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Occupy Confronts Corporations Today, Romney WIns Michigan, Arizona; Assange At Risk

February 29th, 2012 - by:

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READER’S NOTE: Forgive us: Not sure why,  but these boxes started appearing on this WordPress blog. Not sure if it is more sabotage or something I am not doing right. Will try to find out and fix. If you can help, write me at dissector@mediachannel.org

HAPPY LEAP YEAR

Listen: Debating Iran on Paltalk.com

Primary Win Headlines of The Day: “Romney Regains Stride” New York Times; “Romney Regains Momentum” (Wall Street Journal)

The Hill: Romney Wins Michigan

Mitt Romney re-established himself as the Republican front-runner Tuesday night with his win in Michigan’s pivotal primary, fending off what would have been a crushing defeat by rival Rick Santorum.

Boston Globe: WASHINGTON – Mitt Romney completed another crucial defense in an important state last night. Once again, a combination of heavy spending, negative campaigning, and establishment backing staved off what could have been a crisis in his campaign.
But the narrow nature of the win in Michigan, where he was born and won handily in 2008, demonstrates continued weakness in his candidacy. And now he heads into a phase of the campaign where it will be difficult to land any knockout blows and clinch the nomination: Super Tuesday

NYT  asks: After 5 caucuses, 6 primaries, 20 debates and $30 million in television commercials, Mitt Romney leaves here facing the same stubborn question: Can a onetime Northeastern governor with a history of ideological migration win the Republican presidential nomination in the era of the Tea Party, with all its demands of political purity and passion?

Read: Latest Dissector Essay on Al Jazeera: Media manipulation: Why some ideas are more visible than others

New York, NY – Towards the end of 2008, I was walking briskly to Wall Street with a crew to begin filming my documentary, Plunder: The Crime of Our Time, about financial crime. A sudden call of nature forced me to divert into a nearby Borders bookstore with facilities.As I was leaving, I ran into none other than former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan, who had just finished a book-signing event, and was also on the way out.My crew watched in amazement as I exited, almost hand-in-hand, in the company of one of the most powerful men in finance, the nation’s “biggest” big-shot economist, then known as “The Maestro”, who was surrounded by a coterie of book flacks and security men.

Unfortunately, our camera was not on to capture my spontaneous back and forth with the author of the pompous tome The Age of Turbulence, which was all over the media at the time, with fawning interviews paying homage to the “genius” who ran the Fed from 1987 until 2006.

He was a right-wing political celebrity, known for mumbling, obfuscation and refusing to stop massive subprime mortgage abuses, even when warned to do so by a Fed governor.

To memorialize this unlikely occasion, I asked the “Chairman” to sign a dollar bill for me, a practice he had become known for, whatever its legality in a country with laws against defacing money.He happily accommodated, but it was actually a Federal Reserve note that he autographed, a currency that is backed by nothing – issued by a reserve bank that is actually a private corporation controlled not by the government, but by the banking industry.

He soon had people in the street applauding his presence. I often thought of that moment when I was back on Wall Street years later covering the Occupy movement. The Borders chain bookstore we both visited had been shuttered because of all the unsustainable debt Wall Street firms shoveled into that company.

Greenspan’s star – kept highly visible for years by the company he kept, including wife Andrea Mitchell, an NBC TV correspondent; and former girlfriend, ABC News star Barbara Walters – fell after the financial meltdown. In 2006, one of his acolytes, Tim Geithner of the New York Federal Reserve (and now Obama’s Treasury Secretary) told him, “I’d like the record to show that I think you’re pretty terrific, too”.Ugh!

Read the Rest on AlJazeera.com

Don’t Suppress OWS

I was at Union Square today for a rally organized to support Occupy Wall Street. It wasn’t as well attended as I expected, perhaps because it was not being organized by Occupy. I had been invited to speak about the police abuse of journalists, but with Peter Yarrow and daughter Bethany singing, Outernational playing, and Susan Sarandon speaking, I was dropped from the speaker’s list. I guess celebs rule even at a Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP)  event. Wonder what Bob Avakian would have thunk. Smile.

 F**CKED: The United States of Unemployment—a series by Immy Humes for Salon

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Washington Post: Is Occupy Hurting Banks?

Release: Occupy Wall Street with Occupy Groups in 70 Cities Nationwide Stand up to Corporate Greed and ALEC National Day of Action to Resist the Selling Out of the 99%

 On February 29th, concerned citizens, students, and occupiers in over seventy cities across the nation,including Occupy Wall Street (NYC), are standing up to the corporations andlegislators involved in American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). The biggest corporations in America, including ExxonMobil, Bank of America, BP,Monsanto, Pfizer, and Wal-Mart use ALEC to buy off legislators and craft legislation that puts corporate profit over the well-being of ordinary people. Responding to a national call from Occupy Portland, this will be the OccupyMovement’s largest coordinated action this year and will confront ALEC corporations in the cities in which they do business throughout the nation.

“ALEC, a registered nonprofit with a board of trustees that reads like a Fortune 500 list, allows 1%ers to push legislation representing corporate interests,” said Dana Balicki of Occupy Wall Street.  “This is legislation laundering.”

ALEC is comprised of state and federal government legislators and many of America’s biggest corporations. In ALEC task-forces and committees, lobbyists work directly with legislators to draft and advance cookie-cutter “model” bills that serve the interests of the corporations rather than people.

ALEC is responsible for some of the most anti-democratic, repressive, and discriminatory legislation to pass through the halls of government. Wisconsin Act 10, attacking public employee unions, mirrors ALEC’s anti-union agenda and was introduced by Governor Scott Walker, an ALEC member from 1993-2002. Arizona’s widely criticized Racial Profiling bill (SB1070) also has roots in ALEC model legislation.

“The public is never informed that a group representing the most privileged people in America are drafting the legislation that disempowers the most vulnerable. The decisions affecting our communities should be made democratically, not through a corrupt system that hides the influence of the very corporations that benefit at our expense. ALEC is representative of a failed system in which profit and greed are dominant over everything else,” said David Osborn of Occupy Portland.

Actions in several of the cities responding to Occupy Portland’s call to Shut Down ALEC Corporations are listed below. For a full list visit http://bit.ly/alecactions.
Money for Occupy

This is about the meeting I reported from on Sunday night.. Here are more details but none of the debate that ensued. One of the organizers told me that Ben & Jerry suspected that provocateurs in the room were trying to block their support.

The Gothamist: New Cash Infusion For Occupy

Occupy Wall Street begins two days of major demonstrations today as a group of wealthy backers announces their plan to pump $1.8 million into the movement. The Movement Resource Group, comprised of the two founders of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Nirvana’s former manager Danny Goldberg, among others, is a not-for-profit 501c3 that has raised $300,000 and aims to distribute it to the protesters in a series of grants. “Many of us have been working for progressive social change,” Ben Cohen told the Wall Street Journal. “There’s been a critical ingredient missing.”

Representatives from the group met with Occupy Wall Street members on Sunday, and announced the plan to approve national grants of up to $25,000 with the approval of MRG and five OWS members. $150,000 will pay for a national office in New York, another $100,000 will pay for individual, targeted projects, and a smaller, undisclosed sum will be set aside for stipends for “core activists.”

Today, Wednesday,, more than 70 cities will participate in efforts to “Shut Down Corporations.” (If you have an issue with OWS attempting to shut down some corporations while taking money from others, get in line.)

Here in New York, demonstrations will begin at the Koch Industries building and the Pulitzer Fountain at 9 a.m., a march from Tudor City to Bryant Park at 10 a.m., and a Bank of America Teach-In with Rolling Stone reporter and “vampire squid”-coiner Matt Taibbi at 11 a.m. in Bryant Park. At noon, there will be an attempt to “shut down Bank of America branches, ending at B of A tower,” which is right across the street from the park. More details are here and here.

#F29 specifically targets the American Legislative Exchange Council, a 501c3 group that counts legislators and corporations as members so they can draft legislation together that affirms “liberty.” Sounds innocuous! Here’s a video about ALEC that will answer all your questions.

 

 

EJC: Interpol website suffers ‘Anonymous cyber-attack’

Interpol’s website appears to have been the victim of a cyber-attack after the international police agency announced the arrests of 25 suspected members of the hacking activist group Anonymous in Europe and South America. The website went down briefly on Tuesday as supporters of Anonymous made online claims that it had been targeted following the arrests in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain. It was quickly back up and running but was loading slowly.

Interpol announced that the arrests had been made under the umbrella of Operation Unmask, which it said was launched in mid-February in the wake of a series of coordinated cyber-attacks originating from the four countries against targets including the Colombian defence ministry and presidential websites, a Chilean electricity company and Chile’s national library. It added that the operation was carried out by authorities in the four countries under the aegis of Interpol’s Latin American Working Group of Experts on Information Technology (IT) Crime, which facilitates the sharing of intelligence between the states involved. Around 250 items of IT equipment and mobile phones were also seized during searches of 40 premises across 15 cities, Interpol said. Payment cards and cash had also been seized as part of the investigation into the funding of illegal activities carried out by the suspected hackers, aged 17 to 40. (The Guardian)

Undernews: Report: Water bills to soar

Washington Examiner – A shocking new report about the nation’s crumbling drinking water system says that Americans should expect their bills to double or triple to cover repairs just to keep their faucets pouring. That means adding up to $900 a year more for water, nearly equal the amount of the newly extended payroll tax cut.

Fixing and expanding underground drinking water systems will cost over $1 trillion in the next 25 years and users will get socked with the bill, according to the American Water Works Association.

As with most infrastructure investments, spending heavily now means less costs down the road. But with little appetite in the country for even trickling taxes now, a delayed and more expensive fix is almost guaranteed. The association figures that spending to fix leaky water systems will double from roughly $13 billion a year today to $30 billion annually by 2040.

News from The Hill: Obama slams Romney, Santorum at political pep rally with auto workers By Amie Parnes

Speaking to the United Auto Workers conference on Tuesday, Obama used the success of the auto industry—and a ballroom full of rowdy supporters—to take a veiled jab at Mitt Romney for his opposition to the auto bailout.

“I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these politicians completely try to rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet,” Obama said, as the crowd cheered. “The same folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, ‘You can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.’

“Now they’re saying we were right all along,” Obama continued. “Or you’ve got folks saying ‘Well the real problem is, what we really disagreed with was the workers, they all made out like bandits, that saving the auto industry was just about paying back unions. Really? Even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you know what.”

National Journal: Snowe To Step Down

The species known as the moderate Republican seemed to move one step closer to extinction today when Sen. Olympia Snowe announced that she will not run for reelection this year.

US News: Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan Wars Tops $900 Billion, Report Finds… 

Open Secrets.org: Environmental Groups Fund Vets Group. Why?

 An organization begun six years ago by Iraq war veterans received nearly $4 million from environmental groups in 2010, a year during which it spent $3.2 million running ads that targeted congressional candidates and urged passage of a climate bill.

The Sierra Club gave $670,000 to the liberal VoteVets Action Fund, and the NRDC Action Fund donated $500,000. The largest total came from the Alliance for Climate Protection, the group founded by former Vice President Al Gore: $3.78 million, research by OpenSecrets Blog has found.

VoteVets Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization under tax law and has never disclosed its donors to the public; it is not required to do so. OpenSecrets Blogwas able to learn the identities of some of them through filings by the donor groups with the Internal Revenue Service.

The lack of disclosure by the 501(c)(4) groups makes them much more opaque than super PACs, though both are allowed to accept unlimited sums of money from practically any source. Super PACs, however, must identify their donors.

Until 2010, the organization had not been involved in environmental causes and instead focused on opposing the troop surge in Iraq under President George W. Bush, supporting a new G.I. bill to fund education for military veterans and similar issues.

The Alliance for Climate Protection gave money to VoteVets in three separate grants, the dates of which are not listed on the IRS forms. The reason for the contributions is, however: “To support the purchase of airtime for an educational television advertisement about the national security benefits and benefits to American soldiers of clean energy,” reads one description. The other two are also for airtime purchases, but the ads are explained as being “about the beneICH: Blown Away: How the US Fanned the Flames in AfghanistanBy Tom Engelhardt and Nick TurseIs it all over but the (anti-American) shouting — and the killing? Are the exits finally coming into view“Friends of Syria” Plan War, Regime Change at Washington’s BehestBy Chris MarsdenThis well-rehearsed scenario threatens to end in a conflict far bloodier than Libya and trigger a wider regional or even global war.  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30665.htmWho profits from Qatari-Western “Export of Revolutions”By Babich DmitryThe Rubicon has been crossed and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf have opted for “no limits” strategy in their drive to oust the remaining secular Arab regimes in the Middle East.  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30670.htmTyler Durden, ICH: Iran Moves Further To End PetrodollarIran, with the complicity of major trading partners like China, India and Russia is preparing to phase out the petrodollar.  http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30661.htm

US Has Secret Charges Against Assange: Hacked Emails

By Philip Dorling

UNITED States prosecutors have drawn up secret charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a confidential internal email obtained from a private US intelligence company, Stratfor.

 

GOP Primaries

Romney Sweeps Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. — Mitt Romney cruised to victory in Arizona’s Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, easily defeating Rick Santorum, his nearest rival.
There was little surprise when The Associated Press and news networks called the race for Romney as soon as polls closed. Polls in Arizona in the days leading up to the primary showed the former Massachusetts governor with a lead of about 15 points over Santorum.’

Haaretz via Tikkun: Israel to Pressure Obama
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to publicly harden his line against Iran during a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington on March 5, according to a senior Israeli official.
Israel wants Obama to make further-reaching declarations than the vague assertion that “all options are on the table,” the official said. In particular, Netanyahu wants Obama to state unequivocally that the United States is preparing for a military operation in the event that Iran crosses certain “red lines,” said the official; Israel feels this will increase pressure on Iran by making clear that there exists a real U.S. threat.

EJC: Israel raids private Palestinian television station

Israeli soldiers raided a Palestinian television station in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday and seized broadcast equipment, computers and files, an employee said. Ahmed Milhem said soldiers gave no reason for the raid on privately-owned Watan TV in Ramallah, which began at 0200 a.m. (1200 GMT) and lasted for three hours. “They seized computers, broadcast equipment and administrative files,” Milhem told Reuters by telephone. “The station is now off the air,” he added. An Israeli military spokeswoman said she had no initial information but was checking for details. The television station is owned by local non-governmental organizations and broadcasts local news and cultural and political programs over the Internet. (Reuters)

NYT: American officials who have assessed the likely Iranian responses to any attack by Israel on its nuclear program believe that Iran would retaliate by launching missiles on Israel and terrorist-style attacks on United States civilian and military personnel overseas.

Fluent News:  ‘Panetta: ‘Nutty formula’ to cut defense spending is too devastating to even plan

Fluent News: ‘French genocide law: President Sarkozy orders new draft’

Fluent: ‘Biggest Medicare Fraud in History Busted, Say Feds’

Recovery anyone?  ‘Durable goods orders drop by most in 3 years’ on Fluent News

Shelly Palmer: IPAD 3 Coming

Next week we can put the iPad 3 rumors to rest. Apple sent out its press invite for a March 7th event that will almost certainly show off the long-awaited device.

Khadija Sharif comments on one of the Stratfor Emais Released By Wikileaks on the use of sex in intelligence collection

Your comments on the blog welcome. Write dissector@medichannel.org

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Today Michigan, Tomorrow…? The ‘Say One Thing, Do Another’ Syndrome Alive And Well in DC, Economy NOT Recovering

February 28th, 2012 - by:

Today Michigan, Tomorrow…? The ‘Say One Thing, Do Another’ Syndrome Alive And Well in DC, Economy NOT Recovering Posted in the Category: Uncategorized

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 Today is the Michigan Primary

The Boston Globe: ROCKFORD, Mich. – Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney yesterday accused each other of being unfit for the Republican presidential nomination in the finale to a primary vote today that could reshape the contest once again.
Santorum called Romney “uniquely unqualified’’ to be the nominee, saying his rival’s Massachusetts health care plan would hinder Republicans from criticizing President Obama’s similar federal plan. He also again described Romney’s claim of conservatism as laughable. “Michigan, you have the opportunity to stop the joke,’’ Santorum said.

Romney, for his part, called Santorum “a nice guy but he’s never had a job in the private sector. . . . I think to create jobs it helps to have a guy as president who’s had a job.

Globe: Romney Predicts Victory As Sentorum Appeals to Dems

…the Santorum campaign used automated telephone calls to encourage Michigan Democrats to vote against the former Massachusetts governor.

Only declared Republicans may vote in Tuesday’s GOP primary, but party rules allow voters to change their affiliation temporarily on the spot.

Santorum’s “robocall” says Democrats should send “a loud message” to Romney by voting for Santorum.

Fluent:  Romney and Santorum Give Obama a Boost in Michigan

HP: Supreme Court and “Corporate Personhood”

As Bad As I Thought

Last week in an essay I wrote about imagining a memo from The “Department of Pre-War Planning and Threat Exaggeration,” I tried to put myself in the head of  one of those options heads who advises the president and wrote:

“As you requested, here is the scenario for how we can launch a war on Iran while publicly denying we are doing so.”

And then yesterday, I realized how clairvoyant I was when I read a front page story in the NY Times  about  President Obama criticized the GOP’s deficit proposals while actually adopting them.

That headline said: “Adapting a Panel’s Ideas, While Seeming Not To.”

Duh!

I may have been more right than I wanted to be. Read this IPS report.

When’ to Attack Iran, Not ‘If’. Analysis by Pierre Klochendler

JERUSALEM, Feb 27 2012 (IPS) – “The quiet before the storm” is how Israeli pundits describe the countdown – not to Israel going solo on Iran’s nuclear and military installations, but to the meeting between due Monday next week between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuFollowing last week’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem by top U.S. envoys, it’s the turn of Israeli leaders to come to Washington. The Prime Minister is expected at the White house on Mar. 5, two days after Israeli President Shimon Peres.Repeated U.S. warnings prior the presidential meetings couldn’t be more blunt. “It’s not prudent at this point to decide to attack Iran,” chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey told CNN.”The U.S. government is confident that the Israelis understand our concerns,” added Gen. Dempsey. For Israeli decision-makers, not U.S. “concerns”, but confidence is their main concern.They appreciate the U.S.-led international effort to contain Iran’s nuclear effort – privately, they’re even prepared to say the sanctions go beyond their initial expectations. Then, why stubbornly keeping the timing of a would-be pre-emptive attack on Iran shrouded in ambiguity, if not for tactical purposes.

