Hundreds Of Billions In Taxes Avoided Off-Shore By Corporations

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By Staff of U.S. PIRG – U.S.-based multinational corporations are allowed to play by a different set of rules than small and domestic businesses or individuals when it comes to paying taxes. Corporate lobbyists and their congressional allies have riddled the U.S. tax code with loopholes and exceptions that enable tax attorneys and corporate accountants to book U.S.-earned profits in subsidiaries located in offshore tax haven countries with minimal or no taxes. Often a company’s operational presence in a tax haven may be nothing more than a mailbox. Overall, multinational corporations use tax havens to avoid an estimated $100 billion in federal income taxes each year. Every dollar in taxes that corporations avoid must be balanced by higher taxes on individuals, less public investments and services and more federal debt. But corporate tax avoidance is not inevitable. Congress could act tomorrow to shut down tax haven abuse by revoking laws that enable and encourage the practice of shifting money into offshore tax havens. This should be the cornerstone of any congressional tax reform effort. Instead, many in Congress are considering proposals that would make offshore tax avoidance worse. By failing to act, our elected officials are tacitly approving a status quo in which corporations don’t pay what they owe and ordinary Americans inevitably must make up the difference.

Supreme Court Rules In Favor Of Gov Transparency Against Private Prison Corps

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By Staff of CCRJustice – October 10, 2017, New York, NY – Today, the Supreme Court denied a petition by private prison corporations seeking to block the release of government documents about their immigration detention practices. In a case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and Detention Watch Network (DWN), under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a federal district court ruled in July 2016, that the government must release details of its contracts with private prison corporations. The government chose not to appeal; instead, the country’s two largest private prison corporations, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), recently rebranded as “CoreCivic,” intervened to appeal the decision to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which dismissed their petition in February. GEO then petitioned the Supreme Court for a full review of the case, asking for the right to prevent the government from releasing information under the FOIA. The Supreme Court’s decision lets stand the February ruling by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, which rejected the private contractors’ unusual attempt to fight for government secrecy when the government itself had acceded to the court’s ruling.

Tenants Push Back Against Corporate Landlords During “Renter Week Of Action”

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By Candice Bernd for Truthout – “One year in January we didn’t have any heat. They would come and they would quote-unquote ‘fix it’ during the day and by nightfall it would be completely gone and out,” Hasbrook said, describing how she and her neighbors were left exposed to the biting cold of a Minnesota winter. “For that month, I still got a bill that was over $100 for utility costs,” she said. All this, coupled with Frenz’s steady rent hikes over the years, led Hasbrook and other tenant-organizers to hold a protest and vigil on the front lawn of the slumlord’s mansion this week: to remind him of the substandard conditions she and the tenants of his 1,200 other units endure. “He did not come out. However, the sprinklers were turned on,” Hasbrook said. “But we just covered the sprinklers with bandanas and kept right on going.” The vigil was just one of several actions popping off this week in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area — and across the nation. Renters in 45 cities are organizing protests from September 16 through September 24, during a nationwide “National Renter Week of Action and Assemblies” spearheaded by the Right to the City Alliance to fight back against the Trump administration’s threat to cut billions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and to demand rent control and just-cause eviction policies.

These Corporations Have The Biggest Influence On Climate Policy

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By Lorraine Chow for Eco Watch – For better or worse, corporations have a major influence on climate change policy. Just look at Koch Industries, a multinational conglomerate owned by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch that has contributedhundreds of millions to federal candidates and lobbying over the last 25 years. The “Corporate Carbon Policy Footprint,” a new analysis from U.K. nonprofit InfluenceMap, now ranks Koch Industries as the company with the strongest opposition to the Paris climate agreement and most intensely lobbies against policies in line with the landmark global accord. The InfluenceMap scoring system does not measure a company’s actual greenhouse gas emissions. Rather, it measures “the extent to which a corporation is supporting or obstructing the climate policy process.” For the InfluenceMap report, researchers analyzed more than “30,000 pieces of evidence” on 250 global companies and 50 major trade associations on their lobbying records, advertising, public relations and sponsored research, according to Bloomberg. The research group gave the Wichita-based company an “F” grade for its anti-climate actions: “Koch Industries appears to be actively opposing almost all areas of climate legislation. In 2014 in the US, they were reportedly active in their opposition to a carbon tax, funding politicians and campaigns to oppose the tax.

