Why Is New York City Planning to Sell and Shrink Its Libraries?

Defend our libraries, don't defund them. . . . . fund 'em, don't plunder 'em

Mayor Bloomberg defunded New York libraries at a time of increasing public use, population growth and increased city wealth, shrinking our library system to create real estate deals for wealthy real estate developers at a time of cutbacks in education and escalating disparities in opportunity. It’s an unjust and shortsighted plan that will ultimately hurt New York City’s economy and competitiveness.

It should NOT be adopted by those we have now elected to pursue better policies.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Coming June 1st - Forum (The second) Where Do You Get Your News? What Are The Channels of Public Information Communication You Can Plug Into?

The first forum was great so we are having the second Friday June 1st.  Citizens Defending Libraries is all about people getting the information they need and should have.  (Use the links below to listen to a high quality recording of the first forum.)
Forum (The Second): Where Do You Get Your News? What Are The Channels of Public Information Communication You Can Plug Into?

Friday, June 1, 2018, 7:00 PM to 8:45 PM
First Unitarian Universalist Congregation Chapel
119-121 Pierrepont St, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Join a discussion to exchange information and ideas about how you get your information about important events in the world.  Where do you go to seek reliable news and complete information?  Should the country’s main stream media have reported the recent succession of unprecedentedly calamitous weather events without mentioning climate change?  Does a media drumbeat for war seem off-base? Do we hear about its cost?  Picking up newspapers, do you feel like you are reading compiled corporate press releases? As much of media ownership is consolidated in fewer corporations and when a wealthy few with disinformation agendas like the Kochs buy up ownership of outlets like Time magazine, where does truth take refuge to be found?  If your media literacy tells you that the most important part of narratives you are being served is what has been edited out how do you find what fills in the blanks?  Let’s identify what kinds of critical stories go unreported and how can we find out about them.

Conversely, when things need to become news, need to be known by the general public, what channels are there to transmit that information?  When structural reforms need to be made in our society they cannot be made unless we are able to exchange information about the changes that are needed: Serviceable channels for circulating information may be our threshold basic need.  How reliable is social media as an avenue for transmitting information and in what ways is it deceptively not?
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Facebook Event Pages To Share and Say You Are Coming

There is Facebook Event page posted for this event that you can share:
•        One Facebook Event Page is posted by Citizens Defending Libraries (if you click on "see all posts" on the event page there are postings of relevant articles for discussion).
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A Grist For Thought Sheet For the Forum

See if the sheet below helps you think about and prepare for the forum.

Grist for thought.  (Click to enlarge- You can also print it.  Or you can save the image to zoom in on it.)
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Here are links you can use to listen to a high quality recording of the first forum held March 4th.*
(* The discussion was moderated by Citizens Defending Libraries co-founder Michal D. D. White.)

You can listen to a recording of the forum (one hour twenty minutes): Where Do You Get Your News? (audio via Dropbox) or Where Do You Get Your News (audio via Soundcloud) or
Where Do You Get Your News (audio via Chirbit).

Audio on Soundcloud below.

Audio on Chirbit below

Check this out on Chirbit  

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Here is a link to listen to a very relevant recent speech by Mickey Huff of Project Censored about the present state of the mainstream news media in the United States:
Fake News and the Truth Emergency - A Speech by Mickey Huff
Another recent spellbinding speech listen to that is also quite relevant to potential discussions is by Peter Phillips, who has also been involved in Project Censored, discussing the central topic of his soon to be published new book, the concentration of power and increasing unequal distribution of resources that is affecting messages that are being disseminated to the world’s public.  (Do you know how much total wealth in the world and who has most of it and in what proportions?)
Giants - The Global Power Elite
What do you know about the six conglomerate companies that own almost all the media?  Here is a link to read about them (National Amusements, Disney, TimeWarner, Comcast, Newscorp, SONY): The 6 Companies That Own (almost) All Media.

Do you know which of these which of these conglomerates have what ties to military, industrial surveillance complex investments?

Here from the above article are the media holdings just of Comcast:

Do you know what the alternative media is if you want to turn to sources other than the mainstream media conglomerates.  Are they the sources of news that Google has not been censoring?

