Tune In Today: News Dissector Radio at 5pm on PRN.fm: Special Guests Ronnie Kasrils, former leader in the ANC’s armed struggle to topple apartheid and former Minister of Intelligence; author of “Armed and Dangerous,’ and Amina Frense, Executive Producer of News, South African Broadcasting Corporation. These are old friends: articulate, insightful and informative.
•••Today: 5:30 Protest at the Intrepid, the aircraft carrier museum on the Hudson, against Henry Kissinger Receiving an Award for Promoting Democracy
WHEN: Thursday, May 23, 2013 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, 12 Ave. & 46 Street, New York City
•Obama To Speak today On National Insecurity
•Julian Assange Sues Military Over Bradley Manning Trial Secrecy
•News Republic: Military lawyers urge Hagel to improve Guantanamo conditions
•NYT: Charlie Savage: Obama Admin Admits–We Used Drones to Kill Americans
WASHINGTON — One day before President Obama is due to deliver a major speech on national security, his administration on Wednesday formally acknowledged that the United States had killed four American citizens in drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan.
The American responsibility for Mr. Awlaki’s death has been widely reported, but the administration had until now refused to confirm or deny it.
The letter also said that the United States had killed three other Americans: Samir Khan, who was killed in the same strike; Mr. Awlaki’s son Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who was also killed in Yemen; and Jude Mohammed, who was killed in a strike in Pakistan.
•Slate: Obama’s 301 Drone Strikes
•AJE: Man ‘linked to Boston suspect’ killed by FBI
Florida man shot dead after he got violent during questioning about his possible links to blast suspects, FBI says.
•British Police Shoot Suspects in Beheading of Soldier in England. Security Committee Plan Response
Two attackers with knives killed a man on Wednesday on the streets of London, witnesses said. They described the weapons as machetes or meat cleavers. Onlookers described the man as being “beheaded”.
The Express reported that a Whitehall source claimed the men were heard to shout “Allah Akbar” as they attacked the victim in broad daylight.
Police responded, shooting and injuring the two attackers in the south-eastern district of Woolwich, Metropolitan Police commander Simon Letchford said.
“The prime minister says the killing in Woolwich is truly shocking and he has asked the home secretary [internal affairs minister] to chair a Cobra meeting,” his office told Reuters.
“A number of weapons were reportedly being used in the attack, and this included reports of a firearm,” police said in a statement.
Security was tightened in the area immediately after the incident. Helicopters hovered above and nearby roads were sealed off by the police.
Earlier, a teacher at a local school told the BBC he saw a body on the road and afterwards heard gunshots.
Photographs posted on social media showed at least two people on the ground who appeared to be injured, but no further details were immediately available. –
•CLG: Woolwich: EDL Demo and Mosques Attacked –Riot police contained an English Defence League demo following the Woolwich killing, while elsewhere two mosques were attacked.
English Defence League [fascist sociopaths] supporters took to the streets of Woolwich and threw missiles at police after the suspected terrorist killing earlier in the day. Elsewhere, two men were arrested following separate attacks on mosques. In Woolwich, a group of between 75 and 100 men gathered at The Queen’s Arms pub on Burrage Grove, where they sang nationalistic songs. Earlier, two men were arrested following separate attacks on mosques in the hours following the suspected terrorist incident in southeast London. A 43-year-old man is in custody on suspicion of attempted arson after reportedly walking into a mosque with a knife in Braintree, Essex.
•Woolwich: ‘Soldier Dead After Terror Attack’ –A man is filmed trying to justify a deadly attack on a man thought to be a serving soldier. Warning: Contains distressing images.
A man reported to be a serving soldier has been hacked to death in Woolwich, south east London, in what is being treated as a terrorist attack. Dozens of weapons – including a number of knives – and pools of blood could be seen on the ground in John Wilson Street, where a man said to be wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt was attacked by two men. Witnesses say the pair appeared to deliberately drive their car at the victim, before getting out with various bladed weapons and launching their attack. (Yes, there is a video that has been widely shown. I have chosen not to run because the circumstances and whats being said was not clear to me,)
•FBI: Arrest made in Wash. state ricin letter scare
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) – A 37-year-old man was arrested Wednesday in connection with a case in which a pair of letters containing the deadly poison ricin were discovered in Washington state last week. A grand jury indictment accused Matthew Ryan Buquet of mailing a death threat to U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle at the federal courthouse on May 14.
•News 36o: The Latest Lie: IRS Targeted Conservatives
•USA Today: Journalism advocates call leak investigations chilling
•Pro-Publica: Sound, Fury and the IRS Mess
•EJC: NBC news correspondent: Obama trying to ‘criminalize journalism’
The chief White House correspondent for NBC News, which largely has been enthusiastic about Barack Obama’s presidency, has delivered a stunning verdict on the latest moves to come out of the White House administration: It’s trying to criminalize journalism.
•Reuters: IRS Official Refuses To Answer Questions
•BBC: Bernanke hails benefits of stimulus
US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke tells Congress that it is too soon to end the central bank’s monetary stimulus programme or raise interest rates.
•The Hill: GOP lifts subpoena after Benghazi auditor agrees to be deposed
Rep. Darrell Issa and Ambassador Thomas Pickering have reached a deal that will allow the diplomat to appear for a closed-door meeting with investigators for the congressman.
The agreement led Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, to lift his subpoena on Pickering, who co-authored the State Department’s independent report on the Benghazi attack.
Paul said, addressing his Senate colleagues. “You will be funding, today, the allies of al Qaeda. It’s an irony you cannot overcome.”
•DB: Swedish Riots Rage Into Third Day
In protest of police killing a 69-year-old man.
•Chinese Artist Aiwei releases explicit Music Video “Dumbass” To Mock Jailing On alleged tax violation
•AJE-WATCH: UN Financial Shortfall in Darfur
•History News Network: Efrain Rios Montt Will Still Face Justice–And So Should Henry Kissinger
Despite the May 20 ruling by Guatemala’s Constitutional Court, which overturned the original verdict on procedural grounds, the May 10 conviction of that country’s former head of state, General Efrain Rios Montt, for the genocide of Guatemala’s Mayan people, could be a defining event in modern history.
For now, the original trial will pick up where it stood on April 19, when the court had heard all of the prosecution’s evidence, and most of the defense’s. Guatemala’s unrepentant oligarchy, and the lawyers (and judges) who represent them, will do everything they can to derail final resolution and sentencing. But regardless of what happens next, and whether the eighty-year-old genocidaire ever goes to jail, the case reverberates: Guatemala’s steely Attorney General, Claudia Paz y Paz, is likely to move forward with more prosecutions, and next door in El Salvador, bells are beginning to toll for the generals who ran death squads and ordered massacres. Here at home, too, the case sends signals to both current and former U.S. policymakers, if we step back and look at our own history.
Many commentators have stressed that for the first time a living head of state has been convicted of genocide in his or her own country, yet another precedent in establishing the international rule of law regarding human rights and war crimes: first, that a crime against humanity can be prosecuted anywhere, regardless of national sovereignty or executive prerogative; second, that it is the degree of political responsibility for the crime which determines guilt, beyond the question of an individual’s proximity to, or actual participation in, its execution.
Rios Montt’s conviction builds upon the indictment of General Augusto Pinochet by the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon in 1998, and prosecutions at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) of Rwandan and Bosnian leaders, as well as the launch and increasing strength of the International Criminal Court. Even if endless appeals keep Rios Montt out of jail, his being forced to face his accusers as they described the extermination of entire villages is a new fact which no leader considering “scorched earth” tactics against a domestic insurgency, or even that leader’s foreign backers, can ignore. Indeed, putting the Pinochet and Rios Montt cases together as precedents suggests the potential for indictments not just in small countries like Guatemala or Chile, but perhaps Moscow, Paris, Beijing, or Washington DC.
Rios Montt’s conviction therefore has significant implications for the rest of the world including, most assuredly, us Americans. He was not convicted of personally rounding up Mayan children to be killed, or firing a weapon. His signature was not found on any document authorizing the extermination of the Ixil, the particular indigenous people whose genocide was charged. Rather, he was the intellectual author, the head of state approving military plans naming the Ixil as the internal enemy to be eliminated, in the same way that high-ranking German generals were found responsible for crimes against humanity at Nuremberg, although they personally avoided the killing fields in Byelorussia, and never signed orders specifying that three million Soviet POWs be starved to death. Like Rios Montt, they had authority and were therefore responsible.
• Matt Vasilogambros, The Atlantic, Oklahoma Tornado Fallout: The Sequester Cut Disaster Assistance and Weather-Warning Funds
Disaster personnel and volunteers have to rely critical federal funding that’s been slashed.
As disaster personnel and volunteers comb through the havoc left by the tornadoes that tore through Oklahoma on Sunday and Monday, they are going to rely on critical federal funding that was severely cut by the massive cuts known as sequestration.
President Obama has already declared a state of emergency for Oklahoma, directing federal aid for state and local recovery. This allows the Federal Emergency Management to provide temporary housing, home repairs, loans for the uninsured home, and other disaster relief programs. Speaking on Tuesday, the president guaranteed federal resources for victims.
“As a nation, our full focus right now is on the urgent work of rescue, and the hard work of recovery and rebuilding that lies ahead,” he said. “The people of Moore should know that their country will remain on the ground, there for them, beside them, as long as it takes.”
He added later, “Our prayers are with the people of Oklahoma today and we will back up those prayers with deeds for as long as it takes.”
And while the president has directed all needed federal assistance in this case, making no mention of sequestration, cuts to the FEMA and other governmental programs could prove tricky in the weeks and months ahead.
Due to the massive cuts brought on by sequestration, the disaster relief section of FEMA’s budget will lose $1 billion this year. Following the devastation from Hurricane Sandy earlier this year, FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate said FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund would pay out a total of $10.8 billion to storm victims by the end of the fiscal year. That would leave $2.5 billion in its disaster fund for the rest of the year.
•NYT: Protests Fail to Deter Chicago From Shutting 49 Schools
CHICAGO — Officials here in the third-largest district in the country voted Wednesday, after an emotional meeting, to close 49 public schools that they said were not being fully used.
The decision, passed overwhelmingly by the Chicago Board of Education, came after weeks of contentious public hearings that brought more than 34,000 people out to oppose the school consolidation plan at dozens of meetings across the city.
The move, which singled out schools that district officials said had too many empty desks after years of population loss — but that opponents argued unfairly targeted low-income minority communities — makes up the largest group of city schools to be closed at once in recent memory.
•The Atlantic: Masturbation Is At the Center of The Culture Wars
They want to clean up your campus.
Renowned Nigerian author Chinua Achebe, who died in March, is due to be buried in his home town in Anambra state.
•••Thanks for being here. Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org. Please visit Mediachannel.org and tune in to today’s News Dissector Radio Hour on PRN.fm
•WATCH! AJE–Search for Survivors in Oklahoma continues
•AP: Teachers credited with saving students in Okla.
MOORE, Okla. (AP) – The principal’s voice came on over the intercom at Plaza Towers Elementary School: A severe storm was approaching and students were to go to the cafeteria and wait for their parents to pick them up. But before all of the youngsters could get there, the tornado alarm sounded. The plan changed quickly.
The rescue effort after the Oklahoma twister that killed 24 people nears an end, as it emerges the storm was more powerful than thought.
•AP: Power of Moore tornado dwarfs Hiroshima bomb
WASHINGTON (AP) – Everything had to come together just perfectly to create the killer tornado in Moore, Okla.: wind speed, moisture in the air, temperature and timing. And when they did, the awesome energy released over that city dwarfed the power of the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service gave it the top-of-the-scale rating of EF5 for wind speed
•Think Progress: “Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who has long objected to federal funds being spent on everything from veterans benefits to relief in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, is already insisting that any additional appropriations should be paid for with cuts elsewhere.”
•EJC/USA Today: Social media: Oklahoma’s virtual lost and found
People desperate to find loved ones, pets and treasured belongings lost amid the rubble in this week’s massive Oklahoma tornado are turning to social media for help. “Within 20 minutes of the tornado there were 15 Facebook pages that popped up with people posting missing and found pets,” says web developer and animal lover Emily Garman, 34, of Oklahoma City. “Online, that is where we turn for information now. When things happen it breaks on Twitter and Facebook first, so that’s where you go.” (USA Today)
If our planet’s increasingly extreme weather isn’t caused by man-made climate change, then it stands to reason that it’s actually caused by man-made supervillains using government technology to take American Freedoms with superstorms like Monday’s mile-wide monster tornadoes.
•BBC: Wi-fi shut down in Guantanamo alert
The US military’s wireless internet service inside Guantanamo Bay has been shut down following threats by Anonymous hackers
•NYT: WASHINGTON — Timothy D. Cook came to the lion’s den on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, prepared to face down lawmakers furious over evidence that Apple, the famous company he runs, had avoided paying billions in taxes. By the time Mr. Cook walked out, the big cats on a Senate committee were practically eating out of his hand.
•Why has Washington Become Such a Cluster Frag? Blame It on the iPhone
“We love the iPhone and the iPad,” Congress members said.
•The Atlantic: Corporations Should Evade Taxes
•Bloomberg News View: “Apple has opened a new front in the battle between corporations that aggressively avoid U.S. taxes and lawmakers who want to collect more of them. In so doing, Apple has made the case for why Congress must update the tax code.”
•Chase to Shareholders: Go to Hell: JPMorgan Defeats Effort to Split Top 2 Jobs at Bank
TAMPA, Fla. — Jamie Dimon, the nation’s most powerful banker, can hold onto his title of chairman after JPMorgan Chase’s shareholders decisively defeated a proposal to split the two top jobs.
The vote to split the roles of chairman and chief executive — both of which have been held by Mr. Dimon since 2006 — received only 32.2 percent of shares voted. That is down from a vote of roughly 40 percent in support of a similar proposal last year.
All 11 directors of the bank’s board were also re-elected.
Shares of JPMorgan were up more than 2 percent in midday trading.
The votes were a convincing show of shareholder support for Mr. Dimon and the board even amid persistent questions about the bank’s controls and its dealings with regulators. Those questions have emerged after a multibillion-dollar trading loss in the bank’s chief investment office in London surprised investors last year.
•Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone, They NEVER Stop (Excerpt)
It’s becoming an annual tradition: Spring rolls around, and while nobody is looking, Wall Street quietly lays siege to Washington and reaches a hand out to yank the last remaining teeth out of the government’s financial regulatory head.
In the last two weeks, we’ve seen two major developments here. There was a wave of deregulatory bills that snuck through the House with surprisingly bipartisan support, and a series of regulatory decisions by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission that will seriously weaken the already-weak Dodd-Frank reform legislation, particularly with regard to derivatives trades.
If a story about a wave of bills designed to prevent the meager derivatives reforms passed in Dodd-Frank from being enacted sounds familiar, that’s because it is. I wrote almost exactly the same story a year ago, in the middle of May, 2012, when a herd of Wall Street-friendly congresshumans teamed up in the House Financial Services Committee to push through a wave of nine ambitious bills targeting derivatives reform. This is from last spring:
The nine bills being contemplated by Congress take a variety of approaches to gutting Dodd-Frank. Two bills, H.R. 1840 and H.R. 2308, are essentially stalling tactics, requiring regulators to undertake more of those sweeping cost-benefit analyses that result in lengthy delays. Another bill, H.R. 3283, is more substantive: Sponsored by Connecticut Democrat and hedge-fund industry BFF Jim Himes, it exempts foreign affiliates of U.S. swaps dealers from all Dodd-Frank oversight.
