You are browsing the archive for 2014 December 05.

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Propaganda Has Triumphed over Journalism, and the Consequences Are Enormous

December 5, 2014 in Blogs

By John Pilger, AlterNet

We need a press that teaches the young to be agents of people, not power.

Why has so much journalism succumbed to propaganda? Why are censorship and distortion standard practice? Why is the BBC so often a mouthpiece of rapacious power? Why do the New York Times and theWashington Post deceive their readers?

Why are young journalists not taught to understand media agendas and to challenge the high claims and low purpose of fake objectivity?  And why are they not taught that the essence of so much of what’s called the mainstream media is not information, but power?

These are urgent questions. The world is facing the prospect of major war, perhaps nuclear war – with the United States clearly determined to isolate and provoke Russia and eventually China. This truth is being turned upside down and inside out by journalists, including those who promoted the lies that led to the bloodbath in Iraq in 2003.

The times we live in are so dangerous and so distorted in public perception that propaganda is no longer, as Edward Bernays called it, an “invisible government”. It is the government. It rules directly without fear of contradiction and its principal aim is the conquest of us: our sense of the world, our ability to separate truth from lies.

The information age is actually a media age. We have war by media; censorship by media; demonology by media; retribution by media; diversion by media – a surreal assembly line of obedient clichés and false assumptions.

This power to create a new “reality” has building for a long time. Forty-five years ago, a book entitled The Greening of America caused a sensation. On the cover were these words: “There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual.”

I was a correspondent in the United States at the time and recall the overnight elevation to guru status of the author, a young Yale academic, Charles Reich. His message was that truth-telling and political action had failed and only “culture” and introspection could change the world.

Within a few years, driven by the forces of profit, …read more


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Our Real White Male Problem: Why Fox News Has Defeated Bruce Springsteen and White Liberalism

December 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Jim Sleeper, Salon

White anger's latest murderous turn, fueled by right-wing media, must be addressed head-on.

“In the wake of the Ferguson verdict I feel a swirling cocktail of grief, anger and outrage,” writes Claudia Horowitz, a spiritual/social activist and interim director of Houston’s Rothko Chapel, in the luminous London-based website openDemocracy, “but nothing I’m feeling compares to what people of color are experiencing.”


Asking, “What Are White People to Do?” she urges whites to “put ourselves through some honest reflection and let that process lead us on to thoughtful action … to dismantle a system of white supremacy that permeates every corner of our legal, economic, political, relational and cultural lives.”

In a letter to the New York Times, Kevin Abel recalls a discussion of the problem and writes, “Seven white people don’t have a right to discuss the problems of race in America without peering within and acknowledging that we are most certainly part of the problem and the solution.”

Horowitz urges whites who are upset and grieving over the murders and what they represent to get right with themselves: “Listen and read,” “Notice how you feel,” “Manage your reactions,” and “Pick your doorway” to the right commitments and projects.

Now comes news of another grand jury’s declining to indict New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, another unarmed black man. There is no ambiguity about what happened, and no ambiguity about the grand jury’s outrageous decision not to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the failed human being who was given a badge and a gun by a system that is as failed as he is.

But to me it is not news at all. Twenty-five years ago I wrote “The Closest of Strangers, Liberalism and the Politics of Race in New York,” a book borne of 10 years’ working and sometimes living in heavily black and Hispanic north-central Brooklyn, five of those years in an eight-unit tenement whose other tenants were black or Hispanic.

As chapters four and five of the book show, I also spent a lot of time with white, “working-class” New Yorkers, including some cops, whose experiences ran closer to those of George Zimmerman …read more


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Deadline Approaches for State Department to Answer to Indian Prime Minister's Human Rights Violation Charges

December 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Alex Ellefson, AlterNet

A small human rights group refuses to let India's Prime Minister walk free for the 2002 Gujarat riots

In 2002, the Indian province of Gujarat experienced one of the bloodiest instances of religious violence in the country’s history. Following a train fire that killed 59 Hindus, riots erupted across the province that targeted the local Muslim minority. More than 300 mosques and other religious sites were destroyed. Muslim women were chased through the street, raped and burned alive. After three days of unrest, at least 1,000 people died and more than 16,000 Muslims were driven from their homes and became refugees.

A 2005 report by Amnesty International revealed that police stood by or even joined in the violence. And some suggest that police may have even been ordered by their superiors not to intervene.

Some of the blame has been directed at Gujarat’s then-Chief Minister, Narendra Modi. Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and India’s National Human Rights Commission have accused Modi of not acting to stop the riots.

The accusations against Modi were enough for the United States to deny him a visa in 2005.

That put the United States government in an awkward position when Modi, a Hindu nationalist, was elected Prime Minister in May. Following his election, the U.S. State Department reinstated Modi’s visa, arguing that his position as a head of state granted him diplomatic immunity.

