Turkey: Show Trials Of Journalists Are A Travesty Of Justice

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By Staff of RSF – This week, ARTICLE 19 and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) are monitoring two trials of journalists in Turkey. On Monday 18 September they attended the first hearing in the trial of 30 journalists, columnists and staff working for Zaman newspaper, including Şahin Alpay, Ali Bulaç, Ahmet Alkan Turan and Mümtazer Türköne. Today, on Tuesday 19 September, they are attending the second hearing in the case of 17 journalists and columnists including Ahmet and Mehmet Altan. ARTICLE 19 and RSF call for the journalists to be released from pre-trial detention and for the charges to be dropped. In both trials, the defendants are accused of involvement in last year’s failed coup. They face charges of “attempting to overthrow the constitutional order through violence or force”, “attempting to overthrow or interfere with the work of the national assembly through violence or force” and “attempting to overthrow or interfere with the work of the government”. In the Zaman case, the defendants are also charged with membership of a terrorist organisation, which refers to the Gülen movement, the organisation the Turkish government blames for the coup attempt. In the Altans’ case, the defendants are charged with aiding a terrorist organisation without being a member, which carries the same sentence as membership.

Journalists Sue Chicago Police Over Hidden Records Of SWAT Responses To Mental Health Crises

From loevy.com

By Andy Thayer for Loevy and Loevy – CHICAGO – Independent journalist Sarah Lazare and community activist Debbie Southorn sued the Chicago Police Department today demanding release of records about Chicago SWAT deployments responding to mental health crises. A copy of the suit can be found here. These records are of particular public importance because all of Chicago’s mental health clinics have been closed or privatized in recent years, and SWAT teams are used to respond to mental health incidents. As Lazare and Southorn note in an article published yesterday at The Intercept, “Since 2013, Chicago police have deployed SWAT teams at least 38 times to respond to mental health incidents and suicide attempts,” as revealed by records produced in response to a previous FOIA request. * Laquan McDonald, killed by police officer Jason Van Dyke in October 2014. McDonald had been “diagnosed with complex mental health problems, including post-traumatic stress disorder” noted the Chicago Tribune, and had been hospitalized in psychiatric hospitals three times by the time he was 13.

Media Groups Concerned About Death Threats To California Newspaper

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By Staff of RSF – RSF first learned of threats against the twice weekly newspaper The Sacramento Valley Mirror last April, after the paper’s editor and publisher Tim Crews reached out by email. According to Crews and his attorney, he and reporter Larry Judkins began receiving threatening phone calls and complaints after they covered a local death in late March. In addition to the calls, Crews also sent RSF a photograph of a noose that had been left in front of the door to the paper’s offices in downtown Willows, California on April 21. “This threat, in broad daylight, means to us that the perpetrators, who are trying to warn us off a series we are working on, are operating with impunity,” Crews told RSF. “Since learning of the threat against the Valley Mirror, RSF has been closely monitoring the case, says Margaux Ewen, Advocacy and Communications Director for RSF’s North America Bureau. “Due to the lack of any serious development in the investigation to date and events of the last month where journalists in the United States have been arrested, manhandled and even physically assaulted for attempting to ask questions, it’s important that we implore the local authorities to take threats of violence against the press very seriously.”

Right Wing Venezuelans Threaten Reporters Abby Martin & Michael Prysner

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By Ben Norton for AlterNet – Prominent members of the right-wing Venezuelan opposition, including professors and journalists, are spreading blatant lies about U.S. journalists, inciting violence and subjecting them to a torrent of extreme death threats. As the price of oil has plummeted, Venezuela has seen growing inflation and goods shortages. The South American nation’s right-wing opposition — which has long been backed by the United States government, and which in 2002 briefly carried out a coup, with U.S. support — has exploited this crisis to launch a borderline insurgency against the democratically elected socialist government. For months, the right-wing opposition has been engaging in large, often bloody demonstrations. Protesters have lynched three Afro-Venezuelans, whom they accused of being “infiltrators”; two of the men were burned alive. Right-wing demonstrators have also set fire to government buildings and buses, and even thrown explosives and molotov cocktails at police. In response, Venezuelan security forces have cracked down on the violent protests. Dozens of people have been killed, on both sides. Some academic experts have suggested that the opposition is intentionally provoking a violent response, in hopes of attracting international media attention.

