AlterNet: Monsanto's Next Target: Democracy

The battle for food sovereignty is a battle we cannot afford to lose.

-By Ronnie Cummins & Katherine Paul

April 8, 2013- Big Food’s greatest fear is materializing. A critical mass of educated consumers, food and natural health activists are organizing a powerful movement that could well overthrow North America’s trillion-dollar junk food empire. Savvy and more determined than ever, activists are zeroing in on the Achilles heel of Food Inc. -- labeling.

But as consumers demand truth and greater transparency in labeling, it isn’t just Big Food whose empire is vulnerable. The biotech industry, which makes billions supplying junk food manufacturers with cheap, genetically engineered (GE) ingredients, has even more to lose. Monsanto knows that if food producers are forced to label the genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their food products, they’ll reformulate those products to meet consumer demand for GMO-free alternatives. That’s why companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow, along with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, last year spent more than $46 million to defeat Proposition 37, California’s GMO labeling initiative.

RAW Story: Activists claim Arkansas oil spill diverted into wetland

-By Stephen C. Webster

April 7, 2013- Activists with the group Tar Sands Blockade published new videos on Sunday showing oil from the Arkansas pipeline rupture purportedly diverted from a residential neighborhood into a wetland area to keep it out sight and, most importantly, out of the media.

While it’s not clear if the oil was intentionally moved into the wetland, the company says it is cleaning pavement with power washing devices, which could cause some of the oil to be pushed off neighborhood streets and into other areas.

Activists also interviewed a local resident who claimed the oil has continued “flowing” into Lake Conway since the spill happened.

A letter sent by ExxonMobil to residents of Mayflower on March 31 claims the oil did not reach Lake Conway.

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.

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