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Dear Journalists of Canada: Start Reporting Climate Change as an Emergency

Dear Journalists of Canada: Start Reporting Climate Change as an Emergency

A five-point plan for mainstream media to cover fewer Royal babies and a lot more of our unfolding global catastrophe.

Gustafson-Fire.jpg
Few media stories mentioned the demonstrable connection between the climate crisis and increasing wildfire activity in BC last summer, even though it was one of the major reasons why that season was the worst on record. Photo via the BC Wildfire Service.

To:
Karyn Pugliese, president, Canadian Association of Journalists
Martin O’Hanlon, president, CWA Canada
Fiona Conway, president, Radio Television Digital News Association
John Hinds, president and chief executive officer, News Media Canada
Jerry Dias, national president, Unifor

Cc:
Canada’s editors, news directors, publishers and station managers

On May 6, the United Nations released a scientific report warning that around a million species are threatened with extinction due to human activity, including climate change. But, according to an analysis by Media Matters for America, on the day of that release, the nightly newscasts of ABC and NBC felt it was more important that their audiences learned about the birth of the newest Royal baby — someone who will likely never have any say over their day-to-day lives. And I’ve found most of Canada’s 15 most-read English language daily broadsheets felt the same way.

Between May 6 and 7, 13 of those newspapers failed to front stories about the United Nations’ devastating finding. Instead, the National Post ran a story about the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s son, with 10 others teasing that birth on their front pages. Eight of the teasers were placed above-the-fold, next to a photograph, or both — drawing reader attention to pictures of Harry, Meghan and their beaming well-wishers.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Professional Assange Smearers Finally Realize His Fate Is Tied To Theirs

Professional Assange Smearers Finally Realize His Fate Is Tied To Theirs

Rachel Maddow has aired a segment condemning the new indictment against Julian Assange for 17 alleged violations of the Espionage Act.

Yes, that Rachel Maddow.

MSNBC’s top host began the segment after it was introduced by Chris Hayes, agreeing with her colleague that it’s surprising that more news outlets aren’t giving this story more “wall to wall” coverage, given its immense significance. She recapped Assange’s various legal struggles up until this point, then accurately described Assange’s new Espionage Act charges for publishing secret documents.

“And these new charges are not about stealing classified information or outsmarting computer systems in order to illegally obtain classified information,” Maddow said. “It’s not about that. These new charges are trying to prosecute Assange for publishing that stolen, secret material which was obtained by somebody else. And that is a whole different kettle of fish then what he was initially charged with.”

“By charging Assange for publishing that stuff that was taken by Manning, by issuing these charges today, the Justice Department has just done something you might have otherwise thought was impossible,” Maddow added after explaining the unprecedented nature of this case. “The Justice Department today, the Trump administration today, just put every journalistic institution in this country on Julian Assange’s side of the ledger. On his side of the fight. Which, I know, is unimaginable. But that is because the government is now trying to assert this brand new right to criminally prosecute people for publishing secret stuff, and newspapers and magazines and investigative journalists and all sorts of different entities publish secret stuff all the time. That is the bread and butter of what we do.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Prosecution Of Julian Assange Is Infinitely Bigger Than Assange

The Prosecution Of Julian Assange Is Infinitely Bigger Than Assange

Julian Assange’s mother reported yesterday that the WikiLeaks founder has not been permitted any visitors during his detention in Belmarsh Prison, including from doctors and his lawyers. Doctors who visited Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy have attested that he urgently needs medical care. Belmarsh is a maximum security prison sometimes referred to as “the UK’s Guantanamo Bay“.

And yet we’re asked to believe that this has something to do with an alleged bail violation and a US extradition request for alleged computer crimes carrying a maximum sentence of five years. If you zoom out and listen to the less-informed chatter of the overt propagandists and the brainwashed rank-and-file western mass media consumers, you will also see that people believe this has something to do with Russia and rape allegations as well.

