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Animal Rights and Welfare

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. 22 BBC News Chinese acquarium in a shopping mall criticized for inadequate housing of "worlds's saddest polar bear" and other wild mammals.

"The Guangzhou Grandview Aquarium said it wanted to take in giant pandas among thousands of other animals."

2016 July 2 Animal rights groups in China vs. traditional Chinese medicine

"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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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."

2015 Nov. 5 Another move to cage-free egg production

If you are a hen, this move may not come during your lifetime, but at least there is a bit of progress in the industry. "Bakery-cafe chain Panera Bread Co will stop using eggs laid by caged hens by 2020, following similar moves from McDonald's Corp and other large U.S. restaurant chains."

2015 Oct. 9 bbc: California forbids Seaworld from breeding whales

Ruling may spell end of Seaworld park killer whale (orca) program. Critics say Seaworld's program is inhumane. Seaworld says it is inhumane to prevent the whales from exercising a natural behavior.

2015 Sept. 10 npr.org: McDonald's will no longer buy eggs from caged hens, but hens don't go outside.

The Humane Society explains what the different labels mean.

2015 July 16 Yahoo News: "Brad Pitt, Bill Maher slam Costco, speak up for caged hens"

Pitt wrote that "birds producing eggs for your shelves are crammed five or more into cages that are not large enough for even one hen to spread her wings". Maher, in a New York Times editorial, wrote "Multiple investigations into battery cages document animals with deteriorated spinal cords, some who have become paralyzed and then mummified in their cages....Imagine cramming five cats or dogs into tiny cages, hundreds of thousands in each shed, for their entire lives. That would warrant cruelty charges, of course. But when the egg industry does it to hens, it's considered business as usual."

2015 July 15 Democracy Now! interview reprinted by Truthout: PETA vs. Sea World

PETA says Sea World planted a staff member in a group of activists protesting treatment of animals at Sea World. The staff member, according to PETA, advocated illegal, violent activity against Sea World in an attempt to make PETA look like the instigator of the activity. PETA has been active in protesting Sea World's treatment of orca whales in captivity and resulting danger to their human trainers.

Sea World declined to be interviewed, but wrote "We are focused on the safety of our team members, guests and animals and beyond that we do not comment on our security operations. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, especially as animal rights groups have become increasingly extreme in their rhetoric and tactics. In fact, PETA itself actively recruits animal rights activists to gain employment at companies like SeaWorld, as this job posting demonstrates. Safety is our top priority, and we will not waiver from that commitment."

2015 July 14 BBC Canada: Horses still die in annual Calgary Stampede

"While officials have implemented changes to make the race safer, animal rights activists argue the popular horse and wagon sprint is still cruel and dangerous."

"A 2012 New York Times investigation found about three horses die every day on US race tracks, but the number of horses in chuckwagon races is far smaller than those in thoroughbred racing."

2015 Jan. 23: NPR blog, "Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

Lots of info on vegan alternatives to meat and fish, plus links to other sites with vegan alternatives. Many comments about use of plastics in cooking and packaging,"fake" vs. "real", and environmental effects of vegan vs. omnivore diets.

2015 Jan. 6 Humane Society of U.S. (HSUS) accuses Butterfield Foods in Minnesota of inhumane slaughter of spent hens

Spent hens are those that are no longer profitable egg layers. They are supposed to be stunned before being moved through scalding water to remove their feathers, but "HSUS alleges that birds regularly made it through this process still alive."

2014 Dec. 9 Yahoo News: Demand for illegal ivory by wealthy Chinese citizens has caused a 13-fold increase in the retail price since 2002. Poachers in Africa have killed many elephants to satisfy the demand. Poaching and habitat loss have threatened the survival of some populations.

2014 November 18 Uganda probes theft of ivory stockpile

2014 November 9 Chris Hedges explains why "becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species".

2014 Dec. 9 Yahoo News: Demand for illegal ivory by wealthy Chinese citizens has caused a 13-fold increase in the retail price since 2002. Poachers in Africa have killed many elephants to satisfy the demand. Poaching and habitat loss have threatened the survival of some populations.

2014 November 20 The Real News: Animal agriculture and global warming

2014 November 18 Uganda probes theft of ivory stockpile

2014 September 30: NPR report says Europeans worry the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will lower food safety requirements.

The TTIP is being promoted by the U.S. in secretive talks with the European Union. Much of what is known about it is the result of leaks. The European Union operates on the precautionary principle in regard to food safety, and objects to procedures common in the U.S. such as chlorine baths to control salmonella in chicken carcasses, hormones to fatten up cattle faster, and genetically engineered crops (GMOs).

2014 August 1: Do lab monkeys suffer from depression?.

"Do monkeys who have never known anything different mind being subjected to repeated experiments on their brains? It is a question that the Home Office is currently examining." Experiments involve such procedures as "having parts of their brain removed or coils implanted in their eyes".

"Researchers say most monkeys, who have been bred and trained for laboratory work, do not put up a fight when experiments are conducted on them. Does that mean they have given their 'consent'?" Another explanation for the monkeys' compliance could be learned helplessness, a phenomenon associated with severe depression that is often seen in experimental rodents.

2014 June 27: Drones will document factory farm abuses

Journalist Will Potter is raising funds to film factory farms from drones to raise awareness of abuse of animals and the environment by big agriculture. Filming on farms by animal rights activists has been controversial and in some states illegal, with activists claiming filming is necessary to expose horrible suffering by animals (see for example, chickens being abused and then buried alive) and farmers claiming it is an invasion of privacy.

2014 June 16: BBC on extinction threat to African elephants.

"The office of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) said poaching levels were far above the elephant birth rate." Organized crime and demand from China contribute to the large illegal lucrative trade in ivory. Some progress has been made, but it has been irregular.

2014 June 13: Crustacians, Pain, and Anxiety

BBC says recent experiments show that crustaceans (such as crayfish, lobsters, crabs, shrimp) not only experience pain, but exhibit behavior suggestive of anxiety. "Crustaceans are not considered sentient by bodies such as the European Food Safety Authority, and there are no regulations concerning their treatment." There is no way to tell whether the animals experience pain and anxiety in the ways we do, but some argue there should be regulations as a precautionary measure.

2013 Oct. 20: Report from AlterNet on Chicken

"Many people have decided to eat only chicken to avoid the health, environmental, worker and humane questions surrounding red meat. Yet the track record of US chicken in these areas is no better than red meat and may be worse." The report names seven things about chicken that may spoil your appetite: salmonella; e. coli; the chemicals arsenic, "caffeine and the active ingredients in Tylenol, Benadryl and Prozac"; antibiotics; yucky stuff in chicken nuggets, questionable processing of chickens shipped from the U.S. to China and back; extremely painful conditions endured by the chickens due to unhealthy conditions. Food giant Tyson is cited for a number of violations.

2013 October 4 The U.S., led by Hillary and Chelsea Clinton, and 7 African nations commit to banning commercial trade in ivory.

Elephants are threatened with extinction due to being cruelly slaughtered (such as by cyanide poisoning) for their ivory. Humans also suffer from the trade: "the prospect of huge profits has attracted criminal gangs and rebel militias."

2013 August 13. BBC Nature News article says "Urban hives boom could be 'bad for bees'".

Too many bees competing for scarce food sources could make life difficult for urban bee colonies and "may also affect other species that also visit flowers", say scientists who advocate planting "more flowers rather than adding new hives", especially for inexperienced beekeepers.

2013 August 3. Truthout report says "Blackfish Documentary Exposes Negligence, Corruption in SeaWorld's Quest for Profit": Heartbreaking story of trainer's death and contrast between life of an orca whale in captivity and life in the wild.

2013 July 31 BBC. Fish are not so dumb: like birds and mammals, fish develop better mental powers in stimulating environments.

2013 March 19 Truthout opinion column: Proposed bills make it harder to reveal abuses of farm animals.

Chickens and cows do not lead picturesque lives roaming on beautiful farmlands before they go to slaughterhouses. According to the article nearly 99% of chickens, both those raised for meat and those raised for eggs, live in such intensely crowded and dirty conditions they have no chance to spread their wings, and mothers and babies have no contact with each other. Cattle and pigs live in similar conditions. They are treated as unfeeling commodities, not sentient creatures. Animal rights activists try to raise awareness of these conditions by taking photos and videos, and these activities are sometimes illegal. The conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is pushing for laws in several states to criminalize activities that activists use to raise public awareness about abuses of farm animals.

2009 Sept. 23: Los Angeles Times article says U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether selling films showing animal torture as a form of entertainment is protected by the 1st Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing free speech.

2009 March 27: BBC article reports on research on hermit crabs that suggests they feel and remember pain. Professor Bob Elwood says there are no protections in the food industry for crustacians such as lobsters, prawns, and crabs because people assume they cannot feel pain, and this needs to be investigated.

2008 September 7: BBC article reports the chair of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, said UN figures estimate meat production causes "about 18% of the world's total greenhouse gas emissions", whereas transport accounts for 13%. Dr. Pachauri spoke at a lecture organized by Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), which works to end factory farming.

2008 February 18: post on website of Humane Society of the U.S. investigates cruel conditions in which many animals live, describes legislation that would improve these conditions, and ways to support that legislation. It also provides other information and ways to help animals, adopt and care for them, and solve problems.

2007 April 25: article in the Honolulu Weekly describes findings by marine mammal researchers protesting the "U.S. Department of Defense decision to exempt the Navy from the requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which makes it a crime to harass, kill or injure marine mammals".

The protesters say Navy sonar testing in a Hawaiian breeding grounds for whales causes brain and inner ear hemorraghing in whales, leading to injury and death. They say reports of beached whales are a poor indication of the number of whales affected, because most whales harmed by sonar sink and die, never to be found, rather than beaching themselves.

The protesters' findings are disputed by the Office of Naval Research (ONR). The ONR plans to increase sonar blasts in Hawaii and has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI), which the protesters say is flawed. The protesters say the Navy funds most marine mammal research and has made life difficult for scientists on their payroll when those scientists report findings in conflict with Navy interests. One researcher likened "a Navy-sponsored panel of scientists discussing the effects of noise pollution" to a ?special session on lung cancer held at a professional conference of oncologists funded by the tobacco industry.?

2007 February 5 BBC article: peace process diverts attention from illegal trade in endangered wildlife in Nepal

2006 December 22: Environment News Service report: in response to national and international complaints, China Ends Dog Crackdown

Corporations

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.

2016 Sept. 29 Reports that Samsung exploding batteries problem hits some North American top-loading washing machines

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. 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."

2016 Sept. 10 Increasing Galaxy Note 7 phone bans and recalls, including in airplanes

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 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 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.

2016 July 10 Truthout Bankrupt Peabody Energy allegedly paid Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change for favorable reports

"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.

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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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 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 expose 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 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 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 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 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. U.S. legislation passed in an election year 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 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.

    2015 Dec. 17 theREALnews.com: Members of The True Cost of Chevron network protest at annual Chevron shareholders meeeting

    Protesters said oil giant Chevron neglected to mention huge potential liabilities to the company for spills in Brazil, an underwater gas explosion in Nigeria, and damage to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, and denied access to a union representative to present a resolution on safety and inform shareholders about a union suit to "get all of Chevron's oil and gas contracts canceled in Brazil because of their concern about Chevron's ability to do its operations".

    2015 Nov. 24 Bloomberg Business: "How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce"

    The Organization United for Respect at Walmart (Our Walmart) has accused Walmart of retaliation against employees who protested low wages and unpredictable schedules. The article says Walmart extensively scrutinized workers' activities and conversations. The case has been presented to the National Labor Relations Board. "A decision may come in early 2016."

    2015 Nov. 23 CBC News: In a startling Internal investigation, "Nestl� admits slavery and coercion used in catching its seafood"

    "The study found virtually all U.S. and European companies buying seafood from Thailand are exposed to the same risks of abuse in their supply chains."

    "Nestl� said it would post the reports online � as well as a detailed yearlong solution strategy throughout 2016 � as part of ongoing efforts to protect workers. It has promised to impose new requirements on all potential suppliers and train boat owners and captains about human rights, possibly with a demonstration vessel and rewards for altering their practices. It also plans to bring in outside auditors and assign a high-level Nestle manager to make sure change is underway."

    2015 Nov. 13: New U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety rules

    The rules pertain mainly to fresh fruits and vegetables, including imports, and irrigation water, following large outbreaks of sickness caused by contaminated foods. "The final rules [were] released under a court-ordered deadline after advocacy groups sued over the delays...." Congress will have to approve money to implement to rules and enforce them.

    2015 Nov. 5 Another move to cage-free egg production

    If you are a hen, this move may not come during your lifetime, but at least there is a bit of progress in the industry. "Bakery-cafe chain Panera Bread Co will stop using eggs laid by caged hens by 2020, following similar moves from McDonald's Corp and other large U.S. restaurant chains."

    2015 Nov. 4: USA Today: Expanding Takata air bag probe

    "U.S. automotive safety regulators on Tuesday said Japanese auto supplier Takata has agreed to accept penalties for failures involving exploding air bags that have killed at least eight people and injured at least 98."

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will impose the largest fine in its history on Takata. "'Takata acknowledged "that it was aware of a defect but failed to issue a timely recall,' NHTSA said."

    Ammonium nitrate propellant is the suspected cause of the explosions. "Vehicles that have been housed in hot, humid climates for at least five years are most at risk, suggesting that climate is a contributing factor." 19 million vehicles have been recalled from BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, General Motors, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Daimler.

    2015 Oct. 26 bbc: "Nestle set to resume sales of Maggi noodles in India"

    Sales had been banned in May after lab tests in India had shown some packets to be high in lead. The ban was overturned in August.

    2015 Oct. 23Truthout:Apple component manufacturer Lens Technology use of benzene exposes workers to cancer-causing chemical

    " A new investigative report from Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong Kong-based nongovernmental organization that has revealed a litany of labor abuses throughout the tech, toy and apparel sectors in China, details inhumane, illegal and dangerous work conditions at Lens Technology, Apple's main supplier of glass for its iPhone and Apple Watch products. Among the worst offenses is the use of benzene, a known carcinogen that is linked to high rates of adult leukemia among those exposed to it, in improperly ventilated areas."