However, a small U.S.-based human rights group refuses to let Modi walk free.

In September, just ahead of Modi’s first visit to the United States as the newly elected Indian Prime Minister, the American Justice Center filed a civil lawsuit in a New York Federal Court seeking punitive damages on behalf of two survivors of the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The American Justice Center also offered a $10,000 reward to anyone who would serve Modi with a court summons when he visited New York City.

In November, a federal judge overseeing the case ordered the U.S. State Department to respond by December 10 (next week) to the American Justice Center’s memorandum challenging Modi’s diplomatic immunity.

The American Justice Center argues that the lawsuit applies to acts Modi committed as …read more


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Muslim-Hating Man Rams Missouri Teen With SUV, Severing His Legs and Killing Him

December 5, 2014 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

The boy was deliberately struck by the vehicle of a man who targeted him because of his faith.

A 15-year-old boy died on Thursday night in spite of doctors’ efforts to save his life after he was deliberately struck by a car in a collision that severed both of his legs.

According to Kansas City, Missouri’s WDAF-TV, the boy was exiting the Somali Center of Kansas City with a friend when a driver in his 30s rammed his car into them both. The driver reportedly targeted the boys because of their Muslim faith.

The attack took place on Thursday at around 5:30 p.m. as the boys were getting into a parked car.

“It became pretty clear that this was not an accidental crash, there is a considerable amount of evidence that leads us to believe it was intentional,” said Sergeant Bill Mahoney of the Kansas City Police Department.

The second boy was not seriously hurt in the impact, but the deceased 15-year-old’s legs were severed at the scene and he reportedly lost a tremendous amount of blood. Paramedics rushed him to Children’s Mercy Hospital where a surgical team labored in vain to save him.

The suspect reportedly rammed the boys and the second car, then tried to flee the scene, but his vehicle was too badly damaged. Police said that he then tried to run away, but was apprehended.

The boy’s family and other people involved with the Somali Center told WADF that the suspect has been threatening them for months, even waving a gun at some attendees and telling them he was going to kill them for being Muslim.

“A month or two ago he came to the Somali mall, two blocks from here. Things got bad, they started arguing and he pulled a gun,” said Abdul Mohamed, a man who knows the victim, to WDAF.

The victim’s name has not been revealed, but he was reportedly the son of the current head of the Somali Center.

Watch video about this story, embedded below:

…read more


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Eric Garner Could Spark American Spring

December 5, 2014 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

The violent death of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia set off the Arab Spring. Could the killing of Eric Garner lead to a springtime of police reform — and regulatory reform — in the United States?

Bouazizi was a street vendor, selling fruits and vegetables from a cart. He aspired to buy a pickup truck to expand his business. But, as property rights reformer Hernando de Soto wrote in the Wall Street Journal, ”to get a loan to buy the truck, he needed collateral — and since the assets he held weren’t legally recorded or had murky titles, he didn’t qualify.”

Meanwhile, de Soto notes, “government inspectors made Bouazizi’s life miserable, shaking him down for bribes when he couldn’t produce licenses that were (by design) virtually unobtainable. He tired of the abuse. The day he killed himself, inspectors had come to seize his merchandise and his electronic scale for weighing goods. A tussle began. One municipal inspector, a woman, slapped Bouazizi across the face. That humiliation, along with the confiscation of just $225 worth of his wares, is said to have led the young man to take his own life.”

The more laws we pass, the more chances there are for people to run afoul of the police.”

Bouazizi was a poor man trying to engage in commerce to make a better life. His brother Salem told de Soto the meaning of Bouazizi’s death: “He believed the poor had the right to buy and sell.”

It was a story that resonated across the Arab world — a government that stifled freedom and enterprise, unaccountable bureaucracy, arbitrary enforcement, official contempt for citizens, a man who just couldn’t take it any more.

Eric Garner’s story is surprisingly similar. He had been arrested more than 30 times, for such crimes as marijuana possession and driving without a license, and most often for selling untaxed cigarettes on the street.

Why sell untaxed cigarettes? Because New York has the country’s highest cigarette taxes, $4.35 a pack for New York State and another $1.50 for the city. A pack of cigarettes can cost $14 in New York City, two and a half times as much as in Virginia . So a lively black market has sprung up. Buy cigarettes at retail in Virginia or North Carolina, sell them at a big markup in New York, and you can still undercut the price of legal, taxed cigarettes.

Patrick Fleenor <a target=_blank …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The US Needs to Recognize Russia's Monroe Doctrine

December 5, 2014 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

U.S. leaders once understood and accepted that strong powers would insist on a security zone and broad sphere of influence in their immediate geographic region. Indeed, as just a middling power, the United States boldly asserted such a policy with the proclamation of the Monroe Doctrine in 1823. The key passage warned conservative European monarchies: “We should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.”

