Media

WATCH: Jon Stewart 'Doubles Down' on Sean Hannity Feud

Alternet - Media Culture - 1 hour 24 min ago
"I just can't believe that in this day and age, with all that we know, this sh** is out there."

On last night's Daily Show, host Jon Stewart hit back at Sean Hannity after the Fox host claimed that Stewart was "obsessed with him"

Stewart replied that he, in fact, was obsessed with Hannity's program, in much of the same way that he's "obsessed with antibiotic resistant superbugs, the Pacific garbage patch, or the KFC Double Down."

On Tuesday, Hannity attempted to mock Stewart after the Comedy Central Host called Hannity out for his vapid support of rancher Cliven Bundy. Hannity showed a video of Stewart onstage at a rally with Yusef Islam (nee rock star Cat Stevens). Islam once said he supported a fatwah against author Salman Rusdie after the publication of "The Satanic Verses" in 1988. 

"Correct, Mr. Hannity, mistake. I should have looked into it more, I should have known better," admitted Stewart. "I'm just not sure you're the best guy to make the guilt-by-musician-association point." The show then cut to a video of rock guitarist Ted Nugent holding an automatic weapon and suggesting gun violence against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. After the playing of the clip, Hannity called Nugent a "friend and frequent guest" on his program. 

Watch the Comedy Central video below:

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Health Care Experts Rip Ben Carson's "Near Worthless" Health Care Plan

Alternet - Media Culture - 3 hours 15 min ago
Carson's skill as a surgeon does not imply an elevated perspective on the economics of health care.

Health care policy experts are speaking out against Dr. Ben Carson's proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act with a healthcare savings account and $2,000 annual federal stipend, calling it "near worthless" and a plan "for the very rich."

Carson, a retired neurosurgeon and Fox News contributor, is beloved by conservatives for his vitriolic attacks on Obamacare. He has received a raft of recent media attention due to the strong fundraising totals posted by the independent National Draft Ben Carson political action campaign, which promotes a Carson 2016 presidential run.

In an interview with Politico Magazine, Carson says that he supports eliminating Obamacare and that under his plan, "The only responsibility of the government would be providing $2,000 per year for every American citizen -- around $630 billion annually, about 20 percent of what we currently spend on health care -- to provide everyone with a health savings account." 

Carson says the current health care system has created "generation upon generation of people who just live that way, waiting for government handouts."

But as Politico Magazine notes, while Carson's celebrated medical record "puts weight behind his criticisms of Obamacare," his acknowledged skill as a surgeon "does not imply an elevated or even rational perspective on health-care policy."

Indeed, several experts who have studied and formulated health care reforms told Media Matters that the plan, if implemented, could have devastating consequences for millions of Americans.

"For a person who has serious health problems or for a person who has a low income, a $2,000 health care savings account is worthless, or near worthless" said Timothy Jost, professor of law at Washington and Lee University who specializes in health care regulation and law. "It would not either allow them to buy health insurance or allow them to afford health care or anything other than very routine primary care and some medications."

"I wouldn't mind the government giving me $2,000 for a health savings account because I have great health insurance from my employer," Jost added. "I'm sure if you are a doctor at Johns Hopkins, this is a great idea. You have $2,000 in your pocket. But if you are from the wrong side of Baltimore, it is not going to help very much. It is not going to help you get insurance and not cover more than basic primary care."

Jonathan Gruber, a health economics expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who advised both Gov. Mitt Romney and President Obama on their health care plans, echoed Jost's concerns, calling Carson's approach "just a plan for the very rich who would not be discriminated against by the insurance market."

"It's not really insurance," he added. "It is leaving you self-insured for any risk above $2,000. The typical heart attack in the U.S. can cost about $100,000. This is typical of the poverty of ideas on the right on health care right now."

Carolyn Engelhard, assistant professor of public health sciences and director of the Health Policy Program at the University of Virginia, agreed.

"There are some good things to be said about health savings accounts, but the downside is that they're applied across the board," she said. "If someone is low-income but has a lot of medical bills, they are going to have more out of pocket costs than someone who, say, makes $100,000 and is healthy. It is a blunt instrument, it does reduce unnecessary care, but the bad thing is that if the $2,000 is exceeded and your deductible is $6,000, you may not have that extra $4,000 that is needed and go without needed heath care."

