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Edward Snowden

Open Letter To Obama

July 26, 2013 President Barack Obama The White House 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20500 Re: Civil Disobedience, Edward J. Snowden, and the Constitution Dear Mr. President: You are acutely aware More »


U.S. Companies Pay Just One-Third Of The Legal Tax Rate: GAO Study

Huffington Post July 1, 2013 By Mark Gongloff Big, profitable U.S. companies paid an average federal tax rate of less than 13 percent in 2010, according to a new study — or More »

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Man Tried for Chalk Drawings Found Not Guilty

NBC San Diego July 1, 2013 By Christina London The man accused of vandalism for drawing with chalk outside banks has been found not guilty on all charges. A jury returned its More »


The Bigger Story Behind the AP Spying Scandal

Washington’s Blog/Global Research May 20, 2012 By George Washington Attack on the Press You know that the Department of Justice tapped scores of phone lines at the Associated Press. You might have More »

Category Archives: inequality

Elderly poverty rates 200% higher for blacks and Latinos: report

Raw Story
Feb. 22, 2012
By David Edwards

A new report finds that black and Latino Americans are significantly more likely to be have difficulty retiring than white Americans on average.

University of California, Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education examined statistics from 2008 to 2010 and determined that black and Latino retirees were more likely to be in the lowest income group. According to their report (PDF), 32 percent blacks and 47 percent of Latinos are in the bottom 25 percent of earners, while only 22 percent of whites were in the bottom 25 percent.

Senior poverty rates among people of color were even more staggering, with 19.3 percent of black seniors and 19 percent of Latino seniors in poverty. Among whites, however, only 7.4 percent of seniors were below the poverty line.

Statistics showed that blacks and Latinos were also far less likely have retirement plans or health insurance offered by their employers, factors that make saving for retirement even harder.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/02/22/elderly-poverty-rates-200-higher-for-blacks-and-latinos-report/

With Tax Break, Corporate Rate Is Lowest in Decades

Wall Street Journal
Feb. 3, 2012

WASHINGTON—U.S. companies are booking higher profits than ever. But the number crunchers in Washington are puzzling over a phenomenon that has just come into view: Corporate tax receipts as a share of profits are at their lowest level in at least 40 years.

Total corporate federal taxes paid fell to 12.1% of profits earned from activities within the U.S. in fiscal 2011, which ended Sept. 30, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s the lowest level since at least 1972. And well below the 25.6% companies paid on average from 1987 to 2008.

Full Article Here – http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204662204577199492233215330.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

‘Anonymous’ hackers attack Brazilian bank websites

Feb. 1, 2012

BRASILIA — The shadowy computer hacker group Anonymous said Wednesday it attacked the websites of three major Brazilian banks over the past few days to protest widespread inequality in Latin America’s leading economy.

Hackers from Anonymous’s Brazilian branch told the economy daily Valor that their attacks on Bradesco, Itau and Banco do Brasil did not aim to defraud clients, but were meant to protest “the countless inequalities in the country.”

The last to be targeted was the website of Banco do Brasil, the country’s largest state-run bank.

Monday, Itau, the country’s biggest private bank and the biggest in Latin America, was attacked, followed a day later by Bradesco, Brazil’s third biggest bank.

“Attention sailors: Target hit ! Itau is adrift. TANGO DOWN !,” the hackers crowed.

Itau said in a statement that its web page was at times “unavailable” but did not confirm it was under under pirate attack, according to Valor.

Bradesco said it experienced a large quantity of hits, well above its site’s capacity.

“Message to the big banks: We don’t forget you. Your turn will come,” Anonymous Brasil warned.

Last month, Anonymous already breached the websites of Brazil’s federal district as well as a site belonging to popular Brazilian singer Paula Fernandes to protest the forced closure of Megaupload.com.

The hackers succeeded in shutting down Fernandes’ website, posting the image of a grim-faced joker with a message saying, “If Megaupload is down, you are down too.” It was signed “GhostofThreads.”

