Is Soda The ‘New Cigarette?’

Soft drink sales continue to drop, and few have felt the pain as badly as SodaStream, writes USA Today. The stock has shed more than 70% of its value since peaking two summers ago, because of a sharp drop in the popularity of its products that turn still water into sparkling water.

The soda giants have also felt the pinch, writes USA Today.  Carbonated beverage sales have fallen for 10 straight years since peaking in 2004, according to industry tracker Beverage Digest.  USA Today calls soda “the new cigarette.”

Concerns about the consumption of sugar and corn syrup haven’t helped, but – oddly – diet soda sales have been falling even harder in recent years.

At the same time, the world’s leading fast-food restaurant – McDonald’s – is changing its value meal offerings:  the restaurant is starting to sell small combo deals that don’t include a soda.

Perhaps these changes are also reflected in the number of McDonald’s closures. states: “Around the world, the company said that it was doubling the number of store closures this year to about 700.”

The chain is selling a 10-piece serving of chicken nuggets with a small side of fries for just $2.50. It’s also pairing up the same small side of fries with a double cheeseburger at the same price.

Clinton Hires Former Wall Street Regulator As Campaign’s CFO

Gary Gensler is shown. | AP Photo

Hillary Clinton recently recruited Gary Gensler, a former top federal Wall Street regulator, as her campaign’s chief financial officer, and it was meant to show donors she is serious about avoiding the overspending that plagued her 2008 presidential campaign, according to The New York Times.  Financial managers usually play a role in political campaigns, states the Times.

It was also supposedly an indication that Mrs. Clinton is prepared to take a tougher stance toward the financial industry.

Mr. Gensler, 57, was an under secretary in the Treasury Department in the Clinton administration, whose early deregulation of the financial industry, some economists say, contributed to the 2008 financial crisis.

Mr. Gensler also spent 18 years at Goldman Sachs, becoming a partner at 30 and rising to its co-head of finance. His recruitment tightens Mrs. Clinton’s ties to the firm, which frequently works with the Clinton Foundation in philanthropic efforts and has lent its Lower Manhattan auditorium to the Clintons for briefings with foundation donors.

So, is he a Wall Street insider or a Wall Street regulator?

The New York Times:

“Mr. Gensler, as chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from 2009 to 2014, overhauled the commission from one of Wall Street’s most lax regulators to one of its most aggressive, and campaigned to rein in risk-taking in response to the financial crisis.”

The Wall Street Journal wrote in 2013:  “If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Massad would fill the role vacated by Gary Gensler, who has spent more than four years pushing back against Wall Street in a bid to bring more transparency and stricter rules to the multi-billion-dollar derivatives market.”


“The CFTC has been at the center of several contentious battles involving the implementation of Dodd-Frank, with reform advocates cheering on Gensler’s efforts to write tough new rules while Wall Street bankers and other business executives warn that the agency is being overzealous. Massad will likely face twin pressures as his nomination moves through the Senate. Liberal lawmakers will press him to commit to carrying forward the approach laid out by Gensler and Republicans and some moderate Democrats will look for him to be more accommodating to the concerns of industries such as agriculture and other end-users that use derivatives to hedge risk.”

Gensler’s hiring was was first reported Thursday by Bloomberg.

After losing the Democratic nomination to Senator Barack Obama, she had to raise money to pay down her debt — including $11.4 million she had lent her campaign herself and $9.5 million owed to vendors. She also had to liquidate more than $23 million in contributions her campaign had set aside for the general election.

Mr. Gensler is also someone whose email practices – as the head of a federal agency – were the subject of sharp criticism, states the New York Times.

The Times notes that Mrs. Clinton angered some of her wealthiest donors in 2008 by pushing for increased regulation of Wall Street and its most complex financial products.

However, In January, Clinton reiterated her support for the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial-regulation law, writing on Twitter, “Attacking financial reform is risky and wrong.” Mr. Gensler helped put the law together.

And this week, Mrs. Clinton hinted that she would again propose tougher rules on the financial sector. “There’s something wrong when hedge fund managers pay less in taxes than nurses or the truckers I saw on I-80,” she said Tuesday in Monticello, Iowa.

Her current campaign manager, Robby Mook, assured donors on a recent conference call that he was “a bit of a cheapskate” and would be frugal with the operation’s funds.

(Updated article)

Is Senator Tom Cotton Taking Money from Defense Industry?

Huffington Post:

“A letter written by Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton and signed by forty-six other senators was sent to the Iranian leadership earlier this week that threatens a possible international agreement that the Obama administration is attempting to reach. With the deadline looming on March 24th this has seen as active sabotage and possibly even treason in a move that has never been seen by the Senate in the entire history of the United States.”

Snowden-story reporter Glenn Greenwald’s publication The Intercept reported on Monday, March 9th:

“Tomorrow, 24 hours later, Cotton will appear at an ‘Off the Record and strictly Non-Attribution’ event with the National Defense Industrial Association, a lobbying and professional group for defense contractors.

