Protests regarding law that protects Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu from prosecution for corruption

By Penny Hoffmann

Outside a Tel Aviv museum, a pro-democracy protest was held by Israeli opposition leaders.

This protest opposed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent re-election for his fifth term and reportedly accused him of desiring to implement legislation that protects him from prosecution for corruption.

Opposition parties stated that Netanyahu can not continue to be Israel’s prime minister if he is charged for fraud and bribery after he received allegations of corruption.

According to NBC News, on the 28th of February 2019, Netanyahu rejected allegations of corruption:

“The left applied bullish pressure, relentless, i would even say inhuman, on the attorney general in order to make him say that he is considering indicting me pending a hearing even though it’s clear there is nothing, in order to influence the elections, even though he knows this house of cards will collapse after the elections.

“Since the attorney general is just a human, the pressure of the left worked.

“I tell you the citizens of Israel, this house of cards will collapse.

“I am absolutely certain. I am certain of it 4,000 percent.

“I plan on serving you and the state as prime minister for many years.”

According to RT, “He stands accused of possible crimes against humanity because a UN independent commission has ruled that his UK armed soldiers used live ammunition to fire on 6,000 unarmed protesters without justification”.

In the UN commission of inquiry into 2018 protests, Chair Santiago Canton stated that “the commission has found reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli Security Forces committed serious violations of human rights of international humanitarian law.”

Netanyahu’s corruption allegations include:

Case 1000 Indictment

Netanyahu was accused of receiving nearly $200,000 worth of gifts, reportedly mainly boxes of cigars for “his personal use”, from wealthy businessmen in exchange for favors.

He also reportedly received bottles of champagne for his wife.

Two of these businessmen include owner of Consolidated Press Holdings Limited Australian James Packer and Israeli film producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 Indictment

Netanyahu was accused of conspiring to get more news coverage in his favor by collaborating with Arnon “Noni” Mozes, the publisher of the newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth, in exchange for weaker legislation for the newspaper to beat a competing newspaper.

Attorney general Avichai Mandelblit stated the following, according to i24NEWS English:

“Even though you did not request and did not accept the proposal, you did not reject Moses’ proposal, but you continued to lead the matter, promoting the legislation, including ideas you raised during the election period, even though you did not intend to advance the legislation.”

Case 4000 Indictment

Case 4000 is another indictment that regards Netanyahu desiring more media coverage that is in his favor.

It is alleged that Netanyahu reportedly conspired to get “regulatory benefits for Shaul Elovich, owner of Bezeq Telecommunications Company, in exchange for favourable news coverage on his website”, according to i24NEWS English.

According to attorney general Avichai Mandelblit, “in essence, a “give and take” relationship was established between Elovich and Netanyahu:

“On the one hand, Elovich slanted the coverage in Walla to Netanyahu, in an irregular manner, so it will benefit him and companies under his control, including Bezeq, and on the other hand, Netanyahu, using his governmental and executive power in the regulatory field, to benefit Bezeq.”

 

 

FAKE NEWS: An In-Depth Analysis of the Role of the Media and it’s Corruption

By Penny Hoffmann

The media has a huge responsibility as they shape public opinion and affects history. By reporting on or ignoring events, the media contributes to the historical record. Fake news can lead to uprisings that may not even be necessary because the problem doesn’t exist.

In the words of famous author George Orwell in his novel 1984:

“Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.”

Sadly, many are unaware as to how the media works. Critical thinking in relation to the media, particularly in terms of how information is collected and reported on, needs to be encouraged.

In historian Louis Gottschalk’s book titled “Understanding History”, the information collection process is explained:

“Only a part of what was observed in the past has been remembered by those who observed it; only a part of what was remembered was recorded; only a part of what was recorded has survived; only a part of what has survived has come to the historian’s attention; only a part of what has come to their attention is credible; only a part of what is credible has been grasped; and only a part of what has been grasped can be expounded or narrated by the author.”

Prerecorded interviews have many advantages that mostly benefit the media. Editing quotes in interviews makes news reporting flow better and makes those involved look better, but nonetheless it manipulates what people have said. Important points can be left out.

