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By Linn Washington, Jr.
Ask journalists across America what is the seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the First Amendment’s press freedom right and most with even a minimal knowledge of First Amendment history will quickly answer New York Times vs. Sullivan.
However, few journalists are aware that the Supreme Court decision significantly reinforcing their press freedom protections arose from the Civil Rights Movement, and in an action involving iconic activist Dr. Martin Luther King.
The 1964 New York Times vs. Sullivan decision is one of a number of U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the Twentieth Century where struggles by African-Americans to obtain long-denied constitutional rights succeeded in expanding constitutional protections for all Americans.
Nerve Gas To Be Used for Crowd Control in the UK?
Royal Society scientists tell of 'incapacitating chemical agents' investigation
A neuroscience research team has announced that the UK may be planning on implementing nerve gas and other chemical agents for domestic law enforcement. Scientists commissioned through Royal Society, the UK's national academy of sciences, says that the government commissioned them to research new developments in neuroscience that would 'be of use to the military'. The group of scientists has become aware that the government may be preparing to use incapacitating chemical agents for crowd control.
US Iran Policy in 'Lockstep' with Israel?: President Obama Risks Becoming a Major-League War Criminal
By Dave Lindorff
It’s a relief to know that President Obama’s “preferred” solution to dealing with disagreements with Iran is diplomacy, as he said yesterday in an interview on NBC TV, but at the same time, it’s profoundly disturbing that he is simultaneously saying that, as an AP report on the interview put it: he would “not take options off the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
By Michael Hayne, Addicting Info
So you remember how Dick Cheney and company did everything in their diabolical power to hoodwink America into going to war with Iraq and
liberating the Iraqi people from the brutal fist of Saddam Hussein pursuing a petty vendetta and building a permanent American imperialistic free-market paradise? Although a significant portion of the American electorate is still in therapy to suppress the dark Bush/Cheney years and the Statue of Liberty still suffers from acute nausea, perhaps you recall the John Yoo Torture Memo, the infamous memo that the Bush Administration relied on in justifying its harsh interrogation “techniques” on prisoners overseas. This was the memo that was in force when the Abu Ghraib detainees were subjected to cruel treatment and torture, including “Waterboarding“, Dick Cheney’s favorite water sport that was used on a variety of essential and non-essential prisoners to extract information (and to make Cheney smile).
Alarmist reporting on 'terrorist' threat -- From FAIR
The January 31 ABC World News broadcast featured a blatantly propagandistic report on the supposed threat from Iran.
The newscast focused on that day's Senate testimony by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who told lawmakers that the U.S. intelligence community believes that Iran may be "now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime."
"America's top spy warns that Iran is willing to launch a terrorist strike inside the U.S.," announced anchor Diane Sawyer at the top of the program. "We'll tell you his evidence." The ABC report was actually very light on evidence. It did, however, pass along numerous incendiary allegations from government officials--without the skeptical scrutiny that is real journalism's primary function.
Echoing the government, Sawyer set up the report with an assertion that Iran is "more determined than ever to launch an attack on U.S. soil." Correspondent Martha Raddatz, claiming that the "the saber-rattling coming from Iran has been constant," told viewers that Clapper delivered "a new bracing warning.... Iran may be more ready than ever to launch terror attacks inside the United States."
In its effort to substantiate Clapper's strong claim, ABC could only provide the most dubious evidence. As Raddatz announced:
New York Times-Style Journalism
by Stephen Lendman
Like other major media scoundrels, New York Times writers, op-ed commentators and editorials fail the test. They're biased, shameless and irresponsible, especially on issues of war and peace.
Imagine if a bunch of the craziest war-hungry Republicans in the House filmed themselves in a nutty bat-guano video packed with lies addressed to the President of the United States. And then imagine President Barack Obama almost immediately agreeing with them. I can think of two ways in which such a series of events could go unnoticed, as it just has.
First, it could be about something insignificant. But this was about undoing the automatic cuts to the military mandated by the failure of the Supercommittee (remember, the top news story of a few months back?). The military, across various departments, swallows over half of federal discretionary spending, and there's no greater obsession in the corporate media than the great Spending vs. Cuts issue. This is NOT insignificant.
Second, it could be about something that the elites of both major parties agree on, the media therefore ignores, most Republican voters love, and Democratic voters pretend not to notice because the President is a Democrat and an election is less than a year away.
