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From Jennifer Elrod <jenelrod@fnmail.com>
Date Mon, 22 Jan 2001 15:57:08 -0500 (EST)

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At the request of a list member who asked me to publish a list of corporate oppressors, here is a follow up to the article I posted about multinationals' counterintelligence activities against protesters.  I'll start with the names of other corporate clients of Infonics besides Sony.  I got these names directly from Infonic's website at: http://www.infonic.com/credentials/testimonials.htm

British Airways
Miller/Shandwick Technologies
Levi Strauss & Co.
British Steel

Infonics provides reports to some clients through their extranet, which can then be accessed via the internet through a username and password.

More on PR firms and their corporate clients:

A list of Public Affairs Council member: http://www.pac.org/join/listmem.htm

A press release from the Public Affairs Council about cyberactivism:  http://www.pac.org/pubs/cyberactivism.htm

A Corporate Watch article about companies spying for free trade:  http://www.corpwatch.org/headlines/2000/227.html

An article about PR firms for hire to undermine democracy:  http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/index.cfm?St=4

An article in PR Watch about Hill and Knowlton, a large corporate and government PR firm:  http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1997Q1/risky.html

Another corporate spy/PR firm is MBD (Mongoven, Biscoe, & Duchin, Inc.)  Here is an article about them:  http://www.ibiblio.org/farming-connection/news/stories/970117.htm

The phenomenon of corporations squelching critics and activists is not new, of course.  Here are some specific examples from before the WTO protest in Seattle:

*  In 1996, Fox Television pressured the husband-wife journalist team of Steve Wilson and Jane Akre to change the wording of their broadcast on Monsanto’s product rGBH (recombinant bovine growth hormone).  “Cancer” became “health effect”.  This came about due to two letters that Fox executives received from Monsanto lawyers.  The first letter spoke of “enormous damage” Monsanto would; the second spoke of “dire consequences” for Fox if Fox ran the series.  Fox took retaliatory personnel action against Akre after she threatened to blow the whistle to the FCC.  The good news is that in August 2000, Wilson and Akre were awarded $425,000 in damages from Fox.  More info on this story is available at http://www.prwatch.org/prwissues/1998Q2/foxbgh.html

*  In 1998, Monsanto fined a Kentucky grower $25,000 for illegally saving Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed.  This was one of hundreds of cases of Monsanto tracking down and fining farmers who saved seed to plant instead of buying it from Monsanto.  These cases are dwarfed, however, by the behavior of Monsanto in India, where Monsanto performed secret experiments with genetically engineered crops.  No one knows if the genetically engineered crops produced hybrids with Indian peasant crops, thus polluting the indigenous seed stock that had been cultivated for millennia.  From the December 14, 1998 issue of PANUPS (the Pesticide Action Network Update Service)  http://www.panna.org/panna/   Their sources: "Monsanto Releases Seed Piracy Case Settlement Details," Monsanto press release, September 29, 1998; "Monsanto Tracks Down Seed Violators," Evansville Courier, October 28, 1998; "Terminator Technology Prevents Farmers from Saving Seed," Global Pesticide Campaigner, June 1998; Agrow: World Crop Protection News, November 27, 1998. The source of the info on genetically engineered crops in India was an SEAC- ANNOUNCE posting from November 30, 1998.

*  More about Monsanto can be found at http://www.purefood.org/monlink.htm.  Monsanto was one of the corporations that was represented at the WTO convention in Seattle.  Among other goals, Monsanto would like to patent water.

*  In 1999, federal scientists took samples near one of Florida’s most polluted rivers, the Fenholloway River in Taylor County, to see if a pulp mill was releasing dioxin.  Dioxin is one of the most toxic of industrial poisons, made famous by Love Canal and the primary ingredient in Agent Orange.  After the tests were completed, the government would not release all of the data.  The polluting company, Tennessee-based Buckeye Mill, is blocking the release of the test results by claiming that they are “confidential business information”.  Proctor and Gamble opened the mill on Fenholloway River in 1954 and ran it for decades.  In the early 1990s, P&G sold the mill to a group of its former executives.  P&G is still the mill’s largest customer.  Buckeye Mill produces more than a thousand tons a day of chlorine-bleached cellulose used in sanitary napkins, tampons and disposable diapers.  According to David Helvarg, the author of The War Against the Greens, the studies conducted by the EPA found that dioxin levels in the Fenholloway are close to two thousand times the established “acceptable level of risk”.  Female fish in the river have developed male characteristics, and Taylor County has disproportionately high rates of leukemia and blood and liver disorders.  Stephanie McGuire, a member of a local environmental group called HOPE (Help Our Polluted Environment), was attacked by three men who slashed her throat with a razor, poured river water into it, and told her, “Now you’ll have something to sue about.”  Two of the men then raped her.  The Taylor County sheriff’s investigation managed to drive over the crime scene and avoid entering the blood-stained house, avoid interviewing Stephanie’s neighbors.  This is just the beginning of a long list of obvious blunders in the investigation.  More info is available in the October 19, 2000 issue of the St. Petersburg Times and in the book The War Against the Greens by David Helvarg.  See also http://www.alternatives.com/library/env/envattak/crimsub.txt

*  On May 25, 1998, Chevron responded to a protest of its business practices in Nigeria by helicoptering in commandos to gun down unarmed protestors on an oil rig.  The San Francisco Bay Guardian did a story on this, available at  http://www.sfbg.com/News/33/07/Worldview/index.html.  Nigeria has suffered enormous human rights abuses from oil companies, especially Shell.  http://www.essential.org has a list devoted to Shell in Nigeria.  Oil companies abuse human rights all over the world, including in South America.  RAN (Rainforest Action Network) http://www.ran.org does an especially good job of covering oil companies.

*  Novartis scientists have developed the capability of switching off plants’ immune systems.  See the October 8, 2000 issue of The Observer, London UK. Also see http://www.biogene.org/e/themen/biotech/e-news15.htm

For background on how intelligence agencies reframe dissent as terrorism, see the online study "Repression and Ideology" at: http://www.publiceye.org/liberty/Security_for_Activists.htm

For excellent coverage of corporate crimes against public health and the environment, see Rachel’s Environment and Health Weekly. http://www.rachel.org/bulletin/index.cfm?St=1.  A reading of Rachel’s back-issues is an education in the topic.

Those who are interested in the environment would also find it worthwhile to check out SEAC (Student Environmental Action Coalition) http://www.seac.org.  The SEAC differs from most environmental organizations in being non-hierarchical and uncensored.  Many times, I have gotten extremely important info and action alerts from SEAC lists that have never been forthcoming from the big environmental groups’ magazines, websites or action alerts.  SEACers have campaigns but aren’t limited to them.

Also check out http://www.opensecrets.org, which provides names of corporate donors to politicians and the amounts they donate.  This is a good place to start for those who want to follow the money.

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