An example of the media editing quotes via prerecorded interviews includes Isaac Butterfield’s interview on The Project in New Zealand.

Isaac Butterfield, an Australian YouTuber and comedian, featured on The Project New Zealand after Facebook took down his video, ‘The Actual Difference Between Australia and New Zealand’, because it was deemed to be racist.

In the interview, Isaac mentions the comedic nature of his video:

“These were polite jabs at the beautiful country of New Zealand.”

One of the hosts tried to dramatize Butterfield’s original video by asking if his content is suitable for his seven-year-old daughter:

“Do you target a specific audience, Isaac? I mean, do you worry who sees the videos? Would it be suitable for my seven-year-old daughter for instance?”

This was Butterfield’s response:

“Ah certainly not. But you as a parent should be in control of what your seven-year-old is watching. There’s far worse things on the internet than poor bearded old me.”

Isaac, in his YouTube video response, discussed the problem with prerecorded interviews; the footage can be edited to make the hosts and anyone the media likes have a better reputation:

“Now you may be wondering… that lady called me a jerk and i just said ‘thanks guys’ and smiled politely. That’s not how it actually happened, that’s an edit. I did hit her back with something, some type of joke, i can’t remember. I should have recorded it just for these type of purposes but, this is the thing with TV, is that they can edit it to make them look fantastic.”

Butterfield also discussed speaking time limits and how they do not capture the interviewee’s full view:

“So there’s a few things that annoyed me about that, was the way they spoke about me when i was off there and didn’t actually let me speak my mind on those certain subjects. Only having a minute and thirty seconds to get my point across… that’s just never going to happen.”

Before these interview even occur, those involved are told what they can and can’t say.

an Australian YouTuber known as “FriendlyJordies”, political commentator and comedian, called out the mainstream media and corporations masquerading as media for making irrelevant jokes and dodging important situations that nations face.

“You know what the media doesn’t do a lot of reporting on? Things that matter. Things that could affect, to quote that German Springfield historian, “you and your children and your children’s children.”

Newspaper journalism is also clearly not exempt from editing. During interviews, notes are either recorded via audio or a notepad. Newspapers are usually heavily structured in terms of the placement of photos, the word limit for the title, byline and general information, for aesthetic purposes. Editors review the articles that their journalists write and make the final alterations before publishing occurs.

To elaborate further, photos are placed in a sequence in order to prevent your eyes from running off the page. Poses by the interviewees for photos (smiles, handshakes, positioning of flags), camera angle, tweaking of photos via Photoshop for example, and choice of background all usually suit the desires of the writer and editor.

It is important to recognize corruption in the media because of it’s important role it has in regards to the historical record. It is usually difficult for beginner journalists to get media jobs, and, because of this, job seekers will sometimes do anything just to have some experience. This means that they can be subject to fraud.

In Queensland, the Federal Circuit Court ordered Touchpoint Media to pay $570,000 as they underpaid twenty three journalists.

Judge Tony Young stated this in his judgement:

“I am satisfied that there was an element of exploitation involved with young employees that would have been less likely to occur with older or more experienced employees.”

Some media companies may not even feature work experience journalists when it comes to photo credit or article drafting, so the author of the article could be the journalist who worked with the work experience student.

The media can be restricted in terms of what they can report on by the government. People who work for the government can even infiltrate the media. People from intelligence agencies have, in the past, employed journalists to collect information from media companies, and sometimes even disseminate misinformation to lead the public astray. This has happened in the US, for example (Operation Mockingbird) where reportedly three dozen American newsmen were either on the payroll or worked in some sort of contract relationship with the CIA beginning from 1973.

On April 27, 1996, the former CIA director who reported on this, William Colby, was found dead in the water after a canoe trip at Rock Point, Maryland. His death was reportedly “accidental”.

The media can even have a really important topic to discuss but not realize its importance by asking interviewees irrelevant questions. For example, Australian Labor politician Bill Shorten’s interview on The Project Australia.