NYT’s New Syria-Sarin Report Challenged

New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)

By Robert Parry for Consortium News – For U.S. mainstream journalists and government analysts, their erroneous “groupthinks” often have a shady accomplice called “confirmation bias,” that is, the expectation that some “enemy” must be guilty and thus the tendency to twist any fact in that direction. We have seen this pair contribute to fallacious reasoning more and more in recent years as the mainstream U.S. media and the U.S. government approach international conflicts as if the “pro-U.S. side” is surely innocent and the “anti-U.S. side” is presumed guilty. That was the case in assessing whether Iraq was hiding WMD in 2002-2003; it was repeated regarding alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria during that six-year conflict; and it surfaces as well in the New Cold War in which Russia is always the villain. The trend also requires insulting any Western journalist or analyst who deviates from the groupthinks or questions the confirmation bias. The dissidents are called “stooges”; “apologists”; “conspiracy theorists”; or “purveyors of fake news.” It doesn’t really matter how reasonable the doubts are. The mocking insults carry the day.

Journalist Faces 75 Years For Covering DC Inauguration Protest

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By Matt Grubs for Santa Fe Reporter – Aaron Cantú, a staff writer at the Santa Fe Reporter, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he participated in a riot while working as a journalist during protests in Washington, DC on Inauguration Day. Cantú faces eight felony counts—including inciting a riot, rioting, conspiracy to riot and five counts of destruction of property. The grand jury handed up the indictment last week. On January 20, a collection of DC police and federal law enforcement officers arrested more than 200 people in connection with a rally that began as a protest, but turned destructive as several people broke the windows of businesses, damaged vehicles and allegedly caused a police officer to break his wrist. Cantú was not named specifically by prosecutors as the cause of any of the destruction, as some defendants were. Instead, the indictment named him as being present while the damage happened. The arrests have been criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union, other civil rights groups and newspapers as overly broad and lacking hard evidence. Video from the conservative media group The Rebel shows glimpses of Cantú off to the side of the protests with other journalists, washing what appears to be pepper spray from his eyes.

Oliver Stone Honored With Press Freedom Award

From Flickr/ Martha Soukup

By Robert Parry for Consortium News – Director Oliver Stone – in recognition of his brave work in documentary films – has been selected as the winner of the 2016 Gary Webb Freedom of the Press Award, reports Robert Parry. Though most people know Oliver Stone as a famous screenwriter and movie director, he has also lent his talents and resources to a number of documentary films that embrace the core journalistic idea that there are usually two sides – if not more – to a story. In doing so, Stone has taken on controversial subjects, both in challenging conventional history as with Showtime’s “Untold History of the United States” and daring to treat foreign leaders – who were undergoing demonization by the U.S. government and media – as complex figures who deserve to have their say as well. Not surprisingly, Stone has faced intense criticism for deviating from mainstream U.S. groupthinks, which seek to portray international adversaries as cardboard villains deserving only of American hatred and bombs.

Canadian Police Surveilling Journalists

Martin Prud'homme, chief of the Sûreté du Québec, testified Monday before the commission looking into the surveillance of journalists by police. (CBC)

By Staff for CBC News – The head of the Quebec provincial police revealed Monday that its officers had a seventh journalist under surveillance — Nicolas Saillant of the Journal de Québec. Sûreté du Québec Chief Martin Prud’homme revealed the information about Saillant in his testimony Monday at the commission tasked with looking into police surveillance of journalists. The commission is led by Quebec Court of Appeal Justice Jacques Chamberland. The revelation about Saillant came out of a cross-examination by Christian Leblanc, the lawyer representing a number of news organizations in the province, including CBC / Radio-Canada, before the commission.

Diversity Revolt At The Wall Street Journal

Gerry Baker, The Wall Street Journal's editor in chief. Monica Schipper/Getty Images

By Nathan McAlone for Business Insider – Reporters and editors at The Wall Street Journal have signed a letter to management expressing concern about the roles of women and people of color in the newsroom. “Diversity in the newsroom is good for business and good for our coverage,” says the letter, which was obtained by Business Insider. “We would like to see The Journal undertake a more comprehensive, intentional and transparent approach to improving it.” The letter comes at a time of dissent at The Journal, when leadership has been internally criticized for being soft on President Donald Trump, and over a year after the employees’ union published details of pay disparities in the newsroom.

