By André Campos for Mongabay – Products derived from timber extracted by workers living in conditions analogous to slave labor in Brazil are connected to a complex business network linked to the U.S. market – possibly reaching the shelves of large retailers and being used in renovation of landmarks – according to a new investigation conducted by Brazilian news outlet Repórter Brasil. After purchasing from suppliers held liable for that crime by the Brazilian government, local traders exported timber to companies like USFloors, which supplies the retail chain Lowe’s, as well as Timber Holdings, which supplied timber for construction projects at Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge in New York.
By Staff of ITEP – “This study is a long-term, unprecedented examination of corporation taxes paid—or not paid—by the nation’s biggest, most profitable firms,” said Matthew Gardner, an ITEP senior fellow and lead author of the report. “It reveals that many of the big corporations that are lobbying for a lower corporate tax rate to be more ‘competitive’ already pay substantially less than the 35 percent statutory rate.” The study examines eight years of data on federal income taxes paid by Fortune 500 firms that provided sufficient, reliable information in their financial reports to allow calculation of their effective U.S. and foreign tax rates.
By Pete Dolack of Systemic Disorder – This being the age of public relations, the genteel term “public-private partnership” is used instead of corporate plunder. A “partnership” such deals may be, but it isn’t the public who gets the benefits. We’ll be hearing more about so-called “public-private partnerships” in coming weeks because the new U.S. president, Donald Trump, is promoting these as the basis for a promised $1 trillion in new infrastructure investments. But the new administration has also promised cuts to public spending. How to square this circle? It’s not difficult to discern when we recall the main policy of the Trump administration is to hand out massive tax cuts to big business and the wealthy, and provide them with subsidies. Public-private partnerships are one of the surest ways of shoveling money into the gaping maws of corporate wallets, used, with varying names, by neoliberal governments around the world, particularly in Europe and North America.
By Staff of Popular Resistance – There’s a reason we ended up with ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and we ALMOST ended up with a Labor Secretary in Andy Puzder who prefers robots to humans. The answer is simple: We, the taxpayer, have always subsidized the costs of corporations to slowly kill us while making the pockets of corporate CEOs fatter. A closer look at fast food production in this country shows exactly that. Animal agriculture industries, such as factory farming, that contribute to us eating those artery clogging cheeseburgers come at the added expense of increased water and air pollution. We are paying the price for this environmental destruction literally and figuratively.
By Emily Johnston for AlterNet – I’ve been thinking a lot about risk lately—what we’re willing to risk, and why. I was one of five activists who turned off the major tar sands pipelines coming into the United States on Oct. 11, 2016. As a result, I’m risking prison time, ostensibly for property damage (we cut a few chains to access the valves), but really for being disobedient to business as usual. It’s also possible they’ll file a restitution suit, for temporarily disrupting a pipeline that’s highly profitable for some, at the expense of all others. I took part in the action in full awareness of these risks—in dread of them, to some degree—because of the risk that Enbridge and the other companies engaged in the extraction…
By Editors of PRWatch – Voters spoke very clearly on November 8 when they elected to raise the minimum wage in Arizona and Maine, along with Colorado and Washington State. But those wins, the democratic process, and the express will of the people are being defied and denied in Arizona and Maine, where corporate lobbyists and their legislative allies are working to block, delay, even rewrite the laws approved on Election Day. These efforts to flout voter-approved laws are part of ongoing conservative and corporate-backed strategies to keep wages low.
By Jessica Floum for Oregon Live. Portland City Council approved the controversial plan 3-1 Wednesday, making a statement about growing income disparity in the United States while giving Commissioner Steve Novick a legacy piece in his final weeks in City Hall. The tax targets publicly traded companies whose chief executives report salaries at least 100 times higher than the salary of a median worker. Officials expect to raise $2.5 million a year starting in January 2018, with Novick hoping the money will help pay for homeless services. “This is as close as I’ve ever (come) to a tax on inequality itself,” said Novick, the first incumbent tossed from city council in 24 years after an upset loss to housing activist Chloe Eudaly last month. Novick said he also hopes the tax might discourage companies — well beyond Portland — from paying disproportionate salaries to their CEOs. He cited French economist Thomas Piketty, who calls escalating pay for top executives a major cause of the consolidation of wealth among the world’s top 1 percent of earners.
By Steve Rendall for FAIR – On CNN (12/2/16), anchor Carol Costello introduced a story about how Donald Trump is convening a panel of prominent CEOs to consult with on a monthly basis on issues including job growth and taxes. CNN reporter Christina Alesci reported excitedly that the panel, assembled by the Blackstone Group’s CEO Stephen Schwartzman, will be made up of a “who’s who” of “bipartisan CEOs,” including GM’s Mary Barra, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, Disney‘s Bob Iger, Doug McMillon of Walmart and Jack Welch, former GE CEO.
By Bernie Sanders for Medium – Our infrastructure is collapsing, and the American people know it. Every day, they drive on roads with unforgiving potholes and over bridges that are in disrepair. They wait in traffic jams and ride in overcrowded subways. They see airports bursting at the seams. They see the need for a modern rail system. They worry that a local levee or dam could fail in a storm. During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump correctly talked about rebuilding our country’s infrastructure.
By Ari Paul for FAIR – Liberals had a good laugh this summer when CNN’s Brianna Keilar (8/17/16) insisted to Donald Trump campaign lawyer Michael Cohen that his team was “down” in the race. “Says who?” he asked. Keilar snarked back: “Polls. Most of them. All of them?” At the time, it was the sickest of all burns. As the polls kept forecasting a clear win for Hillary Clinton, Trump fans went back and forth between complaining about a rigged system and accusing the polls of being dishonest.
By Staff of GMA – OLYMPIA — In a historic decision, a Thurston County Superior Court judge today ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association to pay $18 million in penalties and punitive damages, after Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit revealed GMA intentionally violated Washington campaign finance laws. The case arose from Ferguson’s investigation of the finances of opposition to voter Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food sold to consumers.
By Ryan Gallagher and Nicky Hager for The Intercept – IT WAS A POWERFUL piece of technology created for an important customer. The Medusa system, named after the mythical Greek monster with snakes instead of hair, had one main purpose: to vacuum up vast quantities of internet data at an astonishing speed. The technology was designed by Endace, a little-known New Zealand company. And the important customer was the British electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.
By Rael Mora for TeleSUR – The production and consumption of natural Andean and Amazonian ancestral products in Peru is threatened by the “biopiracy” of foreign companies who have filed over 11,690 patents for the domestic produce of the region, effectively poaching the natural heritage of the country. The resources are said to be rich in nutrients and vitamins and range from those with anti-aging properties to those that act as natural aphrodisiacs.
By Joseph E. Stiglitz and Mark Pieth for Transcend Media Service – 29 Sep 2016 – I’ll confess that my jaw dropped when I looked beyond the headlines about the Panama Papers last spring and began to read the fine print. “Panama Papers” is shorthand for the widely publicized report of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, originally published on April 3, 2016. The story broke simultaneously on the I.C.I.J. Web site and in newspapers around the world and detailed what had been going on behind a cloak of secrecy.
By Thom Hartmann for AlterNet – The US is increasingly no longer a country; instead, we’re being run like a business, and in some cases, it’s literally killing us. Take for example, the ongoing problem of foodborne illnesses like Salmonella, which infects more than 1 million Americans every year. One of the most common ways of contracting Salmonella is by eating eggs.