Category Archives: Corporations

Who Is The Real Donald Trump?

The Seven Stages of Establishment Backlash: Corbyn/Sanders Edition

Glenn Greenwald wrote for The Intercept last month:

The British political and media establishment incrementally lost its collective mind over the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the country’s Labour Party, and its unraveling and implosion show no signs of receding yet. Bernie Sanders is nowhere near as radical as Corbyn; they are not even in the same universe. But, especially on economic issues, Sanders is a more fundamental, systemic critic than the oligarchical power centers are willing to tolerate, and his rejection of corporate dominance over politics, and corporate support for his campaigns, is particularly menacing. He is thus regarded as America’s version of a far-left extremist, threatening establishment power.

For those who observed the unfolding of the British reaction to Corbyn’s victory, it’s been fascinating to watch the D.C./Democratic establishment’s reaction to Sanders’ emergence replicate that, reading from the same script. I personally think Clinton’s nomination is extremely likely, but evidence of a growing Sanders movement is unmistakable. Because of the broader trends driving it, this is clearly unsettling to establishment Democrats — as it should be.

[…] Just as was true for Corbyn, there is a direct correlation between the strength of Sanders and the intensity of the bitter and ugly attacks unleashed at him by the D.C. and Democratic political and media establishment. There were, roughly speaking, seven stages to this establishment revolt in the U.K. against Corbyn, and the U.S. reaction to Sanders is closely following the same script.

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Former Financial Regulator Bill Black Reviews ‘The Big Short’

Jessica Desvarieux talks to former financial regulator Bill Black who reviews the highlights and holes of the film The Big Short. Bill Black is also the author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One: How Corporate Executives and Politicians Looted the S&L Industry(The Real News)

How The Guardian Milked Edward Snowden’s Story

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange wrote for Newsweek in 2015:

RTR4NZECThe Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man by Luke Harding is a hack job in the purest sense of the term. Pieced together from secondary sources and written with minimal additional research to be the first to market, the book’s thrifty origins are hard to miss.

The Guardian is a curiously inward-looking beast. If any other institution tried to market its own experience of its own work nearly as persistently as The Guardian, it would surely be called out for institutional narcissism. But becauseThe Guardian is an embarrassingly central institution within the moribund “left-of-center” wing of the U.K. establishment, everyone holds their tongue.

In recent years, we have seen The Guardian consult itself into cinematic history—in the Jason Bourne films and others—as a hip, ultra-modern, intensely British newspaper with a progressive edge, a charmingly befuddled giant of investigative journalism with a cast-iron spine.

The Snowden Files positions The Guardian as central to the Edward Snowden affair, elbowing out more significant players like Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras for Guardian stablemates, often with remarkably bad grace.

“Disputatious gay” Glenn Greenwald’s distress at the U.K.’s detention of his husband, David Miranda, is described as “emotional” and “over-the-top.” My WikiLeaks colleague Sarah Harrison—who helped rescue Snowden from Hong Kong—is dismissed as a “would-be journalist.”

I am referred to as the “self-styled editor of WikiLeaks.” In other words, the editor of WikiLeaks. This is about as subtle as Harding’s withering asides get. You could use this kind of thing on anyone.

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Corporate Media Endorses Clinton to Defend Their Own Interests: Interview with Norman Solomon

Sharmini Peries talks to Norman Solomon, co-founder of RootsAction.org, who says that the New York Times’ anti-Sanders bias is rooted in its desire to maintain the status quo. (The Real News)

Fanaticism and Fantasy Drive Purported TPP ‘Benefits’

Pete Dolack writes for CounterPunch:

shutterstock_306196799So-called “free trade” agreements are continually advertised as creators of jobs, yet jobs are lost and wages decline once they go into effect. As representatives of the 12 countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership gather this week in New Zealand to begin their final push for it, the usual unsubstantiated claims are being put forth.

Why is this so? I mean beyond the obvious answer that such claims are propaganda in the service of corporate elites and financiers. Corporate-funded “think tanks” that pump out a steady barrage of papers making grandiose claims for “free trade” deals that are relied on by the political leaders who push these deals require some data, no matter how massaged. One organization prominent in this process is the Peterson Institute for International Economics, which has issued rosy reports in expectation of deals like the North America Free Trade Agreement — for example, it predicted 170,000 new jobs would be created in the U.S. alone in 1995 and that the Mexican economy would grow by four to five percent annually under NAFTA.

