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Exposing Ethical Hypocrites Everywhere!

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Strikes vs Royal Weddings

Posted by keith on 26th November 2011

There is going to be a strike in Britain on Wednesday. The UK Government are condemning it. This is starting to appear all over Facebook:

When the government decide we can have a day off for the royal wedding it doesn’t damage the economy, but when the workers decide to strike for a day it costs the UK economy half a billion….

Is there something funny going on?

Quite.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Ready the Fire Extinguishers: The Coca-Cola Olympic Torch is Coming!

Posted by keith on 10th November 2011

The Olympic torch relay does not have an auspicious history. The modern torch relay, as a symbol of local pride enmeshed in the Olympic ideal, was introduced in 1936 to herald the opening of the Berlin Olympics. It was nothing less than a propaganda exercise to show the world the superiority of Aryan athletes over the rest of the world:

It was planned with immense care by the Nazi leadership to project the image of the Third Reich as a modern, economically dynamic state with growing international influence.

The organiser of the 1936 Olympics, Carl Diem, wanted an event linking the modern Olympics to the ancient. The idea chimed perfectly with the Nazi belief that classical Greece was an Aryan forerunner of the modern German Reich, and the event blended perfectly the perversion of history with publicity for contemporary German power.

The first torch was lit in Greece with the help of mirrors made by the German company Zeiss. Steel-clad magnesium torches to carry the flame were specially produced by the Ruhr-based industrial giant Krupp.

Media coverage was masterminded by Nazi propaganda chief Josef Goebbels, using the latest techniques and technology. Dramatic regular radio coverage of the torch’s progress kept up the excitement, and Leni Riefenstahl filmed it to create powerful images.

Coca-Cola were there, a friend of Nazi Germany, as a major sponsor proud of its associations with the 1936 Berlin Olympics, and seemingly proud of it’s links with National Socialism and the Third Reich (Coca-Cola Gmbh remained producing throughout World War Two, and even invented a new drink – Fanta – when Coke syrup became unavailable). In 1925 the Coca-Cola Corporation, perhaps naively, produced a watch fob in the shape of a Swastika to represent “good luck”. It has since come to represent something far more sinister; as has the name of Coca-Cola.

The website “Killer Coke” has highlighted some of the abuses carried out by, or in the name of, Coca-Cola over the last few years. The 1936 shame of Coca-Cola’s association with the Nazi regime is no distant, shameful memory; it is kept alive and kicking by the corporation’s continued activities:

Colombia and Guatemala

According to “The Coke Machine,” by Michael Blanding, published in September 2010, “…the union members do look to the lawsuit and the Killer Coke Campaign as the reason they are still alive.”

Some find it unbelievable that human rights abuses — systematic intimidation, kidnapping, torture and murder — are occurring at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. But it’s not the first time Coke has committed such atrocities.

In a 1987 booklet, “Soft Drink, Hard Labour,” the Latin America Bureau in London said:

“For nine years the 450 workers at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City fought a battle for their jobs, their trade union and their lives. Three times they occupied the plant — on the last occasion for 13 months. Three General Secretaries of their union were murdered and five other workers killed. Four more were kidnapped and have disappeared. Against all the odds they survived, thanks to their own extraordinary courage and help from fellow trade unionists in Guatemala and around the world.

“A huge international campaign of protests and boycotts was central to their struggle. As a result, the Coca-Cola workers forced concessions from one of the world’s largest multinational food giants and kept the Guatemalan trade union movement alive through a dark age of government repression.”

The kind of violence directed against labor leaders at Coca-Cola bottling plant in Guatemala City in the ’70s and ’80s has been happening at Coke bottling plants in Colombia over the past couple of decades and unfortunately is being repeated again in Guatemala.

Turkey

In Turkey, in 2005, 105 workers at a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Istanbul joined a union and were terminated. They organized a lengthy sit-down strike in front of the main offices of Coca-Cola in Turkey. After several weeks of protesting, Coca-Cola workers entered the building to demand their reinstatement. While leaders of the workers were meeting with senior management for the company, the company ordered Turkish riot police to attack the workers who were by all accounts peacefully assembled, many with their spouses and children. Nearly two hundred of them were beaten badly and many required hospitalization. Lawsuits are pending.

El Salvador

In addition to abuse of workers, Coke has been involved in the exploitation of children by benefiting from hazardous child labor in sugar cane fields in El Salvador. This was first documented by Human Rights Watch in 2004 and in footage taken in 2007 for a nationally-televised British documentary and highlighted in Mark Thomas’s book “Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola,” published in 2009 in the U.S.

Representatives of the International Labor Organization interviewed company representatives at Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plants in 2008 to ascertain whether they exercised any control of suppliers of raw materials (such as sugar) to ensure that they did not use child labor. The manager at the Coke plant in Cali said that their suppliers should not use child labor, but added “that the enterprise [Coca-Cola] did not yet exercise oversight over this issue.”

India

Of the 200 countries where Coca-Cola is sold, India reportedly has the fastest-growing market, but the adverse environmental impacts of its operations there have subjected The Coca-Cola Co. and its local bottlers to a firestorm of criticism and protest. There has been a growing outcry against Coca-Cola’s production practices throughout India, which are draining out vast amounts of public groundwater and turning farming communities into virtual deserts. Suicide rates among Indian farmers whose livelihoods are being destroyed are growing at an alarming rate. Every day for years there has been some form of protest, from large demonstrations to small vigils, against Coca-Cola’s abuses in India.

One target of protest has been the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, Kerala, which has remained shut down since March 2004 as a result of the community-led campaign in Plachimada challenging Coca-Cola’s abuse of water resources.

The International Environmental Law Research Centre issued a report in 2007 that stated, in part, “The deterioration of groundwater in quality and quantity and the consequential public health problems and the destruction of the agricultural economy are the main problems identified in Plachimada. The activity of The Coca Cola Company has caused or contributed a great deal to these problems…The availability of good quality water for drinking purposes and agriculture has been affected dangerously due to the activity of the Company. Apart from that, the Company had also polluted the agricultural lands by depositing the hazardous wastes. All these points to the gross violation of the basic human rights, that is, the right to life, right to livelihood and the violation of the pollution control laws.”

