Thursday, December 29, 2016

Common Dreams:
"The U.S. government has quietly started to ask foreign travelers to hand over their social media accounts upon arriving in the country, a program that aims to spot potential terrorist threats but which civil liberties advocates have long opposed as a threat to privacy. ...

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security first proposed the idea in June, when it was met with opposition and criticism from rights groups, consumer advocates, and other entities, including the Internet Association, which represents Facebook, Google, and Twitter. ... But it appears the Obama administration ignored their warnings about the threat to privacy and free expression and finalized the program anyway.

'There are very few rules about how that information is being collected, maintained [and] disseminated to other agencies, and there are no guidelines about limiting the government’s use of that information,' Michael W. Macleod-Ball, chief of staff for the ACLU's Washington office, told Politico's Tony Romm." 

-- >Government now snooping into social media? The story never happened in the NYT which rarely covers assaults on civil liberties.


Common Dreams:
"Sen. Bernie Sanders has made it known that Donald Trump should not go unchallenged by his congressional colleagues as troubling comments by the President-elect about nuclear weapons this week sparked alarm across the United States and the world.

Following an initial out-of-the-blue tweet Thursday saying the U.S. should 'expand' its nuclear arsenal followed by 'clarifying' remarks Friday to MSNBC in which Trump said, 'Let it be an arms race,' Sanders responded: 'It's a miracle a nuclear weapon hasn't been used in war since 1945. Congress can't allow the Tweeter in Chief to start a nuclear arms race.' " 

-- >Although the NYT also criticized Trump's threats about nuclear weapons, our newspaper of record omitted the one voice that has the most credibility in the Democratic Party, that of Bernie Sanders. The NYT can't acknowledge the Sanders revolution simply because it would go against the wishes of the billionaires.


Common Dreams:
"In the final hours before the Christmas holiday weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law—and buried within the $619 billion military budget (pdf) is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms.

The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, establishes the Global Engagement Center under the State Department which coordinates efforts to 'recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests.'

Further, the law authorizes grants to non-governmental agencies to help 'collect and store examples in print, online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda' directed at the U.S. and its allies, as well as 'counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability" of the U.S. and allied nations.' " 

-- >This bad news about a new government propaganda center never made it into the NYT. Alternative views are rarely encouraged by our newspaper of record, so why alarm its readers?

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Common Dreams:
"Sanders Calls for Investigation of Big Pharma Drug Pushers Over Shocking New Report. Drug-pushing, multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies should be 'investigated and prosecuted,' declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in response to revelations that out-of-state drug wholesalers have been pouring highly-addictive and lethal opioids into rural West Virginia towns, reaping profits while countless suffer.

Reporter Eric Eyre with the Charleston Gazette-Mail published a two-part investigative series this weekend exposing what looks like the Big Pharma behemoths profiting off the state's overdose epidemic. According to 'previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office,' and obtained by the Gazette-Mail, 'drug wholesalers showered the state with 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills' over a six-year period. At the same time, '1,728 West Virginians fatally overdosed on those two painkillers.' "

-- >Big Pharma is a top player in the nation's drug addiction problems. Bernie says it, but the NYT can't bring itself to cover this story so close it its corporate ties.


Guardian UK:
"You report that the government is going to adopt a 'new definition' of antisemitism in order to prevent an 'over-sweeping condemnation of Israel'. The new definition has nothing to do with opposing antisemitism, it is merely designed to silence public debate on Israel’s crimes against the Palestinians. Antisemitic incidents comprise about 2% of all hate crime. Why then the concentration on antisemitism and not on Islamophobia, which is far more widespread? The suspicion must be that the real concern is not with antisemitism but with Britain’s support for Israel.

Israel claims to be 'the only democracy in the Middle East.' Palestinians who live under Israeli occupation are governed by a wholly different set of laws than Jewish settlers. This makes Israel the world’s only apartheid state and thus deserving of strong condemnation and the target of boycott, divestment and sanctions. We agree that it is antisemitic to associate Jews with the actions of the Israeli state. Unfortunately this is precisely what the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition will achieve through perpetuating the stereotype that all Jews support the Israeli state.

