Tag Archives | Business

So You’ve Angered The Hive

Stop US Chamber of CommerceKevin Zeese is an attorney and former candidate for U.S. Senate with a law degree from George Washington University. He contributes to a website attacking the agenda of the national Chamber of Commerce (StopTheChamber.com) and ran for office within the Green Party.

Zeese is concerned that malevolent business interests will have undue influence on elections, due to those interests’ expanding ability to influence elections anonymously. On the phone, he took great pains to differentiate the national hub from your local, garden variety chamber of commerce, which Zeese insists can very well represent the interests of local businesses. The local chambers, he said, had attempted to distance themselves from the national hub, the distinction for him lying in his instinct that the national was undermining decentralization of interests.

I asked him, “So I guess I’d just like to start off by asking you to describe in your own words why you think the Chamber of Commerce apparently has a problem with you or doesn’t want you to speak your mind?”

With this, Zeese laughed with glee, and, catching his breath, said, “Well, that’s a good way of putting it.”

“Well, we have a project called StopTheChamber.com, and it’s been for about a year now heavily focused on the Chamber of Commerce and their activities in both elections and lobbying.… Read the rest

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Will Big Pharma Take Over The American Market For Medical Marijuana?

MedMarjIf the hundreds of uses for cannabis doesn’t plead the case for its legalization, the money made from its medical industry just might do it. The Washington Independent reports:

The American Independent has previously reported on the growing corporatization of the incipient medical marijuana industry at a time when medical marijuana dispensaries scrabble to hold on to their businesses in the face of a multi-pronged federal crackdown. But there are signs afoot that it just may become ever more corporate if a Big Pharma push to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to recognize a cannabis-derived drug is successful.

Last week, British prescription drug manufacturer GW Pharmaceuticals announced a licensing agreement with drug giant Novartis, maker of Ritalin and Excedrin, to begin selling GW’s drug Sativex in markets across Asia, Africa, Oceania and the Middle East. The medication is already available in Britain, where it’s produced and marketed by Bayer, and in Canada and Spain.

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States To Outlaw Undercover Photos And Videos Of Factory Farms

4944283870_202e5923c1A bill before the Iowa legislature would make it a crime to produce, distribute or possess photos and video taken without permission at an agricultural facility.

In Iowa, Florida, and Minnesota, laws are in the works to criminalize the documenting of animal cruelty and health violations in factory farming. With activists nosing around, “people are scared to death that they might be found in a compromising position,” [says the] president of the Iowa Farm Bureau — it’s about “making producers feel more comfortable.” The New York Times reports:

Undercover videos showing grainy, sometimes shocking images of sick or injured livestock have become a favorite tool of animal rights organizations to expose what they consider illegal or inhumane treatment of animals.

Made by animal rights advocates posing as farm workers, such videos have prompted meat recalls, slaughterhouse closings, criminal convictions of employees and apologies from corporate executives assuring that the offending images are an aberration.

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Inside The Sad World Of Standardized Test Essay-Scoring

6008578.28Minneapolis’s City Paper delves into a dark corner of the education system: the ever-growing test-scoring industry. Every day, armies of underpaid, disenchanted, hungover slacker-temps slave away in private essay-grading mills, slapping on arbitrary scores which determine whether schools across the country will receive funding and whether students will graduate:

Eventually, DiMaggio got used to not asking questions. He got used to skimming the essays as fast as possible, glancing over the responses for about two minutes apiece before clicking a score.

Every so often, though, his thoughts would drift to the school in Arkansas or Ohio or Pennsylvania. If they only knew what was going on behind the scenes. “The legitimacy of testing is being taken for granted,” he says. “It’s a farce.”

DiMaggio had good reason to worry. His score could determine whether the school was deemed adequate or failing—whether it received government funding or got shut down.

Though the efficacy of standardized testing has been hotly debated for decades, one thing has become crystal clear: It’s big business.

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Silicon Valley Start-Up To Mine The Moon

Moon BaseA new lunar gold rush? Via Phenomenonica:

A Silicon Valley start-up, founded by an Indian-American entrepreneur, plans to mine the moon and is in the process of building robotic rovers that will search the lunar surface for precious metals and rare metallic elements.

