Living With Wild Animals

Last week, a cairn terrier was out of her Northfield home for less than a minute when a coyote attacked and wounded her. Cook County wildlife biologist Chris Anchor, after viewing a home surveillance video of the attack, described it as a defensive attack, with the coyote defending territory during its reproductive season.

Image result for coyote photos

Coexisting with coyotes (and wolves and bears and …) Tribune 2.21.17

I heard a note in the radio news about a woman who’d had a house built on a wooded mountainside in Colorado without much fore-thought.  When a coyote took her little dog, she called the sheriff and asked him to send a deputy to shoot the coyote.  When he refused, she called the Colorado DNR who also refused.  She couldn’t understand that she had planted her home among coyotes, lions, and bears and had to live with them. In a way, haven’t we all done the same thing?  Hey Joe, how do you feel about those skunks?  RJN.

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When unfamiliar residents move into your neighborhood, they may raise concerns, fear and even hostility among those already there. This is particularly true if the new arrivals are of a different species. Coyotes found this out a long time ago when human settlers began taking over much of their habitat. Now, people are finding out the same thing about coyotes.
Last week, a cairn terrier was out of her Northfield home for less than a minute when a coyote attacked and wounded her. Cook County wildlife biologist Chris Anchor, after viewing a home surveillance video of the attack, described it as a defensive attack, with the coyote defending territory during its reproductive season.
Fine, and we accept Anchor’s point that there’s never been a documented case of a coyote biting a person in Cook County. But how should we humans react to increasingly frequent encounters with wildlife in this sprawling metropolis?
In Grayslake, police Chief Phil Perlini was confronted with two separate attacks on small dogs by coyotes near the village. This fall, he posted on Facebook that he was in the market for trappers “to control and/or curb the coyote population.”
But like these animals, people are adaptable. “When I posted that very first Facebook post, I didn’t know anything about coyotes,” he told the Daily Herald. “The thought of humanely trapping the coyotes and humanely relocating them was a possibility in my head.”
Give the chief credit for trying to address the problem without bloodshed. But he learned from wildlife experts that catching and moving the critters wouldn’t solve anything. Remove one coyote from a livable area, and another one will jump at the vacancy.
Those relocated stand a good chance of being killed by other coyotes guarding their territory. Some will be hit by cars trying to get back to where they were caught. Killing campaigns don’t work, either, because the surviving coyotes adapt: They tend to breed at younger ages and bear larger litters in response.
“There is no eliminating this problem,” Perlini concluded. “There’s only coexisting.”
There is a lot more coexisting than there used to be. Coyotes have greatly expanded their range and numbers in recent years, making them a frequent sight in many suburbs and also in Chicago, which is believed to have an established population of at least 2,000. They’ve found that residential areas offer plenty of food and sufficient cover to avoid detection.
Living in such places does present them the risk of unwanted encounters, most often involving dogs or cats, though actual attacks by coyotes are rare. Trying to protect pets by getting rid of coyotes, though, is a futile endeavor. It’s much more feasible to take simple precautions — such as not leaving pets outside unattended, not walking dogs without a leash, and not leaving pet food or garbage in places where it might attract coyotes. There are even ways to “coyote-proof” fences.
As wildlife goes, this type is not exceptionally frightening. People in the Southwest have to contend with rattlesnakes, whose bites can be fatal. People in Montana and Wyoming know the deadly capacity of grizzly bears. In Maine, hundreds of cars collide each year with moose, sometimes killing motorists. In recent years, northern Illinois has had occasional visits from mountain lions, wolves and black bears — animals whose ancestors freely roamed these lands.
Humans, who once took for granted their right to exterminate any creatures that pose a danger, increasingly accept their presence as a sensible accommodation with nature. Anyone leery of coyotes might consider that if these small-brained creatures can learn to coexist, we should be able to do the same.

Tiny New Dyno !

 

Odd-duck dino was mix of duck, croc, ostrich, swan
By Seth Borenstein Associated Press WASHINGTON —  source
 With a bill like a duck but teeth like a crocodile’s, a swanlike neck and killer claws, a new dinosaur speciesHalszkaraptor escuilliei.jpg uncovered by scientists looks like something Dr. Seuss could have dreamed up.
It also had flippers like a penguin, and while it walked like an ostrich it could also swim.
That’s the first time swimming ability has been shown for a two-legged, meat-eating dinosaur.
The tiny creature, only about 18 inches tall, roamed 75 million years ago in what is now Mongolia. Its full curled-up skeleton was found in a sandstone rock.
“It’s such a peculiar animal,” said Dennis Voeten, a paleontology researcher at Palacky University in the Czech Republic. “It combines different parts we knew from other groups into this one small animal.”
In a study released last week by the journal Nature, Voeten and co-authors named it Halszkaraptor escuilliei or “Halszka” after the late Polish paleontologist Halszka Osmolska.
Paleontologist Kristi Curry Rogers of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., who didn’t participate in the study, called it “a pretty crazy chimera: a swan neck and dinosaur body, but with a mouthful of tiny teeth and hands and feet that look like they might be good for swimming.”

