The growing tide of tar sands resistance—seen in blockades, tree sits, petitions, education efforts and calls to divest—is having a measurable negative impact on the bottom line of the tar sands industry, according to a new report, prompting researchers to declare that “business as usual for tar sands is over.” Published Wednesday by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis and Oil Change International, the report, Material Risks: How Public Accountability Is Slowing Tar Sands Development (pdf), finds that tar sands production revenues were down about $30.9 billion from 2010 through 2013. And according to the report, more than half of that lost revenue, roughly $17 billion, can be attributed to the fierce grassroots campaigns that have sprung up throughout North America in the past few years.
In August, the Justice Department announced a $16.65 billion settlement with Bank of America over the fraudulent sale of mortgage-backed securities (in reality, the cost to the bank is significantly lower). But two months later, one small part of the settlement has not been finalized in federal court: a $135.84 million cash distribution to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The reason for the holdup could raise the stakes for financial institutions that commit fraud, and over time stabilize the system as a whole, simply because two SEC commissioners have dared to try to maintain the consequences for misconduct. Under current SEC rules, financial firms that settle fraud investigations automatically incur a number of additional penalties. Many of these mandatory actions date back to the creation of the SEC during the Great Depression. The SEC can ban institutions from managing mutual funds, prevent them from working with private companies to find investors, and force SEC approval for any stocks or bonds that the firm issues on its own behalf. These penalties and disqualifications cut into profits, and in many ways can be as damaging as the settlements themselves.
Sainath is pessimistic about India’s new government, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with its combination of neoliberal economics and rightwing nationalism. He predicts that it will gut the social programs that the previous center-left government put into place, such as a rural job program that provides employment to a member of each rural family for 100 days a year. “The upper class, industry, and landlords hate the scheme, since it provides a floor wage,” he said. “Joseph Stiglitz [the Nobel Prize-winning economist] recently told me that Modi can’t hope to expand the economy while at the same time lowering wages.” Sainath says Modi intends to “reform” the financial sector, which would open up India to the very calamity that took down Wall Street.
Leaks on the secret trade agreement, the TPP, are worrying social organizations that deal with health issues in Peru. They predict that the adoption of such a treaty will result in many deaths. On Monday, after the release of new information by Wikileaks, social organizations defending the interests of health patients have spoken out against the TPP. Representatives from the Peruvian Network for Patients and Users claim the treaty will allow for pharmaceutical companies to dominate the use of a drug for decades. The Trans Pacific-Partnership agreement (TPP) is a free trade agreement that is being negotiated in secret by 12 countries including Peru. One of the most controversial aspects of the treaty is the one that protects medicine patents, benefiting the interests of large pharmaceutical companies.
Seven years ago we first covered the Magic Box That Does Everything, the Ecos LifeLink. I titled the post It Generates. It Internets. It Cools and Refreshes. And now, apparently, It Exists. It doesn’t appear to cool and refresh with the water purification anymore, but it does still generate and internet, with up to 15 Kilowatts of power. Director and intellectual property strategist Dean Becker gushes in a press release: This innovative patented solar technology has the potential to be one of the most important solar patented innovations of our generation. Did I mention it is patented? Indeed, it is covered by US patent US 8593102. I looked it up to try and figure out what was in fact patentable in covering a shipping container with solar panels and filling it with batteries and routers; it seems pretty obvious to me. And indeed, inventor Dennis McGuire notes in the application that “there exist a multitude of mobile and portable power stations that supply electricity to field hospitals, emergency aid units, and water filtration systems.”
Shares in Sodastream, the Israeli maker of fizzy drink machines, crashed in pre-market trading after the company reported dismal preliminary earnings for the third quarter. Sodastream said it expects revenue of $125 million for the quarter ending 30 September citing “weak demand” from US consumers looking for healthier alternatives. Analysts expected revenue in the region of $154.4 million. The stock fell as much as 16 per cent to $23.15. The company has lost almost half of its market value this year after reporting two consecutive quarters of losses. SodaStream is battling a shift in consumer trends in the US, its biggest market, with customers looking for healthier products with fewer calories.
The Top Ten examples are taken from Public Citzen’s new report, “Myths and Omissions: Unpacking Obama Administration Defenses of Investor-State Corporate Privileges” [PDF]. I’m not focusing on the Obama administration’s defenses because anybody who’s been paying attention knows they’ll be bullshit anyhow; I think propagating the crazypants pernicious examples will be more effective as polemic. I’m also not going into the resolution of the cases; as anybody who’s every encountered a SLAPP suit knows, even bringing a suit that’s totally without merit can intimidate, if the player bringing the suit has deep pockets. And who has deeper pockets than international investors? So herewith, the list. Readers, regretfully I haven’t been able to rank them, because they are pernicious in so many dimensions at once. If you want to pick the worst, and the second-worst, then have at it!
