Sarah Zheng reports: Hong Kong’s summer of protests looks very different from inside and outside the Great Firewall that encircles the internet in mainland China.
On Monday morning, the top trending topic on Weibo, China’s highly regulated version of Twitter, featured a Shanghai tourist who was “harassed and beaten” during a massive pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong on Sunday evening. It racked up 520 million views. A prominent video on the topic from Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily showed the man, surnamed Ma, telling reporters about protesters accosting and accusing him of photographing their faces, under the tagline: “Is this the ‘safety’ that rioters are talking about?”
But in Hong Kong, where there is unfettered access to the internet, the focus was on the peaceful Sunday demonstrations, which organisers said drew 1.7 million people despite heavy rain. On LIHKG, the online forum where Hong Kong protesters discuss and organise their action, one hot topic celebrated Weibo posts on Ma that mentioned a taboo – Beijing’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989. The topic cheered the “first time China’s Weibo allowed public discussion of June 4th”, referencing posts about Photoshopped images of Ma in a shirt calling for justice over the crackdown.
Since the protests began in Hong Kong in early June, triggered by a now-shelved extradition bill, there has been a clear dichotomy between how the movement has been portrayed online, inside and outside China. Read the rest of this entry »
For nearly 40 years, Bill Burhans has steadfastly maintained he wasn’t drunk when, as an Air Force lieutenant colonel driving fellow U.S. military liaisons home from a holiday party with their Soviet counterparts in East Germany, he lost control of the car, careened up an embankment and slammed into a bus.
Matthew M. Burke and Marcus Kloeckner report: When the car came to a stop on Dec. 29, 1979, Air Force Lt. Col. James Tonge, his passenger, called to him to move the car to the shoulder. But Burhans sat frozen, except for his trembling hands.
It was as if he’d been “hit in the head with an ax at the slaughterhouse,” Tonge would later tell U.S. investigators in a sworn statement.
“He didn’t respond at all,” Tonge said of Burhans, who at the time was set to replace him as deputy of the U.S. Military Liaison Mission.
Based in Potsdam, near Berlin, the USMLM’s official mission was to serve as a liaison between the U.S. military command and its Soviet counterpart in post-war Germany, but its personnel also gathered intelligence, monitored Soviet forces and reported on readiness throughout the Cold War era. French, British and Soviet liaison missions did similar work.
After helping Burhans into the back seat, Tonge moved the car himself.
Police arrived in minutes. Read the rest of this entry »
The Mental State of M. Todd Henderson
by Elaine Ash
As the purge of conservative and libertarian pundits roils You Tube, Twitter, Facebook and anywhere speech is supposedly free, M. Todd Henderson and his political thriller Mental State fight an uphill battle to release in October.
In late 2015, I was hired as a freelance editor by Mr. Henderson, a law professor at the University of Chicago. His book, Mental State, is based on the real-life partially unsolved murder of Florida law professor Dan Markel. In the book, the murder is pinned on the wrong perp.
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On Sunday, the Unite the Right II rally of white supremacists fizzled out. Antifa demonstrators in Charlottesville, Va., who gathered to mark the anniversary of the first Unite the Right rally, threw eggs at Secret Service, were arrested for assaulting a man wearing a Make America Great Again hat, launched fireworks and smoke bombs at police and assaulted NBC reporter Cal Perry. Perry had his camera knocked out of his hands while the protester screamed profanities at him.
The story appears on various media sites, and several reporters tweeted about the attack, but the outrage was muted. Instead, nearly every outlet went out of their way to gently describe the Antifa mob. The headlines at CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post made sure to call the group “anti-hate protesters.”
After two years of constant self-applause, and furrowed-brow concern about President Trump sowing mistrust in the media as well as possibly instigating violence against its members, where is the outrage when a reporter is physically assaulted?
Had it been an alt-right member doing the attacking, is there any doubt the story would lead all news shows and make the front page of all the major newspapers?
Also on Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio sat down with Brian Stelter at CNN to continue his crybaby “News Corp is mean to me so I wish they’d disappear” tour. Read the rest of this entry »
The company sampled searches from a Beijing-based website to hone its blacklists.
Engineers working on the censorship sampled search queries from 265.com, a Chinese-language web directory service owned by Google.
Unlike Google.com and other Google services, such as YouTube, 265.com is not blocked in China by the country’s so-called Great Firewall, which restricts access to websites deemed undesirable by the ruling Communist Party regime.
265.com was founded in 2003 by Cai Wensheng, a Chinese entrepreneur known as the “the godfather of Chinese webmasters.” In 2008, Google acquired the website, which it now operates as a subsidiary. Records show that 265.com is hosted on Google servers, but its physical address is listed under the name of the “Beijing Guxiang Information and Technology Co.,” which is based out of an office building in northwest Beijing’s Haidian district.
265.com provides news updates, links to information about financial markets, and advertisements for cheap flights and hotels. It also has a function that allows people to search for websites, images, videos, and other content. However, search queries entered on 265.com are redirected to Baidu, the most popular search engine in China and Google’s main competitor in the country.
It appears that Google has used 265.com as a de facto honeypot for market research, storing information about Chinese users’ searches before sending them along to Baidu. Google’s use of 265.com offers an insight into the mechanics behind its planned Chinese censored search platform, code-named Dragonfly, which the company has been preparing since spring 2017.
