Category Archives: Corporations

How Donald Trump’s New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists

Sarah Posner reports for Mother Jones:

Last week, when Donald Trump tapped the chairman of Breitbart Media to lead his campaign, he wasn’t simply turning to a trusted ally and veteran propagandist. By bringing on Stephen Bannon, Trump was signaling a wholehearted embrace of the “alt-right,” a once-motley assemblage of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, ethno-nationalistic provocateurs who have coalesced behind Trump and curried the GOP nominee’s favor on social media. In short, Trump has embraced the core readership of Breitbart News.

“We’re the platform for the alt-right,” Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July. Though disavowed by every other major conservative news outlet, the alt-right has been Bannon’s target audience ever since he took over Breitbart News from its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, four years ago. Under Bannon’s leadership, the site has plunged into the fever swamps of conservatism, cheering white nationalist groups as an “eclectic mix of renegades,” accusing President Barack Obama of importing “more hating Muslims,” and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of “political correctness.”

“Andrew Breitbart despised racism. Truly despised it,” former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wrote last week on the Daily Wire, a conservative website. “With Bannon embracing Trump, all that changed. NowBreitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [technology editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism  as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”

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Amy Goodman speaks to Mother Jones investigative journalist Sarah Posner (author of the above article) and Heather McGhee of Demos, about Donald Trump’s new campaign chief Stephen Bannon, the executive chairman of ‘alt-right’ media organisation Breitbart News. (Democracy Now!) 

ECB Secretly Hands Cash to Select Corporations

Don Quijones reports for Wolf Street:

In June, the ECB began buying the bonds of some of the most powerful companies in Europe as well as the European subsidiaries of foreign multinationals. This pushed the average yield on euro investment-grade corporate debt to 0.65%. Large quantities of highly rated corporate debt with shorter maturities are trading at negative yields, where brainwashed investors engage in the absurdity of paying for the privilege of lending money to corporations. By August 12, the ECB had handed out over €16 billion in freshly printed money in exchange for corporate bonds.

Throughout, the public was given to understand that the ECB was buying already-issued bonds trading in secondary markets. But the public has been fooled.

Now it has been revealed by The Wall Street Journal that the ECB has also secretly been buying bonds directly from companies, thus handing them directly its freshly printed money.

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The Summer of the Media Shill

Matt Taibbi writes for Rolling Stone:

Years ago, when I was an exchange student in the Soviet Union, a Russian friend explained how he got his news.

“For news about Russia, Radio Liberty,” he said. “For news about America, Soviet newspapers.” He smiled. “Countries lie about themselves, tell truth about others.”

American media consumers are fast approaching the same absurd binary reality. We now have one set of news outlets that gives us the bad news about Democrats, and another set of news outlets bravely dedicated to reporting the whole truth about Republicans.

Like the old adage about quarterbacks – if you think you have two good ones, you probably have none – this basically means we have no credible news media left. Apart from a few brave islands of resistance, virtually all the major news organizations are now fully in the tank for one side or the other.

The last month or so of Trump-Hillary coverage may have been the worst stretch of pure journo-shilling we’ve seen since the run-up to the Iraq war. In terms of political media, there’s basically nothing left on the air except Trump-bashing or Hillary-bashing.

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U.S. Government Says It Will End the Use of Private Federal Prisons

Hanna Kozlowska reports for Quartz:

The Department of Justice will be moving to end the use of private federal prisons in the United States, according to a memo by deputy attorney general Sally Yates.

“They simply do not provide the same level of correctional services, programs, and resources; they do not save substantially on costs; and as noted in a recent report by the Department’s Office of Inspector General, they do not maintain the same level of safety and security,” Yates wrote, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the story.

The 13 prisons won’t be shut down immediately. Yates told prison officials to either “substantially reduce” the scope of contracts when they expire, or decline to renew them altogether—and this will happen over the next five years.

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Why Did Hillary Clinton Tap a Pro-TPP, Pro-KXL, Pro-Fracking Politician to Head Her Transition Team?

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to David Sirota, senior editor for investigations at the International Business Times, about Hillary Clinton announcing former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of her transition team. (Democracy Now!)