The rule, if implemented, would make the next AIG possible, given that AIG was undone by half a trillion dollars in derivative bets produced by such a foreign affiliate – its London-based financial products outfit, AIGFP. If passed, says Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat from North Carolina, H.R. 3283 would leave a “massive, gaping hole” in Dodd-Frank. “It would be very easy to move those trades to whatever the most indulgent country would be,” Miller explains.
After those bills escaped the House, most of them stalled on the way to the Senate, where of course the Democrats still hold a majority and are reluctant to openly scrap Dodd-Frank just yet.
But this is the key to understanding how financial lobbyists succeed in getting what it wants on the regulatory front: They never stop. It’s not a war of ideas, it’s a war of resources. You march up the Hill with some crazy idea about overturning a bill prohibiting bailouts of companies that engage in risky derivative trades, you get knocked down, and you march up again, then you march up again, and again . . .
With each successive attempt, you peel off a few more Committee members in the House, slowly but surely weakening resolve. And while you’re attacking on the legislative front, you also file a series of lawsuits that tie up the process by targeting reforms in court, and then you also send armies of lobbyists to sit in the laps of regulators during the rule-making process, so that key new laws (like the Volcker rule, designed to separate risky trading from federally-insured depository banking) are either written in reams of industry-friendly language, or delayed altogether.
•ICTMN Staff: Chiefs Declare Keystone XL Invalid, Walk Out on State Department Officials
Elders and chiefs of at least 10 sovereign nations walked out of a meeting with U.S. State Department officials in Rapid City, South Dakota, on Thursday May 16 in which the government was attempting to engage in tribal consultation over the Keystone XL pipeline.
•Headline That Says It All on National Journal: Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting for Public Opinion to Turn Against Obama
The president has a base of loyalists that won’t quit and, at least for now, there’s no evidence he was involved in any scandals.
•Global Information Network: OBAMA TO BYPASS KENYA DURING LONG-DELAYED AFRICA TRIP
May 21 (GIN) – Pres. Barack Obama embarks on a major presidential tour of Africa in June but his itinerary will circumvent Kenya, his ancestral homeland.
Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania will each receive the President and his wife Michelle. Kenya was scratched from the group, according to one news report, since being seen with the newly-elected president, Uhuru Kenyatta, who still faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court, would certainly spark a new crisis for the beleaguered president.
Obama’s first trip to South Africa since he became president raises the prospect of a reunion with Nelson Mandela ahead of his 95th birthday in July. But Mandela’s health now appears so frail that any photo op will require delicate handling.
The presidential trip, from June 26 to July 3, comes late for many Africans who had hoped that the son of a Kenyan would give priority to the continent. After more than four years in power, he has spent less than 24 hours in sub-Saharan Africa – a solitary visit to Ghana in 2009.
Former Chinese president Hu Jintao, by contrast, has made five trips to Africa as head of state, while his successor Xi Jinping sped to three resource-rich African countries just a month after taking over. The Asian giant has exercised soft power through building schools and hospitals.
China has quickly overtaken the U.S. with an infrastructure-for-minerals approach that wins friends and influences people. Some governments have welcomed a lack of “preaching” on human rights, pointing out that America’s own record is checkered.
Last year, the White House last year put out a tepid Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa with vague objectives: to strengthen democratic institutions; spur economic growth, trade, and investment; advance peace and security; and promote opportunity and development.
Elsewhere, however, a new mantra of “Africa rising,” can be heard at investment conferences, thinktanks and in media commentaries.
“He’s totally neglecting Africa,” said Koffi Kouakou, a Johannesburg-based political commentator in a press interview. “There’s not enough time to catch up. It’s a strategic neglect that is going to be costing America big time.
“Our expectations were too high. His visit now won’t have the same degree of reverberation as when he first became president.”
•IRAN: Mullahocracy: DUBAI (Reuters) – Iranian authorities barred two potentially powerful and disruptive candidates from running in next month’s presidential election on Tuesday, ensuring a contest largely among hardliners loyal to the clerical supreme leader.
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a veteran companion of the Islamic Republic’s founder, a former president and thought potentially sympathetic to reform, was denied a place on the ballot by the Guardian Council of clerics and jurists, state media said.
So too was Esfandiar Rahim Mashaie, a close aide to outgoing president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose hardline followers have jockeyed with those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Both rejections may generate angry responses and Mashaie for one said he would appeal, while urging supporters to stay calm.
•CLG: Report: Assad preparing missile strike against Tel Aviv in case attacked again
Syria is making preparations to strike Tel Aviv in case Israel launches another attack on its territory, The Sunday Times reported. The Syrian army has begun deploying advanced surface-to-surface missiles, the report said, adding that it has received orders to strike central Israel in case additional attacks against Syria are carried out. The Sunday Times said that the information was obtained by reconnaissance satellites that were tracking the Syrian forces. According to the report, Syria was deploying advanced Tishreen missiles which are capable of carrying a half-ton warhead
•Syria War as seen by Stratfor
The battle for the Syrian city of Al-Qusayr, which came under regime artillery fire May 19, is actually part of a larger battle for the highly coveted Homs governorate. As we noted in 2012, the battle has wide-reaching ramifications for the Syrian rebels since Al-Qusayr sits along a major transit point for rebel supplies and reinforcements coming in from Lebanon. But it is equally important to loyalist forces. If the Syrian regime loses control of the Orontes River Valley and its major road junctions, Damascus will be largely cut off from Aleppo and the Alawite-dominated coast, which would limit the regime’s access to supply lines from port cities.
•Report Notes Restrictions On Israeli, Palestinian Journalists ☛
•Mother Jones: Conviction of Genocidal Dictator Efrain Rios Montt Overturned by Guatemala’s Highest Court
On Monday, Guatemala’s Constitutional Court overturned the conviction of former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, an army general who ruled as de facto president from 1982 to 1983.
•CHUTZPAH WATCH: CLG: >Anthony Weiner declares he’s running for NYC mayor
Former congressman Anthony Weiner (D) officially jumped into the race for New York City mayor, ending weeks of speculation by declaring his political comeback bid in a video posted late Tuesday on YouTube. “I am running for mayor because I have been fighting for the middle class and those struggling to make it my entire life, and I hope I get a second chance to work for you,” Weiner said.
Time To Act
•Save The Libraries:Sent today To Our Imperial Mayor Michael 27 Billion Bloomberg
Dear Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn,
I love my library and am very worried that if the proposed City funding cuts
go through, the services that I and so many others rely on will be severely
I urge you to stop the cuts! Without your help, The New York Public Library
will lose tens of millions of dollars of City support. Thousands of essential
and irreplaceable services for children, teens, and seniors would be
eliminated, including job search help, computer training, English classes,
and more. Hundreds of librarians and other staff would also lose their jobs.
Libraries have never been more important. They are lifelines that make
neighborhoods stronger. Considering their key role, libraries should receive
more city funding—not face crippling cuts for the fifth year in a row.
Please restore funding to public libraries. No place does more for more New
•Letter Re Da Mayor and Our Schools
Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013, 10:47 AM
I’m delighted to see that the Times has finally started to notice that the “reforms” pushed by Mayor Bloomberg have made things worse, not better. (“Education, Vision and the Mayor’s Race,” May 19), This is a notion that has been obvious to actual educators for a decade, at least.
Our school system (and those of most big cities — things are worse in Rahm Emmanuel’s Chicago) has been taken over by cadres of educational hustlers (administrators) who are well paid for their playing the part of overseers, and who work hand in hand with slick salesmen selling expensive fixes that fix nothing. Why be surprised? This is a nearly trillion dollar business, nationwide.
Who suffers? Most of all, the kids, of course. All wise parents are increasingly ticked off. And teachers — especially good teachers, teachers who care — suffer, too. It has become a pretty sucky profession. Educating to the tests is stupid, and being forced to jump through endless hoops by contemptuous administrators is worse.
If the Times is really interested, why not find some likely reporters, get them jobs as teachers (without letting the schools know that they are reporters, of course) and see what a story you get? I guarantee that you’ll be shocked.
•Support this Avaaz Campaign in South Africa
At any moment, President Zuma could sign the controversial Secrecy Bill into law. But if we make enough noise, we could convince him to send it straight to the Constitutional Court for review before it becomes law and starts eroding our democracy. Sign the urgent petition now:
At any moment Zuma could sign the Secrecy Bill into law — one of the worst attacks on democracy and free speech since Apartheid. But we can force him to give the courts a final say, saving our free speech rights from the worst parts of the law.
The President has the power to send controversial bills to the Constitutional Court before they are enacted to make sure they don’t violate our most precious freedoms. But he’s only going to delay the Secrecy Bill’s corrupt protections for his own government if there’s a massive nation-wide outcry. We only have days to make sure he hears it.
He’s already feeling the heat, but the bill could be signed any day now. Click here to call on Zuma to protect our constitution and follow the law. Then forward this email to everyone:
•Great Kissinger on the Hudson
Thursday, May 23, 2013. 5:30 pm
Protest When Kissinger Gets Intrepid Freedom Award
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
Pier 86, 12 Ave. & 46 Street
New York City
Join ETAN and other organizations in protesting Henry Kissinger’s appearance at the Intrepid Air and Space Museum. Kissinger – whose government career involved denying people their freedom and democratic rights – is slated to receive the Intrepid Freedom Award for – we kid you not – “his distinguished career defending the values of freedom and democracy.” The ceremony also will honor David Koch, executive vice president of Kansas-based Koch Industries, Inc.
Sponsoring organizations include: ETAN, Big Apple Coffee Party, Campaign for Peace and Democracy, Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War, War Resisters League/NYC, Veterans for Peace Chapter 34, War Criminals Watch/World Can’t Wait.
RSVP and updates on Facebook here
Remember Kissinger’s sordid history concerning East Timor, West Papua, Vietnam, Cambodia, Chile, Cyprus, Bangladesh, Angola and elsewhere.
Some cities have a litter problem, some suffer from high crime rates. And then you have Dubai, which for the last several years has been facing the unusual problem of high end sports cars being abandoned and left to gather thick layers of dust at airport car parks and on the roadside across the city.
EJC: Saudi Arabia warns Twitter users of impending #damnation
The head of the Saudi Arabian religious police has condemned anyone who uses social media, especially Twitter, of having “lost this world and his afterlife.” According to a BBC report, the Saudi Grand Mufti, Sheik Abdul Aziz al-Asheik, said that Twitter was the “platform for those who did not have any platform,” a view that reflects Riyadh’s concerns that dissidents are using online networking to plot antiestablishment activities. The official’s comments echo the sentiments of the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, who used an April sermon to urge followers to turn their back on Twitter. (TIME)
•••Thanks for reading the Newsdissector.net. Please share it with friends. Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org PLEASE VISIT AND SUPPORT MEDIACHANNEL.ORG
••Quote of the Day: Robert Reich writes: “As global capital becomes ever more powerful, giant corporations are holding governments and citizens up for ransom … while sheltering their profits in the lowest-tax jurisdictions they can find.”
I looked in the many reports I saw about the tornado in Oklahoma for the words climate change, but didn’t see them. Haven’t there been studies liking the intensification of these severe weather events–like our own Hurricane Sandy–to something bigger going on with our planet? Yet it is always the second day or second week story, if at all. Why?
•As Of 10:30 last night:
The storm reportedly killed at least 51 people and caused extensive damage in Moore, Oklahoma, which is just south of Oklahoma City.That number will rise. In May, 1999 a massive tornado destroyed large parts of this town, killing 41 people.
…As Of This morning, 91 dead (AJE)
•On the Enhanced Fujita damage scale of tornadoes, this was probably a 4 or 5, at the highest ends of violence, with winds reaching 200 miles per hour.
•The twister was on the ground for 40 minutes, ravaging a 20-mile path.
•It obliterated a school where third-graders huddled in a hallway and were buried in rubble. Many of those children were pulled — wet and dirty but alive — from the shredded school.
•AP: Massive tornado roars through Oklahoma City suburb
MOORE, Okla. (AP) – A monstrous tornado as much as a mile wide with winds up to 200 mph roared through the Oklahoma City suburbs Monday, flattening entire neighborhoods, setting buildings on fire and landing a direct blow on an elementary school. There were no immediate reports of injuries or deaths, but the storm laid waste to scores of buildings in Moore, south of the city.
•WATCH: Local TV: A Terrifying Time Lapse Of The Moore, Oklahoma Tornado
Shocking footage of the tornado that devastated Moore, OK.
• WP: The Biggest Tornado In History?
A large, violent tornado has carved a long, destructive path on the south side of Oklahoma City.
At 70, Lela Hartman believed we would one day use technology to prevent disasters like the Tri-State Tornado she witnessed as a small child. Are we getting any closer?
The Issues Of the Day
• News360: Obamacare is Working
• National Journal: IRS To Implement Obamacare
Even before news organizations confirmed that Sarah Hall Ingram, who headed the tax-exempt division of the IRS, would lead agency’s implementation of the ACA, Republicans wasted no time trying to link the scandal to the law.
As the investigation into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups begins, here’s an explainer to answer the role that the tax-collecting agency plays in the health care law’s implementation.
Q: What role will the IRS play in implementing the Affordable Care Act?
A: The short answer is: a substantial one. In his ruling on the constitutionality of Obama’s health care law, Chief Justice John Roberts that Congress can regulate health care under its ability to tax. That set up the agency to take a lead in implementing the law, along with the Health and Human Services Department. (The Labor Department will also play a role.) There are 47 tax provisions — including the small business health care credit and the medical device tax — that will go into effect. The agency will have to administer those provisions and collect taxes where they’re due.
The agency will also have to determine whether people qualify for a health insurance premium tax credit as part of the minimum coverage requirement. Americans will also have to report their insurance status on their taxes each year, and the agency will have to review that and collect a $95 penalty on those not carrying insurance. Businesses will be required to provide health care to their employees or face a penalty if they do not. The agency will set these rules and collect the penalties when businesses aren’t in compliance.
Q: How many people will the agency have to hire? How much will this cost?
The agency said it would need nearly 2,000 people to administer health care reform by the end of the year. The Government Accountability Office estimated in a June report that the government would spend $881 million to implement the first four years of the law, and the administration requested $440 million as part of its 2014 budget request.
Q: Who is Sarah Hall Ingram and why does she matter?
A: Ingram directs the IRS’s Affordable Care Act office and was in charge of the tax-exempt division from 2009 to 2012, overlapping with the time when the targeting first began. She began to oversee implementation of the health law in December of 2010, which was six months before her subordinate found out about the profiling, according to the AP. Her successor in the tax-exempt division, Joseph Grant, said this week he would retire on June 3 as hearings on the scandal got under way in Congress.
Q: How are Republicans using that revelation politically?
A: Republicans rushed to connect Obama’s health care law to the IRS scandal, especially after the news that Ingram would oversee the health law’s implementation at the IRS. “The recent deplorable actions at the IRS have shattered our trust that they can responsibly handle the people’s sensitive medical information,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota asked: “Does this means that some government plutocrat can look at my personal healthcare data? Could I be denied healthcare? Could it be delayed?” she asked. The law does not require the IRS to collect or view information about individuals’ health.
