This site provides information for consumers about how their spending habits affect human rights, animal rights and welfare, and the environment.
2016 Dec. 3: theguardian.com Chinese workers producing Christmas toys not so merry
ChinaLabor Watch says wages are very low and living conditions in dormitories that house workers are very harsh. Families are separated by conditions of work and living accommodations. "Overtime can run to nearly three times the legal limit." Some of the most popular brand name toys, such as Barbie dolls, Thomas the Tank Engine Minis, and Fisher-Price Learn with Me Zebra Walker, are made in Chinese factories.
2016 Dec. 5: bbc.com Whirlpool criticized for slowness repairing fire-prone dryers
"Some five million affected machines were sold in the UK, under the Creda, Indesit and Hotpoint brands, between April 2004 and September 2015."
2016 Dec. 4: theguardian.com Army Corps of Engineers denies permit for Dakota Access pipeline
One day before the previously announced deadline for protesters to leave the camp of Native Americans and environmental activists set up to block drilling for oil under a major source of water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which has authority over the project, announced it will not permit the drilling. The Corps will look for alternative routes for the pipeline.
The tribe and its many supporters joyously celebrated the decision as a major victory after months of effort in the face of great difficulties, but the tribe's attorney warned it could still be overturned by the incoming Trump administration.
2016 Nov. 25: npr.org Dakota Access Protesters ordered to leave by Dec. 5
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has today written to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that the camp being used by protesters of the Dakota Access Pipeline will be closed on December 5 and all occupants evicted. Tribe chairman Dave ArchambaultII has stated the tribe's resistance to the pipeline will continue.
2016 Nov. 23: huffingtonpost.com 85% of food samples in 2015 had pesticide residues
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the levels found are not risky for consumers, but some scientists say this is misleading because the data does not show effects of "regular, repeated consumption".
"Spinach, strawberries, grapes, green beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon were among the foods found with illegal pesticide residue levels. Even residues of chemicals long banned in the United States were found, including residues of DDT or its metabolites found in spinach and potatoes."
There was no data on glyphosate, a suspected carcinogen, "the most widely used herbicide in the world", and the most important ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup.
Tests by the Federal Department of Agriculture and private concerns also produced disturbing results and lack sufficient data to support safety claims. They raise the question whether regulations are designed more to protect producers of the pesticides than consumers of the foods.
2016 Nov. 16: wikipedia.org Dakota Access Pipeline
The $3.7 billion Dakota Access Pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners, runs through North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois. This oil pipeline has highlighted controversy between protesting Native Americans and environmental activists vs. corporations that stand to profit from fossil fuels, with accusations of violence against both sides.
The election of Donald Trump as incoming U.S. President has made Dakota Access owner Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren "100 percent sure that the pipeline will be approved". Trump has sizable investments in the project, and has spoken in favor of using America's large fossil fuel reserves, but has not commented on this particular pipeline.
Thousands of protesters planned nationwide protests starting yesterday, Nov. 15. They claim sacred sites and safety of water in the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation are threatened by a potential leak in the pipeline. The pipeline is scheduled to go under Lake Oahe, the reservoir on which the Sioux depend for their water.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has final authority over construction of the pipeline. Sioux tribe Chair David Archambault wants the Corps to deny a permit to cross Lake Oahe and require the pipeline to be rerouted farther from Sioux lands.
For a a concise summary of the issues and legal actions, see nbc news Nov. 4.
For more detailed but fascinating information well worth your time, including history of relations between American Indian tribes--legally sovereign nations--and the U.S. government, see The Atlantic, Sept. 9. Of particular interest is the section on the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie and the land beneath the pipeline.
The Atlantic notes that "Of course, this history does not answer whose land it really is: American law still respects the underlying logic of the 'doctrine of discovery,' the idea that European Christians could lay claim to land if they were the first to document it. But it is in partial recognition of the painful history of colonial land grabs that modern federal law accords certain rights to Native groups. Since 1992, one of these rights could be described as the right to be consulted: Whenever a federal agency undertakes or approves a construction project, it must consult with local Native nations or tribes about whether sacred sites or places are nearby."
