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“If a man has an apartment stacked to the ceiling with newspapers we call him crazy. If a woman has a trailer house full of cats we call her nuts. But when people pathologically hoard so much cash that they impoverish the entire nation, we put them on the cover of Fortune magazine and pretend that they are role models.”
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AlienLove: Business News

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 Screwed Again: The Golden Years Gap

Business News
Just 100 CEOs have as much saved up for retirement as 50 million American families combined.

By Sarah Anderson

Flo, the Progressive insurance pitch woman in the white uniform and headband, is relentlessly perky. She won’t be when she learns about the double standard that lets her CEO sock away millions more for retirement than she can.

Whereas the Flos of the working world face strict limits on how much they can set aside tax-free for their golden years, many of their bosses don’t.

Flo’s boss, Progressive CEO Glenn Renwick, dropped $26,170,569 last year into his deferred compensation account — that’s $26,152,569 more than Flo would’ve been allowed to invest in a 401(k).

Ordinary workers under 50 (like Flo) can contribute no more than $18,000 per year to a 401(k). But most big companies offer special accounts that allow their top brass to set aside unlimited amounts of their pay tax-free until they retire.

Renwick’s stockpiled more than $150 million in such an account during his more than two decades at the company. That’s enough to generate an $850,000 check every month for the rest of his life. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, November 23 @ 18:38:46 EST (1354 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Golden Weapons of Destruction Take Aim at El Salvador

Business News
Why do companies have the right to sue countries over environmental protection measures?

By John Cavanagh and Robin Broad

An obscure tribunal housed at the World Bank in Washington, D.C. will soon decide the fate of millions of people.

At issue is whether a government should be punished for refusing to let a foreign mining company operate because it wants to protect its main source of water.

The case pits El Salvador’s government against a Canadian gold-mining company that recently became part of a larger Australian-based corporation. When OceanaGold bought Pacific Rim last year, it identified the Salvadoran mining prospects as a key asset even though gold prices have sunk by more than a third from their 2011 high of more than $1,900 an ounce.

The case’s implications are chilling. If the company wins, this small country will have to either let the company mine or pay hundreds of millions of dollars. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Sunday, September 07 @ 16:33:47 EDT (1467 reads)
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 Health News: Cargill’s Integrity-Free Soybean Oil

Business News

By huge margins, consumers don't want Frankenfoods on their tables.

By Jim Hightower

Can you have your hypocrisy and eat it, too?

I don’t think so. But Cargill Inc. is doing its damndest to invalidate the old admonition that eating your cake today means not having it tomorrow.

As a leading producer and user of ingredients that contain genetically manipulated organisms, the food conglomerate with $136.7 billion in yearly sales faces a marketing problem: By huge margins, consumers here and around the world don’t want Frankenfoods on their families’ tables.

So Cargill, the largest privately held company in our country, ferociously opposes every state law and ballot initiative that would mandate the labeling of any product containing these genetically modified foods....

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, July 19 @ 19:43:01 EDT (1680 reads)
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 Opinion: The Common Sense Tax

Business News
A speculation tax is highly progressive, has huge revenue potential, and could curb Wall Street recklessness.

By Robert Weissman

It’s nothing new for Wall Street to work every possible angle so it can squeeze additional profits out of trades. It’s the job of lawmakers and regulators to make sure that Wall Street does not rip off investors or endanger the financial system’s stability.

Perhaps you’ve heard about high-frequency trading (HFT), one of the ways traders have been gaming the system. This gimmick is finally getting much-deserved attention from regulators, the public and the media. The next step is getting Congress to pay attention.

Newly spotlighted by Michael Lewis’ book, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, high-speed computerized trading has made a mockery of the notion of “investing” in the economy. Investors may hold an asset for far less than a second when they engage in high-frequency trading. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 15 @ 20:48:05 EDT (1267 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Buy a Box of Cereal, Waive Your Rights Goodbye

Business News
By forcing wronged consumers to resort to arbitration, our legal system is green-lighting corporate malfeasance.