Democrats pushed back quickly against the GOP’s assertions. A Democratic staffer for the Ways and Means committee emailed a reporter pointing out that Ingram was assigned to oversee the health care law six months before the inspector general’s report said her subordinate was notified of the targeting. The point of the email was to try to de-couple the IRS and the ACA. Democratic lawmakers, meanwhile, criticized the agency but also tacitly acknowledged the political liability inherent in the scandal. “It’s also important to not allow the hearings to become politicized,” said Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee.
• News Republic: A Failure to Communicate: Why Gun Control Is Destined to Fail
•John Conyers and Philip L. Harvey, Roll Call via Portside: An Answer to Unemployment: A Jobs-for-All Bill
It has been five years since the financial crisis struck, and progress in putting the unemployed back to work still lags, with no end in sight.
With almost 12 million Americans unemployed and millions more underemployed, we have waited long enough for government action. Listen to the stories of the unemployed, and you will realize that we are facing a national tragedy that we would never tolerate if it were caused by a natural disaster. The unemployed deserve swift action to address the devastation of unemployment.
During the calamity of the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt understood the responsibility government bore to its citizens in a time of need. He recognized that it was unconscionable to allow millions of hardworking Americans to suffer while they waited for the economy to recover. Rather than stand idle in the face of such suffering, he created millions of temporary jobs for the jobless. They built roads and schools and parks; they filled schools with teachers and staffed public health projects. They preserved historic sites and brought music, drama and art to public spaces. They turned a national tragedy into a national revival.
Now is the time for us to implement similar job programs. It is time to put America back to work while we wait for the economy to complete its recovery — repairing America’s infrastructure and improving our communities in the process. We can pay for the jobs we need as we go along with a small tax on the financial sector whose excesses led us into this recession.
To do this, we support HR 1000, the Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment and Training Act. By advocating for this legislation, we intend to push Congress to take seriously the federal government’s responsibility to put Americans back to work, and we intend to show that it can be done without raising deficits. This 21st-century New Deal strategy, pioneered in programs like the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps, would create 3.1 million to 6.2 million full-time, market-wage jobs with health insurance benefits in the first two years of program operations, plus 1 million to 2 million private sector jobs from increased spending in the economy.
Over the longer run, this act is designed to eliminate the residual joblessness that burdens poor and disadvantaged workers, even in periods of general prosperity. Job vacancy data shows that our economy still suffers from a serious job shortage even when unemployment falls under 5 percent. Despite what many economists say, it is not full employment if there are not enough jobs available for everyone who wants to work. The Humphrey-Hawkins strategy would allow us to close this job gap without triggering the inflationary tendencies that constrain other job-creation strategies at such times.
This initiative would create several times as many jobs per stimulus dollar as alternative stimulus options, such as deficit spending and tax cuts. The jobs would also be created much faster and with a targeted focus where work is most needed. It also would provide American businesses with what they really need — paying customers with steady work. For those who want to see government assistance reduced or not given at all, making sure jobs are available for those who need them is the only solution.”
•EJC: Justice Department’s scrutiny of Fox News reporter James Rosen in leak case draws fire
Journalists, First Amendment watchdogs and government transparency advocates reacted with outrage Monday to the revelation that the Justice Department had investigated the newsgathering activities of a Fox News reporter as a potential crime in a probe of classified leaks. Critics said the government’s suggestion that James Rosen, Fox News’s chief Washington correspondent, was a “co-conspirator” for soliciting classified information threatened to criminalize press freedoms protected by the First Amendment. (The Washington Post)
•AP: More Obama aides knew of IRS audit; Obama not told
WASHINGTON (AP) – White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and other senior advisers knew in late April that an impending report was likely to say the IRS had inappropriately targeted conservative groups, President Barack Obama’s spokesman disclosed Monday, expanding the circle of top officials who knew of the audit beyond those named earlier. But McDonough and the other advisers did not tell Obama…
• Slate: Letter to a Young Scandalmonger
• News Republic: Obama’s Teflon Presidency?
• News 360: “Duck Dynasty” nation needs Sarah Palin
He was the Republican Obama Wanted to Appoint as His House Republican.
• Michael Winship and Bill Moyers: Enabling Greed Makes U.S.Sick
At the end of a week that reminds us to be ever vigilant about the dangers of government overreaching its authority, whether by the long arm of the IRS or the Justice Department, we should pause to think about another threat — from too much private power obnoxiously intruding into public life.
All too often, instead of acting as abrake on runaway corporate power and greed, government becomes their enabler, underminingthe very rules and regulations intended to keep us safe.
Think of inadequateinspections of food and the food-related infections which kill 3,000 Americanseach year and make 48 million sick. A new study from Johns Hopkins showselevated levels of arsenic — known to increase a person’s risk of cancer — inchicken meat. According to the university’sCenter for a Livable Future, “Arsenic-based drugs have been used for decades to make poultrygrow faster and improve the pigmentation of the meat. The drugs are also approvedto treat and prevent parasites in poultry… Currently in the U.S., there is nofederal law prohibiting the sale or use of arsenic-based drugs in poultry feed.”
And here’s a story in The Washington Post about toxic,bacteria-killing chemicals used in poultry plants to clean more chickens morequickly to meet increased demand and make more money. According to Amanda Hitt,director of the Government Accountability Project’s Food Integrity Campaign,“They are mixing chemicals together in these plants, and it’s making peoplesick. Does it work better at killing off pathogens? Yes, but it also can sendsomeone into respiratory arrest.”
So far, the government has done next to nothing.No research into the possible side effects, no comprehensive recordkeeping onillnesses. “Instead,” the Postreports, “they review data provided by chemical manufacturers.” What’s more, theDepartment of Agriculture is about to allow the production lines to move evenfaster, by as much as 25 percent, which means more chemicals, more exposure,more sickness.
Think of that and think of the 85,000industrial chemicals available today – only a handful have been tested forsafety. Ian Urbina writes in The New YorkTimes, “Hazardous chemicals have become so ubiquitous that scientists nowtalk about babies being born pre-polluted, sometimes with hundred s ofsynthetic chemicals showing up in their blood.”
Think, too, of that horrific explosionof ammonium nitrate in the Texas fertilizer plant. Fifteen people werekilled and their little town devastated. The magazine Mother Jones noted, “Inspectionsare virtually non-existent; regulatory agencies don’t talk to each other; andthere’s no such thing as a buffer zone when it comes to constructing plants andstorage facilities in populated areas.” For years, the Fertilizer Institute, describedas “the nation’s leading lobbying organization of the chemical and agriculturalindustries,” resisted regulation and legislators went along. People can losetheir lives when federal or state government winks at bad corporate practices –4,500 workplace deaths annually at a cost to America of nearly half a trilliondollars.
As columnist and author David Sirotaobserves, “If allthis data was about a terrorist threat, the reaction would be swift — negligentfederal agencies would be roundly criticized and the specific state’s laxattitude toward security would be lambasted. Yet, after the fertilizer plantexplosion, there has been no proactive reaction at all, other than TexasRepublican Gov. Rick Perry boasting about his state’s ‘comfort with the amountof oversight’ that already exists.”
•Atlantic: Facebook a Year Later–What Really Happened?
•Tumblr Exec Says Site To Stay Independent
Apple is accused of being “among America’s largest tax avoiders” by a Senate committee, who says the company avoided paying billions of dollars in US taxes.
•FT: Roula Khalaf and Abigail Fielding Smith, Qatar bankrolls Syrian revolt with cash and arms
The gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3bn over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government, but is now being nudged aside by Saudi Arabia as the prime source of arms to rebels.
The cost of Qatar’s intervention, its latest push to back an Arab revolt, amounts to a fraction of its international investment portfolio. But its financial support for the revolution that has turned into a vicious civil war dramatically overshadows western backing for the opposition.
In dozens of interviews with the Financial Times conducted in recent weeks, rebel leaders both abroad and within Syria as well as regional and western officials detailed Qatar’s role in the Syrian conflict, a source of mounting controversy.
The small state with a gargantuan appetite is the biggest donor to the political opposition, providing generous refugee packages to defectors (one estimate puts it at $50,000 a year for a defector and his family) and has provided vast amounts of humanitarian support.
In September, many rebels in Syria’s Aleppo province received a one-off payment of $150 courtesy of Qatar. Sources close to the Qatari government say total spending has reached as much as $3bn, while rebel and diplomatic sources put the figure at $1bn at most.
For Qatar, owner of the world’s third-largest gas reserves, its intervention in Syria is part of an aggressive quest for global recognition and is merely the latest chapter in its attempt to establish itself as a major player in the region, following its backing of Libya’s rebels who overthrew Muammer Gaddafi in 2011.
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which tracks arms transfers, Qatar has sent the most weapons deliveries to Syria, with more than 70 military cargo flights into neighbouring Turkey between April 2012 and March this year.
But though its approach is driven more by pragmatism and opportunism, than ideology, Qatar has become entangled in the polarised politics of the region, setting off scathing criticism. “You can’t buy a revolution,” says an opposition businessman.
•Via Yahoo: Israel fires back at Syria after gunshots at its troops
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli troops shot at a target across the Syrian frontier on Tuesday in response to gunfire that struck its forces in the Golan Heights, the Israeli military said. A statement said a military vehicle was damaged by shots fired from Syria but that there were no injuries. It said that soldiers “returned precise fire”. Gunfire incidents across the frontier from Syria have recurred in past months during an escalating a civil war there in which rebels have sought to topple President Bashar al-Assad. …
•AlJazeera: Pakistan’s Incoming President Calls For Talks With the Taliban`
•Mail&Guardian South Africa: The Obamas are coming to SA
Barack Obama will be coming to South Africa as the president of the US for the first time at the end of June as part of a presidential tour.
•BBC: Obama hails Burma leader on US visit
President Barack Obama praises the leadership of Burma’s Thein Sein after historic White House talks, but urges his visitor to halt violence against Muslims
World Affairs Editor John Simpson examines the growing crisis faced by South Africa’s white communities.
•World Crunch: Wave Of Car Bombs Kills At Least 32 Across Iraq
The Toll has Risen Since This report
Ray Manzarek, keyboardist and founder member of the 1960s rock band The Doors, dies aged 74 in Germany after a long battle with cancer.
•Guardian: Plaza de Joe Strummer inaugurated in Granada
•••Your comments and story suggestions welcome. Write email@example.com Visit Mediachannel.org
•Hahaha: Oh Say Can You See: The Butchering of the National Anthem
The big news remains the Scandals plaguing the Obama Administration and an escalating war in Syria.
•Christian Science Monitor: The good news – and the bad news – for Obama in scandal-tinged polls
Despite a trio of political scandals, President Obama’s approval rating has not slipped in public opinion polls. But most Americans don’t think much of the way the administration has handled the issues, and they believe further investigation is justified.
•Atlantic: On the Modern History of THE Scandal
•Coming Attractions: Obama Speech To Address Drones, Guantanamo, Terrorism
•Vodio: Watch–CNN’s Howard Kurtz, AP Under Assault
•News Republic: AP chief says phone probe makes news sources reluctant to talk
t/h William Shanley: WSWS. The AP spying scandal and the crisis of American democracy
The Obama administration’s secret seizure of the phone records of Associated Press reporters is the latest attack on core democratic rights in the United States.
Last week, the Justice Department acknowledged that it had obtained a subpoena in February of this year to require telecommunications companies to turn over two months of phone records on some 20 lines used by the AP. The subpoena was part of an investigation into an alleged leak of classified information that had occurred the year before.
It is likely that many more media outlets have been similarly targeted, and the administration has refused to respond to requests that it reveal what other records were seized. Anyone who speaks to the media about any matter has to assume that their phone numbers and contact information have been or could be made available to the government by secret court order.
There could hardly be a clearer violation of the First Amendment guarantee of the freedom of the press.
On Thursday, Obama made his first comments on the case in a press conference at the White House. His remarks exposed the fact that the president, who swore an oath to defend the Constitution, is utterly indifferent to and ignorant of the democratic principles that it upholds.
Obama proclaimed that the freedom of the press, a right enshrined in the First Amendment of the Constitution, must strike a “balance” with the prerogatives and interests of the military-intelligence apparatus. This argument essentially invalidates the unambiguous declaration of the First Amendment that no law shall be promulgated “abridging the freedom of speech or of the press…” But according to Obama, this constitutional guarantee of the people’s rights can be tossed aside when it interferes with operations and interest s of state.
In another statement that exposed the president’s cynicism and indifference toward the democratic principles articulated in the Bill of Rights, Obama stated that, “free press, free expression and the open flow of information help hold me accountable… and help our democracy function.”
•CLG: Pentagon Spec Ops Chief Sees ’10 to 20′ More Years of War Against al-Qaida
The Pentagon’s chief of irregular warfare still sees a war against al-Qaida that will last decades, all over the world — a prospect that prompted astonishment and constitutional debate in the Senate. Asked at a Senate hearing today how long the war on terrorism will last, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, answered, “at least 10 to 20 years.” It was just two months ago that the top U.S. intelligence official testified that al-Qaida had been battered by the U.S. into a state of disarray… Yet a spokeswoman, Army Col. Anne Edgecomb, clarified that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today — atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted.
Biowarfare consultant Richard J. Danzig urged the government to stockpile a type of anthrax remedy. But he had a stake in one such drug’s success.
•CLG: The 9/11 Phone Calls: Disturbing Irregularities Uncovered in the Calls that Flashed around the World
The 9/11 Consensus Panel offers four evidence-based Points about the alleged phone calls from the 9/11 flights. The famous “let’s roll” drama of the passenger revolt on UA 93 was relayed by passenger Todd Beamer’s 13-minute unrecorded seat-back call to GTE telephone supervisor Lisa Jefferson, who reported Beamer as strangely tranquil, declining to speak to his wife. Eerily, Beamer’s line remained open for 15 minutes after the crash. Oddly, the Verizon wireless record shows that 19 calls were made from Beamer’s cell phone long after the crash of UA 93. Initial media reports and FBI interviews detailed more than a dozen cell phone calls from the planes at high elevation. Yet in 2001, a telephone spokesperson stated that sustained mobile calls were not possible above 10,000 feet.
•Michael Brenner: Kerry and Hagel
John Kerry and Chuck Hagel have been at the helm of American foreign and security policy for some months now. Much was expected from new faces, new approaches and – perhaps – some new thinking. How are they doing? Any proposed answer, however tentative, depends on the standards used to measure success or failure in the conduct of the United States’ external relations. If you judge the direction of the Obama administration’s foreign policy over the past four-plus years as basically sound, then there are solid grounds for rating the new team highly. If you wanted shifts in its orientation and methods, then you justifiably will register disappointment. For there as yet is no sign that anything has changed. That holds for form as well as substance.
Many expected that Kerry would bring to the State Department a smoother, more subtle diplomacy. By experience and reputation, he was advertised as someone who understands that mode of address counts in foreign dealings; so, too, is how one expresses American intentions and desires. After years of Leon Panetta’s abrasiveness, and Hillary Clinton’s condescension, greater tact and finesse promised dividends on the international stage. That positive development has not been forthcoming. Kerry ricochets around the world like an unguided missile as if bent on topping Hillary’s record accumulation of frequent flyer miles. More troubling, purpose and adequate preparation are lacking. So he flies into Baghdad with the well publicized intent to cajole Mr. Maliki into breaking off his material and political support to Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime. The Iraqi Prime Minister tells Uncle Sam to go to hell. Secretary Kerry next shows up in Ankara with the equally well publicized intent to cajole Tayip Erdogan into breaking his plans to visit Gaza. The Turkish Prime Minister tells Uncle Sam to go to hell. Kerry follows up with a well publicized call for the Palestinian quasi-government of Mr.Mahmoud Abbas to meet with the Israelis to discuss ‘peace’ despite President Obama’s having cut the ground from under him during his recent visit to Israel by accepting unceasing West Bank settlement expansion. Assad fires his US friendly Prime Minister, Fayyad, instead. All of this is inept, embarrassing and exacts a price in American prestige and influence in the main arena of the country’s foreign policy.
