This site provides information for consumers about how their spending habits affect human rights, animal rights and welfare, and the environment.
Responsibleconsumer.net wants to make sure wherever possible that all links posted on its site are safe. Beginning 2017 March 18 all links will be checked at the Google Transparency Report, whenever available, before being posted online
Older news has been moved to Archives and can be searched by category and by date within each category.
2008 June 28 npr.org "Nestle Offered Permit To Continue Taking Water From California Watershed"
Nestle bottled water company Arrowhead has been taking water from a spring in San Benardino, California without a permit review for 27 years, according to the newspaper Desert Sun.
2018 June 27 theintercept.com Reuters news vs. Thomson Reuters
"The reporters at Reuters have been providing crucial, unfliching coverage of the cruel treatment of would-be immigrants under policies pushed by President Donald Trump. Meanwhile, the news agency's parent company, Thomson Reuters, has been supplying U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement with data...."
"Last week, advocacy and watchdog group Privacy International wrote to Thomson Reuters CEO James Smith to "express concern" over contracts between ICE and two of the company's subsidiaries."
2018 June 22 theverge.com Some Amazon employees protest sale of certain software
The protesters say sales of facial recognition software to the U.S. government are used to violate human rights of refugees, immigrants, and black activists They also object to "the sale of AWS cloud services to Palantir (a data analytics firm that provides 'mission critical' software to ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement])."
2018 June 21 democracynow.org American Airlines and United Airlines "want no part of" flying separated immigrant children
Both companies stated transporting these children is completely contradictory to their values and have asked U.S. President Trump to stop doing it.
2018 June 21 tomshardware.com Intel CEO Krzanich resigns
Krzanich admitted he had a consensual relationahip with an Intel employee, against company policy. He also had been underscrutiny after selling all but the minimum of Intel shares " before the company notified the public or the industry of the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities."
2018 June 15 bbc.com Should plastic straws be banned?
Polution from sinngle-use plastic products such as straws and cotton buds (ear swabs) has become a major problem. Marine animals mistake micro=plastics for food, which fills them up and then causes them to starve. They "can take hundreds of years to decompose if not recycled." McDonald's is the latest of a number of companies to start banning them in selected restaurants.
There is a problem with banning plastic straws altogether: for people with certain disabilities, straws are the only way they can drink independently. Paper straws can become soggy and unwieldly, and other alternative materials are much more expensive.
2018 June 15 bbc.com Kaspersky Lab responds to European Parliament calling its software "malicious"
The computer security company has withdrawn "all collaboration with European cybercrime-fighting initiatives".
2018 June 14 theguardian.com Tesla employees dispute claims of CEO Elon Musk
Following reports of high injury rates at Tesla, Musk emailed his employees promises of going to great lengths to do the same work they do so he could understand how to help them. Some employees said those promises were not kept. Others said they felt good about seeing him on the production line. One said "'Anyone can do anything for an hour," Ortiz said. "You have to do it like we do it, 12 hours a day, six days a week... Live the life we live. That's where the wear and tear comes from.'"
The article cites several other instances of over-promising and painting overly rosy pictures of working conditions, such as lack of racial discriminiation and too-good-to-be-true injury rates. A government investigation is questioning whether Tesla reported all injuries. Many workers described pressure to meet unrealistic production quotas as the source of injuries and job stress that affected their private lives.
2018 June 14 capecodtimes.com Apple closing security hole
"Apple is closing a security gap that allowed outsiders to pry personal information from locked iPhones without a password, a change that will thwart law enforcement agencies that have been exploiting the vulnerability to collect evidence in criminal investigations."
2018 June 11 truthout.org Work on Bayou Bridge Pipeline damages home in Louisiana
Melinda Tillies says there were no problems when she bought he house a year ago. "Now the doors and window don't close right and there are a lot of cracks in the walls." A representative told her to get an estimate for repairs, which she did, but was then told "he wasn't authorized to cover that amount." She says the representative refused to give her the number of his boss.
