News Releases

Thousands Decry MSNBC Ignoring U.S.-Backed Carnage in Yemen While Obsessing Over Russia

Sponsors of a petition with 22,784 signers and 4,474 individual comments — asking MSNBC to remedy an extreme imbalance of news coverage — announced Wednesday that the network and its primetime stars Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes have refused to respond despite repeated requests for a reply.

The petition was submitted more than 10 days ago to Maddow and Hayes via their producers as well as to MSNBC senior vice president Errol Cockfield. The petition also went to Kristen Osborne, the network’s senior manager in charge of media relations for “The Rachel Maddow Show” and “All In with Chris Hayes.”

Signers responded to outreach from three organizations — Just Foreign Policy, RootsAction.org and World Beyond War — calling for concerned individuals to “urge Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, and MSNBC to correct their failure to report on the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen and the direct U.S. military role in causing the catastrophe by signing our petition.”

The petition is still gathering signers.

The petition — which tells MSNBC to “stop censoring the U.S.-assisted carnage in Yemen” — came after a January 8 report by the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) that documented the near-total absence of Yemen coverage by the network.Meanwhile, the study — titled “MSNBC Ignores Catastrophic U.S.-Backed War in Yemen” — documented that “in these latter roughly six months of the year [2017], MSNBC ran nearly 5,000 percent more segments that mentioned Russia than segments that mentioned Yemen.”

Sponsors of the petition noted that MSNBC “did not run a single segment devoted specifically to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen in the second half of 2017, even though — or perhaps because — the U.S. government has played a key role in creating the catastrophe.”

Citing the FAIR data, the organizations pointed out: “In all of 2017, MSNBC only aired one broadcast on the U.S.-assisted Saudi airstrikes that have killed thousands of Yemeni civilians. And it never mentioned Yemen’s cholera epidemic, which infected more than 1 million Yemenis in the largest outbreak in recorded history, a direct result of the U.S.-assisted Saudi/UAE war and blockade.”

Interviews Available:

BEN NORTON, email at bennorton.com, @BenjaminNorton
A reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, Norton wrote the study “MSNBC Ignores Catastrophic U.S.-Backed War in Yemen” for FAIR.

ROBERT NAIMAN, naiman at justforeignpolicy.org, @naiman
Naiman is policy director at Just Foreign Policy, one of the groups organizing the petition. His pieces on Yemen include “Rand Paul: Unconstitutional Saudi War in Yemen Is Not in Our Interest and Congress Should Vote.”

Another Great Crash?

 

JAMES K. GALBRAITH, galbraith at mail.utexas.edu
Galbraith holds the Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin where he founded the University of Texas Inequality Project.

His most recent books include Inequality: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, 2016), Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe (Yale, 2016) and The End of Normal: The Great Crisis and the Future of Growth (Free Press, 2014).

He said today: “Once again we hear that the ‘fundamentals are strong.’ This is irrelevant. What matters for the economy going forward is not past performance but the balance of confidence and fear.

“The stock boom was driven by low interest rates, share buy-backs and a falling dollar. Now, with the tax cuts in place and the latest wage report, it became clear that there were no obstacles to further increases in interest rates, flattening the yield curve. In this situation, equity investors fear losses and a flight to safety follows. This is now happening worldwide.

“If the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates, and even more so if it picks up the pace, the dollar will stop falling, and perhaps again start to rise. A funding crisis in the rest of the world (hinted at by some analysts) would produce yet another flight to safety and increase these effects. A financial crisis, exposing the weak position of some of the world’s largest banks, would likely end growth altogether, and not merely in the U.S. And yet, on the other hand, a reversal-of-course at this stage would reveal the fecklessness of the decision to start raising rates in the first place. In this situation, based on the record, expect the Fed to stay on course until disaster really strikes — and then to claim that ‘no one could have foreseen it.’

