Under the Reading Lamp — 5/21/2012

Looting the Lives of the Poor

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Barbara Ehrenreich, Op-Ed: The predatory activities of local governments give new meaning to that tired phrase “the cycle of poverty.” Poor people are more far more likely than the affluent to get into trouble with the law, either by failing to pay parking fines or by incurring the wrath of a private-sector creditor like a landlord or a hospital.

Fracking Fluids Could Contaminate Freshwater Aquifers, Says Study

Fracking

By Christine Shearer, Truthout | Report
The study, done by hydrogeologist Dr. Tom Myers and published in the peer-reviewed Ground Water, found that, under certain conditions, the chemical-laced water used in hydraulic fracturing can migrate through fractures and faults up to overlying aquifers in as little as tens of years.

ALEC’s next target: state AGs who go after companies

Beth Hawkins | MinnPost:  “Just as a private attorney cannot bring a suit on behalf of a client without the client agreeing and authorizing such action, and then only within the guidelines allowed by the client, so it should be with the attorney general. Rather than an attorney general deciding on his or her own what authority the office may have to bring a lawsuit, the authority should be defined by the state as reflected by the specific decisions of the legislature via statute. The legislature, not the attorney general, is best positioned to balance the competing concerns that go into the decision of whether to allow a cause of action and under what circumstances.”

ALEC and corporate fingerprints are all over national push for online learning

students using laptopsBeth Hawkins | MinnPost: A bill would make Minnesota one of a handful of states to mandate student participation in online learning, a booming industry in search of customers.

ALEC Has Deep Ties, Big Money in Wisconsin Lawmakers and Governor

Mike Hall | AFL-CIO Now: A new report reveals the “extraordinary influence” the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has had in the Wisconsin legislature during the past 16 months—the same 16 months since Gov. Scott Walker (R) took power.  ALEC peddles fill-in-your-state’s-name model legislation to suppress voting rights and eliminate collective bargaining. Its model bills include anti-immigrant legislation, right-wing measures on education and tax breaks for corporations.

Romney Defends JP Morgan’s $3 Billion Trading Debacle After Collecting Millions From the Financial Industry

Pat Garofalo, News Report: When the head of JPMorgan Chase met with shareholders to answer for a trading loss of more than $2 billion Tuesday, it was against an evolving political backdrop: Donors from big banks are betting on Mitt Romney to defeat President Obama and repeal new restraints on risky, large-scale investments. The top five donor groups in Romney’s campaign are individuals and political action committees associated with large financial institutions, led by Wall Street giants Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

Kucinich on NDAA: Is this Who We Are as a Nation?

Dennis Kucinich, Statement: H.R. 4310 includes language that paves the way for war with Iran. It specifically calls for aggressive deployment of our armed services to begin ‘credible, visible preparations for a military option.’ It directs the Secretary of Defense to pre-position the U.S. Armed Forces in key locations in the Middle East in order to threaten Iran. It specifically authorizes actions ‘including military action if required.’

In U.S. Steel Town, Fatal Gas Explosion Goes Unpunished by OSHA

Jim Morris, News Report: “Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, American workers are entitled to ‘safe and healthful’ conditions. Nick Revetta’s death and the events that followed lay bare the law’s limitations, showing how safety can yield to speed, how even fatal accidents can have few consequences for employers, and how federal investigations can be cut short by what some call a de facto quota system.”

Monsanto’s Mass ‘Super Weeds’ Force Sustainable Farming

Anthony Gucciardi, News Analysis: “The super resistant weeds threaten not only independent family farmers and major agricultural businesses alike, but also the future of food production. Experts are now calling for a radical change in farming practices, with time-tested traditional methods being the ultimate goal. In addition, weed scientists seek to hold a ‘summit’ or panel of sorts to address the issue in Washington. As a leading task force member who is working with the USDA on the issue stated, this is a bi-product of rampant biotechnology that must be remedied by returning to traditional norms.”

Twenty-Two States File Brief Asking Supreme Court to Back Off Citizens United

Ian Millhiser, News Report: “Twenty-two states joined an amicus brief that will be filed today in the Supreme Court by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) calling for the Supreme Court to back off its election-buying decision in Citizens United. The brief, which supports the state of Montana’s effort to preserve its ban on corporate money in elections, argues that state elections present an even greater risk than federal elections of being corrupted by corporate money.”

The Derivative Economy: Can High Finance Get Any Lower?

Thomas Magstadt, Op-Ed: The mythological “free market” is not free. It is a slave to the stock market which is manipulated and, indeed, exploited by investment bankers, fund managers, and a new breed of free-booting financial con artists. Remember Enron? The late Kenneth Lay? His partner in crime, the convicted co-swindler, Jeffrey Skilling, now serving a very long prison sentence? How about Bernie Madoff, the Ponzi scheme pirate?

How Rural America Got Fracked

Ellen Cantarow, Op-Ed: Five hundred million years ago, an ocean surged here, shaping a unique wealth of hills and bluffs that, under mantles of greenery and trees, are sandstone. That sandstone contains a particularly pure form of crystalline silica. Its grains, perfectly rounded, are strong enough to resist the extreme pressures of the technology called hydraulic fracturing, which pumps vast quantities of that sand, as well as water and chemicals, into ancient shale formations to force out methane and other forms of “natural gas.”

Official List of 29 2B2F Banks Released

The Official list of the 29 banks that are considered too big to fail was released this morning.  The list, as determined by a G20 cabal known as the Financial Stability Board, are the members of the Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions club.

  1. Bank of America (US)
  2. Bank of New York Mellon (US)
  3. Citigroup (US)
  4. Goldman Sachs (US)
  5. J.P. Morgan (US)
  6. Morgan Stanley (US)
  7. State Street (US)
  8. Wells Fargo (US)
  9. BNP Paribas SA (France)
  10. Banque Populaire (France)
  11. Crédit Agricole SA (France)
  12. Société Générale SA (France)
  13. Barclays PLC (UK)
  14. HSBC Holdings PLC (UK)
  15. Lloyds Banking Group PLC (UK)
  16. Royal Bank of Scotland PLC (UK)
  17. Mitsubishi UFJ FG (Japan)
  18. Mizuho FG (Japan)
  19. Sumitomo Mitsui FG (Japan)
  20. Commerzbank AG (Germany)
  21. Deutsche Bank AG (Germany)
  22. UBS AG (Switzerland)
  23. Credit Suisse AG (Switzerland)
  24. Dexia SA (Belgium)
  25. Bank of China (China)
  26. Unicredit Group SA (Italy)
  27. ING Groep NV (Netherlands)
  28. Banco Santander SA (Spain)
  29. Nordea AB (Sweden)