How corporate dark money is taking power on both sides of the Atlantic

Published on The Guardian, by George Monbiot, Feb 2, 2017.

It took corporate America a while to warm to Donald Trump. Some of his positions, especially on trade, horrified business leaders. Many of them favoured Ted Cruz or Scott Walker. But once Trump had secured the nomination, the big money began to recognise an unprecedented opportunity … //

… We have no hope of understanding what is coming until we understand how the dark money network operates. The remarkable story of a British member of parliament provides a unique insight into this network, on both sides of the Atlantic. His name is Liam Fox. Six years ago, his political career seemed to be over when he resigned as defence secretary after being caught mixing his private and official interests. But today he is back on the front bench, and with a crucial portfolio: secretary of state for international trade//

… Atlantic Bridge was later registered as a charity. In fact it was part of the UK’s own dark money network: only after it collapsed did we discover the full story of who had funded it. Its main sponsor was the immensely rich Michael Hintze, who worked at Goldman Sachs before setting up the hedge fund CQS. Hintze is one of the Conservative party’s biggest donors. In 2012 he was revealed as a funder of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which casts doubt on the science of climate change. As well as making cash grants and loans to Atlantic Bridge, he lent Fox his private jet to fly to and from Washington … //

… Long before Trump won, campaign funding in the US had systematically corrupted the political system. A new analysis by US political scientists finds an almost perfect linear relationship, across 32 years, between the money gathered by the two parties for congressional elections and their share of the vote. But there has also been a shift over these years: corporate donors have come to dominate this funding … //

… In April 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt sent the US Congress the following warning: “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism.” It is a warning we would do well to remember.

(full long text).

(A fully linked version of this column will be published at Twitter: @GeorgeMonbiot).


Make G7 great again? Italy’s ex-PM Prodi urges group to mend Russia ties before US takes advantage, on RT, Feb 6, 2017: Italy should do “everything possible” to return Russia to the G8, since it’s crucial for Europe to beat the US in the race to mend relationships with Moscow, former Italian Prime Minister and ex-President of the European Commission Romano Prodi has said …;

Thousands march against ‘sexist and racist’ burqa ban plan in Austria (VIDEOS), on RT, Feb 6, 2017: (again my eternal same comment: the burqa may be admitted the day it is no more forbidden to run naked in public places, as for both – the claims for freedom resp a so called moral shock – are exactly the same … more, we are born naked, but never with a veil – Heidi);

(we have again a) new President, (so) Get Ready for Terrorism, on Washgington’s Blog, by Kevin Ryan, Feb 5, 2017: … in the United States, government-sponsored terrorism is maximized during the year a new president takes office …;

What do consecrated people think about their current role in the world? on ROME reports, Feb 5, 2017;

Economy of Communion – an alternative to the “economy that kills”, which Pope Francis denounces, 2.16 min, on ROME reports, Feb 4, 2017: Pope Francis’ denunciations of an economic system that benefits the few is well-founded. According to the latest Oxfam report, only 8 people have the same wealth as the poorest half of the planet …;

A democratic crisis is brewing, reforming the Lords has never been more important, on Left Foot Forward, by Jenny Jones, Feb 3, 2017: for peers to resist the government’s Brexit plans, they must have democratic legitimacy;

BREAKINGVIEWS-Review: the hollow promise of ending GDP worship, on Reuters, by Sarah Hurst, Feb 3, 2017: before the colonial era the Inupiaq people of Alaska, isolated from the rest of the world, lived off what they could extract from their harsh environment. They hunted seals and whales, and used every part of the animal for food, clothing, heating, lighting and even building. Today, although many still hunt, the Inupiaq import food, fuel, building materials and other supplies to their villages. Their integration with the world economic system has brought material comfort at the price of reduced autonomy. In today’s political debates, few contemplate withdrawing from the global economy to the extent of the traditional Inupiaq. In “The World After GDP”, Lorenzo Fioramonti argues we should at least go some way in their direction …; (Gross domestic product GDP);

High Falls Yurt, 2.16 min, uploaded by Red River Gorge Cabin Rentals … the Red River Gorge is a canyon system on the Red River in east-central Kentucky. Geologically, it is part of the Pottsville Escarpment (also called the Cumberland Escarpment and forms the western edge of the Cumberland Plateau);

Corvallis treehouse – Barefoot Builders, 22.27 min, uploaded by Barefoot Treehouses;

… and this:

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