All posts by Jack

What the Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You(and Why) Part 6: Your Privacy

Hello, again Insights,

The goal of Insight News is to report on stories that aren’t covered by the Mainstream Media. A story that caught my eye from Twitter and I have seen few people talking about it. And it concerns just about all of us. If you are reading this, it affects you.

The concern is over internet privacy. In October, the Federal Communications Commission released an order that protected internet users by preventing Internet Service Providers(ISP) from selling your browsing history to a third party. These ISPs are one of the many wealthy interests who has bought the government and bought legislation favoring them. Only 6 percent of Americans support the bill, disliked along party lines, unlike Congress, where it was largely a party-line vote.

On April 4, Donald Trump signed the bill into law, after the Senate and House of Representatives both recently passed the measure in Congress.

The significant result of the passage of this law is that your privacy is officially gone. The NSA and CIA have the abilities and have engaged in hacking smartphones and other electronics, but any third party can access your browsing history if your ISP sells it to them.

The Mainstream Media has been essentially silent on the whole matter. They are silent because they would benefit from this law at the expense of ordinary Americans. Comcast an internet provider owns NBC, MSNBC, two major news outlets. Time Warner owns CNN. Even other media outlets who don’t have direct ties to internet providers don’t talk about this or care about it because power benefits from this bill. Mainstream Media, or any media for that matter, should be covering this all the time, but we know that the Mainstream won’t talk about this.

Conflicts of Interest: The CIA and the Washington Post

Hello, again Insights.

The corporate media leaves out important issues and events. One that went through quietly was a $600 million contract between the CIA and the Washington Post in 2013. Keep in mind this: Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon who purchased the Washington Post for $250 million. The contract that Amazon will work on is on web services and cloud computing.

When someone or an agency such as the CIA gives an organization millions of dollars, they are expecting something in return. No doubt.  The CIA wants cloud computing among other things. This claim is proved through the “reporting” that the Washington Post has done in recent months. For example, the Russia election hacking story was broken by the Washington Post naming the secret CIA assessment but doesn’t give any substantial evidence. What makes matters even worse is that the Post has refused to disclose their ties to the CIA while reporting.  There is a petition that has gone around since late 2016 that would force the Washington Post to disclose its CIA ties while reporting on them. That’s the minimum what should happen. There shouldn’t be a contract between the media and government in the first place. The Mainstream Media won’t talk about this because it would hurt their bottom line. Another point that I would like to make is that the Washington Post’s new slogan is “Democracy Dies in Darkness” and they are engaged in this dilemma.

Stories like the Amazon-Washington Post/CIA  are the real outrage. It isn’t a Trump tweet or Russia election hacking or any other sensationalist stories that the corporate media pushes. As I have stated, there isn’t any evidence of Russia election interference. Yes, this happened four years ago, but a $600 million contract is worth much more than four years in this case. This is the same corruption that floods our politicians. There is no difference. I say this in every post, and I will hammer this until the cows come home, Independent media is the only way to get the real news. Wherever you are, read more and support independent media!

 

What the Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You(and Why) Part 5: Wikileaks Dumps and False Claims of Russian Election Tampering

Hello, again, Insights.

About two weeks ago, Wikileaks began releasing confidential documents of the CIA. The series has been called “Vault 7”. These documents show how the CIA has the capabilities to hack into smartphones, computers, and even televisions. Here is the link to the home of Vault 7. I encourage you to check it out.

Yes, there has been coverage on the Vault 7 dumps from mainstream networks. However, it isn’t a focus for the networks to cover it. We know why that isn’t a focus. The Mainstream Media operates on behalf of corporate interests, which isn’t exposing the truth.

There is no question that the America populous has the right to know what the government and corresponding agencies are doing. The Vault 7 leaks correspond to the likes of Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. They exposed vital information of the corruption by the United States government.

There has been a larger focus, however, on Russia, alleged ties to Trump, and the alleged election tampering, which is baseless. The CIA claimed this, as well where the media is running with it. The FBI agrees that Russia rigged the election to favor Trump.