Is the economy “recovering.”  The White House implies it is. Martin Andelman says: “NO WAY”

The way things stand today, housing won’t “bottom” this year, it won’t bottom next year, and it won’t bottom the year after that, and should you come across someone who has money and disagrees vehemently, please give them my email so I can make some extra cash on the side.

How do I know this?  Well, I’ve been right since 2007 and that would be pretty remarkable if there was anything else that could possibly have happened… but there couldn’t have been, so the more interesting question is how can all these people running our show be so consistently wrong?  That’s the question, and I’ve asked it before… are they stupid or lying?

Housing can’t bottom because there’s essentially no demand for housing, okay… very little demand for housing… and you don’t need a calculator to figure this one out.

Gary Younge, Guardian: Occupy Fights Foreclosures

The Itinerant US Left Has Found Its Home In The Occupy Movement Far from alienating middle America, the progressive
movement has captured the public and political imagination

WP: Police Dismantle Occupy Site In London

Protests Planned Against Police Abuse of Occupy Movement. RCP led Rally Today in Union Square, NY and other Cities

Occupy Arts Group Calls for End of Whitney Biennial

Bankster News

Common Dreams:  The Debt Threat

Looting: Another Company, Another Country, Another Theft

Ml-Implode.com: The suspension of AIJ Investment Advisors Co.’s operations amid concerns hedge funds it manages had lost pension money may undermine plans by Japan’s retirement funds to boost returns to meet demand in an aging society.

The Financial Services Agency on Feb. 24 ordered the Tokyo- based firm with 183.2 billion yen ($2.3 billion) of client money to stop business for a month as the regulator investigates “possible losses” at AIJ’s hedge funds. The FSA also will undertake a nationwide probe of 263 asset managers.

Fluent: ‘S&P declares Greek “selective default” after bailout’ 

Murdochians Accused of Bribes and Corruption in the UK

NYT:  LONDON — The officer leading a police investigation into Rupert Murdoch’s British newspapers said on Monday that reporters and editors at The Sun tabloid had over the years paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for information not only to police officers but also to a “network of corrupted officials” in the military and the government.

The officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, said that e-mail records obtained by the police showed that there was a “culture at The Sun of illegal payments” that were authorized “at a very senior level within the newspaper” and involved “frequent and sometimes significant sums of money” paid to public officials in the Health Ministry and the prison service, among other agencies.

The Independent: “Dramatic new evidence to the Leveson inquiry this week is expected to unleash a “bloodbath” of bitter recriminations between police and prosecution officials arguing over failings in a series of investigations into allegations of phone hacking, computer hacking and bribery by journalists. News International (NI) insiders say that the launch of The Sun on Sunday, only nine days after Rupert Murdoch’s announcement it was to go ahead, was brought forward because to launch a new paper in the wake of fresh revelations would be virtually impossible. The Leveson inquiry will this week begin to examine police-press relations, hearing evidence from the former deputy prime minister John Prescott, former deputy assistant Met commissioner Brian Paddick, former assistant commissioner John Yates, Andy Hayman – who led the original inquiry – former Metropolitan Police commissioners Sir Ian Blair and Sir Paul Stephenson and others. Revelations will include allegations that a web existed of corrupt public officials who received money from national newspapers, along with details of journalists who, over a period, have paid officials – in one case well into six figures – for stories. “It is jaw-dropping stuff,” said one legal source familiar with the evidence. “We will see the most sensational developments yet.” A second source claimed the allegations and counter allegations would result in a “bloodbath”. Opponents of the Murdoch organisation have said that if evidence emerged of phone hacking in the US, the damage to News Corps would dwarf the UK-based damage

The Guardian: Iranian Film Wins Oscar

Millions of Iranians stayed up all night to watch the film’s director, Asghar Farhadi, going up on the stage and delight his countrymen at a time when their lives are clouded with fear of war with Israel and crippling economic sanctions.

“At this time, many Iranians all over the world are watching us and I imagine them to be very happy,” said Farhadi, while accepting the Oscar. “At the time when talk of war, intimidation, and aggression is exchanged between politicians, the name of their country, Iran, is spoken here through her glorious culture, a rich and ancient culture that has been hidden under the heavy dust of politics.”

He added: “”I proudly offer this award to the people of my country, the people who respect all cultures and civilizations and despise hostility and resentment.”

With his acceptance speeches at various international awards, including a Golden Globe in January, Farhadi has become an ambassador for peace from Iran, making Tehran’s regime – famous for its bellicose statements – infuriated with the film’s success in countries hostile towards the Islamic republic.

…A Separation was originally produced with permission from the Iranian government. But in the face of its success, the regime has not publicly denounced the film but many of its supporters have publicly spoken against it. In a programme broadcast in the state-run television, Masoud Ferasati, an Iranian writer whose views are close to those of the Islamic regime, said: “The image of our society that A Separation depicts is the dirty picture Westerners are wishing for.”

He added: “On one hand, they [the US] impose sanctions against us and on the other, they give award to our film, to send us a positive signal, I think this [the film's success] is an illusion. This is not a good film.” Ferasati’s remarks have been echoed by many other regime supporters.”

May I weigh in: It is a good film. Go See It for Yourself.

Ray McGovern: CNN Silences Anti-War Soldier

Yahoo: Journalists Escape Bombardment in Syria, 20 Die

AMMAN (Reuters) – Syrian forces shelled an opposition stronghold in Hama province, killing 20 people, on Tuesday and hit rebel-held parts of Homs, activists said, as two wounded foreign journalists trapped in the city were reported to have been smuggled safely to Lebanon.

Institute of Public Accuracy: Saudi Attacks Syrian Regime, While Repressing Its Eastern Provence

Toby Jones is an assistant professor of history at Rutgers University and author of the book “Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia.” He said today: “Saudi Arabia is an unlikely champion of humanitarian causes. Indeed, the kingdom’s support of the armed opposition in Syria and its calls for military action against the Assad regime have little to do with principle or support for a democratic transition there. Instead, Riyadh seeks to alter the regional balance of power away from Iran, Assad’s most important patron, and in its favor. Syrian lives are pawns in this regional game. Just as important, Saudi leaders are also using the crisis in Syria to direct both foreign and domestic attention away from its own internal problems, most notably ongoing protests in its oil rich Eastern Province and the government’s brutal handling of them.”

Jess Hill, Middle East correspondent for the Global Mail, Hill just wrote the piece “The Growing Rebellion in Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia’s King has been unusually outspoken against Syria’s regime. But what about the rebellion in his own Kingdom? And what kind of ruler will his heir apparent be?” The piece states: “On Saudi Arabia’s much-anticipated ‘Day of Rage’ last year, government minders drove a BBC crew into the center of the capital, Riyadh, to film the ‘no-show’. Police had locked down the capital, and they were confident nobody would show up.

“Imagine their shock, then, when Khaled al-Johani, a teacher and father of five, walked straight up to the BBC crew, and said: ‘The royal family don’t own us! We have a right to speak.’ As government minders closed in on the group, he grew more emphatic: ‘If you speak, they will put you in jail after five minutes!’ When the BBC reporter asked him what would happen to him, he replied, ‘I will go in the jail with a big smile — because I am already in a jail!’ (Al-Johani was arrested that day, and has been in prison since March. He stood trial in a closed court on February 22; the verdict has not been made public.)

“Al-Johani was outspoken, but he was just one man. The world’s investment community breathed a sigh of relief. Why were we so worried about this ‘day of rage’? Saudis don’t protest. Most of them are too comfortable, and internal security is too effective. The Arab Spring won’t come to Saudi Arabia.

Fluent:  ’Janet Napolitano insists Mexico drug war not a failure’ 

Dead in Ohio

LBN Gunman In Custody in Ohio School Shooting: A Monday morning turned tragic at a high school in Chardon, Ohio, when a student gunman opened fire, killing one and wounding four others. A suspect has been taken into custody. Police and the local school superintendent tell CNN that the person fired in the cafeteria at the beginning of the school day Monday. Some of the students were evacuated via helicopter. “We just hope that they’re OK,”  an FBI agent told reporters outside the school.One parent told a CNN affiliate that the shooter was not firing randomly but was going for certain people.

The Plot to Kill Putin

A plot to kill Vladimir Putin by a group of Ukrainian assassins was uncovered by a joint operation of Ukrainian and Russian intelligence services, according to Russian news sources. The Russian leader is in the middle of a campaign to lock up a six-year term as the countrys president. While the thwarted plot was revealed by Russian media only on Monday, the arrests of the would-be assassins seem to have taken place either Jan. 4 or Feb. 4, after Ukrainian police were tipped off by an explosion in the plotters Odessa apartment. The assassination attempt was confirmed by a spokesman for Putin, who is currently Russias prime minister, on Monday.

More On Stratfor: How The Private Spy Agency Reached Out To South Africa’s Mail&Guardian

Shame:  ’Media Matters boss paid former partner $850G ‘blackmail’ settlement’

Larger Context: Media Matters burst on to the scene with a highly partisan form form of Media analysis. Run by a a right-wing analyst turned right-win critic, it attracted millions in funding from backers of  the Democratic Party whose notion of media criticism was largely a negative focus on right-wing media, not the corporate press. Sites like Mediachannel.org found itself out of favor with funders with narrow political objectives who wanted to bash the media they disliked, not promote media reform, literacy or criticism.

Worry: ‘Sleeping Pills Linked to Almost Fourfold Increase in Death Risk’ on Fluent News.

Your comments on the blog to dissector@mediachannel.org

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Occupy Sunday: Hope and Tension, The Financial Crisis, Crime and Human Rights

February 27th, 2012 - by:

Occupy Sunday: Hope and Tension, The Financial Crisis, Crime and Human Rights Posted in the Category: Uncategorized

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My most recent essay in the form of a Memo To Potus

Reuters: “The Internet-tracking firm Bluefin Labs counted 3.4 million Oscar-related comments on Facebook and Twitter, up from 966,00 for the 2011 Academy Awards telecast. Those numbers are likely to be significant for Oscar producers, who could point to viewers’ higher level of social media engagement to win greater advertising revenues for next year’s show.”

NY Times; Do The Oscars Matter?

“…Meanwhile, a demographic survey by The Los Angeles Times renewed questions about the 5,800-member Academy’s cultural relevance. Membership was found to be overwhelmingly white, male and 60ish. The results echoed conventional wisdom, but provoked new debate about whether the Oscars still mattered to an increasingly diverse America, let alone a global audience.

The television ratings may provide a clue. (At 3 hours 8 minutes, the show ranked among the shorter broadcasts in recent history.) In the meantime, the longing for past glory was perhaps most wistfully expressed by Bret McKenzie, whose composition, “Man or Muppet,” won for best original song.”

Tanya Gold, The Guardian: “… the Oscars are a marketing device, swelled by the truism that the more worthless the product, the more grandiose the chatter, and every year sentiment dictates the outcome and is dressed with significance. In an industry of narcissists, the film ­public relations officer is an apex predator of bullshit. “I have the whole of the world’s press on the other line,” one once told me. “Why do I need you?” …

Movies have become the least interesting thing about cinema, unless you want to watch actors pretending to be bats or spiders, or, to quote the trailer from The Avengers, “a playboy billionaire ­philanthropist” with rockets attached to his bum. (That would be Iron Man speaking).

All big movies are B movies now, which makes acting a very silly profession. This fact has another ghastly outcome — the morbid depression of the critic. When a mainstream “art” film such as Shame escapes, the critics clap from pure starvation, just because the protagonist is not half-bat, or half-weapon, or half-fork.”

Hollywoodism: Iranian ‘A Separation’ wins best foreign Oscar

Undefeated Wins for Documentary; Sports film backed by Harvey Weinstein Now Selling Remake Rights; It defeated Wim Wenders’ dance film Pina and the war documentary Hell and Back Again.

Occupy Sunday

I attended two Occupy events Sunday; one was inspirational, the other more problematic.

In the afternoon at Cooper Union, OWS members and some actors staged Eve Ensler’s fabulous Vagina Monologues with bold statements by women on their commitment to controlling their own bodies. The monologues were personal and political, sassy and sexy. The room was packed by enthusiastic occupiers and friends.

Part of the focus was on ending rape, whether in war torn countries like The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) or in Zuccotti Park and across the USA. Journalist Laura Flanders took part while author Eve Ensler wrapped it up with a discussion of her work with women in Congo and the amazing response the Monologues had inspired  worldwide. Next year on V DAY. there are plans for a massive global mobilization against crimes against women.

There was a strong sense of unity and determination in the large and still “great”  hal, despite all the  columns blocking the audience’s viewl at an event that offered a powerful example of Occupy’s influence and staying power.

Later in the eve, there was less unity after a group of committed and progressive business people unveiled a plan to raise money and support for Occupy from people who are sympathetic to the movement but not part of it. A presentation explained how the money would be raised and likely distributed.

There was immediate push back from some in the crowd who, to me at least, seemed threatened and more protective of their process than than eager to involve well intentioned people with a desire to help. The proposal was greeted with suspicion, fear of co-optation and outsiders calling the shots. It drew attention to the strong commitment to no hierarchy and small d democracy among the activists, but also the difficulty this movement will have in bridging cultures, reaching out to non-activists and building alliances.

“Why did you set up this mechanism rather than just get involved in the Movement’s work groups?” was one question as if there is only one way to participate–as an occupier.  OWS seems to have evolved a  core “process police”who distrust others who may not share their ‘bottom up, we are all equal, let the people involved  decide everything’ in endless meetings attitude because they have jobs or more conventional lifestyles.

That GA based process may, — I stress may–be good for moving the movement, but it is unclear if it will enable the movement to occupy the mainstream and connect to other people in other communities including those who are in business or more organized leader-led organizations. For many in the room, the revolution is as much a life style choice as a political movement. The message from some who seemed furious of the idea that anyone can help, except on their terms seems a to flow from a movement as a new society in itself philosophy, not a Movement that’s there to serve the society by confronting its abuses.

The Tennessean: Letter To Occupy Urging A Focus on Congress

To Be Continued.

Speech for UN Confab on the Financial Crisis And Human Rights–Your input welcome

Your comments welcome:

Draft Speech By Danny Schechter. News Dissector. Blogger. Author and Filmmaker

A prominent activist recommended me to international human rights NGO based in Geneva Switzerland. They have invited me, based on my films, books and essays about financial crimes. to speak at a hearing that is part of the UN’s human rights process in Mid March.

I am drafting a formal speech since I assume it has to be translated into various languages.  It occurred to me to post it as a draft in hopes that readers of the NewsDissector.net blog might have some suggestions for how I can strengthen it,  or call my attention to subjects I didn’t touch on or explain.

Your input welcome to dissector@mediachannel.org

Leave it to a Harvard Business School Professor, deeply schooled in the nuances of business practice, to raise one of the most profound analyses to come out of the ongoing financial crisis that has become a seemingly permanent feature of modern life.

Back in 2009, Professor Shoshanna Zuboff argued that “crimes against humanity” had been committed by Wall Street’s financial manipulators.

“By refusing to consider the consequences of their actions, those who created the financial crisis exemplify the banality of evil,” she wrote.

Quoting on, she noted in the pages of Business Week:

“Each day’s economic news leaves me haunted by Hannah Arendt’s ruminations on Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann as she reported on his trial in Jerusalem for The New Yorker 45 years ago. Arendt pondered “the strange interdependence of thoughtlessness and evil” and sought to capture it with her famous formulation “the banality of evil.” Arendt found Eichmann neither “perverted nor sadistic,” but “terribly and terrifyingly normal.”

She even found a way of comparing the economic catastrophe that so many of us are living through to the Holocaust, although back stepped, no doubt in fear of provoking too strong a dismissive reaction from those who see that crime s uniquely horrific in history.

“The economic crisis is not the Holocaust but, I would argue, it derives from a business model that routinely produced a similar kind of remoteness and thoughtlessness, compounded by a widespread abrogation of individual moral judgment. As we learn more about the behavior within our financial institutions, we see that just about everyone accepted a reckless system that rewards transactions but rejects responsibility for the consequences of those transactions. Bankers, brokers, and financial specialists were all willing participants in a self-centered business model that celebrates what’s good for organization insiders while dehumanizing and distancing everyone else—the outsiders.”

It is precisely this framework though, steeped in moral as well as economic lessons that we need to adopt to judge the vast human rights implications of the decisions and practices that led to the massive unemployment, homelessness, foreclosures, downward mobility and poverty that grips our world.

In most of the media this crisis has been treated with a perverse logic as if no one was responsible since everyone was financially reckless, and thus, everyone is to blame and at the same time no one.

It took the editor of Vanity Fair, a popular magazine more into celebrities than derivative to dispose of this perverse lack of logic.

Wrote Graydon Carter:

“It can fairly be said that the chain of catastrophic bets made over the past decade by a few hundred bankers may well turn out to be the greatest non- violent crime against humanity in history. They’ve brought the world’s economy to its knees, lost tens of millions of people their jobs and their homes, and trashed the retirement plans of a generation, and they could drive an estimated 200 million people worldwide into dire poverty.

In other words, never before have so few, done so much, to so many.”

And yet, the investigations of the financial crimes behind this crisis have been stunted and the prosecutions few and far between. Crimes of relatively minor crimes are routinely adjudicated.

Crimes that led to the loss of trillions of dollars are ignored.

As financial journalist Gary Weiss writes in his new book on the ideology of selfishness promulgated by writer Ayn Rand, “What followed the financial crisis was not reform but retrenchment, rebuttal, denial” as if “the failure of deregulation and untrammeled capitalism doesn’t seem to matter anymore…Little reform was enacted and what was undermined in Congress. Even talking about such things, blaming bankers for the things they had done, was to be condemned.”

So we saw a failure of a largely unregulated system that created the crisis and then a failure of the political process on a global level to reform the abuses that allowed the malicious, unfair and illegal practices in the first place.

While the financial industry was lobbying to blunt regulation by rewriting laws and paying off legislators and Judges, wealth from workers and the middle class was intentionally transferred into the hands of the superrich.

This financial engineering was permitted by politicians on the take from financiers resulting in the corruption of democracy itself.

UN Human rights officials have spoken out but their words have reached few ears, since a compromised and complicit media has often been in cahoots with the perpetrators of financial crimes in three ways.

•Dependence on extensive media advertising by the financial sector makes it less likely for news outlets to expose financial abuses.

•The extensive ownership of media companies by financial firms insures their submission to agendas that hurt readers; viewers and employees whose retirement savings plans often underwrite outrageous compensation and bonuses for elite managers and executives.

Looting is a common internal practice by CEOs on the make and the take.

•The consequence for media consumers is also often news that is skewed to put the business world in high repute while critical voices are skewed.

