August 8, 2001
Green Files #24: 1. Gaia & The Corporations + 2. Superweed: Monsanto's GM Canola is out of control + 3. DRIVING THE NUMBERS UP & ARCTIC MELTDOWN + 4. Easy armchair activism + 5. McDonald's promotes deadly machinery at toys in "Monopoly" game + 6. "TRUST US, WE'RE EXPERTS!" - BOOK REVIEW & RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK MAY BE FORCED TO CLOSE + 7. Final statement on the G8 summit: some success, the concern remains + 8. The Genoa Experience + 9. Quote of the Day -- Robert Kennedy
Lots of food for thought in this one.
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
The 3 Rs of the greedy corporations destroying our planet: "Rape, Ruin and Run".
From: "David Allen Stringer" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Gaia & The Corporations
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2001
Dear Jean Hudon
I attach to this message two reformatted documents which I received in the mail and scanned into the computer which I think (in part or in whole) may be valid contributions to your Green Issues mailings.
David Allen Stringer
NOTE FROM JEAN: There is not enough room here to include both documents. Here are some excerpts of the first one "Gaia & The Corporations". However I will include the entire original document when archiving this compilation on the ERN website.
The natural world is dying, and it is dying fast. So fast that at current trends, much of it will cease to be capable of supporting complex forms of life, like humans, in a matter of decades. That is why we, the representatives of the World Rainforest Movement and ECOROPA (European Group for Ecological Action - a trans-European pressure group founded in 1976, fighting to save the earth from environmental catastrophe), hereby declare a state of global environmental emergency.
- Edward Goldsmith
GAlA & THE GLOBAL CORPORATIONS:
CAN THE ENVIRONMENTSURVIVE?
Keynote address by Edward Goldsmith, Co-Founder of the International Forum on Globalization at IFG annual Conference In 1998, on the on-going global biological holocaust; environmental destruction; economic collapse; the impoverishment of humanity; social & ecological catastrophe; and global revolution; are all taking hold.
There are no effective institutional methods for policing the global environment. To the extent that the global environment will be policed at all it is only likely to be by mass social movements, This will become easier as the global economy starts to break down, I do not see the development of the global economy as irreversible. The global economy is highly vulnerable and contains the seeds of its own disintegration. As far as an effective World Environment Organisation is concerned, I tend to agree with previous speakers that such an organization is not really feasible. The reason is that to set it up is not in the interests of the large transnational corporations that control the global economy via the World Trade Qrgapnization (WTO) and similar organisations, We have heard today of the lack of democracy of the WTO, but that is true of all the Bretton Woods institutions. Whenever a Third World country accepts a structural adjustment loan and hence the imposition of a structural adjustment programme, it has In effect delegated the task of running its economy to a foreign, non-elected body sitting In Washington DC. That is hardly democratic. As Mr Nyerere, when Prime Minister of Tanzania, once said, I have the authority but I do not have the power. The same is true of those countries that join the WTO, for the first article in its Constitution states that all member governments must adapt their laws to those of that organization, a now elected organization that has set itself up as a sort of world government whose laws have total precedence over those of Its member nation States.
Needless to say, if the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) that is at the moment being frenziedly promoted by the OECP were to be adopted~ we would have strayed still further, if that is possible, from all known democratic principles. Indeed the OECD proposes that it be made illegal for national governments to pass any new laws*, if this leads to a reduction In the profits of any transnational corporations. [* many of which could have been enacted to protect local communities, local economies, the standard of living of our citizens, their natural environment, and their health] Already the Ethyl Corporation of America is suing the Canadian government for $250,000,000 (250 million dollars) for laying passed a law that reduces that corporations profits by banning a toxic additive to petrol that it manufacture. This perfectly outrageous proposal is to do more than subordinate the authority of national governments to an international agency. It is to subordinate it to the interests of an individual transnational corporation. A less democratic proposal is bard to imagine. The setting up of an effective environmental agency has not even proved possible in any of the regional institutionally-managed free-trade zone we have set up in recent years: the European Union for instance. In The Ecologist we have documented in great detail the European Unions policies on education and transport. Neither are determined by the European Commission, let alone the European Parliament, but by the European Round Table, made up of the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the biggest transnational corporations operating in Europe. What is more, there is every reason to suppose that the same is true with regards the determination of policies in other key areas such as agriculture and environment. Even at a national level, an effective environment agency has yet to be set up. The Ministries of the Environment that now exist in most European countries do very little. They are invariably forced to toe the government line on all major issues. Anything they propose that adversely affects the governments economic priorities is automatically rejected. As far as I know, the only environmental agency with ally executive powers at all is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA, which has a budget of 2 billion dollars. However, this is but a minute fraction of what it would need to control the environmentally destructive activities of the vast transnational corporations it was set up to control. Thus, among its duties is to examine the 70,000 or so chemicals already marketed in the USA, for their potential adverse health effects, as well as a thousand or so new ones that are put onto the market every year. But after many years it has only succeeded in examining - in a cursory way at that -. little more than about 5% of these chemicals.
