Posts Tagged ‘journalists’

BuzzFeed Blow-Out: The Media’s ‘Gotcha!’ Hysteria is Harmful to Democracy

January 20, 2019

By lowering journalistic standards, the American press has waged an unrelenting media war against Donald Trump. Often it’s been unfair. But never mind; it sells! And we get lots of “clicks” on social media…. Everybody gets a good laugh….

The Free Press is supposed to govern itself responsibly….


Imagine that a scientist wanted to conduct an experiment to see if it’s true that blind hatred of President Trump has led Democrats and their media handmaidens to go ’round the bend and off the cliff.

Such a scientist would inject a damning — and false — media report about Trump into the political bloodstream, then observe the reactions. It wouldn’t take long.

The Gotcha! glee, the declarations of Trump’s certain impeachment for suborning perjury, reckless references to Richard Nixon, the breathless anticipation of resignation and disgrace, perhaps prison — these and other overheated reactions quickly clogged the airwaves and Internet, growing ever more bold as the day wore on and no compelling rebuttal appeared.

Then, suddenly, the scientist pulled the plug on the experiment. He had seen enough to prove the thesis: Much of America, many of its leaders and some of its most prominent institutions are indeed gripped with madness.

By Michael Goodwin

Hatred for the president has corrupted their judgments and blinded them to duty and decency. Having succumbed to prejudice and rage, they have proven themselves unworthy of public trust.

Case closed.

Sometimes, life is stranger than fiction. Friday was such a day in America. It was a shameful spectacle.

The BuzzFeed News report that special counsel Robert Mueller had corroborating evidence that Trump had instructed his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a Moscow commercial project set the anti-Trump mob on fire. It was the bombshell development Dems and 90 percent of the media have dreamed of — and finally it was here. Oh, Happy Days!

Except it wasn’t true. Mueller said so in an unprecedented debunking that slammed the brakes on the celebration.

Mueller’s statement, though brief, was specific and thorough enough to rip out the guts of the report. It said: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this ­office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

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The site’s editor and others called the statement inadequate, but that was wishful thinking. The party was over because prosecutors denied the sensational central claim of the story, that they had gathered evidence beyond doubt that Trump had committed a crime.

While BuzzFeed alone created the false report, which was based, naturally, on anonymous sources, it was not alone in revealing its desire to be rid of Trump. Much of the political class embraced the story without doubts because they wanted it to be true. Dems in Congress instantly pledged investigations.

Then there are the so-called journalists who swallowed the ­report without trying to confirm it themselves. Many touted it as the Holy Grail while inserting the ridiculous phrase, “if it’s true.”

Not so long ago, no respected journalist or news organization would go public with something unless they had enough evidence to reach the conclusion it was true. The bigger the story, the higher the threshold of necessary evidence.

Not Friday. Then the biggest possible story was presented with the least possible evidence. “If it’s true” is an admission of malpractice.

To use it as a shield while reporting an accusation of massive significance violates every conceivable standard. Real journalists do not report something, then caution that it may not be true.

You certainly don’t accuse the president, or anyone else, of a crime unless you are persuaded by evidence it is true.

I have my doubts the media will do the necessary soul searching. As I have argued repeatedly since 2016, too many outlets are too invested in getting the scoop that brings down the president they love to hate. They have trashed their standards, and Friday was the inevitable result.

But there is another possible silver lining emerging from the dark day, and I have more hope this one will make a difference. It is it a recognition that the endless Mueller probe has become a problem of its own making.

It is not healthy that a prosecutor has become like a divine oracle, with the nation’s mood hanging on first his silence, then his statement. The Wizard of Mueller has no place in our democracy.

Such power is too easily abused, and Mueller, whatever his personal and professional virtues, has gotten too big for America’s good.

Fortunately, he will soon have a real and worthy boss. William Barr is almost certain to be the new attorney general, ending a reign of error that began with the hapless Jeff Sessions and continued with his deputy, Rod Rosenstein.

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William Barr

Sessions’ recusal from the Russia probe because he was a prominent Trump campaign supporter is the bane of the Trump presidency. Rosenstein, for reasons known only to himself and perhaps Mueller, panicked when Trump fired James Comey, the corrupt FBI boss, and decided to appoint a special counsel.

Yet Rosenstein wrote a memo justifying the Comey firing and participated in conversations about it, facts that gave him more conflicts than Sessions ever had. Equally troubling, Rosenstein, a career mid-level prosecutor, proved incapable of properly supervising Mueller, whose reputation and gravitas far exceeded that of his putative boss.

As a result, Mueller has operated without restraint or guidance, with abuses and conflicts of interest on his team swept aside in what too often looks like a determination to knock off a duly elected president.

Barr, I believe, will be the antidote to this destructive situation. He is, as I wrote last week, “a respected adult” who can tame the waters in the Justice Department and get to the bottom of the anti-Trump cabal that has robbed the FBI of its reputation for fair play.

And he will not be a pushover for anyone. Barr, who was AG under the first President Bush, has a first-rate legal mind and a mature self-confidence born of experience, both of which he demonstrated at his confirmation hearings.

“I have a very good life, I love it,” he said in response to a question about his independence, “but I also want to help in this circumstance. I will not be bullied into doing anything I think is wrong by anybody, whether it be editorial boards, the Congress or the president. I’m going to do what I think is right.”

The comments were widely interpreted as a warning to the president, and they were in some sense. But they were also a warning to anyone in Washington who would abuse power and corrupt key institutions for political purposes, whether in the media, Congress or the FBI.

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Robert Mueller

That includes the special counsel. Mueller is not exempt from the laws of common sense and fairness. When it comes to Trump, he must fish or cut bait.

After nearly two years of investigating, on top of a 10-month FBI probe he inherited, Mueller needs to show his cards. The country cannot continue to thrash about with uncertainty over events that took place three years ago. The void is being filled with partisan trash and dangerous discord.

As Friday proved, America needs clarity and finality, and it needs them now.


Democracy depends on a free press — But the Free Press is supposed to govern itself responsibly

In the summer of 1787, the nation’s most influential lawyers, generals and politicians gathered in Philadelphia with a single purpose: To create a government that was ruled by the people instead of one that ruled them.

The first words of the Constitution underscored this principle: “We, the people, of the United States of America . . .”

To protect the people’s power, our Founding Fathers carefully divided the government into three branches. With this system, no one person or governmental branch could ever rule with absolute authority.

The checks and balances provide a framework for the government. However, the cornerstone of our democracy is the unique privilege and responsibility of every citizen to be engaged through voting, public offices, representation in Congress and myriad other ways.

For a society to be responsible and powerful, it must be informed. Our free press, protected by the first constitutional amendment, plays a critical role in ensuring that every American has constant access to important and trustworthy news.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

As he emphasized, this free flow of information to the public is essential to preserving our American democracy. In addition to educating and reporting, the press serves as the public’s independent watchdog, charged with keeping governments, businesses and other organizations in check.