What the UN is saying deals mostly with the impact the crisis is having, not on acting to stem crimes and abuses.

Says Navi Pillay, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, ““While it is imperative to respond to the current crises with a thorough review of the functioning of the international financial and monetary mechanisms, a human rights approach will contribute to making solutions more durable in the medium and long run,” said the High Commissioner in her address to the special session.

“Such an approach helps to identify the specific needs and entitlements of vulnerable groups and individuals, particularly women and children, migrants, refugees, indigenous peoples, minorities and persons with disabilities.

“They stand at the frontlines of hardship and are most likely to lose their jobs and access to social safety nets and services,” she added.

She’s right to point out how the most vulnerable populations are being hurt, but there is something missing in The UN’s response if this crisis as bad as everyone says it is.

We have an international criminal court. Why is it not trying the banksters behind the crisis who have managed to slither away from national courts even as their crimes have had such negative global impacts?

Where are the calls for tribunals such as the one that Pillay herself was part of in the aftermath of the genocide in Rwanda?

The UN knows how to investigate crimes against humanity, why not this one?

Can it be that so many of the member states are “captured” to use an economic term by financial interests who don’t want to be held accountable?

Write Radhika Balakrishnan and James Heintz, “All governments are obliged to advance their people’s human rights. One of the specific obligations under international law is to protect the rights of their residents. When an individual business or institution threatens to interfere with someone’s basic rights, the government must step in to protect economic and social rights….

Regulation in the U.S. has been skewed in favor of certain interests. It is not that there was a simply deregulation of the U.S. economy. Instead a re-regulatory process that was and is biased toward the interest of banks rather than workers and families was put in place. This biased regulation comes from deliberate government policy changes and the failure to extend its supervisory role in the context of social and economic change.”

This brings us back to Shoshanna Zuboff’s passionate challenge that we all have to respond to.

‘Shouldn’t the individuals whose actions unleashed such devastating consequences be held accountable to these moral standards?

I believe the answer is yes. That in the crisis of 2009 the mounting evidence of fraud, conflicts of interest, indifference to suffering, repudiation of responsibility, and systemic absence of individual moral judgment produced an administrative economic massacre of such proportion that it constitutes an economic crime against humanity.”

Fortunately, we have seen the emergence of  Occupy Wall Street, but fot all the “We are the 99% fighting the 1%” activism, the movement has yet to focus on economic justice demands to imprison financial criminals. There is plenty of criticism of bailouts. But no demands for a “jail out” of those who have committed crimes against humanity.

As for human rights, those values are shared in the occupy movements worldwide, in no small measure because of all of the human rights abuses that have been inflicted on activists exercising freedom of speech and assembly.’

Other News: What Now For The War in Afghanistan?

NYT: WASHINGTON — American officials sought to reassure both Afghanistan’s government and a domestic audience on Sunday that the United States remained committed to the war after the weekend killing of two American military officers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry and days of deadly anti-American protests.
Related

But behind the public pronouncements, American officials described a growing concern, even at the highest levels of the Obama administration and Pentagon, about the challenges of pulling off a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan that hinges on the close mentoring and training of army and police forces.

LBN: Iran Sabre Rattling Challenges Israeli Sabre Rattling

Iran’s defense minister promised that an Israeli attack would result in Israels destruction, suggesting Iran would retaliate in the event of any bombing. Israeli officials have stated that they need to attack Iran before the summer if they are going to put an end to Irans nuclear program, because the country is moving its nuclear facilities underground. Additionally, on Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in a report that Iran has increased production of higher-grade enriched uranium in recent months. But on Saturday, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi warned, A military attack by the Zionist regime will undoubtedly lead to the collapse of this regime. He did not specify what form of Iranian retaliation would take.

Martin Andelman, ML-implode.com: The Foreclosure Crisis and the Academy Awards

CLG WikiLeaks begins publishing 5 million emails from STRATFOR

WikiLeaks began publishing The Global Intelligence Files – more than five million emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011. They reveal the inner workings of a company that fronts as an intelligence publisher, but provides confidential intelligence services to large corporations, such as Bhopal’s Dow Chemical Co., Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and government agencies, including the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines and the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Stratfor… emails reveal private intelligence staff who align themselves closely with US government policies and channel tips to the Mossad – including through an information mule in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Yossi Melman, who conspired with Guardian journalist David Leigh to secretly, and in violation of WikiLeaks’ contract with the Guardian, move WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables to Israel.

Stratfor CEO George Friedman Announces His Resignation Due To Wikileaks Emails

Techfleece.com; Stratfor CEO George Friedman has announced his immediate resignation following the 5 million emails that were leaked tonight by Wikileaks.

From The Yes Men: Dow Chemical Spying On Activists
Dow pays “strategic intelligence” firm to spy on Yes Men and grassroots activists. Takeaway: movement is on the right track!
WikiLeaks begins to publish today over five million e-mails obtained by Anonymous from “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails, which reveal everything from sinister spy tactics to an insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs (see below), also include several discussions of the Yes Men and Bhopal activists. (Bhopal activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India, that led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.)
Many of the Bhopal-related emails, addressed from Stratfor to Dow and Union Carbide public relations directors, reveal concern that, in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the Bhopal issue might be expanded into an effective systemic critique of corporate rule, and speculate at length about why this hasn’t yet happened—providing a fascinating window onto what at least some corporate types fear most from activists.
“[Bhopal activists] have made a slight nod toward expanded activity, but never followed through on it—the idea of ‘other Bhopals’ that were the fault of Dow or others,” mused Joseph de Feo, who is listed in one online source as a “Briefer” for Stratfor.
“Maybe the Yes Men were the pinnacle. They made an argument in their way on their terms—that this is a corporate problem and a part of the a [sic] larger whole,” wrote Kathleen Morson, Stratfor’s Director of Policy Analysis.
“With less than a month to go [until the 25th anniversary], you’d think that the major players—especially Amnesty—would have branched out from Bhopal to make a broader set of issues. I don’t see any evidence of it,” wrote Bart Mongoven, Stratfor’s Vice President, in November 2004. “If they can’t manage to use the 25th anniversary to broaden the issue, they probably won’t be able to.”

Fluent; Mandela Released From Hospital, Returns Home

FT:  BP trial delayed as settlement talks progress

BP is close to a possible settlement of tens of thousands of damages claims arising from the trial over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, it emerged on Sunday afternoon when a judge agreed to post …

Fluent: ‘High court to deliberate on whether rights groups can sue companies for atrocities’ 

Guardian; Russia Will Reject Putin (Opinion)

Fluent:  ‘Putin foes encircle center of Moscow’

Fluent: ‘Israel inks $1.6 billion arms deal with Azerbaijan’ 

AJE: Senegal Election To Go Into New Round/Run-off

Music:  Bruce Springsteen Premieres New Song ‘Wrecking Ball’ on Mashable

Letters:

Muhammad Khurshid writes vis Linked In from the border areas of Pakistan
First of all accept my thanks and gratitude for your support to my struggle for rule of law and peace in Bajaur Agency, tribal areas situated on Pak-Afghan border, which remained war zone for a long time and whole Pakistan. There will be no denying the fact that was the corruption of rulers that gave birth to terrorism, which later used as justification for deaths and destruction in whole Pakistan.
I have launched a movement against corruption some ten years ago. Since then I am in the hot water. I do not know, but I am just feeling that I have been guided by my Allah during my movement against corruption. If I am alive this is the blessing of Allah Almighty. So many times I have survived suicide attacks. I was present in Peshawar Press Club when a terrorists carried out a suicide attack on the club building. I am also member of Peshawar Press Club, but at the moment I am in Bajaur Agency. Actually rulers of Bajaur Agency, tribal areas have used all methods for suppressing my voice, but now Allah Almighty has made my voice very effective. Now I can reach to the whole world through these social media networks. This is really a honour for me that majority of my links in this network are journalists so their every action is important.
Today I just want to write about my personal sufferings. Terrorists in Bajaur Agency, who have been enjoying the support of rulers have created a lot of problems for me, but they failed in their bid to eliminate me. Now I am certain that I shall control these terrorists. Actually controlling of corruption will be the first step for controlling terrorism in tribal areas and whole Pakistan.
At the moment I am needing the help of people like you. Frankly speaking you are loved by Allah Almighty and now He is using you for a great cause. I am really grateful to you for hearing my voice.
My dear friends, now this is my desire to develop journalism in tribal areas as through effective journalism we can check corruption. But this is my desire to make you the part of my campaign. At the moment I am alone in my struggle, but this is my desire to actively involve you in the movement against corruption. I want to tell you that Allah Almighty will be helping me and you in this noble cause.
Please give me your suggestions as how you can become part of this movement. Actually I am unclear, but I have the desire to do something. I just want to inform you that I have a wife and four children. They are the part of my campaign. Actually they have faced a lot of problems during last few years. I shall always be praying for your peace and happiness as you have been doing a great job.
Love and blessing
Yours friend
Muhammad Khurshid
Bajaur Press Club
Khar, Bajaur Agency,
Tribal Areas, Pakistan

Letter from my friend Harvey Wasserman in the NY Times

Nuclear power is the most expensive technological failure of the modern age. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima top the list of its negatives. But in strict economic terms, it cannot compete. Solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and other forms of green power are cheaper, cleaner, safer, faster to build, require no federal limits on liability and create no radioactive waste. The same is true of increased efficiency and conservation. It’s time to recognize reality and leave atomic energy behind.

HARVEY WASSERMAN
Bexley, Ohio, Feb. 22, 2012

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Syria Says Armed Groups Block Civilian AId; Fears Of Wider War, Why Is Bill Maher So Off The Wall?

February 26th, 2012 - by:

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This morning: I will be on Reverend Jesse Jackson’s internet radio program at 9AM—check out: KeepHopeAliveRadio.com

Today 2 PM: The Vagina Monologues at  the Great Hall at Cooper Union, 7th Street NY; Eve Ensler will be  there along with some occupiers. The Great Hall is where Lincoln Debated Douglas in 1858.

Regime Change In the news,

Drone Time: Report: US drones flying over Syria  The United States is flying unmanned reconnaissance planes over Syria   to monitor the regime’s escalating crackdown on dissent, US defense  officials told the NBC Television on Saturday.

NY Times: Syrian Conflict Poses Threat of Broader Regional War

NYT: Analysis – Syria, Iran and Obama “Doctrine
CLG: US Escalates Plans For War In Gulf
US planning to boost sea and land defenses in Gulf as Iran war fears grow –Military planners sought emergency funding from Congress for defense –Central Command told Congress that it wanted new systems in place by autumn 25 Feb 2012 The Pentagon has begun to take tangible steps to prepare for a possible conflict with Iran by making formal plans to boost US sea and land defences in the Persian Gulf, it has been claimed. Military planners have asked for emergency funding from Congress to address a perceived shortfall in defence capabilities that could undermine the ability of US forces to respond to an Iranian closure of the Strait of Hormuz, the Wall Street Journal quoted American officials as saying. Gen James Mattis, the head of the US Central Command, has privately informed Congress of his intentions to place mine detection and clearing equipment in and around the Strait and to boost surveillance capabilities in the Gulf. There are also plans to modify weapons systems on ships that are at present vulnerable to Iranian fast-attack boats, many of which carry anti-ship missiles.

PRESS TV: Response to Obama on Oil Prices

President Obama has blamed tensions with Iran as the reason behind rising oil prices in the US causing the US to buy oil at above peak oil prices and use its reserves.

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/2Z8fRmjmMLQ” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>

Fluent:  ‘Obama administration coy on possibility of tapping oil reserve as gas prices rise’ 

M&G: The Syrian government kept up its onslaught on Homs and other towns, with at least 100 killed according to human rights campaigners.

Syria Blames Armed Groups for Inflaming Conflict

Prensa Latina: Damascus, Feb 25 (Prensa Latina) Syria’s Foreign Ministry denounced that armed groups have prevented the evacuation of injured foreign journalists in Homs, while the corpses of the two reporters who died in  the Baba Amr neighborhood after entering the country illegally have not been handed over either.

As a humanitarian gesture, Damascus’ authorities coordinated a joint mission with the International Red Cross and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) and sent ambulances with medical staff and officials from Homs to that neighborhood to help those injured, but the armed groups have impeded this action.

U.S. journalist Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik died on Wednesday in a crossfire between armed groups stationed in that region and Syrian forces.

During the clash, French reporter Edith Bouvier, from Le Figaro, British photoreporter Paul Conroy and French William Daniel, as well as a Syrian photographer whose identity is unknown, were injured.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry regretted that the armed groups refused to hand over the injured journalists and the corpses, an action that threatens the life of those wounded, particularly of the reporter, who is said to need surgery.”

Fluent News:  ‘Syria set for constitution referendum amid unrest’

Other World News

LA Times: Afghan anger over Koran burning an emblem of nation’s culture war
The spasm of violence that has shaken the country since copies of the Koran were dumped in a trash incinerator at a U.S. military base is emblematic of a culture war among Afghans themselves, one that is likely to grow more intense as the Western military presence wanes.

Fluent:  ‘Senegal holds contentious election as Abdoulaye Wade runs again’

Portside:Singer  Yousou N’Dour Wants To Be Senegal’s Savior (Independent)

Fluent:  ’Nelson Mandela spends night in hospital’

Fluent: ‘Italy’s Berlusconi bribery trial ends with no verdict’

Assessment From Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information

“The occupation is entering its 45th year, IPCRI its 24th, the peace process its 21st. With all the millions of dollars and tens of thousands of human hours that have been invested in resolving the conflict, the truth of the matter is that those efforts have failed Palestinian freedom of movement is much worse off today than it was when IPCRI was founded in 1988. The Palestinians have not achieved their legitimate political rights. The 22% of the land promised to the Palestinians during Oslo has only been partially granted.  Only 40% of this area is under Palestinian jurisdiction, whereas 60% is categorized as area C, remaining under full Israeli control, allowing for illegal settlements to continuously expand.

Guardian: Behind Britain’s Involvement In Somalia–a Search for Oil

Bill Maher, Wise Guy Liberal Bill Maher has Insults For Occupy, A Million Bucks for Barack

Did you see Bill Maher on HBO on Friday night making really degrading and snide remarks about Occupy. Disgusting. He’s getting a lot of press for giving a MILLION DOLLARS to the Obama SuperPac. Lloyd Grove reports: “The satirist says he’s writing a very big check to support Obama in hopes that other rich liberals wake up to the looming threat from Republicans’ super PACs in November.”

OWS Baiting Underway: Santorum Now Says Romney is An Occupy Wall Street Adherent

Occupy Obama?

I was on BBC radio yesterday commenting on another occupation—an occupation by Chinese netizens on Barack Obama’s Google + Page.

BBC Reported:

“President Obama’s page on the social networking website Google Plus has been inundated with messages in Chinese, after internet-users in China found out that local restrictions had been removed. Every current topic on Mr Obama’s page attracted hundreds of Chinese comments — to the confusion of American readers. Many contributors simply made jokes: others said they were occupying the site in the style of the western Occupy campaigns. Google Plus is normally blocked in China, along with Twitter, Facebook and other web-content that the authorities deem unacceptable. (Later reports from China suggested that Google Plus might have been partially blocked again.)

And some more here: “Chinese Netizens Occupy Obama’s Google+, Americans Annoyed” http://www.chinasmack.com/2012/stories/chinese-netizens-occupy-obamas-google-americans-annoyed.html

I thought it was very cool. Here are some of their translated comments:

Yannick Yang:  The Chinese government doesn’t represent the Chinese people.

Haitao Yang:Come together to occupy Obama’s Google+ page!

Pollar Chang: President Obama. can you say hello to Chinese netizens?

Doudou Shang Jiang: Dear President Obama, I’m sorry to write some irrelevant comments under your post. Due to my appreciation and trust to your country’s consistent respect to human right, I left this message, to implore the government of your country to call for the freedom of the blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng in international community , thank you!

Ding Gao: Guys let’s post English also after Chinese. So that we can communicate with the rest of the world.

Zhao Mangliu: There’re people criticised the Chiese netizens for flooding into Obama’s Google+ page, saying it’s an unpolite move. But they have to understand that it’s just so hard for the Chiense internet users to find a place to speak freely. They should have blamed on them.

Lost Grass: I don’t understand English…who can help to translate?

Lei Tang  -  To English-speaking people who don’t understand Chinese: those who post in Chinese here are just having fun. Google plus was formerly blocked in China by the Communist Party, but now it’s sometimes accessible from China. These Chinese people are just enjoying the freedom to be able to say anything they would like to say, especially the freedom to post comments on political leader’s page, such as Mr. Obama.

David Yang: I bet Obama’s translator must be very busy now!

Chuan Wan: If the Chinese President Hu Jintao also had a Google+ page, how many people gonna come and post comment?

Michael Jack: President, pls granted me a US Green Card…….

Able C: Mr President. Please pay more attention to Chinese civil rights ,I hope that you will win the coming election.

Hanchen Chen: Support Obama!

Shuang Wang: Just come to check if the restriction has been removed.

Siu Kin Chui: Obama bumper stickers – can you mail it to China?

Joe Zhao: It’s everyone’s responsibilty to promote Chinese language.

Lefu Chen: Obama, welcome to China

Zhang Xiaohai: Let’s go and occupy Lady Gaga’s Google+ page as well.

Hu Mingming: Obama, do you feel overwhelming now.

I felt overwhelming love for the sense of humor and guts of the Chinese netizens.

Today Greece: Tomorrow US?

Ml-Implode.com MF Global Turns Into Battle For Scraps Between Hedge Funds and Customers

`The MF Global saga could soon become a legal battle between hedge funds and the futures brokerage’s shortchanged customers, with more than a billion dollars at stake… A more complex battle could arise from the fact that both customers and bondholders claim priority for payouts from MF Global’s general estate…”

The Independent (UK) 1 out of 4 Kids Too Hungry to Grow

Money Laundering Mystery

By process of simple deduction it was totally obvious that a gigantic, money-laundering operation was being conducted, with the primary goal being to prop-up the totally fraudulent U.S. Treasuries market. All that was missing was a paper-trail to prove this fraud, and now Lord James of Blackheath has been kind enough to provide this.

