By Richard Eskow
Scandal-tainted megabank JPMorgan Chase is losing legal ground in the wake of its multi-year crime wave (if the term “crime wave” seems harsh, we invite you to review the evidence here, here, and here.) But in the wake of its tentative $13 billion settlement with the federal government, it may be on the verge of winning at least one battle – in the court of public opinion.
By Dan Bacher
A new report released by the American Lung Association reveals that the oil industry lobby, the biggest corporate lobby in California, has spent $45.4 million in the state since 2009.
The report was unveiled at a crucial time in California environmental politics - just a couple of weeks after Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 4, the green light to fracking bill, and less than 10 months after a network of so-called "marine protected areas" created under the "leadership" of a big oil industry lobbyist and other corporate operatives was completed on the California coast.
By Derek Pugh
A new report from researchers at the University of California at Berkeley estimates that low-wage jobs in the fast-food sector are costing American taxpayers nearly $7 billion every year.
The report—Fast Food, Poverty Wages: The Public Cost of Low-Wage Jobs in the Fast Food Industry—highlights the negative effects low-wage jobs have on the American economy and public. Workers in the fast-food industry are subjected to low pay with no benefits, forcing them to rely on public assistance programs to survive. The median worker is paid a mere $8.69 an hour, with many making at or near the minimum wage, and 87 percent do not receive health insurance through their employer.
By Norman Solomon
Google Inc. is now aligned with the notorious ALEC.
Quietly, Google has joined ALEC -- the American Legislative Exchange Council -- the shadowy corporate alliance that pushes odious laws through state legislatures.
In the process, Google has signed onto an organization that promotes such regressive measures as tax cuts for tobacco companies, school privatization to help for-profit education firms, repeal of state taxes for the wealthy and opposition to renewable energy disliked by oil companies.
ALEC’s reactionary efforts -- thoroughly documented by the Center for Media and Democracy -- are shameful assaults on democratic principles. And Google is now among the hundreds of companies in ALEC. Many people who’ve admired Google are now wondering: how could this be?
By Bruce Pomer
Health Officers Association of California
Vaccines are one of the greatest and most successful tools ever developed for preventing disease and protecting public health. Governor Brown and the California Department of Public Health, however, are on the verge of taking action that could violate California law, undermine the statewide effort to get more children immunized and threaten the health of all California communities.
California, like every other state, requires school-age children to obtain various vaccinations against childhood diseases. However, California also currently has a mechanism called a “personal belief exemption,” or PBE, that allows parents to opt their children out of mandatory vaccines simply by printing out a form and signing it.
By Steve Mikulan
Frying Pan News
The U.S. Supreme Court's new term, which began yesterday, could spell a world of hurt for working Americans. People who believe this aren't simply looking at worst-case scenarios -- in which, say, the conservative majority sides on every point with plaintiffs represented by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. No, their view rests on the conservatives' well-established penchant for producing rulings that go far beyond the original cases before the justices - rulings that make laws that didn't previously exist, grant awards that weren't sought and answer briefs that were never filed.
By Donald Cohen
In the Public Interest
Across the nation, private companies are looking to take over public services. A legislative battle in Sacramento over a bill to privatize state trial courts epitomizes the promises and pitfalls of privatization.
Assembly Bill 566 (Wieckowski) would require that before contracting services out, courts must provide proof of cost savings, create employment standards, engage in a competitive bidding process, and undergo regular financial and performance audits bill sits on the governor's desk for signature or veto and the lobbying is intense.
By Isaiah J. Poole
David Sirota, the author of the Institute for America's Future report on "The Plot Against Pensions" that detailed the right-wing collaboration to dismantle public pension programs around the country, is now reporting in Salon that "the Enron billionaire whose former company wrecked the Golden State's economy appears to be using a shadowy Texas front group to now try to loot the Golden State's public pension system."
By Dan Bacher
A national environmental group on October 3 accused the federal government of violating a key national environmental law by allowing offshore fracking (hydraulic fracturing) in waters off California’s coast without analyzing the risks to human health and endangered marine species.
The Center for Biological Diversity filed a notice letter with two federal agencies in charge of regulating offshore oil development, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. The group plans legal action if the government fails to act.
By Amy DePaul
It seemed fitting that the federal government closure - staged in the name of defeating the unpopular reforms of the Affordable Care Act - began on the same day that the ACA's new insurance exchange drew an overwhelmingly eager response from the American public.
"A ton of people are excited to enroll," enthused Sarah Sol, information officer at Covered Cal. "Needless to say, we're thrilled with this strong consumer response."
As Stephen Colbert said in characteristic faux Republican, "Too many people signing up is always the surest sign that nobody wants it."