tagged w/ Lobbying
Say what? The US gives $3 billion to Israel, mostly for military security and loan guarantees and these unregistered agents of Israel are still running around the US trying to get even more money off US taxpayers?
"Stevie Wonder is calling off a concert for a group that raises money for the Israeli military.
Wonder had been scheduled to perform Dec. 6 for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, which raises money for Israeli soldiers and their families.
Wonder said the United Nations recommended canceling his performance because he is an official "Messenger of Peace" for the organization. The United Nations overwhelmingly voted to recognize a Palestinian state on Thursday over vehement U.S. and Israeli objections as hopes for Mideast peace talks stalled.
Wonder said in a statement he was canceling with a heavy heart but that "I am and have always been against war, any war, anywhere."
Several petitions had called on Wonder to cancel the performance."Say what? The US gives $3 billion to Israel, mostly for military security and loan... more
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Thursday praised the Obama administration’s strong support for Israel’s self-defense, as well as the strong support members of Congress from both parties have given Israel amid the Gaza fighting.
“These statements demonstrate that America continues to firmly stand with Israel and her right to defend herself,” AIPAC said in a statement of its own Thursday. The group particularly underscored US funding for the Iron Dome short-range missile defense systems which has thwarted over 130 recent rocket attacks since the start of Operation Pillar of Defense.The American Israel Public Affairs Committee on Thursday praised the Obama... more
Most people just think of soda when they hear the name "Pepsi." But in fact, PepsiCo is the nation's largest food company and second largest in the world. Its annual earnings top $60 billion, from a dizzying array of brands. Walk down almost any supermarket aisle (soda, snacks, cereal, juice) and you're likely to bump into a PepsiCo-owned product.
This explains why the company is the top contributor among food makers to the "No on 37" campaign in California -- a ballot initiative that would require labeling of foods containing GMO ingredients. Also, as I wrote about recently, PepsiCo is a member of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a powerful trade group that has so far contributed $375,000 to the No on 37 campaign.
Why would PepsiCo pony up more than $90,000 just to keep Californians in the dark about what they are eating? A closer look at its "portfolio of products" (in corporate speak) reveals exactly what's at stake for the food giant.
PepsiCo brands span five divisions: Pepsi-Cola, Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Tropicana, and Quaker. While most consumers probably think of processed snacks and cereal-type products when trying to avoid foods containing GMOs, beverages are also a major culprit (which explains why Coca-Cola has donated more than $61,000 to the No on 37 campaign).
More at the linkMost people just think of soda when they hear the name "Pepsi." But in fact,... more
TAKE ACTION: Don't let Monsanto & Co. fast-track GM crops
Monsanto's Quiet Coup: Will Congress Limit Scope and Time for GMO Reviews?
PR Watch, August 1 2012
After a series of court defeats over the past few years, Monsanto and friends are trying to use Congress to make an end-run around the courts and current law. Lawsuits brought by opponents of genetically engineered (GE) crops resulted in the temporary removal of two products -- Roundup Ready Alfalfa and Roundup Ready Sugarbeets -- from the market. If the biotechnology industry and the legislators they support have their way, future GE crops will not suffer the same fate.
Genetically engineered crops are plants that have had genes from other species inserted into their DNA. "Roundup Ready"crops like alfalfa and sugarbeets fall in a class of GE crops called "herbicide tolerant" crops, which are engineered to survive exposure to Monsanto's bestselling herbicide Roundup. Farmers spray their entire fields with Roundup, killing only the weeds. Monsanto profits by selling both the seeds and increased quantities of Roundup herbicide.
The "Big 6" pesticide and genetic engineering corporations -- BASF, Bayer, Dupont, Dow, Syngenta, and Monsanto -- have made millions while providing everyone else with questionable benefits and enormous risks. The riskiness of genetically engineered crops comes in part from their ability to cross-pollinate crops in other fields, spreading their genes far and wide. Once a new genetically engineered crop is introduced, the genie is out of the bottle, and those genes are in our food supply for good. Therefore, it's in everyone's interest (except for the biotech companies that stand to profit) to thoroughly examine any new crop before allowing it on the market.