95% of those that are still on the market have thus never been tested at all - a truly horrifying thought. What js more, when it does establish that a particular chemical is carcinogenic, the EPA is incapable of forcing the corporation that produces the offending chemical to take it off the market. All it can do is negotiate with it and from a position of weakness rather than strength. Let me give you an idea of its weakness. According to the law, if studies undertaken by a corporation reveal that one of its products has serious health effects on people exposed to it, the EPA must be informed within a given period of time. (Cont. over page) Failure to do this results in fines that increase every day so long as the information is still withheld. The EPA knowing that many such studies were being carefully kept under wraps by the corporations involved, and knowing that it did not have the power to enforce the law, offered the corporations a drastic reduction in the fines they should incur for withholding this critical information if they handed it in before a certain date. To the EPAs amazement, as many as 11,000 sets of such dissimulated studies were dispatched to them in all haste so as to take full advantage of the amnesty. Under such conditions it is perfectly clear that the EPA cannot offer an assurance that any chemical on the market is harmless. Nor is there any chance whatsoever of its being able to set any serious acceptable standards for exposure to any chemical on the market. What is more. this will remain the case till the EPA is made powerful enough to control the otherwise uncontrollable chemical and pharmaceutical giants who have at their disposal limitless financial power - and this will never happen. If no institution can control environmental destruction and protect the publics health at a national level, what chance is there for setting one up at an international level? If we look at the experience of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), we can see how hopeless the task really is. The UNEP, which was set up after the United Nations first Conference on the Environment in Nairobi in 1972. was given no executive powers of any kind. It could only act via other United Nations agencies, and to reduce its capacity to do so it was conveniently located far away from them in Nairobi, and, what is more, given an annual budget of a mere $70 million - a third of that of an NGO such as the World Wildlife Fund. In any case, the problems we face today are too massive and too deep-seated to be solved by any institution Environmental destruction, in spite of assurances to the contrary by scientific experts working for governments and international institutions, is entirely out of control. For instance, there is absolutely nothing today to prevent the ever increasing destruction of the worlds forests- that is until it becomes uneconomic to destroy any more. Nor can I can see anything to stop the erosion of the last inch of topsoil from what remains of the worlds dwindling agricultural land so long as there is a market for its produce. Nor, in spite of the World Climate Conference held in Kyoto, is there anything to prevent the further growth of C02 emissions to the atmosphere and the further destabilization of world climate, that is so long as there is a market for fossil fuels. Let us face it, there is no law iii any country - to my knowledge - that makes it illegal to clear-cut forests, nor to erode our topsoil, nor to generate greenhouse gases over and above that which can be absorbed by dwindling natural sinks. What is more, even if such laws were enacted, I can see no effective mechanism anywhere in the world for applying them. At the recent World Climate Conference at Kyoto, governments committed themselves to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 5.2% below the 1990 level by the year 2008-2012. Whether they actually do so or not is largely irrelevant. The scientific working group of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told us in its first report in 1990 that in order to stabilize world climate, we would have to cut down emissions of greenhouse gases (of which carbon dioxide is the most important) by 60% to 80%, and do so immediately not in 20 or 30 years time. If, on the other hand, we did nothing, the world would become an average 1.5 - 4.5 degrees hotter by the time the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere doubled, which should be around the year 2020 and 2030. Few people seem to realize what a truly terrifying thought this is. Man has never lived in a world that is 4.5 degrees hotter. In addition, what we are seeing today is not just global warming but global climatic destabilization with an increase of droughts and floods, of heat and cold, and also of the unpredictability of weather conditions, which will make agriculture, in particular, increasingly difficult.
What is more this is only the beginning. As governments have in the meantime done practically nothing to reduce emissions, it will now be impossible to prevent the doubling of the C02 content of the atmosphere. All we can do now is slow down any further change, and slowly at that. But is this enough? Are we even going to slow it down? Who is going to make us do it, especially against the massive opposition from the incredibly powerful oil lobby? The answer is no one. A mere 5.2% reduction below the 1990 level by the year 2008-2O12, would have but an insignificant effect on global warming, which will just keep increasing at an unpredictable rate, especially in view of all the likely positive feedbacks - (i.e. small changes that can lead uncontrollably to ever bigger and bigger changes) - changes that being speculative and unquantifiable are very difficult to take into account in the mathematical models built by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In any case it may be that we can adapt. at least in certain areas of this planet, to a world that is four and a half degrees hotter, but can we adapt to a world increasingly hotter than this, and whose climate is becoming ever more destabilized? Let us not forget by signing the last GATT agreement, we have rendered any law that can be shown to interfere with trade vulnerable to being classified as a ~non-tariff barrier and made GATT-illegal. This includes most laws required to protect the global environment. Indeed, as a senior member of the US delegation at the last preparatory committee meeting for the Rio Earth Summit admitted to a colleague of mine, some 85% of Americans environmental legislation is so vulnerable. This is not surprising, of course, as I cannot think of a law that could reduce clear-felling, soil erosion, or the generation of greenhouse gases, that does not interfere with trade. Let us not forget either, that if the MAT is signed, such laws, by reducing the profits of the logging industry, agribusiness and the oil and motor industries, would inevitably be judged illegal - and the governments that enacted them would have to pay a massive compensation to those corporations whose profits had thereby been reduced.
