenes maneuvering to frustrate President Jimmy Carter’s negotiations to gain the hostages’ freedom. Those talks broke down in October 1980 and the hostages were only freed after Reagan was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1981.
Reagan’s purported “October Surprise” operation to torpedo Carter’s hoped-for success in getting the hostages out before the Nov. 4, 1980, election would have made the Republican icon a much bigger villain in the hostages’ ordeal than Aboutalebi. George H.W. Bush, who was Reagan’s running mate in 1980, was also implicated in the sabotage operation.
The evidence of this Republican skullduggery has been building for more than three decades, with the 1980 contacts between the Reagan team and radical Iranians appearing to be the opening chapter of the Iran-Contra saga of 1985-86, which also involved secret contacts and the trading of arms for hostages.
Both operations also were shielded by aggressive Republican cover-ups that extended from 1986 to 1993, although congressional and government investigators did a much better job in excavating the Iran-Contra secrets than they did with the October Surprise case. It wasn’t until last June that Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Indiana, who headed both congressional inquiries, admitted that he had been misled about key October Surprise evidence.
•Uri Avnery, RSN: Once Again, Israel Sabotages Palestinian Peace Talks
POOR John Kerry.
This week he emitted a sound that was more expressive than pages of diplomatic babble.
In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee he explained how the actions of the Israeli government had torpedoed the “peace process”. They broke their obligation to release Palestinian prisoners, and at the same time announced the enlargement of more settlements in East Jerusalem. The peace efforts went “poof”.
POOR John Kerry. This week he emitted a sound that was more expressive than pages of diplomatic babble.
In his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations committee he explained how the actions of the Israeli government had torpedoed the “peace process”. They broke their obligation to release Palestinian prisoners, and at the same time announced the enlargement of more settlements in East Jerusalem. The peace efforts went “poof”.
“Poof” is the sound of air escaping a balloon. It is a good expression, because the “peace process” was from the very beginning nothing more than a balloon full of hot air. An exercise in make-believe.
John Kerry cannot be blamed. He took the whole thing seriously. He is an earnest politician, who tried very very hard to make peace between Israel and Palestine. We should be grateful for his efforts.
The trouble is that Kerry had not the slightest idea of what he was getting himself into.
A Basic Lie
The entire “peace process” revolves around a basic misconception. Some would say: a basic lie.
Namely: that we have here two equal sides of a conflict. A serious conflict. An old conflict. But a conflict that can be solved when reasonable people of the two sides sit down together and thrash it out, guided by a benevolent and impartial referee.
Not one detail of these assumptions was real. The referee was not impartial. The leaders were not sensible. And most importantly: the sides were not equal.
The balance of power between the two sides is not 1:1, not even 1:2 or 1:10. In every material respect – military, diplomatic, economic – it is more like one to a thousand.
There is no equality between occupier and occupied, oppressor and oppressed. A jailer and a prisoner cannot negotiate on equal terms. When one side has total command of the other, controls his every move, settles on his land, controls his money flow, arrests people at will, blocks his access to the UN and the International courts, equality is out of the question.
If the two sides to negotiations are so extremely unequal, the situation can only be remedied by the mediator supporting the weaker side. What is happening is the very opposite: the American support for Israel is massive and unstinting.
Throughout the “negotiations” the US did nothing to check the settlement activity that created more Israeli facts on the ground – the very ground whose future the negotiations were all about.
A PREREQUISITE for successful negotiations is that all sides have at least a basic understanding not only of each other’s interests and demands, but even more of each other’s mental world, emotional setup and self-image. Without that, all moves are inexplicable and look irrational.
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, one of the most intelligent people I have met in my life, once told me: “You have in Israel the most intelligent experts on the Arab world. They have read all the books, all the articles, every single word written about it. They know everything, and understand nothing. Because they have never lived one day in an Arab country.”
The same is true for the American experts, only much more so. In Washington DC one feels the rarefied air of a Himalayan peak. Seen from the grandiose palaces of the administration, where the fate of the world is decided, foreign people look small, primitive and largely irrelevant. Here and there some real experts are tucked away, but nobody really consults them.
The average American statesman has not the slightest idea of Arab history, world-view, religions, myths or the traumas that shape Arab attitudes, not to mention the Palestinian struggle. He has no patience for this primitive nonsense.
SEEMINGLY, THE American understanding of Israel is much better. But not really.
Average American politicians and diplomats know a lot about Jews. Many of them are Jews. Kerry himself seems to be partly Jewish. His peace team includes many Jews, even Zionists, including the actual manager of the negotiations, Martin Indyk, who worked in the past for AIPAC. His very name is Yiddish (and means a Turkey).
The assumption is that Israelis are not very different from American Jews. But that is entirely false. Israel may claim to be the “Nation-State of the Jewish People”, but that is only an instrument for exploiting the Jewish Diaspora and creating obstacles for the “peace process”. In reality there is very little similarity between Israelis and the Jewish Diaspora, not much more than between a German and a Japanese.
Martin Indyk may feel an affinity with Tzipi Livni, the daughter of an Irgun fighter (or “terrorist” in British parlance), but that is an illusion. The myths and traumas that shaped Tzipi are very different from those that shaped Martin, who was educated in Australia.
If Barack Obama and Kerry knew more, they would have realized from the beginning that the present Israeli political setup makes any Israeli evacuation of the settlements, withdrawal from the West Bank and compromise about Jerusalem quite impossible.
ALL THIS is true for the Palestinian side, too.
Palestinians are convinced that they understand Israel. After all, they have been under Israeli occupation for decades. Many of them have spent years in Israeli prisons and speak perfect Hebrew. But they have made many mistakes in their dealings with Israelis.
The latest one was the belief that Israel would release the fourth batch of prisoners. This was almost impossible. All Israeli media, including the moderate ones, speak about releasing “Palestinian murderers”, not Palestinian activists or fighters. Right-wing parties compete with each other, and with rightist “terror-victims”, in denouncing this outrage.
Israelis do not understand the deep emotions evoked by the non-release of prisoners – the national heroes of the Palestinian people, though Israel itself has in the past exchanged a thousand Arab prisoners for one single Israeli, citing the Jewish religious command of “redemption of prisoners”.
It has been said that Israel always sells a “concession” three times: once when promising it, once when signing an official agreement about it and thirdly when actually fulfilling the undertaking. This happened when the time came to implement the third withdrawal from the West Bank under the Oslo agreements, which never happened.
Palestinians know nothing about Jewish history as taught in Israeli schools, very little about the holocaust, even less about the roots of Zionism.
RECENT NEGOTIATIONS started as “peace talks”, continued about a “framework” for further negotiations, and now the talks have degenerated to talks about the talks about the talks.
Fear of the Alternative to Make-Believe
Nobody wants to break off the farce, because all three sides are afraid of the alternative.
The American side is afraid of a general onslaught of the Zionist-evangelical-Republican-Adelson bulldozer on the Obama administration in the next elections. Already the State Department is frantically trying to retreat from the Kerry “poof”. He did not mean that only Israel is to blame, they assert, the fault lies with both sides. The jailer and the prisoner are equally to blame.
As usual, the Israeli government has many fears. It fears the outbreak of a third intifada, coupled with a world-wide campaign of de-legitimization and boycott of Israel, especially in Europe.
It also fears that the UN, which at present recognizes Palestine only as a non-member state, will go on and promote it more and more.
The Palestinian leadership, too, is afraid of a third intifada, which may lead to a bloody uprising. Though all Palestinians speak about a “non-violent intifada”, few really believe in it. They remember that the last intifada also started non-violently, but the Israeli army responded by deploying snipers to kill the leaders of the demonstrations, and more suicide bombing became inevitable.
President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) has responded to the non-release of the prisoners, which amounted to a personal humiliation, by signing the documents necessary for the Palestinian State to join 15 international conventions. The Israeli government exploded in anger. How dare they?
In practice, the act means little. One signature means that Palestine joins the Geneva Convention. Another concerns the protection of children. Shouldn’t we welcome this? But the Israeli government fears that this is one step nearer to the acceptance of Palestine as a member of the International Criminal Court, and perhaps the indictment of Israelis for war crimes.
Abbas is also planning steps for a reconciliation with Hamas and the holding of Palestinian elections, in order to strengthen his home front.
IF YOU were poor John Kerry, what would you say to all this?
“Poof!” seems the very minimum.
•Happy Sunday. Comments on the NewsDissector.net blog to email@example.com. Visit Mediachannel.org
•Quote of the Day: “I remember those who made it possible for us to be here like the three civil rights workers in Mississippi, two white and one black who were murdered 50 years ago as they tried to help their fellow citizen to register to vote. James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner believed so strongly that change was possible that they were willing to lay down their lives for it. The least you can do is take them up on the gift they have given you. You go out and vote. You can make a change. You do have the power.” —President Obama, April 11, 2014. Watch On YouTube
•I felt S-G-C’s spirit today when I invoked their memory at a workshop held by Three Dot Dash–the We Are Family Foundation’s action arm and training platform for Global Teen Leaders (GTL’s) from a around the world. Their work, led by Nile Rogers and Nancy Hunt is amazing, bringing young change makers from around the world to be empowered with sklls and contacts. I have been involved with these folks since 2001 and it only gets better.
