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2018 May 4 democracynow.org Former Volkswagen CEO charged with criminal conspiracy
The U.S. Justice Department follows a federal grand jury indictment for rigging cars to show lower carbon dioxide emissions during testing than occured during normal conditions.
2018 May 4 businessinsider.com European insurance company "Allianz says it will stop insuring coal-fired power plants and coal mines", divest from coal companies, and increase use of renewable energy to fight climate change.
2018 May 3 bbc.com Australia's Commonwealth Bank lost data of 20m accounts
A recent inquiry into Australian banks has raised concerns about their practices. "Last month, the inquiry heard that the Commonwealth bank collected fees from customers it knew had died."
2018 May 2 theguardian.com "Cambridge Analytica closing after Facebook data harvesting scandal"
Cambridge Analytica maintains it did nothing wrong or unusual in using personal data of Facebook users but that "media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company's customers and suppliers".
"Christopher Wylie, the original Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, told the Observer that the data ... was used to influence the outcome of the US presidential election and Brexit."
2018 April 28 consortium news.com Starbucks demotes Anti-Defamation League from leadership of anti-racism training to consultative role after intense protests
The training was scheduled for most Starbucks stores in response to protests against the arrest of two black men for not buying anything while waiting for a friend in a Philadelphia Starbucks. Instead of mollifying protesters, the plan further angered them because the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has been seen by civil rights activists as supportive of racist and violent acts.
How will civil rights activists respond to this move? On its website Starbucks says it "...will also consult with a diverse array of organizations and civil rights experts—including The Anti-Defamation League...".
2018 April 26 marketwatch.com Study suggests hand dryers in bathrooms spread far more bacteria than paper towels
"Air hand dryers suck up fecal matter from the bathroom air and spray it onto users' hands, a new study published by the American Society for Microbiology found." However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "The best way to dry hands remains unclear because few studies about hand drying exist, and the results of these studies conflict...."
2018 April 25 buzzflash.com The Minnesota Court of Appeals "rules Activists May Argue Pipeline Shutdown Was Necessary Due to Climate Change"
Two protesters shut down two tar sands pipelines in 2016 October by shutting off their emergency valves. They were charged with criminal damage to property. They maintain their actions "were justified due to the threat of climate change."
"This court's decision allows the defense to call on climate scientists and other experts to explain the threat of climate change during the trial."
2018 April 24 therealnews.com Starbucks engages ADL for anti-bias training after racist incident
Two black men were arested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for not buying anything while waiting for a friend. Following intense criticism, Starbucks announced it would conduct racial bias training from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), among other civil rights organizations. The ADL has been criticized for being mainly an advocate for Israel and spying on "progressive activists, especially Palestinian and other Arab activists. The ADL was also accused of spying on activists who opposed the apartheid regime in South Africa, which was allied with the U.S. and Israel, and has been accused of spying on antiwar activists who campaigned against the U.S. arming of far-right death squads in Central America in the 1980s and '90s."
Jewish Voice for Peace, which is committed to anti-Islamophobia, "has launched a campaign called #DropTheADL."
2018 April 21 capecod.com Expanded romaine lettuce warning
"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its warning about tainted romaine from Arizona, saying information from new illnesses led it to caution against eating any forms of the lettuce that may have come from the city of Yuma. Officials have not found the origin of the contaminated vegetables."
"Previously, CDC officials had only warned against chopped romaine by itself or as part of salads and salad mixes. But they are now extending the risk to heads or hearts of romaine lettuce."
2018 April 20 reuters.com Europe's largest bank, HSBC, moves to divest from fossil fuels
The move supports the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement. An exception will be "coal-fired power plants in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Vietnam", because "'There’s a very significant number of people in those three countries who have no access to any electricity'", said HSBC CEO John Flint.
"'The reasonable position for us is to allow a short window for us to continue to get involved in financing coal there... if we think there is not a reasonable alternative,' he said."
Environmental advocacy group Greenpeace praised the move, noting it would prevent HSBC from funding the Keystone XL pipeline.
2018 April 19 bbc.com Fan blade failure suspected in Southwest Airlines accident
"Almost 700 Boeing 737 engines will need to be inspected worldwide over the next 20 days, regulators say."
2018 April 19 bbc.com "Facebook to exclude billions from European privacy laws"
Facebook users outside the European Union (EU) will now come under Facebook's US privacy rules rather than those of its European headquarters in Ireland. 1.5 billion Users in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will no longer be covered by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) due to take effect on 2018 May 25.
Facebook claims its privacy protections are the same everywhere, but this article says the "GDPR...offers EU consumers far greater control over their data" than those not covered by the GDPR. One expert said "regulators and lawmakers in the US and Canada were working on their own laws that would reflect the same controls offered by the 'game-changing' GDPR. Stay tuned!
2018 April 18 bbc.com "Facebook seeks facial recognition consent in EU and Canada"
If you are a Facebook user, whether or not your consent is required for Facebook to use your likeness in a photo depends on what country you live in. "Consent" can mean one of several different things, as explained in this very informative article.
If you are not a Facebook user, it is still important for you to understand what is involved in privacy rules, because according to this article you can be included in a group photo that as far as you know has nothing to do with Facebook, or given as a source of permission for sharing personal information by a person under 18 without your identity being checked. Data watchdogs are still looking into whether Facebook privacy settings conform to requirements of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to take effect on 2018 May 25.
2018 usatoday.com Wells Fargo federal $1B fine for loan abuses
This new problem for Wells Fargo comes in the wake of a $185 million fine for "a scandal involving an estimated 3.5 million accounts that may not have been authorized by customers."
