A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

Memo to corporate hacks; objectivity doesn’t exist

Posted: 24 Nov 2011
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald is right:

Contrary to popular wisdom, there aren’t two types of journalists: those who express opinions and those who are objective.  The two types are those who honestly acknowledge their opinions and those who deceitfully pretend such opinions do not influence their journalism. One reason modern establishment journalism has become so corrupted and worthless is because of the conceit that they engage in some sort of objective reporting that is free of bias and opinion, even as they are the stalwart defenders of a clear set of political opinions and interests (those wielded by the same power factions which they pretend to hold accountable).

On the frontlines of the ongoing Egyptian revolution

Posted: 24 Nov 2011
I salute them.
This amazing footage shot by Australian indy journalist Austin Mackell:
Rest easy, citizens, Serco rides to the rescue

Posted: 23 Nov 2011
Is there anything Serco can’t do with enough money? It’s the company that’s always in the right spot at the right time (helped, of course, by the fact that countless politicians on all sides believe in “efficiency”, aka cutting services).
The Guardian reports:

Privately employed engineers are being trained to detect “dirty bombs” so that they can replace striking Border Agency guards during next week’s day of action against public sector pension reforms.
Staff from the services giant Serco are to be employed at four major points of entry into the UK to operate “portals” – which detect radiation and nuclear material on vehicles – when thousands of union members are expected to take industrial action.
Unions say Serco employees cannot receive the necessary specialist training in such a short period and will leave the country vulnerable to attack. They also argue that Serco staff do not have powers of arrest and have not received training to check travel documents.
Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, said: “We have serious concerns about the private contractors’ ability to do the job, and the use of them to cover for striking staff. This latest revelation further underlines the sheer desperation of [the UK Border Agency] to paint a picture of business as usual when it’s obvious to everyone that’s not going to be the case.”

Three examples of disaster capitalism in action

Posted: 23 Nov 2011
One (via Wired):

An obscure Pentagon office designed to curb the flow of illegal drugs has quietly evolved into a one-stop shop for private security contractors around the world, soliciting deals worth over $3 billion.
The sprawling contract, ostensibly designed to stop drug-funded terrorism, seeks security firms for missions like “train[ing] Azerbaijan Naval Commandos.” Other tasks include providing Black Hawk and Kiowa helicopter training “for crew members of the Mexican Secretariat of Public Security.” Still others involve building “anti-terrorism/force protection enhancements” for the Pakistani border force in the tribal areas abutting Afghanistan.
The Defense Department’s Counter Narco-Terrorism Program Office has packed all these tasks and more inside a mega-contract for security firms. The office, known as CNTPO, is all but unknown, even to professional Pentagon watchers. It interprets its counternarcotics mandate very, very broadly, leaning heavily on its implied counterterrorism portfolio. And it’s responsible for one of the largest chunks of money provided to mercenaries in the entire federal government.

Two (via Democracy Now!):

American so-called “vulture investors,” including a top funder of the Republican Party, have demanded African nations pay over half a billion dollars for old debts, for which investors paid only a few million. These so-called “vulture investors” attack desperately poor nations. That’s outlawed throughout most of the world, but not in the United States. Democracy Now! has joined an investigation begun by The guardian and BBC Television targeting one New York vulture speculator who’s attacked the Democratic Republic of Congo, demanding $100 million. Is he collecting a legitimate debt from Congo or is the vulture claims based on a stolen security, criminally transferred to an American financier known after the James Bond film as “Goldfinger.” Greg Palast reports from the Congo, Bosnia and New York.

Three (via Foreign Policy):

When people read a news website, they don’t usually imagine that it is being run by a major producer of fighter jets and smart bombs. But when the Pentagon has its own vision of America’s foreign policy, and the funds to promote it, it can put a $23 billion defense contractor in a unique position to report on the war on terror.

Over the past three years, a subdivision of Virginia-based General Dynamics has set up and run a network of eight “influence websites” funded by the Defense Department with more than $120 million in taxpayer money. The sites, collectively known as the Trans Regional Web Initiative (TRWI) and operated by General Dynamics Information Technology, focus on geographic areas under the purview of various U.S. combatant commands, including U.S. Central Command. In its coverage of Uzbekistan, a repressive dictatorship increasingly important to U.S. military goals in Afghanistan, a TRWI website called Central Asia Online has shown a disturbing tendency to downplay the autocracy’s rights abuses and uncritically promote its claims of terrorist threats.

One thought on “A. Loewenstein Online Newsletter

  1. I’m not really certain if I am writing this in the proper area, however I’m getting ready to relocate to the U . S . and am looking to secure jobs in the technology industry. I have a job lead with a organization (LTJ Management, LLC, 900 Congress Ave, Suite L-150, Austin, TX 78701 (512) 895-9500) and wanted some views on the best way to research them to see if they might be a great organization to work for. I’ve checked on their web page, but thought somebody here could have some other suggestions on where to look. Thank you in advance.

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