Calling herself a "lukewarm fan" of the Affordable Care Act, Engelhard added that "people who choose HSA's are healthier and have more money to put in their HSA's." But, she added, if you make $8 per hour "you don't have enough to pay your bills, let alone put extra money into an HSA. Just giving people an HSA and telling them to be smarter about spending is an overly-simplistic method. It won't work well."

Sabrina Corlette, a senior research fellow at the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms, agreed that the $2,000 would simply not be enough.

"For starters, it wouldn't come close to covering the cost of health insurance," she said. "The annual average cost for a family is $15,000 per year, and $8,000 or $9,000 for an individual. It's not going to go very far. You are still left with the problem of people not being able to afford health care and people would not be able to get coverage no matter how much they have if they have a pre-existing condition, or be charged more if you have a condition."

She called it a "$2,000 handout that doesn't get us very far and doesn't solve many of the systemic problems we have, or improve access to coverage or improve people's health."

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Is NYT Walking Back 'Russia' Photos Scoop?

FAIR Blog - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 9:14pm
The New York Times published a big front-page scoop documenting Russian special forces operating in Ukraine. And then they published a correction--of sorts.
Categories: Media

'Free Trade' Doesn't Need a Debate in the Washington Post

FAIR Blog - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 1:28pm
The Washington Post editorializes in favor of secretive corporate-friendly trade arrangements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). But news coverage can put its thumb on the scales in favor of the pro-TPP side too.
Categories: Media

WATCH: Martin Sheen Stars in Powerful New PSA Calling for Drug Sentencing Reform

Alternet - Media Culture - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 10:38am
The actor and his 'West Wing' alter ego have a clear message for Congress and President Obama. On Tuesday, Brave New Films released a new PSA calling on Congress to pass the Smarter Sentencing Act. The proposed sentencing-reform legislation aims to reduce prison populations and costs by creating less severe minimum terms for nonviolent drug offenders. (On Monday,Yahoo News reported that President Obama could grant clemency to "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of nonviolent drug offenders by the end of his second term.) The video was produced in partnership with the ACLU and Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), and stars actor Martin Sheen. It's titled "President Bartlet has a message for Congress," in reference to Sheen's role on Aaron Sorkin's political drama The West Wing.Watch it here:     "When BNF joined with FAMM and the ACLU to rally support for the Smart Sentencing Act, we couldn't think of a better spokesperson than Martin Sheen," Brave New Films president Robert Greenwald said. "When he portrayed President Bartlett on The West Wing, his character commuted the sentences of nonviolent drug offenders. In the real world, Martin Sheen has been an advocate for sentencing reform and alternatives to the harsh, long prison sentences we give to nonviolent drug offenders."Sheen isn't the only one in Hollywood trying to raise awareness about this. Last year, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson starred in the drama Snitch, a film about a father who reunites with his estranged son after the kid is thrown in prison due to draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws. The film is based on a 1999 episode of PBS' Frontline titled, "Snitch: How Informants Have Become a Key Part of Prosecutorial Strategy in the Drug War." (FAMM teamed up with Participant Media, the production company behind the film, to createawareness about the issues of mandatory-minimum drug sentencing.) Now here's a clip of Sheen as Bartlet on the West Wing, talking about the failing War on Drugs and the American preison population:   

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VIDEO: Jon Stewart Rips Media's Sexism Over Clinton 'Grandma' News

Alternet - Media Culture - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 9:39am
'The news media has set the 2016 speculatron.'

Jon Stewart tore into the searingly obvious media and Republican sexism surrounding the announcement that Hillary Clinton will become a grandmother later this year. After showing a barrage of clips of talking heads asking what effect Cllinton's new status wil have on her likely campaign or possible presidency, Stewart asked, rhetorically, "Do you think the question might be sexist?" Then he answered his own question: "No, no, even though it's never been posed to a male candidate."

A quick review of recent history makes the point that in 2012, a grandfather to a "litter of grandchildren," Mitt Romney, lost to someone who has never been a grandfather. "Somehow, the grandchild factor never came up," Stewart said. This despite the fact that Romney has a virtual "grandchild petting zoo."

While Hillary is the latest example of media and political double standards, Stewart also mentioned Sen. Dianne Feinstein being called "emotional" for wanting the CIA torture reports released, and Chris Christie's fired aide Bridget Kelly being described as having "boyfriend problems" in a Bridgegate report.

Stewart's conclusion: In politics, "It's okay to be a p*ssy as long as you have a d*ck."

