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Poor People’s Campaign/ Corporate Misbehavior

Ralph welcomes back Bishop William J. Barber to discuss the upcoming Poor People’s Campaign March and Assembly in Washington, DC on June 29th, as well as Bishop Barber’s new book “WHITE POVERTY: How Exposing Myths About Race and Class Can Reconstruct A…

Ralph welcomes back Bishop William J. Barber to discuss the upcoming Poor People's Campaign March and Assembly in Washington, DC on June 29th, as well as Bishop Barber's new book "WHITE POVERTY: How Exposing Myths About Race and Class Can Reconstruct American Democracy." Then Ralph is joined by Phil Mattera from Good Jobs First to discuss their new report on corporate misbehavior, "The High Cost of Misconduct: Corporate Penalties Reach the Trillion-Dollar Mark."

Bishop William Barber is President and Senior Lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, which was established to train communities in moral movement building. He is Co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, and Founding Director and Professor at the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School.  His new book is White Poverty: How Exposing Myths About Race and Class Can Reconstruct American Democracy.

I might add, for our listeners, a lot of these social safety measures have been long enacted and are operating in Western Europe, in Canada, even in places like Taiwan and Japan—like full health insurance, and a lot of the labor rights, the absence of voter suppression, higher minimum wages. And in Western Europe, they have abolished poverty—as we know it in the United States. 

Ralph Nader

One thing that people are saying why they're interested [in the Poor People’s Campaign] is because this is not just a gathering of a day, and it's not just a gathering for a few high-profile people to speak. The messengers are going to be the impacted people, and many of the people are committing to the larger effort of mobilizing these poor low wealth voters.

Bishop William Barber

It's not just “saving the democracy”, Ralph. It's what kind of democracy do we want to save?

Bishop William Barber

We see the kindredness of issues and oppression— that if these bodies can come together and unite, not by ignoring the issue of race, but by dealing with it and dealing with race and class together and recognizing the power that they have together, there can be some real fundamental change.

Bishop William Barber

Phil Mattera serves as Violation Tracker Project Director and Corporate Research Project Director at Good Jobs First. Mr. Mattera is a licensed private investigator; author of four books on business, labor and economics; and a long-time member of the National Writers Union. His blog on corporate research and corporate misbehavior is the Dirt Diggers Digest, and has written more than 70 critical company profiles for the Corporate Rap Sheets section of the Corporate Research Project website. He is co-author, with Siobhan Standaert, of the new report “The High Cost of Misconduct: Corporate Penalties Reach the Trillion-Dollar Mark”. 

This is a big problem with the Justice Department—it has this addiction to leniency agreements and it wants to give companies an opportunity not to have to plead guilty when there actually are criminal cases brought against them. So they offer them these strange deals—non-prosecution and deferred-prosecution agreements. And the theory is that the company is going to be so shaken up by the possibility of a criminal charge that they'll clean up their act, and they'll never do bad things again. But what we've seen over and over again is the companies get the leniency agreement and then they break the rules again. And sometimes the Justice Department responds by giving them another leniency agreement. So it turns the whole process into a farce. 

Phil Mattera

We're always interested in more transparency about both the misconduct and about enforcement actions. We feel that there's no justification for agencies to ever keep this information secret…I think there needs to be more pressure on companies, particularly high profile companies that have been involved in these offenses. A lot of companies seem to think that they pay their penalty, they just move on, and it's as if it's as if it never happened.

Phil Mattera

In Case You Haven’t Heard with Francesco DeSantis

News 6/5/24

1.  In Mexico, Claudia Sheinbaum has been elected president in a landslide. Sheinbaum is the hand-picked successor of Mexican president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, or AMLO, who is termed out but leaves office with an 80% approval rating, per Gallup. Sheinbaum is Mexico’s first woman president; she is also the country’s first Jewish president. In addition to years of service in government, Sheinbaum is an accomplished climate scientist who worked with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. During her campaign, Sheinbaum published a list of 100 commitments she will pursue as president. Front and center among these are climate-related goals. Sustainability magazine reports “[Sheinbaum] has committed to investing more than…$13 billion in new energy projects by 2030, focusing on wind and solar power generation and modernising hydroelectric facilities.” We urge the U.S. government to follow suit.

2. Stacy Gilbert, a senior civil military adviser for the U.S. State Department, resigned last Tuesday, alleging that “The state department falsified a report…to absolve Israel of responsibility for blocking humanitarian aid flows into Gaza,” per the Guardian. Gilbert claims “that report’s conclusion went against the overwhelming view of state department experts who were consulted.” As the article notes, this report was a high stakes affair. Had the State Department found that the Israeli government had violated international humanitarian law, and linked those violations to U.S.-supplied weapons, there would have been serious consequences regarding the legality of American military support. In addition to Gilbert, “Alexander Smith, a contractor for the US Agency for International Development… resigned on Monday…[saying] he was given a choice between resignation and dismissal after preparing a presentation on maternal and child mortality among Palestinians.”

