Support Yasha Levine’s “Surveillance Valley” Kickstarter campaign here.
For the past year-and-a-half I’ve been covering the “Surveillance Valley” beat for Pando Daily — investigating the for-profit surveillance business that powers Silicon Valley and the way this technology is increasingly being used to monitor and control our lives.
My reporting has taken me deep inside the modern surveillance state — a place where where giant tech companies work hand in hand with the military-industrial complex and make billions by spying on our private lives. (more…)
On Friday morning, 23-year-old Paul Ciancia walked into Terminal 3 of the Los Angeles LAX airport, pulled a Smith & Wesson AR-15 semi-automatic rifle from a duffel bag and started shooting his way through a security checkpoint. He specifically targeted TSA agents, killing one screener and wounding three other people before an airport cop took him down with a shot to the face. (more…)
Posted: November 5th, 2013
Ever since Malcolm Gladwell’s “David and Goliath” came out in early October, he’s been on a non-stop promotional tour. He’s appeared on the BBC and the Daily Show, he’s done Twitter group chats and Ted Talk Q&As, and has had negative and positive reviews published in dozens of media outlets, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian. But despite all this PR attention, as far as I can tell, no one’s really described in plain English what the book is about. And that’s just weird…
So let me be the first: The book is about pitying the rich. Its central thesis: being poor, crippled and/or discriminated against helps you succeed in life. (more…)
Posted: October 26th, 2013
Our story begins late last week when I got a tweet from @AlphaInvictus telling me to go check “who’s sponsoring BuzzFeed today.”
I wasn’t expecting much… After all, BuzzFeed’s known for creating custom posts for advertisers, like the “15 Delicious Things You Can Stuff In A Crescent Roll” post it created for Pillsbury. Weird, yes. Possibly even shady, given how BuzzFeed’s sponsored content looks almost exactly the same as its regular posts. But given the scandal over the Atlantic’s advertorial for Scientology, most sites have become ultra-cautious about allowing controversial sponsors to brand their “content.” How bad could BuzzFeed’s latest sponsor be? (more…)
Last week, I wrote about the nation’s first successful “parent trigger” privatization of a public school, in a isolated town on the edge of the Mojave Desert. In that piece, I mentioned how parents and teachers had become disillusioned by the biased reporting of parent trigger in the media.
“No matter what article I read, it seemed to me that the common perspective that was shared was pro-Parent Revolution,” said La Nita M. Dominique, the local Adelanto president of the state teachers union, referring to the outside pro-charter front group that descended on their community and used harassment, deception and thinly veiled threats of deportation to push parents into signing a petition that handed over their kids’ school to a private contractor. (more…)
It’s just past 5 a.m. and I’m sitting in my suite at The Plaza hotel, high up above the grimy streets of downtown Las Vegas. On the horizon, beyond the gold brick Trump Tower, beyond the needle of the Stratosphere, beyond the shimmering lights of the city, I can make out the hazy outline of the Spring Mountain range that separates the Vegas basin from the open Mojave Desert.
In a few hours, I am going to cross those mountains, drop down into California and head in the direction of my next NSFWCORP assignment: I’m moving to Victorville, California, a gnarly desert bubble suburb that inflated faster and popped harder than almost any other place in the West. (more…)
Posted: January 9th, 2013
“Let me say publicly what I said privately earlier today: no person in any country should be detained for exercising universal freedoms of expression, assembly and conscience” —Hillary Clinton in Burma on December 1, 2011
SANTA MONICA, CA: After a bit of good-natured wrangling and legal indemnities on both sides, Paul Carr and I finally agreed to terms last week. Barely had the ink time to dry on my employment contract with NSFWCORP, when I learned that the City of Los Angeles had filed criminal charges against me for reporting on a political protest that happened a year ago. My arraignment is set for December 6, only 369 days after I was bailed out of jail on a $2,000 bond. What’s the rush, right? (more…)
On election day, I woke up before dawn, took a dip in the ocean, made coffee and worked until about noon, when I decided to get the thing over and go vote. I walked five blocks to my polling station, located in the lobby of the Santa Monica Shores apartment towers sitting right on the beach.
