Waging Non-Violence: Can activists win the PR battle with the fossil fuel industry?

-By Adam Federman

August 6, 2013- In mid-June, Bold Nebraska — a grassroots environmental organization opposed to construction of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline — obtained documents that detail how local and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as the company responsible for building the pipeline, are working together to undermine peaceful political protest. The documents revealed that the company, TransCanada, had briefed the FBI as well as law enforcement officials — district attorneys, attorney generals and county sheriffs — in Oklahoma and Nebraska on the potential threat posed by environmental activists and local landowners. In their PowerPoint presentation the company suggested that district attorneys should explore “state or federal anti-terrorism laws” in prosecuting activists and provided a crude dossier on the key organizers. They also included a list of individuals previously arrested for acts of nonviolent civil disobedience in Texas and Oklahoma.

NBC News: Feds file civil charges against hedge fund giant Steven A. Cohen

-By John Carney CNBC.com

July 19, 2013- Steven Cohen's long personal immunity to the accusations of insider trading that have circled his hedge fund and former employees has come to an end.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced Friday that Cohen would have to answer to claims that he failed to "reasonably supervise" two senior people at SAC Capital who have been accused of engaging in criminal insider trading. Cohen's case is not, however, criminal and the SEC doesn't accuse him of engaging in insider trading.

Instead Cohen will be accused in an administrative hearing of failing to supervise the wrong doers. Penalties, if any, would be determined through the administrative hearing. The SEC said they could include fines and a bar from the securities industry, which could mean the end for SAC Capital.

Naked Capitalism: McDonalds Tells Workers to Toil 70 Hours a Week, Use Ripoff Payroll Cards as Part of "Financial Literacy"

-By Yves Smith

July 17, 2013- The poor have to endure not just the indignity of struggling to survive, but also from having to listen to pious lectures on how they really can proper on their meager incomes.

The McDonalds/Visa/”Wealth Watchers” version of this “let them eat cake” comes in the form of a website that drives home the message that if low wage workers like McDonalds employees just mustered up enough budget discipline, they can achieve “financial freedom”. The use of math, one imagines, is intended to make the advice seem objective rather than cynical and self serving. ThinkProgress, which pounced on this spreadsheet, pointed out how unattainable this sanitized, prettily-formatted elite fantasy is.


Media Matters: Will The Media Acknowledge U.S. Chamber's Sweep Of Supreme Court's Decisions?

-By Lara Schwartz

June 24, 2013- In less than one week, the Supreme Court has issued four decisions immunizing corporate defendants from liability for their wrongdoings and closing the courthouse door to individuals seeking redress. The Court handed victories to the pro-corporate U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has an unprecedented success rate before the Roberts Court and which filed amicus briefs in all of the cases.

As The Wall Street Journal reported before the Court issued three pro-corporate decisions on June 24:

While business litigants often found themselves on the winning side of cases under the tenure of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist, they have made advances since Chief Justice John Roberts took the helm in 2005.

Electronic Frontier Foundation: Chamber of Commerce Cries Uncle, Abandons Spurious Trademark Lawsuit Against the Yes Men

-By Corynne McSherry

June 13, 2013- The United States Chamber of Commerce has come to its senses at last and withdrawn its lawsuit against political activists the Yes Men. In the lawsuit, the Chamber had claimed that a 2009 press conference—in which a Yes Man posing as a Chamber of Commerce spokesperson announced the Chamber was reversing its long held position and endorsing climate change legislation—infringed the Chamber's trademark rights. Before the press conference was even completed, a Chamber of Commerce representative rushed into the room and announced that the Chamber's position on climate change legislation had not in fact changed.  The result: widespread media coverage of the event and the Chamber's humorless response. The Yes Men tell the story best.

Think Progress: Bangladesh Factory Upgrades Could Cost Consumers As Little As 10 Cents Per Garment

-By Bryce Covert

May 7, 2013- The factory collapse in Bangladesh has now claimed upward of 700 lives, making it the worst industrial disaster in Bangladesh and the most deadly one in the history of the garment industry. As has been widely reported, workers were hesitant to enter the building on the day of the collapse due to visible cracks in the building.

Since the disaster, many have urged large retail corporations to upgrade the working conditions in the factories from which they source their products. Three hundred large companies had previously refused to sign a pledge to do so before the collapse, citing costs. The need for low prices and fast production is driven in large part by American demand for cheap clothing. So how much would clothing prices rise for the average consumer if all of the costs of upgrading Bangladesh factories were passed on to them?

Truthout: How the Prison-Industrial Complex Destroys Lives

-By Mark Karlin

April 26, 2013- Marc Mauer is the executive director of The Sentencing Project, and the author of "Race to Incarcerate", which has just been released in graphic format, illustrated by Sabrina Jones, as "Race to Incarcerate: A Graphic Retelling" (The New Press).

Mauer's knowledge about the prison-industrial complex in the United States - which has the highest percentage of incarcerated individuals in the world - is extensive.  "Race to Incarcerate" is considered a landmark indictment of a system that locks the poor and minorities up with abandon, while largely neglecting support systems for reintegration back to society.

Furthermore, a large percentage of US prisoners are jailed for nonviolent drug "crimes," and they are largely black and Latino males. This creates a perpetual cycle of incarceration and re-incarceration for what one could argue are largely crimes of economic need or committed in environments where the only hope lies in drug use. And the imprisonment is at great cost to the American taxpayer, with funds that could be better spent improving the job prospects of those who are commodities for the prison-industrial complex.

Huffington Post: Real Faces of the Minimum Wage

-By Richard Eskow

April 21, 2013- Corporate interests and their elected representatives have created a world of illusion in order to resist paying a decent wage to working Americans. They'd have us believe that minimum-wage workers are teens from '50s TV sitcoms working down at the local malt shoppe.

It's a retro-fantasy where corporate stinginess creates minority jobs, working parents can't possibly be impoverished, and nobody gets hurt except kids who drive dad's convertible and top up their allowances with a minimum-wage job slinging burgers.

But then, you probably need to resort to fantasy arguments when you're arguing against a minimum-wage increase supported by nearly three-quarters of the voting public. That's also why it's important to demand that Congress allow an up-or-down vote on the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise it to $10.10 and then index it to inflation.

Here's the truth: Most minimum-wage workers are adults, the majority of them are women, and many are parents who are trying to raise their children on poverty wages.

AP: Exxon MTBE Lawsuit: New Hampshire Jury Finds Oil Giant Liable In Groundwater Contamination

-By Lynne Tuohy

April 9, 2013- A jury in New Hampshire has ordered Exxon Mobil to pay $236 million in damages after finding the oil giant liable in a long-running lawsuit over groundwater contamination by the gasoline additive MTBE.

Jurors sat through nearly three months of testimony in the longest state trial in New Hampshire history, but deliberated for only 90 minutes on Tuesday.

The state sought $236 million to monitor and remediate groundwater contaminated by MTBE — which travels farther and faster in groundwater than gasoline without the additive.



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