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Dances of Disinformation: The Partisan Politics of the “Integrity Initiative”

Is there such a plane of blissful, balanced information, deliberated and debated upon?  No.  Governments mangle; corporations distort.  Interest groups tinker.  Wars must be sold; deception must be perpetrated.  Inconsistencies must be removed.  There will be success, measured in small doses; failure, dispatched in grand servings. 

The nature of news, hollow as it is, is to fill the next segment for the next release, a promiscuous delivery, an amoral ejaculate.  The notion a complicated world can somehow be compressed into a press release, a brief, an observation, is sinister and defeating.   

The believers in an objective, balanced news platform are there.  Grants are forked out for such romantic notions as news with integrity, directed to increase “trust in news”, which is tantamount to putting your trust in an institution which has been placed on the mortician’s table.  The Trump era has seen a spike in such funding, but it belies a fundamental misconception about what news is. 

Funny, then, that the environment should now be so neatly split: the Russians (always) seen to distort from a central programme, while no one else does.  The Kremlin manipulates feeble minds; virtuous powers do not.  The most powerful nation on the planet claims to be free of this, the same country that boasts cable news networks and demagoguery on the airwaves that have a distinct allergy against anything resembling balanced reporting, many backed by vast funding mechanisms for political projects overseas.  Britain, faded yet still nostalgically imperial, remains pure with the BBC, known as the Beeb, a sort of immaculate conception of news that purportedly survives manipulation.  Other deliverers of news through state channels also worship the idol of balance – Australia’s ABC, for one, asserts that role.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why Everything That Needs to Be Fixed Remains Permanently Broken

Why Everything That Needs to Be Fixed Remains Permanently Broken

Just in case you missed what’s going on in France: the status quo in Europe is doomed.

The status quo has a simple fix for every crisis and systemic problem:

1. create currency out of thin air

2. give it to super-wealthy banks, financiers and corporations to boost their wealth and income.

One way these entities increase their wealth and income is to lend this nearly free money to commoners at much higher rates of interest. I borrow from central banks at 1% and lend it to you at 4.5%, 7% or even 19% or more. What’s not to like?

If a bank is insolvent, it can borrow money at 1% from central banks. If Joe Blow is insolvent, the only loan he can get is at 23%, if he can get any credit at all.

3. China has a variant fix for every financial crisis: build tens of millions of empty flats only the wealthy can afford as second or third “investment” flats. If the empty flats start dropping in price, government entities start secretly buying flats to support the market.

4. Empty malls, bridges to nowhere and ghost cities are also a standard-issue fix in China. Built it and they will come, until they don’t. But who cares, the developers and local governments (i.e. corrupt officials) already pocketed the dough.

You see the problem: making rich people richer doesn’t actually fix what’s broken, it only makes the problems worse. So why can’t we fix what’s broken?

It’s a question that deserves an answer, and the answer has six parts:

1. Any meaningful systemic reform threatens an entrenched, self-serving interest/elite which has a tremendous incentive to squash, co-opt or water down any reform that threatens their monopoly, benefits, etc.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Sport, Fashion, and Tourism: Corporate Greenwash’s New Frontiers at the UN Climate Talks

Sport, Fashion, and Tourism: Corporate Greenwash’s New Frontiers at the UN Climate Talks

What do Adidas, Hilton hotels, and the World Surfing League all have in common?

They’re all climate champions, apparently.

They also have a lot of customers and fans. Much more than most climate activists – just take a look at their Twitter followings – which could explain why this year’s annual UN climate talks welcomed them with open arms.

But are the industries serious about addressing the problem, or are they simply following a greenwash playbook rolled out by the fossil fuel industry each year at the talks?

Fanbase

With its global reach, universal appeal and the power to inspire and influence millions of people around the globe, sport is uniquely placed to drive global climate action and encourage crowds to join in”, International Olympic Committee member, former Olympic bobsledder, and Prince of Monaco, Prince Albert II, told the conference.

As countries here in Katowice prepare to turn their climate commitments into reality, we stand ready to leverage the power of sport to support their efforts”, he said. Mainly through making sportspeople ambassadors for climate change, and trying to offset some of the many, many flights major athletes and clubs take.

