“AP Explains: Venezuela’s humanitarian aid standoff”: Where’s the sanctions part?

From the AP: https://apnews.com/6c66de0a22944b58b276d43eef91c093

The suffering of the Venezuelan people is heartbreaking. But:

A) This is not a result of a failing socialist system but rather an economic strangling committed by the U.S. and the International community, who are in our pocket, through strong sanctions, and,

B) If Maduro lets in the U.S. aid, it would be seen as a gift from Guaido which would strengthen him immensely. And Guaido would be a U.S. puppet.

The only thing that should solve this is the delivery of aid by Russia or China. Where are they at?

Frontline Must-See: “Secrets, Politics, & Torture”

080513_frontline_stack_card.380x212.jpg.fit.480x270This episode of Frontline entitled “Secrets, Politics, & Torture” is a must watch. It covers the entire CIA torture history since September 11th, 2001, and all that surrounded it in the political world.

It explains how torture techniques did not lead the CIA to any actionable intelligence and how the film “Zero Dark Thirty” is a piece of propaganda portraying torture methods as effective.

Must Watch! Here’s the link.

Frontline: “Secrets, Politics, & Torture”


Science In The News

leadI’ve been working on this general thought all week. You will find it very rough at first, but follow below for some full context.

The mainstream media has a deeply flawed style of reporting science stories. They take a single scientific study, not a trend in the literature, and reports it as almost indisputable fact. This is a huge problem. To observe this phenomenon just watch your local news. I don’t know if drinking red wine will let me live forever, or kill me tomorrow. They just jump on the latest, single study from a peer reviewed journal and report it as settled science. The public does not know enough about the pillars of the scientific method to understand. They just rely on the reporting of their local information gate-keepers. The news just throws up a tease before a commercial break saying something like, “How eating chocolate may affect your health. Coming up in 30 seconds.” This then is followed by a report that is far too short for even the study’s abstract to be read aloud. This is unbelievably irresponsible.

In light of the above rant I wrote and re-wrote on  my iPhone at work all week, I found on the web today a terrific article in The Atlantic that backs me up. The Thursday piece is about a Pew Research poll  that shows people have no doubt in science’s progress and usefulness, yet they still disagree with some specific findings. These include hot-button issues like global-warming, genetically modified food, and opinions on vaccines’ effectiveness and safety. So let me quote something from the article I found that contributes to my argument:

For their part, scientists in the Pew survey faulted the media and the public itself for the existence of these gaps. The “public doesn’t know much about science” was reported as a major problem by 84 percent of scientists, and 79 percent considered “news reports don’t distinguish well-founded findings” a major problem. About half of scientists said oversimplification by the media and a public that expects solutions too quickly were major problems.

Fair enough. The translating of dense, precise scientific studies into digestible, clickable news stories is a tricky business. When a publication mistakenly says a single study “proves” something, or, heaven forbid, implies causation where there is merely correlation, those who know better are eager to jump in and point out the mistake. And it probably doesn’t help the publications’ reputations as legitimate sources of information. Of course, no matter how careful a writer is to say “associated with,” to transparently point out small sample sizes, to repeat the scientists’ claim that “more research is needed,” you’ll still get commenters crying “pseudoscience.”

So we must be vigilant. The misrepresented news of peer-reviewed publications’ studies and experiments need to be reported as part of a larger conversation. And that includes the work of many researchers over a usually lengthy amount of time, not just a 20-second news bite or Yahoo! article.


James Foley and Real Journalists

subFOLEY-2-master315James Foley, an American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago, was decapitated by ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) militants on a 4:40 minute video this past Tuesday posted on the internet. ISIS claimed that the murder was in retaliation for recent airstrikes by the American military on their forces in Iraq which, but today’s post is not just about Mr. Foley’s tragic death but by the dangers faced by journalists around the world.

It’s about journalists being heroes, and I’m not talking about “talking heads” or, God forbid, pundits. I am speaking about journalists taking dangerous assignments to get to the heart of a story. And I am talking, again, about real journalists who really stick out their necks, not Anderson Cooper or Christine Amanpour or Wolf Blitzer who report miles away from danger.

We would be nowhere without journalists who risk their lives everyday who keep the gate open to dangerous information as “gate-keepers.”

The problem is that in American society the occupation of a journalist is only rated ahead of attorneys in the list of most contemptible occupations. But at the root of this perception is that fact that Americans lump all journalist endeavors together. Thanks to most people not paying attention to the news, Americans classify journalists together with the entertainment beat. When they think of journalists they think of tabloid journalism, TMZ, or the paparazzi, not those like James Foley.

