Category Archives: Economics

Reporters Call Foul on NRA Claim That Media “Loves” Mass Shootings

“Journalists are humans, not story-pursuing robots salivating for the death of young kids.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-23-2018

NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch, right, told CNN host Alisyn Camerota on Friday that the news media “loves” the ratings delivered by mass shootings—a remark that drew condemnation from journalists on social media. (Photo: @CNN/Twitter)

Journalists on social media pushed back on Friday against NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch’s claim that the news media “loves” mass shootings because they deliver ratings boosts.

“Many in legacy media love mass shootings. You guys love it,” Loesch said Thursday at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), addressing reporters in the back of the room. “Now I’m not saying that you love the tragedy. But I am saying that you love the ratings. Crying white mothers are ratings gold to you and many in the legacy media.”

Loesch’s comments echoed those made in a video released this week by the NRA, in which gun rights activist Colion Noir argued, “If there’s one organization in this country that has a vested interest in the perpetuation of mass tragedy, it’s the mainstream media.”

The former Blaze host doubled-down on her comments in a Friday morning interview on CNN with Alisyn Camerota, who told her, “You’re wrong on every single level,” and argued against her claim that shootings provide a ratings boost for news programs.

“Americans have reached saturation level,” said Camerota. “They’re so sick of it and it’s so heartbreaking that they actually often turn away.”

Many in the news media have pushed to refine how news stations cover mass shootings, urging journalists to focus less on the perpetrators of attacks. Much of the ongoing coverage of the shooting in Parkland, Florida last week has focused on efforts by survivors to achieve gun control legislation in order to prevent more shootings—a push that is strongly opposed by the NRA.

On social media, many reporters reminded Loesch and her supporters that journalists are members of their communities whose families are put at as much risk as any other American household by the prevalence of military-style semi-automatic firearms like the AR-15.

Others pointed to the emotional toll covering repeated mass killings—typically with little to no action by legislators in the wake of such attacks, to curb shootings—can take on journalists.

As Catherine Woodiwiss wrote at Sojourners last July, reporters’ prolonged exposure to violent and traumatic events including shootings can correspond with high levels of distress:

In 2014, a study of “frequent and prolonged exposure to deeply disturbing images” published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine found that the frequency with which a journalist watches violent content correlates with the journalist’s likelihood of having anxiety, depression, PTSD, or alcoholism.

The Radio Television Digital News Association also released a statement about the NRA’s new talking point.

“We are your neighbors. Your friends. We attend the same houses of worship. We go the same classes at the gym. Our children are in the same classes at school…We are deeply affected by tragedy. We are journalists and we do what we do because you have a need to know and understand the world around you.”

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In ‘Tremendous Victory for Taxpayers, Public Health, and Planet,’ Federal Court Rejects Trump Admin.’s Attempt to Suspend Methane Rule

The late Thursday ruling “once again sends a message to this administration that it will not get away with illegal handouts to industry”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-23-2018

A fracking well flare in Scott Township, Pennsylvania. (Photo: WCN 24/7/flickr/cc)

A court has once again rejected the Trump administration’s effort to suspend an Obama-era rule aimed at reducing releases of methane from oil and gas operations on federal and tribal land.

“The decision,” writes Meleah Geertsma, a senior attorney with NRDC, “once again sends a message to this administration that it will not get away with illegal handouts to industry, at the expense of Americans’ health and the environment.” Continue reading

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Rights Advocates Decry ‘Unconscionable’ State Dept Decision to Cut Women’s Rights From Annual Report

“This development is a transparent attempt by the Trump administration to not only de-prioritize reproductive rights, but effectively erase them from the broader conversation on human rights.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-22-2018

At the direction of a top State Department aide, the department’s annual human rights report will be stripped of language relating to women’s reproductive rights and discrimination. (Photo: Marc Nozell/Flickr/cc)

Human rights groups on Thursday denounced the State Department’s plans to re-frame its upcoming global human rights report, paring down its focus on women’s reproductive rights and discrimination—saying the decision is clear evidence that the rights of marginalized groups are insignificant to the Trump administration.

“Reproductive rights are human rights,” said Tarah Demant, Amnesty International USA’s director of gender, sexuality, and identity, in a statement. “This development is a transparent attempt by the Trump administration to not only de-prioritize reproductive rights, but effectively erase them from the broader conversation on human rights. We must not let this attack on basic rights go unchallenged.” Continue reading

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New Report Details How Americans Who Have Debt Held by Collection Agencies Can Get Thrown in Jail

New ACLU publication looks at how “debt collection industry uses prosecutors and judges as weapons against millions of Americans who can’t afford to pay their bills.”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-21-2018

“Consumers have little chance of justice when our courts take the debt collector’s side in almost every case—even to the point of ordering people jailed until they pay up,” says report author Jennifer Turner. (Photo: Bill Smith/flickr/cc)

Threatened with arrest for a case involving a few dollars in debt held by a collection agency?

