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Jorge Ramos Commits Journalism, Gets Immediately Attacked by Journalists

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 26/08/2015 - 18:08

(updated below)

The Republican presidential candidate leading every poll, Donald Trump, recently unveiled his plan to forcibly deport all 11 million human beings residing in the U.S. without proper documentation, roughly half of whom have children born in the U.S. (and who are thus American citizens). As George Will noted last week, “Trump’s roundup would be about 94 times larger than the wartime internment of 117,000 persons of Japanese descent.” It would require a massive expansion of the most tyrannical police state powers far beyond their already immense post-9/11 explosion. And that’s to say nothing of the incomparably ugly sentiments which Trump’s advocacy of this plan, far before its implementation, is predictably unleashing.

Jorge Ramos, the influential anchor of Univision and an American immigrant from Mexico, has been denouncing Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric. Yesterday at a Trump press conference in Iowa, Ramos stood and questioned Trump on his immigration views. Trump at first ignored him, then scolded him for speaking without being called on and repeatedly ordered him to “sit down,” then told him: “Go back to Univision.” When Ramos refused to sit down and shut up as ordered, a Trump bodyguard physically removed him from the room. After the press conference concluded, Ramos returned and again questioned Trump about immigration, with the two mostly talking over each other as Ramos asked Trump about the fundamental flaws in his policy. Afterward, Ramos said: “This is personal . . . he’s talking about our parents, our friends, our kids and our babies.”

One might think that in a conflict between a journalist removed from a press conference for asking questions and the politician who had him removed, journalists would side with their fellow journalist. Some are. But many American journalists have seized on the incident to denounce Ramos for the crime of having opinions and even suggesting that he’s not really acting as a journalist at all.

Politico‘s political reporter Marc Caputo unleashed a Twitter rant this morning against Ramos. “This is bias: taking the news personally, explicitly advocating an agenda,” he began. Then: “Trump can and should be pressed on this. Reporters can do this without being activists” and “some reporters still try to approach their stories fairly & decently. & doing so does not prevent good reporting.” Not only didn’t Ramos do journalism, Caputo argued, but he actually ruins journalism: “My issue is his reporting is imbued with take-it-personally bias. . . .  we fend off phony bias allegations & Ramos only helps to wrongly justify them. . . .One can ask and report without the bias. I’ve done it for years & will continue 2 do so.”

Washington Post article about the incident actually equated the two figures, beginning with the headline: “Jorge Ramos is a conflict junkie, just like his latest target: Donald Trump.” The article twice suggested that Ramos’ behavior was something other than journalism, claiming that his advocacy of immigration reform “blurred the line between journalist and activist” and that “by owning the issue of immigration, Ramos has also blurred the line between journalist and activist.” That Ramos was acting more as an “activist” than a “journalist” was a commonly expressed criticism among media elites this morning.

Here we find, yet again, the enforcement of unwritten, very recent, distinctively corporatized rules of supposed “neutrality” and faux objectivity which all Real Journalists must obey, upon pain of being expelled from the profession. A Good Journalist must pretend they have no opinions, feign utter indifference to the outcome of political debates, never take any sides, be utterly devoid of any human connection to or passion for the issues they cover, and most of all, have no role to play whatsoever in opposing even the most extreme injustices.

Thus: you do not call torture “torture” if the U.S. Government falsely denies that it is; you do not say that the chronic shooting of unarmed black citizens by the police is a major problem since not everyone agrees that it is; and you do not object when a major presidential candidate stokes dangerous nativist resentments while demanding mass deportation of millions of people. These are the strictures that have utterly neutered American journalism, drained it of its vitality and core purpose, and ensured that it does little other than serve those who wield the greatest power and have the highest interest in preserving the status quo.

What is more noble for a journalist to do: confront a dangerous, powerful billionaire-demagogue spouting hatemongering nonsense about mass deportation, or sitting by quietly and pretending to have no opinions on any of it and that “both sides” are equally deserving of respect and have equal claims to validity? As Ramos put it simply, in what should not even need to be said: “I’m a reporter. My job is to ask questions. What’s ‘totally out of line’ is to eject a reporter from a press conference for asking questions.”

Indeed, some of the most important and valuable moments in American journalism have come from the nation’s most influential journalists rejecting this cowardly demand that they take no position, from Edward R. Murrow’s brave 1954 denunciation of McCarthyism to Walter Cronkite’s 1968 refusal to treat the U.S. Government’s lies about the Vietnam War as anything other than what they were. Does anyone doubt that today’s neutrality-über-alles journalists would denounce them as “activists” for inappropriately “taking a side”?

As Jack Shafer documented two years ago, crusading and “activist” journalism is centuries old and has a very noble heritage. The notion that journalists must be beacons of opinion-free, passion-devoid, staid, impotent neutrality is an extremely new one, the by-product of the increasing corporatization of American journalism. That’s not hard to understand: one of the supreme values of large corporations is fear of offending anyone, particularly those in power, since that’s bad for business. The way that conflict-avoiding value is infused into the media outlets which these corporations own is to inculcate their journalists that their primary duty is to avoid offending anyone, especially those who wield power, which above all means never taking a clear position about anything, instead just serving as a mindless, uncritical vessel for “both sides,” what NYU Journalism Professor Jay Rosen has dubbed “the view from nowhere.” Whatever else that is, it is most certainly not a universal or long-standing principle of how journalism should be conducted.