The sports industry isn’t alone at stepping up to the plate in the former coal town of Katowice, where this year’s talks are being held.

Climate change is “a risk and challenge we take seriously”, Daniella Foster, Hilton’s senior director of Global Corporate Responsibility told a side event. That’s why the hotel chain is looking at ways to “gamify” the “guest engagement piece” of its sustainability strategy – developing an app to help users save energy when they stay. The company has also pledged to cut its environmental footprint in half by 2030.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

What’s Behind the Erosion of Civil Society?

What’s Behind the Erosion of Civil Society?

Rebuilding social capital and social connectedness is not something that can be done by governments or corporations.
As the mid-term elections are widely viewed as a referendum of sorts, let’s set aside politics and ask, what’s behind the erosion of our civil society? That civil society in the U.S. and elsewhere is fraying is self-evident. It isn’t just the rise of us-or-them confrontations and all-or-nothing ideological extremes; social bonds between people are weakening.
There are many probable causes: addictive technologies such as social media and smartphones; chronic economic stress, greater mobility and a host of more subtle factors.
One such factor is the erosion of community and its replacement with state (government) or corporate structures. One of the most insightful essays I’ve read in the past few years is a report from the Guardian (U.K.) on What Happened When Walmart Left a low-income rural community in America’s Coal Country.
One of the most tragic findings, in my view, was that Walmart was the social hub of the community: Walmart was the place to go to meet friends, people-watch, walk around to pass the time, etc.
This is a remarkable reversal of a traditional community, which is centered around communal public spaces such as churches, temples, etc., town squares, Main Street, the local marketplace, etc. Now the center of social life is a corporate-owned private space dedicated to maximizing the profits of the corporation.
This dependency on corporate spaces is paralleled by a dependency on corporations and the state for income and the organization of social life.
This leads to the another tragedy: the near-complete lack of any non-state, non-corporate social structures; the general zeitgeist was near-total dependence on the state and corporations not just for income but for the structure of everyday life, to use historian Fernand Braudel’s phrase.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When Corporations Take Credit for Green Deeds, Their Lobbying May Tell Another Story

When Corporations Take Credit for Green Deeds, Their Lobbying May Tell Another Story

Scott Pruitt meeting with auto industry leaders

Today most large companies like Exxon Mobil, Ford and GM issue slick reports extolling their efforts to conserve resources, use renewable energy or fund clean water supplies in developing countries. This emphasis on efforts to curb environmental harm while benefiting society is called corporate sustainability.

Once uncommon but now mainstream, this show of support for a greener and kinder business model might seem like a clear step forward. But many of these same companies are quietly using their political clout, often through industry trade associations, to block or reverse policies that would make the economy more sustainable. And because public policy raises the bar for entire industries, requiring that all businesses meet minimum standards, lobbying to block sound public policies can outweigh the positive impact from internal company initiatives.

This kind of corporate hypocrisy — what we call talking green while lobbying brown — is a form of greenwashing, in which companies trumpet their good deeds while hiding their efforts to block progress. As the past and present presidents of the Alliance for Research on Corporate Sustainability, we are concerned that this greenwashing may delay by years or even decades steps that might solve sustainability problems, such as slowing the pace of climate change or ending the ocean plastic pollution crisis.

Greenwashing is environmentally responsible talk without action. By Tamixes/Shutterstock.com

Sounding Good Yet Lacking Impact

We and our colleagues in the alliance have documented many business initiatives that fall short of the impact they claim. One of the best known was the chemical industry’s Responsible Care program, created after an explosion at Union Carbide’s plant in Bhopal, India, killed thousands of people in 1984. Strategy professors Andy King and Mike Lenox showed that participants actually made less progress in reducing their emissions of toxic chemicals than did nonparticipants. That prompted the industry to overhaul the program.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A New World Order: Brought to You by the Global-Industrial Deep State

“There are no nations. There are no peoples … There is only IBM and ITT and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today. The world is a college of corporations, inexorably determined by the immutable by-laws of business.”—Network (1976)

There are those who will tell you that any mention of a New World Order government—a power elite conspiring to rule the world—is the stuff of conspiracy theories.

