Posts filed under ‘Corporatocracy’
We’ve all heard it: Unions donate as much money to political campaigns as wealthy donors like the Koch brothers. The Kochs donate to Republicans and unions donate to Democrats so it all works out in the end, right?
No, because that’s not true:
A larger version of this graph and more here.
If you read the New York Times‘ blog DealBook or watch Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s “SquawkBox” and you think he has you in mind when he does his reporting, think again. The so-called “journalist” Sorkin is about as in bed with Wall Street as you can get.
One great problem with financial journalism, especially in the decades leading up to the crash, has been that it’s often written in an argot understandable only to the already highly financially literate. Sorkin doesn’t usually employ such specialized language. This has led to the mistaken belief that he’s explaining the industry to regular people. In fact, he is a dutiful Wall Street court reporter, telling important people what other important people are thinking and saying. At the same time, he is Wall Street’s most valuable flack. He isn’t explaining finance to the people—you’d be better served reading John Kenneth Galbraith to understand how finance works—he’s justifying it.
Our subprime lenders proved, in the final analysis, too big too fail; and now, certain of our name-brand financial writers are too big to practice journalism.
I remember reading somewhere that when the Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United ruling the conservative justices, in particular Chief Justice John Roberts, laughed at as silly the notion elections would be flooded with corporate and other “free speech” money.
Gosh. I’m so glad he was right (not). Geezus. Check this out. Here’s a graph showing how much “dark money” has been spent this cycle thus far:
Ah, yes, We the Little People who live near fracking wells and drink water contaminated by them should be so lucky as to have pockets lined with $1000 bills so we can afford to fight against having our environment trashed by, wait for it, Exxon!
For an example of hyper-elitism, NIMBYism, and the arrogance of the corporatocracy and the 1%ers, you’ve gotta read this:
The “smartest guys in the room,” who destroyed the world’s economy are still strutting around, getting multimillion dollar bonuses, but an 84-year-old nun who tried to bring attention to the danger of nuclear weapons has been sentenced to two+ years in prison:
KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Feb. 18 (UPI) — Three anti-nuclear activists, including an 84-year-old Catholic nun, received jail terms Tuesday for breaking into a nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee in 2012.
Sister Megan Rice received a 35-month term, and her co-conspirators, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed, received 62-month terms, WVLT-TV, Knoxville, reported.
Rice, 84, Michael Walli, 64, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 58, were convicted of breaking into the Y-12 Security Complex at Oak Ridge, a nuclear weapons manufacturing facility operated by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration and considered among the most secure buildings in the world. They defaced a uranium-processing facility with human blood as an anti-nuclear protest.
On Tuesday, February 11, a gas well about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, PA erupted in flames:
State environmental officials and expert firefighters brought in by Chevron monitored a burning Marcellus Shale natural gas well on Wednesday.
The well, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh in Dunkard Township, erupted into flames on Tuesday morning, injuring one worker and leaving one still unaccounted for. State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Jon Poister said Wednesday night that the fire had partly extinguished itself due to moisture from inside the well. It will take time for multiple investigations to determine the cause.
Yesterday, Chevron dropped off coupons for free pizza to their “neighbors” in the area in an effort to placate them (and it’ll probably work):
It isn’t about energy, it’s about money:
If you thought shale gas was a nightmare, you ain’t seen nothing yet. A subterranean world of previously ignored reserves is about to be opened up. These are the vast coal deposits that have proved unreachable by conventional mining, along with gas deposits around them. To the horror of anyone concerned about climate change, modern miners want to set fire to these deep coal seams and capture the gases this creates for industry and power generation. Some say this will provide energy security for generations to come. Others warn that it is a whole new way to fry the planet.
Some 300 metres beneath the plains east of Tashkent, Stalin’s engineers and their successors have been burning a seam of brown coal that can’t be mined conventionally. There are two well heads on the surface: one pumps air down to fan the flames while the other retrieves a million cubic metres of combustion gases a day. Scrubbed of coal dust, cooled and compressed on site, the gases are then sent down a pipeline that snakes across the countryside to a sprawling power station on the outskirts of the industrial town of Angren, where they are burned to generate electricity.