    2015 Oct. 23 Truthout: Poverty wages and fire hazards in Asian factories: Clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) promises wage and labor reform, but has yet to name specifics or make real progress.

    2015 Oct. 14: Truthout: Blood diamonds, gold, and the Central African Republic (CAR)

    The government of the CAR is ineffective due to more than a decade of civil war over the country's natural resource of diamonds and gold. Instead of building wealth for the people, they have financed armed Christian and Muslim groups whose fighting has impoverished the people and brought them human rights violations, including child slavery.

    From Amnesty International: "With the diamond industry due to gather at the Jewellery Industry Summit in March 2016 to discuss responsible sourcing, Amnesty International is challenging governments and international diamond companies like de Beers and Signet to support stronger regulation of the sector." Certification by the Kimberly Process, set up to prevent blood diamonds from being sold in the international market, is no longer reliable.

    2015 Oct. 9 bbc: California forbids Seaworld from breeding whales

    Ruling may spell end of Seaworld park killer whale (orca) program. Critics say Seaworld's program is inhumane. Seaworld says it is inhumane to prevent the whales from exercising a natural behavior.

    2015 Sept 27: Associated Press in Seattle Times Shell Oil abandons Arctic drilling project

    Although the region is expected to have enough potential to keep the U.S. one of three top oil producers in the world, Shell said this drilling did not produce enough oil to make the project worth while. Environmental activists worried about climate change from fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions, cheered.

    2015 Sept 18 npr.org: Volkswagon admits millions of diesel cars have devices with software that defeats emissions tests

    The "Environmental Protection Agency says Volkswagen intentionally violated the Clean Air Act by using sophisticated software in its diesel-powered cars that detects emissions testing � and 'turns full emissions controls on only during the test.'" The report lists specific cars that have the device. With the device turned off, the cars can produce up to 40 times the allowed pollution. The EPA says drivers are not endangered and "do not need to take any action at this time."

    2015 Sept. 10 npr.org: McDonald's will no longer buy eggs from caged hens, but hens don't go outside.

    The Humane Society explains what the different labels mean.

    2015 Sept. Huffington Post: Dupont chemical C8, found in Teflon and "thousands of household products", wrecked havoc on the West Virginia town of Parkersburg.

    The post reads like a fascinating and horrifiying exposé with lots of human interest and is hard to put down. It relates the long struggle of a farm family's devastating illnesses, their lawyer's determination to demonstrate the link between C8 and other chemicals and the illnesses and birth defects besetting families in the region, Dupont's distortions and covering up of data, smears of legitimate researchers, and irrational hold on the minds and hearts of residents due to badly needed jobs and desirable products the company provided, and finally the partial bringing to account of Dupont but grandfathering in of chemicals already in use. "Only a handful of the 80,000-plus chemicals on the market have ever been tested for safety�meaning that we are all, in effect, guinea pigs in a vast, haphazard chemistry experiment."

    Although C8 has finally been phased out, it takes decades to break down in the body, and other similar chemicals are taking its place. The fight to control them continues.

    2015 August 18 U.S. News & World Report: Environmentalists disappointed over Obama allowing Shell to drill in Arctic following his strong support for protecting the environment.

    "'It sends a terrible signal to the rest of the world for the United States to be using public resources to promote that development,' said Niel Lawrence of the Natural Resources Defense Council. 'We have to make clear to the rest of the world that we are all in on a clean energy future. And we've got to stop giving the rest of the world license to go exploring by permitting Shell to do it.'"

    Obama has said "I would rather us, with all the safeguards and standards that we have, be producing our oil and gas, rather than importing it, which is bad for our people, but is also potentially purchased from places that have much lower environmental standards than we do." A spokesperson for the administration said that while the goal is to transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy, it will take time. Critics say the Arctic is an especially dangerous area in which to drill.

    2015 August 17 npr.org: More on Red Cross transparency

    In a June 2014 letter, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern wrote privately to Rep. Bennie Thompson asking that the Government Accountability Office investigation into Red Cross disaster relief be called off, saying the investigation was consuming limited resources and she would prefer to answer questions in face-to-face meetings.

    "'Over time, the public has come to accept the American Red Cross as a key player in the nation's system for disaster relief,' Thompson said in an email. 'It is unfortunate that in light of numerous allegations of mismanagement, the American Red Cross would shun accountability, transparency, and simple oversight.'"

    2015 August 13 Yahoo News: Nestle's Maggi instant noodle packages

    "An Indian court on Thursday ruled in favor of Nestle in its battle to overturn a nationwide ban of its Maggi instant noodles, but demanded the popular snack be tested again for safety before it can go on sale again."

    "The Bombay High Court order said these tests must be conducted at specific laboratories, after media reports criticized the [Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI)] facilities as ill-equipped and under-staffed. The regulator itself has said India needs to strengthen food safety infrastructure."

    2015 August 1 Truth-out: Senator questions secrecy in Red Cross aid to Haiti

    Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa wants to know more about the spending of nearly half a billion dollars, overhead, and results of Red Cross partners working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Grassley asked "'why the Red Cross enters into contracts with other organizations stipulating that details of grants can't be disclosed to the media or donors'".

    The Red Cross claims it keeps careful track of what happens to money it grants to its partners, but internal assessments indicated that was not always the case. In an earlier article, Truth-out referred to "documents newly obtained by ProPublica and NPR" that showed lack of oversight by the Red Cross.

    The Red Cross responded on its website: "The American Red Cross is committed to the welfare of the people of Haiti and is a responsible steward of donated funds. We monitor our projects and spending as well as that of our many partners to identify areas that are working well and those that need improvement. The 2012 reports, from which NPR and ProPublica selectively quote, are an example of such an evaluation. It is not surprising that in the $488 million dollar relief and recovery operation in Haiti areas for improvement were identified. The 2012 reports demonstrate that we continuously evaluate our work to find ways to improve. While areas for improvement always exist - in particular when operating at this scope and scale, addressing many demanding challenges and needs - we are proud of our achievements which include, among many other things, providing clean water and sanitation facilities to hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti."

    2015 July 22: "Shell Gets Final OK for Arctic Oil Drilling But Must Await Spill Gear"

    "The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday granted Royal Dutch Shell its final two permits to explore for oil in the Arctic this summer, but said the company cannot drill until required emergency equipment arrives."

    2015 July 16 Yahoo News: "Brad Pitt, Bill Maher slam Costco, speak up for caged hens"

    Pitt wrote that "birds producing eggs for your shelves are crammed five or more into cages that are not large enough for even one hen to spread her wings". Maher, in a New York Times editorial, wrote "Multiple investigations into battery cages document animals with deteriorated spinal cords, some who have become paralyzed and then mummified in their cages....Imagine cramming five cats or dogs into tiny cages, hundreds of thousands in each shed, for their entire lives. That would warrant cruelty charges, of course. But when the egg industry does it to hens, it's considered business as usual."

    2015 July 15 Environmental Health News: Mickey Mouse marketing asbestos fibers?

    Asbestos fibers were found in some Chinese-made crayons and fingerprint kits. The fibers can cause cancer and damage lungs. "Experts say there is no 'safe' level of asbestos exposure."

    "The current report found asbestos in Amscan Crayons, Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crayons, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons, Saban's Power Rangers Super Megaforce crayons, EduScience Deluve Forensics Lab Kit (black fingerprint powder), and Inside Intelligence Secret Spy kit (white fingerprint powder)." The tests were conducted at the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina.

    "While the fingerprint powder could easily be inhaled, for crayons the concern is children eating them."

    2015 July 1 BBC report: "Apple conspired with publishers to fix the prices of electronic books, a US federal appeals court has ruled", following an appeal to a 2013 decision that the conspiracy eliminated retail competition and caused prices to rise.

    A dissenting opinion maintained that by challenging Amazon, which then "controlled about 90% of the sector", Apple opened up the market to competition.

    2015 June 19 Ben & Jerry's targeted by Migrant Justice's Milk with Dignity campaign for discriminating against Latinos in dairy industry.

    Ben & Jerry's claims the Caring Dairy program can handle complaints about worker rights, wage theft, and squalid housing. Migrant Justice representative Victor Diaz claimes "there are no teeth, there's no monitoring, there's no worker participation" with Caring Dairy.

    2015 June 12 npr article: Organic farmers say Whole Foods new "Responsibly Grown" rating system degrades organic label

    Some nonorganic produce was rated better than organic produce under this system. The new Whole Foods system includes some measures organic certfication does not, but unlike organic certification, is based on producers' own answers to a survey and requires no third party verification, according to the article.

    2015 June 2: New Delhi bans Nestle India's Maggi instant noodles for 15 days due to high lead levels. The ban will allow "time to recall and replace tens of thousands of the packets sold in stores throughout the city". Excessive levels of lead can damage kidneys and the nervous system. Nestle India has said its own tests showed all samples were safe.

    2015 March 27: Pacific Gas and Electric "is connecting about 4,000 new solar customers per month across Northern and Central California, more than any other energy company in the nation, the utility claims." The utility offers a fast, efficient application process.

    2015 March 17: Correction of AP March 13-14 Blue Bell-Listeriosis story

    "5 sickened by ice cream-related illness at Wichita, Kansas, hospital; 3 die" from listeria bacteria. "The deaths...linked to some Blue Bell ice cream products have prompted the Texas icon's first product recall in its 108-year history."

    2015 March 16: Activists challenge the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to improve its monitoring and use of chemicals that they have linked to cancer and respiratory illness in workers, according to the website GoodElectronics. Industry representatives say their audits have not found such links.

    GoodElectronics compares 20 brands on environmental and labor rights issues.

    2015 March 11: Antibiotics used to fight infection in humans but to promote rapid growth and fattening in animals raised for food endanger humans, including vegans.

    Article in eater.com explains it is not the antibiotics themselves, but the unintended side-effect of introducing new antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment that present the danger. "Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis, responsible for 700,000 deaths per year worldwide."

    Many major purveyors of chicken, such as McDonald's and Costco, have decided to phase out serving chicken--but not beef, pork, or dairy--raised with human antibiotics in American restaurants. Such use has been banned in many European countries, but so far is only a policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where participation is voluntary.

    2015 March 1: from Working In These Times, Jury Awards Guestworkers Over $14 Million in Landmark Human Trafficking, Forced Labor Case. The suit, brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was " the first of a series of lawsuits that together constitute one of the largest human trafficking and forced labor cases in U.S. history."

    Signal International, a marine construction company based in Mobile, Alabama, must pay damages to workers from India who were falsely promised permanent visas to work in the U.S. The visas were in reality only for temporary work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The workers went deeply into debt to obtain the visas. The workers paid over $1000 a month for food and housing in unsanitary, overcrowded, noisy trailers ("man camps").

    On a weekend in March 2007, local organizers contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center about the workers' plight. "...In the dawn hours of March 9, Signal seized the men it suspected of organizing, locked them in a trailer under guard, terminated their employment and told them they would be deported."

    2015 Feb. 6: China Corporate Social Responsibility site article says "Chinese Consumers Gain Healthy Milk Option Via Internet Channel".

    "Tmall.com, the B2C Internet shopping subsidiary of Alibaba Group, announced that it will cooperate with Danone and Nestle to launch direct sales and delivery of milk powder under six brands of the two groups, allowing Chinese consumers to enjoy the safe importation of milk powder products."

    "Milk powder and milk supplies in China are a touchy subject, and currently it is illegal to bring more than a small amount of milk powder into mainland China via Hong Kong. Chinese consumers are also wary of buying domestic milk powder because of a rash of reports in recent years of tainted milk-based products from companies such as Mengniu and Yili." Other companies alleged to have problem milk products in recent years are Wyeth, Shandong Zibi Lvsan'er Dairy Company, Liaoning Tieling Wuzhou Food Company, Hebei Tangshan Leting County Kaida Cold Storage Plant, and Beingmate.

    2014 Dec. 23 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: explosion at Vertex-owned ammunition factory in Bulgaria leaves one dead and three wounded. Violations of working conditions and safety assessment rules had been found at the plant.

    2014 Dec. 19 BBC News: "Apple 'deeply offended' by BBC investigation". The Panorama program's investigation found "an exhausted workforce making Apple products in China, as well as children working in extremely dangerous tin mines in Bangka, Indonesia." Apple sent an email to its staff acknowledging problems but claiming they are working hard to rectify them. The program can be seen on BBC's iPlayer in the UK only.

    2014 November 19 On Bill Moyers.com: Federal Election Commission allows Chevron to avoid campaign finance restrictions

    2014 November 13 Shell Oil suit ruled unconstitutional.

    After having plans for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska approved, Shell filed three suits to preemptively prevent environmental and Alaskan native advocates from suing Shell to stop the drilling. Two of the suits were dismissed; one is still pending.

    2014 November 20 On Buzzflash.com: Oil Company Tries to Shake Down California County for $1.2 Billion for Banning Fracking

    2014 November 20 On Buzzflash.com: Oil Company Tries to Shake Down California County for $1.2 Billion for Banning Fracking

    2014 November 19 On Bill Moyers.com: Federal Election Commission allows Chevron to avoid campaign finance restrictions

    2014 November 15 Los Angeles Times: "Southern California is hotbed for wage theft in garment industry"

    Sweatshop conditions and pay are being investigated by the Labor Department. Some methods of wage theft are paying by the piece at rates sometimes equivalent to less than minimum wage, "pay stubs [that] could be redeemed only at check cashing stores that charged fees", failing to pay proper rates for overtime and sick pay, and forcing employees to "complete tasks before clocking in or after clocking out".

    "Experts say intense competition among garment manufacturers has created incentives for companies to shortchange workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants hesitant to report labor abuses."

    "The contractors targeted by the Labor Department supply some of the nation's most recognizable retailers, including Macy's, JC Penney and Kohl's."

    2014 November 13 Shell Oil suit ruled unconstitutional.

    After having plans for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska approved, Shell filed three suits to preemptively prevent environmental and Alaskan native advocates from suing Shell to stop the drilling. Two of the suits were dismissed; one is still pending.

