Sunday, July 10, 2011

Potpouri of Things going on in the NEWS -- Can We Connect the Dots?

We are finding it more difficult for people -- stressed by job failure, economic failure, media failure, family failure, community failure, political  failure, and a failure of their own confidence to be the Demand in D-EMOCRACY -- to make connections. There are so many ways the American society dumbs us down. Man in Canada, I was just there for a week with movers and shakers in planing, development, ecological footprinting, architecture, green technology, sustainability. There are many things about Canadians that strike me -- my mother was born in Powell River, BC, about 70 miles north of Vancouver, where I was at the UBC institute on sustainability leadership -- that came back at me again July 4-9. They have a sense of optimism, a sense of a strong education system, a sense that Canada, with all that land and all those resources and that paltry population total -- 28 million population. They are wondering what the hell is going on in the lower 48 -- tea bagging hell. Huge cuts to our nation's one strength -- education, leadership in innovation and creativity and work. Education is the key, and the corporations have done the great theft -- taken away the will of our forefathers' goals to shape this country into a more democratic and open society, one that would take education and a tough Fourth Estate to the hilt in order to help shape the world. Weird that those guys like Jefferson were diversity's progenitors in odd ways -- not perfect, for sure, but compared  to this corporate, political, financial class of people at the top, almost a dream.

I'll connect these stories in a future blog, but for now -- it's clear how interrelated these stories are:

Congress is threatening to roll back a key energy efficiency victory our movement won in 2007. The "BULB Act" (H.R. 2417) attacks standards that would require new light bulbs to achieve higher efficiency levels - and it may reach a VOTE as early as Monday.

The BULB Act will COST American households $100 to $200 every year in missed energy savings. The bill's sponsors claim that the lighting efficiency standard is an outright ban on incandescent bulbs. On the contrary, advanced incandescents meet efficiency standards and they have created 2,000 new American jobs.

H.R. 2417 is simply a lose-lose-lose proposition for America. It will COST us money, kill green jobs, and pollute our air. Please, use your influence to stop the attacks on this fundamental energy efficiency mandate. Write your Senators and Representative, speak out against the BULB Act.

Tell Congress to Protect the Cost Saving Light Bulb Efficiency Standard - Strike Down the BULB Act

Passage of the BULB Act will result in 100 million tons of unnecessary global warming pollution per year - the equivalent of putting 17 million additional cars on the road. The missed energy savings will cost Americans $12 billion every single year.

In 2007, light bulb efficiency standards passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, and with backing from the lighting industry. Even George W. Bush supported these energy saving measures.

If Congress pulls away from this fundamental efficiency mandate, WE will foot the bill and our planet will suffer the consequences. Please send a letter Congress today, advocating a NO vote on the BULB Act.

Send a Message to Congress Opposing the Threat to Light Bulb Efficiency Standards

We expect a vote on Monday, please send your letter today. Let's make some noise and protect our planet!

Kathleen Rogers/
President, Earth Day Network

Illustration by Mr. Fish

Published on Monday, July 4, 2011 by

Ralph Nader Is Tired of Running for President

by Chris Hedges

The most important moral and intellectual voices within a disintegrating society are slowly discredited when their nonviolent protests and calls for justice cannot alter intransigent and corrupt systems of power. The repeated acts of peaceful civil disobedience, efforts at electoral and political reform and the fight to protect the rule of law are dismissed as useless by an embittered, dispossessed and betrayed public. The demagogues and hatemongers, the purveyors of violence, easily seduce enraged and bewildered masses in the final stages of collapse with false promises of vengeance, new glory and moral renewal. And in the spiral downward the good among us are reviled as naive and ineffectual fools.

There is no shortage of courageous dissidents in America. They seek to thwart the imperial disasters, looming financial insolvency and suicidal addiction to fossil fuel. They have stood in small knots on street corners week after week, month after month, year after year, to denounce the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have occupied banks, shut down coal-fired power plants, attempted to halt mountaintop removal, interfered with whaling ships and walked in blustery weather to the White House, where they were arrested. They are struggling to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza on a ship called the Audacity of Hope. But because the corporate state and the two major political parties are indifferent to principled calls for reform, and because the mass of the public still buys into the myths of globalization and the American dream, the plundering and destruction continue unimpeded.

