Friday, June 04, 2010

Where Corporations Learn How to 'Manipulate' the Media

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

The word 'manipulate' was used by Edward Bernays to describe how big corporations, like BP and Exxon, should harness the 'organized habits and opinions of the masses'. Bernays considered such 'manipulation' to be essential in a democratic society. BP's recent oil spill --now threatening the U.S. Gulf Coast, indeed, the entire Gulf of Mexico --is an occasion in which corporations will apply the principle of 'manipulation' referred to by Bernays.
"The conscious and intelligent manipulation [emphasis mine, LH] of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.

--Edward Bernays
Over a period of some thirty years or more, the 'manipulation' of the media has become a growth industry. As one might expect, a pioneer 'consulting firm' is located in the Houston suburb of Sugar Land, TX. Ammerman Enterprises 'trains' executives from huge firms like Exxon, Shell, DuPont, HCA, Humana et al. The 'executives' and other corporate kiss-ups are taught what we would call 'spin' and 'propaganda' techniques most of which are especially applicable in 'crisis' situations of which the BP 'spill' is a corporatist's [fascist's] worst nightmare come true.

It was Ammerman Enterprises which 'trained' Exxon executives with respect to the Exxon Valdez. What we call 'spin' and PR, consultants call 'bridging' --a fancy, 'corporate' word for 'let's talk about something else' or 'I don't wanna talk about that; let's talk about this!' Another technique goes beyond mere bridging; it is a complete 'paradigm shift'! Done well, a hapless or cub reporter may not even notice.
Thousands of business and other professionals have chosen The Ammerman Experience's Effective Media Communications workshop in order to learn the skills needed to deal successfully with the media. In this small-group session you will learn:
  • How to be interviewed.
  • What is required before, during and after an interview.
  • How to get your points into an interview.
  • The most common (and damaging) media traps.
  • What reporters want to know and why.
  • How important perceptions are to your reputation.
  • How to handle the communications aspects of a crisis situation.
Who Should Attend

This workshop is appropriate for anyone who may have to deal with the media.

Practical Learning

This is a skills-development workshop, not a lecture on concepts. As our firm's name suggests, the training we provide is experiential. We use simulated environments, including tough, experienced journalists. Some features of this workshop are:
  • Instructors and role players with extensive media experience.
  • Three television interviews.
  • Two crisis news conferences with multiple reporters.
  • Each exercise is videotaped and critiqued in an open forum by the instructor.
--The Ammerman Experience
The First Amendment, I believe, granted the right of free speech to real people --not mere legal abstractions, non-persons, artificial entities! The U.S. Supreme Court, dominated by five corporate-biased ideologues, think otherwise though it is anyone's guess how idiots like Scalia or Roberts managed to conclude so fallaciously, with such overt bias toward what St. Thomas More in fact called a 'conspiracy of rich men'. More's description remains the best description of the modern corporation.

It is 'real' people --not 'legal abstractions', mere words on paper --that are most harmed by 'corporate personhood' and the crimes against both nature and humanity that have resulted! In the Elizabethan era, 'companies' operated via a 'charter' granted by the sovereign. Doing business was not a 'right' but 'privilege' and a displeased Queen could revoke the privilege at will. I wonder if Elizabeth would have, by this time, revoked the right of BP to do business.

I can perceive nothing but a certain conspiracy of rich men procuring their own commodities under the name and title of the commonwealth.

They invent and devise all means and crafts, first how to keep safely, without fear of losing, that they have unjustly gathered together, and next how to hire and abuse the work and labour of the poor for as little money as may be. These devices, when the rich men have decreed to be kept and observed for the commonwealth's sake, that is to say for the wealth also of the poor people, then they be made laws. But these most wicked and vicious men, when they have by their insatiable covetousness divided among themselves all those things, which would have sufficed all men, yet how far be they from the wealth and felicity of the Utopian commonwealth? Out of the which, in that all the desire of money with the use of thereof is utterly secluded and banished, how great a heap of cares is cut away! How great an occasion of wickedness and mischief is plucked up by the roots!

