A year ago today, we joined the world in shock on learning that governments were spying on internet users around the world. Tapping internet service providers’ undersea cables, intentionally and secretly weakening encryption products, surreptitiously collecting everything from call metadata to photos sent over the internet by US citizens — nothing was off limits.
Just as troubling as the revelations themselves is the fact that since last summer, little if anything has changed. Despite a lot of rhetoric, our three branches of government in the United States have not made many concrete steps toward truly protecting citizens from unchecked government surveillance.
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Posts filed under ‘Corporatocracy’
I’m typing this post on an Apple iMac and I’m getting a bad, bad taste in my mouth. 20,000 employees — 20,000! — say Apple isn’t the hippie, cool, started-in-a-garage Zen outfit it wants us to think it is:
Apple is facing a class-action lawsuit from former employees who say the company owes them unpaid wages, according to a Re/code report.
Around 20,000 former employees from Apple’s retail and corporate divisions allege they missed breaks and meals, and did not receive their final paychecks in a timely manner.
They have filed suit in California’s Superior Court.
If 20,000 employees are complaining about being ripped off, something’s wrong. Yeah, some of them might be exaggerating but what if a third of them aren’t. That’s a lot of people.
This, from San Francisco:
Walking home from Pando’s office a few nights ago, I noticed this giant new billboard…
Its message — that minimum wage increases will lead to service workers being replaced by apps — is continued on an accompanying website — BadIdeaCA — which claims to be “holding activists accountable for minimum wage consequences.”
So who the hell pays for billboards threatening waitstaff with redundancy if they demand a living wage? A bit of digging and clicking reveals that the campaign is backed by Employment Policies Institute, the conservative lobbying group which regularly campaigns on behalf of the restaurant industry.
Followers of Pando’s Techtopus coverage might remember the Institute for one of its key advisers, Kevin Murphy, aka “the man Silicon Valley’s CEOs turn to when they want to justify screwing workers“.
The Obama administration is reopening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, approving seismic surveys using sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor.
Friday’s announcement is the first real step toward what could be a transformation in coastal states, creating thousands of jobs to support a new energy infrastructure. But it dismayed environmentalists and people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism.
The cannons create noise pollution in waters shared by whales, dolphins and turtles, sending sound waves many times louder than a jet engine reverberating through the deep every ten seconds for weeks at a time. Arguing that endangered species could be harmed was the environmental groups’ best hope for extending a decades-old ban against drilling off the U.S. Atlantic coast.
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management acknowledged that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed even as it approved opening the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida to exploration.
Is it any wonder everyone hates Comcast? No, it isn’t, because this is the kind of thing that happens — thanks to deregulation — when one of their customers calls them. They don’t care. They don’t have to. They don’t have any meaningful competition here in the U.S. and they know it so their bottom line is: F you!
Listen to these eight minutes of disrespect of a customer. (Click past the ‘Read More” to get to the audio.)
A few years ago I saw a cartoon showing what was billed as the future of air travel with people — depicted as cattle — sitting in a crowded airplane practically on top of each other. The implication was that the airline industry would continue to find ways to wring the most profit out of We the Peons as possible, never minding our discomfort or the absurdness of it all.
Welcome to the future. It’s even worse than that cartoon:
Airbus Seeks Patent for Bicycle-Like Airline Seat
How far will the airline industry go to squeeze in more passengers per plane?
The question arises after France-based Airbus Operations submitted a patent in Europe for a new passenger seat that resembles a bicycle seat with a small backrest. It has no tray table, no headrest and very little legroom.
As explained in the patent application, the invention is meant to reduce the bulk of a typical airline seat, thus allowing an airline to pack more passengers onto a plane and, presumably, increase profits.
“In effect, to increase the number of cabin seats, the space allotted to each passenger must be reduced,” the patent application states.
Each of the bicycle seats is fastened to a vertical bar, and the seats retract to increase space when not in use.
What I wonder is, what’s our breaking point when it comes to being kicked around and treated like cattle by the corporatocracy?
I’ve been to the Colorado National Monument and yes, it is breathtaking and worthy of national park status:
A more than century-old effort to transform the breathtaking Colorado National Monument into a full-fledged national park has been thwarted by a pro-fracking organization called Friends of the Colorado National Monument (FCNM).
