Posts filed under ‘Corporatocracy’
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.
Maybe it’s just me, but have you noticed how the cable “news” networks cycle through so-called news stories roughly every eight, ten, 15 minutes and repeat themselves ad nauseam all day (unless there’s “breaking news” of course, like a high-speed police chase or an apartment fire)?
And maybe its just me but have you noticed how the right constantly screams about how liberal the U.S. media is?
Imagine how this country would change if the media really was liberal and they repeated this kind of thing every day, all day:
– Giving Employees Paid Sick Leave is Good for Business: A large majority of employers in Connecticut — where paid sick leave has been mandatory since January, 2012 — “reported that the law did not affect business operations and that they had no or only small increases in costs.”
– The NSA’s Sweeping Surveillance Programs Don’t Stop Terrorism: On June 5, 2013, the Guardian broke the first story in what would become a flood of revelations regarding the extent and nature of the NSA’s surveillance programs. Facing an uproar over the threat such programs posed to privacy, the Obama administration scrambled to defend them as legal and essential to U.S. national security and counterterrorism. Two weeks after the first leaks by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden were published, President Obama defended the NSA surveillance programs during a visit to Berlin, saying: “We know of at least 50 threats that have been averted because of this information not just in the United States, but, in some cases, threats here in Germany. So lives have been saved.”
However, our review of the government’s claims about the role that NSA “bulk” surveillance of phone and email communications records has had in keeping the United States safe from terrorism shows that these claims are overblown and even misleading. An in-depth analysis of 225 individuals recruited by al-Qaeda or a like-minded group or inspired by al-Qaeda’s ideology, and charged in the United States with an act of terrorism since 9/11, demonstrates that traditional investigative methods, such as the use of informants, tips from local communities, and targeted intelligence operations, provided the initial impetus for investigations in the majority of cases, while the contribution of NSA’s bulk surveillance programs to these cases was minimal.
Climate change will complicate the Philippines’ efforts to become self-sufficient in rice, the country’s economic planning secretary said Monday.
Arsenio Balisacan said preliminary data showed that 74% of the estimated damage from natural disasters in the country last year came in the farm sector, primarily affecting rice. The natural disasters include extreme weather caused by global warming, he said.
“We expect these extreme events and unpredictable phenomena to become the new normal,” Mr. Balisican told a workshop on efforts to address the impact of climate change in agriculture.
No government regulation! Woo hoo. A Libertarian paradise (unless you need to take a shower, drink water, wash your clothes, make dinner or wash your face).
This is what McCutcheon is all about:
Before the U.S. Supreme Court today, Solicitor General Donald Verrilli Jr. vigorously defended the current overall cap on political contributions as a tool that helps prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption.
“Aggregate limits combat corruption,” Verrilli told the nine Supreme Court justices, arguing that should party leaders such as the speaker of the House or Senate majority leader solicit seven-figure checks there is an “inherent risk of corruption” and a “risk of indebtedness” to wealthy donors.
The so-called “aggregate” contribution limits are being challenged in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, named for its lead plaintiff Shaun McCutcheon, a Republican activist from Alabama.
McCutcheon’s lawyers today argued that such limits, which are indexed to inflation and periodically raised, restrict his First Amendment rights.
If the court were to axe the current overall contribution limits, Verrilli predicted that “less than 500 people” could “fund the whole shooting match,” and then the government would be “run of, by and for those 500 people.”
So, with Citizens United, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are people and the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting their political contributions, as well as those of “associations” and labor unions. (But, of course, labor unions have nowhere near the money corporations do.)
With corporations free to pour money into campaigns, the last remaining barrier to the wealthiest of the wealthy buying elections could be knocked down if SCOTUS rules in favor of McCutcheon and removes barriers that apply to individuals. I mean, how can you or I compete with someone who has the means to contribute $70 million in one election cycle?
We were screwed when the Citizens United ruling came down. We’ll be really, really, really screwed if McCutcheon wins this one.
Regarding that chemical spill in West Virginia:
Here’s the president of “Freedom Industries,” Gary Southern, speaking to the press on Friday, January 10, 2014 after his company caused 300,000 West Virginians to be without potable water.