Without a way to capture all the carbon and store it out of harm’s way, it could raise the world’s temperature by 10 degrees or more. Is this burning desire for fossil fuel pushing us towards disaster?
The NAACP estimates that 80,000 to 100,000 people gathered outside the North Carolina State Capitol Saturday morning for the Moral March in Raleigh (official attendance numbers have not been released yet). The march was the culmination of a year of Moral Monday protests at the State Capitol organized by The Forward Together Movement, a “fusion movement” of over 150 groups fighting for mostly progressive causes in North Carolina.
A year ago, only 15,000 turned out for the same march in Raleigh. The leap in turnout is a good indicator of the growing support for the movement’s agenda in the months before the 2014 midterms, and a show of how much more popular the movement has become since last February.
The article goes on to explain what North Carolina’s Tea Party government has been doing over the last three years and, well, it ain’t pretty.
This was the largest civil rights demonstration since the 1960s and the largest demonstration of any kind here in the United States since those held in the run-up to the Iraq war. You know, when George Bush said he didn’t “pay attention to focus groups?” And the corporate media hasn’t said a word.I wonder if they would have covered it if this had been a Tea Party demonstration. (I’m thinking yes.)
Now that I’ve read the article, it’s obvious why for-profit prisons are stacked with people of color:
It’s well known that people of color are overrepresented in America’s prisons relative to their share of the population. But a recent study finds that they make up an even larger share of the populations of private, for-profit prisons than publicly run institutions.
According to Christopher Petrella, a doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley who conducted the study, this is not an accident — it’s about private firms selecting the least expensive prisoners to manage and leaving costlier populations in the hands of state correction systems.
Why would African American and Latino prisoners be cheaper to incarcerate than whites? Because older prisoners are significantly more expensive than younger ones. “Based on historical sentencing patterns, if you are a prisoner today, and you are over 50 years old, there is a greater likelihood that you are white,” Petrella explained to BillMoyers.com. “If you are under 50 years old — particularly if you’re closer to 30 years old — you’re more likely to be a person of color.” He cited a 2012 report by the ACLU which found that it costs $34,135 per year to house a non-geriatric prisoner, compared with $68,270 for a prisoner age 50 or older.
Throw in the relatively new mandatory sentencing/3-strikes laws and that contributes to the equation too. When judges can’t use their discretion when handing down sentences, voila, you get more prisoners overall.
I hope the Vietnamese people are prepared for an obesity epidemic:
Vietnam’s first McDonald’s restaurant is opening on Saturday, marking the fast food chain’s first venture into a new southeast Asian market in two decades.
The restaurant, located in Ho Chi Minh City, will be the city’s first drive-thru restaurant — which some see as a sign of Vietnam’s rising wealth.
“Here McDonald’s is about family entertainment,” long-time Vietnam resident Frederick Burke told The Financial Times. “It has also got to be the first restaurant in Vietnam that has a drive-through — which is a sign of rising affluence in itself.”
Employees have attended three-to-nine-week training sessions to prepare for the opening, according to a video introducing the new location, which is roughly 3,000 square feet and can accommodate 350 customers.
The only locally sourced foods at the restaurant will be eggs and vegetables, according to Vietnam.net. The beef will come from Australia, while pork and potatoes will come from the U.S.
This is really incredible news for those of us who remember video from the evening news in the late 60s showing Vietnam as a swampy hell hole reeking of death and dying.
Think of this mind-blowing little factoid (my Tweet of the Day):
And don’t forget, we’re talking Our Tax Dollars here.
Another example of the power of lobbyists:
As the NFL packs out of town, with their self-proclaimed all-American extravaganza, we should say good riddance, and make sure they don’t come back with their big money, big everything, big game.
Because you, New Jersey taxpayer, are on the hook for the league’s big party for itself.