The IHRA will strengthen not weaken antisemitism. There is a very simple definition of antisemitism from Oxford University’s Brian Klug. Antisemitism is 'a form of hostility towards Jews as Jews.' The IHRA definition smuggles in anti-Zionism, in the guise of antisemitism, as a means of protecting the Israeli state and thus western foreign policy." 

-- >Straight talk from the Guardian UK on new laws are being introduced to alter the meaning of antiSemitism in England. Why can't our newspaper of record, the NYT, offer a similar debate about the "New McCarthyism" being introduced by our own Congress?


"For decades, Vietnam veterans have suspected that the defoliant harmed their children. But the VA hasn’t studied its own data for clues. A new ProPublica analysis has found that the odds of having a child born with birth defects were more than a third higher for veterans exposed to Agent Orange than for those who weren’t. ...

For decades, the Department of Veterans Affairs has collected — and ignored — reams of information that could have helped answer that question, an investigation by ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot has found. ...But the birth defect data had never received scrutiny by the VA or anyone else until this year, when ProPublica, working with The Virginian-Pilot, obtained it after submitting a detailed plan describing how it would be used and agreeing to protect patients’ identities. ...

Vietnam vets and their advocates believe a brutal calculation may lie at the heart of why their claims have gone unexamined. Caring for and compensating veterans themselves already costs tens of billions of dollars a year. If a link to their children is proven, it could add billions more." 

-- >Always protective of the Pentagon's foreign wars, the NYT did not cover this story. What tales of sorrow and loss does the use of depleted uranium in Iraq and Afghanistan hold for our current war veterans? You won't be reading that question in the NYT.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Daily Mail UK:
"A former Icelandic minister has claimed that the FBI attempted to frame Julian Assange during a mission to Iceland. 

Ögmundur Jonasson, who currently serves as a member of the Icelandic Parliament, said US authorities told him in June 2011 that hackers were trying to destroy software systems in the country. The authorities said there was an 'imminent attack' on Iceland's government databases and that the FBI would send agents to investigate...

Jonasson said it was only when a 'planeload' of FBI agents arrived in August that he realized the true reason for their visit. The former minister claims the FBI was seeking Iceland's 'cooperation in what I understood as an operation set up to frame Julian Assange and WikiLeaks'. Jonasson said he immediately told the FBI agents to leave the country."  

-- >There is plenty of news in the US about Russia hacking the US election, but none about the CIA attempting to frame Julian Assange. The framing was subsequently done in Sweden.


Guardian UK:
"The US military in Afghanistan is increasingly trying to control public information about the war, resulting in strained relations with western organisations offering different versions of events to official military accounts, the Guardian has learned.

In a recent incident, the most senior US commander in Afghanistan, Gen John W Nicholson, considered banning or restricting the UN’s access to a military base in Kabul, according to informed sources in both organisations. The dispute followed a UN report in late September claiming that a US drone had killed 15 civilians. Washington insists it only killed members of Islamic State.

UN and US military officials declined to speak to the Guardian, but various sources confirmed that working relations were 'a nightmare', as a UN staff member put it."

-- >This story did not appear in the NYT. American war crimes and attempts to cover them up are never judged to be "fit to print" by our newspaper of record.


Guardian UK:
"Pipeline rupture spews oil into creek 150 miles from Standing Rock.

Electronic monitoring equipment failed to detect a pipeline rupture that spewed more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil into a North Dakota creek, according to the pipeline’s operator, about 150 miles from the site of the Standing Rock protests. The potential for a pipeline leak that might taint drinking water is at the core of the months-long standoff at the Dakota Access pipeline, where thousands of people have been protesting against its construction. That pipeline would cross the Missouri river.

It’s not yet clear why the monitoring equipment didn’t detect the leak, Wendy Owen, a spokeswoman for Casper, Wyoming-based True Cos, which operates the Belle Fourche pipeline, said."

-- >Always protective of big oil pipelines, the NYT did not run this story.