Media

FAIR TV: Ebola & Washington 'Dysfunction,' Rand Paul's Record and Silencing Mumia

FAIR Blog - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 5:38pm
On this week's episode: Pundits say now would be a great time to have a surgeon general–but that hasn't happened, thanks to "Washington dysfunction." Is that really what's happening here? Plus Time magazine promotes Rand Paul, and says his critics–like MSNBC's Rachel Maddow–are unfairly tarnishing his record. And we'll take a look at the new law in Pennsylvania that attempts to silence prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal. It's a blatant assault on the First Amendment. So where's the press? Watch:
Categories: Media

The Big Problem With Time's Teacher-Bashing Cover Story

FAIR Blog - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 2:26pm
Time's teacher-bashing cover story buries the lead--and somehow neglected to talk to any teachers.
Categories: Media

How One Innocent Slip Turned an Online Security Expert into a Spam Magnet

Alternet - Media Culture - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 1:59pm
How a little bird made me the target of hundreds of email scam artists.

I’ve got nothing against spam…so long as it’s clogging up someone else’s inbox.

But when you waste my time trying to sell me all kinds of crap or, worse, sucker me into wrecking the security of my computer or bank account, I’m going to do everything in my power to avoid you. And I have.

Since I first wrote and advised consumers about spam for Consumer Reports way back in 2002, when spam was still in its infancy, I’ve learned a lot about how to minimize the time spam wastes. For example:

• Don’t post your e-mail address publicly, especially not on a website.

• Don’t open a spam and don’t respond to it.

• An off-beat e-mail domain makes you less of a target (e.g. kool51.com)

• Using e-mail filters helps you get your important mail sooner

I’ve used these, and other techniques, to keep spam under control for many years. Not eliminate it; just keep it down to a tolerably low level. Until this past spring, that is.

There I was in March, coasting along with only 3 to 5 spams per day, nearly all of which my e-mail client, Outlook, was catching. (Yes, I know that webmail can do a better job of foiling spam. But I prefer client-based e-mail, as I explained in 4 reasons not to use webmail for Consumer Reports.)

In April, without warning, my spam experienced an uptick. By May, I was averaging about 15 per day. As the chart below shows, month by month it climbed until, by mid-August, I was often getting 150 to 200 spams per day.

Loose Lips

Where had I slipped up?

After a little research I learned that, in the course of doing me a favor, a friend had unwittingly included my e-mail address in a single tweet. That’s it. One tweet. Some 8,000 spams later, I have a far greater appreciation for that old World War II era caveat, Loose lips sink ships.

Still, how was it that spammers got hold of that tweet? It’s possible that one of my friend’s many Twitter followers was actually a spammer who jumped on that tweet. More likely, though, the tweet was picked up for a reason of which many Twitter users may not be aware: All public tweets are posted on the web and are as accessible to spammers as if they were posted on the front page of NewYorkTimes.com.

To see how many others might be revealing personal e-mail addresses through their tweets, I used Google to find some of the most common e-mail addresses on twitter.com. (You can find e-mail addresses buried with tweets this way, too. Just use the search term: “@gmail.com” site:twitter.com and substitute the domain or address of your choice between the quotes).

For you would-be spammers, here’s a handy list of how many hits I found at Twitter.com for some of the largest e-mail domains. The actual number of unique addresses and users exposed this way is likely to be far smaller. But this still shows that many e-mail addresses whose owners think they are private are publicly available to spammers.

• Yahoo.com, 230 million

• Gmail.com, 102 million

• Hotmail.com, 7.5 million

• MSN.com, 2.5 million

• AOL.com, 303,000

• Comcast.net, 148,000

What to do about it

If you don’t relish the prospect of having your e-mail address harvested by spammers combing through your (or your friends’) tweets, don’t disclose it via your tweets. And ask your friends not to use your address that way, either: “Friends don’t let friends tweet their e-mail address.”

As for me, I’ve got two choices now:

1. I can stick with Spam Assassin, the server-based spam blocker from my e-mail provider, which works very well. But if I do so, I will be forced to forever update my “white list” of contacts (now numbering 165) to keep Spam Assassin from blocking them. And because I make new contacts fairly often, I will still have to regularly comb through hundreds of spams on the server just to make sure its Junk folder doesn’t contain an important e-mail.

2. Using a domain that I own, I can create an entirely new (and hitherto unknown) e-mail address and switch my entire online life over to it, which I’ve done before. In the long run, that would probably save more time than would choice #1. Provided I keep a tight lid on the new address and make sure none of my friends tweet it 

 So here’s fair warning to my friends: Do not tweet my new e-mail address. If you disregard this request, I may be forced to take drastic measures–such as tweeting yours!

 Related Stories
Categories: Media

VIDEO: Extended Interview with Mumia Abu-Jamal on New Pennsylvania Law Restricting Prisoners' Speech

Democracy Now! - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 11:26am

In an extended interview conducted over the phone from SCI Mahanoy Prison in Frackville, Pennsylvania, journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal responds to a new Pennsylvania law that authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause "mental anguish" to the victim.

Critics say the "Revictimization Relief Act," passed on October 21, will trample the free speech rights of prisoners. It was introduced after Abu-Jamal delivered a pretaped commencement address for graduating students at Vermont’s Goddard College earlier this month. The speech was opposed by the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer whom Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has criticized the new Pennsylvania measure, calling it "overbroad and vague," and unable to "pass constitutional muster under the First Amendment."

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman, as we turn to Pennsylvania, where Republican Governor Tom Corbett has just signed into law a bill critics say will trample the free speech rights of prisoners. The Revictimization Relief Act, as it's called, authorizes the censoring of public addresses of prisoners or former offenders if judges agree that allowing them to speak would cause "mental anguish" to the victim—the measure introduced after one of the state's most famous prisoners, journalist and former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, delivered a pretaped commencement address for graduating students at Vermont’s Goddard College earlier this month, the speech opposed by the widow of Daniel Faulkner, the police officer whom Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania has criticized the new Pennsylvania measure, calling it "overbroad and vague" unable to "pass constitutional muster under the First Amendment."

Mumia Abu-Jamal joins us now on the phone from SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania.

Mumia Abu-Jamal, welcome to Democracy Now!

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: How are you, Amy?

AMY GOODMAN: It's good to be with you. Can you talk about where you are right now? Describe your surroundings, as you speak on the phone to us.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: I am right now, as you hear in the background, in the open area of half of a block on B Block in Mahanoy. There are about 45 men sitting around playing cards, playing dominoes, playing chess, talking, some reading, some watching television at a distant corner. This is population, at least the block-in phase, or block-out phase, where you're out of your cell.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you are back in the news because of a bill that was just signed by Pennsylvania Governor Corbett that would limit your ability to speak, after you just gave a commencement address, a taped commencement address, to Goddard. Can you respond to the signing of this bill?

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: I think it's really quite extraordinary that unconstitutional Tom Corbett, a former attorney general of the state of Pennsylvania, as governor, would sign into law a law that he knows is unconstitutional.

