Professional Scam Artists – part 70

Michael Grimes and Cindy Estrada

“Ten days before contract expiration, top aide to UAW GM negotiators pleads guilty to taking $2 million in kickbacks” by Jerry White (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Less than ten days before the expiration of contracts covering 155,000 GM, Ford and Fiat Chrysler autoworkers in the US, another top United Auto Workers executive has pleaded guilty to corruption.

Michael Grimes, a former aide to current and former UAW vice presidents, entered his guilty plea in a federal court in Ann Arbor, Michigan to charges of wire fraud and money laundering. Prosecutors say he took more than $1.5 million in bribes and kickbacks over 12 years during which he was on the board of the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources (CHR).

The charges carry up to 20 years in prison, but federal prosecutors are recommending 46 to 57 months, with sentencing scheduled for January 14. The plea deal is a sign that Grimes is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Grimes’ plea deal adds to the extraordinary circumstances in the run-up to the expiration of the contracts at the Big Three auto companies. He is the ninth UAW or corporate executive who has pleaded guilty in the corruption investigation so far. Last week, FBI raids targeted the homes of current UAW President Gary Jones and his predecessors, Dennis Williams.

The UAW is exposed as a bribed tool of corporate management, run by a criminal syndicate that has conspired with the companies to impose concessions contracts. And yet this organization is supposedly “negotiating” with the auto companies on behalf of the workers.

“UK: Johnson hails police as “bedrock of society” as Brexit crisis intensifies” by Robert Stevens (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that tens of thousands of extra police would be the “absolute bedrock” of his government. He announced the measure Thursday in a speech in which a wall of police cadets were mobilised to provide a backdrop.

The move was modelled on the tactic of US president Donald Trump, whose inauguration ceremony saw military personnel appear behind him. Two years ago, Trump made a speech phalanxed by police officers as he warned “every gang member and criminal alien. We will find you. We will arrest you. We will jail you. And we will deport you.” Johnson’s speech was made just hours after he hosted Trump’s vice president, Mike Pence, at Downing Street.

The College of Policing in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, at which Johnson spoke, has official guidance that all officers must display political impartiality…

Johnson’s paean to the police must be understood in the context of the plans by the government, under Operation Yellowhammer, to deploy the full might of the state to contain social unrest post-Brexit. As far back as last January, Theresa May’s government ministers at a no-deal Brexit planning meeting were told by Junior Defence Minister Tobias Elwood that 30,000 regular troops and 20,000 reserves must be on standby for deployment as the UK departs the EU. In April, it was revealed that soldiers will be backed up by more than 10,000 riot police officers, who will be readied for mobilisation in whatever 24-hour period they are required. The first wave of 1,000 riot police will be made available for mobilisation anywhere in just one hour.

Labour responded to Johnson’s provocation by affirming its own commitment to law and order. Louise Haigh, shadow policing minister and a former volunteer police constable, described the staging of Johnson’s speech as “contemptible”, with police officers “used as props for naked electioneering after voting to cut thousands of their colleagues.” Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott, part of Corbyn’s inner circle, declared, “When the Tories have cut the number of police to the bone, is it really a good idea for the PM to then use a large number of them as props?”

“Companies are risking future litigation from unethical AI usage” by Steve Randall (Canadian Lawyer)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

Companies are risking future litigation from unethical AI usage
An international study has highlighted the risk that companies face as the use of artificial intelligence increases…

The survey found that employers reveals that 28% think they could face future liability for unethical use of AI and 40% say they should have a written policy on its use; 54% of employees polled agree…

Record fine for Google, YouTube over children’s data allegations
Google and its YouTube subsidiary in the United States will pay a record U$170 million to settle allegations by the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General that the YouTube video sharing service illegally collected personal information from children without their parents’ consent.

The settlement is the largest ever obtained by the FTC under a Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) case in the rule’s 21-year history. The companies will pay the FTC $136 million and $34 million to New York for the alleged COPPA violations.

