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Sat, 03 Dec 2022
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Wal-Mart Is Not a Person

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© Unknown
The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.

- John Stuart Mill
In 2003, after my book Unequal Protection was first published, I gave a talk at one of the larger law schools in Vermont. Around 300 people showed up, mostly students, with a few dozen faculty and some local lawyers. I started by asking, "Please raise your hand if you know that in 1886, in the Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad case, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations are persons and therefore entitled to rights under the Constitution and the Bill of Rights."

Almost everyone in the room raised their hand, and the few who didn't probably were new enough to the law that they hadn't gotten to study that case yet. Nobody questioned the basic premise of the statement.

And all of them were wrong.

We the People are the first three words of the Preamble to the Constitution; and from its adoption until the Robber Baron Era in the late nineteenth century, people meant human beings. In the 1886 Santa Clara case, however, the court reporter of the Supreme Court proclaimed in a "headnote" - a summary or statement added at the top of the court decision, which is separate from the decision and has no legal force whatsoever - that the word person in law and, particularly, in the Constitution, meant both humans and corporations.

Thus began in a big way (it actually started a half century earlier in a much smaller way with a case involving Dartmouth University) the corruption of American democracy and the shift, over the 125 years since then, to our modern corporate oligarchy.

Info

Vitamin D, Fluoride, and Vaccines: The Common Theme

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© Alliance for Natural Health
If government is going to act as a scientific arbiter, it needs to have clean hands. That means getting private commercial interests out of the decision-making process.

In this week's vitamin D update, we discussed the glaring conflict of interest in the recent IOM report on vitamin D. Unfortunately this is not an isolated case. Consider also the recent fluoride debacle.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls fluoride in drinking water "one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th century," except earlier this month they stated that the levels they previously mandated are too high, and HHS and EPA are taking steps to prevent excessive exposure to it. Children's teeth are getting pitted and turning black or brown from dental fluorosis. An increasing number of scientists and health professionals argue that fluoride exposure has a negative impact on the whole body, including joint pain, hypothyroidism, kidney and liver damage, and the possibility of bone cancer.

Alarm Clock

2011 Financial Meltdown Fast Approaching

dollar burning
© Unknown
Despite the best efforts by the American mainstream financial media, the eager PR division of the United States Dollar Ponzi Scheme, to paint the rosiest of rosy pictures for blindly optimistic readers, the stubborn image of a debt-swollen jobless behemoth economy slowly toppling persists. No matter how much U.S. departmental data is primped, polished, and primed, no amount of lipstick is going to transform this fat pig into a princess.

This week's top harbinger headline points to the fact that the United States is once again bumping its fat head on the ceiling of its spectacularly stratospheric debt ceiling of $14.3 TRILLION dollars. That means an act of congress is once again necessary to lift that limit. The alternative is either a) a revaluation of the U.S. Dollar to reflect the depreciation inherent in Quantitative Sleazing as part of a debt restructuring, or b) default.

Default? Could it be?

Never, according to bright-eyed Harvard educated economists and Forexperts.
"The likelihood of a restructuring of US sovereign debt is zero," says MF global currency and fixed income analyst Jessica Hoversen. "As for a downgrade, while it's theoretically possible, it is still extraordinarily unlikely."
Well that's one opinion.

Display

White House Plans to Launch Internet ID System, Further Eroding Civil and Political Rights

big brother graphic
© n/a
Urged by one and all to "tone down" what media pundits and political elites describe as "strident," even "violent" rhetoric that has "poisoned" our "national conversation" and "sharply polarized" the population, the shooting rampage in Tucson which claimed six lives, including that of a nine-year-old girl is, in fact, emblematic of the moral bankruptcy and utter hypocrisy of those selfsame capitalist elites.

Faced with an unprecedented economic crisis that has destroyed the lives of tens of millions our fellow citizens, not to mention aggressive wars which have cratered entire societies and murdered hundreds of thousands of people who have done us no harm, when, pray tell, will the "conversation" turn to the unprecedented annihilation of democratic institutions and the rule of law which exonerates, even celebrates, those who murder, maim and torture on an industrial scale?

