The Lonely American By Chris Hedges

June 30, 2015

Michael P. Printup, president of Watkins Glen International, one of the country’s largest racetracks, stood with a group of about a dozen race fans at 8:30 a.m. Saturday. Next to him were boxes of free doughnuts and coffee. A line of men with towels, who had spent the night in nearby RV campers, pop-up campers and tents, stood patiently outside the door to a shower room. A light drizzle, one that would turn into a torrential downpour and lead to the races being canceled in the afternoon, coated the group, all middle-aged or older white men. They were discussing, amid the high-pitched whine of cars practicing on the 3.4-mile, 11-turn circuit racetrack, the aging demographic of race fans and the inability to lure a new generation to the sport. “Maybe if you installed chargers for phones around the track they would come,” suggested one gray-haired man. But it is not just sporting events. Public lectures, church services, labor unions, Veterans of Foreign Wars halls, Masonic halls, Rotary clubs, the Knights of Columbus, the Lions Club, Grange Hall meetings, the League of Women Voters, Daughters of the American Revolution, local historical societies, town halls, bowling leagues, bridge clubs, movie theater attendance

Bill Gates is celebrated in the media for the same pandemic warnings that get other people labeled ‘kooks’ by J. D. Heyes

June 29, 2015

What does the world’s richest man fear most? Something that, were someone in the alternative media to utter it, would invite ridicule and disdain. Yet few in the mainstream media bat an eye or bother to raise doubts when Microsoft founder Bill Gates says his biggest fear is a global pandemic that could swallow nations and kill tens of millions of people. In a recent interview with Vox‘s Ezra Klein, Gates ticked off several scenarios he summarily rated as likely or unlikely to occur in his lifetime that could kill at least 10 million people. Things like a “big volcanic explosion, gigantic earthquake [or] asteroid” hitting the planet – he once believed they might be likely, but now he rates their risk as “very low.” What about war? There is always the fear of war, and especially nuclear war – but Gates said he doesn’t really worry much about that, because it is just something that is always lurking out there. Pandemics everywhere However, he does believe that there is something looming that will be every bit as bad as a major war – and it’s something he does not believe the world is ready for. “Look at the death chart of the

The Refusal to Call the Charleston Shootings “Terrorism” Again Shows It’s a Meaningless Propaganda Term By Glenn Greenwald

June 22, 2015

n February 2010, a man named Joseph Stack deliberately flew his small airplane into the side of a building that housed a regional IRS office in Austin, Texas, just as 200 agency employees were starting their workday. Along with himself, Stack killed an IRS manager and injured 13 others. Stack was an anti-tax, anti-government fanatic, and chose his target for exclusively political reasons. He left behind a lengthy manifesto cogently setting forth his largely libertarian political views (along with, as I wrote at the time, some anti-capitalist grievances shared by the left, such as “rage over bailouts, the suffering of America’s poor, and the pilfering of the middle class by a corrupt economic elite and their government-servants”; Stack’s long note ended: “the communist creed: From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. The capitalist creed: From each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed”). About Stack’s political grievances, his manifesto declared that “violence not only is the answer, it is the only answer.” The attack had all of the elements of iconic terrorism, a model for how it’s most commonly understood: down to flying a plane into the side of a building. But Stack was white and non-Muslim. As a result, not only was the word “terrorism”

Mainstream Journalists: Immune from Accountability if they Run with the Pack By Robert Parry

June 18, 2015

In my four decades in national journalism – I started at the Associated Press in 1974 – I have grown increasingly concerned about how Americans respond to information, or put differently, how propagandists package their messaging to elicit the desired response. In an age of cynicism, the trick is to get the “big ha-ha!” – convincing you to laugh at the target whether deserved or not. The way the process works is to first generate hatred or contempt toward a person or group and then produce “themes” that make the target a subject of ridicule and derision, demonized to such an extent that pretty much anything goes. Some of this behavior might seem relatively harmless but it can lead to serious unfairness, injustice, even war. In 2000, I took heat from some colleagues for objecting to the “big ha-ha!” being directed at Vice President Al Gore. It had reached the point where the mainstream media even made up fictional quotes to put in Gore’s mouth – like “I invented the Internet” – so he could be mocked in favor of the much cooler George W. Bush, who rewarded favored journalists with pet nicknames. Read

Mindless Entertainment While Awaiting the Next Mass Extinction by LOUIS PROYECT

June 15, 2015

Hard on the heels of “Mad Max: Fury Road”, George Miller’s attempt to exploit the success of his previous three films in this series, come “Poltergeist” and “Jurassic World”, retreads of two vintage films with a Stephen Spielberg imprint and playing at your local Multiplex (“Jurassic World” opens everywhere tomorrow). Spielberg wrote the screenplay for “Poltergeist” in 1982 and directed “Jurassic Park” in 1993. Haven’t had your fill of remakes? Then put “Terminator Genisys” on your to-see list. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role (you were expecting Ryan Gosling maybe?), you would have to adopt a suspension of disbelief to regard this 67-year old actor of being capable of terminating anything except an appointment with his urologist. In technical terms, some in the film industry distinguish between remakes and reboots (or retools). A remake is fairly close to the original, like Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” while the other approach involves a new interpretation entirely—the most egregious case being the monumentally stupid “47 Ronin”, a travesty that starred Keanu Reeves as the leader of a samurai suicide mission. The only suicide worth considering is that risked by a serious film buff as a reaction to this CGI-laden mess that includes

