Thursday, June 19, 2014

It's HOT! HOT! HOT! (but SHH! it's not Global Warming!!)

ABC World News on Wednesday June 18, 2014 reported on the "Heat Emergency" as well as severe storms and drought, but didn't mention Global Warming.

Video, Heat Wave Emergency

Video, Severe Weather

How many times will media show "people who work outside during heat waves" ??

UPS driver says "It's Hot, I'm keeping hydrated."

Construction crews say "It's hot, I'm keeping hydrated."

etc, etc,

Dear ABC News, maybe this from AP will help you!

Global warming is rapidly turning America the beautiful into America the stormy, sneezy and dangerous, according to a new federal scientific report. And those shining seas? Rising and costly, the report says.
Climate change's assorted harms "are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond," the National Climate Assessment concluded Tuesday. The report emphasizes that warming and all-too-wild weather are changing daily lives...
the normal response from the normal groups
Some fossil energy groups, conservative think tanks and Republican senators immediately assailed the report as "alarmist."
climate change is happening now
"Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present," the report says. "Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington state and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience."
National Climate Assessment Home Page

Every region is affected by climate change

So yes, heat waves are increasing, and starting sooner, and storms are increasing in severity and frequency.  But this is not only just a weird story, nor just a weather story.  The story is global warming and the reports should reflect that.

Story on Iraq, then "pain at gas pump"
Video, ISIS approaching oil refinery
There was a report that ISIS was approaching an oil refinery--and yes while that may be a reason for some of the increase, you need to remind viewers, who are only scared by your story, that gas prices rise and fall all year, and typically rise and fall many times each year for various reasons, including market speculation and production increases or decreases.

Charts from Gas Buddy

Here is the 11 year Chart--before Obama, before Bush, before the war in Iraq or Recession

Here is the 2 year price chart as well, notice previous rises in prices in June 2012, February 2013 and February 2014

FOX News upset over "False Talking Points" on Benghazi while.....

Tuesday June 17, 2014

The breaking news is that Obama is sending 275 troops to protect the Embassy in Baghdad, and the US captured Ahmed Abu Khatallaone of the suspects in the attack on the US diplomatic mission (it was NOT an embassy) in Benghazi, Libya that killed 4 Americans.
  • US Ambassador Christopher Stevens
  • Tyrone Woods
  • Glen Doherty
  • Sean Smith

The media MUST stop calling this "the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 other Americans.

Jamie McIntyre of NPR DID name all 4 victims, and I appreciate that.

Over on FOX News, the theme of the day is that the "government's decision" in announcing the capture of Ahmed Abu Khatalla today was "a little too convenient" since Hillary Clinton would be interviewed later on today on FOX News.

Now go read the title of this post again--are you LOLing yet??

The "reporters" were saying that the US government knew since day one who the suspects were, that the suspects themselves were not scared and did not go into hiding.  So why did it take so long to finally capture Ahmed Abu Khatalla? The theory on FOX is that since he had given interviews to journalists before, out in the open, announcing the capture today was "to help Hillary Clinton become President."

Meanwhile FOX News screams about Susan Rice's "fake talking points" on Benghazi.

This from the Senate Intelligence Committee's report on  Benghazi, regarding the talking points

Regarding the protests in reaction to the anti Muslim video, it is important to remember (as no one reports) that there were in fact protests WORLDWIDE in reaction to the video--not only in Muslim and Arab countries, but in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Nigeria, India, Kenya, Australia, Belgium.

See the full list here.

Remember this larger context when you hear this next time.

What Won't be Covered while Media focuses on Iraq

Iraq is a crucial story, but most of the media will get it wrong if they don't see this as the outcome of the US invasion in 2003, and the support of the Gulf Arab states, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others against Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war.  ISIS, the Sunni jihadi group currently making their way towards Baghdad, was largely funded by American allies against Bashar Assad.

So my question here is What will the media ignore now as they cover Iraq?

Just to clarify, many of these topics---Media Freedom, several countries in Europe, and African and South American news stories get little or no coverage in American news media as it is, regardless of "breaking news" stories that get wall to wall coverage, like Iraq or Syria, or the missing Malaysian airline MH370.

Below is a brief selection of the hundreds of important stories happening around the world all the time that US media chooses to ignore.

40% of Oil and Gas wells are not being inspected for safety by Federal Government article
NEW CASTLE, Colo. (AP) -- Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom, according to an Associated Press review that shows wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.

Israel Blames Hamas in Kidnapping of 3 Israeli Teens article
JERUSALEM (AP) -- Israeli troops on Sunday arrested some 80 Palestinians, including dozens of members of Hamas, in an overnight raid in the West Bank as the prime minister accused the Islamic militant group of kidnapping three teenagers.

So interestingly this will probably be covered---but what won't be covered is the Israeli bombing of Gaza.

Palestinian boy, 7, dies of injuries from Israeli air strike: medics say article
GAZA (Reuters) - A seven-year-old boy has died of wounds suffered in an Israeli air strike that killed his uncle, a Palestinian militant, as they were riding on a motorcycle in the Gaza Strip, relatives and hospital officials said on Sunday.