•News Dissection: ‘Marching on Pistorius:’ Athlete and Democracy On Trial in South Africa
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: With Nelson Mandela’s death, news from South Africa seemed to have died along with the world’s most famous ex-political prisoner turned president. It was as if the people there don’t deserve to be covered unless there is a larger than life celebrity or scandal to focus on.
Happily for the media industry there is a now an anti-Mandela in the public eye—famous not for what he achieved, but infamous for killing his girlfriend, mistaking her for an intruder who he gunned down. It was either a tragic accident or the work of mad man.
Oscar Pistorius’ trial is now getting far more coverage than the one that Mandela and his co-defendents went through in 1962 leading to his life sentence. That’s partly because his late live-in lover, Reeva Steenkamp, was a stunning blonde beauty known to local media, while he was a medal winning athlete dubbed the “blade runner” because he had been a double amputee since childhood and overcame adversity to won races wearing prosthetic devices.
This story of white on white violence—although, note, it is never, described that way—is being given the full tabloid treatment with cover stories in People Magazine and lots of hype by the networks.
Unlike the days of apartheid, a black judge is hearing this case with race rarely alluded to. Oscar had lived in a pricey gated community where fear of black burglers is legion, all an unstated reflection of the dramatic inequality that remains in that country, and another dimension of the back story about his fears and guilt that gets less press attention.
If Pistorius had killed an unknown black intruder, instead of his celebrity paramour, this trial wouldn’t be news.
The coverage of him as been mosty negative although he has fought back with his own communications team with a Twitter feed, @OscarHardTruth, designed to give “factual updates” on the trial. Its profile reads, “Truth Shall Prevail. Innocent until Proven Guilty.” http://www.oscarpistorius.com . In just 24 hours, it had over 16 400 followers, but only follows 28 – mostly international media outlets.
South Africa’s Media Monitor, Media Tenor, said that the local media is trying him as well as the court. According to researcher, Minnette Nieuwoudt, “my instinct tells me the media likes a damsel-in-distress type of story. The outright victim is something that resonates with a lot of people. The fact that she was very beautiful, it made her a bit of an icon.
Pistorius, on the other hand, started getting increasingly negative coverage over the months after the shooting.
“There seemed to be a slight change in the tonality. Also, with regards to Oscar, he was initially compared to fallen sport heroes — then this changed to a more the general criminal comparison. First, he was an athlete who stumbled. Now, he’s a criminal, who used to be an athlete,” said Nieuwoudt.”
But even as the world focuses on his courtroom tears and the aggressive and often bungled prosecution that aims to show the dark side of this Olympic hero, other issues of perhaps worst crimes in South Africa draw little interest from the global media machine.
2014 is the twentieth anniversary of South Africa’s “freedom” and the coming of democracy. It is an election year with national campaign underway pitting President Jacob Zuma, who was once part of the African National Congress’s armed struggle, and a popular if controversial/detested politician seeking reelection against a number of challengers.
Zuma is carrying lots of baggage because of a current theft of public monies for private use scandal involving lavish improvements on his home compound, and an earlier rape case.
The ANC has a serious political challenge as well.
On the Center right, there’s the DA—the Democratic Alliance, now transitioning from its roots in all white politics into a multi-racial Party that holds power in the Western Cape Province with Cape Town as its capital.
And, then there are two new outfits, among other players, contesting for seats in this Parliamentary democracy. Businesswoman and educator Mamphela Ramphele, best known as the anti-apartheid icon Steve Biko’s girl friend and her Agang Party is focusing on corruption and attracting women, while former ANC Youth League Leader, Julius Malema has set up a militant radical sounding youth-oriented party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, and says the ANC died with Mandela.
South Africa’s powerful labor unions that have been in an alliance with the ANC for decades were expected to organize a worker’s party but they have been persuaded not to. None of these political divisions fall on strict left-right differences.
Many on all sides have strong disagreements with the ANC’s neo-liberal economic policies, and complain about pervasive poverty and low growth.
Outside the traditional political party structure, dissent is heard daily in noisy press stories exposing corruption and the ‘politics of concealment’ by the ruling ANC party.
Long time activists and ANC members are incensed by the lack of transparency and arrogance in a political elite that seems more focused on enriching themselves than serving the public.
Now, a former Minister, Ronnie Kasrils, and supporters have launched a new Vote No campaign to put the issues of the ANC’s betrayal and corruption on the agenda. They have just issued this release:
“A one-time minister and a deputy minister in ANC governments are among a group of former anti-apartheid activists who are backing a campaign calling on voters to come out and vote by either spoiling their ballots or to voting tactically in protest against corruption and current government policies.
Former intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils and former deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge are among a number of prominent figures who have endorsed a statement headed: Sidikiwe! (We are fed up) Vukani! (Arise/Wake up), Vote ‘NO’ that will be released at the Press conference.”
It criticises the economic policies of “both the ANC and the main opposition the DA for supporting a system that has caused such alienation.
Many are struggle veterans and most of the signatories have supported the ANC throughout the years since the 1994 transition, but are appealing to the wider range of disillusioned voters. Their statement concludes:
“The ANC needs to know that it can no longer take for granted its traditional support and we would be failing South Africa and our democracy by not voting. After the elections efforts will be intensified to build an inclusive and transformative political program premised on social justice, redistribution, clean governance and democratic principles.”
All of this textured opposition politics does not meet the celebrity smell test that seems to motivate international media to pay attention.
Corruption stories in Africa are widely covered although the focus is rarely ever on the corruptor, just the corruptee. It is virtually never on the disasterous impact of western corporations, banks and international financial institutions.
Years ago the anti-government song “Marching on Pretoria” was well-known. Today, with the media “marching on Pistorius,” the deeper and critical issues of a deepening economic and political crisis have been supplanted by another distraction–what looks to all the world as another OJ Simpson trial focused on personal pain for audiences relishing more newstainment.
News Dissector Danny Schechter edits Mediachannel.org and blogs at newsdissector.net. His latest book is Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (Madibabook.com). Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
•Heavy.com: Photos at Polk Awards
*NY Times: Journalists Who Broke News on N.S.A. Surveillance Return to the U.S.
The journalists had been threatened, cajoled and condemned by the British and American governments. Their work together had set off a hunt for their source and a debate on both sides of the Atlantic about government surveillance.
But they had never met — until Friday.
That was when Glenn Greenwald, the journalist, lawyer and civil liberties crusader, and Alan Rusbridger, the editor of The Guardian newspaper, finally shook hands after months of working remotely on articles based on material from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden. The two were in New York for the prestigious Polk Award for national security reporting, awarded to Mr. Greenwald and his colleagues, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, and the Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman.
Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras returned to the United States for the first time since their articles broke in June. They arrived at Kennedy Airport in New York from Berlin, where Mr. Greenwald had given a speech on Thursday and where Ms. Poitras lives and is making a documentary on surveillance.
Mr. Gellman, who revealed the Snowden findings alongside The Guardian, has lived in the United States since their publication beginning last June. But there were fears among Mr. Greenwald’s supporters that he and Ms. Poitras might be detained upon returning to the United States. Federal prosecutors have charged Mr. Snowden with violating the Espionage Act. He has been given asylum in Russia.
The crowd of journalists at the Polk ceremony at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan cheered and applauded when it was announced that Mr. Greenwald and Ms. Poitras had cleared customs and were en route. They arrived just after 1 p.m., trailed by flashing cameras. With the ceremony already underway, Guardian editors, including Mr. Rusbridger, welcomed the two.
“I am finally really happy to see a table full of Guardian editors and journalists, whose role in this story is much more integral than the publicity generally recognizes,” Mr. Greenwald said, as he accepted the award for national security reporting.
It speaks to the increasingly wired and global news-gathering ecosystem that two of the journalists who collaborated on the complex and politically charged revelations from Mr. Snowden about global surveillance had never met. Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill, a veteran Guardian reporter, flew to Hong Kong to meet with Mr. Snowden, someone they had only known via the Internet until they met in person at a hotel. Mr. Snowden identified himself by carrying a Rubik’s cube.
Twenty-five years ago people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change. Today we have no excuse.
•Guardian: CIA Under Pressure After New Torture Leaks
•James Kwak, Baseline Scenario.com: What Might Have Been . . .
I was reading the plea deal in the SAC case, which was approved by the judge yesterday, and then I started reading the criminal indictment filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. What I noticed was how relatively simple it was for the prosecutors to convict SAC Capital for the insider trading committed by its employees. In short, because the firm enabled and benefited from the employees’ crimes, the firm was itself criminally liable.
