On January 19, during one of its raids in the Occupied West Bank, the Israeli military arrested a Palestinian journalist, Abdul Muhsen Shalaldeh, near Al-Khalil (Hebron). This is just the latest of a staggering number of violations against Palestinian journalists and freedom of expression. A few days earlier, the head of the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate (PJS), Naser Abu Baker, shared some tragic numbers during a press conference in Ramallah. “Fifty-five reporters have been killed, either by Israeli fire or bombardment since 2000,” he said. Hundreds more were wounded, arrested or detained. Although shocking, much of this reality is censored in mainstream media. The murder by Israeli occupation soldiers of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh on May 11 was an exception, partly due to the global influence of her employer, Al Jazeera Network.
Fossil fuel-linked groups spent around $4 million on Facebook and Instagram ads that spread false climate claims over the COP27 summit, a new report says. The physical presence of more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists overshadowed the November conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, as world leaders, NGOs and activists gathered in a bid to accelerate global efforts to confront the climate crisis. Analysis out today shows oil and gas interests were also busy online. Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD) – the coalition behind the second “Deny, Deceive, Delay” report – has documented how PR companies, front groups and oil majors were actively spreading disinformation in the weeks leading up to and during the summit. Researchers with the coalition’s COP27 Intelligence Unit identified over 3,700 ads sharing false claims on Facebook and Instagram, platforms owned by Meta.
Russia’s use of Iranian-made drones in the Ukraine war has garnered substantial attention in flagship US news outlets like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. These papers’ first references to the matter came on July 11. Between then and the time of writing (January 24), the publications have run 215 pieces that mention Ukraine and the words “Iranian drones,” “Iranian-made drones,” “drones made in Iran” or minor variations on these phrases. That’s more than one mention per day over six-and-a-half months. The fact that some of Russia’s drones are made in Iran is not only frequently mentioned, but is often featured in headlines like “Iran to Send Hundreds of Drones to Russia for Use in Ukraine, US Says” (Washington Post, 7/11/22), “Ukraine Warns of Growing Attacks by Drones Iran Has Supplied to Russia” (New York Times, 9/25/22) and “Russia’s Iranian Drones Pose Growing Threat to Ukraine” (Wall Street Journal, 10/18/22).
All regimes based on class antagonism require a discourse to legitimise class oppression and this discourse in turn requires a vocabulary of its own. The neoliberal regime too has developed its own discourse and vocabulary and a key concept in this vocabulary is “populism”. This concept is given great currency by the media, which is peopled by members drawn from the upper middle class who have been major beneficiaries of the neo-liberal regime and have therefore developed a vested interest in its continuation. So pervasive is the reach of this concept that even well-meaning and progressive members of the literati have fallen victim to its abuse and employ the term with the pejorative connotation typically imparted to it by the corporate-owned media. The term “populism” of course is not an invention of the neo-liberal intelligentsia.
This month President Joe Biden renominated the highly qualified Sohn, whose confirmation has now been stalled for a record-breaking amount of time. With a 50/50 split in the Senate, Democrats had failed to muster enough support for a vote in the face of strong opposition from deep-pocketed big media corporations like Comcast. The FCC has been operating without a fifth member for well over a year, which has left it deadlocked with two Democratic and two Republican members. That’s great news for the telecom industry, which is enjoying the FCC’s inability to do things like restore net neutrality (which was implemented under Obama and repealed under Trump), ensure equal access to broadband, prevent further consolidation of big media, and crack down on wireless carriers’ abuse of private user location data.
United States plans for aggression and disruptions abroad are developed by current and former officials whose names may not be well known. They often leave government positions to become fellows at a plethora of think tanks that are connected to high level policy makers. It is important to know what they are saying, as their words have an impact on US foreign policy decisions. Michael Rubin is currently a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) , the rightwing think tank in Washington, DC, that mostly disseminates a neoconservative interventionist agenda, and where Rubin spends his time churning out misleading information and lies about the Red Sea State of Eritrea and the Horn of Africa. Rubin was a Pentagon staffer from 2002 to 2004, and an advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority during America’s disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In an attempt to grossly exaggerate China’s defense spending, and simultaneously downplay the US military budget, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis published a jaw-droppingly deceptive graph. If a student presented this in a statistics 101 class, the teacher would likely give them an F. But because it involves Washington’s public enemy number one, Beijing, the US regional reserve bank was awarded a Golden Star for exemplary service in the New Cold War. The St. Louis Fed listed the world’s top six countries by military expenditures, but used two separate axes: the spending of China, Russia, Britain, India, and Saudi Arabia was depicted on the left axis, which went from $0 to $300 billion; but a separate right axis was created just for the United States, which went from $400 billion to $1 trillion.
