WEEKLY NEWS REPORT (20 May 2018)
Vol. 1, №8
The mass media’s main functions are to divide, distract, and disinform. 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 the Royal wedding, these things happened:
The news cycle was dominated by the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem, juxtaposed by the final days of the Great March of Return, where the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killed 60 Palestinian demonstrators, and wounded over a thousand more.
The Palestinian Information Center reported that Israeli authorities refused to grant a Palestinian medical delegation entry into the Gaza Strip to assist in treatment of wounded demonstrators.
The Independent reported that Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for an “international peace force” to enter Gaza to protect Palestinians from the IDF.
Eyewitness News reported that South Africa withdrew its ambassador to Israel following the killing of Palestinian protestors at the Gaza border.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel has opened its borders with Syria in order to provide medical treatment to Nusra Front fighters wounded in the ongoing civil war. Al- Nusra is a Sunni affiliate of al-Quaeda, engaged in Syria fighting Hezbollah, which are Iranian-backed Shiite forces. The U.S. has called al-Nusra a terrorist organization, although it is backed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) reported that, despite multi-billion-dollar international efforts to reduce narcotics production in Afghanistan, the total area of Afghan land under opium poppy cultivation increased by 63% during the 2017, and raw opium production increased by an estimated 88%.
AP reported that a populist coalition organized by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr emerged as the front-runner Monday with more than half the vote counted in Iraq’s national elections. The elections are the first since Iraq declared victory of ISIS.
The New Arab reported that General Qassem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards is in Baghdad to push for the formation of a new “friendly government” in Iraq. The visit came after Iraqi leaders — including outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi — met with Brett McGurk, an envoy from the United States, “to discuss the formation of a strong and stable Iraqi government.”
Mint Press News reported that a new study appearing in the Public Library of Science concluded that the U.S.-led battle to remove ISIS from Mosul, ultimately killed nearly 12 times more civilians than ISIS fighters.
BBC News reported that police have seized hundreds of boxes of luxury items, including handbags full of foreign currency, from properties linked to ex-prime minister Najib Razak, who is under investigation for embezzling funds from the state development fund 1MDB.
The United Nations Commission on Human Rights stated concern that due process and a fair trial were denied in the case of Noura Hussein Hammad Daoud. Nineteen-year old Daoud killed her husband after he raped her. Her self-defense plea was denied, the court found her guilty of murder and sentenced her to death.
Politico reported that American Action Network, a PAC closely aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan, raised $41.9 million in one year. More than half, $24.6 million, came from a single anonymous donor. As a “social welfare” non-pofit, AAN can raise money in unlimited amounts, and is not required to disclose its donors, unlike a super PAC.
The ACLU reported that a report on the CIA “enhanced interrogation” torture program was not made available to senators voting on Gina Haspel’s nomination. The 2008 report, prepared by federal prosecutor John Durham, was a detailed look into “alleged CIA mistreatment of detainees” and “whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations.”
Slate reported that a U.S. District Court ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers violated Daniel Ramirez Medina’s due process rights. In an attempt to deport Medina, ICE altered his handwritten statement, made in pencil, to make it appear he claimed to be in a gang. In fact, he claimed to be avoiding a gang.
The Intercept reported that between March 2017 and January 2018, Samantha Dravis, who was the EPA’s senior counsel and director of its Office of Policy, had more than 90 scheduled meetings with representatives of energy and manufacturing companies, trade associations, agricultural interests, car makers, and other industry groups.
Gizmodo reported that Google’s unofficial motto “don’t be evil,” has been removed from the code of conduct that Google distributes to its employees. The new phrase is “do the right thing.”
CNN Money reported that nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study by the United Way ALICE Project. That’s 43% of households in the United States.
The Guardian reported that the first comprehensive study of the gap between US executives and median worker’s pay, found that the average CEO-to-worker pay ratio is 339 to 1, with the highest gap approaching 5,000 to 1.
Media Matters reported that local TV news company Sinclair Broadcast Group has met with a number of current and former Fox News employees, gearing up to compete directly with the cable channel by hiring away talent.
The Guardian reported that the State Policy Network (SPN), a well-funded group of 66 conservative think tanks, is launching a mass marketing effort to counter recent successes at union organizing. The campaign called “State Workplace Freedom” will be geared at convincing workers to opt-out of union membership.
STATE AND LOCAL
The Times-Picayune reported that Jefferson Parish Coroner Dr. Gerry Cvitanovich has determined that Keeven Robinson died of compressional asphyxia and his manner of death was a homicide. Robinson died while in the custody of Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives. Sheriff Joseph Lopinto asked the State Police, the FBI, and the federal Civil Rights Task Force to take part in the investigation into Robinson’s death. The four detectives involved were read their rights and questioned. They are now on administrative leave.
The New York Times reported that Brookfield Property Partners, which is partly owned by the Qatari government, through the Qatar Investment Authority, is in advanced talks to purchase a controlling share of the company that owns 666 Fifth Avenue, a troubled Kushner family investment. Jared Kushner is a special advisor to President Trump, and is husband to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka.
The Huffington Post reported that Ohio voters approved a ballot measure that changes the congressional mapmaking process, a move proponents say will rein in partisan gerrymandering. The measure has a four-step process to re-map congressional districts, which has safeguards for minority political parties.
RawStory reported that a website linked to Republican gubernatorial candidate Christopher Barnett, proposed euthanasia for people on food stamps who are too disabled to work. Responding to a Facebook comment about the elderly and disabled on welfare, the Chrisforgov account responded “The ones who are disabled and can’t work…why are we required to keep them? … Sorry but euthanasia is cheaper and doesn’t make everyone a slave to the Government.”
The Dallas News reported that a former employee of a hospice owned by Novus Health Services in a northern suburb of Dallas, admitted to overdosing patients to “hasten their deaths,” so the company could make more money. Court records show that the admission is part of a guilty plea to health care fraud by Melanie Murphy, a former Novus executive. She is expected to testify against Novus owner Bradley Harris, whose lawyer said, “We are not aware of any evidence that shows that Mr. Harris caused, hastened or otherwise contributed to the death of the hospice patients being treated by Novus.” According to an affidavit Harris sent a text to a nurse that said, “You need to make this patient go bye-bye.”
The Daily Kos reported that the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to tax companies that gross more than $20 million a year, $275 per year per employee, to pay for the cost of additional facilities for the homeless. The law is directed at Amazon, one of the city’s largest employers, who threated retaliation against an earlier version of the law. The bill passed is lower than the $500 per employee, which was originally proposed.
STRANGE BUT TRUE
Science magazine reported that Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) opined that land subsidence plays a role in rising sea levels. “Every time you have that soil or rock or whatever it is that is deposited into the seas, that forces the sea levels to rise, because now you have less space in those oceans, because the bottom is moving up,” Brooks said. Philip Duffy, president of the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts and former senior adviser to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, responded: “I’m pretty sure that on human time scales, those are minuscule effects.”
The Christian Post reported that FoxNews personality Jeanine Pirro opined that, by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, President Trump fulfilled a Zionist prophesy. “Donald Trump recognized history. He, like King Cyrus before him, fulfilled the biblical prophecy of the gods worshiped by Jews, Christians and, yes, Muslims, that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Jewish state and that the Jewish people deserve a righteous, free and sovereign Israel.”
The purpose of these summaries is to encourage curious readers to do further research. Links to, and summaries of, these news reports is not an endorsement of the source, or a representation that the stories are adequately sourced, unbiased, or are even accurately reported. Read critically!