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Bill USA

Profile Information

Member since: Wed Mar 3, 2010, 05:25 PM
Number of posts: 6,436

About Me

Quotes I like: "Prediction is very difficult, especially concerning the future." "There are some things so serious that you have to laugh at them.” __ Niels Bohr Given his contribution to the establishment of quantum mechanics, I guess it's not surprising he had such a quirky of sense of humor. ......................."Deliberate misinterpretation and misrepresentation of another's position is a basic technique of (dis)information processing" __ I said that

Journal Archives

HOW AMERICA’S BIG-BOX RETAILERS TURN THEIR ECONOMIC POWER INTO POLITICAL INFLUENCE

http://www.demos.org/publication/retail-politics-how-america%E2%80%99s-big-box-retailers-turn-their-economic-power-political-infl

The notion that all citizens have a voice in our country’s governance is at the center of the American ideal of democracy. Yet the role of corporate and private money in our political system means that the voices of the majority are often drowned out by those with the most money. The political spending of the country’s largest big-box retailers demonstrates how firms with low-wage business models turn massive profits into political leverage, embedding the inequality they perpetuate in the economy into the political system. This report examines the federal campaign spending and lobbying of the nation’s top earning big-box retailers, and finds that it is large and growing, and targeted at maintaining their economic power through political influence.

Big-box retailers spent $30 million on elections and lobbying during the 2014 election cycle, almost six times more than they spent in 2000.

Walmart and Home Depot—through their Political Action Committee (PAC) and individual donations—are ranked among the 100 biggest political donors in the country.

The country's largest big-box retailers spent a total of $111 million since the 2000 election cycle lobbying Congress on issues like corporate tax reform, health care, and labor, antitrust, and workplace regulations.
(MORE)

Robert Reich- Foreign corporations contribute unlimited amounts to campaigns thanx to CitizensUnited

https://www.facebook.com/RBReich/posts/858896700789594
[font size="3"]
The New York Times reports this morning that more than a dozen prominent Washington think tanks have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign sources in recent years while pushing U.S. government to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities. But the Times misses the really big story about foreign influence in Washington: Global corporations owned and run largely or partially by non-Americans that since the Supreme Court’s shameful “Citizen’s United” decision have been pouring unlimited sums into election campaigns. This includes major foreign-based banks, pharmaceutical and high-tech companies, as well as American-based global companies whose management and shareholders are substantially non-American. It’s a back door for non-Americans to have their way in our nation’s capital. In 2012 they began donating big-time to SuperPACs and secret 501-c-4 “social welfare” entities that don’t have to disclose sources of their money, and the sums are increasing. It's exactly what Justice John Paul Stevens anticipated in his prescient dissent in the case.

This is why all political expenditures must be fully disclosed, why public corporations must report all campaign contributions, and "Citizens United" must be reversed if not by the Court then by constitutional amendment. It's also why corporations using tax inversions to desert the United States must no longer have a voice in American politics.[/font]


here's the NYT article about foreign corporations buying influence in prominent think tanks

Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Think Tanks
WASHINGTON — The agreement signed last year by the Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs was explicit: For $5 million, Norway’s partner in Washington would push top officials at the White House, at the Treasury Department and in Congress to double spending on a United States foreign aid program.

But the recipient of the cash was not one of the many Beltway lobbying firms that work every year on behalf of foreign governments.

It was the Center for Global Development, a nonprofit research organization, or think tank, one of many such groups in Washington that lawmakers, government officials and the news media have long relied on to provide independent policy analysis and scholarship.

More than a dozen prominent Washington research groups have received tens of millions of dollars from foreign governments in recent years while pushing United States government officials to adopt policies that often reflect the donors’ priorities, an investigation by The New York Times has found.
(more)

Israel Shaken by 5 Deaths in Palestinian Synagogue Assault

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/19/world/middleeast/killings-in-jerusalem-synagogue-complex.html?_r=0


JERUSALEM — The Orthodox Jewish men were facing east, to honor the Old City site where the ancient temples once stood, when two Palestinians armed with a gun, knives and axes burst into their synagogue Tuesday morning, shouting “God is great!” in Arabic. Within moments, three rabbis and a fourth pious man lay dead, blood pooling on their prayer shawls and holy books.

The assailants, cousins from East Jerusalem, were killed at the scene in a gun battle with the police that wounded two officers; one died of his injuries Tuesday night. Politicians and others around the world condemned the attack and the rising religious dimension of the spate of violence, which has been attributed mainly to a struggle over the very site the victims were praying toward.

