Category Archives: Corporations

TTIP explained: The secretive US-EU treaty that undermines democracy

Glyn Moody writes for Ars Technica:

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), sometimes known as the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), is currently being negotiated behind closed doors by the European Union and the US. If it is successfully completed, it will be the biggest trade agreement in history. But TTIP is not just something of interest to export businesses: it will affect most areas of everyday life, including the online world.

Opponents fear it could undermine many of Europe’s hard-won laws protecting online privacy, health, safety and the environment, even democracy itself. For example, it could effectively place US investors in the EU above the law by allowing companies to claim compensation from an EU country when it brings in a regulation that allegedly harms their investments—and for EU companies to attack US laws in the same way.

Those far-reaching effects flow from the fact that TTIP is not a traditional trade agreement, which generally seeks to lower tariffs between nations so as to increase trade between them. The tariffs between the US and EU are already very low—under 3%—so there is little scope to boost transatlantic trade significantly by removing the remaining tariffs completely.

Instead, TTIP aims to go beyond tariffs, and to remove what it calls “non-tariff barriers.” These refer to the different ways of doing things which make it hard for a company to sell exactly the same product on both sides of the Atlantic. Typically, different national regulations require different kinds of tests and product information, which leads to a duplication of effort that adds costs and delays to making products available in the other market.

TTIP’s stated aim to smooth away those NTBs is good news for the companies, but not so much for pesky humans. What are classed as “barriers” include things like regulations that protect the environment or the online privacy of Europeans. The threat to diminish or remove them in the name of transatlantic “harmonisation” has turned the traditionally rather dull area of trade agreements into the most important focus for civil action in years, galvanising a broad spectrum of groups on both sides of the Atlantic that see TTIP not as a potential boon, but a bane.’

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Cuba’s media: Revolution, resistance and transition

‘Cuba is a notoriously difficult place to get accreditation – let alone talk to journalists. Most of the media on the island are state run. It has been that way ever since the revolution in 1959, when Fidel Castro overthrew the US-backed Batista government with a socialist one that is still in place. Many dismiss the media in Cuba as mere relics of its Cold War past – Soviet-style propaganda machines designed to control the masses. But now there is a diplomatic transition underway – a rapprochement with the US aimed at ending decades of animosity between the two countries. As the relationship with Washington changes, Cuban media outlets like Granma, Huventud Rebelde, Radio Havana – will undoubtedly change too. There has already been some reform – an opening up – of Cuban media: accreditation and access are easier to get, officials are more open to talking, although there are still plenty of red lines journalists there know better than to cross. The Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro reports from Havana on the media landscape, the changes taking place and what is all means for journalism in Cuba.’ (Al Jazeera)

Former Reagan Adviser: Fox News Is A “Self-brainwashing” Bubble That Is Destroying The GOP

Protests as debate over GM crops and pesticides heats up

Media Executives Are Salivating Over Big Money Flooding the 2016 Election Cycle

Lee Fang writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Media Executives Are Salivating Over Big Money Flooding the 2016 Election CycleAt least one small slice of the American public looks forward to the non-stop, sleazy political advertisements set to inundate viewers during the 2016 elections: media executives and their investors.

Peter Liguori, the chief executive of Tribune Company, said earlier this month that the next presidential campaign presents “enormous opportunity” for advertising sales. Speaking at a conference hosted by J.P. Morgan Chase, Liguori, whose company owns television stations and a number of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, referenced Super PAC spending as a key factor for why he thinks Tribune Co. political advertising revenue will rocket from $115 million in 2012 to about $200 million for the 2016 campaign cycle.

Vince Sadusky, the chief executive of Media General, the parent company of 71 television stations across the country, told investors in February that his company is positioned to benefit from unlimited campaign spending, referencing decisions by the Supreme Court. “We are really looking forward to the 2016 elections with spending on the presidential race alone estimated to surpass $5 billion,” Sadusky said, according to a transcript of his remarks.’

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Forget What We Know Now: We Knew Then the Iraq War Was a Joke

Editor’s Note: Matt Taibbi was recently interviewed about the role of the media in the lead up to the Iraq War on Democracy Now!

Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone:

Jeb Bush[…] The media quickly piled on. “Jeb Bush’s Iraq Stumble” was the title of the Wall Street Journal’s “Journal Editorial Report” on Fox. “On Iraq Question, Jeb Bush Stumbles and GOP Hopefuls Pounce,” countered the Washington Post.

