Tag Archives | truthout

How Top Food Companies Fail to Protect Environmental Activists in Supply Chains

Destruction of rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo paves way for palm oil plantation. (Photo: David Gilbert / RAN)

Destruction of rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo paves way for palm oil plantation. (Photo: David Gilbert / RAN)

A recent investigation by the anti-poverty advocacy organization Oxfam reveals how the world’s top ten food and beverage companies are failing to protect environmental and human rights defenders caught in the companies’ supply chains.

The Oxfam report, Pathways to Deforestation-Free Food, demonstrates how Associated British Foods, Danone, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelēz, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever have committed to tackling deforestation caused by their companies, but crucially lack policies to protect local activists and environmentalists within their supply networks from violence, threats, and attacks.

“A glaring policy gap across all the companies analyzed,” the Oxfam report found, “is that none have policies to protect human rights defenders, nor require their suppliers to put in place policies of zero threats, intimidation or attacks against human rights defenders and local communities.”

Industrial farming of food ingredients such as soy and palm oil, for example, have led to massive deforestation and displacement of rural communities in Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, and elsewhere throughout the globe. Activists standing up against such industries in defense of forests, rivers, land, and the livelihoods of local communities have been threatened and murdered at an increased rate in recent years.

Four environmental activists were murdered each week in 2016 for defending their communities and environment from the impacts of agribusiness, mining, and logging industries, according to a report from the human rights organization Global Witness.

In Colombia, activists standing up against the impacts of El Cerrejón, Latin America’s largest open-pit mine, have faced regular threats and violence.

Jakeline Romero has organized against the water shortages and displacement caused by this mine, which is owned by Glencore, BHP Billiton, and Anglo-American.

“They threaten you so you will …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Fixing Facebook and Defending Democracy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at F8 in San Jose, California, April 18, 2017. (Photo: Anthony Quintano)
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at F8 in San Jose, California, April 18, 2017. (Photo: Anthony Quintano)

Facebook recently acknowledged it received more than $100,000 from Russian sources to purchase ads intended to help Donald Trump defeat Hillary Clinton. While the actual amount spent on such ads may have been considerably higher, this is the amount the company itself acknowledges.

It’s impossible to know how much impact such ads could have, but there is no doubt that these were placed with the intent to deceive. The ads had phony sponsors; none of them indicated that they were funded by Russians, likely with ties to the government.

In the fallout from this disclosure, Facebook is doing the usual corporate Keystone cops routine, saying that they had no idea and couldn’t possibly police against this sort of misuse of their system. The Democrats, who get plenty of campaign contributions from the Facebook crew, immediately moved to demand ineffectual steps from Federal Election Commission (FEC), the most ineffectual federal agency ever created.

In the months ahead we can expect much troubled handwringing from pundits telling us how hard it is to police against this sort of abuse with a social network like Facebook. We will be told that this is just one of those inevitable problems of living with the Internet.

While the politicians in Washington may not want to find a solution that could be expensive for their Silicon Valley friends, it actually is not hard to devise a mechanism that would get Facebook to effectively police …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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The Americans With Disabilities Act Is Under Threat

The optics were bad enough when disabled Americans were being dragged out of capital buildings as they protested potential loss of benefits in the first two iterations of Republican health care bills. For the protestors it was all about Medicaid. The Senate bill did away with Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion which would drop millions of low-income Americans from the rolls. And the bill completely changed the way Medicaid is financed — getting rid of open-ended funding and moving toward a “per-capita” system. The new Graham-Cassidy billunder consideration needs to be voted on within the next week to get an easy pass with just 51 votes. Like its predecessors, it also halts Medicaid expansion and turns Medicaid dollars over to the states to determine spending.

To see more stories like this, visit Moyers & Company at Truthout.

But disability advocates have even more reason to be distressed by the policies of the Republican administration. Long a dream of the Chamber of Commerce, the real estate industry and those who see “frivolous lawsuits” around every corner, the Americans with Disabilities Act is in danger of having its bite removed. Just after celebrating the 27th birthday of the act, signed into law by President George H.W. Bush, up pops (H.R. 620) The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017.

As Jake Flanagin at Quartz reports:

The ADA Education and Reform Act of 2017 (H.R. 620) seems like a rather innocuous bill at first glance — it compels the Department of Justice to formulate a program that educates state and local officials and business owners on “strategies for promoting access to public accommodations for persons with a disability.” A prime example of fatty, ostensibly meaningless Washington wonk-speak. But it goes further — the bill, if …read more

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The Arrival: Trump's Travel and Refugee Ban

Leading up to the US Supreme Court hearing on Trump’s travel ban, we’ll hear about the order’s impact on people from affected, Muslim-majority countries, and how advocacy groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations are responding. On this edition of Making Contact we begin with the story of a woman who was in flight to the US when President Trump signed his first travel ban.

