The OB Media Rundown for 5/20/12

Voters in Franklin County, MA, oppose corporate personhood

The Occupy Wall Street movement may have garnered plenty of media attention last year, but it’s in town halls that the grass-roots movement has paid off this spring: Half of Franklin County’s 26 towns have either voted to reject the U.S. Supreme Court’s giving corporations the same rights as people or are scheduled to do so.

The town meeting votes in 11 Franklin County towns, together with similar actions in nearby Amherst and Northampton, plus Boston and Worcester, are among resolutions by 55 Massachusetts communities supporting a U.S. Constitutional amendment.

Votes in Charlemont and Wendell next week will complete the list of 13 towns that have considered the corporate non-citizenship articles being considered as a result of coordination by a group of volunteers that grew out of Occupy Franklin County meetings this winter.

[For news on the thousands of Occupy protesters in Chicago at the NATO summit, see the Daily Digest, which will be published in the morning]

Amendment to legalize use of military propaganda on American audiences inserted into latest Defense funding bill

An amendment that would legalize the use of propaganda on American audiences is being inserted into the latest defense authorization bill. The amendment would “strike the current ban on domestic dissemination” of propaganda material produced by the State Department and the Pentagon, according to the summary of the law at the House Rules Committee’s official website.

The tweak to the bill would essentially neutralize two previous acts-the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948 and Foreign Relations Authorization Act in 1987-that had been passed to protect U.S. audiences from our own government’s misinformation campaigns.

The bi-partisan amendment is sponsored by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

Human Moral Weakness and its consequences

The rule today is that you break the law if breaking the law maximizes profits and you won’t go to jail as a result. Fines are considered a cost of doing business, the legality or illegality is irrelevant.

This flows from the very top of our society. It is how our CEOs and executives think, and as our politicians and prosecutors refuse to investigate or charge those who are guilty of widespread fraud, it is clearly how our political and legal class thinks.

Authority, in other words, says that it’s all right to do illegal and immoral things in pursuit of profit.

Well, so long as you’re told to do so by someone important.

Two ways of framing a financial trading choice

The first way is in the pseudo scientific language of finance. “An optimal trading strategy will be to go short on Greek and Spanish government bonds to exploit a high likelihood of sell off and debt restructuring which will keep portfolio returns well above inflation going forward.”

Or consider the same thing expressed this way: “If we sell off Greek and Spanish government bonds it will push Greek pensioners into poverty, cause deep harm to the social fabric, lead to destabilising political unrest and threaten the stability of the world financial system.” The first way of framing the choice is treating the financial strategy as a way of dealing with a machine; the language has nothing to do with people. The second way of framing it is moral: starting with the effects on people.

Make the Choice: Wall Street or Society

The liberal reformers are once again talking about tinkering with Wall Street’s economic and political stranglehold on society. “The reformist debate accepts the inevitability of private capital as the engine of economic – and, therefore, social – development.” The truth is, Wall Street needs derivatives to generate the “windfalls and mega-scores to keep the decaying system going.” But, does society need Wall Street? Hell no!

Left-liberals are in a huff, demanding another shot at reforming finance capital, perhaps through “breaking up” the five (or maybe, 20) biggest banks. They might as well prescribe a regimen of behavioral modification to fight Stage IV cancer.

CDC lowers lead-poisoning threshold for kids as feds, states cut funds

The number of children considered at risk of lead poisoning jumped by more than five-fold on Wednesday, as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lowered its threshold for the diagnosis.

Children’s health advocates applauded the decision, but also expressed concern that recent congressional budget cuts will drastically limit funds that could help affected kids and prevent further poisoning.

Running from climate change may trip up some species, study says

As climate change transforms their habitat, some animals are already on the move. But a new analysis from the University of Washington warns that many species won’t be able to run fast enough to survive a warming world.

On average, about 9 percent of the Western Hemisphere’s mammals migrate too slowly to keep pace with the rapid climate shifts expected over the next century, says the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In some areas, including parts of the Appalachian Mountains and the Amazon basin, nearly 40 percent of mammals may be unable to reach safe haven in time.

Thousands March Against Austerity in Frankfurt

Thousands of people on Saturday marched through the heart of Frankfurt, Germany’s financial capital and the home of the European Central Bank, to protest against unchecked capitalism and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s insistence on austerity measures for much of Europe.

The peaceful event, called Blockupy, in a nod to the Occupy movement, was the culmination of four days of demonstrations and drew about 20,000 protesters to Frankfurt, the police and organizers said.

The protest, which drew supporters from across Europe, was meant to send a “clear and visible signal of international solidarity against the authoritarian crisis management and the poverty inducing policies of the European Union, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund,” organizers said.

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