The worst aspect of these journalists’ demands for “neutrality” is the conceit that they are actually neutral, that they are themselves not activists. To be lectured about the need for journalistic neutrality by Politico of all places – the ultimate and most loyal servant of the DC political and corporate class – by itself illustrates what a rotten sham this claim is. I set out my argument about this at length in my 2013 exchange with Bill Keller and won’t repeat it all here; suffice to say, all journalism is deeply subjective and serves some group’s interests. All journalists constantly express opinions and present the world in accordance with their deeply subjective biases – and thus constantly serve one agenda or another – whether they honestly admit doing so or dishonestly pretend they don’t.

Ultimately, demands for “neutrality” and “objectivity” are little more than rules designed to shield those with the greatest power from meaningful challenge. As BuzzFeed’s Adam Serwer insightfully put it this morning “‘Objective’ reporters were openly mocking Trump not that long ago, but Ramos has not reacted to Trump’s poll numbers with appropriate deference . . . . Just a reminder that what is considered objective reporting is intimately tied to power or the perception of power.” Expressing opinions that are in accord with, and which serve the interests of, those who wield the greatest political and economic power is always acceptable for the journalists who most tightly embrace the pretense of “neutrality”; it’s only when an opinion constitutes dissent or when it’s expressed with too little reverence for the most powerful does it cross the line into “activism” and “bias.”

(Ramos’ supposed sin of being what the Post called a “conflict junkie” – something that sounds to be nothing more than a derogatory way of characterizing “adversary journalism” – is even more ridiculous. Please spare me the tripe about how Ramos’ real sin was one of rudeness, that he failed to wait for explicit permission from the Trumpian Strongman to speak. Aside from the absurdity of viewing Victorian-era etiquette as some sort of journalistic virtue, Trump’s vindictive war with Univision made it unlikely he’d call on Ramos, and journalists don’t always need to be “polite” to do their jobs.

Beyond that, whether a reporter must be deferential to a politicians is one of those questions on which people shamelessly switch sides based on which politician is being treated rudely at the moment, as the past liberal protests over the “rudeness” displayed to Obama by conservative journalists demonstrate. That Ramos is not One of Them – Joe Scarborough appeared not even to know who Ramos is and suggested he was just seeking “15 minutes of fame,” despite Ramos’ having far greater influence and fame than Scarborough could dream of having – clearly fueled the journalistic resentment that Ramos’ behavior was out of line).

What Ramos did here was pure journalism in its classic and most noble expression: he aggressively confronted a politician wielding a significant amount of power over some pretty horrible things that the politician is doing and saying. As usual when someone commits a real act of journalism aimed at the most powerful in the U.S., those leading the charge against him are other journalists, who so tellingly regard actual journalism as a gauche and irreverent crime against those who wield the greatest power and thus merit the greatest deference.

UPDATE: Caputo, while noting that he disagrees with many of the views in this article, objects to one phrase in particular and sets forth his objection here. I quoted and/or linked to all of his referenced statements and am happy to allow readers to decide if that one phrase was accurate. I am quite convinced it was and stand by it.

The post Jorge Ramos Commits Journalism, Gets Immediately Attacked by Journalists appeared first on The Intercept.

Datenschützer fordern Nachbesserungen bei EU-Verordnung

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 26/08/2015 - 17:56

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Die Datenschutzbeauftragten des Bundes und der Länder haben dringende Nachbesserungen bei der geplanten europäischen Datenschutz-Grundverordnung verlangt. Es gebe konkrete Forderungen, die aus Sicht des Datenschutzes unumgänglich seien, sagte die Bundesbeauftragte Andrea Voßhoff am Mittwoch in Berlin. Das gelte auch für die gebotene Sparsamkeit bei der Sammlung von Daten. „Die Datensparsamkeit muss notwendiges Gestaltungsprinzip bleiben“, sagte Voßhoff. Sie sei im digitalen Zeitalter „Grundlage für ein datenschutzfreundliches Verhalten“. Diese Basis sei in den Verhandlungen zu der Verordnung aufgeweicht worden.

Künftig soll die Datenschutz-Grundverordnung in Europa einheitlich den Umgang mit personenbezogenen Daten regeln. Im Juni hatten sich die EU-Justizminister auf einen Entwurf geeinigt. Die

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Frühere Spitzenpolitiker fordern Abkommen zwischen NATO und Russland

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 26/08/2015 - 17:56

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Frühere europäische Spitzenpolitiker fordern ein neues Sicherheitsabkommen zwischen der NATO und Russland. Die derzeitige Situation sei „voller Potenzial für gefährliche Fehleinschätzungen oder Unfälle, die sogar eine direkte militärische Konfrontation zwischen Russland und dem Westen auslösen könnten“, schreibt eine Gruppe um ehemalige Außen- und Verteidigungsminister wie Volker Rühe (Deutschland), Igor Iwanow (Russland) und Desmond Browne (Großbritannien) in einem am Mittwoch verbreiteten Positionspapier. Um folgenschwere Zwischenfälle zu verhindern, brauche es dringend verbindliche Verhaltensregeln für Luft- und Seemanöver.

Konkret schlagen die Politiker die unverzügliche Aufnahme von Gesprächen über ein neues Abkommen im NATO-Russland-Rat vor. Dieser tagte auf Diplomatenebene zuletzt im Juni 2014, bevor

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The Way GCHQ Obliterated The Guardian’s Laptops May Have Revealed More Than It Intended

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 26/08/2015 - 17:05

In July 2013, GCHQ, Britain’s equivalent of the U.S. National Security Agency, forced journalists at the London headquarters of The Guardian to completely obliterate the memory of the computers on which they kept copies of top-secret documents provided to them by former NSA contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

However, in its attempt to destroy information, GCHQ also revealed intriguing details about what it did and why.