“Jeb Bush’s Revisionist History of the Iraq War,” wrote New York Times Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal. “Yeah, Jeb Bush’s argument that the Iraq War was right even in retrospect is insane,” tweeted current New York and erstwhile New Republic writer Jonathan Chait early in the story cycle, when Jeb was still defending the war.

A few writers, like Steve Chapman at the Chicago Tribune, criticized Jeb for not disavowing the “reckless adventurism” of the Bush II era that led to the war in the first place. In other words, Chapman blasted Jeb for being wrong then and now.

But the substance of most of the media mockery in the last week was to whale on Jeb for not admitting quickly enough that the war, in hindsight, given “what we know now,” was a huge mistake.

We can call this the “None of us pundits would have been wrong about Iraq if it wasn’t for Judith Miller” line of questioning. This rhetoric goes something like this: since we invaded, the war has gone epically FUBAR, so it’s obvious now that it was a mistake, and so we can mock you for not admitting as much.’

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Cancer Charities Crackdown: Millions In Donations Spent On Luxury Lifestyles

A Toxic Affair: How the chemical lobby blocked action on hormone disrupting chemicals

Corporate Observatory Europe reports:

An investigation led by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) and journalist Stéphane Horel exposes corporate lobby groups mobilising to stop the EU taking action on hormone (endocrine) disrupting chemicals (EDCs). The report sheds light on how corporations and their lobby groups have used numerous tactics from the corporate lobbying playbook: scaremongering, evidence-discrediting, and delaying tactics, as well as using the ongoing TTIP negotiations as a leverage. But industry’s interests were also defended by actors within the Commission.

Endocrine disruptors are chemicals that are present in everyday products – from plastics and cosmetics to pesticides. Because of their ability to interact with the hormonal (endocrine) systems of living organisms, they are suspected of having severe health and environmental impacts.

EU law demands action be taken on endocrine disruptors, with clear deadlines set. According to these rules, if a chemical is identified as an endocrine disruptor, a ban follows. The current approach is that chemicals are assessed following risk assessment procedures and safe levels of exposure are set accordingly. However, for endocrine disruptors it might be impossible to set such ‘safe’ levels.

The Directorate-General (DG) for the Environment of the European Commission was put in charge of establishing a set of scientific criteria for ‘what is an endocrine disruptor’. The chemical industry lobby was up in arms at the potential banning of some EDCs. The main lobby groups involved were the chemical and pesticide lobbies (CEFIC – European Chemical Industry Council & ECPA – European Crop Protection Association), and the corporations at the forefront were BASF and Bayer. But they found allies in various member states, actors within the European Commission, and in the European Parliament.’

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Fossil fuels subsidised by $10m a minute, says IMF

Damian Carrington reports for The Guardian:

Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.

The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.’

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Peabody Energy exploited Ebola crisis for corporate gain, say health experts

Suzanne Goldenberg reports for The Guardian:

A nurse walks with a little girl suffering from Ebola, at the Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) compound in Monrovia. Peabody suggested more energy access with coal generation could have helped with the distribution of an Ebola vaccine, had there been one.Public health experts involved in the response to the Ebola crisis have condemned what they described as a ludicrous, insulting and opportunistic attempt to exploit the disease for corporate gain by the world’s largest privately-held coal company.

As part of a PR offensive to rebrand coal as a “21st-century fuel” that can help solve global poverty, it has emerged that at the height of Ebola’s impact in Africa, Peabody Energy promoted its product as an answer to Africa’s devastating public health crisis.

Greg Boyce, the chief executive of Peabody, a US-based multinational with mining interests around the world, included a slide on Ebola and energy in a presentation to a coal industry conference in September last year. The slide suggested that more energy would have spurred the distribution of a hypothetical Ebola vaccine – citing as supporting evidence a University of Pennsylvania infectious disease expert.

The World Health Organisation believes nearly 27,000 people contracted Ebola in an outbreak of the virus in West Africa last year, and more than 11,000 died – although the international agency believes that is probably an underestimate.’

