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Forum Post: The Real Web of America's Economic Life

Posted 5 months ago on Nov. 13, 2013, 3:38 p.m. EST by LeoYo (4891)
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The Real Web of America's Economic Life

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 14:30 By The Daily Take, The Thom Hartmann Program | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20025-the-real-web-of-americas-economic-life

There isn't much diversity in America's economic web of life.

An image that was first posted on Reddit last year, and was recently grabbed by the folks over at PolicyMic, shows just how out-of-control corporate America has become in the years since Ronald Reagan stopped enforcing the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Right now, there are 10 giant corporations that control, either directly or indirectly, virtually everything we buy.

These corporations are Kraft, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Proctor and Gamble, General Mills, Kellogg's, Mars, Unilever, and Johnson & Johnson.

These 10 corporations in turn own, market, or distribute what people think of as the products of hundreds of other companies.

For example, Proctor and Gamble is best known for its cleaning and personal hygiene products, like Tide detergent, Ivory hand soap and Joy dishwashing liquid.

But the company also owns or markets other products, from IAMS dog food and Pepto-Bismol to Duracell batteries and Metamucil. Then there's Mars, the giant candy conglomerate responsible for Snickers bars, M&M's and other sweet treats.

But did you know that Mars also owns or markets Pedigree dog food, Whiskas cat food and Uncle Ben's rice?

Finally, there's Nestlé.

Many American consumers know Nestlé for its Nescafé espresso, Nestlé ice cream or Nesquick chocolate milk.

But this coffee and chocolate milk manufacturer also owns or helps market Purina dog and cat food, Gerber baby food, Ralph Lauren cologne, and Garnier hair care products.

These giant corporations essentially have a stranglehold on America's consumer market.

But there's a bigger and even more disturbing picture here: many of these corporations are inter-locked and connected themselves. Over at TheyRule.net, you can track and discover the connections between America's largest corporations.

For example, according to TheyRule.net's most recent information, PepsiCo has a board member who serves on the board of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, alongside a board member who serves on the board of the Kellogg Company.

And, Johnson & Johnson has a board member who serves on the board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, with a board member of Coca-Cola.

But it wasn't always like this.

Believe it or not, there was a time when there was plenty of competition in the American marketplace, when one corporation didn't own 200 other companies, and when the nation's largest corporations weren't inter-locked.

The Sherman Ant-Trust Act was passed back in 1890.

In its prime, the law prevented businesses from overwhelming competition in the marketplace, and even required the federal government to investigate any company that tried to monopolize an industry.

The Sherman Act worked well for nearly 100 years. But then everything changed.

When Ronald Reagan became president, the Sherman Anti-Trust Act became a thing of the past.

The break-up of AT&T, completed by Jimmy Carter, was its last gasp. As a result, all across America, local businesses were run out of business, as giant corporations took over Main Street and dominated industry after industry.

Giant megastores like Wal-Mart and Target replaced local convenience and hardware stores, while local diners and burger joints were replaced by the likes of Burger King and McDonalds. Big companies got bigger and bigger, to the point where today, 10 corporations control almost everything we buy.

This is not good for our economy, and it's not good for our democracy.

When corporations have all of the power, you and I have no say in the American democracy.

Ecosystems that are broad and diverse are resilient while those that are narrow and unbalanced are fragile, and it's the same with economies.

It's time to bring diversity back to America's economic web of life, and we can do that by bringing back the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, so competition can return to the American marketplace.

This article was first published on Truthout and any reprint or reproduction on any other website must acknowledge Truthout as the original site of publication.

