October 28, 2008

10 Things the Food Industry Doesn't Want You to Know

By Adam Voiland

 

Two nutrition experts argue that you can't take marketing campaigns at face value

With America's obesity problem among kids reaching crisis proportions, even junk food makers have started to claim they want to steer children toward more healthful choices. In a study released earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 32 percent of children were overweight but not obese, 16 percent were obese, and 11 percent were extremely obese. Food giant PepsiCo, for example, points out on its website that "we can play an important role in helping kids lead healthier lives by offering healthy product choices in schools." The company highlights what it considers its healthier products within various food categories through a "Smart Spot" marketing campaign that features green symbols on packaging. PepsiCo's inclusive criteria--explained here--award spots to foods of dubious nutritional value such as Diet Pepsi, Cap'n Crunch cereal, reduced-fat Doritos, and Cheetos, as well as to more nutritious products such as Quaker Oatmeal and Tropicana Orange Juice.

But are wellness initiatives like Smart Spot just marketing ploys? Such moves by the food industry may seem to be a step in the right direction, but ultimately makers of popular junk foods have an obligation to stockholders to encourage kids to eat more--not less--of the foods that fuel their profits, says David Ludwig, a pediatrician and the co-author of a commentary published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association that raises questions about whether big food companies can be trusted to help combat obesity. Ludwig and article co-author Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, both of whom have long histories of tracking the food industry, spoke with U.S. News and highlighted 10 things that junk food makers don't want you to know about their products and how they promote them.

1. Junk food makers spend billions advertising unhealthy foods to kids.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, food makers spend some $1.6 billion annually to reach children through the traditional media as well the Internet, in-store advertising, and sweepstakes. An article published in 2006 in the Journal of Public Health Policy puts the number as high as $10 billion annually. Promotions often use cartoon characters or free giveaways to entice kids into the junk food fold. PepsiCo has pledged that it will advertise only "Smart Spot" products to children under 12.

2. The studies that food producers support tend to minimize health concerns associated with their products.
In fact, according to a review led by Ludwig of hundreds of studies that looked at the health effects of milk, juice, and soda, the likelihood of conclusions favorable to the industry was several times higher among industry-sponsored research than studies that received no industry funding. "If a study is funded by the industry, it may be closer to advertising than science," he says.

3. Junk food makers donate large sums of money to professional nutrition associations.
The American Dietetic Association, for example, accepts money from companies such as Coca-Cola, which get access to decision makers in the food and nutrition marketplace via ADA events and programs, as this release explains. As Nestle notes in her blog and discusses at length in her book Food Politics, the group even distributes nutritional fact sheets that are directly sponsored by specific industry groups. This one, for example, which is sponsored by an industry group that promotes lamb, rather unsurprisingly touts the nutritional benefits of lamb. The ADA's reasoning: "These collaborations take place with the understanding that ADA does not support any program or message that does not correspond with ADA's science-based healthful-eating messages and positions," according to the group's president, dietitian Martin Yadrick. "In fact, we think it's important for us to be at the same table with food companies because of the positive influence that we can have on them."

4. More processing means more profits, but typically makes the food less healthy.
Minimally processed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables obviously aren't where food companies look for profits. The big bucks stem from turning government-subsidized commodity crops--mainly corn, wheat, and soybeans--into fast foods, snack foods, and beverages. High-profit products derived from these commodity crops are generally high in calories and low in nutritional value.

5. Less-processed foods are generally more satiating than their highly processed counterparts.
Fresh apples have an abundance of fiber and nutrients that are lost when they are processed into applesauce. And the added sugar or other sweeteners increase the number of calories without necessarily making the applesauce any more filling. Apple juice, which is even more processed, has had almost all of the fiber and nutrients stripped out. This same stripping out of nutrients, says Ludwig, happens with highly refined white bread compared with stone-ground whole wheat bread.

6. Many supposedly healthy replacement foods are hardly healthier than the foods they replace.
In 2006, for example, major beverage makers agreed to remove sugary sodas from school vending machines. But the industry mounted an intense lobbying effort that persuaded lawmakers to allow sports drinks and vitamin waters that--despite their slightly healthier reputations--still can be packed with sugar and calories.

7. A health claim on the label doesn't necessarily make a food healthy.
Health claims such as "zero trans fats" or "contains whole wheat" may create the false impression that a product is healthy when it's not. While the claims may be true, a product is not going to benefit your kid's health if it's also loaded with salt and sugar or saturated fat, say, and lacks fiber or other nutrients. "These claims are calorie distracters," adds Nestle. "They make people forget about the calories." Dave DeCecco, a spokesperson for PepsiCo, counters that the intent of a labeling program such as Smart Spot is simply to help consumers pick a healthier choice within a category. "We're not trying to tell people that a bag of Doritos is healthier than asparagus. But, if you're buying chips, and you're busy, and you don't have a lot of time to read every part of the label, it's an easy way to make a smarter choice," he says.

8. Food industry pressure has made nutritional guidelines confusing.
As Nestle explained in Food Politics, the food industry has a history of preferring scientific jargon to straight talk. As far back as 1977, public health officials attempted to include the advice "reduce consumption of meat" in an important report called Dietary Goals for the United States. The report's authors capitulated to intense pushback from the cattle industry and used this less-direct and more ambiguous advice: "Choose meats, poultry, and fish which will reduce saturated fat intake." Overall, says Nestle, the government has a hard time suggesting that people eat less of anything.

9. The food industry funds front groups that fight antiobesity public health initiatives.
Unless you follow politics closely, you wouldn't necessarily realize that a group with a name like the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has anything to do with the food industry. In fact,Ludwig and Nestle point out, this group lobbies aggressively against obesity-related public health campaigns--such as the one directed at removing junk food from schools--and is funded, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, primarily through donations from big food companies such as Coca-Cola, Cargill, Tyson Foods, and Wendy's.

10. The food industry works aggressively to discredit its critics.
According to the new JAMA article, the Center for Consumer Freedom boasts that "[our strategy] is to shoot the messenger. We've got to attack [activists'] credibility as spokespersons." Here's the group's entry on Marion Nestle.

The bottom line, says Nestle, is quite simple: Kids need to eat less, include more fruits and vegetables, and limit the junk food.

 

October 26, 2008

CNN Reports on Deployment of 1st Brigade Combat Team in U.S.

Larry Shaughnessy-CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The United States military’s Northern Command, formed in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, is dedicating a combat infantry team to deal with catastrophes in the U.S., including terrorist attacks and natural disasters.

The 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry, which was first into Baghdad, Iraq, in 2003, started its controversial assignment Wednesday.

The First Raiders will spend 2009 as the first active-duty military unit attached to the U.S. Northern Command since it was created. They will be based in Fort Stewart, Georgia, and focus primarily on logistics and support for local police and rescue personnel, the Army says.

The plan is drawing skepticism from some observers who are concerned that the unit has been training with equipment generally used in law enforcement, including beanbag bullets, Tasers, spike strips and roadblocks.