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jyN0Fn4ZXfibMLdscIqXDnIXVDjw?docId=CNG.108b2dd2393721c4759b1eec0730b297.481

World Social Forum calls for global anti-corporate protest in June

Jan. 29, 2012
By Yana Marull

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil — Thousands of critics of capitalism meeting in Brazil called Sunday for a worldwide protest in June to press for concrete steps to tackle the global economic crisis.

The World Social Forum wrapped up a five-day meeting in this southern Brazilian city, urging citizens to “take to the streets on June 5″ for the global action, which would be in support of social and environmental justice.

The forum also announced a “peoples’ summit” of social movements to be held in parallel with the high-level UN conference on sustainable development scheduled next June 20-22 in Rio.

The Rio+20 summit, the fourth major gathering on sustainable development since 1972, will press world leaders to commit themselves to creating a social and “green economy,” with priority being given to eradicating hunger.

But World Social Forum participants, including representatives of the Arab Spring, Spain’s “Indignant” movement, Occupy Wall Street, and students from Chile, sharply criticized the concept of “a green economy” that would allow multinational corporations to reap the profit.

“The political and economic elites are the one percent who control the world and we are the one percent seeking to change it. Where are the (other) 98 percent?” said Chico Whitaker, one of the Forum’s founders.

“There are many who are happy because each time they get more consumer goods, but many are concerned and unsatisfied. The challenge for us is to speak with them.”

“If we do not raise the issue of inequality, we won’t solve the problems,” said Venezuelan sociologist Edgardo Lander.

Full Article Here – http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/01/29/world-social-forum-calls-for-global-anti-corporate-protest-in-june/

Davos elite: Capitalism has widened income gap

Associated Press
Jan. 25, 2012

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — A four-year economic crisis has left societies battered and widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, financial leaders conceded Wednesday — with one suggesting that Western-style capitalism itself may be endangered.

As Europe struggles with its debt crisis and the global economic outlook remains gloomy at best, there’s a sense at the heavily guarded World Economic Forum that free markets are on trial.

Many at the elite economic gathering in the Swiss Alps accept that more must be done to convince critics that Western capitalism has a future and that it can learn from its massive failures.

For David Rubenstein, the co-founder and managing director of asset management firm Carlyle Group, leaders must work fast to overcome the current crisis or else different models of capitalism, such as the form practiced in China, may win the day.

“As a result of this recession, that’s lasted longer than anyone predicted and will probably go on for a number more years … we’re going to have a lot of economic disparities,” Rubenstein said. “We’ve got to work through these problems. If we don’t do in three or four years … the game will be over for the type of capitalism that many of us have lived through and thought was the best type.”

Some 2,600 of the world’s most influential people came for the forum this week amid increasing worries about the global economy and social unrest due to rising income inequalities.

China has reaped the rewards of its transition to a more market economy and is now the world’s second-largest economy. Unlike the capitalist systems in the U.S. and Europe, China’s market transformation has been heavily guided by a state apparatus that continues to balk at widespread democratic reforms. Latin America, too, has seen success in the development of “state capitalism” in certain industries.

“You combine elements of private enterprise with public responsibility,” said Colombia’s mining and energy minister, Mauricio Cardenas.

Although Rubenstein’s stark appraisal may be an outlier, there was a clear defensive posture among many participants on this opening day of the forum.

There were numerous references to the need to innovate, the need to consult with employees and the realization that power in the world is shifting from the west to the east. While the traditional industrial economies of the United States and Europe have limped through the last few years, often from one crisis to another, many economies in Asia and Latin America have been booming.

But Raghuram Rajan, a professor at the University of Chicago, doubted that the Chinese model was likely to last for too long.

State capitalism, he said, may be good if you’re playing “catch-up” but it reaches its “natural limits” once that’s been accomplished. Others worried about conflicts of interest as the same government officials run the companies and set industry regulations.