The website features a video interview with Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan discussing a plan to turn the company around. Fargo "took over the company last year after the fake accounts scandal."
For further details of Wells Fargo's previous troubles, see bloomberg.com on 36% pay hike for CEO
The manager of the Philadelphia cafe had complained to the police that the men had not bought anything. Protests of the police action were organized throughout the weekend.
2018 April 13 usatoday.com Romaine lettuce suspected in E. coli outbreak
The lettuce is from the Yuma growing region in Phoenix, Aarizona. "No grower, supplier, distributor or brand has been identified as the outbreak's source"....
2018 April 13 thehill.com Massachusetts Supreme Judicial court rules against Exxon
On appeal of an earlier ruling, the court affirmed that Exxon oil company had "violated the state's consumer protection law" because internal memos indicated Exxon failed to alert the public, as required by Massachusetts law, about what it knew about public health risks of burning fossil fuels,
2018 April 4 washingtonpost.com Abuse of Facebook data
"Facebook said Wednesday that 'malicious actors' took advantage of search tools on its platform, making it possible for them to discover the identities and collect information on most of its 2 billion users worldwide."
"The revelation came amid rising acknowledgement by Facebook about its struggles to control the data it gathers on users. Among the announcements Wednesday was that Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy hired by President Trump and other Republicans, had improperly gathered detailed Facebook information on 87 million people, of whom 71 million were Americans."
"But the abuse of Facebook's search tools -- now disabled -- happened far more broadly and over the course of several years, with few Facebook users likely escaping the scam, company officials acknowledged."
Users of Facebook and other Internet sites should be very careful about accepting default privacy settings and what information they allow to be made public. It is not a matter of whether they think they have anything to hide. Personally identifying data, as well as data on unsuspecting friends with whom you interact online, can be tied to other data stored in other places and manipulated for political and advertising ends. Such data may include names, phone numbers, email and physical addresses, birth dates, personal tastes, and attendance at events.
Not only data from personal computers, but data from other Android devices, such as call history, has shown up in Facebook's data files: see www.theverge.com
If you think you may have been a victim of these kinds of shenanigans, see the link to IRS "Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft" under Public Service Announcements in the right column of this page.
2018 March 27 ecowatch.com More Than 2,400 Animals Killed by Oil Spill in Colombia"
"According to local media, it took Colombia's state oil company Ecopetrol three weeks to respond to the environmental disaster."
2018 March 17 capecodtimes.com Failure of airbags in some Hyundai and Kia cars leads to several deaths and injuries
"The problem has been traced to electrical circuit shorts in air bag control computers made by parts supplier ZF-TRW". The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is looking into whether the same problem could occur in other cars.
"In May of last year, NHTSA opened an investigation into whether Hyundai and Kia moved quickly enough to recall more than 1.6 million cars and SUVs because the engines can stall, increasing the risk of a crash. The investigation into three recalls by the two brands is pending. The agency also said it's investigating whether the automakers followed safety reporting requirements."
2018 March 12 districtsentinel.com Rule governing poultry and livestock welfare in U.S. National Organic Program repealed
Public comment was largely against repeal. The rule would have taken effect in 2018 May. It would have prohibited chicken cages that do not allow free movement, cows without access to the outdoors, "de-beaking chickens, forced molting, and cow tail docking--the lopping off of young cow's tails."
2018 March 12 goodelectronics.org China Labor Watch vs. Apple
China Labor Watch alleges violations of working conditions by Apple suppliers. Apple denies knowledge of any such violations. The report is sometimes vague. For example, repeated references to orders by "the work safety department" fail to specify whether the "work safety department" (note the lack of capitalization that would indicate a specific department of something or other) is a department of the supplier company, Apple itself, the Chinese government, or China Labor Watch.
2018 March 7 democracynow.org Bipartisan effort to weaken Dodd-Frank Act
The U.S. Senate voted 67-32 to send S. 2155, Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act "back to the floor for debate and possible amendments before a final vote in the coming days."
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts, said "This bill is a punch in the gut to American consumers. If it passes, it will be harder to police banks that sell abusive mortgages, harder to police lenders who discriminate against their customers, and harder to police giant monopolies that build and sell and offer financing to mobile home buyers. Only a bunch of bank lobbyists--and their friends in Washington--would call this a consumer protection bill."
2018 March 5 (update) thinkprogress.org Banks that finance assault weapons
Bank of America
Bank of Montreal
Branch Bank & Trust (BB&T)
Citizens Financial Group
Morgan Stanley Bank
Northern Trust Company
People’s United Bank
Stifel Bank & Trust
Zions First National
Judd Legum contributed research. This story will be updated as the companies respond to ThinkProgress.>
2018 March 1 time.com Gun Control ProtestsGun Control Protests
Students are leading activities to protest the lack of control of guns that were used in the rash of recent school shootings. The website "What to Know About March for Our Lives and Other Student-Led Gun Cpontrol Protests" gives details, beginning with a day-long boycott of Amazon, Apple, and FedEx on March 1. On March 14 there will be a 17-minute national school walkout--one minute "or every person killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School." On March 24, starting at 10 a.m., there will be a march in Washington, D.C. calling for a bill to address gun violence in the U.S.
2018 Feb. 27 goodelectronics.org Glencore: socialy responsible company or abusive?
According to the Glencore website, it operates in about 50 countries around the world, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and adheres to certain sustainability standards. But "An IndustriALL Global Union fact-finding mission in Febuary 2018 to Glencore's copper and cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has uncovered alarming mistreatment of workers directly contradicting Glencore's claims. "
2018 Feb. 27 truthout.org/news "Activists Block Construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline in Louisiana"
The Pipeline is a "joint venture between Energy Transfer Partners and Phillips 66 Partners". Energy Transfer Partners is the owner of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.