Mormon temple in Dominican Republic fuels controversy by posthumously baptizing Holocaust victim Anne Frank,

National Insecurity

Canadian family endures U.S. border nightmare; Shopping trip to U.S. turns into ordeal

Guardian: Murdoch New  Sunday Tabloid Coming In London

Rumor of the Week–Dan Cooper in Mediola on Tumbr: Inside Murdoch World
Most recently, Lachlan Murdoch seems to have displaced his younger brother James as heir apparent, despite that Lachlan walked away from his father because Roger Ailes power-grasped a large portion of his portfolio.
What does all this mean? As a close observer of Rupert, and knowing Roger Ailes too well, and having met Lachlan, this is my observation:
I believe Rupert has contracted a stage of dementia known to neurologists and psychiatrists as Early AD, or early stage Alzheimer’s Disease. Nothing else can account for the bizarre support for Santorum or the equally bizarre space elevator Joel Klein is riding to the pinnacle of News Corporation.
With the ascent of Klein, and the apparent crowning of Lachlan, another impending development will be the ousting of Roger Ailes”…..

Oscars Tonight: A Battle of the Bosses

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Women Missing In Oscar Land, The Progies, Social Issues Displace Economy in GOP,

February 25th, 2012 - by:

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Tonight,  Riverside Church at 8 PM: Tribute Drama Salutes Civil Rights “Shero” Fannie Lou Hamer

Tomorrow at 2 PM, Great Hall of Cooper Union, 7th Street, Occupy with Eve Ensler presents Vagina M0nologues

Listen: News Dissector Radio Hour on PRN.FM: Guests, Barry Dyke, Pirates of Manhattan 2 and Gary Weiss, Ayn Rand Nation

Spotlight on Syria

Latest: AJE -Aid group in talks to reach further casualties after ambulances move 27 women and children from besieged Homs district.

Yesterday, AlJazeera reported: “Officials from more than 70 nations vowed more sanctions on Assad’s government and called for aid to be brought in.”

Yet, there were also protests against the conference on Syria in Tunisia.

UNIS, SANA:  Hundreds of Tunisians on Friday demonstrated in front of the hotel where the so-called friends of Syria meeting is being held and tried to storm the hotel.

Demonstrators, according to Associated Press and United Press International, expressed rejection of the meeting, depicting it as a shame on Tunis.

They condemned turning Tunisia into a place for conspiring on the castles of the nation.

The protesters forced U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to be diverted to her hotel, delaying her appearance at the meeting.

The demonstrators were carrying flags of Syria and Tunisia and pictures of President Bashar al-Assad, chanting slogans that condemn the conference and the participants.

They also chanted anti-Tunisian president and government slogans for hosting the meeting and condemned the role of Qatar describing it as a “sponsor of the Zio-American project,”

The demonstrators also carried banners reading slogans against U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Tunisian streets also witnessed massive rallies rejecting this meeting and condemning interference in Syria’s internal affairs in implementation of foreign agendas.

In the same context, the Saudi delegation withdrew from the meeting over what it saw as the gathering’s “inactivity”

NYT:  Hamas Supports Syrian Opposition

GAZA —A leader of Hamas spoke out against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria on Friday, throwing its support behind the opposition and stripping Damascus of what little credibility it may have retained with the Arab street. It was Hamas’s first public break with its longtime patron.

Hamas’s prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, said during Friday Prayer, “I salute all people of the Arab Spring, or Islamic winter, and I salute the Syrian people who seek freedom, democracy and reform.”

The worshipers shouted back, “God is great” and “Syria! Syria!”

What about the role of Russia and China which oppose US Policy?

Peter Lee reports in  Asia Times on China and Syria

“…. contrary to its image as an opportunistic and reactive player in the Middle East, China has not only dug in its heels on Syria; it has stepped up with a diplomatic initiative of its own.

China also voted against the non-binding Syria resolution drafted for the UN General Assembly by Saudi Arabia, the oil baron that is generally regarded as calling the tune for China on Middle Eastern issues.

On February 23, China also announced it would not attend the “Friends of Syria” aka “Enemies of Assad” meeting in Tunisia this Friday designed to further delegitimize and isolate Assad to pave the way for his ouster, putting it at odds with the West, the Gulf nations, and much of the Arab League.

China had already dispatched Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun to Syria and the Middle East to lobby for Russia’s and China’s (and Assad’s) preferred solution to the crisis: channeling political and opposition activity into votes on a referendum on a new Syrian constitution on February 26, and parliamentary elections four months down the road.

Chinese diplomats have also reached out to the Arab League to argue that the PRC’s stance is in line with the league’s policy on Syria.

China took the extra step of decoupling its position from Russia’s, presenting itself as an honest broker and not an Assad partisan, and reaching out further into the ranks of Syria’s opposition to publicize its contacts with Haitham Manna of the National Coordination Committee for Democratic Change.

RT: US preparing for military intervention in Syria?

The US and other NATO countries could soon launch a ground assault on Syria. The final decision will be made soon, following this week’s Tunis conference where allied countries will meet to discuss possible scenarios of military intervention.

Sources in Washington tell the Israeli news agency Debka that the Pentagon is currently drafting the approach they want America to take in the Syria ordeal, and once it is ready for the president, Obama could approve military action. Debka adds, however, that the decision will also depend on what US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes away from this week’s Tunis conference.

Tablet Magazine, a “new read on Jewish Life” has been attacking RT for being part of  a “Russian Propaganda Machine,” labeling the network as having a “deep bench of crackpots and Western Russohiles.” A recent piece attacks New York correspondent Marina Portnaya for “echoing” positions taken by Russia’s Foreign Minister. Portnaya told me her reporting  cited sources, not her own editorializing, and was distorted in the Tablet’s attack which denies there is any “other side” of the story.

 Syrian Human Rights Group Condems Ilegal Entry of Journalists.

Damascus, Feb 23 (Prensa Latina) The Human Rights Network (HRN) on Thursday denounced some countries” attempts to confuse public opinion about Syria, using newspaper articles on the reported death and injury of journalists who entered the country clandestinely.

According to international law, the group said in a statement, the authorities of a country are not responsible for the security andprotection of individuals who entered their territory illegally. On the contrary, adds the note, they should be arrested and brought to ustice to investigate the causes of their illegal entry.

Information Minister Adnan Mahmoud said on Wednesday that his ministry has not registered the arrival or presence of U.S. reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik on Syrian territory, wh according to foreign media, died last Wednesday in Homs, nor the presence of others journalists reported as injured.

This sounds like a specious argument to me. The journalists may not have been intentionally targeted but they were killed and the Syrian government should investigate what happened instead of denouncing the victims.

Undernews:  It’s poverty, not our schools, that is the problem

Mercedes Olivera, Dallas Morning News – It’s become almost axiomatic these days to talk about America’s educational system as “broken.” U.S. students do poorly on tests when compared with those in other countries, especially in math and science.

But recent studies also reveal that U.S. students from middle-class families and well-funded schools outscore students in nearly all other countries.

“Our average scores are less than spectacular because the U.S. has the highest percentage of children in poverty of all industrialized countries,” said [Stephen] Krashen, professor emeritus at the University of Southern California

“People think that our schools were once very good and that they have declined, and the best way to make them better, as good as they were in the good old days, is ‘rigorous’ standards and tests to enforce the standards. But the assumptions aren’t true.”

Poverty means inadequate nutrition, inadequate health care, exposure to toxic chemicals in the environment and little access to books. All those factors are strongly associated with lower school performance, he said.

“If all of our children had the same advantages middle-class children have, our test scores would be at the top of the world,” Krashen said. He criticized the Obama administration’s move to spend billions on new standards and tests, which he said will do little to improve a child’s ability to learn.

Other News

Fluent News: ‘Haiti Prime Minister Garry Conille resigns’ 

Fluent: Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez heads to Cuba for more surgery’ 

Fluent:  ’Canada commission issues details abuse of native children’

Labor Notes: UE reoccupies Chicago Plant To Save Jobs

LA Times: Hackers publish private information about L.A. police officers
The FBI is probing an Internet breach in which hackers publicly posted private information belonging to more than 100 local law enforcement officers who are part of the Los Angeles County Police Canine Assn.

Fluent News:  ‘Improved economy equals political fallout?’

The Oscars Are Sunday

Women’s Media Center:” … women are sorely missing from the list of Oscar nominees. Now that you’ve seen who’s on the list, we bet you’re asking the same question we are. “Where are the Women?”

35 women in a pool of 180 nominations! 19% women to 81% men.!

1/4 of the categories have NO women at all!…

A recent Los Angeles Times article describes the disheartening fact that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is comprised of mostly male members. 77% of the Oscar voters are men, and of the Academy’s 43 member Board of Governors just 6 are women!  “Even inside the movie industry, intense speculation surrounds the academy’s composition and how that influences who gets nominated for and wins Oscars.

Winners of The Progies: Progressive Awards For 2011

THE TRUMBO: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE PICTURE is named after Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood Ten, who was imprisoned for his beliefs and refusing to inform. Trumbo helped break the Blacklist when he received screen credit for “Spartacus” and “Exodus” in 1960.

Winner: A Better Life    

The Help; Le Havre; The Time That Remains.

THE GARFIELD: The Progie Award for BEST ACTOR in a progressive picture is named after John Garfield, who rose from the proletarian theatre to star in progressive pictures such as “Gentleman’s Agreement” and “Force of Evil,” only to run afoul of the Hollywood Blacklist.

Winners: Peter Mullan (Tyrannosaur)

Demián Bichir (A Better Life); George Clooney (The Descendants); Viggo Mortensen (A Dangerous Method).

KAREN MORLEY AWARD: The Progie Award for BEST ACTRESS in a film portraying women in a progressive picture is named for Karen Morley, co-star of 1932’s “Scarface” and 1934’s “Our Daily Bread.” Morley was driven out of Hollywood in the 1930s for her leftist views, but maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for New York’s Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

Winner: Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Jessica Chastain (The Debt).

THE RENOIR: The Progie Award for BEST ANTI-WAR FILM is named after the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir, who directed the 1937 anti-militarism masterpiece “Grand Illusion.”

Winner: In The Land of Blood and Honey

War Horse.

THE GILLO: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE FOREIGN FILM is named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who lensed the 1960s classics “The Battle of Algiers” and “Burn!”

Winner: Le Havre (France)

The Time That Remains (France); A Separation (Iran).

THE DZIGA: The Progie Award for BEST PROGRESSIVE DOCUMENTARY is named after the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, who directed 1920s nonfiction films such as the “Kino Pravda” (“Film Truth”) series and “The Man With the Movie Camera.”

Winner:  Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975

Project Nim; We Were Here.

OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD: The Progie Award for the MOST POSITIVE AND INSPIRING WORKING CLASS SCREEN IMAGE is named after King Vidor’s 1934 classic about an American collective farm, which starred Karen Morley and was produced by Charlie Chaplin.

Winner: Le Havre

Albert Nobbs

THE ROBESON: The Progie Award for the BEST PORTRAYAL OF PEOPLE OF COLOR that shatters cinema stereotypes, in light of their historically demeaning depictions onscreen. It is named after courageous performing legend, Paul Robeson, who starred in 1936’s “Song of Freedom” and 1940’s “The Proud Valley,” and narrated 1942’s “Native Land.”

Winner: Pariah

The Help; Le Havre; London River; Mooz-Lum; Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975.

THE SERGEI: The Progie Award for LIFETIME PROGRESSIVE ACHIEVEMENT ON- OR OFFSCREEN is named after Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet director of masterpieces such as “Potemkin” and “10 Days That Shook the World.”

Winner: George Clooney

Sean Penn; Raul Ruiz

THE BUNUEL: The Progie Award for the MOST SLYLY SUBVERSIVE SATIRICAL CINEMATIC FILM in terms of form, style and content is named after Luis Bunuel, the Spanish surrealist who directed 1929’s “The Andalusian Dog,” 1967’s “Belle de Jour” and 1972’s “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.”

Winner: The Artist

Potiche; Carnage; Hugo.

THE PASOLINI: The Progie Award for BEST PRO-GAY RIGHTS film is named after Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who directed 1964′s “The Gospel According to St. Matthew” and “The Decameron” and “The Canterbury Tales” in the 1970s.

Winner: Pariah

 Weekend

THE LAWSON: The Progie Award for BEST ANTI-FASCIST FILM is named after John Howard Lawson, screenwriter of 1938’s anti-Franco “Blockade” and the 1940s anti-nazi films “Four Sons,” “Action in the North Atlantic,” “Sahara” and “Counter-Attack,” and one of the Hollywood Ten.

Winner: Sarah’s Key

The Debt

THE LANGLOIS: For BEST PROGRESSIVE PICTURE DESERVING THEATRICAL RELEASE IN THE US and distribution in other countries and platforms is named after film archivist Henri Langlois, co-founder of Paris’ Cinémathèque.

Carre Blanc; Omar Killed Me; Vapor Trail; Land of Opportunity; Jesus Was a Communist (Matthew Modine); Cinema Komunisto; Will the Real Terrorist Please Stand Up; Vito; Green; She Monkeys; You Hurt My Feelings; Without; Asmaa (Egypt); The Sleeping Voice (Spain); Le Skylab (France); The Loving Story; Ispansi; Boleto a Paraiso (Ticket to Paradise); Granito: How To Nail a Dictator; Escribeme Postales A Copacabana (Write Me Postcards to Copacabana)

Ken Dilanian, ICH: U.S. Does NOT Not Believe Iran is Trying to Build Nuclear Bomb

Iran continues to enrich uranium at low levels, U.S. officials say they have not seen evidence that has caused them to significantly revise that judgment. Senior U.S. officials say Israel does not dispute the basic intelligence or analys

Jim Lobe. IPS: Despite War Drums, Experts Insist Iran Nuclear Deal Possible

The 45-page report, “In Heavy Waters: Iran’s Nuclear Program, the Risk of War and Lessons from Turkey”, called on the United States and the EU to take their cue from Ankara’s approach of full engagement with Iran, instead of isolation, sanctions, sabotage and threats of war on which they have mainly relied to date.

Mainstream Media View, Daily Beast:   U.N.: Iran Expanding Nuke Program

In a confidential report released Friday, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog says Iran has rapidly expanded its production of higher-grade enriched uranium in recent months. While the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) expressed concerns about the country’s ability to easily and quickly build nuclear warfare, Iran dismissed inspectors’ concerns as unfounded. The IAEA report also said Iran failed to explain why it’s missing a large quantity of uranium metal, which diplomats say could be used in experiments to arm a nuclear warhead. After talks with leaders in Tehran, the agency added that Iran had refused to clear up questions regarding its nuclear program.’

Media Tenor Assesses US Media Coverage:

PRIMARY SEASON: SOCIAL ISSUES ATTEMPT TO DISTRACT FROM ECONOMIC CONCERNSCoverage of politics in US TV news, January 1 – February 21, 2012Boston, February 24, 2012. In the wake of the Conservative Political Action Conference, media focus on topics and candidates in the Republic primaries has continued to shift, marginalizing Newt Gingrich and bringing renewed momentum to Rick Santorum’s campaign according to Media Tenor International.“Most voters aren’t single-issue voters,” says Racheline Maltese, an analyst at Media Tenor. “In November, they’ll make decisions based on economic concerns and whether they feel better off than they did four years ago. While Santorum seeks to rally core Republican voters with his message of social conservatism, those issues aren’t of interest to moderates and independents, as shown by these issues’ still relatively low visibility on the media agenda. The messages Santorum is trying to use to win the nomination won’t help the Republicans wi n in November,” she adds.Despite Santorum’s momentum, Mitt Romney still remains the most visible of the Republican candidates, but criticism is mounting as Santorum’s positions and CPAC have awkwardly drawn him towards the right.Meanwhile, coverage of President Obama has been more issues-focused, but media criticism and subsequent struggles with his overall approval remain clear, especially as he’s been drawn into social battles on issues originally intended to address household financial issues, such as the mandatory insurance coverage of birth control.Broader financial concerns also continue to loom as the media’s coverage tone on the economy has dropped sharply in 2012, and heavy negativity may particularly impact both consumer confidence and the opinion of voters.

Mediachannel1.org: Censorship By Top Social Media Websites

Facebook pays low-wage foreign workers to delete certain content based upon a censorship list. For example, Facebook deletes accounts created by Palestinian resistance groups.

Digg was caught censoring stories which were controversial or too critical of the government. See this and this.

Now, even social media site Reddit — which helped launch the 
anti-Sopa Internet blackout and publicize GoDaddy’s slimy Sopa support — 
is doing the same thing.

CW: Will Greece Default Anyway? Comstock Partners:  According to their own public comments, the EU, ECB and IMF do not have much confidence that their agreement with Greece will avert default. Instead they are apparently trying to isolate Greece, delay its eventual default, prevent contagion, and hope that somehow they can muddle their way out of a seemingly insoluble problem. Even at best, however, Europe will go through a recession, and possibly, a very deep one if everything doesn’t go exactly right

Naked Capitalism:  It’s always a pleasant surprise to see a TV program have a long form discussion on a fairly technical topic. Readers should enjoy the RT interview of Caitlin Kline and Alexis Goldstein of Occupy the SEC on its Volcker Rule comments. They discussed the major areas they were concerned with and some loopholes in the draft regulations.

RT DISCUSSES THE VOLCKER RULE

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WATCH

Special Treat, courtesy of Philip Harris: an amazing 44 minute talk “because taking a moral stand when it’s unpopular or difficult to do is really when it truly counts” — Susan Abulhawa — Penn BDS conference opening talk, February 4, 2012

Thanks for tuning in. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

 

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Iran Says It Won’t Build Nuclear Weapons, Is Satan The Enemy?; Obama’s Pro-War Strategy

February 24th, 2012 - by:

Iran Says It Won’t Build Nuclear Weapons, Is Satan The Enemy?; Obama’s Pro-War Strategy Posted in the Category: Uncategorized

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 Listen Today, 1-2 PM News Dissector Radio Hour, PRN.FM  Guests: Barry James Dyke, author of The Pirates of Manhattan on how banks are stealing our savings; and Gary Weiss, investigative reporter and author or AYN RAND NATION; The Hidden Struggle For America’s Soul. Podcast will be in the Progressive Radio Network archives.

Quote of the Day from the late Carl Sagan:

One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge ~ even to ourselves ~ that we’ve been so credulous. So the old bamboozles tend to persist as the new bamboozles rise.” ~Carl Sagan~

PressTV: Iran Will Never Seek Nuclear Weapons: Leader

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the Iranian nation has never sought and will never seek nuclear weapons as it has the capacity to challenge the nuclear-backed influence such powers rely on.

In a Wednesday meeting in Tehran with the director and officials of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and nuclear scientists the Leader described the country’s nuclear and technological achievements further in line with national interests and beneficial for the future of the country.

“The Iranian nation has never pursued and will never pursue nuclear weapons,” said Ayatollah Khamenei.