OPERATOR: This call is from the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy and is subject to monitoring and recording.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Moreover, as a governor and as an attorney, right, and a member of the bar, he had to take a sworn oath for both offices, and that oath was to protect and defend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Constitution of the United States of America. By signing that bill into law, he has violated both of his oaths as governor and as an attorney. As I said, he knows what the law is. He knows about Snyder v. Phelps. I'm sure you covered the case of the church that went around to funerals and, let's say, harassed people's families. They were burying their veterans, and they would have signs, within earsight and eyesight of the families burying their dead. Well, it went to the Supreme Court, because there was a similar law passed against them. And every court they went into found it a violation of the First Amendment, including the United States Supreme Court, which ruled eight to one that the First Amendment free speech protection shielded these church members from tort liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress. This is something that I know unconstitutional Tom knows about. So, it gives you a sense when these officials, these legislators, these governors, these elected officials, swear on a Bible to uphold their oath and office, and violate it with such—such freedom.

AMY GOODMAN: This is what Governor Corbett said in expressing his support for the new law.

GOV. TOM CORBETT: While law-abiding citizens are entitled to an array of rights, from free travel to free speech, convicted felons in prison are in prison because they abused and surrendered their rights. And nobody has a right to continually taunt the victims of their violent crimes in the public square.

AMY GOODMAN: Your response, Mumia Abu-Jamal?

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: My response is, he knows that's ridiculous, both in law and in fact. I've never taunted anybody. As you know, as a journalist, I've rarely talked about the events of December 9, 1981. I've talked about all kinds of other issues. I didn't talk about that when I was at Goddard. Most of the people who voted for this bill, whether they were legislators or senators or the governor themselves, they never heard that speech. I invite them to hear it and then say that that madness that Tom said—I called him unconstitutional. Here's proof of that. Again, the United States Supreme Court, in Simon & Schuster v. New York Crime Victims Board, held the acts of that state agency, and the legislation that enabled them, unconstitutional. And this was, I believe, the full court, '91. This was in 1991. In my own civil history, you remember me calling you and them coming up and pulling a wire out of the wall.

AMY GOODMAN: Who pulled that wire out of the wall?

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: It was a guard. I was talking to you. I believe it was '96, or around that time. We were having a discussion. It was live. And all of a sudden, the phone went dead. And I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a correctional officer walk down to where my line was plugged into the wall, and he pulled it out. I couldn't believe what I was looking at. You know, I was like, "Hello, Amy? Hello?" because it just didn't make sense, to me, that he did that. He did that. But, of course, that was shortly after the publication of Live from Death Row, and the Department of Corrections sanctioned me, gave me a write-up, and we went to court about it. The case is preserved as Abu-Jamal v. Price. In that ruling, the Third Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals said I have a constitutional right to write. If I have a constitutional right to write under the First Amendment, then don't I have a constitutional right to read writings?

AMY GOODMAN: Mumia Abu-Jamal, Maureen Faulkner is quoted in the paper, after Governor Corbett signed the bill, what's being called the Mumia bill, saying, "To be in your car, driving along in California, only to hear him doing a commencement speech on the radio, it rips open a scab."

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Well, I feel sorry for her, because, you know, when most people hear things that disturbs them, they change the channel, you know, and she could change the channel. They wrote a bill, right, for one man, and they admit that, I'm told, in their discussions in committee. They wrote a bill based on a false reporting of what was discussed at a school that I am a alumni of. I attended and graduated from that college. I was invited by the staff and the students and the administrators to talk to my college about what it meant to get an education from Goddard. I did that. And if the Constitution doesn't protect that, then it protects nothing. If the Constitution can be used against one, it can be used against all. I didn't take an oath or an affirmation to support, protect and defend the Constitution of Pennsylvania or the United States. I don't have to. But of the many people who did, they know they are violating it by signing this law.

AMY GOODMAN: Mumia, Debo Adegbile was nominated to be the head of the Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department, but because of the case he was involved with at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, a case that the NAACP Legal Defense Fund brought and won, he was barred, senators citing your name. Explain what happened and your response to it.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Well, I can't really explain what happened, because—

OPERATOR: This call is from the State Correctional Institution at Mahanoy and is subject to monitoring and recording

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: —the truth of the matter is, I never met the man. I never discussed anything with the man, because I never met the man. He was actually acting head of the NAACP LDF after John Payton had died. And he was placed there so—because he was acting head, he was on my brief. Right? But, you know, he never argued a case. We never—I don't know the man. I saw him in the newspapers. And to be perfectly honest, I didn't recognize his name, because, you know, I knew lawyers that I knew. I didn't know him. And I had never heard the name until it got into the papers. This is a man who had his life shredded because of the money and power of the FOP to buy and intimidate those people to do their bidding—and to violate, again, their oaths. You can say he didn't have a constitutional right to become the head of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, but he was the choice of the president, and I presume he had good reasons to choose him. But to use my case to deny him that opportunity is a tragedy to this man and to his family. And it's based on lies. Again, I never met the man. I don't know who he is, other than seeing him on TV or in a newspaper. And, you know, from what I've been told and what I've heard, this was a fine and distinguished lawyer who came from an impoverished background, fought hard to get into college, fought very hard to get into law school, and devoted his expertise as a lawyer to help people vote and to work for people's civil rights all across the country. You know, [inaudible]—

AMY GOODMAN: Mumia Abu-Jamal, I know we only have a few minutes left before your phone will cut off, with the 15-minute limit, but I wanted to ask you about what it's been like to move from death row to the general population.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Well, there's not a day go by that I don't think about the brothers and sisters—because there are women in Pennsylvania on death row—the brothers and sisters who are still on death row. And this is so profoundly different from their 24-hour experience that it's hard to connect the two.

Let me leave you with this. There's a case out of the Eastern District of Virginia called Prieto v.—and I can't remember the name of the warden, but it's P-R-I-E-T-O [Prieto v. Clarke]. In the Prieto case, the court in Virginia ruled that the conditions of death row were unconstitutional. Right? They ruled that locking—

OPERATOR: You have 60 seconds remaining.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: Locking people up that long, holding them in confinement, just because they have a death sentence, is a violation of the Constitution. I wish that Pennsylvania would live up to the Constitution, not just in my case, but in Prieto and all the men and women who are on death row in Pennsylvania who should be in general population like everybody else.

AMY GOODMAN: You write many commentaries, among them, about war. What is it like to watch war from your jail cell?

OPERATOR: You have 30 seconds remaining.

MUMIA ABU-JAMAL: It's not that much different than it is—it's horrifying and terrifying, and it speaks to me of the kind of impending destruction of the empire. You can't bomb people to peace; you can only bomb them to death and to war. And, you know, it's painful. It's terrifying. It's all of those things. And it could be better.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Mumia Abu-Jamal. He was speaking to us on the phone from SCI Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania, where he is imprisoned for the rest of his life. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I'm Amy Goodman.