Right-Winger Reuven Rivlin elected as Israel's President, replacing Shimon Peres in ceremonial post article
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Reuven Rivlin, a right-wing legislator opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, was elected Israel's president on Tuesday to replace the dovish Shimon Peres in the largely ceremonial post. Rivlin, 74, is a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party. He has a reputation for political independence and has had a frosty personal relationship with the Israeli premier.

Afghan Election Run-off article
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Afghans braved threats of violence and searing heat Saturday to vote in a presidential runoff that likely will mark the country's first peaceful transfer of authority, an important step toward democracy as foreign combat troops leave.

Africa never gets much attention from US media, and South America gets even less coverage.

15 prisoners escape in Mali  article
BAMAKO (Reuters) - At least two people were killed and 15 prisoners escaped after a suspected Islamist militant detainee shot his way out of the main jail in Mali's capital Bamako on Monday, a government official said.

It is sad that media freedom stories do not get covered by American news outlets.

Al Jazeera Journalist Abdullah Al-Shay freed in Egypt article
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's public prosecutor ordered the release on Monday on medical grounds of Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah Al-Shamy, who had been on hunger strike for more than 130 days in protest over his detention, a statement from the prosecutor's office said.

The only news I ever see covered about Italy is Amanda Knox or the Pope

Italy's 5-Star Movement Willing to drop opposition to working with PM Renzi article
ROME (Reuters) - Italy's anti-establishment party, 5-Star Movement, said it was willing to drop its opposition to working with Prime Minister Matteo Renzi over electoral reforms if its own proposals are considered.

The only European politics we seem to cover besides England is Extramarital affairs (see France's Holland and Italy's Berlosconi)

Finland's Conservative PM candidate pledges to enter NATO if elected article
LAHTI Finland (Reuters) - Finland's EU minister Alexander Stubb, who wants to cut taxes and take his neutral country into NATO, won the leadership of his ruling conservative party on Saturday, putting him on track to become prime minister later this month.

It is important to remember that this represents only a small selection of some important stories happening around the world all the time.  American news media does not inform the public of what is important, choosing instead to focus on what drives ratings.

American news media should focus on in depth reporting on the US government's policies, not the daily political ups and downs.  Watch how much coverage the 2016 Presidential elections are getting, comapred with US policies affecting us daily right now.

American news media should be paying much more attention to South America and its governemnts, Africa and its governments, Asia and its governments.  If daily news coverage is too much to ask during the 24 hour news cycle (let me know if you are laughing at that!!) then maybe a weekly recap could be done.

I will say that Fareed Zakaria on CNN does cover some issues that are ignored the rest of the week.

Americans are largely uninformed about what is going on in the rest of the world, and they are shocked when they hear that the rest of the world doesn't like America---they think it is Americans that are hated.  It is not Americans or American ideals that are hated.  It is the effects that US foreign policies have on other countries, as we fight claim to fight for "freedom and democracy" while focusing only on US national interests, disregarding how it affects 85% of the rest of the world.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Senator McCain says "Russia is a Gas Station Masquerading as a Country"

December 2, 2014 Update
Statement by Senator McCain on cancellation of the South Stream gas pipeline project
With the support of the United States, the European Union should move quickly to mount a serious effort to secure non-Russian supplies of gas to Europe and prevent Putin from using energy as political leverage once and for all. To this end, the United States has a critical role to play in helping to liberate our allies from Russia’s stranglehold on the European natural-gas market. Cheap and abundant American resources have helped lower prices globally, but while Putin sells oil and gas freely around the world, we impose major restrictions on selling our energy to all but a few. That is why I have sponsored the North Atlantic Energy Security Act, legislation that will deploy our own natural resources to weaken the Putin regime and strengthen our allies in Europe. America’s energy sector has the potential to serve as a hugely important asset that could be used to bolster the economy, serve U.S. foreign policy objectives, and strengthen our national security and the security our allies around the world.
June 16, 2014 UPDATE--Russia's Gazprom says Ukraine fails to pay debt by deadline Reuters

From Democracy Now! Russia Cuts Off Gas Supply to Ukraine; Separatists Down Ukrainian Jet
Ukraine says Russia has cut off its gas supply amid a dispute over payment. Russia’s state-owned oil firm Gazprom had demanded upfront payments from Ukraine after it failed to repay debts. Gazprom said it would continue supplying gas to other countries in Europe. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine rose over the weekend as pro-Russian separatists shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, killing 49 people on board. On Friday, the Obama administration accused Russia of sending tanks and other heavy weapons to the separatists, a move it called "unacceptable."

 From The Daily Mail  'A gas station masquerading as a country!': Senator McCain demands sanctions of Russia as he calls out Obama's weak response to Crimea crisis
Republican Senator John McCain labeled Russia as nothing but a 'gas station masquerading as a country' in a television appearance Sunday where he called out president Obama's 'disturbing lack of realism' in dealing with the crisis in Crimea.
Just back from a visit to Ukraine, McCain urged the Obama administration to do more. He called for military assistance to Ukraine, resumption of development of a U.S. missile defense system for Eastern Europe and steps toward NATO membership for Georgia and Moldova.