Sir Thomas More (1478 - 1535), Utopia, Of the Religions in Utopia
I am among those who believe that it is time to restore the 'corporate death penalty' by seizing the assets of BP and prosecuting whatever management is guilty of criminal negligence and/or malfeasance of any type. Seizing BP effectively ends that company's existence as a corporation. Any assets remaining after damages are paid must be controllable by the public and in the public interest. The current management is put out of a job and where crimes are found --prosecuted.

Media Conglomerates, Mergers, Concentration of Ownership

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Seize BP While it Still Has an Asset!

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

BP is busted. Penalties already assessed BP exceed 60 $billion. The cost of the cleanup will run about $760m but that figure was 'operative' before the last failed attempt to plug up the hole. Damages increase daily, hourly as the hole remains unplugged, as the oil continues to spew!

Associated Press reports that damages have already wiped out some $75 billion in market value. By every definition, BP is bankrupt, finished! Kaput!
Firm's stock sale nearly twice as large as any other institution; Represented 44 percent of total BP investment
The brokerage firm that's faced the most scrutiny from regulators in the past year over the shorting of mortgage related securities seems to have had good timing when it came to something else: the stock of British oil giant BP.
According to regulatory filings, has found that Goldman Sachs sold 4,680,822 shares of BP in the first quarter of 2010. Goldman's sales were the largest of any firm during that time. Goldman would have pocketed slightly more than $266 million if their holdings were sold at the average price of BP's stock during the quarter.
--Goldman Sachs sold $250 million of BP stock before spill
And then --yet to be tallied --the costs of clean up and environmental damages to coast lines, damage that has yet to occur!.
...under US law, BP is liable for $1,100 in civil penalties for each spilt barrel of oil and gas, to be paid to the US federal and affected state governments. If BP is found to have acted with gross negligence – and there is no evidence so far that it has – this fine would rise to $4,300 for each barrel.
The issue of legal liability for the accident is complex, involving US federal and state laws. City analysts’ calculations of the bill faced by BP have ignored the potentially ruinous cost of civil penalties.
--BP Faces Extra $60 Billion Legal Costs As US Loses Patience
I propose that the governments of the United States and Britain act quickly to seize the assets of BP, plan a fair distribution of all assets and put into place a mechanism by which damages to homes and other coastal properties are addressed without additional layers of PR flack, corporate bureaucracy and 'spin'.
On Tuesday alone, the first trading day since BP’s latest attempt at a fix failed, and the day the government announced it had opened a criminal probe into the disaster, its stock took a hit of 15 percent.
The British oil giant is worth $75 billion less on the open market than it was when the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded six weeks ago. Other companies involved in the spill — Transocean, Halliburton and Cameron — have all lost at least 30 percent in value.
And as oil seeps unchecked into the Gulf, nearby states, businesses, environmental regulators and injured workers and cleanup crews are eyeing damages that could total billions more.
--As Gulf Oil Spill Grows, Do Does BP's Liability; $75 Billion in Market Value Already Wiped Out
The Gulf disaster has now eclipsed the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, which, after two decades of lawsuits, cost Exxon Mobil $4.5 billion. According to analyst Blake Fernandez with the Howard Weil investment firm, that comes to about $654 per gallon today.
ON JUNE 2nd the White House announced that BP, an oil firm, would be subject to a criminal investigation over the oil spilling out of the Deepwater Horizon rig. The company's share price, along with that of Halliburton, an oil-services company that is also implicated in the Gulf of Mexico spill, fell sharply on the news. This contrasts with the price of ExxonMobil's stock in the weeks following the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 (when the company was plain Exxon). Cleaning up after Exxon Valdez ultimately cost Exxon about $4 billion, much less than had seemed likely at first, because a Supreme Court decision in 2008 allowed punitive damages to be slashed from $2.5 billion to $507.5m.
--The Economist, How the share prices of BP and Exxon have fared after big oil spills
Many are of the opinion that it is time to restore the 'corporate death penalty: seize BP, freeze, confiscate assets, prosecute whatever management is guilty of criminal negligence and/or or malfeasance of any type or terminology. Seizing BP effectively ends that company's existence as a corporation. Any assets remaining after damages are paid are then controllable by the public; the current management is put put out of a job if not prosecuted. Secondly --seizing BP puts an end to its control of information, better termed 'dis-information'. Corporate spin-meisters are literally trained by companies like Ammerman Enterprises of Sugar Land, TX, the Houston suburb whose other disgrace is that it was home to Tom DeLay. Ammerman Enterprises trains executives for huge firms like Exxon, Shell, DuPont et al. It was Ammerman Enterprise which 'trained' EXXON executives with respect to the Exxon Valdez. What we call 'spin' and PR, they call 'bridging' --a fancy, 'corporate' word for 'let's talk about something else' or 'I don't wanna talk about that; let's talk about this!'