Categories: Media

Fox News to Young Women: Don't Vote, Just Work on Your Tinder Profile

Alternet - Media Culture - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 2:37pm
Host Kimberly Guilfoyle hits new offensive low, saying young women "just don't get it."

On Tuesday’s edition of “The Five,” Fox News host Kimberly Guilfoyle suggested that young women, who apparently lack important conservative wisdom, should just go ahead and excuse themselves from voting in the midterms. According to Guilfoyle and her co-hosts, females of a certain age just “don’t get it,” which should probably disqualify them from serving on juries, or from exercising a crucial constitutional right they gained less than a century ago.

“It’s the same reason why young women on juries are not a good idea,” Guilfoyle said. “They don’t get it. They’re not in that same life experience of paying the bills, doing the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, healthcare. They’re like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world.”

According to estimates from the Project on Student Debt, approximately seven in 10 college graduates accrue an average of $29,400 in student loans, which no doubt constitute “bills” to be paid each month. That estimate excludes the 34.5 percent of female high school graduates who don’t go to college but do participate in the labor force,according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of course, that estimate further excludes young women who graduate from neither high school nor college and still have jobs to support themselves, and perhaps their families too.

The CDC reports that the birth rate for American women between the ages of 20 and 24 was 83.1 per 1,000 in 2012, while the rate for women aged 25-29 was 106.5 for every 1,000, compared to 97.3 per 1,000 for women in their early 30s. Teen mothers, many of whom are likely to still be mothers when they become “young women” over the minimum voting age, had a total of 305,388 babies in 2012.

As for crime, one in five women will be raped or sexually assaulted at some point during her life; for 37.4 percent of those women, their first assault will occur between the ages of 18 and 24. Of course, that’s just one form of crime. So while young women might be healthy and hot, and possibly even running around, it’s doubtful they’re all without a care in the world.

But they’re likely still not conservative enough to vote, as “The Five” panelists would have it. A bit earlier in the segment, Guilfoyle’s co-hosts offered some transparency about the reason the panel might be set on deterring young women from voting: According to Greg Gutfield, “with age comes wisdom” and “the older you get, the more conservative you get.” So the message is … women should only vote when they’re more likely to vote conservatively? Thus followed Guilfoyle’s logical conclusion to prevent young women from casting all those uninformed, naive, liberal votes:

“I just thank and excuse them so they can go back on Tinder or Match.com.”

Watch the segment, via Media Matters, below:

 

 

Categories: Media

Chuck Todd, Militarism and Media Diversity

FAIR Blog - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 2:18pm
Chuck Todd wants to make Meet the Press more diverse--but he doesn't appear willing to try all that hard.
Categories: Media

VIDEO TIMELINE: NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden's Revelations on Democracy Now!

Democracy Now! - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 1:16am

Scroll through our video timeline to see all of our coverage of whistleblower Edward Snowden, and the reporting he fueled that exposed the National Security Agency's massive surveillance state. See our archive of interviews with Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras.

This timeline begins in June 2013, but Democracy Now! was on the story as early as April 2012, when we spoke with NSA whistleblower William Binney, who estimated the NSA had assembled 20 trillion transactions — phone calls, emails and other forms of data — from Americans.

Categories: Media

Ebola Czar? We Need a Surgeon General

Democracy Now! - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:18pm

By Amy Goodman with Denis Moynihan

The United States now has an Ebola czar. But what about a surgeon general? The gun lobby has successfully shot down his nomination — at least so far.

The Ebola epidemic is a global health crisis that demands a concerted, global response. Here in the United States, action has been disjointed, seemingly driven by fear rather than science. One clear reason for this: The nomination of President Barack Obama’s choice to fill the public health position of surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is languishing in the U.S. Senate. You would think that an Ebola epidemic would move people to transcend partisan politics. But Vivek Murthy, despite his impressive medical credentials, made one crucial mistake before being nominated: He said that guns are a public health problem. That provoked the National Rifle Association to oppose him, which is all it takes to stop progress in the Senate.

Dr. Murthy’s statement on guns came in the form of a tweet: “Tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a healthcare issue,” he wrote in October 2012. A year later, the White House announced his appointment to the position of surgeon general, and on Feb. 4, 2014, he testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He received bipartisan support in committee, but his nomination has not yet come up for a vote in the full Senate, ostensibly because Sen. Harry Reid knows the vote would fail. Nominations only need a majority of 51 votes to win approval. Since the Democrats have a 55-to-45 majority in the Senate (at least for now), Murthy’s approval as surgeon general should have been routine.

Fear of the NRA’s perceived power, however, prompted several Democrats — those with tight re-election races in 2014 — to indicate they would not vote to support Murthy. Among those expected to vote against him were Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mark Begich of Alaska. These incumbent Democrats and others didn’t want to provoke the NRA before the midterm elections. So the U.S. has no surgeon general.

What exactly does the surgeon general do? The position dates back to 1798, when Congress established the country’s first publicly financed health service to care for ailing merchant sailors. Now, the surgeon general commands more than 6,500 healthcare workers in the “Commissioned Corps” who are tasked with protecting U.S. public health.

An equally important role of the surgeon general is to be “the nation’s doctor,” to use the position for public advocacy, to educate and inspire people to take health care seriously. So, while there is an acting surgeon general, Boris Lushniak, who is keeping the lights on at the organization, he hasn’t assumed the full public role that the position demands. In 1964, then-Surgeon General Luther Terry released a groundbreaking report, “Smoking and Health,” which prompted significant shifts in tobacco policies, like the printing of warning labels on cigarette packs and the banning of tobacco ads on TV and radio. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan’s surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, advocated for education and action to combat HIV/AIDS, against the wishes of Reagan, who didn’t even utter the phrase “AIDS” for the first six years of his administration as thousands died of the disease.

We can only assume that, were Dr. Murthy confirmed as surgeon general, he would be a leading voice of reason in the national response to the Ebola epidemic. Instead, we get ill-informed talking heads demanding a travel ban to and from West African nations, which every public health official acknowledges would exacerbate the epidemic, ultimately driving more infected people to cross borders illegally, avoiding the checkpoints where they might be directed to care. This scenario would definitely result in more cases of Ebola in the United States.

And what if the surgeon general also stumped for common-sense, data-driven policies to reform our gun laws? The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (named after President Reagan’s press secretary, the late James Brady, who was critically wounded during an assassination attempt on Reagan) points out the scale of the problem with guns: On average, 128 Americans are killed or wounded by guns every day. More than 30,000 die from gun violence every year.

As far as we know, there are only two people in the United States currently with Ebola. There are 300 million guns. Ebola can be stopped with proper public health procedures and by rapidly deploying a massive influx of public health workers, equipment and other resources to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The Senate should immediately vote to approve the nomination of Dr. Murthy as surgeon general.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,300 stations in North America. She is the co-author of “The Silenced Majority,” a New York Times best-seller.

© 2014 Amy Goodman / Distributed by King Features Syndicate

Listen to and share Amy Goodman's podcast on SoundCloud and Stitcher Radio.