Mr. Hagel, by contrast, is a more substantial person that Mr. Kerry and with better instincts. Yet he too yields to the prevailing Washington culture to engage in gestures as a substitute for action. Hence, a few weeks back, when the question of possible American military intervention in Syria rose to the surface again – thanks to reports that Assad has used chemical weapons against the rebels, and thereby crossed a ‘red line’ pointlessly drawn by Obama – Hagel jumps into the fray to say that we are not certain what happened and haven’t decided what to do if it did happen. In other words, giving in to the compulsion to open one’s mouth even if one has nothing to say. That accords with the prevailing Washington belief that “I make sounds, therefore I am” – so I can’t be overlooked. That a person of Hagel’s sobriety should partake in this nonsensical pastime testifies to how inextricable style and substance have become linked even on matters of grave consequence.
R e m e m b e r: We Still Don’t know What Groups and How Many Groups Were Targeted. The NY Times reported yesterday that liberal and left groups were also affected.
•ABC: Republicans Informed Of Investigation LAST YEAR
(DS: Q: What did they know and when did they forget they knew it?)
Much has been made of the fact that senior Treasury Department officials were told about the investigation into the treatment of tea party groups in June 2012 – months before last year’s the Presidential election. Republicans who requested the investigation were also told about it at approximately the same time.
In a letter dated July 11, 2012, the man who conducted the investigation – IRS inspector general J. Russell George – wrote to Rep. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, telling him that he was investigating the issue and offering to keep him updated as the investigation progressed.
“The Oversight Committee knew about the audit because it requested it,” an Issa aide told ABC News. Issa released the letter, along with his own letter dated June 28, 2012 requesting the investigation, last week.
•AP: Tea party looks to take advantage of moment
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Is the tea party getting its groove back? Shouts of vindication from around the country suggest the movement’s leaders certainly think so. They say the IRS acknowledgement that it had targeted their groups for extra scrutiny – a claim that tea party activists had made for years – is helping pump new energy into the coalition.
•Up to 20% of U.S. Children May Have a Mental Disorder
Econintersect: The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has released a report that finds the number of children in the U.S. with mental disorders has been growing between 1994 and 2011. In any given year between 13% and 20% of U.S. children experience a mental disorder. The treament costs are estimated at $247 billion annually. The new report just released by the CDC covers data fromm 2005-2011.
•News360: FBI reportedly joins Bachmann campaign finance probe
•NYT: BEIRUT, Lebanon — Syrian government forces backed by Lebanese fighters from the militant group Hezbollah pushed Sunday into parts of a strategic city long held by rebels, according to both an antigovernment activist and pro-government news channels. If the advance holds, it would be a serious setback for opponents of President Bashar al-Assad and further inflame regional tensions.
•Human Rights Watch: Israel Should Strengthen Restrictions on Use of White Phosphhorus
•BBC–Tunisia: Tunisia police clash with Islamists
Clashes between Tunisian police and hundreds of supporters of the radical Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia leave one person dead and others injured.
•Nigeria: Boko Haram militants ‘in disarray’
The Nigerian military says that Boko Haram militants in the north-east of the country are “in disarray” as a result of its offensive against them.
•Guardian: Venezuela’s military enters high-crime slums
•Bloomberg Views on Myanmar: “Activists complain that U.S. President Barack Obama, who welcomes Myanmar’s President Thein Sein to the White House this week, is embracing the former general too soon, before he’s proved his reformist bona fides. In fact, Obama is late to the party. International businessmen, academics and aid workers throng Yangon’s dilapidated airport. … For a once-shunned nation, such enthusiasm is heady and welcome. It’s also becoming one of Myanmar’s biggest challenge.” http://bloom.bg/12FhwL4
•WP: Karen Lewis, the fiery leader of the Chicago Teachers Union who led a strike last year and became a nationally known anti-school reform figure, has been elected to another three-year term as president. Today she will lead the first of three days of protests against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close 54 public schools.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported that according to preliminary results, Lewis won about 80 percent of the votes, soundly defeating a candidate representing a coalition of groups that used to run the union until Lewis took office three years.
•AP: Jamie Dimon under pressure ahead of investor vote
NEW YORK (AP) – Jamie Dimon, chairman and CEO of the country’s biggest bank, faces a key test this week: His shareholders are voting on whether to let him keep both jobs. It’s been just more than a year since his bank, JPMorgan Chase, revealed a surprise trading loss that tarnished its usually stellar reputation in Washington and on Wall Street, and what a difference it has made.
Of course. After all, it’s not as if anyone is going to stop them! They crashed the world economy and got nothing more than a couple of taps on the wr…
•Wall St. Journal: The Class Of 2013: The Most Indebted Ever (http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2013/05/18/number-of-the-week-class-of-2013-most-indebted-ever/)
•Marketwatch: Dear Class Of ’13: You’ve Been Scammed (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/dear-class-of-13-youve-been-scammed-2013-05-17?link=MW_popular)
•CNN Money: Boo-Hoo: Bernie Madoff Can’t Sleep (http://money.cnn.com/2013/05/16/news/companies/madoff-ponzi-prison/index.html?iid=HP_LN)
• More Media Concentration: Yahoo to Buy Tumblr for $1.1 Billion
•Today In New York
Revolution Books Presents:
A D i a l o g u e b e t w e e n
C O R N E L W E S T & C A R L D I X
“Mass Incarceration + Silence = Genocide.
Act to STOP it Now”
Monday, May 20, 7:30pm
@ The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew
263 W. 86th Street
(between Broadway and West End Ave.)
*Judith Malina Performs at Eldridge Street
•The new week is here…Spring Has Sprung. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please check out Mediachannel.org
•May 19: Malcolm X’s Birthday
***Sunday Morning: I will be joining Reverend Jesse Jackson and his guests on his weekly internet radio show, GiveHopeAliveRadio.com. I will be on from 8 AM to 10 Am. You can call in.
•Press Release: Jackson Appeals for Non-Violence in Nigeria
The Reverend Jesse L. Jackson Sr. was granted an honorary Nigerian Citizenship while on his recent trip to Nigeria. While there, he spoke of a need for a peaceful non-violent resolution to the current violence in this African nation’s northern region. He expressed the need for closing the gap between the Rich and Poor and holding that country’s oil companies accountable.
(AJE: Nigeria sets curfew in Boko Haram stronghold
Residents of Maiduguri ordered to stay indoors as military launches strikes against armed group in the north.)
He also expressed the urgency of spreading the country’s wealth to the entire Nigerian society and not just to a privileged few. Africa is now the economic engine for the entire world and in the next two (2) years is on target to surpass China economically.)
Saturday: The Day of Rest That Wasn’t
It was an overcast and rainy Saturday but i was cheered by the Dance Parade that swarmed down Broadway into University, past Union Square and Washington Square Park. There must have been l00 or more groups, some with drummers, others with sound systems, boogieing down the street, showing over their moves and the pure joy of performing for the people. There were kids and seniors, groups, it seemed from every corner of Mexico and Bolivia, all in colorful national dress doing folk dances and ballroom dances, and some rap moves. It was very diverse–and lots of fun. Hooray for the dancers of New York.Viva.
At union Square fast food workers who are organizing unions nationwide were our performing guerrilla theater.mocking the BiG Mac, Burger King and Wendy’s and explaining why they deserve a living wage.
And then later in the evening I was at a party and dinner at a software company that honored the memory of internet activist Aaron Schwartz and Hugo Chavez and heard a talk by Chris Hedges on the suspension of constitutional rights. He just visited with Julian Assange in London. There were also presentations from South African activists, The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, retired from Chicago and immigrant rights advocates from the South West.
I checked out around ll, but it could have gone on all night and the issues deserve more airtime. I don’t have time now to go into more detail
On This Theme: Tom Carter, The Threat to Political Dissent (WSWS.org)
In a series of prosecutions, precedents are being established for the criminalization of political dissent in America.
Last week, Massachusetts high school student Cameron D’Ambrosio was arrested and charged under “terrorism” laws merely for posting lyrics on Facebook that make reference to the Boston Marathon bombings. He faces 20 years in prison. A string of similar “terror” prosecutions around the country take aim at the First Amendment protection of free speech and political expression.
The authorities have already branded select participants in Occupy Wall Street and anti-NATO protests as “terrorists.” Last year, heavily-armed “domestic terrorism” commandos raided Occupy Wall Street protesters’ homes in Washington and Oregon, using battering rams and stun grenades. The commandos were authorized to seize all “anti-government or anarchist literature or material.”
As with freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, also guaranteed under the First Amendment, has not been officially repealed. The reality, however, is that political assembly is already a semi-criminal activity in America. Political protests are routinely met with vastly disproportionate police mobilizations, confinement to oxymoronic “free speech zones,” “kettling” (in which protesters are surrounded and forcibly moved in one direction or prevented from leaving an area), beatings, tear gas, pepper spray, stun grenades or rubber bullets. The standard government response to a political protest is a massive show of force, complete with police snipers on rooftops.
The drive towards the establishment of an American police state, initiated under the Bush administration, has shifted into high gear under Obama. For nearly twelve years, the phony “war on terror” has been used as the overarching pretext for illegal imperialist war abroad and a methodical assault on democratic rights at home. The basic structure of authoritarian rule is now emerging into plain view.
Over the recent period, the government has vastly expanded its warrantless surveillance of the population. The Obama administration has constructed a massive data center in Utah big enough to store the contents of every personal computer in the country. Already at a government agent’s fingertips–without a warrant–are all of a person’s Internet browsing activity, telephone conversations, text messages, credit card transactions, mobile phone GPS location data, travel itineraries, Skype and Facebook data, medical records, criminal records, financial records and surveillance camera footage.
•News, News, News
•AJE: Senior Pakistani politician killed in Karachi
Zahra Shahid Hussain, central leader of Imran Khan’s party, shot dead hours before re-polling begins in port city.
•Fluent: ‘Sheila Bair: The interview’
•AP: IRS probe ignored most influential groups
WASHINGTON (AP) – There’s an irony in the Internal Revenue Service’s crackdown on conservative groups. The nation’s tax agency has admitted to inappropriately scrutinizing smaller tea party organizations that applied for tax-exempt status, and senior Treasury Department officials were notified in the midst of the 2012 presidential election season that an internal investigation was underway.
•The NY Times reported Sunday: “Overseen by a revolving cast of midlevel managers, stalled by miscommunication with I.R.S. lawyers and executives in Washington and confused about the rules they were enforcing, the Cincinnati specialists flagged virtually every application with Tea Party in its name. But their review went beyond conservative groups: more than 400 organizations came under scrutiny, including at least two dozen liberal-leaning ones and some that were seemingly apolitical.
•Stevens: Rationale for Bush v. Gore was “unacceptable”
•NYT: Police Say Officer Mistakenly Killed Hofstra Student in Hostage Standoff
A 21-year-old Hofstra University student who was killed in a home invasion on Friday was mistakenly shot in the head by an officer who fired eight times at a man who was holding a gun to the student’s head and then pointed it at him, the police said on Saturday. Seven of the bullets hit the man, who was also killed.
The student, Andrea Rebello, and her twin sister, Jessica, who also lived at the home, just blocks from the university, were among several people taken hostage on Friday morning in an apparent robbery attempt.
The Nassau County police identified the gunman as Dalton Smith, 30, a Hempstead, N.Y., resident with an extensive criminal record who was wanted for violating parole on a robbery conviction.
About 15 or 20 minutes elapsed from the time Mr. Smith burst into the home about 2:20 a.m. Friday until the last shot was fired, the police said.
•NYT: Gay Man Killed in Hate Crime Near Stonewall Bar In New York City
Mark Carson did not hide that he was gay, and when he went out on the town he would often head to Greenwich Village, where years before he was born, much of the struggle for gay liberation unfolded. Yet late Friday night, just blocks from the Stonewall Inn, among the most important landmarks of that struggle, he was confronted with a man screaming antigay slurs, who then stalked him before pulling out a silver revolver and fatally shooting him, the police said.
Sayeth The Pope: Sanders Welcomes Pope Francis Statement on Poverty
WASHINGTON, May 16 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today applauded Pope Francis for condemning a “cult of money” in the world that he said was oppressing the poor.
In a major speech at the Vatican on Thursday, Francis said the global financial system has worsened poverty while benefiting the wealthy few. “While the income of the minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority of the majority is crumbling,” Francis said.
Sanders commended the pope. “At a time when the gap between rich and everyone else is growing wider, at a time when Wall Street and large financial institutions are exerting extraordinary power over the American and world economy, I applaud the pope for speaking out on these enormously important issues,” Sanders said.
The pope’s comments on the financial crisis were made in remarks to ambassadors presenting their credentials at the Vatican.
“The majority of the men and women of our time continue to live daily in situations of insecurity, with dire consequences… People have to struggle to live and, frequently, to live in an undignified way,” the pope said.
•Portside: Deborah Burger of National Nurses United, Hospitals Should be Care Providers not Loan Sharks
Hospital lobbyists have tried for years to convince us all that predatory pricing policies don’t matter. But the grotesque reality tells a different story.
If there is one problem that symbolizes the ongoing national healthcare emergency, it is the rampant price gouging in the healthcare industry that continues to price too many Americans out of access to care and into financial ruin. Not only is the problem not solved by the Affordable Care Act, but it is a likely reason many will continue to demand more effective reform, as in expanding and extending Medicare to cover everyone.
U.S. hospitals are among the biggest abusers, as illuminated in recent data released by Medicare on hospital charges for a variety of common procedures as well as brand new findings by the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, the research arm of the National Nurses United, based on Medicare cost reports.
The nurses’ data augments the Medicare findings, and goes the next step, illustrating a trend of rising high hospital charges while providing context to a very ugly picture and the deplorable impact on anyone who needs healthcare.
Here’s the sobering numbers:
· U.S. hospitals charge on average $331 dollars for every $100 of their total costs, in statistical terms a 331 percent charge to cost ratio.
· While hospital charges over costs have been climbing steadily over the past 15 years – the charges took their biggest leap ever in 2011– a 22 point vault.
· From 2009 to 2011 (the most recent year for which the data is available), hospital charges lunged upward by 16 percent, while hospital costs only increased by 2 percent.
· U.S. hospital profits, pushed upward by the high charges, hit a record $53.2 billion, while nurses see more and more hospitals cutting patient services and limiting access to care.
· One case study is California where hospitals soared past the national average with a charge to cost ratio of 451 percent, or $451 for every $100 of costs.
That similar pricing practices occur elsewhere in the healthcare industry is hardly an excuse for the private hospitals to act more like Wall Street corporations than responsible, community based institutions. It should be no shock that the lowest charges are by government-run hospitals that operate in public, not in secret, and have far more accountability and transparency.
•Ray McGovern, ICH: Boston Suspect’s Writing on the Wall
Tsarnaev’s note is in plain English and that it needs neither translation nor interpretation in solving the mystery: “why do they hate us?”
•AFP: Can AlJazeera Win Hearts and Minds In America?