Two technologists, Mustafa Al-Bassam and Richard Tynan, visited Guardian headquarters last year to examine the remnants of the devices. Al-Bassam is an ex-hacker who two years ago pleaded guilty to joining attacks on Sony, Nintendo, and other companies, and now studies computer science at King’s College; Tynan is a technologist at Privacy International with a PhD in computer science. The pair concluded, first, that GCHQ wanted The Guardian to completely destroy every possible bit of information the news outlet might retain; and second, that GCHQ’s instructions may have inadvertently revealed all the locations in your computer where information may be covertly stored.

Editors of The Guardian chose to destroy the files and the devices they lived on after the British government threatened to sue them and halt further reporting on the issue, including stories on how GCHQ utilized data collected by the NSA on communications from many major Internet companies.

Footage of Guardian editors physically destroying their MacBooks and USB drives, taken by Guardian executive Sheila Fitzsimons, wasn’t released until months later, in January 2014. The GCHQ agents who supervised the destruction of the devices also insisted on recording it all on their own iPhones.

The Guardian’s video reveals editors using angle-grinders, revolving drills, masks that GCHQ ordered them to buy, and a “degausser,” an expensive piece of equipment provided by GCHQ, which destroys magnetic fields and thereby erases data. The procedure eliminated practically every chip in the device, leaving almost no recognizable piece of machinery behind. The whole process lasted over three hours.

But while Paul Johnson, The Guardian’s deputy editor, chalked the exercise up to “purely a symbolic act” of power on the part of the British government — given that copies of the Snowden files still existed in New York — there may be more to it.

At a speech given at the Chaos Communication Camp technology conference a few weeks ago in Germany, Al-Bassam and Tynan explored the details surrounding GCHQ’s decisions about how to destroy the devices, and hypothesized about what the government’s intentions might have been beyond intimidation.

“Normally people just destroy the hard drive,” said Al-Bassam. But GCHQ took it several steps further. The spy agency instructed Guardian editors to destroy parts of multiple MacBook Airs’ track pad controllers, power controllers, keyboards, CPUs, inverting converters, USB drives, and more.

According to “Joint Services Publication 440,” a 2001 British government document released by WikiLeaks, the U.K. Ministry of Defense mandates total destruction of top-secret information in order to protect it from “FISs [foreign intelligence services], extremist groups, investigative journalists, and criminals.”

However, when Al-Bassam and Tynan sent an email asking the British government for the “HMG (Her Majesty’s Government) Information Assurance Note 5,” the government-wide document that contains the U.K.’s “sanitization” policies — i.e., the specific steps necessary to destroy top-secret data — the government denied their request. The sanitization policies of the other members of the so-called “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance — the U.S., New Zealand, Canada and Australia — are public, and appeared to have very similar requirements to the techniques used to destroy The Guardian’s computers.

But in allowing The Guardian’s editors to destroy the devices themselves, and hold onto the remaining shards of computer dust, the British government essentially revealed those policies — by making it possible for people like Al-Bassam and Tynan to analyze just why they might have destroyed each part in such a specific way.

What Al-Bassam and Tynan theorized was that the government may have targeted parts of the Apple devices that it “doesn’t trust”: pieces that can retain bits of electronic information even after the hard drive is obliterated.

The track pad controller, they said, can hold up to 2 megabits of memory. All the different “chips” in your computer — from the part that controls the device’s power to the chips in the keyboard — also have the capacity to store information, like passwords and keys to other data, which can be uploaded through firmware updates. According to the public documents from other members of Five Eyes, it is incredibly difficult to completely sanitize a device of all its content. New Zealand’s data deletion policies state that USB memory is only destroyed when the dust is just a few millimeters in length. “This wasn’t a random thing,” said Tynan, pointing to a slide displaying a photo of a completely destroyed pile of USB chip shards.

These hidden memory storage locations could theoretically be taken advantage of, Tynan and Al-Bassam said, by a computer’s owner, hackers, or even the government itself, either during its design phase or after the computer is purchased. The Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab has presented evidence that an organization it calls “Equation Group,” which it suspects is connected to the NSA, has developed ways to “create an invisible, persistent area hidden inside [a computer’s] hard drive” that would be virtually undetectable by the computer’s owner. This area could be used “to save exfiltrated information which can be later retrieved by the attackers.”

Other technologists and computer experts agreed with Al-Bassam and Tynan that significant data could theoretically be stored on a computer’s various chips. “It’s actually possible to store quite a bit of data in a small space — look at Micro SD cards!” wrote Dan Kaminsky, a computer security specialist, in an e-mail to The Intercept. “But generally these other data stores are small. [They] can certainly store cryptographic keys pretty much anywhere though; those things are minuscule.”

Steve Burgess, a computer forensics and data recovery expert, echoed Kaminsky’s technical points: “Certainly data could be stored on any kind of flash memory or SSD (if there was one), or on the computer’s BIOS, and of course on the hard disk’s rotating media — and its own on-board flash storage.”

But in terms of GCHQ’s intentions, Kaminsky thinks the answer lies somewhere between a power play and protocol based on real concern on the part of the agency. “I think GCHQ was doing half theater and half genuine threat response here. The likelihood that The Guardian had anything hidden in the trackpad was low, but from GCHQ’s perspective they’d hide something in the trackpad so why wouldn’t anyone else?”

To Tynan and Al-Bassam, the methods GCHQ used revealed just how little control we have over our data, and how difficult it is to permanently delete it when necessary. When the pair asked various companies, including Dell and HP, how different parts of the devices are designed to store information and which chips “could potentially betray us,” none were willing to reveal any specifics publicly, they said. When a member of the audience asked Tynan what laptop he’d recommend for journalists and activists who rely on privacy and control of their data, he didn’t have an answer.

“From a privacy perspective, we need to empower users with knowledge about what their devices do,” Tynan concluded.