Watch:

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Airbnb’s Big Bait-and-Switch

Alternet - Media Culture - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 5:55pm
The popular sharing economy pioneer responds to political pressure by purging its listings.

Airbnb was in court in New York on Tuesday, battling with the state attorney general over the question of how much information about its “hosts” the company should be required to reveal to the state. The case has attracted much attention, because New York is simultaneously one of Airbnb’s biggest markets, and its most fiercely fought battleground with regulators. There’s plenty at stake — not least of which is Airbnb’s brand-new $10 billion valuation, following a $500 million round of investment that closed last week. In 2013, Airbnb pulled in $250 million in revenue from its thousands of hosts. That’s real money.

Real money, in the “sharing” economy.

Airbnb and its advocates argue, with some justice, that the current laws regulating short-term rentals are outmoded and don’t fit the new business models nurtured by cloud computing and smartphones. That’s undoubtedly true, though as the New York Times’ David Streitfeld wrote in a smart piece on Tuesday, the regulatory mess is at least partially the result of the fact that for “sharing economy” companies, “questions about safety, taxes and regulation have tended to be an afterthought.” Silicon Valley sees no problem with breaking the law first, and then lobbying to fix it later.

A “crowd-funded” ad organized by Peers.org, an outfit that advocates for sharing economy companies and was co-founded by an executive of Airbnb, declares that “we’re asking lawmakers for more sharing, not less. We want to play by the rules, but New York needs laws that are safe, fair, and clear. Support sharing. Fix the law.”

It would be nice if the Peers ad clarified that in the case of Airbnb, “sharing” actually means “short-term rentals,” but that horse left the barn a long time ago. Whatever we call  what happens when one person rents out living space to another, there is little doubt that there is significant political support, particularly among younger people, for a regulatory structure that is more friendly to how Airbnb conducts business. In Silver Lake, a Los Angeles neighborhood that has been witnessing its own Airbnb regulatory showdown, a slate of supporters of Airbnb rentals won election to a neighborhood council last week.

But everyone agitating for laws more friendly to Airbnb should take a closer look at some of the details of the New York legal struggle. In the New York Times, Streitfeld points out that when the state attorney general’s office investigated exactly who was posting listings on the Airbnb platform, it discovered a funny thing.

On Jan. 31, there were 19,522 listings for New York City properties on Airbnb from 15,677 hosts, according to data the attorney general submitted to the court. But nearly a third of the listings were from only 12 percent of the hosts.

One Airbnb landlord had 127 listings in Manhattan on a single weekend last fall. Sixteen other landlords had at least 15 listings each.

By no stretch of the imagination can this be properly considered the “sharing economy.” The data prove that nearly a third of Airbnb’s New York listings were generated by landlords who were cashing in on the ability to make a profit from offering short-term hotel rentals without having to pay the normal costs borne by the hotel sector — taxes, safety compliance and so on.

Now, if I were one of the people mobilized by Peers.org to contact my congressional representative or state senator to lobby for laws more accommodating to Airbnb, I might look at those numbers and wonder what, exactly, I’ve been supporting.

Airbnb responded to the data with a purge. On Sunday, Airbnb’s director of public policy, David Hantman, noted in a blog post that the company was rushing to clean up its listings.

But when we examined our community in New York, we found that some property managers weren’t providing a quality, local experience to guests. These hosts weren’t making their neighborhood stronger and they weren’t delivering the kind of hospitality our guests expect and deserve. In some cases, they were making communities worse, not better. We took a hard look at our community in New York to identify these hosts and we took action.

Earlier this year, we began notifying these hosts that they and their more than 2,000 listings would be permanently removed from the Airbnb community. While we are allowing these hosts to support their existing bookings, all are now prohibited from accepting new reservations and if you search for a place to stay in New York, you won’t find these listings.

Fair enough. But let’s not be naive. Would Airbnb be engaging in a mass cleanup of its listings if it hadn’t been on the receiving end of close government scrutiny? Remember — New York is one of Airbnb’s largest markets and the company raked in revenue of $250 million in 2013. A significant chunk of that revenue must have come from absentee landlords maximizing their income from multiple properties. That’s real money, and Airbnb was happy to accept it … until it became politically unfeasible to do so.