– The NFL pays nothing for security. It’s right there in the bid contract, which was obtained by The Star-Ledger. So who pays for the 700 state troopers who patrolled the game and circled overhead in two choppers? Or the New Jersey National Guard in their Humvees, who guarded the rail lines and stadium perimeter? Or the local police from a few dozen towns from New Milford to Millville.
– The NFL bid contract forbids host states from collecting sales tax on ticket sales, parking, luxury box sales, etc. It keeps 100 percent of the revenue, so there was no state tax benefit to offset our costs.
With their military flyovers, stars and stripes electronic banners and armed forces color guards, the NFL constantly wraps itself in the American flag.
But as a nonprofit corporation, they pay no federal taxes. Nothing for defense. Nothing for veterans’ benefits.
The NFL is a nonprofit corporation? How did that happen? Lobbyists.
What a nice gig for NFL owners:
Let’s put that in perspective: The cost of each of the 109 luxury boxes the league sold at MetLife for Sunday game was $400,000. Do the math. That’s $43,600,000, for a sliver of the stadium.
Ah. Mazing. The 1% have managed to set things up very, very nicely for themselves indeed.
Report: Fracking Raising Aater Supply Worries
The USA’s domestic energy boom is increasing demands on water supplies already under pressure from drought and growing populations, a new report says.
The water-intensive process used to extract oil and gas from shale underground — known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking — has required almost 100 billion gallons of water to drill more than 39,000 oil and shale gas wells in the U.S. since 2011, says Ceres, a green investment group.
More than half of those wells — 55% — were in drought-stricken areas, and nearly half were in regions under high or extremely high water stress, such as Texas, the report says.
Yeah, you read that right. Fracking has consumed “almost 100 billion gallons of [fresh] water” in two years and belched it out as chemical-laden toxic crap.
Watch this video, taken from a police raid in Des Moines, Iowa. Send it to some people. When critics (like me) warn about the dangers of police militarization, this is what we’re talking about. You’ll see the raid team, dressed in battle-dress uniforms, helmets and face-covering balaclava hoods take down the family’s door with a battering ram. You’ll see them storm the home with ballistics shields, guns at the ready. More troubling still, you’ll see not one but two officers attempt to prevent the family from having an independent record of the raid, one by destroying a surveillance camera, another by blocking another camera’s lens.
From the images in the video, you’d think they were looking for an escaped murderer or a house full of hit men. No, none of that. They were looking for a few people suspected of credit card fraud. None of the people they were looking for were inside of the house, nor was any of the stolen property they were looking for. They did arrest two houseguests of the family on what the news report says were unrelated charges, one for a probation violation and one for possession of illegal drugs.
So, a bank somewhere may have been ripped off via a couple two-bit fraudsters so the police, acting on their behalf, do this? I see.
Caving to Pressure from the Corporatocracy, the Oregon Legislature Refuses to Ban Toxic Chemicals From Children’s Clothing
This is the kind of insanity that occurs when politicians can be bought or sold via campaign contributions:
An effort in the Oregon Legislature to phase out arsenic, cadmium, mercury, Bisphenol A, formaldehyde and other potentially toxic chemicals from some children’s products looks on track to fail after intense lobbying from the chemical, toy and business industries.
An amendment in the works for Senate Bill 1569 would require the Oregon Health Authority to maintain a list of 66 “high priority chemicals of concern for children’s health” and would require manufacturers to disclose children’s products that contain the chemicals.
But gone is the third part of the bill that would have required, with some exceptions, a five-year phase-out of the listed chemicals in the products.
The new version of the bill is a bitter disappointment to phase-out advocates, especially after the Oregon House comfortably passed the bill last year with bipartisan support.
What a no-brainer of a law, but here we have politicians explicitly working against the interests of their constituents. Because? $$$$$$
This. Is. So. Heartless.
Whole Foods workers in Chicago walked off the job Wednesday in support of a co-worker they say was wrongly fired after staying home with “her special needs son” during last week’s polar vortex.