GMOs Roll on Wheels Reagan Greased
The scene was initially set before the first genetically engineered crops existed, when the pro-industry Reagan administration crafted a lax regulatory framework (known as the "Coordinated Framework") requiring no new laws to regulate genetically engineered crops and animals, thus avoiding any public national debate on the issue. Instead, newly created GE plants would be treated as potential "pests" to other plants and reviewed by government agencies under stilted standards about whether the GE plants hurt other plants or protected animals like endangered species.
With the Coordinated Framework in place, the biotech industry had little to worry about. It had plenty of friends inside the USDA and the bar for "proving" its products were "not a pest" was not set terribly high. One after another, each genetically engineered crop was deregulated, allowing farmers to grow them commercially. Once they reached consumers, the products were not even labeled as "Genetically Modified Organisms" (GMOs), and many Americans had no idea their food had even changed.
Farmers and Consumer Groups Call a Halt in Court
Everything was going along fine for industry, in fact, until the matter went to court. At issue was the deregulation of two crops, Roundup Ready alfalfa and Roundup Ready sugarbeets. Instead of completing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to deregulating the crops, the USDA had only performed a more limited Environmental Assessment (EA). Performing an EA limits the level of public involvement in the assessment process as compared with an EIS, which can provide significant time for citizens to submit comments and concerns. For example, the USDA recently received 365,000 comments from citizens opposing the deregulation of Dow's GE "2,4-D corn" (2,4-D is an herbicide that was an ingredient in Agent Orange).
In both cases, Geertson Seed Farms v. Johanns and Center for Food Safety v. Vilsack, the courts ruled that the respective crops could not be deregulated until a full EIS was completed. Furthermore, the crops in question could not be planted until then – even during the appeals process.
The USDA completed the required EIS's for both crops and, despite thousands of comments expressing concerns, approved the deregulation of Roundup Ready alfalfa in January 2011 and Roundup Ready sugarbeets in July 2012.
2012 "Ag Approps" Gives Props to the "Big 6"
This regulatory victory was not good enough for industry, however. Quietly, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) wrote a gift to biotech companies into the 2013 agriculture appropriations ("Ag Approps") bill. Opponents of GMOs refer to this as the "Monsanto Protection Act." Beneficiaries of Kingston's "rider" to the bill (Section 733) -- such as Monsanto, which lobbied for it in the second quarter of 2012 -- refer to it as the "farmer assurance provision."
If the Ag Approps bill passes as written, if a court removes a GMO from the market after the USDA has deregulated it, the USDA will be required to grant a permit to plant that crop to any farmer who requests one, even if that crop's safety is in question or under review.
Buried Biotech Treasure in the 2012 Farm Bill
At the same time, another far-reaching provision favoring the biotech industry is in the works. Buried in the House version of the 2012 Farm Bill, sponsored by House Agriculture Committee chair Frank Lucas (R-OK), is an enormous gift to the biotech industry. The bill changes the Plant Protection Act (PPA) to limit the time and scope of future environmental assessments of GE crops.
The House farm bill as changed by Congressman Lucas changes the legal rules to cut corners on the environmental review by requiring only the more limited EA and by requiring the USDA to complete that review in a maximum period of a year and a half -- or else the GE crop is automatically approved. It also restricts the scope of that limited environmental review and forbids the spending of any money on any broader environmental analysis of the effect of the GMO.
The Pesticide Action Network of North America (PANNA), an organization which promotes alternatives to pesticides that are safe for workers and the environment, is asking concerned citizens to email their representatives and urge them to stand up to "Big 6" pressure and reject the biotech riders in the farm bill.
http://i882.photobucket.com/albums/ac23/benfranklinronzio/2%20Traitors%20Tyrants/monsanto_control_food.jpgTAKE ACTION: Don't let Monsanto & Co. fast-track GM crops... more
The titans of the Web—Facebook, Google, eBay and Amazon—have joined forces to make their voices heard in Washington, forming a powerful lobbying group called the Internet Association. The companies already collectively spend millions to lobby regulators and legislators on a variety of issues, but as a unified group they’re hoping to become major players in shaping legislation.
Hopefully, the members of the association will keep to Google’s unofficial slogan of “Don’t Be Evil,” and fight for user privacy and security against government intrusion. If these companies become entrenched parts of the political system, however, and yield to government demands for release of private data, Internet users around the world could be in for a lot of trouble.
