NEWS REPORT (15 April 2018)
Vol. 1., №3
The mass media’s main functions are to divide, distract, and disinform. This is how the powerful control the people. If we want change, we need to know what has to be changed. To know what must be changed, we have to consume news intelligently. To consume news intelligently, we need filter out the distractions. Only then can we see how power works, in real time.
This week, while the mass media was talking about Mariah Carey, these things happened:
Syria. The Telegraph reported that there is a 24-hour “deconfliction line” through which the U.S. “specifically identified” the targets to Russia, prior to Saturday’s missile attack. Reuters reported that Russia passed this information on to Syria, which evacuated the target areas, before the attack. On Saturday, President Trump declared “mission accomplished.” The missile strike cost approximately $224 million.
Afghanistan. A special inspector reported that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ mismanagement resulted in the U.S. government spending approximately $60 million on a system that is not operational, may be structurally unsound, and may not be safe to operate. The North East Power System project was intended to provide electricity to unserved population centers in northeast Afghanistan. Although the agreement required the contractor to build transmission towers and lines, Army Corps of Engineers did not include a requirement for the contractor to connect the lines permanently to the system’s intended power source.
Niger. Associated Press reported that the U.S. special operations command opened its annual Flintlock exercises, which includes counter-terrorism training. About 1,900 service members from 20 African and western countries will be participating.
Somalia. The Defense Post reported that U.S. forces conducted an airstrike, destroying an al-Shabaab vehicle-borne improvised explosive device near Jana Cabdalle. There were no reported casualties.
Libya. Al-Monitor reported that the Obama-era Global Security Contingency Fund spent only $220 thousand of an authorized $15 million for border security. The fund’s annual report to Congress indicated that, “Due to Libya’s evolving political and security landscape, this project remains on hold.”
Luxury Yachts. The Guardian reported that Devon-based Princess Yachts reported record annual revenue for 2017, due to “exploding demand” from global customers, who pay up to £18m ($25.5 million) for a luxury boat. Based on current orders, the company expects 2018 to be even better.
Justice Department. Think Progress reported that the F.B.I. has been investigating “Black Identity Extremists” since the 2014 racial unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. The program includes aggressive surveillance and investigations into individuals they believe may one day pose a threat.
Judiciary. RawStory reported that Trump district court nominee Wendy Vitter refused to say whether, in her opinion, the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which desegregated public schools, was rightly decided. “Senator, I don’t mean to be coy,” Vitter said, “but I think I get into a difficult area when I start commenting on Supreme Court decisions, which are correctly decided and which I may disagree with.”
Executive Compensation. The Guardian reported that the City of Birmingham Relief and Retirement System sued the Netflix board, claiming that it “rigged the compensation process, guaranteeing Netflix officers huge cash payments while misleading investors into believing that these payments were justified by attainment of real performance goals.” The complaint alleges that the company manipulated performance goals to assure that the officers got bonuses.
Volker Rule. Splinter reported that the House passed the Volcker Rule Regulation Harmonization Act, a bill that would allow banks with less than $10 billion in assets to making speculative investments with insured deposits, and transfer administration of the rule for other banks from the FDIC to the Federal Reserve. Florida’s Debbie Wasserman-Schultz joined 77 other Democrats voting for the act.
Goldman Sachs. Ars Technica reported that a Goldman Sachs report titled “The Genome Revolution,” pointed out that curing patients is a bad business model. The report says that cures result “in a gradual exhaustion of the prevalent pool of patients.”
Welfare. Politico reported that President Trump signed an executive order directing a top-to-bottom review of food stamps, Medicaid, rent subsidies and other welfare programs. The review’s goal is to find ways to push more people into the workforce and off welfare.
Progressives. ABC News reported that two organizations, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Our Revolution, respectively associated with Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, began four-day campaign training in Washington D.C., for 450 mostly first-time candidates in 2018 state and federal races.
Abortion. The Hill reported that the Arizona House of Representatives passed a bill which would require women seeking an abortion to fill out a lengthy questionnaire detailing their reasons for wanting the procedure.
Arizona. The Intercept reported that teachers have threatened to strike, demanding a 20% wage hike and restoration of school funding to pre-recession levels. Funding was lost due to a series of recent tax cuts.
Oklahoma. PBS NewsHour and Think Progress reported that striking teachers rejected the state’s offer to increase school funding by $40 million. As their reason, teachers cited Governor Mary Fallin’s continued tax cuts, despite education shortfalls.
Kentucky. The Huffington Post reported that Governor Matt Bevin blamed striking teachers for child sex abuse. At a rally, he said, “I guarantee you somewhere in Kentucky today a child was sexually assaulted that was left at home because there was nobody there to watch them.”
Illinois. NPR reported that reporters at the Chicago Tribune have notified management that they intend to form a union. The newspaper was historically anti-union.
Florida. NBC 6 reported that Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled in favor of a man who wanted to grow marijuana for his own medical use. The Court noted that the state has failed to implement the medical marijuana amendment passed in 2016.
New Jersey. The Brennan Center for Justice reported that the legislature passed an automatic voter registration law, similar to the one recently passed in Maryland, where eligible citizens will be registered to vote when they visit a state agency. The bill goes to Governor Phil Murphy for signature.
Pennsylvania. The Hill reported that Republican lawmakers proposed creating a politically appointed commission to create election districts. Republicans previously sought to impeach supreme court justices who ordered that their gerrymandered map be re-drawn.
Michigan. AP reported that Jeffery Zeigler, a 53-year-old retired Detroit firefighter, was arraigned on charges including assault with intent to murder. He was arrested for shooting at a 14-year-old African American boy. The boy was lost and had knocked on Zeigler’s door to get directions.
California. Cox Media reported that Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood commented that it was more cost effective to kill suspects, than to shoot and only cripple them. The comment was made at a 2006 campaign forum with the Kern County Detention Officers Association. A 2015 study by The Guardian called Kern County’s “America’s deadliest police,” citing data showing that law enforcement officers in the county, which includes the city of Bakersfield, kill more people per capita than in any other U.S. county.
Louisiana. The Times-Picayune reported that over 1,200 people have been held in local jails for four years, without a trial. Some have been in for as long as five years, all without an adjudication. Many are not represented by counsel, and cannot afford bail.
School Shootings. In the wake of the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida, Millcreek Pennsylvania School District Superintendent William Hall announced that it has armed teachers with miniature baseball bats to use as a “last resort.”