Category Archives: Media Issues

US Slides Down Annual Press Freedom Ranking, With Watchdog Calling Nation ‘Problematic’ for Reporters’ Rights

“Never before have U.S. journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-18-2019

The U.S. slid down a yearly list ranking press freedom in nations around the world, falling three places to number 48. (Image: Reporters Without Borders)

An annual accounting of press freedoms around the world describes an “intense climate of fear” in which reporters are being forced to work, calling out world leaders like U.S. President Donald Trump and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for their attacks on the media.

Trump’s repeated statements that journalists are “the enemy of the people” and his threats to roll back their right to report political news have been a contributing factor in the United States’ descent to 48th place in the Press Freedom Index, which was released Thursday by Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF). Continue reading

Share

Just Like Trump, Media Outlets Rarely Label Far-Right Attacks ‘Terrorism’: Study

A rare exception in the glaring trend came last month when New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was swift to characterize the massacre in Christchurch as the work of a white nationalist terrorist

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-10-2019

Governor Wolf Joins Pittsburgh in mourning after the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting. Photo: Governor Tom Wolf/flickr

A new study shows that media outlets frequently echo the instinct of political leaders like President Donald Trump when they refuse to label the violence of far-right assailants as “terrorism” while showing significantly less reluctance if an attack was carried out by an Islamic extremist.

The British media monitoring firm Signal AI found that most news sources are quick to draw links between incidents identified as “Islamist” attacks and terrorism, but are far less likely to do the same when an attack suspect is linked to far-right ideologies like white nationalism. Continue reading

Share

The Peach State or ‘Banana Republic’? Critics Howl Over Georgia GOP’s Proposal to Target Journalists With Secretive Ethics Panel

“It’s not the government’s role to tell journalists how to do their jobs. This bill is unnecessary state meddling with the press.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-4-2019

Georgia state Rep. Andy Welch proposed a bill that would establish a “journalism ethics board” in the state. (Photo: @andywelchga/Twitter)

Press freedom advocates on Thursday warned of dangers posed by a bill put forward by Republicans in Georgia that would create a journalism ethics board in the state and subject reporters to fines if they don’t comply with the new rules.

The so-called “Ethics in Journalism Act” (H.B. 734) would establish an “independent” ethics board with members from the journalism profession selected by the University of Georgia, which is run by the state. The board would create “canons of ethics,” set up a system for issuing and investigating complaints about journalists and news outlets, and issue advisory opinions on whether news organizations have violated laws. Continue reading

Share

US Government’s Refusal to Confirm or Deny It Put American Journalist on Drone Kill List Called ‘Chilling’

“The government seeks to shield itself from all inquiry into the process by which it acts as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 4-2-2019

A man walks past a graffiti, denouncing strikes by U.S. drones in Yemen, painted on a wall in Sanaa. Photo: DJANDYW.COM/flickr

Lawyers for an American journalist who believes he was placed on the government’s infamous “kill list” warned Tuesday that the rights of all U.S. citizens are at stake if the country’s drone assassination program is allowed to continue.

The organization’s comments came as part of a response to the U.S. government’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit regarding its use of the list. Reprieve is representing Bilal Abdul Kareem, a journalist and U.S. citizen who claims he was repeatedly targeted —and nearly killed on five separate occasions—by drone and missile attacks in 2016 when he was reporting on the ongoing conflict in Syria. Continue reading

Share

Syria’s Rukban Now Little More Than a US-Controlled Concentration Camp – and the Pentagon Won’t Let Refugees Leave

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a concentration camp is defined as “a place where large numbers of people are kept as prisoners in extremely bad conditions, especially for political reasons.” It is undeniable that the Rukban camp fits this definition to the letter.

By Whitney Webb. Published 3- 28-2019 by MintPress News

The residents of al-Rukban camp suffer from severe humanitarian conditions especially during the winter. There are no heating elements, which forces the children of the camp to build mud houses rather than tents to alleviate the cold weather and storms that hit the area. Photo: Syria Live Map

The United States military has rejected offers to resolve the growing humanitarian crisis in the Rukban refugee camp in Syria, which sits inside a 55 km zone occupied by the U.S. along the Syria-Jordan border. The U.S. has also refused to let any of the estimated 40,000 refugees — the majority of which are women and children — leave the camp voluntarily, even though children are dying in droves from lack of food, adequate shelter and medical care. The U.S. has also not provided humanitarian aid to the camp even though a U.S. military base is located just 20 km (12.4 miles) away.