Why is any of this important? Because it’s worth understanding that over the last couple of years, when Airbnb has rallied political support for its business model by declaring, flat out, that it is pioneering a better way for humans to relate to each other, that it has been building trust between strangers and helping people struggling in a tough economy earn some extra dollars, and that “sharing” a room is somehow morally better than paying for a hotel room, what the company has also been doing is making quite a bit of money off absentee landlords who have been exploiting its platform to offer hotel-like services without conforming to hotel regulations. And it seems pretty clear, in the New York case, that the company didn’t start seriously cleaning up its listings until real political pressure was brought to bear.

Airbnb provides a service that people clearly want. It is inevitable that the rules will be modified to provide room for its operations. Cloud computing and smartphones allow for much more efficient allocation and coordination of resources, and the existing hotel industry will be forced to adapt. That’s cool.

But we’ve also been told, repeatedly, that we should trust the sharing economy to regulate itself, because, somehow, it will be in the market’s best interest not to misbehave. But the record shows that the short-term rental economy will not regulate itself; that it will, instead, seek to make as much money as it can while the getting is good. Until someone pays attention.

 

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Obama's 'Manhood Problem'–and Media's Humanity Problem

FAIR Blog - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 4:11pm
David Brooks says the Middle East thinks Obama has a "manhood" problem.
Categories: Media

In Yemen, Drones Don't Kill Innocents

FAIR Blog - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 2:45pm
There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about reports about the military strikes in Yemen.
Categories: Media

READ: Pulitzer-Winning Book "Toms River" Links Toxic Dumping to Cancer

Democracy Now! - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 12:59pm

Watch our interview with author, Dan Fagin and read an excerpt from his book, "Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation," which won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction, for exposing the story of how a small town in New Jersey was ravaged by industrial pollution.

Excerpted from TOMS RIVER by Dan Fagin. Copyright © 2013 by Dan Fagin. Used by permission of Batam Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

Categories: Media

To David Brooks, Revealing Government Crimes Is 'Repellent, Unpatriotic'

FAIR Blog - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 11:33am
Pundit David Brooks reacts to the Pulitzers: "I'm a little made nervous by the fact that [reporters] really did benefit by what I think of as a repellent, unpatriotic act."
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WATCH: Jon Stewart Skewers Fox for 'Welfare Rancher' Cliven Bundy Hypocrisy

Alternet - Media Culture - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 8:34am
'Sean Hannity has made Glenn Beck the voice of reason.'

Jon Stewart returned from vacation Monday night to marvel at the armed standoff that millionaire, nut-case rancher Cliven Bundy has threatened, and the fact that a man who denies the existence of the federal government has been elevated to folk-hero status by . . . yeupp, Sean Hannity.

In a segment called "Apocalypse Cow," the late night comedian easily demonstrated Hannity's hypocrisy when it comes to which law-breakers he approves of, and which he does not. Hannity has fawned all over Bundy for refusing to pay modest grazing fees for the right to graze his cattle on federally-owned land, because Bundy is helping to keep the price of beef down for his fellow Americans. "Yes, most goods are cheaper when you steal the raw materials to make them," Stewart noted.

Hannity has beat up on atheists, protesters and immigration activists on his show in the past, arguing that they have been on the wrong side the law, which is a no-no for the Fox News host. Unless of course, you vote as he does. He also famously beat up on the supposed California surfer living on welfare for "stealing" from the taxpayers. But he seems to have no such condemnation for the "welfare rancher."

Even Glenn Beck has gone on the record as saying that grazing fees are a reasonable price to pay for raising cattle, prompting Stewart to say: "Sean Hannity has now made Glenn Beck the voice of reason."

Not an easy thing to do. Watch the whole hilarious segment:

 

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Three Reasons Why You Should Keep Gmail far Away from Your Credit Card Information

Alternet - Media Culture - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 4:03pm
Google’s plot for world domination now includes your credit cards.

Google wants your money. Or, more precisely, Google wants your bank account and credit card info.

At Quartz, Chris Mims reports that Google appears to be accelerating its roll-out of a service that will allow gmail users to send money via email to whomever they want as easily as sending an attachment. Sounds great — but wait, there’s more!

Here’s what’s brilliant about offering the “send money” feature: Google almost certainly doesn’t care whether you use it to send money. What it cares about is getting you to sign up to Google Wallet and capture your bank account and credit-card information. And it’s using Gmail, which has a reach comparable to that of Facebook—425 million as of June 2012, the last time Google released numbers—to do it.

