News Articles for October 9, 2021

big oil, big pharma, corporate, drug war, economy, employment, financial, fossil fuel, inequality, jobs, labor, Politics, postal service, strike, taxes, Unemployment, usps, War, war crimes


Jobs Report Confirms Ending Unemployment Aid for 8 Million People Was a 'Complete Disaster'


Republican lawmakers argued, and many of their Democratic counterparts accepted, that slashing federal jobless aid would lead to robust growth in employment. However, data released Friday shows that while eight million people were booted from expanded unemployment insurance programs last month, employers added just 194,000 jobs—the weakest monthly increase this year.

"I hope this puts an end to the false myth that UI benefits keep people from working," said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.). "They don't."

"We can't build back better by adopting GOP talking points and putting them into policy," she added. "This was the wrong call a month ago and it's the wrong call today."

According to the right-wing theory, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits introduced in the early stages of the coronavirus crisis were keeping people from taking jobs, so removing a key source of income from millions of people would force them to return to the labor market in droves.

This "starve people back to work" strategy, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called the UI cuts, "did not work to say the least," said policy analyst Matt Bruenig, founder of the People's Policy Project, a left-wing think tank. READ MORE

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin's proposal to lop $2 trillion off his own party's social spending and climate agenda would support nearly two million fewer jobs per year than the full $3.5 trillion reconciliation plan backed by President Joe Biden, progressive lawmakers, and a majority of the U.S. public.

According to new research published Thursday by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), every single congressional district across all 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C. "would see fewer jobs supported" under the $1.5 trillion top-line figure Manchin has offered than under the $3.5 trillion proposal known as the Build Back Better Act.

A previous EPI analysis estimated that the reconciliation package combined with the Senate-passed bipartisan infrastructure bill—the two central components of Biden's domestic policy agenda—would support more than four million jobs each year, on average, over a decade.

"The Build Back Better agenda would make critical investments to deliver relief to financially strained households, raise productivity, and dampen inflation pressures to enhance America's long-term economic growth prospects," said Adam Hersh, a visiting economist at EPI and the author of the new analysis. "Further reducing the scale and scope of the budget reconciliation package unequivocally means the legislation will support far fewer jobs and deliver fewer benefits to lift up working families and boost the economy as a whole." READ MORE


Manchin Plan to Gut Biden Agenda Would Support 2 Million Fewer Jobs Per Year


Kellogg's On Strrr-ike': 1,400 Workers Walk Off Job to Protect Benefits

Kellogg's attempt to cut healthcare and other benefits comes as it rakes in record profits, "without regard for the well-being of the hardworking men and women who make the products that have created the company's massive profits."

Roughly 1,400 workers who make Corn Flakes, Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran, and Rice Krispies walked off the job on Tuesday to demand a fair contract, bringing all of the Kellogg Company's U.S. cereal factories to a halt in one of the nation's latest strikes.

Anthony Shelton, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), on Tuesday expressed the union's "unwavering solidarity with our courageous brothers and sisters who are on strike against the Kellogg Company" in four cities: Local 3G in Battle Creek, Michigan, where the company is headquartered; Local 50G in Omaha, Nebraska; Local 374G in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Local 252G in Memphis, Tennessee. READ MORE

Close to 100% of the 60,000-member film and television production employees union voted Monday to approve a strike in the coming days if studios don't agree to a fair deal for the lowest-paid workers who make movies and television shows possible.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) announced that with nearly nine in 10 members taking part in the vote, 98.68% of workers approved a strike authorization amid negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP), which represents hundreds of TV and film production companies.

"Ninety percent turnout with 98% voting yes is an incredible accomplishment," tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). "It's exactly the kind of mass-movement organizing we need right now."

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich called the vote "a milestone moment for the labor movement."

