Why Putting An End To Fake News Is Good for Democracy

Why Putting An End To Fake News Is Good for Democracy

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A trustworthy press is the immune system of democracy – something I've been saying for years.

As citizens we can only make informed decisions when we have news we can trust. Independent investigative reporting is essential to shooting down false claims and exposing bad actors. ProPublica is a leader in that kind of journalism, and we need more of it.

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I’ve been supporting and talking about the need for trustworthy journalism for some time now, and in an effort to fight for its survival, the Craig Newmark Foundation is giving $1M to ProPublica to deploy resources and address opportunities, including adding staff, where they are most needed over a wide range of issues in the public interest.

As ProPublica President Richard Tofel says,

"At this critical moment for America, probing and fearless accountability journalism is more important than ever. This grant will allow ProPublica to extend our ability to dig into the actions of government, business and other institutions – and hold those in power to account."

The thing is, as of lately, there’s an unfortunate new normal in journalism. It’s a media environment where gossip, lies, and deception have the business advantage, and where lots of traditional news organizations are on the ropes. It's time to redouble our efforts to support the good guys.

As a news consumer, I won’t pay for news I can’t trust. But when it comes to news I can trust, I’m putting my money where my mouth is.

 

Photo Credit: (Mick Baker)rooster

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2 Comments

Michael

I don't have a problem with your pro publica but will there be actual photos or videos with audio and paper documentation there's too many papers out there that do not have all the facts and figures so how is propublica any different when you show me as I said audio/video documentation actual live real time then maybe I'll consider until then you have to prove what you plan on doing is real and not to become compromise anybody any form of government or anybody of a lot of money to pay somebody off I think you get the rest of the story

Chris.

Craig,

What can people do who have "real news" that for one reason or another the media wont cover?

The failure of the media to cover certain important but inconvenient information is causing problems which I think are more dangerous than those caused by "fake news".

Let me give an example. This is an all-important example, unfortunately.

In late 1994 after several years of negotiations – which were largely unknown to the US general public, the US signed on to the WTO which included an agreement called G.A.T.S., the General Agreement on Trade in Services.

That agreement is nothing less than a defacto "agreement to privatize everything" whose scope is extremely broad, and it made changes which are far reaching in their implications for policy. However, the country has never been told this, so we lack the important missing piece of information which would give context to much of what both parties do. Instead we're treated to a cover up of the real reasons and everything is instead explained with something else, often a lie.

This is getting worse and worse quickly. What are they covering up? The effects of this truly horrid GATS policy. The agreement we signed onto is so far reaching that at this point the problems its creating lie behind a significant portion of the problems which people bring up again and again which need fixing, however the deal and its hidden ideology which is repugnant to most of us, hamstrings politicians from fixing them effectively.

Clearly, the deception cant and wont continue forecver so they also are going to great lengths to lock these changes in as quickly as possible, which- as they are treaties, (there is a newer one pending) the policy changes they make – are made in all practical terms irreversible by either signing agreements or in other ways, by deeds, giving foreign firms or countries entitlements of various kinds, often silently triggered by some change that being totally unknown and buried in arcane rules, likely goes completely unnoticed in the media.

They lock in any opening to market access by firms in other countries. Market access to services could have far reaching effects on jobs, causing large scale job losses in some areas. (Cross border data flows are expected to cause large job losses as well, in the near future, in white collar settings)

For the sake of brevity, I will just focus on providing links – not explaining – I expect people to follow and skim the links- On a few issues, healthcare insurance / financial services mostly will be left out, with just a few high value links. I ask that people look into, starting with the links here- the more general problem of its Article I:3(c) which limits "public" services to only those which are. "supplied neither on a commercial basis, nor in competition with one or more service suppliers", which has implications for multiple areas because when the protection from the agreement does not exist governments have to behave in such a way that their actions do not reduce corporate profits, ever. Even when such intervention is really needed it becomes more and more difficult and restrictive by design,. (This will get much worse if either so called "competition policy" is embraced further by the WTO in services, such as in the proposed "TFS" trade facilitation agreement on services) or if the TISA, with its embrace of rules against State Owned Enterprises- put forward by the US and also in TPP and its likely procurement rules are also in TTIP.. so there are attacks on multiple fronts in the near future) Things which people take for granted, such as an assumption that some solution might exist, no longer can be assumed to exist if it conflicts with maximal monetization of a service sector. Additionally the sole exemption pointed to as excluding public services can be shown to never apply to what most people think of as key public services, in the US. That is discussed in several of my links, also carving out policy space, in the European context (protecting it from the aggressive US style "top down" or "negative list" FTAs!) was discussed at this event last year:.

http://www.epsu.org/article/new-study-model-clauses-exclusion-public-services-trade-and-investment-agreements

CREATION OF ANY NEW HUMAN RIGHTS TO ESSENTIAL SERVICES REQUIRES A PUBLIC DISCUSSION TO START ON CREATION OF CARVE OUTS, IMMEDIATELY – URGENTLY.

