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as [livejournal.com profile] zarq reported yesterday, Whole Food CEO John Mackey showed all and sundry that he is a rich libertarian prick. Which has provoked interesting articles:. This was one that caught my attention.

The view from a former Whole Food Employee

A warning on prepared food items... Anything you buy that is "prepared" be it chopped up watermellons, soup, or something from the hot bar, is likely not something you would buy in its raw form. Which is to say, gnarly produce that wont sell, meat that is a day or two from spoilage etc... Dunno just something to think about before you cough up 7.99lb on some mashed potatoes and some asian inspired beef dish. I'm guessing that most stores do this though as it is a way to cut down on shrink and also adds value to an otherwise worthless product. As a decent to good cook, I refuse to buy anything that is not only more expensive but also less quality. (Go next time and see how many items use ground beef, sausages or bits and pieces of fish)


Finally, each year employees vote on the new benefits package, what kind of health plan, what kind of personal days and how many, retirement and stock options etc... If you are savvy in the employment/legal fields you will realize that this is very similar to an in-house or owner sponsored union, which is a violation of the NLRB, but I have not done enough of the research to determine if this is a true violation, though I will say my labor law professor about had a heart attack when I told her. It's one of the things I liked about working there, but it is also the main reason why WF employees think unions are meaningless and just take your money for dues.MORE
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Dsteffen at Daily Kos has a very informative and horrifying series of how regulation came to be in some cases. Here it be: How Regulation came to be: 1938 Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act
According to an AP article that appeared in our local daily this morning, one of the tools the federal government may use in going after Stewart Parnell and other management of the Peanut Corporation of America is the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938. Ironically, the 1938 law has its roots in an incident of corporate hubris and disregard for public safety not unlike the present salmonella-tainted peanut butter case.
"A spoonful of sugar," Julie Andrews sang in her role as Mary Poppins, "Helps the medicine go down." In the middle of the Great Depression, the S. E. Massengill Company found something much better than sugar. Or so they thought. The disaster unfolds on the flip.MORE

How Regulation came to be: The Iroquois Theater Fire

Here's a little mental exercise for you. Picture yourself standing at the front door of your house or apartment preparing to go outside. How do you open the door? Chances are you reach out, grasp the door knob or handle, turn it, and pull the door in towards you. Now picture yourself standing at the door of a business, school, or other public building. What's different? If you answered that the door swings out, give yourself a gold star.

If you know what the Iroquois Theater had to do with this difference, give yourself a big gold star.

...And if you don't, you know where to find out. To the flip.MORE

How Regulation came to be: Radium Girls - Part I

The Radium Dial Company employed about one thousand local women to paint dials primarily for their largest customer, the Westclox clock factory in Peru, Illinois that made the ubiquitous "Big Ben" alarm clock. In an era with few occupations open to women, the pay at the dialpainting factories was significantly better that most alternatives -- as much as three times more -- and the factories had little trouble filling positions. The women, many of them girls fresh out of high school, became part of a phenomenon that would become known collectively as the "Radium Girls".

The women working in Ottawa were assured that the luminous material was safe. Their instructor, wife of the plant manager and teacher of the lip-pointing technique, once ate the radium-laced paint from a spatula to demonstrate its innocuousness. The workers were told by their supervisor that the radium would "put a glow in our cheeks," that "the paint would make us goodlooking,"
Claudia Clark, Radium Girls: Women and Industrial Health Reform: 1910-1935

And then, the workers bones and teeth started to rot, and some began to die
Read more... )
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The hypocrisy of healthcare protestors

Editor's note: Glenn Greenwald is on vacation this week. Darren Hutchinson of Dissenting Justice is guest-blogging today.

...Big government for me, but not for you!
Ironically, many of the people whom the article portrays as fuming over "socialized medicine" probably have state-sponsored health plans. Accordingly, if the protestors actually applied their anti-government rhetoric to their own lives, many of them would lose health insurance coverage or would have to spend a fortune to obtain it.

