Posts filed under ‘Corporatocracy’
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.
In 2007, then-Senator Barack Obama said,
he would make net neutrality a priority, saying he was a “strong supporter” of the principle, and that having a two-tiered Internet “destroys one of the best things about the Internet—which is that there is this incredible equality there.” And in 2008, as President-elect, he said, “I will take a backseat to no one in my commitment to network neutrality.”
So where is Obama now that the issue of net neutrality is on the table? He’s nowhere to be found:
Net Neutrality-Defender Barack Obama Missing in Action
Following much-criticized FCC proposal advanced Thursday, president who said “he would take back seat to no one’ on net neutrality is nowhere to be found.
As a president who has professed to be a staunch supporter of net neutrality, Obama must voice his opposition to the proposal just advanced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a group advocating for an open Internet charges.
On Thursday, the Commission voted for a proposal that, as Michael Weinberg, Vice President at Public Knowledge, stated, “falls well short of real net neutrality rules. It would create a two-tier internet where ‘commercially reasonable’ discrimination is allowed on any connections that exceed an unknown ‘minimum level of access’ defined by the FCC.”
“A two-tier internet is anathema to a truly open internet,” he added.
Oh, and the Chair of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, was appointed by Obama. He’s a former cable-industry lobbyist, which is encouraging too of course (not).
This is illustrative of the unmitigated sense of power governments have these days, i.e., they don’t give a damn what We the Little People think.
This is a shot of an adviser to Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan kicking a man in Soma yesterday. The man was taking part in a protest over the death of 300-some miners killed in an explosion earlier this week. There has been a lot of talk there about how miners and their families have felt unsafe for years.
So when we see a government official kick someone who’s concerned about that and protesting that and hoping to make things better, we get the message loud and clear as to whose side the government’s on — as in — not the miners.
If we don’t maintain Net Neutrality there very well may come a day when you or your kids click on a site and see this:
Don’t know what Net Neutrality is? Here’s Net Neutrality 101. In a teeny tiny nutshell: The telecos want to undo Net Neutrality and treat the internet like cable TV. Sites that pay (think mega-corporations and billionaires) will be super fast and easy to find whereas sites belonging to small businesses and everyday cake eaters like me will be s-l-0-w as molasses. Which way we go is being decided by the FCC right now. Literally. Today.
If you have time and are so inclined, contact the FCC and tell them,
N O !
And it’s no wonder. Look where they’re itching to drill:
This is where and how they’ll put the final dagger in the Earth’s heart.
Larger version here.
This sounds awful:
Crews sopped up the remains of about 10,000 gallons of crude oil that sprayed into Los Angeles streets and onto buildings early Thursday after a high-pressure pipe burst.
A geyser of crude spewed 20 feet high over approximately half a mile at about 12:15 a.m. and was knee-high in some parts of the industrial area of Atwater Village before the oil line was remotely shut off, said Fire Capt. Jaime Moore.
A handful of commercial businesses near the border of Glendale was affected, as well as a strip club that was evacuated.
Firefighters and hazardous materials crews responded. Several roads were closed.
Four people at a medical business were evaluated with respiratory complaints, and two people were transferred to a hospital, Moore said.
Here are photos:
Good ad by ROCUnited, an organization whose mission is to: Improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s 10 million restaurant workers.
President Obama is holed up in the D.C./White House bubble, and has been for lo the the last six years, but one would hope and think he’d appoint advisers who are in touch with reality and with the pulse of his party. I mean, there is an election coming up.
But no. This is so shockingly tone-deaf:
What. Are. They. Thinking?
Oh, and btw, Obama went to Walmart to promote solar energy. If you’re like me, you’re shaking your head. Walmart = solar energy? Really?
The most Republican-leaning company in the country, based on political donations, isn’t Koch Industries. It’s the company that makes Wonder Bread.
The political action committee of Flowers Foods, a Georgia company that produces the pillowy sandwich bread, Tastykakes and Nature’s Own baked goods, has given more than 99 percent of its political contributions since 1979 to Republicans. Only three Democratic congressional candidates have gotten money from its PAC since 1984, and not one in the past 20 years.
