Tag Archives: Media Issues

Press Freedom Advocates Condemn ‘Reckless’ US Shutdown of Iranian News Sites

“These are not actions of good faith negotiators.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-22-2021

Attempts in the United States to access some websites owned by or linked to the Iranian government were met with this message on June 22, 2021. (Photo: screenshot)

Press freedom advocates fumed Tuesday as U.S. authorities without immediate explanation reportedly blocked stateside access to numerous news websites owned by or linked to the Iranian government.

An unnamed U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Associated Press that around three dozen websites were seized due to their alleged dissemination of “disinformation.” Continue reading

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Washington Post Publisher Says Biden DOJ ‘Intensified’ Trump-Era Attacks on Press Freedom

“The egregious acts by the outgoing Trump Justice Department, and the apparent doubling down on them during the Biden administration, should alarm all Americans, regardless of political persuasion.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-7-2021

The entrance to the Washington Post on 15th street Northwest DC. Photo: Dion Hinchcliffe/flickr/CC

In an opinion piece, the Washington Post‘s publisher on Sunday accused President Joe Biden’s Justice Department of exacerbating the Trump administration’s assault on press freedom and called for a “full accounting” of the Biden DOJ’s recent practices in order to prevent such a “brazen infringement of the First Amendment rights of all Americans” from happening again.

Recent reporting revealed that during the last days of then-President Donald Trump’s term, DOJ officials authorized subpoenas to secretly obtain the phone and email records of reporters at the PostCNN, and the New York Times. In the wake of the revelations, Biden last month condemned the unconstitutional actions taken by his predecessor’s Justice Department and vowed that his administration would protect the rights of journalists and, by extension, those of the public. Continue reading

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Israeli Bombs Destroy Gaza Media Center; AP, Al-Jazeera, Others Taken Out

Israel destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by Israel to silence reporting.

By Common Dreams  Published 5-15-2021

Photo: Evakatrina/Twitter

Israeli bombs destroyed a high-rise building in Gaza City that housed offices of The Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets on Saturday, the latest step by Israel to silence reporting from Gaza amid its military bombardment. The  Israeli air raid totally demolished the structure. Continue reading

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To achieve press freedom, we must rewrite journalism

It is time to liberate our media systems from the political and economic forces that have long subtly controlled them

By Dan Hind.  Published 4-30-2021 by openDemocracy

Monday will mark World Press Freedom Day. It’s a moment to celebrate the work that journalism does in holding power to account. It’s also a moment to raise awareness of the dangers facing journalists in many countries. At least 1,400 journalists have been killed for doing their job in the three decades since the first World Freedom Day in 1991. Many of those were killed by their own governments, or by organised crime groups linked to political elites. This year’s coverage will focus on this violence, and on the culture of fear it is intended to promote. And this is right and proper. As long as people can’t go to work without fear of violent retribution there is a pressing need to bear witness. Continue reading

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After 10 Years of Civil War in Syria, US (Quietly) Declares Defeat but Won’t Go Home

After a decade of bombing, invasions, exoduses and economic strife, it is clear that there are precious few winners in the Syrian Civil War — or from the rest of the Arab Spring, for that matter.

By Alan Macleod  Published 3-25-2021 by MintPress News

Montage of the Syrian Civil War. Photo: Collective, CC BY 1.0 via Wikimedia Commons

This March marks the 10-year anniversary of the Arab Spring and the protests that rocked Syria, which were a starting point for the ongoing civil war. That conflict has led to over half a million deaths and nearly 13 million people displaced, according to some estimates.