Russia has been a focus in corporate and establishment circles since mid-July when they were accusations of hacking the DNC and then leaked emails and other documents to Wikileaks who published them. This is part of the so-called “election tampering.” They exposed information where the DNC colluded with Hillary Clinton from the beginning. After the leaks, many in the Democratic Establishment attempted to play the victim, but they didn’t have a good argument because they were clearly corrupt and were covering it.

Let’s get something straight: There have been many stories on what Russia allegedly did. The two biggest ones were the DNC leaks and election hacking. The latter claim muddies the waters and encourages sensationalism by the mainstream media.

These are baseless claims. The current Russia story is a textbook definition of McCarthyism which is making accusations without evidence. The corporate media won’t call anything out because they are a part of the corrupt system. Six major companies control 90 percent of the Media in the United States. The networks are Comcast, Time Warner, CBS, Newscorp, Viacom, and Disney.

Members of Congress, particularly Democrats, are pushing the Russia narratives. Just because the CIA says something is true, it doesn’t mean that it is true. The CIA doesn’t provide evidence. In January, US Intelligence released their declassified report on the alleged Russia election tampering. Read it for yourself with the link provided. From what I read, it is empty and vacuous and has no substantial evidence. There has not been ANY evidence given to support the claims of a Russia election hacking or them hacking the DNC. If there was evidence, I would present it to you.

As you all know, Congress is bought and controlled by wealthy special interests. Check out Open Secrets to see where the money is going. This is the reason why they don’t pass legislation, let alone discuss legislation that would benefit the American people. Republicans in the Senate broke the filibuster record under Obama, however having few legislative ideas of their own. The same applies to Democrats. Both parties have a similar message that is filled with vague, empty platitudes because they actually cater to Corporate America.

The United States, while technically a democracy, is effectively an oligarchy. Unsupported claims are riddled all over the mainstream press while ignoring the real issues. These reasons are why independent media is more important than ever.

What the Mainstream Media Won’t Tell You(and Why) Part 4: The Corporate Media in Conflict with Government

It’s been a long time since I have made a segment on this, and there have been a lot of news in the political universe. The major one was the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. The mainstream media has been at fault for its coverage. What isn’t the mainstream media telling you, though?

The Mainstream Media as we all know are corporate owned conglomerates, and there are only six major media companies in the U.S. These are Viacom, Time Warner, CBS, Newscorp, Comcast, and Disney. The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which deregulated the industry and allowed for mass mergers to occur easier, creating the current media system.

In an ideal world, the media would be the watchdog of the government and those in power. However, we know that the media is corporate-owned, and thus represent corporate interests.

During the Primary, then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was unhappy with the coverage Hillary Clinton, the choice for the DNC and the Democratic Establishment on several channels, Particularly Morning Joe on MSNBC. She contacted MSNBC President Phil Griffin as Emails shown from the DNC leaks this summer.

A similar story between power and the media has been brewing. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and top adviser held a meeting with executive VP of Time Warner  Gary Ginsberg where he critiqued CNN’s coverage of Trump.

Disclaimer: Time Warner owns CNN, so Kushner was doing what Wasserman Schultz was doing when she contacted Phil Griffin about alleged negative coverage.

These are just two prime examples of media and government interfering with each other.  In these examples, power is telling the media what to do so they are placed in a favorable light. This is a direct conflict with freedom of the press. Freedom of the press is in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. However, the United States runs as an oligarchy as a Princeton study found out. The study collected over 20 years of data and found virtually no correlation between public opinion and policy. However, the top 10% saw some significant correlation. The Mainstream Media is, as we have said, six companies and represents the corporate interests. The “Big 3” of Cable News, CNN(owned by Time Warner), Fox News(owned by Newscorp) and MSNBC(owned by GE) are all owned by a major media company, and thus the talking points of the establishment are conveyed. The other large networks such as ABC, CBS, and NBC are all part of the “Big 6” of the Media.

Here are some examples of topics covered to stray away from the main issues.

