- Hillary Clinton was on the Board of Directors
- drug money
- Peak Oil and just-in-time inventory
"the word mercy is going to have a new meaning, when we are judged by the children of our slaves."
-- musician Bruce Cockburn, "Broken Wheel"
montage credit: cryptogon.com
Fueling Wal-Mart globalization is not preparing for the post-carbon future, even if they put solar panels on a few of their stores.
Shipping boats back and forth between Chinese slave labor factories and the Port of Oakland is not green, efficient or sustainable (even if a Sierra Club propagandist is paid to greenwash it). I doubt that any of the people singing the praises of the new, green Wal-Mart would be willing to work for a week in their factories in China, or let their teenage daughters work there. That would be a test of the sincerity of these marketing campaigns.
Wal-Mart's monopolistic practices make it likely that they will gain even more of a death grip over the "means of production" as rising energy costs force competitors out of business. It is hard for ethical businesses who want to pay their employees a fair wage to compete with Wal-Mart, which does not believe in paying their workers a fair wage, whether in the US or in Chinese sweatshops.
The idea of Wal-Mart going green is as sincere as the wind power turbines at Guantanamo. No, that is not a joke.
A company caught selling non-organic food as supposed organic is not one whose public relations for being "green" should be taken seriously. the only "green" they are interested in is grabbing more pictures of Washington, Lincoln, Franklin, etc.
Hillary Clinton: The Wal-Mart Videos
By Bill Hogan and Alan Green
Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has studiously avoided discussing her five-and-a-half-year tenure as a director of Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer.
Clinton, who served on the Wal-Mart board from November 1986 to May 1992, while she was first lady of Arkansas, makes no mention of the experience in speeches, nor is it listed in her official biography or referenced anywhere on her campaign’s website. Indeed, as The New York Times put it last year, her stint as a director of Wal-Mart “remains a little known chapter in her closely scrutinized career.”
But a mammoth archive of Wal-Mart video footage that has gone all but unnoticed in the 2008 presidential campaign may shed new light into Clinton’s relationship with the company. In this segment from 1991, for example, made public here for the first time by the Center for Public Integrity, Sam Walton, the founder of Wal-Mart, introduces Clinton at the grand re-opening of the company’s original store in Rogers, Arkansas. “Without any question,” he says, “you’ve added more to our board than any person we’ve ever had on that board.”
In the video, Clinton is effusive in her praise of the company that she has now all but disowned. (In 2005 her Senate reelection campaign went so far as to return a $5,000 contribution from Wal-Mart’s political action committee, citing “serious differences with current company practices.”)
“I’m so proud of this company, and everything it represents,” Clinton says in the video clip. “Anytime I travel and I tell people I’m from Arkansas . . . Wal-Mart’s on top of the list, and everybody wants me to tell them about Wal-Mart and Sam Walton and Helen Walton and all of the Wal-Mart associates. It makes me feel real good about what we’re able to do and what we can show and the sort of leadership we’re given.”
For now, the video archive—maintained by a production company that for more than two decades recorded many shareholder meetings and other Wal-Mart events—is the clearest window into Clinton’s relationship with the company. According to The Associated Press, Wal-Mart has refused to release minutes of its board meetings during the period she was a paid director of the company.
|Hillary Clinton was on Wal-Mart's board of directors|
WARD HARKAVY, VILLAGE VOICE, 2000 - Twice in three days last week, Hillary Rodham Clinton basked in the adulation of cheering union members. Her record of supporting collective bargaining, however, is considerably worse than wobbly. Pity the thousands of unionists at last Tuesday's state Democratic convention who chanted her name, and the hundreds of retired Teamsters at Thursday's luncheon in midtown who had interrupted their Founder's Day meal to hear the corporate litigator turned union-loving Democrat deliver a campaign speech.
They would have dropped their forks if they had heard that Hillary served for six years on the board of the dreaded Wal-Mart, a union-busting behemoth. If they had learned the details of her friendship with Wal-Mart, they might have lost their lunches. . . In 1986, when Hillary was first lady of Arkansas, she was put on the board of Wal-Mart. Officials at the time said she wasn't filling a vacancy. In May 1992, as Hubby's presidential campaign heated up, she resigned from the board of Wal-Mart. Company officials said at the time that they weren't going to fill her vacancy.