From Mediaite
“There’s a myriad of steps that we can take, and it will be interesting to see to what degree our European friends will join us who are dependent on Russian energy supplies,” McCain said.

When McCain first said this, and others repeated it, challenging Russia's strategic role in the world, many in the media portrayed this as a zing, a critique of Russian petrochemical diplomacy.

However I am starting to see this instead as JEALOUSY of Russia's natural gas exports, as opposed to solely a strategic criticism of their power.

From Politico (emphasis is mine)
Sen. John McCain lit into Russia and President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, describing Russia as “a gas station masquerading as a country” on the Senate floor.
While most of their colleagues were at a party lunch, McCain and Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) took a broadside to Putin and Russia, portraying the country’s government as little other than a petrochemical exporter.
But in addition to their zingers, the hawkish GOP stalwarts also raised grave concerns that Putin will be emboldened by the easy manner in which the Crimean Peninsula was seized by Russia. They worry that Moldova, or Eastern Ukraine could be next.
Hitler reference thanks to Senator Lindsey Graham (emphasis mine)
The value system of Mr. Putin is that of a KGB colonel,” Graham said. “I understand where he is coming from because of his value system. I just don’t agree with it. But what we can’t do is let him affect those who are living around him who want to go a different path, because the day you begin to do that, it never works out well. In World War II, every time somebody gave Hitler a little of this and a little of that, eventually it never works out well.
Russia responded to the economic sanctions and escalating rhetoric by banning US officials from Russia

From Bloomberg News
Russia banned a U.S. senator pushing shale-gas exports from entering the country as part of a reaction to Treasury sanctions over the annexation of Crimea.
Senator Mary Landrieu was named on a list of U.S. officials on the Kremlin’s website today that also included Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes and Senator John McCain.
Sen Landrieu joins call for US gas exports
Landrieu is scheduled to lead hearings in Washington next week on expanding liquefied natural gas exports from shale formations, a move that would bring U.S. producers into competition with Russian monopoly exporter OAO Gazprom (GAZP) to supply Europe. 
Landrieu’s home state of Louisiana is the location of the only gas-export terminal to begin construction so far.
Treasury today announced additional sanctions to punish President Vladimir Putin and his allies after Russia sent troops into Ukraine, a key gas-transit route to Europe, and annexed the Crimean peninsula. Targets named on Treasury’s list include Gennady Timchenko, founder of Swiss oil trader Gunvor Group Ltd.
Gas exports to the EU, which gets about 30 percent of its supplies from Russia, have been halted twice since 2006 due to disputes with Ukraine.
Obama pledges support as well (let's see what he actually DOES though)
U.S. President Barack Obama pledged to step up cooperation with Europe on energy in a White House briefing on the Ukraine crisis today.
Other Republicans in Congress and in the media have also suggested that America supply Europe with natural gas, so that Europe can cut ties with Russia and still have a supply of natural gas, from America.

Chris Hayes discussed why the prospects of America supplying gas to Europe in place of Russia are unfeasible, at least in the near future---building infrastructure to export gas to Europe would take 10 years.

Another aspect of this policy is the Keystone XL pipeline.

For instance why is "Fargo" McCain's "favorite movie?" Keystone XL of course! (Trust me I wish I was kidding)

From Roll Call March 18, 2014
The Republican told a town hall meeting in his home state of Arizona on Tuesday that the 1996 Coen Brothers classic “Fargo,” which won multiple Academy Awards, is his favorite. McCain’s quip came in response to a question about the slow-moving approval process for the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
“It’s still stalled in the Obama administration,” McCain said of the pipeline, before praising the economic boom in North Dakota as a result of energy production.
“Things that are happening in places like like North Dakota — do you know the unemployment rate in North Dakota today is less than 2 percent? They can’t get anybody to come up there and work, and I won’t go anywhere further with that,” McCain said. ”I happen to love North Dakota. My favorite movie is ‘Fargo’ … which was shot in Minnesota I understand, but anyway.”
and here comes the Russia/Gas Export section (emphasis is mine)
...we are becoming a net energy exporter,” McCain said while also pushing for natural gas exports. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is leading a push for a natural gas export amendment to a Ukraine aid package.
“If we did the right thing with building terminals, and there is one now in Texas, to export liquid natural gas, we could be sending it to the Europeans to reduce their dependency,” McCain said. “A lot cheaper than what they’re paying the Russians.”

Not too surprisingly, many Republicans are being paid to support these issues by the Gas and Oil industry.  McCain is in the middle, here from January 2012.

From ThinkProgress January 2012
John McCain (R-AZ) $10,000
MOST Richard Burr (R-NC) $43,500
Dean Heller (R-NV) $1,000
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) $1,000
Jim Inhofe (R-OK) $1,000
Jeff Sessions (R-AL) $1,000

Here is more of the article
On Monday, 43 Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced legislation to circumvent the Obama administration and approve the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. A ThinkProgress Green analysis reveals at least 35 of the 44 senators backing the proposal have received special interest political action committee contributions from the biggest backers of the pipeline since the start of the 2010 cycle.

the article continues
The most active companies and trade associations lobbying for the pipeline over the last three months were:

  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • ConocoPhillips
  • the Business Roundtable
  • Shell Oil
  • ExxonMobil
  • the American Petroleum Institute
  • the National Association of Manufacturers
  • the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association
  • Deere & Company
  • TransCanada Pipelines
  • Devon Energy

Of those, the PACs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, the National Petrochemical & Refiners Association, Deere & Company, and Devon Energy all made contributions to federal candidates over the past three years.