3. Per the Jeruslam Post, “South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor affirmed…that the United States would be next if the International Criminal Court (ICC) is allowed to prosecute Israeli leadership.” Pandor “went on to claim that nations and officials who provide military and financial assistance for Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza ‘will be liable for prosecution…’ [and]…noted that a group of 140 international lawyers are currently working on a class action suit against non-Israelis, including South Africans, who have been serving in Israel’s military.” International law experts like Bruce Fein have previously warned that the United States’ material support for Israel during this genocidal campaign makes this country a co-belligerent in this war and therefore liable for prosecution by the ICC.

4. Liberal Israeli news outlet Haaretz has published a shocking report related to the recent revelations concerning Mossad’s intimidation campaign against the ICC. According to Haaretz’s report, the paper was “about to publish details of the affair” in 2022, when “security officials thwarted it.” Al Jazeera adds that the Haaretz journalist behind the story, Gur Megiddo was told during his meeting with an Israeli security official, that if he published, he “would suffer the consequences and get to know the interrogation rooms of the Israeli security authorities from the inside.” This story highlights how deeply Israel has descended into authoritarianism, seeking to bully and silence not only international watchdogs, but their own domestic journalists.

5. Prem Thakker of the Intercept is out with an outrageous story of censorship at elite law reviews. According to Mr. Thakker, “In November, human rights lawyer Rabea Eghbariah was set to be the first Palestinian published in the Harvard Law Review. Then his essay was killed. [On June 3rd], he became the first [Palestinian published] in the Columbia Law Review. Then the Board of Directors took the whole site down.” As I write this, the Columbia Law Review website still says it is “under maintenance.”

6. Lauren Kaori Gurley, Labor Reporter at the Washington Post, reports “16 [thousand] academic workers at UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Irvine will [go on] strike…according to their union… They will join 15 [thousand] workers already on strike at UCLA, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Davis over the university's response to pro-Palestine protests on campus.” We commend these academic workers for leveraging their most powerful tool – their labor – on behalf of their fellow students and those suffering in Palestine.

7. More Perfect Union reports “The FBI has raided landlord giant Cortland Management over algorithmic price-fixing collusion. Cortland is allegedly part of a bigger conspiracy coordinated by software firm RealPage to raise rents across the country through price-fixing and keeping apartments empty.” Paired with the recent oil price fixing lawsuit and the announcement from retailers that they are lowering prices on many consumer goods, a new picture of inflation is starting to emerge – one that has less to do with macroeconomic reality and more to do with plain old corporate greed.

8. Vermont has passed a new law making it the first state in the nation to demand that “fossil fuel companies…pay a share of the damage caused by climate change,” per AP. Per this report, “Under the legislation, the Vermont state treasurer, in consultation with the Agency of Natural Resources, would provide a report…on the total cost to Vermonters and the state from the emission of greenhouse gases from Jan. 1, 1995, to Dec. 31, 2024… [looking] at the effects on public health, natural resources, agriculture, economic development, housing and other areas.” Paul Burns of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group said of the law “For too long, giant fossil fuel companies have knowingly lit the match of climate disruption without being required to do a thing to put out the fire…Finally, maybe for the first time anywhere, Vermont is going to hold the companies most responsible for climate-driven floods, fires and heat waves financially accountable for a fair share of the damages they’ve caused.”

9. Following months of pressure and a probe led by Senator Bernie Sanders, Boehringer – one of the largest producers of inhalers – has announced they will cap out of pocket costs for the lifesaving devices at $35, per Common Dreams. Boehringer used to charge as much as $500 for an inhaler in the U.S., while the same product sold in France for just $7. Sanders, continuing this crusade, said "We look forward to AstraZeneca moving in the same direction…in the next few weeks, and to GlaxoSmithKline following suit in the coming months,” and added “We are waiting on word from Teva, the fourth major inhaler manufacturer, as to how they will proceed."

10. Finally, the Justice Department has unsealed an indictment charging Bill Guan, the Chief Financial Officer of the Epoch Times newspaper with “participating in a transnational scheme to launder at least…$67 million of illegally obtained funds.” The Epoch Times is the mouthpiece of a bizarre anti-Communist Chinese cult known as the Falun Gong, famous for their outlandish beliefs such as that proper mastery of qigong can be “used to develop the ability to fly, to move objects by telekinesis and to heal diseases,” per the New York Times. The Falun Gong is also the entity behind the Shen Yun performances and their ubiquitous billboards. In recent years, the Epoch Times has gone all-in on Right-wing propaganda and fake news, with close ties to the Trump White House and campaign, as the Guardian has detailed. We urge the Justice Department to pursue this indictment to the hilt and shut down this rag that has become a cancer within our republic.

This has been Francesco DeSantis, with In Case You Haven’t Heard.

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This content originally appeared on Ralph Nader Radio Hour and was authored by Ralph Nader.

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