Leaving Trader Joe's in Las Vegas!

Plus... Fair Food allies in California prepare for week-long Trader Joe's Tour, with meetings and actions from LA to San Francisco!

"Why I'm saying goodbye to Trader Joe's," is the title of an article published in the July 6th edition of the Las Vegas Weekly that reflects the sentiments of Trader Joe's customers everywhere, including more and more longtime customers who are growing increasingly disenchanted with the "progressive" grocer's indefensible decision to give farm labor justice the run-around in its tomato supply chain. Here's an excerpt:

"... Of course, Immokalee’s struggling farmworkers don’t have much to do with Las Vegas—except that they do, every time we go to Trader Joe’s. The friendly, yuppie grocery store that boasts bargain-basement prices on everything from produce to butternut squash bisque to frozen biryani, has refused to sign the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Campaign for Fair Food. Among the campaign’s demands: not to employ growers that tolerate worker abuses (which have gone as far as slavery) and a penny-per-pound price increase to be passed along to the people who do the picking.

TJ’s isn’t the only company ducking the CIW’s demands. Taco Bell, McDonald’s, Burger King, Subway and Whole Foods have all inked agreements, but to date, no other grocery chain has joined the campaign. Still, it’s Trader Joe’s that has me the most rankled, what with its organic and gluten-free options, ethical ambiance and smiley, Hawaiian-shirted staff. But mostly I’m upset, because TJ’s is my favorite. They even say they don’t have a problem paying the extra penny, they just object to some of the language and terms in the agreement. But until they sign, I won’t be going back. So please, Joe, get your act together. I miss that damn bisque."
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Why Eating Meat Could Give You Diabetes

Research is showing that exposure to certain pesticides and other toxic chemicals could cause diabetes.

July 6, 2011

The following article first appeared in Mother Jones.
The United States has one of the highest diabetes rates in the developed world—and the malady is spreading faster here than it is in most other rich nations, a recent Lancet study (registration required) found.

I've always associated our diabetes problem with the steady rise in sweetener consumption since the early '80s, triggered by the gusher of cheap high-fructose corn syrup that opened up at that time. But another culprit may be contributing, too: exposure to certain pesticides and other toxic chemicals. A new peer-reviewed study published in the journal Diabetes Care found a strong link between diabetes onset and blood levels of a group of harsh industrial chemicals charmingly known as "persistent organic pollutants" (POPs), most of which have been banned in the United States for years but still end up in our food (hence the "persistent" bit—they degrade very slowly).

The ones with the largest effect were PCBs, a class of highly toxic chemicals widely used as industrial coolants before being banished in 1979. Interestingly, the main US maker of PCBs, Monsanto, apparently knew about and tried to cover up their health-ruining effects long before the ban went into place. Organochlorine pesticides, another once-ubiquitous, now largely banned chemical group, also showed a significant influence on diabetes rates.

The Invisible Food Crisis

Food prices are going up everywhere. Will they start rising in America, too?

By Annie Lowrey

The next time you are in your local grocery store, look for signs of dramatic inflation. You won't find any. In all likelihood, your bananas and breakfast cereal and milk are about the same price as they were a year ago. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the price of a basket of common foods increased only about 1.5 percent in 2010, after declining 0.5 percent in 2009.

Perform the same exercise in an Egyptian or Bangladeshi market, and you would get a different picture. In the past few months, skyrocketing food prices have raised concern among economists and anti-hunger advocates—and rising food costs have even helped foment revolutions. This week, the World Bank reported that food prices increased 15 percent from October to January and have climbed 30 percent in the past year. Currently, the bank's price index sits just 3 percent below its 2008 record. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization keeps a separate index of food costs—and it blew past the all-time record last month. Wheat prices have doubled since last summer. The price of corn has risen about 75 percent since June. Prices for sugar and cooking oils have also jumped. The consequences are potentially devastating. The World Bank says that spiraling food costs have driven 44 million people into extreme poverty since June 2010.

What is causing such a drastic spike? And will it ever reach America?