That kind of training seems a bit out of line for the unit’s designated role as Northern Command’s CCMRF (Sea Smurf), or CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force. CBRNE stands for chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive incidents.

According to Northern Command’s Web site, the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force is a team that will ultimately number about 4,700 personnel from the different military branches that would deploy as the Department of Defense’s initial response force.

Read article

 

 

October 12, 2008

The Corporation Movie Part 1

JFK II: The Bush Connection 1/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality

"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 2/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality

"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 3/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality

"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 4/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality

"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 5/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality

"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 6/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality

"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 7/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality

"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 8/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality

"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 9/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality
"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

JFK II: The Bush Connection 10/10

By Unknown, Medium Quality
"A thoroughly documented criminal indictment of George Herbert Walker Bush, establishing beyond a reasonable doubt, his guilt as a supervisor in the conspiracy to murder John Kennedy. Relies exclusively on government documents and the publicly acknowledged statements and histories of the guilty parties. Kevin Thomas of the LA Times wrote: "...provocative to say the least. Using materials familiar to researchers of the assassination of President Kennedy, Hankey makes a series of tantalizing connections between the rich and the powerful. Drawing on materials that suggest that JFK was shot from the front, Hankey argues that Kennedy was a victim of a conspiracy that has never been uncovered." -amazon.com

The Secret Language of The New World Order

Jordan Maxwell presents the symbols on the one dollar bill that are the language used by the Illuminati to identify meaning to those with the knowledge to see.

Missouri officials suspect fake voter registration

By BILL DRAPER, Associated Press Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Officials in Missouri, a hard-fought jewel in the presidential race, are sifting through possibly hundreds of questionable or duplicate voter-registration forms submitted by an advocacy group that has been accused of election fraud in other states.

Charlene Davis, co-director of the election board in Jackson County, where Kansas City is, said the fraudulent registration forms came from the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN. She said they were bogging down work Wednesday, the final day Missourians could register to vote.

"I don't even know the entire scope of it because registrations are coming in so heavy," Davis said. "We have identified about 100 duplicates, and probably 280 addresses that don't exist, people who have driver's license numbers that won't verify or Social Security numbers that won't verify. Some have no address at all."

The nonpartisan group works to recruit low-income voters, who tend to lean Democratic. Most polls show Republican presidential candidate John McCain with an edge in bellwether Missouri, but Democrat Barack Obama continues to put up a strong fight.

Jess Ordower, Midwest director of ACORN, said his group hasn't done any registrations in Kansas City since late August. He said he was told three weeks ago by election officials that there were only about 135 questionable cards — 85 of them duplicates.

"They keep telling different people different things," he said. "They gave us a list of 130, then told someone else it was 1,000."

FBI spokeswoman Bridget Patton said the agency has been in contact with elections officials about potential voter fraud and plans to investigate.

"It's a matter we take very seriously," Patton said. "It is against the law to register someone to vote who does not fall within the parameters to vote, or to put someone on there falsely."

On Tuesday, authorities in Nevada seized records from ACORN after finding fraudulent registration forms that included the starting lineup of the Dallas Cowboys.

In April, eight ACORN workers in St. Louis city and county pleaded guilty to federal election fraud for submitting false registration cards for the 2006 election. U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway said they submitted cards with false addresses and names, and forged signatures.

Ordower said Wednesday that ACORN registered about 53,500 people in Missouri this year. He believes his group is being targeted because some politicians don't want that many low-income people having a voice.

"It's par for the course," he said. "When you're doing more registrations than anyone else in the country, some don't want low-income people being empowered to vote. There are pretty targeted attacks on us, but we're proud to be out there doing the patriotic thing getting people registered to vote."

Republicans are among ACORN's loudest critics. At a campaign stop in Bethlehem, Pa., supporters of John McCain interrupted his remarks Wednesday by shouting, "No more ACORN."

Debbie Mesloh, spokeswoman for the Obama campaign in Missouri, said in an e-mailed statement that the campaign supported any investigation of possible fraud.

According to its national Web site, the group has registered 1.3 million people nationwide for the Nov. 4 election. It also has encountered complaints of fraud stemming from registration efforts in Wisconsin, New Mexico, Nevada and battleground states like Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina, where new voter registrations have favored Democrats nearly 4 to 1 since the beginning of this year.

Missouri offers 11 electoral votes; the presidential candidates need at least 270 to win the election.

Local 2 Investigates Dead Voters

The push to register voters for this year's presidential election is breaking records

 

HOUSTON -- Note: The following story is a verbatim transcript of an Investigators story that aired on Thursday, Oct. 8, 2008, on KPRC Local 2 at 10 p.m.

 

More than 1.9 million people are registered to vote in Harris County alone.

But how many of the people listed on the voter roll are actually eligible to cast a ballot?

Investigative reporter Amy Davis shows you how hundreds of voters could sway this year's election -- voters who are not even alive.

"All-in-all, a great person, a great woman, just a wonderful person" is how Alexis Guidry described her mother to Local 2 Investigates.

"As far back as I can remember, they've always voted in the election," Guidry said of her parents.

The March 2008 Primary was no exception. Voting records show Alexis' mom, Gloria Guidry, cast her ballot in person near her South Houston home.

"It was just very shocking, a little unsettling," said Alexis Guidry.

It's unsettling because Gloria Guidry died of cancer 10 months before the March Primary.

"She'd be very upset," Guidry said when asked what her mom would think.

Trent Seibert, of Texas Watchdog, says you should be too.

"This is really disquieting. It's concerning. It's worrisome," said Seibert.

He heads up the non-partisan news group on the web.

Texas Watchdog compared Harris County's voter registration roll with the Social Security death index and found more than 4,000 matches -- registered voters that, it appears, are already dead.

Some of them, like Henderson Hill's late wife Linda, voted postmortem.

"I would like to know who did it, myself," Hill told Davis.

We don't know who used Linda Hill's or Gloria Guidry's IDs to vote, but we do know if their names had been purged from voter rolls after they died, using their IDs wouldn't have worked.

"This is a red flag. No matter where you are, this should set off alarm bells," Seibert said. "Someone needs to take a look at this."

Local 2 Investigates took the information to the Harris County Voter Registrar.

"We just kind of work with the systems that we're allowed to," explained George Hammerlein, the director of Harris County Voter Registration.

The county's system for culling deceased voters from the roll seems painfully primitive.

We watched employees clip obituaries from the newspaper and sort through probate records for names matching those on the roll. But, Hammerlein says while fraud is a concern, for his office, disenfranchising voters is a bigger one.

"We do all we can, but you know we'd rather err on the side of leaving people on the roll instead of taking them off inadvertently," he said.

But could that cautious "better safe than sorry" standard sway an election some say will be a close one?

Texas Watchdog found 4,462 registered voters who appear to be deceased.

In 2000, George Bush won the presidential election by a mere 537 votes in Florida.

