Fish are not decorations or toys. They have cognitive skills that rival those of primates, use tools, maintain complex social relationships, and communicate with each other using low-frequency sounds that humans can't even hear. Confining fish to a cramped tank or bowl, forcing them to swim in endless circles through the same few cubic inches of (often filthy) water, is just as cruel as chaining or crating a dog 24 hours a day.
...surprise, insurers don't like being told what to do by regulators. So they're pushing back hard. Consumer advocates who have been in meetings at the White House in recent weeks say they believe the administration is bending over backward to accommodate the insurers.
Nothing shows the unholy tilt of the fringe right into the mainstream more than the growing influence of David Barton, right-wing GOP activist, minister, historian and guiding spirit to aspiring presidential souls from Gingrich to Huckabee. Using his for-profit evangelical WallBuilders as a springboard, Barton makes 400 speeches a year proclaiming that Thomas Jefferson didn't really believe in separating church and state, the Bible proves God hates socialism, and we can save ourselves if we "rebuild our nation's godly heritage" - and we all know whose god he means. Is anything as scary as fervent certitude based on half-truths? May all the gods save us all.
The state-corporate war [carried out by Republicans in the USA] against unions has recently extended to the public sector, with legislation to ban collective bargaining and other elementary rights. Even in pro-labor Massachusetts, the House of Representatives voted right before May Day to sharply restrict the rights of police officers, teachers, and other municipal employees to bargain over health care – essential matters in the U.S., with its dysfunctional and highly inefficient privatized health-care system.
The rest of the world may associate May 1 to the struggle of American workers for basic rights but in the U.S. that solidarity is suppressed in favor of a jingoist holiday. May 1 is "Loyalty Day," designated by Congress in 1958 for "the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom."
So what does an early spring mean? Although its appearance may make a welcome sight at the end of winter, premature spring can seriously disrupt an ecosystem. Early blooming flowers can be damaged by subsequent cold snaps, which means that the plant produces fewer seeds. And when an animal reacts to shifts in spring differently than its food source, that animal can be harmed. For example, in Europe, unusually warm springs are causing caterpillars to emerge too early. This, in turn, means that the caterpillars transform into moths before some species of birds return from their winter migration, and then those birds struggle to feed their newborn chicks.
Federal officials are reducing the area they have set aside for developers to build offshore wind farms in rich fishing grounds about 14 miles off Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement had originally set aside a 2,900 square mile-area for commercial wind energy leasing. The region has strong winds and is close to heavily populated coastal areas with high demand for power...
But the agency said on Monday that feedback from Massachusetts commercial fishermen, Gov. Deval Patrick’s office and the congressional delegation convinced it to reduce the area under consideration.
"It's unlikely that the U.S. is going to take serious action on climate change until there are observable, dramatic events, almost catastrophic in nature, that drive public opinion and drive the political process in that direction," Stavins, director of Harvard’s Environmental Economics Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, said today in an interview in Bloomberg’s Boston office.
U.S. concern about climate change has declined in recent years, according to polls. Americans who agree the Earth is warming because of man-made activity dropped to 34 percent in October, from 50 percent in July 2006, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.
Almost four dozen lawmakers who have questioned global warming were elected to Congress in November’s midterm elections. [all republicans]
“Private prison companies have one goal, and that’s to maximize profits,” said Ken Kopczynski, Executive Director of the Private Corrections Working Group. “States considering privatization should be clear about the problems associated with these corporate facilities—high rates of violence, high staff turnover, lax security, and routine mismanagement. We should be securing our prisons, not selling them off to the highest bidder.”
Obama Administration Plans Corporate Tax Cut In Year Of Record Profits
by Allison Kilkenny
Published on Thursday, May 5, 2011 by The Nation
As nationwide budget protests continue this week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is prepared to unveil the Obama administration’s plan to lower the top corporate tax rate from the current 35 percent to less than 30 percent, and as low as 26 percent.
In order to pay for the cuts, the proposal calls for closing loopholes and slashing exemptions. Politico reports that Geithner has already begun meeting privately with CEOs, academics, labor unions, and liberal and conservative think tanks, and his aides say he is “encouraged by the response.”
Part of that optimism stems from the fact that Democrats and Republicans are both allies of the business world.
One top business lobbyist, speaking on condition of anonymity, said corporate tax reform should be “the easiest piece” of a complex fiscal bargain “because you have people in both parties in the business community.”
Meanwhile, the number of people who filed new applications for jobless benefits leaped 43,000 last week to 474,000, the highest level in almost nine months.
The surge in unemployment comes at a time when U.S. corporations are more profitable than ever. The end of 2010 saw some of the biggest gains in the business world, according to data from the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. Corporations reported an annualized profit of $1.68 trillion in the fourth quarter, up from the previous record of $1.65 trillion in the third quarter of 2006.
In the first quarter of 2011, Exxon-Mobil, the world’s biggest and most profitable corporation, raked in $10.7 billion. That’s a 69 percent increase over the same quarter last year, and the highest quarterly profit since 2008. This is happening during a time when citizens are searching underneath the couch cushions to scrape together enough change in order to fill their gas tanks so they can go file for unemployment benefits.
Exxon also happens to be one of US Uncut’s top targets. The oil giant uses offshore subsidiaries in the Caribbean to avoid paying taxes in the United States. The company paid zero U.S. income tax in 2009, while enjoying billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies and its CEO’s total compensation reached over $29 million.
Now, in addition to raking in record profits by sheltering revenue in foreign tax havens, Exxon and its Fortune 500 comrades, rest on the brink of enjoying more sweeteners in the form of tax breaks.
Of course, tax havens are only one part of a rigged system that allows corporations to make bank during economic recession. There are also the practices of government subsidies, (read: taxpayer subsidies) outsourcing jobs, and buying off politicians that allow top corporations and their CEOs to flourish while one in four American children survives on food stamps.
While I was watching CNN this morning, a talking head made the comment that the corporations were forced to “go lean” during the recession, but now that the economy is recovering, they refuse to hire simply because they like being lean! Why wouldn’t they? Corporate America is enjoying record profits, so there are no incentives to hire an expensive American worker (with their pesky unions’ minimum wage demands, rational work schedule, and health benefits) when they can outsource the same job for cheap labor overseas.
Corporations learn to grease the wheels early, which is why their financial support of political candidates is so bipartisan. Before the presidential election, John McCain received three times more money from the oil industry than President Obama. However, Obama received more in campaign cash than McCain from the employees of some of the biggest oil companies: Exxon, Chevron, and BP, three companies that routinely grace the top echelons of the Fortune 500 list.
It’s no wonder that the big companies with the most money buy the most access and win the most favorable pieces of legislation.
The Obama administration is considering these corporate tax cuts during a time when almost every state is experiencing some kind of budget cut protest. Teachers, police, fire-fighters, unions, students, and their supporters have occupied state Capitols and campuses to demand a one-tier America where everyone (citizens and corporations, alike) sacrifice during times of fiscal crisis.
London After Midnight / Sean Brennan