Looking back at the enormous amount of effort the Southern District has put into Preet Bharara’s crusade against insider trading, you have to wonder what they might have accomplished had they instead targeted, say, fraud committed by Wall Street banks that contributed to the financial crisis. That’s the topic of my new column in The Atlantic. One of the frustrations of post-crisis legal proceedings is that it’s so hard to show that any senior executives themselves committed fraud, since they can usually plead some combination of ignorance and incompetence instead. Failing that, though, the government could have put more resources into flipping lower-level employees and then filing criminal indictments against their banks. Yesterday Bharara claimed, “when institutions flout the law in such a colossal way, they will pay a heavy price.” But only if the Department of Justice chooses to go after them.
*OURMISSINGNEWS.COM: “Hidden GM Documents show 10-Year Coverup”
House investigators on Friday made public some of the more than 200,000 pages of internal General Motors correspondence and other documents detailing years of internal deliberations over a dangerous flaw in a small-car ignition switch that the company did not disclose to the public until this year.
The documents were requested as part of an investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee into why it took the automaker more than a decade to disclose the safety issue to the public and to order a recall of the vehicles with the defective switch. A Senate committee is conducting a separate inquiry, as are the Justice Department and regulators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The documents include at least one internal email exchange with Mary T. Barra, a 30-year veteran of the company who became chief executive in January.
Ms. Barra has repeatedly said that she first learned of an internal investigation of Chevrolet Cobalt ignition switches in December 2013, a few weeks before she became chief executive. A safety team had met at that time, and was in the final process of recommending the first recall of Cobalts and Pontiac G5 sedans because of faulty switches, which G.M. has now tied to 13 deaths.
•TGIF. Comments on the blog to email@example.com. Visit Mediachannel.org
NYT: 50 Years Later, Obama Salutes Effects of Civil Rights Act
AUSTIN, Tex. — For three days, the veterans of a long-ago movement reunited and drew together their spiritual heirs to explore the legacy of the Civil Rights Act a half-century after it transformed America. And then the legacy walked onstage.
President Obama presented himself on Thursday as the living, walking, talking and governing embodiment of the landmark 1964 law that banned discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin.
In a speech that stirred an audience of civil rights champions here at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library and Museum, Mr. Obama acknowledged that racism has hardly been erased and that government programs have not always succeeded. But, he added, “I reject such cynicism because I have lived out the promise of L.B.J.’s efforts, because Michelle has lived out the legacy of those efforts, because my daughters have lived out the legacy of those efforts.”
Former President Bill Clinton, at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library on Wednesday, spoke of the role that the civil rights movement played in his career.On Civil Rights Act Anniversary, Bill Clinton Challenges Lawmakers to Be BoldAPRIL 9, 2014
Thanks to the law and the movement that spawned it and the progress made after it, Mr. Obama said, “new doors of opportunity and education swung open for everybody,” regardless of race, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation. “They swung open for you and they swung open for me,” he said. “And that’s why I’m standing here today, because of those efforts, because of that legacy.”
•Speaking of Civil Rights
I am still working with a growing group to get a memorial built on the Cornell Campus for Schwerner’61, Goodman and Chaney, the three civil rights workers murderedby the Klu Klux Klan in Neshoba County Mississippi 50 years ago this June. Here’s an appeal to my class of ’64. If you know any Cornellians or want to help, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
•To Commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Class of ‘64
We went to Cornell during an historic time. The civil rights movement was gaining momentum nationwide. The issue was a powerful moral challenge for our generation. During your time at Cornell University, you may recall the visits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, James Baldwin and John Lewis to our campus. Perhaps they knew that Ezra Cornell had been an early abolitionist and that Cornell’s values upheld justice and equality.
You may also recall the tragic murder of civil rights worker Mickey Schwerner’61 who was killed brutally in Mississippi by the Ku Klux Klan along with Andy Goodman (whose parents went to Cornell) and James Chaney just as our class graduated. It shocked the nation.
Today in the spring of 2014, there is a popular movement on campus to have a public memorial built on campus to honor their sacrifice and preserve the memory of the movement for future generations of Cornellians. This is endorsed by students from more than 20 groups including student government, fraternities, and religious organizations. Also actively engaged are leading faculty members and alumni. President Skorton and members of the University administration are embracing the idea, and we hope to turn this vision into a reality.
We need the support of the Class of ’64 to bring this dream forward and make it happen. We need your endorsement and the financial support of those among you who share our passion and have the resources to make a contribution.
Please write to me if you can help, or want more information.
Tom Hanna ’64, Danny Schechter’64
We have other signatories. Will you support us?
The Wrap: Actor’s body had remained unclaimed due to dispute over burial site
The family of deceased actor Mickey Rooney, who died Sunday at age 93, has resolved a dispute over the actor’s final resting place that has left Rooney’s body unclaimed since his death.
Rooney’s body had remained unclaimed at the Forest Lawn Cemetery mortuary while two factions of his family worked to resolve their dispute, which followed years of acrimony over the “Andy Hardy” actor’s finances.
Under the agreement, Rooney’s body will be released from Forest Lawn “to Hollywood Forever Cemetery for the disposition of his remains,” according to a stipulation and proposed order obtained by TheWrap. A small private ceremony will be held for the actor’s family.
•Some of The News
The World Bank urges countries to allocate more resources to the extreme poor because economic growth alone is not enough to end poverty.
•The Atlantic: Campaign Finance and the Nihilist Politics Of Resignation
•ABC News: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Resigning
•The Hill: House passes Ryan’s final budget in tight vote
The House on Thursday passed Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget in a tight 219 to 205 vote as Republicans charged into a midterm election battle with Democrats over the size of government.
The passage of the fiscal 2015 budget resolution is a significant victory for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his leadership team, which spent days whipping votes for the bill.
South African athlete Oscar Pistorius is painted as a selfish, reckless liar in a second-day of gruelling cross-examination at his murder trial.
•Angela Merkel Denied Access To Her NSA file
•AJE: UN Approves Peacekeepers For Central African Republic
•CNN Money: Code red: Stocks tank on Wall Street
•NYT: The agreement with federal prosecutors requires the once-mighty hedge fund run by Steven A. Cohen to pay $1.2 billion to the government while shutting its doors to outside investors.
•David Daley, Salon: Jimmy Carter on US Warmongering
Exclusive: The former president on Democrats’ white male problem, sexual assault on campus, Barack Obama and more
immy Carter’s new book, “A Call to Action,” is an urgent and bold addition to a library of some two dozen books he’s written in his post-presidency, as one of our finest global citizens. It’s subtitled “Women, Religion, Violence and Power,” and Carter is unafraid to tackle controversial topics: sexual assault on campus and the military; religious leaders of all faiths who use sacred texts to justify oppression; punitive prison sentences weighted against the poor and against racial minorities; American drone wars and endless military operations.
In a brief but wide-ranging conversation last week, we talked about many of those topics — but also the Republican war on women; criticism of President Obama which echoes critiques of his own administration; and about how his grandson, Jason, might reverse the tide of white Southern males toward the GOP. Asked why white males have embraced the Republicans, Carter, 89, was unequivocal. “It’s race,” he said. But on other topics, especially about Fox News and the Republican war on women, Carter’s answers were equally direct but more surprising. And wait until you hear his response about “slut-shaming.”
The interview has been lightly edited and condensed.
You write in “A Call to Action” that “there’s an inevitable chasm between the societal leaders who write and administer criminal laws and the people who fill the jails.” What role do you think race plays in the perpetuation of that chasm?
Well, the statistics still show that race plays a major difference. Not only are African-American and Hispanic people poverty-stricken comparatively speaking, but they suffer the plight of being incarcerated much more than other people. I think I mention in [the book] that since I left the White House, 800 percent more black women are now incarcerated than when I was president of the United States. And this means that most of the people that are in prison for a long period of time, a vast majority of them are Hispanics, blacks or they are mentally [challenged] in some way. So this means that with the people who are in power who write the laws, administer the laws and enforce the laws, they are pretty well excluded from any equal treatment within the justice system.
You also strike hard against a culture of sexual assault on college campuses, noting statistics that 95 percent of students who are sexually assaulted remain silent.
That’s right. They don’t report it?
Did that shock you?
It did. I had indications.
Are there cultural reasons why women are afraid to come forward? Is it something in the way the media covers the issue, or the way the judicial system works, or the extremism of the political debate around issues like this?
It’s not extremism, it’s not abuse of women. It’s the discouragement of women to report. And this is done by well-meaning and very enlightened and admirable presidents of universities and deans of the colleges, as well. They don’t want to see a bad reflection brought on their campus or on their university — take Duke University or Emory University, where I teach, or Harvard or Yale. They want the university to have a clean bill of health as far as sexual assault is concerned. They warn the girls, and I know this personally, that when you report this rape, you’re going to be put on the witness stand and you’re going to be forced to testify through all the most embarrassing circumstances. “What kind of underwear did you wear? Have you ever had sex before? What kind of kisses do you give the boy, with your tongue in his mouth? Do you have a record of dating boys in a very heavy way before?” Or things of that kind. It’s very embarrassing.