I am not one of those skeptics.

What’s more, I wholeheartedly believe that one should always mistrust those in power, take alarm at the first encroachment on one’s liberties, and establish powerful constitutional checks against government mischief and abuse.

I can also attest to the fact that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I have studied enough of this country’s history—and world history—to know that governments (the U.S. government being no exception) are at times indistinguishable from the evil they claim to be fighting, whether that evil takes the form of terrorism, torture, drug traffickingsex trafficking, murder, violence, theft, pornography, scientific experimentations or some other diabolical means of inflicting pain, suffering and servitude on humanity.

And I have lived long enough to see many so-called conspiracy theories turn into cold, hard fact.

Remember, people used to scoff at the notion of a Deep State (a.k.a. Shadow Government), doubt that fascism could ever take hold in America, and sneer at any suggestion that the United States was starting to resemble Nazi Germany in the years leading up to Hitler’s rise to power.

We’re beginning to know better, aren’t we?

The Deep State (“a national-security apparatus that holds sway even over the elected leaders notionally in charge of it”) is real.

We are already experiencing fascism, American-style.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chris Hedges: U.S. citizens are living in an inverted totalitarian country 

Chris Hedges: U.S. citizens are living in an inverted totalitarian country 

Chris Hedges

The mainstream media deflects attention from where power resides: corporations, not with the leaders of the free world. The arguments posed by Chris Hedges, that the U.S. is neither a democracy nor a republic but a totalitarian state that can now assassinate its citizens at will, are pertinent ones. Scary ones. Especially as consecutive governments seem equally as impotent to invoke any real change for the States. If the media won’t stand up to the marionettes who pull the strings of the conglomerates causing deep, indelible polarisation in the world abound; then so we must act. Together.

Listen to the full interview in our weekly Newsvoice Think podcast.

We were delighted to have Chris Hedges on an episode of the Newsvoice Think podcast as we seek to broadcast perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum. Right, left, red, blue and purple.

In our interview with Chris, we discussed a range of topics facing the U.S. today as the Trump administration looks back at a year in power, and forward to the November ’18 midterms where Democrats will be looking to make gains. Chris was scathing of that party describing them as a “creature of Wall Street, which is choreographed and ceased to be a proper party a long time ago.”

As a columnist with Truthdig, and a big advocate of independent media. Chris Hedges was the perfect interviewee for us to draw on the benefits of crowdsourced journalism and the challenges facing sites at the mercy of Facebook, Google and Twitter algorithms.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Degrading Newspapers’ Business Sections

Degrading Newspapers’ Business Sections

It’s alarming that there are far fewer media outlets for consumer protection news and features than there were thirty years ago. Recall the huge Phil Donahue Show, the regional radio show and TV news shows, the television networks and syndicated radio shows that would report and interview consumer advocates about the injustice, rip-offs, and harms done to the consumer by unscrupulous corporations. These shows are largely gone now. Shows marked by fluff, narcissism, trivia, and sensationalist, frenetic news bits are their replacements.

What is disturbing is that the major newspapers – the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal—are cutting back reporting on the revelations and doings of active consumers, and consumer organizations. Sure, they do occasional features that may gain them big journalism prizes. But the regular coverage of very important consumer struggles with Congress, the White House, the courts, and the state legislatures has vastly shrunken. Moreover, the media, especially TV, is dittoheading itself with the daily “big story”, as with the Trumpian escapades.

Serious readers are left with the New York Times daily Business pages (the Washington Post dropped its separate, daily business section a few years ago). Of late, the editors of the Times business section have been diluting its contents with what two former reporters called a more “business friendly” priority. My attempts to discuss this problem with their news editors have not been answered.

Last Sunday I picked up the weighty Sunday New York Times and went to the business page (business is often defined as stories about sellers, when it should include buyers and consumers). The cover page featured a huge photograph and article titled: “Tiger Is Back, Will Sponsors Follow?”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

A New Cunning Plan to Allay Banking Jitters is Hatched in Spain

A New Cunning Plan to Allay Banking Jitters is Hatched in Spain

But there’s a problem with the plan.