And while the group sounds harmless enough, and professes to include hikers, bikers, ranchers, outdoor enthusiasts, and conservationists, its website includes little more than complaints about EPA air and water regulations, and the inability of the oil and gas industry to drill in national parks and the surrounding areas.
FCNM lead a petition fight against changing the monument’s status while decrying what they call “frackophobia.” The also complained that fracking is over-regulated and bemoaned the protests and legal proceedings that have taken place in Colorado in recent years. In fact, says Colorado has become “protest central when it comes to opposition to energy development.”
Democratic Senator Mark Udall and GOP Congressman Scott Tipton, both up for reelection in November, had backed the plan to change the monument to a national park in Congress. Udall says that residents seem evenly split on the plan. But after receiving a 2,500 signature petition against the plan from FCNM, Tipton backed down. Moreover, the Republican Congressman now says that he will actively oppose any plans for changing the monument into a park. Tipton now says he’s worried on how it will impact the local economy and he’s concerned over “executive-branch rulemaking,” referring to the Republican Party’s fight against President Obama using the power of executive orders.
Udall also withdrew his support for the effort, saying that there needed to be more of a consensus among Colorado residents. However, he said that he is only withdrawing for the short term, and hopes to address this question again in the future.
Udall’s facing an election in November so like a chickenshit, he’s trying to play both sides of the fence. The fracking issue is very contentious here in Colorado. Longmont, a town up the road from me, voted to ban fracking in the town limits but the governor (a Democrat) has joined with the oil companies and is suing the city to have the will of the people overturned. It’s getting real nasty around here.
Two tweets from Robert Reich who served in the Ford and Carter administration and was Bill Clinton’s Secretary of Labor:
Jamie Dimon Has Cancer: Oops, Turns Out He’s a Human Being Just Like the People He Spent His Life Ripping Off
Breaking news about Jamie Dimon, yeah, that Jamie Dimon:
You can buy the best care the world has to offer (supplemented by our tax dollars) but hey Jamie, welcome to life down here on the ground.
Police and Soldiers in Peru May Now Kill Civilians Protesting Environmental Degradation Due to Mining
I suppose we’d all better get used to this because it’s probably coming to a country near us as governments are increasingly controlled by the corporatocracy. Corporations don’t want to hear from We the Peons about how they’re destroying the planet.
If this is what a mining company was doing to forests in my area, I’d want to protest too but not at the risk of being killed by my local police department.
Ah yes, Congress working to create jobs again:
Congress Quietly Deletes a Key Disclosure of Free Trips Lawmakers Take
It’s going to be a little more difficult to ferret out which members of Congress are lavished with all-expenses-paid trips around the world after the House has quietly stripped away the requirement that such privately sponsored travel be included on lawmakers’ annual financial-disclosure forms.
The move, made behind closed doors and without a public announcement by the House Ethics Committee, reverses more than three decades of precedent. Gifts of free travel to lawmakers have appeared on the yearly financial form dating back its creation in the late 1970s, after the Watergate scandal. National Journal uncovered the deleted disclosure requirement when analyzing the most recent batch of yearly filings.
“This is such an obvious effort to avoid accountability,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “There’s no legitimate reason. There’s no good reason for it.”
Free trips paid for by private groups must still be reported separately to the House’s Office of the Clerk and disclosed there. But they will now be absent from the chief document that reporters, watchdogs, and members of the public have used for decades to scrutinize lawmakers’ finances.
Ah yes, there those Republicans go again, you know, busting their butts creating jobs:
Boehner says he’ll sue Obama over executive actionsSpeaker John Boehner said he hasn’t decided which of President Obama’s actions to name in his planned lawsuit over executive actions.
Yesterday I tweeted CenturyLink asking why YouTube videos weren’t loading. That problem began about three days ago. Here’s what CenturyLink said:
I wrote back asking who “the provider” is but haven’t heard back. I don’t know if they’ll tell me. I wonder if it’s Comcast.
This is an ad by the Indian company MTS Telecom that is meant to be funny and to speak to a time in the future but I’d say this kind of thing is essentially happening right now. Have you seen the fake smart phone toys for babies?