If you're guessing the second option, you are right. (Tell them what they've won, Leon!) You are now the proud owners of the most expensive military ever seen, plus coming increases that will be presented as "cuts."
When the Supercommittee failed, automatic federal budget cuts were to kick in -- half to things we need and half to the bloated military. The military cuts would take us back to 2004 spending. We seem to have survived 2004 and the years preceding it OK.
The Pentagon claims to be making other cuts already, but they are "cuts" to dream budgets resulting in actual budget increases -- and that's not even counting increased war spending through other departments.
House Republicans have sent President Obama this crazy video opposing military cuts and introduced legislation to slash 10% of non-military government jobs instead. In the Senate, John McCain is said to be working on a similar bill.
Meanwhile "Defense" Secretary Leon Panetta has just announced the Obama Administration's position: They will oppose the automatic cuts, or any other actual cuts, to the military. This will mean severe cuts to education, transportation, and -- as President Obama indicated in his State of the Union speech -- to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.
At last Thursday's press conference the first question following Panetta's remarks was:
"Mr. Secretary, you talked a little bit on this, but over the next 10 years, do you see any other year than this year where the actual spending will go down from year to year? And just to the American public more broadly, how do you sort of explain what appears to be contradictory, as you talk about, repeatedly, this $500 billion in cuts in a Defense Department budget that is actually going to be increasing over time?"
Panetta had no substantive answer. And he didn't need one. The media almost unanimously put out the false story that the military was undergoing serious cuts. That first year's cut, by the way, is 1%, to be followed by nine years of larger increases.
You might have forgotten that in 2008, three times in three presidential debates, Senator John McCain proposed cutting the military, while Senator Obama campaigned on increasing it -- one promise he has actually kept.
Lately supporters have been saying that the President will become the Obama of our Dreams once he's a lame duck. But the history and the logic of lame duck officials is that they become less, not more, representative of the public will. And the public will is strongly in favor of major cuts to the military.
Others may be inclined to suggest that while Obama and Panetta are increasing the military and calling it "cuts," they are actually cutting the budget for wars. Some may have been misled by this line in the State of the Union: "Take the money we're no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."
But in reality, Obama and Panetta are proposing to cut the war budget by only $27 billion. Meanwhile, the $27 billion has already been spent elsewhere in the Pentagon budget. Plus military spending is on the rise in other departments. Plus any new wars and confrontations -- like in Iran or Syria -- will offer the opportunity for supplemental bills. And less expensive but more secretive and equally deadly wars are underway, investment will increase in drones and special forces, and I have doubts we could rebuild our nation here at home for $13.5 billion even if we had it, while continuing to dump over $1 trillion into preparations for the crime of war year after year.
We do have the option to resist.
By Linn Washington, Jr.
Credit ‘people power’ for getting internationally known inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal sprung from his apparently punitive, seven-week placement in ‘The Hole.’
For the first time since receiving a controversial death sentence in 1982 for killing a Philadelphia policeman, the widely acclaimed author-activist finds himself in general population, a prison housing status far less restrictive than the solitary confinement of death row.
Inmates in general population have full privileges to visitation, telephone and commissary, along with access to all prison programs and services, all things denied or severely limited to convicts on death row waiting to be killed by the state.
By Dave Lindorff
Say it loud and say it proud: We’re Number 47! We’re Number 47! Boo-yah!
If you want to know why the US -- beacon of freedom, land of the First Amendment -- is now ranked number 47th (out of 179) in terms of freedom of the press in the annual ranking put out by Reporters Without Borders, below South Africa, Botswana, South Korea and Comoros, and just above Argentina, Romania and Latvia, you could ask Mike Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York and himself owner of a huge news organization, or his Chief of Police Raymond Kelly.
RT will launch an exclusive interview series by Wikileaks founder Julian Assange called "The World Tomorrow" in March 2012. Host and show author, Julian Assange, will engage with ten key political players, thinkers and revolutionaries – figures who in the author’s opinion will be shaping the political agenda of tomorrow. Julian Assange is filming the series from the location of his house arrest where he has been confined, with no charge, for 413 days. Filming commences a week before his Supreme Court hearing. "Upheavals and revolutions in the Middle East have commenced an era of real political change that is still unfolding. Wikileaks, as the world's boldest publisher, has been at the frontline of this global movement for change, and our project is designed to catalyze the global discussion about the world of tomorrow, - said Assange. - Are we heading towards utopia, or dystopia and how we can set our paths? Through this series I will explore the possibilities for our future in conversations with those who are shaping it”. RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said "We're proud to host Julian Assange's new project. RT has rallied a global audience of open-minded people who don't take things around them for granted. Our viewers are open to the discussions that will be presented at Julians' show on our channel”.