After gathering sample queries from 265.com, Google engineers used them to review lists of websites that people would see in response to their searches. The Dragonfly developers used a tool they called “BeaconTower” to check whether the websites were blocked by the Great Firewall. They compiled a list of thousands of websites that were banned, and then integrated this information into a censored version of Google’s search engine so that it would automatically manipulate Google results, purging links to websites prohibited in China from the first page shown to users. Read the rest of this entry »
- The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Tommy Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying.
- Without having access to his own lawyer, Robinson was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.
- Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced Robinson also ordered British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. All this happened on the same day.
- In Britain, rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.
“One potentially positive aspect of this ugly turn of events is that it turned heads that should have been turned long ago.”
In recent years, alas, Britain has deviated from its commitment to liberty. Foreign critics of Islam, such as the American scholar Robert Spencer, and for a time, even the Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders have been barred from the country. Now, at least one prominent native critic of Islam, Tommy Robinson, has been repeatedly harassed by the police, railroaded by the courts, and left unprotected by prison officials who have allowed Muslim inmates to beat him senseless. Clearly, British authorities view Robinson as a troublemaker and would like nothing more than to see him give up his fight, leave the country (as Ayaan Hirsi Ali left the Netherlands), or get killed by a jihadist (as happened to the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh).
On Friday, as reported here yesterday, the saga of Tommy Robinson entered a new chapter. British police officers pulled him off a street in Leeds, where, in his role as a citizen journalist, he was livestreaming a Facebook video from outside a courthouse. Inside that building, several defendants were on trial for allegedly being part of a so-called “grooming gang” — a group of men, almost all Muslim, who systematically rape non-Muslim children, in some cases hundreds of them, over a period of years or decades. Some ten thousand Facebook viewers around the world witnessed Robinson’s arrest live.
The police promptly dragged Robinson in front of a judge, where, without having access to his own lawyer, he was summarily tried and sentenced to 13 months behind bars. He was then transported to Hull Prison.
Meanwhile, the judge who sentenced him also ordered the British media not to report on his case. Newspapers that had already posted reports of his arrest quickly took them down. Even ordinary citizens who had written about the arrest on social media removed their posts, for fear of sharing Robinson’s fate. All this happened on the same day.
A kangaroo court, then a gag order. In the United Kingdom, where rapists enjoy the right to a full and fair trial, the right to the legal representation of their choice, the right to have sufficient time to prepare their cases, and the right to go home on bail between sessions of their trial. No such rights were offered, however, to Tommy Robinson.
The swiftness with which injustice was meted out to Robinson is stunning. No, more than that: it is terrifying. On various occasions over the years, I have been subjected in person to an immediate threat of Islamic violence: I have had a knife pulled on me by a young gang member, and been encircled by a crowd of belligerent men in djellabas outside a radical mosque. But that was not frightening. This is frightening — this utter violation of fundamental British freedoms. Read the rest of this entry »
Camille Paglia’s Defense of Jordan Peterson, Excerpted from a Longer Statement Sent in Response to Queries from a Brazilian JournalistPosted: March 29, 2018
From Camille Paglia: excerpted from a longer statement sent in response to queries from a Brazilian journalist writing a profile of me for a major Brazilian magazine, Epoca.
The scandal involving Cambridge Analytica’s abuse of Facebook data underscores the point.
Ben Shapiro writes:
… In 2012, The Guardian reported that President Obama’s reelection team was “building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before.”
… Facebook had no problem with such activity then. They do now. There’s a reason for that. The former Obama director of integration and media analytics stated that, during the 2012 campaign, Facebook allowed the Obama team to “suck out the whole social graph”; Facebook “was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.” She added, “They came to [the] office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”
Not so with Trump. As soon as Facebook realized that Cambridge Analytica had pursued a similar strategy, they suspended the firm.
This whole hullaballoo about Facebook isn’t complicated.
1. Trump wins.
2. Democrats/Left declare social media in “crisis,” threaten legislation.
3. Social media heads punish conservatives.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 20, 2018
Again, this isn’t surprising. Since Trump’s election, Democrats — in search of a rationale for their favored candidate’s defeat — have blamed a bevy of social media outlets. Senate Democrats trotted out pathetic Russian-created memes on Facebook, viewed by a handful of human beings, as an excuse for Hillary’s loss; Democrats claimed — without evidence — that “fake news” had swamped Facebook and thus led to Trump’s victory. Democrats have also insisted that Facebook be regulated. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) raged, “You’ve created these platforms, and now they’re being misused, and you have to be the ones to do something about it. Or we will.” Facebook’s former privacy manager called for the government to step into an oversight role regarding Facebook.
In February, Wired magazine ran a cover story specifically dealing with Facebook’s role in the election of 2016, and their subsequent attempts to “fix” the problem. After the election, Mark Zuckerberg even met with Barack Obama, apparently in an attempt to convince Obama that he was serious about stopping the “misuse” of the platform. And in February, Zuckerberg said he wanted to re-jigger the algorithms on his platform to benefit content that Facebook deems “trustworthy, informative, and local.” Wired celebrated: “You can’t make the world more open and connected if you’re breaking it apart.” Read the rest of this entry »
China to Ban Citizens with Bad ‘Social Credit’ Rating from Raking Flights or Using Trains for Up to a YearPosted: March 19, 2018
President Xi Jinping’s plan based on principle ‘once untrustworthy, always restricted’ to come into effect on 1 May.
China said it will begin applying its so-called social credit system to flights and trains and stop people who have committed misdeeds from taking such transport for up to a year.