    2012 Oct. 3: good news! Green America reports that Hershey Co. "will be certifying 100 percent of its cocoa by 2020 and urged the chocolate giant to go 100 percent Fair Trade with incremental benchmarks."

    2012 Oct. 5: more good news! Chipotle signed the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Trader Joe's signed back in February 2012.

    2014 October 25 Commondreams.org article: "Indigenous Communities Take Chevron to Global Court for 'Crimes Against Humanity'"

    "Chevron's repeated refusal to clean up its toxic contamination of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest constitutes an "attack" on civilian populations and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, impacted indigenous and farming communities charged this week in a formal complaint (pdf) to the global body." Toxic waste dumped by Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, has had disastrous impacts on the environment and public health of 80 communities and tens of thousands of people, the suit says.

    2014 September 25: China Digital Times article says "Foxconn Reluctantly Bringing Democracy to Chinese Labor".

    "Foxconn, the manufacturing contractor responsible for assembling as much as 40% of the world�s consumer electronics [such as Apple iPads and iPhones and many brands of computers], has achieved infamy for shoddy labor conditions, worker suicides, and the use of underpaid and underaged student interns." Worker shortages in China are forcing Foxconn and other companies to make some conciliatory gestures toward workers' rights to organize. Workers are winning rights to vote for their union representatives, but the unions them selves are state controlled, and although large labor protests in China have been widespread recently, the government has vigorously censored news of them in the Chinese press and social media.

    2014 April 25: Peruvian indigenous rights protesters occupy Argentinian oil company Pluspetrol. "Indigenous leaders have said neither the government nor the company have taken any concrete actions to clean up the environment [from oil spills] or compensate affected communities. Pluspetrol is Peru's biggest oil company. The occupation has cut production there by 70%.

    2013 Oct. 24 Reuters Report: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase

    "Bank of America Corp was found liable for mortgage fraud on Wednesday over defective mortgages sold by its Countrywide unit, a major win for the U.S. government in one of the few trials stemming from the financial crisis."

    "Countrywide originated shoddy home loans in a process called 'Hustle' and sold them to government mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government said."

    In another big bank concern, the U.S. is investigating JPMorgan Chase regarding subprime mortgages, according to The New York Times.

    2013 Oct. 22 Global Exchange Top 10 Corporate Criminals List

    The list of some well known, some not well known corporations names Shell/Royal Dutch Petroleum, Nike, Ahava, Syngenta, Blackwater International (Xe Services), Barrick Gold, Herakles Farms, Nestl�, Clear Channel Communications, and SNC Lavalin. Detailed reasons for each choice are provided.

    2013 Oct. 7 Snack foods and palm oil

    Rainforest Action Network says industral palm oil plantations harm rainforest habitat of endangered orangutans. Rainforest names 20 companies that manufacture snacks made with conflict palm oil: "Campbell Soup Company; ConAgra Foods, Inc.; Dunkin' Brands Group, Inc.; General Mills, Inc.; Grupo Bimbo; Hillshire Brands Company; H.J. Heinz Company; Hormel Foods Corporation; Kellogg Company; Kraft Food Group, Inc.; Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Corp.; Mars Inc.; Mondelez International, Inc.; Nestl� S.A.; Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd.; PepsiCo, Inc.; The Hershey Company; The J.M. Smucker Company; Toyo Suisan Kaisha, Ltd.; and Unilever...." Rainforest says "We will work with them to adopt and implement responsible palm oil procurement policies that ensure the palm oil they buy is not associated with deforestation, child or forced labor, plantation expansion on carbon-rich peatlands, or violations of forest-dependent communities' rights...."

    2013 August 8. Reuters reports "The US is suing the Bank of America for investor fraud over the sale of $850m worth of residential mortgage-backed securities." The U.S. says BOA misled investors and failed "to disclose important facts"; BOA says "These were prime mortgages sold to sophisticated investors who had ample access to the underlying data and we will demonstrate that."

    2012 Oct. 3: good news! Green America reports that Hershey Co. "will be certifying 100 percent of its cocoa by 2020 and urged the chocolate giant to go 100 percent Fair Trade with incremental benchmarks."

    2012 Oct. 5: more good news! Chipotle signed the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Trader Joe's signed back in February 2012.

    2008 January 3 Washington Post report says Lockheed has agreed to settle a suit brought by an employee alleging racial discrimination for $2.5 million, the "largest-ever settlement for an individual racial discrimination case ". The employee, black electrician Charles Daniels, said he was subjected to racial slurs and physical threats, including death, from white coworkers, and his complaints were brushed off by company officials. A Lockheed spokesman said the company responded appropriately based on the facts presented at the time, and chose to settle to "to enable all parties to move on".

    Texas electric utility TXU Corporation

    TXU is set to be acquired for almost $45 billion by private investors who have agreed with environmental groups to build only three plants fired by coal, rather than the eleven TXU had said it needed, according to a 2007 February 27 Christian Science Monitor article. The article states this major deal indicates investors are starting to consider the financial cost of carbon emissions as a major factor in their decisions. The cost includes potential carbon taxes that may be enacted by Congress or the states. Calculations of companies' carbon footprints could influence future mergers. In addition, there has been an increase in shareholder resolutions supported by large shareholders that ask for corporate accountability for carbon emissions.

    Wal-Mart

    Wal-Mart, as the world's largest retailer, has enormous impacts on its suppliers, its competitors, its employees, its customers, the environment, and the communities in which it is located. The effects of Wal-Mart's quest to dominate the market through low prices are so huge, complex, and inadequately understood that we can only begin to scratch the surface here. What are the net benefits achieved by economies of scale and what harm is caused by the methods used to maintain low prices and market dominance? What is the social responsibility of such a powerful corporation? We begin with a few references illustrating key points to consider. Stay tuned for more to be added.

    Making Change at Walmart says it "is a campaign challenging Walmart to help rebuild our economy and strengthen working families. Anchored by the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW), we are a coalition of Walmart associates, union members, small business owners, religious leaders, community organizations, women?s advocacy groups, multi-ethnic coalitions, elected officials and ordinary citizens who believe that changing Walmart is vital for the future of our country."

    Green America's Responsible Shopper has a wealth of information on Walmart criticisms, campaigns, and alerts, etc.

    Bechtel: Bolivian Water War

    The following is a very brief summary of detailed reports available online from PBS and Cochabamba-based The Democracy Center.

    When the Bolivian government stopped poverty-stricken Bolivia's illicit trade in the coca leaf, a new economic crisis followed. Bolivia badly needed loans from the World Bank, but the Bank required Bolivia to sell "all remaining public assets" as a condition of the loans (see PBS Timeline). The assets included the city of Cochabamba's municipally-run water agency. In a 1999 bidding process behind closed doors, there was only one bidder for control of Cochabamba's water system, a newly formed consortium called Aguas del Tunari. The Democracy Center, based in Cochabamba, later revealed that Bechtel was the major shareholder in the consortium. According to Jim Schultz of The Democracy Center, Bechtel also won control of many rural water systems that had been "paid for and built by local people without government help".

    Bechtel drastically raised water rates soon after taking over the water system. This sparked a popular uprising, followed by a brutal crackdown by the Bolivian government, riots in the streets, and deaths. According to a PBS series, "...not a single U.S. newspaper had a reporter on the scene. But news of the uprising was reaching a worldwide audience through the Internet", such as on-the-scene reports by Jim Schultz of The Democracy Center.

    In 2000 April the Bolivian government conceded control of Cochabamba's water system to a grassroots organization and promised to repeal legislation privatizing water. In 2001 November the Bechtel-headed consortium applied to the World Bank for arbitration and asked that the Bolivian government pay them $25 million in damages for breach of contract. (This figure was apparently later raised to $50 million.) Jim Schultz of The Democracy Center writes that the arbitration body is "a secret trade court", "the prototype for the proposed Free Trade Act of the Americas (FTAA)", that could be used to require repeal of environmental and labor laws in many parts of the world in the name of trade.

    A massive email campaign, protests in countries where Bechtel had offices, and a citizens' petition to the World Bank followed. In 2006 January Bechtel bowed to the pressure and settled the case for pennies.

    The story of the water revolt, Bechtel, and the World Bank has wide implications for effects on poor countries of privatization, globalization, and international aid and loans. The refrain "I owe my soul to the company sto'" comes to mind. It is also a David vs. Goliath story of a grassroots organization taking on a megacorporation with powerful political connections plus an organization controlled by the world's richest and most powerful countries, and winning. It is also a story of the power of the Internet to inform the public when other media are silent.

    2007 July: Inc.com profiles B Corporation in A New Kind of Company. (You have to wait for the ad to display for a moment and then disappear before the article becomes visible.) Several companies are developing standards for certifying socially responsible companies. A B Corporation is unique in that it requires articles of incorporation holding companies responsible to stakeholders, not just shareholders, theoretically perpetuating social goals in the event such companies are sold. Legal questions remain.

    2007 December 16: Los Angeles Times Investigation finds the Gates Foundation's focus on major diseases in Africa has drawn staff away from basic care into higher-paid specialties. The narrow focus has resulted in decreased death rates from diseases that can be treated or prevented with medicines or vaccines, but lack of improvement or worsening of such things as basic hygiene in hospitals, adequate numbers of life-saving oxygen tubes, and transportation to health care facilities.

    2006 February 2 Environment News Service article says police in Gangaikondan, southern Tamil Nadu, India are investigating the death of V. Kamsan, the village council chair, who convened a meeting of the council on 2005 August 23 which passed a resolution saying that the government should withdraw permission to Coca-Cola for a proposed plant. The resolution said the plant, which would draw water from the Thamirabarani River, would worsen a critical shortage of water in the area and cause environmental damage. Less than 12 hours later, Kamsan contradicted the resolution in a prepared statement for the press. Asked about the statement, he said he issued it under "immense pressure". Kamsan's widow, petitioned for the police investigation, saying that on the same evening Coca-Cola officials kidnapped her husband, detained him for days, forced him to drink alchohol in spite of the fact he had jaundice, forced him to drop the resolution, and returned him in serious physical condition. He died on 2005 August 30. The village council recently passed another resolution in opposition to Coca-Cola and calling for a thorough investigation into the suspicious death of Mr. Kamsan. More on Coca-Cola below.

    Elektrozinc: Air Pollution

    Elektrozinc is located in Vladikavkaz, capital and industrial center of North Ossetia. According to a 2006 January 23 Environment News Service article, residents, environmentalists, and state agencies say the plant contributed to severe air pollution and a high number of birth defects and miscarriages in the nineties. In 2003 the plant was closed by court order and then taken over by Russian company UMMC-Holding. Since then much improvement has been made, but some say there are still major problems.

    2006 January 3 Environment News Service report says students at the University of Michigan concerned about Coca-Cola's labour practices in Columbia and environment practices in India brought about suspension of University purchases of Coca-Cola products. Third party vendors on the campus still carry the products, as required by their agreements with the company. Students at other universities have also brought pressure to end purchases of Coca-Cola products. There have been many complaints in India about severe water shortages caused by Coca-Cola. In Columbia there have been allegations of murder, kidnapping, and torture of labor leaders by the company. Coca-Cola says a workplace assessment in Columbia by an independent company found no serious violations. See Responsible Shopper for a lot more research on the Coca-Cola company.

    Halliburton Subsidiary KBR: Labor in Iraq

    9 October 2005 Chicago Tribune investigation says U.S. tax dollars are paying for illegal cheap foreign labor to support U.S. military efforts and reconstruction in Iraq. The article says Halliburton Subsidiary KBR subcontractors use job brokers to hire laborers and take no responsibility for practices of the brokers. The brokers deceive laborers, put them in harm's way, and saddle them with huge fees. The laborers say they cannot leave because they must repay the money borrowed to pay the brokers. Workers hired by subcontractor PPI, most of whom gave interviews anonymously because they were not supposed to talk to journalists, said PPI refused to pay them until they handed over their passports to PPI. One worker noted this prevented them from transfering to another company. Both Halliburton and the U.S. Army referred questions regarding activities of subcontractors to the subcontractors.

    Environment

    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

    "Nestles grab of a Canadian community's water supply has sparked international outrage and calls to boycott the company and bottled water."

    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 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 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

    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 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 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 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 May 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 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 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 expose 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 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 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 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 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.

    2016 Jan. 20 Los Angeles Times: California and New York investigations of what Exxon Mobil knew about climate change

    News reports in 1980s and 90s indicated Exxon Mobil used climate change data in its planning but "argued publicly that climate-change science was not clear cut."

    2016 Jan. 15 ecowatch.com Monsanto seeks permits to grow genetically modified (GMO) corn in Mexico

    Monsanto says its GMO corn yields higher yields and profits for small farmers. Mexican opponents of GMO corn say 59 varieties of indigenous corn could be threatened by hybridization from GMO corn, " the development of insect pests or weeds that are resistant to the chemicals used with GMO crops, and the unintentional poisoning of beneficial insects and non-target species."

    2016 Jan. 14 Orange County Register Southern California Gas Company gas well leaking methane near Porter Ranch community in Los Angeles

    The company's data on elevated levels of benzene, which causes cancer, is substantially less than that of regulators. Safe levels are hard to determine: "For one thing, it is unclear whether the benzene fumes persisted long enough to exceed state exposure limits", but the data and odors from the gas raise concerns, "and some environmentalists are calling it the worst environmental disaster since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010."

    2015 Dec. 22 realnews.org: U.S. not practicing what it preaches on reporting greenhouse gas emissions from livestock.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) urged such reporting at the Paris Climate Summit, but the U.S. Congress has renewed a provision that prevents the EPA from requiring reports on emissions from manure. The result has been serious underreporting by the U.S., second only to China in the size of the livestock industry. Worldwide, the industry produces "more than all the world�s exhaust-belching cars, buses, boats and trains combined."

    2015 Dec. 21 American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan: Lead in water

    Researcher alleges the state "attempted to cover up the fact that its own data revealed a significant spike in lead found in Flint children after the state forced the city to draw water from the Flint River...."