It will likely face an uphill battle for viewers but could solidify its journalistic brand, analysts say.
“Al-Jazeera is going into extremely unfamiliar terrain,” said Adel Iskandar, a professor of communication at Georgetown University and co-author of a 2002 book on the Qatar-based news organisation.
Iskandar noted, however, that al-Jazeera’s English-language operation around the world “has done a spectacular job” in areas of the world “where international broadcasters can’t afford to go”.
He said that al-Jazeera, with its “extremely deep pockets” thanks to funding by Qatar’s royal family, has the money to hire a solid team of journalists so that it can carve a niche in the difficult US market.
Al-Jazeera has not released details on the launch and declined a request for an interview. But it has announced plans to open offices in a dozen US cities, including Detroit and Chicago, and hired some respected journalists.
If Yahoo! succeeds in its attempt to acquire Tumblr, it will end up with one of the hottest Internet properties in today’s Web, with access to the coveted youth market and a foothold in mobile.
This is not only really cool, but it has striking implications for makers of film and TV.
•Digg: YouTube’s Biggest Stars Celebrate Being YouTube’s Biggest Stars
Do you have any idea who the people in this video are?
•BBC: Thousands rally to oppose Italy cuts
Tens of thousands of protesters, led by trade unionists, rally in the Italian capital Rome against the policies of the new coalition government.
•Atlantic: Artificial Afghanistan
•Winning numbers drawn in Powerball jackpot
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) – Lottery officials say the winning numbers in a near-historic Powerball jackpot have been drawn. They are: 10, 13, 14, 22, 52 and Powerball 11. Officials say the latest Powerball jackpot figure results are still pending. They had estimated it at $600 million. With four of every five possible combinations of Powerball numbers in play, someone is almost sure to win.
•Thank you for visit NewsDissector.net. Please also check out Mediachannel.org. Comments to dissector@mediachannel. Follow Danny Schechter on Facebook and Twitter
What’s In The News, What Isn’t?
***Powerball jackpot at record $600 million
It may hit $1 billion if no one draws the winning numbers this weekend. The Higher It goes, the more people play. The higher the odds of winning.
•In case you missed my dissection of the current scandals and their coverage
•NYT: Two Metro-North Railroad trains collided after a derailment near Fairfield, Conn., at the height of the evening rush on Friday, injuring 60 people, 5 of them critically, and snarling transit corridors in the Northeast, the authorities said.
•FAIR: Is Barack Obama: facing a “scandal trifecta”?
The White House is evidently in a tough spot thanks to what’s being called a “scandal trifecta”: Benghazi, the Justice Department seizing AP phone records, and the IRS targeting Tea Party groups. Much of the Beltway press corps–which has pushed the Benghazi story for months–is seeing the Obama presidency in a state of near free-fall.
“A President Tries to Regain His Footing,” reads a headline in the New York Times today– over a story that makes much of the fact that it rained at Obama’s press conference. “If ever a White House news conference fit the metaphorical moment,” explained Mark Landler, “it was Thursday’s rainy-day affair in the Rose Garden.”
But what’s actually happening?
The release of the Benghazi-related emails makes that story seem like even less of a scandal than it did before–and has exposed the fact that some journalists appear to have been taken in by Republican sources. The Justice Department’s investigation of AP, on the other hand, is serious and reflects a disturbing pattern of Obama administration attacks on investigative journalism–but it might be a hard issue to for Republicans to exploit, given party members’ enthusiasm for prosecuting reporters under the Espionage Act.
The IRS story, then, could very well be the main fuel for the White House’s opposition, so it’s worth a look. The optics of the story, as they say, are pretty clear–and damning. As a giant USA Today headline (5/15/13) put it, “IRS Gave a Pass to Liberals.” A Democratic administration targeting conservative groups while favoring political allies–that certainly sounds Nixonian.
Interestingly, the Web version of one of the USA Today pieces discussed the IRS hurdles that the progressive group Roots Action faced. (Disclosure: That group was founded by FAIR founder Jeff Cohen.) That story would certainly seem to undermines the front-page headline–which might explain why it doesn’t appear in the print version of the paper.
Not a lot is known what was happening at the IRS. But there are some questions and context worth considering. Brad Friedman (BradBlog, 5/16/13) notes that, according to the IRS’s own investigation, the conservative groups that were flagged for additional scrutiny made up about a third of the groups so flagged overall. What were the other groups? We don’t know”.
•NYT: President Obama, struggling to find his footing after one of his most turbulent weeks in office, will try to push past the moment’s political furor with a focus on the few pieces of legislation he believes have a chance in Congress and on executive actions that do not require Republican approval.
The president’s aides, wary of what they say are Republican attempts to seize on woes as a way of thwarting Mr. Obama’s agenda, have ordered the White House staff not to be distracted by approaching hearings on Capitol Hill. Denis R. McDonough, the White House chief of staff, has told those in the West Wing that he expects them to spend no more than 10 percent of their time on the controversies.
Senior US tax officials deny the extra scrutiny given to conservative political groups ahead of the 2012 election was motivated by partisan bias.
From a logical standpoint, it was pretty obvious that Republicans were the source of the inaccurate Benghazi talking point emails reported last Friday…
•William Boardman, RSN: “The strangest thing about the public release on May 15 of 100 or so emails relating to Benghazi talking points was that the White House had already made these same emails available to Congress roughly two months earlier.”
•Friday was the 59th anniversary of the Brown Vs Board of Education decision desegregating schools. The Rainbow Coalition commented:
“Almost 60 years ago today, the United States Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education. With that decision, Thurgood Marshall and his team of lawyers had fought and won a significant battle in the war for equal access to high quality public education. Decades later, we have won many more battles but we continue to fight that same war.
At the time of the Brown decision, African American students were locked out of schools. Today, students of color are pushed out of schools by “zero tolerance” policies and high-stakes tests that create a school to prison pipeline. A report recently released by the ALCU and NAACP found that children have been suspended, expelled and arrested for violating dress codes, arriving late, or talking back. At the same time, testing programs punish schools and educators for low scores, providing an incentive to push out students who struggle to perform. School closings in predominately black and brown communities, allegedly to improve educational outcomes, have instead pushed our nation’s most vulnerable students to drop out into poverty and incarceration.”
•House Passes Bill Which Effectively Weakens the SEC
WASHINGTON – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the “SEC Regulatory Accountability Act” (H.R. 1062), a Republican bill which despite its common-sense title would greatly restrict the ability of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to protect millions of American investors.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, led debate for the Democrats. She told colleagues that the bill would make it easier for special interests to sue the SEC to block rules protecting investors. “The bill weights the scales heavily in favor of industry over investors,” Waters said. “In fact, the words ‘investor protection’ do not appear anywhere in the bill.”
The bill not only would apply to future regulations, but would require the SEC to subject long-established regulations to scrutiny. Congresswoman Waters pointed out that the “bill would require the Commission to review every rulemaking ever issued – even those that have protected our securities markets since the Great Depression.”
•Politico: Immigration reform no sure bet
•News Republic: Obama seeks to cut Afghan war spending by 10 percent
•Pro-Publica: An estimated 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012, according to the latest government report. That’s up from 19,000 in 2010, despite recent claims that the military has been focusing more on prevention efforts.
•AlJazeera: North Korea launches short-range missiles
Two missiles fired in the morning, followed by another in the afternoon, according to South Korea’s defence ministry.
•News Republic: The Real Weapons of Mass Destruction, America’s 300 Million Guns
•AlJazeera: Deadly Iraq violence spills into fourth day
At least seven people killed in apparent sectarian attacks following the country’s deadliest day in months.
•Tyler Durden, ICH: Mystery Sponsor Of Weapons And Money To Syrian Mercenary “Rebels” Revealed
The tiny gas-rich state of Qatar has spent as much as $3bn over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government.
•Phil Greaves: The CIA, Qatar, and the Creation of Jabhat al Nusra.
An armed group belonging to the Free Syrian Army umbrella, for example, can engage in a war crime, and then the next day issue a condemnation. It is an unlimited license for war crimes
*Finian Cunningham, ICH: Cannibalizing Syria: The West to Blame
The grotesque video depicting the cannibalism by one man is really a vignette of the bigger picture of cannibalism that the Western regimes have unleashed on the entire Syrian people.
•Egypt, M&G: Demonstrators calling for Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi to resign and demanding early elections clashed with riot police in Cairo.
•Al Jazeera: Ultra-Orthodox Jews protest Israel army draft
Thousands of men rally in Jerusalem against plans to enrol them into military, saying it would harm their way of life.
•FBI Hackers? Denial-of-Service attacker tells Brian Krebs he’s working for the FBI
LAST WEEK, I BLOGGED BRIAN KREBS’S AMAZING PIECE ON ASYLUMBOOTER, A CHEESY DENIAL-OF-SERVICE-FOR-HIRE SITE APPARENTLY RUN BY A 17-YEAR-OLD CHICAGO-AREA HONOR-ROLL STUDENT NAMED CHANDLER DOWNS, WHOSE PAYPAL ACCOUNT WAS FLUSH WITH MORE THAN $30,000 PAID BY PEOPLE WHO’D LAUNCHED MORE THAN 10,000 ONLINE ATTACKS.
Now, Krebs has uncovered an even weirder booter story: Ragebooter is another DoS company, but this one is run by a guy who claims to be working part time for the FBI, and who says that the FBI has its own login to his site, and review all the IP addresses and other traffic data it logs.
Ragebooter.net’s registration records are hidden behind WHOIS privacy protection services. But according to a historic WHOIS lookup at domaintools.com, that veil of secrecy briefly fell away when the site was moved behind Cloudflare.com, a content distribution network that also protects sites against DDoS attacks like the ones Ragebooter and its ilk help to create (as I noted in Monday’s story, some of the biggest targets of booter services are in fact other booter services). For a brief period in Oct. 2012, the WHOIS records showed that ragebooter.net was registered by a Justin Poland in Memphis…
… “I also work for the FBI on Tuesdays at 1pm in memphis, tn,” Poland wrote. “They allow me to continue this business and have full access. The FBI also use the site so that they can moniter [sic] the activitys [sic] of online users.. They even added a nice IP logger that logs the users IP when they login.”
•Al Giordano, From The Last American Newspaper–The Death of the Boston Phoenix
My success at manipulating daily newspapers had stripped from me any sense of myth or magic that dailies had so carefully cultivated among the reading public. I liked reporters but felt badly for them: Their mothers thought they were powerful, but they were really slaves to the daily deadline, which more often than not denied them the time to ponder or think about a story before having to put their name on it. Spared from the popular illusion that anyone could be Woodward and Bernstein if he could just get to a big-enough daily, I pointed my ambition elsewhere: The Phoenix job, for me, was the pinnacle, top of the heap. It was all I had aspired to be, and I was about to get my greatest wish.
Be careful what you wish for: My plan, that summer of 1993, was to enter the Boston Phoenix at full swashbuckling gale force and take the state capital by storm. After all, my complaints about management aside, I’d been able to do whatever I wanted at the Advocate. I had one of those rare and valued editors who considered it her job to let me be me. (That editor, Kitty Axelson, protected me from her superiors as best as she could and never took it personally when I fought for a controversial story.)
Having published just a few freelance pieces for larger publications – the Washington Post, the American Journalism Review, and the Phoenix in 1988 and ’89 – I started at the Phoenix not knowing that there was a difference between “copy editing” and “story editing.” I had been story edited at the Advocate but not copy edited. (I’m still a bit amazed the Phoenix took me on: I didn’t know what a copy editor was, but there I was, in the job interview, barking arrogantly to owner Stephen Mindich, “I smoke marijuana medicinally! If that’s a problem don’t hire me!”)
Copy editors were the heart and soul of the Phoenix experience, and I’ve long since thought that separating the two kinds of editing was at the core of the paper’s genius. Let me explain: A story editor checks your facts and challenges you on them, and you debate with him or her and fuss over the content and substance of your story. A copy editor is another species altogether. The copy editor pounds your typing into literature. The typical copy editor could give a crap about your political or cultural opinions or whom (“whom” is a word I learned from copy editors) they may offend. Copy editors just want to make your words beautiful, and have them be proper English……
•To read the rest, go to this link.
•Canadian Oil Polluting Detroit
•NYT: WINDSOR, Ontario — Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.
And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.
The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.
And Now It Can Be Told
•Paul McCartney: Yoko Ono didn’t break up the Beatles
•Thank you or reading Newsdissector.net. Please visit Mediachannel.org as well. Comments to email@example.com
Follow me on twitter and Facebook.
•••Listen To The Podcast: Thursday’s News Dissector Radio Hour on PRN.fm with Al Giordano and Laura Garcia of the Narco News Bulletin and School of Authentic Journalism.
•The Hill: House immigration group announces ‘agreement in principle’
A bipartisan group of House negotiators said Thursday they have reached an “agreement in principle” on comprehensive immigration reform legislation.
“We have an agreement in principle,” Rep. John Carter (R-Tex.) said as he and five other members of the group emerged from a two-hour meeting late Thursday afternoon.
•RT: Gitmo Hunger Strike Now In l00th Day
Dissection: The News That Isn’t: How We Are Fed False Stories Driven By Missing Information
By Danny Schechter
The news is coming to us hot and heavy these days. There is scandal after scandal, outrage after outrage. The media playbook treats it all as a way to build audience, and raise ratings (and revenue) by polarizing opinion.
Here’s what the Republicans say; here’s how the Democrats respond. Obama is good; Obama is bad. So and so says this; so and so fires back. Its mostly heat, not light.
There are rarely any other views, or independent ways of understanding events presented.
News programs are the new wrestling shows, a noisy battleground, in the morning, on the Sunday shows, and all day long on cable networks. The goal is not to explain, probe, or ask questions.
No, its to squeeze a repetitive and narrow narratives into a morality play that provokes as much emotion as possible.
Its been said we live in an era of “missing information” and the news is the best arena that defines it—not by what’s being reported, but how its being reported, and mostly by what’s not being reported.
Lets look at current major “stories”—stories is an appropriate word—to show how this process works.
1. The IRS
At issue is the decision of one office of the IRS to target small Tea Party Groups. They are now apoplectic, using the incident to picture them as martyrs while launching campaigns to raise money for them as victims.
The President is apologizing, “accepting resignations” from temporary officials. Yada Yada Yada.
Unmentioned; This is not the real taxß scandal focused on the way big money has taken over the electoral system using non-profits and anonymous sources with the Federal Election Commission and the IRS looking the other way.
The IRS of course has been a favorite tool of punishment since the days of Al Capone. Remember the Nixon enemies list?
•How many peace and justice groups experienced the same treatment? For howmany years did the IRS go after leftists? Did anyone in our fearless media ask?
•Did the right-wingers now crying bloody murder ever speak up when the IRS harassed its enemies?
Do I even have to ask?
Why isn’t Karl Rove’s “dark money” manipulations tied to this? William Boardman writes: “Karl Rove is the real poster boy for the so-called IRS (Internal Revenue Service) ‘scandal’ of taking a closer look at applications by political organizations seeking a 501(c)(4) tax status that not only makes them tax exempt but protects their donors with anonymity.”
Sheila Krumholz, of the Center for Responsive Politics, the group that tracks all money in politics, wrote (with her board chairman) in the New York Times:
“With the surge of dark money into politics, we need to ensure that the I.R.S. is capable of rigorously enforcing the law in a nonpartisan, but also more effective, way. While we focus on the rickety raft of minor Tea Party groups targeted by the I.R.S., there is an entire fleet of big spenders that are operating with apparent impunity.”