The price spike is explained through a number of dynamics. First, farmers have diverted more resources to growing crops for biofuels, such as ethanol made from corn and biodiesel made from palm oil. Currently, the United States diverts millions of bushels of corn to fuel-production—whereas it diverted virtually no corn to the process 10 years ago. Writing in the Washington Post, Princeton scholar Tim Searchinger says that biofuels now eat up 6.5 percent of the world's grain supply and 8 percent of its vegetable oil. Such competition for crops pushes prices up.

Second, the simple laws of supply and demand are in play as well. In developing nations, more people are buying more food. Moreover, they are purchasing more meat, which requires not just the cow or pig, but the grain to feed it. And as demand for food has increased, there have been supply shocks. A few key producers of food, such as Russia and Australia, have suffered brutal droughts or floods. And because nations now tend to hold smaller stockpiles of grains and other staples—partially due to changing World Trade Organization rules—the food supply chain is now more sensitive to such supply shocks.

Finally, there are less direct market forces. Commodity speculation—traders making bets on the direction of commodity prices—can drive up the price of crops and fuel, a major component of food costs. The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has printed trillions of new dollars in the last two years—lowering interest rates in the United States and increasing the amount of money available for investment. Those dollars might be seeking returns in emerging markets, driving up inflation there. (Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said earlier this month that the price spike could be better explained by the faster pace of economic growth in emerging economies—the so-called "two-speed recovery.")

Red more --


Headlines -- DEMOCRACY NOW

As Debt Talks Threaten Medicare, Social Security, Study Finds U.S. Spending $4 Trillion on War

As part of ongoing debt negotiations, the White House has proposed slashing more than $4 trillion from annual budget deficits over the next decade — twice what Obama had proposed earlier. While much of the talk in Washington centers on taxes, Social Security and Medicare, far less attention is being paid to the growing cost of the U.S. wars overseas. A new report from Brown University has estimated the true cost of the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will end up costing approximately $4 trillion — far more than the Bush or Obama administrations have acknowledged. The authors of the study reveal that because the war has been financed almost entirely by borrowing, $185 billion in interest has already been paid on war spending, and another $1 trillion could accrue in interest alone through 2020. We speak with Neta Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War Project, and a Professor of Political Science at Boston University.

UN: Drought, Violence Causing "Unimaginable Human Tragedy" in Somalia
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is warning violence and severe drought in Somalia is leading to a “human tragedy of unimaginable proportions." Some 54,000 people fled Somalia into the neighboring nations of Kenya and Ethipoia in June alone, three times the number of Somalis who sought refuge in May. Over 50 percent of the children arriving in Ethiopia, and up to 40 percent of those arriving in Kenya, are reportedly malnourished. The UN is receiving increasing reports of children under five dying en route to their destination. UNICEF spokesperson Michael Klaus said the crisis is amplified by rising food prices.

Michael Klaus: "The drought situation in the Horn of Africa I definitely one of the worst we have seen in the past decade, it is worsened by the sky rocketing food prices which we have seen, in Somalia we have seen increases of more than 200% parts of northern Kenya more than 80% increase compared to last year which is really very severe. We now see more or less 10 million people in urgent need of humanitarian assistance; some 2.8 million of those are in Somalia so that is 1 in every 3 Somalis actually in need of assistance. Malnutrition rates particularly in the south are really high — we see now that 1 in 3 children in the south are severely.

Vermont Won’t Charge Nuclear Plant Owner Over Radioactive Leak
Vermont prosecutors have decided not to file charges against the owners the state’s lone nuclear plant, the Vermont Yankee. Entergy Corporation had been under investigation for misleading officials during a probe into a radioactive tritium leak at the plant in 2010. Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell said he believes Entergy held back information but said the case lacks sufficient evidence to ensure a conviction.

William Sorrell: "As of now, no criminal charges will be filed against the corporation or any employee. Entergy and certain of its personnel have acted in — at best — an untrustworthy manner. However, we lack the smoking gun evidence to prove to our satisfaction, let alone that of 12 Vermont jurors, this untrustworthy behavior was criminal."

Exxon Mobil: No Repair Plans in Place for Ruptured Montana Pipeline
The oil giant Exxon Mobil has acknowledged it is yet to develop a repair plan for a ruptured oil pipeline beneath Montana’s Yellowstone River. The Exxon Mobil Pipeline Company says as much as 42,000-gallons of crude oil has leaked into the water and onto surrounding lands. On Tuesday, “Democracy Now! spoke to area resident and farmer Alexis Bonogofsky about the spill.

