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Recent News

Older news has been moved to In the News and can be searched by date or category. Still older news can be searched in the Archives.

2016 June 9 Yahoo News More Japanese auto recalls

Defective Takata airbags, plus Nissan engine bracket mount and steering issues cause hundreds of thousands of Honda and Nissan cars to be recalled.

2016 June 4 Truth-out.org Sound pollution in world's oceans threatens lives of whales and other marine species

"'Marine species need sound for everything they do, and have exquisite hearing,' says Dr. Kenneth Balcomb. 'But now the sounds of ships is ubiquitous in all of the open oceans.'"

Whales use sound for such things as long-distance communication and detecting far-away storms. Greatly increasing human-produced sound is drowning out sounds marine species use for such things as long-distance communication and detection of far-away storms. It also causes serious physical damage: "There have been several documented instances of US Navy sonar causing brain hemorrhaging, organ lesions and bleeding from the ears in whales."

Despite lawsuits won by the Natural Resources Defense Council's (NRDC) Marine Mammal Protection, the Navy has a long way to go to improve protection of the environment.

2016 June 2 Ecowatch Chile metro system renewable energy breakthrough

"California solar company SunPower, an affiliate of French oil company Total," will provide 42 percent of the Santiago metro's energy per year. 18 percent will be provided by a "San Juan wind project developed by Spain-based Elecnor and owned by Brazilian renewable energy firm Latin America Power...." Service will start in 2018.

2016 June 3 endangeredspeciesdnews.com US bans significant amount of ivory trade

The US is one of the largest markets for ivory in the world. Because it is impossible to distinguish between illegal ivory and legal ivory, the only way to control poaching is to ban all ivory sales. "The final revision for of the 4(d) rule of the Endangered Species Act for African elephants allows for exceptions for items containing de minimis amounts of ivory and documented antiques."

An interesting, readable, and informative description of African and Asian elephants' relationship to human society and the ecosytem is at bagheera.com.

2016 May 29 Truth-out.org Duke Energy fights restrictions on fracked gas and coal ash in home state of North Carolina

Environmental groups say Duke Energy is shielded from scrutiny by commissioners appointed by a governor who is a former Duke executive. Duke also has powerful lobbyists and large political contributions.

The environmental groups have been ordered to post an impossibly high bond to pursue efforts to show Duke plans to increase fracking. The environmentalists also object to Duke's plans to clean up leaking coal ash pits in ways the environmentalists think are good in some ways but not adequate.

2016 May 19 bbc.com Campaigners ask McDonald's to drop New Zealand fish

Campaigners allege New Zealand government covered up amount of overfishing and dumping of unwanted fish, as well as threat to endangered dolphins from fishing nets.

2016 May 16 Truthout.org U.S. Navy authorized to harm millions of marine mammals in course of military projects

"A multistate, international citizen watchdog group called the West Coast Action Alliance (WCAA), tabulated numbers that came straight from the Navy's Northwest Training and Testing EIS (environmental impact statement) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Letters of Authorization for incidental 'takes' of marine mammals issued by NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service."

Use of sonar and explosives contributes to injury and sometimes deaths of the animals. Other species and areas, such as the Gulf of Alaska, are also severely threatened by greatly increasing military activities.

Critics note a lack of transparency to the public about the numbers of animals harmed and collusion between agencies such as the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Navy. They also say that when it comes to legal restrictions on harm to marine life, national security trumps environmental impacts in the political arena.

2016 My 8 npr.org: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) striving to define the meaning of the word "natural".

May 10 is the deadline for the public to submit comments. Many view "natural" as being good in a moral--and historically, often in a religious--sense, but there is no clear consensus as to what "natural" means in a scientific sense. The confusion has led to a proliferation of lawsuits against companies which use the term.

2016 May 6 truth-out.org: Peabody Coal blockade

Missouri activists demand justice in handling bankruptcy settlements for workers, indigenous communities, and others affected by "the environmental devastation, residential displacement and unsafe labor practices of Peabody Coal, the world's second-largest coal producer, which is based in St. Louis."

2016 May 5 BBC News: Plastic microbeads in exfoliant cosmetics harm marine life

"The problem is that microbeads are so tiny they slip through water treatment works and enter the ocean, where they are ingested by fish and other creatures." The United Kingdom may unilaterally ban their use in shower gels and facial scrubs if the European Union doesn't. Unilever has begun to remove them voluntarily.

2016 May 3 Wall Street Journal Johnson & Johnson jury verdicts over talc in baby powder

2016 May 3 BBC News China's internet regulator investigates search engine Baidu

A student who had searched for cancer treatment "from a hospital that came top of the list on his Baidu web search" died last month. Baidu has been accused of selling paid search results without indicating they are paid and "without adequately checking their claims."

