“What happens when a fundamental principle of journalism stops working? The values that help to get the facts right and reveal the truth with reasonable accurately begin to slide away when independence gets sticky; impartiality weakens and bang, fairness and accountability slips and slides away.

It appears to me today, March 31 that “following a story” to the end or until it kills the journalist or the “ism” of it, is one way to go with the first draft of history but it can miss the dots. The observers compiled in my Tweet O-Rama is one way to look at everything all at once. Our problems are uniquely highlighted by these groups who respect the sweet demands of tweet brevity. They are not journalists, but they are rebuilding their principles.”  

Rex L. Curry

I will be conducting the grand-tweet-o-rama summary of the following groups each month beginning with the think tank people in April.

Creating a section on the think tank people (ttp) occurred to when an article in the WSJ (subscribes only) details the maturation of technologies for surveillance – facial recognition, following capital through multiple accounts, command centers aggregating microwave, RFID chips, and hundreds of other digital communication platforms. The headline read, “The Autocrat’s New Tool Kit” that makes current efforts used to spread propaganda or end dissent appear childish. The tank group is ideologically diverse and sizeable with fifty on the list. I will attempt to sum them up in April.  The practice is to breeze through their tweets in a search for common themes, and I recommend you do the same, 500 words max.

My selection of social policy people (spp) finds a prioritized set of messages concerned with a rising level of damage to children in our society. The United States is a place where half of the babies born will live in or near poverty. Their observations also find children in trouble because of housing and school systems. The danger to children is also due to segregation patterns that remain that one think-tank called an “intentional American institution.” Diversity has begun in the workplace while other parts of our society remain “ghettoized” and easily subjected to malicious stereotypes and manipulative “fox in the hen house” messaging. It is a uniquely American problem that requires greater focus and serious attention in social policy. Just saying we are a diverse society is not enough.

The watchdog people (wdp) are into the “statistical malpractice” issues of the Trump administration regarding the U.S. Census and concerns related to the potential misuse of the National Emergencies Act. On the positive side, an effort to formalize the “emergency” powers of Presidents may be the result. They have some general worries about Boeing’s “lobbying” before and after the grounding of the “738 Max 8” fleet. Major concerns regarding the criminality in the Trump campaign’s fundraising behavior have heightened in intensity. The watchdogs like the hot buttons but also sustain their worries about the abuse of power within the military complex because it claims half of the national revenue. Finally, a set of “web changes” that examine various manipulations of the internet under #Gov404 and the “web integrity project” require scrutiny. The DOJ’s long term resistance to FOIA requests and appeals also concerns the watchdogs.

The public accountability people (pap) are similar but more likely to emphasize positive reform efforts; in this month it is #HR1, #ForThePeople. Isolating xenophobic behaviors remains in the context of a push back against violence and racial bigotry. An example, this month is the relatively weak House Resolution condemning all forms of discrimination in response to a representative’s use of language about the Israeli lobby. Accountability requires the recognition of “white supremacy” as an ideology is a growing threat to national security in a society built on diversity. Other concerns involve the legal system’s criminal sentencing that appears to value abusers of public trust with light sentences over those who expose the abuse of power. Between the lines, it is all about placing pressure on the majority party in the Senate (currently Republican) to take reasoned vs. political stances on issues.

The consumer protection people (cpp) focus on food and consistently remind their constituents to understand calorie labeling. America’s obesity is a whole foods crisis that could lead to warning labels on processed foods and food marketing behaviors that maximize per unit profits over the health of people. Straight forward market strategies often fail to reflect the cost to future generations. Nutrition has moved from a renewable system to one highly dependent on non-renewable inputs. The most direct example being people in cities cannot eat without planes, trains, and trucks that run on fossil fuels. Removing “petrol on your plate” has barely entered the curriculum of the American planning, architecture, and urban design schools, or in a formal public policy or market response. Consumer protection people are also examining the post-carbon future and the sustainability crisis with heightened seriousness. Several brief papers on the subject are available (here). Finally, the original analysis of scientists and economists flail hopelessly against a war on science in agriculture and environmental protection, the USDA and many others all of it carefully detailed in a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (here).

