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In the News

(Organized by date, newer to older. For newer articles than these, see the Home page. For older articles than these, see Archives.)

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 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 July 1 labornotes.org Chinese Walmart workers on wildcat strike against flexible scheduling

Strikes in China are not officially allowed but are not illegal. Ironically the only union is tightly controlled by the communist government and not by workers. Hence the great number of wildcat strikes not called by union leaders.

The system of flexible scheduling allows Walmart to avoid overtime pay for days longer than 8 hours by assigning fewer hours on other days, as long as they assign no more than 174 hours in a month. In addition, irregular scheduling makes it very difficult to maintain a second job.

"Moreover, workers fear the system will open the door to replacing more full-time jobs with part-time and casual ones—a familiar development for Walmart workers in the United States."

Workers say Walmart has used coercive tactics to get them to sign agreement with the new flexible scheduling policy. They also have been intimidated by Walmart management to refrain from effective organizing. Lack of real collective bargaining has led to falling wages after accounting for inflation.

"This struggle offers a chance to build international solidarity." Chinese and American Walmart workers have been in contact regarding flexible scheduling and the fight for a $15 minimum wage.

2016 July 1 Yahoo News (AFP Relax News): U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigation: bacteria in flour in uncooked products, such as cookie dough and baking mixes, can make you sick

    "FDA offers these tips for safe food handling to keep you and your family healthy:
  • Do not eat any raw cookie dough, cake mix, batter, or any other raw dough or batter product that is supposed to be cooked or baked.
  • Follow package directions for cooking products containing flour at proper temperatures and for specified times.
  • Wash hands, work surfaces, and utensils thoroughly after contact with flour and raw dough products.
  • Keep raw foods separate from other foods while preparing them to prevent any contamination that may be present from spreading. Be aware that flour may spread easily due to its powdery nature.
  • Follow label directions to chill products containing raw dough promptly after purchase until baked."

2016 June 29 Yahoo News (Reuters): "Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T> has recalled 3.37 million cars worldwide over possible defects involving air bags and emissions control units."

"Sweden-based auto safety gear maker Autoliv Inc confirmed on Wednesday that it supplied the air bag inflators involved."

2016 June 28 The Guardian Buenos Aires zoo will close

Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta says captivity is degrading for animals.The zoo will be converted to an ecopark and the animals who live there and are in good enough condition to be moved will be transfered to nature reserves. "Older animals and those too infirm to be moved will remain at the current site", but "will no longer be exhibited to the public".

The zoo's private concessionaires had been losing money and the zoo had been criticized for bad conditions of the animals.

2016 June 28 BBCNews: "Ikea recalls Malm drawers in North America after child deaths"

The drawers can tip over when not attached to a wall. Ikea is urging customers to follow assembly instructions to attach the chests to a wall. "Consumers can choose between a refund or a free wall-anchoring repair kit."

2016 June 10 Yahoo news: "Tesla to clarify how customers may disclose problems"

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said Tesla has satisfactorily clarified troublesome language regarding nondisclosure of agreements to repair vehicles.

The issue arose because complaints of suspension problems in Tesla cars had been filed with the NHTSA, and one of the owners had "said Tesla agreed to pay 50 percent of a $3,100 repair bill if the owner agreed to keep the arrangement confidential."

"Tesla said in a blog post late on Thursday that it 'has never and would never ask a customer to sign a document to prevent them from talking to NHTSA or any other government agency.' But the company said it often requires customers to sign a 'goodwill agreement' with a nondisclosure clause when the company agrees to cover or discount repairs even if it is not responsible.'"

Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted "that 37 of 40 suspension complaints filed with the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration were fraudulent." He said "a false location or vehicle identification numbers were used."

The NHTSA said Tesla "was cooperating fully with its review and that no suspension problems had been found 'to date.'"

2016 June 9 Yahoo News: More Japanese auto recalls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016 April 15 BBC News: Orcas in captivity

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

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

Rights groups say the law unnecessarily curbs free speech.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    2016 Jan. 24 Yahoo News, Reuters 5 million more autos with Takata air bags recalled, tens of millions more may be recalled

    "Automakers affected for the first time include Volkswagen AG and its Audi unit and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz unit."

    "Twelve major automakers have previously recalled more than 23 million Takata air bag inflators in more than 19 million vehicles in one of the largest and most complex safety recalls in U.S. automotive history."

    "Takata's inflators can explode with too much force and spray metal shrapnel into vehicle passenger compartments and are linked to more than 100 U.S. injuries."

    2016 Jan. 19 bbc.com: "Apple, Samsung and Sony face child labour claims", along with others.

    Amnesty International says the companies do not ensure children as young as 7 are not mining cobalt, used in lithium iron batteries, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Apple, Samsung, and Sony deny this.

    "UNICEF estimates that there are approximately 40,000 children working in mines across southern DRC." They are at risk for serious health problems and death.

    "The Amnesty report, which was jointly researched with African Resources Watch (Afrewatch), traced how traders buy cobalt from areas where child labour is rife, selling it on to firm Congo Dongfang Mining (CDM), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese mineral giant Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt Ltd."

