Corporate Corruption Media ArticlesExcerpts of Key Corporate Corruption Media Articles in Major Media
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Strong sales of its COVID-19 vaccine and other medicines helped Pfizer nearly double its second-quarter revenue and boost its profit an impressive 59%, beating Wall Street expectations and leading the drug giant to sharply hike its 2021 sales and profit forecasts. Amid the surging coronavirus pandemic, the COVID-19 vaccine became Pfizer's top seller, bringing in nearly half its revenue – $7.84 billion from direct sales and revenue split with its partner, Germany's BioNTech. Pfizer now anticipates revenue from the two-dose vaccine this year to reach $33.5 billion for the 2.1 billion doses it's contracted to provide by year end. That doesn't include a contract struck last week to provide an additional 200 million doses to the U.S. The New York company on Wednesday disclosed that ongoing testing of a booster shot, given six months after the second vaccine dose, showed it raised antibody levels against the more-transmissible Delta variant to 11 times higher in older people and five times higher in younger people, compared to levels after two doses. Pfizer has delivered more than 1 billion doses of the vaccine globally and expects to make 3 billion doses this year, with many more going to low- and middle-income countries from now through year's end. Most doses of all the COVID-19 vaccines produced in Europe and the U.S. so far have gone to wealthy countries.
Note: When public health is at stake, should private companies be making huge profits like this? Read more in this information article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma profiteering and coronavirus vaccines from reliable major media sources.
Johnson & Johnson is exploring a plan to offload liabilities from widespread Baby Powder litigation into a newly created business that would then seek bankruptcy protection. During settlement discussions, one of the health-care conglomerate's attorneys has told plaintiffs' lawyers that J&J could pursue the bankruptcy plan, which could result in lower payouts for cases that do not settle beforehand. Plaintiffs' lawyers would initially be unable to stop J&J from taking such a step. J&J faces legal actions from tens of thousands of plaintiffs alleging its Baby Powder and other talc products contained asbestos and caused cancer. The plaintiffs include women suffering from ovarian cancer and others battling mesothelioma. Should J&J proceed, plaintiffs who have not settled could find themselves in protracted bankruptcy proceedings with a likely much smaller company. Future payouts to plaintiffs would be dependent on how J&J decides to fund the entity housing its talc liabilities. J&J is now considering using Texas's "divisive merger" law, which allows a company to split into at least two entities. For J&J, that could create a new entity housing talc liabilities that would then file for bankruptcy to halt litigation. The maneuver is known among legal experts as a Texas two-step bankruptcy. A 2018 Reuters investigation found J&J knew for decades that asbestos, a known carcinogen, lurked in its Baby Powder and other cosmetic talc products.
Note: Can we trust this company with vaccines? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Last week the hospital bill finally came. The cost of an uncomplicated vaginal birth? $37,617.69. The bulk of the charge was for three nights' "room and board" in a semi-private room (containing two beds separated by a curtain) which was $10,350 a night. Our health insurance covers about $31,000 – leaving us with a balance of around $6,000. Although, of course, that doesn't make the ridiculously high prices OK. We're still covering the costs indirectly via our enormous insurance premiums which, we were recently informed by Oxford Health, part of UnitedHealth Group, are going to go up by 16% next year. The UnitedHealth Group's chief executive made over $50m in salary, bonus and stock option compensation in 2019. It's not just the extortionate prices in America's health system that are problematic. It's the lack of transparency. My partner called our insurance company multiple times before the birth to try to find out how much we would expect to pay. We were told on each occasion that we wouldn't have to pay anything. Which was obviously baloney. America's healthcare system isn't just a nightmare to navigate – it's inefficient and inequitable. The US may spend more on healthcare as a share of the economy than any other developed country, but it also has the highest maternal mortality rate in the developed world and maternal deaths have been increasing since 2000. And Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women.
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A colonoscopy might cost you or your insurer a few hundred dollars – or several thousand, depending on which hospital or insurer you use. Long hidden, such price variations are supposed to be available in stark black and white under a Trump administration price transparency rule that took effect at the start of this year. It requires hospitals to post a range of actual prices – everything from the rates they offer cash-paying customers to costs negotiated with insurers. While imperfect and potentially of limited use right now to the average consumer, the disclosures that are available illustrate the huge differences in prices – nationally, regionally and within the same hospital. Prices are all over the map. In Virginia, for example, the average price of a diagnostic colonoscopy is $2,763, but the range across the state is from $208 to $10,563. Patients can try to find the price information themselves by searching hospital websites, but even locating the correct tab on a hospital's website is tricky. But if you do want to try, here's one tip: "You can Google the hospital name and the words 'price transparency' and see where that takes you," says Caitlin Sheetz, director and head of analytics at the consulting firm ADVI Health. When it comes to compliance, "we're seeing the range of the spectrum," says Jeffrey Leibach, a partner at the consulting firm Guidehouse, which found earlier this year that about 60% of 1,000 hospitals surveyed had posted at least some data, but 30% had reported nothing at all.