To which I say “Whatever.” Google is so seriously criminal… Of course its going to bring negative attention, like the examination that resulted in the above joke fine. So what? It just keeps on rolling… over the people. Here’s the comment I attached to the above article on the Canadian Lawyer website:

=== =
Google is, along with other corporations, their various assets and rich people, government, the odd little slap on the wrist like the above joke fine notwithstanding. Corporations (especially those in the areas of weapons and hi tech) are part of a global government, led by the American State (which includes its deep, or permanent, State – Wall Street, Silicon Valley, The Fed et al) that I call Corporatocracy. The guy who made that label famous has gone over to the silly side, but Corporatocracy, which is insane, is an enemy of life and God (which will have serious consequences for its long term survival, I’m happy to report.)

Anyone who reads (beyond the zany YouTubers warning about a ‘coming’ world government), knows all of that. Chris Hedges makes it clear in various of his books; Governments are fronts for corporations. Noam Chomsky (who has lost the plot today) laid it all out years ago; The only capitalism happening is State capitalism, what Hedges calls corporate capitalism and what Mussolini called corporatism. It’s socialism for the rich. (I haven’t self-modified myself into a believer in inequality, deceit and violence and so therefore I’d like to see socialism, or capitalism, for ‘all’ rather than a minority of gangsters, as at present. I’d also like to see young females have a shot at a normal life.) The people are cut out but given sham elections and told that because they have those and the freedom (when that’s there) to vote, they therefore have democracy. Well, If you haven’t lost something, then there’s no need to look for it? Right?

That, in a nutshell, is the story from this one percenter’s standpoint:
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Rondonia (part of the Amazon) in Brazil

“As Brazil Burns, Northern Media Deploy a Strategy of Deflection” by Brian Mier (FAIR)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

I spent last week in the Brazilian Amazon in Porto Velho, Rondonia, on the edge of what is called the arco do incendios. The “arc of fires” is a region stretching along the yet-to-be-paved highways 319 and 230, between the towns of Humaitá and Apui in Southern Amazonas, a state that still had 98% of its virgin rainforest intact as of last year.

It is a place where soy farmers and cattle ranchers connected to international corporate supply chains are ripping down and intentionally burning forest at record rates. Humaitá, where a group of ranchers and farmers in 2017 set fire to the headquarters of IBAMA, the environmental protection agency, has a new soy terminal in its river port.

Soy production for foreign markets, coupled with far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro’s gutting of environmental protection agencies, are two drivers of the current, catastrophic increase in fires and deforestation. Minnesota-based Cargill corporation, which the environmental organization Mighty Earth recently called the Worst Company in the World, appears to be a main catalyst in this process.

Former President Lula, who reduced deforestation by 70% during his tenure, was arrested and removed from last year’s presidential race as part of a US Department of Justice–backed investigation, with no material evidence,while he was leading the election polls with double the support of Bolsonaro. Shortly after his arrest, Cargill announced it was building a new soy terminal port in Porto Velho on the edge of highway 319 on the Madeira river, expanding its soy export capacity there from 3.5 million to 6 million tons per year. It appears that increased rainforest devastation is calculated into Cargill’s business plan.

related: “The Amazon Is Ours”

“Unifor tries to keep Canadian autoworkers in the dark about US contract battle” by Carl Bronski (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

At Unifor’s recent national convention in Quebec City, the nationalist-corporatist perspective of Canada’s largest private sector union was once again on full display. At a time when 150,000 US autoworkers at the Detroit Three car companies are engaged in a bitter contract fight and preparing for strike action, Unifor President Jerry Dias and the rest of the union top brass made not a single mention of the looming confrontation south of the border.

