Tag Archives | Corruption

CU5: Nationwide Actions Mark Fifth Anniversary of Citizens United

"U.S. Chamber of Commerce building" by AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Chamber_of_Commerce_building.JPG#mediaviewer/File:U.S._Chamber_of_Commerce_building.JPG

“U.S. Chamber of Commerce building” by AgnosticPreachersKid at en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Republished with permission from Occupy.com

The corporate money machine has been snaking its way through our government for much longer than five years. However, this Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the moment when that snake went from insidious slithering to a boa constrictor-like tightening on our feeble and fragile democracy.

Five years ago, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Citizens United v. the Federal Elections Commission allowed corporations and unions the right to spend as much money as they want to influence elections. It gave rise to dark money spending and Super PACs where donors remain hidden from public view while funneling millions of dollars into state and federal elections.

In 2012, non-party outside spending passed the $1 billion mark for the first time in our history – three times the amount spent in the 2008 presidential elections.… Read the rest

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Corruption Perceptions Index 2014 Results


Via Transparency International:

Poorly equipped schools, counterfeit medicine and elections decided by money are just some of the consequences of public sector corruption. Bribes and backroom deals don’t just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders.

Based on expert opinion from around the world, the Corruption Perceptions Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide, and it paints an alarming picture. Not one single country gets a perfect score and more than two-thirds score below 50, on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

Read more.

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America’s Dirtiest Cops: Cash, Cocaine and Corruption on the Texas Border

police badgeIt sounds like a reality TV show: America’s Dirtiest Cops. In fact it’s an expose on Texas Border police corruption by Rolling Stone:

he temperature was nearing triple digits when Jonathan Treviño strapped on his bulletproof vest, slipped his .40-caliber Glock into his ankle holster and got ready to go to work. It was Thursday, July 26th, 2012, one of those summers in South Texas when the hot air settles on the Rio Grande Valley like a blanket. The Gulf breeze was already sticky as Treviño climbed into his unmarked Chevy Tahoe and started it up.

Treviño was a police officer in Mission, a bustling city of 80,000 on the Texas-Mexico border. Part of a flourishing bilingual metropolitan region with five international bridges, Mission also sits firmly in on e of the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s 28 HIDTAs, or High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas – smuggling hot spots where the federal government spends an extra $240 million a year battling narcotics.

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Take it and Like it: Corporate America and the Manipulation of Public Opinion

Brad Clinesmith (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Brad Clinesmith (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Absurd Illusions of a Shining City on a Hill by Mark Weiser at Dissident Voice:

The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There’s one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that’s contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this sudden revelation, as soon as the truth is realized, it’s likely to provoke a profound and immediate sense of disbelief. Like emergency room personnel making insensitive jokes, laughter at some point becomes a self-defense mechanism for offsetting continuous parades of the absurd realities and outright horrors.

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Dilma’s Reelection Proves “Citizen Kane” Style Media Still Alive and Well in Brazil

“They Knew About Everything”: the sensationalistic cover of Veja magazine intended to take down Dilma at a newsstand in Rio de Janeiro.
Photo: Veja

It’s a scene that’s just as famous among film scholars as it is among news junkies: Charles Foster Kane, owner of an influential news conglomerate in the early 20th century, is settling in to married life with his first wife, who becomes increasingly worried with the coverage in Kane’s newspapers. When she points out his outrageous headlines and begins to ask him what people will think, he cuts her off: “What I tell them to think”.

This depiction in Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, based on real life media baron William Randolph Hearst, was a fairly accurate assessment of the influence peddling typical of media outlets at the time. But the days of Hearst-style manipulation of the media are now long gone. Not to say there isn’t still yellow journalism in the states (perhaps it’s just turned a different shade of yellow).… Read the rest

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Our Pay to Play System, Embodied by Beanie Babies

By Dominique Godbout (CC by 2.0)

By Dominique Godbout (CC by 2.0)

Disinfo’s newest film, Pay 2 Play: Democracy’s High Stakes will be available this Saturday (11/1) on our site. Join us for Pay 2 Play’s worldwide digital release. You’ll be able to stream the film for $4 or download for $10.

