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Today's Stories

October 26, 2010

Pam Martens
The Far Right's Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive

October 25, 2010

Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Body Parts and Bio-Piracy: Tissue, Skin and Organ Harvesting at Israel's National Forensic Institute

Patrick Cockburn
Echoes of El Salvador in US-Approved Death Squads

Kathy Kelly
"You're Not Alone"

Mike Whitney
Bernanke's Dilemma

Bill Quigley
The Class War at Home

Winslow T. Wheeler
How Many More Trillions for the Pentagon?

David Macaray
Sick Leave as National Policy

Stewart J. Lawrence
Latina "Mama Grizzly" Stalks Her Den

Ray McGovern
Honoring Julian Assange

Missy Beattie
Ginni and Clarence: Just Us at Home

Website of the Day
Please Vote for Washington Stakeout Today!

 

October 22 - 24, 2010

Alexander Cockburn
Your Money, Our Life

Lee Ballinger
After the Coal Rush: Music v. King Coal

Franklin C. Spinney
Memo to Obama: Three Strikes and You're Out

Rannie Amiri
Palestine's Olive Harvest Horror

Ralph Nader
Ten Questions for Tea Partiers

Laura Carlsen
Ecuador's Failed Coup: the Latin American Backlash

Avi Shlaim
Dishonest Broker: the US, Israel and Palestine

Mike Whitney
Thank God for France

Josh Stieber
An Iraq Surge Vet on Wikileaks

Kathy Kelly
"War Does This to Your Mind"

Sasan Fayazmanesh
The Left and Iranian Exiles

Conn Hallinan
Rising Tensions in the China Seas

Linn Washington, Jr.
The Ignored Dark-Sides of Joblessness

Christopher Brauchli
The Arms Sale Economy

Mark Weisbrot
Why French Protestors Have It Right

Stan Cox
"Nuke Them!" When Juan Williams Said Something Worse

Ramzy Baroud
The Violence Debate

Dave Lindorff
Arise, Ye Homeowners of America, You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Mortgages!

Benjamin Dangl
Ecuador's Challenge

Peter Stone Brown
Bob Dylan and America

Julie Hilden
High School Rumors and the First Amendment

David Ker Thomson
Bunker U

Missy Beattie
Owning the Shares of Shame

Suzy Dean
Ignoring the Social Benefits of Drinking

Charles M. Young
Crackpot Curriculum

M. Shahid Alam
A Dialectical Approach to the Qu'ran

Charles R. Larson
How to Destroy Your Marriage

David Yearsley
Learning and Lust in Berlin's New Library

Poets' Basement
José M. Tirado

Website of the Weekend
Help Bring Yoga into Prisons

October 21, 2010

Diana Johnstone
French Fury in the EU Cage

Joanne Mariner
A Glimpse into the Silicon Heart of the CIA's Drone Program

Mike Whitney
Bernanke's Biggest Problem: China as Collateral Damage

Lawrence Davidson
Invisible Israel?

Bill Quigley /
Laura Raymond
Artist Resistance in Honduras

Alan Farago
The Next Idiot Might Be You

David Smith-Ferri
Building Bamiyan Peace Park

Tolu Olorunda Educational Heroes and Myths

Website of the Day
Don't Just Deplore Bullying--Fight It!

October 20, 2010

Philippe Marlière
France Erupts: Sarkozy Under Siege

Tariq Ali
Red Hot France; Tepid Britain

Anthony Pahnke / Mark N. Hoffman
Digging Deeper: the San Jose Mine Disaster in Context

David Smith-Ferri
Bamiyan (Afghanistan) Diaries: Day One

Patrick Madden
QE2 and Foreclosures: Bank of America's Wager

Ishmael Reed
Professor Joe, Oakland's Next Mayor?

Dean Baker
Mortgage Mayhem

Mike Roselle
I'm Not Going Down Without a Fight

Dave Marsh
The Great General Johnson

Pete Redington
Dork is the New Cool

Website of the Day
The Poster Boy of Foreclosures

October 19, 2010

Pam Martens
The Koch Empire and Americans for Prosperity

Uri Avnery
The State of Bla-Bla- Bla

Ralph Nader
The Media and the Far Right

Clarence Lusane
From the White House to Obama's House: Race and Political Transition

Sherwood Ross
Union-Busting in Iraq

Trudy Bond
The Despot of Oklahoma: Mr. Coburn Goes to Haiti

Sherry Wolf
Our Not-So-Great Depression

Yves Engler
Why the UN Rejected Canada's Bid for the Security Council

Camilla Fox /
Chris Genovali
Killing Carnivores for Cash

Erin McManus
Hanoi Jane: War, Sex and Fantasies of Betrayal

Website of Day
Solar Done Right

October 18, 2010

Mike Whitney
How to Kickstart the Economy

Jonathan Cook
Settler Takeover of Israeli Police

Martha Rosenberg
The Return of Mad Cow Disease?

