THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)
05th March, 2015 0
Editor’s Note: The investigative research team Project Censored, which sprang out of a journalism workshop at Sonoma State University, defines censorship as “…anything that interferes with the free flow of information in a society that purports to uphold free press principles.” Sponsored by the Media Freedom Foundation every year since 1976, the Project selects the 25 “most censored stories” on the planet.
Since 1985 The Review has published their findings, which we are doing again this year in two installments, listed democratically in order of importance according to the Project’s judges.
These stories announced on October 1st are from the 2014 news cycle.
6 The Deep State:Government “Without Reference to the Consent of the Governed”
October 1, 2014
It is no secret that concerned citizens are condemning the United States government’s lack of transparency, accountability, and honest constituent representation. Reporting for Moyers & Company, Mike Lofgren, a congressional staff member for twenty-eight years specializing in national security, addressed the issue of the “deep state” that undemocratically orchestrates unchecked private agendas, while corporate media distract the public’s attention by focusing on traditional Washington partisan politics.
Lofgren contended that, although the deep state is “neither omniscient nor invincible,” it is a “relentlessly well entrenched,” “hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed.”
Exploiting the world’s resources and governments with criminal impunity, a wealthy elite—sporting an estimated $32 trillion in tax-exempt offshore havens—are the deep dark secret of plutocratic imperialism, operating behind more visible, privately controlled government representatives. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the House Financial Services Committee incoming chairman in 2010, openly flouted constitutional rights when he stated, “My view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.”
The establishment news media labels Congress as the most hopelessly deadlocked since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the American Civil War. However, corporate media do little to draw attention to the hidden wealthy elites who undemocratically control our government, because these elites own the major media. It is only the deep state’s protectiveness toward its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. The US needs brave, determined, and well-supported leaders to demand implementation of “loophole” proof laws in a restructured system of checks and balances in order to effectively halt the unethical influence of wealthy powers on our democratic representatives.
Source: Mike Lofgren, “Anatomy of the Deep State,” Moyers & Company, February 21, 2014, http://billmoyers.com/2014/02/21/anatomy-of-the-deep-state.
Student Researcher: Alexander P. Ruhe (Burlington College)
7. FBI Dismisses Murder Plot against Occupy Leaders as NSA and Big Business Cracks Down on Dissent
October 1, 2014
In October 2011, when the Occupy Wall Street movement arrived in Houston, protesters were subject to local and federal surveillance, infiltration by police provocateurs, and police assault. Months later, Dave Lindorff reported for WhoWhatWhy, a document obtained in December 2012 from the Houston FBI office shows that the agency was aware of a plot to assassinate Occupy movement leaders—and did nothing about it.
The document, obtained as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by the Washington DC–based Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, reads in part:
“An identified [DELETED] as of October planned to engage in sniper attacks against protestors (sic) in Houston, Texas if deemed necessary. An identified [DELETED] had received intelligence that indicated the protesters in New York and Seattle planned similar protests in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin, Texas. [DELETED] planned to gather intelligence against the leaders of the protest groups and obtain photographs, then formulate a plan to kill the leadership via suppressed sniper rifles.”
As of June 2013, Lindorff reported, the FBI knew the identity of the person(s) who planned the sniper attacks, but had not released any names. The head of the FBI’s media office, Paul Bresson, explained, “The FOIA documents that you reference are redacted in several places pursuant to FOIA and privacy laws that govern the release of such information so therefore I am unable to help fill in the blanks . . .. If the FBI was aware of credible and specific information involving a murder plot, law enforcement would have responded with appropriate action.”
Occupy Houston activists have speculated that the wording “if deemed necessary” might indicate that the unidentified plotter was an organization, such as the police or a private security group. Documents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security identify Occupy as a “terrorist” activity.
The FBI has a record of orchestrating attacks on citizen organizations deemed to be threats. For example, the Church Committee hearings of the 1970s revealed that the FBI orchestrated local police attacks (in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York) on leaders of the Black Panther Party.
Alex Kane of AlterNet reported that Beau Hodai’s SourceWatch report provided “an eye-opening look into how US counter-terrorism agencies monitored the Occupy movement in 2011 and 2012.” Government documents, obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy and DBA Press from the National Security Agency and other government offices, revealed “a grim mosaic of ‘counter-terrorism’ operations” and negative attitudes toward activists and other citizens.
For instance, the largest Occupy Phoenix action took place in early December 2011, outside of meetings held there by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC hired forty-nine active but off-duty Phoenix Police Department (PPD) officers and nine retired PPD officers to act as private security during ALEC’s meetings.
The upshot, Hodai reported, is “the wholesale criminalization of tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of American citizens who have dared to voice opposition to what is increasingly viewed as the undue influence of private corporate/financial interests in the functions of public government.” Meanwhile the known perpetrators behind the Mortgage Loan SWOP crisis that led to the stock market crash of ’07 have yet to be prosecuted.