Actually, none of these things are true. Assange is being imprisoned under draconian conditions for journalism, and for journalism only. The Obama administration declined to prosecute him after WikiLeaks’ publication of the Manning leaks out of concern that doing so would endanger press freedoms, and the Obama administration didn’t have any more evidence at its disposal than the Trump administration has now. The “crime” Assange is accused of consists of nothing other than standard journalistic practices that investigative journalists engage in all the time, including source protection and encouraging the source to obtain more material. The only thing that has changed is an increased willingness in the White House to prosecute journalists for practicing journalism, and there are an abundance of reasons to believe that he will be hit with far more serious charges once extradited to US soil. They’re not going to all this trouble for a bail violation and a five-year maximum sentence.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s official: the collapse of the mainstream media’s credibility is now complete

It’s official: the collapse of the mainstream media’s credibility is now complete

Image: It’s official: the collapse of the mainstream media’s credibility is now complete

(Natural News) Attorney General William Barr held a press conference this morning to address the contents of the Mueller report, just as he promised to do. Not long after, Barr delivered the full Mueller report to the public with necessary redactions, also as promised. And yet the mainstream media, which demanded all of these things and has now received them, still isn’t happy.

In fact, most fake news media pundits are now foaming at the mouth, questioning Barr’s loyalties and accusing him of colluding with President Donald Trump to convey the “spun” message that he’s innocent – which it would seem as though no amount of evidence will ever convince those with Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS) is actually true.

In a nutshell, Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whom Leftist Democrats have been hailing for the past two years as their savior and hero who was going to take down Trump, didn’t end up procuring what these Trump haters were wishfully thinking he would. And in response, Trump haters everywhere are reeling with more anger than ever, demanding that Mueller be burned at the stake for failing to prove their deranged conspiracy theories.

CNN White House Correspondent Jim Acosta about had a coronary in response to Barr’s press conference, accusing Barr of “clearly laying out a sympathetic presentation” of what’s supposedly in the Mueller report. Twenty-twenty presidential hopeful and Leftist Democrat Cory Booker similarly accused Barr of “undermining the independence of this entire process” for his speaking publicly about the Mueller report prior to releasing it.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Delegitimising Journalism: The Effort to Relabel Julian Assange

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

“Your honour, I represent the United States government”.  The Westminster Magistrates Court had been left with little doubt by the opening words of the legal team marshalled against the face of WikiLeaks.  Julian Assange was being targeted by the imperium itself, an effort now only garnished by the issue of skipping bail in 2012. Would the case on his extradition to the US centre on the matter of free speech and the vital scrutinising role of the press?

Thomas Jefferson, who had his moments of venomous tetchiness against the press outlets of his day, was clear about the role of the fourth estate.  A government with newspapers rather than without, he argued to Edward Carrington in 1787, was fundamental so long as “every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”  To Thomas Cooper, he would write in November 1802 reflecting that the press was “the only tocsin of a nation.  [When it] is completely silenced… all means of a general effort [are] taken away.”  The press provided the greatest of counterweights against oppressive tendencies, being the “only security” available.

Not so, now.  The fourth estate has been subjected to a withering.  The State has become canny about the nature of the hack profession, providing incentives, attempting to obtain favourable coverage, and, above all, avoiding dramatic reforms where necessary.  An outfit like WikiLeaks is a rebuke to such efforts, to the hypocrisy of decent appearances, as it is to those in a profession long in tooth and, often, short in substance.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Martyrdom of Julian Assange

The Martyrdom of Julian Assange

Matt Dunham / AP

The arrest Thursday of Julian Assange eviscerates all pretense of the rule of law and the rights of a free press. The illegalities, embraced by the Ecuadorian, British and U.S. governments, in the seizure of Assange are ominous. They presage a world where the internal workings, abuses, corruption, lies and crimes, especially war crimes, carried out by corporate states and the global ruling elite will be masked from the public. They presage a world where those with the courage and integrity to expose the misuse of power will be hunted down, tortured, subjected to sham trials and given lifetime prison terms in solitary confinement. They presage an Orwellian dystopia where news is replaced with propaganda, trivia and entertainment. The arrest of Assange, I fear, marks the official beginning of the corporate totalitarianism that will define our lives.

Under what law did Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno capriciously terminate Julian Assange’s rights of asylum as a political refugee? Under what law did Moreno authorize British police to enter the Ecuadorian Embassy—diplomatically sanctioned sovereign territory—to arrest a naturalized citizen of Ecuador? Under what law did Prime Minister Theresa May order the British police to grab Assange, who has never committed a crime? Under what law did President Donald Trump demand the extradition of Assange, who is not a U.S. citizen and whose news organization is not based in the United States?