People who would be put on the restricted lists included those found to have committed acts like spreading false information about terrorism and causing trouble on flights, as well as those who used expired tickets or smoked on trains, according to two statements issued on the National Development and Reform Commission’s website on Friday.
Those found to have committed financial wrongdoings, such as employers who failed to pay social insurance or people who have failed to pay fines, would also face these restrictions, said the statements which were dated 2 March.
It added that the rules would come into effect on 1 May.
Sharyl Attkisson writes: What happens when federal agencies accused of possible wrongdoing — also control the alleged evidence against them? What happens when they’re the ones in charge of who inside their agencies — or connected to them — ultimately gets investigated and possibly charged?
Those questions are moving to the forefront as the facts play out in the investigations into our intelligence agencies’ surveillance activities.
There are two overarching issues.
First, there’s the alleged improper use of politically-funded opposition research to justify secret warrants to spy on U.S. citizens for political purposes.
Second, if corruption is ultimately identified at high levels in our intel agencies, it would necessitate a re-examination of every case and issue the officials touched over the past decade — or two — under administrations of both parties.
This is why I think the concerns transcend typical party politics.
It touches everybody. It’s potentially monumental.
This week, the FBI said it was unfair for the House Intelligence Committee not to provide its memo outlining alleged FBI abuses. The committee wrote the summary memo after reviewing classified government documents in the Trump-Russia probe.
The FBI’s complaint carries a note of irony considering that the agency has notoriously stonewalled Congress. Even when finally agreeing to provide requested documents, the Department of Justice uses the documents’ classified nature to severely restrict who can see them — even among members of Congress who possess the appropriate security clearance. Members who wish to view the documents must report to special locations during prescribed hours in the presence of Department of Justice minders who supervise them as they’re permitted to take handwritten notes only (you know, like the 1960s). Read the rest of this entry »
The agency tells a federal judge that it is investigating and ‘sincerely regrets its failure.’
The National Security Agency destroyed surveillance data it pledged to preserve in connection with pending lawsuits and apparently never took some of the steps it told a federal court it had taken to make sure the information wasn’t destroyed, according to recent court filings.
Word of the NSA’s foul-up is emerging just as Congress has extended for six years the legal authority the agency uses for much of its surveillance work conducted through U.S. internet providers and tech firms. President Donald Trump signed that measure into law Friday.
Since 2007, the NSA has been under court orders to preserve data about certain of its surveillance efforts that came under legal attack following disclosures that President George W. Bush ordered warrantless wiretapping of international communications after the 2001 terrorist attacks on the U.S. In addition, the agency has made a series of representations in court over the years about how it is complying with its duties.
However, the NSA told U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White in a filing on Thursday night and another little-noticed submission last year that the agency did not preserve the content of internet communications intercepted between 2001 and 2007 under the program Bush ordered. To make matters worse, backup tapes that might have mitigated the failure were erased in 2009, 2011 and 2016, the NSA said.
“The NSA sincerely regrets its failure to prevent the deletion of this data,” NSA’s deputy director of capabilities, identified publicly as “Elizabeth B.,” wrote in a declaration filed in October. “NSA senior management is fully aware of this failure, and the Agency is committed to taking swift action to respond to the loss of this data.”
Heather Lynn Mac Donald (born 1956) is an American political commentator, essayist, attorney and journalist. She is described as a secular conservative. She has advocated positions on numerous subjects including victimization, philanthropy, immigration reform and crime prevention. She is a Thomas W. Smith Fellow of the Manhattan Institute.
In this clip, she talks about delusional university students who see a threat in anything even though they are the most privileged people. Until this victimhood complex stops, there can be no win for free speech.
NYT Plays Defense For Iranian Mullahs: Demonstrators ‘Ignored Calls For Calm,’ Defied ‘Moderate’ Iranian LeadershipPosted: January 2, 2018
Ben Shapiro writes: On Monday, The New York Times ran the latest in a series of despicable pieces dedicated to making excuses for the tyrannical Islamist Iranian despotism. Here’s their tweet on the regime’s killing of dissidents:
Yes, it’s the fault of the demonstrators, who have somehow merely refused to heed the decent calls for calm from the Iranian mullahs. Oddly, The New York Times never has such words for Palestinian rioters who throw rocks at Israeli troops at the behest of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. When that happens, it’s Trump’s fault or the Jews’ fault. Somebody else’s fault, anyway.
But when it’s democracy-seeking Iranians, then they’re the problem.
The piece itself, by Thomas Erdbrink, is a disaster area. It contains lines like this one:
Despite Mr. Rouhani’s diplomatic language, it was clear the demonstrators would be given no leeway…Mr. Rouhani has urged demonstrators to avoid violence but defended their right to protest. He did so again on Monday on Twitter.
Rouhani is a tool of the regime, of course, and a radical Islamist to boot, as well as a Holocaust denier. But according to the Times, he’s a moderate:
This time, it is the failure of President Rouhani, a moderate, to deliver greater political changes and economic opportunity, despite the lifting of some of the sanctions against Iran as part of the nuclear deal. Young people are especially angry. The average age of those arrested is under 25, one official said.
And the protests are about economics, not about the repressive regime. Of course, the regime has spent billions of dollars on terrorism abroad, including the maximization of its bloodshed in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Yemen. But it’s just that the Iranian government hasn’t redistributed the oil wealth enough. The Iranians probably just need Bernie Sanders or something. Read the rest of this entry »
The people haven’t closed ranks behind the regime.