It’s three years since President Obama promised to close Guantánamo.
Remind President Obama of his promise. Sign the petition on the White House’s “We the People” website urging him to honor his promise. 25,000 signatures are needed by February 6 to secure a response, so please sign up, and please spread the word.
What happened to President Obama’s bold promise?
Three years ago, on January 22, 2009, President Obama issued an executive order promising to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay within a year, but he did not move swiftly to implement his promise, and Congress then stepped in with onerous restrictions on the release of prisoners or their transfer to the US mainland for any reason, even to be tried or imprisoned.
Instead of being closed, Guantánamo still holds 171 men, even though 89 of these men were cleared for release more than two years ago by the interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force (PDF), which was established by the President after taking office.
By Dave Lindorff
The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.
On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.
The air was filled with dust and the building footprints were still smoking hot. The scene was framed by twisted beams and burnt and beaten buildings. Scattered atop the hills of metal and debris, rescue workers worked diligently to find survivors. Below us lay the ruined bodies of thousands of lost innocent victims, and we were helpless to do anything for them at that point….
NPR and PBS Anti-Iranian Propaganda
by Stephen Lendman
Both National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting serve corporate and imperial interests. They're called public to conceal their agenda.
Anti-Syrian Pack Journalism - by Stephen Lendman
When America wages war or plans it, major media scoundrels cheerlead in lockstep. Incendiary managed news follows. Truth and full disclosure lose out.
As a result, readers and viewers are uninformed. Imperial Washington gets free reign to keep ravaging the world one country at a time, threatening humanity in the process.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. An important rule to live by. So is this corollary: Friends don't let friends watch presidential primary debates.
I think the clip at this link is a safe dose bit.ly/xVAIF6 and I have survived it myself or I would not urge it on others.
I recommend it to you only because I believe it is important for us to stop and ask what it means for a group of people who tend to promote both Christianity and the combination of Christianity with politics to have just booed the golden rule.
Protesting Internet Censorship - by Stephen Lendman
On May 12, Senator Patrick Leahy (D. VT) introduced "S. 968: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP)." Referred to the Judiciary Committee, May 26 hearings were held. Debate's scheduled for next week.
It's become a TV ritual: Every year in mid-January, around the time of Martin Luther King's birthday, we get perfunctory network news reports about "the slain civil rights leader."
The remarkable thing about this annual review of King's life is that several years — his last years — are totally missing, as if flushed down a memory hole.
What TV viewers see is a closed loop of familiar file footage: King battling desegregation in Birmingham (1963); reciting his dream of racial harmony at the rally in Washington (1963); marching for voting rights in Selma, Alabama (1965); and finally, lying dead on the motel balcony in Memphis (1968).
By Charles M. Young
On Thursday, January 5, I was waiting for the elevator in the lobby of my building when I was joined by a woman who lives up the hall from me. She was carrying a grocery bag with The New York Times poking out the top. “Why did you buy it?” I asked. “They just raised the price to $2.50. Who can afford that for a daily newspaper?”
“I have a very large birdcage,” she said. “It’s the only newspaper that fits the bottom of my birdcage.”
My neighbor is a classical musician who makes a living at it. She pays attention to politics and votes. She buys things. She’s a little older than the actors playing obedient yuppies in the NYT commercials that beg for subscriptions, but is otherwise their ideal reader.
Who knew rats were new to DC? I could have sworn I'd seen them around for years. I could have sworn the piles of trash following inaugurations, fourths of july, and tastes of dc left swarms of rats behind. I could have sworn that every time I've been in Freedom Plaza since October 6th it's been cleaner than 15th Street. Do you have any serious reason to believe your new found awareness of rats, like some people's new found awareness of the homeless people who have been there for decades, doesn't come more from the observing than from what is being observed? Did you know that the occupation of Freedom Plaza is campaigning for the investment in public services that would begin at long last to address this longstanding problem? Did you know that detailed reports, proposals, analyses, and yes demands can be found at http://occupywashingtondc.org ? Were you aware of the rat explosion and disease explosion in cities our military has bombed - which I'm sure the Post will be getting around to covering very very soon? Can you prove the DC rat population isn't expanding city-wide because so many people have found it appropriate to discard their copies of the Washington Post, thus providing lots of nesting material?
