Monday, August 26, 2013

Monsanto, Facebook and ExxonMobil Censorship strike again!

Meanwhile the Mainstream Media Completely Ignores the March Against Monsanto Event,

Corporate America is dominating the airwaves, while the majority can't afford to pay the big money to even try to get ad time, assuming they would be accepted; and they're increasingly trying to suppress criticism through other sources as well. Some of these attempts may seem like an incompetent attempt to some who pay enough attention to the alternative media outlets but many people that don't might not be aware of it.

In practice it is becoming increasingly obvious that modern interpretations of the first amendment mean that a small number of corporations can have virtual monopoly, or oligarchy control of the mainstream media that reaches the vast majority of the public.

While the vast majority of the public only has the right to free speech as long as they either repeat the corporate ideology or only attempt to speak where no one is listening, perhaps in "free speech zones!"

One of the latest attempts at censorship by Monsanto and Facebook is the deletion of a March Against Monsanto Event, as described in the following article:

March Against Monsanto Event Removed by Facebook By Lauren Berlekamp

Facebook has been accused of being a facade for free speech as it has been known to censor controversial content. For example, earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg was called out for practicing censorship when a Facebook ad by CREDO Mobile was pulled for criticizing his financial and political ties to the Keystone XL pipeline.

The group March Against Monsanto announced yesterday on their Facebook page that Facebook removed an event page promoting a rally in St. Louis, MO, where the biotech giant is headquartered.

The rally is set to take place on Saturday, Oct. 12, with a broad coalition of regional groups and solidarity activists planning to converge at the company’s corporate headquarters. While the event did not contain derogatory or inappropriate content, it was removed for violating Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. The group has since created a new event page for the rally. Complete article

ExxonMobil has also been involved in attempts to censor another satire as described in the following article:

Law Firm Behind Removal of YouTube Tar Sands Satire Fundraiser Tied to Big Oil by Steve Horn

DeSmog Canada recently revealed Andy Cobb and Mike Damanskis - two political satirists in the spotlight for their ongoing spoofery of the Alberta tar sands project - had an Indiegogo fundraising promotional video for their upcoming "vacation" to the Alberta tar sands ordered removed from YouTube due to an alleged copyright violation.

Alleged because under U.S. legal precedent (YouTube is a U.S. company), it's almost impossible to claim copyright damages for parody and/or satire. That won't keep Travel Alberta, the province's tourism bureau, from trying. Complete article

All these large corporations have a history of censoring smaller grass roots organizations even though they don't have nearly as much opportunity to get their points across and if their claims are false the corporations could easily refute them. Past examples of censorship include attempts to censor autistic children and their mother, a Gandhi quote about guns and another satire about how pollution is killing children as indicated in the following excerpts:

Facebook wages censorship war against moms of autistic children who protest GMOs: Exclusive interview with Andrea Lalama by Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) When Facebook suspended the account of a mom of two autistic children who held anti-GMO signs at the recent rally, it became national news. Drudge Report linked to our Natural News story which documented Facebook censoring multiple accounts for sharing a photo Facebook absurdly called "abusive."

That photo, it turns out, was nothing more than a picture of two children holding up hand-made signs at the March Against Monsanto. One of the signs read, "Biopesticides = Autism, Say No to GMO" and the other sign read, "Organic Food It's My Medicine, Label GMOs" (see videos, below).

This defiance against GMOs was apparently too much for Facebook to tolerate, so it took immediate action to censor the account of the mom, Andrea Lalama. Complete article

Facebook bans Gandhi quote as part of revisionist history purge by Mike Adams

(NaturalNews) The reports are absolutely true. Facebook suspended the Natural News account earlier today after we posted an historical quote from Mohandas Gandhi. The quote reads:

"Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the Act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest." - Mohandas Gandhi, an Autobiography, page 446.

This historical quote was apparently too much for Facebook's censors to bear. They suspended our account and gave us a "final warning" that one more violation of their so-called "community guidelines" would result in our account being permanently deactivated. Complete article

“ExxonMobil Hates Your Children” and This Ad by Marcia G. Yerman

There are a plethora of ads put forth by oil companies to promote the “social good” they are doing. As a writer on environmental issues, I happen to be aware of the flip side of the story. So while British Petroleum pushes their “Voices from the Gulf” tourism travelogues about how great it is to visit the southern states afflicted by their oil spill, the fact that I think about is that the oil spill was the most significant to date in American history, with between 17 and 39 million gallons spilled in the Gulf of Mexico. When Chevron showcases a suite of presentations entitled, “We Agree,” which riffs off of the concerns that average people have for the planet, I think about the ruling handed down from an Ecuadorean court for an $18 billion judgment against them, in response to violating the health and human rights of Indigenous communities in the Ecuadorian Amazon. ExxonMobil had their Oil Sands and the Economy promo, which was debunked in a piece by ThinkProgress for its failure to acknowledge the repercussions of global warming. (ExxonMobil has a series of videos posted on YouTube, for which all comments have been disabled.). However, the damage lives on.

So it was with interest that I looked into the story about three organizations that took a page from the PR books of the oil companies. They created a tongue-in-cheek ad of their own. It’s called, “Exxon Hates Your Children.” It features a man in a suit facetiously explaining the ExxonMobil business philosophy, the $10 billion in federal subsidies the oil companies receive annually, all while exuding an air of indifference about the climate crisis. A mixture of sardonic humor and razor-sharp political theater, the content is poised to become the focal point of a conversation that is much larger than solely environmental issues. It’s about who gets to put their message out to the public. Complete article

Thanks to their army of lawyers, lobbyists and propagandists large corporations have an enormous advantage, at least in the short term, when it comes to getting their point across, even though it is often much less reliable than their oppositions points which are often legitimate even if they aren't always perfect. Technically the satire about ExxonMobil "hating your children" might not be true but they clearly care much more about their profits than the lives of children and they are making an enormous amount of money off of the pollution that is already killing thousands if not millions of people around the world. As I indicated in Trade Secrecy laws provide license to commit negligent mass murder many corporations have been in many more environmental disasters than the mass media seems to imply since they report each one as an isolated incident and they often only report many of them in the local news without informing the public of the cumulative amount of damage which is already much worse than they let on.

The commercial media is presenting so much propaganda from the oil companies and allowing Monsanto to avoid any scrutiny and fly below the radar while many of the best researched critics are only able to present their research to those that seek them out. Monsanto successfully convinced the public in California to vote against their best interest with their expensive advertising campaign that controlled a lot of the information that the public had available to them. Part of what they did is convince people that their food would become more expensive if they had to add on the cost of labeling to it; this is only party true and ignore a much bigger expense that also has to be added on to the price of food, the cost of their own propaganda as well as the cost of regular advertising which is also deceptive in most cases. To pretend they have to pass on the cost of accurate information without acknowledging the fact that their inaccurate information is also a business expense that has to be passed on is the height of hypocrisy; and that is exactly what they did. they will almost certainly add more to the cost of food to cover their deception and now the consumers won't have accurate information to make their decisions so they lose both ways.

This tactic may be working with a large number of complacent people but it isn't working with those that pay more attention and if a growing number of people see the protests and hear from more alternative media outlets that actually do try to report the news then they will lose what little credibility they have left, assuming you think they have any left.

Montauk March Against Monsanto Gandhi quote

The following are some related articles including some from Timing Logic and Earth first who first pointed out some of the articles contributing to this blog:

Earth First: Facebook Removes March Against Monsanto Event

Timinglogic Facebook Censors Freedom Of Expression - Mom Who Protests Genetically-Modified Food

Reversing Autism on Facebook

Earth First: Removal of YouTube Tar Sands Satire Video Tied to Big Oil

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Eric Holder's crime speech ignores most important issues

Eric Holder's speech about crime and sentencing disparities comes way to late and does way to little; and it continues to ignore many of the most important issues including lack of opportunities, largely due to outsourcing or other economic problems for many of the poorest people including minorities; and more importantly the governments and the CIA's own role in escalating the spread of drugs, perhaps most notably crack cocaine, throughout the country including South Central.