Throughout the interview, Shorten was bringing up serious points, such as this one:

“What people want from me, and what people want from politics in general, is focus on policies that help everyday people.”

But what did one host respond with?

“But, hypothetically, would you think of putting heat lamps in the bathroom?”

Shorten only had less than three minutes to discuss how he is “trying to work out how to avoid another big wipeout, after the Liberals were crushed at the Victorian state election”. Why does irrelevant nonsense need to cut his time to speak? He has an important role as a politician; he helps to run the nation of Australia.

Here is another example of Shorten being asked useless questions during the interview:

Shorten: “Tell you what, the numbers on me were the same before the state election as they are now. But we’re doing pretty well. We’re doing well because we focus on people. More and more i’ve decided between now and the election, talk less about the government and more about the people. People just want us to get on with our jobs, and when your kids can’t get an apprenticeship, or your kids in their twenties and thirties are trying to buy their first home and they haven’t got enough for the deposit because the price of housing is high-”

Female host: “What about the'”

Shorten: “That’s what people are worried about, right?”

Female host: “Mr Shorten, well, what about your sausage eating style? Could that play into it? I mean…”

Some, maybe most or all mainstream media companies have access to police radio transmissions. This is to hear live events such as accidents, which is why the media knows where to arrive in order to cover them. The media is allowed to access this audio to check if emergency services are doing their jobs properly, but also to cover crimes done by the public.

There is a large problem with sponsor-media relations in regards to advertising. Sponsors pay media companies if their products are promoted via advertisement sections in newspapers, on the radio, and in television programs. The media benefits from it’s sponsors because they are their only source of income.

YouTuber FriendlyJordies called out Buzzfeed for not reporting on their own sponsor, Streets Icecream, cutting staff wages:

“When earlier this year Streets Icecream attempted to halve it’s staffs wages, which, thanks to the Liberal party is like chicks dying their hair pastel colours, what happened to the workers at Street’s Icecream could now happen to anyone on the wage, and Buzzfeed refused to report on it because Street’s Icecream sponsors Buzzfeed.”

When showing an article titled “Buzzfeed Crew Shocked to Discover They Have Testosterone Level of a 12-Year-Old Boy (Video)”, FriendlyJordies exposes the corruption mentioned above that many media organisations are guilty of doing, by responding with this:

“Think about how amoral these testosterone-deprived gollums must be when they willingly and consistently withhold information of that magnitude from their readers for money.”

This leads to the following question: who owns the media? The owners are not journalists themselves, or the editors who edit the articles, but rather sponsors who have the power to affect what is reported on via capitalism. Other than sponsors, the law also regulates what the media can and can’t do, but if media companies are subject to corporate powers such as the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), they are protected more.

Rupert Murdoch is an American-Australian media mogul. As the CEO of News Corp, Murdoch controls a media empire comprised of Fox News, The Times of London and The Wall Street Journal. These are just some of the many media companies.

Investigative Journalist Assaulted by Security and Banned from UN for Covering Closed-Session $6-Billion Budget Meeting

By Stefan M. Kløvning

During a closed-session peacekeeping budget meeting in the United Nations early in July, investigative journalist Matthew Lee had his shirt ripped by security guards as he was demanded to leave the building after filming outside the meeting room discussing the budget and potential corruption.

Mr. Lee, the founder of Inner City Press and Fair Finance Watch, covers “the UN & UNSC, IMF, banks being bad” according to his Twitter bio. He has long been critical to the UN, reporting cases of sexual abuse by peacekeepers in Africa, their role in bringing cholera to Haiti, war crimes in Sri Lanka, Burundi, and Sudan, and corruption, and has therefore been referred to as a “thorn in the side of the UN” by the Independent.

He caught the ousting on camera, revealing the way he was treated by the authorities.

At the beginning of the video, he casually walks around the hall outside the meeting room and talks about the meeting, the diplomats, and the budget, with text added to the video describing what happened to him:

As Inner City Press was typing up this interview of UN budget committee chair Tommo Monthe of Cameroon, UN Security Lt Dobbins and another grabbed its laptop and broke it, tore its shirt and UN pass of its neck and SG #AntonioGuterres’ ASG Christian Saunders said it was fine.

