Category Archives: Corporations

How Capitalists Control Mass Movements

Stephanie McMillan writes for CounterPunch:

payumcmill‘We really need to understand the methods used by NGOs to undermine radical political organizing efforts and divert us into political dead ends. The People’s Climate March is a good case study because it’s so blatant.

In South Florida, we saw the exact same process after the BP oil spill. Once the NGOs came in to the organizing meetings and were given the floor, all potential resistance was blocked, strangled, and left for dead. NGOs will descend on any organizing effort and try to take it over, dilute it, and bring it eventually to the Democratic Party. We can also see an identical set-up with the established labor unions and many other organizations.

If organizers are being paid, usually they are trapped in this dynamic, whether or not they want to be. While combining a job with organizing to challenge the system sounds very tempting and full of potential, it’s overwhelmingly not possible. They are two fundamentally incompatible aims, and those funding the job definitely do not have the aim of allowing its employees to undermine the system — the very system that allows the funders to exist, that they feed off of.’

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Totalitarianism, American Style

Chris Hedges recently spoke during a panel discussion in New York:

‘We have undergone a transformation during the last few decades—what John Ralston Saul calls a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. We are no longer a capitalist democracy endowed with a functioning liberal class that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. Liberals in the old Democratic Party such as the senators Gaylord Nelson, Birch Bayh and George McGovern—who worked with Ralph Nader to make the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Mine Safety and Health Act, the Freedom of Information Act and the OSHA law, who made common cause with labor unions to protect workers, who stood up to the arms industry and a bloated military—no longer exist within the Democratic Party, as Nader has been lamenting for several years. They were pushed out as corporate donors began to transform the political landscape with the election of Ronald Reagan. And this is why the Democrats have not, as Bill Curry points out, enacted any major social or economic reforms since the historic environmental laws of the early ’70s.

We are governed, rather, by a species of corporate totalitarianism, or what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as “inverted totalitarianism.” By this Wolin means a system where corporate power, while it purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the Constitution, the three branches of government and a free press, along with the iconography and language of American patriotism, has in fact seized all the important levers of power to render the citizen impotent.’

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Reporters say White House sometimes demands changes to press-pool reports

Paul Farhi reports for The Washington Post:

‘Journalists who cover the White House say Obama’s press aides have demanded — and received — changes in press-pool reports before the reports have been disseminated to other journalists. They say the White House has used its unusual role as the distributor of the reports as leverage to steer coverage in a more favorable direction.

The disputed episodes involve mostly trivial issues and minor matters of fact. But that the White House has become involved at all represents a troubling trend for journalists and has prompted their main representative, the White House Correspondents’ Association, to consider revising its approach to pool reporting.’

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Inside Tesco’s bonus-fuelled regime of fear and machismo

Simon Neville reports for The Independent:

‘Approaching the 1960s five- storey concrete monolith of New Tesco House, you could be forgiven for forgetting that you are arriving at the third- largest retailer in the world.

Unlike Sainsbury’s glass-clad headquarters in the heart of central London, Tesco’s HQ sits on the edge of the M25 motorway on a dire industrial estate with little more than a Tesco Metro, a fountain and a handful of charity shops for company.

But Tesco’s Cheshunt base – where it has been since Jack Cohen founded the retailer in 1919 in a single-floor barracks-style building – serves the purpose of intimidating suppliers and keeping staff in their place.

[...] Looking closer at the culture at Cheshunt under the two previous chief executives, Sir Terry Leahy and Phil Clarke, a story unfolds of a regimented atmosphere where targets were king and to miss them would lead to a dressing down that could make Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer treatment look mild. Both men wanted to create their own legacies. They led with cast-iron fists and dissenters would not be tolerated.’

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Tunisia’s Islamist Party Hires American PR Giant Burson-Marsteller

Editor’s Note: For more on Burson-Marsteller see here

Julian Pecquet reports for Al Monitor:

‘Tunisia’s Ennahda movement has hired public relations giant Burson-Marsteller to boost its image in the United States ahead of elections that could see the Islamist party return to power.

The public relations push by the Muslim Brotherhood-inspired group comes as the Barack Obama administration has declared war on Islamists in Iraq and all but signed off on the military coup that deposed its ideological brethren in Egypt. Ennahda, by contrast, is keen to maintain good relations with the United States, which has provided an economic lifeline to the struggling nation.