Alexis Bonogofsky: “The place where there’s oil on our property is a really diverse area with lots of diverse plant species and wildlife. Usually when you go down there in the evening, that’s all you can hear — frogs, toads, a lot of insects, crickets, and birds. And right now you walk there at dusk and don’t hear anything.”

In Reversal, Admin to Send Condolence Letters to Families of Vets Who Committed Suicide
The Obama administration has reversed a longstanding U.S. policy to deny presidential condolence letters to families of soldiers who have committed suicide. Democracy Now! broke this story in 2009 when we interviewed the parents of Chancellor Keesling, a U.S. soldier who took his own life during his second tour of duty in Iraq. During his first deployment, Chancellor suffered mental health issues so severe he was placed on suicide watch. After getting back to the United States, Chancellor turned down a bonus offer to return to Iraq in the hopes that he would not be redeployed and could get his life together. He committed suicide one month after the military forced him to return.
E-D-U-C-A-T-I-O-N --
I-N-F-O-R-M-E-D Populace
P-A-T-I-C-I-P-A-T-O-R-Y democracy
F-R-E-E- S-P-E-E-C-H
So what does a sustainability blog have to do with all of this politicized and holistic stuff? As I saw at the University of British Columbia's leadership institute, of which I am a graduate, the easy stuff is Net Zero or Net Positive building construction, or measuring carbon emissions, or fancy computer dash boarding of all sorts of things to measure a company's green policies and actions. It's the social sustainability stuff that is the heavy lift, the messy stuff, the real substantive material to work on. Social justice, social responsibility, ecological justice.
Without free speech, education, participation from the bottom up, and free speech, we have an uninformed society. The corporate state is NOT where we want to go. Yet, in Canada, all these greenies worry about the third world Wild West nature of America's fall from grace -- our violence-ridden society and the backward nature of things scares the crap out of them -- they still have no idea of the great push in the country, decaying and crumbling as it is, of a movement to stop the corporate state.

The greenies in Canada still do not get the rush of activity in this decaying and defunct culture of a huge movement to call a spade a spade, and more and more over-educated out of work folk will be call out the corporate wrongdoing abetted by the political class. Canadians in the traditional sustainability arena think that two rights and ten wrongs equal right, or the right direction. So, GE and other corporations are bagging way more than their legal limit in Canada because Canadians have a belief that any amount of new black the green economy generates is better than nothing at all, even if it comes in the form of bad companies doing bad business but offering green measures. Oh well, read on and make the connections from the above to this great piece.

Sorry about the long blog, but that's that.

GE: "Imagination at Work" in Building the Corporate State

By Miles Mogulescu

I was watching Meet the Press on Sunday as a panel of Washington insiders offered a variety of views from across the political spectrum ranging from A to B. Halfway through the program an authoritative-sounding voice interjected itself into the proceedings to announce, "Meet the Press is Sponsored by GE: Imagination at Work" while a GE "Imagination at Work" logo filled the screen.

And I thought, there you have it: The perfect embodiment of the emerging corporate state in which discussion of our economics and politics is dominated by a handful of multinational conglomerates; the middle class is hollowed out; wealth is concentrated in the top 1% who pay a lower and lower percentage of their personal and corporate income in taxes as the government is increasingly unable to afford basic services like public schools; political leaders blame teachers and unions for our financial plight and undermine collective bargaining; corporate functionaries rotate between business and government; corporations can make unlimited donations to political candidates who advance their interests; and the Washington pundit class calls on politicians to have the "courage" to cut Social Security and Medicare because "America is broke and we can no longer afford it".

GE: You may think they're the guys who "bring good things to life" by manufacturing refrigerators and washing machines in American factories, paying living union wages and benefits, and selling affordable appliances to American consumers. But that was yesterday; this is today. Today, less than 6% of GE's revenues come from its consumer appliance division. GE's main businesses are global finance, media, energy, defense contracting, and lobbying the government for tax breaks and subsidies.