I am sure government attorneys are skillfully doing what has become de rigueur for the corporate state, using specious legal arguments to eviscerate enshrined rights by judicial fiat. This is how we have the right to privacy with no privacy. This is how we have “free” elections funded by corporate money, covered by a compliant corporate media and under iron corporate control.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Legal Narrative Funnel That’s Being Used To Extradite Assange

The Legal Narrative Funnel That’s Being Used To Extradite Assange

Isn’t it interesting how an Ecuadorian “asylum conditions” technicality, a UK bail technicality, and a US whistleblowing technicality all just so happened to converge in a way that just so happens to look exactly the same as imprisoning a journalist for telling the truth?

Following the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, top UK officials all began simultaneously piping the following exact phrase into public consciousness: “No one is above the law.”

“This goes to show that in the United Kingdom, no one is above the law,” Prime Minister Theresa May told parliament after Assange’s arrest.

“Julian Assange is no hero and no one is above the law,” tweeted Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. 

“Nearly 7 years after entering the Ecuadorean Embassy, I can confirm Julian Assange is now in police custody and rightly facing justice in the UK. I would like to thank Ecuador for its cooperation and @metpoliceuk for its professionalism. No one is above the law,” tweeted Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

Over and over again that phrase showed up to be unquestioningly re-bleated by the human livestock known as the British press in all their reporting on the Assange case: No one is above the law. No one is above the law. No one is above the law. Something tells me they really want people to know that, with regard to Julian Assange, no one is above the law.

But what is “the law” in this particular case? What they are constantly referring to as “the law” with regard to Assange is in fact nothing more than a combination of ridiculous bureaucratic technicalities which can be (and have been) interpreted very differently, but are now instead being interpreted in a way which just so happens to lead to a truth-telling journalist being locked in a cage, awaiting extradition to the same government which tortured Chelsea Manning.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“Assange Is Not A Journalist!” Yes He Is, Idiot.

“Assange Is Not A Journalist!” Yes He Is, Idiot.

As we discussed yesterday, whenever Assange is in the news and people are defending him you always see a bunch of hyper-emotional empire loyalists running around online trying to manage the narrative about him. One of the most common talking points which comes up is that Assange is “not a journalist”.

The reason this talking point comes up, of course, is because the WikiLeaks founder is besieged by powerful forces who are attempting to imprison him for publishing inconvenient facts about them, and his defenders often voice their concerns about what this means for the future of press freedoms. The completely baseless claim that Assange is “not a journalist” is used in an attempt to defuse the argument that his prosecution by the US government could lead to the same fate for any news media outlet which publishes leaks on the US government anywhere in the world. If he’s not a journalist, then his prosecution sets no precedent for real journalists.

This argument, if you can call it that, is fallacious for a number of reasons. For starters, as The Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald explained last year, there’s not any legal distinction in the US Constitution between news media outlets like the New York Times and an outlet which solely focuses on publishing leaks. If you set the precedent with any publisher, you’re necessarily setting it for all of them. Greenwald writes the following:

To begin with, the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment isn’t confined to “legitimate news outlets” – whatever that might mean. The First Amendment isn’t available only to a certain class of people licensed as “journalists.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Has Everything Turned Sour? Is it the Press? Or is the Press Part of the Cycle?

Why Has Everything Turned Sour? Is it the Press? Or is the Press Part of the Cycle? 

QUESTION: Hello Mr. Armstrong,
I´d like your opinion on this,
During 7 Decades in which our lives got better, longer, richer, safer, healthier, better educated, more peaceful and more stimulating. Even World poverty has decreased in a rate never seen before, still, news coverage got increasingly negative

What explanation could there be for this? Is it excessive competition for attention as media sources multiply or an excessive any deeper reasons? I compare it to Markets, seems to be similar like trading on news, which is impossible because when the news is the worst, usually its the low and when everything and everyone is optimistic its the high.
regards

ESVideo Player00:0000:54

ANSWER: Coming out of World War II, society really advanced in many ways from technology to medicine. This is the part of the societal cycle that is best to live in. Then what happens is corruption. The news becomes corrupt in sync with politics. I believe this becomes the case because news becomes institutionalized as it is owned by big firms who then direct the news to slant to their personal benefit. This is a funny skit on British News. It is so true here in the States as well. The Democrats love CNN and the Republicans love Fox. The news gravitates to a political slant and is no longer about news – it is always about selling more ads and pushing their propaganda like some religion handing out flowers in airports.

