private industry
Feds taking a second look at endangered species protection for wolverines
By Michael Wright

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are getting spanked all over the country. Whenever they decide to ignore the law (Endangered Species Act), green organizations jump in, sue, and win. When Fish and Wildlife decides to bow to the low and develop landscape-level plans, with the cooperations of states, industry and private landowners, they get sued and lose. They should pay attention to the law, quit fucking around, and protect endangered species. 


Federal officials are taking another look at whether wolverines deserve protection under the Endangered Species Act, months after a federal judge ordered them to do so.

This week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opened a 30-day public comment period on the idea of listing the wolverine as a threatened species under the law, a move intended to keep the species from reaching the brink of extinction.

The move comes six months after a federal judge sided with environmental groups in a suit over the USFWS decision to withdraw a 2013 proposal to list the wolverine. The judge ordered the agency to reconsider protections for the wolverines as soon as possible. A USFWS appeal of the decision was withdrawn earlier this month.

Opening a comment period kicks off a new environmental review process, where the agency will try to determine whether the animal should be listed. A final decision is expected in 2018.

Wolverines, carnivores in the weasel family, are believed to number only about 300 in the lower 48. They are known to be in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon but are hard to find because they don’t live in large groups and range far.

The animal depends on snow to survive. Female wolverines need at least 5 feet of stable snow to build birthing dens, USFWS says. The deep snow offers security for young wolverines and can help the animals withstand frigid winter temperatures.

Environmentalists worry that warming temperatures and decreasing snowpacks caused by climate change are diminishing the animal’s available habitat, which is one reason they would like to see them protected as an endangered species.


My sis Rell (Twitter: Awkward_Duck, Tumblr: swearimnotangry), did some investigative work today and found that Donald Sterling has ties to private prison investments, which led the two of us to an excellent discussion about the private prison industry.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. With contract mandates specifying 90% occupancy rates, private prisons feed directly into our problem with mass incarceration.

The private prison industry has become a lucrative business with some of our financial institutions heavily investing in them (Not to mention the music industry invests in them also, but I wont go there today). 

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) & GEO are the nations leading providers of correctional services. CCA has flourished as a business and has done so well ensuring that states maintain that 90% occupancy rate, that last year their Board of Directors authorized a $675 MILLION dividend to its shareholders. -_____-

I don’t even need to tell you who these prison beds are occupied by as I’m sure you all know the stats and demographics, but feel free to check out the links below.

Financial institutions that invest in private prisons:

CCA authorizes $675 million dividend to shareholders:

CCA being sued for widespread abuse in prisons:
What?!? Private prisons suing states for millions if they don't stay full
Low crime rates bad for business for white-owned private prisons; they demand states keep them full

The prison-industrial complex is so out of control that private prisons have the sheer audacity to order states to keep beds full or face their wrath with stiff financial penalties, according to reports. Private prisons in some states have language in their contracts that state if they fall below a certain percentage of capacity that the states must pay the private prisons millions of dollars, lest they face a lawsuit for millions more.

And guess what? The private prisons, which are holding cash-starved states hostage, are getting away with it, says advocacy group, In the Public Interest.

In the Public Interest has reviewed more than 60 contracts between private prison companies and state and local governments across the country, and found language mentioning “quotas” for prisoners in nearly two-thirds of those contracts reviewed. Those quotas can range from a mandatory occupancy of, for example, 70 percent occupancy in California to up to 100 percent in some prisons in Arizona.

Innovations That Will Change Your Life: A Conversation With Elon Musk

Elon Musk, engineer and business magnate, is here to talk to you about the future innovations that will change life as we know it. The conversation is incredible - and ongoing.

WORLDPOST: What are the key innovations that will change our lives in the decades ahead?

Interview Clip, 3:05

ELON MUSK: There are four apart from the Internet, an astonishing invention by which people can access knowledge from anywhere. There will be the transition to the sustainable production and consumption of energy. Hopefully, the extension of human life to other planets, depending on how rapidly we progress in developing space transport and how we live - if we manage to survive – by then. Reading and writing genetic code. And AI - artificial intelligence.