Here is a list of outlets that recently suffered, became more obscure and harder to find when Google implemented new algorithms (its "Project Owl") to direct people away from them and to more mainstream outlets typically owned by the conglomerates:

Sites that Google is suppressing (Project Owl):
   •    DemocracyNow!
   •    Alternet
   •    Naked Capitalism
   •    Counterpunch
   •    TruthOut!
   •    Truthdig
   •    Consortium News
   •    World Socialist Web Site
   •    The Socialist Worker
   •    Common Dreams
   •    Wikileaks
   •    The Intercept
   •    Media Matters (Media watchdog site)
   •    Black Agenda Report
   •    Russia Today (and particularly its 9/11 and Operation Gladio coverage)
   •    International Viewpoint
   •    Global Research
Project Censored has another longer list of alternative media sites: Project Censored List of Independent News Outlets.

Here are sites that have been outlets to publish work that has won Winners of the Izzy Award (The Izzy Award from- Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College is named after maverick journalist I. F. Stone. Presented annually for "special achievement in independent media," the Izzy Award goes to an independent outlet, journalist, or producer for contributions to our culture, politics, or journalism created outside traditional corporate structures.)-
    •    2017- Mother Jones &The Nation
    •    2016-  INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS, and the Invisible Institute, Democracy Now!
    •    2015- The Nation and The Guardian
    •    2014- Independent journalists JOHN CARLOS FREY (for reporting on U.S./ Mexico border deaths) and NICK TURSE (for reporting on civilian casualties of U.S. wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan). And the first members of the newly-established I.F. Stone Hall of Fame were inducted: GLENN GREENWALD and JEREMY SCAHILL.
    •    2013- Mother Jones
    •    2012- Democracy Now,  Center for Media and Democracy
    •    2011- Truthdig.com and City Limits
    •    2010- The Intercept, The Nation and Democracy Now!.”       
    •    2009- Democracy Now!
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An advertisement run in New York Magazine by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization  (UNESCO) honoring World Press Freedom Day, a day to remind a reminder people of the countries around the world where the press and the news are censored: “Don’t just read New York, Read. .” and the list it gives is The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Economist, USA Today, National Review, BBC News, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Chicago Tribune, New York Daily News, because “It all starts with a free press.”  But how representative of a truly free uncensored free press is this list of corporately owned, mostly mainstream, mostly legacy publications?
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A Banned Segment from Saturday Night Live (click through for best viewing)

The 1998 Robert Smigel animated short film "Conspiracy Theory Rock," part of a March 1998 "TV Funhouse" segment, has been removed from all subsequent airings of the Saturday Night Live episode where it originally appeared. SNL producer Lorne Michaels claimed the edit was done because it "wasn't funny". The film is a scathing critique of corporate media ownership, including NBC's ownership by General Electric/Westinghouse.

 SNL Banned Episode ~ Media Controlled Conspiracy Theory Rock ~ from DianeDi on Vimeo.  (If this video is deleted yet again by those who continue to seek to ban it you may have to search to find it.- Your library is unlikely to have a reference copy retained and available under the doctrine of fair use.)

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List of journalists fired or self-exiled from mainstream media outlets because they expressed or wanted to express views unacceptable to the outlets they were working for:

•        Phil Donahue- Legendary television host fired from his top-rated program by the “supposedly liberal” MSNC in 2003 during the run up to the Iraq War because he was expressing anti-war views.

    •    Bill Maher- Fired by ABC from his “Politically Incorrect” program for not saying exactly the right things about 9/11 in its aftermath.  He said that terrorists “staying in the airplane” that was to hit a building could not described as “cowardly.”  Since that time Maher has been has been doing Real Time With Bill Maher on HBO where he has always been careful not to be anti-corporate and has, as well, been careful about what he says about 9/11.

    •    James Risen- Risen was a reporter for the New York Times.  He and another Times reporter, Eric Lichtblau, wrote a story about the  secret illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of the American public by the George W. Bush administration that won the New York Times a Pulitzer Prize in 2006, but the Times originally suppressed that story.  Risen now works for the Intercept.

    •    Robert Parry- An award-wining American investigative journalist (and finalist for the 1985 Pulitzer Prize) best known for his role in covering the Iran-Contra affair for the Associated Press (AP) and Newsweek.  In 1995, Parry self-exiled himself from mainstream media to found Consortium News (the Consortium for Independent Journalism Inc.)