The post The Way GCHQ Obliterated The Guardian’s Laptops May Have Revealed More Than It Intended appeared first on The Intercept.

Progressives Demand Answers From Clinton on Golden Parachutes for Wall Streeters-Turned-Government Officials

The Intercept - Engl. - Mer, 26/08/2015 - 16:22

A coalition of eight progressive organizations, using material previously published at The Intercept, have challenged Hillary Clinton to disavow the use of “golden parachute” bonuses for former Wall Street executives who enter government service.

In a letter to the Clinton campaign delivered today, the organizations, including Rootstrikers, Democracy for America, CREDO and MoveOn.org Political Action, refer to two top aides to Clinton when she served as secretary of state, Thomas Nides and Robert Hormats. As The Intercept reported in July, Nides and Hormats received millions of dollars in golden parachute payments from their respective ex-employers, investment banks Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, after becoming Clinton’s deputies.

Goldman Sachs paid out Hormats’ unvested restricted stock units, valued between $250,000 and $500,000. Morgan Stanley’s accelerated payout for Nides of restricted stock units was worth between $5 million and $25 million. Deferred compensation awards like these would have been forfeited, had the executives left their jobs for somewhere other than the government.

Bonuses are typically granted to executives who stay with a company rather than leave it. “Awarding outsized bonuses and gifts of equity to Wall Street executives who temporarily leave to go into public service is either a breach of a public corporation’s fiduciary duty to its stockholders, or a down payment on future services rendered,” the progressive groups write to Clinton. They describe the practice as “a barely legal, backdoor form of bribery.”

In the letter, the groups ask Clinton if she supports the practice of golden parachute bonuses from the financial sector, and if she would allow officials in her administration to receive them.

The “Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act,” introduced by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., would ban Wall Street golden parachute payments. The bill would also extend the lobbying “cooling-off” period for officials rotating out of government from one to two years, and force policymakers to recuse themselves from decisions that would benefit their former employers.

“Golden parachutes have become so common and corrosive to the public trust that it has become clear the next president should prohibit executive branch employees from receiving them altogether,” the letter concludes. It was also signed by American Family Voices, the Center for Popular Democracy, Friends of the Earth and The Other 98%.

Last month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., publicly challenged presidential candidates to support the Baldwin/Cummings legislation. Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley, two Democratic hopefuls, have already endorsed it; Sanders is a co-sponsor of the bill. But the Clinton campaign has yet to make their position clear, prompting the escalation by these progressive groups.

“Americans are sick and tired of the Wall-Street-to-Washington revolving door, and are looking for a presidential candidate who will take concrete steps to fight it,” said Kurt Walters, campaign manager for Rootstrikers, in a statement. He added that hundreds of thousands of members of the undersigned organizations have signed petitions in support of the Baldwin/Cummings bill.

Nides, a six-figure bundler in Clinton’s former and current presidential campaigns, returned right back to Morgan Stanley after Clinton left the State Department. He has been touted for a potential chief of staff position in a Clinton White House. Hormats has been part of a small group of economic advisers to Clinton during her 2016 presidential run.

“It’s hard to imagine Democrats’ 2016 nominee will be truly tough on Wall Street banks that break the law,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, “if they won’t commit to banning their advisers from receiving legalized bribes from those same banks.”

The post Progressives Demand Answers From Clinton on Golden Parachutes for Wall Streeters-Turned-Government Officials appeared first on The Intercept.

Die Heuchler von Heidenau

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 26/08/2015 - 11:56

Nach den rechtsextremen Krawallen in Sachsen vergießen Politiker aus SPD und CDU Krokodilstränen. Doch inhaltlich sind sie nicht so weit entfernt vom rassistischen Mob, wie sie meinen -

Von HANS BERGER, 26. August 2015 -

Elf Minuten lang dauert das Video. Es zeigt einen randalierenden Lynchmob, der mit Steinen, Pyrotechnik und zuvor leergetrunkenen Bierflaschen Polizisten angreift und dabei rechte Parolen grölt. Die Beamten wirken unorganisiert, stark überfordert, zahlenmäßig zu gering aufgestellt. Gedreht wurde der Clip am 22. August in dem Dresdner Vorort Heidenau. Zwei Nächte lang tobten sich dort Rassisten, Neonazis und Hooligans aus. Ihr Ziel: Die Verhinderung einer Unterkunft für Flüchtlinge

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Deutschland führt NATO-Luftraumüberwachung über Baltikum

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 26/08/2015 - 11:56

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Die Bundeswehr unterstützt in den kommenden vier Monaten die NATO-Luftraumüberwachung über Estland, Lettland und Litauen. Ein Geschwader der Luftwaffe übernahm am Dienstag das Kommando auf der estnischen Luftwaffenbasis Ämari von Großbritannien. Zusammen mit vier in Litauen stationierten ungarischen Maschinen sollen sie bis Anfang Januar den Luftraum über den baltischen Staaten kontrollieren, die keine eigene Luftverteidigung haben.

Für den Einsatz sind vier „Eurofighter“ vom nordrhein-westfälischen Nörvenich und ein Kontingent von rund 150 Soldaten nach Estland verlegt worden. Jeweils ein weiterer Kampfjet wird als Reserve vor Ort und in Deutschland vorgehalten.

