News Control

Private Equity Is Killing Journalism

McKay Coppins, The Atlantic

[it’s widely understood why a free press is essential to a democracy. If people don’t know what is happening, they won’t be able to respond to circumstances in reasonable ways. While we still have a ‘free press’ there’s less freedom and less press these days than you might think, as the Atlantic reveals.
The saga of the Chicago Tribune is representative of trends and realities growing in force for decades, but that might have reached a tipping point. This article has it all: private equity firms, mass layoffs, the death of journalism, and of course important stories covered by no one at all. We value a free press, and want it to survive and thrive. But the possibility exists that this cannot happen while allowing private capital to do as it pleases when it comes to covering the news – or owning it. — Progressive Hub]

Spend some time around the shell-shocked journalists at the Tribune these days, and you’ll hear the same question over and over: How did it come to this? On the surface, the answer might seem obvious. Craigslist killed the Classified section, Google and Facebook swallowed up the ad market, and a procession of hapless newspaper owners failed to adapt to the digital-media age, making obsolescence inevitable. This is the story we’ve been telling for decades about the dying local-news industry, and it’s not without truth. But what’s happening in Chicago is different.

In May, the Tribune was acquired by Alden Global Capital, a secretive hedge fund that has quickly, and with remarkable ease, become one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. The new owners did not fly to Chicago to address the staff, nor did they bother with paeans to the vital civic role of journalism. Instead, they gutted the place.

Two days after the deal was finalized, Alden announced an aggressive round of buyouts. In the ensuing exodus, the paper lost the Metro columnist who had championed the occupants of a troubled public-housing complex, and the editor who maintained a homicide database that the police couldn’t manipulate, and the photographer who had produced beautiful portraits of the state’s undocumented immigrants, and the investigative reporter who’d helped expose the governor’s offshore shell companies. When it was over, a quarter of the newsroom was gone.

The hollowing-out of the Chicago Tribune was noted in the national press, of course. There were sober op-eds and lamentations on Twitter and expressions of disappointment by professors of journalism. But outside the industry, few seemed to notice. Meanwhile, the Tribune’s remaining staff, which had been spread thin even before Alden came along, struggled to perform the newspaper’s most basic functions. After a powerful Illinois state legislator resigned amid bribery allegations, the paper didn’t have a reporter in Springfield to follow the resulting scandal. And when Chicago suffered a brutal summer crime wave, the paper had no one on the night shift to listen to the police scanner.

News Control
Credit: Anthony Quintano https://www.flickr.com/photos/quintanomedia/50245773423
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CO2 emissions

Climate Change: Wealthy Countries Did It, They Should Pay For It

Jason Hickel, The Lancet

[The Lancet is better known for medical research and public health. But they see the causes and effects of climate change on public health and the catastrophic direction we’re heading in, as a species. In this article, they make it clear just how much responsibility rich countries have for climate change. The Global North (North America, Europe, Australia) released the carbon causing so much harm. It stands to reason that they must also shoulder the primary costs of implementing climate solutions. — Progressive Hub]

As of 2015, the USA was responsible for 40% of excess global CO2 emissions. The European Union (EU-28) was responsible for 29%. The G8 nations (the USA, EU-28, Russia, Japan, and Canada) were together responsible for 85%. Countries classified by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change as Annex I nations (ie, most industrialised countries) were responsible for 90% of excess emissions. The Global North was responsible for 92%. By contrast, most countries in the Global South were within their boundary fair shares, including India and China (although China will overshoot soon).

Interpretation

These figures indicate that high-income countries have a greater degree of responsibility for climate damages than previous methods have implied. These results offer a just framework for attributing national responsibility for excess emissions, and a guide for determining national liability for damages related to climate change, consistent with the principles of planetary boundaries and equal access to atmospheric commons.

CO2 emissions
By Geralt https://pixabay.com/es/illustrations/co2-cansada-se%C3%B1ales-de-tr%C3%A1fico-4767388/

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Defund The Police Campaign

The Battle for 'Defund': Budgets Are Rising, But So Are Alternatives to Policing

Ray Levy Uyeda, Prism

One year after the George Floyd uprisings that prompted a nationwide reevaluation of what role police actually play in upholding public safety, cities are backtracking on moves to redirect funds from municipal police budgets. In response to the uprisings, civil rights activists, community organizations, and protesters demanded that officials defund police budgets, which often account for significant portions of city spending and eclipse funding for local programs, schools, and libraries.

Now, some local governments are restoring police budgets that had been recently cut, and some departments are receiving additional funding on the claim that a nationwide increase in crime demands an increased police presence. In Austin, after vowing to cut funding by $100 million, the city council increased the police budget to a record $442 million. The New York Times recently wrote on the issue that departments felt pressure to increase police funding, in some cases offering signing bonuses, in response to the number of officers who resigned their positions.

