The NFL Should Do More Than Just Take A Knee

Colin-Kaepernick-600x338

Colin Kaepernick (Photo: Kaepernick7.com)

When Colin Kaepernick began to protest during the national anthem at NFL games last year, he made his intent very clear. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick told NFL Media.

“To me, this is bigger than football,” he explained, “and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

Kaepernick made the brave decision to do this mostly alone — and of course faced the backlash and took the heat on his own. That was until President Trump decided to attack black sports players who raised awareness about racial injustice.

At a campaign rally in Alabama, Trump called out NFL players that chose to take a knee or sit during the anthem. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now’?” Trump asked.

The following Sunday, a far greater number of NFL players stood up for those who protest inequity during the national anthem — and were joined, surprisingly, by many of the team owners Trump called out to.

While this was a good show of solidarity, it led some to wonder whether the NFL actually cares about black lives, or whether team owners were just looking to distance themselves from Trump’s problematic and divisive comments.

African-American males are only 6 percent of the United States population, but comprise nearly 70 percent of NFL players. It’s no wonder that issues around race are making their way into the NFL spotlight.

Black issues have never been a concern for NFL officials when it came to causes worthy of their monetary support. Instead, many NFL officials have donated millions to causes that were openly hostile to the Black Lives Matter movement — such as the Trump campaign.

CNN Money reports that “at least $ 7.75 million of the $ 106 million raised for Trump’s inaugural committee came from NFL owners and the league.” Several owners, many of whom supported Trump — and seven of whom had donated at least $ 1 million to him — released statements denouncing Trump’s comments.

Yet none have used their economic power to actually address the problem that brought the protest on in the first place.

Now would be a fine time to take the next step. While there are a number of ways the league can contribute to this movement, there’s one obvious way: supporting the Colin Kaepernick Foundation.

After Kaepernick began to raise awareness on the field, he put his money where his mouth is and created a foundation aimed at fighting oppression of all kinds globally, through education and social activism. Through this foundation, he made a pledge to “donate one million dollars plus all the proceeds of my jersey sales from the 2016 season to organizations working in oppressed communities.”

Imagine what could really transpire if NFL officials decided to make this same commitment.

We need to hold the NFL accountable, just as we do for other powerful American organizations. Taking a knee, banding arms, and releasing statements of support is easy compared to what the league can actually do to help fight racial injustice.

It’s time for the NFL to stand up for black lives and the rights of all Americans.

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? This City Just Banned Virtually All New-Dirty Energy Infrastructure

n December 14, the city council in Portland, Oregon, voted unanimously to set “the first stone in a green wall across the West Coast,” in the words of Mayor Charlie Hales. He was referring to a groundbreaking new zoning ordinance that effectively bans all new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure within the city’s limits—including new port facilities for shipping coal, and holding tanks for oil and natural gas—and prevents existing facilities from expanding. The vote marks a hard-fought victory for local activists and environmental groups. And, in anticipation of the Trump administration’s pro–fossil fuel agenda, it signals to other cities that innovative action to counter climate change is still possible at a local level.

Hales wasn’t always so supportive of building a “green wall” against fossil-fuel exports. In fact, the two-year-long grassroots campaign that led to the new zoning ordinance began in opposition to Hales’s initial support for a $ 500 million propane export facility proposed by the Pembina Pipeline Corporation, the largest pipeline company in the Canadian tar sands. Local opponents—who organized themselves into a group calling itself the Climate Action Coalition—bird-dogged Hales at local events, photo-bombing him with their protest signs. They posted a caricature of Mayor Hales with the name “Fossil Fuel Charlie for Mayor” on Portland State University’s campus. On Earth Day 2015, coalition members briefly took over City Council proceedings, bearing giant cardboard cutouts of councilors’ faces and talk bubbles showing quotes in which they’d pledged to act swiftly on the climate crisis.