"The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) [is] one of the federal agencies that regulates oil pipelines." It is supposed to provide information, but Tillies and others contacted who live near the pipeline had never even been informed about the agency. Regulations about informing neighbors do not take effect in time for homeowners to make decisions, and there is no government assistance for landowners to sue a pipeline operator.
2018 June 6 buzzflash.com: We can do it! It just takes will power.
A study provides a roadmap to reaching Paris climate agreement and UN Sustainable Development goals by modifications of our daily activities, using only existing technology.
2018 June 6 money.cnn.com: Possible Teamsters Union strike against UPS
Teamsters have voted to strike against United Parcel Service (UPS) if a new deal is not reached by the time their current contract expires on August 1. The union says UPS has made several proposals to expand from 6 to 7 days a week service. Not all of the Teamsters are in agreement with all of the proposals, raising the difficulty of achieving a new deal. With the rise in e-commerce, there has been a rise in the number of Teamsters, and a strike by them could have serious consequences for the U.S. economy.
2018 June 6 buzzflash.com Volkswagon stops animal testing
Following intense protests against testing of diesel fumes on monkeys, Volkswagon CEO Herbert Diess wrote to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals: "In the future, we will rule out all testing on animals, as long as there are no pressing--such as legal--reasons that would make this necessary."
2018 June 6 bbc.com Frozen Creative Gourmet pomegranate transmitted hepatitis A, causing one death.
"Fresh pomegranate and locally grown products were not affected, authorities said."
"Last year, the company was also forced to pull a selection of its frozen mixed berries products following another hepatitis A outbreak."
2018 June 5 theconversation.com "Only 1 in 4 women who have been sexually harassed tell their employers."
"...75 percent of those who do formally complain say they face retaliation." Other reasons include "concern that they won’t be believed or the company training manual didn’t explain how to properly identify or address sexual harassment." This results in a legal quagmire: an employer can't formally address a complaint that hasn't been filed,and it is hard to hold an employer responsible if he/she hasn't addressed a complaint that legally doesn't exist.
2018 June 4 marketwatch.com New York Post article reports "Former J.P. Morgan employee files racial discrimination suit against company"
Francis Abanga, an African-American former broker at J.P.Morgan Chase, alleges his supervisor tried to get him to move from an affluent branch to "a seemingly low-producing Harlem branch", saying he would fit best there because he was black.
2018 June 1 democracynow.org Purdue covered up addictive potential of OxyContin
DemocracyNow interview by Amy Goodman with New York Times reporter Barry Meier says the Times reported Purdue executives knew early on that Oxycontin was highly addictive and was being abused by consumers, but denied this in Congressional testimony. The Times also says Purdue used deceptive language to market the drug to doctors and patients.
2018 June 1 buzzfeed.com Tesla employee complaints.
Employees of electric car maker Tesla in April 2017 filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that Tesla underreported worker injuries on the job, such as severe electrical burns. Recently in response to a tweet from Tesla CEO Elon Musk, employees added a charge they had been threatened with a loss of stock options if they Opursued a drive to unionize.
The tweet from Musk referenced Tesla's health and safety record and employees' drive to unionize: "Nothing stopping Tesla team at our car plant from voting union. Could do so tmrw if they wanted. But why pay union dues & give up stock options for nothing? Our safety record is 2X better than when plant was UAW & everybody already gets healthcare."
2018 May 29 truth-out.org Drugmakers that have blocked generics
"As part of President Donald Trump's promise to curb high drug prices, the Food and Drug Administration posted a list of pharmaceutical companies that makers of generics allege refused to let them buy the drug samples needed to develop their products."
2018 May 27 huffingtonpost.com Chipotle workers sue for unpaid wages and right to class action
The workers said they were required to work before or after signing in. Chipotle argues that the workers had signed waivers to collective action upon accepting their jobs. The U.S. Supreme Court in Epic Systems v. Lewis ruled that "employers can require their workers to sign arbitration agreements giving up their right to sue in court as a group."
The Chipotle case will add to those of Epic Systems and Citizens United in deciding about the moral and legal principles that govern the power of large corporations vs. ordinary individuals.
