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News :: Education : Environment : International : Politics
Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
25 Mar 2005
Contributions from Coca-Cola and its enterprises to federal candidates and parties rose as much as 31% between 1998 and 2004, with the greatest concentration of funds during the 2000 election, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Seventy-one percent of those contributions, or $2,483,283, went to the Republican Party and GOP candidates. Relationships between the soft-drink giant and Bush’s chums have indeed gone sweeter since many issues affecting Coca-Cola’s assets are at stake: soda consumption in schools, environmental standards, bottled water labeling, and human rights concerns overseas.
dasani.jpg
Coca-Cola Company contributed as much as $200,000 to the Bush presidential inauguration and was granted “Ranger” status for helping raise as much as $200,000 in “bundles” of $2,000 contributions (the legal limit) for the Bush campaign in 2004. The presidential inauguration might well have been a time of celebration over a glass of Coke with plenty of ice. The company reaped considerable profits during Bush first term in office, $1.20 billion compared to a meager $927 million a year ago in the last quarter alone, which according to Forbes left Coke investors “not satisfied with only modest growth in revenue.”

In 2004, Coca-Cola Enterprises executives John R. Alm, President and CEO, and Lowry F. Kline, Chairman of the Board, each gave as much as $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney Primary and $7,500 to the Republican National Committee. Mr. Kline also contributed $6,500 between 2003 and 2004 to the largest lobbyist in the industry, the American Beverage Association (ABA) PAC, formerly known as the National Soft Drink Association. During his busy schedule influencing policy makers, Mr. Kline has also found time to serve as Vice-Chairman and CEO on ABA’s Board of Directors.

The American Beverage Association, an 85-year-old Washington-based trade association representing companies that produce, market and distribute more than 95 percent of the soft drinks sold in America, has lobbied for legislation that focuses on dietary practices instead of regulations on the food industry itself. The association went against efforts by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to introduce a bill in the senate to amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 that would limit the sale of soft drinks and snack foods in most schools.

In a press release in May of 2003, the American Beverage Association recommended, “Policymakers who seek to place limitations on the sale of soft drinks at school should know that many schools invest the money they earn from the sale of beverages at school… Instead of advocating another unfunded mandate on already cash-strapped schools that could place a greater burden on local taxpayers, the soft drink industry urges Congress to improve the health of America’s youth by supporting daily physical education and improving the quality and quantity of nutrition education at school.”

The soft-drink industries will certainly benefit from policies such as the new Dietary Guidelines, issued by the federal government in January 2005, which make recommendations on health-related issues but do little to enforce them. On whether the government had any plans to limit advertising and marketing of less-healthy food to children, Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services, reminded reporters at a news conference, “We have a Constitution that prohibits the limit of speech, and we in this Administration believe very strongly that people should have the opportunity to advertise. And we're not going to in any way curtail the right to express people's opinions.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in a report published in January 2004, “sugared soft drink consumption has been associated with increased risk of overweight and obesity, currently the most common medical condition of childhood.” Currently soft drinks and fruit drinks are sold in vending machines, in school stores, at school sporting events, and at school fund drives. "Exclusive pouring rights" contracts, in which the school agrees to promote one brand exclusively in exchange for money, are being signed in an increasing number of school districts across the country, often with bonus incentives tied to sales. Nearly 200 school districts across the U.S. have signed contracts with soft drink companies to promote beverage sales at school.

In 1997, for example, the Colorado Springs school district signed with Coca-Cola, giving each of their schools from $3,000 to $25,000 per year, the contract required at least 70,000 cases of soda to be sold per year, according to the Polaris Institute, a think tank in Canada designed to “fight for democratic social change in an age of corporate driven globalization.” After the first year, when only 21,000 cases had been sold, the district began an intensive marketing campaign, including encouraging principals to allow students to drink soda in classrooms. No contradiction can be found to encourage children to familiarize themselves with the new Food Pyramid while being offered a Coke to quench their thirst right after PE class period.

In response to health concerns of our children, Coca-Cola recently announced the release of a new product that defies science, Coca-Cola Zero, a zero-calorie cola.

In contrast, our French comrades passed a law banning vending machines for food and beverages in all public and private schools, which will take effect September 1, 2005.

While sodas still make up about 85% of Coca Cola’s business, it has begun entering the global water market with force. Coca Cola’s global water business grew by 68% in 2002. Net profits for the company for all enterprises were $3 billion in 2003.

The Natural Resources Defense Council reports that water sales have nearly tripled in the last decade, to about $4 billion in 1997, rising from 4.5 gallons per year for the average American in 1986 to 12.7 gallons per year per person in 1997. Much of this consumption is correlated to the public’s view of how bottled water might be safer and healthier than tap water, yet most bottled water is sourced from city and town water supplies, that is, from tap water.