    •    Ed Schultz- Fired from the position if MSNBC in the spring of 2014 host after bridling about things such as directions he received from MSNBC management concerning what to cover and not to cover, including directions not to cover the Bernie Sanders campaign, including Sanders’ announcement that he was going to run for president.  Schultz now works for RT where he says he has far more freedom to cover what he wants how he wants.

•        Gary Webb- A journalist forced to resign from the San Jose Mercury News in 1997 and subsequently railroaded out of journalism with the CIA working at it in the background after Webb wrote a 1996 series uncovering the CIA's role in importing cocaine into the U.S. to secretly fund the Nicaraguan Contra rebels through the manufacture and sale of drugs in the U.S.  Pressured to drop pursuit of his story Webb published his evidence in the series "Dark Alliance" for which the national Society of Professional Journalists voted Webb "Journalist of the Year" for 1996.  Webb had earlier contributed Pulitzer Prize winning work at the paper.   He subsequently experienced a vicious smear campaign during which he found himself defending his integrity, his career, his family that ended in his unfortunate death.  Later revelations about CIA involvement in illegal drugs coming into the United States validated and amplified what Webb was the first to report.

    •    Seymour Hersh- It is observed that Hersh has been “increasingly marginalised and his work denigrated” although he once worked for the New York Times Washington Bureau to report such stories as the Watergate scandal, and exposed the My Lai Massacre and the US military’s abuses of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.  Hersh has been forced from one outlet to another, each outlet more remote from where U.S. citizens are likely to learn what he is reporting: Publication of Hersh's work has moved from the New Yorker, to the London Review of Books to the German publication, Welt am Sonntag.  Thus the American public is unlikely to learn about Hersh's most recent reporting that although a sarin gas chemical weapons attack in Syria was used as an excuse for Trump's recent order of a “retaliatory” strike against the country, there was zero evidence of such an attack.  Similarly, previously reporting, based on what Hersh's contacts within the security and intelligence establishments, revealed that Assad's alleged use of sarin gas in Ghouta, outside Damascus in 2013 also failed to stand up to scrutiny.  In between the Hersh's reporting on these alleged sarin attacks mainstream media reacted in a suspectly ostracizing way to Hersh's scoop about ways in which the public was misled respecting the reported killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.  Even in the London Review of Books the bin laden story immediately attracted so much attention it reportedly crashed the LRB servers. (In the fascinating Netflix "Wormwood" documentary by Errol Morris, which is about the still mysterious 1953 death, subsequent coverup and probable assassination by our government of an American scientist and Central Intelligence Agency employee participating in a secret government biological warfare program, Mr. Hersh explains what he is and isn't willing to report about events within the very secret intelligence community without sufficient sourcing.)

    •    Peter Arnett (and Producers April Oliver & Jack Smith)- Arnet, a Pulitzer Price who worked for CNN for 18 years and was famous for reporting from Baghdad during the Gulf War was, he said “muzzled,” and then fired by CNN, like his producers April Oliver and Jack Smith they did entitled "Valley of Death," (and a more senior producer resigned), because of an investigative report (a joint production of CNN and Time magazine), presenting evidence about how Army special forces venturing into Laos in September of 1970 used sarin gas in an operation to kill American soldiers who had defected into Laos from Vietnam.

•        Dan Rather (and his producer Mary Mapes)-  Dan Rather and others including his "60 Minutes" program producer Mary Mapes were fired by CBS (Rather's was a slow-burn firing) when covering the 2004 presidential election campaign they were subject to criticism for alleged liberal bias in reporting a basically true story about preferential treatment of George W. Bush in the National Guard (1968 to 1973 during which time Bush did not show up for a medical exam and stopped fulfilling his flying commitments).  The criticism leading up to the firing focused on the fact that documents with which the newspeople had been supplied to support their story were likely faked in whole or in part by somebody, possibly in a dirty trick intended to sucker them.  When a 2015 feature film, "Truth," starring Cate Blanchett and Robert Redford was made dramatizing the issues and events with respect to the firing CBS refused to run advertisements for it.