„Für uns zeigt dies die Entschlossenheit Deutschlands zur Solidarität der NATO, zu unserer

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Transatlantische Freihandelsabkommen: Gegner machen mobil

Hintergrund.de - Mer, 26/08/2015 - 11:56

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Ein Bündnis von Gewerkschaften, Entwicklungs-, Umwelt- und Kulturorganisationen hat sich gegen die Handelsabkommen TTIP und CETA gewandt. Umwelt- und Verbraucherschutzstandards gerieten unter die Räder, sagte der Vorsitzende des Bundes für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), Hubert Weiger, am Dienstag in Berlin. Der Deutsche Kulturrat sieht etwa die Buchpreisbindung oder die Finanzierung von Kultureinrichtungen mit öffentlichen Mitteln bedroht. Der Deutsche Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB) warnte vor einer Verwässerung von Arbeitnehmer- und Sozialstandards, wenn Verstöße gegen Arbeitnehmerrechte nicht sanktioniert würden. Die Organisationen riefen zu einer Großdemonstration am 10. Oktober in Berlin auf. Gefordert werden soll dabei der Stopp der Verhandlungen zum Freihandelsabkommen TTIP zwischen

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Attorney Hounding Climate Scientists Covertly Funded By Coal Industry

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 25/08/2015 - 22:42

Christopher Horner, an attorney who claims that the earth is cooling, is known within the scientific community for hounding climate change researchers with relentless investigations and public ridicule, often deriding scientists as “communists” and frauds.

Horner is a regular guest on Fox News and CNN, and has been affiliated with a number of think tanks and legal organizations over the last decade. He has called for investigations of climate scientists affiliated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and NASA, and inundated climate researchers at major universities across the country with records requests that critics say are designed to distract them from their work.

New court documents reveal one source of Horner’s funding: big coal.

Last Thursday’s bankruptcy filing of Alpha Natural Resources, one of the largest coal companies in America, includes line items for all of the corporation’s contractors and grant recipients. Among them are Horner individually at his home address as well as the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, where he is senior staff attorney.

Reached by phone today about his relationship with Alpha Natural Resources, Horner said he would get back with us. David W. Schnare, director of the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic, subsequently emailed a response neither confirming nor denying that Horner or his organizations have received funding from the coal giant. Schnare said that “nearly all” his organization’s donors “request that we not disclose their names” and noted that under IRS regulations it is not required to do so. Schnare also stated that “the sources of our funding have no role in which cases” his organization prosecutes.

The Alpha Natural Resources filing corroborates the suggestion in a recent email from chief executives of major coal firms that they are underwriting Horner’s current work.

In early June this year, the Coal & Investment Leadership Forum, a trade show, sent this message to its email list: “As the ‘war on coal’ continues, I trust that the commitment we have made to support Chris Horner’s work will eventually create great awareness of the illegal tactics being employed to pass laws that are intended to destroy our industry.” The email was signed by Alliance Resource Partners’ Joe Craft III, Alpha Natural Resources’ Kevin Crutchfield, Drummond Company’s Gary Drummond, Arch Coal’s John Eaves and United Coal Co.’s Jim McGlothlin.

Horner has played a prominent role in the climate science debate for many years, though he has failed to uncover wrongdoing.

In 2009, thousands of emails were hacked from climate researchers at the University of East Anglia. Horner quickly blogged that the “blue-dress moment may have arrived” and began appearing on media outlets to claim that the emails revealed “admissions of falsifying results, collaborating to subvert and violate the laws” in what he dubbed “Climategate.”

“Climategate” became a media phenomenon, with prominent politicians declaring that the emails revealed that climate change is a “hoax.” The Koch organization Americans for Prosperity traveled to international climate change negotiations in Copenhagen in 2009 and proclaimed that the emails revealed a “scandal.”

Six official investigations later cleared the University of East Anglia scientists of accusations of any wrongdoing.

Horner has filed numerous records requests for personal emails from climate scientists and litigated to force universities to comply with his requests. Horner continued his investigations of climate scientists earlier this year by filing a records request with John Byrne, distinguished professor of energy climate policy at the University of Delaware. The request was made on behalf of the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and the Energy & Environment Legal Institute, where Horner is a senior fellow.

“He has been instrumental in orchestrating the attacks on climate scientists over the past decade in the form of vexatious and frivolous FOIA demands, efforts to force scientists to turn over all of their personal email,” says Dr. Michael Mann, a climate scientist targeted by Horner.

Horner has also often cast scientists as villains. He claimed on Alex Jones’ program “Infowars” that climate science is a backdoor strategy for enacting “global governance.” On Fox News, Horner mysteriously claimed that White House science advisor John Holdren is “if not borderline communist — communist.”

In an interview with The Intercept, Dr. Gretchen T. Goldman of the Union of Concerned Scientists said it is “reprehensible” to learn that coal companies are “funding the harassment of scientists.”

The post Attorney Hounding Climate Scientists Covertly Funded By Coal Industry appeared first on The Intercept.

What We Don’t Know About Policing, Race and Mental Illness

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 25/08/2015 - 20:59

No one knows what caused Elwood Edwards White to snap. In the afternoon of Sunday, May 20, 2012, the 22-year-old black man walked into the middle of a busy intersection in Oceanside, California, carrying a cinderblock, the pockets of his gray gym shorts filled with rocks.

During the next seven minutes, according to testimony that later came out in court, he heaved the cinderblock through a truck window — injuring a female passenger — ransacked a nearby AM/PM market and hurled a beer bottle at an onlooker. When he started throwing rocks at cars, two Marines tried to subdue him. To fend them off, White grabbed a push broom from the back of a nearby maintenance truck and hit one of the men on the leg, causing the broom’s head to break off.

Witnesses reported hearing White yelling, repeatedly, “In the name of Jesus Christ” and “Help me.” They described his behavior as “bizarre” and “crazy.” Police dispatchers alerted officers to an assault with a deadly weapon — the cinderblock — but also warned that this was a potential 5150 call, the code for someone who’s mentally ill and poses a danger to himself or others.

