Apr 2, 2011

Thom Hartmann: Must see! The TRUE story of the Tea Party

Really interesting history! Must hear and see... Monte

"Koch Brothers Exposed"

Robert Greenwald discusses his latest film and campaign "Koch Brothers Exposed" with Thom Hartmann. Get the latest with a free Koch Brothers Exposed video subscription:http://goo.gl/HSCyS

Springtime 2011 Hines Farm - Springtime Beauty - Tom Turkeys on The Move!

Recurring sight from our living room window

Groups of Wild Turkeys have been very active on farm the past 3 weeks. Never get enough of the Tom's dance ritual, with the fanned tail! ... Monte & Eileen

Koch-Funded Climate Skeptic's Own Data Confirms Warming

climate-skeptic-koch.jpgGraph via Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature
This week, a climate hearing was held in the US House of Reps. Six 'experts' on climate were brought in, but only three were scientists. And it turns out that one of the GOP's star witnesses -- a scientist who's been vocal in his skepticism of global temperature records, the physicist Richard Muller, of University of California, Berkeley, didn't quite help them disprove climate change. Quite the opposite, in fact.

GOOD reports on what's got to be my favorite anecdote from the climate hearings. But first, some background:
[Richard] Muller has been working on an independent project to better estimate the planet's surface temperatures over time. Because he is willing to say publicly that he has some doubts about the accuracy of the temperature stations that most climate models are based on, he has been embraced by the science denying crowd. A Koch brothers charity, for example, has donated nearly 25 percent of the financial support provided to Muller's project.
Skeptics of climate science have been licking their lips waiting for his latest research, which they hoped would undermine the data behind basic theories of anthropogenic climate change. At the hearing today, however, Muller threw them for a loop with this graph ...
That's the one above.
As you can see -- and more importantly, as Muller himself has come to believe -- the established data collected by temperature stations around the world are accurate. Muller's independent work confirms that the data on which the majority of the best climate models rely upon is actually quite good.
Which is why it must have pissed off the GOP Reps, who were counting on him to offer testimony skeptical of climate change, when he announced the following: "We see a global warming trend that is very similar to that previously reported by the other groups. The world temperature data has sufficient integrity to be used to determine global temperature trends."
In other words, Muller's Koch-funded project, which skeptics had hoped would call into question the validity of the data backing the projections of climate models, instead provided even further evidence yet that they are correct. There's even better reason to believe that the climate models are accurate than there was before. It's science, folks.
More on Global Climate Change 97% of Climate Scientists Agree: Humans are Causing Global Warming ... Why Are The Republicans The World's Only Major Political Party That Deny Climate Change? The Global Climate : Yes, It's Still Warming

Is a Pesticide Harming All Those Bees? - NYTimes.com

Bees in a healthy hive in the hills near Missoula, Mont.By FELICITY BARRINGER Mike Albans for The New York Times Bees in a healthy hive in the hills near Missoula, Mont. For several years, Tom Theobald, a beekeeper in Boulder, Colo., has been trying to check out his suspicions that a relatively new class of pesticides has been interfering with the normal breeding and development of his stock. The pesticides, based on the chemistry of nicotine, are generically called neonicotinoids. They are applied to seeds of crops like corn and soybeans. When the plants grow, the pesticides, which have been marketed under the names Clothianidin and Imidacloprid, permeate all of the plants’ systems. Mr. Theobald discovered, and later reported, that the pesticides had been banned in Italy and in Germany, the home country of their manufacturer, Bayer, which reaps hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually from their sale. Yet the Environmental Protection Agency gave the pesticides provisional approval several years ago based on a peer-reviewed field study. That study is itself facing questions. Most pertinently: Are its results relevant to bee populations in the United States, particularly those near the abundant acreage of corn treated with the pesticide? Word of Mr. Theobald’s research clearly made it to the E.P.A. Late last year he obtained a Nov. 2 memorandum by agency scientists saying that a new field study should be undertaken along with at least one other study to ensure that the Clothianidin, now widely used on crops in the country’s agricultural centers, is not harmful to pollinators. Bayer officials put up a post in December that said in part, “Clothianidin is the leading seed treatment on corn in the United States and has been used extensively for over six years without incident to honeybees.” This week Mr. Theobald got reinforcements from two very different quarters. First, Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey sent a letter to Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, that said in part: While large farming operations import managed honeybees for pollination, farmers with smaller, polyculture farms in New Jersey rely heavily on about 350 native species of bees. Alarmingly, several species of bumblebees are believed to have already vanished and next to nothing is known about the health of other native species of bees. Among his questions were: What steps is the E.P.A. taking to clarify and assess the risks to pollinators from chronic, sub-lethal neonicotinoid exposure, for example, when insecticide treatments involve seed coatings or injections into root systems? How will its risk assessment account for the accumulation of neonicotinoids in soil over the years? Then The Independent newspaper in Britain reported on Tuesday that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the British equivalent of the E.P.A., was reconsidering its benign attitude toward neonicotinoids. A British scientist who advises the agency, Robert Watson, had pointed out that recent laboratory studies indicate that the pesticide makes bees more susceptible to a dangerous viral infection. The journalist Tom Philpott took note of The Independent’s report this week at the environmental Web site Grist, which also reported on the E.P.A. scientists’ concerns in December. Senator Menendez’s office released a statement on Friday saying that native bumblebees “mean big business for New Jersey — creating farming jobs and securing our food supply.” “They are simply too essential not to understand basic threats to their existence,” it continued. “We must improve our understanding of the risks these chemicals pose to all bees.”

