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#894 -- Corporate Campaigns, 15-Feb-2007


Rachel's Democracy & Health News #894

"Environment, health, jobs and justice--Who gets to decide?"

Thursday, February 15, 2007.............Printer-friendly version
www.rachel.org -- To make a secure donation, click here.

Featured stories in this issue...

Corporate Campaigns: Are We Asking Enough?
  Corporate campaigns are now a fixture of the activist landscape.
  Here Charlie Cray describes some of their strengths and weaknesses as
  a means for creating a stronger democracy.
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack
  This important essay describes the author's journey of discovery,
  from understanding male privilege to understanding white privilege.
U.S. Demonstrates A New Weapon -- A Ray Gun Delivering Pain
  "This is one of the key technologies for the future," said Marine
  Colonel Kirk Hymes, director of the non-lethal weapons program that
  helped develop the new weapon, which is intended to make people feel
  as if they are going to catch on fire.
Details of New U.S. Pain Weapon Revealed
  "The US marines and police are both working on portable versions
  [of a microwave pain weapon], and the US air force is building a
  system for controlling riots from the air."
Investors Says Toxic Chemicals Burden Companies with Liability
  An investment research firm says companies using toxic chemicals
  may find themselves at a serious disadvantage. Here's evidence that 30
  years of work by toxics activists is beginning to affect thinking on
  Wall Street.


From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #894, Feb. 15, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


Yes and No

By Charlie Cray

Charlie Cray is the director of the Center for Corporate Policy in
Washington, D.C.

I. Reasons for optimism -- what we are doing right

1. Corporate campaigns are being taken seriously by most corporations.

As an article from the Public Policy Intelligence Report[1] suggests,
after more than a decade of corporate campaigns, corporations are
trying to blunt the challenge by paying more attention to their own
accountability by (a) measuring their own social performance, (b)
adopting voluntary codes of conduct and certification regimes, and (c)
creating an infrastructure for negotiation, not merely handing off the
"crisis" to public relations experts.

2. Our campaigns are now international

Each year the Business Ethics Network gives Benny Awards for
excellence in corporate campaigning. In 2006 the winners were

** Corporate Accountability International's water rights campaign,
"Think Outside the Bottle"

** Pacific Environment's Sakhalin II campaign against Shell, Mitsui,
Mitsubishi, and Gazprom.

** Amazon Watch's Clean Up Ecuador campaign

These campaigns all illustrate how we have learned to work globally,
and they teach many lessons about how the best campaigns are run:

** We respect our partners -- "frontline" communities and foreign non-
governmental organizations [NGOs];

** We frame our struggles around human and natural rights (campaigns
for water as a basic right reached a new high mark with the recent
Mexico City summit, providing an example for other essential
services and industrial-sector campaigns),

** Our campaigns need to persist over long periods of time, digging
into the crevices of Byzantine international financial arrangements,
export credit agencies and, increasingly, private financial

3. Toxics activists and anti-tobacco groups have created sophisticated
international networks of NGOs and civil society groups (e.g. IPEN)
and alliances with key public health professionals, elevating the
voice of activist groups in the global south and institutionalizing
our demands within global legal frameworks (POPs Treaty, Framework
Agreement on Tobacco Control). These in turn have embedded key
principles such as the Precautionary Principle -- into legitimate

In fact Corporate campaigns have made a major contribution to the
development of a body of treaties that begins to articulate the
vision of the kind of world we want to live in. These treaties provide
an answer to the imperious corporate design that has enshrined
property rights and commercial values into treaties that support
corporate interests, such as the WTO [World Trade Organization], and
the institutions that reinforce those interests, including the IMF
[International Monetary Fund], World Bank, and dozens of other export
credit agencies and quasi-governmental institutions and banks that
continue to prop up the "Washington Consensus."

4. Meanwhile, we have virtually stalled the WTO (Doha agreement),
the main trans-national corporations' investor-rights power grab,
forcing the U.S. Trade Representative and other proponents to inch
forward with bi-partisan agreements. At the same time, global north-
south alliances and discussions of alternative economic development
are taking place within the International Forum on Globalization,
the World Social Forum and other key activist arenas.

We have deepened our financial analysis beyond a few international
financial institutions to a range of global, regional and national
financial institutions (e.g. OPIC [Overseas Private Investment
Corporation], other export credit agencies in Europe, Japan) as well
as key private sources of destructive, unsustainable, and harmful
investment (e.g. Rainforest Action Network's campaigns against
Citi, others). Meanwhile, fledgeling networks such as the Tax
Justice Network and the Derivatives Study Center have formed to deepen
our understanding of global corporate financial questions.