The Obama administration hasn't done much if anything to overturn the excessive disparity between Crack and powder cocaine that is largely responsible for putting much more black people behind bars than white people. Nor does he even seem to consider the use of the pardon or commutation to release people much sooner or at least drastically reduce their sentences when they're blatantly unjustified.

Bruce Dixon and others at the Black Agenda Report have raised some important issues about this speech in the following article.

Holder & Obama Are Playing Us On Mandatory Minimums, the Drug War and Mass Incarceration by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Once or twice a year Eric Holder and/or the president discover police brutality, racial profiling, or the injustice of the drug war, or mass incarceration. Black America gets some sound bytes of “drive-by” concern, some noises about a study or a “policy change." But 55 months into the Obama administration, when we compare the prez and attorney general's words with their actions, black America looks like it's been played. Again.

After 55 months as US Attorney General, preceded by years as a remarkably vicious federal prosecutor, Eric Holder made what could have been a groundbreaking speech – if only he'd made it 50-some months ago and followed it up with four and half years of the persistent, wide ranging action needed to begin undoing and unraveling the prison state Let's stand Eric Holder's and this administration's expressions of concern over mass incarceration alongside its actual record of exercising the power in its hands. When we do, Eric Holder looks a lot like a lying hypocrite, and the administration looks like it's playing black America for a nation of chumps.

At no time in this 55 months have the White House, its Attorney General, or its allies in Congress ever seriously pushed for the repeal of mandatory minimum drug sentences, and there is no full court press on this now either. Holder merely says that he'll instruct federal D.A.s not to file drug charges which under federal law invoke the mandatory minimum sentences in small scale cases where the feds see no violence or gang affiliation. For all kinds of reasons federal D.A.s don't exactly and often will not follow these instructions. More importantly they can be quietly revoked at any time by this or any future attorney general, and none of it affects drug prosecutions under state law. That's a lot less than the sea change in the prosecution of the drug war you'd think happened if you watched CNN or MSNBC this week.

Changing a few rules and calling for a Department of Justice study would be a good start when you have and intend to use your next seven plus years in office to follow it up and make it stick. But more than half the Obama administration's time is up, including 24 months when they held majorities in both the House and Senate. It's late. And this is just a little.

Holder and Obama have established a pattern. Once or twice a year, generally but not always in front of black audiences, they pretend to have newly discovered police forces and prosecutors around the country routinely profile and stalk black males. They publicly admit, as if it's new news, that black and brown people are arrested more often, charged more aggressively, sentenced more harshly and serve longer sentences than whites. This very week Eric Holder uncovered the fact the US locks up too many people for too long, and that mass incarceration (though he won't use that term unless quoting the title of a certain book) ravages and punishes entire communities. But it's all talk.

What could the administration actually do?

Complete article

Prior to this relatively high profile speech Eric Holder was previously arguing to keep many African Americans in jail under some of the same laws that he now claims that he might not prosecute new defendants under, as indicated in a couple of the Black Agenda Report articles, Obama Administration Seeks to Keep Tens of Thousands Imprisoned Under Unfair Crack VS Powder Cocaine Penalties and Freedom Rider: Obama Fights to Keep Black People in Jail.

As the Black Agenda indicates Eric Holder seems to be very vocal about addressing this problem in his speech but now after only a week or so they already seem to be forgetting about it, as far as I can tell, and they seem to have moved on to the next obsession du jour. The one thing they declined to do, not surprisingly, is to mention any of the activities that the CIA have been involved or, at best, that they looked the other way while their allies smuggled a large amount of drugs to finance their activities in foreign policy. These activities have little or nothing to do with "protecting national security" as the CIA, the government and the traditional media routinely tell us.

A closer look at the actions of the CIA over the last six or so decades clearly seems to indicate that they never did have much if anything to do with protecting national security; instead they have been more involved in promoting their own ideology and propaganda. And there is an enormous amount of evidence from reliable sources, some of which are cited in this blog; when reviewing the facts from many of their sources it becomes clear that the work of the more credible sources does much better to stand up to scrutiny than the material presented by the government, assuming people take the time to check these sources.

Alfred McCoy author "The Politics of Heroin" wrote about the history of how the CIA was either looking the other way during the Vietnam war or perhaps even involved in the smuggling of heroin. This has been made more famous by "Air America" starring Mel Gibson; but McCoy's reporting is far more reliable. In the nineties Gary Webb author of "Dark Alliance" did similar investigative reporting on the smuggling of Cocaine by supporters of the Nicaraguan Contras. He provides an enormous amount of evidence to back this up including sources from professors that studies the epidemic, police that investigated, an enormous amount of testimony from many witnesses including many that were presented in court one way or another, either during trial or depositions etc. these are just a couple of the investigators into the CIAs involvement in drugs or at least their complicity in looking the other way.

Additional investigators into this subject include Maxine Waters, Celerino Castillo III, Alexander Cockburn, Peter Dale Scott, Terry Reed, Bo Gritz and many others from a variety of different backgrounds and when reviewing their work there can be little doubt that there is an enormous amount to this even if there are also some inevitable mistakes that are to be expected when dealing with testimony from some people with something to hide. One of the highest profile sources is the Kerry report which was investigated approximately the same time as the Iran-Contra scandal although it received little or no attention from the media. The traditional media rarely ever seems to try to cover this but they don't deny it either; or at least they don't do it in a credible manner.

The preferred method for the commercial media, or the political establishment, to handle this is to ignore it and hope no one pays attention. When that doesn't work they often use ridicule to dismiss it; or appeals to emotion or authority. One thing that they rarely if ever do is actually address the details. If this was "absolute garbage" as some of the skeptics claim, including Oliver North who used that phrase to respond to Gary Webb's book, then the appropriate way to debunk it is to address the details and refute them.

They don't do this!

This method of "debunking" might fool some people that don't pay too much attention but sincere people that do check the details will almost certainly come to the conclusion that there is a lot to this even if all the details haven't been fully explained. A lot of what the CIA has been doing is propping up the elite ruling classes in other countries so that they would promote their ideology at the expense of the majority in their countries and in some cases at the expense of those with the least amount of political power in this country as well. This largely includes those with the least amount of education and minorities.

This selective reporting of the news by the high profile media and the political establishment has led to a situation where there are, generally speaking, at least two perceived versions of reality that many people are led to believe. One for a relatively small percentage of the public that take the time to sort through alternative media outlets for more reliable reports on the news that hopefully come somewhat close to the truth; and another that accept the version of truth that is presented by the media and political establishment. If some of the later pay enough attention they will notice that there are often changes and contradictions so they might become skeptical and start considering different version.

There are also, as the mainstream media routinely implies, plenty of irrational fringe conspiracy theorists which they often highlight and attempt to stereotype the rational researches as being like. This creates the risk that some of the more complacent people that start to doubt the government version which often becomes as irrational as the fringe theorists might start recognizing that even the fringe theorists get some things right, or at least closer to the truth than the government and they might wind up following them instead of seeking out the more reliable sources to get their information.

After reviewing this material it becomes clear that many of the African American's in jail are there as a result of a sophisticated form of entrapment. African Americans have much fewer opportunities to get the education they need and they also have fewer job opportunities and the political establishment, including the Obama administration continues to support efforts to suppress wages for those few jobs that are available by outsourcing as many of these jobs as possible so that the supply of work will be low and it will drive the wages down. With consolidated control of most of the businesses, or oligarchies, that control the economy they can avoid real competition and drive prices up or suppress quality so that consumers receive little or no benefit from the "competition" which only seems to apply to workers who must compete not oligarchies who divide up the market and use their dominant economic control to pass on the cost of their political activities to their customers who have no place lse to go for their products.