Apr 1, 2011

What's the worst thing the Koch brothers have done?

Lester Brown’s Plan B | Climate Change

Here’s a terrific book from the sustainability pioneer Lester Brown that I used in my Clean Tech class last Fall. It touches on everything that needs examination. It shows the state of the climate system and the impacts we’ve been experiencing, and it looks closely at all the other environmental insults we’ve been visiting on our tired old planet, like our shockingly profligate use of water for industrial agriculture, fishing out the oceans, destroying rainforests and other critical carbon sinks to grow soybeans to feed pigs, and putting incredible land and price pressures on food crops in order to grow corn and sugar for cars. It’s like we’re guilty of elder abuse.
But Lester Brown has been at this for a long time and has answers for our problems. He surveys the incredible range of viable, cost-effective, clean and smart alternatives to our profligacy. He’s got high-tech solutions and low. His program is simple. Many elements of it already are being vigorously pursued. To quote from the book: “It has four components: cutting net carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2020, stabilizing population at 8 billion or lower, eradicating poverty, and restoring the earth’s natural systems, including its soils, aquifers, forests, grasslands, and fisheries.” Brown walks us through how to do it.
In a documentary airing tonight on PBS, as part of its “Journey to Planet Earth” series, we take a tour with Brown as he looks at and discusses some of the issues. I watched a DVD of this yesterday with my kid who was home from school because it was parent-teacher conference day. I told her, having read and taught from the book, that the film would be great, showing all sorts of neat ways to achieve real sustainability and peace with the planet. Well, it turns out it isn’t as much about the solutions as it is about the problems. The film doesn’t have the wonderful balance and breadth that the book has.
It is, nevertheless, an eminently worthwhile hour plus of viewing. It has Brown illustrating a number of critical observations, such as the potential impact thatmelting of the glaciers in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau will have on agricultural productivity in the great river basins of China, India, and Southeast Asia. It looks at the kinds of malign influence that environmental stresses produce on human security. Thomas Homer-Dixon, a revolutionary thinker in this area, is on hand to make further comment. Paul Krugman further elucidates the critical observations here relative to the fact that we take our environmental degradation “off the books” and this externalizing of these costs radically skews our economic calculations. As Krugman says “the atmosphere is not a free good.”
Some of the fun stuff, all the many solutions that are available to us – and are being researched, developed, financed and deployed by the boatload – comes under review by Brown here as well. One expert voice, Tony Janetos, Director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute, says “We are really on the cusp of a fundamental restructuring of the energy system in a way, and on a scale, that we’ve never tried before.”
Can we get there fast enough? This is a question I’ve had a number of times from students. Brown reminds us of the massive and rapid restructuring of the American industrial economy that Franklin Roosevelt set into motion after Pearl Harbor. So, yes, we can change our way of doing business. One longtime environmental visionary, Bruce Babbitt, in remembering the Civil Rights Movement in this country, notes that “change which seems impossible happens.” (I worked on Babbitt’s short but sweet Presidential campaign in 1988. I will never forget meeting him with a group of folks to talk about environmental issues and how amazingly ahead of his time he was for his views – and not just on the environment.)
Brown ends the film with a call to arms. He thinks that people can be and should be involved in rolling out the new energy economy and embracing a changed perspective in our relationship with Planet Earth. Watch the show tonight, then pick up the book.

Plan B: Mobilizing to Save Civilization | Journey to Planet Earth | PBS Video

Watch the full episode. See more Journey to Planet Earth.

Mar 31, 2011

Lester Brown: The Planet's Scarcest Resource Is Time

In this eleventh video in the series "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate" from The Nation and On The Earth Productions, analyst, author and founder of the Earth Policy Institute Lester Brown discusses how unprepared the world really is for the growing effects of climate change. "Economists doing supply and demand projections are largely unaware" of the scale of the resource crises facing the world, Brown says, and "food is going to be the weak link for our civilization as it was for so many earlier civilizations." To learn more about "Peak Oil and a Changing Climate," and to see the other videos in the series, visit www.TheNation.com. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_R._Brown

Nuclear Alternatives - Rense Blume & Hannah

David Blume is an authority on the use of Ethanol as an Energy Source, here he discusses with Jeff Rense the Implausibility of Nuclear Power, they are joined by Hollywood Icon Daryl Hannah, who happens to have an Alcohol powered car.