2016 Nov. 16 Yahoo News: "Business calls for Trump, world leaders to support Paris climate pact"
The statement by more than 360 businesses and investors including "DuPont, Gap , General Mills , Hewlett Packard , Hilton , Kellogg , Levi Strauss & Co., L'Oreal USA, Nike , Mars Incorporated, Schneider Electric, Starbucks and Unilever" asked for prompt implementation of the Nov. 4 Paris agreement on climate change. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has said he wants to scrap the agreement.
2016 Nov. 6 Yahoo News: Volkswagen Board Chairman investigated
"The company says in government documents that an electrical connector for the passenger seat air bag sensor can become disconnected. That can cause the air bag to inflate when a child is in the seat or deploy with too little force to protect an adult. In both cases, passengers could be hurt, but Hyundai says it has no reports of injuries."
2016 Oct. 12 bbc.com/news/technology Update on Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones
Questions remain, such as whether moving to batteries that could not be removed by users contributed to the phones catching fire.
2016 Oct.11 bbc.com/business "Samsung permanently stops Galaxy Note 7 production"
The phablets had problems with some of them catching fire and exploding. Some of the replacement devices also caught fire. Samsung has stopped all sales, replacement, and production of the phones. "The handset was never released for sale in the UK."
2016 Oct.7 npr.org EpiPen-Medicare/Medicaid dispute settledfor $465 million
The EpiPen auto-injector is used to reverse serious allergic reactions. Medicaid claimed EpiPen maker Mylan misclassified the drug as generic, thus paying far less in required rebates to Medicaid than it should have for a brand name drug.
2016 Sept. 30 EcoWatch.com Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) sues ExxonMobil
The Foundation accuses Exxon of misleading the public and regulators about effects of climate change on its facility outside Boston and consequent pollution of Boston Harbor estuary.
Samsung asks consumers to enter their machine's serial number, "located on the rear of the washing machine", on their website to see if they have a machine that is affected.
2016 Sept. 27 EcoWatch.com China and the tiger trade
"In legal tiger farms across China, some 6,000 caged cats are kept in filthy conditions and will be killed for dubious medicinal uses and as home decor for the country's newly-rich elite. The sordid business is mostly legal, but hides behind carefully-worded agreements and pretensions of conservation. The issue is expected to be addressed at this week's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) meeting in Johannesburg."
2016 Sept. 26 EcoWatch.com Criticism of Nestle and bottled water
"Nestlé's grab of a Canadian community's water supply has sparked international outrage and calls to boycott the company and bottled water."
"The Guangzhou Grandview Aquarium said it wanted to take in giant pandas among thousands of other animals."
2016 Sept. 21 Reuters via Yahoo news U.S.Congress vs. EpiPen price increases
EpiPen is a device that saves lives of children with severe allergic reactions. The company that manufactures it, Mylan N.V., has raised the price drastically since 2007. "Several lawmakers noted EpiPen's growing profits over the same period as well as [the CEO's] annual salary, which has increased from around $2.5 million to more than $18 million."
2016 Sept. 16 EcoWatch.com "France Becomes First Country to Ban Plastic Silverware, Plates and Cups"
"The measure was part of the Energy Transition For Green Growth bill that was passed in 2015 and went into effect last month. But producers of disposal plates, cups and cutlery will have until 2020 to make sure their products are made with biologically sourced materials and can be composted."
2016 Sept. 15 pcworld.com Tesla Motors Autopilot problems
"Tesla Motors is once again facing controversy over the safety of its Autopilot technology for assisting car drivers, this time in connection with the death of the driver in a Model S crash in China."
Problems with lithium-ion batteries in the phones have caused some of them to catch fire. These types of batteries are also used in many other devices, including toys.