In August 2003, the Grocery Manufacturers of America filed a lawsuit to block a new Maine state law that would require bottled water labels to identify their water source. The GMA said that it wanted “uniformity” in labeling and held that Maine should not be allowed to make its own laws that would supercede Food and Drug Administration laws requiring bottlers to use “purified water” labels. Conversely, the Maine law would require bottled water labels to identify the name and geographic location of the water body, well, or public water supply from which the water was obtained. The case stated that the law would hurt sales and goodwill and would conflict with “the reality that purified water is very different from tap water.” Coke’s CEO Douglas Daft sits on the GMA’s board of directors.

Research by NRDC has found that contaminants might still be found in bottled water after the bottling process and sometimes, as a direct result of it. In March 2004 in Great Britain, for example, Coca-Cola was forced to withdraw its Dasani purified water product as a "precautionary measure" because the process it used to treat Thames water raised levels of bromate, a cancer-causing chemical, above European legal standards. The fiasco earned Coca-Cola the 2004 Ig Nobel Prize, a spoof award overseen by the Annals of Improbable Research at Harvard University, “for using advanced technology to convert liquid from the Thames into ‘Dasani’.”

Meanwhile, in the United States, the Bush administration has made repeated efforts to weaken various clean water protections, according to several environmental organizations. When the Bush administration announced in 2003 that they were considering withdrawing Clean Water Act protection from some waters, most states, including 17 Republican governors, expressed serious concern over the possibility of reduced federal protection. Further budget cuts will also limit states’ ability to enforce standards for water pollution prevention. EPA’s proposed budget reduction in clear water spending went from $1.3 billion in FY 2004 to $850 million in FY 2005.

At the international level, Coca-Cola has had a couple of rough years. In Colombia, human rights groups have shed light on the gross abuses of union workers in Coke’s bottling companies by paramilitaries, prompting a worldwide boycott of Coca-Cola products by activists and non-profit groups. In the State of Kerala, India, a Coca-Cola plant’s contamination and depletion of groundwater water supply incited public outrage. A locally elected village council finally exercised their authority to refuse to renew Coca-Cola’s industrial license in the area in April 2003, a move that Coca-Cola has contested with the Government of Kerala.

With such series of unfortunate events, Coca-Cola’s public officials naturally want to show thanks to Bush junior’s administration for offering their support in business affairs. After all, enduring government and corporate relations will allow Coca-Cola to continue “helping people all over the world live healthier lives through beverages.”

This work is in the public domain.
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Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
25 Mar 2005
Check out this website, it tells how Coca-Cola kills anyone who tries to organize at their bottling plant in Columbia. http://www.killercoke.org/
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
25 Mar 2005
[originally posted by Tim]
Murder... it's the real thing.
Join Amit Srivastava (India Resource Center) and Luis Adolfo Cardona (former Coke employee and unionist from Colombia) in an evening of sharing knowledge and organizing to hold Coca-Cola accountable.

On Wednesday, April 13th from 6:30 to 8:30PM at come join Amit Srivastava (India Resource Center) and Luis Adolfo Cardona (former Coke employee and unionist from Colombia) in an evening of sharing knowledge and organizing to hold Coca-Cola accountable.
Dinner and refreshments will be provided, suggested donation is $5. Sponsors: Mass Global Action, Alliance for Secular and Democratic South Asia, NAFFE, Jobs with Justice, ProjectVoice/AFSC, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, MA Chapter, TecsChange, Asian American Resource Workshop, and Bankbusters. For more info contact stopcoke (at) massglobalaction.org

Event is being held at 33 Harrison Ave in Chinatown on the 3rd Floor. Accessible by MBTA on the Orange-Line (Chinatown), Green-Line (Boylston), and Red-Line (Downtown).
See also:
http://www.massglobalaction.org
three easy actions
25 Mar 2005
Human rights are under attack at home, too. Perrier is sucking water out of Michigan. Another company was intending to ship water to Haliburton in Iraq. Kill two birds with one stone!
http://michiganimc.org/
http://www.waterissweet.org/

Urge your state government to require source labelling like Maine's.

Talk to your friends. I have persuaded three out of eight of my house-mates to give up carbonated sugar syrup -- not by browbeatings, but by being cooler in summer and by noticing when heat and caffeine come together to forbid sleep.

A fourth action which takes more committment : activists could publicise the availability of _safe_ sturdy water bottles, suitable for filling from taps. The really good ones are found in expensive yuppie sports stores. That could be changed. I have also used for years a small collection various sizes of commercial bottles with labels removed.

Above all, make certain your local water supply system is not allowed to deteriorate. All ready some people, who can afford bottled water, see its existence as an opportunity to "save wasteful public expense".

Yes, I can't count, that's five.
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
26 Mar 2005
More than likely , there was a secret meeting to discuss what they should put in the cola to make sure children didn't object to living death fascism. Was it something I said? I'm not even liberal.
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
26 Mar 2005
Excellent article Sofia! Come to this event next month....
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/34231/index.php
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
28 Mar 2005
I would rather see this type of campaign financing that using tax dollars as matching funds. How can we justify using tax dollars to fund such individuals as Ross Perot and Howard Dean. Kudos to Coca Cola and Pepsi.
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
28 Mar 2005
Does a Coca-Cola executive have less right to donate to the political campaign of his or her choice?