 •        Chris Hedges- Hedges was another award winning journalist working with a team to win a Pulitzer Prize for the New York Times in 2002.  Amnesty International gave him an award that year for international journalism.  He’s worked for Christian Science Monitor, NPR and was a foreign correspondent for the Times for fifteen years.  Hedges, under pressure from the Times, was forced to leave the Times in 2003 (listen at 14 minutes) because he had been denouncing the those urging the U.S. forward to its invasion of Iraq.  (Hedges was an early critic of the war.- We invaded in March of 2003.)  Hedges now writes for Truthdig and is a host of “On Contact” for RT.          

 •        Ashleigh Banfield-  NBC fired news journalist Ashleigh Banfield, host of “MSNBC Investigates,” from MSNBC in 2004 after officially scolding her in the spring of 2003, and thereupon banishing her, because she criticized her TV news colleagues for “sugarcoating Iraq war coverage with patriotism and not showing the reality of the conflict.”  She had criticized  “cable news operators who wrap themselves in the American flag and go after a certain target demographic.”

 •        Marc Lamont Hill- In November, 2018, Mr. Hill, an American academic, author, activist, and television personality, a Professor of Media Studies and Urban Education at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was fired from his position as a commentator for CNN twenty-four hours after he expressed his opinion on the Arab–Israeli conflict before the U.N. saying that Palestinians have a right to resist their occupation by Israel through international boycotts of Israel and to defend themselves from the Israeli military.  This point of view was considered unacceptably anti-Israel (while some tried to cast his view as being antisemitic). The coverage by FAIR, Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting, is especially insightful and detailed, plus it includes a call to action.

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"Deniable censorship"  as contributor to the hijacking of our democracy- Supermajorities of Public  (70%+) go unrepresented.

On key issue after issue, a very long list, the American public is progressive by polls exceeding 70%.  But the public and those huge majorities don’t get represented by their elected officials.  The nonresponsive elected officials are instead accountable to moneyed interests and enact contrary policies.  They are aided and abetted in this hijacking of democracy by a corporate mainstream media ruled by “deniable censorship” (to use Julian Assange’s term).   

Here is a description of the “pyramid of censorship,” “deniable censorship” provided by Julian Assange in his 2012 book “Cypherpunks.”  It was read Saturday evening April 20, 2019 on WBAI by Chris Hedges at the end of his show “On Contact.”
My experience in the West is that it is just so much more sophisticated in the number of layers of indirection and obfuscation about what is actually happening. These layers are there to give deniability to the censorship that is occurring. You can think about censorship as a pyramid, This pyramid only has its tip sticking out of the sand, and that is by intention. The tip is public— libel suits, murders of journalists, cameras being snatched the military, and so on– publicly declared censorship. But that is the smallest component, Under the tip, the next layer is all those people who don't want to be at the tip, who engage in self-censorship to not end up there. Then the next layer is all the forms of economic inducement or patronage inducement that are given to people to write about one thing or another. The next layer down is raw economy— what it is economic to write about, even if you don't include the economic factors from higher up the pyramid.  Then next the next layer is the prejudice of readers who only have a certain level of education, so therefore on one hand they are easy to manipulate with false information, and on the other hand you can't even tell the something sophisticated that is true.  The last layer is distribution— for example, some people just don't have access to information in a particular language. So that is the censorship pyramid.
If you want to hear Hedges reading this on his show you can also go to the beginning of this video:
The Censorship Pyramid - Chris Hedges reads Cypherpunks by Julian Assange

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Do you know about these media watchdog sites?:
    •    Project Censored
    •    FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting) and Counterspin
    •    Media Matters
    •    On The Media (? WNYC)
    •    OffGuardian (watches the Guardian.)
    •    Jimmy Dore Show (also on YouTube)
    •    Atlantic Yards Report (Former Times Report and now Atlantic Yards Pacific Park Report- Watches New York City real estate reporting and started by watching the New York Times slanted reporting of the Atlantic Yards Project)  
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Here is what is offered as a “Media Navigator” by Swiss Propaganda Research that “classifies more than 60 news outlets based on their political stance and their relationship to power” noting that, “in many cases, the latter is more significant.”  Swiss Propaganda Research (SPR) describes itself as “an independent research group investigating geopolitical propaganda in Swiss and international media.”
Noting the position of different news media outlets on the x/y chart, particularly the posited "relationship to power" (including "The Nation," "The Intercept," "Democracy Now," "Mother Jones," and "Counter Punch") can be thought provoking.  Also provoking thought is the fact that arranging the square icons on the grid with this symmetrically doesn't not allow nuance or for two outlets to have an identical ranking- Still it works fairly well.