"We've never had any evidence there's a concerted attempt at fraud," Hammerlein told Local 2.

But there is evidence the state agency in charge of ensuring only eligible voters can vote is not.

The State Auditor's Office conducted an audit of the voter registration system at the Secretary of State's Office last November.

Auditors identified 49,049 registered voters state-wide who may have been ineligible to vote. Approximately 23,576 may have been deceased and another 23,114 were possible felons. And they found more than 2,359 duplicate records.

The auditor did not find any instances in which potentially ineligible voters actually voted, but they wrote, "Although the Secretary of State's office has processes to identify many ineligible voters and remove them from the State's voter registration list, improvements can be made."

Almost a year after this audit, we wanted to know if the Secretary of State has made any improvements. Have they added any safeguards to the process?

No one from that office would talk to us on camera, but the Director of Elections told us, "We'd rather err in leaving someone on the roll than taking someone off."

"If there's something wrong here, if there's something amiss, this is the worst election to have that happen, "Seibert warned.

And Guidry agrees.

"I don't think it's a matter that she would take lightly," she said of her mom.

In what she calls an historic election, Guidry says her mother wouldn't want anyone speaking for her.

"I think she would definitely do all that she could just to make sure things were on the up and up."

We sent the information we showed you to the Director of Elections in Austin. She said her office refers any credible allegation of election fraud to the Attorney General for investigation.

She said the cases we presented would be felony violations.

Visit www.texaswatchdog.org for more information about how Texas Watchdog found dead voters on the rolls.

October 10, 2008

Remember, Remember the 5th of November

 

test

 

Spies speak out: Inside Account of U.S. Eavesdropping on Americans

 

U.S. Officers' "Phone Sex" Intercepted; Senate Demanding Answers

Brian Ross, Vic Walter, and Anna Schecter
ABC News


Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), called the allegations "extremely disturbing" and said the committee has begun its own examination.
"We have requested all relevant information from the Bush Administration," Rockefeller said Thursday. "The Committee will take whatever action is necessary."
"These were just really everyday, average, ordinary Americans who happened to be in the Middle East, in our area of intercept and happened to be making these phone calls on satellite phones," said Adrienne Kinne, a 31-year old US Army Reserves Arab linguist assigned to a special military program at the NSA's Back Hall at Fort Gordon from November 2001 to 2003.
Kinne described the contents of the calls as "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism."
She said US military officers, American journalists and American aid workers were routinely intercepted and "collected on" as they called their offices or homes in the United States.
Watch "World News Tonight with Charles Gibson" and "Nightline" for more of Brian Ross' exclusive report.
Another intercept operator, former Navy Arab linguist, David Murfee Faulk, 39, said he and his fellow intercept operators listened into hundreds of Americans picked up using phones in Baghdad's Green Zone from late 2003 to November 2007.
"Calling home to the United States, talking to their spouses, sometimes their girlfriends, sometimes one phone call following another," said Faulk.
The accounts of the two former intercept operators, who have never met and did not know of the other's allegations, provide the first inside look at the day to day operations of the huge and controversial US terrorist surveillance program.
"There is a constant check to make sure that our civil liberties of our citizens are treated with respect," said President Bush at a news conference this past February.
But the accounts of the two whistleblowers, which could not be independently corroborated, raise serious questions about how much respect is accorded those Americans whose conversations are intercepted in the name of fighting terrorism.
US Soldier's 'Phone Sex' Intercepted, Shared
Faulk says he and others in his section of the NSA facility at Fort Gordon routinely shared salacious or tantalizing phone calls that had been intercepted, alerting office mates to certain time codes of "cuts" that were available on each operator's computer.
"Hey, check this out," Faulk says he would be told, "there's good phone sex or there's some pillow talk, pull up this call, it's really funny, go check it out. It would be some colonel making pillow talk and we would say, 'Wow, this was crazy'," Faulk told ABC News.
Faulk said he joined in to listen, and talk about it during breaks in Back Hall's "smoke pit," but ended up feeling badly about his actions.
"I feel that it was something that the people should not have done. Including me," he said.
In testimony before Congress, then-NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden, now director of the CIA, said private conversations of Americans are not intercepted.
"It's not for the heck of it. We are narrowly focused and drilled on protecting the nation against al Qaeda and those organizations who are affiliated with it," Gen. Hayden testified.
He was asked by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), "Are you just doing this because you just want to pry into people's lives?"
"No, sir," General Hayden replied.
Asked for comment about the ABC News report and accounts of intimate and private phone calls of military officers being passed around, a US intelligence official said "all employees of the US government" should expect that their telephone conversations could be monitored as part of an effort to safeguard security and "information assurance."
"They certainly didn't consent to having interceptions of their telephone sex conversations being passed around like some type of fraternity game," said Jonathon Turley, a constitutional law professor at George Washington University who has testified before Congress on the country's warrantless surveillance program.
"This story is to surveillance law what Abu Ghraib was to prison law," Turley said.
Listening to Aid Workers
NSA awarded Adrienne Kinne a NSA Joint Service Achievement Medal in 2003 at the same time she says she was listening to hundreds of private conversations between Americans, including many from the International Red Cross and Doctors without Borders.
"We knew they were working for these aid organizations," Kinne told ABC News. "They were identified in our systems as 'belongs to the International Red Cross' and all these other organizations. And yet, instead of blocking these phone numbers we continued to collect on them," she told ABC News.
A spokesman for Doctors Without Borders, Michael Goldfarb, said: "The abuse of humanitarian action through intelligence gathering for military or political objectives, threatens the ability to assist populations and undermines the safety of humanitarian aid workers."
Both Kinne and Faulk said their military commanders rebuffed questions about listening in to the private conversations of Americans talking to Americans.
"It was just always, that , you know, your job is not to question. Your job is to collect and pass on the information," Kinne said.
Some times, Kinne and Faulk said, the intercepts helped identify possible terror planning in Iraq and saved American lives.
"IED's were disarmed before they exploded, that people who were intending to harm US forces were captured ahead of time," Faulk said.
NSA job evaluation forms show he regularly received high marks for job performance. Faulk left his job as a newspaper reporter in Pittsburgh to join the Navy after 9/11.
Kinne says the success stories underscored for her the waste of time spent listening to innocent Americans, instead of looking for the terrorist needle in the haystack.
"By casting the net so wide and continuing to collect on Americans and aid organizations, it's almost like they're making the haystack bigger and it's harder to find that piece of information that might actually be useful to somebody," she said. "You're actually hurting our ability to effectively protect our national security."
The NSA: "The Shadow Factory"
Both former intercept operators came forward at first to speak with investigative journalist Jim Bamford for a book on the NSA, "The Shadow Factory," to be published next week.
"It's extremely rare," said Bamford, who has written two previous books on the NSA, including the landmark "Puzzle Palace" which first revealed the existence of the super secret spy agency.
"Both of them felt that what they were doing was illegal and improper, and immoral, and it shouldn't be done, and that's what forces whistleblowers."
A spokesman for General Hayden, Mark Mansfield, said: "At NSA, the law was followed assiduously. The notion that General Hayden sanctioned or tolerated illegalities of any sort is ridiculous on its face."
The director of the NSA, Lt. General Keith B. Alexander, declined to directly answer any of the allegations made by the whistleblowers.
In a written statement, Gen. Alexander said: "We have been entrusted to protect and defend the nation with integrity, accountability, and respect for the law. As Americans, we take this obligation seriously. Our employees work tirelessly for the good of the nation, and serve this country proudly."

