Posts Tagged ‘CNN’

Infowars Banned

August 7, 2018

Facebook, YouTube, and Apple have decided to remove content from Alex Jones and Infowars. Here is the report from CNN.

YouTube, Facebook and Apple have taken steps to remove content associated with InfoWars and its Alex Jones.

Each social media platform said Monday that it had removed content from Jones or InfoWars because it had violated their policies. The companies’ moves shut down key distribution channels that had given the controversial media figure easy access to millions of internet users.

The most dramatic action came last, from YouTube, which is owned by Google (GOOGL). It removed many top channels associated with InfoWars, including The Alex Jones Channel, which had 2.4 million subscribers and videos that were viewed over 1.5 billion times.

“When users violate … policies repeatedly, like our policies against hate speech and harassment or our terms prohibiting circumvention of our enforcement measures, we terminate their accounts,” said a spokesperson for YouTube.

 

But in a message posted Monday on Twitter, Jones encouraged users to access live streams directly from the InfoWars website. He described it as “the one platform that they CAN’T ban.”

Earlier on Monday, Facebook removed four pages associated with InfoWars and Jones for repeated violations of its policies.

The social media platform said in a statement that it had “unpublished” the Alex Jones Channel Page, the Alex Jones Page, the InfoWars Page and the Infowars Nightly News Page.

 

BuzzFeed News reported on Sunday that Apple (AAPL) had removed five podcasts associated with InfoWars from iTunes and its podcast app.

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users,” it said in a statement provided to BuzzFeed News.

“Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or available for download or streaming. We believe in representing a wide range of views, so long as people are respectful to those with differing opinions.”

Apple confirmed the accuracy of its statement to CNN.

This is not a First Amendment issue and technically it is not censorship at all. Apple, Facebook and YouTube have every right to decide who can and cannot use their services and if they decide that Alex Jones is not someone their want using their platforms, they do not have to host him. Having said all that, however, I really wish they had not made this decision.

To begin with, there is already a growing perception that the tech industry is heavily biased towards the political left. Many conservatives are starting to fear that such social media giants as Facebook and YouTube are beginning to use their near-monopolies to systematically marginalize and deplatform conservative voices. For Facebook, YouTube, and Apple to almost simultaneously shut down a right-wing crackpot conspiracy theorist like Alex Jones does nothing to allay such fears, particularly when there are any number of left-wing crackpot conspiracy theorists spewing just as much hatred that the tech industry apparently has no problem with hosting on their platforms. It doesn’t seem as if there is really any objective standard that has been applied. Perhaps no standard can be applied. The whole problem with banning hate speech is that there isn’t really any kind of speech that can be objectively defined as hate speech, beyond speech one happens to dislike. One person’s hate speech is another person’s speaking truth to power.

This leads to another reason I really wish they hadn’t done this. For three separate companies to decide on the same day that Alex Jones is unacceptable looks like collusion. I have no idea whether executives from Facebook, Apple and Google were working together on this, but there is no way this doesn’t look like some sort of conspiracy to shut Alex Jones up for speaking out. If it was their desire to silence Alex Jones, they have miscalculated badly. They have managed to validate all of his paranoid rantings in the minds of his audience and have made him a free speech martyr. A quick visit to Infowars shows that Alex Jones is making the most of this perception of persecution, referring to his radio show and website as banned. I wouldn’t be surprised if the traffic to Infowars hasn’t tripled in the last twenty-four hours.

The truth is that this kind of censorship, okay, not really censorship but you know what I mean, doesn’t work all that well, unless you have a totalitarian government enforcing it by not allowing any dissent at all. The sort of half-way “its technically banned but somehow still available” kind of censorship only makes the censored material more attractive because it is forbidden and the people seeking it out feel brave and rebellious. There was is a reason Banned in Boston used to be considered an endorsement by makers of risqué films and why the Streisand effect is a thing.

Although this attempt by leading tech giants to silence Alex Jones is not technically censorship because they are not government agencies, in a way it really is a kind of censorship. If the owners of the printing presses, broadcast stations or internet social media platforms collude to exclude certain political or social viewpoints, then they are practicing censorship. This is a more insidious kind of censorship than throwing a dissenter in prison where he can become a sort of martyr but of simply quietly denying the dissenter any means of disseminating his views. He may have freedom of speech, in theory, but without the means to make his speech heard, he does not have freedom of speech in practice.

