Political Philosophy

The News According to BlackRock

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Whoever controls the media, controls the mind. —
Jim Morrison

The best propaganda is that which, as it were, works invisibly, penetrates the whole of life without the public having any knowledge of the propagandistic initiative.Joseph Goebbels

If those in charge of our society – politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television – can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power. They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets. We will control ourselves. —
Howard Zinn

October 4, 2017, by JT Haines

On the one hand, it’s simple enough. As my friend John recently said in response to the question “Do you know who owns CNN?,” he said, “Umm, the same people who own everything else.” Fair play.

On the other hand, I observe a surprising willingness among even the most politically active among us to receive the current narrative. Is that for lack of a trusted alternative? Time to do research? General democracy fatigue? I don’t know, but in any case Jim Morrison and I don’t love the set-up.

While not exactly news, the agenda of the mainstream media seems worth bearing in mind from time to time. So let’s just get right to the point. Here is ownership information for CNN, the New York Times, and NBC:

CNN

CNN is owned by Time Warner Inc (TWX), an $80 billion mass media corporation which also owns HBO, TBS, TNT, truTV, etc. Time Warner is 81% owned by financial institutions, the top holders of which are:
Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 9.45.11 AM
 (Source Yahoo Finance)

The New York Times

The New York Times Company (NYT) is owned 69% by financial institutions and 22% by insiders (corporate officers, etc). Here are the top institutional holders:
 Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 9.45.23 AM
 (Source Yahoo Finance)

NBC

NBC is owned by Comcast, a $180 billion global company 84% owned by institutional holders:
Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 1.39.31 PM
(Source Yahoo Finance)

BlackRock, by the way, is the “world’s largest asset manager with $5.7 trillion in assets under management as of July 2017. BlackRock operates globally with 70 offices in 30 countries and clients in 100 countries. Due to its power, BlackRock has been called the world’s largest shadow bank.” Basically, it’s an investment firm for rich people, and it manages a lot of money — a third of the US GDP-type money. And, significantly, it owns the paper of record.

I won’t pretend to tell anyone what to read, but for goodness sakes, let’s start with the assumption that we receive a corporate narrative and go from there. The New York Times is not a “liberal rag,” it is a corporate rag.

As Howard Zinn and others have consistently reminded us, what we are daily subjected to is the narrative of the powerful. To understand a people’s narrative, we must steel ourselves and look for it.

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**The Washington Post and Duluth News Tribune, by the way, are privately owned — WaPo by the Amazon guy and DNT by Forum/the Marcil-Blacks of Fargo. (Forum owns the DNT, Brainerd Dispatch, Bemidji Pioneer, several TV stations, and numerous other regional outlets.).
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Diagnosis: Myopia. US Narratives about the Philippines Continue to Miss the Picture

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June 21, 2017 — By Thom Haines

When I think about the presidential election in the United States, I continue to shake my head. As with many things related to the office, Donald Trump has only increased my head shaking. He didn’t start it.

It seems that it is difficult in the US to have a policy discussion that doesn’t focus on the limited reality visible from within our borders. In the presidential debates, for example, virtually the only discussion of how the US should relate to other countries related to ISIS and (a narrow view of) how to contain it. There was no discussion of the obscene “defense” budget or why it supposedly makes sense for the US to have armed forces in every region — indeed, nearly every country — of the world.

What is the role of the US in relationship to other countries? Is it right for our corporations to steal resources and exploit labor? Points made in the debates about NAFTA or the TPP focused on the harm to US workers, rarely the devastation wreaked on our fellow human beings in other countries.

It’s past time to become aware of and take responsibility for US imperialism. The rest of the world sees the US as an imperial power. Myopia, intentional and not, prevents many in the US from seeing our country as such.

Myopia (Merriam-Webster):

1) a condition in which the visual images come to a focus in front of the retina of the eye resulting especially in defective vision of distant objects.

2) a lack of foresight or discernment: a narrow view of something.

We seem oblivious to what is happening beyond our borders except as an extension of what’s happening within them.

Mainstream media reporting on the Philippines is again an example. The city of Marawi on the island of Mindanao has been devastated by recent violence. In a recent Washington Post article, Dan Lamothe writes:

“The United States is grappling with a hardening reality: Islamic State terrorism is on the rise in Southeast Asia, and it could worsen as foreign fighters abandon the battlefields of Iraq and Syria for new regions. The issue has snapped sharply into focus in the past three weeks, as militants and Philippine security forces have been locked in a bloody fight for Marawi, a lakeside city of about 200,000 people in the southern Philippines.”

marawi-residents-3

Residents fleeing Marawi

A little bit of context would help. Washington Post readers might appreciate knowing that this story is about a whole lot more that how ISIS activity on Mindanao is challenging US hegemony in the region. Do most readers know, for example, that Marawi’s population is 99% Muslim? Do they know that virtually the entire city of 200,000 has been forced from their homes by the violence? Do they know that Muslims have lived in this region of what is now a predominately Christian country since about 200 years before the Spanish arrived in the 16th century?

Do readers know about allegations that the US is using the ISIS connection to the violence in Mindanao as a tool to destabilize and overthrow the democratically elected president of the Philippines, hardly a US favorite?

Might they be interested in Dansalan College, a United Church of Christ in the Philippines institution in Marawi attacked and burned in the recent violence where 95% of the students are Muslim and 80% of the staff are Christian?