Fake News About Venezuela: A Simple Recipe

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By Ricardo Vaz for InvestigAction – This recipe has been used and re-used plenty of times, either by US officials to justify policies or by media outlets. But given how the media critically accepts everything when it comes to foreign policy, there is hardly a distinction to be made here. A classical example were the fabricated connections between Chávez/Venezuela and al-Qaeda. Other variants involve dealings with the FARC (1), Mexican cartels, and the favourite dance partner is Hezbollah. On one hand, the US’ relation with al-Qaeda is now a bit more complicated, as extremists may get bombed if they are in Iraq but supported if they cross into Syria. On the other, Hezbollah is the biggest obstacle to Israeli hegemony and the colonisation of Palestine.

Coalition Urges North Dakota To Drop Charges Against #NoDAPL Journalists

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By Staff of Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontières (RSF) – a non-profit organization defending freedom of the press and access to information, along with the organizations below, write to express deep concerns regarding charges against multiple journalists for their coverage of protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. The undersigned have collectively documented at least 10 journalists currently facing charges stemming from their reporting on the protests. Filmmaker Jahnny Lee is being charged with physical obstruction of a government function and is next due to appear in court for an arraignment on March 22. Myron Dewey, owner of Digital Smoke Signals

‘Any Of The Journalists Present Could Have Been Arrested’

Filmmaker Jahnny Lee shortly before his arrest while recording an DAPL protest. (image: Reed Lindsay)

By Reed Lindsay for FAIR – As residents were evicted from the Oceti Sakowin Camp where they had gathered to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline, filmmaker and journalist Reed Lindsay posted this update on the continued assault on the First Amendment faced by independent journalists covering the #NODAPL struggle. Filmmaker Jahnny Lee working with the Sundance Institute was arrested yesterday by North Dakota police while filming a stand-off between police and water protectors. He was charged with “obstruction of a government function.” I can only surmise that the charge of “criminal trespass,” leveled at Jihan Hafiz and many other journalists while covering events of the Standing Rock resistance against the DAPL pipeline, could not be used against Jahnny because he was on State Highway 1806. (How can one trespass on a highway?)

Charges Dropped Against Journalist Covering Inauguration Protests

On inauguration day, police kettle protesters at the corner of 12th and L Streets in Washington, DC./Photo by Mark Hand

By Anne Meador for DC Media Group – Shay Horse, an independent photographer, was notified by the U.S. Attorney’s office that felony rioting charges against him had been dropped without prejudice. He had been arrested and charged during protests in Washington, DC on Jan. 20, the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Horse was among seven journalists who were arrested when police indiscriminately rounded up hundreds of protesters using a technique called “kettling.” Mass arrests in 2000 and 2002 led to lawsuit settlements in the millions. As part of the legal settlements, new policies were implemented which prohibited kettling. Police also tear gassed and pepper sprayed protesters and threw concussion grenades at them after a few “Black Bloc” demonstrators allegedly broke storefront windows and torched a limosine. In total, seven journalists were arrested and charged along with more than 200 protesters.

Reuters Grapples With Covering Trump While Administration Attacks News

From reuters.com

By Steve Adler for Reuters – The first 12 days of the Trump presidency (yes, that’s all it’s been!) have been memorable for all – and especially challenging for us in the news business. It’s not every day that a U.S. president calls journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth” or that his chief strategist dubs the media “the opposition party.” It’s hardly surprising that the air is thick with questions and theories about how to cover the new Administration. So what is the Reuters answer? To oppose the administration? To appease it? To boycott its briefings? To use our platform to rally support for the media?

Good Journalism Requires Openness To Foreign Sources Of Information

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By Steve Cunningham for Black Agenda Report. If it wasn’t for Wikileaks, we would think Hillary Clinton’s public position were here private position; that the DNC was perfectly neutral and that Hillary Clinton won her nomination fair and square; and that the sole purpose of the Clinton Foundation was AIDS research. If anything, Wikileaks saved the election from the lies and deception of the Clinton campaign. So what if a foreign entity intervened? There is a stark difference between foreign propaganda, and foreign intervention that leads to more truth being exposed. The difference is that the first one is founded on a lie, and the second one is founded on the truth. There can never be enough truth in a democracy, unless getting to that truth involves the violation of rights. Yet acts of civil disobedience in terms of hacking are necessary at times when so much truth has become obfuscated. We cannot say how much hacking is too much hacking, only when the rights of individuals have become so impugned that it outweighs the value of the hacking. Yet in this instance, so much truth was revealed, so as to outweigh the rights to privacy and other rights of the DNC members.