This seems to be the goal of the left. They cannot pass laws against speech they dislike, at least not yet, because the First Amendment forbids it. They can mobilize private institutions, such as businesses, to censor dislike speech. They will not succeed with this rather crude attempt to silence Alex Jones. They are likely to succeed in creating a climate of intolerance throughout our society. Their goal is to fundamentally transform this country into the sort of place where you are always looking around to make sure you are not overheard, to keep your mouth shut except to say accepted platitudes, to be on the lookout for the Thought Police. We ought not to let them get away with it, even if it means standing up for the rights of people we would rather not be associated with, like Alex Jones. After all, as the saying goes, first they came for Alex Jones and Infowars…

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Al Jazeera America Shutting Down

January 17, 2016

I was a little surprised to learn that Al Jazeera America is shutting down its cable news network. Here is the story from the BBC.

Al Jazeera America will shut down its cable news channel despite spending heavily to break into the US market.

CEO Al Anstey said the business model “is simply not sustainable in light of the economic challenges”.

Al Jazeera America launched in 2013 vowing to be a more serious and in-depth alternative to CNN and Fox News.

The Qatar-based broadcaster spent millions of dollars hiring top US journalists but struggled to bring viewers to its news programmes.

Al Jazeera promised to expand its coverage of the US online after the channel shuts down in April.

The network replaced Current TV, a network founded by former US Vice President Al Gore.

The Qatar-based broadcaster bought Current TV for around $500 million (£308 million).

Al Jazeera America was available in about 60 million American homes. Politiconotes that the channel reached an average of 19,000 viewers each day in 2015, far fewer than its competitors.

The channel struggled with internal turmoil, as well, including multiple discrimination lawsuits that ended up ousting its founding CEO.

I wonder why Al Jazeera found it so difficult to break into the US market. Part of the reason might be that many American viewers did not believe that a news network funded by the Qatari government to be a trustworthy source of news. The Arabic name might not have helped. Al Jazeera sounds as if it could be the Osama bin Laden News Network. I think, though, that Al Jazeera’s main difficulty was simply that the North American market for TV news is saturated. We already have Fox, MSNBC, CNN, not to mention ABC, NBC, and CBS, and the BBC from across the Pond. There is probably simply not enough room for another news network. I also believe that the audience for TV news is declining, just as it as been for newspapers. I am too lazy to look up the ratings right now, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a shift towards the internet as the major source of news for many people, particularly for younger people. I notice that Al Jazeera is maintaining their online activities.

In a way it’s a shame, though. American news badly needs more diversity of viewpoints. Most of the news we get here in America is increasingly superficial and celebrity oriented, not to mention biased to the left. Fox is perhaps more evenhanded than most, with a bias to the right, but one right center network and a host of leftist networks, all based in the US hardly makes for much diversity. At least, we have the internet.

Rand Paul for President

April 8, 2015

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has officially announced the opening of his campaign to be the next President of the United States. As CNN reports,

For Rand Paul, it’s all led to this moment.

Since riding the tea party wave into the Senate in 2010, Paul has carefully built a brand of mainstream libertarianism — dogged advocacy of civil liberties combined with an anti-interventionist foreign policy and general support for family values — that he bets will create a coalition of younger voters and traditional Republicans to usher him into the White House.

The test of that theory began Tuesday when the Kentucky senator made official what has been clear for years: He’s running for president.

“Today I announce with God’s help, with the help of liberty lovers everywhere, that I’m putting myself forward as a candidate for president of the United States of America,” Paul said at a rally in Louisville.

Paul immediately hit the campaign trail for a four-day swing through New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa and Nevada — the states that traditionally vote first in the primaries and caucuses.

In his speech, he called for reforming Washington by pushing for term limits and a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. He argued that both parties are to blame for the rising debt, saying it doubled under a Republican administration and tripled under Obama.

“Government should be restrained and freedom should be maximized,” he said.

In general, I like Rand Paul. He seems to be more clever than most of the  leading Republicans and he is willing to  move beyond the comfort zone of the GOP and reach out to people who haven’t generally been very responsive to overtures from Republicans and he is willing to take unorthodox positions. His mainstream libertarianism is likely to be appealing to the large number of Americans who simply want the government to leave them alone without seeming overly dogmatic or extreme. He seems to be having a somewhat antagonistic relationship with the mainstream media, in that he is not allowing the reporters who have interviewed him to corner him or put words in his mouth. Perhaps Rand Paul understand, as few Republican politicians seem to, that the media is the enemy and will never give any Republican candidate a fair chance. All in all, Rand Paul seems to be an excellent candidate for president.

