Daily Archives: January 18, 2023

America’s Surveillance State (Full, Pt. 1-6)

Rabbit Hole Investigations Jan 16, 2015

The full, Press TV series about the current state of domestic surveillance in the U.S., as well as some other clips of political speeches relevant to this issue.


FilmIsNow Movies & Trailers Dec 17, 2022

Mass Surveillance is the focus of this new 6 part investigative documentary series examining who is watching whom and why. Directed by: Danny Schechter

We live in the United States of Surveillance – with cameras positioned on every street corner and much more invisible spying online and on the phone. Anyone paying attention knows that privacy is dead. All of this is not happening by accident – well funded powerful agencies and companies are engaged in the business of keeping tabs on what we do, what we say, and what we think. To many in the world today, the face of America also has a big nose for sniffing and sifting mountains of data – phone calls, emails and texts. And with many mouths silenced by paranoia to keep what they decide is secret, secret. America has become a Surveillance-Industrial State where everyone’s business has become its business, and where one huge US intelligence Agency has been given the sanction and unlimited amounts of money to spy on the whole world. This film is under a non-exclusive license from Sideways Films

The Nicotine War (full documentary) | FRONTLINE

FRONTLINE PBS | Official Jan 17, 2023

FRONTLINE told the story of Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler’s bold attempt to regulate the tobacco industry — which had defied regulation for more than thirty years. (Aired 1995) This journalism is made possible by viewers like you. Support your local PBS station here: http://www.pbs.org/donate​. The documentary details the FDA’s efforts to prove that cigarette manufacturers were manipulating nicotine in cigarettes to keep smokers hooked and examines the political headwinds the FDA faced at the time.

Harvard Business Review | 4 Ways Lying Becomes the Norm at a Company

Many of the corporate scandals in the past several years — think Volkswagen or Wells Fargo — have been cases of wide-scale dishonesty. How can you make sure people in your organization are telling the don’t distort or withhold the truth from one another? A 15-year longitudinal study, which analyzed 3,200 interviews that were conducted as part of 210 organizational assessments, revealed four factors that predicted whether or not people inside a company will be honest:a lack of strategic clarity, unjust accountability systems, poor governance, and weak cross-functional collaboration. The good news is that each of the four factors is something that leaders can address – and the research shows that doing so would guard against lapses in integrity.

Many of the corporate scandals in the past several years — think Volkswagen or Wells Fargo — have been cases of wide-scale dishonesty. It’s hard to fathom how lying and deceit permeated these organizations. Some researchers point to group decision-making processes or psychological traps that snare leaders into justification of unethical choices. Certainly those factors are at play, but they largely explain dishonest behavior at an individual level and I wondered about systemic factors that might influence whether or not people in organizations distort or withhold the truth from one another.

This is what my team set out to understand through a 15-year longitudinal study. We analyzed 3,200 interviews that were conducted as part of 210 organizational assessments to see whether there were factors that predicted whether or not people inside a company will be honest. Our research yielded four factors — not individual character traits, but organizational issues — that played a role. The good news is that these factors are completely within a corporation’s control and improving them can make your company more honest, and help avert the reputation and financial disasters that dishonesty can lead to.

The stakes here are high. Accenture’s Competitive Agility Index — a 7,000-company, 20-industry analysis, for the first time tangibly quantified how a decline in stakeholder trust impacts a company’s financial performance. The analysis reveals more than half (54%) of companies on the index experienced a material drop in trust — from incidents such as product recalls, fraud, data breaches and c-suite missteps — which equates to a minimum of $180 billion in missed revenues. Worse, following a drop in trust, a company’s index score drops 2 points on average, negatively impacting revenue growth by 6% and EBITDA by 10% on average.

To guard your organization’s integrity, pay attention to these four factors.

A lack of strategic clarity. When there isn’t consistency between an organization’s stated mission, objectives, and values, and the way it is actually experienced by employees and the marketplace, we found it is 2.83 times more likely to have people withhold or distort truthful information. As one interviewee put it, “Our priorities change by the week. Nobody wants to admit we’re in trouble, so we’re grasping at straws. We don’t know who we are anymore, so we’re just making things up.” Organizations in situations like this often double down on outdated strategies or reflexively reach for unrealistic strategic aspirations. They tout values and missions to rally confused employees. When employees perceive duplicity between their organization’s stated identity and actions, they eventually follow suit. Tesla offers a painful example. The company, now under criminal investigation for misleading investors, overpromised its production targets for its Model 3. As CEO Elon Musk continued to promise hitting his 5,000 vehicles per week target, issues of worker injury, safety and stress came to light.

The gains don’t have to be significant to have an impact. Our statistical models revealed that even a 10% increase in strategic clarity, as evidenced by a shared and accurate understanding of the organization’s strategic aspirations by employees and the market, can improve truth-telling behavior by 5%. To improve strategic clarity, organizations must embed their strategic aspirations into every employee’s job. Everyone from the CEO to the front-line employees, everyone must have the chance to discuss, debate and embrace each strategic objective.

Unjust accountability systems. When an organization’s processes for measuring employee contributions is perceived as unfair or unjust, we found it is 3.77 times more likely to have people withhold or distort information. We intentionally excluded compensation in our research, because incentive structures can sometimes play disproportionate roles in influencing behavior, and simply looked at how contribution was measured and evaluated through performance management systems, routine feedback processes, and cultural recognition. One interviewee captured a pervasive sentiment about how destructive these systems can be: “I don’t know why I work so hard. My boss doesn’t have a clue what I do. I fill out the appraisal forms at the end of the year, he signs them and sends them to HR. We pretend to have a discussion, and then we start over. It’s a rigged system.” Our study showed that when accountability processes are seen as unfair, people feel forced to embellish their accomplishments and hide, or make excuses for their shortfalls. That sets the stage for dishonest behavior. Research on organizational injustice shows a direct correlation between an employee’s sense of fairness and a conscious choice to sabotage the organization. And more recent research confirms that unfair comparison among employees leads directly to unethical behavior.

Fortunately, our statistical models show that even a 20% improvement in performance management consistency, as evidenced by employees belief that their contributions have been fairly assessed against known standards, can improve truth telling behavior by 12%. What we observed was that organizations where accountability systems were viewed as fair and just had standardized processes where employees both give and receive regular feedback. In one large organization we worked with, every manager has monthly one-on-one sessions with their team members that follow a standard approach across the organization. Every quarter, managers are responsible for summarizing feedback patterns across their teams and submit those insights to another person who, in turn, is responsible for making sure the entire organization benefits from them.

Poor organizational governance. When there is no effective process to gather decision makers into honest conversations about tough issues, truth is forced underground, leaving the organization to rely on rumors and gossip. Meetings are often seen as a waste of time because it’s often unclear why they’re taking place or who gets to make decisions. In one study, 71% of senior managers viewed meetings as unproductive and inefficient. We found that when effective governance is missing, organizations are 3.03 times more likely to have people withhold or distort information.

…(read more).

See related:

Elite Capture: Philosopher Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò on How the Powerful Took Over Identit y Politics

Democracy Now! Jan 18, 2023

We speak with philosopher Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò, who has recently written two widely acclaimed books: “Elite Capture: How the Powerful Took Over Identity Politics (And Everything Else)” and “Reconsidering Reparations,” which focuses in part on the climate crisis. He says identity politics is a concept that was stripped of its radical power to build solidarity and is now weaponized to split people into ever narrower categories that hamper movements for racial and social justice. “Elite capture is what happens when the advantaged few in a group steer the resources and political direction of organizations or movements or parts of our social structure like the justice system toward their narrower interests and aims,” Táíwò says.