Public pension funds benefiting nearly 26 million Americans have invested $1.3 trillion in high-risk, high-fee “alternative” investments like private equity, hedge funds, and private real estate that have been wracked with corruption scandals and financial misconduct. Those pension funds could soon face a reckoning, as the downturn in the stock market spreads to these alternative investments, resulting in costly reductions of their estimated value and in turn, increased contributions from state and local governments to meet those losses. But most public pension members and beneficiaries have no way of knowing the extent of distress facing their investments. That’s because public pension funds rely on valuations provided by the managers themselves.
Ahead of next week's key meeting between the United States and 13 Asian and Australiasian nations, more than 100 civil society groups told the Biden administration on Friday that transparent negotiations and increased public input are necessary to prevent an embryonic trade deal from being perceived as the latest iteration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "We share your goal of creating a new model for U.S. trade policy that prioritizes the interests of working people, communities of color, the environment, consumers, and family farmers instead of just big corporations," the coalition wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden. "The launch of your administration's Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) may be a test case for what this model looks like and what it can achieve."
A little known fact, even to those who work there, is that the AFL-CIO organizes in support of US imperialist policies that drive a global race to the bottom in wages and working conditions, negatively impacting US workers too. The AFL-CIO's Solidarity Center is one of the four core components of the National Endowment for Democracy. Clearing the FOG speaks with Kim Scipes, a co-founder of the new Labor Education Project on the AFL-CIO's International Operations (LEPAIO). Scipes describes the long history of labor imperialism and how unions are challenging it. Adrienne Pine provides a brief report on workers protesting the brutal labor practices of the State Department's main contractor, BL Harbert, building the US Embassy in Honduras.
During this section there was a very notable proposal introduced by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, NY requesting that the General Dynamics Board of Directors prepare a human rights report. The proposal points out that General Dynamics’ products and services are used by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Israel, and U.S. government agencies at the U.S.-Mexico border. As General Dynamics’ weapons are used in war crimes and human rights violations against Yemenis, Palestinians, asylum-seekers and beyond, this proposal rightfully calls for General Dynamics to develop and provide transparency on their process to address and remedy the “actual and potential human rights impacts associated with high-risk products and services.”
The slow roll has begun. With transparency thrown out the window, the Navy’s announced on January 26 that it would release only the summary of the report on how jet fuel got into the water supply. “When the review is complete, we expect the Navy to provide a summary of the conclusions in a public release,” the chief of information for the Navy declared. The Navy has released full reports of previous leaks from the Red Hill tanks. The full report was given to the Commander of the US Navy’s Pacific Command, 12 days ago on January 14 and the completed report was only acknowledged on January 24. The Sierra Club’s attorney David Kimo Frankel said, “The Navy continues to stonewall the public.”
Washington — In remarks to the National Congress of American Indians 2021 Mid Year Conference today, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced a Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, a comprehensive review of the troubled legacy of federal boarding school policies. Today’s announcement is accompanied by a secreterial memo in which Secretary Haaland directs the Department to prepare a report detailing available historical records, with an emphasis on cemeteries or potential burial sites, relating to the federal boarding school program in preparation for a future site work. This work will occur under the supervision of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. “The Interior Department will address the inter-generational impact of Indian boarding schools to shed light on the unspoken traumas of the past, no matter how hard it will be,” said Secretary Haaland.
Washington - Concerning the Finders cult — the elusive Washington, D.C.-based outfit whose antics and ties we began examining in Part 1 of this series — one set of documents in particular held the most explosive allegations made against the group and against the CIA for allegedly covering the story up. Despite their contents, almost no corporate press ever quoted from these documents or addressed the concerns they raise. This article will attempt to remedy that deficit of coverage by fully exploring what the documents have to say. I previously described the 1987 arrest of two well-dressed men in Tallahassee, Florida, on charges of child abuse relating to six children found neglected, dirty, and hungry in their care.
Minneapolis, MN – Since Winston Smith was killed nearly two weeks ago in a secretive federal raid, no video evidence or any names of officers involved have been released. Minneapolis has seen another wave of protests not only because Smith was denied due process and executed while he sat in his car, but also due to the complete lack of accountability surrounding his death. Smith’s death, coupled with the murky narratives offered by authorities, has further eroded residents’ confidence in state and local police and their federal partners. This report covers new developments in Twin Cities surveillance, recent task forces like Operation Safety Net, FOIA stonewalling and the latest turns in law enforcement drone policy making.
Popular Information focuses a lot of attention on the activities of corporate PACs, even though the dollar figures involved are relatively small. Corporate PACs can contribute a maximum of $5,000 per election to a federal candidate. For a typical candidate that has a primary and general election, that's $10,000 per cycle. So why do we spend so much time tracking this spending? Because corporate PACs are one of the few aspects of corporate political spending that is fully transparent. All of the money donated by corporate PACs to federal candidates is reported to the FEC. Things are a bit more complex on the state level, but it's a similar dynamic. Most states also have fairly regular disclosure of corporate PAC donations. Some states allow corporations to donate directly to candidates but those donations still must be disclosed.
What began three years ago as a campaign to stop the spraying of weedkiller under power lines near homes in the Appalachian mountains of northeast Tennessee, has become an example of a more democratic process at electric cooperatives across the country. Member-owners of the Powell Valley Rural Electric Cooperative earned the right to opt-out of spraying, and persuaded their co-op board to let them attend board meetings in ways that were previously prohibited. Some members of Powell Valley have also begun to ask for a program to help members finance energy efficiency measures to save money. These were small steps toward a more transparent and responsive electricity provider, but small steps can lead to bigger ones, said Bill Kornrich, a retired arts administrator who, with friends and neighbors, is part of Powell Valley Electric Co-op Member Voices, a group that’s been behind the reforms.
The DC Circuit has ruled that the CIA is under no obligation to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests pertaining to its involvement with insurgent militias in Syria, overturning a lower court’s previous ruling in favor of a Buzzfeed News reporter seeking such documents. As Sputnik‘s Morgan Artyukhina clearly outlines, this ruling comes despite the fact that mainstream news outlets have been reporting on the Central Intelligence Agency’s activities in Syria for years, and despite a US president having openly tweeted about those activities. “In other words, the CIA will not be required to admit to actions it is widely reported as having done, much less divulge documents about them to the press for...
Since 2007, a number of TFF Associates – Fredrik Heffermehl to mention the leading world expert on it – have been engaged in creating awareness of the de facto and de jure misuse of the world’s in principle most prestigious prize – Alfred Nobel’s for peace. We usually do not post appeals on this public education for peace site. But this appeal, crafted by Heffermehl and David Swanson – deserves to be here. Please go to the appeal now and sign it. It is common sense and it is uncontroversial – unless you happen to believe in two things: a) that violence and war is better than peace, and...
On Monday a group of local Black Lives Matter chapters issued a statement to the public calling for more transparency and accountability from the Black Lives Matter Global Network (BLMGN), the umbrella structure for the Black lives matter structures. In what appears to be an ongoing internal discussion, the chapters claimed that BLMGN not only did not collaborate on political visioning and collective analysis with the chapters but shockingly, with the millions reported in the media that was raised from foundations and corporations, “most chapters have received little to no financial support since the launch in 2013.”
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, announcing last month that no police officers would be charged with homicide for killing Breonna Taylor, claimed members of a grand jury agreed with him in finding that cops "were justified" in opening fire. "My job is to present the facts to the grand jury and the grand jury then applies those facts to the law," Cameron explained, suggesting those facts informed the decision to indict only one officer on three counts of first-degree "wanton endangerment."