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Archive for November, 2012

Hemp  11-30-2012Hemp…An Economic Savior? Yep!

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McDonald’s…Happy Meals? I Don’t Think So!!

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(Look Mom!  No Mold!  137 Days Later!)

Every mouthful of McDonalds meal contains a handful of chemicals that raise ‘bad’cholesterol levels, increase diabetes risk, lower immunity, and damage DNA. In fact fast food contains so many harmful ingredients that I wouldn’t even feed it to a pet because it would be cruel.

When you go to the fast-food drive-through, you are:

  • paying to harm your own health;
  • your children’s health;
  • reducing your quality of life because the toxicity of eating synthetic chemicals will trigger illness;
  • put more money into the hands of the medical insurance companies.

Still lovin’ it?

Heard it before? Well despite the illusion of a gradual switch to a healthier menu containing salads and smoothies, McDonald’s line-up still contains nasty health-eroding chemicals: trans-fats, high levels of sugar, artificial sweeteners, petro-chemicals, and high-fructose corn syrup. The kids meals and salads also contain frightening ingredients and high…

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34 Signs That America Is In Decline

 By Michael, on November 29th, 2012

The United States is clearly in an advanced state of decline.  Many people around the world (and even inside America) rejoice at this, but not me.  I mourn for the country that I was born in and that I still love.  Yes, the United States has never been perfect, but the Republic that our Founding Fathers started truly has been a light to the rest of the world in a lot of ways over the centuries.  Unfortunately, our foundations are badly rotting and our nation is collapsing all around us.  Many Americans like to think that the United States is greater today than it has ever been before, but the truth is that America is like a patient that has stage 4 cancer that has spread to almost every area of the body.  Our nation is…

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CEO Council Demands Cuts To Poor, Elderly While Reaping Billions In Government Contracts, Tax Breaks

 

November 27, 2012 by kristalklear

WASHINGTON — The corporate CEOs who have made a high-profile foray into deficit negotiations have themselves been substantially responsible for the size of the deficit they now want closed.

The companies represented by executives working with the Campaign To Fix The Debt have received trillions in federal war contracts, subsidies and bailouts, as well as specialized tax breaks and loopholes that virtually eliminate the companies’ tax bills.

The CEOs are part of a campaign run by the Peter Peterson-backed Center for a Responsible Federal Budget, which plans to spend at least $30 million pushing for a deficit reduction deal in the lame-duck session and beyond.

During the past few days, CEOs belonging to what the campaign calls its CEO Fiscal Leadership Council — most visibly, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein and Honeywell’s David Cote — have barnstormed the media, making the case that the only way to cut the deficit is to severely scale back social safety-net programs — Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — which would disproportionately impact the poor and the elderly.

As part of their push, they are advocating a “territorial tax system” that would exempt their companies’ foreign profits from taxation, netting them about $134 billion in tax savings, according to a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies titled “The CEO Campaign to ‘Fix’ the Debt: A Trojan Horse for Massive Corporate Tax Breaks” — money that could help pay off the federal budget deficit.

Yet the CEOs are not offering to forgo federal money or pay a higher tax rate, on their personal income or corporate profits. Instead, council recommendationsinclude cutting “entitlement” programs, as well as what they call “low-priority spending.”

Many of the companies recommending austerity would be out of business without the heavy federal support they get, including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, which both received billions in direct bailout cash, plus billions more indirectly through AIG and other companies taxpayers rescued.

Just three of the companies — GE, Boeing and Honeywell — were handed nearly$28 billion last year in federal contracts alone. A spokesman for Campaign To Fix The Debt did not respond to an email from The Huffington Post over the weekend.

The CEO council recommends two major avenues that it claims will produce “at least $4 trillion of deficit reduction.” The first is to “replace mindless, abrupt deficit reduction with thoughtful changes that reform the tax code and cut low-priority spending.” The second is to “keep debt under control over the long-term by focusing on the long-term growth of entitlement programs.”

CEOs are encouraged to present a Fix-The-Debt PowerPoint presentation to their “employee town hall [meetings and] company meetings.” To further help get the word out, the campaign borrowed a page from the CEOs this fall who wrote letters encouraging their employees to vote for Mitt Romney, or face job cuts. This time, the CFD has created two templates for bosses to use at their companies.