“They still have to live down the reputation of Islamists coming to power in the Middle East,” said David Ottoway, senior scholar with the Wilson Center’s Middle East program. “I think they’re anxious to show that there is a side of the Islamists that believes in democracy.”‘

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How Former Treasury Officials and the UAE Are Manipulating American Journalists

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

Featured photo - How Former Treasury Officials and the UAE Are Manipulating American Journalists‘The tiny and very rich Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar has become a hostile target for two nations with significant influence in the U.S.: Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Israel is furious over Qatar’s support for Palestinians generally and (allegedly) Hamas specifically, while the UAE is upset that Qatar supports the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (UAE supports the leaders of the military coup) and that Qatar funds Islamist rebels in Libya (UAE supports forces aligned with Ghadaffi (see update below)).

This animosity has resulted in a new campaign in the west to demonize the Qataris as the key supporter of terrorism. The Israelis have chosen the direct approach of publicly accusing their new enemy in Doha of being terrorist supporters, while the UAE has opted for a more covert strategy: paying millions of dollars to a U.S. lobbying firm – composed of former high-ranking Treasury officials from both parties – to plant anti-Qatar stories with American journalists. That more subtle tactic has been remarkably successful, and shines important light on how easily political narratives in U.S. media discourse can be literally purchased.’

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Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracy

AlterNet has republished a recently delivered speech by Noam Chomsky from Bonn, Germany at DW Global Media Forum:

Chomsky: The U.S. behaves nothing like a democracy‘[...] According to received doctrine, we live in capitalist democracies, which are the best possible system, despite some flaws. There’s been an interesting debate over the years about the relation between capitalism and democracy, for example, are they even compatible? I won’t be pursuing this because I’d like to discuss a different system – what we could call the “really existing capitalist democracy”, RECD for short, pronounced “wrecked” by accident. To begin with, how does RECD compare with democracy? Well that depends on what we mean by “democracy”. There are several versions of this. One, there is a kind of received version. It’s soaring rhetoric of the Obama variety, patriotic speeches, what children are taught in school, and so on. In the U.S. version, it’s government “of, by and for the people”. And it’s quite easy to compare that with RECD.

In the United States, one of the main topics of academic political science is the study of attitudes and policy and their correlation. The study of attitudes is reasonably easy in the United States: heavily-polled society, pretty serious and accurate polls, and policy you can see, and you can compare them. And the results are interesting. In the work that’s essentially the gold standard in the field, it’s concluded that for roughly 70% of the population – the lower 70% on the wealth/income scale – they have no influence on policy whatsoever. They’re effectively disenfranchised. As you move up the wealth/income ladder, you get a little bit more influence on policy. When you get to the top, which is maybe a tenth of one percent, people essentially get what they want, i.e. they determine the policy. So the proper term for that is not democracy; it’s plutocracy.’

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The Left and the New Media

Jeffrey St. Clair writes for CounterPunch:

‘Chomsky taught two generations how to read the paper of record, how to detect the warps in its stories, the subtle biases and false constructions, the decisive elisions of context, and servility toward elite power. What Chomsky could do not was toteach us how to stop reading the New York Times. As a result, thousands of activists around the globe reach for the Times (or the Guardian or the Washington Post) each morning, with red pens in hand, begin marking it up and grinding the enamel off their teeth.

Being Luddites, Cockburn and I were late-comers to the web. Our journal CounterPunch didn’t go online until the late 1990s, as the sun was going down on the Clinton administration. But it wasn’t long before we realized the web offered an exit from what we called the Chomsky Paradox, an existential dilemma that often keeps the Left mired in a hostile environment fight phantoms—namely, political reality as constructed by the editors of the elite media.’

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Reluctant Warrior Bombs Yet Another Country

Peter Hart writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

Obama cartoon (Peter Brookes) ‘If there’s one thing elite media seem to know for sure, it’s that Barack Obama doesn’t like war. One phrase in particular seems to stand out:

It was a remarkable moment for a reluctant warrior.

–Jonathan Karl (ABC Nightline, 9/10/14)’

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Propaganda’s Triumph: From War-Weary to War-Hungry

Ben Schreiner writes for CounterPunch:

‘Those doubting the effectiveness of the mass propaganda system in America—the vaunted home of the “free press”—would be wise to examine the remarkable shift in public opinion occurring in regards to the reintroduction of American forces into Iraq.

At the beginning of the summer, a time when the propaganda system was fully consumed with demonizing Comrade Putin of Red Russia, only a minority of Americans expressed support in that greatest of American pastimes: the hurling of American bombs at Iraq.  Come September, however, and such support has suddenly vaulted to an amazing 71-percent.  Even more remarkable, a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found 34-percent now favoring the use of ground troops in the fight against the Islamic State—i.e., the threat “beyond anything that we’ve seen.