What other institution has the power to talk to key leaders, inspire social change and uncover corruption, while analyzing and providing context for major global events? Thanks to diligent reporting, citizens are empowered to take a stance on critical issues, enact change and demand the best from their leaders.

Recent headlines have demonstrated that we can’t take the power of the press for granted. After it was revealed this summer that the government secretly obtained AP phone records and the email content of Fox News reporter James Rosen, while also ruling that New York Times reporter James Risen must disclose his confidential sources, it became clear that confidential sources and the integrity of the newsgathering process must also be specifically protected.

Without a free press that can defend its sources, American democracy will suffer. The Newspaper Association of America applauded the vote last week by the Senate Judiciary Committee to approve the Free Flow of Information Act for vote in the Senate. This bill represents a critical step in preserving the public’s right to know while still ensuring effective law enforcement.

While we celebrate this, we know that news organizations and the government itself comprise only a piece of the equation. To have a strong democracy and educated citizenry, it is up to you to take advantage of your opportunities to be engaged. It is up to you to stay informed by reading newspapers, visiting their websites or accessing their news apps, and up to you to show up at the polls on Nov. 5.

The Constitution was ratified on Sept. 17, a day that we continue to commemorate every year as the birth of our uniquely American government. There is no better way to honor our Constitution and our founding fathers than by exercising our individual right to be informed.


Free Speech in American Democracy

Speech is not entirely free in Europe. There are certain views you are prohibited from publicly expressing there, and they seem to have well-functioning democracies.

Why must we hold to such an absolutist view on free speech? Are we not giving aid and comfort to the opponents of the republic by allowing them to utter such vile words? Is it not wiser to leaven the First Amendment with a prudent disregard for the fringes?

If we understand free speech in purely liberal terms — i.e. as a self-evident right — then these questions seem to have merit. After all, we restrict other rights for the sake of the public welfare. Most of them can be taken away, so long as it is done so with “due process.” And the process that is due, in many respects, is conditioned by the political, social, and economic climate of the day. Why not speech?

But the First Amendment is not merely an expression of liberal freedom, but of republican freedom as well. The liberal conception of liberty defines it as absence of government interference from your life — or, in its 20th-century evolution, liberty means that the government provides for a certain standard of living. But the republican notion of liberty is different. A free republic is one in which people are governed by laws that they themselves have a hand in making. From this perspective, freedom of speech needs to remain nearly absolute.

To appreciate this, consider the efforts of the man most responsible for the Bill of Rights, James Madison.

Madison was not so much the author of the Bill of Rights, but its editor. He was initially opposed to the project; the structure of the Constitution offered sufficient protection for civil liberty, he thought, and he feared that an enumeration of rights would imply a limitation to them. But the ratifying conventions in many states had approved the Constitution, with suggested revisions. Madison, who viewed these conventions as tribunes of the popular will, took their recommendations seriously. As George Washington’s de facto prime minister during the first session of the First Congress, he refined the wide array of proposals into what ultimately became the Bill of Rights.

In The Federalist Papers, Madison can come across as deeply suspicious of popular government. In Federalist No. 10 he bemoaned the “violence of faction” and sought to design a government that can corral the inherently selfish passions of humanity. In Federalist No. 51, he added checks and balances as “auxiliary precautions” to further thwart misrule.

Yet this is only one side of the Madisonian coin. Admittedly, he wanted to slow the tempo of government down to a crawl, to prevent fractious majorities from railroading minority rights and undermining the public welfare. But he also hoped to promote a robust intercourse of sentiments, so that — in due course — public opinion would cohere around principles of justice and the general welfare. Government had to move slowly and cautiously, but public discourse should be vigorous and unfettered.

“Public opinion,” he wrote in the National Gazette, in December 1791, “sets bounds to every government, and is the real sovereign in every free one.” But in a large republic such as the United States, it is “less easy to be ascertained, and . . . less difficult to be counterfeited.” It was thus key, he argued, to facilitate “a general intercourse of sentiments,” which included roads and commerce, as well as “a free press, and particularly a circulation of newspapers through the entire body of the people.”

In Madison’s view, a free republic depends ultimately upon public opinion. A Constitution could divide power this way and that, but in the end it is the people, and only the people, who rule. And for the people to rule wisely, they have to be able to communicate with one another — freely, without fear of reprisal. Thus, freedom of speech and press were not, for Madison, merely God-given rights. They were preconditions for self-government.

Conversely, Madison believed that those who sought to restrict speech revealed themselves to be opponents of republicanism. They wished to prevent public opinion from cohering, thus making it easier to counterfeit. This is why Madison and Thomas Jefferson — Jefferson himself was a staunch republican — reacted so strongly to the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, which restricted immigration and made it a crime to print “libelous” comments about government officers. Madison and Jefferson’s Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions called for state intervention to correct the abuses of the government (for Madison this implied “interposition,” but for Jefferson it could include “nullification”). Decades later, their resolves would be repurposed for the cause of secession, but they were actually an effort to prevent the Federalist party under John Adams from undermining the very basis of the national republic itself.

Our First Amendment freedoms give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.

Madison’s tenure as president — 1809 to 1817 — has come in for a good bit of criticism over the years. It was, in many respects, an unspectacular administration, in no small part because of the disappointments of the War of 1812. But it is easy to overlook that although Madison was managing a relatively unpopular and difficult conflict, he did not sanction the abridgement of civil liberties. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt — all of whom tend to score higher in historical rankings — did not show such restraint. This speaks well of Madison’s commitment to the importance of free speech.

None of this means that we should excuse the boorish and ignorant among us, those who seek to incite popular unrest for the sake of their small-minded prejudices. Instead, Madison’s commitment to free speech should serve as a reminder that, while people say things that we might find personally offensive, we should never wish the state to squash their right to do so. Our First Amendment freedoms combined — freedom of religion, of assembly and petition, of press and speech — give us the right to think what we like and say what we please. And if we the people are to govern ourselves, we must have these rights, even if they are misused by a minority.

As we confront those who use their right to free speech to abuse the norms of decency and civility, we should calmly recall Jefferson’s admonition from his first inaugural address. “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.”


Media watchdog condemns ‘yellow vest’ attacks on journalists

January 13, 2019

Reporters Without Borders on Sunday called on those who speak for France’s “yellow vest” protesters to condemn numerous attacks and threats against journalists across the country during the latest round of anti-government demonstrations.

“A turning point has been reached,” Christophe Deloire, secretary-general of the Paris-based media rights watchdog, told the BFM television channel.

“We are facing a very serious situation which is threatening to get worse,” he said, after reporters were beaten, kicked and threatened with rape during Saturday’s rallies.