Yellow journalism was created by the battle between Pulitzer and Hearst. They created the Spanish American War to sell papers. Pulitzer’s name was worthless. To rehabilitate it he donated money to create the Pulitzer Prize for good journalism, which he never practiced.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Throwing Money at Media Won’t Fix Canada’s News Deficit

Throwing Money at Media Won’t Fix Canada’s News Deficit

We need to reform government so citizens have a reason to care, and slash secrecy that prevents journalists from doing their jobs.

ManReadingNewspaperBW.jpg
More Canadians knew the last name of Russia’s prime minister than knew the name of their own premier. Does that sound like an audience clamouring for more news? Photo by Nicolas Alejandro, Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0.

But as one of this country’s digital journalism pioneers (I founded a popular online investigative news site called Public Eye before such ventures became fashionable), I believe those woes may have as much to do with whether Canadians actually want news about their own country, and whether newsrooms have not just the resources, but also the willingness, to produce such stories. 

And unless we treat those afflictions, no amount of money will turn our news industry around.

In fairness to the politicians and bureaucrats who decided to dole out $595 million over five years to support Canadian journalism, many of their potential beneficiaries are also convinced that the bottom line in solving the country’s news media crisis can be found in their own bottom lines.

For example, two years ago, Public Policy Forum president Edward Greenspon, the former editor-in-chief of the Globe and Mail, released a government-contracted study called The Shattered Mirror.

It stated that “journalism’s economic model has collapsed, profoundly and structurally.” As a result, it recommended government measures to “strengthen the economic sustainability” of the news media and “promote civic-function journalism and digital innovations.” 

That’s fine, as far as it goes.

But there often seems to be an assumption that Canadians actually want public interest news about our country, in other words news about economic, environmental, health, political and social issues taking place within its borders.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD

It’s official: Russiagate is this generation’s WMD

The Iraq war faceplant damaged the reputation of the press. Russiagate just destroyed it

Note to readers: in light of news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller’s investigation is complete, I’m releasing this chapter of Hate Inc. early, with a few new details added up top.

Nobody wants to hear this, but news that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is headed home without issuing new charges is a death-blow for the reputation of the American news media. 

As has long been rumored, the former FBI chief’s independent probe will result in multiple indictments and convictions, but no “presidency-wrecking” conspiracy charges, or anything that would meet the layman’s definition of “collusion” with Russia. 

With the caveat that even this news might somehow turn out to be botched, the key detail in the many stories about the end of the Mueller investigation was best expressed by the New York Times

A senior Justice Department official said that Mr. Mueller would not recommend new indictments.

The Times tried to soften the emotional blow for the millions of Americans trained in these years to place hopes for the overturn of the Trump presidency in Mueller. Nobody even pretended it was supposed to be a fact-finding mission, instead of an act of faith. 

The Special Prosecutor literally became a religious figure during the last few years, with votive candles sold in his image and Saturday Night Live cast members singing “All I Want for Christmas is You” to him featuring the rhymey line: “Mueller please come through, because the only option is a coup.” 

The Times story today tried to preserve Santa Mueller’s reputation, noting Trump’s Attorney General William Barr’s reaction was an “endorsement” of the fineness of Mueller’s work:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

All Along the Watchtower

All Along the Watchtower

‘There must be some way out of here’
Said the joker to the thief
‘There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief
Businessmen, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth’

‘No reason to get excited’, the thief he kindly spoke
‘ There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late’

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl 
All Along the Watchtower, by Bob Dylan (1967)

Quis custodiet Ipsos custodes?

But who will watch the watchmen?
Satires, by Juvenal (2nd Century)

We haven’t published an update on our Fiat News Index for a little while, but it is for a good reason. We are working on an improved version that does more to handle gradations, nuance and context in affective language. If the concept of fiat news is new to you, Ben’s original piece here offers the best explanation. In short, it is news which broadly cheapens the credibility of media by presenting opinion as fact. It debases information in the same way that a capricious sovereign might debase a currency. It tells you how to think.

