Russell Brand: ‘The Reason Fox News Can’t Talk About Mental Illness Is Because Fox News Causes It’

Fox’s coverage of Germanwings crash, just as ignorant as you’d expect!

Photo Credit: via YouTube

On the latest episode of The Trews, British comedian and activist Russell Brand discussed the crash of a Germanwings plane and the media’s rush to blame it on the suicidal captain.

He engages in a dialogue with a Neil Cavuto monologue in which the Fox News host speculates about the pilot’s motivations.

“In a way,” Brand says, “this is the perfect Fox News story, because there’s no way of knowing for certain what were the motivations — and in that gap of ignorance, there’s room for tremendous fear and great propaganda.”

After Cavuto links the pilot’s actions to ISIS fighters and Adolf Hitler, about whom Brand says, “you know, some work’s been done on the subject of Hitler, and it turns out that at that anti-Semitism was widespread and German nationalism was on the rise because of social and economic conditions.”

“So in a way, Adolf Hitler is a good example — one lone madman cannot personally be responsible for a genocide. He requires the correct conditions, and the correct conditions were created as a result of the First World War, widespread anti-Semitism across Europe.”

After discussing at length how much Fox News benefits from having a Hitler-like figure to blame in order to avoid having to address the larger social conditions that make such a person possible, Brand addresses how convenient it is for Fox to be able to pin responsibility for atrocities on mental illness.

“If you try to think,” Brand says, “‘Why did this nutty pilot nuttily crash his plane into a mountain?’ then it’s really hard to come up with answers, let alone solutions.” He then discusses how suicide is now the biggest killer of young men in Britain, and how half of Americans have dealt with a serious bout of mental illness.

“Why are we living in a time of a mental illness plague?” Brand asks, then answers his own question, saying “the reason Fox News can’t be honest about what causes mental illness is because Fox News is what causes mental illness.”

“Fox News is the propaganda machine of modern capitalism that tells us that the way to solve our problems is through purchasing and buying things — by identifying ourselves with our roles as consumers, and not as participants or members of society.”

Watch the entire episode of The Trews below via YouTube.

 

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When Being Pro-Palestinian and Pro-Israeli Is the Same Thing

On why I painted physician, author, and peace activist Alice Rothchild

rothschild.jpgPortrait of Alice Rothschild by Robert Shetterly. (Credit: AmericansWhoTelltheTruth.org)

Editor’s note: The artist’s essay that follows accompanies the ‘online unveiling’—exclusive to Common Dreams—of Shetterly’s latest painting in his “Americans Who Tell the Truth” portrait series, presenting citizens throughout U.S. history who have courageously engaged in the social, environmental, or economic issues of their time. This painting of Alice Rothschild—a physician, author, filmmaker, and peace activist—is his latest portrait of those who dedicated their lives to equality, freedom and justice. Posters of this portrait and others are now available at the artist’s website.

I found that for many, publicly stating that Jews could be victimizers as well as victims, and that Palestinians are equally human and deeply hurting, is unthinkable and a betrayal of Jewish loyalty and identity. This Jewish denial combined with the increasing brutality of the Israeli occupation is made possible by keeping Palestinians invisible as fellow human beings. —Dr. Alice Rothchild

For making statements like the quote above, Alice Rothchild has been called a self-hating Jew. When non-Jews express similar thoughts, they are often called anti-Semitic. Both epithets are meant to intimidate the speakers from naming the brutal truth of the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the truth of the history that lead to that occupation. Unless we name those truths, we are being complicit not only with the destruction of Palestine but also of Israel.

The reality of anti-Semitism’s long and sinister history should not forbid criticism of Israel’s illegal or unjust policies. Dr. Rothchild emphasizes that for Israel to insist on its right to perpetrate injustice against the Palestinians is to encourage the very anti-Semitism and hatred that endangers Israel.

Dr. Rothchild approaches the Israel/ Palestine conflict with compassion for both sides, knowing that both peoples have suffered great trauma, and also knowing that truth and justice are the the only means to ultimately heal the trauma and make peace possible.

