Sunday, May 26th, 2019

15 News Stories from 2015 You Should Have Heard About But Probably Didn’t

Published on January 1, 2016 by   ·   1 Comment

In 2015, the iron fist of power clamped down on humanity, from warfare to terrorism (I repeat myself) to surveillance, police brutality, and corporate hegemony. The environment was repeatedly decimated, the health of citizens was constantly put at risk, and the justice system and media alike were perverted to serve the interests of the powers that be.

However, while 2015 was discouraging for more reasons than most of us can count, many of the year’s most underreported stories evidence not only a widespread pattern that explicitly reveals the nature of power, but pushback from human beings worldwide on a path toward a better world.

1. CISA Pushed Through the Senate, Effectively Clamping Down on Internet Freedom: For years, Congress has attempted to legalize corporate and state control of the internet. First, in 2011, they attempted to pass PIPA and SOPA, companion bills slammed by internet and tech companies and ultimately defeated after overwhelming public outcry. Then they passed  CISPA — which the president had threatened to veto, having caught wind of the public’s opposition to heavy regulation of the internet (earlier this year, Obama reversed his position). However, corporate interests, like Hollywood’s studio monopoly, kept lawmakers’ tenacity afloat.

In October, Congress passed CISA, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, but as the Electronic Freedom Foundation explained: “CISA is fundamentally flawed. The bill’s broad immunity clauses, vague definitions, and aggressive spying powers combine to make the bill a surveillance bill in disguise. Further, the bill does not address problems from the recent highly publicized computer data breaches that were caused by unencrypted filespoor computer architectureun-updated servers, and employees (or contractors) clicking malware links.” Just before Christmas, Congress went even furtheradding an amendment to the annual omnibus budget bill that strips CISA’s minimal privacy provisions even more. That budget bill was approved, though Representative Justin Amash of Michigan has vowed to introduce legislation to repeal the CISA provisions when Congress reconvenes.

But CISA wasn’t the only attack on citizens’ privacy this year. Though lawmakers touted the USA Freedom Act as a repeal of the mass surveillance state, in reality, it simply added a bureaucratic step to the process by which government agencies obtain private information. Further, a hack on Italian security firm, aptly called Hacker Tools, revealed that various agencies — including the DEA, NSA, Army, and FBI — possess software that enables them to, as Anti-Media reported, “view suspects’ photos, emails, listen to and record their conversations, and activate the cameras on their computers…” At the same time, the United Kingdom and France moved to tighten their already comprehensive surveillance States in the wake of multiple terrorist attacks. Though governments claim systematic surveillance is necessary to protect citizens — and Snowden’s leaks endangered that safety — the United States government has been unable to produce sufficient evidence the programs work. Instead, the documents the Department of Defense released this year as proof of the alleged endangerment were entirely redacted.

2. CIA Whistleblower Sent to Prison for Revealing Damning Information to a Journalist: While the government has no problem invading the privacy of its citizens, it offers swift backlash for those who attempt to violate its own clandestine operations. Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent, had his first altercation with the CIA when he sued for racial discrimination in 2001. He was subsequently fired. Years later, the CIA filed espionage charges against him for speaking with New York Times journalist, James Risen. Sterling had revealed a botched CIA scheme, Operation Merlin, to infiltrate Iranian intelligence that ultimately worsened the situation, gave Iran a nuclear blueprint, and was deemed espionage, itself. Rather than acknowledge the woeful misstep, the CIA arrested him, charged him, and ultimately sentenced him to 42 months in prison. The trial was reportedly biased, but nevertheless, was severely underreported by the media. Sterling’s conviction reflects the ongoing war on whistleblowers, which Obama hassuccessfully expanded during his presidency. Sterling joins the ranks of Edward Snowden, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, and others, including a whistleblower who worked for OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Program and wasfired for exposing dysfunction and incompetence within the ranks.

3. Press Freedom Continued to Deteriorate: An annual report from the World Press Freedom Index saw the United States slip 29 spots from last year, landing 49th out of 180 total. Investigative journalist Barrett Brown was sentenced to five years in prison for exposing the findings of hacker Jeremy Hammond. Brown was charged with obstructing justice, aiding and abetting, and separate charges of allegedly threatening the FBI in a rant. Hammond, who exposed severe violations of privacy on the part of Stratfor, a CIA contractor, was sentenced to ten years in prison. Brown’s experience was not an isolated incident. Journalists around the world, like several journalists who were killed while investigating ISIS in Turkey, faced increased danger. One small-town journalist in India was burned alive after exposing a corrupt politician.