When police arrived, White was standing on a sidewalk and hitting a parked van with the jagged end of the broom handle. Five officers surrounded him — four with guns drawn, one with a police dog — yelling at him to drop the stick. He didn’t. Less than a minute later, at 1:30 p.m., White lay dying on a patch of dirt from a gunshot wound to the chest. He was pronounced dead at the scene. 

The scene where Elwood White was shot to death by police, Oceanside, California, May 20, 2012.

Photo: Kelly Davis

Michael Astorga, the San Diego County sheriff’s deputy who shot White, told investigators that he was holding the stick “like a spear” and had lunged at another officer. But no witnesses, including the four other officers, corroborated this account fully. Neither did the forensic evidence. This past June, during proceedings in a federal wrongful-death lawsuit filed by White’s parents, a county medical examiner testified that the bullet’s path — through White’s right forearm and into his chest — showed he was gripping the stick like a baseball bat when he was shot, holding it close to his torso, the thumb of his right hand facing up and turned inward. The four other officers said they saw White step forward, but the stick remained vertical.

There were no attempts to use less-lethal force. The police dog wasn’t released because, his handler testified, he didn’t want the dog to get hurt — even though the dog had been trained to disarm suspects. The dog’s handler called out “less lethal” and “we need a beanbag” to Astorga, who had a beanbag rifle in the trunk of his car, but Astorga didn’t retrieve it. Astorga testified that he’d at first drawn his Taser, but decided against using it because it was too windy. The National Weather Service, though, showed the wind that day blowing at just 4 mph, according to evidence presented at trial.

Jamon Hicks, an attorney for the Whites, argued that the officers’ actions went against recommended protocol for dealing with someone in crisis. “What’s the rush? Back up. Use your resources,” Hicks said. “I don’t care if you say ‘Drop the stick’ 100 times — you save that man’s life. There were other options that they had, but they didn’t even try.”

Hicks and co-counsel Carl Douglas never argued that White didn’t pose a threat to public safety. The question was whether, at the moment Astorga fired his gun, White posed such a threat that deadly force was the only option. To prevail in the case, the defense had to convince the jury to ignore the forensic evidence, ignore the witness testimony and believe Astorga’s version of events. “I just think fear permeated the courtroom and the jury box,” Hicks told this reporter recently. During closing arguments, a county attorney hoisted the stick in his right hand, held it above his shoulder — as one would hold a spear — and stepped toward jurors with a loud, aggressive stomp.

On June 22 the jury — all white except for one Latina woman — deliberated for an hour before finding the shooting justified.

OVER THE PAST YEAR, news reports of police shootings have highlighted the fact that we simply don’t know how many people are killed each year by law enforcement — or why. How many are armed? With what? How many are black? Hispanic? How many are mentally ill? How many are, like Elwood White, black and seemingly mentally ill?

Elwood (bottom left) with his father, Tim (top middle); his mother, Darleen (top, second from right); and his siblings.

Photo: Courtesy of the White family

“There is no good data on the use of lethal force, period, much less the use of lethal force where mental illness is a factor, even much less the same involving mental illness and racial or ethnic groups,” said Doris Fuller, chief of research and public affairs for the Treatment Advocacy Center, which released a 2013 report urging better data collection on mentally ill people killed by law enforcement.

California is close to requiring such data collection. A proposed bill authored by State Assemblyman Freddie Rodriguez requires all law enforcement agencies to report any shooting or use of force in which a civilian or police officer is injured or killed. The reports must include not only basic demographic information — gender, race, age — and what type of weapons were involved but also whether there were any perceived “behavior or mental disorders.” The bill requires the state Department of Justice to compile this information into an annual report. “We wanted to get a really clear picture of what was happening in the community with police officers and use of force,” said Francisco Estrada, Rodriguez’s spokesperson, “and what we can do to minimize the use of force on citizens and police officers.”

Another proposed bill aims to target racial profiling by collecting and analyzing data on the race and ethnicity of anyone even stopped by police. “People of color are getting murdered across the nation, and local data as well as anecdotal information suggests that the impact on African-Americans is disproportionate,” the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, told The Intercept. “At this point, we need to have data that explains why a person is stopped in the first place and what justification police officers have to use force on an individual.” Having such data, Weber said, “will give us the ability to move the discussion from anecdotes, rhetoric and accusation to a more rational and factual dialogue about appropriate law enforcement tactics and strategies.”

In the absence of official tallies, earlier this year the Washington Post began tracking police shootings in the U.S., using media reports and other public records, to compile an online database. As of Aug. 23, according to the Post’s count, law enforcement had killed 626 people. While the majority were armed with deadly weapons — guns or knives — of those killed blacks and Hispanics were two-and-a-half times more likely to be unarmed than whites. (The Post’s reporting team categorized as “unarmed” a black man holding a broom handle because, they wrote, it’s “an object unlikely to inflict serious injury.”)

Roughly a quarter of the deaths the Post has tracked involved someone who, according to police or family members, was mentally ill. Here, again, unarmed blacks and Hispanics are overrepresented: Black mentally ill decedents were 11 times more likely to be unarmed than whites. Hispanic mentally ill decedents were five times more likely to be unarmed than whites.

While the analysis is far from scientific, “it raises an interesting question,” said Phillip Goff, president for the Center for Policing Equity at UCLA, “namely, the threshold at which black versus white mentally ill people become ‘life-threatening.’”

In the absence of good data, we’re left with what research tells us about policing and race and policing and mental illness. Experts say no research exists that examines the overlay of race and mental illness in confrontations with law enforcement.

