Items filtered by date: October 2011

{jb_dropcap}No, there is no major news about the three major investigations into multiple phone and computer hacking, bribing police officials, or perverting the course of justice by News International in the the UK. Nor is there any major development in the DOJ investigation into the parent company Newscorp, for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or other examples of systemic criminality (RICO violations) like the Floorgraphics case. No, the simple stunning verdict on the Murdoch Dynasty has been delivered by Newscorps Shareholders

Shareholders Deliver a Damning Verdict on James and Lachlan Murdoch


As handsomely diaried by Ceebs, last Friday's Newscorp shareholders meeting, held in high security in LA rather than in New York, was still a tumultuous affair, with many of independent shareholders calling the management to task over issues of corporate governance, probity, possible further legal actions, and of course the underlying complaint that Rupert Murdoch treats the public corporation like a 'family candy store'. Usually as Murdoch's biographer Michael Wolff explains in a tellingly titled piece: Rupert Murdoch: News Corp's great dictator on the brink

Under normal circumstances, Rupert Murdoch doesn't have much patience for the annual shareholders' meetings that are required by law of American public companies. He regards them as a farce, because they cannot change the outcome in a company where a voting majority is secure, and as an exercise in liberal corporate law designed to put him personally on the spot.

This time it was different. This time the voices couldn't be ignored, and they were joined by the stalwart British Parliamentarian, Tom Watson, initially a victim and now a persistent campaigner against both the industrial scale phone hacking in the UK (among other illegal practices) and the coverup. The vote was supposed to be delivered here last week. Now you can see the reason for the delay. Pegasus Corporate Governance has just tweeted the independent votes:

2011 AGM James Murdoch: For 59,297,033 (19.23%), Against 232,013,203 (75.24%) Abstain 494,831 Non-Votes 16,564,060
2011 AGM Lachlan Murdoch: For 67,175,479 (21.78%), Against 224,151,616 (72.69%) Abstain 477,972 Non-Votes 16,564,060

It doesn't constitute a majority since, though only owning 10 percent of the shares, the Murdoch family have 40 percent of the voting rights. But this is like Thatcher winning the first round of the votes in 1990 - not by a big enough margin. She was holed in the water. The vote of non confidence is resounding. As the Guardian puts it:

James Murdoch's future at News Corporation looks increasingly precarious as shareholders delivered a damning verdict on his tenure amid widespread criticism of his handling of the hacking scandal. Following a contentious meeting in Los Angeles last week News Corporation shareholders lodged a massive protest vote against James and his brother Lachlan Murdoch. A majority of independent shareholders voted against the re-election of chairman Rupert Murdoch's sons James and Lachlan Murdoch. James Murdoch received the largest vote against his re-election at 35%. James, 38, faces a second grilling in the Parliament next month over phone-hacking at The News of The World, one of News Corp's UK newspapers. Some 34% of shareholders voted against Lachlan Murdoch 40. After subtracting the shares controlled by Rupert Murdoch, 67% of the votes went against James Murdoch and 64% against Lachlan, said Julie Tanner, assistant director of News Corp investor Christian Brothers Investment Services (CBIS), who last week called for Rupert Murdoch to step down as chairman after the "extraordinary scandals" at the company. "Shareholders are saying loud and clear that this board has failed as a group," she said.
Published in Blogs
Monday, 24 October 2011 10:28

What did I do to Lose your Love?

 

first love_6

What did I do to lose your love?
Did I keep too loose and let it slip away?
Or hold too close and stifle it?
If you could choose, what would you change?

What did I do to lose your love?
Did your patience fail you or your passion fade?
Where did the spark go from your eyes?
When did you know just what I’d say?

What can I do to win your love?
Should I stand on my head, whistle in the dark?
Write long letters, phone you more,
Pathetic, possessive, jealous of your heart?

What can I do to win your love again?
To regain the future and redeem the past
How can I put that spark back in your eyes
When you know just what I’ll say?

first love_5

Peter Jukes October 11

 

Published in Original Poems

As you probably all know, the Square Mile of the City of London is the world's second biggest financial centre, and ever since the mid 80s has very much followed suit in the Thatcher Reagan concoction of deregulated markets, fluid global finance, strange derivatives, and the sharp increase in wealth inequality that comes from the 'Anglo Saxon Model'. Indeed, the problems of the last three years are very much an international problem, with a transatlantic origin. So it's about time the Occupy London movement took root.