If environmental destruction is out of control, what then is likely to happen? Clearly something must in the end bring it to a halt. It cannot just continue increasing forever. In all probability economic collapse will do so. Walden Bello - the Phillippino economist, who like 5 of the speakers at this meeting is a member of the IFG - believes that the breakdown of the South American economy some 10 years ago, the collapse of the Mexican economy 4 years ago, and that of the Far East, which we are witnessing today, will necessarily be followed by other collapses, possibly that of China or Russia, and ultimately that of the USA. For him this is merely a matter of time, for all these collapses are merely symptoms of the same economic disease: - uncontrollable economic development and speculation, that is now occurring on a global scale. When the American economy collapses, of course, that will mean a general collapse, one too that will be incomparably more serious than that which took place iii 1929, as it is not just the rich who have invested in the stock exchange, but a large number of relatively poor people, including many old age pensioners. This collapse would be very painful, but it would at least reduce the money available for funding further environmental destruction. Already a number of highly destructive infrastructure projects are being cancelled in the Far East, including the Bakun Dam in Sarawak, and there will undoubtedly be very many more. On the other hand, if this collapse does not occur in the next few years and economic globalization persists, we will have to face the terrible problems that it must necessarily bring about. The first is worldwide poverty on an unprecedented scale. The global economy is already creating considerable poverty in the industrial world, where, in order to cut costs and increase competitivity, corporations are slashing wages, especially in the US and the UK, replacing long-term with short-term contracts, men with women who are paid less, and full-time jobs by part-time jobs. For the same reason we are seeing the systematic dismantling of the welfare state. As a result, in the UK there is already an increasing number of people who have become too poor to feed their families properly, and this can only get worse. In the Third World, the standard of living of the bulk of the people has been dramatically reduced as have social services of all kinds by successive IMF Structural adjustment Programmes, and this is only the beginning, for among other things, with the last GATT agreement (Uruguay Round), we are in effect applying a structural adjustment programme to the world as a whole. In addition, a new industrial revolution is occurring today before our very eyes, one which can be even more socially destructive than the previous one. It is based on the complete restructuring or re-engineering of corporations, to enable them to make full use of the new computer-based technologies. It is not confined to the industrial world, but is occurring everywhere. What is more, as the vast transnational corporations that can afford these technologies replace the small companies that previously catered for the domestic economy, fewer and fewer jobs will become available. Most members of the IFG consider that the highly automated global economy we are creating will be able to function with possibly no more than 20% of the worlds potential work force. In the Third World, the vast bulk of small farmers, artisans, street vendors, and small businessmen, cannot conceivably survive the changes they face today, any more than their equivalents in the Industrial World have been able to survive those that have occurred there over the last 50 years. Their functions will be systematically taken over by TNCs. Unfortunately these people make up the bulk of the present population of most Third World countries - possibly 650 out of the 850 million inhabitants of India. In China the number is probably over a billion. Most of these people can Qnly be marginalized, and will seek refuge in the mushrooming slums around the major conurbations where unemployment levels are already extremely high. Most in fact will be condemned to utter destitution. This alone must make the global economy we are in such pains to set up, extremely short-lived. No one has yet ever tried to marginalize 80% of humanity, and it is unlikely that it will prove possible. My brother, James Goldsmith. fully understood this and undertook a personal campaign to try and stop the American Congress from ratifying the GATT treaty. Lori Wallach, who is in this room with us today, and Ralph Nader, with whom she works, succeeded in getting together a 100 or so congressmen and their staff members. My brother tried to explain some at least of the implications of the treaty they were about to sign, and I shall quote a passage from his talk: If you ratify this treaty he told them, no body of people in human history will ever have created so much misery and destitution; and who will be the beneficiaries? I might add the sole beneficiaries? The answer is, the super-rich, people hike myself, and what good will it do me to have more money when I will be surrounded by hordes of poverty-stricken and half-starved people screaming for my blood? I feel like someone who has been dealt a winning hand at poker when sailing on the Titanic. it is quite astonishing that so few people in a position of power and influence have understood this. Of course, they fail to do so at their own cost, for by marginalizing 80% of humanity, the global economy will marginalize itself. It will play an increasingly smaller role in the lives of the bulk of the population of this planet, most of whom, in order to survive, will have to form vast informal networks to produce and distribute the necessities of life, and which will constantly come into conflict with the global economy over access to essential resources like land and water.