  • Propaganda based on little or no evidence:  An example is Russia. Russia is accused of interfering with the election to help Donald Trump win. The CIA came out and said it was true, and as a result, the media and many figures in government are running with the story. The issue is that there hasn’t been sufficient evidence to prove the claim of the CIA. In conjunction with the CIA, the FBI are in agreement that Russia rigged the election to favor Trump. The Washington Post first reported about the Secret CIA Assessment back in December. While reading through the articles, there was no substantial evidence given. U.S. intelligence has repeatedly stated that Russia had a role in undermining the election, but they need evidence to back it up. To be fair, some of the Russia talks is justified such as calling for an investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia. That is better that saying something is true without backing it up. That is similar to McCarthyism, which is making accusations or assertions without evidence to back it up. The term coincidentally rose during the Second Red Scare of the Soviet Union.
  • Tweets by Trump: Some tweets by Trump or other figures can be newsworthy, but they are a constant focus, and it seems like a daily affair, if not a few times per week across almost all of the Mainstream Networks.
  •  Debates over wedge topics and/or settled topics: Topics such as abortion, same-sex marriage, or climate science: These topics are non-issues or settled.
  • Identity politics: The two-party system has led to two different sides: Democrat and Republican. The topic of political polarization is one of the most common themes heard from mass media networks, particularly on cable news networks. Votes in Congress such as those on cabinet selections which are largely along party lines are overmagnified.

Independent media is more important than ever. Polls consistently show distrust in mass media, and we can see why. Viewership of television news is down, largely due to the mistrust by the people. Please tune out the mainstream networks and support independent media that is publicly financed, unlike corporate networks. By nature, whoever is funding a project, a politician, or an organization will represent who donates to them.

Transition to the Trump Administration

Hello, again, Insights.

I have had many things on my mind concerning this blog, especially after Trump won the Presidency. One of them was focusing on the Transition of power, including Trump’s advisers and cabinet selections, but it became too time-consuming. The thing is that Trump is the new President and there are a lot of real issues that need to be dealt with. Many have expressed concerns due to his blunt, divisive rhetoric. His competentness has also been questioned.

The Trump Administration has gotten off to a rocky start. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign over contacts with the Russia Ambassador concerning U.S. sanctions on Russia. Flynn had lied about the situation, prompting his resignation. However, this situation is far from over. There have been bipartisan efforts to call for an investigation into the situation with Flynn and whether or not Trump or anyone else knew something about it.

A campaign promise Trump made was to “drain the swamp.” That means getting rid of corruption in the political system, particularly in Washington. Unfortunately, Trump has failed to meet that. This is shown through his cabinet selections among other things.

Betsy DeVos is now the Education Secretary after a 51-50 vote. Vice President and Senate President Mike Pence voted for DeVos in a tiebreaker vote that was along party lines. She has been a vocal advocate for charter schools and school choice and has been an outspoken opponent of Public Education and effectively bought her way to the position. 23 senators who voted for her received campaign contributions of at least $1,000 and as many as $98,300 from the DeVos family. Noted that they are not just from Betsy DeVos, but the DeVos family wants something in return for their donations to campaigns and SuperPACs(which we have found out that they are not really ‘independent’ of the campaign.)

Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, as well as Goldman Sachs President Steve Mnuchin, were confirmed to the position of Attorney General and Treasury Secretary, respectively. This is what I mean by the concept of principle and objectiveness. Mnuchin was the President of Goldman Sachs, one of the largest banks in America, and in fact the world. In fact, Goldman Sachs had to pay out $5.1 billion as a result of fraud. Things need to be called out when necessary, as well as credit should be given when due.

Sessions has concerns of concerns on civil rights enforcement, among other thingsHe was denied a federal judgeship partly because of this. As the U.S. Attorney General, he could change progress at the state level, such as marijuana legalization. He would also be responsible or prosecuting federal hate crimes, which could be a concern. Additionally, his hard-line stance on immigration boasts another issue, as this could affect many immigrants.

