Glenn Greenwald reports: “Each year, Reporters Without Borders issues a worldwide ranking of nations based on the extent to which they protect or abridge press freedom. The group’s 2015 ranking was released this morning, and the United States is ranked 49th. That is the lowest ranking ever during the Obama presidency, and the second-lowest ranking for the U.S. since the rankings began in 2002 (in 2006, under Bush, the U.S. was ranked 53rd). The countries immediately ahead of the U.S. are Malta, Niger, Burkino Faso, El Salvador, Tonga, Chile and Botswana.”
Greenwald quotes former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie, Jr.
“The administration’s war on leaks and other efforts to control information are the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate. The 30 experienced Washington journalists at a variety of news organizations whom I interviewed for this report could not remember any precedent.”
In response to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit by The New York Times, the Justice Department has partially declassified a report about the F.B.I.’s involvement in administering the warrantless surveillance program authorized by the FISA Amendments Act. When the report was completed in September 2012, it was entirely classified and the department announced only that it existed.
You can also read the Times’ story concerning the report here: F.B.I. is Broadening Surveillance Role, Report Shows – NYTimes.com.
Today marks the 45th anniversary of the assassination of Fred Hampton by the Chicago Police. Five years ago, on the fortieth anniversary, Democracy Now aired a retrospective.
On December 4th, 1969, Chicago police raided Fred Hampton’s apartment, shot and killed him in his bed. He was just twenty-one years old. Black Panther leader Mark Clark was also killed in the raid.
While authorities claimed the Panthers had opened fire on the police who were there to serve a search warrant for weapons, evidence later emerged that told a very different story: that the FBI, the Cook County state’s attorney’s office and the Chicago police conspired to assassinate Fred Hampton. Noam Chomsky has called Hampton’s killing “the gravest domestic crime of the Nixon administration.”
“DOWN OUTRIGHT MURDER”: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO THE SHOOTING OF MICHAEL BROWN BY DARREN WILSON | Ryan Devereaux, The Intercept
A State-by-State Look at TANF | The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
A generation jeopardized by obsession with testing | Wendy Lecker, The Stamford Advocate
WALL STREET IS TAKING OVER AMERICA’S PENSION PLANS | Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept
The war on giving | Jessica Hansen-Weaver, Socialist Worker
How Police Use Military Tactics to Quash Dissent | Aaron Cantú, Alternet
Wal-Mart’s Bottomless Greed: Dodging Billions in Taxes, Scheming to Avoid Billions More | Steven Rosenfeld, Alyssa Figueroa, Alternet
Justin Akers Chacón offers some context with regard to the latest wave of immigration from the South.
The children and youth coming to the U.S., chiefly from Central America in the current wave, are victims of faceless economic, political and military policies engineered and implemented by the U.S. government, either unilaterally, or working through ruling elites in the region.
These young migrants are journeying north to be reunited with their families or in a desperate search for work and security. It is a further indictment of the U.S. government’s inhuman immigration policy that these innocent victims are treated as criminals and undesirables.
Please read the full article: Children forced on a dangerous journey | SocialistWorker.org.
Peter Montgomery from People for the American Way puts this week’s Supreme Court decisions in historical context.
Samuel Alito is the single most pro-corporate Justice on the most pro-business Court since the New Deal. Still, Alito’s one-two punch was another extraordinary milestone for the strategists who have been working for the past 40 years to put business firmly in the driver’s seat of American politics.
Many would suggest that the modern right-wing movement began with the failed presidential bid of Barry Goldwater. But there’s a strong case to be made that it begins in earnest with a 1971 memo by Lewis Powell, who argued that American businesses were losing public support and called for a massive, continuing campaign to wage war on leftist academics, progressive nonprofit groups, and politicians. The memo by Powell, who was later appointed to the Supreme Court via a nomination by Richard Nixon, inspired a few very wealthy men like Adolph Coors, John M. Olin, and Richard Mellon Scaife, who set about creating and funding a massive infrastructure of think tanks, endowed academic chairs, law schools and right-wing legal groups, including the Federalist Society, which has nurtured Alito’s career.
Read the full article: Samuel Alito: A Movement Man Makes Good on Right-Wing Investments | Peter Montgomery.
I’m looking forward to hearing Glenn Greenwald speak in Chicago at the Socialism 2014 conference next week. His presentation via Skype last year was one of the highlights of the conference. He recently spoke with Nicole Colson and Eric Ruder about the startling revelations of the past year, the mainstream media’s reaction and what’s still to come.
There’s a human shame that comes from doing things that people are willing to do only when they think people can’t watch them. And yet this is exactly the realm in which all forms of dissent, creativity and exploration of what it means to be a free individual reside in–when we have a private realm.
That’s why human beings instinctively seek out a private realm, a place where they can go and think and be and do without other people watching. That’s the reason why tyrannies always want to turn to surveillance–because they know that creating the perception one is always being watched is the most powerful instrument for keeping people in line and forcing people to comply with the wishes of authority.
Read the full interview: Unmasking Big Brother | SocialistWorker.org.
From the WSWS:
Increasingly, the methods of imperialist war and military occupation, practiced by the United States with such bloody and disastrous results overseas, are now to be employed in the US. Whether in Iraq and Afghanistan or Los Angeles and Detroit, the purpose is the same.
Pete Seeger was heroic in his testimony before the House Unamerican Activities Committee in 1955.
“I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them.”
Read Pete’s full testimony: House Un-American Activities Committee, August 18, 1955 – PeteSeeger.net.