Categories: Media

VIDEO: From Ferguson to NYC, Protesters Mark National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality

Democracy Now! - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:55pm

"From Ferguson to NYC, Stop Police Brutality" was the chant by parents of police victims and their allies who marked the 19th annual National Day of Protest to Stop Police Brutality, Repression and Criminalization of a Generation. Democracy Now! was there when hundreds gathered in Manhattan for a rally and march, as similar demonstrations took place around the country.

See all of our coverage of police brutality.

Thanks to Democracy Now! fellow Samantha Riddell for this report.

PROTESTERS: From Ferguson to NYC, stop police brutality! From Ferguson to NYC, stop police brutality!

CARL DIX: Today, in 80 cities all across the country, people are taking to the streets, saying, "No more to police murder. No more to warehousing people in prison. No more to torture in the prisons. No more to treating black and Latino youth like criminals. And no more detention and deportation of our immigrant sisters and brothers." And you can see from this march, it's being led by family members whose children have been murdered by the police.

PROTESTERS: Stop the killing! Stop the lies! No more stolen lives! Stop the killing! Stop the lies! No more stolen lives!

IRIS BAEZ: This is going to be the 20 year I've been coming out to protest police brutality. The people are waking up, you know, to these brutalities. We're not going to take it no more. And this is the time to get up and say what you got to say and tell them in their face what they deserve to hear.

DANETTE CHAVIS: My name is Danette Chavis. I'm the mother of Gregory Chavis, who lost his life at the hands of NYPD in October 2004. I am convinced that nothing will change concerning this action until it is brought to the highest levels in government. We need nationwide action. We need the U.S. attorney general of the Department of Justice to deal with the issue of police brutality once and for all. Thousands of people are being murdered whose cases we know nothing about because they don't have the ability to have their tragedy highlighted in the media.

PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace! No trust for the police!

ALOK VAID-MENON: My name is Alok, and I work with the Audre Lorde Project. And I'm out here to protest police brutality against trans and gender-nonconforming people. I think after Ferguson, we've seen a politicization of a lot of young people around police brutality, but we forget that police brutality has and continues to affect queer and trans people and that often these people don't have access to families, these people are in underground economies, these people are in street economies. And it's so important that we don't erase them from our narratives of who's being victimized by the police. We just celebrated the one-year marker of Islan Nettles, a black trans woman who was murdered in front of a police department in Harlem. And this was just one of the many incidents of police brutality faced by trans and gender-nonconforming people of color.

ALEJANDRINA MURPHY: One of the numbers that have been increasing lately in the mass incarceration has been—is women right now, especially women of color. And this prison system is making a lot of money, especially of immigrant women, more women that they have passed either the border of the United States or have came here illegally and have stayed for a long time. I'm a woman of color. I'm a woman who immigrated here to this country a very long time ago. But still, as part of the Latino community, I don't want to see these women being incarcerated, because crossing borders is not a crime.

PROTESTERS: Show me what democracy looks like! This is what democracy looks like!

NOCHE DIAZ: The epidemic of police murder has gotten worse. But what has changed over the last few months has been wave after wave of resistance. And some of it culminated and centered out of Ferguson when people refused to just go home and accept that the police once again could get away with murder. And they faced tear gas and tanks and rubber bullets, and said, "We are not afraid to die, because we are sick and tired of living this way." And that spirit of defiance has begun to spread around the country. And that has to be channeled into meaningful forms of resistance, not the same old dead ends of voting or praying or just hoping that this goes away, but people taking their own responsibility to be part of the generation that's going to end this.

PROTESTERS: Blow your whistle! Raise your fists! We refuse to live like this! Blow your whistle! Raise your fists! We refuse to live like this!

Categories: Media

A New Way to Silence Mumia Abu-Jamal

FAIR Blog - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 2:24pm
The state of Pennsylvania wants to silence Mumia Abu-Jamal--and just past a blatantly unconstitutional new law that is an attack on press freedom. Where's the media outrage?
Categories: Media

THURSDAY: Laura Poitras on Her New Edward Snowden Documentary, "CitizenFour"

Democracy Now! - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 1:29pm

On Thursday, we will interview award-winning documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras about her new film about surveillance, "CitizenFour." Click here to watch the trailer.

Poitras played a key role in connecting National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden to Glenn Greenwald and the reporters for The Guardian and The Washington Post who published his leaked documents about government surveillance. In January 2013, she was contacted by an anonymous source claiming to have evidence of NSA illegal activity. After several months of anonymous emails, she traveled to Hong Kong with Greenwald to interview the source, Edward Snowden. Her NSA reporting contributed to a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service awarded to The Guardian and Washington Post. Along with Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill, she is co-founder of The Intercept.

"CitizenFour" is the third part of a trilogy of films about America post-9/11. The first film was about Iraq, "My Country, My Country," and the second was "The Oath," about men imprisoned by the United States at Guantánamo Bay.

In 2013, Poitras spoke on Democracy Now! about how she faced harassment from U.S. agents long before she helped expose NSA spying.

Use this video timeline to see all of our coverage of whistleblower Edward Snowden" and his exposure of the NSA’s massive surveillance state, featuring extensive interviews with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Glenn Greenwald. This timeline begins in June 2013, but Democracy Now! was on the story as early as April 2012, when we spoke with NSA whistleblower William Binney, who estimated the NSA had assembled 20 trillion transactions — phone calls, emails, chats, and other forms of data — from Americans.

Categories: Media

Nothing's Wrong with Renee Zellweger's Face—Something's Wrong With Us

Alternet - Media Culture - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 11:21am
All the actress did was pull back the curtain on our hypocrisy by letting herself be seen in public past a certain age.

To be a female celebrity is to lose at every turn. Dare to age? Face-shame at best and be out of work at worst. Get noticeable plastic surgery on your face to combat the inevitable aging? At best, you will be mocked for your narcissism and delusional attempts at hanging onto your youth; at worst, you’ll be out of work again.

The continued evolution of our obsession with famous people has birthed a strange phenomenon: the bodies of total strangers are considered collective public property to be casually evaluated, critiqued and discarded.

As disturbing as it may be sometimes to see a public figure physically transform before our eyes, it’s even more troubling to see how effortlessly we rush to say something about that transformation.

“Where did Renee Zellweger’s face go?”

To ask a question like that, as so many did on Tuesday is to cut in all directions, commodifying a woman’s body even as you seemingly seek to champion it.

What did Renee Zellweger do to deserve that kind of knee-jerk reaction? She attended Elle magazine’s 2014 Women in Hollywood event on Monday night to mark her first appearance in a film in more than five years. But no one, it seems, was happy to see her again: instead, on Tuesday morning, the media gatekeepers—includingmany women—were aghast at the appearance of Zellweger’s face, which seemed markedly different since her last memorable red-carpet appearance, which was more than five years ago. The outcry was loud and universal, which is exactly, sadly, the kind of thing a woman in Hollywood has learned to expect anytime she does anything to her appearance.