That's a lot of lobbying power let's just hope they use it for good.The titans of the Web—Facebook, Google, eBay and Amazon—have joined forces... more
Monsanto Fails at Improving Agriculture
UCS'S New Ad Campaign
Set the Record Straight on Monsanto
We don't have Monsanto's advertising budget - that's where you come in!
Eight Ways Monsanto Fails at Sustainable Agriculture
Monsanto Improves its Bottom Line…But Not Agriculture
Karen Stillerman, senior analyst, Food and Environment
Union of Concerned Scientists (blog), July 3 2012
The Monsanto Company is raking it in—last week they reported third quarter profits of $937 million. Yes, you read that right: Monsanto's profit for the three-month period ending May 31 amounted to nearly a billion dollars, up a whopping 35% from the same quarter last year. That raging river of cash flowing in must make it easy for the company to finance a flurry of advertising and lobbying extolling the virtues its products. According to Monsanto’s PR, the company is feeding a growing population, protecting natural resources, and promoting biodiversity.
But the truth is decidedly less impressive, and now UCS is setting the record straight with an ad campaign of our own.
More Herbicide + Fewer Butterflies = Better Seeds?
With a series of three new ads you can see on our website, we're taking on Monsanto's claims directly.
One of the company's ads (coincidentally, the one that appeared across the street from UCS's Washington, DC, office earlier in this year) says their "better seeds can help meet the needs of our rapidly growing population, while protecting the earth’s natural resources." In response, our ad points out that the company's Roundup Ready crops have increased herbicide use by an estimated 383 million pounds and have been associated with an estimated 81 percent fewer monarch butterfly eggs in the Midwest—critical ground along the spectacular annual migration route of these butterflies to and from Mexico.
We're also using our campaign to take issue with Monsanto's suggestions that its genetic engineering technology is improving U.S. crop yields (nope, not much) and conserving water (not at all). Instead, as our ads and our analysis behind them show, the company's products are spawning an epidemic of "superweeds" and crowding out more sustainable alternatives.
Fighting Fire with Facts
We have no illusions that Monsanto's spin machine will let up anytime soon. After all, as Mother Jones' Tom Philpott lays out, the company’s combination of glossy ads, high-powered lobbying, and big-time political contributions is paying off with favorable results (at least from Monsanto’s perspective) in Congress. But we expect policy-makers here in Washington to take note of our ads—which will be up all this month on city buses and in transit stations near the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s headquarters, the U.S. EPA, and Capitol Hill. And we hope those decision-makers—who are accountable to farmers and the public to really improve agriculture—will look more skeptically at Monsanto's claims in the future and give sustainable alternatives a fair shot.
UCS still believes that the truth can be powerful, and you can help us tell it far and wide.Monsanto Fails at Improving Agriculture
UCS'S New Ad Campaign... more
This really is no surprise. You can see how the votes went at the link. However, some of the Democrats who voted this down surprised me (Al Franken specifically) especially when they had amendments to this bill they wanted passed.
The California ballot initiative this November to label GMOs is now our best chance to make this a national referendum on GMO labelling for our food, specifically baby formula. There is not one company that makes baby formula that GM soy is not used in it. And yes I know, breast feeding is always best, but for some mothers that is not an option and they should have alternatives that are healthy for their baby.
And regardless of the fact that this amendment was voted down, I applaud Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer for putting it out here and raising awareness of a very important health and environmental issue facing this country. Disclosure of the ingredients in our food is also a cornerstone of a Democratic society. Sad to see so many in this Congress bought and sold by the Monsantos of the world. It is time to vote them all out regardless of party. This is about principle.
The video I placed here is the best scene to describe the orafice these companies are in their quest to destroy humanity.This really is no surprise. You can see how the votes went at the link. However, some... more
What do a former mouthpiece for tobacco and big oil, a corporate-interest PR flack, and the regional director of a Monsanto-funded tort reform group have in common?
They’re all part of the anti-labeling PR team that will soon unleash a massive advertising and PR campaign in California, designed to scare voters into rejecting the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act.
In November, California voters will vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a law to require mandatory labeling of all GMO ingredients in processed foods, and ban the routine industry practice of mislabeling foods containing GMO ingredients as ‘natural.’
