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Corporatism and Fascism

Conflicts of interest in the Syria debate

From http://public-accountability.org/2013/10/conflicts-of-interest-in-the-syria-debate

During the public debate around the question of whether to attack Syria, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush, made a series of high-profile media appearances. Hadley argued strenuously for military intervention in appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV, and authored a Washington Post op-ed headlined “To stop Iran, Obama must enforce red lines with Assad.”

In each case, Hadley’s audience was not informed that he serves as a director of Raytheon, the weapons manufacturer that makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles that were widely cited as a weapon of choice in a potential strike against Syria. Hadley earns $128,500 in annual cash compensation from the company and chairs its public affairs committee. He also owns 11,477 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate ($77.65 on August 23, making Hadley’s share’s worth $891,189). Despite this financial stake, Hadley was presented to his audience as an experienced, independent national security expert.

Though Hadley’s undisclosed conflict is particularly egregious, it is not unique. The following report documents the industry ties of Hadley, 21 other media commentators, and seven think tanks that participated in the media debate around Syria. Like Hadley, these individuals and organizations have strong ties to defense contractors and other defense- and foreign policy-focused firms with a vested interest in the Syria debate, but they were presented to their audiences with a veneer of expertise and independence, as former military officials, retired diplomats, and independent think tanks.

The report offers a new look at an issue raised by David Barstow’s 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times series on the role military analysts played in promoting the Bush Administration’s narrative on Iraq. In addition to exposing coordination with the Pentagon, Barstow found that many cable news analysts had industry ties that were not disclosed on air.

If the recent debate around Syria is any guide, media outlets have done very little to address the gaps in disclosure and abuses of the public trust that Barstow exposed. Some analysts have stayed the same, others are new, and the issues and range of opinion are different. But the media continues to present former military and government officials as venerated experts without informing the public of their industry ties – the personal financial interests that may be shaping their opinions of what is in the national interest.

This report details these ties, in addition to documenting the industry backing of think tanks that played a prominent role in the Syria debate. It reveals the extent to which the public discourse around Syria was corrupted by the pervasive influence of the defense industry, to the point where many of the so-called experts appearing on American television screens were actually representatives of companies that profit from heightened US military activity abroad. The threat of war with Syria may or may not have passed, but the threat that these conflicts of interest pose to our public discourse – and our democracy – is still very real.

Over 865K Gallons of Fracked Oil Spill in ND, Public In Dark For Days Due to Government Shutdown

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

 Photo Credit: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Wikimedia Commons

President Pivot prepares to screw the old and infirm: Whatever Happened to ‘No negotiations’ with Debt Ceiling ‘Hostage Takers’

By Dave Lindorff


President Obama ran for president promising change. What his backers didn’t realize was that he wasn’t talking about changing America for the better. He was talking about changing his position whenever he found himself in a confrontation with Republicans. There’s a reason that beginning with Obama’s 2008 campaign, and on through the past five years of his presidency, we have gotten used to a presidential behavior called “pivoting.”  


Google: Doing Evil with ALEC

By Norman Solomon

Google Inc. is now aligned with the notorious ALEC.

Quietly, Google has joined ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council -- the shadowy corporate alliance that pushes odious laws through state legislatures.

In the process, Google has signed onto an organization that promotes such regressive measures as tax cuts for tobacco companies, school privatization to help for-profit education firms, repeal of state taxes for the wealthy and opposition to renewable energy disliked by oil companies.

ALEC’s reactionary efforts -- thoroughly documented by the Center for Media and Democracy -- are shameful assaults on democratic principles. And Google is now among the hundreds of companies in ALEC. Many people who’ve admired Google are now wondering: how could this be?

Well, in his recent book “Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning the Internet Against Democracy,” Robert W. McChesney provides vital context. “It is true that with the advent of the Internet many of the successful giants -- Apple and Google come to mind -- were begun by idealists who may have been uncertain whether they really wanted to be old-fashioned capitalists,” he writes. “The system in short order has whipped them into shape.”

McChesney adds: “Any qualms about privacy, commercialism, avoiding taxes, or paying low wages to Third World factory workers were quickly forgotten. It is not that the managers are particularly bad and greedy people -- indeed their individual moral makeup is mostly irrelevant -- but rather that the system sharply rewards some types of behavior and penalizes other types of behavior so that people either get with the program and internalize the necessary values or they fail.”

Google has widely mythologized itself as some kind of humanistic techno-pioneer. Obscured in a fog of digital legend is the agenda that more than ever is transfixed with maximizing profits while capitalizing on anti-democratic leverage of corporate power. Google’s involvement in ALEC is consistent with the company’s mega-business model that relentlessly exploits rigorous data-mining of emails, online searches and so much more.

Yet image-conscious companies can be skittish about public pressure. That helps to explain why dozens of firms withdrew from ALEC during the last year.

