Other Voices: The Connexions Newsletter
June 18, 2015
This week: Corruption and power
Corruption – or at least some types of corruption – are much in the news, with the ongoing scandals in the Canadian Senate and the recent U.S. targeting of the Swiss-based football federation FIFA for alleged bribery. In this issue, we look at these and other forms of corruption.
Diana Johnstone writes about the double standards
displayed by U.S. institutions, which happily target enemies and rivals,
while ignoring the much greater corruption that underlies the power
structures in Washington. We feature an article detailing how much money
U.S. Senators received from corporations prior to their vote on the TPP
negotiations, as well as materials on criminal conduct by some of the
world's biggest banks, and an article on the work of investigative
journalists in exposing corruption.
Also in this issue is an article on the ethnic cleansing
going on at this moment in the Dominican Republic, where are quarter of a
million people born in the country are being made stateless. And Adolph
Reed asks why the non-news story about Rachel Dolezal, a woman who
identifies as black and whose parents don't approve of her doing so, has
attracted so much passionate comment. He specifically asks why many of
those who approve of transgender identity choices are so disapproving of
transracial identity choices.
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The Connexions Subject Index features resources on many different forms of corruption, such as:
- the corruption of politicians and governments by corporate money;
- privatization: where public assets are turned over to private interests at a fraction of their true value;
- the subversion of journalistic ethics to accommodate advertisers and media owners;
- the corruption of law enforcement and the justice system, where blacks, Native people and the poor are much more likely to be harassed, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to longer sentences;
- behind-the-scenes collusion by government, law enforcement agencies, and corporations to target environmentalists, First Nations, and others who resist resource extraction industries.
Explore these issues at www.connexions.org/CxLibrary/Corruption-17065CX.htm
Playing Hard Ball with Soft Power
The United States claims the right to impose its laws on other
countries and on organizations and individuals in those countries. It
claims the sole right to decide what is right and wrong, what is
acceptable and what is not acceptable. The U.S. mostly ignores the
rampant corruption in and around its own government and corporate
sector, while going after rivals and enemies in other countries. A
recent example is the prosecution of the Swiss-based football
federation, FIFA, for alleged bribery. Is bribery only bribery when it
is secret? What about the American electoral system, which has a much
greater effect on the world than football games? What about an
electoral system in which billionaires can openly "fix the game" thanks
to perfectly legal campaign contributions? Read More
Keywords: Bribery - Double Standards
Here's how much corporations paid US senators to fast-track the TPP bill
Members of the U.S. Congress were showered with money by
multinational corporations prior to voting to approve the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP) "fast track" legislation without debate. The TPP is
being created to allow corporations to increase their power and
profits. Read More
Keywords: Campaign Financing - Corporatons/Influence on Government
Biggest criminals write laws that make their crimes legal
A Costa Rican journalist describes the bribery and corruption
investigation she worked on which led to criminal charges against two
former presidents. She notes that the biggest criminals have the power
to write laws that make their crimes legal. Read More
Keywords: Corruption - Investigative Journalism
Six Banks Pay $5.6 Billion in Fines for Foreign Exchange Manipulation
Six major international banks – Bank of America, Barclays,
Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Union Bank
of Switzerland (UBS) – have agreed to pay $5.6 billion in fines for
rigging global foreign exchange markets. Four of the six have pleaded
guilty to criminal behaviour. These banks number among a total of 15
that are being investigated for rigging the $5.3 trillion global
market. Just four of the 15 together control over half the
foreign-exchange market. Read More
Keywords: Banking Industry - Corporate Crime
Dominican Republic being 'Socially Cleaned'
This week about a quarter of a million people in the Dominican
Republic are being made stateless. They will have no homes, no
passports, and no civil rights. There are several reasons for this, but
the primary reason is racism. At issue is a ruling by the
Constitutional Court in the Dominican Republic to strip away the
citizenship of several generations of Dominicans. According to the
decision, Dominicans born after 1929 to parents who are not of
Dominican ancestry are to have their citizenship revoked. The ruling
affects an estimated 250,000 Dominican people of Haitian descent,
including many who have had no personal connection with Haiti for
several generations. Read More
Keywords: Dominican Republic - Ethnic Cleansing
From Jenner to Dolezal: One Trans Good, the Other Not So Much
Adolph Reed asks why the non-news story about Rachel Dolezal, a woman who identifies as black and whose parents don't approve of her doing so, has attracted so much passionate comment. He specifically asks why many of those who approve of transgender identity choices are so disapproving of transracial identity choices. According to Reed, "When all is said and done, the
racial outrage is about protection of the boundaries of racial
authenticity as the exclusive property of the guild of Racial
Spokespersonship.... That is to say, as is ever clearer and ever more
important to note, race politics is not an alternative to class
politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of
neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political
order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated
as unassailable nature." Read More
Keywords: Identity Politics - Race & Class
The Magna Carta
On June 15, 2015, King John of England gave in to
pressure from the English barons and reluctantly signed the Magna Carta
("the Great Charter"). The Magna Carta states that freemen have
certain rights and liberties which even the king may not infringe.
Among the Magna Carta's important provisions is the guarantee that no
freeman may be imprisoned or punished without due process. The rights
in the charter apply only to a privileged minority, but nonetheless
they mark a victory because they establish the principle that the
king's power cannot be used arbitrarily to violate established rights
and liberties. According to historian Peter Linebaugh, the author of The Magna Carta Manifesto: Liberties and Commons for All,
the Magna Carta, along with the lesser-kownn Charter of the Forest
that accompanied it, was important because it recognized the commons
and protected the rights of the poor to use it to earn their own
Peter Linebaugh: Magna Carta Manifesto - http://www.onthecommons.org/magazine/magna-carta-manifesto
Noam Chomsky: Destroying the Commons: How the Magna Carta Became a Minor Carta - http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175571/tomgram%3A_noam_chomsky%2C_the_great_charter%2C_its_fate%2C_and_ours
Keywords: Civil Liberties - The Commons
The Hillcrest Mine Disaster
One hundred and one years ago, on June 19, 1914, the
worst coal mining disaster in Canada occurred in Hillcrest, Alberta.