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Neocons 2.0: The problem with Peter Pomerantsev

Mark Ames writes for Pando Daily:

pomerantsevIn his opening statement last month before a US Congressional Committee hearing titled “Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information,” the Russian-born British author Peter Pomerantsev served his Republican-led audience a piping hot  serving of neocon alarmism. Quoting “the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), General Philip M. Breedlove,” Pomerantsev described Russia’s 2014 takeover of Crimea as “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg we have ever seen in the history of information warfare.” To which Pomernatsev added his own chilling warning:

“To put it differently, Russia has launched an information war against the West – and we are losing.”

The hearing was put on by Orange County neoconservative Republican Ed Royce; the purpose of the hearings was to drum up fear about Russia’s “unprecedented” information war on the West — a propaganda battle which obviously exists, but whose dimensions and dangers are being cynically exaggerated — and then convert that fear into budget money for US propaganda and NGOs to subvert Kremlin power.

What made Pomerantsev’s lobbying appearance with the neocons so disturbing to me is that he’s not the sort of crude, arrogant meat-head I normally identify with homo neoconius. Pomerantsev’s book, “Nothing is True and Everything is Possible”, is the most talked-about Russia book in recent memory. His many articles on the Kremlin’s “avant-garde” “information war” and its “political technologists” have been hits in the thinking-man’s press: Atlantic Monthly, London Review of Books... His insights into the strategic thinking behind the Kremlin’s “information wars” are often sharp and illuminating; and yet there’s always been something glaringly absent in Pomerantsev’s writings. Not so much what he puts in, but all that he leaves out. Glaring omissions of context, that had me start to question if Pomernatsev wasn’t manipulating the reader by poaching the rhetoric of leftist critical analysis, and putting it to use for very different, neocon purposes . . . as if Pomerantsev has been aping the very sort of “avant-garde” Kremlin political technologies he’s been scaring the Ed Royces of the world with.

And then of course there’s the larger nagging question—what the Hell is a presumed journalist/writer like Pomerantsev, who claims to have been most influenced by literary figures like Christopher Isherwood, doing lobbying the US and UK governments to pass bills upping psychological warfare budgets and imposing sanctions on foreign countries? Where does the independent critical analysis stop, and the manipulative lobbying begin?’

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Wakaliwood: New Wave of Ultra-Violent Ugandan DIY Action Cinema

‘In the Ugandan slum of Wakaliga, a thriving action film industry called Wakaliwood has emerged. Mixing elements of Western action films and Chinese Kung Fu movies with Ugandan culture, Wakaliwood’s films have garnered a cult following not just in in Uganda, but all over the world. We spend a day on the set of the next Wakaliwood hit.’ (VICE)

Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution: Interview with Wendy Brown

Editor’s Note: I would highly recommend reading ‘A Century of Spin: How Public Relations Became the Cutting Edge of Corporate Power’ by David Miller and William Dinan.

‘Wendy Brown a Professor of Political Science at the University of California Berkeley and author of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution explains the idea of Demos and how it drives our Democracy. How Neoliberalism shrinks our capacity to be human and undermines democracy. Are human beings only economic? The debate inside extreme Neoliberalism. The effort to engineer the Neoliberal human. Why Neoliberal state is not small. How Neoliberalism organically moves into every sphere of life. How value works in modern Capitalism. How Facebook became what it is. How to read Citizens United through the Neoliberal lens. Also the lost loss of Liberal Arts education…’ (Majority Report)

Many of the NSA’s Loudest Defenders Have Financial Ties to NSA Contractors

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Many of the NSA’s Loudest Defenders Have Financial Ties to NSA ContractorsThe debate over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records has reached a critical point after a federal appeals court last week ruled the practice illegal, dramatically raising the stakes for pending Congressional legislation that would fully or partially reinstate the program. An army of pundits promptly took to television screens, with many of them brushing off concerns about the surveillance.

The talking heads have been backstopping the NSA’s mass surveillance more or less continuously since it was revealed. They spoke out to support the agency when NSA contractor Edward Snowden released details of its programs in 2013, and they’ve kept up their advocacy ever since — on television news shows, newspaper op-ed pages, online, and at Congressional hearings. But it’s often unclear just how financially cozy these pundits are with the surveillance state they defend, since they’re typically identified with titles that give no clues about their conflicts of interest. Such conflicts have become particularly important, and worth pointing out, now that the debate about NSA surveillance has shifted from simple outrage to politically prominent legislative debates.’

