A community in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, continues to mourn and protest the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot dead by the police on Saturday. The details of Brown’s death are still unfolding as witnesses come forward and the Justice Department pursues a federal investigation. But there is one fact we do know: Black and brown men experience a disproportionate amount of harassment, violence and killing by police. Brown’s killing occurred on the heels of Eric Garner’s death last month from a police chokehold and the police shooting of John Crawford III in an Ohio Walmart last week. And these are just the cases that have gained major media attention.
The killing of Michael Brown, who was slated to begin college this week, made Ferguson resident and protester Monica Timmons thankful that she isn’t a mother:
Let’s be real, you know? What do our sons got to look forward to? This? You want to bring a son to this? So he can get killed? No
Once again the ACLU points out a dichotomy presented by our times. And our President is caught between a rock and a hard place, largely of his own administrations making.
It’s not just the record breaking prosecutions of leakers. He is responsible for DOD policy that delineates what surplus equipment gets mothballed or distributed and why. His DOJ may need to be more proactive on police, the DOD and racial tensions and injustices. It’s not that I feel he should be excoriated, but I think we see a lot of room for improvement.
Addressing events in Ferguson, President Obama had some encouraging words last week that defended this country’s proud tradition of media freedom. “Here, in the United States of America,” he said, “police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people on what they see on the ground.”
But those strong words, a reflection of the foundational role of the media in our democracy, belie what has become a sustained attack by the government on press freedoms.
The Obama administration is the most aggressive in U.S. history when it comes to prosecuting journalists’ sources for disclosing unauthorized leaks. It has gone after the journalists, too. In just one example, it continues to pursue a Bush-era subpoena of James Risen, a New York Times journalist, to testify against a source accused of leaking information about CIA efforts to derail Iran’s nuclear program. In an effort to sever journalists from their sources, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper recently went so far as to sign a directive forbidding intelligence officials from talking to the press - even about unclassified matters - without securing permission in advance.
Widespread government surveillance, in addition to imperiling the privacy rights of millions of Americans, has also severely undermined the freedom of the press. A recent ACLU-Human Rights Watch report shows that many journalists have found information and sources increasingly hard to come by. To make matters more burdensome, they’ve had to resort to elaborate techniques to keep their communications secret. The result? We get less information about what our government is doing in our name.
Here’s the slapfight as it’s going down
In my humble view the FCC needs to set aside spectrum specifically for machine to machine communications (M2M) and the industry really needs to set some standards for use of those wavelengths. (Encryption, keys/certificates required, IPV6 with full certed Machine addresses only, protocols supported, etc. etc. - spoofing a machine to talk to another machine ought to be hard to nearly impossible, and traceable.)
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that wireless operators view spectrum as a scarce and precious commodity. That’s why there’s always dissension over who gets it and for what purposes.
The latest spat is between the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , over the FCC’s plan to sell wireless operators TV airways to free up the spectrum for 4G LTE next year. (See FCC Could Block Sprint/T-Mobile Spectrum JV.)
The NAB claims the FCC is hurting the business of those stations that don’t participate in the auction by reducing their coverage area anyway. The FCC’s rule allowing the change would cause viewership to shrink “after the FCC ‘repacks’ TV stations into a shrunken TV band,” the group writes, in a petition for review filed with the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.
When Jodi Rudoren, Jerusalem bureau chief of the New York Times, read Monday’s statement from the Foreign Press Association in Israel and the Palestinian territories, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
The association, representing some 480 resident correspondents and hundreds more visiting Israel/Palestine each year, protested “in the strongest terms the blatant, incessant, forceful and unorthodox methods employed by the Hamas authorities and their representatives against visiting international journalists in Gaza over the past month.”
The FPA said it knew of journalists who were “harassed, threatened or questioned over stories or information they have reported through their news media or by means of social media” and accused Hamas of “trying to put in place a ‘vetting’ procedure that would, in effect, allow for the blacklisting of specific journalists.”
“Every reporter I’ve met who was in Gaza during war says this Israeli/now FPA narrative of Hamas harassment is nonsense,” Rudoren tweeted, referring to Israeli accusations that Hamas pressure on foreign reporters had helped massage the messages coming out of Gaza in the last month.
Rudoren’s Tweet was followed by a furious email exchange with the FPA, in which Rudoren denounced the statement as “dangerous.”
Crispian Balmer, last year’s FPA chairman and former Jerusalem bureau chief for Reuters, told Haaretz the FPA was not in the habit of issuing such protests without very good reason.
“When I was on the FPA board, we took our statements very seriously,” said Crispian Balmer. “They were never written on a whim and were only issued after broad consultation - either face-to-face at a board meeting or via a stream of email exchanges. Our prime concern was always the well-being of the foreign press pack and we would not pull our punches if we thought our members needed vocal support. We would certainly never issue broad statements condemning the behavior of one side or the other if we did not feel that a good number of our members had been impacted.”