After a while, the video cut off, and it turned back on when he was being assaulted by the security guards, making it difficult to assess what sort of provocation could’ve led up to the conflict. When it had paused being physical, Mr. Lee was visibly upset about being treated like this, and asked questions such as “do you see what you’re doing?” “is this your UN?” “is this ok with you? (to ASG),” and tried to reason with them on the absurdity of the situation, only in vain, as they both stepped up on their authority and just demanded that he leave, without justifying his acquittal. “I’m a journalist. I cover the budget committee. I’ve covered it for a decade,” he asserted. “Now that I write about UN corruption these guys tear my shirt off and you sit around saying it’s fine?” As he was being taken outside by the officer, he told him that the officer would’ve been fired if he was an NYPD officer as he wasn’t resisting, and rhetorically asked, “if this is what they do in New York, imagine what they do in Sudan!”

Two days after, 5. July, he was banned from the UN and asking any questions. The spokesman for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Stephane Dujarric, disregarded all wrong done by the officers, and placed all the blame on Mr. Lee, saying he became “loud and belligerent, and resisted instructions of UN security officers,” as if he responded wholly inadequately and that the officers acted wholly adequately.

“Based on his unacceptable behaviour, and the fact that he was a repeat offender, having been similarly removed from the building on 22 June 2018, Matthew Lee has been temporarily barred from the premises pending a full review of this incident.”

Mr. Dujarric also claimed that it was “ridiculous” to suggest that the officers’ treatment of Mr. Lee’s had been influenced by his coverage of the UN.

There’s a lot to be criticized in the UN, as in most powerful institutions, and in a free, democratic society, we should be able to ask such questions and hold them accountable like Mr. Lee does. What is our money going to? Are they being misused somehow? After a decade of coverage of the UN budget, he is no longer able to ask them these questions, at least temporarily. Is that the sort of supranational entity we desire? One that only lets its authority determine its conduct? As Lord Acton said in the 19th century, “Power has a tendency to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

 

Presidential Election To Take Place In Venezuela, But Opposition Has No Chance

By Stefan M. Kløvning

Venezuela, Politics – After five years of Nicolás Maduro of the United Socialist Party (PSUV) ruling Venezuela by decree, the Venezuelans will vote again on Sunday for a new presidential election. Maduro is running for reelection, however, and currently has about 20% of the country’s support, according to polls by Datanalisis. His main contestants in the race are Henri Falcón and Javier Bertucci. Henri Falcón, leader of anti-Chavista party Progressive Advance, is currently in the lead with about 33%, whereas Bertucci is running as an independent with only 18%.

Maduro has repeatedly shown that he doesn’t care about for the democratic process. Last year he disqualified his opposition from running, infuriating the main parties Justice First, Popular Will, and Democratic Action. According to Reuters, his administration ironically later accused the opposition of not running solely because ‘it knows it will lose,’ and claimed the elections to be completely transparent. Furthermore, in an election last year determining who would ‘rewrite the nation’s Constitution and rule Venezuela with virtually unlimited authority until they finish their work’ – of a list of government allies, including Maduro’s wife – the vote was altered by at least a million votes according to Smartmatic, the software company responsible for setting up voting systems for the country. There are countless instances of such corruption occurring in the country, for instance with anti-Maduro neighborhoods getting a shortage of polling stations in a gubernatorial election in October, and thus being ‘robbed of votes’ according to opposition activists.

