Apple Flouts Verizon's Text Charges for iPhone Users—Saving Customers a 4,090 Percent
Here's a stock tip. It looks like Apple has figured out a way to take a huge chunk of Verizon's business and give it back to the people who use iPhones. Instead of having your texting conversation over a cellular network, why not just do it over the internet on your phone? That way, it's just part of your data plan, and the tiny amount of information in a text message isn't going to overload your data plan. Texting will be effectively free. And that's bad news for Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and anyone else whose business model is to overcharge the crap out of people for their text messages.
More than two trillion text messages are sent each year in the United States, generating more than $20 billion in revenue for the wireless industry. Verizon Wireless alone generates as much as $7 billion a year in revenue from texting, or about 12 percent of the total, Mr. Moffett said, and texting brings in about a third of the operating income.
Yeah, I'd sell my Verizon, if I had any. And it couldn't happen to a bigger set of swindlers.
Professor [Srinivasan] Keshav estimates it costs the carriers about a third of a penny to send text messages. Considering that the major carriers charge 10 to 20 cents to send and receive them, “it’s something like a 4,090 percent markup,” he said.
At 20 cents and 160 characters per message, wireless customers are paying roughly $1,500 to send a megabyte of text traffic over the cell network. By comparison, the cost to send that same amount of data using a $25-a-month, two-gigabyte data plan works out to 1.25 cents.
I hope Apple confiscates all that business and gives the money back to the people. The mark-up on text messages is nothing less than theft. Imagine, a third of Verizon's operating income is based in a simple crime that Apple can now rectify. Bring on the iMessage.
What's that word again, the one that describes what many businesses practice?
Oh yeah, GREED!
Who Really Owns The NYPD? Turns Out It's Not Such A Rhetorical Question
I wrote last week about the multi-million dollar contribution to the NYPD from JPChase, but it turns out the corporate influence goes much deeper than that. Pam Martens, an activist who successfully sued the NYPD after her arrest for handing out leaflets about corruption at Citibank, tells us a lot of things we didn't know about the relationship between the NYPD and Wall Street, and it's jawdropping information:
If you’re a Wall Street behemoth, there are endless opportunities to privatize profits and socialize losses beyond collecting trillions of dollars in bailouts from taxpayers. One of the ingenious methods that has remained below the public’s radar was started by the Rudy Giuliani administration in New York City in 1998. It’s called the Paid Detail Unit and it allows the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street corporations, including those repeatedly charged with crimes, to order up a flank of New York’s finest with the ease of dialing the deli for a pastrami on rye.
The corporations pay an average of $37 an hour (no medical, no pension benefit, no overtime pay) for a member of the NYPD, with gun, handcuffs and the ability to arrest. The officer is indemnified by the taxpayer, not the corporation.
New York City gets a 10 percent administrative fee on top of the $37 per hour paid to the police. The City’s 2011 budget called for $1,184,000 in Paid Detail fees, meaning private corporations were paying wages of $11.8 million to police participating in the Paid Detail Unit. The program has more than doubled in revenue to the city since 2002.
The taxpayer has paid for the training of the rent-a-cop, his uniform and gun, and will pick up the legal tab for lawsuits stemming from the police personnel following illegal instructions from its corporate master. Lawsuits have already sprung up from the program.
Apparently the city doesn't bother to insure the NYPD for liability, saying it's cheaper to shell out for settlements. (Here's a guy who was strong-armed by those private detail cops for daring to attempt to use the bathroom during a 9/11 tribute at a Yankees game. Wonder how much that cost the city? In the past decade, the NYPD has paid almost a billion dollars in legal settlements.)
When the program was first rolled out, one insightful member of the NYPD posted the following on a forum: “… regarding the officer working for, and being paid by, some of the richest people and organizations in the City, if not the world, enforcing the mandates of the private employer, and in effect, allowing the officer to become the Praetorian Guard of the elite of the City. And now corruption is no longer a problem. Who are they kidding?”
