Posts filed under ‘Corporatocracy’
I like quizzes so I took the one over at Food and Water Watch asking, “What Are They Feeding Your Food?”
I “scored” a 68%.
What shocked me most was I was right in my guesstimation that 80% of the antibiotics administered in the United States are fed to the animals we eat. Thus, they’re fed to us.
So disturbing and maddening given articles like this, End of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Could be Possible, that we’ve been reading for years.
I’m so glad Washington isn’t messing around with stupid stuff and that they’re ON IT!
The best quote yet on the shutdown comes from Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA):
“In a democracy, hostage tactics are the last resort for those who can’t otherwise win their fights through elections, can’t win their fights in Congress, can’t win their fights for the Presidency, and can’t win their fights in Courts,” Warren said. “For this right-wing minority, hostage-taking is all they have left – a last gasp of those who cannot cope with the realities of our democracy.”
Wow. I hadn’t heard about the NRA-sponsored NBC show “Under Wild Skies” until today. It features NRA proponents shuttled into “wild” hunting grounds so they and shoot innocent animals in the face from just feet away.
Wanna see an elephant get blown away? Go here.
The show makes it all about gun:
“Positively lethal. Great to handle. Beautiful gun. And the 577 was made to shoot ivory.”
“Made to shoot ivory?” Behind that “ivory” is a sentient being with a life and a family.
This goes in my Outrage Overload category.
Oh, and just hours ago NBC canceled the show. But what were they thinking when they debuted it? Hey, I know. They were PAID BY THE F’ING NRA.
Geezus America. You’re losing your mind!!!!!
Wow. I just learned about the film: “GMO OMG.”
“The corn we see growing around here is actually registered as a pesticide?”
“But it’s also a food?”
“Well, that’s debatable.”
Gotta see it. Watch the trailer here.
And then there’s this: The idiots in D.C. want to grant Monsanto immunity from lawsuits stemming from their GMO seeds, kinda like they granted gun manufacturers protection from lawsuits stemming from deaths and injuries caused by their guns:
On Friday, Sept 20th, the House passed a Continuing Resolution (H.J.RES.59) that contains the same Monsanto Protection Act that it passed last spring! We need your help to stop it in the Senate, which will vote this week! While the previous continuing resolution was scheduled to expire on September 30th, the new bill contains the exact same language that offers Monsanto and their GMO crops protection from judicial oversight and forces the USDA to allow the planting of untested GMO crops without proper scientific or regulatory review.
Wow. Just wow. And no, I am not making any of this up. This is the actual title of an op-ed that appears in Forbes this morning. This crowd is u-n-b-e-l-i-e-v-a-b-l-e:
Give Back? Yes, It’s Time For The 99% To Give Back To The 1%
It’s time to gore another collectivist sacred cow. This time it’s the popular idea that the successful are obliged to “give back to the community.” That oft-heard claim assumes that the wealth of high-earners is taken away from “the community.” And beneath that lies the perverted Marxist notion that wealth is accumulated by “exploiting” people, not by creating value–as if Henry Ford was not necessary for Fords to roll off the (non-existent) assembly lines and Steve Jobs was not necessary for iPhones and iPads to spring into existence.
Here’s a modest proposal. Anyone who earns a million dollars or more should be exempt from all income taxes. Yes, it’s too little. And the real issue is not financial, but moral. So to augment the tax-exemption, in an annual public ceremony, the year’s top earner should be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Imagine the effect on our culture, particularly on the young, if the kind of fame and adulation bathing Lady Gaga attached to the more notable achievements of say, Warren Buffett. Or if the moral praise showered on Mother Teresa went to someone like Lloyd Blankfein, who, in guiding Goldman Sachs toward billions in profits, has done infinitely more for mankind.
Here’s a tweet Bill Gross, the founder of the investment firm PIMCO, sent out this morning. That he would have no problem tweeting — i.e., stating publicly — that the opinion of the American people doesn’t matter, shows just how ensconced in the 1% he is. Truly ghastly and horrifyingly revealing.
Time to get the cake out.
Per OpenSecrets.org: No wonder congress is silent when it comes to Obama’s plans to bomb Syria. Checkout how much defense contractors have spent on lobbying so far this year. Unbelievable:
This is a screenshot and I know it’s impossible to read. Go here for a larger version.
The top spot? Lockheed Martin at $7,636,496 (in the first eight months of the year!). Total defense/aerospace lobbying in 2013? Are you sitting down? $29,604,490. That would be $29,604,490.