From fashion blogs to CNN, the horror and disgust was palpable: What kind of monster is this, the world seemed to beg, that would shed her skin so easily, hoping to avert aging and death—or at least the death of her career by physically becoming another person altogether? Heavy Internet-sighers bemoaned how akin Zellweger has become to Jennifer “No One Puts Baby in a Corner” Grey, who infamously cut off her own nose to spite her face, and—like a spooky campfire tale—supposedly never ever worked again.

Yet one trope was notably absent from the Greek chorus of judgment decrying Zellweger’s physical appearance. In all the hand-wringing and all the awfulness aimed at Zellweger, only a few finger-pointers noted that, the public doesn’t just feel entitled to freely comment on celebrity bodies and faces. No, the same public that apparently believes Zellweger did something untoward to her greatest asset (which is, apparently, not her acting chops) is also busy gasping even more loudly should any woman dare to let a wrinkle, a glimmer of cellulite or a bravely untoned abdominal muscle besmirch her appearance.

(Odd how it’s never mentioned that even the legendary Jennifer Grey elected to get plastic surgery only after she turned 30, which is also known as the age when the same women in Hollywood Elle was celebrating on Monday night so often find themselves challenged to find substantive work.)

The famous women who do dare to age at all—and beautifully so—are breathlessly glorified as possessing a talent so exceptional, so perfect, it allowed them to transcend their own decaying forms. Of course Meryl Streep is still working and racking up awardswe say, smiling respectfully every time a younger actress states that her greatest goal is to share the screen with Streep. Of course Jessica Lange is the new face of Marc Jacobswe nod, proud of our own progressive, subversive standards of beauty. We allow ourselves a few exceptional exceptions... if they’re pretty enough and we can believe that they would never sully themselves with a trip to a medical professional.

We expect our celebrity women to truly have it all: beauty, youth, talent, humility and a conscientious disdain for how their appearances figure into their ability to practice their art; unless, of course, it is somehow serving their art. Pity the woman so brazen as to pull back the curtain on these expectations by letting herself be seen in public past a certain age, with or without the help of the medical community.

Pity poor Renee Zellweger, we say, for she is supposed to know when a famous woman no longer meets our standards for unobtainable and effortless beauty. Spare us the sight, we demand, of what our hypocrisy wreaks on our all-too-human idols.

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Why Conservatives Opt for Propaganda Over Reality

Alternet - Media Culture - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:55am
Conservatives are consuming a right-wing media full of lies and misinformation, whereas liberals are more interested in media that puts facts before ideology.

Pew Research set out to find what’s behind what it considers the increasing political polarization of the United States; why the country is moving away from political moderation and becoming more and more divided between liberals and conservatives. Its first report on the phenomenon, which examines where people are hearing news and opinion in both regular and social media, shows that this is happening for very different reasons among people moving to the right than for people moving to the left. 

Or that’s the charitable way to put it. The less charitable way is to say Pew discovered that conservatives are consuming a right-wing media full of lies and misinformation, whereas liberals are more interested in media that puts facts before ideology. It’s very much not a “both sides do it” situation. Conservatives are becoming more conservative because of propaganda, whereas liberals are becoming more liberal while staying very much checked into reality.

That this polarization is going on isn’t a myth. Previous Pew research shows the percentage of Americans who are “mostly” or “consistently” conservative has grown from 18% in 2004 to 27% in 2014. During that same period, the percentage of Americans who are “mostly” or “consistently” liberal stayed a little more consistent, growing from 33% to 34% in 10 years. (These statistics don’t measure what you call yourself, but what you rate as on a scale of beliefs about various issues.) While liberals became more liberal, conservatives both became more numerous and more rigidly conservative over time. What gives?

Enter right-wing media, which has a nifty trick of convincing audiences it’s the other guys who are the liars, all while actually being much less trustworthy in reality. From conservative screaming about the “media elite” to Fox News’s old slogan “Fair and Balanced,” conservative media is rife with the message that everyone is out to get you, conservative viewer, and only in the warm blanket of right-wing propaganda will you be safe.

The message, the Pew research suggests, has really taken hold. Pew researchers gave respondents a list of 36 popular media sources and asked how much they trusted each one. Some were liberal, like The Daily Show or ThinkProgress. Some were conservative, like Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. Most of them are fairly straightforward news organizations with no overt political agenda, like NPR, various network news, CNN, and the New York Times.

The findings were astounding. Out of the 36 news sources, consistent liberals trusted 28, a mix of liberal and mainstream news sources. Mostly, liberal respondents generally agreed, holding out a little more skepticism for overtly ideological sources like Daily Kos or ThinkProgress, but not actually distrustingthem, either. The only news sources liberals didn’t trust, generally, are overtly right-wing ones, such as Fox News, the Blaze, Breitbart, or Rush Limbaugh’s show.

Conservatives, on the other hand, saw betrayers and liars around every corner. Consistent conservatives distrusted a whopping 24 out of 36 outlets and mostly conservative respondents distrusted 15 and were skeptical of quite a few more. The hostility wasn’t just to well-known liberal sources like MSNBC. Strong conservatives hated all the network news, CNN, NPR, and the major national outlets, except the Wall Street Journal.  Respondents who are mostly conservative fared better, but were still hostile to the New York Times and the Washington Post, as well as skeptical of mainstream organizations like CBS and NBC News.

The fact that conservatives are this paranoid should be alarming enough, but it becomes even more frightening when you consider who conservatives do trust in the media. Consistent conservatives only trusted 8 media sources--compared to the 28 liberals trusted--and of the eight, only one has anything approaching respectable reporting or reliable information. And that one, the Wall Street Journal, has good straight reporting but has an op-ed page that is a train wreck of right-wing distortions and misinformation. Most conservative people were a little more open-minded, trusting USA Today and ABC News, but still were supportive of openly distorting sources like Fox News or the Drudge Report.

The trust conservatives put in conservative media is utterly misplaced. For instance, both consistent and mostly conservative people love Glenn Beck, though he’s a well-known purveyor of outrageous conspiracy theories that percolate up to him from fringe characters. Breitbart and Sean Hannity also rated high, despite their shared history of championing right-wing fringe characters like Cliven Bundy.

But what is really frightening is the reach of Fox News. Fox News rated as the only real news source for consistent conservatives, with 47% of them citing it as their main source of news. Nothing even came close to touching it, as the second most common answer, “local radio” was cited by only 11% of consistent conservatives. Eighty-eight percent of consistent conservatives trusted Fox News. Mostly conservative and even “mixed” people also liked Fox News.

The problem with this is watching Fox News actually makes you less informed than if you don't watch any news at all. In a 2012 study, Fox News viewers rated the absolute lowest in ability to correctly answer questions on a quiz about recent news events. People who didn’t take in any news programs at all did better on the quizzes. NPR listeners rated the best. Consistent liberals in the Pew research were big fans of NPR, by the way. It was the second most common outlet cited as a favorite by consistent liberals, topped only by CNN.

