Monthly Archives: July 2011

Media Madness & Politics

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It’s falling apart, but as the Rupert Murdoch media empire goes supernova, expect it to take a LOT of people with it.

First, start with the 10 questions that no one in Britain will ask Rupert Murdoch this afternoon.  This is because it seems like ALL of the British establishment is tainted with a disease known as “media madness” that has been rampaging their corridors for decades.

Which begs the question:  does Rupert Murdoch really give a shit about an inquiry?

Probably not.

‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone’, some dude in a desert once said.  It’s more true today than ever.

Taint.  It’s an ugly word.

The disease runs deep and the cure is not going to be pretty.

To appreciate what I’m talking about, we have to go back.

It all begins with commercial media getting more crass and useless since the dawn of the age of television.  Yes … that far back.  One might argue that the symptoms go back even further into the early days of print (example:  William Randolph Hearst), but the level of magnitude and collusion really hit stride in the 1960s when TVs quickly became a way of our lives.

Example:  John F. Kennedy won the 1960 Presidential election because he knew (or at least someone did) that TV would expose how unattractive Richard Nixon was.

The taint begins en masse.  Mass production became a no-brainer in the early days of mass communication because we all trusted the advertising that came with media because we all trusted the people within the media.

Flip forward to today.

Rupert Murdoch has his fingers in many pies.

And these are just the media companies.  We need to know (but will never know the truth) about things like the relationship between media and the police and the politicians that they’re protecting.  Or exposing.  How close are these relationships and what’s the true meaning of this for all of ‘lay people’ who just want to get on with our lives?

In Canada, our ‘mainstream media’ has become very tainted by the same symptoms:  supporting those that throw our money at them.  The taint continues.  For the last half decade, it’s been the Conservatives, but the Liberals are equally tainted.

They nosh and rub elbows with the media elite in order to get buy-in from the editorial staff.

The reward:  billions in ad spend.  The taint runs deep.

Time and time again, the federal government tends to be one of the biggest buyers of media.  Canada’s ‘Economic Action Plan’ diverted nearly $500 million in advertising dollars to the big media companies in the past few years and it probably won’t stop any time soon.

With this kind of close relationship, Canada may be in a similar media minefield as Murdoch and the folks in Britain.

For example, who ‘exposed’ the story about Jack Layton supposedly getting a ‘massage’ just days before the election date?  Unfortunately, I don’t think anyone has the stones to really find the answer to this question, including myself.  The cost is too high and the secrets too close.

However, there’s no doubt here:  as Murdoch media madness evolves into something bigger and uglier, the citizens of the world need to ask why we let ourselves get into this mess.

More importantly, how do we get out of it?

News of the World Whistle Blower Found Dead

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In an astounding update to the News of the World scandal, Sean Hoare – the man who blew open the phone hacking scandal related to Rupert Murdoch’s media empire – has been found dead.

The ‘media’ – the so called truth tellers that we should stop trusting – have quickly put out stories that it’s purely coincidental and accidental.

Good.  I believe that.

By the way, did anyone ever see ‘The Bourne Ultimatum’ where a reporter for the Guardian gets gunned down because he was talking about ‘Blackbriar’ on his cell phone?

Wakefield, Ratajczak and Vaccines

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Back in January, an all out media war seemed to be declared against Andrew Wakefield.


Andrew Wakefield is the lead scientist that was studying the relationship between certain vaccines and autism.

The Current on CBC did a story with Wakefield on January 27, 2011 and he was asked if he believed he did anything wrong.  The answer was no.  If that’s the case, why isn’t he suing his peers and other organizations for libel?  His response was that the legal fees alone would cost more than 500,000 British pounds, but the lack of action doesn’t seem to do him justice.

Recently, another doctor finally ‘came out’ and declared that vaccines had an unsavoury connection with autism. The article in the Journal of Immunotoxicology is entitled “Theoretical aspects of autism: Causes–A review.” The author is Helen Ratajczak, a former senior scientist at a pharmaceutical firm. Ratajczak did what nobody else apparently has bothered to do: she reviewed the body of published science since autism was first described in 1943. Not just one theory suggested by research such as the role of MMR shots, or the mercury preservative thimerosal; but all of them.

The story was covered (surprisingly) by CBS News.  When CBS asked why she felt so confident about her research, they added these comments:

A number of independent scientists have said they’ve been subjected to orchestrated campaigns to discredit them when their research exposed vaccine safety issues, especially if it veered into the topic of autism. We asked Ratajczak how she came to research the controversial topic. She told us that for years while working in the pharmaceutical industry, she was restricted as to what she was allowed to publish. “I’m retired now,” she told CBS News. “I can write what I want.”

Obviously, this paints a grim picture.  To what extent are we getting industry funded research that obfuscates the really important conclusions?

This is a classic example of why I describe myself as a social libertarian.  Sure … make the drugs, do your own research, but everything you want to sell to, pump into, prescribe, consume or produce has to go through a rigorous set of third-party public reviews where NO ONE on the review board is getting paid off by the companies seeking approval.

Yeah, it’s a pipe-dream, but we can certainly do better than the blind faith we have in deregulation and ‘the magical markets’ that will cure all.

Media Matters Petition for Congressional Review of Murdoch

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I got this note earlier today from Media Matters.  Please consider signing the petition.

The charges against Rupert Murdoch’s British newspaper, News of the World, have gotten so bad in recent days that people are being arrested and the entire newspaper was shut down. The Murdoch-owned tabloid, already under fire for allegedly hacking thousands of people’s phones, reportedly hacked into the voicemail of murdered teenager Milly Dowler, potentially impeding a police investigation and giving her family false hope by deleting voicemails. Reports have also emerged of News of the World allegedly hacking the phones of families of fallen soldiers and the father of a victim of a July 2005 terrorist bombing.