So what the hell was she doing on the Wal-Mart board? According to press accounts at the time, she was a show horse at the company's annual meetings when founder Sam Walton bused in cheering throngs to celebrate his non-union empire, which is headquartered in Arkansas, one of the country's poorest states. According to published reports, she was placed in charge of the company's "green" program to protect the environment. But nobody got greener than Sam Walton and his family. For several years in the '80s, he was judged the richest man in America by Forbes magazine. . .
Was Hillary the voice of conscience on the board for American and foreign workers? Contemporary accounts make no mention of that. They do describe her as a "corporate litigator" in those days, and they mention, speaking of environmental matters, that she also served on the board of Lafarge, a company that, according to a press account, once burned hazardous fuels to run its cement plants. . .
The Clintons depended on Wal-Mart's largesse not only for Hillary's regular payments as a board member but for travel expenses on Wal-Mart planes and for heavy campaign contributions to Bill's campaigns there and nationally. . .
Meanwhile, Wal-Mart's first lady, who also benefited from Wal-Mart stock, solicits support from union workers. Which makes her words to the elderly Teamsters last week especially poignant: "You can count on me to stand up for the right to collectively bargain!" Right on, sister!
Obama called hypocrite for wife's Wal-Mart link
By Philip Sherwell in New York, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:37pm BST 12/05/2007 (May 12)
As a fluent public speaker, independent-minded wife, devoted mother and professional woman, Michelle Obama has been hailed as an invaluable asset to her husband Barack's mission to capture the Democratic 2008 presidential nomination.
Yet, while her style and performance are winning plaudits on the campaign trail, a little-reported business interest of Mrs Obama's has opened her husband up to one of the criticisms that politicians fear most - the taint of hypocrisy.
She is taking a break from her main job, as a well-remunerated Chicago hospital executive, to campaign for her husband. But she has just been re-elected to the board of an Illinois food-processing company, a position she took up two years ago to gain experience of the private sector.
And the biggest customer for the pickles and peppers produced by Treehouse Foods is the retail giant Wal-Mart, the world's largest corporation and the bête noire of American liberals, including Sen Obama, for its employment practices, most notably its refusal to recognise trade unions. ....
Hillary Clinton, Sen Obama's main rival for the Democratic nomination, can testify to the political dangers in liberal America of being associated with Wal-Mart, even though the company's cost-cutting policy makes its goods more affordable for the low-paid. The New York senator and wife of the former President Bill Clinton still encounters flak for serving on the company's board from 1985 to 1992, before becoming First Lady.
www.katv.com/news/stories/0204/125194.html (no longer on line)
Police Say $30 Million in Cocaine Found Amid Toys in Truck
Tuesday February 10, 2004 2:45pm
Forrest City (AP) - Police found an estimated $30 million worth
of cocaine hidden among a tractor-trailer full of toys headed for Wal-Mart
stores in North Carolina.
State police pulled over a tractor-trailer Sunday on Interstate 40 near Forrest City, saying it was speeding.
Troopers said the truck's driver was cited for driving on a suspended license and that he and a passenger appeared nervous during the traffic stop, so officers asked for permission to search the rig.
According to police, officers found cocaine inside 12 boxes, each containing about 25 kilograms. The total weight of the drugs is estimated at 660 pounds. Two men remain in custody with bond set at $2 million.
Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.
Don't Snort that Barbie
In a scene that could have come right out of the movie Traffic, state troopers in Arkansas found 660 pounds of cocaine tucked away in a truck full of toys destined for Wal-Mart stores in North Carolina, the New York Times reported last week. The truck was stopped for speeding, and the driver and a passenger were arrested. The drugs were valued at $2 million. Now we know how Wal-Mart keeps its prices so low.
|Peak Oil vs. Global Supply Chains|
|Wal-Mart has destroyed local businesses|
“The Wal-Marts of North America have very efficiently and effectively
destroyed almost every local and regional network of economic commercial
interdependency and those networks are going to have to be rebuilt. We’re
going to have to learn how to do retail again on the local level and we’re
not prepared for that.”
-- James Howard Kunstler, from the film “End of Suburbia” (2004) www.endofsuburbia.com
|The Wal-Mart bunker|
Wal-Mart's data center remains mystery
— By Max McCoy
Globe Investigative Writer
JANE, Mo. - Call it Area 71.
Behind a fence topped with razor wire just off U.S. Highway 71 is a bunker of a building that Wal-Mart considers so secret that it won't even let the county assessor inside without a nondisclosure agreement.