Skull of the holotype
Its mashup body let it run and hunt on the ground and fish in water, said study co-author Paul Tafforeau.
He’s a paleontologist at the ESRF, known as the European Synchrotron in Grenoble, France, a powerful X-ray generator where numerous tests were made on the fossil.
Lead author Andrea Cau, a paleontologist at the Geological Museum Capellini in Bologna, Italy, said he was at first highly suspicious about the fossil’s authenticity, both because of its appearance and the fact that the rock containing the skeleton had been smuggled out of Mongolia.
Researchers used the Synchrotron to create three-dimensional images of the fossil, which showed the creature was indeed a single animal.
Even though the creature wasn’t dreamed up by Dr.
Seuss, it got a blessing from aDr.Sues.
Hans Sues, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian Institution who wasn’t part of the research, praised the work and said it “shows again how amazingly diverse dinosaurs were.”

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Whales in Trouble

 

Image result for right whale photos
Only about 450 right whales are left, and 17 of them have died in 2017, NOAA says. ( Stephan Savoia/AP 2008)
By Patrick Whittle Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine — Officials with the federal government say it’s time to consider the possibility that endangered right whales could become extinct unless new steps are taken to protect them.
North Atlantic right whales are among the rarest marine mammals in the world, and they have endured a deadly year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has said there are only about 450 of the whales left and 17 of them have died in 2017.
The situation is so dire that U.S. and Canadian regulators need to consider the possibility that the population won’t recover without action soon, said John Bullard, the Northeast Regional Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. The year of high mortality is coinciding with a year of poor reproduction, and there are only about 100 breeding female North Atlantic right whales left.
“You do have to use the extinction word, because that’s where the trend lines say they are,” Bullard said. “That’s something we can’t let happen.”
Bullard and other NOAA officials made the comments during a Tuesday meeting of the regulatory New England Fishery Management Council. Mark Murray-Brown, an Endangered Species Act consultant for NOAA, said right whales have been declining in abundance since 2010, with females hit harder than males.
The U.S. and Canada must work to reduce the human-caused deaths of the whales, Murray-Brown said. Vessel-strikes and entanglement in fishing gear are two frequently cited causes of the whales’ deaths. “The current status of the right whales is a critical situation, and using our available resources to recover right whales is of high importance and high urgency,” he said.
The animals give birth in temperate southern waters and then head to New England and Canada every spring and summer to feed. All of this year’s deaths were off of New England and Canada.
Some recent scientific studies have shed some light on why whale deaths have ticked up. One, published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, stated that the whales move around much more than previously thought. Some scientists have posited that whales might be venturing outside of protected areas in search of food, putting themselves in harm’s way.
In another study, published last month in the journal Endangered Species Research, scientists examined right whale feces and found whales that suffer long entanglements in fishing gear produce hormone levels that indicate high stress. The stress negatively impacts their ability to reproduce even when they survive entanglement, scientists said.
“My colleagues are trying to find solutions so we can find out how they can continue to fish, but not entangle whales,” said a study co-author, Elizabeth Burgess, an associate scientist with the Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium in Boston.
A five-year NOAA review of right whales that was released in October said the animals should remain on the endangered list. It also included recommendations to protect the species. They included developing a long-term plan for monitoring the population trends and habitat use, and studying the impact of commercial fishing on right whales.

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Thanksgiving Poem

Thanksgiving Poem

                    Thanksgiving  1978

(for Peggy, Lisa and Rich, Philip, and Steven)

Perhaps I should have said it just between                                                           The wine and grace, the wishing and the blessing.                                                           That was the time for words, when the scene                                                                  Had just begun, before we passed the dressing,                                                            Before the knife cut deep into the breast,                                                                               I might have paused, looked up and all around                                                                      Into the eyes of each of them.  A jest                                                                             Came easier, wit tossed into the sound                                                                           And lost.  Between the stuffing and the pie                                                                       Was yet another quiet moment when                                                                                    I could have told them all.  Instead I sighed                                                                        And let it pass. Just once before the end

I should have cried:  “Listen.  Before you go,                                                                          I love you.  I just wanted you to know.”

Pete died recently.

Way to Go, Old Guy!