One protestor is a public school teacher, who undoubtedly has a public-sponsored health plan and pension (along with his salary). In other words, the individual is living on the taxation of others. Another person has a 74-year old husband, who is likely on Medicare -- the largest government-sponsored health plan. Even if these individuals have "private" plans provided by their employers, the public still pays for roughly 1/3 of the costs of these plans through favorable tax treatment (for further discussion, see here and here).

According to a recent Gallup report,
only 13.3 percent of Americans with health insurance purchase their policies on the open market. The remaining individuals are enrolled in either state-sponsored plans or in employer plans that are heavily subsidized by state and federal tax policy. The notion of a free market in health insurance is a myth for the vast majority of Americans.MORE

And I totally agree with this:

Best comment

myths and mistaken beliefs...too many Americans are content with the nonsense...

It is easy to see from past few days/weeks that there are many Americans who suffer from the American Myth Factory's output of How To View Your Country And The World.

Perhaps we Americans should spend a few less hundreds of billions $$ on the Pentagon and move those billions into extended citizenship,civics,what American government does--who it does it for and why.

How programs like Medicare or Social Security came into being,why they came to be and what the problems were/are these two pillars of American 20th century socialism were intended to and/or do address.

How Ronald Reagan was wrong about the role of government in America.
How Americans indeed do have several components we all share in for the commonweal of all Americans. Schools, police, fire, roads and highways, airports and control of the airways, parks and indeed a Pentagon that all Americans pay taxes towards that runs the American Army, Air Force and Navy.

This thicket of nonsense readily now being seen over concept of American Single Payer Plan flys so contrary to the success of Medicare,Social Security and the Veterans Administration in America.
It may not be hypocrisy so much as it is a very poor working knowledge of 20th century American social progress or a very free floating set of beliefs in American myths far too many Americans accept at face value.MORE

There was a series on Daily Kos about how various laws came about. I'll have to see if I can locate it, now.
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Always Coca-Cola - India (VIDEO)
June 2006
As a principal sponsor of FIFA, Coca-Cola is keen to trade in on the World Cup's image of fair play and good sportsmanship. But many believe its business practices make a mockery of this reputation.

For thirsty fans at the World Cup, there's only one choice of soft drink available. Whether it's Coke, Sprite or Bonaqua, all the brands on sale belong to coca-cola. Many of theses drinks are produced in India, where Coca-Cola's business practices have elicited widespread condemnation. "The coca cola factory ruined my life," despairs one farmer. Producing 0.33L of coke requires 1L of water. In some villages near cola factories, water levels have dropped by 60m. Harvests have fallen by more than 40% because there is not enough water to irrigate fields. But Coca-Cola denies all responsibility. "We are not the problem", states spokesman Rajiv Singh. "There are simply too many people living here who are wasteful with water." Coca-cola also stands accused of pollution and union busting. Many workers in their factories receive around 50 cents for a 12 hour shift. They have no unions and sometimes receive no compensation for injuries sustained. As Bhagwab Das Yadav states: "All we want is for coca cola to respect India's labour laws