The 125,000-square-foot building, tucked behind a new Wal-Mart Supercenter, is only a stone's throw from the Arkansas line and about 15 miles from corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
There is nothing about the building to give even a hint that Wal-Mart owns it.
Despite the glimpses through the fence of manicured grass and carefully placed trees, the overall impression is that this is a secure site that could withstand just about anything. Earth is packed against the sides. The green roof - meant, perhaps, to blend into the surrounding Ozarks hills - bristles with dish antennas. On one of the heavy steel gates at the guardhouse is a notice that visitors must use the intercom for assistance.
What the building houses is a mystery.
Wal-Mart's ability to crunch numbers is a favorite of conspiracy theorists, and its data centers are the corporate counterpart to Area 51 at Groom Lake in the state of Nevada. According to one consumer activist, Katherine Albrecht, even the wildest conspiracy buff might be surprised at just how much Wal-Mart knows about its customers - and how much more it would like to know.
"We were contacted about two years ago by somebody who runs a security company that had been asked in a request for proposals for ways they could link video footage with customers paying for their purchases," Albrecht said. "Wal-Mart would actually be able to view photos and video of customers paying, say, for a pack of gum. At the time, it struck me as unbelievably outlandish because of the amount of data storage required."
But Wal-Mart, according to a 2004 New York Times article, had enough storage capacity to contain twice the amount of all the information available on the Internet. For the technically minded, the exact amount was for 460 terabytes of data. The prefix tera comes from the Greek word for monster, and a terabyte is a trillion bytes, the basic unit of computer storage.
Albrecht, founder of Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion and Numbering, said she never could confirm the contractor's story. That is not surprising, since Wal-Mart seldom comments on its data capabilities and operations.
A Globe request for information about the Jane data center was referred at Wal-Mart headquarters to Carrie Thum, a senior information officer and former lobbyist for the retailer.
"This is not something that we discuss publicly," Thum said. "We have no comment. And that's off the record."
The Jane data center is an enigmatic icon to the power of data, which has helped Wal-Mart become the largest retailer in the world, and to the corporation's growing secrecy since founder Sam Walton's death in 1992. When Wal-Mart constructed its primary data center at corporate headquarters in 1989, it wasn't much of a secret: It was the largest poured concrete structure in Arkansas at the time, and Walton himself ordered a third story.
"Not only had we completely designed it, we were under construction," said Bill Ferguson, a founder of Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects in Memphis, Tenn. "They were pouring foundations, and Sam walked across the parking lot one Friday at the end of the day and said, 'You know, let's add a third floor and put some people up there.'"
Ferguson said the Bentonville data center is built on bedrock and is designed to withstand most natural and man-made disasters, but is not impregnable. The biggest danger, he said, is the area's frequently violent thunderstorms.
"We studied making it tornado-proof, which is difficult," he said. "We calculated the probability of a category 5 tornado hitting it, which was less likely than an airplane crashing into it head-on. At the time, they decided not to."
Since then, Ferguson said, changes have been made to increase the integrity of the structure. The data center was designed with backup generators, fuel on site, and room and board for a skeleton crew in the event an emergency required an extended stay.
Ferguson said his firm learned to design data centers by working with FedEx, which also is based in Memphis, and that the 1989 Wal-Mart data center was built so that it could communicate via any means available - including copper wire, fiber optics and satellites.
|Wal-Mart sells non-organic food as "organic"|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 17, 2007
CONTACT: The Cornucopia Institute
Mark Kastel, 608-625-2042
Organic Fraud: Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Accused of Widespread Distortion Nonorganic Food Products Misidentified as "Organic"
CORNUCOPIA, Wisconsin - January 17 - When the staff at The Cornucopia Institute surveyed Wal-Mart stores around the country last September, analyzing the giant retailer’s pronouncement that they would begin selling a wide variety of organic food at just a 10% mark-up over similar conventional products, they were surprised to discover widespread problems with signage misrepresenting nonorganic food as "organic."
Now, Cornucopia, one of the country's most prominent organic watchdogs is even more surprised that more than four months after informing the company of the problems, which could be interpreted as consumer fraud, and two months after filing a formal legal complaint with the USDA, the federal agency regulating organic labeling, many of the deceptive signs at Wal-Mart stores are still in place.