“There is no doubt that the decision makers in the countries opposing us know well that Iran is not after nuclear weapons because the Islamic Republic, logically, religiously and theoretically, considers the possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin and believes the proliferation of such weapons is senseless, destructive and dangerous.”

“If nations are allowed to independently make progress in the fields of nuclear energy, aerospace, science, technology and industry, there will be no room left for the tyrannical dominance of world powers,” said the Leader.

“Sanctions have been in place since the victory of the Islamic Revolution while the nuclear issue is a matter of the past few years; therefore their (the West) real problem is with a nation that has decided to be independent.”

Gareth Porter, IPS: Why Iran Is Holding Back on International Inspections

WASHINGTON, Feb 23, 2012 (IPS) – The failure of a mission by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to get Iranian permission to visit a military testing site mentioned in its latest report has been interpreted in media coverage as a stall to avoid the discovery of confirming evidence of past work on nuclear weapons.

But the history of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA on carrying out inspections at the Parchin military testing centre, as well as a previous IAEA-Iran work program agreement, suggests that Iran is keeping permission for such a visit as bargaining leverage to negotiate a better deal with the agency.

The IAEA statement Wednesday emphasised the fact that the mission to Tehran had been denied permission to visit the site at Parchin. That prompted Associated Press correspondent in Vienna George Jahn to called Iran’s refusal to agree to an IAEA visit to Parchin “stonewalling” and evidence of “hard line resistance” to international pressure on its nuclear program.

As The Ayatollahs Denounce The Great Satan, Santorum Says Satan Targets America, Obama Wages ‘Spiritual War’

Here’s How Taiwan’s NMA animators see it.

Rick Santorum’s speech to Ave Maria University students in 2008, in which he warned Satan is targeting America and spoke of a spiritual war with Barack Obama, resurfaced this week. The former Pennsylvania senator and current GOP presidential candidate spoke his mind about what he thinks is ailing the country…Satan. Speaking just weeks before the 2008 presidential election, Santorum claimed the battle between McCain and Obama was neither a political nor cultural war, but a spiritual wa

The Hill: Obama tells Univision he’ll be in White House ‘another five years’

President Obama declared Monday that his presidency “is not over” and that he’ll be occupying the White House for another five years.

In an interview with Univision, a seemingly confident Obama said he’ll have more time to work on hot-button issues like immigration in his next term.

“Well, first of all…my presidency is not over,” Obama, who just a few months ago described himself as an underdog in the presidential race, said in a telephone interview.

“I’ve got another five years coming up. We’re going to get this done,” he said.

The Hill: Obama accuses GOP of playing politics with higher gas prices

President Obama railed against Republicans on Thursday for “licking their chops” and using a spike in gas prices as a political opportunity.

Appearing at the University of Miami in a high profile speech on energy, Obama aimed to deflect the criticism his administration has received for failed energy policies and higher gas prices.

Obama sought to telegraph a message that he is doing all he can to improve energy policy while accusing Republicans of politicizing the issue.

“Only in politics do people greet bad news so enthusiastically,” Obama said before a crowd of students, according to his prepared remark

Critiquing Obama’s Tax Windfall for Corporations

IPA: Scott Klinger,  director of tax policy for Business for Shared Prosperity. says:  “President Obama’s tax framework spotlights some very important themes, including closing corporate tax loopholes and curtailing the abuse of offshore tax havens, but the devil is in the details. Until the President proposes a rate for his global minimum tax, we remain concerned that this positive idea could be turned into a permanent tax break for tax-dodging U.S. multinational corporations. Moreover, the tax framework places too much emphasis on lowering the corporate tax rate and not enough on raising corporate tax collections from their historically low levels. U.S. corporations pay far less toward the cost of public services and infrastructure than they did in decades past and less than their foreign competitors pay in their countries today.

The reality is that large U.S. businesses, as a whole, are undertaxed, not overtaxed. In 2011, total corporate federal taxes fell to just 12.1 percent of domestic profits and corporate taxes accounted for just 7.9 percent of all federal revenue. Moreover, as a percentage of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, the corporate tax share was just 1.2 percent. All these levels are historically, irresponsibly low.”

Job Promotion for Larry Summers? What’s Your View?

In less than 24 hours, Ultraviolet has collected more than 37,000 signatures asking President Obama not to nominate Larry Summers as head of the World Bank, due to his long history of making sexist comments. 

The petition was started by UltraViolet – a new online community of more than 250,000 women and men in every state, fighting to expand women’s rights and combat sexism everywhere: from politics and government, to media and pop culture.

You can see the email from Ultraviolet below. The petition is here: http://act.weareultraviolet.org/sign/summerswb

This is all well in good, but why no comment on Summers lousy job as Economic Advisor and loyalty to the banks. It seems to me his support for corporate interests deserves more condemnation

Shelly Palmer: The White House announced plans to create a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights that will place restrictions on how Internet companies can use your data.

Simon Johnson, BaselineScenario.com on Secrecy At The Fed

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that during the 1980s that the Fed’s board held 20 to 30 public meetings a year, but these dwindled during the Greenspan years to less than five a year in the 2000s and “only two public meetings since July 2010.” At the same time, “the Fed has taken on a much larger regulatory role than at any time in history” – including “47 separate votes on financial regulations” since July 2010, The Journal said.
This high level of secrecy is a concern. It is particularly alarming when combined with the disproportionate access afforded to industry participants in the arguments about what constitutes sensible financial reform.

HP: Arlen Specter: Santorum Is Wrong
Former Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.), took issue Thursday morning with former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s claim that he made a deal to support judicial nominees,…

The Nation: Occupy Wall Street and The Politics of a Disorderly World

WP: DA’s Bid For Occupiers Tweets Spurs Privacy Battle

WP: Not Approved by GA: OWS Says It Is Not Endorsing Occupy Convention–Yet

Song: (t/h Naomi Pinson) The Right Is Taking Women’s Rights Away But Were They Really Using Them?

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 World News
LBN: U.S. TROOPS KILLED IN QURAN PROTEST: The fallout from the burning of Qurans at U.S. base in Afghanistan has claimed the lives of two U.S. troops. An Afghan official tells CBS that an Afghan soldier shot the soldiers out of anger over the burning of the holy books. Protests over the incident have raged for three days in Afghanistan. Afghan police fired shots to disperse a mob of protesters who tried to break into a U.S. military base in eastern Afghanistan.

AP: Gingrich Criticizes US apology on Quran Burnings

AJE: Bradley Manning Charged With Treason

AJE: Putin Says He Will Be Victorious

UN: Syria Accused of Crimes Against Humanity

AJE: Former UN SG Kofi Anan Named UN-Arab Envoy on Syria

NYT: Syria Hobbled By Deep Divisions In Opposition

CLG: Nations to call on Syria to agree to cease-fire or face yet-to-be named respond;’Friends of Syria’ ready ultimatum for Assad

The United States, European and Arab nations are set deliver a stern warning to Syrian President Bashar Assad that he must agree to an immediate cease-fire and allow humanitarian aid into areas hardest hit by ‘his regime’s brutal crackdown on opponents’ or face as-yet unspecified punishments and an increasingly emboldened and powerful armed resistance. On the eve of a major international conference on Syria in Tunisia, U.S., European and Arab officials worked out details of the demands in London on Thursday as the former United Nations chief, Kofi Annan, was named to be a joint U.N.-Arab League envoy to deal with the crisis. Russia and China, foes of any foreign intervention in Syria, reiterated their opposition to an international resolution.

SyrianTaskForce.org says: “This revolution was started by the Syrian people as a bid for dignity and freedom from the tyrannical Assad Regime. It is a revolution for all Syrians, of all faiths and backgrounds and enjoys support from all segments of society. We call upon the United States Government and the American public to be vigilant, and not to be fooled by the Regime’s attempts to use Al’Qaeda as a distraction from the real issue that every day the Assad Regime kills more and more innocent civilians while the international community remains silent and idle. We demand that a humanitarian corridor be established immediately so that medical aid and humanitarian supplies can reach affected areas and civilians will be protected.
Raw Story: Stewart, Colbert, Fox News and host of U.S. lawmakers sent threatening letters

Dissector Essay: Memo To The POTUS —Eyes Only: From The Department of Pre-War Planning

Here are excerpts from a “secret document” whose authenticity cannot be authenticated,  perhaps because I wrote it myself

As you requested, here is the scenario for how we can launch a war on Iran while publicly denying we are doing so.

This is a digest of the multi-dimensional and multi-track strategy that is in place, and is being pursued simultaneously in a coordinated manner, by The Executive Branch, Defense Department, State Department, and all intelligence agencies.

This strategy involves three core missions:

l. PREPARING THE PUBLIC

Thanks to our media friends and assets, we have been orchestrating a campaign that, at the same time, demonizes Iran’s leaders, while reinforcing our own posture as favoring defensive diplomacy, promoting global security and peace while refusing be led by aggressive Israeli demands.  Our financial sanctions are being explained as a way to press Iran to limit its nuclear ambitions, and not bankrupt the regime.

Our media and public diplomacy campaign is working. The public can be conditioned into supporting us. The Pew Center has released a study showing, “The public (now) supports tough measures – including the possible use of military force – to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Nearly six-in-ten (58%) say it is more important to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, even if it means taking military action. Just 30% say it is more important to avoid a military conflict with Iran, even if it means that country develops nuclear weapons. These opinions are little changed from October 2009.

There have been reports in recent weeks that Israel may soon attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. About half of Americans (51%) say the United States should remain neutral if Israel takes action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, but far more say the U.S. should support (39%) than oppose (5%) an Israeli attack.”

Israel is working with us in this effort, although. Like, in the laws governing the “SUPER PACS,” we can’t be seen to be “coordinating” with each other

The Israel Lobby has been pushing for a tougher stand against Syria and Iran, as are the NeoCon “intellectuals” and even, increasingly, “liberal” hawks who support humanitarian intervention.

The response to the crisis in Syria shows how easily a pro-intervention consensus can be achieved, as David Rieff points out:

“What is surprising, though, is that despite the disaster of Iraq, looming withdrawal in what will amount to defeat in Afghanistan, and, to put it charitably, the ambiguous result of the U.N.-sanctioned, NATO-led, and Qatari-financed intervention that brought down Muammar al-Qaddafi’s regime, is how nearly complete the consensus for strong action has been even among less hawkish liberals, whether what is done takes the form of the United States and its NATO allies arming the Free Syrian Army, opening so-called humanitarian corridors, or encouraging Turkey and a coalition of the willing within the Arab League to do so.”

Even critics of our policy—and of the media—are reporting about how supportive our media has become to our narrative and its aims. Glenn Greenwald wrote in Salon, “Many have compared the coordinated propaganda campaign now being disseminated about The Iranian Threat to that which preceded the Iraq War, but there is one notable difference. Whereas the American media in 2002 followed the lead of the U.S. government in beating the war drums against Saddam, they now seem even more eager for war against Iran than the U.S. government itself, which actually appears somewhat reluctant.”

Greenwald goes on to denounce network news stories, but the lack and background among viewers is unlikely to resonate with a public that is getting our message to the exclusion of others.

Example: He writes stridently about one ABC report, this way:  “It’s a perfect museum exhibit for how empty-headed American media stars uncritically recite whatever they are told by government officials, exaggerate or fabricate bad acts by the designated Enemy du Jour while ignoring and suppressing the precipitating acts of America and its client states, and just generally do whatever they can to keep fear levels and war thirst as high as possible. This is nothing short of irresponsible propagandistic trash:

These denunciations don’t work with the public:  We are still being seen as responding to public demands for security rather than creating them the way President Bush did.

2.PREPARING THE BATTLEFIELD

Efforts are underway to prepare the military for a future campaign. The 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, has already expanded its presence near the Straits of Hormuz. Troops are carrying our exercises on Islands off the coast of Yemen, near Iran. While the Iranians did capture one of our drones, our satellite surveillance is being strengthened.

The Administration’s commitment to covert operations under the supervision of Admiral William T. McRaven who successfully ran the mission to eliminate bin Laden is in charge with the full support al the covert services including pysops teams, and more than 66,000 men and women running these secretive operations.

We are getting more public support for these efforts that mimic Hollywood movies and video games, even as critic Bill Van Auken explained recently, “The Obama administration has relied ever more heavily on these elite military units, which have become what amounts to a secret army under the command of the US president and accountable to no one. JSOC, like the CIA, has been empowered to draw up kill lists of alleged terrorists and launch assassination missions. …

The increasing reliance on such methods has been facilitated by the embrace of militarism and imperialism by a layer of the affluent upper-middle class that previously was identified with anti-war sentiments. Typical of this milieu is Newsweek editor Tina Brown, who penned a nauseating editorial recently praising Obama for being “the Caped Crusader when it comes to commanding America’s killing machine.” She described a recent exploit by American special ops forces in Somalia as “like hearing from afar the lost chords of ‘America the Beautiful,’” adding that “Seal Team 6 has become a more vivid symbol of the power of the great American idea than positive GDP statistics.”

3. PREPARING THE WORLD

Tim Geithner and Secretary Clinton have been cris-crossing the globe winning support for Anti-Iranian policies. They have got the whole world scared and uncertain in part by selectively leaking information that feeds fear, and reinforces the sense that “we have to do something!”

The tough new sanctions on Iraqi oil in Europe was not expected, and now that Iran is threatening to retaliate by not selling oil to the countries sanctioning them, there will be even more support for UN measure that could lead to military operations.  Especially if the world develops a clear sense of the “existential threat” that Israel already expresses about Iran’s nuclear program. Russia and China remain a problem. They are worried about “regime change.” Note, like in Libya, we never use that term!

War may still be averted but the danger of war will dominate the news for the months to come, setting up a psychological background to the election campaign and likely convincing the public that they would be best served by keeping your Administration in office.

Author’s note: While this document is a work of the imagination, it is grounded in real world threats and counter threats and may likely echo some of the real policy rationales and options being debated privately in Washington.

Daily Beast: Tehran and Washington have discovered a surprising common bond: to pretend that they might be heading toward serious negotiations to curb Iran’s nuclear capacity. What’s more, they are pretending for the same reason: to ward off an Israeli attack on Iran.
Their moves are barely noticeable—vague diplomatic pronouncements, op-eds, lots of behind-the-scenes orchestration by Russia. They don’t want much attention—just enough to persuade Israel to wait on military action, to buy time. The American line is that the economic sanctions are working and weakening Tehran’s will. Iran’s line is we’re willing to compromise, but we’re not going to be pushovers.
Of course, there is no actual collusion between Iran and the United States; they don’t trust each other. But both have reached the conclusion that war is worse than continued uncertainty—at least for the time being, as far as the United States is concerned.

Your comments welcome to Dissector@mediachannel.org

Visit Mediachannel1.org for more media analysis

 

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Activists In Iran Appeal To Westerners: Support Us, Don’t Defend Regime, NYPD Caught In A Lie

February 23rd, 2012 - by:

Activists In Iran Appeal To Westerners: Support Us, Don’t Defend Regime, NYPD Caught In  A Lie Posted in the Category: Uncategorized

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•My Latest Critique of NY Times Coverage on NYTeXaminer.com.

•Tonight at 5 PM, I will be joining Reporter Gary at 5 Pm On PalTalk.com

•Tomorrow 1-2 PM: Barry James Dyke, The Pirates of Manhattan on News Dissector Radio, PRN.fm

Quote of the Day, Marie Colvin (RSN), Killed Covering Conflict In Syria

‘”Covering a war means going to places torn by chaos, destruction and death, and trying to bear witness. It means trying to find the truth in a sandstorm of propaganda when armies, tribes or terrorists clash. And yes, it means taking risks, not just for yourself but often for the people who work closely with you.”

Tom Goltz Remembers Marie: ” I frequently stayed at her place in London when passing through; she was married to Juan Carlos at the time, who was even then starting his long slide down the war-correspondent’s familiar terminal tunnel with depression due to Too-Many-Sights-Seen syndrome. To my knowledge, Marie never showed a symptom or breathed a word about being sick of what she did so well: get in there and get out with the story.
The last time I saw her was in London circa 2003 or ’04 after she had lost her eye in Sri Lanka shelling: she was under a special type of medicine/therapy regime because her good eye was trying to ‘mirror’ her dead one and go blind as well; Marie took that right in stride, fought back and kept her vision.”

Injustice Alert

I had dinner with my brother Bill  last night in New York who  told me about a former student of his at Lincoln Sudbury High School outside of Boston who was just convicted of terrorism. He is expected to sentenced by the most conservative judge in New England to LIFE IMPRISONMENT.

His crime seems to be one of translation, not any overt act of violence.

The ACLU in New England has denounced the trial  as incredibly flawed. They say the decision threatens researchers and journalists.

This case has not received a lot of national attention although it should.  For more information,  go to this website. For more, Google Tarek Mehanna.

The Hill: And Now Romney Has a Tax “Plan: Romney would cut personal tax rates across the board by 20 percent–another present for the rich!

Mitt Romney released a new tax plan Wednesday that calls for a 20 percent across-the-board cut to individual tax rates.

Romney would also reduce the corporate tax rate and put an end to the capital gains tax for most taxpayers.

The new proposal follows up on Romney’s 59-point plan and seemed intended to bigfoot the corporate tax reform proposal unveiled by the Obama administration on Wednesday. Romney slammed Obama’s proposal after the GOP candidate released his own ideas.

Romney’s proposal would reduce the top 28 percent tax rate to 23.4 percent. The bottom 10 percent rate would be reduced from 10 percent to 8 percent.

Time: Cutting The Corporate Tax Rate a la Obama’s Proposal Won’t Create Jobs

Yesterday, President Obama announced a long-awaited proposal to cut corporate taxes in America, which U.S. businesses complain are much too high by international standards. The proposed reform is intended to prevent companies from shifting operations and earnings to tax havens (paging Mitt Romney!) and instead encourage companies to bring them back into the U.S., where they could create jobs and growth.

What’s being missed in all this is that the corporate tax debate and the jobs debate are two separate things. Here’s why.

America has the second highest corporate tax rate in the rich world. But most American businesses don’t pay it. The President is suggesting that the corporate tax rate drop from 35% to 28%. But as my colleague Fareed Zakaria wrote a few months back in Time, few of the biggest U.S. businesses are paying that rate right now; indeed, most are paying much less – 115 of the companies in the S & P 500 paid less than 20% in tax over the last five years. And 39 firms paid less than 10%.

That gets at the key issue: Fundamentally, lower taxes aren’t the reason that businesses choose to invest, or not, in a certain country. As Warren Buffett told me when I interviewed him late last year, “The idea that American business is at a big disadvantage against the rest of the world because of corporate taxes is baloney in my view. In the 50s and 60s, corporate taxes were 52%, and we were making all kinds of [job] gains.”