There was a political scandal I heard about that changed the way I looked at corruption and helped me understand the larger mechanisms at work in government and society. It rocked the swing state of Ohio right after a disputed election, toppled the state’s one-party rule and ended the Taft legacy that included a President, a U.S. Senator, a Supreme Court Justice. And it started with Beanie Babies.

In Toledo, Ohio, Tom Noe was a small-time rare coin dealer who sought to raise his business prospects by getting involved in politics. He would later testify under oath that giving money to politicians “kept my business alive.” Noe elevated his status as a political player by bundling contributors together in North East Ohio in order to get more attention from statewide candidates.

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Protests in Pakistan: Curiously Underreported by International News

Thanks to a Facebook commenter on this post, the underreporting of the protests in Pakistan has been brought to my attention. While some of the mainstream media has covered these protests, their narrative has been dwarfed by other, more popular stories. Here’s a short recap from different sources.

551px-Konferenz_Pakistan_und_der_Westen_-_Imran_Khan_(4155877864)_cropped

Imran Khan, Pakistani politician and former cricketer.

“Imran Khan vows to carry on protest till Pakistan PM resigns” via Arab News:
(September 28)

LAHORE: Opposition politician Imran Khan has vowed to continue his protest against Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif until the leader resigns over allegations of election rigging.

Khan, along with populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri, has been staging a sit-in in capital Islamabad since August 15.

Last week he took his protest to Pakistan’s largest city Karachi and on Sunday he addressed thousands of people in his home town and Pakistan’s second largest city — Lahore, which is also the home town of Sharif.

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When Humans Lose Control of Government

By Sheila in Moonducks via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Sheila in Moonducks via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

via The Atlantic:

The Veterans Affairs scandal of falsified waiting lists is the latest of a never-ending stream of government ineptitude. Every season brings a new headline of failures: the botched roll-out of Obamacare involved 55 uncoordinated IT vendors; a White House report in February found that barely 3 percent of the $800 billion stimulus plan went to rebuild transportation infrastructure; and a March Washington Post report describes how federal pensions are processed by hand in a deep cave in Pennsylvania.

The reflexive reaction is to demand detailed laws and rules to make sure things don’t go wrong again. But shackling public choices with ironclad rules, ironically, is a main cause of the problems. Dictating correctness in advance supplants the one factor that is indispensable to all successful endeavors—human responsibility. “Nothing that’s good works by itself,” as Thomas Edison put it.

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We Can Put An End to Pay to Play

This post originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

What is Pay to Play? Commonly held, pay to play is a form of getting a special deal because you paid someone off. Usually this is an indirect transaction, because of clear legal guidelines, and so creative ways are devised around long-standing common-sense laws prohibiting politicians from taking bribes. For instance, when Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was asked to testify in his corruption trial as to who gave him a lavish Rolex watch, the governor artfully suggested, “from Santa.”

But while the McDonnell tragicomedy may be the stuff of Lifetime movies, the reality is, there is not much difference from a first family taking goods to endorse a company than when a candidate for office takes thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from those who expect a personal return. And since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision removed limits to outside spending in elections, the TV ads that dominate political campaigns are basically unregulated as far as spending or disclosing who is paying for them.… Read the rest

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Cornel West on Obama and the Democrats

Official_portrait_of_Barack_ObamaCornel West laments the betrayal of the disenfranchised by Obama and the Democrats at large. He advocates for support of third party candidates in order to move our government away from its current state of corruption.

Gaius Publius writes at AMERICAblog:

As you may know, there’s a war going on in the black community, and Barack Obama is at the center of it. We’ve done some reporting on it ourselves. For example:

Cornel West on Obama — “Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic”

Eddie Glaude on Cornel West and “The Obama Deception”

Ed Schultz interviews Cornel West & Melissa Harris-Perry on the criticism of Obama from the black community

Weekend thoughts: Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on Obama 2013

From the outside the gist is this (written in mid-2011):

A number of communities have felt betrayed lately by Obama and the Democrats in general — it’s foolish not to admit that.

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