Freelance NSA Spies Private Conversations

NSA Spies

NSA Spies

Thanks to Edward Snowden, we know that the National Security Agency collects the phone records of every American in order to keep the country safe from terrorism. But for the past eight months a group of artists claiming to work for the NSA on “a freelance, pro bono basis” have been recording people’s private conversations in popular bars, restaurants, and gyms in Lower Manhattan to ensure that no actionable intelligence falls through the cracks.

“We’re looking for terrorism, we’re looking for signs of plots and schemes that could put the homeland at risk,” one of the group’s “agents” tells us.

The project’s website, We Are Always Listening, includes snippets of actual conversations recorded by tiny, hidden tape recorders placed in The Brindle Room, Café Mogador, and the Crunch Gym in Union Square, among other popular public spaces.

In the recordings, a group of men talk about how a friend is “trying too hard to be one of us,” a woman complains about paying more than $2,000/month in rent, and a man describes a former boyfriend’s fetish: “He wanted me to like, fake double over in pain. Like we’re doing a scene from Batman Returns.”

None of the recordings contain any last names or other forms of information that would allow the people in the recordings to be directly identified, but first names flow freely.

“The reason we broadcast small, small, small, fractions of what we’ve gathered is because we’ve also heard members of the American public say they want a more transparent window into how data is collected,” said the “agent,” who asked to speak anonymously because New York State law requires the consent of at least one party in order to record a conversation (as Governor Cuomo famously discovered).

“Our agents would dispute that having a conversation at a restaurant or a gym is private. There should not be an assumption of privacy.”

The Manhattan DA’s office declined to comment on the group’s activities.

The project is seemingly designed to shake Americans (and, based on the locations the group placed their recorders, the Downtown bourgeoisie) out of their torpor with respect to how the NSA collects data and the federal government’s reliance on millions of independent contractors with security clearances.

“We imagine people are fine with this type of surveillance,” the “agent” said, tongue firmly in cheek. “The general public has mostly spoken in a unified voice saying, well, it’s just what you need to do to keep the country safe.”

For those who believe that posting audio of private conversations online is wrong, or that it surpasses what even the NSA considers appropriate, a button marked “Angry?” on the group’s website directs users to the ACLU’s website that allows you to contact your federal representatives and urge them to kill the portion of the Patriot Act that allows for the NSA’s blanket surveillance (the Senate recently voted to block a bill from the House designed to curtail the government’s collection of phone data).

The “agent” told us that New Yorkers should expect more leaked conversations. If you’ve hung out at 61 Local in Cobble Hill recently, you might want to keep your eye on the group’s website: a tape recorder has been listening there for some time.

 

Source:  gothamist.com

News organization allows government officials to censor

The New York Times Admits That Virtually Every Major News Organization Allows The News To Be Censored By Government Officials:

The New York Times Admits That Virtually Every Major News Organization Allows The News To Be Censored By Government Officials

The New York Times Admits That Virtually Every Major News Organization Allows The News To Be Censored By Government Officials

 

 

In one of the most shocking articles that the New York Times has ever put out, a New York Times reporter has openly admitted that virtually every major mainstream news organization allows government bureaucrats and campaign officials to censor their stories.  For example, almost every major news organization in the country has agreed to submit virtually all quotes from anyone involved in the Obama campaign or the Romney campaign to gatekeepers for “quote approval” before they will be published.  If the gatekeeper in the Obama campaign does not want a certain quote to get out, the American people will not see it, and the same thing applies to the Romney campaign.  The goal is to keep the campaigns as “on message” as possible and to avoid gaffes at all cost.  But this kind of thing is not just happening with political campaigns.  According to the New York Times, “quote approval” has become “commonplace throughout Washington”.  In other words, if you see a quote in the newspaper from someone in the federal government then it is safe to say that a gatekeeper has almost certainly reviewed that quote and has approved it.  This is another sign that “the free and independent media” in this country is a joke.  What we get from the mainstream media is a very highly filtered form of propaganda, and that is one reason why Americans are turning away from the mainstream media in droves.  People want the truth, and more Americans than ever realize that they are not getting it from the mainstream media. The following quote comes from the recent article in the New York Times mentioned above and it is absolutely jaw dropping….

The quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative.

They are sent by e-mail from the Obama headquarters in Chicago to reporters who have interviewed campaign officials under one major condition: the press office has veto power over what statements can be quoted and attributed by name.

Most reporters, desperate to pick the brains of the president’s top strategists, grudgingly agree. After the interviews, they review their notes, check their tape recorders and send in the juiciest sound bites for review.

The verdict from the campaign — an operation that prides itself on staying consistently on script — is often no, Barack Obama does not approve this message.

This is an article that everyone needs to read.  If you have not read it yet, you can find it right here. What all of this means is that both the Obama campaign and the Romney campaign essentially have “veto power” over any quotes from those campaigns that we see in the newspapers. According to the New York Times, virtually every major news organization has agreed to submit their quotes for “quote approval”….

It was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly. Organizations like Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all consented to interviews under such terms.

This is absolutely disgusting, and it goes against everything that our media is supposed to stand for. The following is what Joseph Farah had to say when he learned about this story….

All I can say about these people I once considered “colleagues” is that I am so ashamed of them. I am mortified. They are humiliating themselves and a vital institution for any free society.

It seems the biggest threat to the American tradition of a free and independent press is not government coercion. It’s the willing submission of the press to being handled and managed by government and politicians.

Keep in mind that Joseph Farah has been working in the world of journalism for decades.  He is deeply saddened to see what is happening to a profession that he deeply loves. But he is not the only one. Just check out what Dan Rather had to say during a speech back in 2009….

“At my age and stage I’ve finally reached the point where I don’t have to kiss up to anybody,” he said. “What a wonderful feeling it is.”

Even so, his talk emphasized what he believes is the erosion of quality journalism, because of the corporatization, politicization, and “trivialization” of news. Those three factors, Rather argued, have fueled the “dumbing down and sleezing up of news” and the decline of “great American journalism.”

Likening media consolidation to that of the banking industry, Rather claimed that “roughly 80 percent” of the media is controlled by no more than six, and possibly as few as four, corporations.

And Dan Rather is right.  The control over the media in the United States is more tightly concentrated than ever before. Back in the early 1980s, approximately 50 corporations essentially had nearly total control of the media in the United States. Today, just six monolithic media corporations dominate virtually everything you watch, hear and read. These six gigantic corporations own television networks, publishing houses, movie studios, newspapers, radio stations, music labels and video game companies.  Most Americans are absolutely addicted to information and entertainment, and those six massive corporations supply the vast majority of the information and entertainment that Americans take in. The amount of control that those six corporate giants have is absolutely incredible.  For example, the average American watches 153 hours of television a month.  If you can beam 153 hours of “programming” into someone’s head each month, that gives you an awesome amount of influence over that person. The six monolithic corporations mentioned above are Time Warner, Walt Disney, Viacom, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., CBS Corporation and NBC Universal. There are some areas of the media that are not completely dominated by those corporations, but even control over those areas is becoming more highly concentrated than ever. For example, Clear Channel now owns over 1000 radio stations across the United States.  The power that Clear Channel has over the radio industry in America is absolutely staggering. Even control over the Internet is becoming much more concentrated.  Giant corporations such as Facebook, Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are increasingly controlling what we see and hear online. But it really is the “big six” that dominate most of what we see, hear and read on a daily basis.

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Today, six colossal media giants tower over all the rest.  Much of the information in the chart below comes from mediaowners.com.  The chart below reveals only a small fraction of the media outlets that these six behemoths actually own….

Time Warner

Home Box Office (HBO)
Time Inc.
Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.
Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
CW Network (partial ownership)
TMZ
New Line Cinema
Time Warner Cable
Cinemax
Cartoon Network
TBS
TNT
America Online
MapQuest
Moviefone
Castle Rock
Sports Illustrated
Fortune
Marie Claire
People Magazine

Walt Disney

ABC Television Network
Disney Publishing
ESPN Inc.
Disney Channel
SOAPnet
A&E
Lifetime
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Buena Vista Theatrical Productions
Buena Vista Records
Disney Records
Hollywood Records
Miramax Films
Touchstone Pictures
Walt Disney Pictures
Pixar Animation Studios
Buena Vista Games
Hyperion Books

