March 26, 2012
By Madison Ruppert
The United States military has now decided that they will not charge a single soldier with any crime for their role in the airstrike carried out by North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces last year which resulted in the murder of 24 Pakistani soldiers.
This incident significantly hurt U.S.-Pakistani relations and has had a major impact on operations in Afghanistan, not the least of which is the increase of effective gasoline costs up to around $400 per gallon for the U.S. military in Afghanistan.
The American investigation – the objectivity of which is highly questionable – determined that both American and Pakistani troops were at fault.
However, said investigation in December of last year claimed that the Pakistani soldiers fired first. They further claimed that the soldiers fired from two border posts which were not on the coalition maps.
Furthermore, they allege that the Pakistani soldiers did not stop firing when the Americans attempted to tell them that they were attacking allied troops.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, Pakistan rejected all of these conclusions and put the blame squarely on American forces.
The investigation carried out by the United States set up a second inquiry which looked into whether American military personnel should be held responsible for the killings.
This review, which was just recently completed, came to the conclusion that not a single soldier should be punished for any crime whatsoever.
According to three senior military officials cited by The New York Times, the Americans fired in self-defense, thus clearing them of any and all wrongdoing.
They are now claiming that the mistakes which contributed to the tragic and deadly attack were nothing more than the result of battlefield confusion.
“We found nothing criminally negligent on the part of any individual in our investigations of the incident,” one anonymous senior U.S. military official, who has been involved with the inquiry, said.
The American officials spoke only on condition of anonymity due to the fact that the results of the review have yet to be made publicly available.
February 6, 2012
By Russ Baker
Is Twitter (a) a leading vehicle for freedom movements, or (b) primed to control and shut down open discourse throughout the world?
This question emerged recently when we learned that the global messaging service was planning to abide by the rules of each country in terms of content it carries. Here’s New York Times:
This week, in a sort of coming-of-age moment, Twitter announced that upon request, it would block certain messages in countries where they were deemed illegal. The move immediately prompted outcry, argument and even calls for a boycott from some users.
Twitter said it would also “give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world.””
Now, you may be one of those people who very proudly have not incorporated Twitter into your life, but this development is still of enormous relevance to you and your world. Why? Simply because Twitter, with its declared 175 million registered users (many of whom, it must be said, are inactive) has become one of the most powerful forces in communication today, arguably more relevant to more people than even traditional heavyweights like The New York Times, CNN, and the BBC.
That’s why we at WhoWhatWhy use Twitter as one of our basket of social media tools. It allows individuals and groups to communicate directly with other individuals, in groups, on an instantaneous basis. As such, it was a vital tool for activists in Egypt and elsewhere (including the Occupy Movement in the United States) to quickly mobilize and have an impact.
Thus, Twitter is viewed as a tremendous opportunity by those who seek to regain the upper hand from the small elites that dominate the political and economic systems throughout most if not all of the world. To those elites, however, Twitter spells doom.
Unless they can neutralize it.
November 16, 2011
by Ben Doernberg
“Talk about living in a police state. These kinds of actions from the cops are only going to make the protesters more upset. The police are not helping the situation. They are making it worse – like always.” –KTRN
Journalists said they were shut out and roughed up as the New York Police Department cleared Zuccotti Park of Occupy Wall Street protesters in the early morning hours Tuesday. “I’m w/ a NY Post reporter who says he was roughed up by riot police as Zuccotti was cleared,” tweeted Brian Stelter of The New York Times. “He thinks violence was ‘completely deliberate.’ “ Julie Walker, a freelancer for NPR, and Jared Malsin were reportedly arrested. Josh Harkinson, a staff writer for Mother Jones, made it into the park and observed the police arresting protesters (which he described in tweets later), but said he was hauled out when he told a police officer he was working for Mother Jones. ”I decided it would be better to stay out of jail and keep reporting on what’s going on tonight, so I let him haul me out, arguing with him,” he tweeted. Josh Stearns, associate program director at Free Press, is updating his ongoing Storify of journalist arrests at Occupy protests. || Update: Several more journalists arrested when protesters returned Tuesday morning (Guardian) | Society of Professional Journalists says charges against journalists should be dropped (SPJ) || Earlier: Three-time Wisconsin ‘Photographer of the Year’ arrested during Occupy rally || Related: Occupy Oakland and news media coexist uneasily (The Bay Citizen)
October 24, 2011
By Jonathan Benson
Nearly a million and a half American homes are currently in foreclosure, which means many residences in various neighborhoods are now sitting empty and abandoned. And according to a recent report by The New York Times (NYT), criminals of all stripes, from prostitutes and drug addicts to gang members and thieves, are taking over these properties and “squatting” them indefinitely.