Fox News is one of the main factors, possibily the main factor, driving political polarization in this country. Huge chunks of this country listen mostly or solely to a relentless stream of misinformation coming from Fox News, coupled with warnings, implied or even baldly stated, to avoid listening to other, more factually accurate news sources. Unsurprisingly, then, more people are becoming conservatives and people who were already conservative are becoming more hardline about it. If you have any Fox viewers in your family, you probably already suspected this, but now Pew has given us the cold, hard facts to confirm your suspicions.

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Research Behind Dr. Oz-Endorsed Diet Supplement Was Bogus, Authors Admit

Alternet - Media Culture - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 10:02am
“America’s doctor” promoted spurious weight-loss products to his audience.

A research paper that touted the weight-loss benefits of an extract from green coffee beans has been retracted by the researchers that published it. Green coffee had been touted as a “miracle” supplement by television host Dr. Mehmet Oz on his eponymous Dr. Oz show.

Retraction Watch, a website that reports on repealed and repudiated scientific research, says the paper’s two authors have now admitted that they are unable to defend their work.

"The sponsors of the study cannot assure the validity of the data so we, Joe Vinson and Bryan Burnham, are retracting the paper," the authors conceded on Dove Press, a British site dedicated to the peer reviews of scientific research. The study, titled “Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, linear dose, crossover study to evaluate the efficacy and safety of a green coffee bean extract in overweight subjects” was originally published in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy.

Last month, the company behind the study, Applied Food Science, agreed to $3.5 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, after government regulators found that some key data, including research about the recorded weight of research participants, was likely cooked. Additionally, the study had a very small sample of only 16 overweight adults. The feds said that the research, sponsored by supplement manufacturer, was "so hopelessly flawed that no reliable conclusions could be drawn from it."

Reportedly, Applied Food Science sold some 500,000 bottles of the green coffee extract supplement.

In May 2012, Dr. Oz heralded the study on his television program, professing that it linked green coffee to weight loss, and said that those who took it lost an average of 18 pounds in six weeks. Apparently the expert nutritionist that praised green coffee one episode of the show, Lindsey Duncan, also had an ulterior motive; he was the CEO of Genesis Pure, a nutritional supplement company that markets green coffee as a weight-loss product. Dr. Oz did not disclose this obvious conflict of interest.

Recent laboratory research by the American Chemical Society into the weight-loss claims made by the marketers of green coffee beans finds that the ingredient that is supposed to spur weight loss, chlorogenic acid, has no such impact. Furthermore, the study showed that it can actually cause fatty deposits in the livers of mice.

While previous medical studies reveal that coffee drinkers have a lower risk of obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance (known collectively as “metabolic syndrome”), the researchers found that mice given chlorogenic acid didn’t lose weight compared to mice who were not given the chemical. In fact, the mice who were fed this ingredient had increased insulin resistance in addition to fattier livers.

Dr. Oz claimed he did his own two-week test on nearly 100 women, which included a control group that was given a placebo. He found that the women who took the supplement lost an average of two pounds, while those taking the placebo lost an average of one pound. Normally, such results would be deemed inconclusive at best, but Dr. Oz cited them as evidence of the efficacy of green coffee extract, declaring “the green coffee bean worked for us” and recommended the supplement to his audience even though “we don’t know much about it.”

Oz’s entanglement in pseudoscience inspired Sen. Claire McCaskill, the chairwoman of the Senate subcommittee on Consumer Protection, to call him to testify and answer questions about his claims. During the testimony, McCaskill chided Oz for abusing his great influence, saying the products he endorses are almost guaranteed to fly off the shelves.

Oz acknowledged to the subcommittee that while there’s no such thing as a “miracle” supplement, and that many he touts wouldn’t pass scientific muster, he insisted he was comfortable recommending them to his fans.

“My job is to be a cheerleader for the audience,” Oz says. ”And when they don’t think they have hope, when they don’t think they can make it happen, I want to look and I do look everywhere, including alternative healing traditions, for any evidence that might be supportive to them."

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Ben Bradlee, Editor Who Led Watergate and Pentagon Papers Coverage, Dies at 93

Alternet - Media Culture - Wed, 10/22/2014 - 6:47am
The legendary 'Washington Post' editor helped bring down Richard Nixon and expose the leadup to the Vietnam War.

Legendary former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, who oversaw reporting on the Watergate scandal that brought down US president Richard Nixon, died Tuesday. He was 93.

Bradlee, who died of natural causes at his Washington home, leaves a lasting legacy at the Post and in the wider media, and has been hailed as a genius and for having "the courage of an army." He was also a friend to John F. Kennedy.

President Barack Obama, who awarded Bradlee the Presidential Medal of Freedom last year, led the tributes, saying that for the newspaper man, "journalism was more than a profession -- it was a public good vital to our democracy."

During Bradlee's leadership of the Post from 1968 to 1991, he inspired reporters who "told stories that needed to be told -- stories that helped us understand our world and one another a little bit better," the president added.

His wife, formerWashington Post reporter Sally Quinn, revealed last month Bradlee had been diagnosed with dementia.

Donald E. Graham, who served as publisher of the Post and was Bradlee's boss, said: "Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor."

It was Graham's mother, Katharine Graham, who was publisher of the Post when Bradlee charged young reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein with investigating the Watergate burglary.

The reporting uncovered a vast scheme of surveillance and dirty tricks, and the resulting coverage led to the impeachment and resignation of Nixon in 1974, and the prosecution of dozens of administration officials.

"Ben was a true friend and genius leader in journalism," Bernstein and Woodward said in a joint statement on the Post website as news of his death emerged.

"His one unbending principle was the quest for the truth and the necessity of that pursuit. He had the courage of an army."

Bradlee's reign as editor saw the Post win the Pulitzer Prize for its Watergate stories, and the respected newspaper also played a role in the successful legal challenge to the publication of the Pentagon Papers revealing the political maneuvers leading up to the Vietnam War.

New era of transparency

The Watergate coverage transformed the notion of political investigative journalism, and became the topic of a best-selling book, and later a film, "All the President's Men."

"If you had to pick a single figure to represent the pivot from the old relationship of journalists to politicians to the current relationship of journalists and politicians, it would have to be Ben Bradlee," said Alan Mutter, a former editor at the Chicago Daily News and Sun-Times, and now a media consultant.

"The game for the press and politicians changed dramatically with Watergate, when the discretion and mutual professional courtesies long enjoyed by press and politicians gave way to a searing investigation of not only the Watergate break-in but all the wrongdoing that preceded and followed it."

The result, said Mutter, was "a new era of greater transparency than ever before."

Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor at Northeastern University, said Bradlee and a handful of others "represented the apex of the editor as a colorful, swashbuckling personality" and helped transform the Post into a nationally significant newspaper.

Descendant of French king

Bradlee was born in 1921 to a Boston family which traced its history to the early Massachusetts settlers of the 1600s.

On his maternal side, his grandfather was the artist and writer Frederic Crowninshield, a descendant of King John II of France of the House of Valois.

After graduating from Harvard University, Bradlee served as a communications officer for the US Navy during World War II.

He worked as a Washington Postreporter before taking a position at the US embassy in Paris, and later became a correspondent for Newsweek, starting in France.