Yet, U.S. policymakers now denounce as illegitimate similar bids to establish even modest security zones by other major powers. That point is especially evident in Washington’s conduct toward Russia.

The United States and its NATO allies officially repudiate even the concept of spheres of influence, contending that it has no place in the modern international system. Condoleezza Rice, President George W. Bush’s secretary of state, made that point explicitly in response to Moscow’s 2008 military intervention in Georgia. She scorned the notion of Russian primacy along the perimeter of the Russian Federation as the manifestation of “some archaic sphere of influence.” Secretary of State John Kerry expresses similar views. In November 2013, he even declared that “the era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.” Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the Kremlin’s unsubtle support for secessionist forces in eastern Ukraine, Kerry asserted that “you don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion” by invading a neighbor.

The current U.S. attitude is more than a little hypocritical.”

The current U.S. attitude is more than a little hypocritical. Contrary to Kerry’s rhetoric, the Monroe Doctrine is very much alive. Washington has intervened militarily as recently as the 1980s (Grenada and Panama) or even the 1990s (Haiti) within its traditional sphere of influence in the Western Hemisphere.

Russia’s brass knuckles tactics toward Kiev may be jarring to Western observers, but U.S. leaders need to recognize that Ukraine has long had economic and strategic relevance to Moscow. Any Russian government was bound to resent an attempt to wrench Ukraine into the West’s geopolitical orbit. And that is what Washington and its European allies did by supporting the Maidan Square demonstrators who overthrew Ukraine’s pro-Russian, but duly elected, president, Viktor Yanukovych.

It is always a useful exercise for policymakers to view a situation as though the positions of the various parties were reversed. Imagine what the U.S. reaction would be if Russia (or any other major power) expanded a military alliance that it led and proceeded to incorporate Caribbean and Central American countries. That scenario is analogous to how a U.S.-led NATO expanded to include …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Truth About Who Is Really Responsible for Our Current Police and Prison State

December 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

The shameful complicity of Democratic leaders in creating our out-of-control, militarized police forces.

The 200 protesters arrested last night in New York City and others being arrested elsewhere in demonstrations against police brutality are confronting a police and prison system that has put more people behind bars than any other country. Some have pointed out that those doing the arresting are not exactly far-right Replublican and conservative-led jurisdictions, but solidly Democratic strongholds. Cities like New York City, where Eric Garner was tragically killed – are run by the Democratic Party from top to bottom, with one of the countriy's most progressive mayors, Bill De Blasio at the helm. Given that the party is, at least, traditionally associated with liberalism, civil rights and a more permissive society, some observers find that ironic. But the recent past tells us that the Democratic Party in the past three decades has abandoned concerns for civil liberties and civil rights in the pursuit of appearing to be just as tough on crime as their Republican counterparts. 

This is a story that begins when Bill Clinton embraced the law-and-order policies of his Republican predecessors. Let's review:

Clinton: The New Democrat With An Old Approach To Crime

First some background: The first president to declare a “War On Drugs” was a Republican, Richard Nixon. Nixon began a heavily police-focused drug policy, which was then escalated by Republican Ronald Reagan, who made his wife Nancy the face of “Just Say No” – a more innocuous phrase that was accompanied by a ramping up of prisons and policing.

During this period, many Democrats resisted these policies, considering them to be conflicting with the civil rights coalition they had absorbed into their party since the 1960's. The big change came when President Bill Clinton came into office.

Clinton was a “New Democrat” – part of a new coalition of Democrats who believed that the liberalism represented by the New Deal and Great Society had run its course, and that Democrats must court Big Business and certain right-wing interest groups in order to forge a new party.

Included in this policy …read more


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6 Shockingly Brutal Incidents Revealed in the Feds' Scathing Report on the Cleveland Police Department

December 5, 2014 in Blogs

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Shooting unarmed people, beating handcuffed teens and other abuses chronicled in DOJ report.

The U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report yesterday saying that there is “reasonable cause” to believe the Cleveland Police Department has consistently used excessive force against suspects as well as innocent victims of crimes, following the conclusion of a civil rights investigation that examined hundreds of cases.

The recent shooting death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice by a cop with a known “dismal” history with firearms is just scratching the surface. Accroding to the report, the Cleveland Police Department has recklessly and egregiously carried out its duties for years with very little accountability. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday that an independent monitor will oversee much-needed police reform in the city on the heels of the investigation that looked into nearly 600 use-of-force incidents between 2010 and 2013. Here are the six most egregious and shocking uses of excessive force from that report:

1. Officers punched a 13-year-old boy bloody while he was in handcuffs. A 300-pound Cleveland cop punched the handcuffed 13 year-old in the face three to four times while there was at least one other officer present who could have helped control him. The supervisor who reviewed the incident noted the that the officer weighed three times as much as the boy, and acknowledged that the boy was handcuffed and other officers were present, but found that the used of force was “arguably the best response.”