Louisiana is especially vulnerable to land loss from climate change linked to the fossil fuels oil and gas.
The activists say the Bayou Bridge Pipeline "threatens ancient tupelo and cypress trees that provide migratory habitat for birds. Additionally, the plaintiffs are concerned about oil spills in the" large, resource-intensive wetlands.
"Federal data shows that Energy Transfer Partners and its subsidiary Sunoco, Inc. were responsible for more than 300 'significant' pipeline incidents over the past decade, according to the complaint".
2018 Feb. 27 yahoo.com/news "Woman sues Delta, says she was groped on flight"
The woman says she was groped by a man sitting next to her. She yelled for him to stop but he persisted. She complained to crew members but their response was apathetic, she said. She posted her account of the incident on Facebook and "was overwhelmed by how many people shared similar stories in respnse".
"The lawsuit was filed under a treaty governing aspects of international flights, such as what happens when an airline loses a passenger's luggage. Under that treaty, airlines are automatically liable for injuries suffered by passengers, up to a maximum of roughly $150,000. If the carriers are found to have been negligent, the damages can be greater.
"A measure introduced in Congress last summer calls for airlines to provide more training about how to handle sexual assault cases and would require them to collect data on reported incidents."
2018 Feb. 25 motherjones.com "Trump and Congress Are Making It Easier for Banks and Companies to Rip Off Black People"
Anti-discrimination policies that affect the ability of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to access data that shows possible redlining by lenders has been seriously weakened under the Bureau's new interim director. The director is President Trump's budget director. Redlining by lenders is the practice of discriminating against particular neighborhoods considered to be poor financial risks.
2018 Feb. 16 bbc.com/news/science-environment Petroleum-based household products can endanger health
Air pollution caused by "petroleum-based products such as cleaning fluids and paints" is an underestimated threat to health, according a "study, led from Colorado University". Some commonly used products include nail polish remover, hairspray, and cleaners.
2018 Feb. 15 yesmagazine.org Cities divesting from Big Oil
"In January, New York City announced that it would both divest its $189 billion pension fund from fossil fuel companies and sue the world's five biggest oil companies for their contributions to catastrophic climate change."
"Inspired by the Standing Rock Sioux and their powerful protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), grassroots groups across the country sprang up last year to carry on the work of Standing Rock by targeting the banks that finance extreme fossil fuel infrastructure."
"The global financial and insurance industries are starting to recognize that fossil fuel investments don't make moral or economic sense." Pressure from environmental activists is combining with financial managers' realisation that fossil fuels in the ground are bad investments because they "cannot be tapped without causing catastrophic climate change."
2018 Feb. 7 techtalk.pcpitstop.com 83 thousand Lenovo Thinkpads recalled after loose screw causes danger of fire
2018 Feb. 6 yahoo.com/lifestyle Publix supermarket vs. gay workers
"Florida's most beloved supermarket faces allegations of mistreating LGBTQ workers"
2018 Feb. 4 National Public Radio Another Amtrak train derails
2018 Jan. 21 theguardian.com Government agency might sue Trump administration
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has published a report advocating limits on use of certain pesticides due to harm they cause to "dozens of endangered and threatened species such as salmon and orca whales." One of the pesticides, chlorpyrifos, "can hinder the development of children's brains, even at tiny levels of exposure", according to professional studies. Dow Chemical Company, a seller of chlorpyrifos, has lobbied the Trump administration against limits on chlorpyrifos use, saying the studies are flawed. Use of the chemical on fruits and vegetables had been banned in the Obama administration, but the ban has been reversed in the Trump administration.
2018 Jan. 17 techtalk.pcpitstop.com Follow-up on Meltdown and Spectre computer bugs
On Jan. 9 ResponsibleConsumer.net reported that Microsoft had recalled some patches for computer chip bugs because they they caused additional problems rather than solving the original problems caused by the malware itself. Since then hackers have exploited the situation by posting malicious "patches" tucked into secure web pages (those with addresses that start with https:// rather than http://). The pages themselves are secure but the links contained in the pages are malicious. Legitimate patches will not be sent in an email you have not requested.
Microsoft advises not installing patches for the bugs at this time. New patches are currently being tested.
2018 Jan. 19 capecodtoday.com "Dollar General Recalls Clover Valley Iced Oatmeal Cookies"
Macaroon cookies were inadvertently packed in oatmeal cookies wrappers, endangering people with milk and nut allergies.
2018 Jan. 17 districtsentinel.com National Aeronautic and Space Agency(NASA) private contractors Boeing and SpaceX delay certification of systems to shuttle astronauts to and from International Space Station (ISS)
"Each delay forces NASA to purchase seats on Russian rocket ships in order to send US astronauts to the ISS for routine activities."
Lactalis "has said it believes the contamination was caused by renovation work at its Craon factory."
"The Picot, Milumel, Celia and Taranis brands have all been recalled."
"Last week a company spokesman told the BBC that all the countries affected had been informed, in Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. The UK, US and Australia were not affected, he added."
The French government is investigating Lactalis's handling of the situation. There have been allegations of a possible cover-up and failure to control distribution of contaminated products.
2018 Jan. 10 capecodtoday.com Rare Salmonella strain found in shredded coconut
"Disease investigators at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) have traced a rare strain of Salmonella to frozen shredded coconut, prompting the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the distributor this month to issue a multistate recall."
"Microsoft has halted some patches for the Meltdown and Spectre chip bugs after AMD customers complained that the software updates froze their machines."