In fact one midshipwoman in the Naval Academy was even asked on the stand, how wide she opened her mouth when she gave oral sex, to the football players who raped her. So this is the kind of thing that discourages a girl. And also they convince the girl that no matter what they do, the boy will probably not be convicted, particularly if he’s a white boy. He’ll be claiming that she was interested in consensual sex, that she was wearing provocative clothing and seemed to want to have sex, or that she had been drinking. And so for assault it’s almost impossible to get a conviction on a college campus. And so most of the college administrators don’t want to spread it any further to the local district attorney or to law enforcement officials.
You’re probably the first president who has mentioned Craigslist, Backpage and the Erotic Review in a book. I wonder if you’re familiar with the phrase “slut-shaming,” which plays a significant role in the conversation about sexual assault.
I’ve heard of it, but I don’t think I can give you an exact definition, or use it in a sentence. (laughs)
It’s a method by which people try to push the blame for rape and sexual assault back onto the victim. Or a way to belittle women like Sandra Fluke, who comes forth to speak on behalf of contraception coverage and reproductive health, and is immediately denounced as a slut by Rush Limbaugh on the radio in front of the entire nation.
That’s what happens. Girls are eventually intimidated — and they are warned that if they bring a charge, it won’t be realized with the conviction of the rapist. And this means that on college campuses — and I think I mention a report from the U.S. Department of Justice, that half the rapes on college campuses are perpetrated by serial rapists. Because when they get to the college campus, they realize that they can get away with it, so they proceed with it — and they do it again and again. Why would any university want to keep that kind of student on the campus? I just don’t understand it. The same thing happens in the military — I was in the Navy for a long time in submarines, so I know. Commanding officers of a company or battalion or a ship — they don’t want to admit that under their rule, under their leadership, that this kind of thing takes place.
So many of the topics in this book, whether sexual assault on campus or in the military, whether equal pay for equal work, reproductive health – these are all topics of debate right now. And over the course of these national conversations, we hear Mike Huckabee talking about how women can’t control their libidos. There’s a congressman, Todd Akin, talking about “legitimate rape.” There’s another Senate nominee, Richard Mourdock, talking about how pregnancies from rape are God’s intention. There’s Limbaugh and Fluke. The anti-woman position almost seems to be enshrined in the GOP platform. Is that helpful?
Well, I don’t think so, but understand that in the U.S. Senate, the week before last, they had a vote on the commanding officers, for instance. They got 55 votes, and they needed 60 to pass the bill, but they got a majority — including a good many Republicans. Although there are some extremists, I guess on both sides, I wouldn’t say that Democrats are for protecting women and Republicans are not. Or against it. I wouldn’t want to go that far.
Even with those statements by Akin, Mourdock, Limbaugh and the others? You don’t usually hear that kind of talk from the other side.
Well, there are exceptions to it. I know that. But there are some Democratic husbands who abuse their wives and there are Democratic CEOs of corporations who pay women 23 percent less than they do men. So there are abuses on both sides.
You very clearly call out the speed with which the United States jumps into military action. You write that, “more than any nation in the world, the U.S. has been involved in armed conflict and has used war as means of resolving disputes …”
That’s correct, and I list some of the wars. I listed 10 or 15 and I could have listed about 10 or 15 more.
•Thanks for being here. TGIF. Comments to email@example.com Visit Mediachannel.org
••••Thursday on News Dissector/Mediachannel.org radio: Discussion of Media concentration and the Comcast merger with Michael Copps, former FCC Commissioner, and discussing coverage of money in politics with Miles Rapapport, the new President of Common Cause. Tune in online on Progressive Radio Network (PRN.fm) from 5-6 PM New York time.
In the News
•••NYT: Russia Plotting for Ukrainian Influence, Not Invasion, Analysts Say
MOSCOW — The separatist demonstrations again churning through eastern Ukraine have raised fears of a Crimean-style invasion by the 40,000 Russian troops coiled just over the Russian border. But Moscow’s goals are more subtle than that, focused on a long-range strategy of preventing Ukraine from escaping Russia’s economic and military orbit, according to political analysts, Kremlin allies and diplomats interviewed this week.
Toward that end, the Kremlin has made one central demand, which does not at first glance seem terribly unreasonable. It wants Kiev to adopt a federal system of government giving far more power to the governors across Ukraine.
“A federal structure will ensure that Ukraine will not be anti-Russian,” said Sergei A. Markov, a Russian political strategist who supports the Kremlin.
Russian soldiers last month in the Crimean Peninsula with compact encrypted radio units hanging on their shoulders.I
Russian officials have said they envision a system in which regions elect their own leaders and protect their own economic, cultural and religious traditions,
•Portside: A Russian View By Boris Kagarlitsky, Moscow, translated by Renfrey Clarke
In perfectly rational fashion, the population of the peninsula reasoned that Russian rule, with all its shortcomings – which Crimean residents knew intimately – was nevertheless better than the chaos and collapse that were afflicting Ukraine.
March 24, 2014 – editorial, Rabkor (Worker Correspondent) — No, that’s not a mistake. On March 18, Crimea annexed Russia. There were no insidious schemes or imperial ambitions involved. There was, however, a spontaneously developing situation, together with the usual, everyday willingness of the Crimean bosses, who saw a unique chance in the Russian-Ukrainian crisis.
With the Ukrainian state on the brink of collapse after the flight of President Yanukovich from Kiev, the Kremlin authorities were understandably concerned to protect their interests and strengthen their position, but the most they counted on was turning Crimea into a second Trans-Dniestr enclave or Republic of Northern Cyprus – that is, into a de-facto Russian protectorate with formal independence. The presence in Crimea of “polite people” in green camouflage uniforms in no way prevented this scenario from playing out, any more than did the presence of NATO soldiers on the territory of the former Yugoslavia or of Turkish troops in Cyprus.
In Sevastopol and Simferopol, however, the authorities decided differently. Taking advantage of the confusion and disarray in Moscow and Kiev, the Crimean leaders drew up their own agenda. In the course of a few days they took several irreversible steps. The period before the referendum was cut to a minimum, so as to prevent both the Ukrainian and Russian authorities from getting their bearings. The Kremlin was presented with a gift it could not refuse. After having set the propaganda pendulum swinging, and amid a patriotic upsurge within Russia, our rulers were simply unable to say “no” when Crimea officially demanded unification with Russia. And so it happened.
The main difference between informal control over the territory and official unification lay in the fact that Moscow thereafter would bear responsibility for everything that occurred on the peninsula, especially on the material level. The Russian authorities are now obliged to take care of pensions, roads and the wages of state employees, assigning money directly to Crimea from the federal budget.
Not surprisingly, the internet began immediately to feature joking appeals from other Russian provinces, whose residents also wanted to be annexed to Russia on the same conditions as Crimea. The budget deficits of these provinces are constantly increasing, and the federal treasury takes far more money from them than it doles out. The liberal press in turn is predicting general ruin as a result of the costs of fitting out the new territory.
The truth is that Crimea is an extremely valuable acquisition both strategically and economically. For any country, territorial expansion opens up new opportunities – for an expansion of its internal market, of its tax base, skills base and natural resources. It is no accident that so many wars have been fought over this peninsula, and it was not by chance that the ancient Greeks, Byzantines, Genoese and Turks established outposts there. Provided matters are handled competently, there is potential in Crimea for the development of tourism, agriculture, viticulture and many other sectors. But the qualifier is all-important: “provided matters are handled competently”. There are no guarantees that Russian administration, in essence merely a cover for corrupt self-rule by local bureaucrats, will prove more effective than Ukrainian rule. Meanwhile, a key condition for realising Crimea’s potential within the Russian Federation is precisely that relations of solidarity and neighbourly goodwill are maintained with Ukraine.
The Ukrainian state stands to profit from this as well, since it is now able to supply electricity, water and other resources to Crimea at international prices; Ukraine thus has a negotiating lever to compensate for its dependence on Russian raw materials and gas. But for these aces to be employed, there needs to be a stable and flexible government in Kiev – and the wait for this, more than likely, will be very long indeed.
•Katie Rucke: Its Iraq WMD Folly With Syria By Ignoring Hersh Sarin Reports
The U.S. media still refrains from asking the tough questions that expose the truth, which may because stories exposing the truth simply don’t get run, as one Pulitzer Prize winner can attest.
Over the weekend, reports surfaced that The New York Times, The Washington Post and the New Yorker — had all declined to publish the second installment of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s reports on Syria.
Published in the London Review of Books, “The Red Line and The Rat Line” suggests the United States’ near-invasion of Syria last fall was likely based on a false pretext. It also alleges that the corporate media once again failed to question unsubstantiated claims made by U.S. intelligence officials who accused the Bashar al-Assad regime of being responsible for the the Aug. 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack.