 

Source: SOTT.net

October 7, 2008

90% of the U.S. Media is Owned by Six Corporations

 

Viacom

2006 revenues: $11.5 billion
Viacom holdings include: Music Television, Nickelodeon, VH1, BET, Comedy Central, Paramount Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, Atom Entertainment, publishing company Famous Music and music game developer Harmonix. Viacom 18 is a joint venture with the Indian media company Global Broadcast news.

Visit the Viacom homepage »

 

Time Warner

2006 revenues: $44.2 billion
Time Warner is the largest media conglomerate in the world, with holdings including: CNN, the CW (a joint venture with CBS), HBO, Cinemax, Cartoon Network, TBS, TNT, America Online, MapQuest, Moviefone, Netscape, Warner Bros. Pictures, Castle Rock, and New Line Cinema, over 150 magazines such as Time, Cooking Light, Marie Claire and People.
Time Warner services 17.9% of all cable subscribers, gaining 3.5 million subscribers from its joint aquisition of Adelphia with Comcast. Time Warner now has 14.4 million cable customers (plus 1.5 million held in partnership with Comcast).

Visit the Time Warner homepage »

 

Walt Disney Company

2006 revenues: $34.3 billion
The Walt Disney Company owns the ABC Television Network, cable networks including ESPN, the Disney Channel, SOAPnet, A&E and Lifetime, 227 radio stations, music and book publishing companies, production companies Touchstone, Miramax and Walt Disney Pictures, Pixar Animation Studios, the cellular service Disney Mobile, and theme parks around the world.

Visit the Walt Disney Company homepage »

 

News Corporation

2006 revenues: $25.3 billion
News Corporation’s media holdings include: the Fox Broadcasting Company, television and cable networks such as Fox, Fox Business Channel, National Geographic and FX, 35 television stations, print publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, TVGuide, the magazines Barron’s and SmartMoney, book publisher HarperCollins, film production companies 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures and Blue Sky Studios, numerous Web sites including MarketWatch.com, and non-media holdings including the National Rugby League.

Visit the News Corporation homepage »

 

CBS Corporation

2006 revenues: $14.3 billion
CBS Corporation owns the CBS Television Network, CBS Television Distribution Group, the CW (a joint venture with Time Warner), Showtime, book publisher Simon & Schuster, 27 television stations, and CBS Radio, Inc, which has 140 stations. CBS is now the leading supplier of video to Google’s new Video Marketplace.

Visit the CBS Corporation homepage »

 

General Electric

2006 revenues: $163.4 billion
General Electric media-related holdings include television networks NBC and Telemundo, Universal Pictures, Focus Features, 26 television stations in the United States, and cable networks MSNBC, Bravo and the Sci Fi Channel.

Visit the General Electric homepage »

 

 

Source: http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart/main

Quotes

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.” -Gandhi

"If...the machine of government... is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law." -Henry David Thoreau

“A government is the most dangerous threat to man's rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.” -Ayn Rand

The Illuminati

 

Produced by Christopher Everard-Jurquet

 

 

“This is a giant geopsychopolitical picture and things are happening with the use of subliminal indirect reverse psychological propaganda. It’s made to be confusing by the evilarchy that controls not only the United States but Britain. This Illuminati, this group who calls themselves the enlightened ones, had gained positions of power through control of the banking system.” –Anthony J. Hilder

Billions of people on planet earth are living in ignorance.  Before your very eyes, politicians are advancing a global plan. Since the time of Napoleon, secret societies have been influencing politicians to take over and conquer Europe. Now, in the 21st century, their work of ages is coming to fruition.  The New World Order is about the centralization of power. It’s about silencing any public criticism of the system. It’s about commercializing and selling everything as a product. It’s about letting China torture students and still allowing them to host the Olympics. It’s about closing down government owned schools and hospitals, turning them into apartments, and then letting private companies make profits from teaching your children or selling you drugs. The secret societies and political organizations running the New World Order use various symbols and numbers. Once you learn their secret language, you too will have the All Seeing Eye.

Please visit the official website for more information:
http://www.antichristdvd.com

 

Source: http://kaput.com/blog and http://sprword.com

October 4, 2008

Ill Kim needs a way in from the cold war

This is Peter Hitchens' Mail on Sunday column

 

Can it be a year since I was in North Korea, shamefully laying flowers at the feet of a giant image of the dead Great Leader, Kim Il Sung? Yes, it can.

I thought then, and I think now, that this bankrupt and hopeless country hasn’t got much longer to run.

The problem was and is that the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, hasn’t got anybody to surrender to. The South Koreans don’t want to pay for rebuilding the North, which would wipe out their economy. George W.

Bush, always scanning the horizon for someone to be afraid of, needs to pretend that North Korea is a terrible threat to the USA.

And Kim fears that if he just steps down, and admits that the weird godless religion of
Kim-worship is a lie, he will probably be torn to pieces by the disillusioned, half-starved mob.

Is he dead? How would anybody know? In any case, being dead is not necessarily a disadvantage in North Korean politics. His father is dead, and is still the official ruler of the nation. Is he ill? I expect so.

He has not treated his body as a temple, and North Korean elite medicine (how can I put this?) relies rather too heavily on feeding the sick person the private parts of dogs.

I am more worried about how the North Koreans are. We, and especially the US, really should make it easier for them to rejoin the world.

It is cruel and pointless to continue the pretence that they are a menace to anyone but themselves.

History of the U.S. Income Tax

 

 

 

History of the U.S. Income Tax

 

 

Compiled by Ellen Terrell

Overview

If, in the midst of sorting receipts and studying the latest changes in the US income tax laws, you suddenly wonder "What is the origin of this annual ritual in the weeks leading up to April 15th?" here are some places you can go for answers.

The origin of the income tax on individuals is generally cited as the passage of the 16th Amendment, passed by Congress on July 2, 1909, and ratified February 3, 1913; however, its history actually goes back even further. During the Civil War Congress passed the Revenue Act of 1861 which included a tax on personal incomes to help pay war expenses. The tax was repealed ten years later. However, in 1894 Congress enacted a flat rate Federal income tax, which was ruled unconstitutional the following year by the U.S. Supreme Court because it was a direct tax not apportioned according to the population of each state. The 16th amendment, ratified in 1913, removed this objection by allowing the Federal government to tax the income of individuals without regard to the population of each State. For additional information on the history of taxation in the United States, see the Fact Sheet: Taxes prepared by the U. S. Treassury on the history of the U.S. tax system.

