We’re Not Making This Up!

Watch This Dallas Sportscaster’s Awesome Response to the Homophobia Surrounding Michael Sam

In the clip below — which has gone viral — veteran Dallas sports anchor Dale Hansen lashes out at the hypocrisy of unnamed NFL personnel who say that college football star Michael Sam’s decision to come out will hurt him in the draft but, as Hansen notes, would gladly “welcome” players with criminal records.

This is a sign of the times — it’s unlikely that Hansen would have been allowed to do this segment 10 or 15 years ago.

Watch…

Via: 22 Words.

You Won’t Believe How One Chemical Company Tried to Discredit a Scientist’s Research

Tyrone Hayes addresses a senate committee Monday, Oct. 25, 2004 in St. Paul, Minn., where he discussed research on the herbicide atrazine. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Tyrone Hayes addresses a Senate committee Monday, Oct. 25, 2004, in St. Paul, Minn., where he discussed research on the herbicide atrazine. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

Rachel Aviv has a reported piece in The New Yorker that reads like pulp fiction. She tells the tale of a scientist who discovered that a popular herbicide may have harmful effects on the endocrine system. As he continued to investigate the matter, he came to believe that the chemical’s manufacturer was out to get him. He thought they were following him to conferences, tapping his phones and systematically trying to drive a wedge between him and the scientific community. Many of his colleagues believed that he was paranoid until a lawsuit yielded a slew of internal corporate documents showing that everything he imagined the company had been doing to discredit his work had in fact been true.

As Kathleen Geier put it for the Washington Monthly, “This story reads like your most paranoid, far-out conspiratorial left-wing nightmare come true.”

Aviv writes:

In 2001, seven years after joining the biology faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, Tyrone Hayes stopped talking about his research with people he didn’t trust. He instructed the students in his lab, where he was raising three thousand frogs, to hang up the phone if they heard a click, a signal that a third party might be on the line. Other scientists seemed to remember events differently, he noticed, so he started carrying an audio recorder to meetings. “The secret to a happy, successful life of paranoia,” he liked to say, “is to keep careful track of your persecutors.” MORE

Ten Examples of Welfare for Corporations and the Ultra-Rich

This article originally appeared at The Huffington Post.

Olympic athletes queue up at the McDonalds inside the dining hall at the Olympic Village in London. July 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Olympic athletes queue up at the McDonalds inside the dining hall at the Olympic Village in London. July 2013. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

There are thousands of tax breaks and subsidies for the rich and corporations provided by federal, state and local governments, but these 10 will give a taste.

1. State and local subsidies to corporations: An excellent New York Times study by Louise Story calculated that state and local government provide at least $80 billion in subsidies to corporations. Over 48 big corporations received over $100 million each. GM was the biggest, at a total of $1.7 billion extracted from 16 different states, but Shell, Ford and Chrysler all received over $1 billion each. Amazon, Microsoft, Prudential, Boeing and casino companies in Colorado and New Jersey received well over $200 million each.

2. Direct federal subsidies to corporations: The Cato Institute estimates that federal subsidies to corporations cost taxpayers almost $100 billion every year.

3. Federal tax breaks for corporations: The tax code gives corporations special tax breaks that have reduced what is supposed to be a 35-percent tax rate to an actual tax rate of 13 percent, saving these corporations an additional $200 billion annually, according to the US Government Accountability Office. MORE

Papal Tweets of Note

Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves the village of Castel Gandolfo, the pontiffs' summer residence in the hills overlooking Rome in August. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves the village of Castel Gandolfo, the pontiffs' summer residence in the hills overlooking Rome in August. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, File)

Last December, Pope Benedict XVI made history by becoming the first pope to tweet. After he stepped down earlier this year, the Vatican archived all of his tweets and a few weeks later Pope Francis took over the helm at the official pope handle, @Pontifex.

Unlike Pope Benedict, whose tweets were more sporadic, Pope Francis quickly settled into a pattern; he tweets once a day without fail — and rests on Sundays. He tweets about the same topics he speaks about: the importance of caring for those less fortunate than ourselves and what it means to live charitably.

Here’s a sampling.

Wal-Mart Monetizes the Occupy Movement

This holiday season, buy the perfect gift for that loved one who took a stand against America’s plutocracy: a large print of the Occupy encampment at Zuccotti Park. The poster is “printed on Premium Heavy Stock Paper which captures all of the vivid colors and details of the original,” the print-maker writes. “Ready for hanging or framing,” it “would make a great addition to your home or office.”