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I have some reservations, though. Paul doesn’t have much experience in politics, just one term as the junior Senator from Kentucky. The last time we elected a one-term junior Senator, it didn’t work out too well. A more serious objection to a Rand Paul candidacy is the fact that his father, Ron Paul, is a lunatic and I am afraid that the nut doesn’t far fall from the oak tree. My most serious concern with Ron Paul is his extreme isolationism. There are a lot of people, including Rand Paul, who have been labeled as isolationist because they have expressed the position that the United States need not get involved in every conflict in the world and should exercise more discretion in intervening in foreign affairs, particularly in matters that do not affect our interests. This is a perfectly reasonable position to take. Ron Paul, however, seems to be of the opinion that the United States should not be involved in foreign affairs at all. We should mind our own business and in return the world will leave us alone. This is a dangerously naive position to take. For one thing, America is simply too big and powerful to mind its own business. Everything we do, even not doing anything, affects everyone in the world. A small country like Switzerland can keep to itself. The US does not have that option. Also, our present period of relative peace and prosperity depends very much on American leadership and power. If America falters, things could get very bad, very quickly. President Obama’s reluctance to assert American leadership has already caused much vexation among our allies and in the world generally. A truly isolationist administration would be a disaster.

Rand Paul seems to be more reasonable about foreign policy than his father and it may be that he will find a middle ground between extreme isolationism and excessive interventionism. It may also be that his father’s extreme positions will prevent his election or even nomination as the Republican candidate. It remains to be seen. The election of 2016 is still a long way off and it is probably premature to make any predictions or make any decisions about the candidates.

The World Turned Upside Down

February 14, 2013

I have for some time suspected that the whole world is going mad, and every day I seem to find new evidence to back this contention. While driving today, around noon I turned my my car radio and listened to the first part of Rush Limbaugh‘s show. I like Rush well enough, but I don’t usually spend much time listening to him. This time, though, it was worth it. It seems that the top two stories on CNN the past day are whether Senator Marco Rubio has ruined his political career by taking a drink of water during his response to the President’s State of the Union address, and whether mass murderer Christopher Dorner is a hero. I wish I were making that up.

Here are some selections from the transcript of Rush Limbaugh’s show.

RUSH: Let’s do a little A-B, side-by-side comparison.  On the one hand, Marco Rubio may not be qualified, not only to be president, but to be US Senator.  He took a sip of water from an average looking bottle while delivering the answer to the State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Meantime, elsewhere on that network, you’ve had panel discussions celebrating the relevance and the great contributions to fighting police brutality of a mass murderer, Christopher Dorner, on the very same network.  CNN had a panel all excited, and I’ve even got some additional tweets.  Listen to this, Marc Lamont Hill.  This guy’s a professor a Columbia University.  He was on CNN’s Newsroom yesterday afternoon with the anchorette infobabe Brooke Baldwin, and the infobabe said, “Do these Dorner sympathizers have a point?”  Now, keep in mind later on CNN, Wolf Blitzer was gonna ask whether or not a drink of water could ruin somebody’s career, whether they liked it or not, whether Rubio liked it or not.  But prior to that, this happened on CNN.

HILL:  This has been an important public conversation that we’ve had about police brutality, about police corruption, about state violence.  As far as Dorner himself goes, he’s been like a real-life superhero to many people.  Now, don’t get me wrong:  What he did was awful, killing innocent people.  He’s just bad.  But when you read his manifesto, when you read the message that he left, he wasn’t entirely crazy.  He had a plan and a mission here.  And many people aren’t rooting for him to kill innocent people.  They’re rooting for somebody who was wronged to get a kind of revenge against the system.  It’s like almost watching Django Unchained in real life.  It’s kind of exciting.

RUSH:  First day, I warned you they’re comparing this guy to Django, and here is a heralded, highly acclaimed professor — I don’t know what he teaches.  Doesn’t matter.  He could be teaching a course on ballroom dance and I guarantee you it’s politics.  Revenge, vengeance, grievance politics, whatever.  “It’s almost like watching Django Unchained in real life. It’s kind of exciting.”  So it’s not just the kooks on Twitter and Facebook, it’s now the liberals on CNN who are attaching legitimacy and value to Christopher Dorner.

