April 15, 2015 - The Constantine Report    
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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

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March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading
Image
March 5th 2020 12

Are you using the best credit card when ordering food for delivery?

The key to more success is to have a lot of pillows. Always remember in the jungle there’s a lot of they in there, after you will make it to paradise. Egg whites, turkey sausage, wheat toast, water.

Continue reading

Monsanto Fights Report Tying Herbicide, Cancer

This is a modified py-6 that occupies the entire horizontal space of its parent.

Monsanto Co. called on the World Health Organization on Tuesday to withdraw a claim that the most widely used weed killer in the world could cause cancer, with the seed giant accusing the agency of unnecessarily scaring consumers and farmers who use their products.

The St. Louis company, which gets billions in revenue annually from the sale of its corn, soybeans and other seeds designed to withstand glyphosate spray, has asked for a meeting with World Health Organization officials to discuss the findings. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s popular herbicide Roundup that is sprayed on genetically modified crops grown using its seeds — killing the weeds but allowing the plants to thrive.

The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said in a report Friday that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic” to humans. The agency said the chemical, used in more than 750 products made by Monsanto and other companies, has been found in water, air and food during spraying. But WHO said use of the weed killer is often low in areas where most of the public would face the greatest risk of exposure.

The finding, Monsanto said, contradicts decades of scientific and regulatory reviews — including by the Environmental Protection Agency — that have deemed glyphosate safe and not a risk to human health. Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, blasted the IARC for “cherry-picking” data and accused the agency of “an agenda-driven bias.”

images“This contradiction has the potential to unnecessarily confuse and alarm parents and consumers, farmers and the public at large,” Brett Begemann, president and chief operating officer with Monsanto, told reporters.

He said Monsanto takes seriously the health and safety of the farmers who use its product. Begemann was optimistic that agricultural producers would continue to use its seed and chemical platform to boost the productivity of their crops.

“We expect farmers will continue to use this and do not anticipate that there will be an impact on our sales,” Begemann said.

An official with IARC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday, but in prior media reports it has stood by its findings.

Chris Novak, chief executive officer of the National Corn Growers Association, said on the Monsanto conference call that critics are unfairly attacking glyphosate at a time when farmers need as many tools as possible to produce more crops sustainably. Agricultural producers have faith in regulators who have ensured the product is safe, he said.

“We use these tools on our land, working alongside our family members, so the safety of these products is critical to us,” Novak said.

In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees glyphosate, said it “does not pose a cancer risk to humans.” The agency also has previously determined the chemical met the statutory safety standards and could “continue to be used without unreasonable risks to people or the environment.” A routine safety review of glyphosate currently being conducted by the EPA is expected to be completed later this year.

Phil Miller, Monsanto vice president of global affairs, said the firm did not expect the findings to impact the “regulatory status” of its product because IARC was not a regulatory body.

Monsanto is a close competitor of DuPont Pioneer, Iowa’s fast-growing seed business based in Johnston.

Environmental and consumer groups have expressed concerns about the prevalence of glyphosate, which has surged during the past two decades as more U.S. corn and soybean crops were planted with weed killer-tolerant seeds.

Glyphosate was influential in leading to the passage of a mandatory labeling measure in Vermont last year for foods containing genetically modified crops, the first in the country.

In a conference call with reporters, several groups said Tuesday they were hopeful the IARC study would force the EPA to take a closer look at the safety of glyphosate and spur the White House to craft a nationwide labeling initiative to allow people to know about the presence of genetically modified ingredients in their food.

“Even if it’s in debate and even if it’s in dispute, at least give consumers the right to know,” said Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield Farm and chairman of the Just Label It campaign. “This is about democratizing the market place, allowing consumers to know what is going on so they can make intelligent choices.”

Four years before the financial collapse, Goldman Sachs executive George Herbert Walker IV had much to be thankful for. “I’ve been fortunate to be a small part of teams leading U.S. restructurings, European privatizations, global pension management and now hedge fund and private equity investing,” he said in the annual report of a banking colossus that would soon be known as the “great vampire squid” of Wall Street.

“The world,” said Walker, “just keeps getting more interesing.”

As the head of Goldman Sachs’ alternative investment unit, Walker’s ebullience was understandable. At the same time he was raising $100,000 for his cousin George W. Bush’s successful presidential re-election effort, the administration of another cousin, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, returned the family favor, delivering $150 million of Florida pension money to an alternative investment fund run by Walker’s firm. Like other executives whose companies received Florida pension money, Walker is now renewing the cycle, reportedly attending in February a high-dollar fundraiser for Jeb Bush’s political committee.

Walker is not alone: He is one of 19 top fundraisers for George W. Bush — known as “Pioneers” and “Rangers” — whose financial firms received state business from Jeb Bush’s administration in Tallahassee. In all, an International Business Times’ review of government documents shows Jeb Bush oversaw Florida directing at least $1.7 billion of state workers’ retirement money to the financial firms of his elder brother’s major donors.