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Obama’s plans for trade deals with Asia (TTP) and Europe (TTIP) in tatters after Senate vote

Dan Roberts, Sabrina Siddiqui and Dominic Rushe report for The Guardian:

US  President Barack Obama delivers remarks on trade at Nike's corporate headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon May 8, 2015 (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)Barack Obama’s ambitions to pass sweeping new free trade agreements with Asia and Europe fell at the first hurdle on Tuesday as Senate Democrats put concerns about US manufacturing jobs ahead of arguments that the deals would boost global economic growth.

A vote to push through the bill failed as 45 senators voted against it, to 52 in favor. Obama needed 60 out of the 100 votes for it to pass.

Failure to secure so-called “fast track” negotiating authority from Congress leaves the president’s top legislative priority in tatters.

It may also prove the high-water mark in decades of steady trade liberalisation that has fuelled globalisation but is blamed for exacerbating economic inequality within many developed economies.’

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CIA Whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling Speaks Out Upon Sentencing to 3.5 Years in Prison

‘On Monday former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to 42 months in prison for leaking classified information to New York Times reporter James Risen about a failed U.S. effort to undermine Iran’s nuclear program. Risen later exposed how the risky operation could have actually aided the Iranian nuclear program. In January Sterling was convicted of nine felony counts, including espionage. He becomes the latest government employee jailed by the Obama administration for leaking information. Since he was indicted four years ago, Jeffrey Sterling’s voice has never been heard by the public. But that changes today. We air an exclusive report that tells his story, “The Invisible Man.” We are also joined by Norman Solomon, who interviewed Sterling for the piece and attended both his trial and sentencing. Solomon is a longtime activist, executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, co-founder of RootsAction.org, and coordinator of ExposeFacts.org.’ (Democracy Now!)

The Years of Stagnation and the Poodles of Power

Adam Curtis wrote on his BBC blog back in 2012:

Everybody is always remarking about how stuck our society feels these days. The music doesn’t change, the political parties are all exactly the same, and films and TV dramas are almost always set in the past.

We are also stuck with an economic system that is not delivering the paradise that it once promised – but is instead creating chaos and hardship. Yet no-one can imagine a better alternative, so we remain static – paralysed by a terrible political and cultural claustrophobia.

I want to tell the story of another time and another place not so long ago that was also stifled by the absence of novelty and lacking a convincing vision of the future. It was in the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and 1980s. At the time they called it “the years of stagnation”.

There are of course vast differences between our present society and the Soviet Union of thirty years ago – for one thing they had practically no consumer goods whereas we are surrounded by them, and for another western capitalism was waiting in the wings to fill the vacuum. But there are also echoes of our present mood – a grand economic system that had once promised heaven on earth had become absurd and corrupted.

Everyone in Russia in the early 1980s knew that the managers and technocrats in charge of the economy were using that absurdity to loot the system and enrich themselves. The politicians were unable to do anything because they were in the thrall of the economic theory, and thus of the corrupt technocrats. And above all no-one in the political class could imagine any alternative future.

In the face of this most Soviet people turned away from politics and any form of engagement with society and lived day by day in a world that they knew was absurd, trapped by the lack of a vision of any other way.

But in the late 1970s a post-political generation rose up in Russia who retreated from all conventional political ideologies, both communist and western capitalist, and instead turned to radical avant-garde culture – in music and in literature – to try and protest against the absurdity of the system. I want to focus on their story – because it is fascinating and forgotten (and they produced some great music) – but also because of what happened to them when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Despite the differences between east and west, I think that the fate of that post-political generation does offer a glimpse of what happens in a stagnant political culture when a door finally opens on a different kind of future. Especially as some of the choices they made were very unexpected – and the outcomes sometimes very sad.’