“We’ve been fighting for this new attendance policy that allowed for those kind of emergencies for almost a year, and we had just won it, and so she thought it’s no big deal,” Whole Foods employee Trish Kahle told Salon before going on strike. “And then when she came back to work she was fired.” Whole Foods did not respond to a Tuesday evening inquiry regarding the termination of the employee, Rhiannon Broschat. Organizers say Broschat missed work because she had no one to care for her son when public schools shut down due to the extreme weather January 28.
Bravo to those striking employees. They get it that what’s happening now isn’t worker pitted against worker or one race pitted against another, as Republicans would have us believe, but the corporatocracy pitted against all of us (as well as the planet itself).
I guarantee you won’t see this on the corporate media tonight:
Happening today at 6:33 p.m. ET:
And there’s this tidbit about We the People having the right to assemble:
I’ll say it again: I’m going to die at the right time. I knew the planet when it was relatively clean. Good luck to today’s kids. They’re going to need it. Oil/gas and coal companies (oh, and Monsanto) are destroying the only home we know, thanks to politicians who are owned by the corporatocracy.
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park — a supposedly protected natural area containing thousands of reefs, which together are visible from space and attract nearly $6 billion a year in tourism — is a pretty terrible place to dump loads of silt. But it’s happening: The federal agency that governs the reef approved plans to dump up to 3 million cubic meters of silt that will be dredged from the marine park to help carve a superhighway for tankers ferrying coal to Asia.
It’s the final piece in Australian Prime Minister (and known climate denier) Tony Abbott’s already-approved master plan to dredge the shipping lane, expand an existing coal terminal, and extensively mine the northeastern state of Queensland for coal.
Reuters reports that backers of the coal export project, including two Indian firms and the heiress to an Australian mining empire, hope to deliver an estimated $28 billion of coal to Asian markets once it’s complete.
Oh, and to everyone who has a kid under 40: Get out there and make noise if you care what their life will be like when they’re your age, not to mention your grandkids. Geezus.
On Friday, the board of directors of JPMorgan Chase voted to give CEO Jamie Dimon a raise. Not just a cost-of-living increase, but almost a doubling of his compensation. In Dimon’s case, this means his compensation jumped from $11.5 million to $20 million.
We here in the U.S. (and in most of the world) have been told repeatedly that if we don’t bail out or prop-up the too-big-to-fail banks, it will spell financial doom for all of us.
Yeah? Then why is Iceland, which told the banks to go f*ck themselves, thriving?
Iceland let its banks fail in 2008 because they proved too big to save.
Now, the island is finding crisis-management decisions made half a decade ago have put it on a trajectory that’s turned 2 percent unemployment into a realistic goal.
While the euro area grapples with record joblessness, led by more than 25 percent in Greece and Spain, only about 4 percent of Iceland’s labor force is without work. Prime MinisterSigmundur D. Gunnlaugsson says even that’s too high.
“Politicians always have something to worry about,” the 38-year-old said in an interview last week. “We’d like to see unemployment going from where it’s now — around 4 percent — to under 2 percent, which may sound strange to most other western countries, but Icelanders aren’t accustomed to unemployment.”
Of creditor claims against the banks, Gunnlaugsson says “this is not public debt and never will be.”
I looove that guy!
(The unemployment rate in the U.S. is roughly 6.7% which, of course, doesn’t count people who’ve given up looking for jobs, which is so ridiculous.)
My Tweet of the Day:
My Tweet of the Day:
The corporatocracy keeps us in a state of fear (they can control us that way), but they keep us in a state of fear of things that are less likely to harm us than it.
Have you ever watched “Animal Planet” and had the feeling that what you were watching wasn’t, at its core, about animals? Me too.
Here’s an article Mother Jones published today about that very issue:
Which leads me to my quote of the day, even though I don’t have a quote of the day category here on ye ol’ blog:
“We’re not looking to be a natural history channel,” Animal Planet group president Marjorie Kaplan told the New York Times in 2008. “We’re looking to be an entertainment destination.” The network recently aired two documentary-style programs purporting to present evidence that mermaids are real.
I don’t look to Animal Planet to be “a natural history channel” but I do look to them to be a channel that cares about animals. Read the Mother Jones article. Not only don’t they care about animals, they’re willing to kill them in order to add drama to their shows.