Of course, to begin with, the transnationaI corporations will become increasingly powerful. David Korten has told us today that the money involved in mergers between vast TNCs is increasing at something like 50% every year. At this rate only a few giant corporations will be left in each sector of the economy. The corporations, what is more, are more and more vertically integrated. Some of them just about control every step in the production and distribution of the goods they sell - steps that often occur in a large ii umber of different countries. As a result, it appears that already between 30 and 40% of world-trade is simply made up of what are little more than internal transactions between the different subsidiaries of these giant corporations. In addition, as the latter further tighten their grip on world-trade, the figure. 1 am told, could soon rise to 70 or 80% - perhaps even more. We would then be entering a new scale of central planning on a global scale - central planning by a few giant corporations who have found more to gain by working together than by needlessly competing with each other. In many ways they will constitute a sort of new world government - one that is likely to be more tyrannical and less concerned with the welfare of its subjects than any previous form of government. The question is for how long will it be tolerated? Nationalist movements with massive popular support are likely to rise up throughout the world against this new form of tyranny, as occurred throughout the colonial era, as people were dispossessed of their land and deprived of their livelihoods. Corporations will soon have to contend with overlapping economic crises, social crises, and ecological crises, not to mention moral and spiritual ones.
Many CEOs, I am told, are already terrified cf what will happen to their corporations if they continue for long on their present path, navigating as they are in ever less chartered waters. But to extricate themselves is not that easy. Needless to say, there is no cosmetic solution to the problems that they and the world in general will face. They can only be solved by changing the course on which our society is set. Instead of aiming to create a global economy dominated by vast transnational corporations catering for a world market, we need, on the contrary, to recreate a network of loosely connected local economies run by small and medium sized companies that are rooted in a particular society to which they are accountable economically, socially, ecologically, and morally, and catering largely, though not entirely, for local and regional markets. Only in this way can we reduce sufficiently the impact of our destructive economic activities on our rapidly degrading environment. Only in this way too can we prevent the further disintegration of our social fabric, for only local economies can provide the economic infrastructure for the healthy and cohesive families and communities that are the key building blocks of a healthy society, and that in the industrial world of today exist in name only. Only in this way too can we hope to assure the livelihoods of those who are still outside the orbit of the world economy and provide jobs for those who require them - for only small and medium sized companies can possibly provide employment for all those who would otherwise be marginalized and rendered largely destitute. Only a society made up of healthy families and communities based on local economies, what is more, could possibly be imbued with the religio-cultural world-view that can once more give meaning to our lives and rescue us from the sordid nihilism into which we are rapidly sinking.
Bretton Woods: Bretton Woods Conference held. in 1944, under US leadership, where aid was institutionalized as the industrialized worlds principal tool of economic colonialism. At that conference, 44 nations agreed to set up the key international institutions. They were: the International Monetary Fund (IMF); the World Bank (IBRD); and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). These highly interconnected ~agencies formed a single integrative structure for manipulating world trade, which until the early 1 970s was basically dominated by the USA. from The Future Of Progress (ISEC 1993). CO2: Carbon Dioxide. GATT: General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. IMF: International Monetary Fund. OECD: Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development. TNC: Transnational Corporations. NGO: Non-governmental organization.
EDWARD GOLDSMITH, Adjunct Associate Professor, Michigan University and Viscount Professor, Sangamon State University is a Co-Director of the International Forum on Globalisation; lecturer; campaigner; scholar; and author or co-author of 17 books including The Case Against The Global Economy (1998) which received the Best Book of the Year award for Ecological and Transformational Politics from the American Political Science Association.
His other books include: The Way (1996), The Future Of Progress (1995), Whose Common Future? (1993), The Earth Report (1992), Imperiled Planet/5000 Days To Save The Planet (1990), Gaia & Evolution (1989), Gaia (1988), The Great U-Turn (1988), La Medecine a La Question (1981), The Stable Society (1978), A Blueprint For Survival (1972) which sold half a million copies and was translated into over 17 different languages and Can Britain Survive? (1971). In 1991, he was awarded the Right Livelihood Award - the alternative Nobel Prize - in
Stockholm and was made a Chevalier of the Legion dHonneur in France.
An extended article based on this piece. on how environmental destruction will be brought to a halt was published in Caduceus Magazine as: GAlA & THE GLOBAL CORPORATIONS: CAN THE ENVIRONMENT SURVIVE? Order from Caduceus Magazine, 38 Russell Terrace, Leamington Spa, CV3I IHE, UK. 01926 451 897.
For further information, papers, books, bibliographies & tapes, contact: International Forum on Globalization, 1062 Fort Cronkhite, Sausalito, CA 94965, USA
Special editions of The Ecologist BEYOND THE MONOCULTURE, June 1999, and, CLIMATE CRISIS July 1999.
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2001
From: Trevor <email@example.com>
Subject: Monsanto produces a superweed
I have attached a scanned copy of an article published in the Australian AUSTAND magazine called OZNEWS. It is about the out-of-control GM canola that has become a weed that can't be killed by herbicides because it has been engineered to resist them... ironic! I believe farmers should take out a class action against the company... that would make them think twice about doing what they are doing without first researching all the possible consequences.
