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Archive for the 'Corporate Greed' Category

CALIFORNIAN’S STAND UP AGAINST ANIMAL CRUELTY

Posted in Conscious Actions, Corporate Greed, Humane Treatment of Animals, News Brief on October 11th, 2008

NEW BALLOT INITIATIVE WILL PROHIBIT SOME OF THE MORE INHUMANE PRACTICES OF FACTORY FARMS

Chickens in cruel battery cagesThis Election Day, November 4th, Californians will have the opportunity to vote to bring an end to some of the more inhumane and cruel practices of factory farms.

The ballot initiative, known as Proposition 2, if passed, will force California ranchers to ensure that their chickens, veal calves and breeding pigs are housed in such a way that they have ample room to stand up, turn around or stretch. This is a far cry from the current method of penning the animals so tightly together that movement is all but impossible.

While the measure is a far cry from the ideal of allowing the animals to live cage free, as about 10% of California’s egg producing chickens do, according to today’s Associated Press, it is the farthest-reaching measure dealing with farm animal treatment ever put before voters in any state.

Needless to say major egg producers are opposing the initiative and insist the current method of mass production where California’s 19 million egg-laying chickens are crammed six at a time into 2 square foot wire cages for their entire life is the most efficient way to deliver inexpensive eggs.

To prevent Proposition 2 from passing, opponents have raised nearly $7.5 million, including donations of $100,000 or more from at least 15 poultry producers. Along with the large cash donations are the threats that egg producers will move out of state or across the boarder into Mexico if voters approve Proposition 2.

The good news is that supporters of Proposition 2 have raised nearly the same amount of money with a $3.8 million contribution from the Humane Society enhancing individual donations.

Proposition 2’s restrictions would take effect in 2015. Violations carry the ridiculously low fine of $1,000, but I guess that this is a start.

- – Denis

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LOOSING YOUR RIGHT TO SUE FOR DAMAGES

Posted in Administrative Arrogance, Corporate Greed, Government Shenanigans, News Brief, Presidential Crimes & Misdemeanors on March 27th, 2008

TWO BILLS, WHICH WOULD TAKE AWAY YOUR RIGHTS TO HOLD THE DRUG COMPANIES AND DRUG EQUIPTMENT MANUFACTURES TO TASK FOR SHODDY MATERIALS AND WORKMANSHIP

handshake.jpgThroughout most of our country’s history, we as consumers have had the right to bring the individual or corporation responsible for manufacturing a faulty product to task for their carelessness or incompetence. Traditionally this recourse took place in a court of law, where all aspects of the situation would be explored, guilt or innocence established, and damages, when appropriate, accessed. But now, thanks to the Bush administration and their corporation-loving allies in Congress and on the Roberts Supreme Court, these days may be gone forever.

This attack on our rights as consumers began with the Supreme Court decision, several months back, which stripped patients using medical devices of the right to sue the manufacturers of those devices when they fail.

Now, this would be cause for distress at any time, but is particularly relevant at this point in our history when virtually everything is outsourced. While I personally am against most aspects of outsourcing, and believe that we could live quite well without the Wal-Marts of the world with their row upon row of cheaply made, inferior Chinese goods, outsourcing, from the look of it, is apparently here to stay. For this reason, our corporations need to be constantly vigilant in policing their foreign sub-contractors to insure that these organizations maintain the stringent standards for quality and workmanship that Americans are accustomed to demanding of their products. To date they have not done so, and probably will not unless forced to do so by law, a situation, which is unlikely, at least as long as George Bush remains in the White House.

The recent recalls of toxic toys and health care products from China should serve as an unforgettable example of what happens when the corporations stop at nothing to shave prices, but do so without providing for the infrastructure necessary to see that their outsourced products are safe.

Helping the corporations along in their march to irresponsible profitability is the Bush administration, who independent of the above referenced legislation, has spent the bulk of their time in office devastating the ranks of federal inspectors – the men and women who in previous administrations served as “we the people’s” last line of defense from shoddy materials, workmanship and the unchecked greed of our corporations.

Historically, perhaps the most effective recourse we have had keeping our manufacturing sector in check has been our ability to sue, and exact damages for poor quality products. Take this away and the corporate sector will become all-powerful and more out of control than it already is.