While recent minimum wage hikes in Seattle and Vermont are better than nothing, the trajectory at which the hikes will occur leaves me, to be polite about it, less than enthusiastic. As a matter of fact, peel back the headlines and they’re pretty pathetic. For example, Seattle’s $15 per hour increase won’t go into full effect until — wait for it — 2021. 2021. Eight years from now:
The Seattle city council voted to push up the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. If the wage hike is fully implemented, it will guarantee Seattle’s workers the nation’s highest minimum wage. The increase in the minimum wage will be phased in over a number of years. Big employers that do not provide their employees a health plan are the first that will face the $15 per hour minimum, a requirement that will be fully phased in around 2017. Large employers who offer health benefits will have to pay the $15 minimum starting in 2018. Small businesses with employees who receive tip income will have to pay the $15 per hour minimum a couple of years later, but the countable wage will include employees’ tips. By 2021 all employers in the city must offer a minimum wage of $15 an hour, regardless of the employer’s size.
That’s outrageous. By then it will be too low. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation, it would be $21.16today. It reaching $15 an hour by 2021 is a joke.
Then there’s this: Vermont Governor signs Minimum Wage Increase Law. Again, better than nothing but here are the inconvenient truths about that law: Four years — four years — to get to $10.50 an hour:
A new law that will increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour by 2018 in a series of increases beginning in two years was signed by Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday.
The new law calls for increasing the minimum wage to $9.60 in 2016, $10 in 2017 and $10.50 in 2018. The bill also calls for annual raises in the wage — tied to inflation — starting in 2019.
Knowing the details of how pitiful these hikes are when adjusted for inflation and how long they will take to implement gives new perspective to those who scream about how they will cause an end to civilization as we know it. And it makes those who are jumping up and down about how great they are look as if they take us for fools who should shut up and be grateful we’re getting a few more crumbs.
Here’s the latest on the awful crash that killed one man and critically injured three others, including comedian Tracy Morgan:
The truck driver who caused a six-car crash on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed one man and critically injured three others, including comedian Tracy Morgan, had not slept for 24 hours according to the complaint charging him with vehicular homicide.
The complaint charges that Kevin J. Roper, 35, of Georgia, was driving his tractor-trailer on the Turnpike in Cranbury early Saturday morning, “ without having slept for a period in excess of 24 hours” before he struck the 2012 Mercedes van carrying Morgan, 45, who is in critical condition at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick.
By the way, the trucker was driving a WalMart/Sam’s Club rig. Given WalMart’s reputation for horrible working conditions, I hate to think what kind of pressure he was working under.
Anyway, lookie here at what the United States Senate did last Thursday:
A Senate panel on Thursday approved an amendment that would nullify some of the federal rest requirements for truck drivers.
The amendment, which was opposed by the Obama administration and safety advocates, rolls back a requirement that drivers be given time off during specific hours of the night. The “restart requirements” were enacted in 2013 to reduce fatigue among drivers.
Specifically, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted 21-9 to rescind portions of the rules that require truck drivers to take breaks between 1 and 5 a.m. on consecutive nights before they can work again. The amendment would also undo a rule that limits truck drivers to declaring only one “restart” per week.
The amendment was sponsored by Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has been sharply criticized by transportation safety groups for the effort to change the rules.
Lawmakers were under pressure from the trucking industry and business groups to eliminate the 1 to 5 a.m. requirement and the one-restart-per-week limit because the industries said the rules resulted in drivers having to take two full days off between shifts, in some cases.
Democrats in Montana who are (1) owned by the oil and gas industry or (2) who suffer from Stockholm Syndrome and are to immature to know it and too terrified to get therapy to overcome it have got to go:
BUTTE – While the Obama administration is churning out rules to limit greenhouse gases that cause climate change, Montana Democrats on Friday resisted placing the words “climate change” in their party platform.
“We can sit here and talk about what we believe here as Democrats,” said Sen. Jim Keane, D-Butte, who argued against mentioning the costs of climate change in the platform. “I believe in the (coal) workers who work in eastern Montana, too.
A party platform committee considered the change, which would have said the party believes in protecting the environment rather than burdening future generations with the “extraordinary costs of climate-change-caused” effects, but voted against adding the climate change language.
Short-sighted, uninspired, backward-looking idiots chained to the coal lobby: A huge majority of Americans support regulating carbon from power plants. And they’re even willing to pay for it.
Do they have kids? Grandkids?
We need LEADERS.
