Netpunk March 1999

Itís been a slow month here at Netpunk central. I donít know if everyone went on vacation or what, but I only got mail from two or three of you and only one of you sent me a site worth turning others onto. Címon, everybody has a website nowadays, so send yours to hanford@cruzio.com and Iíll mention it here if it doesnít suck hard. Fortunately, the one site I was sent gave me a great idea for the rest of this column. In other words, it saved my ass.

The site that is indirectly responsible for the rest of what you are gonna read this month is a little e-zine called The Heretic. Youíll find it on the web at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Congress/4573/ .

While not completely developed, the site does have a rant section and is planning for interview, picture, and guitar tab sections, among other stuff. The area that got me on track for this column, however, was a small section on unethical corporations.

What Iíve collected for you this month is a bunch of websites of business, government, and media watchdog groups. These groups do everything from watching for media inaccuracies to exposing corporations who use child or sweatshop labor, to rooting out excessive government spending.

Weíll take the corporate watchdog groups to start with. An excellent site is that of the British magazine Corporate Watch at http://www.oneworld.org/cw/index.html . This site contains featured highlights from the magazine. On the day I visited, there was an article on how oil companies are destroying the environment and screwing with indigenous people, how transnational corporations are destroying the Canadian Rainforest, and more. There is also a fun picture archive, and an archive of old articles.

Another site in the fight against corporate greed and lies is another site called Corporate Watch Ė this one at http://www.corpwatch.org/ . This site has articles on the current bullshit that corporations are pulling in various parts of the world, as well as archives of past bulletins, letters of protest to print out and mail to various corporations and more. Corporate Watch also maintains an e-mail list to keep you up to date on the latest news. You can find information for subscribing at the website.

I found this excellent page of links to sites that "explore, expose, and critique the domination of global business, politics, and culture by large corporations" at http://www.baobabcomputing.com/corporatepower/ . The site is called Baobab's Corporate Power Information Center and has a number of categories dedicated to various corporate critiques and reviews.

Sweatshop Watch (http://www.sweatshopwatch.org/) keeps tabs on how corporations are abusing third world workers, women, children, and immigrants with low wages, horrible working conditions, and long hours. A site you should visit before you head out to buy just about anything from one of the major chain stores.

Taking a more positive outlook towards business, by pointing out the companies that arenít doing bad things, is The GreenMoney On-line Guide at http://www.greenmoney.com/ . This guide gives you a list of socially responsible companies "from the supermarket to the stockmarket". They also have a links page, a list of recommended literature, and an events calendar (of what looks to be mostly hippie sorta stuff, but whatever).

One group that many of you are probably familiar with, and is a watchdog group for just about everything you could imagine, is PIRG. Their website, at http://www.pirg.org/ , has information on dangerous toys, hazardous chemicals, global warming, and congressional scorecards and updates on various public interests.

Keeping an eye on the government is Taxpayers for Common Sense (http://www.taxpayer.net/). Their goal is to keep an eye on government spending and to lobby for cuts wherever they feel that money is being wasted. They claim to be non-political and dedicated merely to cutting out unnecessary spending. As such, their agenda may not always gel with yours, but they appear to do some good work.

The news media has more groups watching and complaining about it than any other type of organization out there. These watchdog groups fall within all political philosophies, so you need to pay attention to exactly where the organization you are interested in stands on the issues you care about.

Adbusters is a fun site which takes a look at commercials and delves into their deeper meanings. Their website also has an collection of spoof ads, uncommercials, and more. Adbusters has done spots for Buy Nothing Day, TV Turnoff Week, and more. Youíll find Adbusters at http://www.adbusters.org/ .

One of the main media watchdog groups is FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), which keeps an eye on major news organizations and their positions on various topics. FAIR has a decidedly left of center bias, which is good considering some of the crap that the media feed us on a daily basis. Youíll find the FAIR site at http://www.fair.org/ . FAIR is also behind the radio show Counterspin. You can listen to copies of the show at the website.

Speaking of radio shows, you can get Pacifica Radio News and the Democracy Now! radio show on the web at http://www.webactive.com/webactive/pacifica/ . Pacifica Radio has long been a bastion of alternative news, and will be refreshing for those of you forced to listen to more mainstream stuff. Ainít the internet great?

The Freedom Forum (http://www.freedomforum.org/), which is a group working for First Amendment rights, has a section devoted to keeping tabs on government censorship of the media. Also of interest is the Rocky Mountain Media Watch (http://www.bigmedia.org/), which keeps an eye on how local news stations are driven by the market, rather than by what is really newsworthy. One other site you might want to visit is Media Watch (http://www.mediawatch.com/), whose stated goal is to challenge "racism, sexism, and violence in the media through education and action".

Finally, Mother Jones magazine has an interesting article on how some watchdog groups have actually been co-opted by corporations, and therefore the information they give is tainted. You can find this article within the Mother Jones website at http://www.motherjones.com/news_wire/ncl.html .

Okay, thatís enough for this month. A big thanks to Chris from The Heretic for giving me something to write about. You can e-mail me at hanford@cruzio.com (and send me your damn websites!!!) or mail me at PO Box 8059; Santa Cruz CA 95062. Oh, and if any of you in the South Bay area need a bassist with experience, give me a holler. Iím looking for a new band. See ya.