One way to look at this is that the Peterson Institute is to “free trade” agreements as the Heartland Institute is to global warming. Heartland began as a Big Tobacco outfit issuing reports denying links between smoking and cancer. As late as 1998, Heartland President Joe Bast claimed that there were  “few, if any, adverse health effects” associated with smoking and boasted to a Phillip Morris executive that “Heartland does many things that benefit Philip Morris’s bottom line, things that no other organization does.”

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Signing of TPP Marks Only Beginning of the Fight, Trade Deal Could Still Be Stopped: Interview with Lori Wallach

Amy Goodman and Narmeen Sheikh talk to Lori Wallach of Public Citizen who argues: “We have to make sure every member of Congress says there’s no way, we’re not meant to do this.” The deal has also become a campaign issue, and Wallach notes, “There’s no presidential candidate in any state polling over 5 percent who supports the TPP.” (Democracy Now!)

After TPP Signing, Activists Seeking to Block Deal Look to Prevent U.S. Congressional Approval: Interview with Margaret Flowers

Jessica Desvarieux talks to Dr. Margaret Flowers, the co-director of Popular Resistance which has been one of several organisations leading the flight against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Flowers says the TPP will supercede international climate treaties and undermine environmental protection laws by enabling corporations to sue governments if those regulations interfere with expected profits. (The Real News)

IFJ: 2,297 journalists and media staff killed doing their jobs worldwide since 1990

William Turvill reports for Press Gazette:

The International Federation of Journalists has recorded the killings of 2,297 journalists and media staff since 1990 – including 112 in 2015.

The organisation today published its 25th report, revealing 2015 was the eighth worst year on record.

The report also named the most dangerous countries for journalists over the last 25 years, with Iraq (where 309 journalists or media staff have been killed), Philippines (146) and Mexico (120) the worst.

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The American Brand of Democracy Is Cold Hard Cash

Nomi Prins writes for TomDispatch:

Fox_News_GOP_Debate_ap_imgSpeaking of the need for citizen participation in our national politics in his final State of the Union address, President Obama said, “Our brand of democracy is hard.” A more accurate characterization might have been: “Our brand of democracy is cold hard cash.”

Cash, mountains of it, is increasingly the necessary tool for presidential candidates. Several Powerball jackpots could already be fueled from the billions of dollars in contributions in play in election 2016. When considering the present donation season, however, the devil lies in the details, which is why the details follow.

With three 2016 debates down and six more scheduled, the two fundraisers with the most surprising amount in common are Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Neither has billionaire-infused Super PACs, but for vastly different reasons. Bernie has made it clear billionaires won’t ever hold sway in his court. While Trump… well, you know, he’s not only a billionaire but has the knack for getting the sort of attention that even billions can’t buy.

Regarding the rest of the field, each candidate is counting on the reliability of his or her own arsenal of billionaire sponsors and corporate nabobs when the you-know-what hits the fan. And at this point, believe it or not, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision of 2010 and the Super PACs that arose from it, all the billionaires aren’t even nailed down or faintly tapped out yet. In fact, some of them are already preparing to jump ship on their initial candidate of choice or reserving the really big bucks for closer to game time, when only two nominees will be duking it out for the White House.

Capturing this drama of the billionaires in new ways are TV networks eager to profit from the latest eyeball-gluing version of election politicking and the billions of dollars in ads that will flood onto screens nationwide between now and November 8. As Super PACs, billionaires, and behemoth companies press their influence on what used to be called “our democracy,” the modern debate system, now a sixteen-month food fight, has become the political equivalent of the NFL playoffs. In turn, soaring ratings numbers, scads of ads, and the party infighting that helps generate them now translate into billions of new dollars for media moguls.

For your amusement and mine, this being an all-fun-all-the-time election campaign, let’s examine the relationships between our twenty-first-century plutocrats and the contenders who have raised $5 million or more in individual contributions or through Super PACs and are at 5 percent or more in composite national polls. I’ll refrain from using the politically correct phrases that feed into the illusion of distance between Super PACs that allegedly support candidates’s causes and the candidates themselves, because in practice there is no distinction.