4. Multiple Activists Arrested, Charged with Felonies for Educating Jurors About Their Rights: In an ongoing trend, otherwise peaceful, non-violent individuals were harassed by police and courts — not for exposing clandestine information, but for providing information to potential jurors about their rights in the courtroom. One Denver jury nullification activistfollowed by another, was charged with multiple felonies for handing out pamphlets that explain a juror’s right to vote “not guilty” in a verdict, even if the defendant is clearly guilty. This right was established to allow jurors to vote with their conscience and question the morality of laws, from the 19th century’s Fugitive Slave Act to Prohibition, both of alcohol in the 1920s and of marijuana today. The Denver activists are awaiting trial, while more recently, a former pastor was charged with a felony for the same reason.

In other unjust convictions and failings of the “justice” system, an African-American man was sentenced to seven years in prison for barking at a police dog, a Kansas mother faces decades in prison for using marijuana to treat her debilitating Crohn’s disease, and a mentally ill man died in jail after being held for stealing five dollars worth of snacksfrom a convenience store. He was inexplicably awaiting transfer to a medical facility. Ross Ulbricht, founder of the dark web marketplace, the Silk Road, was sentenced to life in prison in spite of the fact that he committed no violent crimes — though the FBI attempted to paint a false picture that he did, albeit without filing formal charges. The prosecution was rife with corruption and scandal; two FBI agents involved in the case were charged with stealing Bitcoin during the investigation. In July, one admitted to stealing $700,000 worth of the digital currency.

5. Six-year-old Autistic Boy Killed by Police: 2015 established not only that the justice system remains broken, but the the enforcement class — police officers — continues to terrorize citizens. In one underreported case, a six-year-old boy was fatally caught in the crossfire of a police shootout against his father, who was unarmed. In another case, an African-American motorist was shot and killed by University of Cincinnati police over a missing front license plate. While high-profile cases of misconduct, including Freddie Gray and Sandra Bland, rightly dominated the news cycle, many more cases of police brutality received little attention. In fact, in 2015, it was revealed not only that the media-propagated “War on Cops” in America was a myth, but that American police kill exponentially more people in weeks than other countries’ police kill in years. On the bright side, many police officers did face charges — and even prosecution — in 2015, including one repeat rapist who cried upon being convicted of his crimes. The officers involved in the shooting of the six-year-old boy were also charged with murder.

6. Earth Enters Sixth Mass Extinction: 2015, like many years before, was disastrous for the environment. Researchers from Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, and Princeton determined Earth is entering its sixth mass extinction, citing that species are disappearing at a rate 100 times faster than the normal rate between mass extinctions. Further, thanks, in part, to the widespread use of Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup herbicide, populations of bees and Monarch butterflies dwindled — though, happily, the Monarchs appear to have bounced back. Polar bears also met continued endangerment.

The much-anticipated Paris Climate Conference yielded what many environmental activists deemed weak, if not fraudulent, solutions. Meanwhile, man-made environmental catastrophes endangered humans. In Flint, Michigan, lead levels in the water led to increased rates of contamination in children’s blood, prompting the mayor to declare a state of emergency. A massive methane gas leak in the San Fernando Valley, located just north of Los Angeles, hassickened residents and forced countless families to relocate. Authorities have been unable to stop the leak.

Thankfully, some measures to help the environment were taken, including creative solutions to stop animal poaching, the first flight of a solar-powered plane, the launch of a solar-powered airport in India, and Costa Rica’s successful effort to draw 99% of its energy from renewable sources.

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Readers Comments (1)

  1. radicalshady says:

    Way to go, wake up even more sheeple..
    I sincerely support the cause.

    btw I searched about the Indian journalist’s murder. Yh it’s a murder. why else would they pay to sweep it under the carpet.
    And it’s in my country too..
    but no trace of anything after the initial burst.
    looks like the government paid 3 million Indian currency for (taxpayer’s money) his life.
    such a cheap price..ha ha.
    of course that poor bastard is not worth more than that..
    Would any sane person shout out loud the emperor is naked and his ding dong is tiny.
    I hate this helpless life of a livestock.




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