    2015 Dec. 17 theREALnews.com: Members of The True Cost of Chevron network protest at annual Chevron shareholders meeeting

    Protesters said oil giant Chevron neglected to mention huge potential liabilities to the company for spills in Brazil, an underwater gas explosion in Nigeria, and damage to the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, and denied access to a union representative to present a resolution on safety and inform shareholders about a union suit to "get all of Chevron's oil and gas contracts canceled in Brazil because of their concern about Chevron's ability to do its operations".

    2015 Nov. 13: New U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) safety rules

    The rules pertain mainly to fresh fruits and vegetables, including imports, and irrigation water, following large outbreaks of sickness caused by contaminated foods. "The final rules [were] released under a court-ordered deadline after advocacy groups sued over the delays...." Congress will have to approve money to implement the rules and enforce them.

    2015 Nov. 7: Truthout reprint of report by Earthjustice.Residents of African American neighborhood in Tallahassee, Alabama fight stench from landfill.

    Earthjustice has filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of Tallahassee and several other communities, alleging racial discrimination by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, which gave a permit to the landfill and receives federal money. "Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, agencies that get federal money can't discriminate on the basis of race. Discrimination doesn't have to be intentional; it includes any decision that has an unjustified, unequal impact on a particular racial group."

    "Agency rules say the EPA must determine whether or not there's discrimination within 180 days of receiving a complaint. Residents of Tallassee have been waiting 12 years."

    2015 Oct. 17: Truthout: Facial scrubs

    Plastic microbeads "(listed as polyethylene and polypropylene in the ingredients)" in facial scrubs and other products release dangerous pollutants into our water. They have been banned in several states.

    2015 Oct. 16: bbc: U.S. Arctic drilling for oil and gas curtailed

    Two potential lease sales canceled, current leases not extended. Environmentalists applauded the move. They say "fossil fuels such as oil and gas must be left in the ground if the world is to avoid runaway climate change."

    2015 Sept 27: Associated Press in Seattle Times Shell Oil abandons Arctic drilling project

    Although the region is expected to have enough potential to keep the U.S. one of three top oil producers in the world, Shell said this drilling did not produce enough oil to make the project worth while. Environmental activists worried about climate change from fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions, cheered.

    2015 July 22: "Shell Gets Final OK for Arctic Oil Drilling But Must Await Spill Gear"

    "The U.S. Interior Department on Wednesday granted Royal Dutch Shell its final two permits to explore for oil in the Arctic this summer, but said the company cannot drill until required emergency equipment arrives."

    2015 July 15 Environmental Health News: Mickey Mouse marketing asbestos fibers?

    Asbestos fibers were found in some Chinese-made crayons and fingerprint kits. The fibers can cause cancer and damage lungs. "Experts say there is no 'safe' level of asbestos exposure."

    "The current report found asbestos in Amscan Crayons, Disney Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crayons, Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Crayons, Saban's Power Rangers Super Megaforce crayons, EduScience Deluve Forensics Lab Kit (black fingerprint powder), and Inside Intelligence Secret Spy kit (white fingerprint powder)." The tests were conducted at the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina.

    2015 June 12 npr article: Organic farmers say Whole Foods new "Responsibly Grown" rating system degrades organic label

    Some nonorganic produce was rated better than organic produce under this system. The new Whole Foods system includes some measures organic certfication does not, but unlike organic certification, is based on producers' own answers to a survey and requires no third party verification, according to the article.

    2015 May 22: Truthout article: Guatemalan widow sues mining company for activist husband's murder

    The indigenous woman, Choc, sued Hudbay Minerals of Toronto, Canada and two of its subsidiaries for violent behavior by their security forces. "'Part of our objective is to make [people outside the country] see how foreign companies act in our country,' said Isabel Solís, a member of Communities in Resistance of El Estor, who has worked alongside Choc on her case. 'It is important for the people of countries such as the United States and Canada to see that the products that they own and that they consume have depended on the death of many people and the violations of human rights. There are great costs within the concept of economic development.'"

    2015 May 22: Donuts, palm oil, and deforestation

    What a bummer! Palm oil instead of trans fats is good for our health but when sourced from clear-cut forests, bad for the forests. Some of the companies that have child slaves in their supply chains, such as Mars and Hershey, have better records with palm oil. "...A new report, "Deforestation Doughnuts," by a rain forest protection coalition called Forest Heroes, concludes that leading doughnut companies are sourcing some of their palm oil from suppliers who are clear-cutting rain forests and destroying wildlife habitat and carbon-rich peatlands.

    2015 May13: Tumbleweed is the First Green Certified Tiny House RV"

    "Tumbleweed passed inspection for all criteria, including: resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency and indoor air quality."

    2015 March 27: Pacific Gas and Electric "is connecting about 4,000 new solar customers per month across Northern and Central California, more than any other energy company in the nation, the utility claims." The utility offers a fast, efficient application process.

    2015 March 27: Consumer Reports compares pesticide risks in conventional vs. organic fruits and vegetables. Foods they recommend you always buy organic are peaches, tangerines, nectarines, strawberries, cranberries, green beans, sweet bell peppers, hot peppers, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

    2015 March 16: Activists challenge the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to improve its monitoring and use of chemicals that they have linked to cancer and respiratory illness in workers, according to the website GoodElectronics. Industry representatives say their audits have not found such links.

    GoodElectronics compares 20 brands on environmental and labor rights issues.

    2015 March 16: Medical press: "Curcumin proved effective at combating cancer"

    "WA scientists have helped re-affirm that curcumin, a chemical compound found in turmeric, is a safe and promising treatment for most cancers and other inflammation-driven diseases."

    2015 March 11: Antibiotics used to fight infection in humans but to promote rapid growth and fattening in animals raised for food endanger humans, including vegans.

    Article in eater.com explains it is not the antibiotics themselves, but the unintended side-effect of introducing new antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment that present the danger. "Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis, responsible for 700,000 deaths per year worldwide."

    Many major purveyors of chicken, such as McDonald's and Costco, have decided to phase out serving chicken--but not beef, pork, or dairy--raised with human antibiotics in American restaurants. Such use has been banned in many European countries, but so far is only a policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where participation is voluntary.

    2015 Jan. 23: NPR blog, "Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

    Lots of info on vegan alternatives to meat and fish, plus links to other sites with vegan alternatives. Many comments about use of plastics in cooking and packaging,"fake" vs. "real", and environmental effects of vegan vs. omnivore diets.

    2014 Dec. 28 From Global Possibilities: Good energy news from New England. Renewable energy, compared to fossil fuels, has been criticized as 1) "not dispatchable, i.e., a grid manager cannot reliably and predictably deploy [renewable energy sources] to meet demand", and 2) more expensive. The New England grid manager is addressing the first criticism by working on "algorithms that will enable it to dispatch renewables when" wind, sun, and water variables are favorable. It is addressing the second criticism by adjusting the bidding process for selling energy to the grid to allow renewable energy producers to have increased opportunities to sell the excess energy they produce when, for example, there is a lot of sun. "Within the next year or two, New Englanders are going to enjoy cheap, dispatchable renewable energy...."

    2014 Dec. 9 Yahoo News: Demand for illegal ivory by wealthy Chinese citizens has caused a 13-fold increase in the retail price since 2002. Poachers in Africa have killed many elephants to satisfy the demand. Poaching and habitat loss have threatened the survival of some populations.

    2014 November 22 On Bill Moyers.com: Group of Harvard students sue the university to divest from fossil fuels

    2014 November 13 Shell Oil suit ruled unconstitutional.

    After having plans for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska approved, Shell filed three suits to preemptively prevent environmental and Alaskan native advocates from suing Shell to stop the drilling. Two of the suits were dismissed; one is still pending.

    2014 November 9 Chris Hedges explains why "becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species".

    2014 October: ConsumerReports.org on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

    Their tests found GMOs in "virtually all of the samples we tested of products that made only a 'Natural' claim", contrary to what most consumers would expect from the label. GMOs are especially prominent in corn and soy based foods. GMO labeling is mandatory in many countries but not in the U.S. Consumer Reports thinks it should be mandatory in the U.S., based on the precautionary principle of better safe than sorry. "Some animal studies suggest that GMOs may cause damage to the immune system, liver, and kidneys." GMOs are strongly defended by seed companies such as Monsanto, which manufactures the weed killer Roundup which doesn't harm GMO crops, but "superweeds" have sprung up which are not killed by Roundup.

    For more information on labels, see Products and Services, "What's in a Label?"

    Environmental News: Bishop Desmond Tutu urges boycott of fossil fuel companies on spiritual and scientific grounds. The 2014 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that human-caused climate change is causing the earth to head for disaster at an even more alarming rate than previously thought.

    The Guardian reported that the UN said achieving the generally agreed-upon safe goal of no more than 2 degrees Centigrade increase in global temperature is affordable and doable if the international community acts promptly to cut waste and replace fossil fuels with renewable energy sources at a rate greater than what nations have currently pledged. The longer we wait, the more difficult and expensive and will be the effort, possibly requiring extreme, untested measures. Another Guardian report warns that a carbon bubble of trillions of dollars in investments in fossil fuels may bring financial disaster.

    2015 March 16: Activists challenge the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to improve its monitoring and use of chemicals that they have linked to cancer and respiratory illness in workers, according to the website GoodElectronics. Industry representatives say their audits have not found such links.

    GoodElectronics compares 20 brands on environmental and labor rights issues.

    2015 March 11: Antibiotics used to fight infection in humans but to promote rapid growth and fattening in animals raised for food endanger humans, including vegans.

    Article in eater.com explains it is not the antibiotics themselves, but the unintended side-effect of introducing new antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment that present the danger. "Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis, responsible for 700,000 deaths per year worldwide."

    Many major purveyors of chicken, such as McDonald's and Costco, have decided to phase out serving chicken--but not beef, pork, or dairy--raised with human antibiotics in American restaurants. Such use has been banned in many European countries, but so far is only a policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where participation is voluntary.

    2014 November 19 On Bill Moyers.com: Federal Election Commission allows Chevron to avoid campaign finance restrictions

    2014 November 13 Shell Oil suit ruled unconstitutional.

    After having plans for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska approved, Shell filed three suits to preemptively prevent environmental and Alaskan native advocates from suing Shell to stop the drilling. Two of the suits were dismissed; one is still pending.

    2014 Dec. 28 From Global Possibilities: Good energy news from New England. Renewable energy, compared to fossil fuels, has been criticized as 1) "not dispatchable, i.e., a grid manager cannot reliably and predictably deploy [renewable energy sources] to meet demand", and 2) more expensive. The New England grid manager is addressing the first criticism by working on "algorithms that will enable it to dispatch renewables when" wind, sun, and water variables are favorable. It is addressing the second criticism by adjusting the bidding process for selling energy to the grid to allow renewable energy producers to have increased opportunities to sell the excess energy they produce when, for example, there is a lot of sun. "Within the next year or two, New Englanders are going to enjoy cheap, dispatchable renewable energy...."

    2014 Dec. 9 Yahoo News: Demand for illegal ivory by wealthy Chinese citizens has caused a 13-fold increase in the retail price since 2002. Poachers in Africa have killed many elephants to satisfy the demand. Poaching and habitat loss have threatened the survival of some populations.

    2014 November 20 On Buzzflash.com: Oil Company Tries to Shake Down California County for $1.2 Billion for Banning Fracking

    2014 November 20 The Real News: Animal agriculture and global warming

    2014 November 18 Uganda probes theft of ivory stockpile

    2014 November 13 Shell Oil suit ruled unconstitutional.

    After having plans for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska approved, Shell filed three suits to preemptively prevent environmental and Alaskan native advocates from suing Shell to stop the drilling. Two of the suits were dismissed; one is still pending.

    2014 November 9 Chris Hedges explains why "becoming vegan is the most important and direct change we can immediately make to save the planet and its species".

    2014 October: ConsumerReports.org on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

    Their tests found GMOs in "virtually all of the samples we tested of products that made only a 'Natural' claim", contrary to what most consumers would expect from the label. GMOs are especially prominent in corn and soy based foods. GMO labeling is mandatory in many countries but not in the U.S. Consumer Reports thinks it should be mandatory in the U.S., based on the precautionary principle of better safe than sorry. "Some animal studies suggest that GMOs may cause damage to the immune system, liver, and kidneys." GMOs are strongly defended by seed companies such as Monsanto, which manufactures the weed killer Roundup which doesn't harm GMO crops, but "superweeds" have sprung up which are not killed by Roundup.

    For more information on labels, see Products and Services, "What's in a Label?"

    2014 October 25 Commondreams.org article: "Indigenous Communities Take Chevron to Global Court for 'Crimes Against Humanity'"

    "Chevron's repeated refusal to clean up its toxic contamination of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest constitutes an "attack" on civilian populations and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, impacted indigenous and farming communities charged this week in a formal complaint (pdf) to the global body." Toxic waste dumped by Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, has had disastrous impacts on the environment and public health of 80 communities and tens of thousands of people, the suit says.

    2014 September 30: NPR report says Europeans worry the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will lower food safety requirements.

    The TTIP is being promoted by the U.S. in secretive talks with the European Union. Much of what is known about it is the result of leaks. The European Union operates on the precautionary principle in regard to food safety, and objects to procedures common in the U.S. such as chlorine baths to control salmonella in chicken carcasses, hormones to fatten up cattle faster, and genetically engineered crops (GMOs).

    2014 October 25: Reducing fossil fuels vs. jobs loss

    Drilling for fossil fuels has disproportionately affected people of color, low income, and indigenous peoples. In 2001 the Black Mesa Water Coalition of Navajo and Hopi youth "persuaded the Navajo Tribal Council to cut off Peabody Coal�s access to the [Navaho Aquifer]", which had deprived residents of access to clean water. This victory was offset by the loss of jobs for Peabody workers. Some argue that the answer to this dilemma is a cooperative, rather than capitalistic, economy to support locally owned, environmentally sustainable projects. Black Mesa is working toward such an economy.

    2014 October 14: Greenpeace campaign vs. Shell Oil: "Lego is ending its partnership with Shell gas stations after a three-month environmental campaign against Arctic drilling."

    "The campaign launched by Greenpeace featured a video entitled, 'Everything is NOT Awesome,' playing off the theme song of The Lego Movie."