Eric Holder and the rest of the political establishment, including Mayor Bloomberg, also fail to consider some of the most credible research into the root causes of crime and statistical evidence that contradicts their assumptions. this has been indicated in the way they've been handling the recent ruling on stop and frisk. Some of them, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Ray Kelly and their supporters have been debating this as if this is a major cause for New York's drop in crime. It isn't hard to find evidence to refute this including an article from Mother Jones, America's Real Criminal Element: Lead, although they may not come to all the right conclusions either. This article points out numerous statistics about crime including the claim that "violent crime actually peaked in New York City in 1990, four years before the Giuliani-Bratton era," and long before they started this foolish and UN-Constitutional policy. This article also points out the statistics indicating that violent crime have gone down elsewhere as well; and reminds people of previous claims that there was a coming epidemic of "juvenile super-predators" coming as a result of a growing number of young males. this epidemic never materialized.

Mayor Bloomberg claims with conviction that this ruling is going to reverse the reduction of murder that began long before the stop and frisk policy that he claims prevented this murder; it seems to have less credibility than the warnings of "juvenile super-predators" which have turned out to be false. Rick Nevin and the article explore the possibility that lead might be a more credible cause for reduction in crime. I don't know whether or not this is a contributing factor or not; his research is certainly worth looking at and it is probably far more credible than the claims that come from Mayor Bloomberg which don't have any credibility at all, as far as I can tell. Unfortunately most politicians, including Mayor Bloomberg, seem far more interested in their own ideologies and agenda than figuring out what is true and basing their policies on it. However I suspect that even if lead is a contributing factor to the reduction in crime it almost certainly isn't the only one or even the leading one.

As I have indicated in previous blogs including Does child abuse and bullying lead to more violence? and Child abuse and bullying link in study long over due I believe there is an enormous amount of evidence to indicate that early child upbringing and often abuse is a leading contributing cause to crime and I suspect that the reduction in violent crime around the country is almost certainly a result of the change in child rearing tactics that have been taking place over the last fifty yeas or so.

In addition to the sources that I have cited in previous blogs there is also additional statistical evidence that corporal punishment is probably a contributing factor according to a study by John Guthrow in December 2002, Correlation Between High Rates of Corporal Punishment in Public Schools and Social Pathologies. This is just one of many statistical studies to support this assumption and it is also supported by other types of research as indicated in my previous blogs on the subject. A couple of the relatively simple statistical findings that this study show is: Of the states with the ten highest murder rates in the United States, educators paddle children in eight of them; Of the states with the ten lowest murder rates in the nation, educators paddle children in one of them; Of the ten states with the highest percentage of the population in prison, educators paddle children in nine of them; and Of the ten states with the lowest percentage of the population in prison, educators do not paddle children in any of them.

These statistics aren't enough to establish cause and effect; there may be other factors as well; but they do provide strong indicators that there is almost certainly a connection one way or another and additional research supports this. It is much easier to determine whether corporal punishment is widely practiced in schools than it is in homes, which would also be a major contributing factor. However there is a strong possibility that the states that support corporal punishment in schools also have a large percentage of the population that use it at home as well and this would also contribute to escalating violence.

Neither Eric Holder or many if any of the leading political figures or the mass media report on these things but they are among the most important and credible research that could lead to a dramatic reduction in crime and prison populations. It has been widely disclosed recently that the USA has 5% of the worlds population and 25% of the worlds prison population; but there is little effort to understand why. Neither the media or the political establishment do much if anything to try to figure out what other countries are doing differently any more than they promote the most reliable information the public needs to participate in the decision making process.

The media and the political establishment continue to demonstrate that they're more interested in their own political agenda and implementing it regardless of how much evidence there is that it is counter-productive and virtually guaranteed to backfire.

They've become so accustomed to promoting their own ideology to the public that it appears as if they might believe many of their own lies by now and that they can't be relied on for reliable information or trusted to do the simplest things. The few times that they do make a token change that is positive it is only after a major grass roots effort to pressure them to do so.

Until there is enough pressure from below to implement major changes, and perhaps "throw all the bums out" as many people call for, there is little chance of major solutions.

The following are some related stories or books including extensive research about the CIAs involvement in drugs or at minimum looking the other way while their allies smuggled them:

Holder’s Remarks At American Bar Association As Prepared For Delivery

The Kerry Report formally called "Selections from the Senate Committee Report on Drugs, Law Enforcement and Foreign Policy" chaired by Senator John F. Kerry

Alfred McCoy The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade This appears to be the first addition published in the seventies; it was followed up by a second and third edition with additional material that occurs in the eighties nineties and shortly after the turn of the century.

Gary Webb "Dark Alliance" original articles along with follow up coverage and court transcripts

Gary Webb "Dark Alliance" Book

Celerino Castillo III "Powderburns" book

Celerino Castillo III "Powderburns" Home page

Terry Reed Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA

The Influence of Corporal Punishment on Crime by Adah Maurer, Ph.D. and James S. Wallerstein (1987)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wal-Mart high crime rate continues uninvestigaterd

Wal-Mart Shootings

Previously I did a blog about Wal-Mart shoplifting vigilantism gone wild? where I focused primarily on the unusually large problems they have with shoplifting and how they often overreact and that a lot of this was almost certainly partially a result of policies made at the corporate office. This conclusion was partially backed up by a statistical study, "Is Wal-Mart Safe?" based on incidents in 2004, (PDF) which showed that they had four times as many incidents at Wal-Mart than their closest competitor, Target, among other problems. As far as I know there haven't been any other high profile studies that have been done since then but Wal-Mart Shootings have been compiling a list of many of the highest profile incidents that were gun related. These aren't statistically adequate for comparisons with other stores or enough to determine if they're caused by Wal-Mart policies; but a close look at some of these incidents combined with a look at some of Wal-Marts policies indicates that this is a major possibility worth considering especially when considering the statistical back up from the 2006 study. As reported in “Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices.” a study done by Wal-Mart (available at Walmart Shootings) indicates they could reduce assaults in their parking lots almost to zero by posting a roving guard; but instead of doing so they squashed the study, presumably so they could save money on security. This doesn't seem to be a problem when it comes to security for stolen goods.

Research that supports the best interest of the majority of the public and raises doubts about the methods used to maximize profits routinely has a hard time getting funding.

Propaganda that supports corporate interests and biased research has much more funding and when it is done it routinely gets much better treatment from the press and the political establishment even when it is seriously flawed. 

Their problems might go beyond shoplifting and assaults as well as other crimes that were addressed in the study. They may also have a major problem with employees that strike out against oppressive policies by Wal-Mart. The vast majority of employees are almost certainly not involved in this, as may be indicated by the large number of protests that have been escalating over the last couple of years. However these protests and legitimate grievances aren't new and they haven't been overly successful, so far in bringing about changes that protect workers right. It is inevitable that a relatively small percentage of people might strike out as a result of this and in some cases they might do it with extreme measures.

There have been at least four high profile cases where employees planned assaults, killings or hostages of their co-workers or managers. In at least one case the perpetrator who shot three managers told a police officer he wanted to “get even and embarrass Wal-Mart.” A typical response to these incidents might be "that's no excuse," which would be true if you consider the definition of "excuse" a justifiable reason for committing a crime; however it may still be the reason for it even if it isn't justifiable. Furthermore there are many more people that don't go to extremes to express their grievances and they aren't addressed. If the government or the companies don't fix the lack of fairness because of the people that go to extremes then they should do it for those that don't go to extremes and attempt to address their problems through reasonable means.

Unfortunately this doesn't happen; and this is almost certainly a major contributing factor to their high rate of incidents.

Another major problem that they've been having for years appears to be an enormous number of bomb threats; however there doesn't seem to be much media coverage of this except at the local level and they treat the vast majority of them as isolated incidents. On the rare occasions where the news stories about these do acknowledge the fact that they are quite common they still don't seem to report on how many bomb threats there are. Few if any of them are in my area and while preparing this blog I was unaware that they were going on at all until I was almost done compiling links about other types of crimes when I found two stories about bomb threats in different states and they were both treated as isolated incidents without acknowledging the other. It didn't take long after that to find out that there have been dozens of them going on over the past few months and when I looked for more it is clear that there have been many more over the years. Without further investigation it is hard to tell how many there are but there almost certainly have hundreds if not thousands of bomb threats over the years.