Once Google has your payment info, it can then implement PayPal-like functionality throughout the Google universe — YouTube, search, Maps, you name it. Anywhere you travel online while logged into your Google Account, you will have the ability to click-and-pay.

I can easily see this becoming popular. But here are three reasons to be wary.

1) Your Gmail account is already a hugely tempting target for hackers. Adding your financial info to that account will make it irresistible.

2) Google’s ability to effectively target ads already gives it tremendous power to manipulate consumer behavior. Adding the instant gratification of easy-checkout to those ads will make the company even more powerful.

3) Google already knows far too much about what we want, what we do, where we go, and who we communicate with. Do we really want to complete the chain and give the company our most intimate financial information?

The question posed by Google — and, really, all online Web services. At what point does convenience become vulnerability?

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Huffington Post Uncritically Trumpets Obama-Republican Big Lie About the Syrian War

Alternet - Media Culture - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 12:49pm
HuffPo buys into the questionable assumption that the sarin gas attack came from Syrian government forces instead of from jihadist rebels.

On April 20th, Sabrina Siddiqui headlined at Huffington Post, "Bob Corker: 'Assad Was Wise' To Kill 1,200 With Chemical Weapons And 'Embarrass' The U.S." She didn't challenge the veracity of the Obama Administration's (and Republican Senator Corker’s) charge that the sarin gas attack came from Assad's forces instead of from jihadist rebels who were trying to oust Assad. But, evil though Assad is, that charge against him is a lie, which was definitively nailed down as such, by Seymour Hersh, on April 4th headlining at the London Review of Books, "The Red Line and the Rat Line: Seymour Hersh on Obama, Erdogan, and the Syrian Rebels." The gas attack was perpetrated by Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan's allies the jihadist al-Nusra rebels, who are allied in Syria with Al Qaeda, against Assad.

Earlier reports that had raised questions about Obama's lies on this matter were "George Washington" headlining 17 January 2014 at his blog, "Weapons Inspectors: Syrian Chemical Weapons Fired from Rebel-Held Territory"; Robert Parry at Consortium News on 23 December 2013, headlining, "UN Investigator Undercuts NYT on Syria"; and, even earlier, Matthew Schofield at McClatchy Newspapers on 21 August 2013, headlining, "New Analysis of Rocket Used in Syria Chemical Attack Undercuts U.S. Claims." The U.S. major "news" media have played along with the Obama lies on this (as on some other matters), just as they did with George W. Bush's lies about "Saddam's WMD" that didn't even exist, and that hadn't existed since 1998 when they were all destroyed (as I documented in my 2004 book, Iraq War: The Truth).

Actually, Michael Calderone at HuffPo had headlined on 8 December 2013, "New Yorker, Washington Post Passed On [i.e. Rejected] Seymour Hersh Syria Report." So, HuffPo had itself reported the major media's complicity with Obama's now-dubious claim, before HuffPo resumed spreading that lie on April 20th, even weeks after Hersh had finally nailed it down. However, back at that time, in December, the Hersh charge hadn't yet been nailed down. It was first reported by Hersh on 8 December 2013, also in LRB, under the headline "Whose Sarin?" But then it was only a question, not yet an answer.

Not until Hersh's subsequent 4 April 2014 report, "The Red Line and the Rat Line," was it actually nailed down, as an Obama-Republican lie.

The performance of the U.S. news-media regarding the Obama Administration's lie concerning this matter is no better than was their performance in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. And, similarly, the U.S. major "news" (or propaganda) media are carrying water for the Administration on Ukraine. (For that issue, see the links ending this article.)

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VIDEO: Watch Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's 1994 Speech About the American Justice System

Democracy Now! - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 11:56am

Below you can watch an extended version of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's passionate 1994 speech that was featured in Democracy Now!'s look back at his life and legacy. Carter was one of the most dynamic prizefighters in boxing's golden era and became an international symbol of racial injustice after his wrongful murder conviction forced him to spend 19 years in prison before he was exonerated. He died Sunday at the age of 76.

Click here to see Tuesday's segment featuring interviews with John Artis, Carter's co-defendant and close friend, who cared for him until his death; and Ken Klonsky, co-author of Carter's autobiography, Eye of the Hurricane: My Path from Darkness to Freedom, and director of media relations for Carter's group, Innocence International.

RUBIN CARTER: Thank you. Thank you for those kind words, Monique. Good evening, everybody. Good evening, every—hello out there!