And as if the situation was not already bad enough, in the months to come, the Supreme Court is expected to take up Levine v. Wyeth. Levine v. Wyeth, according to a story published in a recent Washington Independent, will “examine the legality of a lawsuit preemption clause quietly written into an innocuous FDA labeling law in 2006”. Should the court side with coporate America as it is expected that it will on this matter as well, you and I would be barred from suing the drug companies when their products kill or maim.

Both of these affronts against the poor and the middle class are in keeping with the Bush administration’s adherence to a series of flawed theories, among them the one that awards to the corporation the rights enjoyed by, and the status of the individual.

Followers of this line of thinking believe that the corporation does not need outside regulation, that the FREE MARKET will force the corporations to self regulate, and innovate as they compete for the taxpayer’s dollar.

I only wish that this was true, but recent American history has shown the fallacy of this line of thinking. As proof of this, you need to go no farther than the damage done to the Medicare system by the Bush administration’s disastrous Part D. Drug Plan.

While this plan, as conceived, does help many of our fellow citizens, at least until they reach the gap of coverage a few thousand dollars in, it has done far more for the drug companies and insurance companies for whom, to be honest, the bill was written.

In one of those Bush administration gifts that keeps on giving, Part D drug coverage legislation prohibits Medicare, the nation’s largest insurer and purchaser of prescription drugs, from negotiating discount prices for the drugs that they purchase. This little throw-away has the net effect of transferring billions of dollars a year from the federal treasury to the coffers of drug companies in a move that can only be considered immoral and unethical.

But morals and ethics are not real concepts for the Bush administration, merely words that can be thrown like raw flesh to the cheering mobs of middle and lower class church goers who have bought George Bush’s ‘holier than thou’ bullshit.

Make no mistake; this administration is about profit, Profit for itself as in the case of Dick Cheney’s burgeoning portfolio of Halliburton stock, and profit for their followers. But this loyalty does not come cheap. Expect to see George Bush and Dick Cheney reap the riches that only a thankful corporate community can bestow when they leave office. This will come in the form of high paid directorships, consultancies and massive honorariums for appearing at dinners and sharing a few grunts.

But while this might be great for them, it does absolutely nothing for us. So what can we do?
First, it is important that we make our feelings known to our elected officials about Levine V. Wyeth, and what it would mean to us if this abomination passes. While there is probably not all that much, which we can do to sway the opinion of the Supreme Court, we can inundate our elected officials with our concerns and force them to address the matter legislatively.

The idea that anyone or anything can cause you or I bodily harm and potential loss of life and we have no recourse after the fact is downright wrong. Let your Congressman and Senator know that you think that this stinks. More importantly, remind them that this is an election year and if they cannot do the job, which you elected them to do, you will find someone who can.

And be vocal when you do this. Politicians do not react to nice talk. Sadly, it is a case of the old squeaky wheel getting action. I wish it was not so, but then, that is why I am supporting Obama.

-LIB

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COURAGEOUS KANSAS GOVERNOR VETOES PLANS TO REVIVE TWO COAL-FIRED ELECTRIC PLANTS

Posted in Conscious Actions, Corporate Greed, Corporate Polluters, Eco Warriors, Health Watch on March 24th, 2008

THE PLANTS WOULD ANNUALLY PRODUCE AN ADDITIONAL 11 MILLION TONS OF CARBON-DIOXIDE

climate_security1.jpgKudos to Kansas’ Democratic Governor, Kathleen Sebelius, for bravely vetoing a measure, which would have revived plans to construct two coal-fired power plants in the southwest corner of the state.

Production of the plants, estimated to generate up to 1,400 megawatts of electricity, was halted by the state’s secretary of health and the environment, Rod Bremby, when it was revealed that the plants would add an additional 11 million tons of carbon-dioxide for each 1400 megawatts generated.

As might be expected, Governor Sebelius’ action has brought about threats from prominent Kansas Republicans – who like their brothers and sisters elsewhere in the country, have never met a utility, no matter how destructive, that they could not embrace – to draft a new measure to revive the coal plants, but when or if they will be successful is unknown.

Now if only they would spend some of the money that they will invest in fighting this battle developing alternate sources of clean power, well, we all know what that could mean to our world and the futures of us all.