"Yellow vest" protesters in the northern French city of Rouen, where a journalist was beaten by a crowd on Saturday

“Yellow vest” protesters in the northern French city of Rouen, where a journalist was beaten by a crowd on Saturday AFP

“We call on the spokespersons of the ‘Yellow Vests’ to solemnly condemn increasing violence against journalists during demonstrations,” he tweeted.

While he paid tribute to protesters who helped protect journalists, he lashed out at those committing “unacceptable anti-democratic blackmail” who say to journalists that “if you do not cover events exactly as we see them… then we are entitled to assault you”.

On Saturday protesters, some wearing yellow vests, surrounded and beat up a security officer accompanying LCI television reporters in the northern city of Rouen, breaking his nose.

In the southern city of Toulon, two AFP video journalists were threatened by protesters and forced to find refuge in a restaurant.

In France’s second-largest city Marseille, the crowd hurled insults at a video journalist from France 3 television as well as two local photographers, preventing them from working.

In the country’s southeast, a journalist was kicked in the city of Pau, while a female reporter of the French newspaper La Depeche du Midi was threatened with rape in Toulouse.

Overnight Friday protesters had also blocked the printing centre of the L’Yonne Republicaine newspaper and prevented the newspaper la Voix du Nord from being distributed.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner lashed out at the attacks on Twitter.

“In our democracy, the press is free. In our Republic, the freedom to inform is unalienable. Assaulting journalists is an attack on both,” he wrote.

More than 84,000 people turned out for the ninth Saturday of demonstrations against President Emmanuel Macron since November, the interior ministry said, up from 50,000 the previous Saturday.

However, there was a marked decline in violence, despite hundreds of arrests and clashes with police in Paris and other cities.


Needed in the Russia investigation: More skepticism of Manafort and the media (Lynch Mob Doesn’t Need a Rope, At Least Not Yet)

January 11, 2019

Don’t fall for the media “bombshells,” and never count Manafort as a friend.

The Russia-collusion story manages to be at once frenetic and humdrum. Apparent bombshell revelations arise but without advancing the public’s knowledge beyond a couple of truths we all knew back in 2016: First, when it comes to President Trump, the media can’t control itself. Second, Paul Manafort is no friend.

In perhaps the 1,000th “ bombshell” report on the Russia investigation, the New York Times reported earlier this week that Manafort, as Trump’s campaign chairman, had sent internal polling data to Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who is “close to the Kremlin.”

Washington Examiner

This revelation perturbed us. Seeing how close Manafort and Michael Flynn were to both Russia and Trump, we have kept an open mind about the investigation into collusion. We don’t know all the facts, and so we try to process all new information on its merits.

Oleg Deripaska — Credit Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

Yet while many media outlets — see Esquire, Talking Points Memo, and others — took the Times report as conclusive proof of collusion, we held our fire. Why? Because while we have tried to keep cool about this investigation, the largest media outlets have not. We recall ABC reporting that Flynn met with the Kremlin during the campaign. That was a “bombshell” of the first order. Except that it turned out to be false.

And so it was with the latest Times report. Manafort was sending the polling data to Ukranians, it turns out, not to Russians as the Times claimed.

Former National Security Advisor General Michael Flynn leaves after the delay in his sentencing hearing at US District Court in Washington, DC, December 18, 2018. - President Donald Trump's former national security chief Michael Flynn received a postponement of his sentencing after an angry judge threatened to give him a stiff sentence. Russia collusion investigation head Robert Mueller had proposed Flynn receive no jail time for lying to investigators about his Moscow ties. But Judge Emmet Sullivan said Flynn had behaved in a "traitorous" manner and gave the former three-star general the option of receiving a potentially tough prison sentence now -- or wait until Mueller's investigation was closer to being completed to better demonstrate his cooperation with investigators. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images Photo: SAUL LOEB / AFP or licensors

Mike Flynn outside the courthouse

This incident confirmed both of our general operating assumptions on the Russia investigation: Don’t fall for the media “bombshells,” and never count Manafort as a friend.

Manafort went to work for the Trump campaign in the spring of 2016. Trump wasn’t paying Manafort, which should have been a clear warning sign. Manafort was free to Trump for the same reason Facebook is free to you: You are not the customer; you’re the product. Manafort was working for Ukrainian oligarchs and other shady foreign clients, and part of the value he was delivering was proximity to the Republican presidential nominee and the information, such as internal polling, that proximity allowed him.

We have repeatedly warned Trump about this. “Manafort is not your friend,” we wrote in an editorial addressed to the president. “Manafort is a shady foreign agent who tried to exploit you. And if he had never been involved in the Trump campaign, there may not be a Russia investigation at all.”

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There’s some worry that Trump has considered pardoning Manafort. At the very least, we’ve seen Trump praise Manafort. This praise is unwarranted.

Trump should turn his back on this double-dealer who has caused him so much trouble. And we all should show more skepticism of the media “bombshells” that have caused commentators and other reporters so much trouble.

Reuters journalists lose appeal of 7-year sentence in Myanmar — Reported ethnic cleansing, genocide

January 11, 2019

A court in Myanmar rejected the appeals of two Reuters journalists who have been sentenced to a harsh seven-year jail term for violating a state secrets act.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were convicted in September in a troubling case that sparked concerns among human rights groups and raised questions about Myanmar’s commitment to democracy.

“The decision on Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo’s appeal Friday will show whether Myanmar is truly committed to rule of law & freedom of expression,” the Asia Desk of the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote on Twitter before the decision was issued.

Two Reuters journalists were sentenced to seven years in prison for violating Myanmar’s state-secrets law while investigating a massacre of ethnic Rohingya Muslims in western Rakhine state. Photo: AP

“The 2 journalists were jailed for their reporting & exposing a massacre.”

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (L) greets Chinese President Xi Jinping before a meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on August 19, 2016. Photo: AFP/Pool/Rolex Dela Pena

State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi (L) greets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing on August 19, 2016. Photo: AFP/Pool/Rolex Dela Pena

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A family of Rohingya Muslims flee Myanmar after a wave of violence last fall. Photo: Patrick Brown/Panos Pictures/UNICEF

The reporters were covering the country’s ongoing campaign of violence and persecution of the Rohingya people in the Rakhine State of the country.

With Wires

FILED UNDER         

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Aung San Suu Kyi left walks with senior General Min Aung Hlaing. Credit Aung Shine Oo / AP

Chit Suu Win, wife of Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo, reacts after listening to the Myanmar court’s verdict, Sept. 3.
Chit Suu Win, wife of Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo, reacts after listening to the Myanmar court’s verdict, Sept. 3.PHOTO: MYO KYAW SOE/REUTERS

German politicians targeted in mass data breach, cyber attack “attempting to destabilise Germany society”

January 4, 2019


Hundreds of German politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, have had personal details stolen and published online.

