Daily Archive: 12/06/2013

Dec 06 2013

The War on Journalism

“There is a War on Journalism”: Jeremy Scahill on NSA Leaks & New Investigative Reporting Venture



Full transcript can be read here

Six months ago today, Glenn Greenwald published his first article about Edward Snowden’s leaks from the National Security Agency in The Guardian newspaper. British police are now examining whether Guardian staff should be investigated for terrorism offenses over their handling of data leaked by Snowden. Jeremy Scahill talks about the “war on journalism” around the world and his work to launch a new media venture with Greenwald, filmmaker Laura Poitras and eBay founder Pierre Omidy

The Guardian and the guardians

UK should be wary of prosecuting newspaper over leaks

For the past six months, western governments have been rocked by the revelations made by Edward Snowden. A former contractor to the US National Security Agency, Mr Snowden leaked vast quantities of secret data on US and British surveillance programmes to the media – in particular, The Guardian newspaper.

The Snowden disclosures have stirred impassioned debates about the nature of state snooping in the 21st century, and the adequacy of political oversight over the intelligence services. However, reactions have differed. While the US government has focused its energies on seeking to extradite Mr Snowden to face justice, in Britain there has been more enthusiasm for turning on the messenger.

This week Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian’s editor, was subjected to hostile questioning in parliament. More seriously, several MPs have been agitating for him to be prosecuted under Britain’s terror laws. The police have confirmed they are looking into the matter. Central to the case constructed by these MPs is the fact that The Guardian passed some of Mr Snowden’s documents to the New York Times to avoid being gagged by the UK courts. Sending secret information out of Britain could be an offence under the 2000 Terrorism Act.

Publication of much of the Snowden material in The Guardian has to date met the public interest test. For instance, news that the NSA has sought to crack the basic encryption used by people operating on the internet is disturbing.

Dec 06 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: Obama Gets Real

Much of the media commentary on President Obama’s big inequality speech was cynical. You know the drill: it’s yet another “reboot” that will go nowhere; none of it will have any effect on policy, and so on. But before we talk about the speech’s possible political impact or lack thereof, shouldn’t we look at the substance? Was what the president said true? Was it new? If the answer to these questions is yes – and it is – then what he said deserves a serious hearing.

And once you realize that, you also realize that the speech may matter a lot more than the cynics imagine. [..]

What struck me about this speech, however, was what he had to say about the sources of rising inequality. Much of our political and pundit class remains devoted to the notion that rising inequality, to the extent that it’s an issue at all, is all about workers lacking the right skills and education. But the president now seems to accept progressive arguments that education is at best one of a number of concerns, that America’s growing class inequality largely reflects political choices, like the failure to raise the minimum wage along with inflation and productivity.

Dean Baker: Pension Theft: Class War Goes to the Next Stage

In the past two days we’ve seen a federal judge rule that Detroit can go bankrupt, putting its workers’ pensions in jeopardy, and we have seen Illinois’ legislature vote for substantial cuts in its retirees’ pensions. Undoubtedly these two actions are just the tip of the iceberg. We have opened up a new sport for America’s elite: pension theft.

The specifics of the situations are very different, but the outcome is the same. Public employees who spent decades working for the government are not going to get the pensions that were part of their pay package. In both cases we have governments claiming poverty, and therefore the workers are just out of luck. [..]

It may turn out to be the case that the rich and powerful can just rewrite the rules as they go along. But at least the people should know that theft is now in style when it’s their property at stake.

Robert Reich: One Answer to Low-Wage Work: Redistributing the Gains

The President’s speech yesterday on inequality avoided the “R” word. No politician wants to mention “redistribution” because it conjures up images of worthy “makers” forced to hand over hard-earned income to undeserving “takers.”

But as low-wage work proliferates in America, so-called takers are working as hard if not harder than anyone else, and often at more than one job.

Yet they’re still not making it because the twin forces of globalization and technological change have reduced their bargaining power and undermined their economic standing — while bestowing ever greater benefits on a comparative few with the right education and connections (and whose parents are often best able to secure these advantages for them).

Better education and training for those on the losing end is critically important, as will several of the other proposals the President listed. But they will only go so far.

David Cay Johnston: A Hard Lesson from Motown: They Will Steal Your Pension

Anyone in a public-sector job looking forward to retiring in comfort should look carefully at what is going on in Detroit and Springfield, Ill. Sherlock Holmes would call it the case of the missing pension money.

