Civil Rights Group Backed by Telecom Industry Seeks to Block Net Neutrality, Instantly Contradicts Itself
The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council, an organization that says its purpose is to advance “equal opportunity and civil rights” in the media, has faced criticism in the past that the organization acts as little more than a corporate front group.
Two positions taken recently by MMTC suggest that such criticism is accurate: The positions contradict one another, but both reflect the desires of MMTC’s funders.
In August, MMTC joined an industry-led lawsuit against net neutrality, filing a brief in support of the U.S. Telecom Association’s lawsuit to overturn net neutrality. The MMTC brief claims that net neutrality will deepen the digital divide, causing millions of disadvantaged communities to continue to lack Internet service because purported lower-cost solutions that violate open Internet principles will be blocked.
But just months ago, MMTC lobbied for a radio industry-backed rule that rests on the assumption that Americans already enjoy equal access to the Internet. In an April 13 letter to the Federal Communications Commission, MMTC supported a petition by radio station companies that would allow broadcasters to move sponsorship information from on-air announcements to an Internet database.
How can MMTC claim that citizens can simply go online for radio sponsorship information in one breath, then claim it is fighting net neutrality on behalf of millions of Americans without Internet access in another? I asked MMTC for comment, but have not heard back.
It’s not the first time MMTC has offered seemingly contradictory policy proposals.
MMTC leader David Honig has said on multiple occasions that one of his primary goals is to combat “threats to minority ownership” in the media industry.
However, in 2013, MMTC explicitly asked the FCC to disregard women and minority media ownership as the agency debated loosening a rule regarding restrictions on media consolidation, claiming in a study that minority ownership concerns should not be a “material justification for tightening or retaining the rules.” The media ownership rule, originally created in the 1970s in part because television stations in the South censored coverage of the civil rights movement, prevents a single company from owning a newspaper and a television or radio station in a single major media market.
As MMTC asked the FCC to disregard minority concerns, the group received significant funding from CBS, Clear Channel Communications (now known as iHeartRadio), News Corporation and the National Association of Broadcasters, all companies and organizations that had lobbied to repeal the media ownership rule, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.
Similarly, the chair of MMTC, Julia Johnson, has long claimed to be a tireless advocate for helping minority communities gain access to telecommunications services. But in 2006, she testified against a bill that would require telephone companies to “build out” services to poor and minority neighborhoods. Under questioning by then-Congressman Ed Markey, D-Mass., Johnson eventually admitted that telephone companies were paying her.
MMTC has gone to bat for other major media companies, arguing in 2011 that minority communities would benefit from the Comcast-NBC Universal merger. After urging support for the deal, MMTC received at least $350,000 from Comcast.
Notably, the lead plaintiffs in the MMTC-backed lawsuit to overturn net neutrality, including the National Cable and Telecom Association and AT&T, have helped bankroll MMTC, according to recent tax filings and MMTC event sponsorship information.
I have a prediction: Charles and David Koch will soon announce they’re backing Bernie Sanders for president.
Here’s my logic, which is irrefutable:
We know the Koch brothers, and the organizations they fund, hate corporate welfare more than anything. They hate it!
The top priority of Freedom Partners, which oversees the Koch network of donors, is “tackling ‘rent-seeking,’ ‘corporate welfare,’ and other forms of cronyism.”
Charles Koch himself just told Politico’s Mike Allen that “We have to show that this corporate welfare and cronyism is unjust.” Sure, said Koch, it makes their friends unhappy, but “so what? You’ve got to do the right thing.” So as Allen wrote, “Rolling back corporate welfare is one of the top issues Koch is pursuing.”
Similarly, when Koch spoke recently to 450 of his fellow big donors at a recent Koch event in California, he demanded that “they have to start opposing, rather than promoting, corporate welfare.” In the Wall Street Journal, Koch wrote that “I have spent decades opposing cronyism and all political favors, including mandates, subsidies and protective tariffs.”
Cynics might suspect that the Kochs are talking up this part of their stated agenda because it’s one of the few things on it that’s genuinely popular with Americans — unlike most of their other treasured goals, like gutting Social Security and Medicare and radically slashing taxes on billionaires like themselves.