Unfortunately, this real problem it is not yet news.
And, for that matter, do all the corporations who get away without paying any taxes rate this type of media treatment too? Why isn’t that a mega scandal? Just asking.
2.The Boston Bombers
It was left to Russ Baker of the small WhoWhatWHy website to catalogue the many unasked and unanswered question about what really happened in one of the most “covered” recent news spectacles.
He writes, before sinking his teeth into the substance:
“Most of the national and international media have left Boston—and essentially moved on from the Marathon bombing story. Most of the national and international media have left Boston—and essentially moved on from the Marathon bombing story. But at WhoWhatWhy, we’re just getting started.
Why? Because we see a lot of problems with what we’ve been told so far. We’ve been disappointed that the media have failed to demonstrate healthy skepticism while passing along, unchallenged, the (self-serving) assertions of “the authorities.”
It is the job of journalism not only to report what authorities say, but also to confirm their claims, and address anomalies, errors, inconsistencies, outright lies, and cover-ups, large and small.”
3: Spying on the Associated Press
It turns out there is much more to the story about the government investigating leaks to the AP. It turns out the news and the government had been negotiating, about when to release the story, and the AP had held its story for five days and was wrangling with the White House over who would break it suggesting that there may be questionable practices on both sides.
Andrew Beaujon of the Poynter Institute that covers media practices reported:
“The Associated Press held its story about a foiled underwear bombing for five days, Carol D. Leonnig and Julie Tate report in The Washington Post. But on Monday, May 7, “CIA officials reported that the national security concerns were ‘no longer an issue,’” they write. Then the government began jostling with AP over who would get to break the story.
When the journalists rejected a plea to hold off longer, the CIA then offered a compromise. Would they wait a day if AP could have the story exclusively for an hour, with no government officials confirming it for that time?
Then an administration official called, saying, ‘AP could have the story exclusively for five minutes before the White House made its own announcement. AP then rejected the request to postpone publication any longer.’”
The AP may be our leading news agency, and a cooperative no less, but it has a long history of collusion with power, belittling opposition movements worldwide, echoing US government claims and skewing the news.
This goes way back—here’s a story I found from 1914 from the Radical magazine “The Masses.”
“Last summer, after a number of publications, including Collier’s Weekly and The Independent, had delicately intimated that the Associated Press gave the country no fair amount of the struggle between labor and capital in West Virginia, THE MASSES decided to look into the case. It decided that if this thing were true, it ought to be stated without delicacy.
The result was a paragraph explicitly and warmly charging the Associated Press with having suppressed and colored the news of that strike in favor of the employers. Accompanying the paragraph was a cartoon presenting the same charge in a graphic form.
Upon the basis of this cartoon and paragraph, William Rand, an attorney for the Associated Press, brought John Doe proceedings against THE MASSES in the Municipal Court of New York. Justice Breen dismissed the case.
Rand then went to the District Attorney. And the District Attorney considered the case serious enough to receive the attention of the Grand Jury. He secured an indictment of two editors of THE MASSES for criminal libel. Max Eastman and Arthur Young were arraigned on December 13, pleaded not guilty, and were each released on $1,000 bail. The date for the trial is not set. The penalty for criminal libel may be one year in prison, $5,000 fine, or both.”
So much for Freedom of the Press! In this case, critics were demanding freedom from the press.
4. Benghazi Blunders
The government has released emails on Benghazi, The Republicans want more. The issue is defined as one of bad security by Hillary Clinton’s State Department. Once again, there’s been no independent investigation. It has become a partisan football while skirting deeper issues.
Former CIA analyst Melvin Goodman has come forward to question whether this office in Benghazi was really a consulate as we have been but an “intelligence platform” for use in a covert war that the sacking of the embassy became part of.
“When U.S. personnel were airlifted from Benghazi the night of the attack, there were seven Foreign Service and State Department officers and 23 CIA officers onboard. This fact alone indicates that the consulate was primarily diplomatic cover for an intelligence operation that was known to Libyan militia groups.”
So again, what’s offered up as news may be a way of masking the real news—and/or truth—information that the government and other interests want to conceal, with most of the media looking the other way playing games.
News Dissector Danny Schechter edits Mediachannel.org and blogs daily at NewsDissector.net. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
AP: Badgered: Obama acts, but Republicans unsatisfied
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama, seeking to regain his footing amid controversies hammering the White House, named a temporary chief for the scandal-marred Internal Revenue Service Thursday and pressed Congress to approve new security money to prevent another Benghazi-style terrorist attack. The efforts did little to satisfy Republicans,
•Digg: The Man Who Spied On The AP
Meet a hard-charging federal prosecutor at the center of the Justice Department’s controversial leak investigation.
*DB/AP: The Justice Department just cannot catch a break this week. The U.S. Marshals Service has essentially lost track of two known or suspected terrorists, and it’s all the DOJ’s fault. The persons in question formerly participated in the federal Witness Security Program and should have been on the government’s “no-fly” list, but the Justice Department failed to provide the agency responsible for the list with the names of several suspected terrorists, and as a result some of them were able to make it onto commercial airplanes without being apprehended. A report from the inspector general notes that confusion within the DOJ over the identities of Witness Security Program participants was just one of several “significant issues concerning national security.”
•EJC: Yahoo in talks to acquire Tumblr
Yahoo is in serious talks with Tumblr to acquire the social blogging site, according to multiple sources familiar with the talks. The deal is not done, but could reach as high as $1 billion, Adweek has learned. Such an acquisition could be just what CEO Mayer has been looking for to turn around Yahoo’s momentum; Tumblr has the potential to excite the engineering/Silicon Valley community (even though it’s based in New York) while recapturing the imagination of advertisers, who have grown to view Yahoo as big but stale. (AdWeek)
•BBC: BP asks Cameron to curb US leak cost
BP appeals to Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene over the escalating compensation costs of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.
•Sky: Anti-Apartheid Leader Charges South African Police With Torture
•Via EJC: CCTV blames Dalai Lama, foreign media for instigating self-immolations
Chinese national television aired a lengthy prime time news feature blaming the Tibetan government-in-exile and foreign media for self-immolations in the country’s Tibetan-populated areas. The half-hour news feature is part of recent efforts by Chinese state media to change the narrative of Chinese control over Tibet. It is the fifth such video aired over the last year, writes Beijing-based Tibetan activist Tsering Woeser in a tweet. At least 116 Tibetans have killed themselves in such acts of defiance against Chinese rule since 2009, according to overseas media reports.(The South China Morning Post)
•AP: Brothers arrested in Mother’s Day parade shooting
NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Two brothers with a history of drug arrests and suspected ties to a neighborhood gang each face 20 counts of attempted second-degree murder in a shooting spree that brought a sudden bloody end to a Mother’s Day parade in a New Orleans neighborhood. The arrests by city police and U.S. marshals came less than four days after gunfire scattered the crowd and wounded 20 people
Nigeria’s army begins operations against militant Islamists after states of emergency were declared in three north-eastern states.
•NYTimes Examiner: Petition To NY Times Public Editor To Investigate Coverage of Honduras
The following petition, signed by over a dozen experts on Latin America and Media including Noam Chomsky and Greg Grandin, was sent today to Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor for The New York Times. Join the campaign below.
Dear Margaret Sullivan,
In a recent column (4/12/13), you observed:
Although individual words and phrases may not amount to very much in the great flow produced each day, language matters. When news organizations accept the government’s way of speaking, they seem to accept the government’s way of thinking. In The Times, these decisions carry even more weight.
In light of this comment we encourage you to compare The New York Times’s characterization of the leadership of the late Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and that of Roberto Micheletti and Porfirio Lobo in Honduras.
In the past four years, the Times has referred to Chávez as an “autocrat,” “despot,” “authoritarian ruler” and a “caudillo” in its news coverage. When opinion pieces are included, the Times has published at least fifteen separate articles employing such language, depicting Chávez as a “dictator” or “strongman.” Over the same period-since the June 28, 2009 military overthrow of elected president Manuel Zelaya of Honduras-Times contributors have never used such terms to describe Micheletti, who presided over the coup regime after Zelaya’s removal, or Porfirio Lobo, who succeeded him. Instead, the paper has variously described them in its news coverage as “interim,” “de facto,” and “new.”
Porfirio Lobo assumed the presidency after winning an election held under Micheletti’s coup government. The elections were marked by repression and censorship, and international monitors, like the Carter Center, boycotted them. Since the coup, Honduras’s military and police have routinely killed civilians.
Over the past 14 years Venezuela has had 16 elections or referenda deemed free and fair by leading international authorities. Jimmy Carter praised Venezuela’s elections, among the 92 the Carter Center has monitored, as having “a very wonderful voting system.” He concluded that “the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” While some human rights groups have criticized the Chávez government, Venezuela has had no pattern of state security forces murdering civilians, as is the case in Honduras.
Whatever one thinks of the democratic credentials of Chávez’s presidency-and we recognize that reasonable people can disagree about it-there is nothing in the record, when compared with that of his Honduran counterparts, to warrant the discrepancies in the Times’s coverage of the two governments.
We urge you to examine this disparity in coverage and language use, particularly as it may appear to your readers to track all too closely the U.S. government’s positions regarding the Honduran government (which it supports) and the Venezuelan government (which it opposes)-precisely the syndrome you describe and warn against in your column.
Noam Chomsky, Institute Professor Emeritus, MIT
Edward Herman, Professor Emeritus of Finance, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania
Greg Grandin, Professor of History, New York University
Sujatha Fernandes, Professor of Sociology, Queens College, CUNY Graduate Center
Corey Robin, Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College, CUNY Graduate Center
Adrienne Pine, Professor of Anthropology, American University
Mark Weisbrot, Ph.D, Co-Director, Center for Economic and Policy Research
Miguel Tinker Salas, Professor of History and Latin American Studies, Pomona College
Katherine Hite, Professor of Political Science, Vassar College
Steve Ellner, Professor of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University, Universidad de Oriente
George Ciccariello-Maher, Professor of Political Science, Drexel University
Daniel Kovalik, Professor of International Human Rights, University of Pittsburgh School of Law
Gregory Wilpert, Ph.D, author of “Changing Venezuela by Taking Power”
Joseph Nevins, Professor of Geography, Vassar College
Nazih Richani, Director of Latin American Studies, Kean University
Steven Volk, Professor of History, Oberlin College
Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History, Salem State University
Keane Bhatt, North American Congress on Latin America
Chris Spannos, New York Times eXaminer
Michael Albert, ZNet
Oliver Stone, Film Director, “South of the Border”
Michael Moore, Film Maker and Activist
•AP: Freeing Afghanistan–Afghans tell of US soldier’s killing rampage
Shahara, now 3, sits tucked inside the shawl of her mother, Masooma, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, on Saturday, April 20, 2013 as Masooma recalls the night she says a U.S. soldier killed her husband and attacked her children in a southern Afghanistan village. Masooma says the soldier grabbed Shahara’s pony tails and shook her head violently after killing her father.
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) – Sitting on a dirty straw mat on the parched ground of southern Afghanistan, Masooma sank deeper inside a giant black shawl. Hidden from view, her words burst forth as she told her side of what happened to her family sometime before dawn on March 11, 2012.
According to Masooma, an American soldier wearing a helmet equipped with a flashlight burst into her two-room mud home while everyone slept. He killed her husband, Dawood, punched her 7-year-old son and shoved a pistol into the mouth of his baby brother.
“We were asleep. He came in and he was shouting, saying something about Taliban, Taliban, and then he pulled my husband up. I screamed and screamed and said, ‘We are not Taliban, we are not government. We are no one. Please don’t hurt us,’” she said.
The soldier wasn’t listening. He pointed his pistol at Masooma to quiet her and pushed her husband into the living room.
“My husband just looked back at me and said, ‘I will be back.’” Seconds later she heard gunshots, she recalled, her voice cracking as she was momentarily unable to speak. Her husband was dead…
•CNN: You Can Read All The Benghazi Emails Here
The White House released more than 100 pages of e-mails on Wednesday in a bid to quell critics who say President Barack Obama and his aides played politics with national security following the deadly attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
•Thanks For Visiting NewsDissector.net. Please visit the just updated Mediachannelk.org. Comments to Dissector@mediachannel.org
•••Today: New Dissector Radio Hour at 5 PM on the Progressive Radio Network (PRN.fm) hosted by your news dissector with musician Polar Levine. Today: a look at press freedom through the eyes of Al Giordano, Editor Narco News Bulletin (Narconews.com), global correspondent, worked with Abbie Hoffman, covers drug war and Laura Garcia a Mexican journalist and graduate of the School of Authentic Journalism.
•Today: Please visit the newly updated Mediachannel.org website
•AP: Obama tries to regain control amid controversies
WASHINGTON (AP) – Under mounting pressure, President Barack Obama on Wednesday released a trove of documents related to the Benghazi attack and forced out the top official at the Internal Revenue Service following revelations that the agency targeted conservative political groups
Acting Chief of I.R.S. Forced Out Over Tea Party Targeting
WASHINGTON — President Obama announced Wednesday night that the acting commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service had been fired, and he pledged that his administration would cooperate with Congressional investigations into the targeting of conservative groups.
Speaking in the White House’s formal East Room, the president said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew had asked for and accepted the resignation of Steven Miller, who was aware of the agency’s efforts to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny as a deputy I.R.S. commissioner.
Mr. Miller is scheduled to testify on Friday before the House Ways and Means Committee in the first of a series of hearings on the I.R.S. targeting scandal.”
“Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it,” the president said. “It should not matter what political stripe you’re from. The fact of the matter is the I.R.S. has to operate with absolute integrity.”
•Question Unasked: Why did they go after the small fry again, and not look at the electoral manipulations by Karl Rove et.al/
•CNN: GOP going after Democrats in new ads over IRS scandal
The IRS certainly deserves some of the criticism it’s getting, but it’s also worth looking at the groups they were examining a little closer.
•Remember: When a Plane Was Flown Into an IRS Office?
Before there was the Tea Party, there was Big Mama Rag, Inc.
• Naked Capitalism: Josh Rosner on How Dodd Frank Institutionalizes Too Big to Fail
Josh Rosner of Graham Fisher testifies before a subcommittee of the House Financial Services committee today on why Dodd Frank has not ended too big to fail, but also has managed to entrench the megafirms’ advantaged position.
Rosner provided Congressional testimony on this same topic in 2011, and deemed Dodd Frank’s plans for winding down systemically important firms to be unworkable. Rosner has good company here; the BIS and the international bank lobbying group the IIF reached the same conclusion.
Rosner stresses that he’s not advocating the repeal of Dodd Frank but describing what is flawed so it can be remedied or replaced, and that he sees the sort of fixes embodied in the bills approved in the House to weaken derivatives regulations as a step in the wrong direction.
The gap between rich and poor widened more in the three years to 2010 than in the previous 12 years, according to the OECD.
•Business Insider: Natural Disasters Have Cost The Global Economy $2.5 Trillion Since 2000
*Pulse: Actually, countries do make painful economic reforms without austerity
•Reuters: Obama Student Loan Policy Reaping $51 Billion Profit
• Digg: America’s New Oligarchs
Americans love their tech gurus, but the feeling isn’t mutual. The new ruling class is gaming the system and jerking the rest of us around.
In early 2010, Nish Bhalla sat down at his computer with one objective: steal a huge amount of money from a bank.