RobertReich.com:  Corporations Don’t Need a Tax Cut, So Why Is Obama Proposing One?

Why isn’t the White House just proposing to close the loopholes without reducing overall corporate tax rates? That would generate more tax revenue that could be used for, say, public schools.

Politico: Obama To Close Minority Business Development Offices in Five Regions

Officials from the Commerce Department briefed members of Congress yesterday to inform them that the Obama Administration plans to close all five regional Offices of the Minority Business Development Agency.
According to members at the briefing the reason given was cost savings. The Office of Minority Business Development has a total budget of $30 million dollars. The five regional offices are located in

Santorum Stuck, National Journal: Rick Santorum has certainly been talking about the economy, but he’s scheduling many of his campaign stops before religious audiences, where he makes news with his opinions about gay rights, contraception, religion and other social issues. At some point Santorum has to move beyond the Republican social activists, and to the greater number of voters who rank the economy as the number-one issue.

WP: National debt will balloon under top GOP hopefuls’ tax plans, independent analysis finds

The national debt is likely to balloon under tax policies championed by three of the four major Republican candidates for president, according to an independent analysis of tax and spending proposals so far offered by the candidates.
The lone exception is Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who would pair a big reduction in tax rates with even bigger cuts in government services, slicing about $2 trillion from future borrowing.

According to the report — set for release Thursday by U.S. Budget Watch, a project of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget — former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich would do the most damage to the nation’s finances, offering tax and spending policies likely to require trillions of dollars in fresh borrowing.

Huff Post: Occupy National Convention To Be Held July 4 in Philadelphhia

Threats Against Congress

CLG: Suspicious Letters to Boehner, Coats, and Murray Prompt House-Senate Alert

House and Senate members were alerted on Wednesday that a House member’s district office and at least two senators’ state offices have received threatening mail this week containing a suspicious powdery substance, all later determined to be harmless. Memos sent to members’ offices from the sergeants-at-arms of both chambers notified the lawmakers and their staffs that two of the letters had been received on Tuesday, and that another similar letter was received by the second Senate state office on Wednesday. While the alert memos did not mention which lawmakers had received the packages, three of the incidents occurred in Ohio, Indiana, and Washington state involving offices of House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Patty Murray, D-Wash.

Oakland We Have A problem. Its name is Goldman Sachs

In the activist city of Oakland, CA, unhappy residents on Tuesday night shared their discontent with the city’s bond debt deal with Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs. Multi-colored, homemade signs could be seen at the city council meeting with language that included “Stop the Swap,” “Give the $ Back” and “Not another dollar to Goldman Sachs.”

Palestinian Hunger Striker Prevails:

Richard Falk Comments

Institute for Public Accuracy: Just back in the U.S. from the Mideast, Falk is available for a limited number of interviews. He is the UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights and just wrote the piece “Saving Khader Adnan’s Life and Legacy,” which states: “It is a great relief to those millions around the world who were moved to prayer and action by Khader Adnan’s extraordinary hunger strike of 66 days that has ended due to Israel’s agreement to release him on April 17. …

“While it is appropriate to celebrate this ending of the strike as ‘a victory,’ there are several disturbing features that deserve comment. To call an arrangement that saved someone’s life a ‘deal,’ as the media consistently put it, is itself demeaning, and reveals at the very least a failure to appreciate the gravity and deep dedication of purpose that is bound up with such a nonviolent form of resistance.

“Similarly, the carelessness of the initial reactions was notable, often referring to Mr. Adnan’s ‘release’ when in fact he will be still held in administrative detention for several more weeks, and could conceivably be confined much longer, should Israeli military authorities unilaterally decide that “substantial evidence” against him emerges in this period immediately ahead. It should be noted that on matters of principle, Israel gave not an inch: even in relation to Mr. Adnan, he will remain in captivity and will be subject to the “legal” possibility that his period of imprisonment could be extended indefinitely; beyond this, Israeli authorities conceded no intention whatsoever to review the cases of the 309 other Palestinians who are presently being held under the administrative detention procedure. …

“What was entirely missing from the Israeli public discourse was some expression of compassion, even if only for the family of Mr. Adnan, which consists of two daughters of four years or younger and his articulate pregnant wife, Randa. There was not even the slightest show of respect for the dignity of Mr. Adnan’s long hunger strike or sympathy for the acute suffering that accompanies such a determined foregoing of food for an extended period.

From Pro-Publica: NYPD Caught In another Whopper

In his first piece for ProPublica, Justin Elliott reports that contrary to previous denials from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, it appears as though members of the NYPD did spy on members of Newark’s Muslim community based on their religion — and not because of a terror threat.

Elliott reports, “Back in August 2011, after the AP published the first story in its series documenting the NYPD’s extensive surveillance and investigation of Muslims, Bloomberg denied that the NYPD launched investigations based on religion in the absence of suspicion of a crime.  ‘If there are threats or leads to follow, then the NYPD’s job is to do it.  The law is pretty clear about what’s the requirement and I think they follow the law….We don’t stop to think about the religion.  We stop to think about the threats and focus our efforts there.’”

A recent Associated Press story detailed how undercover NYPD officers investigated the Muslim community in Newark, NJ, producing a secret report profiling mosques, Islamic schools, stores and restaurants where Muslims congregated and ate.  The surveillance project was undertaken despite the fact that there was “no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior.  It was a guide to Newark’s Muslims.”

Elliott continues, Ray Kelly echoed Bloomberg in comments under questioning from the city council.  ‘We simply follow leads,’ Kelly said.  ‘Now those leads may take us into religious institutions, it may be people in a particular religion.  But we’re going to follow those leads wherever they take us.  We’re not going to be deterred, but we’re certainly not singling out any particular group.’”  However, “the secret dossier on Newark published by the AP shows the NYPD both thinking about religion and singling out a particular group, in the apparent absence of any leads.”

Media

EJC: UK: Al Jazeera English named channel of the year  (AJE Channel Still Unvailable in Most Of the USA!)

Al Jazeera English has been named News Channel of the Year at this year’s Royal Television Society Awards. Tuesday’s award saw the five-year-old broadcaster beating competitors including BBC News and Sky News. The Qatar-based channel earned praise for its frontline coverage of the Arab Spring, including the protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and for being the first on the scene to report the death of Muammar Gaddafi, the former Libyan leader. Additionally, the network’s social media programme, The Stream, received the Innovative News Award for its in-depth analysis of the struggle between government loyalists and opposition protesters in Bahrain. The year-old DC-based program which relies heavily on social media platforms and Skype interviews for its content, brought the ongoing protests in Bahrain to the forefront and featured an intense Skype debate between Suhail Algosaibi, a government loyalist, and Zainab al-Khawajah, a Bahraini activist. Utilising content from micro-blogging service Twitter, social networking site Facebook, and video sharing site YouTube, the programme featured a series of questions posed by members of the public directly to the show’s participants via these platforms. The annual RTS Awards are decided by balanced juries of media professionals.(Al Jazeera)

•The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is calling for a global coalition against censorship at a time when repressive governments, “militants” and criminal groups around the world are controlling information to maintain their grip on power.

•Nine groups including Public Knowledge, Media Access Project, the Writers Guild of America, West and Sprint Nextel are petitioning the FCC to block the sale of advanced wireless spectrum from cable operators to Verizon, or absent that it refer it for hearing before an administrative law judge, claiming the deal will negatively and fundamentally alter the telecom landscape.

Why This Matters: The opposition doesn’t think Verizon should get more spectrum and they believe the deal will enable the MSOs — Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House (SpectrumCo) and Cox – to collude rather than compete for customers. For its part, Comcast believes that offering such services will benefit its customers by bundling voice, video, broadband and now wireless.

CPD: Democracy Struggles

Raha Iranian Feminist Collective has written an extraordinary article “Solidarity and Its Discontents,” that should be read by every peace activist and anti-war group in this country. We are pleased to reprint the article below, which concludes with these words

      “There is no contradiction between opposing every instance of US meddling in Iran–and every other country–and supporting the popular, democratic struggles of ordinary Iranians against dictatorship. Effective international solidarity requires that the two go hand in hand, for example, by linking the struggles of political prisoners in Iran and with those of political prisoners in the US, not by counterposing them. Iranian dissidents, like dissidents in the US, see their own government as their main enemy. The fact that Iranian activists also have to deal with sanctions and threats of military action from the US only makes their work and their lives more difficult. The US and Iranian governments are, of course, not equal in their global reach, but both stand in the way of popular democracy and human liberation. US-based activists must not undermine the brave and endangered work of Iranian opposition groups by supporting the regime that is ruthlessly trying to crush them.

We are calling for a rethinking of what internationalism and international solidarity means from the vantage point of activists working in the US. Internationalism has to start from below, from the differently articulated aspirations of mass movements against state militarism, dictatorship, economic crisis, gender, sexual, religious, class and ethnic oppression, in Iran, in the US and all over the world. For activists in the US, this means being against sanctions on Iran, whether they are in the name of “human rights” or the nuclear issue. It means refusing to cast the US as the land of progress and freedom while Iran is demonized as backward and oppressive. Solidarity is not charity or pity; it flows from an understanding of mutual–though far from identical–struggle. It means consistent opposition to human rights violations in the US, to the rampant sexism and homophobia that lead to violence and destroy people’s lives right here. But we don’t have to hide another state’s brutality behind our complaints about conditions in America. We have to be just as clear in condemning state crimes against activists, journalists and others in Iran, just as critical of the Iranian versions of neo-liberalism and oligarchy, of attacks on trade unions, women and students, as we are of the US versions.”

Fluent: Panetta’s Way With Words

Analysis: A friend of mine, Andrew Leung, Looks At The World From Hong Kong

Across the globe, undercurrents of a new ball game are intensifying in what promises to be a fateful 2012.

The Euro project is showing glaring structural fault lines. The can has been kicked down several times to the end of the road. Notwithstanding the latest bailout package, it remains highly doubtful whether Greece could fulfill the conditions. A Greek default remains hanging on the precipice. The endgame is near.

The Euro drama is only a part of the changing global dynamics following presidential elections in the US, Russia and France and the leadership transition in China. Even in Hong Kong, the process of “electing” a new Chief Executive has been volatile.

Added to the uncertainty is an ongoing Arab Spring, which, ironically, has proved to weaken rather than strengthen Western influence in the Arab world. Democratically-elected but less West-friendly political Islam is serially replacing falling dominoes of traditional pro-West Arab autocracies.

Nor are the sands shifting only in lands faraway. On both sides of the Atlantic, an internet-savvy and more educated citizenry is taking to the streets against a democratic system apparently stacked to their disadvantage.

Meanwhile, the world order left over after the Second World War seems to be past its sell-by date. New global actors like China, Russia, Iran and Turkey are increasingly gaining influence.

While a rear-guard battle still rages to perpetuate a world order dominated by US exceptionalism, a multi-polar world is clearly emerging. The first half of the 21st century looks likely to be defined by the extant super-power- the United States, and China as an aspirant…..

Fluent: ‘Consumer watchdog to look into overdraft fees’

Fluent: Karzai urges calm in Afghanistan Koran burning row’ 

Fluent: BP Guilty! Judge: BP Liable for Civil Penalties for Oil Spill’

 Auto Sale

FBI WATCH:Matt Hardigree,  Own The $750,000 Ferrari F50 Wrecked By The FBI

A low-mileage Ferrari F50 with a great story is up for auction and the bidding’s at only $65,000. There are few caveats. It has a salvage title. And that great story? An FBI agent who seized it wrecked the car in Kentucky and it’s been sitting around since 2009. Get out your checkbooks!

This story begins back in 2003 when the car was stolen from a dealership in Pennsylvania. The FBI came across the vehicle in 2008 during a separate investigation in Kentucky and seized the rare and valuable V12 Ferrari F50 supercar. An agent tasked with moving the vehicle wrecked the Ferrari, blaming “bald tires” instead of driving ability.

A showdown between the FBI and the insurance company ensued, with the FBI saying they didn’t owe any money. A lawsuit was filed but the case was dismissed in court last September because the vehicle was being detained and thus the government wasn’t liable for any damages.

Honoring South Africa’s Jazz Greats

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Affirmative Action Now At Risk As Supremes Take New Case, What Violence Does Media Cover?

February 22nd, 2012 - by:

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Real News Network, My Latest Essay: The Road To Nowhere

Please help us notify NewsDissector Readers that Danny Schechter’s daily blog is now at NewsDissector.net

NYT: Is Affirmative Action On The Supreme Court Chopping Block
WASHINGTON — In a 2003 decision that the majority said it expected would last for 25 years, the Supreme Court allowed public colleges and universities to take account of race in admission decisions. On Tuesday, the court signaled that it might end such affirmative action much sooner than that.

By agreeing to hear a major case involving race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas, the court thrust affirmative action back into the public and political discourse after years in which it had mostly faded from view. Both supporters and opponents of affirmative action said they saw the announcement — and the change in the court’s makeup since 2003 — as a signal that the court’s five more-conservative members might be prepared to do away with racial preferences in higher education.

The consequences of such a decision would be striking. It would, all sides agree, reduce the number of African-American and Latino students at nearly every selective college and graduate school, with more Asian-American and white students gaining entrance instead.

A decision barring the use of race in admission decisions would undo an accommodation reached in the Supreme Court’s 5-to-4 decision in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger: that public colleges and universities could not use a point system to boost minority enrollment but could take race into account in vaguer ways to ensure academic diversity.

Supporters of affirmative action reacted with alarm to the court’s decision to hear the case. “I think it’s ominous,” said Lee Bollinger, the president of Columbia University, who, as president of the University of Michigan, was a defendant in the Grutter case . “It threatens to undo several decades of effort within higher education to build a more integrated and just and educationally enriched environment.”

Release: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas got 100,000 messages last week telling him to do the right thing.

We carried those 100,000 messages to the court’s front door in a petition demanding that Justice Thomas disqualify himself from the big health reform case that will be decided by June.

Health Care for America Now and The Other 98% went to the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., and delivered a 334-foot long petition demanding that Thomas recuse himself because of his blatant disregard for legal ethics.

Senators Demand Investigation
WASHINGTON, Feb. 21 – A group of U.S. senators today asked the Government Accountability Office to study what they called an “alarming number” of new state laws that will make it “significantly harder” for millions of eligible voters to cast ballots this November.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sent a letter asking the non-partisan research arm of Congress for the review of new laws in at least 14 states.
Violence:  Media Interest Depends on Who Commits It: Tom Englehardt on Rebecca’s Solnits latest

….“violence” within and by the Occupy movement in this country — we’re talking about several sexual assaults in Occupy camps, a suicide, drug use, and a small amount of property damage, bottles thrown, and the like by outliers at Occupy demonstrations — has in certain quarters somehow been enough to discredit the movement, even in some cases to paint it as a kind of living nightmare.  Such violence, minimal as it might have been, instantly discredited Occupy on the American landscape.

This, mind you, in a society in which 14,000 murders were committed in 2011, in which more than 30,000 people died in traffic accidents, in which a recent Pentagon report indicated that violent sexual crimes in the military have risen by 64% since 2006 (95% against women, even though they make up only 14% of the force’s personnel).  And yet somehow, neither weapons, nor cars, nor the U.S. military is discredited by such violence.

It would, in fact, be surprising to imagine that a movement whose camps actually welcomed, housed, and fed those essentially thrown away by this society would lack problems. In truth, Occupy should have been hailed for its assault on violence at every level in this society.  Nothing could be more striking in Solnit’s piece than the statistic she cites on the remarkably unnoticed drop in violence in Oakland, California, in the weeks before Occupy Oakland itself was violently assaulted by that city’s police force.

The Hill: Obama: Payroll tax cut extension will help with higher gas prices

Basking in the glory of his recent payroll tax cut victory, President Obama urged Congress on Tuesday to move ahead on other policies he put forward that will help improve the economy and benefit middle class Americans.

“My message to Congress is, ‘Don’t stop here. Keep going,” Obama said at the White House in a 10-minute victory lap speech.

“Keep taking the action that people are calling for to keep this economy growing,” Obama said before a diverse group of Americans who had written the president to explain how the extension would help them.

Obama briefly touched on the “rising cost of gas, which is on a lot of people’s minds right now,” and said they payroll tax extension will help families who are struggling to fill their tanks.

Fearing a repeat of their December defeat, Republicans retreated on the payroll tax extension. The GOP hopes to now pivot to gas prices, where they believe they can hammer the Obama administration, especially if drivers pay more and more at the pump through Labor Day.’

NYT:  WASHINGTON — President Obama will ask Congress to scrub the corporate tax code of dozens of loopholes and subsidies to reduce the top rate to 28 percent, down from 35 percent, while giving preferences to manufacturers that would set their maximum effective rate at 25 percent, a senior administration official said on Tuesday.

AlJazeera: Will Obama Win A Second Term? This Political Scientist Says Yes

Boston Globe: Obama Fundraising Not Keeping Up With 2008

LA Times: Labor Unions Are Backing Democrats This Year

M&G: Left In Us Rising, Occupy Has Candidate

What Jesse Jackson Could Teach Ron Paul

From someone in the Know: Outside of Ron Walters speaking on TV, this is the first mainstream ink or attention that is semi literate, semi insightful, semi knowledgeable and halfway revealing about what Reverend Jackson  did in 84 and 88. The connection and premise of the article is a good one. More importantly, the writer actually connects Jackson strategy not only as a watershed moment and a blue print but as the direct link to structural change in Democratic party that led to rise of Barack Obama. That negotiation and change that Reverend leveraged and won is never spelled out anywhere by anyone. I’m not fully clear on the technicality of it. This writer just spoke to it at least directly if not in detail. WOW. untold story.

LBN: Casino Mogul and  Supporter of Right-Wing Israeli Causes May Give $100 Million to Gingrich

Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson said he would give up to $100 million to Newt Gingrich or another GOP candidate, according to a rare interview in Forbes magazine published Tuesday. Its unfair that Ive been treated unfair but it doesnt stop me. I might give $10 million or $100 million to Gingrich, he said.

Democracy for America Announces 10 Ten Candidates It Will Back

Burlington, VT – Democracy for America (DFA) announced the top ten winners of the first round of voting in the Grassroots All-Stars Contest. With 70,000 votes, this is the largest endorsement contest DFA has hosted to date. The winners of the first round will compete in a second round for the top prize.