2016 September 9 BBC News Lions bred in captivity in South Africa so "hunters" can take expensive trophies
"'Canned' lion hunting is illegal in South Africa, but captive-bred lion hunting is allowed. Amid a raft of regulations there is a fine line between the two - and something which differs by province." A guide whistles to a lion, the lion stops, and the "hunter", who pays big bucks for the privilege, shoots.
Proponents of the practice (sport??) argue it expands the habitat of these endangered animals and others introduced as prey, and that "managed breeding can strengthen the gene pool".
2016 September 3 BBC News Plastic microbeads cause environmental damage
Microbeads used in scrubbing in cleaners and cosmetics end up in the ocean and damage marine animals who eat them, adding to the damage caused by plastic bags. They are hard to detect in ingredients lists. See to see products that do/do not contain them.
2016 September 2 Yahoo News Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery fires
"Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has recalled all Galaxy Note 7 smartphones equipped with batteries it has found to be fire-prone and halted their sales in 10 markets...."
"Models in China feature a different battery and are not being recalled by Samsung...."
2016 Sept. 1 Truthout Apple workers labor under violations in Chinese factories
According to China Labor Watch, Pegatron and Foxconn continue to exploit workers with excessive required overtime, wages below the legal minimum, "daily unpaid labor of more than one hour, cramped and unsanitary living conditions in factory dormitories, and the failure to provide necessary protective equipment, which puts the health and safety of workers at risk".
Violations "are happening a full decade after they were first brought to Apple's attention", according to the article.
2016 August 25 TheHill.com Milan response to critics of huge price increases for EpiPen allergy treatment
Savings amounted to 50 percent but "Mylan announced the changed [sic] a day after Hillary Clinton denounced the company for hiking the cost of EpiPens 400 percent in recent years."
The chemical, dicamba, is a herbicide. "This past spring, Monsanto Co. started selling GM Roundup Ready Xtend soybean and cotton seeds to farmers in Missouri and several other states. The seeds are genetically engineered to withstand sprays of glyphosate and dicamba herbicides. The problem is that the Xtend dicamba herbicide designed to go with the seeds has not yet been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), leading many farmers to spray their GMO soybeans and cotton with older formulas of dicamba—illegally."
"While Monsanto's GMO crops can tolerate sprays of dicamba, other crops can't." Farmers in areas affected by dicamba drift may be forced to stop growing non-GMO crops and start using Monsanto's seeds instead. Some have experienced massive damage to a wide range of crops, such as soybeans, cotton, fruits and vegetables.
Resistance to current herbicides grows rapidly, creating a vicious circle of new herbicides and new GMO crops that resist the herbicides. Farmers' and home gardeners' choices of what they can grow and still stay in business may become severely limited.
2016 Aug. 15 Yaho news Tesla Beijing crash
The Aug. 2 crash with another vehicle damaged both cars but did not cause injuries. A previous crash in Florida was fatal. Tesla removed the terms "autopilot" and "self-driving" from its website and replaced them with the term "self-assisted driving". Chinese law requires a driver to keep both hands on the wheel. Additional training for employees demonstrating the autopilot function re-emphasizes the two hands rule and that drivers are "responsible for always maintaining control of the vehicle", but "other Tesla drivers interviewed by Reuters said China sales staff took their hands off the wheel while demonstrating the function."
2016 Aug. 11 USA Today Cruelty in Tyson chicken plants
Once again, animal rights activists have posed as employees to take undercover videos of the cramped living conditions and appallingly abusive treatment chickens go through to render billions of dollars in poultry sales for Tyson. One of the videos is shown in the link above. Forewarned is forarmed: if you watch it, you may never enjoy eating chicken again.
