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AlienLove: Business News

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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 (36 reads)
(Read More... | 5156 bytes more | Comments? | Labor News | Score: 0)

 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 (305 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 (482 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 (925 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 (1410 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 (1887 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 (1485 reads)
(Read More... | 4669 bytes more | Comments? | International | Score: 0)

 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 (930 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 (339 reads)
(Read More... | 5360 bytes more | Comments? | International | Score: 0)

 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 (305 reads)
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 The News: A Rotten Bacon Behemoth

Business News
If a Chinese company's bid to acquire Smithfield goes through, consumers and farmers will suffer.

By Wenonah Hauter

American consumers may not even notice the change if a newly proposed takeover by China’s largest meat processor of our nation’s leading pork company goes through. But the $4.7 billion transaction would certainly show up on our plates: in the form of farmer exploitation, more factory farms, and a more complicated supply chain that increases the risk of food contamination.

We should all be leery of deals like Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd.’s proposed purchase of Smithfield Foods Inc. They further consolidate our food system, which is already dominated by a mere handful of Big Ag players. And when these cross-border corporate takeovers involve companies with a history of food safety problems and countries with abysmal track records for food and worker safety, our government should refuse to let them go forward.

Putting profits above people is a cross-cultural problem. Smithfield owns more hogs than the next eight largest U.S. hog producers combined. It slaughters more hogs than any other company in the world and the company has a growing stranglehold over U.S. farmers, who have fewer options for selling their hogs at the market and are prey to abusive contractors from processors like Smithfield. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, June 11 @ 18:06:38 EDT (308 reads)
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 Environment: ExxonMobil’s Mayflower Mess

Business News
Tar sands crude is both more toxic and much harder to clean than ordinary oil.

By Michael Brune

Several weeks after ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline gushed at least 500,000 gallons of tar sands crude and water into the Arkansas community of Mayflower, many of the evacuated families still can’t return to their homes.

Sierra Club organizer Glen Hooks, who grew up about 20 miles southeast of this disaster site, recently attended a meeting for the displaced families at Mayflower High School. “I had to really stare down some ExxonMobil goons who told me to leave because it was a private meeting,” he said. “I politely explained that it was a meeting in a public building about a public subject with numerous public officials in attendance, and that I was planning to stay.”

During the Mayflower meeting, Hooks listened as an ExxonMobil executive apologized to the families and said that the focus was on safety and helping the homeowners. “The meeting then moved into a phase where ExxonMobil met with individual family members about their claims in a side room guarded by no fewer than six uniformed police officers.”

Here’s something that the Big Oil leader probably didn’t tell those homeowners: In 2010, it was fined $26,200 by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration for failing to regularly inspect each point where the Pegasus line crosses under a navigable waterway.

This is a pipeline that crosses under the Mississippi River — just one of the places ExxonMobil failed to do inspections. It’s hard to say which is more shocking: that “safety first” ExxonMobil has been so cavalier about pipeline inspections or that it was fined such a pittance for its irresponsibility. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, April 18 @ 21:20:17 EDT (282 reads)
(Read More... | 4742 bytes more | Comments? | Environment | Score: 0)

 International: GMO Agribusiness and the Destructive Nature of Global Capitalism

Business NewsBy Colin Todhunter

Capitalism is based on managing its inherent crises. It is also based on the need to maximise profit, beat down competitors, cut overheads and depress wages. In the 1960s and 70s, in the face of increasing competition from abroad, the US began to outsource manufacturing production to bring down costs by using cheap foreign labour. Other countries followed suit. Even more jobs were lost through the impulse to automate. To provide a further edge, trade unions and welfare were attacked in order to suppress wages at home. Problem solved. Or was it?

Not really. As wages in the west stagnated or decreased and unemployment increased, the market for goods was under threat – if people have less money to buy things, then what to do? New problem, new ‘solution’ – lend people money and create a debt-ridden consumer society. Of course, it produced great opportunities for investors in finance, and all kinds of dubious financial derivatives and products were created, sold to the public and repackaged and shifted around the banking system. That market became saturated and the debt bubble burst. This time around the ‘solution’ is to print money and give bailouts to the banks to cover their gambling losses and to get them lending once again. With a huge hole appearing in state coffers due to the bailouts and national debt spiraling during the years of neo-liberalism, the current crisis has become an opportunity for the finance sector to exert long-term debt-related control over sovereign states, including public asset stripping via ‘austerity’. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, February 20 @ 18:34:16 EST (399 reads)
(Read More... | 9770 bytes more | Comments? | International | Score: 0)

 Business/Economy: Retail Injustice

Business News
Most big retail chains treat their employees as nothing but a drain on profits.

By Jim Hightower

The Powers That Be say the bulk of America’s middle-class manufacturing jobs are gone and aren’t coming back. High-tech jobs are being outsourced, as is an increasing share of the work historically handled by our accountants, lawyers, and some other professionals.

Retail jobs at brick-and-mortar shops, however, can’t be exported.

But wait, those aren’t jobs, they’re “jobettes.” They’re part-time, pay poverty wages, offer no benefits, feature lousy schedules, come with little training, and boast few advancement opportunities.

Most big retail chains treat their employees as nothing but a drain on profits rather than an asset worth investing in. Sales people are typically paid only $10 an hour, clerks get only $9.70, and cashiers just $9. Even worse, 94 percent of retailers define full-time work as only 30 hours a week. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, February 18 @ 20:22:30 EST (1049 reads)
(Read More... | 2989 bytes more | Comments? | Business/Economy | Score: 0)

 Health News: Don’t Put a Fork in It

Business News
Despite consumer opposition, the FDA is one step away from approving genetically engineered salmon.

By Wenonah Hauter

While most Americans were enjoying the holiday season or stressing out over the nation’s imminent leap off the so-called fiscal cliff, the Food and Drug Administration delivered some big news as quietly as possible.

On December 21, the agency announced that AquaBounty’s genetically engineered salmon had cleared the final hurdle before clinching FDA approval.

Despite insufficient testing and widespread consumer opposition, AquaBounty’s food experiment is dangerously close to becoming the first genetically engineered animal produced for human consumption. Yes, a newfangled fish may soon land on a dinner plate near you.

For those who have been following this news for the past several years, the timing of the FDA’s release of its draft environmental assessment — the Friday before Christmas — was no surprise. But the news was still frightening: The FDA may give this transgenic animal the green light under a new approval process that treats the fish as an “animal drug.”

Prefer your salmon without those eel genes spliced into its DNA? Pay close attention because this frankenfish may hit the market without any sort of label. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, February 11 @ 19:41:14 EST (937 reads)
(Read More... | 5576 bytes more | Comments? | Health News | Score: 0)


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