Outrageous: Louisiana’s Republican Governor Signs Bill Blocking Lawsuits Against Oil and Gas Companies
Wow, what hutzpah and what a huge middle finger to all the people, animals, sea creatures and land damaged or destroyed by British Petroleum (BP) and oil companies past, present and future. Talk about a corporatocracy. This is just sickening. Talk about outrage overload:
Rejecting the advice of his own attorney general and dozens of legal scholars, Louisiana governor and potential presidential contender Bobby Jindal effectively blocked a New Orleans-area levee board from suing oil and gas companies for allegedly destroying the state’s coasts – and in so doing, may have also derailed state and local claims against BP for damages and tax revenue lost following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Don Briggs, president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association, was also quoted in the statement distributed by the governor’s office, hailing the measure as a “huge victory for the oil and gas industry.”
The law, SB 469, essentially bars a levee district in New Orleans’ East Bank – the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, or SLFPA-E – from pressing forward in its lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies, which it blames for exposing New Orleans to catastrophic damage from hurricanes Rita and Katrina by cutting thousands of miles of pipes and canals through sensitive barrier islands and wetlands that otherwise would have protected the coastal city.
The lawsuit, filed last summer, sought to force energy companies to restore the wetlands, fill in the canals, and pay for past damages.
“We are looking to the industry to fix the part of the problem that they created,” SLFPA-E vice president John Barry told the Times-Picayune last year. “We’re not asking them to fix everything. We only want them to address the part of the problem that they created.”
Impeach the bastard for crimes against humanity and nature. Not only that, what, he wants to use taxpayer dollars to clean-up BP’s mess? What, he probably doesn’t care about clean-up at all.
Everyone in the country, er, the world needs to know about this. This is what politicians who are owned by oil and gas companies do.
The red line is the share of income going to the 1%
The blue line is union membership.
Oh, ah, wait. Maybe not.
Despite what Republicans and their corporate masters are screaming about with regard to Obama’s proposed cuts to power plant emissions, history shows that environmental regulations do not — repeat — do not slow and/or destroy economies. They might force corporations to spend money to retrofit plants (the real reason for all the screaming) but implementing them doesn’t mark the end of life as we know it. To those of us who’ve been around for a while, that meme is as old as dirt.
From Peter Gleick:
BTW, a huge majority of Americans support regulations like the ones proposed.
Hey parents, the corporatocracy is tracking your kid — big time — beginning in kindergarten:
The NSA has nothing on the ed tech startup known as Knewton.
The data analytics firm has peered into the brains of more than 4 million students across the country. By monitoring every mouse click, every keystroke, every split-second hesitation as children work through digital textbooks, Knewton is able to find out not just what individual kids know, but how they think. It can tell who has trouble focusing on science before lunch — and who will struggle with fractions next Thursday.
Even as Congress moves to rein in the National Security Agency, private-sector data mining has galloped forward — perhaps nowhere faster than in education. Both Republicans and Democrats have embraced the practice. And the Obama administration has encouraged it, even relaxing federal privacy law to allow school districts to share student data more widely.
I just set up a new category, Global Warming is Here, because I’m reading about lots of “little” things that are happening right now that add up to already-big, imho, ramifications. I.e., the cascading decline of the Earth’s systems has begun in earnest.
Take this for example (so, so sad — way to go humans!):
The new poster child for climate change had his coming-out party in June 2012, when Petey the puffin chick first went live into thousands of homes and schools all over the world. The “Puffin Cam“ capturing baby Petey’s every chirp had been set up on Maine’s Seal Island by Stephen Kress, “The Puffin Man,” who founded the Audubon Society’s Project Puffin in 1973.
Puffin parents dote on their single chick, sheltering it in a two-foot burrow beneath rocky ledges and bringing it piles of small fish each day. Researchers would get to watch live puffin feeding behavior for the first time, and schoolkids around the world would be falling for Petey.
But Kress soon noticed that something was wrong. Puffins dine primarily on hake and herring, two teardrop-shaped fish that have always been abundant in the Gulf of Maine. But Petey’s parents brought him mostly butterfish, which are shaped more like saucers. Kress watched Petey repeatedly pick up butterfish and try to swallow them. The video is absurd and tragic, because the butterfish is wider than the little gray fluff ball, who keeps tossing his head back, trying to choke down the fish, only to drop it, shaking with the effort. Petey tries again and again, but he never manages it. For weeks, his parents kept bringing him butterfish, and he kept struggling. Eventually, he began moving less and less. On July 20, Petey expired in front of a live audience.
