Wal-Mart gives charities the boot

The Salvation Army shouldn’t expect much help from Wal-Mart this holiday season. Neither should the Girl Scouts or local school districts. These and other groups have traditionally solicited donations in Wal-Mart stores, but this year the corporate Grinch is kicking them out.

The charities are a casualty of Wal-Mart’s war with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which aims to organize the employees of Wal-Mart’s 2,941 retail outlets. The superstore doesn’t want union recruiters distributing information on its premises. To prevent the union from crying discrimination, Wal-Mart is kicking all groups out of its stores.



Monsanto cafeteria bans GM foods

Dec. 22


Monsanto’s PR flaks are going hoarse from telling the world that genetically modified foods are perfectly safe — even though they’ve quit eating such foods themselves.

The caterer at the company’s UK headquarters has banned genetically modified foods from the Monsanto cafeteria, according to the ASSOCIATED PRESS. Monsanto does big business in genetically altered crop seeds which produce plants that are more pest- and herbicide- resistant than natural strains. The pollen from Monsanto’s corn varieties has been shown to be lethal to monarch butterflies; that finding and other research has raised concerns that genetically altered foods may be dangerous to humans. Including Monsanto employees, apparently.



Minorities as guinea pigs

Dec. 21


If an experimental vaccine proves to be harmful, chances are that the side effects will hit blacks, Latinos and American Indians hardest. That’s because, as The SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS reports. eight out of 14 childhood vaccines approved since 1990 were tested disproportionately on low-income minorities. In many cases, the potential risks of the vaccines were not properly described to parents of the children receiving them.

In contrast, a previous MERCURY NEWS article reported that minorities are underrepresented in the testing of prescription drugs. The danger of this bias is that it ignores mounting evidence that reactions to some drugs might vary by ethnicity.

Experimental vaccines are especially risky, say many bioethicists, because they are tested on otherwise healthy children. Prescription drugs, on the other hand, are usually tested on sick patients who already need treatment.



Cancer cluster near Army ammo plant

Dec. 20


Robert Anderson’s job at an Army ammunition plant in the 60s and 70s was to check the serial numbers on raw nuclear material beforethe guys with the white suits and geiger counters checked the shipments for radioactivity. Anderson and his coworkers were assured there was no danger and that they did not need protective clothing. Now Anderson has cancer of the lymphatic system, the same disease that has killed two of his former co-workers, and he’s taking his case to the press and Congress, according to the NANDO TIMES.

Anderson notified his local congressman — Tom Harkin, D-Iowa — as part of a community college course he was taking called “Man and the Environment.” Among his revelations: Retired or damaged nuclear weapons were routinely burned in open fields near crops, homes, and livestock.




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