News Releases

Why Does IRS Target Working Poor More than Billionaires?

CHUCK COLLINS, chuck@ips-dc.org or via Bob Keener, bobk@ips-dc.org
On the news of President Biden’s plan to increase the IRS’s enforcement efforts, reportedly targeting the wealthy, Collins, director of the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies, and author of the new book, The Wealth Hoarders; How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Billions, released the following statement:

“Taxes have become almost optional for the super-rich. President Biden’s plan is a welcome first step in reversing wealth hidding and tax avoidance by billionaires and multi-millionaires. You are four-times more likely to get audited if you use the Earned Income Credit – a tax break for working families – than if you’re a billionaire using a Grantor Retained Annuity Trust.

“This is not an accident. The super-rich — those with over $30 million and up — hire a veritable army of what social scientists call the ‘wealth defense industry’ to dodge taxes, stash wealth, and lobby for weak taxes. These are highly paid tax attorneys, wealth managers, and accountants, who specialize in creating complex shell games using offshore tax havens, dynasty trusts, anonymous shell companies, and bogus transactions. Billionaires pay them millions to hide trillions.

“Strengthening the IRS is a vital first step to economic recovery and reducing extreme wealth inequality. The future of the IRS may determine whether we become a society dominated by billionaires or a functioning democracy.”

Biden “Continues to Support Saudi Aggression on the People of Yemen”

AISHA JUMAAN, aisha@yemenfoundation.org@AishaJumaan
Jumaan is president of the Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation. She said today: “On Monday, I learned that the Biden administration continues to support Saudi aggression on the people of Yemen.”

Jumaan cited a little-reported recent quote from Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby: “The United States continues to provide maintenance support to Saudi Arabia’s Air Force given the critical role it plays in Saudi air defense and our longstanding security partnership.”

She added: “This is extremely disturbing because the U.S. acts like it regards its envoy Tim Lenderking as a mediator in the Saudi-led war on Yemen. But the U.S. government is not an impartial mediator.

“The Biden administration needs to delink the blockade from the political negotiations. We should NOT use the Yemeni population, who are being starved, as hostages to gain concessions from warring parties. Blockade on all points of entry to Yemen MUST be lifted. Aid alone can not support a population of 30 million.

UN Security Council Resolution 2216 is one sided, written by the Saudis with the support of the U.S., UK and France. It calls for Houthi surrender. The U.S. should support efforts to revise it, if we are to realize fair and just peace negotiations.

“The Saudis and the UAE and all Western powers that support them need to pay reparation to the Yemeni people.

“The U.S. government is more concerned about saving face for [Saudi monarch] MBS than they are about the 400,000+ starving Yemeni children.

“Yemeni have a rich history of conflict resolution and negotiations, we need all foreign interference out.”

Examining the Democratic Israeli Lobby: “Burn Gaza”

ALI ABUNIMAH, aliabunimah@me.com@AliAbunimah
Abunimah is founder of the Electronic Intifada and can address the events escalating in Jerusalem and Gaza. He can also address the scheduled Palestinian elections, which may be delayed yet again by Mahmoud Abbas, whose term as president, Abunimah notes, expired in 2009.

Abunimah recently wrote the piece “Israel Lobby’s ‘Death to the Arabs’ Damage Control” and tweeted: “Zionist settlers carrying out a pogrom against a Palestinian family in occupied Jerusalem. As the reporter says, you can hear the children screaming. This is everyday Zionism.”

He wrote on Friday: “Over the last few days, disturbing videos have shown mobs of Israeli Jewish youths rampaging through occupied East Jerusalem and attacking Palestinians.”

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported on Wednesday: “Every evening this week, dozens of young Jews walked around Jerusalem’s city center, chanting ‘Death to Arabs’ and attacking passersby with stones and tear gas.”

Abunimah noted that pro-Israeli groups including Democratic Majority for Israel, “a U.S. lobby group aligned with the ruling Democratic Party” condemned the marches.