It is not so much a case of Coca-Cola having hard questions to answer as people realising that this company stand in the unenviable position of being one of the most unethical corporations in history. In May 2012 the London Olympic Torch will begin its long route through the United Kingdom, raising publicity for the Olympics and giving an opportunity for thousands of people to share in the Olympic ideal. The London 2012 website states:

The Olympic Flame will come within 10 miles of 95% of people in the UK, Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey. It will enable local communities to shine a light on the best their area has to offer – including celebrations of local culture, breathtaking landscapes and dynamic urban areas.

The main sponsor of the Olympic torch is Coca-Cola. In 2011 the corporation ran a competition to select the young people who would bear the torch on its way around the country; in essence, if you wanted to bear the torch then you had to bare your soul to the Coca-Cola Corporation. The competition contained the following, stomach-churning propaganda, not a million miles away from the same propaganda that Joseph Goebells utilised so effectively in 1936:

The Olympic Flame is coming to the UK in 2012, and for the eighth time, Coca‑Cola will be a Presenting Partner of the Olympic Torch Relay. The route will stretch the entire length of the country, starting at Land’s End on May 19th 2012, and finishing in the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27th 2012. We’re using our involvement to shine a light on young people across the UK, and celebrate the great things they get up to every day.

Through our Future Flames campaign, we’ll be giving young people who are using their passions to inspire others the once-in-a-lifetime chance to carry the Olympic Torch next year.

Enough! It’s time we had another way of looking at the Olympics and opposing the way it and the torch relay has become a corporate party; a way that reflects the Olympic ideal, “to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play”.

So how about being a Future Rebel? Young people who agree with the Olympic ideal, but disagree vehemently with the corporate ties that the modern Olympics are so ravenously embracing. These corporate ties are so embedded that if you so much as bring a soft drink into an Olympic stadium that isn’t made by the Coca-Cola Corporation you will, at best, have it confiscated, and at worst be refused entry. Now I don’t really care whether I can take my choice of soft drink to an Olympic venue – I won’t be attending because of the sheer scale of commercialism. But I do care about the drowning of the ideas of friendship, solidarity and fair play in the tide of commerce. If you are in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man, then as the Olympic torch passes through your neighbourhood I would love a band of people to be there, at every corner, on every street, subvertising the sponsors with alternative images; telling the press, radio and television reporters how commercialism is destroying childhood, sport and life in general; and generally pouring water on the brands that have come to dominate every aspect of our lives.

Or, for that especially ironic touch, you could use something other than water.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Exposure, General Hypocrisy, Human Rights, Sabotage, Subvertising | 1 Comment »

Jordanian Cultural Heritage Enriched by Sustainable Star Trek Resort

Posted by keith on 25th October 2011

There is part of me wanting this to be a spoof, but most of me knows it’s real. I’m talking about the latest hair-brained scheme to tempt the mindless tourist into spending cash, in this case in the state of Jordan.

Hi Keith,

Building a sustainable, energy efficient luxury resort and theme park is an engineering challenge in and of itself: both are traditionally water- and energy-intensive. But in Jordan, where only 10 inches of rain fall per year and energy and water security is always tenuous, achieving as much self-sufficiency as possible is a necessity.

That’s why -as you may have heard-the $1.5 billion dollar Star Trek-themed Red Sea Astrarium in Jordan is being built with on-site renewable energy production facilities, integrated grey water and solid waste management systems, and numerous other cutting edge efficiency measures.

The reduction of the potable water use of the resort buildings alone will save 57.6 million gallons per year (as compared to business as usual). That’s enough water to serve the annual drinking needs of 303,000 people.

If you’re interested, I’d like to connect you with the engineers from Arup that developed the design, for a peek behind the curtain and a frank discussion about the nuts and bolts of the project.

Arup’s plans will:
- reduce water and energy usage by up to 20%,
- reduce resort cooling demand by up to 19%, and
- allow the Astrarium to produce 15 to 20% of its energy from on-site using renewables.

Any interest?

Best,
Courtney
chamilton@groupsjr.com

You can learn more about the Red Sea Astrarium here: http://www.arup.com/Projects/Red_Sea_Astrarium.aspx

Clearly Courtney is just a hired drone who takes no interest in her copy otherwise, in the name of all that is holy, she would have realised what an unwittingly hilarious piece of greenwashing PR bilge this is. You only need to try and digest the phrase “Building a sustainable, energy efficient luxury resort and theme park” to realise that. The obvious response is: “So why build the fucking thing in the first place?!”

But I am more polite than that:

This is a joke, yes? A “sustainable” luxury report and theme park that is completely superfluous and about as relevant to the Jordanian culture as building a copy of the Great Wall of China in New York – that’s hilarious. Well done.

Keith

No response, and how rude is that? There are three forces at work here – not in preventing a response, you understand, I’m not paranoid – in making such a concept possible in the first place:

1) A nation or corporation that promises to pay a nation, so desperate for money that they will stoop to such incredible depths to make a project like this happen. According to the Business Anti-Corruption Portal:

“Despite the absence of any significant natural resources, Jordan has succeeded in attracting foreign investments through economic reforms and has demonstrated solid economic growth rates, while the government has gradually been implementing policies to improve competition and to foster transparency. The need for such policies have gained strength under the circumstances that Jordan has witnessed and which are strongly related to the public uprisings that have swept the Arabic region since early 2011. Public dissatisfaction with government policies and the rule of law has mobilised the King and the government to initiate reforms to improve the political, economic and social climate of the country.”