So in conclusion, McCain says

  • Russia is a gas station masquerading as a country
  • We should build the Keystone XL Pipeline
  • McCain doesn't say that he took $10,000 from gas companies in 2012
  • We should be exporting gas to Europe so they are less dependent on Russian gas exports

Say hello to McCain's dream of America, a "gas station masquerading as a country."

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Children at the Southern Border

The debate around immigration reform in America for years now has largely been focused on finding a solution for those living illegally here in America, their children, either brought here as kids, or those born here to illegal immigrants, and how to address future immigrants, specifically from Mexico and Latin America, as European immigrants don't seem to count.  Asian and African immigrants are another story as well.

This week however, a new crisis emerged in the media, the thousands of children crossing the border alone, fleeing from Central America, especially Honduras.  Media attention to South America is fleeting at best, mostly covering Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez (now it's President Maduro), but news is not really focusing on any other countries, except Brazil now that the World Cup is there.  Even in this story the reporting goes like this "thousands of kids are arriving at the US border, fleeing violence in Honduras." There is no more mention of the situation in Honduras or other countries, just back to our "problem" of too many kids at the border.

On a side note I will mention that the media appears to be getting the Eric Cantor election defeat wrong, as it is not a clear test on his views on immigration

Here is some reporting on Honduras and the larger issues.

On Point with Tom Ashbrook and Democracy Now! did great shows on the topic, exploring the issue here at the border as well as the violence in Honduras and the situation there.

Democracy Now! reports
A coalition of immigration and civil rights groups has filed a complaint alleging widespread and systemic abuse of migrant children by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Organizations including the National Immigrant Justice Center and the ACLU say they’re acting on behalf of over 100 unaccompanied children mistreated by border agents after crossing into the United States.
Democracy Now! also had Aviva Chomsky, daughter of Noam Chomsky, explain how immigration from Mexico and South America became illegal as policies changed. immigration started to be restricted for groups, including Asians and eventually even for Europeans who were considered to be inferior Europeans, like southern and eastern Europeans in the 1920s, Mexican border crossing was never restricted. Mexican border crossing was never restricted because Mexican labor was so utterly necessary in the southwest of the United States and because Mexicans were not considered immigrants, so therefore, their immigration did not have to be restricted. They were considered to be workers, legally discriminated against for what were considered racial grounds, that is they were so-called "Mexican." That was perfectly legal. To deprive them of citizenship was perfectly legal. And, the system worked from the perspective of maintaining United States is a white country because unlike the Asians, Mexican migration was generally circular migration. That is, Mexicans came, worked for a season or year or a couple of years, and returned to Mexico. So the history of border migrations for 150 years was one of circular migrations that were basically either completely unregulated or, for example during 1942 and 1964, extended through 1967, government-sponsored through the Bracero program, but migrations that denied citizenship and denied rights to the Mexicans who were in the country.

Senator Ted Cruz gave a good speech about the humanitarian crisis, but then simply blamed Obama and left it at that.

Contra Costa Times
The issue gained traction this week when United Nations officials described a surge of children fleeing gang recruitment in Central America to seek asylum in the United States a "humanitarian crisis." 
Honduras has turned violent partially because 90 percent of the cocaine and marijuana headed north from Colombia flows through its borders.
For those who remain behind, life can seem hopeless. According to the U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime, Honduras suffered an average of 90.4 homicides per 100,000 people in 2012. Or put it this way: On average, 20 people a day are murdered in the country sandwiched between El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.
By comparison, the United States had 4.7 murders per 100,000 in 2012 -- higher than almost every other developed country.
The figures are more distressing in Honduras' second-largest city, San Pedro Sula. It has a murder rate of 169 per 100,000 people. "In San Pedro Sula, people are mowed down on soccer fields, in shoe factories and at the airport," the Los Angeles Times wrote in December.


BOLD are my comments as I edit the article
The unprecedented rise in Honduran children fleeing to the U.S. is due to misinformation about American immigration laws and drug violence, the president of Honduras told Fusion on Friday.
“They might think they can gain legal status through this,” said President Juan Orlando Hernandez. “But on the other hand, this is a kind of displacement, because of the cartel wars and the Maras [gangs] in Central America.”
President Obama has called the influx of children an “urgent humanitarian situation"
but adds that
Still, the administration has stressed that children who enter the country illegally will be subject to immigration law and, potentially, deportation. (there's a reason immigrant's rights groups call Obama the "Deporter in Chief" as he recently passed 2 million deportations, and to compare, the US prison system holds 2.3 million)
Politics in DC as usual
Lawmakers in Washington have argued in recent weeks over what’s causing the surge in child migration. Republicans say the deferred action program, which allows young undocumented immigrants to live and work in the U.S., is tempting more people to cross illegally. Democrats say it’s crushing poverty and violence in Latin America.
Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez, for his part, recognized both factors. He pleaded for U.S. authorities to recognize the plight of migrants.
“I’ve asked the United States government to treat this matter with the utmost care from the humanitarian perspective,” he said. “They are kids in search of their parents and they have the complete right to be with their parents.”