It's a pleasure for me to be here at Queen's University. It truly is. In fact, given my history, as we've seen, it's a pleasure for me to be anywhere.

I've been invited here to speak, but I can tell you that speaking has not always been easy for me. For the first 18 years of my life, I had a terrible speech impediment. I couldn't talk. I stuttered badly. I couldn't say two clear words that made any sense to anybody else but me. And people laughed at me because of it. I felt stupid. You know, I really, really felt dumb. And when they laughed, the only sound they'd hear would be my fist whistling through the air. Do I hear laughter out there? My fists did my talking. Now, that stopped the laughter for a while, but it also got me into serious trouble, and it didn't solve the problem. I still couldn't talk.

Being stuck in a state of silence with all that frustration was my first experience of being locked away in a prison. You see, there are prisons, and there are prisons. They may look different, but they're all the same. They're all confining. They all limit your freedom. They all lock you away, grind you down and take a terrible toll on your self-esteem. There are prisons made of brick, steel and mortar. And then there are prisons without visible walls, prisons of poverty, illiteracy and racism. All too often, the people condemned to these metaphorical prisons—poverty, racism and illiteracy—end up doing double time. That is, they wind up in the physical prisons, as well. Our task, as reasonable, healthy, intelligent human beings, is to recognize the interconnectedness and the sameness of all these prisons, and then do something about them, because any kind of prison is no friend of mine. It brings out the hurricane in me.

So, my connection to imprisonment is obvious. But less apparent is the impact that literacy, reading and writing, books and words, have had on my life. There were years and years when books were my only friends. And because I was able to write my own book, The Sixteenth Round, and because Lesra, the young man you saw in the video, was literate enough to read it, I was literally set free. Now, that's the awesome power of the written word.

Both Lesra and I grew up in what can only be described as war zones, the Third World in the heart of the world's mightiest nation. Lesra's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood looked like Dresden after the Second World War—burnt-out buildings everywhere, rubble spilling out over the sidewalks, and the people's expressions reflecting the destitution of their surroundings. The first lesson Lesra had to learn was not his ABCs, but how to duck under the nearest parked car at the first sound of a loud noise—gunfire. He never knew whether he would survive the trip to school or from school; nevertheless, he went there every day.

And he thought he was doing well. He stood third, as we heard, in his grade 10 Brooklyn class of 40—third out of 40. He was an honors student. But what was he risking his life for? The fact is that at age 15 Lesra literally couldn't read or write. And nobody gave a damn. As we heard Lesra say, had he not met his Canadian friends and been brought to Canada and properly educated, his future would have been just a tad different. There were three options open to him, living in the ghetto: to be strung out on drugs, to be killed on the street or to be locked up in jail. Not exactly a broad range of career opportunities. Do you know that the most common cause of death of all young black Americans is murder, that one out of every four young black men in America is under the control of the criminal justice system? One out of four—that's outrageous. There are more black men in U.S. prisons than there are in its universities.

What were Lesra's chances? Lesra's chances in life were determined not by his abilities, but by an accident of birth. And I'm not talking about genetics here. I'm talking about social geography. I'm talking about people who, because of an accident of birth, are denied the kind of quality most people in the United States and Canada not only take for granted, but claim as their birthright. Lesra's dream as a young boy was to become a lawyer. Now, he didn't exactly know what lawyers did, but he did know that lawyers made a great deal of money when people were in trouble. And in his world, everybody was always in trouble. But Lesra was going to need a lawyer long before he ever had the ability to become one.

Now, Lesra, as we've seen, was not stupid. Rather, he was the product of a stupid society which for over 300 years systematically denied him human basic—basic human rights. How many of you know it was a crime during slavery to teach a black person how to read or write? How many of you knew that? Thank you. Thank you. Black people were the only group of so-called immigrants to the New World who were denied the benefits of an education. It suited America's economic interests to keep Africans in the field instead of in the classroom. Why? As one slave master bluntly put it, "Learning," he said, "will spoil the best nigger in the world."

Categories: Media

Maddow Asks: 'Why Do We Overlook Right-Wing Violence and Refuse to Call it Terrorism?' Answer: Because They're White

Alternet - Media Culture - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 8:09pm
Terrorism is what "other people" do.

The shooting deaths of three people near Kansas City by the noted Neo-Nazi Frazier Glenn Miller has refocused the public’s attention on the violent tendencies of the White Right in the United States.

