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The Illinois-based firm, privately held OSI Group Inc., that supplied the questionable meat products to McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) and KFC restaurants owned by Yum! Brands Inc. (NYSE: YUM) has been suspended from supplying further products to the two fast-food giants. For its part, OSI said it is “appalled” by the Chinese report. Like McDonald’s and KFC, OSI has apologized to its customers and said it takes full responsibility for the situation while promising swift action to fix it. KFC and McDonald’s have found other sources of supply, according to a report. Chinese regulators have closed down a local meat supplier following a TV report that the company was mixing meat that had passed its expiration date with fresh meat and using other unsanitary practices. The supplier provided meat to both McDonald’s Corp. (NYSE: MCD) and Yum! Brands Inc.’s (NYSE: YUM) KFC restaurants. The two firms have issued an apology and said that they will stop using the supplier. Oh, if it were that easy. Read more...

reading

Walking into a barbershop, you typically find the room filled with engaging conversation, some music, and maybe even a television set.  But not in one Riviera Beach barber shop, reported West Palm Beach TV. Royal Touch Barber Shop harbors a multitude of books and encourages young customers to read.  Boys may pick up a book and begin reading while waiting for an available barber, and they can continue reading while receiving a fresh cut. The shop owner, Reggie Ross, said he promotes reading in his shop in an attempt to influence the community’s literacy and low graduation rates. Read more...

Walk through your local grocery store these days and you'll see the words "all natural” emblazoned on a variety of food packages.  The label is lucrative, for sure, but in discussing the natural label few have remarked on what's really at stake — the natural ingredients and the companies themselves. If you take a look at some of the favorite organic and natural food brands, you'll see they're owned by some of the largest conventional companies in the world. Coca-Cola owns Odwalla and Honest Tea. PepsiCo. owns Naked Juice. General Mills owns Lara Bar. Natural and organic food acquisitions aside, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and General Mills all opposed California's GMO Proposition 37 that would require GMO food labeling. Today, some of those companies touting an all-natural list of grains and sugars can be seen changing the ingredients in their natural food products as the natural foods' distribution channels are pushed to larger and larger markets. Read more...

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 21:50

The Immorality Of Paper Money

One of today’s most common economic fallacies is that the soaring stock market is evidence of economic recovery. Nothing could be further from the truth. Stocks have almost tripled since the 2008 collapse, but that stock growth stems from Federal Reserve money printing (inflation) and near zero interest rates. The Fed’s balance sheet has grown more than fourfold since 2008 — to $4.3 trillion — and was used to prop up the “too big to fails.” That money had to go somewhere. It has found its way into the stock market because U.S. Treasuries are paying less than the rate of inflation; and corporate bonds, certificates of deposit and other fixed-income products pay even less. This and price inflation (currency devaluation) is fueling the rise, not positive economic growth or common sense. Read more...

Why Is Comcast So Bad

Comcast didn’t earn its reputation as America’s Worst Company overnight — it took years and years of hard work. From offering customers ridiculously overpriced bundle packages, to having the highest fees among any of its competitors, to offering some of the absolute worst customer service of any company in the United States, Comcast has toiled away tirelessly to perfect its craft of angering its own customers, who have little choice but to stick with the cable giant due to the sorry state of America’s home broadband market. However, just because it’s already one of the two most hated companies in America doesn’t mean Comcast is going to stop innovating new ways to enrage its subscribers. TechCrunch brings us word of an amazing customer service call between a Comcast rep and former Engadget editor-in-chief Ryan Block, whose wife had been trying in vain to get Comcast to cancel their home service before Block took over the phone and decided to start recording the call. Read more...

Wednesday, 16 July 2014 20:43

Citigroup: The Original Gangsta

Barack Obama’s Justice Department on Monday announced that Citigroup would pay $7 billion in fines, a move that will avoid a humiliating trial dealing with the seamy financial products the bank had marketed to an unsuspecting public, causing vast damage to the economy. Citigroup is the too-big-to-fail bank that was allowed to form only when Bill Clinton signed legislation reversing the sensible restraints on Wall Street instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt to avoid another Great Depression. Those filled with Clinton nostalgia these days might want to reflect back on how truly destructive was his legacy for hardworking people throughout the world who lost so much due to the financial shenanigans that he made legal. Read more...