He isn’t the star here. Kallie Cart is. Listen to her insisting Mr. Big Bad Boy Southern Corporate Asshole With a Let-Them-Eat-Cake attitude, tries to walk away because he had a really, really bad day. Poor baby. Never mind the thousands who will have to drag water to their homes to do basic things like make coffee in the morning, brush their teeth or rinse their baby’s bottle for who knows how long:
Follow Kallie Cart on Twitter here for updates on what will undoubtedly be long, long saga. I’m thinking Superfund site.
Check out this GIF showing the spread of Walmart stores from the first one in Bentonville, Arkansas to the stores literally blanketing the country. Here’s a screenshot showing the growth circa 1983:
Again, go here.
Here’s the GOP’s thinking in trying to make us all hate those lazy leeches on food stamps and unemployment insurance:
For God’s sake people, let’s not fall for it.
I presume you’ve heard about the horrible chemical spill in West Virginia (who knows what with Chris Christie and “Bridgegate” sucking all the air out of the atmosphere).
As it turns out, 300,000 people are affected. Here are the gory details:
1. No one knows when water will be safe to drink again.
2. No one knows when the leak started or how much has leaked into the Elk River.
3. The water company has had no contact with Freedom Industries, the company that manufactures the spilled chemical.
4. There is no standard process for testing the toxicity of the spilled chemical in water.
5. It’s unclear just how dangerous the diluted chemical is to drink or breathe.
6. The chemical may have leached into the soil.
And then there’s this depressing headline. People have been told not to use water for anything other than flushing their toilets:
Got that? Earlier this month, Republicans refused to extend unemployment insurance to more than a million Americans because they’re lazy a++holes and if we coddle them they’ll just keep on keepin’ on sucking the tit of the American taxpayer.
Dear god of the universe: If only we really did have a liberal media here in the U.S., they’d be screaming about this: <—- <—-:
And if we had Democrats here in the U.S. who made some serious noise, who had guts and a willingness to stand up to the corporatocarcy (thank you Justice Roberts and your ruling on Citizens United), We the People might stand a chance…
If you think NAFTA was a bad idea and that it has had a disastrous effect on We the People in the United States (and the world), you’ll hate the TPP, the so-called “Trans-Pacific Partnership.“
Obama and his corporate buddies are negotiating a deal (the TPP) behind closed doors and in virtual secrecy that will benefit corporations and screw We the People (of every country). Over and above that, Obama wants congress to grant him “fast track” so he can sign whatever comes of the talks without any input from our representatives, the very people who are responsible for drafting and signing trade agreements.
The TPP is essentially a corporate takeover of the planet.
This is a very big deal. It will pop up early next year and again, We the People must fight back against this global takeover (more on that later); we must make the people in congress who supposedly represent us say no.
The fear is they’ll go along with Obama because they too are owned by the corporatocracy.
When is enough, enough?
Tongue-in-cheek but dead serious:
The growing fracking industry is “yielding gushers” of campaign donations for congressional candidates—particularly Republicans from districts with fracking activity—according to a new report from the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
The report, “Natural Cash: How the Fracking Industry Fuels Congress,” examines data compiled by MapLight covering a period spanning from 2004 to 2012. In that time, CREW finds, contributions from companies that operate hydraulic fracturing wells and fracking-related industry groups rose 180 percent, from $4.3 million nine years ago to about $12 million in the last election cycle.
Rep. Joe Barton, a Republican from Texas, was head and shoulders above his fellow candidates in donations from the fracking industry. Barton accepted more than half a million dollars—$100,000 more than any other candidate. In the past, he chaired the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and he sponsored legislation in 2005 to exempt the fracking industry from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Check out Barton’s Wikipedia page. Scroll down and read the paragraph titled: “Barton Family Foundation.” What a piece of work this guy is. He probably thinks of himself as a good Christian too.
One year after the Tazreen factory fire in Bangladesh, many retailers that sold garments produced there or inside the Rana Plaza building that collapsed last spring are refusing to join an effort to compensate the families of the more than 1,200 workers who died in those disasters.