There is no innocent explanation for this. Dias and everyone else know full well that the terms negotiated at the Detroit Three’s American operations will serve as the benchmark for the contracts at their facilities in Canada, when they come up for renewal in 2020. If the automakers and the corrupt United Auto Workers (UAW), which has assisted the auto bosses in imposing wage and job cuts for decades, get their way, this benchmark will mean further devastating concessions for autoworkers and their families.

The silence of Dias and Unifor as a whole is not hard to fathom. The US Detroit Three workers have already voted by well over 90 percent in favour of strike action when their contracts expire just before midnight Sept. 14. The Unifor bureaucrats are terrified that the impending struggle of workers south of the border could trigger a cross-border counteroffensive, uniting Canadian and US autoworkers in a joint struggle to take back the decades of concessions rammed down their throats by the UAW and Unifor alike.

While Dias found no time to utter a single syllable about the US autoworkers’ contract struggle, he ensured that much of Unifor’s national convention was given over to campaigning for the reelection of Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government. Both Trudeau and Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland were given the platform to deliver lengthy speeches, in which they praised the Liberals’ “special partnership” with the unions…

Canadian autoworkers have rightly pointed out to the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter that the very fact that the rotten and bribery tainted 2015 contracts the UAW imposed on US Detroit Three workers became the framework for those reached in Canada a year later casts a foul smell over the entire 2016 Canadian negotiations.

“Home video security systems increasingly linked to US police departments in violation of democratic rights” by Kevin Reed (WSWS)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

===== == =
Home video security systems across the United States are increasingly being integrated with police and law enforcement systems that access an expanding network of residential photos and recordings. In many cases, video streams and images are being uploaded into cloud storage accounts, categorized and shared via “neighborhood crime” databases that violate the basic democratic rights of the public.

In the case of Ring—known as Ring Video Doorbell before the company was acquired by Amazon in February 2018—more than 400 police department partnerships have been established with the home security system across the US over the past year. According to a report in the Washington Post on Wednesday, the police department agreements allow authorities to obtain video streams from Ring homeowners in particular geographic areas and across specific timeframes.

Although these law enforcement requests can be declined by homeowners, most consumers agree to the user terms thinking that they are, in the words of a Ring marketing campaign, “making their neighborhood a safer place.”

Of course, the investment community and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—who has seen an increase in his personal wealth by $45 billion since the Ring acquisition—said nothing about how the business goal to “penetrate the consumer” includes the significant threat to democratic rights posed by the “hyperlocal, social networking” features of its home security technology system.

As with the use of facial recognition and other biometrics technology for police surveillance, the growing network of home security cameras connected to law enforcement is being built up without public discussion, oversight or approval by any government body. Meanwhile, as pointed out by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the public’s “perception of crime and danger in their neighborhoods” is being preyed upon by companies like Amazon by “creating products that inflame our greatest anxieties about crime.”

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, a professor and author of the 2017 book The Rise of Big Data Policing, told the Post that by playing on consumer fears about home security Ring has created “a clever workaround for the development of a wholly new surveillance network, without the kind of scrutiny that would happen if it was coming from the police or government.”
= == =====

Thanks for the info EFF, but perhaps you could reconsider your awful support for the deep State tool, Tor. See “Tor? Exercise Caution!”

Julian Assange

“40 rebuttals to the media’s smears of Julian Assange – by someone who was actually there” by Fidel Narváez (The Grayzone)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

The Western corporate media has shown extreme bias against the whistleblowing publication WikiLeaks and its publisher Julian Assange. Nowhere is this more evident than in a recent CNN article on the imprisoned journalist, which completely botches the facts.

On July 15, CNN published an exclusive report that sent shock waves through the press: “Security reports reveal how Assange turned an embassy into a command post for election meddling.” This two-pronged hit piece mixes character assassination with a clumsy attempt to show that he and WikiLeaks supposedly served as agents of chaos for the Kremlin during the 2016 US presidential election…

CNN’s attempts to shape the narrative on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange are not new. On March 28, the TV program Conclusiones, on CNN Español, claimed — without evidence — that Assange had published the famous INA Papers leak, exposing the corruption of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and his family.