Contacts, private chats and financial details were put out on Twitter that belong to figures from every political party except the far-right AfD.

Data from celebrities and journalists were also leaked.

Angela Merkel, Greens leader Robert Habeck and TV satirist Jan Böhmermann have all been targeted by the hackImage copyright GETTY/REUTERS
Image captionAngela Merkel, Greens leader Robert Habeck and TV satirist Jan Böhmermann have all been targeted by the hack

It is unclear who was behind the attack, which emerged on Twitter in the style of an advent calendar last month.

How extensive was the attack?

The true extent of damage caused by the leak is not yet known although Justice Minister Katarina Barley said it was a “serious attack”.

“The people behind this want to damage confidence in our democracy and institutions,” she said.

A government spokeswoman said no sensitive data from the chancellor’s office had been published. MPs, Euro MPs and MPs from state parliaments were affected, said Martina Fietz.

She said the government was not yet certain that the data had been stolen by cyber-hackers. Some reports suggested a lone leaker may have had access to sensitive data through their work.

A cyber analyst told the BBC there was speculation that hackers may have exploited weaknesses in email software to get hold of passwords that those targeted had also used on social media accounts.

Germany’s federal office for information security (BSI) said government networks were not affected, as far as it was aware.

Although nothing politically explosive is known to have been leaked, the sheer volume of personal data involved suggests the consequences could be considerable, says RBB reporter Michael Götschenberg, who researched the attack.

view of the Bundestag (German parliament) and its glass dome, with the monument to the soviet soldier in the foreground on German Unity Day (Tag der Deutschen Einheit) on October 3, 2017 in Berlin, GermanyImage copyright GETTY IMAGES
Image captionMany of those targeted are MPs in Germany’s Bundestag

The now-suspended Twitter account, identified by German media as @_0rbit, was followed by more than 17,000 people and appeared to be operated from Hamburg.

Although documents had been posted on the account from 1 December to 28 December, it was not until Thursday evening that officials became aware of the theft.

Bild newspaper said all the data stolen in the attack dated back to before October 2018 but it was not clear when it began.

Who was targeted?

National and local political figures as well as some TV personalities have had their details stolen.

Data appeared as Advent calendar-style daily releases on Twitter. The first “doors” at the start of December featured TV presenters, then rappers and from 20 December it focused on politicians.

Among those targeted were:

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel: her email address and several letters to and from the chancellor appear to have been published
  • The main parliamentary groups including the ruling centre-right and centre-left parties, as well as The Greens, left-wing Die Linke and FDP. Only AfD appears to have escaped
  • Greens leader Robert Habeck, who had private chats with family members and credit card details posted online
  • Journalists from public broadcasters ARD and ZDF as well as TV satirist Jan Böhmermann, rapper Marteria and rap group K.I.Z, reports say
  • Another TV satirist, Christian Ehring, is said to have had 3.4 gigabytes of data stolen and posted online, including holiday photos. Last year he won a court case brought by AfD leader Alice Weidel, who complained when he called her a “slut” on his TV show.
  • Centre-left SPD MP Florian Post said he felt “quite shocked” by the leak of account statements and other details online, but he added that at least one file that had been posted was fake.

Who was behind attack?

Immediate suspicion fell on right-wing groups in Germany as well as Russia.

German cyber-security analyst Sven Herpig said Russia was a suspect, first because of the method used but also because Germany was facing four state elections in 2019 as well as elections to the European Parliament.

However, the fact that no right-wing politicians were targeted while prominent figures who had criticised them had been, suggested domestic right-wingers may also have been responsible, he told the BBC.

Russia has been accused of cyber-attacks in Germany before.

In 2015, data was stolen from computers in the Bundestag. And last year the government’s IT network came under attack amid reports that Russian hackers were also to blame.

UK-based expert Graham Cluley said the breadth of the latest hack suggested it was a co-ordinated effort involving a determined group over many months.

“This hack clearly isn’t about extortion or financially motivated. This is about attempting to destabilise Germany society,” he told the BBC.


Why there is no need to panic about fake news

January 4, 2019

One Journalist’s View: The phrase has long since ceased to be useful but is deployed as a political cudgel

I worry about a world in which many people believe lies, but I worry far more about one in which many people instinctively refuse to believe the truth.

By Tim Harford

A new year’s resolution for all: stop talking about fake news. Perhaps we should have stopped talking about it at the same time as we started. That, according to Google Trends, was the week after Donald Trump won the US presidential election in 2016, which suggests the interest was driven by astonished people looking for an explanation.

Fake news was not the only scapegoat but it was, and still is, a popular one. It was even named the Word of the Year in 2017 by Collins Dictionary.

Yet the phrase has long since ceased to be useful, and here are five reasons why.

Image result for donald trump, before boarding helicopter, photos

First, fake news doesn’t mean anything — or rather, it means so many different things to different people as to be bewildering. Focus group studies conducted by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism found that people placed various things under the “fake news” umbrella, including annoying pop-up advertisements, politicians making misleading claims, and newspapers with a political slant.

None of these match the original definition of fake news — at least, as I understand it — which referred to stories that were invented to win advertising clicks and impersonated or parodied genuine journalism. The most famous example was when the Pope was “reported” to have endorsed Mr Trump’s presidential candidacy.

Such stories were widely shared, and while some claimed to be humour or satire, the basic motive was monetary. It is cheap to invent lies, and eye-catching lies are a reliable source of clicks and thus advertising dollars. No wonder journalists became irate: for so many outlets, real news had become unprofitable yet fake news is a money-spinner.

But for all the people determined to believe that the Pope’s fictional endorsement had swung the election for Mr Trump, there is little evidence that it — or similar clickbait fabrications — did any such thing. While the most popular fake stories were shared at least as widely as the most popular true articles, that is partly because the fakes were unique while each true article had dozens of imitators or parallels.

A study conducted by economists Hunt Alcott and Matthew Gentzkow found that fake news simply wasn’t as widely shared, seen or remembered as many people think. Close as the 2016 election was, it is unlikely that these stories swung it.

That is the second reason to steer clear of the fake news phrase: in its original form it is aggravating and, occasionally, has constituted incitement to serious violence. But despite a certain degree of moral panic, fake news itself does not pose an existential threat either to democracy or the free press. What does pose such a threat is a draconian response from governments. Is that likely?

The fact-checking organisation FullFact has described the response of some governments, internet and media companies as “frightening over-reactions” — although it adds that the UK government has so far avoided rushed or illiberal measures.

It is all too easy to turn legitimate concerns about false information into a situation where the government decides what can be said and who can say it. We need to be careful that the cure is not worse than the disease — a third reason to avoid panicking about fake news.