I live on the edge of the City, only a ten minute walk from St Paul's where the demonstrations began at Noon today, so it hardly showed great radical commitment to head down there, be a witness and a supporter, before heading back to diary what I saw. I would have stayed, but my daughter is not well, and I didn't want to get 'kettled' (contained) by the police, and unable to look after her this evening.

So here are some images. It is a preternaturally warm day here in London, and the crowds were pleasant, well behaved and peaceful. It was a great mix of people

Published in Blogs

 

Over the course of these diaries, both myself and other FOTHOM aficianados have tried to stress that the UK hacking scandal is just one indication of the corrupt and anti-competitive practices that characterise the modal monopoly of Newscorp. Now another scandal is breaking which, like the looming shareholder rebellion, allegations of satellite card hacking in Italy and the Floorgraphics case prove once again that - like Watergate - the current scandal being investigated by no less than three large scale police operations in the UK, is only the tip of the iceberg, and that RICO violations are the best way for the current DOJ investigation to go.

Now the Wall Street Journal has news of the resignation of one of its chief executives:

Published in Blogs

This is partially inspired by a conversation on Labour List, the premier British Left of Centre blog, where a version of the Political Compass Test was taken by several diverse commenters.

Now most people who visit the political blogosphere know the parameters of that test: authoritarian/libertarian, socially interventionist/economically interventionist. Like Myers-Briggs, these are static and almost self fulfilling quadrants which test how much you believe in individual freedom versus social responsibility, whether in crime, foreign affairs, the economy, gun ownership or reproductive rights. We all know the tests, and probably where we come out in them. I think that the events of the last three years make that compass profoundly irrelevant, an old paradigm which can only provide a direction in an outdated map.

Follow me below the fold while I suggest that the old metrics no longer apply and we are in a new world looking for new bearings.

Published in Blogs
Saturday, 08 October 2011 12:08

In Deep Series Two

Apparently you can win a free copy of the second series of In Deep on TV spy: second prize is probably two copies

 

 

 

Published in Screenplays

yes, the Murdoch story may be flying under the mainstream media radar, but with three British police investigations ongoing, two Parliamentary committees, a televised public enquiry with full powers of subpoena starting tomorrow, a DOJ enquiry stateside, and other investigations and legal cases in the US, Australia and Italy into Newscorp anti-competitive and/or criminal behaviour, this is not about to go away any time soon.

Hackgate: A Pattern of Criminal Behaviour

 


 

As an early indication of this, it has just been announced that over sixty separate claims (some filed in multiple names) have been filed in the UK civil claims court against News International: these include dozens of celebrities and prominent politicians, but also the families or partners of murder victims, or casualties of other high profile incidents such as the 7/7 London bombings. These weren't people who thrust themselves into the limelight - but people who had already been violated by some awful event, only to have their own privacy violated by illegal means by a company whose only interest was profit and using press exposure to exert political power. According to The Guardian

The overwhelming majority of the writs have been issued jointly against News Group Newspapers, the News International subsidiary that published the now defunct News of the World, and Glenn Mulcaire, the private investigator who worked under contract for the Sunday tabloid. However, one – by singer Cornelia Crisan – also names the former News of the World chief reporter, Neville Thurlbeck, and another of the paper's former reporters as defendants in her claim. It is the first phone-hacking lawsuit to target Thurlbeck. He was arrested and bailed in April for alleged phone hacking but has not been charged. He is suing News International for unfair dismissal. Thurlbeck said: "As I said last week, the truth will out. But this will be in the law courts and at a public tribunal." The number and range of the claims has taken some legal observers by surprise. One source said it suggests that News International's £20m contingency fund to deal with legal claims will not be anywhere near enough to cover the final total.

Now this is all based on the files of Glynn Mulcaire, but as the Mark Lewis, the lawyer who broke the current storm with news of the hacking of the phone of Milly Dowler (a teenage murder victims) explains:

"So far, fewer than 5% of the victims of Glenn Mulcaire have been notified," said Mark Lewis, a lawyer for some phone-hacking victims in an email. "He was just one agent used by one paper. When the final tally takes place, we will see thousands of claims and more than one paper." SNIP Mr. Lewis said that, as the number of plaintiffs grows, his own estimate that the New York-based company would need at least £100-million to settle such claims looks like "a serious underestimate." News Group agreed to pay one of Mr. Lewis's clients, the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, £3-million, a person familiar with the matter said last month. Mr. Lewis said that the rash of suits may have been triggered by a deadline set by Judge Geoffrey Vos to consider claims ahead of a January trial to determine how much News Corp. should pay in damages to five of the victims.

So this is just phone hacking, and just the UK. But let's be clear. This is still just the tip of the iceberg. .

