Buy Me a Beer

Here's where I shamelessly beg for patronage. If you like what I'm doing, I dunno, maybe buy me a beer? I need your shares and tweets too! Thanks for reading.

Amount: 

That a former Monsanto scientist should find himself in charge of a specially-created post at the very journal that published two landmark studies questioning the safety of that company's products should surprise no one who is aware of the Monsanto revolving door. This door is responsible for literally dozens of Monsanto officials, lobbyists and consultants finding themselves in positions of authority in the government bodies that are supposedly there to regulate the company and its actions.

Civil asset forfeiture sounds like a a dry legal term, but it has a deeper impact on people’s lives and our justice system than you might expect. It’s a practice that threatens property rights, rewards discriminatory policing, and has interesting and unexpected connections with the violations of constitutional rights that have come to define the “war on terror.” Civil asset forfeiture refers to the process of law enforcement seizing property — like cars, money, or houses — suspected of being involved in, or paid for by, illicit activities. This occurs without a charge or conviction because bizarrely, civil forfeiture law names the property itself as the defendant in the lawsuit, rendering the owner’s innocence irrelevant. It is difficult if not impossible to challenge civil asset forfeiture, and police disproportionately apply this practice to poor people, immigrants, and people of color who are already disempowered by the legal system.

The Scholars Who Shill for Wall Street

Professor Todd Zywicki is vying to be the toughest critic of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the new agency set up by the landmark Dodd-Frank financial reform law to monitor predatory lending practices. In research papers and speeches, Zywicki not only routinely slams the CFPB’s attempts to regulate bank overdraft fees and payday lenders; he depicts the agency as a “parochial” bureaucracy that is “guaranteed to run off the rails.” He has also become one of the leading detractors of the CFPB’s primary architect, Elizabeth Warren, questioning her seminal research on medical bankruptcies and slamming her for once claiming Native American heritage to gain “an edge in hiring.”

Last December in San Francisco, a few score protestors made a loud demonstration at the offices of Blum Capital Partners in North Beach to protest the closure and sale of historic post offices. Escorted by police on motorcycles, they marched downtown to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein’s office. A common theme of the many speeches made that day was that Feinstein had somehow gotten her husband’s firm the contract to sell off the nation’s post offices. FactCheck.org checked the facts and announced that there was no evidence of any conflicts of interest with the CBRE contract.