News Alert: White House releases Benghazi emails
The White House has released 100 pages of internal e-mails that document the development of talking points used by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and others following the attack on a U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. The emails show that the White House, State Department, FBI and the CIA all participated in shaping the talking points, which have become a flashpoint for critics of the administration’s response to the attack.
•As Expected: GOP not satisfied by Benghazi email release
Congressional Republicans are demanding more information on the Benghazi attack.
• We keep accepting the notion that the so-called Consulate was attacked by terrorists. There is another view suggesting that Benghazi “Consulate” was a CIA Front. What was going on there–and how was it linked to the covert and then overt war to overthrow the Libyan government and steal the country’s “sweet oil? The Institute for Public Accuracy draws attention to this totally under covered angle, one that I find very plausible.
“CNN’s Gloria Borger noted on Tuesday: “White House spokesman Jay Carney says the White House changed the wording from ‘consulate’ to ‘diplomatic facility’ to be more accurate. So what does that mean? Thanks to the digging of Glenn Kessler in The Washington Post, it looks very much like the Benghazi consulate ‘was not a consulate at all but basically a secret CIA operation.’”
In fact, Goodman wrote in November for ConsortiumNews that: “the consulate was the diplomatic cover for an intelligence platform and whatever diplomatic functions took place in Benghazi also served as cover for an important CIA base.”
Meet Melvin Goodman. director of the National Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He was an analyst at the CIA for 24 years. His most recent book is the just-released National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. Goodman just wrote the piece “The Real Benghazi Scandal” for CounterPunch, which states:
“When congressional Republicans complete manipulating the Benghazi tragedy, it will be time for the virtually silent Senate intelligence committee to take up three major issues that have been largely ignored. The committee must investigate the fact that the U.S. presence in Benghazi was an intelligence platform and only nominally a consulate; the politicization by the White House and State Department of CIA analysis of the events in Benghazi; and the Obama administration’s politicization of the CIA’s Office of the Inspector General, which has virtually destroyed the office and deprived congressional intelligence committees of their most important oversight tool.
“When U.S. personnel were airlifted from Benghazi the night of the attack, there were seven Foreign Service and State Department officers and 23 CIA officers onboard. This fact alone indicates that the consulate was primarily diplomatic cover for an intelligence operation that was known to Libyan militia groups. The CIA failed to provide adequate security for Benghazi, and its clumsy tradecraft contributed to the tragic failure. On the night of the attack, the small CIA security team in Benghazi was slow to respond, relying on an untested Libyan intelligence organization to maintain security for U.S. personnel. After the attack, the long delay in debriefing evacuated personnel contributed to the confusing assessments.”
Goodman lists a series of major failures by the CIA where no one was held accountable. The most recent: “The politicization of intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003 was the worst intelligence scandal in the CIA’s history, but there were no penalties for those who supported CIA director George Tenet’s efforts to make phony intelligence a ‘slam dunk’ as well as Deputy Director John McLaughlin’s ‘slam dunk’ briefing to President George Bush. The CIA’s production of an unclassified white paper for the Congress on the eve of the vote to authorize force in October 2002 marked the misuse of classified information to influence congressional opinion, but there were no consequences.
“The destruction of the torture tapes, a clear case of obstruction of justice in view of White House orders to protect the tapes, led to no recriminations at the CIA. The controversy over the use of drone aircraft; the intelligence failure that accompanied the Arab Spring in 2011; and the inadequate security presence in Libya in the wake of the killing of Muammar Gaddafi have not received the necessary scrutiny. Any CIA component in the Middle East and North Africa is a likely target of militant and terrorist organizations because of the Agency’s key role in the Bush administration’s ‘war on terror’ and the Obama administration’s increasingly widespread use of drone aircraft.
“The ability of the Nigerian underwear bomber to board a commercial airline in December 2009 marked an intelligence failure for the entire intelligence community, but there was no serious attempt to examine the breakdown in coordination between five or six intelligence agencies, let alone pursue accountability. Instead, President Obama halted all efforts to return home Yemeni prisoners at Guantanamo.”
•Petraeus email objected to Benghazi talking points
WASHINGTON (AP) – Then CIA-Director David Petraeus objected to the final talking points the Obama administration used after the deadly assault on a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, because he wanted to see more details revealed to the public, according to emails released Wednesday by the White House.
•CLG: KBR Tells U.S. Army It Will Cost $500 Million and Take 13 Years to Close Its Iraq Contract
The recipient of the largest government services contract in U.S. history has told military officials it will take another 13 years and half a billion dollars to finish off its ‘work’ stemming from the Iraq war. This assessment from KBR Inc., which won the *38 billion deal from the U.S. Army in 2001, is at the heart of a legal battle between the two sides. KBR was responsible for aiding virtually all American military support operations as part of the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program (LOGCAP) III in Iraq.
•New Orleans Police Arrest Suspect in Parade Shooting
•Yahoo: NEW YORK (AP) — The ACLU is lobbying for the gay couple on “Modern Family” to get married.
ACLU Action started a campaign to urge the show’s producers to write a wedding episode for Mitchell and Cameron, fathers of an adopted child and one of three couples at the heart of the show.
The ACLU says it is appealing to the fictional family to draw more attention to the real issue as it awaits Supreme Court decisions on two important marriage equality cases.
“Mitch and Cam are a couple that America has come to know and love, and seeing them get married, and seeing the characters in the story grapple with their desire to get married, makes it real for a bigger part of America,” said James Esseks, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project at the ACLU.
Supporters are invited to “RSVP” to the wedding online. The ACLU plans to deliver the online “guest list” to the show’s producers but said it had not yet contacted the show.
The Atlantic Wire: Hundreds of New Yorkers Are Still Living in Hotels After Sandy
Cornel West, the firebrand of American academia for almost 30 years, is causing his hosts some problems. They are on a schedule but such things barely move him, for as he saunters down the high street there are people to talk to, and no one can leave shortchanged. Everyone, “brother” or “sister”, is indeed treated like a long lost family member. And then there is the hug; a bear-like pincer movement. There’s no escape. It happens in New York, where the professor/philosopher usually holds court. And now it’s the same in Cambridge.
The best students accord their visitors a healthy respect, but West’s week laying bare the conflicts and fissures of race and culture and activism and literature in the US and Britain yielded more than that during his short residency at King’s College. There are academics who draw a crowd, but the West phenomenon at King’s had rock star quality: the buzz, the poster beaming his image from doors and noticeboards; the back story – Harvard, Princeton, Yale, his seminal work Race Matters, his falling-in and falling-out with Barack Obama.
Others can teach, and at Cambridge the teaching is some of the best in the world, but standing-room-only crowds came to see West perform. He performed. Approaching 60 now, he is slow of gait. But he always performs.
“Britain is in trouble,” he tells me. “Britain is in deep trouble. The privatising is out of the control, the militarising is out of control and the financialising is out of control. And what I mean from that is you have a cold-hearted, mean-spirited budget that the Queen just read; you have working and poor people under panic, you have this obsession with immigration that tends to scapegoat the most vulnerable rather than confront the most powerful. And it is not just black immigrants, but also our brothers and sisters from Poland and Bulgaria, Romania; right across the board.” He isn’t ranting. He doesn’t rant. He smiles, he growls gently, he leans in and whispers conspiratorily. There is an upside, he says. “Britain has a rich history of bouncing back too.”
•EJC: New Yorker launches “open-source anonymous inbox” built by Aaron Swartz
The New Yorker on Wednesday launched Strongbox, an open-source system that allows readers to anonymously submit confidential documents. Strongbox was built by Aaron Swartz and Wired editor Kevin Poulsen. Strongbox lets users “share information, messages, and files with our writers and editors and is designed to provide you with a greater degree of anonymity and security than afforded by conventional e-mail.” To submit documents, users must download the Tor Project software. They can then access Strongbox and submit information under a randomly generated code name. (paidContent)
Bahrain sentences Twitter users to prison
EJC: A Bahraini court has sentenced six Twitter users to one year in prison for allegedly insulting King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, according to the public prosecutor’s office.
The six were charged by the lower criminal court with “misusing the right of free expression,” the government statement, which was posted online, said on Wednesday. The six Twitter users were accused of writing remarks “undermining the values and traditions of Bahrain’s society towards the king on Twitter”, according to the statement, which did not identify the people who were accused. (Al Jazeera)
Blasts From The Past
•OJ Simpson testifies in bid for new Vegas trial
LAS VEGAS (AP) – His leg shackles rattling as he shuffled to and from the witness stand, O.J. Simpson made his own case Wednesday for a new trial on armed robbery charges with testimony that he relied on the advice of his trusted attorney when he tried to reclaim mementos from his football glory days. “It was my stuff. I followed what I thought was the law,
•••Thats The News Dissector.net blog for today. A newly updated Mediachannel.org is now online. Please support our work. Input to email@example.com Follow me on Facebook and Twitter,
•Today, http://Medichannel.org has been updated with the latest media news and analysis. Please visit.
•••Breaking: War Spreading–Rockets Hit Golan as Palestinians Rally to Mark Nakba
•Boston Globe: A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall
Expect an active hurricane season this year, with more major hurricanes and tropical storms than usual along the Atlantic coast, AccuWeather.com meteorologists said.
Eight hurricanes are forecast and half of them are expected to be major storms, with three of them making landfall in the United States, long-range forecasters from the private company said. Six hurricanes are typical each season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says.
*AP: Trio of troubles threatening Obama’s second term
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama seemed to lose control of his second-term agenda even before he was sworn in, when a school massacre led him to lift gun control to the fore. Now, as he tries to pivot from a stinging defeat on that issue and push forward on others, the president finds himself rocked by multiple controversies that are demoralizing his allies, emboldening his political foes and posing huge distractions for all.
It’s unclear how long he will be dogged by inquiries into last year’s deadly attack in Libya, the IRS targeting of tea party groups and now the seizure of Associated Press phone records in a leak investigation. But if nothing else, these episodes give new confidence and swagger to Republicans who were discouraged by Obama’s re-election and their inability to block tax hikes as part of the Jan. 1 “fiscal cliff” deal.
Taken together, these matters will make it harder for the administration to focus on its priorities – racking up a few more accomplishments before next year’s national elections.
*Holder says he played no role in AP phone subpoena
WASHINGTON (AP) – Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday defended the Justice Department’s secret examination of Associated Press phone records though he declared he had played no role in it, saying it was justified as part of an investigation into a grave national security leak.
•USA TODAY: Obama administration defends war on leaks
•Julian Bond,former NAACP chair: It’s legit for the IRS to look at the tea party, “the Taliban wing of American politics”
•The Nation: IRS Fallout: The Real Scandal Is Secret Money Influencing US Elections
*Fluent: ‘Republicans leaked falsified Benghazi e-mail, Obama spokesman says’
*Obama’s Economic Vision: The U.S. as a Third World Nation
•James Kwak, BaselineScenario.com: If the Fed Knows Banks Are Too Big, Why Doesn’t It Make Them Smaller?
The Federal Reserve is serious—about something.
On May 2, The Wall Street Journal reported that regulators were pushing to require “very large banks to hold higher levels of capital,” including minimum levels of unsecured long-term debt, as part of an effort “to force banks to shrink voluntarily by making it expensive and onerous to be big and complex.” The article quoted Fed Governor Jeremy Stein, who said, “If after some time it has not delivered much of a change in the size and complexity of the largest of banks, one might conclude that the implicit tax was too small, and should be ratcheted up”
A few days later, Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo said roughly the same thing:
“‘The important question is not whether capital requirements for large banking firms need to be stronger than those included in Basel III and the agreement on capital surcharges, but how to make them so,’ said Mr. Tarullo, adding later that even with those measures in place it ‘would leave more too-big-to-fail risk than I think is prudent.‘”
Tarullo recommended higher capital requirements and long-term debt requirements for systemically risky financial institutions.
Last week, Governor of Governors Ben Bernanke quoted from the same talking points”
“Mr. Bernanke said the Fed could push banks to maintain a higher leverage ratio, hold certain types of debt favored by regulators, or other steps to give the largest firms a ‘strong incentive to reduce their size, complexity, interconnectedness.’
“The Fed chairman acknowledged growing concerns that some financial companies remain so big and complex the government would have to step in to prevent their collapse and said more needs to be done to eliminate that risk.”
It’s important to note exactly what Stein, Tarullo, and Bernanke are all saying.
Here’s what they’re not saying: Too-big-to-fail banks enjoy implicit subsidies and impose externalities on the rest of us; therefore those subsidies and externalities should be priced; and then those banks can decide whether they want to absorb those costs or make themselves smaller.
Here’s what they are saying: Too-big-to-fail banks are too big and complex and pose a systemic risk to all of us; therefore they need to become smaller and less complex; and the Fed will tweak the regulations until they become smaller and less complex.
• Postside/American Prospect, Abby Rappoport: Labor’s Plan B
Faced with the very real threat of extinction, unions have largely put collective bargaining on the back burner, and instead must try to remind American workers of the basic concept of worker solidarity. “We start from the point of view that, because so few people are in unions these days, very few people have personal experience with collective power,” explains Karen Nussbaum, the executive director of Working America.
A week ago, labor-rights group Working America launched FixMyJob.com. The text of the site reads a bit like an infomercial: “Tough day at work? Are you feeling overworked, underpaid, unsafe or disrespected by your boss?” But instead of selling a new set of knives, the writers are hawking organizing skills. “Our tool can help you identify problems in your workplace and give you info about what others have done in similar situations.” The famous raised fist of labor is sideways, holding a wrench. The website is yet another attempt by the country’s once-powerful union movement to connect to workers in an increasingly hostile national workplace.
“We also are trying to find new ways for workers to have representation on the job,” writes Working America spokesperson Aruna Jain in an email. “We want to train and educate people on how to self-organize, and to learn collective action—the single most effective way of improving their working conditions. This is one way we can start that process.”
•Appeal From Senator Elizabetb Warren
Last year, I ran for Senate on the idea of sticking up for the little guy against a system rigged for the big guy.
It’s outrageous that the Federal Reserve loans money to big banks at 0.75% interest, while interest rates for college loans will be 9 times higher starting July 1. That’s why I introduced a bill saying college students should get the same low rate.
I am proud that more than 385,000 Americans have signed a petition to Congress supporting my proposal — in less than a week.
Can you join them, and add to the momentum? Click here.
Members of the the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy for America, MoveOn, Credo Action, Daily Kos, and others will be critical to passing this bill into law.
As people like you stand with me in this fight, Washington takes notice — and for that, I can’t thank you enough.
The simple fact is that big Wall Street banks wrecked our economy. College students did not.
Students are the future of our country and our economy, and they should get the same good deals as Wall Street – they shouldn’t be saddled with debt.
Will you join me, and add your voice to 385,000 others who support investing in our students?
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declares a state of emergency in three north-eastern states after a spate of deadly attacks by Islamist militants.
•’Spirit of the Cold War’: Russia says US diplomat was trying to recruit for CIA
•Elad Benari, ICH: Syrian Minister: We Have the Right to Enter the Occupied Golan Heights Anytime
“Everybody should know that we are people who don’t forget to respond to an aggression against the aggressors, nor do we forget our martyrs and those who killed them,” said al-Zoubi.
•Aryn Baker ICH: Savage Online Videos Fuel Syria’s Descent Into Madness
When a 13-year-old boy is filmed beheading a man and when footage of rape, torture and amputations are passed like trading cards, it escalates the cycle of honor-driven revenge.
