May 14, 2013
The president of the Associated Press has sent a letter of protest to US Attorney General Eric Holder over the Department of Justice’s broad surveillance of individual reporters’ phone conversations.
In a letter received by the AP on Friday, the Justice Department acknowledged but offered no explanation for the seizure of two months’ worth of telephone records of reporters and editors. AP’s president, Gary Pruitt, called the ongoing monitoring a “massive and unprecedented intrusion.”
The AP believes that more than 100 journalists are involved in the DOJ’s phone surveillance, which would have involved a wide variety of stories regarding government and other topics. Pruitt has called for the return of obtained phone records, as well as the destruction of all copies.
“There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know,” said Pruitt.
According to the AP’s own reporting of the alleged phone taps, Justice Department rules require that subpoenas of such records from news organizations must be approved by the attorney general. Notification to the AP was made by a letter sent by Ronald Machen, US attorney in Washington, but did not clarify if such rules had been followed.
It is believed that phone records were obtained as part of a criminal investigation into leaked information about a CIA operation in Yemen that unraveled an Al-Qaeda plot in the spring of 2012 to detonate an explosive on a US-bound jet airliner.
Speculation on a link to that particular story was made by the AP based on the fact that phone numbers were obtained by the DoJ for five reporters and an editor involved in the May 7, 2012 story.
According to the AP, CIA Director John Brennan was questioned by the FBI as to whether he had been the source of the leak. In testimony regarding the story in February, Brennan called the leak an “unauthorized and dangerous disclosure of classified information.”
Records obtained by the Justice Department detailed incoming and outgoing calls, as well as the duration of calls, for work and private numbers of AP reporters and offices in New York, Washington, and Hartford, Connecticut, as well as the main number for reporters in the House of Representatives press gallery.
In its statement regarding the phone taps, the Department of Justice cited an exception to notifying a news organization in advance if it would hamper its own investigation:
“We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations. Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media. We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation. Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws,” the statement reads.
The rights of the US citizens are increasingly under attack, acknowledged Caleb Maupin from International Action Center.
“All the things that the Democratic Party lambasted George W. Bush for doing – they are now continuing. It is a trend in repression,” he said.
“This is an act of intimidation against the Associated Press. It was a real fear in the House of Power, which includes both the Democrats and the Republicans, that the press might start doing its job and actually speaking truth to power, actually exposing some of the crimes that has been committed,” Maupin said.
“They are going to threaten and intimidate journalists and keep that from happening – that is what’s behind this,” he concluded.
“The Obama administration has aggressively investigated disclosures of classified information and has actually brought six cases of people actually suspected of leaking classified information to trial – and that is more than all previous administrations combined,” RT America correspondent Meghan Lopez said, specifying that Bradley manning is only one of them.
Eric Draitser, an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City who spoke to RT on Monday says that news of the DoJ’s monitoring of the AP has wider implications:
“This kind of surveillance is used for the purpose of persecution, it is the persecution of whistle blowers primarily. So what you see are that the records sought were records of various journalists, in an attempt not to so much surveil the journalists but to track down who their sources are,” says Draitser.
“And much of this emerges out of this case in Yemen, with regard to CIA Director Brennan, and the idea of this leaked information. The Obama administration, perhaps more so than any other administration before it, has been vehemently persecuting whistleblowers of all kinds,” added Draitser.
"It is not unprecedented for the Justice Department to secretly get the numbers of reporters. What’s remarkable is the sweeping nature of this, the dragnet approach … and that’s why you have some press watchdog groups tonight, and freedom of the press groups saying this is positively Nixonian. They have not seen a precedent for this in decades." - Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein.
The Obama administration’s war on whistleblowers & information continues.
A gas tanker has exploded on a motorway in a suburb of Mexico City, killing at least 19 people and injuring 36, officials say.