Research shows that the less experience an officer has in dealing with someone who’s mentally ill, the more likely the officer is to view that person as a threat. Training in this area tends to be minimal, with most officers getting no more than eight hours of academy training, according to a recent survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum. At Elwood White’s wrongful death trial, Astorga testified that his training was limited to eight hours. The sheriff’s deputy whom White purportedly lunged at, who had his gun drawn but didn’t shoot, had participated in 24 hours of voluntary post-academy training in handling psychiatric emergencies. That officer said in a deposition that though he was pressing the trigger of his gun, he had “no intention” of shooting White.

In the same way experts believe that “black crime implicit bias” has led to a disproportionate number of black people being killed by police, so too might that bias lead some people to view certain groups as more dangerous, said Lorie Fridell, an associate professor in the Department of Criminology at the University of South Florida, who’s considered a top expert on the subject. “This can occur even in those individuals who reject stereotypes and prejudice.”

This means that a 22-year-old black male who’s throwing rocks at cars, ransacking a minimart and wielding a broken broom handle will likely be perceived as more dangerous than a 45-year-old white woman engaging in the same behavior, said Seth Stoughton, a University of South Carolina law professor and former police officer who studies law enforcement training and tactics, “not because of conscious racism, but because of the implicit biases that shape [police] perceptions of that call or that encounter. At an unconscious level, that officer’s brain may be telling his mind, Its unusual for a 45-year-old white woman to be engaging in this behavior, so unusual that this is probably a symptom of mental illness. At the same time, the officer’s brain may be telling his mind, at an unconscious level, This seems like violent crime that young black adults have committed in the past that I, as an officer, am familiar with, so its probably that.”

The biggest factor in an officer’s decision to use force is the amount of resistance coming from a suspect, Stoughton said, and confusion could be interpreted as resistance. “Confrontational tactics, such as boxing a suspect in or making direct eye contact, can actually get officers into a lot of trouble when dealing with a person in crisis, as opposed to a criminal suspect,” he said.

ELWOOD WHITE WAS a long way from home when he died. He lived with his parents in Newhall, a small town just north of Los Angeles. On May 19, he’d taken a bus to Oceanside, 120 miles away in San Diego County, to spend the week with a longtime friend while his parents attended his sister’s college graduation in Texas. The friend told police investigators that as soon as he picked up White at the bus station, he could tell something wasn’t right.

The next afternoon, at the friend’s aunt’s house, White ran outside, started filling his pockets with rocks and began walking in circles and talking to himself. When the friend went to check on White, White punched him and took off running down the street, yelling, “It wasn’t me! Help me! Help me.” The intersection where White ended up is about a mile from the aunt’s house.

White’s parents still don’t know what was wrong with their son, but they believe he experienced some sort of psychotic break. He’d never been formally diagnosed with a mental illness, but just weeks before his death, he’d told his dad, Tim, that he was hearing voices. “My husband told Elwood that whenever he heard the voices, to just come and be with him,” his mom, Darleen, said.

White’s parents reject any suggestion that their son intentionally went on a rampage. He’d never been in trouble before; he’d never shown any violent tendencies. At the time of his death, he was a hospice worker, a Golden Gloves boxer who’d started a youth boxing program and a member of 818 Session, an underground “krumping” (street dance) group in North Hollywood. He was from a large, close family. (His dad and uncle, Lonnie White, were USC football stars.) The third of seven kids, White was the only one who hadn’t gone to college, a fact the defense zeroed in on during the trial. Darleen said her son planned to start community college in the fall of 2012.

White’s parents were so troubled by what police say their son did that they asked the coroner if he could examine White’s brain for any sign of what might have triggered his behavior. (This autopsy showed no signs of brain trauma or abnormality, although it would not necessarily reveal other forms of mental illness.)

The Whites don’t plan to appeal the jury verdict. But at least the trial helped them better understand what happened that day, Darleen said. “We finally have the answers we were seeking,” she wrote on a Facebook page set up in her son’s memory.

“Police testimony, in my opinion, proved that the situation was not handled properly,” she told The Intercept. “My son should still be alive.”

Photo: Elwood and his sister Taahirah in 2011.

The post What We Don’t Know About Policing, Race and Mental Illness appeared first on The Intercept.

Giant Coal Company Bankruptcy Reveals Secret Ties to Climate Denial, GOP Dark Money Groups

The Intercept - Engl. - Mar, 25/08/2015 - 19:34

Alpha Natural Resources, one of the largest coal companies in America, was a player in major congressional election efforts last year — but you won’t find records of their corporate donations on the Federal Election Commission website or in any public record.

You will, however, find signs of the Virginia-based coal giant’s secret political activities buried in a creditor document filed last Thursday. The recent downturn in coal prices and high debts forced the company to seek bankruptcy protection earlier this month.

The filing lists organizations with which Alpha Natural Resources had any kind of financial transaction, including recipients of grants, creditors and contractors. The filing does not list amounts given or owed by Alpha Natural Resources. A spokesperson for the firm did not respond to a request for comment.

Alpha Natural Resources gave money to an array of nonprofit entities that are not required to report donor information. These groups were pivotal in helping Republicans maintain control of the House of Representatives and in electing the new GOP majority in the Senate.

The corporation helped fund the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, a secretive nonprofit group that refused to disclose any donor information during the election last year. The Kentucky Opportunity Coalition was the largest outside campaign entity in the Kentucky senate race, spending over $14 million on television and radio commercials to successfully reelect Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in his campaign against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

Alpha Natural Resources also helped finance campaign entities associated with the Koch brothers campaign network, including Americans for Prosperity, Themis Trust (a campaign data company), and Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, a clearing house used to fund a range of organizations supporting Republican election efforts. The Institute for Energy Research, an advocacy group founded by Charles Koch that lobbies in support of fossil fuel subsidies and against renewable energy policies, had a financial relationship with Alpha Natural Resources.