Viacom

Paramount Pictures
Paramount Home Entertainment
Black Entertainment Television (BET)
Comedy Central
Country Music Television (CMT)
Logo
MTV
MTV Canada
MTV2
Nick Magazine
Nick at Nite
Nick Jr.
Nickelodeon
Noggin
Spike TV
The Movie Channel
TV Land
VH1

News Corporation

Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Fox Television Stations
The New York Post
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Beliefnet
Fox Business Network
Fox Kids Europe
Fox News Channel
Fox Sports Net
Fox Television Network
FX
My Network TV
MySpace
News Limited News
Phoenix InfoNews Channel
Phoenix Movies Channel
Sky PerfecTV
Speed Channel
STAR TV India
STAR TV Taiwan
STAR World
Times Higher Education Supplement Magazine
Times Literary Supplement Magazine
Times of London
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
20th Century Fox International
20th Century Fox Studios
20th Century Fox Television
BSkyB
DIRECTV
The Wall Street Journal
Fox Broadcasting Company
Fox Interactive Media
FOXTEL
HarperCollins Publishers
The National Geographic Channel
National Rugby League
News Interactive
News Outdoor
Radio Veronica
ReganBooks
Sky Italia
Sky Radio Denmark
Sky Radio Germany
Sky Radio Netherlands
STAR
Zondervan

CBS Corporation

CBS News
CBS Sports
CBS Television Network
CNET
Showtime
TV.com
CBS Radio Inc. (130 stations)
CBS Consumer Products
CBS Outdoor
CW Network (50% ownership)
Infinity Broadcasting
Simon & Schuster (Pocket Books, Scribner)
Westwood One Radio Network

NBC Universal

Bravo
CNBC
NBC News
MSNBC
NBC Sports
NBC Television Network
Oxygen
SciFi Magazine
Syfy (Sci Fi Channel)
Telemundo
USA Network
Weather Channel
Focus Features
NBC Universal Television Distribution
NBC Universal Television Studio
Paxson Communications (partial ownership)
Trio
Universal Parks & Resorts
Universal Pictures
Universal Studio Home Video

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Please keep in mind that the list above is not exhaustive.  It only contains a sampling of the companies that those six corporate giants own. So are you starting to get an idea of how powerful they are? If you ever wondered why the version of “the news” that you get is so similar no matter where you turn, it is because control of the news is concentrated in just a very few hands. So who controls the “big six” media corporations? Would it surprise you to know that the boards of directors of those big media corporations have a tremendous amount of overlap with the boards of directors of large banks, large oil companies and large pharmaceutical companies? The following is from the Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting website….

Media corporations share members of the board of directors with a variety of other large corporations, including banks, investment companies, oil companies, health care and pharmaceutical companies and technology companies.

You can find a list that shows how these boards of directors overlap and interlock right here. The giant media corporations are not going to criticize the establishment because they are the establishment. The messages that these media behemoths pound into our heads are going to be the messages that the establishment wants pounded into our heads. Anyone that believes that the mainstream media is “independent” and that it does not have “an agenda” is being delusional. Of course it is also worth mentioning that much of what we get from the mainstream media is also often directly controlled by the federal government. Former Washington Post reporter Carl Bernstein (of Woodward and Bernstein fame) has discovered that hundreds of American journalists have worked directly for the CIA. Not that the federal government and the establishment are opposed to one another.  The truth is that they very much work together hand in hand.  But sometimes the federal government has slightly different priorities than the corporate establishment does. In any event, the key point to take away from all this is that the news and entertainment that we all enjoy on a daily basis if very highly censored and very highly controlled. It is imperative that we understand that those that own and control the media are trying to shape society in a certain way.  They want to impose their values and their vision of the future on all the rest of us. You will notice that none of the major news organizations speak out against the “Big Brother” police state control grid that is going in all around us. Instead, they insist that all of this added “security” will keep us safe even as our liberties and freedoms are being badly eroded. You will notice that none of the major news organizations speak out against the population control agenda of the global elite. Instead, they insist that more “family planning” will help the environment and make the world a more prosperous place for all of us. You will notice that none of the major news organizations speak out against the Federal Reserve and none of them are warning us about the financial collapse that is rapidly approaching. Instead, they tell us to keep having faith in the system and they promise us that everything is going to be okay. Well, you can mindlessly believe the corporate media if you want, but I believe that in this day and age it is absolutely imperative that we all learn to think for ourselves. Don’t be a mindless robot for anyone. Think for yourself and make your own decisions. The truth is out there and you can find it if you are willing to go search for it.