She wants human rights for both sides and the freedom to live lives based in justice, not fear: “We believe that for Israelis to be safe and secure, Palestinians need to be safe and secure, that to be ‘pro-Palestinian’ or ‘pro-Israeli’ is an artificial distinction.”

Alice feels compelled to speak out as a human being who cares about justice anywhere, as a Jewish person, and as an American because the US has for so long enabled the occupation.

Alice Rothchild was born in Boston in 1948, the same year as the founding of Israel, a time celebrated by Jewish people all over the worldtheir return to the Promised Land. 1948 is, however, commemorated as the Nakba by Palestinians. Nakba means catastrophe, forced exile from their Promised land. Alice was raised in an Orthodox, Zionist family. Her mother Sylvia wrote a book of oral histories of survivors of the Holocaust. As a child Alice’s family took her to Israel to experience the jubilant energy of the Jewish state. No one suggested to her that the triumph of Israel had a dark side.

Alice studied psychology at Bryn Mawr in the late 1960s and then went on to the School of Medicine at Boston University. At both schools she participated in anti-Vietnam War protests and then became active in feminism and health care reform. While she became a board certified obstetrician-gynecologist on the staff of Beth Israel Hospital (now Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center) she held an appointment at Harvard Medical School as an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology. She also spent much of her time helping to establish reproductive clinics for poor and underserved women.

It wasn’t until 1997 that Dr. Rothchild began to study the origins of the Israel/Palestine issue, the role of US foreign policy in perpetrating it, how AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) was using money and intimidation to attempt to control US politics towards Israel, and how different the Palestinian narrative of this history was from the version reported by the mainstream American media. A major question for her was trying to understand how a people, the Jews, revered for their sense of justice and their sacrifices for upholding issues of justice could so systematically deny justice to the Palestinians. She says, “Jewish Israelis are often immigrants and have had the experience of oppression, ghettos, and racial hatred at the hands of dominant anti-Semitic societies. How have these Israelis moved to a place where they are able to do some of the same terrible things that were done to them?”

To answer questions like that Dr. Rothchild has written two books: Broken Promises, Broken Dreams: Stories of Israeli and Palestinian Trauma and Resilience and On the Brink, written in the summer of 2014 while she was in the West Bank during the events leading up to a devastating Israeli attack on Gaza. She has also produced the documentaryVoices Across the Divide. Her goal in the books and the film is not to condemn but to understand, to look unflinchingly at the behavior of the Israeli government and compassionately seek its roots in fear and trauma.

Why is this issue important to the ‘Americans Who Tell the Truth’ project? So much of US history and its accumulation of power is tangled up with exploitation and racism. It’s very disturbing to see these same injustices being supported by the US in Israel, where we seem willing yet again to trade our ideals for “interests.” Some of those interests are about hegemony, some about economics. Much of the 3.2 billion dollars given every year to Israel constitutes some form of corporate welfare to US weapons manufacturers.

US taxpayer money is allocated with the understanding that it will be used to buy US weapons. And to keep this gravy train rolling along, American war industries lobby the U.S. government as tirelessly as AIPAC to continue policies that lead to huge profits.

But our involvement represents an opportunity. Because the US interests and economy are so intertwined with Israel’s, the US is in a uniquely powerful position to influence Israel’s policy toward Palestine. Dr. Rothchild’s work with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement through Jewish Voice for Peace and American Jews for a Just Peace is about harnessing the power of American citizens to affect U.S. policy.

I traveled last springand will return next monthto the West Bank to work on art projects in a refugee camp in Nablus and a small Palestinian agricultural village in the Jordan Valley scheduled for demolition by the Israelis. Once there, one cannot help but see the ugly face of the occupation: the mammoth indignity of the separation Wall, the steady encroachment of the Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, the appropriation of Palestinian water and resources, the omnipresent military checkpoints, the house demolitions, the constant humiliations. All of this being done with the help of U.S. weapons and equipment. But most of all is the overriding clarity that there is not now nor has there ever been any desire for or possibility of a Palestinian state. When Netanyahu said recently that he had no intention of allowing a two state solution, many people in the US were shocked. But, in fact, that has been the policy all along. The “peace process” has been a mirage manipulated by the Israelis to defuse criticism. And the U.S. has played magician’s assistant in pretending the mirage was real.