Which obviously includes attracting as many tourists as possible regardless of the cultural, social and environmental implications of implementing a straight-down-the-middle capitalist attitude. The announcement of the project was made in May 2011:

Rubicon Group Holding (RGH), a diversified global entertainment organization producing innovative digital animated content and location-based attractions, will design and produce The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA), a 184-acre themed entertainment resort located in Aqaba, Jordan, which, through a license from CBS Consumer Products, will prominently feature an amazing attraction inspired by the 2009 international hit motion picture, Star Trek. The “Star Trek” attraction is being creatively developed by Paramount Recreation.

That announcement was made today by Randa S. Ayoubi, CEO of Rubicon Group Holding, at the Jordanian-American Business Forum, under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, in a special signing ceremony attended by business leaders from Jordan and the United States.

2) An engineering company determined to prove its “green” credentials, despite being a major provider of oil and gas infrastructure, aviation services, mining infrastructure and massive commercial developments. Arup are all this and far more; and as such gloss over their activities with a thick layer of greenwash, everywhere you look. The Astrarium is no exception:

The Red Sea Astrarium (Astrarium) represents an opportunity to demonstrate Jordan’s commitment to innovation and sustainable development. Resort developments, particularly those that target a global audience, increasingly reflect the global interest in sustainable development. The Astrarium will be at the forefront of sustainable resort development by implementing Arup’s infrastructure recommendations.

The Astrarium is a planned 184 acre entertainment resort and virtual reality theme park showcasing the rich cultural history and future of Jordan and the Middle East. Situated on a soaring plateau close to the Port City of Aqaba, the park includes four hotels, an entertainment district, a man-made saltwater lagoon, and two waterfront areas, one anchored by a ‘Star Trek’ themed attraction.

Brought in to provide infrastructure planning and design of the development’s energy, water, wastewater, solid waste, mobility and logistical management systems, the Astrarium presented a number of challenges to the Arup team. Located 200 metres above sea level in the mountains bordering the Red Sea, the site has no natural source of potable water thanks to the region’s arid climate while the development itself will have a substantial energy demand due to the array of attractions and amenities.

Words and thoughts consistently fail me with every sentence of this remarkable piece of rhetorical bullshit. One thing it does wrap up nicely is that there is NO SUCH THING AS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT.

3) A PR company so willing to bend over and take whatever any corporation cares to shove in their direction that they will deliver, en masse, complete lies in order to make a fast buck.

Anyone wishing to undermine any of these three forces has my complete blessing; if you have any success let me know, I would love to see this all come toppling down.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Government Policies, Political Hypocrisy, Promotions, Techno Fixes | 2 Comments »

Greenloons: Ecotourism is the New Blindfold

Posted by keith on 13th September 2011

Now that the Unsuitablog is taking a more occasional view of ethical hypocrisy (short for, “I really don’t have the time for all this!”) it takes a very special email or advert to make it to the blog. Most of them end up in my junk folder, but some of them sneak into my inbox, which usually means I haven’t heard from the agency or company in question before. So imagine my delight when something from Greenloons popped up the other day, and made me angry all over, just like the early days when I wasn’t so innured from hypocrisy. It deserves to be published in its entirety:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eco Trailblazer Greenloons Guides Families to International Rainforests with Emphasis on Educational / Sustainable Vacations

Top Five Recommendations Span Globe for Certified Green Eco Adventures

Vienna, VA, Sept. 7 – Eco trailblazer Greenloons http://www.greenloons.com/ guides families to international rainforests that are inclusive of sustainable vacation opportunities. Its top five recommendations spanning the globe offer green eco adventures that are certified by leading third party sources.

Irene Lane, Greenloons founder, believes it’s never to early to introduce children to the “lungs of the planet”, the world’s rainforests covering less than two percent of the earth’s total surface area but are home to 50 percent of its plants and animals.

“Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year, it’s crucial for kids to learn about how important these environments are to their everyday lives,” Lane said. “Through extensive research, we are able to offer unique family travel experiences where young and old can connect at a deeper level in a sustainable manner with the places they are visiting.”

Greenloons top rainforest destinations for families include Costa Rica, Peru, Madagascar, Borneo and Australia.

Costa Rica – Rainforest Adventure focuses on Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula that protects such endangered species (showcased by a local guide) as jaguar, puma, crocodile, tapir, poison dart frog, scarlet macaw and harpy eagle. Local beaches are major nesting sites for several varieties of sea turtles. Roundtrip ground transfers are by private taxi from Puerto Jimenez served by daily flights from Costa Rica’s Tobias Bolaños International airport in San Jose. Packages are 5 days/4 nights starting at $690 per person with year-round open scheduling.

Peru – Exploring the Amazon Rainforest showcases the world’s largest tropical rainforest with the world’s second longest river, the Amazon. A motorized canoe down the Peruvian Amazon in the Tambopata National Reserve can reveal, among other wildlife, giant otters. The Tambopata Research Center has exclusive access to untouched Amazonian forests; a local naturalist introduces ongoing projects that include visiting the world’s largest macaw clay lick. Five day/4 night trips for $999 per person depart year-round with flexible, open scheduling.

Madagascar
– Madagascar Experience encompasses an eco-system so isolated and unusual that scientists call it “the eighth continent.” The rainforests of the Atsinanana encompass six national parks that protect the large Indri lemur, tenrec, fanaloka and aye-aye. The ancient town of Antsirable transitions guests around volcanic lakes from upland rainforests to the semi-arid landscape of Isalo. The 10 day/9 night packages start at $1599 with monthly scheduled departures year-round.

Borneo – Borneo Family Adventure includes village home stays at Kinabatangan Jungle Camp and rainforest camping in tropical Sabah, part of the rainforests of Asia stretching from India and Burma in the west to Malaysia and the islands of Java and Borneo in the east. In addition to spotting macaques, proboscis monkeys, crocodiles and perhaps wild orangutans, guests visit Labuk Bay Proboscis Monkey Sanctuary and meet orphaned orangutans. Elevenday/10 night trips start at $1375 for adults with departures in January, April, July, August, October and December.