AND MY REPLY WAS (partly):
Thanks for this article which I'll indeed network as this is a perfect example of some of these Frankenplants terrible long term effects. This bio-contamination of our planet should be stopped ASAP and it is probably too late anyway to put the bad genie back in the bottle. I'm afraid we are going to have to learn to live with yet another consequence of greedy capitalism running amuck.
Superweed: Monsanto's GM Canola is out of control
Farmers in Canada are struggling with a new pest in their fields - a crop that was supposed to make their lives easier. Genetically engineered canola is appearing in farmer's fields where it wasn't planted, and because the plant has been engineered to resist conventional herbicides, it's tough to kill.
Agricultural scientists suspect that the plants spread through cattle manure. The seeds travel through an animal's digestive tract and are deposited on the soil, where they germinate. 'The GM canola has in fact spread much more rapidly than we thought it would,' said Martin Evit, a plant scientist at the University of Manitoba. 'It's absolutely impossible to control.'
Ottawa approved GM canola in 1996, and at the time it did consider the possibility that it could become a weed. Tha Canadian Food Inspection Agency describes the current problem as "a nuisance" and has advised farmers to 'use another chemical,' But the alternative chemicals can kill farmers' intended crops and in some cases, the GM canola appears to be resistant to the other chemicals,
Monsanto, which created one of the GM canola strains, says that if farmers call the company, they'll send out a team to manually pull up the weeds. But Martin Phillipson, a University of Saskatchewan law professor, said that Monsanto may be liable for damages if their GM canola continues to spread.
The problems with canola confirm the long held fears of anti-GE campaigners regarding the possibility that genetically engineered crops will become super weeds,
06 Aug 2001
DRIVING THE NUMBERS UP
The percentage of households in the U.S. with three or more cars (18.3 percent) is nearly double the percentage of households with no cars (9.3 percent), and more than 76 percent of Americans say they
drive to work alone, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Only 11 percent of people carpool, and merely 5 percent use public transportation to get to work. Telecommuting as a high-tech solution to the problems of pollution-spewing traffic seems to be a bust: Only 3 percent of Americans work at home, roughly the same percentage as in 1990. Carpooling dropped 16 percent since 1990. To put these numbers in perspective: In 1960, one in eight workers in Massachusetts walked to work; now, only one in 25 hoof it.
USA Today, Haya El Nasser and Paul Overberg, 06 Aug 2001
Boston Globe, Cindy Rodriguez, 06 Aug 2001
02 Aug 2001
In a big win for the White House and a loss for enviros, the U.S. House passed a broad energy bill last night after rejecting attempts earlier in the day to block drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska and boost fuel efficiency significantly. The 223-206 vote in favor of drilling surprised even Republicans, who attributed the victory to labor unions that touted the promise of more than 700,000 drilling-related jobs to win the support of more than three dozen Democrats. The House voted 269-160 to reject an amendment calling for fuel-efficiency standards for SUVs and light trucks to be boosted from 20.7 miles per gallon to 27.5 mpg by 2007. The bill that passed would direct automakers to lower fuel use by 5 billion gallons over six years beginning in 2004 -- translating into a slight gain in efficiency. Among many nasty things, the bill would strip national forest supervisors of their authority to restrict oil and gas leasing.
New York Times, Lizette Alvarez, 02 Aug 2001
Date: Fri, 03 Aug 2001
From: "Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D." <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Easy armchair activism
I often get emails from folks looking for ways to stay involved and make their views known on issues that matter to them. An excellent website, produced by the Working Assets folks who offer telephone service that gives a percentage of the profits to social change organizations, lets you easily generate email letters to the right politicians about issues that matter to you.
The Activism section of the Working for Change website has a very slick set-up. Once you register, your name and address are automatically filled in to the email activism letters of your choice. You can modify the letter to suit your interests and when you hit the submit button, and your letters are automatically sent to the right people. Your contact information is never used for anything else.
I visit the site once a week or so to generate letters on issues that matter to me.
Check it out at http://www.workingforchange.com/activism/.
Feel free to send me any other activism sites you use. I will compile a list of them and post them at my website.
Take care and I wish you peace.
Date: Fri, 3 Aug 2001
From: David Orr <email@example.com>
Subject: NEWS: McDonald's promotes deadly machinery at toys in "Monopoly" game
GROUPS ASK COMPANY TO SUBSTITUTE SAFE, NON-POLLUTING ALTERNATIVES FOR SWEEPSTAKES PRIZES
San Francisco, CA - Leaders of 26 organizations representing the environment, consumer advocates, and concerned parents from across the nation blasted McDonald's Food Corporation for offering as sweepstakes prizes three of the deadliest and most environmentally harmful recreation vehicles currently on the market - snowmobiles, personal watercraft (PWC, or "jet ski"), and all-terrain vehicles (ATV). In a joint letter sent today to McDonald's CEO Jack Greenberg in Oak Brook, Illinois, 23 organizations called on the fast-food magnate to substitute safer and less environmentally-destructive products for the company's nationwide "Monopoly" sweepstakes game.