But there is a certain type of fiat news which is the most pernicious, most in need of calling out where it rears its head. It seeks, like all fiat news, to present subjective judgments and opinions as fact.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

DOJ, Rosenstein Working To Better Spy On Journalists, Target Leakers

Over the past few months, the Department of Justice has been quietly engaged an effort to revise its guidelines governing the rules for seizing records from journalists – especially when it comes to leak cases, reports The Hill‘s John Solomon.

The effort has the potential to touch off a First Amendment debate with a press corps that already has high degrees of distrust of and disfunction with the Trump administration. –The Hill

Current guidelines were established during the Clinton Administration – “long before WikiLeaks was a twinkle in Julian Assange’s eye,” and were designed to balance a journalist’s First Amendment rights and the investigative interests of law enforcement. They require prosecutors in most cases to exhaust all obvious investigative methods for identifying leaks before they go after a journalist’s records – and free-speech rights.

Multiple sources familiar with the ongoing DOJ review tell me that it has two main goals. The first is to lower the threshold that prosecutors must meet before requesting subpoenas for journalists’ records; the second is to eliminate the need to alert a media organization that Justice intends to issue a subpoena. –The Hill

Supervised by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s office following the departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the revisions are not yet finalized according to Solomon’s sources – who note that Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker is aware of the effort but has not been given a final recommendation.

“Sources close to Whitaker say he will await final judgment but, in recent days, has developed reservations about proceeding with the plan,” writes Solomon.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Banishing Truth

The investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, in his memoir “Reporter,” describes a moment when as a young reporter he overheard a Chicago cop admit to murdering an African-American man. The murdered man had been falsely described by police as a robbery suspect who had been shot while trying to avoid arrest. Hersh frantically called his editor to ask what to do.

“The editor urged me to do nothing,” he writes. “It would be my word versus that of all the cops involved, and all would accuse me of lying. The message was clear: I did not have a story. But of course I did.” He describes himself as “full of despair at my weakness and the weakness of a profession that dealt so easily with compromise and self-censorship.”

Hersh, the greatest investigative reporter of his generation, uncovered the U.S. military’s chemical weapons program, which used thousands of soldiers and volunteers, including pacifists from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, as unwitting human guinea pigs to measure the impact of biological agents including tularemia, yellow fever, Rift Valley fever and the plague. He broke the story of the My Lai massacre. He exposed Henry Kissinger’s wiretapping of his closest aides at the National Security Council (NSC) and journalists, the CIA’s funding of violent extremist groups to overthrow the Chilean President Salvador Allende, the CIA’s spying on domestic dissidents within the United States, the sadistic torture practices at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq by American soldiers and contractors and the lies told by the Obama administration about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. Yet he begins his memoir by the candid admission, familiar to any reporter, that there are crimes and events committed by the powerful you never write about, at least if you want to keep your job.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Curious Case of The Economist: How It Manipulates Its Readers with Slanted Comment on Russia

The Curious Case of The Economist: How It Manipulates Its Readers with Slanted Comment on Russia

The Curious Case of The Economist: How It Manipulates Its Readers with Slanted Comment on Russia

The Economist magazine is an admirable publication to which I have subscribed for over fifty years, with gaps now and then. While serving in Vietnam in 1970 its weekly arrival was a major event, as we were bereft of sensible reportage about that disastrous war, and I have always considered it to be balanced, extremely well-informed, and accurate. In its own modest words “What ties us together is the objectivity of our opinion, the originality of our insight and our advocacy of economic and political freedom around the world.”

Quite so. And so say all of us. Let’s hear it for a fearless journal that tells it like it is.

Until it doesn’t.

In the issue dated December 15, 2018 there is a strange anomaly in its description of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a shattered African state which the magazine’s writer(s) criticise objectively and with originality. And it’s the originality tangent that is intriguing.

The hard copy which I received in France has a half-page leader about Congo, headlined “The Kremlin-style charade in Kinshasa — Can anyone stop Joseph Kabila from doing a Putin?” which was an arresting summons that indicated objective cover concerning what one might expect to be a series of parallels and comparisons involving the leaders of Congo and Russia. On reading it, however, I wondered if perhaps the writer(s) had trended to originality that transcended objectivity, so went to the website where the headline was slightly different, employing the tried and faithful “-ology” tack-on and omitting Kabila’s name. It read “Kremlinology in Kinshasa: Can anyone stop Congo’s president from doing a Putin?”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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