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Author Topic: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity  (Read 3924 times)

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AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #75 on: September 25, 2017, 09:26:33 pm »
Corporations
 
Don't Want Us As Customers We Are Their Products


Sep. 23, 2017 4:00 pm

Thom takes on the Equifax scandal to reveal a growing business model where you are not the consumer but the product being traded and sold by corporations.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #76 on: January 17, 2018, 07:35:37 pm »
BlackRock CEO Calls For Social Justice In Corporate Culture

January 17th, 2018 by Steve Hanley

Laurence D. Fink

Laurence D. Fink may not be a household name, but he is a very influential person. When Mr. Fink speaks, others listen. Why? Because as the founder and CEO of BlackRock, he controls more than $6 trillion in assets. That’s the kind of clout that gets a person noticed. On January 16, the chief executives of most of the major business corporations in the world received a letter from Laurence Fink telling them they have to develop a social conscience if they wish BlackRock to continue investing in their business.

A Letter, But So Much More

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate,” Fink writes.

What? Has the ghost of Ayn Rand finally been interred? Has Milton Friedman’s bust been removed from the Economists’ Hall of Fame? Has the entire Chicago School of Economics philosophy that the only duty of a business corporation is to make money for its shareholders been tossed into the dustbin of history? Not quite, but close.

BlackRock wields enormous power in corporate boardrooms. In many cases, it gets to decide who sits on those boards and who does not. In recent years, it has taken a more activist role, which includes siding with ExxonMobil shareholders who demanded the company be more open about its exposure to climate change related risks. That initiative would have failed without BlackRock’s support.

What are the implications of Fink’s letter? Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, tells the New York Times he has seen “nothing like it’’ before. “It will be a lightning rod for sure for major institutions investing other people’s money,” he says. “It is huge for an institutional investor to take this position across its portfolio.‘‘

The Social License Concept

The letter suggests that a business that does not serve the community may lose what is known as its “social license to operate.” According to Investopedia, “The Social License to Operate, or simply social license, refers to ongoing acceptance of a company or industry’s standard business practices and operating procedures by its employees, stakeholders and the general public. The concept of social license is closely related with the concept of sustainability and the triple bottom line.

“Social license to operate is created and maintained slowly over time as the actions of a company build trust with the community it operates in and other stakeholders. A company must be seen operating responsibly, taking care of its employees and the environment, and being a good corporate citizen. When problems do occur, the company must act quickly to resolve the issues or the social license to operate is put in danger.”

In his letter, Fink comes close to taking a swipe at the current administration, saying “many governments [are] failing to prepare for the future, on issues ranging from retirement and infrastructure to automation and worker retraining.” He added, “As a result, society increasingly is turning to the private sector and asking that companies respond to broader societal challenges.” If a company fails to respond, however, “it will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”

A Contrary Opinion

Not everyone is thrilled with Laurence Fink’s newfound social conscience. CleanTechnica writer Tina Casey pointed me toward a story on CNBC in which another billionaire, Sam Zell, described Fink and others who think like him as “extraordinarily hypocritical.” Zell heads one of the largest real estate investment firms in America and is CEO of five corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He describes himself as a social liberal but a fiscal conservative and he maintains the bottom line is the raison d’être of business and makes no apology for his point of view.

“They talk about the fact that they’re in effect going to do exactly what the market does,” says Zell, “and then they put up public policy statements that suggest that they’re going to advocate the market doing things other than what happens every day. Either they’re a passive fund that follows the market or they’re a leader that’s setting the tone. I didn’t know Larry Fink had been made God.”

The Milton Friedman Fallacy

Zell’s remarks set up the struggle between capitalism and social responsibility perfectly. Back in 1970, Milton Friedman told the New York Times, “What does it mean to say that ‘business’ has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities. Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.” Ebenezer Scrooge couldn’t have put it any better and his words mesh well with the poisonous social ideas being promoted by the Koch brothers and their ilk.

And yet, a curious thing happened between 1970 and now. In 2010, in the landmark Citizens United case, the US Supreme Court blithely asserted that corporations have the right of free speech because they are a “person” within the purview of the Constitution. That “fact” was presumed by the court to be one of those self-evident truths that any person of ordinary intelligence would agree with. The Citizens United decision puts an odd twist on Friedman’s pronouncement. If a corporation is just another “person,” does it not follow that it owes the same duty that real people have to not pollute the lands, rivers, skies, lakes, and oceans?

Greed Is Maybe Not So Good After All

And that leads us back to the fascinating discussion about untaxed negative externalties we have been having here on CleanTechnica recently. It is one thing to say a corporation has only one obligation — to make money for its investors. It is quite something else to say a corporation should be allowed to pass off some of the costs of doing business so others have to pay them.

For instance, Walmart pays its workers so poorly that many of them qualify for food stamps and other government assistance programs. That means the taxpayers are subsidizing Walmart’s business. Why should that be the case? Why should “Always Low Prices” translate into a license to tap the public fisc for the general benefit of Walmart’s owners?

Milton Friedman’s “greed is good” philosophy may be the distilled essence of capitalism, but it only works if businesses are required to bear all of the costs they impose on society, not just some. Otherwise, the accounting just doesn’t add up, which is the idea behind the triple bottom line concept. Laurence Fink is pointing out that the corporate community is cooking the books and he is calling them on it. What impact his letter will have on corporate policies and procedures won’t be known for some time, but it is, if nothing else, a good first step and long overdue.

https://cleantechnica.com/2018/01/17/blackrock-ceo-calls-social-justice-corporate-culture/

Agelbert COMMENT:
Quote

Milton Friedman’s “greed is good” philosophy may be the distilled essence of capitalism, but it only works if businesses are required to bear all of the costs they impose on society, not just some.

Exactly RIGHT!   

Unrestrained Capitalism is the goal of every Capitalist. Laurence D. Fink and his elite friends aren't turning over a new "We need to be responsible to the community" leaf. What they are doing is attempting to insulate the oligarchs from the cost of mitigating all the environmental damage they have profited from by adopting a "responsibility" PR meme. They know what Catastrophic Climate Change will do to society and they do NOT want to pay their fair share of the mitigation efforts.

It's like this:

Theresa Morris wrote an excellent Essay that fleshes out what the leaders of society  must do if they are serious about acting in a socially responsible manner. I added graphics to underline the importance of her essay and some comments at the end, but the work is hers and it deserves to be broadcast far and wide.
I am posting here two of the graphics I included in my comments on Theresa's Essay in order to explain to readers how TPTB, who are well aware of the dangers inherent in climate change (though they won't admit it), plan to make all the rest of us pay for what those actually DOING over 90%  (about ONE percent of the world population) of the damage are liable for (i.e. environmental damage through government policies subsidizing polluters actively and passively through mendacious happy talk propaganda born of corporate corruption).

IOW, those responsible for the damage plan to spread the cost to further enrich the oligarchic polluters that got us into this mess in the first place. The operative phrase is "Fragmentation of Agency". 

The "Agency" definition here is the responsibility for harm and the consequent responsibility to pay for mitigating said harm. 