The International Labor Organization is working with Bangladeshi officials, labor groups and several retailers to create ambitious compensation funds to assist not just the families of the dead, but also more than 1,800 workers who were injured, some of them still hospitalized.
But to the dismay of those pushing to create the compensation funds, neither Walmart, Sears, Children’s Place nor any of the other American companies that were selling goods produced at Tazreen or Rana Plaza have agreed to contribute to the efforts.
Shocking (not): There are fewer Christians in the world that the U.S. corporate media would have me believe.
A blind man who would have had to say goodbye to the guide dog that stayed by his side after a fall onto the New York City subway tracks will now get to keep his loyal companion of eight years.
Ever since Cecil Williams’ story aired Tuesday on “Nightly News with Brian Williams,” NBC News has received hundreds of inquiries from people wanting to help Williams, 61, keep his dog Orlando.
Williams fainted at the 125th Street platform in Manhattan on Tuesday, and as he tumbled forward, Orlando landed in the tracks alongside him. Orlando tried to rouse Williams, who was unconscious. They lay there as the train passed above them.
Both survived. But because Orlando is slated to retire in January, and Williams’ insurance won’t pay for a non-working dog, they would have had to part ways.
Now, thanks to several anonymous donations to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, all of Orlando’s expenses will be covered.
Excuse my language but brav-fucking-o.
What a great story.
(H/t Tim T.)
Liz Sidoti, AP’s National Political Editor, Moving to BP to Become Head of (Ahem) “US Communications”
The folks at British Petroleum (BP), you know, the people who destroyed the Gulf of Mexico, think Liz Sidoti, the Associated Press’s national political editor is so good at spin, they’ve hired her to be the head of “U.S. communications.”
Got that? Sidoti is supposedly in the news business, you know, as in honesty and facts. But BP, which has launched a massive operation to demonize victims of its calamitous 2011 Deepwater Horizon disaster, thinks she’s so good at what she does — BP isn’t into honesty and facts — she caught their eye and they offered her a job. Oh, and she took it.
Ah yes. Liz Sidoti: A Dedicated bearer of the truth? Clearly not. If she were, (1) BP wouldn’t have offered the job and (2) she wouldn’t have accepted.
P.S. This is the first time I’ve seen Liz’s Twitter photo. Unprofessional or what? I mean, is this acceptable at the AP too?
Wow. Walmart’s selling Occupy Wall Street posters. Could there be any purer example of cognitive dissonance than that?
Here’s the web page and here’s a screen shot (just in case they take the page down):
The most destructive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ever, after which people and animals are still suffering is mesmerizingly beautiful?
Really? Is that where we are? Is that what we’ve become? People who see beauty in oil spills?
So John Boehner is a hero because he stood up to the people who hated his budget before they read it?
This is what’s really going on here (heads up Tea Partiers — they’re playing you for fools):
The electricity has been off at my house for roughly three hours today. (That’s what it’s like in Baghdad.)
This is Al waiting for it to come on:
Xcel’s gas was out at my brother’s house for roughly 48 hours over the weekend. The temps were in the below zeros.
Xcel doesn’t want to invest in infrastructure and nobody’s saying it should. It wants to steer its profits to the execs and shareholders and our tax laws are structured such that they can; they encourage them to do that (thanks bought-and-sold congress).
Meanwhile, Al and I wait…
Pray tell I’ll have time to look into the subsidies I’m paying for this piece of shit “public utility.”
Love how that label has stuck.
What a lie.
From David Sirota over at Pando.com in an article titled: For Economic Stimulus, Pensions Beat Stadiums and Server Farms.
There [in Detroit], as if proudly advertising its reverse-Robin Hood class war, the city is simultaneously seeking bankruptcy to avoid pensions payments, while pledging $400 million to build a new hockey stadium.
I would much rather have my tax dollars go toward pensions instead of a hockey stadium. Geezus. It’s a no-brainer.
Check out the enthusiasm and glee of the Executive Editor of BusinessInsider at news that We the Little People can’t live on what we’re paid.
Zero, zip, nada thus far.
For the fourth time in five months, McDonald’s has drawn unwelcome attention for what critics call tone-deaf guidance to its impoverished workforce. A section of the corporation’s worker advice website, reported by CNBC Thursday and then quickly removed – offers McDonalds workers advice on how to tip their au pair, pool cleaner, and masseuse.