 

Further reorganization came in the 1950s, replacing the patronage system with career employees. The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 prompted the most comprehensive reorganization and modernization of IRS in nearly half a century and established a Taxpayer Advocate Service as an independent voice inside the agency on behalf of the taxpayer.

April 15th has not always been the filing deadline. March 1st was the date specified by Congress in 1913, after the passage of the 16th amendment. In 1918 Congress pushed the date forward to March 15th, where it remained until the tax overhaul of 1954, when the date was again moved ahead to April 15th. For further information on the choice of April 15th as the filing date.

Report: The 14 Most Evil Corporations

 

 

These Profiteers are guilty of committing atrocities (war crimes, torture, toxic dumping and stifling freedom of speech) against mankind in the name of Greed.

Here’s the Lowdown on these Prophets of Profit.

Corporations carry out some of the most horrific human rights abuses of modern times, but it is increasingly difficult to hold them to account. Economic globalization and the rise of transnational corporate power have created a favorable climate for corporate human rights abusers, which are governed principally by the codes of supply and demand and show genuine loyalty only to their stockholders.

Several of the companies below are being sued under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a law that allows citizens of any nationality to sue in US federal courts for violations of international rights or treaties. When corporations act like criminals, we have the right and the power to stop them, holding leaders and multinational corporations alike to the accords they have signed. Around the world—in Venezuela, Argentina, India, and right here in the United States—citizens are stepping up to create democracy and hold corporations accountable to international law.

Caterpillar

For years, the Caterpillar Company has provided Israel with the bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes. Despite worldwide condemnation, Caterpillar has refused to end its corporate participation house demolition by cutting off sales of specially modified D9 and D10 bulldozers to the Israeli military.

In a letter to Caterpillar CEO James Owens, The Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights said: “allowing the delivery of your … bulldozers to the Israeli army … in the certain knowledge that they are being used for such action, might involve complicity or acceptance on the part of your company to actual and potential violations of human rights…”

Peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed by a Caterpillar D-9, military bulldozer in 2003. She was run over while attempting to block the destruction a family’s home in Gaza. Her family filed suit against Caterpillar in March 2005 charging that Caterpillar knowingly sold machines used to violate human rights. Since Corrie’s death at least three more Palestinians have been killed in their homes by Israeli bulldozer demolitions.

Chevron

The petrochemical company Chevron is guilty of some of the worst environmental and human rights abuses in the world. From 1964 to 1992, Texaco (which transferred operations to Chevron after being bought out in 2001) unleashed a toxic “Rainforest Chernobyl” in Ecuador by leaving over 600 unlined oil pits in pristine northern Amazon rainforest and dumping 18 billion gallons of toxic production water into rivers used for bathing water. Local communities have suffered severe health effects, including cancer, skin lesions, birth defects, and spontaneous abortions.

Chevron is also responsible for the violent repression of peaceful opposition to oil extraction. In Nigeria, Chevron has hired private military personnel to open fire on peaceful protestors who oppose oil extraction in the Niger Delta.

Additionally Chevron is responsible for widespread health problems in Richmond, California, where one of Chevron’s largest refineries is located. Processing 350,000 barrels of oil a day, the Richmond refinery produces oil flares and toxic waste in the Richmond area. As a result, local residents suffer from high rates of lupus, skin rashes, rheumatic fever, liver problems, kidney problems, tumors, cancer, asthma, and eye problems.

The Unocal Corporation, which recently became a subsidiary of Chevron, is an oil and gas company based in California with operations around the world. In December 2004, the company settled a lawsuit filed by 15 Burmese villagers, in which the villagers alleged Unocal’s complicity in a range of human rights violations in Burma, including rape, summary execution, torture, forced labor and forced migration.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola Company is perhaps the most widely recognized corporate symbol on the planet. The company also leads in the abuse of workers’ rights, assassinations, water privatization, and worker discrimination. Between 1989 and 2002, eight union leaders from Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia were killed after protesting the company’s labor practices. Hundreds of other Coca-Cola workers who have joined or considered joining the Colombian union SINALTRAINAL have been kidnapped, tortured, and detained by paramilitaries who are hired to intimidate workers to prevent them from unionizing.

In India, Coca-Cola destroys local agriculture by privatizing the country’s water resources. In Plachimada, Kerala, Coca-Cola extracted 1.5 million liters of deep well water, which they bottled and sold under the names Dasani and BonAqua. The groundwater was severely depleted, affecting thousands of communities with water shortages and destroying agricultural activity. As a result, the remaining water became contaminated with high chloride and bacteria levels, leading to scabs, eye problems, and stomach aches in the local population.

Coca-Cola is also one of the most discriminatory employers in the world. In the year 2000, 2,000 African-American employees in the U.S. sued the company for race-based disparities in pay and promotions.

Dow Chemical

Dow Chemical has been destroying lives and poisoning the planet for decades. The company is best known for the ravages and health disaster for millions of Vietnamese and U.S. Veterans caused by its lethal Vietnam War defoliant, Agent Orange. Dow also developed and perfected Napalm, a brutal chemical weapon that burned many innocents to death in Vietnam and other wars. In 1988, Dow provided pesticides to Saddam Hussein despite warnings that they could be used to produce chemical weapons.

In 2001, Dow inherited the toxic legacy of the worst peacetime chemical disaster in history when it acquired Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and its outstanding liabilities in Bhopal, India. On Dec. 3, 1984, a chemical leak from a UCC pesticide plant in Bhopal gassed thousands of people to death and left more than 150,000 disabled or dying. Dow still refuses to address its liabilities in Bhopal.

Dow Chemical’s impact is felt globally from its Midland, Michigan headquarters to New Plymouth, New Zealand. In Midland, Dow has been producing chlorinated chemicals and burning and burying its waste including chemicals that make up Agent Orange. In New Plymouth, 500,000 gallons of Agent Orange were produced and thousands of tons of dioxin-laced waste was dumped in agricultural fields.

DynCorp

Private security contractors have become the fastest-growing sector of the global economy during the last decade—a $100-billion-a-year, nearly unregulated industry. DynCorp, one of the providers of these mercenary services, demonstrates the industry’s power and potential to abuse human rights. While guarding Afghan statesmen and African oil fields, training Iraqi police forces, eradicating Colombian coca plants, and protecting business interests in hurricane-devastated New Orleans, these hired guns bolster the security of governments and organizations at the expense of many people’s human rights.

DynCorp’s fumigation of coca crops along the Colombian-Ecuadorian border led Ecuadorian peasants to sue DynCorp in 2001. Plaintiffs argued that DynCorp knew—or should have known—that the herbicides were highly toxic.

In 2001, a mechanic with DynCorp blew the whistle on DynCorp employees in Bosnia for rape and trading girls as young as 12 into sex slavery. According to a lawsuit filed by the mechanic, “employees and supervisors were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, [and] forged passports.” DynCorp fired the whistleblower and transferred the employees accused of sex trading out of the country, eventually firing some. None were prosecuted.