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The chairman of a House subcommittee is demanding that executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell, Chevron and other major oil and gas companies testify before Congress about the industry's decades-long effort to wage disinformation campaigns around climate change. Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, said Friday he was prepared to use subpoena power to compel the companies to appear before lawmakers if they don't do so voluntarily. The move comes a day after a secretive video recording was made public in which a senior Exxon lobbyist said the energy giant had fought climate science through "shadow groups" and had targeted influential senators in an effort to weaken President Biden's climate agenda. "The video was appalling," Mr. Khanna said in an interview on Friday. He called it the latest evidence of the fossil fuel industry's efforts to "engage in climate denialism and to manipulate public opinion and to exert undue influence in shaping policy in Congress." Mr. Khanna said the House Oversight and Reform Subcommittee on the Environment, which he chairs, will issue letters next week to top executives at Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron and other oil and gas companies and trade groups demanding documents and testimony. One major target of the panel's inquiry are dark money groups that have been funded by fossil fuel companies to disseminate falsehoods about climate science and policy solutions. The hearing is expected to be held in the fall.
Note: Learn more in this Washington Post article. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and climate change from reliable major media sources.
Managers and career staff in the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention tampered with the assessments of dozens of chemicals to make them appear safer, according to four scientists who work at the agency. The whistleblowers, whose jobs involve identifying the potential harms posed by new chemicals, provided ... detailed evidence of pressure within the agency to minimize or remove evidence of potential adverse effects of the chemicals, including neurological effects, birth defects, and cancer. Information about hazards was deleted from agency assessments without informing or seeking the consent of the scientists who authored them. Some of these cases led the EPA to withhold critical information from the public about potentially dangerous chemical exposures. In other cases, the removal of the hazard information or the altering of the scientists' conclusions in reports paved the way for the use of chemicals, which otherwise would not have been allowed on the market. William Irwin, [one] of the four whistleblowers, who has worked at the EPA for over 11 years as a toxicologist, was ... moved out of the office after repeatedly resisting pressure to change his assessments to favor industry. Irwin said that while it had seemed obvious that the pressure stemmed from chemical companies, the science adviser in the office made the point irrefutably clear during an argument over one particular chemical assessment.
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Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced Thursday that a group of 130 nations has agreed to a global minimum tax on corporations, part of a broader agreement to overhaul international tax rules. If widely enacted, the GMT would effectively end the practice of global corporations seeking out low-tax jurisdictions like Ireland and the British Virgin Islands to move their headquarters to, even though their customers, operations and executives are located elsewhere. "For decades, the United States has participated in a self-defeating international tax competition, lowering our corporate tax rates only to watch other nations lower theirs in response. The result was a global race to the bottom: Who could lower their corporate rate further and faster? No nation has won this race," said Yellen in a statement on the accord. "Today's agreement by 130 countries representing more than 90 percent of global GDP is a clear sign: the race to the bottom is one step closer to coming to an end," Yellen said. The deal also reportedly includes a framework to eliminate digital services taxes, which targeted the biggest American tech companies. In their place, officials agreed to a new tax plan that would be linked to the places where multinationals are actually doing business, rather than where they are headquartered. The groundwork for adopting a GMT has already been laid by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which released a blueprint ... outlining a two-pillar approach to international taxation.
Note: The most profitable companies sometimes pay no US taxes at all. A recent ProPublica investigation revealed that American billionaires also pay almost nothing in taxes. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption from reliable major media sources.
Interviews with more than two dozen experts on pesticide regulation – including 14 who worked at the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs, or OPP – described a federal environmental agency that is often unable to stand up to the intense pressures from powerful agrochemical companies, which spend tens of millions of dollars on lobbying each year and employ many former EPA scientists once they leave the agency. The enormous corporate influence has weakened and, in some cases, shut down the meaningful regulation of pesticides in the U.S. and left the country's residents exposed to levels of dangerous chemicals not tolerated in many other nations. This reporting has brought to light several instances in which the overlooking, burying, or scuttling of science has had direct consequences for human health. The alarming discoveries include an EPA report warning about the link between the pesticide glyphosate and cancer that never saw the light of day; the failure to consider evidence that a neonicotinoid pesticide causes brain damage; the refusal to investigate evidence that another pesticide that is an ingredient in Roundup may cause cancer ... and the agency's waiving of the vast majority of toxicity tests at the request of industry. The scientists who have identified these hazards described immense pressure from within the agency to overlook the risks they found. And several said they faced retribution for calling attention to the dangers of pesticides.