The Activists Who Helped Shut Down Trump’s CEO Councils

Mr Trump has said he needs more to time to decide whether to pull out of the Paris climate change agreement Evan Vucci/AP

By Sarah Anderson for Inequality – The CEOs who made up two White House advisory councils have fled like rats on a sinking ship. Their exodus — a dramatic rebuke of Donald Trump — came within 48 hours of the incendiary August 15 press conference where the President praised some of the participants of last week’s white supremacist rampage in Charlottesville, Virginia. But many of the CEOs on these councils had been under heavy pressure to disavow Trump’s agenda of hate and racism even before Charlottesville. That pressure came from grassroots activists. The Center for Popular Democracy, Make The Road New York, New York Communities for Change, and several other immigrant and worker advocates had led that activist campaign, targeting the leaders of nine major corporations affiliated with the Trump administration. The campaign, working through a web site called Corporate Backers of Hate, detailed the connections between the nine companies and the Trump administration and encouraged people to send emails to both the CEOs involved and members of their corporate boards. Throughout the spring and summer, the campaign also held protests against the companies, including a civil disobedience action at the JPMorgan Chase headquarters on May Day…

Youngstown Residents Push To Oust Corporations From Election Campaigns

After several attempts to ban fracking in Youngstown, Ohio, the community rights movement is focusing on ending outside industry contributions to local election campaigns.   (Image: protectyoungstown.org)

By Staff of In These Times – Today, a long-standing community rights group in Youngstown, Ohio, submitted over 1,900 signatures to qualify their Youngstown Fair Election Bill of Rights initiative for the November ballot. The measure is the first of its kind in the state, limiting campaign contributions to registered voters within the City, and capping those contributions at $100. The Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee drafted the initiative with the support of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). CELDF has been assisting Youngstown residents to advance their democratic and environmental rights since 2013, when residents launched their community rights work to protect themselves from fracking activities. Fracking threatens their drinking water and has caused earthquakes in the area. “We have fought to keep fracking projects out of our City for several years, with six ballot measures that asserted our right to clean water and to local community self-government,” says Lynn Anderson, a lead organizer with the Youngstown Committee.

Activist Investors Must Disrupt Corporate Business As Usual

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By Clara Herzberg for Truthout – Once known by terms like “asset strippers” or “corporate raiders,” activist investors — shareholders who take large stakes in a company and pressure or replace its management in order to raise share prices — have now entered the mainstream and are spreading like wildfire. Hundreds of companies are being singled out by activist investors, who are hungrily adding European firms to their target list after having nearly saturated the US market. Most recently, financier Nelson Peltz set his eyes on Proctor & Gamble (P&G), disclosing a $3.5 billion stake in the consumer goods behemoth and announcing that he’s vying for a seat on the board. The move came a few weeks after Third Point, led by activist investor Daniel Loeb, clinched an equally large stake in Nestlé, the world’s biggest food company. Peltz, Loeb and other activists are now making headlines with their calls for P&G and Nestlé to shed unprofitable brands and streamline operations, all in a bid to boost their own bank accounts by reconfiguring their investees’ operations. Their supposedly “disruptive” campaigns to “shake things up” at bloated Fortune 500 firms have won them applause from the media, commentators and fellow investors.