An outdoors sign for Walmart is seen in Duarte, Calif. Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

An outdoors sign for Walmart is seen in Duarte, Calif. Tuesday, May 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

It’s available online through Wal-Mart’s “Marketplace,” a section of the big box chain’s website that allows third parties to post items for sale.

The irony — a poster celebrating a movement that decried capitalism’s excesses sold by the retailer that the same movement pointed to as most illustrative of capitalism’s excesses — is lost on no one.

“Talk about co-opting the opposition,” writes The New York Times’ New York Today blog. MORE

Beethoven’s Flash Mobs

This week Bill previewed the new film Following the Ninth, a documentary exploring the worldwide cultural and political influence of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. “Ode to Joy,” has inspired flashmob performances by musicians in countries around the world. We have collected some of our favorites here and hope they inspire you, as much as they inspired us. MORE

For Goodwill’s Disabled Workers, Spotlight Is on Subminimum Wage

This post originally appeared at In These Times’ labor blog, Working In These Times.


GOODWILLCUT
Thanks to a 75-year-old loophole, nonprofits like Goodwill can pay workers with disabilities as little as 22 cents an hour. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Dwight Burdette)

Advocates for the rights of workers with disabilities are ramping up their campaign to change the federal law that allows disabled employees to be paid as little as 22 cents an hour. As part of a bid to raise awareness, they are shaming companies like Goodwill Industries Inc. for taking advantage of those low pay rates.

On October 31, petitions with some 170,000 signatures demanding policy changes at Goodwill were delivered to the company’s Rockville, Maryland, headquarters and to five regional offices in New York, California, Texas, Washington state and Rhode Island, says Ari Ne’eman of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network (ASAN). The signatures were collected through a Change.org online campaign in conjunction with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) and ASAN.

ASAN and NFB want changes to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that allows select employers, including Goodwill, to pay people with disabilities at wage rates far below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The groups have documented cases of individual workers with disabilities at Goodwill receiving the minimum of 22 cents an hour, Ne’eman says, and ASAN believes that such pay levels are unfair and abusive.

Efforts in Washington, DC, to change the law are currently stalled, reports Ne’eman, and “we are unlikely to see any progress in this Congress,” which continues through the end of 2014. “There doesn’t seem to be any appetite on the part of the traditional supporters [of rights for the disabled] to go after FLSA at this time,” he says. “But we are intent on keeping up the pressure and making advances where we can.”
MORE

Activists Confront Financial Titans Larry Fink and William Gross

This post first appeared in The Huffington Post.

Earlier this month, two activists who have been on the front lines of the battle against Wall Street’s predatory practices confronted two of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful financial titans — BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink and PIMCO founder William Gross — pressuring them to discuss their corporations’ attack on the working class families of Richmond, CA, who are trying to salvage their lives and their homes from the disaster of foreclosure. [If you press play on the video, you will hear the activists within seconds.]

The activists were calling on BlackRock and PIMCO to negotiate the sale of troubled loans to the city of Richmond, so that the loans can be fixed and foreclosures can be avoided. The problems facing working class homeowners in blue-collar Richmond may be hard for either money mogul to understand. MORE

Gyms for Congress Deemed ‘Essential,’ Remain Open During Shutdown

This post first appeared in ThinkProgress.

Head Start programs have been shuttered, small businesses can’t get loans and hundreds of thousands of federal government employees are furloughed. But the exclusive gyms available only to members of Congress have remained open throughout the shutdown.

A House aide confirmed to ThinkProgress that the House member’s gym is open. The House gym features a swimming pool, basketball courts, paddleball courts, a sauna, a steam room and flat screen TVs. While towel service is unavailable, taxpayers remain on the hook for cleaning and maintenance, which has been performed daily throughout the shutdown. There are also costs associated with the power required to heat the pools and keep the lights on.
MORE

Bailed-Out Bank CEO: Public Criticism of Wall St. Bonuses is Just Like Lynchings

AIG CEO Robert AIG CEO Robert Benmosche is interviewed by Neil Cavuto on the Fox Business network. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

In an interview published Monday in The Wall Street Journal, AIG chief executive Robert Benmosche compared the American public’s outrage at bailed-out Wall Street execs grabbing bloated bonuses to African-Americans being lynched in the Old South.

No, really. Here’s the quote (brackets are in the original):

The uproar over bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that–sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong.