 

Elderly man crashes into license facility

By Ted Gregory and Suzanne Baker Chicago Tribune 10.10.17
A state driver’s license facility in Naperville has reopened after a 79-year-old Downers Grove man accidentally drove through the front window earlier this week.
The man had completed his road test shortly before noon Tuesday and had driven back to the facility at 931 W. 75th St., Naperville police Cmdr. Louis Cammiso said. With an Illinois secretary of state’s office employee in the passenger seat, the driver shifted the gear of his SUV to reverse and stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake, Cammiso said.
The SUV crashed through the front window and short wall of the state facility. No one was injured.
The driver, who failed his test, was not charged, Cammiso said.
Elburn resident Vince Szafranski said he was seated in the photo area behind a wall waiting for his name to be called in the final stage of renewing his license when he heard the crash.
The noise of the SUV crashing through the window sounded like a bomb going off, he said.
“Honestly, I thought it was a terrorist attack, with all that’s going on in the news these days,” Szafranski said. “All I could think is that this is going to be my last moment, and I’m at the driver’s license facility.”
As he peered over the wall to check what happened, his next concern was for people waiting in the lines by the door, he said.
“There are chairs right there. All I could think of was I hope no one got run over,” he said.
Realizing everyone was fine, Szafranski couldn’t help but laugh.
“You don’t see that every day,” he said. “I was laughing so hard when the lady tried to take my picture. I had to take 10 minutes to get my composure.”
The secretary of state’s office closed the facility after serving people already in the building, spokesman David Druker said Thursday. The building reopened Wednesday morning, he said.
“Thank goodness no one was injured,” Druker added.
Two years ago, an 87-year-old man who was taking his license renewal test crashed his vehicle into a wall at the driver’s license facility in Deerfield. No one was injured and the facility remained open.
Suzanne Baker is a reporter for the Naperville Sun.
tgregory@chicagotribune.com
subaker@tribpub.com

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A few years ago, I went to the Wilmette Public Library, parked in the lot beside the building, and  spent about 15 minutes inside.

When I came out I saw  fire equipment and police in the lot.  I was told a woman had driven her car into the library trying to park diagonally just outside the book processing office.  The front end of her car  was in the big windows of that office.  I didn’t learn her age.

I had heard nothing when this happened nor felt a tremor.

Now we have  a row of 4′ steel bollards guarding the building

That was not long after someone drove into the I-HOP here.

RJN

Whoops! More Good Folks

I love to report on good-deed-doers.

This morning as Alice was making pancakes, I told her I was going out to get the newspaper, one of my little morning chores.

Leaving the front door I saw the paper on the ground under the tree in the parkway where the ground rises a little and there are exposed roots.  Using my cane I got down the stairs and onto the sidewalk, but I didn’t take enough notice of the ground and went down on my face.

By now I think everyone knows that an old guy lacks the strength and agility to get himself up after a fall.  In warm weather, windows open, I would have called for Alice, but I knew she would miss me eventually.  It was only a little chilly this morning and I knew there would be passing cars, dog-walkers, others who would notice the old man down.

A couple of cars went by; a young man walked by on the other side of the street; I’m acquainted with him, don’t think he notices anything.

The the breakfast cook remember me,  She hurried out the front door in her robe.  In previous falls, Alice has been able to raise me with a handlock and a good pull.  Not this time.

 

Then two things happened at once.

— A car stopped along the curb about 30 feet away and a brown-faced young woman in scrubs started to get out.  I waved at her.

—  I felt strong arms close around my chest from behind and heard a voice say, “Relax” as he put me on my feet.  I turned around and saw a stocky man about 50.  I thanked him several times and shook his hand and he walked to his car.

The girl in scrubs watched Alice and me until we had gotten safely in the house.

Alice makes good pancakes, serves them with little sausages, and Canadian maple syrup from a jug marked with a price about the same as pretty good whiskey.

RJN

 

 

 

 

Nestle’s Sins

We eat/use lots of Nestle products, candy bars to dog food, and don’t often think about the evil that company has done.  In one bright move, they sent a sales force into Africa to dress as doctors and persuade women to stop breast-feeding and give their babies a Nestle formula which had to be prepared with questionable local water.  They ran a marketing campaign among the poor in Brazil by setting local people as dealers to push junk food

Here’s the story.

Maggi advertisement in Senegal  Wikipedia

 Why Nestle is one of the most hated companies in the world  

Child labor, unethical promotion, manipulating uneducated mothers, pollution, price fixing and mislabeling – those are not words you want to see associated with your company. Nestle is the world’s largest foodstuff company, and it has a history that would make even hardcore industrialists shiver. We’re gonna look at why Nestle has such a bad reputation and whether or not it deserves it.

Introduction

Nestle company

Just some of Nestle’s more well-known brands. Image via Rasica.

People love to hate, and they really love to hate on big companies – whether or not they have a reason to. I especially dislike it when the latter happens. Companies (big companies included) are the very backbone of our economy, and they often get a bad rep for little or no reason. But sometimes there is a reason, or as in this case, several solid reasons, as we’ll see below. Which brings me to the next point: why are we writing this article? ZME Science is a science website (crazy, right?), and this is not strictly science, at least not in the way our regular articles are. But we also write about environmental issues, especially when they affect many of us, and especially when we can make a difference.

Nestle is a Swiss multinational food and beverage company. According to Wikipedia, their products include baby food, bottled water, breakfast cereals, coffee and tea, confectionery, dairy products, ice cream, frozen food, pet foods, and snacks. Twenty-nine of their brands have sales of over $1 billion a year and have over 8,000 brands. They have 447 factories across 194 countries and employ around 333,000 people. They truly are what you would call a giant. They’re also considered to be one of the best employers in Europe with six LEED certifications and sponsor numerous activities and sustainable projects. Looking at only these stats, it would seem that Nestle is one of the “good guys”… but then why are they so hated? Let’s take it step by step.