"The McDonald's Corporation promotes itself as caring about 'safe fun for children' and protecting the environment, but the Monopoly game prizes contradict those corporate values," said Katy Rexford of Bluewater Network. "We're shocked that McDonald's would offer to children prizes that are responsible for so many injuries and deaths."
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, ATVs alone sent over 95,000 Americans to the emergency room in 2000; snowmobiles were responsible for over 14,000 emergency room visits.Moreover, while PWCs comprise only 10 percent of the United States recreational boating population, they are responsible for over 40 percent of injury accidents.
The National Park Service (NPS) recently agreed to ban PWCs from most national parks, and a subsequent federal court settlement agreement with NPS calls for a possible ban on PWCs at all other park units, including Lake Mead and Lake Powell on the Colorado River.
"Jetskis are unsafe and contribute to the pollution of water supplies for more than twenty million people in the Colorado River alone," said David Orr, of Living Rivers in Moab, Utah, a co-plaintiff with Bluewater Network on the NPS lawsuit. "While citizens struggle to protect their families and their drinking water from these destructive machines, McDonald's is busy serving them up as good, clean fun."
Not only do these motorized "thrillcraft" have abysmal safety records, they are bad for the environment.Almost exclusively powered by dirty two-stroke engines, these machines dump between 25 and 30 percent of their unburned fuel mixture directly into the water, or onto the land or snow over which they ride.
Joining Bluewater Network and Living Rivers in the letter to McDonald's were groups from Alaska to Virginia. CLIP In their letter, the groups expressed their desire to work with Mr. Greenberg to "change the emphasis of the Monopoly game from one of dangerous, disruptive, and disproportionately polluting motorized recreation to a wholly different set of values that respects the environment and promotes the 'safe fun for children' theme that McDonald's proudly proclaims."
-- more --
The California Air Resources Board reported that a seven-hour ride on a PWC emits the same amount of smog-forming air pollution as does driving over 100,000 miles in a typical passenger car.
Snowmobiles in Yellowstone National Park were responsible for spewing over 90 percent of the total hydrocarbon pollution in the park, despite being outnumbered by automobiles 16 to 1. Fresh oxygen has to be pumped into the ranger station at the West Yellowstone entrance because rangers complained of nausea, headaches, and dizziness from carbon monoxide poisoning.
McDonalds Food Corporation claims to be an environmental leader, yet the message sent by these sweepstakes prizes is one of environmental dominance and destruction rather than harmony and respect.
Thrillcraft manufacturers often claim that damage and injuries caused by thrillcraft are the result of a few "bad apple" operators; however, it is the inherent design and intended use of the machines that is problematic.
Additional information on the problems with PWCs, ATVs and snowmobiles may be found online at: Bluewater Network: http://www.bluewaternetwork.org Coalition of Parents and Families for Personal Watercraft Safety: http://www.pwcwatch.org
See also http://www.livingrivers.net
THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM MY GOOD FRIEND BOUDEWIJN'S EXCELLENT NEWSLETTER. TO SUBSCRIBE TO IT SIMPLY ASK IT FROM HIM AT firstname.lastname@example.org -- THE FOLLOWING IS REALLY OUTRAGEAOUS, I PREFER TO WARN YOU.
From: "Boudewijn Wegerif" <email@example.com>
Subject: MONEY MATTERS: A Miscellany of News and Views
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2001
"TRUST US, WE'RE EXPERTS!" - BOOK REVIEW
"The Big Idea behind the anti-democratic corporate-power movement is that people cannot be trusted to make political decisions because they are irrational, emotional, and illogical. This cynical view of humans is widely held by the public relations industry's experts but also by the scientific experts they employ to 'guide' the public."
I draw this quotation from Don Chisholm's review of a new book TRUST US, WE'RE EXPERTS! by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber. The review is posted at http://www.magma.ca/~donchism. TRUST US, WE'RE EXPERTS! "provides a chilling, documented history of ongoing corporate efforts to use propaganda and 'public relations' to distort science, manipulate public opinion, discredit democracy, and consolidate political power in the hands of a wealthy few." From the review I learnt:
- If people are not rational they cannot be guided by reason, so they must be manipulated through emotion, PR experts say (thus justifying their own propaganda services). For example, a spokesperson for Burson-Marsteller, a PR firm that manipulates the public on behalf of Philip Morris, Monsanto, Exxon Mobil and others, told the Society of Chemical Industry in London in 1989, "All of this research is helpful in figuring out a strategy for the chemical industry and for its products. It suggests, for example, that a strategy based on logic and information is probably not going to succeed. We are in the realm of the illogical, the emotional, and we must respond with the tools that we have for managing the emotional aspects of the human psyche... The industry must be like the psychiatrist."
- The PR psychiatric manipulation industry is now enormous. Corporations spend at least $10 billion each year hiring PR propaganda experts (pg. 26) and our federal government spends another $2.3 billion or so (pg. 27) -- and these are no doubt underestimates. But these huge sums are not wasted - they provide major benefits to the clients. For example, about 40% of all stories that appear in newspapers are planted there by PR firms on behalf of a specific paying client. Because most radio and TV news is simply re-written from newspaper stories, a substantial proportion of the public's 'news' originates as PR propaganda. Naturally the connection to the PR source is edited out.