Australia – Fraser Island & Reef Experience opens up the underwater world of the Great Barrier Reef and Fraser Island World Heritage Site, the only place in the world where along Yidney Rainforest trails and growing on sand dunes at high elevations are towering pines, rainforest trees with giant girths, rare and ancient giant ferns, eucalypt forests, lemon-scented swamp vegetation and dwarfed heathland shrubs covered in a profusion of flowers. On the water side in addition to snorkeling guests may see shipwrecks, sharks, dolphins and manta rays at Indian Head. Six day/5 night trips are offered year-round. Call Greenloons for pricing (703.752.6270).

About Greenloons:

Greenloons (http://www.greenloons.com/) guides families to travel experiences managed by certified third-party suppliers engaged in eco- and sustainable tourism. Lane founded Greenloons in 2010 for the global community of nature enthusiasts and wildlife conservationists interested in accessing detailed and reliable information about responsible, sustainable and certified ecotourism travel vacations both in the US and abroad.

Greenloons is a first-of-its-kind online resource aimed at answering the growing need for accredited eco-tours and sustainable holiday travel in the tourism industry. Greenloons.com provides ecotourism education, news, comparable certified ecotour and volunteer conservation program listings, tour reviews and booking services, plus a forum for the community to share its personal vacation stories and tips for establishing ecotourism in any corner of the world.

# # #

For photos and/or more information on how Greenloons is making a difference please contact:

Sara Widness / 802-234-6704 / sara@widnesspr.com
Dave Wiggins / 303-554-8821 / dave@travelnewssource.com
Website and Portfolio of Past Releases: http://www.travelnewssource.com/
Follow Widness & Wiggins PR on Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/BoulderDave

Greenloons Company Contact:
Irene Lane / 703.752.6270 / irene@greenloons.com / http://www.greenloons.com/

Now, forgive me if I’m being stupid, but I had a lovely trip to the isle of Skye recently, which consisted of a 1 hour bus journey followed by about 7 hours on a couple of trains and a 30 minute ferry. I walked to the camp site. The environment in which I was camping, with a few others, and learning some useful bushcraft skills to boot, was beautiful. The journey was equally stunning. The total distance travelled: about 250 miles, which I thought was about far enough. Recently I wrote an article on The Earth Blog called, “Finding My Limit” which emphasised the importance of searching out and making the most of that which is close to you.

Such inconsequential places, and such seemingly trivial reasons to go there. Just a few words, a bite to eat, a passing smile, a friendship reignited, a love on fire. We ignore these local places because the civilized world insists that our boundaries are distant, we can achieve anything, we have no limits. The Diaspora of our mechanised, electrical, money-soaked commercial excesses has, indeed, reached round so far it hits itself on the back, and screeches past to take another lap of the little blue-green dot we live on. In universal terms Earth is a dot. In human terms it is all we can ever intimately know as a species, and as I look out of my window I can see – what? – a few hundred metres; a couple of miles if I get up high.

Why go further when what really make our days go round are those apparently inconsequential dealings with the things that are so close to us? Yet we choose to ignore them because there is a bigger world out there. I refuse to accept that and choose the places I can walk to, run through and, if I really want to open my mind up, cycle there and back. That is my limit; all I can really know, and love, and nurture.

Ecotourism is a contradiction. “Tourism” is about travel for travel’s sake – the culturally imposed “need” to explore at leisure simply because something is there. “Eco” implies ecology and the tight network within which all life is entwined. The two simply cannot go together, except in the minds of a capitalist, bent on making us believe you can have it all.

Let’s look at the quotation from Irene Lane again:

“Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year, it’s crucial for kids to learn about how important these environments are to their everyday lives,” Lane said. “Through extensive research, we are able to offer unique family travel experiences where young and old can connect at a deeper level in a sustainable manner with the places they are visiting.”

The mass of contradictions in this statement is mind-boggling. Irene is talking about places thousands of miles away, yet she talks about the need to “connect…in a sustainable manner”. Is she implying that we can only make deep connections with places that are in exotic locations – for that is what the sales pitch seems to be implying? And does she really expect us to believe that a composting toilet and a faux-native tour justify the burning of hundreds of gallons of aviation fuel and diesel. And what about the “Because rainforests are disappearing at a rate of more than 56,000 square miles each year”? This sounds like a “see it before it’s gone” appeal.

Am I being too cynical?

Well, let’s look at a quotation from their website to check my cynicism out:

“We know that it is impossible to have a 100% carbon-offset vacation – we are humans after all!”

This is in the context of explaining how carbon offsets are used to make the travel distances no problem at all, apart from the few percent left over because “we are humans after all!” Sorry? No one forced you to travel those thousands of miles across oceans and continents. No one but civilized humans would do that. And that’s the real kicker: Irene Lane is conflating the destructive habits of civilized humanity to the whole of the human race. We do not push crap into the atmosphere because we are human; we push crap into the atmosphere because we are civilized humans, brainwashed by people like Irene Lane into thinking that it’s ok to go to Borneo, Madagascar, Australia and even Antarctica for our “eco” vacations.

The saddest irony of all is loons, an order of birds chosen to represent a migratory person that lives lightly on the land, require a pristine, food-rich marine environment to survive. The same environments that the Deepwater Horizon oil leak devastated in July 2011, and the Exxon Valdez crash coated in a thick blanket of oil in March 1989. Now what was that oil being drilled for and transported I wonder?

Posted in Adverts, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Offsetting | 3 Comments »

The Consumer Culture Will Never Be Convicted

Posted by keith on 17th August 2011

Green Acres Mall Walmart Stampede

November 28, 2008: As the recession really started to bite in the Western world, something was stirring in the minds of people across the USA. Black Friday, that time of year when, traditionally, retail businesses move from being in the “red” to being in the “black”, had taken on a Pavlovian significance. Pre-programmed individuals, now operating as a herd, took to the streets in the early hours to elbow their way to the doors of big-box stores in every city. At the Green Acres Mall – whoever thought up that name deserves an award for creative expression – just outside New York City, the Walmart store was under siege; a siege of the company’s own making. Approaching 5am and the fuse had been lit by a notice taped to the front door, implying that shopping was now on a war footing: “Blitz Line Starts Here” it read. The New York Times takes up the story:

By 4:55, with no police officers in sight, the crowd of more than 2,000 had become a rabble, and could be held back no longer. Fists banged and shoulders pressed on the sliding-glass double doors, which bowed in with the weight of the assault. Six to 10 workers inside tried to push back, but it was hopeless.