American Journalism’s Ideology: Why the ‘Liberal’ Media Is Fundamentalist – Robert Jensen

June 12, 2015

Note: The memo below is my response to an editor at a U.S. news organization who was soliciting feedback for a review of the organization’s coverage of environmental news. From a conservative point of view, this newsroom is part of the “liberal media.” My goal in the memo was to step back from that superficial, diversionary label and evaluate the deeper ideological commitments that shape mainstream news. Evaluation of a news media outlet’s coverage of a subject often focuses on a critique of how stories are covered, suggestions for how stories can be improved, and ideas for stories that currently aren’t being covered. Such an evaluation of XYZ’s environmental coverage would be useful, but it also is crucial to consider more basic questions about the ideological framework in which the coverage goes forward. Talk of journalism’s ideology typically meets resistance, given that journalists routinely assert that they are non-ideological. If “ideology” is defined as a rigid, even fanatical, devotion to a set of ideas no matter what the evidence, then it is a good thing for journalists (and everyone else) to avoid ideology. But if ideology is understood as the set of social attitudes, political beliefs, and moral values that

What This World Needs is Some Really Honest Journalists by RAMZY BAROUD

June 11, 2015

Writing about and reporting the Middle East is not an easy task, especially during these years of turmoil and upheaval. But I cannot remember another time in recent history we needed journalists to shine, to challenge conventional wisdom, to think in terms of contexts, motives, alliances, not ideological, political or financial interests. From the start, when addressing the issue of the Middle East, the actual entity of “Middle East” is itself highly questionable. It is arbitrary, and can only be understood within proximity to some other entity, Europe, which colonial endeavors imposed such classifications on the rest of the word. Colonial Europe was the center of the globe and everything else was measured in physical and political distance from the dominating continent. Western interests in the region never waned. In fact, following US-led wars on Iraq (1990-91), a decade-long blockade, followed by a massive war and invasion (2003), the “Middle East” is back at the center of neocolonial activities, colossal western economic interests, strategic and political maneuvering. To question the term “Middle East” is to become conscious of the colonial history, and the enduringly fierce economic and political competition, which is felt in every fact of life in the region.


June 11, 2015

A fascinating sociological experiment unfolds before our eyes starting this morning, as the Washington Post unveils its new “PowerPost” vertical, subtitled “Intelligence for Leaders.” Post publisher Fred Ryan, in a memo to the Post newsroom leaked to Politico, said the new project would focus “on the subjects that matter most to the people at the center of power.” What we can learn, therefore, is what the editors of the Washington Post, themselves of course among the powerful, think their fellow powerful people are interested in. If I had a captive audience of powerful people, mind you, I would expose them relentlessly to the stories of the powerless — the people being squashed by their precious status quo, the people scraping by at wrong end of the playing field the powerful have tilted so steeply, the people going to schools to which the powerful would never dream of sending their children. But of course the Washington Post’s goal here is not to bum out the powerful, or teach them humility; it is to attract them, coddle them and fulfill their needs. It is hardly a coincidence that the person announcing the launch of PowerPost was publisher Ryan, the former Reagan administration official and co-founder of Politico whom Amazon owner Jeff Bezos put in loco

We Need Lots More Women in Media, New Study Finds By Kali Holloway

June 9, 2015

The Women’s Media Center issued its annual study on The Status of Women in U.S. Media [3], which examines how women are represented across multiple media platforms, including “news, literature, broadcast, film, television, radio, online, tech, gaming and social media.” Titled “Divided 2015: The Media Gender Gap,” the investigation found that women, who make up more than half of the country’s population, are woefully underrepresented in most media formats. While the report notes that there were modest gains in a few areas, at nearly every level, from creation to fulfilment, the voices of women, as well as those of people of color, aren’t being heard in numbers comparable to their percentage of the population. The figures offer a stark reminder that there’s tremendous work to be done to achieve gender parity in media, an institution which shapes and defines much of our cultural landscape. For example, just 37.3 percent of news is generated by women, compared with 62.1 percent of news which is generated by men. In terms of evening broadcast news, the numbers—which tallied appearances by anchors as well as correspondents—are even more troubling: women are on camera just 32 percent of the time, while men appear on camera 68 percent

Fox News: A Crackpot Network That Doesn’t Recognize America. By Joan Walsh

June 8, 2015

Megyn Kelly and Howard Kurtz are mad at me. Or at least, people like me. They’re angry at the “liberal media,” [2] which they claim turned the sad story of the Duggar family sex abuse scandal [3] into a “red-blue” issue, in the words of Kelly. That’s hilarious. First of all, the Duggars made themselves a political issue when they became political activists, endorsing [4] ever more right-wing candidates, [5] crusading to deny LGBT people their rights, and accusing transgender folks of being “child predators.”  [6]The Duggars’ rights weren’t being infringed. No one tried to stop them from having 19 kids and counting. I might make the case, now, that they had too many kids to care for properly, given the repeat abuse by son Josh of four of his sisters, including a five-year-old. I might make the case that their fundamentalist patriarchal view of family pathologizes normal sexual urges while making young women the property of their parents and then their husbands. But no one in authority judged them, or tried to stop them, or suggested parenting classes, or made sure their sons were being supervised and their daughters protected. Now it’s Fox that’s trying to make the Duggars’ troubles a political issue, and it’s more evidence of how badly Roger Ailes has
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