This disaster will prove to have been much worse --a catastrophe by any standard, an irrefutable repudiation of the very notion of 'corporate personhood', in fact, 'corporate privilege'. It is time to repudiate the SCOTUS decision, the effect of which is to put corporations above the law even as 'real persons' are held to a higher and often unfair standard. This disaster must be watched carefully! Will corporations get away with destroying the habitats of all living things --including ourselves? Or --will the corporations be held responsible for the irreparable damages that they have inflicted and continue to inflict upon our only habitat: planet Earth?

Monday, May 31, 2010

Stop U.S. Support of Israeli Terrorism

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

'Aid' to Israel --better described as a 'rogue' or 'terrorist' nation than a 'state' --must end! Most recent among a series of 'false flag' attacks or so-called "incidents" of Israeli origin is a recent atrocity: Ten dead as Israel storms aid ships, an act of terrorism by 'Israeli commandos, an attack of a convoy of Gaza-bound aid ships'. The time has come to cut off all 'aid' to Israel.

The ships were in international waters. Palestine has --rightly --called the attack a massacre. I call it an act of terrorism by a terrorist state.
The bloodshed sparked street protests and government ire in Turkey, long Israel's lone Muslim ally in the region, which had supported the convoy. Ankara recalled its ambassador from Israel and Turkish President Abdullah Gul demanded that the culprits be punished.
The European Union demanded an inquiry and France and Germany said they were "shocked." The United Nations condemned violence against civilians in international waters.
Israeli officials said the marines were met with gunfire and knives when they boarded the ships, which included a large ferry flying the Turkish flag. Activists seized at least two pistols from the boarding party, the officials said.<
Israel's attempts to maintain its three-year-old blockade on the Hamas Islamist-ruled enclave while avoiding bloodshed that would spark an international incident collapsed in spectacular fashion: "It's going to be a big scandal, no doubt about it," Israel's Trade Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told Reuters.
-Ten dead as Israel storms aid ships, sparks outcry
This act of terrorism by the 'state' of Israel, a U.S. 'client state', is but the most recent in a long list of Israeli outrages to include the murder of innocent men, women, and children.
By supporting Israel, the U.S. violates the 'Symington Amendment' in which aid of any type is forbidden to 'Nuclear states' not signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty'.
Moreover, 'Dual-citizen' Israelis now serve in U.S. government positions, obvious instances of conflict of interest but worse --allegiance! This practice subverts U.S. security and might have been considered 'treasonous' had the U.S. 'war on terrorism' been real! A more convincing case is that Israel itself is a terrorist nation in partnership with the United States. I find it hard to believe that any other nation has ever allowed another nation the access allowed Israel by the United States.
K-Street, where paid lobbies 'nest' and purchase favors and preferential treatment, has replaced Congress. Lobbies, in fact, draft the laws and solicit support for them among members of Congress. The most powerful lobby is the so-called 'Jewish Lobby', most certainly bankrolled by the state of Israel. It is not unusual that the U.S. is routinely sold to the highest bidder, but, in the case of Israel, the U.S. taxpayer is stuck with the bill.