It was a warm clear Southern California day. Outside the polling station, long-stemmed palm trees swayed softly in the light ocean breeze.
I could see through the glass doors that there was a long line stretching diagonally across the lobby. I swung the doors open and didn’t take more than two steps inside when I was hit by a gut-wrenching smell–a musky, nauseating mix of rancid beer, rotten fruit and anchovies. The lobby was filled to the brim with pensioners—and one of them had a yeast infection that had gone rogue. (more…)
Posted: November 9th, 2012
Be libertarian one time? Is that the same thing as "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"?
Author’s note: I wrote this brief dispatch about my run-in with libertarian pro-marijuana activist/former judge James P. Gray back in March of 2011. But the piece disappeared into the black void of my computer hard-drive, and I forgot all about it—until now. I’m glad the text turned up, because Judge Gray’s sleazy efforts to bring lefties and progressives into the Libertarian Party fold under the innocuous banner of pot legalization is much more relevant today than it was 2011. After all, Judge Gray is now the running mate of Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson is using the weed wedge issue to siphon off votes from Obama. —YL
The untold story of Jeffrey Goldberg & Meir Kahane, Brooklyn's bin Laden
On August 15, 2012, in West Jerusalem, a small group of Palestinian teenagers was attacked by a mob of Israeli youths. The New York Times
described it as an “attempted lynching.” The Israelis, who had apparently planned on lynching someone that night, set their sights on a couple of Palestinian kids hanging out at a busy city square, chased one of them down and then beat him until his heart had stopped. His name was Jamal Julani, a 17-year-old resident of East Jerusalem. He only survived because a medical student happened to be on the scene and was able to resuscitate him in time. The beating took place in full view of hundreds of people, who stood by and watched without intervening. According to an eye witness in account
in The Jerusalem Post
, ”People who tried to resuscitate the Arab were mocked by the crowd of Jewish youths.” (more…)
I was passing through the Mojave Desert and by chance stopped by a local thrift store in Joshua Tree. I’m glad I did, because I spotted a book that I just had to own. At $0.50, it was priced to sell. And as you can tell from the title above, the book’s a classic. It’s bound to remain fresh and relevant through the ages—not as a useful guide to homeownership, but as a fossil record of the biggest real estate scam in the history of the United States. (more…)
Posted: October 19th, 2012
This article was first published on AlterNet
It’s Nobel Prize season again. News reports are coming out each day sharing the name of the illustrious winner of the various categories — Science, Literature, etc. But there’s one of the prizes that’s a little different. Well, that’s putting it lightly… you see, the Nobel Prize in Economics is not a real Nobel. It wasn’t created by Alfred Nobel. It’s not even called a “Nobel Prize,” no matter what the press reports say.
The five real Nobel Prizes—physics, chemistry, literature, peace, and medicine/physiology—were set up in the will left by the dynamite magnate when he died in 1895. The economics prize is a bit different. It was created by Sweden’s Central Bank in 1969, nearly 75 years later. The award’s real name is the “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.” It was not established by Nobel, but supposedly in memory of Nobel. It’s a ruse and a PR trick, and I mean that literally. And it was done completely against the wishes of the Nobel family. (more…)
Reposted from The SHAME Project
“In propaganda, truth pays off.”
