Global Wealth Inequality, what you never knew you never knew. The extreme truth about how wealth is divided globally. Inspired by the amazing "Wealth Inequality in America" video.
By Justin Elliott, ProPublica
Recently, we wrote about former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell's connections to the natural gas industry after he published a pro-fracking op-ed in The New York Daily News.
Following our story, Rendell's column — which called on New York officials to lift a ban on the drilling technique — was updated to disclose that he is a paid consultant to a private equity firm with natural gas investments.
Rendell assured us in an interview before the first story that despite his role with the private equity firm, he had no "pecuniary interest in the natural gas industry doing well."
But the story doesn't end there. One entity that indisputably has an interest in the industry is Rendell's longtime home outside of politics: the law firm Ballard Spahr of Philadelphia.
The firm touts its work "on the forefront" of the development of the Marcellus Shale, the formation under Pennsylvania and other states from which a vast quantity of natural gas is now being extracted.
America is in the grip of a societal economic panic. Lawmakers cry “We’re broke!” as they slash budgets, lay off schoolteachers, police and firefighters, crumbling our country’s social fabric and leaving many Americans scrambling to survive. Meanwhile, multi-billion-dollar American corporations like Exxon, Google and Bank of America are making record profits. And while the deficit climbs and the cuts go deeper, these corporations -- with intimate ties to our political leaders -- are concealing colossal profits overseas to avoid paying U.S. income tax.
"We're Not Broke" is the story of how American corporations have been able to hide over a trillion dollars from Uncle Sam, and how seven fed-up Americans from across the country, take their frustration to the streets and vow to make the corporations pay their fair share.
Occupy Love, the newest feature documentary by award-winning filmmaker and sound designer Velcrow Ripper, connects the dots in this era of rapidly evolving social change. From the Arab Spring to the European Summer, from the Occupy Movement to the global climate justice movement, Occupy Love asks the question: how could the crisis of today become a love story?
Occupy Love is having its New York City premiere on Friday, May 3.
Once again, the banks are given a pass for their criminal behavior, while homeowners are given the shaft: 4 million people wrongfully foreclosed on. Can they get their houses back?:
Imagine you are a homeowner who has made your mortgage payments on time. Or pretend for a moment that you have been informed you are entitled to relief or promised a modification. Now, imagine that in spite of all that, you receive a foreclosure notice, which the bank follows through on.
That is the reality for the 4 million people the banks wrongfully foreclosed on between 2009-2010. Tuesday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve announced the beginning of payments for some of those people whose homes were wrongfully taken from them.
As Hayes explained in the clip above, "given the scale of the deception and error, the amount of money on the table for those who've been victimized, is in most instances, cartoonishly small."
Here's more from Salon on Alexis Goldstein's What You Can Buy for Having Your House Stolen Tumblr page -- Bank stole your house? Have 10 pitchforks’ worth of compensation:
When the Occupy Wall Street encampment was evicted from the park on Nov. 15, 2011, police officers and sanitation workers dismantled and removed belongings and furnishings that had been kept in the park, tossing them onto sidewalks, into metal containers and into a dump truck.
The city of New York will pay more than $350,000 to settle a lawsuit filed last year claiming that police destroyed the private property of those evicted from a park during an Occupy Wall Street raid.
Occupy Wall Street organizers brought the suit against the city last year, claiming that in a raid that took place in Zucotti Park on Nov. 15, 2011, police destroyed thousands of books the movement had accumulated in its so-called "People's Library."
The "books were damaged so as to render them unusable, and additional books are unaccounted for," court papers read. Furnishings and other equipment were also damaged, the suit claimed.
"Our clients are pleased," Normal Siegel, who represented Occupy Wall Street, said following the decision, according to The Village Voice.
"This was not just about money, it was about constitutional rights and the destruction of books."
The settlement calls for the city to pay Occupy $47,000 for the loss of the books and about $186,000 in legal fees it incurred. New York City will also pay $75,000 to Global Revolutions TV, a broadcaster, along with $49,850 in legal costs, for the destruction of its computers and live-streaming equipment. An additional $8,500 will be paid to Times Up New York, an organization that provided bicycle-powered generators to the Occupiers.
As part of the settlement, Brookfield Properties, the owner of Zucotti Park, will pay the city about $16,000 for its responsibility in the property destruction.
Here's a copy of the settlement:
A little music to help get you over the mid-week hump. This is Jamie N Commons performing "Lead Me Home." (You may have heard this one on "The Walking Dead.")
Your morning open thread begins below...
UPDATE: Senator Mitch McConnell has asked the FBI to investigate the recording of a campaign strategy meeting in which the lawmaker and his staff made disparaging remarks about actress Ashley Judd. Ah yes, priorities.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s aides were reportedly building up an attack campaign against Judd that would go after her mental health and religion, according to tape leaked to Mother Jones on Tuesday. The actress had been mulling challenging McConnell in the 2014 election, a seat that Democrats consider vulnerable. “They want to fight? We’re ready,” McConnell says in the tape, despite having being silent in the media while Judd’s name was being floated. The meeting leader, who is unidentified, says Judd is “emotionally unbalanced.” The meeting attendees laughed at some recordings of Judd’s, including when she describes getting the most of her faith from a parable involving St. Francis, with one attendee mocking that as “my favorite line so far.”
But the McConnell gang explored going far beyond Judd's politics and policy preferences. This included her mental health. The meeting leader noted:
She's clearly, this sounds extreme, but she is emotionally unbalanced. I mean it's been documented. Jesse can go in chapter and verse from her autobiography about, you know, she's suffered some suicidal tendencies. She was hospitalized for 42 days when she had a mental breakdown in the '90s.
In her 2011 memoirs, All That Is Bitter & Sweet, Judd recounts her past bouts with depression, noting that she had considered suicide as a sixth-grader and that as an adult she had checked into a rehab center for depression. (The Jesse mentioned might have been Jesse Benton—the grandson of former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and the nephew of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)—who was hired last year by McConnell to run his reelection effort. Three years ago, Benton worked on Rand Paul's successful tea-party-driven Senate primary campaign against a GOP establishment candidate handpicked by McConnell. Benton did not respond to a request for comment.)
It's certainly frightful to listen to McConnell's gang reveal themselves to be such bottom-feeding mental midgets. Their plan to defeat Ashley Judd if she had decided to run against McConnell was to mock and attack her for suffering with depression? I believe that Judd might well have handily trounced McConnell once he and his aides revealed themselves to be the sort who get their shits and giggles from a person's suffering with what can be a horribly debilitating illness. With one of of every ten Americans reporting depression, it's certainly no laughing matter.
More at Mother Jones, including several more audio recordings.
Just in time for tax season, Seth welcomes back Drunk Uncle who has some very poignant opinions on taxes.
Your morning open thread begins below.
2005: World leaders joined pilgrims and prelates in St. Peter's Square for the funeral of Pope John Paul II.
In 1973, artist Pablo Picasso died at his home near Mougins, France, at age 91.
1990: Ryan White, an AIDS patient whose battle for acceptance gained national attention, died at age 18.
Hank Aaron hit his record-breaking 715th home run in 1974.
1994: Kurt Cobain of Nirvana was found dead in Seattle at age 27 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The coroner ruled that he had been dead for at least 34 hours when his body was discovered by an electrician who was carrying out repairs at his home. Thus, some mourn on April 5, some on the 8th when the tragedy made the news, and others -- like myself -- we miss him all the time.