Our species has the capacity to accomplish all these things. We are already engaged in doing them now.

Interview Clip, 0:55

WORLDPOST: While there have been revolutionary advances in information and bio technologies in recent decades, we still fly - more or less - the same 747s of 40 years ago and take the marginally improved bullet trains the Japanese pioneered in the 1960s.

Why has it been so difficult to move to what you call “the fifth mode” of transportation - the kind of “hyperloop technology” you are promoting?

MUSK: Well, bullet trains are often not better. The problem is that you face strong headwinds.

Hyperloop illustration by Space X

I was frustrated reading about the high-speed rail project in California – the first proposed in the US – and another one in the UK. To me it seemed like we were taking a step backwards in technology, as if we were going backwards not only from the Concorde to the 747 you mentioned, but to the DC-3.

Japan produced some pretty impressive trains which they deployed in the 1980s. Then China put in place an even more advanced train network. In the advanced economies like California, where we have a lot of money, it seems to me we ought to be thinking what we can do to get beyond that. It is not a matter of one-upmanship, but rather from the standpoint that the future is going to be better.

If you get up in the morning and think the future is going to be better, it is a bright day. Otherwise, it’s not.

So, I started thinking about what might be the fastest way to get from one city to another abiding by the laws of physics, or at least the physics we know today.

After a lot of iterations I came up with the idea of the “hyperloop.” For the hyperloop to work you need to combine a bunch of factors. It is kind of an air hockey table combined with a rail gun combined with a super-sonic Concorde.

It will go very fast in a low-air density environment like the Concorde (the air is thin up there) and is electro-magnetically accelerated, which is where you get the kinetic energy. The suspension mechanism is like an air hockey table.

One of the key innovations is to have a powerful turbo-compressor on the nose of the pod that compresses the air in front of the pod and transfers it to the rear. That prevents high-pressure air from building up on the nose and causing resistance.

This is totally technologically feasible. When engineers look at this idea, the say, “oh yeah, totally possible.” When non-engineers look at it, they say “this is preposterous.”

The Hyperloop open source transportation concept

I’ve talked to California Governor Jerry Brown about this. He got a little mad and called me up. He said, “how come you are saying our bullet train is not good.” I said, “going only 120 miles per hour from LA to San Francisco - people can do that on I-5 in their car.”

He said, “well, it has to go 150 miles out of its way so it can stop in Bakersfield and Fresno.” I said, “well, you are making my point for me. It may be great for people living in those places, but not if you want to get from LA to San Francisco quickly.”

If we could do high-speed rail in California just half a notch above what they’ve done on the Shanghai line in China, and if we had a straight path from LA to San Francisco, as well as the milk run, at least that would be progress.

I’m not saying we have to do the hyperloop or nothing. I’m saying we should just have a bad ass transportation system.

Look, I like Jerry a lot. He’s a good guy. He genuinely cares about things. But I do think we need to raise our sights here and aim higher.

Where Elon Musk’s design proposes terminals with turntables to rotate transport capsules, industrial designer Serge Roux has come up with an alternative, and one which lives up to the Hyperloop brand

WORLDPOST: Some of the leaders in Singapore want to make it the first “electric city” with all electric cars like the Tesla. Because the Asian leaders there or in China think more long term, they have the capacity to rebuild the foundations of their infrastructure as they construct new megacities. Do you think Asia will be the largest market for electric cars?

MUSK: That is a great idea for Singapore. Hong Kong too. We do expect more sales in Asia than any other part of the world just by virtue of population and economy.

It is a bit more of a top down situation there. If the top political leaders, obviously in Singapore or China, decide to do something, it really happens.

Here in the West people often don’t like listening to their leaders even if they are right.

Elon’s quest toward a multi-planetary civilization

WORLDPOST: A “multi-planetary civilization” is central to your thinking. When Stephen Hawking talks about this, he does so out of the fear that our species will not develop intelligently enough in time to save this planet, so we better hedge our bets and explore other options.

Is that where you are coming from?

MUSK: I’m more optimistic than Stephen Hawking or Martin Rees, the head of the Royal Society in Britain. He thinks it is quite likely that our civilization will end in this century. I hope he is wrong.