Polls show that nearly 90% of the state’s voters plan to vote ‘yes.’ But when November rolls around, will voter support still be strong? Not if the biotech, agribusiness, and food manufacturers industries can help it.
It’s estimated that the opposition will spend $60 million - $100 million to convince voters that GMOs are perfectly safe. They’ll try to scare voters into believing that labeling will make food more expensive, that it will spark hundreds of lawsuits against small farmers and small businesses, and that it will contribute to world hunger. None of this is true. On the contrary, studies suggest just the opposite.
Here’s what is true: The opposition has lined up some heavy-hitters and industry-funded front groups -- masquerading as “grassroots” organizations -- to help spin their anti-labeling propaganda machine.
You have the right to know what’s in your food. You also have the right to know who is working tirelessly to prevent you from ever having that right – and who is signing their paychecks. Here’s a partial lineup of hired guns and organizations behind the anti-labeling advertising blitz soon to hit the California airwaves:
Tom Hiltachk: Monsanto’s Man in California
Tom Hiltachk is the PR gunslinger behind the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition (CACFLP), an anti-labeling front group. A partner at the Sacramento-based lobbying firm Bell, McAndrews & Hiltachk, Hiltachk is no stranger to front groups. With a little help from his friends at Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds, he helped organize the Californians for Smokers’ Rights group to fight anti-smoking initiatives in the 1980s and 1990s. He also helped form the Californians for Fair Business Policy – a so-called “grassroots” organization, but actually a front group to mobilize business opposition to anti-smoking initiatives. That organization was funded by an “academic” front group – the Claremont Institute – which was in turn funded by tobacco companies.
Hitachk also has ties to Big Oil, including a colorful history with California’s Proposition 23, a conservative-backed ballot initiative launched – and defeated – in 2010. The initiative, supported by Big Oil, would have repealed California’s clean energy and climate laws. Hiltachk was initially an ally of Ted Costa, a veteran right-wing activist behind many conservative initiatives, including Prop 23, and head of the group People’s Advocate. But that relationship soured, according to ThinkProgress.org, when Costa realized that Hiltachk’s main motivation was to funnel the $50 million that he hoped would be raised from oil companies and the Chamber of Commerce to himself and his friends.
More at the linkWhat do a former mouthpiece for tobacco and big oil, a corporate-interest PR flack,... more
Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists: Lobbyists who circumvent normal lobbying regulations and procedures to advance the corporate agenda in statehouses nationwide on the taxpayer dime.
IF WASHINGTON, D.C. is the new Versailles, run by corporate overlords and their lobbyist-hired guns, then the 50 statehouses are its paternal twins. That is, while they look different in form, they share the same genetic function as avenues for the fulfillment of the corporate agenda.
The Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has made this abundantly clear through its ongoing ALEC Exposed project, bringing sunshine to the tax-deductible, statehouse-level influence-peddling efforts made by corporations through the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC has been described by CMD as a "corporate bill mill." (Full disclosure: Steve Horn is a former reporter and researcher at CMD. He was on the team that broke ALEC Exposed in the summer of 2011.)
ALEC, though, is not the only "corporate bill mill" playing this game.
"Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists" have upped the ante and skillfully advanced their agendas through bipartisan "trade associations" for state government officials--in particular, the Council of State Governments (CSG) whose multimillion-dollar budget is mostly funded by taxpayers. Through CSG and friends, lobbyists exploit a well-tethered network of nonprofits representing state-level officials to advance the agenda of their corporate clientele.
"In a climate of stalled federal initiatives, and what I think is really unprecedented partisan battling and bickering, these state legislatures are really shaping the national policy environment," explained one such stealth lobbyist, Michael Behm, in an interview. "I really think they [states] are the real engines of government. And that's why the private sector is interested, quite frankly."
This, then, is part one of a four-party story about how the "real engines of government" work. First stop on the voyage: the CSG.
"That other bill mill": Council of State Governments (CSG)
ALEC IS far and away the most well known of the consortium of 501(c)(3) organizations that allow corporate influence to seep into every facet of state-level government affairs. CSG, on the other hand, is not so well known.
Upon being sworn into office, all state-level legislators (there are about 7,500 of them total), as well as their respective legislative staffs, automatically become CSG members. The organization's membership also includes representatives from the executive and judicial branches of state governments.