Baby Formula and Boycott

We’re in the ’90s, and this is a sad story about poverty, breastfeeding, and greed. Nestle aggressively pushed their breastfeeding formula in less economically developed countries(LEDCs), specifically targeting the poor. They made it seem that their infant formula was almost as good as a mother’s milk, which is highly unethical for several reasons.

Nestle ad. Image via Unlatched.

The first problem was the need for water sanitation. Most of the groups they were targeting – especially in Africa – didn’t have access to clean water (many don’t to this day), so it was necessary for them to boil the water. But due to low literacy rates, many mothers were not aware of this, so they mixed the formula with polluted water which put the children at great risks. Nestle seems to have knowingly ignored this and encouraged mothers to use the formula even when they knew the risks. Breastfeeding, one of the most important aspects for an infant, especially in unsanitized areas, was cast aside. Baby formula was “the nearest thing in the world”, and this “splendid triumph of care and science” is “so like mother’s milk that the tiny stomach won’t notice the difference”. But the tiny stomach did notice the difference.

“Breastfeeding is unparalleled in providing the ideal food for infants.The optimal way to feed a baby is exclusive  breastfeeding for the first six months followed by breastfeeding combined with complementary foods until the child is two years old…” –  a 2007 Save the Children report.

Many mothers were able to read in their native language but were still unable to read the language in which sterilization directions were written. Even if mothers understood the need to boil the water, they might not have had the facilities to do so. UNICEF estimates that a formula-fed child living in disease-ridden and unhygienic conditions is between 6 and 25 times more likely to die of diarrhea and four times more likely to die of pneumonia than a breastfed child. Another problem was that mothers tended to use less formula than needed – to make the jar last longer, resulting in many infants receiving inadequate amounts.

But even if the water was boiled, and even if the formula was administered in the right proportion and in the right quantity, it is lacking in many of the nutrients and antibodies that breast milk provides. Breast milk contains the required amount of the nutrients essential for neuronal (brain and nerve) development, and to some extent, protects the baby from many diseases and potential infections. According to the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), Nestle used unethical methods to promote their infant formula to poor mothers in developing countries. But it gets even worse.

boycott nestle

Rachael Romero, San Francisco Poster Brigade
Boycott Nestle, 1978
poster
Courtesy Inkworks Press Archive, Berkeley, CA

IBFAN claims that Nestle distributes free formula samples to hospitals and maternity wards; after leaving the hospital, the formula is no longer free, but because the supplementation has interfered with lactation, the family must continue to buy the formula. Nestle denies those allegations… sort of.

“Nestlé takes reports on non-compliance with the WHO Code very seriously and we have endeavored to investigate all allegations brought to our attention, despite the fact that in many cases we are not provided with accurate details substantiating the accusations. This makes it difficult for us to investigate how, where and when the alleged infringement could have occurred. Some of the allegations are several years old before they are brought to public attention, which also could complicate the investigation.”

Back then, Nestlé’s response was that their critics should focus on doing something to improve unsafe water supplies, which contributed to the health problems associated with bottle feeding. They also later used this approach to promote their bottled water. As The Guardian puts it, “its huge marketing budgets clearly influence peoples’ behaviour, even if direct causality can’t be demonstrated.”

Today, several countries and organizations are still boycotting Nestle, despite their claims to be in compliance with WHO regulations. There’s even a committee, the International Nestlé Boycott Committee that monitors their practices. Several universities and student organizations have also joined the boycott, especially in the UK.

There is no clear, public number of lives that were lost due to this aggressive marketing campaign, and of course, Nestle is not directly responsible for their tragedies. But it was easy for them, as it was easy for everybody to see the risks and the negative effects their formula was having. It was easy for them to save many lives, but they chose the money instead. Profits before children – check. Let’s move on.

Nestle and Water

Brown admitted that Nestlé currently wastes about 30% of the 700m gallons of water a year it draws from the ground in California. Image via Sum of Us.

Few people know it, but Nestle is actually the world’s largest producer of bottled water. In fact, they’re so keen on their water business (which also involves many of their other products), that they believe water isn’t a universal right. Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe said:

“There are two different opinions on the matter [or water]. The one opinion, which I think is extreme, is represented by the NGOs, who bang on about declaring water a public right. That means that as a human being you should have a right to water. That’s an extreme solution.”

Having access to water is not an extreme solution. It’s what we have called a basic need for centuries. Even Brabeck, after the media attack that followed, backed down. He said that he “believes that water is a human right” and “advocates for universal access to safe drinking water”. But his actions, as well as Nestle’s actions, show that that’s just greenwashing.