Suddenly, witnesses and the police said, the doors shattered, and the shrieking mob surged through in a blind rush for holiday bargains. One worker, Jdimytai Damour, 34, was thrown back onto the black linoleum tiles and trampled in the stampede that streamed over and around him. Others who had stood alongside Mr. Damour trying to hold the doors were also hurled back and run over, witnesses said.

Some workers who saw what was happening fought their way through the surge to get to Mr. Damour, but he had been fatally injured, the police said. Emergency workers tried to revive Mr. Damour, a temporary worker hired for the holiday season, at the scene, but he was pronounced dead an hour later at Franklin Hospital Medical Center in Valley Stream.

Four other people, including a 28-year-old woman who was described as eight months pregnant, were treated at the hospital for minor injuries.

Detective Lt. Michael Fleming, who is in charge of the investigation for the Nassau police, said the store lacked adequate security. He called the scene “utter chaos” and said the “crowd was out of control.” As for those who had run over the victim, criminal charges were possible, the lieutenant said. “I’ve heard other people call this an accident, but it is not,” he said. “Certainly it was a foreseeable act.”

As I write, over one thousand people have been arrested in England for various offences related to the events, described as “riots” by the mainstream media, that took place between 6 and 10 August, 2011. Two men have been sentenced to four years imprisonment for “incitement to rioting” on Facebook. On first sight this might seem like a reasonable sentence, given that 5 people, to date, were killed at least in the vicinity of the events, if not directly as a result of them. But take a look at the outcome of the “incitement” carried out by these two men:

Jordan Blackshaw, 20, set up an “event” called Smash Down in Northwich Town for the night of 8 August on the social networking site but no one apart from the police, who were monitoring the page, turned up at the pre-arranged meeting point outside a McDonalds restaurant. Blackshaw was promptly arrested.

Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan, 22, of Latchford, Warrington, used his Facebook account in the early hours of 9 August to design a web page entitled The Warrington Riots. The court was told it caused a wave of panic in the town. When he woke up the following morning with a hangover, he removed the page and apologised, saying it had been a joke. His message was distributed to 400 Facebook contacts, but no rioting broke out as a result.

Six months after the trampling to death of Jdimytai Damour – a death that was directly attributable to the shopping frenzy whipped up by Walmart’s Black Friday campaigning and the consumer culture that Walmart are an integral part of – the company were fined $7000 for “inadequate crowd management”. No mention was made of the nature of the event that led to the death of Jdimytai Damour in the formal letter sent by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to the CEO of Walmart and other major retailers, such as JC Penney and Target. Although Walmart fought the original citation, they needn’t have bothered because the consumer culture – the lifeblood of mass retail activity – got away scot-free.

The true cause of the Walmart death did not pass Peter S. Goodman by, though. In a New York Times article published the day after the stampede, he stated: “For decades, Americans have been effectively programmed to shop. China, Japan and other foreign powers have provided the wherewithal to purchase their goods by buying staggering quantities of American debt. Financial institutions have scattered credit card offers as if they were takeout menus and turned our houses into A.T.M.’s. Hollywood and Madison Avenue have excelled at persuading us that the holiday season is a time to spend lavishly or risk being found insufficiently appreciative of our loved ones.”

Fast forward to August 2011, and in a scathing indictment of the culture within which the English unrest took place, the comedian and broadcaster Russell Brand writes: “Amidst the bleakness of this social landscape, squinting all the while in the glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity. That daily, hourly, incessantly enforces the egregious, deceitful message that you are what you wear, what you drive, what you watch and what you watch it on, in livid, neon pixels. The only light in their lives comes from these luminous corporate messages. No wonder they have their fucking hoods up.” Russell Brand seems to be one of the few lights in the corporate and politically generated swill masquerading as journalism.

So we look again at the four year sentences handed down to Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan for “incitement” to riots that never occured, and wonder why, if the real cause of looting and the violence that often surrounds such incidents is the simple desire to attain the consumer goods that we are implored to seek out, the huge corporations that make money from our desires never have the finger pointed at their activities. And we have to conclude that without the consumer culture there would be no economic growth, and without economic growth there would be no more industrial civilization. That is a price that no politician, CEO, media-mogul or investment banker ever wants to pay.

And that is why the consumer culture will never be convicted.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Media Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy | 2 Comments »

Lush’s Dirty Laundry [by Cory Morningstar]

Posted by keith on 23rd June 2011

In an unlikely alliance, Lush Cosmetics joins the Indigenous Environmental Network against the Canadian tar sands. The Lush campaign targets the tar sands, yet the CEO of Lush fails to target his own family’s dynasty built on the continued exploration of oil, gas and mining.

Today, the environmental movement has become inundated with front-groups, financed by dirty industries. These front groups often fall under the guise of foundations. Unfortunately, not even the best of the long-standing environmental groups are above becoming ensnared in such webs of deception as corporations, governments and, in this case, the global Lush brand. Such entities seek to become celebrated as “green” in a system that cannot be changed by the illusion of “green” growth. This system is destined to ultimately collapse – or kill us – whatever comes first. And this is where we are today.

The CEO of Lush, Mark Wolverton, belongs to the Wolverton family – of Canadian Wolverton Securities. The president and CEO of Wolverton Securities is Brent Wolverton, Mark’s brother. Wolverton Securities was founded in the early 1900s and continues to thrive today with an annual revenue of $20,735,400.

From the Wolverton website:

“Taking advantage of our expertise. Western Canada may well be the venture capital centre of the world, especially when it comes to mining and oil and gas exploration. Wolverton is a primary player in that market for this simple reason: If you look at mining operations in Siberia, South Africa or the jungles of South America, Canadians are running and financing the operations.”

