Try as we might, we can't hide from climate change. And now, thanks to a legally binding UN resolution, the US can't hide from its own heaps of trash. Next up, media literacy is a vital skill set – indeed, it shapes how we see every other issue. And now, there may be a way to build media literacy and hold journalists accountable by taking a page from Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes.
By Jo Ellen Green Kaiser for Yes! Magazine - Google, Facebook, and Twitter were hauled in front of Congress last week to explain how Russian bots were able to spread fake news on their platforms. The concern—and a very real one—is that these bots and fake news sites had a significant impact on the 2016 election. A better way to secure a media system that works for democracy is to strengthen independent news outlets. Fighting fake news, however, is not the only or best way to ensure that our content ecosystem prioritizes real news. This week, a groundbreaking article in Science proves that a better way to secure a media system that works for democracy is to strengthen independent news outlets. The five-year-long study published this week in Science, directed by Harvard professor Gary King and supported in part by Voqal, shows that even small independent news outlets can have a dramatic effect on the content of national conversation. King, along with his now former graduate students Ben Schneer and Ariel White, found that if just three outlets write about a particular major national policy topic—such as jobs, the environment, or immigration—discussion of that topic across social media rose by as much as 62.7 percent of a day’s volume, distributed over the week.
By Isaac Davis for Waking Times - We are in the post-constitutional era in the United States, a time when the government does whatever it wants to whomever it wants, and there is not a thing anyone can do about it. How it is possible that the president can bomb a foreign country or threaten a full-scale international war without so much as even mentioning the need for Congress to chime in, let alone actually vote on a declaration of war? The short answer is, disinformation and propaganda, which is the domain of mainstream media. When people are confused, when truth is hidden, when agendas are presented as life or death options, and when the public has no clue about which laws government is bound to, then anything goes. Regarding disinformation, the following list of 25 rules of disinformation is from Twenty-Five Ways To Suppress Truth: The Rules of Disinformation (Includes The 8 Traits of A Disinformationalist) by H. Michael Sweeney, and offers a comprehensive way of processing information in a time of universal deceit.
By Adam Johnson for FAIR - Five major US newspapers—the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News—offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump’s Thursday night airstrikes. By contrast, the five papers ran a total of 18 op-eds, columns or “news analysis” articles (dressed-up opinion pieces) that either praised the strikes or criticized them for not being harsh enough
By Rick Sterling for Consortium News - The U.S. government is creating a new $160 million bureaucracy to shut down information that doesn’t conform to U.S. propaganda narratives, building on the strategy that sold the bloody Syrian “regime change” war, writes Rick Sterling. The U.S. establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the “Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” that President Obama signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to combat any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s version of reality.
By James North and Philip Weiss for Mondoweiss - Sgt. Elor Azaria was convicted today by a military court in Jaffa of manslaughter for the execution of Abdel Fatah al-Sharif as he lay incapacitated in the street in Hebron last March, and there were immediate calls from Israeli political leaders and the public for the 20-year-old soldier to be pardoned. The story was the lead on BBC, and the New York Times and Washington Post also promptly put up the news. B’Tselem, the human rights organization whose video unleashed the investigation, said the case was the rare exception in which an Israeli soldier was held accountable for a human rights atrocity.
By Rick Sterling for Consortium News - The new law mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal agencies to create a Global Engagement Center “to lead, synchronize, and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national security interests.” The law directs the Center to be formed in 180 days and to share expertise among agencies and to “coordinate with allied nations.”
By David Spring for Turning Point News - Many of the IP addresses yielded the same dead end or otherwise highly suspicious result - meaning that some very large agency is using hundreds of servers in various countries around the world as a front for hacking attacks. I recently researched a series of attacks on my personal websites from hundreds of IP addresses using hundreds of servers that were supposedly located in the Ukraine. I was able to confirm the exact location in the Ukraine that was supposedly being used to launch literally thousands of attacks on my websites. However, it is not credible that anyone in the Ukraine has the millions of dollars needed to be running hundreds of servers in a remote Ukrainian location.
By Jack Balkwill for Intrepid Report - I believe that the murder of Russia’s ambassador to Turkey, Andrey Karlov, was the result of the influence of fake news dominating the corporate media around the world. The shooter, identified as a 22-year-old Turkish riot police officer, shouted that he was upset about what is happening in Aleppo after committing the murder on video. The public around the world are getting lies about what is happening in Aleppo, and no doubt with Turkey’s participation in spreading terror in Syria, Turkish citizens are not getting facts. Turkish crowds are protesting what they believe is happening in Aleppo.
By Chris Hedges for Truth Dig - The media landscape in America is dominated by “fake news.” It has been for decades. This fake news does not emanate from the Kremlin. It is a multibillion-dollar-a-year industry that is skillfully designed and managed by public relations agencies, publicists and communications departments on behalf of individuals, government and corporations to manipulate public opinion. This propaganda industry stages pseudo-events to shape our perception of reality. The public is so awash in these lies, delivered 24 hours a day through electronic devices and print, that viewers and readers can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction.
By Nauman Sadiq for Counter Currents - What bothers me is not that we are unable to find the solution to our problems, what bothers me more is the fact that neoliberals are so utterly unaware of the real structural issues that their attempts to sort out the tangential issues will further exacerbate the main issues. Religious extremism, militancy and terrorism are not the cause but the effect of poverty, backwardness and disenfranchisement. Empirically speaking, if we take all other aggravating factors out: like poverty, backwardness, illiteracy, social injustice, disenfranchisement, conflict, instability, deliberate training and arming of certain militant groups...
By Dave Lindorff for FAIR - As the Hillary Clinton campaign slogged toward victory in the long primary campaign against Sen. Bernie Sanders, word came from WikiLeaks that it had scored a trove of hacked emails to and from the Democratic National Committee. Among other things, they proved that DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Clinton campaign chair John Podesta, along with their organizations, had been working hand-in-glove to skew the primaries in Clinton’s favor. The day before the party’s convention opened in Philadelphia on July 24, Wasserman-Schultz had to resign her post or face a floor revolt.
By Jay Dyer for Global Research - In fact, the earliest days of mass print media were erected on a famous fraud known as the “Great Moon Hoax” of 1835 – something researcher Chris Kendall has long called attention to – wherein the “educated,” “elite” widely accepted the mainstream publications’ claim bat people inhabited the lunar surface. In our day, a similar hoax still reigns, as mainstream media is literally as credible as Weekly World News’ Bat Boy story. Anyone who has seen Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane knows the director became a target of one of the most powerful media moguls of all time – William Randolph Hearst (who bought up all the major papers of his day).
By Matt Taibbi for Rolling Stone - Last week, a technology reporter for the Washington Post named Craig Timberg ran an incredible story. It has no analog that I can think of in modern times. Headlined "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say," the piece promotes the work of a shadowy group that smears some 200 alternative news outlets as either knowing or unwitting agents of a foreign power, including popular sites like Truthdig and Naked Capitalism.
By Adam Horowitz for Mondoweiss - Ten thousand copies of a special supplement of The New York Times focused on Israel and Palestine were distributed across NYC yesterday, while thousands of on-line versions made their way across the internet. The special supplement, which was a parody, includes such articles as “Congress to Debate US Aid to Israel” and “In the Footsteps of Mandela and King: A Non-Violent Movement Gains Ground Ten Years On,” as well as an editorial, “Our New Editorial Policy: Rethinking Israel-Palestine.”