Monthly Archives: December 2011

New California Law Takes on Corporations and Slavery

 

So this new law will put corporations based in the golden state on notice when it comes to slavery and human trafficking. They will have to disclose what they are doing to ensure their global supply chains are free of these evils.

Companies risk getting sued by the state attorney general if they flout that law. But experts say the real pressure will come from the court of public opinion: consumers who care about ethical working conditions and take an interest in how their favorite brands get made.

I think that is a correct statement. It’s a shame there isn’t a federal law in the works like this. There are nonprofits that attempt to do this work and educate the public in this regard, but it makes a difference having a state government involved.

The perversion of the word organic

 

Oh, you’ve got to buy this because it’s ORGANIC! You are sticking it to the man! You know those big corporate behemoths with their factory farms and government subsidies. Just keep on buying things with the USDA Organic label and you’ll be fine. Right?

It’s not that easy unfortunately.

But even as more Americans buy foods with the organic label, the products are increasingly removed from the traditional organic ideal: produce that is not only free of chemicals and pesticides but also grown locally on small farms in a way that protects the environment.

The explosive growth in the commercial cultivation of organic tomatoes here, for example, is putting stress on the water table. In some areas, wells have run dry this year, meaning that small subsistence farmers cannot grow crops. And the organic tomatoes end up in an energy-intensive global distribution chain that takes them as far as New York and Dubai, United Arab Emirates, producing significant emissions that contribute to global warming.

I think it’s time that there is a movement begun to get organic back on track. Big corporations totally stole the word and the work of many independent farmers and merchants and they have perverted it. Take it back!

Pepsi fights to keep your kids fat and unhealthy

 

PepsiCo spends about three million dollars annually to lobby the federal government. Let’s just say they are not lobbying the federal government for help to make their products healthier. What they are trying to do is ensure that any proposed childhood obesity legislation would be in the industry’s favor. They are also very concerned about any rules that would affect the way food is marketed to children. It’s not just PepsiCo but a whole cabal which includes media leviathans like Viacom.

When I think of the amount of sugar or high fructose corn syrup that they put into soft drinks it makes me wish someone did a documentary on this topic. Call it Soda Nation or something. Anyhow, this does make me think about getting a SodaStream device.

Note – I’m not selling or shilling for this soda-making device by any means, but I figure I might as well put my Amazon Associate’s ID in there! People seem to be happy with it from the reviews though.

The Green Energy Trade War

 

I’ve said this a few times already. I don’t know why we allow the government to import wind turbines and solar panels when they should be manufactured in the United States. At least some of the industries involved in making these items are starting to ask for tariffs.

The allegations are much like the ones that solar panel manufacturers made in a similar case filed against Chinese manufacturers in October, namely that government subsidies were allowing foreign manufacturers to sell below cost in the United States, damaging the domestic industry. The filing is likely to increase the already escalating trade frictions between the United States and China.

Pacifica Radio raided workers’ pension fund. Shame

Say it isn’t so. Pacifica Radio the home of shows like Democracy Now! has done something sinister. Throughout the years I’ve had nothing but the utmost respect for Pacifica Radio and its stations spread throughout the nation. I listened to WBAI in New York for years until I moved to DC where WPFW broadcasts. Pacifica Radio is listener supported, which means they take no corporate money. The station was started by a pacifist in 1946.

So it was shocking to hear that a pension scandal was made public two months ago in October. I’m actually surprised I never heard anything about this on the Internet.

…KPFA’s union discovered that the station’s parent corporation Pacifica was illegally raiding the 403b pension funds of its union members for as long as 18 months, the network has finally admitted to workers that “during the past few years employee contributions . . . were not deposited into your accounts on a timely basis.”

So the station’s financial officers have committed what amounts to fraud. There is now an attempt to recall the treasurer.

The FDA tries to pull a fast one for the holidays on antibiotics

 

So they announce a major flip-flop on the regulation of human antibiotics in animal feed during the holiday week. Way to go FDA! You’re reminding me of the feckless Bush administration FDA of the past and you don’t want to end up like that.

The use of low doses of antibiotics in agricultural animal feed contributes to drug-resistant superbugs, according to food and health experts.

So who got to the administration I wonder? Was it ConAgra or Archers Daniels Midland?

The Oscar will stay American made

 

Honestly, it would really be sad if this were to ever change, especially since Hollywood has two high-profile unions in the Screen Actors Guild and the Writers Guild of America.  With that said, Teamsters Local 743 has secured their first new wages in four years.

From their press release.

Fifty Teamsters with R.S. Owens & Company in Chicago voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first new contract in four years. The three-year agreement includes the workers’ first new wage increases since 2006. The raises will be retroactive to the previous contract’s expiration on Nov. 14, with average hourly wages between $13-$14.

They not only make the Oscar award but they also make the awards handed out by MTV and the Academy of Country Music.

Army sergeant David Brash gets 21 million verdict on mortgage company

David Brash wins 21 million judgement against PHH Mortgage
The house that David fought for

Finally, someone is able to take a mortgage lender to court and beat the pants off of it. If only this could have happened to Countrywide.

U.S. Army sergeant David Brash has won more than $21 million in damages from PHH Mortgage after it falsely claimed he defaulted on his loan.

The 29-year-old was awarded the enormous sum by a Columbus jury after he sued the mortgage company  – the country’s eight-biggest – for reporting him as ‘seriously delinquent’ to credit rating companies.

PHH Mortgage is simply inept at what they do. How could someone seriously consider taking out a mortgage with them, when they can easily process payments in such a way as to not credit you?

NYU stomping through Greenwich Village like an elitist Godzilla

 

I have to wonder if the Jane Jacobs who did battle with Robert Moses over the Village in the 1960’s would approve of what New York University is attempting now? If there is one thing I know about Washington Square Park is that it’s always been a park open to the people. You could even find the likes of Bob Dylan there in the early stages of his career I’ve read. Is the city of New York going to allow New York University to simply erase history?

The Downtown Independent Democrats in an email make some good points that I will quote below.

NYU has a worldwide presence in far-flung places from Shanghai to Dubai. Their argument that they must continue to build in Greenwich Village is weak. They have expanded in Brooklyn and have cited Governors Island, yet will not consider numerous locations further downtown that are 15 minutes away.

NYU did not expand in Paris because city planners did not agree to non-contextual plans. Our NYC City Planning Agency must raise the bar accordingly.

New York City for years now has stopped Wal-Mart from entering the city. I think NYU should be treated the same way. The DID email closes with an excellent summation.

Major changes from residential to commercial zoning, high-scale development with square footage the size of the Empire State Building, removing NYU long agreed upon zoning stipulations, acquiring public green spaces, and devastating the neighborhood’s character and balance are not in the public interest.

 

Texas congressional members collect state pensions too

 

So Rick Perry is in good company it seems.

Ten of the 32 members of the Texas delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives also collect pensions from one of the public retirement systems in Texas, according to federal financial disclosure forms. Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison takes one, too.

I think a representative from Public Citizen’s Texas office said it best.

Smith said the principles of pensions are to ensure people have enough to live on when they cannot work anymore, but the law allows some people — like members of Congress — to collect state retirement money while still being paid “fat congressional salaries.”

I agree because when I think of a pension it is usually for someone who has retired for the most part. Sure, there are retirees who take on part-time jobs or what have you, but they’re not like Rick Perry and the the Texas congressional delegation.