Media

John Whitehead – Television, Football and Politics: Gaming Spectacles Designed to Keep the Police State in Power

February 3, 2016

When a population becomes distracted by trivia, when cultural life is redefined as a perpetual round of entertainments, when serious public conversation becomes a form of baby-talk, when, in short, a people become an audience and their public business a vaudeville act, then a nation finds itself at risk; a culture-death is a clear possibility. — Professor Neil Postman If there are two spectacles that are almost guaranteed to render Americans passive viewers, incapable of doing little more than cheering on their respective teams, it’s football and politics–specifically, the Super Bowl and the quadrennial presidential election. Both football and politics encourage zealous devotion among their followers, both create manufactured divisions that alienate one group of devotees from another, and both result in a strange sort of tunnel vision that leaves the viewer oblivious to anything else going on around them apart from the “big game.” Read

Adam Johnson – Media Attacking Single-Payer Are Getting Paid Under Current Health System

February 1, 2016

With the first nomination contest only two days away, the corporate media reaction to Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly strong campaign, while not reaching Jeremy Corbyn-level hysteria, has reached a noticeable panic—one marked by let’s-not-upset-the-base qualified criticism and exquisitely curated concern-trolling. The most cynical argument being advanced is that Sanders’ support for a single-payer health program is a pie-in-the-sky fantasy, in contrast to the pragmatic incrementalism promised by Hillary Clinton. Seth Ackerman over atJacobin wrote a goodbreakdown Monday of these attacks, detailing why the gatekeeper left media’s handwringing over Sanders’ single-payer proposal is disingenuous ideology-policing rather than an objective analysis based on the actual policy merits of the plan. The arguments being made by critics—specifically  Ezra Klein and Matthew Yglesias at Vox, and by the Washington Post—basically boil down to two objections: Sanders’ single-payer proposal is not “realistic” and too “vague.” Read

This Is What Happens To Humans When They Are Exposed To Too Much Lead

January 28, 2016

In his State of the State address Tuesday night, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder apologized for his handling of the Flint water crisis, which has left tens of thousands of residents without drinkable water. “To you, the people of Flint, I say tonight as I have before, I’m sorry and I will fix it,” Snyder said near the beginning of his speech. “Government failed you at the federal, state and local level.” But an apology doesn’t change the health effects that Flint residents are seeing as a result of the elevated levels of lead in their water — effects they may continue to see far into the future. The change in the city’s water supply has already been recognized as a possible source for a recent outbreak of Legionnaire’s disease, which claimed the lives of ten people between June 2014 and November 2015. Read

Has PBS Become a Front for Big Pharma?

January 27, 2016

A PBS Frontline documentary argues that supplements are useless—relying on “expert testimony” from paid Pharma representatives. Last week, PBS’s Frontline aired an hour-long program titled “Supplements and Safety.” Jointly produced by Frontline, the New York Times, and the Canadian Broadcasting Commission, the program was clearly intended to leave viewers with the one-sided impression that dietary supplements are unregulated, unsafe—and that ultimately you, the consumer, should not have the right to stay healthy in a manner of your choosing. There is too much to comment on in this corrupt documentary. But we’ll address a few key points. Read

People Trust Search Engines More than Traditional Media for News

January 22, 2016

This sounds good … but remember that the NSA and its British counter-part the GCHQ MASSIVELY manipulate the web – including making some websites artificially popular and others less so – to spread their influence and promote their agendas. And everyone obtains different search engine results … even if they run the exact same search.  For example, Google gathers information across all of its platforms, and personalizes search engine results based upon what you’ve looked for in past searches. So search engine results are not totally objective … they are based upon our past expressions of interest. And some even question whether the search engine companies themselves are really as neutral as they claim.  We express no opinion on that topic, other than to note it. Read

Ian Sample – Stephen Hawkings: Most threats to humans come from science and technology, warns Hawking

January 20, 2016

The human race faces one its most dangerous centuries yet as progress in science and technology becomes an ever greater threat to our existence, Stephen Hawking warns. The chances of disaster on planet Earth will rise to a near certainty in the next one to ten thousand years, the eminent cosmologist said, but it will take more than a century to set up colonies in space where human beings could live on among the stars. “We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period,” Hawking said. His comments echo those of Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, who raised his own concerns about the risks of self-annihilation in his 2003 book Our Final Century. Read

Glenn Greenwald – Al Jazeera America Terminates All TV and Digital Operations

January 15, 2016

xecutives of Al Jazeera America (AJAM) held a meeting at 2 p.m. Eastern Time to tell their employees that the company is terminating all news and digital operations in the U.S. as of April 2016, resulting in the loss of hundreds of jobs. The announcement marks a stunning and rapid collapse of what, from the start, has been a towering failure. AJAM began when Al Jazeera purchased Current TV in late 2012 from founder Al Gore for $500 million, and the channel launched six months later. From the start, the project was beset with massive failures, from bitter internal strife andemployee discrimination lawsuits to minuscule ratings and distribution failures. AJAM and Gore ended up in a protracted, embittered lawsuit with one another. Ratings were so low as to be almost unquantifiable; even by 2015, the network wasaveraging a tiny 30,000 viewers in prime-time and at some points had literally a zero rating in the key 25-54 demographic. Read

Isaiah J. Poole – Millennials in Poll Fake Right, Go Left

January 14, 2016

At first glance, a poll released this week by USA Today and Rock the Vote, done by Ipsos, seems to confound our narrative that a majority of millennials identify more with progressives than conservatives. In fact, when asked that question point-blank when it comes to economic policy, 38 percent of respondents in the poll identified as conservative to some degree, while 34 percent identified as liberal. But there are several signs in the poll that a progressive policy agenda would win much broader support among millennials than what would be indicated by how they identified themselves ideologically. (See our Populist Majority website for how other polls have measured national support for progressive policies.) Read

Social networks as important as exercise and diet across the span of our lives

January 14, 2016

The more social ties people have at an early age, the better their health is at the beginnings and ends of their lives, a new study suggests. Researchers say the study is the first to definitively link social relationships with concrete measures of physical well-being such as abdominal obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure, all of which are associated with long-term health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and cancer. “Based on these findings, it should be as important to encourage adolescents and young adults to build broad social relationships and social skills for interacting with others as it is to eat healthy and be physically active,” says Kathleen Mullan Harris, professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Read

Peter Van Buren – Police are Calculating Your ‘Threat Score’ to Decide How to Treat You

January 13, 2016

I watched a documentary about North Korea which explained how the government there assigns a score to each citizen, based on how large a threat to the regime s/he is perceived to be. When I lived in Taiwan under a military government years ago, such a number was encoded into every national ID card. Those citizens every interaction with the government and police force was shadowed by those scores. Same as in 21st century post-Constitutional America. Even as our nation learned more about how our daily lives are cataloged by the National Security Agency, a new generation of technology is being used by local law enforcement that offers them unprecedented power to peer into the lives of citizens. Ominously, software that is part of such systems, assigns each citizen monitored a Threat Score, allegedly to alert cops enroute to a crime scene of what to expect of the once-innocent-until-proven-guilty citizen they will encounter. Read
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