Mark Penn, global CEO of the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller, told The Associated Press that “the whole crisis has raised larger questions about how is capitalism working, how do you redefine fairness in the 21st century?”

Many rejected the suggestion by Sharan Burrow, the general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, that capitalism has lost its “moral compass” and needed to be “reset.” Business leaders insisted they were learning from the mistakes that dragged the world into its deepest economic recession since the World War II.

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iaCKIIunac2hvcGWdf6JJcjvXyFg?docId=0f2419e5e0f64e7fb446b2981b101223 

Thousands to attend anti-capitalist forum in Brazil

Jan. 23, 2012
By Yana Marull

BRASILIA — Tens of thousands of anti-capitalist militants, including members of Spain’s “Indignant” movement and the US Occupy Wall Street, are due to attend the World Social Forum, which opens Tuesday in Brazil.

The forum is an alliance of social movements opposed to the World Economic Forum, the annual gathering of the world’s economic and political elites being held at the same time in the Swiss resort of Davos.

From Tuesday to Sunday, participants in the World Social Forum will meet in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre to weigh alternative solutions to the global economic crisis.

President Dilma Rousseff is expected to attend the event along with 70,000 other people.

Under the slogan “Capitalist crisis, Social and Environmental Justice,” the forum aims to lay the groundwork for a peoples’ summit of social movements to be held in parallel to the high-level UN conference on sustainable development scheduled for June in Rio.

The World Social Forum has its roots in 1999 street protests in the US city of Seattle during a World Trade Organization meeting but it settled in Porto Alegre as its regular venue 12 years ago when it drew 20,000 activists from around the world.

Since then, it has brought together up to 150,000 people in various world cities under the motto “Another World is Possible”.

“The forum was born to challenge the arrogance of the neo-liberals in Davos. We said clearly that we wanted another world. Now we must build the ways, the alternatives,” forum coordinator Candido Grzybowski told AFP.

This year the forum is opening its doors to other voices and protest groups from around the world, including the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, Spain’s “Indignant” group and students from Chile.

“They are movements which have a radicalism that is not old style. They are not molded by the traditional leftist tradition. They have been brave enough to take to the streets and confront” the system they criticize, Grzybowski added.

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hWRYlr2Lhd0G7Iu0qOim69aaeEbA?docId=CNG.453a23fb0343f663085a946269ee28a3.501

Occupy London eviction: the judge ignored our case

Jan. 20, 2012

I’ve been an Occupier from day one. And given the struggle we have faced to get the politics of the movement discussed in the media, I was pleased to have the chance to put its substance on record in the high court.

I was a litigant in person, which meant I defended myself, alongside both Dan Ashman (also representing himself) and the legal team for Tammy Samede who was representing the camp as a whole. The fact that there was a court case at all – and we weren’t simply steamrollered by the police on a whim from the mayor as happened to Occupy Wall Street in New York – was a reminder of our relative freedom in the UK. That’s something we must protect even while we fight to change the structure of our dangerously undemocratic political and economic system.

The judgment of the court that found in favour of the Corporation of London’s case to evict us was disappointing, though not unexpected. My defence asked the judge to test whether our encampment outside the stock exchange could claim to be acting in the interests of “democratic society” and constituted a response to a “pressing social need” – in line with the relevant provisions in the European convention on human rights, and the Human Rights Act.

The judge had to decide whether protecting our human right to protest, speak, and assemble freely was more important, for instance, than the rights of people coming to the cathedral not to see us – a prospect which, apparently, kept them away in their thousands. We argued that there has never been any practical impediment to entering St Paul’s Cathedral, and that if visitor numbers were down it was probably due to the economic crisis, and hostile media coverage which misrepresented the movement from day one.