If you care about the environment, find out the latest news — join our community!
At the second World Water Forum in 2000, Nestle pushed for making access to drinking water from a “right” to a “need,” a defining change. Meanwhile, Nestle drains the aquifers it controls as much as possible, without any regards to sustainable usage or environmental concerns. A recent case is the California drought – an issue without precedent in the past 1,200 years. But Nestle doesn’t care. Even as Starbucks recently announced they would transfer their Ethos water bottling facility from California to Pennsylvania, Nestle CEO Tim Brown said: “Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase [water bottling operations], I would.”

Yes, if he could, he’d increase water bottling operations, even though Nestle has been working without a permit since 1988. Inhabitat reports that the company has been sourcing its water from the San Bernardino National Forest without a permit and they’ve been recently been bumped to the front of the queue for permit renewal (which will take around 18 months), and they can keep working in the meantime as long as they pay a laughable $524 annual fee. Also, California doesn’t know how much water Nestle uses, because they have no legal grounds for making the company divulge this information, and Nestle hasn’t published any reports. An independent analysis puts all their water usage at 1 billion gallons a year.

Arguably, that’s not much when you considering that 500 billion gallons of water that will be saved under Gov. Brown’s new water restrictions, but there’s something absurd and immoral about a private company using as much water as they want while the rest of the state is facing severe restrictions.

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LATE BULLETIN
Richard,

We just beat Nestlé!

For nine years, we’ve worked with the community in Hood River County and people across Oregon to stop Nestlé’s plan to grab their water and build a water bottling plant.

The community never gave up the fight against Nestlé’s attempt to take their water — and they won.

After years of building opposition locally, the issue was finally put on the ballot last year. Voters in Hood River County overwhelmingly voted to ban water bottling in the area and keep Nestlé out. But the state still tried to move forward with a deal that would give Nestlé access to the area’s water. After more pressure from the community, Oregon Governor Kate Brown directed her Department of Fish and Wildlife to stop the deal!

This is your victory, too. Food & Water Watch supporters like you stood in solidarity with the community in Oregon, and many pitched in to help win the ballot fight last year.

This win is also a testament to the power of people standing together to stop corporations more interested in record profits than protecting our communities.

Forward this email or click here to share the good news on Facebook.

Victory over Nestle

We never doubted that a victory like this was possible. We’ve seen time and again that when communities stand together in the face of corporate interests, they can win. It’s not always easy, but it’s always possible, and we wanted to share this good news with you right away.

We know there will be more fights in other places, and we’ll be ready for them. But I wanted to let you know that your support makes victories like this possible.

Thanks for everything you do,

Sarah Spooner
National Email Program Manager
Food & Water Watch
act(at)fwwatch(dot)org

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But other areas in the world have it even worse than California.In the small Pakistani community of Bhati Dilwan, a former village councilor says children are being sickened by filthy water. Who’s to blame? He says it’s bottled water maker Nestle, which dug a deep well that is depriving locals of potable water.

“The water is not only very dirty, but the water level sank from 100 to 300 to 400 feet,” Dilwan says. (source)

water nestle

The small village of Bhati Dalwan is suffering a water crisis following the development of a Nestle water bottling facility. Image source.

Indeed, unsustainable usage of aquifer water can lead to a significant decrease in water levels, and can even exhaust the aquifer. That’s right, underground water isn’t the inexhaustible source many people believe it to be. In the case of Bhati Dilwan, people are getting sick because if the community had fresh water piped in, it would deprive Nestle of its money source – bottled water under the Pure Life brand. Greedily using natural resources for profits? Check.

But when Nestle isn’t trying to privatize water or use it without regards to the environment, it’s simply bottling… tap water. A Chicago-based business has sued the company (again), claiming that the five gallon jugs of Ice Mountain Water they bought were nothing else than tap water. It may come as a shock to you, but nearly half of the bottled water in PET plastic bottles is actually from a tap – though Nestle never advertised this. They know what’s likely going to happen though, as this is almost a dress rehearsal of a previous scandal. Twelve years ago Nestle Waters was sued over allegation of false labeling, and ultimately settled for $10 million in charitable contributions and discounts.

 

Child labor, abuse, and trafficking

Most people love chocolate, but few know the dirty deals behind chocolate production. The 2010 documentary The Dark Side of Chocolate brought attention to purchases of cocoa beans from Ivorian plantations that use child slave labour. The children are usually 12 to 15 years old, and some are trafficked from nearby countries – and Nestle is no stranger to this practice.

child work Nestle

Children labor was found in Nestle’s supply chain. Image via Crossing Guard Consulting.

In 2005, the cocoa industry was, for the first time, under the spotlight. The International Labor Rights Fund filed a lawsuit against Nestle (among others) on behalf of three Malian children. The suit alleged the children were trafficked to Côte d’Ivoire, forced into slavery, and experienced frequent beatings on a cocoa plantation. In 2010, the US District Court for the Central District of California determined corporations cannot be held liable for violations of international law and dismissed the suit – a controversial decision which has since been appealed. But even if Nestle wasn’t legally liable for these abuses, they are, at least morally. But that wasn’t the only case of this kind.