Facing the choice between the propane-export terminal—the single largest business proposal in Portland history—and a well-organized pack of activist opponents, who submitted thousands of letters, e-mails and calls to City Hall, as well as Portland-area scientists who produced voluminous reports highlighting the potential catastrophe posed by mile-long trains filled with propane traversing the city’s rails each day, Hales finally surrendered: He took the Pembina propane-terminal proposal off the city’s docket.

Then Hales proposed a further step, supporting the call from the Climate Action Coalition for no new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure anywhere in the city’s limits. In October of 2015, Hales gave up a reelection bid and devoted the remainder of his time in office to passing his priority campaigns. That November, the first non-binding resolution opposing all new fossil-fuel infrastructure passed the City Council. Fast forward to December 2016: Two weeks before the end of his term, Hales succeeded in passing the strongest land-use ordinance opposing new fossil-fuel-export infrastructure in the country.

Read the full article on the Nation’s website.

The post ? This City Just Banned Virtually All New-Dirty Energy Infrastructure appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Daphne Wysham is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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This City Just Came Up With a Novel Way to Fight Inequality. It Starts With Bold Grassroots Action.

(Photo: Timothy Krause/Flickr)

(Photo: Timothy Krause/Flickr)

Portland has just opened up a new front in the struggle against inequality. On November 7, local officials voted to slap a surtax on corporations that pay their chief executive officers more than 100 times what they pay their typical workers.

The Portland move will be the nation’s first tax penalty on corporations with extreme CEO-worker pay gaps. But it’s unlikely to be the last. Much like the Fight for $ 15, this bold reform could well spread like wildfire.

Indeed, we may look back at the Oregon vote as the dawn of a new “pay ratio politics.” Thanks to a new Securities and Exchange Commission regulation, publicly held corporations will this year have to start calculating the ratio between their CEO and median worker pay. The first of these ratios will go public in early 2018.

These federally mandated pay ratio disclosures will make it easy for states and cities to adopt Portland-style surtaxes—if they have the political will to do so.

In Portland, local officials had that will, and their deliberations showed just how broad the potential political support may be for leveraging the public purse against corporate pay practices that increase inequality. Each council member who voted for the surtax did so for slightly different reasons.

For the bill’s champion, Steve Novick, this was all about striking a blow against our nation’s skyrocketing inequality. “CEO pay is not just an eye-catching example of, but a major cause of, extreme economic inequality,” he said in a statement after the council vote. “Extreme economic inequality is—next to global warming—the biggest problem we have in our society.”

Read the full article on The Nation’s website. 

The post This City Just Came Up With a Novel Way to Fight Inequality. It Starts With Bold Grassroots Action. appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Sarah Anderson directs the Global Economy project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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It Can’t Happen Here (But It Just Did)

donald-trump-president-elect

(Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

In the typical time travel story, an enterprising person from the future goes back to 1922 to assassinate young Hitler, or to 1963 to interrupt Lee Harvey Oswald in the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas.

This time, however, the smarter denizens of the future world didn’t save us from the horrors of the present.

Instead, Donald Trump somehow got control of the time machine and used it for the opposite purpose. He brought in voters from the past who remembered (or misremembered) a more prosperous, more homogenous, more imperially confident America. He also transported in a few denizens of the Jim Crow South and Nazi Germany to dust off their ugly anachronisms and rally the alt-right.

More than 59 million people elected Trump president. In this election, the past just trumped the future.

The European Example

The ugliness has been percolating in Europe for some time now.

It wasn’t just Brexit, Britain’s unexpected rejection of the European Union. It was the election of militant populists throughout Eastern Europe — Viktor Orban in Hungary, Robert Fico in Slovakia, the party of Jaroslaw Kaczynski in Poland. It was the electoral surge of the National Front in France and the Alternative fur Deutschland in Germany. It was the backlash against immigrants, social welfare programs, and “lazy Mediterraneans” — but also against bankers and Brussels bureaucrats.

The cosmopolitan class had overreached in Europe. Successful urban and liberal elites who supported economic, political, and social policies that left behind large segments of the populace thought that they’d established an irreversible consensus on the trajectory of their countries and the European Union. They’d gone transnational without realizing that large numbers of their compatriots were still quite stubbornly and exclusively national.