May 7, 2013
Television images showed damaged buildings and cars in the area of Ecatepec on Tuesday morning.The explosion happened at about 05:00 local time (10:00 GMT) on the highway between Mexico City and Pachuca. The driver of the truck is under arrest in hospital, where he was being treated, officials say.
A giant plume of smoke rose over the area, about 14km (8.6 miles) north-east of the Mexican capital.
The gas tanker was thought to be traveling north when it crashed into another vehicle, BBC Mexico correspondent Will Grant reports. At least 30 homes and 20 cars were damaged, according to local media.
Salvador Neme Sastre, secretary for citizen security in Mexico State, confirmed the casualty figures on Twitter but officials fear the number of dead could still rise. Some of the casualties were asleep in homes in poor areas along the edge of the road.
Television images showed firefighters and rescue workers sifting through the wreckage, but there was no initial explanation as to what caused the crash.
The Mexican government announced measures in 2012 to lower the maximum allowed weight of freight vehicles after a series of crashes involving overloaded trucks.
However such accidents are still very common, as capitalist oligarchs refuse to enact measures to obey the law and are beholden only to profit, not the public interest.
Mexican media said the area resembled a “war zone,” with nearby homes and cars completely burned out. Dozens of ambulances were at the scene.
Daily Kos: The traditional media’s shoddy reporting on the Keystone XL pipeline is no surprise
April 21, 2013
It’s no secret that the traditional media have done a horrendous job on climate change, ignoring it or misreporting it, even in the face of an overwhelming scientific consensus, and even as the real world impacts continue and accelerate. In 2012, coverage of climate change dropped to a four year low on the Sunday talk shows, with not one person quoted being an actual scientist. Of course, when the science is so convincing, it’s difficult for the traditional media to play their usual game of creating false debates where there aren’t any real ones. On broadcast television, overall, coverage of climate change has plummeted, while newspaper coverage was no better, with climate deniers receiving more attention in the United States and the United Kingdom than in other countries, regardless of the ideological leanings of the specific papers. Which is to be expected, particularly given that the climate change deniers are so well-funded.
So, with President Obama soon to make a decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, it is no surprise to learn that the traditional media once again are living up to their horrendous standards. Media Matters has the story:
Television outlets overlooked the threat of Keystone XL to the sensitive ecosystems along the pipeline route, mentioning the risk of a spill in just 20 percent of coverage since Election Day, November 6, 2012. Meanwhile, 43 percent of television coverage promoted the jobs benefits of the pipeline, and 27 percent incorrectly suggested it would reduce our dependence on Middle East oil.
And making it even worse is that the supposed jobs benefits themselves are wildly overstated. As I wrote last month, regarding the State Department’s shamefully dishonest Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline:
The earlier Environmental Impact Statement estimated no more than 500 to 900 local jobs would be created throughout the entire construction throughout the entire region, and the new SEIS estimates no more than a few dozen permanent jobs, once the pipeline has been built. A 2011 study by the Cornell Global Labor Institute found that Keystone may actually destroy more jobs than it creates, and of course neither the fossil fuels industries, nor apparently the State Department that outsourced the SEIS to the fossil fuels industry, seems to care that the pipeline will damage the economy, overall.
So, of course the traditional media coverage would focus their coverage on what the dishonest supporters of Keystone want them to focus on, despite of its dishonesty. And as the Media Matters report explains, even though a tar sands pipeline recently ruptured in Arkansas, dumping thousands of gallons of oil into a residential neighborhood and wilderness area, the media coverage of Keystone did not then increase its discussion of spill risks, and the coverage by ABC, CBS and Fox didn’t even bother to mention that Keystone would carry the same type of heavy crude. And of course, both Murdoch-owned Fox and the Wall Street Journal minimized the pipeline’s climate impact, hardly ever mentioning it, and at times flat out dismissing it. On Fox, 76 percent of those quoted support the pipeline, and only 13 percent oppose it, and not one of the politicians quoted or hosted by Fox— only one of whom, other than the president, is a Democrat—opposed it.