GE is incorporated in New York and its worldwide headquarters are at 30 Rockefeller Plaza ("30 Rock") where every Christmas they're kind enough to display quite a lovely tree for the public to enjoy. But its wealthy top executives, like those of many American-based global corporations, are increasingly untethered from any interest in the economic and social well being of America as a whole. Here's a snapshot of some of GE's global businesses:

• GE Media: Not only does GE sponsor Meet the Press, which is highly influential in setting the policy agenda in Washington. It owns 49% of NBC Universal whose media assets include not only the NBC TV network (including NBC News) and local stations in America's largest cities, but Universal Studios (one of the 5 major US film studios), Telemundo, which is the second largest Spanish language TV network in the US, and such cable networks as Bravo, CNBC, MSNBC, SyFy, USA Network, the Weather Channel, and (in partnership with Hearst and Disney/ABC) A&E, the Biography Channel, the History Channel, and Lifetime, along with television networks in other countries around the world. There's hardly an area of the motion picture, television, and TV news business where GE doesn't own a substantial stake.

• GE Financial Services: GE's financial arm, GE Capital, is responsible for 30% of GE's revenues and more than half its profits. If it were classified as a bank, GE would be the 7th largest bank in America. As the New York Times put it, "many Wall Street analysts view G.E. not as a manufacturer but as an unregulated lender that also makes dishwashers and M.R. I. machines."

Since GE is not classified as a bank, it manages to avoid most of the regulation that applies to banks. Nevertheless, during the 2008 financial crisis, GE deployed a team of top lobbyists (GE spent nearly $40 million in lobbying last year) to convince the federal government to allow it to exploit a loophole (it owns two small Utah savings and loans) to become one of the largest recipients of Federal bank bailout funds. Unlike other banks like Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Citigroup, it didn't take the bailout funds through TARP and thus wasn't subject to TARP restrictions, such as limits on executive compensation -- in 2010, GE CEO and Obama economic advisor Jeffrey Immelt made $15.2 million.

Rather it took the bailout funds in the form of $139 billion in Federal guarantees of GE Capital debt under the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program (TLGP), nearly 25% of the total federal funds provided under the program. The Federal guarantees expires in 2012, a date known in banking circles as "the cliff", since at that time the Federal government will have to make good on the debt if GE and other borrowers don't honor their obligations. But despite the fact that a large part of GE's profits are due to financial support from the Federal government, and the Feds are liable for a big part of GE's debts, GE pays not a single dollar in Federal taxes.

• GE Energy: The GE Energy Infrastructure unit of GE is made up of 3 GE companies, GE Energy, GE Oil & Gas and GE Water Process Technologies. While GE is developing a large solar energy business in the hopes of taking advantage of government-subsidized financing, and has launched its "Ecomagination" ad campaign in the hope of marketing itself as a green company, it has a record as one of the largest corporate polluters. Using EPA data, the Political Economy Research Institute found that GE is the 4th biggest producer of air pollution in the US. According to the EPA, only the US government, Honeywell and Chevron produce more Superfund toxic waste sites.

But most striking, GE designed and built one of the six nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan that is now spewing radiaton, and built two of the others in partnership with Toshiba. These Japanese nuclear plants are based on GE's Mark 1 boiling-water reactor designs that were marketed by GE as cheaper and easier to build than other designs. But according to the New York Times, "it has long been thought to be more susceptible to failure in an emergency than competing designs." GE, it brings good things to life.

• GE Defense Contracting: GE is a key member of the military/industrial complex which, according to its own reports, in 2009 sold over $5 billion in military products both to the United States and foreign governments, including engines for naval vessels and military aircraft such as fighters, tankers, helicopters, surveillance aircraft and bombers. Among other things, GE provides alternative engines for the F-15 Fighter jets, one of which, costing $30 million, was shot down over Libya last week. Naturally, the nearly $40 million dollars a year GE spends on lobbying seeks to protect Federal spending on GE-manufactured armaments and doesn't suggest lowering the deficit by cutting America's defense spending which nearly equals the aggregate total defense spending of every other country in the world combined.

• GE Lobbying and Tax Avoidance Divisions: While not officially operating divisions, GE's tax avoidance, lobbying, and political contribution operations may effectively be among the most profitable areas of the GE empire.