"It is unconscionable that rather than correct these problems, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. instead responded to our concerns by attacking our comparatively modest public interest group in an effort to discredit our organization in the media,” said Mark Kastel, codirector of the Wisconsin-based Institute. "It is not as if a product recall or store remodeling would have been required to correct Wal-Mart's deceptive consumer practices. They could have simply sent out an e-mail to store managers and corrected the problem instantly."
New store inspections throughout Wisconsin have found that Wal-Mart stores are still selling nonorganic yogurt and sugar identified as organic, and designated organic produce sections continue displaying many nonorganic items, among other widespread abuses. The Cornucopia Institute again contacted the USDA about the ongoing problem but the agency could not confirm that any enforcement action was imminent on the federal level. Cornucopia then filed a consumer fraud complaint with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection on January 13.
"We were very impressed with the immediate and professional response we received from the Wisconsin regulators," stated Will Fantle, Cornucopia's research director. "Within hours officials from the state contacted us to confirm some of the information we submitted and we verified our past interactions with the USDA for them.”
The USDA's organic program has been widely criticized for, among other management problems, not attending to questions of improprieties in a timely manner. In one case a certifier decertified a Florida orange grower who could not document that the oranges and orange juice he was selling were produced organically. More than two years later, pending USDA action, the products were still on the market and being purchased by unsuspecting consumers.
“The vast majority of all organic farmers and food marketers operate with a high degree of organic integrity. These abuses, and the lack of responsible enforcement by the USDA, endangers the credibility of the organic label for all of us, said Tom Willey of T & D Willey Farms of Madera, California, an organic fresh market vegetable producer.
"Wal-Mart cannot be allowed to sell organic food ‘on the cheap’ because they lack the commitment to recruit qualified management or are unwilling to properly train their store personnel. This places ethical retailers, their suppliers, and organic farmers at a competitive disadvantage," Kastel said.
A number of other organic food retailers throughout the country, including Whole Foods Markets and many of the nation’s member-owned grocery cooperatives, have gone to the effort to become certified organic in terms of the handling of their products and have invested heavily in staff training to help them understand organic food production and merchandising concerns.
“Our management and our employees know what organic means,” said Lindy Bannister, general manager at The Wedge Cooperative in Minneapolis, Minnesota. “If Wal-Mart intends to get into organics, they can’t be allowed to misidentify ‘natural’ foods as organic to unsuspecting consumers.” The Wedge, the largest single store food cooperative in the nation, was one of the first retailers to go through the USDA organic certification process.
Cornucopia’s complaints ask the USDA and Wisconsin regulators to fully investigate the allegations of organic food misrepresentation. The farm policy organization has shared their evidence, including photographs and notes, from multiple stores in Wisconsin and in many other states, with the agency’s investigators. Fines of up to $10,000 per violation for proven incidents of organic food misrepresentation are provided for in federal organic regulations.
"The business practices at Wal-Mart are quite disturbing and certainly incompatible with the values that have transformed the organic food industry into a lucrative marketplace," said Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association (www.organicconsumers.org). "We have called today for a boycott of Wal-Mart by organic shoppers until such time as the integrity of their merchandising and product line can be ascertained."
This past September, The Cornucopia Institute also accused Wal-Mart of cheapening the value of the organic label by sourcing products from industrial-scale factory-farms and Third World countries, such as China.
The Institute released a white paper, Wal-Mart Rolls Out Organic Products—Market Expansion or Market Delusion?, that concluded that Wal-Mart was poised to drive down the price of organic food in the marketplace by inventing a "new" organic—food from corporate agribusiness, factory-farms, and cheap imports of questionable quality (available at www.cornucopia.org).
"If unchecked, Wal-Mart's alleged misrepresentation of organic food, along with their procurement practices, and cheapening the meaning behind the organic label, could endanger the livelihoods of many farmers and family business owners who have labored to build organics into a lucrative $16 billion a year industry," Kastel lamented.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Cornucopia Institute’s White Paper, Wal-Mart Rolls Out Organic Products: Market Expansion or Market Delusion?, along with a photo gallery containing images of some of the violations observed and of organic items now being offered for sale at Wal-Mart stores, can be found on the organization’s web page at www.cornucopia.org as can Cornucopia’s legal complaint filed with the USDA regarding Wal-Mart’s alleged organic product misrepresentation.
High-resolution files of these photographs and/or a head shot of Mr. Kastel are available electronically upon request.