Between 2009 and 2011, CSG's Internal Revenue Service (IRS) 990 forms indicate revenue between $29 and $34 million annually. While most of its sizable budget is covered by taxpayers, some 43 percent--or roughly between $12.5 and 14.6 million, according to its website; another 29 percent--or almost $8.4 to $9.9 million of these funds--come from what it describes as "entrepreneurial efforts" which can be loosely interpreted to mean anything from publication sales to a sizable chunk from corporate patronage.
Some perspective is warranted: 990s filed by ALEC in 2010 placed its entire budget at just under $6 million.
"CSG has long believed private sector involvement in the American governance system is critical in formulating sound solutions to public policy challenges," reads the web page for the organization's private enterprise Associates Program. The page also explains a range of benefits special interest groups will receive for annual dues of $6,000.
Many corporations spend additional money sponsoring leadership trainings and conferences.
The CSG "dating service"
ALEC HAS recently taken the hot seat for many of its model bills and for its lobbyist-politician "dating service" process. Yet the idea behind the ALEC model legislation process was, to be clear, originally conceived by CSG, which was founded in 1933. ALEC was born 40 years later, in 1973.
To date, CSG is responsible for publishing between 30-40 model bills annually, in a process called Suggested State Legislation (SSL). These bills are distributed to the states as templates of bipartisan "best practices" often promoting the agendas of multinational corporations.
Behm, the lobbyist, wrote the following about the SSL process:
Few other state officials meetings or forums capture the attention--and stimulate the heart rates--of government affairs professionals [lobbyists] as does the Council of State Governments' Committee on Suggested State Legislation. We pour through the Committee Dockets the minute they are released searching for those bills, or that one law, that caused us so much heartburn earlier in the session season and hoping that it didn't find its way onto the "Committee List." A flurry of e-mails begins, conference calls are scheduled and a full-court press of lobbying is launched on the Committee members.
One only has to look briefly at the most recent SSL dockets to see that the private sector is often successful in its lobbying endeavors.
Most recently, the 2013 SSL docket includes legislation written by and for the shale gas industry on hydraulic fracturing (fracking), as well as a corporate-backed, union-busting collective bargaining "reform" bill. Both of these policies have been, to date, associated exclusively with ALEC by critical observers.Taxpayer-subsidized stealth lobbyists: Lobbyists who circumvent normal lobbying... more
Just when you thought things were crazy enough, here comes a British firm buying up lobbyists on K Street. Given the state of affairs with Citizens United, this means a foreign owned corporation will be influencing our elections. Remember that justice that nodding his head, disagreeing with Obama's assessment of the ruling? Well clearly, he was wrong, way wrong. This was a terrible ruling and we've given our democracy to the highest bidder, even a foreigner.Just when you thought things were crazy enough, here comes a British firm buying up... more
Accretive Health, a debt-collection company under fire from Minnesota and federal officials for aggressive tactics to squeeze money from hospital patients, is striking back at critics.
In a rebuttal to accusations made by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson (D), Accretive Health flatly denied it has violated federal or Minnesota laws governing debt collection and patient privacy and said its role in hospitals is to help patients find ways to pay for their medical care. "We are proud of what we do," the company said in 29-page report issued Friday evening. "Patients appreciate the education, expertise, and compassion that we provide."
Accretive Health has been battered in Minnesota, Washington, and on Wall Street since Swanson published a six-volume report on her website last month alleging that the Chicago-based company demanded that emergency room patients pay before receiving medical care, that collectors visited patients' bedsides asking for money, and that collectors employed harsh and deceptive tactics. Democratic lawmakers and federal agencies have made inquiries and Accretive Health shares lost more than half their value before rebounding after the company reported positive earnings Thursday.
Read more here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/11/accretive-health-debt-collector-hospitals_n_1509329.htmlAccretive Health, a debt-collection company under fire from Minnesota and federal... more
1 year ago
A relatively obscure Congressional hearing on Tuesday became a flashpoint in a very important conflict: the attempt by the chemical industry — led by Dow Chemical – to gain a veto over the work of government scientists. This time, however, the scientists fought back, and they need our support.
