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.
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.
Student guestworkers faced wage theft, 25-hour shifts, substandard housing
March 6, 2013- student guestworkers from around the world will hold a work stoppage to expose severe exploitation at McDonald’s restaurants in Harrisburg, Lemoyne, and Camp Hill, PA.
They will join U.S. workers and labor leaders in demanding that the fast food giant take responsibility for labor abuse at its restaurants.
The student guestworkers, from Argentina, Peru, Chile, Malaysia, and other countries, paid $3,000 apiece to participate in the U.S. State Department’s J-1 student guestworker program, expecting decent work and a cultural exchange. Instead, McDonald’s used them as a sub-minimum wage exploitable workforce. Students faced:
-By Allison Linn, Staff Writer, NBC News
March 6, 2013- Crystal Dupont knows what it’s like to try to live on the federal minimum wage.
Dupont has no health insurance, so she hasn’t seen a doctor in two years. She’s behind on her car payments and has taken out pawn shop and payday loans to cover other monthly expenses. She eats beans and oatmeal when her food budget gets low.
When she got her tax refund recently, she used the money to get ahead on her light bill.
“I try to live within my means, but sometimes you just can’t,” said Dupont, 25. The Houston resident works 30 to 40 hours a week taking customer service calls, earning between $7.25 and $8 an hour. That came to about $15,000 last year.
It’s a wage she’s lived on for a while now, but just barely.
About 3.6 million Americans were earning at or below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour in 2012, and those weren’t all high school students flipping burgers.
About half of them were 25 or older, a little more than one-third were working full time and a little less than three-fourths had graduated from high school, according to the most recent government data.
The Brad Blog: Chinese Cyber Attacks on U.S. Targets Said to Mirror U.S. Chamber of Commerce Cyber Plot Targeting Progressives Such as The BRAD BLOG
-By Brad Friedman
March 5, 2013- So what does the Chinese Government and the Rightwing mega-lobbying group calling itself the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have in common? Apparently, they are both interested in hacking into the computer networks of their perceived political opponents and appear to be using very similar techniques and tools to do so, as The Nation's Lee Fang reported on Monday.
A computer security expert cited by Fang notes "lots of overlap" between the recent documented Chinese military cyber hacks and tactics proposed for use by federal contractors working with the U.S. Chamber and their attorneys to discredit their enemies.
-By Jeff Kiger
March 5, 2013- IBM is moving the bulk of its manufacturing off of the Rochester campus and to Mexico and New York.
Manufacture of the Power Systems, PureSystems and PureFlex Systems are being shifted out of Rochester to Guadalajara, Mexico, IBM Spokesman Scott Cook said.
The refurbishing of used machines now done in Rochester is being moved to Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
Some smaller manufacturing processes will remain, including the prototyping of new products through the Customer Solution Center as well as the final assembly of Blue Gene supercomputers
Cook said the change will affect both full-time IBM employees and contract workers. He declined to say how many workers would lose their jobs or how many are currently employed in Rochester. IBM has not reported employee numbers since 2008, when it said the Rochester site had 4,200 employees.
Matthew Filipowicz: Obama's New Treasury Secretary Jack Lew Gets Bonus From CitiGroup For Quitting & Joining Government?
Think Progress: Corporate Profits Have Risen Almost 20 Times Faster Than Workers’ Incomes Since 2008
-By Travis Waldron
March 4, 2013- Corporate profits hit record highs in the second half of 2012, but that prosperity hasn’t led to the creation of jobs, since America’s biggest firms are sitting on stocks of cash instead of investing them back into the economy.
As a percentage of national income, corporate profits stood at 14.2 percent in the third quarter of 2012, the largest share at any time since 1950, while the portion of income that went to employees was 61.7 percent, near its lowest point since 1966. In recent years, the shift has accelerated during the slow recovery that followed the financial crisis and ensuing recession of 2008 and 2009, said Dean Maki, chief United States economist at Barclays.
-By Nelson D. Schwartz
March 3, 2013- With the Dow Jones industrial average flirting with a record high, the split between American workers and the companies that employ them is widening and could worsen in the next few months as federal budget cuts take hold.
That gulf helps explain why stock markets are thriving even as the economy is barely growing and unemployment remains stubbornly high.
With millions still out of work, companies face little pressure to raise salaries, while productivity gains allow them to increase sales without adding workers.
“So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The U.S. corporate sector is in a lot better health than the overall economy. And until we get a full recovery in the labor market, this will persist.”
The result has been a golden age for corporate profits, especially among multinational giants that are also benefiting from faster growth in emerging economies like China and India.