IATSE and AMPTP have been working for months to reach a deal regarding two contracts for production crew members, who face "excessively unsafe and harmful working hours, unlivable wages for the lowest paid crafts," and insufficient rest time for meals, between work days, and on weekends, according to IATSE. READ MORE


'Milestone Moment' for Labor as 98% of Major TV-Film Union Votes to Strike


We Are Being Robbed Blind by Big Pharma


Big Pharma's obscenely-priced drugs developed with tax dollars will continue to drain working people of income, savings, and—ultimately—their health until America recognizes healthcare as a right.

Molnupiravir is the new pill that's been all over the news recently because it can cut hospitalizations and deaths of unvaccinated Covid-infected people by as much as half and doesn't require folks to go to the hospital or an infusion center, like the monoclonal antibody remdesivir. Just take a pill every day for five days and you're good.

It was originally developed by Emory University to treat horses infected with Venezuelan equine encephalitis with a $10 million grant from the Department of Defense and $19 million from the National Institutes of Health. In other words, its invention was paid for with your tax dollars. READ MORE

The New Jersey-based pharmaceutical giant Merck is facing accusations of price gouging after it charged the U.S. over $700 per patient for a taxpayer-funded coronavirus treatment that, according to research, costs just $17.74 to produce.

Last week, Merck announced plans to request emergency federal authorization for molnupiravir after a late-stage clinical trial showed that a five-day course of the antiviral drug cut the risk of Covid-19 hospitalization or death in half in patients with mild-to-moderate cases.

The same day Merck unveiled the results of the trial and White House officials hailed the drug as another possible tool against Covid-19, the New York Times reported that "the federal government has placed advance orders for 1.7 million courses of treatment, at a price of about $700 per patient"—far more than the estimated cost of manufacturing the drug.

According to an analysis by Melissa Barber of Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health and Dzintars Gotham of King’s College Hospital in London, "the cost of production for molnupiravir capsules is US$1.74 per unit, or US$17.74 per five-day regimen." READ MORE


'Entirely Unsurprising': Merck Slammed for 4,000% Markup of Taxpayer-Funded Covid Drug


Moderna Founders Make Forbes 400 Richest List as Company Refuses to Share Vaccine With Poor

Two of Moderna's founders landed on this year's Forbes 400 list of the richest people in the U.S. as the Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical giant continues to rake in major profits from its coronavirus vaccine—and resists calls to share the recipe with the rest of the world.

Moderna chairman and co-founder Noubar Afeyan, board member and co-founder Robert Langer, and early investor Timothy Springer each appeared on the Forbes list for the first time.

As the Washington Post reported Wednesday, all three of the newly minted billionaires "own a stake in the biotech company, which saw its shares soar last year and which—along with U.S. drug giant Pfizer and German partner BioNTech—logged billions of dollars in vaccine sales as the virus spread." READ MORE

Before it was dissolved this fall, Purdue Pharma made billions selling the painkillers behind the overdose crisis while giving millions to patient advocacy groups, doctors’ organizations, and academia—spending that effectively served as an OxyContin marketing blitz.

Yet the details of this largesse have long been murky. Congressional and media investigations have named only a handful of recipients, and a more comprehensive view of Purdue’s payouts didn’t exist—until now.

Buried among thousands of opioid litigation documents is a 44-page spreadsheet from the company detailing more than $115 million in disbursements to nearly 800 organizations, including medical societies, police associations, anti-drug campaigns, and political networks. The data, which runs from 2002 to early 2015, reveals that groups like the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, PhRMA, and the Patient Advocate Foundation took even more money after 2007, when Purdue executives were convicted of federal felonies for misleading regulators and physicians about OxyContin’s dangers. READ MORE


Inside Purdue Pharma’s Multimillion-Dollar Payouts to Politicians and Pill-Pushers


Pandora Papers: 'Biggest-Ever' Bombshell Leak Exposes Financial Secrets of the Super-Rich

In what's being called the "biggest-ever leak of offshore data," a cache of nearly 12 million documents published Sunday laid bare the hidden wealth, secret dealings, and corruption of hundreds of world leaders, billionaires, public officials, celebrities, and others.

