Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Common Dreams:
"Paul Krugman is at it again. This time, he’s using his position as the leading progressive columnist in the nation’s 'newspaper of record,' to ballyhoo a letter from four former heads of the Council of Economic Advisors.

Their letter criticizes an economic analysis of Bernie Sanders’ policies performed by University of Massachusetts economist, Gerald Friedman, which found that Sander’s platform would increase growth by 5.3%.

Krugman’s column this past Friday suggests that the former CEA chiefs’ letter puts Bernie in the same camp as the Republicans, who’ve been spouting voodoo economics such as trickle-down and the elixir of tax cuts for decades now, complete with magic asterisks designed to make nearly $6 trillion in deficits disappear.
There’s so much that is wrong with Krugman’s column and with the letter from former CEA chiefs Alan Krueger, Austan Goolbee, Christina Romer, and Laura D'Andrea Tyson that it’s hard to know where to begin." 

-->Check out James K. Galbraith's criticism of Krugman. Why is he distorting Sander's plans for a new economy? The possibility of a cabinet spot in the Clinton dynasty?


The Guardian UK:
"Britain is setting a dangerous precedent by undermining human rights and contributing to a worldwide 'culture of impunity', Amnesty International has said in its annual report on the state of human rights.

Plans to scrap the Human Rights Act, the UK’s absence from EU refugee resettlement schemes, proposed new spying laws and the alleged downgrading of human rights as a Foreign Office priority in favour of commercial deals are all cited by the group as evidence of a trend.

Amnesty’s UK director, Kate Allen, said: 'The UK is setting a dangerous precedent to the world on human rights. There’s no doubt that the downgrading of human rights by this government is a gift to dictators the world over and fatally undermines our ability to call on other countries to uphold rights and laws.' "

-->Britain, America's closest ally, is scrapping human rights and encouraging a worldwide culture of immunity? You didn't read about it in the NYT, busy covering up the national security state that the US is fast becoming. 


Common Dreams:
"Newly released documents show that, in back-room talks, European officials assured ExxonMobil that the pending US-EU trade agreement would force the removal of regulatory 'obstacles' worldwide, thus opening up even more countries to exploitation by the fossil fuel empire.

Heavily redacted documents pertaining to an October 2013 meeting, obtained by the Guardian and reported on Tuesday, reveal that then-trade commissioner Karel de Gucht met with two officials from ExxonMobil's EU and U.S. divisions to address the benefits of the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

As the Guardian notes, the meeting was held at a time when countries in South America and Africa were 'tightening regulations on fossil fuel companies for the first time in a decade, despite ExxonMobil’s ambitions to open up shale gas fracking wells in North Africa, Asia and South America.' "

-->Our newspaper of record is too busy trying to sell the TTIP to its readers to cover this story. Obama's claims that trade deals will be good of the environment are just another proof that he is a perpetual lier.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

" 'The Ghost Warriors: Inside Israel's Undercover War Against Suicide Terrorism,' an interview of the author by Joe Donahue. ... It was the deadliest terror campaign ever mounted against a nation in modern times: the al-Aqsa, or Second, Intifada. This is the untold story of how Israel fought back with an elite force of undercover operatives, drawn from the nation’s diverse backgrounds and ethnicities." 

-->Joe Donahue has a nice radio personality and often that works out fairly well. His recent interview with Samuel Katz, however, shows how being affable when discussing Israeli apartheid ends up being complicit. He never questions Katz's portrayal of Palestinians as terrorists, nor expresses the least bit of doubt about the "heroism" of IDF special assassin teams. Why would NPR have a racist book like this on the Roundtable anyway? The answer is that NPR nationally as well as Alan Chartock locally are always busy whitewashing Israel's crimes. Alan is especially good at getting a Zionist perspective across to his listeners, even on a show discussing classical music. Like the other supposedly progressive media, including The NYT, Zionist propaganda always comes before a fair and accurate presentation of the news.


Common Dreams:
"The British government's move to outlaw boycotts, including those aimed at Israel, is being likened by critics to former Prime Minster Margaret Thatcher's support for apartheid South Africa.

Under the new plan, publicly-funded institutions that refuse to purchase goods and services from 'unethical' companies will face 'severe penalties,' senior government sources told the Independent. The prohibition protects any company that is signatory to the World Trade Organization government procurement agreement, including those 'involved in the arms trade, fossil fuels, tobacco products or Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.' ...

Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is among those who has voiced opposition to the proposal, which he said amounts to an attack on local democracy. 'The Government’s decision to ban councils and other public bodies from divesting from trade or investments they regard as unethical is an attack on local democracy,' a Corbyn spokesperson told the press."

-->At least the English media is discussing this latest attack on freedom of speech. The NYT hasn't printed a word about the NY State legislature passing laws criminalizing boycott, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel. 


The Guardian UK:
"US military burn pits built on chemical weapons facilities tied to soldiers' illness
Though the US government disputes it, new evidence shows a link between service in Iraq and Afghanistan and cancers and untreatable bronchial illnesses.

In 2007, shortly after vice-president Joe Biden learned that his eldest son would be deployed to Iraq, the then-presidential hopeful turned to a modest crowd at the Iowa state fair and admitted that he didn’t want Beau to go. 'But I tell you what,' he said, his family lined up behind him. 'I don’t want my grandson or my granddaughters going back in 15 years and so how we leave makes a big difference.'

Beau arrived in Iraq the following year, and spent the next several months serving as a Jag officer at Camp Victory. .... Though he returned home safely in September 2009, he woke up one day a few months later with an inexplicable headache, numbness in his limbs and paralysis on one side of his body. ...