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Democrats and Unions lose popularity in middle U.S

Democrats Underestimate How Much Trouble They Are In

Hamilton Nolan, In These Times

[Nolan is addressing a debate in Democratic Party circles that asks the question: what national electoral strategy will help Democrats do well in 2022 and 2024? Often, partisans either demand to include/remove less popular items from the agenda, especially those that center racial or other constituencies and their needs. This is related to the ‘Democrats should not pander to white working class voters’ trope.

What is new here, is a redefinition of the problem as being fundamentally about the loss of union members across nine states, especially in smaller cities that used to be manufacturing hubs. Viewed with that lens, the problem – and likely solutions – are no longer about messaging, but about organizing. — Progressive Hub]

There is nothing the Democratic Party loves more than indulging in some existential hand wringing over its declining popularity in the crumbling American heartland. Indeed, this was the favorite pundit pastime of the entire Trump era. Amid the wailing over cultural differences and economic insecurity, a rarely heard word is ​“unions.” Yet, a new report adds to the evidence that the fate of the Democratic Party is intimately tied to the decline of union power. It’s also one more sign that the labor movement itself needs to throw everything it has into new organizing with a fervor that has been lacking in our lifetimes.

The new analysis, by several Democratic consultants, parses election results at a county level to argue that the simple narrative that Democrats win urban areas, Republicans win rural areas, and the suburbs are a battleground, is simplistic and misleading. In fact, the report finds that Democrats’ biggest losses in the 2020 election came in ​“factory town” counties with smaller cities that traditionally relied on manufacturing employment — counties that account for 40% of all voters.

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End Israeli Apartheid

Workers at Google and Amazon Demand: Stop Supporting Israeli Apartheid

Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

A day after hundreds of Amazon and Google workers condemned their employers for complicity in Israel’s human rights violations against Palestinians, over 40 grassroots groups on Wednesday announced a campaign to amplify the efforts of activists around the world working to stop apartheid profiteers.

“As the Israeli military bombed homes, clinics, and schools in Gaza and threatened to push Palestinian families from their homes in Jerusalem this past May, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud executives signed a $1.22 billion contract to provide cloud technology to the Israeli government and military,” the campaign noted. “By doing business with Israeli apartheid, Amazon and Google will make it easier for the Israeli government to surveil Palestinians and force them off their land.”

“Technology should be used to bring people together, not enable apartheid and ethnic cleansing.”

End Israeli Apartheid
By Alisdare Hickson https://www.flickr.com/photos/alisdare/51183566252/in/photostream/

The “No Tech for Apartheid” campaign was launched by groups including the Adalah Justice Project, American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Data for Black Lives, Fight for the Future, Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), MPower Change, Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), and World Beyond War.

“We’re heeding the call from hundreds of Google and Amazon workers to rise up against the contract, known as Project Nimbus,” the campaign said. “Technology should be used to bring people together, not enable apartheid and ethnic cleansing. Following in the footsteps of those who fought to divest from apartheid South Africa and won, it’s our responsibility to rise up in support of Palestinian freedom.”

International critics—including leading human rights groupssurvivors of South African apartheid, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter—have argued that Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, illegal Jews-only settlements, segregated roads, separation wall, and other policies and actions constitute a form of apartheid.

The No Tech for Apartheid campaign follows an open letter signed by more than 500 Amazon and Google employees calling on the tech giants to cancel Project Nimbus, which they said “allows for further surveillance of and unlawful data collection on Palestinians, and facilitates expansion of Israel’s illegal settlements on Palestinian land.”

 

Fight for the Future director Evan Greer said in a statement that “Israel’s military has contracted Amazon and Google to build and fuel the technology used to oppress, occupy, and bomb Palestinians. The services Amazon and Google provide and the technology they build [power] drones, surveillance, and sophisticated weaponry for the Israeli military.”

“Make no mistake, if we don’t get Amazon and Google to cut their ties with Israel, the stage will be set for them to become the backbone of the 21st-century military-industrial complex,” she continued. “And developments made in powering Israel’s war machine will be exported to militaries and police departments across the world, including America.”

“Make no mistake, if we don’t get Amazon and Google to cut their ties with Israel, the stage will be set for them to become the backbone of the 21st-century military-industrial complex.”

“We’re at a precipice with lives at stake,” Greer added. “Nothing short of Amazon and Google ending the Project Nimbus contract is acceptable.”

Olivia Katbi Smith, North America coordinator for the BDS Movement, said that “Amazon and Google are helping to sustain Israeli apartheid in its repression of the Palestinian people with a massive cloud contract that will enable increased surveillance, discrimination, and displacement.”

“Mass as well as targeted surveillance of disenfranchised Indigenous Palestinians, who are denied basic rights and recourse to justice, is a core feature of Israel’s system of repression, oppression, and colonial dispossession,” she added. “This repression, which is often tested on Palestinians before being exported globally, must be challenged by us all, together.”

JVP executive director Stefanie Fox said that “courageous workers at Google and Amazon are calling on their employers to stop enabling the Israeli government’s oppression of Palestinian families—and we are proud to stand with them.”