Let's look at some of the history.....

The 2009 US Backed Coup

I first posted this on June 15 when the story was in the news.  On July 17 Democracy Now also looked back at the history leading up to the current crisis, and spoke about the 2009 coup as a major source of the current violence.

The Diane Rehm show on the other hand did not mention the coup as a central factor in the current crisis.

Despite discussing the "as well as dealing with the root causes of these problems in the countries themselves." There was no mention of the coup in 2009. Diane Rehm Show July 28 2014

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Frank, I wanted to go to this issue of U.S. responsibility and turn to former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted five years ago. We got a chance to sit down with him in 2011 at his home in Tegucigalpa. I had just flown in with him. This was after the coup when a new president was chosen. And his family flew back from Nicaragua to Honduras. It was the first time that he was at his home for several years.
MANUEL ZELAYA: [translated] The U.S. State Department has always denied, and they continue to deny, any ties with the coup d’état. Nevertheless, all of the proof incriminates the U.S. government. And all of the actions that were taken by the de facto regime, or the golpista regime, which are those who carried out the coup, and it is to make favor of the industrial policies and the military policies and the financial policies of the United States in Honduras.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya. Professor Dana Frank, he strongly felt that the U.S. was involved with the coup. What evidence is there for that?

DANA FRANK: Well, the biggest evidence we have is that his plane stopped at the air force base at Palmerola, known as Soto Cano Air Force Base now, which is a joint U.S. and Honduran base. That plane could not have stopped there without U.S. permission. We don’t have the big smoking guns. We certainly have the behavior of the U.S. State Department and the White House after the coup, which was to legitimate the coup government as an equal partner to Zelaya—in fact, as a superior partner. They never denounced the spectacular repression after the coup. And they treated Zelaya like a bad child for trying to return to his own country. They recognized—they announced that they would recognize the outcome of the illegitimate November elections after that, even before the votes were counted. And it was clearly they wanted the whole situation to go away.

July 28, 2009 The Nation
What specifically did Zelaya do to conjure these malevolent spirits of the cold war past? The US press has focused on his efforts to build support for a constitutional assembly, misrepresenting the effort as a power grab when in fact the proposal to revise the Constitution was broadly supported by social movements as an effort to democratize Honduras's notoriously exclusive political system. The business community didn't like Zelaya because he raised the minimum wage. Conservative evangelicals and Catholics--including Opus Dei, a formidable presence in Honduras--detested him because he refused to ban the "morning-after" pill. The mining, hydroelectric and biofuel sector didn't like him because he didn't put state funds and land at their disposal. The law-and-order crowd hated him because he apologized on behalf of the state for a program of "social cleansing" that took place in the 1990s, which included the execution of street children and gang members. And the generals didn't like it when he tried to assert executive control over the military. Similar to the armed forces in Guatemala and El Salvador, the Honduran military after the cold war diversified its portfolio, with its officers investing heavily in both legitimate and illegitimate businesses, such as the narcotics trade, illegal logging, and illicit adoptions.

June 30, 2009 New York Times
The United States has a history of backing rival political factions and instigating coups in the region, and administration officials have found themselves on the defensive in recent days, dismissing repeated allegations by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela that the C.I.A. may have had a hand in the president’s removal.
Obama administration officials said that they were surprised by the coup on Sunday. But they also said that they had been working for several weeks to try to head off a political crisis in Honduras as the confrontation between Mr. Zelaya and the military over his efforts to lift presidential term limits escalated.
The United States has long had strong ties to the Honduras military and helps train Honduran military forces. Those close ties have put the Obama administration in a difficult position, opening it up to accusations that it may have turned a blind eye to the pending coup. Administration officials strongly deny the charges, and Mr. Obama’s quick response to the Honduran president’s removal has differed sharply from the actions of the Bush administration, which in 2002 offered a rapid, tacit endorsement of a short-lived coup against Mr. Chávez.
Let's hope that media pays more attention to news in South America, and lawmakers tell the whole truth and really try to solve some issues. As long as the media only focuses on a part of the story this week, news reports will never show the causes and effects and how we got here.  That assumes they even try to cover the story in the first place.

Sunday, June 8, 2014


**Written May 6, 2014 Published June 8 2014

I wrote this BEFORE the release of Bowe Bergdahl, and before Robert Bergdahl said Bismillah al rahman al rahim.  I will have much more to say about the Bergdahl swap and the controversies, real and fake, later.

"Oh My God" is a daily expression now, as it has been for a long time now.  It is used to express a heightened sense of emotion, such as shock, excitement, grief, unbelief.  And now along with LOL, "OMG" is used hundreds of times a day, where it's ubiquitesness has taken away its intended shock value.

