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Member since: Wed Jan 5, 2011, 09:33 PM
Number of posts: 1,428

Journal Archives

On This Fourth of July, Meet Your Unpatriotic Corporations

Years ago, I noticed that America’s major drugstore chains tend to utilize the same corporate color scheme. Walgreens, CVS, Rite Aid—all patriotic in red, white, and blue. Even regional chains take their identity cues from Old Glory. But this July 4, American corporations—including one drugstore chain, in one recent example—are using tax loopholes to act in the most unpatriotic of ways.

Walgreens, The New York Times reported, is looking to relocate from Illinois to Switzerland, in the process merging with a Swiss corporation and reincorporating itself as a foreign entity. It is, bluntly, an old-fashioned tax dodge, aimed at trimming eleven percentage points off the company’s corporate tax rate. Americans for Tax Fairness estimates that the move will cost US taxpayers more than $4 billion over the next five years. Using a procedure called “inversion,” an American company can reincorporate itself overseas as long as its domestic (US) owners retain no more than 80 percent of its stock. Walgreens, after merging with European drugstore chain Alliance Boots (itself a loophole-exploiter, having moved from the UK to Switzerland itself in order to lower its tax bill), will meet the criteria and legally become a Swiss corporation.


Do Public School Teachers Have Any Friends in the Obama Administration?

We are living in an era when the very idea of public education is under attack, as are teachers' unions and the teaching profession. Let's be clear: these attacks and the power amassed behind them are unprecedented in American history. Sure, there have always been critics of public schools, of teachers, and of unions. But never before has there been a serious and sustained effort to defund public education, to turn public money over to unaccountable private hands, and to weaken and eliminate collective bargaining wherever it still exists. And this effort is not only well-coordinated but funded by billionaires who have grown wealthy in a free market and can't see any need for regulation or unions or public schools.

In the past, Democratic administrations and Democratic members of Congress could be counted on to support public education and to fight privatization. In the past, Democrats supported unions, which they saw as a dependable and significant part of their base.


Noam Chomsky: Our Govt. Is Capable of Creating Total Catastrophe for Humankind -- Can We Stop It?

An interesting bit:


When the NSA’s surveillance program was exposed by Edward Snowden’s revelations, high officials claimed that it had prevented 54 terrorist acts. On inquiry, that was whittled down to a dozen. A high-level government panel then discovered that there was actually only one case: someone had sent $8,500 to Somalia. That was the total yield of the huge assault on the Constitution and, of course, on others throughout the world.

Britain’s attitude is interesting. In 2007, the British government called on Washington’s colossal spy agency “to analyze and retain any British citizens’ mobile phone and fax numbers, emails, and IP addresses swept up by its dragnet,” the Guardian reported. That is a useful indication of the relative significance, in government eyes, of the privacy of its own citizens and of Washington’s demands.


Christian right secession fantasy: Spooky neo-Confederate talk grows louder at the fringes

Source: Salon

A Saturday ago at the annual conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused President Obama and other Democrats of waging a war against religious liberty and all but openly threatened a violent revolution, AP reported:

“I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Jindal said, “where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”

Of course, Jindal’s speech didn’t come out of nowhere. Jindal is notorious as a weather vane, not a leader. So this is a clear sign of the need to take threats of right-wing violence seriously — and to look to its justifications as formulated on the Christian right.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/07/01/christian_right_secession_fantasy_spooky_neo_confederate_talk_grows_louder_at_the_fringes/

Anti-vaxx insanity: New study highlights the dangers of science denialism

Source: Salon

We are breaking a new record in the U.S., and it is not one we want to break: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, measles cases are at a 20-year high. As of May 23, more than 288 cases have been reported this year. To put that in perspective, only 37 cases were reported in all of 2004. In 2002, measles had been declared eliminated in the Americas.

The CDC reports that most Americans have either contracted measles in the past, and are now immune, or have received the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine, among the most effective vaccinations available. Yet, measles is now an epidemic in Minnesota, where a 2.5-year-old child was identified by the science journal Pediatrics last month as patient zero, ultimately responsible for exposing more than 3,000 people in its community to the disease.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2014/07/01/anti_vaxx_insanity_new_study_highlights_the_dangers_of_science_denialism/

Rupert Murdoch’s interest in Time Warner fuels industry speculation

Source: By Reuters

By Ronald Grover

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Rupert Murdoch jets into Idaho’s Sun Valley next week for the year’s most exclusive tech and media industry gathering, armed with both the money and the appetite for a major deal.

The 83-year-old Twenty-First Century Fox Inc chief executive officer, a regular at investment bank Allen & Co’s annual gathering, is in the midst of a deal that would give Fox the firepower to buy a content company.

Fox’s 39 percent-owned British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc is negotiating to buy Fox’s Sky Italia and its Sky Deutschland subsidiary in a deal that could net Fox as much as $13 billion.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/07/01/rupert-murdochs-interest-in-time-warner-fuels-industry-speculation/

Hyenas vs. Rhinos: Who Could the NYT Get to Write an Op-ed on Iraq?

This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan did a quick study and found that critics of the paper of record over its preference for Iraq War hawks as sources and commentators in the past two weeks are justified in their feeling that Iraq War critics have been slighted. This lack of balance grates in part because in 2002-2003 then editor in chief Bill Keller showed himself gullible in swallowing the lies of the Bush war machine, e.g. hyping aluminum tubing that could not in fact be used for nuclear centrifuges and committing other elementary errors that could have been avoided by simply checking with the IAEA and other real experts.

By the way, we need to put away this “hawk” versus “dove” imagery. Who wants to be a “dove”? How about we replace it with “hyena” vs. “rhino”? Hyenas attack the weak and eat carrion; rhinos are peaceful vegetarians unless you rile them up, when they are good at defending themselves

So here is a list of people that the NYT could ask to write op-eds on the current crisis who might not buy into the inside-the-Beltway perennial conviction that “We can fix this, we must intervene, preferably militarily!”


Using Ukraine to Cook the Planet By Naomi Klein

The way to beat Vladimir Putin is to flood the European market with fracked-in-the-USA natural gas, or so the industry would have us believe. As part of escalating anti-Russian hysteria, two bills have been introduced into the US Congress – one in the House of Representatives (H.R. 6), one in the Senate (S. 2083) – that attempt to fast-track liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports, all in the name of helping Europe to wean itself from Putin's fossil fuels, and enhancing US national security.

According to Cory Gardner, the Republican congressman who introduced the House bill, "opposing this legislation is like hanging up on a 911 call from our friends and allies". And that might be true – as long as your friends and allies work at Chevron and Shell, and the emergency is the need to keep profits up amid dwindling supplies of conventional oil and gas.


Pennsylvania school district contract to cut 15 percent of teachers

Earlier this month, teachers in the Wilkinsburg Education Association (WEA), representing the 128 teachers in the Wilkinsburg School District in Pennsylvania, accepted a contract that will lay off 18 of their fellow workers, or 15 percent of teaching staff. This means 20 percent of the district’s teachers have been furloughed in two years, following the gutting last year of 10 teaching and three support staff positions.
Wilkinsburg, like many small school districts around the country, faces grinding poverty. It has been robbed of funding, first by the generous tax cuts given to corporations and then by the looting of state and local treasuries through the financial bailout of Wall Street.


Chicago Public Schools lays off 1,150 workers

In the latest attack on public education in the city of Chicago, Illinois, the city’s public school system is laying off more than one thousand workers, including teachers, teacher assistants and school staff.
Layoff notices were given to 550 teachers and 600 other workers Thursday. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) encouraged teachers to reapply for jobs elsewhere in the district, positions that typically receive lower pay.

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