Unable to make their mortgage payments due to job losses and other economic factors, many families, particularly in areas where housing prices spiraled most out of control, have been forced out of their homes in recent years. And taking their place are the dregs of society, who really have nothing to lose by invading formerly-occupied properties and doing whatever they please in them.
“They’re becoming a magnet for criminal activity,” said Deputy Inspector Miltiadis Marmara, the commanding police officer of the 133rd Precinct in South Jamaica, Queens, New York, to the NYT concerning the excess of foreclosed properties. “[The criminals] hang out in these abandoned homes that may be foreclosed, or the owners walked away. Every day we respond to something to that effect.”
Criminals looking for places to sell drugs, throw parties, steal copper piping and other valuables, and even host residential “strip clubs” are finding refuge, if you will, in these abandoned properties. And although police continue to arrest these squatters, others often just take their place shortly thereafter.
New York is not the worst state as far as foreclosures go, either. In Michigan, one of every 322 houses is a foreclosure; while in California, it is one of every 259 housing units. And in Nevada, the foreclosure rate is a whopping one of every 118 housing units.
In Detroit, Mich., authorities have recently begun to crack down on squatters that have taken over many abandoned housing units in the largely blighted city. Home values are already dismally low there, but having criminals occupying foreclosed homes only makes things worse.
As the US economy continues to unravel, the squatting by criminals will likely just get even worse. Sacramento, Cal., Miami, Fla., Trenton, NJ., Cleveland, Oh., Nassau County, NY, and many other cities and counties across the US have already had to lay off portions of their police forces due to budgetary shortfalls, and many others are considering having to do the same thing, which means crime will only increase.
October 20, 2011
By: David K. Randall
Stocks slid Thursday after reports that a meeting planned for the weekend between European leaders to fend off a credit crisis may be delayed.
The reports overshadowed an unexpected recovery in manufacturing in the Northeast.
Investors are concerned that differences between the leaders of Germany and France may hold up agreement on how to protect European banks from a likely default by the Greek government.
Officials from the 17 countries that share the euro are scheduled to meet at a summit Sunday to discuss ways to contain the damage. A messy default by Greece could to huge losses for European banks that hold Greek bonds. If that leads them to pull back on lending to each other, investors fear it could cause another freeze in global credit markets like the one in late 2008 after Lehman Brothers collapsed.
U.S. indexes had edged higher in early trading after the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia said regional manufacturing was “showing signs of recovery.” Its index of manufacturing, shipments and new orders was far better than economists had forecast.
Other economic reports were mixed. The Labor Department said new applications for unemployment benefits dropped to 403,000 last week, a sign that layoffs are easing. On the down side, sales of previously-occupied homes fell 3% last month from August.
Several large companies reported earnings before the market opened. Union Pacific, the nation’s largest railroad, surged after its earnings came in well ahead of analysts’ estimates. The company gained 5.3% after reporting that its income jumped 16%, more than analysts had forecast. It also said it expects the growth to continue.
Southwest Airlines rose 3.2% after reporting income that was a penny per share higher than analysts predicted. AT&T lost 1% after reporting that the number of new iPhones activated last quarter was the lowest in a year and a half.
The New York Times jumped 4% after the company reported higher profits than expected.
Microsoft will report earnings after the market closes.
In Europe, Germany’s DAX was down 2.5% while the CAC-40 in France fell 2.2%. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 1.4% lower.
Earlier, Asian stocks were pummeled, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index losing 1% to close at a two-week low of 8,682.15. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng slid 1.8% to 17,983.10 and South Korea’s Kospi tumbled 2.7% to 1,805.09.In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index fell 1.9% to 2,331.37 and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index plunged 2.9% to 974.86.
