Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for August 17th, 2011

The Murdoch Stasi

Posted by Charles II on August 17, 2011

One of the things that is most troubling about the United States is that it is possible for a corporation to keep a person from working–and reduce them to destitution– purely because they have annoyed the corporation. How can the American people call ourselves “free” or a “democracy,” if people work under the sword of Damocles known as blacklisting?

Ed Pilkington, The Guardian:

Five years ago Robert Emmel was enjoying the American dream. He lived in a detached house in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, drove a BMW, and earned $140,000 a year as an accounts director in a highly successful advertising company called News America Marketing.

Today, Emmel is described by his lawyers as destitute. Jobless and in debt, he was discharged from bankruptcy last year. …

This is a cautionary tale about what can happen to someone who dares to become a corporate whistleblower. Or, more specifically, someone who incurs the wrath of News Corporation, the media empire owned by Rupert Murdoch, of which News America forms a part.

News Corp has devoted the efforts of up to 29 lawyers to pursuing Emmel personally, at a cost estimated at more than $2m. Emmel, by contrast, has relied on two lawyers, Hilder and Marc Garber in Atlanta, working for no pay since January 2009.

Attention has been focused on News Corporation’s activities in the UK, where the News of the World phone-hacking scandal has led to the arrest of 10 people associated with the company. In the US, oversight of News Corp is gathering pace …

Emmel was one of the main witnesses for Floorgraphics at a subsequent trial against his old company. He worked for News America for seven years from 1999 to 2006, turning whistleblower in his final year there.

He alleged that News America was engaging in “criminal conduct against competitors” and using “deceptive and illegal business practices” to defraud its retailer customers out of money owed.

Emmel provided documents to a Grassley staffer, Nicholas Podsiadly, who told him that the Judiciary Committee was considering making a referral to DoJ… and apparently did nothing. Emmel has survived the constant pursuit by News America and been exonerated of wrongdoing at every stage. Now, as it becomes ever more clear that Emmel was an honest citizen trying to report a crime by a criminal enterprise, this country needs to step forward and support him.

There are too many people like Tom Emmel in this oh-so-free country. One goal of our efforts at reform must be to ensure that corporations–or the government itself–never again have the power to deprive a person of work, especially when that person is trying to stop lawbreaking.

As an aside, Scott Horton has another blockbuster story about Alabama Governor Bob Riley abusing the power of his office, just as he did in the Siegelman case, to falsely accuse people of crimes in order to achieve a political objective.


Posted in blacklisting, evil, Media machine, Rupert Murdoch | 4 Comments »

Pipe (bad) dream: the Fukushima meltdown

Posted by Charles II on August 17, 2011

David McNeill and Jake Adelstein, The London Independent:

The Independent has spoken to several workers at the [Fukushima nuclear] plant who recite the same story: serious damage, to piping and at least one of the reactors, occurred before the tsunami hit.

“Someone yelled that we all needed to evacuate. But I was severely alarmed because as I was leaving I was told and I could see that several pipes had cracked open, including what I believe were cold water supply pipes. That would mean that coolant couldn’t get to the reactor core. If you can’t sufficiently get the coolant to the core, it melts down….”

The reason for official reluctance to admit that the earthquake did direct structural damage to reactor one is obvious. Katsunobu Onda, author of Tepco: The Dark Empire, explains it this way: A government or industry admission “raises suspicions about the safety of every reactor they run. They are using a number of antiquated reactors that have the same systematic problems, the same wear and tear on the piping.” Earthquakes, of course, are commonplace in Japan.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former nuclear plant designer, describes what occurred on 11 March as a loss-of-coolant accident. “The data that Tepco has made public shows a huge loss of coolant within the first few hours of the earthquake. It can’t be accounted for by the loss of electrical power. There was already so much damage to the cooling system that a meltdown was inevitable long before the tsunami came.”

Every single plant built on the Mark I design needs to be shut down. Same for every plant of any design built in an earthquake prone region. And it needs to be done now.

Posted in energy, environment, Japan, nukes | Comments Off on Pipe (bad) dream: the Fukushima meltdown

Remember When Argentina Was The World’s Biggest Fiscal Basketcase?

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 17, 2011

Remember when Argentina was officially the World’s Biggest Fiscal Basketcase?

Remember when, in the 1990s and early ’00s, its being reduced to penury was big news (though the reason therefor — namely, its trying to follow the IMF ‘austerity’ aka kill-the-poor plan — was soft-pedaled when it was mentioned at all by the mainstream US press)?

Haven’t heard much about it lately on the nightly TV or radio drive-time news, have you?

That’s because it showed that standing up to the IMF (and for the masses) is not only survivable, but essential — and politically popular. A lesson that was reinforced yet again recently:

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Center-left Argentine President Cristina Fernandez looks set to win a second term in October and deepen her interventionist policies after thrashing rivals in a primary election, results showed on Monday.

With almost all of the votes counted, Fernandez had just over 50 percent support — 38 percentage points ahead of her closest contenders, centrist congressman Ricardo Alfonsin and former President Eduardo Duhalde.

Sunday’s primary vote was effectively a nationwide opinion poll because the parties had already chosen their candidates and voters could cast ballots for any of them.

Fernandez has rankled Wall Street by imposing price controls, nationalizing private pension funds and publishing inflation data far below private estimates.

But Argentine voters put her on track for a first-round triumph on October 23, when she will need just over 45 percent support to win outright.

What’s not mentioned is that the “nationalized” pensions had been privatized in the 1990s at the behest of the IMF — a move that not only increased the debt and beggared pensioners, but kicked the Argentine economy over into full-blown depression. But of course neoliberalism and austerity can never fail, according to our ruling elites; it can only be failed.

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

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