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The Road to the White House Begins in Iowa, But Is It Already Sold to Wealthy Donors? Interview with Lee Fang

Amy Goodman speaks to Lee Fang of The Intercept about spending by so-called “dark money” groups—political super PACs and other organizations who can hide their funders—is already far ahead of previous election cycles, with estimates it could reach up to half a billion dollars. Fang also recently questioned Hillary Clinton about her speeches for Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs, which paid her $675,000 for just three appearances. (Democracy Now!)

A high-powered network: How Google became embedded in British politics

Juliette Garside and Alice Ross report for The Guardian:

The furore over Google’s £130m deal with the UK taxman has triggered outrage among politicians, business figures and tax campaigners. It has also raised questions over the search engine group’s proximity to the corridors of power in Britain. An analysis of meetings between Google executives and senior politicians, as well as the regular appointments of political figures to major positions within the company’s PR machine, shows how the California-based tech company has become deeply entwined within the British political landscape.

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New Film Reveals History and Consequences of Israeli Settlements on Palestinian Land: Interview with Shimon Dotan

Amy Goodman talks to Shimon Dotan, an award winning filmmaker and director of a new film, The Settlers, which has just had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. (Democracy Now!)

Hillary Clinton’s Top Financial Supporter Now Controls “The Onion”

Jon Schwarz reports for The Intercept:

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) was the featured speaker at the dedication of the Saban Research Institute today, June 29, 2003 in Hollywood, California. She joined Cheryl and Haim Saban who made a $40 million contribution to support and stimulate pediatric medical research at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. The donation is believed to be the  largest single gift of its kind to a children's hospital in North America. (Photo by Bob Riha Jr/WireImage)Onion staffers may think twice before they produce more stories like Hillary Clinton Tries To Woo Voters By Rescinding CandidacyHillary Clinton To Nation: ‘Do Not Fuck This Up For Me’Hillary Clinton: The Merciless, Unrelenting March To The Presidency, or the signed Hillary Clinton editorial titled I’m Weighing Whether Or Not I Want To Go Through The Hell Of Appealing To You Idiotic, Uninformed Oafs.

Many news outlets covered Univision Communications’ purchase last week of a stake in The Onion, the world’s leading news publication. According toNPR, Univision bought a 40 percent controlling interest in the company, and also acquired the option to buy the remainder of The Onion in the future.

But what’s gotten no attention at all is that Haim Saban, Hillary Clinton’s biggest fan and financial supporter, is Univision’s co-owner, Chairman and CEO. Saban and his wife Cheryl are Hillary Clinton’s top financial backers, having given $2,046,600 to support her political campaigns and at least $10 million more to the Clinton Foundation, on whose board Cheryl Saban sits. The Sabans are also generous supporters of the overall Democratic Party infrastructure, donating, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a total of $16.1 million since 1989 to Democratic and liberal candidates, party committees, leadership PACs and federally-focused 527s.

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40 Years After “All the President’s Men” Robert Redford Plays Another Journalist Challenging Power in “Truth”

Forty years ago, the legendary actor Robert Redford starred in one of the most celebrated journalism films of all time: “All The President’s Men.” Redford and Dustin Hoffman portrayed Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein investigating the Watergate scandal that eventually brought down President Nixon. In his most recent film “Truth,” Robert Redford portrays another journalist—this time CBS reporter Dan Rather. The film is based on CBS producer Mary Mapes’ 2005 memoir about how she was fired and Rather was forced to resign after they reported that George W. Bush received special treatment in the U.S. Air National Guard during the Vietnam War. Redford joins us in Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival, which he founded in 1978. (Democracy Now!)

Dark Money: Jane Mayer on How Koch Brothers and Billionaire Allies Funded Rise of the Far Right

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman speak to Jane Mayer, reporter for the New Yorker and author of a new book: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. In the book, Mayer traces how the Kochs and other billionaires have leveraged their business empires to shape the political system in the mold of their right-wing agenda. (Democracy Now!)