Ford Motor Company

Among automakers, Ford Motor Company is the worst. Every year since 1999, the US Environmental Protection Agency has ranked Ford cars, trucks and SUVs as having the worst overall fuel economy of any American automaker. Ford’s current car and truck fleet has a lower average fuel efficiency than the original Ford Model-T.

Ford is also in last place when it comes to vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. According to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ford has “the absolute worst heat-trapping gas emissions performance of all the Big Six automakers.”

Despite the company’s recent greenwashing PR campaign, its record has actually worsened. According to Ford’s own sustainability report, between 2003 and 2004, the company’s US fleet-wide fuel economy decreased and its CO2 emissions went up. Ford has also lobbied against lawmakers’ efforts to increase fuel economy standards at the national level and is also involved in a lawsuit against California’s fuel economy standards.

KBR (Kellogg, Brown and Root): A Subsidiary of Halliburton Corporation

KBR is a private company that provides military support services. Notorious for its questionable bookkeeping, dishonest billing practices with US taxpayer dollars and no-bid contracts, KBR has violated human rights on the U.S. dollar.

KBR’s dubious accounting in Iraq came to light in December 2003 when Pentagon auditors questioned possible overcharges for imported gasoline. In June 2005, a previously secret Pentagon audit criticized $1.4 billion in “questioned” and “unsupported” expenditures. In 2002 the company paid $2 million to settle a Justice Department lawsuit that accused KBR of inflating contract prices at Fort Ord, California.

Many third-country national (TCN) laborers have been hired by KBR to “rebuild” Iraq. Generally hailing from impoverished Asian countries, they have unexpectedly become part of the largest civilian workforce ever hired in support of a U.S. war. Once abroad, the workers find themselves with few protections and uncertain legal status. TCNs often sleep in crowded trailers and wait outside in scorching heat for food rations. Many lack adequate medical care and put in hard labor seven days a week, 10 hours or more a day.

Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest military contractor. Providing satellites, planes, missiles and other lethal high-tech items to the Pentagon keeps the profits rolling in. Since 2000, the year Bush was elected, the company’s stock value has tripled.

As the Center for Corporate Policy (www.corporatepolicy.org) notes, it is no coincidence that Lockheed VP Bruce Jackson—who helped draft the Republican foreign policy platform in 2000—is a key player at the Project for a New American Century, the intellectual incubator of the Iraq war.

Lockheed Martin is not the only defense contractor that goes behind the scenes to influence public policy, but it is one of the worst. Stephen J. Hadley, who now has Condoleeza Rice’s old job as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, was formerly a partner in a DC law firm representing Lockheed Martin. He is only one of the beneficiaries of the so-called revolving door between the military industries and the “civilian” national security apparatus. These war profiteers have a profound and illegitimate influence on our country’s international policy decisions.

Monsanto

Monsanto is, by far, the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds in the world, dominating 70% to 100% of the market for crops such as soy, cotton, wheat and corn.

Monsanto is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as Roundup. Roundup is sold to small farmers as a pesticide, yet harms crops in the long run as the toxins accumulate in the soil. Plants eventually become infertile, forcing farmers to purchase genetically modified Roundup Ready Seed, a seed that resists the herbicide. This creates a cycle of dependency on Monsanto for both the weed killer and the only seed that can resist it. Both products are patented, and sold at inflated prices. Exposure to the pesticide is documented to cause cancers, skin disorders, spontaneous abortions, premature births, and damage to the gastrointestinal and nervous systems.

According to the India Committee of the Netherlands and the International Labor Rights Fund, Monsanto also employs child labor. In India, an estimated 12,375 children work in cottonseed production for farmers paid by Indian and multinational seed companies, including Monsanto.

Nestle USA

The problem of illegal and forced child labor is rampant in the chocolate industry, because more than 40% of the world’s cocoa supply comes from the Ivory Coast, a country that the US State Department estimates had approximately 109,000 child laborers working in hazardous conditions on cocoa farms. In 2001, Save the Children Canada reported that 15,000 children between 9 and 12 years old, many from impoverished Mali, had been tricked or sold into slavery on West African cocoa farms, many for just $30 each.

Nestle, the third largest buyer of cocoa from the Ivory Coast, is well aware of the tragically unjust labor practices taking place on the farms with which it continues to do business. Nestle and other chocolate manufacturers agreed to end the use of abusive and forced child labor on cocoa farms by July 1, 2005, but they failed to do so.

Nestle is also notorious for its aggressive marketing of infant formula in poor countries in the 1980s. Because of this practice, Nestle is still one of the most boycotted corporations in the world, and its infant formula is still controversial. In Italy in 2005, police seized more than two million liters of Nestle infant formula that was contaminated with the chemical isopropylthioxanthone (ITX).

Additionally, violations of labor rights are reported from Nestle factories in numerous countries. In Colombia, Nestle replaced the entire factory staff with lower-wage workers and did not renew the collective employment contract.

Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International (a.k.a. The Altria Group Inc.)

Among tobacco companies, Philip Morris is notorious. Now called Altria, it is the world’s largest and most profitable cigarette corporation and maker of Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Parliament, Basic and many other brands of cigarettes.

Documents uncovered in a lawsuit filed against the tobacco industry by the state of Minnesota showed that Philip Morris and other leading tobacco corporations knew very well of the dangers of tobacco products and the addictiveness of nicotine. To this day, Philip Morris deceives consumers about the harm of its products by offering light, mild and low-tar cigarettes that give consumers the illusion these brands are “healthier” than traditional cigarettes.

Although the company says it doesn’t want kids to smoke, it spends millions of dollars every day marketing and promoting cigarettes to youth. Overseas, it has even hired underage “Marlboro girls” to distribute free cigarettes to other children and sponsored concerts where cigarettes were handed out to minors.

As anti-tobacco campaigns and government regulations are slowing tobacco use in Western countries, Philip Morris has aggressively moved into developing country markets, where smoking and smoking-related deaths are on the rise. Preliminary numbers released by the World Health Organization predict global deaths due to smoking-related illnesses will nearly double by 2020, with more than three-quarters of those deaths in the developing world.

Pfizer

Pfizer is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world; it is also one of the worst abusers of the human right of universal access to HIV/AIDS medicine.

In addition to Viagra, Zoloft, Zithromax and Norvasc, Pfizer produces the drug fluconazole (an antifungal used by AIDS patients) under the name Diflucan, and sells it at inflated prices most poor people cannot afford. The company refuses to grant generic licenses of fluconazole to governments in countries like Brazil, South Africa, or Dominican Republic, where patients are forced to pay $20 per weekly pill, though the average national wage is only $120 per month.

Pfizer also values shareholder profits over safety standards. In Europe in 2005, it withdrew from scientific studies of a new class of AIDS drugs called CCR5 inhibitors, choosing instead to rush its own untested CCR5 inhibitor onto the European market without full information about the drug’s side effects.

