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How A Network Of Nonprofits Enriches Fundraisers

In September 2020, the Federal Trade Commission joined regulators in four states to sue four men behind a notorious telemarketing company called Outreach Calling. The FTC alleged that the company, which it described as a “sprawling fundraising operation,” had raised millions on the promise of helping the needy — cancer patients, veterans, firefighters — but instead used the money to line its pockets. The case was meant to put fundraisers on notice. The FTC would not only go after charities that improperly spent donor dollars, but it would “aggressively pursue their fundraisers who participate in the deception,” a news release said.

The Slow Death Of A Prison Profiteer

Last week, the nation’s largest prison and jail telecom corporation, Securus, effectively defaulted on more than a billion dollars of debt. After decades of preying on incarcerated people and their loved ones with exploitative call rates and other predatory practices that have driven millions of families into debt, Securus is being crushed under the weight of its own. In March, the company’s creditors gave the corporation an eight-month extension to pay up, urging its sale to a new owner to stave off an otherwise imminent bankruptcy.

How Medicare Advantage Care Denials Affect Patients

In 2023, insurance behemoth UnitedHealth spent $8 billion buying back its stock to juice its stock price—and its executive compensation, which is tied to the company’s stock price. It spent 39% more on stock buybacks in 2023 than in 2022. In 2023, it also spent $6.7 billion on dividend payments—a 10% jump from the prior year. The company’s CEO, Sir Andrew Witty, pulled in nearly $21 million in 2022—a 13% hike from 2021. (His compensation for 2023 hasn’t been disclosed yet.) Also in 2023, UnitedHealth spent $10.76 million lobbying Congress.

French Farmers Give Macron A Headache

As French President Emmanuel Macron’s government, under new Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, moves ever further to the right, a radical mass movement is again shaking the country. Last year, the biggest workers’ movement for decades mobilised millions across the country in an attempt to defend retirement pensions. This year it is the turn of the farmers to revolt. Six thousand tractors were present at 120 blockades, and at least 16 motorways were brought to a standstill on January 30. Regional government headquarters have been covered with manure, and hypermarket distribution centres — as well as Toulouse airport — paralysed.

Profits And Payouts Over Passenger Safety

While the companies responsible for the door plug that blew out of a plane in mid-air last week were cutting corners, outsourcing manufacturing, laying off employees, and working to evade expensive safety upgrades, they paid their top executives $817 million and showered Wall Street investors with $68 billion in dividends and stock buybacks over the past decade. By some estimates, the amount spent on stock buybacks that enriched shareholders was more than the projected cost of making safety upgrades that experts say were necessary. Boeing, manufacturer of the 737 Max 9 jet that suffered the mid-flight rupture last week, laid off tens of thousands of workers in 2020, following the grounding of its entire 737 Max fleet after two catastrophic crashes that together killed 346 people.

Shock Treatment In The Emergency Room

One of the nation’s biggest employers of emergency physicians is liquidating, in one of the more unruly sagas American medicine has experienced since the first wave of the pandemic. The collapsing entity is American Physician Partners, a private equity–owned operator of about 135 hospital emergency rooms and hospital-owned “freestanding” ERs in 18 states, which was co-founded by a sitting Republican congressman. Until two weeks ago, the company was by all appearances relatively indistinguishable from the other deeply indebted, private equity–backed mega-practices that staff ERs with round-the-clock physicians and “midlevels” (physician assistants and nurse practitioners).

Climate Campaigners Outraged At Shell Maintaining Oil Production Levels

Shell has announced that it plans to maintain oil production levels until 2030. Green campaigners were outraged at the news from the British energy giant. Climate activists were also aghast at the company’s massive payout for shareholders. In 2021, based on output from 2019, Shell flagged a crude output reduction of between 1 and 2 % per year. This was supposed to be part of its carbon neutrality plan. However, on the 14 June the company said that production would remain stable until 2030. The Guardian reported that: Shell will invest $40bn in oil and gas production between 2023 and 2035, compared with between $10bn and $15bn in “low-carbon” products. A Shell spokesperson argued that this wasn’t a u-turn.

