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Supreme Court: Corporations Can Financially Influence Political Races

Supreme Court: Corporations Can Financially Influence Political Races

cryptogon.com
January 22, 2010

Via: MSNBC:

In a landmark ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday struck down laws that banned corporations from using their own money to support or oppose candidates for public office.

By 5-4 vote, the court overturned federal laws, in effect for decades, that prevented corporations from using their profits to buy political campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

 



VeriChip’s Merger With Credit Monitoring Firm Worries Privacy Activists

VeriChip’s Merger With Credit Monitoring Firm Worries Privacy Activists

Wired
December 10, 2009

Remember VeriChip, the Florida company that once dreamed of injecting its human-implantable RFID microchips in everyone from immigrant guest workers to prison inmates?

We haven’t heard much from the company since a dipping stock price nearly got it delisted from the NASDAQ in March. But it’s still alive, and in November it pulled off a seemingly incongruous acquisition. Now called PositiveID, the new company is a merger between VeriChip and Steel Vault, the people behind NationalCreditReport.com.

With a human-implantable microchip maker now running a credit-scoring and identity-theft-protection website, privacy activists are worried again. “The attraction to investors is the potential for synergies,” says Mark Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington. “You have to anticipate over time there will be an attempt to integrate the services.”

“Sci-fi wise, you could have a chip read by a scanner that determines your credit-worthiness,” says Evan Hendricks, editor of Privacy Times. “Or you could have a credit card implant.”

VeriChip and its former owner Applied Digital have been drawing fire since 2004, when the FDA approved the rice-sized injectable RFID for human use. While the company primarily pushed the chip as part of a system to index medical records — a kind of subcutaneous MedAlert bracelet — Richard Sullivan, then-CEO of Applied Digital, had a penchant for wantonly confirming every nightmare of cybernetic social control.

After 9/11, it was Sullivan who announced the VeriChip would be perfect as a universal ID to distinguish safe people from the dangerous ones. He dreamed of GPS-equipped chips being injected into foreigners entering the United States, prisoners, children, the elderly. He thought the VeriChip would be used as a built-in credit or ATM card.

Indeed, in 2004, one of VeriChip’s earliest deployments was at a Barcelona nightclub, where VIP patrons could pay 125 euro to get the chip installed in their arms as a debit card for drinks.

But today, Sullivan’s replacement says the company has no plans to market the VeriChip as a path to instant credit, despite the recent acquisition.

With his white-buttondown shirt open at the chest, PositiveID CEO Scott Silverman spoke about the merger in an interview at the company’s office suite in Delray Beach, Florida. “Using the chip to relate to the credit-reporting services of NationalCreditReport.com, or even using it for financial transactions … has not been a part of our business model for five years or more, since Sullivan’s been gone, and is not part of our business model moving forward,” he says.

Silverman also backed away from some of the Orwellian ideas floated by his cyberpunk predecessor. “I can tell you that … putting [the chips] into children and immigrants for identification purposes, or putting them into people, especially unwillingly, for financial transactions, has [not] been and never will be the intent of this company as long I’m the chairman and CEO,” he says.

Yet in 2004, Silverman told the Broward-Palm Beach New Times that the VeriChip could be used as a credit card in coming years. And in 2006, he went on Fox & Friends to promote the chipping of immigrant guest workers to track them and monitor their tax records.

And ahead of the recent merger, VeriChip gave a presentation to investors hinting there would be some cross-pollination between the two sides of the business. It plans to “cross-sell its NationalCreditReport.com customer base” (.pdf) the Health Link service and vice-versa. So, Americans with implanted VeriChips will be encouraged to divulge their finances to PositiveID, while credit-monitoring customers will be marketed the health-record microchip.

Critics of chipping are moved by a variety of concerns, ranging from the pragmatic to the religious — anti-RFID crusader Katherine Albrecht believes the technology is the Mark of the Beast predicted in the Book of Revelation, but also doubts its efficacy as a medical tag: VeriChip’s instruction manual warns that the chip may not function in ambulances and areas where there are MRI and X-ray scanners.