“The NDIA is composed of executives from major military businesses such as Northrop Grumman, L-3 Communications, ManTech International, Boeing, Oshkosh Defense and Booz Allen Hamilton, among other firms.”


TYT Network

(Updated post)

MSNBC Talks With Carole King


According to her website, Carole King wrote her first #1 hit at the age of 17, penning “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles with then-husband Gerry Goffin.

In 1960, King made her solo record debut with a song called “Baby Sittin’,” and two years later, her demo of “It Might As Well Rain Until September” made the Top 25 in the U.S., climbing all the way to #3 on the British charts. Lennon & McCartney were well aware of her work; they were quoted as saying that all they “ever wanted to be was like Goffin and King.”

In the late ’60s, soon after Goffin and King’s “(You make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” was immortalized by Aretha Franklin, Carole moved to Los Angeles with her daughters, Louise and Sherry, setting up house in Laurel Canyon and forming The City, who released one album, 1968’s Now That Everything’s Been Said. King released her first solo album, Writer, in 1970.

1971’s Tapestry took King to the pinnacle. It spoke personally to every one of her contemporaries and provided the spiritual musical backdrop to the decade. While King was in the studio recording Tapestry, Taylor recorded King’s “You’ve Got a Friend,” taking the song all the way to #1.

In a first for a female writer/artist, Tapestry won all three of the key Grammy Awards—record, song and album of the year—as well as best female vocalist honors for King. With more than 25 million units sold, Tapestry remained the best-selling album by a female artist for a quarter century, and King went on to amass three other platinum and seven gold albums.

In 1987, King was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and, a year later, Goffin and King were awarded the National Academy of Songwriters’ Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1990, the duo was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 2002, King was honored with the prestigious Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Two years later, Goffin and King received the Trustee Award from the Recording Academy.

Carole King is the voice of a generation. Her life is even a Broadway hit, called Beautiful. Here, King tells Ronan Farrow about navigating obstacles from gender stereotypes to domestic abuse. She also discusses political relationships from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama.

China’s Central Bank Cuts Interest Rates: A Sign Of Slowing Economic Growth?

China’s central bank cut interest rates for the second time in less than four months, in a fresh sign that the country’s leadership is becoming more aggressive in trying to stop the slowdown of economic growth, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The rate cut by the People’s Bank of China was announced Saturday, and it came sooner than some analysts and investors had expected.  It reflects growing worries over the world’s second-largest economy as it struggles with certain difficulties: a slumping property market, more money being sent offshore and growing risks of falling prices that, in effect, are pushing up borrowing costs for businesses.

The cut, effective Sunday, lowers by a quarter percentage point the benchmark one-year loan rate, to 5.35%, and the one-year deposit rate, to 2.5%. In a statement accompanying the announcement, the central bank singled out increasing deflationary pressure as a trigger for the move, saying that plunging commodity prices world-wide “provided room” to spur growth by lowering interest rates.

Due To Falling Oil Revenues, Oil Companies Lay Off Workers

Forbes Magazine states that on Thursday morning came news that oil services company Apache Corp. will lay off about 250 people, or 5% of its workforce.

Later in the day came worse news: oil services giant Schlumberger said it was in the process of slashing 9,000 workers worldwide.

These are only the latest hits to an oil industry already staggering under $50 oil. So far there’s been at least 24,000 cuts announced in North America alone by the likes of Shell, Pemex, Halliburton, and Suncor, and they will likely only get worse.

Here’s a list of layoffs by oil (or oil-related) companies compiled by Forbes so far:

Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex): 10,000 workers (in Mexico).

Halliburton: 1,000+ workers (Eastern hemisphere).

Suncor: 1,000 workers (Canadian oil sands).

Ensign Energy Services: 700 workers (in California).

U.S. Steel: 700 workers. (Cleveland and Houston).

BP : “hundreds” of workers.

Schlumberger SLB: 9,000 workers.

Tenaris : 300 workers (Mississippi).

Hercules Offshore : 300 workers.

Shell: 300 workers (Canadian oilsands).

Apache Corp.: 250 workers.

OFS Energy: 150 workers.

EOG Resources EOG: 150 workers (Canada).

Enbridge : 100 workers.

A Year Ago, JP Morgan Chase Paid The Largest Fine Ever For A Financial Institution

Just recently, a whistleblower who played a pivotal role in the case against JP Morgan came out.

J.P. Morgan played a large role in the mortgage crisis.

J.P. Morgan had routinely overstated the quality of the mortgages that is sold to investors.  When the mortgage securities turned bad, investors lost faith in the financial system, pulling money out, and leading to financial collapse.

Rolling Stone magazine has an article about whistleblower Alayne Fleischmann.

Video by Democracy Now!