Dr. Alice Rothchild is one of the people who have courageously and eloquently insisted on putting our ideals before our interests. When power and control are more important than justice and compassion, we lose all right to the moral high ground. Without Dr. Rothchild, we might not be able to even identify where that high ground is. ‘Americans Who Tell the Truth’ is very proud to include her courageous voice in it’s project.

The quote on her portrait says: “Where are the protests from political organizations, the cries of horror from U.S. ministers as well as rabbis and mainstream Jewish community groups who cry ‘Never again!’ Surely history will teach us that Israel cannot claim a special moral dispensation because of past suffering, and then behave immorally. Misusing the term anti-Semitism to characterize criticism of Israeli behavior ultimately renders the term meaningless.”

Defense attorneys say spying on alleged Chinese seed plotters in trade dispute signifies ‘breathtaking’ overreach

Siblings and Chinese nationals Mo Hailong and Mo Yu face prosecution for plotting to steal genetically modified seed technology. (Photo: BASF/cc/flickr)

Siblings and Chinese nationals Mo Hailong and Mo Yu face prosecution for plotting to steal genetically modified seed technology. (Photo: BASF/cc/flickr)

In what defense attorneys are calling a “breathtaking and unprecedented” abuse of power, a top secret government court has authorized the surveillance of two Chinese nationals accused of stealing genetically modified (GM) seed technology from biotech giants DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto, according to court documents and reported by the Des Moines Register on Monday.

Federal investigators reportedly sought approval from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, also known as the FISA court, which is best known for rubber stamping the NSA’s sweeping surveillance program for the powers to spy on the communications of siblings Mo Hailong and Mo Yu in an attempt to connect the two employees of the Beijing-based DBN Group, a conglomerate that owns a seed company, with the Chinese government.

However, rights advocates and attorneys representing the pair say that the government is conflating a trade dispute with a national security threat in order to protect the interests of the powerful biotechnology industry.

“For the first time in the statute’s history (as far as our research reveals), the government used FISA to investigate a trade secret dispute between two privately owned companies.”
—Mark Weinhardt, Defense attorney

“FISA was intended to capture information about national security-type threats,” Faiza Patel, a national security expert with the Brennan Center for Justice, told the Register. “It wasn’t meant to capture ordinary crime, such as violating trade secrets.”

Defense attorney Mark Weinhardt has filed a motion to suppress evidence gathered under FISA from being introduced during the siblings’ trial, which is scheduled for Sept. 14. As Patel noted, the lack of transparency surrounding the FISA court makes challenging evidence nearly impossible.

“This case involves a breathtaking and unprecedented expansion of the government’s use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,” Weinhardt wrote in the motion. “For the first time in the statute’s history (as far as our research reveals), the government used FISA to investigate a trade secret dispute between two privately owned companies.”

According to court records, “prosecutors have turned over to defense attorneys a mountain of more than 500,000 documents, 50 hours of audio tapes and two years’ worth of surveillance footage generated by the investigation,” the Register reports. The FBI’s investigation into the seed stealing plot began in 2011 after a DuPont Pioneer field manager found Mo Hailong, “nervously” digging in one of the company’s test fields.