(L-R) Russian President Vladimir Putin, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Chinese President Xi Jinping and South African President Jacob Zuma talk at a group photo session during the 6th BRICS summit in Fortaleza July 15, 2014. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Leaders of the BRICS emerging market nations launched a $100 billion development bank and a currency reserve pool on Tuesday in their first concrete step toward reshaping the Western-dominated international financial system.

The bank aimed at funding infrastructure projects in developing nations will be based in Shanghai and India will preside over its operations for the first five years, followed by Brazil and then Russia, leaders of the five-country group announced at a summit.

They also set up a $100 billion currency reserves pool to help countries forestall short-term liquidity pressures. The long-awaited bank is the first major achievement of the BRICS countries - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - since they got together in 2009 to press for a bigger say in the global financial order created by Western powers after World War Two and centered on the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Read more...

10 Corporations Control What We Eat

From our fields to our forks, huge corporations have an overwhelming amount of power over our food supply every step of the way.  Right now there are more than 313 million people living in the United States, and the job of feeding all of those people is almost entirely in the hands of just a few dozen monolithic companies.  If you do not like how our food is produced or you don't believe that it is healthy enough, it isn't very hard to figure out who is to blame.  These mammoth corporations are not in business to look out for the best interests of the American people.  Rather, the purpose of these corporations is to maximize wealth for their shareholders.  So the American people end up eating billions of pounds of extremely unhealthy food that is loaded with chemicals and additives each year, and we just keep getting sicker and sicker as a society.  But these big corporations are raking in big profits, so they don't really care. Read more...

Julian and Alita Knott: From Alita Knott's Public Facebook Page

Since December of last year, JPMorgan Chase has been experiencing tragic, sudden deaths of workers on a scale which sets it alarmingly apart from other Wall Street mega banks. Adding to the concern generated by the deaths is the recent revelation that JPMorgan has an estimated $180 billion of life insurance in force on its current and former workers. Making worldwide news last week was the violent deaths of JPMorgan technology executive Julian Knott and his wife, Alita, ages 45 and 47, respectively, in Jefferson Township, New Jersey. However, two other recent, sudden deaths of technology workers at JPMorgan have gone unreported by the media. Read more...

T-Mobile

U.S.-based mobile phone carrier T-Mobile is the subject of a new federal lawsuit alleging fraudulent charges on customers' bills. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says T-Mobile unlawfully charged wireless subscribers bogus fees for services they never signed up for, and then deceptively tried to hide these charges on their bills, pocketing millions of dollars in the process. According to the Associated Press, federal regulators had been unsuccessful in negotiating with T-Mobile prior to filing the suit, which accuses the nation's third-largest wireless carrier of scamming customers. Recurrent charges for so-called "premium" services like horoscope texts and funky ringtones were quietly embedded within customers' bills, alleges the agency, with no clear indication of their presence. Read more...

Former Navy SEAL and Blackwater founder Erik Prince has a new security venture. This time he is helping Chinese firms to “take the drama out of Africa” by consulting on how the businesses should establish themselves and operate throughout the continent. Africa has become a major target for Chinese investment to secure access to the continent’s vast natural resources. Prince’s new firm, Frontier Services Group (FSG), provides “logistics, aviation and risk management services to firms that want to set up in Africa.” Prince sold his stake in Blackwater in 2010 which is now known as Academi. FSG is headquartered in Hong Kong and works closely with one of Communist China’s state-owned enterprises, CITIC Group. CITIC Group is a state-owned investment group worth approximately $12 billion with 44 subsidiaries and owns banks in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and the United States. At one time CITIC was in talks to acquire Morgan Stanley. Read more...

Greenline Coffee sign at small-business incubator

Sunshine Gospel Ministries, an independent nonprofit that will open a small-business incubator in the Woodlawn community next month, will announce Thursday a $600,000 commitment from Madison Dearborn Partners managing director Jim Perry to expand its work. Of the total, $100,000 is an upfront pledge and the remaining $500,000 must be matched by Sunshine, said Joel Hamernick, Sunshine’s executive director, in an exclusive interview with the Sun-Times. Read more...

Major ice cream manufacturer, Ben & Jerry's, has announced a major shift in how they produce their flavors. They are shifting all their ice cream flavors away from containing genetically modified ingredients (corn, soy, and sugar beets) and have already made headway with 14 of their most popular varieties. Read more...

More kabuki?