But he notes that “DMFI has yet to condemn or repudiate its own board member Archie Gottesman, an advocate of genocide who in 2018 tweeted: ‘Gaza is full of monsters. Time to burn the whole place.'”

Abunimah also recently wrote the piece “J Street Brings Together Progressives, Israeli War Criminals.” His past books include One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse and The Battle for Justice in Palestine.

Hollywood Spins the ’60s

DAVID CLENNON, djjc123@earthlink.net@daveclennon
Clennon is an actor and activist who recently wrote three pieces about how Hollywood spins the 60s. The first is “Hollywood’s New Blackface,” which states: “I don’t believe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Fred Hampton would have been satisfied with the presence of more Black faces on our movie screens. The display of diversity has very little to do with a radical transformation of a political economy that screws so many to reward so few. …

In “How Hollywood Neuters the 60s: Sorkin’s ‘Trial of the Chicago 7’ Sentences American Radicalism to Oblivion,” Clennon writes: “If you need a dramatic hook, exaggerate the minor tactical differences of opinion among the good guys. And put your money on a far-out casting choice: Sacha Baron Cohen as ‘Abbie.’

“Instead of telling the story of eight political activists vs a corrupt, unjust legal system serving the Empire, the ‘Trial’ filmmakers exaggerate and fabricate tactical disagreements among the defendants themselves. As the two principal antagonists, they select the sober grassroots activist, Tom Hayden, and the madcap agitator, Abbie Hoffman, for conflict and contrast.”

And in “A Radical’s Complaint and Fan’s Appreciation of an Exceptional Actor,” Clennon writes: “It seems 2020 was the year for Hollywood to trivialize and marginalize the 1960s. To American citizens who participated in those struggles, ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ and ‘One Night in Miami…’ and ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ are an insult and an injury. … And, as one who lived through the period, my greatest grievance over ‘Chicago 7’ is this: The shabby writing, and the miscasting of Dave Dellinger marginalizes and diminishes one of the most admirable political organizers and moral leaders of the anti-war struggle. …

“Each of the four men [Ali, Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X] gets an epilogue, after the ‘One Night in Miami’ is over. In his epilogue, we see Ali receiving his new, Muslim name from the leader of the Nation of Islam.

“Why did the filmmakers choose that event to put their period on the story of Muhammad Ali? Would it have been too controversial for movie-goers to see, instead, a far more courageous act in Ali’s life? Would it have been too dangerous to show Ali publicly refusing to be conscripted into the U.S. military machine, when hundreds of thousands of American troops were slaughtering three million human beings in Vietnam? The young boxing champ we see in ‘Miami’ in 1964 made a heroic moral stand in 1967, and was banned from boxing for three of the most important years of a boxer’s career. (He also had a five-year prison term hanging over him, until the Supreme Court reversed his conviction in 1971.) If the filmmakers were serious about capturing something special in those four men, why did they omit the single most significant decision of Ali’s life? …

“I believe that ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ is inauthentic history. It features a false rendering of the real, historical, Fred Hampton. It makes me wonder, ‘What would Boots Riley have done with this tale?’

“Outsourcing. Off-shoring. Importing worker talent.

“In the last six years, Hollywood has put four historical African-American figures on screen:

Martin Luther King in ‘Selma’ (2015)
Harriet Tubman in ‘Harriet’ (2017)
Malcolm X in 2020’s ‘One Night in Miami…’
Fred Hampton in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah.’

“Every single one of these African-American characters has been portrayed by an Afro-British actor.

“Now, just as African-American characters — fictional and historical — are beginning to appear in movie and TV scripts, African-Americans have to compete with imported talent from the UK and other parts of the British Commonwealth to play those parts.

“Blackface on Black faces.

“It’s not just a trade imbalance, it’s a glaring moral deficit.”

Clennon asks, “What is Hollywood’s message to African-American actors? Black Livelihoods Don’t Matter?”