Labor Nominee Andrew Puzder, who had as of this week, withdrew from the nomination process due to concerns that he could be confirmed, which partly goes back to him owing millions to Swiss bank UBS.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt was confirmed today by the Senate to head the Environmental Protection Agency, but there are many concerns regarding him. As Oklahoma AG, he sued the agency 13 times and has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Fossil Fuel interests. As you can see from the profile of Oklahoma Strong Leadership PAC, a SuperPAC affiliated with Pruitt, many fossil fuel companies, as well as wealthy individuals from many similar special interests donated to the PAC.

The United States, although considered a democracy, doesn’t operate as one. A Princeton study proved this; America is effectively an oligarchy. A common theme that I have expressed is the issue of money in the political system. Campaign finance Supreme Court cases ranging from Buckley v. Valeo to Citizens United v. FEC have had disastrous effects on our so-called democracy.

The economy is another broad issue always on the minds of the citizens. When Barack Obama took office, we were in the middle of the Great Recession. The big banks had failed. They were too big to fail, causing a worldwide financial crisis. The banks just got bigger. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 1999 deregulated the financial industry, and a key provision in the bill dismantled Glass-Steagall, a banking Act passed in the wake of the Great Depression. Basically, Glass-Steagall was a bill that placed a firewall on speculation. Commercial and Investment banking were separated.

 

The surface is just scratched here. More will follow.

#NoDAPL- The Latest and Why the Mainstream Media Rarely Covers It

Over the past few months, the Dakota Access Pipeline protests have been very significant. An earlier post detailed the facts and the dangers of the protests itself. Typically non-violent protesters have been violently attacked by police forces.

Last weekend, even though it was in the mid-20s, Police used water cannons on protesters, and they defended it, many people went to the hospital because they got hypothermia.

The major issue is that there is a near-media blackout by the mainstream outlets. There has virtually nothing done about the DAPL violence against protesters. Real, objective facts need to be given by these outlets, and not just from independent media sources who have done an excellent job covering the protests. To get a quick background, click here to see the earlier post on the DAPL.

To summarize the facts beyond the violent attacks, the pipeline itself is going through Native American land according to The Treaty of Fort Laramie, signed in 1851. Some sacred Native American burial grounds have been, and not could be bulldozed over, and the oil pipeline can result in a contaminated water supply. Additionally, unlike what Energy Transfers is saying, much of the oil is likely to be exported whereas Energy Transfers states that the oil will be 100 percent domestically consumed.

The DAPL protests have led to dozens of human rights violations and the United States government hasn’t done anything to help it. Don’t listen when politicians say we care about humanitarian causes and altruism. On some cases, that may be true, but we neglect domestic abuses, and then we get ourselves into offensive wars as well as funding our allies who also commit human rights violations. We have to stand up. Change comes from the bottom up, as we have seen a little with the rise of Bernie Sanders. We have to continue that in larger quantities to truly create the change we need.

Colombia and FARC Deal Rejected and Brief History

Recently, the President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos signed a peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia(known as FARC, the Spanish acronym), but the Colombian citizens needed to approve it before the deal went through. However, the measure failed by less than a half of a point a couple of weeks ago. Reports show that voter turnout was below 40 percent, which didn’t appear to be surprising considering what was on the ballot. Now most people have no clue who the FARC are. Here’s a brief history of them and their relationship with the Colombian government.

The FARC are a long-standing rebel group that formed in 1964. Their ideology is considered to be that of a Marxist-Leninist Communist one. In fact, a member of the Colombian Communist Party founded FARC. Colombia is known for drug trafficking, such as cocaine. In the mid-1970s and through the 1980s, FARC began smuggling cocaine and other drugs to fund their operations. In fact, at one point, roughly 60 percent of drug trading was controlled by FARC.

Over the last four years, the Colombian government and FARC have negotiated the peace deal. Despite some bumps in the road, such as an FARC kidnapping of an army general, the two sides agreed to a deal.

Throughout its history, and especially since the early 20th century, Colombia has had massive wealth inequality, and it’s just getting worseIn fact, Colombia is one of the ten most unequal countries in the world. The issue is a factor into the creation of FARC. The peace deal could still eventually be put into effect, but it will take time and renegotiations.