I didn’t think it could happen here. Or, rather, I didn’t think it would happen here quite yet.

Donald Trump was such a flawed politician that I didn’t think he could survive all of his self-inflicted wounds. I worried more about 2020, when a more capable politician could serve as a mouthpiece for all those who haven’t benefited from the elite-driven economic policies of both liberals and conservatives.

But this is America. We have a sweet tooth for old white male blowhards, from Rush Limbaugh all the way back to Cotton Mather.

It’s tempting to see our pre-2016 America through the lens of Weimar Germany, when a cosmopolitan German elite created the most liberal society the country had ever seen. That is, until this liberal society came up against the Nazis who, supported by a mob of resentful, provincial Germans, pushed the rewind button all the way back to the savage Middle Ages.

Perhaps Trump will usher in a fascist era and prove Sinclair Lewis prescient in his 1935 novel It Can’t Happen Here. He has certainly assembled quite a few capable players — Newt Gingrich, John Bolton, Mike Flynn, Rudy Giuliani — who can unshackle the jackboot army. The alt-right is celebrating his election as a victory for white power.

But Trump has used his time machine to revisit a different point in the past. Before last night, we were living in a pre-1914 era. That was a time of unprecedented globalization. And then, because of a reactionary backlash that started in Europe, the world was suddenly aflame with nationalism. The level of global trade wouldn’t recover for another six decades. Only the horrors of World War II would spur the creation of the United Nations and the return of some semblance of internationalism.

The question now is whether the world can pull together at this moment, as we all stand on the precipice — of aggressive nationalism, of ugly prejudice, of climate change, of despair. In my novel Splinterlands, I’ve gamed out the dystopian scenario. It was designed to be a wake-up call. It wasn’t supposed to be a non-fiction account of our current moment. But even if the past has returned to bite us in the butt and the present looks pretty grim, the future remains ours to change.

Pathetic Fallacy

It’s raining here in the DC area as I write this column on the morning after the election. The weather was perfect yesterday — sunny skies, moderate temperature. That’s when I wrote my first column about the election, which is in the recycle bin. Now the clouds hang low, and the heavens are crying at our predicament.

That’s what literary critics call the “pathetic fallacy,” attributing human characteristics to the inanimate world. It’s the mark of a poor literary stylist.

But think of all the pathetic fallacies that have sheltered us over the last few months. Virtually all the polls indicated a Clinton victory. Virtually all the newspapers endorsed Clinton. Virtually the entire entertainment industry turned its back on Trump. A huge segment of the Republican Party elite refused to support their anointed candidate.

They, we, I was wrong. It can happen here just as it has happened in Europe. Donald Trump was an object in our rear-view mirror who was a great deal closer than he appeared. Now that he has sped out in front and cut us off, how can we and the world avoid a catastrophic pile-up?

The post It Can’t Happen Here (But It Just Did) appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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Russia’s DNC Hack is Just the Tip of the Tundra

The email trove that WikiLeaks released on the eve of the Democratic National Convention has all the hallmarks of a dirty tricks campaign.

The messages reveal, among other things, that the Democratic National Committee tried its best to tilt the electoral playing field in favor of Hillary Clinton. For anyone who has had even the slightest interaction with the Democratic Party — or mainstream politics at all in America— such politicking is nauseating, but routine.

More unusual about the revelations is who acquired the information. The proximate source for the WikiLeaks dump is a hacker named Guccifer 2 — not to be confused with the original Guccifer, a Romanian hacker who broke into Hillary Clinton’s email account and is now in a U.S. jail. Guccifer 2 also claims to be Romanian, but his command of the language is weak to non-existent.

Despite Guccifer’s professed hatred of Russian foreign policy, all signs so far point to Russian hands behind this latest hacking scandal. Russian intelligence agencies had apparently been vacuuming up material from within the DNC for a year or so and only went public with the info when they were shut out of the system last month. They created the Guccifer persona to cover their tracks and used WikiLeaks as their messenger.