Lowest of the low:
Darryl Layne Woods, the former CEO of a Missouri bank, admitted in court yesterday to using financial crisis bailout funds to purchase a luxury waterfront condo in Florida…
In November 2008, Woods, 48, who was the head of Mainstreet Bank and the bank’s holding company Calvert Financial Corporation, applied for TARP money on behalf of his bank…
In January 2009, his bank received $1,037,000. A month later, he used $381,487 of it to buy a place in Fort Myers, Florida.
Woods is no longer allowed to work in the banking industry, according to the release. He also faces a sentence of up to one year in federal prison without parole and a fine of up to $100,000 plus restitution.
My Tweet of the Day:
Defense contractors stand to make a bunch of moolah so hey, if we want to save money, let’s cut people’s pensions instead!
This is the most depressing thing I’ve read all day:
One of the first cases the Supreme Court will consider in its next session is whether to allow millions, perhaps billions, more dollars into the U.S. political system.
That may seem like a joke considering that more than $6 billion was pumped into last year’s elections. A flood of special-interest money, courtesy of rulings by Chief Justice John Roberts’s court, led to a campaign that many found depressing.
The issue that will be argued Oct. 8 is whether to remove the almost four-decade limit on the aggregate amounts any contributor can give directly to candidates and parties for federal elections in a single cycle. There are no limits now on independent expenditures or money given to political action committees, creating what critics call a system of legalized indirect bribery.
Until now, the high court has consistently upheld limits on direct contributions to candidates for federal office or political parties. If the court reverses these precedents, the impact on campaign spending and influence-peddling would be considerable.
“The consequences could be worse than Citizen United,” says Fred Wertheimer, the president of Democracy 21 who has been a tireless advocate for campaign-finance reform for 40 years.
What with Citizens United I figured we could kiss our democracy good-bye. If SCOTUS rules in favor of this change, well, I’ll just say that I’m glad I won’t be around to see what this place looks like in 30 years.
Great article here about how elite America respects and honors contracts with the likes of Morgan Stanley but as for pensioners? Not so much.
The debate over public pensions clearly shows the contempt that the elites have for ordinary workers. While elites routinely preach the sanctity of contract when it works to benefit the rich and powerful, they are happy to treat the contracts that provide workers with pensions as worthless scraps of paper.
We see this attitude on display currently in the Detroit bankruptcy proceedings. It is even more clearly on display in efforts by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to default on the city’s pension obligations.
The basic story in both cases is that the contracts that workers had labored under are being laughed at by the elites because they find it inconvenient to carry through with the terms. In the case of Detroit, public sector workers face the loss of much of their pension as a result of the city’s effort to declare bankruptcy.
These workers could be forgiven for laboring under the illusion that they would see the pensions for which they worked. These obligations were actually guaranteed under the state’s constitution.
Contracts with Wall Street types always seem to draw more respect than contracts with workers. Folks may recall that when AIG was bankrupt and effectively a ward of the government, we were told by the Obama administration (where Emanuel was then chief of staff), that it had to pay out $165 million in bonuses to its senior staff. Many of the AIG employees, who had taken the company into bankruptcy, pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars from these bonuses.
By contrast, the pensions for Detroit’s retirees average just over $18,000 a year. That means many AIG executives got a larger bonus from their bankrupt company in 2009 than Detroit workers will collect over their whole retirement. (Chicago’s average pension is somewhat higher at $33,500, but workers do not get Social Security, an important fact left out of most reporting.)
So there is a clear lesson on morality in modern America. Contracts are sacred when respecting them works to the benefit of the rich and powerful. Contracts that imply obligations to workers, like pension commitments, are a joke. Got that?
Outrageous. Another indication of the divide in American society between the haves and the have nots.
Eric Holder Vows ‘Significant’ Financial Crisis Prosecutions Against Banks
Wall Street should brace for “significant” civil or criminal charges from the Department of Justice (DOJ), according to Attorney General Eric Holder. The promise comes amid intensifying criticism of the DOJ’s financial enforcement decisions.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, the nation’s top law enforcement official refused to give specifics about what sort of charges his department will be filing and would not discuss the number or type of cases he expects to pursue.
What? Is Obama suddenly worried about this legacy?
Maybe, in the end, climate change deniers and pro-gun fanatics in the GOP will come to their senses if they get push back like this from their beloved “free market capitalists:”
Two Insurance Industry Reports Expose the Right’s Broken Logic on Gun Control and Environmentalism
[W]hat happens when the insurance industry so touted by the conservative movement starts saying things that wholly contradict that movement’s talking points?
