Category Archives: Media

German spooks want to target foreign reporters


And for the same reason they targeted German reporters until they were slapped down by the Bundestag. . .for that matter, for the same reason Richard Nixon illegally spied on reporters in the U.S.

What’s the German word for Plumbers? Oh, yeah: Klempner.

You remember the Plumbers, don’t you?

They were the squad of ex-spooks and other devious souls dispatched by the Nixon White House to find out who was leaking embarrassing things to the White House press corps.

Targets included reporters for the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times.

One special target, syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, was even earmarked for assassination before it all went bad for tricky Dick.

So what about those Klempner?

German spooks slapped down

From the 27 May edition of Deutsche Welle:

The German government’s parliamentary committee has confirmed allegations that Foreign Intelligence Agency (BND) agents illegally spied on journalists to expose their sources.

The 180-page parliamentary report made public determined that measures taken by the BND against German reporters in an effort to shut off leaks violated the law.

“Regarding the accusations in the press that the Federal Intelligence Service … illegally spied on journalists in order to expose their sources, it is to be ascertained that such observations did take place … these measures were predominantly illegal,” the report read.

BND agents picked through the journalists’ rubbish and traced their research, the report stated. While none of the reporters were bugged, agents used other measures against them to try to uncover their sources, including stealing a box of his papers that one journalist had thrown away and tracing another’s research in the federal archive.

The report, compiled by Gerhard Schäfer on behalf of the committee, also called for the agency “to formally apologize” to the journalists whom it spied on.

>snip<

The head of the BND, Ernst Uhrlau, apologized to the media shortly after it was released and promised to take steps to prevent such abuses in future.

“As president of the BND, I apologize for all rights abuses that resulted because of steps taken by the service,” he said.

If at first you don’t succeed. . .

Caught black-handed and dressed down for spying on their own country’s journalists, Germany spooks are trying an end run by getting legislation to spy on non-German reporters covering their country.

During our own journalism career, we’ve encountered lots of reporters from other countries, and one thing we can say for certain is that there’s always a lot of communication between foreign correspondents and domestic reporters in the countries they’re covering.

So spying on the foreign correspondents is sure to turn up a lot of information on and communications with the German press corps.

But the whole idea of spying on the Fortuh Estate has raised a lot of hackles, including officials of the world’s largest intergovernmental security agency, with responsibility for arms control, press freedom, human rights and the promotion of human rights, and fair elections

From the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, an official body with representatives from 57 jurisdictions:

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatovic, today expressed concern about a proposed law on the German Foreign Intelligence Agency (BND, Bundesnachrichtendienst), which was debated in the Bundestag, Germany’s Federal Parliament, today.

“Increasing surveillance capabilities of journalists is a clear threat to media freedom,” Mijatovic said. “This draft law runs counter to the very core of fundamental freedoms such as media freedom and freedom of expression.”

The draft law increases BND’s capabilities to place foreign journalists under surveillance. Moreover, no exemption is made for the work of journalists, and journalists without citizenship of the European Union can be subjected to surveillance without an explicit court order.

“I call on the German Bundestag to revise the current draft law and ensure proper the protection of journalists regardless of their nationality,” Mijatovic said.

More opposition to the law

Needless to say, journalists themselves are up in arm, as is a leading journalism NGO.

From Reporters Without Borders:

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the German ruling coalition’s parliamentary groups to immediately amend a proposed law on the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), Germany’s foreign intelligence service, in order to prevent the BND from spying on journalists.

The bill empowering the BND to place foreign journalists under surveillance is to be debated in parliament.

Instead of clarifying issues, the federal government has completely abandoned the protection of foreign journalists and is poised to legalize measures that would constitute grave violations of two fundamental rights – freedom of expression and media freedom.

There’s more, after the jump. . . Continue reading

Chart of the day: Print news is for geezers


And we should know, since we are one.