His first report, “Whose Sarin?,” cast a spotlight on who could be behind the sarin gas attacks. Published by the London Review of Books in December, it was also largely ignored by the corporate media despite the report including evidence from reports conducted by the United Nations, the White House and the intelligence communities.
In his most recent investigation, Hersh reports that President Barack Obama’s decision to not invade Syria was not because Obama is against war, but because “[t]he American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons.”
In addition, it claims the Obama administration neglected to share with the public unsettling facts about al-Qaida-linked rebels with sarin gas capabilities. It also alleges that Turkey and Saudi Arabia were providing the rebels with these capabilities to create a false flag in Syria to push the United States to invade the sovereign nation.
•Eric Zuesse, Op-ed News: The SEC Is Corrupt
Bloomberg News reported, on April 8th, that a Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney, said at his recent retirement party on March 27th, that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other mega-banks had been squelched by top people at the agency, because they “were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing difficult cases.”
He suggested that SEC officials knew that Wall Street would likely hire them after the SEC at much bigger pay than their government remuneration was, so long as the SEC wouldn’t prosecute those megabank executives on any criminal charges for helping to cause the mortgage-backed securities scams and resulting 2008 economic crash.
His “remarks drew applause from the crowd of about 70 people,” according to the Bloomberg report. This would indicate that other SEC prosecutors feel similarly squelched by their bosses.
Kidney’s speech said that his superiors did not “believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful.”
Referring to the agency’s public-relations tactic of defending its prosecution-record by use of what he considered to be misleading statistics, Kidney said, “It’s a cancer” at the SEC.
Two recent studies have provided additional depth to Kidney’s assertions, by showing that Obama and his Administration had lied when they promised to prosecute Wall Street executives who had cheated outside investors, and deceived homebuyers, when creating and selling mortgage-backed securities for sale to investors throughout the world.
“This speaks volumes, and with power that no words can really match.”
•ICH: In Case You Missed It: The Photographs Tell the Story…
Is This Media manipulation on a grand scale?
•Marwan Bishara, The AlJazeera Program analyzing CNN
•The Guardian: John Kerry faces dilemma after latest Middle East impasse
•Essay: Obama, Deporter in Chief
•Snowden Watch: Bill Clinton on Snowden: An ‘imperfect messenger’
*CNN: Prosecutor grills Oscar Pistorius
•Michael Winship: Comcast, Time Warner and Congress: Perfect Together
As the US Senate holds its first hearing on the proposed Comcast-Time Warner deal — a $45 billion transaction that will affect millions of consumers and further pad some already well-lined pockets — it’s useful to get a look at how our elected officials have benefitted from the largesse of the two companies with an urge to merge.
Although the ultimate decision will be made by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department, according to the Sunlight Foundation, a reliable, nonpartisan watchdog, “The number one and number two cable providers in the country are also big-time on the influence circuit, giving upwards of a combined $42.4 million to various politicians and groups since 1989.
The Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Explorer tool also shows that the two companies have spent a combined $143.5 million lobbying Congress since 1989 on issues including telecommunications, technology, taxes and copyright.
President Barack Obama benefitted the most, by far, from Comcast, whose employees and their family members contributed more than $537,800. Two Texans — Gov. Rick Perry and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst — are the top recipients of contributions from Time Warner Cable, receiving $185,000 and $170,000, respectively.
Three Democratic and three Republican members of the Judiciary Committee are up for reelection this year and almost all have profited at least a bit from Comcast and/or Time Warner contributions, but the Democrats have come out ahead, the Sunlight Foundation reports. Minnesota Democrat Al Franken — an outspoken critic of the merger described as “a fundraising powerhouse” by Sunlight — has received $15,050 from Comcast and $13,350 from Time Warner, as per the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.org, and has pulled in $54,500 from individuals who have worked for Comcast-owned NBC Universal, including “Saturday Night Live” executive producer Lorne Michaels.
As for the other two Democrats, Delaware’s Chris Coons and Senate majority whip Dick Durbin of Illinois, Comcast has been Coons’ third-highest overall contributor ($53,300) and the senator has gotten $3,000 from Time Warner Cable employees. Durbin has received $51,700 from Comcast-affiliated employees and $3,500 from Time Warner employees.
Of the three up for reelection on the Republican side, Alabama’s Jeff Sessions, John Cornyn of Texas and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, the Sunlight Foundation notes that none have been “significant Comcast beneficiaries.”
“Overall, the three Southern state senators have received a total of $31,500 from Comcast and Comcast-affiliated employees, a sliver of the almost $70 million the three have raised in total during their respective runs for federal office. Time Warner employees have given $30,700 to Graham and $10,500 to Cornyn. Sessions has not received any money from Time Warner.
“It should be noted, however, that since 1989, Comcast has given at least $470,170 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee — and $640,625 to its Democratic counterpart.”
•RIP, The Ultimate Warrior: Saying Goodbye To Wresting Hero
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*THIS JUST IN: WP: News Alert, Underwater pings relocated in hunt for missing jet
An Australian official says equipment on a ship searching for the missing Malaysian jet has relocated an underwater signal that is consistent with a plane’s black boxes, according to the Associated Press.
Angus Houston, the head of a joint agency coordinating the search in the southern Indian Ocean, said Wednesday that the Australian navy’s Ocean Shield has picked up two more underwater signals that could be from Flight 370.
•NYT: Tues–-UConn Women Defeat Notre Dame, Bringing School Both N.C.A.A. Titles
At the final buzzer, his record ninth N.C.A.A. title secured, Geno Auriemma earned the right Tuesday to climb a ladder and snip a bit of the net, to stand above everyone in women’s basketball.
As Connecticut defeated its fiercest rival, Notre Dame, 79-58, Auriemma and the Huskies (40-0) completed their fifth undefeated season. He now has one title more than his former nemesis, Pat Summitt and Tennessee, and only one fewer than John Wooden, whose pyramid of success brought 10 national titles to the men’s team at U.C.L.A.
ICH: Jonathan Cook, Seymour Hersh and the Spineless Nay-sayers
April 08, 2014 “ICH” – A nice post from Interventions Watch, assessing the backwards and forwards on Seymour Hersh’s latest investigation suggesting that Turkey was behind the sarin gas attack on Ghouta last August.
I would go a little further. What I find irritating is seeing so many people who should know better invest their energies in abusing Hersh and his research. He is a lone journalist, even if one of the best, and one who has not been able to find a bigger publication than the LRB willing to publish his last two essays.
Yes, his sources are anonymous. So what does that tell us? Chiefly, that the Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers has been supremely effective.
Those attacking Hersh have got their priorities way out of kilter. The enemy here is twofold:
1. A White House that is trying to close down all public channels of information that might be used to hold it to account.
2. A corporate media that is acting largely in concert with the White House’s anti-transparency campaign.
A journalist like Brian Whitaker or Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch ought be exercising their Twitter fingers to berate those who want to keep us in the dark about what our leaders are really up to. Instead of badmouthing Hersh, they should be demanding that our so-called liberal media – the NYT, WaPo and the Guardian – start investigating these claims to see whether they hold water. The reality is that these media outlets are studiously ignoring Hersh’s work.
But Whitaker and Bouckaert both have a vested interest in ensuring such investigations do not take place, given that they have already endorsed the official narrative. Were Hersh to be proven right, they would look like the supreme dupes of official propaganda.
There is a reason why Herman and Chomsky called their book on the propaganda model and the western media “Manufacturing Consent”. I’d rather have a Hersh sticking his neck out to try to disrupt the process of manufacturing our consent than a dozen spineless Whitakers and Bouckaerts doing their level-best to shore the process up.
Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. http://www.jonathan-cook.net
•Daily Beast Beating The Drums: American spies have spotted all the signs of an all-out Russian invasion of Ukraine. Why won’t they tell the Ukrainians about the forces on their border?
U.S. intelligence agencies now have detailed information that Russia has amassed the kind of forces needed for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. But the Obama administration hasn’t shared with Ukraine the imagery, intercepts, and analysis that pinpont the location of the Russian troops ready to seize more Ukrainian land, The Daily Beast has learned.
President Obama has repeatedly and publicly expressed solidarity with the Ukrainian people—and warned Russian leader Vladimir Putin that there will be consequences if he takes over any more Ukrainian territory. Yet Obama’s administration has so far been reluctant to hand over the kind of intelligence the Ukrainians could use to defend themselves. U.S. officials and members of Congress briefed on the crisis in Ukraine tell The Daily Beast that senior U.S. military officers have been instructed to refrain from briefing their Ukrainian counterparts in detail about what the United States knows about the Russians troops amassing on the border.
“I am not confident we are sharing any of that kind of information,” said Rep. Michael Turner, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee that oversees NATO and U.S. tactical air and land forces. “It’s clear we are not giving them critical military advice about the Russian capability on their border and the best utilization of the Ukrainian military to counter that.”