From India resource.org

Campaign to Hold Coca-Cola Accountable

Coca-Cola Crisis in India

Communities across India are under assault from Coca-Cola practices in the country. A pattern has emerged as a result of Coca-Cola's bottling operations in India.
  • Communities across India living around Coca-Cola's bottling plants are experiencing severe water shortages, directly as a result of Coca-Cola's massive extraction of water from the common groundwater resource. The wells have run dry and the hand water pumps do not work any more. Studies, including one by the Central Ground Water Board in India, have confirmed the significant depletion of the water table.
  • When the water is extracted from the common groundwater resource by digging deeper, the water smells and tastes strange. Coca-Cola has been indiscriminately discharging its waste water into the fields around its plant and sometimes into rivers, including the Ganges, in the area. The result has been that the groundwater has been polluted as well as the soil. Public health authorities have posted signs around wells and hand pumps advising the community that the water is unfit for human consumption.
  • In two communities, Plachimada and Mehdiganj, Coca-Cola was distributing its solid waste to farmers in the area as "fertilizer". Tests conducted by the BBC found cadmium and lead in the waste, effectively making the waste toxic waste. Coca-Cola stopped the practice of distributing its toxic waste only when ordered to do so by the state government.
  • Tests conducted by a variety of agencies, including the government of India, confirmed that Coca-Cola products contained high levels of pesticides, and as a result, the Parliament of India has banned the sale of Coca-Cola in its cafeteria. However, Coca-Cola not only continues to sell drinks laced with poisons in India (that could never be sold in the US and EU), it is also introducing new products in the Indian market. And as if selling drinks with DDT and other pesticides to Indians was not enough, one of Coca-Cola's latest bottling facilities to open in India, in Ballia, is located in an area with a severe contamination of arsenic in its groundwater.

Read more... )
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Jason Bellini on How Lobbyists Use Homeless Line Sitters

The wait to get a seat at an important congressional hearing can last days, but big time lobbyists have found a loophole: they're paying to have the homeless hold their places. Jason Bellini report...
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How I lost my health insurance at the hairstylist's

THEN you need to do this. The life you save may be your own. And I am really really NOT exaggerating, here.

More links here

“Progressive Block” Strategy: Is It Really Happening?

Mission Accomplished

via: Hullabaloo:

The Story of the Governor And IHSS(In-Home Supportive Services) As a result of all that they used wheelchairs to block the Governor's office over the budget cuts and demanded that the Governor find new sources of income

Why it is so hard to pass good legislation: This is how your government works

Hey Democrats!How Can We Believe You're Not Influenced By All The Money You Get From Insurance Companies? video at link

And the Washington Post occasionally does good journalism, like here: Familiar Players in Health Bill Lobbying Firms Are Enlisting Ex-Lawmakers, Aides

The nation's largest insurers, hospitals and medical groups have hired more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress in hopes of influencing their old bosses and colleagues, according to an analysis of lobbying disclosures and other records.

Nearly half of the insiders previously worked for the key committees and lawmakers, including Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), debating whether to adopt a public insurance option opposed by major industry groups. At least 10 others have been members of Congress, such as former House majority leaders Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.) and Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.), both of whom represent a New Jersey pharmaceutical firm.

The hirings are part of a record-breaking influence campaign by the health-care industry, which is spending more than $1.4 million a day on lobbying in the current fight, according to disclosure records. And even in a city where lobbying is a part of life, the scale of the effort has drawn attention. For example, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) doubled its spending to nearly $7 million in the first quarter of 2009, followed by Pfizer, with more than $6 million.

But its not just the money. Its the relationships

Suppressing your instinct to trust a former chief of staff and legislative director is a hard thing to do. Refusing to return the calls of favored staffers and colleagues goes against every social grain in our bodies. It should be easy to separate professional responsibilities and personal feelings. But it isn't.

Journalists consistently use this to our advantage: When you hear that someone is well-sourced, it generally means they have good personal relationships that make it more likely that insiders will tell them things. A big part of the job is leveraging social pressures to gain access to protected information. And, somewhat amazingly, it works. But the relationship between a journalist and a longtime source is nothing compared to the relationship between a senator and a longtime staffer. One of the secrets about lobbying in Washington is that money doesn't buy access. It buys people who already have access. And that makes it much more insidious.MORE

You CANNOT ignore this. This is going to affect you up close and personal for the rest of you life. Go hold your congress person's feet to the fire
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The person who leaked it was a lobbyist, just so you know...