In 2008, AIG received $85 billion from American taxpayers on top of the funds made available from the TARP program. Less than a week later, a bunch of AIG executives went on a “retreat” to the luxurious St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, Calif., where they ran up a bill of almost a half-million dollars, including $150,000 for meals and $23,000 in spa charges. MORE

Average American Families Pays $6K a Year in Big Business Subsidies

This article was originally posted on Common Dreams.


$6,000.

That’s over and above our payments to the big companies for energy and food and housing and health care and all our tech devices. It’s $6,000 that no family would have to pay if we truly lived in a competitive but well-regulated free-market economy.

The $6,000 figure is an average, which means that low-income families are paying less. But it also means that families (households) making over $72,000 are paying more than $6,000 to the corporations.

1. $870 for Direct Subsidies and Grants to Companies

The Cato Institute estimates that the US federal government spends $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. That’s an average of $870 for each one of America’s 115 million families. Cato notes that this includes “cash payments to farmers and research funds to high-tech companies, as well as indirect subsidies, such as funding for overseas promotion of specific US products and industries…It does not include tax preferences or trade restrictions.” MORE

NFL Concussion Deniers See a “Liberal Sports Media” Conspiracy

Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins, right, goes down and is injured during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013. Hopkins, Houston's first-round pick, left the game with what the team says is a head injury. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

Houston Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins, right, goes down and is injured during the first half of a preseason NFL football game, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013. Hopkins, Houston's first-round pick, left the game with what the team says is a head injury. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)

Akbar Gbajabiamila, a former defensive end for three NFL teams, described his first concussion, suffered in just his fourth pro game, as feeling like “someone hitting you over the head as hard as possible with a cast-iron frying pan.”

Everything around me at that moment sounded faint, as if I were at the bottom of a swimming pool hearing conversations above me. My understanding of my surroundings was foggy, almost like that feeling you get when you lose your train of thought.

Gbajabiamila was a rookie fighting for a job, and he didn’t want to come out of the game. “I got up like a drunken man and started searching for that big hit,” he wrote, “but the play was already over.” After receiving some medical attention on the sidelines, he continued to play.

That’s how football has always been. You take a hard hit, you suck it up like a man and you go out for more. Until recently, those who raised concerns about the long-term effects of repeated episodes of mild brain trauma were dismissed. They didn’t understand the toughness of the game or its players. The league claimed there wasn’t enough evidence to draw any conclusions about the safety of the sport.

But today, research by independent neuroscientists has outpaced the NFL’s ability to spin away its concussion crisis – and calls for making the game safer are growing louder. MORE

Batty Secession Schemes Gain a Foothold Among Rural Conservatives

Tea Party member Greg Hernandez, of Quicksburg, Va., wearing a tri-corner hat and tea bag. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Tea Party member Greg Hernandez, of Quicksburg, Va., wearing a tri-corner hat replete with tea bag. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Editor’s note: We first ran this piece back in September. On Tuesday, six of the 11 Northern Colorado counties with the ’51st state’ initiative on their ballots voted to start the process of seceding from the Centennial State.

Conservative activists in five rural Maryland counties are fed up with what they see as the tyranny of a democratically elected state government they don’t control. They’re so frustrated that they want to secede and form their own deep red state.

Bizarre as it seems, the effort is part of a trend. In Colorado, up to 10 rural counties want to break off and form a new state called Northern Colorado. A handful of counties in Kansas and Nebraska are reportedly thinking about joining them. Several counties in Northern California are hoping to combine with a chunk of Southern Oregon to form the state of Jefferson – an old idea that apparently hasn’t gone out of fashion. And folks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula fed up with Lansing have also been kicking around the idea of cutting loose.

The media have framed these stories as a symptom of a growing rural-urban divide, and that’s true. Gun safety laws enacted after the Sandy Hook shootings sparked the move in both Colorado and Maryland. Marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and differences over energy policy, immigration (over which state governments have little control) and taxes are often cited as “irreconcilable differences” by these secession advocates. MORE

Three Infuriating Facts About Wall Street CEOs Five Years After The Crisis

This post first appeared in ThinkProgress.


Richard S. Fuld, Jr., former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lehman Brothers, wipes his eye during testimony before the House Financial Services Committee regarding financial reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Richard S. Fuld, Jr., former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lehman Brothers, wipes his eye during testimony before the House Financial Services Committee regarding financial reform on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, April 20, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Five years ago this week, the investment bank Lehman Brothers Holdings, Inc. declared bankruptcy and triggered the financial collapse that brought us the Great Recession. Things have turned out quite well for former Lehman Brothers CEO Dick Fuld and four other industry executives whose work contributed substantially to the cycle of subprime lending and financial swindling that caused the crisis. Fuld and his colleagues haven’t just avoided legal repercussions for the crisis. They’re also among the wealthiest people in the country.

