Democracy Now! 2014-08-28 Thursday
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."
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 advisor with the Tax Justice Network. He is former chief economist at McKinsey & Company.
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 theIRS.”
Cases like Rodney King, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner and Michael Brown have helped fuel demands for police accountability. We are joined by a guest who has advice for the growing number of people filming police abuse with their smart phones and video cameras, particularly with respect to how to properly preserve such video. Yvonne Ng is senior archivist for WITNESS, a group that trains and supports people using video in their fight for human rights. She co-authored their resource, "Activists’ Guide to Archiving Video."