Mar 30, 2011

Can biochar help suppress greenhouse gases?

ScienceDaily (Mar. 28, 2011) — Nitrous oxide is a potent greenhouse gas and a precursor to compounds that contribute to the destruction of the ozone. Intensively managed, grazed pastures are responsible for an increase in nitrous oxide emissions from grazing animals' excrement. Biochar is potentially a mitigation option for reducing the world's elevated carbon dioxide emissions, since the embodied carbon can be sequestered in the soil. Biochar also has the potential to beneficially alter soil nitrogen transformations. Laboratory tests have indicated that adding biochar to the soil could be used to suppress nitrous oxide derived from livestock. Biochar has been used for soil carbon sequestration in the same manner.

In a study funded by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology,scientists at Lincoln University in New Zealand, conducted an experiment over an 86-day spring/summer period to determined the effect of incorporating biochar into the soil on nitrous oxide emissions from the urine patches produced by cattle. Biochar was added to the soil during pasture renovation and gas samples were taken on 33 different occasions. The study was published in the March/April 2011 issue of the Journal of Environmental Quality.

Addition of biochar to the soil allowed for a 70% reduction in nitrous oxide fluxes over the course of the study. Nitrogen contribution from livestock urine to the emitted nitrous oxide decreased as well. The incorporation of biochar into the soil had no detrimental effects on dry matter yield or total nitrogen content in the pasture.

Arezoo Taghizadeh-Toosi who conducted the study, says that under the highest rate of biochar, ammonia formation and its subsequent adsorption onto or into the biochar, reduced the inorganic-nitrogen pool available for nitrifiers and thus nitrate concentrations were reduced. Such effects would have diminished the substrate available for microbial nitrous oxide production."

Research work is ongoing and still required to determineseasonal effects, and the effects of repeated urine deposition.

An Open Letter to CBS' 60 Minutes Following its Pitch for More Corporate Handouts

Under the veneer of exploring tax havens, a March 27 segment came across as a justification for corporations that fail to pay taxes.

Your report on the corporate tax rate and new tax havens March 27 (“A look at the world’s new corporate tax havens”) was a stunning disservice to all the Americans who are harmed by a national budget that is seriously distorted by the failure of so many U.S. corporations to pay their fair share.

Under the veneer of exploring tax havens, the segment comes across as a justification for those corporations that fail to pay taxes, while giving a sympathetic voice to corporate CEOs who think they should be paying even less.

By uncritically promoting the Wall Street talking points that the supposedly onerous U.S. tax rate gives well-meaning CEOs no choice but to avoid paying taxes, your one-sided piece steers U.S. policy in a direction that would only make the economic crisis in this nation, and the imbalance between the haves and have-nots in our society, far worse.

There is so much wrong with this piece, it’s almost hard to know where to begin, so we’ll focus on just a few points:

1. You misled viewers about the reality of what corporations pay and mostly do not pay in the U.S.

While there are a few token references to the small percentage some corporations pay in the U.S., the overall impression left with the story is of an “onerous” 35 percent rate that forces corporations to create tax havens.

But the 35 percent figure, which you harp on in the story, as did various Tea Party candidates in the last election, is a complete mirage. As a 2008 GAO report http://bit.ly/IJTJX illustrated, 57 percent of U.S. companies doing business in the United States paid no federal income taxes for at least one year between 1998 and 2005.

Many recent reports, easily accessible to your research staff, would have found a long list of giant corporations that pay no taxes, and often get millions or even billions in tax rebates. Among them such well known names as Exxon Mobil, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citgroup, Boeing, General Electric, Valero Energy, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron.

Some 30 years ago, coinciding with the administration of Ronald Reagan, corporations and individuals contributed about equally to the U.S. treasury; now individuals account for some five times as much, a direct result of deliberate policies which permit big corporations to avoid paying taxes.

Because of the numerous tax loopholes, there is no real tax rate in the U.S. To let the right-wing economists and a corporate CEO whine that they are burdened by a 35 percent rate that no one pays, without dissenting voices, is to thoroughly distort reality.

2. Corporations are not creating jobs or investing in America because of the onerous 35 percent tax rate.

This is probably an even greater fiction that your show deliberately promoted without a single counter-voice.

First, the supposed high tax rate is hardly damping down profits. Corporate profits in the third quarter of 2010 were $1.6 trillion – the highest on record. Yet the past two years have also witnessed the highest unemployment in decades, officially at least 8.9 percent now, with the real figure probably double that.

