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The Rich and Powerful Who Abuse the System: the contempt topic Number 2


Zorral
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Republican governors lash out against organized labor

Governor Ivey & Other Southern Governors Issue Joint Statement in Opposition to United Auto Workers (UAW)’s Unionization Campaign

https://governor.alabama.gov/newsroom/2024/04/governor-ivey-other-southern-governors-issue-joint-statement-in-opposition-to-united-auto-workers-uaws-unionization-campaign/

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” As governors, we have a responsibility to our constituents to speak up when we see special interests looking to come into our state and threaten our jobs and the values we live by.”

Damn those outside agitators!

In the meantime, they don't have the UAW in their states, and those plants, which they have vowed over and over through the decades, to get working -- well, they are still empty.

These are the neoconfederates for whom paying for labor is the number one anathema, which has been their faith and doctrine since 1619.  They'd rather not have jobs and manufacturing rather than have the labor paid a fair deal.

Edited by Zorral
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What does gangster-state Montenegro have in common with Philip Morris and R.J. Reynolds and Paul Manafort and bananas and cocaine?  And by golly, the USA helped!  And Holy Cow, so did/does Russia and Putin!  Who woulda thought?  And China too.  O my!

This kind of in depth reporting about figures and places generally barely heard of by people over here, yet having effects upon us from Italy to Canada -- not to mention South America -- is something the London Review of Books does better than just about anyone.

https://www.lrb.co.uk/the-paper/v46/n08/alexander-clapp/rip-their-skin-off

The Europol SKY ECC Report is a big part of this story. So it's worth checking out on one's own, when learning of this the many online links concerning this Europol encryption app , -- starting with https://www.europol.europa.eu/media-press/newsroom/news/cocaine-cartel-uncovered-sky-ecc-busted-in-bosnia-and-herzegovina 

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.... It seemed unlikely that Montenegro would emerge intact from the Balkan wars of the 1990s. The pillars of its economy – mining, shipping, tourism – were particularly vulnerable to the UN sanctions levied against Yugoslavia in 1992. But Montenegro had one advantage: two hundred miles of coast facing the Mafia-infested ports of southern Italy. Đukanović’s government didn’t pioneer the smuggling of cigarettes across the Adriatic – in the 1980s Croatian sailors shipped tobacco out of the Balkans and carried jeans in the opposite direction – but under its watch a black market supplanted what remained of the formal economy. In 1992 the cigarette manufacturers R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris began sending cargo planes from Switzerland, Cyprus, Ukraine and Russia to Podgorica. Cartons of cigarettes were transported to warehouses in the port of Bar, put in speedboats that reached Italy in under two hours, and then driven north, unstamped and untaxed. (In 2000 the EU filed a civil lawsuit in the US against the two companies, alleging that they ‘facilitated the smuggling of cigarettes illegally’ into the EU. Philip Morris agreed to pay $1.25 billion in an out-of-court settlement in 2004 but did not admit liability; R.J. Reynolds said that the allegations were baseless.)

Between 1994 and 2000 a billion cigarettes left Montenegro every month, earning Italian syndicates hundreds of millions in undeclared cash which, according to a report compiled in 2008 by prosecutors in Rome, disappeared into Swiss banks. Two Montenegrin companies extracted a ‘transit margin’ of €20 per carton, or around €2 million a week; Montenegrin security services pocketed an additional ‘tax’ amounting to three Deutschmarks per carton. This arrangement helped pay public sector salaries and pensions; Đukanović later defended the ‘transit’ in cigarettes during this period as being ‘in line with Yugoslav and Montenegrin laws of the time’. In 2008 the Italian investigators produced transcripts of wiretapped telephone conversations between Montenegro’s trade representative in Milan and crime bosses in Brindisi in which cash transfers and the forging of import permits by the Italians were discussed. Đukanović was accused by the Italian prosecutor of having ‘promoted, run, set up and participated in a mafia-type association’, and indicted. He has always denied having links to organised crime. The Italian investigating judge eventually dropped the charges against him, citing his diplomatic immunity.

