Tag Archives | Corporation Watch

Wal-Mart Holds Food Drive For Its Hungry Employees

walmartWal-Mart tries to show its concern for some of society’s most vulnerable and deprived: Wal-Mart workers. What seems like an Onion story come to life, reported via Cleveland.com:

It’s a food drive – not for the community, but for needy workers. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” read signs affixed to the tablecloths at the Walmart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton.

The food drive tables are tucked away in an employees-only area. Is the food drive proof the retailer pays so little that many employees can’t afford Thanksgiving dinner?

Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, said the food drive is proof that employees care about each other. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships,” he said.

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AT&T Sells Call Data To CIA For $10 Million Per Year

towerThis of course raises the question, are you the telecom’s customer, or their product? The New York Times reports:

The C.I.A. is paying AT&T more than $10 million a year to assist with overseas counterterrorism investigations by exploiting the company’s vast database of phone records, which includes Americans’ international calls, according to government officials.

The cooperation is conducted under a voluntary contract, not under subpoenas or court orders compelling the company to participate. AT&T searches its database and provides records of calls that may help identify foreign associates, the officials said. The company has a huge archive of data on phone calls, both foreign and domestic, that were handled by its network equipment, not just those of its own customers.

The disclosure sheds further light on the ties between intelligence officials and communications service providers.

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Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s Big Brother Bundle

Reagan’s relaxation of media ownership rules in the 80s not only caused a massive loss of jobs, it seems, but distorted the flow of information that’s essential to democracy. Corporate news media is in it to make money and to help those who have it — not inform citizens.

So what can we do about it? The Internet and citizen journalism has been seen by many as the way to fill the media vacuum, but it’s still a challenge getting critical perspectives out there. VODO’s Big Brother Bundle is one promising attempt. Combining serious critical documentaries like Shadows of Liberty and Secrecy, which looks at the case for and against keeping secrets in the context of the “war on terrror”, with graphic novels and even games, VODO is aiming to take the debate around privacy mainstream.

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Having known Daniel Domscheit Berg through old friends at The Pirate Bay, VODO asked the ex-spokesperson of Wikileaks to help them curate this collection of media.… Read the rest

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Voting Machine Manufacturer Diebold Charged Over Bribery, Fraud, And “Worldwide Pattern Of Criminal Conduct”

dieboldNo big deal, they were just the company in charge of making sure that democracy happened. Via the BRAD BLOG:

One of the world’s largest ATM manufacturers and, formerly, one of the largest manufacturers of electronic voting systems, has been indicted by federal prosecutors for bribery and falsification of documents.

The charges represent only the latest in a long series of criminal and/or unethical misconduct by Diebold, Inc. and their executives over the past decade.

A U.S. Attorney says the latest charges are in response to “a worldwide pattern of criminal conduct” by the company…bribing government officials and falsifying documents in China, Indonesia and Russia to obtain and retain contracts to provide ATMs to banks in those countries.

In 2010 the company settled an SEC fraud suit for $25 million. They also admitted in 2008 that they had overstated 2007 election division revenue by some 300% in hopes of manipulating stock prices.

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The Private Companies Helping Cops Spy on Protesters

John Knefel reviews promotional materials for private spy companies showing that mass surveillance technology is being sold to police departments as a way to monitor dissent, for Rolling Stone:

Graphic from 3iMIND with heading "Profile A Target"

Graphic from 3iMIND with heading “Profile A Target”

The documents leaked to media outlets by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden this year have brought national intelligence gathering and surveillance operations under a level of scrutiny not seen in decades. Often left out of this conversation, though, is the massive private surveillance industry that provides services to law enforcement, defense agencies and corporations in the U.S. and abroad – a sprawling constellation of companies and municipalities. “It’s a circle where everyone [in these industries] is benefitting,” says Eric King, lead researcher of watchdog group Privacy International. “Everyone gets more powerful, and richer.”

Promotional materials for numerous private spy companies boast of how law enforcement organizations can use their products to monitor people at protests or other large crowds – including by keeping tabs on individual people’s social media presence.

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The Mass Incarceration Telecommunications Industry

phonesFrom a Nation on the booming business of privatized prison profiteering:

The calls were expensive, more than a dollar per minute. In order to accept one, I had to set up a prepaid account with Global Tel* Link, or GTL, “The Next Generation of Correctional Technology.” If Tim called and my account was out of money, the automated voice would prompt me to replenish it via credit card, while he waited on the other line. “By accepting an inmate call, you acknowledge and agree that your conversation may be monitored and recorded,” the company advises.

For Tim’s relatives, this had been their reality for years. GTL makes more than $500 million a year exploiting families like his, who face the choice between paying exorbitant phone rates to keep in touch with incarcerated loved ones—up to $1.13 per minute—or simply giving up on regular phone calls. Like many other telecommunications companies that enjoy profitable monopolies on prison and jail contracts across the country, GTL wins its contracts by offering a kickback—or “commission”—to the prison or jail systems it serves.

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Government Shutdown Doesn’t Slow Negotiations On The Trans-Pacific Partnership

tpp

Democracy Now! reports the latest on the previously discussed sinister and corporate power-grab:

As the federal government shutdown continues, Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Asia for secret talks on a sweeping new trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP is often referred to by critics as “NAFTA on steroids,” and would establish a free trade zone that would stretch from Vietnam to Chile, encompassing 800 million people and nearly 40 percent of the global economy. While the text of the treaty has been largely negotiated behind closed doors and, until June, kept secret from Congress, more than 600 corporate advisers reportedly have access to the measure, including employees of Halliburton and Monsanto.

“This is not mainly about trade,” says Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “It is a corporate Trojan horse. The agreement has 29 chapters, and only five of them have to do with trade.

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How Monsanto Is Planning To Profit From Climate Change

Landscape

Not everyone is either worried or skeptical regarding man-made global warming. Mother Jones on how Monsanto is eagerly banking on it:

Data to help farmers grow crops in a changing climate. Climate Corporation, which Monsanto is acquiring, sells detailed weather and soil information to “help…manage and adapt to climate change.” Monsanto thinks the ag data business will be a $20-billion market.

Insurance for when it’s too hot, cold, dry, wet, or otherwise extreme outside. Climate Corporation currently sells both federally subsidized crop insurance and supplemental plans.

Drought-resistant corn. Monsanto lists the effects of climate change-related precipitation changes and droughts as a potential “opportunity.” This year, Monsanto started rolling out a new line of patented, first-of-its-kind genetically engineered corn seeds that are resistant to drought.

Cotton that needs less water to grow. The company is piloting genetically modified cotton that that can grow while using less water and survive drought.

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The “Experts” Who Pushed For Military Involvement In Syria Are Paid By The Defense Industry

1Public Accountability Initiative on “impartial” pundits and think tanks presented by the media arguing for war:

During the public debate around the question of whether to attack Syria, Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser to George W. Bush, made a series of high-profile media appearances. Hadley argued strenuously for military intervention in appearances on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and Bloomberg TV, and authored a Washington Post op-ed.

In each case, Hadley’s audience was not informed that he serves as a director of Raytheon, the weapons manufacturer that makes the Tomahawk cruise missiles that were widely cited as a weapon of choice in a potential strike against Syria. He owns 11,477 shares of Raytheon stock, which traded at all-time highs during the Syria debate ($77.65 on August 23, making Hadley’s share’s worth $891,189). Despite this financial stake, Hadley was presented to his audience as an experienced, independent national security expert.

Though Hadley’s undisclosed conflict is particularly egregious, it is not unique.

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