Vice Presidential Debate Preview and Why It Will Be a Disaster

Tomorrow will be the only Vice Presidential Debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine. If you had seen my last post, I wrote about how the Presidential Debates are a failure because of the parties and the media. Just because it’s a vice presidential debate, it doesn’t mean that there will be significant improvements from the Presidential Debate.

Here are just a few suggestions for a real debate.

  1. Fact-checking: This shouldn’t be something that should be debated. The candidates have to be held accountable for inaccurate statements. There should be one or two real-time fact checkers at the debate.
  2.  Questions on corruption: American politics is becoming increasingly corrupt, and money in the political system is hindering our democracy.
  3.  Questions on climate change: Carbon in the atmosphere is over 400 parts per million, and according to researchers it has reached 400 parts per million for the indefinite future.
  4.  Questions on Poverty: Almost absent from the first debate even though close to 75% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.
  5. Questions on Racial Issues: Issues such as police brutality have been in the limelight and African-Americans have been disproportionately shot by police as an example.

Unfortunately, this won’t happen because the Mainstream Media isn’t focusing on all the real issues and policy substance as Harvard studies found out throughout the election cycle, from the invisible primary through the primary itself.

Presidential Debates and How the Media is Ruining the Country

The first Presidential Debate was a few nights ago and unfortunately met expectations. Although the debate lasted an hour and a half, several key topics had no discussion time. Some undiscussed topics included poverty, climate change, immigration, and healthcare.

A recent Harvard study showed that on Mainstream outlets such as ABC, NBC, CNN, and Fox, policy discussion was nearly absent from the coverage. The horserace aspect of the election is what the mainstream media overwhelmingly covers. One major issue is poverty, and a 2013 report showed that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Something that big should receive coverage, but the media sees things through a different lens than the average American. The Mainstream Media is often referred to as the Corporate Media due to corporate ties, which influences their reporting. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated the industry, allowing several companies to merge. There used to be around 50 major media companies; Today, that number is at six.

The United States has a rigged debate system. Third-party candidates are rising in the polls, but it’s not enough. They need to reach at least 15 percent in at least five national polls to qualify for the debates. In August, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit allowing for third parties to participate in the Presidential debates. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein of the Libertarian and Green parties respectively are the main third-party candidates.

One “dilemma” that moderators have is should they fact check the candidates? The answer is yes. The American people have the right to know what the candidates say is accurate or not. Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who will moderate a later debate, was interviewed by Howard Kurtz about his debate strategy. One of the questions that came up was about if a candidate says something that he knows to be false; he responded that his role is not to be a truth squad. The director of the Presidential Debate Commission also appears to agree with the strategy of not fact-checking. The media now has a “neutrality” bias, giving both sides of a particular issue equal say even though one side could be completely right and the other completely wrong.

This problem has risen over the years. In one of the 2012 Presidential debates, CNN moderator Candy Crowley fact-checked Mitt Romney on Benghazi. Republicans accuse the media of having a liberal bias, but that is false. The reason behind that claim is that corrupt corporations control the media.

The media continues to be a colossal failure because of their lack of policy substance horserace aspect of things dominates the coverage.

Dakota Access Pipeline: Facts and Why it is Dangerous

Over the past few months, the Dakota Access Pipeline has been under debate. In 2014, Energy Transfer Partners and Dakota Acess announced that they had been approved to build a pipeline from North Dakota to Illinois. The cost of the pipeline is estimated to be around $3.8 billion. Several protests have occurred, led by the Dakota and Standing Rock Sioux tribes. The proposed route would cut through their territory in North Dakota and South Dakota.

Where is the DAPL Route?

route
Source: Energy Transfer Partners(Who is developing the pipeline)

As you can see, it starts off in Northwestern North Dakota in the Bakken region, which is the home of the Dakota tribe. It will travel through four states; North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. Estimates show that the pipeline can transport 470,000 to 570,000 barrels of oil per day should the pipeline go through. The state of North Dakota has produced over 1 million barrels of oil per day on average since April of 2014. Energy Transfer and Dakota Access claim that the pipeline is a safer method of transporting oil than from trucks and rails. A notable incident from transporting oil was the fairly recent one in Quebec in July of 2013.