"Fragmentation" refers to what percentage of all those with Agency in doing the harm are responsible to pay to mitigate and eventually repair said harm.

Since, according to the U.N., the richest 20% of the world's population uses 80% of the resources, the 'Fragmentation of Agency' pie chart for the damage done to the biosphere should look like this:


The fossil fuel industry, and almost half of the world’s 100 largest corporations, want that 'Fragmentation of Agency' pie chart to look like is as follows:


The above graphic is how TPTB polluter enablers  will try to pass most of the buck away from themselves and onto we-the-people.

We either adopt the common sense ethical recommendations of visionaries like Theresa Morris, or we are toast.

What it Means to be Responsible - Reflections on Our Responsibility for the Future  by Theresa Morris, State University of New York at New Paltz
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #77 on: January 17, 2018, 08:36:59 pm »
BlackRock CEO Calls For Social Justice In Corporate Culture

January 17th, 2018 by Steve Hanley

Laurence D. Fink

Laurence D. Fink may not be a household name, but he is a very influential person. When Mr. Fink speaks, others listen. Why? Because as the founder and CEO of BlackRock, he controls more than $6 trillion in assets. That’s the kind of clout that gets a person noticed. On January 16, the chief executives of most of the major business corporations in the world received a letter from Laurence Fink telling them they have to develop a social conscience if they wish BlackRock to continue investing in their business.

A Letter, But So Much More

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose. To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Companies must benefit all of their stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the communities in which they operate,” Fink writes.

What? Has the ghost of Ayn Rand finally been interred? Has Milton Friedman’s bust been removed from the Economists’ Hall of Fame? Has the entire Chicago School of Economics philosophy that the only duty of a business corporation is to make money for its shareholders been tossed into the dustbin of history? Not quite, but close.

BlackRock wields enormous power in corporate boardrooms. In many cases, it gets to decide who sits on those boards and who does not. In recent years, it has taken a more activist role, which includes siding with ExxonMobil shareholders who demanded the company be more open about its exposure to climate change related risks. That initiative would have failed without BlackRock’s support.

What are the implications of Fink’s letter? Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, a senior associate dean at the Yale School of Management, tells the New York Times he has seen “nothing like it’’ before. “It will be a lightning rod for sure for major institutions investing other people’s money,” he says. “It is huge for an institutional investor to take this position across its portfolio.‘‘

The Social License Concept

The letter suggests that a business that does not serve the community may lose what is known as its “social license to operate.” According to Investopedia, “The Social License to Operate, or simply social license, refers to ongoing acceptance of a company or industry’s standard business practices and operating procedures by its employees, stakeholders and the general public. The concept of social license is closely related with the concept of sustainability and the triple bottom line.

“Social license to operate is created and maintained slowly over time as the actions of a company build trust with the community it operates in and other stakeholders. A company must be seen operating responsibly, taking care of its employees and the environment, and being a good corporate citizen. When problems do occur, the company must act quickly to resolve the issues or the social license to operate is put in danger.”

In his letter, Fink comes close to taking a swipe at the current administration, saying “many governments [are] failing to prepare for the future, on issues ranging from retirement and infrastructure to automation and worker retraining.” He added, “As a result, society increasingly is turning to the private sector and asking that companies respond to broader societal challenges.” If a company fails to respond, however, “it will ultimately lose the license to operate from key stakeholders.”

A Contrary Opinion

Not everyone is thrilled with Laurence Fink’s newfound social conscience. CleanTechnica writer Tina Casey pointed me toward a story on CNBC in which another billionaire, Sam Zell, described Fink and others who think like him as “extraordinarily hypocritical.” Zell heads one of the largest real estate investment firms in America and is CEO of five corporations listed on the New York Stock Exchange. He describes himself as a social liberal but a fiscal conservative and he maintains the bottom line is the raison d’être of business and makes no apology for his point of view.

“They talk about the fact that they’re in effect going to do exactly what the market does,” says Zell, “and then they put up public policy statements that suggest that they’re going to advocate the market doing things other than what happens every day. Either they’re a passive fund that follows the market or they’re a leader that’s setting the tone. I didn’t know Larry Fink had been made God.”

The Milton Friedman Fallacy

Zell’s remarks set up the struggle between capitalism and social responsibility perfectly. Back in 1970, Milton Friedman told the New York Times, “What does it mean to say that ‘business’ has responsibilities? Only people can have responsibilities. Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the basis of a free society these past decades.” Ebenezer Scrooge couldn’t have put it any better and his words mesh well with the poisonous social ideas being promoted by the Koch brothers and their ilk.

And yet, a curious thing happened between 1970 and now. In 2010, in the landmark Citizens United case, the US Supreme Court blithely asserted that corporations have the right of free speech because they are a “person” within the purview of the Constitution. That “fact” was presumed by the court to be one of those self-evident truths that any person of ordinary intelligence would agree with. The Citizens United decision puts an odd twist on Friedman’s pronouncement. If a corporation is just another “person,” does it not follow that it owes the same duty that real people have to not pollute the lands, rivers, skies, lakes, and oceans?

Greed Is Maybe Not So Good After All

And that leads us back to the fascinating discussion about untaxed negative externalties we have been having here on CleanTechnica recently. It is one thing to say a corporation has only one obligation — to make money for its investors. It is quite something else to say a corporation should be allowed to pass off some of the costs of doing business so others have to pay them.

For instance, Walmart pays its workers so poorly that many of them qualify for food stamps and other government assistance programs. That means the taxpayers are subsidizing Walmart’s business. Why should that be the case? Why should “Always Low Prices” translate into a license to tap the public fisc for the general benefit of Walmart’s owners?

Milton Friedman’s “greed is good” philosophy may be the distilled essence of capitalism, but it only works if businesses are required to bear all of the costs they impose on society, not just some. Otherwise, the accounting just doesn’t add up, which is the idea behind the triple bottom line concept. Laurence Fink is pointing out that the corporate community is cooking the books and he is calling them on it. What impact his letter will have on corporate policies and procedures won’t be known for some time, but it is, if nothing else, a good first step and long overdue.

https://cleantechnica.com/2018/01/17/blackrock-ceo-calls-social-justice-corporate-culture/

Agelbert COMMENT:
Quote

Milton Friedman’s “greed is good” philosophy may be the distilled essence of capitalism, but it only works if businesses are required to bear all of the costs they impose on society, not just some.

Exactly RIGHT!   

Unrestrained Capitalism is the goal of every Capitalist. Laurence D. Fink and his elite friends aren't turning over a new "We need to be responsible to the community" leaf. What they are doing is attempting to insulate the oligarchs from the cost of mitigating all the environmental damage they have profited from by adopting a "responsibility" PR meme. They know what Catastrophic Climate Change will do to society and they do NOT want to pay their fair share of the mitigation efforts.