But that is not the way of the corporations, and more importantly why, an unregulated market based economy will never work. Unless big brother is there forcing their hand, the unmitigated greed of corporations will do nothing but destroy what little we have in this country that is actually engaged in doing the right thing by our citizens.

But this is a rant for another day…

-LIB

READ MORE…

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BUSH ‘DERAILS PLANNED CLIMATE PROTECTIONS

Posted in Corporate Greed, Corporate Polluters, Eco Thugs, Government Shenanigans, Health Watch, News Brief on March 13th, 2008

STEPS IN AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR TO PROTECT BIG MONEY POLLUTERS

bushpoint.jpgCorporate America’s bought paid-for friends in high places, the much hated George Bush and Dick Cheney, proved their worth to their multinational benefactors yet again, yesterday when they stepped in and muscled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) lapdog, Stephen Johnson, forcing the latter to overrule “the unanimous advice of the EPA’s scientific advisory council” for more stringent smog standards.

Had the standards in question become law, they would have established tougher seasonal limits on ozone based on its harm to forests, crops and other plants. Federal climate scientists had recommended those growing-season limits as a way to keep vegetation healthy and still capable of trapping carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming, according to a story originally published in the Los Angeles Times and reprinted on the Think Progress website.

The executive branch’s ruling came after months of closed-door meetings between EPA staffers and representatives of the oil, electric, and automotive industry.

With this action, once again, the Bush administration has placed the financial interests of corporate friends over the health and well being of us mere mortals. This news is particularly devastating to those among us who suffer from breathing related conditions.

-LIB

READ MORE…

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WHY ONCE AGAIN, WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE CORPORATIONS IS BAD FOR YOU AND ME

Posted in Corporate Greed, Corporate Polluters, Eco Thugs, Health Watch, News Brief on March 9th, 2008

CORPORATIONS FIGHT TOUGHER SMOG RULES IN SPITE OF WHAT IT WILL MEAN TO THOSE WHO SUFFER FROM CONDITIONS EITHER CAUSED BY OR GREATLY AGGRAVATED BY THE POLLUTION IN THE AIR THAT THEY BREATHE

airpollition3.jpgWhile most of America is caught-up this week bickering over who is best qualified to answer the red phone at 3 AM, the denizens of K street and their kinfolk in the executive suites of Corporate America, are reaching out to whoever will still take their calls in the Bush white house, in a last ditch effort to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new rules, which would reduce the allowable amount of ozone — commonly referred to as smog — in the air.

The lobbyists’ argument is that compliance with tougher laws will be costly and could, at least temporarily, “harm the economy in the areas forced to reduce emissions”.

Seriously now, don’t you just feel for these poor put upon souls in the executive suites of some of America’s most successful manufacturers, power utilities, and other corporate polluters? Doesn’t your heart just go out for them in their time of need?

NOT!

Perhaps if the entities in question had looked to the future years ago and begun to make the necessary adjustments because they were the “right” thing to do, they would not find themselves in the pickle that they are in today.

What’s more, had they acted way back when, they could have amortized the cost of compliance over a longer period of time and not be faced with the financial hit that they are sure to take in this, the eleventh hour.

But no!

One of the great disappointments in America today is that our corporations need to be forced -kicking and screaming – to do what is best for all of America and not just what is profitable for their executives and stockholders.

What the men and women in the executive suites need to realize is that if they were to get their way on this issue, you and I, and millions of our fellow citizens who suffer from health conditions either caused by, or greatly aggravated by, polluted air will pay for their good fortune.

To put this in perspective, the EPA has estimated that the planned reduction ( from 80 to 70 parts per billion) could result annually in 2,300 fewer nonfatal heart attacks; 48,000 fewer respiratory problems, acute bronchitis and asthma attacks; 7,600 fewer respiratory related hospital visits, and 890,000 fewer days when people miss work or school.

When seen in these terms, the EPA’s decision is a no-brainer. The question is why have they waited so long to make these changes? If you and I committed some act, which jeopardized the health of as many of our fellow citizens, we would be forced to answer for our actions in a court of law. Shouldn’t the corporations be held to the same standards?