To Charlottesville Daily Progress:
On New Year's Eve the President signed a bill giving himself and future presidents the power to imprison anyone, including US citizens, forever with no trial, whether through the military or otherwise. President Obama stretched these outrageous powers even further in an unconstitutional law-altering signing statement. Congressman Robert Hurt voted against the Defense Authorization Act because it tosses out our Constitutional rights.
While this issue had been a major controversy for months, and the Daily Progress has never yet mentioned it in a news story, you addressed it in an editorial on January 9th, but your editorial simply argued for the flexibility of not always using the military because the legitimate justice system can reduce terrorism.
Nowhere do you mention that the final version of the bill gave the president that flexibility and more, that he now claims the power to imprison anyone forever without any formal process whatsoever. Nowhere do you mention that a week after the President signed the bill, Afghan President Karzai demanded that all Afghan prisoners be turned over within a month. And nowhere do you even touch on the question of the right to habeas corpus, the right not to be punished for treason unless convicted in open court on the testimony of two witnesses, the right to be secure in your person, or the right to a speedy and public trial and a jury trial.
Are all civil rights of simply negligible importance in comparison with fear of terrorism? Among the many many things that kill more of us than terrorism are dogs, and they're our "best friend." Take a deep breath please.
Note to Self:
Knock it off. They can't hear you.
Public Editor: 'I think the readers are correct on this'
New York Times public editor Arthur Brisbane has responded to concerns raised in a FAIR action alert last week (1/6/12), agreeing that the paper wrongly suggested that the International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
In a post at his Times blog (1/10/12), Brisbane agrees that the paper was incorrect in referring to "a recent assessment by the International Atomic Energy Agency that Iran's nuclear program has a military objective." As FAIR pointed out, the IAEA report does not make such a firm conclusion, and many critics question the evidence that Agency has collected.
While not mentioning FAIR, Brisbane wrote: "Some readers, mindful of the faulty intelligence and reporting about Saddam Hussein's weapons program, are watching the Iran nuclear coverage very closely."
He is correct. FAIR thanks all the activists who wrote to the New York Times.
White House and State Department are in No Position to Issue Credible Denials Regarding Spying Charges
By Dave Lindorff
I wouldn’t want to be Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, the 28-year-old former US Marine just recently sentenced to death by a court in Iran after being convicted of being an American spy.
Hekmati, who was born in Arizona to Iranian exile parents, and who grew up in Michigan, is being defended by President Obama, whose White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, declared, “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false.” The White House, not content with that denial, went on to trash the Iranian government and legal system, with Vietor adding, “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”
by WALTER BRASCH
One of the fun things sports writers do is try to predict the winners and scores of upcoming games, from high school through the pros. For special “look-at-us-we’re important” bonus points, they create lists of “Top” teams and rank them, both pre-season and weekly.
Sports writers have some kind of genetic mutation that leads them to believe they know more about sports than the average schlump who spends almost $200 a year for a newspaper subscription and as much as $500 a year for all-access all-games everywhere cable coverage. However, the reality is that even the best prognosticators—sports writers love big words when they can pronounce them—have a record about as accurate as the horoscope on the comics page.
By Dave Lindorff
According to news reports, 15-year-old eighth-grader Jaime Gonzalez, who was shot and killed yesterday by police in his middle school in Brownsville, TX, was hit three times: twice in the chest and once “from the back of the head.”
Police say they were called by school authorities because Gonzalez was carrying a gun, which turned out to be a realistic-looking pellet gun, a weapon that uses compressed air to fire a metal pellet which, while perhaps a threat to the eye, does not pose a serious threat to life.
DHL Express Signs on as Sponsor of the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl
Plantation, Fla., January 5, 2012 –DHL Express, the world’s leading international express shipping provider, announces its national sponsorship of the 2012 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the nation’s premier high school football game that serves as the launching pad for America’s future college and NFL stars. The annual game, being played on Saturday, January 7 at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, features the nation’s top 90 high school football players.
