Professional Scam Artists – part 30

“The ‘innovation principle’ trap” by ? (Corporate Europe Observatory)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

This “principle” is the product of the European Risk Forum (ERF), a lobby platform for chemical, tobacco and fossil fuel corporations – the risky industries, which are invariably subject to health and environmental regulation. The biggest joint interest of these dirty industries is to keep their products on the market with the least possible restrictions and regulation. Using this “principle” these industries aim to ensure that “whenever legislation is under consideration its impact on innovation should be assessed and addressed”.

Documents released to Corporate Europe Observatory under Freedom of Information laws show that these industries are trying to use this principle to undermine EU laws on chemicals, novel foods, pesticides, nano-products and pharmaceuticals, amongst others, as well as legal principles of environmental and human health protection which are enshrined in the EU Treaty. The ERF, which is dominated by the chemical industry, has explicitly called for this principle to be invoked to make REACH, the EU chemicals legislation, more business-friendly. In addition, the concept is an attack on the Precautionary Principle by those who seek deregulation, displaying a cavalier attitude towards environmental hazards…

Seated a stone’s throw from the Commission and Council headquarters in Brussels, at Rue de la Loi 227, the ERF is a corporate lobby platform that calls itself a “non-for-profit think tank” that strives for “excellence in regulatory risk management”. Not suprisingly, its members consist of the most heavily regulated industries, whose products are harmful to human health or the environment: tobacco, chemicals, fossil fuels, plastics, pharmaceuticals, etc.

The small group of ERF members are all multinational corporations from these risky sectors: tobacco (BAT, Philip Morris), oil (Chevron), chemicals and pesticides (Dow, Bayer/Monsanto and BASF) as well as business lobby associations including producers of chemicals (CEFIC and its German counterpart VCI (Verband der Chemischen Industrie)), veterinary pharma (Animal Health Europe), metals (the Nickel Institute), oil (Fuels Europe) and PlasticsEurope. Other sectors also join its meetings from time to time, such as the food industry (including Danone, Unilever and FoodDrinkEurope).

Patrick Shanahan

“Keep Walking, Nothing Important to See Here” by Dave Lindorff (This Can’t Be Happening!)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

It doesn’t bode well for accountability or fiscal probity that in unceremoniously shit-canning his Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, the petulant President Donald Trump elevated in his stead as acting secretary Mattis’s number two, Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan.

If you said, “Shanahan who?” welcome to the club…

Shanahan, in his brief role as Deputy Secretary of War/Defense, was dragged out of his bureaucratic obscurity only once, as far as I can tell, and that was on November 15, when he held a press conference to announce that the Pentagon had failed its first-ever outside audit. (I guess Mad-Dog Mattis wasn’t mad enough to want to have to take responsibility for that embarrassing debacle.)

As I reported at the time in the lead paragraph of my cover story in the current issue of the Nation Magazine headlined: “Exposing the Pentagon’s Massive Accounting Fraud,” Shanahan told the assembled media scrum, “We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it.” He went on to claim that the Pentagon should actually get credit for trying, saying, “It was an audit on a $2.7-trillion organization, so the fact that we did the audit is substantial.”

Shanahan managed, with the assistance of a friendly press corps who were either inappropriately polite or simply historically ignorant, to cover up the reality that the Pentagon had actually been forced by Congress to finally submit to an attempted audit by 1200 auditors from the nation’s leading audit firms after 27 years of stonewalling a Congressional mandate to develop an auditable set of books.

“New Knowledge Brags About Avoiding Media, Affecting Vote in Leaked Internal Doc” by ? (Sputnik)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The internal report from the cybersecurity firm New Knowledge is the gift that keeps on giving. Friday’s offering? A leaked internal document revealing how the company bragged about evading detection despite its operations’ “impact” on “voting outcomes.”

The New York Times first revealed the company’s efforts to sway a special Senate election in Alabama in 2017 with a black ops disinformation campaign involving messaging aimed at splitting the Republican vote and a self-professed “false flag” operation involving Twitter accounts designed to give the appearance of being Russian bots following the Republican candidate Roy Moore en masse.

That was just the beginning, though. What has followed since is a slow drip of near-daily updates, beginning with the revelation that one of the actors behind the influence operation, New Knowledge CEO Jonathon Morgan, also helped create the discredited “Hamilton 68 Dashboard,” blamed “Russian trolls” for meddling in the Alabama race — which he was actively meddling in — and was then banned from Facebook for, you guessed it, meddling.

“Michelle Obama Slanders Black Men in Her Book, Adds to the Obama Family’s Long Anti-Black Tradition” by Danny Haiphong (Black Agenda Report)

An excerpt from the above linked-to articles follows:

Black Agenda Report has spent over a decade analyzing the numerous manifestations of the Obama family’s hatred of Black America. Michelle Obama is currently on a book tour of her latest release, Becoming. The overpriced book is but another addition to the post-Obama Presidency family fortune. Barack and Michelle Obama have been busy building a billionaire brand with book deals and speaking arrangements with Wall Street. As Paul Street noted, the Obama Foundation is putting the donations of Wall Street corporations to good use by opening a “library”in the heartland of Black Chicago. Just as during its tenure in the White House, the Obama family is profiting from the promotion of white supremacist policy and ideology directed against Black America…