•Washington Post: Secret Service shuffles staff after scandals
Secret Service director Julia Pierson has demoted the supervisor of one of the agency’s largest divisions and reassigned nearly two dozen members of its staff, part of a broader cleanup effort in the wake of embarrassing drinking incidents on two recent presidential trips, according to three people familiar with the moves.
The agency also has ordered stricter rules on drinking for the division, known as special operations. Five employees of the division were implicated in misconduct ahead of trips by President Obama last month to the Netherlands and Miami.
The agency has been struggling for two years to recover from a high-profile drinking-and-prostitution scandal ahead of Obama’s visit to Cartagena, Colombia, for a regional summit in April 2012.
•David Bensman, The American Prospect/Portside: Workers on the Edge
It is a common myth that the shift to precarious, irregular employment reflects either the structure of the new, digital economy or the preferences of workers themselves. But in reality, most contingent work is the result of efforts by employers to undermine wages, job protections and worker bargaining power.
One of the most significant contributing causes of the widening inequality and insecurity in the American workforce is the accelerating shift to what economists call contingent employment. That means any form of employment that is not a standard payroll job with a regular paycheck. It can take the form of temps, contract workers, part time jobs, or jobs with irregular hours. A study by the GAO found that fully one-third of the U.S. workforce, or 42.6 million workers, was contingent, meaning in a work arrangement that is “not long-term, year-round, full-time employment with a single employer. “
It is a common myth that the shift to precarious, irregular employment reflects either the structure of the new, digital economy or the preferences of workers themselves. But in reality, most contingent work is the result of efforts by employers to undermine wages, job protections and worker bargaining power. Work that could be (and once was) standard payroll employment is turned into substandard jobs, because corporations prefer it that way. And much of this shift is illegal, even though the laws are weakly enforced.
A leading scholar of this phenomenon, Professor Arne Kalleberg of the University of North Carolina, says that the rise of contingent work has led to “Pervasive job insecurity, the growth of dual-earner families, and 24/7 work schedules for many workers….These changes in work have, in turn, magnified social problems such as poverty, work-family conflicts, political polarization, and disparities by race, ethnicity, and gender.”
At heart of contingent work is the misclassification of regular workers as independent contractors, a practices that deprives workers of income, benefits such as workers compensation, and rights to form bargaining units—and deprives government of tax revenues. While some contractors are truly independent high-paid professionals, working in Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and the New York financial industry while enjoying the flexibility of their various relationships with the companies that give them assignments, many more are low-paid workers who are misclassified. A Fiscal Policy Institute study of the New York state workforce in 2005 found that 10.6 percent of the private sector workforce was misclassified. Similarly, a study done for the U.S. Department of Labor in 2000 reported that as many as thirty percent of employers misclassified some of their employees.
Some of the employers who misclassify their employees as contractors do so in error, which is perhaps not surprising, given the vagueness of the statutes defining employment and the complexity of the case law. However, in Senate testimony in 2010, Deputy Secretary of Labor Seth Harris charged that “much worker misclassification is intentional.” Employers do this, he continued, in order to reduce labor costs (by about 30 percent), in part by not making required contributions to unemployment insurance and worker compensation funds. By doing so, lawbreakers gain an unfair competitive advantage over honest employers. Harris concluded:
Misclassification as independent contractors also increases the opportunities for tax evasion, and some take advantage of those opportunities, with a resulting loss of Federal and state revenue. Too many workers are being deprived of overtime premiums and minimum wages, forced to pay taxes their employers are legally obligated to pay and are left with no recourse if they are injured or discriminated against in the workplace. Misclassification is no mere technical violation. It is a serious threat to workers and the fair application of the laws Congress has enacted to assure workers have good, safe jobs.
•Washington Post: Top Medicare billers revealed, shedding light on doctors’ revenue
The Medicare program is the source of a small fortune for many U.S. doctors, according to a trove of government records that gives the public access for the first time to the billing practices of individual doctors nationwide.
The government insurance program for older people paid nearly 4,000 physicians more than $1 million each for work done in 2012, according to the new data. Several received more than $10 million each. Those figures do not include what the doctors billed private insurance companies.
•Common Dreams: Immigrants Rights Activists To Press Obama
Immigrant rights activists are stepping up their campaign against the Obama administration following a New York Times report published Monday that revealed that the record number of people who have been deported since Obama took office have not been “criminals,” but mostly law-abiding immigrants. This reality, the article charges, is due to the White House’s desire to appear tough on immigration laws in an effort to appease Republican opponents.
As the New York Times highlights, contrary to the administration’s claims that its “Secure Communities” deportation program is focused on “criminals, gang bangers, people who are hurting the community,” a stunning two-thirds of the two million deportation cases since Obama took office have in reality involved people who were guilty of only “minor infractions, including traffic violations, or had no criminal record at all.”
The information, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, reveals that in an effort to get Republican lawmakers to play ball on immigration reform, the administration has tried to show it “can be trusted to enact wider immigration reform,” as the Guardian notes. This effort has failed in the sense that the GOP has only moved further to the right on immigration reform despite Obama’s advances, the New York Times reports.
“Interviews with current and former administration officials, as well as immigrant advocates, portray a president trying to keep his supporters in line even as he sought to show political opponents that he would be tough on people who had broken the law by entering the country illegally,” the New York Times reports.
“For years, the Obama administration’s spin has been that they are simply deporting so-called ‘criminal aliens,’ but the numbers speak for themselves,” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center. “In truth, this administration — more than any other — has devastated immigrant communities across the country, tearing families away from loved ones, simply because they drove without a license, or re-entered the country desperately trying to be reunited with their family members.”
“The irony is that this was [the] tactic that Obama and his administration used to show they were tough on immigration and enforcement but somewhere along the line they seem to have lost track of the very reason why they moved so aggressively,” Kica Matos, director of immigrant rights at the Center for Community Change, told the Guardian. “They focused only on enforcement and did not devote anywhere near the same amount of energy to advancing comprehensive immigration reform legislation as they did to, say, healthcare reform.”
“We assumed that a Democratic president who wanted to move immigration reform would not pursue a strategy of deporting the people who he was intent on legalizing,” said Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change. “That was a totally wrong assumption. And there is a lot of anger about that.”
“You can bet your bottom dollar that we are well on the way to escalating [our protest campaign],” Matos added. “Last year we included civil disobedience. The biggest difference this year is that our protests are targeted more and more at the Obama administration.”
And that change of pace could be seen visibly on Saturday, when immigration activists rallied in more than 40 U.S. cities across the country, including a rally in front of the White House, in a day of action calling for President Obama to put an end to deportations.
•Another day, another blog. If you feel this exercise has value, let me know. If you have suggestions, write: Dissector@mediachannel.org. Visit the updated Mediachannel.org.
•Mike Abramowitz of US Holocaust Museum
Erlier today, I was part of a Museum delegation that joined thousands of people gathered in Amahoro Stadium in Kigali, Rwanda, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1994 genocide in which as many as one million Rwandans, predominantly Tutsis, were killed.
It was profoundly moving to stand with the survivors of this genocide, one of the deadliest of the 20th century, and to add our voice of conscience to millions around the world committed to prevent tragedies such as this from happening again.
“GIN”: Hunters Still Searching for Perpetrators
Apr. 7 (GIN) – On the 20th anniversary of one of the worst massacres on the African continent – the Rwandan genocide – a Rwandese couple is still reliving the nightmare as they search for perpetrators in foreign countries complicit in crimes against humanity.
Last month, Dafroza Gauthier and her husband Alain gave testimony against former Rwandan intelligence chief Pascal Simbikangwa in Paris. He was infamous in Rwanda for his record of torture and ruthlessness. A distant relative of Gauthier recognized Simbikangwa but it was left to the Gautheir’s group to gather evidence and witness testimony in Rwanda.
On March 14, Simbikangwa was sentenced to 25 years in prison for complicity in the genocide. It was the first Rwandan genocide trial to take place in France.
In an interview with National Public Radio, Gauthier recalled the tragedy that took close to a million lives. Her own mother was assassinated during the genocide and the family lost about 40 people.
Gauthier, who with her husband heads the Collective of Civil Plaintiffs for Rwanda, estimated that 100 people now living in France are believed to be responsible for these types of crimes. Her organization has 25 cases now and is working on five more.
Paradoxically, the French have “dirty hands” in the war that began in the 1990s, according to investigative journalist Frank Smythe. Writing for The New York Times, Smythe reported that France “had invested heavily in francophone Africa and provided military and financial aid to a network of former colonies. Former President Francois Mitterand was a friend of Rwanda’s president, Juvenal Habyarimana, and helped the regime buy millions of dollars in weapons from Egypt. France also supplied a full arsenal of mortars, long-range artillery, plastic explosives and automatic rifles.”