Suez-Lyonnaise Des Eaux (SLDE)

The privatization of water has had a disastrous impact on the human right to clean water, and the French company Suez is the worst perpetrator of this abuse. The company’s billions of dollars in profit come at the expense of poor people living in countries where thousands lack access to potable water, and, because of private water contracts, are also facing skyrocketing water prices.

Suez goes by many names around the world—Ondeo, SITA and others—to mask its worldwide net of controversial activities. In Manila, Philippines, after seven years of water privatization under a Suez company (Maynilad Water) contract, studies showed that water rates increased in some neighborhoods by 400 to 700 percent. These studies also showed that the negligence of the company resulted in cholera and gastroenteritis outbreaks that killed six people and severely sickened 725 in Manila’s Tondo district.

In Bolivia, a Suez company (Aguas de Illimani) left 200,000 people without access to water and caused a revolt when it tried to charge between $335 and $445 to connect a private home to the water supply. Countless people were unable to afford this charge in a country whose yearly per capita GDP is $915.

Unfortunately, the IMF and World Bank are playing a key role in pushing water privatization all over the world. Many countries have been required to open up their water supply to private companies as a condition for receiving IMF loans, and the World Bank has approved millions of dollars in loans for the privatization of water systems.

Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart is the biggest corporation in the world. It owns 5,100 stores worldwide and employs 1.3 million workers in the United States and 400,000 abroad, as well as millions more in the factories of its suppliers.

Many people have heard of the way that Wal-Mart steamrolls its way into every possible town, destroying local supermarkets and countless small businesses. We have also heard about Wal-Mart’s long track record of worker abuse, from forced overtime to sex discrimination to illegal child labor to relentless union busting. Wal-Mart also notoriously fails to provide health insurance to over half of its employees, who are then left to rely on themselves or taxpayers, who provide for a portion of their healthcare needs through government Medicaid.

Less well known is the fact that Wal-Mart maintains its low price level by allowing substandard labor conditions at the overseas factories producing most of its goods. The company continually demands lower prices from its suppliers, who, in turn, make more outrageous and abusive demands on their workers in order to meet Wal-Mart’s requirements.

In September 2005, the International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit on behalf of Wal-Mart supplier sweatshop workers in China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nicaragua and Swaziland. The workers were denied minimum wages, forced to work overtime without compensation, and were denied legally mandated health care. Other worker rights violations that have been found in foreign factories that produce goods for Wal-Mart include locked bathrooms, starvation wages, pregnancy tests, denial of access to health care, and workers being fired and blacklisted if they try to defend their rights.

Visit Global Exchange to read the full report of the Most Wanted Corporate Human Rights Violators of 2005, and find out how to connect with groups that are doing something about corporate abuses.

Posted on Alternet by A Global Exchange Report

Halliburton Moves to Dubai

C-SPAN Testimony: Halliburton KBR Rape Coverup

Halliburton KBR Rape Coverup Testimony
Jamie Leigh Jones
Tammy Baldwin
Anthony Weiner

George Carlin - The Owners of This Country

George Carlin speaks the truth

George Carlin - The American Dream

George Carlin speaks the truth

Why The News Media Lies - And How We Can Stop It

"The only security of all is in a free press. The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure."

~Thomas Jefferson

Corporations vs The People - Fighting Corporate Rule (1/2)

Currently we are in a situation where out of control corporate power and influence is controlling our government. As American's we know it is our inalienable right to have proper representation and due influence on our elected representatives. Corporations have no such right at all. It is the true citizens that make this nation, not the moneyed corporations that fuel the corrupt politician's coffers.

This video about educating people about the true role of corporate powers, we are not subservient to them, their charter is in fact a privilege granted by the people to conduct a common good. They are the servants, the people are the masters.

After you watch my video please take a look at these essential links:

Economy in Crisis:

http://www.economyincrisis.org/

Reclaim Democracy:

http://reclaimdemocracy.org/

Corporations vs The People - Fighting Corporate Rule (2/2)

Currently we are in a situation where out of control corporate power and influence is controlling our government. As American's we know it is our inalienable right to have proper representation and due influence on our elected representatives. Corporations have no such right at all. It is the true citizens that make this nation, not the moneyed corporations that fuel the corrupt politician's coffers.

This video about educating people about the true role of corporate powers, we are not subservient to them, their charter is in fact a privilege granted by the people to conduct a common good. They are the servants, the people are the masters.

After you watch my video please take a look at these essential links:

Economy in Crisis:

http://www.economyincrisis.org/

Reclaim Democracy:

http://reclaimdemocracy.org/

October 1, 2008

An interesting diversified global financial services company

 

UBS AG

UBS AG

 

UBS AG (NYSE: UBS; SWX: UBSN; TYO: 8657) is a diversified global financial services company, with its main headquarters in Basel & Z├╝rich, Switzerland. It is the world's largest manager of private wealth assets, "the world's biggest manager of other people's money"[1] and is also the second-largest bank in Europe, by both market capitalisation and profitability. UBS has a major presence in the U.S., with its American headquarters located in New York City's Manhattan borough, (Investment Banking); Weehawken, New Jersey (Private Wealth); and Stamford, Connecticut (Capital Markets). UBS's retail offices are located throughout the United States, and in over 50 other countries. UBS is an abbreviation, which originated from a predecessor firm, the Union Bank of Switzerland, however UBS ceased to be considered a representational abbreviation after its 1998 merger with Swiss Bank Corporation.[2]

UBS's global business groups are Private Banking, Investment Banking, and Asset Management. Additionally, UBS is one of the leading providers of retail banking and commercial banking services in Switzerland. Overall invested assets are 3.265 trillion Swiss francs (CHF), shareholders' equity is 47.850 billion CHF and market capitalization is 151.203 billion CHF by end of 2Q 2007.

The AG in the company's name means Aktiengesellschaft, which is the equivalent to a shareholder-based corporation in the USA.

In some ways, UBS has evolved on a similar path to its cross-town rival Credit Suisse. Both are Swiss commercial and retail banks which bought major US investment banks (and in the case of UBS, a leading retail stock broker, PaineWebber).

