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Noam Chomsky: Social media outlets have 'become major forces for undermining democracy'

December 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

“The Internet does allow us to….overcome the impact of the concentration of media—and in fact, can be done pretty effectively.”


One of the most ludicrous—and debunked—claims of the far right is that the mainstream media in the United States has an inherent liberal/progressive bias. But Noam Chomsky tore that claim apart in his 1988 book, “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” (which he co-wrote with the late economist/media scholar Edward S. Herman). The real media bias, Chomsky stressed, was a corporate bias dictated by advertising and soundbites. And 30 years later, the 90-year-old Chomsky revisited his book during a recent interview with Al Jazeera English.  

“The myth is that the media are independent, adversarial, courageous, struggling against power,” Chomsky told Al Jazeera, stressing what while the United States often has “very fine reporters, correspondents” who do “an honest, courageous job,” they “must operate within a framework that determines what to discuss, what not to discuss. What we try to demonstrate in the book is that if you simply look at the institutional structure of the media within a state capitalist society like ours, they are performing pretty much the way you would expect.”

Soundbites, Chomsky told Al Jazeera, are an effective propaganda tool because propagandists “can say anything they want in two minutes, but they can’t be exposed in two minutes.”

Much has changed technologically since the release of “Manufacturing Consent” 30 years ago, including the rise of the Internet. Chomsky told Al Jazeera that having so much of the mainstream media owned by giant corporations “cheapens and reduces the access to information.” But he quickly added, “There is a way to compensate for that. The Internet does allow us to….overcome the impact of the concentration of media—and in fact, can be done pretty effectively.”

Chomsky described social media outlets like Facebook as “double-edged,” noting, “Sometimes, they are used for constructive purposes. But they have also become major forces for undermining democracy.” Chomsky cited Brazil as an example, noting how effectively the far-right Jair Bolsonaro used social media to win Brazil’s presidential election this year.

In addition to interviewing …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Mother of jailed NSA contractor rips Manafort, Flynn and Cohen: Those 'responsible for threatening our election continue to get off easy'

December 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

The 27-year-old Winner is serving a five-year federal prison sentence for releasing a National Security Agency (NSA) document.


Not since Richard Nixon in the 1970s has a U.S. president been surrounded by as many scandals as Donald J. Trump. And in a new article for the Intercept, Billie Winner-Davis—mother of imprisoned U.S. Air Force veteran Reality Leigh Winner—asserts that her daughter has been treated much more harshly than Michael Cohen, Rick Gates and other Trump associates who have admitted to serious federal crimes. 

The 27-year-old Winner is serving a five-year federal prison sentence for releasing a National Security Agency (NSA) document detailing cyber attacks on U.S. election officials by Russian military intelligence. Winner-Davis stresses that although her daughter was “wrongly portrayed” as a “traitor and spy” and a “Taliban sympathizer” for “unlawful disclosure of national defense information,” her actual motivation was showing the American public the degree to which the United States’ election system had been under attack by a foreign power.

Winner-Davis writes, “It is maddening to watch my daughter in prison as the so-called justice system interacts in such drastically different ways with Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, Michael Flynn and Michael Cohen.” And she goes on to discuss their cases, noting that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office has recommended no prison time for Flynn (who admitted to lying to the FBI about his communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in late 2016) and that Papadopoulos was sentenced to only two weeks of incarceration. 

Winner-Davis explains, “Gates’ fate is not yet known, but we do know that he has not spent time languishing in a jail or prison after he was charged, unlike Reality, who is now on day 568 behind bars.”

Cohen, Winner-Davis points out, pled guilty to everything from tax evasion to lying to Congress and was sentenced to three years in prison compared to five years for her daughter. And she has a lot to say about Manafort, noting that initially, Trump’s former campaign manager “was allowed to remain out of jail on bond.” 

“Manafort’s bond was revoked only when he was accused of tampering with …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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‘I am all alone (poor me) in the White House’: Trump goes off the rails in pre-Christmas tweetstorm

December 24, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

He did find time to praise Saudi Arabia, the country responsible for the assassination of a Washington Post journalist.


It's Christmas Eve. The markets are tanking after the Treasury Secretary posted a statement causing even greater panic. The partial shutdown of the federal government has entered its third day.

President Trump over the past 24 hours or so has posted 22 tweets, including some just minutes before midnight. He's attacked the Federal Reserve, Democrats, foreign allies, his own anti-ISIS coalition chief, the “FAKE NEWS,” and his outgoing Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis.

He did find time to praise Saudi Arabia, the country responsible for the assassination of a Washington Post journalist.

Trump's own administration is in tatters. His Secretary of Defense, Secretary of the Interior, UN Ambassador, and Chief of Staff are all exiting in the next week. He has only acting officials heading up the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.

That's just for starters.

And yet, the President of the United States, unable to travel to Mar-a-Lago for a 16-day planned vacation, is stuck in the White House – only for optics – because he shut his own Republican-majority government down.

So he's tweeting.