Hillary Clinton Picks TPP and Fracking Advocate To Set Up Her White House

Zaid Jilani and Naomi LaChance report for The Intercept:

Two big issues dogged Hillary Clinton during the Democratic primary: the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (TPP) and fracking. She had a long history of supporting both.

Under fire from Bernie Sanders, she came out against the TPP and took a more critical position on fracking. But critics wondered if this was a sincere conversion or simply campaign rhetoric.

Now, in two of the most significant personnel moves she will ever make, she has signaled a lack of sincerity.

She chose as her vice presidential running mate Tim Kaine, who voted to authorize fast-track powers for the TPP and praised the agreement just two days before he was chosen.

And now she has named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be the chair of her presidential transition team — the group tasked with helping set up the new administration should she win in November. That includes identifying, selecting, and vetting candidates for over 4,000 presidential appointments.

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Google employees have enjoyed revolving door during Obama administration

Johnny Kampis reports for Watchdog.org:

Photo illustration from LinkedIn photosMore than 250 people have moved from Google and related firms to the federal government or vice versa since President Barack Obama took office.

The Google Transparency Project, the work of Campaign for Accountability, poured over reams of data to find 258 instances of “revolving door activity” between Google or its associated companies and the federal government, national political campaigns and Congress since 2009.

Much of that revolving door activity took place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, where 22 former White House officials went to work for Google and 31 executives from Google and related firms went to work at the White House or were appointed to federal advisory boards by Obama. Those boards include the President’s Council on Science and Technology and the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Regulation watchdogs may be just as keen about the moves between Google and the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission. Those government bodies regulate many of the programs that are at the heart of Google’s business, and there have been at least 15 moves between Google and its lobbying firms and those commissions.

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Did Companies and Countries Buy State Dept. Access by Donating to Clinton Foundation? Interview with James Grimaldi

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter James Grimaldi of The Wall Street Journal, who has covered the Clinton Foundation for years, looks at the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department during Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state, and what it would be if she became president. (Democracy Now!)

Today’s Tech Oligarchs Are Worse Than the Robber Barons

Joel Kotkin writes for The Daily Beast:

A decade ago these guys—and they are mostly guys—were folk heroes, and for many people, they remain so. They represented everything traditional business, from Wall Street and Hollywood to the auto industry, in their pursuit of sure profits and golden parachutes, was not—hip, daring, risk-taking folk seeking to change the world for the better.

Now from San Francisco to Washington and Brussels, the tech oligarchs are something less attractive: a fearsome threat whose ambitions to control our future politics, media, and commerce seem without limits. Amazon, Google, Facebook, Netflix, and Uber may be improving our lives in many ways, but they also are disrupting old industries—and the lives of the many thousands of people employed by them. And as the tech boom has expanded, these individuals and companies have gathered economic resources to match their ambitions.

And as their fortunes have ballooned, so has their hubris. They see themselves as somehow better than the scum of Wall Street or the trolls in Houston or Detroit. It’s their intelligence, not just their money, that makes them the proper global rulers. In their contempt for the less cognitively gifted, they are waging what The Atlantic recently called “a war on stupid people.”

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BBC must end ‘he said, she said’ approach to coverage of government statistics and scrutinise claims, says Trust report

Dominic Ponsford reports for Press Gazette:

Picture: ShutterstockThe BBC is guilty of quoting government statistics without holding them up to sufficient scrutiny, according to a report by commissioned by the BBC Trust.

The report also found that 73 per cent of statistical references in the news come from Conservative politicians.

The BBC Trust has commissioned an impartiality review into how the corporation presents facts and figures in its news stories.

It said its presenters should be in a better position to challenge numbers, especially when interviewing guests.

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The Financial Firm That Cornered the Market on Jails

Arun Gupta reports for The Nation:

Prison block[…] Numi is one of many for-profit players in an increasingly privatized prison industry. State spending alone on corrections hit $52.4 billion in 2012. Hundreds of private-sector contractors now provide food, clothing, riot gear, phone service, computers, and health care, in addition to directly operating many correctional facilities. In addition, prisoners and their families pay for numerous services, including phone calls, a $1.2 billion-a-year business, according to The New York Times.