Today's link-bait (it worked!) from Politico:

WashPost sells access, $25,000+
By: Mike Allen
July 2, 2009 08:04 AM EST

For $25,000 to $250,000, The Washington Post is offering lobbyists and association executives off-the-record, nonconfrontational access to "those powerful few" — Obama administration officials, members of Congress, and the paper’s own reporters and editors.
Thank you! Good day!
Really, what more do you need to know?
Here's some of the language of the offer:
"Underwriting Opportunity: An evening with the right people can alter the debate," says the one-page flier. "Underwrite and participate in this intimate and exclusive Washington Post Salon, an off-the-record dinner and discussion at the home of CEO and Publisher Katharine Weymouth. ... Bring your organization’s CEO or executive director literally to the table. Interact with key Obama administration and congressional leaders ...

"Spirited? Yes. Confrontational? No. The relaxed setting in the home of Katharine Weymouth assures it. What is guaranteed is a collegial evening, with Obama administration officials, Congress members, business leaders, advocacy leaders and other select minds typically on the guest list of 20 or less. ...

"Offered at $25,000 per sponsor, per Salon. Maximum of two sponsors per Salon. Underwriters’ CEO or Executive Director participates in the discussion. Underwriters appreciatively acknowledged in printed invitations and at the dinner. Annual series sponsorship of 11 Salons offered at $250,000 ... Hosts and Discussion Leaders ... Health-care reporting and editorial staff members of The Washington Post ... An exclusive opportunity to participate in the health-care reform debate among the select few who will actually get it done. ... A Washington Post Salon ... July 21, 2009 6:30 p.m."


Emptywheel wonders about the other side of the equation

Which members of Congress and the Administration have agreed to participate? Did they know of the payoffs the lobbyists will make to host the events? And did the politicians expect anything in return? Or will they just be able to order up some WaPo scolding every time citizens demand real health care reform of their elected representatives? In other words, what is clear from this is that the WaPo doesn't give a shit about neutrality, they care only about an illusion of "objectivity." But what remains unclear is the rest of the equation--just how the WaPo managed to insert itself as the facilitator between lobbyists and our government--and the gatekeeper chasing citizens away at the same time.MORE

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Insurance company insider reveals how the industry rips you off, and bribes congress to do their bidding, and how the media is too ignorant to cover it

TL: What insurance stories did reporters write most often?

They wrote brief stories for investors, but wouldn’t go into the details of the important facts and numbers—such as a company’s medical loss ratio, which tells the percentage of premium dollars that the insurers pay out in claims. This is a closely watched measure by investors and Wall Street analysts, because it tells them how well a for-profit company is meeting investors’ earnings expectations.

Did reporters ever ask about this?

I can’t recall a reporter ever probing how insurers manage to meet Wall Street’s expectations through medical management and claims practices, which are key ways to manipulate the medical loss ratio and dump unprofitable accounts. Not once was I asked by a reporter what happens to people who work for small and mid-sized companies that get “purged” by insurers because their employees’ claims were causing the insurer’s medical loss ratio to move in the wrong direction from an investor’s point of view. No one ever asked me about the human consequences of satisfying Wall Street. Most reporters are happy to do a superficial job.

How do companies manipulate the medical loss ratio?

They look at expensive claims of workers in small businesses who are insured by the company, and the claims of people in the individual market. If an employer-customer has an employee or two who has a chronic illness or needs expensive care, the claims for the employee will likely trigger a review. Common industry practice is to increase premiums so high that when such accounts come up for renewal, the employer has no choice but to reduce benefits, shop for another carrier, or stop offering benefits entirely. More and more have opted for the last alternative.

What tactics do they use in the individual market?

They rescind policies when a review indicates that an individual has filed a lot of expensive claims. They will look for conditions that were not disclosed on the application. Often the policy likely will be canceled and the individual left without coverage. Sometimes people aren’t aware that they have a pre-existing condition. It might be listed in the doctor’s notes but not discussed with the patient. MORE

But...but what about the reporters? Why dont they catch on? )
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Going To Hell In A Local Rather Than An Express Handbasket

The unemployment figures for may show a loss of 345,000 jobs and a 9.4% unemployment rate. You can plot this on a graph and make it look preferable to the previous six months of extreme losses, and it is. But Felix Salmon notes:

Remember the stress tests? The baseline scenario had unemployment in 2009 at 8.4%, rising to 8.9% under the more adverse scenario. Well, we’re only up to May, and already it’s at 9.4%.

