Occupy Wall Street’s Children

Remember when New York cops pepper sprayed peaceful protesters during the Obama administration?

Imagine if that happened today under Trump?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Occupy Wall Street. A common criticism of it at the time (2011) was that the protesters didn’t have clear demands.

And that criticism might be appropriate. Or maybe it missed the point?

One thing OWS did do was popularise the idea of the 1% and 99%.

Which, of course, Bernie Sanders used to made his surprising rise as a credible voice in American federal politics, nearly upsetting the entire DNC applecart, causing major rifts inside the organisation, as they had to resort to rigging the primaries to shut him down.

What many people don’t remember is that OWS was started by Kalle Lasn, the publisher of AdBusters magazine. He was inspired by this podcast I did with him back in 2009 (kidding… or am I?).

Kalle and his team released this poster with the infamous hashtag #occupywallstreet.

Now Sanders didn’t win the DNC primary, let alone the White House – but what he did achieve was the partial rehabilitation of the word “socialist” in American politics. And here we are a few years later, where “Four in 10 Americans prefer socialism to capitalism” according to an Axios poll.

What do I take away from all this?

A poster and a hashtag can have consequences well beyond a protest.

Russian Agent My Ass

Let me make this as simple as possible for the people in the slow section. Even if Vladimir Putin had personally turned up on Julian Assange’s doorstep and handed him a gold-plated USB stick containing the DNC emails wrapped in red ribbon, along with a box of Lindt chocolates, a bottle of Dom Perignon and a long red rose, IT STILL WOULDN’T MAKE ASSANGE AS RUSSIAN AGENT.

Do you know what it makes him?

IT MAKES HIM A FUCKING JOURNALIST.

That’s what journalists do – they get information from sources and publish it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t approve of the source or approve of the content – it still makes him a journalist.

Anyone who is trying to push the narrative that publishing information given to him by Russia (if that indeed did happen) makes Assange a Russian agent is selling you a line of bullshit. And if you buy into it, you’re the dupe. You seriously need to examine your epistemology and heuristics.

BTW, the last I heard, Assange was firmly denying that his source for the DNC emails was connected to Russie. Now – maybe he was mistaken. Maybe he was lying. But who should you believe on this issue? A report written by American intelligence services, who have lied to the public continuously for the last century? Or Julian Assange who has a perfect track record of providing verified leaks? And isn’t it a coincidence that Julian Assange has been forced offline for the last year and chance, first gagged by Ecuador in March 2018 and now in jail, unable to respond to Mueller’s claims?

A handy coincidence, indeed.

True Journalism

I guarantee the people who decry Assange “outing national security agents” would have zero problem with, say, the NYT exposing Russian agents in Washington or Russian top secrets. What they are actually protesting is anyone exposing AMERICAN agents and AMERICAN secrets. They would likely applaud the NYT. And if the Russians sought to extradite the NYT journalists and publisher to stand trial in a kangaroo court for exposing their agents, these people would cry foul. So it’s not the principle that they have an issue with. They are just buying into the US narrative that anyone who exposes American secrets is an enemy and not a “true journalist”. It’s a FOX NEWS narrative. Anyone who truly values press freedom would understand that the role of the press is to expose secrets. Plenty of journalists and publishers who aren’t on good terms with Assange have come out and said exactly that over recent weeks. And, as I keep reminding people, Assange won Australia’s highest award for journalism. So the claim “he’s not a true journalist” is ridiculous. As is the claim “he’s a Russian agent”. The fact that he exposed dirt on the Clinton campaign does not make him a Russian agent. IT MAKES HIM A JOURNALIST.

QAV with Alan Kohler

Check out our interview with one of Australia’s most respected finance journalists, Alan Kohler. Alan gave us his thoughts on the economy, unemployment, internet stocks, lying CEOs, and his role with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. 

QAV podcast with Alan Kohler

News Corp’s unconstrained anti-Labor bias

Following on from my recent post about needing to control the media in order to have influence over the electoral process:

According to Denis Muller, Senior Research Fellow in the Centre for Advancing Journalism, University of Melbourne, via The Conversation:

An audit of metropolitan newspaper front pages by Media Watch showed a heavy anti-Labor bias by News Corp papers, and a roughly equivalent – but less strident – pro-Labor bias by the old Fairfax (now Nine) newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The New Daily analysed three nights of Sky News coverage – April 30, May 1 and 2 – and found gross anti-Labor bias: 


The New DailyCC BY-ND


News Corp’s unconstrained anti-Labor bias cannot account entirely for Labor’s disastrous showing, but common sense says it accounts for some. For example, the company has a daily newspaper monopoly in Brisbane through The Courier-Mail. It was virulently anti-Labor and Labor did astonishingly badly in Queensland. Coincidence? Possibly, but unlikely.