Flower Foods? Really? Love that catchy name. It reminds me of “Freedom Works,” as in freedom works for the 1%.
No little puppies tonight, unfortunately:
[Chris] Christie’s Lawyers Billed More Than $1 Million In January Alone. And guess who’s paying the bill? You got it! New Jersey taxpayers.
My gut feeling is that Christie is about as corrupt as they get. Mafioso-like.
This one has me SMDH. I don’t get it. Are Democrats sitting back, tuning out and thinking since Obama’s in the White House they don’t have to pay attention? Geezus. Really:
And then there’s this beautiful photo from NASA that speaks to how fragile our atmosphere is:
Earth’s Atmospheric Layers
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative so-called think tank (as in the American Taliban). Check out this flash from Politico’s Dylan Byers about its new venture:
The Heritage Foundation, a powerful right-wing think tank, is planning to launch a new news service that will cater to a conservative audience, sources familiar with the organization’s plans told POLITICO on Wednesday.
Heritage will officially announce the project on Thursday in an embargoed report by Bloomberg News, the sources said.
I’m thinking this “new news service” should be in quotes because the Heritage Foundation’s “new news service” won’t be a “new news service” at all. It will be a well-funded propaganda bomb. So yo, Dylan, think about practicing journalism if you call yourself a journalist.
This is my hair-on-fire headline of the day:
Los Angeles Now Spending More on Wall Street Fees Than on Maintaining Roads
Los Angeles councilman Paul Koretz has called for banks NY Mellon and Dexia to return $65 million in “unfair profits and termination payments” they received between 2008 and 2014. This follows a report (embedded below) revealing that the city spent more than $200 million in fees to Wall Street in 2013 alone. Koretz says he may push the city to take punitive action against the financial institutions involved if they do not renegotiate the deal.
The report, published by the union-backed Fix LA Coalition, notes that “the City of Los Angeles last year spent more on Wall Street fees than it did on our streets.” Indeed, the report notes the city “paid Wall Street $204 million in fees, spending only $163 million on the Bureau of Street Services.”
The fees are connected to the controversial interest-rate-swap deal cemented by Los Angeles in 2006. It is a deal similar to those engineered by Wall Street in cities across the country. Those deals have made headlines in recent years in some of the country’s most high-profile municipal budget crises.
For instance, a recent study by former Goldman Sachs investment banker Wallace Turbeville found that an interest-rate swap deal was a primary driver of Detroit’s fiscal crisis. Noting that the banks used the city’s bankruptcy to demand “upwards of $250-350 million in swap termination payments,” Turbeville concluded that “a strong case can be made that the banks that sold these swaps may have breached their ethical, and possibly legal, obligations to the city in executing these deals.”
This is what happens when city employees are charged with signing 200-page contracts with Wall Street firms that are written in legalese in tiny fonts. The Wall Street firms are the only ones who know exactly what they say.
These two headlines pretty much say it all about the United States’ two-tiered legal system i.e., one for the rich and one for the rest of us:
● ● ● ● ● ● ● ●
The last sentence here is the killer:
You probably wouldn’t knowingly eat a substance known to induce death in human cells. But that’s what millions of people are doing every day, even when they’re enjoying foods with “natural” on the label.
Norwegian scientists just published a new study that will appear in the June issue of Food Technology showing high levels of glyphosate—the active weed-killing chemical in Roundup—are turning up in genetically engineered (GE) soy. That herbicide-laced soy winds up in thousands of nonorganic packaged foods and in animal feed for livestock like pigs, cows, chickens, and turkeys.
Why is this happening? Genetically engineered crops are manipulated in a way that could never occur in nature so plants like corn, soy, canola, cotton, and sugar beets can withstand high doses of glyphosate-containing herbicides that would normally kill them. The result? Roundup in food that people and farm animals eat.