2018 Jan. 8 huffingtonpost.com New Jersey Prisons stop banning "book that links racial discrimination and mass incarceration."
"The state Department of Corrections lifted the ban after the ACLU chapter on Monday demanded that access to the book be granted to inmates in the state, which the group said has the worst U.S. black-white incarceration disparity."
2018 Jan. 4 propublica.org Driving a private garbage truck is one of the most dangerous jobs
"In New York City overall, private sanitation trucks killed seven people in 2017. By contrast, city municipal sanitation trucks haven't caused a fatality since 2014." Private trucks haul trash from businesses at night and city trucks haul residential trash during the day. Working conditions for all garbage truck drivers and helpers are unenviable, but pay and working conditions for private truck workers tends to be much worse than for city workers. Pressure to meet difficult or impossible deadlines ads to the stress and safety issues. "Waste companies 'routinely violate OSHA [the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration] requirements,' according to the 2016 study by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health." Much seriously broken equipment--the article mentions safety latches for holding in garbage and containers, brakes, steering, transmissions--on trucks have been reported by drivers and denied by company owners.
"Waste and recycling work is the fifth most fatal job in America -- far more deadly than serving as a police officer or a firefighter. Loggers have the highest fatality rate, followed by fishing workers, aircraft pilots and roofers."
2018 Jan. 4 pcworld.com Intel, AMD and ARM computer processor security flaws discovered.
The flaws, called Meltdown and Spectre, are in the computer hardware, so computers such as Chromebooks that are usually safe are still vulnerable. Mobile devices are vulnerable as well. "An attacker can exploit these CPU vulnerabilities to expose extremely sensitive data in your protected kernel memory, including passwords, cryptographic keys, personal photos, emails, or any other data on your PC."
Patches have been issued from computer operating system manufacturers such as Apple and Microsoft, but in some cases the patches could cause a slowdown of the computer.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) "estimates there's potentially somewhere between 4.3 and 11.8 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic Refuge's 1002 area. Those are huge numbers."
Advantages of the 1002 area include that "The oil potential lies on shore Ã¢â‚¬â€ potentially an easier target than more technically complicated and expensive drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Alaska is also in a politically stable country."
Questions remain as to whether oil companies will want to drill in Alaska,"when you can see billions of barrels in resource being added on an annual basis in West Texas."
2017 Dec. 21 yahoo.com news Amtrak aroused safety concerns before crash
"On Monday Dec.18 13 of 14 cars on an excessively speeding Amtrak train derailed south of Seattle, killing several and injuring many more.
The derailment "is likely to intensify scrutiny of the national passenger railroad company's safety record, which was already under the microscope following a series of fatal incidents."
2017 Dec. 16 npr.or GM ignition switch plaintiffs
"GM faced criminal charges and has paid legal settlements totaling more than $2 billion after conceding in 2014 that it failed for more than a decade to recall millions of vehicles with defective switches now linked to 124 deaths, despite internal evidence of a safety problem. The switch can slip from the run position, cutting engine power and disabling safety features including air bags."
A looming trial could result in GM paying $1 billion in stock to settle the case, but it might be settled before then or challenged in court after a verdict is reached.
2017 Dec. 13 gatehousenews.com Wind industry controversies
Some families have moved out of their homes. Conflicts of interest may exist with elected officials who have contracts with wind companies and vote on issues affecting those companies. Some opponents of wind turbines have felt pressured, harassed, disrespected and misrepresented by wind companies and neighbors who benefit financially from them.
"A six-month GateHouse Media investigation found that wind developers representing some of the world's biggest energy companies divide communities and disrupt the lives of residents forced to live in the shadow of their industrial wind farms."
Representatives of the wind industry denied any link between wind turbines and physical illness. They say detractors are few compared to supporters.
Researchers disagree on the effects of low-frequency sound waves produced by the turbines. Some say they "stimulate parts of the inner ear responsible for balance, motion and spatial orientation and that they provoke symptoms similar to motion sickness". Others deny a direct link, saying complainants are sincere, but different people have different sensitivities and there are many possible causes for the symptoms.
The request was granted by the U.S. Department of Interior, rolling back a 2016 ban by former President Barach Obama.
An attorney for The Center of Biological Diversity said Ã¢â‚¬Å“An oil spill here would do incredible damage, and it'd be impossible to clean up."
2017 Nov. 29 bbc.com Uber covered up 2016 data breach
"The stolen information includes names, email addresses and phone numbers and - for US drivers - licence numbers."
"The story was first broken by Bloomberg, which reported that Uber not only sought to cover up the incident but also paid hackers $100,000 (Ã‚Â£75,000) to delete the data they had stolen."
2017 Nov. 28 huffingtonpost.com Wells Fargo scandal
"Wells Fargo bankers chasing bonuses charged hundreds of clients inflated foreign transaction fees, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
"The report comes just over a year since Wells Fargo paid a $185 million fine for "widespread illegal" sales practices involving fees on 2 million deposit and credit-card accounts opened without customers' knowledge."
2017 Nov. 22 EcoWatch.com Another large spill from Keysktone Oil pipeline
"'This is a relatively new pipeline. It is supposed to have an operating life of more than 100 years and it was supposed to be a state-of-the-art pipeline construction. It appears that it is not,' South Dakota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) member Gary Hanson told Aberdeen News."
2017 Nov. 21 inthesetimes.com Wendy's last large restaurant chain to refuse to sign Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Fair Food Plan
The CIW is an organization of Florida tomato pickers that formed in the 1990s in the face of barriers to unionization. It prevents farms that participate in its Fair Food Plan from abusing farmworkers rights. The Plan has been remarkably effective in improving the wages and working conditions of 35,000 workers.