Special thanks to the Stanford Storytelling Project and State of the Human podcast managing producer, Jake Warga.

Like this program? Please show us the love. Click here and support our non-profit journalism. Thanks!

Featuring:

  • Nisrin Abdelrahman, Stanford PhD Student in Anthropology
  • Zahar Billo, Civil Rights Attorney and Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter

Credits:

  • Host: Monica Lopez
  • Producers: Anita Johnson, Marie Choi, Monica Lopez, R.J. Lozada
  • Contributing Producers: Nisrin Abdelrahman, Helvia Taina, An-Li Herring, Eileen Williams
  • Executive Director: Lisa Rudman
  • Audience Engagement Director/Web Editor: Sabine Blaizin
  • Development Associate: Vera Tykulsker

Music:

  • David Szesztay, “The End”
  • David Szesztay, “Chords”
  • Percival Pembroke, “Symphony, no. 2 in F minor”

Transcript

“What do you think, dad, should I go?” And he’s like, “You know, I think it’s just better be, uh, safe than sorry.” He was like, “I think, you know, you should go.”

My name is Nisrin Elamin Abdelrahman. I am a PhD student here at Stanford in Anthropology.

I’m originally from Sudan, but I am also a green card holder, I’m a permanent resident. I’ve been living in the US for 24 years.

We started hearing about this possibility of a Muslim ban, and this executive order that might get signed.

[News Reporter] Trump put a temporary ban on travelers from Sudan and six other Muslim majority countries from entering the US.

And my father …read more

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Desperate GOP Resorts to “Blatant Bribery” in Bid to Save Floundering Trumpcare Bill

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) walks to the U.S. Capitol before all-night voting July 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) walks to the U.S. Capitol before all-night voting July 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)

With the latest version of Trumpcare floundering after several Republicans announced that they cannot support the legislation in its current form, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) are set to release on Monday yet another draft of their Obamacare repeal plan that includes extra funding for the home states of senators who have expressed deep concerns about the bill — a move Buzzfeed reporter Paul McLeod quickly characterized as “shockingly blatant bribery.”

“There’s really no way around it,” McLeod added. “This is almost comically targeted to sweeten the deal for the senators voting no. What a way to go out.”

According to the Washington Post, a summary of the draft that was circulating on Capitol Hill late Sunday indicated that “Alaska would get 3 percent more funding between 2020 and 2026 than under current law, and Maine would get 43 percent more funding during that time period.”

As McLeod observed, the funding “sweeteners” are clearly aimed at assuaging two senators — Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine — who have long been opposed to measures that deeply cut Medicaid. Murkowski and Collins both voted against the GOP’s previous attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but neither have officially indicated that they will oppose the latest bill.

Larry Levitt, senior vice president for Special Initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation, noted on Sunday that the latest Graham-Cassidy draft also makes abundantly clear that those with preexisting conditions would not be protected under the legislation.

“If there was any question about Graham-Cassidy’s removal of federal protections for preexisting conditions, this new …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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The Clock Is Running Out on Health Program for 9 Million Kids

University of Miami Pediatrician, Dr. Gwen Wurm, does a checkup on Christina Brownlee, 5, at the University of Miami Pediatric clinic October 3, 2007 in Miami, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

With Congress preoccupied with a series of Republican efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, little attention has been paid to a long-running bipartisan program providing insurance coverage to millions of American children: the Children’s Health Insurance Program, often referred to simply as CHIP, which provides coverage to nine million American children.

University of Miami Pediatrician, Dr. Gwen Wurm, does a checkup on Christina Brownlee, 5, at the University of Miami Pediatric clinic October 3, 2007 in Miami, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Since the inauguration of President Trump, health care has been front and center in American politics. Yet, attention has almost exclusively been focused on the Affordable Care Act, most recently in the form of Graham-Cassidy. With Congress preoccupied with a series of Republican efforts to repeal and replace the ACA, little attention has been paid to a long-running bipartisan program providing insurance coverage to millions of American children: the Children’s Health Insurance Program, often referred to simply as CHIP, which provides coverage to nine million American children.

Since its creation by a bipartisan coalition under the Clinton administration, CHIP has been crucial for the health and well-being of millions of American children, their families and their communities.