__________________________________________________________

Controversies

  • In January 1997, Christoph Meili, a night watchman at the Union Bank of Switzerland (as UBS was then known), found the bank historian destroying archives compiled by a subsidiary that had extensive dealings with Nazi Germany, in direct violation of a recent Swiss law (adopted on December 13, 1996) protecting such material. UBS acknowledged that it had "made a deplorable mistake", but maintained that the destroyed archives were unrelated to the Holocaust. Meili was suspended from his job at the security company that served UBS, following a criminal investigation into whether his whistleblowing had violated bank secrecy laws.[7]
  • In 2001, UBS was blamed for refusing to extend Swissair's line of credit, forcing a grounding of Swissair's planes on October 2, 2001. UBS Chairman Marcel Ospel was blamed by many for ostensibly evading the request for an extension of Swissair's line of credit, and the day after the grounding, thousands of demonstrators marching in front of the Swissair headquarters carried a banner reading "Bin Ospel" (comparing him to Osama bin Laden because of the effect of his actions on airlines' business).[8]
  • In April 2002, Bank of America sued five people who left its asset- and mortgage-backed securities groups for UBS, alleging that the five conspired to steal trade secrets, proprietary software and clients from Bank of America. Bank of America filed a lawsuit for US$ 20 million against Shahid Quraishi, Peter Faigl, Paul Scialabba, Reggie DeVilliers and Daniel Huang, who had previously worked for their asset-backed group based in Charlotte.[9]
  • On March 20, 2003 UBS client, HealthSouth and its founder/CEO Richard M. Scrushy were accused by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of an accounting scandal where the company's earnings were falsely inflated by $1.4 billion. In 1996, Scrushy allegedly instructed the company's senior officers and accountants to falsify company earnings reports in order to meet investor expectations and control the price of the company's stock. In certain fiscal years, the company's income was overstated by as much as 4700 percent. The $1.4 billion represents more than 10 percent of the company's total assets. Three senior bankers at UBS Howard Capek, Benjamin Lorello and William McGahan, all whom had extremely close relationships with HealthSouth's management, all testified for congressional hearings, but none was convicted of any wrongdoing. McGahan, who was in jeopardy of losing his employment with the firm at the height of the scandal [10], later resigned on April 10, 2004 for personal reasons not related to the scandal. [11]
  • On May 10, 2004 UBS was fined $100 million by the U.S.Federal Reserve for illegally transferring funds from an account set up by the Federal Reserve at UBS to Iran, Cuba and other countries presently under a U.S. trade embargo. [12]
  • In April 2005, UBS lost the high profile case Zubulake v. UBS Warburg, a discrimination and retaliation suit. The plaintiff Laura Zubulake, a former institutional equities saleswoman at the company's Stamford office, alleged her manager, Matthew Chapin, had undermined and removed her from professional responsibilities, excluded her from business outings, belittled her to colleagues and generally treated her different from the men on her desk. Also, she alleged that there were several sexist policies in place, such as entertaining clients at strip clubs, that made it difficult for women to foster business contacts with clients.[13] An important event in the case was that UBS had not preserved relevant e-mails after the litigation hold had been in place. Because of this, federal judge Shira Scheindlin gave the jury a final "adverse inference" instruction, in part stating, "The fact that some UBS employees failed to preserve their e-mails after being instructed to do so, and that such e-mails cannot now be produced, is sufficient circumstantial evidence from which you are permitted, but not required, to conclude that the missing evidence was unfavorable to UBS.". The jury found in favor of Zubulake on both claims and awarded $9.1 million in compensatory damages (including back pay and professional damage), and $20.2 million in punitive damages. The case was seen as a landmark in the realms of e-discovery, document retention, computer forensics, and human resources.[14] [15]
  • The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) alleged that UBS had played a role in the 2004 Black Monday stock market crash which followed the National Democratic Alliance government’s defeat in the general elections. SEBI's ruling of May 17, 2005 barred UBS from issuing or renewing participatory notes for a period of one year.The ban was later lifted on appeal, as a result of a government tribunal ruling on September 9, 2005.
  • On October 18, 2005, three African-American employees filed a class action lawsuit against the company in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York alleging racial discrimination in hiring, promotion and other employment practices. The three plaintiffs in Freddie H. Cook, Sylvester L. Flaming Jr. and Timothy J. Gandy v. UBS Financial Services, Inc., claim that segregation and discrimination in job assignments and compensation were widespread and the firm had done nothing to diversify its workforce. The lawsuit also claims offices operating in Largo, Maryland and Flushing, New York were illegally created to serve African-Americans and Asian-Americans respectively, and that the firm’s management frequently ridiculed the Largo branch office and its staff, referring to it as a “diversity” office. On April 23, 2007, U.S. District Judge, Peter J. Messitte, granted plaintiff's request to dismiss the class allegations without prejudice. As a result of this dismissal, the case now comprises the individual claims of three plaintiffs. [16][17]
  • In an article published by Reuters on Feb 23, 2008, Brazilian public prosecutor Karen Kahn announced that several employees of UBS as well as others from Credit Suisse, Clariden Leu and AIG were under investigation by federal authorities.[18] In 2007, police arrested 20 people, including bankers at UBS, Credit Suisse unit Clariden and AIG Private Bank after the discovery of illegal activities including money laundering, tax evasion, fraudulent banking and operating without a banking license.[19]
  • In an article published in BusinessWeek on February 26, 2007, it was announced that the firm was under investigation by federal prosecutors in the United States after it was discovered that traders working for at least two unidentified hedge funds were paying a UBS employee for information on impending ratings changes on stocks.[3] It was later announced on March 1st, that Mitchel S.Guttenberg, an executive director in the firm's equity research department, was being charged along with 13 other individuals from various firms with insider-trading fraud of more than $15 million. [20]
  • During the third quarter of 2007. Peter Wuffli stepped down as CEO of the firm amid significant writedowns related to subprime banking exposure (CDO's/derivatives) in the United States. More than US$13 billion in mezzanine debt and more than US$20 billion in total subprime exposure were written off, forcing UBS to cut its dividend or increase capital in order to protect UBS's traditionally high tier 1 capital ratio, seen by investors as a key to its credibility as the world's largest wealth management company.
  • On April 1st, 2008 UBS announced—and it was writing down a further $19 billion on its investments in American subprime and other mortgages, as part of an unexpected SFr12 billion projected loss in the first quarter. The Swiss bank also said it would call on its shareholders to supply SFr15 billion in additional funds to shore up its depleted reserves of capital. That means shareholders face dilution, and UBS's sovereign-wealth backers may add to the potential losses (albeit paper ones) they have suffered since December. In penance, Marcel Ospel, architect of the merger that created UBS in 1998, said he would step down as chairman, to be replaced by Peter Kurer, the bank’s general counsel. With only 86% approval this appointment was controversial at the shareholders meeting. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, there were many "boos and hisses" upon the announcement of Kurer's appointment
  • On May 6th, 2008 UBS announced plans to cut 5,500 jobs by the middle of the next year.[21]
  • It was reported on June 22, 2008 that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation had made a formal request to travel to Switzerland to probe a multi-million-dollar tax evasion case involving UBS.[22] The New York Times reported that the case could involve some 20,000 US citizens. This is reported to be a consequence of information revealed in 2006 by a UBS client at risk of prosecution for US tax evasion[23].
  • On July 17, 2008 the US Senate disclosed that the U.S. loses around $100 billion annually due to offshore tax evasion.[24] The Senate report accused Swiss bank UBS AG and Liechtenstein's LGT Group for allegedly marketing tax-evasion strategies to wealthy Americans.[25] U.S. clients hold about 19,000 accounts at UBS, with an estimated $18 billion to $20 billion in assets, in Switzerland, according to the findings from the Senate probe and Justice Department prosecutors.[26]

Source: Wikipedia