I’m more optimistic about our civilization. And I do stress “multi-planetary.” It’s not like “let’s find another planet, but somewhere else.” I hesitate to use the word “utopian.” But if you imagine the future we want and say, “that would be a good one,” for me you’d want to have a future where there is a space-spanning civilization where our species is out there exploring the stars. That would be great.

“There’s a fundamental difference, if you look into the future, between a humanity that is a space-faring civilization, that’s out there exploring the stars … compared with one where we are forever confined to Earth until some eventual extinction event.” [Elon Musk’s TED Talk]

My motivation comes from the standpoint that such a civilization would be the best adventure and something really inspiring that would make life more fun.

That motivates me the most. A strong second would be the preservation of consciousness and human civilization as we know it up to this point.

From an evolutionary standpoint, human consciousness has not been around very long. A little light just went on after four and a half billion years. How often does that happen? Maybe it is quite rare. In fact, it would appear to be quite rare. Or, others out there with a consciousness are very good at hiding. If it is such a rare thing, then we should do whatever we can to ensure its long- term survival.

WORLDPOST: You have also talked about creating a “greater collective enlightenment” through technology, and of the Internet as “a collective nervous system.”

Some scientists have argued that this global thinking circuit and the planetary reach of the media enable something akin to “horizontal gene transfer” where knowledge is shared across boundaries through cooperation instead of through “vertical gene transfer” that results from competitive differentiation.

Are we on the brink of “an evolution of evolution?”

Elon Musk Thinks Humans Need To Move To Mars To Avoid Extinction

MUSK: I believe we are, yes. I think we have effectively created a kind of super-organism. It is like when uni-cellular creatures existed without nervous systems, they communicated by osmosis.

Before the Internet and advanced telecommunications, communication was incredibly slow. You would have to literally go from one person to another to communicate; at best one person could carry a note to another. It was literally person to person. So unless one person bumps into another one, you are not going to communicate.

With the telegraph, the telephone and now, especially, the internet, suddenly all the world’s knowledge is instantly available to any person. That is like one cell in your body having access to all the information about the rest of our body.

Evolution is on a new plane [Interview Clip, 1:15]

A huge number of super fast feedback loops - that is what intelligence and consciousness is.

Clearly, evolution is on a new plane.

WORLDPOST: What are the main impediments to this fun future that you envision? What might stop us from getting there?

MUSK: Demographics is a real issue. People are not having enough kids in many countries. This is supposed to be solved by immigration. But immigration from where? If Europe, or China for that matter, only produce 50 per cent of the people needed to maintain their populations, how will they survive? Where are we supposed to find the 600 million people to replace the ones that were never born? We would need three Indonesians to move there.

Demographics, Robots, and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.)

People are going to have to revive the idea of having children as a kind of social duty. If you can, and are so inclined, you should. Otherwise civilization will just die.

The Chinese have just lifted their one child policy, but I doubt it will have an effect. That is not the reason couples are having only one kid. There hasn’t been a one child policy in Europe, in Russia or in Japan. Why are they having only one child?

The correlations are obvious, but the causes of this behavior are less obvious. The birth rate is inversely correlated to wealth, education and religious. The wealthier and more educated you are, the less children you have. Religion, however, is closely correlated to having children. The more religious you are, the more children you have. This is true across countries and within countries.

Behind The Scenes: Tesla Motors [Part 1, Wired 4:55]

In the US, the highest birthrate is in Mormon Utah.

In the latter part of this century we are going to see a demographic implosion the likes of which we haven’t before, including with the Black Plague. The math is obvious.

When did China ever experience a 50 per cent reduction in its population? Never. The Black Plague reduced populations by a quarter, but never by half. It is as though half the future population has been killed.

We are going to have to turn this around. Otherwise we have an inverted demographic pyramid. There is one thing that is certain: if the people go away, so will civilization.

How The Tesla Model S Is Manufactured [Part 2, Wired 3:36]

WORLDPOST: Won’t technology save us? Eric Schmidt of Google is warning the Chinese that they better get rich before they get automated. Won’t robots, as they are already beginning to in aging Japan, be able to support vastly smaller populations?