A report by an independent auditor, the Fair Labor Association (FLA), says it found “multiple serious violations” of the company’s own supplier code. It was reported that Nestle hadn’t carried out checks against child labor and abuse. Additionally, many injuries caused by machetes, which are used to harvest cocoa pods, have been reported. Nestle’s excuse can be summed up broadly as ‘everybody does it’:

“The use of child labour in our cocoa supply chain goes against everything we stand for,” says Nestle’s Executive Vice-President for Operations Jose Lopez. “No company sourcing cocoa from the Ivory Coast can guarantee that it doesn’t happen, but we can say that tackling child labour is a top priority for our company.”

The FLA reported that Nestle was fully aware of where their cocoa was coming from and under what conditions, but did little to improve conditions. Child slavery and abuse? Check.

Health Threats

In July 2009, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned consumers to avoid eating any varieties of prepackaged Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough due to risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7 (a foodborne bacterium that causes illness). In the US, it caused sickness in more than 50 people in 30 states, half of whom required hospitalization. In particular, one woman had a fatal infection before the batch was reclaimed.

“The fact that our product was implicated in Linda Rivera’s 2009 illness and tragic passing was obviously of grave concern to all of us at Nestle,” the company said in a statement. “Since then, we have implemented more stringent testing and inspection of raw materials and finished product to ensure the product meets our high quality standards,” which sort of makes you wonder – why weren’t stringent testing and inspections implemented in the first place?

But this is just a minor incident compared to the 2008 Chinese Milk Scandal. Six infants were killed and 860 were hospitalized with kidney problems after Nestle products were contaminated with melamine, a substance sometimes illegally added to food products to increase their apparent protein content.

In October 2008, Taiwan Health ministry announced that six types of milk powders produced in China by Nestlé contained low-level traces of melamine and were removed from the shelves.

The scandal quickly escalated, with China reporting over 300,000 victims, raising concerns about the security of major food companies operating in China. Two people were executed and several life prison sentences were issued, with the World Health Organization (WHO) referring to the incident as one of the largest food safety events it has had to deal with in recent years.

Nestle denied implication and claimed that all its products are clean, but the Taiwan government linked their products to toxic melamine. As a response, Nestle says it has sent 20 specialists from Switzerland to five of its Chinese plants to strengthen chemical testing.

Nestle’s CEO, Peter Brabeck.

Pollution

As with any “respectable” large company, Nestle has been involved in several incidents regarding pollution. A 1997 report found that in the UK, over a 12 month period, water pollution limits were breached 2,152 times in 830 locations by companies that included Cabdury and Nestle. But again, the situation in China was much worse.

While people in the US and Europe are slowly becoming more environmentally concerned and some are opting for more sustainable sources of water, Nestle has moved to another market – Asia. Alongside companies such as Kraft or Shell, Nestle made several environmental violations.

Nestle Sources Shanghai Ltd’s bottled water manufacturing plant also made the list for starting operation before its wastewater treatment facilities had passed an environmental impact assessment.

“These are only some of the water pollution violations committed by multinational companies in China, since our website has yet to cover information about air and solid waste pollution,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs. “The parent companies in their home countries are models for environmental protection. But they have slackened their efforts in China.”

Another article claims that Nestle capitalizes on China’s already-polluted waters to make a good profit, while Corporate Watch highlights the fact that Nestle continues to extract water illegally from Brazil for their Perrier brand. Although Nestlé lost the legal action, pumping continues as it gets through the appeal procedures, something which can take ten years or more.

Ethiopian Debt

Ethiopia was going through a nation-wide famine. Image via Wikipedia.

In 2002, Nestle made what turned out to be a colossal error: demanding that Ethiopia pay them back a debt of US$6 million. There’s nothing wrong with that per se… if Ethiopia wasn’t facing extreme famine at the time. For a company that has 29 brands that make over $1 billion a year, asking a famine-stricken country to pay you back 6 million seems questionable, to say the least.

Nestle’s claim dates back to the 1970s when the military regime in Addis Ababa seized the assets of foreign companies.

The public roar came almost overnight; with the company receiving 40,000 letters from outraged people, in one of the most famous cases of public opinion beat corporate greed. In the end, Nestle took a U-turn, settling for a partial debt which was also invested in the country’s bouncing back from famine. For Nestle, who initially insisted that the compensation issue was “a matter of principle” and that it was in the best interest of Addis Ababa to settle the demand to repair its record with foreign investors, it was a huge moral defeat. For analysts, it was an exciting case which showed that even giants can falter in the face of public opinion.

“This is a welcome result because it shows that Nestle is not immune to public pressure,” said Phil Bloomer, a senior policy analyst.