Wendy's refuses to pay dues to the CIW and claims "its own corporate code of conduct" makes the Fair Food Plan unnecessary.
2017 Nov. 21 bloomberg.com Bloomberg reports massive data breach from Uber
"Hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber Technologies Inc., a massive breach that the company concealed for more than a year. This week, the ride-hailing firm ousted its chief security officer and one of his deputies for their roles in keeping the hack under wraps, which included a $100,000 payment to the attackers."
2017 Nov. 16 yesmagazine.org Yes in my Backyard: Tiny houses for homeless
Architect Rex Hohlbein of Seattle founded "Facing Homelessness, a nonprofit that directly supports homeless individuals". He and his daughter started the BLOCK Project, "a new nonprofit that aims to house the homeless in high-quality backyard cottages. The organization would build and own the houses, helping with formalities like planning permission and insurance -- while homeowners would lend space for the tiny homes and welcome the new inhabitants into the neighborhood".
Hohlbein sees inclusive communities rather than government and nonprofits as the main solution to the problem of homelessnes. He says "There are people with severe mental health issues, aggression problems, severe violent offenders, Level 3 sex offenders -- it's a small category of the homeless, but it is a category. The thing that we're excited about is that when the BLOCK Project takes a giant chunk out of the homeless issue, we will be freeing up so many professionals to give their attention to people who really need that kind of care."
"Reporting from COP23 in Bonn, Germany, Democracy Now! travels to the nearby blockade of the Hambach coal mine, the largest open-pit coal mine in Europe. Activists say the mine extracts an extremely dirty form of coal called lignite, also known as brown coal, which causes the highest CO2 emissions of any type of coal when burned. For more than five years, they have been fighting to shut down the mine and to save the remaining forest from being cut down to make way for the expanding project. Only 10 percent of the ancient forest remains."
2017 Nov. 17 socialistworker.org Corporations profit while most of Puerto Rico still without electricity
"In the weeks following the hurricane, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) signed two highly dubious contracts with private U.S. firms to help with the rebuilding of the island's utilities infrastructure."
"The more notorious of the two deals was a $300 million contract with a little-known Montana company called Whitefish Energy...."
2017 Nov.16 commondreams.org Big Keystone Oil pipeline spill in South Dakota
Four and a half hours after the problem was discovered, "TransCanada announced that more than 200,000 gallons of oil had spilled from the existing portion of the Keystone system in Marshall County, South Dakota."
Environmentalists argue that all pipelines leak at some point, that they threaten clean water and soil, and that the only safe way to deal with fossil fuels is to keep them in the ground.
"ETP, the company behind the Dakota Access pipeline, intends to build a 162-mile pipeline across southern Louisiana. If built, the Bayou Bridge will be the last leg, carrying oil fracked in North Dakota to Louisiana."
2017 Nov. 13 goodelectronics.org "Greenpeace ranks 17 leading consumer electronics companies based on sustainability"
"The guide scores 17 of the world's leading electronics companies based on their sustainability in 3 critical areas; reduction of emissions through renewable energy, use of recycled materials, and elimination of hazardous chemicals. Within each impact area, companies are graded on transparency, commitment, performance and advocacy efforts."
2017 Nov. 12 theguardian.com "American Apparel" brand bought by problematic Gildan Activewear.
"American Apparel" is now mostly made in Honduras, and the "ethical jobs" the American Apparel website touts do not seem ethical to the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) in Washington, DC. Employees complain about firings due to job-related health problems and "mandatory work shifts longer than the legal maximum limit, illegal dismissals of employees involved in unions - including the dismissal of a pregnant woman, as well as consistent harassment and verbal abuse targeted at employees."
2017 Nov. 2 capecodtoday.com 40 million Kidde fire extinguisheers recalled
These are "plastic-handled and push button fire extinguishers".
"The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says the units can become clogged and fail to spray. The nozzle may also fall off."
2017 Oct. 24 naacp.org NAACP says black travelers could be at risk from American Airlines discriminatory actions
"The NAACP for several months now has been monitoring a pattern of disturbing incidents reported by African-American passengers, specific to American Airlines. In light of these confrontations, we have today taken the action of issuing national advisory alerting travelers--especially African Americans--to exercise caution, in that booking and boarding flights on American Airlines could subject them disrespectful, discriminatory or unsafe conditions. This travel advisory is in effect beginning today, October 24, 2017, until further notice."
2017 October 23 npr.org "China Shuts Down Tens Of Thousands Of Factories In Unprecedented Pollution Crackdown"
"In the past year, China's Ministry of Environment has sent inspectors to 30 provinces, where they've reprimanded, fined, or charged officials in more than 80,000 factories with criminal offenses. Entire swaths of Eastern China have halted production, prompting some companies to move entire supply chains to countries like India and Bangladesh to meet their orders."
2017 Oct. 21 yesmagazine.org Native American women and European banks' divestment from big oilNative American woman activist: "I think that Europe is ready--because at this point the United States is not going to do this with the current administration. Europe is ready to lead the world, if they want to, in a green path and one that upholds Indigenous peoples' rights and human rights."
"Divestment is a way to obtain accountability and do it in a way that also invests in our future. When we take our money out of Wall Street, we put it into community banks, into green banks, into credit unions that fund growth in the community."
2017 Oct. 14 motherjones.com San Francisco sues big oil companies
"On September 19, San Francisco filed suit against five of the nation's largest oil companies demanding they pay for the updates the city needs to protect its residents against climate change. The suit, filed in San Francisco County Superior Court, argues that the corporations--Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell, and BP--promoted fossil fuels as 'environmentally responsible and essential to human well-being' amid multiple warnings that the planet was in danger."