It's like this:

Theresa Morris wrote an excellent Essay that fleshes out what the leaders of society  must do if they are serious about acting in a socially responsible manner. I added graphics to underline the importance of her essay and some comments at the end, but the work is hers and it deserves to be broadcast far and wide.
I am posting here two of the graphics I included in my comments on Theresa's Essay in order to explain to readers how TPTB, who are well aware of the dangers inherent in climate change (though they won't admit it), plan to make all the rest of us pay for what those actually DOING over 90%  (about ONE percent of the world population) of the damage are liable for (i.e. environmental damage through government policies subsidizing polluters actively and passively through mendacious happy talk propaganda born of corporate corruption).

IOW, those responsible for the damage plan to spread the cost to further enrich the oligarchic polluters that got us into this mess in the first place. The operative phrase is "Fragmentation of Agency". 

The "Agency" definition here is the responsibility for harm and the consequent responsibility to pay for mitigating said harm. 

"Fragmentation" refers to what percentage of all those with Agency in doing the harm are responsible to pay to mitigate and eventually repair said harm.

Since, according to the U.N., the richest 20% of the world's population uses 80% of the resources, the 'Fragmentation of Agency' pie chart for the damage done to the biosphere should look like this:


The fossil fuel industry, and almost half of the world’s 100 largest corporations, want that 'Fragmentation of Agency' pie chart to look like is as follows:


The above graphic is how TPTB polluter enablers  will try to pass most of the buck away from themselves and onto we-the-people.

We either adopt the common sense ethical recommendations of visionaries like Theresa Morris, or we are toast.

What it Means to be Responsible - Reflections on Our Responsibility for the Future  by Theresa Morris, State University of New York at New Paltz


I saw the headlines on the Fink story. I figured him for an apologist looking to absolve himself of a little billionaire guilt, so I didn't read it. Still, to me he compares very favorably to the Mercers, Kochs, and Trumps of the world.


I don't think people who have become billionaires have a clue what guilt is. The bill for all this biosphere damage is coming due. They want to socialize the costs while continuing to privatize the profits, period. Sure, their PR is better than that of the in-your-face fascists like Mercer, Kochs, etc. et al , but IMHO it's just CYA to set we-the-people up for the MASSIVE (REALLY MASSIVE!) socialized costs that Catastrophic Climate Change will, do not pass go, do not collect NOTHING, saddle human civilization with.

I'm am not buying Fink's line UNLESS he puts a LOT of Climate Change Mitigating Money where his mouth is. I have seen ZERO evidence of that. Money talks, and bullshit walks. 
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #78 on: January 17, 2018, 09:22:54 pm »
Quote
from: Eddie on Today at 07:46:03 pm

I saw the headlines on the Fink story. I figured him for an apologist looking to absolve himself of a little billionaire guilt, so I didn't read it. Still, to me he compares very favorably to the Mercers, Kochs, and Trumps of the world.

I don't think people who have become billionaires have a clue what guilt is. The bill for all this biosphere damage is coming due. They want to socialize the costs while continuing to privatize the profits, period. Sure, their PR is better than that of the in-your-face fascists like Mercer, Kochs, etc. et al , but IMHO it's just CYA to set we-the-people up for the MASSIVE (REALLY MASSIVE!) socialized costs that Catastrophic Climate Change will, do not pass go, do not collect NOTHING, saddle human civilization with.

I'm am not buying Fink's line UNLESS he puts a LOT of Climate Change Mitigating Money where his mouth is. I have seen ZERO evidence of that. Money talks, and bullshit walks. 

The King is a Fink

Yeah, I guess so. I doubt he plans to give his fortune for climate change mitigation. Or that he thinks through the process of how guys like him have so much more impact on the environment than most people, because their money supports a global extractive colonial economy. He's just some amateur social theorist with the bully pulpit that comes from being the richest guy in the room most places he goes.
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #79 on: April 06, 2018, 05:06:27 pm »


UK sugar tax starts today — here’s what it means

LAST UPDATED ON APRIL 6TH, 2018 AT 6:46 PM BY MIHAI ANDREI

A groundbreaking sugar tax enters into force as of today in the United Kingdom, which joins a handful of other countries which have already introduced similar taxes.

Much more than cavities

Sugar has been linked to a number of health issues. A 2003 World Health Organization (WHO) technical report provided evidence that high intake of sugary drinks (including fruit juice) increased the risk of obesity, and since then, the evidence has piled on. Simply put, eating lots of sugar makes you fat, and if you’re thinking ‘but I don’t really eat that much sugar’ — then think again. Sugar is embedded into a surprisingly large number of processed foods, popping up in most things you’ll find on the shelves. Not least of all, sugar is typically present in large quantities in sugary drinks, and, as a result, sugary drinks are one of the main drivers for obesity in several countries.

Backed by a mountain of scientific evidence, the WHO says that society needs to curb its consumption of sugar to fight the upcoming obesity pandemic — and this is where the sugar tax comes in.

The levy will be applied to manufacturers, and whether they will pass it on consumers or support the tax themselves is up to them. From now on, drinks with a sugar content higher than 5g per 100ml will be taxed 18p ($0.25) per liter, and drinks with 8g or more will be taxed 24p ($0.34). The tax is expected to act on several fronts.

Firstly, manufacturers are expected to reduce the sugar content of their products, which many have already started doing (Fanta, Ribena, and Lucozade have cut the sugar content of drinks, but Coca-Cola has not).

Secondly, consumers are expected to be somewhat dissuaded by potentially higher prices, and therefore reduce their consumption.

Lastly
, an expected revenue of £240m ($340) is expected to be raked by the government — that money will be invested in schools sports and breakfast clubs.

However, products such as cakes, biscuits and other foods are not covered by the tax.

Of course, taxes are never popular, and so far reactions have been mixed. Many argue that having a Coke or whatever other sugary drink is a personal choice and shouldn’t be taxed — however, similar taxes have long been applied to alcohol and tobacco (among others) in most parts of the world. Similar taxes have been applied successfully in countries like France, Norway, or Denmark.

It’s important to note that a recent study has shown that the sugar industry was aware of the negative health effects of sugar for decades, but it simply swept them under the rug. 😠

Coca-Cola has been under fire since 2015 when emails revealed that funding for scientific studies sought to influence research to be more favorable to soda, and research funded by soda companies is 34 times more likely to find soda has no significant health impacts on obesity or diabetes.

https://www.zmescience.com/science/news-science/uk-sugar-tax-award-06042018/
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #80 on: March 23, 2019, 05:37:33 pm »

Extended Conversation with Vicky Ward on “Kushner , Inc.”

Web Exclusive MARCH 22, 2019

https://www.democracynow.org/2019/3/22/extended_conversation_with_vicky_ward_on

This is viewer supported news. Please do your part today.

investigative journalist and author of Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Web-only extended interview with investigative journalist Vicky Ward, author of “Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.”

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh. Our guest is Vicky Ward, investigative journalist. Her new book, Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Why don’t we just begin with the title, Vicky?

VICKY WARD: Right.

AMY GOODMAN: Kushner, Inc.

VICKY WARD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Why did you call it that?