As most Fed watchers know, last week was interesting because Janet Yellen, speaking at IMF came out and said something quite surprising.  In a nutshell, she said “It’s not the Fed’s job to pop bubbles”.   While many market participants immediately took this to mean, “To the moon, Alice!” and started buying equities hand over fist, there’s another possible explanation for Mrs. Yellen’s proclamation of unwillingness:  The Fed could be preparing to do exactly what it said it wouldn’t. Read more...

Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 12.26.31 PM

Want to hear the worst idea in the history of horrible ideas? How about we take the industry responsible for destroying the U.S. economy and wrecking the lives of tens of millions of people, and then allow it to create a “government-industry cyber war council.” It appears that trillions in taxpayer bailouts simply wasn’t enough for Wall Street. Recognizing that it can seemingly get whatever it wants whenever it wants, the industry is now positioning itself to overtly control U.S. “cyber” policy. What could go wrong? Read more...

Washington can’t stop lying. Don’t be convinced by last Thursday’s job report that it is your fault if you don’t have a job. Those 288,000 jobs and 6.1% unemployment rate are more fiction than reality. In his analysis of the June Labor Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, John Williams (www.ShadowStats.com) wrote that the 288,000 June jobs and 6.1% unemployment rate are “far removed from common experience and underlying reality.” Payrolls were overstated by “massive, hidden shifts in seasonal adjustments,” and the Birth-Death model added the usual phantom jobs. Williams reports that “the seasonal factors are changed each and every month as part of the concurrent seasonal-adjustment process, which is tantamount to a fraud,” as the changes in the seasonal factors can inflate the jobs number. While the headline numbers always are on a new basis, the prior reporting is not revised so as to be consistent. Read more...

FDIC Banking Versus Dark Pool Trading

On June 2 of this year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a self-regulator of Wall Street’s broker-dealers, dropped a bombshell. For the first time, FINRA released trading data for Wall Street’s dark pools – unregistered stock exchanges that the SEC recklessly allows to trade stocks without making the bids and offers public, along with many other details. The bombshell, that mainstream business media has yet to comprehend, was that the same mega Wall Street banks whose share prices crashed in the 2008 financial crisis are today not only running dark pools for stock trading but they’re trading the stock of their own corporate parents – to the tune of tens of millions of shares a week. Those Wall Street banks include JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Citigroup. What could possibly go wrong in this arrangement? Read more...

Between shelling out hundreds of dollars in airfare and forking over even more for ancillary fees, travelers are already spending more than they have in years for plane tickets. And that’s about to get worse. Starting on July 21, the Transportation Security Administration — you know, the folks who are in charge of confiscating your shampoo at the airport and taking you aside for an “additional screening” — will more than double the mandatory fee they charge many passengers and will no longer cap these fees. Under the old law, the fee, which is used for security, was $2.50 for each leg of a flight with a $5 cap on each one-way trip or a $10 cap on each round trip. But beginning July 21, the fee is $5.60 for each leg of a flight and that is not capped; if your layover is more than four hours on a domestic flight or 12 hours for international destinations, that counts as a second leg of the flight and you will be charged an additional fee. While that may not sound like a lot, consider what this could mean for your wallet. If you book a domestic round trip and have two total connections (and the layover is four hours or more during each connection), you’ll end up shelling out nearly $25 to the TSA. That jacks up the average domestic airline ticket price by more than 5%. Read more...

Wednesday, 02 July 2014 21:05

Vacant Lots On Chicago Blocks, Just $1 Each

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Chicago is practically giving away land: vacant lots for just $1 each. The catch? To buy one, you must already own a home on the same block. Like many U.S. cities, Chicago has struggled with what to do with a growing number of empty lots in the wake of the foreclosure crisis. Efforts to develop affordable housing or urban farms have had some mixed results. So Chicago officials and community development advocates hope the vacant lot program can help spark a renewal in some of the city’s most blighted areas. Read more...

A man with a long history of keeping big bank secrets safe from the public’s prying eyes has denied the appeal filed by Wall Street On Parade to obtain specifics about the worker deaths upon which JPMorgan Chase pockets the life insurance money each year.

According to its financial filings, as of December 31, 2013, JPMorgan held $17.9 billion in Bank-Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) assets, a dark corner of the insurance market that allows banks to take out life insurance policies on their workers, secretly pocket the death benefits, and receive generous tax perks subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer. According to experts, JPMorgan could potentially hold upwards of $179 billion of life insurance in force on its current and former workers, based on the size of its BOLI assets. Read more...

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