This is the unanswered question posed by two new insurance-related reports that expose the bankruptcy of the right’s environmental extremism and its opposition to gun control.
The first comes from the insurance industry’s official think tank, the Geneva Association. Rejecting conservatives’ opposition to the fight against climate change, the organization issued a study documenting “a significant upward trend in the insured losses caused by extreme weather events.” It concluded that the insurance industry should fight back against the conservative movement’s attempts to downplay climate change fears and “play an active role in raising awareness of risk and climate change.” It also called for a “transition to a low-carbon economy” and “the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” because that “will ultimately create a more resilient society.”
Then came a dispatch from the Des Moines Register, which reported that the company insuring most Kansas schools “has refused to renew coverage for schools that permit teachers and custodians to carry concealed firearms on their campuses.” The announcement was a rebuke to a new Kansas law that responded to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre by permitting gun owners to carry firearms in schools.
Yo, Americans, guess what? Thanks to our corporate-owned lawmakers, our tax dollars are being used to subsidize a little airport in Arkansas that just happens to be home to, and used primarily by, the 20-jet corporate fleet of jets belonging to Walmart.
U.S. taxpayers are increasingly picking up the tab for the control tower at an airport that’s home to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT)’s corporate fleet, at a time lawmakers say they want to ban perks for hometown interests.
Language inserted into a spending bill two years ago spared the world’s biggest company by revenue from losing taxpayer-funded controllers to guide its approximately 20 jets based in Rogers, Arkansas, near its Bentonville headquarters.
The measure was championed by two Arkansas lawmakers — Republican Representative Steve Womack and Democratic Senator Mark Pryor — whose biggest donors include Wal-Mart employees. Taxpayers were left responsible for a higher share of costs of operating the Rogers tower than called for by U.S. guidelines for low-traffic airports.
Another reason why we have to get this whole fracking thing under control before we go any farther:
Don Feusner ran dairy cattle on his 370-acre slice of northern Pennsylvania until he could no longer turn a profit by farming. Then, at age 60, he sold all but a few Angus and aimed for a comfortable retirement on money from drilling his land for natural gas instead.
It seemed promising. Two wells drilled on his lease hit as sweet a spot as the Marcellus shale could offer – tens of millions of cubic feet of natural gas gushed forth. Last December, he received a check for $8,506 for a month’s share of the gas.
Then one day in April, Feusner ripped open his royalty envelope to find that while his wells were still producing the same amount of gas, the gusher of cash had slowed. His eyes cascaded down the page to his monthly balance at the bottom: $1,690.
Chesapeake Energy, the company that drilled his wells, was withholding almost 90 percent of Feusner’s share of the income to cover unspecified “gathering” expenses and it wasn’t explaining why.
“They said you’re going to be a millionaire in a couple of years, but none of that has happened,” Feusner said. “I guess we’re expected to just take whatever they want to give us.”
I’m going to fast forward to the last two paragraphs. The article is quite long and I’m leaving a lot out:
Even if a gas company were found liable for underpaying royalties in Pennsylvania, it would have little to fear. It would owe only the amount it should have paid in the first place; unlike Oklahoma and other states, Pennsylvania law does not allow for any additional interest on unpaid royalties and sets a very high bar for winning punitive penalties.
“They just wait to see who challenges them, they keep what they keep, they give up what they lose,” said Root, the NARO chapter president. “It may just be part of their business decision to do it this way.”
This is outrageous. As usual, the oil and gas companies’ lobbyists — with the help of local, state and federal lawmakers — have paved the way for a very good life for them. As for We the People? Not so much.
This is the future if we keep fracking:
Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.
“The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes,” she said, blinking back tears. “I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind.”
Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.
Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers.
They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells,” Owens said.
The hubby and I have never, ever purchased a brand new car, until April, when we did. We bought a 2013 Nissan Sentra.
Our first “new” car — circa 1975 — was a Volvo. We bought it for $50.00.
All of our “new” cars since then have been used. Why pay for a new car when it loses half its value the second you drive it off the lot, right?
True, but my new caveat is: Don’t buy a new car until you’ve seen the crash test results.
Nissan: I’m pissed at myself for trusting you. I’m a fool. This car was going to be our last car ever and now all I can think of when I drive it is how the dummies in these crash test results look. As in, dead.
Can’t we count on something more than a teensy weensy bit of built-in safety from you guys without the big bad government stepping in? Guess not.
