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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

acreditsu(Photo: *Vly*)According to a February 25 article in the business section of The Washington Post (WP), a senate report has found that the Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse knowingly enabled and assisted wealthy Americans in avoiding paying US taxes on billions of dollars in income for many years.

Furthermore, according to the WP, the congressional analysis found that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is dragging its feet in prosecuting the bank and its staff who have facilitated the defrauding of the US treasury: "The allegations were particularly stunning in the face of the budget cuts and deficits that the United States faces, lawmakers said. The report casts the Justice Department as a hapless enforcer that has dragged its feet in getting Credit Suisse to turn over the names of some 22,000 U.S. customers." During the past four years, "no one has stood trial, and the bank has not been held legally accountable, the report says."

BuzzFlash at Truthout has written numerous commentaries on how the DOJ has repeatedly failed to prosecute banks or high level bank staff for illegal patterns of behavior within banks too big to fail -- whether the financial institution is headquartered in the United States or overseas. 


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MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT 

In response to reader input, Truthout has enhanced its BuzzFlash sites.  The new and updated options offer a more diverse and interactive experience combined with a streamlined contemporary look. 

In case you have been wondering about some of the features now available to you, here is a partial list of what you can expect on a daily basis:

(Upper Right: The Original BuzzFlash, Founded 2000 -- Photo: liberal1012)

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abant(Photo: billb1961)Among the many hypocritical examples of the Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) syndrome, place the legal opposition of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to the construction of a new water tower near his suburban Denton, Texas, estate at the top of the pyramid.

The story broke on February 20 in the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled: "Exxon CEO Joins Suit Citing Fracking Concerns: Residents of Dallas Suburb Fight Construction of Tower That Would Provide Water for Drilling." As noted in a piece posted on Truthout in December of 2013, Denton is a hotbed of fracking activity.  This has resulted in a citizen revolt against all the threats that fracking poses: toxic chemical use, acceleration of global warming, air pollution, water pollution, earth tremor risks, noise, airborne debris, bright night lights and more -- much more.

One of the fracking perils is the excessive use of water that is required to produce fossil fuel out of the process. The large amount of water needed not only depletes supplies of already limited fresh water in many locations, it returns the water in polluted form.   

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

arickRick Santorum, Soda Jerk for restoring the Middle Ages (Photo: DonkeyHotey)He's back. Little Ricky "Man-on-Dog" Santorum is seriously assembling a run for president in 2016 according to the National Journal. 

Going back to May of 2000 when BuzzFlash first began posting on the Internet, we've covered a lot of right wing outsized characters.  In fact, there were so many that we began a separate site (since ceased publishing): BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week.

Santorum falls more into the "deranged zealot who looks like a big box office supply store manager" type, but he still fits into that broad category of religious zealots who get themselves confused with their stated belief that Jesus is the Son of God while their actual belief is that they are the Son(s) of God. 

Buzzflash and Truthout don’t take corporate funding - that means we’re accountable to our readers, not big business or billionaire sponsors. Please support our work by making a tax-deductible donation today - just click here to donate.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

 

aspeciesIs the human species next on the list? (Photo: tbone_samdwich)

There was a popular bumper sticker you'd see on luxury cars awhile back, "The person who dies with the most toys wins."

Sometimes, when I saw an automobile with such a message, my first thought was how tacky to put such a cheap plastic boast of wealth on a vehicle that cost tens of thousands of dollars. But then I realized that, to paraphrase Marshall McCluhan, "the medium is the message."  This is what this person is all about; "my greed makes me who I am, and I'm better and more valuable than you are in your cheap Ford."

This destructive confusion of one's worth as a human being with one's financial worth arose in my mind again yesterday when writing a commentary, "Five Reasons the 1% Do Not Want Unemployment to Decrease."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

ajobs(Photo: Jobs With Justice)BuzzFlash at Truthout isn't breaking any new economic theory in stating that corporations and the 1% -- incuding the increasingly dominant Wall Street financial stranglehold on the economy -- are actually quite happy with permanently high (as long as it doesn't cause political de-stabilization) unemployment.

1) The most important value to high unemployment to the 1% is in the ever-increasing profit margin that comes from lowering the cost of labor by decreasing salaries and benefits.  This result from competition for jobs among a group of desperate employment seekers is that they have no choice but to accept low-paying jobs.  

Therefore, while the media likes to use the benchmark unemployment statistics as a sign of the economy "improving" if the government figure goes down, the 1% actually sees its lopsided share of US assets increase when the unemployment figures are higher and wages lower.

