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The Biggest Tax Scam Ever: How Corporate America Parks Profits Overseas, Avoiding Billions in Taxes

Democracy Now - Thu 07 38 AM

As Burger King heads north for Canada’s lower corporate tax rate, we speak to Rolling Stone contributing editor Tim Dickinson about his new article, "The Biggest Tax Scam Ever." Dickinson reports on how top U.S. companies are avoiding hundreds of billions of dollars by parking their profits abroad — and still receiving more congressionally approved incentives. Dickinson writes: "Top offenders include giants from high-tech (Microsoft, $76 billion); Big Pharma (Pfizer, $69 billion); Big Oil (Exxon­Mobil, $47 billion); investment banks (Goldman Sachs, $22 billion); Big Tobacco (Philip Morris, $20 billion); discount retailers (Wal-Mart, $19 billion); fast-food chains (McDonald’s, $16 billion) – even heavy machinery (Caterpillar, $17 billion). General Electric has $110 billion stashed offshore, and enjoys an effective tax rate of 4 percent – 31 points lower than its statutory obligation to the IRS."

Tax Dodging Whopper? Burger King Moves to Canada After Merger with Tim Hortons

Democracy Now - Thu 07 31 AM

This week Burger King announced it is buying the Canadian coffee-and-donut chain Tim Hortons for $11.4 billion, creating the third-largest fast-food chain in the world. The newly created firm will be headquartered in Canada where the corporate tax rate is lower than in the United States. While Burger King denies it was motivated by lower taxes, the deal has revived the debate over so-called tax inversions, whereby U.S. companies use mergers to move overseas and avoid U.S. tax rates. In July, the Obama administration estimated tax inversions could cost the United States as much as $17 billion per year. One investor who stands to profit from the Burger King deal is President Obama supporter Warren Buffett. He lent Burger King $3 billion at a lucrative 9 percent interest rate to help complete the deal. We are joined by James Henry, an economist, lawyer, and senior adviser with the Tax Justice Network. He is former chief economist at McKinsey & Company.

As Obama Settles on Nonbinding Treaty, "Only a Big Movement" Can Take on Global Warming

Democracy Now - Thu 07 12 AM

As international climate scientists warn runaway greenhouse gas emissions could cause "severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts," the Obama administration is abandoning attempts to have Congress agree to a legally binding international climate deal. The New York Times reports U.S. negotiators are crafting a proposal that would not require congressional approval and instead would seek pledges from countries to cut emissions on a voluntary basis. This comes as a new U.N. report warns climate change could become "irreversible" if greenhouse gas emissions go unchecked. If global warming is to be adequately contained, it says, at least three-quarters of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. We speak to 350.org founder Bill McKibben about why his hopes for taking on global warming lie not in President Obama’s approach, but rather in events like the upcoming People’s Climate March in New York City, which could mark the largest rally for climate action ever. "The Obama administration, which likes to poke fun at recalcitrant congressmen, hasn’t been willing to really endure much in the way of political pain itself in order to slow things down," McKibben says. "The rest of the world can see that. The only way we’ll change any of these equations here or elsewhere is by building a big movement — that’s why September 21 in New York is such an important day."

Is Ferguson Feeding on the Poor? City Disproportionately Stops, Charges and Fines People of Color

Democracy Now - Wed 07 47 AM

As the police killing of Michael Brown has focused global attention on the racial divide in the counties in and surrounding St. Louis, Missouri, a new report may explain why residents’ mistrust of the police runs so deep. It shows how a large part of the revenue for these counties comes from fines paid by African-American residents who are disproportionately targeted for traffic stops and other low-level offenses. In Ferguson, the fines and fees are actually the city’s second-largest source of income, which is expected to generate $2.7 million in fiscal year 2014. We speak with Thomas Harvey, executive director of ArchCity Defenders and co-author of their new report, which has been widely cited — including in a stunning chart in Monday’s New York Times that shows how Ferguson issued on average nearly three warrants per household last year — the highest number of warrants in the state, relative to its size. "What my clients have told me since the first day I’ve ever represented anybody is, this is not about public safety, it’s about the money," Harvey says. We also hear about the impact of the police harassment and ticketing from George Fields, who was among the local residents lined up for Michael Brown’s funeral on Monday in St. Louis.