The “To Tip of Not to Tip” guide highlighted by CNBC appeared on that same McResources website. It offered “tips for the holidays” from “etiquette guru Emily Post” on how much to tip the “serviceperson”s in your life, including “Au Pair,” “Beauty Salon Staff”, “Dog Walker,” “Fitness Trainer, personal,” “Garage Attendants,” “Massage Therapist,” “Pool Cleaner,” and “Yard/ Garden Worker.” CNBC’s Katie Little noted that, “In total, the tips add up to hundreds, if not more than a thousand dollars of gift suggestions for McDonald’s workers, many of whom earn just above minimum wage.”
It’s a wonder Americans aren’t rioting in the streets:
As we passed the fifth anniversary of the peak of the financial crisis this fall, the giant insurance company AIG was prominently featured in the retrospectives. AIG had issued hundreds of billions of dollars of credit default swaps (CDS) on subprime mortgage backed securities. When these mortgage-backed securities failed en masse, AIG didn’t have the money to back them up.
This would have forced AIG into bankruptcy. However Lehman had declared bankruptcy the day before and the world was still engulfed in the aftershocks. The Bush administration and the Federal Reserve Board decided that they would stop the cascade of failing financial institutions and bail out AIG. As a result, the government agreed to honor all the CDS issued by AIG and effectively became the owner of the company.
Chicago has been in the news recently because its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, seems intent on cutting the pensions that its current and retired employees have earned. Mr. Emanuel insists that the city can’t afford these pensions and therefore workers and retirees will simply have to accept reduced benefits.
If the connection with AIG isn’t immediately apparent, then you have to look a bit deeper. Folks may recall that AIG paid out $170 million in bonuses to its employees in March of 2009 with its top executives receiving bonuses in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
These were people who not only shared responsibility for driving the company into bankruptcy; they also had been at the center of the financial web that propelled the housing bubble into ever more dangerous territory. In other words, the bonus beneficiaries were among the leading villains in the economic disaster that is still inflicting pain across the country.
The prospect of executives of a bailed out company drawing huge bonuses at a time when the economy was shedding 600,000 jobs a month provoked outrage across the country.[...]
This provides a striking contrast to what might happen to current and former city employees in Chicago and may have already happened to current and former employers of the state of Illinois and Detroit. In these cases, it seems that the contracts workers had with their employers may not be honored. Employees who worked decades for these governments, with part of their pay taking the form of pensions in retirement, are now being told that these governments will not follow through on their end of the contract.
Washington politicians facing a year-end deadline to cut billions in agriculture spending are feuding over the future of food aid for the poor and crop subsidies for farmers.
There is, however, one area of agreement in the contentious negotiations: sugar.
Lawmakers decided to preserve the decades-old government safety net that boosts profits for a relatively small group of growers and has cost consumers billions through artificially high prices.
The special protection is a testament to the enduring Washington clout of one of the country’s wealthiest farming interests, including the politically connected Florida family that controls a substantial share of the world’s sugar market.
Sugar makers succeeded by gaining the support of a wildly divergent collection of lawmakers — rural and urban, tea party and liberal — who have little in common other than the presence of sugar operations in their states.
The industry’s power was evident in the unusual alliances that formed in the House and Senate to thwart sugar-related measures over the past two years, turning ideological adversaries such as Sens. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) into teammates operating from the same playbook.
“Removing the protections we have for our domestic sugar producers will do nothing but kill an American industry and outsource jobs to our competitors,” Franken said during a Senate floor debate this spring. Rubio, in the same debate, warned colleagues of the “risks to American jobs if reforms to our sugar program were to pass.”
The program, which has existed in various forms since the Great Depression, uses an elaborate system of import quotas, price floors and taxpayer-backed loans designed to prop up domestic growers, which number about 4,500.
We’re talkin’ Our Tax Dollars here folks.
Oh, and don’t forget. This is the same crowd that wants to cut food aid to the poor.