“As for the fundamentals, they aren’t sound. The expansion has gone on for a long time, the stock market remains overvalued, and household debts were piling up. Many provisions in the recent tax law will reduce middle class purchasing power and home values and economic security, and the ability of state and local governments to maintain tax effort and public services. These will tend to discourage the growth of business investment, despite greater corporate cash flow and despite the near-term boost to incomes from the tax cuts.

“The stated economic policy objective of the Trump administration has been to raise the rate of economic growth on a sustained basis, from the 2 percent or so characteristic of the post-crisis expansion to at least 3 percent and if possible beyond. The stock break does not by itself derail this goal for 2018, at least, not yet. But it makes clear that financial and economic risks, instabilities and crises have not gone away — and that a growth strategy rooted in the stock market is necessarily doomed to collapse at some point.”

Honduras: After Stolen Election, Escalating Regime Violence, Backed by U.S.

JESSE FREESTON, [Currently in Tegucigalpa, Honduras], me at jessefreeston.com
Freeston has been publishing from Honduras, as a video-journalist and documentary filmmaker, for the last eight years, ever since the 2009 coup d’état. His work includes the acclaimed feature documentary “Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley.” In the past two weeks he has produced video reports for The Real News and “Democracy Now en Español.”

Jesse said today: “Just in the past few weeks this regime has: stolen an election; ignored calls from the Organization of American States to hold a new election; passed a law prohibiting the prosecution of all former and current members of Congress in the midst of a series of massive corruption scandals; appointed a new national police chief who has clear evidence against him of drug trafficking; tried two civilian activists inside a military base on dubious charges; been caught paying poor residents $25 each to attend the presidential inauguration; and sent military and police to attack protests arising from the above abuses. On multiple occasions they have fired live bullets into crowds; leaving at least 20 people dead and receiving a denunciation from the UN. In this context; not a single foreign government sent a foreign minister or head of state to Juan Orlando Hernández’s inauguration. But while foreign governments may prefer to avoid photographs with Hernández they continue sending the money and arms which uphold his regime.” He also highlights an analysis by The Economistmagazine on the evidence of electoral fraud.

KEN JONES, jonesk at maine.edu
Jones just returned from a delegation of fifty people, mostly clergy, to Honduras and wrote the piece “Accompaniment in Honduras,” which states: “In particular, the life of Jesuit priest and native Honduran Father Ismael Moreno, known as Padre Melo, is in danger. Possibly as well known as the assassinated Berta Caceres, Melo is the director of Radio Progreso, an independent station that reports on human rights violations, police and military abuses, and the work of dissidents and protectors of the land and waters. A humble and soft-spoken man, he is a spiritual and political leader who has not minced words as he has pointed to the illegal and brutal behaviors of the Honduran government and elites. He has also denounced the United States for its support of the regime, and for its hypocrisy in certifying Honduras as having an acceptable human rights record. Now his picture is featured on a flyer being circulated purporting to depict terrorists in El Progreso, in what could well be a prelude to his assassination.”

See in America magazine: “Jesuits issue open letter denouncing ‘grave threats’ against Honduran priest.”

See Twitter list: accuracy/lists/honduras.

U.S. Nuclear Stance Toward Russia Increasing Existential Threats

GREG MELLO, gmello at lasg.org, @TrishABQ
Mello is executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group. The group put out a statement on the U.S. government’s major nuclear policy statement, the Nuclear Posture Review. A new NPR was release on Fridayafternoon — which was last updated in 2010.

The Los Alamos Study Group’s statement is available at: “Nuclear Posture Review Calls for Continuing Weapons Modernization — Minus ‘Interoperable’ Warhead, Plus New Nuclear Attack Options.”

Mello said today: “What is most ‘missing in action’ in this document is civilian leadership. Trump is not supplying that. In part the fault for this comes from Democrats — who, allied with the intelligence community and other military-industrial interests, insist that the U.S. must have an adversarial relationship with Russia. There is no organized senior-level opposition to the new Cold War, which is intensifying week by week. This document reflects, and is just one of many policies embodying, the new and very dangerous Cold War.