[...] When the infamously mismanaged Wall Street firm, Lehman Brothers, collapsed on September 15, 2008, its bankruptcy filings in 2009 showed it owed money to 21 members of the NYPD’s Paid Detail Unit. (A phone call and email request to the NYPD for information on which Wall Street firms participate in the program were not responded to. The police unions appear to have only scant information about the program.)
Other Wall Street firms that are known to have used the Paid Detail include Goldman Sachs, the World Financial Center complex which houses financial firms, and the New York Stock Exchange.
[...] On September 8, 2004, Robert Britz, then President and Co-Chief Operating Officer of the New York Stock Exchange, testified as follows to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services:
“…we have implemented new hiring standards requiring former law enforcement or military backgrounds for the security staff…We have established a 24-hour NYPD Paid Detail monitoring the perimeter of the data centers…We have implemented traffic control and vehicle screening at the checkpoints. We have installed fixed protective planters and movable vehicle barriers.”
Military backgrounds; paid NYPD 24-7; checkpoints; vehicle barriers? It might be insightful to recall that the New York Stock Exchange originally traded stocks with a handshake under a Buttonwood tree in the open air on Wall Street.
In his testimony, the NYSE executive Britz states that “we” did this or that while describing functions that clearly belong to the City of New York. The New York Stock Exchange at that time had not yet gone public and was owned by those who had purchased seats on the exchange – primarily, the largest firms on Wall Street. Did the NYSE simply give itself police powers to barricade streets and set up checkpoints with rented cops? How about clubbing protesters on the sidewalk?
[...] Police Commissioner Ray Kelly may also have a soft spot for Wall Street. He was formerly Senior Managing Director of Global Corporate Security at Bear, Stearns & Co. Inc., the Wall Street firm that collapsed into the arms of JPMorgan in March of 2008.
There has also been a bizarre revolving door between the Wall Street millionaires and the NYPD at times. One of the most puzzling career moves was made by Stephen L. Hammerman. He left a hefty compensation package as Vice Chairman of Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2002 to work as Deputy Commissioner of Legal Matters for the NYPD from 2002 to 2004. That move had everyone on Wall Street scratching their head at the time. Merrill collapsed into the arms of Bank of America on September 15, 2008, the same date that Lehman went under.
Wall Street is not the only sector renting cops in Manhattan. Department stores, parks, commercial banks and landmarks like Rockefeller Center, Jacob Javits Center and St. Patrick’s Cathedral have also participated in the Paid Detail Unit, according to insiders. But Wall Street is the only sector that runs a private justice system where its crimes are herded off to secret arbitration tribunals, has sucked on the public teat to the tune of trillions of dollars, escaped prosecution for the financial collapse, and can put an armed municipal force on the sidewalk to intimidate public protestors seeking a realignment of their democracy.
We may be learning a lot more in the future about the tactics Wall Street and the NYPD have deployed against the Occupy Wall Street protestors. The highly regarded Partnership for Civil Justice Fund has filed a class action lawsuit over the approximately 700 arrests made on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1. The formal complaint and related information is available at the organization’s web site, www.JusticeOnLine.org.
The organization was founded by Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard. The Washington Post has called them “the constitutional sheriffs for a new protest generation.”
The suit names Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly, the City of New York, 30 unnamed members of the NYPD, and, provocatively, 10 unnamed law enforcement officers not employed by the NYPD:
Defendants JOHN or JANE DOES 31 - 40 are unidentified law enforcement officials, officers or agents who, although not employed by the NYPD, did engage in joint action with the NYPD and its officials, officers and agents to cause the mass false arrest of the plaintiff class.
I contacted Martens for clarification. She said the attorneys seem to believe the FBI and/or Secret Service may have had a presence in or around the protest. Martens has also filed a "sunshine" request under NY state laws to see how many of the 30 NYPD referenced in the lawsuit were working for Wall Street that day.
Anyone still doubt that we live in a corporatocracy?
This Accurately Sums It Up
The Rise of the Reverse Houdinis
Posted on Oct 13, 2011
By E.J. Dionne, Jr.