- The news media largely set the limits on public discussion, and thus on public policy debate. What is excluded from the news is often more significant than what gets inserted. For example, approximately 800,000 new cases of occupational illness arise each year, making occupational illness much larger than AIDS and roughly equivalent to cancer and all circulatory diseases, but most people have no idea that this is so.
- Combined with on-the-job injuries, work-related illnesses kill about 80,000 workers each year -- nearly twice the national death total from automobile accidents. In 1991 former NEW YORK TIMES labour correspondent William Serrin reported (but, notably, NOT in the NEW YORK TIMES) that about 200,000 workers had been killed on the job since the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in 1970, and that an additional 2 million workers had died from diseases caused by conditions where they worked. . . During the same 20-year period, 1970-1990, an additional 1.4 million workers were permanently disabled in workplace accidents. Yet during those 20 years, only 14 people were prosecuted by the Justice Department for violation of workplace safety standards and only one person went to jail -- for 45 days for suffocating two workers to death in a trench cave-in.
Don Chisholm concludes: "In this rich, deep book, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber have painstakingly documented the specific techniques that PR experts and their corporate masters employ to deceive the courts, the legislatures, the media, educators, and the public. The next time someone accuses you of 'chemophobia ' or of relying on 'junk science' you'll know you're dealing with corporate manipulators who are being guided by PR skanks (sic - BW). Their overriding goal is to discredit decision-making by the public and replace it with control by corporate elites. They know better, they're experts, trust them. . . The final chapter of this important book tells us how to fight back."
10. RAINFOREST ACTION NETWORK, RAN, MAY BE FORCED TO CLOSE
Source: Don Chisholm - firstname.lastname@example.org - to the SIMPOL e-group - email@example.com
A corporate front group calling itself Frontiers of Freedom has petitioned U.S. tax officials to revoke the tax-exempt status of Rainforest Action Network (RAN), a major environmental organization (http://www.ran.org). If successful, the petition would put Rainforest Action Network out of business, and would open the door for lethal attacks on other environmental advocates. Frontiers of Freedom acknowledged to the WALL STREET JOURNAL that, if successful against RAN, "it will challenge other environmental groups."
Frontiers of Freedom was founded in 1995 by Malcolm Wallop, a former U.S. Senator (R-Wyo.) and "friend of vice-president Dick Cheney," according to the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The JOURNAL reports that Frontiers is funded by Philip Morris Companies, R.J.Reynolds Tobacco Holdings, Inc., and the Exxon Mobil Corporation.
Don Chisholm writes that this latest corporate attack on freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, is not random. "It is part of an accelerating campaign to replace representative democracy with control by corporate elites."
BTW - Forests.org - http://forests.org - Rainforest Action Network and others have launched a major campaign against Citigroup - the largest U.S. financial institution - and a major funder of companies engaged in oil palm and paper pulp production, leading to massive deforestation of globally critical rainforest ecosystems. RAN's Citigroup campaign page is at http://www.ran.org/ran_campaigns/citigroup/
NOTE FROM JEAN: The following has been taken from the July 27 issue of the Good News Agency newsletter -- More details at http://www.goodnewsagency.org
It is prepared and distributed by the Associazione Culturale dei Triangoli e della Buona Volontà Mondiale. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
21-22 July, Genoa: fresh public opinion seeks expression
Final statement on the G8 summit: some success, the concern remains
Genoa, 22 July - Following the final statement issued at the conclusion of the G8 meeting, Volunteers of the World - FOCSIV (a Federation of 52 International Volunteer NGOs) considers an NGO success the fact that two thirds of the statement concerns the strategic approach to the reduction of poverty in the world. "The acknowledgment by the G8 of its own responsibilities for resolving some of the planets major problems is an important step forward, even though not an adequate one", said Sergio Marelli, General Manager of FOCSIV. "What are needed are concrete measures, adequate tools and resources, definite times, and measurable objectives that don't seem to have been clearly identified during the summit."
Problems of the utmost importance such as: safeguarding the environment, safe food for everyone, improving local health services, blockading the arms trade, equal opportunities for poor countries in accessing markets and, above all, the definition of rules and democratic systems of governance at international levels, can no longer wait. The destiny of millions of poor people depends on a greater social justice that must not be postponed.
The establishing of the Health Fund, the debt reduction of 23 heavily indebted countries, the proposal of a Plan for Africa, the adherence to the European initiative "Everything but Arms" are all positive signals which, alone however, risk becoming benevolent gestures with no real impact on the causes of poverty.
"Various passages of the document, as far as we are concerned, are cause for alarm and need to be modified - concluded Sergio Marelli. We reiterate our desire to continue talks with national and international bodies, especially now that the spot light on the G8 summit has been switched off. The commitment to promote innovative solutions based on ample partnership with civil society and on greater cooperation with those developing countries cited in the final statement of the G8 summit, if concretized, will finally constitute a positive step forward in that long sought-after direction and which was so greatly supported over the past months of preparation for the Genoa summit."