“After years of cynicism, sneering or simply tuning out all things political,” wrote Erdbrink, “Iran’s urban middle classes have been swept up in a wave of nationalist fervor.” He went on: “Mr. Trump and the Saudis have helped the government achieve what years of repression could never accomplish: widespread public support for the hard-line view that the United States and Riyadh cannot be trusted.”
Erdbrink’s argument echoed rhetoric from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif. Responding to October’s announcement of new U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Zarif tweeted: “Today, Iranians–boys, girls, men, women–are ALL IRGC.”
Politico reporter is punished for raising the curtain on Obama’s Hezbollah policy.
Lee Smith reports: A week after Josh Meyer’s Politico expose, “The Secret Backstory Of How Obama Let Hezbollah Off the Hook,” former Obama officials are still berating Meyer for his 13,000-word article detailing how the Obama administration killed a nearly decade-long DEA effort to stem a global Hezbollah cocaine-smuggling-and-organized-crime ring to help secure its nuclear deal with Iran. “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision,” former Defense Department analyst David Asher explained in the article. “They serially ripped apart this entire effort that was very well supported and resourced, and it was done from the top down.”
Asher helped establish and oversee the project, codenamed Cassandra, that looked into Hezbollah’s wide-range of illicit activities across the globe, including weapons procurement, drug trafficking, and money laundering. Senior Obama officials, according to Asher, ignored the legal and financial instruments that he and others had provided to target a terrorist organization with American blood on its hands and was still plotting against the United States.
In response, a Twitter mob of mid-level bureaucrats and former intelligence officersorchestrated in the usual fashion attacked Asher in tandem with the media echo chamber used to sell the Iran Deal, with former political operatives from the Obama White House supplying the usual talking points to their hatchet-men. Meyer’s “on the record sources have undisclosed anti-Iran deal bias,” tweeted former Obama speechwriter Tommy Vietor, who has remade himself as a podcast host. Meyer’s “entire piece,” tweeted Obama lieutenant and former CIA officer Ned Price, “is based on pure speculation by these ‘1 or 2 sources’ w undisclosed anti-Iran deal bias.”
The catchphrase, “undisclosed anti-Iran deal bias,” is an extended replay version of the catchy slogans Team Obama used to market the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Opponents and critics of the nuclear deal were “warmongers” beholden to “donors” with “agendas” whose concerns were shaped by their loyalties not to America but rather to the Jewish state. Now, the echo chamber insisted, Meyer’s sources aren’t to be trusted because they were against the Iran deal, or have associated with think tanks that opposed the Iran Deal—which means that they are secret neocon slaves of Israel, of course. Read the rest of this entry »
BUSTED! YourNewsWire.com Propaganda: Did George Soros Suffer a ‘Massive Heart Attack’ on Christmas Eve?Posted: December 27, 2017
Reports that the Hungarian-American billionaire experienced a life-threatening cardiac condition just before Christmas 2017 are fake news.
George Soros experienced a life-threatening cardiac condition just before Christmas 2017.
On 25 December 2017, frequent offender YourNewsWire.com reported that Hungarian-American business magnate George Soros had suffered a heart attack in Hungary on Christmas Eve and underwent triple coronary artery bypass surgery soon afterward:
George Soros suffered a “massive heart attack” while inspecting a new faculty building at his private university in Budapest, Hungary on Sunday morning, according to Hungarian reports.
Soros had been complaining of “severe indigestion” and “foggy thinking” in the early hours of the day, according to reports, and began to feel unwell while meeting staff in the new faculty building, announcing that “the hand of God has seized me by the neck.”
Dismissing suggestions he was reacting badly to his traditional Christmas Eve lunchtime meal, Soros staggered outside in search of fresh air, before collapsing just outside the gymnasium of the Central European University.
The globalist billionaire, who recently donated $18 billion to international liberal causes, collapsed against a wall, before slumping to the ground where he was found “lying on his side, whimpering softly.”
“Quick-thinking actions” by “trained gymnasium staff” saved Soros’s life and “expert CPR” helped the 87-year-old billionaire survive and avoid brain damage, according to reports in Hungary’s liberal media.
After 15 minutes of CPR the paramedics arrived and took over. Soros was given the defibrillator three times and they managed to restart his heart and take him to a private residence where he where he underwent triple coronary artery bypass surgery.
This report is false. Read the rest of this entry »
Josh Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack.
Matthew Continetti writes: ;Nothing has been more tedious over the last year than the constant reminders that good journalism is “now more important than ever.” The implication, of course, is that solid, groundbreaking reporting was not as essential so long as a liberal Democrat was in power. I’ve long assumed that the factotums mouthing such clichés lack the self-awareness to understand the true import of their words. But maybe I’ve been wrong. Recent days brought evidence that, no, liberals really mean it: The only meaningful investigative work is that which reflects poorly on Republicans.
“Meyer points to congressional testimony from former Treasury official Katherine Bauer, who said last February, ‘These investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.'”
Earlier this week, for example, Politico Magazine published a story by Josh Meyer headlined “The secret backstory of how Obama let Hezbollah off the hook.” This epic and copiously sourced piece relates how, “in its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it [Hezbollah, not the Obama administration] was funneling cocaine into the United States.”
“President Obama, in other words, slow-walked counter-narcotics efforts for the inane ‘greater good’ of paying Iran billions to pretend to shut down its nuclear program for ten years. This is the very definition of ‘stupid stuff.'”