I guess we should take them at their word: “We’re looking to be an entertainment destination” and here in the good ol’ U.S. of A., killing animals is entertaining. Check your local listings.
When the effects of climate change really take hold, when masses of people are crossing borders trying to escape heat and drought and floods in order to find food and eek out a meager existence and when countries are fighting each other over scarce resources, you and I don’t be able to pack our millions into a suitcase and go live in an artificial shangri la away from the seething 99%, but the super-wealthy will, and those places are already being built.
New, Privatized African City Heralds Climate Apartheid: Nigeria’s Eko Atlantic augurs how the super-rich will exploit the crisis of climate change to increase inequality and seal themselves off from its impact.
t’s a sight to behold. Just off Lagos, Nigeria’s coast, an artificial island is emerging from the sea. A foundation, built of sand dredged from the ocean floor, stretches over ten kilometres. Promotional videos depict what is to come: a city of soaring buildings, housing for 250,000 people, and a central boulevard to match Paris’ Champs-Élysées and New York’s Fifth Avenue. Privately constructed, it will also be privately administered and supplied with electricity, water, mass transit, sewage and security. It is the “future Hong Kong of Africa,” anticipates Nigeria’s World Bank director.
Eko Atlantic is where you can begin to see a possible future – a vision of privatized green enclaves for the ultra rich ringed by slums lacking water or electricity, in which a surplus population scramble for depleting resources and shelter to fend off the coming floods and storms. Protected by guards, guns, and an insurmountable gully – real estate prices – the rich will shield themselves from the rising tides of poverty and a sea that is literally rising. A world in which the rich and powerful exploit the global ecological crisis to widen and entrench already extreme inequalities and seal themselves off from its impacts – this is climate apartheid.
Prepare for the elite, like never before, to use climate change to transform neighbourhoods, cities, even entire nations into heavily fortified islands. Already, around the world, from Afghanistan to Arizona, China to Cairo, and in mushrooming mega-cities much like Lagos, those able are moving to areas where they can live better and often more greenly – with better transport and renewable technologies, green buildings and ecological services. In Sao Paulo, Brazil, the super-rich – ferried above the congested city by a fleet of hundreds of helicopters – have disembedded themselves from urban life, attempting to escape from a common fate.
Here’s a video of “Eko Atlantic:”
<iframe width=”430″ height=”242″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/glYH_9lO0-0?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>
This planet is going to be an awful place to live in about 50 years, maybe less. I think of the children I know, who are two and three years old, and I dread the future for them.
(1) The corporatocracy is out of control and, (2) what price are we willing to pay to maintain our dependence on oil (never mind what fracking’s doing to us).
More crude oil was spilled in U.S. rail incidents last year than was spilled in the nearly four decades since the federal government began collecting data on such spills, an analysis of the data shows.
Including major derailments in Alabama and North Dakota, more than 1.15 million gallons of crude oil was spilled from rail cars in 2013, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
By comparison, from 1975 to 2012, U.S. railroads spilled a combined 800,000 gallons of crude oil. The spike underscores new concerns about the safety of such shipments as rail has become the preferred mode for oil producers amid a North American energy boom.
Here we are, the United States, the country that introduced the telephone to the world, and we can’t manufacture telecommunications equipment anymore.
The U.S. telecommunications industry has lost its ability to manufacture advanced telecommunications products needed by the U.S. military, according to a government committee comprised of the senior-most members of the President’s cabinet.
The U.S. position in the global telecommunications equipment market is “diminishing,” according to the Defense Production Act Committee’s Telecommunications Industrial Capability Study Group.
U.S. manufacturers of telecom equipment have been battered by the consolidation of global carriers, “market-impacting foreign-government policies and low labor costs in foreign markets,” says the committee made up of the top leaders from 17 federal agencies. “As a consequence, U.S. manufacturers face increased competition from overseas vendors and reduced profit margins.”