As more and more weeds become resistant to glyphosate and GE technology fails, farmers spray heavier glyphosate applications—and more often. Glypshoate is systemic, meaning it’s take up inside of the plant. As nonorganic farmers crank up glyphosate use, the Environmental Protection Agency has been slowly increasing allowable levels of glyphosate in food.
So, Monsanto’s Roundup is doing a number on the planet and, here in the U.S. at least, the so-called Environmental (cough) “Protection” (cough) Agency is enabling them.
The corporations really do run the place.
What a country.
Did you hear about the new report that shows the United States is now an oligarchy instead of a democracy?
Oligarchy, Not Democracy: Americans Have ‘Near-Zero’ Input on Policy – Report
The first-ever scientific study that analyzes whether the US is a democracy, rather than an oligarchy, found the majority of the American public has a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy” compared to the wealthy.
Nothing illustrates that more plainly than this astonishing development:
The most telling sentence in the article is this one:
Fallin signed the bill Monday that supporters say would prevent a hodgepodge of minimum wages in different parts of the state that could potentially harm the business community.
“Potentially harm the business community.” Never mind harm to We the People.
You can read the article here.
Xcel Restores Power in Boulder After Outage Left More Than 15,000 Without Power
Power was restored to Boulder after more than 15,000 customers lost power this morning, according to Xcel Energy officials.
About 15,300 customers lost power at around 8:10 a.m. today after a “transmission disturbance,” Xcel officials said. As of 9:39 a.m., Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said power had been restored to all customers in Boulder.
Stutz said the outage was due to a “transmission disturbance,” but said it is not known at this time what caused the disturbance and that the outage was still under investigation.
There are four Verizon towers down in the Pitkin County area this afternoon. The company called Pitkin County 9-1-1 dispatch this afternoon to see if there has been a power outage. Dispatch says there has not been a power problem. The four towers in the area are in Aspen, Snowmass Village, Basalt, and Glenwood Springs. It’s not clear when the service problems will be resolved.
Woohoo, the corporatocracy! Hey, let’s have even more deregulation because, you know, these guys are doing such a great job and no problem, right, putting our utilities in their hands?
The new documentary, Years of Living Dangerously will be talked about a lot in the coming month. If you can’t afford a cable subscription that includes Showtime — that would be me — watch the first segment, which airs tonight, here, for free:
The elites would have us believe teachers, firefighters and oh yeah, letter carriers, are overpaid. But when was the last time we heard them scream about these guys:
Oh, and don’t forget, the players got nothin’.
Mike Papantonio (♥) on Thom Hartmann tonight:
I give up. This is awful:
The Supreme Court took another step Wednesday toward giving wealthy donors more freedom to influence federal elections.
The justices ruled 5-4, in a decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts, that limits on the total amount of money donors can give to all candidates, committees and political parties are unconstitutional. The decision frees the nation’s wealthiest donors to have greater influence in federal elections.
The decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission marks the latest round in the bitter national debate over the role of money in American politics. It’s the most important campaign-finance ruling since the high court’s 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts independently to influence elections.
The case pitted the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech – which the justices previously have equated with spending money in elections – against the government’s interest in preventing political corruption.
Poor babies. We all know how the wealthy have been suffered of late…
Hey Americans, we won a tiny round last week in the war to know more about the food we eat via labeling:
In its relatively brief but potentially exceedingly important opinion in American Meat Institute v. United States Dep’t of Agriculture, the District of Columbia Circuit upheld a meat labeling rule requiring increased specificity.
As the court explained, the 2013 rule regarding country of origin newly required the “production step,” so that instead of saying, “Product of the United States,” a label for Category A meat will now read, “Born, Raised, and Slaughtered in the United States.” Similarly, Category B meat might now have to be labeled, “Born in X, Raised and Slaughtered in the United States,” and Category C meat “Born and Raised in X, Slaughtered in the United States.”
The meat producers argued that the new rule exceeded statutory authority and that it violated the First Amendment. They sought a preliminary injunction which the district judge denied.
Again, it’s a tiny victory but hey, it’s nice to get some good news for a change.