Now, after 10 years of attempts to topple the government of President Bashar al-Assad, it appears that many in the U.S. government and media are quietly conceding defeat. Continue reading

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Aurora Police Killed Without Consequence, Now Their Protestors Face 48 Years for “Kidnapping” Cops

The cops and the district attorneys want people to see what we are going through — the conditions of our arrests, our experiences in jail, and our legal battle — and to think that this is what you risk when you stand up against them. – Lillian House, Aurora Activist and Defendant

By Alan Macleod   Published 3-4-2021 by MintPress News

Lillian House, left, and Joel Northam. Courtesy | Lillian House

Elijah McClain would have turned 25 last week. However, in 2019, the introverted Black massage therapist was killed on the street by police in his native Aurora (a part of the Denver metropolitan area). None of the officers involved have faced charges for the incident. Yet the leaders of mass protests against the killing are now facing up to 48 years in prison on a host of charges they see as retaliation for standing up to police power.

Three activists — Lillian House, Joel Northam, and Eliza Lucero face a preliminary hearing on March 9. A fourth, Terrence Roberts, is also facing similar, though more minor charges. Continue reading

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Number of Journalists Murdered in Retaliation for Their Work More Than Doubled in 2020: Report

“The fact that murder is on the rise and the number of journalists imprisoned around the world hit a record is a clear demonstration that press freedom is under unprecedented assault.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-22-2020

Graphic: Committee to Protect Journalists

In what one leading advocate called “a failure by the international community,” the number of journalists murdered in retaliation for their work more than doubled in 2020, according to a report published Tuesday by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ’s annual report contains a database of 30 journalists who were killed in 15 countries during the course of the year. Of these, six died while working “dangerous assignments,” three were caught in the crossfire during the ongoing Syrian civil war, and 21 were murdered. Continue reading

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‘This Is Atrocious’: Congress Crams Language to Criminalize Online Streaming, Meme-Sharing Into 5,500-Page Omnibus Bill

“These types of decisions should never be made in closed-door negotiations between politicians and industry or rushed through as part of some must-pass spending package.”

By Kenny Stancil, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-21-2020

Photo: Frank Oppong/Twitter

Lawmakers in Congress are under fire from digital rights campaigners for embedding three controversial changes to online copyright and trademark laws into the must-pass $2.3 trillion legislative package—which includes a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill—that could receive floor votes in the House and Senate as early as Monday evening.

The punitive provisions crammed into the enormous bill (pdf), warned Evan Greer of the digital rights group Fight for the Future, “threaten ordinary Internet users with up to $30,000 in fines for engaging in everyday activity such as downloading an image and re-uploading it… [or] sharing memes.” Continue reading

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US Votes Against UN Resolution Condemning Nazis, Labels It “Russian Disinformation”

This is far from the first time the US has voted against similar resolutions; it has done so every year since 2014, dismissing them as Russian attempts to delegitimize the Ukrainian government.

By Alan Macleod. Published 12-18-2020 by MintPress News

Supporters of the ultra far-right Azov Battalion march in Kyiv on August 24, 2019. Photo: Goo3/Wikimedia Commons/CC

The United States and Ukraine were the only two nations to vote against a United Nations resolution Wednesday on, “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” The resolution passed 130-2.

The resolution featured 70 fairly bland statements condemning the crimes of Adolf Hitler, while also expressing concern at the rise of contemporary Neo-Nazi groups. Continue reading

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France’s New Security Law May Have Just Sparked a “George Floyd” Moment

Sparked by a new bill that would make publishing photos of police illegal and a viral video soon after that shows French police brutally beating a black man, it appears that France may be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment.

By Alan Macleod. Published 11-30-2020 by MintPress News

Screenshot: EuroNews

Award-winning Syrian photographer Ameer Alhalbi lies dazed on the ground. His head is heavily bruised and bandaged, blood covers his face, arms, and much of his body. Lengths of cotton wool have been stuffed up his broken nose, giving him an almost comical appearance. Alhalbi has been badly beaten by police. But this is not Syria, it is Paris, where he was covering — ironically — huge, nationwide protests against police brutality this weekend.

Perhaps even more concerning is that new laws pushed through by the government of Emmanuel Macron and passed by France’s National Assembly (akin to the U.S. House of Representatives) mean that sharing images of Alhalbi or other victims of police brutality might soon be considered illegal.