“Unfortunately the ‘hard power’ approach that we see in this NPR eliminates better options as it proceeds and creates the enemies it needs to justify high military expenditures. Fear is used to create more fear — and more appropriations. In that sense, our nuclear missiles are aimed at Congress. They are also aimed at the American people, whose nuclear fears were consciously cultivated and used as a social control mechanism by government in the first Cold War.

“The low-yield Trident warheads are a gratuitous self-inflicted wound on the supposed rationale of the nuclear mission. … [A]ny use of nuclear weapons — anywhere, against any adversary, with any yield, under any circumstance — will immediately lead to existential dangers for the United States and the world. …

“Starting in Obama’s second term, neoconservatives began to be ascendant. Their goal was then and is now to conquer — to ‘break’ — Russia, in the summation of Henry Kissinger, and to contain China, and thus to rule the world. That is the context of this document, and that is why it is consequential and frightening. To say, ‘Look at the terrifying things Trump is saying!’ is to miss the deeper point that successful conflict with Russia has been the entire thrust of U.S. policy for several years now. This is just another expression of it, in the nuclear weapons arena.”

“Massive Victory”: Britain Stops Extradition to U.S. of Activist Lauri Love

Tom Cheshire and Alexander J. Martin report for Sky News: “Hacking suspect Lauri Love wins appeal against extradition.”

NAOMI COLVIN, NATHAN FULLER, nathan.fuller at couragefound.org@couragefound
Colvin and Fuller are with the Courage Foundation, which supports whistleblowers and which has helped lead the campaign against Love’s extradition. Fuller is formerly with the Manning Support Network.

Courage Foundation just released a statement: “In a major victory for Lauri Love, the High Court has approved his appeal and quashed his extradition. As Courage Case Director Naomi Colvin said, ‘This ruling is a massive victory for free expression online, for the fair treatment of neurodiverse people and for those of us who have drawn attention to the dire treatment of hackers and information activists in the United States.’

“The High Court judges disagreed with the District Court on whether the forum bar should apply in Lauri’s case and on the prospect of proper medical care to treat the likely risk of suicide should Lauri have been sent to a U.S. prison. …

“The judges felt that the District Judge leaned too heavily on testimony to the effect that no prisoner commits suicide while on suicide watch, the U.S. prison’s term for 24/7 monitoring of at-risk inmates. The High Court argued, ‘Suicide watch is not a form of treatment; there is no evidence that treatment would or could be made available on suicide watch for the very conditions which suicide watch itself exacerbates.’

“This ruling marks the first successful use of the forum bar, created in the wake of Gary McKinnon’s case, to protect a UK citizen from being unduly extradited to the United States. It also throws much-needed light on the U.S. prison conditions, so lacking in adequate medical care as to put suicidal inmates at further risk.

“Finally, the judges noted that it is now on the CPS [Crown Prosecution Service] to endeavor to try Lauri Love in the United Kingdom. The CPS has 14 days to find new arguments with which to appeal this ruling. Courage will continue to support Lauri Love and his family until his situation is resolved.”

Amazon: Profits at What Price?

Reuters reports: “Amazon.com Inc. on Thursday reported a profit near $2 billion, the largest in its history, as the online retailer drew millions of new customers to its Prime fast-shipping club for the holiday season and as changes to U.S. tax law added to its bottom line.”

The Guardian reports in: “Amazon patents wristband that tracks warehouse workers’ movements” that the “Bracelet, which can vibrate to point an employee’s hand in the right direction, would further increase surveillance of work environment.”

COLIN ROBINSON, colin.robinson at orbooks.com, @orbooks
Co-publisher of OR Books, Robinson wrote the piece “The Trouble With Amazon” for The Nation. He said today: “Amazon’s new wristbands are just the latest development in the company’s use of technology that de-humanizes work. Perhaps they could also give them to writers to help them put words on the page. Writers certainly need some help — their advances from publishers have been driven down sharply as a result of Amazon demanding ever steeper discounts.”