 

Part 1: Basic Info

Proponents of the pipeline as well as the Keystone XL pipeline attempt to persuade people to join their side by claiming it lead will to energy independence. When asked on this, Energy Transfer Partners, were unable to give a clear answer. Reports show that the oil is likely to be exported. Lee Fang of The Intercept reports that Energy Transfers is primed to cash in on oil exports. In December, Congress lifted a 40-year ban on crude oil exports, as part of an omnibus bill. Look at the facts here: If there is no embargo on oil exports, then, of course, there will be oil exports. Do you think that Energy Transfers wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to export oil?

Also, oil is a non-renewable dirty source for energy. Even if this oil from North Dakota is even used for consumption, it is fueling the human activity led climate change.

During the construction process, Dakota Access and Energy Transfer Partners claim that the number of jobs created will be around 8,000-12,000. These construction jobs aren’t permanent, obviously. They also state that it could raise $50 million from property taxes and $74 million in state sales taxes across North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. That is a positive, at the expense of the environment.

Part 2: Why is it incorrect?

The Dakota Access Pipeline is wrong for several reasons. The pipeline goes right through the Dakota and Sioux tribes who have vehemently opposed it along with countless other supporters. In fact, the United Nations supports the Dakota and Standing Rock Sioux tribes in opposing the pipeline.

Additionally, the pipeline could contaminate drinking water. Much of the Midwest receives its drinking water through the Missouri River, including the Sioux Tribe, which has been a major catalyst in this battle. Although under the fact sheet subsection titled “Construction and the Land” state that a minimum of 36 inches of soil must cover the pipeline, oil pipelines are prone to leaks. Studies show that fracking leads to contaminated water. People who deny this are denying the truth. We know that there is massive corruption here. Oil companies and notable proponents, including politicians, are definitely in it together. Many politicians take money from big oil companies, who in turn will do their bidding. The site Open Secrets tracks money in politics. Here is a list of major oil and gas companies who have given to politicians in the U.S. Congress. The oil industry is one of the world’s most profitable industries, and it shows in lobbying expenses alone. In each of the last eight years, oil and gas companies have spent over $100 million annually in lobbying expenses also according to Open Secrets.

To see Energy Transfer Partners Open Secrets profile, click here.

 

Image result for missouri river
Source: source.sdsu.edu

 

 

 

Here, we see the map of the Missouri River. There is a significant amount of overlapping, which means a lot of the pipeline will be below the Missouri, which solidifies the point of clean water risk with the pipeline.

Part 3: Violence Against Protestors:

Over the recent weeks, there have been an increasing amount of process. Last week, security officials and dogs were brought in and attacked several people. Also, pepper spray has been used on protestors as well. Here is a clip from the protests. These protestors are peacefully protesting, which is a fundamental right established in the First Amendment of the Constitution. Repeated violence against protestors is in clear violation of freedom of assembly. There haven’t been reports of protestors being violent, then came the attacks. This is happening because Energy Transfer Partners and Dakota Access despise these protests because it’s hindering construction and their profits.

Part 4: Funding:
The pipeline’s cost estimates to be around $3.8 billion dollars for the entire project. With this, several major financial institutions have been financing the project. Some include HSBC, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, UBS, JPMorganChase and Wells Fargo to name a few. It’s really no surprise that these institutions back these big name projects. The elite is all interconnected. Oil companies, banks, and other corporations all work together to keep the system as it is alive. The system as it is needs to stop

Part 5: Recent ruling and Executive Action

A federal judge recently ruled against halting the construction of the pipeline except in an area sacred to the Dakota tribe, but the Obama Administration stepped in to halt the DAPL’s construction temporarily. Even with this good news, there is still a lot of fight left to end the DAPL in its entirety.