Allah hu Akhbar, Arabic, God is Great

While we use OMG everyday without a second thought, if we hear Allah hu Akhbar instead, it gives us pause, as we think "what do they mean when they say that?" Well, they mean the same thing as OMG, with religious meanings, meaning  they don't use it lightly like we have done recently, and they say it in Arabic, which gives it a foreignness that can frighten those who only associate it with Islamic extremism and terrorism.

On a side note, terrorism is a tactic, and is used by many groups, including Christian groups, Jewish groups, and nationalistic separatist groups, not just Islamic terrorists. More on that later.

Some recent examples of the confusion over Allah hu Akhbar include Senator John McCain schooling Fox News over a video where Syrian rebel fighters shout "Allah hu Akhbar" as they shoot down a Syrian govt plane, and the Fox News hosts are concerned that McCain is advocating sending arms to these fighters, who because they shouted "Allah hu Akhbar" and not "hell yeah" instead, or some other American colloquial expression that we would have no problem with, and would understand their  excitement the same as when after 9/11 President Bush stood on the rubble and we screamed "USA USA" as we banged the drums to war in Afghanistan.

John McCain on Fox News Fox News Insider YouTube

The articles I found about the plane crash are from 1999---I remember another one? one more recently, in the early 2000s, but it may just be when I heard about it.





Like the Malaysian plane in the news recently, there was another airliner that crashed, and we know it crashed because we found it and the black boxes, and listened to the flight recorder, and listened to the pilot's words.  Immediately many assumed that this was terrorism, a deliberate crash intended to send a message of jihad, and to kill the innocent passengers on the plane.  The investigation showed that this was not terrorism, but instead just another tragic plane crash [I'm not sure now reading these articles].  And as the plane went down, the pilot was scared, and he prayed to God, Allah.  Allah hu Akhbar. OMG.

"Fun Video" from the War in Syria

May 8, 2014

"Breaking the Set"

The title of Abby Martin's show on Russia Today is fitting for this story: it is about the abdication of the role of today's mainstream journalism, and it is also just happens to be about a broken TV news set.  On Wednesday, May 7, two journalists were on a Jordanian TV show debating the Syrian war, and the debate turned heated and a fight broke out and they broke the table as they started punching and kicking each other, and using the table to push each other back and forth.  That was basically all the local news channel told us.

My questions immediately were instead:
  • who were the journalists
  • what were they fighting about
  • what were they debating
  • THIS is how you report the story??!!
Here is the video, showing the 45 seconds before the fight breaks out.  I will try to get a translation.

Here is the rest of the story.

The Associated Press says the show aired on Tuesday, on the satellite channel "Seven Stars," while The Washington Post says the show (“Bayn Etijihayn” (Between Two Ways), which reminded me of "Between Two Ferns") aired on Wednesday, but neither is clear whether that is local time there or here in the US.  The journalists were Shaker al-Johari, head of the Electronic Media Association in Jordan and Mohammad al-Jayousi, editor-in-chief of the news Web site al-Mustaqbal al-Arabi.

The Washington Post says they were debating media freedom in Syria, which is a very important topic in Syria, as well as in the Middle East as well as worldwide, especially if "democracy" is the goal in the Arab Spring, which started the Syrian Civil war (this time at least) and is also important as we debate the future of Afghanistan and Iraq, as Iraq descends into a civil war of its own, and as US troops leave Afghanistan by the end of the year, we hope they can avert a civil war as well as they build the "democracy" we invaded to set up.

The Washington Post describes the fight saying
The heated conversation turned physical when Al-Jayousi accused Al-Johari of being a "deviant" who supports the Syrian revolution. Al-Johari responded by accusing Al-Jayousi of supporting the Syrian regime in exchange for money.  This prompted the two men to start shoving the studio table toward one another, eventually flipping it over. The clip is not to be missed. (my emphasis). The host then ended the program abruptly. 

The Associated Press says
However, the debate fell apart as al-Jayousi accused al-Johari of supporting the Syrian rebels. Al-Johari then accused al-Jayousi of taking money for supporting Assad.  The two men, obviously carried away by the debate, stood up and grabbed the edge of the studio table they had been seated at, and tried to fight each other.  In the scuffle, the top of the table broke off and the rest of it toppled as the moderator and studio workers tried to stop the fight and finally separated the two journalists.
In describing the larger issue, the Syrian Civil War, AP says
the 3-year-old war pitting rebels against President Bashar Assad's government, a conflict that activists say has killed more than 150,000 people.
Did you notice the problem in that sentence?

A) it is not just "activists" that say that 150,000 Syrian civilians have been killed, that is the cited statistic by major news outlets, the UN,  the international community trying to end the war, etc, not just "activists" trying to make a point. 

Death toll--Wikipedia

B) the war was not started by "armed rebels who decided to attack the govt."  The war grew out the larger Arab Spring and Bashar al Assad's reaction to Syrians' peaceful protests, and issues of drought in Syria that affected farmers and the economy, adding to the Arab Spring protests, and the war was started by Assad, deciding to hold onto power by any means necessary, instead of listening to his people's needs.

I wish our mainstream news would take the time to do a better job of reporting the stories they decide to show us, instead of just showing us a "fun video" and acting like that is enough of an explanation, and their job is finished of "reporting the news."