It’s big news for a foreign entity to try to manipulate U.S. elections. Of course, you could argue that turnaround is fair play. The United States has manipulated many a foreign election in the past.

The problem with this argument is three-fold. First, U.S. meddling in overseas politics is inexcusable. But we need a moratorium on such activities, not acceptance of other countries following suit in a veritable arms race of democratic tampering. Second, if it is indeed behind the latest attack — and no definitive proof has yet emerged — Russia is backing not just a particular political candidate but the first authentic fascist to have a fighting chance of getting to the White House (“fascist” is not used here as an epithet but as the only political science term that accurately captures Trump’s combination of authoritarianism, nationalism, racism, and economic populism).

Third, the hacking scandal is only one of many ways that Russia is rewriting the rules of international engagement. As a failed superpower that retains its membership card in the nuclear club, Russia has affected an outlaw style, like Anonymous or Julian Assange. Instead of direct confrontation, Russian President Vladimir Putin and his team have thrown on masks and skulked in the shadows: “little green men” in Ukraine, an army of Internet trolls posting Kremlin disinformation on websites, implausibly deniable assassinations of critics. It all makes The Americans, the current FX series about KGB sleeper cells in the 1980s, seem all too current.

What complicates the story, of course, is the risk of a new cold war — strike that, a new hotwar — between the United States and Russia. The fault line running through Central Europe is extraordinarily dangerous, not to mention superpower competition elsewhere in the world like Syria and the face-off between two nuclear arsenals on hair-trigger alert. The last thing the world needs now, with new terrorist attacks happening every day in a different country, is a cage match between the bear and the bald eagle.

So, here’s the triple challenge: counter Russia’s hactivism, reduce tensions between Washington and Moscow, and prevent the election of America’s homegrown Putin. It’s a tall order. But no one ever said that geopolitics is easy.

The Russian Exception

The Chinese government asserts outrageous claims to the entire South China Sea, cracks down on domestic political dissent, and twists arms in Tibet and Xinjiang. But you won’t find many American commentators — left, right, or center — who try to justify this behavior. Similarly, there are only a few nostalgic revolutionaries who bend over backwards to explain away the defects of Cuban socialism or Venezuelan Chavismo.

But Russia is in a category all its own when it comes to defenders in the United States. Vladimir Putin, a right-wing, homophobic nationalist, has attracted support from the usual like-minded crazies, such as Lyndon LaRouche and Franklin Graham. More unusually, an ideologically diverse and highly credentialed group of Americans has leapt to Putin’s defense, including former DIA head Michael Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Jim Matlock, and Russia specialist Stephen F. Cohen.

For someone like Matlock to stick up for Putin reflects a thorough disenchantment with Washington’s Russia policy. During the Clinton era, the United States resurrected a containment strategy toward the country when a more cooperative arrangement was both possible and feasible. As one of the first people to document what I called “containment lite,” I am angry as well. But this anger has not blinded me to Putin’s obvious defects.

Other authoritarian symps are more persuaded by the “hegemonic counterforce.” During the Cold War, some anti-imperialists supported the Soviet Union not for ideological reasons but because it was the only geopolitical force strong enough to prevent the United States from running roughshod across the globe. For those today who believe that the United States alone is responsible for all the world’s evils, any country that stands up to the global bully deserves a measure of support.

In this regard, Putin’s brutality is a plus. He has no qualms about adopting the very worst traits of U.S. foreign policy and adding some nefarious innovations of his own.

Russian Foreign Policy

Russian involvement in the politics of other countries doesn’t stop with its recent efforts to tilt the U.S. election away from the woman Putin thinks tried to dislodge him from power back in 2011. Investigations into Russian interference in France, Bulgaria, and Hungary are ongoing. The Kremlin has specifically supported efforts to undermine the cohesion of the European Union, which puts Putin in the company of various far-right Euroskeptic parties like Golden Dawn in Greece, the National Front in France, and Jobbik in Hungary.