The law-enforcement program in question is called Project Cassandra, which for eight years “used wiretaps, undercover operations, and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.”
However, as investigators came closer to unraveling the globe-spanning conspiracy, “the Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force.” Linger over that last item for a second.
“Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack. He worked for the Los Angeles Times, for NBC News, and for the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative before joining Politico as a senior investigative reporter. His Twitter feed contains plenty of criticisms of President Trump and congressional Republicans. And his story is solid.”
Meyer cites “dozens” of interviews and documents as evidence. He quotes a veteran U.S. intelligence operative — the sort of guy whose every utterance is anonymously paraded in the newspapers and magazines so long as it’s anti-Trump — who says, “This was a policy decision, it was a systematic decision.” And the reason for this systematic decision, presumably, was to make Hezbollah’s Iranian backers more willing to deal with the Obama administration on nukes.
“He explores different angles and gives his subjects fair comment. He’s produced a classic example of the good journalism that our betters tell us we need more than ever. Except our betters don’t like it, not one bit, because it reflects poorly on the most significant – yet dubious and controversial – achievement of Barack Obama’s second term.”
Meyer points to congressional testimony from former Treasury official Katherine Bauer, who said last February, “These investigations were tamped down for fear of rocking Iran and jeopardizing the nuclear deal.” President Obama, in other words, slow-walked counter-narcotics efforts for the inane “greater good” of paying Iran billions to pretend to shut down its nuclear program for ten years. This is the very definition of “stupid stuff.”
“‘Non-fact based anti-Iran Deal propaganda,’ sneers former deputy national security adviser and creative-writing expert Ben Rhodes.”
Meyer is not an ideologue, not a partisan, not a quack. He worked for the Los Angeles Times, for NBC News, and for the Medill National Security Journalism Initiative before joining Politico as a senior investigative reporter. His Twitter feed contains plenty of criticisms of President Trump and congressional Republicans. And his story is solid. He explores different angles and gives his subjects fair comment. He’s produced a classic example of the good journalism that our betters tell us we need more than ever. Read the rest of this entry »
Project Cassandra leaders, who were working out of a DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, Obama Justice and Treasury Department officials delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.
Alex Pappas reports: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is launching a review of a law enforcement initiative called Project Cassandra after an investigative report was published this week claiming the Obama administration gave a free pass to Hezbollah’s drug-trafficking and money-laundering operations to help ensure the Iran nuclear deal would stay on track.
The Justice Department said in a statement to Fox News that Sessions on Friday directed a review of prior Drug Enforcement Administration investigations “to evaluate allegations that certain matters were not properly prosecuted and to ensure all matters are appropriately handled.”
“While I am hopeful that there were no barriers constructed by the last administration to allowing DEA agents to fully bring all appropriate cases under Project Cassandra, this is a significant issue for the protection of Americans,” Sessions said in a written statement. “We will review these matters and give full support to investigations of violent drug trafficking organizations.”
According to a bombshell exposé in Politico on Sunday, an elaborate campaign led by the Drug Enforcement Administration, known as Project Cassandra, targeted the Lebanese militant group’s criminal activities.
“We will review these matters and give full support to investigations of violent drug trafficking organizations.”
– Attorney General Jeff Sessions
But when Project Cassandra leaders, who were working out of a DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, Obama Justice and Treasury Department officials delayed, hindered or rejected their requests, according to Politico. Read the rest of this entry »
Now swap out “Trump” for “Obama” and “Russia” for “Iran” and imagine the eruption these revelations would generate. Because, by any conceivable journalistic standard, this scandal should’ve triggered widespread coverage and been plastered on front pages across the country. By any historic standard, the scandal should elicit outrage regarding the corrosion of governing norms from pundits and editorial boards.
Yet, as it turns out, there’s an exceptionally good chance most of your neighbors and colleagues haven’t heard anything about it.
Days after the news broke, in fact, neither NBC News, ABC News nor CBS News — whose shows can boast a collective 20 million viewers — had been able to find the time to relay the story to its sizeable audiences. Other than Fox News, cable news largely ignored the revelations, as well.
Most major newspapers, which have been sanctimoniously patting themselves on the back for the past year, couldn’t shoehorn into their pages a story about potential collusion between the former president and a terror-supporting state. Read the rest of this entry »
The New York Times has already moved on to the ‘Republicans pounce’ portion of the news cycle.
Becket Adams writes: Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is facing a brewing scandal involving hyper-partisan texts written by his former team members, and the New York Times has already moved on to the “Republicans pounce” portion of the news cycle.
Because that’s often the modus operandi for these sorts of things.
Peter Strzok, who specializes in Russian counterintelligence, was removed from Mueller’s team this July. The decision to take Strzok off the Russia investigation came after the Justice Department’s inspector general discovered he had sent and received dozens of anti-Trump texts between August 2015 and 2016 from Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer with whom Strzok was having an affair. Page was also on Mueller’s team, but only briefly. She returned to the FBI before the special counsel was made aware of the texts.
There’s really no getting around it: The texts are extremely partisan.
“I can not believe Donald Trump is likely to be an actual, serious candidate for president,” Page wrote in one note.
Strzok wrote in another note, “God Hillary should win. 100,000,000-0.”
“And maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace,” Page wrote in another text. “I can protect our country at many levels, not sure if that helps.” Read the rest of this entry »
Its ‘Red Century’ series portrays communism as a noble cause.