The top ten winners are:

1)Alan Grayson FL – 27
2)Ilya Sheyman IL – 10
3)Norman Solomon CA – 02
4)Jose Hernandez CA – 10
5)Mark Pocan WI – 02
6)Lois Frankel FL – 22
7)Angela Zimmann OH – 5
8)Kelda Roys WI – 02
9)Eric Griego NM – 01
10)Annie Kuster NH – 02

“This is a critical year to win back the House and we are getting started on a great note with some real progressive champions who will be fighters and truth-tellers in Congress,” said Jim Dean, Chair of DFA. “With this Grassroots All Stars competition for House challengers, we will begin the largest campaign season in DFA’s history.”

Wars In The Middle East

Mark H Gaffney ICH: Behind the Deepening Crisis with Iran: The Real Story Versus the Cover Story
The American people need to know the truth. This is a phony crisis

Fluent News: ‘Iran manufactures laser-guided artillery shells, Press TV reports

AP: Obama Administration Opens Door to Aid for Syrian Rebels

The Obama administration opened the door slightly Tuesday to international military assistance for Syria’s rebels, with officials saying new tactics may have to be explored if President Bashar Assad continues to defy pressure to halt a brutal crackdown on dissenters.

Two Western Journalists Killed in Syria

Yahoo: AMMAN (Reuters) – Two Western journalists were killed in the besieged Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday when shells hit the house they were staying in, opposition activists and witnesses said. They were Marie Colvin, an American working for Britain’s Sunday Times, and French photographer Remi Ochlik, the Syrian Network for Human Rights said.

RT: Made in Jordan: Thousands of Gunmen Preparing to Fight In Syria?

Over 10,000 Libyans are reportedly being trained in a closed-off zone in Jordan, before being snuck into Syria to fight for the opposition. These men are allegedly paid around US$1,000 a month, funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Economy

LBN: Unemployment in the U.S. rose to nine percent in mid-February, up from 8.3 percent a month earlier, according to a new Gallup survey. The polling company said this suggests that it is premature to assume the economy will not feature prominently in the 2012 election season. Gallup figures typically provide an indication of what the government will report at the end of the month.

Greek Deal Likely To Make Matters Worse: Economy In Collapse Mode

Naked Capitalism’s Yves Smith: In case you managed to miss it, there is supposedly an agreement for Greece to get €130 billion. But then we learn that Greece will still need more dough if it meets its target of reducing government debt to GDP to 120% by 2020 (and why is debt to GDP of 120% seen as sustainable then when it is not seen as sustainable now? And leaked documents further note that Greece might not meet its targets (duh!) and its debt to GDP could instead by 160% of GDP, which would require bailouts of nearly twice the amount now contemplated. And “discussions” are continuing in Brussels into the early morning, which says this deal is about as done as the US mortgage settlement.

Other Voices:
Satyajit Das, derivatives expert: The Greek Prime Minister spoke of a choice between “austerity” and “disorder”. He got both, as the Greek Parliament based the European Union (“EU”) agreed to severe budget cuts and outside rioters protested the plan.

In great dramas, sub-plots support the main story. The story of “hairshirts” (the Greek economic plan) and “haircuts” (the writedown of Greek debt or PSI – Private Sector Involvement) are little more an intriguing side show in the broader European debt crisis.
With Greece increasingly doomed, the real significance of the negotiations is that they provide a template for future European sovereign restructurings. No one buys the oft-stated European leaders’ position that Greece’s position is unique or exceptional. Portugal is first in the line of fire, with the Irish, Spanish and Italians watching anxiously.

It Won’t Work Says Credit Writedowns:  “So Greece has finally been awarded a second bailout. One may wish the country will live to tell the tale. According to IMF DG Christine Lagarde, speaking at the post agreement press conference, “It’s not an easy (program), it’s an ambitious one,”. Never a truer word was said, and certainly not in jest. Not only is the program an ambitious one, it is more than probably a “pie in the sky” one too. The objective of 120% for Greek debt in GDP is totally unrealistic, not because it won’t be attained (it won’t), but because even if it were the country would still be in an unsustainable situation…

Media: Release: Comcast Announces New Minority Networks

Comcast is among the networks that does not offer news From AlJazeera

Comcast Announces Agreements with Four New Minority-Owned Independent NetworksSelected Networks Were Proposed By Earvin “Magic” Johnson, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Robert Rodriguez, and Constantino “Said” Schwartz\PHILADELPHIA, Feb 21, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Comcast Corporation, one of the world’s leading media, entertainment and communications companies, today announced it has selected four new minority-owned independent networks to be broadly distributed on Comcast Cable systems between April 2012 and January 2014. After a thorough evaluation of more than 100 proposals, Comcast selected four networks — two of which are majority African-American owned and two that are majority American Hispanic owned and operated and programmed in English.”– REVOLT: Proposed by superstar and entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs and MTV veteran Andy Schuon, this network is designed to have programming inspired by music and pop culture, including music videos, live performances, music news, and interviews and will incorporate social media interaction for music artists and fans. The network has entered into an agreement to launch in 2013. “REVOLT is the first channel created entirely from the ground up in this new era of social media” said Sean “Diddy” Combs. “We’re building this platform for artists to reach an extraordinary number of people in a completely different way. REVOLT will be live, like all great moments in television history. REVOLT will also be immediate, like today’s social networks. We know it was a highly competitive process and we want to thank Comcast for this opportunity to truly change television with REVOLT.”

Hispanic Category:

– El Rey: Proposed by legendary Hollywood director Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures executives John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa, this network is designed to be an action-packed, general entertainment network in English for Latino and general audiences that includes a mix of reality, scripted and animated series, movies, documentaries, news, music, comedy, and sports programming. The El Rey network will include programming that features Hispanic producers, celebrities and public figures. The network has entered into an agreement to launch by January 2014. “This partnership with Comcast signals an important moment for the Latino community in this country — we are passionate about creating a wildly entertaining destination that we can be proud of by appealing to both Latino and mass market audiences,” said Robert Rodriguez and CEO of FactoryMade Ventures John Fogelman. “We engineered El Rey to address a burgeoning opportunity to deliver unique, high-quality and compelling content to a hard-to-reach demographic and are excited to bring more opportunities to generations of talent, storytellers and dreamers through this special partnership.”

 

– BabyFirst Americas: Proposed by Spanish language television veteran Constantino “Said” Schwarz, this network is designed for infants, very young children, and their parents, and emphasizes the importance of early development of verbal, math and motor skills. The network has entered into an agreement to launch by April 2012. “We are thrilled to partner with Comcast and commend them for recognizing the importance of quality education for young children,” remarked Constantino “Said” Schwarz, CEO and Chairman BabyFirst Americas. “BabyFirst Americas aims to bring the essential academic building blocks for Kindergarten readiness into the home, making it accessible for families all across the U.S.”

 

Comcast made a series of voluntary public interest commitments in connection with the NBCUniversal transaction, one of which is to launch 10 new independently owned and operated networks over the next eight years. Of the 10 networks, four will be majority African-American owned, two will be majority American Latino owned, two will be operated by American Latino programmers, and two will provide additional independent programming. Ultimately, each of the 10 networks will be added on select Comcast systems as part of the digital basic tier of service.

Dean Baker on Joe Nocera’s NY Times Column on Mortgage Settlement

In his column on the mortgage settlement last weekend Joe Nocera praised the fact that it would mean that more people would be able to stay in their homes and that some compensation will be paid to foreclosed homeowners in situations where the banks did not follow the rules. He also criticized those on the left who criticized the deal “before the ink was dry.”

Of course there was a reason to criticize the deal before the ink was dry. The settlement was announced before it was actually finalized. That meant that if the critics wanted to get their views into the same news cycle they had no choice except to criticize a settlement before the ink was even wet.

Nocera’s criticism would be better directed at the attorneys general’s effort to manipulate the news coverage of the settlement.

There are many issues that can be debated about the settlement, but there are three big ones that stand out:

1)    It is not clear what baseline is being used to determine how much is being paid. The banks are already doing some amount of modifications, principle reductions, and short sales. It is not clear how it will be determined that they are going beyond what they would have done anyhow as a result of the settlement.

This means that it will be difficult to determine that the $17 billion in write-downs stipulated in the settlement have actually taken place.

2)    The banks will be able to count write-downs of loans that they are servicing against this sum. These losses will come out of the pockets of the investors in mortgage backed securities, not the banks’ pockets. This means that the defendant in a civil case is effectively being allowed to pay its penalty with someone else’s money. This is at the least unusual.

3)    It is far from clear that the foreclosure abuses that are the basis for the case have been put to an end. An audit of 400 recent foreclosures conducted in San Francisco County indicates that abuses are still pervasive. It is unclear that the servicers are prepared to change their practices and that the attorneys general will take further steps if they do not.

There are many other reasons for criticizing the settlement, but those are my big three. These points were not acknowledged in Nocera’s column praising the settlement.

 Bill, Give It A  Rest!

Bill Keller, former Editor of The Times  trashed Julian Assange in yet another column in the newspaper of record. Chis Spannos who edits NYTeXaminer.com, the website that critiques the Times commen

Penn’s Annenberg Public Policy Center’s FlackCheck.org Launches “Stand by Your Ad”  to Fight Deception in Super PAC and Other Third Party Political Advertising

TV and radio stations are required to air political ads by candidates for such federal offices as the presidency even if their content is blatantly deceptive. Not so the messages of outside groups. Instead, broadcasters have the right to bar so called “third party” ads or insist on the accuracy of those they decide to air. Ohio stations did just that when a group called “Building a Better Ohio” offered Ohio TV stations a deceptive ad last October. (To see the ad they rejected, go here.)

In the hope that local broadcasters around the country will follow the lead of these Ohio stations,  APPC’s FlackCheck.org, the sister-site of the award-winning FactCheck.org, is calling on them to insist on the accuracy of ads by super PACs, the political parties and all of the other outside groups that arrive at their doorsteps with cash in hand. In service of this goal, the project urges those in local markets to applaud responsible station action and decry business-as-usual.

To assist station managers and viewers, FlackCheck.org’s “Media Watch” page

Fluent: ‘SAG Awards 2012: ‘The Help’ wins big’

Second Anniversary Book of The Day on the 99% movement: David Degraw’s Latest

Song of the Day (t/h) Naomi Pinson: Staple Singers -Will The Circle Be Unbroken?

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Fluent News:  ‘Cashing in on the ‘end of the world’ tourism’

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Iran Warns US Over Syria, Nuke Talks Resume in Tehran, Anonymous Warns, Where Is Occupy?

February 21st, 2012 - by:

Iran Warns US Over Syria, Nuke Talks Resume in Tehran, Anonymous Warns, Where Is Occupy? Posted in the Category: Uncategorized

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Quote of the Day (t/h Liz Burbank)  “The civilized who have created the wretched, quite coldly and deliberately, and do not intend to change the status quo, are responsible for their slaughter and enslavement; rain down bombs on defenseless children whenever and wherever they decide their “vital interests” are menaced, and think nothing of torturing a man to death: these people are not to be taken seriously when they speak of the “sanctity” of human life, or the “conscience” of the civilized world.”

The Devil Finds Work, James Baldwin, 1976

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Another reason to miss Whitney Houston. The Electronic Intifada reminds

…. During a meeting with Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, Whitney Houston declined to shake Sharon’s hand.

 Who Is Paying for The Sanctions Against Iran?

With the global economy on the ropes, is this really the time for the West to go after Iran? So far, the sanctions regime is hurting the Iranian people more than the Iranian government. It is also hurting consumers worldwide as oil prices continue to rise.

LBN reports, Oil prices are going way up:

Oil prices jumped to nearly 105 dollars a barrel a nine-month high in Asia today, after Iran said it halted crude exports to Britain and France in a dispute over its nuclear program. Benchmark crude was up 1.75 to 104.99 dollars a barrel at midday Singapore time in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the day it rose to 105.21, the highest since May. The contract rose 93 cents to settle at 103.24 a barrel in New York on Friday.”

Tensions Rise: Meanwhile, the oft demonized Islamic Republic of Iran is taking part in a new round of nuclear talks, while warning of new pre-emptive acts:

NYT: LONDON — As tension grew in its nuclear dispute with the West, Iran was reported on Tuesday to have struck an increasingly bellicose tone, warning that it would take pre-emptive action against perceived foes if it felt its national interests were threatened.
The warning by the deputy head of its armed forces, quoted by a semi-official news agency, came as Tehran also appeared to place limits on a visit by a team of United Nations nuclear officials, saying the investigators would not go to nuclear facilities, despite earlier reports that its members had sought permission to inspect a military complex outside Tehran.

From the UN: IAEA inspectors arrive in Iran

Inspectors from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency were assessing the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program for the second time in three weeks as the U.S., through its highest ranking military officer, warned Israel against attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities to prevent it from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Iran stopped exporting crude oil to Britain and France in response to the latest European Union economic sanctions.

CLG: US Gen. Dempsey: Iran rational actor, not after nukes 20 Feb 2012 A top US military official has described Iran as a rational actor in the international arena, stating that the Islamic Republic is not after producing nuclear weapons. Speaking in a nationally televised interview with the CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” show on Sunday, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey said, “We are of the opinion that Iran is a rational actor.” Dempsey pointed out that US officials aren’t convinced Iran has decided to build atomic armaments. “We also know, or we believe we know that Iran has not decided to make a nuclear weapon,” General Dempsey said.

Oh, The War Of Error

FBI Saves Us From Another Of Its Own Terrorist Plots

We’ve talked multiple times about how the FBI seems to spend an awful lot of time stopping its own terrorist plots, and it appears to have done so yet again. iamtheky points us to the story of a “terrorist plot” to blow up the capitol averted… thanks to the fact that the whole thing was planned by the FBI, so it was pretty easy to stop the one dupe who thought it was real. Now, as some people always point out, these kinds of operations do seem to get people off the street who wouldn’t mind causing harm to Americans, but it’s unclear if any of them would ever actually have the means to do so in reality. What’s telling is that these seem to be basically the only terrorist plots we hear about the FBI stopping these days — which makes you wonder if they just have too much free time to manufacture plots to stop.

From: Op-ed News re: Who Rules America

Most people in the United States have long suspected that a “shadow government” exists and that the real power in the country resides in that dark location, not in our elected government. The citizens instinctively know that our elected officials are really nothing more than the hired servants of the money masters and are beholden to them if they wish to retain their positions of power. A quick look at the curtain which they hide behind reveals one shadowy organization that represents the interests of these money masters, the International Swaps and Derivatives Association also known as ISDA.

Nooz from Da World:

NYT:  Iran Challenges US Over Syria

CAIRO — Two Iranian warships docked in a Syrian port on Monday as a senior Iranian lawmaker denounced the possibility that the Americans might arm the Syrian opposition, adding to the international tensions over the nearly yearlong crackdown by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Financial Times: Gideon Rachman writes: “The question of whether a war will break out over Iran’s nuclear program has been around for so long that it is easy to become almost blasé. This year, however, feels different. The threat of war is much more real.”

AlJazeera: Greek Bailout Deal Done

Eurozone ministers meeting in Brussels optimistic they will approve $170bn rescue package needed to avoid bankruptcy. (DS: Problem is the money does go to the people of Greece but to foreign Hedge Funds and bondholders.)’

NYT: BRUSSELS — Greece finally secured its second giant bailout early Tuesday after euro zone finance ministers agreed to save it from bankruptcy in exchange for severe austerity measures and strict conditions. It is a 130 Billion Euro bailout.

Guardian: Eurozone leaders have sealed a new bailout for Greece that will fix its immediate financing needs but is unlikely to revive its shattered economy.

Trader Mag: Greece Now A Colony of Europe

It used to be better times in Greece. The latest proposals from Troika & Co, should be humiliating to the once Lord of the World, Greece. The country used to rule the World, and will now be supervised by Euro politicians, while the people are getting accustomed to living in austerity. What’s next, fire sales of cheap islands to the Chinese and Alexander the Great proclaimed to belong to Macedonia?

Felix Salmon: Greece is now officially a ward of the international community. It has no real independence when it comes to fiscal policy any more, and if everything goes according to plan, it’s not going to have any independence for many, many years to come.

Eurogroup Position: “this new program provides a comprehensive blueprint for putting the public finances and the economy of Greece back on a sustainable footing and hence for safeguarding financial stability in Greece and in the euro area as a whole.”

Ellen Brown, How Greece Could Take Down Wall Street

Telegraph: Germany drawing up plans for Greece to leave the euro
Plans for Greece to default, potentially leaving the euro, have been drafted in Germany as the European Union begins to face up to the fact that Greek debt is spiraling out of control – with or without a second bailout.

FT Article: Greece Must Default If It Wants to Save Its Democracy

Fluent News: ‘GM, Ford, Chrysler and Boeing Unions Score Big Bonuses and Lift Economy’

Yahoo: Strauss-Kahn held by police in French prostitution probe

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was taken in for questioning on Tuesday by police investigating an alleged prostitution ring run out of the northern French city of Lille.

EJC:  Anonymous Warns: Anonymous threatens weekly mayhem for government and business websites

Hackers affiliated with the Anonymous online collective have promised to unleash regularly scheduled bouts of chaos, by attacking business and government-related websites every Friday. According to a 19 February post on the Anonops Communication site – a channel regularly used to provide news about the hacktivist group – Anonymous is set to kick of a campaign of weekly attacks. The group said its motivation for the attacks was to “[wipe] as many corrupt corporate and government systems off our internet.” The lack of a form hierarchy in Anonymous means any such claims have to be treated with a degree of caution – as no one member can claim to speak for the entire group. Nevertheless, the threat marks an escalation in its campaign to attack government and business websites. Since the start of 2012, Anonymous-affiliated hackers have published recordings between US and UK e-crime police, defaced Greek government websites, threatened to publish source code belonging to security firm Symantec and published log-on credentials for series of Israeli-owned industrial computer systems. The group has also started getting involved in protests against what it sees as anti-internet legislation such as ACTA, SOPA and PIPA, launching distributed denial of service attacks or compromising web-facing systems. (V3.co.uk)

CLG: US Stuxnet sociopaths planning their next false flag to blame Anonymous:

NSA: Al Qaeda, Foreign Governments Might Hire Anonymous –U.S. Official Signals Growing Concern Over Anonymous Group’s Capabilities 21 Feb 2012 The director of the National Security Agency has warned that the hacking group Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack. Gen. Keith Alexander, the director, provided his assessment in meetings at the White House and in other private sessions, according to people familiar with the gatherings. Possible scenarios discussed, the former official said, included one in which a foreign government developed the attack capability and outsourced it to a group like Anonymous, or if a U.S. adversary like al Qaeda hired hackers to mount a cyberattack.

