Tag Archives | Corporation Watch

The Fortune 500 Companies Funding the Political Resegregation of America

rslcReynolds American, Las Vegas Sands, Walmart, Devon Energy, Citigroup, AT&T, Pfizer, Altria Group, Honeywell International, Hewlett-Packard are some of the Fortune 500 companies identified by Mother Jones as major contributors to the Republican State Leadership Committee, which via its Redistricting Majority Project is literally changing the political map to help elect Republicans:

Over the past four to five years, the United States has been resegregated—politically. In states where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans and presidential races can be nail-biters, skillful Republican operatives have mounted racially-minded gerrymandering efforts—the redrawing of congressional and state legislative districts—that have led to congressional delegations stacked with GOP members and yielded Republican majorities in the state legislatures.

In North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, to name just three, GOPers have recast state and congressional districts to consolidate black voters into what the political pros call “majority-minority districts” to diminish the influence of these voters. North Carolina is an especially glaring example: GOP-redistricting after the 2010 elections led to half the state’s black population—1.1 million people—being corralled into one-fifth of the state legislative and congressional districts.

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Why Corporations Need Weirdos

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If you’re a regular disinfonaut there’s a good chance that you might fit a corporate employer’s concept of “weirdo.” Should you for some reason actually want to work for that kind of employer, Business Week suggests this might be the time to apply:

We need to expand our definition of diversity to include the weird—a group often maligned and avoided. These are people who appear to us as different, strange, and even offbeat; they just don’t fit in.

There is potency and innovativeness in certain kinds of weirdness that can help businesses thrive.

The key for leaders is to figure out how to support weird people so that they create—not destroy—value for the company. Some of these people have stifled their offbeat creativity out of social fear, camouflaging their true selves because they think it’s not appropriate at work to be as they really are. They leave essential parts of themselves at the office door.

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The Most Hated Company In America

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Comcast Center

In our recent poll about the most hated companies, Monsanto was the overwhelming choice of disinfonauts with a landslide 40% of well over 1,000 votes. However, The Verge is profiling Comcast (5th in our poll with just 5% of votes) as America’s most hated company, asking “What happens when the most unpopular company in the US merges with the runner-up?”

Comcast’s corporate headquarters, Comcast Center, is the tallest building in Philadelphia. It’s covered in mirrors, which makes it the perfect metaphor for the company, one former employee says; no matter where you go, the glare is in your eyes.

It seems a lot of people share that sentiment.

Comcast earned Consumerist’s “Worst Company in America” title twice, first in 2010 and again this year, 2014. It ranks at the very bottom of the American Consumer Satisfaction Index, underperforming even the rest of the cable industry, where “high prices, poor reliability, and declining customer service” are endemic.

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Big Pharma’s Latest Trick: Testing Meds on Homeless People

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Are the massive pharmaceutical corporations known collectively as “Big Pharma” now the world’s worst corporate villains? Carl Elliott writes of a dastardly plan to test trial medications on homeless people, at Medium:

Two years ago, on a gray January afternoon, I visited the Ridge Avenue homeless shelter in Philadelphia. I was looking for poor people who had been paid to test experimental drugs. The streets outside the shelter were lined with ruined buildings and razor wire, and a pit bull barked behind a chain-link fence. A young guy was slumped on the curb, glassy-eyed and shaky. My guide, a local mental health activist named Connie Schuster, asked the guy if he was okay, but he didn’t answer. “My guess is heroin,” she said.

We arrived at the shelter, where a security guard was patting down residents for weapons. It didn’t take long for the shelter employees to confirm that some of the people living there were taking part in research studies.