It's More than Metadata

Originally from April 29, 2014

Edited and updated September 29, 2014

First of all, what is metadata?  The Guardian tells us, based on what you use. (again thanks to Rayne)

  • phone number of every caller
  • unique serial numbers of phones involved
  • time of call
  • duration of call
  • location of each participant
  • telephone calling card numbers
  • sender's name, email and IP address
  • recipient's name and email address
  • server transfer information
  • date, time and timezone
  • unique identifier of email and related emails
  • content type and encoding
  • mail client login records with IP address
  • mail client header formats
  • priority and categories
  • subject of email
  • status of the email
  • read receipt request
Web Browser
  • your activity including pages you visit and when
  • user data and possibly user login details with auto-fill features
  • your IP address, internet service provider, device hardware details, operating system and browser version
  • cookies and cached data from websites
Google Searches

  • your search queries
  • results that appeared in searches
  • pages you visit from search
  • your name, location, language, profile bio information and url
  • when you created your account
  • your username and unique identifier
  • tweet's location, date, time and timezone
  • tweet's unique ID and ID of tweet replied to 
  • contributor IDs
  • your follower, following and favorite count
  • your verification status
  • application sending the tweet
  • your name and profile bio information including birthday, hometown, work history and interests
  • your username and unique identifier
  • your subscriptions
  • your location
  • your device
  • activity date, time and timezone
  • your activities, likes, checkins and events
  • photographer identification
  • creation and modification date and time
  • location where photo was taken
  • details about a photo's contents
  • copyright information
  • camera make and model
  • camera settings: shutter speed, f-stop, focal length and flash type
  • photo dimensions, resolution and orientation

John Oliver asks Keith Alexander "then why are you collecting it?"
Watch the interview here from YouTube


I particularly liked the end where Alexander likes the "NSA listens" motto, since they sued over this satirical emblem.

(Now in October, John has been doing excellent investigative journalism on the show.)

Sunday April 27 was the first night of John Oliver's new show on HBO, and his first guest was retired NSA director Keith Alexander.  Kevin Gosztola has a great piece describing how Oliver was the first journalist (fake or real) to grill Alexander since the Snowden revelations last June.

Kevin writes that
One exchange stood out, however, because it seemed to be the first time on a television program that Alexander had been asked about wanting the NSA to “collect everything.”
The New York Times wrote a review of the show, but besides showing a photo of the interview with Alexander,
the article didn't discuss the interview, only saying that "There was a sit-down interview."

Oliver brought up phone metadata collection under Section 215 of the PATRIOT ACT, although not mentioning it by name, saying that NSA was looking for needles in a haystack, but also collecting the farm, town, county and state. Alexander responded that "NSA doesn't do this alone" saying again as many NSA defenders do that "it's all legal" because Congress, FISA Courts oversee the program.  When he says "NSA doesn't do this alone" can also refer to the fact that NSA collects for FBI, as we see in the Verizon 215 order.  Most stories fail to mention or explain collections under the FISA Amendments Act Section 702 as well as Executive Order 12333 collections, which Senator Ron Wyden just mentioned again as collecting data on Americans in an interview on Meet The Press (see 1:36 where he mentions medical records and purchases as some examples)

The one part of the interview that stood out for me was the part where Oliver recognizes a key part of the debate that I feel has not had too much attention paid to it, at least this clearly in discussing the 215 program---why would NSA collect US metadata if it didn't find it important?? It's not only about reading everyone's emails or listening on phone calls---it's about the collection in the first place.  EFF and other internet security experts have shown that a list of all the calls you made can often be more than enough to compromise your privacy.
What they are trying to say is that disclosure of metadata—the details about phone calls, without the actual voice—isn't a big deal, not something for Americans to get upset about if the government knows. Let's take a closer look at what they are saying:
  • They know you rang a phone sex service at 2:24 am and spoke for 18 minutes. But they don't know what you talked about.
  • They know you called the suicide prevention hotline from the Golden Gate Bridge. But the topic of the call remains a secret.
  • They know you spoke with an HIV testing service, then your doctor, then your health insurance company in the same hour. But they don't know what was discussed.
  • They know you received a call from the local NRA office while it was having a campaign against gun legislation, and then called your senators and congressional representatives immediately after. But the content of those calls remains safe from government intrusion.
  • They know you called a gynecologist, spoke for a half hour, and then called the local Planned Parenthood's number later that day. But nobody knows what you spoke about.
Sorry, your phone records—oops, "so-called metadata"—can reveal a lot more about the content of your calls than the government is implying. Metadata provides enough context to know some of the most intimate details of your lives.  And the government has given no assurances that this data will never be correlated with other easily obtained data.
So while we debate whether Snowden is a traitor or a hero, or tell people "if you aren't doing anything wrong you have nothing to fear," Oliver is the first to directly challenge Alexander by pointing out that they wouldn't be collecting it if they didn't think there was a value in metadata.