A few days ago -- when my colleagues at RootsAction.org sent out an email alert about news of ALEC’s connection with Google as well as with Facebook and Yelp -- more than 25,000 people quickly signed a petition urging those companies to “stop funding ALEC.” Several thousand of the petition signers added comments that can be read online along with the petition.

Those comments reflect widening comprehension of Google and the significance of its alignment with ALEC. Here’s a sampling:

“I expected better. Maybe that was naive.”  James C., San Jose, CA

“What happened to your big pledge? ‘Don't be evil’? Guess it was just words...”  Lois W., Sun City, AZ

“Better check your definition of EVIL -- look it up on Google…”  Armando A., Vista, CA

“Please don't fund tyranny. You were supposed to be one of the good guys.”  Ernest W., Easthampton, MA

“Your credibility is fading associating with this kind of scum.”  John B., Easton, CT

 “You are subverting the wishes of your clients/users while undermining democracy.”  Vincent G., Sioux Falls, SD

“Shame on you. Think about what the majority of your users want instead of the ‘rich’ guys.”  Karen B., Westminster, CO

“If you continue to support ALEC, I will along with countless others, discontinue use of ALL your products and services!”  Ronald P., Milford Center, OH

“Quit helping to Destroy our democracy.”  Kevin B., Lynnwood, WA

 “Corporate power is corrupting this nation's ability to have a decent governing system.”  Jean and Jesper C., Louisville, KY

“What is wrong with Google acting like the one tenth of the 1%? Too much filthy lucre has covered their conscience.”  Doug Y., Albany, CA

“Google! How could you do this? Don't you realize this organization stands for ALL the wrong things? I'm sure most of your employees would not want to belong to ALEC. Please reconsider for their sake and that of all of us.”  Judith S., Carbondale, IL

“If you sleep with dogs, you get fleas.”  Robert J., Fern Park, FL

“Shame! We thought you were supposed to be a tool for the people, not a tool for the corporations!”  Sharon T., Irvine, CA

“Happy Sociopath Day to you people!”  Gary S., Big Bear Lake, CA

“Google has evolved to be one of the most unethical corporations in the world!”  Eric K., Montclair, NJ

“This is so obviously evil, and it causes real suffering.”  Terrell S., Seattle, WA

“Don't you corporate executives make enough money? How much can you spend? Don't you realize that people have to have money to buy your product? What the heck are you ‘dumb-asses’ thinking?”  Lon K., Waterloo, IA

“Good companies are becoming evil in order to please ALEC and the upper 1%. I thought Google would never need to stoop to that. I'm sadder than sad.”  Linda A., Medina, WA

“ALEC promotes corporate dominance over the democratic processes that our country was founded on. Shame on you!”  Judy D., Port Townsend, WA

“Laws should be written by elected representatives with citizen input, NOT by cookie-cuttered legalese templates created by and for the corporate interests.”  Liz A., Los Angeles, CA

“Noooooo Google! I love you but I will have to abandon you and many of your products should you do this. I really, really, really don’t want to do that! But will...”  Rochelle W., Reading, PA

“ALEC organizes capital to crush people by gaining any all benefits for the wealthy. That has consequences for children, elderly, disabled, veterans, working people -- your customers. Please look beyond the near-term bottomline.”  Benita C., Burgettstown, PA

“Greed may be the worst terror facing this country. Greed, of corporations and some individuals, seems bent on destroying our democracy. We have to fight back!”  Anne G., Arlington, TX

“ALEC is evil. Those who fund ALEC are enabling evil. Enough said.”  Monty N., Helena, MT

“Google: Better get your house in order and your priorities straight. Average Americans are in no mood for this crap.”  Lawrence H., Fall Creek, WI

“For a company that loves to talk about the forward thinking way it treats employees, it surely seems acts just like every other ultra conservative corporate giant.”  Andrew W., Pittsfield, MA

“Why such cowardice?”  Mitchell S., Philadelphia, PA

“I knew the Don't Be Evil mantra would disappear once the big money started flowing in. They're no different than any other sleazy money-grubbing corporation in the cesspool of greed the USA has become.”  Gill F., Olympia, WA

“Disgusting professional activity on the part of this huge corrupt business. Google is going to have to do a lot of work to earn back the respect of a huge segment of the public; this only one of many recent revelations about Google's despicable conduct as an entity.”  Susan H., Lafayette, IN

“Big money, big business, big lies.”  Stephen D., Grants Pass, OR

“Please stand for individual's freedom rather than corporate greed and stop supporting ALEC.”  Carol B., San Rafael, CA

“Your company went from hip and caring to right of Attila the Hun and nasty in a few years...”  Roger W., Montpelier, VT