Today is the anniversary of the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC. The roots of the Popular Resistance project come from that occupation and was developed with the advice of many people involved in that effort, as well as allied campaigns around the country. We began the occupation on this date in order to link the Afghanistan War with the austerity budget that was announced that week. The reality of a two-party plutocracy that linked the Wall Street and Empire economy. While we began organizing long before the Occupation of Wall Street began by the time we began there were hundreds of occupy encampments around the country. OWS began on September 17th and sparked a national revolt that continues to have a political and cultural impact today.
The U.S. military operations targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria have already cost taxpayers between $780 and $930 million, according to an analysis by an independent think tank. The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments issued a new report Monday assessing how much the military campaign has already cost (through Sept. 24) and how much more will likely be spent in the coming months. CSBA estimates that if the current pace of operations continues, the United States could spend between $200 and $320 million a month, in a conservative estimate assuming a “moderate level of air operations and 2,000 deployed ground forces.”
Although various organizations and movements work on different facets of social change and have different beliefs and methods, there’s a lot of common ground including a desire for a healthy environment, thriving communities, equitable distribution of wealth, sustainable lifestyles, and strong democracies. There’s a largely unacknowledged shared vision among groups, but there’s not yet an overarching movement that unifies them all into a cohesive group. The Community Resilience and New Economy Movement (CRNE) aims to change that, at least in North America. For the report “Weaving the Community Resilience and New Economy Movement: Voices and Reflections from the Field,” presented by the Post Carbon Institute, CRNE researchers interviewed dozens of leaders within the new economy, environmental, social justice, labor, democracy and indigenous rights movements to find the places that they interconnect.
Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, sits down with Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acronym TV on the eve of the largest Climate march in history to discuss the climate justice. “”If you care about the planet, you care about people, workers, immigrants, and you care about whether we are destroying the planet whether by polluting or by polluting through war, says Benjamin, who went on to describe the founding of Code Pink as a climate Justice group. “We started as a group of women who came together around the environment. We were called Unreasonable Women for the planet.” Benjamin and Code Pink have regularly disrupted Senate hearings on ISIS/ ISIL of late, but being part of the People’s Climate March is not something she would miss: “It is all interconnected,” she told me “and I don’t think we have the ability anymore to divide ourselves into these (separate) silos.”
The richest 1% own the two major parties. It’s time working people had one of our own. That’s why I’m running for Governor. My name is Howie Hawkins. I’m a working Teamster and my running mate, Brian Jones, is a teacher and union member. New York has the greatest income inequality in the country — and it has gotten worse under Governor Cuomo’s tax breaks for the rich and spending cuts for the rest of us. Our schools are the most segregated in the nation. Poverty is on the rise in cities across the state. It doesn’t have to be this way. We can create an economy that meets human needs and protects our planet. (read more: http://www.howiehawkins.org/)
A day before the People’s Climate March drove 400,000 people into the streets of New York City, Jill Stein sat down with Dennis Trainor, Jr of Acronym TV and outlined what she sees as the coming green revolution. “The U.N. has sold us out,” says Stein “The UN has become the apologists for false solutions (like) nuclear power, fracking, and so-called clean coal,” says Stein. “The U.N. has sold us out, and it is really important that we take a new direction, with a very clear goal (…) one which puts people, planet and peace over profit.”
Why would the university award aid in this way? Couldn’t it just adjust the ratio of merit aid to need-based aid? Unfortunately, the “high tuition/high aid” model only “works” when it’s organized like this. That’s because, for many university administrators, financial aid is not so much a form of charity as it is an instrument for maximizing tuition revenue. If that seems hard to believe, consider a recent article published in Forbes magazine about a new trend in the field of higher education finances: “financial aid leveraging.” While in the past university executives thought of financial aid strictly as an expense, as public universities search for new sources of revenue they have begun to see it as a way of boosting not only the university’s prestige but also its tuition revenue.
The health of our planet depends on our ability to make big changes in our economy. These changes include moving beyond fossil fuels and building local green economies. However, our current model of free trade, which is written into agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and free trade pacts like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), threatens nearly every aspect of this much-needed economic transition. And yet, the U.S. is currently negotiating massive new free trade pacts, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 Pacific Rim nations and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union. These deals would severely restrict the ability of governments to restructure our economy and address the climate crisis.