The Running List of What NSA can do so far, from WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show

  • It can track the numbers of both parties on a phone call, as well location, time and duration. (More)
  • It can hack Chinese phones and text messages. (More)
  • It can set up fake internet cafes. (More)
  • It can spy on foreign leaders' cell phones. (More)
  • It can tap underwater fiber-optic cables. (Clarification: Shane Harris explains that there were reports the NSA was trying to tap directly into cables using submarines, but is now more likely trying to intercept information once it has reached land.) (More)
  • It can track communication within media organizations like Al Jazeera. (More)
  • It can hack into the UN video conferencing system. (More)
  • It can track bank transactions. (More)
  • It can monitor text messages. (More)
  • It can access your email, chat, and web browsing history. (More)
  • It can map your social networks. (More)
  • It can access your smartphone app data. (More)
  • It is trying to get into secret networks like Tor, diverting users to less secure channels. (More)
  • It can go undercover within embassies to have closer access to foreign networks. (More)
  • It can set up listening posts on the roofs of buildings to monitor communications in a city. (More)
  • It can set up a fake LinkedIn. (More)
  • It can track the reservations at upscale hotels. (More)
  • It can intercept the talking points for Ban Ki-moon’s meeting with Obama. (More)
  • It can crack cellphone encryption codes. (More)
  • It can hack computers that aren’t connected to the internet using radio waves. (Update: Clarification -- the NSA can access offline computers through radio waves on which it has already installed hidden devices.) (More)
  • It can intercept phone calls by setting up fake base stations. (More)
  • It can remotely access a computer by setting up a fake wireless connection. (More)
  • It can install fake SIM cards to then control a cell phone. (More)
  • It can fake a USB thumb drive that's actually a monitoring device. (More)
  • It can crack all types of sophisticated computer encryption. (Update: It istrying to build this capability.) (More)
  • It can go into online games and monitor communication. (More)
  • It can intercept communications between aircraft and airports. (More)
  • (Update 1/18) It can physically intercept deliveries, open packages, and make changes to devices. (More) (h/t)
  • (Update 1/18) It can tap into the links between Google and Yahoo data centers to collect email and other data. (More) (h/t)
  • (Update 4/2) It can monitor, in real-time, Youtube views and Facebook "Likes." (More)
  • (Update 4/2) It can monitor online behavior through free Wi-Fi at Canadian airports. (More)
  • (Update 4/2) It can shut down chat rooms used by Anonymous and identify Anonymous members. (More)
  • (Update 4/2) It can use real-time data to help identify and locate targets for US drone strikes. (More)
  • (Update 4/2) It can collect the IP addresses of visitors to the Wikileaks website. (More)
  • (Update 4/2) It can spy on US law firms representing foreign countries in trade negotiations. (More)
  • (Update 4/2) It can post false information on the Internet in order to hurt the reputation of targets. (More)
  • (Update 4/2) It can intercept and store webcam images. (More)
  • (Update 4/2) It can record phone calls and replay them up to a month later. (More)
  • (Update 6/2) It can harvest images from emails, texts, videoconferencing and more and feed it into facial recognition software. (More)
Instead of asking "Is Snowden a Traitor or a Patriot?" they can decide to take 5 minutes and tell us what he revealed. And no, it's not just phone metadata.


Welcome to The Biased Reporter

All news is biased. Not just Fox News, where the daily agenda is something like "Democrats are trying to destroy the greatness of America and only Republicans and Ronald Reagan can save it" or MSNBC, where it's only the Democrats who have the great ideas and it's the Republicans trying to destroy the middle class in favor of corporations.  I'll write more about these two arguments later.

Media bias occurs whenever a story is first heard, and immediately and even subconsciously there is a viewpoint attached to the news story.  Everyone does this, and it is not necessarily a criticism.  It is just an important fact to realize whenever we see news.  We have to take a step beyond the story and look further. What are the sources these media organizations turn to over and over for analysis? Do these pundits ever lose credibility as a source? What questions are being asked, and which aren't? These are some of the issues I will be discussing in this blog.

I am writing a blog of news,comments and media criticism.  I took the name "The Biased Reporter"

A) because I like it and it sounds good, compared with other names like Under the Radar and UnderReported

B) in order to show how other news organizations and journalists are biased---ALL of them in some way, when they report a story.

C) as part of the larger group of great reporters and journalists and the thousands of citizens worldwide trying to show the truth always, report what is important in the world, and break through the noise and spin.

My blog website is (and now in 2015 on WordPress as well) because was already taken (by one post on mortgages with links to other services), and was taken as well, by someone named Biased Lois, who briefly in 2006 was doing what I want to do now.  I am not sure why she stopped blogging, but she certainly did a good job.

I am NOT "Biased Lois" but I agree fully with her sentiment that
I acknowledge that I do have biases. We all do. But I the first step toward giving readers fair and balanced news coverage is acknowledging those biases and working very hard to make sure other views are represented in news stories." see her blog here
As her profile rightly says,
Best way for journalists to give readers fair and balanced news? Admit there is no such thing as an "unbiased reporter."
I plan to continue in the footsteps, and in the path of the news organizations and journalists, independent and Mainstream, who tell the truth no matter what, and truly use their platform to inform the public, NOT for ratings, but to tell the citizens of this country what government is doing in their name, in order to make our experiment in democracy REAL, here and abroad, and to give the power of the people back to the people.