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Archive for the ‘media’ Category
Posted by Charles II on May 28, 2015
Posted by Charles II on March 20, 2015
(image from DemocracyNow)
Oh Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling, From glen to glen and down the mountain side. The summers gone and all the roses falling, its you, its you must go and I must bide. But come ye back, when summers in the meadow, or when the valleys hushed and white with snow, it’s I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow, oh Danny boy oh Danny boy I love you so.
But when ye come and all the flowers are dying. and i am dead as dead i well may be. ye’ll come and find the place where i am lying. and kneel and say an ave there for me. and i shall hear though soft you tread above me. for all my grave will warmer sweeter be. for you will bend and tell me that you love me. and i shall sleep in peace until you come to me.
The author, filmmaker and media reform activist Danny Schechter has died at the age of 72. Schechter rose to prominence as “The News Dissector” on Boston’s WBCN radio in the 1970s. He went on to work as a television producer at ABC’s 20/20, where he won two Emmy Awards, and at the newly launched CNN. But he left corporate media to become executive director of MediaChannel.org and co-founder and executive director of Global Vision. He authored 12 books, including “The More You Watch, the Less You Know.” He was also a leading activist against apartheid in South Africa and made six nonfiction films about Nelson Mandela. Schechter appeared on Democracy Now! multiple times. In this 2013 interview, after Mandela’s death, he reflected on his own activism as part of a project called “Sun City: Artists Against Apartheid.”
Danny Schechter: “This was not all about lobbying Congress. This was about informing America about what was happening. And in some cases, it was cultural figures, 58 of the world’s top artists who indicted the system of forced relocation in South Africa. That’s what Sun City was all about. It was a part of an effort to promote a cultural boycott alongside an economic boycott. And it was very successful and worldwide in its impact. And I think that was important. And then, you know, I helped start the TV series, South Africa Now, that ran for 156 weeks, every week, in the United States, reporting on South Africa through the eyes of South Africans. It was their story.”
Schechter died in New York City after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 72.
I corresponded a few times with Schechter. While I disagreed with him on several occasions, I found him to be a modest, kind, thoughtful, receptive guy–and a great journalist. Rest in peace, Danny.
Posted by Charles II on November 16, 2014
Like a lot of other people, I started life comfortably middle-class, maybe upper-middle class; now, like a lot of other people walking the streets of America today, I am poor. To put it directly, I have no money. Does this embarrass me? Of course, it embarrasses me—and a lot of other things as well. It’s humiliating to be poor, to be dependent on the kindness of family and friends and government subsidies. But it sure is an education.
My income consists of a Social Security check and a miserable pension from the Washington Post, where I worked intermittently for a total of about twenty-five years, interrupted by a stint at a publishing house in New York just before my profit-sharing would have taken effect. I returned to the Post, won a Pulitzer Prize, continued working for another eight years, with a leave of absence now and then. As the last leave rolled on, the Post suggested I come back to work or, alternatively, the company would allow me to take an early retirement. I was fifty-three at the time. I chose retirement because I was under the illusion—perhaps delusion is the more accurate word—that I could make a living as a writer and the Post offered to keep me on their medical insurance program, which at the time was very good and very cheap.
Sometimes this country disgusts me, for its wanton waste of talent, for its hateful moralizing about poverty, for its prosperity gospel.
Posted by Charles II on October 21, 2014
Kill the Messenger is worth watching. Aside from the story itself, which is moving, it points to a broader feature of modern American life: we can no longer handle the truth. We have lost that sense of honor that demands that when we have made a mistake, we should acknowledge it and correct it. We imagine that we can become the image of ourselves that we create, independent of reality. And so we crash into reality, and are injured by that collision much more deeply than we ever would be by embracing the truth.
Gary Webb, we miss you.
Posted by Charles II on June 3, 2014
In one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has turned down the appeal of a New York Times reporter who faces prison for refusing to reveal a confidential source. James Risen had asked the court to overturn a ruling forcing him to testify in the criminal trial of ex-CIA analyst Jeffrey Sterling. Prosecutors believe Sterling gave Risen information on the CIA’s role in disrupting Iran’s nuclear program [in the course of which, the CIA handed the blueprints for a functioning weapon to Iran]. Risen vowed to go to prison rather than testify and was hoping for Supreme Court intervention. But on Monday, the Supreme Court refused to weigh in, effectively siding with the government. The Obama administration must now decide if it will try to force Risen’s testimony and risk sending one of the nation’s most prominent national security journalists to jail.
It’s easy to despise the corporate media, especially the journalists that we see and read, for their cravenness before power and their complicity in the corruption of this nation. Watching Brian Williams question Edward Snowden without once mentioning that Daniel Ellsberg has said that Snowden did the right thing should have opened the eyes of every viewer to just how completely the corporate media serves the interests of the State.