By Paul Gordon

Buying a cell phone plan could make you powerless to sue your phone company if it defrauds you. Using a coupon to buy a box of cereal may mean you give up your right to sue if the food is tainted. Checking your grandmother into a nursing home could prevent you from holding the facility accountable for negligence. “Liking” something on Facebook could sign you on to a legally binding contract that you’ve never read.

American consumers are quietly being forced into contracts with giant corporations that they often don’t understand or even know about and are nearly always powerless to change.

These contracts are hidden in long, unwieldy terms-and-conditions documents. Even people who can decipher the legalese can’t change them. You either agree to sign your rights away to a cell phone service provider, or go without cell phone service at all.

The agreements prevent consumers from taking the corporations to court or joining with others in class actions. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, May 01 @ 21:29:14 EDT (1520 reads)
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 Labor News: Waiter, Am I Subsidizing Your Pay?

Business NewsThe rest of us need to stop picking up the restaurant industry's tab.

By Marjorie Elizabeth Wood

Late April doesn’t just bring flocks of tourists Washington. It’s when hundreds of members of the National Restaurant Association — a.k.a. the “other NRA” — swarm Capitol Hill for two intensive days of lobbying.

With a $65 million budget and over 52,000 members, the other NRA ranks among the nation’s most powerful corporate lobbies. In 2014, its top priorities include fighting pro-worker measures like paid sick days and new health care requirements the Affordable Care Act mandates for employees.

Challenging efforts to raise the minimum wage is the other NRA’s top priority right now. Legislative observers expect Congress to vote on a bill to raise the federal minimum from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour this spring.

The bill also includes a raise in the minimum wage for restaurant servers and other tipped workers, which has been stuck at $2.13 per hour for over 20 years. To date, the other NRA has spent more lobbying dollars opposing a minimum-wage boost than any other single industry group.

During their lobbying spree, members of the other NRA will no doubt profusely thank members of Congress who have helped maintain the status quo.

While they’re at it, there’s another group of people they should be generously thanking: American taxpayers. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, April 23 @ 20:58:17 EDT (1544 reads)
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 International: Toxic Tech

Business News
Apple and other big manufacturers must swap less-deadly chemicals for the cancerous ones poisoning their Chinese workers.

By Andrew Korfhage

Ming Kunpeng went to work for ASM Pacific Technology — a chip supplier for Apple — when he was 19 years old. Required to handle the known carcinogen benzene on a daily basis without adequate training or protective gear, the young worker fell ill at the age of 22. Doctors eventually diagnosed him with occupational leukemia.

After a year-long dispute, ASM Pacific Technology agreed to compensate Ming for his illness, but the settlement was insufficient to cover the care he needed. On December 28, 2013, this young man became one of the much-publicized Chinese electronics-worker suicide cases.

He took his own life, jumping from the top of the hospital where he was receiving treatment.

Ming’s story is just one of many told in filmmakers Heather White and Lynn Zhang’s new short-form documentary, Who Pays the Price? The Human Cost of Electronics.

In their film, White and Zhang explore the use of dangerous toxic chemicals in Chinese factories. They focus on the effects of these chemicals on the millions of workers exposed while making the iPhones, iPads, and other electronics that global consumers have come to depend on. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, April 04 @ 23:10:12 EDT (1906 reads)
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 The News: A Silver Anniversary for the World Wide Web

Business News
Do we have to celebrate Internet billionaires, too?

By Sam Pizzigati

Exactly 25 years ago, the British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee conceptually “invented” the World Wide Web — and set in motion a process that would rapidly make the online world an essential part of our daily lives.

By 1995, 14 percent of Americans were surfing the Web. The level today: 87 percent. And among young adults, the Pew Research Center notes, the Internet has reached “near saturation.”

Some 97 percent of Americans 18 to 29 are now going online.

Tim Berners-Lee never saw this inequality coming. He didn’t invent the Web to get rich. He released the code to his new system for free.