— V.I. Lenin
SHAME’s recent exposé of Newsweek/The Daily Beast correspondent Megan McArdle went into great detail about her deep, close ties to the Kochs’ libertarian influence-peddling machine and her failure to disclose the connections. The most important thing you need to know about Megan McArdle is this: She is the only journalist in America whose byline has appeared on Newsweek and Atlantic Monthly cover stories, while at the same time is so close to Charles Koch that she was chosen to emcee the big 50th Golden Anniversary bash that Koch threw last year to celebrate the success of his libertarian think-tank the Institute of Humane Studies, the first of countless dozens of think-tanks (Cato Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Competitive Enterprise Institute, etc.) that the billionaire oligarch controls today. (more…)
This past Friday, S.H.A.M.E. Project’s expose of Megan McArdle got a shout out from financial blogger/commentator Barry Ritholtz, who called our profile of the Newsweek/Daily Beast hack “one of the most brutal takedowns I have ever seen.” Ritholtz—author of the excellent 2009 book Bailout Nation, frequent Bloomberg TV pundit, and the man behind the popular finance blog The Big Picture—advised his readers that “if you have any interest in media or journalism, it is absolutely must read material.” (more…)
Posted: September 24th, 2012
On Monday, September 10, the Chicago Teachers Union—the oldest teachers union in America—went on strike. Teachers are striking for better pay, smaller class sizes and more job security. They are striking against school privatizations, teaching to standardized testing and the general “corporate reform agenda” of Chicago city officials. The list of enemies aligned against the teachers is long and intimidating: Billionaire hotel heiress Penny Pritzker, Charles Koch, Art Pope, Rahm Emanuel, President Obama and . . . Steven Levitt. Yes, Steven Levitt, University of Chicago economist and author of the wildly successful book Freakonomics. (more…)
Posted: September 12th, 2012
When billionaire brats attack!
One thing I learned from watching last week’s RNC: Being a reporter with a video camera at a GOP convention and doing anything other than sucking up to power . . . well, that just might be the most dangerous journalism job in America today. Hell, people are in danger of being lynched just for reporting while being black. (more…)
As we previously reported, Fareed Zakaria was reinstated by CNN/Time magazine to his post of corporate lackey. But at least one of Zakaria’s colleagues is not happy about it.
About a week ago, Iraq War liar/Palestinian prison camp guard Jeffrey Goldberg accused fellow Iraq War booster Zakaria of even more plagiarism—and not just any plagiarism, but plagiarism of Goldberg’s own interview quotes!
In my previous post, I discussed an incident from 2009 (an incident I had completely forgotten about until it was resurrected by The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times, among others) in which Fareed Zakaria, who is currently under fire for plagiarizing a paragraph from The New Yorker, lifted, without attribution, two quotations from pieces I had written. I argued that quote-lifting, or quote-theft, is widely considered to be a journalistic sin, and should be considered so. Fareed disagrees, and he e-mailed me this response a few minutes ago (at the time, back in 2009, he didn’t respond, and it didn’t come up in subsequent conversaions [sic] I had with him, mainly because I forgot about it, I think).
Zakaria pled for mercy, saying that it wasn’t his fault that the journalism profession is so horribly corrupt and unethical. He’s just one guy, after all. Just a CNN anchor trying to make an honest living shilling for warmongers, neoliberals and multinationals:
Let me give you the best example from my own work: I have twice interviewed the Chinese Premier, Wen Jiabao. These are tough interviews to set up and take months, something years. The interviews were quoted in hundreds of newspapers and magazines across the world. Less then 10% mentioned my name. So, I would welcome a new journalistic norm that insists that the interviewer always be named. But it’s unfair to castigate me for doing something that is common, if not standard, practice.
Want to know more? Check out Jeffrey Goldberg’s S.H.A.M.E. Profile:
Posted: August 21st, 2012
Cross-posted from the S.H.A.M.E. Project
“[The Middle East] is so dysfunctional, any stirring of the pot is good. America’s involvement in the region is for the good. In that way, I’m an immigrant.”
—Fareed Zakaira on invasion of Iraq
After a week on the ropes, Fareed Zakaria is back in the game. Yesterday, Time and CNN announced they had cleared Zakeera of any charges of wrongdoing: “We have completed a thorough review of each of Fareed Zakaria’s columns for TIME, and we are entirely satisfied that the language in question in his recent column was an unintentional error and an isolated incident for which he has apologized. We look forward to having Fareed’s thoughtful and important voice back in the magazine with his next column in the issue that comes out on September 7.” CNN, which is a part of the Time Warner media conglomerate, issued a similar statement: “We found nothing that merited continuing the suspension. Zakaria has apologized for a journalistic lapse.” (more…)
This is the first of a series of posts that will explore and expand on the recovered history of Arianna Huffington recently unearthed by S.H.A.M.E.