“ALEC has been a disaster for the vast majority of citizens in Wisconsin and other states. It has become a leading supporter of fascist attacks on women's sacred reproductive rights.”  Edith M., Milwaukee, WI

“ALEC has done tremendous harm to this country and its political system. Any support for the organization is support for tearing down constitutional government.”  James F., Minneapolis, MN

“Just provide a service and take home your inflated paycheck. Stay out of the rest. And by the way, erase my browsing history, you nosey anti-American hacks.”  Jeff Cole, Tucson, AZ

“If Google and Facebook have any integrity left, please prove it by not funding ALEC!”  Douglas W., Chicago, IL

“ALEC is trying to dismantle our civil society. Do not be part of it.”  Jean Beck, Lynnwood, WA

“Have a heart!!!!!!”  Artalious S., McDonough GA

“ALEC is a big step backwards in human evolution, or a big step toward Big Brother.”  Victoria G., Portland, OR

“Disgusting. More government for the highest bidders.”  Michael P., Morton Grove, IL

“The worst thing about ALEC is its anti-democratic nature which buys votes to override the will of the people. As an information source this should violate your principles.”  Lon H., Ferndale, MI

“When you are as giant as Google, you ALMOST have stomp on us little people. Please please please be with US…”  Jon S., Lafayette, CO

“This is indicative of what happens when the founders of a company grow extremely wealthy. They align themselves more and more with the organizations that will further their agenda of market dominance and profit taking. The support of ALEC by the two founders of Google is particularly hypocritical because of their original pledge to not be evil. Shame on both of you.”  Bruce B., Port Townsend, WA 

__________________________________________

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

Don’t say you weren’t warned: Stallman, FOSS and the Adobe Nightmare

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Recently, Richard Stallman published an article in Wired about Free and Open Source Software [1] and its alternative, "Proprietary Software". As he has for 30 years now, he vigorously called for the use and defense of FOSS and warned about the nefarious nature of Proprietary.

Park rangers ‘punked’: Government Shuts Down But Perversions Persist

By Linn Washington, Jr.


On the first day of the federal government shut-down, as hundreds of tourists were turned away from the shuttered Liberty Bell and other fabled sites within the Independence National Historical Park in downtown Philadelphia, Richard Dyost stood near the building housing the Bell and received a big laugh.

Israel, Palestine and Iran It's Time To Feed the Hungry Peace Wolves

By John Grant

 


All we are saying is give peace a chance
        - John Lennon
 

Whether war or cooperation is the more dominant trait of humanity is one of the oldest questions in human discourse. There are no satisfying answers for either side exclusively, which seems to suggest the answer is in the eternal nature of the debate itself.

We did it again!: TCBH! Wins Another Project Censored Award

ThisCantBeHappening! just into its fourth year of publication, has learned that we have won our fourth Project Censored Award, this time for Dave Lindorff's article Incidents raise suspicions on motive: Killing of Journalists by US Forces a Growing Problem, published in TCBH! on Nov. 22, 1012.

‘Freedom’s just another word...’ The Police State of America

By Dave Lindorff


I no longer recognize my country.

Back in 1997, after two years living in China, and five more living in Hong Kong, during which time, as a correspondent for Business Week magazine, I slipped in and out of China regularly as a journalist to report on developments there, I got a good dose of life in a totalitarian society. When I alit from the plane in Philadelphia where my family and I were about to start a new chapter of our lives, I remember feeling like a big weight had been lifted off my chest.

After decades US still has huge poison gas stash: Washington Demands Syria Destroy Chemical Weapons Lickety-Split

By Dave Lindorff

 
The US is demanding, in negotiations at the UN, that all Syrian chemical weapons, stocks and production facilities be eliminated by June 30 of next year. This has an element of hypocrisy, because the US itself has been incredibly slow about eliminating its own stocks of chemical weapons.

US Secretary of State John Kerry has referred to Syria as having one of the largest chemical stockpiles in the world. But the US and Russia both still have stocks of chemicals many times as large. Syria’s neighbor Israel, which refuses to admit it has the weapons and has yet to ratify the treaty banning them, is suspected of also having a large arsenal.

We don’t gas children, we shred them: Obama’s Grotesque Hypocrisy over Cluster Munitions

By Dave Lindorff


Syrian civilians and children should count themselves lucky that mass opposition in the US, the UK and much of the rest of the world to the idea of a US bombing blitz aimed at punishing the Syrian government for allegedly using Sarin gas in an attack on a Damascus neighborhood forced the US to back off and accept a Russian deal to get rid of Syria’s chemical weapons.


A fight against the very essence of the Internet: Attacking Net Neutrality Once Again

By Alfredo Lopez

 

Last week, Verizon, the telephone giant, went to court to accuse the Federal Communications Commission of "overstepping its authority" and reverse the authority's over-step. It's a legal wrangle that, bottled and distributed, would be a safe substitute for sleeping pills.