Now remember that this is not just some nut tweeting. This is a guest on a show on CNN. It is simply unbelievable that a news organization with any pretense of responsible journalism (I know.) would have someone on who is essentially cheerleading a murderer. Of course since Dorner’s manifesto apparently repeated a standard list of leftist memes, perhaps it is only natural that people on the left might try to make him into some sort of folk hero. This celebration of a lunatic killer illustrates the moral incoherence of many people on the left. Here, by the way, is an excellent column on this subject by Dennis Prager.

It may very well be that Christopher Dorner had legitimate complaints about the actions of the LAPD. So what? That doesn’t make him any sort of hero. His ends do not justify his means.

Perhaps this is why so many people on the left feel that gun control is such an urgent necessity and why they accused the TEA Party of being violent and dangerous. These people seem to have a deep psychological need to glorify, and even fantasize about violence and so maybe cannot conceive of citizens peaceably assembling to petition for redress of grievances. They imagine that everyone is as unstable as they are and since they cannot be trusted to own guns, or really any sharp objects, and so believe that no one can be trusted.

Maybe I am wrong about this. If so, prove me wrong and stop cheering on criminals and mass murdering dictators.

 

Deja Vu

September 11, 2012

Here is another item I read at USA Today. It seems to me that I have seen something like this before but I can’t quite remember where.

Egyptian demonstrators climbed the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo today and pulled down the American flag to protest a film they say is insulting to the prophet Mohammad.

Update at 2:07 p.m. ET: CNN reports that U.S. security guards fired a volley of warning shots as the crowd gathered outside the embassy walls.

CNN adds that the embassy had been expecting a demonstration and cleared all diplomatic personnel earlier from the facility.

Original post: The Associated Press reports that embassy officials say there was no staff inside at the time.

Reuters reports that protesters tried to raise a black flag carrying the slogan: “There is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.”

The news agency says about 2,000 protesters have gathered outside the embassy and about 20 have scaled the walls.

The AP says the protesters were largely ultra-conservative Islamists.

Iran’s FARS news agency says the film is the work of a group of “extremist” members of the Egyptian Coptic Church in the United States.

Al Ahram online says the film is reportedly being produced by U.S.-based Coptic-Christian Egyptians, including Esmat Zaklama and Morees Sadek, with the support of the Terry Jones Church in the United States.

Jones is the evangelical pastor who stirred controversy last year by threatening to burn a Quran in public.

CNN says the film in question is a Dutch production.

The AP says clips of the film available on YouTube show the prophet having sex and question his role as the messenger of Godâ??s words.

After the protest, the U.S. Embassy issued this statement on its website:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims â?? as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of other

The Grand Mufti of Egypt Sheikh Ali Gomaa strongly condemned the movie, AllAfrica.com reports.

“Freedom of speech does not warrant desecrating sanctities,” Gomaa said in a statement Sunday.

Oh, yes. Iran. An embassy seizure would be all we need to complete the “Carterization” of Barack Obama.

By the way, I am a little disgusted by the U. S. Embassy’s statement, not to mention Ali Gomaa’s. Yes, freedom of speech does indeed mean that you have to tolerate what you might believe to be desecration. Otherwise, it is not really freedom of speech at all.It is not an abuse of the universal right of free speech to question or even to insult someone’s religious beliefs. Even, if it were, no hurt feelings justify the sort of violent rage these people have demonstrated.

The fact that this Grand Mufti of Egypt is excusing these people’s’ actions, and perhaps even encouraging them is a good indication what direction Egypt is heading. The fact that the U. S. Embassy, which ought to be standing up for freedom of religion and expression has issued such a mealy mouthed, spineless statement is a good indication that we are not going to do anything to stop Egypt from going down the road to Hell.

 

Anders Breivik Sentenced

August 24, 2012

 

Speaking of truly evil men, the trial of Anders Breivik is over. He was ruled to be sane and sentenced to a maximum of 21 years for his crimes. Here is the report from CNN.

Anders Behring Breivik, the man who killed 77 people in a bomb attack and gun rampage just over a year ago, was judged to be sane by a Norwegian court Friday, as he was sentenced to 21 years in prison.

Breivik was charged with voluntary homicide and committing acts of terror in the attacks in Oslo and on Utoya Island on July 22, 2011.

The issue of Breivik’s sanity, on which mental health experts have given conflicting opinions, was central to the court’s ruling.

Breivik, who boasts of being an ultranationalist who killed his victims to fight multiculturalism in Norway, wanted to be ruled sane so that his actions wouldn’t be dismissed as those of a lunatic.

He says he acted out of “necessity” to prevent the “Islamization” of his country.