To be clear, the adverse scenario in the stress test was supposed to be the worst things could possibly get. If we've blown past that, the banks will face more losses and write-downs than suggested by the adverse scenario. More people out of work means more foreclosures, less consumer spending, higher deficits, etc. This is but one of the ways where the banksters are making themselves out to be healthier than they are.MORE

The Democratic Industrial Complex

If big business's old legislative strategy was centered on relentless opposition to progressive initiatives--an approach that continues in areas like EFCA--the new strategy is to subvert legislation through co-optation, as in healthcare and cap and trade. By converting themselves, ostensibly, from opponents to "partners," corporate lobbies are trying to have it both ways: to block reforms while changing overt power struggles over the future of the economy into seemingly cooperative negotiations. At these negotiations, to use the president's favorite phrase, "everyone has a seat at the table"--except, the lobbyists get by far the best seats. (Alinsky didn't have much patience for this approach. "This liberal cliché about reconciliation of opposing forces is a load of crap," he once said. "When one side gets enough power, then the other side gets reconciled to it.")

These efforts at co-optation are aided by our natural inclination toward narrative and fable. It is pretty irresistible to view politics through the lens of heroes and villains. Palin is a character; the ABA is just an acronym


Despite all the hype about the Obama campaign's tremendous online fundraising, the fact is that it also collected unprecedented massive amounts of corporate cash, as did all the campaigns. And that corporate cash is represented by lobbyists who are so much a part of the fabric of the political system that they function as staff members in the congress and kitchen cabinet in the administration. (Indeed, one of the most interesting tidbits of information I heard was that despite the fact that there are many progressive committee chairmen, they are almost all pretty conservative on the issues their committees oversee. Now why would that be do you suppose?)MORE

Supporting the Public Plan AKA Example No. One

The insurance lobby has had multiple tactics for stopping the public option idea, which they despise because they know if regular folks have choice to go to a public option, insurance companies won't have the same ability to treat their customers like garbage when they get sick. The first tactic was just to try to kill the public option outright, and the good news is that they appear to have failed at that. This so-called trigger proposal is the second tactic: the idea is to write a "trigger" that will allow for a public option only under certain conditions, but write the legislation so that those conditions would never get met in the real world. It's a classic DC tactic, right up there with calling for a commission to study something. Olympia Snowe is carrying the insurance industry water on their trigger proposal, proposing triggers that would only get tripped in some fairyland none of us have ever visited.

The great thing for the insurance companies in a tactic like this is that it gives "centrist" Senators (centrist in Washington, DC usually means those who have taken massive amounts of campaign contributions from the affected industry) an excuse to help the insurance industry while looking like they are open to the public option that their constituents have been demanding.
Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress have gotten some good things done so far, and are building real momentum in getting us moving in the right direction on health care. But if conservative Democrats force the adoption of the trigger, it will destroy Democratic unity and doom health care reform, because progressives will start attacking Democrats rather than insurance companies. We really are at a critical moment.WHat to do?

And this would be why I don't deal much with the corporate media:
Sweet Beat

This story
about Richard Wolffe's coverage of the Obama campaign is more than a little bit snotty and frankly not surprising. I knew he was writing a campaign book about Obama and his coverage of the candidate reflected his need for access --- and his access. He was clearly not objective, but then neither was Fox News. It all came out fairnbalanced, village style.

But this is just sickening:
Wolffe also continues to write and report for Tina Brown’s Daily Beast, and to offer his opinions on MSNBC, which identifies him as a political analyst, though he said he won’t talk about issues related to the firm’s clients.

And he suggested he’s not that different from other reporters in an era in which the business and the profession of journalism have gotten closer and closer.