The growing desperation inside the Rukban camp has received sparse media coverage, likely because of the U.S.’ control over the area in which the camp is located. The U.S. has been accused of refusing to let civilians leave the area — even though nearly all have expressed a desire to either return to Syrian government-held territory or seek refuge in neighboring countries such as Turkey — because the camp’s presence helps to justify the U.S.’ illegal occupation of the area. Continue reading

Share

Attorneys and Reporters Interrogated at Border About Political Beliefs In ‘Outrageous’ Violation of Rights

“This is intimidation and violates the Constitution.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-19-2019

U.S. Border Patrol Checkpoint, Tucson, Arizona, Screenshot: YouTube

Rights advocates are issuing fresh warnings of intimidation and repressive tactics in the wake of new reporting about U.S. border patrol agents detaining and interrogating journalists and immigration lawyers, including questions about their political beliefs.

NBC News reported Monday that at least one journalist and four immigration lawyers were stopped at Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations near the border in Texas and Arizona in an apparent attempt to identify individuals in the area who oppose the Trump administration. Continue reading

Share

‘One of the World’s Most Respected Intelligence Services’: Bolsonaro’s Bring-Your-Son-to-the-CIA Day

“This is the perfect symbol for Latin America’s far right, which has for decades drowned the left in blood thanks to the help of its CIA benefactor.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-18-2019

Jair Bolsonaro took office as president of Brazil in January. This week, he is in Washington, D.C. to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump. Photo: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil (CC BY 3.0 BR)

Nearly 55 years after the CIA backed a coup d’état that overthrew Brazil’s democratically-elected government, the nation’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro raised eyebrows on Monday with an unusual and unannounced trip to the spy agency’s U.S. headquarters.

Bolsonaro is officially in town to meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday, the Brazilian’s first bilateral meeting with a head of state since taking office in January. His visit to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia was revealed by his son, Eduardo Bolsonaro, in a tweet on Monday morning. Continue reading

Share

Demands That Trump End Economic War and Attempts at Regime Change at #HandsOffVenezuela March on Capitol Hill

“There is nobody in that White House or in this administration that cares at all for the Venezuelan people.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-16-2019

Americans warned against economic sanctions and a potential military intervention in Venezuela in Washington, D.C. on Saturday. (Photo: @ChuckModi1/Twitter)

Denouncing the “strangling” of the Venezuelan economy via sanctions and demanding the Trump administration allow the South American country to determine its own fate, pro-democracy protesters marched through Washington, D.C. on Saturday to demand, “Hands Off Venezuela!”

The demonstration came seven weeks after the Trump administration recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president, rebuking President Nicolas Maduro, who won re-election last May. Continue reading

Share

Saudi Women’s Rights Activists Receive ‘Freedom to Write’ Award as They Stand Trial in Riyadh

“These gutsy women have challenged one of the world’s most notoriously misogynist governments.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-14-2019

Eman Al-Nafjan and Loujain Al-Hathloul—along with Nouf Abdulaziz, not shown for privacy and safety reasons—are recipients of the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award. (Photo: PEN America)

Three women’s rights activists on trial in Saudi Arabia this week because of their efforts to expand human rights in the infamously oppressive kingdom are this year’s recipients of an award “designed to honor a writer imprisoned for his or her work.”

PEN America, which works to defend free expression globally through the advancement of literature and human rights, announced Thursday that imprisoned writers Nouf Abdulaziz, Loujain Al-Hathloul, and Eman Al-Nafjan will be honored with the 2019 PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write Award at the PEN America Literary Gala in May. Continue reading

Share

After Last Version Blocked, Iowa’s New Ag-Gag Bill ‘Gives Middle Finger to Free Speech, Consumer Protection, Food Safety, and Animal Welfare’

“Consumers have a right to know how their food is produced and how animals at factory farms are mistreated.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 3-13-2019

Iowa lawmakers just passed a new “ag-law” law that critics say, like the previous version struck down in federal court, is unconstitutional. (Photo: EPA)

Iowa’s GOP-controlled legislature on Tuesday rushed through a new legally questionable bill that critics say “aims to criminalize whistleblowing on factory farms and other agricultural facilities”—just two months after a federal court struck down a similar 2012 law as unconstitutional.

“Without undercover investigations, there are no effective watchdogs protecting animals from egregious cruelty,” Mercy For Animals president Leah Garcés told Common Dreams. “Consumers have a right to know how their food is produced and how animals at factory farms are mistreated.” Continue reading

Share