As a reporter, Bradlee became a friend and confidant of John F. Kennedy, covering his successful 1960 presidential campaign.

When the Washington Post Co. bought Newsweek in 1965, Bradlee became the newspaper's managing editor and three years later its executive editor. A decade later, he married Quinn, his third wife.

Bradlee retired from his editorial job in 1991, but maintained the title of "vice president at large" and until recently would frequently visit his former colleagues at the daily.

In his autobiography, Bradlee acknowledged the unusual turn of events that led to his notoriety.

"It would be ungrateful of me not to pause here and acknowledge the role of Richard Milhous Nixon in furthering my career," he wrote.

"It is wonderfully ironical that a man who so disliked -- and never understood -- the press did so much to further the reputation of the press, and particularly the Washington Post. In his darkest hour, he gave the press its finest hour."

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Some People Think CrossFit Is Nutty and That Makes CrossFit Really Angry

Alternet - Media Culture - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 6:03pm
Critics question its safety and its culture, but CrossFit’s aggressive response is a tad more worrisome.

You’d be hard pressed to find an article — outside one written by a CrossFit enthusiast — that reviews this exercise phenomenon without asking some real tough questions about its safety, effectiveness, cost, and even the philosophy behind it. Shouldn't all products, whether good or bad, be held up to such scrutiny? Maybe General Motors, Comcast and Apple grudgingly accept this, but CrossFit — both the corporation and its acolytes — can't seem to take criticism in stride. And there’s been a lot of it going around lately.

The New York Times magazine was the latest publication to take issue with CrossFit and other extreme fitness programs, likening them to nothing more than labor camps you pay a king’s ransom to join. “Why not join a roofing crew for a few hours instead? Surely there’s a tunnel somewhere that needs digging,” sniffs Times columnist Heather Havrilesky.

In response, commenters, many of them CrossFitters, swarmed the online version of the article, posting more than 800 messages. Many were sharply critical of Havrilesky’s assessment of the workout routines.

The Times magazine article is only one in a recent wave of brickbats hurled at the sports-fitness brand, which now boasts an estimated 10,000 affiliates. Its critics are as diverse as medical researchers, fitness organizations, sportswriters, and social commentators. They’ve all found a bone to pick with CrossFit, and no, they’re not joining them for a Paleo diet dinner.

Critics and online commenters have likened CrossFit to a cult, insinuating that it’s not much more than a paramilitary, post-apocalyptic wet dream. They’re fitness preppers ready to take on whatever catastrophe awaits mankind. CrossFit’s own website hints at this on its "What is CrossFit?" page: “We have sought to build a program that will best prepare trainees for any physical contingency — not only for the unknown, but for the unknowable.”

CrossFit’s founder, Greg Glassman takes the rhetoric a step further in his CrossFit newsletter, stating “nature, combat and emergency can demand high volumes of work performed quickly for success or for survival.”

The Gospel of CrossFit

In her Times magazine article, Havrilesky describes the austere and formidable environment of the typical CrossFit gym:

"Those stunned by CrossFit’s growing popularity are often surprised, given its high price, to discover its spartan ethos: Each 'box' (its lingo for gym) is often just a big empty room with medicine balls, barbells and wooden boxes stacked along the walls. Workouts rotate daily but tend to involve free weights, sprints and enough squats to cripple Charles Atlas. In keeping with its apocalyptic mission statement, the program encourages camaraderie under duress (CrossFitters coach each other through the pain) and competition (names and scores are scrawled on a wipe board and sometimes posted online)."

A former certified fitness instructor and CrossFit participant, who wished not to be identified for this article, told AlterNet much of the atmosphere she witnessed seem contrived, right down to the grungy workout gear worn by instructors and long-time CrossFitters.

The CrossFit workout is like Navy SEAL physical training taken to an extreme. It’s group exercise, done in classes where the workout itself is a competition. There are typically time trials where participants strive to perform the exercises faster than their workout companions.

“The warmup is usually inadequate. It could be jogging around a little bit in the parking lot followed by a little dynamic stretching, which can cause injury by itself,” says the former fitness instructor, describing a CrossFit gym she attended.

“Good CrossFit instructors,” she said, “will assist in picking appropriate weights for members, but the competitive nature can result in amateurs pushing themselves too far.”

However, the fitness instructor said the CrossFit regimen does have some redeeming qualities. “It’s a good workout,” she says. “The competitive atmosphere makes it fun and motivating. It encourages people to push themselves, but for some it can be too much.”

Aggressive Defense

CrossFit does not take kindly to criticisms about its workout regimen. Recently, it sued the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) for publishing a study by Ohio State University researchers, led by Steven Devor, an exercise physiology professor.

In the journal Strength and Conditioning Research, the OSU researchers said that while there were some notably positive results obtained from CrossFit exercises, it hinted that injuries could possibly be an issue.

"Of the 11 subjects who dropped out of the training program [out of 54], two cited time concerns with the remaining nine subjects (16% of total recruited subjects) citing overuse or injury for failing to complete the program and finish follow up testing."

While the study was vey complimentary overall (some even likened it to pure advertising), it touched a raw nerve with CrossFit, which complained that the research was “at best the result of sloppy and scientifically unreliable work, and at worst a complete fabrication.”

In response to the study, CrossFit says it sought out the research participants who said they didn’t complete it because of injury and overuse. CrossFit claims that when they contacted the participants, they denied failing to finish due to injuries. CrossFitfit claimed the researchers were guilty of dropping the ball in following up with them.

In its lawsuit against NSCA and the research team, CrossFit further maintains that the fitness organization, which is one of several groups that certify fitness professionals, was going after the company because it certifies its own instructors. The NSCA, it claimed in the lawsuit, had a vested interest in discrediting CrossFit.

This is a brand that seems highly motivated in protecting its reputation. Media opinion that is deemed hostile to CrossFit is often met head on, and aggressively.

As one commentator on a Gawker forum put it:

"Beware, once you write about Crossfit, the [expletive deleted] PR person will contact you, to let you know it's spelled incorrectly, hence the capital 'f'...also...they'll barrage you w/ testimonials...via Twitter...& every other social media account you own...in 5, 4, 3, 2...."

In December 2013, Outside magazine published an article called “Is CrossFit Killing Us?” It cited the findings of the Ohio State University study and maintained that the competitive nature of the workouts could result in a slew of injuries, from slipped disks to torn rotator cuffs and even more serious conditions such as rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal condition in which muscle tissue breaks down and is released into the bloodstream.

CrossFit's acolytes attacked the credibility of the writer, Outside and Steven Devor. Writer Warren Cornwall responded to the jousts in a followup article, “Crossing Swords with CrossFit,” in which he wrote about his experience as a target of the wrath of the workout’s legions.

"The CrossFit community went berserk. While many commenters chimed in about their own injuries from workouts, many more criticized both the statistic and the study itself. Lengthy rebuttals appeared in CrossFit Journal—the organization’s newsletter. One of CrossFit’s chief PR people, Russell Berger, rang up the study director, Professor Steven Devor, and grilled him until the scientist refused to talk to him any more. The upshot was a collective pile-on attempting to discredit the study, its directors—and Outside—while spinning public opinion away from the idea that the insanely popular workout program was any more hazardous than jogging in your neighborhood.