The hearing was a joint project of the House Small Business Committee and House Science Committee. It focused on how a government report on cancer-causing chemicals is hurting “small business” in America. The Report on Carcinogens, which recently classified formaldehyde as a “known carcinogen” and styrene as a “reasonably anticipated” human carcinogen was under attack. It is a statutorily mandated report that is prepared by the highly respected National Toxicology Program (NTP).
The hearing is part of a disturbing pattern of political intimidation of government scientists for doing their jobs. Companies that make and use both chemicals launched an attack on the report even before it was published and its publication was delayed for years. It took political courage for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to allow the report to be released, and I was told phones rang off the hook at the White House from chemical industry lobbyists complaining about the decision.
The Report itself does not restrict the chemicals it names. The findings can be used by regulatory agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency to decide if any changes are needed to environmental rules, but they mostly inform the public and the marketplace. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that its safety data sheets be updated when the Report lists a chemical, a basic right-to-know measure for American workers.
So what was Dow complaining about at Tuesday’s hearing? Dow’s chief scientist Jim Bus effectively said that the NTP doesn’t do good science. Dow does good science. And the agency needs to give Dow and other companies a greater say in determinations like this for them to be credible with the public.
Never mind that the woman who runs the NTP and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences — Dr. Linda Birnbaum — is perhaps the most credentialed person on the planet on these matters. Never mind the exhaustive peer-review and outside consultation that already takes place. No, we need Dow more involved, because the public certainly thinks chemical makers are more credible judges of the products they make than public health scientists whose only mandate is to identify substances that may be harming public health.
The arrogance and self-serving nature of Dow’s position was breath-taking, but the upside of the hearing was that it was also obvious and fell flat. Representative Brad Miller (D-NC) deserves special credit for blowing the whistle on the hearing, by pointing out that the styrene industry took credit for the fact that the hearing was taking place. Miller and Representatives Richmond (D-LA) and Tonko (D-NY) pointed out that industry opponents who would exonerate styrene and formaldehyde were hardly more credible than the NTP. Overall, the show trial intended by the hearing backfired on the inquisitors, Subcommittee Chairs Broun (R-GA) and Ellmers (R-NC).
But the issue requires continued vigilance. Already, the United States has lost the leadership of the world on health and safety issues in favor of the European Union, and that has an impact on our ability to compete in a world market that increasingly demands safer products. The modest attempts by EPA Administrator Jackson to restore that leadership have not only been undermined by House Republicans but in some cases by industry allies in the White House who have blocked key reforms. The attempt to politically intimidate Dr. Birnbaum would bring this trend to a new low, however, because it would signal that companies like Dow can block even the most basic scientific work from seeing the light of day when it offends them.
So please ask your member of Congress to support the independence of government scientists like Dr. Birnbaum at the NTP, but please also take a moment to tell Dow to back off and let government scientists do their job.
by Andy Igrejas
Source: http://www.occupymonsanto360.org (http://s.tt/1aK8L)A relatively obscure Congressional hearing on Tuesday became a flashpoint in a very... more
Dr. Daniel Fine of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy discusses North Carolina's approach to shale gas and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Fine offered these comments during a Feb. 27, 2012, presentation to the John Locke Foundation's Shafesbury Society. Video courtesy of CarolinaJournal.tv. Watch full-length video of JLF events here:
Daniel Fine discusses North Carolina's approach to shale gas and hydraulic fracturing (two minutes)---
The full one hour video can be seen here-->"North Carolina?s approach to natural gas fracking" ---> http://lockerroom.johnlocke.org/2012/02/27/no...
Dr. Daniel I. Fine works with the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy. He is a longtime research associate at the Mining and Minerals Resources Institute, MIT. Fine is also a policy adviser on nonconventional oil and gas. He is co-editor of Resource War in 3-D: Dependence, Diplomacy and Defense, and has contributed to Business Week, the Engineering and Mining Journal and the Washington Times. Fine has testified on strategic natural resources before the U.S. Senate committees on Foreign Affairs and Energy and Natural Resources. In this speech, he discusses "Shale Gas Wars: From Pennsylvania to North Carolina."Dr. Daniel Fine of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy discusses North... more
According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Google spent approximately $390,000 (out of $3,760,000.00 total) on SOPA and PIPA lobbying including efforts to educate lawmakers on SOPA and the DMCA. The question, then, is whether the massive search and advertising giant was for or against the bill – and why so much money was spent to argue the case.