Yet funding for CHIP is running out at the end of September, leaving both state governments and families with great uncertainty. On September 18, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced an agreement to continue funding for the program, albeit at greater costs to the states because it would phase out the additional funding provided by …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Former NFL Player Donté Stallworth: Don't Let Trump Hijack the Conversation on Racism & Violence

It a campaign rally in Huntsville, Alabama, on Friday evening, Trump lashed out at players who have joined a growing protest movement started by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick against racial injustice, kneeling during the national anthem ahead of games. We get response from former NFL player Donté Stallworth, who spent 10 years in the league and is now a sports commentator, who says, “We can’t allow the president to hijack this conversation and make it all about him.”

Please check back later for full transcript.

…read more

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In the Caribbean, Colonialism and Inequality Mean Hurricanes Hit Harder

Hurricane Maria, the 15th tropical depression this season, is now battering the Caribbean, just two weeks after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in the region.

The devastation in Dominica is “mind-boggling,” wrote the country’s prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, on Facebook just after midnight on September 19. The next day, in Puerto Rico, NPR reported via member station WRTU in San Juan that “Most of the island is without power…or water.”

Among the Caribbean islands impacted by both deadly storms are Puerto Rico, St Kitts, Tortola and Barbuda.

In this region, disaster damages are frequently amplified by needlessly protracted and incomplete recoveries. In 2004, Hurricane Ivan rolled roughshod through the Caribbean with wind speeds of 160 mph. The region’s economy took more than three years to recover. Grenada’s surplus of US$17 million became a deficit of $54 million, thanks to decreased revenue and the outlays for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

Nor were the effects of a 7 magnitude earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010 limited to killing some 150,000 people. United Nations peacekeepers sent in to help left the country grappling, to this day, with a fatal cholera outbreak.

These are not isolated instances of random bad luck. As University of the West Indies geographers who study risk perception and political ecology, we recognize the deep, human-induced roots of climate change, inequality and the underdevelopment of former colonies — all of which increase the Caribbean’s vulnerability to disaster.

Risk, Vulnerability and Poverty

Disaster risk is a function of both a place’s physical hazard exposure — that is, how directly it is threatened by disaster — and its social vulnerability, specifically, …read more

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Graham-Cassidy Is Evil Incarnate

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) (2nd L) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (L) listen during a news conference on health care September 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

US Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) listen during a news conference on health care September 13, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Millions stripped of coverage. No more essential care. No more protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Medicaid money in blue states plundered and sent to red states as a reward for thwarting Obama back in 2014. Why? To pay for a trillion-dollar tax cut for rich people. If Graham-Cassidy isn’t evil, the word has no meaning.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) (2nd L) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) (L) listen during a news conference on health care September 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)US Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) listen during a news conference on health care September 13, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “evil” as “morally reprehensible; arising from actual or imputed bad character or conduct; causing discomfort or repulsion; disagreeable; causing harm; marked by misfortune.” Synonyms for “evil” include the words wicked, malevolent, sinful, malicious and criminal.

Sounds just about exactly right.

After eleventy billion failed attempts to do away with Obamacare, we have arrived at this latest, last iteration right here at the edge of everything, where the shore gives way to the deep blue sea. I’ve been staring smoking holes in the white space on my screen trying to find a calmly professional way to describe the first-degree murder and grand theft represented by the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Being nice is …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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Obamacare Website to Be Shut Down for Portion of Most Weekends During Open Enrollment

People wait in line to see an agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors as the Affordable Care Act website is reading, 'HealthCare.gov has a lot of visitors right now!' at a store setup in the Mall of Americas on March 31, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

People wait in line to see an agent from Sunshine Life and Health Advisors as the Affordable Care Act website is reading, “HealthCare.gov has a lot of visitors right now!” at a store setup in the Mall of Americas on March 31, 2014, in Miami, Florida. (Photo: Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

The Trump administration plans to shut down the federal health insurance exchange for 12 hours during all but one Sunday in the upcoming open enrollment season.

The shutdown will occur from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on every Sunday except Dec. 10.

The Department of Health and Human Services will also shut down the federal exchange — healthcare.gov — overnight on the first day of open enrollment, Nov. 1. More than three dozen states use that exchange for their marketplaces.

HHS officials disclosed this information Friday during a webinar with community groups that help people enroll.

The Trump administration has come under attack from critics who say that it is intentionally undermining the Affordable Care Act, through regulatory actions. It shortened the enrollment period, withdrew money for advertising and cut the budget for navigator groups, which help people shop for plans.

And now HHS is closing the site for a substantial portion of each weekend — for maintenance, officials said. That is the same time that many working patients — the prime target group for ACA insurance — could be shopping for their insurance, critics noted.

“The Department of Health & Human Services is actively trying to prevent people from signing up for healthcare coverage,” Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) tweeted. “This is outrageous.”

“Argh” was the reaction of Shelli Quenga, program director at the Palmetto Project in South Carolina, a nonprofit group that received about $1 million to …read more

Via:: Truthout

      

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