2016 April 28 Ecowatch Cousteau tells SeaWorld captive orcas should be freed

2016 April 15 BBC News: Orcas in captivity

"Last month SeaWorld announced it was ending its orca breeding programme and said the 29 orcas currently in its parks would be the last. But the company did not step back from its long-held claim that its orcas - also known as killer whales - live long healthy lives. Liz Bonnin was granted unique access to SeaWorld to investigate this claim and weigh the scientific evidence."

2016 April 12 Yahoo News: Major Chinese internet companies agree to cooperate with controversial law to fight terror

Rights groups say the law unnecessarily curbs free speech.

2016 April 6Yahoo News: New U.S. Treasury rule on offshore tax havens prompts Pfizer to scrap planned merger with Allergan

Pfizer is based in New York and Allergan is based in Ireland, where taxes are lower. Such mergers are called inversions.

Pfizer, Allergan and other large pharmaceutical companies have been criticized for large price increases of many of their drugs in recent years.

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2016 March 30 npr.org: "Why Whole Foods Wants A Slower-Growing Chicken"

Modern meat chickens are bred to grow so fast they have difficulty supporting their weight on their legs. Those who live longer because they are kept as breeders get so heavy they have to be on severe diets and are always hungrey. The advantage to the poultry industry is more meat for less feed and less land to grow feed.

2016 March 29 bbc.com: Journalist at Chinese newspaper resigns over government control of media

"Yu Shaolei, an editor at Southern Metropolis Daily, posted a resignation note online, saying he could no longer follow the Communist Party line." He also indicated his social media account had been censored.

"A columnist at the same paper, Li Xin, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances in Thailand after claiming he had been forced to inform on fellow journalists, is now back in police custody in China, our correspondent adds."

2016 March 25 insideclimatenews.org: "Exxon Must Hold Shareholder Vote on Climate Change Resolutions, SEC Says"

Activists have presented shareholder resolutions about moral responsibility and financial risks associated with global warming for consideration at the May ExxonMobil annual meeting. Exxon argued unsuccessfuly that it had already addressed the issues noted in the resolutions. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disagreed and ruled ExxonMobil shareholders must be allowed to vote on the resolutions.

"Separately, the Rockefeller Family Fund said it will divest its holdings in Exxon...." The fund said "Evidence appears to suggest that the company worked since the 1980s to confuse the public about climate change's march, while simultaneously spending millions to fortify its own infrastructure against climate change's destructive consequences...." Exxon countered that "the Rockefeller Family Fund provided financial support to InsideClimate News and Columbia University, which he said 'produced inaccurate and deliberately misleading stories' about the company's climate research." For an account of these stories, see the 2015 December democracynow.org report, which stated that "Internal documents revealed Exxon knew that fossil fuels cause global warming in the 1970s, but hid that information from the public. Now it turns out that Exxon isn’t alone. A new exposé from InsideClimate News reveals nearly every major U.S. and multinational oil and gas company was likely aware of the impact of fossil fuels on climate change at the same time as Exxon."

2016 March The fund said 17 bbc.com: Good news for whales: SeaWorld stops breeding orcas ("killer" whales)

Animal rights activists celebrated, as they have long criticized the breeding of captive whales and using them for entertainment.

"The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) worked with SeaWorld on its new policies...."

Bad news for whales: Japan resumes whale hunting in Antarctic

Japan claims the hunt is for scientific research, an exception allowed under international law. "Activists say the programme is inhumane and unsustainable."

"Japan insists it is trying to prove the whale population is large enough to justify a return to whaling for commercial purposes, and says it has to kills the mammals to carry out its research."

2016 March 8 fusion.net: Escalating levels of radioactive chemical in Biscayne Bay, Florida caused by Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant.

In addition, drinking water for the Florida Keys is threatened. The plant is operated by Florida Power and Light (FPL), which has had its own environmental problems.

2016 March 10 thinkprogress.org: Verizon fined $1.35 million for privacy violations

Hard-to-remove cookies tracked customer data without their knowledge. The data was collected for the benefit of advertisers. Under a new 3-year plan with The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Verizon will be required to give customers the opportunity to opt out of being tracked.

2016 March 9 marketwatch.com: Chipotle customers in Billerica, MA restaurant diagnosed with norovirus

"Chief Executive Steve Ellis has apologized for that incident, as well as E. coli outbreaks across the country last year.

"The fast-casual restaurant chain has taken a series of measures to improve food safety procedures...."

2016 March 7 motherjones.com: "12 Most Toxic Fish (For Humans and the Planet)"

Food and Water Watch Smart Seafood Guide notes such things as overfishing, mercury and PCBs, chemicals and antibiotics, damage to marine life and seabirds, pesticides, and lack of regulation.

2016 March 7 bbc.com: Ransomware hits Apple Macs for first time

Ransomware is an infection that locks files on computers and demands payment from computer owners to unlock the files. As the number of Macs in use increases, the attempts by hackers to target them is expected to increase also. Users of Macs and a computer program called Transmission should ugrade their software immediately.