Just last week, the Obama administration announced plans to roll-out an "identity ecosystem" for the internet. Although passed over in silence by major media, at the risk of being accused of "incivility," particularly when it comes to the "hope" fraudster and war criminal in the Oval Office, Americans need to focus--sharply--on the militarists, political bag men and corporate gangsters working to bring George Orwell's dystopian world one step closer to reality.

Sherlock

Wikileaks: 'Galileo Boss' Fired Over Cable Row

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© OHB/A. Klein
The Galileo contract was a major prize for OHB-System and the UK's SSTL company
The chief executive of one of Germany's leading space companies has lost his job because of the Wikileaks saga.

OHB-System's Berry Smutny was reported in a cable to have told US diplomats that Europe's Galileo satellite-navigation project was a "stupid idea".

Bremen-based OHB-System is part of the consortium that will build Galileo's first 14 operational spacecraft.

Although Mr Smutny has denied the cable's contents, OHB's board has decided to remove him from his post.

A company spokesman told BBC News that Mr Smutny had left OHB-System with immediate effect.

A statement from OHB-System on Monday said its supervisory board had "passed a unanimous resolution to revoke Mr Smutny's appointment", adding that it "disapproves these conversations and the quotes attributed to Mr Smutny".
Controversial project

Berry Smutny was alleged to have told diplomats at a meeting in Berlin in October 2009 that Galileo, a flagship space programme of the EU, was a waste of taxpayers' money.

The cable, which was published by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten last Thursday, quoted the OHB-System chief as saying, "I think Galileo is a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests", and, in particular, French military interests.

Handcuffs

Tony Blair "Misled" Commons Over Legal Advice on War in Iraq

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© AP Photo
Tony Blair will give evidence before the Chilcot inquiry again on Friday
Tony Blair misled Parliament by claiming that Britain could legally attack Iraq in the face of United Nations opposition despite being given clear advice to the contrary, new evidence suggests.

In evidence to the Iraq inquiry, Lord Goldsmith, who at the time was the government's top legal adviser, disclosed that he was "uncomfortable" about statements made by the then-prime minister in the run up to the 2003 invasion.

Two months before the war began, in a meeting at No 10, the former attorney general told Mr Blair that war would not be legal without a fresh mandate from the UN.

In a statement to MPs the following day, however, the Labour prime minister said that there were "circumstances" in which an attack could be valid.

The following month, he gave an interview in which he suggested that war would be legal if another nation had made an "unreasonable" veto at the UN on military action.

A witness statement to the Chilcot Inquiry into the war, published today, makes clear that Lord Goldsmith considered that this did not accord with the advice he had given Mr Blair.

Vader

Food "Safety" Bill Empowers Monsanto To Control Food Industry

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Monsanto to enforce food regulation.
Under the guise of protecting Americans from food-borne illnesses, Congress has passed the S510 Food Safety Act, granting unlimited power to the FDA to oversee the processing of food from farm to table. The FDA has led the public to believe over a number of years that we desperately need government protection from food-borne illnesses. As a result of this manipulation, the S510 Food Safety has been passed without opposition. Ironically, the regulatory actions made possible by this bill will only promote the type of farming that produces food borne illnesses.

The S510 Food Safety Act will regulate the entire process of food production from every source in the United States. Farms must submit to government inspections and have safety documentation on record for 2 years. This documentation must be made promptly available upon oral or written request by an FDA agent. Farms are responsible for the fees associated with their own inspections. The FDA will also oversee food transportation within the United States; food imported from other countries will not be regulated but must simply carry a guarantee of safety by the exporting country. This imbalance in addition to the bill-related costs imposed on farmers will cause prices of locally produced food to increase exponentially.

USA

Ike Was Right All Along: The Danger of the Military-Industrial Complex

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© AP Photo
General warning: Eisenhower warned of the danger of the 'military-industrial complex'
Fifty years ago, President Eisenhower warned of the danger of the 'military-industrial complex'. The huge budget and reach of America's modern defence industry has proved him correct.