This is not a science fiction, nor a scenario from the United States more than 185 years ago when debtors prisons were still allowed. Rather, it’s a part of the current justice system where, in states across the country, state courts and local prosecutors abet debt collectors in arresting and jailing some of the tens of millions of Americans who have debt held by private collection agencies.

The injustice is laid out in new report from the ACLU, “A Pound of Flesh: The Criminalization of Private Debt.” Continue reading

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Research Exposes $16 Billion Bottled Water Industry’s Predatory Marketing

The industry spends billions of dollars per year convincing Americans that bottled water is safer than tap—even though more than two-thirds of the product comes from municipal water sources

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-20-2018

Americans spend about $16 billion per year on bottled water—which comes largely from the same sources as tap water. (Photo: Raul Pachecho-Vega/Flickr/cc)

Bottled water companies have relied on predatory marketing practices and exorbitant lobbying efforts to sell Americans on the inaccurate belief that pre-packaged water is cleaner and safer than tap water—a notion that is costing U.S. households about $16 billion per year.

In a new report entitled “Take Back the Tap,” Food & Water Watch explains that 64 percent of bottled water comes from municipal tap water sources—meaning that Americans are often unknowingly paying for water that would otherwise be free or nearly free. Continue reading

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Instability Mounts in Puerto Rico Amid Privatization Efforts and Power Authority’s Cash Shortfall

“If this is not disaster economics and this is not setting the stage for commercialization of services that are there to promote equality, I don’t know what is.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-19-2018

Many rural areas in Puerto Rico remain without power, and San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said Monday that privatization has directly resulted in delays to restoration. (Photo: Western Area Power/Flickr/cc)

As nearly 250,000 Puerto Ricans remain without power five months after Hurricane Maria struck the island territory—the longest blackout in U.S. history—the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) said Sunday it will reduce its operating reserve to save money, as the island’s government moves toward privatizing the authority.

A federal judge denied PREPA a $1 billion loan over the weekend, saying the authority could not prove it needed the additional cash injection. The company will now reduce its reserve by 450 megawatts, saving $9 million per month but likely resulting in more power outages. Continue reading

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As Nation Suffers 18th School Shooting in 45 Days, Trump Budget Would Slash Funding for Background Checks

The president’s 2019 budget would cut allocations to enhance national database system by 16 percent

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-15-2018

Funding cuts for background checks in President Donald Trump’s new budget proposal would make it more difficult for states to compile criminal records of prospective gun owners. (Photo: Erik Jaeger/Flickr/cc)

As a Florida community reels from the nation’s latest mass shooting—the 18th school shooting in the first 45 days of 2018—President Donald Trump is pushing for a new federal budget that would call for cuts to programs that aim to keep guns out of the hands of people with criminal records.

The National Criminal Records History Improvement Program and the NICS Act Record Improvement Program provide funding to states to improve their reporting of domestic violence and other violent crimes in order to include perpetrators in the national background check database for gun purchases. Continue reading

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House Members Are Pushing a Bill That Will Roll Back the Rights of People With Disabilities

By Susan Mizner, Disability Counsel, ACLU. Published 2-13-2018

The entrance to the post office in a small town was up a flight of 20 steps. When told he needed to make the post office accessible to wheelchair users, the postmaster was befuddled. “I’ve been here for thirty-five years and in all that time I’ve yet to see a single customer come in here in a wheelchair,” he said, according to Joe Shapiro in his 1994 book, “No Pity.”

It would seem the postmaster didn’t see the irony in that response. But it’s because of that lack of awareness from business owners and government workers that Congress in 1990 passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which promoted the integration, acceptance, and everyday rights of people with disabilities. But this week, the House of Representatives could undermine a key tenet of that landmark civil rights law. Continue reading

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‘This Needs to Happen All Over America’: Applause for Candidate Who Called Out Big Oil Donors

“Why do we need campaign finance reform? This. This is why.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-12-2018

West Virginia House of Delegates candidate Lissa Lucas was hailed as a model for congressional candidates across the nation after she read off the names of politicians taking money from the oil and gas industry. (Photo: Facebook/Screengrab)

When West Virginia House of Delegates candidate Lissa Lucas decided to take a stand against Big Oil’s pernicious political influence last week by rattling off the names of state lawmakers receiving massive campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry, she was swiftly and forcefully silenced.

Now, her story—first reported by journalist Russell Mokhiber in a piece for Common Dreams on Sunday—has become a viral sensation and a model for those looking to challenge the stranglehold corporate cash has on the American political system.

Watch the video of the incident, which has since garnered over 133,000 views on Facebook: Continue reading

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Consumers are biggest losers of Trump’s ongoing war on regulations

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Some worry Mick Mulvaney is putting banks before consumers as head of the CFPB. Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Jeff Sovern, St. John’s University

President Donald Trump has been waging a war on regulation since he got into office on the ground that government red tape costs the economy billions of dollars a year.

Among the victors in this battle have been energy companies, banks and the president himself, who recently promised he’s “just getting started.” Perhaps the biggest losers, however, have been consumers.

The best illustration of this is the neutering of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which began immediately after Mick Mulvaney stepped in as interim director in November. Continue reading

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