ProPublica cracked open the vault on America's biggest tax grifters, revealing how the Midas men dip, dodge and duck, paying pennies on the dollar, if that, while we suckers have to pony up. How rich. "In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world's richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes," ProPublica reported. "He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes. "Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row." "Taken together," ProPublica concluded, "it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The I.R.S. records show that the wealthiest can – perfectly legally – pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year." ProPublica shed light on the fact that "the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck." And while the value of those assets grows by the billion, untaxed, these rich folks can borrow against them.
The wealthiest Americans – including Warren Buffett, Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos – paid little in federal income taxes at times in recent years despite soaring fortunes, according to Internal Revenue Service data obtained by ProPublica. The information published Tuesday shows how billionaires are able to legally reduce their tax burden, highlighting how the American tax system can hit ordinary wage earners harder than the richest people in the country. That's often because the richest Americans tend to have their wealth tied up in stocks and real estate, allowing them to avoid taxes on unrealized profits. The U.S. tax system focuses on income, not what is known as unrealized gains from unsold stocks, real estate or other assets. The records ... purport to show Buffett, head of Berkshire Hathaway, as having paid $23.7 million in federal income taxes on total income of $125 million from 2014 to 2018, which would indicate a personal income tax rate of 19 percent. ProPublica estimated that Buffett saw his wealth soar by $24.3 billion during that period and so his "true tax rate" was 0.10 percent. Musk, chief executive of Tesla, paid $455 million on $1.52 billion in income during the same period, when his wealth grew by $13.9 billion, accounting for a "true tax rate" of 3.27 percent. Bezos, chief executive of Amazon and the owner of The Washington Post, paid $973 million in taxes on $4.22 billion in income, as his wealth soared by $99 billion, resulting in a 0.98 percent "true tax rate."
Note: Learn about important facts this article leaves out in this excellent piece. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Johnson & Johnson must pay a $2.1 billion award to women who claimed its baby powder was contaminated with cancer-causing asbestos, after the U.S. Supreme Court left intact the largest verdict in the almost decadelong litigation over the iconic product. The top U.S. court without comment on Tuesday refused to consider J&J's objections to a St. Louis jury's 2018 finding that its talc-based powder helped cause ovarian cancer in 20 women. J&J prepared for the appeal's denial by announcing in February it was setting aside almost $4 billion to cover the St. Louis verdict. The company still faces more than 25,000 lawsuits blaming baby powder for causing cancers. J&J pulled the product off U.S. and Canadian shelves last year. Jurors in the St. Louis case awarded each woman $25 million in compensatory damages. The panel then added more than $4 billion in punitive damages, making the award the sixth-largest in U.S. legal history. The original verdict sparked a significant drop in J&J's shares. J&J has lost other cases at trial, with juries across the U.S. ordering it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars. Judges slashed some of those awards while others have been thrown out or are on appeal. J&J has won cases as well. Asbestos, which is often found where talc is mined, is a recognized carcinogen. The women also contended that J&J showed years of deceit about its product and disregard for the health of its customers and argued that warranted the punitive damage award.
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For years, the Gates Foundation has been steered by an unusually small board of trustees, made up of Bill, his estranged wife, Melinda, and the billionaire investor Warren Buffett. The larger the foundation became, the less anyone seemed willing to ask tough questions about its secretive management structure or its penchant for giving money to lucrative pharmaceutical and credit card companies such as Mastercard, despite the fact that giving away billions to wealthy corporations set an unusual and troubling precedent in the philanthropic sector. Billionaires who make their fortunes through corporate practices that undercut workers and deepen inequality – like corporate tax avoidance, insufficient sick pay and the immoral gap in pay between executives and low-paid workers – are not the solution to problems they generate. Asking Bill Gates to fix inequality is like asking an arsonist to hose down your house after he just set it on fire. In April last year, the University of Oxford was reportedly considering offering a Covid-19 vaccine developed by its scientists on a nonexclusive basis. But then, Kaiser Health News reported, "Oxford – urged on by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – reversed course. It signed an exclusive vaccine deal with AstraZeneca that gave the pharmaceutical giant sole rights and no guarantee of low prices." This dealmaking .. seemed to conflict with the Gates Foundation's stated mission to improve global access to medicines, but it's not surprising.
