Friday, June 28, 2013

BIG BROTHER, NOT SNOWDEN AND GREENWALD, IS THE STORY

“Instead of being adversaries to government power … [the media of Washington, D.C., are] … servants to it and mouthpieces for it.”

So said the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story of Edward Snowden’s disclosure of NSA spying on the American people, after Greenwald’s confrontation with Meet the Press’s David Gregory. Greenwald needn’t have limited his observation to the D.C. media. Plenty of reporters and cable-news talking heads are playing the same role in the NSA drama.

Indeed, if they spent half the time investigating Obama’s Big Brother operations that they spend sneering at Snowden and Greenwald, Americans might demand that the government stop spying on them.

But to much of the mainstream (and not-so-mainstream) media, Snowden and Greenwald — not the NSA, the Obama administration, and the supine Congress — are the story — a story of villainy.

The examples are endless. The day after Snowden revealed himself as the whistleblower, Joe Scarborough, the former Republican congressman and host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe, ordered his director to take the image of “that weasel” off the screen. The other day, his sidekick, Mika Brzezinski, asked, “Is there anything we can do to track him down?” (Emphasis added.) She meant the government.

Brzezinski went on to accuse Snowden of taking the job with NSA contractor Booz Allen Hamilton “to screw over our government.” That’s how one who speaks power to truth spins it. Snowden’s service to the American people is hardly undercut by his having taken the job intending to expose government violations of the Fourth Amendment.

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Army reportedly blocking military access to Guardian coverage of NSA leaks

The Army is blocking all access to The Guardian newspaper’s reports about the National Security Agency’s sweeping collection of data about Americans’ email and phone communications, an Army spokesman said Thursday.

The Monterey (Calif.) Herald reported that employees at the Presidio of Monterey, an Army public affairs base about 100 miles south of San Francisco, were unable to gain access to The Guardian’s articles on former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and his professed leaks of classified information about the intelligence programs.

Late Thursday, an Army spokesman told The Herald by email that the newspaper’s NSA reports were, in fact, being blocked across the entire Army. He wrote that it’s routine for the Defense Department to take “network hygiene” action to prevent disclosure of classified information, The Herald reported.

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Teen Justin Carter Jailed In Texas After Making Sarcastic Threat In Facebook Comment

Maybe it’s time the Internet adopted a “sarcasm” tag to alert readers to the use of irony in online conversation, and, hopefully, avoid situations like that of Justin Carter, a Texas teenager who has been in jail since February over a Facebook comment that failed to make a woman in Canada LOL.

Earlier this year, Carter and a friend got into an Facebook argument with someone regarding “League of Legends,” an online video game with notoriously die-hard fans. Justin’s father, Jack, explained to ABC local affiliate KVUE that at the end of the conversation “[s]omeone had said something to the effect of ‘Oh you’re insane, you’re crazy, you’re messed up in the head,’ to which [Justin] replied ‘Oh yeah, I’m real messed up in the head, I’m going to go shoot up a school full of kids and eat their still, beating hearts,’ and the next two lines were lol and jk [all sic].”

In case you’ve never been online before today: Internet shorthand LOL stands for “laughing out loud”; JK means “just kidding.”

A woman in Canada who came across the boy’s post failed to see the humor, however, and alerted police after Internet research revealed Carter, who was 18 at the time of the incident, lived near an elementary school. Carter was taken into custody and charged with making a “terroristic” threat.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

California man faces 13 years in jail for scribbling anti-bank messages in chalk

Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.

According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

In addition to possibly spending years in jail, Olson will also be held liable for fines of up to $13,000 over the anti-big-bank slogans that were left using washable children’s chalk on a sidewalk outside of three San Diego, California branches of Bank of America, the massive conglomerate that received $45 billion in interest-free loans from the US government in 2008-2009 in a bid to keep it solvent after bad bets went south.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: ‘WAR ON COAL IS EXACTLY WHAT’S NEEDED’

With President Barack Obama’s progressive base in an uproar over the National Security Agency (NSA) domestic surveillance programs, Obama seeks to quell angst among his environmental base on Tuesday by declaring war on coal.

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“A war on coal is exactly what’s needed,” White House climate adviser Daniel P. Schrag told the New York Times.

Obama’s plan will crack down on emissions even further, give $8 billion in taxpayer money to fund loan guarantees for energy projects, and allocate $7 billion to finance foreign climate mitigation and adaptation projects, reports The Times.

National Mining Association President and CEO Hal Quinn said Obama’s anti-coal policy is wrongheaded, costly to the 76% of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, and will continue the already bleak jobs outlook in America.

“Americans are looking for jobs and economic security. Coal power plants generate more electricity and create and sustain more jobs than any other energy source,” said Quinn in a statement. “Our policies need to be aligned with our national interest so that coal continues to create jobs and keeps America competitive.”

Even as global increases in carbon dioxide output have jumped dramatically over the last 15 years, global temperatures have remained largely unchanged. Fox News politics editor Chis Stirewait says Obama’s war on coal is more about throwing a political bone to environmentalists and inoculating himself from further erosion among his base if he decides to go forward with the Keystone Pipeline than it is about slowing the rise of the oceans and healing the planet as he promised in 2008.

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