Dave Lindorff, “FBI Document—‘[DELETED]’ Plots to Kill Occupy Leaders ‘If Deemed Necessary,’” WhoWhatWhy, June 27, 2013, http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/06/27/fbi-document-deleted-plots-to-kill-occupy-leaders-if-deemed-necessary.
Alex Kane, “How America’s National Security Apparatus—in Partnership With Big Corporations—Cracked Down on Dissent,” AlterNet, May 21, 2013, http://www.alternet.org/print/news-amp-politics/how-americas-national-security-apparatus-partnership-big-corporations-cracked-down.
Student Researchers: Danielle Davis and Andie Bugajski (Sonoma State University)
8. Corporate News Ignores Connections Between Extreme Weather and Global Warming
October 1, 2014
As extreme weather becomes increasingly common, it has received a fair share of coverage during network news broadcasts. Often missing from these reports, however, is any mention of climate change and its connection to extreme weather events. As Peter Hart reported for Extra!, the nightly news covers extreme weather events as unusual and newsworthy, but usually without explanation of climate change as an underlying cause.
A study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) found that extreme weather events in 2013 resulted in 450 news segments, of which only sixteen mentioned climate change. As for specific evening news shows, CBS Evening News only used terms like “global warming” and “greenhouse gases” in two of 114 extreme weather reports. ABC World News only mentioned climate change in eight reports out of 200, and NBC Nightly News only mentioned it in six reports out of 136. There was also a CBS report on the unsupported notion that there had been a “pause” in global warming.
There continues to be serious scientific debate on the extent to which current weather events and climate change should be linked. Nonetheless, a majority of American public still makes the connection between climate and weather despite the media’s failure to report on it.
Writing for Tomdispatch, Dahr Jamail reported on the increasingly high stakes of ignoring the scientific evidence for climate change. Jamail reported the perspectives of scientific experts who do not figure in corporate news coverage of our “extreme weather.” Concerns range from the costs of Arctic methane releases to a December 2013 study by eighteen eminent scientists concluding that “continuation of high fossil fuel emissions, given current knowledge of the consequences, would be an act of extraordinary witting intergenerational injustice.”
Though climate engineering is often touted as a technological answer to climate change, German researchers have argued that attempts to artificially engineer the earth’s climate would likely cause worse effects than presently forecasted climate change trends. David Keller and colleagues from the Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research in Kiel, Germany, reported findings based on an earth system model that replicated five different strategies to reduce global warming and help prevent wide-scale climate change. Climate engineering, or reducing the levels of sunlight hitting the planet’s surface through “solar radiation management,” could change rainfall patterns, worsen conditions in arid zones, or cause irreversible harm once the technology’s use ceased. After considering other technological fixes, the study’s authors concluded that any such measures would have limited effectiveness without further cutbacks in carbon-based greenhouse emissions.
Peter Hart, “Weather—Without Climate,” Extra! (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), December 2, 2013, http://fair.org/extra-online-articles/weather-without-climate.
Dahr Jamail, “The Climate Change Scorecard,” Tomdispatch, December 17, 2013, http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175785/tomgram%3A_dahr_jamail,_the_climate_change_scorecard.
9. US Media Hypocrisy in Covering Ukraine Crisis
October 1, 2014
Russia’s occupation of Crimea has caused US corporate media and government officials to call for a stern US response. Secretary of State John Kerry declaimed the Russian intervention as “a nineteenth-century act in the twenty-first century.” What Russia’s US critics seem to forget, Robert Parry reported, is the United States’ own history of overthrowing democratic governments, including the illegal invasion of Iraq, which Kerry supported.
Corporate media also fail to acknowledge that Putin ordered the occupation of Kiev after a coup led at least partly by neo-Nazis—conditions arguably less criminal than the US invasion of Iraq, which the US legitimized with false claims. “If Putin is violating international law by sending Russian troops into the Crimea after a violent coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias ousted Ukraine’s democratically elected president,” wrote Parry, “then why hasn’t the US government turned over George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and indeed John Kerry to the International Criminal Court for their far more criminal invasion of Iraq?” (In a similar vein, Noam Chomsky has written about the US occupation of Guantánamo in Cuba as another instance of the contradiction between the US position toward Russia and its own lack of respect for national sovereignty.)
Further, Ukraine’s democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled Kiev for his life after the coup and sought Russia’s help quelling the neo-Nazi groups in Ukraine, citing their oppression of the country’s native Russian population. It was only after this that Putin requested the Russian parliament’s permission to deploy Russian troops in to stop the expansion of neo-Nazi control to areas that have deep historical ties to Russia.