The bombshell revelations—known as the Pandora Papers—were published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and include private emails, secret contracts, and other records obtained during a two-year investigation involving more than 600 journalists in 117 countries and territories.

"This is the Panama Papers on steroids," said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle, referring to the 2016 exposé of the tax-evading secrets of the super-rich. "It's broader, richer, and has more detail."

"There's never been anything on this scale and it shows the reality of what offshore companies can offer to help people hide dodgy cash or avoid tax...READ MORE

As the bombshell Pandora Papers continue to expose dubious details about how the world's superrich hide their fortunes and avoid paying their fair share of taxes, Bloomberg on Friday published an analysis of U.S. Federal Reserve data revealing that Americans in the top 1% income tier now have more wealth than the entire middle class.

According to Bloomberg:

The middle 60% of U.S. households by income—a measure economists often use as a definition of the middle class—saw their combined assets drop to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data going back three decades. For the first time, the superrich had a bigger share, at 27%.

"Middle class" is defined here as households earning $27,000 to $141,000 annually, while the income threshold for membership in the 1% is $500,000 per year. According to the Fed data, 1.3 million U.S. households now have more wealth than the 77.8 million families in the middle 60%.  READ MORE


As Americans Demand Tax Reforms, Analysis Finds Top 1% Hold More Wealth Than Whole Middle Class


In Scathing Senate Testimony, Whistleblower Warns Facebook a Threat to Children and Democracy

Two days after a bombshell "60 Minutes" interview in which she accused Facebook of knowingly failing to stop the spread of dangerous lies and hateful content, whistleblower Frances Haugen testified Tuesday before U.S. senators, imploring Congress to hold the company and its CEO accountable for the many harms they cause.

Haugen—a former Facebook product manager—told the senators she went to work at the social media giant because she believed in its "potential to bring out the best in us."

"But I'm here today because I believe Facebook's products harm children, stoke division, and weaken our democracy," she said during her opening testimony. "The company's leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won't make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people."

"The documents I have provided to Congress prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages," she continued. "I came forward because I believe that every human being deserves the dignity of truth." READ MORE

WASHINGTON - Thousands of people are expected to take part in a week of protests at the White House this October 11-15 to pressure President Biden to declare a climate emergency and end all new fossil fuel projects.

Composed of hundreds of Indigenous, Black, environmental, climate justice, youth, and social justice organizations, the Build Back Fossil Free coalition will launch the People Vs. Fossil Fuels: Biden’s Test week of action in advance of the Glasgow COP26 Climate Summit. With that summit representing what many consider to be our “last, best chance” to avoid climate catastrophe, the week of action will urge the Administration to take action already within its authority to finally begin to fulfill its climate commitments.

To announce the event, the coalition released a new video inviting communities from across the country to join them in solidarity in D.C as they demand President Biden and his administration pick a side: People Vs. Fossil Fuels.

“As fires burn, oceans rise and cities flood, we’re mobilizing to Washington D.C. to demand that President Biden act on climate justice right now. The fossil fuel industry has brought devastation to our homelands and it’s time that we bring this fight to Biden’s doorstep,” said Joye Braun, Frontline Community Organizer with the Indigenous Environmental Network. READ MORE


Major Protests at the White House Will Urge President Biden to Act on Fossil Fuels


Fossil Fuel Firms Are Subsidized at a Rate of $11 Million Per Minute

The fossil fuel industry benefits from subsidies of $11 million every minute, according to analysis by the International Monetary Fund.

The IMF found the production and burning of coal, oil and gas was subsidized by $5.9 trillion in 2020, with not a single country pricing all its fuels sufficiently to reflect their full supply and environmental costs. Experts said the subsidies were “adding fuel to the fire” of the climate crisis, at a time when rapid reductions in carbon emissions were urgently needed.