Stewart J. Lawrence
Does Jerry Brown's Campaign Have a Death Wish?

P. Sainath
The Narcissism of the Neurotic

James Zogby
Texas Takes a Dangerous Step Backwards

Ken Cole, Ralph Maughan / Brian Ertz
Governmental Disdain for Wolves

Patrick Brennan
Matt Taibbi's Epiphany: Dumping on the Tea Party

Jack Heyman
Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops!

John Grant
Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Think

Website of the Day
Eating in Public

October 15 - 17, 2010

Alexander Cockburn
Daughters of the Gipper

Slavoj �i�ek
What is the Left to Do?

Paul Craig Roberts
The War on Terror: What's It All About?

Adrienne Pine /
David Vivar

Saving Honduras?

Peter Lee
The Detention of Xie Chaoping

Jonathan Cook
My Loyalty Oath

Bitta Mostofi
Admiring Ahmadinejad and Overlooking Activists

Franklin Lamb
On the Road with Ahmadinejad in Lebanon

Rannie Amiri
A Small Shove Back

Robert Alvarez
Nuclear Testing and the Rise of Thyroid Cancers

Joe Paff
Beyond Brown v. Whitman: the Late Great State of California

David Rosen
Sexy Sisters: the New Republican Women

David Correia
Greenwashing the Wal-Mart Way

Sam Hitchmough
Competing Americas: the Rise of the Tea Party

Ramzy Baroud
The Tide Has Changed

Dave Lindorff
Don't Act, Don't Lead: Obama Stiffs Gays in the Military Again

Graham Usher
Waiting on America

Gary Leupp
The Non-Jewish Immigration Loyalty Oath

David Macaray
In the Trenches of Union Politics

Ron Jacobs
Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun" and Obama's iPod

Peter Cervantes-Gautschi
Wall Street and the Criminalization of Immigrants

Lawrence Swaim
How Neo-Cons Became Honorary Christians

Linn Washington
Corporate Charter Schools Get the Cash

David Ker Thomson
Under Democracy

Norman Solomon
Progressive Canaries

Michael Dawson
Electric Evasions: the Green Car Con

John Stanton
Defense Contractors From Hell

Jayne Lyn Stahl
Leaving Las Vegas

Paul Buchheit
Stop the HURT

Ziad Abbas
Palestine: Without Water, There is No Life

Anthony Papa
Life for an $11 Robbery

Hardy Jones
New Threats to Dolphins: Toxins and Viruses

Missy Beattie
The Bedbug War: Nearly Helpless

Charles R. Larson
Fighting to End Africa's Worst Human Rights Crimes

Peter Stone Brown
Music Under the Radar

David Yearsley
Apollo's Fire

Poets' Basement
Moser & Rihn

Website of the Weekend
On This Earth

October 14, 2010

Mike Whitney
Bernanke Ponders the "Nuclear" Option

Jonathan Cook
The Transfer Scenario

Dean Baker
Globalizing Health Care

Marjorie Cohn
Israeli Raid on Gaza Flotilla: US Fails to Condemn, Despite UN Finding

Stewart J. Lawrence
Sex and the Orgasm Gap: Are Men Still Dominating Women in Bed?

Carl Finamore
San Francisco's Hotel Frank(enstein): a Horror Show for Employees

Dave Lindorff
9 Million Stolen Homes: Getting Tough on Banker Crime

Raúl Zibechi
Brazil's Elections: the Continuation of Lulismo

Willie L. Pelote
Shock Therapy for California?

Website of the Day
Can Mushrooms Rescue the Gulf?

October 13, 2010

Vijay Prashad
The Waning of Obama

Uri Avnery
His Father's Son: the Real Bibi

Dean Baker
The Counterfeit Recovery

Winslow T. Wheeler
Where is the Payoff for Huge Pentagon Budget Hikes?

