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Wed, 27 Jan 2021
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Meet the New Media Monopoly

With Comcast's takeover of NBC, the era of the mega-mega-merger is upon us.

For more than a century, American law has recognized the destructive power of corporate monopolies. When one company controls an entire resource, means of production, or delivery system for products, it gets an unfair advantage over competitors. It can overcharge them out of existence or drive them into bankruptcy. Since Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, our government has tried to ensure that monopolistic business practices don't destroy fair pricing and consumer choice.

Then how can it justify the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, which the Federal Communications Commission approved on January 18? The FCC is supposed to reject any media merger that doesn't advance the public interest. But Comcast's takeover of NBC will give one mega-corporation control of too much of what we watch and how we watch it.

Bad Guys

US: Spill Commission Concludes Dispersants Are an Acceptable 'Tradeoff'

Nalco
© Unknown

If one were to judge by the amount of media attention and press recently the BP blowout at the Macondo site in the Gulf of Mexico nine months ago is a wrap. The report given to President Obama from the National Oil Spill Commission, which was completed on a very tight timeline, provides an overview of the spill and recommendations for ensuring such an incident does not happen again in the future. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, the report did not include or consider a sufficient amount of independent data regarding the short- and long-term impacts of the spill on the ecosystems, marine life, and human health. Independent studies on all aspects of the spill have been hampered by both a lack of funding and the withholding of critical data from researchers by government agencies and BP. Even as the report was released and commissioners holding forums and press briefings along the Gulf Coast, record amounts of crude continue to roll in with the tides. On Thursday, January 13, a record 17,000 lbs of crude was collected from the surf on one small section of beach in the Ft. Morgan area of Alabama.

From Louisiana to Florida, cleanup workers, ordinary citizens, and tourists have been sickened by exposure to the toxic crude and dispersants. In the areas where people live near or are surrounded by the Gulf waters, documented cases of sickness consistent with chemical poisoning related to crude and dispersants continue to increase; specifically southern Louisiana, the Ocean Springs area of Mississippi, and the Gulf Shores/Orange Beach resorts cities of Alabama. Despite medical tests showing high levels of chemical poisoning and physicians reports confirming widespread illnesses, the mainstream media has given only passing coverage to the health issues. The National Oil Spill Commission in its final report to the president likewise gives the health impacts only a passing mention despite the fact that it was a top-tier issue at every public forum the Commission held as Commissioner Frances Beinecke noted recently in New Orleans.

Eye 2

US military creating Manchurian candidates

During the 1950's the CIA and military conducted experiments on US soldiers in order to control their behavior and create Manchurian candidates. A group of the veterans are suing the CIA and the military over allegedly implanting remote control devices in their brains. The lawyer for the victims, Gordon P. Erspamer, says the CIA and military has barely cooperated with the case and they claim executive privilege and top secret classification in order to avoid discovery.


Whistle

GOP invokes 1700s doctrine in health care fight

Boise, Idaho - Republican lawmakers in nearly a dozen states are reaching into the dusty annals of American history to fight President Obama's health care overhaul.

They are introducing measures that hinge on "nullification," Thomas Jefferson's late 18th-century doctrine that purported to give states the ultimate say in constitutional matters.

GOP lawmakers introduced such a measure Wednesday in the Idaho House, and Alabama, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas and Wyoming are also talking about the idea.

The efforts are completely unconstitutional in the eyes of most legal scholars because the U.S. Constitution deems federal laws "the supreme law of the land." The Idaho attorney general has weighed in as well, branding nullification unconstitutional.

Arrow Down

Obama's Spaced Out Speech: State of the Union Ignores Communist Challenge in Space-Race Analogy

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President Obama's announcement on Tuesday that "this is our generation's Sputnik moment" came across as puzzling. Had al Qaeda sent a suicide bomber into space? But it turned out to be just a clumsy metaphor. The first Sputnik launch in October 1957 is a now distant event that no longer arouses passion. It would be as if someone described the Watergate scandal as that generation's Teapot Dome.

Nothing has happened recently that could be roughly analogous to Sputnik. The launch drew its shock value from the context of the Cold War, when the Soviet Union was America's bitter adversary. It had been less than a year since Nikita Khrushchev had said, "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side. We will bury you." In the 1950s the U.S. missile program suffered a series of high-profile failures and seemed to be failing. The Soviet program had its disasters too, but they were hushed up, so the success of Sputnik seemed to come out of nowhere. It seemed to confirm that their German scientists were far ahead of our German scientists.

The sense of national purpose that followed the Sputnik launch was not based on an abstract sense of the need for better education programs; it was a national security emergency. In those days lagging behind in the technology race could literally be fatal. Mr. Obama has failed to conjure the same sense of looming disaster, excepting the national state of alarm over his irresponsible deficit spending.

Mr. Obama said that the country needs to "reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race." In that respect one would think that the president would have invoked John F. Kennedy's May 25, 1961 "Special message to the Congress on urgent national needs," also known as the "Man on the Moon" speech, which was also delivered to a joint session of Congress. But the contrasts between the two addresses are greater than the comparisons. President Kennedy couched his objective of landing a man in the moon in terms of winning "the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny." He saw the space race as having critical impact "on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take." To JFK it was a critical competition between the free world and the communist bloc.