Moon Express Inc or MoonEx, co-founded by Naveen Jain, is building the robotic rovers alongside scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Centre near San Jose, a report in the Los Angeles Times said. “MoonEx should be ready to land on the lunar surface by 2013,” Jain said.

While there is no guarantee that the moon is “flush” with these materials, MoonEx thinks it “may be a gold mine of so-called rare earth elements.”

“From an entrepreneur’s perspective, the moon has never truly been explored,” the report quoted Jain, chairman and company co-founder, as saying. “We think it could hold resources that benefit Earth and all humanity.”

MoonEx’s machines are designed to look for materials that are scarce on Earth but found in everything from a Toyota Prius car battery to guidance systems on cruise missiles, the report added.

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Adding Air to Chocolate Bars to Increase Profits

Willy WonkaWhat would Willy Wonka think? Tom Mulier reports in Bloomberg:

The recipe for chocolate bars is fairly standard: cocoa, cocoa butter or other oils, sweeteners, and perhaps some nuts or a fruity filling. Now, with prices for cocoa, sugar, and other commodities soaring, candy makers are finding a simple ingredient — air — can help pump up profits.

Nestlé is making a big push for its aerated chocolate brand, Aero, Barry Callebaut is adding more air to fillings, and Cadbury last year launched a new version of its aerated Wispa bars after reintroducing the brand in 2007.

In the past four years, cocoa prices have more than doubled amid poor harvests and growing demand. On Feb. 22, cocoa hit $3,608 a metric ton, a level it hadn’t reached in three decades. The price of sugar, the additive candy makers have often looked to when cocoa prices soar, is also on the rise as bad weather has damaged crops in Brazil.

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United States Becomes Sweden’s Third-World Outsourcing Destination

FURNITURE JOBS“It’s ironic that IKEA looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico,” Street said.

When a large multinational corporation is looking to cut costs, what does it do? Send jobs overseas to a less modernized country — one where salaries are a fraction of those at home and the law provides few rights or protections for workers — and watch the profits roll in. We are speaking, of course, of Sweden’s IKEA, and Virginia, USA. Is this our economic future? Current reports:

Here we are, folks. Sweden’s third-world sweatshop. IKEA takes advantage of the destruction to our economy caused by outsourcing jobs by outsourcing their own jobs to the U.S. — and paying less than the workers in Sweden get ($8 in the U.S., $19 + better benefits in Sweden, for making the same products), about 50% of what the median income is in Danville (the town where IKEA’s sweatshop is located), with much stricter and abusive practices in the Danville facility, and with many less rights.

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Glenn Beck Leaving His Fox News Show

Glenn Beck Fox NewsIs he even too crazy for Fox News? Linda Feldmann writes in the Christian Science Monitor:

It’s the end of an era: Glenn Beck is leaving his daily talk show on Fox News later this year, he and Fox announced Wednesday. The show, called “Glenn Beck,” had seen a precipitous decline in ratings over the last year, and Mr. Beck’s departure was not unexpected.

Not long ago, the populist rabble-rouser of the right and self-described “rodeo clown” was flying high. Beck began at Fox a little more than two years ago, in January 2009, having jumped from CNN Headline News. Coincidentally, that was right before the birth of the tea party, and he quickly became one of the movement’s leading advocates. In March 2009, he launched the successful 9-12 Project, which sought to promote patriotic values. And last August, he drew tens of thousands of people from around the country to a rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, called “Restoring Honor.”

But over the last year, “Glenn Beck” has lost more than a million viewers from its 5:00 p.m.

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OPEC Could Reap $1 Trillion This Year

OPEC Member Countries

OPEC Member Countries

Olga Belogolova writes in the National Journal:

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is set to make a record-breaking $1 trillion in export revenues this year if crude oil prices remain above $100 a barrel, an the International Energy Agency official told the Financial Times.

“It would be the first time in the history of OPEC that oil revenues have reached a trillion dollars,” Chief IAEA Economist Fatih Birol told the Financial Times. “It’s mainly because of higher prices and higher production.”

The possibility of a record-breaking year comes as continued unrest in the Middle East and North Africa, engagement in Libya, and signs of an economic recovery renew debate among policymakers over how to deal with rising global oil prices and their ties to national security.

President Obama will weigh in on the issue [on 30 March] when he speaks about his new four-part “Plan for America’s Energy Security” at Georgetown University.

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