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[NOTE Due to the continuing media blackout surrounding the reasons for the protests of the WTO meeting in Seattle, permission is hereby granted to copy and distribute this entire article on a not-for-profit basis.]

The WTO, ICANN, and the End of the Republic
Copyright (c) 1999 Jay Fenello -- All rights reserved

Yesterday, I wrote about the media blackout surrounding the protests of the WTO meeting in Seattle.  In response, I got several email stating that I was *crazy*, that the story *is* being covered, and that it was my imagination.

What these critics are missing, however, is the methods of media bias, and how they are being used to hide *why* people are rioting in Seattle and London, and why workers have gone on strike throughout the world.

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views.  That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate." --  Noam Chomsky, American linguist

Compare for a minute the coverage of the current riots, versus the shootings at Columbine High, or the crash of Kennedy's plane.  While the latter received immediate and continuous media coverage, the riots have only received a few minutes of coverage at the top of the newscasts.  And this coverage has been limited to the riots themselves, the damage that has been done, the reactions of the WTO delegates, and the actions of the police to prevent a recurrence today.

So while the riots have been the lead story in the news, the reasons for the riots are conspicuously absent.  And the coverage has been minuscule compared to other less important topics that have recently been covered.

And yet, most in America still find it hard to believe that the corporate media can possibly be coordinating a cover up of the WTO debate.  Most still believe that a free press is some kind of guarantee of a *fair* press.

"There is no such thing, at this date of the world's history, in America, as an independent press.  The business of the journalists is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread.  We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes.  We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance.  Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men.  We are intellectual prostitutes." --  John Swinton, Chief of Staff New York Times

"There's a whole journalistic-industrial complex dedicated to keeping newsprint, TV screens and radio waves clean of destabilizing scoops damaging to corporations or the state." --  Alexander Cockburn, journalist

So, why are the protestors rioting?

If we are to believe the Television media, the protests are over jobs.  They have even rolled out some "experts" (like the president of the Economic Strategy Institute, and a spokesperson for the Clinton Administration) who have said that the protests are "bizarre" and based upon the fact that "people are afraid of change."

But actually, much, much more is at stake.  Surprisingly, the essence of the protests were revealed on Monday when some of the first broadcasts from Seattle featured a huge banner that read:

Democracy =====>

And in many ways, this simple banner summarizes the fight, for the very foundations of the Republic are threatened by the WTO.

In the history of human civilization, the U.S. Constitution represents a departure from most other forms of government. It places people at the top of an inverted pyramid, with the government's role to serve the people.  But things are a changing.

Instead of a government for the people, by the people, the WTO is a government for multinational corporations, by multinational corporations.  The WTO's "Mandatory Dispute Resolution Process" is one example of how this body can make decisions that supersede national laws and national sovereignty.  It is exactly the same model that ICANN has fraudulently instituted in its "Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy."

"[The] media, our top elected official, and our two dominant political parties rarely criticize the growing power of large corporations because they are bankrolled by them." --  Nancy Snow, author

So what can be done?  First, we must openly acknowledge that the media is biased, as it is owned by an increasingly smaller base of corporate entities world-wide.  Just to be clear, I fully support the private ownership of the press, and the biased reporting that results.  What I object to is the continued denial of big media in admitting to this control, a denial that I consider to be the ultimate form of false advertising.

"As long as people are marginalized and distracted [they] have no way to organize or articulate their sentiments, or even know that others have these sentiments.  People assume that they are the only people with a crazy idea in their heads.  They never hear it from anywhere else.  Nobody's supposed to think that. ... Since there's no way to get together with other people who share or reinforce that view and help you articulate it, you feel like an oddity, an oddball.  So you just stay on the side and you don't pay any attention to what's going on.  You look at something else, like the Superbowl." --  Noam Chomsky, American linguist

"One of the intentions of corporate-controlled media is to instill in people a sense of disempowerment, of immobilization and paralysis.  Its outcome is to turn you into good consumers.  It is to keep people isolated, to feel that there is no possibility for social change." --  David Barsamian, journalist and publisher

Second, we must take full advantage of the Internet while we still can.  ICANN has an agenda to institute some serious controls over content, so we must work quickly.  Help spread the word, and hold the media accountable for their coverage, or lack thereof.