This, according to Dafroza Gautheir, explains why France has never given asylum to former first lady Agathe Habyarimana – closely linked to Hutu power extremists who planned and orchestrated the genocide of the Tutsi minority in 1994, writes Philip Gourevitch in The New Yorker magazine.
“When the slaughter broke out in April of 1994, French soldiers whisked Agathe Habyarimana into exile, and she continues to live unbothered in France—although French courts have consistently denied her bid for political asylum, on account of her reputation as the Lady Macbeth of the Rwandan genocide.”
Since an acknowledgement by former President Nicolas Sarkozy of “mistakes made,” a new court has been set up in France with one judge dedicated to Rwandese “genocidaires”, and according to Ms. Gauthier, cases are moving more quickly.
Meanwhile, in Rwanda, authorities unexpectedly cancelled the accreditation of French Ambassador Michel Flesh, making it impossible for him to attend the genocide memorial events.
A diplomatic dust-up was triggered when President Paul Kagame, in a speech this week, charged French Catholic Missionaries, and Belgian officials with participating in the murder of 800,000 ethnic Tutsis. French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira pulled out of the week’s events as Rwandan Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo told France to face up to the “difficult truth” over its actions two decades ago. w/pix of Dafroza Gautheir
•The Hill: Senate votes to reinstate jobless benefits
The Senate approved a five-month extension of federal unemployment benefits on Monday in a 59-38 vote that saw six Republicans break ranks and vote in favor of the legislation.
The bill now goes to the House, where Senior House Republicans have felt little pressure to act on jobless benefits. Although they won’t say so directly, they are likely to ignore the Senate bill.
•The Hill: Healthcare cuts canceled after Dem complaints
The Obama administration announced Monday that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage would not go through as anticipated amid election-year opposition from congressional Democrats.
The cuts would have reduced benefits that seniors receive from health plans in the program, which is intended as an alternative to Medicare.
•Daily Beast: Uninsured Rate Lowest Since 2008
In a new poll from Gallup released Monday, the uninsured rate in the U.S., i.e. those without health insurance, is at its lowest since 2008, clocking in at 15.6 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2014. At the end of 2013, before the push to enroll in Obamacare got underway, the uninsured rate was 17.1 percent. The communities that saw the biggest change were blacks and low-income Americans. According to Gallup, the numbers are “a sign that the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as ‘Obamacare,’ appears to be accomplishing its goal.”
•Vietnam: 40 Years After The War
•Awards to Ed Snowden and Laura Poitras named after Ron Ridenhour who blew the whistle on the Mylai Massacre
Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras Awarded 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling
Today, The Ridenhour Prizes announced that Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras will be jointly awarded the 2014 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling for exposing the US government’s vast warrantless surveillance operation. The revelations sparked a debate on the constitutionality of mass surveillance, and how technology has transformed the parameters of individual privacy.
In reflecting upon its decision, the awards committee said, “We have selected Edward Snowden and Laura Poitras for their work in exposing the NSA’s illegal and unconstitutional bulk collection of the communications of millions of people living in the United States. Their act of courage was undertaken at great personal risk and has sparked a critical and transformative debate about mass surveillance in a country where privacy is considered a constitutional right. We particularly wanted to salute the role that Poitras has played in this story, as we feel that her contribution has not been adequately recognized by the American media.
“We want to take this opportunity to also salute Glenn Greenwald, Barton Gellman, Ewen MacAskill and the other journalists involved with this incredibly complex story on both sides of the Atlantic, who under tremendous governmental pressure have worked tirelessly to make the world aware of the true scope of the surveillance state.”
Snowden, who had worked first as a computer specialist for the CIA and then as a contractor for the NSA, had grown increasingly disillusioned by his first-hand experience of the government’s abuse of privacy. And he had watched as the traditional oversight bodies – the courts and the Congress – had abdicated their constitutional responsibility to rein in unlawful executive-branch conduct.
“Authority cannot be legitimate if it is not accountable,” said Snowden upon hearing that he had been awarded The Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling. “Public awareness of the NSA’s unconstitutional activities is leading to the first significant intelligence reforms in nearly four decades. These revelations remind us that there are moments in history when a free press is our last line of defense against unlawful government activities carried out in secret and in our name.
“It is a privilege to be welcomed into the ranks of the Ridenhour awardees, people who have inspired us through their fearless commitment to truth-telling. I’m especially grateful to be honored alongside Laura Poitras, whose brilliant work over the last year has changed what the public thinks about living under surveillance.
•Consortium News: Robert Parry, Was Turkey Behind Syrian Sarin Attack?
The significance of Hersh’s latest report is twofold: first, it shows how Official Washington’s hawks and neocons almost stampeded the United States into another Mideast war under false pretenses, and second, the story’s publication in the London Review of Books reveals how hostile the mainstream U.S. media remains toward information that doesn’t comport with its neocon-dominated conventional wisdom.
•Chris Hedges: The Crucible of Iraq
Morality is turned upside down. Killers prey on the weak, the vulnerable and the innocent in the name of God or the state or some twisted ethnic loyalty.
•The Saker: Sharp Rise in tensions in Eastern Ukraine
Why should Russia intervene. All it has to do is wait for the final collapse and then pick up whatever piece it will deem worthy of interest.
•Paul Craig Roberts: Obama Issues Threats To Russia And NATO
It is only a matter of time before it is universally recognized that the US is a failed state.
•TRNN: Israeli Extremist Liberman To Replace Netanyahu?
•Haaretz: Palestinians say over 1,500 children killed by Israel since 2000
Palestinian minister says more than 10,000 children have been arrested during the same period and 200 are still detained.
Over 1,500 Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces since 2000, the Palestinian Authority minister of social affairs Kamal al-Sharafi said on Saturday.
In a statement marking Palestinian Children’s Day, Sharafi said that 1,520 Palestinian children have been killed and approximately 6,000 injured by the Israeli military in the past 14 years, the Ma’an Palestinian news service reported.
More than 10,000 Palestinian children have been arrested, al-Sharafi added, and 200 are currently being held in Israeli prisons.
“Protecting and supporting children should be a national responsibility,” he said, calling upon the Palestinian Authority to ratify a law for the protection of minors.
The United Nations Children Fund said in a 2013 report that some 700 Palestinian children aged 12 to 17, most of them boys, are arrested, interrogated and detained by the Israeli military, police, and security agents every year in the occupied West Bank.
In the report, UNICEF said it identified examples of practices that “amount to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment according to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture.”
South African athlete Oscar Pistorius will testify for a second day at his murder trial, after an emotional first appearance in court on Monday.
•T/H: Steve Zuckerman: Meet Jim Hines: Check This Out
•RIP: Sam Smith: Chuck Stone
Sam Smith – Chuck Stone, who edited several newspapers, was a Tuskegee Airman, a professor, columnist and founding president of the National Association of Black Journalists, has passed at age 89. Stone’s columns also appeared regularly in the Progressive Review for many years.
Paul Brock described Stone this way:
“Chuck Stone was a journalistic legend. He had edited three influential black newspapers — the New York Age, the Washington Afro-American and the Chicago Defender. He had written two nonfiction books, ‘Tell It Like It Is’ and ‘Black Political Power in America,’ and a novel, ‘King Strut.’ He had been Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell’s chief administrative assistant and speechwriter…
“As the now-defunct Washington Star put it in 1969, Stone was a ‘tough-minded militant’ who ‘probably poured forth more angry rhetoric, ruffled more political moderates and simultaneously pacified and frightened more whites than most of (Washington’s) other black leaders.’ He mellowed not one bit after becoming an outspoken columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News in 1971.
“Enough of a firebrand to have worked with Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, yet with unassailable journalistic credentials, the sharp- tongued but affable Stone was superbly suited to be the first leader of an organization seeking to not only change the way the media would tell black America’s story, but who was going to tell it. . .
•The Atlantic: Greed Is Good–a 300 History of A Dangerous Idea
•I just came back from having n inspiring dinner with Denis Goldberg, Accused #3 in South Africa’s famous Rivonia trial. He was convicted and jailed along with Nelson Mandela. Will have more on this encounter soon. Send your suggests for articles or essays for me to include or link to in this blog to email@example.com. Visit Mediachannel.org
•Two Views on the Iran Talks: Michael Brenner, Undercutting The Iran Nuclear Talks
The Obama administration is toughening its stance on the terms of a prospective nuclear accord with Iran. As the talks move into a critical phase that will make or break this historic engagement, reports are circulating that Washington is raising its demands and stiffening its resistance to further compromise, e.g. Robert Einhorn’s much publicized policy study for Brookings.* This turn bodes ill for what rightly has been hailed as the most promising opportunity to end the confrontation over Iranian nuclear activities, and perhaps to clear the way for a modus vivendi between the two antagonists.