This reality, largely ignored by the mainstream media, is of course facilitated by the trade partnership agreement globalization of jobs to lower cost settings, devaluing the US labor market even further.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

azell(Photo: Andrew Huff)Sam Zell is known around Chicago as a bit of a brash, blunt multi-billionaire.  After making his fortune in setting up massive real estate funds (REITs) and then diversifying into Mitt Romney style buy and strip apart corporate acquisitions, he purchased the faltering Chicago Tribune in 2007.

At a televised conference Zell held with the staff, one journalist asked him how he would ensure that, in essence, the bean counters wouldn't be compromising the reporting in the Tribune and its other major media holdings (including the Los Angeles Times). Zell glared at the reporter and simply responded, "F*ck you!"

Zell's primary approach to saving the Tribune empire was to drastically cut staff, including journalists, and sell off assets, but he didn't have an instinct for the media world and ultimately the Tribune corporation went into bankruptcy.  Eventually, Zell sold it at a loss to some other investors.  

This is just some background on the man who just the other day claimed (according to an article reposted ironically in the Chicago Tribune) that people "should not talk about envy of the 1 percent, they should talk about emulating the 1 percent. The 1 percent work harder, the 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society."

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

abarclays(Photo: Alwyn Ladell)Barclays may be officially incorporated in the UK, but its branch in the United States is performing "robustly," according to the bank.  That's one reason, according to Reuters, that Barclays is going to be paying out nearly $4 billion dollars in bonuses for the past year:

A rise in bonuses at the bank could provoke a backlash from politicians and a public angered that banks are not reining in compensation. Excessive pay has been blamed for encouraging risk-taking and contributing to the 2008/2009 financial crisis.

Sky said Barclays is expected to defend the increase in bonuses by pointing to a robust performance by its investment bank in the United States and the threat it will lose its top staff there to its Wall Street rivals.

Amidst an avalanche of Wall Street banks paying fines (instead of being criminally prosecuted by the Department of Justice) for fraud, Barclays is giving out billions of dollars in extra compensation to senior financial staff.  Most working people are lucky to get a $50 bonus at the end of the year.  But most people don't work on Wall Street where the corporate culture rewards individuals who encourage pushing at the edge of the legal envelope, as Jamie Dimon has done at JPMorgan Chase.

 

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

apaydayloan(Photo:rinkjustice)If you are poor and cash-starved, you might regularly turn to a payday loan lender by signing over your paycheck for a small loan. Once you do that, you will likely end up in a bind because interest rates (when combined with fees) can be as much as 1000%. This means a poor or minimum wage working person is caught in a cycle of debt and paying off interest exponentially worse than exorbitant credit card rates.

Elizabeth Warren has a solution for that, and one that can help reinvent the US Postal Service (which is under attack by the "small government" caucus): allow postal offices to provide services now offered by payday loan lenders and currency exchanges (which charge high rates for basic services such as cashing a check, in the absence of banks in many limited income communities).

Warren outlined her proposal posted in the Huffington Post on Feburary 1.

MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

atophat(Photo:lokarta)A new book, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," contends that the dramatically increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of a few (in the United States and globally) fundamentally undermines democracy, according to Thomas B. Edsall of the New York Times.

A professor at the Paris School of Economics, Thomas Piketty, is the author of the book (which will be published in English early this spring). 

In a January 28 NYT commentary, "Capitalism vs. Democracy," Edsall writes that Piketty,

...contends that capitalism’s inherent dynamic propels powerful forces that threaten democratic societies.

Capitalism, according to Piketty, confronts both modern and modernizing countries with a dilemma: entrepreneurs become increasingly dominant over those who own only their own labor. In Piketty’s view, while emerging economies can defeat this logic in the near term, in the long run, “when pay setters set their own pay, there’s no limit,” unless “confiscatory tax rates” are imposed.

At the heart of creating the current economic inequality, Piketty points to a key factor. Edsall explains:

The six decades between 1914 and 1973 stand out from the past and future, according to Piketty, because the rate of economic growth exceeded the after-tax rate of return on capital. Since then, the rate of growth of the economy has declined, while the return on capital is rising to its pre-World War I levels.

In short, if the richest individual and institutions have a rate of wealth that increases faster than the overall growth of the US economy, that rise in assets and income (which is what is occurring right now with at least one estimate of 95% of the recent economic recovery is going to the top 10 percent) comes from the pockets of those who laber for a living.

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