Most if not all of these bomb threats seem to have been false alarms; however they continue to treat most of them as real threats often closing the stores and evacuating the stores at an enormous expense to the store and the taxpayers. One reason why they may feel they have to do this is that although most of the threats have been false there have also been at least nine incidents where bombs have exploded, presumably without bomb threats in most cases, at Wal-Mart including one incident where there was over $12,000 worth of damage and another where five people were injured. The few examples where they caught people that were suspected of calling in these threats didn't mention their motives. I don't know for certain but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that at least some of these people were angry at Wal-Mart and like the employees who carried out shootings in response to their grievances I wouldn't consider these hypothetical grievances excuses or justifiable reasons for calling these bomb threats but it might be considered all the more reason why they should do more to address the grievances of those who use legitimate means to raise their complaints. There are plenty of other sources to indicate that there have been an enormous amount of problems with Wal-Mart and most people can't get any help from either the corporate office, the government or the media. The corporate office is run by people that only seem to be interested in profit; the media is collecting an enormous amount of advertising dollars from Wal-Mart, not to mention the possibility that they may have interlocking board members; and the government is run by politicians that are more concerned about serving the interests of their campaign contributors including Wal-Mart than the public.

My point isn't that all my conclusions are conclusive; with the information available I wouldn't come to that conclusion. My point is that there is an enormous amount of information to indicate that there are major problems and that the research on it isn't adequate; however there is enough research, including more studies listed below, to indicate that there are major problems and even though all the details aren't conclusive it is clear that Wal-Mart policies are a major contributing factor to them. Wal-Mart responded to the crime study in, Response to Wake Up Wal-Mart’s Crime Study Release; this relatively brief response fails to address the vast majority of the problems raised by the original study and focuses on a few minor issues which it raises about the sampling used for the study. It includes a link to what they refer to as an "independent analysis discussing the defects in the UFCW study;" however the link they provide is no longer active; and many corporations, including Wal-Mart, have a history of either financing their own studies which tend to be biased or misrepresenting other studies. they decline to provide any link to the study they are refuting so unless someone knows where to look they might not realize how many problems there are with their rebuttal. Unlike many other researchers they decline to call for more research which is almost always helpful. They seem to expect people to accept their word for it and pretend their isn't a problem. Their inadequate response to this problem is typical, as indicated in one of the earliest crimes listed below where one of their employees stole a truck while it was being repaired at Sam's Club and Wal-Mart initially refused to accept any responsibility and told the owner of the truck that he should raise his complaint with the former employee who was in jail, had no money and the truck was already stripped for parts. It wasn't until after it became a national story where Wal-Mart agreed to compensate him. this reluctance to address problems unless they absolutely have to has been going on since. Instead of competing for business and maintaining a good reputation they rely on political connections to enable their growth; but that is almost certainly coming to an end.

They have even more problems during the Christmas season and as I explained in, Why no discussion on preventing Black Friday Riots in the media? I have no doubt that if they did more research into that as well they would almost certainly find that Wal-Mart policies are a major contributing factor that cases the annual Black Friday Riots. Many of these crimes involve low income people that have much fewer educational and economic opportunities especially with the outsourcing and wage suppression that is being led by Wal-Mart among other corporations. The usual claim would of course be that this is no excuse and that we shouldn't blame society. this is a very simple and easy answer that many people might be willing to accept; however there is enough research available, if people are willing to look at it, to indicate that if we did more to address social problems that these incidents could be dramatically reduced. this doesn't mean that Wal-Mart is the sole contributing cause of crime or even the leading one; as indicated in other posts I have no doubt that the biggest contributing cause to violence and other crimes is almost certainly early child abuse that leads to more violence later in life. However it is almost certainly a contributing cause; and as long as corporations have excessive control over the political establishment we can't even address other problems properly. Wal-Mart executives also support ALEC which is promoting many other conservative causes that are detrimental to society in other ways as well.

There problems have become so extreme that even if they can convince the media and the political establishment to continue to look the other way they can't hide it.

The following are some additional studies that have been done about Wal-Mart:

Do Big-Box Stores Help Create Hate Groups? Study Says Yes

Study Says The More Walmarts In The Area, The More Hate Groups There Are

Study Exposes Wal-Mart Crime and Safety Issues

Key Studies on Big-Box Retail & Independent Business

Reports and Economic Impact Studies on Wal-Mart and Big Box Development

Recent headlines about Wal-Mart which at any given time will involve additional problems with crime. For comparisons sake this headline search can be done for their competitors if your inclined to do so. When I did so I didn't find nearly as many stories about other stores; but their competitors don't have nearly as many stores. For statistical purposes the 2006 study is almost certainly more reliable pending further research.

The following are some of the crime stories that I found dating back at least to 2000 and a few incidents from the nineties. To minimize redundancy I didn't include many of the stories covered in either Wal-Mart shoplifting vigilantism gone wild? or Wal-Mart Shootings. When it comes to gun related crimes since January of 2012 Walmart Shootings provides a much more comprehensive list of incidents; however there are still a few they missed and this list also includes many incidents beyond their gun related criteria. They're listed in approximate chronological order; however some of them might be dated according to the time the articles were posted, especially when they refer to court proceedings months after the incident.

Truck Stolen, Stripped, But Still Gets Owner Runaround December 13, 1995|Mike Royko

One of the great success stories of our time is Wal-Mart. That homespun company really knows how to make money.

And Eric Matthys, a customer, says he recently got an idea of why they have done so well.

Matthys, 28, of St. Charles, Ill., needed some new tires for his pickup truck, so he went to Sam's Club, a Wal-Mart warehouse outlet that sells all sorts of basic stuff.

"I bought the tires, then drove around to the service area where they put the tires on. They said it would be done in 45 minutes to an hour, so I went and did shopping.

"When I came back, the employee I had dealt with asked me if I got my truck. I said, no, I was just coming for it. We looked around and the truck wasn't to be seen. Then he said that an employee had been finishing his shift just about the time I brought the truck in. The employee was gone and so was my truck." .....

"I told him that this was something other people might like to hear about, and that really got him mad. He warned me that I could be held liable for anything bad I said against Wal-Mart. I told him that I didn't see how I could be held liable for the truth.

"Then later I got a call from someone named Becky at that office who told me that Wal-Mart isn't responsible for the actions of its employees. That's something. One of their employees is in jail for stealing my truck while it was in the care of Sam's Club, but they say they aren't responsible. I don't have the financial resources to take on Wal-Mart. But they don't give me any choice. Complete article

99 Verdicts Against Wal-Mart (As of September 1999)

This compilation, 99 Verdicts Against Wal-Mart, is the first effort of the Wal-Mart Litigation Project. This collection of cases is the first of its kind - an attempt to publish a cross-section of plaintiff-favorable results against the nation's largest retailer.

The purpose of 99 Verdicts Against Wal-Mart is to educate plaintiffs' lawyers about cases similar to their own against Wal-Mart and facilitate communication between plaintiffs' lawyers on issues of discovery, law and litigation tactics.

Wal-Mart is sued two to five times each day somewhere in the United States. These cases involve slip-and-falls, falling merchandise, and false imprisonment/malicious prosecution. They also involve suits brought by employees alleging various kinds of discrimination. Also, the company is sued on a wide range of matters such as pharmacy malpractice, defective products, broken contracts with vendors, and copyright violations.

The following is a representative sample of lawsuits involving Wal-Mart. Complete article

Shooting Outside Wal-Mart Kills Two 06/12/1999

Man Shoots Wife, Kills Self In Pottstown Store Brian Midgette, 47, Chased Marsha Midgette, 45, In Wal-mart, Where She Worked. She Was Hospitalized. 08/31/2000

Howard Wal-Mart employee charged with assault 01/26/2001

Teens Charged With Setting Off Bombs in Maine Wal-Mart 11/26/2006

Five people were injured in an explosion at a Wal-Mart in Sylva, which is west of Asheville. 09/26/2007

Press Release Assault at Walmart Blvd - Hudson NH Police Department 10/09/2007

Updated: Jacksonville Wal-Mart Employee Opens Fire Inside Store, Creating Chaos 03/24/2008 A man accused of shooting up the new Jacksonville Walmart made his first court appearance Monday.