But among the empty shirts, there are a few journalists who put themselves on the line to report the news. Among them is James Risen. That the Obama Administration is likely to prosecute him to coerce testimony about exposing wrongdoing at very high levels makes it clear that the Administration is a better friend to the Security State than it is to the American Constitution. And for the Supreme Court to decline to hear the case is not just a function of the right wingers, but a failure of the so-called “liberals” on the court. As was commented on in DemocracyNow, it’s a blessing that the Roberts Court did not hear the case. Every case they hear, they turn into a perversion and mockery of justice.
This is a most dangerous case.
Posted by Charles II on February 7, 2014
I linked this lengthy article by Mark Ames and Yasha Levine in a comment to PW. It has to do with the latest billionaire Oz who imagines that his benevolent neo-liberal ideas will solve the world’s problems, namely Pierre Omidyar. There’s a lot in it:
* How to turn microfinancing into payday lending, complete with suicides and ruined lives
* The latest corporate libertarian Great White Hope Hernando deSoto, aide to dictator Alberto Fujimori
* Hayek’s ILD as the first of the international right-political think tanks linked to Cato and Heritage
And Omidyar is financing Jeremy Scahill, Laura Poitras, and Glenn Greenwald to do FirstLook Media.
It’s an interesting article. I should read it.
Posted by Charles II on August 23, 2013
(crossposted with minor revisions at DK)
It’s an odd question, to be sure, but one in response to a very odd event. The Independent is a newspaper that I have traditionally regarded as off the reservation in the very best sense of the term. That is, I have always regarded them as a left-wing newspaper refusing to be marginalized and demanding that issues of importance to the left receive the same attention as those of interest to the rest of the corporate media.
But Glenn Greenwald has published a piece in The Guardian in which he says (to distill it down) that the Independent has published an article which could, perhaps, endanger lives based, according to The Independent, on “documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden” but which, according to Greenwald “clearly did not come from Snowden or any of the journalists with whom he has directly worked.”
For both of those statements to be true, the documents would have to have come from the government based on a list of the documents that Snowden obtained but has not published. They could, for example, have been based on documents supplied from the government based on the (apparently ineffectual) audit of Snowden’s actions or based on decrypts of the materials obtained from Miranda. Once in the public domain, the government could easily use them against Miranda to allege that the materials he has are being used to aid the enemies of Britain.
Greenwald quotes Snowden as saying that:
“It appears that the UK government is now seeking to create an appearance that the Guardian and Washington Post’s disclosures are harmful, and they are doing so by intentionally leaking harmful information to The Independent and attributing it to others.
The Independent’s Oliver Wright has said,
“For the record: The Independent was not leaked or ‘duped’ into publishing today’s front page story by the Government.”
He is receiving a torrent of well-deserved abuse for publishing dodgy material from dodgy sources for dodgy purposes.
The relevant phrases from the Independent are these. They either could serve to identify the site and therefore endanger the lives of personnel or provide information about sourcing for the article:
Britain runs a secret internet-monitoring station in the Middle East to intercept and process vast quantities of emails, telephone calls and web traffic on behalf of Western intelligence agencies, The Independent has learnt.
The Independent is not revealing the precise location of the station but information on its activities was contained in the leaked documents obtained from the NSA by Edward Snowden.
installation is regarded as particularly valuable by the British and Americans because it can access submarine cables passing through the region
Many of them came from an internal Wikipedia-style information site called GC-Wiki
The Independent understands that The Guardian agreed to the Government’s request not to publish any material contained in the Snowden documents that could damage national security.
A senior Whitehall source said: “We agreed with The Guardian that our discussions with them would remain confidential”.
It [the intercept station] is part of the surveillance and monitoring system, code-named “Tempora”, …
Across three sites, communications – including telephone calls – are tracked both by satellite dishes and by tapping into underwater fibre-optic cables.
The Middle East station was set up under a warrant signed by the then Foreign Secretary David Miliband
Posted by Charles II on August 19, 2013
A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.
The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the centre of government telling me: “You’ve had your fun. Now we want the stuff back.” There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. “You’ve had your debate. There’s no need to write any more.”
During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian’s reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government’s intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organisations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?
The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro. (emphasis added)
Posted by Charles II on July 26, 2013
This is from April, but I don’t think many people are aware of it except at the most superficial level. To be clear, Swedish Supreme Court Justice Stefan Lindskog is not saying Assange is innocent or shouldn’t be prosecuted, only that the handling of the case has been horrific. And he makes it clear that he’s working not from established facts but from what he found out on the Internet. Further, he’s not speaking for his colleagues, so it’s not an official position.
* Justice believes there are not any formal US charges against Assange.
* He presents the case from the point of view of the Swedish police report obtained from–if I understand him correctly– leaked Polish [intelligence?] documents (!9:00ff)
* The leaking of the police report was a crime.
* The leaking was not prosecuted because of the privilege granted to sources of the press.
* Assange was defamed in the press.