Michelle Obama uses her husband’s falsified credentials as a weapon against all Black men. Her statement that she had never met a “black dude”like Barack Obama represents but another racist dog whistle to please white America…

Michelle Obama’s racist dog whistle against Black men wasn’t the first time that the Obama duo attacked Black people. In 2008, then Presidential candidate Barack Obama castigated Black men as absentee fathers . Obama didn’t mention that data suggests Black men are the most committed fathers of any other group studied in the nation. But Obama’s comments are not about respectability. The myth of the absentee Black father is but a trope for the criminalization of Black men, where massive levels of exploitation and oppression by way of discrimination, police violence, incarceration, and poverty faced by Black people can be erased in favor of the Reaganite mantra of personal responsibility…

… In a 2013 speech at Morehouse College, Barack Obama lectured Black men about personal responsibility. He told new graduates to stop blaming slavery for their problems and focus instead on being good fathers. Thus, the Obamas are no stranger to hurling insults at Black people whenever the opportunity arises. This was an especially useful skill during the Black insurgency that developed in the wake of the police state murders of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown. Obama made sure to repeat the mantra of demonic Black men by criminalizing the victims as violent, drug-induced thugs and labeling the righteous rebellion of Black people as “excuse making” and “criminal behavior.”

White supremacy is the fuel that drives the imperialist system…

An old dog has trouble learning new tricks, especially if that dog is on the leash of the monopoly capitalist class. Michelle Obama continues to insult Black men because it is advantageous to the family. Barack and Michelle Obama are raking in hundreds of millions from books, speaking tours, and investments in gentrification in cities such as Chicago. When it comes to imperialism, it pays to be anti-Black. Ant[i]-Black tirades are profitable, especially for a family currently building a post-Presidential fortune for diligently serving and directing the forces that incarcerate, murder, and impoverish Black Americans across the nation.

“How JUUL Explains What’s Wrong With Our World” by David Dayen (The Intercept via O Society)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

This is not how markets are supposed to work. Regulators had — and still have — multiple opportunities to prevent both concentration in the e-cigarette market and profiteering off children. But competition authorities have taken such a hands-off attitude toward the economy, that we’re on the verge of witnessing Big Tobacco co-opt the very sector that was supposed to kill it off.

When launched in 2015, Juul was another of Silicon Valley’s attempts to “disrupt” an established market — in this case, cigarettes. The company, based in San Francisco, positioned itself as a savior for public health, because unlike cancer-causing tobacco sticks, vaporizer devices distribute nicotine without tar or other carcinogens. In fact, the original intention of e-cigarettes when patented by a Chinese pharmacist in 2003 was to convert tobacco users. Juul claims it “has helped more than one million Americans switch from cigarettes.”…

JUUL DEVICES LOOK like thumb drives and can be recharged in a USB port. Users insert “pods,” which contain as much nicotine as a pack of cigarettes. Flavors include traditional tobacco styles like menthol, but also mango, fruit, cucumber, and creme. The vapor is odorless and evaporates quickly. The company maintained an active social media presence promoting vaping, with fan accounts driving the virality even further.

I’m willing to bet that David Dayen doesn’t see his boss at The Intercept as being part of what’s wrong with the world. I was quick picking up this story so perhaps I didn’t notice the origin for it. I don’t remember and my short term memory is blitso. But the story itself, no doubt talked about by other journos, is worth telling. Also, I noted that O Society itself is very new. They can be whatever they want to be, but not without consenquences.

Signing the Conference Report
for the 2018 Farm Bill
Source: House Agriculture Committee Democrats

“New Farm Bill Weakens Organic Regulatory Oversight” by ? (The Cornucopia Institute)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

In an affront to the organic farming community, this Farm Bill codifies a number of contentious changes to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). These provisions weaken and confuse the NOSB’s ability to represent the public and advise the USDA Secretary on organic matters.

The NOSB was set up by Congress as part of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) as a mechanism to insulate organic rulemaking from the influence of corporate lobbyists. OFPA also set up a National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) for organic agriculture and a process by which the NOSB would add and remove materials from it.

Materials would sunset, or be removed automatically from the National List, after five years, and it would require a supermajority of the NOSB to renew a sunset substance. Congress intended this process to be an incentive for innovation in organics. In 2013, the USDA’s National Organic Program unilaterally announced that it would now require a supermajority to remove materials from the list, turning sunset on its head.

The final 2018 Farm Bill provides statutory cover for that controversial change.

“Industry-hired experts downplay impacts of major projects: UBC study” by Judith Lavoie (The Narwhal)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follow:

When experts, such as engineers and geoscientists, submit reports on a project to B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Office, the generally accepted idea is that their information will reflect environmental standards and identify problems, allowing a project design to be changed or rejected if necessary.

But, that is not what happens in B.C. according to a study by University of British Columbia researchers that looked at 10 recent environmental impact assessments.

Researchers found that experts — usually hired by a company applying to build a mine, pipeline or other project — rarely stick to generally accepted thresholds to determine if there is an environmental or health concern.

The study also found when impacts are likely to exceed established criteria — push past those accepted thresholds — experts find a variety of innovative ways to minimize potential problems.

Gerald Gurinder Singh, UBC senior research fellow in the Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries, said the paper shows biases and unscientific practices used in the environmental assessment process and underlines the need to balance evidence given by industry-paid experts.

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