A Deal With Mugabe

Striking dubious partnerships to make a profit seems to be a recurring theme. The Swiss multinational made a deal with the wife of the infamous dictator from Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe, buying 1 million liters of milk a year from a farm seized from its rightful owners by Grace Mugabe

Grace has taken over at least six of Zimbabwe’s most valuable white-owned farms since 2002, building a farming empire from illegally confiscated farms, which led to an international boycott, as well as EU and US sanctions. She is known for her ridiculously lavish lifestyle, which includes overseeing the construction of two luxuriant castles. In 2014, she was given a doctorate diploma only three months after signing up for the program. Nestle went forward with the deal though, even as the country’s agriculture-based economy was collapsing and inflation was reaching unheard of levels.

Price Fixing

The price fixing was arranged for Kit Kat and other chocolates. Image via Wikipedia.

In Canada, the Competition Bureau raided the offices of Nestlé Canada (along with those of Hershey Canada Inc. and Mars Canada Inc) in an investigation on price fixing. Nestlé and the other companies were subject to class-action lawsuits and ultimately settled for $9 million, without actually admitting liability. Furthermore, former president and chief executive officer of Nestle Canada is facing criminal charges.

In the US, another, larger trial was rejected, because even though it was plausible that the same thing happened in the US, there was no clear evidence of any foul play. The suspicion remained however and still lingers with the company.

Promoting Unhealthy Food and Mislabeling

That Nestle is promoting unhealthy food should come as no surprise, but the level at which they operate it is simply staggering. A recent report by the UK Consumers Association claims that 7 out of the 15 breakfast cereals with the highest levels of sugar, fat, and salt were Nestle products.

“Nestlé claims to be ‘the world’s leading nutrition, health, and wellness company’, but when it comes to food marketing to kids, Nestlé is a laggard, not a leader,” said CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wootan.

Nestle dismissed all responsibility in promoting healthy food. To pour even more salt in the foods wound, mister Brabeck came out with a dismissive interview in the Telegraph, claiming that he is not obese yet ‘every morning I have a tablet of dark chocolate as my breakfast’ and that it is the perfect balance and contains everything he needs for the day. Hey, after all, who would actually think that Nestle’s cereals are healthy, right?

Image via Vevivos.

But while Nestle’s labels aren’t simply misleading, they have also been downright false. In November 2002, police ordered Nestle Colombia to decommission 200 tons of imported powdered milk, because they were falsely relabeled, not only as a different, local brand, but also with a different production date. A month later another 120 tons suffered the same fate, causing uproar among the Colombian population.

Nestle bringing old powdered milk from a different country and labeling as local and new is not only unethical and illegal, but it poses health hazards for consumers.

Drawing the Line

All major companies have incidents, accidents and scandals. When you have so many people working for you, it’s virtually impossible to maintain a clean sheet. Someone will eventually screw up, someone will eventually do something they should. As I was preparing to write this article, a friend actually asked me if other companies don’t have a similar record, and advised me to look at Mars, for example. What I found was that Mars and other big companies have indeed had their share of scandals (sometimes the same ones as Nestle), but not nearly on the same scale. Nestle has shown, time and time again, that they have few ethics and little interest in a real social responsibility. From promoting their formula to uneducated African mothers to lying about production dates, to using water without a permit to dealing with ruthless dictators, they have often gone the extra mile to make an extra profit – even when the extra mile meant hurting people, directly or indirectly.

 

 

Halloween 4 & 5

4–Alice worked hard to give kids a little extra fun.  Instead of having each one choose from a display of little stuffed animals and small toys, she tied a string to each and hid the them behind a table.  Each child would choose a string and the pull up the toy like a fish.  Some learned to pull hand-over-hand instead of just taking an end and walking back.  Only about 25 kids showed up.  I especially liked the one in a wolf’s head.

Cute Vintage Halloween Cat Image - The Graphics Fairy

5–John’s story--Each October 31st,  Halloween, over 1,000 kids descend on our Ravenswood Manor area in the Albany Park neighborhood, north side of Chicago. Their families  are from the Mediterranean to Middle East to Mexico, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Cambodia, Korea and elsewhere.  Parents walk and drive in to Ravenswood Manor from the surrounding neighborhoods with kids anxious to trick-or-treat at the nearly 400 classic Bungalow and Four Square  homes that comprise this National Historic District.

Neighbors decorate their houses (some elaborately) with orange lights, ghouls, goblins, and ghosts.  There is very little doorbell-ringing, because each neighbor plops a chair at the end of the walkway in front of the house, and children queue from the sidewalk while their parents proudly and patiently watch and wait. There are witches, and devils, and Power Rangers, and Minions, and princesses, Cubs players, and Harry Potters, and rock stars, and…teenagers.  Some of the Trick-Or-Treaters are wee and parents carry them up the walkway. Some get flustered and forget the Halloween protocol. Some are terribly shy.  Some kids offer their “Trick-Or-Treat” in newly acquired English. All are terribly cute.
Each year I survey the scene at the peak hour, as Beth and I sit side-by-side with a huge bucket of candy between us. I hear none on the typical city noises – police sirens, cars and trucks– I hear only  the sounds of excited kids running and playing and shouting, “I gotta Twix!”  I see that no street parking spot is free and I see hundreds of parents and children strolling down our street  visiting as many houses as possible. In the morning the neighborhood is again quiet.  The Halloween decorations are damp and still. I’m already looking forward to next year.       jpnugent   🙂

3 Halloween Notes

Clipart - Cat and Jack-O-Lantern

1–My sister Carol had a costume party in our basement when she was about 16.  Hard to understand why Dad permitted that and why Mom (RN) permitted each guest  be welcomed to a collapsing chair.