Explicit subsidies that cut fuel prices accounted for 8 percent of the total and tax breaks another 6 percent. The biggest factors were failing to make polluters pay for the deaths and poor health caused by air pollution (42 percent) and for the heatwaves and other impacts of global heating (29 percent).

Setting fossil fuel prices that reflect their true cost would cut global CO2 emissions by over a third, the IMF analysts said. This would be a big step towards meeting the internationally agreed 1.5 degrees Celsius target. Keeping this target within reach is a key goal of the UN Cop26 climate summit in November. READ MORE

A Monday announcement from the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor saying his office is seeking approval to resume its investigation into potential war crimes in Afghanistan committed by the Taliban and the Islamic State—but excluding alleged atrocities committed by U.S. forces—sparked a flurry of outrage from human rights defenders.

"It seems there is no end to the betrayal of Afghans—now so many victims of torture and other abuses by U.S. and former Afghan government forces have been told there is no justice for you," Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, tweeted Monday in response to the announcement.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) on March 5, 2020 overturned its previous decision and authorized then-Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to formally probe crimes as far back as 2002 committed by members of the U.S. armed forces, the CIA, the Taliban, affiliated armed groups, and Afghan government forces. It would also have covered crimes committed at so-called CIA black sites in Poland, Lithuania, and Romania. READ MORE


Critics Fume as ICC Excludes US From Probe Into Afghan War Crimes


Financial Titans, Top Brands Implicated in Probe of 'Devastating' Palm Oil Industry Abuses

From the use of child labor and beatings of locals to the destruction of "climate-critical rainforest," an investigative report published Thursday exposes how the abuse of people and the planet by Papua New Guinea's palm oil sector has direct ties to global financiers and major household brands.

For its news report—entitled The True Price of Palm Oil: How global finance funds deforestation, violence, and human rights abuses in Papua New Guinea—the international NGO Global Witness conducted a two-year investigation into Bewani Oil Palm Plantations Ltd., East New Britain Resources Group (ENB), and the Rimbunan Hijau Group. What it found implicates some of the world's most profitable corporations.

Global Witness examined cargo shipments, company records, and satellite imagery, and interviewed people in the rural communities directly affected by plantations in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Undercover investigators also secretly recorded conversations in which ENB executives and a business partner bragged about using "schoolchildren" to pick the oil palm fruits, bribing local ministers, and paying off police to "brutalize villagers." READ MORE

Who can ever forget the brilliant oratory of Joe “Nothing Would Fundamentally Change” Biden two nights after Election Day last November? “Democracy is sometimes messy,” Joe “No Empathy, Give Me a Break” Biden said two months before Donald Trump’s wild-eyed marauders would descend on the US Capitol. “It sometimes requires a little patience. But that patience has been rewarded now for more than 240 years with a system of governance that’s been the envy of the world.”

What wise counsel! “Patience, underlings, your globally unmatched democracy will hear your cries!” What came over those Hunger Marchers and Sit-Down Strikers in the 1930s? What was Rosa Parks thinking when she refused to get up from that bus seat? Surely the great Black American escaped slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass needed to be more patient and feel more rewarded when he offered these bitter and impetuous reflections on July 4, 1852:

Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them… READ MORE


The American “System of Governance” is a Lethal Slaveowners’ Monstrosity


The Drug War’s Deepest Failure: Making Users the Enemy

The war on drugs may profess to be waged against narcotics, but it overwhelmingly targets people—a view increasingly shared by experts on drug use. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, touched on this recently when she wrote about addiction stigma in STAT, noting that “societal norms surrounding drug use and addiction continue to be informed by myths and misconceptions.”

Starting in the 1980s, a rowdy group of individuals began advocating for a different approach to drug policy called harm reduction. These activists, researchers, social workers, attorneys, and others, from a myriad of different backgrounds, have focused on the harms of drug use—not the drugs alone.