Unfortunately their is too much tabloid- journalism stories going around. The other day, on CNN, I saw Blitzer say, “Stay tuned, we have some video you will want to see. A Los Angeles car chase ends in a horrific crash.” How is that good journalism! That’s just baiting the worst in our cravings for the unsubstantial!

The problem with the American perception of journalists is these types of stories. They grab our attention and leave the work of Woodward and Bernstein (who took down a U.S. President) or Glenn Greenwald (who reported Edward Snowden’s revelations ab0ut NSA spying-tactics) at the wayside

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), 834 known journalists have been killed since 1992 in the line of their work. Below is a table by CPJ that breaks down the numbers of journalist deaths by individual countries. I will leave you with these sobering statistics.

20 Deadliest Countries

  1. Iraq: 166
  2. Philippines: 76
  3. Syria: 67
  4. Algeria: 60
  5. Russia: 56
  6. Pakistan: 54
  7. Somalia: 53
  1. Colombia: 45
  2. India: 32
  3. Mexico: 30
  4. Brazil: 29
  5. Afghanistan: 26
  6. Turkey: 21
  7. Sri Lanka: 19
  1. Bosnia: 19
  2. Tajikistan: 17
  3. Rwanda: 17
  4. Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory: 16
  5. Sierra Leone: 16
  6. Bangladesh: 14



Kerry Blames Israeli Settlements for Breakdown

09post-articleLargeAn update in the NYT reports that Sec. of State John Kerry blamed the breakdown of the most recent attempt Mid-East peace talks on Israel’s announcement of new settlements in East Jerusalem.

Notice how, though, as in almost all major media outlets in America, the NYT quickly reports that the Palestinians are just as at fault with their supposed “tit-for-tat” actions by applying for statehood with various international unions.

In the American mass media, Israel can mostly do no wrong.

Read Here.


A Short History of The Media

bad_tv_news-620x412A great column in Salon.com is an excerpt from the book “The Invention of News: How The World Came To Know About Itself” by Andrew Pettegree. Anyone interested in the Communications field or just interested in media studies in general will love it.

It gives a good account of how the news world came into being before the NYT or Fox News.

Read Here.


Is Rolling-News Outdated?

Sky-news-studio-007A great piece from The Guardians’ Media Blog giving several criticisms and argument points on how rolling-news channels (mainly what we see on cable news channels where it continues with an anchor 24 hours a day) are outdated in a digital world with Facebook, Twitter, and, yes, blogs. A must read.

Read Here.


FOX News Only: What Was Learned?

megyn_kelly2-620x412A great piece at Salon by admitted left-of-Obama liberal John Haggerty on what he learned from not consuming any news outlets other than FOX News for a month, at three hours a day.

Now, though he is a leftist, he comes up with some insightful observations that go beyond just the usual liberal laundry list against FOX.

Very interesting.

Read Here. 



Media in a Socialist Society

hannity_oreilly_kelly-620x412A fascinating piece found at Salon.com by Fred Jerome excerpted from the book “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.”

Featuring a good critique of the modern media landscape, he illuminates how the media serves to ‘fool and rule” the masses. He then follows by painting a picture of what the news could be at it’s full potential when existing in a socialist society.

Read Here.


Wall Street Success Not Trickling Down to Main Street

Wall-StreetThe 2013 end of the year totals for Wall Street recorded the best returns since 1995,one of the glorious economic Clinton years.

The Dow Jones led with gains of 26.5 percent with the S&P 500 gaining 29.6 percent.

But the problem here is with the rah-rah that occurs when any milestone is reached by stock market growth.

Every day, from CNN to your local 6:00pm news both gleefully report when the stock market has “gained” that day.

But what about the slow growth of Main Street in the light of all this growth? Why are the rich only getting richer while the rest are still struggling to pay the bills, worrying over their kitchen table at night?

So what we need to do is stop equating Wall St. growth with growth that benefits everyone. Stop the cheering for the latest bench marks reached everyday, week, or month for this does not guarantee improvement in your life.

Remember, the gatekeepers in society are the media, and most mainstream media personnel are invested in the stock market for they are fairly well off, if you can put it so mildly.

When the latest growth of a company results in so many points gained that day, it could be very well that the number was reached by announcing immense layoffs, economically destroying middle class/lower middle class families who have no investment in Wall St. ups and downs.