What Does the Conviction of Chauvin Mean?

MAX RAMEAU, afrimax@niainteractive.com
NETFA FREEMAN, netfa@ips-dc.org@Netfafree
Rameau and Freeman are writing a forthcoming book, Community Control Over Police, and wrote the piece “Community Control Vs. Defunding the Police: A Critical Analysis.”

Freeman said today: “There is a struggle to control the narrative of what the Chauvin conviction actually means. This struggle is between, on the one hand, the people whose actions in the streets nearly a year ago sent then president Trump fleeing to a bunker and forcing the prosecution of Chauvin. And on the other hand you have the ruling class establishment trying to uphold the illusion of shared interests and obscure notions of systemic change. The same President Biden claiming the country must ‘confront head-on systemic racism and the racial disparities in policing and the criminal justice system’ is the same Biden who has sped up the flow of military gear to police departments, exceeding in this first quarter of 2021 such transfers under his predecessor.

“Real justice for the Black and Brown working class against the repression of police requires a power shift. It requires putting such forces and all the resources allocated to it under the collective democratic control of those most directly impacted by this repression.”

Also, see recent Institute for Public Accuracy news release: “Did Biden’s Pick for Border Agency Cover-up Police Killings?

Did Amazon Shred the Law to Stop Worker Unionization?

PAUL GOTTINGER, paul.gottinger@gmail.com@PaulGottinger
Gottinger is a staff reporter at Reader Supported News which just published his piece: “How Much Did Amazon Spend to Crush the Union Drive in Alabama?” He writes: “Last week, Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, voted against forming a union after an almost two-month-long election that received significant national attention. The vote was 738 in favor of a union to 1,798 against it.

“But this isn’t over yet.

“The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union is challenging the election with the National Labor Relations Board over what the union describes as Amazon’s illegal interference in the election. The union alleges that Amazon put a ballot dropbox on warehouse property after the NLRB told Amazon that wasn’t allowed because it could be seen as an attempt to intimidate workers. The union will ask for a second election, claiming the last one was spoiled by Amazon’s illegal practices. …

“Amazon faces dozens of federal allegations from its facilities across the country for firing workers who organized protests and walk-outs demanding the company improve its COVID-19 safety best practices. Amazon employees at multiple facilities report fear of being open about their support for a union at work because they might be fired or harassed.

“Since February of 2020, there have been at least 37 charges filed with the NLRB against Amazon in 20 cities across the country.

“One tactic Amazon used to its advantage against the union campaigners was engineering extremely high turnover in Amazon facilities (averaging about 100 new employees a week). This meant union organizers constantly had to convince new employees of the merits of the union, while losing union-supporting employees. …

“In one particularly disturbing account, an Amazon employee named Jonathon Bailey, who organized a walkout over Covid-19 safety concerns, alleges he was ‘detained’ on his lunch break by an individual wearing a black camouflage vest who identified himself as former FBI. …

“Corporations spend $340 million per year on ‘union avoidance’ consultants in an attempt to deny workers their right to organize.

“Until the laws in the U.S. change to force corporations to be more transparent about their anti-union funding and tactics, and put strict limits on what they can do, organized labor will continue to face a tough road ahead.”

How Bill Gates Makes Intellectual Property More Important than Public Health

JAMIE LOVE, james.love@keionline.org
Love is director Knowledge Ecology International, and has been arguing that the Gates Foundation, with its sprawling financial ties, allowed it to assert influence early in the pandemic.

He is quoted in a just-published piece in The New Republic: “Few have observed Bill Gates’s devotion to monopoly medicine more closely than James Love, founder and director of Knowledge Ecology International, a Washington, D.C.–based group that studies the broad nexus of federal policy, the pharmaceutical industry, and intellectual property. Love entered the world of global public health policy around the same time Gates did, and for two decades has watched him scale its heights while reinforcing the system responsible for the very problems he claims to be trying to solve. The through-line for Gates has been his unwavering commitment to drug companies’ right to exclusive control over medical science and the markets for its products.