If convicted, the two could face a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Even America’s ‘Media Watchdogs’ Hide U.S.’s Ukrainian Nazification & Ethnic Cleansing

By Eric Zuesse

The U.S.’news’ media are so censored and controlled, so that even America’s ‘media watchdog’ organizations —mediamatters.org and fair.org on the left; and aim.org and mrc.org on the right — have hidden from the American public President Barack Obama’s Ukrainian coup in February 2014 that violently overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President and replaced him with a Ukrainian nazi (racist-fascist) rabidly eliminationist anti-Russian, police-state regime in Kiev, which, ever since America’s coup there, has been ethnically cleansing the Ukrainian Donbass region that had voted 90% for the man, Viktor Yanukovych, whom the Obama Administration overthrew. None of this is reported in the U.S. ‘news’ media — and America’s ‘media watchdog’ organizations hide the media’s hiding of it, though these events could bring on a nuclear war with Russia, which is America’s real target in Ukraine, right next door to Russia.
On 14 January 2015, I headlined “The Most-Censored News Story of 2014 Was ___What___?” and reported that, after an investigation, I had found that, by far, the most-censored news story of 2014 in America was Obama’s coup and U.S.-supported ethnic-cleansing in Ukraine. Links were provided there to videos of the the U.S.-backed massacre in the Trade Unions Building in Odessa on 2 May 2014, and the following ethnic cleansing in the Donbass region. However, the U.S. even sponsors firebombings of Donbass in order to get rid of the residents there, and our ‘media watchdogs’ are even silent about the ‘news’ being silent about that. And, here is a good video of America’s Ukrainian coup, which overthrew Yanukovych. Here is more about that coup.
America is trying to conquer Russia, and the placement of nuclear missiles right next door to Russia, in Ukraine seems to be Obama’s objective. America’s ‘news’ media, and their ‘watchdogs,’ are doing a terrific job of hiding all of this from the American people. They wouldn’t do that if these events weren’t enormously important to the American aristocracy, who, it seems, have bought up all of the major mainstream and alternative news media. Scandals far less important than this ongoing one are routinely receiving much attention from the American press. However, even America’s ‘media watchdogs’ ignore this scandal of America’s press. Thus, there aren’t peace-marches and other public demonstrations about this, even though America’s bringing nazis to power in Ukraine is shocking. But you can find out all about it by clicking on the links here, and on the links within those linked-to news reports. It’s all history now, which was unfortunately never reported by U.S. media while it was still very hot and bloody news.

The ALEC-Backed War on Local Democracy

By Mary Bottari and Brendan Fischer

After the town of Denton, Texas passed a ballot initiative banning fracking in November 2014, the oil and gas industry reacted with outrage and swiftly filed suit. Politicians in the state capitol responded with a fusillade of bills to preempt local authority over public health and safety and to subject local ballot initiatives to pre-approval by the state attorney general. There was even a bill to end local home rule altogether.

The tiny town of Denton was not alone. From New Jersey to Oregon, on topics as diverse as minimum wage, paid sick leave, community broadband, e-cigarettes, and GMOs, state politicians are stepping up their efforts to destroy a bedrock principle of U.S. governance–the right of municipal and county authorities to legally and appropriately enact and strengthen laws that reflect local needs and priorities.

Corporate interests that spend hundreds of millions a year on state and federal lobbying have grown accustomed to getting what they want at the federal and state levels, but it is much harder to assert corporate control over America’s 22,553 municipal and county governments.

Preemption is part of a one-two punch corporations and politicians are using to block the advance of progressive policies at the local level, where these policies are most likely to be enacted. Just as they have done in Texas, industries and trade associations are also filing a barrage of lawsuits against local governments to frighten off other localities considering the same option. For example in Trenton, New Jersey, six trade associations–the New Jersey Business and Industry Association, the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce, New Jersey Food Council, New Jersey Restaurant Association, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association, and the state branch of the National Federation of Independent Business–have gone to court to challenge the results of the November 2014 earned sick days ballot measure. A preemption bill is also looming.

A diversity of industries are pursuing this aggressive strategy against grassroots democracy, but what may be surprising to some is that a group dedicated to individual liberty and “limited government,” which in 2010 authored a model bill recommending that local governments block and preempt stricter state and federal laws, is at the center of it all.

Dual-Track Strategy Outlined at ALEC: Preemption and Litigation

When cities like Seattle and Los Angeles took action to “raise the wage” in 2014, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) jumped into action. As The Guardian reported, ALEC and its local government offshoot the American City County Exchange (ACCE) “launched an aggressive dual-track mission that combines legislation and litigation in what ALEC calls a ‘new battleground’ over worker compensation.”