Patrick Bond
"To Exist is to Resist:" From Apartheid South Africa to Palestine

Michael Winship
Cash You Can Believe In

Myles B. Hoenig
Are We Expendable? An Education Manifesto From the Trenches

Tom Turnipseed
Money Talks (and Swears)

Website of the Day
The Return of Ben Tripp, as Zombie Novelist

October 12, 2010

Ralph Nader
Tricks and Traps in the Fine Print

Franklin C. Spinney
Techno War: Money Talks, Counter-measures Walk

Mike Whitney
The Future is Ugly

Robert Alvarez
The Tritium Deficit

Deepak Tripathi
India's High Stakes Foreign Policy

Chris Genovali / Camilla Fox
Death Cults Among Us: the War on Wolves

Harvey Wasserman
Calvert Cliffs on the Brink

Robert Jensen
Soils and Souls: the Promise of the Land

Mark Weisbrot
How to Change the IMF

Charles R. Larson
America's Religious Veneer

Website of the Day
How You Can Help Fund Radical Grassroots Green Groups (and Double Your Money)

 

October 11, 2010

Michael Hudson
Why the U.S. Has Launched a New Financial World World War

Bill Quigley
A Million Haitians Slowly Dying

Linn Washington
American Justice on Trial

Paul Krassner
Eat, Pray, Be Disappointed: an Open Letter to Obama

Jonathan Cook
Israel's Other "Peace" Plan

Cal Winslow
Big Money, the Big Lie and Fear

Sherry Wolf
Why are Liberals Building the Right?

Peter Stone Brown
Brother Solomon Burke

David Michael Green
How Do You Take Your Tea?

Jayne Lyn Stahl
Disclose This

Website of the Day
"Seize the Jail! Tear It Down!!"

October 8 - 10, 2010

Alexander Cockburn
The Soros Syndrome

Paul Craig Roberts
America's Third World Economy

Alain Gresh
What Does a "One State Solution" Really Mean?

Patrick Cockburn
Is Pakistan Falling Apart?

Rannie Amiri
An Evaporating Palestine

Conn Hallinan
Ecuador: Coup or Riot?

Ramzy Baroud
Dying to Win

Saul Landau
Harboring Terrorists

Sam Smith
What's Missing in the Talk About Education Reform

Yvonne Ridley
On the Road to Damascus, Thinking of Monty Python

Ellen Brown
Foreclosuregate: a Massive Fraud

Santwana Dasgupta
A View From the Top of the World

David Macaray Labor Secretaries: Frances and Elaine

Gerald E. Scorse
Tax System Favors Wealth Over Work

Tony Newman
The Perils of Prohibition

David Ker Thomson
Soundtrack for a Beating

Christopher Brauchli
Authentic Dishonesty: Newt and Dinesh Save America!

Jon Mitchell
Oliver North, Ospreys and Agent Orange

Kevin Zeese
The Longest War

Steven Best
Rethinking Revolution

Missy Beattie
Invasion of the Blood-Sucking Bedbugs

Binoy Kampmark
England's Football Inc.

Charles R. Larson
Egypt's Camus?

Kim Nicolini
"Social Network:" Narcissism and Claustrophobia Among the Techno-Elites

Dave Marsh
"American Idiot:" Finally, a Musical That Rocks

David Yearsley
The Dark Side of Musical Enlightenment

Poets' Basement
Three by Peter Branson

Website of the Weekend
Help the Great Michael Fracasso Revolutionize the Music Industry

 

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October 26, 2010

Koch Footprints Lead to Political Powder Keg

The Far Right's Secret Slush Fund to Keep Fear Alive

By PAM MARTENS

A secretive libertarian nonprofit with ties to Charles Koch bankrolled what was widely perceived to be a fear mongering effort to throw the Presidential election to Senator John McCain in 2008. Until now, where the money came from has been a hotly debated mystery.

Seven weeks before the Presidential election of 2008, approximately 100 newspapers and magazines in the U.S., including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, and St. Petersburg Times, distributed millions of DVDs of the documentary, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.”  The DVDs were included in the Sunday editions.  Altogether, including a separate direct mail campaign, 28 million DVDs flooded households in the swing voter states.

The newspapers did not know who was funding this massive propaganda campaign and, apparently, did not care.  They inserted the DVD in their Pulitzer properties with the casualness of throwing in a sample of suds free detergent.  The nonprofit organization named on the packaging of the DVD as the entity behind the film, the Clarion Fund, Inc., had no known history of operations and had a virtual office address in New York City with no physical presence and no employees on site. Documents submitted to the IRS to obtain its tax-exempt status show the Clarion Fund demanded total secrecy from its vendors:

“At all times, whether during or after the provision of services to Clarion, Service Provider shall keep in confidence and shall not disclose or use, for his or another’s benefit, any nonpublic knowledge, data, material, document or other information of any type that is related to Clarion, or its subsidiaries, directors, members, managers, agents, employees or other affiliates or that Service Provider otherwise acquires in the course of providing services (collectively, the ‘Confidential Information.’).”