As for the overall reporting on Keystone’s impact on climate change? Media Matters:
Scientists accounted for less than 1 percent of those hosted or quoted by TV outlets and less than 4 percent of those quoted by the major papers. CNN was the only television outlet to quote a scientist about the pipeline, and it was Patrick Michaels — a prominent climate contrarian who receives funding from the oil industry. The Los Angeles Times, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal did not quote a single scientist.
That might just be because so many prominent climate scientists oppose the pipeline, including John Abraham, David Archer, Jason Box, Ken Caldeira, James Hansen, John Harte, Ralph Keeling, Michael MacCracken, Michael Mann, James McCarthy, Michael Oppenheimer, Mauri Pelto, Raymond Pierrehumbert, Alan Robock, Terry Root, Ted Scambos, Richard Somerville and George Woodwell. As usual, the problem with traditional media coverage of anything related to climate change is that science is subjugated to the false political narrative that creates debates and controversies where there aren’t any.
If the traditional media were professional and honorable, they would research and report facts, as accurately as possible. On questions of science, they would talk to scientists. When talking to scientists, they would not give equal or even more time to those whose opinions are in a teeny tiny minority. But on climate issues, the traditional media are not professional and honorable, they almost never talk to scientists, and when they do talk to scientists they give wildly disproportionate coverage to the opinions of those who are so marginal and discredited as to be no better than flat-Earthers.
Appropriately and with great timing, this year’s Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting went not to any traditional media outlet, but to the online site InsideClimate News, “for their rigorous reports on flawed regulation of the nation’s oil pipelines, focusing on potential ecological dangers posed by diluted bitumen (or ‘dilbit’), a controversial form of oil.” InsideClimate has an entire page dedicated to Keystone, tar sands, and oil sands. The information is plentiful, even if the traditional media choose to ignore or distort it.
What should be good news is that the decision on Keystone lies in the hands of one man, and he is smart enough and diligent enough to be able to learn and act on the facts. It is up to him. There are no excuses. He can and must do the right thing, even when so many of the usual won’t.
A Facebook friend of mine sent me this video and asked for my thoughts
April 16, 2013
My response was so long, I thought it a waste not to post here. Response starts below:
Well, you may not have known what you were getting yourself into when you asked for my thoughts cos I have a whole essay’s worth of thoughts – lol!:
On our financial system: our financial system for sure doesn’t make any sense – it is unstable and crisis is built into our capitalist system. Among other problems, competition & unsustainable growth are built into the system – there is no way our system can continue for very long without serious reforms or absolute fundamental change (which is really what needs to happen). Competition is great, but the problem with competition is that somebody eventually wins. And when they do, power & money & the ability to accumulate more of both concentrates in the hands of a few, driving the disparity, subverting regulation, and eventually leading to economic disaster.
I can imagine a few alternatives & solutions to this problem and I have in-mind what I believe would be the most possible/likely-to-succeed/least-bloody solution, but ultimately, I’ll jump on board to pretty much anything that answers the problems created by our capitalist system if it becomes popular enough & has strong enough of a possibility of success & doesn’t involve hurting lots of other people.
On RussiaToday as a news source: RussiaToday, like all large news providers (save for Democracy Now, if you want to count that), is biased toward the agenda of the powers they are beholden to. For us in the United States, that’s the corrupt corporate interests that govern our system.
For RussiaToday, that’s Russian state interests. They use real information & real facts, but often frame them in misleading or hyperbolic ways. Amidst major crises, they report facts early and incorrectly often. They feature U.S. stories predominately featuring violence, brutality, and crisis in the U.S. They intentionally try and foster negative feelings about the U.S. and give extensive coverage to news relevant both to the American left and to libertarian/Ron-Paul people – the two largest ‘dissident’ communities in the U.S. That’s their U.S. audience – people who could cause problems for U.S. state interests.
