Daily Archives: February 6th, 2017

News Corp execs visit Downing Street more than any other company in the UK

Dominic Ponsford reports for Press Gazette:

New analysis of UK government hospitality registers suggests executives from News Corp are more likely to visit Downing Street than any other company.

The Media Reform Coalition, a campaign group which objects to the the concentration of media powers in the hands of News Corp proprietor Rupert Murdoch, has compiled the data.

It has looked at the quarterly returns filed by government departments detailing meetings with outside organisations from April 2015 to September 2016. The time span covers two governments.

News Corp includes The Sun, Times and Sunday Times newspapersin the UK.

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The FBI’s Secret Rules

The Intercept writes in the introduction to its series on the FBI:

Image result for The FBI’s Secret RulesPresident Trump has inherited a vast domestic intelligence agency with extraordinary secret powers. A cache of documents offers a rare window into the FBI’s quiet expansion since 9/11.

After the famous Church Committee hearings in the 1970s exposed the FBI’s wild overreach, reforms were enacted to protect civil liberties. But in recent years, the bureau has substantially revised those rules with very little public scrutiny. That’s why The Intercept is publishing this special package of articles based on three internal FBI manuals that we exclusively obtained.

These stories illuminate how the FBI views its authority to assess terrorism suspects, recruit informants, spy on university organizations, infiltrate online chat rooms, peer through the walls of private homes, and more. 

In addition to the articles collected here — which include nine new pieces and two that we previously published based on the same source material — we have annotated the manuals to highlight what we found most newsworthy in them.  We redacted the sections that could be used to identify individuals or systems for the purpose of causing harm. We’re presenting the stories alongside the manuals because we believe the public has a right to know how the U.S. government’s leading domestic law enforcement agency understands and wields its enormous power.

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White House Denies Report That Bannon Had to Be Reminded He Wasn’t President Amidst Travel-Ban Chaos

Chas Danner reports for New York Magazine:

ImageChief White House strategist Steve Bannon tried to order Department of Homeland Security secretary John Kelly to not issue a waiver exempting green-card holders from President Trump’s travel-ban executive order, according to a report — which the White House is denying — in the Washington Post. Per two Trump administration officials who spoke with the Post’s Josh Rogin, Kelly apparently rebuffed the attempt, telling Bannon that he only takes orders from the president. The president never weighed in, and Kelly went ahead and issued the waiver, which was made public on Sunday night, ending two full days of confusion and chaos around the question of whether or not permanent U.S. residents from the seven predominantly Muslim nations included in the ban would be allowed to reenter the country. The White House itself then confirmed that green-card holders were exempt from the order on Tuesday.

Rogin’s post has undergone a series of revisions since it was published early Saturday, mainly because he didn’t request comment from the White House before publishing the story, and once the White House weighed in, press secretary Sean Spicer denied most of what Rogin’s sources had reported. Despite the revisions, Rogin and the Post seem to be standing by the central thrust of the piece — that two administration officials say that Bannon and Kelly had a disagreement over issuing the waiver for green-card holders, and Kelly told Bannon that only President Trump could order him to back off on the waiver. Originally, the Post report said that Bannon had even made an unscheduled visit to Kelly’s office on Saturday over the issue, but that was later removed from the story. Spicer and Bannon both deny that any confrontation ever occurred, and Spicer went so far as to tell the Huffington Post that the whole report a “patently false, made up story” and that it was “unbelievably unprofessional” for Rogin and the Post to not seek comment from the White House before publishing.

That being acknowledged, Rogin’s unnamed sources also said that cabinet officials had banded together during a 2 a.m. phone call among senior White House staff on Sunday to oppose the haphazard way the president’s executive order had been conceived and implemented by the White House’s growing Breitbart wing, Bannon and White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. Then at a larger meeting on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus ordered a temporary suspension of the issuing of additional executive orders until better procedures — as in ones that were inclusive of more White House voices — could be put in place. (Rogin originally reported that Trump himself had made that decision, but apparently it was Priebus, and Spicer denies that a pause was ordered — just new procedures.)

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Thousands of Deadly Airstrikes by U.S. Military Have Gone Unreported

Andrew deGrandpre and Shawn Snow report for Military Times:

Image result for Thousands of Deadly Airstrikes by U.S. Military Have Gone UnreportedThe American military has failed to publicly disclose potentially thousands of lethal airstrikes conducted over several years in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, a Military Times investigation has revealed. The enormous data gap raises serious doubts about transparency in reported progress against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and the Taliban, and calls into question the accuracy of other Defense Department disclosures documenting everything from costs to casualty counts.

In 2016 alone, U.S. combat aircraft conducted at least 456 airstrikes in Afghanistan that were not recorded as part of an open-source database maintained by the U.S. Air Force, information relied on by Congress, American allies, military analysts, academic researchers, the media and independent watchdog groups to assess each war’s expense, manpower requirements and human toll. Those airstrikes were carried out by attack helicopters and armed drones operated by the U.S. Army, metrics quietly excluded from otherwise comprehensive monthly summaries, published online for years, detailing American military activity in all three theaters.

Most alarming is the prospect this data has been incomplete since the war on terrorism began in October 2001. If that is the case, it would fundamentally undermine confidence in much of what the Pentagon has disclosed about its prosecution of these wars, prompt critics to call into question whether the military sought to mislead the American public, and cast doubt on the competency with which other vital data collection is being performed and publicized. Those other key metrics include American combat casualties, taxpayer expense and the military’s overall progress in degrading enemy capabilities.

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Yemen Conflict All But Ignored By The West

Gouri Sharma reports for DW:

Wie die Medien über den Krieg im Yemen berichten (Murad Subay)When the UN children’s rights organization UNICEF recently released a report stating that at least one child dies every 10 minutes in Yemen, the expectation was that the news would be picked up by international news outlets. But barring a few exceptions, including Al Jazeera and DW, the news was not carried by much of the global media prominently, and some not at all.

In its report, the humanitarian organization estimated that more than 400,000 Yemeni children are at risk of starvation, and a further 2.2 million are in need of urgent care. How could it be that statistics this alarming, the result of a war involving regional superpowers with the backing of the US and UK, does not make headline news?

But people close to the story say this example is just a reflection of how the war in Yemen is covered by the global media.

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