10 American Companies That Aided The Nazis

The Kochs, The Nazis and Stalin: Interview with Jane Mayer

Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman speak to Jane Mayer, reporter for the New Yorker and author of a new book: Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right. In the book, Mayer explores how the Koch brothers and other right-wing billionaires have funded a political machine aimed at shaping elections and public policy. The book contains a number of revelations and new details, one of them being that the Kochs’ father, industrialist Fred Koch, helped build an oil refinery in Nazi Germany—a project approved personally by Adolf Hitler. The refinery was critical to the Nazi war effort, fueling German warplanes. Mayer joins us to discuss. (Democracy Now!)

Davos, Bill Gates and The Revenant of Neoliberalism: Interview with Polly Jones

Afshin Rattansi speaks to Polly Jones, Head of policy and campaigns at Global Justice Now about Philanthrocapitalists in Davos, Global Justice Now’s newest report Gated Development and why we need to look at who aid is really aiding. (Going Underground)

The 1% Economy: Interview with Raymond Offenheiser

Narmeen Sheikh and Amy Goodman talks to Raymond Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, about a new report from Oxfam on global inequality which finds that the world’s richest 62 billionaires now own as much wealth as half the world. The report is timed to coincide with the meeting of global elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Part two of the interview can be viewed here(Democracy Now!)

Untouchable Big Oil Threatens All Life On Earth

In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin looks at how all life on Earth is threatened by catastrophic climate change and Big Oil (the main culprit) is so powerful that the U.S. government is setup to serve it, rather than regulate it. The episode includes interview with Antonia Juhasz and Greg Palast. (The Empire Files)

How much does ExxonMobil spend on lobbying in Europe?

Kyla Mandel writes for DeSmog UK:

ExxonMobil has spent at least £5.6m ($8.08 million) on lobbying the European Commission and in donations to European universities and organisations in 2014 according to the most recent figures available.

A DeSmog UK investigation into the oil giant’s European activities reveals much of this was spent lobbying on energy and environment issues in addition to donations to organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

Last September, Inside Climate News revealed that ExxonMobil knew about the impacts of manmade climate change in the 1970s’ and ‘80s yet went on to fund numerous climate denial efforts. This prompted the New York Attorney General to subpoena ExxonMobil to “determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate change or to investors about how those risks might hurt the oil business.”

And now, the Church of England’s Commissioners (who run its £6.7bn endowment fund) has co-filed a shareholders’ resolution this week with the New York State Common Retirement Fund calling on ExxonMobil to publish an assessment of how its business portfolio would be affected by a 2°C target as agreed in the Paris agreement in December. Together, the group of investors hold more than $1bn in ExxonMobil shares.

So, while the oil giant has been getting a lot of heat in the U.S. for funding climate denial, DeSmog UK asks: what has ExxonMobil been up to in Europe?

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Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world’s population, says Oxfam

Larry Elliott reports for The Guardian:

The vast and growing gap between rich and poor has been laid bare in a new Oxfam report showing that the 62 richest billionaires own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.

Timed to coincide with this week’s gathering of many of the super-rich at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, the report calls for urgent action to deal with a trend showing that 1% of people own more wealth than the other 99% combined.

Oxfam said that the wealth of the poorest 50% dropped by 41% between 2010 and 2015, despite an increase in the global population of 400m. In the same period, the wealth of the richest 62 people increased by $500bn (£350bn) to $1.76tn.

The charity said that, in 2010, the 388 richest people owned the same wealth as the poorest 50%. This dropped to 80 in 2014 before falling again in 2015.

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Obama Delivers More Pretty Words, Ugly Inaction on Money in Politics

Jon Schwarz writes for The Intercept:

Near the end of President Obama’s final State of the Union address, he eloquently called for Americans to take back the U.S. political system from big money.

[…] What Obama did not mention was this: He in fact can immediately “reduce the influence of hidden interests” on his own, without Congress or the Supreme Court, by issuing an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose any “dark money” contributions to politically active nonprofits.

Such nonprofits currently spend hundreds of millions of dollars per election, and do not have to disclose their donors. An executive order from Obama wouldn’t shine a light on all corporate dark money, since not every corporation receives federal contracts, but most of the biggest do, including over 70 of the Fortune 100.

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The Man Who Studies the Spread of Ignorance

Georgina Kenyon reports for BBC Future:

In 1979, a secret memo from the tobacco industry was revealed to the public. Called the Smoking and Health Proposal, and written a decade earlier by the Brown & Williamson tobacco company, it revealed many of the tactics employed by big tobacco to counter “anti-cigarette forces”.