And why should we care about what’s happening over there?

Simple: Murdoch’s media empire includes Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Post. Murdoch has enormous political and cultural influence over our media. In fact, Murdoch’s hand-picked selection to run the Wall Street Journal was longtime loyalist Les Hinton, who oversaw News Corp’s British newspapers during the height of News of the World’s alleged hacking activity. Hinton twice testified to the UK parliament that he had conducted a rigorous inquiry into the papers he oversaw and claimed hacking was limited to one reporter. That’s right: Hinton, who ran the show for Murdoch as phone hacking became standard operating procedure, is now publisher of the one of the largest newspapers in the U.S.

For years, with your help, we’ve tracked the lies and deceit coming from Fox News. Now it appears that it’s not just Fox that’s the problem. The pattern of News Corp’s misbehavior goes much deeper–and even into illegal behavior. The British government is investigating and now the Australians are also calling for an investigation of Murdoch’s papers there.

Americans also need to know whether our privacy was violated by Murdoch reporters searching for a good scoop to sell news. Ask Congress to hold hearings to see just how far this scandal goes — and whether News Corp’s record of breaching the public trust has affected us.

Join our call for Congressional hearings here.

We can’t rely on News Corp, with its record of mismanagement, to address the problem. We must take proactive steps to address protect our privacy from News Corp’s mismanagement. Murdoch’s cover-up is falling apart, with serious consequences for hacking victims and News Corp shareholders alike.

Join our call for Congressional hearings here.

Thank you for your support. Holding the media accountable is a full time job–and we couldn’t do it without you.

Matt Butler
President and CEO
Media Matters for America

New Market Models

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We desparately need a discussion about new market models that will actually work in the wake of the post-20th century debt crisis.

Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and now maybe even the US all teeter on the brink of economic ruin in the wake of debt piled on debt piled on debt.

When defaults are finally declared, the resulting cost spiral will inflate the price of everything from shoes to corn to electricity to books to wheels for your car.  The shock may be moderate at first, but eventually we’ll all have fewer dollars in our pockets just as we try to survive.

Most of this debt has been accumulated for one thing:  the security state.

The security state consists of several expenditures:

  • to finance the act of unnecessary wars;
  • to fund the monitoring and control of all people with baseless crimes so that fees and levies can be imposed at a whim; and to
  • to punish and incarcerate citizens when these most basic crimes exceed a even more basic level of tolerance according to our dictators.

In Canada, we’re spending anywhere from $50 to $100 billion PER YEAR on the security state and military infrastructure, and yet we’re officially only fighting in one ‘war’ (Afghanistan).  Why are we wasting so much money – OUR taxpayer dollars – on something that’s so incredibly unproductive?

Iceland seems to have gone in the right direction by telling bankers and the IMF to go F*** themselves.

Ultimately, we need a new approach to new market models.

Eric Blair of interviews Brandon Smith in this piece on Alternative Markets at Activist Post where he shares some of these ideas. The basic definition of an alternative market:

… it is essentially any method of trade outside the establishment-controlled economy. It could be based on the barter of goods and skills, or the proliferation of precious metals to break our dependence on the fiat dollar (or Federal Reserve Note), etc. It could be a network of people across a county or state, or, an agreement between two friends.

And some thoughts about why alternative markets are labeled as underground or black markets around the world:

They are desperate, and I do mean DESPERATE, to keep us from developing our own private economies. If we are successful, we will no longer be in the position of dependency on the dollar or the sham economy. When it implodes, we will be relatively unfazed, and certainly not tearing each other apart. Meaning, their rationalization for martial law goes straight down the drain. The thought of that possibility really pisses them off…

But would alternative markets be enough when our governments are out of control, paying their friends and military buddies off with our money?

Probably not.  So we will also need a Declaration of Debt Independence.  It’s a basic concept that’s about to catch on like wild fire as everyone who’s not in control feels the effects of ‘austerity measures’:  you write into your Constitution (assuming you have one) that the government is not allowed to issue debt exceeding a certain percentage of your GDP (which should be redefined to capture the cost of environmental degradation and other borrowing from future generations), but to also identify that no government would ever be allowed to spend more than 3 or 5% of their GDP on defense, security and military spending (I would also suggest that this include prisons and other forms of incarceration).

At no point should any citizen’s government be borrowing money from bankers when they should be living within their means.  We should be investing in services for our children, not borrowing from their future in a failing effort to cork our insatiable desire for crap.

Public budgets should be for public good:  education, health, parks, trees, the environment, investment in the future, regulation and a sturdy and reliable justice system.

Another alternative market model would be extremely feasible if we owned the Internet, but we’re at risk of losing that too under the guise of security, protection from make-believe hackers and terrorists and porn sharks and other freaks that apparently lurk on every digital corner.  At some point in the future, we should expect the ‘Wild Internet of the West’ to be shut down in favour of a controlled Internet that’s no more illuminating and accessible than TV is today.

This would take a lot of work but more importantly, money.  I’ve been advocating some form of fund-raising effort for some time and would still be at the front of the line if someone were to say they were ready as well.

I can’t do it alone.

If we move on any of the above – and we really have to – hard times will be on their way, but we must stop living beyond our means and we have to shake off the bonds that are being placed our basic rights to communicate, participate and emancipate our day-to-day lives.

So … who’s on board?