2016 Aug. 7 New York Times Results of research can be biased by donations to research institutions
The New York Times reveals the long arm of corporate money and influence reaches even to respected tax-exempt Washington think tanks like the Brookings Institution. "Thousands of pages of internal memos and confidential correspondence between Brookings and other donors — like JPMorgan Chase, the nation’s largest bank; K.K.R., the global investment firm; Microsoft, the software giant; and Hitachi, the Japanese conglomerate — show that financial support often came with assurances from Brookings that it would provide “donation benefits,” including setting up events featuring corporate executives with government officials...."
2016 Aug. 7 Aljazeera Protests against display of polar bear in Chinese shopping center
"More than half a million people have signed an online petition calling for the closure of a theme park in the Chinese city of Guangzhou, where a polar bear is on show." China has no animal welfare law, but people are concerned the bear is kept in a small space and has no company.
2016 Aug 2
UBS Asset Management and two professors,"Drs. Spengler and Vorosmarty", set out to measure effects of company actions on "climate change, water and health".
"Vorosmarty and Spengler say they expect to have a working prototype by the end of the year."
2016 Aug 2: openDemocracy Human rights treaties and foreign investment
"Evidence suggests that human rights treaties provide a reputational shield for companies to invest in the worst rights-violating countries.
"Violating more human rights is associated with less FDI, but only for countries that have committed to three or fewer human rights treaties."
Related: see Measurement of change by green companies above.
2016 July 12 BBC News: Kimberly-Clark: Venezuela seizes and re-opens US-owned factory
"Over the weekend [Kimberly-Clark] became the latest multinational to close or scale back operations in the country, citing strict currency controls, a lack of raw materials and soaring inflation. General Mills, Procter & Gamble and other corporations have reduced operations in Venezuela as the country is gripped by economic crisis and widespread shortages of basic household goods."
Ryan Mallett–Outtrim of Counterpunch argues the main cause of Venezuela's woes is mismanagement of the currency rate--a capitalist rather than socialist phenomenon, he says. Focusing on the booming oil industry left other sectors of the economy dependent on imports by private industry, which because of currency devaluation has been unable to buy needed goods.
Getting currency at cheap rates unsustainably subsidized by the government led to corrupt speculators buying currency from the government supposedly to import needed goods but not importing goods at all, instead using the government currency to buy still cheaper currency on the black market, then repeating the practice in a vicious cycle. Political factors have made tough currency decisions difficult, ensuring that no matter what is decided, some powerful groups will be unhappy. Ryan-Mallet says former President Hugo Chavez was more willing to make these kinds of decisions than current President Nicolas Maduro.
A report by John Holman on Al Jazeera shows in human terms how desperate the situation in Venezuela is.
2016 July 12 Yahoo News (Reuters): "Ikea to recall 1.7 million chests, dressers in China"
The recall followed one in the U.S. prompted by child deaths from chests tipping over. Ikea decided to extend the recall to China after criticism from the Xinhua news agency or not doing so.
"Peabody Energy was revealed as a funder of a web of groups and organisations that have worked to spread doubt over human-caused climate change while fighting rules to cut greenhouse gas emissions."
2016 July 9 Truthout Restaurant franchises
"The average American meal travels 1,500 miles from farm to plate", contributing significantly to carbon emissions. Darden, owner of brands such as Olive Garden Yard House, and Long Horn Steakhouse, could help considerably by buying locally grown food. It could also help by paying the full federal minimum wage to tipped workers, which is required in only 7 states.
2016 July 8 Yahoo News (Reuters) Dupont must pay half a million dollars to victim of Teflon ingredient C-8
Dupont will appeal the jury decision. "DuPont spokesman Dan Turner said the verdict resulted in part from jurors being misled about the risks of exposure to C-8."
2016 July 6 BBC News: "Half a million hoverboards recalled in US"
Overheating battery packs in models made in China have caused burns and property damage. "Models involved include: 267,000 Swagway X1s 84,000 iMotos 70,000 Powerboards 28,000 Hovertraxs 25,000 Hype Roams 16,000 Hover-Ways".
"Customers are also being asked to return a further 5,000 Swagway hoverboards distributed in Canada."
