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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fox 'News' Owner Testifies in Phone Hacking Scandal & has Pie Thrown in Face - Obama Continues Bush Policies - Republicans Push Islamophobia - Conservative Media Lies, even about Lightbulbs! - Climate Change - People Won't Believe Truth

- News of the World phone-hacking whistleblower found dead
    Sean Hoare, the former News of the World [owned by Fox "News" Rupert Murdoch] showbusiness reporter who was the first named journalist to allege that Andy Coulson was aware of phone hacking by his staff, has been found dead
- Fox "News" Tries to Obscure the Fox Hacking Scandal with Stephen Colbert comedy video
    Rupert Murdoch owns News Corp and Fox "News" and several Right-wing newspapers around the world. Recently it was discovered they had hacked into people's phones, bribed police, and committed many other crimes. The first reporter to uncover this was just found dead.
    Recently a Rupert Murdoch/Fox "News" associate appeared on Fox "News" stating that the Rupert Murdoch/News Corp phone hacking scandal wasn't big news, because after all other companies have been hacked. This incident alone should make viewers of Fox "News" permanently turn off the channel for the blatant dishonesty of the comment, but sadly many won't fathom it. Fox dishonestly compared the phone hacking scandal to incidents of major companies being hacked into. The difference was that Fox "news" parent company, who did the hacking, was the hacker! Something they conveniently avoid in Fox "News' coverage of the story.

    Stephen Colbert comments.
- Republican Rudy Giuliani: Rupert Murdoch 'a very honorable, honest man'
    Rudy Giuliani says that he can't imagine Rupert Murdoch had anything to do with the phone hacking scandal, including allegations that News Corp. properties breached the phones of 9/11 families:
- Brooks Arrested In Phone Hacking Probe
    She was editor of the News Of The World (NOTW) when missing schoolgirl Milly Dowler's phone was hacked and messages were deleted. The teenager was later found murdered.
    Mrs Brooks is the tenth person to be arrested in connection with the NOTW scandal since detectives reopened their investigation earlier this year.
- Rupert Murdoch gets Burma-Shave pie in the face
    Testimony by Rupert and James Murdoch before a Parliament committee was interrupted Tuesday morning when a man in a checked shirt attempted to shove a plate full of shaving cream into Murdoch’s face.
- Violent Storms Make 2011 'One for the Record Books,' Insurance Price Hikes Under Way
    This year is one for the catastrophe record books, insurance officials said yesterday, describing 2011 as the "year of the tornado."
    The number of thunderstorms and their damaging sidekicks -- hail and twisters -- has been rising rapidly for 30 years in the United States. But the first half of 2011 is threatening to push this year into first place for financial losses, which reached $23.6 billion from thunderstorms. That's a new record for any year between January and June.
- Greenpeace "Polluting Democracy" Released
    Today Greenpeace released a report, “Polluting Democracy,” featuring 15 members of the Dirty Money Team - Members of Congress who often work for polluters with money instead of their voters.
- Connecting Extreme Weather Dots Across the Map
    The question before us now is not whether the natural disasters making headlines across the United States are somehow connected, but why we are so reluctant to connect them.
- The risks of the Keystone XL pipeline
    The Yellowstone River, dubbed "America's last best river" by National Geographic, is, or was, a pristine 700-mile waterway through Montana and Wyoming that's considered among the best trout streams in the country. So it's little wonder that Montanans and environmentalists were horrified on July 1 when up to 1,000 barrels of oil spilled into the river downstream from Yellowstone National Park, fouling miles of riverbank. The culprit was an Exxon Mobil pipeline buried under the river that was apparently compromised by erosion from this year's unusually heavy water flow.
- Ralph Nader: Obama Is a "Political Coward" For Not Picking Elizabeth Warren to Head Consumer Bureau
    After months of fierce opposition from Wall Street, corporate lobbyists and Republican lawmakers, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officially launches this week in Washington, D.C. A product of last year’s overhaul of financial regulation, the Bureau was established to protect consumers from deceptive practices. Republicans have sought to weaken its reach with a number of restrictive measures, including granting other regulatory bodies veto power over the bureau’s decisions. This week, Republicans scored another victory with President Obama’s announcement of his choice to head the bureau. Obama has tapped former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray instead of Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard professor who first proposed the bureau and has overseen its establishment for the past year.
- Republican Presidential Frontrunner Mitt Romney's Muslim Phobia
    I asked Mr. Romney whether he would consider including qualified Americans of the Islamic faith in his cabinet as advisers on national security matters, given his position that "jihadism" is the principal foreign policy threat facing America today. He answered, "…based on the numbers of American Muslims [as a percentage] in our population, I cannot see that a cabinet position would be justified. But of course, I would imagine that Muslims could serve at lower levels of my administration."
    Romney, whose Mormon faith has become the subject of heated debate in Republican caucuses, wants America to be blind to his religious beliefs and judge him on merit instead. Yet he seems to accept excluding Muslims because of their religion, claiming they're too much of a minority for a post in high-level policymaking. More ironic, that Islamic heritage is what qualifies them to best engage America's Arab and Muslim communities and to help deter Islamist threats.
- More Evidence of Romney's Bigotry Surfaces
    This is about way more than Romney being hypocritical and politically incorrect. It's about how he'd conduct his foreign policy, in which there are few things more important than having a fair and balanced (heh!) understanding of the Islamic world.I've believed for some time that Romney is the most dangerous of the current Republican candidates, and so hopefully this will be his "Macaca Moment".
- Conservative Media Misled Light Bulb Consumers At Least 40 Times In 7 Months
    In at least 40 instances since the beginning of 2011, conservative media outlets wrongly told consumers that the light bulb efficiency standards scheduled to take effect in 2012 will require them to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
- Trawls and Trash Represent One-Two Punch for Threatened Turtles [Slide Show]
    Studies have identified plastic pollution and fishing practices as major threats to sea turtles for several years.
- How the U.S. government uses its media servants to attack real journalism by Glenn Greenwald
    Scahill's discovery of this secret prison in Mogadishu -- this black site -- calls into serious doubt the Obama administration's claims to have ended such practices and establishes a serious human rights violation on its own. As Harper's Scott Horton put it, the Nation article underscores how the CIA is "maintaining a series of 'special relationships' under which cooperating governments maintain[] proxy prisons for the CIA," and "raises important questions" about "whether the CIA is using a proxy regime there to skirt Obama's executive order" banning black sites and torture. 
    Despite the significance of this revelation -- or, more accurately, because of it -- the U.S. establishment media has almost entirely ignored this story. Scahill thus far has given a grand total of two television interviews: on Democracy Now and Al Jazeera. No major television news network -- including MSNBC -- has even mentioned his story. Generally speaking, Republicans don't care that the worst abuses of the Bush era are continuing, and Democrats (who widely celebrated Dana Priest's 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning story about Bush's CIA black cites) don't want to hear that it's true. [UPDATE: MSNBC finally interviewed Scahill about this story recently- see below]
- The Obama Doctrine: Drones, Targeted Killings and Secret Prisons
    The Bush Doctrine was that the world was our battlefield—we were at liberty to carry out drone attacks and unlawful interrogations throughout the world. But many Americans may be surprised to discover that far from fading away with the former president, these policies have in fact expanded and intensified under President Obama.