Therefore, it is dishonest to report that the tax rate is preventing these companies from creating jobs in the U.S. or reinvesting in America. They have more than enough money to do that, if they wished. Which brings up the point that it is a false argument that Stahl and the Wall Street representatives make that these companies would invest in job creation if they only had a lower tax rate.

That argument was further debunked by, among others, Austan Goolsbee, President Obama’s Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, in a 1997paper, in which he wrote:

“Although there appears to be an abiding faith among policy makers that tax incentives can influence the investment decisions of firms and serve as a tool for stabilizing the economy, empirical evidence for the connection is weak. Econometric research has commonly found that tax policy and the cost of capital have little effect on real investment.”

Even your own report suggested a one-time tax holiday did not spur growth, and it would not this time either. Reducing the tax rate, even to zero, would undoubtedly further expand corporate profits, enabling the super-rich CEOs to engage in even more of the specious financial speculation that was a major source of our present economic crisis, and as an ancillary perk to buy more private planes, yachts and vacation homes. But there is no evidence it would create jobs or spur investment.

3. Promoting Ireland as a sound economic model makes one wonder if you get the news in your control room.

The Celtic tiger is no more: defanged; as much a myth as the U.S. 35 percent corporate tax rate. The idea that U.S. corporations are turning Ireland into a job engine is almost laughable these days.

Here’s the lead on a Business Week article dated March 24, three days before your segment aired:

“Ireland’s economy shrank the most in a year in the fourth quarter of 2010 as rising unemployment curtailed consumer spending and investment and exports declined….The Fine Gael-led government, which came to power after an election last month, wants to revive the economy after a slump that sent the budget deficit soaring and brought the banking system close to collapse.”

4. Finally, a more honest report would have provided balance by offering alternative visions to fixing our long-term budget woes.

Beginning by cracking down on the corporate tax evaders with real penalties on any companies that do business in the U.S. and fail to pay taxes. That would be a far more humane solution than the draconian budget cuts now being discussed in Congress, and far more real than pretending you will encourage corporations to invest in America by further lowering their “official” tax rate.
Rose Ann DeMoro is executive director of National Nurses United. Learn more about the NNU proposal for an alternative vision, a Main Street Contract for the American People.

Harvesting Miscanthus Giganteus

MFA Oil Biomass put together this video demonstrating how to harvest miscanthus giganteus.

New Sex Abuse Scandals Plague Catholic Institutions -- Will the Church Ever Change?

Why do these abuses keep popping up even after earnest vows of reform from the church?
March 29, 2011

Fact file a US priest accused of molesting 200 children, and the Vatican's actions after it received complaints in the 1990s while the current pope was head of the Catholic Church's morals watchdog. The pedophile priest crisis has cost the Roman Catholic church nearly $3 billion in the US, but only a fraction of the perpetrators have been jailed and little done to punish those who covered it up. Photo Credit: AFP/Graphic - Martin Megino/Gal/Js

It’s been years since the massive wave of Catholic clergy-abuse stories began to break, with victims speaking out and horrors uncovered. It’s true that instances of traumatizing sexual and physical abuse from clergy in many other religions and denominations have surfaced in the ensuing years, proving that the problem is hardly endemic to one religion or group of people. But in Catholic strongholds where abuse was widespread, the problem has been systemic, and the coverup attempts by the church are egregious and often premeditated and coordinated. Centralized hierarchies have led to centralized denial--until recent years, when there has been a centralized attempt to clean house.

Nowadays, the subject of child abuse by the clergy is often one broached by standup comedians and cynics. A disconnect is growing between the American Catholic church and its followers, and not just on this issue: study after study shows that Catholic laypeople are aligned with the rest of the American population--and against the church--when it comes to “social issues” abortion, especially birth control (which a vast majority use, directly countering church doctrine) and now even gay marriage.

Yet the clergy abuse stories continue to unfold in the arenas of church politics, law enforcement and the religious landscape. The last big scandal was in Wisconsin, when abuse at a school for the deaf was revealed, and more have surfaced since.

Just this week a record financial settlement was reached with abuse victims in the Northwest, while the Philadelphia abuse scandal continued. Last Friday alone, the New York Times published three separate stories about Catholic clergy abuse cases; a Google news search for “Catholic priest abuse” revealed ongoing or recently concluded cases in Connecticut, California, Tennessee and the Midwest--and these are just domestic cases. In Ireland, the entire nation remains up in arms about a “smoking gun” document which revealed, essentially, that the coverup of abuses there was sanctioned by the Vatican.

And that culture of denial and collusion that has been so slow to change may explain why these stories keep popping up even after earnest vows of reform from the church. A system that worked for decades one way may not be able to transform overnight--particularly when many of the power dynamics remain the same.