The fourth reason is that Mr Trump, with his twisted genius for turning a complex issue into a political cudgel, has deployed the term to demonise regular journalists. Given the number of journalists murdered around the world, including in the US, one might hope for some restraint from the president, but in vain.

Other politicians have also embraced the phrase, including UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn. I worry about a world in which many people believe lies, but I worry far more about one in which many people instinctively refuse to believe the truth.

Here is the final reason to calm down about fake news: it feeds into the tempting but smug assumption that the world is full of idiots. People are sometimes taken in by lies, and some spectacular falsehoods have gained more traction on social media than one might hope.

But if we persuade ourselves that Mr Trump was elected by people who wanted to be on the same side as the Pope, we’re not giving voters enough credit. It is true that most people are disengaged from serious news, and vote with their guts rather than their heads, or being guided by friends rather than a close reading of policy analysis.

That does not make them fools.

There is much to concern me in the current political information environment. I worry (partly selfishly) that it is harder than ever to sustain a business that provides serious journalism. I worry that politicians around the world are doing their best to politicise what should be apolitical, to smear independent analysis and demean expertise.

I worry that there is far too little transparency over political advertising in the digital age: we don’t know who is paying for what message to be shown to whom.

The free press — and healthy democratic discourse — faces some existential problems.

Fake news ain’t one.


More search terms:

James Mattis Wasn’t Ready to Serve in a Democracy

December 27, 2018

After the tributes die down, the outgoing defense secretary will be remembered for recklessly expanding, and covering up, the country’s wars.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis listens while President Donald Trump speaks before a meeting with military leaders in the White House on Oct. 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of Defense James Mattis listens while President Donald Trump speaks before a meeting with military leaders in the White House on Oct. 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

President Donald Trump’s decision to rapidly accelerate James Mattis’s termination as defense secretary by two months was deeply misguided. The outgoing defense secretary had offered enough time to nominate and confirm a replacement, and to prepare that person for forthcoming summits and congressional posture hearings. Trump instead ensured that Mattis was summarily forced out via tweet, rather than in the normal White House or Pentagon transition ceremony.

This latest ignoble act by Trump was immediately invoked to burnish Mattis’s reputation as secretary of defense. Throughout his shortened term, and in the tributes written after his resignation, Mattis was generally spared criticism, because it was believed that he stood up to Trump. (Although there is—thankfully—no evidence he refused a direct order from the commander in chief.)  Mattis was also given a pass because he was a good quote, he sounded super tough, and he enjoyed several glowing media profiles that promoted him as “Mad Dog” or a “warrior monk.”

But Mattis has always been more complex than this simplistic portrait, as his many on-the-record comments made in speeches, press statements, and congressional hearings prove. For anyone willing to assess the entirety of the entirety of the public record, rather than just his supposed private interactions with Trump, Mattis’s legacy as defense secretary is unlikely to match the hagiographic eulogies the media immediately provided on his behalf.

On the positive front, Mattis exhibited many of the best traits that had been demonstrated by previous secretaries of defense. He consistently emphasized the need for diplomacy and negotiated outcomes with regards to Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea, and Yemen. Unfortunately, he said little about how or whether the military was postured to support these aspirations, or what was the strategy to reach that end state. To quote Mattis himself, “If you don’t know where you’re going, good luck when you take off on your journey.”

He also repeated the principles he believed should guide U.S. foreign policy, even when they contrasted with Trump’s. People who had not followed Mattis’s comments found his resignation letter a shocking rebuke to the president. It was even reported that Trump did not have an opinion of the letter’s content until he watched news coverage that portrayed it in a negative light. But the letter was essentially a well-crafted compilation of the principles and values that Mattis had professed countless times before. That the mainstream media and Trump found them shocking indicates that they had not been listening to the Pentagon chief.

Finally, Mattis traveled the world constantly to defend those principles he espoused, and to personally thank deployed service members and their families for their sacrifices. He took tough questions from the assembled soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines; told bad jokes; and referenced historians and philosophers, which he hoped the service members would take the time to read for themselves.


Micah Zenko is Whitehead Senior Fellow at Chatham House and is the author of Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy @MicahZenko

But history will not remember Mattis for what he did from a programmatic or budgetary perspective, but rather the chaotic environment within which he did it. He often had to answer for Trump’s erratic tweets or behaviors. At times he wisely refused to take the bait, but in others he actively defended Trump. For example, stepping outside his military lane in June to defend the supposedly national security-related tariffs imposed by the White House on U.S. treaty allies, Mattis said, “We can’t have a 2 percent on imported cars and other nation have a 10 percent tax on our cars when they’re imported to their country.” Or in December, when he declared, “I have seen all the intelligence we have. We do not have a smoking gun that the [Saudi] crown prince was involved” in the journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder—echoing the White House position. But, most impressively—and unlike other cabinet members—Mattis did not debase himself by groveling in Trump’s presence in front of TV cameras.

It is often overlooked that Mattis oversaw a growth in the wars that he inherited from the Obama administration. There was a steady growth in airstrikes in declared warzones (such as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan), as well as in non-battlefield settings (Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan). There was also an expansion of the U.S. military footprint in the Middle East, from 40,517 troops in mid-2017 to 54,180 by September of that year, according to then-available Pentagon data.

Under Mattis the Pentagon also systematically reduced its overall transparency and accountability. Between October 2017 and October 2018, Air Forces Central Command abruptly stopped releasing data on airstrikes in Afghanistan. When this was approved to be released again, the military had stripped out information on targets without explanation. The decision not to publish this happened shortly after the Bureau of Investigative Journalism released findings that showed that 66 buildings had been destroyed in the previous month—targets more likely to hold civilians. In May 2017, an anonymous military press officer confirmed that the Pentagon would no longer acknowledge when its own aircraft were responsible for civilian casualties; rather they were henceforth attributed broadly to the coalition. In January, the Pentagon ordered the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction not to publish certain data that was marked “unclassified” and available for years. Two months later, the Department of Defense reversed course and permitted the oversight authority to continue releasing the data.

But nothing captured the poor transparency of America’s military commitments under Mattis better than Syria. On Nov. 16, 2017, the director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, claimed there were “about 503” troops in Syria. The following day, the Defense Manpower Data Center quarterly report announced there were actually 1,723. Two weeks later, Defense Department officials reported the figure at “slightly more than 2,000.” What did the military do to resolve this confusing message? In April, the Pentagon simply stopped providing Defense Manpower Data Center numbers for Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan—information that had been published for more than a decade.

In December 2017, Mattis defended supporting the air war in Yemen by telling reporters, “I’m never okay with any civilian casualty. Don’t screw with me on this.” It is wrong for any public servant to berate journalists for asking questions, not to mention that it establishes a poor command climate for the entire Department of Defense.