2016 July 3 Yahoo News (Reuters) Volkswagen says will not compensate European customers same as it did U.S. customers.
Volkswagen CEO Maatthias Muller said the situation is not comparable. He said emissions standards in the U.S. are stricter, buyback is voluntary in the U.S. but not Germany, and VW has to offer German customers incentives.
"China, where an animal-loving middle class has been trying to change old ways, has promoted substitutes for tiger bones, rhino horns and certain other wild animal products, but doubts persist about their usefulness even among some officials."
2016 July 1 labornotes.org Chinese Walmart workers on wildcat strike against flexible scheduling
Strikes in China are not officially allowed but are not illegal. Ironically the only union is tightly controlled by the communist government and not by workers. Hence the great number of wildcat strikes not called by union leaders.
The system of flexible scheduling allows Walmart to avoid overtime pay for days longer than 8 hours by assigning fewer hours on other days, as long as they assign no more than 174 hours in a month. In addition, irregular scheduling makes it very difficult to maintain a second job.
"Moreover, workers fear the system will open the door to replacing more full-time jobs with part-time and casual ones—a familiar development for Walmart workers in the United States."
Workers say Walmart has used coercive tactics to get them to sign agreement with the new flexible scheduling policy. They also have been intimidated by Walmart management to refrain from effective organizing. Lack of real collective bargaining has led to falling wages after accounting for inflation.
"This struggle offers a chance to build international solidarity." Chinese and American Walmart workers have been in contact regarding flexible scheduling and the fight for a $15 minimum wage.
2016 July 1 Yahoo News (AFP Relax News): U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation: bacteria in flour in uncooked products, such as cookie dough and baking mixes, can make you sick
- "FDA offers these tips for safe food handling to keep you and your family healthy:
- Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
- Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
- Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
- Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
- Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked."
2016 June 29 Yahoo News (Reuters): "Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> has recalled 3.37 million cars worldwide over possible defects involving air bags and emissions control units."
"Sweden-based auto safety gear maker Autoliv Inc confirmed on Wednesday that it supplied the air bag inflators involved."
2016 June 28 The Guardian Buenos Aires zoo will close
Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta says captivity is degrading for animals.The zoo will be converted to an ecopark and the animals who live there and are in good enough condition to be moved will be transfered to nature reserves. "Older animals and those too infirm to be moved will remain at the current site", but "will no longer be exhibited to the public".
The zoo's private concessionaires had been losing money and the zoo had been criticized for bad conditions of the animals.
2016 June 28 BBCNews: "Ikea recalls Malm drawers in North America after child deaths"
The drawers can tip over when not attached to a wall. Ikea is urging customers to follow assembly instructions to attach the chests to a wall. "Consumers can choose between a refund or a free wall-anchoring repair kit."
2016 June 10 Yahoo news: "Tesla to clarify how customers may disclose problems"
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Tesla has satisfactorily clarified troublesome language regarding nondisclosure of agreements to repair vehicles.
The issue arose because complaints of suspension problems in Tesla cars had been filed with the NHTSA, and one of the owners had "said Tesla agreed to pay 50 percent of a $3,100 repair bill if the owner agreed to keep the arrangement confidential."
"Tesla said in a blog post late on Thursday that it 'has never and would never ask a customer to sign a document to prevent them from talking to NHTSA or any other government agency.' But the company said it often requires customers to sign a 'goodwill agreement' with a nondisclosure clause when the company agrees to cover or discount repairs even if it is not responsible.'"
Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted "that 37 of 40 suspension complaints filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were fraudulent." He said "a false location or vehicle identification numbers were used."
The NHTSA said Tesla "was cooperating fully with its review and that no suspension problems had been found 'to date.'"
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.
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.
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.
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 isnâ€™t alone. A new exposÃ© 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...."
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
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...."
"CLWâ€™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 workersâ€™ 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.
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 cellâ€™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.
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.