[div class="excerpt" style="width:550px;background:#aaaacc;"]

Four people were killed while worshiping in a synagogue in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in West Jerusalem on Tuesday. Police said the two Palestinian attackers were killed. Video by Reuters on Publish Date November 18, 2014. Photo by Mahmoud Illean/Associated Press.



“The murderers for today’s outrageous acts represent the kind of extremism that threatens to bring all of the Middle East into the kind of spiral from which it’s very difficult to emerge,” President Obama said from the White House. “But we have to remind ourselves that the majority of Palestinians and Israelis overwhelmingly want peace and to be able to raise their families knowing they’re safe and secure.”

The 7 a.m. invasion of a synagogue complex that is the heart of community life in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Har Nof, in West Jerusalem, was the deadliest attack on Israeli civilians in more than three years and the worst in the city since 2008, when eight students were slain at a yeshiva. It brought to 11 the number of Israelis — including a baby, a soldier and a border police officer — killed in the past month.
(more)

A Congressional committee investigation NO REPUBLICANS SHOWED UP FOR! THIS IS GOOD!

Senators grill New York Fed chief over reports of lax bank oversight (i.e. Too Cozy with banks they are supposed to be regulating)


[font size="3"]“Either you need to fix it, Mr. Dudley, or we need to get someone who will.”
- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

"No Republican senators attended the hearing."
[/font]



Democratic senators on Friday hammered a key regulator over reports of lax oversight of large Wall Street banks that they said posed a risk to the financial system and broader economy..

William Dudley, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, faced nearly two hours of aggressive questioning from some of the most outspoken critics of the nation's biggest financial firms.

The senators dismissed Dudley's assertion that the banking system was safer now than it was before the 2008 financial crisis.

And they accused the New York Fed of having a culture of deferring to the large firms, such as Goldman Sachs Group and JPMorgan Chase & Co., they are responsible for regulating.
(more)


[font size="3"]Republican Members of the committee who thought this hearing wasn't worth showing up for (probably working on speeches laying curses on and demonizing the President)

Patrick J. Toomey (Ranking Member)
Richard C. Shelby
David Vitter
Mike Johanns
Jerry Moran
Dean Heller
Bob Corker


[/font]



Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection



Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs: Financial Institutions and Consumer Protection - on Senate website


Republican Subcommittee Members

Patrick J. Toomey (Ranking Member)
Richard C. Shelby
David Vitter
Mike Johanns
Jerry Moran
Dean Heller
Bob Corker


Democratic Subcommittee Members

Sherrod Brown (Chairman)
Jack Reed
Charles E. Schumer
Robert Menendez
Jon Tester
Jeff Merkley
Kay R. Hagan
Elizabeth Warren

If Democrats thought like Republicans rather than fight any Keystone Pipeline bill they would have


... amended it to permit running the pipeline to the Twin Cities / Chicago area where there is all kinds of refining capacity AND you are close to the population center of the country.

Well, the Big Oil companies should LOVE that --- I mean, the oil IS FOR THE U.S. market ISN'T IT!


original: http://www.democraticunderground.com/112778086

If Democrats thought like Republicans rather than fight any Keystone Pipeline bill they would have

... amended it to permit running the pipeline to the Twin Cities / Chicago area where there is all kinds of refining capacity AND you are close to the population center of the country.

Well, the Big Oil companies should LOVE that --- I mean, the oil IS FOR THE U.S. market ISN'T IT!

Tom Coburn inciting to riot with hysterical, Repugnant-speak.

.. Tom Coburn, obviously feels being a Republican, he enjoys a wider lattitude in terms of what he can say. Coburn said that people might react with violence to the PResident's using a Presidential Executive Order to keep some people from being deported - until their situation is clarified with some Immigration legislation.

Apparently Coburn feels since he's a Republican he is allowed to speak irresponsibly. That people will just say: "Oh it's just another insane Repugnant hysterical rant." But given that he is a member of the Government, he is giving some legitimacy to the idea of committing acts of violence. This is nothing but inciting people to riot. Coburn should be censured by the Senate and since he made these statements off the floor of Congress, he should be charged with inciting to riot. Even if you are a Republican there are some minimum standards of responsible behavior to be met.

Hm-m-m-m, time for a petition? ... We the People


http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/19/usa-today-capital-download-with-tom-coburn/19263969/

WASHINGTON — Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn warns there could be not only a political firestorm but acts of civil disobedience and even violence in reaction to President Obama's executive order on immigration Thursday.