VICKY WARD: Because I think that, you know, all roads, in the book, lead back to the Kushners’ giant financial problems and that everything Jared and Ivanka have done in this White House is about self-service, not public service. You know, these are people who both grew up in cultures that have extraordinary disdain for rules, including the rule of law. They think that rules only apply to other people. You know, I mean, Jared has very strong feelings about government, going back to what happened to his father in 2004, when, you know, he pled guilty. The government, Chris Christie and his team of prosecutors in New Jersey, had extraordinary leverage. And I think that from—

AMY GOODMAN: Why don’t you tell that story, for those who are not familiar with what happened? This is before Chris Christie was governor, prosecutor in New Jersey. And what happened to Charles Kushner?

VICKY WARD: Well, Charles Kushner pled guilty to basically three counts: tax fraud, illegal campaign contributions, but the most sort of scandalous and notorious thing was that he set his own brother-in-law up in a very sordid sting involving a prostitute, that was witness tampering. And Christie had a lot of leverage over him, that I go into in the book, about his personal life that Charles Kushner did not want out in public, which is why he pled guilty so quickly. And Jared was aware of a lot of this. And I think that—you know, I included it in the book because it’s the only way that you can understand the intensity of the hatred that I think is engendered in Jared towards Christie, but towards the system. Right? This is—you know, there’s a Kushner mentality, and Charles had it, too, that, you know, we’re not here to—you know, we don’t wait to be accepted by Harvard; we pay our way into Harvard. You know—

AMY GOODMAN: And explain that.

VICKY WARD: So, Charles Kushner’s company sent a check to Harvard University for $2.5 million. Jared Kushner ended up going to Harvard. He was, at his high school, in the third track of the—in his class, there were five tracks. He was in the third. No, it was unheard of for anyone in the third track to go to any Ivy League school, let alone Harvard. And I quote one of his classmates, who was in the first track, getting—being rejected by Harvard and crying when she heard that Jared had got in. And a lot of the teachers were crying. They thought it was such an abuse of the system.

The Kushners are used to buying—buying their way through life. They think that money buys everything they need. You know, during Charles Kushner’s legal troubles—there’s a lawyer I quote in book who said, with their money, they virtually got him fired. You know, he said that they knew how to use money. So—

AMY GOODMAN: They got who fired?

VICKY WARD: They didn’t get him fired. He’s a guy called Theodore Moskowitz. He was involved in Charlie Kushner’s legal dispute with his brother.

But you asked me a bit bigger question. So that, yeah, there is this mindset, when Jared and Ivanka go into government, that rules are for other people. And I think that this is why you see the unfairness in, for example, the divestment, right? Everyone—you know, Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson sell everything in order to go into the government. Jared Kushner and Ivanka don’t. I mean, they put most of their things into a trust run by family members. And, after all, they both come from family businesses.

And then Jared does something extraordinary: He closes the White House logs, the White House visitor logs, so that no one can see who he’s meeting with in the White House. And we only discover a whole year later, when John Kelly says, “No, no, the White House logs have got to be open,” that he’s met with Citigroup and Apollo, who have meanwhile given his family firm loans, and he’s met with Lloyd Blankfein, then the CEO of Goldman Sachs, at a time when Goldman Sachs had an investment in a company that Jared had not only actually put—he hadn’t put it on his White House disclosure form, and he hadn’t divested. I mean, this is—I mean, this is just remarkable. And no one knew. And the American people have a right to know who’s going in and out of the White House.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Jared Kushner’s father, Charles Kushner, has just written a piece in The Washington Post titled “Here’s the Truth About My Family and Our Business.” Charles Kushner writes, quote, “When he left the company, Jared took several steps to preclude conflicts of interest. At the recommendation of his legal counsel, in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics, he divested from more than 80 partnerships, including 666 Fifth Ave., at a substantial financial sacrifice. We walled off Jared from receiving information on the company, and he resigned as the controlling partner in more than 100 entities. This was all done out of an abundance of caution,” Charles Kushner wrote.

VICKY WARD: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you think this also was in response to your book?

VICKY WARD: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: It was today.

VICKY WARD: Yes. I mean, I think it’s just sad. I mean, there’s the—it’s just—this is a fantasy. This is version of what Charles Kushner wishes had happened. I mean, it’s almost more interesting for the things it leaves out than for what it actually says. You know, he starts off, and he portrays the Kushner family as sort of like this cookie-cutter family. No mention of the sordid scandal and him going to jail. He talks about the fact that it’s legal to seek foreign investment to finance trophy buildings in New York. He doesn’t explain that he had to seek foreign investment, because no one in America would touch this thing with a 50-foot barge pole. He talks about the fact that he was bailed out with a 99-year lease. He doesn’t say that that lease was paid up front. I mean, that’s just unheard of, and which is why Congress is investigating it. And—

AMY GOODMAN: And you’re saying that Qatar is involved with this lease?

VICKY WARD: Yes. The Qataris have a $1.8 billion stake in Brookfield. And, you know, Charlie Kushner has bragged about his relationship with the Qataris. I knew they were always there. And the Qataris—if the Qataris want to do this, Brookfield is not going to turn around and say no. I mean, to pay a 99-year lease up front, I mean, you’d have to have—any businessperson, you’d have to have your—for a building that’s worth—you know, would be better if it was just dirt, you’d have to have your head examined. It makes absolutely no financial sense.

And to the last point about Jared having no appearance of conflict of interest, how can he wall himself off from his family? I mean, this is a family business. And I also say in the book he has—you know, he’s also had, in the past, a profit-sharing agreement with his brother, by the way. You know, clearly, the security agencies don’t agree with Charles Kushner, because that’s why they wouldn’t give Charles—Jared Kushner a security clearance.

AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about the significance of that, that only recently sort of exploded again, the whole issue of how Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump got security clearances, Ivanka Trump going on television recently and outright saying Trump was not involved in her security clearance, when in fact—what do you understand happened?

VICKY WARD: Well, Trump had to override everybody. Absolutely everybody said, you know, they’re not—they cannot have security clearances. The—

AMY GOODMAN: You mean everyone in intelligence, who is—

VICKY WARD: Sorry, sorry. Any, yes, career intelligence agency. And, you know, Trump had to override this. And then, as we know, he lied about it, and Ivanka lied about it on television. I mean, for this to be the new norm in our leadership strikes me as just extraordinarily troubling and dangerous. I mean, you know, how do you even begin to right a system that’s so broken and is so dangerous?

NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, I want to turn to Ivanka Trump’s recent appearance on Fox News criticizing the Green New Deal’s proposal for guaranteed jobs for all Americans.

STEVE HILTON: You’ve got people who will see that offer from the Democrats, from the progressive Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—”Here’s the Green New Deal, here’s a guarantee of a job”—and think, “Yeah, that’s what I want. That simple.” What do you say to those people?