According to what U.S. officials claim some anti-Kremlin fringe group in Russia was used by a Russian intelligence service to somehow send letter bombs from Valladolid, Spain, to some offices in Madrid. But why would Russian intelligence run such a nonsense campaign? Why would it use a problematic fringe group of Russian crazies to do so. Why in Spain? Why not in Poland, Germany or France? What is the evidence? None of those questions get answered. Instead rumors and hot air assumptions are put together to make the claims somewhat less outrageous. This is on the same level as the lies about 'weapons of mass destruction in Iraq' the Times printed 20 years ago. The addition of the implausible Skripal poisoning story and the false claims of 'Russian bounties' in Afghanistan does not help to make the story more convincing. There is no evidence that either happened at all.
Coup attempts have gone viral this winter season in Latin America. The contagion spread first to Argentina, then Peru, and finally Brazil on January 8. In addition, Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua continue to suffer from long-term US regime-change efforts. Coverage of this political pandemic by the US liberal press (i.e., the preponderance of mainstream media that endorse a Democrat for the presidency) reflects politically motivated agendas. Its spin on Brazil in particular reflects a trend among Democrats to greater acceptance of the security state. Current vice-president and former president of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was the leading contender on the left for the 2023 elections. But on December 6, she was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption and barred from running for office. Although she is appealing what is considered a “lawfare” frameup, the right is anticipating a comeback in the upcoming October 2023 presidential election.
A former top CIA spy has admitted that the United States funds anti-government propagandists in Cuba who portray themselves as “independent journalists”. Major British newspaper The Guardian spoke with CIA veteran Fulton Armstrong, whom it described as “the US intelligence community’s most senior analyst for Latin America from 2000 to 2004”. Armstrong stated that, in Cuba, “a lot of the so-called independent journalists are indirectly funded by the US”. The ex CIA analyst pointed out that, today, the Joe Biden administration bankrolls anti-government opposition forces in Cuba with at least $20 million in annual support for supposed “democracy promotion” activities. The Guardian acknowledged that the CIA has a history of spreading disinformation inside Cuba, as part of a US information war aimed at destabilizing the revolutionary government.
NATO has begun plans to make the “human mind” their new “domain of war.” And yes, that’s as horrifying as it sounds. No mainstream media outlet has covered NATO’s new “domain of war” declaration, leading press freedom group Project Censored to include it in its 25 most-censored stories of the year. As Project Censored wrote: On October 5, 2021, the NATO Association of Canada (NAOC) sponsored a forum on what panelists described as the ‘weaponization of brain sciences’ to exploit ‘vulnerabilities of the human brain’ in service of more sophisticated forms of social engineering and control. As Ben Norton reported for The Grayzone, ‘with its development of cognitive warfare strategies,’ NATO has added a new, sixth level to the five operational domains—air, land, sea, space, and cyber…” The weaponization of brain sciences to exploit vulnerabilities of the human brain? Does that sound like you’ll be free? I thought part of the mythos of America was that we have freedom.
Protests in Iran that ostensibly began as a reaction to the death of a woman in police custody in September 2022 have prompted unprecedented international opposition to its government, not only from the usual Western, Israeli and Saudi suspects, but from celebrity social media influencers with no previous record of commenting on Iranian affairs. Iran is now the target of a carefully coordinated information war with a single goal to drive international support for regime change by any means – whether through sanctions, armed insurrection, military intervention, or some combination of the three. Before a largely uncritical audience of billions of admiring Instagram followers who do not speak Farsi and have little to no understanding of Iranian politics or culture, a collection of Hollywood actors, washed-up rockers and top models have pumped out viral posts depicting ghastly abuses of protesters by Iran’s security forces, including retaliatory home demolitions and outright massacres.
There is a political crisis in Israel—particularly for Palestinians, minorities and anyone who believes in secular democracy. But US press coverage has had trouble recognizing that the new government of Benjamin Netanyahu is anything other than business as usual. The recent Israeli elections thrust Netanyahu back into power and the prime ministry (Reuters, 12/28/22), prompting major protests that called his new government a “coup d’etat” and urged a “preventative strike against dictatorship” (Jerusalem Post, 1/7/23; i24, 1/8/23). Middle East observers are alarmed, not just at Netanyahu’s own military hawkishness, but the fact that his ruling coalition includes religious and nationalist fringe elements, including followers of the late Meir Kahane, who advocated for the expulsion of Arabs from Israel (New York Times, 11/6/90). While Israeli politics have been on a rightward trajectory for two decades, the most recent election has put the country into a dark zone of outright illiberalism that almost seems irreversible.
The Animation Guild has succeeded in procuring voluntary recognition for a group of unionizing production workers at Nickelodeon Animation Studios. About a month after the IATSE local filed for a National Labor Relations Board election, Nickelodeon has chosen to bypass that process by agreeing to recognize a bargaining unit of 177 workers — including production coordinators, production managers, asset production coordinators and others. This will amount to “the largest bargaining unit of production workers to organize under The Animation Guild” so far, TAG said in its announcement Tuesday. Nickelodeon confirmed the news as well. The production workers’ next step will be to negotiate a contract with Nickelodeon, for which no date has yet been set. More than 400 Nickelodeon Animation Studios artists are already unionized with TAG, and select production worker staff will soon be added to the guild’s studio-specific negotiations committee.