Drought Profiteers: Wall Street Billionaires Snatch Up America’s Water

It is time to stop calling the financial industry executives who are buying up freshwater “investors” or “hedge fund managers” and instead call them “drought profiteers.” I mean, you can also call them vultures and parasites. They all apply quite well. Come up with your own names for them. Get creative with it. Really listen to your heart. Water. We all need it to survive. It’s the main ingredient in alcohol. Just think of how many more people would be killed each year if we didn’t have alcohol to take the edge off. But here’s the problem: as the climate crisis causes drought around the world, the richest of the rich are snatching up all the fresh water.

Railroad Workers Call For Immediate Action To Prevent Train Wrecks

East Palestine, OH - It has been three weeks since the tragic train wreck that devastated this small town. Despite the initial lack of attention it received, politicians and bureaucrats have finally become aware of the tragedy. Railroad Workers United (RWU) urges everyone concerned not to be distracted by rhetoric, hyperbole, promises, and lies but instead to focus on the primary reasons for the derailment and take immediate action to prevent future disasters. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Preliminary Report released on February 23rd clearly stated that "This was 100% preventable..

Shocking News Of Downtown Hospital Closure Turns To Dread

Atlanta Medical Center’s impending closure “is incredibly tragic and disruptive to the patients,” said Grady Health System CEO John Haupert. It will create “a public health emergency,” said Dr. Mark Waterman, president of the medical staff at AMC. Patients used to AMC’s services, from regular medical ailments to its links with midwife clinics, scrambled to ask each other for options. Doctors who serve emergency trauma patients spoke in fear about the closure of the only other designated “Level 1 trauma center” besides Grady, capable of treating severe injuries from car wrecks, gunshots or head injuries from falls. Even worse than the loss of the neighboring trauma center will be the loss of its emergency room, which has functioned a relief valve for Grady’s constantly overcrowded ER.

We Gawk At Nonsense Political Theater While The Real Enemies Go Unnoticed

Donald Trump speeches. Celebrity tweets. Corporate news repetition. Chaos. Vapidity. Manufactured dissent. Graphic fighting sports. This is what fills our field of vision. It consumes our thoughts, overflows our brains with anti-intellectual mud. Yet most of these things are the bug splatter across the windshield. They are not the actual highway, the path forward, actually deserving of our focus. Looking beyond these distractions, one can see what really matters. The true stuff of life and death and oppression and justice.

The Pandemic Revealed US’s Zip Code Map Of Inequality

The stark divide in the level of health care from testing to treatment is divided by wealth and the legacy of systemic racism. In the words of Ed Yong of the Atlantic: “Chronic underfunding of public health neutered the nation’s ability to prevent the pathogen’s spread. A bloated, inefficient health-care system left hospitals ill-prepared for the ensuing wave of sickness. Racist policies that have endured since the days of colonization and slavery left Indigenous and Black Americans especially vulnerable to COVID-19.” Yong could also add Hispanics to that list, along with virtually any person of limited economic means, regardless of race. In the land of the free and the home of the brave, income and zip code determine everything. And this is not a new phenomenon. COVID-19 has both amplified and revealed these long-standing flaws, tragically reflected in its death count, but it is by no means a historical anomaly. Earlier pandemics reveal a similar pattern, suggesting a more widespread systemic problem: namely, that the high death counts relative to the rest of the world are an inescapable consequence of our for-profit, pervasively oligopolistic health care system. The problems of a for-profit health care system are exacerbated by the diversion of resources and skills into militarism, and unequal food distribution systems’ effect on diet and obesity.

Testing And Medical Insurance: A Profitable Disaster

In the midst of a capitalist crash and an out-of-control health crisis, two mega-industries that bear a heavy burden of responsibility for the health disaster are reporting soaring profits. “The nation’s leading health insurers are experiencing an embarrassment of profits,” reported the New York Times Aug. 6. “Anthem, Humana and United Health Group second quarter earnings are double what they were a year ago.” The U.S. has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases, over 5 million, and the highest number of deaths. In addition, millions of laid-off workers are losing health insurance.
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