2017 October 4 truth-out.org/buzzflash/commentary Food choices vs. income
Commenter compares supermarket offerings in a New York City neighborhood with $26,410 medium income and 2.4% white population with offerings in a supermarket of the same chain in a New York City neighborhood with $46,210 medium income and 21.6% white population. Choices in the latter were much more abundant and healthy. Choices in the former "institutionalized a general narrative about the inferiority of certain members of our population that persists in our society."
2017 Oct. 3 truth-out.org U.S. decision not to remove weapons containing toxic chemicals from ocean dump sites
Experts differ on whether it is better to leave the weapons in place or remove them. Information from a greater variety of sites is needed.
"...Harry Craig, a senior remedial project manager for the US Environmental Protection Agency, with 15 years expertise in underwater munitions under his belt,... explains that chemicals break down and react differently in different environments. Plus, steel corrodes at different rates depending on water depth, salinity and temperature, as well as shell thickness. Some sea-dumped munitions could continue leaking potentially deadly chemicals into the environment for over 100 years, according to some estimates."
"Beyond ocean dumping, experts point to a lack of action concerning munitions dumped in bodies of water -- ponds, lakes, rivers and estuaries -- within the continental US, from activities like shore-based gunnery practice, research activities and ship and aerial bombardment. A combination of high cleanup costs and lack of adequate oversight explain why the DoD has failed to remediate these sites, said Steve Pollack, an Illinois licensed attorney who co-authored the CDC report published earlier this year." TheGreat Lakes are one large example.
Leaking munitions have been known to harm fishermen and have the potential to harm surrounding environments. Some have been found in seafood. Mustard gas "remains in the deep-marine environment for decades after munitions disposal."
2017 Sept. 27 truth-out.org U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) vs. flame retardants
The CPSC responded to "a petition filed by two public interest groups, Earthjustice and the Consumer Federation of America," regarding the organohalogen class of flame retardants. Organophalogens are "found in the bodies of 97% of Americans says the Center for Disease Control."
"The CPSC directed the commission's staff to begin the rulemaking process to prohibit the sale of four categories of consumer products if they contain any organohalogen flame retardant."
"One of the [many] groups petitioning for the ban was the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Firefighter organizations argue that not only do organohalogen flame retardants not provide a fire safety benefit in products doused in them, but, in fact, such products emit more toxic gases when they do burn, threatening the health and safety of fire fighters and other first responders."
Dr. Arlene Blum of the Green Science Policy Institute said, "This historic ruling can prevent the common practice of banning a harmful chemical only to replace it with a similar chemical that causes similar health problems. It will set a precedent of regulating chemicals by class and can prevent harm from exposure to the entire chemical class."
2017 Sept. 15 rewire.news Housing Authority of Anderson, Indiana ordered to pay $70k to 7 residents
"The seven-page suit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice claimed that the housing authority did not make accommodations for disabled tenants, and that employees made unwelcome comments about female tenants' bodies and appearance."
2015 Sept. 15 truth-out.org Weak regulations of Florida nursing homes lead to patient deaths
Eight residents of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills died after an electrical failure following Hurricane Irma. A criminal investigation is ongoing. The nursing home says it contacted Florida Power and Light, which "refused to speed up its response to senior living facilities". Florida Power and Light says "the county never listed nursing homes as critical facilities in power outages." The county "said that they did that because Florida Power & Light guidelines don't have nursing homes as critical infrastructure facilities." Hmmm....
Stephen Hobbs, Sun Sentinel reporter, says "nursing homes aren't required to have a backup generator...."
Dale Ewart, vice president of a Service International union, suggests caregivers check Medicare.gov website Nursing Home Compare when trying to decide where to place loved ones.
For-profit nursing homes may be more interested in their bottom lines than the welfare of their patients.
2017 Sept. 15 districtsentinel.com Investigations of Equifax executive stock sales
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Department of Justice (DOJ), and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) are looking into possible violations of insider trading laws after exposure of Equifax's credit information on millions of consumers.
Equifax has blamed the exposure on a website problem, but others blame it on Equifax's failure to install security updates on time. Whatever the reason, "Equifax's Chief Financial Officer and two other top executives dumped $1.8 million in company stock shortly before the company claims it discovered the breach. The public wasn't notified until six weeks later."
Also under investigation is Equifax's requirement after the breach was made public that customers "agree to a forced-arbitration clause, preventing them from joining a class action suit against the company." After intense criticism, Equifax said the requirement did "not apply to 'the cyber security incident'".
2017 September 14 reuters.com Massive Equifax data breach
Equifax, one of the largest U.S. credit reporting bureaus, has said "that thieves may have stolen the personal information of 143 million Americans in one of the largest hacks ever."
The Consumer section of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website says "Here are the facts, according to Equifax. The breach lasted from mid-May through July. The hackers accessed people's names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers. They also stole credit card numbers for about 209,000 people and dispute documents with personal identifying information for about 182,000 people. And they grabbed personal information of people in the UK and Canada too."
The FTC site tells you how to find out whether your information was exposed and if so what to do about it. However, a reading of the comments from consumers suggests the process may be confusing, broken or flawed.
A lot of consumers were confused by a fake phishing site (since taken down), described by npr.org. The site "was set up by software engineer Nick Sweeting to educate people rather than steal their information" by showing how easy it was to impersonate the real site. People were even sent to the fake site by tweets on Equifax's own Twitter account. Sweeting said Equifax should have prevented this by being consistent about using their original domain name (equifax.com) instead of setting up a separate domain for people to check whether they had been hacked. The legitimate site is equifaxsecurity2017.com; the fake site was securityequifax2017.com.