 

He was sentenced to the maximum possible term of 21 years and was ordered to serve a minimum of 10 years in prison.

The sentence could be extended, potentially indefinitely, in the future if he is considered still to pose a threat to society. Norway does not have the death penalty.

S0mehow, I am not impressed with the justice of the Norwegian criminal justice system if the maximum the murderer of 77 people can receive is 21 years, with the possibility that he could be released in ten. I know they can detain him indefinitely if he is felt to be a threat to society, but even that is troublesome since there is a certain arbitrary quality to deciding whether or not anyone is a threat. It would be better if he were sentenced, under the law, to either life in prison or death. It doesn’t seem as though prison life will be that bad for Breivik.

Over the past year, Breivik has had three cells for his use, one for physical exercise and another for reading and writing, as well as a separate outdoor exercise space, he said. Breivik cannot mix with prisoners from other wings, but does have contact with prison staff.

“As of now, we think there is a need to subject Mr. Behring Breivik to a particularly high security regime,” Bjarkeid said.

The high security regime “puts a heavy strain on an inmate, especially if it lasts for a longer period,” he added, so Breivik’s continued detention under these conditions will be kept under constant review.

Well, we wouldn’t want him to be under any strain, would we?

 

 

 

 

Libyan Missiles Looted

September 8, 2011

Oh, joy. Tell me again that our kinetic military action to overthrow Gadhaffi was a good idea. Here is an item from CNN that suggests otherwise.

TRIPOLI, Libya (CNN) – A potent stash of Russian-made surface-to-air missiles is missing from a huge Tripoli weapons warehouse amid reports of weapons looting across war-torn Libya.

They are Grinch SA-24 shoulder-launched missiles, also known as Igla-S missiles, the equivalent of U.S.-made Stinger missiles.

A CNN team and Human Rights Watch found dozens of empty crates marked with packing lists and inventory numbers that identified the items as Igla-S surface-to-air missiles.

The list for one box, for example, written in English and Russian, said it had contained two missiles, with inventory number “Missile 9M342,” and a power source, inventory number “Article 9B238.”

Grinch SA-24s are designed to target front-line aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and drones. They can shoot down a plane flying as high as 11,000 feet and can travel 19,000 feet straight out.

Fighters aligned with the National Transitional Council and others swiped armaments from the storage facility, witnesses told Human Rights Watch. The warehouse is located near a base of the Khamis Brigade, a special forces unit in Gadhafi’s military, in the southeastern part of the capital.

The warehouse contains mortars and artillery rounds, but there are empty crates for those items as well. There are also empty boxes for another surface-to-air missile, the SA-7.

Peter Bouckaert, Human Rights Watch emergencies director, told CNN he has seen the same pattern in armories looted elsewhere in Libya, noting that “in every city we arrive, the first thing to disappear are the surface-to-air missiles.”

He said such missiles can fetch many thousands of dollars on the black market.

“We are talking about some 20,000 surface-to-air missiles in all of Libya, and I’ve seen cars packed with them.” he said. “They could turn all of North Africa into a no-fly zone.”

I guess we know what Libya’s major export over the next few years is going to be, besides oil. I agreed that Gadhaffi was a loathsome dictator who mistreated his people and supported terrorism. Worst of all, no one knew how to spell his name. But, at least he was tamed for the last few years. I simply do not believe that the National Transitional Council is going to be much of an improvement and now we are going to have surface to air missiles floating all around the region.

Amish Man Arrested for Sexting 12 Year-Old Girl

June 23, 2011

From CNN. Somehow you wouldn’t think that this would be a problem in the Amish community.

Police in Indiana say they arrested an Amish man who arrived in a horse-drawn buggy for a presumed rendezvous with a 12-year-old girl to whom he had sent sexually explicit cell phone messages.

Officers arrested 21-year-old William R. Yoder on Wednesday, June 15, after he rode up to the Takathemoke Restaurant in Milroy, Indiana, and approached an undercover agent.

“The suspect arrived, in a one-horse carriage as he said he would, was identified by the undercover officer confirming his identity and was taken into custody without incident,” said Connersville, Indiana, police Detective Craig Pennington.

It would seem that Yoder’s community did allow the use of cell phones for “professional” reasons, though the users, obviously, couldn’t charge them at home. I am not sure I follow the logic with this. Cars are forbidden but not cell phones. It would seem that to be safe from the kinds of influences and temptations that modern society offers, they ought to do the opposite, or they could use the kosher cell phones.


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