Climate change is happening fast in the United States but state and federal governments are so dysfunctional they’re unable to respond. Chaos reigns. Central California’s San Joaquin Valley is an example. It’s referred to as America’s “bread basket” but it’s literally being sucked dry. And no, I’m not a drama queen blogger high on Cheetos:
When water doesn’t fall from the sky or flow from reservoirs, there’s only one place to find it: underground. So, three years into a devastating drought, thirsty Californians are draining the precious aquifer beneath the nation’s most productive farmland like never before, pitting neighbor against neighbor in a perverse race to the bottom.
The rush to drill is driven not just by historically dry conditions, but by a host of other factors that promote short-term consumption over long-term survival — new, more moisture-demanding crops; improved drilling technologies; and a surge of corporate investors seeking profits for agricultural ventures.
Now those forces are renewing an age-old problem of environmental degradation: Decades ago, overpumping sunk half of the entire San Joaquin Valley, in one area as much as 28 feet. Today new areas are subsiding, some almost a foot each year, damaging bridges and vital canals.
Yet in California, one of the few states that doesn’t regulate how much water can be pumped from underground, even this hasn’t been enough to create a consensus to stop.
“It’s our savings account, and we’re draining it,” said Phil Isenberg of the Public Policy Institute of California, a former Sacramento mayor and assemblyman. “At some point, there will be none left.”
I recommend reading the whole article. Growers are plowing hundreds of thousands of dollars into drilling wells and well drilling companies are booked 12 months out. Well permits have tripled this year over last, and this year is only three months old. What’s happening there is a not-so-slow-motion catastrophe the corporate media will talk about — and people will know about — when it’s too late.
Check out this “Generic Brand Video” using stock video meant to make us feel good about a company, any company:
Last year I bought a new Nissan Sentra after I drove a 1989 Saab 900 into the ground. It was a great car but everything was breaking on it.
12 moths on, I still don’t trust the Sentra. Why? Because:
Shorter: An ignition switch problem that was obvious in 2007 finally, FINALLY, caused the National Transportation Safety Administration to issue a recall a few days ago.
People died because the NTSB sat on this for almost ten years.
It would be nice to think — to know — that the NTSB is on We the People’s side instead of GM’s (or potentially, Nissan’s).
People acted up against austerity today (i.e., giving money to banks and starving We the People) in Spain and Chile. Don’t expect to see coverage of these events on your local TV (they don’t want to give us any ideas).
Anti-Austerity Protesters Join Forces in Spanish Capital
Tens of thousands of protesters from across Spain converged in Madrid on Saturday calling for an end to EU-imposed austerity which has deepened poverty amongst the worst-off.
The so-called “Dignity Marches” brought tens of thousands to the capital, Reuters witnesses calculated, in support of more than 160 different causes – employment, housing, health and education and an end to poverty amongst them.
Banners urged the conservative government not to pay its international debts and to tackle unemployment of 26 percent.
Chileans Rally to Demand Promised Reforms
Tens of thousands of protesters have marched in Chile to press Michelle Bachelet to follow through on ambitious reforms she pledged before assuming the presidency less than two weeks ago.
The protest on Saturday in central Santiago, dubbed “the march of all marches”, was the first of Bachelet’s new term and the biggest political demonstration since huge student protests in 2011.
Organisers said at least 100,000 people were present, even without core groups of student protesters active in the past. Those activists said they would not take part because they were working with Bachelet on education reforms soon be sent to Congress.
The march underscored lingering frustrations in Chile, which has one of the region’s widest inequality gaps. It also raised expectations following four years of rule by the unpopular Sebastian Pinera.
Protesters said the march was a warning sign they would not go easy on Bachelet.
“This is not a protest against Bachelet or for her, it’s just an alert for the political class so they know people have demands,” said Oscar Rementeria, a spokesman for gay rights group, Movilh.
The 40 activist groups that helped fill the streets supported causes ranging from environmental protection to gay and indigenous rights.
If anyone sees any coverage of this in the U.S. media, please let me know.
Thanks in advance.