Note that neither newspaper empire showed a bias towards The Greens or Socialist Alliance. So don’t tell me Fairfax is “left-leaning”. The ALP hasn’t been left since Hawke and Keating. They are pro-corporate, just in a less virulent form. You won’t find Fairfax or the ALP arguing for the dismantling of capitalism.

The conclusion for me is that we either need more media regulation in this country – enforcing neutrality, at least in terms of political reporting and opinion – or we need to replace the old media with new media. But doing the latter has proven difficult over the last 20 years. Very few new media businesses have been able to build a sustainable business model that doesn’t rely on venture capital (which usually means putting rich white guys in control of your business) or advertising (corporate control over your revenue stream).

The only solution I can see for new media is to have user-funded models. Find blogs, podcasts, authors that you like and support them. And yes, I have a vested interest in saying that, but can you see another way forward? How do we stop the old media from determining the result of future elections?

The Original Type

The very neat, legible handwriting of Poggio Bracciolini, Renaissance hunter of ancient manuscripts, became the basis of the first types used in the printing machines in Italy. It was easier to read and faster to write than the Gothic styles which were in vogue in the 14th century. We’re starting a series about Poggio on our Renaissance Times podcast this week.

Poggio’s friend, the Florentine humanist Niccolò de’ Niccoli, developed his own style, based on Poggio’s. It was a neat, sloping, cursive, essentially a rapid version of the same script. It became very popular and early printers adopted it, too. They called it “italic”, because it was Italian. And that is what we still call it today on computers.

Media Is Politics

I’ve been saying it for 20 years. If you want political influence in a democracy, you need to control the media. That’s why I started TPN. That’s why Murdoch is king. Don’t blame the voters. They get their opinions from the media. Don’t blame the politicians. They were chosen by the media to do a particular job. It’s the media. If we want change, we need to control the media. We need to invest in independent media. Not the ABC. Truly independent media. That’s why you don’t want advertising to find your podcasts. That’s why you don’t want VC firms to invest in New Media. That’s why you don’t want Facebook to be the new publishing platform. Those things just subvert the opportunity to wrest control of the future from the rich white psychopaths.

What can you do? You can make the media. Make podcasts. Write blog posts. Write books. Make documentaries. Make comics.

TAKE CONTROL.

The bits the media leaves out.

In addition to targeting Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, the US government is now throwing the book (well, actually, the Espionage Act) at Daniel Hale, former National Security Agency intelligence analyst turned whistleblower who leaked information about the US drone assassination program. Of course, I’m sure many of my American “progressive Democrat” friends will probably support this, as they have supported the US government’s attacks against Manning, Assange and Snowden, because, like the leaders of the Democratic party, their primary allegiance is to US imperialism above democracy and transparency.

The interesting thing I’ve been noting about the mainstream media coverage of the Hale charges is that some of them avoid talking about the information contained in his leak. For example, CNN just calls it “classified information”, “dozens of documents”, but go out of their way to mention that in his court appearance he wore “a black T-shirt that exposed tattoos on his forearms”, as if that is somehow relevant information. It’s an obvious attempt to make some kind of aspersions about his character, like he’s a member of the Bandidos or something. The New York Times at least mentions the documents were “about the military’s use of drones.” But they don’t make it clear, as The Intercept does, that the documents “detailed a secret, unaccountable process for targeting and killing people around the world, including U.S. citizens, through drone strikes.” The Guardian mentions drones, but also doesn’t mention killing citizens or civilians. Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo does mention them, by quoting The Intercept’s editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed, so full credit to him and that publication.

So ask yourself – why are some major media outlets, in a country that reveres freedom of the press, leaving out this critical bit of information regarding the Hale leak? In our recent Bullshit Filter series debunking Antivax claims, I pointed out that vetting your news sources is an important part of developing a news heuristic. Who do you trust? I’d suggest not trusting news sources that omit vital and relevant information from important stories.

BTW, the French government is also going after whistleblowers hard too. So much for Macron.

Eleanor Roosevelt – Communist!

On this week’s Cold War podcast – the Red Scare continues. In 1939, Martin Dies Jr claimed that the Justice Department was investigating 2,850 known communists in government and that FDR had ordered a purge of all those named. But it was all a disinformation campaign launched by Hoover. The President hadn’t ordered a purge – but he HAD secretly ordered Hoover to make a list. As it turned out, the list included Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Mrs. James Roosevelt (FDR’s mother), and other prominent figures close to the President were listed as financial contributors to two or more of the suspect groups. And then one member of the Dies Committee accused Eleanor Roosevelt of being part of the Communist Fifth Column.