The tax accountability people (tap) and economic policy people (epp) are on the defensive, removing tax breaks for outsourcing, “carried interest,” and the investment income of wealthy corporations and people do not pay for themselves. One side of the internal revenue administration recognizes the national security implications in the loss of financial transparency. Going after the high-income earners with income tax will not produce obstruction instead of revenue. Wealth at the billionaire level is defined by investment income behaviors not “a job.” More anonymous and public corporations form in the United States per year than any other place in the world. Company formation is a big business; however, the dark side of anonymous entities should be apparent to legislators.  Detailed knowledge of the role tax havens and shell companies have paid in facilitating the opioid epidemic is an obvious example. Finally, there is outright glee regarding the first hearing on corporate transparency in the new Congress. The impetus was the exposure of world leaders caused by the data in the Panama Papers. A documentary reviews the work of 376 journalists in 76 countries regarding the methods used by the super wealthy to hide money. A documentary began streaming on @Hulu (Here) & @PrimeVideo (Here) in the U.S.

The economic justice people (ejp) selected here are those on the ground floor of dignity, and looking for broken glass ceilings, safety in the workplace, success in acquiring fair wages, and steps toward a global labor movement. Displacement from full-time employment, affordable housing, and being displaced by institutional cutbacks and criminal justice reform exacerbates neighborhood stability initiatives and weakens local governments.  The housing crisis reigns while the undertow is a grinding deterioration of housing in modest-income suburban areas and displacement in dense urban places.

I gave the business integrity people (bip) a small triple bottom line header as the argument for that kind of line is between profitable and when.  Why does ten energy company failures in the UK exhibit the perils of privatization, and how did a software problem collapse a Boeing fleet, and who is it that wants teenagers to vape until addicted and what about the asbestos in their make-up products?  Some of the good news is about more pension funds selling off tobacco stocks despite this strategy. Antibiotic resistance is identified as a significant threat to humankind, while documentation of medical insurance company failures to provide mental health services continues. The message of climate change is resonating with the young based on the premise that it is the quality of their lives on the line. It is a business issue because they can organize for or against a business within hours. Power is moving toward the consumer. The health of Lake Erie will affect every business along with its shores as the Ohio Supreme Court has given it legal rights.

Finding and exercising influence over the organizations that support organizing local people, (olp) such as representatives to city/county state and federal government can be difficult.  Most of the real nitty-gritty battles are at the state level. To the agonized voices of our brothers in the street, we will begin the hard work of change. The cult of legal action has become a cult. The climate strikers are not part of some class action screen process. The interest in beginning another revolution (anti-war or civil rights) we are conducted by doing the work of the bold. Among the protect the vote people (pvp) there appears to be a lot of effort to suppress the vote and people who are fighting to overturn bad law. For example, the Georgia legislature recently passed legislation that allows a non-verifiable digital ballot without a hard copy backup.

What is Next?

As an introduction to the organizations that pay the most attention, I cannot help but wonder, will next months summary of the think tanks be completely different just because I focus on the think-tanks or will it be developmental in some way? Will next month’s tweets on issues be little more than a set of episodic statements to build a constituency or have more depth? More positively, these organizations represent disciplined teams. They are weaving threads for a common fabric to wrap over our shoulders like the atmosphere.

The GHG threat is growing into a public certainty; this fine cape over the shoulders of policy may force a broad consensus on resilience and mitigation. The earth’s temperature has increased steadily since the industrial revolution, and the science suggests as strongly as science is able that this “steadiness” will advance to intolerable threat levels exacerbated by poor planning.

I have one example on the impact of Climate Change in NYC (here)

One thought on “March 2019

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