The rule, Article I:3(b) and (c) results in virtually no services being considered to be public and therefore rules apply which force those services to not compete in any effective way with the commercial providers of them unless carved out in advance. To eliminate any ambiguity, also unlike in Europe, from the very beginning in the US health insurance and hospital services have expressly been included. (however as far as I know, no foreign insurers have entered our market yet, although they have experessed a desire to, requesting that they be able to sell a single policy for the entire country)

What this seems to me to mean is that an expressed goal in healthcare may be to create an even more tiered system than we have today with the bottom tiers being provided overseas (search term "patient mobility") or by some international trade related mechanism here, (lower wage workers here as guest workers with attenuated rights and wages, search term "labour mobility")

Once a service sector becomes internationally traded jurisdiction shifts to the WTO (or other trade body such as RGFS) and an entirely new and different set of priorities takes precedence, ones which require that no government measure be any more trade restrictive than possible. So all rules of any kind must descend to their lowest common denominator or be liable to being challenged as trade barriers. Similar constraints apply for education, Social Security, financial services, and all this has been hidden by both parties.

This is creating a really unhealthy political situation. Also, the lack of transparency, when it comes to the public (the term transparency in a trade context seems to only apply to corporations, the public has no standing) makes this so called "agreement" illegitimate, however that wont stop them and the threat of suits under them from being used to create a chilling effect on legislation in the public interest, which could otherwise be used to solve problems. (the core function of democracy is to provide a means by which governments were able to adjust to changing conditions, however these agreements are removing their ability to adjust – silently, )

Instead we're being kept in limbo.

Could I please leave some links here and ask that my readers here please try to read them and then ask yourselves, is this allowable under your definition of good governance or is this some kind of global coup?

I think its a coup and also perhaps the cause of a great many of our current problems.
It can be shown that it was the cause of the repeal of the GlassSteagall Act (shown in link below) a change which led to the taxpayer being held liable in the 2008 crash, a cost of over a trillion dollars for the US taxpayers.

The 1995 G. agreement – Also, its arguably caused almost 20 years of health care dysfunction, as the Doha negotiations on the job trading component of the G repeatedly fell apart.
(India is also challenging the use of quotas in the WTO, under the pre-Doha Uruguay Round)

I think the G. agreement – when combined with its pending successor, the Trade in Services Agreement, together likely explain a great deal of bad current policy.

They also potentially function as a means of ending public education in a manner which will channel vanishing jobs to the children of the wealthy rich enough to pursue advanced educations in a non-obvious manner. Then they create another barrier to entry into the employment market by establishing a new costly screen, years of low paid labor, as well as further a huge global wage lowering agenda by setting up a loophole which companies can use to totally bypass wage laws – by using a loophole in immigration laws which allows businesses to temporarily move employees around the globe to work. I think the lure of huge increases in profit due to expansion of this kind of bonded labor is the motivating factor in the push to keep these deals secret.

(These deals are also clearly criminogenic as they cause politicians to lie to conceal the fact that the deals take a great deal of important "policypace" out of the realm of things that can be voted on.)

We've seen this here in the US on health care over the last 20 years, (a situation which has caused a lot of lying.) Now the lying has expanded into other service-related areas in a way which is nonobvious, unless you understand these deals and their goals and especially, ideology.

Especially education and now, financial services of other kinds, such as Social Security

Could I please post these perma.cc (Harvard Law Library's service) link shortened permanent links here – (they are guaranteed not to go stale) and ask that you look at them, I think you will be amazed at the implications of this deal and the fact that we have been kept in the dark about it.
https://perma.cc/BB3B-M44U Public Service Systems
https://perma.cc/FX35-6M33 Please read this, skim the first page or two, but please read it. This is a totally unique 2009 paper on the roadblocks that this agreement places to health care reform especially single payer. Its author died in August 2009, suddenly, so unfortunately there is no update – but the author's hunches turned out to be completely right.

Notably this paper discusses what we need to do, "carve outs" and he gives a sample carve out.