“The idea that journalists are somehow not engaged in corporate activities is not really in touch with what’s going on. Every conversation with journalists is about business models and advertisers,” he said, recalling that, on the day after the 2008 election, Newsweek sent him to Detroit to deliver a speech to advertisers.

“You tell me where the line is between business and journalism,” he said.


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So. Cramdown Legislation. Senator Dick Durbin introduced legislation that would :

Under the provision, a judge would be able to lower the principal of homeowner’s mortgage and the interest rate and extend the terms of the mortgage, a process known as a “cramdown.” Judges are already allowed to do this for vacation rentals but not a borrower’s primary residence.

12 democrats joined with the Republican Senators in voting it down
- 12 Democrats (listed here) voted against allowing bankruptcy judges to compel banks to renegotiate mortgage terms so as to prevent homeowners from being foreclosed on and thrown out of their homes.
- Bankruptcy judges currently have this "cramdown" power to renegotiate mortgage terms on vacation homes and investment properties.
- Vacation homes and investment properties are disproportionately owned by very rich people.
QUESTION 1: Out of the hundreds of professional "journalists" who work in Washington, can someone - anyone - please ask these 12 Democratic senators why they believe it is perfectly fine for bankruptcy judges to cram down mortgages for very rich people's vacation homes and investment properties, but not mortgages for regular people's homes? IMHO, this is the most important question, especially because none of these 12 Democratic senators are sponsoring legislation to repeal the law that gives judges cram down power to help rich people.

Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher tells us how the lobbyists did it:with taxpayers money from TARP

The House passed the badly needed Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights yesterday, but they passed cramdown, too. We successfully fought off the efforts of the Mortgage Bankers Association, the American Bankers Association and other lobbyists to work through Ellen Tauscher and the New Democrats to tank it, but that just means the banks shifted their focus to the Senate, where they were wholly successful. And they plan to do the same thing for the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights.MORE

See also Who are the Mortgage Banker Association (and what have they done with our country?)

Mortgage Bankers Celebrate Victory

Interesting articles: How Corporate Personhood Threatens Democracy

Morning Feature: Shoot, Ready, Aim ... at Corporate 'Persons' Part One

Installing a Conscience in Corporate 'Persons' Part Two

Sacling Down Corporate 'Persons' Part Three


Apr. 23rd, 2009 12:54 am
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Dow-sponsored Walleye Fest to donate contaminated fish to the poor

Despite advisories that warn people to avoid contact with river sediments and consuming locally caught fish, thousands are expected to participate this weekend in a Dow Chemical-sponsored walleye festival along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, where the watershed has been contaminated with harmful dioxin and other toxic substances. And just as the Michigan Department of Community Health is warning that children and pre-menopausal women should mostly avoid eating river fish including walleye because of contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin, organizers of the festival say they plan to donate walleye fillets to a local food bank.

It is breeding season for walleye. The fish are swimming from Saginaw Bay, up the Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers, through a zone that some insist should be listed as a Superfund site. In 2007 the highest level of dioxin contamination ever measured by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was found in the Saginaw River prompting emergency clean up. Other dioxin remediation projects are ongoing. The entire span of the river used for the walleye festival is known to be contaminated with dioxin from chemical manufacturing operations at Dow Chemical’s Midland plant.MORE
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via: la vida locavore

The Food Lobby Goes to School

Who decides what our children are eating?
To a large degree, it is the Federal Government. Congress and the Department of Agriculture approve what foods can (and can't) be served to over 30 million American school children who get daily meals from the National School Lunch Program.

The government gets a ton of pressure from a food and beverage industry frantic to keep kids hooked on a diet of sodas, snacks and hot dogs. The competition, for a piece of this $10 billion market, is particularly fierce right now because this year, the School Lunch Program is being reviewed and revised.

Despite the enormous nutritional and financial stakes at play, ANP was the only media to cover a recent panel set up to discuss the school menu. While nutritionists outnumbered the press, corporate lobbyists outnumbered everyone.