IVANKA TRUMP: I don’t think most Americans, in their heart, want to be given something. They’re—I’ve spent a lot of time traveling around this country over the last four years. People want to work for what they get. So I think this idea of a guaranteed minimum is not something most people want. They want the ability to be able to secure a job. They want the ability to live in a country where there’s the potential for upward mobility.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: That was Ivanka Trump speaking to Fox News. Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter saying, quote, “As a person who actually worked for tips & hourly wages in my life, instead of having to learn about it 2nd-hand, I can tell you that most people want to be paid enough to live. A living wage isn’t a gift, it’s a right. Workers are often paid far less than the value they create,” Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted—

VICKY WARD: Right.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: —in response to Ivanka’s comment. So—

VICKY WARD: Right, right, right. Well, I mean, how out of touch is she? But, I mean—but, you know, we see this. I mean, you know, what Jared and Ivanka, I think, don’t realize is that everyone else in the White House sort of views them as like Inspector Clouseau, like bumbling incompetence. And the only people who are aware that—you know, who don’t realize how incompetent they are, are themselves. I mean, they live in a reality distortion field.

AMY GOODMAN: So, can we switch gears completely and talk about what you understand happened with the firing of James Comey—

VICKY WARD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —and what Jared Kushner’s involvement was?

VICKY WARD: Yes. So this is really important. And I think, you know, one of the most important reveals, actually, in the book was that Jared Kushner—the story that Jared Kushner had met with the Russian ambassador and a Russian banker connected to the Kremlin during the transition started to come out in the early spring of 2017. And it was noticed and reported that Jared had not put any of these meetings, or any of the other meetings he had with any foreigners, for that matter, on his security clearance form. That is—that could well be—that’s a felony.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: I mean, you suggest, in fact, that it was Jared Kushner who was responsible for removing the White House logs—

VICKY WARD: Yes. So—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: —so he could not—you know, so he would be protected from people knowing about all the people who were coming to see him at the White House.

VICKY WARD: Yeah. Well, that’s a slightly different thing. This, that is indeed true and also extraordinary. But the Comey thing is a little different. You know, Jared’s normal sort of way of operating with the president was to take him aside and talk quietly to him. But when it came—so, but once these reports were out that he hadn’t disclosed these meetings on his security clearance forms, and by this time the FBI had got—then run by James Comey—had opened its investigation into whether or not there was collusion with the Trump campaign and Russia, Jared, unusually, in front of everybody, in front of a large group—Bannon was there, but so were lots of others—made an impassioned plea to the president to fire James Comey. He gave a three-pronged argument. He said, you know, “The FBI doesn’t like him. The Democrats don’t like him. And your base will love it.” Steve Bannon, who is—you know, whatever we all think of his politics, he’s a wily strategist—thought this was a disastrous idea, and pushed back. But, obviously, you know, it was Jared who, I say in the book, was “gung-ho” about this. I mean, he was very atypically impassioned. Jared swayed the president. And hence you have Robert Mueller. I mean, James Comey goes, and, you know, hence we have everything—you know, the extraordinary events of this ongoing investigation, the special counsel.

AMY GOODMAN: So, let me ask you about Ivanka Trump’s defense of her father after Charlottesville. We have this famous moment after the horror of Charlottesville and the killing of Heather Heyer, the Ku Klux Klan/neo-Nazi march, where President Trump says this.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I think there’s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it, either. And–and—

REPORTER 1: But only the Nazis—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: And—and if you reported it accurately, you would say.

REPORTER 2: One side killed a person. Heather Heyer died—

REPORTER 1: The neo-Nazis started this. They showed up in Charlottesville. They showed up in Charlottesville—

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Excuse me. Excuse me.

REPORTER 1: —to protest the removal of that statue.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: They didn’t put themselves down as neo—and you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group—excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park, from Robert E. Lee to another name.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s President Trump. “There were fine people on both sides.”

VICKY WARD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain where Ivanka Trump then fits into this story.

VICKY WARD: So, I mean, to me, this is the heart of the book. It’s the sort of absolute tipping point, because I think it’s just the most shocking reveal of all. Gary Cohn, whose grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, an immigrant, came over here, Jewish—very, very upset by what the president had said.

AMY GOODMAN: His top economic adviser.

VICKY WARD: Yeah, sorry. Yes. And so upset that he decides he’s going to resign. He goes to New Jersey, where the president has a home. So do Jared and Ivanka. And he stops in to visit Jared and Ivanka and explain that he’s going to resign. And Ivanka—Jared, rather typically, says nothing. Ivanka, to his amazement, says, “no, no. You know, you don’t get it. My father is—you know, my father didn’t mean any of that.” But then she says, “No, my father didn’t say that.”

Gary Cohn had been part of the circle of advisers trying to manage Trump’s response to Charlottesville, and he knew that not only had Trump said it, that Trump had said it deliberately. He had gone against the advice of his advisers. He had picked out—pulled out a piece of paper. He said those words quite deliberately. He was horrified at what—at Ivanka’s response. And he never felt the same way about Jared and Ivanka again. He didn’t resign, but the reason he didn’t resign was he talked to Rob Porter, then the staff secretary, who he’s close to, and Porter said, “You know, we need you to try and get tax reform through Congress.”

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Vicky Ward, investigative journalist. Her new book, Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. We were speaking to you about Ivanka Trump the last time you were on Democracy Now! You were investigating her business interests from China to India. What about Jared Kushner’s links to China? Can you explain them more fully, as you do in the book?

VICKY WARD: Yeah. So—

AMY GOODMAN: And especially talk about the holding company Anbang Insurance.

VICKY WARD: Yeah, I think this is one of the things that actually triggered me to start thinking about writing this book, is what happened, what we started to learn about Jared and the Chinese. You know, it was—so, no one knew this. None of his transition or White House colleagues knew anything about this. But Jared, the first weekend of the transition, and his father had a dinner with a major Chinese insurance firm, Anbang, that they were hoping would bail them out of the 666 Fifth Avenue, this disastrous money pit. But at the same—in the same time period in the transition, the Chinese government flew in, because they were so concerned about what the president said—had said about Taiwan. And Jared—

AMY GOODMAN: This is before he’s president.

VICKY WARD: Yes, this is the transition.

AMY GOODMAN: Just in the period—the transition period.

VICKY WARD: And Jared and a group of others meet with the Chinese government officials at the Kushner Companies headquarters. The whole thing is, you know, wildly, wildly inappropriate. But Jared doesn’t mention the fact that he’s got these ongoing talks with this Chinese insurance company, by the way, whose CEO has gone to jail for a life sentence. And on, I think it’s January 9th, The New York Times reports news of this dinner. And all of Jared’s colleagues—you know, Gary Cohn, Priebus—are just horrified. And Gary Cohn says to Jared, “You know, you realize, Jared, that from now on, whatever you do, everyone is just going to assume you’re here to enrich yourself.”

AMY GOODMAN: The Palestinian negotiator, Erekat, what did he say about Jared Kushner, as he pushes a, quote, “Middle East peace plan”? Something around the issue of “he sounds like a real estate agent”?