Political hacking is only the tip of the tundra. There’s also:

Targeted assassinations: While the United States conducts drone strikes to take out its foreign opponents, the Putin team employs different methods against its domestic foes. Two former KGB agents slipped polonium into the tea of Alexander Litvinenko, a renegade intelligence officer, leading to his painful death by poisoning. Prison guards beat to death Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer who stood up to massive Russian tax fraud.

Other critics who have died under mysterious circumstances include opposition politicians Boris Nemtsov and Sergei Yushenkov and journalists Anna Politkovskaya and Paul Klebnikov. Russian officials have routinely pointed to other culprits, particularly Chechens.

Moreover, it has been devilishly difficult to trace culpability to Putin himself. Suffice it to say that standing up to Putinism is a very dangerous occupation.

Cross-border incursions: Russia has long claimed a kind of Monroe Doctrine approach to its “near abroad” — particularly those areas with large numbers of Russian speakers. The Russian government has supported breakaway attempts by such communities in Moldova and Georgia. The case of Ukraine, however, is much more significant because Russian troops have helped to annex part of Ukrainian territory (Crimea) and worked with separatists in the Donbas region to carve off another hunk of the country.

Even if, as critics argue, the United States helped orchestrate a coup in Kiev to oust Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych and fascists then took over the government, Russian actions would be suspect (Ukraine, after all, did not declare war on Russia or attack the country). In fact, however, Yanukovych was dislodged by a popular uprising and not a coup, U.S. involvement in this uprising was minimal, and fascists have had only marginal influence on the Ukrainian government (and even less today).

Sure, the country is corrupt, and Ukrainian oligarchs enjoy a great deal of power. But that’s no justification for invasion, any more than leftist orientation justified the Bay of Pigs operation or U.S. efforts to oust the Sandinistas in Nicaragua.

Aerial bombing campaigns: The United States has pioneered the post-Cold War use of aerial bombing to achieve military and political goals on the ground. Russia was relatively new to this game when it started its own bombing campaign in Syria to back the Bashar al-Assad regime and weaken its armed opponents.

Not surprisingly, the Russian campaign has led to the same kind of “collateral damage” as U.S. air strikes. In six months of strikes on such targets as schools, hospitals, and markets, Russian bombers killed as many as 2,000 civilians in Syria in the first six months of the campaign. Despite a pledge to draw down its air strikes, Russian bombing continues, most recently leading to dozens of civilian deaths in the campaign to retake Aleppo.

Expanded military capabilities: Russian military spending has jumped considerably since 2011, when Putin introduced a $ 700 billion modernization program. The Russian military budget remains a far cry from the Pentagon’s annual allocation — roughly a tenth. Moreover, falling oil prices and sanctions over Ukraine have constrained Russian spending, leading to a 5 percent cut in 2016.

Still, Russia has tried to keep up in asymmetric ways — upgrading its nuclear arsenal andinvesting in cyberwarfare. Meanwhile, Russia is second only to the United States in its arms sales, and the wars in Ukraine and Syria will boost those exports even more.

Colder War

Still, the view from Moscow can’t be very reassuring for the Putin team.

NATO has expanded to the very borders of the country. At the most recent summit in Warsaw in July, NATO members agreed to bulk up on the eastern flank with four multinational battalions. The United States will send 1,000 soldiers to Poland, while the UK, Canada, and Germany will send troops to the Baltic countries. The Anakonda 2016 military exercises — which involved 31,000 troops, half of them Americans — no doubt ruffled feathers in the Kremlin. So too did the activation of an anti-missile system in Romania in May (with something similar to go one line in Poland in 2020).

Russia hasn’t simply watched these developments. It has moved troops into its western regions and is preparing to put nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad by 2019. The nuclear weapons of both countries, meanwhile, remain on hair-trigger alert. Neither side has made any commitments to future arms control measures, including de-alerting of nukes.