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Paranoia and Patriotism: Putin’s Propaganda Machine

‘Despite sanctions, a plummeting economy, and isolation from the world as a result of its actions in Ukraine, a wave of patriotic fervor is spreading across Russia. Thousands of Russians have attended rallies in support of President Vladimir Putin, whose popularity ratings remain sky-high, while voices of the opposition are increasingly stifled. On the streets and in the media, the Kremlin has tightened its grip on power. State-controlled television channels spin facts to bolster the government line, whipping up anti-Western sentiment and paranoia about internal enemies. Independent broadcasters are struggling to make themselves heard as the country grows more dangerous for journalists and popular figures who are critical of the authorities.’ (VICE News)

Adversarial Journalism in Russia and Dissecting the Propaganda Wars: Interview with Mark Ames

From Media Roots:

Journalist Mark Ames is the founder of The Exile, Exiled Online, senior editor for Not Safe for Work and regular contributor to Pando Daily

Mark lived in Russia and eventually started working on the satirical and hard hitting paper The Exile from the late 90s until it was effectively shut down by Moscow’s media censorship arm in 2008

Robbie Martin of Media Roots has a discussion with Mark about his experience in Russia, the completely ignored corrupt Boris Yeltsin years after the fall of the USSR and the complexities of the current information war.’

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW…

How for-profit prisons have become the biggest lobby no one is talking about

Michael Cohen reports for The Washington Post:

Several industries have become notorious for the millions they spend on influencing legislation and getting friendly candidates into office: Big Oil, Big Pharma and the gun lobby among them. But one has managed to quickly build influence with comparatively little scrutiny: Private prisons. The two largest for-profit prison companies in the United States – GEO and Corrections Corporation of America – and their associates have funneled more than $10 million to candidates since 1989 and have spent nearly $25 million on lobbying efforts. Meanwhile, these private companies have seen their revenue and market share soar. They now rake in a combined $3.3 billion in annual revenue and the private federal prison population more than doubled between 2000 and 2010, according to a report by the Justice Policy Institute. Private companies house nearly half of the nation’s immigrant detainees, compared to about 25 percent a decade ago, a Huffington Post report found. In total, there are now about 130 private prisons in the country with about 157,000 beds.

Marco Rubio is one of the best examples of the private prison industry’s growing political influence, a connection that deserves far more attention now that he’s officially launched a presidential bid. The U.S. senator has a history of close ties to the nation’s second-largest for-profit prison company, GEO Group, stretching back to his days as speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. While Rubio was leading the House, GEO was awarded a state government contract for a $110 million prison soon after Rubio hired an economic consultant who had been a trustee for a GEO real estate trust. Over his career, Rubio has received nearly $40,000 in campaign donations from GEO, making him the Senate’s top career recipient of contributions from the company. (Rubio’s office did not respond to requests for comment.)’

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How Big Money and Big Brother won the British Elections

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Insurge Intelligence:

The Conservatives have won the 2015 elections with a slim majority. Labour and the Liberal Democrats suffered unexpected crushing defeats, prompting their leaders, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, to resign. And despite winning a significant percentage of votes, UKIP only managed to win one seat, with its leader Nigel Farage also resigning after losing to a Tory MP.

But the Tory victory reveals precisely why British democracy is broken.

The ultimate determinant of which party won the elections was the money behind their political campaigns — the winning and losing parties correlate directly with the quantity of funding received. Yet there is also compelling evidence of another factor — interference from Britain’s security services.’

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Here’s what Britain voted for and will get with a Tory government

Lee Williams writes for The Independent:

I never thought I’d say a Tory victory feels like Christmas, but it really does. It’s just that we, the electorate, are the turkeys.

No doubt we’ll get what we voted for – five more years of the same, with a little bit more thrown on top. So let’s just remind ourselves what that’s going to look like.

First of all there’s that little matter of £12bn worth of cuts to the welfare system which the Conservatives have kept, wisely, under their hats. This will hit hardest the people who can least afford it – the poor, the disabled, the disadvantaged. The death toll due to welfare cuts will continue to mount. But never mind, hey? At least unemployment will continue to fall as more poor people are forced into unfair and inadequate contracts. In turn the number of food banks will continue to rise – already up from 56 to 445 under the Tories – as they desperately try to keep up with spiralling poverty.’

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David Axelrod: UK media most partisan I have seen – even more than Fox News

Ben Jacobs reports for The Guardian:

David Axelrod, the top aide to Barack Obama who travelled across the pond to advise Ed Miliband in the British election, has said he has never seen a media environment as partisan as the one in the UK.

Asked in an interview with Politico Europe whether he knew what he was getting into when he signed up to advise the British Labour leader, Axelrod replied: “We discussed this when I signed on … I’ve worked in aggressive media environments before but not this partisan.”