At least 10 companies now offer release cards or inmate banking services to correctional systems. JPMorgan Chase does not give a card to each and every prisoner, but according to the Center for Public Integrity, it has a “lock” on the Federal Bureau of Prisons population, which currently stands at just under 200,000. At the state level, CPI found that JPay, a company founded in 2002, dominates, generating “well over $50 million in revenue” in 2013. (It was acquired for $250 million in 2015 by Securus Technologies, a Dallas-based prison phone provider.) But when it comes to county jails, Numi has quietly become a big player.

Numi is now in more than 400 jails across the country, including large facilities that house up to 8,500 inmates, and the company issues more than 600,000 cards a year. That’s enough to make Numi one of the top 10 providers nationwide of prepaid cards of all kinds, according to Adam Rust, research director of the North Carolina–based Reinvestment Partners, which advocates against predatory lending practices. The Mercator Advisory Group estimates the entire US prepaid-card market was $594 billion in 2014.

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Roger Ailes Used Fox News Budget to Finance ‘Black-Room’ Campaigns Against His Enemies

Gabriel Sherman reports for New York Magazine:

As Rupert Murdoch seeks to stabilize Fox News in the wake of Roger Ailes’s ouster, a crucial question remains unanswered: How was Ailes able to spend millions of dollars to settle sexual-harassment claims without setting off alarm bells?

According to three highly placed sources, part of the answer is that there were few checks on Ailes when it came to the Fox News budget. “It was the culture,” one Fox executive said. “You didn’t ask questions, and Roger wouldn’t entertain questions.” One former News Corp executive explained that because Fox made more than $1 billion in annual profits, the funds that were used for settlements amounted to little more than “a roundingerror.”

But with Ailes gone, Fox executives are now looking closely at how Ailes spent Fox money. And what they are discovering is that, beyond the sexual-harassment claims, Ailes was also able to use portions of the Fox budget to hire consultants, political operatives, and private detectives who reported only to him, according to a senior Fox source. Last week, according to the source, Fox News dismissed five consultants whom Ailes had hired to do work that was more about advancing his own agenda than Fox’s.

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Trump Is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism

Jim Rutenberg writes for The New York Times:

If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?

Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.

But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?

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Matt Taibbi on Libor and How the Failure to Fix Wall Street Propelled Trump’s Rise

Amy Goodman speaks to Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi about Barclays Bank agreeing to pay $100 million in a settlement with 44 U.S. states for rigging Libor, as well as Donald Trump’s speech at the Detroit Economic Club where he announced his economic plan and team, which includes Henry Paulson. Taibbi also goes over Trump’s stating that he would reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership and renegotiate trade deals including NAFTA. (Democracy Now!)

John Oliver on the State of Journalism

The newspaper industry is suffering. That’s bad news for journalists — both real and fictional. (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver)

How Private Equity Profits Off the Daily Lives of Americans

When you woke up this morning, chances are your morning routine was touched in some way by a private equity firm. From the water you drink to the roads you drive to work, to the morning newspaper you read, Wall Street firms are playing an increasingly influential role in daily life. Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez speak to reporter Danielle Ivory, one of the contributors to the New York Times series on the subject of the increasing role of private equity in the daily lives of Americans. (Democracy Now!)

Russian News May Be Biased – But So Is Much Western Media

Dr. Piers Robinson writes for The Guardian:

As tensions continue to escalate with Russia, increasing attention is being paid in western media to what are frequently described as the “propaganda” activities of Vladimir Putin’s regime. The Sun headlines“Putin’s glamorous propaganda girls who front a new UK-based news agency ‘that aims to destabilise Britain’” in reference to the recent establishment of Sputnik News in Edinburgh, while the Mail describes how “Vladimir Putin is waging a propaganda war on the UK”.

Most recently in the Times, a study by an MPhil student at the University of Oxford, Monica Richter, is reported to confirm that people who watch the 24-hour English-language news channel Russia Today (RT) are more likely to hold anti-western views. The tone of the Times article is clear: RT uses unqualified and “obscure” experts, is frequently sanctioned by Ofcom for bias and failure to remain impartial and, worst of all, actually seems to be “turning viewers against the west”. Perhaps the intended subtext of this particular news story is to warn people off watching non-western media for fear of betraying their home country in some way.