RICO: A Pattern of Criminal and Anti Competitive Behaviour

 


Now we know that financially, Newscorp has paid much more than $200 million in the past to settle lawsuits, and indeed has paid out three times as much as that to settle various lawsuits against its profitable marketing division, News America. Apart from the hacking allegations and the FCPA violations (suborning foreign officials) there is now ample evidence, in the US and elsewhere (cf Italy and Australia) that Newscorp has a standard modus operandi when dealing with the 'free market'.

1. Establish leverage over politicians to change anti monopoly legislation

2. Dumping - artificially lowered prices to destroy competitors (cf News America, London Times)

3. Industrial espionage against competitors using a variety of means (Floorgraphics, Daily Mirror etc.)

For those following this story in Newscorp's home country, the US, there is now ample evidence of a sustained pattern of behavior liable to a RICO violation. My firm belief is that the heart of this problem is an abuse of power which comes from a monopoly position in cross platform ownership. It is at it's worst in Australia, only marginally better in the UK, but the US is where both the power lies, economically and politically, and where Murdoch's combination of tabloid blackmail, highly leveraged acquisitions (Miliken is a good friend of his) and ultimate commercial and political power ultimately resides. And it's only there he will be defeated.

So keep digging. Keeping on adding your own comments and sources. Just like the Wall Street occupations, this is an example whete the power elites can be held to account: by occupying their channels of communication and spin.

Originally posted at DailyKos



Published in Blogs
Tuesday, 04 October 2011 14:48

Me on Other Blogs

UPDATE: this site might be a bit quiet for the next few months as I act as the Newsweek/DailyBeast correspondent on the Leveson Inquiry and the ongoing News International revelations unfolding in London. I'll try to cross reference as and when I can, but my work can be followed by clicking the picture - or the link above. 

As the Prospect Piece about the Obama Campaign in 2008 explains, I've been increasingly involved in the political blogosphere, especially in the US, for several years now. That's partly out of political passion, but also a sense of drama: I've discovered some of the best one-liners for my dramas - and a raft of amusing Lulz Images - while debating in the political blogosphere.

My main work/entertainment can be found here:

 

sorealism2

   1. Sorealism - originally the crazy spoof art movement cooked up with Marcos D'Cruze, this is a new website holding my collaborative work with him, and basically sporting some nice graphics at the moment, and not much else. 

 

 

dkos

   2. Daily Kos - where I blog under the name Brit. My most popular series of 'diaries' has been a sequence about Hackgate called 'The Fall of the House of Murdoch'. You can see a lot of these stories and many others in the same mould by fellow 'Kossacks' by following the FOTHOM tag which I created. 

 

moose

      3. Motley Moose - a site I designed and co-founded with a group of Americans during the latter phases of the Obama campaign. There I'm also an administrator and Frontpager

 

 

labourlist 4. Labourlist - the leading British Labour supporting blogsite - where I have contributed several articles, focused on the Arab Spring, the rise of the EDL and the problem of Islamophobia

 

 I don't pretend to be a proper political activist, or particularly informed about news and current affairs. However I do believe in online advocacy, citizen journalism, and the capacity for all of us to become involved either by fundraising, spreading news and awareness, or merely having our minds opened by political debate: as I explain in this piece.

 

unbound header2

5. Meanwhile, some of these various crowd-sourced blogs have come together under the banner of Unbound where my Fall of the House of Murdoch series of diaries are looking for crowd funding for the book Bad Press about Hackgate and the exposure of the Murdoch empire, richly illustrated by Eric Lewis. Please support the project if you can - at only £5 for a named dedicated e-book. 

Published in Uncategorized
Saturday, 01 October 2011 07:27

The Chief Series 2 and 3

Apart from a series of dramatic sketches on Newsnight during the 1992 election, The Chief was my first broadcast TV.  . 

 I have no idea how many episodes I wrote of these two series, and the quality is probably mixed. Though I'd never, at this point, wanted to write cop shows, The Chief was different thanks to its creator Jeffrey Kane, who taught me how to write pugnacious polticised narrative. The other inspiration was the show's  advisor, John Alderson, who had formulated the liberal idea idea of community policing.  He taught me that the idea of a constable was not someone with special powers, but merely a citizen nominated by other citizens to protect the community Working with him, getting to read Thomas Paine and understanding some of the long fought battles for individual liberty, was a real education and I created an episode, based on the story of Giovanni Falcone, partly inspired by John's almost saintly quality of probity and kindness.

Published in Screenplays