But, far worse, for somebody who claimed he was not okay with civilian casualties Mattis tolerated an enormous number of them. The most consequential decision Mattis made in this regard was to push the power to approve airstrikes—target engagement authority—to lower levels of command. In May 2017, he claimed, “We do everything we can to protect the civilians, and actually … delegating the authority to the lower level allows us to do this better.” But the evidence published by the U.S. military itself and the United Nations showed that Mattis’s assumption proved false, a fact that no journalist or congressional member seems to have ever questioned him about.

When Trump entered office, U.S. Central Command claimed that “199 civilians have been unintentionally killed” by airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since the war began in August 2014. One year later, the command reported that number as 831, meaning 76 percent of all acknowledged civilian deaths in the bombing campaign occurred in the first year of the Trump administration. (These military estimates were a wild undercount, according to a  groundbreaking investigation by Azmat Khan and Anand Gopal.) Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, U.S. airstrikes caused nearly 70 percent more civilian casualties in Trump’s first six months than the first six months of 2016—during which time total U.S. strikes doubled. Finally, Mattis reversed a George W. Bush administration policy from 2008, instead allowing commanders the discretion to use cluster munitions that have a failure rate of higher than 1 percent, which increases the probability of unexploded ordnance injuring civilians.

In September, when asked if women serving “in combat arms makes us more combat-effective,” Mattis replied with a strange rambling answer about how “it goes to the most almost primitive needs of a society to look out for its most vulnerable,” and how infantry are “cocky, they’re rambunctious, they’re necessarily macho and it’s the most primitive—I would say even evil environment.” Ultimately, Mattis proclaimed that while “there are a few stalwart young ladies,” there was insufficient data to make a judgment, and “clearly the jury is out.”

(Ironically, with even less data to go on and in contradiction to a Pentagon-sponsored Rand Corp. study, Mattis was comfortable telling Trump in a February memo that in the Defense Department’s “professional military judgment … there are substantial risks associated with allowing” transgender Americans to serve in the military. This judgement provided the needed post hoc rationalization for Trump’s Twitter declaration seven months earlier that “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military.”

But, Mattis had already revealed his opinion of women in the military, telling a 2014 audience, “The idea of putting women in [infantry positions] is not setting them up for success,” because “Could you find a few who could do the pullups? Of course you could,” but “Do you really want to mix love, affection, whatever you call it, in a unit where … you’ve now introduced all the affections and the testosterone and the love and everything else that goes into young people?” Women had served with distinction in front-line combat units for years—and as Marines since 1918—before Mattis expressed this embarrassing belief, one that would be immune to data.

In October and December, Mattis claimed that the United States was providing in-air refueling to the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, “so the pilots didn’t feel they had to make a hasty decision about the drop or not to drop, that sort of thing.” This was an attempt to rewrite history in real time, since protecting civilians was not the purpose of the refueling under former President Barack Obama or under Trump. As the Central Commander James Votel explained to the Senate in March, refueling was necessary because it “gives us placement, it gives us access and it gives us influence … with Saudi Arabia,” adding, “They want this type of support, and they want to improve their capabilities.” It was not, as Mattis claimed, to prevent civilian casualties but to literally fuel an air campaign that ensured them by its systematic, indiscriminate nature.

In January, when asked about great power competition with Russia and China, Mattis proclaimed, “We don’t invade other countries … we settle things by international rule of law … we respect these as sovereign nations with a sovereign voice and sovereign decisions.” This claim is totally false—during Mattis’s long and distinguished career, the United States (overtly) invaded or intervened in Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and others, without the approval of their recognized sovereign government. But, far more worrisome is how this historical amnesia is indicative of the general lack of self-awareness demonstrated by most American civilian and military officials. They literally cannot imagine how the world perceives U.S. military aggression, and why it is a flawed strategy to try to constrain China and Russian actions by championing universalist principles, which the United States itself violates.

In June 2017, Mattis told a journalist, “I don’t care for ideological people. It’s like those people just want to stop thinking.” But many comments hinted that he was as ideological as other mortals. In 2014, he stated that “victimhood in America is exalted.” (What news does he read to conclude this?) In 2016, he hinted, “we do not undercut the military battlefield effectiveness with shortsighted social programs.” (“Social programs” meaning the rights of female, gay, or transgender citizens.) That same year, he worried that “policymakers who have never served in the military” would “use the military to lead social change in this country.” (Mattis oversaw Trump’s election-year stunt deployment of 5,600 troops to the southern border.) In 2017, he asserted, “I was on dozens of college campuses in those three [retirement] years, over 30, and they don’t seem to have the degree of almost casual respect for one another. It’s just an inbred thing.” (What?) And, in 2017, he warned Congress, “If we don’t remove the defense caps, then we’re questioning whether or not America has the ability to survive.” (This is unsupported threat-mongering).

In September, Trump opined about the outgoing defense secretary, “I think he’s sort of a Democrat, if you want to know the truth.” But, listening to Mattis talk about the United States and its military, he sounds sort of like a conservative Republican—though he stated, “I’ve never registered for any political party”—and he voluntarily served in a deeply conservative Republican administration. Mattis was confirmed only after Congress agreed to waive a requirement that officers be retired for seven years before becoming secretary of defense. Perhaps future presidents and senators—who confirm Pentagon chiefs—should consider whether 42-year military officers can overcome their deep institutional biases and beliefs, and if they are best suited to be the top civilians leading and overseeing the armed forces.


Hatred stirred by leaders blamed for rise in journalist murders — China, Turkey called worst jailers

December 18, 2018

Hatred whipped up by “unscrupulous politicians” has contributed to the shocking rise in the number of journalists murdered in 2018, a media watchdog said Tuesday.

Eighty journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year — most notably the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi — with 348 in jail and 60 more held hostage, according to figures from Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

“Violence against journalists has reached unprecedented levels this year, and the situation is now critical,” said the organisation’s head, Christophe Deloire.

“The hatred of journalists sometimes very openly proclaimed by unscrupulous politicians, religious leaders and businessmen… has been reflected in this disturbing increase,” he said.

RSF did not directly point the finger at US President Donald Trump, who regularly rails against journalists and has branded some “enemies of the people”


Eighty journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year -- most notably the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi (C) -- with 348 in jail and 60 more held hostage, according to RSF

Eighty journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year — most notably the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi (C) — with 348 in jail and 60 more held hostage, according to RSF Eighty journalists have been killed worldwide so far this year — most notably the Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi (C) — with 348 in jail and 60 more held hostage, according to RSF AFP/File

But Deloire said “expressions of hatred legitimise violence, thereby undermining journalism and democracy itself.”

– US joins blacklist –

The US also became the fifth deadliest country in the world for reporters in 2018 after the shooting of five people at the Capital Gazette newspaper in Maryland in June.