"If those in charge of our society - politicians, corporate executives, and owners of press and television - can dominate our ideas, they will be secure in their power.  They will not need soldiers patrolling the streets.  We will control ourselves." --  Howard Zinn, historian and author

"The enormous gap between what US leaders do in the world and what Americans think their leaders are doing is one of the great propaganda accomplishments of the dominant political mythology." --  Michael Parenti, political scientist and author

Finally, we must hold our elected officials accountable to us, the people, and not the corporate entities who fund their reelection campaigns.

"History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people." --  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Be silent no more -- help spread the word.

Until next time . . .


Jay Fenello,

"We are creating the most significant new jurisdiction
we've known since the Louisiana purchase, yet we are
building it just outside the constitution's review."
  --  Larry Lessig, Harvard Law School, on ICANN

At 0335 AM 12/1/99 , Jay Fenello wrote
>Well, it's 330 a.m. EST, and I have seen very
>little coverage of the riots.  It's seems that
>the Pete Rose story is a much higher priority
>topic tonight!
>In other words, I'd say were in the midsts of
>another media blackout.  For those who missed
>the last one, there is a good summary at
>   http://www.icann.org/comments-mail/icann-current/msg00677.html
>Consider the situation.  We have a World Trade
>Organization meeting in Seattle, one that has
>delegates arriving from over 130 countries of
>the world, one that has been disrupted by riots
>in Seattle.
>The riots are so bad that police have reportedly
>fired rubber bullets, and used tear gas and pepper
>spray to disperse the thousands of protesters who
>took to the streets on Tuesday.  Riots that were
>so bad that the opening WTO meeting was canceled.
>Riots that were so bad that the mayor of Seattle
>imposed a 7 p.m.-to-dawn curfew, and has called
>out the national guard.
>We practically have marshal law in Seattle, and
>yet, the Network news has done very little to
>cover the fiasco.
>On my cable system, I get all four networks,
>and I get CNN, CNNFN, CNN Headline News, CNBC,
>MSNBC, and Fox News.  After hours of channel
>surfing, I have very little to report.  Other
>than the three minute leader that is run at
>the top of the newscasts, I have seen little
>in depth coverage.
>[Compare this to the recent coverage given to
>the Kennedy search and rescue.  We had non-stop
>coverage on every network for hours and hours,
>with live pictures of the empty ocean, and
>little else to report.]
>The media is obviously hiding this story!
>One blatant example is the current story running
>on MSNBC  http//www.msnbc.com/news/340805.asp#BODY
>It's one of the longest I've seen, yet it doesn't
>even mention why so many people are protesting.
>It's like the question WHY doesn't even exist!
>Not only are they hiding it, but they are even
>taking sides.  The one in-depth news report that
>I did see was on MSNBC and featured a spokesperson
>for the White House.  Unfortunately, she
>characterized the protestors as a confused bunch
>of disparate parties who were all protesting a
>disjunctive and contradictory slate of issues.
>Why the bias? -- you ask.
>The truth of the matter is that the riots in
>Seattle, the fight over ICANN, and the media
>blackout given to both topics, are all related.
>The riots in Seattle are about the loss of U.S.
>sovereignty to multinational corporations, just
>like the Domain Name Wars were about the loss of
>the Internet to the same multinational corporations.
>Not possible! -- you say.
>Consider that the media is owned by these same
>multinational corporations
>"The notion that journalism can regularly produce a product
>that violates the fundamental interests of media owners and
>advertisers ... is absurd."
>   --  Robert McChesney, journalist and author
>Consider that while knowledgeable people recognize
>the bias of the media in the U.S., the vast majority
>of Americans doubt that it is possible
>"The corporate grip on opinion in the United States is one
>of the wonders of the Western world. No First World country
>has ever managed to eliminate so entirely from its media
>all objectivity - much less dissent. "
>   --  Gore Vidal, novelist and critic
>Consider the implications of this email
>"Corporations have been enthroned .... An era of corruption
>in high places will follow and the money power will endeavor
>to prolong its reign by working on the prejudices of the
>people... until wealth is aggregated in a few hands ...
>and the Republic is destroyed."
>   --  Abraham Lincoln
>Until next time . . .

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