One kid, an uppity girl, came in a dress consisting entirely of little black beads which flew  all over the basement when her uppity butt hit the concrete floor. As she was put back on her feet, she wailed, “Oh, you naughty children!”

2–When Joanne and I were married, we set up housekeeping in a third floor apartment in a court building in south Evanston, Illinois.  She got very excited about our first Halloween there–bought lots of candy, devised costumes for both of us, decorated the front door of our apartment. And no one came!

We might have noticed there were few houses in the neighborhood, no kids in the park.   In1956, the black kids who lived across the street had no idea how welcome they would be at our door.

3–Alice loves Halloween and sees usually about 60 kids. They don’t get candy here.  They get to choose from a collection  of little stuffed animals and other toys Alice has won on the arcade at the Circus, Circus casino in Las Vegas.

One year, Alice passed up Halloween at home for a complex trip focused on a total solar eclipse in the South Pacific. I took it on myself to cover hero trick or treat job.

I had a long, gray, hooded robe for my costume. I drew red lines on a pair of examination gloves, and bought a black face mask.  I changed the porch lights to orange.  And I prepared to give away a lot of little pieces of  Vegas junk.

I enjoyed seeing all the kids and chatting with their parents.

Then came the headless butler, about 11 years old, alone except for an adult who tried to go unnoticed. From below the stairs, he said his “trick or treat”.  I pointed at him and said slowly in a gruff voice, “You don’t have a mouth.  You can’t eat candy.”

He said, “Oh yes I can” and started to pull off his costume.  I shouted, “Don’t do that” and took him in to choose a toy.

Alice told me later that I might better have said, “What a wonderful costume! However can you eat candy?”

 

 

 

New Apple Store Kills Birds

 

New Apple store to dim lights at night after group says birds are flying into its glass

Blair Kamin

Blair KaminContact ReporterChicago Tribune  10.30.17 (I like  Blair Kamin and his work on buildings and related matters in the  Trib. He’s written several books, a couple related to Chicago.  RJN)  See note below.

Facing criticism from wildlife groups who say its glassy new Chicago store is causing deadly bird strikes, Apple plans to dim the store’s lights Friday night, a company spokesman said, and will continue to do so during the fall migration season.

Members of Chicago Bird Collision Monitors, a volunteer group that rescues migrating birds that collide with buildings, have said they’ve found dead birds at the Apple store since it opened Oct. 20. The group blames the store’s exterior glass walls and night lighting. At night, according to experts, birds often become disoriented by city lights, then crash into buildings and fall to the ground.

(See also article on bird workers with 2 video links in this blog.)

In response to the criticism, Nick Leahy, a spokesman for the Cupertino, Calif.-based computer-maker, said Friday: “Starting tonight, at least until we can get through the migratory season, we will get the lights down as much as can overnight.”

Located at 401 N. Michigan Ave., the store is on the north bank of the Chicago River and not far from the lakefront, a major bird migratory route.

The store’s manager, Leahy said, “acknowledged that there had been bird strikes, but it wasn’t a larger number.”

The city of Chicago has a “Lights Out” program that encourages the owners and managers of high-rises to turn off or dim decorative lights. The Apple store is two stories tall.

A city website describing the “Lights Out” program says: “Thousands of migratory birds are settling to rest in the early morning hours, seeking shelter and food after their long migratory journey. They can collide with lighted glass as they try to enter the space behind it. Research has shown that birds do not see glass.”

London-based Foster + Partners designed the $27 million store, whose facade consists of huge sheets of floor-to-ceiling glass. The firm’s chief designer on the project, Stefan Behling, said the architects had studied the possibility of bird strikes and had concluded that it would not be a problem.

_______________________________

Blair Kamin is the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic of the Chicago Tribune. A graduate of Amherst College and the Yale School of Architecture, he holds honorary degrees from Monmouth University and North Central College, where he serves as an adjunct professor of art. Kamin has lectured widely and has discussed architecture on numerous programs, from ABC’s “Nightline” to NPR’s “All Things Considered.” He is the winner of more than 40 awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, the George Polk Award for Criticism and the American Institute of Architects’ Institute Honor for Collaborative Achievement. He has twice been a Pulitzer Prize juror. Kamin lives in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette with his wife, Chicago Tribune writer Barbara Mahany. They have two sons, Will and Teddy.   Amazon.com 

bkamin@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @BlairKamin