“‘Things could have gone either way,’ says Love, ‘but Gates wanted exclusive rights maintained. He acted fast to stop the push for sharing the knowledge needed to make the products — the know-how, the data, the cell lines, the tech transfer, the transparency that is critically important in a dozen ways. The pooling approach represented by C-TAP [WHO Covid-19 Technology Access Pool] included all of that. Instead of backing those early discussions, he raced ahead and signaled support for business-as-usual on intellectual property by announcing the ACT-Accelerator [Access to COVID-19 Tools] in March.’ …

“Technically housed within the WHO, the ACT-Accelerator is a Gates operation, top to bottom. It is designed, managed, and staffed largely by Gates organization employees. It embodies Gates’s philanthropic approach to widely anticipated problems posed by intellectual property–hoarding companies able to constrain global production by prioritizing rich countries and inhibiting licensing. Companies partnering with COVAX are allowed to set their own tiered prices. They are subject to almost no transparency requirements and to toothless contractual nods to ‘equitable access’ that have never been enforced. Crucially, the companies retain exclusive rights to their intellectual property. If they stray from the Gates Foundation line on exclusive rights, they are quickly brought to heel. When the director of Oxford’s Jenner Institute had funny ideas about placing the rights to its COVAX-supported vaccine candidate in the public domain, Gates intervened. As reported by Kaiser Health News, ‘A few weeks later, Oxford — urged on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — reversed course [and] signed an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices.’ …

“Gates can hardly disguise his contempt for the growing interest in intellectual property barriers. In recent months, as the debate has shifted from the WHO to the WTO, reporters have drawn testy responses from Gates that harken back to his prickly performances before congressional antitrust hearings a quarter-century ago. When a Fast Company reporter raised the issue in February, she described Gates ‘raising his voice slightly and laughing in frustration,’ before snapping, ‘It’s irritating that this issue comes up here. This isn’t about IP.’

“In interview after interview, Gates has dismissed his critics on the issue — who represent the poor majority of the global population — as spoiled children demanding ice cream before dinner. ‘It’s the classic situation in global health, where the advocates all of a sudden want [the vaccine] for zero dollars and right away,’ he told Reuters in late January. Gates has larded the insults with comments that equate state-protected and publicly funded monopolies with the ‘free market.’ ‘North Korea doesn’t have that many vaccines, as far as we can tell,’ he told The New York Times in November. (It is curious that he chose North Korea as an example and not Cuba, a socialist country with an innovative and world-class vaccine development program with multiple Covid-19 vaccine candidates in various stages of testing.)”

Wall St. Pumped Record $2.9 Billion to Washington Politicians, At Least

LISA DONNER, Carter Dougherty, carter@ourfinancialsecurity.org
Donner is executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, which just released the report “Wall Street Money in Washington.” She said today: “The enormous sums that Wall Street has at its disposal, combined with a broken campaign finance system, means there is little practical limit to the amount of money the financial services industry can inject into American debate on politics and policy. Year in and year out, this torrent of money gives Wall Street an outsized role in how we are governed, while driving and protecting policies that help this industry’s super wealthy amass even greater fortunes at the expense of the rest of us.”

The group found: “During the 2019-20 election cycle, Wall Street spent at least $2.9 billion on campaign contributions and lobbying to influence policy in Washington. … That total, which amounts to $4 million a day, shatters the previous record of $2 billion set in the 2015-16 presidential cycle.

“The highest-ever level of spending by Wall Street banks and financial services reflects the industry’s relentless push to influence decision-making, regardless of the party that controls Congress or the executive branch.”

