CEO retirement savings: Top 100 = what 41% of US families have

The retirement savings accumulated by just 100 chief executives are equal to the entire retirement accounts of 41 percent of U.S. families — or more than 116 million people…

In a report, the Center for Effective Government and Institute for Policy Studies found that the 100 largest chief executive retirement funds are worth an average of about $49.3 million per executive, or a combined $4.9 billion. David C. Novak, the recently departed chief executive officer of Yum! Brands Inc., is at the top of the list, with total retirement savings of $234.2 million.

In recent years, pay and income inequality across different income groups have received increasing attention in the U.S. Significantly less attention has been focused on the growing gulf in retirement savings, a lack of focus that the study’s authors say they are attempting to address.

“This CEO-to-worker retirement gap is a lot bigger than the pay gap and one more indicator of the extreme level of inequality that is really tearing the country apart,” said Sarah Anderson, the report’s co-author…

Some of the chief executives with the biggest retirement stashes are at companies that have cut retirement benefits for new employees.

For many chief executives, the bulk of their pay often used for retirement comes from deferred compensation plans that permit executives to set aside salaries and bonuses on a pretax basis, with no limits. Lower-paid employees with 401(k) accounts can only set aside $18,000 a year and an additional $5,000 if they’re 50 or older. Many companies offer different investment options to executives for their deferred compensation plans than those offered to 401(k) participants.

In addition to deferred compensation plans, about 30 percent of Fortune 1000 companies in 2013 offered supplemental executive retirement plans, usually calculated by multiplying years of service and the average pay earned during executives’ final years of service.

The report’s authors called for a number of policy changes, including applying to executive compensation plans the same annual contribution limits that cover 401(k) plans and preventing companies from deducting from their taxes contributions to executive pension plans if the employee pensions have been frozen.

You won’t find this discussed in any of the Republican so-called debates. They’re idea of entitlement “reform” is taking social security, medicare and medicaid benefits away from workingclass families.

The Democrat so-called debates? Well, Bernie might bring it up. So might Larry Lessig.

RTFA for a few individual examples of pampered executives.

Here goes Apple pissing off the NSA again

Apple has opened its Security Framework and Common Crypto libraries to developers, hoping to foster tighter levels of security in third-party apps.

The Security Framework is used in iOS and OS X for managing keys, certificates, and trust policies, including storing the first two in the platforms’ keychains. Common Crypto is tied to functions like symmetric encryption, hash-based message authentication codes, and digests. The pair both depend on a shared library known as corecrypto…

The company is typically slow to publish the source code for open-source components in its software. It has yet to do so for OS X El Capitan for instance, and while its Swift programming language is due to become open-source, that will only happen sometime before the end of 2015.

Security though is an important issue for Apple in light of growing privacy and malware threats. The company previously marketed its devices as virtually immune to malware, but both iOS and OS X have come under increasing levels of attack.

Plus, the inevitable whining from the Homeland Insecurity crowd. They’re going to get their knickers in a bunch over Apple helping developers with tighter encryption.

Warming waters are a new factor in the collapse of New England cod fishery


Zach Whitener, research associate at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute

For centuries, cod were the backbone of New England’s fisheries and a key species in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Today, cod stocks are on the verge of collapse, hovering at 3-4% of sustainable levels. Even cuts to the fishery have failed to slow this rapid decline, surprising both fishermen and fisheries managers. For the first time, a new report in Science explains why. It shows that the cod collapse is in large part due to rapid warming of the ocean in the Gulf of Maine — 99 percent faster than anywhere else on the planet.

The rapid warming is linked to changes in the position of the Gulf Stream and to climate oscillations in the Atlantic and the Pacific. These factors add to the steady pace of warming caused by global climate change. In the face of already depleted cod stocks, fisheries managers in 2010 had placed a series of restrictions on harvesting this key Gulf of Maine species, but even strict quota limits on fishermen failed to help cod rebound…

Andrew Pershing and colleagues…found that increasing water temperatures reduce the number of new cod produced by spawning females. Their study also suggests that warming waters led to fewer young fish surviving to adulthood.

The models used by managers over the last decade to set the quotas for cod did not account for the impact of rising temperatures, leading to quotas that were too high. Fishermen stayed within their quotas, but still took more fish than the population could sustain.

“This creates a frustrating situation that contributes to mistrust between fishermen, scientists, and managers,” says Pershing. “The first step toward adapting fisheries to a changing climate is recognizing that warming impacts fish populations.”…

The study shows the risk of not including temperature in fisheries models, especially for stocks like Gulf of Maine cod that are at the edge of their range. The warmer our climate gets, the less fisheries managers can rely on historical data.

It’s as simple as that. Unique geography, offshore as well as onshore, alters responses to changing factors. A factor never previously much of a consideration – like water temperature – becomes important when the change provokes a new response. In this case, reducing the number of new cod from spawning females. And perhaps more problems further down the road.

Sad, but, true. I grew up subsistence fishing along the southern New England coast. I still have kin all the way north to Prince Edward Isle – and fishing is still an important part of life and local economy. They’re mostly not cod fisherfolk. But, warming waters ain’t going to make North Atlantic lobsters very happy either.

There’s also a more personalized story over here.

Chevron’s star witness busted for perjury

In March of last year, California-based oil giant Chevron hailed a sweeping victory in a two-decade long legal battle in the Ecuadorean Amazon. A New York federal judge, Lewis Kaplan, ruled that a $9.5 billion Lago Agrio judgment leveled against the company by the small Andean country’s highest court, was obtained by way of fraud and coercion.

In his decision, based on violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, the judge found that the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Steven Donziger, committed mail fraud, engaged in coercion, and paid bribes in order to win judgment against Texaco, which Chevron brought in 2001.

The case largely hung on Chevron’s star witness, Alberto Guerra, a former Ecuadorean judge who has admitted to receiving substantial amounts of money and other benefits to cooperate with Chevron. In New York, Guerra testified that he had struck a deal between the plaintiffs and the presiding judge, Nicolas Zambrano: Guerra would ghostwrite the verdict, Zambrano would sign it, and the two would share an alleged $500,000 in kickbacks from the plaintiffs.

In the RICO case ruling, Judge Kaplan stated that the “evidence leads to one conclusion: Guerra told the truth regarding the bribe and the essential fact as to who wrote the Judgment.”

But in testimony given before the international tribunal, released today by the government of Ecuador and provided to VICE News in advance, Guerra has now admitted that there is no evidence to corroborate allegations of a bribe or a ghostwritten judgment, and that large parts of his sworn testimony, used by Kaplan in the RICO case to block enforcement of the ruling against Chevron, were exaggerated and, in other cases, simply not true.

For those who have followed the case closely, including the environmental group Amazon Watch, Guerra’s admissions could amount to “game over” for Chevron, whose star witness has admitted to lying under oath and who has produced no evidence of the allegations that Chevron used to discredit the Ecuadorean ruling.

RTFA for a long, corrupt tale of a crew of scumbags. From pollution to depredation, perjury to bribery, Chevron hasn’t left out too many criminal acts.