Security is another issue. RFIDs can generally be scanned from distances much greater than the official specs suggest. Nicole Ozer at the ACLU of Northern California notes that after Wired magazine writer Annalee Newitz experimentally cloned her VeriChip in 2006, the company continued calling it secure.

But human chipping has high-profile fans as well, including former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, who left his job as overseer of the FDA in 2005 — a year after VeriChip’s approval — to join the company’s board of directors. Thompson announced he would personally join the 700 to 900 Americans who have the chip installed in their bodies. (He later reportedly reneged.)

Whatever its plans for the future, PositiveID is focused on its original mission for now: implants tied to medical records. On December 1, the new company announced it’s collaborating with Avocare, a Florida health care business, in the hopes of bringing its “health care identification products” to 1 million patients.

 

Credit Card Companies Refuse Mythbusters to Test RFID

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdDsukmgwsk

Secret Bilderberg Agenda To Microchip Americans Leaked

One Mainframe To Rule Them All

RFID Chip Implants Cause Cancer in Lab-Rats

 



The United States is Not a Country, it’s a Corporation

United States is Not a Country, it’s a Corporation

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cz4y0YuclHo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtlEpLiNn7U

 



Michael Moore Slams Health Care Bill

Michael Moore says Democrats’ healthcare bill is giveaway to insurance industry

Raw Story
November 18, 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52QtplJGgzQ

In a speech broadcast on Canadian television Tuesday, Michael Moore savaged the Democrats’ healthcare bill, calling it a gift to the health insurance industry, which he argues will make $70 billion more as a result of mandated health insurance.

“The health insurance companies are going to make an extra $70 billion dollars as a result of Americans being forced to buy their health insurance,” Moore quipped. “What company wouldn’t love this bill?”

Moore argues that the health insurance industry isn’t really upset about healthcare reform. His assertions — which mirror those of some on the left — highlight the challenge that Democrats in Congress face on healthcare reform. On the left, critics say that the bill doesn’t go far enough in ensuring universal care; on the right, critics say the proposal will lead to a government takeover of healthcare.

“So all of the wailing that they’re doing about this bill — believe me, the health insurance companies are not that upset about it,” Moore said. “In fact, they helped write this bill.”

“It’s not universal health care,” he continued. “Thirteen million people will still not have health insurance in the United States.

“And the drug companies signed a deal with Obama to keep them out of it, because they agreed to reduce their prices by $8 billion in the first year of the healthcare bill,” he asserted.

17 Tax Increases in Senate Health Care Bill = $370.2 Billion

Senate bill weighs in at 2,074 pages

Health bill could get 34-hour reading in Senate

Senate bill includes the Botox tax

China questions costs of U.S. healthcare reform

 



Chevron Sued For Dumping Toxic Waste in Amazon

Chevron Sued For Dumping Toxic Waste in Amazon


Celebrity support for the cause … actress Daryl Hannah in Ecuador’s oil region in the Amazon two years ago. Photo: AP

Sydney Morning Herald
November 17, 2009

Tens of thousands of Amazonians are suing Chevron, the American oil company, for poisoning their waterways in what is billed as one of the biggest environmental cases in history.

The Ecuadorean claimants said the company illegally dumped toxic waste from its oil production, which filtered into the lakes used by thousands of people for washing and drinking.

The result, they claimed, was one of the worst environmental disasters in history, which led to a public health crisis with rising levels of cancer, birth defects and miscarriages.

Some 30,000 Amazonians are behind a case to be heard by an Ecuadorean judge. Experts said the company might have to pay damages of up to $US27 billion ($29 billion).

The company said there was no proof that any illnesses were caused by its operations. It said the responsibility for cleaning the area lay with the Ecuadorean government and Petroecuador, the state oil company.

The court case is the result of the exploitation of the indigenous population by US trial lawyers and a corrupt government, according to Chevron.

The Amazon campaign has attracted high-profile supporters including actor Daryl Hannah. Chevron’s reputation for corporate social responsibility has already taken a blow.

The issue is the subject of Crude, a critically acclaimed documentary. The rags-to-riches tale of the most senior Ecuadorean lawyer fighting the case has earnt it a place on the front cover of Vanity Fair.