National Day for the Victims of Communism. The New York Times marked the same anniversary in a different way: by running a series of articles extolling the virtues of communism.writes: The Trump administration marked this week’s 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution by declaring a
The irony of the series’ title, “Red Century,” seems lost on the Times’s editors. The 20th century was “red” indeed — red with the blood of communism’s victims. The death toll of communism, cited in “The Black Book of Communism,” is simply staggering: In the USSR, nearly 20 million dead; China, 65 million; Vietnam, 1 million; Cambodia, 2 million; Eastern Europe, 1 million; Africa, 1.7 million; Afghanistan, 1.5 million; North Korea: 2 million (and counting). In all, Communist regimes killed some 100 million people — roughly four times the number killed by the Nazis — making communism the most murderous ideology in human history.
Never mind all that. University of Pennsylvania professor Kristen R. Ghodsee writes that Communists had better sex: “Eastern women had twice as many orgasms as Western women . . . [who] had less sex, and less satisfying sex, than women who had to line up for toilet paper.” She has tough words for Joseph Stalin because he “reversed much of the Soviet Union’s early progress in women’s rights — outlawing abortion and promoting the nuclear family.” Yes, that was Stalin’s crime. Not the purges, not the gulag, but promoting the nuclear family.
In “How Did Women Fare in China’s Communist Revolution?” Helen Gao recalls her grandmother “talking with joyous peasants from the newly collectivized countryside” and writes that “for all its flaws, the Communist revolution taught Chinese women to dream big.” Mao’s revolution killed tens of millions of Chinese — not counting the millions killed under China’s brutal “One Child” policy, which led to widespread female infanticide. Those Chinese girls never got a chance to dream at all.
In “Lenin’s Eco-Warriors,” Yale lecturer Fred Strebeigh writes that Lenin was “a longtime enthusiast for hiking and camping” who turned Russia into “a global pioneer in conservation.” He fails to mention that Lenin was also a mass murderer who executed more of his political opponents in the first four months of his rule than the czars had in the entire previous century. In one telegram, reproduced in “The Black Book of Communism,” Lenin orders the Cheka (a predecessor of the KGB) to “Hang (I mean hang publicly, so that people see it) at least 100 kulaks, rich bastards, and known bloodsuckers.” (The telegram concludes with an eerie “P.S. Find tougher people.”) Maybe he was camping when he wrote it.
Berkeley professor Yuri Slezkine explains “How to Parent Like a Bolshevik,” noting that “At home, the children of the Bolsheviks read what they called the ‘treasures of world literature,’ with an emphasis on the Golden Ages analogous to their own” and that “Soviet readers were expected to learn from Dante, Shakespeare and Cervantes.” He does not say whether they were also expected to learn from Orwell. Read the rest of this entry »
As the Federal Communications Commission nears a fateful decision on network neutrality, it’s beginning to feel a lot like Y2K all over again.
You may remember Dec. 31, 1999. That’s the last time the Internet was expected to die, because millions of computers were going to crash when their internal clocks failed to turn over to the year 2000. I sat in the Globe’s newsroom, waiting for the end. Nothing happened. It was quite a letdown.
Now here comes another “apocalypse.” On Dec 14, the FCC is expected to abandon the Obama administration’s policy on so-called Net neutrality, in which the government forces Internet providers to treat all data equally. Activists say it’s the end of the Internet as we know it, with giant Internet providers like Comcast and AT&T free to block or slow down access to key online services unless they’re paid extra to let the data flow.
But I’m betting hardly anything will change. Not the day after Dec. 14, the month after, or the year after.
I’m as subject to panic as the next guy, but I can’t see much reason to freak out over the supposed death of Net neutrality.
I’m on board with the principle that Internet carriers should not be allowed to block certain Internet services or deliberately slow them down to make them less accessible. Many activists go further and reject “paid prioritization,” or giving superior “fast lane” service to consumers willing to pay extra.
Serious breaches of Net neutrality are pretty hard to find. An activist group called Free Press published a “greatest hits” list of alleged violations. They found 12. Oops . . . make that 10. In two decades of widespread Internet use in America, they couldn’t find even a dozen significant violations, so Free Press padded the list with two cases from outside the United States. Even the remaining 10 are questionable cases that may have been driven by network security or traffic management disputes, rather than by efforts to stamp out rivals.
Still, the Net neutrality lobby, which includes massive users of Internet services such as Google and Netflix, wanted tougher regulatory protection. They got it in 2015, when the FCC decided to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.
Some called it a life preserver for Internet freedom; I call it regulatory overkill on a massive scale. Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a staunch supporter of the Title II approach, warned in 2015 that a portion of the plan “sounds like a recipe for overreach and confusion.” Read the rest of this entry »
Poll: 71% of Americans Say Political Correctness Has Silenced Discussions Society Needs to Have, 58% Have Political Views They’re Afraid to SharePosted: November 1, 2017
Emily Ekins reports: The Cato 2017 Free Speech and Tolerance Survey, a new national poll of 2,300 U.S. adults, finds that 71% Americans believe that political correctness has silenced important discussions our society needs to have. The consequences are personal—58%
of Americans believe the political climate prevents them from sharing their own political beliefs.
Democrats are unique, however, in that a slim majority (53%) do not feel the need to self-censor. Conversely, strong majorities of Republicans (73%) and independents (58%) say they keep some political beliefs to themselves.
It follows that a solid majority (59%) of Americans think people should be allowed to express unpopular opinions in public, even those deeply offensive to others.
