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This documentary examines the flaws in our systems, and the mechanisms that work against democracy and the environment. From conflicts of interests in politics and unregulated corporate power, to a news media that serves the interests of powerful elites; ETHOS explores the systems that lead us into over consumption and warfare. Too often the media celebrates aspects of our society that belong in the dark ages, while at the same time ignoring or ridiculing progressive thinking or ideas. Many aspects of the way our systems work almost guarantee our destruction as a society and that’s what this film is about. Fractured societies, poverty, disparity, pollution, warfare. Is there something inherently wrong with the human race? Is that what we should think of ourselves? We have tried to set up forms of law and government that safeguard the public good.
Tag Archives | Corporations
Gerald Markowitz, David Rosner, and Nick Turse write at TomDispatch:
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Just over three years ago, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig leased by BP killed 11 people, injured 17, and — according to government estimates — polluted the Gulf of Mexico with 210 million gallons of Louisiana sweet crude. It turns out, however, that the casualty toll didn’t end with those 28 workers. The real number may reach into the thousands.
Last year, BP pled guilty to 14 felonies stemming from the disaster, including misleading Congress about the amount of oil that gushed into the gulf. But that wasn’t the only way BP attempted to cover up the extent of the spill. The main method was using 1.84 million gallons of a substance known as Corexit that acts to “attach itself to leaked oil, break it into droplets, and disperse them into the vast reaches of the gulf, thereby keeping the oil from reaching Gulf Coast shorelines.”
Writing for Newsweek and with the support of the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund, Mark Hertsgaard recently laid bare how Corexit was utilized and the dire effects it apparently had on the men and women who worked to “clean” the gulf in the wake of BP’s historically unprecedented spill.
Robert Scheer writes at Truthdig:
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Go offshore young man and avoid paying taxes. Plunder at will in those foreign lands, and if you get in trouble, Uncle Sam will come rushing to your assistance, diplomatically, financially and militarily, even if you have managed to avoid paying for those government services. Just pretend you’re a multinational corporation.
That’s the honest instruction for business success provided by 60 of the largest U.S. corporations that, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis, “parked a total of $166 billion offshore last year” shielding more than 40 percent of their profits from U.S. taxes. They all do it, including Microsoft, GE and pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories. Many, like GE, are so good at it that they have avoided taxes altogether in some recent years.
But they all still expect Uncle Sam to come to their aid with military firepower in case the natives abroad get restless and nationalize their company’s assets.
Rebekah Wilce writes at PR Watch:
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Remember “fecal soup”? A CBS “60 Minutes” exposé in 1987 documented widespread food safety violations by the poultry industry, making use of undercover video from a hidden camera placed by the “60 Minutes” crew. The episode vindicated U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) whistleblower Hobart Bartley, who had been ignored and threatened by his superiors and finally transferred to another plant when he warned of unsanitary conditions at a Simmons Industries plant in Missouri. Bartley was particularly irate about the “eight-foot-high vat of water called the ‘chiller,’ where as many as 10,000 chicken carcasses were routinely left to float, soaking up moisture to increase their selling weight. Dried blood, feces, and hair were floating in along with the dead birds. Diane Sawyer later called it ‘fecal soup.'”
In the modern era, effective enforcement of food safety and the humane treatment of animals has long relied on undercover video investigations by reporters and citizens.
Why would one of the world’s most successful and innovative technology corporations research a highly controversial subject and risky future product opportunity such as E.S.P. (extrasensory perception) and then – oh by the way – tell the world they proved it existed?
Huh… unlikely? What company and why isn’t this more widely known? That’s just what I thought. I came across this fun fact while searching for information to help me understand a strange series of events that had occurred six years ago this month. Coincidentally, I happened to be working for this company when I found out.
Described as “anomalous processes of information or energy transfer”, Psi phenomenon is a very controversial subject. On one side, scientists, physicists, and PhDs attesting to its reality, and on the other, their opponents who question the methods of study, the resulting data and testimonies.
knowledge is power
The monumental power of electricity, now well controlled, was at one time an anomalous process of energy transfer.… Read the rest
The prime futurist fear is that humanity will create some advanced technology with an ostensibly positive purpose, but it will buck our control and undo the world as it pursues some twisted version of the ends it was programmed to achieve. Quiet Babylon writes that this artificially-sentient oppressor has already arrived:
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One of my favorite recurring tropes of AI speculation/singulatarian deep time thinking is meditations on how an evil AI might destroy us.
Here’s an example: The scenario imagined is where there is a button that humans push if the AI gets an answer right and the AI wants to get a lot of button presses, and eventually it realizes that the best way to get button presses is to kill all the humans and institute a rapid fire button-pressing regime.
You would have this thing that behaves really well, until it has enough power to create a technology that gives it a decisive advantage — and then it would take that advantage and start doing what it wants to in the world.
Well, since they are people after all, fair is fair. ThinkProgress reveals:
A bill introduced by Montana state Rep. Steve Lavin would give corporations the right to vote in municipal elections:
Provision for vote by corporate property owner. If a firm, partnership, company, or corporation owns real property within the municipality, the president, vice president, secretary, or other designee of the entity is eligible to vote in a municipal election.
The bill does contain some limits on these new corporate voting rights. Corporations would not be entitled to vote in “school elections,” and the bill only applies to municipal elections. So state and federal elections would remain beyond the reach of the new corporate voters. In fairness to Lavin’s fellow lawmakers, this bill was tabled shortly after it came before a legislative committee, so it is unlikely to become law.
Pat Garafalo at Think Progress makes an interesting point. While those poor, downtrodden elites like to brand the Obama administration as the “most anti-business” in history, the data tells a far different story.
According to a Bloomberg News analysis, corporate profits have grown by 171% during the Obama era:
U.S. corporations’ after-tax profits have grown by 171 percent under Obama, more than under any president since World War II, and are now at their highest level relative to the size of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Profits are more than twice as high as their peak during President Ronald Reagan’s administration and more than 50 percent greater than during the late-1990s Internet boom, measured by the size of the economy.
Kudos to Jonathan Frieman, the California political activist who has come up with a clever way to challenge corporate personhood. From Huffington Post:
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The legal classification of corporations as people allows for a whole host of things, from making lawsuits simpler to justifying why Goldman Sachs was able to donate some $4.7 million to American political campaigns during the last election cycle.
But if corporations are people, can one of them ride in your car? And if so, does that qualify you to use the carpool lane?
That’s the question Northern California political activist Jonathan Frieman hoped to have answered when he was pulled over driving in the carpool lane last October on Highway 101 in Marin County. The police officer issued Frieman a nearly $500 ticket for driving by himself in the carpool lane, and Frieman countered that he wasn’t solo because he had stack of documents in the car representing a corporation he had co-founded.