By 2008 it was no longer in the West’s interest to drag Đukanović through the courts. He was an ally. Montenegro’s pivot began in 1997, the year Đukanović fell out with Milošević. Đukanović thought Montenegro’s future was in the West, whereas Milošević saw it in Yugoslavia. (There were also financial considerations: a year earlier Milošević’s son, Marko, had demanded – and been refused – a cut of tobacco proceeds.) ...

The smuggling networks that emerged in the 1990s were never dismantled. But by the early 2000s the situation had changed. The return of the Croats to the cigarette trade they had once controlled, along with increased press scrutiny, meant that the Montenegrins required a new business model. It’s unclear how the connection with cocaine suppliers in South America came about. A lawyer in Podgorica told me that one important step was shoplifting from northern Italian department stores: wearing Swiss watches and Armani suits during their early forays into Colombia, the Montenegrins looked ‘like men you could do business with’.

One figure proved particularly important in cultivating the connection with South American suppliers. Darko Šarić had briefly worked as a technician on a merchant vessel in the 1990s, in between prison stints for offences ranging from burglary to possession of illegal weapons. He moved to South America around 2001; according to one story, he bought up entire streets of cafés and restaurants on the outskirts of São Paulo to launder his earnings. He took Serbian citizenship in 2005; by the late 2000s the Serbian judiciary speculated that Šarić was earning €1 billion a year through the cocaine trade. ‘We can talk about as many suspicions as we like, but we should not deprive people of basic rights,’ Đukanović told the Serbian TV channel B92 in 2010 when asked about Šarić. ‘We are not awarding him the Nobel Prize.’ By that point Šarić’s criminal ties were beyond dispute: a few months earlier, an American-led operation seized more than two tonnes of cocaine belonging to his organisation from a yacht off the coast of Uruguay. After nearly five years on the lam, hiding out in the Dominican Republic, Šarić surrendered to Serbian authorities in 2014. That was thought to be the end of the story, until text messages emerged in 2021 showing that, from cell 117 of Belgrade’s Special Court building, and in co-ordination with Montenegrin police, Šarić had been using several mobile phones to organise criminal activity across Europe.

Drug seizures give only a partial story of the way Balkan cartels began shifting cocaine. A more accurate picture has emerged from fruit imports. Cocaine often crosses the Atlantic in banana shipments; as perishable goods, bananas arrive at ports daily and move through customs quickly. Between 2017 and 2021 the total volume of shipping containers entering Croatian, Montenegrin and Albanian ports stayed the same, but according to the Geneva-based Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, annual banana imports from Colombia and Ecuador increased by nearly 25,000 tonnes in that same period – a rise of almost 60 per cent. ‘My first day in office, the chief of police brought me into a soundproof room and told me, “The cigarettes are a state business. Don’t touch it,”’ Zdravko Krivokapić, prime minister from 2020 to 2022, during Đukanović’s second term as president, said to me. ‘Later, I was made to understand something else. I was told that the average Montenegrin eats three times more bananas than the average European Union citizen.’ ....

 

This cross-hemispheric drug smuggling and state propping violence is abetted by

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.... Today seven thousand Montenegrins work on cargo ships. Almost a third are employed by the Mediterranean Shipping Company (known in certain quarters as the Montenegrin Shipping Company). In 2019, more than a hundred FBI agents boarded an MSC vessel, the Gayane, in Philadelphia harbour and discovered eighteen tonnes of cocaine – a billion-dollar haul – welded into shipping containers packed with nuts and wine. It was the largest maritime drug bust in US history. An FBI investigation revealed that the cocaine had been delivered on fourteen speedboats dispatched over four days from the Peruvian coast, then lifted into the Gayane by night while it was at sea. A third of its crew, including four Montenegrins, were involved in the transfers. Two years later, in August 2021, Spanish police conducted a raid in the Canary Islands. They seized 400 kg of cocaine from a villa, along with twelve encrypted phones, banknote-counting machines and a yacht, and arrested four suspected members of the Škaljari. It was the third bust on the Canaries in two years, giving support to a Spanish court document that had concluded that ‘an immense fleet of seamen hired from MSC ships’ had become cocaine mules for Balkan cartels. ....