Washington Post:  Negative campaign ads more frequent, vicious than in primaries past
Four years ago, 6 percent of campaign ads in the GOP primaries amounted to attacks on other Republicans; this year, that figure has shot up to more than 50 percent.

Where is Occupy?

I spent part of the holiday looking for Occupy Wall Street. On President’s day, tourists were out on Wall Street taking pictures  of the statue of George Washington at the place where he was inaugurated in 1789.

There was a handful of self-proclaimed anarchists hanging out at the heated atrium at 6o Wall Street. I spoke to one woman who drew me a diagram of how Wall Street banksters stole the wealth of the middle class and warned of tsunami’s destroying our electricity generation systems in this year of the  2012 Mayan prophecies. Among some, conspiracy theories explain everything.

Another,occupier told me he goes to Court Wednesday for one of his 6 arrests. He fears a big crackdown ordered by the NDAA. He told me he was  kidnapped by police who sent him to a psychiatric hospital. He showed me the marks of his arms where the handcuffs were. Now that is crazy!

Most of the “occupiers” at Zuccotti Park are now cops. They were “protecting one woman with a child in a carriage. Parked Police cars were burning gas.

Historical Document: Odessa Anarchists Appeal to the city’s Underworld (1919)

Thieves and robbers!

The soviet of the Odessa Anarchist Federation has a request and a warning for you. We look upon you as the product of the accursed conditions of the regimen of exploitation and violence created by the bourgeoisie and which are still with us thanks to gangsters in the hire of the White Guard officers and their foreign bayonets.

If the bourgeoisie should suffer from your activities, too bad for it. It is reaping what it sowed and it is no part of our task to look to its protection.

In the new communist society and in the fight to create it, in which we call upon the Russian proletariat and the proletariat worldwide to play their part, everything will belong to us all, there will be no private property, no rich and no poor and so there will be no call for thievery and robbery.

….At the same time, the Anarchist Federation’s soviet has a word of warning for those who hold nothing sacred any more, those who ignore the appeals of workers and revolutionaries and whosoever may persist in extorting funds in the name of anarchism whereas we regard them as parasites and bourgeois with but one preoccupation, how to line their pockets even more. We give them final warning that if it can be shown that they have misused our name, they will be shot down on the spot, by us.

Odessa Anarchist Federation

Letters

Sam Clark writes:’ Aloha again, Mr. Schechter:

Nice reading more of your works.

Is it true that the President is part of the DLC who helped get us in this mess to begin with along with the repubs?

Why are putting so much faith in the Democratic Party?  They don’t seem to be helping much.

Is there a plan for negating Citizens United?

Phil Dennany writes:

We allow our elected leaders and corporate media to lie and make for profit wars of terror and aggression based entirely on manipulation of exaggerated and dishonest intelligence, here and abroad, and then do not hold them responsible for the treason or their injustice.

Scott Schneider writes: You paint a picture which would draw great admiration from Mussolini. Goebbels would also nod approvingly that things “at things are moving in the proper direction. All this with the half-Kenyan face on the American brand. Brilliant PR. And very deadly.

 Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

DISSECTOR’S LATEST ESSAY:

From Military Resistance: “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.  Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.” Frederick Douglass, 1852

“We Are Drowning” On A Road To Nowhere: New War on the Horizon

Oil prices are rocketing. Iranian warships are docking in Syria. Propaganda news is growing with rumors of Al Qaeda links with Iran, and, then, less speculative news about real links between the terror groups and the armed opposition in Syria

As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi puts it, the smell of war is in the air and on the air, “You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms.”

CLG adds: “Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its [alleged] nuclear program, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.”

The timing now seems to be for war in October, just before the next Presidential election. Does that mean that the White House believes that war fever will generate more support for an embattled Commander in Chief seeking reelection? Was Orwell  right in his classic 1984,  “the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.”

Here in the “homeland,” the FBI busts a “terrorist” on his way, we are told, to blow up the Congress. Turns out he was supplied with phony weapons by the FBI itself, a specialist in entrapment. The G-Men supposedly became suspicious when they heard that this young Moroccan, living illegally in Virginia, told someone who told someone that the war on terror was a war on Muslims. That’s probably a majority view in the Middle East, but to them it was menacing and proof of evil intent.

After their puppet “suspect” was in custody, they reassured one and all that the Congress was never at risk. (Nor, now, is the FBI’s next appropriation!)

What a relief! Congress has survived to fight another day in its own war– a partisan war without end. For the most part, the political logjam and stalemate continues and not just because of warring ideologies.

Unseen and only rarely commented upon by pundits who know how to cover political horse races but not political skullduggery is the role that big money plays behind the scenes. That is kept out of sight and out of mind.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write: “Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny — they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others — the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.”

Yes, “we are downing here.”

But is not just money perse that is the problem, but those one-percenters that are manipulating it as a weapon to drive our democracy into the dumper.

Charles Pierce names and shames them in the pages of Esquire, writing about the “the undeniable fact that, over the course of a decade, a bunch of cheats, thieves, and suited mountebanks stole most of the national economy and then wrecked whatever was left of it. But what’s most extraordinary about the whole thing is that, after they swindled their swindles and heisted their heists, and got paid off by the rest of us for having looted our naional economy, they all kept doing the same things they were doing before. These included extravagant bonuses and, of course, continued crimes of capital that ought to be capital crimes.”

Wow!

On the same day I read, Joe Nocera in the New York Times saying it’s not important to punish the banks. So clearly the liberal media is in large part in cahoots with the right wing message points, avoiding any structural analysis, while pushing for mild “reforms” unlikely to reform anything.

One consequence of our corporate news system, according to Richard Flanders in the Atlantic is that Americans are being steered into becoming even more conservative.

“Even with the president’s approval rating showing signs of life and the Republicans busily bashing themselves over the head — “one is a practicing polygamist and he’s not even the Mormon,” retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently quipped about her party’s two frontrunners — America continues to track right, according to polling data released by the Gallop Organization this week.” he writes.

“Americans at this political moment are significantly more likely to identify as conservative than as liberal: conservatives outnumber liberals by nearly two to one. Forty percent identify as conservative, 36 percent as moderate, and 21 percent liberal.”

Most upsetting is that the people who suffering the most are stuck in the Alice in Wonderland world of conservative ideology.

This study concludes. “The ongoing economic crisis only appears to have deepened America’s conservative drift – a trend which is most pronounced in its least well off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states.

The public becomes dumber  in part because our media is a dumbing down machine. No wonder, alternative voices are brushed to the margins by our not so free press. This past week, I was interviewed by RT and AlJazeera, but none of the US TV news networks I used to work for will have me on. It’s not a personal thing:  I am not alone.

Yes, MSNBC has added two progressive hosts, but in the morning, on weekends, when viewing is lowest. Fox, meanwhile, dumped Judge Napolitano and his sometime sensible and outspoken libertarian show. Can’t have that, can we?

It’s time for Occupy Wall Street to add media reform to its emerging agenda. The media war is as real as any other, and unless we fight that one, we will lose all the others. Politics is a war of ideas, of different narratives in collision.

It’s not enough to chant, “We are the 99%.” We have to explain who rules America and how to change it.

One way to do it is educate the country about how many of the same interests that own the banks own the media.

Perhaps that’s why most media outlets are not reporting that unemployment increased this month and that underemployment is up to 19%

Writes Rex Nutting on Market Watch: “Everyone knows that the Great Recession has inflicted tremendous damage to the lives and fortunes of millions of Americans. But what you may not know is that most of the suffering is still to come.

We’re not even halfway done with this mess.”

A mess it is, a “mistake” it isn’t.

That’s why activists can’t give up

If there was ever a time for progressives to unite around some coherent ten point plan that can be used to reach potential supporters and broaden the movement for change, this is it. The aspiration should be to build a coalition that can win, to  “occupy the mainstream.” Sadly, here as in Greece where the economic crisis is at a boiling point, a headline in the Financial Times sums up a key obstacle to fighting back:

“Greek Left Has Most Support But is Fragmented”

What say you, unions, churches, minorities, students, workers, activists, feminists and occupiers? Do we work together or lose apart?  Assuming that the GOP self-destructs, do we really think that more ‘Bama can make the difference that needs making?

News Dissector Danny Schechter’s blog is now at NewsDissector.Net. Danny made the film Plunder (Plunderthecrimeofourtime) on the financial crisis as a crime story. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org.

 

 

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News Dissector Blog is BACK as NewsDissector.Net; New Essay: The Road To Nowhere

February 20th, 2012 - by:

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 A Letter to Readers I Never Thought I Would Have To Write

Happily, the News Dissector blog is back as NewsDissector.net.

Two weeks ago, when I was traveling in Iran, I tried to post a report on my encounter with the Iranian President, a rare opportunity for an American journalist.  I went in to the back end of my News Dissector.com blog as I always do, an almost daily ritual that in my case goes back more than ten years.

But, to my surprise, my password wasn’t working. That was strange,  but, I thought the problem might be easily be remedied by simply clicking Lost Password, and getting a new one. The software also asks for the email associated with the account. I did that — only have no new password sent to my account. My email was rejected too. That’s when I realized that both my password and email had been rejected and that I was locked out.

I then thought, maybe,  I was a victim of Iran’s censorship of the Internet. They have an elaborate filtering system that blocks many websites. I was told that their censors don’t like WordPress blogs, the software I use. So, I asked a web-savvy Iranian to help me with the techniques he and so many young people use to get around the censors.

But that didn’t work either. He gave up.

Hmmmm…

As soon as I returned to New York, I tried again, but the software, again,  did not respond. It was, then, I realized that both the password and the email had been hijacked.

So,  I called Go Daddy, (the company with the worst advertising on the Superbowl show,)  that we paid to register our domain.

At first, they acknowledged having the account but then told me it was no longer in my name. The ownership had been transferred to an Atlanta company associated with a technical contractor who had worked with us.  Hostgator, our hosting company, reported the same transfer that I had not known about or authorized.

I thought it would be simple, as customers,  to persuade these companies to return The NewsDissector.com to your news dissector.

Yes, they saw my picture on the site as well as my name, and knew that the Globalvision’s affiliated not-for-profit, The Global Center had  had registered for years!  But then, they said that since the site was no longer registered to us, they would not help us because we had known the person who now claimed to own it.

Orwell anyone? Or is it Kafka?

When I reached out to our former contractor who I suspected was responsible, she refused to respond, an admission in deed, if not in word. She responded with a fog of accusations and emails, but refused to help,  claiming we owed her money  after had we paid her. I was pretty sure I had found the culprit who feigned offense at my indignation.  If I am wrong, I will send flowers and a mea culpa.

She also took offense at my contention that my blog  site—and Mediachannel.org before it,  had been “stolen.” I would like nothing more than to resolve our differences but it’s hard to deal with a person who refuses to speak directly with your or the lawyer you hired to try to mediate.  It seemed like she had convinced herself that she had been wronged by being terminated when we ran out of money on the grant that allowed us to hire her.  Her “facts” and mine did not compute.  She didn’t care that she had silenced my right to digital speech by shutting down my blog in a more cunning manner than any Iranian censor. In one email, she badrapped the blog she has spent over a year helping to improve!

The hosting company preferred the term “hi-jacked” to “stolen,” a difference in my mind without a distinction. They said they would restore my access to my own site only when ordered  to do so by a Judge. That meant I would have to spend thousand of dollars on lawyers, and probably waste years in fighting to get our own creative property back.

Talk about online piracy.

So we , then , went and bought this new domain, NewsDissector.net, and with the kind help of a friend and web professional, recovered the blog.

I hope you will find it worth visiting, even  with its length,  occasional broken links or typos or, heaven forbid, too many CAPITAL letters. (Clearly I am not web perfect, an affront to purists with a creative if often inflexible sense of style and order. )

I am going to try to make it a good read and welcome your help in spreading the word about the new NewsDissector.net URL.

Also, Mediachannel.org is now Mediachannel1.org. We had to do something to insure that any internal dispute could not shut down our freedom or speech and comment on the news of the day.

Your comments to dissector@mediachannel.org.

If you have web skills and want to help improve this daily dissection, please write as well.  Clearly I am not the greatest in the tech department; I have a skill gap and lack of “professionalism” that horrifies web purists. Never mind that we are producing all this on a wing and prayer.

Now, on to my daily dissection:

From Military Resistance: “At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed.  Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke.” Frederick Douglass, 1852

Dissector Essay:  “We Are Drowning” On A Road To Nowhere: New War on the Horizon

Oil prices are rocketing. Iranian warships are moving into the Mediterranean to shadow the US warships already there.  Propaganda news is growing with rumors of Al Qaeda links with Iran, and, then, less speculative news about real links between the terror groups and the armed opposition in Syria.

As Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi puts it, the smell of war is in the air and on the air, “You can just feel it: many of the same newspapers and TV stations we saw leading the charge in the Bush years have gone back to the attic and are dusting off their war pom-poms.”

CLG adds: “Officials in key parts of the Obama administration are increasingly convinced that sanctions will not deter Tehran from pursuing its [alleged] nuclear program, and believe that the US will be left with no option but to launch an attack on Iran or watch Israel do so.”

The timing now seems to be for war in October, just before the next Presidential election. Does that mean that the White House believes that war fever will generate more support for an embattled Commander in Chief in a tight reelection campaign?

Orwell may have been right in his classic 1984: “the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact.”

Here in the “homeland,” the FBI busts a “terrorist” on his way, we are told, to blow up the Congress. Turns out he was supplied with phony weapons by the FBI itself, a specialist in entrapment. The G-Men supposedly became suspicious when they heard that this young Moroccan, living illegally in Virginia, told someone who told someone that the war on terror was a war on Muslims. That’s probably a majority view in the Middle East, but to them it was menacing and proof of evil intent.

After their puppet “suspect” was in custody, they reassured one and all that the Congress was never at risk. (Nor, now, is the FBI’s next appropriation!)

What a relief! Congress has survived to fight another day in its own war– a partisan war without end. For the most part, the political logjam and stalemate continues and not just because of warring ideologies.

Unseen and only rarely commented upon by pundits who know how to cover political horse races but not political skullduggery is the role that big money plays behind the scenes. That is kept out of sight and out of mind.

Bill Moyers and Michael Winship write: “Watching what’s happening to our democracy is like watching the cruise ship Costa Concordia founder and sink slowly into the sea off the coast of Italy, as the passengers, shorn of life vests, scramble for safety as best they can, while the captain trips and falls conveniently into a waiting life boat.

We are drowning here, with gaping holes torn into the hull of the ship of state from charges detonated by the owners and manipulators of capital. Their wealth has become a demonic force in politics. Nothing can stop them. Not the law, which has been written to accommodate them. Not scrutiny — they have no shame. Not a decent respect for the welfare of others — the people without means, their safety net shredded, left helpless before events beyond their control.”

Yes, “we are downing here.”

But is not just money perse that is the problem, but those one-percenters that are manipulating it as a weapon to drive our democracy into the dumper.

Charles Pierce names and shames them in the pages of Esquire, writing about the “the undeniable fact that, over the course of a decade, a bunch of cheats, thieves, and suited mountebanks stole most of the national economy and then wrecked whatever was left of it. But what’s most extraordinary about the whole thing is that, after they swindled their swindles and heisted their heists, and got paid off by the rest of us for having looted our national economy, they all kept doing the same things they were doing before. These included extravagant bonuses and, of course, continued crimes of capital that ought to be capital crimes.”

Wow!

On the same day I read, Joe Nocera in the New York Times saying it’s not important to punish the banks. So clearly the liberal media is, in large part, in cahoots with right wing message points, avoiding any structural analysis, while pushing for mild “reforms” unlikely to reform anything.

One consequence of our corporate news system, according to Richard Flanders in the Atlantic, is that Americans are being steered into becoming even more conservative.

He writes, “Even with the president’s approval rating showing signs of life and the Republicans busily bashing themselves over the head — “one is a practicing polygamist and he’s not even the Mormon,” retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor recently quipped about her party’s two frontrunners — America continues to track right, according to polling data released by the Gallop Organization this week.”

“Americans at this political moment are significantly more likely to identify as conservative than as liberal: conservatives outnumber liberals by nearly two to one. Forty percent identify as conservative, 36 percent as moderate, and 21 percent liberal.”

Most upsetting is that the people who suffering the most are stuck in rabbit hole of  an Alice in Wonderland world of conservative ideology.

This study concludes. “The ongoing economic crisis only appears to have deepened America’s conservative drift – a trend which is most pronounced in its least well off, least educated, most blue collar, most economically hard-hit states.

The public becomes dumber  in part because our media is a dumbing down machine. No wonder, alternative voices are brushed to the margins by our not so free press. This past week, I was interviewed by RT and AlJazeera, but none of the US TV news networks I used to work for will have me on. It’s not a personal thing:  I am not alone.

Yes, MSNBC has added two progressive hosts, but in the morning, on weekends, when viewing is lowest. Fox, meanwhile, dumped Judge Napolitano and his sometime sensible and outspoken libertarian show. Can’t have any dissent, can we?

It’s time for Occupy Wall Street to add media reform to its emerging agenda. The media war is as real as any other, and unless we fight that one, we will lose all the others. Politics is a war of ideas, of different narratives in collision.

It’s not enough to chant, “We are the 99%.” We have to explain who rules America and how to change it.

One way to do it is educate the country about how many of the same interests that own the banks own the media.

Perhaps that’s why most media outlets are not reporting that unemployment increased this month and that underemployment is up to 19%

Writes Rex Nutting on Market Watch: “Everyone knows that the Great Recession has inflicted tremendous damage to the lives and fortunes of millions of Americans. But what you may not know is that most of the suffering is still to come.

We’re not even halfway done with this mess.”

A mess it is, a “mistake” it isn’t.

That’s why activists can’t give up

If there was ever a time for progressives to unite around some coherent ten point plan that can be used to reach potential supporters and broaden the movement for change, this is it. The aspiration should be to build a coalition that can win, to  “occupy the mainstream.”

Sadly, here, as in Greece where the economic crisis is at a boiling point, a headline in the Financial Times sums up a key obstacle to fighting back:

“Greek Left Has Most Support But is Fragmented”

What say you, unions, churches, minorities, students, workers, activists, feminists and occupiers? Do we work together or lose apart?  Assuming that the GOP self-destructs, do we really think that more ‘Bama can make the difference that needs making?

More on The FBI Terror Bust as Reported on  (AJE) Al Jazeera

News Dissector Danny Schechter’s blog is now at NewsDissector.Net. Danny made the film Plunder (Plunderthecrimeofourtime) on the financial crisis as a crime story. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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