The rest of the world would much appreciate evidence that those in charge of US foreign policy and those who report on it are beginning to, at least, acknowledge that there are many perspectives from around the world that are of actual value. Meanwhile, of course, these perspectives continue to get short shrift by myopic politicians and reporters.

Thom Haines is a regular contributor at Newspeak Review. An Assistant County Attorney in Minnesota, Thom serves on the Minnesota State Bar Association Data Practices Committee and is active in his AFSCME union. He is a member of the Mayflower United Church of Christ (Minneapolis) Global Justice Advocacy Team, the UCC Minnesota Conference Global Partnerships Team. He recently finished eight years on the UCC board of Global Ministries.

Necessary, and Not Sufficient: Election Reflections 2016

 

2016-us-election-logo

November 7, 2016

Well, we made it. And congratulations to us! Despite it all, we’ve succeeded in making this entire presidential election a referendum on “Not Trump” and “Yes, first woman president.”

Both absolutely necessary, to be sure, but sufficient? Time will tell.

Regarding the facts immediately in front of us, though, most “progressives” will indeed vote for Hillary Clinton, and they should. It’s too late for anything else. It wasn’t too late in 2013 when we published this suggestion here at Newspeak Review, but it is now.

So, for all the reasons well understood at this point, let’s go ahead and hope Hillary Clinton wins. (And, by the way, let’s also hope that Jill Stein magically garners the exact maximum number of votes possible without swinging the election. Such deadening gyrations would not be necessary if we didn’t have both corporate parties quietly enforcing a voting system that does not record people’s true preferences, but that’s a subject for another post.)

Just as importantly, though, let’s also move forward with eyes wide open. Because here’s the thing:

Each little surrender like this — each time we kick the can down the road, each time we cajole and abuse each other into carrying water for the political establishment in the name of the latest immediate term imperative — has longer term consequences.

It makes the next Standing Rock more inevitable. It makes the next Syria more likely. It makes taking to the streets more necessary. As we continue our slow 40 year march of one step forward, three steps back, it makes people putting their bodies on the line to protect and defend what is left of our rights and our security and our planet yet more difficult and more certain.

I do not think this is a path that most of us favor, but it is the one we’re on.

Genuine departure from that path will involve significant risk. In this campaign cycle, for example, at no point has Hillary Clinton not been the most likely president elect. That of course feels compelling, and determinative. But such likelihoods did not and do not relieve us of the responsibility to consider issuing a different demand, despite the odds. At some point we will need to take that risk. (Of course many feel we’re already long past that point.) And, as importantly, we must openly express willingness to take that risk so others can see us doing so. We’re closer than we’ve been in decades.

In any case, it’s election day tomorrow, and here we are. We still have the right to vote in this country, and we still have some confidence that our vote will be properly counted. These are things to behold. So do your thing.

And to those of you well-meaning souls who have expended substantial energy supporting a candidate who has already shown herself almost certain to oppose the genuine change that we need, here’s to #Nov9 and on. You know what you have to do.

Happy voting tomorrow, friends.

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Labor Day Message: Another World is Possible

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By Thom Haines — September 5, 2016

Happy Labor Day in the U.S.! Another World is Possible! Proud to be an AFSCME member!

International labor solidarity is a key component to realizing another world where people and the environment are more highly valued than profit. A vibrant labor movement in the United States acting in solidarity with workers around the world will create a politically effective force that has the power to change an exploitive system supported by the armed forces and military aid of the United States and other Global North countries.

Honduras is an especially clear example of what is wrong with the current system and what is needed to fix it. The Human Rights Delegation to Honduras Report — released last week by the Alliance for Global Justice, CODEPINK, and the Honduras Solidarity Network — helps us connect the dots. Abusive labor practices, militarization of police forces in the name of fighting drugs or communism or terrorism, killing journalists, killing union organizers, killing environmental activists like Berta Cáceres, trade deals like NAFTA, CAFTA, and the TPP, and knee jerk nationalism are all components of the same problem.

The global economic system does not want to change and will not until forced. In the United States, in spite of some hopeful signs such as the Sanders campaign and Black Lives Matter, we must admit that we have not yet achieved a politically effective force to change the world. While organized labor may be weaker than it has been, rebuilding the labor movement is possible and offers hope.

At a Keith Ellison Labor Day rally in Minneapolis on Sunday, Sen. Al Franken expressed pride in belonging to three unions. I’m only a member of one, but I am proud to be in solidarity with other AFSCME members. In the coming years, it is my fervent hope that unions grow and that we see beyond the next contract to the possibility of international solidarity. Another world is possible.

Thom Haines is an Assistant County Attorney in Minnesota, where he serves on the Minnesota State Bar Association Data Practices Committee. He is a member of the boards of the United Church of Christ Wider Church Ministries, the Mayflower Church Foundation in Minneapolis, and G Project, a 501(c)(3) supporting human rights story-telling in Guatemala. Thom is a former Teamster and CWA member, and current member of AFSCME Council 65.

More Hillary, and the “fates of peoples”

From “Ready for Hillary” today on facebook:

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The post and photo currently has 124,000 likes and 15,000 shares.

My take: Hillary’s strategy so far is (1) allying herself with Wall Street money, and (2) emphasizing the clear truth that it’s time for a helluva lot more women in DC. That may work for her, we’ll see. However, even just on the possibility of Hillary running there are already a lot of conflicted people who want the latter, without ceding to the former, creating divides among otherwise allies. Which causes me to question just whose, exactly, interests her running would really serve. Anyway, you know my position. Give me Warren/Sanders (or Stein/Flowers, etc).