Police say 18 year old Elijah Payne was working there at the time. They say he went on an employee break from his shift around 2:30 A.M. That's when he reportedly went to his car, grabbed a sawed off shotgun and covered his face in cami paint. Police say Payne held about 15 people hostage in an employee breakroom no one was injured in the attack.

Payne's charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and manufacturing a weapon of mass destruction. He's due in court again on April 14th. Complete article

Is Wal-Mart’s Lack Of Security To Blame For What Could Have Ended Up A Mass-Killing? 03/24/2008

Explosive Device Discovered at a Boone Wal-Mart 07/20/2008


Assaulted Walmart Greeter Sues Police Officer and Chattanooga Police Department 02/05/2009

Wal-Mart Bomb Threats Part of National Movement 02/20/2009

1 teen wounded; 1 arrested in NH Wal-Mart shooting 03/04/2009

Homemade bomb explodes at Maryland Wal-Mart 03/16/2009

Wal-Mart employee injured in shooting with co-worker 07/09/2009

Walmart Back Open After Bomb Threat 08/09/2013

Montana Police Release Man Who Shot Co-Worker at Wal-Mart Due to State’s Sweeping “Castle Doctrine” Law 08/14/2009

For most prosecutors, it would seem an easy criminal case. Daniel Lira, 32, was working inside Wal-Mart’s loading dock area when he got into an argument with co-worker Craig Schmidt, 49. He ended up hitting Schmidt in the face. Schmidt responded by pulling out a .25-caliber semiautomatic Beretta handgun and shooting Lira in the head from as little as 10 feet away. Yellowstone County Attorney Dennis Paxinos, however, released Schmidt in light of Montana’s “castle doctrine law” which allows citizens to use potentially lethal force in self-defense — despite the escalation in the level of force by Schmidt from a fist fight to a shooting. Complete article

Remembering the Walmart bomb threat/CorTrust robbery, one year ago today 09/16/2009

UPDATE: Police arrest Racine man for Mount Pleasant Walmart Shooting 10/18/2009

Walmart Greeter Ed Bauman Fired for Defending Himself After Getting Punched by Customer 01/12/2010

2 Arrested in Aggravated Assault at Walmart 05/30/2010

Attempted Robbery At Wal-Mart In Fayetteville Where Shots Were Fired 09/17/2010

SUTHERLAND v. WAL MART STORES INC: 10/02/2010 Her allegations included maintenance of a hostile work environment based on sex discrimination and retaliation for reporting sex discrimination,

Worker shot 3 managers to 'get even and embarrass Wal-Mart,' jurors told 10/28/2010

Last year, a disgruntled Wal-Mart employee allegedly crept into the Reno store where he worked carrying two guns and a thirst for revenge.

John Gillane bought a box of .44-caliber bullets. Then, police say, he shot and wounded three managers, one of whom had given him a bad work evaluation.

The threat subsided only after Gillane, now 46, spoke for hours with Reno Police Officer Patrick O’Bryan, according to testimony in Gillane's trial, which is expected to last another week. .....

Gillane, a nine-year Wal-Mart employee, was broke, anxious and depressed. Over two hours, he told O’Bryan that he wanted to “get even and embarrass Wal-Mart,” O’Bryan testified, according to the Reno paper. “I told him he got his wish.” Complete article

John Gillane found guilty but What about Wal-Mart? 12/14/2011

HPD: Homemade bomb explodes at southwest Houston Walmart 11/04/2010

One dead, one injured in shooting at west Huntsville Walmart 12/06/2010

Two killed, two deputies injured in shooting at Port Orchard Walmart 01/23/2011

Fayetteville police arrest 2 in Walmart armed robbery 02/04/2011

Two arrested in attack of elderly Walmart greeter 03/27/2011

Sexual Predators and Serial Rapists Run Wild at Wal-Mart Supplier in Jordan 06/07/2011

Young women workers raped, tortured and beaten at the Classic Factory

According to witnesses who work at Classic Fashion, scores of young Sri Lankan women sewing clothing for Wal-Mart and Hanes have suffered routine sexual abuse and repeated rapes, and in some cases even torture. One young rape victim at the Classic factory in Jordan told us her assailant, a manager, bit her, leaving scars all over her body. Women who become pregnant are forcibly deported and returned to Sri Lanka. Women who refuse the sexual advances of Classic's managers are also beaten and deported. Complete article

Four arrested in Walmart robbery 06/10/2011

One Dead, One in Custody Following Mount Pleasant Walmart Stabbing 10/04/2011

MCSO: Explosive device found at Valley Walmart 11/24/2011

Chardon: Bomb threat forces Walmart evacuation 11/26/2011

Walmart bomb scare leads to arrest 12/03/2011

Danbury police charge 2 in Walmart parking lot shooting 12/23/2011

Sisters stabbed at Providence Walmart 11/25/2011

2 charged in Jacksonville Walmart parking lot shooting 12/27/2011

Man at Virginia Walmart distribution center opens fire, injuring manager and then killing himself 02/22/2012

33-year-old Melvin D. Taylor, Jr. "just didn't seem together" the day he showed up for his job at a Dinwiddie, Virginia Walmart distribution center. After his lunch break, he walked to the back of the building and opened fire, injuring 40-year-old Wynette Starks, a manager at the facility, in the leg. He then exited the building, where police were arriving, and had a shoot-out with them. Taylor then committed suicide. Complete article

Mr. Melvin D. Taylor, Jr. obituary

UPDATE: Gunshots Came After Walmart Shoplifting 04/16/2012

Walmart Bomb Threats Spread Across The Midwest Over The Weekend 07/30/2012

Wal-Mart assault trial set to begin Monday 08/17/2012

Walmart employee arrested for alleged police assault 08/28/2012

Man Arrested for Allegedly Kissing Random Women at Wal-Mart 09/13/2012

The Eunice Police Department responded to Wal-Mart in reference to an alleged battery complaint. A female Wal-Mart employee stated that an unknown man, later identified as Randy Butcher, tried to talking to her and when she tried to walk away he grabbed her and started kissing her. The employee managed to finally get away and notified her supervisor who called police while Butcher was still inside the store.

A second female victim was a customer shopping in the store. She said she was also approached by Randy Butcher who asked for her phone number while complementing her. At that moment the female victims said her boyfriend walked into the aisle and confronted Butcher when he observed his behavior. This victim also reported him to a Wal-Mart supervisor. Complete article

Walmart Evacuated Due To Bomb Threat 09/22/2012

Assaulted & Fired at Wal-Mart, Mom Says 10/03/2012

"Buck Bomb" at Chambersburg Wal-Mart causes $12,840 in damage 10/10/2012

Shopper Assaulted Over Wal-Mart Pumpkin by Al Norman 10/16/2012

Rockey Carter is asking Wal-Mart for an apology. But he is unlikely to get one.

On October 16th, Carter was shopping at a Wal-Mart in McKinney, Texas. "I walked through the store selecting the items on my list, and sorted them in my basket according to food type as I normally do," Carter told me. "At the last minute I decided it would be fun to pick up one or two pumpkins for my wife's party. I went to the lawn and garden center because the pumpkins are located outside the store." Complete article

Ontario jury awards former Walmart employee $1.46 million for constructive dismissal 10/19/2012

Juvenile charged with second-degree assault after incident at Walmart 11/13/2012

Walmart evacuated 'Perceived threat' brings a chaotic start to Black Friday shoppers 11/22/2012

Fayetteville Walmart hit by armed robbers Thursday night 12/14/2012

Customers frightened as man brings assault rifle into Walmart 12/18/2012

Walmart Employee Pinned to Ground by Coworkers After Coming to Work Drunk 12/28/2012

A Redding Walmart employee is facing criminal charges after officers said he came to work drunk and then threatened his co-workers while they pinned him down.