See also past Institute for Public Accuracy news releases on Amazon including “Trump Administration ‘Rubber Stamps’ Amazon-Whole Foods Merger,” “Is Amazon Ripping Off Taxpayers?” and “Amazon-CIA $600 Million Deal Facing Scrutiny: ‘What’s the CIA Doing on Amazon’s Cloud?'”

Stressing Free Speech, Court Strikes Down Israel Boycott Punishment

Nora Barrows-Friedman reports in the Electronic Intifada: “An Israeli lawfare group tied to the Mossad — Israel’s deadly spy agency — is suing two New Zealand activists for ‘influencing’ pop singer Lorde to cancel her Tel Aviv gig in late December.” See the response from the two activists, Nadia Abu-Shanab and Justine Sachs, “Israel’s Bullying and Intimidation Tactics Will Not Silence Us.”

Glenn Greenwald writes in The Intercept: “A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that a Kansas law designed to punish people who boycott Israel is an unconstitutional denial of free speech.” The plaintiff, Esther Koontz recently wrote: “I’m a member of the Mennonite Church. I’ve also been a math teacher for almost a decade. Because of my political views, the state of Kansas has decided that I can’t help it train other math teachers.” See her full statement on the website of the ACLU, which represents her.

Greenwald adds: “Beyond the court’s emphatic rationale, the decision is significant because repressive measures like this have spread, and continue to spread, far beyond Kansas. Indeed, as we have repeatedly reported and documented, the single greatest threat to free speech in the West — and in the U.S. — is the coordinated, growing campaign to outlaw and punish those who advocate for or participate in activism to end the Israeli occupation. …

“Last year, a measure sponsored by Benjamin Cardin, a Democratic senator from Maryland and an AIPAC loyalist, joined by 43 other senators, went even further, purporting to impose prison sentences and large fines for anyone working with international organizations to boycott Israel.”

DIMA KHALIDI, dkhalidi at palestinelegal.org, @pal_legal
Khalidi is director of Palestine Legal and is cooperating counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights. She said today: “This preliminary injunction affirmed what we have been saying for years: that boycotts for Palestinian rights are political protests protected by the First Amendment. Twenty-four states have enacted similar laws in the past three years, and Congress is currently considering the draconian Israel Anti-Boycott Act. This injunction should be a wake-up call to those state and federal lawmakers: stop trampling on our constitutional rights to shield Israel from criticism. Now more than ever we need lawmakers willing to protect and defend the constitution.”

Producers may want to use Lorde’s [actually Sia‘s] “Push” as intro music for any segment on this.

Trump Echos Apple’s PR: American Dream or Corporate Serfdom?

Trump claimed in the State of the Union last night: “The stock market has smashed one record after another. … Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers. … This, in fact, is our new American moment. There has never been a better time to start living the American Dream.”

JAMES HENRY, jamesshelburnehenry at mac.com, @submergingmkt
Henry recently wrote the piece “The Apple Tax Giveaway” for The American Interest.

Henry said today: “Trump lied. The $350 billion is not new U.S. investment; it is (promised) supplier purchases. Thirty billion dollars is the investment number and it was all in the pipeline (as were 20,000 U.S. jobs); and it now all qualifies for 100 percent depreciation the year it is made, if made by 2023. … The stock market would skyrocket if you gave the national parks to corporations too.”

Henry writes in the recent piece that Apple’s effective tax rate will be incredibly low: “A careful reading of the new tax bill reveals that Apple and its MNC [multinational corporations] brethren are not actually required to pay this ‘repatriation tax’ bill on their accumulated offshore stash now, but will have up to eight years to do so — interest free! — despite the glaringly obvious fact that Apple has plenty of ways to make money off the deferred cash in the meantime. …

“Most of the ‘new jobs’ and spending have nothing to do with the tax cuts; they are linear extensions of Apple’s pre-tax cut behavior …

“Furthermore, [Apple’s] press release intentionally skates past the question of precisely how Apple will be affected by the new tax law. It is especially careful to avoid mentioning that — as already reflected in its recent stock price surge — Apple is almost certain to be the tax heist’s largest single corporate beneficiary by far.