September 21, 2010
The New York Times
By: Peter Baker
Some of the critical players in President Obama’s national security team doubt his strategy in Afghanistan will succeed and have spent much of the last 20 months quarreling with one another over policy, personalities and turf, according to a new book.
The book, “Obama’s Wars,” by the journalist Bob Woodward, depicts an administration deeply torn over the war in Afghanistan even as the president agreed to triple troop levels there amid suspicion that he was being boxed in by the military. Mr. Obama’s top White House adviser on Afghanistan and his special envoy for the region are described as believing the strategy will not work.
The president concluded from the start that “I have two years with the public on this” and pressed advisers for ways to avoid a big escalation, the book says. “I want an exit strategy,” he implored at one meeting. Privately, he told Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to push his alternative strategy opposing a big troop buildup in meetings, and while Mr. Obama ultimately rejected it, he set a withdrawal timetable because, “I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”
But Mr. Biden is not the only one who harbors doubts about the strategy’s chances for success. Lt. Gen. Douglas E. Lute, the president’s Afghanistan adviser, is described as believing that the president’s review did not “add up” to the decision he made. Richard C. Holbrooke, the president’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, is quoted saying of the strategy that “it can’t work.”
Mr. Woodward, the longtime Washington Post reporter and editor, was granted extensive access to administration officials and documents for his account, including an interview with Mr. Obama. The New York Times obtained a copy of the book before its publication by Simon & Schuster, scheduled for next week. The White House had no comment on the book Tuesday night.
Although the internal divisions described have become public, the book suggests that they were even more intense and disparate than previously known and offers new details. Mr. Biden called Mr. Holbrooke “the most egotistical bastard I’ve ever met.” A variety of administration officials expressed scorn for James L. Jones, the retired Marine general who is national security adviser, while he referred to some of the president’s other aides as “the water bugs” or “the Politburo.”
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thought his vice chairman, Gen. James E. Cartwright, went behind his back, while General Cartwright dismissed Admiral Mullen because he wasn’t a war fighter. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates worried that General Jones would be succeeded by his deputy, Thomas E. Donilon, who would be a “disaster.”
Gen. David H. Petraeus, who was overall commander for the Middle East until becoming the Afghanistan commander this summer, told a senior aide that he disliked talking with David M. Axelrod, the president’s senior adviser, because he was “a complete spin doctor.” General Petraeus was effectively banned by the administration from the Sunday talk shows but worked private channels with Congress and the news media.
And the book recounts incidents in which Adm. Dennis C. Blair, then the national intelligence director, fought with Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, and John O. Brennan, the counterterrorism adviser.
During a daily intelligence briefing in May 2009, Mr. Blair warned the president that radicals with American and European passports were being trained in Pakistan to attack their homelands. Mr. Emanuel afterward chastised him, saying, “You’re just trying to put this on us so it’s not your fault.” Mr. Blair also skirmished with Mr. Brennan about a report on the failed airliner terrorist attack on Dec. 25. Mr. Obama later forced Mr. Blair out.
Beyond the internal battles, the book offers fresh disclosures on the nation’s continuing battle with terrorists. It reports that the C.I.A. has a 3,000-man “covert army” in Afghanistan called the Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams, or C.T.P.T., mostly Afghans who capture and kill Taliban fighters and seek support in tribal areas. Past news accounts have reported that the C.I.A. has a number of militias, including one trained on one of its compounds, but not the size of the covert army.
The book also reports that the United States has intelligence showing that manic-depression has been diagnosed in President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and that he was on medication, but adds no details. Mr. Karzai’s mood swings have been a challenge for the Obama administration.
As for Mr. Obama himself, the book describes a professorial president who assigned “homework” to advisers but bristled at what he saw as military commanders’ attempts to force him into a decision he was not yet comfortable with. Even after he agreed to send another 30,000 troops last winter, the Pentagon asked for another 4,500 “enablers” to support them.
The president lost his poise, according to the book. “I’m done doing this!” he erupted.
To ensure that the Pentagon did not reinterpret his decision, Mr. Obama dictated a six-page, single-space “terms sheet” explicitly laying out his troop order and its objectives, a document included in the book’s appendix.