Anti-jihad ‘savage’ ads New York City subway

Anti-jihad ‘savage’ ads going up in New York City subway:

JIHAD___FLAG

JIHAD___FLAG

A provocative ad that equates Muslim radicals with savages is set to go up in the city’s subway system as violent protests over an anti-Islamic film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad sweep over much of the Muslim world. A conservative blogger who once headed a campaign against an Islamic center near the Sept. 11 terror attack site won a court order to post the ad in 10 subway stations next Monday. The ad reads, “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” The ad was plastered on San Francisco city buses in recent weeks, prompting some artists to deface the ads and remove some of the words, including “Jihad,” or holy war. The blogger, Pamela Geller, said she filed suit Thursday in the nation’s capital to post the ad in Washington’s transit system after officials declined to put up the ad in light of the uproar in the Middle East over the anti-Islam film. Abdul Yasar, a New York subway rider who considers himself an observant Muslim, said Geller’s ad was insensitive in an unsettling climate for Muslims. “If you don’t want to see what happened in Libya and Egypt after the video — maybe not so strong here in America — you shouldn’t put this up,” Yasar said. But “if this is a free country, they have the right to do this,” he said. “And then Muslims have the right to put up their own ad.” Geller, executive director of the American Freedom Defense Initiative and publisher of a blog called Atlas Shrugs, called an order by a federal judge in New York allowing the ads “a victory for the First Amendment” and said she wasn’t concerned that her ad could spark protests like the ones against the depiction of Muslims in the video “Innocence of Muslims.” Violence linked to the movie has left at least 30 people in seven countries dead, including the American ambassador to Libya. “If it’s not a film it’s a cartoon, if it’s not a cartoon it’s a teddy bear,” she said. “What are you going to do? Are you going to reward Islamic extremism? I will not sacrifice my freedom so as not to offend savages.” New York police aren’t anticipating adding any security to subways when the ads go up and have received no threats or reports of violence relating to them, chief spokesman Paul Browne said. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York initially refused to run Geller’s ad, saying it was “demeaning.” But U.S. District Court Judge Paul Engelmayer ruled last month that it is protected speech under the First Amendment. “Our hands are tied,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said. “Under our existing ad standards as modified by the injunction, the MTA is required to run the ad.” Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, backed publication of the “patently offensive” ads. “More offensive would be their censorship because that would violate the guarantee of free expression of all ideas regardless of how distasteful they are,” she said. Geller said the subway ads cost about $6,000. Donovan said they will be up for a month. Opponents say the ads imply that Muslims are savages. “We recognize the freedom of speech issues and her right to be a bigot and a racist,” said Muneer Awad, the executive director of the New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. But he said he hopes elected officials and the MTA, which runs the nation’s largest mass transit system, “take on a leadership role in denouncing hate speech.” Geller, as head of a group called Stop Islamization of America, helped spur a monthslong campaign two years ago to remove a planned Islamic community center blocks from the World Trade Center site, which she called the “ground zero mosque.” Plans to build a larger center are pending, although Muslims still have regular prayer services at a mosque in the building. When the ad ran in San Francisco from Aug. 13 to Sept. 4, transit officials took the unusual step of running disclaimers on the sides of the buses, while some artists painted over “Jihad” or photoshopped pictures that said instead, “Defeat Racism.” Geller’s group has also placed ads in Metro-North Railroad stations north of New York City that read: “It’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.” The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority hadn’t seen Geller’s lawsuit on Thursday, spokesman Dan Stessel said. The agency told Geller the ad would be “deferred” because of the ongoing violence in the Middle East, he said. “To be clear, we have not rejected the ad,” Stessel said, but “merely asked the advertiser to be sensitive to the timing of the placement out of a concern for public safety, given current world events.”