Category Archives: Corruption

Scientists have found oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout in fishes’ livers and on the deep ocean floor

Researchers use Atlantic mackerel for bait on long-lining fishing sampling expeditions in the Gulf of Mexico.. C-IMAGE Consortium, CC BY-ND

Steven Murawski, University of South Florida and Sherryl Gilbert, University of South Florida

Over the decade since the Deepwater Horizon spill, thousands of scientists have analyzed its impact on the Gulf of Mexico. The spill affected many different parts of the Gulf, from coastal marshes to the deep sea.

At the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystem, or C-IMAGE at the University of South Florida, marine scientists have been analyzing these effects since 2011. C-IMAGE has received funding from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative – a broad, independent research program initially funded by a US$500 million grant from BP, the company held principally responsible for the spill. Continue reading

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Espionage and repression in the Middle East courtesy of the West

Western companies are providing surveillance tools to authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

By Jon Hoffman.  Published 5-13-2020 by openDemocracy

Cellphone tower | Picture by Peter Bjorndal / pixabay.com. Public Domain

Regime-directed surveillance has taken new forms within the Middle East as governments have been forced to adapt to new technological and social environments. While government surveillance of its citizens is not new to the region, this old authoritarian impulse has been revamped in the attempt to subvert opposition and monitor dissidence amid widespread use of social media and access to smartphones within the region.

New forms of targeted hackings and espionage have therefore become commonplace throughout the region, and often extend across borders into the international arena. Western companies, governments, and individuals have provided extensive assistance to the surveillance efforts of these governments, often by supplying them with the necessary technology and expertise needed to conduct such sweeping operations. However, regional countries – particularly Israel – have increasingly constructed and exported their own indigenous operations and platforms designed to surveil their publics. Conducted on a mass scale and bolstered by western technological support, these new and sophisticated forms of surveillance have supplied these governments with the tools necessary to go on the offensive against all who seek to challenge the status quo. Continue reading

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‘Shameful Does Not Even Begin to Describe’ Trump EPA Decision on Chemical Known to Damage Children’s Brains

“Yet another abdication of duty by those that are entrusted with protecting Americans from needless and preventable harm.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-15-2020

The EPA signaled Thursday it will not regulate perchlorate, a chemical used in rocket fuel, in drinking water. (Photo: wonderisland/Shutterstock)

Environmental campaigners vowed to fight President Donald Trump’s EPA Thursday after the agency said it would propose that the rocket-fuel chemical perchlorate does not need to be regulated, despite its links to cognitive damage in fetal and child development.

According to the New York Times, the EPA plans to tell the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that it is “not in the public interest” to regulate the chemical at all, a year after the agency recommended the allowable amount in drinking water be limited to 56 parts per billion (ppb). Continue reading

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American Weapons Manufacturers Are Thriving Even as the US Economy Suffers

Washington has made it a priority to radically overhaul the military in double time, designating weapons manufacturers as “essential” services during the pandemic.

By Alan Macleod.  Published 5-13-2020 by MintPress News

Photo: U.S. Air Force/Brad Fallin)

The economy has crashed. A nationwide pandemic that has (officially) claimed some 84,000 Americans has also resulted in an estimated 36 million filing for unemployment insurance and millions frequenting food banks for the first time. Yet business is booming for one unlikely industry; weapons manufacturers are busier than ever and are even advertising for tens of thousands of more workers.

Northrop Grumman announced that it was planning to hire up to 10,000 more employees this year. Airlines are being hit particularly hard, as the number of people flying on commercial planes has cratered. Raytheon, who supplies parts to civilian aircraft manufacturers, has lost a great deal of business. Yet it is still advertising 2,000 new jobs in the military wing of its business. Boeing, who endured a torrid 2019, with multiple high-profile crashes of its 737 MAX-8 airliner, is preparing to lay off ten percent of its staff as airlines predict a long and sustained drop in air travel. Nevertheless, it is looking to add hundreds of new workers in its defense, intelligence, and cybersecurity departments. Continue reading

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If This ‘Doesn’t Give You Chills I Don’t Know What Will’: McConnell Patriot Act Expansion Would Hand AG Barr Unprecedented Spy Powers

“These amendments would pretty much guarantee the ability of an incumbent administration to spy on its political opponents without consequence.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-13-2020

Graphic by Claudio Cabrera

Sen. Ron Wyden was joined by privacy advocates Wednesday in forcefully condemning a new proposed amendment to the PATRIOT Act put forward by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that would greatly expand the U.S. attorney general’s surveillance powers under FISA.