    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."

    2016 Jan. 12 IDG News Service Electronic Frontier Foundation says Cisco Systems "built a security system for the Chinese government knowing it would be used to track and persecute members of the Falun Gong religious minority"

    Cisco denied the allegations.

    2016 Jan. 8 reuters.com Pfizer drug price increases as high as 20%

    "...A novel breast cancer drug launched last year at a list price of $9,850 per month, or $118,200 per year." Other drug manufacturers also increased prices. A planned merger between Pfizer and Allergan "would create the world's largest drugmaker and shift Pfizer's headquarters to Ireland, would also be the biggest-ever instance of a U.S. company re-incorporating overseas to lower its taxes."

    Consumerreports.org has an article entitled "Save Money on Meds: 6 Tips for Finding the Best Prescription Drug Prices". The article puts a human face on the situation: a woman could not afford to fill her prescription when the price skyrocketed, took a different, cheaper drug instead, and had a bad reaction.

    Consumerreports says it pays to shop around: some insurance co-payments are higher than the price you would pay without insurance at some stores (go figure!)Not only that, but "drugs could cost as much as 10 times more at one retailer vs. another." Prices vary widely even in the same area. It also pays to ask for a discount, which the store may not tell you about unless you ask, even though retailers do not expect consumers to pay gigantic list prices.

    Such shenanigans have a lot to do with prices insurance companies will pay pharmacies and how those prices are set. Mergers could make the situation worse. The article lists strategies that can help consumers save. Consumerreports.org's site "Best Buy Drugs" links to lots more information. You can look up specific drugs, their uses and prices and side effects.

    Getting informed on the options for handling drug expenses takes a lot of research, something a sick person is not likely to be able to do. Responsibleconsumer.net hopes that providing this summary and these links will help people to access the information with less difficulty and will motivate them to find and save the information before they desperately need it.

    2016 Jan. 7 npr.org: Most people would rather not know a product is produced unethically

    A study gave college students a choice of two out of four options to be given information about characteristics of brand name jeans. One option was to find out "whether the company used child labor". "More than 85 percent" not only did not choose that option, but "tended to denigrate" those who did.

    "Further testing suggested that the willfully ignorant participants may have been unconsciously compensating for the guilt they felt when compared with ethical consumers." Such comparisons drive people away from consumer responsibility, rather than draw them toward it. ResponsibleConsumer.net submits that the same test should be performed using ethical concerns other than child labor to see whether the results hold up; child labor could be viewed differently than, say, slave labor.

    2015 Dec. 28 Truth-out.org: Should philanthropy by wealthy capitalists be celebrated?

    A new book by Linsey McGoey, No Such Thing As A Free Gift: The Gates Foundation and the Price of Philanthropy, examines whether massive philanthropy by billionaire capitalists is a net gain for social good or expands the political and economic power of billionaires.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has set up a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC) to receive 99% of his Facebook shares as "charity", but an LLC is "exempt from non-profit rules against political expenditures and profit-making" and from "any requirements to publicly list any grants made to either for-profits or non-profits". This is different from the Gates Foundation, which must justify grants to for-profit corporations as being for charity rather than profit, but such gifts still can involve rich corporations giving to other rich corporations rather than to non-profits. In spite of this, the author says, public scrutiny that existed in the days of Rockefeller and Carnegie "seems almost absent today."

    The author does not accuse Bill Gates of using philanthropy for personal gain. Rather, she says, he misplaces faith in for-profit corporate recipients such as Mastercard using the money--which because of the tax and legal structure, is subsidized by US taxpayers--for charitable rather than commercial activities.

    An argument for such faith is "the idea that the 'data-driven' and 'market-based' philanthropic efforts of today are far more efficient and productive than social services provided by the government." McGoey answers this argument by saying that poverty and inequality in the US are rising, not falling in the face of all this philanthropy, and that "an organization called Eurodad, the European Network on Debt and Development, has studied the rise of public-private partnerships in global development and concluded that partnerships with the private sector can often double the costs expended by governments."

    McGoey states that "My own view is that nothing will change unless large media outlets such as the New York Times nuance the fawning way they cover large foundations such as the Gates Foundation and start asking tougher questions."

    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 Dec. 4 Yahoo News: "Some espresso machines a breeding ground for bacteria"

    "The researchers noticed that the bacteria started to grow in the used capsule container and then spread to the rest of the machine. They stressed that after rinsing the container, the bacteria quickly return."

    "The study recommends regularly cleaning the drip tray, cup tray and capsule container with an antibacterial product to avoid contaminating the drink."

    2015 Dec. 1 BBC News: Japanese whaling resumes after a year

    "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. 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. 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. 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 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. 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 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. 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. 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 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: 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

    News Themes

    (Organized by category, then date within category. Some articles are included in more than one category; for example, human rights and environment. For help researching individual companies, see Company Research)

    Human Rights | Animal Rights and Welfare | Environment | Investing | Corporations |

    Human Rights

    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."

    Animal Rights and Welfare

    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".

    Environment

    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.

    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.

    Corporations

    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.