2017 September 13 truth-out.org/opinion Former Exxon researcher Katherine Hayhoe says Exxon's own scientists found solid evidence for human-caused climate change at same time Exxon sowed doubt about it
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) website says "ExxonMobil has funneled nearly $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to a network of 43 advocacy organizations that seek to confuse the public on global warming science." Hayhoe says Exxon is not by any means alone in this practice. She raises the question for scientists: "Which is most important -- the benefit of the research and education, or the rejection of tainted funds?"
2017 September 8 CNBC "Wells Fargo fined $190M to settle fraud case
"Wells Fargo will pay $185 million in penalties and $5 million to customers that regulators say were pushed into fee-generating accounts that they never requested, officials said on Thursday."
"The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will receive $100 million of the total penalties ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â‚¬Â the largest fine ever levied by the agency...."
See Wikipedia for background on Wells Fargo financial practices and their effects on consumers and employees.
In a win for environmentalists, the NEB has added consideration of "the impact of pollution caused by the production and consumption of the oil to be shipped by an operator" to "pollution caused during pipeline construction and operations".
The proposed pipeline would transport tar sands oil. TransCanada is also behind the Keystone XL pipeline.
2017 September 3 environmentalhealthnews.org Menominee Tribe in Wisconsin fights wetlands permit for for gold, zinc and copper mine
The tribe wants federal, rather than weaker state rules to apply to the permitting process.
The location of the proposed mine borders the massive Menominee river system, which forms the border between Wisconsin and Michigan and supports large populations of fish. "Extracting metals from sulfide ores can produce highly toxic sulfuric acid." The acid can then drain into the water.
A wetland permit would still have to be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), but the EPA has traditionally rejected tribal concerns in favor of state authority.
2017 September 1 truthout-org Energy Transfer Partners sues Greenpeace and others
The lawsuit alleges eco-terrorism by Greenpeace and other environmental groups protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) (see DAPL background). Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, says the suit is an attempt to stifle free speech for nonviolent protesters.
Tara Hrouska, an Ojibwe who is national campaigns director for Honor the Earth, says the focus on Greenpeace is a way to avoid naming the principal protesters, who are Native American. She says the suit is paternalistic and misleading in that it alleges indigenous protesters are being led by environmentalist organizations which had a relatively minor role in the protests, rather than leading the protests themselves.
2017 August 30, 17 therealnews.com Amazon-Whole Foods merger
Consumers benefit in short term from lower Whole Foods prices, but consumer rights groups worry the move could enable Amazon to gain a monopoly on groceries. By aggressive price cutting Amazon could drive smaller stores that offer fresh and organic foods out of business, allowing it to raise prices in the long term. Amazon also brings a huge boost in advertising to Whole Foods because the owner of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, also owns the Washington Post.
Rights groups also worry consumers may have fewer choices about where and how their food is produced as Amazon shifts from local organic farmers to big industrial operations. Amazon has "a really opaque supply chain"...."We're concerned that when Amazon buys the reputation of Whole Foods, it will be able to sell what look like organic groceries, but might be counterfeits, basically, on their website, because they'll have the patina of the Whole Foods freshness on the website" says Patrick Woodal, Research Director and Senior Policy Advocate for Food & Water Watch.
A further concern is the rapidity with which the U.S. Federal Trade Commission approved the merger. Complications of the merger do not appear to have been considered. For example, price cuts with resulting cuts in compensation to small farmers may make it harder for small farmers to sell to Amazon Fresh Delivery.
2017 August 28 therealnews.com Harvard study shows Exxon Mobil has known for decades burning of fossil fuels causes climate change
Co-author of the Harvard study Naomi Oreskes says Exxon Mobil and others worked to sow doubt about climate change and against control of greenhouse gas emissions even while their own scientists were saying there was convincing evidence for human-caused climate change.
2017 August 23 capecodtimes.com Poland Spring sources of water: genuine spring water or fraudulent?
Poland Spring brand bottled water is manufactured in Maine, USA by a subsidiary of Nestle Waters. The source of the water is the subject of a lawsuit that claims "Not one drop of Poland Spring Water emanates from a water source that complies with the Food and Drug Administration definition of spring water...."
"According to the Food and Drug Administration, spring water must come from an underground source and flow naturally to the earth's surface. But spring water doesn't have to be literally collected at the spring - it can also be pumped out from a hole in the ground. A spokeswoman for Nestle Waters North America said its water meets all federal and state guidelines for spring water."
2017 August 22 ecowatch for buzzflash at truth-out.org Energy Transfer Partners 713-mile pipeline Rover Pipeline project
"Energy Transfer Partners' controversial $4.3 billion Rover pipeline has more negative inspection reports than any other major interstate natural gas pipeline built in the last two years, according to a new Bloomberg analysis."
Energy Transfer Partners is also the parent of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline being resisted by the Sioux Native American tribe of North Dakota as potentially interfering with its access to clean water and violating its rights as a sovereign nation.