The incident was all caught on camera by Bryant Krause. He said he filmed it because he doesn't think it was fair for the supervisors to keep him on the ground.

Officers said 21 year old Kevin Pokorney was threatening those co-workers and that they were worried about their safety. Complete article

Middle Eastern Man Shot In Face For Dating A White Woman (VIDEO) 01/03/2013

Police: Exploding chemical bomb at Wichita Wal-Mart may have been a diversion tactic for theft 01/17/2013

Deputy injured at Boiling Springs Walmart; suspect arrested after brief chase 02/08/2013

Shoplifter who bit Yakima Wal-Mart officer gets 3 years in prison 03/05/2013

Workers win! Wal-mart warehouse workers fired and charged with theft after pursuing sexual assault charges against management, found innocent. 03/07/2013

Manhattan resident Priscilla Marshall was an 18-year-old warehouse worker when she reported that she was sexually harassed and abused by a boss to the Elwood Police Department in August 2010. Warehouse supervisors claimed Marshall and three family members were running a theft ring and all were fired.

Four Elwood warehouse workers who were fired and charged with theft after one of them reported being sexually harassed at work have had the criminal charges against them dropped. Complete article

Walmart Employee Assaulted 03/17/2013

San Jose police: Seaside man drove into Walmart, assaulted staff and customers 04/01/2013

SAN JOSE -- In a story that is racking up national headlines, police say a drug-addled Seaside native crashed his car into an East San Jose Walmart and bludgeoned customers and an employee with a blunt object before he was tackled by onlookers Sunday morning.

Haamid Ade Zaid, 33, was booked into Santa Clara County jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, hit and run, being under the influence of drugs and resisting arrest, according to the San Jose Police Department. He was identified as a Seaside resident by police, but a relative said he now lives in San Jose. Complete article

Army officer attacked at Walmart in Albany 04/13/2013

Police: Area woman threatened to shoot Amsterdam co-workers 05/06/2013

AMSTERDAM - A "disgruntled employee" of Walmart allegedly threatened to shoot two fellow employees Sunday, according to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department.

Cassandra A. Downs, 32, of 1040 University Place, Schenectady, was charged with second-degree harassment, a violation, and menacing, a misdemeanor, according to a report from the Sheriff's Department. ....

Reports were received that Downs had made a "hit list" of other employees. Smith could not confirm how many or who was on the list. Complete article

Woman threatens to shoot Wal-Mart coworkers 05/05/2013

Bomb squad called to Beaufort Walmart after suspicious objects found in vehicles 05/09/2013

Police Respond to Bomb Threat at Walmart 06/18/2013

Bomb Threat Closes Bedford Walmart 06/20/2013

Vacaville, California police shoot, kill man, 21, in car 06/29/2013

Russellville police seek 2 for Wal-Mart bomb threat 07/04/2013

Police Arrest Walmart Bomb Threat Caller 07/10/2013

Cops: Man, 22, Threw Semen On Walmart Shopper 07/11/2013

JULY 11--A Delaware man threw semen on a female customer shopping at Walmart Tuesday afternoon, police allege.

Cops arrested Frank J. Short Jr., 22, on an assortment of charges in connection with the repulsive incident at the store in New Castle. Short, seen in the below mug shot, was booked into a Wilmington jail, from which he was later released on bail. Complete article

Zimmerman verdict protesters attack TV reporter, storm Wal-Mart 07/16/2013

Walmart Employee Knocks Out Store Manager in Break Room Fistfight (Video)

A Walmart employee was caught on cell phone video punching out his manager after a heated argument in the employee break room.

The employee appears to be arguing with the manager about something that happened with a shopping cart the night before.

“Ma'am, don’t take up for him because this man is a racist,” the employee tells a coworker who is trying to diffuse the situation.

“He is a racist, and I am a freaking veteran," he continues. "Nobody is going to stand there and disrespect me for doing what I’m supposed to do!" Complete article

Walmart Reopens After Bomb Threat 07/22/2013

Powell: Store worker claims gang membership 07/23/2013

False Bomb Threat Gets Pedro Man in Jail 07/25/2013

Police Believe Walmart Bomb Threats are Connected 07/30/2013

Bomb threat at Walmart 07/31/3013

Local Walmart receives bomb threat 08/07/2013

Gastonia man arrested for showing privates at area Walmart, police say 08/08/2013

Walmart worker pepper sprayed after asking to check receipt 08/08/2013

Walmart Back Open After Bomb Threat 08/09/2013

Goose Creek Walmart evacuated for suspicious package 08/09/2013

Walmart in Avon Evacuated 08/11/2013

Homeless mom, daughter accused of stealing from Pasco Walmart 08/12/2013

Robber boldly hits bank in Fayetteville Walmart 08/12/2013

Machete-wielding man robs Mesa Walmart 08/13/2013

Man arrested in Walmart parking lot after robbery08/14/2013

Man wanted for attempted strong arm robbery outside Royal Palm Beach Walmart 08/14/2013

Man stabbed to death in Walmart parking lot 08/14/2013

Man takes a cab to rob Walmart store 08/14/2013

Dickinson police investigate possible suicide in Walmart parking lot 08/14/2013

Suspect in Neenah Walmart shooting held on attempted homicide charge 08/15/2013

NEENAH — Police have identified the suspect in the Walmart shooting Wednesday as Justine Boyd, 46, of Greenville.

Police Chief Kevin Wilkinson said Boyd was booked into the Winnebago County Jail on a charge of attempted first-degree intentional homicide. He said both Boyd and the 56-year-old Neenah woman she shot are Walmart employees, and the two were working when the shooting occurred in the liquor section of the store at 1155 W. Winneconne Ave.

The victim, a clerk in the liquor section, was taken by ambulance to Theda Clark Medical Center. Lt. John Karner said she was shot once in the torso. Complete article

Strange things happen at Wal-Mart!!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Trade Secrecy laws provide license to commit negligent mass murder

Thanks, in part, to trade secrecy laws and the absence of disclosure laws many energy and chemical companies have been dumping toxic waste, mainly in areas where people without much if any political power, for decades. There have been dozens if not hundreds or even thousands of cases where this has been exposed and they have been reluctantly and partially addressed. These include a handful of cases that have received an enormous amount of attention, for a little while anyway, as well as many more that haven't received much attention at all. The most widely known examples include the Love Canal in New York pollution by PG&E made famous by Erin Brockovich, and a site in Massachusetts exposed in the film A Civil Action staring John Travolta.There are few if any attempts to inform the vast majority of the public just how common these incidents are.

(This is a follow up to my previous post about Why Do We Have Trade Secrets? Professor Michael Risch's defense of fraud?; after I posted about his study, Michael Risch responded to my views; both his comments and my own additional ones are on the blog.)

In most if not all of these cases hiding the pollution may have been made easier as a result of trade secrecy laws that make few if any exceptions for activities that might endanger lives, especially for those with little or no political power. These trade secrecy laws enable them to require and enforce non-disclosure agreements from employees that make it illegal to inform the public when they're dumping toxic chemicals in areas where it might endanger the public. Even if these laws can't be enforced in many cases the employees may be led to believe that they can and they often face retaliation when they disclose information even if it isn't legal.

The use of trade secrecy laws haven't been the only contributing factor when it comes to allowing the enormous amount of environmental destruction going on around the world but they have made it much easier for energy companies to keep a low profile and with the help of the commercial media that reports one incident at a time as an isolated occasion without reporting on the vast majority of them or taking a comprehensive look at how widespread the damage is environmental damage has escalated especially among the poor.

And it is clearly already leading to an enormous amount of deaths which might be considered negligent mass murder if enough people took a closer look at it. One of the leading reasons that it isn't considered mass murder is because most people don't take a closer look; and this is because an enormous amount of the information is kept secret and on top of that they often create many industry funded studies which in some cases might even get more attention than the more reliable studies that don't have industry funds behind them.