The group states that “the financial sector spent an extraordinary amount of money in an ultimately unsuccessful effort to preserve Republican control of the Senate and maintain a divided government that would lock in deregulation and tax cuts enacted under President Trump and prevent financial reform legislation. …

“In this election cycle, individuals and entities associated with the financial sector reported making $4,971,464 in contributions to the eight Republican Senators and $38,512,126 to the 139 House members who voted to overturn the election (as reported by February 17, 2021), for a total of $43,483,590.” But the group also notes that “of the $982,775,706 in party-coded contributions by individuals and PACs associated with finance, 47 percent went to Republicans and 53 percent went to Democrats.” The group also stresses that because of dark money, these numbers are a bare minimum — they are simply unable to track all the cash involved.

Among the biggest spenders were: Bloomberg LP, National Association of Realtors, Blackstone Group, Charles Schwab & Co., American Bankers Association, Paloma Partners, Bain Capital, Renaissance Technologies and Wells Fargo.

Among the largest recipients: Senate Leadership Fund, Senate Majority, Independence USA PAC, House Majority PAC, Congressional Leadership Fund and America First Action, NextGen Climate Action and American Bridge 21st Century.

The U.S. Government Will Not Withdraw Forces from Afghanistan

New York Times headline claims: “Biden to Withdraw All Combat Troops From Afghanistan by Sept. 11” but deep in the piece acknowledges: “Instead of declared troops in Afghanistan, the United States will most likely rely on a shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives to find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic State threats, current and former American officials said.”

MATTHEW HOH, matthew_hoh@riseup.net
Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a member of the Eisenhower Media Initiative. He is a 100 percent disabled Marine combat veteran, and, in 2009, he resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the Afghan War by the Obama administration. He was featured on an accuracy.org news release last month: “Biden Rejection of Afghan Agreement Means the ‘Taliban Will Resume Killing Americans.’

“Comparisons of Afghanistan to Iraq in 2014, play on the specious fear that a U.S. exit from Afghanistan will result in a comeback of Islamic militant forces, are disingenuous, and ignore the reality of what actually happened in Iraq after 2011.

“The success of the Islamic State in Iraq in 2014 was not due to the absence of U.S. forces in Iraq, but rather was due to the brutal sectarianism of the Iraqi government against the Sunni minority, and, critically, the the direct and indirect support of the Islamic State in Syria by the United States and its allies. The U.S. believed it could control the Islamic State, and other jihadist groups in Syria, in order to overthrow the Assad government. The U.S. also believed the Islamic State would not cross the literal line in the sand that divides Syria and Iraq, the country that most of the Islamic State leadership came from. The Obama administration decided it could control the Islamic State for its purposes, which resulted in another example of catastrophic blowback in U.S. military and foreign policy.

“Further, the idea Kabul will resemble Saigon in 1975 is again specious fear mongering. The Taliban, of course, want power, but they are not suicidal. They understand a violent takeover of Kabul, akin to the Islamic State takeover of Mosul or al Qaeda’s takeover of Aleppo, will result in Kabul being completely devastated by foreign air forces, just as occurred in Afghanistan in 2001, and in multiple cities in Iraq and Syria from 2014-2017, including Mosul and Aleppo. That is an outcome the Taliban are aware of and cannot want.

“Additionally, the Taliban cannot win in Afghanistan without the support of the Pakistanis. The Pakistanis want a client state in Afghanistan, but they also do not want the instability and chaos of Afghanistan to continue, particularly if a Taliban takeover of Kabul results in renewed resumption of a U.S.-led escalation of the war similar to 2001.

“The Pakistanis have an incentive to see stability and a power sharing agreement occur in Afghanistan, especially if their ally is given a prominent role. This outcome necessitates the need for negotiations and a peace process, and cannot occur if the Taliban are only given the option of victory or defeat.

“This is the first formal peace process in Afghanistan in over 30 years in a war whose violence goes back to 1978, prior to the Soviet invasion. This peace process is dependent upon foreign forces leaving Afghanistan. Regardless of whether the 3500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines.

