NFL will sack Georgia if they pass anti-Gay religious “liberty” law — UPDATED

Roger Goodell, commissioner of the National Football League, is on the cusp of becoming America’s newest gay icon.

Goodell, who has an openly gay brother, and the NFL have emerged as staunch allies in gay rights advocates’ efforts to defeat HB 757, the controversial religious freedom bill that passed the Georgia legislature late last week.

HB 757 began the year as “the Pastor Protection Act,” a measure giving clergy the right to refuse to perform same-sex weddings. But after two trips through the Georgia state House and Senate, the bill now gives faith-based organizations the right to hire and fire people who violate their “sincerely held religious beliefs,” as well as the right to refuse to rent facilities for events they find “objectionable…”

With every expansion of the bill, Georgia legislators were warned by local business leaders not to do to Georgia what Indiana legislators did in 2015, when their own Religious Freedom Restoration Act led to an immediate nationwide backlash, including more than 400 million #BoycottIndiana tweets in the week the bill passed.

A year later, local tourism officials estimate the city lost at least 12 conventions and $60 million in direct business as a result…

Along with LGBT advocates, major players in Georgia’s business community have ripped the legislation.

Coca-Cola, Home Depot, and Delta Airlines oppose it. Michael Dell, Richard Branson, and Jack Dorsey have all spoken out against it. SalesForce CEO Mark Benioff, who has 16,000 employees in Georgia, has warned he’ll pull as much of his business as possible out of the state, tweeting last week:

“Once again Georgia is trying to pass laws that make it legal to discriminate. When will this insanity end?

Some think a sports-mad community like Georgia will listen most of all to folks in leading sports. I think they’re as capable as anyone in the Confederacy of cutting off their noses to spite folks who refuse to kneel before the Georgia version of sharia.

And, BTW, you can add Marvel and Disney to the list of firms ready to boycott the state. Why make a movie in a place that might refuse a room to staff or stars?

UPDATE: Georgia governor vetoes anti-gay religious exemption bill

Georgia’s term-limited Gov. Nathan Deal took a stand against his own party and averted threatened boycotts by major corporations on Monday by announcing his veto of a “religious freedom” bill passed exclusively by Republican lawmakers.

“I do not think that we have to discriminate against anyone to protect the faith-based community in Georgia,” Deal declared.

The bill enumerated a list of actions that “people of faith” would not have to perform for other people. Clergy could refuse to perform gay marriages; churches and affiliated religious groups could have invoked their faith as a reason to refuse to serve or hire someone. People claiming their religious freedoms have been burdened by state or local laws also could force governments to prove there’s a “compelling” state interest overriding their beliefs.

All but 11 Republicans in the Georgia House and Senate voted in favor; all Democrats voted against it.

Deal said he could “find no examples that any of the things this bill seeks to protect us against have ever occurred in Georgia.”

Like most bigots, the things Georgia Republicans feared had never come to pass in the wake of the SCOTUS decisions on gay rights. No different from the days when the “modern” Confederacy crapped their drawers over an end to legal segregation, mixed marriage, the whole agglomeration of laws guaranteeing racist practices. Reactionary politicians centered in the Republican Party, nowadays – Dixiecrats BITD – try their damndest to sink the American Constitution as it proceeds slowly towards actual modern times.

The Party of NO continues to be the Party of Know Nothing, the Party of Do Nothing Useful.

Phony anti-obesity organization fronting for Coca-Cola shutting down

The Global Energy Balance Network, an organization founded to help combat obesity, will be disbanding after months of criticism following a New York Times report…that revealed Coca-Cola had funded the organization.

The group wiped its website clean, leaving a post that said it was discontinuing operations “due to resource limitations.”

Following the August article, public health officials across the country argued that Coca-Cola had funded the group in an effort to play down the association between sugary soft drinks and obesity. While the group had previously claimed that Coke had given them an “unrestricted gift” and the company had “no input” on the research, the Associated Press reported last week that they had obtained emails between Coca-Cola and GEBN group leaders that showed the beverage company had both hand-picked GEBN’s group leaders and, “edited its mission statement and suggested content for the group’s website.” In response, Coke told the AP that its chief scientist, Rhona Applebaum, would be retiring as well.

The New York Times reported yesterday that in an email exchange between James O. Hill, GEBN’s president, and Applebaum, Hill had suggested a study to focus the blame for the rise in obesity on a lack of exercise, and keep it away from the rise in consumption of Coca-Cola’s soft drinks.

Credit where and when due. NY TIMES did the work that exposed Coca-Cola. They deserve measured applause.

Mail me a penny postcard when they stop fronting for the State Department in the Middle East and Asia.

Does research on obesity go better with Coke?


Larry Husten is a medical journalist covering cardiiology

The New York Times reports that Coca-Cola gives financial support to scientists and a new foundation in order to help promote the message that the obesity epidemic is fueled not by too many calories or too much sugar but by not enough physical activity. The Times piece is well worth a read but the issue it takes up is not new.

Last year I wrote a long post which included an interview with a scientist, Carl “Chip” Lavie, a Louisiana cardiologist who is a frequent co-author of Steven Blair, another researcher who is the main focus of the Times story.