The reports indicate that the prevailing line of thinking within the White House is that the United States must achieve what amounts to a hermetically sealed containment vessel around all Iranian facilities that could play any role, now or in the foreseeable future, in a weapons program. That includes all projects dealing with systems that conceivably could carry a nuclear arm even if designed for conventional explosives. In thereby tightening the screws, Obama may well be sounding the death knell for these negotiations.
The principal inference is that the American side’s ratcheting up, and rigidifying the terms of what it defines as an acceptable accord, reflects a readiness to risk seeing the talks collapse. The American demands include, inter alia: strict international controls on Iranian missile programs; a drastic scaling back of nearly all activities at all nuclear facilities; unprecedentedly tight monitoring of those nuclear activities; automatic penalties – including possible military action – decreed in advance by the UNSC and the Congress were a conjectured accord’s stipulations to be violated. Such violation would be determined by the UNSC in one instance; the United States government unilaterally in the other. In addition, there is heavy pressure to insist that the Iranian government make a public admission of an alleged past effort to develop a nuclear arms – something which Iran had denied and for which there is no credible evidence.
Let’s be blunt. No accord that includes these elements will ever be signed by the IRI. Iranians in general, as well as its leaders, would interpret acceptance of these terms as a national humiliation – committing themselves to a set of concessions that compromise the country’s sovereignty and dignity. They will not permit themselves to be placed in the dock and then be placed on indefinite probation as a ward of the United Nations cum United States. No such concessions have ever been imposed on a country outside of its total defeat in war.
•Thoughts on the talks by William Beeman, an Iran expert
Actually, they’ve been progressing rather well. The Iranians and the P5+1 nations have been sitting down; they have been discussing matters very reasonably and rationally. I should say that part of the reason is that there are some very good negotiators in Vienna working on this.
The Iranians are very lucky after the recent presidential elections to have gotten Dr. Javad Zarif to be their negotiator. He’s the minister of foreign affairs in Iran. Dr. Zarif has a Ph.D. in international relations from the University of California, San Diego, (Editor’s note: according to sources we have seen, he got an MA from San Francisco University & a Ph.D. from the University of Denver) and was the former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations. So he’s a very practiced, very skilled, and extremely intelligent gentleman.
Catherine Ashton has been taking the lead for the P5+1. She is also an extremely accomplished and very wise, I think, negotiator.
The personal interactions between these individuals have been very good.
That said, there are always sticking points that really do need to be negotiated. One of the things that does not help is the fact that we have parties on the sidelines who are not party to these negotiations—may I be blunt and say the government of Israel and the pro-Israeli lobbyists in the United States?—who are trying very hard to affect these negotiations without actually being part of them, and having, actually, no legitimate right to really weigh in on these. They are trying to affect the negotiations indirectly by lobbying the parties who are party to the negotiations.
•Tom Engelhart on the NSA
Here’s what the president said back in June 2013, while reassuring the American people about the National Security Agency’s collection of their phone metadata: “When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls. That’s not what this program’s about. As was indicated, what the intelligence community is doing is looking at phone numbers and durations of calls. They are not looking at people’s names, and they’re not looking at content.”
And indeed, the NSA was analyzing the metadata it was collecting from all of us. Only one small problem (shades of the Bush era): it was also listening in and reading, too. To be exact, without warrants and using a “backdoor loophole” in the law, the agency repeatedly plunged into massive databases that, while gathering emails and phone calls from “foreign targets,” swept up prodigious numbers of American ones in the process. (Evidently, the CIA and the FBI were using similar backdoors to similar ends.) It’s true that, strictly speaking, those calls and emails were being collected by a different program than the one the president was referring to; so, if you’re a stickler for details, he didn’t exactly, officially lie. In any case, it’s nothing you or I should really worry our little heads about, not when it turns out that whatever was done was perfectly “legal.”
We know this thanks to a legal expert of the first order, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who communicated as much to Senator Ron Wyden by letter recently. Who, after all, should know better than Clapper, the man in charge of overseeing a secret world that has its own “parallel supreme court” renowned for only listening to one side of any case? Here’s his statement on the subject of those warrantless searches of our phone conversations and emails: “There have been queries, using U.S. person identifiers, of communications lawfully acquired to obtain foreign intelligence targeting non-U.S. persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. These queries were performed pursuant to minimization procedures approved by the FISA court and consistent with the statute and the Fourth Amendment.”
If you don’t understand that, consider yourself English-challenged. In fact, you should just stop fretting about government surveillance entirely and, while you’re at it, cut back on the overblown paranoia, too. Americans, it’s time to go back to full-scale online shopping and banking, and to stop telling pollsters you’re doing less of it because of the NSA!
Really, there’s no point in making such a fuss about perfectly legal operations. Isn’t it simpler just to stop paying attention to what the president, his top officials, and the guardians of our secret world tell us about what they’re doing? After all, in the end, by hook, crook, or secret “law,” they will find a convenient justification for doing just what they want to do anyway.
•NYT: U.S. Tries Candor to Assure China on Cyberattacks
WASHINGTON — In the months before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s arrival in Beijing on Monday, the Obama administration quietly held an extraordinary briefing for the Chinese military leadership on a subject officials have rarely discussed in public: the Pentagon’s emerging doctrine for defending against cyberattacks against the United States — and for using its cybertechnology against adversaries, including the Chinese.
The idea was to allay Chinese concerns about plans to more than triple the number of American cyberwarriors to 6,000 by the end of 2016, a force that will include new teams the Pentagon plans to deploy to each military combatant command around the world. But the hope was to prompt the Chinese to give Washington a similar briefing about the many People’s Liberation Army units that are believed to be behind the escalating attacks on American corporations and government networks.’
Huawei’s offices in Shenzhen, China.N.S.A. Breached Chinese Servers Seen as Security ThreatMARCH 22, 2014
So far, the Chinese have not reciprocated — a point Mr. Hagel plans to make in a speech at the P.L.A.’s National Defense University on Tuesday.
The effort, senior Pentagon officials say, is to head off what Mr. Hagel and his advisers fear is the growing possibility of a fast-escalating series of cyberattacks and counterattacks between the United States and China. This is a concern especially at a time of mounting tensions over China’s expanding claims of control over what it argues are exclusive territories in the East and South China Seas, and over a new air defense zone. In interviews, American officials say their latest initiatives were inspired by Cold-War-era exchanges held with the Soviets so that each side understood the “red lines” for employing nuclear weapons against each other.
•Analysis of Foreign Policy Issues on ICH
•Seymour M. Hersh; New Yorker: On Obama, Erdogan and the Syrian rebels.
•Pepe Escobar, Asia Times: The US-Russia Ukrainian Deal
The Kremlin knows time is on its side – so it would be totally counterproductive to even contemplate “invading” eastern Ukraine.
•Russian Speakers Demonstrate In Eastern Ukraine
•Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun: Afghan Elections for Another Fake Regime
After 12 years of using everything in its arsenal short of nuclear weapons, the mighty US military has failed to defeat lightly-armed Taliban forces.
•Peter Foster, Telegraph: War Criminal
Tony Blair ‘Knew All About CIA Secret Kidnap Programme’
Tony Blair knew in detail about the CIA’s secret kidnap and interrogation programme after the September 11 attacks and was kept informed “every step of the way” by MI6, a security source has told The Telegraph
•News360: Netanyahu: Israel will answer Palestinian unilateralism
The discovery of bugs in software used to run oil rigs, refineries and power plants has prompted a global push to patch the widely used control system.
•China Daily: Hi-tech gadgets sweep festival’s traditional offerings
•The Hill: Will flash trades lead to a financial transaction tax?
Renowned author Michael Lewis’s charge that the stock market is rigged against regular investors is making waves in Washington.
Liberal lawmakers in particular believe that Lewis is bringing critical attention to an issue that could boost their efforts to assign a tax on all financial transactions.
•Daily Star, Beirut: Mandela’s Assistant To Publish Book Of Her Experiences
NEW YORK: Nelson Mandela’s long-time private assistant, Zelda la Grange, has written a memoir about her life and working for the anti-apartheid hero and former South African president, publisher Viking said on Thursday.
It has acquired the North American rights for “Good Morning, Mr. Mandela,” which will be published worldwide on June 19.
“It’s tender, intimate, eye-opening, incredibly moving, and offers a rare portrait of Nelson Mandela and his remarkable life,” Viking President Clare Ferraro said in a statement.
The life and beliefs of la Grange, a white South African who grew up supporting the segregation rules of the country, were transformed after she started working for Mandela in 1994.
Although she began as a typist, la Grange, 43, went on to become his trusted assistant and worked for Mandela until his death in December at the age of 95.
She accompanied Mandela on trips abroad and was with him when he met world leaders and celebrities. She will donate a portion of the royalties from the book to the Nelson Mandela Foundation to further his legacy.
Mandela’s autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” was published in 1994. The book was adapted into the 2013 film of the same name starring British actor Idris Elba as Mandela.
•Thanks for tuning in to the daily News Dissector blog written by Danny Schechter. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Mediachannel.org