Time Magazine article 2003: “Lush first made its way to North America thanks to brokerage scion Mark Wolverton of Canada’s Wolverton Securities.”

Wolverton has controlled Lush’s North American operations since 1996 – 50% in Canada and 40% in the US. According to the Retail Merchandisers, Strategy for Growth Website, approximately $90 million of the company’s global annual sales of $350 million come from its North American operations, comprising manufacturing facilities and distribution via storefronts, malls, airports, and a store-within-a-store concept in which Lush has a 300- to 500-square-foot store in the cosmetic department at 38 Macy stores. (The New Zealand Herald cites Lush sales at 595 million in 2009).

As found on the web:

“On the research side, Blackmont hired Gord Currie away from Wolverton Securities. The oil and gas analyst has 29 years of experience in the sector, including executive stints in the industry at NAL Oil and Gas Trust and Easton Drilling Fund.”

Ironically, Wolverton Securities Ltd’s Calgary office is actually situated in the Royal Bank Building. Royal Bank Canada is one of the world’s largest financier of the tar sands.

Mile long list of corporations affiliated with Wolverton Securities Ltd: http://infoventure.tsx.com/TSXVenture/TSXVentureHttpController?GetPage=CompanySummary&PO_ID=44829&HC_FLAG1=on&HC_FLAG2=on

The reason Lush CEO Mark Wolverton would support such a hypocritical campaign is nothing new. It’s fantastic branding. It makes people feel good when they buy a bar of soap. It raises awareness – without threatening the industry (or his family’s fortune) in any meaningful way. It builds brand loyalty. And I will be the first one to say – Lush executes such branding/marketing brilliantly.

Read the full story, including a host of bad news for Lush fans over here

Posted in Campaigns, Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »

Dispatches: Conservation’s Dirty Secrets

Posted by keith on 21st June 2011

JUST-WATCH-THIS…

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/4od#3201652

Dispatches reporter Oliver Steeds travels the globe to investigate the conservation movement and its major organisations. Steeds finds that the movement, far from stemming the tide of extinction that’s engulfing the planet, has got some of its conservation priorities wrong.

The film examines the way the big conservation charities are run. It questions why some work with polluting big businesses to raise money and are alienating the very people they would need to stem the loss of species from earth.

Conservation is massively important but few dare to question the movement. Some critics argue that it is in part getting it wrong, and that, as a consequence, some of the flora and fauna it seeks to save are facing oblivion.

Long term it can also be viewed on YouTube via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SUwYZSwSLY0

More information about Conservation International’s activities can be found at http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/877241/conservation_international_agreed_to_greenwash_arms_company.html

More information about WWF’s capitalist addiction can be found at http://www.worldwildlife.org/what/partners/corporate/index.html. You can make your own mind up about the motivation of the various businesses.

Posted in Corporate Hypocrisy, Cover Ups, Exposure, Funding, Human Rights, NGO Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 2 Comments »

Scholastic U-Turn On Coal: Shame About Their Other Partners

Posted by keith on 17th May 2011

Well, that didn’t last long. From the first outrage to a “Move along, nothing to see here!” clean up of the website, Scholastic seem to have recovered relatively easily from what they claim was just a mistake. When Scholastic published a set of four worksheets and a printable map (see here for a cache image) that had been produced by the American Coal Institute, the group Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood went into overdrive. May 11, 2011 saw the first offensive which had snowballed into a well-orchestrated furore the next day, followed a couple of days later by an apparently complete reversal of publishing policy by the much-loved American publisher of schoolbooks and materials.

Here’s how it played out in the New York Times:

Coal Curriculum Called Unfit for 4th Graders
Published: May 11, 2011

Three advocacy groups have started a letter-writing campaign asking Scholastic Inc. to stop distributing the fourth-grade curriculum materials that the American Coal Foundation paid the company to develop.

The three groups — Rethinking Schools, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and Friends of the Earth — say that Scholastic’s “United States of Energy” package gives children a one-sided view of coal, failing to mention its negative effects on the environment and human health.

Kyle Good, Scholastic’s vice president for corporate communications, was traveling for much of Wednesday and said she could not comment until she had all the “United States of Energy” materials in hand.

Others at the company said Ms. Good was the only one who could discuss the matter. The company would not comment on how much it was paid for its partnership with the coal foundation.

Scholastic’s Big Coal Mistake
Published: May 12, 2011

Children’s books and other educational materials produced by the publisher Scholastic reach about 90 percent of the nation’s classrooms. With this enormous access to what amounts to a captive audience of children, the company has a special obligation to adhere to high educational standards.

It fell short of that when it produced a fourth-grade lesson packet called “The United States of Energy,” a treatise on coal that was paid for by the American Coal Foundation, a nonprofit group. As Tamar Lewin noted in The Times on Thursday, the lessons talked about the benefits of coal and the pervasiveness of power plants fueled by it — and omitted mention of minor things like toxic waste, mountain-top removal and greenhouse gases.

The issue came to light recently when children’s advocacy groups hammered Scholastic for giving a one-sided view of coal usage. This is not the first time that the company had come under fire. Last year, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood attacked Scholastic for encouraging schools to have classroom parties with, and to collect labels from, the sugary juice drink SunnyD as a way of winning free books.

(We’ll come to that last point later)

Letters: This Lesson Plan Is Brought to You by…
Published: May 16, 2011

“Scholastic’s Big Coal Mistake” (editorial, May 13) acknowledges that Scholastic’s children’s books, magazines, reading programs and Web site content are used in most American classrooms — a responsibility and trust that we have built through painstaking work through 90 years of service to teachers and schools.

A tiny percentage of this material is produced with sponsors, including government agencies, nonprofit associations and some corporations.

Your editorial criticizes a lesson packet called “The United States of Energy,” about different sources of energy — coal, nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind and natural gas — primarily for its sponsorship by the American Coal Foundation.