What happened?  After all, one need only go back mere weeks to witness the power elite openly fretting over just how to overcome American war fatigue.  And now, amid ongoing economic and social crises at home, the necessary political space has been opened for the American Congress to approve millions of more dollars in military expenditures in the fight against Islamic rebels without eliciting little more than a whimper of popular protest.

The answer for what has occurred lies in the propaganda system.’

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Is it over for ALEC? Interview with Jane Carter

Managing a Nightmare: The CIA Reveals How It Watched Over the Destruction of Gary Webb

Ryan Devereaux writes for The Intercept:

dark_alliance_540‘Eighteen years after it was published, “Dark Alliance,” the San Jose Mercury News’s bombshell investigation into links between the cocaine trade, Nicaragua’s Contra rebels, and African American neighborhoods in California, remains one of the most explosive and controversial exposés in American journalism.

The 20,000-word series enraged black communities, prompted Congressional hearings, and became one of the first major national security stories in history to blow up online. It also sparked an aggressive backlash from the nation’s most powerful media outlets, which devoted considerable resources to discredit author Gary Webb’s reporting. Their efforts succeeded, costing Webb his career. On December 10, 2004, the journalist was found dead in his apartment, having ended his eight-year downfall with two .38-caliber bullets to the head.

These days, Webb is being cast in a more sympathetic light. He’s portrayed heroically in a major motion picture set to premiere nationwide next month. And documents newly released by the CIA provide fresh context to the “Dark Alliance” saga — information that paints an ugly portrait of the mainstream media at the time.

On September 18, the agency released a trove of documents spanning three decades of secret government operations. Culled from the agency’s in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence, the materials include a previously unreleased six-page article titled “Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story.” Looking back on the weeks immediately following the publication of “Dark Alliance,” the document offers a unique window into the CIA’s internal reaction to what it called “a genuine public relations crisis” while revealing just how little the agency ultimately had to do to swiftly extinguish the public outcry. Thanks in part to what author Nicholas Dujmovic, a CIA Directorate of Intelligence staffer at the time of publication, describes as “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists,” the CIA’s Public Affairs officers watched with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter.’

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Eric Holder’s legacy on Wall Street, Voting Rights, Civil Liberties and Press Freedom

Bill Black says Eric Holder’s legacy on “too big to fail” is “too big to jail”:

Mike Papantonio on Eric Holder’s relationship to the corporate world:

Part of a Democracy Now! round-table discussion on Eric Holder’s “complex legacy”:

Zeitgeist’s Peter Joseph on Wealth Illusion, Structural Violence & Hope for Survival

Abby Martin interviews the creator of the Zeitgeist Movement, Peter Joseph, covering everything from the upcoming Zeitgeist Festival in Los Angeles on October 4th to economic and societal solutions to global problems ranging from environmental destruction to mass inequality. (Breaking the Set)

The new ‘Blair rich project’: Pushing the Trans-Adriatic pipeline against Italians’ objections

Claudio Gallo writes for RT:

Trans Adriatic Pipeline (Image from wikipedia.org by Genti77)‘[...] Yo, Blair – what are you doing this time? He is pushing a huge global project in the name of some big guys who care less than nothing that the local people don’t want it.

The scheme is, as always, a case of powerful elites against ordinary people, and guess which side he is for? He is gazing now at Puglia’s southern coasts in his capacity of facilitator of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president, nominated in 2012 for Person of the Year by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the TAP consortium of energy, Trans Adriatic Pipeline, formed by British oil giant BP (20 percent), Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR (20 percent), Norway’s Statoil (20 percent), Belgium’s Fluxys (16 percent), France’s Total (10 percent), Germany’s E.ON” (9 percent) and Switzerland’s di Axpo (5 percent). It’s a 2,000-mile pipeline transporting gas from Shah Deniz-2, the biggest Azeri gas field in the Caspian Sea, across Turkey, Greece and Albania to Italy.’

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West Papua: A no-go zone for foreign journalists

Al Jazeera reports:

‘[...] Since Indonesia took over the territory in 1963, the central government has restricted the access of journalists, activists, researchers, diplomats and aid workers. Conditions there can thus be difficult to discern from afar, but the province is known for its active independence movement; political prisoners, who are often jailed for raising the banned separatist flag; abuses by security forces; and the extreme poverty in which most Papuans live despite their homeland’s vast natural wealth.