This buildup of forces and tension in Central Europe is somewhat mitigated by U.S.-Russian cooperation elsewhere in the world. Both countries were involved in negotiating the nuclear deal with Iran. Both countries have negotiated an albeit fragile and frequently violated ceasefire in Ukraine. Secretary of State John Kerry unveiled a recent plan to increase the coordination of intelligence and air strikes in Syria, which hasn’t been particularly popular among European allies. This nascent coordination in fighting terrorism has prompted some Russian experts to speculate about expanding cooperation to other issues.

The speculation isn’t just taking place in Moscow. In his last months in office, President Obama might try a “reset lite” with Russia. As reported in The Washington Post, the administration is considering a number of landmark moves before it leaves office, including a pledge of “no first use” of nuclear weapons, supporting a UN Security Council resolution on a comprehensive nuclear test ban, a scaling back of the nearly trillion-dollar nuclear modernization plan, and an offer to Moscow to extend New START limits for another five years.

The next U.S. president must go beyond arms control and negotiate a new Central European initiative with the countries of the region, Russia, and the European Union. The initiative would combine energy security with demilitarization and provide stability funds so that countries like Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia can substitute economic growth for civil conflict.

So, there is potential to deescalate the emerging cold war. The trick of it is to persuade European allies to go along. And the wild card is the U.S. presidential elections.

American Oligarch

Donald Trump is well on his way to securing the endorsements of right-wing populists the world over. Noted Dutch Islamophobe Geert Wilders and Brexit engineer Nigel Farage both showed up at the Republican national convention. Hungary’s Viktor Orban has endorsed the Donald, confident that he “is the best for Europe and for Hungary.”

And then there’s Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump is “a really brilliant and talented person, without any doubt,” Putin told the press. “It’s not our job to judge his qualities, that’s a job for American voters, but he’s the absolute leader in the presidential race.”

For his part, Trump has shown Putin some love as well. He has promised to sit down and negotiate a deal with the Russian leader. He has been lukewarm on the NATO commitment to defend members that have been attacked. And the American oligarch has considerable ties to his Russian counterparts. According to The Washington Post:

Since the 1980s, Trump and his family members have made numerous trips to Moscow in search of business opportunities, and they have relied on Russian investors to buy their properties around the world.

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,” Trump’s son, Donald Jr., told a real estate conference in 2008, according to an account posted on the website of eTurboNews, a trade publication. “We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.”

For those who see Trump as a vehicle for an even greater rapprochement with Russia if he gets elected, I caution skepticism. Trump negotiates hard bargains with potential business partners, forcing them to accept weak terms or face expensive lawsuits. Vladimir Putin is not a construction company, a real estate agent, or a would-be entrepreneur. He will not likely accede to Trump’s uninformed bullying.

If Putin stands up to the American behemoth as he has done in the past, but this time one presided over by Donald Trump, the new president will not likely take the slight in stride. “When people wrong you, go after those people, because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it,” he wrote in The Art of the Deal. “I love getting even.”

This time around, Trump won’t just have lawsuits to throw at the recalcitrant. He’ll have nuclear weapons at his disposal.

So, to return to the triple challenge, deescalating U.S.-Russian tensions is not enough. Nor is simply countering Russia’s hacking of geopolitics to gain asymmetric advantages. Even defeating Trump is not sufficient. When it comes to the United States and Russia, it will require a package deal.

In 1975, the United States, the Soviet Union, and the countries of Europe negotiated a grand compromise on sovereignty, human rights, arms control, and educational exchanges. The Helsinki Accords proved that compromise was possible even during the Cold War.

We desperately need a Helsinki Accords of the 21st century.

The post Russia’s DNC Hack is Just the Tip of the Tundra appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

John Feffer is the director of Foreign Policy In Focus.