The Spanish Government has a brand new cunning plan to fortify the country’s banking system, which was rocked last year by the collapse of the sixth biggest bank, Banco Popular. It wants the country’s Deposit Guarantee Fund (DGF) to insure the entire bank deposits of large companies, even if those deposits exceed the current limit of €100,000, so that if a bank begins to wobble, its corporate customers don’t take their money out en masse.

The government hopes that the plan will be included in the new banking resolution rules being drawn up by EU banking authorities in the aftermath of Banco Popular’s quickfire resolution last year, the financial daily Cinco Dias reports.

If the law is passed, it would mean that corporate deposits of any amounts would be guaranteed in case of a bank’s resolution. The proposal apparently enjoys the enthusiastic support of Spain’s major banks, large companies, and the president of Spain’s Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring (FROB), Jaime Ponce. The government also wants the deposits of large public institutions to be covered without limit, as well as those of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs).

The new law would help prevent large scale deposit flight, which became endemic during Spain’s banking crisis and was also instrumental in the collapse of Popular. According to Ponce, if the government’s newly proposed measure had been in force between May and June last year, the frantic run on the bank’s deposits from Popular would never have happened.

In its final days, Popular was bleeding funds at an average rate of €2 billion a day.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How The Elite Dominate The World – Part 3: 90% Of What You Watch On Television Is Controlled By Just 6 Giant Corporations

How The Elite Dominate The World – Part 3: 90% Of What You Watch On Television Is Controlled By Just 6 Giant Corporations

How much is your view of the world shaped by what you see on television?  On average, Americans spend more than 150 hours watching television every month, and it is called “programming” for a reason.  If you allow anyone to pour ideas and information into your mind for five hours a day, it is going to change how you look at reality.  Everyone has an agenda, and every single news program, television show and movie is trying to alter your views.  Sadly, our society has become absolutely addicted to media, and the mainstream media is completely dominated by the elite.  In fact, about 90 percent of the programming that comes through your television is controlled by just 6 gigantic media corporations.  Most of us are willingly plugging ourselves into this “propaganda matrix” that is completely dominated by the elite for several hours each day, and that gives them an enormous amount of power over the rest of us.

In Part I and Part II of this series, I discussed how the elite use money as a tool to dominate the planet.  Today, we are going to talk about how they use information.  If you control what people think, then you control a society.  And through their vast media empires, the elite are able to shape how we all think to a frightening degree.

Just think about it.  What do we talk about with our family, our friends and our co-workers?  To a large extent, those conversations are about movies, television shows, something that we just saw on the news or a sporting event that just took place.  The reason why we talk about certain things is because the mainstream media gives those things attention, and other things we ignore because the mainstream media does not make them seem to be important.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How Big Corporations Game Our Democracy Into Their Plutocracy

How Big Corporations Game Our Democracy Into Their Plutocracy

Photo by Todd Blaisdell | CC BY 2.0

A major chapter in American history – rarely taught in our schools – is how ever larger corporations have moved to game, neutralize and undermine the people’s continual efforts to protect our touted democratic society. It is a fascinating story of the relentless exercise of power conceived or seized by corporations, with the strategic guidance of corporate lawyers.

Start with their birth certificate – the state charters that bring these corporate entities into existence, with limited liability for their investors. In the early 1800s, the Massachusetts legislature chartered many of the textile manufacturing companies. These charters could be renewed on good behavior, because lawmakers then viewed charters as privileges contingent on meeting the broad interests of society.

Fast forward to now. The charter can be granted online in a matter of hours; there are no renewal periods and the job is often given over to a state commission. Over the decades, corporate lobbyists have had either the legislatures or the courts grant them more privileges, immunities and concentration of power in management, rendering shareholders – their owners – increasingly powerless. The same corporate fixers work for corporations and their subsidiaries abroad to help them avoid US laws, taxes and escape disclosures.