Even more intriguing, Rudoren’s deputy at the NYT, Isabel Kershner, was one of the FPA board members who approved the statement. How could two colleagues from the same newspaper observing the same sequence of events come to such different conclusions?
“I was not in Gaza during the height of the hostilities, I have only been here a week,” Rudoren told me. “But in conversations with many colleagues, those who were here from NYT and other major news organizations who I trust, I have not heard about harassment, intimidation, censorship or threats. There have been a few anecdotes re Hamas people shooing photographers away from fighters’ faces at the hospitals, asking people not to shoot this or that, and yes, names and phone numbers were taken down in a spiral notebook of who was here, but nothing that these veteran war correspondents consider unusual.”
“I am confident the FPA based its statement on detailed reports from members regarding their experiences on the ground, and only had the best intention of protecting journalists and journalism, as it always does. But I found the wording of the statement overly broad, and, especially given the narrative playing out in some social media circles regarding foreign correspondents being taken in by the Hamas narrative and not reporting on the war fully or fairly, I was concerned that it undermined what I consider to have been brave and excellent work by very talented people,” she said.
Rudoren wasn’t actually there. Her conclusions are based on talking to colleagues. But several other reporters who spoke to Haaretz agreed with her. British freelancer Harry Fear was reporting for Russia Today TV when he was asked to leave Gaza by three plainclothes Hamas officials at Al-Shifa Hospital, apparently for referring to rocket launches near his hotel. But Fear said he did not feel he had been subjected to intimidation or interference for the four weeks he reported from Gaza, where he has worked intermittently since 2012.
More at Haaretz, including THIS:
Some reporters received death threats. Sometimes, cameras were smashed. Reporters were prevented from filming anti-Hamas demonstrations where more than 20 Palestinians were shot dead by Hamas gunmen.
This is truly good news - the whole point of the GOP’s campaign for vouchers is to prop up private religious schools while sucking money out of public schools.
Wake county Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled Thursday that the program is unconstitutional on several levels.
Hobgood says the program pays for students to attend schools that are not obliged to meet state curriculum requirements, violating the state constitution’s guarantee for students to have an opportunity to a sound basic education.
Hobgood said it’s also unconstitutional for public funds to go to privately run and managed schools. At Cape Fear Academy the issue of vouchers hasn’t really been an issue.
The calm is welcome but the weekend might bring agitator tourists.
The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen nearly two weeks ago.
Police, who were widely criticized for using heavy-handed tactics to quell earlier protests over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, made only isolated arrests as local clergy and civic leaders worked to keep protests orderly.
In an apparent sign of easing tensions, Captain Ron Johnson, a black State Highway Patrol officer placed in command last week after the criticism of the local police, said a drawdown of National Guard troops would begin on Friday.
The Pushkin Square restaurant — a symbol of the thawing of the Cold War when it became the first McDonald’s in the Soviet Union, in 1990 — was one of four in Moscow that the Russian government ordered closed on Wednesday. The official reason given by Rospotrebnadzor, the country’s consumer protection agency, was “numerous violations of the sanitary code.”
Ms. Parmanova and other would-be customers did not buy it for a minute, insisting that the bitter conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine was to blame.
“It’s political,” she said. “If they really cared about people’s health, they wouldn’t have allowed it to open in the first place. It’s only because of a conflict between the presidents that it has been shut down.”
Maybe President Vladimir V. Putin doesn’t like hamburgers? “Putin doesn’t like Obama,” Ms. Parmanova shot back.
The sophistication, wealth and military might of Islamic State militants represent a major threat to the United States that may surpass that once posed by al Qaeda, U.S. military leaders said on Thursday.
“They are an imminent threat to every interest we have, whether it’s in Iraq or anywhere else,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters at the Pentagon.
Hagel’s assessment of Islamic State, which gained strength during Syria’s civil war and swept into northern Iraq earlier this summer, sounded a note of alarm several days after the group posted a video on social media showing one of its fighters beheading an American hostage kidnapped in Syria.
Google Search for Android has received an update that brings multilingual voice search capabilities. The Mountain View giant on Thursday announced the update, giving users the ability to add up to five languages as default language, compared to just one earlier, allowing them to give Google Now voice commands including search in multiple languages without switching.
The company made the announcement in blog post that stressed on the fact “For many people out there, speaking just one language isn’t enough” announced the news. Google, however, revealed that the multilingual voice search is only available with the latest Search app version 3.6, which was globally announced earlier this month and is still gradually rolling out. As of now, Google Play in India still lists the older updated version with the app last on August 12.
Earlier, while voice search was available in 50 languages, the user had to change settings every time before the Search app detected the spoken language. For using the latest feature, an Android user will have to tweak few settings, open Google Settings from device’s apps menu, tap Search and Now -> Voice -> Languages, and select languages.