Going Soft On Corporate Crime A Bipartisan Affair

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Corporate Crime Reporter

By Russell Mokhiber for Corporate Crime Reporter – Donald Trump is not a fan of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the law that says it’s illegal for any person — corporate or human — to bribe overseas. And you could argue that the Trump Justice Department’s first two FCPA enforcement cases reflect Trump’s point of view.Trump has called the FCPA “a horrible law” and has said that the law “puts us at a huge disadvantage.” Both were declinations — despite the fact that the companies disclosed illegal overseas payments and agreed to disgorge illegally gained proceeds. Some are using the cases to ask the question — is Trump soft on corporate crime? As the lawyers say, let’s stipulate for the record that he is. But let’s also remember that going soft on corporate crime was perfected by the Democrats. The Obama Justice Department, for example, regularly used declinations — five in Obama’s last year in office — and non prosecution agreements — 22 over the eight years of his administration — to settle corporate FCPA matters. And since September 2015, when the Obama administration put out the Yates memo calling for more prosecutions of individual executives, there have been 20 FCPA corporate prosecution agreements — yet not one individual has been charged in connection with those cases.

US Expanding Militarization & Corporate Looting In Central America

An injured protester flees as riot police use tear gas and batons to disperse a demonstration against the Tambor mining project at La Puya on May 23, 2014. (Reuters/Jorge Dan Lopez)

By Jeff Abbott for Towards Freedom – In mid-June, the Presidents of the Northern Triangle (Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador) met with US Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly at the United States Southern Command base in Miami, Florida for the Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America. The Presidents were joined by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos. Their meeting looked at ways to transform the Alliance for Prosperity, a 2014 policy package that has since shaped relations between the US and Central America. The results of their meeting included plans to increase militarization of Central America while further opening the region to foreign investment. Their project involves dropping US aid to the region by roughly $300 million dollars, while combatting drug trafficking. The general approach reflects the model of Plan Colombia, originally applied by the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s and continued into today to the tune of billions of dollars.

Don’t Let Corporations Pick What Websites You Visit

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By Razan Azzarkani for Other Words – Think about the websites you visit. The movies you stream. The music you listen to online. The animal videos that are just too cute not to share. Now think about the freedom to use the internet however and whenever you choose being taken away from you. That’s exactly what Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs), are trying to do. Right now, those companies are constrained by a principle called net neutrality — the so-called “guiding principle of the internet.” It’s the idea that people should be free to access all the content available online without ISPs dictating how, when, and where that content can be accessed. In other words, net neutrality holds that the company you pay for internet access can’t control what you do online. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted strong net neutrality rules that banned ISPs from slowing down connection speeds to competing services — e.g., Comcast can’t slow down content or applications specific to Verizon because it wants you to switch to their services — or blocking websites in an effort to charge individuals or companies more for services they’re already paying for. But now the open internet as we know it is under threat again. Net neutrality rules are in danger of being overturned by Donald Trump’s FCC chairman Ajit Pai and broadband companies like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.

Citizens Begin Reclaiming Coal Country After Decades Of Corporate Land Grabs

The Appalachian Citizen’s Law Center recently found it would cost more than $9.6 billion to reclaim the 6.2 million acres of lands and waters of abandoned and polluted mine sites.

Photo of West Virginia mountaintop by Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images.

By Emma Eisenberg for Yes! Magazine – “Land is the most important thing to us, yet it’s not clear at all who owns it,” says Karen Rignall, assistant professor of community and leadership development at the University of Kentucky. “Without broad-scale knowledge of the patterns of land ownership this region cannot work together to move forward. But who owns it on paper is not always who owns it in actuality. That takes time and money to find out.” The coal industry of central Appalachia has been on the decline for more than 30 years, with West Virginia and Kentucky losing more than 38,000 coal jobs in that time. As coal companies pulled out, they took with them the dollars that small towns used to use to fund their schools and infrastructure, and left behind abandoned mines, polluted rivers and vast swaths of vacant land. All over Appalachia, communities and organizations are working around the clock to come up with a way to “justly transition” the Appalachian economy to whatever comes next. Rignall and postdoctoral researcher Lindsay Shade are collaborating with a growing group of citizens that think a part of the answer to a post-coal economy may lie with an old land ownership study—and have been inspired by it to do a new one.