But in the past week, in order to make their case to the millions of Americans who don’t work for them, CEOs fanned out into television, to convince the rest of the country that slashing the social safety net is the only way to reduce the deficit.

In an interview aired Monday, Goldman Sachs chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein said Social Security “wasn’t devised to be a system that supported you for a 30 year retirement after a 25-year career.” The key to cutting Social Security, he said, was simply a matter of teaching people to expect less.

“You’re going to have to do something, undoubtedly, to lower people’s expectations of what they’re going to get,” Blankfein told CBS, “the entitlements, and what people think they’re going to get, because you’re not going to get it.”

Blankfein and Goldman Sachs don’t have to worry about lowering expectations. After receiving a $10 billion federal bailout in 2008, and paying it back a few years later, Goldman Sachs recently exceeded Wall Street analysts’ expectations by announcing $8.4 billion in third quarter revenues for 2012. On the heels of a great year, Blankfein is expected to take home an even larger salary than he did in 2011, when he made $16.1 million.

To understand the importance of banking profits to the members of the deficit council, one need look no further than the two top-ranking members of the Campaign To Fix The Debt’s steering committee, former New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg (R) and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat. Gregg is currently employed as an international adviser to Goldman Sachs, while Rendell collects his paycheck from the boutique investment bank Greenhill & Co.

Following Blankfein’s evening news appearance on Monday, Cote, the Honeywell CEO, sat down with the same network on Tuesday, and said essentially the same thing that Blankfein did.

Cote ranked 11th on a list compiled in a recent study conducted by the Institute for Policy Studies of executives who have saved the most from the Bush tax cuts. According to the IPS, Cote’s taxable compensation for 2011 was a bit more than $55 million, and he did not pay about $2.5 million thanks to the Bush tax cuts.

After mentioning a few scary-sounding deficit statistics, he suggested the government raise revenue by ending individual tax credits and deductions, which he said amounted to a $1 trillion “giveaway” in 2011. It was clear, however, that Cote hadn’t come on the show to talk about taxes.

“The big nut is going to have to be [cuts to] Medicare/Medicaid … especially with the baby boomer generation retiring. It’s going to literally crush the system.”

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Walmart CEOs Concealed Evidence Of Vast Bribery Scandal

Each Black Friday we hear all about Walmart, from the jaw-dropping discounts that make competing customers resort to gunplay – to the deaths by trampling. This year, we’ve been hearing about coordinated strikes, walk-outs and protests as Walmart workers have begun to resent the depths of their corporate exploitation. But we don’t hear about the rampant corruption uncovered in Walmart’s expansion operations as multiple bribery probes continue to widen.

Walmart is the biggest retailer in known history, employing one million US workers and making $3.63 billion in profits just in the most recent quarter. Obviously, a business this size will hold a lot of sway in media where they are regular advertisers. Maybe that’s why we’re not hearing about a global bribery scandal which should be leading to perp walks, but so far, is barely being reported.

Kudos to the Boston Globe for updating the story that David Barstow quietly broke in the New York Times last April. In brief, it explained how Walmart had systematically bribed officials to fast-track expansion in Mexico.

After a 10 year Walmart official blew the whistle, an internal investigation ordered by Walmart’s top executives buried the affair for some seven years. How? They simply made an official involved in the bribery allegations responsible for the investigation. Not surprisingly, he reported no wrongdoing. Management even promoted the chief executive of the Mexican division to vice chairman.

This alleged cover-up implicates senior management including two CEOs who knew – or should have known – their financial records showed tens of millions in payments for local “gestores”, Mexican officials who greased the wheels in obtaining permits, zoning approvals and environmental waivers. Cutting through bureaucratic red tape, Walmart’s explosive growth “south of the border” quickly made them also Mexico’s largest private employer with over 2,000 new stores opening in 12 years.

The SEC and DOJ are finally taking an interest in the matter, but Walmart was already able to “get in front” of US law enforcement to conduct new “investigations” of their own, hiring 300 lawyers and accountants including a noted former FBI official. Walmart reported spending $100 million so far this year trying to deal with the scandal.

Any bribe made to a foreign official is a violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Walmart finally admitted last week that internal FCPA probes have already commenced in the Mexican affair. But their investigators quickly found the same “business model” for rapid expansion overseas was also used in Brazil, China and India where hundreds more stores opened.

