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NOW LIVE ON WhoWhatWhy
By Klaus Marre
In a $100 million lawsuit that has garnered virtually no public attention, five National Security Agency whistleblowers are accusing the federal government of illegally retaliating against them for alerting the NSA and Congress to a waste of taxpayer funds that benefitted a well-connected contractor.
We’re pleased to introduce a new feature that will appear on our site and in our daily newsletter, replacing the current model. PICKS are articles from around the web, either selected by our editors or recommended by readers.
These are articles or developments that struck us, and that we think you’ll find of interest. We are adopting a broad range of criteria for PICKS. They can be:
— updates or developments related to stories we have been covering
— stories on subjects we have not covered that relate to core areas we cover
— stories on subjects we have not covered and don’t match our core interests but that are noteworthy because they’re surprising, disturbing, enlightening, inspiring, amusing, etc.
If you would like to recommend articles, videos, podcasts, etc. that you think your fellow readers would enjoy, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
PICKS for Sept 1, 2015:
Did you hear? George W. Bush was in New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, where he “was received by sympathetic audiences;” made no mention of his administration’s disastrous handling of the emergency response; and took no questions. It’s hard to believe, but there it is. Nobody in the media who covered Bush’s visit thought to ask him anything about the cynicism and corruption that led to the debacle — or why he turned FEMA over to people you wouldn’t hire for even the lowliest job. Perhaps those reporters simply don’t know the real story, revealed in our investigative series, just republished — or don’t care. Either way, it speaks to the urgent need for better news organizations.
We’re not the only ones having trouble with Big Brother. Even the Dutch, famed for their tolerance, have battles over surveillance. The Dutch Home Minister, according to the Netherlands newspaper Volkskrant, has proposed that “without even a hint of suspicion of any criminal behaviour on our part, the [intelligence] services will be monitoring and analysing our phone conversations, email exchanges, web surfing behaviour, etc. The data gathered will be kept for up to three years and can be shared with foreign secret services.” Keep in mind, this isafter the Snowden revelations. So you see, the United States still does truly lead the world.
Maybe you saw this one: WalMart is finally phasing out assault rifles. No, the company didn’t decide to demonstrate socially responsible behavior. It just seems that “demand is down.” Maybe the market is the ultimate source of rationality?
Gerrymandering generally is an undemocratic practice and certainly no laughing matter. The exception to the rule is this hilarious story from Missouri, which was reported by the Columbia Daily Tribune. A bunch of property owners tried to rig a district so that it included zero actual voters, which would allow them to approve a sales tax that they hoped would bring in $220,000 from nearby residents. The problem is that they didn’t quite gerrymander well enough and missed a single voter — University of Missouri student Jen Henderson, who now gets to decide the sales tax initiative.
Last month, WhoWhatWhy’s Jimmy Chin wrote an interesting piece on how a tweak of Google’s algorithm could sway election outcomes. Anybody interested in this subject (or anybody who thinks Google might be above such manipulation) should read this article on the Competition Committee of India (CCI) charging the Internet giant with doing just that: manipulating its search results. It is certainly a case worth keeping an eye on.
Doing well in the polls in September is one thing, but the presidential candidates will be decided at the respective conventions. While that is still a year away, there are already interesting dynamics at play in both parties. Thanks to the number of their candidates and a recent rule change, the Republicans could be headed for a contested convention, Morning Consult writes. That, of course, would make a GOP primary, which is already shaping up to be epic, even crazier. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is trying to take full advantage of her party’s rules by already locking up so-called superdelegates. These delegates are high-ranking party officials who get to vote on the nominee in addition to the delegates the candidates win during primaries and caucuses. Bloomberg News reports that Clinton may already have one-fifth of the delegates she needs locked up — months before the first actual vote has been cast.
And then there is this: Clearly, a lot of Republicans are fans of Donald Trump. But nobody is more convinced of Trump’s sheer awesomeness than “The Donald” himself. So Jimmy Kimmel had some fun with this and put together a first campaign commercial that probably is pretty close to one Trump himself would put out.
Now Live on WhoWhatWhy
RadioWHO Ep. 8: Danny Schechter the News Dissector R.I.P.
by Jeff Schechtman
Pioneering author, filmmaker and media reform activist Danny Schechter saw the dystopian future of the corporate media long before it became a reality. RadioWHO host Jeff Schechtman spoke with “the News Dissector,” who died last week at the age of 72, in 1998. It will surprise you just how much of that conversation is still relevant. Here’s a tribute to a friend of WhoWhatWhy—and the truth.
Of Interest Out There
Would you like a bold headline?
Taliban Leaders Are Living in Luxory in Qatar
Irony Alert! Former World Bank official and current President Ashraf Ghani came to the U.S. to plead for America to stay in Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Taliban officials mounting their own diplomatic effort aimed at the U.S. are living the high life in one of the Muslim world’s richest nations. Qatar is also home to the “Guantanamo Five”—the Taliban detainees released in a prisoner exchange for Bowe Bergdahl. Talk about reversal of fortune … now they are part of a growing and well-cared-for Taliban presence in the tony emirate.
Ukraine’s Former Ruling Party Hit by Spate of Apparent Suicides
Whenever you see “spate” and “apparent suicides” in the same headline, there is a pretty good chance there’s something fishy going on. To wit, four top members of the Party of Regions have died within several weeks. The party had been led by now-deposed president Viktor Yanukovych, but he fled after the so-called Maidan revolution. All of the officials were under criminal investigation.