Market Watch: Exxon hit with lawsuit over Arkansas spill

Two Mayflower residents claim permanent hit to property values

-By Claudia Assis

April 6, 2013- Two residents of Mayflower, Ark., have filed a federal lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. in connection with the pipeline rupture and oil spill in their town.

Kimla Greene and Kathryn Jane Chunn filed the suit a week after the spill, triggered by a rupture in Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline. Cleanup crews are still working to mop oil off the streets of Mayflower, 25 miles northwest of Little Rock.

The women are seeking compensation for a permanent decline in property values, according to media reports. The lawsuit is seeking more than $5 million in damages for the property owners affected.

The pipeline, which carried crude oil from Illinois to the Gulf of Mexico area, has been shut down. Residents of the 22 homes affected were still out of their houses.

Exxon crews are cleaning up the crude by pressure washing and absorbent pads, and by removing contaminated soil and vegetation, the company said late Friday on an update about the operations.

“Most of the impacted soil has been removed from the yards of the six homes impacted by the spill,” Exxon said.

Washington Post: Five myths about the minimum wage

-By Betsey Stevenson

April 5, 2013- In February’s State of the Union address, President Obama provoked conservatives’ ire by proposing an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $9. Especially in a struggling economy, wouldn’t a minimum-wage boost increase unemployment and hurt small businesses? And would it even help the working poor? Let’s unpack some of the assumptions about the minimum wage that have stuck around since its creation almost eight decades ago.

1. The minimum wage covers everyone.

The Fair Labor Standards Act established a minimum wage for the United States in 1938 and criteria that determine who must receive it.

RT: Third major oil spill in a week: Shell pipeline breaks in Texas

April 5, 2013- Thousands of gallons of oil have spilled from a pipeline in Texas, the third accident of its kind in only a week.

Shell Pipeline, a unit of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, shut down their West Columbia, Texas, pipeline last Friday after electronic calculations conducted by the US National Response Center showed that upwards of 700 barrels had been lost, amounting to almost 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

By Monday, Shell spokespeople said inspectors found “no evidence” of an oil leak, but days later it was revealed that a breach did occur. Representatives with the US Coast Guard confirmed to Dow Jones on Thursday that roughly 50 barrels of oil spilled from a pipe near Houston, Texas and entered a waterway that connects to the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Steven Lehman said that Shell had dispatched clean-up crews that were working hard to correct any damage to Vince Bayou, a small waterway that runs for less than 20 miles from the Houston area into a shipping channel that opens into the Gulf.

Addicting Info: BREAKING: The 1% Caught Hiding Trillions In Tax Havens, 100,000 Names Leaked

-By Justin Acuff

April 5, 2013- The financial information for more than 100,000 wealthy people around the world was leaked via an anonymously submitted hard drive, and CBC News in Canada is breaking the information exclusively (and refusing to release all of the associated names). The data contains information ranging from tax evasion to Russian scam artists that caused a diplomatic problem between the U.S. and Russia when they stole $230 million from Russia’s treasury. Estimates of the total amount of money hidden range from $8 trillion to $32 trillion, with billions every year escaping government taxation worldwide.

Here’s the video:

Gawker: Everything You Need to Know (So Far) About the Largest Leak of Offshore Financial Secrets in History

-By Adam Weinstein

April 4, 2013- The Twitterati (and presumably a bevy of bankers) went astir today after a small DC watchdog began systematically leaking millions of financial secrets about offshore companies. Here's why you should care.

What is this "Offshore Leaks" thing everyone's freaking out about?

For 15 months, nearly 100 reporters from outlets around the world have worked together to analyze a trove of 2.5 million documents detailing the identities and activities of 120,000 offshore companies, most of them based in the Caymans and the British Virgin Islands. In terms of sheer data, that's 160 times larger than Wikileaks' cache of US embassy cables.

AlterNet: The 1% Bug-Out Plan: Why Third-World Billionaires Are Buying Fortresses in London, New York and Miami

Preparing for economic and political collapse requires survivalist strategies for new elites.

-By Lynn Stuart Parramore

April 2, 2013- A recent article from Vanity Fair paints a curious picture of London’s well-heeled Knightsbridge, a neighborhood of quaint Victorian houses and elegant hotels serving high tea. Today, a ginormous complex of concrete and metal towers looms above; a development some call the world’s most exclusive address. Though London has long been a place where the cops don’t even carry guns, security is the watchword at One Hyde Park: high-tech panic rooms, bulletproof glass and “bowler-hatted guards trained by British Special Forces” offer residents the promise of perfect safety and privacy in luxurious surroundings.

Only, nobody really lives there. At night, the building is nearly pitch-dark despite the fact that most of the units have been sold.

AlterNet: Fiduciary Duty to Cheat? Stock Market Super-Star Jim Chanos Reveals the Perverse New Mindset of Financial Fraudsters

American business has always had cheaters and crooks, but today they are escaping prosecution and are incentivized to cheat more.

-By Lynn Stuart Parramore

April 1, 2013- Editor's note: This article is the first in a new AlterNet series, "The Age of Fraud."

Hustlers. Cheaters. Crooks. American business has always had them, and sometimes they’ve been punished. But today, those who cheat and put the rest of us at risk are often getting off scot-free. The recent admission of Attorney General Eric Holder that systemically dangerous megabanks may escape prosecution because of their size has opened a new chapter in fraud history. If you know your company won’t be prosecuted, a perverse logic says that you should cheat and make as much money for shareholders as you can.

The Atlantic: Why the Rich Don't Give to Charity

The wealthiest Americans donate 1.3 percent of their income; the poorest, 3.2 percent. What's up with that?

-By Ken Stern

March 20, 2013- When Mort Zuckerman, the New York City real-estate and media mogul, lavished $200 million on Columbia University in December to endow the Mortimer B. Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute, he did so with fanfare suitable to the occasion: the press conference was attended by two Nobel laureates, the president of the university, the mayor, and journalists from some of New York’s major media outlets. Many of the 12 other individual charitable gifts that topped $100 million in the U.S. last year were showered with similar attention: $150 million from Carl Icahn to the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, $125 million from Phil Knight to the Oregon Health & Science University, and $300 million from Paul Allen to the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, among them. If you scanned the press releases, or drove past the many university buildings, symphony halls, institutes, and stadiums named for their benefactors, or for that matter read the histories of grand giving by the Rockefellers, Carnegies, Stanfords, and Dukes, you would be forgiven for thinking that the story of charity in this country is a story of epic generosity on the part of the American rich.

CBC News: Alberta lobbies for Keystone XL in New York Times ad

Influential newspaper ran editorial last week urging Obama to reject pipeline

-The Canadian Press

March 17, 2013- The Alberta government, continuing to press its case for the Keystone XL pipeline, took out an ad in Sunday’s New York Times newspaper, tying the controversial project to core American values and to U.S. pride in its military.

The half-page ad is headlined “Keystone XL: The Choice of Reason.”

It acknowledges the validity of environmental concerns, but stresses the $7-billion pipeline is about much more than that.

“America’s desire to effectively balance strong environmental policy, clean technology development, energy security and plentiful job opportunities for the middle class and returning war veterans mirrors that of the people of Alberta,” reads the $30,000 ad.

“This is why choosing to approve Keystone XL and oil from a neighbour, ally, friend, and responsible energy developer is the choice of reason.”

Stefan Baranski, a spokesman for Alberta Premier Alison Redford, said the ad was taken out to counter a New York Times editorial that ran a week ago urging U.S. President Barack Obama to reject the 1,800-kilometre TransCanada line.

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