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Inside Monsanto, America’s Third-Most-Hated Company

BBW_cover_070714Well no surprise that the spinmeisters at America’s third-most-hated company, Monsanto, chose Bloomberg Businessweek to depict them as unjustly and unreasonably reviled, but nonetheless it’s interesting to review their take on just why we shouldn’t hate the corporate bad guys du jour:

…In a Harris Poll this year measuring the “reputation quotient” of major companies, Monsanto ranked third-lowest, above BP  and Bank of America and just behind Halliburton. For much of its history it was a chemical company, producing compounds used in electrical equipment, adhesives, plastics, and paint. Some of those chemicals—DDT, Agent Orange, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—have had long and controversial afterlifes. The company is best known, however, as the face of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

On May 24, cities worldwide saw the second annual “March Against Monsanto.” In New York City, a couple thousand protesters gathered in Union Square, next to a farmers’ market, to hear speakers charge that the company was fighting efforts in states all over the country to mandate the labeling of GM foods; that organic crops were being polluted by GM pollen blown in on the wind, only for Monsanto to sue the organic farmers for intellectual-property theft; that Monsanto had developed a “Terminator” gene that made crops sterile.

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Use Humor To Educate Your Less Tech-Savvy Friends On The Importance Of Net Neutrality

John Oliver’s hilarious segment on net neutrality is a great way to introduce the issue to your less tech-savvy friends, and it finishes with a worthwhile call to action. The FCC is currently soliciting comments on proceeding 14-28, “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet,” and it looks like the public is beginning to rally. Where most proceedings have gathered less than one hundred comments, 14-28 currently numbers over 40,000 filings, and the FCC site itself is barely staying afloat. You can comment by visiting fcc.gov/comments. While you’re there, you might also add your two cents about the proposed TimeWarner-Comcast merger.

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The Rise Of The Privatized For-Profit Probation Industry

probationHuman Rights Watch reports on the prison-industrial complex creeping further outside of the prison walls:

Every year, US courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest.

The 72-page report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” describes how more than 1,000 courts in several US states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.

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The Coming Backlash Against Silicon Valley

facebookVia the Economist, Adrian Wooldridge on seeing the giant tech corporations for what they really are:

Geeks have turned out to be some of the most ruthless capitalists around. A few years ago the new economy was a wide-open frontier. Today it is dominated by a handful of tightly held oligopolies. Google and Apple provide over 90% of the operating systems for smartphones. Facebook counts more than half of North Americans and Europeans as its customers.

The lords of cyberspace have done everything possible to reduce their earthly costs. They employ remarkably few people: with a market cap of $290 billion Google is about six times bigger than GM but employs only around a fifth as many workers.

At the same time the tech tycoons have displayed a banker-like enthusiasm for hoovering up public subsidies and then avoiding taxes. The American government laid the foundations of the tech revolution by investing heavily in the creation of everything from the internet to digital personal assistants.

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A Washington D.C. Court Gutted Net Neutrality Yesterday

admin-ajax.phpFree market enterprise means that internet telecoms are free to choose what they do and don’t want to allow you to see. The Los Angeles Times writes:

Today’s ruling from a Washington appeals court striking down the FCC’s rules protecting the open net was worse than the most dire forecasts. It was “even more emphatic and disastrous than anyone expected,” in the words of one veteran advocate for network neutrality.

The Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit thoroughly eviscerated the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to prevent Internet service providers from playing favorites among websites.

“AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast will be able to deliver some sites and services more quickly and reliably than others for any reason,” telecommunications lawyer Marvin Ammori (he’s the man quoted above) observed even before the ruling came down.”

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300,000 West Virginians Left Without Clean Water Following Chemical Spill

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For the past five days authorities have been scrambling to provide emergency water rations to West Virginians who have been ordered not to drink or even touch the tap water in their region, thanks to one “Freedom Industries.” Via MSNBC:

Roughly 300,000 residents have been left without usable water after chemicals spilled into a West Virginia river Thursday. The West Virginia American Water Company has advised residents of nine state counties not to drink or bathe in their running water. Local stores have been flooded with customers looking for bottled drinking water.

The spill originated at a chemical storage facility run by the Charleston-based company Freedom Industries, when a 48,000 gallon tank dumped an indeterminate amount of 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol into the Elk River. The chemical, also known as MCHM, is used by coal companies to wash and prepare their product. People who are exposed to it may experience vomiting, skin blistering and shortness of breath.

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