In every common-sense, everyday way, a corporation is not a person. Corporations don’t date, don’t have families, don’t go catch a movie on Friday night. They also don’t go to jail when they do something criminal. But in the eyes of the law, corporations enjoy many of the same rights — including free speech and religious expression — and protections afforded to individuals.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) was the group responsible for pressuring Disney into offering refunds on Baby Einstein DVDs last October. Now the CCFC says Disney threatened the mental health center where the group had offices, and consequently the center booted them out in January.
After reading Martin’s unaccompanied minor air travel horror story yesterday, Aaron sent us this updated list of Delta Air Lines executive contact information from Elliott.org.
Here’s a testimonial from a former Bank of America customer assistance employee. She was fired on Monday for offering repayment plans to too many customers, even those who “deserved” the 29.99% APR for making late payments. After hearing her story, you might conclude that this job was never a good fit for her skills. The next time you run up against a dead-sounding CSR, though, remember that people like Jackie don’t make for profitable collections department employees, which is why they don’t stick around for long.
Everyone likes to hate on spammers, but they’re basically the houseflies of the Internet. Far more insidious and damaging are astroturfers and front groups—those corporate-funded, agenda-pushing people who don’t disclose who they’re really working for while they participate in online culture and the media. The Center for Media and Democracy has put together a list of tips to help you identify them from real grassroots movements, while Free Press has created a widget that reveals front groups for five large companies you frequently see on Consumerist.
Want to see the top 10 biggest bankruptcies in U.S. history so far? [Fortune]
Here’s a story that we missed late last week, probably because we were busy having nightmares about snake heads. Toyota lost $7.74 billion this past quarter. That’s more than GM (though less than GM pre-bailout), and much more than predicted. It’s the company’s first annual loss since Elvis was in the Army.
A well-respected lawyer has a simple message for corporations: stop suing disgruntled customers who start websites to air their grievances. Though William Pecau of Steptoe & Johnson thinks that online gripers are “self-righteous narcissists with time on their hands,” he also realizes that “shutting down a gripe site generally is not easy, often cannot be done, and often is counterproductive.” Pecau goes on to explain exactly why most online gripers are safe from over-hyped takedown notices…
Enjoy your weekend, and mind your pockets when you’re out and about.
ACTA—the misleadingly named “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”—is the worldwide copyright treaty that’s being negotiated behind closed doors, and that will create a sort of global DMCA if continues in its current state. Now Wikileaks has posted a draft of the treaty, and Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow gives his take:
Hope you enjoyed your tax burden this year, because you’re helping carry the weight of loophole-savvy corporations that enjoy many of the legal benefits of real, live human citizens, but exist in a weird, semi-tax-free world.
A 2004 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study found that 61% of American corporations, including 39% of large companies, paid no corporate income taxes between 1996 and 2000. Last year, corporations shouldered just 14.4% of the total U.S. tax burden, compared with about 50% in 1940.
The Supreme Court is currently considering whether to halve the punitive damages levied against Exxon for its massive 1989 oil spill from the Exxon Valdez tanker, from the current $2.5 billion to something more like $1 billion. Exxon claims the higher number amounts to excessive punishment. According to the New York Times, the decision may come down to a tie with four justices on either side; Justice Alito is not participating because he owns Exxon Mobile stock. The Exxon Valdez disaster “caused a 3,000-square-mile oil slick and still affects Alaska’s fisheries after nearly 19 years.”
Why play solitaire when you work for the utility company and can look up the mayor’s phone number? An Associated Press investigation reveals that casual snooping is widespread among employees who have access to large customer databases. According to one utility executive, it would be “difficult, if not impossible” to ferret out employees who use sensitive data for identity theft.
Tony Blair will join JPMorgan Chase & Co Inc, the third largest bank in the U.S., as a senior advisor. We wonder if Countrywide is courting President Bush for a similar position in 2009.
Militia-funding banana company Chiquita has announced a big restructuring plan that will eliminate 160 management jobs, including 21% of the top three tiers of management, for a savings of $60-80 million dollars in 2008. The company says it will use the savings to pay down debt. It doesn’t mention, however, that last month it was fined $25 million for financially supporting both left- and right-wing paramilitary groups in Colombia from 1997 to 2004.
Accusations are flying that Proctor and Gamble has hijacked Amex’s “Member’s Project,” in an attempt to sell water purifying technology. The project is a contest in which Amex will fund one charitable project (proposed by its members) to the tune of $5 million dollars.