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Anti-Corporate Campaigners Call on TIAA-CREF to Dump Wal-Mart and Coke Stock as Unethical Investments
TIAA-CREF picket 1.JPGOn Monday, July 11, 2005, a dozen people gathered for half-an-hour starting at noon outside TIAA-CREF’s offices in Boston’s financial district. They were protesting and passing out informational fliers as part of the lead up to next week’s TIAA-CREF annual shareholders meeting, where members of the Make TIAA-CREF Ethical Coalition will press TIAA-CREF, one of the country’s largest pension funds, to divest from Coca-Cola, Wal-Mart and other corporations that do not do business ethically. Wal-Mart is well known for its exploitive labor practices, while Coke is guilty of a number of socially irresponsible practices, ranging from marketing junk food to children in the US to complicity with death squads in Colombia.
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11 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Globalization : International : Labor : Social Welfare
Second Case of Mad Cow Disease Hits the U.S.
cow_downed3.jpgAUDIO: A year and a half after the first case of mad cow disease was discovered in this country, the U.S. government came forward Friday, June 24th, with news of the second case of Mad Cow Disease in the US. According to an initial report, this cow, at least eight years old, was found crippled and covered in manure, apparently suffering from dementia. She was discovered last November. U.S. officials took tissue samples, incinerated her corpse, and declared her free of the disease after initial tests. However, a recent round of tests conducted at a lab in England determined this cow did have the disease.

Meanwhile, outbreaks of the bird flu loom on the horizon. While relatively harmless levels of the flu, which is carried by chickens, cycle through U.S. farms on a regular basis, very harmful levels may appear in U.S. chickens soon. Two bird flu pandemics actually claimed the lives of over 100, 000 people in the U.S. during the 20th century. Some researchers are warning that another pandemic is coming again.
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03 Jul 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Social Welfare
Millionaires and War
Was there ever a time when Congressional tax cuts for multi-millionaires were more unseemly?

Recently President Bush spoke about the war in Iraq on national TV, asking Americans to be patient and to bear in silence the heavy sacrifice of American soldiers’ lost lives. That number is getting close to 2000.
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02 Jul 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Politics : Social Welfare
Child-care providers in RI fight for union rights
melida 1.gifOn June 22, Rhode Island governor Donald Carcieri vetoed the Family Childcare Providers Business Opportunity Act of 2005. The act would have allowed the state's 1,300 licensed and hundreds of other unlicensed home-based day care providers, members of the union SEIU 1199, to bargain collectively with the state for wages and benefits.

As wages fall behind inflation for most workers, and welfare payments are eliminated, the home based day care workers have become essential for working parents in Rhode Island. The day care fees are subsidized for thirteen thousand parents by the state, although these subsidies are being cut to pay for tax cuts for the richest Rhode Islanders. But the day care workers are poorly compensated for their central role in the state's economy. The Day Care Justice Co-Op, an organization of day care workers that preceeded the union drive, found that after deducting for the cost of childrens' toys, books, food, safety equipment, and sometimes assistants, the day care workers, mostly black and latina women, ended up with a wage of only $2.76 per hour, less than the legal minimum wage.
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28 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Gender : Labor : Race : Social Welfare
Food Not Bombs Holds 25th Anniversary Gathering in Philly
Audio: Philadelphia was recently the home of the 25th anniversary gathering of an international, grassroots, volunteer-run free-food project called Food Not Bombs. Food not bombs shares free food in cities all around the country – from Portland, to New York, to San Antonio – by rescuing waste from markets and redistributing it to hungry people. Homefries in Boston has more on the gathering -- including several interviews -- in the posted mp3.
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26 Jun 2005 Modified: 27 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Human Rights : Politics : Social Welfare
MA. Legislators Consider Regulating High Security Bioterror Research, Many Hopeful Sanity Will Prevail
bioterror.jpgState Representative Frank Smitzik was forced to make liberal use of his gavel chairing the Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Agriculture public hearing on HR 1397 -An Act to Protect Public Health and the Environment from Toxic Biological Agents- earlier this month as an enthusiastic crowd of over 300 fans of the resolution repeatedly burst into applause when they felt their side had scored a good point.

Representative Gloria Fox, whose 7th Suffolk district includes the proposed site of labratory, is sponsoring the bill. In her opening comments at the june 9 hearing, describing HR 1397, which would provide comprehensive state regulation for BSL4 labs in Massachusetts, Fox acknowledged the large diverse crowd that had come out to show their support, “We have students, scientists, public health experts, and community activists as well as politicians here today,” Fox said.

BUMC has been working to open its laboratory in the South End of Boston, on the border of Roxbury for over two years. The NIAID grant funded project would be only the fifth level 4 laboratory operating in the United States.

According to a press release from Fox’s office, “presently there are no federal or state laws that regulate high security laboratories.”
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21 Jun 2005 | Filed under: News / Social Welfare : Technology
Opinion: America's Corporate Benedict Arnolds
BENDICT.jpg“That’s un-American” is the cry heard whenever the unwritten code of American values is breached, Compassion, fairness and equal opportunity are hallmarks, and although you might not be able to recite chapter and verse of the code, you know when it is broken.

On this the 204th anniversary of the death of Benedict Arnold, one of America’s most famous traitors, it’s time to consider whether some of America’s largest corporations that pay little or no federal taxes, have indeed become traitors.

Large corporations are in full retreat from paying their fair share of taxes. In 2003, corporations paid just 7% of the cost of the US government, according to a study by Citizens for Tax Justice.

It wasn’t always this way. At the end of the Second World War, a time when paying taxes was viewed as a patriotic duty, corporations paid half the cost of the federal government. Even as recently as the 1970s, corporate taxes accounted for 20% of federal treasury receipts.
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16 Jun 2005 | Filed under: Commentary / Globalization : Human Rights : International : Labor : Politics : Social Welfare
Holyoke struggles to keep wastewater as a public utility
kelda.jpgKelda may sell Aquarion, US profits fall 21% in 2004.
Holyoke deal falls on even shakier ground.

The UK Independent reports “Kelda mulls the sell-off of its not so profitable US subsidiary” as Aquarion reports a 21% fall in profits in 2004. Residents and DPW workers in Holyoke, Massachusetts, facing a 20-year, $176 million contract with Aquarion Services Company, should be worried. The main selling points of the contract have been the purported savings to ratepayers and the sweetheart deal promised to the current workers, which maintains existing pay and benefits. Workers will already lose civil service protection in the Aquarion deal, and what more will they lose if Aquarion is sold? Can Aquarion really save the city millions if under the gun to show a profit to Kelda shareholders?
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31 May 2005 | Filed under: News / Environment : Labor : Social Welfare
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