From Seattle’s King5.com:
The state of Washington is preparing to take the most aggressive action in four years against the U.S. Department of Energy for the federal government’s failure to adhere to waste laws and legally binding cleanup schedules at the Hanford ["nuclear reservation"] Site – a sign of state officials’ growing frustration with lack of progress in the decades-long nuclear waste cleanup.
On Friday, the state Department of Ecology ordered a new, faster timetable for pumping out a massive double-shell waste tank — designated AY-102 — that is slowly leaking highly radioactive waste. Next week, the state will communicate to the Department of Energy and the Department of Justice that the government is in violation of the 2010 consent decree governing the Hanford cleanup…
The order issued Friday deals specifically with AY-102, a massive waste tank that has been at the center of a year-long KING 5 investigation, Hanford’s Dirty Secrets. KING 5 exposed the government’s contractor in charge of the tanks, Washington River Protection Solutions, ignored scientific evidence for nearly a year that the tank was leaking.
The thing I find the most outrageous:
According to a plan released on March 7, the federal government said it would not begin pumping the leaking double-shell tank until 2016 at the earliest. State and federal waste laws require leaking tanks to be emptied within 24 hours or whatever is practical.
I guess we’re supposed to believe that, after ten or so years of this Hanford disaster going nowhere, 2016 is as fast as is “practical” to pump out that leaking tank.
Check out this chart:
The top, blue line is U.S. productivity/output per hour (1945 – 2013). The bottom red line is median family real income. Look at how productivity has kept going up but incomes have leveled off and then fallen since roughly 1980. Americans have kept working — hard — but the corporatocracy, again, in roughly 1980, stopped increasing wages commensurate with that level of production. The so-called trickle down stopped at just about the same time politicians started dangling that term in front of our face, like a carrot.
Interesting ahem, coincidence? No, in retrospect, I’d call it a rather obvious distraction.
Larger version and more here.
We humans are stupid to think we can outsmart bugs who have the ability to mutate and adapt much faster than we give them credit for:
One of agricultural biotechnology’s great success stories may become a cautionary tale of how short-sighted mismanagement can squander the benefits of genetic modification.
After years of predicting it would happen — and after years of having their suggestions largely ignored by companies, farmers and regulators — scientists have documented the rapid evolution of corn rootworms that are resistant to Bt corn.
Until Bt corn was genetically altered to be poisonous to the pests, rootworms used to cause billions of dollars in damage to U.S. crops. Named for the pesticidal toxin-producing Bacillus thuringiensis gene it contains, Bt corn now accounts for three-quarters of the U.S. corn crop.
First planted in 1996, Bt corn quickly became hugely popular among U.S. farmers. Within a few years, populations of rootworms and corn borers, another common corn pest, had plummeted across the midwest. Yields rose and farmers reduced their use of conventional insecticides that cause more ecological damage than the Bt toxin.
In the new paper, Gassmann describes further incidents of Bt resistance in other parts of Iowa. He also found rootworms resistant to a second variety of Bt corn. Moreover, being resistant to one variety heightened the chances of resistance to another. That means corn engineered to produce multiple Bt toxins — so-called stacked varieties — won’t do much to slow the evolution of rootworm resistance, as was originally hoped.
Shorter: Rootworms have figured out a way around Bt corn and they’ve begun destroying corn crops in Iowa again. Farmers don’t want to do the “hard” thing, i.e., rotate the fields they plant their corn on — i.e. crop rotation (Remember that old fashioned thing? Hello!) — which has been proven to work against rootworms:
Breaks in the corn cycle naturally disrupt rootworm populations, but the approach fell from favor as the high price of corn made continuous planting appealing. “Continuous corn is the perfect habitat for rootworm,” said Gassmann.
Greed rears its ugly head again.
I predict we’re heading toward more and “better” GMO corn. The thing is, rootworms will become resistant to that version too. We can alter this seed and that seed and pour chemicals on fields all we want but Mother Nature will win in the end. It’s about time we got off our high horse and accepted that. But will we? Sadly, probably not.