It’s no secret that bribes are common in the developing world, but US companies are held to higher standards and strict federal laws. The Securities and Exchange Commission just last week published fresh, clear cut guidelines for interpreting the FCPA to spell out what constitutes an illegal bribe. Walmart’s admissions came one day later.

We reported last April that Walmart’s goal of 20% market domination nationwide is bad news for Main Street USA, small business owners and taxpayers. Areas that welcome Walmart see net job losses and lost wages as supermarkets, local shops and smaller retailers are all displaced. As they export profits to their Arkansas headquarters, communities also feel a drain on social services because Walmart’s refusal to provide healthcare for workers shifts millions in costs to taxpayers.

Walmart is also well known to have coached workers to apply for government aid such as food stamps, WIC or Section 8 housing subsidies. Walmart’s “poverty wages” force taxpayers to choke up an extra $3.6 billion per year in welfare and Medicaid to make up the difference, even as the company rakes in profits over $15 billion per year.

Already known to have squelched evidence of widespread bribery, Walmart is this time pledging greater oversight and background checks for intermediaries. They have suspended a handful of workers from their India division, but they will likely try to protect their older, white employees.

This might be hard because current CEO Michael Duke and former CEO Lee Scott both signed documents affirming any evidence suggesting fraud was disclosed. As last week’s disclosures show, it was not.

What remains to be seen is how and when the Obama administration might react. Barstow’s NY Times article describes a wealth of first-hand evidence that points squarely to upper management, drunk with greed as foreign expansion boomed. But similar cases involving Tyson Foods, Halliburton and Siemens did not result in jail sentences for individuals, instead were settled via secretly negotiated fines in “deferred prosecution” agreements made chic by the Bush administration.

The late Senator Arlen Specter fought this practice in Senate hearings, noting “fines are added to the cost of doing business…going to jail is what works to deter crime”.  According to the NY Times in “Lots of Bribes, but Little Jail Time“, Walmart saw Tyson’s top execs escape criminal indictments for bribing Mexican officials, and simply decided to sweep their scandal under the rug. When Obama lined his incoming cabinet with Wall Street attorneys, little changed.

Thus, it is already predicted President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder and SEC chair Mary Schapiro will let Walmart’s CEOs skate without criminal prosecution. The current administration is expected to continue to sell justice, and our nation’s #1 employer, knowing Obama always needs to pad jobs numbers, is likely to play hardball.

Continue reading @ OpEd News

 

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The Giant Currency Superstorm That Is Coming To The Shores Of America When The Dollar Dies

 By Michael, on November 27th, 2012 

By recklessly printing, borrowing and spending money, our authorities are absolutely shredding confidence in the U.S. dollar.  The rest of the world is watching this nonsense, and at some point they are going to give up on the U.S. dollar and throw their hands up in the air.  When that happens, it is going to be absolutely catastrophic for the U.S. economy.  Right now, we export a lot of our inflation.  Each year, we buy far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and so the rest of the world ends up with giant piles of U.S. dollars.  This works out pretty well for them, because the U.S. dollar is the primary reserve currency of the world and is used in international…

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Perry’s greatest accomplishments in Texas: 
A 34 billion dollar budget deficit & growing! 

Education

(50th=Lowest, 1st=Highest)

  • Average Salary of Public School Teachers (2009-2010) – 31st [ii]
  • Percent Change in Average Salaries of Public School Teachers, 1999-2000 to 2009-2010 – 38th [iii]
  • Current Expenditures per Student – 38th [iv]
  • Percentage of Revenue for K-12 Schools from Local Governments, 2009-2010 – 24th [v]
  • Percentage of Revenue for K-12 Schools from State Government, 2009-2010 – 40th [vi]
  • Percentage of Revenue for K-12 Schools from Federal Government, 2009-2010 – 3rd [vii]
  • State & Local Expenditures per Pupil in Public Schools – 44th[viii]
  • State Aid Per Pupil in Average Daily Attendance – 47th [ix]
  • Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) Scores – 45th [x]
  • Percent of Population 25 and Older with a High School Diploma – 50th [xi]
  • High School Graduation Rate – 43rd [xii]
  • Percent of Adults…

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