    2013 Dec. 12: Guardian reports on discovery of Greenhouse gas used by the electrical industry that is "7,000 times more powerful than carbon dioxide at warming the Earth". Because there is such a small concentration of this gas, perfluorotributylamkine (PFRTBA), in the atmosphere, scientists say it does not present a threat to global warming at present, but we must not let the concentration of this gas and others like it grow.

    2013 Nov. 22: Wind Energy vs. Avian Wildlife

    How do you resolve the conflict of windmills producing green energy but killing birds that can't see the spinning blades? The U.S. government won a million dollar lawsuit against Duke Energy Company under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for deaths of birds at wind farms in Wyoming.

    The most effective measure is prevention--avoiding siting wind farms in areas where birds are likely to run into them. "Once a wind farm is built, there is little a company can do to stop the deaths. Some firms have tried using radar to detect birds and to shut down the turbines when they get too close. Others have used human spotters to warn when birds are flying too close to the blades. Another tactic has been to remove vegetation to reduce the prey the birds like to eat."

    2013 Nov. 15: Ivory and Wildlife

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, reporting for Reader Supported News, says "the Department of the Interior is destroying the United States' entire stock of confiscated contraband ivory...." Other countries have also destroyed their ivory. Demand for other wildlife parts is accelerating, and with it the profitability of poaching, causing many animal populations to move toward extinction. "Consumers can and must be partners with governments in disrupting the market incentives for traffickers", says Kerry.

    2013 September 17: Unsafe cosmetics and personal care products

    Green America says under the Toxic Substances Control Act the Environmental Control Agency "cannot take action to protect the public from a potentially harmful chemical until after it's been introduced to the market and after it's been found to cause 'serious harm'," and "proving that harm has been notoriously difficult". The Food and Drug Administration, responsible for cosmetic and personal care products, does not research ingredients in these products. Ingredients can include those linked with brain damage (such as lead) and cancer. Green America urges support of the Safe Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Act of 2013.

    2013 August 13. BBC Nature News article says "Urban hives boom could be 'bad for bees'".

    Too many bees competing for scarce food sources could make life difficult for urban bee colonies and "may also affect other species that also visit flowers", say scientists who advocate planting "more flowers rather than adding new hives", especially for inexperienced beekeepers.

    2013 May 17: Truthout article on limits of labels for ethical eaters

    It is easy to attribute more than is warranted to labels such as "organic", "fair trade", and "locally grown" when trying to be a responsible consumer, especially with the growing enthusiasm of large corporations for the organic and fair trade food movements. The article does a good job of demonstrating why the issues involved are a lot more complex than first meets the eye. ResponsibleConsumer.net welcomes the increased opportunity to buy food that is more friendly to humans, animals, and the environment, but warns against possibly deceptive or confusing labeling. To get a handle on what the labels mean, see Directory of Products and Services, Resources to Help You Decide: What's in a Label?.

    The article argues that food issues cannot be resolved by consumer decisions, but must be resolved in the political arena. ResponsibleConsumer.net maintains that both are necessary: consumers have tremendous power when they use it, because markets everywhere are dependent on them, and political action is needed to establish credible structures for establishing and enforcing ethical principles.

    2013 May 10: Time to switch to LED light bulbs

    Cape Cod Today column Green with Betsy says "Just as we all have made the switch to compact fluorescent bulbs (I hope!), along come LED light bulbs, which are now the most energy efficient, eco-friendly, long lasting and affordable bulb!" Betsy gives impressive statistics and advantages of LED (light emitting diode) bulbs over CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs to back up this assertion. No mercury, new warmer color choices, no waiting for the light to brighten: sounds like a winner!

    2013 April 18: Pollinators necessary to life as we know it

    According to the Xerces Society, pollinators make reproduction possible for "more than two-thirds of the world's crop species."

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service has a leaflet on Native Pollinators that describes the services pollinators provide in nature and agricultural systems and the many billions of dollars they are worth to the U.S. economy. "The leafet presents the habitat requirements of a variety of native pollinators and offers practical ideas for their conservation and management". It includes a table of "Crops dependent upon or benefited by insect pollination" and one of "General native pollinator habitat requirements". The leaflet concludes that "Despite their value, native pollinators are declining and often under-appreciated in terms of their services to healthy ecosystems. Human activities have destroyed and fragmented native pollinator habitat. However, landowners can work to increase native pollinator habitat on privately-owned lands by planting appropriate vegetation, providing water, limiting pesticide use, and providing the habitat needs for specific groups of pollinators (bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, bats, or hummingbirds)".

    The Xerces Society also has a Fact Sheet on providing nesting opportunities for native bees.

    2013 April 11 Truthout interview: Less consumption, not "green" businesses, key to saving planet?

    Ozzie Zehner, in an interview by Steve Horn, says the environmental movement has been taken over by so-called "green" businesses that are anything but green in their supply chains, production lines, and impacts on the environment. He says, for example, we do not have any such thing as clean energy; that "alternative energy technologies rely on fossil fuels through every stage of their life". He argues that as long as the movement is tied to increasing production rather than decreasing consumption, it is doomed to failure.

    2013 February: U.S. and international climate change news and employment opportunities

    Some headlines from United States Global Change Research Program: "Climate Change Impacts to U.S. Coasts Threaten Public Health, Safety and Economy", "Future Earth: International Coordination of Research for Global Sustainability", "Federal Register Notice: NCADAC [National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee]: Notice of Availability For Public Comment".

    2012: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

    The IPCC was organized under the auspices of the United Nations. A comprehensive view of its history, functions, and Assessment Reports is at Wikipedia.

    A map of world's hot spots shows effects of global warming on local areas.

    2012: Energy Star Computers

    Home page for U.S. Energy Star program says "if all computers sold in the United States meet the ENERGY STAR requirements, the savings in energy costs will grow to about $2 billion each year and greenhouse gas emissions will be reduced by the equivalent of those from 2 million cars."

    2008 June 23: Local control

    How one village is working toward energy independence, financial savings, and helping the environment:
    article from Le Monde, republished in English by Truthout.

    2007 July 22 BBC report: Quinghai Province in Tibet already experiencing effects of climate change.

    2007 February 2: Past, present, and future

    BBC visual guide.

    Human Rights

    2016 Sept. 26 EcoWatch.com Criticism of Nestle and bottled water

    "Nestles grab of a Canadian community's water supply has sparked international outrage and calls to boycott the company and bottled water."

    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. 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".

    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."

    2016 August 25 Ecowatch Chemical that drifts protects Monsanto's new genetically modified (GMO) crops but harms neighboring crops

    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 Measurement of change by green companies

    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 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 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 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 expose 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 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 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!:Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) vs. Wendy's

    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.

    2015 Dec. 21 American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan: Lead in water

    Researcher alleges the state "attempted to cover up the fact that its own data revealed a significant spike in lead found in Flint children after the state forced the city to draw water from the Flint River...."

    2015 Nov. 24 Bloomberg Business: "How Walmart Keeps an Eye on Its Massive Workforce"

    The Organization United for Respect at Walmart (Our Walmart) has accused Walmart of retaliation against employees who protested low wages and unpredictable schedules. The article says Walmart extensively scrutinized workers' activities and conversations. The case has been presented to the National Labor Relations Board. "A decision may come in early 2016."

    2015 Nov. 23 CBC News: In a startling Internal investigation, "Nestle admits slavery and coercion used in catching its seafood"

    "The study found virtually all U.S. and European companies buying seafood from Thailand are exposed to the same risks of abuse in their supply chains."

    "Nestl� said it would post the reports online � as well as a detailed yearlong solution strategy throughout 2016 � as part of ongoing efforts to protect workers. It has promised to impose new requirements on all potential suppliers and train boat owners and captains about human rights, possibly with a demonstration vessel and rewards for altering their practices. It also plans to bring in outside auditors and assign a high-level Nestle manager to make sure change is underway."

    2015 Nov. 11: Product labelling: European Commission (EU) v. Israeli settlements

    An EU source said labels on certain products from Israeli occupied territories "would have to include the word 'settlement'" as the point of origin.

    "The EU, the source added, does not view the occupied territories as legally part of Israel, so products from there cannot be labelled as from Israel or benefit from preferential trade agreements." The Israeli foreign ministry called the new regulation "discriminatory".

    2015 Nov. 7: Truthout reprint of report by Earthjustice.Residents of African American neighborhood in Tallahassee, Alabama fight stench from landfill.

    Earthjustice has filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on behalf of Tallahassee and several other communities, alleging racial discrimination by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, which gave a permit to the landfill and receives federal money. "Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, agencies that get federal money can't discriminate on the basis of race. Discrimination doesn't have to be intentional; it includes any decision that has an unjustified, unequal impact on a particular racial group."

    "Agency rules say the EPA must determine whether or not there's discrimination within 180 days of receiving a complaint. Residents of Tallassee have been waiting 12 years."

    2015 Oct. 28: Coalition of Immokalee Workers eliminates sexual harassment in participating farms

    The Coalition's Fair Food Program Code of Conduct is "informed by workers themselves". Supervisors who violate the Code are immediately terminated and barred from employment at other farms in the Program and must proactively prevent violations.

    2015 Oct. 26: Yahoo News: Cancer-causing meats

    World Health Organization (WHO) research shows processed meat is carcinogenic to humans; mammalian meat as probably carcinogenic.

    2015 Oct. 23Truthout:Apple component manufacturer Lens Technology use of benzene exposes workers to cancer-causing chemical

    " A new investigative report from Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong Kong-based nongovernmental organization that has revealed a litany of labor abuses throughout the tech, toy and apparel sectors in China, details inhumane, illegal and dangerous work conditions at Lens Technology, Apple's main supplier of glass for its iPhone and Apple Watch products. Among the worst offenses is the use of benzene, a known carcinogen that is linked to high rates of adult leukemia among those exposed to it, in improperly ventilated areas."

    2015 Oct. 23 Truthout: Poverty wages and fire hazards in Asian factories: Clothing retailer Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) promises wage and labor reform, but has yet to name specifics or make real progress.

    2015 Oct. 14: Truthout: Blood diamonds, gold, and the Central African Republic (CAR)

    The government of the CAR is ineffective due to more than a decade of civil war over the country's natural resource of diamonds and gold. Instead of building wealth for the people, they have financed armed Christian and Muslim groups whose fighting has impoverished the people and brought them human rights violations, including child slavery.

    From Amnesty International: "With the diamond industry due to gather at the Jewellery Industry Summit in March 2016 to discuss responsible sourcing, Amnesty International is challenging governments and international diamond companies like de Beers and Signet to support stronger regulation of the sector." Certification by the Kimberly Process, set up to prevent blood diamonds from being sold in the international market, is no longer reliable.

    2015 Sept 18: Community land trusts offer home ownership opportunities to low income buyers

    Land trusts limit the resale value of homes on their land to keep the homes affordable. Opponents of the model say it unfairly prevents homeowners from building wealth through appreciation of home value at a market rate. Proponents say it allows people who would otherwise not be able to buy a home to do so and still build wealth, but at a more modest rate. They say most land trust homebuyers are able to move to a market rate home with a combination of appreciation of home value and personal savings. Their "returns on initial investments far exceed those that would have been possible if they had invested their down payment in stocks or bonds."

    Real estate value doesn't always appreciate, as many learned in the foreclosure crisis. Low income people without appreciable savings or equity in their homes can have a hard time dealing with maintenance and repairs or avoiding defaulting on the mortgage when unemployment hits. Less favorable credit scores bring less favorable mortgage terms.

    "One study found that only 47 percent of first-time homeowners and less than 80 percent of those with median incomes still owned their homes five years later." One homeowner "notes that if she needs to make repairs, she can look to the land trust for a list of contractors." Another "credits the land trust's homeowner education program for helping him understand what is affordable and sustainable."

    2015 Sept. Huffington Post: Dupont chemical C8, found in Teflon and "thousands of household products", wrecked havoc on the West Virginia town of Parkersburg.

    The post reads like a fascinating and horrifiying exposé with lots of human interest and is hard to put down. It relates the long struggle of a farm family's devastating illnesses, their lawyer's determination to demonstrate the link between C8 and other chemicals and the illnesses and birth defects besetting families in the region, Dupont's distortions and covering up of data, smears of legitimate researchers, and irrational hold on the minds and hearts of residents due to badly needed jobs and desirable products the company provided, and finally the partial bringing to account of Dupont but grandfathering in of chemicals already in use. "Only a handful of the 80,000-plus chemicals on the market have ever been tested for safety�meaning that we are all, in effect, guinea pigs in a vast, haphazard chemistry experiment."

    Although C8 has finally been phased out, it takes decades to break down in the body, and other similar chemicals are taking its place. The fight to control them continues.

    2015 August 17 npr.org: More on Red Cross transparency

    In a June 2014 letter, Red Cross CEO Gail McGovern wrote privately to Rep. Bennie Thompson asking that the Government Accountability Office investigation into Red Cross disaster relief be called off, saying the investigation was consuming limited resources and she would prefer to answer questions in face-to-face meetings.

    "'Over time, the public has come to accept the American Red Cross as a key player in the nation's system for disaster relief,' Thompson said in an email. 'It is unfortunate that in light of numerous allegations of mismanagement, the American Red Cross would shun accountability, transparency, and simple oversight.'"

    2015 August 1 Truth-out: Senator questions secrecy in Red Cross aid to Haiti

    Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa wants to know more about the spending of nearly half a billion dollars, overhead, and results of Red Cross partners working in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Grassley asked "'why the Red Cross enters into contracts with other organizations stipulating that details of grants can't be disclosed to the media or donors'".

    The Red Cross claims it keeps careful track of what happens to money it grants to its partners, but internal assessments indicated that was not always the case. In an earlier article, Truth-out referred to "documents newly obtained by ProPublica and NPR" that showed lack of oversight by the Red Cross.

    The Red Cross responded on its website: "The American Red Cross is committed to the welfare of the people of Haiti and is a responsible steward of donated funds. We monitor our projects and spending as well as that of our many partners to identify areas that are working well and those that need improvement. The 2012 reports, from which NPR and ProPublica selectively quote, are an example of such an evaluation. It is not surprising that in the $488 million dollar relief and recovery operation in Haiti areas for improvement were identified. The 2012 reports demonstrate that we continuously evaluate our work to find ways to improve. While areas for improvement always exist - in particular when operating at this scope and scale, addressing many demanding challenges and needs - we are proud of our achievements which include, among many other things, providing clean water and sanitation facilities to hundreds of thousands of people in Haiti."