Afghanistan was the most dangerous country for journalists, with 15 killed including AFP’s Shah Marai, followed by Syria with 11 deaths and Mexico with nine.

Deloire said the hate stirred up against journalists is “amplified by social networks, which bear heavy responsibility in this regard.”

“Murders, imprisonment, hostage-taking and enforced disappearances have all increased,” he said, with the death toll of professional journalists up 15 percent after three years of a falling casualty rate.

“Journalists have never before been subjected to as much violence and abusive treatment as in 2018,” Deloire said.

The murders of Khashoggi in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul and the young Slovak data journalist Jan Kuciak and his girlfriend “highlighted the lengths to which press freedom’s enemies are prepared to go,” he said.

Khashoggi’s murder in October caused an international outcry and showed the extremes to which “some people will go to silence ‘troublesome’ journalists”, RSF said.

More than half of the journalists killed were deliberately targeted, the other 31 were caught in violence.

The RSF report said the number of non-professionals killed almost doubled from seven in 2017 to 13 this year.

It said citizen journalists now played a key role in helping get news from countries at war or with oppressive regimes, “where it is hard for professional journalists to operate.”

The overall toll does not include 10 deaths of media workers that the RSF said it was still investigating.

– China, Turkey worst jailers –

China continues to be the world’s top jailer of journalists, the report said, with 60 behind bars, 46 of them non-professional bloggers, some of whom are held in “inhuman conditions for nothing more than a post on social networks.”

The report also condemned “Turkey’s despotic regime” for the “Kafkaesque trials in which journalists are accused of terrorism on the basis of a single word or phone contact.”

With 33 journalists behind bars, it has more professional reporters incarcerated than any other country despite a fall in the number in prison.

The sentencing of three journalists aged 65, 68 and 74 to “aggravated life sentences… under the severest form of isolation, with no possibility of a temporary release or a pardon” was inhuman, it added.

Egypt and Iran also made the blacklist of the worst offenders with 38 and 28 reporters and bloggers in prison respectively.

The RSF condemned Egypt for the opaqueness of its military justice system, saying 30 reporters in detention had not been tried and others are still held even after the courts ordered their release.


Nicaragua police raid opposition paper, end rights groups’ permits

December 16, 2018

Nicaraguan police have raided the offices of an opposition daily and then stripped human rights and activist groups’ permission to operate, those targeted said Saturday.

Nine police officers armed with rifles entered the offices late Friday and started pushing people, beating others and making fun of reporters after journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro challenged them to take on his media outlet without a search warrant in his online daily Confidencial and news broadcasts Esta Semana and Esta Noche, he said.

What you are doing “is just de facto. If you have the order, I ask you to show it,” Chamorro said from the street to the agent who barred him and other colleagues from entering the offices.

“Police did not show any order at all… so this is an armed assault on private property, freedom of the press, freedom of expression and free enterprise,” he later told reporters.

Confidencial’s front door was sealed with tape following the raid. Police seized work equipment and documents.

Riot police stand guard inside of the raided office of journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, critic of the government of President Daniel Ortega in Managua, Nicaragua December 15, 2018. (REUTER)

Chamorro went to the police headquarters to demand the return of equipment, noting that the newspaper and television programs “are private companies attached to the commercial register, and have nothing to do with organizations that are being persecuted.”

The offices of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and four other NGOs in Managua were also occupied, and lawmakers cancelled their permits to operate.

“Brutal display of brute force against journalists from @confidencial_ni in Nicaragua… this regime… aims to demolish critical voices in its country,” Human Rights Watch director Jose Miguel Vivanco said on Twitter.

Leftist President Daniel Ortega first came to power in 1979 as a leader of the leftist Sandinista rebels that toppled the US-backed Somoza family dictatorship. After leaving office in 1990 he returned to power in 2007.


Don’t they do this kind of thing in China?

Committee to Protect Journalists: 251 journalists have been jailed around the world in 2018

December 13, 2018

The Committee to Protect Journalists says at least 251 journalists have been jailed around the world in 2018.

This number, CPJ says, “[suggests] the authoritarian approach to critical news coverage is more than a temporary spike. China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia imprisoned more journalists than last year, and Turkey remained the world’s worst jailer.”

“The majority of those imprisoned globally—70 percent—are facing anti-state charges such as belonging to or aiding groups deemed by authorities as terrorist organizations,” CPJ also says.

“The number imprisoned on charges of false news rose to 28 globally, compared with nine just two years ago. Egypt jailed the most journalists on false news charges with 19, followed by Cameroon with four, Rwanda with three, and one each in China and Morocco. The increase comes amid heightened global rhetoric about ‘fake news,’ of which US President Donald Trump is the leading voice.”

December 8, 2018

A Myanmar court will hear the appeal later this month of two Reuters journalists jailed for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis, a lawyer said Saturday.

Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were found guilty under a state secrets act in September after exposing the extrajudicial killing of 10 Rohingya men during a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state last year.

The pair — who have been held behind bars for nearly a year since their arrest last December — were sentenced to seven years in jail, a verdict that drew widespread condemnation, including from US Vice President Mike Pence. — AFP

Kyaw Soe Oo (left) and Wa Lone after their sentencing in September 2018
Kyaw Soe Oo (left) and Wa Lone have been in prison for one year. AFP photos
December 5, 2018

Turkey is seeking the arrest of two former aides to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who were dismissed amid the fallout from the killing of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency says a court approved arrest warrants for former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani and former deputy intelligence chief Ahmed al-Assiri, who are believed to have overseen the team that killed and dismembered Khashoggi at the kingdom’s Istanbul consulate in October. Saudi authorities say the agents who killed Khashoggi exceeded their authority. — AP

November 23, 2018

Turkey says President Donald Trump intended to turn a “blind eye” to Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder after he said Washington’s ties with Riyadh would not be affected by the incident.

November 22, 2018

US President Donald Trump has doubled down on his partnership with Saudi Arabia, calling it an indispensable ally after a journalist’s grisly murder, but critics say his position ignores Washington’s enormous leverage over Riyadh.

Trump gave Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman a pass on Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, glossing over the Central Intelligence Agency’s reported conclusion that the kingdom’s de facto ruler had authorised the killing. — AFP

November 21, 2018

President Donald Trump says a CIA report into the killing by Saudi agents of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi found “nothing definitive.”

“The CIA looked at it,” he tells journalists at the White House. “They have nothing definitive.” — AFP

November 17, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence has vowed the US would hold the murderers of Jamal Khashoggi to account, following media reports that the CIA had concluded the Saudi Crown Prince was behind the journalist’s killing.

“The United States is determined to hold all of those accountable who are responsible for that murder,” Pence says on the sidelines of an APEC summit in Papua New Guinea. — AFP

November 10, 2018

The killers of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi poured his remains down the drain after dissolving him in acid, a Turkish newspaper reports.

