Friday night, on “Real Time with Real Maher,” host Bill Maher welcomed veteran newsman Dan Rather, long-time anchor of “The CBS Evening News.” Rather is the author of a new book, calledRather Outspoken.
Rather’s career as a news anchor was brought to an abrupt and ignominious end in 2004 when he and his organization acted on evidence they had that then-President George W. Bush’s had gone AWOL from his tour of duty as an Alabama Air National Guardsman during the Vietnam War.Subsequent investigation has borne out the charges, but Rather’s days as a major network anchor were over.
Rather stands by the story and his laments CBS’s decision to prioritize political concerns over editorial ones. During his appearance on “Real Time,” he discussed how in a media environment owned by a handful of giant corporations, the news has become “politicized” and “trivialized.” The only interests that get served are those of the corporations, he said, not those of the journalists trying to report the news, and certainly not the interests of the audience watching at home.
An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill, BuzzFeed has learned.
The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the independent Broadcasting Board of Governors, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.
The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts—the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987—that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.
The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.
In a little noticed press release earlier in the week — buried beneath the other high-profile issues in the $642 billion defense bill, including indefinite detention and a prohibition on gay marriage at military installations — Thornberry warned that in the Internet age, the current law “ties the hands of America’s diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way.”
The bill’s supporters say the informational material used overseas to influence foreign audiences is too good to not use at home, and that new techniques are needed to help fight Al-Qaeda, a borderless enemy whose own propaganda reaches Americans online.
Critics of the bill say there are ways to keep America safe without turning the massive information operations apparatus within the federal government against American citizens.
“Clearly there are ways to modernize for the information age without wiping out the distinction between domestic and foreign audiences,” says Michael Shank, Vice President at the Institute for Economics and Peace in Washington D.C. “That Reps Adam Smith and Mac Thornberry want to roll back protections put in place by previously-serving Senators – who, in their wisdom, ensured limits to taxpayer–funded propaganda promulgated by the US government – is disconcerting and dangerous.”
When reaching out to Alberta oil sands companies before a trip to Canada last month, I thought all of them mined oil the same way — they don’t.
The open mining most people think of when they picture the oil sands is just one way of extracting crude from the ground, but it is without a doubt the most dramatic. And we had to see it.
After being refused a mine tour and any type of access to a mining site or equipment, Business Insider rented a plane that I used to see everything I could of the mines on my own.
Restricted to flying no lower than 1,000 feet above the ground, I spent nearly two hours leaning out the window of a small Cessna 172 with a long lens, snapping pictures and trying to keep warm.
The oil sands hold up to two trillion barrels of oil spread over more than 54,000 square miles, making it the second largest oil deposit in the world after Saudi Arabia.
The amount of energy spent recovering that oil and the pollution created in refining it is immense and the impact on the environment profound.
Limiting that impact is important as oil companies are required by law to return the land to its original condition when they’re done mining, but the amount of time required to do that has long been criticized.
Today’s environmental focus at the mining companies is figuring out how to get the land back to its original state more quickly and efficiently.
And that is something that everyone who lives and works near the oil sands would be happy to see.
It used to be that people would come to work the mines for a couple of years and go back where they came from, but that is changing as people put down roots and raise their children and grandchildren.
About 140,000 people are involved in working the oil sands, with 100,000 more jobs expected in the next five years.
So, no matter how you feel about the oil sands or the burning of all that oil, you can be sure that as long as there’s a market for it and people need jobs, the oil companies aren’t going anywhere.
A sincere thanks to former oil sands worker Mike Pearson whose experience and insight proved invaluable on this assignment. Thanks Mike, I’d have never known where to buy that hard hat and reflective vest without you.
Still coming up in our Alberta oil sands series will be an inside look at the local lumber mill and timber industry, an interview with Greenpeace who shut a mine down in 2009, and a tour of the Syncrude research facility in Edmonton, and a tour of Fort McMurray.
Adam Singer points us to a silly and vapid op-ed piece from CNN written by Chelsea Clinton (daughter of Bill) and James Steyer (founder, boss of Common Sense Media, an operation that has done some good, but lately is getting the reputation of being anti-internet) entitled is the Internet hurting children? Just the fact that it would lead with such a ridiculous question gives you an idea of how problematic the entire piece is. It’s written as if they haven’t been aware that such a “debate” has gone on for ages. Take this, for example:
We urgently need a public conversation in our country among key stakeholders: parents, educators, technology innovators, policymakers and young people themselves. The dialogue must focus on the ways social media and technology enable our kids to give up their privacy before they fully understand what privacy is and why it’s important to all of us. We should also discuss how social media can help empower kids to find their voice, find their purpose and potentially create the next technology revolution.
All adults know that the teen years are a critical time for identity exploration and experimentation. Yet this important developmental phase can be dramatically twisted when that identity experimentation, however personal and private, appears permanently on one’s digital record for all to see.