MUSK: At this rate, the only thing that will be left will be robots. Three generations with a 50 per replacement rate will get you to 12 per cent of your current population. And most of those 12 per cent will be taking care of their grandparents.

WORLDPOST: Other obstacles to a bright future?

Elon Musk’s Five Insights Into Solar Energy

MUSK: Religious extremism. If that grows over time, particularly if it is an anti-science Luddite form, is an obvious threat. I hesitate to mention the other concern: I hope the AI (artificial intelligence) is nice to us.

Source: Huffington Post

Race in private prisons: Young Latinos & Blacks “cherry picked” by inferior private prison industrial complex
February 23, 2014

Most overrepresented in US prisons are people of color: African Americans and Latinos constitute 30 percent of the US population, yet they comprise 60 percent of its prisoners. That said, not only are African Americans and Latinos more likely to be arrested and jailed, but a new study by University of California-Berkeley researcher Christopher Petrella disclosed that people of color are likely than whites to serve time in private prisons – which has higher levels of recidivism and violence. These institutions also provide inadequate educational programming and healthcare when compared to public facilities.

The research involved compared the percentage of Latinos and Blacks in private and public prisons in nine states. Each state, at different percentages, had higher rates of people of color residing in private facilities than public facilities.

Inmates released from private prisons experienced recidivism – the tendency to relapse into criminal behavior, at an average rate three percent higher than public prisons. Many factors contribute to this, including the fact that younger inmates in private prisons are sought after for reason of exploitation and low maintenance costs, and not rehabilitation.

The higher rate of recidivism ranged from an excess of three percent in Arizona and Georgia to 13 percent in Oklahoma and California. The researcher indicated that the disparity casts doubt on claims of cost-efficiency made by the private prison industry, also it demonstrates how “ostensibly ‘colorblind’ policies can have a very real effect on people of color.”

The study showed links between inmate’s age and race; private prisons contract a higher rate of inmates of color, and a majority of inmates are under the age of 50. Older inmates tend to be medically expensive, and exemption from housing individuals of a certain age means that costs are kept low and profits are kept high. The war on drugs draws a great deal of young people of color toward private prisons; while older whites, who are more like to arrested, are placed in public prisons . By denying older inmates, private prisons are also denying white inmates because are only 33.2 percent of white prisoners under the age of 50, a vast majority is 50+.

High-level quotas must be maintained even as crime rates drop, and the growth of the prison industry’s prioritization of profit over rehabilitation are dynamics that show that there criminal-like activity conducted by those behind the locks and the key holders. Non-white communities have been disproportionally affected for the last 40 years, and now they are cherry-picked and delivered to inferior private prisons.

Being younger, having superior health and being brown seems to be quintessential traits when selecting inmates for private prisons. These facilities, after all, aim to scout inmates with “a prisoner profile that is far younger and far 'darker’ … than in select counterpart public facilities.”

“Given the data, it’s difficult for private prisons to make the claim that they can incarcerate individuals more efficiently than their public counterparts,” Petrella tells Mother Jones. “We need to be comparing apples to apples. If we’re looking at different prisoner profiles, there is no basis to make the claim that private prisons are more efficient than publics.”

ACLU National Prison Project's David Shapiro agreed with Petrella’s findings, stating, “The study is an example of the many ways in which for-profit prisons create an illusion of fiscal responsibility even though the actual evidence of cost savings, when apples are compared to apples, is doubtful at best. Privatization gimmicks are a distraction from the serious business of addressing our addiction to mass incarceration.”

However, the addiction is not only mass incarceration, but the incarceration and longterm containment of a particular demographic. Blacks and Latinos are snared by private prisons. They are exploited, and they are “leased” to private companies. The private prison industry reaps massive rewards from the government and from private prison executives who feign superiority over the public sector. But, both “deprive individuals of freedom, wrests loved ones from their families, and drains the resources of governments, communities, and taxpayers, the private prison industry reaps lucrative rewards.” Private prisons also normalizes segregation and relapse.