At the beginning of every fiscal year, the U.S. makes a lump sum payment of cold hard cash to Israel, a procedure not duplicated for any other nation receiving U.S. 'aid'. It looks like a payoff in response to a shakedown because that is precisely what it is! What leverage, we wonder, is used by Israel on the U.S? The Carvellian quick response: terrorism! Terrorism is a racket! Israel exploits 'terrorism' to shake down the U.S. tax payer. Now we know why Israelis danced on 911.
Israel is among the world's richest nations. Nevertheless, Israel receives more U.S. tax payer money than any other 'single recipient' of what is euphemistically called 'U.S. aid', more, in fact, than all of Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa combined. Though Israel is barely larger in population than metropolitan Los Angeles, Chicago or Houston, it receives more aid than two continents. Those areas include some of the poorest regions which receive much less U.S. aid than does wealthy Israel who clearly does not need it.
Then what does U.S. aid to Israel consist of? At the top of the list is, of course, the aforementioned cold, hard cash. Other 'aid' includes the weapons of war themselves.
The U.S. administration has notified Congress of the following proposed government-negotiated Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreements, export licenses for industry-negotiated Direct Commercial Sales (DCS), or leases of military equipment to Israel. The Arms Export Control Act requires only that the administration notify Congress of FMS and DCS valued at $14 million or more. Sales below that threshold are not recorded here.
--Arms Transfers to Israel: 1993 to Present
Former Secretary of State Shultz 'credited' Netanyahu for 'effecting a change in American policies on terrorism'. That's 'political speak' for 'Israel extorted billions of dollars in aid by raising the specter of 'terrorism'. Fear of 'terrorism' is responsible for the transfer of billions of dollars to Israel because the U.S. tax payer is brainwashed, literally trained to fear anyone with a tan wearing a turban. Terrorism is how the moneys 'given' to Israel are officially justified. What is 'terrorism' but the practice by the U.S. and its client state, Israel, to extort billions from U.S. taxpayers?
The set of deliberately misleading and discredited assumptions followed by the proponents of the War on Terror must be repudiated. The government is wasting 10s of billions of dollars, propping up this sham, in the wake of the enforced fear-mongering that has crept in since 9/11. In return for the tax dollars that pay for blooding our hands, we had habeas corpus struck down, arbitrary “no-fly lists” are implemented, our government is perpetrating terror hoaxes on the people, and over 100 Canadian soldiers have died fighting what Stephen Harper admits is an un-winnable war.
Despite the obvious ill effects on society, the tenets of the GWOT are still off-limits for inquiry, or you are a ‘troofer’ and subject to derision and ridicule. It doesn’t matter that you are speaking truth. Ask Lesley Hughes.

Canada seems to be under the ideological and political grip of a foreign power, that is leveraging control over Canadian parties and politicians. Many powerful Isr-el lobby groups operate in Canada bending the government’s ear to the Isr-elis.

They need the pretense of the “existential threat” to Western Civilization represented by Arab terrorism to justify what was a long-standing plan to invade the middle east. Thus, we are following a set of deliberately misleading erroneous assumptions that have manipulated us into war.

--Origins of the War of Terror: Bush, Netanyahu and the CIA
It was in 1979 that Netanyahu organized an international conference against terrorism, under the auspices of the Jonathan Institute — a private foundation dedicated to the study of terrorism. It is hard to believe that it was not the very purpose of that 'foundation' to frighten the U.S. into coughing up the billions for Israel which habitually milks the U.S. tax payer. Yet recently, Netanyahu is reported to have defied the U.S. over Israeli settlement policies that have clearly destabilized the Middle East. See: Netanyahu defies U.S. over Jerusalem settlement