I, however, choose to believe.
And if you hate corporate welfare like I believe the Koch brothers do, it’s obvious that Bernie’s your candidate. He’s been railing against it for decades, and way back in 2002 estimated that it’s costing us $125 billion per year. Corporations “line up for billions in corporate welfare from the federal government,” Bernie says, because of a “greed culture.” And he specifically hates the Export-Import Bank, just like the Kochs.
By contrast, take a look at the presidential candidates whom the Kochs invited to audition for them a few weeks ago, like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker. They LOVE corporate welfare. Scott Walker just committed $400 million in taxpayer money to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Bush and a business partner got a bailout worth over $4 million in 1990 during the Savings & Loan Crisis, and Bush has said the 2008 Wall Street bailout was “probably the right thing to do.” Rubio defends his support for subsidies for sugar farmers in Florida because they somehow protect our national security.
Sure, there are some issues on which Bernie and the Koch brothers disagree. But Bernie’s also the best fit with their purported beliefs about ending the war on drugs, gay marriage, and a less militaristic foreign policy. And the Kochs obviously disagree with all the GOP candidates on tons of things too.
The alternative to taking the Koch brothers at their word is to conclude that all the stuff they say that progressives love is just a scam — that when it’s time to get out their checkbooks to put people in office, the only thing they actually care about is whether those politicians will make them richer. (This is what free market economists call “revealed preference.”)
But I do take the Koch brothers at their word, so I look forward to seeing them sitting proudly in the front row when Bernie Sanders takes the presidential oath of office on January 20, 2017. Unless they decide to go with Jill Stein.
The post Why the Koch Brothers Will Pour All Their Money Into Making Bernie Sanders President appeared first on The Intercept.
Press Release Conference on „NATO and Russia in the Baltic Sea Area“ Hotel Arthur, Helsinki, 4-6- September 2015
Conference on „NATO and Russia in the Baltic Sea Area“
Hotel Arthur, Helsinki, 4-6- September 2015
A new confrontation is arising: an increase of military spending, failure of progress in the abolition of nuclear weapons, saber-rattling via military exercises are its expressions. NATO’s expansions to the East, Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and the war in East Ukraine have led to a much tenser situation in the Baltic Sea where Russia and NATO states border. Military activities in the region have escalated. Poland and the three Baltic states have been alarmed at the perceived threat from Russia and have been clamoring for a stronger NATO presence in the region. With new partnership agreements between NATO and Sweden as well as Finland these former neutral countries become increasingly a part of this rising conflict.
The conference “NATO and Russia in the Baltic Sea Area” wants to analyze the rise of this new confrontation, the expansion of NATO and the conflict in Ukraine and wants to highlight and discuss alternatives to militarization and the building of a new cold war area, namely forms of cooperation and neutralism as well as non-violent bottom-up processes for peace and understanding.
The conference is organized by the international network No to War – No to NATO together with Committee of 100 in Finland, Finnish Peace Committee, Finnish Psychologists for Social Responsibility, Artists for Peace (PAND), Peace Education Institute, Peace Union of Finland, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Svenska Kvinnors Vänsterförbund/ Swedish Women of the Left, WILPF Finland, Women for Peace, Finland, Women for Peace, Sweden, and the support of the European Left.
Speakers include among others: Maj Britt Theorin (Sweden), Sven Hirdman (former Swedish Ambassador in Moskva), Kimmo Kiljunen (Special Representative for Mediation of Foreign Minister of Finland), Ingeborg Breines (Norway, International Peace Bureau), Tarja Cronberg (Finnish Peace Union, Middle Power Initiative, former MEP), Urve Randmaa (Estonia), Nikita Lomagin (Russia, Baltic Center of International Studies) Sergei Kirichuk (Ukraine, Borotba) and Nina Potarskaya (Ukraine, Center for Social and Labor Research)
For more information please see: www.no-to-nato.org
Please find the program attached or here: http://no-to-nato.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/NATO-and-Russia-in-the-Baltic-Sea-Area.pdf.
Lucas Wirl (Co-Chair ICC No to War – No to NATO, Germany: firstname.lastname@example.org, 0049 176 64103500)