* Hypothetically, if the women have told the truth, the case is entirely based on the use of condoms. How legally binding was that conditionality?
* Would a lie about a condom be charged as a sexual crime? If one lies about having HIV, no. It’s charged as assault.
* Two courts have held that there’s probable cause for sexual molestation (I believe this is also called “minor rape“).
* Swedish law forbids extradition for political offenses or if there is a reasonable fear that someone could be punished for political offenses as a consequences.
* The UK court did not try the merits of the case against Assange.
* Extradition to US: extradition is only possible if Swedish courts would charge the offense.
* It is debatable whether Swedish law would regard Assange’s leaks as treason or espionage
* Source privilege is protective only for business secrets, not military secrets.
* Still, Sweden’s enemies may not be America’s.
* Justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done.
While Lindskog is not speaking officially, for him to speak suggests the case is disintegrating. This is corroborated by the fact that prosecutor Marianne Ny has been displaced by another “investigator.” Also Anna Ardin fired her lawyer.
I don’t see any other way to understand Lindskog’s speech but as a statement that the prosecution of Assange is essentially baseless.
For the record, here are the finding of the UK Supreme Court on the agreed-to findings.
Posted by Charles II on July 21, 2013
An open letter by a number of LatAm experts:
The supposed “irony” of whistle-blower Edward Snowden seeking asylum in countries such as Ecuador and Venezuela has become a media meme.
The media has never noted the “irony” of the many thousands of people who have taken refuge in the United States, which is currently torturing people in a secret prison at Guantanamo, and regularly kills civilians in drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and other countries. Nor has the press noted the “irony” of refugees who have fled here from terror that was actively funded and sponsored by the U.S. government, e.g. from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chile, and other countries.
But in fact the “irony” that U.S. journalists mention is fantastically exaggerated. It is based on the notion that the governments of Venezuela under Chávez (and now Maduro) and Ecuador under Correa have clamped down on freedom of the press. Most consumers of the U.S. media unfortunately don’t know better, since they have not been to these countries and have not been able to see that the majority of media are overwhelmingly anti-government…
Yes, the Venezuelan government’s communications authorities let the RCTV channel’s broadcast license expire in 2007. This was not a “shut down”… Even José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch – a fierce critic of Venezuela – has said that “lack of renewal of the contract [broadcast license], per se, is not a free speech issue.”…
A July 10th piece from the Washington Post’s editorial board – which has never hid its deep hatred of Venezuela, Ecuador and other left governments in Latin America – describes another supposed grave instance of the Venezuelan government clamping down on press freedoms. The editorial, which was given greater publicity through Boing Boing and others, describes the case of journalist Nelson Bocaranda, who is credited with breaking the news of Chávez’s cancer in June 2011. The Post champions Bocaranda as a “courage[ous]” “teller of truth” and dismisses the Venezuelan government’s “charges” against him as “patently absurd.” In fact, Bocaranda has not been charged with anything; the Venezuelan government wants to know whether Bocaranda helped incite violence following the April 14 presidential elections, after which extreme sectors of the opposition attacked Cuban-run health clinics and homes and residences of governing party leaders, and in which some nine people were killed – mostly chavistas.
In Ecuador, President Rafael Correa has been widely condemned in the U.S. media – in much reporting as well as commentary – for suing a prominent journalist, Emilio Palacio, for defamation. The defamatory content was, in fact, serious. It relates to a 2010 incident in which Correa was first assaulted and then later held captive by rebelling police in what many observers deemed an attempt at a coup d’etat. Military forces ultimately rescued Correa. But in a February 2011 column referring to the episode, Palacio alleged that Correa had committed “crimes against humanity,” and that he had ordered the military forces to fire on the hospital where he was being held at the time. So Correa sued Palacio for defamation and won.
Many commentators have cited Reporters Without Borders and other media watchdog groups’ criticisms of Ecuador’s proposed new “Organic Law of Communication.”
Organizations such as RSF [Reporters Without Borders] and Freedom House are supposed to be impartial arbiters of press freedom around the world and are rarely subject to scrutiny. Yet both have taken funding from the U.S. government and/or U.S.-government supported organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy (which was set up to conduct activities “much of [which]” the “CIA used to fund covertly,” as the Washington Post reported at the time, and which also provided funding and training to organizations involved in the afore-mentioned 2002 Venezuelan coup) and other “democracy promotion” groups. The NED has spent millions of dollars in Venezuela and Ecuador in recent years to support groups opposed to the governments there…
What an upside down world, when poor countries like Ecuador and Venezuela actually have more real press freedom than a rich country like the US. In Venezuela, the press may be afraid of the government, a little bit, at least. In the US, the press delivers the government’s point of view, or at least the viewpoint of cranky billionaires who are trying to take charge of the government.
And we call ourselves free.
By the way, the latest rankings by Reporters Without Borders have us at #32. That’s the Reporters Sans Frontiers that accepts payments from the US government.