July 13, 2021

The Park Center for Independent Media circulates the Indy Brief. Subscribe for a weekly selection of news stories from journalists operating outside traditional corporate systems.

The Edge

On White Grief and Reparations

“Our political imaginations must find a way to make the impossible, possible.”

Zillah Eisenstein, Professor Emeritus of Anti-Racist Feminist Theory at Ithaca College, writes on the “unfathomable cruelty” of America’s history of slavery and misogynist racism, driving urgency for reparations to “give back what should not have been ours in the first place.”

“To repair is to reimagine human connections and possibility. To be able to know and grieve the wrongs done is one of our most genuinely human potential qualities—it allows us to feel and see and know and imagine a more complete humanity.”

Read Eisenstein’s full meditation on slavery and American history.

Media’s Vaccine Misinformation Problem

The extremely contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has been spreading across the globe as vaccination rates lag. The U.S. is no exception. Reports from different parts of the country indicate that even fully vaccinated citizens have been susceptible to the variant. 

Unvaccinated people still face far higher danger—as shown in Maryland, where 100% of residents who died to COVID in June were unvaccinated. In the U.S., nearly 50% of the population is fully vaccinated, even as conspiracy theories and misinformation encourage the other half to avoid receiving shots.

Lies peddled by right-wing media and proliferated on Big Tech platforms influence the entire planet, and must be combatted to vaccinate the world.

Read the full report on The Edge.

Fox News Forecasts Disinformation with New Weather Channel

Amid record heat waves, early hurricanes, and wildlife die-offs that look like mass extinction events, Rupert Murdoch has decided to double down on denying climate change in the worst possible way: launching a full-time weather channel called Fox Weather. That’s right, blatant climate denialism, fossil fuel propaganda, and conspiracy theories about scientists wanting to shrink children will soon be broadcasting across America 24/7.

A 2019 analysis by Public Citizen shows that 86% of all climate-related segments aired that year on Fox were climate denial claims. While the network contends that climate change is bad, it isn’t for the reasons scientists give, but imagined issues of exploiting children and controlling people.

Read the full report on The Edge.

Raza Rumi and Sonali Samarasinghe on Survival and Journalism

On a recent episode of the WCIB news podcast “Asian in Ithaca: Stories of Race, Culture & Identity,” PCIM Director Raza Rumi told his story of working in, and being forced to flee, Pakistan. Sonali Samarasinghe, a journalist, human rights lawyer, and diplomat, recounted the events that drove her from her native Siri Lanka.

In Pakistan, Rumi was a well-known broadcaster, editor, columnist, and policy consultant who spoke at length against religious extremism. “I was condemning it every day on television, and also holding different authorities to account,” he said.

Read and listen to more on how, after life-threatening events, they both came to work and teach in Ithaca.

Structural and Political Violence Are ‘All Related’

On June 24, the Tompkins County Office of Human Rights hosted an expert local group to discuss violence in Ithaca and across the U.S. Director Ken Clarke moderated the panel, which interrogated root causes and coverage of violence.

Dr. Sabrina Karim, Assistant Professor in Government at Cornell University, described how structural violence can account for much of the violence we see, and how lack of opportunity can “ripple out to criminal violence.”

Community Organizer Richard Rivera emphasized that “this violence doesn’t come out of nowhere.” He also detailed how discussions tend to focus on crime committed by Black youth.

PCIM Director Raza Rumi criticized coverage by mainstream news outlets, saying they “default to evading law enforcement accountability” and fail to inform the public of the real crisis of gun violence.

And Travis Brooks, Deputy Director of the Greater Ithaca Activities Center, touched on how reframing healthy masculinity can contribute to reducing violence against women.

Read more and watch the full discussion here.

PCIM Sponsors Summer Internships For Eight Students in 2021

Each year, the Park Center for Independent Media sponsors students to work with independent media outlets and immerse themselves in non-corporate media production and distribution systems. Through the center’s internship program, students receive valuable hands-on experience at some of the leading independent media organizations and advocacy nonprofits in the nation.

Students are interning at outlets including FAIR, The Laura Flanders Show, and the Ithaca Voice. Read more on what our students are up to here.

More from The Edge

Exxon Lobbyists “Look out for Shareholders” as Planet Burns

Just days before an undersea gas pipeline burst in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in a fiery vortex that was all too symbolic of the current climate emergency, it was made public that a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist unwittingly revealed how the oil company uses its political influence to undermine climate action. In the secretly recorded video call, courtesy of Greenpeace UK, lobbyist Keith McCoy admitted to “aggressively fight[ing] against” climate science and working with “shadow groups” to combat political action on climate change. All of this was done to maximize profits and “look out for [their] shareholders.”

During the undercover Zoom call that took place in May 2021, the senior Exxon lobbyist divulged a series of manipulative tactics that have effectively prevented any major climate legislation from being passed since Biden took office. These tactics have resulted in devastating climate inaction from Congress.

Read the full report on The Edge.

Why Antitrust Bills Are Taking on Big Tech

Four tech giants have been consolidating wealth and media control over the past several years, and especially during the pandemic. Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google have cemented their platforms in businesses from social media to movies as critics argue their practices harm consumers and online information.

After a 16-month investigation completed last fall by the Democratic members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, House lawmakers in June introduced six antitrust bills intended to curb the power of these companies to acquire or undercut competitors.

After a debate and vote that spanned two days and showed divisions among lawmakers, the Judiciary Committee advanced the bills on June 24. Though the bills will face challenges gaining bipartisan support in the Senate, antitrust legislation is essential to securing healthier markets and information online.

Read the full report on The Edge.

In Other News

1. MLK’s daughter hits out at GOP for their critical race theory attacks (The Independent)

2. Post-Vaccination Infections Come in 2 Different Flavors (The Atlantic)

3. Exxon Lobbyists Paid The 6 Democrats Named In Sting Video Nearly $333,000 (HuffPost)

4. US heatwave: Could US and Canada see the worst wildfires yet? (BBC)

5. At least 140 Cubans reportedly detained or disappeared after historic protests (The Guardian

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website, and follow PCIM on social media: Facebook | Twitter

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.