Nevertheless, while downplaying these details, US corporate media accuse Russia of violating international law. “The overriding hypocrisy of the Washington Post, Secretary Kerry and indeed nearly all of Official Washington, is their insistence that the United States actually promotes the principle of democracy or, for that matter, the rule of international law,” wrote Parry. “Those are at best situational ethics when it comes to advancing US interests around the world.” In a subsequent report, Parry wrote that, despite evidence to the contrary, US policy makers and corporate media have intentionally neglected to report that neo-Nazi militias played a central role in the February 22, 2014, overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. Parry reported, “The US media’s take on the Ukraine crisis is that a ‘democratic revolution’ ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, followed by a ‘legitimate’ change of government. So, to mention the key role played by neo-Nazi militias in the putsch or to note that Yanukovych was democratically elected—and then illegally deposed—gets you dismissed as a ‘Russian propagandist.’”
Parry is not alone in the view that US media outlets exacerbate conflict with propaganda to vilify Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. As Stephen Cohen reported, from coverage of living conditions and high terror tension at the Sochi Olympics to the bullying cruel regime of Putin and its strong arming of Ukraine, the US corporate media have painted Putin and Russia as public enemy number one, thereby reviving Cold War rhetoric and tactics. Putin and Russia are depicted as militant bullies, rather than a leader and a country trying to preserve control over strategic oil assets to maintain the country’s sphere of influence.
A resurgence of cold war rhetoric may make better sense against the backdrop of geopolitical oil interests, as analyzed by Nafeez Ahmed. As he reported, Ukraine finds itself between the two superpowers and their ongoing struggle for influence in the Eurasian oil market. Russia’s Gazprom Company already controls roughly one-fifth of the world’s oil supply. In 2013, Ukraine signed a $10 billion shale gas deal with US-based Chevron in hopes of ending its dependency on Russian gas by 2020. The Obama administration has since spent over $5 billion to “ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine.” For those who are pondering whether we face the prospect of a New Cold War,” Ahmed concluded, “a better question might be—did the Cold War ever really end?”
Robert Perry, “America’s Staggering Hypocrisy,” Consortium News, March 4, 2014, http://consortiumnews.com/2014/03/04/americas-staggering-hypocrisy.
Stephen F. Cohen, “Distorting Russia: How the American Media Misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine,” Nation, March 3, 2014, http://www.thenation.com/article/178344/distorting-russia.
Nafeez Ahmed, “Ukraine Crisis is about Great Power Oil, Gas Pipeline Rivalry,” Guardian, March 6, 2014, http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/mar/06/ukraine-crisis-great-power-oil-gas-rivals-pipelines.
10. World Health Organization Suppresses Report on Iraqi Cancers and Birth Defects
October 1, 2014
In contradiction with its own mandate, the World Health Organization (WHO) continues to suppress evidence uncovered in Iraq that US military use of depleted uranium (DU) and other weapons have not only killed many civilians but are also the cause of an epidemic of birth defects and other public health issues. By refusing to release the report publicly, the WHO effectively protects the US military and its government from accountability for the resulting public health catastrophe.
A WHO and Iraq Ministry of Health report on cancers and birth defects was set to be released in November 2012, but officials have indefinitely delayed that report’s release. To this date, Denis Halliday wrote, the WHO report remains “classified.” According to the WHO, the report’s release has been delayed because its analysis needs to be evaluated by a “team of independent scientists.”
Halliday’s report drew comparisons between the Iraqi case and the legacy of health issues arising from US use of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, the reality in Iraq, Mozhgan Savabieasfahani contended, is that “Iraq is poisoned.” For example, citing a peer-reviewed study that she helped conduct, Savabieasfahani wrote, “[T]hirty-five million Iraqis wake up every morning to a living nightmare of childhood cancers, adult cancers and birth defects. Familial cancers, cluster cancers and multiple cancers in the same individual have become frequent in Iraq.” Why, then, does the WHO refuse to release its study? “One possible answer,” she wrote, “was suggested on May 26 by the Guardian.”
In that article, John Pilger reported the recent comments of Hans von Sponeck, the former assistant secretary general of the United Nations: “The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.”
Containing information that is “essential” to inform public health policy in Iraq, the WHO report, Savabieasfahani wrote, “will enable researchers to collaborate, ask the most relevant questions and spearhead research to remedy this health emergency.”
Denis Halliday, “WHO Refuses to Publish Report on Cancers and Birth Defects in Iraq Caused by Depleted Uranium Ammunition,” Global Research, September 13, 2013, http://www.globalresearch.ca/who-refuses-to-publish-report-on-cancers-and-birth-defects-in-iraq-caused-by-depleted-uranium-ammunition/5349556.
Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, “What’s Delaying the WHO Report on Iraqi Birth Defects?” ZNet, June 12, 2013, http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/whats-delaying-the-who-report-on-iraqi-birth-defects-by-mozhgan-savabieasfahani.
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THE NEW GILDED AGE (Part 2)