The supervisor justified the face punches because the boy had earlier kicked the officer and attempted to escape the car. The supervisor didn’t consider that the punches might have been retaliatory and unnecessary to secure the boy. The supervisor said that, while “at first review” other tactics might have been considered,  it would be inappropriate to review the incident in hindsight. The report said that the supervisors conclusion was an abdication of  responsibility that allows unreasonable uses of force to continue unchecked.

2. Officers shot an unarmed kidnapping victim fleeing in his underwear. In an incident from 2013, a police sergeant shot at a …read more


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Right Federal Reserve Policy Must Be Based on Rule of Law

December 5, 2014 in Economics

By Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr.

Gerald P. O’Driscoll Jr.

The debate over Federal Reserve policy and Quantitative Easing has been framed in terms of technical economic issues. More than 50 years ago, Milton Friedman recognized that monetary policy involves broader political and constitutional issues.

If we are to move beyond the debate over QE, we must go back to Friedman’s classical liberal case for a constitutionally constrained Fed.

Friedman is the most well-known proponent of rules in monetary policy, as opposed to discretion. His technical argument centered on the knowledge requirements for implementing discretionary monetary policy.

Effective monetary policy is not a question of having enough economic data. Central bankers are drowning in data. The problem is that even the most up-to-date data are merely recent economic history. They do not reflect the current state of the economy, much less the future.

How do we avoid another Great Recession and thus the apparent need for extraordinary monetary policy?”

To determine optimal monetary policy, one must know future economic conditions. Time elapses between the collection of economic data and decision-making by central bankers. The Federal Open Market Committee meets eight times per year with about six weeks between meetings. (Emergency meetings can be held by phone.)

A lot can happen in an economy in six weeks, as we saw repeatedly in 2008. Think of the bailout of Bear Stearns in March; Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lurching through the summer to conservatorship on Sept. 7; and the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on Sept. 15.

To have had the “right” monetary policy in place for the summer of 2008 would have required that the FOMC act earlier in the year on data they did not yet possess. There is a lag (time lapse) between the implementation of monetary policy and its effects. So the correct monetary policy must be in place before events transpire.

If one reads the FOMC minutes for the first half of 2008, Chairman Ben Bernanke’s speeches and the chairman’s testimony to Congress, it is clear that he and other members of the FOMC were clueless about the economic situation they would face in a few short weeks and months.

That is not a cheap shot, but the essence of the argument against discretionary monetary policy. It requires central bankers to predict a future that is inherently unknowable.

Even many critics of Fed policy accept the need for the first QE in November 2008. Actually, the Fed was late to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Hot Air on Climate Change in Lima

December 5, 2014 in Economics

By Patrick J. Michaels

Patrick J. Michaels

Every December since 1995, the United Nations has held a meeting of the countries that signed onto its 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. This year, the 20th “Conference of the Parties” (“COP-20”) is another iteration, with officials (and anyone who wants to influence them) spewing countless tons of carbon dioxide into the air to meet, posture, disagree, agree, and declare a breakthrough on global warming. This movie has played more times than A Christmas Story airs during the holidays. Ho, ho, ho!

Sometime during this year’s conference, various governments will breathlessly pronounce that 2014’s global temperatures will set an all-time record. Make that some temperatures, as not all the global records agree, and it’s also unclear what the previous record-warm year was. Some histories give it as 1998, while others say 2010. And make that “all-time” going back to the late 19th century. Before then, there was still a climate, and sometimes it was warmer.

Lima matters because of the charade of global agreement that will be foisted upon the world and repeated by the UN’s green allies everywhere and anywhere.”

So what’s with the cricket sounds emanating from Lima?

Climate hype is definitely on the down-low in Lima because the meeting is specifically designed to be a preparatory step for the great Paris climatefest of 2015, where leaders hope to (finally) ink a “legally binding” agreement to replace the failed and expired Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

That treaty never bound the U.S., because it was never ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate. The Constitution is clear that this needs to be done for a treaty to have the force of law. It’s therefore rather odd that the Obama administration floated a trial balloon last summer suggesting that the Paris agreement will not have to be ratified. Damn the Constitution! Full speed ahead!

As has been shown repeatedly, the president can, via the Environmental Protection Agency, command any reduction in carbon dioxide emissions that Tom Steyer desires, thanks to a 2007 5–4 Supreme Court decision, Massachusetts v. EPA.

Unfortunately, this president will veto any attempt that Congress may pass to restrict necessary funds to the EPA’s enforcement apparatus. But some other president, without the Senate’s ratification, may do much less, especially with a Congress of the same stripe.

So why does Lima matter? It matters because of the charade of global agreement that will be foisted upon the world and repeated by …read more

Source: OP-EDS