In one of the paper’s most revealing sections, it looks at how to market cigarettes to the mass public: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”

This revelation piqued the interest of Robert Proctor, a science historian from Stanford University, who started delving into the practices of tobacco firms and how they had spread confusion about whether smoking caused cancer.

Proctor had found that the cigarette industry did not want consumers to know the harms of its product, and it spent billions obscuring the facts of the health effects of smoking. This search led him to create a word for the study of deliberate propagation of ignorance: agnotology.

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The Politics of the Golden Globes and David Bowie: Interview with Hamish McAlpine

Afshin Rattansi talks to Award Winning film producer and distributor Hamish McAlpine who talks about what really happened at the Golden Globes from Ricky Gervias’s political monologues to the winners and the losers. He also talks about what made David Bowie so influential over so many years. (Going Underground)

There’s a Bipartisan Refusal to Accept Obama’s Push for TPP: Interview with Curtis Ellis and Congressman Alan Grayson

Thom Hartmann talks to two guests about Obama’s final State of the Union address and his push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). From the right there’s Curtis Ellis of obamatrade.com, and from the left there’s Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson (D-FL). (The Big Picture)

The Deeper, Uglier Side of TPP: Interview with Melinda St. Louis

In his final State of the Union address, President Obama said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was about staying on top as a global economic power, but a close look at the text shows how that only applies to multinational corporations. Melinda St. Louis of Public Citizen breaks this down. (The Real News)

The Death of ‘Huffpost Live’

Jeff Jarvis writes for Observer.com:

screen shot 2016 01 12 at 3 34 01 pm The Death of Huffpost Live: How to Fail at VideoHuffPost Live is dead. With its eight-hour-a-day streaming network, Huffington Post tried to do what every media company out there is scrambling to figure out: video. But, like too many of its desperate peers, HuffPo did exactly the wrong thing: It aped television news—worse, cable news. Oh, yes, the hosts were hip, the outfits ironic, the beards stubbly, the set cool. But the grammar of TV news still ruled: scripted spiels delivered via Teleprompter and let-me-start-with-you, back-and-forth segments all performed in that camera-conscious broadcast voice.

We keep hearing that video is the future. So what it the future of video? I don’t know. TV news itself is only now approaching the desperation phase of disruption that the rest of media started grappling with a decade ago. Desperation is the parent of innovation and that is only beginning. To get a glimpse of what’s possible, I’d look to Facebook and YouTube, not big, old or new media companies.

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Al Jazeera America: Requiem for a News Channel

Ari Paul writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

USA Today: Is the USA ready for Al Jazeera America?Skeptics said it wouldn’t last, and they were right.

Al Jazeera America launched in the summer of 2013, a spin-off of the Doha-based channel’s English version to specifically target a United States audience. For the last decade, Al Jazeera had built what some might consider the one of the most coveted of journalistic reputations: It was considered anti-American and anti-Zionist in the US, while Arab governments saw its stories as pure Western propaganda. By the time of the Arab Spring, Al Jazeera English became indispensable for anyone in the United States who wanted to know what was going on.

Having poached English language talent from other news providers, Al Jazeera’s English-language service could no longer be ignored in North America. In a market where television news is saturated with screaming pundits and websites that spend more time on aggregation and the click-hungry hot takes, a new channel dedicated to covering US issues and the world with a cold and serious eye seemed like a worthy gamble.

On January 13, the world learned that Al Jazeera America would soon close. And while some employees could migrate into the network’s expanded digital operations, many will spend the coming days and weeks looking for new work.

The news comes as Al Jazeera’s primary patron, the Qatari government, enters a financial downturn; it will have its first budget deficit in 15 years. AJAM always struggled with low ratings; as the New York Times reported last May, “The station has been a nonfactor in news, drawing about 30,000 viewers a night.” And while its online presence has been expansive, that still isn’t what brings home the proverbial bacon. Al Jazeera English always struggled to get onto US cable service, and so too was it difficult for AJAM—not to mention that especially for younger viewers, more and more news is consumed online rather than through traditional cable. People aren’t sitting at home waiting for the nightly news anymore—they’re getting their information on their phones throughout the day.

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