“As such, this latest Apple PR campaign easily outdistances ordinary run-of-the-mill efforts at corporate self-promotion. It represents a willful effort to bury all the gory details about how this massive transfer of public wealth will actually work. Indeed, the very tone of the release implies that Apple’s fellow American taxpayers should basically feel grateful that it is willing to pay any corporate taxes whatsoever — as if Apple were not just a giant capitalist corporation, spending every waking moment figuring out how to maximize profits and minimize taxes; as if it were some medieval lord, sitting in his brand-new circular castle, saddling the peasants with all of the tax burdens and common soldiering that keep the commonwealth safe in exchange for the sheer unadulterated privilege of being lied and sold to.”

Henry’s books include include The Pirate Bankers.

Robert Parry, ConsortiumNews Founder Who Challenged the Establishment, Dies

The media watch group FAIR writes: “Journalism lost one of its most valuable investigators when Robert Parry died from pancreatic cancer on January 27, at the age of 68. He was the first reporter to reveal Oliver North’s operation in the White House basement (AP, 6/10/1985), and the co-author of the first report on Contra drug-smuggling (AP, 12/21/1985). He did some of the most important work investigating the 1980 Reagan campaign’s efforts to delay the return of U.S. hostages held in Iran, a scandal known as the October Surprise.

“After breaking his first big stories with the Associated Press, Bob moved on to Newsweek and then later PBS‘s Frontline. Frustrated with the limits and compromises of corporate media — he was once told that a story on Contra financial skullduggery had to be watered down because Newsweek owner Katharine Graham was having Henry Kissinger as a weekend guest (Media Beat, 4/23/98) — Bob launched his own online outlet, ConsortiumNews.”

See also New York Times obituary.

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com
Executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, Solomon writes in The Nation: “No one knew better than Bob Parry how intelligence agencies and major media outlets can create a cascading frenzy. Beginning in late 2016, Bob was prolific as he debunked the torrent of hyperbolic claims about Russia that became an ever-present flood across the U.S. media landscape. Some progressive sites went from often posting his articles in 2016 to rarely or never posting them in 2017.”

Some of Parry’s pieces over the last year at ConsortiumNews include “The Lost Journalistic Standards of Russia-gate,” “Trump Falls in Line with Interventionism” and “Why Not a Probe of ‘Israel-gate’?” After suffering a stroke on Christmas Eve, Bob Parry wrote a piece titled “An Apology and Explanation.”

NAT PARRY, ndtparry at gmail.com, Skype: natparry76, @ConsortiumNews
Nat Parry co-authored Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush with Bob Parry and is one of his sons. He will be leaving the U.S. on Tuesday for Denmark, where he is based. He recently wrote a widely circulated overview piece on his father’s work, including how journalist Gary Webb (who committed suicide) built on Bob Parry’s work on Contra cocaine and was harshly attacked by establishment media; the Obama era and “Political Realignment and the New McCarthyism.” Nat appeared on the radio program “Flashpoints” Monday night with journalists Dennis Bernstein and John Pilger (who presented Bob with the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism last year). The program was devoted to Bob’s work.

DIANE DUSTON, dduston429 at aol.com
Duston was married to Bob for over 30 years. They met working at the AP in the 1980s. She is Nat’s stepmother. She said today of Bob’s work as an investigative reporter: “He had this incredible capacity to dig through documents and find the threads of truth there. I was more of a breaking news reporter, I enjoyed managing people and helping young reporters. … It all ended too soon.”

In 2015, Parry was awarded the I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence by the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University. See his remarks which include a description of how he found top secret documents about the October Surprise in an abandoned ladies room in a U.S. Capitol building. These documents were what initially compelled him to start ConsortiumNews on the Internet. In his address, he stresses the importance of not having preferred outcomes for stories: “I don’t care what the truth is, I just care what the truth is.”