While the government says journalists can travel freely in some parts of West Papua, as tourists can, reporters inquiring about political and human rights issues are routinely denied the permit required to enter. The policy amounts to a de facto ban on real reporting and is condemned by the United Nations, Western governments and human-rights organizations. Indonesia ranks 132nd on Reporters Without Borders’ latest World Press Freedom Index; the study specifically mentions West Papua, calling it a “forbidden area” where “the work of journalists is handicapped by draconian news control policies.”’

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John Oliver on the Miss America Pageant

Game Theory + Market Democracy

Giant Corporations Want to Control All of Your Beer

Benjamin Dangl writes for CounterPunch:

Beer Brand Brands‘The variety of the craft-brewing wave sweeping the US makes drinking beer more fun than ever. Maine’s Flying Dog Brewery brews a beer from local oysters, and the Delaware-based Dogfish Head uses an ancient beer recipe they dug up from 2,700-year-old drinking vessels in the tomb of King Midas.

But as this trend spreads, there’s another revolution going on that’s concentrating most of the world’s beer into the hands of just a few mega-corporations. These kings of beer are riding the wave of craft brewing enthusiasm, buying up smaller breweries, and duping customers along the way.’

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The Lobbying Act: Money Still Buys Influence

From The Morning Star:

Lobbying Act: Condemned by the NUJ‘David Cameron warned before the last general election that lobbying was “the next big scandal waiting to happen.” It was during his concerted offensive to persuade us that the Tory leopard had changed its spots and that decency, fairness and honesty rather than greed and self-interest now dictated its policies. “It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long — an issue that exposes the far too cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money,” he went on.

[...] According to the provisions of the Lobbying Act that came into force yesterday, such easy at-a-price access to ministers poses less of a threat to democracy than the transparent campaigning of trade unions, charities and single-issue groups. Lobbyists for powerful corporate vested interests will be free to enjoy confidential meetings with ministers while people seeking to hold government to account will be frustrated. Trade unions, charities and single-issue campaigns will have unreasonable limits imposed on the amount of finance they can devote to activity during an election period even though the sums they raise are puny in comparison to the funds raised directly by business for the Tories or the wall-to-wall propaganda deployed by pro-Tory media’

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CIA brags about press manipulation and more in newly declassified journal articles

Cora Currier reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - The CIA’s Secret Journal Articles Are Gossipy, Snarky, and No Longer Classified‘The CIA has declassified a trove of articles from its in-house journal, Studies in Intelligence. Ostensibly a semi-academic review of spycraft, Studies emerges in the pieces, which date from the 1970s to the 2000s, as so much more, at turns mocking excessive secrecy and bad writing, dishing on problematic affairs, and bragging about press manipulation.

Of course, there is plenty of self-serious material in the journal too, including scholarly reviews, first-person memoirs, interviews and intellectual ruminations on everything from maps to “How We Are Perceived” and “Ethics and Clandestine Collection.”

The CIA posted the hundreds of declassified articles to its FOIA site… The documents include a 2004 interview with current CIA director John Brennan and a 2000 interview with Michael Hayden, then head of the NSA. “Everything’s secret,” Hayden tells Studies. “I mean, I got an email saying, ‘Merry Christmas.’ It carried a Top Secret NSA classification marking.” He also describes how the NSA had begun on a media offensive, to “put a human face on the agency.”’

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Capitalism and Climate Change Redux

Rob Urie writes for CounterPunch:

uriecapclim1‘[...] Today the ‘logic’ of capitalism is fully instantiated in the West with privatization of public resources, the granting of extra-personal rights to corporations, the diminution of local and regional governance in favor of corporate privilege and rights and heavily militarized public-private police forces used to enforce corporate ‘rights’ and to protect the privilege of the wealthy. But it is corporate globalism that makes political resolution in any dimension, including environmental issues like global warming, so intractable. Even if local and regional political control could be recovered the ability of large corporations to shift production to areas more fully under corporate-state control means that global issues must be dealt with globally.

The large scale dislocations likely to be caused by global warming, by dead and dying oceans and by ‘private’ control over crop seeds, arable land and water supplies, suggest that current circumstance and trajectory are dire. They also suggest that global warming is only one of a host of related environmental issues in need of rectification. Even without the overwhelming evidence that already exists that environmental degradation and destruction are radically altering the world basic prudence would argue for dramatic measures toward environmental reconciliation. The challenge for / to climate change deniers is that if they are wrong ‘the world’ in any form recognizable to us will no longer exist. The risks of doing nothing versus something to resolve environmental destruction are wildly asymmetrical.’