Wolf

Food speculation: 'People die from hunger while banks make a killing on food'

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© Katie Edwards

It's not just bad harvests and climate change - it's also speculators that are behind record prices. And it's the planet's poorest who pay

Just under three years ago, people in the village of Gumbi in western Malawi went unexpectedly hungry. Not like Europeans do if they miss a meal or two, but that deep, gnawing hunger that prevents sleep and dulls the senses when there has been no food for weeks.

Oddly, there had been no drought, the usual cause of malnutrition and hunger in southern Africa, and there was plenty of food in the markets. For no obvious reason the price of staple foods such as maize and rice nearly doubled in a few months. Unusually, too, there was no evidence that the local merchants were hoarding food. It was the same story in 100 other developing countries. There were food riots in more than 20 countries and governments had to ban food exports and subsidise staples heavily.

The explanation offered by the UN and food experts was that a "perfect storm" of natural and human factors had combined to hyper-inflate prices. US farmers, UN agencies said, had taken millions of acres of land out of production to grow biofuels for vehicles, oil and fertiliser prices had risen steeply, the Chinese were shifting to meat-eating from a vegetarian diet, and climate-change linked droughts were affecting major crop-growing areas. The UN said that an extra 75m people became malnourished because of the price rises.

Star of David

Israel Strikes Back

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© DeesIllustration.com
Timing is everything when waging war "by way of deception," the motto that has long guided Israeli war-planners. Whenever Israel's geopolitical goals are threatened, chaos is assured. In national security terminology, the January 24th bombing at Moscow's busiest airport was "out of theater repositioning."

First among Tel Aviv's priorities is their need to maintain traction for the latest geopolitical narrative: a "global war on terrorism" against "Islamo-fascism." The fact that America's two latest wars serve Israeli goals remains largely unmentioned in Western media.

Six days prior to the Moscow bombing, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev traveled to the West Bank to endorse a Palestinian state with its capital East Jerusalem. He pointedly noted "this was the first visit of a Russian president to Palestine not united with a visit to another country" (Israel).

Then he joined a fast-lengthening list of nations confirming that, to date, 109 of 192 United Nations member countries support a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.

Though the U.S. reliably vetoes Security Council resolutions at Israel's request, sentiments are shifting as a global public awakens to the costs of the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

Numerous Latin American nations recently extended recognition to Palestine. Ireland just announced an upgrade in its relationship to embassy status.

Target

'Afghan war targets Iran, China, Russia'

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© Unknown
Militancy continues to claim civilian lives in Afghanistan despite the presence of 150,000 soldiers.
The United States continues its presence in Afghanistan to pursue a regime change policy aimed at Iran, China and Russia, a US anti-war activist says.

"That is a strategy of regime change," going on in regard to Russia, China and Iran, Richard Becker from ANSWER Coalition said in an interview with Press TV on Wednesday.

"You can see that between those countries -- Russia, China and Iran -- is Afghanistan and its strategic importance is very great in what is the drive of the US foreign policy to bring about a regime change wherever a government is not compliant with the wishes of the US policy makers and leaders," he added.

He further argued, "The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been, since its beginning in 1949, an instrument of the United States. So, you have to ask the question "what is NATO doing in Afghanistan?" to begin with."

"Afghanistan is quite far from the Atlantic Ocean and it is serving as an expansion of the projections of US military power," Becker pointed out.

On Tuesday, NATO's Senior Civilian Representative in Afghanistan Mark Sedwill said the US-led forces would remain there far beyond 2014, despite the planned handover of security to Afghan forces.

Blackbox

US fury over UN expert's 9/11 'cover-up' claims

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© Unknown
The United States on Tuesday demanded the sacking of a UN human rights expert for "noxious" comments claiming there had been a US cover-up over the September 11 attacks.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the comments by Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, as "an affront" to the victims of the 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks on New York and Washington.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, called Falk's views "despicable and deeply offensive" and said she had registered a protest and called for his dismissal.

Falk wrote in his personal blog on January 11 that there are "awkward gaps and contradictions in the official explanations" given for the attacks when hijacked jets crashed into the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

He said there was "an apparent cover-up" by the US government over its knowledge of the attacks masterminded by Osama bin Laden.

Falk said mainstream US media had been "unwilling to acknowledge the well-evidenced doubts about the official version of the events: an Al-Qaeda operation with no foreknowledge by government officials."

The US ambassador said she was "appalled" and joined calls by other groups for his dismissal.

"Mr Falk endorses the slurs of conspiracy theorists who allege that the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were perpetrated and then covered up by the US government and media," she said in a statement.

War Whore

$170 Million Mock City Rises at Marine Base

Marines train
© Crystal Chatham / AP
Marines train at the new facility in Twentynine Palms, Calif., on Tuesday.
A mock city roughly the size of downtown San Diego has risen in a remote Southern California desert to train military forces to fight in urban environments.

The $170 million urban training center was unveiled Tuesday at the Twentynine Palms military base, 170 miles northeast of San Diego.

The 1,560-building facility will allow troops to practice and refine skills that can be used around the world, the Marine Corps said.

The military has been opening a slew of mock Afghan villages at bases across the country to prepare troops for battle before they are deployed.

The new training center is one of the largest and most elaborate.

Seven separate mock city districts spread across 274 acres of desert.