We argued that the judge should also weigh the interests of the millions, and indeed billions, already hurt by current policies – in other words the needs of the “99%” we seek to represent. As well as reams of written expert testimony on the economy, austerity and climate change, I had three fantastic witnesses who took the stand. The first was Reverend Alan Green, a priest in a deprived part of Bethnal Green whose parishioners were, he said, already suffering under the impact of the cuts. A member of the college of canons of St Paul’s Cathedral, he said that Occupy embodies core Christian principles, and should be embraced by the cathedral. As the great civil rights activist Jesse Jackson said in a speech shortly before the case, “Jesus was an Occupier”. Along with the submission that the authorities first attacked Jesus under “purity laws” and “misuse of the temple grounds”, I felt we presented a strong Christian case for Occupy.

John Christensen, my second witness, is the head of the Tax Justice Network and sits on the OECD’s taskforce on tax and development. He called the City of London, “the money-launderer’s destination of choice”, saying the Corporation was responsible for extraordinary damage to the interests of democratic society. Occupy had, he said, already had a provable positive national impact by stimulating a debate about the unaccountability of the City and the perilous and immoral state of the economy.

The third was Dr Richard Wilkinson, author of The Spirit Level and a global expert in the field of inequality and its destructive effects on the rights of millions, demonstrably harmed by neoliberal policies which greatly increase it. These effects are set to be increased in a manner that would have made Thatcher blush by the current government’s policies. As was recently reaffirmed by Ed Balls in his economically illiterate support for austerity, our national political predicament is strongly exacerbated by a largely complicit opposition. I argued that this failure of effective opposition constituted extra justification of our presence.

In the European convention each article contains two parts. The first articulates rights to be protected,
and the second the basis on which, in terms of what is “necessary in a democratic society”, the authorities can justify an infringement of those rights. We suggested that if we could prove to the court’s satisfaction that the presence of the movement was demonstrably and effectively relevant to preventing an assault on the very rights and needs on the basis of which authorities are licensed to curtail otherwise sacrosanct rights such as the right to protest, then clearly that should be key to ascertaining on which side of this legal dispute the most “pressing social need” lay.

Full Article Here – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jan/20/occupy-london-eviction-judge?newsfeed=true

Inequality in wealthy states rises, diseases decline: WHO

Jan. 16, 2012

GENEVA — Social inequality in wealthy nations is increasing while in parts of the developing world many diseases are on the wane, Margaret Chan, head of the World Health Organization said Monday.

“In some wealthy countries, the difference in the quality of life between the older generation and today?s youth is the greatest ever recorded,” said the WHO director general, speaking at the opening of the body’s board meeting.

“Last year was a time when many countries realised they were losing their middle classes, the very foundation of democracy and economic productivity,” she said, urging that a commitment to public health must be sustained.

In a text version of her speech Chan cited a recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development report showing income inequality in wealthy nations has reached the worst levels in nearly 25 years.

“That report further concluded that societies with the least inequality had the best health outcomes, regardless of the levels of spending on health,” Chan said, noting, “money alone does not buy better health.”

She stated: “Those who suffer or who benefit least deserve help from those who benefit most,” but this is not what happened last year, particularly in well-off nations, according to numerous reports.

In large parts of the developing world vast inequalities in access to health care also exist, she explained.

“But misery, for many groups, for many diseases, is actually going down. Those who benefit least are getting help from those who benefit most,” said Chan.

She noted that in the first decade of the 21st century, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis epidemics peaked, beginning a slow decline along with a turn around in a deteriorating malaria situation.

“Young child mortality dropped below 10 million for the first time in nearly six decades. Compared with 12 million under-five deaths in 1990, the figure for 2010 was 7.6 million, a drop of more than 40 percent.”