Leo Strauss, the so-called 'intellectual' godfather of neo-conservativism, believed that neocons ought to 'lie' to the unwashed masses because, it is said, they 'can't handle the truth'. Well --the truth is Benjamin Netanyahu believes he owns the NEOCONS. Tails wag dogs. I say: a pox on both their houses. Israel should be 'cut off' now. No gradualism, no time for therapy sessions! Cut them off now and balance the budget with the savings. (BTW, the last balanced budget was in a Democratic Regime)
The prime minister's speech last night returned the Middle East to the days of George W. Bush's "axis of evil." Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a patriarchal, colonialist address in the best neo-conservative tradition: The Arabs are the bad guys, or at best ungrateful terrorists; the Jews, of course, are the good guys, rational people who need to raise and care for their children. In the West Bank settlement of Itamar, they're even building a nursery school.
No empathy for the refugees from Jaffa who lost their entire world, not a word for the Muslim connection to Jerusalem - neither a fragment of a quote from the Koran, nor a line of Arabic poetry.
--Netanyahu and a Return to the Axis of Evil
If it has not been eclipsed by Mossad, the CIA is most certainly the world' biggest 'terrorist' organization. The late Benazir Bhutto revealed the truth before she was brutally gunned down in the streets of Karachi: US policy causes world terrorism. Conveniently for 'official terrorists, she died before she could tell the rest of the story.

When the United States aligns with dictatorships and totalitarian regimes, it compromises the basic democratic principles of its foundation -- namely, life, liberty and justice for all. Dictatorships such as Musharraf's suppress individual rights and freedoms and empower the most extreme elements of society. Oppressed citizens, unable to represent themselves through other means, often turn to extremism and religious fundamentalism.

--Benazir Bhutto, A False Choice for PakistanA favorite CIA tactic is the CIA "front".
The May 12 terrorist attacks on the al Hamra, Jadawal and Vinnell compounds in the Saudi Arabian capital, Riyadh, which killed more than 90 people, were not merely assaults on “symbols” of the imperialist West. The bombers were also intent on weakening the rule of Saudi royal family.

While the timing of the bombings in Saudi Arabia and in other countries — just hours before US Secretary of State Colin Powell arrived in Saudi Arabia — suggested a coordinated assault on US targets, the bombings in Riyadh were targeted at key props of the reactionary regime.

All three Saudi Arabian targets were associated with Saudi Arabia's role as a US client state: residential compounds housing mainly expatriates working in the country, the offices of the Vinnell Corporation and the residences of its employees.

Vinnell, founded in California in 1931, first gained a foothold in Saudi Arabia in 1975. An article by Matt Gaul in the June 1998 Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, revealed that it was the culmination of a close relationship between the corporation, the US military and Washington's intelligence agencies. This relationship stretched back to the end of World War II, when the US government used the company to ship supplies to the China's counter-revolutionary party, the Kuomintang.

During the 1950s and '60s, Vinnell constructed US military airfields in Japan, Okinawa, Taiwan, Thailand and southern Vietnam. According to Gaul, it was during this period that Albert Vinnell, the corporation's founder, “offered his staff's services to the [CIA], and several CIA agents used employment with Vinnell as cover for operations in Africa and the Middle East”.

-- Rohan Pearce, CIA front targeted in terrorist attacks, 28 May 2003
How does the CIA do it?
It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, economic sabotage, death squads and even assassination. These efforts culminate in a military coup, which installs a right-wing dictator. The CIA trains the dictator’s security apparatus to crack down on the traditional enemies of big business, using interrogation, torture and murder. The victims are said to be "communists," but almost always they are just peasants, liberals, moderates, labor union leaders, political opponents and advocates of free speech and democracy. Widespread human rights abuses follow.
--Steve Kangas, A Timeline of CIA Atrocities
It is time that people themselves began to demand an end to the un-holy CIA/Israel partnership even if there is precious little that mere 'people' can do against that other 'terrorist' organization: Mossad. There is, however, tremendous political pressure that might be applied to members of Congress and the various 'consulate' offices that the client state of Israel maintains on U.S. soil.
ISRAELI EMBASSIES around the world – please share!

Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina... See More
Embassy of Israel in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Embassy Av.... See More
De Mayo 701
Piso 10 Buenos Aires
Phone: 54-11-43382500
Fax: 54-11-43382555

Israeli Embassy in Mendoza, Argentina
Honorary Consulate of Israel in Mendoza, Argentina
Olascoaga 838 -(5500)
Mendoza - Argentina
Phone: +54 - 61 - 380642
Fax: +54 - 61 - 235940

Israeli Embassy in Ottawa, Canada
Embassy of Israel in Ottawa, Canada
1005-50 O'Connor
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 6L2
Consular Reception Hours:
10:00 - 13:00
Phone: (613) 567-6450
Fax: (613) 237-8865

Israeli Embassy in Shanghai, China
Consulate General of Israel in Shanghai
7th Floor, New Town Mansion
55 Loushanguan Road
Shanghai 200336
Phone: 86-21-62098008

Israeli Embassy in Taipei, China
Israel Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, China (Republic)
Bet Agron,
Hillel Street 37,
Phone: (02) 2757-9692
Fax: (02) 2757-7247

Israeli Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark
Embassy of Israel in Copenhagen, Denmark
Lundevangsvej 4
2900 Hellerup
Phone: 45 -88185500

Israeli Embassy in Paris, France (Paris)
Embassy of Israel in Paris, France
3, rue Rabelais
75008 Paris - France
Phone: 01 40 76 55 00

Israeli Embassy in Berlin, Germany
Embassy of Israel in Berlin, Germany
Auguste-Victoria-Str. 74
14193 Berlin
Phone: 030/8904 5531

Israeli Embassy in Rome, Italy
Embassy of Israel in Rome, Italy
Phone: 06 36198500
Fax: 06 36198555

Israeli Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands
Embassy of Israel in The Hague, Netherlands
Ambassade van Israel
Buitenhof 47
2513 AH Den Haag
Phone: 070-3760500

Israeli Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand
Embassy of Israel in Wellington, New Zealand
111 The Terrace,
PO Box 2171,
Phone: 04 472 2368
Fax: 04 499 0632

Israeli Embassy in, Poland
Embassy of Israel in Poland
ul. Krzywickiego 24
02 078 Warszawa
Phone: (48 22 ) 825 09 23 or ( 48 22 ) 825 00 28
Fax: ( 48 22 ) 825 16 07

Israeli Embassy in Singapore, Singapore
Embassy of Israel in Singapore
24 Stevens Close
Phone: 65-2350966

Israeli Embassy in Miami, United States
Consulate General of Israel in Miami, United States of America
100 North Biscayne (Yitzhak Rabin) Boulevard
Suite 1800
Miami, Florida 33132
Phone: 305-925-9400
Fax: 305-925-9455

Israeli Embassy in San Francisco, United States
Consulate General of Israel in San Francisco, United States of America
456 montgomery street,
suite 2100,
San Francisco, 94104
Phone: 415 - 844-7500
Fax: 415-844-7555

Israeli Embassy in Chicago, United States
Consulate General of Israel in Chicago, United States of America
111 E. Wacker Dr., Suite 1308
Chicago, IL 60601
Phone: 312-297-4800
Fax: 312-297-4855

Israeli Embassy in Houston, United States
Consulate General of Israel in Houston, United States of America
24 Greenway Plaza,
Suite 1500 Houston,
Texas 77046
Phone: (713) 627-3780
Fax: (713) 627-0149

Israeli Embassy in Los Angeles, United States
Consulate General of Israel in Los Angeles, United States of America
6380 Wilshire blvd.
Los Angeles CA, 90048
Phone: (323)852-5500
Fax: (323)852-5555

Israeli Embassy in Washington DC, United States
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Drive, NW,
Washington DC 20008
Phone: (202) 364-5500
Tel: (Visas and customs) (202) 364-5527 E-Mail:

Israeli Embassy in Atlanta, United States
Consulate General of Israel in Atlanta, United States of America
1100 Spring St., N.W. Suite 440
Atlanta, GA 30309-2823
Phone: (404) 487-6500
Fax: (404) 487-6555

Israeli Embassy in Boston, United States
Consulate General of Israel in Boston, United States of America
20 Park Plaza, Suite 1020
Boston, MA 02116
Phone: (617) 535-0200
Fax: (617) 535-0255

Israeli Embassy in Madrid, Spain (Madrid)
Embassy of Israel in Madrid, Spain
Velázquez 150, 7º
28002 Madrid
Phone: (91) 411 13 57

Israeli Embassy in London, United Kingdom
Embassy of Israel in London, Great Britain
2 Palace Green
W8 4QB
Phone: 020 - 7957 9500