VICKY WARD: A real estate, yes, exactly. He did. And, of course, Jared pushes back and says, “Well, maybe you need a real estate broker to solve Middle East peace.” I mean, it’s—you know, again, we come back to this idea, the sort of entitlement, the disdain of rules, rule of law, the sort of the personal agendas, self-interest, not the public interest. I mean, and—

NERMEEN SHAIKH: You could say that’s something that’s true of a large number of people within the Trump administration. The distinction is that Trump and—that Jared and Ivanka Trump are relatives of Donald Trump. I mean, would you say that’s the main problem with them? Therefore they’re not in formal positions for which they could be faulted for the things that you’re pointing out, but rather they’re relatives who have access to Trump in a way that, first of all, gives them power, but without granting them some kind of formal authority.

VICKY WARD: Well, I think it’s more complicated than that. I think it’s to do with transparency. I think that the other members of the Cabinet and the administration are sort of held to a greater public scrutiny. I mean, you know, all these things, you know, that Jared has the power to close the logs and operate in darkness, the fact that he’s—the foreign policy is conducted in darkness, that it’s the—it’s that they’re kind of—they, unlike everyone else, are out of the system. And this is what Reince Priebus couldn’t manage. You know, everyone else, it’s sort of a bit more transparent, you know, their conversations with the president. I think the problem with these two is, we don’t—there’s so much that we don’t know.

AMY GOODMAN: Even though they have official titles, as a senior advisers.

VICKY WARD: Right. And that’s not OK. I mean, look, if she was just the first daughter, not a problem. But she’s not. And that’s where there is a real problem. You know, you can’t go into government and run it like a family real estate business. But that is exactly what’s going on.

AMY GOODMAN: Talking about the family real estate business, what about the Trump International Hotel, down the street from the White House, and how it’s being run, who goes there, what they pay, and then what they’re getting in return?

VICKY WARD: Well, that’s an obvious example of exactly what we’re talking about, just an extraordinary conflict of interest, that’s in plain sight. I mean, famously, you know, anyone—all the foreign entities who are looking to curry favor all stay there. I mean, you know, and again, Ivanka and her—the Trump children each have a 7 percent share in that, which actually is surprisingly little, that Donald Trump didn’t give them more equity. I mean, that, I think, explains, to some degree, why Ivanka was so keen to hold onto her fashion line for so long, even though it was completely inappropriate that she do that, because Donald Trump gives his children surprisingly little. It’s an unusual arrangement for a New York real estate family business. They have surprisingly little equity in his assets.

AMY GOODMAN: So, what about the House Oversight Committee, Judiciary—

VICKY WARD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —now that Democrats control the House? What is being—what do you think should be exposed about Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump? What do you think they are most vulnerable on, as the—as, for example, House Judiciary has demanded—

VICKY WARD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —documents from 81 businesses and people, but Ivanka Trump is not one of them?

VICKY WARD: No, but her businesses are—I mean, come up, and there are a lot of questions about her businesses, as there are about Jared and his businesses. You know, I hope that House Oversight asks more people. I mean, I think that it’d be—you know, I that talking to Jared’s brother—I mean, there are questions about conflicts of interest. You know, just a question. And, you know, it seems clear that Gary Cohn would be a useful person to interview, given that he had a prior knowledge of some of the Kushner brothers’ partnerships.

AMY GOODMAN: Because?

VICKY WARD: Because Goldman Sachs, which is where Gary Cohn used to work, was an investor. So, I hope that—you know, I think that one way to look at it is that the investigations coming out of Congress now are going to give us a road map. They’re the sort of what. And I hope that my book is the why, if that makes sense.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me ask you specifically about another issue, very important: BFPS.

VICKY WARD: Yes.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what that is, how this ties into the whole debate around healthcare, Obamacare, around the Affordable Care Act.

VICKY WARD: Right. So, BFPS is on Jared Kushner’s White House disclosure forms. It stands for “brothers first, partners second.” The way he described it to someone he was trying to hire, three years ago, before he went into the government, was that it’s a profit-sharing vehicle with his brother Josh, whereby each brother splits 50 percent of each of their businesses with each other. Charles Kushner, I report in the book, liked this arrangement, because Charles Kushner had a famous disastrous feud with his own brother about money. So he thought it would be great if these two split their profits 50-50, avoid any fighting.

Now, Josh Kushner says that currently there is no profit-sharing arrangement between them—very precise use of the tense. But Gary Cohn knew that they still had—you know, that Jared still has a stake in a company called Cadre, that he founded with Josh Kushner, his brother, and he kept that stake when he went into the government. He didn’t disclose it on his financial forms. Instead, he rolled it up in BFPS.

AMY GOODMAN: Brothers first, partners second.

VICKY WARD: Yes. So, yes. So—

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking about Thrive. We’re talking about Cadre. We’re talking about Oscar insurance.

VICKY WARD: Oscar—well, so, it’s a little tricky. So, Oscar Health insurance is a business that Josh Kushner started. It’s a health insurance business that’s worth—or it was worth, at the time, at the beginning of the administration, $2.7 billion. And because Gary Cohn knew that there was this web of entanglement, or that certainly existed in the past, and he knew—he did know that Jared still had a stake in Cadre with his brother, he was very concerned when Jared kept bringing up his brother’s name during discussions of repeal-and-replace. And, you know, Jared—

AMY GOODMAN: Repealing Obamacare.

VICKY WARD: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And Jared—because Josh’s business, the success of it, is entirely predicated on Obamacare, it’d be disastrous if it had been repealed, for Oscar, this $2.7 billion business. So when Jared kept saying—you know, mentioning Josh, Gary Cohn was really, really uncomfortable. And then Joel Klein, who works for Josh, reached out to Gary Cohn with suggestions of how he thought healthcare should be shaped. And Gary Cohn says in the book that he was really uncomfortable about this. Now, Joel Klein says, “I was just doing—I was doing what anyone in my position would do.” You know, but given the background and given these business partnerships, I think Gary Cohn was really troubled. And rightly so.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you don’t name a lot of your sources.

VICKY WARD: No.

AMY GOODMAN: And that’s one of the criticisms of the book—

VICKY WARD: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: —is that it’s based on so many unnamed sources. Why?

VICKY WARD: Well, if you look at any book about a White House that’s written contemporaneously, they’re not on the record. I mean, even the great Bob Woodward is full of anonymous sources. And with this White House in particular, that is known to be so punitive, people are very frightened to go on the record. You know, Washington is an ecosystem. These people’s livelihoods depend on their relationship with the White House. So the only way you can get around—you know, you can really try and be as accurate as possible is to double- or triple-source everything. And, you know, so I made it a point of principle not to take one person’s word—you asked me earlier about Steve Bannon—absolutely never to take what somebody like he might have said, you know, as gospel, that it had to be run past other people who had direct knowledge of what happened in the room.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: But there are a couple of moments where you say, “He thought to himself,” Bannon thought to himself. That can’t possibly be verified by anybody else.

VICKY WARD: Yeah, it’s a—so, that would have been checked. I mean, that’s not in there without, you know, yes, I would have known. I would have had access to what he thought in those instances, and he is aware of that.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’ll leave it there. At the end, an unnamed source says to you, “Wait until they’re out of power.”

VICKY WARD: Oh, yes.