This has made many Venezuelans lose trust in the political system in the country, causing much of the opposition to plan to boycott the vote. According to Gallup, 75% of Venezuelans believe that corruption is widespread in the Venezuelan government. Venezuela is also rated 18/100 on corruption by Transparency International (where 0 is most corrupt). The Venezuelans are in a difficult situation, especially those suffering from the failure of the Socialist policies implemented there, but they seem to have preferred Chavéz over Maduro, with 58% approving of Chavéz, whereas Maduro only got 34%. This is a rather strange statistic as Maduro inherited a country on top of the world misery index from Chavéz in 2013. He somehow managed to literally make the country seven times worse, moving it from 79.4 to 573.4 on the misery index and becoming the 57th country to hyperinflate at the end of 2016. That statistic seems also to have doubled for the measurement of 2017. According to the opposition-controlled National Assembly, they’ve now reached nearly 14,000% in annual inflation. Maduro tries to solve the problem by printing more money, taking his country down the same road as Zimbabwe (which reached an incredible 79.8 billion percent month-over-month inflation rate in mid-November 2008 and as a result stopped printing money in 2009). How does he still manage to get support? He puts the blame on American sanctions.

To which degree, then, has American sanctions influenced the Venezuelan economy? There are four main pieces of American legislation that has instated sanctions on Venezuela under the rule of Maduro, two of which came after Trump entered the White House. The Venezuelan Human Rights and Democracy Protection Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in May 28, 2014, which directed sanctions against officials involved in the mistreatment of protesters in Venezuela. Former President Obama also declared Venezuela a threat to its national security in 2015, and issued an executive order ‘aimed at persons involved in or responsible for the erosion of human rights guarantees, persecution of political opponents, curtailment of press freedoms, use of violence and human rights violations and abuses in response to anti-government protests, and arbitrary arrest and detention of anti-government protestors, as well as the significant public corruption by senior government officials in Venezuela.’ The executive order states that the property and interest in property of the people described are blocked from the United States, and prohibits U.S. citizens from engaging in transactions with such individuals or entities. State.gov describes the executive order as not targetting the people or economy of the country, but only those matching the criteria mentioned above. It might be said that the government and economy is so packed with corruption and authoritarianism that the sanctions had such an effect, but it would still take much to argue that these sanctions alone are the reasons for Venezuela’s score on the world misery index has increased by a factor of seven within three years. After Trump took over as President, he has gotten quite a bad name among the Maduro administration after saying that he’s ‘not going to rule out a military option’ in confronting them for their human rights violations and deepening crisis. He has also passed two executive orders instating additional sanctions against the country, which further restricted Venezuela’s ability to make transactions with the U.S. and its citizens. That’s what they get back after giving him half a million dollars for his inauguration!

An exclusive report by Reuters released on Friday also revealed that more Venezuelan soldiers have rebelled and deserted in the run-up to the vote. ‘Some soldiers are planning how to flee the country or fretting about how to feed their families on a minimum salary of just $2 a day,’ they conclude from interviews with serving and former soldiers. They also found that hundreds had left the Venezuelan army last year and that the number of soldiers detained for treason, rebellion, and desertion has risen three-and-a-half times from the four first months in 2017 to the same period this year.

Does Maduro’s opposition stand any chance? Henri Falcón may be in the lead in the polls, but as explained above, the election results in Venezuela often become – to a big degree – more what the administration wants them to be rather than what the voters demand. As a former soldier in the army, Falcón stands as the main opposition against Maduro, observing that ‘The same thing is happening in the barracks as is happening in the slums: people are going hungry; they are suffering an overwhelming crisis.’ Falcón was once a Chavista and a member of the PSUV but has later turned critical to both Chavéz and the party, causing him to resign in 2010. TeleSUR claimed indirectly, however, that his resignation might also be linked to his being investigated on corruption charges the year before. They don’t mention any specifics about the investigation, but it might be linked to the Maduro administration using similar tactics as Frederic 3. applied in Denmark-Norway in 1660, ousting the disloyal on corruption charges (as everyone in the administration is more or less corrupt), and placing in more loyal members. Falcón created Progressive Advanced in 2012, which has gotten allies both from the leftist Movement Towards Socialism, right-wing Venezuelan Ecological Movement and the Christian Democrats (COPEI). A lot of support from COPEI has, however, moved over to the evangelical candidate Bertucci for this election. There doesn’t seem to be much hope for Bertucci in the election according to the polls. Falcón fares far better there, but it would be rather naïve to think that the Maduro administration will be shy on their tactics in gaining victory in this key election.