So let’s see: The solution to large-scale abuses of the financial system, a breakdown of the private sector, extreme economic inequality and the failure of companies and individuals to invest and create jobs is—well, to give even more money and power to very wealthy people, to disable government and to trust those who got us into the mess to get us out of it.
That’s a brief summary of the news from the Republican Party this week. It’s what Republican candidates said during the Washington Post-Bloomberg debate, and it’s the signal Senate Republicans sent in voting as a bloc against President Obama’s jobs bill. Don’t just do something, stand there.
Those who have plenty of capital to invest are holding back because consumers don’t have enough cash. But let’s not give potential middle-class buyers jobs and money to spend. No, let’s heap yet more resources onto investors. And if sharp guys made fortunes writing abusive mortgages, let’s repeal all the rules we just passed to prevent them from doing the same thing again.
Better yet, don’t blame the people who got the windfalls. Blame poor people. Thus did Rep. Michele Bachmann place responsibility for the mortgage mess on the Community Reinvestment Act, a law aimed at preventing discrimination against people in neighborhoods, many of them predominantly African-American, where banks wouldn’t make loans. The CRA had nothing to do with the proliferation of subprime mortgages; old-fashioned greed did the trick there. But it’s so much easier to pass the buck to the powerless. They don’t make many campaign contributions.
Then there is Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan, the only policy proposal to get really serious attention at Tuesday’s encounter. The biggest flaw in Cain’s scheme barely got discussed. It is designed to shift the tax burden away from the wealthy and toward the middle class and the poor by cutting income, corporate, capital gains and estate taxes. It would then collect a lot of new money from a 9 percent federal sales tax, layered on top of existing sales taxes. Plutocracy, thy name is 9-9-9
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who dominated the debate, is much smoother than his adversaries. He even had some good words for the struggling middle class and spoke with concern about getting health insurance to children. (Romney’s desire to provide poor kids with a chance to see a doctor will surely bring down upon the architect of Obamneycare charges of socialism.)
For the most part, though, Romney was selling the same wares as everyone else. “The answer is to cut federal spending,” he said. “The answer is to cap how much the federal government can spend as a percentage of our economy and have a balanced budget amendment.” But wait: This was the answer to every question that was posed in New Hampshire. There’s no problem that can’t be solved if the federal government just does absolutely nothing about it.
And thus spoke Republicans in the Senate on the same day as the debate. In any other democracy, we would say that Obama’s jobs bill passed its first test in the Senate because 51 out of 100 senators were for moving it along. But not in America, where we now require 60 votes to get a bill out of the Senate—despite the fact that our Constitution, supposedly so revered by conservative “strict constructionists,” says absolutely nothing about a Senate supermajority.
The jobs bill is a pretty simple mix of tax cuts and spending on popular items such as schools and roads. Its core idea accords with what the vast majority of economists (and a lot of business people) think needs to be done now: In the absence of private-sector investment and job creation, the federal government should be the investor of last resort to get the economy moving. This should be an urgent priority with unemployment stuck at more than 9 percent.
But no, “don’t do something, stand there” is the order of the day. Every Republican senator present voted to block the jobs bill. Government is to be powerless because the country’s most energetic ideological minority has declared that it must be powerless.
Years ago, Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat much maligned during the Post/Bloomberg debate, introduced me to the concept of the “Reverse Houdinis.” They are people who tie themselves up in knots and then declare, “I can’t do anything because I’m all tied up in knots.” We seem on the verge of putting Reverse Houdinis in charge of our government.
When your ONLY concern is to destroy the president and regain absolute power (Mitch McConnell: My highest priority is to defeat the president) then you do everything you can to win and the country gets destroyed too. But they don't care. It's only power and what it gets you that they care about. This is what conservatives do. And the dems let them.