From The Modern News Consumer, a new analysis from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG News

Corporate child abuse: Ads make children fat


We begin with two maps from the World Obesity Federation:

Obesity prevalence worldwide - Boys

Obesity prevalence worldwide – Girls

Obesity prevalence worldwide - Boys

Obesity prevalence worldwide – Boys

Note the extreme prevalence of obesity in the Americas and the English-speaking world, where commercial media predominate.

Might there be a connection?

Come on, you always knew it.

All those junk food ads on television and in other media consumed by kids, seductive hustles aimed at children to peddle food and candy you know has little or no nutritional value, had to play some role in the rising tide of obesity engulfing the children of the industrial world.

After all, corporations would spend billions if the ads didn’t boost their sales

From McMaster University:

Ads for unhealthy foods and beverages high in sugar or salt have an immediate and significant impact on children and lead to harmful diets, according to research from McMaster University.

The study, published today in the scientific journal Obesity Reviews, examined 29 trials assessing the effects of unhealthy food and beverage marketing and analyzing caloric intake and dietary preference among more than 6,000 children. Researchers found that the marketing increased dietary intake and influenced dietary preference in children during or shortly after exposure to advertisements.

Lead author of the study, Behnam Sadeghirad, says that these findings demonstrate the influence that these advertisements, a growing epidemic, have on children’s food choices.

“The rates of overweight and obesity among children are rising worldwide,” said Sadeghirad, a PhD student in clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at McMaster. “This is the first systematic review evidence based on 29 randomized trials and it shows that the extensive exposure kids have to marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages via product packaging (superheroes, logos), TV and the internet increases their short-term caloric intake and preference for junk food.”

There’s more. . . Continue reading

Empire on the brink: Corporate crime and war


In one of her best interviews yet for teleSUR English, Abby Martin talks with New York Times reporter James Risen, whose critique of American imperialism and its fruits is almost as radical as Martin’s

We are perplexed that none of the San Francisco Bay Area news media have profiled Martin and her rise to become a journalist of international standing, a Bay Area native who began her career on Berkeley’s community access cable channel, then moved on to RT America and then to teleSUR, where she hosts The Empire Files, a weekly investigative series.

In the latest episode she talks with New York Times reporter James Risen, whose reporting on the National Security Agency and other issues won him a Pulitzer Prize and threats of prosecution from both the Bush and the Obama administrations.

In their wide-ranging discussion, Martin and Risen talk about the national security state, American imperialism [yes, a New York Times reporter actually uses the I-word], the corporatization of war and the insidious power of military contractors, and the hypocrisy of an Obama administration that has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous American presidencies combined.

Perhaps most telling is Risen’s observation of a critical fact un- or undereported by mainstream media: The fact that virtually all “lone wolf” terrorists have resorted to desperate measures in search of revenge for deaths of loved ones at the hands of the American military and its allies.

From teleSUR English:

The Empire Files: Abby Martin with NYT’s James Risen on Fighting Censorship

Program notes:

Few journalists know the cruelty of government censorship as well as James Risen, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist at the New York Times, targeted for several major stories implicating criminality by the US war machine and its national security state.

Headline of the day II: Big Apple ‘blow’-hards


From the London Daily Mail:

BLOG Blow

Headline of the day: Another timely reminder


What do Mark Zuckerberg and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation have in common. . .other than spying on you, that is?

Both of them tape over their laptop webcams.

From the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

It’s not paranoia: Hackers can use your webcam to spy on you

  • They might be monitoring your kids, too, through their laptops
  • Some of the most savvy about the internet block their webcams with tape
  • Data security experts say the threat is real, prevalent and worth action

An Obama administration blow for freedom


Or maybe not [snicker]. . .

During her tenure as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton encouraged the use of social media as a tool for overthrowing governments deemed inimical to American interests.

The State Department distributed software and security tools for to help in efforts to overthrow governments in Africa, the Mideast, and, we presume, Latin America.

All this was done in the name of “promoting freedom.”

But then how do you explain this, via the Guardian:

US border control could start asking for your social media accounts

US Customs and Border Protection proposal would see Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts requested on landing and visa forms