Every few months, we see basically the same announcement from some somber-looking-concerned-person-of-importance who seems to feel they just discovered the internet. Suddenly, this person realizes that, you know what, not everything on the internet is appropriate for children, and then, suddenly, “we need to have a conversation.” You know what? That conversation has been going on for ages, and there’s tons of great research being done already. Don’t ask for a conversation in a silly paternalistic tone. How about you go talk to researchers like Danah Boyd, who has done some really fantastic work in the space that involves (*gasp*!) actually going and talking to kids and seeing how they use the internet, rather than making that concerned pouty face about the need for “a conversation.”
For the children…
Celebrating the memory of beloved synth pioneer Bob Moog and commemorating his birthday, Google’s home page (currently in Australia, live in the US tomorrow) is a fully working, multi-trackable Moog synthesizer. Share your masterpiece!
The eurozone’s ‘Latin Bloc’ is in full revolt. The trio of French, Italian, and Spanish leaders – backed by world powers – are to push for a radical shift in Europe’s economic strategy at crucial summit on Wednesday.
The package of measures includes an EMU-wide guarantee of bank deposits aimed at halting a slow bank run across southern Europe, as well as demands for full activation of the European Central Bank as a lender of last resort.
They will propose eurobonds to finance an infrastructure blitz, a sort of Marshall Plan to revive confidence even if long-term benefits will take years to feed through.
While the moves are couched in diplomatic language, the clear aim of French premier François Hollande, Italian premier Mario Monti, and Spanish premier Mariano Rajoy is to wrest control of the EU’s governing machinery from Germany.
In the run-up to Facebook’s (FB.O) $16 billion IPO, Morgan Stanley (MS.N), the lead underwriter on the deal, unexpectedly delivered some negative news to major clients: The bank’s consumer Internet analyst, Scott Devitt, was reducing his revenue forecasts for the company.
“This was done during the roadshow – I’ve never seen that before in 10 years,” said a source at a mutual fund firm who was among those called by Morgan Stanley.
“They definitely lowered their numbers and there was some concern about that,” he said. “My biggest hedge fund client told me they lowered their numbers right around mid-roadshow.”
That client, he said, still bought the issue but “flipped his IPO allocation and went short on the first day.”
Institutions and major clients generally enjoy quick access to investment bank research, while retail clients in many cases only get it later. It is unclear whether Morgan Stanley only told its top clients about the revised view or spread the word more broadly. The firm declined to comment when asked who was told about the research.
For years, U.S. government agencies have told the public, veterans and Congress that they couldn’t draw any connections between the so-called “burn pits” disposing of trash at the military’s biggest bases and veterans’ respiratory or cardiopulmonary problems. But a 2011 Army memo obtained by Danger Room flat-out stated that the burn pit at one of Afghanistan’s largest bases poses “long-term adverse health conditions” to troops breathing the air there.
The unclassified memo (.jpg), dated April 15, 2011, stated that high concentrations of dust and burned waste present at Bagram Airfield for most of the war are likely to impact veterans’ health for the rest of their lives. “The long term health risk” from breathing in Bagram’s particulate-rich air include “reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, atherosclerosis, or other cardiopulmonary diseases.” Service members may not necessarily “acquire adverse long term pulmonary or heart conditions,” but “the risk for such is increased.”
Words that Tony Blair spoke over the phone to George Bush on the eve of the Iraq war are to be made public, a tribunal has ordered.
The Foreign Office has been ordered to release parts of the note detailing the conversation on 12 March 2003, a week before the invasion of Iraq began.
A panel chaired by tribunal judge Professor John Angel overruled objections from the Foreign Office that publishing any part of the conversation could do “serious damage” to relations with the USA
They said in their ruling: “The circumstances surrounding a decision by a UK government to go to war with another country is always likely to be of very significant public interest, even more so with the consequences of this war.”
The reason why this is relevant to the campaign is that my opponent, Governor Romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be president is his business experience. He’s not going out there touting his experience in Massachusetts. He’s saying, I’m a business guy, and I know how to fix it, and this is his business.
And when you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, your job is not simply to maximize profits. Your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. Your job is to think about those workers who get laid off, and how are we paying for their retraining. Your job is to think about how those communities can start creating new clusters so they can attract new businesses. Your job as president is to think about how do we set up an equitable tax system so that everybody’s paying their fair share, that allows us then to invest in science, and technology, and infrastructure, all of which are going to help us grow.
And so if your main argument for how to grow the economy is “I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,” then you’re missing what this job is about. It doesn’t mean you weren’t good at private equity. But that’s not what my job is as president.
My job is to take into account everybody, not just some. My job is to make sure the country is growing not just now, but 10 years from now, 20 years from now.
Meanwhile, since, like my mother, I can’t count on someone putting a pillow over my head, I’ll be trying to work out the timing and details of a do-it-yourself exit strategy. As should we all.