At an ACCE meeting in December 2014, Cara Sullivan, who heads ALEC’s Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force, explained: “Perhaps the biggest threat comes from the local level.” Her solution? “One solution that ALEC has passed is state legislation that preempts the polities from within the state from raising the minimum wage higher than the state level.”

If this sounds like an strange talk to be giving a room full of city and county officials it is. And it gets stranger. Karen Moreau of the American Petroleum Institute’s New York lobbying group also lectured the local officials on the danger of local control.

“It really hit me when I visited a Holocaust museum here a couple years ago in DC,” Moreau said,“and I wandered through the exhibit that describes the rise of Hitler and describes the rise of Fascism, and how Fascism actually takes hold, and it struck me because it was so similar to what I see happening in our small towns on issues like fracking.”

What do grassroots advocates think of it all?

“It is clear what is going on here. They want to stop our momentum. So they’re expanding their toolkit to try to undo democracy and delay justice,” said Ellen Bravo, Executive Director of Family Values @ Work, which advocates for paid sick days. “They will fail, but in the meantime, they will make many families less economically secure and less healthy,” Bravo added.

We have seen this play before. It was drawn up decades ago by the tobacco industry with the help of ALEC legislators to fight local public health restrictions on smoking, tobacco and tobacco advertising to youth.

As CMD has reported, ALEC’s relationship with the tobacco industry started around 1979, when ALEC Executive Director Kathleen Teague wrote to the Tobacco Institute seeking financial support. In 1981, Tobacco Institute leaders attended ALEC’s “Exclusive White House and Cabinet Briefing” with President Ronald Reagan and his cabinet.

ALEC legislators worked with the industry on a strategy to get weak, permissive state smoking laws passed in order to prevent cities and towns in the state from enacting stricter smoking laws. One1994 document shows the industry crowing over passing laws in 18 states to preempt localities from restricting smoking and their efforts to target 19 more states in 1995.

By 2000, the industry had systematically and successfully enacted preemption legislation in themajority of states. The preemption not only put the lives and health of millions at risk, it sucked a lot of air out of burgeoning grassroots movement.

“I think we all recognize that building genuine grassroots movements is one of the few ways left that ‘We the People’ can still protect our own health and safety, whether in the workplace or in the community,” Mark Pertschuk from the watchdog group Grassroots Change explained to CMD. “The most devastating thing about preemption is that it destroys grassroots citizen movements. This is why interfering with local control is such a high priority for the industries that support state (and federal) preemption.”

Since the Regan era, Phillip Morris/Altria and Reynolds Tobacco have continued to bankroll ALEC, vote as equals with legislators on ALEC “model” bills, serve at times on ALEC’s governing board, and sponsor swank cigar parties at ALEC meetings. The ALEC library of bills directly benefits ALEC corporate members and includes measures to preempt: local wage ordinances, pesticide and GMO restrictions, public broadband, internet taxation, rent control, gun control, cell phone regulation, charter school authorization, and more.

As ALEC observer Rep. Chris Taylor of Wisconsin reported, ALEC’s guiding principle supporting big business “turns the small-c conservative ideal of individual liberty and local control on its head.”

Below, we detail recent preemption efforts in three categories.

Minimum Wage “Whack-a-Mole”

The dual-pronged strategy of legislation and litigation is being used to thwart local minimum wage laws.

ALEC has long pushed bills like the “Living Wage Preemption Act,” which aims to block local boosts to the federal minimum wage. Multiple states have adopted ALEC preemption, and last year in Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin (an ALEC alumnus) signed laws to prohibit cities from raising the minimum wage or enacting paid sick days. Another Oklahoma bill introduced this session would bar local laws requiring government contractors to pay a living wage.