Demanding a high enrollment in academic, vocational and substance abuse programming, and recruiting in an equal amount of white inmates would create a balance in private prisons.  


5 grim facts about America
  1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as ‘Honest Mistakes’
  2. Unpaid Taxes of 500 Companies Could Pay for a Job for Every Unemployed American
  3. Almost 2/3 of American Families Couldn’t Afford a Single Pill of a Life-Saving Drug
  4. Violent Crime Down, Prison Population Doubles
  5. One in Four Americans Suffer Mental Illness, Mental Health Facilities Cut by 90%

Here’s the whole story behind each list item…

An Open Letter To Elon Musk
In response to his recent interview with CBS News

Mr. Musk,

Please understand that the only reason you are able to do what you are doing is because the public space program has paved the way for you to do so. You didn’t invent the technology in your Merlin engine you’re so proud of. A company that gained that understanding from years of working with NASA built that for you. And did you ever mention that? No you didn’t.

I can understand that the world is enamored with you and your bright ideas, your willingness to put your own money into high-tech projects that are changing the world, but did you forget somewhere along the lines that the vast majority of the technology you now use was birthed in the space program you seem so eager to forget?

Here’s How Elon Musk Planned To Revive NASA [Business Insider]

I get asked all of the time, Elon, “well, why do we need NASA if the commercial companies are doing all of this stuff in space now?” And I have to explain to them, one-by-one, exactly why we need the space program. Because, in your moment of grandeur, you have conveniently forgotten where that tech came from. It came from NASA projects.

While you’re busy making grand statements about your plans for SpaceX and how you’re going to change the world, don’t forget to thank the mother that brought you into this world. You wouldn’t have the engine, or the launch pad, or the contract to resupply the International Space Station, or the lineage of understanding that has been brought to us all by the space program without its existence. In short, Mr. Musk, you would have PayPal. And maybe an electric car company. Both are cool, by the way, and I congratulate you on their success.

On NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS)
and Orion Spacecraft Programs [Overview By David Brandt-Erichsen]

The next time you do an interview that points out the inherent problems with depending on the Russians to fly our astronauts into space…before you herald your great plans to have a manned vehicle ready in the next few years…before you set sail on a voyage to Mars or the Moon, or wherever…don’t forget where that mere possibility was enabled. And maybe, just maybe, take a moment to connect the dots between what you are doing and how the public space program (NASA) allowed you to get there.

At the rate you’re going, I get the feeling you’d be really happy if the Space Launch System (SLS - our nations new deep space rocket) was cancelled like so many other projects when they are halfway through because people like you - in a unique position to do so - have failed to educate the public, Congress, and the people of this country that are paying for your rockets to go into space, that NASA DOES THINGS YOU CAN’T DO YET, and NASA WILL DO THINGS THAT YOU’LL DO LATER because that’s where the public space program has taken us. It’s where it’s taken you, Mr. Musk.

Visualization of the SLS [Animation/Overview]

Icarus flew too high and his wings melted. Are you off to do the same? Because you won’t get very far without the public space program paving the way with the scientific and technological understanding that private companies simply cannot afford to undertake as our public space program can when it’s supported by the tax dollar investment.

You are off to do great things, Mr. Musk. Just don’t bite the hand that feeds you or give too much credit to yourself. I own NASA, Mr. Musk. I don’t own you. But what you own was given to you in large part by the space program. Do some good and mention that from time to time.

David Ruck | Director, “I want to be an Astronaut”

‘Sagan Sense’ Sidebar: Although I endorse private industry and commercial spaceflight, the above perspective is understandably permissible regarding the slight disdain for the way Elon Musk is communicating his efforts and goals to the world. Although I don’t expect Musk to take on the role of NASA’s cheerleader, I’m equally as dissatisfied with the lack of mention or support toward the current state of America’s space program which, well….to be quite honest, provides Space X with somewhere to go, the means by which to do so, and the original inspiration behind his own dreams.

