Social Justice

The New Whopper: Burger with a Side of Spies

Author Eric Schlosser editorializes about "the growing threat to civil liberties posed by corporate spying," citing Burger King Corporation's spying on the Student/Farmworker Alliance and the Coalition of Immokalee Workers through Cara Schaffer and her private security firm,

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Special Offer: Free Grass to Subject Your Children to Sludge

Sludge keeps rearing its ugly head. Scientists used federal grant money to "spread fertilizer made from human and industrial wastes on yards in poor, black neighborhoods to test whether it might protect children from lead poisoning in the soil." The residents were not alerted to any harmful ingredients in the sludge, and were assured that it posed no health risks for their families.

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British Anti-Terrorism Law Used to Spy on Minors' Smoking, Drinking

A British county has been using an anti-terrorism law enacted in 2000 to spy on minors for petty crimes like using cigarettes and alcohol. The Staffordshire County Council in Britain's Midlands region has been using Britain's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) for a host of non-terrorism-related applications, like monitoring underage liquor and tobacco sales, recording the movements of farm animals and tracking counterfeit DVD sales.

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Lawsuits, Light Cigarettes and Fear-Based Marketing Strategies

Fear-driven marketing gets resultsThe Second Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals missed a great opportunity this week to hold the tobacco industry accountable for one of its worst marketing tactics -- positioning cigarette brands in response to smokers' medical concerns. The April 7, 2008, issue of the New York Times has an article about the dismissal of a huge, class-action lawsuit against the tobacco industry that was brought by smokers of "light" cigarettes who claimed they were misled about the relative safety of "light" cigarettes compared to regular, "full flavor" cigarettes. The suit, and its dismissal by the court, brought to mind a little-recognized tobacco industry marketing survival tactic that weighs heavily on the public's perception of exactly what "light" means.

The tobacco industry has long had a remarkable ability to rescue itself from damaging health claims by turning allegations against its products into marketing opportunities. Inside the industry, the fact that cigarettes cause widespread illness and death is referred to as the "smoking and health" issue, or "S&H issue" for short. Tobacco marketers consider "S&H issues" to be little more than "external marketing forces" that require re-positioning of products, through changes in advertising copy strategy, so that smokers will get an illusion of safety from the dangers they perceive.

When "Civil Rights" Means Ending Affirmative Action

Ward ConnerlyPeople in Colorado who signed an anti-affirmative action ballot initiative petition are charging that petition circulators deceived them about the measure's real purpose and intent.

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Taking a Stand for Their Communities' Health

Low-income California communities concerned with environmental justice have launched a 21-point "Environmental Justice Movement Declaration." Their position is a challenge to the policies of Gov.

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Seeking Protection for Whistleblowers That's Worth Its Salt

The case of Pierre Meneton is fueling demands for legal protections for whistleblowers in France. Meneton is a researcher for the National Institute of Health and the National Institute of Health and Medical Research. He is going to court on January 31, 2008, to face charges of defamation. Several industrial salt producers are suing Meneton for a comment he made during an interview in March 2006. "The lobbying of salt producers and agribusiness is very active.

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