As part of that community, it’s a great & powerful resource. Lots of good information covered extensively about police brutality & our military-industrial-complex that doesn’t get that kind of coverage otherwise. At the same time, when they cite statistics or post stories about how the U.S. government is finally coming ‘for your guns’, I kind of just roll my eyes and tune them out and wait to see if I see it reported on DemocracyNow or TruthOut or SocialistWorker or AlJazeera (which has it’s own problems). So… I find them to be a good source for conglomerated news stories that a ‘dissident’ or a leftist might be interested in, but it’s always important to me, when reading RussiaToday, that I find other sources to confirm what is being reported.
Recommended related sources:
Sorry for the really long response!
the-lone-pamphleteer.tumblr.com: Sundown in America
April 4, 2013
Rarely do journalists reporting on the state of the American or world economy write with the accessibility and honesty of David A. Stockman in his recent New York Times opinion piece, called “State-Wrecked: The Corruption of Capitalism in America.” The former Republican Congressman and Office of Management & Budget director during the Reagan administration has the experience with financial markets and central economic planning that most critics of the system lack, and it makes his column seem both more reliable and more frightening than the alarmist pleas of many other doomsday prophets.
With carefully explained figures and simplified (yet, to my knowledge, accurate) descriptions of the history of twentieth century American capitalism, Stockman takes us through the eras of mistaken governmental policies, avoiding the typical biases that pervade in financial opinion writing:
“The culprits are bipartisan, though you’d never guess that from the blather that passes for political discourse these days.”
Stockman’s willingness to criticize Republicans and Democrats alike is refreshing, as when he points to 1933 as the origin of our current “state-wreck,” when “when Franklin D. Roosevelt opted for fiat money (currency not fundamentally backed by gold), economic nationalism and capitalist cartels in agriculture and industry,” but then only a few paragraphs later emphasizes Richard Nixon’s “sin [arguably] graver than Watergate”: ending the convertibility of gold to the dollar, essentially defaulting on the nation’s debt obligations and launching a “four-decade spree during which we have lived high on the hog, running a cumulative $8 trillion current-account deficit.”
Many of his claims, though controversial, strike me as correct: World War II did more to end the depression than the New Deal; the only reason Alan Greenspan’s monetary policies—keeping interest rates too low for too long and flooding Wall Street with freshly minted cash—didn’t set off inflation was that domestic prices for goods and labor were crushed by the huge flow of imports from the factories of Asia; we’ve been living on borrowed time, spending Asia’s borrowed dimes; beginning under Reagan, and especially under Bush, the GOP basically “embraced Keynesianism—for the wealthy”; that the overblown fear of another Great Depression in 2008 was concocted by Wall Street to force a panicked bail-out from Washington; and—perhaps most frighteningly—that the 10-year deficit is actually $15 to $20 trillion—much larger than the $7 trillion that even “deficit hawks” like Paul Ryan would have us believe (Stockman explains that this disparity is partially made possible by the Congressional Budget Office’s projection of 16.4 million jobs over the next decade, compared with only 2.5 million in the last ten years).
I find myself convinced by Stockman’s column not only because of his seemingly accurate portrayal of the many mistakes made by government and industry alike, but also because he seems genuinely concerned with the stark and widening inequality created by the broken system. He sounds like Bernie Sanders when he says that Paul Ryan’s “proposal for draconian 30 percent cuts over a decade on the $7 trillion safety net—Medicaid, food stamps and the earned-income tax credit—is another front in the GOP’s war against the 99 percent.”
Like many critics of the harshly unequal outcomes of the supposed “recovery,” he invokes mind-boggling figures: real median family income growth has dropped 8 percent; the real net worth of the bottom 90 percent has dropped by 25 percent; the number of food stamp and disability aid recipients has more than doubled, to 59 million (which is one in five Americans).
