Here’re some of the more interesting news items I saw today. Please feel free to add others that caught your attention but that I may have missed.
❖As TMP’s headline says: “Workers Left Behind: CHART: 40 Years of Shocking Income Inequality.” Yessirree, letting “Reagan be Reagan” sure got us working people into a painful slump while the owners enjoyed record profits, even super-profits, as a result of labor’s impressive productivity.
❖There’re profits, super-profits, and just plain cheating. Wal-Mart has “agreed to pay $4.8m in back wages and damages to thousands of employees for unpaid overtime after a probe by the U.S. Department of Labor”, and to “also pay $463,815 in civil fines.” Wal-Mart claimed it thought those employees were exempt from overtime, though they were not. Apparently, 3700 in two different job categories are involved–about 1700 Asset Protection Coordinators are eligible for an average $290 in back pay and about 2000 Vision Center Managers for an average of $2300.
❖When it rains it pours, Wal-Mart edition. “A group of New York City pension funds, alarmed over allegations of widespread bribery by company officials in Mexico, said they would vote against reelecting five Wal-Mart Directors.” Those pension funds hold 4.7 million Wal-Mart shares and will be voting in the retail giant’s annual shareholders meeting next month.
❖Almost 74% food preparation workers in the U.S. receive wages below the federal poverty level, followed by 57% of those in personal care jobs, 54% in building maintenance, 45% in health support, 42% in sales and so on. The ten states with the largest proportions of workers earning wages below the fpl are (in descending order): MS, TN, AR, AL, TX, LA, KY, ID, MT and OK. African-Americans represent 15% of the total workforce, but they account for almost 24% of those in poverty-wage jobs. More here.
❖Far away from fpl wages: UK’s The Guardian has taken an “exclusive first look at the research by GMI Ratings [which] reveals that rising share prices helped drive a 15% pay hike for the average US CEO in 2011, with the average compensation package hitting $5.8m.”
❖”The Official Bankster Dictionary” is here. Just scroll down a tad.
❖Say this with a pouty face: It was just too hard. Fannie Mae ran a small pilot program “to reduce loan balances of homeowners who owned [sic] more on their mortgages than the properties were worth in 2010.” Apparently, the pilot program was “difficult to operate and the benefits weren’t clear . . . “, so they abandoned it.
❖They keep jumping ship, matey. “The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) has cut ties with the American Legislative Exchange Council [ALEC]. . ..”
❖Romanians have had it, too. Victor Ponta, expected to be named Prime Minister by the Romanian Parliament on May 7, is “vowing to fight ‘injustices’ caused by austerity measures . . ..” Ponta’s Social Liberal Union will be assuming power following the ouster last week of the center-right coalition which was in office for only two months. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for November, giving Ponta six months to demonstrate how well he can tackle the negative consequences of Austerity.
❖Marine Le Pen, the far-right politician who got almost 18% of the vote in the first round of France’s current elections cycle, has refused to endorse either Hollande or Sarkozy. Sarkozy was hoping to attract some of her supporters in his close race with Hollande.
❖Say what? FL governor Rick Scott signed a bill that supposedly would crack down on companies in the state doing business with Cuba or Syria. While engaged in a hearty celebration party, Republicans learned that Scott had also “issued a letter that essentially declared the law unenforceable.” Turns out the law was troublesome to the FL Chamber of Commerce and multi-national corps. One Repub congressmen is now “ready to take the governor to court.”
❖More from FL. As you probably remember from last week, Tampa’s City Council requested Gov. Rick Scott to use his authority to limit guns in the city during the up-coming Republican Convention here. Rick has refused.
❖The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower court ruling and has blocked Jose Padilla’s suit against John Yoo. Apparently, the court “found it was unclear at the time of Yoo’s tenure that designated enemy combatants were entitled to the same constitutional protections as other accused criminals . . . [and that] Padilla’s treatment amounted to torture” at that time.
❖Enter the Deeply Creepy Zone. The Pentagon’s DARPA is concentrating on brain research in an effort is to determine how to manipulate people’s mental state so they will become more, well, accepting. One social psychologist, Tom Pyszczynski, responded this way, “We’re not going to be able to go in and zap people’s amygdalae or anesthetize them to do whatever. . . . We’re . . . going to need to stop doing things that people interpret as insulting or challenging to their way of life.” Drone attacks that kill and maim innocent people, including children, come to mind.
❖Somehow, I doubt this will be accepted. “DEA apologizes to student left handcuffed in holding cell without food or water” for nearly five days. Edgar Allan Poe was one of the few who might be able to do this story justice.
❖Medicare fraud. The feds have charged “more than 100 doctors, nurses and social workers in seven cities with Medicare fraud . . ..” Apparently, these fraudsters accounted for $450m of the $60b – $90b in Medicare fraud per year.
❖Grrrrrrrrrrr! “Banned for indoor use since 2001, the effects of the common insecticide known as chlorpyrifos can still be found in the brains of young children now approaching puberty.” MRIs have shown that children exposed while in utero “had persistent changes in their brains throughout childhood.” The chemical is still used in U.S. agriculture. As mom always said, be sure to wash all fruits and vegetables.
❖More Grrrrrrrrr! “New Study Predicts Frack Fluids Can Migrate to Aquifers Within Years”. Previously, scientists thought that those “impermeable layers of rock” would contain the fluids. But new computer modeling seriously questions that assumption. And who, pray, thought of running tests?