AMY GOODMAN: “I’ll tell you the real story then.” Vicky Ward, investigative journalist. Her new book is titled Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

To see Part 1 of our discussion, go to democracynow.org. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.


https://www.democracynow.org/2019/3/22/extended_conversation_with_vicky_ward_on

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #81 on: March 24, 2019, 05:47:04 pm »
Beto O’Rourke: Corporate or Progressive Democrat?

March 24, 2019

O’Rourke is a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a caucus with close connections to the finance, insurance and real estate industries; Beto calls himself a progressive Democrat – with Jacqueline Luqman, Norman Solomon and host Paul Jay


https://therealnews.com/stories/beto-orourke-corporate-or-progressive-democrat

Agelbert NOTE: Beto is a stalking horse for the Fossil Fuel Industry. He will lie about EVERYTHING just to get elected. Follow the MONEY that gave this crook all his support and you will see through Mr. O’Rourke's BULLSHIT.

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #82 on: March 30, 2019, 02:07:15 pm »
Sat, 03/30/2019 - 12:02


Quote
Facebook 'accidentally' deleted old posts by CEO Mark Zuckerberg during pivotal periods in the company's history

... " Mark's posts were mistakenly deleted due to technical errors. The work required to restore them would have been extensive and not guaranteed to be successful so we didn't do it

Yeahhhh, restoring files from a back up is extremely cumbersome and thus never done. So ... we truly understand.  

Thankfully, though , the "technical errors" only targeted specific posts and periods in Marky's timeline and not everything ... unlike those "technical errors" that continually take down the entire accounts and histories of anyone who has an independent thought that goes against the establishment or that FB's "independent and wholly objective 🐉🐵👹reviewers🦍😈🐍" deem worthy of extermination.


Quote
People of every culture, religion and ethnicity have believed that Evil exists in some form.  Zuckerberg is a handmaiden to the Anti-Christ or whatever ultimate form of evil you believe in. This dude is seriously bad.

True.


Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

Surly1

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #84 on: June 29, 2019, 09:51:45 pm »
On our way down the drain, at least we'll know our scores. Well, maybe some of them.

Everyone’s Got a “Surveillance Score” and It Can Cost You BIG Money



275 SHARES

By Dagny Taggart

In these Orwellian times, when it is revealed that yet another government agency is spying on us in yet another way, most of us aren’t one bit surprised. Being surveilled nearly everywhere we go (and even in our own homes) has become the norm, unfortunately.

Yesterday, it was revealed that the NSA improperly collected Americans’ call and text logs in November 2017 and in February and October 2018 – just months after the agency claimed it was going to delete the 620 million-plus call detail records it already had stockpiled.

But this article isn’t about that.

It is about something far more insidious.

When it comes to spying on people, the government has competition.

The Chinese government is currently implementing a social credit system to monitor its 1.3 billion citizens (China already has 200 million public surveillance cameras). Facial recognition technology and personal data from cell phones and digital transactions are being used to collect intimate details about people’s lives, including their purchasing habits and whom they socialize with.

The gathered data is used to create mandatory social credit ratings for every citizen. These ratings will score citizens’ “general worthiness” and provide those with higher scores opportunities like access to jobs, loans, and travel. Those with lower scores will not have access to those opportunities.

While the United States government has yet to implement such a system, companies in the country are, reports The Hill:

Consumer advocates are pushing regulators to investigate what they paint as a shadowy online practice where retailers use consumer information collected by data brokers to decide how much to charge individual customers or the quality of service they’ll offer.

#REPRESENT, a public interest group run by the Consumer Education Foundation in California, filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Monday asking the agency to investigate what the group is calling “surveillance scoring” of customers’ financial status or creditworthiness. (source)

Companies are using Secret Surveillance Scores to evaluate you.

The opening paragraphs of the 38-page complaint are chilling:

Major American corporations, including online and retail businesses, employers and landlords are using Secret Surveillance Scores to charge some people higher prices for the same product than others, to provide some people with better customer services than others, to deny some consumers the right to purchase services or buy or return products while allowing others to do so and even to deny people housing and jobs.

The Secret Surveillance Scores are generated by a shadowy group of privacy-busting firms that operate in dark recesses of the American marketplace. They collect thousands or even tens of thousands of intimate details of each person’s life – enough information, it is thought, to literally predetermine a person’s behavior – either directly or through data brokers. Then, in what is euphemistically referred to as “data analytics,” the firms’ engineers write software algorithms that instruct computers to parse a person’s data trail and develop a digital “mug shot.” Eventually, that individual profile is reduced to a number – the score – and transmitted to corporate clients looking for ways to take advantage of, or even avoid, the consumer. The scoring system is automatic and instantaneous. None of this is disclosed to the consumer: the existence of the algorithm, the application of the Surveillance Score or even that they have become the victim of a technological scheme that just a few years ago would appear only in a dystopian science fiction novel. (source)

These scores are used to discriminate based on income.

Written by lawyers Laura Antonini, the policy director of the Consumer Education Foundation, and Harvey Rosenfield, who leads the foundation, the complaint highlights four areas in which companies are using surveillance scoring: pricing, customer service, fraud prevention, and housing and employment.

“This is a way for companies to discriminate against users based on income and wealth,” Antonini told The Hill. “It can range from monetary harm or basic necessities of life that you’re not getting.”

Antonini and Rosenfield argue that the practices outlined in the complaint are illegal – and that consumers are largely unaware that they’re being secretly evaluated in ways that can influence how much they pay online.

“The ability of corporations to target, manipulate and discriminate against Americans is unprecedented and inconsistent with the principles of competition and free markets,” the complaint reads. “Surveillance scoring promotes inequality by empowering companies to decide which consumers they want to do business with and on what terms, weeding out the people who they deem less valuable. Such discrimination is as much a threat to democracy as it is to a free market.”

Stores are using this scoring system to charge you higher prices.

Here’s more detail, from The Hill:

The filing points to a 2014 Northeastern University study exploring the ways that companies like Home Depot and Walmart use consumer data to customize prices for different customers. Rosenfield and Antonini replicated the study using an online tool that compares prices that they’re charged on their own computers with their own data profiles versus the prices charged to a user browsing sites through an anonymized computer server with no data history.

What they found was that Walmart and Home Depot were offering lower prices on a number of products to the anonymous computer. In the search results for “white paint” on Home Depot’s website, Rosenfield and Antonini were seeing higher prices for six of the first 24 items that popped up.

In one example, a five-gallon tub of Glidden premium exterior paint would have cost them $119 compared with $101 for the anonymous computer.

A similar pattern emerged on Walmart’s website. The two lawyers found the site was charging them more on a variety of items compared with the anonymous web tool, including paper towels, highlighters, pens and paint.

One paper towel holder cost $10 less for the blank web user. (source)

To see screenshots of different “personalized” prices shown for items from Home Depot and Walmart, please see pages 12-16 of the complaint. The examples presented demonstrate just how much these inflated prices for common household goods can really add up.

The travel industry is particularly sneaky.