In the 1980s Stockman was a true believer in Chicago School neoclassical economics and the trickle-down theory. Unlike most of his peers, however, he’s willing to look, 30 years later, at the disastrous outcomes and know how misguided that ideology was.
Stockman is no Kissinger, warning of the future of an empirical China in America’s image. Instead, he recognizes that just as America will soon follow Greece and Cypriot’s lead, the rest of the world won’t be far behind:
“The greatest construction boom in recorded history—China’s money dump on infrastructure over the last 15 years—is slowing. Brazil, India, Russia, Turkey, South Africa and all the other growing middle-income nations cannot make up for the shortfall in demand. The American machinery of monetary and fiscal stimulus has reached its limits. Japan is sinking into old-age bankruptcy and Europe into welfare-state senescence. The new rulers enthroned in Beijing last year know that after two decades of wild lending, speculation and building, even they will face a day of reckoning, too.”
He joins other pragmatic truth-tellers, like former Comptroller General David Walker, in calling for drastic reforms, but is more than pessimistic about the potential to realize them, writing that “the way out would be so radical it can’t happen.” I disagree with Stockman on what appears to be a faith in truly free and functioning markets that could save the global economy while decreasing inequality—especially because he doesn’t address how constant growth could be compatible with an ecologically sustainable future—but I am willing to concede that many of his measures would be improvements over the status quo. I also agree that they’re completely unfeasible as a matter of politics.
So what are we left with? How do we proceed? Is there any way to stop this latest bubble, “inflated by an egregious flood of phony money from the Federal Reserve rather than real economic gains,” from bursting and leaving us in ruins? I don’t know, but Stockman’s closing line leaves me with chills: “If this sounds like advice to get out of the markets and hide out in cash, it is.”
— Written & submitted by the-lone-pamphleteer.tumblr.com whom you should follow.
Please send your own original content for review & publishing on The People’s Record at firstname.lastname@example.org & feel free to write us with any ideas for regular columns, podcasts, cartoons/comics or similar such content.
Or if you’re interested in helping us curate & post regular international protest news content from other sources (we’ll have to trust you first cos of passwords, etc) for The People’s Record on our Facebook page, our Twitter account, our Tumblr, Instagram or other sites that you think we should be on, let us know so we can get that process started.
The People’s Record Daily News Update (it’s been a while since we’ve done one of these)
Here’s a collection of news stories for February 7, 2013 that you may not otherwise have a chance to see/learn about.
In Colorado, a six year old boy has been suspended from his school for playing with a make-believe grenade, while imagining that he is an action hero, saving the world.7-year-od Alex Evans insists the imaginary grenade he threw at an imaginary box was necessary to rid the world of evil.
"I pretended the box, there’s something shaking in it, and I go ‘pshhh, I was trying to save people and I just can’t believe I got dispended."
It could soon be illegal to create online parodies or to ‘catfish’ someone in Arizona, with the expected passage of an internet-censorship bill that would make it a crime punishable by prison to lie on the Internet. Administrators of Twitter parody accounts and other online impersonators will be forced to throw in the towel, or else face as much as one-and-a-half years in prison for violating a law expected to soon go up for debate.
The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta continues to invoke the potential of a ‘cyber pearl harbor’ in an effort to scare citizens into allowing less privacy, more censorship, and more military/government/police control of the internet.
“I believe that it is very possible the next Pearl Harbor could be a cyber attack,” Panetta told an audience at Georgetown University, in Washington, DC, after a speech. Panetta outlined Pentagon officials’ growing fears of online attacks in a question-and-answer session following a lecture on leadership and government. “There is no question, in my mind, that part and parcel of any attack on this country in the future, by any enemy, is going to include a cyber-element,” he said. “That is something we have to worry about and protect against.”
Survivavlists in Idaho plan to build a community in the forest resembling a medieval-style fortress complete with housing, a school and a gun factory. They are calling the precious ‘dream’ community ‘The Citadel’.