“A peace process is what the Afghan people need and deserve after so many decades of cruel and unimaginable suffering, much of which has been perpetrated and sustained by foreign forces and intentions. Violence has proven to be counterproductive and horrifically destructive, a peace process is the only chance for Afghanistan, its neighbors and the world.”

The Case Against Fukushima Releasing Over One Million Metric Tons of Radioactive Wastewater

CINDY FOLKERS, cindy@beyondnuclear.org
KEVIN KAMPS, kevin@beyondnuclear.org
Folkers is radiation and health hazard specialist with Beyond Nuclear. Kamps is the radioactive waste specialist for the group.

Folkers stated: “On Tuesday, the government of Japan announced its decision to intentionally discharge, directly into the Pacific Ocean, 1.25 million metric tons (330 million U.S. gallons) of radioactively contaminated wastewater, enough volume to fill 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The contaminated wastewater has accumulated over the past decade at the triple-reactor meltdown site of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It is currently contained in more than a thousand giant storage tanks onsite. The dumping will begin in a couple of years, and continue for decades.

“Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) data show that even twice-through filtration leaves the water 13.7 times more concentrated with hazardous tritium — radioactive hydrogen — than Japan’s allowable standard for ocean dumping, and about one million times higher than the concentration of natural tritium in Earth’s surface waters.

“TEPCO wants us to believe that the radioactive contamination in this water will be diluted in the ocean waters. But some of the radioactive isotopes will concentrate up the food chain in ocean life. And some of the contamination may not travel out to sea and can double back on itself. Dilution doesn’t work for radioactive isotopes, particularly tritium, which research shows can travel upstream.

“Tritium has a persistent hazardous life of about 123 to 246 years. Organically-bound tritium, can bio-accumulate in food, including seafood, and reside in our bodies for a decade, causing cancer, genetic damage, birth defects, and reproductive harm. Radioactive carbon-14, also present in the wastewater to be dumped, remains hazardous for 55,000 to 110,000 years. Women, children, and fetuses are significantly more susceptible to the hazards of radioactivity than are men.” See Folkers’ factsheet: “Tritium: a universal health threat released by every nuclear reactor.” See Folkers’ full press statement, as well as a list of relevant Beyond Nuclear and other backgrounders.

Kamps said today: “Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO), the Japanese government, and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are trying to justify the oceanic releases as being of ‘allowable’ or ‘permissible’ radioactive concentrations, that will then further dilute in the Pacific. But ‘allowable’ or ‘permissible’ does not mean ‘safe.’ The U.S. National Academy of Sciences have long held that any exposure to ionizing radioactivity carries a health risk, no matter how small the dose, and that such harm accumulates over a lifetime of exposure. Thus, ‘dilution is not the solution to radioactive pollution,’ as Dr. Rosalie Bertell of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health warned decades ago. Dilution is a delusion, when bio-accumulation, concentration, and magnification in the seafood supply is taken into consideration. Humans are at the top of that food chain, at risk of the most concentrated, hazardous internal exposures to ingested ionizing radiation.

“American spokesmen — such as former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Dale Klein, and former U.S. Department of Energy official Lake Barrett — tapped by TEPCO to advocate for this tritiated wastewater ocean dumping, should be ashamed of themselves. So too should the Biden administration State Department, which has expressed support for this ocean dumping scheme in order to advance its own irresponsible pro-nuclear power agenda, which it shares in common with the Japanese government and the IAEA.

“The claim is made that there is no more room for storing ever accumulating quantities of radioactive wastewater. So arbitrary property lines are taking precedence over what is an ongoing radioactive emergency? The nuclear power plant host towns of Futaba and Okuma are already largely uninhabitable due to extensive radioactive contamination, and in fact are being used to store very large quantities of bagged radioactively contaminated soil, leaves, and other materials gathered from across a broad region. The radioactive wastewater should be stored in robust containers on solid ground for as long as it remains hazardous, even if this means beyond the arbitrary confines of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant property line.” See Kamps’s full press statement, as well as additional factual background information.

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