In Washington State, soon after Seattle’s City Council took the historic step of enacting a $15 minimum wage, ALEC member the International Franchise Association sued in federal court to block the law’s implementation, making the extraordinary claim that it “discriminates” against franchises like McDonald’s in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. A District Court judgerejected the lawsuit, but it appears the IFA is planning to get its case before the U.S. Supreme Court: it has hired Paul Clement, a conservative super-lawyer who has argued 74 cases in front of the nation’s highest court, including the challenge to the Affordable Care Act. In 2014 and 2015, wage preemption bills were introduced in the state which would kill the Seattle wage hike.

In Los Angeles, another massive trade association, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), sued after the city raised the wage to $15.37 for hotel workers.

Representatives of both IFA and the AHLA spoke at the December ACCE meeting about their plans to thwart local wage increases.

Brian Crawford from AHLA “urged conservatives to launch populist campaigns against wage increases by adopting the mantra that higher pay hurts ordinary Americans,” reports The Guardian.

Crawford compared the industry’s battle against local wage laws to a game of Whack-a-Mole: “We’re trying to beat them down when they pop up.”

Paid Sick Days Preemption

The spread of paid sick day preemption laws is also tied to the corporate bill mill and benefits ALEC members like the National Restaurant Association. Eight states enacted paid sick day preemption after Wisconsin’s anti-paid sick day measure was handed out at ALEC’s 2011 meeting with a National Restaurant Association executive in attendance. In most states where a paid sick day preemption bill has been introduced, its sponsor has been an ALEC member.

In Pennsylvania, where Philadelphia enacted a paid sick day law in February, ALEC member Sen. John Eichelberger amended a Senate preemption bill so it would apply retroactively. Eichelberger was simply offended that Philadelphia would exercise local control.

“The amendment was introduced because we do not want to allow municipalities to try to sneak in changes to local ordinances before this bill is placed into law,” he said. Rep. Seth Grove, anoutspoken ALEC member and frequent sponsor of ALEC legislation, is also pushing a bill to block cities from enacting paid sick day laws. (Grove tried, but failed, to push similar measures in previous sessions.)

In addition to pushing ALEC legislation, low-road employers have used the courts to block paid sick day ordinances.

For example, after seven New Jersey cities enacted paid sick day initiatives last year, a group of big business lobbies (including affiliates of the National Restaurant Association and Chamber of Commerce) sued to block Trenton’s law, throwing an array of tenuous legal arguments at the wall.

“They couldn’t defeat it at the ballot, so they filed a lawsuit to delay it, and perhaps intimidate other cities from trying,” Bravo said.

The lawsuit claims that, because New Jersey regulates temporary disability benefits and family leave, the state “occupied the field” of sick leave, prohibiting local governments from addressing the issue. The suit also claims that paid sick days amount to an increase in the minimum wage, since a worker is paid when they are home sick. But a worker who benefits from a paid sick day law doesn’t get extra pay; it means they won’t be docked pay when sick.

“A minimum wage earner without paid sick days is actually earning a sub-minimum wage,” Bravo explained.

Fracking and Drilling “Public Liberty” under Threat

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a controversial method of gas and oil extraction that injects a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, water, and sand into underground wellbores — has been linked to earthquakes and contaminated water resources. Dozens of cities in states like Ohio and Pennsylvania have banned the practice in recent years. Concerned citizens in Denton, Texas went up against the the state’s most powerful special interest and approved a fracking moratorium as a ballot measure in November 2014.

But the powerful oil and gas industry is fighting back against such efforts with a lawsuit and with help from ALEC legislators.

In the Texas legislature, Rep. Phil King, who currently holds the highest position in ALEC as the group’s national chair, sponsored a bill to preempt Denton and other cities from banning fracking or other oil and gas operations.

In New Mexico, House Majority Leader (and ALEC member) Nate Gentry is pushing a bill to block local regulation of oil and gas drilling. His proposal would even preempt local zoning laws requiring oil and gas setbacks from schools or environmentally-sensitive zones. Legislative leaders in Oklahoma are also pushing a bill to preempt local fracking regulation.

In Ohio in February, the state Supreme Court outlawed local bans in a lawsuit brought by industry. And in Texas and New Mexico, even more draconian bills have been introduced to penalize localities by withholding state funds if they dare to regulate fracking.