But others certainly have become rich via the Web. Some 123 billionaires today, Forbes calculates, owe their fortunes to high-tech. The top 15 of these high-tech billionaires hold a collective $382 billion in personal net worth. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, March 20 @ 21:06:05 EDT (1492 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Suicides of Bank Executives, Fraud, Financial Manipulation:

Business NewsJPMorgan Chase Advisor Tony Blair is Not Involved

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky

JPMorgan Chase is the unspoken architect of fraud, corruption, not to mention the establishment of the largest Ponzi scheme in World history.The agenda is to steal and appropriate wealth through market manipulation:

“Just last month, JPMorgan Chase acknowledged that it facilitated the largest Ponzi scheme in history, looking the other way as Bernie Madoff brazenly turned his business bank account at JPMorgan Chase into an unprecedented money laundering operation that would have set off bells, whistles and sirens at any other bank.

The U.S. Justice Department allowed JPMorgan to pay $1.7 billion and sign a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning no one goes to jail at JPMorgan — again. The largest question that no one can or will answer is how the compliance, legal and anti-money laundering personnel at JPMorgan ignored for years hundreds of transfers and billions of dollars in round trip maneuvers between Madoff and the account of Norman Levy. Even one such maneuver should set off an investigation. (Levy is now deceased and the Trustee for Madoff’s victims has settled with his estate.)” Pam Martens, Russ Martens, JPMorgan Vice President’s Death Shines Light on Bank’s Close Ties to the CIA,
WallStreetParade.com, February 12, 2014

To successfully implement its various financial operations, JP Morgan Chase not only controls politicians in high office, it also uses retired politicians to undertake advisory functions.

Upon his retirement from the position of Prime Minister, Tony Blair was appointed to a senior advisory position at JPMorgan Chase, His initial fee for this part-time consultancy was a modest retainer of £500,000 a year, ($750.000). It was subsequently increased to £2 million. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, February 17 @ 17:35:08 EST (1971 reads)
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 The News: Making Out Like Bandits

Business News
Why aren't any big bankers doing time?

By Janine Jackson and Peter Hart

It seems like almost every week brings news about Wall Street’s latest sins.

“JPMorgan Is Penalized $2 Billion Over Madoff,” blared one recent New York Times headline, when the paper explained that Bernie Madoff, the infamous Ponzi scheme con artist, wheeled and dealed via accounts at the bank.

Just a few days later came this news: “Steep Penalties Taken in Stride by JPMorgan Chase.” In that article, the Times described how the banking behemoth would pay out $20 billion to cover its many government fines — without so much as breaking a sweat.

The Wall Street giant can admit wrongdoing — or even lawbreaking — and get away with paying a pocket-change fine. How do they get away with it?

Regulators, many of whom either have worked at the big banks or aim to do so in the future, are certainly willing to go easy on their former or future bosses. And politicians backed by industry dollars are apt to counsel that it’s better to look ahead than obsess about “the past.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, January 17 @ 19:57:32 EST (2192 reads)
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 The News: A Golden Rule that Might Chip Away at Inequality

Business News
By making it mandatory for corporations to disclose the gap between what they pay their chief executives and most typical workers, the government will empower investors and consumers to compare individual corporations by their level of CEO greed.

By Sam Pizzigati

Watching grown men fulminate in public can be unnerving. Michael Piwowar and Daniel Gallagher — two distinctly CEO-friendly members of the federal Securities and Exchange Commission — recently did plenty of fulminating.

Piwowar and Gallagher had little choice. They were trying to defend the indefensible — the skyrocketing pay of America’s top executives — against a common-sense reform that lawmakers wrote into federal law three years ago.

That law, the Dodd-Frank Act, mandates that corporations annually reveal the ratio between what they pay their CEO and median, or most typical, worker.

Mandates like this don’t just automatically go into effect when a bill becomes law. Federal regulatory agencies have to draw up rules that spell out how any new mandate will be enforced. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, September 25 @ 23:11:07 EDT (2441 reads)
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 International: The Un-American Way

Business News
The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal threatens food safety and public health.