This is happened yesterday:
Meanwhile, there’s this from today:
So, the oil and gas industry thinks what citizens want — and vote for — doesn’t much matter:
A mandatory recount on Broomfield’s anti-fracking measure confirmed voters approved a five-year moratorium on the oil and gas drilling practice, but the future of the measure still hangs in the balance because of a lawsuit filed Tuesday night by a pro-fracking group. The suit alleges Broomfield did not correctly conduct the election.
Meanwhile, on the same day suit was filed against Broomfield for the way the election was conducted, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association brought suits against Lafayette and Fort Collins for fracking bans passed by voters in those communities.
Another reason to loathe these corporations who think the planet itself is theirs to be mined and sold off in bits and pieces for their private gain.
Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital is in the news again:
Clear Channel Burning Cash to Delay Reckoning: Corporate Finance
Clear Channel Communications Inc. is offering to double interest to push out maturities on some of the $4.3 billion it owes, just as the most-leveraged U.S. broadcaster suffers the first cash-flow deficit in four years.
The company said on Nov. 25 that it’s seeking to extend about $1.8 billion of borrowings due in 2016 by three years to five years, which Fitch Ratings estimates would boost interest costs as much as $55 million annually.
While the proposal gives Clear Channel more time to turn around a business that’s posted losses every year after Bain Capital Partners LLC and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP took control in 2008…
What? Clear Channel has lost money every year since Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital “took control?” I thought Romney was Mr. Master Money Maker / Turn Around Guy.
Ugh. If we aren’t going to get money out of our elections, I wish a $330 billion company that funded flaming progressive organizations would come along sometime (soon):
Google, the tech giant supposedly guided by its “don’t be evil” motto, has been funding a growing list of groups advancing the agenda of the Koch brothers.
Organizations that received “substantial” funding from Google for the first time over the past year include Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union (best known for its CPAC conference) and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation that led the charge to shut down the government over the Affordable Care Act: Heritage Action.
Here’s a shocking article about how austerity cuts are affecting the health of folks in the U.K.:
Malnutrition a Public Health Emergency, Experts Warn
Malnutrition is something most of us associate with the third world or even the world of Dickens. But new figures show hospital admissions in England have nearly doubled in the last five years.
A group of scientists and public health experts is warning the rise is evidence of a “public health emergency” which could be linked to changes to benefits.”
They cite government statistics that show there were 5,500 hospital admissions for malnutrition between 2012 and 2013 compared to just over 3,000 in 2008.
They also point to a report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that found families were buying cheaper more unhealthy food.
This has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late.
Letter to the British Medical Journal
In a letter to the British Medical Journal, David Taylor-Robinson from the University of Liverpool and six other academics warn: “This has all the signs of a public health emergency that could go unrecognised until it is too late to take preventive action.”
They say they are particularly worried about the number of children with malnutrition because it can cause cardiovascular and other chronic diseases in adulthood.
They believe the rise in cases of malnutrition, and the increase in the use of food banks, could be linked to welfare reform.
So, that’s austerity, U.K-style.
Meanwhile, this is what’s happening here in the U.S.:
Meanwhile, there may be no way to prevent Congress from allowing 1.3 million people to lose their unemployment benefits, or reversing the sharp cuts to food stamps, which are one of the most destructive forms of austerity. (In fact, Republicans demand much, much greater cuts to food stamps.)
As the CNN report says, the ostensible reason to cut spending and/or raise taxes is to keep the budget deficit low. But government borrowing costs are still near historic lows, and the budget deficit is plummeting like a stone. Meanwhile, unemployment is still high, inflation is still low, and hysteresis is turning unemployment into long-run structural damage.
Overall, the austerity binge has cost the economy about 3 million jobs at this point. Put simply, this is insane, and there is no sign Congress will stop it anytime soon.
I volunteer at a food bank. Food banks in the area just held their big annual food drive. We collected something like 6,000 pounds less than we did last year. Last year we collected roughly 13,000 pounds less than the year before that. At some point, food banks are going to get crushed under the weight of so many starving people and hey, maybe then we should get together with the U.K. and have a malnurishathon.
Geezus. I think it’s immoral to cut services to the poorest, most desperate segments of a society.
USA, USA, USA!