As Jeb Bush oversaw the State Board of Administration (SBA) that runs Florida’s massive public pension system, the state shifted billions of dollars into higher-risk, higher-fee alternative investments, benefiting the same sector of the investment industry he would work in upon leaving office. Many of those state deals delivered returns that fell short of projections. Roughly 20 percent of that system’s 53 private investment deals during Bush’s governorship went to companies that employed his brother’s Pioneers. Those financial firms, in turn, delivered more than $5 million of campaign cash to George W. Bush, the Republican National Committee and Jeb Bush’s Republican Party of Florida. (Click here to see the full list of Bush Pioneers whose firms received Florida pension investments from Jeb Bush’s administration).

jeb_chart_bushloop

With recent Supreme Court decisions effectively lifting campaign contribution limits, Jeb Bush’s relationship with his brother’s top fundraisers could pay even bigger dividends for the GOP candidate in 2016. Republican strategists and donors say the Pioneers give the former Florida governor a built-in presidential fundraising base.

Barry Wynn, a financial executive who was twice a Pioneer, said his fellow Pioneers could easily “be convinced to be big supporters of [Jeb Bush] as they were of his brother and his father.” Wynn has “talked to a lot” of Pioneers, he said. “I think the doors are going to be more willingly opened” for Jeb Bush than for other Republican candidates, Wynn said.

Tallahassee lobbyist Brian Ballard, a top GOP fundraiser, told IBTimes that Jeb Bush will have access to the family’s fundraising network, “which is considerable.” He added that while “Jeb Bush has his own network, it is obviously augmented by the Rangers and Pioneers.”

Ethics experts say the connection between Bush family donors and Florida pension deals raises questions about whether the investments were properly insulated from political influence.

“If not an actual conflict of interest, these examples would provide fodder for apparent conflicts of interest,” said Common Cause Florida’s Peter Butzin. “Those folks who give … expect something in return. And if that something in return is not blatantly sending business their way or resulting in a particular vote, it most certainly is at least providing an opportunity for access, to get the foot in the door, so that they can make the case with that official.”

Jeb Bush’s aides did not respond to questions from IBTimes, and Walker declined to comment for this story. Dennis MacKee, an SBA spokesperson, said the agency’s “elected Trustees do not now, nor did they during Governor Bush’s term, participate in the selection of individual investments.”

MacKee’s statement conflicts with emails reviewed by IBTimes that show that, as governor, Jeb Bush was deeply involved in the state’s investment decisions, periodically brokering conversations between Florida officials and individual financial firms, including one whose top executive was a longtime Bush family donor.

Florida ethics and contracting rules discourage public officials and their family members from accepting gifts from firms doing business with the state. However, those rules do not cover campaign contributions to Jeb Bush or his brother from companies managing Florida pension money. The deals were also made years before the Securities and Exchange Commission adopted rules effectively barring contributions from firms receiving pension money.

Three politically connected firms whose executives were George W. Bush Pioneers — HM Capital, the Carlyle Group and Freeman Spogli — were involved in the New York corruption probes that prompted the SEC rules. The trio of investment companies had received $350 million in new pension commitments from Florida officials during Jeb Bush’s governorship. In that same time frame, executives delivered a total of $1 million in campaign contributions to Jeb Bush, his brother’s campaigns, the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Florida.

In 1996, Florida’s pension system first invested with HM Capital’s predecessor, Hicks Muse, a firm whose namesake, Thomas Hicks, had been involved in the purchase of the George W. Bush-owned Texas Rangers. After the Hicks Muse investments generated huge losses, the SBA (State Board of Administration of Florida) decided to scale back its commitments to the company. The agency bashed the firm’s performance in 2001, writing in its annual report that Hicks Muse “did not demonstrate superior discipline and focus during recent years.” However, as Hicks Muse donations flowed to both George and Jeb Bush, Florida soon made a $25 million investment in another Hicks Muse fund, which generated $1.3 million in fees while Jeb Bush was governor.

The Carlyle Group — a private equity firm that works with many institutional investors and already held significant Florida pension money — received a new $200 million commitment from the SBA in August 2000, in the middle of the presidential campaign. At the time, former President George H.W. Bush was working as an adviser for the firm, according to the Center for Public Integrity. Carlyle executive Robert Grady was collecting checks as a Pioneer for George W. Bush and serving as a co-chairman of his campaign in California.

Grady, a former White House aide to President George H.W. Bush, would reprise his role as a George W. Bush campaign co-chairman in 2004, and would also make maximum contributions to Jeb Bush’s gubernatorial campaigns. In 2005, Jeb Bush’s SBA committed another $75 million to a new Carlyle fund. The investments netted Carlyle almost $14 million in fees while Jeb Bush was governor. Grady was later appointed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie to head a New Jersey state pension system that subsequently gave a $300 million pension deal to Carlyle, and other pension deals to firms whose executives donated to Christie. Grady, who recused himself from the vote on the Carlyle investment, resigned his New Jersey post in November, amid questions about the donations. Christie administration officials cleared him two weeks ago.