NSA Creates Google-Like Search Engine to Help Other Agencies Access Collected Phone, Email Records

Democracy Now - Wed 07 32 AM

A new report by The Intercept news site reveals the National Security Agency is secretly providing troves of data to nearly two dozen government agencies using a "Google-like" search engine. Documents from Edward Snowden provide proof that for years the NSA has made data directly available to domestic law enforcement agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration and FBI. The search tool, known as ICReach, contains information on both foreigners and millions of U.S. citizens who have not been accused of wrongdoing. It is designed to share more than 850 billion records — that is more than twice the number of stars in the Milky Way. We speak with Ryan Gallagher, The Intercept reporter who broke the story. We also ask Gallagher about his report on how the U.S. military has banned all employees from reading The Intercept and has begun blocking the website on work computers, purportedly because it has published classified material. "That kind of policy in the age of Manning, in the age of Snowden, just is totally archaic, and it doesn’t fit the modern world," Gallagher says. "You can have a situation where an intelligence analyst in the government with a top-secret security clearance is in a position that they can’t read public news reports."

"The Damage is Beyond Imagination in Gaza": Journalist Mohammed Omer on Ceasefire Deal & Rebuilding

Democracy Now - Wed 07 10 AM

Israelis and Palestinians have agreed to an indefinite ceasefire, ending Israel’s 50-day assault on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian health officials say 2,139 people, most of them civilians — including more than 490 children — were killed in the Israeli offensive. Israel’s death toll stood at 64 soldiers and six civilians. The ceasefire deal was mediated by Egyptian officials in Cairo and took effect on Tuesday evening. It calls for an immediate cessation of hostilities, an opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt, and a widening of the territory’s fishing zone in the Mediterranean. Live from Gaza City, we are joined by the award-winning Palestinian journalist Mohammed Omer. "There are more and more people in the different parts of the Gaza Strip who are trying to resume their life and just bring it back to normal, but I must say that the damage is beyond imagination," Omer says. "We are talking about thousands of homes that have been completely and partially demolished, and over 130 mosques and over 140 schools."

Vijay Prashad: 2011 NATO Bombing of Libya Led to Rise of Militias Now Fighting for Oil-Rich Land

Democracy Now - Tue 07 40 AM

Libya is experiencing its most intense fighting since the 2011 NATO-backed campaign to remove Muammar Gaddafi. On Monday, the Libyan Parliament that was replaced in an election in June reconvened and chose an Islamist-backed deputy as the new prime minister. This now leaves Libya with two rival leaders and assemblies, each backed by armed factions. Meanwhile, The New York Times has revealed Egypt and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes twice in the last week against Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli. Despite the strikes, the Islamist militants managed to solidify control of the capital of Tripoli by taking over the main airport. "[The U.S. and NATO] bombed the country and opened the door for the different militias to now compete against each other," says Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College. "So the day Gaddafi was killed, from then onwards, the militias have basically been at each other’s throats."

There's Something Wrong in America: Michael Brown's Funeral Sparks Calls for an Enduring Movement

Democracy Now - Tue 07 26 AM

More than 2,500 people filled the sanctuary of Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis for Michael Brown’s funeral. Another 2,000 packed into overflow rooms. Speakers included Rev. Al Sharpton, attorney Benjamin Crump and Brown’s cousin, Ty Pruitt. "America is going to have to come to terms with, there’s something wrong that we have money to give military equipment to police forces, but we don’t have money for training and money for public education and money to train our children," Sharpton said.

"There Will Be Justice": Mourners Speak Outside Michael Brown's Funeral in St. Louis

Democracy Now - Tue 07 13 AM

Thousands of people lined up to pay their respects at Michael Brown’s funeral on Monday in St. Louis, Missouri. The killing of the 18-year-old African American by a white police officer in Ferguson has sparked weeks of protest and conversations about race, both around the country and in the local community. Democracy Now!’s Aaron Maté was in St. Louis and spoke with mourners as they filed into the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church. "I know about Martin Luther King, I know about Emmett Till, but I am actually living something that should have stopped years and years ago," says local resident Anne Hamilton. "We just want, as African Americans, to be treated fairly and to be given the same advantages." St. Louis resident Elwood Harris responds to the protests, which have at times involved looting. "What else can we do? We took the Martin Luther King approach, protesting and peace, but there is no peace, and there is no justice," Harris says. "But there will be justice in this case, I really do believe."

Hip-Hop Voices Talib Kweli & Rosa Clemente in Ferguson, "Ground Zero" for Police Brutality Struggle

Democracy Now - Mon 07 46 AM

Mourners are gathering in St. Louis today for the funeral of Michael Brown, the unarmed African-American teenager killed by a white police officer on August 9. His father, Michael Brown Sr., has requested a day of silence and peace after two weeks of nightly protests in Ferguson over the police killing of his 18-year-old son. We turn now to two well-known voices from the hip-hop community who have joined the protests in Ferguson. Talib Kweli is a world renowned hip-hop artist. Rosa Clemente is a longtime activist and former director of the Hip Hop Caucus. In 2008, she was the Green Party’s vice-presidential nominee. "The fact that he’s someone who could be my son, fact that he’s someone who could be me," Kweli said, "fact that he’s someone who I relate to on a lot of levels, being a black man and my experience in America, it just really touched me in a way that the news stories couldn’t capture."