As part of a series commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the Center for Public Integrity (CPI) published a look at Fuld and executives from Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup and Bank of America on Tuesday. Here are three infuriating facts CPI unearthed about the masters of the financial universe.

1. Dick Fuld walked away with half a billion dollars and three homes. Fuld’s $529 million fortune is actually a lot less than he could have been worth had he been able to cash out all of his stock before the Lehman bankruptcy. He had been paid $889.5 million in salary and stock between 2000 and 2007, and at one point his stock options were worth a full $900 million. CPI offers a digital tour of Fuld’s three homes: mansions in Greenwich, Connecticut and Jupiter Island, Florida, and a ranch in Sun Valley, Idaho. When Lehman settled for $90 million with former investors who the firm had deceived through an accounting trick approved by Fuld, it was an insurance company that paid, not executives like Fuld.

2. The former Bear Stearns CEO who walked away with over $300 million plays high-stakes bridge in retirement. Jimmy Cayne oversaw Bear Stearns’s massive gambling on home loans and related financial products prior to the company’s collapse. Today, he oversees a different sort of gambling. Cayne is the number 22-ranked bridge player in the world. He walked away from the company two months before it went belly up, having cashed out $289 million in stock and received another $87.5 million in direct cash bonuses from 2000 to 2007. Cayne and his wife own two Manhattan apartments, a mansion on the Jersey shore, and a $2.75 million condo in Boca Raton, Florida. “He’s paid no judgments or settlements from any lawsuits,” CPI reports.

3. Three bailed out CEOs whose “golden parachutes” were worth a combined $272 million are doing just fine. Charles Prince left Citigroup in 2007 following the announcement he’d lost the firm $11 billion in mortgage-backed gambles. The company paid him $28 million to leave. Stan O’Neal was fired by Merrill Lynch the same month, and the firm sent $161.5 million out the door with him. Ken Lewis left Bank of America in 2009 with a parachute payment of $83 million. All three of their firms had to be bailed out by taxpayers. The three men’s exit payments dramatically understate their total compensation. O’Neal and Prince each have vacation homes in the islands off of Cape Cod. Lewis has sold two homes in recent years but retains a condo in Naples, Florida.

While these stories of huge personal success in the face of clear business failure are infuriating, they are far from exceptional. Fully one-third of the highest paid financial industry CEOs of the past two decades have been fired, bailed out or busted for fraud.

Meanwhile, 11.3 million Americans remain unemployed, with tens of millions more having dropped out of the workforce or struggling to survive on low-wage part-time service industry jobs. Those who do have work are earning less than they did prior to the crisis, and American workers as a whole have experienced a lost decade in wage growth despite boosting their productivity substantially. By contrast, the financial industry that caused the crisis has bounced back rapidly, with record profits and near-record bonuses for its executives.


Alan Pyke Alan Pyke is the deputy economic policy editor for ThinkProgress.org. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he was a blogger and researcher with a focus on economic policy and political advertising at Media Matters for America, American Bridge 21st Century Foundation and PoliticalCorrection.org.

The Tea Party vs. Public Libraries

This post first appeared in Alternet.

In this Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011 photograph, members of a chess club group play at the Camden Public Library in Camden, N.J. Thursday was the final day for Camden's main public library, another victim of the impoverished city's budget crunch. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

In September 2012 the Library Board of Pulaski County, Kentucky, raised property taxes $1 per year for a typical homeowner to maintain the existing level of services in its five libraries. Voters were not given the opportunity to reject the increase; in 2006 however, they were and resoundingly approved a much larger increase to finance a new library.

But in 2006 the county and the country did not have a tea party. That grassroots movement sprang up early 2009 in fury at the federal government’s attempt to help millions of people facing foreclosure stay in their homes. In 2010 it escalated into a full-throated attack on the federal government’s attempt to expand medical care access to tens of millions. By 2012 the tea party movement’s virulent anti-government, anti-tax philosophy and take-no-prisoners, I’m-not-my-brother’s-keeper attitude had come to define American politics.

Pulaski County tea partiers, justifying their fury by noting the $1 increase had not been voted on by the people began circulating a petition to dissolve the library tax district completely. The effort’s leader declared her group would stop accumulating signatures only if all members of the current library board resigned. MORE

Page 1 of 212