But those who are proposing the establishment of the Citadel say that all of the city’s residents would have to own an AR-15 rifle, 1,000 rounds of ammunition and enough supplies to withstand a collapse of society. And since AR-15s have become difficult to obtain and would be outlawed if Congress reinstates the 1994 ban on assault weapons, the fortress would have its own factory to produce them. Residents would also be required by law to carry a side arm – a small weapon worn in a holster – whenever visiting the town center.
“Marxists, Socialists, Liberals, and Establishment Republicans will likely find that life in our community is incompatible with their existing ideology and preferred lifestyles,” states the proposal’s website. One would hope so.
In Maryland, the Maryland House Judiciary Committee is considering a bill that would allow law enforcement officials to obtain location records from mobile devices without a search warrant.
House Bill 377 lowers the standard of probable cause law enforcement officials must meet before obtaining cell phone tracking information. In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that law enforcement must obtain a search warrant before using GPS technology to track criminal suspects. While the ruling did not impose a warrant requirement or a probable cause standard for obtaining real-time location records, both practices became commonplace in several of the state jurisdictions, including the city of Baltimore, for obtaining real-time location information records.
Students at Duke University held protests after the Kappa Sigma fraternity held a racist party to mock Asians and spoof Asian dress, speech and culture.
Asian American students organized a protest that included a “Race Is Not a Party” Facebook page and a campus rally Wednesday where students chanted, “Don’t party at our expense!” and “No more hate, make Duke great!”
"It was shocking and hurtful," one outraged student said of the party, which advertised the event via an email with the greeting "Herro Nice Duke Peopre!!"
Chronicle of a Mexico without a president
December 10, 2012
In Mexico, December 1, 2012, will be remembered as the day that an imposition was legitimized.
Enrique Peña Nieto — his name is often abbreviated in Mexico as “EPN” — took the reins of power in the context of deep indignation and amidst heavy state crackdown against crowds of protesters. A number of actions were planned in Mexico City to show the illegitimacy of Peña Nieto’s presidency, particularly given the unfair media attention he received and the electoral fraud that took place to ensure his victory.
On that day, Mexico’s historic center and the congressional buildings were a microcosm of the Mexican state as a whole. The Legislative Palace of San Lázaro, which houses Mexico’s Congress, appeared to be a giant fortress, deaf to the rubber bullets and tear gas grenades that the federal police fired at protesters. Nearby, thepresidential palace stood on one side of the Zócalo, the main square of Mexico City.
Across the street from the palace, Alameda central park had been turned into a battleground between protesters and police. The violence forced the“embroiderers for peace” — a group of artists who had gathered to display embroidered handkerchiefs that symbolized those killed or disappeared during former president Calderón’s six-year drug war — to withdraw from their peaceful protest.
Meanwhile, over televisions across the country, Mexicans participated in a society of spectacle as they watched Peña Nieto’s inauguration. Just outside the media bubble, however, shouts of indignation rose in the streets. At a restaurant on 5 de Mayo Street, Peña Nieto’s voice declared from a television screen, “Two thousand one hundred and ninety-one days are sufficient to lay the foundation to make Mexico a prosperous country.” In the meantime, the repression continued in the historical center of the city, resulting in more than 170 arrests, and another hundred injured, many seriously. All of the violence and outcry occurred just feet from the media spectacle that protected the so-called “imposition.”
As EPN lifted his right hand and promised to protect the Constitution, the story of a Mexico without a president began. The inauguration was marked by discontent and indignation in the streets, juxtaposed against the sense of denial — “nothing to see here” — taking place in a presidential palace living in a media bubble.
“I will govern looking out for the well-being and prosperity of the union, and if I don’t accomplish it, may the nation demand it of me,” Peña Nieto declared in his inauguration speech.
This speech and the government-controlled narrative of the day’s event have been widely broadcast. But the story of the day’s protests tended to be suppressed and distorted by official propaganda.