McConnell’s amendment, which the Senate began debating Wednesday as lawmakers took up the reauthorization of the 2001 PATRIOT Act, would explicitly permit the FBI to collect records of Americans’ internet search and browsing histories without a warrant. It would also mandate that Attorney General William Barr, and his successors, conduct an annual review of the FBI’s submissions into the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. Continue reading

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Again Finding US Permit Invalid, Federal Court Upholds Block on ‘Climate-Busting’ Keystone XL Construction

Again Finding US Permit Invalid, Federal Court Upholds Block on ‘Climate-Busting’ Keystone XL Construction

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-12-2020

“Bedrock laws that protect our water and the livelihoods of farmers, ranchers, tribal members, and rural communities cannot simply be ignored as the court recognized again today,” said Dena Hoff, a Northern Plains Resource Council member and a farmer in Montana. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

A federal judge on Monday denied the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ request to amend his earlier ruling regarding TC Energy’s Keystone XL pipeline, reaffirming that a permit issued by the Army Corps was invalid.

Chief U.S. District Judge Brian Morris ruled again that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) violated the Endangered Species Act when it issued Nationwide Permit 12, which allows companies to construct energy projects at water crossings. Continue reading

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‘Conflicts of Interest Abound’: Progressives Sound Alarm as BlackRock Prepares to Lead the Fed’s Covid-19 Corporate Bailout Program

“We cannot afford to allow the interests of private corporations to supersede the needs of the American people and the long-term stability of our economy.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-11-2020

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. Screenshot: CNBC

BlackRock, the largest asset management firm on the planet, has for years faced criticism and protests from progressives over its massive investments in fossil fuelsprivate prisons, and the arms industry—and now the financial behemoth is set to take on a leading role in the Federal Reserve’s sprawling coronavirus bailout program.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that BlackRock—which manages over $7 trillion in assets—will in the coming days help the central bank funnel “money into both new and already-issued corporate bonds, assisting the Fed in its recently adopted role as lender of last resort for businesses.” Continue reading

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‘The Next Crisis’: Up to 43 Million Americans Could Lose Health Insurance Due to Pandemic, Study Shows

“The American healthcare financing system was not built to withstand the combined impact of a pandemic and a recession.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-10-2020

Analysts project that 43 million Americans could lose their insurance when the unemployment rate hits 20%. According to the Department of Labor, the current unemployment rate is 14.7%. (Photo: Elvert Barnes/Flickr/cc)

Medicare for All advocates on Sunday pointed to the latest study on the looming health insurance crisis already becoming apparent amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to job losses for more than 33 million people in the past two months.

Because health insurance is tied to employment for about half the country—160 million people—as many as 43 million are expected to lose their health insurance due to the pandemic, according to a new report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Urban Institute. Continue reading

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US Blocks UN Global Ceasefire Resolution, Objecting to Indirect Reference to World Health Organization

“It’s bad enough that Trump is responsible for so many deaths in his own country, now he is actively complicit in causing even more across the globe.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-9-2020

The U.S. blocked a U.N. global ceasefire resolution amid the global pandemic on Friday, objecting to language that even indirectly praised the World Health Organization. (Photo: via EuroYankee)

International diplomats were stunned and frustrated Friday night after the U.S. again blocked a United Nations resolution to call for a global ceasefire during the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. objected to any mention of the World Health Organization (WHO) in the resolution. President Donald Trump has claimed WHO withheld information from world governments about the coronavirus, and that the global health agency was privy to information about the virus originating in a lab in China. Continue reading

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Pelosi Support for Corporate Lobbyist Bailout Denounced as ‘Dumbest Political Maneuver You Could Possibly Make Right Now’

“Pelosi has run the House of Representatives by fiat for close to two months, and there hasn’t been a single word of protest as she locks every other member of the Democratic caucus out of policymaking.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 5-7-2020

Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has thrown her support behind a proposal to allow corporate lobbying groups to receive bailout money from a Covid-19 relief program meant for small businesses, a move one critic bluntly described as the “dumbest political maneuver you could possibly make right now.”

During a webinar with small business representatives on Tuesday, Pelosi said the next coronavirus relief package will include a change to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that would permit 501(c)(6) organizations to receive forgivable taxpayer loans. Continue reading

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