According to an investigative report in last week's New York Times, in 2010 GE reported $14.2 billion in worldwide profits, including $5.1 billion from US operations, but GE owed exactly $0 dollars in Federal taxes. In fact it claimed a tax benefit from Uncle Sam of $3.2 billion. Over the past 5 years, GE has accumulated $26 billion in American profits, yet received $4.1 billion in net Federal tax benefits. Yet contradicting Republican political claims that cutting tax on corporations and the wealthy creates American jobs, since 2002, GE has eliminated 20% of its US work force while expanding job creation overseas.

According to the Times:

It's extraordinary success is based on an aggressive strategy that mixes fierce lobbying for tax breaks and innovative accounting that enables it to concentrate its profits offshore. G.E.'s giant tax department, led by a bow-tied former Treasury official named John Samuels, is often referred to as the world's best tax laws firm. Indeed, the company's slogan 'Imagination at Work' fits this department well. The team includes officials not just from the Treasury, but also from the I.R.S. and virtually all the tax-writing committees in Congress...Over the last decade, G.E. has spent tens of millions of dollars to push for changes in tax law.

It's a classic example of how the modern corporate state operates. Moderately paid employees at government regulatory agencies and key congressional committees aspire to lucrative jobs at GE and other major corporations when they retire from government if they write regulations and laws which enhance corporate profits. Corporations then rotate some of their employees back for new stints in government service where they insure rules and laws favorable to the corporations.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, GE spent nearly $40 million in lobbying in 2010 (over $200 million in the past decade) and contributed $2,230,270 to Republican and Democratic House and Senate candidates in 2010. This doesn't count things like an $11 million donation from GE's foundation to schools in the district of Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel, then Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which "coincidentally" came a month after Rangel reversed his position to support continuation of a tax break which, according to a regulatory filing, had saved GE more than $1 billion on US taxes in the 3 years after it was enacted.

And it doesn't include perhaps GE's biggest political coup of all, President Obama appointing GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt -- the man who presided over GE's success in avoiding taxes and eliminating American jobs -- to replace Paul Volcker as head of Obama's panel of economic advisers, the newly renamed President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. It's the ultimate case of regulatory capture in which the industries being regulated by the government come to dominate the agencies charged with regulating them. This time it's the White House itself. The man who presided over GE's success in avoiding American taxes on its $14.2 billion in profits and in eliminating 20% of its American workforce gets to advise the president on how to rebuild the economy and create American jobs. (Hint: I don't think it will include raising taxes on the rich, reducing military spending, strengthening regulation of business, or increasing worker rights.)

So there you have GE's "imagination at work". A bank that's not a bank but gets over $100 billion in Federal bank bailout loan guarantees. An energy company that builds the nuclear reactors that are radiating people in Japan. A major defense contractor that profits from America's wars. A media company that owns TV networks, movie studios and major news operations. A political lobbyist and campaign donor whose executives rotate between business and government and back again and create loopholes that allows the largest corporation in the world to pay no taxes. A corporation whose $15 million a year CEO is appointed by President Obama to be his chief advisor on creating jobs. It's the very definition of the corporate state at work.

Fighting back to protect democratic rights and the income and economic security of the middle class is in some ways a more complicated in an ostensibly democratic, but increasingly corporate-run, country like the United States than it is more directly authoritarian societies like those in the Middle East. But we have no choice but to fight back if America is to continue as a broadly middle class nation where most people can realistically hope that their children will live a better life than they do. The protests sparked by Republican overreaching on behalf of corporations in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan may be the beginning of a movement to reclaim America's middle class dream.

This past weekend, 250,000-400,000 people marched in London to protest the conservative government's draconian cuts in social services and the failure of some of Britain's largest corporation to pay a fair share of taxes. It's vital that the movement they began cross the Atlantic Perhaps a good next step in America would be a well-organized boycott of GE, accompanied by mass demonstrations at GE headquarters and sales outlets, to make GE the poster child for corporate greed in response to its failure to pay US taxes on its billions in profits while exporting jobs overseas. It wouldn't, by itself, stop GE. But it might focus the country on the manifest injustices wrought by companies like GE and encourage the emergence of a progressive Tea Party-type movement against the power of the growing corporate state.

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