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How the People’s Climate March Became a Corporate PR Campaign

Arun Gupta writes for CounterPunch:

‘Environmental activist Anne Petermann and writer Quincy Saul describe how the People’s Climate March has no demands, no targets,and no enemy. Organizers admitted encouraging bankers to march was like saying Blackwater mercenaries should join an antiwar protest. There is no unity other than money. One veteran activist who was involved in Occupy Wall Street said it was made known there was plenty of money to hire her and others. There is no sense of history: decades of climate-justice activism are being erased by the incessant invocation of the “biggest climate change demonstration ever.” Investigative reporter Cory Morningstar has connected the dots between the organizing groups, 350.org and Avaaz, the global online activist outfit modeled on MoveOn, and institutions like the World Bank and Clinton Global Initiative. Morningstar claims the secret of Avaaz’s success is its “expertise in behavioral change.”

That is what I find most troubling. Having worked on Madison Avenue for nearly a decade, I can smell a P.R. and marketing campaign a mile away. That’s what the People’s Climate March looks to be. According to inside sources a push early on for a Seattle-style event—organizing thousands of people to nonviolently shut down the area around the United Nations—was thwarted by paid staff with the organizing groups.’

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Naomi Klein on Capitalism vs. the Climate

Trust in Mainstream Media Hits All-Time Low in US: : Interview with Chris Chambers

Journalists criticize White House for ‘secrecy’

Michael Tarm reports for The Associated Press:

‘Editors and reporters meeting in Chicago raised concerns Wednesday about what they described as a lack of access and transparency undermining journalists’ work, several blaming the current White House for setting standards for secrecy that are spreading nationwide.

Criticism of President Barack Obama’s administration on the issue of openness in government came on the last day of a three-day joint convention of the American Society of News Editors, the Associated Press Media Editors and the Associated Press Photo Managers.’

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The Trews: Westminster Fear and Media Bias Shafted Scotland

How the media shafted the people of Scotland

George Monbiot writes for The Guardian:

‘Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – that supports independence except the Sunday Herald. The Scots who will vote yes have been almost without representation in the media.

There is nothing unusual about this. Change in any direction, except further over the brink of market fundamentalism and planetary destruction, requires the defiance of almost the entire battery of salaried opinion. What distinguishes the independence campaign is that it has continued to prosper despite this assault.

In the coverage of the referendum we see most of the pathologies of the corporate media. Here, for instance, you will find the unfounded generalisations with which less enlightened souls are characterised. In the Spectator, Simon Heffer maintains that: “addicted to welfare … Scots embraced the something for nothing society”, objecting to the poll tax “because many of them felt that paying taxes ought to be the responsibility of someone else”.’

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John Pilger: Breaking the last taboo – Gaza and the threat of world war

John Pilger recently delivered a speech at the Edward Said Memorial Lecture in Australia:

C2t.jpg‘”There is a taboo,” said the visionary Edward Said, “on telling the truth about Palestine and the great destructive force behind Israel. Only when this truth is out can any of us be free.”

For many people, the truth is out now. At last, they know. Those once intimidated into silence can’t look away now. Staring at them from their TV, laptop, phone, is proof of the barbarism of the Israeli state and the great destructive force of its mentor and provider, the United States, the cowardice of European governments, and the collusion of others, such as Canada and Australia, in this epic crime.

The attack on Gaza was an attack on all of us. The siege of Gaza is a siege of all of us. The denial of justice to Palestinians is a symptom of much of humanity under siege and a warning that the threat of a new world war is growing by the day.’

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Newsweek’s Monkey Meat Ebola Fearmongering

Peter Hart recently wrote for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

newsweek-bushmeat‘It’s 2014, and a national magazine has a cover story about how African immigrants might spread a deadly virus in the United States, thanks to the peculiar and unsanitary food they eat. The cover image is a photo of a chimpanzee.

Yes, this really happened.

“A Back Door For Ebola: Smuggled Bushmeat Could Spark a US Epidemic” read the headline on the August 29 Newsweek, a profoundly shocking  image and message that immediately drew criticism.

But the problems of the piece were bigger than just the cover. The piece is built around the idea that illegally imported “bushmeat”–what we would call “wild game” if it were being eaten in the United States–could carry the deadly Ebola virus.’

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