"I Can't Breathe": NYC March over Chokehold Death of Eric Garner Protests Police Violence Nationwide

Democracy Now - Mon 07 32 AM

On Saturday, thousands marched in Staten Island, New York, to protest the death of Eric Garner, who died on July 17 after police placed him in a chokehold and then pinned him to the ground. At the march, demonstrators chanted "I can’t breathe!" referring to the 11 times Eric Garner said that as he was held down by New York City Police Department officers. Many have called for the officers in the case to be brought to justice. The death of the 43-year-old African-American father of six has sparked a larger national debate about the NYPD’s use of excessive force and its policy of cracking down on low-level offenses. It also comes as demonstrations have erupted nationwide over other police killings of unarmed men. The protesters in Staten Island chanted "Hands up, don’t shoot!" in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Missouri, who are protesting the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown. "We need to show the community that these police officers need to be disciplined and they need to be sentenced, for all that they caused," says 12-year-old Imani Morrias. "They caused so much pain."

Blowback: Vijay Prashad on How Islamic State Grew Out of U.S Invasion of Iraq, Destruction of Nation

Democracy Now - Mon 07 08 AM

Militants from Islamic State stormed an air base in northeast Syria on Sunday, capturing it from government forces. Fighters from Islamic State have seized three Syrian military bases in the area in recent weeks. This comes as the Pentagon considers expanding its airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq to include targets inside Syria. Meanwhile, another journalist who had been kidnapped in Syria, Peter Theo Curtis, has been freed after two years in captivity by the Nusra Front — another militant group in Syria. Calls have been growing for the United States to attack Syria since Islamic State posted video showing the kidnapped American journalist James Foley being beheaded. Foley was captured in Syria in 2012. Meanwhile in Iraq, officials say suicide bomber targeted a Shiite mosque in Baghdad today, killing at least 12 people. We speak to Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College. He is the author of several books, including "Arab Spring, Libyan Winter" and, most recently, "The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South."

Dr. Paul Farmer on African Ebola Outbreak: Growing Inequality in Global Healthcare at Root of Crisis

Democracy Now - Fri 07 13 AM

As the death toll from the West African Ebola outbreak nears 1,400, two American missionaries who received experimental drugs and top-notch healthcare have been released from the hospital. We spend the hour with Partners in Health co-founder Dr. Paul Farmer discussing what can be done to stop the epidemic and the need to build local healthcare capacity, not just an emergency response. "The Ebola outbreak, which is the largest in history that we know about, is merely a reflection of the public health crisis in Africa, and it’s about the lack of staff, stuff and systems that could protect populations, particularly those living in poverty, from outbreaks like this or other public health threats," says Farmer, who has devoted his life to improving the health of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. He is a professor at Harvard Medical School and currently serves as the special adviser to the United Nations on community-based medicine. He has written several books including, "Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues."

A War on Gaza's Future? Israeli Assault Leaves 500 Kids Dead, 3,000 Injured, 373,000 Traumatized

Democracy Now - Thu 07 37 AM

As the Israeli offensive in Gaza resumes, we look at the impact the military campaign has had on the children of Gaza. More than 467 Palestinian children have died since July. That is more than the combined number of child fatalities in the two previous conflicts in Gaza. According to the World Health Organization, more than 3,000 children have been injured, of which an estimated 1,000 will suffer from a lifelong disability. The United Nations estimates at least 373,000 children require direct and specialized psychosocial support. And, based on the total number of adults killed, there may be up to 1,500 children orphaned. Gazan children’s right to an education has also been severely compromised with at least 25 schools reportedly damaged so severely that they can no longer be used. We speak to Pernille Ironside, chief of UNICEF’s Gaza field office.

"There isn’t a single family in Gaza who hasn’t experienced personally death, injury, the loss of their home, extensive damage, displacement," Ironside says. "The psychological toll that has on a people, it just cannot be overestimated, and especially on children."

"Negro Spring": Ferguson Residents, Friends of Michael Brown Speak Out for Human Rights

Democracy Now - Thu 07 14 AM

As peaceful protests continued Wednesday in Ferguson, Missouri, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder arrived in the city to meet with residents and FBI agents investigating the police shooting of Michael Brown. Democracy Now! traveled to Ferguson this week and visited the site where the 18-year-old Brown was killed. We spoke to young people who live nearby, including some who knew him personally. "He fell on his knees. Like, ’Don’t shoot.’ [The police officer] shot him anyway in the eye, the head, and four times down here," said one local resident Rico Like. "Hands up, don’t shoot is all I got to say. RIP Mike Brown."