The document, available online in PDF here, is fairly succinct and covers a number of topics, thereby explaining the massive cash outlay. Here’s the specific mention of SOPA:
Here’s the specific mention of SOPA:
S. 968 – Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011; S. 978 -
Commercial Felony Streaming Act; S. 2029 – Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act; H.R. 3261 -
Stop Online Piracy Act; Digital Millennium Copyright Act service provider safe harbors; Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Google was unavailable for comment for this piece but it’s clear that most organizations with a dog in the fight spent some money on lobbying. Wikimedia spent a mere $10K on their efforts, at least according to documents we found. The MPAA made its interests clear in the media but less clear in FEC filings, pouring in $850,000.00 in lobbying money while mentioning nothing of its stance.According to filings with the Federal Election Commission, Google spent approximately... more
Ron Paul opposes killing Muslims on behalf of Israel so only Zionists who support the mass murder of Iranians and other Arabs Muslims shall be invited to the Republican Jewish Congress debate.
On Wednesday, Dec. 7, the Republican Jewish Coalition will host a presidential-candidates forum featuring Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. Not invited is the GOP candidate currently polling around third in New Hampshire and second in Iowa: Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). The explanation:
Paul was not invited to attend the RJC's candidates forum because the organization - as it has stated numerous times in the past - "rejects his misguided and extreme views," said [RJC Executive Director Matt] Brooks.
"He's just so far outside of the mainstream of the Republican party and this organization," Brooks said. Inviting Paul to attend would be "like inviting Barack Obama to speak."
Brooks gave a more detailed critique of Ron Paul back in May:
"As Americans who are committed to a strong and vigorous foreign policy, we are deeply concerned about the prospective presidential campaign of Congressman Ron Paul. While Rep. Paul plans to run as a Republican, his views and past record place him far outside of the Republican mainstream. His candidacy, as we've seen in his past presidential campaigns, will appeal to a very narrow constituency in the U.S. electorate. Throughout his public service, Paul has espoused a dangerous isolationist vision for the U.S. and our role in the world. He has been a virulent and harsh critic of Israel during his tenure in Congress*. Most recently Paul gave an interview in which he voiced his objection to the recent killing of Osama Bin Laden.
Brooks added, "We certainly respect Congressman Paul's right to run, but we strongly reject his misguided and extreme views, which are not representative of the Republican Party."Ron Paul opposes killing Muslims on behalf of Israel so only Zionists who support the... more
The 57,000 Page Tax Return
by Alex Tabarrok
The NYTimes reported earlier this year that through an extraordinary use of tax breaks and clever accounting:
[General Electric] reported worldwide profits of $14.2 billion, and said $5.1 billion of the total came from its operations in the United States. Its American tax bill? None. In fact, G.E. claimed a tax benefit of $3.2 billion.
The Times highlighted the skill of GE’s dream team:
G.E.’s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world’s best tax law firm. Indeed, the company’s slogan “Imagination at Work” fits this department well. The team includes former officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress.
More recently from The Weekly Standard we find what kind of effort it takes to pay no taxes on $14 billion in profits:
General Electric, one of the largest corporations in America, filed a whopping 57,000-page federal tax return earlier this year but didn’t pay taxes on $14 billion in profits. The return, which was filed electronically, would have been 19 feet high if printed out and stacked.
(FYI, the length of GE’s tax return has doubled since 2006 when it (first?) filed electronically at an equivalent of 24,000 pages.)
GE’s tax bill illustrates both why our corporate tax rate is too high and too low. The nominal rate is too high which encourages a real rate which is too low.
Consider the resources that GE spends to lowers its tax bill, not just the many millions spent on clever accounting and accountants and the many millions spent on lobbying but also the many inefficient ways that GE structures its businesses just to avoid paying taxes and the many millions it invests in socially wasteful projects just in order to produce privately valuable tax credits. Now add to that the allocational inefficiencies of taxing some firms at different rates than others and you have a corporate tax system which wastes a lot of resources and raises relatively little revenue. Indeed, a corporate tax system with a tax rate of zero could well be preferable as it would waste fewer resources and raise not much less revenue.