We acknowledge that the mere fact of sponsorship may call into question the authenticity of the information, and therefore conclude that we were not vigilant enough as to the effect of sponsorship in this instance. We have no plans to further distribute this particular program.

Because we have always been guided by our belief that we can do better, we are undertaking a thorough review of our policy and editorial procedures on sponsored content to ensure that we publish only those materials that are worthy of our reputation as “the most trusted name in learning.”

RICHARD ROBINSON
Chairman, President and C.E.O.
Scholastic Inc.
New York, May 13, 2011

It is now all but impossible to find any evidence that the worksheets and map were ever on the Scholastic web site unless you search various web caches. Of course the American Coal Foundation still proudly peddle their filth because that’s what business does. There is no sense in suggesting that the coal industry stop producing these materials as the commercial model that they and all corporations work by is the need to continually generate profit for shareholders; if they don’t grow then they fail, therefore any way of getting in the minds of vulnerable individuals (including you and me) is fair game for a corporation.

Scholastic is a corporation – it may produce what it likes to call “educational” materials (a.k.a. whatever is approved by the industrial capitalist system) but it still needs to make money, so willingly takes any handouts it can from other corporations. There isn’t a lot of money in “educational” publishing, the margins are simply too low, so sponsorship is the way to go for any good corporation. As CCFC point out:

For years, Scholastic has exploited its reputation as an educational publisher to serve as a Trojan horse for all sorts of inappropriate marketing in schools—from the highly commercialized content of its Book Clubs, to marketing the over-the-counter drug Claritin in elementary schools, to urging teachers to throw parties for the sugar-laden beverage SunnyD in their classrooms. Scholastic’s InSchool Marketing division offers its services as curriculum producer for hire. The program is designed “to promote client objectives” and “make a difference by influencing attitudes and behaviors.”

So this apparent U-turn and clean-up of the web site is really just a way of saving face because a lot of potential customers really do want less commercial influence in schools, enough customers to offset the losses caused by refunding the American Coal Foundation.

Not to worry, though, because there are plenty of other sponsorship opportunities available that might seem a little more acceptable to the school system. I had a look through the Science section on the Scholastic web site and, as they say, there are few overt commercial connections: I found the Lexus Environmental Challenge and the extremely blatant Count on Wet Ones Wipes (that’s for the indoctrination of tiny people). But what was more interesting was the number of resources that clearly had an extreme bias towards industry and the culture of imperialism:

What Is Technology, and How Does It Benefit Us? is such an obviously loaded title that you don’t have to read the contents to realise that technology is bound to be seen as a Great Thing. But read I did, and found this little gem (my emphasis):

Explain to students that although technology presents many benefits to humanity, there may also be by-products or issues that arise through the process of manufacturing and the development of technology. Engage students in a discussion of these benefits, as well as the by-products or issues and how these issues are being or might be addressed. If your students don’t include environmental challenges in their discussion, suggest the responsibility everyone has in controlling waste, and that recycling represents our effort to achieve that. Examples of how technology can enhance society might include: battery technology, solar power, satellites, text messaging, MP3s, gaming, plasma TVs, air and water testing, improved product designs.

Nice bit of accentuate the positive going on there.

The Culture of The Inca does a remarkable job in ignoring virtually anything to do with the culture of the Inca, including their brutal massacre by Spanish conquistadores, favouring instead to focus on llamas!

The empire of the Inca existed for many centuries in Peru. Today the descendants of these people continue many aspects of the culture, including traditional language, stories, folk songs, dance, and farming practices.

The descendants of the Inca still live in Peru. Visit them, listen to their songs, read their jokes, and try out a bit of their language at http://www.andes.org/.

[various instructions]

Did you notice llamas in the pictures you looked at? The llama was the most important animal to the Inca, and is still important today. To find out why, go to http://www.llamapaedia.com/origin/domestic.html. List at least three ways the Incas used llamas.

Extension Activity:

Llamas are also popular in the United States. You can find out much more about llamas at http://www.llamapaedia.com/index.html. Work with your classmates to research and report on different aspects of llama care, llama behavior, and how llamas are used today.

And just as I was going to wrap up the examples, I found a perfect example of state-sponsored brainwashing in the form of Save the Flag: Find out how to keep yours in shape for summer’s patriotic holidays. Are you ready?

What you need:

one 12″ x 12″ sample of each of the following: red felt, white felt, blue felt, 100% cotton white fabric
scissors
bowl of hot water
sandpaper
dirt
sunny window

What to do:

1. Discuss famous flags from U.S. history with your child — the Betsy Ross flag and the flag that inspired the national anthem, among others...

…at which point I could safely assume that Scholastic probably isn’t the best place to get information about the slaughter of Native American peoples either. Nope, thought not.

Posted in Company Policies, Corporate Hypocrisy, Media Hypocrisy, Sponsorship | 5 Comments »

Switch Your Lights ON for Earth Hour!

Posted by keith on 24th March 2011

Earth Hour Sucks tower block

Once upon a time there was just greenwash: corporations and governments went to great lengths to convince a concerned public that they were doing everything they could to help the natural environment return to its former glory. All the time they were filling their bank accounts and pumping up their career prospects. You could be green and profitable and no one would suspect the former was nothing but a lie.

Then the non-profits got involved and things started to become complicated. Partnerships were drawn up between the biggest “environmental” NGOs and the most destructive corporations on Earth, all for a tiny sliver of the corporate pie, and a large wad of environmental fuzziness. The corporations looked good; the NGOs got their funding; the planet continued to fry and die.

And then it went even further. Greenwash became partnership became parody as the NGOs fully embraced both the corporate world and the trivial activities they put forward as symbols of their committment to a better world. And a better world it would be: if all you cared about was making money, that is.