Though the underlying cause of Beau’s cancer cannot be confirmed, evidence gathered in a new book out Tuesday suggests a possible link between his illness and service. Based on clusters of similar cases, scientific studies and expert opinions, author Joseph Hickman proposes in The Burn Pits: The Poisoning of America’s Soldiers that US service members in Iraq and Afghanistan confronted more than one unexpected enemy that followed them home."

-->No story was printed in our newspaper of record, always eager to cover up the American Empire's crimes committed against its own troops.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The NYT:
-->"Faith in Agency Clouded Sanders's VA Response" proclaims the front page of last Sunday's NYT (Feb 7, 2016). Reading through the article, however, one never really gets to what the problem is. Sanders wanted proof that claims against the Office of Veterans Affairs were credible. Once verified, he moved to implement changes in how veterans were dealt with. 

There was really no story here at all. But the headlines speak louder than any of the facts presented. "Clouded Response," "slow to respond," and "lenient in his oversight" are key phrases to convey doubt about Sanders' judgement and qualifications for the presidency. Our newspaper of record is favoring Wall Street's candidate, Hillary, by distorting the news. Let's put opinion where it belongs, on the opinion page. 


-->Just in case anyone could misunderstand how The NYT uses news coverage to propagandize, one need only to look at it's next day coverage of the Democratic primary campaign. The front page story was about female "Icons" telling young women to "Get With It" and vote for Hillary. Next came a story about Bill Clinton unleashing a "Stinging Attack on Sanders." Finally, there is a story about Hillary's grandstanding in Flint, calling the water crisis "Immoral." 

Yes, the corporate establishment is scared to death of a Sanders run for president. The coverage of the race in the last several weeks shows readers how far the "Gray Lady" will go to promote the interests of the wealthy elite. Would Sanders have a chance in the general election with the mainstream media so dead set against his winning? There would have to be a revolution in the media, as well as the Democratic Party to actually see a change in the American Empire. 


-->Of course, the same can be said about The NYT's coverage of Israel and the illegal settlements. Monday's edition (Feb 8, 2016) saw the first mention of the Airbnb controversy over renting flats in the West Bank Settlements. But instead of saying very much about the morality of these rentals, the article goes on to praise them as offering good deals for the adventurous. There is the obligatory mention of international law, a few sentences buried in the middle of the article, but the piece is all about brave settlement owners willing to offer something different. 

Readers are told, "With the Internet, people see a nice area, it's cheap, Let's go, they don't care ... It's a global world now, and nothing will stop people coming." 

Missed a tour of the Cambodian "Killing Fields" while the action was hot, or Auschwitz at the height of the extermination? Come to the West Bank for a little adventure in apartheid, promoted by your newspaper of record.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

The Guardian UK:
"Officers last year fired stun guns at black and Hispanic people at a higher rate than at white suspects, and warned but did not fire at white suspects at a higher rate than they did black or Hispanic people, according to preliminary data from the first US state to require police to document their use of stun guns.

The new data from Connecticut come as police across the US face increasing scrutiny over their use of force, in the wake of high-profile fatal shootings by officers, especially of black suspects. Although stun guns have been billed as non-lethal alternatives to guns, they have resulted in deaths, and reliable information on how police use them has been lacking. ...

Within the overall number of stun gun incidents, officers fired at them 60% of the time in cases involving white suspects, 80% of the time in cases involving black suspects and 69% of the time in cases involving Hispanic suspects."

-->The NYT should have printed this important story, one that confirms that there are many law enforcement practices in the US that are clearly racist. But The NYT only offered this AP story to its on-line readers.


Common Dreams:
"From being victims of police killings to facing barriers to educational and health equity, African Americans are facing 'systemic racial discrimination' and deserve reparatory justice, a United Nations working group said Friday. ...

The statement comes from their preliminary findings after hearing from state and federal officials, as well as individuals and civil society organizations.

'Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, ideology ensuring the domination of one group over another continues to negatively impact the civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of African Americans today,' said human rights expert and working group head Mireille Fanon Mendes France."

-->Even this story is a no-show for The NYT, the newspaper written for white men of means. What white privilege?


Human Rights Watch:
"Israel operates a two-tiered system in the West Bank that provides preferential treatment to Jewish Israeli settlers while imposing harsh conditions on Palestinians. Israeli courts apply Israeli civil law to settlers, affording them legal protections, rights and benefits not enjoyed by their Palestinian neighbors who are subject to Israeli military law, even though under international humanitarian law, military law governs the occupied territories regardless of citizenship. Israel’s privileged treatment of settlers extends to virtually every aspect of life in the West Bank. On the one hand, Israel provides settlers, and in many cases settlement businesses, with land, water infrastructure, resources, and financial incentives to encourage the growth of settlements. On the other hand, Israel confiscates Palestinian land, forcibly displaces Palestinians, restricts their freedom of movement, precludes them from building in all but 1 percent of the area of the West Bank under Israeli administrative control, and strictly limits their access to water and electricity. ...

Businesses also play a vital role in sustaining the settlements, thereby facilitating and benefitting from Israel’s violation of the international law prohibition on an occupying power transferring its civilian population into occupied territory and contributing to Israel’s discrimination against Palestinians in the West Bank. Businesses provide services of all kinds to settlers. At the same time, they contribute to the economic development of settlements by providing employment to settlers and tax revenues to settlement municipalities."

-->The NYT did an op-ed on this Human Rights Watch report. But why wasn't this very condemning HRW report covered as a news story? The report should be news first, and then the subject of opinion pieces. In fact, very few US media sources covered this story, with the exception of the Christian Science Monitor.