Mr. Obama’s struggle with the decision comes through in a conversation with Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who asked if his deadline to begin withdrawal in July 2011 was firm. “I have to say that,” Mr. Obama replied. “I can’t let this be a war without end, and I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”
September 8, 2010
by Nile Gardiner
Democrats in Congress are no longer asking themselves whether this is going to be a bad election year for them and their party. They are asking whether it is going to be a disaster. The GOP pushed deep into Democratic-held territory over the summer, to the point where the party is well within range of picking up the 39 seats it would need to take control of the House. Overall, as many as 80 House seats could be at risk, and fewer than a dozen of these are held by Republicans.
Political handicappers now say it is conceivable that the Republicans could also win the 10 seats they need to take back the Senate. Not since 1930 has the House changed hands without the Senate following suit.
Is this a piece from National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal or Fox News.com, all major conservative news outlets in the United States? No. It’s a direct quote from yesterday’s Washington Post, usually viewed by conservatives as a flagship of the liberal establishment inside the Beltway. The fact The Post is reporting that not only could Republicans sweep the House of Representatives this November, but may even take the Senate as well, is a reflection of just how far the mainstream, overwhelmingly left-of-centre US media has moved in the last month towards acknowledging the scale of the crisis facing the White House.
To its credit, The Washington Post has generally been ahead of the curve compared to its main competitors such as The New York Times in reporting President Obama’s travails, but its striking front page coverage of the “Democrats’ plight” and talk of a possible GOP Senate win (regarded as fantasy just a fortnight ago) was a bold step for a publication that is probably read in every office of the Obama administration.
The Post also ran another headline yesterday on its front page – “Republicans making gains ahead of midterm elections” – which would undoubtedly have sent a shudder through the White House. It carried a new poll commissioned jointly with ABC News, which showed public faith in Barack Obama’s leadership has fallen to an all-time low, with just 46 percent approval. The Washington Post-ABC News survey revealed high levels of public unease with President Obama’s handling of the economy, with 57 percent of Americans disapproving, and 58 percent critical of his handling of the deficit.
For most of the year, America’s political and media elites, including the Obama team itself, have touted the notion of an economic recovery (which never materialised), significantly underestimated the rise of the Tea Party movement, and questioned the notion that conservatism was sweeping America. It is only now hitting home just how close Washington is to experiencing a political revolution in November that will fundamentally change the political landscape on Capitol Hill, with huge implications for the Obama presidency. What was once a perspective confined largely to Fox News, online conservative news sites, or talk radio is now gaining ground in the liberal US print media as well – historic change is coming to America, though not quite the version promised by Barack Obama.
April 21, 2010
A secret memo by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates urges Washington to consider the use of military force against Iran if diplomacy fails to scrap the country’s nuclear program.
In what seems to be a new twist in US efforts to tackle Iran’s enrichment activities, The New York Times reveals that a three-page memorandum, which has been circulating in Washington since January, has advocated military action against Tehran.
The classified memorandum, according to unnamed government officials quoted by the Times, warns that Washington lacks an effective policy in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program and should therefore come up with new options.
One senior official has said that the memo accuses Iran of weapons development and lays out a set of military alternatives to counter Iran’s progress in nuclear science and technology.
Some US officials, however, have played down the significance of the report, saying that the Obama administration has always “anticipated the full range of contingencies” against Iran.
“It is absolutely false that any memo touched off a reassessment of our options,” AP quoted National Security Council spokesman Benjamin Rhodes as saying.
“This administration has been planning for all contingencies regarding Iran for many months,” he added.
The memo has surfaced at a time when Washington is trying to garner support for a new set of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to give up uranium enrichment.
For years, Washington has accused Iran of having plans to build a secret nuclear weapons program “in the near future.”
Iran has rejected the accusations, saying that its nuclear program is intended for energy production, not weapons development.
April 1, 2010
The Washington Times
By: Jim McElhatton
President Obama’s nominee for U.S. Army general counsel, who pledges to investigate anyone leaking military secrets to the media, will receive at least $1 million in deferred compensation from the New York Times Co. even as he works for the government, records show.
Solomon B. Watson IV, former chief legal officer for the newspaper, is due the money through an executive payout plan that ends in 2015, according to a recent government ethics form.
Mr. Watson’s work as chief legal officer for the New York Times emerged as a key issue last week for several Republicans, who questioned his role when the newspaper published two articles based on highly classified military secrets in 2005 and 2006.