[The interview is included in this article]

First let me add one interesting detail that the Times neglected to report. In 2012 Steven Blair was chosen by Coca-Cola, a sponsor of the Olympics, to be a torchbearer for the London summer games.

Lavie writes that his views are “not for sale.” I do not want to suggest anything so stark, but I also think it is fair – and studies have demonstrated – that gifts, even very small gifts, can exert strong unconscious effects. When combined with the flattery and attention of being designated a “key opinion leader” an unconscious alignment with a company can easily occur.

Moreover, as I wrote last year [2013], in a recent paper in PLOS Medicine researchers conducted a systematic review of systematic reviews examining the association between sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain and obesity. For the papers in which the authors reported no conflict of interest, 10 out of the 12 findings supported the association between sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain or obesity. In stark contrast, 5 out of the 6 papers with industry support failed to find evidence for any such association. In other words, systematic reviews with industry support were 5 times more likely to find no significant association.”Our results,” wrote the authors, “confirm the hypothesis that authors of systematic reviews may draw their conclusions in ways consistent with their sponsors’ interests.”

Lavie defends Coke’s funding of research by saying that “pharma does this all the time.” This analogy represents a stretch of logic. Although pharma-funded research is often criticized, and there are many active battles over the precise role for pharma in research, it is widely agreed that pharmaceutical companies must play a vital and important role in medical research. No one would seriously argue that Coca-Cola has medicinal value. The only active question is exactly how bad an effect Coke has on public health. A much better analogy, though still imperfect, is the tobacco industry…

I think it is naive to believe with Lavie that Coke’s main interest in providing financial support to researchers in this field is “to provide a public service.” For-profit companies like Coke and Pepsi don’t spend enormous sums of money just to provide a public service. They expect a significant return on their investment, though this may be difficult to quantify. In any case, it is more than obvious why Coke would be interested in supporting scientists who maintain that sugar does not play an important role in the obesity epidemic…

Readers should be aware of a much larger context here. This is not an isolated incident. Large food and beverage companies have been insinuating their way into the healthcare discussion for many years. In the last few years I’ve noted a number of attempts, subtle and not-so-subtle, by industry to influence health policy. Earlier this year [2014] I reported that the newly elected president of the Institute of Medicine, cardiologist Victor Dzau, was a member of the Pepsico board of directors. In 2012 the president of the American College of Cardiology was chosen by the Coca-Cola Company to carry the Olympic Flame. (Steven Blair, another co-author of the JACC paper, was also chosen by Coke to be a torch-bearer.) Coke also pays a lot of money to the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to put a red dress logo on the Diet Coke label, while the American Heart Association has struck deals with, among others, Cheetos and Subway.

I am sure that these represent just the tip of a very large iceberg.

There’s even more meat in the article. And less sugar. 🙂

Definitely worth a read – not one you’re likely to come across in the news-as-entertainment free press.

Ford and Coca-Cola team up to make renewable fabric for cars

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Click to see the show car

A refreshing research vehicle unveiled today by Ford in partnership with Coca-Cola that uses pop-bottle technology to make fabrics for automobiles.

Ford has outfitted a Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid vehicle with an interior of renewable fabrics developed using Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle technology, introduced in 2009 for plastic bottles. Up to 30% of the normally petroleum-based materials are replaced with plant-based materials.

The research car, which will be on display at the Los Angeles auto show that opens to the media next week, uses the new fabric in the seat cushions, backs and head restraint as well as the headliner and door panel.

This is the first use of PlantBottle outside of pop bottles and stems from a collaboration announced in June 2012 for companies such as Ford, Coca-Cola, Heinz and Nike to work on plastic substitutes not based on fossil fuels. The goal is to find a substitute for PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, which is the plastic used in water bottles, fabrics and carpets.

Ford created a fiber that can be woven into automotive-grade PET fabric. The fabric has the same look and feel as the material it replaces. The automaker will test its durability for an undetermined time period before deciding whether it will go into production.

Ford says if the process were used in interior fabrics across much of its lineup, it would replace 4 million pounds of petroleum-derived materials and save the equivalent of 295,000 gallons of gasoline and 6,000 barrels of oil. It complements other efforts such as using soybeans for seat cushions.

Corporate efforts at designs aiding recycling are praiseworthy. Maybe some of it will rub off on the company creeps who only concern themselves with exploiting natural and human resources.

Coca-Cola soon to be sold in bottle-shaped plastic bags


 

Apparently in many parts of Central America, expensive soda drinks like Coca-Cola are served up in plastic Ziploc bags—instead of glass or plastic bottles—so they’re more affordable. And so the iconic and highly recognizable shape of the Coke bottle isn’t lost, the sugar water maker has created these Coca-Cola bags as a low-cost alternative to its traditional packaging.

Besides being cheaper to produce, and probably even cheaper to ship, the Coca-Cola bags are supposedly more eco-friendly than plastic bottles, and even glass bottles and cans which require quite a bit of energy to recycle.

What do you think? Would you drink Coke out of a plastic bag? There are many cola connoisseurs who claim that Coca-Cola just tastes better out of a glass bottle, and would probably turn their noses up at this idea. But if it’s better for the environment, maybe the company should start distributing these in North America as well.