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Just Did It: Nike’s Phil Knight on the trailblazing emergence of a global mega-brand – The Globe and Mail

Just Did It: Nike's Phil Knight on the trailblazing emergence of a global mega-brand
The Globe and Mail
You end the book with Nike's initial public offering in 1980 – before Just Do It, before Michael Jordan or LeBron or Tiger Woods, before the sweatshop crisis. Why? There's too much story to cover the whole … But I didn't give up my love of the sport

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Dozens of Worker Deaths and Six Years Later, Coal Exec Sentenced to Just One Year in Prison

mine-warning-sign

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Don Blankenship might finally see the inside of a prison cell. Six years after the tragic explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine killed 29 workers, former Massey Energy CEO, Don Blankenship, has been found guilty of conspiring to violate mine safety laws.

The misdemeanor charge came with a one-year prison sentence, far less than the 30 years he could have faced had Blankenship been found guilty of the multiple felony charges brought against him. And far less than many think he deserves.

My colleague, Sam Pizzigati, wrote about Blankenship in a piece titled, “America’s Greediest: The 2011 Top Ten Edition.” He noted that Blankenship “pocketed $ 38.2 million from 2007 through 2009, after $ 34 million in 2005, and retired this past December with a $ 5.7 million pension, $ 12 million in severance, another $ 27.2 million in deferred pay, and a lush consulting agreement.”

He also noted that Massey Energy, the nation’s fourth largest coal producer, was found “directly to blame” for the deadly 2010 explosion. “Under Blankenship, Massey managers kept two sets of books, one accurate for internal use and another fake for regulators.”

Safety was a far second priority to maximizing profit for Blankenship and the workers that trusted him paid the ultimate price. In a searing interview following Blankenship’s sentencing, former Massey employee, Tommy Davis, recounts losing his brother, his nephew, and his son in the blast. Choking back tears, Davis recounts how Blankenship never once tried to contact him in the six years since their deaths.

“I miss my family. He hugged his. And all he gets is a year…There needs to be much stricter penalties for people like that who put greed and money over human life.”

It is rare that corporate executives are forced to take a perp walk. Remember all the Wall Street bankers brought out in handcuffs for tanking the global economy? Me neither.

According to federal regulators, Blankenship is the first high-ranking executive to be convicted of a workplace safety violation. His lawyer has vowed he will appeal the one-year prison sentence, the maximum allowable for the crime.

Don Blankenship will remain an exceptionally wealthy man and might still wiggle his way out of spending time behind bars. The judge that sentenced him denied requests for restitution both from the miners’ families and from the company Blankenship left behind, now in bankruptcy.

Tommy Davis is right; we need much stricter penalties for those who value profit over people. It shouldn’t take another tragedy like the Upper Big Branch Mine explosion to bring about this change.

The post Dozens of Worker Deaths and Six Years Later, Coal Exec Sentenced to Just One Year in Prison appeared first on Institute for Policy Studies.

Josh Hoxie directs the Project on Opportunity and Taxation at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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RSPO: Completely Worthless, or Just Mostly Worthless? – Huffington Post

RSPO: Completely Worthless, or Just Mostly Worthless?
Huffington Post
For many years, RSPO was notorious for greenwashing almost any abuse from deforestation to forced labor. And even though it's supposed to drive sustainability, its environmental standards are much weaker than those of the world's largest agribusinesses …

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Why the Collaborative Economy is Just Getting Started – Business 2 Community

Why the Collaborative Economy is Just Getting Started
Business 2 Community
The foundation for this new era is allowing others to use something you own or a service you can provide for a fee; the concept has also been referred to as the “sharing economy” or “collaborative consumption,” most notably by the author who coined the

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Italy’s youth unemployment just hit a new record high — here’s what’s going wrong – Business Insider


Business Insider
Italy's youth unemployment just hit a new record high — here's what's going wrong
Business Insider
Italian youth unemployment broke a new record today, hitting the eye-watering level of 44.2% in June's figures. That's despite the fact the eurozone is clearly now recovering (slowly) from years of recession and stagnation. Only two European countries
Youth unemployment in Italy exceeds 44 percent, 38yr highRT
Italian Unemployment Rises With Youth Jobless at Record HighBloomberg
Italian Govt not alarmed as unemployment climbs to 12.7%ANSAmed

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