Concluding paragraph:

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.... But it has more immediate concerns. British intelligence agents have started monitoring the port of Bar for contraband tobacco. In 2021, the US embassy funded the installation of telephone jammers in Spuž prison to prevent inmates from ordering murders from their cells. South of Kotor, Bemax has begun surfacing a new portion of highway, even as Brussels rebuffs Podgorica’s requests for help in repaying Beijing, which holds a quarter of Montenegrin debt. Russian and Ukrainian émigrés, concentrated in Adriatic towns like Herceg Novi, now account for a tenth of Montenegro’s population, and are pricing its citizens out of a coast already blighted by criminal investment. For one group, though, it’s still business as usual. On any evening you can find the men from Kavač at the Podgorica Hotel, clustered in a dark corner of the lobby, handguns bulging beneath their black bum bags.

 

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Why are billionaires scared of Brazil’s plan to hit them with a global tax? Because it makes perfect sense
As the fortunes of the super-rich soar, a proposed annual levy of 2% could offer a corrective – and they will fight it tooth and nail

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/article/2024/may/02/brazil-global-tax-billionaires-perfect-sense

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The Brazilian government has an even more ambitious proposal – for an annual global tax levied at 2% on the wealth of the world’s billionaires. The French economist Gabriel Zucman has been asked to draw up a detailed plan for how a billionaire wealth tax would work ready for a meeting of G20 finance ministers in July.

Pre-pandemic, Zucman’s idea of an annual 2% tax on the wealth of billionaires would probably have been rejected out of hand, but Covid-19 and the energy shock imparted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have left governments in developed and developing countries desperately short of cash. The very poorest countries – who have suffered most over the past five years – don’t have the money to pay for much-needed investment in health or education, let alone tackling global heating.

 

 

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Today I learned about the Migaloo M5, a submersible super-yacht.

Introducing the 165m submersible superyacht concept Migaloo M5

Hilariously, in French-speaking media, it is dubbed the "yacht of the apocalypse" designed to protect the "ultra-rich" from "the end of the world."
One of the articles (Geo) starts with the line: "Yet another proof that the world is well."

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Company fined $650K for hiring children to clean meatpacking plants
A judge approved a consent order finding that Fayette Janitorial Service LLC sent teens to clean razor-edged machinery with dangerous chemicals
.

It's far worse than the above caption indicates though, and that's bad enough. The fine is meaningless.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2024/05/08/child-labor-tennessee-slaughterhouse-fine/

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As an investigator watched cleaners walk into a pork processing plant, she noticed something unusual: A few carried “pink and purple sparkly backpacks” as they entered the Sioux City, Iowa, facility around 11 p.m.

That observation became evidence in a probe that now has led a Tennessee-based sanitation company to agree to pay nearly $650,000 in fines for hiring at least two dozen children to work overnight in slaughterhouses and meatpacking facilities. In at least one case, a child was seriously injured.

A federal judge on Monday approved a consent order finding that Fayette Janitorial Service LLC sent teens as young as 13 to scrub razor-edged machinery with high-powered hoses, scalding water and dangerous chemicals. The agreement requires Fayette Janitorial to hire a third-party consultant — who will be tasked with monitoring the company’s compliance with federal labor law — within 90 days. It also stipulates the company must establish a toll-free hotline number for people to anonymously report possible child labor violations to the consultant.

“As we’ve unfortunately seen in this case, employers’ violations of federal child labor laws have real consequences on children’s lives,” Jessica Looman, administrator of the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, said in a news release announcing the probe. “Our actions to stop these violations will help ensure that more children are not hurt in the future.”

Fayette Janitorial did not respond to The Washington Post’s requests for comment.

The crackdown on the company comes amid a surge of high-profile cases involving children — mostly migrants — working in some of the nation’s most dangerous industries. Federal law has for nearly a century barred anyone under 18 from holding “particular hazardous” or “detrimental” occupations — including operating or cleaning the machines found inside meat and poultry processing plants.

Despite this ban, the Labor Department has recorded an 88 percent increase in children being employed illegally since 2019. In fiscal 2023, a year marked by a Republican-led push to relax child labor protections, the agency found that nearly 5,800 children had been illegally hired.