Full Article Here – http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jCm8NjP0XXqMtzI221sp0lfsqdEQ?docId=CNG.384a2765838b6cbd605175bf201e33f8.4d1

Rising Share of Americans See Conflict Between Rich and Poor

Pew Research Center
Jan. 11, 2012
By Rich Morin

The Occupy Wall Street movement no longer occupies Wall Street, but the issue of class conflict has captured a growing share of the national consciousness. A new Pew Research Center survey of 2,048 adults finds that about two-thirds of the public (66%) believes there are “very strong” or “strong” conflicts between the rich and the poor—an increase of 19 percentage points since 2009.

Not only have perceptions of class conflict grown more prevalent; so, too, has the belief that these disputes are intense. According to the new survey, three-in-ten Americans (30%) say there are “very strong conflicts” between poor people and rich people. That is double the proportion that offered a similar view in July 2009 and the largest share expressing this opinion since the question was first asked in 1987.

As a result, in the public’s evaluations of divisions within American society, conflicts between rich and poor now rank ahead of three other potential sources of group tension—between immigrants and the native born; between blacks and whites; and between young and old. Back in 2009, more survey respondents said there were strong conflicts between immigrants and the native born than said the same about the rich and the poor.1

Virtually all major demographic groups now perceive significantly more class conflict than two years ago. However, the survey found that younger adults, women, Democrats and African Americans are somewhat more likely than older people, men, Republicans, whites or Hispanics to say there are strong disagreements between rich and poor.

While blacks are still more likely than whites see serious class conflicts, the share of whites who hold this view has increased by 22 percentage points, to 65%, since 2009. At the same time, the proportion of blacks (74%) and Hispanics (61%) sharing this judgment has grown by single digits (8 and 6 points, respectively).

The biggest increases in perceptions of class conflicts occurred among political liberals and Americans who say they are not affiliated with either major party. In each group the proportion who say there are major disagreements between rich and poor Americans increased by more than 20 percentage points since 2009.

These changes in attitudes over a relatively short period of time may reflect the income and wealth inequality message conveyed by Occupy Wall Street protesters across the country in late 2011 that led to a spike in media attention to the topic. But the changes also may also reflect a growing public awareness of underlying shifts in the distribution of wealth in American society.2 According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau data, the proportion of overall wealth—a measure that includes home equity, stocks and bonds and the value of jewelry, furniture and other possessions—held by the top 10% of the population increased from 49% in 2005 to 56% in 2009.

Full Article Here – http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/01/11/rising-share-of-americans-see-conflict-between-rich-and-poor/ 

U.S. Income Inequality Higher Than Roman Empire’s Levels: Study

Huffington Post
Dec. 29, 2011

Many tout the U.S. as the Roman empire of the modern world. But as it turns out, that comparison may not be all good.

Income inequality in America is at levels even higher than those in ancient Rome, according to a recent study from two historians, Walter Schiedel and Steven Friesen, cited by Per Square Mile. After analyzing papyri ledgers, biblical passages and other previous scholarly estimates, the researchers found that the top one percent of earners in Ancient Rome controlled 16 percent of the society’s wealth. By comparison, the top one percent of American earners control 40 percent of the country’s wealth, according to Vanity Fair. (h/t ThinkProgress)

The findings add to the growing chorus of studies and criticisms indicating that the wealth gap is hitting truly remarkable levels. The top one percent saw their incomes rise by 275 percent between 1979 and 2007, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while the bottom fifth of earners only saw their incomes grow by 20 percent during that same period.

In addition, the total net worth of the bottom 60 percent of Americans is less than that of the Forbes 400 richest Americans. Perhaps even more shocking, the six heirs to the retail giant Walmart had the same net worth in 2007 as the bottom 30 percent of Americans. And the phenomenon isn’t just limited to the U.S. — income inequality is on the rise in most of the world’s major economies, according to the Organisation of Economic Development and Cooperation.

The high levels of income inequality may help explain why both Rome and America wield so much power. Large wealth gaps actually helped early societies spread, according to an October study. That’s because unequal societies crowded out more egalitarian populations, the study found.

Full Article Here – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/us-income-inequality-ancient-rome-levels_n_1158926.html