Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What is the World's Worst Company to work for?

Good question. There are so many horrible choices to choose from. Companies that pay their workers slave wages. Companies that exploit "illegal" immigrants. Companies that cheat their workers out of pay, or overtime. Companies that destroy or endanger their workers' health by exposing them to dangerous substances, or unsafe working conditions. Companies that are just plain evil, involved with fascist death squads to murder workers trying to organize their fellow workers, for example. Companies that sell repressive technology and machinery to oppressive regimes. (Like western corporations selling surveillance equipment and software to China, companies that sell arms and "riot control" equipment to dictatorships, Caterpillar selling armored bulldozers to Israel to raze the homes of Palestinians, and murder the occasional activist like Rachel Corrie.)

So I guess Rio Tinto isn't the world's worst company to work for. But I sure wouldn't want to work for them. They just threw 4 employees to the wolves, abandoning them to a Chinese prison on trumped up charges. Even before the "conviction" in a bogus, secret "trial," the head of Rio Tinto was distancing his company from these expendable executives and sucking up to the Chinese rulers. Utterly disgusting. The instant they were "convicted," they were fired. Some people really do care only about money.

RT is an Australian company. One of the victims is an Australian citizen (but ethnically Chinese, which I think might be relevant in terms of the Aussie Government's attitude) and the other 3 are Chinese citizens. The Australian Government has been pretty feckless, making mealy-mouthed pleas for more "transparency" in the "trial." (The men were held virtually incommunicado for months preceding the "trial." Their lawyers had almost no input into the "process." ) It's reminiscent of the Australians' going along with the Indonesians' pathetic lies about murdering a group of Australian journalists during the invasion of East Timor back in the 1970s. Apparently caving in to thugs is an Aussie habit.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Media Barons Topple 2nd N.Y. Governor in a Row

The media barons of New York (who are also national "players" with many other media properties), Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr. of the New York Times, Rupert Murdoch of the New York Post, and Mortimer Zuckerman of the New York Daily News, have flexed their muscles yet again, toppling a second N.Y State Governor in less than a year.

Last year they ousted Eliot Spitzer, a genuine reform Governor. Months of attacks on Spitzer culminated in the FBI handing the media a prostitution "scandal" they could use to finally force Spitzer from office. The only possible motive must have been that despite their pseudo-moralistic fulminations against the corrupt state government, they actually oppose reform. Spitzer was attacked for having a lousy personality, and then when his underlings exposed a real scandal- Republican State Senate boss Joseph Bruno using State Police helicopters to ferry him to partisan political errands, the media twisted it into a scandal against Spitzer for leaking the info! Amazing. When that wasn't enough to oust Spitzer, the FBI helpfully came through.
Now the media oligarchs have toppled Spitzer's unelected successor, David Paterson, a political hack who dropped his "liberal" politics like a snake molting its skin to move sharply right as Governor. (For example, suddenly defending the rich from taxes and wanting to slash social services, opposing a special prosecutor to investigate police crimes, which he'd "supported" as a state senator, etc.)

The media barons are surely feeling their oats. The tabloid rags, the Post and Daily News, scream in large block letters on their front pages in the crudest terms for Paterson to "go." (See their covers from late February 2010 early March. http://www.nypost.com/, http://www.nydailynews.com/.) Not content with his dropping out of the election campaign scheduled for the fall, they want him to resign immediately. The papers are openly demanding that the current unelected Lt. Governor, Richard Ravitch, take over. Ravitch is a lifetime member of the unelected nomenklatura in New York State, one of the grey eminences who wield power behind the scenes. Since he doesn't have to answer to the people, he can savagely attack their interests with impunity, including social services, and institute even more regressive taxation. (Sales taxes in NYC, for example, are just a hair below 10% now.)

The means of ousting Paterson consisted of the Times rooting around for skeletons in his closet. They found one in the closet of his trusted aide-de-camp, David Johnson, a 6 foot 7 inch bully with a bad habit of beating up his girlfriends. The campaign started with the media hyping rumors of unspecified dirt that the Times was about to spring that would force Paterson out. After a couple of weeks of shameless rumor-mongering and wild speculation by the rest of the media, the Times came out with an article closely tying Johnson to Paterson, painting him as his main political adviser and right hand man, with some hints of legal troubles. Days later, they let the other shoe drop with the news that a girlfriend Johnson beat up was then leaned on by the State Police- specifically the unit that functions as the Governor's Praetorian Guard, and does dirty work for ALL Governors, and that Paterson himself spoke with her on the phone the day before she was due in court to seek a permanent order of protection. When she failed to show up in court, the matter was dismissed.

Now the media pile-on is unrelenting for Paterson to resign, not just not run for election in November.

The moral of the story? The major corporate media constitute the top power in the U.S. Politicians are ultimately at their mercy, because the media control the perceptions of the populace. The populace are deluded that the image of the world presented by the media constitutes reality.