Democracy Versus Bankers at the Fed
Monday 17 October 2011
by: Dean Baker, Truthout | News Analysis
The Federal Reserve Board has provided the basis for thousands of conspiracy theories in its near 100-year existence. These conspiracies have some basis in reality as can be seen by the Fed's recent moves on monetary policy. In the last two meetings of the Fed's Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Fed's key decision-making body, the members appointed through the political process unanimously supported stronger measures to spur growth and create jobs. By contrast, three of the five voting members appointed by the banking industry opposed further action.
This extraordinary split has not received the attention it deserves. It suggests that the financial industry is using its power at the Fed to try to block the course preferred by the appointees of democratically elected officials of both parties.
The Fed is an enormously important if poorly understood institution. Its control of monetary policy (primarily short-term interest rates), gives it the ability to speed up or slow growth. It also has enormous regulatory power. Alan Greenspan could have used this authority to put a check on the junk loans that fueled the housing bubble in the years 2002-2006.
If the Fed wants to ensure that the economy does not grow too rapidly it can slow growth by pushing up interest rates. This was the cause of all the post-war recessions prior to the last two as the Fed raised interest rates in order to reduce growth and employment and, thereby, slow inflation.
The Fed can also boost growth by lowering interest rates. To counteract the current recession, the Fed lowered its short-term rate to zero. Since this is as low as interest rates can go - the Fed can't have negative interest rates - the Fed has tried to reduce long-term interest rates by measures such as the quantitative easing policies adopted in 2009 and 2010, and more recently the purchase of long-term bonds through "Operation Twist."
This is where the issues of control come in. The FOMC has 19 members. Seven of these members are governors of the Federal Reserve Board. These governors are appointed by the president and approved by Congress. They serve a 14-year term. The extraordinary length is intended to ensure their independence. They can use their best judgment without worrying that the current president or Congress will take away their job.
However, the other 12 members of the FOMC are not appointed by democratically elected officials. They are the 12 regional bank presidents. While the process of selecting the regional bank presidents is somewhat complicated, it is largely controlled by the banks within a region. This means that 12 of the 19 members of the FOMC are selected by the banks. At any point in time, only five of the 12 bank presidents have a vote. This gives the governors a 7-5 majority among the voting members, even though they are outnumbered 12-7 on the FOMC as a whole.
Most of the time, decisions by the FOMC are unanimous. The FOMC typically discusses the current economic situation for two to three hours and considers possible actions. By the time a vote is called, everyone has expressed their opinion so the outcome is already known. In the interest of showing support for the Fed, most members agree to support the majority decision to make it unanimous. Occasionally, one member will make a point of dissenting to show that he or she felt strongly about the issue being considered.
The last two meetings of the FOMC were extraordinary in that they featured not one, but three dissents. Furthermore, it was striking that all three dissents came from the bank presidents who were appointed by the banking industry.
The immediate issue at hand is whether the Fed should be trying to do more to boost growth and create jobs. The five governors (there are two vacancies) appointed through the democratic process all felt that it was important to do more to generate jobs. This was a bipartisan sentiment. Three of these members were appointed by President Obama, one was appointed by President Bush and one (Chairman Bernanke) was appointed by both.
However of the five people appointed by the banking industry, three voted against stronger measures. The likely explanation is that bankers don't care much about unemployment. After all, they have jobs, as do most of their friends. On the other hand, inflation is really bad news for banks. It directly reduces the value of their assets.
This means that when the Fed debates a policy that risks somewhat higher inflation in order to reduce unemployment, the bankers' answer is to screw the unemployed. The outrageous part of this story is that the bankers don't have to push their agenda as an outside interest group; they actually have seats directly given to them on the FOMC.
This would be like letting Pfizer or Merck pick two of the five commissioners for the Food and Drug Administration, or letting Comcast and Disney pick members of the Federal Communications Commission. All regulatory agencies are susceptible to inappropriate influence by the affected industry groups, but in the case of the Fed, the country's most important regulatory body, the industry group is already on the inside.
An overhaul of the Fed is long overdue. It should be turned into a body that directly answers to Congress just like every other regulatory agency. And the bankers must go. This would be a great way to mark the Fed's 100th anniversary in 2013. We can make it an institution that is consistent with democracy.
