Posts filed under ‘America for Sale’
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.
C A N C E R
Cancer Soon to Become #1 Killer in America
Here’s a depressing stat: Within the next 16 years, cancer will be the number one cause of death among Americans, according to a new report from the American Society for Clinical Oncologists (ASCO).
In their first report of its kind, ASCO dug into the prevalence of cancer in the U.S. and its projected rise, as well a number of pitfalls in our current medical system that will make treating all those cancer cases increasingly difficult. In fact, the report notes, the field of oncology is under such strain from skyrocketing medical costs and doctor shortages that the Institute of Medicine has called it “a system in crisis” in need of “urgent intervention.”
Why do we have “skyrocketing medical costs” and “doctor shortages?” I’m definitely not an expert on that but I would suggest unrestrained corporate greed might have something to do with “skyrocketing medical costs” and low wages and the high cost of a college education (not to mention medical school for crying out loud) might have something to do with it.
That said, due to the corporatocracy buying off the folks who are supposed to represent and protect We the Little People, we know there are chemicals in our soil, chemicals in our air, chemicals in our water, chemicals in our clothes, chemicals in our food, chemicals in our building materials and chemicals in our baby bottles. There’s no end to the list.
I’m 61 and I’ve been lucky. No cancer (other than some basal cell carcinoma on my nose from spending my teen years roasting in the sun). Living 61 years — factoring in climate change — might be a thing of the past for today’s little ones.
Oh, and remember when Dick Nixon (R) declared a “War on Cancer?”
We lost. Our tax dollars went to “defense spending.” Never mind that cancer has, and will, kill more of us than the boogeyman out there.
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.
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).
Remember back in late March when an Exxon oil pipeline burst and spilled gooey oil all over a residential neighborhood in Mayflower, Arkansas? Here are some pics.
Fast forward seven months and man-oh-man, the once tight community has been torn apart:
Eight months after an ExxonMobil pipeline leaked Canadian oil across an Arkansas subdivision, a cloud of uncertainty looms large over the young families, singles and retirees who chose the affordable, decade-old Northwoods neighborhood to establish roots. Nearly half of them have put their houses up for sale in search of a fresh start they never wanted.
“The area is blanketed with ‘For Sale’ signs,” said April Lane, a community health advocate who has worked with the spill victims. Twenty-nine of the development’s 62 homes have either been sold to Exxon under its buy-out program or are on the open market.
Some people were forced to sell because oil settled in their homes’ foundations, where removing it is nearly impossible. Others chose to leave because of fears about potential health effects and the marketability of their properties. Those who are staying aren’t necessarily doing so by choice: Many don’t have enough equity to afford a down payment on a new home in another suburb, according to local real estate brokers.
The upheaval has torn at the fabric of the once tight-knit central Arkansas neighborhood, where barbecues were regularly held and neighbors watched after each other’s kids, who played in Northwoods’ three cul-de-sacs and five streets. Ryan Senia, a 30-year-old bachelor who bought his Northwoods home in 2009, said it was either sell to Exxon now or risk “holding onto that thing forever.”
“It’s like selling a salvaged car—nobody wants to buy it.”
The subdivision was thrust into this position on March 29, when 5,000 barrels of oil spewed out of Exxon’s 65-year-old Pegasus pipeline. Twenty-two homes were evacuated, almost one-third of the Northwoods development.
The leaked oil was from Alberta’s tar sands region, similar to the diluted bitumen (dilbit) that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL project, if it’s built.
Really sad and entirely avoidable. Who the hell approved the construction of a subdivision on top of an oil pipeline?
Few if any even knew that an oil pipeline was buried under their lawns.
As I’ve said before, if I lived in Virginia, I might have to sit out this year’s gubernatorial election set for November 5. Two wholly owned corporate ass kissers are running. One, the so-called Democrat — Terry McAuliffe — is backed by the Clinton machine which gives us a glimpse into what a Hillary Clinton presidential reign might look like. I.e., great for the corporatocracy but for We the People? Not so much:
If you want to see how grossly money can distort democracy, just go to the state of Virginia, where there are no limits on how big a check can be written for statewide office. Groups and individuals from outside the Old Dominion are taking full advantage, pouring millions into a governor’s race they see as a dry run for the tactics they’ll use in the 2014 midterms and the 2016 presidential race – sort of the way the Spanish civil war turned out to be a testing ground for many of the deadly weapons of World War II.
The Democrat, Terry McAuliffe, has been in training for years as courtier to the rich. He has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Democratic National Committee, which he chaired for four years, and the campaigns of his – Best Friends Forever – Bill and Hillary Clinton, who now are shaking down donors for him. Along the way, according to The Washington Post, this gregarious bagman used government programs, his huge Rolodex of political connections, and wealthy investors from both parties to enrich himself. He organized a company to build electric cars and promoted it to investors with a prospectus featuring photographs and ample references to his Clinton ties. He even got the former President to show up at the opening of the plant in Mississippi, along with that state’s former Republican governor, Haley Barbour, who made his fortune as a lobbyist in Washington for the tobacco industry
But Cuccinelli is in no position to talk. The candidate was drawn into that Virginia money scandal in which Jonnie R. Williams, Sr., CEO of Star Scientific, a company that manufactures dietary supplements, showered lavish presents and perks on the current governor and his wife. Cuccinelli also received a sprinkling of Williams’ largesse. He recently donated the value of what he says he got — $18,000 – to charity.
What’s more, his donor list includes considerable checks from big tobacco and big coal, including Murray Energy Corporation, which has often been fined for endangering the health and safety of its miners. Last year, its boss, Bob Murray, was discovered insisting that employees contribute time and money to his favorite anti-regulatory candidates – including Mitt Romney – or else.
Now Cuccinelli’s touting a major tax cut for the rich, with a plan that, according to the liberal Center for American Progress, would give 47% of a proposed tax reduction to the top five percent of Virginians. The state would lose nearly a billion and a half dollars in revenues so the rich can be even richer.
What a choice huh?
I wish I could take my head off and set it down for a while.
Here are my Tweets of the Day. No politics or screamers this time, just a little something about cows and cowboys.