The Philly 21

Two Times stories were related to the unfolding case in Philadelphia, in which a grand jury found that “ the archdiocese allowed 37 priests accused of abuse or inappropriate behavior to remain in ministry.” As a result, a few weeks ago the church suspended 21 clergy or teachers now being referred to by some as “the Philly 21” or “the Philadelphia 21.”

This was after a new system of “review” boards had been implemented by the church (in the wake of other scandals) to root out exactly this kind of problem. But the review boards, staffed by outsiders with experience in law enforcement and accountable to church authorities, found no problem in Philadelphia even where the legal system found many.

A criminal proceeding is beginning against several church officials, including a monsignor, two priests, one former priest, and a former school teacher under the parochial purview:

“The priests and the schoolteacher are already accused of rape; the monsignor, William Lynn, the highest-ranking official to be accused of a crime in the three-decade-long abuse scandal in the United States, is suspected of covering up rape by the priests and is charged with child endangerment.”

One of the stories in the Times described a “blistering courtroom session” at a preliminary hearings for the case, at which the monsignor was repeatedly told by the judge that it could jeopardize his own interest to have a defense team sponsored by the archdiocese itself--which would have a vested interest not in him, but in the church. Nonetheless, he insisted on retaining that defense.

A second article about the Philadelphia case on Friday examined whether this spreading scandal proved that the work many American ecclesiastical authorities had put in establishing their own review protocols was in vain, if such internal reviews simply couldn’t pick up on the abuse. Supposedly, a new “zero tolerance” era had been launched after the Boston Diocese debacle at the beginning of this decade. But the fact that these review boards have no legal subpoena power and can only use documents and evidence that is voluntarily handed to them of course, is a huge part of the problem.

Northwest Nightmare

On Friday another case came to a close. This time it was a less recent one--a Jesuit order in the Northwest settled a longstanding case for $166 million against a group of nearly 500 abuse victims, mostly from the disadvantaged and vulnerable group of Alaskan and American natives, many of whom were orphans. The abuse took place decades ago. It has been strongly implied by victim’s advocate groups, the Times reported, that the remoteness of some of the parishes and schools and the socially isolated position of the students and families there meant that “problem priests” were shipped to the area to be out of people’s way, with little regard to the potential victims awaiting them there.

Attorney Blaine Tamaki gave a sharp statement to reporters, pointing out that the financial payout and the number of victims makes this a record-setting settlement--hardly a memorable milestone for the church.

"The $166.1 million is the largest settlement by a religious order in the history of the world. Over 450 Native American children ... were sexually abused repeatedly, from rape to sodomy, for decades throughout the Northwest,” Tamaki told the press, according to CNN. “Instead of teaching these children how to read and write, Jesuit priests were teaching them distrust and shame. Instead of teaching the Native American children the love of God, these Jesuit pedophile priests were molesting these young children.”


In the last decade, many have speculated that the Catholic attitude toward sex (only for procreation, not for pleasure), sin and repentance and the celibacy requirement for clergy are a source of the problem. But it’s impossible to generalize or to pinpoint the cause. Instead what can be said is that in order for abuses of power to end, conceptions and distribution of power needs to change--particularly in a system which is hierarchical and authority-based and the ultimate authority is theoretically derived from a divine source. It's no coincidence that many of the abuse victims were poor or alone or unable in some way to fight back, and that their abusers had a vast network of resources behind them.

This heartfelt search for answers from Maureen Martinez, a Catholic woman in Philadelphia goes over all the doctrinal possibilities, the issue of celibacy, of mentally ill men hoping to find shelter in the church as priests, and settles at last on the core problem of power:

“And this is the heart of the issue with the church: Offenders feel they are invincible. And their higher-ups who covered up the crimes also feel they are invincible. In fact, one could argue that the bishops and cardinals who knowingly shuffled sex offenders from one parish to another are even more at fault. They are not mentally ill.”

Sarah Seltzer is an associate editor at AlterNet, a staff writer at RH Reality Check and a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published in Jezebel.com and on the websites of the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal. Find her at sarahmseltzer.com.

Mar 29, 2011

Boogie the Urban Goat - Turning Poison Ivy Into Ice Cream!!

Nigerian Dwarf Goats produce milk 300 days out of the year. Poison Ivy into ice cream - doesn't get better than that! (-: ... Monte

Deer Chop Hurry Recipe - Allrecipes.com

Deer Chop Hurry
Rated: 5 Star
Submitted By: Jorin
Photo By: tracyab
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 6 Hours
Ready In: 6 Hours 15 Minutes
Servings: 4

2 pounds deer chops (venison)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix

1. Thinly slice the deer chops and brown them in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Transfer the meat to a slow cooker. Mix in the ketchup, water, onion, brown sugar, and dry onion soup mix. Cook on LOW for 6 hours or until tender. If you want to cook it in a roaster, bake at 350 degrees F, for 1 hour.