Ever since its transformation from a celebrity blog into a mainstream news media outlet, Arianna Huffington has marketed the Huffington Post to the public as a media outlet whose purpose is to leverage social media and new Internet technologies to democratize news and empower the American people by wresting control of news away from corrupt elites. To hear her tell it, you’d think that the Huffington Post was nothing less than a staging area for a populist revolt to reclaim American democracy from corporate rule: (more…)
Malcolm Gladwell on his former roommate Jeffrey Goldberg’s 2006 book Prisoners, which is about Goldberg’s experience as a prison guard at Ktzi’ot, Israel’s largest detention camp for Palestinian political prisoners:
“Jeffrey Goldberg has done the impossible—found some hope in the rubble of the Middle East. Prisoners will bring you to tears.”
Bring tears? Gladwell’s spent the last two decades shilling for an industry involved in the largest mass-murder campaign in the history of mankind, so you know Prisoners got some powerful stuff. And it does:
Ktzi’ot has long been criticized for its inhumane conditions, including frequent beatings, lack of drinking water and forced labor. Among the hundreds of books forbidden to prisoners at Ktzi’ot have been The Lord of the Rings and Hamlet. In the book, Goldberg describes a scene from Ktzi’ot in which his friend repeatedly hit a Palestinian prisoner in the head with a with a heavy, sharp-edged army radio, beating him to a bloody pulp, a beating that Goldberg “deduced was prompted by something [the prisoner] said.”
It was in February 1991, in the Wilderness of Zin, at a place called Ketziot, not far from Kadesh-Barnea, that a friend of mine named Yoram tried, in my presence, to beat senseless an Arab by the name of Abu Firas. Abu Firas was a disagreeable and smug man, but his sourness was not a mortal sin Yoram, whom I knew to be gentle but at that moment had blood in his face, was beating Abu Firas on the head with the handset of an army radio. The handset weighed five or six pounds, and it was sharp-edged. Abu Firas was hurt.
. . . Yoram was a religious Jew, and his kippah, knit and multicolored in the style of the modern Orthodox, stayed pinned to his head through his exertions It was quite a sight—a yeshiva Jew, a God-fearer, delivering a bloody beating.
. . . Abu Firas was on his knees, grabbing at his head. His hair shone with blood. He was barely coherent. He pleaded for water. Yoram tried to jack Abu Firas up onto his feet, but he couldn’t move.
Later in the book Goldberg admits that he lied to cover up the crime: “I found another military policeman, and handed off the wobbling prisoner, who was by now bleeding on me. ‘He fell,’ I lied.” Goldberg also took part in beatings of Palestinian prisoners, but justified it this way: “Unlike [Goldberg's camp-guard friend], I never hit a Palestinian who wasn’t already hitting me.”
This isn’t the first time Malcolm Gladwell has helped his old buddy out. In fact, Malcolm and Jeffrey have a long, rich history that goes back to when they were just two young conservatives trying to make it as media hacks in the big cruel media world of D.C. They roomed together in the 80s, and both of them started off their careers in mainstream news at The Washington Post—Malcolm worked the business beat, while Jeffrey was a police reporter. Later on the two buddies reunited again at The New Yorker. Editor-in-chief David Remnick, also a Washington Post alum, hired Malcolm in 1996, and brought Jeffrey on board in 2000. Somewhere along the way, Malcolm Gladwell introduced Jeffrey Goldberg to the man’s future wife. “[Gladwell's] responsible for the existence of my three children,” blushed Goldberg.
As a token of respect and appreciation, Jeffrey Goldberg included his buddy Malcolm on a list of “Top 50 Philo-Semites,” helping promote his Judeophilic buddy’s newest book Outliers with a link to Amazon just as Outliers was hitting bookstores in November 2008:
Malcolm Gladwell’s Top 50 Philo-Semites
NOV 20 2008, 2:39 PM ET
So, as you have undoubtedly heard, the Forward has chosen me as one of its 50 most influential American Jews. Me, Rahm Emanuel, Sarah Silverman, and Lipa Schmeltzer, among others.