Samples taken from the drains at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul showed traces of acid, pro-government daily Sabah said, without quoting sources.

This led investigators to believe the dead body of the insider-turned-critic of the Riyadh regime was disposed of through the drains as liquid, the paper says. — AFP

November 9, 2018

The fiancee of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has expressed “shock and sadness” over reports suggesting that his body may have been dissolved with chemicals. — AP

October 26, 2018

Turkish president says Saudi chief prosecutor will arrive in Turkey on Sunday for investigation of Khashoggi killing. — AP

October 24, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump says he will be briefed Wednesday afternoon by U.S. officials looking into the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabian agents.

After tomorrow, Trump says, “We’ll know pretty much everything there is to know.”

He calls the killing of Khashoggi “a total fiasco” and says Saudi Arabia never should have thought about killing the dissident Washington Post contributor.

Trump says, “Once they thought about it, everything else they did was bad too.”

Trump is repeating the denials by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he knew of the plot before it was carried out. — AP

October 20, 2018

Amnesty International says the “impartiality” of a Saudi investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi would remain in question after authorities in the kingdom said the journalist died after a fight in the consulate in Istanbul.

Amnesty’s Rawya Rageh says early Saturday the rights group and other organizations have been very clear that what is needed is “an impartial and independent investigation by the U.N. to find out what happened and ensure justice” for Khashoggi.

She said rights groups have been concerned of a “whitewash” in the investigation.

Khashoggi disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi authorities say a fight broke out in the consulate after which Khashoggi died. — AP

October 20, 2018

US President Donald Trump says that he found credible Saudi Arabia’s assertion that dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi died as a result of a fight.

“I do, I do,” Trump says when asked if the Saudis’ explanation was credible, while adding: “It’s early, we haven’t finished our review or investigation.” — AFP

October 19, 2018

President Donald Trump says he now believes journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead and warned of “very severe” consequences should Saudi Arabia be proven responsible. – AFP

October 18, 2018

President Donald Trump says the U.S. is asking Turkey for audio and video relating to missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi “if it exists.” The president on called Saudi Arabia an important ally, noting it is an important customer for U.S. military exports. Turkish officials have said Khashoggi was murdered in the Saudis’ Istanbul consulate, which Saudi officials have denied. U.S. officials say they are taking Khashoggi’s disappearance seriously, but Trump says he has not sent the FBI, stressing that he was not “American citizen.” In an intervie, Trump warned against a rush to judgment, comparing condemnation of Saudi Arabia to the allegations of sexual misconduct against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. — AP

October 18, 2018

The Washington Post has published a new column by Jamal Khashoggi in which he warns that governments in the Middle East “have been given free rein to continue silencing the media at an increasing rate.” The Post published the column Wednesday, more than two weeks after Khashoggi was last seen entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say he was killed by Saudi agents. The Saudi government has denied it. Post Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah says she received the column from Khashoggi’s assistant a day after he was reported missing. Khashoggi writes that actions like imprisoning journalists and seizing control of newspapers “no longer carry the consequence of a backlash from the international community.” He says, “Instead, these actions may trigger condemnation followed by silence.” President Donald Trump has suggested that the global community has jumped to conclusions that Saudi Arabia is behind Khashoggi’s disappearance. — AP

October 18, 2018

The Washington Post plans to publish a new column by missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi in which he discusses the importance of a free press in the Middle East. The WashPost PR Blog says Khashoggi filed the column just before he disappeared. It will be published online Wednesday night in the U.S. Khashoggi was a Post Global Opinions contributor who had written opinion pieces critical of the Saudi crown prince. He was last seen Oct. 2 entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to pick up paperwork he needed to get married. Turkish officials have claimed Saudi agents killed and dismembered him. Saudi Arabia has denied the allegations, but provided no evidence he left the consulate. The Post also plans to publish a page dedicated to Khashoggi in its opinions section Thursday.

September 22, 2018

A newspaper in southern Mexico says one of its reporters was shot to death as he left his home to work on a story.

El Heraldo de Chiapas says journalist Mario Gomez was attacked by two men Friday in Yajalon, a town in a jungle area of Chiapas state near the border with Guatemala.

Gomez is at least the 10th news worker to be killed in Mexico this year. — AP   

September 20, 2018

Unidentified gunmen on motorcycles shot at the house of a Talisay City-based radio broadcaster on Wednesday night, the Bacolod chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines reports.

In a statement, NUJP Bacolod says men on two motorcycles strafed the house of Muews Radio’s Rey Siason in Carmela Valley Homes in Talisay City.

Siason was not in his home at the time as he had stopped along the way home to eat. His daughter, a minor, told him of the incident over the phone, NUJP-Bacolod says.

“We call on the authorities to swiftly investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice,” Marchel Espina, NUJP-Bacolod chair, says in the statement.

In February, Ranilo Azue, also with Muews Radio, was mauled outside the radio station by men believed to be associated with the government.

August 30, 2018

A Mexican television reporter was shot in the resort city of Cancun, the eighth journalist killed this year in a country notoriously dangerous for the media.

Javier Enrique Rodriguez Valladares worked as a cameraman and reporter for Canal 10.

The station says his family had confirmed his death.

News reports in Cancun say he was shot while walking with another man in the central part of the city. Local officials have not released any information about the case. — AFP

July 20, 2018

Broadcaster Joey Llana, 38, was shot dead by an unknown attacker in Daraga, Albay early Friday morning.

Llana, a blocktimer at Legaspi City’s DWZR and known for his hard-hitting commentaries, was shot while he was on the way to work, the Bicol Standard reports.

June 30, 2018

Hundreds of people have gathered in the shadow of the Maryland State House for a candlelight march in memory of five slain newspaper employees.

The mood was somber as Capital Gazette reporter Phil Davis read aloud the names of his five slain co-workers before those gathers began marching through downtown Annapolis.

Some in the crowd carried signs and banners that said “#AnnapolisStrong.”

Melissa Wilson and her husband, Benjamin Wilson, brought their children to the vigil. Melissa Wilson’s employer has offices in the same building as the newspaper and has co-workers who were there when the gunman opened fire. She said many Annapolis residents have a “one degree of separation” connection with at least one of the five paper employees who were fatally shot. — AP

“It’s not something you can ignore when it’s in your backyard,” she said.

Dennis Denora, a Sun.Star reporter and publisher of the Trends and Times community paper, has been shot dead by unidentified killers, according to the Davao chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.

Denora was killed near the wet market of Panabo City in Davao Del Norte on Thursday afternoon, NUJP Davao says.

The Davao del Norte Press & Radio-TV Club says in a statement that is is angered and saddened by news of the killing.

“His death awakens the anger and pains of journalists who do their job and yet are being judged by the pistol,” the group also says.