Axelrod, who shepherded Obama through two presidential campaigns and the constant media churn of cable news and talk radio, said he thought American media were far less driven by party politics than its British equivalent.

British conservative print media was not only more powerful than Fox News is in the US but was also far more partisan than the cable news network, Axelrod said.’

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Extreme finance: the European far-right and its funding

Corporate Observatory Europe reports:

[…] While there is no suggestion that UKIP has itself accepted donations from the Heritage Foundation (that would be illegal under UK party funding rules), the implication of this article is that UKIP has brokered a relationship to try to help another extreme far-right political group in the EU. The Heritage Foundation is a well-known right-wing think-tank espousing “free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense”. It has a record of funding European climate-sceptical thinktanks.

Meanwhile the Front National has admitted accepting (link is external)a €9 million loan from the First Czech Russian Bank, which is based in Moscow and is owned by Kremlin ally oligarch Roman Popov. The loan was apparently brokered by Front National MEP Jean-Luc Schaffhauser. Denying any impropriety, Marine Le Pen has said: “What is scandalous is that French banks aren’t lending”.

On this occasion at least, the European banks who refused to lend to the Front National have got it right. For extreme, far-right groups it seems easy to spout the rhetoric of independence and patriotism, and rather less easy to follow it when it comes to accepting funding.’

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David Cameron and the European Commission: Doing the business of business

Vicky Cann writes for Open Democracy:

Nobody likes the thought of ‘red tape’, over-regulation, and excessive ‘administrative burdens’. But what about rules to protect workers, the environment, and food safety? Actually, these are two sides of the same coin and right now a war is being fought in London and Brussels ostensibly against the former but actually against the latter.

Despite the self-promoted image of David Cameron standing up for Britain against the EU’s so-called bloated bureaucracy, there are some remarkable synergies between his record and that of the European Commission, especially in the area of deregulation and cutting ‘red tape’.

In the UK, the deregulation agenda embarked upon by the coalition hasn’t received the attention it deserves. What is often branded “better regulation” has been a remarkable ideological project driven by the belief that very little should stand in the way of business doing business.’

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Alex Jones, Michael Savage Team Up For Insane Obama Conspiracy

Behind the Political Spin: The British Election

‘This election is the closest in decades, so winning over an increasingly disillusioned electorate matters. But instead of actually facing the public, the risk-averse party leaders are stuck on a grim carousel of predictable press conferences and stage-managed photocalls.

Politicians are aided in their cause by an army of spin-doctors that minimize unscripted interactions with journalists and the public alike. These media buffers, crowd fluffers, and party cheerleaders help the campaign stay on message, but in doing so they keep politicians evasive, and the public at arm’s length.

VICE News joined the campaign trail to confront the journalists, spin-doctors, and leaders who all have a part to play in the evolution of this Pyongyang press junket that serves to lock out the great, unvetted public.’ (VICE NEWS)

Corruption is Legal in America

What we can learn from Judith Miller’s rehab tour

Neil Lewis writes for Columbia Journalism Review:

Judith Miller’s publicity campaign for her new book (The Story: A Reporter’s Journey) which has taken her from the Wall Street Journal to numerous television interviews, has been an instructive and engaging media spectacle.

She has shown characteristic passion and energy in attempting to defend her journalistic reputation after being pummeled during her final years at The New York Times for, among other things, writing persuasively that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

But it is discouraging that the truth can be challenged by a determined and wily opponent with a platform to propound discredited ideas. And Miller has long been given such a platform, first by The Times and now by a prominent book publisher.

In my 24 years at The Times I frequently worked with Miller, often unhappily, as I will explain. Her efforts at recasting events have thus not been a surprise to me.’

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Colombia’s ex-intel chief jailed for domestic spying

AFP reports:

Former Colombian Chief of Intelligence Maria del Pilar Hurtado during a trial against her, in Bogota, ColombiaA Colombian former intelligence chief was jailed for 14 years on Thursday for spying on judges, journalists and opposition figures in a high-profile case that stained the legacy of popular ex-president Alvaro Uribe.

The Supreme Court convicted Maria del Pilar Hurtado in February of ordering illegal wiretaps on a former senator, two opposition politicians, the mayor of Bogota and its own judges during Uribe’s presidency from 2002 to 2010.

The sentence was less than the 20 years requested by prosecutors.’

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