So, does the D.C. police establishment think that a group that’s pushing to close Bangladeshi sweat shops is a terrorist group or something? I think so:
Rumors have flown for many years that DC police routinely infiltrate and spy on the frequent protests in the nation’s Capitol. But until now, activists have never been able to identify a specific undercover cop at a protest. Now, after months of piecing together evidence, attorneys Jeffrey Light and Sean Canavan working with United Students Against Sweatshop (USAS) have confirmed that under an assumed name, Metro police officer Nicole Rizzi has participated in USAS protests against companies doing business in Bangladesh who refuse to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh following the death of as many as 1,129 workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse.
USAS and its lawyers have numerous pieces of evidence placing Rizzi at protests under a pseudonym. District of Columbia Public Employee Information List records obtained by In These Times confirm that Rizzi has been on the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) force since December of 2003.
USAS filed suit on Monday against the District of Columbia seeking an injunction to stop police from spying on the group’s activities.
Are the cops infiltrating Goldman Sachs to figure out how they’re potentially creating bubbles that will crash the economy next or are they following Clarence Thomas’ wife, Jenny, around looking into her (and her husband’s) incredible conflict of interest in the “work” she’s doing?
Probably not. But they have time, and an apparent fear of, a group that is trying to put an end to sweat shops in Bangladesh?
Remember this from just three months ago: Search of Collapsed Bangladesh Building Ends With 1,127 Found Dead? Yep. If you’re the powers that be, It’s pretty subversive to try to stop that from happening again. After all, the corporatocracy might have to spend real money on safety measures and we wouldn’t want that now would we?
The way things are supposed to work around here is that governors are supposed to represent the people of their state, not five corporations:
Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill that would have let victims of wage discrimination sue in state court after receiving letters against the measure from the Texas Retailers Association and five of its members, mostly grocery stores, according to records obtained by the Houston Chronicle.
Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, who authored HB 950 mirroring the federal Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, said she unaware that the group and the businesses opposed her bill, or that they sought a gubernatorial veto.
Among the businesses advocating for a veto was Kroger Food Stores.
“I shop at Kroger’s for my groceries,” Thompson said. “I shopped there just last week. I’m going to have to go to HEB now. I am really shocked.”
Also writing to seek a veto were representatives of Macy’s, the Houston grocery company Gerland Corp., Brookshire Grocery Company, Market Basket, the Texas Association of Business and the National Federation of Independent Businesses.
The letters to Perry provide a behind-the-scene glimpse of the legislative process. Entities such as the Texas Retailers Association can seek a gubernatorial veto without the knowledge of sponsors. Thompson and her Senate counterpart, Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, say they were blind-sided by Perry’s veto and the retailers’ opposition.
Veteran Austin lobbyist Bill Miller said seeking a gubernatorial veto is a common lobby tactic. “That’s a smart play. You don’t fade [sic] the heat (by publicly opposing a bill) on the front end and you win on the back end.” He said that, except for the Chronicle’s open records request, “no one would be the wiser. You do what you gotta do to protect your client.”
To say we’ve lost our way is an understatement.
There was a march against Chevron and fracking in Richmond, California today:
The police, who we pay, with our tax dollars, protected Chevron:
Look at those Darth Vader-like guys.
This is what the militarization of America’s police force looks like.
Twitter is under increasing pressure from governments around the world to release user’s private information, with requests rising 40 percent in the first six months of the year, the microblogging company said Wednesday in its semi-annual transparency report.
The United States made three-quarters of the 1,157 data requests during the six-month period, according to the San Francisco-based company’s report.
Efforts to censor Twitter content have also risen sharply, the company said.
“Over the last six months, we have gone from withholding content in two countries to withholding content (ranging from hate speech to defamation) in seven countries,” said Twitter legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel.
I’m all for curbing hate speech but the problem with that is who decides what hate speech is? My hate speech might not be your hate speech.
Wow. A chart showing passenger car registrations in Greece, 1960 – 2013:
A jury Friday awarded an Oregon woman $18.6 million after she spent two years unsuccessfully trying to get Equifax Information Services to fix major mistakes on her credit report.
The judgement [sic], likely to be appealed, appears to be one of the largest awarded to a consumer in a case against one of the nation’s major credit bureaus.
Julie Miller of Marion County, who was awarded $18.4 million in punitive and $180,000 in compensatory damages, contacted Equifax eight times between 2009 and 2011 in an effort to correct inaccuracies, including erroneous accounts and collection attempts, as well as a wrong Social Security number and birthday. Yet over and over, the lawsuit alleged, the Atlanta-based company failed to correct its mistakes.
