On Criminalizing Homelessness and Feeding the Hungry, the State Is Indeed the Bad Guy
by Claire S Bernish
Posted March 13, 2018
Atlanta and other cities have added to obstacles between houseless people and those who would provide them nourishment, predicating any immediate assistance on their entrée into the impoverishment assistance complex — while simultaneously frustrating activists and advocates with a deluge of impossible red tape making the act of sharing food a laborious chore for those attempting to work within its confines.
The Nation painted a more appropriately dismal if albeit embarrassing picture on the status of feeding houseless people — nearly three years ago, in February 2015 — reporting,
“According to a survey of more than 180 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, anti-homeless laws pervade urban spaces nationwide. Roughly a third of cities barred public ‘camping,’ for example, up 60 percent since 2011. Restrictions range from prohibiting sitting on sidewalks to imposing steep fees or regulations that effectively criminalize actions of charity groups, often using antiseptic ‘quality of life’ terms (a tent pitched under a bridge becomes an unauthorized ‘camp’). Palo Alto has banned sleeping in parked cars. Mobile has imposed zero-tolerance on ‘aggressive panhandling,’ which could involve just ‘request[ing] a donation from a person standing in line…no matter how mildly the request was made.’ Last year, ThinkProgress reported, Fort Lauderdale authorized police to bust people who ‘store possessions’ on public property — suggesting that homeless people don’t deserve to have what little they carry with them, let alone ‘quality of life.’” More…
There are more vacant foreclosed homes than there are homeless. Evidence of the abject failure of capitalism.
42 People Own the Same Wealth as the Bottom 3.7 Billion, Says Report
by Amanda Froelich
Posted March 12, 2018
Repeat after me: “I am free.” Now, say it again with conviction. Can you? Probably not. This is because the world we collectively share is anything but fair, and this is largely due to an imbalanced distribution of wealth. If you are doubtful, perhaps a new report by Oxfam will convince you. In their recent report, entitled “Reward Work, Not Wealth“, the non-profit organization reveals that 82 percent of the wealth created in 2017 “went to the richest one percent.”
According to the report, 2017 “saw the biggest increase in the number of billionaires in history.” 42 people now “own the same wealth as the bottom 3.7 billion people,” says the report. The trend is nothing new, but is becoming more noticeable as “the richest one percent continue to own more wealth than the whole of the rest of humanity.” More…
Stopping the Big Money Takeover of US Elections and Government
By Jeff Clements
Posted March 11, 2018
“A prescription for disaster.” That’s how opponents described a 2017 Ohio ballot initiative in their television ads, claiming the law would increase the cost of prescription drugs, when in fact the law was intended to decrease drug prices. What the ads didn’t say is that they were financed by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, an association of for-profit pharmaceutical companies that spent more than $58 million — more than three-and-a-half times the spending of the proponents of the initiative — to defeat the citizen initiative designed to lower the price of prescription drugs.
The corporate-funded defeat of the Ohio initiative is part of a pattern. According to a report from Public Citizen, corporations spend hundreds of millions of dollars in state ballot initiatives and usually win by spending 33 times more than the opposition, on average. This kind of domination of corporate money is not “free speech,” as the Supreme Court maintains in decisions such as Citizen United v. FEC; it is corporate power run amok. More…
Thought Police for the 21st Century
by Chris Hedges
Posted March 10, 2018
The abolition of net neutrality and the use of algorithms by Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to divert readers and viewers from progressive, left-wing and anti-war sites, along with demonizing as foreign agents the journalists who expose the crimes of corporate capitalism and imperialism, have given the corporate state the power to destroy freedom of speech. Any state that accrues this kind of power will use it.
While the Internet has brought about a revolution in people’s ability to educate themselves and others, the resulting democratic phenomena has shaken existing establishments to their core. Google, Facebook and their Chinese equivalents, who are socially, logistically and financially integrated with existing elites, have moved to re-establish discourse control. This is not simply a corrective action. Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity. While still in its infancy, the trends are clear and of a geometric nature. The phenomena differs in traditional attempts to shape cultural and political phenomena by operating at scale, speed and increasingly at a subtlety that eclipses human capacities. More…
New documents reveal FBI paid Geek Squad repair staff as informants
By Zack Whittaker
Posted March 9, 2018
The relationship between the FBI and employees of Best Buy’s computer and device repair unit Geek Squad is more complex than first thought, according to newly released documents.
Records posted Tuesday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation following a freedom of information lawsuit filed last year reveal that federal agents would pay Geek Squad managers who pass on information about illegal materials on devices sent in by customers for repairs.
The relationship goes back at least ten years, according to documents released as a result of the lawsuit.
The aim of the FBI’s Louisville division was to maintain a “close liaison” with Geek Squad management to “glean case initiations and to support the division’s Computer Intrusion and Cyber Crime programs,” the documents say. More…
The Opioid Epidemic in America – Killing One Million Workers: The Triumph of Capital
By Prof. James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya
Posted March 9, 2018
Official government studies estimate almost 700,000 deaths since 1999, based on the scattered and incomplete coroner reports and death certificates that characterize the state of vital statistics in the US. There is no uniformity in data collection and no interest in developing a uniform national system on which to formulate social policies. Most likely additional hundreds of thousands of drug deaths have gone un-recorded or attributed to ‘pre-existing’ medical conditions, suicides and accidents – despite clear evidence of over-prescription of narcotics and sedatives in the victims.
The ‘drug epidemic’ in the US is all about the current structure of power and social relations in an increasingly oligarchic state amidst growing class inequalities and immiseration. At its roots, American capitalism in the 21st Century has degraded, impoverished and exploited US workers and employees with increasing intensity over the past two decades. Workers have lost almost all collective influence in the workplace and in politics. Working conditions and safety have deteriorated – while capitalists hire and fire at will. Salaries, pensions, health care and death benefits have been slashed or disappeared. More…
How Uncle Sam Launders Marijuana Money
By Ellen Brown
Posted March 8, 2018
In a blatant example of “do as I say, not as I do,” the US government is profiting handsomely by accepting marijuana cash in the payment of taxes while imposing huge penalties on banks for accepting it as deposits. Onerous reporting requirements are driving small local banks to sell out to Wall Street. Congress needs to harmonize federal with state law.
One small banker complained that banks have been turned into spies secretly reporting to the federal government. If they fail to comply, they can face stiff enforcement actions, whether or not actual money-laundering crimes are alleged. In 2010, one small New Jersey bank pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act and was fined $5 million for failure to file suspicious-activity and cash-transaction reports. Another small New Jersey bank closed its doors after it was hit with $8 million in fines over its inadequate monitoring policies. The cost of compliance and threat of massive fines for not complying have been major factors in the collapse of the community banking sector. The number of community banks has fallen by 40 percent since 1994 and their share of U.S. banking assets has fallen by more than half, from 41 percent to 18 percent. More…
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