News leaking out this week from the Motor City tells how the enormous gap between the pensions workers earned and the money set aside to pay for them will be closed. By stealing from the workers.

Courts, legislatures, and corporations are all working in concert not to pay the full benefits owed. For decades, political and business leaders failed to set aside the right amount of money each payday to cover the pensions workers earned and, in some cases, covered up the mismanagement of pension fund investments.

This is nothing short of theft, as pensions are simply deferred wages, that is, money that workers could have taken as cash in their regular paychecks had they not opted to set it aside.

Norman Solomon: Under the Global Shadow of Big Brother, Journalism Must Light Up the Political Sky

Every new revelation about the global reach of the National Security Agency underscores that the extremism of the surveillance state has reached gargantuan proportions. The Washington Post just reported that the NSA “is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” Documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden have forced top officials in Washington to admit the indefensible while defending it. One of the main obstacles to further expansion of their Orwellian empire is real journalism.

Real journalism is “subversive” of deception that can’t stand the light of day. This is a huge problem for the Obama administration and the many surveillance-state flunkies of both parties in Congress. What they want is fake journalism, deferring to government storylines and respectful of authority even when it is illegitimate.

In motion now, on both sides of the Atlantic, are top-down efforts to quash real journalism when and how it matters most. In the two English-speaking countries that have done the most preaching to the world about “Western values” like freedom of the press, the governments led by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron are overseeing assaults on real journalism

John Nichols: Detroit Bankruptcy Bankrupts Democracy

Detroit elected a new mayor November 5 and he will take office in less than a month. But the future of this great American city and its citizens isn’t being defined by decisions made by voters on Election Day. It is being defined in federal bankruptcy court-and by an “emergency manager” who has no democratic legitimacy.

With a ruling Tuesday by US Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes, Detroit officially becomes the largest US city ever to enter Chapter 9 bankruptcy. Despite a determination that negotiations with creditors outside of bankruptcy court had not satisfied good-faith requirements, the judge cleared the way for the emergency manager and his law firm to advance a “plan of adjustment” that is likely to include deep cuts in pension guarantees for retired city employees and a “fire sale” of city assets that could result in public utilities and the Detroit Institute of Arts collection being bartered off to private bidders.

Dec 06 2013

On This Day In History December 6

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 6 is the 340th day of the year (341st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 25 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1884, the Washington Monument is completed.

In Washington, D.C., workers place a nine-inch aluminum pyramid atop a tower of white marble, completing the construction of an impressive monument to the city’s namesake and the nation’s first president, George Washington.  As early as 1783, the infant U.S. Congress decided that a statue of George Washington, the great Revolutionary War general, should be placed near the site of the new Congressional building, wherever it might be. After then-President Washington asked him to lay out a new federal capital on the Potomac River in 1791, architect Pierre L’Enfant left a place for the statue at the western end of the sweeping National Mall (near the monument’s present location).

The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington. The monument, made of marble, granite, and sandstone, is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk, standing 555 feet 5 1/8 inches (169.294 m). There are taller monumental columns, but they are neither all stone nor true obelisks. It is also the tallest structure in Washington D.C.. It was designed by Robert Mills, an architect of the 1840s. The actual construction of the monument began in 1848 but was not completed until 1884, almost 30 years after the architect’s death. This hiatus in construction happened because of co-option by the Know Nothing party, a lack of funds, and the intervention of the American Civil War. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet (46 m or 27%) up, shows where construction was halted for a number of years. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; the capstone was set on December 6, 1884, and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. It officially opened October 9, 1888. Upon completion, it became the world’s tallest structure, a title previously held by the Cologne Cathedral. The monument held this designation until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, France. The monument stands due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial.

Dec 06 2013

Newtown

Next Saturday marks the first anniversary of the school shooting that took 26 beautiful lives for no reason. The families and people of Newtown have requested that everyone, including the news media stay away and let them mark this sad day within the community. Rachel Maddow reports on Newtown’s request to be left alone on the Sandy Hook tragedy anniversary, and slams the playing of the 911 tapes from that day.

Since Newtown there have been 26 more school shootings. The gun control group Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense In America wants to know “is silence what America needs right now?”

The following commercial is an effort by the group to bring attention to the need to tighten gun control in a country obsessed with guns as we all mourn with Newtown

Blessed Be