A Federal Trade Commission study earlier this year of 1,001 consumers who reviewed 2,968 of their credit reports found 21 percent contained errors.
There’s some fury from the jury in this judgment. Oh, and it’s “likely to be appealed?” You bet it is. Equifax has lawyers on staff who do nothing but. No way will Equifax pay the sum the jury ordered. (They don’t believe in that quaint saying: The jury has spoken.)
Too bad there aren’t really high “statutory fines”* for screwing over We the People like Equifax did here, kinda like there are really low “statutory fines” for companies like Halliburton who destroy evidence and get an imperceptable slap on the pinky.
* Nobody’s advocating for We the People anymore because the folks who make the laws and decide what the “statutory fines” should be are owned by gosh, golly, gee: the corporatocarcy!
Woohoo. USA! USA! USA!
Halliburton has agreed to plead guilty to destroying evidence related to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the US department of justice said on Thursday.
The government said Halliburton’s guilty plea was the third by a company over the spill and would require the world’s second-largest oilfield services company to pay a maximum US$200,000 statutory fine.
Gee. I wonder if lobbyists were involved in making sure that the “statutory fine” for destroying evidence was only $200,000 because $200,000 can’t even be called a slap on the wrist to most large companies.
Last week they reported their second quarter (not yearly) income:
Halliburton (HAL) is reporting an 8 percent decline in second-quarter profits and revenue also declined in North America, but it edged out Wall Street expectations and shares are up in premarket trading.
The oilfield services provider reported net income of $679 million, or 73 cents per share, on Monday. A year ago, earnings were $737 million, or 79 cents per share.
So I’m sure they’re wondering where they’re going to come up with the money and learn their lesson and never destroy evidence again. Oh, wait, no they aren’t:
Check out Scott Walker’s thugs (i.e., the Wisconsin Capitol Police who will themselves be on the picket line one day if the financial situation in Wisconsin doesn’t improve) drag away a peaceful vet and simultaneously stomp on the American flag.
Too bad the cops don’t realize the protestors are on their side.
After illegally declaring the peaceful demonstration an “unlawful assembly” the Wisconsin Capitol police sent out waves of officers to forcefully arrest singers petitioning their government. This video shows the illegal arrest of a USMC Vietnam vet who was standing silently in the rotunda and wasn’t under arrest when he was accused of resisting and arrested.
My Tweet of the Day:
Dean Baker over at the Center for Economic and Policy Research makes a great point here:
In the last few weeks Edward Snowden has been holed [sic] in Moscow’s airport trying to negotiate terms of asylum with various countries around the world. Thus far it doesn’t seem that Snowden has been able to find any acceptable offers.
Part of the reason is that the United States government has been openly threatening governments that are considering offering asylum, warning of dire consequences. Governments throughout the world take these threats seriously.
In fact, governments take threats from the United States very seriously. France and Portugal both broke with international conventions a few weeks back and refused to allow Bolivia President Evo Morales to use their airspace because the Obama administration had heard rumors that Snowden was on board his plane.
Clearly when something matters to the United States government, it is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to get what it wants. And even relatively powerful countries like France quickly bow to its wishes, even when it means breaking with well-established international protocols.
Now let’s get back to Edward Snowden’s efforts to get asylum. Apparently there is a lot that the United States can and will do to prevent sovereign countries from granting him asylum. Does anyone really believe that if the United States used just a fraction of the same power to persuade the Cayman Islands or some other country not to set itself up as a tax haven, that it would be met with a stonewall?
This is absurd. If countries are allowed to act as tax havens against a financial speculation tax or any other measure it is because the administration in Washington is content to let them act as tax havens. When it actually wants something to happen, the Obama administration, like its predecessors, is prepared to do a full Snowden. And in nearly every case, it will get what it wants.
So, through its silence, the U.S. government condones the use of overseas tax havens by the corporatocracy and the rich.
Oy. It’s Friday and I’d just as soon bury my head in the sand but as always, I can’t.
If you can’t either, check this out:
This is a new one:
For the second time in a week, a Drone has been destroyed at Tyndall Air Force Base [Florida].
The latest crash came Wednesday morning around 8:25 when the drone crashed alongside US 98 in the Silver Flag area on the east side of the base.
Eye witnesses say the QF 4 drone crashed while taking off, exploded and sent up a large black cloud.
Base and local police and safety officials have closed Highway 98 and are anticipating that it will remain closed for up to 24 hours.
So, I guess the one thing to be said about the (creepy) teeny tiny drones they’re working on,
is that they won’t be such a hazard or make a big mess when they crash.