Keep on rocking in the Free World!

I’m the wrong guy to ask, anyway. It’s been several years since my New Year’s Resolution was to stop drinking carbonated beverages. Never looked back.

Coke and Pepsi change recipes to avoid printing cancer warning

Coca-Cola and Pepsi are changing the recipes for their drinks to avoid being legally obliged to put a cancer warning label on the bottle.

The new recipe for caramel colouring in the drinks has less 4-methylimidazole (4-MEI) – a chemical which California has added to its list of carcinogens. The change to the recipe has already been introduced in California but will be rolled out across the US.

Coca-Cola says there is no health risk to justify the change. Spokeswoman Diana Garza-Ciarlante told the Associated Press news agency they wanted to ensure their products “would not be subject to the requirement of a scientifically unfounded warning”…

The chemical has been linked to cancer in mice and rats, according to one study, but there is no evidence that it poses a health risk to humans, said the American Beverage Association, which represents the wider industry.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims a person would need to drink more than 1,000 cans of Coke or Pepsi a day to take in the same dose of the chemical that was given to the animals in the lab test…

It said that apart from California “not one single regulatory agency around the world considers the exposure of the public to 4-MEI as present in caramels as an issue”.

There’s no truth to the rumor that California is going to require signs posted on popular beaches that skimpy bathing suits cause pregnancy.

How much does it cost to buy a federal agency? $13 million for the National Park Service

Weary of plastic litter, Grand Canyon National Park officials were in the final stages of imposing a ban on the sale of disposable water bottles in the Grand Canyon late last year when the nation’s parks chief abruptly blocked the plan after conversations with Coca-Cola, a major donor to the National Park Foundation.

Stephen P. Martin, the architect of the plan and the top parks official at the Grand Canyon, said his superiors told him two weeks before its Jan. 1 start date that Coca-Cola, which distributes water under the Dasani brand and has donated more than $13 million to the parks, had registered its concerns about the bottle ban through the foundation, and that the project was being tabled. His account was confirmed by park, foundation and company officials.

A spokesman for the National Park Service, David Barna, said it was Jon Jarvis, the top federal parks official, who made the “decision to put it on hold until we can get more information…”

Mr. Martin, a 35-year veteran of the park service who had risen to the No. 2 post in 2003, was disheartened by the outcome. “That was upsetting news because of what I felt were ethical issues surrounding the idea of being influenced unduly by business,” Mr. Martin said in an interview. “It was even more of a concern because we had worked with all the people who would be truly affected in their sales and bottom line, and they accepted it…”

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Refreshments USA, Susan Stribling, said the company would rather help address the plastic litter problem by increasing the availability of recycling programs. “Banning anything is never the right answer,” she said…

Discarded plastic bottles account for about 30 percent of the park’s total waste stream, according to the park service. Mr. Martin said the bottles are “the single biggest source of trash” found inside the canyon.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. One of the significant differences between services responsible for America’s parks and landholdings is the history of battles just like this one. Going back to the days of Reagan’s slavish attitude towards corporate demands, some agencies like the Bureau of Land Management have been led by dedicated rank-and-file employees to confront sellouts. The Park Service continues to be controlled by bureaucrats perfectly willing to be bought – directly or indirectly.

RTFA for more details – if you can stomach the same old political rationales.

Pepsi escalates renewable bottle battle with Coke

Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, cola wars rivals for a century, are now locked in a bottle battle.

PepsiCo Pepsi’s new bottle is made from switch grass, pine bark, corn husks and other materials. Ultimately, Pepsi plans to also use orange peels, oat hulls, potato scraps and other leftovers from its food business.

Two years after Coca-Cola Co. unveiled a bottle made partly from plant materials, PepsiCo says it is introducing a better one. The Purchase, N.Y. company says it has developed the world’s first plastic bottle made entirely from plant-based, fully renewable resources, cutting the use of petroleum. Coke’s PlantBottle is made of up to 30 percent plant sugars…

Beverage companies are trying to design bottles to counter environmental concerns. The bottled water industry is using lighter plastics, dropping the average weight of the 16.9 ounce “single serve” bottle by a third over the past eight years, according to the International Bottled Water Association.

That means less fuel consumed to transport the beverages.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola’s PlantBottle is available in nine countries and is expected to reach more than a dozen other markets this year. More than 2.5 billion PlantBottles have reached the marketplace, a number Coca-Cola says equates to saving about 3 million gallons of gasoline.

The technology will also appear in Heinz bottles, under a partnership with the ketchup-maker, and possibly in bottles for Honest Tea, a Maryland company Coca-Cola just acquired. The PlantBottle is made partly with natural sugars found in sugarcane ethanol from Brazil. Odwalla, a Coca-Cola juice brand, plans to switch to the PlantBottle within the next few weeks.

Before someone brings it up – yes, I know that glass is one of the easiest after-use commodities to recycle. And we’re not about to run out of sand to make glass bottles either. But, either road, glass production in the traditional manner consumes a boatload of energy. And that, too is a commodity which must be paid for by consumers.