Remarkably, the artificial creation called the “corporation” has now achieved almost all of the rights of real people under our “We the People” Constitution that never mentions the words “corporation” or “company.”

Corporations cannot vote, at least not yet; only people can. That was seen as a major lever of democratic power over corporations. So what has happened? Commercial money to politicians started weakening the influence of voters because the politicians became increasingly dependent on the corporate interests that bankrolled their campaigns.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Corporatocracy

The Corporatocracy

cartoon-regulatory-octopus

The interests of Washington and large corporations have merged so completely they are now inseparable.

America’s large corporations and its government have merged. Or was it an acquisition? If the latter, who acquired whom? Unfortunately, the labels affixed to purely corporate combinations lose their analytical usefulness here. While the two retain their own distinct legal structures and managements, so to speak, such a close community of interest has evolved that it’s no longer possible to separate them or delineate their individual contours. Political labels are no help; the ones most often used have become hopelessly imprecise. The Wikipedia definition of “fascism” is over 8,000 words, with 43 notes and 16 references.

However, the conjoined blob is so big, rapacious, and intrusive that akin to Justice Potter Stewart’s famous non-definition of obscenity, everybody knows it when they see or otherwise come into contact with it. This article will use the term “corporatocracy.” It’s less letters, dashes, and words to type than “the corporate-government-combination.” No serviceable understanding of either US history or current events is possible without close study of the corporatocracy. Unfortunately, such study, like entomology or cleaning septic tanks, requires a stout constitution. But take heart, entomologists grow to love their creepy crawly things, and septic tank cleaners say that after a few minutes you don’t even notice the smell.

A cherished delusion of naive liberals holds that big government is a counterweight, not a partner, to big business. Such a rationale is touted when the righteous demand new regulation, the public and media endorse it, the legislators pass it, and the president signs it into law. However, there are always unpaved stretches on the road to hell—once regulation is law, the righteous, public, media, legislators, and president, and their ostensibly good intentions, are on to the next cause.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

#DemocracySpring Protest Against Corporate Ownership of Politians

DemocracySpring April 12, 2016

Over 400 protesters were arrested in Washington for exercising their First Amendment right Assemble and Free Speech. They were protesting the ownership of Congress by the banks and corporations. The movement is known as #DemocracySpring and is expected to run for the week. It has been taking place on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, politicians rely upon that money so they will throw these people in jail rather than address the issue.

Trans-Atlantic & Trans-Pacific “Partnerships” Complete Corporate World Takeover

Trans-Atlantic & Trans-Pacific “Partnerships” Complete Corporate World Takeover

As I have emphasized since these “partnerships” were first announced, their purpose is to give corporations immunity from the laws in the countries in which they do business. The principle mechanism of this immunity is the granting of the right to corporations to sue governments and agencies of governments that have laws or regulations that impinge on corporate profits. For example, France’s prohibitions of GMO foods are, under the “partnerships,” “restraints on trade that impinge on corporate profits.

The “partnerships” set up “tribunals” staffed by corporations that are outside the court systems of the sovereign governments. It is in these corporate tribunals that the lawsuits take place. In other words the corporations are judge, jury, and prosecutor. They can’t lose. The “partnerships” set up secret unaccountable governments that are higher and have power over the elected governments.

You can ask yourself how much money the representatives of the countries who “fasttracked” this system were paid by the corporations and how much the bribes will be to get the agreements approved by the legislators. As you witness American, British, German and other government officials agitate in behalf of corporate rule, you will know that they have been well paid.

Peter Liley, Minister of Trade and Industry in Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government and currently a Conservative member of the British Parliament took the trouble of looking at the Trans-Atlantic partnership and is warning against it. As a politician he cannot speak as forcefully as he might like, but he gives you the picture. Here is Eric Zuesse’s report:  http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2016/04/09/british-conservative-breaks-ranks-opposes-ttip.html 

No government representative who has the slightest bit of integrity and patriotism would have approved these agreements, and no legislative body that is not competely corrupt would hand its power and function over to global corporations.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Feudalism Then & Now

FEUDALISM THEN & NOW

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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