"The country's going to go nuts, because they're going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it's going to be a very serious situation," Coburn said on Capital Download. "You're going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. ... You could see violence."
(more)

GOP "Crosscheck" program could erase millions of voters from the rolls, - Greg Palast

http://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/3/jim_crow_returns_interstate_crosscheck_program

(see video at Democracy Now.org)

On the eve of the midterm elections, we air a report by investigative journalist Greg Palast on how new voter ID laws risk disenfranchising millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters. Twenty-seven states are now participating in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. Backers say it is needed to prevent voter fraud, but critics say it is being used to stop Democratic-leaning voters from going to the polls. Tens of thousands of names have already been removed, and millions more are threatened. Based on a six-month investigation, Palast’s report originally aired on Al Jazeera America. A Puffin Foundation fellow, Palast is the author of the New York Times best-seller, "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps."

(more)

Private Equity at Work - When Wall Street Manages Main Street - Eileen Appelbaum & Rosemary Batt


https://www.russellsage.org/publications/private-equity-work

Private equity firms have long been at the center of public debates on the impact of the financial sector on Main Street companies. Are these firms financial innovators that save failing businesses or financial predators that bankrupt otherwise healthy companies and destroy jobs? The first comprehensive examination of this topic, Private Equity at Work provides a detailed yet accessible guide to this controversial business model. Economist Eileen Appelbaum and Professor Rosemary Batt carefully evaluate the evidence—including original case studies and interviews, legal documents, bankruptcy proceedings, media coverage, and existing academic scholarship—to demonstrate the effects of private equity on American businesses and workers. They document that while private equity firms have had positive effects on the operations and growth of small and mid-sized companies and in turning around failing companies, the interventions of private equity more often than not lead to significant negative consequences for many businesses and workers.

Prior research on private equity has focused almost exclusively on the financial performance of private equity funds and the returns to their investors. Private Equity at Work provides a new roadmap to the largely hidden internal operations of these firms, showing how their business strategies disproportionately benefit the partners in private equity firms at the expense of other stakeholders and taxpayers. In the 1980s, leveraged buyouts by private equity firms saw high returns and were widely considered the solution to corporate wastefulness and mismanagement. And since 2000, nearly 11,500 companies—representing almost 8 million employees—have been purchased by private equity firms. As their role in the economy has increased, they have come under fire from labor unions and community advocates who argue that the proliferation of leveraged buyouts destroys jobs, causes wages to stagnate, saddles otherwise healthy companies with debt, and leads to subsidies from taxpayers.

Appelbaum and Batt show that private equity firms’ financial strategies are designed to extract maximum value from the companies they buy and sell, often to the detriment of those companies and their employees and suppliers. Their risky decisions include buying companies and extracting dividends by loading them with high levels of debt and selling assets. These actions often lead to financial distress and a disproportionate focus on cost-cutting, outsourcing, and wage and benefit losses for workers, especially if they are unionized.

Because the law views private equity firms as investors rather than employers, private equity owners are not held accountable for their actions in ways that public corporations are. And their actions are not transparent because private equity owned companies are not regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Thus, any debts or costs of bankruptcy incurred fall on businesses owned by private equity and their workers, not the private equity firms that govern them. For employees this often means loss of jobs, health and pension benefits, and retirement income. Appelbaum and Batt conclude with a set of policy recommendations intended to curb the negative effects of private equity while preserving its constructive role in the economy. These include policies to improve transparency and accountability, as well as changes that would reduce the excessive use of financial engineering strategies by firms.
(more)

New ‘Solar Cloth’ Allows Solar Cells To Be Stretched Across Parking Lots, Stadiums

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/11/14/3592449/solar-cloth-parking-lots/

A British start-up has developed a way for parking lots and structures with roofs that can’t take much weight to harness the power of the sun.



The Cambridge, England-based Solar Cloth Company is beginning to run trials of its solar cloth, which uses lightweight photovoltaic fabric that can be stretched across parking lots or on buildings that can’t hold heavy loads, such as sports stadiums with lightweight, retractable roofs. Perry Carroll, Solar Cloth Company’s founder, told BusinessGreen that the company is working to close deals to install solar cloth on 27,000 parking lots.

“We have built a growing sales pipeline worth £4.2m [about $6.57 million] for 2015, including park and ride projects, airport parking operators and retail park owners,” he said.

According to Solar Cloth Company, there are about 320 square miles of roof space and 135 square miles of parking space in the U.K. that could be covered by solar cloth, and if all of these spaces were covered, the solar power produced would be enough to power the U.K.’s grid three times.

The key to solar cloth’s adaptability is its lightweight nature. An approximately ten square-meter piece of the cloth weighs about 7.3 pounds, far less than a traditional, silicone-based solar panel’s weight of about 35 to 48 pounds. The material is also flexible, which allows it to be installed on most roofs, regardless of their shape.
(more)
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