“It’s not just our air, water, health, safety, and our property values,” said Adam Briggle, Vice President of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group. “But it’s to exercise our right, what I would call public liberty, which is having a say that impacts you in important ways. And so we exercise what I consider grassroots local democracy.”

Texas officials, backed by oil and gas campaign contributions, filed suit against Denton a day after the law took effect. Oil and gas interests also launched separate litigation.

Permanent Preemption Peddled as “Compromise”

Although it has primarily been “Big Government Republicans” pushing state bills to block local control, in some cases Democrats have signed-on to the measures, often as part of a “compromise” for short-term gains and often at the behest of corporate interests. This is most common in states where statewide legislation, such as a minimum wage increase, is likely to pass. Rather than fighting a losing battle against the law, business lobbies promote the addition of preemption language as a way to stave off local efforts in the future.

Last year, for example, Democratic-controlled Rhode Island raised the state minimum wage to $9, and also blocked local governments from enacting higher local wages. At the time, Providence was considering a $15 minimum wage, and the restaurant and hotel industries pushed the preemption measure to block the local law.

Last month, Democrats in the Illinois Senate passed a bill to raise the statewide minimum wage to $11, but under pressure from the state National Restaurant Association affiliate, the measure also preempts a recently-enacted Chicago law that raises the wage to $13/hour.

In New Mexico, the National Restaurant Association affiliate has stated that it will support a higher minimum wage, as long as it is coupled with preemption.

Although coupling a minimum wage increase or other progressive legislation with preemption may bring a short-term benefit, it has long-term consequences in communities across a state.

“Local communities must continue to stand up for the rights of those neglected by the state,” saidBriggle, “or we will not only risk our health, but also lose the last venue in which we can take control of our own destiny.”

Koch Brothers Should Return $157 Million in Government Subsidies

The fossil fuel barons, Charles and David Koch, have long advocated for “economic freedom” and a smaller government. They have slammed “collectivism” and market distorting subsidies.

In 2012, Charles Koch decried corporate welfare and “crony capitalism” in the pages of the Wall Street Journal: “Far too many well-connected businesses are feeding at the federal trough. By addressing corporate welfare as well as other forms of welfare, we would add a whole new level of understanding to the notion of entitlement reform,” he wrote.

The Koch’s “secret bank” Freedom Partners has spent hundreds of millions in elections in part to tackle “‘rent-seeking,’ ‘corporate welfare,’ and other forms of cronyism.”

In 2014, the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) rolled out a report on the “Unseen Cost of Tax Cronyism” and the Kochs launched a public broadside against corporate subsidies in a letter to Congress. The Kochs were so upset by programs, such as the Wind Production Tax Credit, that their chief lobbyists declared: “We oppose ALL subsidies, whether existing or proposed, including programs that benefit us.”

Now Good Jobs First, a nonprofit watchdog on corporate subsidies, has provided the Kochs with an excellent opportunity to put their money where their mouth is.

Good Jobs First unveiled a new, upgraded version of the their Subsidy Tracker data base which aggregates subsidy recipient data from more than 700 state, local, and federal economic development programs.

Click on “Koch Industries” in their parent companies list and voila! $157 million in state and federal subsidies are revealed, with an additional $6.2 million in federal loan guarantees.

Louisiana has ponied up the most $77 million in subsidies for the Koch operations, followed by $25 million in Oregon, $21 million in Oklahoma, and $15 million in Iowa.

These are all states that could use the cash.

Surely Charles and David Koch don’t want to sully themselves with subsidies? With a combined net worth estimated to be $82 billion dollars, they are two of richest men in the world.

Its time to ask @Koch_Industries to give it back.

All of the Ways Big Brother Is Watching You

By Rutherford Institute

Privacy as we once knew it is dead. We now find ourselves in the unenviable position of being monitored, managed and controlled by our technology—specifically the technology employed by the government against the American citizenry. As a result, warns John W. Whitehead in this week’s vodcast, we are becoming a nation where even the most virtuous citizen risks becoming an outlaw.


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