On the Tuesday edition of her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow concluded a segment on the Republican Party’s deep denial about (and active protection of) its violent “Patriot” and militia wing by asking the following question: why do we overlook right-wing violence and refuse to call it terrorism?

The answer to Maddow's question is simple.

"We" don't talk about right-wing domestic terrorists and other extremists because “they” are largely white and male.

The language used by Rachel Maddow—and how it undermines the scurrilous Right-wing lie that there is such a thing as a “liberal media”—helps to demonstrate the above claim. Once more, a "liberal" news analyst talks around the obvious and is afraid to connect the words "white" and "male" and "conservative" in their discussions of white violence, murder, mayhem, and treason.

Domestic terrorism is an oxymoron in America when white folks are involved. Whiteness imagines itself as kind, benign, safe, neutral, normal, and good. "Terrorism" is something those "other people" do, i.e. the Muslims, or some other ambiguous cohort of black and brown people who "hate American values". Whiteness and the white racial frame are possessed by an acute sense of historical amnesia as well. The most dangerous domestic terrorist organization in the history of the United States was the Ku Klux Klan, a group that killed thousands of black Americans during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Again, Whiteness has the ability to transform and shift empirical reality for its owners and those invested in it.

Whiteness also grants white people in America the freedom to always be a blameless individual. By implication, white people, by virtue of their racial group membership, are incapable of ill deeds as a group. White people who do bad things are just "bad individuals".

Patterns of violence by white people, most notably mass shootings by white men, apparently tell us nothing about Whiteness or white masculinity. Patterns of behavior that should be the basis of a critical inquiry about white culture (a logic that when applied to black and brown people inevitably returns to questions of "pathology" and “bad genes”), is a question that cannot be asked by the mainstream media, or in "polite" circles, as it is considered impolitic.

Because white people imagine Whiteness as normality, to even explore the relationship between race and domestic terrorism is an intolerable offense or social sin that fuels the howls of white conservative victimologists and their knee jerk claims of "reverse racism" and "bigotry" against gun loving American "patriots".

Whiteness is also a type of mass psychosis, one that is predicated on a rubric that those people now considered white (see: the Boston Massacre suspects) can have their racial identity revoked retroactively if they commit acts which are not in accordance with how White America envisions itself as viewed through its own narcissistic gaze.

Ignoring the various pathologies of Whiteness as exhibited by White domestic terrorists is just one more example of how Whiteness hurts white people through a slavish devotion to the profound lie that to be a member of the racial group arbitrarily defined as "white" is to thus be preternaturally good and harmless.

The bodies of many white children have been laid out at room temperature on the funeral slab because of that "innocent" white lie.

In 1860, "Ethiop", an African-American social critic and satirist asked “what shall we do with white people?” The murderous escapades of Frazier Glenn Miller, the growth of white militias, the violent and seditious rhetoric of the Republican Party in the Age of Obama, Birtherism and other types of deranged and paranoid political fantasies on the White Right, and mass shootings and well as other terrorist acts by white men, reinforce the need for asking that question in the present moment.

Of course, there will be no “national conversation” in the United States about “white cultural pathologies”.

How can there be when white people, by definition, are the embodiment of the universal and supreme individual, one for which accountability and questions about “bad culture” are anathema and impossible to consider?

 

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Categories: Media

Has Everyone Without an Honorary Degree From Brandeis Been Censored?

FAIR Blog - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 4:24pm
In a USA Today op-ed, Fox News liberal Kirsten Powers weighs in on Brandeis University's decision to rescind its offer to honor the anti-Muslim activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali during commencement activities.
Categories: Media

7 Over-the-Top Reactions to Chelsea Clinton's Pregnancy Announcement: It's a Prop Baby for Hillary!

Alternet - Media Culture - Fri, 04/18/2014 - 1:29pm
What a week! First the shoe truthers—now the baby truthers.

Hillary Clinton has been keeping conservative conspiracy theorists very busy in the last week or so: First she suspiciously ducks a shoe, and then, lo-and-behold, she's set to become a grandmother.

That dastardly Hillary Clinton! Always something up her sleeve.

The reactions to Chelsea Clinton's announcement on Thursday that she is pregnant ranged from mere over-analyzing to outright absurd. Of course, for these commentators, Chelsea's pregnancy is all about Hillary (and isn't that so like Hillary to make it all about her!)