“Children in hazardous occupations drove the Fair Labor Standards Act’s passage in 1938,” Christine Heri, an attorney with the Labor Department, said in a news release Monday. “Yet in 2024, we still find U.S. companies employing children in risky jobs, jeopardizing their safety for profit.” ....

 

 

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Eight hundred protesters attempt to storm German Tesla factory
Demonstrators opposed to expansion of factory near Berlin claim it would damage environment

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/article/2024/may/10/tesla-protest-germany-factory

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Hundreds of protesters opposed to the expansion of a Tesla plant in Grünheide, near Berlin, clashed with police on Friday as some of them attempted to storm the electric vehicle manufacturing facility.

About 800 people took part in the protest, according to the organizing group Disrupt Tesla, which claims the expansion would damage the environment. Tesla has attracted intense backlash since the company opened the factory in March 2022, and later announced plans to expand into a nearby forest to increase its production capability.

 

 

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Tesla continues to prove how toxic its workplace is.  Good grief!

https://www.reuters.com/technology/tesla-workers-shared-sensitive-images-recorded-by-customer-cars-2023-04-06/

But between 2019 and 2022, groups of Tesla employees, opens new tab privately shared via an internal messaging system sometimes highly invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car , opens new tab cameras, according to interviews by Reuters with nine former employees.....Some of the recordings caught Tesla customers, opens new tab in embarrassing situations. One ex-employee described a video of a man approaching a vehicle completely naked.....Also shared: crashes and road-rage incidents. One crash video in 2021 showed a Tesla driving at high speed in a residential area hitting a child riding a bike, according to another ex-employee. The child flew in one direction, the bike in another. The video spread around a Tesla office in San Mateo, California, via private one-on-one chats, “like wildfire,” the ex-employee said.....While some postings were only shared between two employees, others could be seen by scores of them, according to several ex-employees.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, LongRider said:

Tesla continues to prove how toxic its workplace is.  Good grief!

https://www.reuters.com/technology/tesla-workers-shared-sensitive-images-recorded-by-customer-cars-2023-04-06/

But between 2019 and 2022, groups of Tesla employees, opens new tab privately shared via an internal messaging system sometimes highly invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car , opens new tab cameras, according to interviews by Reuters with nine former employees.....Some of the recordings caught Tesla customers, opens new tab in embarrassing situations. One ex-employee described a video of a man approaching a vehicle completely naked.....Also shared: crashes and road-rage incidents. One crash video in 2021 showed a Tesla driving at high speed in a residential area hitting a child riding a bike, according to another ex-employee. The child flew in one direction, the bike in another. The video spread around a Tesla office in San Mateo, California, via private one-on-one chats, “like wildfire,” the ex-employee said.....While some postings were only shared between two employees, others could be seen by scores of them, according to several ex-employees.

A neighbour of mine drives a Tesla. Coincidentally, he's the only wanker on the street.

What a shitty company. Shitty, dangerous products, peddled by one of the biggest shits on the planet.

If you willingly drive around in one of Elon's death traps, I am laughing at you. But I am also worrying about your kids.

 

Edited by Spockydog
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2 hours ago, LongRider said:

Tesla continues to prove how toxic its workplace is.  Good grief!

https://www.reuters.com/technology/tesla-workers-shared-sensitive-images-recorded-by-customer-cars-2023-04-06/

But between 2019 and 2022, groups of Tesla employees, opens new tab privately shared via an internal messaging system sometimes highly invasive videos and images recorded by customers’ car , opens new tab cameras, according to interviews by Reuters with nine former employees.....Some of the recordings caught Tesla customers, opens new tab in embarrassing situations. One ex-employee described a video of a man approaching a vehicle completely naked.....Also shared: crashes and road-rage incidents. One crash video in 2021 showed a Tesla driving at high speed in a residential area hitting a child riding a bike, according to another ex-employee. The child flew in one direction, the bike in another. The video spread around a Tesla office in San Mateo, California, via private one-on-one chats, “like wildfire,” the ex-employee said.....While some postings were only shared between two employees, others could be seen by scores of them, according to several ex-employees.