Maia Szalavitz’s new book Undoing Drugs: The Untold Story of Harm Reduction and the Future of Addiction is an in-depth history of a powerful idea, exploring many angles of drug policy, including prescription drug use, supervised consumption, and legalizing cannabis. Throughout, she also details the racial inequities and social justice tensions that have defined the drug war. READ MORE

This is a series about jerks, blowhards, racists, creeps, narcs, petty tyrants, tenured incompetents, passive–aggressive underminers, Taylorist fussbudgets, Pinkertonish snoops, pious liberal union-killers, and sneering capitalist dickheads, which is to say it is a series about bosses. Maybe even your boss. Well, not literally—unless you work or have worked with the people who told us the stories that make up this package—but in the sense that all bad bosses are essentially the same sort of asshole. They dominate your life in one way or another, and they fight like hell to preserve their privilege to do so. If you’ve had a bad boss in your career, you are sure to recognize at least some aspects of the various bosses described below.

Many of the stories detail specific wrongs. The boss who did not let servers take a lunch break. The boss who stalked a worker to try to prove that she did not need workers’ comp. The boss who said her employees were as disposable as paper towels (“If there’s a problem, you can just tear off another sheet.”). Others highlight a system—the gig economy, the consultant-industrial complex, American families’ treatment of au pairs. READ MORE


Stories of asshole managers—and the workers who fought back.


Be Your Own Boss: More Co-op Businesses Are Returning Workers’ Power

Renee Taylor was busy when I spoke with her. She was making 500 meals, following the day’s menu, “tamales, tacos, rice, pico,” accompanied by the background clamor of clattering metal serving trays.

Following her release in 2013 after 25 years in various Chicago-area prisons, the 52-year-old Taylor has been prepping and delivering meals for the food service company ChiFresh Kitchen. This isn’t any old restaurant gig: Taylor owns a piece of her workplace. ChiFresh belongs to its five worker-owners, all of whom have also done time.

At worker cooperatives, workers both own and run the business. Sometimes they must buy in to become owners, and they may also have representation on a board of directors. Worker-owners tend to benefit far more directly from their co-op’s economic success, as the proceeds and the control stay with them. While co-ops make up a small portion of US small businesses, the pandemic and its aftermath have helped popularize the model. According to Mo Manklang, policy director of the nonprofit US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, there are now 465 verified worker-owned co-ops in the country, up 36 percent since 2013. And about 450 more are in their start-up phase. READ MORE

Judge Loretta Preska, an adviser to the conservative Federalist Society, to which Chevron is a major donor, sentenced human rights attorney and Chevron nemesis Steven Donziger to six months in prison Friday for misdemeanor contempt of court after he had already spent 787 days under house arrest in New York.

Preska’s caustic outbursts — she said at the sentencing, “It seems that only the proverbial two-by-four between the eyes will instill in him any respect for the law” — capped a judicial farce worthy of the antics of Vasiliy Vasilievich, the presiding judge at the major show trials of the Great Purges in the Soviet Union, and the Nazi judge Roland Freisler who once shouted at a defendant, “You really are a lousy piece of trash!”

Donziger, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has been fighting against polluting American oil companies for nearly three decades on behalf of indigenous communities and peasant farmers in Ecuador.

His only “crime” was winning a $9.5 billion judgment in 2011 against Chevron for thousands of plaintiffs. The oil giant had bought Texaco oil company holdings in Ecuador, inheriting a lawsuit alleging it deliberately discharged 16 billion gallons of toxic waste from its oil sites into rivers, groundwater, and farmland. Since the verdict, Chevron has come after him, weaponizing litigation to destroy him economically, professionally and personally.  READ MORE


CHRIS HEDGES: The Anonymous Executioners of the Corporate State


How a company got away after committing the worst oil spill in history


Open-source intelligence and interviews tell a story about how oil-giant Chevron, when accused of devastating pollution in the rainforest of Ecuador, managed to make its defense a personal case against a human-rights lawyer. Ben Heubl explains the successful tactics and efforts with open information and shows how it shifted America’s attention away from one of the biggest environmental disasters in history.