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[-] 4 points by beautifulworld (20506) 5 months ago

Capitalism needs to be reigned in with lots of checks and balances, or thrown out altogether, because it doesn't work. It's deleterious to the health and happiness of the masses.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4891) 5 months ago

US Military, Monsanto Targeting GMO Activists and Independent Scientists, New Investigation Alleges

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 10:52 By Sayer Ji, Green Med Info | Report

http://truth-out.org/news/item/20014-us-military-monsanto-targeting-gmo-activists-and-independent-scientists-new-investigation-alleges

A highly concerning new investigative report from the largest daily newspaper in Germany alleges that Monsanto, the US Military and the US government have colluded to track and disrupt both anti-GMOactivists and independent scientists who study the adverse effects of genetically modified food.

As revealed yesterday by Sustainable Pulse, on July 13th the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung detailed information on how the US Government "advances the interests of their corporations," focusing on Monsanto as a prime example. The report titled, "The Sinister Monsanto Group: 'Agent Orange' to Genetically Modified Corn," described a 'new fangled cyber war' being waged against both eco-activists and independent scientists by supporters and former employees of Monsanto, who are described as "operationally powerful assistants" and who have taken up sometimes high ranking posts in the US administration, regulatory authorities, and some of whom have connections deep within the military industrial establishment, including the CIA.

"Monsanto contacts are known to the notorious former secret service agent Joseph Cofer Black, who helped formulate the law of the jungle in the fight against terrorists and other enemies. He is a specialist on dirty work, a total hardliner. He worked for the CIA for almost three decades, among other things as the head of anti-terroism. He later became vice president of the private security company Blackwater, which sent tens of thousands of soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan under US government orders."

"Thanks to Snowden and Wikileaks, the world has a new idea of how these friends and partners operate where power and money are concerned. The whistle-blowing platform published embassy dispatches two years ago, which also included details about Monsanto and genetic engineering."

"For example, in 2007, the former US ambassador in Paris, Craig Stapleton, suggested the US government should create a penalties list for EU states which wanted to forbid the cultivation of genetically engineered plants from American companies. The wording of the secret dispatch: "Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU." Pain, retaliation: not exactly the language of diplomacy."

The report details the case of Australian scientist Judy Carman, whose work on GMOs underwent heavy criticism by Monsanto supporters. Soon sites that published her work were attacked by hackers with apparent military connections:

Hackers regularly target various web pages where Carman publishes her studies and the sites are also systematically observed, at least that is the impression Carman has.Evaluations of IP log files show that not only Monsanto visits the pages regularly, but also various organizations of the U.S. government, including the military. These include the Navy Network Information Center, the Federal Aviation Administration and the United States Army Intelligence Center, an institution of the US Army, which trains soldiers with information gathering.Monsanto's interest in the studies is understandable, even for Carman. "But I do not understand why the U.S. government and the military are having me observed," she says.

The report went on to describe the ongoing though mostly failed crusade of the United States, seemingly on behalf of Monsanto, to open up the European Union's markets to genetically engineered food and feed crops. According to the report:

"The USA is hoping that negotiations started this week for a free-trade agreement between the USA and the EU will also open the markets for genetic engineering."

"The Americans want to use the Free Trade Agreement to open the European GMO Market. The negotiations will be detailed. Toughness will rule the day. US President Barack Obama has therefore appointed Islam Siddiqui as chief negotiator for agriculture. He has worked for many years for the US ministry of agriculture as an expert. However, hardly anyone in Europe knows: From 2001 to 2008, he represented CropLife America as a registered lobbyist. CropLife America is an important industry association in the United States, representing the interests of pesticide and gene technology manufacturers – including of course Monsanto. "Actually, the EU cannot accept such a chief negotiator because of bias", says Manfred Hausling, who represents the Green Party in the EU parliament.

If this report is accurate, we can assume that Monsanto has so thoroughly populated both the government and military industrial complex with its own supporters that any remaining illusion of there being a division of Corporation and State has now been dispelled. Worse, we are bearing witness to the preeminence of the Corporation over State, the very definition of a corpocracy.

This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license.

[-] 4 points by Renneye (3166) 5 months ago

Thanks Leo. I'm cross-posting this one to 'gnomunny's' GMO & Monsanto post as well...to share information even further.