"And yet, no one was making up the stories about people getting hurt. So, what was the deal? Was CrossFit inherently dangerous? And if so, were the hordes of newbies with beach-body dreams flocking to CrossFit 'boxes' aware of the risks?"

Devor told Outside that the 16% figure in the Ohio State study is a soft number and never intended to represent global injury rates, and he says CrossFit’s ambush on the study is misguided. “It’s a fricking paragraph in the paper,” said Devor. “There’s no way I will ever do research with that workout again. It’s just not worth it.”

Cornwall continued to fire back in his followup article, stating that it’s understood there is no conclusive data to define injury rates from CrossFit, yet. However, he went on to cite several surveys and other notable sources to help readers make their own judgments about CrossFit’s safety.

CrossFit’s reputation took another unfortunate — and perhaps undeserved — hit when one of its top competitors, Kevin Ogar, severely injured himself during a major CrossFit-style competition in California earlier this year. Ogar was paralyzed from the waist down after he could no longer hold a bar carrying weights over his head during a "snatch" lift and let them plummet to the ground. The barbell then hit Ogar in the back, severing his spine.

While Ogar’s injury is arguably a freak accident that could happen to anybody performing the lift, CrossFitter or not, the tragic event did not help CrossFit’s dubious reputation with the media, as websites such as Deadspin, Buzzfeed and Gawker jumped on the story, prompting CrossFit critics to take to their message boards to question whether the fitness craze was to blame for the accident.

The judgment of whether CrossFit is a beneficial and viable workout is not for this writer to make. Former and current CrossFitters who spoke to us and even the Ohio State study indicate that this high-intensity training has many benefits. Clearly, the rigorous debate over its merits and demerits is being held in the public forum and kinesiologists will likely weigh in on it someday soon. 

The bigger problem is CrossFit's reputation, a creation of its innate aggressiveness and hive survival instinct. It has spilled over as combative rhetoric directed toward the world outside its “boxes." This is a movement that’s past due for an image makeover and perhaps some contemplative meditation.

Editor's note:AlterNet was contacted by CrossFit and has made two minor changes to the article and one explanation, below. We had referred to CrossFit gyms as "franchises" when they are technically "affiliates." They are two legally different business relationships. We also said that Kevin Ogar was competing in a CrossFit competition. The event, the OC Throwdown, was not sanctioned by CrossFit, but marketing and media coverage of the event indicated that the contestants were "CrossFit" competitors who competed in "CrossFit competitions." Last, CrossFit has indicated that our wording "guilty of dropping the ball" in regard to the follow up conducted by the Ohio State University researchers was insufficient. While we stand by our wording, CrossFit points out that its contention was that the researchers were guilty of fabricating injury data. 

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A 'Worthless and Whiny' Attack on a Genuine Journalistic Hero

FAIR Blog - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:11pm
The Washington Post was one of the major newspapers to attack Gary Webb for his revelations about the CIA-backed Contras and the crack epidemic. It's 2014, and they're still at it.
Categories: Media

VIDEO: Detroit Residents Meet with United Nations Officials, Demand Moratorium on Water Shutoffs

Democracy Now! - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 1:53pm

This video was produced by former Democracy Now! fellow Messiah Rhodes.

Democracy Now! was in Detroit this weekend when residents impacted by water shutoffs met with United Nations officials who are visiting to investigate possible human rights violations.

"I started to document the scene, and I said in a really strong voice, loud voice, 'You not going to shut my water off. I got kids to take care of. Call the cops if you want,'" says People's Water Board Coalition member Valerie Blakely, a mother of four who stopped the shutoff of her water the moment the department arrived at her home in July.

Detroit has shut off water to at least 27,000 households this year as part of a consolidation plan, which residents see as a step toward privatization. Water bills in Detroit cost nearly twice the national average, while the poverty rate is 40 percent.

Two-thirds of households impacted by the water shutoffs are families with children; the children can be taken away by protective services if the house does not have water.

On Monday, the U.N. rapporteurs recommended that Detroit immediately resume service to all residents who are unable to pay their water bills.

MAUREEN TAYLOR: This United Nations team has come to Detroit and has spent three days here. They will be here three solid days. This is an opportunity to buoy our spirits, to certainly tell the community we are not wrong in this fight to demand that water remains a public trust, we're not wrong in this fight to demand that water is never shut off, and the fact that there are people from around the globe that understand this does not in any way diminish your interpretation because you're local. That's L-O-C-A-L, local, not loco. You're not loco. And I think that that's the issue. So I think this is a spectacular moment in history. No one suspected that this would happen. And the phones are ringing. This is Sunday, and the phones are still ringing. Well, people are quite interested in this, so I think it's a good special and a—what do they call it? A watershed moment.

PROTESTERS: Whose water? Our water! Whose water? Our water! Whose water? Our water!

VALERIE BLAKELY: I was making coffee. I heard something out front of my house. I looked out the window, and I saw it was a very large, big red Homrich truck. I knew that Homrich was the company that had been hired to do the Detroit water shutoffs, so I immediately realized that I was going to get my water shut off. I grabbed my phone and my camera, and I rushed down the stairs. And outside on my porch, the second I hit my porch, I started documenting the scene. And I said in a really, really strong voice, a loud voice, that "You're not going to shut my water off today. I've got kids to take care of. Call the cops if you want."

COLETTA ESTES: When they failed to hire new employees, when they eliminated the collection people that would go out and try and collect and the people that would do the shutoffs, they downsized them, so then people were accumulating huge water bills. So there's a large responsibility that is with the city and the department itself. They need to come up with a way to make this right.

DEMEEKO WILLIAMS: The water department made up a story saying that there were threats of a blockade against the payment centers, and that was totally unfounded. This had been happening for a very long time. Go to any payment center on a normal workday, and you would see armed guards with wands and long lines of people, you know, trying to get in to settle their situations, and they're being intimidated.

CECILY McCLELLAN: I would ask the U.N. to demand that the citizens of Detroit, Highland Park or this region not be treated like noncitizens or Detroit not be treated like a Third World, in that they demand that everyone put a moratorium on water shutoffs.

PROTESTERS: Whose water? Our water! Whose water? Our water! Whose water? Our water! Whose water? Our water! Whose water? Our water!

Categories: Media

How to Drive a Colleague to His Grave and Sleep Easy at Night

FAIR Blog - Tue, 10/21/2014 - 1:46pm
Ryan Grim's new book sheds new light on the establishment media's 1996 effort to discredit Gary Webb's Contra crack revelations by talking to some of the key players. They sleep very well, they want you to know.
Categories: Media

When 'Washington Is Broken' Isn't the Story

FAIR Blog - Mon, 10/20/2014 - 10:17pm
The United States does not have a surgeon general because Washington works--for the gun lobby.
Categories: Media