Kress assumed [Petey's parents] were just unlucky. Then he checked the other 64 burrows he was tracking: Only 31 percent had successfully fledged. He saw dead chicks and piles of rotting butterfish everywhere. “That,” he says, “was the epiphany.”
Herring and hake had dramatically declined in the waters surrounding Seal Island, and by August, Kress had a pretty good idea why: The water was much too hot.
Here’s the video of poor Petey trying to swallow a butterfish. It is 1.08 minutes long and is condensed from video of Petey’s attempt to swallow the fish over the course of — get this — three hours.
<iframe width=”430″ height=”242″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/_tdO72TFXz0?rel=0″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>
Are you banking at one of the 20 banks with the highest fees? Check the list out here: The 20 Banks That Earn The Most In Fees.
We moved our money from Wells Fargo (7th on the list) to a credit union about six years ago and we’ve saved a ton in fees since.
I swear, guys like Bloomberg are legends in their own mind, divorced from reality, living in billion dollar bubbles.
Talk about dumbed down. Geezus. I’m thinking he might be delusional.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become increasingly crowded with branded accounts seeking their attention. Every few seconds, your favorite brands are tweeting at you.
But what most people don’t know is how much time and effort goes into curating these accounts, writing tweets, and filling your news feed with content people actually want to see. For instance, it can take a team of 13 social media and advertising specialists up to 45 days to plan, create, approve, and publish one corporate social media post.
The sickening side of Memorial Day is when the corporatocracy — in this case Bank of America — send out nauseating tweets like this one:
Undoubtedly BoA is really, really hoping we don’t remember this from April last year: Bank Of America To Pay $36.8 Million To Military Members For Improper Foreclosures.
Insofar as I live in Colorado, which just legalized marijuana, this article jumped out at me this morning: No Irrigation Water for Marijuana Crops, Feds Rule.
Delivering a blow to pot growers in Washington state and Colorado, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation said Tuesday that it won’t allow any federally controlled water to be used on marijuana crops because Congress has banned the drug.
“As a federal agency, Reclamation is obligated to adhere to federal law in the conduct of its responsibilities to the American people,” said Dan DuBray, the agency’s chief of public affairs.
The ruling makes clear that the Obama administration is willing to set limits on the states’ legalization experiments, even though the Justice Department said in August that it wouldn’t block their plans to tax and sell the drug.
Now I’m waiting for the feds to make it clear to oil and gas companies they can’t use irrigation water for fracking. I know. Funny, huh?
Watch Brave New Films’ Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition here at 4:15 p.m. MST (6:15 EST). It’s free and I’m sure it will be mind-blowing.
Check out what corporate-owned Republicans in North Carolina are doing. The chemicals used by the fracking industry must be terrifying if they’re going to this length to keep them secret:
As hydraulic fracturing ramps up around the country, so do concerns about its health impacts. These concerns have led 20 states to require the disclosure of industrial chemicals used in the fracking process.
North Carolina isn’t on that list of states yet—and it may be hurtling in the opposite direction.
On Thursday, three Republican state senators introduced a bill that would slap a felony charge on individuals who disclosed confidential information about fracking chemicals. The bill, whose sponsors include a member of Republican party leadership, establishes procedures for fire chiefs and health care providers to obtain chemical information during emergencies. But as the trade publication Energywire noted Friday, individuals who leak information outside of emergency settings could be penalized with fines and several months in prison.
“The felony provision is far stricter than most states’ provisions in terms of the penalty for violating trade secrets,” says Hannah Wiseman, a Florida State University assistant law professor who studies fracking regulations.
The bill also allows companies that own the chemical information to require emergency responders to sign a confidentiality agreement. And it’s not clear what the penalty would be for a health care worker or fire chief who spoke about their experiences with chemical accidents to colleagues.
Amazing. The citizens of North Carolina pay these guys’ salary but these state senators are blatantly and flagrantly working against the wellbeing of the very people who voted them into office and again, who pay them to ah, work for them not against them. Thomas Jefferson must be twirling in his grave.