Coincidentally, this article was released in the New York Times today:

No lunch Left behind

THIS new era of government bailouts and widespread concern over wasteful spending offers an opportunity to take a hard look at the National School Lunch Program. Launched in 1946 as a public safety net, it has turned out to be a poor investment. It should be redesigned to make our children healthier.

Under the program, the United States Department of Agriculture gives public schools cash for every meal they serve — $2.57 for a free lunch, $2.17 for a reduced-price lunch and 24 cents for a paid lunch. In 2007, the program cost around $9 billion, a figure widely acknowledged as inadequate to cover food costs. But what most people don’t realize is that very little of this money even goes toward food. Schools have to use it to pay for everything from custodial services to heating in the cafeteria.

On top of these reimbursements, schools are entitled to receive commodity foods that are valued at a little over 20 cents per meal. The long list of options includes high-fat, low-grade meats and cheeses and processed foods like chicken nuggets and pizza. Many of the items selected are ready to be thawed, heated or just unwrapped — a necessity for schools without kitchens. Schools also get periodic, additional “bonus” commodities from the U.S.D.A., which pays good money for what are essentially leftovers from big American food producers. MORE
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The Small Arms Trade

Dealing and Wheeling in Small Arms, a new documentary from Sander Francken, explores the world of small weapon’s dealers and how weapons used by the United Nations and NATO in places like the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere are “recycled” throughout the developing world, especially Africa. There are no international regulations governing the trade in small arms and, according to Francken, there are some 840,000 small arms circulating worldwide.

A Movement in Oaxaca

In 2006, New York reporter and activist Brad Will was killed by paramilitaries in Oaxaca, where he was covering a teachers’ strike. Since the strike--demanding higher salaries and free books for all students--the movement has expanded but the violence hasn’t stopped. Tami Gold, in her film Land, Rain and Fire looks at the impact of NAFTA, privatization, and land appropriation on the people of the region. The teachers union has continued to oppose the privatization of public education in the midst of severe repression.

US Empire and the Conflict in Israel/Palestine

Why Palestine? It’s hard to overstate the significance of Israel/Palestine to global politics. Some say that Barack Obama’s success or failure will be judged on whether a resolution to the conflict is reached during his presidency. For others the issue has deep moral resonance. As an indication of the fault lines in America, Hampshire College’s recent decision to divest from companies that do business with Israel has been both repudiated and celebrated as a major breakthrough.
Ali Abunimah, editor and founder of The Electronic Intifada says that Palestine matters precisely because it is the site of the last Western colonial project in the Third World and that opposition to Israel is also opposition to US hegemony in the region.
Abunimah, Brian Van Slyke of Hampshire College’s Students for Justice in Palestine, Kanwal-Shazia Chaudhry a Doctor in Brooklyn who recently traveled to Gaza with the American Medical Mission to Gaza, and Hannah Mermelstein, co-founder of Birthright Unplugged take on the question of why Palestine matters.
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Burger King Bailout Shocker

Goldman Sachs, where former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson was once CEO, switched from an investment bank to a bank holding company last year so it could qualify for $10 billion in bailout funds. They then spent $6.8 billion on bonuses for their financial staff. Goldman's recklessness is one of several scandalous stories of Wall Street giants abusing the bailout at the expense of taxpayers and the economy. But in this case, Goldman's excessive spending has had an immediate and profound impact on the American work force.

Who's Keeping Burger King Workers Below the Poverty Line?

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Wage Theft

In the aftermath of Hurricane's Katrina and Ike federal money was set aside for the rebuilding of the Gulf Coast. What you may not know is that the Bush administration, at the same time, suspended regulations guaranteeing that federal employees receive a minimum wage. According to Kim Bobo, the author of Wage Theft in America, billions of dollars are stolen from workers every year, not only in times of crisis. And there are few incentives for employers to obey the law.
Roughly 2 million American workers are not paid a minimum wage. And some 3 million are mis-classified as independent contractors instead of employees and millions more are illegally denied overtime pay. As the recession deepens and the government pledges to create jobs will they be jobs that pay a livable wage?
GRITtv speaks to Kim Bobo, Cathy Ruckelshaus, Litigation Director for the National Employment Law Project, Terri Gerstein, Deputy Commissioner for Wages and Immigrants at the New York State Department of Labor, and Deborah Axt of Make the Road New York.