The DVD packaging was slick, leveraging the imprimatur of the big league media outlets by listing 73 as part of its distribution network.  The cover carried a red banner blaring: “As seen on CNN and FOX News by more than 20 million viewers worldwide.”  The title of the film was graphically enhanced with the “O” in “Obsession” sporting the Islamic crescent moon and star and the “N” represented by an upended fearsome automatic weapon.  The movie content was slick as well.  The first half is endless scenes of suicide bombers and human carnage; the second half of the film intersperses clips of Hitler, Hitler Youth, or Hitler analogies intermittently with Muslim crowds and young children with fists in the air calling for death to westerners.  Once at the beginning and again at the end, the film reminds us that not all Muslims ostensibly want to kill us; in the middle of the film it quantifies the number that do (without any support to back up this hunch): a cool 100 to 150 million, i.e., 10 to 15 per cent of 1 billion Muslims.

In one particular respect, it resembles a government-made war propaganda film: it is silent on the hundreds of thousands of civilian Muslims, including women and children, killed by U.S. bombs and ground war.

One possible tie to government interests is Erik Werth.  Mr. Werth served under Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin in the Clinton White House where he worked on a Top Secret review of White House Security. He was also a segment producer at NBC’s Dateline.  In documents submitted to the IRS to gain tax exempt status for the Clarion Fund, Mr. Werth’s email address is listed.  Mr. Werth is named as the Co-Director and Co-Producer of the Clarion Fund’s subsequent documentary, “The Third Jihad.”  The Fund’s web site, RadicalIslam.org advises that yet a third film is on the way, “Iraniam,” concerning Iran and nuclear weapons.

The reaction to corporate media peddling this propaganda in the final days of a Presidential race where one candidate was already being smeared for Muslim ties was immediate and harsh.  A writer at Democratic Underground using the moniker MrMickeysMom grabbed the keyboard to vent a spontaneous reaction:  “Okay – Who ELSE just picked through the Sunday advertisements and viewed this DVD today?...They’re here to warn us about the declaration of war on Western Culture and to bring down Christianity and Judaism – just in time for the election.  So, this is the heat, folks.  This blitz DVD is one more step – the biggest, boldest step I can see to orchestrate fear, hatred and to change your vote…It told me that the White House will be changed and become the Muslim House…that America has to wake up and that America is strangling itself with ‘our political correctness.’ ”

Margaret Lewis of Durham, North Carolina fired off a letter to The News & Observer of Durham, North Carolina: "I cannot believe that I was sent the hate-inflaming, fear-mongering video disk ‘Obsession’ in my newspaper! What will you enclose next? KKK robes?"

Hal Chase of Hudson wrote to the St. Petersburg Times: “My wife and I were shocked to see the CD entitled Obsession tucked innocently among the ads in our Sunday paper.  This hate-filled propaganda is just part of the right-wing extremists’ fear and smear tactics.  Their hope is to make Americans afraid of anyone who is not exactly like them, and thereby affect the outcome of November’s election.”

Approximately 60 newspapers refused to accept the DVD for distribution, including the Detroit Free Press, the Plain Dealer of Cleveland, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and The News & Record of Greensboro, North Carolina.

At the time, John Robinson, Editor of The News & Record, said the paper declined to distribute the DVD because “…it was divisive and plays on people’s fears…As I’ve said on other occasions about news decisions,  just because you can publish doesn’t mean you should.”

CounterPunch can now report what this race-baiting, fear-mongering campaign cost and where the money, at least nominally, came from.  The 28 million DVDs were produced at a cost of $15,676,181 by Artist Direct Media which does mass manufacturing of CDs and DVDs with volume discounts.  The big media buy for Sunday newspaper insertions ran up the tidy tab of $719,436 and was conducted by NSA Media, a unit of the global ad giant, Interpublic Group, parent of McCann-Erikson. That figure seems decidedly on the light side so there may be other funding sources involved that have not yet surfaced. (NSA Media is a powerful ad buyer, representing some of the biggest print buyers and consumer brands in the country, which might help explain why so few questions were asked by the largest newspapers about this unseemly project.) The full tab, and then some, was paid by the super secretive libertarian nonprofit, Donors Capital Fund.  In 2008, Clarion Fund became Donors Capital Fund’s largest grantee by a large margin, receiving $17,778,600.  That sum constituted 96 per cent of all funds received by Clarion in 2008 and 9 times its revenue in 2007. 