Hat tip: TaxProf blog.The 57,000 Page Tax Return
by Alex Tabarrok
The NYTimes reported earlier this... more
The super-rich 1% have plunged us into a debt crisis by refusing to pay their fair share of taxes even as they strain the budget with wars, corporate welfare and bailouts. Now, the crisis they created is their excuse to force us to accept austerity measures.
Led by the Koch brothers and using the Tea Party as a front group, they succeeded in passing a bill that set up a Super Committee charged with drafting legislation by November 23 to slash $1.5 trillion from the federal budget.
If the Super Committee fails to produce a budget reduction plan or if the plan does not become law, spending will be lowered by $1.2 trillion, with $109.3 billion in cuts per year, half of which, $54.7 billion, comes from military spending and the other half from the rest of the budget. These cuts affect both mandatory and discretionary spending with proportionate cuts to both, but Social Security and Medicaid are protected while Medicare providers would see, at most, a two percent reduction in payments.
Why the Supercommittee Should Disband
Defense Contractors Pay Little To No Corporate Income Tax While Earning Billions
Fraudulent defense contractors paid $1 trillion
The dozen Super Committee members are the targets of countless corporate lobbyists and campaign donors working to protect defense contracts and industry subsidies while encouraging spending cuts and privatization for Food Stamps/SNAP, School Meals, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
In the last three months, the Farm Bureau and Biotech have spent $700,000 to influence the Super Committee and stave off cuts to direct payments for commodity producers (most are huge corporations growing Monsanto's genetically engineered crops) by gutting nutrition programs for hungry people.
If Congress had to put each of these deficit reduction measures to a vote, they would lose. Maintaining corporate welfare and tax breaks for the richest 1% by looting programs that serve the working poor and unemployed in a time of economic crisis isn't a good reelection strategy.
The Senate recently voted 84-15 to cut farm subsidies to anyone with an average income over $1 million. They voted 58 to 41 to defeat cuts to Food Stamps/SNAP.
The Super Committee process is designed to avoid votes like that. Congress will have to vote up or down on the debt reduction package without amendments or filibuster.
The Super Committee shuts down democracy. We need to shut down the Super Committee!
Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation to do just that (H.R.3201). Here's her argument:
More at the linkThe super-rich 1% have plunged us into a debt crisis by refusing to pay their fair... more
Obviously, this new “academy” values the welfare of the corporate interest over the interests of the individual voter and seeks limit corporate losses suffered through lawsuits and punitive damages, and it was launched by the right-wing Law and Economics Center at George Mason University, which means, as an educational institution, it maintains a special exemption from the House Ethics Rules on banning gifts to elected officials
http://veracitystew.com/2011/09/21/the-brothers-koch-educating-our-elected-leaders-video/Obviously, this new “academy” values the welfare of the corporate interest... more
Imagine corporations telling you they want to create American jobs in exchange for a tax break. Thanks to a compliant Congress, they get a cheap rate on billions of dollars of profits — and cut thousands of American jobs instead. (Pfizer and Hewlett-Packard come to mind.)
After the turn of the century, hundreds of multinationals, such as Pfizer and H-P, nominally headquartered in the United States had a problem. They had about $300 billion in profits parked overseas. They wanted to bring that money home — a process artfully called repatriation of funds.
Their opponent was the U.S. tax code: To repatriate profits, the code said they’d have to pay 35 cents on every dollar brought home. So they sweet-talked (that’s called lobbying) their friends in Congress (their hired elected minions) to fix the problem. Their congressional chums were glad to help out by lowering the tax bite to 5 cents for every dollar brought home. The lobbying effort was a good investment: For every buck the corporations spent, they got $220 back.Imagine corporations telling you they want to create American jobs in exchange for a... more
Thank Sandy Berman for directing us to this link at The Nation, pointing out how the Kochs and the extreme right, through their alter persona "ALEC", have disempowered the EPA and legitimized their right to poison you and me without even having to pay a fine !
"Take environmental protections. The Kochs have a penchant for paying their way out of serious violations and coming out ahead. Helped by Koch Industries’ lobbying efforts, one of the first measures George W. Bush signed into law as governor of Texas was an ALEC model bill giving corporations immunity from penalties if they tell regulators about their own violation of environmental rules. Dozens of other ALEC bills would limit environmental regulations or litigation in ways that would benefit Koch."Thank Sandy Berman for directing us to this link at The Nation, pointing out how the... more