Thats what we would need to do, and soon. (recently there was a gathering in the EU hosted by EPSU on carve outs which can be found here: http://www.epsu.org/article/new-study-model-clauses-exclusion-public-services-trade-and-investment-agreements )

https://perma.cc/JR2K-WLDY The state of Maine examined the roadblocks placed by this agreement in front of state health care reform and found them daunting- this is a draft report on their findings – Also, they discuss talks then just beginning in Geneva – They became the newer (pending) agreement- Unfortunately it is clearer but it seems not in the way we need, in the opposite direction.
https://perma.cc/X8SH-S7HW Canada has managed to keep their public healthcare system only by keeping it completely free and noncommercial. Also discusses carveouts.
https://perma.cc/SC6C-VLN3 – This is about the newer pending agreement, which adds to, not replaces the previous agreement. Note that because the US's position has been quite a bit more agreessive in terms of sectoral coverage than that of most other developed countries great caution needs to be taken when applying scholarship on their situations to us. We seem to have attempted to lead the way by giving corporations rights to service sectors which many other countries want to reserve so they can have public services. We're basically putting our people into an impossible situation, in my opinion. We already know our health care system does not work, its unlikely that further rearranging of the deck chairs on this Titanic is going to help, even if more levels of middlemen are added by internationalizing it that is unlikely to fix the core problems.

https://perma.cc/3ZCY-RVQR PNHP Research: The Case for a National Health Program
https://perma.cc/6HGN-FSSK Report from the United States: State Health Reform Flatlines,

Also a 1998 add on to the original agreement is problematic because it acts as a freeze on financial services regulation effective then, which could lead to repeal or rollback of subsequent regulatory action. (subsequent to 1995 or 1998) if challenged. For example, "guaranteed issue" health insurance coverage of pre-existing conditions, is likely to be challenged because it forces health insurance to function in a way it was not designed for, to cover people with health conditions which make their care more expensive, and thereby less profitable. Since this regulation was passed after the standstill date of February 26, 1998, it may become subject to a "rollback". See

https://perma.cc/BAH2-QLEY Understanding on Commitments in Financial Services

Social Security:
https://perma.cc/4RFR-MCMS 2002 Exploration of implications for financial services by Patricia Arnold (note material on Social Security and the next following perma.cc link which relates to it.)
https://perma.cc/F63C-X97T Annex on Financial Services

Banking:
http://www.citizen.org/documents/That%27sAllTheyGot.pdf
https://perma.cc/UZ2G-QMJ8 (US Sched. of Specific Commitments Supplement 3 (Insurance – Market Access Also shows at very end how this agreement was cited as a cause of Glass-Steagall's Act's "reform" in 1999- i.e. its repeal) This is a good example of how these deals are "criminogenic" in that they spawn a never ending dishonesty in government to cover up their chilling effects on democracy, for example now much (most? almost all?) pending GOP legislation is driven by underlying causes in this trade agenda. one has to understand it and its goals to understand that.

Higher Education:
https://perma.cc/SV5V-YRDF Statement by European University Association on implications for public higher education.

Duplication of Offices and Services-Dishonesty-Totalitarianism (diagnostic sign)
This creation of "duplication of offices and functions" – basically huge duplication of efforts and energy to create and maintain two parallel structures of government – a secret one which holds the real power accompanied by a vestigial democratic government which is being stripped of all real power is a diagnostic sign of totalitarianism, see page 413 of Hannah Arendt's book here. https://monoskop.org/images/4/4e/Arendt_Hannah_The_Origins_of_Totalitarianism_1962.pdf

In this case "secrecy" for GATS was accomplished by hiding it in plain sight, not legal secrecy so much, but the newer US style agreements, use secrecy as well as a controversial expansion of the so called ratchet clauses, a mechanism called "negative list" which includes everything, even new service sectors not yet invented by default- This is as much a means of increasing their scope as a method of preventing any discussion of these agreements and keeping the public ignorant of them..

See Ellen Gould's discussion of the original agreement here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHIfSfb-RvM

and this article by the WTO staff.

https://perma.cc/E3GB-QZYB How to Design Trade Agreements in Services: Top-Down or Bottom-Up, WTO ERSD-2013-08 by Rudolf Adlung and Hamid Mamdouh

Here are some additional resources to fill in the blanks

https://perma.cc/ML3R-2EKS Cassim & Steuart – ICTSD Policy paper on Trade in Services and Sustainable Development, Part III, February 2005 (Re: More on WTO GATS Article I:3 (b)(c)
https://perma.cc/5B5L-YGBP CorpWatch – Legalizing Human Trafficking ("labour mobility")
https://perma.cc/R4KA-32FP Public TiSA "mandate" pub by European Union
https://perma.cc/K3V8-BWNU Public Draft Directives for TTIP between EU and USA