Note: Read more about the Gates Foundation's startling degree of media influence during the pandemic. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on corporate corruption and the coronavirus vaccine from reliable major media sources.
Covid-19 vaccines have created at least nine new billionaires after shares in companies producing the shots soared. Topping the list of new billionaires are Moderna CEO StĂ©phane Bancel and Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech, which has produced a vaccine with Pfizer. Both CEOs are now worth around $4 billion, according to an analysis by the People's Vaccine Alliance, a campaign group that includes Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now and Amnesty International. Senior executives from China's CanSino Biologics and early investors in Moderna have also become billionaires on paper as shares skyrocketed. Moderna's share price has gained more than 700% since February 2020, while BioNTech has surged 600%. CanSino Biologics' stock is up about 440% over the same period. The company's single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use in China in February. Activists said the wealth generation highlighted the stark inequality that has resulted from the pandemic. The nine new billionaires are worth a combined $19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate some 780 million people in low-income countries. "These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines," Anne Marriott, Oxfam's health policy manager, said. "These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity," she added.
Note: You would hope that with all the suffering going on in our world, big Pharma wouldn't gouge and make huge profits on their vaccines. Sadly, this is far from the truth. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on Big Pharma corruption and the coronavirus vaccine from reliable major media sources.
A video showing a mobile device snapping infrared images of an iPhone user is circulating around the internet. In the Tik Tok shared by user Brie Thomason, a digital camera using an infrared lens is seen filming an iPhone user observing their home screen. As the iPhone user stares blatantly at the device, Thomason's digital camera captures the iPhone snapping multiple infrared images every 5-10 seconds. While this discovery may cause some users to panic, Apple claims this is actually just an aspect of the iPhone that allows users to control their face ID and Animoji (the animated emoji function). According to Apple, this feature was first debuted as the iPhone X's most groundbreaking function; since it is not even discernible at first glance, even though it literally stares you in the face. The company calls this feature: the new TrueDepth IR camera. This camera, housed in the black notch at the top of the display, includes a number of high-tech components such as a "flood illuminator," infrared (IR) camera, and an infrared emitter. Officials say as an iPhone is used, the latter emits 30,000 infrared dots in a known pattern when a face is detected, enabling the iPhone X to generate a 3D map of a user's face. According to the team, this TrueDepth IR camera can also do this fast enough to support the creation of 3D motion data as well. So, yes, your iPhone is essentially taking "invisible" photos of you, but not for the reasons you would think.
The pharmaceutical industry is distributing talking points, organizing opposition, and even collecting congressional signatures in an attempt to reverse President Joe Biden's support for worldwide access to generic Covid-19 vaccines. The behind-the-scenes moves ... come as the U.S. last week announced that it would support the World Trade Organization proposal, led by India and South Africa, to temporarily waive enforcement of intellectual property and patent rights on coronavirus vaccines. Without a radical expansion in vaccine manufacturing capacity, many developing countries will not achieve mass vaccination rates until 2023 or 2024. The waiver request, which was unexpectedly endorsed by Biden's administration on May 5, is designed to provide legal immunity for drug firms to copy the formulas of existing vaccines to supply low-cost vaccines to low-income countries. On Wednesday, Jared Michaud, a lobbyist with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade group that represents Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, and other major drug firms, sent an email laying out the industry's role in coaxing lawmakers to push back against a waiver. One of the documents laid out potential national security concerns and suggested that lawmakers should argue the waiver could empower Russia and China. PhRMA ... spent over $24 million on federal lobbying last year and is one of the biggest corporate players in election spending.
Facebook's secret internal rules for moderating the term "Zionist" let the social network [to] suppress criticism of Israel amid an ongoing wave of Israeli abuses and violence, according to people who reviewed the policies. The rules appear to have been in place since 2019, seeming to contradict a claim by the company in March that no decision had been made on whether to treat the term "Zionist" as a proxy for "Jew" when determining whether it was deployed as "hate speech." The policies ... govern the use of "Zionist" in posts not only on Facebook but across its subsidiary apps, including Instagram. Both Facebook and Instagram are facing allegations of censorship following the erratic, widespread removal of recent posts from pro-Palestinian users critical of the Israeli government, including those who documented instances of Israeli state violence. Mass violence has gripped Israel and Gaza since last week. Israeli security forces stormed the Al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's old city. The Palestinian militant group Hamas responded with rocket fire aimed at Israel. Israel, in turn, unleashed massive aerial bombardments and artillery attacks against the occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip. Though none of Facebook and Instagram's content removal has been tied conclusively to the term "Zionist," users and pro-Palestinian advocates were alarmed by disappearing posts and notices of policy violations over the last week.