Detecting What Unravels Our Society – Bottom-up And Top-down

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By Staff of The Nader Page – The unraveling of a society’s institutions, stability and reasonable order does not sound alarms to forewarn the citizenry, apart from economic yardsticks measuring poverty, jobs, wages, health, savings, profits and other matters economic. However, we do have some signs that we should not allow ourselves to ignore. Maliciousness, profiteering and willful ignorance on the part of our political and corporate rulers undoubtedly contribute to worsening injustice. Let’s consider some ways that we as citizens, far too often, collectively allow this to happen. Democracy is threatened when citizens refuse to participate in power, whether by not voting, not thinking critically about important issues, not showing up for civic activities or allowing emotional false appeals and flattery by candidates and parties to sway them on important issues. Without an informed and motivated citizenry, the society starts to splinter. If people do not do their homework before Election Day and know what to expect of candidates and of themselves, the political TV ads and the plutocrats’ campaign cash will take control of what is on the table and what is off the table. This leads to the most important changes a majority of Americans want ending up on the floor.

Digital Media Companies: Net Neutrality Rules Help Us Compete

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By Sara Fischer for Axios – Why it matters: Many news publishers believe the current net neutrality rules help them survive in an economic environment that already favors tech and telecom companies that distribute content over media companies that create it. In comments to the FCC, Digital Content Next CEO Jason Kint argues on behalf of nearly 80 online publishers that the rule prohibiting internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast from blocking a consumer’s ability to access lawful content should remain clearly intact. He also argues that the regulation banning those providers from striking financial deals to give priority to certain content on their networks should remain intact. DCN’s position that the rules ensure that all types of content can get to consumers is generally echoed by the Internet Association, which represents tech giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and Netflix. Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast support the FCC’s efforts to roll back the rules, saying the current rules went beyond the agency’s authority.

Just 100 Companies Responsible For 71% Of Global Emissions, Study Says

An oil rig exploring for oil and gas. A new report says more than 50% of global industrial emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 25 companies. Photograph: Dazman/Getty Images/iStockphoto

By Tess Riley for The Guardian – Just 100 companies have been the source of more than 70% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions since 1988, according to a new report. The Carbon Majors Report (pdf) “pinpoints how a relatively small set of fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions,” says Pedro Faria, technical director at environmental non-profit CDP, which published the report in collaboration with the Climate Accountability Institute. Traditionally, large scale greenhouse gas emissions data is collected at a national level but this report focuses on fossil fuel producers. Compiled from a database of publicly available emissions figures, it is intended as the first in a series of publications to highlight the role companies and their investors could play in tackling climate change. The report found that more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 – the year the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established – can be traced to just 25 corporate and state-owned entities. The scale of historical emissions associated with these fossil fuel producers is large enough to have contributed significantly to climate change, according to the report. ExxonMobil, Shell, BP and Chevron are identified as among the highest emitting investor-owned companies since 1988.

Biomass Industry’s Hollow Self-Regulatory Scheme Has Been Exposed

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By Adam Macon and Sasha Stashwick for AlterNet – If we want clean air and a livable planet, cutting down trees for fuel is one of the most counterproductive things we can do. Standing forests are a critical tool in the fight against climate change. Cutting trees down to use as fuel in energy production—known as biomass energy or bioenergy—is one of the most counterproductive things we can do if our goal is clean air and a livable planet. Despite this reality, policymakers around the world have invested heavily in bioenergy. Nowhere is this more true than in the European Union, where bioenergy policies in the U.K. and other member states enable billions in subsidies each year to flow to the balance sheets of large utility companies, padding their profits and financing the conversion of old coal-fired power plants to burn wood. Meanwhile, the evidence of the climate and ecological harm wrought by the biomass industry continues to mount. Yet too many policymakers remain unwilling to acknowledge the impacts of bioenergy and adequately limit its growth. They argue that the industry’s impacts on the climate, forests, and people are still uncertain, that we need more studies, more “proof.”