The fact that WikiLeaks never published a single document or image of Moreno or his family did not matter to CNN Español. The intentions of the show were immediately transparent from the loaded questions made by the reporters:

“How long will Julian Assange remain at the Ecuadorian embassy in London?”

“Aren’t you going to kick him out?”

“What has Julian Assange brought to Lenin Moreno’s government but headaches?”

This baseless accusation was subsequently used two weeks later by the Ecuadorian government to justify expelling Assange from its London embassy, in a flagrant violation of international law.

This pattern of smear pieces against WikiLeaks and its publisher begs the question: Why is CNN shaping public opinion against Julian Assange, as he prepares to defend himself from continued political persecution by the US government?

Having worked as a diplomat in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for six out of the seven years that Assange lived there as a political refugee, I would like to put forth the following rebuttals to 40 of CNN’s misleading claims.

Ricardo Hausmann

““Go to hell”: Venezuelan coup leader Ricardo Hausmann stages WhatsApp meltdown when confronted with his own hypocrisy and lack of transparency” by Anya Parampil (The Grayzone)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

At 3:31 AM on September 1, Venezuelan coup official Ricardo Hausmann fired off a message on WhatsApp demanding to see “one article” in which I “questioned or criticized any of Maduro’s crimes and errors.”

The text was part of a prolonged diatribe in which the Harvard professor of economics lobbed multiple ad-hominem attacks and a demand I “go to hell.”

Hausmann’s meltdown, which can be seen below, was prompted by questions I sent the economist concerning his and his coup colleagues’ lack of transparency.

On August 31, I exposed Hausmann’s hypocritical financial past, revealing he accepted speaking fees from repressive governments like Israel and Saudi Arabia, while criticizing banks for doing business with Venezuela’s elected government. I also raised questions about Hausmann’s private consulting firm, questioning why the economist failed to disclose his clients now that he claims to represent Guaidó’s administration at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

I sought comment from Hausmann while writing that article, asking him questions including whether or not it was appropriate for him and Guaidó’s “attorney general,” José Ignacio Hernández, to continue working at Harvard despite their service in Venezuela’s US-recognized government.

“I can’t think of one example of someone who worked an academic job [at Harvard] while serving in government. How do you have time for all of your duties?” I asked the professor.

“I exercise no government functions,” Haussman replied. “I do not run an organization, I am not paid by the Venezuelan government and I do not manage a public budget.”

This answer surprised me. Hausmann’s appointment to serve at the IDB and his role in designing Guaidó’s $160 billion debt restructuring plan surely constitute “government functions,” and in fact, required the ouster of an IDB official who had been appointed by the elected government of President Nicolas Maduro.

“Are you telling me Guaido’s administration does not constitute a legitimate government? I am sure the Venezuelan people will be surprised to hear that,” I said to Hausmann, highlighting his role in Guaidó’s so-called administration.

“Lionel Richie ignores BDS calls and will perform in “Israel”” by ? (Quds News Network)

An excerpt from the above linked-to article follows:

(QNN) – Despite calls from BDS, American singer Lionel Richie will not cancel his concert in Apartheid “Israel”.

Following the campaign targeting Jennifer Lopez to cancel her performance in “Israel”, Code Pink group has been leading a similar campaign calling on Richie to stand up by Palestinians’ rights and cancel his performance scheduled for the September 12.

“If you choose to follow through with your performance in Tel Aviv, it will act as an endorsement of Israel’s brutal systems of military occupation and apartheid,” the group wrote in a petition. “Cancelling your Tel Aviv concert, on the other hand, would send a strong message that Palestinians, like all people, deserve equal rights and freedom.”

Richie, insisting on entertaining a bloody-handed regime, responded to Code Pink’s campaign by blocking their account on Twitter. CodePink’s national co-director Ariel Gold called Richie a “snowflake”.

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