The F Word: Caterpillar And Obama

President Barack Obama, campaigning for his economic plan in East Peoria, Illinois, visited machinery giant Caterpillar Inc. where he said laid-off workers would be re-hired if Congress approved a sweeping stimulus bill.
The President visited Caterpillar's plant Thursday on the very same day that Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, became the first US college or university to divest from Caterpillar, along with five other companies involved in the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Caterpillar provides the Israeli military with bulldozers that have been used to demolish thousands of Palestinian homes and orchards and build settlements and roads, and what Israelis call a Security Fence, but Palestinians call the apartheid Wall.
For years, international activists have called for a boycott of Caterpillar products, which include heavy equipment but also jackets and shoes. And one US family has brought a suit against the company charging them with complicity in human rights crimes. On March 16, 2003, US activist Rachel Corrie was crushed under bulldozer supplied by Caterpillar, as she tried to block its path towards a Palestinian home in Gaza...Rachel's father Craig Corrie joined us earlier today with this message to the president:

War Profiteering

Even as congress denies billions in assistance to states, there is little if any talk of cutting US defense spending. Since the end of the Second World War, when Dwight Eisenhower warned of the ever expanding military industrial complex, military spending has been linked to the nation's economic well-being. In times of prosperity and economic distress, defense spending is pushed as economic stimulus. And it's a bipartisan affliction. But who benefits and what is their interest in maintaining a war time economy?
On GRITtv Pratap Chatterjee, the author of Halliburton's Army and Managing Editor of Corpwatch, Eugene Jarecki, documentary filmmaker and director of the acclaimed Why We Fight, and Scott Ritter the author of Target Iran examine the business of war and why stimulus and star wars are so hard to separate.
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The Politics of Hunger

Some 36 million Americans do not have enough to eat. Globally, the number of people considered hungry is close to one billion, what the UN has called a breaking point. And even as oil prices have come down the global food crisis continues to worsen. So what's driving the crisis at home and abroad?

Joel Berg, the author of All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America? Arun Gupta, Editor of The IndypendentMax Fraad Wolff, an economist and freelance writer, and Kathy Ozer Executive Director of the National Family Farm Coalition discuss possible solutions.

Other Lands Have Dreams: An Interview with Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly, the author of Other Lands Have Dreams and a co-founder of Voices for Creative Non-Violence, discusses her recent trip to Gaza. As the United States continues to supply Israel with billions in weapons and military hardware the public remains largely in the dark as to how those weapons are used. A tenuous ceasefire may have been reached in Gaza but the violence hasn’t stopped. What can be done? Kelly, who has been an advocate of non-violent resistance for decades, shares her stories.
The F Word: It’s not the Lobbying, it’s the Agreeing!
Now it's official: Mark Patterson, a former Goldman Sachs lobbyist, will be the new Treasury Secretary's chief of staff despite Barack Obama's supposedly strict new rules on lobbying and ethics. Patterson lobbied for Goldman from 2005 until April of last year on a whole host of issues including credit default swaps, credit rating agencies, and sovereign wealth funds, the bank-driven deregulation of which brought us to the current debacle. Now Patterson will be the point person on who gains access to the Treasury Sec's ear. But Patterson is hardly the heart of the problem. Geithner's ear is. To give a bit of background. Geithner's first job was with Kissinger Associates, where he worked with the former Secretary of State. From there, he went to the U.S. Treasury Department, where he rose in esteem and became an aide to Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin -- two pro-bank, pro-deregulation Treasury Secretaries. MORE


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