    2015 July 27 New York Times: Human trafficking and beatings in Thai seafood industry

    Demand for labor in the Thai fishing industry far outpaces supply. Traffickers entice or force desperately poor migrants, often undocumented so difficult to track, into fishing fleets where they endure 18 to 20 hour days, beatings, poor nutrition, unsafe and filthy (as in vermin, rats, and cockroaches), cramped and intensely hot working conditions.

    Much of the seafood "is sold to the United States, typically for canned cat and dog food or feed for poultry, pigs and farm-raised fish that Americans consume."

    2015 June 23 NPR report: Medicare prescription drug program bilked by providers

    "People can use Prescriber Checkup, a tool created by ProPublica, to look up doctors and see how their prescribing patterns compare to peers in the same specialty and state."

    2015 June 20 U.S. Federal Communications Commission fines AT&T for illegally slowing Internet speeds.

    2015 June 19 Ben & Jerry's targeted by Migrant Justice's Milk with Dignity campaign for discriminating against Latinos in dairy industry.

    Ben & Jerry's claims the Caring Dairy program can handle complaints about worker rights, wage theft, and squalid housing. Migrant Justice representative Victor Diaz claimes "there are no teeth, there's no monitoring, there's no worker participation" with Caring Dairy.

    2015 May 22: Truthout article: Guatemalan widow sues mining company for activist husband's murder

    The indigenous woman, Choc, sued Hudbay Minerals of Toronto, Canada and two of its subsidiaries for violent behavior by their security forces. "'Part of our objective is to make [people outside the country] see how foreign companies act in our country,' said Isabel Solís, a member of Communities in Resistance of El Estor, who has worked alongside Choc on her case. 'It is important for the people of countries such as the United States and Canada to see that the products that they own and that they consume have depended on the death of many people and the violations of human rights. There are great costs within the concept of economic development.'"

    2015 May 22: Donuts, palm oil, and deforestation

    What a bummer! Palm oil instead of trans fats is good for our health but when sourced from clear-cut forests, bad for the forests. Some of the companies that have child slaves in their supply chains, such as Mars and Hershey, have better records with palm oil. "...A new report, "Deforestation Doughnuts," by a rain forest protection coalition called Forest Heroes, concludes that leading doughnut companies are sourcing some of their palm oil from suppliers who are clear-cutting rain forests and destroying wildlife habitat and carbon-rich peatlands.

    2015 May 22: Npr: Trans fats will gradually become illegal

    Trans fats cause an array of health problems: they "raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol", "raise inflammation and worsen the health of blood vessels."

    2015 May13: Tumbleweed is the First Green Certified Tiny House RV"

    "Tumbleweed passed inspection for all criteria, including: resource efficiency, energy efficiency, water efficiency and indoor air quality."

    2015 April 29: Truthout report: Rana Plaza Factory update: "Activists Announce Major Victory for Victims".

    The Children's Place, one of the companies that sells garments manufactured in the Rana Plaza Factory and which had refused to pay more than a small fraction of the claims by victims against it, has agreed after "hundreds of actions" to "pay $2 million into the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund to compensate the victims of the collapse."

    2015 April 24: Truthout report: "Two Years After Rana Plaza Tragedy, Rights Abuses Still Rampant in Bangladesh's Garment Sector"

    Despite some improvements, a Human Rights Watch "report found that safety standards are still low, workplace abuse is common, and union busting - as well as violent attacks and intimidation of union organisers - is the norm." Factory owners maintain that retailers do not compensate them for compliance with new regulations regarding wages, benefits, and safety for workers. Although fire prevention measures have improved, numerous factory fires still inflict death or injury on many workers.

    2015 March 27: Consumer Reports compares pesticide risks in conventional vs. organic fruits and vegetables. Foods they recommend you always buy organic are peaches, tangerines, nectarines, strawberries, cranberries, green beans, sweet bell peppers, hot peppers, sweet potatoes, and carrots.

    2015 March 26: Mexican farmworkers in Baja California, Mexico on strike

    "The strike, which has crippled this region's exports to the U.S., shows no signs of ending after growers' offer of a 10% raise was dismissed by workers who earn on average $10 a day. They have dropped their demand from 300 pesos ($20) per day to 280 ($18.50)."

    2015 March 25 Associated Press Investigation: Slavery taints global supply of seafood

    "Tainted fish can wind up in the supply chains of some of America's major grocery stores, such as Kroger, Albertsons and Safeway; the nation's largest retailer, Wal-Mart; and the biggest food distributor, Sysco. It can find its way into the supply chains of some of the most popular brands of canned pet food, including Fancy Feast, Meow Mix and Iams. It can turn up as calamari at fine dining restaurants, as imitation crab in a California sushi roll or as packages of frozen snapper relabeled with store brands that land on our dinner tables."

    The AP tracked a ship carrying slaves who were mostly from Myanmar (Burma) by satellite. The slaves and fish were brought through Thailand to Benjina, Indonesia. The fish are mixed in with fish in other shipments and sent to various parts of the world.

    Some 2015 March 23 articles from Green American Magazine Spring 2015 issue
        Investors for Bangladeshi Worker Rights
    In the aftermath of neglect of fire and safety hazards that caused a fire that killed 112 people and the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed over 1000 people and injured 2500, "investors are pressuring companies to commit to improving conditions for garment workers by signing on to the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.
        Chinese toy factories
    "Hundreds of thousands of young Chinese migrant workers toil away in factories making toys for major international brands. A recent report by China Labor Watch (CLW) exposed dozens of violations in four factories that make toys for Mattel, Fischer-Price, Disney, Crayola, and others." Article links to alternative green toys and petition to Mattel.
        More articles available Green America members

    2015 March 21 BBC news Science & Environment: scientists meet in May to discuss investing/divesting in fossil fuels

    The subject of reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels is not as simple as divesting from all fossil fuels, because fossil fuel companies can help in the effort. Encouraging them to do so may in some cases be as effective as divesting. Stay tuned for more from the May conference.

    2015 March 17: Correction of AP March 13-14 Blue Bell-Listeriosis story

    "5 sickened by ice cream-related illness at Wichita, Kansas, hospital; 3 die" from listeria bacteria. "The deaths...linked to some Blue Bell ice cream products have prompted the Texas icon's first product recall in its 108-year history."

    2015 March 16: Activists challenge the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to improve its monitoring and use of chemicals that they have linked to cancer and respiratory illness in workers, according to the website GoodElectronics. Industry representatives say their audits have not found such links.

    GoodElectronics compares 20 brands on environmental and labor rights issues.

    2015 March 16: Medical press: "Curcumin proved effective at combating cancer"

    "WA scientists have helped re-affirm that curcumin, a chemical compound found in turmeric, is a safe and promising treatment for most cancers and other inflammation-driven diseases."

    2015 March 11: Antibiotics used to fight infection in humans but to promote rapid growth and fattening in animals raised for food endanger humans, including vegans.

    Article in eater.com explains it is not the antibiotics themselves, but the unintended side-effect of introducing new antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment that present the danger. "Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis, responsible for 700,000 deaths per year worldwide."

    Many major purveyors of chicken, such as McDonald's and Costco, have decided to phase out serving chicken--but not beef, pork, or dairy--raised with human antibiotics in American restaurants. Such use has been banned in many European countries, but so far is only a policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where participation is voluntary.

    2015 March 1: from Working In These Times, Jury Awards Guestworkers Over $14 Million in Landmark Human Trafficking, Forced Labor Case. The suit, brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was " the first of a series of lawsuits that together constitute one of the largest human trafficking and forced labor cases in U.S. history."

    Signal International, a marine construction company based in Mobile, Alabama, must pay damages to workers from India who were falsely promised permanent visas to work in the U.S. The visas were in reality only for temporary work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The workers went deeply into debt to obtain the visas. The workers paid over $1000 a month for food and housing in unsanitary, overcrowded, noisy trailers ("man camps").

    On a weekend in March 2007, local organizers contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center about the workers' plight. "...In the dawn hours of March 9, Signal seized the men it suspected of organizing, locked them in a trailer under guard, terminated their employment and told them they would be deported."

    2015 February 19: from Truthout, Despite Claims of Progress, Labor and Environmental Violations Continue to Plague Apple.

    Problems in 2013 that continued in 2014 included "violations of Chinese labor law and Apple's supplier code of conduct". Workers suffered from extreme--and illegal--forced overtime hours, underpayment of wages and benefits, extreme heat, safety hazards such as blocked fire exits, and "no opportunity for collective bargaining and meaningful address of worker concerns".

    Contrary to Apple's claim that its suppliers are to blame for poor worker conditions, Apple has punished suppliers that have tried to improve conditions, such as Foxconn with a meager pay raise, by taking away substantial amounts of their business and giving it instead to suppliers such as Pegatron that minimize costs while breaking Chinese labor laws.

    "2014 also saw continued problems in the mining operations that feed into Apple products. Apple celebrates its involvement in the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative (CFSI), run by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), but the EICC is an industry-operated body of only corporate members biased toward its clients." Environmental degredation, numerous mining accidents, and forced evictions are problems which Julian Kirby of London-based Friends of the Earth feels are not adequately addressed by the EICC and CFSI.

    2015 Feb. 6: China Corporate Social Responsibilitysite article says "Chinese Consumers Gain Healthy Milk Option Via Internet Channel".

    "Tmall.com, the B2C Internet shopping subsidiary of Alibaba Group, announced that it will cooperate with Danone and Nestle to launch direct sales and delivery of milk powder under six brands of the two groups, allowing Chinese consumers to enjoy the safe importation of milk powder products."

    "Milk powder and milk supplies in China are a touchy subject, and currently it is illegal to bring more than a small amount of milk powder into mainland China via Hong Kong. Chinese consumers are also wary of buying domestic milk powder because of a rash of reports in recent years of tainted milk-based products from companies such as Mengniu and Yili." Other companies alleged to have problem milk products in recent years are Wyeth, Shandong Zibi Lvsan'er Dairy Company, Liaoning Tieling Wuzhou Food Company, Hebei Tangshan Leting County Kaida Cold Storage Plant, and Beingmate.

    Employment sectors where exploitation was found or suspected included fruit-picking, fishing, shellfish gathering, recyling, domestic servitude, cannabis cultivation, and prostitution.

    " The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) noted that, as of 21 January 2014, there have been no cases in Northern Ireland taken forward under Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act, which deals with slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, since the Act was introduced in 2009."

    Several factors made it "difficult to identify many clear cases of forced labour in Northern Ireland." Some workers reportedly were trafficked across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, making regulation more difficult. Some considered themselves better off than back home and may therefore have been willing to tolerate diffcult conditions. Some were afraid of prosecution for working in illegal industries. "However, they noted a diverse range of examples of exploitation that raised concerns among people working in statutory agencies and the voluntary sector, and these appear to have occurred in a wider range of employment sectors than had been identified in the 2011 ICR report."

    Adding to the difficulty in identifying and dealing with forced labor is the fragmented nature of the regulatory system for employment practices. The various agencies have differing authority to investigate, information-sharing is lacking, and illegal or informal workers, especially migrants, can slip through the cracks.

    2014 Dec. 23 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: explosion at Vertex-owned ammunition factory in Bulgaria leaves one dead and three wounded. Violations of working conditions and safety assessment rules had been found at the plant.

    2014 Dec. 19 BBC News: "Apple 'deeply offended' by BBC investigation". The Panorama program's investigation found "an exhausted workforce making Apple products in China, as well as children working in extremely dangerous tin mines in Bangka, Indonesia." Apple sent an email to its staff acknowledging problems but claiming they are working hard to rectify them. The program can be seen on BBC's iPlayer in the UK only.

    2014 Dec. 9 Yahoo News: Demand for illegal ivory by wealthy Chinese citizens has caused a 13-fold increase in the retail price since 2002. Poachers in Africa have killed many elephants to satisfy the demand. Poaching and habitat loss have threatened the survival of some populations.

    2014 December 1 TheRealNews.com: Black Friday protests included those against the decision "to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teen Michael Brown" and demands of Walmart workers for a living wage of $15 per hour and the right to unionize. A study "found that women are disproportionately impacted by the company's pay scale and that Walmart could pay its workers $25,000 a year--which is equivalent to $15 an hour full-time--without charging customers more."

    2014 November 22 On Bill Moyers.com: Group of Harvard students sue the university to divest from fossil fuels

    2014 November 21 DemocracyNow.org: "New Film Tracks How Immokalee Workers Won Fair Wages from Corporate Giants"

    The film "Food Chains" documents how The Coalition of Immokalee Workers got major corporate buyers to agree to the demands of the Fair Food Campaign. Abuse of tomato pickers in Immokalee, Florida had included brutal working conditions and outright slavery: see Modern-Day Slavery. This was an amazing victory of the seemingly powerless over the hugely powerful.

    2014 November 17 Common Dreams: 35.8 Million Worldwide Living in Modern-Day Slavery

    2014 November 15 Los Angeles Times: "Southern California is hotbed for wage theft in garment industry"

    Sweatshop conditions and pay are being investigated by the Labor Department. Some methods of wage theft are paying by the piece at rates sometimes equivalent to less than minimum wage, "pay stubs [that] could be redeemed only at check cashing stores that charged fees", failing to pay proper rates for overtime and sick pay, and forcing employees to "complete tasks before clocking in or after clocking out".

    "Experts say intense competition among garment manufacturers has created incentives for companies to shortchange workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants hesitant to report labor abuses."

    "The contractors targeted by the Labor Department supply some of the nation's most recognizable retailers, including Macy's, JC Penney and Kohl's."

    2014 October 25 Commondreams.org article: "Indigenous Communities Take Chevron to Global Court for 'Crimes Against Humanity'"

    "Chevron's repeated refusal to clean up its toxic contamination of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest constitutes an "attack" on civilian populations and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, impacted indigenous and farming communities charged this week in a formal complaint (pdf) to the global body." Toxic waste dumped by Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, has had disastrous impacts on the environment and public health of 80 communities and tens of thousands of people, the suit says.

