Robert Bork is the architect of the inequality crisis

If you know the name Robert Bork, it's probably in the context of his failure to secure Senate confirmation when Ronald Regan put him up for the Supreme Court (his sins from his days in the Nixon administration caught up to him). Read the rest

Big Pharma's origin: how the Chicago School and private equity shifted medicine's focus from health to wealth

Between 2010 and 2016, the FDA approved 210 new medicines and every single one was produced at public expense, part of a $1T US government investment project in medical research. Despite this massive public subsidy, the pharma industry has only grown more concentrated and rapacious, raising prices and diverting the profits to their execs and investors, who now pocket 99% of industry profits: the industry made $500B in profits between 2006 and 2015, and during that time, the US government pumped $33b/year into pharma research. Read the rest

Monsanto ran a psy-ops war-room to discredit journalists and spy on Neil Young

Monsanto ran a "fusion center" (a term borrowed from law-enforcement counter-terrorism operations) that spied on activists and journalists who were investigating the safety of its products, notably the link between its "Round Up" pesticides and cancers. Read the rest

A loophole in nonprofit law means that corporate lobbying is at least double the official figure

Officially, Americas total 2017 corporate lobbying group spending was $535m, but as much as $675m more was funneled from industry groups to politicians as part of influence campaigns. Read the rest

Beto O'Rourke just hired a "senior advisor" who used to lobby for Keystone XL, Seaworld and private prisons

Jeff Berman's got a new job! The former Obama/Clinton staffer is now Beto O'Rourke's senior advisor, having moved laterally from his post-Obama-campaign career working for the DC lobbyists Bryan Cave, where he lobbied on behalf of Seaworld, the Keystone XL pileline and the private prison industry. Read the rest

Joe Biden kicks off his presidential bid with a fundraiser hosted by Comcast's chief lobbyist

Joe Biden, a colossal asshole, wants to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2020 and in the most on-brand move ever, he's launched his campaign with a fundraiser hosted by the chief lobbyist for Comcast, the most hated company in America. (Image: Ildar Sagdejev, CC-BY-SA) Read the rest

Public records requests reveal the elaborate shell-company secrecy that Google uses when seeking subsidies for data-centers

It's not just Amazon and Apple that expect massive taxpayer subsidies in exchange for locating physical plant in your town: when Google builds a new data-center, it does so on condition of multimillion-dollar "incentives" from local governments -- but Google also demands extraordinary secrecy from local officials regarding these deals, secrecy so complete that city attorneys have instructed town councillors to refuse to answer questions about it during public meetings. Read the rest

After promising health care execs that Medicare for All was dead, Pelosi's team plans toothless pharma deal

If there's one issue that the Democrats could win votes with, it's limits on pharmaceutical prices, because virtually every American agrees that we're being ripped off by Big Pharma (and that goes double for Obama Democrat voters who switched to being Trump voters in 2016). Read the rest

Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality and Trump gave away a huge tax break; Verizon got billions and killed 10,000 jobs

When Trump's FCC Chairman Ajit Pai killed Net Neutrality (by illegally ignoring legitimate comments in support of it in favor of millions of anti-Net Neutrality comments sent by identity-stealing bots), he promised that it would spur growth in the telcoms sector -- and of course, he should know, because he used to be a Verizon exec. Verizon agreed: they objected to Obama-era Neutrality orders by saying the measures would "severely curtail job growth." Read the rest

America's big box stores sucked up corporate welfare and killed Main Street -- now they're ducking property tax

For a generation, big box stores have swept across America, using predatory pricing and other dirty tricks to kill the independent retail sector; they used their corporate lobbying muscle to tempt cities and towns into handing out massive corporate welfare checks to lure them to town, and now, with the help of hustling contingency lawyers, they are promulgating a property-tax scam called "the dark store theory" that is cutting their taxes in half or more, with further reductions every year, and no end in sight. Read the rest

Podcast: Zuck's Empire of Oily Rags

Here's my reading (MP3) of Zuck's Empire of Oily Rags, a Locus Magazine column about the corruption implicit in surveillance capitalism, which creates giant risks to users by collecting sensitive information about them in order to eke out tiny gains in the efficacy of targeted advertising. The commercial surveillance industry may not be very good at selling us fridges, but they're very good at locating racists and thugs and getting them to support violent political movements.

MP3 Read the rest

Trump's tariffs will kill making, especially STEM education, while encouraging US manufacturers to go offshore

With Trump poised to exact high tariffs on goods from China, it's tempting to declare the gadget party over: everyone is going to pay through the nose for electronics, from makers to Apple, and that's the end of the story, right? Read the rest

Podcast: Let's get better at demanding better from tech

Here's my reading (MP3) of Let's get better at demanding better from tech, a Locus Magazine column about the need to enlist moral, ethical technologists in the fight for a better technological future. It was written before the death of EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow, whose life's work was devoted to this proposition, and before the Google uprising over Project Maven, in which technologists killed millions in military contracts by refusing to build AI systems for the Pentagon's drones.

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Former Tory chancellor takes over newspaper, sells "money-can't buy" coverage to Uber, Google and others

George Osborne was David Cameron's Chancellor of the Exchequer, the architect of UK austerity; he was fired by Theresa May when she became Prime Minister and he did not run for re-election in the disastrous election of 2017, instead taking a job as editor-in-chief of the Evening Standard. Read the rest

The £7 billion Carillion collapse has the UK government talking about breaking up the Big Four accounting firms

Carrillion was the UK government's go-to outsourcing partner, a company with a long and disgraceful history of putting profits before people -- perhaps that's why HM Government was so ready to believe in the company's robust financial health as it amassed £7B in debts and then collapsed, spectacularly, leaving the UK in financial and infrastructural disarray. Read the rest

Ajit Pai: portrait of a Vichy nerd who transformed from debating-society darling to thin-skinned, brooding manbaby

Andrew Rice's long profile of neutracidal FCC chairman Ajit Pai paints a portrait of a genuine nerd who really loves the ways the internet let him escape his small-town life, who really dotes on memes and Star Wars, and who threw fun parties when he was a young man -- and who is a textbook bootlicker, convinced that corporations will save America from the tyranny of government overreach, and who decided that if Trump was the way to get there, he would carry water for Trump. Read the rest

The most hated company in America is about to get much, much bigger

Comcast is a perennial winner of national polls for the most hated company in America, and the bigger it gets, the worse it gets: back in 2011, the Obama administration let the company swallow NBC Universal, teeing it up to powerfully benefit from the destruction of Net Neutrality under Trump; now Trump is poised to let the company buy Fox and Sky, making the company bigger and more powerful. Read the rest

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