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Archive for May, 2014

Fifty years ago General Motors was the biggest employer in the United States. Nowadays, Walmart is the biggest employer. Fifty years ago, the 1 percent stole only 8 percent of all the nation’s income. Nowadays, it’s over thirty percent. That mal-distribution of income difference is why there’s such a big pay differential between what workers earned at GM then and what they earn now at Walmart. What a difference fifty years has made. By the way, the art museum mentioned by Maher above was never intended to be something that benefits people, it was built to serve as a monument to the Walmart lady, and for no other reason. It is, as the economist Thorstein Veblen once said, “conspicuous consumption,” intended to demonstrate ones accumulated wealth and their presumptive place in the human pecking order. Building the monument to herself made a difference to no one except the Walmart lady’s social standing. What a nitwit! She is a crass example of Blind Stupidity and proves that turds rise, or are carried, to the top.

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The planting of GMO crops is at an end in Jackson County Oregon. Voters banned the poisons in the election of May 20th with 66 percent of people voting yes to ban the disastrous GMO plants. Last year, like the patriots of the Boston Tea Party, patriots of the county secretly burned over GMO 6000 beet plants.

Though it’s a local issue, the Jackson County measure attracted national interest. A pair of competing campaigns raised $1.3 million to sway the county’s 120,000 registered voters. Nearly $1 million of that money was raised to defeat the proposed ban.

“The voters here have many generations of fruit and vegetable growing, so they’re among the most educated voters,” said Chuck Burr, president of the Southern Oregon Seed Growers Association. “The opposition spent a million dollars and couldn’t convince the people.”

The outcome, however, won’t start an immediate trend in Oregon because Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill last fall that prohibits local governments from regulating genetically engineered crops. An exception was made for Jackson County because its measure had already qualified for the ballot.

Despite the bill, opponents of GMOs in Josephine County went ahead with their own measure, saying they’ll let the courts decide if the vote is valid. 57 percent of voters in this county voted for banning the poison.

According to ABC News, “Since 2004, counties in California, Hawaii and Washington state have adopted bans. In 2012, agribusiness groups defeated ballot measures in California and Washington state to require statewide GMO food labeling.

Those who opposed local government action in Oregon said rules regarding genetically modified crops should be enacted at the state or federal level, not through a patchwork of county ordinances.” So naturally, the major giants of the GMO industry such as Monsanto and Syngenta convinced legislators to rob local people of their right to enact local laws to avoid being contaminated by GMOs.

“Though he signed the bill, Kitzhaber directed the Oregon Department of Agriculture to map where genetically engineered and non-genetically engineered crops are grown. Moreover, he asked the department to submit a state action plan for regulating genetically engineered crops, and created a task force that will examine conflicts between growers of genetically engineered products and other producers, including organic growers.

The effort to ban GMOs in Jackson County started two years ago when organic farmers learned the Swiss company Syngenta was growing GMO beets in local fields that were genetically altered. They wanted to protect their crops from being cross-pollinated by genetically modified ones.

According to ABC News, “Though genetically engineered crops are common and no mainstream science has shown they are unsafe, opponents contend GMOs are still experimental and promote the use of pesticides. They say more testing is needed.”

Actually, there are numerous mainstream studies which show the health hazards of GMOs, including at least one well known study by a GMO company named Syngenta. However, by “mainstream,” ABC News, like the rest of the corporate media, means studies funded by the corrupt corporations that produce GMOs. In other words, what they say above is pure propaganda of the worst sort.

“This vote is going to make Jackson and Josephine county one of the most valuable seed-growing regions in the entire country, period,” Burr said.

The campaign to defeat the Jackson County measure raised more than $900,000, with most of the money coming from out-of-state donors. Three major agribusiness firms — Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont Pioneer — combined to contribute nearly $400,000. Supporters of the ban raised $375,000. The leading out-of-state contributor was Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which spent $40,000.

“Regrettably ideology defeated sound science and common sense in Jackson County,” Barry Bushue, president of the Oregon Farm Bureau, said in a statement. “We respect the voice of the voters, but remain convinced Measure 15-119 is bad public policy. While this election is over, this debate is not. We will continue to fight to protect the rights of all farmers to choose for themselves how they farm.”

Perhaps what Bushue meant, of course, “We will continue to fight to protect the profits of Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta, even if it means exposing the livelihoods and health to toxic materials, such as GMOs.”

By the way, back in the 1990s the folks at Syngenta tested one of their GMO grains for cows and cattle and discovered it quickly killed its test subjects. It hid the results of its test and promptly began selling the killer grain. In Germany, the cows of a farmer who bought the grain died. The farmer sued Syngenta and its representatives denied under oath that its grain was harmful. After Syngenta was found innocent, a leaked document exposing the test results on cows and cattle performed by the folks at Syngenta made its way to the farmer, who promptly sued again. That case is still bending, but all of this information is available, but the folks at ABC News, like the rest of the US corporate news and propaganda machines, were willing to tell the truth to the public, and there are lots of independent tests that tell the whole story about the dangers of GMOs to public health.

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(Reuters) – “Credit Suisse saw little immediate impact on Tuesday after it became the largest bank in decades to plead guilty to a U.S. criminal charge and will pay more than $2.5 billion in penalties for helping Americans evade taxes.

The bank’s guilty plea resolves its long-running dispute with the United States over the probe and marks a rare criminal indictment for a major financial institution.