2017 August 13 theintercept.com Environmental degradation in communities of color and low income
An Exxon Mobil refinery in the mostly African-American Charlton-Pollard section of Beaumont, Texas regularly releases toxic chemicals into the air that smell of rotten eggs and cause headaches and respiratory symptoms. Furthermore, "the refinery emits carcinogens, and several studies have shown an increased incidence of cancer in people living near these facilities." Residents complained to the EPA that because the neighborhood was mostly black, the excessive toxicity constituted a civil rights violation. They received a promise to investigate, but as happened with many other complainants, no investigation took place for years and no effective remedy was put in place.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights reported that the EPA does as little as possible to quiet suers and "never seems to reach any substantive decisions on whether a federal recipient has violated" the Civil Rights Act. Such neglect has persisted under several presidents. President Donald Trump has weakened environmental regulations, making pollution for communities like Charlton-Pollard likely to get even worse. At the same time, "Exxon Mobil is planning to expand its Beaumont operations yet again." Trump even boasts that his policies have enabled the growth of Exxon Mobil, which has gained 122% in earnings since his inauguration. Owners of property close to the Exxon Mobil refinery in Charlton-Pollard, however, have seen the their own property values decline severely due to pollution.
"Both African-Americans and Latinos are more likely than whites to live near the country's 149 refineries. One 2012 study from Yale looked at 14 toxins in air pollution and found that African-Americans had higher exposure levels than whites for 13 of those compounds, while Latinos had the highest levels of pollution overall."
Property owners in areas affected by Mountain Valley Pipeline in Virginia sue Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in eminent domain case.
"The property owners question how being forced to hand over their property to a private, for-profit company building an oil pipeline benefits the public interest."
They also say "the pipeline doesn't just impact property owners but also those living in affected watersheds and the blast zone of potential explosions." If they are successful, there could be new discussions affecting a broad range of eminent domain cases about what constitutes "public good" as a condition of eminent domain.
2017 July 23 Truthout/News Analysis Misleading blogs on Internet often are concealed advertising rather than reliable information sources
Ads that achieve top places in search engine results can be misleading, as can articles people stumble upon in social media when the article is designed to sell rather than inform. When such an article contains medical advice, it can be very dangerous. "Content marketing -- corporate advertising disguised as articles, videos and information -- is being systematically manufactured on an industrial scale."
Marketing content can be mingled with genuine information, making it hard to tell which is which. "Many freelance journalists, writers and other creatives are also being forced to turn to content writing to supplement their income."
2017 June 27 buzzflash at truth-out.org Coal India, world's largest coal company, closes 37 mines
Solar energy is quickly replacing coal in India as it becomes cheaper than coal.
The listing is the latest legal setback for the seeds and chemicals company, which has faced increasing litigation over glyphosate since the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer said that it is "probably carcinogenic" in a controversial ruling in 2015.
2017 June 20 environmentalhealthnews.org: Scientists warn on use of antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban
Animal studies have linked the chemicals to reproductive and development and allergy problems and "there is nascent evidence that the impacts may extend to humans as well". Widespread use in personal care and building products may have led to resistance of bactera to these and other antibiotic chemicals.<
2017 June 16: Dakota Access Pipeline and Standing Rock Sioux
Ecowatch, June 16: Energy Transfer Partners, the parent company of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, has a history of hazardous liquid spills.
apnews.com, 2017 June 15: Federal judge orders Army Corp of Engineers to redo parts of Dakota Access Pipeline study
"U.S. District Judge James Boasberg said in a 91-page decision that the corps failed to take into account how a spill might affect 'fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline's effects are likely to be highly controversial.'"
democracynow.org, 2017 June 16: Standing Rock Sioux Native American Indian tribe receives Henry Wallace Award to invest in wind and solar energy projects
The award brings a million dollars to invest in renewable energy projects
2017 June 15 environmentalhealthnews.org Cleaning compounds and birth defects
Mouse embryos in rooms where certain kinds of disinfectants "called quaternary ammonium compounds, or 'quats'," had been used had 15 times the number of neural tube defects as before the disintectants were used. Neural tube defects are defects of the brain and spinal cord, such as spina bifida and anencephaly (absence of parts of the brain and skull). The effects were observed even when only father mice, not mothers, were exposed, and lasted for months after use of the disinfectants had stopped.
2017 June 2 capecodtoday Starting wage at Hyannis Ma Chick-fil-A now $16 /hour.
Team leaders can earn up to $26/hour. In aaddition, "Chick-fil-A offers leadership training and management advancement opportunities as well as an aggressive scholarship program." Nice for the humans, but what about the chickens? Not so nice.
2017 May 10 truth-out.org/buzzflash U.S. Steel Chemical Spill
584 times the legal limit of hexavalent chromium, "made infamous by the environmental activist and 2000 movie of the same name, "Erin Brockovich", spilled into Burns Waterway and "forced the closure of several Lake Michigan beaches and Indiana American Water's intake in Ogden Dunes".
2017 May 10 democracynow.org headline Energy Transfer Partners fined for 18 oil spills
2017 May 7 truth-out.org Exxon Mobil accused of safety violations
The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) said this week that a California Exxon refinery explosion in 2015 could have been catastrophic. Chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland recommended steps to prevent a recurrence of the explosion but the CSB has "no authority to compel their adoption". Exxon says it has implemented all but two of the recommendations and has plans in place to address the other two, but the CSB says Exxon has ignored many of their requests for more information.
"Ms Golloher is being represented by the same New York-based lawyer working on behalf of 19 other claimants alleging gender and race discrimination at the right-wing news network over a period stretching back more than eight years."
Special Report: Chocolate
2013: How to make sure your chocolate purchases do not support child slavery.
Special Report: Torture
There is hope!Please see the post on a January 2012 anti-torture resolution by the city of Chicago, and how other municipalities can do the same. If you do not see it at first, refresh the page by clicking the refresh button on your browser bar or pressing the f5 key.
Special Report: Fair Trade
2013 update summarizes changes in standards and controversy over increasing availability of products with the certification by making it easier to get certified vs. maintaining more rigorous standards. Fair World Project offers suggestions for resolving the conflict by making product labels more transparent about percentage of ingredients that are certified.