The shift of the U.S. telecommunications hardware industry offshore “has left the U.S. with only one domestic firm in the top tier, a few medium-sized manufacturers (annual sales exceeding $500 million), and several small vendors,” says the DPA Committee, which is operated by the DOD’s Manufacturing and Industrial Base Policy Office. “The U.S. no longer has a wireless equipment vendor capable of producing at scale.”
The result is the United States is “losing its capabilities in key equipment sectors.” There are only a few American companies left for federal agencies and universities to partner with on research and development projects aimed at developing new telecommunications technologies. And the options “to successfully translate domestic innovation into U.S. telecommunications equipment are increasingly limited,” says the group.
Here’s a fascinating confessional from a former Wall Street trader about his addiction to money and about how the perception of what a bonus or a salary should be is so out of whack in that world:
After graduation, I got a job at Bank of America, by the grace of a managing director willing to take a chance on a kid who had called him every day for three weeks. With a year of sobriety under my belt, I was sharp, cleareyed and hard-working. At the end of my first year I was thrilled to receive a $40,000 bonus. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have to check my balance before I withdrew money. But a week later, a trader who was only four years my senior got hired away by C.S.F.B. for $900,000. After my initial envious shock — his haul was 22 times the size of my bonus — I grew excited at how much money was available.
Over the next few years I worked like a maniac and began to move up the Wall Street ladder. I became a bond and credit default swap trader, one of the more lucrative roles in the business. Just four years after I started at Bank of America, Citibank offered me a “1.75 by 2” which means $1.75 million per year for two years, and I used it to get a promotion. I started dating a pretty blonde and rented a loft apartment on Bond Street for $6,000 a month.
I wanted a billion dollars. It’s staggering to think that in the course of five years, I’d gone from being thrilled at my first bonus — $40,000 — to being disappointed when, my second year at the hedge fund, I was paid “only” $1.5 million.
This morning I came across this:
ALEC Plans Massive Environmental Attack for 2014
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has a big year ahead of them, as they attempt to dismantle a slew of environmental protections from state to state. More specifically, the corporate front group is hoping to pass dirty energy friendly legislation to ease the rules for electric utilities.
From state to state, ALEC is drafting legislation that would cut renewable energy, increase dependence on coal and dismantle energy efficiency standards.
And then I remembered reading about this a few days ago:
[Colorado's "Democratic"] Governor Hickenlooper has chosen Glenn Vaad, a former state representative from Weld County, as the newest of the three-member Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Mr. Vaad is no friend of clean energy for Colorado—his voting record allied primarily with the fossil fuel industry at the expense of Colorado’s clean energy economy. Mr. Vaad is also a former high-ranking member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a powerful corporate lobbying group whose members include Koch Industries and others pushing state legislatures to turn back the clock on adoption of renewable energy in Colorado and elsewhere.
If a so-called Democratic governor is appointing “former high-ranking” members of ALEC to state boards — any board — we’re doomed. Seriously. It illustrates the fact that this isn’t about Republicans versus Democrats anymore — they’re all being corrupted — it’s about the corporatocracy and the monied class against the rest of us.
Unless this ruling, which was handed down this morning, is overturned, Internet providers will begin charging for Internet connections by website, like in cable television packages. I.e. by (1) the number of
channels websites one can access and (2) the desirability/popularity of those channels websites.
This is a very big deal:
The DC Circuit Court has issued a ruling in Verizon v. FCC that is likely the shape the very nature of the internet. At the heart of the case is how the companies that provide internet to consumers can control that flow of information. In 2010, the Federal Communications Commission put forth an order that required “network neutrality,” meaning that internet providers had to treat all packets delivered on the internet as equal. Today, a court ruled that the FCC lacks the authority to impose net neutrality on high-speed internet providers.
Without a net neutrality requirement, service providers could turn internet connections into a toll road, charging companies like Netflix or Google extra money to deliver their packets with a higher priority than others. This, in turn, could also slow down the loading of sites that couldn’t or refused to pay. The biggest fear is a “cable-ization” of the internet, where certain internet providers only provide service to certain sites, in much the way that cable channels are packaged and sold separately.