The Justice Department has not often pursued such convictions for fear they could destabilize large financial firms and wider markets, but lawmakers have recently pressured authorities to show that banks are not “too big to jail.”

Credit Suisse said it had not seen a material impact in the past few weeks on its business, and that clients faced no legal obstacles from doing business with it despite the guilty plea.

But some analysts said clients and counter parties could still pull their business in the coming weeks.

“While we expect that this event has been well-flagged and the impact likely to be muted, there is always the small risk of unintended consequences,” Citigroup analysts Kinner Lakhani and Nicholas Herman wrote in a note to investors.

Credit Suisse shares closed up 0.96 percent on Tuesday.

Switzerland’s second-largest bank escaped more dramatic outcomes for its business – the New York state bank regulator decided not to revoke the bank’s license in the state. Also, its top management stayed in place and it will not have to hand over specific client data, protected by Swiss secrecy laws, though it will turn over some account information.

U.S. prosecutors said Credit Suisse helped clients conceal assets in secret accounts that were not disclosed to U.S. tax authorities, in a conspiracy that spanned decades, and for one of the bank’s units, involved practices that began more than a century ago.

“This case shows that no financial institution, no matter its size or global reach, is above the law,” Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference in Washington.

“We deeply regret the past misconduct that led to this settlement,” Credit Suisse Chief Executive Officer Brady Dougan said in a statement.

Another global bank, BNP Paribas, is expected to submit to a similar plea as it works to resolve a criminal probe into whether it violated U.S. sanctions on Sudan and other countries, people familiar with the matter have said.

Credit Suisse will pay the penalties to the U.S. Department of Justice, Internal Revenue Service, Federal Reserve and New York State Department of Financial Services. It had already paid just under $200 million to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Switzerland’s left-wing Social Democrats renewed a call first made last week for Dougan and other executives to step down to allow the bank to make a fresh start.”

Credit Suisse is one of the world’s largest securities firms. It advises and invests in virtually every industry affected by federal legislation, including oil and gas, telecommunications, electric utilities and media companies. It provides private banking services, corporate and retail banking services and advises financial institutions worldwide.

According to Opensecrets.org, Credit Suisse gives almost as much in campaign contributions to Democratic groups, such as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as it does to similar Republican groups. However, during the 2014 election cycle, eleven of the top twelve members of the US House and Senate that Credit Suisse donated money to were Republicans.

It should also be pointed out that major US investment firms have yet to be charged with a single crime involved in the housing bubble that tanked the economy more than five years ago, such as securities fraud, mortgage fraud, and so much more.

Nonetheless, in prosecuting Credit Suisse, this marks the first major prosecution of an investment company, although it does leave the criminals responsible for these crimes in power. In other words, the penalty is pretty much a slap on the wrist.

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The social security trust fund has a $2.7 trillion surplus, and earns $120 billion a year in interest. The surplus continues to grow. Guess who wants that money.

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Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to advance a proposal that critics call a threat to a free and open Internet. Hundreds of protesters rallied outside the FCC to protest a plan that could allow Internet “fast lanes” by letting companies pay providers for faster access to consumers. The agency will allow 120 days of public comment before issuing final rules.

The Internet is the high speed information highway that ordinary people use to share news and opinions outside of the corporate mainstream media. Ending the way things are with the Internet, which is called Internet freedom, and putting a price on the use of the Internet higher than is the current case, means an end to alternative news and commentary. And let’s face it. That’s precisely what the corporate media and the 1 percent want.

President Barack Obama appointed and swore in all of the commissioners on the FCC. The president has been attempting the end Internet neutrality for the last two years, as if he is a corporate Republican. My ex-wife rightly calls him a Republican to the right of Ronald Reagan on all economic matters.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler was nominated and sworn in by Obama. His biography from the FCC website says all you need to know about him,

“Prior to joining the FCC, Chairman Wheeler was Managing Director at Core Capital Partners, a venture capital firm investing in early stage Internet Protocol (IP)-based companies. He served as President and CEO of Shiloh Group, LLC, a strategy development and private investment company specializing in telecommunications services and co-founded SmartBrief, the internet’s largest electronic information service for vertical markets. From 1976 to 1984, Chairman Wheeler was associated with the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), where he was President and CEO from 1979 to 1984. Following NCTA, Chairman Wheeler was CEO of several high tech companies, including the first company to offer high speed delivery of data to home computers and the first digital video satellite service. From 1992 to 2004, Chairman Wheeler served as President and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).”

A venture capital firm is an investment company. Typically, only the 1 percent has the money to invest. So Wheeler is serving the 1 percent as chairman of the FCC, as well as himself. There’s no telling how much money Wheeler or Core Capital is going to steal from the rest of us through higher prices and less information. Yes, ending net neutrality is an income redistribution scam.

Luckily, the 99 percent have Wall Street Senator Ron Wyden to fight for Internet neutrality. However, if he really fights against this, it’s because of his loyalty to Google and Yahoo! share prices, management and shareholders, and not the 99 percent he’s supposed to represent.

Coincidentally, this type of information is not offered by the corporate news media, and if Wheeler’s proposal goes into effect, it will cost you big bucks to go to the FCC website to get the above information about Wheeler, which, coincidentally, happens to be what Wheeler, Obama, Wall Street, the Republican Party, 80 percent of the Democratic Party (most likely including Wyden since he serves the 1 percent only), the Koch brothers, and the rest of the 1 percent, desire.

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What Did Pope Francis Say About the World’s Problems?

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