The time has come in this county to place what is best for the many above that, which works for the few. The Republican ideal of a market-based economy, where the corporation reigns supreme, has failed. It is time that balance is returned to these United States, and to do this, the Corporations need to be reigned in and subjected to the rule of law.

-LIB

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PLANT RESPONSIBLE FOR 143 MILLION POUND BEEF RECALL, EXPECTED TO CLOSE

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Corporate Greed, Corruption Watch, Health Watch, News Brief, Toxic Food on February 25th, 2008

CALIFORNIA MEATPACKER A MAJOR SUPPLIER TO THE NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM

sickcowa11.jpgThe death knell is sounding for Chino, California meatpacker, Hallmark/Westland, following last weeks recall of 143 million pounds of fresh and frozen beef processed at the privately held California plant.

The recall, the industry’s largest, was ordered by the USDA following the release of an undercover video by the Humane Society of the United States, showing workers at the company’s Chino, California facility attempting to force injured or sick cows to stand with forklifts and electric-shock devices.

USDA rules prohibit “downer” cows from entering the food supply as the inability to stand can often be a symptom of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known to us mere mortals as mad-cow disease.

But the company’s alleged offenses did not stop there. The USDA also claims to have evidence that Hallmark/Westland employees had permitted some “downer” cows to go to slaughter after the cows had previously passed a preslaughter inspection. In such instances, meatpackers are required to contact USDA veterinarians for an additional inspection, something that the regulatory agency claims that Hallmark/Westland did not do.

As one who enjoys a good cheeseburger from time to time, I find myself unable, no make that unwilling, to feel all that bad for this company. Mad cow is nothing to be trifled with, as is any of the food borne illnesses. The failure to be conscious of this and to act accordingly reflects that this company, like so many others, possesses a culture which rewards greed and not employees dong what is best for their product’s end users. Employees do not make these sort of decisions on their own. Management was either aware of this or was so incompetent that they do not deserve to be in a business where their actions can impact on so many of our lives. What makes this situation particularly infuriating is that Hallmark/Westland is a major supplier of meat products to the National School Lunch Program.

Hopefully a fair investigation will be pursued and those found culpable charged in the appropriate jurisdiction.

One of the unfortunate realities of life today is that the majority of American corporations cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of their customers. The lure of record profits is enough in far too many instances for companies to be willing to play the odds. In this case, they got caught. But what about all of the times that this sort of action takes place and the first we know of it is when people start getting sick? Perhaps if we started holding the leaders of companies personally responsible for the actions of their companies, sincere efforts would be taken to ensure safer manufacturing processes. There is nothing like the threat of a protracted legal matter to make one think twice about committing criminal acts.

But then again, to do this, we would need to have a sufficient number of line inspectors to oversee these plants. Maybe when George Bush has ridden off into the sunset we will once again return sanity to the corporate arena.

- LIB

READ MORE….

Link to Humane Society Video

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RECORD BEEF RECALL

Posted in Corporate Greed, Corruption Watch, Health Watch, Toxic Food on February 19th, 2008

CALIFORNIA SLAUGHTERHOUSE PROVIDED BEEF TO SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAMS

2007-10-05-meat_patties1.jpgThe US Agriculture Department has ordered the recall of 143 million pounds of frozen beef from Chino, California based Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. The slaughterhouse, the subject of an animal-abuse investigation, is alleged to have not routinely contacted its veterinarian when cattle became non-ambulatory after passing inspection, which is a violation of health regulations.

READ MORE….

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FOOD POISONING’S LONG TERM EFFECTS

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Corporate Greed, Corporate Polluters, Health Watch, News Brief on January 22nd, 2008

E. COLI AND OTHER FOODBORNE ILLNESSES CAN TRIGGER SERIOUS HEALTH PROBLEMS YEARS LATER

hardees_hmed_12phmedium.jpgA dirty little secret that the food industry would rather that you did not know is that an ever-increasing number of individuals who suffered a bout of food poisoning in their younger years, have started to develop serious life-threatening illnesses, such as high blood pressure, kidney damage and in some cases total renal failure, sometimes as much as 10 to 20 years after their initial go-around with the disease.

While it is true that at the present time these conditions strike only a small fraction of the millions of people who get food poisoning each year, experts are unsure as to how many individuals may ultimately be at risk.