This in-depth interview with Mark Ames from 2017 includes a description of how Parry dug up parts of the Iran-Contra scandal, including by playing different factions of the Contras against each other. Parry also talks about the necessity of funding truly independent media outlets.

Parry’s books include Fooling America: How Washington Insiders Twist the Truth and Manufacture the Conventional Wisdom, Trick or Treason: The 1980 October Surprise Mystery and America’s Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes to Obama.

Dark Money, Not Russia, Best Explains Trump’s Win

THOMAS FERGUSON, thomas.ferguson at umb.edu
Ferguson is professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. His books include Golden Rule: The Investment Theory of Party Competition and the Logic of Money-Driven Political Systems.

Vice just ran an interview with Ferguson: “Dark Money, Not Russia, May Be the Best Way to Explain Trump’s Win.” The interview is largely based on a new in-depth working paper and analysis of the role money played in 2016 Ferguson co-authored with Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen, “Industrial Structure and Party Competition in an Age of Hunger Games: Donald Trump and the 2016 Presidential Election.” [PDF]

A central finding of the paper: “In the final weeks of the campaign, a giant wave of dark money flowed into the campaign. Because it was dark the identity of the donors is shrouded. But our scrutiny of past cases where court litigation brought to light the true contributors suggests that most of this money probably came from the same types of firms that show up in the published listings. In our data, the sudden influx of money from private equity and hedge funds clearly began with the Convention but turned into a torrent only after [Steve] Bannon and [Kellyanne] Conway took over. We are interested to see that after the election some famous private equity managers who do not appear in the visible roster of campaign donors showed up prominently around the President. …

“In the end, total spending on behalf of Trump from all sources totaled slightly more than $861 million — within reasonable hailing distance of the Clinton campaign’s $1.4 billion (including Super PACs, etc.), especially considering how late serious fundraising efforts started.”

The paper also notes: “Bolstering suspicions that a wave of last minute money might actually be the most basic explanation for the Clinton collapse is a fact that virtually no analysts have reflected upon: Her late October fall in the polls was not unique. Democratic chances of taking the Senate unraveled virtually in lock step. … The notion that [James] Comey or even the Russians could be responsible for both collapses is outlandish. Something else must in large part have driven both outcomes. Parallel waves of money is the obvious explanation and our data show that both occurred precisely in the relevant time period. … For the first time in the entire history of the United States, the partisan outcome of Senate races coincided perfectly with the results of every state’s presidential balloting.”

Regarding the alleged role of Russia, the paper notes: “Breitbart and other organizations were in fact going global, opening offices abroad and establishing contacts with like-minded groups elsewhere. Whatever the Russians were up to, they could hardly hope to add much value to the vast Made in America bombardment already underway. … The Senate Intelligence Committee hearings produced truly microscopic numbers for putative Russian efforts directed at the key battleground states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan: For Wisconsin, $1,979, with all but $54 dollars of this spent during the primary. …

“With no publicity, the tech giants — Google, Facebook, Twitter — were all trying to muscle in on the richly rewarding arena of campaign consulting. Their aim was not to ‘weaponize’ internet ads, in the ominous sounding term that analysts of Russian internet now throw around – their interest lay in monetizing them, just as they have restlessly tried to do in everything they engage in.”

Meanwhile, the Clinton “campaign sought to capitalize on the angst within business by vigorously courting the doubtful and undecideds there, not in the electorate. The result is evident in our Table 7, in which — with the possible exception of 1964 — the Clinton campaign looks like no other Democratic campaign since the New Deal. The Clinton campaign reached far into sectors and firms that have rarely supported any Democrat. …

“With respect to the Sanders campaign, these tables show something we are confident is without precedent in American politics not just since the New Deal, but across virtually the whole of American history, waiving the dubious case of the legendary 1896 election: a major presidential candidate waging a strong, highly competitive campaign whose support from big business is essentially zero.”

[Note: The independent journalist Robert Parry, who did ground-breaking work on Iran-Contra and other major stories and founded Consortiumnews, died on Saturday. See piece by his son and co-author, Nat Parry.]

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