Troubling indeed. We need to keep up the pressure with global protests 'en masse', so that individual activists aren't bearing the brunt of persecution by themselves, and to dilute the efforts of Monsanto and the authorities.

People absolutely have the right to have choices about what they ingest.

http://occupywallst.org/forum/monsanto-everthing-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-g/

[-] 3 points by LeoYo (4891) 5 months ago

GMOs for Profit: The Missing Context of Industrial Agriculture

Thursday, 14 November 2013 00:00 By Curt Ries, Truthout | Op-Ed

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19997-gmos-for-profit-the-missing-context-of-industrial-agriculture

It is not what GMOs are that should demand so much attention but, rather, what they do: They lead to corporate control over the food system.

An editorial in Science from September 2013 has come out in strong defense of GMO biotechnology, criticizing the destruction of experimental GM Golden Rice fields in the Philippines by protesters, or "vandals." Since then, the blogosphere has erupted with condemners and defenders once again accusing each other of ascribing to bad science, being ideologically driven and profiteering from their respective movements.

But while the narrow debate rages on about the inherent safety or harm of GMOs to humans and the environment, the more fundamental issue of the specific role GMOs play within the greater context of a globalized and industrial agriculture is left without comment.

The editorial, titled "Standing Up for GMOs," is sponsored by 11 scientists and focuses on the potential utility of Golden Rice, ultimately using it to portray GMO technology in general as a valuable tool that society should use because of its "potential to save millions of impoverished fellow humans from needless suffering and death."

This type of narrow analysis, focusing almost singularly on the dormant ability of GM crops to feed and nutritionally supplement the world's growing population is astoundingly selective and therefore significantly misleading. It is a far cry from seeing how GMO technology actually functions within the broader framework of industrial agriculture, a model of production that is completely focused on profits, efficiency and yields, rather than the health of people and places.

Ignorance of this broader framework is revealed in the editorial when its writers claim that "precisely because they benefit farmers, the environment, and consumers, GM crops have been adopted faster than any other agricultural advance in the history of humanity." Although it is certainly true that GM crops have been "adopted" rapidly the world over in recent decades, it is a mistake and a deception to claim that this is because of supposed benefits to farmers, consumers or the environment. A look at the general characteristics and history of agriculture in the past half century quickly sets the record straight.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4891) 5 months ago

Why Iran Nuclear Talks Failed and Why They Will Get Tougher

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 10:15 By Gareth Porter, Truthout | News

http://truth-out.org/news/item/19998-why-the-nuclear-talks-failed-and-why-they-will-get-tougher

The chance for a first preliminary agreement between Iran and the six powers (US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China) to resolve the decade-long conflict over Iran's nuclear program was lost during the weekend because of a deliberate French policy of preventing agreement at the behest of Israel and the Obama administration's lack of commitment to reaching a comprehensive settlement of the issue.

Those two major reasons for the breakdown of the negotiations without agreement reveal just how fragile the diplomacy surrounding the Iran nuclear question is and how close it is to falling into serious stalemate. Moreover, the remarks by Secretary of State John Kerry about the episode, far from assuaging Iranian doubts, are likely to create new doubts about the Obama administration's commitment to a comprehensive solution to the issue.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (4891) 5 months ago

Armed Drones Becoming the Norm? At the Crossroads of Robotic Warfare

Wednesday, 13 November 2013 11:33 By Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, Truthout | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/20008-armed-drones-becoming-the-norm-at-the-crossroads-of-robotic-warfare

We are at a critical crossroads in this new era of robotic warfare. In the global war on terror, remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles, also called drones, make it possible to strike almost anywhere from the comfort of a base close to home. The use of drones has been escalating under the Obama Administration and now includes attacks in countries with which the United States is not officially at war. Drones are expected to be used widely in the United States beginning as early as 2015.

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