Steven Donziger is a human-rights lawyer. He has spent the past one-and-a-half years at home. But not, like many of us, under lockdown. He was put under house arrest, on the orders of a judge in the state of New York.

In 2014 that judge, Lewis A Kaplan, had found Donziger and his Ecuadoran allies guilty of bribery and fraud in the US. Kaplan was holding investments in multiple funds with Chevron holdings at the time of his rulings. This judgement complicated the fight by the plaintiffs to collect compensation in the US for the environmental damages in Ecuador. The house arrest was later imposed because the lawyer refused to turn over confidential client information on his electronic devices to Chevron “without any legitimate basis”, he said. READ MORE

Just before the weekend came news that Steven Donziger, the courageous attorney who fought Chevron and won a $9.5 billion environmental case in Ecuador and who now fights the judicial system in America, has been sentenced to six months in prison for a patently ridiculous contempt charge.He was sentenced, this is to say, without a jury trial after a corrupt judge appointed Chevron’s law firm to conduct the prosecution. Take a sec to read that sentence again if you need to.If you read anything at all in the corporate press about this travesty, you read something like this, the Reuters lead:

“NEW YORK, Oct 1 (Reuters)—A disbarred American lawyer who spent decades battling Chevron Corp (CVX.N) over pollution in the Ecuadorian rainforest was sentenced Friday to six months’ imprisonment for criminal contempt charges arising from a lawsuit brought by the oil company.”

In other words, if you read anything at all in the corporate press about this judgment you were misinformed to the point of disinformed. The two meet at the horizon, you see: Misinform incessantly and you have disinformed. READ MORE


PATRICK LAWRENCE: Instead of a Free Press



US Mail About to Get Slower & More Expensive

Starting today, Oct. 1, every American will face a real adverse consequence of former Presiden Donald Trump’s making: slower mail at a higher price.

This is no one-time headline.

These increased costs and delays for tens of millions of pieces of First Class mail will happen six days a week from here on out — unless and until the leadership of the U.S. Postal Service is changed.

The new price hikes are higher than the rate of inflation and are paired with steep reductions in the use of air mail, all at the behest of Trump donor Louis DeJoy, who is the postmaster general, and Ron Bloom, the chair of the Postal Service Board of Governors, who was appointed by Trump.

Bloom supported DeJoy becoming postmaster in 2020 — with the backing of Mike Duncan, a crony of Sen. Mitch McConnell, and at the behest of Trump appointee Steve Mnuchin, the foreclosure king turned treasury secretary in the Trump administration.

Investigative reporting since then has raised major concerns about how DeJoy jumped to the front of the line and has demonstrated that Trump’s board failed to thoroughly vet DeJoy’s track record or police his multi-million-dollar financial conflicts of interest. READ MORE

So, you’re feeling down and blue about the Woke Luciferian madness shading our American life under its baleful bat-wings? A lot of my friends and loved ones are down and blue. At this darkest of dark hours, I have some advice for you. Say ‘okay’ to whatever shade the universe is throwing on you. Rise! Go with it. Run with it and mount it. Ride it until you exhaust the beast that has made itself your enemy. Ride it until it goes to ground and whimpers. Because that is how it ends and you get your life back.

The frightful swans, black, white, and gray, are circling in the sky like those old air-traffic jams above the runways of O’Hare in bad weather. They are looking to land, and as they do, they will change everything. Enough people around the country will finally get their minds right. They will come back to themselves wondering… where have I been? This is what is coming at us (let’s count the ways):

The Covid-19 spell breaks. The beast thought it was a good idea to deprive millions of their livelihoods just to get its way and force them to submit to a medical experiment conceived in the utmost bad faith. READ MORE


The Mark of the Beast

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