    2014 October 25: Reducing fossil fuels vs. jobs loss

    Drilling for fossil fuels has disproportionately affected people of color, low income, and indigenous peoples. In 2001 the Black Mesa Water Coalition of Navajo and Hopi youth "persuaded the Navajo Tribal Council to cut off Peabody Coal�s access to the [Navaho Aquifer]", which had deprived residents of access to clean water. This victory was offset by the loss of jobs for Peabody workers. Some argue that the answer to this dilemma is a cooperative, rather than capitalistic, economy to support locally owned, environmentally sustainable projects. Black Mesa is working toward such an economy.

    2014 October 14: Greenpeace campaign vs. Shell Oil: "Lego is ending its partnership with Shell gas stations after a three-month environmental campaign against Arctic drilling."

    "The campaign launched by Greenpeace featured a video entitled, 'Everything is NOT Awesome,' playing off the theme song of The Lego Movie."

    2014 September 30: NPR report says Europeans worry the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will lower food safety requirements.

    The TTIP is being promoted by the U.S. in secretive talks with the European Union. Much of what is known about it is the result of leaks. The European Union operates on the precautionary principle in regard to food safety, and objects to procedures common in the U.S. such as chlorine baths to control salmonella in chicken carcasses, hormones to fatten up cattle faster, and genetically engineered crops (GMOs).

    2014 September 25: China Digital Times article says "Foxconn Reluctantly Bringing Democracy to Chinese Labor".

    "Foxconn, the manufacturing contractor responsible for assembling as much as 40% of the world�s consumer electronics [such as Apple iPads and iPhones and many brands of computers], has achieved infamy for shoddy labor conditions, worker suicides, and the use of underpaid and underaged student interns." Worker shortages in China are forcing Foxconn and other companies to make some conciliatory gestures toward workers' rights to organize. Workers are winning rights to vote for their union representatives, but the unions them selves are state controlled, and although large labor protests in China have been widespread recently, the government has vigorously censored news of them in the Chinese press and social media.

    2014 September 16: Truthout article says socially responsible investment (SRI) funds still contribute to human rights abuses.

    Many of these funds are still replete with highly profitable technology stocks, such as Apple and Samsung, that have ongoing human rights abuses. Kevin Slaten of China Labor Watch says the Corporate Social Responsibility Reports that many SRI fund managers rely on are really just public relations tools. "Companies like Apple are "paying for audits instead of investing money to address the problems," he says.

    The article says a more effective way to bring about change is a divestment campaign, such as the one that brought about the end of apartheid in South Africa. "Groups like 350.org and We Divest are using divestment for their own causes, trying to slow global warming and bring justice to Palestine."

    2014 September 7: New York Times Business Day article: Just 13, and Working Risky 12-Hour Shifts in the Tobacco Fields

    Teen-agers in North Carolina harvesting tobacco plants can be exposed to nicotine poisoning, pesticides, and dehydration--risks that are greater for children than adults due to physical and neurological characteristics. In the face of strong opposition from farmers and politicians, labor officials have been unsuccessful in banning work in tobacco fields and with tractors for children under 16.

    "Federal law allows those 12 and older to work on farms for unlimited hours, as long as there is no conflict with school. For nonfarm work, federal law sets 14 as the minimum age and restricts work for children under 16 to eight hours a day."

    2015 June 19 Ben & Jerry's targeted by Migrant Justice's Milk with Dignity campaign for discriminating against Latinos in dairy industry.

    Ben & Jerry's claims the Caring Dairy program can handle complaints about worker rights, wage theft, and squalid housing. Migrant Justice representative Victor Diaz claimes "there are no teeth, there's no monitoring, there's no worker participation" with Caring Dairy.

    2015 June 2: New Delhi bans Nestle India's Maggi instant noodles for 15 days due to high lead levels. The ban will allow "time to recall and replace tens of thousands of the packets sold in stores throughout the city". Excessive levels of lead can damage kidneys and the nervous system. Nestle India has said its own tests showed all samples were safe.

    2015 March 16: Activists challenge the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) to improve its monitoring and use of chemicals that they have linked to cancer and respiratory illness in workers, according to the website GoodElectronics. Industry representatives say their audits have not found such links.

    GoodElectronics compares 20 brands on environmental and labor rights issues.

    2015 March 11: Antibiotics used to fight infection in humans but to promote rapid growth and fattening in animals raised for food endanger humans, including vegans.

    Article in eater.com explains it is not the antibiotics themselves, but the unintended side-effect of introducing new antibiotic-resistant bacteria into the environment that present the danger. "Antibiotic resistance is a global crisis, responsible for 700,000 deaths per year worldwide."

    Many major purveyors of chicken, such as McDonald's and Costco, have decided to phase out serving chicken--but not beef, pork, or dairy--raised with human antibiotics in American restaurants. Such use has been banned in many European countries, but so far is only a policy of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where participation is voluntary.

    2015 March 1: from Working In These Times, Jury Awards Guestworkers Over $14 Million in Landmark Human Trafficking, Forced Labor Case. The suit, brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center, was " the first of a series of lawsuits that together constitute one of the largest human trafficking and forced labor cases in U.S. history."

    Signal International, a marine construction company based in Mobile, Alabama, must pay damages to workers from India who were falsely promised permanent visas to work in the U.S. The visas were in reality only for temporary work following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The workers went deeply into debt to obtain the visas. The workers paid over $1000 a month for food and housing in unsanitary, overcrowded, noisy trailers ("man camps").

    On a weekend in March 2007, local organizers contacted the Southern Poverty Law Center about the workers' plight. "...In the dawn hours of March 9, Signal seized the men it suspected of organizing, locked them in a trailer under guard, terminated their employment and told them they would be deported."

    2014 November 19 On Bill Moyers.com: Federal Election Commission allows Chevron to avoid campaign finance restrictions

    2014 November 13 Shell Oil suit ruled unconstitutional.

    After having plans for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska approved, Shell filed three suits to preemptively prevent environmental and Alaskan native advocates from suing Shell to stop the drilling. Two of the suits were dismissed; one is still pending.

    2014 September 25: China Digital Times article says "Foxconn Reluctantly Bringing Democracy to Chinese Labor".

    "Foxconn, the manufacturing contractor responsible for assembling as much as 40% of the world�s consumer electronics [such as Apple iPads and iPhones and many brands of computers], has achieved infamy for shoddy labor conditions, worker suicides, and the use of underpaid and underaged student interns." Worker shortages in China are forcing Foxconn and other companies to make some conciliatory gestures toward workers' rights to organize. Workers are winning rights to vote for their union representatives, but the unions them selves are state controlled, and although large labor protests in China have been widespread recently, the government has vigorously censored news of them in the Chinese press and social media.

    2014 Forced Labour in Northern Ireland. A 2014 June report found some "positive movements" in recognition of forced labor and introduction of legislation since a 2011 report, but argues there is still a need to separate the issues of forced labor and human trafficking in order to address "exploitative employment practices" apart from criminal justice issues.

    Employment sectors where exploitation was found or suspected included fruit-picking, fishing, shellfish gathering, recyling, domestic servitude, cannabis cultivation, and prostitution.

    " The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) noted that, as of 21 January 2014, there have been no cases in Northern Ireland taken forward under Section 71 of the Coroners and Justice Act, which deals with slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, since the Act was introduced in 2009."

    Several factors made it "difficult to identify many clear cases of forced labour in Northern Ireland." Some workers reportedly were trafficked across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, making regulation more difficult. Some considered themselves better off than back home and may therefore have been willing to tolerate diffcult conditions. Some were afraid of prosecution for working in illegal industries. "However, they noted a diverse range of examples of exploitation that raised concerns among people working in statutory agencies and the voluntary sector, and these appear to have occurred in a wider range of employment sectors than had been identified in the 2011 ICR report."

    Adding to the difficulty in identifying and dealing with forced labor is the fragmented nature of the regulatory system for employment practices. The various agencies have differing authority to investigate, information-sharing is lacking, and illegal or informal workers, especially migrants, can slip through the cracks.

    2014 Dec. 23 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: explosion at Vertex-owned ammunition factory in Bulgaria leaves one dead and three wounded. Violations of working conditions and safety assessment rules had been found at the plant.

    2014 Dec. 23 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: explosion at Vertex-owned ammunition factory in Bulgaria leaves one dead and three wounded. Violations of working conditions and safety assessment rules had been found at the plant.

    2014 Dec. 19 BBC News: "Apple 'deeply offended' by BBC investigation". The Panorama program's investigation found "an exhausted workforce making Apple products in China, as well as children working in extremely dangerous tin mines in Bangka, Indonesia." Apple sent an email to its staff acknowledging problems but claiming they are working hard to rectify them. The program can be seen on BBC's iPlayer in the UK only.

    2014 December 1 TheRealNews.com: Black Friday protests included those against the decision "to not indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for killing unarmed black teen Michael Brown" and demands of Walmart workers for a living wage of $15 per hour and the right to unionize. A study "found that women are disproportionately impacted by the company's pay scale and that Walmart could pay its workers $25,000 a year--which is equivalent to $15 an hour full-time--without charging customers more."

    2014 November 20 On Buzzflash.com: Oil Company Tries to Shake Down California County for $1.2 Billion for Banning Fracking

    2014 November 17 Common Dreams: 35.8 Million Worldwide Living in Modern-Day Slavery

    2014 November 15 Los Angeles Times: "Southern California is hotbed for wage theft in garment industry"

    Sweatshop conditions and pay are being investigated by the Labor Department. Some methods of wage theft are paying by the piece at rates sometimes equivalent to less than minimum wage, "pay stubs [that] could be redeemed only at check cashing stores that charged fees", failing to pay proper rates for overtime and sick pay, and forcing employees to "complete tasks before clocking in or after clocking out".

    "Experts say intense competition among garment manufacturers has created incentives for companies to shortchange workers, many of whom are undocumented immigrants hesitant to report labor abuses."

    "The contractors targeted by the Labor Department supply some of the nation's most recognizable retailers, including Macy's, JC Penney and Kohl's."

    2014 November 13 Shell Oil suit ruled unconstitutional.

    After having plans for drilling in environmentally sensitive areas in Alaska approved, Shell filed three suits to preemptively prevent environmental and Alaskan native advocates from suing Shell to stop the drilling. Two of the suits were dismissed; one is still pending.

    2012 Oct. 3: good news!Green America reports that Hershey Co. "will be certifying 100 percent of its cocoa by 2020 and urged the chocolate giant to go 100 percent Fair Trade with incremental benchmarks."

    2012 Oct. 5: more good news! Chipotle signed the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Trader Joe's signed back in February 2012.

    2014 October: ConsumerReports.org on genetically modified organisms (GMOs)

    Their tests found GMOs in "virtually all of the samples we tested of products that made only a 'Natural' claim", contrary to what most consumers would expect from the label. GMOs are especially prominent in corn and soy based foods. GMO labeling is mandatory in many countries but not in the U.S. Consumer Reports thinks it should be mandatory in the U.S., based on the precautionary principle of better safe than sorry. "Some animal studies suggest that GMOs may cause damage to the immune system, liver, and kidneys." GMOs are strongly defended by seed companies such as Monsanto, which manufactures the weed killer Roundup which doesn't harm GMO crops, but "superweeds" have sprung up which are not killed by Roundup.

    For more information on labels, see Products and Services, "What's in a Label?"

    2014 October 25 Commondreams.org article: "Indigenous Communities Take Chevron to Global Court for 'Crimes Against Humanity'"

    "Chevron's repeated refusal to clean up its toxic contamination of Ecuador's Amazon rainforest constitutes an "attack" on civilian populations and should be investigated by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, impacted indigenous and farming communities charged this week in a formal complaint (pdf) to the global body." Toxic waste dumped by Texaco, acquired by Chevron in 2001, has had disastrous impacts on the environment and public health of 80 communities and tens of thousands of people, the suit says.

    2014 October 25: Reducing fossil fuels vs. jobs loss

    Drilling for fossil fuels has disproportionately affected people of color, low income, and indigenous peoples. In 2001 the Black Mesa Water Coalition of Navajo and Hopi youth "persuaded the Navajo Tribal Council to cut off Peabody Coal�s access to the [Navaho Aquifer]", which had deprived residents of access to clean water. This victory was offset by the loss of jobs for Peabody workers. Some argue that the answer to this dilemma is a cooperative, rather than capitalistic, economy to support locally owned, environmentally sustainable projects. Black Mesa is working toward such an economy.

    2014 October 14: Greenpeace campaign vs. Shell Oil: "Lego is ending its partnership with Shell gas stations after a three-month environmental campaign against Arctic drilling."

    "The campaign launched by Greenpeace featured a video entitled, 'Everything is NOT Awesome,' playing off the theme song of The Lego Movie."

    2014 September 30: NPR report says Europeans worry the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will lower food safety requirements.

    The TTIP is being promoted by the U.S. in secretive talks with the European Union. Much of what is known about it is the result of leaks. The European Union operates on the precautionary principle in regard to food safety, and objects to procedures common in the U.S. such as chlorine baths to control salmonella in chicken carcasses, hormones to fatten up cattle faster, and genetically engineered crops (GMOs).

    2014 September 25: China Digital Times article says "Foxconn Reluctantly Bringing Democracy to Chinese Labor".

    "Foxconn, the manufacturing contractor responsible for assembling as much as 40% of the world�s consumer electronics [such as Apple iPads and iPhones and many brands of computers], has achieved infamy for shoddy labor conditions, worker suicides, and the use of underpaid and underaged student interns." Worker shortages in China are forcing Foxconn and other companies to make some conciliatory gestures toward workers' rights to organize. Workers are winning rights to vote for their union representatives, but the unions them selves are state controlled, and although large labor protests in China have been widespread recently, the government has vigorously censored news of them in the Chinese press and social media.

    2014 September 16: Truthout article says socially responsible investment (SRI) funds still contribute to human rights abuses.