“Google and Amazon executives should listen to their employees, pull out of the Nimbus contract, and cut all ties with the Israeli military,” she added. “No tech for apartheid!”


Covid-19 in Washington prisons

Prison Should Not Be a Death Sentence; With Covid, It Often Is

Michael J. Moore, The Progressive Magazine

People in prisons are, by some estimates, five times more likely to get COVID-19 than those on the outside. To enable social distancing, some people incarcerated in more than twenty-one states were granted early releases last year. This was also the case in Washington State, where I am incarcerated.

But, as soon as Washington’s incarcerated population decreased from around 17,000 to around 13,000 in an effort to save money, the Department of Corrections shut down living units and targeted entire prisons for closure. The remaining residents were, once again, crammed together, negating the previous releases. Outbreaks soon ensued.

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Haitian migrants

America Has Been Mistreating Haitian Migrants For Decades

Ibrahim Hirsi, The Nation

The migrants whose pictures flooded the Internet were among thousands of Haitian asylum seekers attempting to restart their lives in the United States. But federal patrol agents, wearing chaps and cowboy hats, confronted them with horses and reins—a tactic Vice President Kamala Harris said evokes images of slavery.

President Joe Biden, for his part, called the officers’ treatment of Haitian migrants “outrageous,” vowing that those involved in the reported abuse will face the consequences of their actions. “It sends the wrong message around the world and sends the wrong message at home,” he told reporters of the mistreatment. “It’s simply not who we are.”

But is this really the first time that federal agents hunted down and rounded up Haitian migrants trying to seek asylum in the United States?

Not at all, say experts of the Haitian diaspora and immigration scholars. Since the early 1960s, when the first known group of Haitian “boat people” landed in South Florida, it didn’t take long for immigration authorities to round them up and send them back to their impoverished island. Immigrant agents repeated that response in the decades that followed, irrespective of the political affiliation of the man occupying the Oval Office.

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Indigenous Leaders Kick Off 'People vs. Fossil Fuels'

By Amy Goodman and Winona LaDuke, DemocracyNow

In response to the completion of the contested Line 3 pipeline, which is now reportedly operational, thousands of Indigenous leaders and climate justice advocates are kicking off the “People vs. Fossil Fuels’’ mobilization, an Indigenous-led five-day action of civil disobedience at the White House to demand President Biden declare a climate emergency, divest from fossil fuels and launch a “just renewable energy revolution.” “This pipeline doesn’t respect treaty rights,” says Winona LaDuke, longtime Indigenous activist and founder of Honor the Earth, a platform to raise awareness of and money for Indigenous struggles for environmental justice.

“They’re just trying to continue their egregious behavior. It’s so tragic that, on the one hand, the Biden administration is like, ’We’re going to have Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but we’re still going to smash you in northern Minnesota and smash the rest of the country.’” LaDuke faces criminal charges linked to her protest of pipelines in three different counties.

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The News Is Hiding The Reality of Climate Change

By Evlondo Cooper, Prism

[Cooper analyzes television coverage of Hurricane Ida and uncovers a simple fact: broadcasters are deliberately hiding information about an underlying cause (climate change) and an obvious result (poor Black and brown people are the most vulnerable). It matters that we hold the press accountable for reporting that so clearly manages to keep some of the most important facts out of public consciousness. — Progressive Hub]

Coverage of Hurricane Ida’s landfall followed this too-familiar pattern: not only did most of the national TV news’ reporting fail to connect the storm to climate change, but the coverage also didn’t tell viewers how and why vulnerable communities suffer more from climate-fueled extreme weather events. I know this because I research it for a living. A recent Media Matters analysis found that from Aug. 27-30—when Ida quickly grew to a Category 4 hurricane—just 4% of the combined 774 total national TV news segments on Hurricane Ida mentioned climate change. To simplify, 96% of coverage ignored the key reason why hurricanes like Ida are much more dangerous.

The storm’s rapid intensification harmed evacuation efforts, especially for people who lacked the means or money to temporarily relocate out of Ida’s path. This is just one of many ways that climate-fueled extreme weather events like hurricanes disproportionately affect marginalized communities and people of color. But if you don’t understand why the same communities are ill-equipped to evade and recover from increasingly frequent and devastating storms like Hurricane Ida year after year, you’d be hard-pressed to find the answers during national TV news’ coverage of Ida’s path through southern Louisiana.

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Rep. Jayapal Has Turned The Progressive Caucus Into a Fighting Force

By Daniel Marans, HuffPost

Last week, something unusual happened: The Congressional Progressive Caucus won a clear, if temporary, victory against the more conservative members of the House Democratic Caucus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) conceded to pressure from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) on Sept. 30 when she delayed a promised vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill favored by conservative Democrats.

The House’s 96-person progressive bloc, once dismissed as too large and ideologically inchoate to wield real power, had made clear that it had the votes to tank the infrastructure bill, pending firmer guarantees about the passage of the more progressive Build Back Better budget reconciliation package.

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