You have to remember that Tesla is not in the business of selling cars but of using cars to collect information on people that they can then sell and resell. Gm did a similar thing using car leases and sales to generate cash flow that was more valuable than the actual car. The quality of the car did not matter because the income from leasing and loans was the point.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Remember this from last year? (It entirely left my memory until seeing this.)

Frightening Log From Titan Submersible’s Fatal Dive Declared a Fake
The federal team investigating the Titan disaster found that a detailed recounting of the craft’s descent was “made up.

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/10/science/titan-submersible-transcript-investigation.html

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Last year, a purported transcript of communications between the Titan submersible and its mother ship circulated widely on the internet. Viewed millions of times, the so-called log suggested that a series of alarms had turned a dive to the resting place of the Titanic into a heart-pounding crisis in which the five voyagers struggled in vain to return to the surface.

But the head of the U.S. federal government team investigating the disaster said that the entire transcript is a fiction. After nearly a year of investigation, his group has found no signs that the five voyagers aboard the Titan had any warning of the catastrophic implosion that was to take their lives. Two miles down, where seawater exerts vast pressures, an implosion would have made the violent collapse of the vehicle’s hull instantaneous.

“I’m confident it’s a false transcript,” said Capt. Jason D. Neubauer, who retired from the U.S. Coast Guard and serves as chairman of the Marine Board of Investigation, the agency’s highest level of inquiry. “It was made up.” Its authorship is not known.

Despite the log’s air of authenticity, the federal team saw through the pretense for a variety of reasons. Significantly, Mr. Neubauer’s team gained access to the records of the actual communications between the submersible and its mother ship, which remain an undisclosed part of the federal investigation. ....

 

 

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I posted this in the UK pol thread, but I think it is relevant here too.

If you want to eat the rich, make sure you use the right recipe and understand its fundamentals.

Stop threatening to tax them and you take away their power.

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F.A.A. Investigating How Counterfeit Titanium Got Into Boeing and Airbus Jets
The material, which was purchased from a little-known Chinese company, was sold with falsified documents and used in parts that went into jets from both manufacturers.

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/06/14/us/politics/boeing-airbus-titanium-faa.html?

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Some recently manufactured Boeing and Airbus jets have components made from titanium that was sold using fake documentation verifying the material’s authenticity, according to a supplier for the plane makers, raising concerns about the structural integrity of those airliners.

The falsified documents are being investigated by Spirit AeroSystems, which supplies fuselages for Boeing and wings for Airbus, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration. The investigation comes after a parts supplier found small holes in the material from corrosion.

In a statement, the F.A.A. said it was investigating the scope of the problem and trying to determine the short- and long-term safety implications to planes that were made using the parts. It is unclear how many planes have parts made with the questionable material.

“Boeing reported a voluntary disclosure to the F.A.A. regarding procurement of material through a distributor who may have falsified or provided incorrect records,” the statement said. “Boeing issued a bulletin outlining ways suppliers should remain alert to the potential of falsified records.” 

The revelation comes at a moment of intense scrutiny of Boeing and the broader aviation industry, which is reeling from a series of mishaps and safety issues. In January, a door panel blew off a Boeing 737 Max 9 jet while it was in flight, prompting several federal investigations. In April, Boeing told the F.A.A. about a separate episode involving potentially falsified inspection records related to the wings of 787 Dreamliner planes. Boeing reported to the F.A.A. that it might have skipped required inspections involving the jet’s wings and that it would need to reinspect some of the Dreamliners still in production.

On May 30, Boeing submitted a plan to the F.A.A. outlining safety improvements it planned to make and committed to weekly meetings with the agency. Dave Calhoun, the Boeing chief executive, is set to testify on Tuesday before a Senate panel on the company’s safety issues.

The use of potentially fake titanium, which has not been previously reported, threatens to extend the industry’s problems beyond Boeing to Airbus, its European competitor. The planes that included components made with the material were built between 2019 and 2023, among them some Boeing 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner airliners as well as Airbus A220 jets, according to three people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly. It is not clear how many of those planes are in service or which airlines own them.....

 

 

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