Our variation - We just leave it in skillet, add mix, put a lid on and let it simmer for 1 hour on low burner heat.
Best Deer Meat Recipe We Have Ever Used!
Enjoying venison Eileen harvested this fall...
We love it...
Highly Recommend!
Try it... bet you will like it...
Monte & Eileen

Bernie Sanders' Top 10 Tax Avoiders

— By Michael Mechanic | Tue Mar. 29, 2011

In a Sunday press release calling on wealthy individuals and corporations to pay their share, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont offered a list of what he calls "some of some of the 10 worst corporate income tax avoiders."

Sanders, you'll recall, made headlines for his epic 8.5-hour speech/filibuster this past December, dealing with how Obama's pending tax-cut deal with the GOP would be bad for America. The speech—published this month as a paperback simply titled The Speech—was in vain: Congress passed the deal, extending tax breaks not merely to the poor and middle-class, but to America's richest people.

It also slashed the estate tax from 55 percent to 35 percent and exempted the first $5 million of an estate's value ($10 million for a couple)—up from $1 million pre-Bush. In his speech, Sanders warned against this change, noting, "Let us be very clear: This tax applies only—only—to the top three-tenths of 1 percent of American families; 99.7 percent of American families will not pay one nickel in an estate tax. This is not a tax on the rich, this is a tax on the very, very, very rich. (Click here for our blockbuster charts showing just how rich the very, very, very rich actually are.)

If the estate tax—which Republicans have cleverly rebranded the "death tax"—were to be eliminated entirely (another GOP goal), Sander says it would cost US taxpayers $1 trillion over 10 years. "Families such as the Walton family, of Walmart fame, would have received, just this one family, about a $30 billion tax break," he said in the speech.

As one of few voices in Congress calling seriously for balance between cuts and new revenues, Sanders wants to close corporate tax loopholes and get rid of tax breaks for Big Oil. He's put forth a bill that would impose a 5.4 percent surtax on household income north of $1 million, and earmark that money for deficit reduction. He estimates it would bring in $50 billion a year, whereas Congress' recent tax-cut deal will add around $700 billion to the deficit.

So, without further ado, here's Bernie's tax-avoiders list. If you have any quibbles with his facts, let us know in the comments.

1) ExxonMobil made $19 billion in profits in 2009. Exxon not only paid no federal income taxes, it actually received a $156 million rebate from the IRS, according to its SEC filings. [Note: Our post last April reported that ExxonMobil was owed $46 million by the IRS.]

2) Bank of America received a $1.9 billion tax refund from the IRS last year, although it made $4.4 billion in profits and received a bailout from the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department of nearly $1 trillion.

3) Over the past five years, while General Electric made $26 billion in profits in the United States, it received a $4.1 billion refund from the IRS.

4) Chevron received a $19 million refund from the IRS last year after it made $10 billion in profits in 2009.

5) Boeing, which received a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airborne tankers, got a $124 million refund from the IRS last year.

6) Valero Energy, the 25th largest company in America with $68 billion in sales last year received a $157 million tax refund check from the IRS and, over the past three years, it received a $134 million tax break from the oil and gas manufacturing tax deduction.

7) Goldman Sachs in 2008 only paid 1.1 percent of its income in taxes even though it earned a profit of $2.3 billion and received an almost $800 billion from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury Department.

8) Citigroup last year made more than $4 billion in profits but paid no federal income taxes. It received a $2.5 trillion bailout from the Federal Reserve and U.S. Treasury.

9) ConocoPhillips, the fifth largest oil company in the United States, made $16 billion in profits from 2007 through 2009, but received $451 million in tax breaks through the oil and gas manufacturing deduction.

10) Over the past five years, Carnival Cruise Lines made more than $11 billion in profits, but its federal income tax rate during those years was just 1.1 percent.

GE rakes in profits but pays no taxes

The wealthy real estate magnate Leona Helmsley once said, "Only the little people pay taxes." She was dubbed "the Queen of Mean" and went to prison for tax evasion.

What a coincidence. Turns out General Electric, which had $14.2 billion in profits last year, pays no taxes, either, according to a news report. But no one is calling CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt names. And he won’t be doing time in a cell: President Obama made him a liaison to the business community and appointed him to lead the president’s council on jobs and competitiveness.

How’d that happen? As always, it’s who you know and what you know. And GE has excelled at drawing the best and brightest to protect its profits: A million-dollar lobbying team that includes former Treasury and IRS officials, and the savviest ex-Congressional staffers around.