2016 March 7 yahoo.com: "Supreme Court rejects Apple e-books price-fixing appeal"

"Publishers that the Justice Department said conspired with Apple include Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp's HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Penguin Group Inc, CBS Corp's Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH's Macmillan."

2016 March 7 China Labor Watch: Investigations of China-based factories

  • Child labor use at Samsung factories and suppliers Huizhou (HEG), HTNS, and Shinyang Electronics
  • Also at Shinyang Electronics, safety violations, restricted hiring of males, violations of insurance requirements, violation of China's Labor Contract Law, illegal requirements for excessive overtime, pretexts "to punish workers for almost any behavior", no worker's union, and hot, crowded dormitories that lack hot water.
  • "Illegal and unfair working conditions" in cookware factories that supply "Macy’s, Walmart, Kohl’s, Carrefour, IKEA, Cuisinart, Tupperware, WMF, Kuhn Rikon, and others."
  • Labor violations, illegal excessive overtime, unpaid overtime, and safety concerns at "a Quanta Computers factory in Shanghai, China that manufactures computers for Sony, Apple, Dell, and HP...."
  • Deceptive audits of Mattel's toy factories due to bribing of auditors
  • 2016 March 5 The Washington Post U.S. company Pfizer merges with Irish company Allergan for huge savings in U.S. tax dollars

    U.S. company Johnson Controls employed this increasingly popular stragegy last month by merging with Irish company Tyco.Some U.S. Getting legislation passed in an election to slow or halt this trend is unlikely and legislators are divided on what to do about the problem.

    2016 March 4 Institute for Southern Studies: Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) announces national boycott of Wendy's:

    The Coalition is putting pressure on Wendy's regarding human rights abuses in its supply chain. CIW wants Wendy's to join the Fair Food Program and buy tomatoes only from that program. CIW says Wendy's "stopped buying tomatoes from Florida after the program was implemented there", instead buying tomatoes from Mexico, "where human rights abuses in agriculture are widespread...."

    "CIW has won a U.S. State Department award and a presidential medal for its efforts to combat modern-day slavery in Florida's farm fields...."

    2016 February 24 China Labor Watch (CLW): "Study Casts Doubts on Apple’s Ethical Standards"

    "CLW’s findings suggest severe discrepancies between what Apple tells the public and its investors about the working hours of workers making its products and the reality on the production line."

    "Chinese Labor Law requires that monthly overtime hours not exceed 36 hours, but at Pegatron Shanghai, only 1.1% of workers’ overtime hours are within this limit." The statistical methods and data on which CLW bases its claims are given in writing and a number of graphs on its website. One graph shows a big difference bewteen CLW statistics and Apple Statistics.

    Workers interviewed by CLW said they were required to attend unpaid meetings before and after their shifts.

    2016 Feb. 23 Democracy Now!:

    The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has succeeded in getting four out of five of the largest fast food corporations in the U.S. to join its Fair Food Program. Wendy's is the only one that has not. According to s spokesperson for the CIW, Wendy's has "chosen to come out with a code of conduct for their suppliers, which actually has no teeth in comparison to the Fair Food Program that the CIW has created." The program has dramatically improved wages and working conditions--which have even included slavery--for farmworkers and has expanded from Florida tomatoes to other states, and to bell peppers and strawberries. For more on the CIW and slavery, use the search box in the top right corner of this page.

    2016 Feb. 9 PCWorld.com Cisco warns of security risks in internet-connected home devices.

    Devices such as home thermostats that can be set by remote control and home security systems are part of the Internet of Things technology. Because vendors do not always place a high priority on security of these devices, flaws in their designs can enable hackers to infect them with malicious code. An example of such a device is the Trane thermostat, which was not updated to prevent security risks for two years after the risks were discovered. Consumers are urged to take security warnings seriously and install updates as soon as they become available.

    2016 Feb. 1 Scientific American BPS (Bisphenol S) animal studies indicate it has similar effects as the BPA it often replaces in plastic products

    Even minute amounts of BPS "can disrupt a cell’s normal functioning, which could potentially lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity, asthma, birth defects or even cancer." A rat study demonstrated heart arrhthmias in female rats.

    Of Special Concern

    Special Report: Chocolate

    2013: How to make sure your chocolate purchases do not support child slavery.

    Special Report: Torture

    There is hope!Please see the post on a January 2012 anti-torture resolution by the city of Chicago, and how other municipalities can do the same. If you do not see it at first, refresh the page by clicking the refresh button on your browser bar or pressing the f5 key.

    Special Report: Fair Trade

    2013 update summarizes changes in standards and controversy over increasing availability of products with the certification by making it easier to get certified vs. maintaining more rigorous standards. Fair World Project offers suggestions for resolving the conflict by making product labels more transparent about percentage of ingredients that are certified.

    Special Report: Modern-Day Slavery