The company, with operations in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky and Wyoming, had once been viewed as a coal industry powerhouse. In 2011, Alpha Natural Resources borrowed $7.1 billion to purchase Massey Energy after 29 employees were killed in Massey’s Upper Big Branch mine.

The creditor filing reveals a number of other revelations about Alpha Natural Resource’s undisclosed political operation. For instance, the company gave money to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a trade association that spent over $35 million during the election last year, largely to benefit GOP candidates. It also donated to Americans Allied for Jobs and Security, a group that spent a small amount supporting Republican candidates during the midterm elections.

The company donated to a number of political groups that favor environmental deregulation on the coal industry, including the Ripon Society, a foundation to support moderate Republicans; the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think tank in Virginia; and the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit that works with lobbyists to develop business-friendly template legislation used by state lawmakers. ALEC recently produced template legislation to block states from submitting compliance plans with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, new regulations designed to combat carbon emissions.

The bankruptcy filing lists “Arthur C Brooks C/O AEI 1150 17th St. NW Washington DC,” which appears to be Arthur Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank that has campaigned against the EPA’s new rules governing carbon emissions from coal power plants. 

Alpha Natural Resources backed the Heartland Institute, an Illinois-based think tank that aggressively works to counter the belief in climate change. The Heartland Institute, which organizes an annual gathering of climate change deniers, gained notoriety in 2012 for sponsoring billboards comparing those who believe in climate change to the Unabomber Ted Kaczynski and cult leader Charles Manson.

Bankruptcy filings are providing a rare window into the subterranean world of money in politics. Earlier this year, The Intercept used a bankruptcy filing to reveal secret donations to dark money campaign entities and think tanks made by Corithinian Colleges, a for-profit college with a high rate of student defaults. Many of the beneficiaries of Corinthian College’s secret money helped the school beat back regulations governing the $1.4 billion per year in federally-backed student loans the company received.

Just days after his reelection victory, made possible with the support of the Kentucky Opportunity Coalition, Sen. McConnell announced that his top priority would be to rein in the EPA’s power to regulate coal companies. Alpha Natural Resources considered the EPA rules a top priority as well.

The post Giant Coal Company Bankruptcy Reveals Secret Ties to Climate Denial, GOP Dark Money Groups appeared first on The Intercept.

Saudi-Arabien: Zahl der Todesurteile steigt

Hintergrund.de - Mar, 25/08/2015 - 17:56

Von REDAKTION, 25. August 2015 -

Amnesty International hat die stark ansteigende Zahl von Hinrichtungen in Saudi-Arabien scharf kritisiert. In einem kürzlich erschienen Bericht unter dem Titel "Killing in the Name of Justice" schätzt die Menschenrechtsorganisation, dass allein in der ersten Hälfte dieses Jahres mindestens 102 Menschen hingerichtet worden seien 2014 waren es insgesamt 90. Saudi-Arabien steht seit langem dafür in der Kritik, Menschen auf Grundlage einer reaktionären Auslegung islamischen Rechts und ohne fairen Prozess hinzurichten. "Die Behörden scheitern immer wieder daran, internationale Standards für faire Verfahren und UN-Schutzvorkehrungen zur Einhaltung der Rechte von zum Tode Verurteilter einzuhalten", konstatiert der

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Polen hat Angst vor Iran und fordert mehr Geld für Raketenabwehr

Indymedia antimil - Mar, 25/08/2015 - 10:55
von: PolitGraben am: 25.08.2015 - 10:55

Polens Präsident Andrzej Duda hat eine Kampagne mit dem Ziel, die NATO-Partner von der Notwendigkeit der Festigung der Ostgrenzen des Bündnisses zu überzeugen, gestartet. „Mit der Zeit gehen“, „historisch richtige Entscheidung“ usw. – so argumentiert Duda die Einrichtung von NATO-Stützpunkten in Osteuropa. Bemerkenswert ist da, dass nicht die Konfrontation mit Russland, wie es viele meinen, sondern die „Informationen der israelischen Geheimdienste hinsichtlich des Iran-Atomprogramms“ zur Dudas Reise Anlass gegeben haben.

Der „unsichtbare“ Krieg gegen den IS – Ein Blick auf die Folgen

IMI Tübingen - Mar, 25/08/2015 - 10:06
Der Krieg aus der Luft mit Kampfflugzeugen, Hubschraubern, Marschflugkörpern oder Drohnen für Angriffe auf Einzelpersonen oder Personengruppen sowie als Kampfunterstützung für am Boden eingesetzte eigene Einheiten oder für verbündete Kriegsparteien scheint in den vergangenen Jahren an Bedeutung gewonnen zu haben. (…)

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Kriegsverbrechen im Jemen

Hintergrund.de - Lun, 24/08/2015 - 23:55

Internationale Hilfsorganisationen warnen vor schlimmster humanitärer Katastrophe

Von SEBASTIAN RANGE, 24. August 2015 -

Der mithilfe der USA geführte Angriffskrieg einer von Saudi-Arabien geleiteten Militärkoalition gegen den Jemen trägt genozidale Züge. Während gezielt zivile Einrichtungen und die für die Versorgung der Bevölkerung lebenswichtige Infrastruktur bombardiert werden, leiden Millionen Menschen aufgrund der verhängten Blockade akuten Hunger. Zudem breiten sich Seuchen aus, da kaum noch ein Bewohner des ärmsten arabischen Landes Zugang zu sauberem Trinkwasser hat. Indes übernimmt al-Qaida die Kontrolle über immer mehr Gebiete.  

Nach dem Vormarsch schiitischer Huthi-Rebellen und mit ihnen verbündeter Einheiten der Armee bis in den Süden des

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