1. The Christian Science Monitor's Linda Feldmann:

“How, if at all, might the news affect whether Hillary Clinton runs for president in 2016?… Perhaps it’s sexist even to ask the question – how will a grandchild affect her decision – but until she announces either way, it will be out there…. As anyone who’s had children knows, there’s often nothing like the bond between mother and daughter when the first grandbaby is on the way. If we had to guess, we’d say that Hillary Clinton will be a tad less interested in running for president now that she’s about to be a grandmother.”

Right, because being a grandparent is inconsistent with being president. Did anyone tell Mitt Romney?

2. Wall Street Journal:

“Mrs. Clinton’s status as a new grandmother could prove helpful, softening the image of a veteran politician who is often seen through a partisan lens.”

Fairly measured for WSJ. Surely, there will be more.

3. Politico:

“The armchair thinking goes, having a grandchild may make the Iowa State Fair a less appealing place to spend the summer of 2015. Why beg donors for money at dozens of events a month when there’s a happy baby to spend time with in New York?” but speculated, “In the vernacular of cable television, becoming a grandmother can only ‘humanize’ Clinton, who has long been critiqued for her aloof demeanor and rigid personal discipline.”

And no one wants a disciplined president.

4. Washington Monthly:

“Nana for President!” “Becoming a grandmother offers another particular advantage: it will give her the space to create a new public image. One that is softer. Cuddlier. More relatable. More real. And that’s exactly what Hillary needs.” 

Yeah, because ducking that shoe in such a girly way totally did not work. And we already know she does not like baking cookies.

5. Andrew Ross Sorkin on MSNBC's Morning Joe:

“It’s going to change the way people look at Hillary Clinton. There’s a softening, there’s a compassion thing. You don’t think over the next two years, on the campaign trail, this is going to be part of the narrative?”

Endless commentary about this rather normal life event. Can't wait!

6. Charlie Rose to former president Bill Clinton:

 “President or a grandmother?”

Are the two mutually exclusive? The former president answered, “If you ask her, I think she’d say grandmother, but I have found it best not to discuss that issue.” 

Because he has to say that. To ask why the question is even being asked would be kind of shrill and unpleasantly feminist. Can't have that.

7. Steve Malzberg, Newmax

"I don't mean that they're making up she's pregnant. But what great timing! I mean purely accidental, purely an act of nature, purely just left up to God."

"And God answered Hillary Clinton's prayers and she's going to have the prop of being a new grandma while she runs for president," he added. "It just warms the heart, it brings a tear to my eye. It really does."

Yeupp, bring out the prop baby. Worked great for Sarah Palin!

  

 

 

 

 

 

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Categories: Media

Trophies for Just Showing Up: Alfie Kohn on Childrearing Myths

FAIR Blog - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 2:31pm
A new book argues that the conventional wisdom about kids and parenting isn't just misguided or inaccurate; it forms a worldview reinforces and recommends a specific, deeply conservative, political ideology.
Categories: Media

The Grand American Tradition of Violent White Supremacy

Democracy Now! - Thu, 04/17/2014 - 12:45pm

By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan

Another U.S. shooting spree has left bullet-riddled bodies in its wake, and refocused attention on violent, right-wing extremists. Frazier Glenn Miller, a former leader of a wing of the Ku Klux Klan, is accused of killing three people outside two Jewish community centers outside Kansas City, Kan. As he was hauled away in a police car, he shouted “Heil Hitler!” Unlike Islamic groups that U.S. agencies spend tens of billions of dollars targeting, domestic white supremacist groups enjoy relative freedom to spew their hatred and promote racist ideology. Too often, their murderous rampages are viewed as acts of deranged “lone wolf” attackers. These seemingly fringe groups are actually well-organized, interconnected and are enjoying renewed popularity.

In April 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a study on right-wing extremists in the United States. The 10-page report included findings like “The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.” It controversially suggested military veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan could potentially be recruited to join hate groups. The report provoked a firestorm of criticism, especially from veterans groups. The Obama administration was just months old, and newly appointed Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano withdrew the report, apologizing for it during a congressional budget hearing.

Mark Potok is a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking right-wing hate groups and Frazier Glenn Miller for years. Potok said on Democracy Now! about that report, “a real problem with the Department of Homeland Security ... ever since a particular report on the right wing was leaked to the press in April of 2009, DHS has sort of cowered. They essentially gutted their non-Islamic domestic terrorism unit.”

Click here to read the rest of the column posted at Truthdig.

Categories: Media