By Wenonah Hauter

The United States is negotiating a NAFTA-style trade deal that should be alarming to American consumers. The main reason it’s not getting much attention is that the mainstream media is largely ignoring it.

This pact deserves more news coverage. It threatens to undermine our own laws and increase the opportunity for corporate takeovers of public resources in the United States and abroad. The worst part? These negotiations are taking place behind closed doors.

This controversial agreement is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s comprised of the United States plus 11 other nations that border the Pacific Ocean. The TPP would boost liquefied natural gas exports and food imports. This increases the real dangers posed by reckless fracking for natural gas and the growth of imported food from several countries whose safety standards fall far short of our own.

The TPP could become the biggest corporate power grab in U.S. history. This deal would establish a regime under which corporations would acquire an equal status to countries, allowing them to take legal action against governments both at the national and local levels. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, August 26 @ 20:39:24 EDT (2199 reads)
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 Screwed Again: Exploited by Your Tax Dollars

Business News
The federal government supports more U.S. low wage jobs than McDonald's and Walmart put together.

By Martha Burk

McDonald’s really stepped in it this summer when the fast food empire created a budget for its underpaid employees to help them make ends meet on the low wages they bring home after flipping burgers all week.

At first, the McBudget didn’t include any money for food or gasoline, then it fixed that by telling its full-time workers to get a second job. It allocated only $20 a month for health insurance — less than half of what it costs to carry McDonald’s most affordable coverage option.

The golden arches deservedly came under fire and faced widespread ridicule.

This blunder underscored how huge corporations like Mickey D’s and Walmart are responsible for the majority of our nation’s low-wage jobs. But there’s another player in this mix that’s responsible for creating more poverty- level jobs than these two companies combined. It’s good ol’ Uncle Sam. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, August 07 @ 23:04:14 EDT (1274 reads)
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 International: It Can’t Happen Here

Business News
Au pairs may get an experience they didn't bargain for when they head for a stint in the United States.

By Tiffany Williams

After paying a staggering $1,500 to a recruitment agency in her home country of Thailand, “Wen” was excited to come to the United States to be an au pair.

Like all au pairs, she would live with a host family and provide childcare. This guest worker program is supposed to provide a cultural immersion experience during which young foreigners improve their English, take classes, and learn about the United States.

By law, au pairs must live with host families for whom they provide a maximum of 45 hours per week of child care and are paid exactly $195.75 per week — well below minimum wage — along with room and board.

When Wen (not her real name) arrived, her host family in Pittsburgh demanded that she work 16 hours per day, sometimes 24. The family also dictated that, in addition to providing care for two young kids, she would clean their house. And do their laundry. And handle the grocery shopping and cooking. They even told her to serve their houseguests. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, July 12 @ 20:26:21 EDT (727 reads)
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 Screwed Again: The Tradeoff Between Apple and Apples

Business NewsBy Scott Klinger

In May, Americans watched as Apple CEO Tim Cook defended his company’s tax avoidance strategies before a Senate investigative panel. Prior to the hearing, Senate investigators released a report documenting Apple’s use of accounting gimmicks to shift $74 billion of profits to Ireland over the last four years.

During their testimony, Cook and his colleagues acknowledged that 70 percent of the company’s global profits found their way to one particular Irish subsidiary, which the Apple gang described as having “no tax residence.” Pressed further, they admitted a second subsidiary, which houses almost $30 billion of global profits, hadn’t filed a tax return or paid taxes in any nation.

Hours later and steps away, the Senate voted to stick with a plan to cut $4 billion in funding from the food stamp program (known on Capitol Hill as SNAP) out of the Farm Bill. The House version would slice even deeper — a $20.5 billion cut.

What’s going on? Apples are being snatched from the tables of millions of hungry people in America so that companies like Apple can continue to legally move their U.S. profits offshore to avoid paying taxes. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, July 05 @ 21:49:30 EDT (779 reads)
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