    As The Nation's Jeremy Scahill explained on MSNBC's Morning Joe today, Obama has succeeded in normalizing and legitimizing these policies that were considered illegal in the extreme only a few years ago. Recounting his recent investigation of increasing CIA involvement in counterterrorism efforts in Somalia, Scahill says we have to decide, "are we a country that operates under the rule of law or do we believe we're emperors who can wage war on the world?"

Setting the Record Straight Almost Impossible
By Branwen Morgan
Published July 11 2011 on

The effect of misinformation on memory and reasoning cannot be completely eliminated, even after it has been corrected numerous times, say Australian psychologists.

Assistant Professor Ullrich Ecker and colleagues from The University of Western Australia outline their findings in a recent article published in Psychonomic Bulletin and Review .
Ecker says this effect, known as 'continued influence effect of misinformation', occurs even if the retraction itself is understood, believed, and remembered.

In their latest set of experiments, which builds on previous research, the researchers manipulated the strength of both the provided misinformation and the later retraction.
Repetition was used to more strongly encode the misinformation. Cognitive loading, when attention is divided between two tasks, was used to weaken or dilute the messages.

More than 160 undergraduate students were recruited and randomly placed in test groups of approximately 20. They were given a news report based on a warehouse fire.

Initially, the fire was reported to have been caused by volatile materials negligently stored in a closet, but subsequent reports stated that the closet was empty.

"Some were also given another task to distract them a bit and then we give them a questionnaire, which checks basic memory for what they read," says Ecker.

"Most importantly, they are then tested with inference questions that target part of the event they read about and can be answered by using the misinformation."

As expected, the team found stronger retractions were effective in reducing the effects associated with strong misinformation encoding; but they failed to eliminate it even when the misinformation was weakly encoded.

"Despite best efforts to correct misinformation it can't be completely eliminated," says Ecker.

Unerasable damage

According to Ecker, there are two types of misinformation; that which is intended to mislead (for example lies and propaganda); and that which has no underlying motive. The latter includes unfolding news events or crime investigations when information comes in a piecemeal fashion and may require future correction.

Both are subject to the continued influence effect.

The researchers explain that this effect has implications for a number of real-world scenarios, such as the avoidance of MMR vaccine due to fears over autism, or when jurors are called upon to discount the last witness testimony or disregard evidence.

"If you make them [jurors] suspicious of why that information was presented in the first place, such as by saying it was a deliberate attempt to mislead you, then they can more readily dismiss it," says Ecker.

"Also, if you explain to people that corrected misinformation will continue to influence their thinking to a larger extent than most of us are aware of, that can also help to reduce the effects of the misinformation."

Unchanging beliefs

Ecker says they have also studied a number of other factors such as strongly-held beliefs (worldview) and emotion on the continued influence effect.

While emotion was found to have no significant effect, someone with a strong opinion is unlikely to change it.

"If you believe in something strongly and it's really important to you as a person [your worldview] you will cling to that no matter what," Ecker remarks.

He says one example of this is climate change.

"People who believe strongly in the free market, those opposed to any kind of regulations … will be much more likely to continue to believe humans are not causing climate change even in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are causing climate change."