His latest – no joke: “I am all alone (poor me) in the White House,” as he attacks Democrats for the shutdown he proudly boasted he would not only cause, but take credit for.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Paul Krugman rips ‘clueless’ Mnuchin for panicking markets with tweet: 'Idiot'

December 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Dominique Jackson, Raw Story

“We should take seriously the possibility that we’re looking at an economic team as clueless as their boss.”


On Monday, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman went on a tweet storm in reaction to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin ’s tweets about calling banks.

While on a beach in Cabo, Mnuchin called leading banks to reassure them about the plummeting U.S. economy.

Krugman said that the U.S. has an “economic team as clueless as their boss.”

“We should take seriously the possibility that we’re looking at an economic team as clueless as their boss — and that they’ll respond to real problems by firing off off-point tweets from various golf courses,” he tweeted.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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‘Trump ain’t gonna pay my rent’: Federal workers fume as government shutdown extends into Christmas

December 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Tom Boggioni, Raw Story

Republicans have painted themselves into a corner because many of them are backing Trump’s position, which will be a loser for them.


President Donald Trump’s decision to let the government shut down because Democrats refuse to fund his border wall has federal workers looking into January and beyond, fearing they won’t be able to pay their bills.

In interviews with the Daily Beast, both lawmakers and workers have grown weary with the constant budget battles that take their livelihoods hostage.

According to Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner because many of them are backing Trump’s position, which will be a loser for them.

“It’s not going anywhere–it’s about positioning, and unfortunately for Trump and the Republicans, their position is lost,” he explained. “I think that it’s been pretty solid from our caucus that there’s no wall. Money for security, that’s smart, I don’t think people would be [opposed] to discussing that, but you keep doing the wall in exchange for X—that is a hostage-taking that I don’t think we should support.”

The collateral damage of that “hostage taking” would be the federal employees who are fearful the shut-down could extend into February — putting their financial well-being in peril.

“The hardest part will be rent. The second paycheck of the month is my ‘rent’ paycheck. Without it, next month will be tough,” a 24-year-old NASA contractor from California, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, told the Beast. “If I don’t get paid, my short-term savings will be virtually wiped out, and I’d have to dip into long-term savings to pay for February rent if Trump keeps it up.”

Isabel Chaloux, a 67-year-old janitor who works for the federal government in San Diego, looked only at the short term, saying she is “very worried that Trump is going to ruin” her holiday.

Another federal employee was blunter in her appraisal.

“I won’t have enough to pay my rent” lamented 57-year-old Bonita Williams who does janitorial work at the State Department.

“I can’t afford a shutdown,” she added. “Trump ain’t gonna pay my rent.”

You can read more here.

<Img align="left" border="0" height="1" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Arizona May Have Gotten More Aggressive on Opioids, but It's Still Not Working

December 24, 2018 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

Despite a concerted effort by state and federal authorities to
curtail doctors from prescribing opioids to their patients in pain,
the overdose rate continues to climb year after year.

The latest numbers for 2017 were recently reported by the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and they don’t look
good. Deaths from all drug overdoses rose another 9 percent since
2016. And deaths from all opioids rose another 11 percent.

The breakdown of the opioid overdose numbers is
revealing. In 2017, fentanyl caused 40 percent of opioid overdose
deaths, up from 30 percent the previous year.

The opioid crisis is
actually a prohibition crisis.

Fentanyl or heroin comprised 75 percent of opioid overdose
deaths in 2017, up from 68 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, overdoses
from prescription opioids like hydrocodone or oxycodone dropped 9
percent in 2017.

This Crisis Was Never about Doctors

While more and more patients are seeing their pain go under-treated — or
getting cut off from their pain medication and sometimes growing desperate — overdoses
continue to mount. And Arizona has not been immune to this
phenomenon.

In 2017, Arizona ranked 30th in the nation in opioid overdoses,
with a rate of 13.2 per 100,000 population, and 29 percent of those
overdoses were attributed to fentanyl alone. Yet Arizona
policymakers continue to double down on the same failing approach
to the overdose crisis.

This is because the opioid overdose crisis has
never really been primarily about doctors prescribing opioids

to their patients in pain. It has always been fundamentally about
non-medical users accessing drugs in the black market fueled by
drug prohibition.

As prescription opioids diverted to the black market have gotten
harder to come by, the efficient black market has responded by
filling the void with cheaper and more dangerous heroin and
fentanyl.

The opioid crisis is actually a prohibition crisis. Until
policymakers in Arizona and across the U.S. come to that
realization, the deaths will continue to mount.

War on Drugs? We Need a New Strategy

The focus needs to shift from that of a “war on drugs” to a “war
on drug-related deaths.” This means the strategy needs to change to
one known as harm reduction.

Harm reduction seeks to reduce the harms the black market
already inflicts on non-medical users and to focus strictly on the
goal of reducing the spread of disease and death from drug use.

Harm reduction strategies have been in use since the 1980s, and
they have a proven record of success in reducing deaths, substance
abuse and the spread of disease. They have a track record that
prohibition can never match.

This …read more

Source: OP-EDS