A few days ago, we reported on hidden fees that could be costing you big bucks. The travel industry is a particularly large offender when it comes to sneaky fees, and they are also implicated in this scheme:

Travelocity. Software developer Christian Bennefeld, founder of etracker.com and eBlocker.com, did a sample search for hotel rooms in Paris on Travelocity in 2017 using his eBlocker device, which “allows him to act as if he were searching from two different” computers. Bennefeld found that when he performed the two searches at the same time, there was a $23 difference in Travelocity’s prices for the Hotel Le Six in Paris.

CheapTickets. The Northeastern Price Discrimination Study found that the online bargain travel site CheapTickets offers reduced prices on hotels to consumers who are logged into an account with CheapTickets, compared to those who proceed as “guests.” We performed our own search of airfares on CheapTickets without being logged in. We searched for flights from LAX to Las Vegas for April 5 through April 8, 2019. Our searches produced identical flight results in the same order, but Mr. Rosenfield’s prices were all quoted at three dollars higher than Ms. Antonini’s.

Other travel websites. The Northeastern Price Discrimination Study found that Orbitz also offers reduced prices on hotels to consumers who were logged into an account (Orbitz has been accused of quoting higher prices to Mac users versus PC users because Mac users have a higher household income); Expedia and Hotels.com steer a subset of users toward more expensive hotels; and Priceline acknowledges it “personalizes search results based on a user’s history of clicks and purchases. (source)

There is an industry that exists to evaluate you and sell your data to companies.

The complaint also describes an industry that offers retailers evaluations of their customers’ “trustworthiness” to determine whether they are a potential risk for fraudulent returns. One such firm – called Sift – offers these evaluations to major companies like Starbucks and Airbnb. Sift boasts on its website that it can tailor “user experiences based on 16,000+ real-time signals – putting good customers in the express lane and stopping bad customers from reaching the checkout.”

The Hill contacted Sift for comment, and the company was not able to respond. But, back in April, a Sift spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that it rates customers on a scale of 0 to 100, likening it to a credit score for trustworthiness.

While credit scores can wreak havoc on a person’s ability to make big purchases (and sometimes, gain employment), they at least are transparent. Surveillance scoring is not. There is NO transparency for consumers, and Rosenfield and Antonini argue that companies are using them to engage in illegal discrimination while users have little recourse to correct false information about them or challenge their ratings.

We are being spied on and scored on a wide variety of factors.

“In the World Privacy Forum’s landmark study “The Scoring of America: How Secret Consumer Scores Threaten Your Privacy and Future,” authors Pam Dixon and Bob Gellman identified approximately 44 scores currently used to predict the actions of consumers,” the complaint explains:

These include:

The Medication Adherence Score, which predicts whether a consumer is likely to follow a medication regimen;

The Health Risk Score, which predicts how much a specific patient will cost an insurance company;

The Consumer Profitability Score, which predicts which households may be profitable for a company and hence desirable customers;

The Job Security score, which predicts a person’s future income and ability to pay for things;

The Churn Score, which predicts whether a consumer is likely to move her business to another company;

The Discretionary Spending Index, which scores how much extra cash a particular consumer might be able to spend on non-necessities;

The Invitation to Apply Score, which predicts how likely a consumer is to respond to a sales offer;

The Charitable Donor Score, which predicts how likely a household is to make significant charitable donations;

The Pregnancy Predictor Score, which predicts the likelihood of someone getting pregnant. (source)

The government isn’t doing anything to stop these practices.

Back in 2014, the Federal Trade Commission held a workshop on a practice they call “predictive scoring” but the agency has done little since to reign in the practice. Antonini said that their complaint is pushing the agency to reexamine the industry and investigate whether it violates laws against unfair and deceptive business practices, according to The Hill:

“It’s far, far worse than when they looked at it in 2014,” she said. “There’s an exponentially larger amount of data that’s being collected about the American public that’s in the hands of data brokers and companies. Their ability to process that data and write algorithms have also improved exponentially.” (source)

We seem to be past the point of expecting our data to remain private, The Introduction to the complaint begins with a passage that sums up reality for us now:

This Petition does not ask the Commission to investigate the collection of Americans’ personal information. The battle over whether Americans’ personal data can be collected is over, and, as of this moment at least, consumers have lost. Consumers are now victims of an unavoidable corporate surveillance capitalism.

Rather, this Petition highlights a disturbing evolution in how consumers’ data is deployed against them. (source)

We can’t go anywhere without being surveilled now.

It is now impossible to shop in any large chain stores without being spied on. Stores are starting to use “smart coolers”, which are refrigerators equipped with cameras that scan shoppers’ faces and make inferences on their age and gender. And, a recent article from Futurism describes how security cameras are no longer being used solely to reduce theft:

“Instead of just keeping track of who’s in a store, surveillance systems could use facial recognition to determine peoples’ identities and gathering even more information about them. That data would then be out there, with no opportunity to opt out. (source)

A new ACLU report titled “The Dawn of Robot Surveillance” describes how emerging AI technology enables security companies to constantly monitor and collect data about people.

“Growth in the use and effectiveness of artificial intelligence techniques has been so rapid that people haven’t had time to assimilate a new understanding of what is being done, and what the consequences of data collection and privacy invasions can be,” the report concludes.

What do you think?

Do you think it is too late to stop all of this surveillance? Does it concern you?  Have you noticed surveillance cameras in your community and in stores? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

About the Author

Dagny Taggart is the pseudonym of an experienced journalist who needs to maintain anonymity to keep her job in the public eye. Dagny is non-partisan and aims to expose the half-truths, misrepresentations, and blatant lies of the MSM.


AGelbert

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Why Facebook is so toxic
« Reply #85 on: July 08, 2019, 05:53:47 pm »
Why Facebook is so toxic
It was DESIGNED to be that way  >:(


Interview with Sam Vaknin

The original public Internet has a completely different character. Zuckerberg and company deliberately introduced psychologically toxic elements into its design to encourage "engagement" to generate maximum page views and advertising.

What it really did was empower 👹 psychopaths.

The complete interview is here. Pretty profound and worth a look:


http://www.nextworldtv.com/videos/health-and-wellness/why-facebook-is-so-toxic.html

Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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Re: Corporate Mendacity and Duplicity
« Reply #86 on: August 07, 2019, 02:46:53 pm »


Coca-Cola Wants to Add This to Sodas, Are They Serious?

It's nothing short of a hoax, as it will do absolutely nothing to change the detrimental impact of its beverages. Plus, the latest 'functional junk food' fad used to give the sweet stuff an aura of healthiness - where will the smoke and mirrors end?

Full article:



Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

AGelbert

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For Decades, Polluters Knew PFAS Chemicals Were Dangerous But Hid Risks From Public  >:(

As far back as 1950, studies conducted by 3M showed that the family of toxic fluorinated chemicals now known as PFAS could build up in our blood. By the 1960s, animal studies conducted by 3M and DuPont revealed that PFAS chemicals could pose health risks. But the companies kept the studies secret from their employees and the public for decades. Here is a timeline of internal memos, studies and other company documents detailing the two companies’ history of deception.

View Timeline of Corporate  Deception:   
Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. Pr. 13:12

 

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