If you doubt, half a century on, that Dwight Eisenhower had it right, then consider the advertisements on WTOP, the Washington region's all-news radio station. Every big metro area in the US has one, where car dealerships tout their bargains, and fast food chains promote a new special offer.

WTOP has all that. But it boasts other advertisers too, with names such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics.

Of course, the average listener can't remotely afford a brand new military aircraft, or a state-of-the-art battlefield management system. But that's not the point. These almost otherworldly ads, with patriotic music playing softly in the background, are aimed at a very restricted audience: the government that is their only customer for such wares. For the rest of us, they are proof that in the capital of the world's richest democracy, the defence industry is a very big player indeed.

Exactly 50 years ago, on January 17 1961, Eisenhower delivered one of the most celebrated farewell speeches in American history, whose fame has only increased over the decades, eclipsed not even by JFK's inspirational inaugural that followed three days later. Kennedy might have projected the dynamism of youth. But the old soldier won the prize for prescience.

In his speech, Eisenhower warned about the growth of a 'military-industrial complex,' and the risks it could pose. "The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power," Ike said, "exists and will persist." His anxieties back then were prompted by the ten-fold expansion of the US military after two world wars, and by the development of a "permanent arms industry of vast proportions". Today, the proportions of both the military and the industry that serves it are vaster than ever.

Handcuffs

Berlusconi's Harem of 14 Women Revealed

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© European Pressphoto Agency
Pimp: Berlusconi is accused of paying for sex with Karima El Mahroug when she was 17
Italy's Prime Minister has bounced back from countless scandals, but the latest allegations may prove disastrous

Silvio Berlusconi maintained at least 14 glamorous young women in apartments in a gated complex outside Milan, leaks from prosecutors in the city revealed yesterday. They lived rent-free in the estate and were given large sums of cash by the billionaire politician in return for sex.

Milano Due was one of the first gated housing estates in Italy, a sprawling complex of flats set in landscaped gardens, built by Mr Berlusconi himself in the 1970s when he was a thrusting young property developer. With underground parking, a supermarket, bars and other facilities, it is one of the most fashionable addresses in the Milan hinterland. When he moved into television, Mr Berlusconi located the headquarters of Mediaset, his television company, here.

But in his declining years the estate has also become the headquarters of what is, in effect, his harem, it is alleged. Its presence was revealed by Corriere della Sera newspaper yesterday in yet another blow to the battered image of the Prime Minister as he prepares to defend himself against what could be the gravest crisis of his political career. Prosecutors in Milan are demanding that he be put on trial immediately for having sex with an underage prostitute.

The existence of the flats was revealed by Karima El Mahroug, a teenage belly-dancer from Morocco who trades under the name of Ruby Rubacuori, "Ruby heart-stealer". She ruined Mr Berlusconi's summer last year when it emerged that he had contrived to have her sprung from police custody after she was suspected of theft. He told police they were actually holding the granddaughter of President Mubarak of Egypt. As a prosecutor in Milan remarked subsequently: "If she's Mubarak's granddaughter, I'm Queen Nefertiti."

Radar

Swiss find signs of illegal US surveillance

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© Agence France-Presse/File
The US flag flies above the Capitol building in Washington. Switzerland has found signs that the US embassy in Geneva has been conducting illegal surveillance on Swiss territory, the justice ministry told AFP, confirming local press reports.
Geneva - Bern has found signs that the US embassy in Geneva has been conducting illegal surveillance on Swiss territory, the justice ministry told AFP Sunday, confirming local press reports.

The Swiss government had in 2007 rejected requests made by the US missions in Bern and Geneva to protect their buildings through a surveillance programme "due to a lack of legal basis and bilateral accords on this domain," the ministry said in a statement.

However, it emerged late last year that US embassies in Norway and Denmark had been conducting similar programmes.

Following the disclosures in Scandinavia, "Swiss authorities have found, during last autumn, indications showing that such a programme is ongoing at the US mission in Geneva."