Click to enlarge
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There is fast news and there is the slow absorption of news and information that puts it in context that can come from books.  As for books, Citizens Defending Libraries has previously posted giving examples about how important books have been suppressed: Books As Catalysts In A World Where Information And Points of View Are Often Suppressed.  NYU professor Mark Crispin Miller created Forbidden Bookshelf as a way of allowing the public to find and read controversial books that, almost impossible to obtain, are about subjects that have effectively been censored.

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Have you considered how less news might be better a better way to be informed; that addicts to the 24/7 news cycle may want, instead to read classic books to help them understand current events because of how the 24/7 news cycle is addicted, with it voracious appetite to “access journalism,”   which is inherently biased to be flattering to those in power.  That problem is compounded by the unfolding censorship crisis that is making the internet as a source of news increasingly treacherous, which mainstream outlets mat not be concerned about at all.  More here:
On The Media Interview With Dean Starkman: The Difference Between "Access Reporting" and "Accountability Reporting" Explains How Very Important Things DON'T Get Reported- Plus Consider The Censorship Crisis 
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Facebook (and social media generally?)— Reliable filters for the news that will influence you?

Facebook has acknowledged experimenting with its influence on voter turnout and voter biases.  Before the 2016 election Facebook altered its algorithms (without `colluding with the Russians’)  so that deceptive news stories favoring Trump were more prevalent in its ecosystem.

If this is as troublesome as it sounds, what might be the solution? . . . .   

FAIR’s May 25, 2018 Counterspin program lacerated this treacherously counterproductive proposed solution.
Facebook announced it’s partnering with D.C. think tank the Atlantic Council to `monitor for misinformation and foreign interference.’ The details of the plan are vague, but the council has stated the goal is to design tools `to bring us closer together, instead of driving us further apart,’ whatever that means.  Behind it’s bland name, The Atlantic Council is associated with very particular interests: It’s funded by the U.S. State Department, Navy, Army and Air Force, along with NATO, various foreign powers and major Western corporations, including weapons contractors and oil companies.  Fair’s Adam Johnson notes that what diversity of opinion exists is largely about how much and where U.S. military and soft power influence should be wielded, not if they should. But, with the exception of Splinter, news outlets showed no curiosity at all about a government-backed entity telling us which news is fake, or how it works when a venture supposedly meant to curb `foreign interference’ is bankrolled by the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Taiwan, to name a few. . .  Not that U.S. government money is exempt from the “foreign” qualifier with its suggestion of malicious influence; to most of Facebook’s 2.2 billion users, after all, the United States is a foreign country.
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See our post about vulture hedge fund Alden Global Capital dismantling local news outlets around the country with the prospect that republished corporate press releases will be the only source of news:
Where Will You get Your News When There Is A Mass-Dismantling of Outlets Like The Denver Post By Wall Street Vulture Capital Funds?
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Latest Non-reporting of the News?– Deaths in Puerto Rico (Second most deadly Hurricane in U.S. history)

This seems like the latest non-reporting of the news: an update on the (intentional?) mishandling of the crisis in Puerto Rico that has gone largely unreported.   . .  What does the number 4,645 on the San Juan Mayor's hat mean?  You'd be unlikely to guess given the  lack of reporting in the media and misinformation in these New York  Times headlines.  . . . What was the media devoting huge time to covering while leaving this national disaster news essentially unreported?: The firing of Roseanne Barr!
Latest Non-reporting of National News?– Deaths in Puerto Rico

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Maybe you would like to get involved in the discussion early?  In the comment section to this page you may want to supply information about where you go to get your news and why.  Or maybe you'd like to post about what you think are the biggest issues that mainstream media is not reporting on?  Climate change?  The cost of war?  Voting irregularities in the last election?

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