Isn't it fun to see how capitalism really works?
Monsanto Tries to Benefit from Haiti’s Earthquake
In May 2010, six months after an earthquake destroyed Haiti, the American multinational Monsanto donated the country 60 tons of corn and vegetable hybrid seed. The United States International Development Agency (USAID) took charge of the seed distribution.
A month later, the 4th of June of 2010, around 10,000 Haitian farmers demonstrated against Monsanto’s donation. “If Monsanto’s seed enters Haiti, farmer’s seed will disappear” Doudou Pierre Festil, member of Papaye Farmers’ Movement and coordinator of the National Sovereignty and Food Security Network. Haitian farmers denounce that Monsanto’s seeds can’t be reused each year, which leads to the necessity of buying new seed to the multinational every new sowing season. Moreover, the Organization Farmer’s Route has warned that the entering of Monsanto’s seeds could force the farmers to depend on the company. This dependence could also extend to the fertilizers and herbicides required by the American Multinational who also produces them.
“Haitian government is using the earthquake to sell the country to multinationals”, has declared Chavannes Jean Baptiste, coordinator of Papaye Farmer’s Movement. Monsanto is the World biggest seed company: it controls 20% of the seed market and the 90% of agricultural biotechnological patents. The earthquake that devastated Haiti in January 2010 left 300,000 dead people and half a million wounded people and destroyed around a million homes.
Monsanto is trying to control the use of seeds for various crops WORLD-WIDE. If you use theirs you have to pay for purchasing them every year.
They are also a leader in growing genetically manipulated crops. They're fighting the labeling of products to show that they are genetically engineered.
Europe has limited the sale of food that is genetically engineered.
This company is EVIL!!! Greed rules, mfkr!!!
GM crops promote superweeds, food insecurity and pesticides, say NGOs
Report finds genetically modified crops fail to increase yields let alone solve hunger, soil erosion and chemical-use issues.
John Vidal, The Guardian
GM crops promote superweeds, food insecurity and pesticides, say NGOs Link to this video Genetic engineering has failed to increase the yield of any food crop but has vastly increased the use of chemicals and the growth of "superweeds", according to a report by 20 Indian, south-east Asian, African and Latin American food and conservation groups representing millions of people.
The so-called miracle crops, which were first sold in the US about 20 years ago and which are now grown in 29 countries on about 1.5bn hectares (3.7bn acres) of land, have been billed as potential solutions to food crises, climate change and soil erosion, but the assessment finds that they have not lived up to their promises.
The report claims that hunger has reached "epic proportions" since the technology was developed. Besides this, only two GM "traits" have been developed on any significant scale, despite investments of tens of billions of dollars, and benefits such as drought resistance and salt tolerance have yet to materialise on any scale.
Most worrisome, say the authors of the Global Citizens' Report on the State of GMOs, is the greatly increased use of synthetic chemicals, used to control pests despite biotech companies' justification that GM-engineered crops would reduce insecticide use.
In China, where insect-resistant Bt cotton is widely planted, populations of pests that previously posed only minor problems have increased 12-fold since 1997. A 2008 study in the International Journal of Biotechnology found that any benefits of planting Bt cotton have been eroded by the increasing use of pesticides needed to combat them.
Additionally, soya growers in Argentina and Brazil have been found to use twice as much herbicide on their GM as they do on conventional crops, and a survey by Navdanya International, in India, showed that pesticide use increased 13-fold since Bt cotton was introduced.
The report, which draws on empirical research and companies' own statements, also says weeds are now developing resistance to the GM firms' herbicides and pesticides that are designed to be used with their crops, and that this has led to growing infestations of "superweeds", especially in the US.
Ten common weeds have now developed resistance in at least 22 US states, with about 6m hectares (15m acres) of soya, cotton and corn now affected.
Consequently, farmers are being forced to use more herbicides to combat the resistant weeds, says the report. GM companies are paying farmers to use other, stronger, chemicals, they say. "The genetic engineering miracle is quite clearly faltering in farmers' fields," add the authors.