By Peter Hart, FAIR
The new issue of Time magazine promises on its cover "Essential Info for the Year Ahead." One apparently essential report: U.S. drones are awesome.
The report--written by Mark Thompson, available to subscribers only explains that a "hot military trend" this way:
Today's generals and admirals want weapons that are smaller, remote-controlled and bristling with intelligence. In short, more drones that can tightly target terrorists, deliver larger payloads and are some of the best spies the U.S. has ever produced, even if they occasionally get captured in Iran or crash on landing at secret bases.
There's no time to dwell on that, because there are too many good things to say about our remote-control war. "Drones had a big year in 2011," Thompson writes, and 2012 will be even bigger. As Time readers learn, "Unlike humans, these weapons don't need sleep."
And best of all, apparently, the military aren't the only ones doing the killing:
America's arsenal has become so small and lethal, you don't need the U.S. Army--or any military service at all, in fact--to field and wield them. The CIA, which used to be limited to derringers and exploding cigars, is now not very secretly flying drones. With little public acknowledgment and minimal congressional oversight, these clandestine warriors have killed some 2,000 people identified as terrorists lurking in shadows around the globe since 9/11.
The British Bureau of Investigative Journalism's investigation of the CIA drone program in Pakistan (8/10/11) stressed less of the gee-whiz and more the real-life consequences of the attacks. Estimates of civilian deaths range from 390 to 780-- including almost 200 children. U.S. officials, for the record, were once making absurd claims that no innocents were killed.
As for the apparent enthusiasm for waging a war where "you don't need the U.S. Army" at all--that is precisely one of the criticisms of the drone program; some legal experts argue that non-military personnel are not legal combatants, and therefore killing every one of those 2,000 "people identified as terrorists" was a war crime. Others point out that employing drones outside an active combat zone could also violate international law. But none of that is "Essential Info" for 2012.
36 Journalists Have Been Arrested at Nonviolent Occupy Protests in the Land of the Free the Home of the Predator Drone
From Josh Stearns:
I have been tracking, confirming and verifying reports of journalist arrests at Occupy protests all over the country since September. Help me by sending tips and tweets to @jcstearns.
- So far 36 journalists have been arrested in 10 cities around the United States since Occupy Wall Street began. Scroll to the bottom for the most recent updates.
Who Got to the NY Times? Yesterday it Posted a Tool for Cutting Military Spending. Today it Posted This Op-Ed on the People We Kill in Our Wars
The Forgotten Wages of War
By JOHN TIRMAN
THE end of the Iraq war occasioned few reflections on the scale of destruction we have wrought there. As is our habit, the discussion focused on the costs to America in blood and treasure, the false premises of the war and the continuing challenges of instability in the region. What happened to Iraqis was largely ignored. And in Libya, the recent investigation of civilian casualties during NATO’s bombing campaign was the first such accounting of what many believed was a largely victimless war.
We rarely question that wars cause extensive damage, but our view of America’s wars has been blind to one specific aspect of destruction: the human toll of those who live in war zones.
We tune out the voices of the victims and belittle their complaints about the midnight raids, the house-to-house searches, the checkpoints, the drone attacks, the bombs that fall on weddings instead of Al Qaeda.
Gen. Tommy R. Franks famously said during the early days of the war in Afghanistan, “We don’t do body counts.” But someone should. What we learn from body counts tells us much about war and those who wage it.
More than 10 years after the war in Afghanistan began, we have only the sketchiest notion of how many people have died as a consequence of the conflict. The United Nations office in Kabul assembles some figures from morgues and other sources, but they are incomplete. The same has been true for Iraq, although a number of independent efforts have been made there to account for the dead.
By John Grant
Ever since George W. Bush lost the popular vote by 500,000 souls and was selected President by a right-leaning Supreme Court, the United States has seemed to me devoted to a twisted fate of slow-motion Armageddon.
What seems to guarantee this is one of our most characteristic American traits: We don’t learn from the past; instead, we choose to officially forget embarrassing history so we can move on from our debacles without losing an ounce of glory. We all know how it goes: Sure, mistakes were made, but we need to keep our eye on the ball and move forward. The costs are paid in slow motion and out of sight.