Whatever the accuracy, or lack thereof, of RT and whatever its actual impact on western audiences, one of the problems with these kinds of arguments is that they fall straight into the trap of presenting media that are aligned with official adversaries as inherently propagandistic and deceitful, while the output of “our” media is presumed to be objective and truthful. Moreover, the impression given is that our governments engage in truthful “public relations”, “strategic communication” and “public diplomacy” while the Russians lie through “propaganda”.

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BBC to Deploy Detection Vans to Snoop on Internet Users

BBCThe BBC is to spy on internet users in their homes by deploying a new generation of Wi-Fi detection vans to identify those illicitly watching its programmes online.

The Telegraph can disclose that from next month, the BBC vans will fan out across the country capturing information from private Wi-Fi networks in homes to “sniff out” those who have not paid the licence fee.

The corporation has been given legal dispensation to use the new technology, which is typically only available to crime-fighting agencies, to enforce the new requirement that people watching BBC programmes via the iPlayer must have a TV licence.

The disclosure will lead to fears about invasion of privacy and follows years of concern over the heavy-handed approach of the BBC towards those suspected of not paying the licence fee. However, the BBC insists that its inspectors will not be able to spy on other internet browsing habits of viewers.

The existence of the new strategy emerged in a report carried out by the National Audit Office (NAO).

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The Asian Panama Papers

Scilla Alecci and Alessia Cerantola report for The Diplomat:

The Asian Panama PapersWhen English businessman Neil Heywood was found dead at a hotel in Chongqing in 2011, the Chinese authorities were quick to dismiss the cause of death as “overconsumption of alcohol.” But it didn’t take long for the truth to surface. The case was reopened and, the following year, the wife of the city’s Communist Party chief and her aide were convicted of murder by poison. Their motive was an “economic conflict,” the authorities were reported saying.

Five years later, further details of the conflict behind the Heywood case emerged from documents leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

In April, a group of journalists reported that the alleged murderer, Gu Kailai, set up a company in the British Virgin Islands to buy a luxury villa in the south of France. “Gu murdered the associate because she was afraid he would reveal publicly that she owned the villa,” said Alexa Olesen, one of the reporters who combed through the massive cache of leaked documents. Now Gu’s secret dealings were unveiled. “I was stunned to find links” between the scandal and Mossack Fonseca, Olesen said. (Mossack Fonseca denied any wrongdoing.)

The investigation was part of the “Panama Papers,” the project led by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) which, since its publication in April, has made waves across the world with revelations about the use of offshore companies by heads of states, celebrities and sportsmen, criminals, and business tycoons.

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NBC executive: ‘Negative stories good for ad sales’

Alex Baker reports for Yahoo! Sports:

Negative stories in the run-up to an Olympics are nothing new. We saw them in Beijing in relation to human rights abuses in China, and in Sochi, regarding the city’s readiness to host the Games.

However, with the Rio Games, we seem to have reached a new level of negativity with Zika, protests, security concerns, and questions over not just the readiness of venues and athlete accommodations, but of the city’s very infrastructure. You’re probably thinking, this kind of negative press can’t be good for anybody.

Apparently, that’s not entirely true. Someone is in fact benefiting from the negative reports that have impacted ticket sales and led to many of the world’s top athletes dropping out of the Games altogether. Who you ask?

A television network.

That’s right, NBC. The old “Proud Peacock.” According to network executives, all these negative stories about Zika, social unrest and sewage-infested waters have raised awareness about the Games, and this has in turn helped to boost the network’s ad sales.

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$1.2 Billion and Counting: How NBCUniversal Secured Its Biggest Olympics Advertising Windfall Ever

Jason Lynch reports for Ad Week:

No matter what the final medal count looks like at the 2016 Summer Olympics, NBCUniversal is going to be Rio’s big winner.

One day before the games even begin, the company has already set an Olympics record with more than $1.2 billion in national ad sales, which includes broadcast, cable and digital advertising. It’s said to be the most by any network for any media event in U.S. history.

“We’ve surpassed what we thought was at one point an unobtainable threshold,” Seth Winter, evp, ad sales, NBC Sports Group, told reporters on a conference call from Rio today.