Instead of passing disclosure laws to prevent dumping toxic waste in areas where they might lead to epidemic levels of contamination making people sick or even killing them they often pass trade secrecy laws masking it harder to inform the public about dangers to their health.

If a poor person were to pollute the property of a rich person he would almost certainly be prosecuted for it; however, thanks in part to trade secrecy laws, corporate profits are protected more than the lives of those that live in areas where these corporations often dump toxic chemicals!

Many of the worst offenses are almost certainly in third world countries. In 1991 Lawrence Summers even wrote a memo suggesting that we export pollution to less developed countries. Several people including Michael Kinsley have claimed that this memo wasn't intended as policy but to stir up debate and bring about solutions. This might be a rational defense for the memo if they actually did it instead of actually implementing it as policy. Michael Kinsley even went so far as to say that it "was obviously meant to stimulate thinking and not to be implemented as policy;" but then he went on to try to argue that it was actually a good idea and that they would be helping the poor people by implementing this policy in, "Revisiting One Lawrence Summers Controversy."

So far I haven't heard anyone claim that Michael Kinsley's article was intended to be sarcastic or stir up debate.

However this isn't limited to third word countries as several researchers including Robert Bullard, author of "Dumping in Dixie" clearly indicated in some of his research. He started by investigating pollution that was concentrated in areas populated by the poor especially African Americans in Texas; and found that there were many other areas throughout the south where the same thing was happening. One of those areas was Alsen Louisiana as indicated in the following excerpt:

Dumping in Dixie by Robert Bullard as cited in American Earth edited by Bill McKibben

Alsen is an unincorporated community located on the Mississippi river several miles north of Baton Rouge, Louisiana's state capital. The community had a population of 1,104 individuals in 1980 of whom 98/9 percent were black. Alsen developed as a rural community of black landowners to its present status as a stable, working class suburban enclave. The median income for families in 1980 was $17,188. A total of 19.4 percent of Alsen's residents are below the poverty level, a percentage well below that of blacks nationally and in Louisiana. .... The local residents have roots in the community dating back several generations.

Alsen lies at the beginning of the 85-mile industrial corridor where one-quarter of America's petrochemicals are produced. The Chemical corridor begins in Baton Rouge and follows the Mississippi River down to the southeastern rim of New Orleans. The tiny town of Alsen sits in the shadow of Huey Long's skyscraper controlled building and the towering petrochemical plants that dot the Mississippi River. This area also has been dubbed the "cancer corridor" because the air air ground and water are full of carcinogens, mutagens, and embroyotoxins. the area has been described as a "massive human experiment" and a "national sacrifice zone."

The petrochemical industry has played an important role in Louisiana's economy, especially south Louisiana. More than 165,000 persons were employed in the states petrochemical industry at its peak in 1982. this single industry accounted for one out of every three tax dollars collected by the state. The Baton Rouge area has paid a high price — industrial pollution — for the concentration of so many chemical companies in its midst. These companies discharge more than 150,000 tons of pollutants into the city's air each year. The bulk of these air pollutants are in the form of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxides, and hydrocarbons.

..... Much of this waste was shipped into south Louisiana. In 1986, the state had 33.2 percent of the nations total permitted hazardous-waste landfill capacity among active sites. Much of Louisiana's hazardous waste generated by the petrochemical industries is dumped in the Baton Rouge area. the only commercial hazardous waste site in the Baton Rouge area is the Rollins Environmental Services faculty, located adjacent to the Alsen community. The Rollins site was the fourth largest in the nation, representing 11.3 percent of remaining permitted capacity in 1986. The Rollins hazardous waste landfill and incinerator have been a constant sore point for the near by Alsen residents. the waste site has been the source of numerous odor and health complaints from the nearby community residents and workers at the plant. the plant was cited for more than 100 state and federal violations between 1980 and 1985 but did not pay any penalties. Mary McCastle, a 72 year-old grandmother and Alsen community leader, summed up her community's running battle with Rollins:

We had no warning Rollins was coming in here. When they did come in we didn't know what they were dumping. We did know that it was making us sick. People used to have nice gardens and fruit trees. They lived off their gardens and only had to buy meat. Some of us raised hogs and chickens. But not after Rollins came in. Our gardens and animals were dying out. Some days the odors from the plant would be nearly unbearable. We didn't know what was causing it. We later found out that Rollins was burning hazardous waste.

Air quality in the Alsen community became a cause for alarm. Local residents began to question the company's right to spew pollutants on their community. Complaints were filed with the Louisiana Department of Environmental quality (LDEQ) with no immediate results. Although local citizens registered their displeasure with the waste facility's operation, they got little attention from state environmental officials. Annie Bowdry, the director of the Alsen Community Center—a nonprofit human services program— described the state's response, or lack of response, to Alsen's needs:

Alsen is a black and a nowhere place stuck out in the parish. It's not incorporated. It didn't count. It was not until after state environmental officials visited the community that citizen complaints were taken seriously. State officials could not believe that people endured everyday the terrible odors from the Rollins plant.

In late 1980, residents began organizing to stop the contamination of their community. Local leaders recognized the fact that they were going up against a giant corporation. the annual revenue in Rollins from hazardous waste alone was more than $69 million. Citizens were also aware that the company provided jobs—although few Alsen residents worked at the company. Alsen residents were determined to take a stand based on what was best for the health and welfare of their community. In early 1981, local citizens filed a multimillion dollar class-action lawsuit against Rollins. The lawsuit and subsequent state monitoring of the air quality problem in Alsen forced the company to reduce the pollutants from the waste site. Public opposition to the Rollins hazardous-waste facility intensified in the mid 1980's when citizen groups and environmentalists (Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and some local grass roots groups) turned out in force to oppose an application by the firm to burn PCBs at the incinerator. the protest was successful in blocking the PCB burn.

Alsen residents were outraged that their lawsuit against Rollins dragged on for so long. Local citizens were angry that Louisiana DEQ officials took so long to believe the horror stories of Alsen's air pollution problem. They wondered why it was so difficult to resolve this problem. Admon McCastle, a native of Alsen, saw racism as the root of the community's dilemma:

More than 15 years ago, a wealthy white property owner next to Rollins received a half a million dollar settlement from the company for the death of his cattle after water spilled onto his pasture. Yet, Rollins has failed to recognize it is harming people not cows, in the Alsen community. when I look at this, I have to say racism has played a big part in the company's actions and the states inaction.

After dragging on for more than six years, the lawsuit was finally settled out of court in November 1987. The settlement, however, splintered the community. Residents were polarized into "money versus health" factions. Each plaintiff in the lawsuit received "an average of $3,000 the day before Christmas." There was a "take the money and run" atmosphere that prevailed in the battle-weary community. Opponents of the secret-settlement agreement point to the need for continual health monitoring in the community. This is not a small point since the plaintiffs were required to sign away their right to sue Rollins for any future health-related problems. Annie Bowdry lodged her opposition in the statement:

We wanted to establish a health clinic in Alsen that would be administered by the state [Louisiana] and paid for by Rollins. Since Rollins made the people sick, they should have to pay for the operation of the clinic. all at once, someone mentioned money and the health clinic proposal went out the window. My feelings about the whole thing is a dollar cannot buy my health. But if I knew I was contaminated in time, then maybe a cure for me could be found. If not for me, then maybe for my children.

Overall, life in the Alsen community has improved since residents became more informed on the hazardous waste problem and convinced state officials to closely monitor air quality in their community. although economic concessions were extracted from Rollins through and out-of-court settlement, the community was left without a health facility of its own. Moreover, the settlement agreement shielded the waste disposal company from any future health related lawsuits by the Alsen plaintiffs. Alsen residents still must drive to baton Rouge for health care services.