What I walk away with is a vastly increased understanding of a distressing new aspect to laws, the fact that these agreements "lock in" all deregulatory changes to laws, making it so no new laws can be put into place which re-regulate service sectors. its as if a six year old had written a new law which said that nomatter what laws are written, "I always have to win". That and the other effects of these deals should be unconstitutional but nobody has even told the country about it except in the most vaguest possible terms. Similar, pending deals also attempt to create a permanent one way ratchet in other areas such as environmental and energy regulation (the transatlantic agreement which is supposed to be hung up now in Europe but which might well be pushed through against the peoples wishes, that seems to be happening with CETA) These agreements are basically the ending of democracy in areas of economic importance by a global alliance of corporations and their allies with the goal of taking all important questions of where our planet is going as we move towards an automated, job sparse future off the table. I think their privatization of public health care, education and social security, changes which tie governments hands from making subsequent changes as needed, requiring that corporations be paid free money for changes, are particularly terrifying.

the scope of the agreements is extremely broad as it includes "all measures of general application affecting trade in services" – they also set up what are effectively job trading mechanisms, which are likely to be used, even when countries claim they wont for political reasons, the process of continual revisiting of commitments (every two years) and the ratchet – making all commitments to deregulate permanent in that direction only without telling the public this, guarantees that no area of governmental oversight will remain secure. Also the dishonesty in these areas never stops, it never ceases to amaze me the sheer willingness to deceive the public these deals are causing. Even "good" candidates do it. if this continues, democracy is going to be lost for good, soon. Simply selling insurance policy over state lines is likely to trigger it in health care with all that implies. See the section on financial services here https://perma.cc/UYW6-UXKF

For more on the scope of the agreement, see this document
https://perma.cc/PT67-FE4M Application of the Necessity test: Issues for Consideration 19 March 2001

For a textbook on the state of affairs in services as of 2008 see https://perma.cc/AE26-ZUUL Public Handbook of Trade in Services – especially the second chapter – which describes a great many important points concerning public services, again, one needs to realize that its written for a European audience and that the US governments commitments are broad in some areas relating to public services in a manner which is likely to cause major problems with already dysfunctional effects in health care and financial services.

Also see
https://perma.cc/84PL-VW8A A Comparison between the original and the newer services agreements.

I hope this is helpful. If any of you see fit to, please spread this knowledge around as much as you can. People need to know about these hidden rocks which frustrate democracy and hijack our ability to pursue much needed changes in policy, potentially leading us into a future so filled with artificial, falsely manufactured scarcity that most of us wont be able to afford it's gifts, instead of a beautiful, positive one. This is literally a make or break issue for humanity, and we're making the wrong choice due to a shameless deception. The media is helping hide this body of dishonesty. Until they tell the truth, more and more news will be fake, and it wont be the things we're being told are fake, it will be the "news". As we will be missing a large and ever growing body of crucial facts needed to make the news of our world make any sense to all of us.

This missing body of facts has demonstrably led to innumerable, hugely costly problems and significant loss of life already and its continuation is guaranteed to multiply our problems exponentially in the coming months and years if the key facts about these secret and dirty deals are withheld from us, those they effect. They represent a theft of our votes and politicians are getting away with being paid in a situation where they are not performing any job or service so at the very least the public deserves that their pay be repaid back to the taxpayers, and all decisions they have made to be subject to rescission. On healthcare the problem with dishonesty and a behind the scenes freeze on policy goes all the way back to NAFTA in 1993. (See http://www.law.harvard.edu/programs/lwp/nafta.pdf – on Page 8, A Cautionary Tale, which could serve as a good one page introduction to a number of fundamental concepts in these agreements. Also, another educational read is the award in the Achmea v. Slovak Republic ISDS case http://www.italaw.com/sites/default/files/case-documents/italaw3207.pdf and this document from Public Citizen http://www.citizen.org/documents/PresidentialWTOreport.pdf – which also has a large body of useful references on the lock in problem we face. Also the recent TISA leaks on wikileaks and bilaterals.org and a very large body of useful works, especially those by Scott Sinclair on the policyalternatives.ca site are invaluable . Also, the WTO site and the Youtube videos by Sanya Reid Smith (of TWN.my) Deborah James (OWNFS) and especially, Lori Wallach (Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch) are very useful. Lori Wallach has also described the standstill problem, in numerous fora, including in a segment on Democracy Now https://www.democracynow.org/2014/6/20/a_plan_only_banksters_will_love – and given a number of talks at the WTO, (the WTO seem to refuse to acknowledge the problem caused by financial services deregulation to this day.) Few people realize that the same issue also applies to health insurance, which is clearly and unambiguously a financial service.

What they are doing is the worst possible thing in a world where jobs are vanishing for good, is clearly unsustainable, and its so obviously not what the country wants one can not help but wonder – whats going on?

-Chris

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