Janet Yellen Likely New Fed Chairwoman: Hold the Cheers

 

Janet Yellen Likely New Fed Chairwoman: Hold the Cheers

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On January 31, current Fed chairman Bernanke's term ends. He's expected to step down. 

 

Larry Summers was favored to succeed him. If Yellen's chosen, she'll be the first woman to hold the post.

 

Big Oil PR Pros, Lobbyists Dominate EDF Fracking Climate Study Steering Committee

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Alongside releasing its controversial findings on fugitive methane emissions caused by hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") on September 16, University of Texas-Austin also unveiled an industry-stacked Steering Committee roster for the study it conducted in concert with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Washington and Israel Conspire to Oust Assad

 

Washington and Israel Conspire to Oust Assad

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

On September 15, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said his government "views with great seriousness the Russian-US deal."

 

It intends to observe it to the letter, he stressed. It's "committing itself to whatever comes from the UN. We accept the Russian plan to get rid of our chemical weapons."

Whither Occupy Wall Street?

 

Whither Occupy Wall Street?

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

It’s second anniversary approaches. Observers ask what happened to what emerged in New York's Zucotti Park. It's located in Wall Street's financial district. 

 

On September 17, 2011, OWS began. Activists said:

 

Is Dithering Always Bad?: Trust and Verify and Vomit

By John Grant


The media didn’t waste time lining up US leaders to trash Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent op-ed in The New York Times. There was the expected outrage that such a “dictator” and “tyrant” had the gall to lecture the United States of America. Bill O’Reilly referred to Putin as “a criminal monster.” Charles Krauthammer kept it real and called Putin "a KGB thug.”

New Video Short about the Cancerous Militarization of the US, produced by Class War Films

For a timely explanation of the crisis of the militarization of America, days after popular opposition, in a historic first, blocked a US war -- in this case against the sovereign nation of Syria -- check out this film by Lanny Cotler and Paul Edwards of Class War Films

To view the film, please go to: www.thiscantbehappening.net

Consensus 9/11: New Truths Dispelling Old Lies

 

Consensus 9/11: New Truths Dispelling Old Lies

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

A previous article explained the following:

 

Consensus 9/11 seeks "best evidence" proof. It does so to dispel official story falsehoods. It's founded on:

 

Ban Ki-moon: Imperial Tool

 

Ban Ki-moon: Imperial Tool

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

UN Secretary-Generals pledge to uphold UN Charter provisions. 

 

Under Chapter XV, Article 100, they're mandated "not (to) seek or receive instructions from any government or from any other authority external to the Organization."

 

Priority One: Stopping Obama's Rage for War

 

Priority One: Stopping Obama's Rage for War

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

He's a dangerous sociopath. He exhibits psychopathic characteristics. Psychiatrist Robert Hare says these people are "often charming."

 

At the same time, they exhibit "a stunning lack of conscience." They prioritize self-gratification. They do it at the expense of others. They're all take. They give back little or nothing.

 

War Is America's National Pastime

 

War Is America's National Pastime

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

America's national pastime isn't baseball. It's not other bread and circus distractions. It's one war after another. It's wars that don't end. 

 

It's permanent ones for power and profits. Monied interests benefit most. Waging them for peace is a convenient illusion. 

 

Nobel Laureate president defends unprovoked war against Syria: Obama Offers No Evidence Assad Ordered Syria Poison Gas Attack

By Dave Lindorff


In what NPR called “perhaps President Obama’s last best chance” to make his case for launching a war against Syria, the president tellingly didn’t make a single effort to present hard, compelling evidence to prove that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad had been behind the alleged Sarin Aug. 21 attack on residents of a suburb of Damascus.


Not one piece of evidence.

Interview: Students, Faculty Protest Presence of David Petraeus at CUNY Honors College

Cross-Posted from FireDogLake

On September 9, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus -- who also formerly headed the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) International Security Assistance Force for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and co-wrote the Counterinsurgency Field Manual -- began a new job as an adjunct professor at City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College.

A people’s victory over Syrian attack plan: In Historic First, American Empire is Blocked at the Starting Line

By Dave Lindorff


Let’s be clear here. The people of the US and the world have won a huge victory over a war-obsessed US government and an administration that was hell-bent on yet again launching a criminal war of aggression against a country that poses no threat to the US or its neighbors. Overwhelming public opposition in the US and the nations of Europe, as well as most of the rest of the world to a US strike on Syria have forced the US to falter and to accept the idea of a compromise deal offered by Russia.


White House lies to launch the next illegal war: There is no Justification for Obama’s War on Syria

By Dave Lindorff 


The Obama administration’s campaign for war against Syria is so flagrantly wrong, so ill-advised and so illegal, that it is making a fool of both the president and his secretary of state, John Kerry.


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