Note: Read how a U.S. Congresswoman is being slammed for asking legitimate questions about Israel. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on media manipulation from reliable sources.
A week ago, the Biden administration announced support for waiving intellectual property protection for Covid-19 vaccines. In response, Bio, a trade association representing biotechnology companies, issued a statement saying, "The United States has unfortunately chosen to set a dangerous precedent with these actions." Efforts to maintain intellectual property rights from life-saving drugs to vaccines have hindered the global response. The Biden administration surprised a lot of observers by coming out in favor of this ... temporary suspension of IP and patent enforcement on certain medications related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Right now, the way that wealthier countries – the U.S. and others – are confronting this crisis for the developing world is through voluntary agreements. There are really two ways to combat this crisis. There's a way to do it in a sense that maximizes profit for the healthcare companies, the pharmaceutical companies. And then there's the more collaborative, nonprofit approach. And early on, pharmaceutical companies were fighting this more collaborative approach. The pharmaceutical companies, in addition, have said they plan to increase prices once the pandemic quote-unquote ends. These companies are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to increase prices.
The Institute for Policy Studies calculated that the average CEO compensation in 2020 was $15.3m, when looking at the 100 companies with the lowest median wage for workers in the S&P 500 index. The median worker pay was $28,187. This means that chief executives saw a 29% pay raise compared to 2019, while workers saw a 2% decrease. For all 100 companies, median worker pay was below $50,000 for 2020. The compensation hike came as companies gave their top leaders hefty bonuses and forgiving performance benchmarks during the pandemic, allowing the top executives to cash in while their low-wage employees were essential workers. Hilton's CEO, Christopher Nassetta, had a compensation package worth $55.9m in 2020, the highest of the executives analyzed in the report, while median pay at the company was $28,608, down from $43,695 in 2019. Since the pandemic affected the company's expected performance, and thus Nassetta's expected compensation, the company's board restructured its stock awards to give its CEO ample pay in 2020, according to the report. Other CEOs were met with friendly treatment from their respective corporate boards. Chipotle's board removed the company's poor financial results from the peak of the shutdown and excluded Covid-related costs when calculating CEO Brian Niccol's compensation. Niccol received $38m last year, which is 2,898 times more than the company's median worker pay of $13,127.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on income inequality from reliable major media sources.
Hospitals are charging up to $650 for a simple, molecular covid test that costs $50 or less to run, according to Medicare claims analyzed for KHN by Hospital Pricing Specialists (HPS). Charges by large health systems range from $20 to $1,419 per test, a new national survey by KFF shows. And some free-standing emergency rooms are charging more than $1,000 per test. The insurance company passes on its higher costs to consumers in higher premiums. Gargantuan volume – 400 million tests and counting, for one type – combined with loose rules on prices have made the service a bonanza for hospitals and clinics. Lab companies have been booking record profits by charging $100 per test. Even in-network prices negotiated and paid by insurance companies often run much more than that. In some cases, hospitals and clinics have supplemented revenue from covid tests with extra charges that go far beyond those for a simple swab. Warren Goldstein was surprised when Austin Emergency Center, in Texas, charged him and his wife $494 upfront for two covid tests. He was shocked when the center billed insurance $1,978 for his test, which he expected would cost $100. His insurer paid $325 for "emergency services" for him, even though there was no emergency. "It seemed like highway robbery," said Goldstein. A World Health Organization cost assessment of running 5,000 covid tests on Roche and Abbott analyzers ... came to $17 and $21 per test, respectively.
The pharmaceutical industry keeps turning up the dial on lobbying, setting massive new spending records in its intensive effort to influence Congress and the Biden administration. Yet this week, President Biden angered drugmakers when he said he supports the waiving of intellectual property protections for coronavirus vaccines. Drug and health product manufacturers, along with their national association, spent a combined $92 million to lobby the federal government from January through March. That puts the industry on track to break its spending record for the second year in a row. Not only that, but its first-quarter spending was more than double what was spent by the second-highest-spending industry, electronics companies. There are currently 1,270 registered lobbyists for pharmaceuticals and health products – more than two lobbyists for every member of Congress. Pfizer, maker of one of the three coronavirus vaccines approved for emergency use in the United States, was the biggest spender of any individual drug company. And last year, as it was developing its vaccine, the federal government agreed to pay the company $1.95 billion for the first 100 million doses it produced. The company reported it had $3.5 billion in revenue from sales of the vaccine so far this year. Pfizer was outflanked on lobbying spending only by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America – the national association that represents the interests of drugmakers.
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