A news media betrayal of journalism

Hard experience teaches that biotech, chemical, and other agribusiness giants have no sense of respect for Mother Nature. But Rick Friday has learned that they have no sense of humor, either.
Friday, a lifelong Iowa farmer, also happens to be a talented, self-taught cartoonist. For 21 years, he has supplemented his cattle-raising income with a dab of money he gets paid for drawing cartoons each week in an Iowa publication named Farm News. Friday really enjoyed this side job… until April 30.
The day before, the News had published his drawing of two hard-hit farmers chatting at a fence about the low prices they were getting for their products. “I wish there were more profits in farming,” mused one. “There is,” exclaimed the other. “In year 2015, the CEOs of Monsanto, Dupont, Pioneer, and John Deere combined made more money than 2,129 Iowa farmers.”
It wasn’t exactly a harsh comment but – WHAP! – the next morning, Rick was slapped with an email from a Farm News editor announcing that at the direction of the publisher, Friday was immediately being terminated. The drawing “had caused a storm here,” the editor wrote, adding that one of the named corporate giants had pulled its advertising. “In the eyes of some,” the email confided, “big agriculture cannot be criticized or poked fun at.”
And yet, Big Ag wonders why it is so loathed across America’s farm country!
The petulant corporate bully that mugged Rick Friday won’t identity itself – but why won’t Farm News? Does its publisher and owners feel no journalistic responsibility to report actual news – in this case, news that farmers really could use? The publication’s pusillanimous sacrifice of its longtime cartoonist is a shameful betrayal of both its farmer readership and the ethics of journalism. They should rename it the Agribusiness Shill.

How much does is cost to buy a public university’s integrity?

First came withering hoots of laughter when the honchos of George Mason University named their law school the “Antonin Scalia School Of Law.” Yes, the acronym for that spelled ASSOL – an honor Scalia might’ve merited, but very embarrassing for the university.
Even though administrators quickly changed the name to the Scalia Law School, their embarrassment turned into shame, for it turns out they had sold the naming rights – to none other than multibillionaire right-wing extremist, Charles Koch!
For years, Koch and other moneyed corporatists have quietly pumped millions into a couple of pseudo-academic centers on campus to promote their laissez-faire ideology. But here was Virginia’s largest public university letting the infamous Koch brother and one other un-named right-winger give $30 million in exchange for branding George Mason’s law school – one of the university’s core academic components – with Scalia’s name.
Students and faculty rebelled at the idea that the integrity of their university, supposedly a center of enlightenment and erudition, was to be identified with a judge notorious for veering into racist and homophobic rants, and for being the Supreme Court’s most obsequious servant of plutocratic corporate rule. Rebellion turned to fury when it was learned that the right-wingers’ “donation” also required school officials to commit taxpayer money to finance 12 new professorships and two new centers to promote the Koch brothers’ fantasies of free-market plutocracy.
The university’s president calls this perfidious transaction a simple “naming gift.” But who is he to put the name of the people’s law school up for sale? And why was it sold in a secret, no-bid process? Koch was not making a gift, he was buying a public asset, including the university’s integrity.

Guess who is the biggest player in offshore bank scams?

The “Panama Papers” reveal a global web of the superrich hiding their wealth and nefarious deals in shell corporations set up by Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm.
Interestingly, though, very few of our country’s moneyed elite have surfaced as players in Mossack Fonseca’s Panamanian shell game. Perhaps US billionaires and corporations are just more honest than those elsewhere.
Ha-ha-ha, just kidding! Not more honest, just luckier. You see, America’s conniving richies don’t have to go to Panama to set up an offshore flim flam – they have the convenience of hiding their money and wrongdoings in secret accounts created right here in states like Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming.
The New York Times notes that it’s easier in some states to form a dummy money corporation than it is to get a fishing license. Indeed, the ease of doing it and the state laws that provide strict secrecy for those hiding money have made the USA a global magnet for international elites wanting to conceal billions of dollars from their own tax collectors, prosecutors… and general public.
State officials in Delaware even travel to Brazil, Israel, Spain, and other nations “to tell the Delaware story,” inviting rich foreign interests to stash their cash in corporate hideaways that the state sets up, no questions asked. Likewise, Nevada flashes a dazzling neon sign inviting the global rich to incorporate their very own shell corporations there, promising – shhhh – “minimal reporting and disclosing requirements.” The money-hiding industry is so hot in Nevada that it has attracted none other than Mossack Fonseca to get in on the action by opening a branch office there!
The law firm is being branded as a criminal enterprise for the superrich. Okay, but it shares that shameful brand with our own state governments.
“Need to Hide Some Income? Forget About Panama. Try Delaware.” The New York Times, April 8, 2016.
“A Global Web of Corruption,” The New York Times, April 6, 2016.
“Airing of Hidden Wealth Stirs Inquiries and Rage,” The New York Times, April 6, 2016.