Carlyle was not the only name-brand financial giant to receive Florida pension money. With Bush as governor, the state invested in behemoths such as Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Lehman Brothers, UBS and Prudential Financial. Those eight, which all employed George W. Bush Pioneers, received more than $1.3 billion in Florida pension money. Executives from the eight companies made a combined total of $4 million in contributions to George W. Bush’s campaigns, the Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Florida between 1998 and 2006.

None of the firms responded to IBTimes requests for comment, except for Goldman Sachs. Company spokesperson Andrew Williams wrote in an email to IBTimes: “Pension plans around the world hire Goldman Sachs because of our expertise and track record.” Williams did not address questions about Florida’s investment in the firm, which has fallen nearly 8 percent short of its projected returns.

In recent weeks, executives from some of the firms that received Florida pension money have appeared at Jeb Bush fundraisers.

According to a February Politico report, George Herbert Walker — formerly at Goldman and now at Neuberger Berman (which also received Florida pension money) — attended a $100,000-a-person fundraiser for a group backing Jeb Bush. The event was held at the home of private equity mogul Henry Kravis, also a George W. Bush Pioneer.

CNN reported that Blackstone’s Schwarzman attended a fundraiser for Jeb Bush’s political action committee last month.

Meanwhile, Bradford Freeman, the co-founder of Freeman Spogli — one of the companies that was involved in the New York pension scandal and also received Florida pension money — co-hosted a fundraiser for Jeb Bush in January and another event in California last month.

Nelson Diaz, the chairman of the Miami-Dade Republican Party, told IBTimes that the ongoing fundraising challenge for Bush will be to convert the connections he made as governor into major donations for his 2016 run.

“All these checks have to be personal in nature,” Diaz said. “Governor Bush may have a relationship with CEOs from way back when, but the question is: Are those CEOs going to be willing to write [checks] out of their personal pocket today for something that Jeb may have helped them with 10 years ago?”

For at least some Pioneers whose firms benefited from Florida investments, the answer already appears to be yes.

“… Economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. …”

Tragically, many Americans unknowingly support fascism. Many prominent leaders are de facto fascists and their followers are clueless. History teachers generally fail us. Responsible teachers would require that every student read FDR’s Vice President Henry Wallace’s 1944 New York Times article titled, “The Danger of American Fascism.” Among other important characteristics, Wallace explains American fascism here:

“The American fascist would prefer … to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power. … If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States.”

FDR also said

“… the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” 

storyimages_1335825012_447379633456dd7ab07cAccording to these definitions, it is very safe to say American fascism has grown immensely, both in leadership and unwitting followers.

Most directly, politicians and the Supreme Court are attacking democracy, unleashing floods of corrupting money in elections, and supporting policies that advance and protect concentrations of wealth and power. Simply put, this is building fascism. They also twist truth constantly to manipulate gullible minds.  Propaganda and financial election controls are the keys to their car. Fox News, right-wing radio and right-wing religion are the primary engine, but all mainstream media is partially responsible, too.

The Koch brothers are exemplary fascist shadow rulers who would destroy everything we hold dear in the name of false “liberty.” Tom Cotton, the darling of the Kochs, Wall Street and the Israel Lobby, is the poster boy of American fascism. If the Kochs were 11-year old girls, Tom would be their Justin Bieber. Virtually all the policies this ilk supports are in the interest of the richest few.

Writing for the Harvard Crimson, younger Tom wrote, “The only real way to solve our current problems is to deregulate campaign financing … (and) sharply increase contribution limits or eliminate them altogether … .” This is in complete harmony with David Koch’s 1980 Libertarian campaign platform for vice president. In addition to abolishing Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, minimum wage and everything else that helps the elderly, sick and poor, Koch stated, “We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws.”

The Kochs and lapdog Tom got their wish with the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and McCutcheon. These decisions build on jurisprudence that is sulfuric acid to self-government.  In addition to cases giving corporations constitutional rights under corporate personhood dating back to Santa Clara in 1886, the landmark 1976 Buckley decision held that money is speech.

Now, taken altogether, the Supreme Court is saying corporations and the ultra-rich have free speech protections to spend unlimited amounts of money to buy candidates, elections and ultimately the laws. It is legalized bribery and corruption. Unfortunately, the poor mice cannot $peak beyond a squeak, while the wealthy banshees scream at a million decibels on every TV channel.

Now, avalanches of money are suffocating our elections to the point that a 2014 Princeton study concluded America is no longer a democracy.  After examining data from 1,800 policy initiatives between 1981 and 2002, researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page found that the richest few control the country in an oligarchy.

Gilens and Page write:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.”

There is one last vestige of democracy holding back complete oligarchy: what remains of the Bill of Rights, after being undermined by Dubya and Obama’s terror war. Our votes for puppets may not matter as much as money, but we still have First Amendment protections of actual speech, press, religion and assembly.

Let us remember the words of Woody Guthrie, “… You fascists may be surprised, people in this world are getting organized … . All you fascists bound to lose.”

Abel Tomlinson

Fayetteville