On the other hand, 40% think government should prevent hate speech. Despite this, the survey also found Americans willing to censor, regulate, or punish a wide variety of speech and expression they personally find offensive:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it’s “morally acceptable” to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 51% of Democrats support a law that requires Americans use transgender people’s preferred gender pronouns.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Americans also can’t agree what speech is hateful, offensive, or simply a political opinion:
- 59% of liberals say it’s hate speech to say transgender people have a mental disorder; only 17% of conservatives agree.
- 39% of conservatives believe it’s hate speech to say the police are racist; only 17% of liberals agree.
- 80% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say illegal immigrants should be deported; only 36% of conservatives agree.
- 87% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say women shouldn’t fight in military combat roles, while 47% of conservatives agree.
- 90% of liberals say it’s hateful or offensive to say homosexuality is a sin, while 47% of conservatives agree.
Americans Oppose Hate Speech Bans, But Say Hate Speech is Morally Unacceptable
Although Americans oppose (59%) outright bans on public hate speech, that doesn’t mean they think hate speech is acceptable. Read the rest of this entry »
Chance Miller reports: Earlier this year, Apple was forced to remove several VPN apps from the App Store in China due to regulatory reasons. At the time, Tim Cook explained that he would rather not remove them, but was forced to comply.
Now, United States Senators Ted Cruz and Patrick Leahy are pressing Apple for more information…
In a letter sent to Tim Cook, Cruz and Leahy say Apple may be “enabling the Chinese government’s censorship and surveillance of the Internet,” noting that China has an “abysmal human rights record.”
Specifically, Cruz and Leahy pointed to Cook’s acceptance of the Newseum’s 2017 Free Expression Award. While receiving the award, Cook remarked that Apple “enables people around the world to speak up.” The senators, however, argue that Apple’s removal of VPN apps in China do the exact opposite of that:
While Apple’s many contributions to the global exchange of information are admirable, removing VPN apps that allow individuals in China to evade the Great Firewall and access the Internet privately does not enable people in China to “speak up.” To the contrary, if Apple complies with such demands from the Chinese governments, it inhibits free expression for users across China, particularly in light of the Cyberspace Administration of China’s new regulations targeting online anonymity.
Cook and Leahy outline a list of questions they want Cook to answer. Read the rest of this entry »
Being a Journalist is Hard!
- New York Times Senior Home Page Editor, Des Shoe, Admits Company Culture of Blatant Bias at NYT is “widely understood to be liberal-leaning…”
- NYT Journalists: “if we write about him [Trump], and how insanely crazy he is…maybe people will read it and be like…we shouldn’t vote for him.”
- Calls Trump an “oblivious idiot” and Pence “f***ing horrible” Because of Religious Views
- Admits New York Times Report on “what the readers want”
- “They call it the Trump bump” Says Shoe, Regarding the Influx of Subscribers Since Trump’s Presidency Began
- Des Shoe: “The main objective is to grab subscribers. You do that any way that you can.”
(NEW YORK) – Project Veritas has released a video of the New York Times Homepage Editor Des Shoe, who was caught on hidden-camera admitting that the Times has a liberal bias and attacking President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. This is part three of their American Pravda NYT investigation.
When confronted with the notion that during the election, The Times‘ front page, for which she is responsible, was completely focused around Trump. She tells the undercover journalist that NYT reporters tried to influence the election with their reporting:
“I think one of the things that maybe journalists were thinking about is like…Oh, if we write about him, about how insanely crazy he is and how ludicrous his policies are, then maybe people will read it and be like, oh wow, we shouldn’t vote for him.”
She admits that the New York Times has a clearly defined liberal-leaning bias: “The New York Times is not…I mean, it’s widely understood to be liberal-leaning. But, American newspapers are not supposed to claim a bias, they’re supposed to be objective.”
“So the…ahh, but the New York Times is not left?” the Project Veritas journalist asked. Shoe clarified, “I’m not saying that they’re not. I’m saying it’s widely, widely understood to be left-leaning.”
She also tells the undercover journalist that reporting objectively is simply too difficult for the Times: “Our main stories are supposed to be objective. It’s very difficult in this day and age to do that.”
Shoe blames the business model for the New York Times‘ lack of fact-based reporting:
“This is what I was trying to say is like the last couple years it’s changed for the bad…
“I think the business model itself is just… there’s so much panic about what to do that, you know, what else is a company supposed to do?
“That’s the conundrum…is that a business model, in this time is built on what the readers want.”
The New York Times senior homepage editor goes on to explain the positive effect of Trump’s victory: “Since the election, like you know…Speaking on, you know, for The New York Times, our subscriptions have sky-rocketed since…I mean, they call it the Trump bump.”
This sentiment was echoed by Nick Dudich, who was featured in American Pravda Part 1 and Part 2. He explains, “I mean honestly, Trump has driven us more business than anybody else. Anytime he says failing, we add a boost of subscribers.”
The New York Times responded to Part I in a statement, calling Dudich “a recent hire in a junior position.” Later, Executive Editor of the NYT Dean Baquet described Dudich as “a kid…who just started his career in journalism.” The same cannot be said for Ms. Shoe, a senior-level employee who has been with The Times since January of 2009.
Des Shoe claims that the New York Times has to chase clicks in the current media environment, “The Washington Post, people who have paywalls up…The main objective is to grab subscribers. You do that any way that you can.”