Texaco, which is owned by Chevron, started operating in Sucumbios, Ecuador, in 1964. Over 26 years it made more than $500 million, producing 1.7 billion barrels of oil. As the operator of a consortium with Petroecuador, it drilled hundreds of wells.

Pits were created for each well in which to put the water produced as a byproduct of the oil. Those fighting Chevron claimed that the 68 billion litres of water in the pits were toxic and were allowed to overflow into nearby rivers. They also claimed that Texaco spilt an additional 64 million litres of crude oil.

The contamination allegedly increased cancer rates in the area threefold, and led directly to 1400 deaths.

”Texaco treated Ecuador’s Amazon like a garbage dump,” said Douglas Beltman, a former official at the US Environmental Protection Agency who is a scientific consultant to the indigenous groups.

 



Does the Federal Reserve manipulate the stock market?

Does the Federal Reserve manipulate the stock market?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXmNpdYpfnk

 



Study Says World’s Stocks Controlled by Select Few

Study Says World’s Stocks Controlled by Select Few

Inside Science News
August 29, 2009

A recent analysis of the 2007 financial markets of 48 countries has revealed that the world’s finances are in the hands of just a few mutual funds, banks, and corporations. This is the first clear picture of the global concentration of financial power, and point out the worldwide financial system’s vulnerability as it stood on the brink of the current economic crisis.

A pair of physicists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich did a physics-based analysis of the world economy as it looked in early 2007. Stefano Battiston and James Glattfelder extracted the information from the tangled yarn that links 24,877 stocks and 106,141 shareholding entities in 48 countries, revealing what they called the “backbone” of each country’s financial market. These backbones represented the owners of 80 percent of a country’s market capital, yet consisted of remarkably few shareholders.

“You start off with these huge national networks that are really big, quite dense,” Glattfelder said. “From that you’re able to … unveil the important structure in this original big network. You then realize most of the network isn’t at all important.”

The most pared-down backbones exist in Anglo-Saxon countries, including the U.S., Australia, and the U.K. Paradoxically; these same countries are considered by economists to have the most widely-held stocks in the world, with ownership of companies tending to be spread out among many investors. But while each American company may link to many owners, Glattfelder and Battiston’s analysis found that the owners varied little from stock to stock, meaning that comparatively few hands are holding the reins of the entire market.

“If you would look at this locally, it’s always distributed,” Glattfelder said. “If you then look at who is at the end of these links, you find that it’s the same guys, [which] is not something you’d expect from the local view.”

Matthew Jackson, an economist from Stanford University in Calif. who studies social and economic networks, said that Glattfelder and Battiston’s approach could be used to answer more pointed questions about corporate control and how companies interact.

“It’s clear, looking at financial contagion and recent crises, that understanding interrelations between companies and holdings is very important in the future,” he said. “Certainly people have some understanding of how large some of these financial institutions in the world are, there’s some feeling of how intertwined they are, but there’s a big difference between having an impression and actually having … more explicit numbers to put behind it.”

Based on their analysis, Glattfelder and Battiston identified the ten investment entities who are “big fish” in the most countries. The biggest fish was the Capital Group Companies, with major stakes in 36 of the 48 countries studied. In identifying these major players, the physicists accounted for secondary ownership — owning stock in companies who then owned stock in another company — in an attempt to quantify the potential control a given agent might have in a market.

The results raise questions of where and when a company could choose to exert this influence, but Glattfelder and Battiston are reluctant to speculate.

“In this kind of science, complex systems, you’re not aiming at making predictions [like] … where the tennis ball will be at given place in given time,” Battiston said. “What you’re trying to estimate is … the potential influence that [an investor] has.”

Glattfelder added that the internationalism of these powerful companies makes it difficult to gauge their economic influence. “[With] new company structures which are so big and spanning the globe, it’s hard to see what they’re up to and what they’re doing,” he said. Large, sparse networks dominated by a few major companies could also be more vulnerable, he said. “In network speak, if those nodes fail, that has a big effect on the network.”

Trader: Market is manipulated and volumes ‘fictitious’

Gold prices are manipulated