That is more than 20 percent ahead of its sales for the 2012 London Olympics, with about 75 percent of that revenue coming from NBC’s prime-time coverage of the games, said Winter. (According to data from Kantar Media, however, the Summer Games in London saw $1.33 billion in broadcast and cable ad spending, a figure that didn’t include digital.)

Sales have been strong across both linear and digital platforms with digital sales 33 percent above London’s levels. The strongest categories include automotive, beverages, telecommunications, insurance, movie studios and pharmaceuticals, as advertisers are “exceptionally bullish on this Games,” said Winter, who indicated at least one presidential campaign has also purchased Olympics advertising.

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Trump’s Bigotry Reminds US Media of Anywhere but Home

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR):

Politico: Donald Trump Tweets Like a Latin American Strongman."Donald Trump is an objectively terrifying candidate. He’s a racist, a xenophobe and a misogynist (in a surprisingly underrated manner). He dabbles in antisemitism and mocks his opponents like a middle school bully.

However, in their effort to critique Trump in a way that is “relatable” and generates clicks, corporate media all too often turn to lazy orientalist tropes and patriotic schlock to “other” him without having to do the messy work of ideological analysis, or running the risk of offending America’s nationalist sensibilities.

[…] The first instinct of many in the US press and political class is to treat Trump as if he’s some foreign entity, an exotic outsider who can only be referenced with regard to Less Civilized Countries. This tic was again found in President Barack Obama’s speech Wednesday night at the DNC, when he called  Trump “un-American.” Several pundits followed suit, praising this sentiment as clever and effective. Trump was something foreign, without precedent, that could only be understood in the context of things outside The Greatest Country on Earth.

But, as some on the left have noted, Trump is as American as apple pie.

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Political Fiction in an Age of Televised Lies

John W. Whitehead, President of the Rutherford Institute, writes for the Huffington Post:

Politics is entertainment. It is a heavily scripted, tightly choreographed, star-studded, ratings-driven, mass-marketed, costly exercise in how to sell a product—in this case, a presidential candidate—to dazzled consumers who will choose image over substance almost every time.

This year’s presidential election, much like every other election in recent years, is what historian Daniel Boorstin referred to as a “pseudo-event“: manufactured, contrived, confected and devoid of any intrinsic value save the value of being advertised. It is the end result of a culture that is moving away from substance toward sensationalism in an era of mass media.

As author Noam Chomsky rightly observed, “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.” In other words, we’re being sold a carefully crafted product by a monied elite who are masters in the art of making the public believe that they need exactly what is being sold to them, whether it’s the latest high-tech gadget, the hottest toy, or the most charismatic politician.

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Hillary Clinton is demolishing Donald Trump among hedge-fund donors

John Carney and Anupreeta Das report for Market Watch:

Hedge funds are playing a far bigger role in 2016 than in past elections—and Hillary Clinton has been the single biggest beneficiary.

Owners and employees of hedge funds have made $122.7 million in campaign contributions this election cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics—more than twice what they gave in the entire 2012 cycle and nearly 14% of total money donated from all sources so far.

The lines around what constitutes a hedge fund aren’t always clear in the data, or in the financial industry. But the numbers are stark. The top five contributors to pro-Clinton groups are employees or owners of private investment funds, according to federal data released last week and compiled by OpenSecrets.org, the center’s website. The data show seven financial firms alone have generated nearly $48.5 million for groups working on Clinton’s behalf.

The total for Donald Trump: About $19,000.

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After Lying Low, Deep-Pocketed Clinton Donors Return to the Fore

Nicholas Confessore and Amy Chozick report for The New York Times:

In a luxury suite high above the convention floor, some of the Democratic Party’s most generous patrons sipped cocktails and caught up with old friends, tuning out Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont on Monday as he bashed Wall Street in an arena named after one of the country’s largest banks.

On Tuesday, when Hillary Clinton became the first female nominee of a major party, a handful of drug companies and health insurers made sure to echo the theme, paying to sponsor an “Inspiring Women” panel featuring Democratic congresswomen.

And in the vaulted marble bar of the Ritz-Carlton downtown, wealthy givers congregated in force for cocktails and glad-handing as protesters thronged just outside to voice their unhappiness with Wall Street, big money in politics and Mrs. Clinton herself.

