Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for January 19th, 2011

Apple: the dark side

Posted by Charles II on January 19, 2011

Apple makes many great products. But there’s a dark side. It can only say it’s a green company because it outsources its pollution. Jonathan Watts, The Guardian:

Apple is more secretive over its supply chain than nearly all of its rivals, says a report from leading Chinese environment groups.

Apple is more secretive about its supply chain in China than almost all of its rivals, according to a new report by anti-pollution activists who accuse the company’s products of degrading the environment and poisoning workers.

Despite its claim to be a leading promoter of corporate ethics worldwide, the maker of iPads and iPhones came joint bottom among 29 major IT firms in a transparency study drawn up by a coalition of China’s leading environmental groups.

“Behind their stylish image, Apple products have a side many do not know about – pollution and poison. This side is hidden deep within the company’s secretive supply chain,” claims a statement by the 36 groups involved in the Green Choice Initiative.

Their report – the fourth to look at the impact of global brands on China’s environment – considers the openness of IT firms and their responsiveness to reports of environmental violations at suppliers.

It follows a series of workplace poisonings, heavy metal contamination incidents and suicides at Chinese factories that supply materials and components for mobile phones and computers….

Hewlett Packard, British Telecom, Samsung, Sony, Siemens and Alcatel were credited as being the most responsive to third-party inquiries about alleged environmental violations.

Computers in general are a dirty industry. Heavy metals. Gold. Nasty acids. Petroleum-based plastics. And they are huge hogs of electrical power. It’s a shame Apple isn’t using some of its new wealth to lay up some treasure in heaven.

The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs asks that you write to Apple at

[Added: Though if n-hexane is the culprit in some of these cases of illness, I’d worry more about a fire than anything else. The stuff is a light fraction of gasoline. You’d have to have a very heavy exposure to cause nerve damage].

Update: The story has hit the Financial Times.

Posted in computers and software, environment | 5 Comments »

US Education: Still Way Ahead, Despite GOP Sabotage

Posted by Phoenix Woman on January 19, 2011

Via Rob Levine at The Cucking Stool, we have this report from Business Week which shows yet again that, contrary to the shrill, highly-subsidized cries of those who want to dismantle it, US public education is actually among the best in the world — yes, even in fields like math and science:

The independence and social skills American children develop give them a huge advantage when they join the workforce. They learn to experiment, challenge norms, and take risks. They can think for themselves, and they can innovate. This is why America remains the world leader in innovation; why Chinese and Indians invest their life savings to send their children to expensive U.S. schools when they can. India and China are changing, and as the next generations of students become like American ones, they too are beginning to innovate. So far, their education systems have held them back.

My research team at Duke looked in depth at the engineering education of China and India. We documented that these countries now graduate four to seven times as many engineers as does the U.S.The quality of these engineers, however, is so poor that most are not fit to work as engineers; their system of rote learning handicaps those who do get jobs, so it takes two to three years for them to achieve the same productivity as fresh American graduates.As a result, significant proportions of China’s engineering graduates end up working on factory floors and Indian industry has to spend large sums of money retraining its employees. After four or five years in the workforce, Indians do become innovative and produce, overall, at the same quality as Americans, but they lose a valuable two to three years in their retraining.

This shouldn’t surprise anyone who’s been seriously paying attention over the last few decades. There are those of us out there who still remember how the first Bush suppressed the Sandia Labs study he himself had requested, because it stated, contrary to Republican dogma as pushed by the agenda-driven bogosity fiesta called “A Nation At Risk”, that public schools were actually pretty darned good considering they were under constant attack from right-wing politicians and had to take the kids the cherry-picking private schools rejected.

Speaking of private schools, the charter school movement is essentially a Trojan Horse to turn public schools into sectarian private ones funded with our tax dollars — as one Michigan mother found to her sorrow.

Posted in charter schools, education | Tagged: , , , , | 5 Comments »

The Siegelman crescendo

Posted by Charles II on January 19, 2011

Jim White reports that the essential final decision on whether Governor Don Siegelman is set free or continues to be jailed will take place Wednesday, January 20th:

When the definitive history of the dismantling of the system of justice during the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries in the United States is written, the case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman will deserve its own chapter. The next episode in this sad saga will play out on Wednesday in a satellite courtroom for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Jacksonville, Florida. I will try to be in the courtroom for the oral arguments, but unfortunately, the Eleventh Circuit allows no electronic devices of any type in the courtroom, so I will have to take notes and then prepare a report from the notes.

The panel who will hear arguments is Gerald Tjoflat, J.L. Edmondson and James C. Hill, the same panel who heard the previous Siegelman appeal. They are described as experienced and respected, but were appointed by Republicans and are conservative. Note, for example, that Tjoflat was one of the very few judges arguing to keep Terry Schiavo alive.

Siegelman has been punished by what might well be called judicial attainder: activist judges making laws after the fact. We have watched the right not make any protest over this outrageous abuse of the courts over the course of five years.

Posted in abuse of power, activist judges, Don Siegelman | 2 Comments »

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