Chipotle's director of compliance David Gottlieb "testified that workers agree to the arbitration agreement by checking an electronic box, rather than making an actual signature. He acknowledged that a worker could check the box without even opening the document."
Kent Williams, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told HuffPost that his clients didn't comprehend what they were agreeing to when they took their jobs with Chipotle."
"As labor unions have lost much of their influence in the U.S., class-action lawsuits have become one of the main ways workers can band together with a grievance and take on the boss."
2018 May 27 capecodtimes.com Hormel product recalls
Products recalled by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture "after four consumers complained about metal objects in the food" were SPAM Classic and Luncheon Load (shipped to Guam only). See the article for more details.
2018 Mayb 22 truthout.org Construction of multi-state Atlantic Coast Pipeline challenged
On May 15--in a suit brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC)--Dominion Resources of Virginia, the pipeline's operator, failed to secure a key permit because "a three-judge panel of the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals found that the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had failed to set clear limits for the pipeline's impact on threatened and endangered species."
Also on May 15, anti-pipeline activists filed a complaint alleging the pipeline violates civil rights of people of color due to "failure to properly assess the disproportionate impacts of the proposed pipeline on communities of color".
Complainants also want investigations into "possible fraud by the developers [of the pipeline]". They claim the developers knowingly provide misleading information about the ultimate destination of the pipeline's product, the risks of fracked oil, and risks of methane, a primary ingredient in natural gas.
Finally, the article notes "the pipeline developers are continuing to invest in creating a political climate friendly to their plans."
The law regulates use of personal data. If companies outside the European Union offer their services within the EU, they too must adhere to the GDPR.
"The meeting comes after POLITICO reported that agency leadership had worked to delay a controversial study on the chemicals that would have showed the substances posed health risks to humans at far lower concentrations that EPA has said. Releasing that study, one unnamed White House official said in emails obtained by POLITICO, would be a 'public relations nightmare.'"
Serious and sometimes fatal health effects have been linked to the chemicals involved. People most affected, such as firefighters, were not allowed into the meeting, according to "Erik Olson, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's health program".2018 May 20 bbc.com: Mexican charter company Damojh Airlines had record of safety problems
The plane that crashed in Cuba killing 110 people and leaving only 3 survivors in critical condition was rented by Damojh Airlines to Cuba's Cubana airline. Damojh had been the subject of previous complaints by pilots and flight personnel about an overloaded plane that "had briefly dropped off radar for unspecified reasons" and whose captain and co-pilot "were later suspended for "problems and serious lack of technical knowledge". Another pilot "complained about a lack of adequate maintenance of planes."
2018 May 18 democracynow.org: U.S. draft report on chemicals in Teflon and firefighting foam suppressed, Politico says.
The U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is saying previous levels of these chemicals in drinking water that were reported as safe should have been much lower.
A Freedom of Information Act request revealed a Trump administration aide warning the EPA's top financial officer, quote, "The public, media, and Congressional reaction to these numbers is going to be huge." The report has still not been published.
2018 May 7 bridgethegulfproject: Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana ruled illegal
"A judge has ruled that the coastal use permit issued for nearly 18 miles of Energy Transfer Partners' Bayou Bridge pipeline is illegal because the state did not require it to take into consideration impacts the project would have on St. James, a historic and predominately black community located at the tail end of the 163-mile project."
ETP plans to connect the Bayou Bridge project to the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (see Feb. 27 post on this page).
Multiple accusations and fines for damage or potential damage to communities from ETP's activities have been lodged by protesters and communities. "...ETP';s subsidiary, Sunoco Inc. was fined a record $12.6 million by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection...."
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 "Black men arrested in Starbucks settle for $1 each and $200,000 program for young people"
The arrests had sparked protests, first because they were seen as racial bias and then against Starbucks's response in choosing the Anti-Defamation League as leader of anti-bias training for its employees (see responsibleconsumer.net post of April 28).
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 April 13 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 6 modernghana.com/news Kuapa Kokoo District Manager Eric Fiifi Cudjoe
The accused is the husband of Kuapa Kokoo's President. According to a police source, he was suppposed to buy cocoa beans with the money, but filed numerous false reports about the beans.
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.
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.