The companies have succeeded in marketing their crops to more than 15 million farmers, largely by heavy lobbying of governments, buying up local seed companies, and withdrawing conventional seeds from the market, the report claims. Monsanto, Dupont and Syngenta, the world's three largest GM companies, now control nearly 70% of global seed sales. This allows them to "own" and sell GM seeds through patents and intellectual property rights and to charge farmers extra, claims the report.
The study accuses Monsanto of gaining control of over 95% of the Indian cotton seed market and of massively pushing up prices. High levels of indebtedness among farmers is thought to be behind many of the 250,000 deaths by suicide of Indian farmers over the past 15 years.
The report, which is backed by Friends of the Earth International, the Center for Food Safety in the US, Confédération Paysanne, and the Gaia foundation among others, also questions the safety of GM crops, citing studies and reports which indicate that people and animals have experienced apparent allergic reactions.
But it suggests scientists are loath to question the safety aspects for fear of being attacked by establishment bodies, which often receive large grants from the companies who control the technology.
Monsanto disputes the report's findings: "In our view the safety and benefits of GM are well established. Hundreds of millions of meals containing food from GM crops have been consumed and there has not been a single substantiated instance of illness or harm associated with GM crops."
It added: "Last year the National Research Council, of the US National Academy of Sciences, issued a report, The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States, which concludes that US farmers growing biotech crops 'are realising substantial economic and environmental benefits – such as lower production costs, fewer pest problems, reduced use of pesticides, and better yields – compared with conventional crops'."
David King, the former UK chief scientist who is now director of the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment at Oxford University, has blamed food shortages in Africa partly on anti-GM campaigns in rich countries.
But, the report's authors claim, GM crops are adding to food insecurity because most are now being grown for biofuels, which take away land from local food production.
Vandana Shiva, director of the Indian organisation Navdanya International, which co-ordinated the report, said: "The GM model of farming undermines farmers trying to farm ecologically. Co-existence between GM and conventional crops is not possible because genetic pollution and contamination of conventional crops is impossible to control.
"Choice is being undermined as food systems are increasingly controlled by giant corporations and as chemical and genetic pollution spread. GM companies have put a noose round the neck of farmers. They are destroying alternatives in the pursuit of profit."
Money, money and more money.
Notice how power politics - corporate money which is POWER - influences everything.
OWS should have started years ago.
US Agencies Trying to Outlaw GMO Food Labelling
There is growing concern over the health impact of growing and eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The World Health Organization has identified allergenicity, antibiotic resistance, gene transfer, outcrossing, GM genes introduced into the wild population, gene stability, susceptibility of non-target organisms (insects), and loss of biodiversity as potential issues of using GM seeds.
Currently, most health studies are done by GM companies who have a natural conflict of interest that can lead to biased research or reporting. Many countries such as Japan, Australia, China, and the European Union recognize the possible risks and require mandatory labeling for products made with GMOs. There is a growing call for more comprehensive, independent research.
However, the official position of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) is: there is no difference between GMOs and non-GMOs. These agencies have also proposed to the CODEX Alimentarius Committee (UN Food and Agriculture), that no country should be able to require mandatory GMO labeling on food items. The FDA and USDA say that mandatory labeling of GMOs is “false, misleading, and deceptive, implying there is a difference between GMO and non-GMO ingredients. Ultimately, the FDA and USDA want to do away with product labeling standards over-all, trusting corporations to keep necessary health standards.
“GMO Alert: U.S. Attempting Global Censorship of GMO Food Labeling”
Mike Adams, Natural News, May 4, 2010. http://www.naturalnews.com/z028716_G...od_labels.html
“WHO 20 Questions on Genetically Modified Foods”
World Health Organization, April 1, 2011. http://www.who.int/foodsafety/public...20questions/en
Government is always too close to business. Another example of government being paid-off. Regulators are often from the industries they are 'supposed' to regulate.
OWS should have started years ago.