Donor’s Capital Fund is a “supporting organization” to Donors Trust, a sister nonprofit.  Both promise the pursuit of taking over social welfare needs with private funds rather than government solutions; they want small government.  (With 43 million Americans now living below the poverty level, it’s fascinating to know that these folks earmarked $17 million not to hunger relief but to DVD packaging.  Let them eat plastic, perhaps.)

There are shades of Charles Koch all over Donors Capital and Donors Trust.  Two grantees receiving repeat and sizeable grants from Donors Capital are favorites of the Koch foundations: George Mason University Foundation and Institute for Humane Studies.  Another tie is Claire Kittle.  A project of Donor’s Trust is Talent Market.org, a headhunter for staffing nonprofits with the “right” people.  Ms. Kittle serves as Talent Market’s Executive Director and was the former Program Officer for Leadership and Talent Development at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.  Then there is Whitney Ball, President of both Donors Capital Fund and Donors Trust.  Ms. Ball was one of the elite guests at the invitation-only secret Aspen bash thrown by Charles Koch in June of this year, as reported by ThinkProgress.org.  Also on the guest list for the Koch bash was Stephen Moore, a member of the Editorial Board at the Wall Street Journal.  Mr. Moore is a Director at Donors Capital Fund.  Rounding out the ties that bind is Lauren Vander Heyden, who serves as Client Services Coordinator at Donors Trust.  Ms. Vander Heyden previously worked as grants coordinator and policy analyst at the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation.

Legal counsel for the Kochs has declined to respond to two emails with a week’s lead time  seeking clarification of the relationship the Kochs have to Donors Capital and Donors Trust. 

What remains unclear is the underlying donor within Donors Capital who made the large sum possible.  Was it a joint effort by wealthy donors to boost Senator McCain’s presidential aspirations?  Was it a single Islamophobe?  While the DVDs were hitting the front lawns bundled in newspapers, the Clarion Fund posted an endorsement for McCain as President on its web site, a legal breach for a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit.  When it was outed by the media, it quickly removed the endorsement.  What is certain is that the donor(s) had every reason to believe they would never be discovered. The organization advises contributors on its web site: “Unlike with private foundations, gifts from your account will remain as anonymous as you request.”   

Prior to this sophisticated and expensive media campaign in the final approach to election day, “Obsession” was part of the 2007 college road show headed by the lefty turned radical right, David Horowitz (who dramatically improved his tax bracket by discovering the greatest threat to America’s future was radical Islam, just before the rest of the country discovered the greatest threat to America’s future was home grown terrorists with algorithms and high speed computers on Wall Street trading floors.  While Mr. Horowitz had a fourth of the country gazing at variations of Hitler’s mustache, the underpinnings of America’s financial infrastructure were imploding right under our noses.)  Mr. Horowitz joins the swelling ranks of pundits and academicians earning a fat living from tax subsidized nonprofits while railing against government welfare.  His pay at his nonprofit, Freedom Center, was a sweet $480,162 in 2008, the most recent tax filing available on line. Total   salaries and benefits at the Center represented 40 per cent of revenues in 2008.

Throughout the fall of 2007, and continuing into 2008, Mr. Horowitz promoted his “Islamo-Fascism Awareness” program to more than 100 college campuses, with the film “Obsession” made available for viewing.  His Freedom Center established a program and web site called Terrorism Awareness Project, which linked with conservative student groups on campus.

Was there a nexus between Mr. Horowitz’s drive to promote the film and it being later bankrolled by a super wealthy libertarian nonprofit?  What we do know for sure is that the far right has assembled a $6 billion interlinked machine of think-tanks, lobbyists, PACs, astroturf front groups, media sycophants, endowed professorships, state-based political fronts and now even their own centralized headhunter; all to throw us off the scent that the real threat to the poor and middle class in America is corporate domination.

Pam Martens worked on Wall Street for 21 years; she has no security position, long or short, in any company mentioned in this article.  She writes on public interest issues from New Hampshire.  She can be reached at pamk741@aol.com

 


CounterPunch Print Edition Exclusive!

CLASS WAR IN THE U.K. AND FRANCE

Susan Watkins, editor of New Left Review, reports on Britain’s Tri-partisan Electoral Monolith and how the Slash-and-Burn Tory Coalition is picking up from where New Labour left off. Larry Portis reports from France on the mass protests and the shrivelling of Sarkozy.  Peter Lee gives us an rivetting piece on the awful tragedy of China’s Yellow River.
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The Occupation
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