The company now makes most of its money from lending abroad, not from appliances and light bulbs, all the better for its bottom line: As long as those profits stay off U.S. shores, the IRS has no claim. And the $5 billion in U.S. profits? Only a very dim bulb would pay anything on those gains. GE finessed a series of tax breaks and write-offs, and charmed powerful legislators with well-timed donations to their districts to keep gaping loopholes in place.

GE will likely crank up a million-dollar public relations campaign in the days ahead, trumpeting its philanthropy to counteract the nasty smell that now clings to its corporate image. That shouldn’t sway anybody.

The corporate giant gets to thumb its nose at the little people, at a time when the U.S. Treasury could use every last dime it can scrounge. Programs for children and families are being sacrificed on the altar of a trillion-dollar deficit, and the remnants of the union movement are vilified for trying to hang on to some semblance of a middle-class existence for their members.

Mar 28, 2011

“This is Economic Treason” - Corporate Tax Dodgers


This is a big story evolving!  Worth viewing and reading... Monte

US Uncut Fights to Secure America's Future | The Nation

As promised, the footage from US Uncut’s Saturday protests continues to roll in. I was on Democracy Now! earlier this morning to talk about the domestic protests and also the massive day of action in the UK where half a million people, including participants of UK Uncut, marched in the streets against the British austerity measures. The video of my interview, in addition to the excellent Johann Hari talking about the original UK movement, can be viewed here.

Here’s Boston’s Chris Priest talking about who is actually responsible for the national deficit. He then performs a satirical version of We Didn’t Start The Fire with lyrics tailored to rip into BoA’s dodging practices. A sample:

Wealth didn’t trickle down, everybody’s screwed now
Free ride only for the biggest of the banks
They’ve made it well known, they don’t want to pay for roads
Let me tell ya something bout’ our friends BofA:

Dead beats, tax cheats, Hiding money overseas
Take this piece of shit loan, rate it “triple A” please
Tape off Wall Street, “white collar crime scene”
Shut down, marked “Out of business temporarily”

“[Bank of America] pays less in taxes than you do, and that’s not cool.”
Arizona, Seattle, Boston, Ohio, Philadelphia and Cranberry Twp.,Pennsylvania chapters also posted photos. Here’s a US Uncut activist from Wisconsin explaining why he wants Verizon, and all wealthy corporations, to pay their fair share.
Uncut Wisconsin from Patrick on Vimeo.

San Francisco’s chapter has posted photos and video of the protest on their Facebook page. Organizer Leslie Dreyer called the event “another successful and moving day of action.” She stresses the participants’ diverse range of ages (4-70), ethnicities and backgrounds.

Corporate tax dodging has proven to be an incredibly unifying issue, one that actually unites Republicans, Independents and Democrats. Even papa bear Bill O’Reilly recently teed off on GE, which didn’t pay any taxes in 2010 despite making a whopping $14 billion in profits. When was the last time O’Reilly and Progressive agreed on, well, anything?

Chicago’s William T. Shehan IV, a US Army veteran, explained that he feels it’s his duty to protest this practice of corporate tax evasion. “As a Veteran I swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Shehan’s written statement says. “The behavior of the corporations and elected officials has made it necessary for ‘We the People’ to alter or abolish our relationship with the aforementioned organizations, replace the elected officials, repeal unjust laws and to put in place safeguards to insure a secure future.”

2/3rds of US Corporations Pay Zero Federal Taxes: US Uncut Movement Builds to Make Them Pay Up

From coast-to-coast, more than forty cities joined in a day of action protesting the tax-dodging of massive corporations that they see as the real source of the country's deficit.
Photo Credit: USUncut.org
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The following article first appeared on the Nation.com.

Saturday marked US Uncut’s second big nationwide protest. From coast-to-coast, more than forty cities joined in a day of action protesting the tax-dodging practices of massive corporations that they see as the real source of the country’s deficit.

“I’m tired of people calling for shared sacrifice and it’s all coming from the workers and nothing’s coming from the top,” says protester Dave Sonenberg. “I’m sick of companies like Bank of America not paying their taxes.”

Bank of America hasn’t paid a nickel in federal income taxes for the past two years, and in fact raked in an additional $1 billion in tax “benefits.” The bank is enjoying these profits after accepting $45 billion from taxpayers, which the company then got to count as a deduction when they paid back the money.

Big corporations get to play by a whole different set of rules, says tax expert Bob Willens of New York-based Robert Willens LLC: It's also not unusual for a company to pay no federal taxes, while still paying state and local taxes, Willens said. Items that can be deducted for federal purposes aren't always deductible for state and local returns, he said. State taxes can also be based on the amount of capital deployed in a state, not pre-tax income.

This is why two-thirds of corporations in America pay no federal income taxes. If they were forced to, we're told, the whole country would suffer. Jobs would be lost, salaries slashed. Thank heavens we’ve avoided such calamity by allowing corporations to shape legislation in their favor.