Shortly after 9 am, a explosion ripped through the Hillcrest Coal Mine.
189 men died, either in the explosion, or as a result of the deadly
gases that filled the mine afterwards.
One book has been published about the disaster: Canada's
Worst Mine Disaster, by Frank W. Anderson, published by Frontier books
in 1969; revised 1980.
For more information on the Hillcrest Minder Disaster, see http://coalminersmemorial.tripod.com/hillcrestminedisaster.html and http://hillcrestminedisaster.com/
Keywords: Coal Mining - Workers' History
Website of the Week: Global Witness
Global Witness works to expose corruption and environmental
abuse. They believe that the only way to protect peoples' rights to
land, livelihoods and a fair share of their national wealth is to
demand total transparency in the resources sector, sustainable and
equitable resources management, and stopping the international
financial system from propping up resource-related corruption. The
Global Witness team engages in undercover investigations, financial
research, and information gathering on the ground, in cooperation with
partners and activists in various countries. They say "exposure is not
enough: our goal has always been to achieve system-wide change that
will starve corrupt dictators and warlords of looted funds, stop brutal
resource-driven conflicts, and protect the planet's natural assets for
the benefit of all." Visit Global Witness here.
Keywords: Corruption - Environmental Crime
Book of the Week: The Invention of the White Race by Theodore W. Allen
Theodore Allen's two-volume study on the history of racism in the United States (Volume One: Racial Oppression and Social Control; Volume Two: The Origin of Racial Oppression in Anglo-America)
debunks the myth that race and skin colour are the same thing. His
study sets out to show that race is a social construct; that the
introduction of racial oppression was a deliberate ruling-class
decision; and that the propertyless classes in the United States were
recruited into an "intermediate buffer control stratum" by being given
status and privilege vs. blacks (while being denied real power or
significant economic benefits.
Allen writes: "It was in the interest of the slave-labor
system to maintain the white-skin privilege differential in favor of
the European American workers. At the same time, however, it was
equally in the interest of the employers of wage-labor, as well as of
bond-labor, that the differential be kept to no more than a minimum
necessary for the purpose of keeping the European-American workers in
the white race corral... The chains that bound the African-American
thus also held down the living standards of the Irish-American
slum-dweller and canal digger as well."
Keywords: Race & Class - Racism
Film of the Week: Big Boys Gone Bananas!*
What is a big corporation capable of when it sets
out to protect its brand? Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten found out.
His 2009 film Bananas!* recounted a lawsuit that 12
Nicaraguan plantation workers brought against the fruit giant Dole Food
Company. The film was accepted for showing in the Los Angeles film
Festival -- and then suddenly pulled after pressure from Dole. Gertten
receives a letter from Dole's attorney threatening him with a lawsuit.
What's a poor filmmaker to do when a giant corporation tries to silence
him? Gerrten responds by making another documentary: this one about
Dole's attempt to silence him and prevent his film from being shown.
This second film, Big Boys Gone Bananas!*, is our film of the week. Check it out at http://www.bigboysgonebananas.com
Keywords: Bananas - Censorship
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June 17, 2015
World Day to Combat Desertification
June 20, 2015
World Refugee Day
June 12, 2015
International Widows' Day
June 16, 2015
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture
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June 17, 1789
Third Estate declares itself National Assembly:
In France, the members of the Third Estate (the Commons), tiring of the
fruitless manoeuvres that have followed the calling of the first
Estates General since 1614, take matters into their own hands. They
declare themselves the National Assembly, invite the other two estates
(the aristocracy and the clergy) to join them if they wish, but make it
clear that they intend to start conducting the nation’s affairs with or
without them. The king attempts to thwart them by shutting down the
Salle des États, but the Assembly moves to a nearby indoor tennis court,
where on June 20, they swear the Tennis Court Oath, vowing not to
separate until they have given France a constitution.
June 17, 1838
Trail of Tears:
The Cherokee Nation, forcibly expelled from their lands in North
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, begin the 2000-kilometre
forced march to the west to Oklahoma later known as the Trail of Tears.
An estimated 4,000 Cherokee die en route.This is one of a long series of
forced “Indian Removals” in the United States.
June 17, 1953
Workers’ uprising in East Germany:
A workers’ uprising erupts in East Germany. It begins when construction
workers in East Berlin walk out after being informed of increased
quotes and pay cuts. The unrest spreads through the city and other
cities and towns in Soviet-occupied East Germany.The uprising is put
down by Russian troops assisted by police. More than 500 people die;
more than 5,000 are arrested.
June 17, 2006
Popular Assembly of Oaxaca:
After a police attack on striking teachers in Oaxaca, Mexico, on June 14,
teachers and their supporters build barricades and take over the centre
of Oaxaca, and, on June 17, declare themselves Asamblea Popular de los
Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO) (the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca).
The Assembly includes teachers as well as representatives of Oaxaca’s
state regions and municipalities, unions, non-governmental
organizations, social organizations, and cooperatives. It encourages all
Oaxacans to organize popular assemblies at every level: neighbourhoods,
street blocks, unions, and towns and declares itself “movement of the
bases, not of leaders.”
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Thanks to Ulli Diemer and Darien Yawching Rickwood for their work on this newsletter.
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