•ICH: Jordan Chandler Hirsch and Sam Kleiner, Israel Fights America’s Battles?
The Pentagon, at the very least, appears to be embracing the idea of Israel fighting America’s battles in the Middle East in exchange for high-end weapons systems.
•FOR PALESTINIANS, TODAY IS NAKBA REMEMBRANCE DAY
•Saeb Erekat: 65 Years of Israeli Impunity: Today marks the 65th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba.
The State of Israel has legislated to forbid Palestinian citizens of Israel from commemorating their Nakba.
•Global Information Network: KENYANS BATTLE LAWMAKERS OVER ‘PIGGISH’ SALARY HIKE
May 14 (GIN) – Setting free a sow and a herd of piglets at the steps of Parliament, Kenyan demonstrators sent government an unmistakable symbol of how they viewed outsized salary increases proposed by sitting lawmakers.
The parliamentarians are already some of the best paid on the continent. Kenya’s Salaries and Remuneration Commission has recommended that salaries be pegged at around $6,300 per month. The MPs are demanding $10,000 monthly. The average salary in Kenya is about $1,700 annually.
“We will not allow members of parliament to increase their salaries at will,” declared Okiya Omtatah, one of the protest organizers.
Carrying signs that read “Occupy Parliament!” and “Day of Action on MP’s Salaries and Car Allowances,” demonstrators battled teargas, batons and water cannons during the protest this week which began at Nairobi’s Freedom Corner. “Don’t like the pay? Quit!” another placard read as demonstrators shouted “thieves.”
Activist Boniface Mwangi, one of the protest organizers, told an AP reporter that he had been arrested with 15 others. “Even if they arrest us today we will come back. We want a better future for our kids,” said Mwangi.
Members of Parliament are commonly called MPs in Kenya but Mwangi and others refer to them as “MPigs.”
MPs say their current salaries are “demeaning,” and they need more money to help pay constituents’ school and medical expenses.
The brawl over pay forced newly-elected President Uhuru Kenyatta, on a four-day official visit to Cape Town, South Africa, to rush home to settle his first major confrontation. He had been attending the World Economic Forum on Africa whose theme was “Delivering on Africa’s Promise.”
The President urged the public officers to drop their demands. The Salaries Commission also stood firm against the demands, calling them unsustainable, and said they would not back down despite MP threats to dissolve the Commission. w/pix of protestor holding pig,
World Press Photo says Paul Hansen’s photo of mourners in Gaza was “retouched with respect to both global and local color and tone. Beyond this, however, we find no evidence of significant photo manipulation or compositing.”
•NYT: Billy Sol Estes, King of the Scammers Dies
Billie Sol Estes, a fast-talking Texas swindler who made millions, went to prison and captivated America for years with mind-boggling agricultural scams, payoffs to politicians and bizarre tales of covered-up killings and White House conspiracies, was found dead on Tuesday at his home in Granbury, Tex. He was 88.
•Life Hacker: 10 Things You Should Always Haggle For
There are times when you should always haggle, like when you’re at a flea market or purchasing a new car. But there are other, less obvious situations where your bargaining chops may come in handy. For example, did you know you can negotiate the price of your monthly rent?
•South Africa: New Shooting at Marikana
The detective stepped around the corpse and went up the marble staircase to the master bedroom, where the shooting had occurred an hour earlier. A bloodied cricket bat was on the bathroom floor, along with two cell phones and a 9-mm. Parabellum pistol.
•NBC Via EJC: Colombia: Hit man in Bogota targeting high-profile journalists
Colombia’s government warned on Tuesday of a plot by a criminal group to kill several high-profile journalists just weeks after the attempted assassination of an investigative reporter boosted concerns over threats to a free press in the violence-plagued Andean nation. President Juan Manuel Santos also announced that 90 journalists are being given protection by the government. He urged Attorney General Eduardo Montealegre to investigate attacks against journalists. (NBC News)
•Thats The News Dissector.net blog for today. If you like what I do, tell your friends. Input to firstname.lastname@example.org
News and Views
•WP: Pa. abortion provider Kermit Gosnell has been found guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and acquitted of one count.
•CLG: US Supreme Court finds for Monsanto in seed patent
The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Monsanto Monday over an Indiana farmer accused of having pirated the genetically-modified crops developed by the agribusiness giant.
•AP: Obama tries to swat down 2 swirling controversies
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama tried to swat down a pair of brewing controversies Monday, denouncing as “outrageous” the targeting of conservative political groups by the federal IRS but angrily denying any administration cover-up after last year’s deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Simultaneous investigations – and demands by Republicans for more – have put the White House on the defensive…
Crazy Times Are Here Again
The other day, I had a conversation with an activist/friend, who I met during Occupy Wall Street, and has steadily moved right
under the influence of Libertarians of all stripes. The Federal Reserve Bank became the epicenter of the evil empire. She has done great work, so I have a lot of respect for her, but clearly her paranoia has been stoked by the Alex Jones of this world, She told me she is planning to be in Washington on July 4th to cover a planned march by those who believe that all weapons should be carried openly because the Second Amendment says its a constitutionally guaranted right. You have heard the argument, and the slogan. The reason: Defend liberty from threats by despotic government.
For many in the hard right, that despot has a face, the face of Barack Huseein Obama, who is the #1 threat to our freedoms. This constituency of gun toting militants far to the right of the Tea Party now have “proof”–all they need that their theories are right because of the news that someone in the Cincinatti office of the IRS lauched a probe into right-wing groups and how they use supposedly non-partisan non profits to advance their political agendas. Add to they that the Administration changed its “taking points” on Benghazi and you have all the proof you need that a government crackdown on patriots is coming.
Obama is to many of these people, a murderer as this email I received today makes clear”
Dear Concerned Citizen,
The eleventh hour is upon us.
In the coming weeks, the full impact of Obamacare will take effect.
I’ve seen what’s coming and it’s scary. It’s a lethal dose of socialism being injected directly into the heart of the American health insurance market.
Heck, it’s already wreaking havoc. By our estimates, Obamacare has already killed a million people by further straining an already weak healthcare system.
It’s NOT too late to fight back, though!
Barack Obama finally woke up to the new outrage simmering on the right and condemned the IRS offices actions but dismissed the tempest in a tea pot over Benghazi: (Where, lest we forget it was the CIA that changed the talking points. The speculation is that they did so because they had actually been in bed with the Jihadis thought to be behind the attack on the consulate.Dod they feel betrayed by the US. That’s not a question that is even being asked.
•Pulse: IRS admits current Commissioner knew of targeting … a year ago; Update: ProPublica: Same office leaked files to us
•TEA PARTY GROUP: The IRS Made Us Fill Out Endless Forms With Impossible Questions
•News360: IRS targeted NAACP in 2004
•REPORT: IRS Targeting Of Tea Party Groups Involved Officials In Washington
•Pulse: Finally, an explanation why Benghazi is such a scandal!
Darrell Issa, the guy leading the charge on the Benghazi House “investigation,” finally offers a cogent explanation (at 0:59) why this is the worst sc… Read more
•The National Journal reports:
President Obama is outraged. And that outrage was on ample display Monday morning when he was pressed on the two hot political controversies of the day — reports that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups for special attention and continuing questions about the killings of four Americans last year in Benghazi. The famously cool and stoical president seemed much more agitated about the Benghazi investigations than about the IRS actions.
Fielding questions at a joint session with British Prime Minister David Cameron, the president could not have been surprised that the one question permitted to an American reporter was a multi-query barrage on the IRS, Benghazi and Syria. He also knew going in that Friday’s news about the IRS had led to demands from both sides of the political aisle that he show some anger at the tax agency and offer an apology.
He wasn’t about to offer that apology, especially since the investigation is incomplete and none of his appointees may have been involved. But the words he spoke did suggest his displeasure with what was done. Twice, he called it “outrageous.” He stressed, “I’ve got no patience with it. I will not tolerate it. And we’ll make sure that we find out exactly what happened on this.” But the president’s delivery did not always match the strength of the words. NBC’s Chuck Todd described the presentation as “clinical,” perhaps not surprising since the president cast the story as “pretty straightforward.”
But there was nothing either clinical or straightforward about the president’s response to the ongoing Republican investigations of what happened in Benghazi last Sept. 11 or, more importantly, what happened inside the White House and the State Department in the days immediately following that attack when officials were battling with the Central Intelligence Agency over what to say. Here, without doubt, was an angry president, clearly outraged at what he sees as Republican partisan perfidy.
He blasted the controversy over the talking points as “a sideshow.” He dismissed the emails that showed more extensive administration editing, saying, “There’s no ‘there’ there.” And he objected to the investigation itself, saying, “The whole thing defies logic.” Those who hoped he would come out, acknowledge that some mistakes had been made in White House explanations and try to move beyond an argument over emails were disappointed. At this press conference, Obama signaled he is ready for a fight. If anything, he doubled down, guaranteeing an intensification of the showdown between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.
And it didn’t take long for the Republicans to swing back at some of his press conference assertions, which a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, contended were “badly in need of some fact checking.”
•Wonkette: Michele Bachmann: God Did Benghazi
*Its Not Just The Right that is pissed at the President.One of AMerica’s most important news organizations is also outraged:
*NYT: Phone Records of Journalists Seized by U.S.
WASHINGTON — Federal investigators secretly seized two months of phone records for reporters and editors of The Associated Press in what the news organization said Monday was a “serious interference with A.P.’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”
The A.P. said that the Justice Department informed it on Friday that law enforcement officials had obtained the records for more than 20 telephone lines of its offices and journalists, including their home phones and cellphones. It said the records were seized without notice sometime this year.
The organization was not told the reason for the seizure. But the timing and the specific journalistic targets strongly suggested they are related to a continuing government investigation into the leaking of information a year ago about the Central Intelligence Agency’s disruption of a Yemen-based terrorist plot to bomb an airliner.
The disclosures began with an Associated Press article on May 7, 2012, breaking the news of the foiled plot; the organization had held off publishing it for several days at the White House’s request because the intelligence operations were still unfolding.
In an angry letter to Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Monday, Gary Pruitt, the president and chief executive of The A.P., called the seizure, a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its news gathering activities.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters,” he wrote. “These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the news gathering activities undertaken by The A.P. during a two-month period, provide a road map to A.P.’s news gathering operations, and disclose information about A.P.’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
•Business Insider: The White House Says It Had No Idea The DOJ Seized The AP’s Phone Records
•AP: OJ returns to Las Vegas court in bid for new trial
LAS VEGAS (AP) – A weary-looking O.J. Simpson, weighed down by shackles and more than four years in prison, shuffled into a Las Vegas courtroom Monday hoping to eventually walk out a free man. His arrival to ask for a new trial in the armed robbery-kidnapping case that sent him to prison could be heard before he was seen – as a loud rattling of the chains that bound his hands to his waist
•Police Say They Have A Suspect in New Orleans Shooting
Two men are arrested on suspicion of involvement in a fight believed to have led to the death of Malcolm Shabazz, the grandson of Malcolm X.
•BBC: “>Samsung claims 5G tech breakthrough
Samsung Electronics says it has developed a technology that could be “at the core” of the eventual 5G mobile-data standard
•Deadly bomb strikes civilian area in east Libya
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – A deadly car bomb exploded Monday near a hospital in a busy area packed with civilians in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, destroying part of the facility, officials said. Officials gave conflicting casualty figures, with death tolls ranging from three to 10 in the chaotic aftermath of the attack.
•Blame Game: Afghan Finance Minister accuses MPs of corruption
With all the fanfare around the new movie version of The Great Gatsby, directed by Baz Luhrmann with a screenplay by Luhrmann and Craig Pearce, it’s a great time to go back to the book and be reminded of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s elegant, graceful writing; so fragile and yes, unique, that it may never really be brought successfully to the screen.
A good time, too, to be reminded of how the book’s depiction of conspicuous consumption during the Jazz Age of the 1920s — and the stark contrast between rich and poor — so parallel life in New York today, where, as The New York Times reported last year, “The poverty rate reached its highest point in more than a decade, and the income gap in Manhattan, already wider than almost anywhere else in the country, rivaled disparities in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Daisy Buchanan, the object of Gatsby’s desire, and her husband Tom would feel at home in the 1% world of overindulgence and profligacy. As Fitzgerald famously described them, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
The hype around the new movie also reminded me of an unusual invitation that led to my own brush with the legend of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. It was in the fall of 1975, an odd, homely and poignant coda to their years of celebrity and luminescence, years that slipped too quickly into the wreckage of alcoholism and mental illness.
My friend Emily worked at and later owned the Francis Scott Key Book Shop in Washington, DC, now gone but once a literary haven for bibliophiles and Georgetown society, who relied on the store for reading recommendations and gift suggestions. Adlai Stevenson had once lived in an apartment upstairs and it was a stop for many in government and politics, including Secretaries of State, embassy diplomats and CIA operatives.
Among the regulars was Scottie Lanahan Smith, F. Scott and Zelda’s daughter (and like her father, a distant cousin of the shop’s namesake, Francis Scott Key of “Star Spangled Banner” fame). A writer and journalist, Scottie had been married to a prominent Washington lawyer and was very much part of the social scene. At a book party one night, she told Emily and me that after long negotiations, the Catholic Church had finally agreed that F. Scott and Zelda could be laid to rest at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in nearby Rockville, Maryland, where his parents were buried.
This was big news. F. Scott Fitzgerald had died from a heart attack in 1940, only 44 years old, his career in decline, at the apartment of his lover, Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham. Only 25 people, including Scottie, attended the funeral on a cold, wet winter’s day and his editor had to pay for six pallbearers to carry the body.
For various reasons — among them, Fitzgerald’s adulterous relationship with Graham and his notorious lifestyle during the Roaring 20s – he was denied burial on St. Mary’s consecrated ground and placed instead in a Protestant cemetery a mile and a half away.
A St. Mary’s parishioner wrote more luridly, “By all accounts Fitzgerald was a fallen-away Catholic, married to a Protestant, a college drop-out, a drunk, an irresponsible child all his life, an exhibitionist, who with his wife became the poster couple for a lawless, bawdy, free living, sexually prolific, selfish, gluttonous, crime-driven, and immoral time period…” Many of those adjectives could be applied to Gatsby and his friends; you have to wonder if the parishioner partly confused Fitzgerald with his fictional creations.
Less than eight years after F. Scott Fitzgerald’s death, Zelda Fitzgerald and eight other patients died horribly in a fire at a North Carolina sanitarium where she was under treatment. Zelda was 47, and despite their estrangement her casket was placed in Maryland with her husband’s.
Now, 35 years after Scott’s demise, the Catholic Church had relented and would allow their bodies to be moved to the grounds of St. Mary’s. “The church believed it important,” a monsignor told The Washington Post, “to consider his God-given talents and literary genius.”
The same gnawing uncertainty that keeps an amateur pilot from buying a plane without a logbook is the same uncertainty at work with every used iPhone, toaster, and bicycle. That uncertainty usually keeps people from buying used at all. It keeps us going to the store for new products.
• Media Advice: How To Decide What To Watch On Netflix
The National Socialist Movement held their 2013 national convention in Atlanta, Georgia, protesting undocumented immigration and contemporary political policies. The NSM boasts of being the nation’s largest “white civil rights groups” and aligns…
•Thank you for visiting the News Dissector Blog for an offering of the news that matters and the views that help us understand it. Comments to email@example.com.