    Many of these funds are still replete with highly profitable technology stocks, such as Apple and Samsung, that have ongoing human rights abuses. Kevin Slaten of China Labor Watch says the Corporate Social Responsibility Reports that many SRI fund managers rely on are really just public relations tools. "Companies like Apple are "paying for audits instead of investing money to address the problems," he says.

    The article says a more effective way to bring about change is a divestment campaign, such as the one that brought about the end of apartheid in South Africa. "Groups like 350.org and We Divest are using divestment for their own causes, trying to slow global warming and bring justice to Palestine."

    2014 September 7: New York Times Business Day article: Just 13, and Working Risky 12-Hour Shifts in the Tobacco Fields

    Teen-agers in North Carolina harvesting tobacco plants can be exposed to nicotine poisoning, pesticides, and dehydration--risks that are greater for children than adults due to physical and neurological characteristics. In the face of strong opposition from farmers and politicians, labor officials have been unsuccessful in banning work in tobacco fields and with tractors for children under 16.

    "Federal law allows those 12 and older to work on farms for unlimited hours, as long as there is no conflict with school. For nonfarm work, federal law sets 14 as the minimum age and restricts work for children under 16 to eight hours a day."

    2014 August 6: The Nation reports 75 workers die for sake of shiny hubcaps

    "The massive explosion at Zhongrong Metal Products in Kunshan, Jiangsu Province�a subcontracted auto-parts supplier for General Motors and other multinationals�was sparked by a build-up of combustible dust, a byproduct of the metal polishing process used to produce impeccably shiny hubcaps". Although the plant was equipped with dust-removal gear, �workers who escaped the blast said the production lines were always enveloped in metallic dust so thick that visibility was severely impaired.� In addition to shoddy facilities, workers reportedly lacked appropriate safety training and had inadequate gear. "Noting the irony that GM recently won praise as a leading 'Fortune 500 company in the area of corporate social responsibility,' US-based watchdog China Labor Watch stated that the company 'has a duty to ensure safe production in its supply chain, and it shares responsibility for this deadly explosion.'"

    The article goes on to describe widespread negligence on the part of Chinese factories and the multinational companies and their suppliers that use them. It advocates for more democratic worker organizations and better media coverage and points to the power of social media.

    2014 June 4: The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Office of the General Counsel has issued a consolidated complaint against Walmart alleging that the company violated the rights of its employees as a result of activities surrounding employee protests in 13 states."....

    "The National Labor Relations Act guarantees the right of private sector employees to act together to try to improve their wages and working conditions with or without a union. The consolidated complaint involves more than 60 employees, 19 of whom were discharged allegedly as a result of their participation in activities protected by the National Labor Relations Act."

    2014 May 5: USAToday reports Drywall imported from China between 2005 and 2012 is still causing problems to health, pipes, wiring, appliances, and electronics if it has not been replaced. The largest number of cases have been found in Florida and Louisiana, where damage from severe hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 caused a shortage of U.S.-made drywall and where heat and humidity have caused test samples of the Chinese drywall to give off increased harmful chemicals. The problems appear to be caused by high levels of hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs and is not found in harmful levels in U.S.-made drywall. "Tainted Chinese drywall is no longer sold in the United States since the 2012 passage of the Drywall Safety Act, which set chemical standards for domestic and imported drywall", the report says. Lawsuits have been filed in a New Orleans federal court, but many homeowners are still waiting for compensation.

    2014 April 28: Big wins for Fair Food: New York Times Business section reports the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in Florida has changed the lives of tomato pickers from extreme harshness and in some cases outright slavery (see responsibleconsumer.net's earlier report) to lives of economic and social fairness and dignity. Workers, growers, and buyers--including McDonald's, Burger King, Whole Foods, Trader Joe?s, Chipotle, Subway, Yum Brands (owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC), and perhaps most significantly, Walmart--have joined in the win-win-win Fair Food Program. Walmart has often been accused of unfairness to workers, but in this case workers have cleverly used Walmart's huge market power to secure fairer conditions for themselves.

    The Coalition of Immokalee Workers has been in existence since 1993, according to the Times article, but the The Fair Food Program is only three years old. The Program, through tough but peaceful, democratic means, has brought power and respect to workers who formerly had little or no power. It has won high praise from academics, the White House, and the United Nations.

    2014 March 9: Slavery and child labor in India carpet industry.

    A report from the FXB Center for Health & Human Rights at Harvard University, cited on the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, contradicts "claims that slavery and child labor have been eliminated from the" industry and states that "the working conditions uncovered were nothing short of subhuman".

    "The major carpet exporters who were found to be using slave-like labor will be contacted and invited to collaborate with the FXB Center in an effort to eradicate these practices. Similarly, the major retail chains in the United States who have relationships with these carpet exporters will be encouraged to closely examine their supply chains to ensure that they are free of slave-like labor exploitation. The U.S. companies include Macy?s, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale?s, Target, Sears, Crate & Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen, IKEA, Home Depot, Walmart, JC Penny, Pier 1 Imports, ABC Carpet and Home, and Cost-Plus, among others."

    2013 Oct. 20 Indigenous Guatemalans Charge Canadian Mining Company Hudbay with murder, rapes, and a gunshot attack that left a man a parapalegic.

    This is the first time a "claim brought by individuals that had been harmed by Canadian mining abroad had ever gotten into Canadian courts at all." Many times, complex corporate structures involving offices in various countries have been given as reasons for Canadian courts to deny jurisdiction over cases involving Canadian companies accused of crimes in foreign lands.

    Human rights activist Grahame Russell says the attacks were motivated by the mining company wanting mineral resources under the land of indigenous peoples. Environmental justice activist Rachel Small ties a history of human rights abuses in Central America to colonization.

    2013 July 29 BBC: "Apple is facing fresh allegations of worker rights violations at Chinese factories of one of its suppliers, the Pegatron Group." China Labor Watch said the abuses were worse than the ones at Foxconn factories. where some workers committed suicide. The Wall Street Journal says "The report, set to be released on Monday by New York-based nonprofit China Labor Watch, alleges safety and environmental violations; the withholding of worker pay or the identification cards they need to work elsewhere; and poor living conditions at China-based factories owned by Taiwan's Pegatron Corp. and two subsidiaries."

    2013 June: Global Exchange report on "'Most Wanted' Corporate Human Rights Violators of 2012

    At the top of the list of ten companies is Bank of America, followed by Chevron, Century International Arms. Halliburton, The Hershey Company, Monsanto, Pacific Rim. TransCanada, Veolia, and Wal-Mart. The list is followed by details for each company and links to watchdog organizations.

    2013 June 10: Truthout report on negotiations on Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

    This legally binding accord has been signed by 40 retailers, but key American companies such as Walmart and Gap have refused to sign because they want a non-binding agreement. Labor leaders say worker organizations have not been involved in the negotiations; there need to be provisions for the right to organize as well as for safety; and non-binding agreements are too weak, with a history of failing.

    2013 June 9: Reuters reports Bangladesh garment sales soar despite deadly incidents"

    2013 May 22: New York Times says 1127 killed in April Bangladesh garment factory collapse "in the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry".

    A Bangladeshi government report "blamed the mayor for wrongly granting construction approvals and recommended charges against the building's owner, Sohel Rana, and the owners of the five garment factories in the building that could result in life sentences if they are convicted." The floors housing the garment factories were illegally constructed, generators caused the building to shake, and workers were ordered to return to their jobs in spite of cracks that appeared in the building shortly before its collapse when a generator was turned on.

    2013 May 14: MarketWatch says "shoppers don't care about Bangladesh".

    "A study published in the Journal of Business Ethics in 2012" showed that when consumers were given a choice between clothing "labeled 'Buy GWC Good Working Conditions'" and priced 50% higher than clothing without the label, only a quarter of the consumers bought the ethical clothes. Note that consumers were not confronted with the conditions under which the clothing without the label were produced, and we don't know what percentage of consumers chose to buy nothing.

    Sometimes people like the products that are produced in sweatshops (Apple computer products, for example) better than any comparable ones produced ethically, even though they are aware of the ethical problems. Sometimes the influence of peers or visibility of ethical labels tips the balance. Often the size of the premium paid for, say, a Fair Trade product, determines the decision. If the premium is too much, shoppers go back to unlabeled products.

    2013 May 12: Truthout report on Coalition of Immokalee Workers Fair Food campaign.

    Wendy's is the only remaining fast food company to sign the Fair Food agreement "to commit to workers'rights and fair wages" for tomato pickers. The Fair Food Agreement provides a penny per pound bonus for pickers, which would provide a living wage. Without the agreement, "a worker has to pick more than two and a quarter tons of tomatoes per day" just to make minimum wage. The Coalition works also to improve working conditions, including even slavery, for farmworkers. Slavery still exists in modern-day America, hard as it may be to believe.

    2013 April 28: Bangladesh clothing industry building collapse

    "The fugitive owner of an illegally-constructed building that collapsed in Bangladesh in a deadly heap last week was captured Sunday at a border crossing with India by members of a commando force." Hours before the collapse, the owner had claimed the building was safe despite large cracks. "A bank and some shops on the first floor shut their premises on Wednesday after police ordered an evacuation, but managers of the garment factories on the upper floor told workers to continue their shifts." Many name-brand clothes are manufactured in Bangladesh because wages there are so low. Hundreds lost their lives in the collapse.

    2013 January 3: Democracy Now War and Peace Report says "Expose Reveals Walmart Blocked Improvements Despite Vows to Improve Safety After Deadly Factory Fire"

    The fire took place at a Bangladesh factory that was part of Walmart's supply chain. "Survivors said an exit door at the factory was locked, fire extinguishers didn't work, and that when the fire alarm went off, their bosses ordered them to stay at their sewing machines." At least 111 workers died. Some escaped by breaking windows. An inspection report found appalling neglect of basic safety measures. Walmart claims it has addressed problems in its supply chain, but critics say it has resisted spending money to improve safety even though covering the funds needed could be raised by very small increases in product prices.

    2012 Oct. 5: more good news! Chipotle signed the Fair Food Agreement with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers. Trader Joe's signed back in February 2012.

    2012 Oct. 3: good news!Green America reports that Hershey Co. "will be certifying 100 percent of its cocoa by 2020 and urged the chocolate giant to go 100 percent Fair Trade with incremental benchmarks."

    2008 January 11: Opression of citizen bloggers in China, no longer available in English from Truthout, but available in French from La Rue and can be translated in the Chrome browser

    Nike: 2008 August 5 article in The Oregonian reports on criticisms of conditions in Nike factories and Nike's response. Worker rights advocates say pressure from Nike on contractors to lower prices forces contractors to pay sweatshop wages and maintain sweatshop conditions. Nike counters that they can't change conditions "without help from other companies, governments and workers' rights groups". Consumers have not been boycotting Nike products as the did in the 90's; critics say this is because Nike's public relations efforts have been hugely successful even though they have not helped workers.

    2007 May 3: Florida Voting

    Being able to cast a vote that is counted accurately is a prerequisite to all other human rights. Problems with electronic voting machines with no auditable paper trails have compromised the integrity of elections. Kindra Muntz, President, Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections (SAFE) in a press release states "In a historic vote, the Florida House today unanimously passed CS/HB 537, already passed in the Senate, that provides almost all voters paper ballots in time for the 2008 Presidential election, and bans paperless DREs [direct record electronic voting machines] outright by 2012. The bill now goes to the Governor [Crist] where he?s sure to sign it since it?s his initiative."

    2007 February 25 New York Times article says people fighting to expand freedom, political openness, and the rule of law in China disagree on whether to work within the Communist Party system or seek to end it. Chinese leaders eager to improve their image in the modern world tolerate an informal network of rights activists working within China's legal system and news media, but crush organized opposition. Rights workers operating within the system focus on fighting abuses at the local level. They say top leaders are more likely to enforce law at the local level to bolster their own popularity, and enable rights defenders to get around local authorities who play by their own rules rather than consitutional law. Rights workers who believe this is a futile tactic say President Hu Jintao has increased Communist Party control over courts and journalists. Dissidents critical of the government have been harassed, physically attacked, or given long prison sentences.

    Discrimination

    2004 March 8 Counterpunch special, "The Legacy of Strom Thurmond", gives insight into history of race relations in U.S., and reminds us of discriminatory and segregationist practices in higher education as recently as 2000.

    Investing

    2015 March 23: Investors for Bangladeshi Worker Rights
    In the aftermath of neglect of fire and safety hazards that caused a fire that killed 112 people and the Rana Plaza building collapse that killed over 1000 people and injured 2500, "investors are pressuring companies to commit to improving conditions for garment workers by signing on to the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety.

    2015 March 21 BBC news Science & Environment: scientists meet in May to discuss investing/divesting in fossil fuels

    The subject of reducing carbon emissions from fossil fuels is not as simple as divesting from all fossil fuels, because fossil fuel companies can help in the effort. Encouraging them to do so may in some cases be as effective as divesting. Stay tuned for more from the May conference.

    2014 November 22 On Bill Moyers.com: Group of Harvard students sue the university to divest from fossil fuels

    2014 September 16: Truthout article says socially responsible investment (SRI) funds still contribute to human rights abuses.

    Many of these funds are still replete with highly profitable technology stocks, such as Apple and Samsung, that have ongoing human rights abuses. Kevin Slaten of China Labor Watch says the Corporate Social Responsibility Reports that many SRI fund managers rely on are really just public relations tools. "Companies like Apple are "paying for audits instead of investing money to address the problems," he says.

    The article says a more effective way to bring about change is a divestment campaign, such as the one that brought about the end of apartheid in South Africa. "Groups like 350.org and We Divest are using divestment for their own causes, trying to slow global warming and bring justice to Palestine."

    2013 August 8. Reuters reports "The US is suing the Bank of America for investor fraud over the sale of $850mworth of residential mortgage-backed securities." The U.S. says BOA misled investors and failed "to disclose important facts"; BOA says "These were prime mortgages sold to sophisticated investors who had ample access to the underlying data and we will demonstrate that."

    2013 February 10: Guns and stocks

    An Associated Press post in the Daily Herald raises the question whether mutual funds and pension funds should include holdings in the gun industry. The article explains the legal and fiduciary complications of making changes in the funds and offers ways investors can look for funds that do not offend their moral values.