In 2010, Bank of America handed out $2.2 million in campaign contributions to Congressional representatives and PACs (36 percent went to Democrats, 64 percent to Republicans). By throwing around that much cash, huge companies like BoA have a big say when it comes to crafting legislation that permits them to escape paying taxes, according to US Uncut organizer J.A. Myerson.

“The reason it’s not illegal is because they have bought and paid for the people who make the laws. The laws are made to accommodate this sort of nefariousness,” he says, adding that the process is wrong, and ordinarily that would mean approaching Congress to ask them to fix it, but there’s no point in attempting that when the system is so heavily rigged in favor of the rich and well connected. “So what US Uncut is doing right now is not Capitol Hill lobbying because that doesn’t seem like it’s a fruitful avenue. It’s trying to directly undermine the ability of Bank of America to earn record windfall profits by depleting the public trust that they are an upstanding member of society.”

The rigged game has left citizens feeling burnt and angry. An activist named Sally says BoA’s practice of evicting people from their homes without the original mortgage notes is illegal, but that “illegal doesn’t seem to matter.”

Organizers created fake checks that represent what Bank of America should have paid in taxes during 2009 ($1.5 billion). The plan was to go into BoA, attempt to cash the checks, and then ask for a manager when the understandably flummoxed teller didn’t know what to do. US Uncut planners reminded the protesters to be courteous to everyone: the tellers, the manager and police. The process appeared to go on without a hitch until my cameraman and I went into BoA with US Uncut organizer Duncan Meisel.

The bank’s manager recognized Meisel from being part of the Uncut protests and immediately asked for the police to remove us. Meisel said he was in the bank to cash the check, and when the officer discerned it was fake (because it looks incredibly fake), he told us to leave, claiming we were giving the tellers “a hard time” before.

“Get out,” the cop ordered. “You want to get out or get a criminal summons?” At which point, my cameraman, Zach Roberts, stated he was a Bank of America customer, a credential that didn’t appear to impress the officer at all.

“You want to play games?” he asked. “Give me your ID.” Meisel stated that he intended to leave, but he also produced his wallet and extended it to the officer, who grabbed it and shoved Meisel backwards.

The police then detained Meisel inside BoA before ultimately giving him a ticket for disorderly conduct. Afterwards, Meisel harbored no ill feelings toward the officer. “It sounds like he had a bad day today, but it’s not anything personal. I know cops have it bad these days because there’s budget cuts coming from them. There’s budget cuts coming from everybody. I’d rather not have a summons, but I don’t hold it against anyone.”

Allison Kilkenny is the co-host of the progressive political podcast Citizen Radio (wearecitizenradio.com) and independent journalist who blogs at allisonkilkenny.com. Her work has appeared in The American Prospect, the L.A. Times, In These Times, Truthout and the award-winning grassroots NYC newspaper The Indypendent.

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Mar 27, 2011

Me & My Job - Craig Sams, owner, Carbon Gold | Horticulture Week

How did you get started? My first business was a macrobiotic restaurant, which opened in 1967 and was a mecca for lovers of brown rice and other organic goodies. This evolved into Whole Earth Foods and out of that came Green & Black's, the first organic chocolate.

What advice would you give to others starting out? Don't run out of cash. It's a tragedy to be making money and then be unable to trade because you can't pay your debts - even though you're profitable. And never be afraid to do something just because nobody's done it before.

What does your typical day involve? We are finalising the pack designs for seed compost and all-purpose. Our new-design kilns are ready to ship. I arranged for 10 to go to Belize for the cacao growers, who are big biochar enthusiasts after two years.

What takes up most of your time? Carbon Gold is becoming all-consuming, but it's a dream come true to be taking biochar to market.

What's the best aspect of the job? Being a missionary. It's immensely gratifying when someone "gets" biochar and becomes a true believer.

And the worst? Dealing with green amaranth on our trial field.

What is your greatest achievement? In 1993 I set up a relationship between Green & Black's and Maya cocoa farmers in Belize. This led to the first ever Fairtrade product, Maya Gold, and triggered a range of social and environmental benefits.

How do you wind down? A few games of Scrabble on my iPad, a walk along the seafront with my wife and a frantic pedalathon on my Propcycle machine.

What does the future hold? Biochar is going to change the way that food is produced and make a real difference to climate change. It amplifies the principles of organic farming, rehabilitates degraded land and reduces atmospheric greenhouse gas.


Craig Sams – Executive Chairman

Founder of Whole Earth Foods (1967), Ceres Bakery (1972) and Green & Black’s chocolate (1991), all successful businesses based on organic, wholefood principles. Craig is the former chair of the Soil Association and currently Chair of Soil Association Certification Ltd, which authenticates organic farming, fair trade, farm assurance and has the network to authenticate carbon sequestration.