This honor has changed my life, especially the magnificent gift of 1,000 shares of AIG stock from the finance committee of the Elders of Zion. It has also caused heartache. Friends are envious, even non-Jewish friends. For instance, Malcolm Gladwell is very upset. When we were roommates a very long time ago, Malcolm used to listen to the klezmer stylings of Giora Feidman on his record player. He is, in other words, very Jewy. He is also deeply wounded. “I am so jealous,” he wrote. “Shouldn’t there be a parallel list for wanna-bes?”
Yes, there should. If the Forward can publish a list of the top 50 Jews, then Goldblog can publish a list of the top 50 philo-Semites. I don’t have a philosophical problem with this, by the way: I dissent from the line, first passed on to me by Frank Foer, who, tragically, is not a top-50 Jew (though his mother is!), that philo-Semites are anti-Semites who like Jews. So, a list, and one loyal readers can help me assemble. I already asked Malcolm to provide me names of other philo-Semites, but he said: “How do I know philo-Semites? I’m such a philo-Semite I only associate with the real thing.”
Here are a few names, just to get us going:
READ MORE about Malcolm Gladwell and Jeffrey Goldberg at the S.H.A.M.E. Project:
REPOSTED FROM THE S.H.A.M.E. PROJECT
Last week, I got an email from Malcolm Gladwell. He told me he read the S.H.A.M.E. report I wrote about him a few weeks ago, and asked if I had time to answer a few of his questions:
From: Malcolm Gladwell
Date: Tue, 12 Jun 2012 3:56 PM
I recently read your pieces about me. I have a number of questions I’d love to ask you. Do you have the time? Cheers, M.
Steven Levitt, University of Chicago economist, gained nationwide fame and prestige after co-authoring Freakonomics, a pop economics book based partly on Levitt’s original economic research. Published in 2005, Freakonomics became an instant #1 bestseller and spawned an entire Freakonomics media franchise that included a branded Freakonomics blog (hosted on the New York Times website until 2011), a regular segment on the National Public Radio program Marketplace, a Freakonomics movie and, alas, a Freakonomics business consulting company (now called the Greatest Good). (more…)
Cross-posted from the S.H.A.M.E. Project. For a reader’s digest version of this report, check out Malcolm Gladwell’s S.H.A.M.E. Profile…
“I’m necessarily parasitic in a way. I have done well as a parasite. But I’m still a parasite.”
In the vast ecosystem of corporate shills, which one is the most effective? Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda: nuance, obfuscation, distraction, suggestion, the subtle introduction of doubt—these are more effective in the long run than shotgun blasts of lies. The master of this approach is Malcolm Gladwell.
Malcolm Gladwell is the New Yorker’s leading essayist and bestselling author. Time magazine named Gladwell one of the world’s 100 most influential people. His books sell copies in the millions, and he is in hot demand as one of the nation’s top public intellectual and pop gurus. Gladwell plays his role as a disinterested public intellectual like few others, right down to the frizzy hairdo and smock-y getups. His political aloofness, high-brow contrarianism and constant challenges to “popular wisdom” are all part of his shtick. (more…)
A few months back I had a long conversation with Freke Vuijst, a journalist from the lefty Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland, about the history of the Koch clan—specifically, we talked about what I learned during my trip to Quanah, Texas, the shit-kicker corporate railroad town where granddaddy Harry Koch dropped anchor in 1891 and started a family that eventually spawned the two most powerful oligarchs of our time, Charles and David Koch. Freke was working on a story about the pre-USA origins of the Koch family back in the family’s native Netherlands, using Dutch archive material, and she and I compared notes… (more…)
It’s just past 2:00 pm out here in Venice Beach. The sun is out and a cool breeze is blowing from the Pacific Ocean. Outside my window, surfers are walking towards the beach . . . a young woman glides by on her bicycle in daisy dukes and a tank top. There’s a bum lazing around in the shade of a dumpster. But I can’t enjoy the warm spring weather. I’m quarantined in my apartment, my skin is crawling with tiny parasitic mites that have tunneled into my skin and have turned me into a giant breeding vat. I’ve barely slept in days, and I scratched myself raw. And I owe it all to Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa and the fine men and women of the LAPD. Not only did they throw me in jail for covering a political protest, but they gave me scabies, too. (more…)