The community's pollution problem is far from over because numerous chemical plants are still clustered along the Mississippi river just a short distance from their homes. this problem will likely remain as long as the backbone of Louisiana's economy remains heavily dependent on its "chemical corridor." More important, increased public opposition and tougher regulations have made it more difficult to site new hazardous waste facilities. the Rollins hazardous waste landfill and incinerator, thus take on added state and regional importance.

Louisiana dubbed the "sportsman's paradise," has become and environmental nightmare as a result of lax regulations, unbridled production of toxic Chemicals, and heavy dependence on the petrochemical industry as the backbone of the state's economy.

These people almost certainly didn't receive nearly as much compensation as the toxic chemicals cost them; and furthermore, if they had known ahead of time that they were dumping these chemicals they could have acted much sooner and prevented it from polluting the area in the first place which would have been much cheaper and more effective then compensating them after the fact.

Intentionally or not, they have set the stage so that the people of this community could be used as research subjects to find out how much damage the pollution could potentially cause, possibly at the expense of their lives. However even if this was followed up and the research was done the public still isn't receiving the benefit of the research since the information isn't being passed on to the public in an effective manner and used to implement policies that would prevent this from happening. Perhaps more important is the most important thing they would learn is that it is in their best interest not to pollute the environment in the first place and they could have learned that without further research if they were willing to educate the public properly.

Without more thorough research it would be difficult to know for certain if this is typical but after looking at enough of these stories I suspect that there are many more stories like this; and while they might get better compensation in some cases where they have more political power, there are almost certainly many other cases where they don't even receive as much as the residents of Alsen did if, the corporations convince the community to give up, or they never recognize what is causing their health problems in the first place.

These incidents are routinely treated as if they're isolated and they rarely implement widespread policies to reduce these disasters, or at least not nearly as much as they could, or should, especially in poorer or minority areas. Most traditional media outlets decline to even try to do a good job reporting on these incidents; however Robert Bullard continues to investigate them even though he almost certainly doesn't have nearly as much resources as the chemical and energy companies. Another example is the following story about a more recent incident in Tennessee and Alabama where there was a spill in an area populated by mostly white people, probably lower income and the coal ash was shipped to another area populated by lower income African-Americans:

Dumping in Dixie: TVA Toxic Spill Cleaned Up and Shipped to Alabama Blackbelt

Six months ago, a wall holding back 80 acres of sludge from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Kingston Fossil Plant broke spilling more than 500 million gallons of toxic coal fly ash over a dozen homes and up to 400 acres of the surrounding landscape, endangering aquatic life and the water supply for more than 25,000 residents.

Numerous media stories have been written about the TVA toxic spill. Yet, the full "cradle to grave" toxic waste story has gotten little coverage from the national media. Unfortunately, a major environmental injustice was perpetrated by the EPA approval of TVA's decision to ship 5.4 million cubic yards of toxic coal ash by railcar from the mostly white east Tennessee Roane County to a landfill located in the heart of the Alabama "Black Belt," Perry County (69% African-American with more than 32% of its residents living in poverty) and to rural Taylor County, Georgia (41% of the population is African-American and more than 24% of residents live in poverty). Complete article

Thanks in part, to their ability to suppress the truth with the help of trade secrecy laws and their political and legal connections energy companies routinely continue to make massive profits at the expense of peoples lives and it is much more extensive than most people realize. A recent study that covers pipeline accidents indicates that there have been many more accidents than most people are aware of and that since 1986 have resulted in nearly $7 billion in damages, more than 2,000 injuries, and more than 500 deaths. This is just from one type of disaster. In the past when I attempted to find out how many more oil rig explosions there were after the BP I did a Google search and found many more which I listed in BP is just the tip of the iceberg; and it was clear that if I kept on searching I would have found many more and that if I had access to a more comprehensive record of these disasters I might have come up with a list that would be even worse than the study of pipeline spills. In the past few years there have been even more high profile disasters including a few from just the last few months; these include the Texas fertilizer explosion, the propane explosion in Florida , the railway explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada , Yellowstone river pipeline leak , another two pipeline leaks in Arkansas , a Richmond, California Chevron explosion , a large Alberta, Canada pipeline leak along with a report about many more that have been happening over the past 37 years averaging 2 per day , and who knows how many more that aren't being reported properly. For every one that they do report briefly before it falls down the memory hole there are almost certainly many more that happen in foreign countries or are only reported in local areas in the United states. the disaste3rs that aren't being reported properly could be as dangerous, if not more dangerous than those that are since they aren't being addressed.

Edit 08/20/2013: Since this was posted there have been at least a couple other news stories about environmental disasters that were reported briefly and quickly fallen off the news cycle. One of them was a Natural Gas Pipeline Causing a Cornfield To Explode In Western Illinois; and anothe3r involved a propane explosion in Kansas City Missouri; however when searching for this I only found one from last February and more from previous years including Questions grow in natural gas explosion at JJ’s restaurant 02/19/2013 ; Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion Renews Fears Among Homeowners in Subdivision Near St. Louis 09/13/2010 ; 18 Hurt in Gas Explosion at Missouri Hotel 02/17/1991 ; Propane Explosion at House Kills 2, Injures 3 Lighting a Cigarette Touches off Fireball ; Propane Explosion Blasts Tiny Resort Town 08/04/1969 and more including Major Explosions & Oil Spills. Most of these are reported as isolated incidents and they're often referred to as "rare;" however when searching for more they ke3ep coming up on the internet and they might not be nearly as "rare" as the media implies. A more thorough research project would provide more information but that is difficult to fund when the corporations that profit from the industry use their influence to influence what is or is not researched and those that are more sincere have much fewer resources.

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Photo source

A thorough study of how much environmental damage is being done to the planet would be a monumental task but we already have enough information to know that it is enormous and we should act more to reverse this trend now even before the research can be done.

Unfortunately instead of providing resources to reverse this or to study it more resources are being provided to preserve the status quo including biased studies financed by the energy companies and political manipulations as well. Rollins Environmental Services which was implicated in the Alsen incident has a history of funding environmental groups to go after their competition while ignoring their activities and many energy companies have even been helping to write the government's review for the Keystone pipeline! Exxon Mobil has been trying to undermine research on Climate Change for a long time, according to Steve Coll: How Exxon Shaped the Climate Debate; and there have been many other efforts by other energy companies to control the debate so that they can increase their profits at the expense of the lives of the majority. With the amount of environmental damage continuing to escalate and Climate Change as well it isn't "alarmist," as some people might imply to claim that we need drastic changes soon, without panic!

We have the technology to make many of these changes but with corporations controlling the majority of the information many people receive it could be very difficult to implement these changes unless those that re more familiar with it inform enough other people to rely more on alternative news outlets, at least until we can get major media reform and do their part to hold officials accountable.

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Photo source

The following are some additional articles on the subject:

Environmental Warfare, Humanitarian Disasters, and Indirect Genocide

"We could just take what's falling free from the sky."

Code Green: One Little Letter

What If Ecocide Was a Crime? Let's Find Out

Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987­ 2007 Grass roots Struggles to Dismantle Environmental Racism in the United States

As Senate, Obama Consider Keystone, New Analysis and Video Reveal Dangerous Toll of U.S. Pipelines

BP Tries To Avoid Payments For Deepwater Horizon Disaster By Accusing Gulf Businesses Of Fraud

EPA to Allow Consumption of Toxic Fracking Wastewater by Wildlife and Livestock

UK Fracking Firm Admits They Are Causing Earthquakes

Edit: 10/15/2013 the following are a few new spills that have occurred since this article was posted. This is not complete and random searches will almost certainly tun up much more. A comprehensive search would be huge.

Experts: Gas in 2013 Gulf blowout is less damaging

North Dakota waits 11 days to tell public about oil spill

Thai oil spill spreads to new bay on resort island

Shell: New leaks close major Nigerian oil pipeline

Colorado Flooding Triggers Oil Spills, Shutdowns

NH Appeals Order to Set Aside $195M of Exxon Award

ExxonMobil Shuts California Oil Pipeline After Spill