From: "Boudewijn Wegerif" <email@example.com>
Subject: The Genoa Experience, by Andrew Arendt Wegerif
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2001
This is my story of what I experienced in Genoa before, during and after the G8 summit that was held there on 20 to 22 July. A lot of what I saw was deeply shocking and disturbing to me, hence it has taken a while before I felt able to put it down in writing, which I will now try to do.
CLIP - This is too long to be included in its entirety. You may request the original version from Boudewijn. Here are some excerpts:
After some dancing and music and a good deal of gas we moved back from the Red Zone, to regroup at a square about 500 metres from the fence. Here we sat down and had a bit of a meeting and a rest. This square, the Piazza Manin, was also the meeting point for a number of pacifist organisations, so there were several thousand people there at the time.
All was calm for a few minutes, until a group of perhaps 50 to 100 'Black Block' activists came running down the street towards us, closely followed by a large number of police. The Blacks crossed straight over the square, desperately retreating from the police lines, and the police moved in on us with their truncheons and gas. There was total chaos, as everyone tried to get away and police bore down on those that weren't quick enough. I was pushing a shopping trolley full of water and food at the time, and so couldn't really run very fast, and didn't really feel like it anyway. Instead I moved up towards a wall and started walking calmly away from the mess.
A police truncheon then got me on the head and I fell over and was beaten and kicked on the head, back, arms and legs, maybe 15 times by what must have been at least two officers. All around me teargas canisters were flying and completely peaceful people were being brutally beaten up. I was curled up against the wall and sitting very still, so they probably thought I had passed out and moved on to someone else. Then I saw an opening and made a run for it. Happily I made it down a side street, where I hid by some bushes for half an hour together with about 20 shocked pacifists.
Hiding out in the side street I made an interesting observation. The police that had driven the Blacks over the square and down towards the Red Zone now calmly walked back over the square, got in their vans and drove off, letting the Blacks roam as freely as they wished. The unpleasant conclusion I could not help drawing from this is that the police were not trying to actually arrest or stop these Blacks. For the time being they simply wanted to drive them over the square where we Pinks and others were gathered, thereby creating an excuse to violently end the peaceful meetings that they knew were being held there.
COMING TO TERMS WITH WHAT HAPPENED IN GENOA
There are several facts about what happened in Genoa, and the implications of these events, that I feel must be stated.
It is terribly obvious to me that the carabinieri and police knew very well what they were doing. They were not panicking in any way, they came prepared, and they had their tactics well sorted out. It is also clear that they were not acting on their own, the blame must not fall on them alone, but travel all the way to the very top of the Italian government, and thereby also to the other countries that are a part of the Greedy Eight.
On Tuesday the 24th there were still about 600 people in hospital in Genoa, and something like 200 were under arrest. People who were well when arrested were later found badly beaten in hospital. There have been terrible reports from the prisons. People have been repeatedly beaten, humiliated, made to chant fascist slogans and even gassed in their cells. The message of this is all too clear, the police were not really out there to control and arrest people, they were out there to hurt and scare people. And I suppose that is because they can't really get at very many people legally, while they can hurt a lot of people quite easily.
There were a great number of reports of police infiltrators actually taking part in the rioting and fighting in Genoa. There are so many pictures, videos and eye-witness reports of people dressed as Black Block activists rioting and fighting and then speaking to the police, getting in and out of police vans and even leaving police stations that even the mainstream media (at least in Italy) haven't been able to ignore it.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that the police are tactically using parts of the Black Block to cause havoc, beat innocent people, and turn different groups of activists against each other.
Sadly, the police tactics were partially successful. I witnessed organisations and groups arguing endlessly over whether or not to permit anarchists to demonstrate with them, over whether there is any point at all to being there when there is a large chance of getting beaten up. And of course, whether they should be defending themselves against the violence or not, and how, and what tactics to use, and so on.
Important as these tactical discussions may be, I believe that we must try to remember what this is actually about, remember why we are out there demonstrating in the first place. We must try to find strength in the great diversity of activists that really want a change, focusing more on our common goals than our differences.
The positive implication of all this madness I suppose is that the government and economic leaders are really showing that they are scared of what the demonstrators represent. Their need to repress more and more of the population is becoming increasingly obvious. The eyes of many are being opened and new activists are being created every day.
See also: TOP FIRMS RETREAT INTO BUNKER TO WARD OFF 'ANARCHISTS' at
Some of Britain's biggest companies are running their internet operations on systems installed in a 300ft-deep nuclear blast-proof bunker to protect customers from violent anti-capitalist campaigners.
Subject: Quote of the Day -- Robert Kennedy
Date: Mon, 6 Aug 2001
From: Larry Morningstar <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, s/he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
-- Robert Kennedy, from his speech on June 6, 1966 at the University of Capetown in South Africa
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