Tag Archives | Corporations

Wave of “Ag Gag” Bills Threaten Food Safety and Freedom of the Press

Picture: Maqi (CC)

Rebekah Wilce writes at PR Watch:

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.

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E.S.P. Exists: Inside Sony’s Corporate Research

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

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Has The Dystopian Singularity Already Occurred, In The Form Of Corporations?

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:

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.

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Montana Republican Proposes Bill Giving Corporations The Right To Vote

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.

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Corporate Profits Have Grown By 171 Percent Under Obama

Picture: Flickr user borman818 (CC)

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.

This profit growth is the highest since 1900, while wages have stagnated and the same powerful people have fought to keep the minimum wage down in some states.… Read the rest

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‘If Corporations Are People, Can They Ride In The Carpool Lane?’

Kudos to Jonathan Frieman, the California political activist who has come up with a clever way to challenge corporate personhood. From Huffington Post:

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.

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How Consumer Brainwashed Are You? The Game

Via Salon, Andrew Leonard on a smash-success smartphone game which tests and hones one’s recognition of corporate symbols:

I was a little taken aback last Sunday when I saw my 15-year-old son playing Logos Quiz, a game that is based on the ability to identify corporate logos, [and which] rocketed to the top of the most popular free download apps lists this spring. Imagine a brand being able to compare recognition rates of their logo by age, by zip code or by “likes.” Imagine a brand being able to insert alternate versions of their logo to test. We’re all test subjects for the future of advertising, all the time. Logos Quiz just makes it explicit.

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Followed and Surveilled by Global Intelligence Company Stratfor

Luke Rudkowski got a chance to speak with Andy Bichlbaum, 1/2 of the Yes Men, at a press conference for hacktivist Jeremy Hammond. Andy is an artist, activist, film maker, and the co-creator of the infamous Yes Men. The December 2011 hack of Stratfor revaeled that Andy was being followed and surveilled by Stratfor at the request of Dow Chemical for his work with the Yes Men to support the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster. Via WeAreChange
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A Call For Denaturalizing The Corporation

Via Policy Shop, Anthony Kammer says that if we want to take back control from corporations, we need to begin by altering how we think of them:

Given how much time we spend working for and interacting with corporations every day, it’s unsurprising that we tend to see them as a natural part of our social fabric. But corporations, of course, are not naturally occurring entities. They are the product of state laws, and they have been reshaped regularly throughout American history by courts and legislatures in order to respond to changing societal needs.

As recently as 1990, a majority of the Supreme Court explicitly acknowledged that corporations received serious economic advantages from the State and could therefore be regulated to prevent those state-conferred advantages from disrupting the political process:

State law grants corporations special advantages — such as limited liability, perpetual life, and favorable treatment of the accumulation and distribution of assets.

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Koch Brothers Pressuring Thousands Of Employees To Vote For Mitt Romney

In the aftermath of the Citizens United ruling granting First Amendment rights to corporations, companies such as Koch Industries are telling their employees whom they should vote for, while simultaneously forbidding workers from expressing political opinions, In These Times reports:

In a voter information packet obtained by In These Times, the Koch Industries corporate leadership informed tens of thousands of employees at its subsidiary, Georgia Pacific, that their livelihood could depend on the 2012 election and that the company supports Mitt Romney for president. The packet arrived in the mailboxes of all 45,000 Georgia Pacific employees earlier this month.

Ironically, while the Kochs have been taking advantage of Citizens United to expand political communications to employees, they have also capitalized on weak labor laws to limit the political speech of those employees.

A new Georgia Pacific social media policy [PDF] implemented earlier this year that warns, “Even if your social media conduct is outside of the workplace and/or non-work related, it must not reflect negatively on GP’s reputation, its products, or its brands.” Given the policy, the workers were scared to appear next to a candidate the Kochs do not support with the plant in the background.

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