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U.S. Media’s Coverage of Donald Trump: Interview with Adam Johnson

Scott Horton speaks to Adam Johnson, a regular contributor to both AlterNet and Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), about the U.S. media’s repeated vilification of Donald Trump (in words and images), and the implications that Trump is Vladimir Putin’s puppet president in waiting. (Scott Horton Show)

LISTEN TO THE INTERVIEW HERE…

Will Hillary Clinton Flip-Flop Again on TPP? Interview with Joseph Stiglitz

Amy Goodman speaks to Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize-winning economist, Columbia University professor and chief economist for the Roosevelt Institute. Stiglitz is an adviser to Hillary Clinton’s policy team and talks about whether or not she would support the Trans-Pacific Partnership if she was elected U.S. President. (Democracy Now!)

The DNC Is One Big Corporate Bribe

David Dayen writes for New Republic:

[…] Party conventions have always been collection points for big money. But many major corporations sat out last week’s Republican gathering for fear of Trump contamination. There’s no such reticence here in Philadelphia; in fact, it feels like they’re making up for that lack of investment.

It’s hard to ferret out all the special interests at the DNC, because there’s no full public schedule. Invitations are doled out individually, and people whisper about this or that event. But enter any official hotel where a delegation is staying, or any Philadelphia landmark, and you’re likely to have a complimentary drink thrust into your hand.

As Politico’s Ben White reported on Monday, private equity firm Blackstone has a meet-and-greet on Thursday. Independence Blue Cross, the southeastern Pennsylvania arm of the large insurer, held a host-committee reception Tuesday; their chief executive is the finance chair of that host committee. The same day, Le Meridien hotel had a private event for Bloomberg LP, and the Logan Hotel hosted “Inspiring Women, a Luncheon Discussion.” The sponsors included Johnson & Johnson, Walgreens, AFLAC, the Financial Services Roundtable (the industry trade lobby), and New York Life. (How many people were they serving, given the number of corporations involved?)

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‘Slave-Gate’ Joins Bill O’Reilly and Fox News’s Ugly History of Race-Baiting

Lloyd Grove reports for The Daily Beast:

Fearless Falklands War correspondent Bill O’Reilly is an ace reporter whose nose for news also placed him at the front door of a shadowy JFK assassination figure at the very moment the guy was committing suicide with a shotgun, but also (alas) an innocent victim years ago of a frivolous sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a scheming female producer—if only in his own self-justifying fantasies and fabrications.

Now he has added once again to his fictional record of excellence.

O’Reilly’s latest journalistic exploit—deigning to lecture Michelle Obama on the facts of slavery in America—comes just as his employer, Fox News, is painfully clearing away the smoking rubble of an asteroid strike: fired anchor Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment lawsuit against the conservative-leaning cable network’s powerful founder and chairman, Roger Ailes, and Ailes’s shocking forced resignation last week in a cloud of scandal.

But you see, the 66-year-old uber-popular Fox News personality—who has slapped his name on a series of best-selling confections (Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, etc.) largely researched and written by a co-author, Martin Dugard—is something of a history scholar, at least in his own mind.

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War Correspondents Are No Longer Spies in the Eyes of the Pentagon

Erin Blakemore reports for Smithsonian:

War CorrespondentAll’s fair in love and war—including, apparently, equating journalists with enemy combatants. That was the case in the United States until today, when, as the Associated Press reports, the Pentagon updated its Law of War manual to remove wording that implied that journalists can be considered spies and enemies by U.S. military commanders.

The updated manual strikes controversial text that was put into place in 2015. At the time, the Department of Defense released its first-ever Law of War manual, a lengthy document intended to serve as a resource on war-related international laws like the Geneva Convention for U.S. Armed Forces. The manual outlined everything from the conduct of hostilities to how the military should treat prisoners of war, and it also contained a provision on journalists that raised eyebrows.

“In general, journalists are civilians,” the manual wrote. “However, journalists may be members of the armed forces, persons authorized to accompany the armed forces, or unprivileged belligerents.” The manual compared journalistic activity to spying, stating that “in some cases, the relaying of information…could constitute taking a direct part in hostilities.” The text adds that a state might need to censor journalistic work to protect sensitive information from falling into enemy hands.

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