The sad thing is that most food-born illnesses do not have to occur. For the most part they are the end result of carelessness on the part of food growers, processors, and in some instances those responsible for preparing and serving the food.

In the past, much of this would have been caught long before it hand made its way to market, by our nations highly skilled cadre of federal food inspectors.

Sadly, this is no longer the case. Recent years have seen the virtual elimination of this last line of defense, ostensively as a cost cutting measure.

But as we now know, cost had little to do with the matter. The food inspectors were eliminated to placate administration friends in the AG business, incensed at years of losses incurred in making their products conform to federally mandated health and safety standards. It was the food industry’s contention and that of its friends in the Bush administration, that it was capable of policing itself and did not need costly government functionaries breathing down their neck at every turn.

Well, less than a decade later, it is apparent that this was wishful thinking of the most naïve sort. We now know that the food industry and for that matter, most industries, are incapable of policing themselves, and when forced to choose between what is best for their customers or their own bottom line, the bottom line always wins.

So what is a consumer to do?

Ideally, the way to go is to eliminate all meat and dairy products from one’s diet, though there are not that many of us willing or able to do so. A more reasonable suggestion, perhaps, is to eliminate any product, which is potentially suspect. This list is large and includes most prepackaged meat products such as burgers, hot dogs and cold cuts, as well as virtually all fast food items.

On a similar topic, it is important to carefully hand wash all fruits and vegetables, using one of those veggie wash solutions whenever possible. This extra step will remove whatever chemical residue remains on the item. Remember, it is not enough that the package says that it is pre-washed. Wash it yourself then you will know that it is clean.

Another good suggestion is to consider buying only organically certified fruits and vegetables. While they cost more and in some cases may not look as attractive, they are usually better tasting as they have not been sprayed with toxic substances or genetically modified as so much food is today.

-LIB

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MORE BAD BEEF RECALLED

Posted in Corporate Carelessness, Corporate Greed, Health Watch, News Brief on January 15th, 2008

188,000 POUNDS OF BEEF RECALLED BECAUSE OF E. COLI BACTERIA CONCERNS

2007-10-05-meat_patties1.jpgJust when you thought that it might be safe again to order that special hamburger with all the fixings, think again.

The Rochester Meat Company of Minnesota has announced that it has issued a recall of 188,000 pounds of hamburger patties and other beef products after five illnesses potentially cause by E. Coli bacteria were reported in Wisconsin and one in California.

The affected beef was produced October 30th and November 6th and was shipped to distributors nationwide for use in restaurants and food service institutions. The good news here is that it was not sold to consumers at retail, so there is not a lingering time bomb in your freezer.

Hopefully, whoever becomes president next year reinstates the FDA and Ag Department’s field inspectors and we can get a handle on this situation.

In the interim, the best advice I can give is avoid meat whenever possible.

-LIB

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INTEL BAILS ON “ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD” PROGRAM

Posted in Corporate Greed, News Brief on January 7th, 2008

THE COMPANY’S ACTION COMES AFTER AN INTEL SALESWOMAN WAS CAUGHT ATTEMPTING TO UNDERMINE THE HUMANITARIAN EFFORT

laptopolpc_a.jpgGood old greed raised its ugly little head once again, this time sabotaging the already tenuous relationship between chipmaker Intel and the “One Laptop Per Child” humanitarian effort.

The most recent problem came about after an Intel sales woman was caught attempting to convince a Peruvian official to cancel his country’s commitment to purchasing 250,000 of the Humanitarian group’s XO Model computers in favor of Intel’s own PC’s.

As of this writing it is unknown if the organization behind “One Laptop Per Child” intends to pursue legal action against Intel for its breach of a nondisparagement clause in the companies partnership agreement.

“One Laptop Per Child” is the brainchild of Nicholas Negroponte, a former MIT computer researcher.

The incident with the Peruvian representative is not the first such breach to be noted. Per Mr. Negroponte, the relationship first frayed last October, when an Intel salesman allegedly gave a Mongolian government official a side-by-side comparison of the Classmate PC and the
“One Laptop Per Child” PC.

- LIB

READ MORE…

“One Laptop Per Child” Web Site

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