When told the New York Times seems more like a ‘click-paper’, Shoe replies:
“I mean, you’re not wrong. Like, I would love to be able to speak my mind completely about…If I ever leave the Times I’ll go back to you guys and tell you exactly what I think. But, I mean, there’s stuff like…And this is what I was trying to say is like the last couple years it’s changed for the bad.”
Shoe finally goes on to explain her personal biases against President Trump, “I feel like Trump is…is just a…is sort of an idiot in a lot of ways. Just an oblivious idiot.” Read the rest of this entry »
Justin Caruso reports: CNN’s Brooke Baldwin ended a segment Friday after a panelist expressed his love for the “First Amendment and boobs.”
“I’m a first amendment absolutist and believe in two things completely — the First Amendment and boobs,” Fox Sports Radio’s Clay Travis said.
Baldwin asked the panelist what he meant, not sure if he said “boobs” or “booze.”
“You don’t love boobs, too?”
“I’m not talking about that on television because it’s irrelevant to the topic. It shouldn’t be brought up here,” former ESPN editor Keith Reed responded. Read the rest of this entry »
The state of the Fourth Estate—and who can save it.
Brittany Karford Rogers writes: If hashtags had been a thing, these would have been some #FakeNews whoppers.
The 32 BC Mark Antony takedown: it began with a fake-news campaign masterminded by Octavian, complete with Tweet-like proclamations on ancient coins.
The Simon of Trent humdinger: in 1475 a prince-bishop in Italy set off a story that local Jews murdered missing 2-year-old Simon—and used his blood for rituals. Fifteen Jews burned at the stake.
The Benjamin Franklin special edition: he concocted an entire 1782 newspaper, peddling a fake story about Native Americans scalping 700 men, women, children, and infants.
In short, fake news is old news.
For all the handwringing over fake news today, BYU journalism professor Joel J. Campbell’s (BA ’87) response is more “meh.” It’s another punch for a profession that’s been in the ring for the better part of a decade. Trust in news media is at an all-time low. Revenue models are upended. Reporters are exhausted. Readers are fragmented. And that’s just a short list of jabs.
Looming larger in Campbell’s eyes are analytics-driven newsrooms and disenfranchised readers, who, flooded with content, are living in information silos or, worse, opting out altogether.
So how does one make sense of the crowded, increasingly polarized news landscape? And what’s left of journalism as we knew it?
BYU faculty and alumni practitioners—their collective résumés spanning Fox News, C-SPAN, CNN, the Atlantic, and more—have some ideas.
Before you throw your hands up, consider the forces at play, take heart in journalists’ earnest self-searching, and look in the mirror—because the finger pointing goes all the way around.
It’s worth asking, “Is journalism still doing its job?” But as our panel of experts chimes, there’s an equally important question: “Do the citizens of this country have the will to save it?”
A Happy Accident
Journalism has a lofty goal—one epitomized by the career of R. John Hughes.
The emeritus BYU professor won the Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for his coverage of an attempted communist coup and its bloody aftermath in Indonesia. Over his career as a writer for and then editor of the Christian Science Monitor, he covered revolutions and interviewed world leaders.
“Journalism was almost like a religion to me, to get the story, and get it right, to help evince change,” Hughes says. “It’s a kind of love affair for most journalists, shining light in dark corners.”
Journalists call themselves the watchdogs, the truth seekers. The press is dubbed the Fourth Estate after all, the final check on all three branches of government. Democracy requires informed citizens; the press make up the informants. “Democracy Dies in Darkness” goes the new Washington Post tagline.
That’s the why of modern journalism.
The how—being objective, non-partisan—“is rather a new phenomenon in the history of news,” says Campbell.
It has always depended on who’s paying.
Wealthy traders and merchants underwrote the first news in the Americas, and it was all route intel. In the colonial period political parties footed the bill for most papers—party organs that were far more partisan and acrimonious than what we cry foul at today. It wasn’t until the penny-press era—the 1830s on—that a new funding model developed: scale up the circulation, then sell readers’ attention to advertisers. That advertising revenue could bring the cost of the paper down to something many could afford.
Writing to a mass audience, publishers began to recognize there was a market for real, honest news that could cross political divides and speak with a relatively neutral voice. This paved the way for professional journalism standards. And for most of the 20th century, it made newsrooms the information power brokers.
Then the internet smashed the model.
“For the last decade, we have seen a steady erosion of the advertising economy for newspapers,” says Campbell. That’s the nice way of saying it. Revenue streams have been gutted.
Department stores and auto malls, the go-to advertisers, cut back on ads, facing their own disruptions: e-commerce competition and recession. Craigslist happened to the classifieds. And reader eyeballs, once concentrated among a few media outlets, are now diverted to Facebook, YouTube, and that thing you just Googled—and the bulk of advertising has followed them.
As they say in the industry, the digital transition traded print dollars for digital dimes and, in turn, digital dimes for mobile pennies.
One thing is certain: it’s a fascinating time to study the news. Alum Seth C. Lewis (BA ’02) holds the Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media at the University of Oregon and is a leading scholar on the digital transformation of journalism.
“We’ve gone from media monopoly to media disruption and ubiquity,” says Lewis. And in ubiquity, no one gets a sizable piece of the economic pie.
Lewis suggests that maybe the last century of advertising-based news subsidy—which fostered these objective, non-partisan notions—“was just a happy accident. Maybe instead we’re returning to other forms of funding and thinking about the news.”
Beijing has been increasingly clamping down on use of VPNs in recent weeks. This has prompted concerns among various groups that it will stifle academic research and international trade.