I expect the same from Richard Branson as he pushes forward with Virgin Galactic, Bas Lansdorp regarding Mars-One…the list goes on. The only private company I’ve seen giving major kudos to NASA is Planetary Resources, because the team is comprised of the engineers responsible for the creation, implementation, operation, and successful landing of the Mars rovers. NASA is (as described by Neil deGrasse Tyson) “a force of nature like none other…” and should be communicated to the public as such. After all, David is right. He owns NASA, as a tax-paying American. And so do I. The American public owns NASA and we need to be reminded of what it is we’re paying for.

Crowds gathered in NYC’s Times Square to watch the live broadcast of the MSL 'Curiosity’ rover land on Mars. Image above via


Aramark prompts 1,000 Ohio inmates to dump their food over inhumane maggot infestation
August 9, 2014

Since Michigan turned over food services at its prisons to a private contractor in December, the state has seen a spate of maggot infestations in and around prison foodoutbreaks of food poisoning, and meal shortages. In Ohio this week, inmates facing the second maggott infestation this year at their facility dumped their lunch trays in the garbage en masse in protest.

The mother of one of the inmates at Ohio Reformatory for Women reported the protest to the local ABC affiliate, telling the news outlet, “People make mistakes, it doesn’t mean you have to be treated like a dog.”

In both states, the problems have come since they turned over their food services to private contractor Aramark. In the latest in a series of moves toward privatization of prison services, Michigan signed the three-year, $145 million contract with Aramark last year. The contract displaced some 370 prison workers, according to the Detroit Free Press, and the company pays workers about half as much as the state had been paying its employees for food service.

Aramark was fined $98,000 in March for violations related to food substitutions and workers getting too friendly with inmates. In video footage, several staff members were seen kissing and inappropriately touching inmates. More than 80 Aramark employees have been fired and banned from prison properties over these and other infractions. The firm has also been charged with lax security that has allowed knives and other contraband to enter the prison through the food service. And in Ohio, state officials say they’ve already fined the company more than $270,000.

Even. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder ® told reporters in July that the maggot infestations were “unacceptable” and that he would consider incidents like this when mulling whether to terminate Aramark’s 3-year contract with the state Department of Corrections.

According to MLive columnist Steve Miller, “the state almost shelved the idea of privatizing food service for the state’s prisons when it determined that its savings would not be enough to justify it. At the last minute, though, several Republican lawmakers insisted that the deal be made.”

In 2009, Aramark terminated its relationship with Florida’s prisons after six years of disputes and fines by the state.

Here's Who Profits Off of Mass Incarceration After Private Prisons Close
In a groundbreaking move, the Department of Justice has announced that it will end its use of private prisons—but for-profit immigration detention centers with brutal, abusive conditions will be unaffected by the directive.
One in 86 adults—double the national average—ends up behind bars in the Pelican State. That is five times higher than Iran, and 13 times more than China.

Louisiana has created a system more efficient and despondent than state run prisons or regular privatization. The costs are low, profits high and human life is a commodity that allows the market to keep growing.

Freedom is apparently bad for business 

That’s the message from the private prison industry which is threatening to sue states if they don’t start locking more people up. {Please REBLOG this!}

The private prison companies, well-known for profiting off of incarceration and crime, is now saying that the state’s they have contracted with aren’t keeping up their end of the bargain. The private prisons rely on a certain number of inmates for free and virtually-free slave labor.

That labor is used for a variety of trades, including making uniforms for popular restaurants like McDonalds and Applebee’s. But if the private prisons don’t have enough inmates locked up then production goes down correlative with the decrease in free labor (i.e. slavery).

It comes as a surprise to many Americans, but slavery was never actually abolished in the United States. That’s not a metaphor, it’s a matter of careful reading of the 13th amendment to the Constitution. That amendment – often lauded for abolishing slavery – actually makes an exception for prisons. Slavery is still completely legal as “punishment for a crime.”

Follow us see our Archive

BREAKING: Federal Communications Agency Votes To Drastically Lower Prison Phone Rates

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Twelve-year-old Kevin Reese III is one of the 2.7 million children in the U.S. with a parent in prison. On Thursday, he traveled across the country to see the Federal Communications Commission vote on a new rule that would make it much more affordable for him to call his father, who has been locked up in the Lino Lakes Correctional Facility in Minnesota since he was an infant.