Article 24 of the country’s new national security bill, which now only needs to be ratified by the Senate, specifically outlaws the publishing and dissemination of images of police that undermine their physical or psychological “integrity,” and is punishable with a fine of up to €45,000 and up to one year in jail. The bill specifically states that filming police in such a manner would be against the law, but questions have been raised about how liberally authorities would interpret the nebulous language of the new edict. Media unions and human rights groups warn that it could prevent journalists from documenting police abuses.

The National Assembly’s decision to approve the law last week sparked large protests in many major cities around France, including Bordeaux, Lille, Montpellier, and Nantes. However, an incident caught on camera on Saturday threw large amounts of fuel on the fire of resentment, drastically increasing the demonstrations’ size and intensity.

Images from mobile phones and closed-circuit television showed an unprovoked police attack on a young black music producer at his place of work. A group of four officers can be seen chasing after Michel Zecler, following him from outside into his studio, where they kick, punch and beat him with truncheons. Zecler also alleges they shouted racial abuse while they assailed him.

Before the videos went viral on social media, the officers testified that Zecler had, in fact, attacked them, and was resisting arrest. The officers have now been charged with “deliberate violence” and with “falsifying statements.” Two of the gang of four, including a 44-year-old senior officer with the rank of brigadier, remain in custody, while two others have been released.

The viral images provoked a storm of condemnation across the country this weekend, and propelled as many as 500,000 people into the streets, with demonstrations in dozens of cities. Protestors marched through the streets, setting light to cars, damaging buildings, and clashing with police, of whom a reported 98 were injured nationwide. Many of Paris’ iconic boulevards resembled a war zone as thousands of demonstrators pitched battle with lines of police in riot gear.

President Macron said he was “very shocked” by the footage of the police attack on Zecler, yet continues to be a driving force behind the new security law, under which many have noted that the images might never have come to light, given as they essentially identify the Parisien officers and clearly undermine their integrity or authority. Without the footage, it is possible that Zecler would have been facing prosecution himself.

Although the bill and the protests against it are dominating French politics, the story has been covered sparsely in the American corporate press, with no coverage whatsoever in MSNBCCBS News, or CNBC. Fox News, meanwhile, reprinted one Associated Press article, featuring an egregious, uncorrected error in its subheadline, asserting that protestors were shooting tear gas at themselves.

While foreign desks have been seriously cut in recent years, huge demonstrations in central Paris should not have been too difficult to cover. Lebanese political commentator Sarah Abdallah suggested that if the rallies had been happening in countries antagonistic to the United States, they would have been front-page news. Certainly, similar protests in Iran and Hong Kong dominated the news cycles last year, prompting constant reaction from Mike Pompeo. The Secretary of State is yet to comment on the events in France, suggesting that they are not at the front and center of his thoughts.

President Macron came to power in 2017, winning in the final round of the election against far-right challenger Marine Le Pen. A strong believer in neoliberalism and an admirer of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, he has insisted that France must not merely be reformed, but transformed, and has attempted to radically alter the shape of French society, away from a social democratic model to one more resembling the United States. Almost immediately after gaining the presidency, however, his average approval rating tumbled and has not risen above 40% since.

Indeed, the 42-year-old former investment banker has faced almost constant resistance to his agenda from the general public. His attempts to increase the cost of fuel in 2018 sparked the Yellow Vest movement across the country. Meanwhile, his plans to raise the age of retirement and reform France’s pension system was met with a months-long general strike that paralyzed the country last winter. Despite losing over 50,000 people to the coronavirus pandemic, he has seen his popularity increase this year due to the government’s financial response to the virus, which included aid to small businesses and paying employees to stay home. Despite this, it appears possible that France might be headed for its own “George Floyd” moment, where its racial injustices are finally reckoned with.

This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 International License.

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