Earth Hour 2011 is nearly upon us, and it stands as the ultimate parody of this great coming together of all that is evil in the world of greenwashing. I don’t use the term “evil” lightly. A person cannot be evil; an action can. Earth Hour is evil because it not only allows corporations, politicians, urban sprawls and industrial monoliths to look good in the eyes of a naive public, it actively attacks genuine attempts to try and undermine the very things that feed off Earth Day. An ordinary person in the thrall of industrial civilization cannot fail to be impressed by the sight of a thousand buildings simultaneously switching off their lights in the name of planet Earth; how can something as mundane as building non-dependent communities compete with such glamour.

How can supergluing the valves on the Las Vegas fountains compete with the casinos on the strip switching off their lights for an hour?

How can setting up a community barter scheme compete with Canary Wharf in London switching off its lights for an hour?

How can creating food self-sufficiency compete with Sears in Canada switching off or dimming its lights for an hour?

How can groups of people finding that time spent embracing their local environment rather than jetting across the world compete with Skycity in New Zealand switching off its lights for an hour?

Well, exactly. It’s bullshit, all of it!

And that is why, for Earth Hour 2011, at 8.30pm on Saturday 26th March, if you are doing nothing more important then switch all your lights on. Every single one.

You might have to fight with that part of you that says, “This is wasteful!” but you need to fight it. That one hour spent consciously doing the exact opposite of what the industrial system would like you to think is the right thing to do is what will help cut that link between the machine and your own individual humanity.

Earth Hour is Evil.

SWITCH ON YOUR LIGHTS ON MARCH 26TH.

Posted in Campaigns, Corporate Hypocrisy, NGO Hypocrisy, Political Hypocrisy, Sabotage, Symbolic Action | 22 Comments »

ExxonMobil Biofuel Advert Officially Pronounced as Greenwash

Posted by keith on 10th March 2011

ASA Adjudication on ExxonMobil UK Ltd

ExxonMobil UK Ltd
ExxonMobil House
Ermyn Way
Leatherhead
Surrey
KT22 8UX

Date: 9 March 2011
Media: Television
Sector: Utilities
Number of complaints: 1
Agency: Euro RSCG London Ltd
Complaint Ref: 141542

Ad

A TV ad for ExxonMobil UK Ltd (ExxonMobil) featured a scientist talking about researching algae as a source of biofuel. He said, “In using algae to form biofuels, we’re not competing with the food supply, and they absorb CO2, so they help solve the greenhouse problem as well.”

Issue

The complainant, who believed that any carbon dioxide (CO2) absorbed by algae would be re-released back into the atmosphere when it was burned as fuel, objected that the ad misleadingly implied that the technology would reduce CO2 levels.

BCAP Code

3.1 3.2 3.9 9.5

Response

ExxonMobil UK Ltd (EM) said one of the advantages associated with second generation biofuels like algae, was their potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by partial replacement of conventional transport fuels derived from hydrocarbons. They said lifecycle analysis showed that using second generation biofuels resulted in lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to conventional fuels. They said this was because biofuel feedstocks absorbed CO2 from the atmosphere and therefore the CO2 emitted during their combustion did not contribute to additional CO2 emissions.

EM also provided a study from the Joint Research Centre of the European Union, which they claimed proved that second generation biofuels achieved greenhouse gas reductions on a comparative basis. They acknowledged that the study did not specifically analyse algae. They said that algae as a source of biofuel was an emerging area of scientific analysis. However, they maintained that it was generally agreed that algae had a potential for high productivity compared to conventional biofuels.

EM provided a third-party report that concluded that the world community could slow and then reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases over the next several decades by utilising a range of public policies and current and emerging technologies. The report detailed a range of actions that could reduce emissions from key sectors, including using new and emerging technologies. It mentioned that biofuels had the potential to replace a substantial part of the petroleum now used by transport.

EM said that solving the greenhouse problem could mean many things as there were many different stabilisation scenarios being discussed by the scientific and world communities. They said that a core component of any stabilization scenario was the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions; furthermore, it was generally recognised that biofuels could play a key part in this.

They provided information which they believed supported their view that fuel switching was commonly discussed among policymakers, scientists and industry as a means of helping to solve the issue of rising greenhouse gas emissions. They said the ad made no claim to the effect that advanced biofuels such as algae could achieve this result on their own.

Clearcast pointed out that the ad stated, “Algae could be converted into biofuels that we could someday run our cars on” and “We’re making a big commitment to finding out just how much algae can help meet the fuel demands of the world”. They said the ad made clear that the technology was still being developed. They said, in this context, viewers would understand the claim “In using algae to form biofuels, we’re not competing with the food supply, and they absorb CO2, so they help solve the greenhouse problem as well”, related to what the advertisers hoped the technology would achieve. They also claimed the study provided by the advertiser proved that algae produced less CO2 than hydrocarbon fuels on a comparative basis.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA noted the ad referred to “unlocking the potential in algae” and considered it had made clear it was an emerging technology. Nonetheless we considered the ad made an objective claim that algae, if developed as a source of biofuel, would help solve the greenhouse problem. We noted that, by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and then re-releasing this CO2 when combusted, the technology would not add new greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Because of this we considered the technology could have a mitigation benefit. We noted the reports submitted by EM and acknowledged that many stabilisation scenarios highlighted the importance of reducing greenhouse gas emissions as part of tackling the greenhouse problem.

We also noted that the ad stated “In using algae to form biofuels, were not competing with the food supply, and they absorb CO2, so they help solve the greenhouse problem as well”. We considered that viewers would infer from this that it was because of the absorption of CO2 from the atmosphere that using algae to form biofuels helped “solve the greenhouse problem”, by acting as a carbon sink. We considered this claim went beyond stating the mitigation benefit. Because we understood that any CO2 absorbed by the feedstocks would eventually be re-released into the atmosphere, we concluded that the ad overstated the technology’s total environmental impact and was therefore misleading.

The ad breached BCAP Code rules 3.1 and 3.2 (Misleading advertising), 3.9 (Substantiation) and 9.5 (Environmental claims).

Action

The ad must not be broadcast again in its current form.

Posted in Adverts, Corporate Hypocrisy | No Comments »