Don't like Coke? Fine. Don't drink it. Don't invest in it.

Better yet, sell a better soft drink, and donate the profits to whatever cause you see fit. Then some idiot on the internet can bitch about you instead.

PS - Why does a zero-calorie soda "defy science"?
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
29 Mar 2005
Why does a zero-calorie soda "defy science"?

Read the can. When they say that the soda's are calorie free or less than one calorie, they are talking about per can, not per serving. What is really happening is that the soda stays the same, but that same 20oz can is now 2 or more servings. Who the hell is going to get a can of soda, drink half of it, put it back in the fridge and then drink the now flat remainder? If you want a real mind bender, try adding up the math on the back of a can of Pam.

If you want a non-political reason to not drink cola, try leaving a tooth or penny in a glass at room temperature for a few days.
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
29 Mar 2005
I remember when TAB contained only two calories per 2 Liter bottle. My luck being what it was, I always got both calories in the same glass and all my friends got nothing.
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
30 Mar 2005
It "defies science" because you're bad at math?
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
30 Mar 2005
"It "defies science" because you're bad at math?"

Well science seems to defy you because you are a willfully ignorant prick, but if you must have your answers spoon fed to you, here it is. Soda contains carbohydates. Carbohydrates are oxidized by the body and the energy released as heat is measured in calories. There are no carbohydrate free sodas, thus there are no calorie free sodas.
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
30 Mar 2005
First off, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are all sources of calories. Not just carbohydrates.

Yes, a bottle of diet soda may contain single-digit calories that are rounded down to zero on a per serving basis. That's "defying science"?

The caloric intake of drinking a diet soda is effectively nil. There's nothing stupefying about it.
Do you work for Pepsi or something?
31 Mar 2005
You asked a question. I gave you an answer. Stop trying to change the subject so that you can seem smart.

"First off, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates are all sources of calories. Not just carbohydrates."
I never said that it was just calories. All I said was "Soda contains carbohydates. Carbohydrates are oxidized by the body and the energy released as heat is measured in calories.".

"Yes, a bottle of diet soda may contain single-digit calories that are rounded down to zero on a per serving basis. That's "defying science"?"
No that's false advertising. If you say zero but there are one or more then it's not calorie free, plain and simple.

"The caloric intake of drinking a diet soda is effectively nil. There's nothing stupefying about it." That's great and all but has nothing to do with the question you asked. I'm not saying that you are going to get fat from drinking diet soda. I am saying that soda has calories. It always has and probably always will. What is really "stupifying" is why the hell you would ask such a meaningless rhetorical question and then defend the answer you want to believe by changing the subject and making generalizations.

If you want to be right so damn badly, go out and find a soda that has zero calories. Then you can do a little victory dance and feel validated by your obviously narrow views on the world. Until then though, just shut up and realize that you stuck your foot in your mouth.

Why I even waste my time on self-centered, egotistical trolls like yourself, I will never know.
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
31 Mar 2005
Little friendly advice for Math Teacher from us here at Indymedia. We have Trolls. Trolls like to take up your time by arguing and getting your dander up. Don't worry, other folks can see what's happening here, and your good input has not been discounted. For further explanation of the troll phenomenon see http://members.aol.com/intwg/trolls.htm

-Thanks, and please, don't feed the trolls!
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
31 Mar 2005
Okay. Club soda has zero calories, douchebag.

Ahh, my sweet, sweet victory dance.

Almost as sweet as my artificially flavored diet soda.

Narrow world view? You're the one protesting a soda company. Human slavery still exists and you're fucking complaining about fractional calories in diet soda.
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
01 Apr 2005
Club soda isn't soda. It's seltzer water. (H2O + CO2)
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
08 Apr 2005
Soda is rotting children's teeth. Instead of discouraging soda drinking, governments put fluoride chemicals into water supplies to give the illusion they are doing something about the tooth decay caused by soda drinking.

Now I can see why. They can give the illusion they care about people's teeth on one hand, while taking Coke's money with the other hand.

Ironically, most of the sodas have fluoride in them because tap water is used to make them. But the bottled water sold by Pepsi and Coke are fluoride-free because the fluoride, and any other tap water chemicals we pay to put into the publica water supply, is filtered out.

New York State Coalition Opposed to Fluoridation
http://www.orgsites.com/ny/nyscof
Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
22 Apr 2005
...if you must publish your term papers here, you should at least be aware that Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta and has long been associated with - and generously funded- the Democratic Party, as well; although business interests come first, naturally.
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20 Sep 2005
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Re: Soft-drink Giant Benefits from Contributions to the Bush Administration
28 Sep 2005
Love is two people sipping Coca Cola from the same straw on a warm sunny day.