“I would take an aggressive action against anyone in the Department of the Army who leaks classified information,” Mr. Watson told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
According to a recent government ethics filing, Mr. Watson, who resigned as chief legal officer at the newspaper company in late 2006, expects six more payments from a New York Times Co. executive compensation plan, ending in 2015. His confirmation is pending.
The plan is valued at between $1 million and $5 million, records show.
Scott Amey, general counsel for the nonpartisan Project On Government Oversight, said if Mr. Watson is continuing to receive compensation from the newspaper company, the Army should “create a fire wall between Mr. Watson and the New York Times Co.”
The Army declined to comment on Mr. Watson’s financial ties to the newspaper company and referred questions to the White House. A phone message left at a New York number listed under Mr. Watson’s name was not returned.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told The Washington Times in an e-mail Wednesday that Mr. Watson “is recused from matters that have a direct and predictable effect on the financial interests of The New York Times.”
Because of his participation in the company’s deferred executive compensation and retirement and pension plans, Mr. Watson agreed to be recused unless he gets a written waiver or qualifies for a regulatory exemption, Mr. Vietor said.
“It is our understanding that Mr. Watson will be fully compliant with all ethics laws and able to perform the duties of his position with these recusals in place,” Mr. Vietor said.
March 12, 2010
The Raw Story
With The New York Times and Rupert Murdoch poised to start charging for newspapers online, media heavyweights sparred on Thursday over whether readers will pay for news on the Web.
The Times plans to require payment for full access to NYTimes.com in early 2011 and Murdoch, who already charges for The Wall Street Journal online, has pledged to begin charging Web readers of his other News Corp. newspapers.
Keynote speakers and panelists at the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Media Summit here differed sharply on whether Internet users would be ready to shell out money for what they have become accustomed to getting for free.
New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger said the time is right for his newspaper to start charging for its website and the move will provide a “critical” new revenue stream to add to print and online advertising revenue.
“There is an opportunity, I think, for us to gain a great deal of revenue from this paid model going forward,” Times Co. president and chief executive Janet Robinson said.
Merrill Brown, chief strategist for Journalism Online, said more than 1,300 publications around the world have expressed interest in the services offered by the company founded last year to help news outlets make money on the Web.
“Everyone of them is contemplating a paid strategy of one kind or another,” Brown said.
Readers will not pay for “commoditized headlines,” he said, “but they will pay for very specialized news.
“They will pay for deep coverage of their favorite sports teams, they will pay for content which only local newspapers have in their communities,” Brown said. “If (publishers) market it smartly to their most engaged users they have a chance to add at least incremental revenue.”
Brown said that although the data is “inadequate,” studies suggest that in the United States, over 20 percent of regular visitors to a particular news website may be willing to pay.
“That would be a pretty good thing at any large publication in the country,” he said.
Andrew Keen, author of “The Cult of the Amateur,” a book which takes a critical look at the impact of the Internet on culture, said the newspaper industry “shot itself in the foot” by not charging on the Web in the first place but has every right to do so now.
“We do need to fight the culture of free, the culture which suggests that large media companies or for that matter small media companies don’t have the right to charge for their content,” he said.
“Media companies if they choose can give their stuff away for free but they shouldn’t be vilified if they choose to build pay walls around it and sell it,” Keen said.
Michael Wolff, founder of news aggregator website Newser and the author of a book on Murdoch, said any attempt to make readers pay online is doomed to fail.
“We’re in a moment of destruction, transformation beyond all imagination,” Wolff said.
“Newspapers are going out of business, every big city newspaper will be out of business or will be owned by a rich man hobbyist within the foreseeable future,” he said.
“It’s not going to happen that The New York Times is going to successfully charge or that anyone else is going to successfully charge,” Wolff said.
“You’re not going to pay for news because it’s something you already get, it’s everywhere,” he said. “If you’re connected in any way the news comes to you.”
Richard Gingras, chief executive of online arts and culture magazine Salon, said media companies “clearly have to look for alternate revenue streams and not just rely on advertising” but expressed skepticism readers would be willing to open their wallets to get news online.
“They won’t pay for local news content, not in sufficient numbers,” he said. “It’s very hard to convince anyone that the value is such that they should pay to get it.”