5. The sophistication of corporate campaign work in the area of
investor activism has grown, as witnessed by the increased number of
shareholder resolutions, and creation of As You Sow and other

The sophistication of our market strategies has also grown,
particularly in the area of supply chain analysis. A number of groups
have embarked upon the "mother of all market campaigns" -- Wal-Mart, a
major challenge that has already resulted in early-stage concessions.
(For example, see Wakeup Wal-Mart.)

We have also witnessed the explosive growth of campaign activism in
specific sectors, including public relations (PR Watch),
pharmaceuticals, media reform (2,000 activists came to the second
national media reform conference in St. Louis in 2005 sponsored by
Free Press, and war profiteering, efforts that are particularly
crucial in the U.S.

6. Meanwhile, the grassroots populist wing of the movement to
challenge corporate power, as small as it may be, has continued to
grow, with new experiments in community-level organizing around
fundamental rights beginning to take hold in places like Pennsylvania
(CELDF) and Humboldt County, CA (www.votelocalcontrol.org). Groups
like POCLAD and the education provided by the Democracy Schools
and groups like Reclaim Democracy, the New Rules Project (ILSR)
and CELDF continue to plant the seeds of populism in communities
across the U.S.

Other progressive groups have made significant gains at the state
level, helping frame questions of economic justice (Living Wage -
ACORN) and public funding of elections (Public Campaign, Fair

II. The Basis for Pessimism -- What is Missing and What We Might Do
About It

1. Most of our campaigns still operate in isolation. We rarely tie the
strategy to broader challenges to corporate power, settling at best
for concessions from single companies that might eventually lead to
standards across an entire industrial sector. Often these are quite
significant, but they rarely build bridges to the next step, galvanize
longer-term activist engagement among masses of people, etc.

The NGO wing of the corporate campaign movement, for example, largely
grew out of the environmental movement, and still has few ties to
labor, few ties to the leading environmental justice groups (who have
much to teach about holistic thinking and organizing), the peace
movement (e.g. it's quite surprising that there are so few
environmental groups working on the link between war and oil,
security, etc.), the voting rights and democracy movement, and the
media reform movement.

There are good examples, however, of "bridging campaigns" out there -
such as the "Separation of Oil and State" campaign (Oil Change) and
the Center for Political Accountability's work to force companies to
disclose their political contributions through aggressive shareholder

2. We are still not very nimble in choosing our corporate targets
outside of the specific sectors we are mainly focused on, nor do we
seem to be willing to risk using our expertise in waging corporate
campaigns to build broader alliances with these other movements --
e.g. where's the campaign against Diebold? After all, we learned a
lot of this stuff from Labor. (On the other hand, during the 2004
presidential campaign, the media reform movement sort of stumbled
into an informal campaign against Sinclair Broadcast Group that was
waged pretty well.)

We don't often discuss how to organize a "movement of movements"
around common concerns among all these allies -- especially around the
question of democracy.

3. We're not always adept at challenging fundamental corporate power,
including the basic right to do business -- in ways the public
understands. The right to vote. The right to water.

We are not always willing to push our victories into legislation, or
willing to risk looking foolish by waging campaigns that set
"impossible" goals that shift the debate by educating a broader public
about much deeper notions of democracy or stronger measures of
corporate accountability -- the way the Unocal campaigners did when
they filed for the company's charter revocation (few took the next
step of pushing for related legislation, especially when liberal
democrats in the California state assembly would not support it).

4. This is a good reminder of something else we need to do -- educate
funders to keep the eye on the long-term goal. The point is not to get
liberal Democrats elected, but to build a movement that will dictate
terms to both parties, or even build its own party if it has to,
either through tools like fusion balloting or electoral work in third
parties. Liberal foundations outspend conservative foundations by 10
to 1, but many of them act like a "drag anchor" on the movement. On
the other side, it's clear from the history of right-wing foundations,
starting with the Chamber of Commerce's strategy outline by Justice
Lewis Powell, that many right-wing foundations are willing to fight a
"permanent revolution" on behalf of corporations, grabbing power
through deep analysis of the institutions of power in government and

5. We seem to have given up on Washington, settling for market
strategies instead. By doing so we reinforce people's understanding of
themselves as consumers rather than citizens. We have allowed the
right wing to perpetuate a "vicious cycle" that instructs Americans to
be cynical about their government on the one hand, while they use the
instruments of government to pick their pockets and undermine their
rights. And after a major scandal like Abramoff, etc. what happens?
It only confirms the story that you can't trust government. But we
don't see Grover Norquist or the Competitive Enterprise Institute
or the Washington Legal Foundation closing up shop. Instead, they
attack our groups (Rainforest Action Network) using strategies very
similar to ones that our movement once espoused, but has long since
forgotten because we haven't built much institutional memory.[3]

Our ability to advocate effectively for new policies has atrophied as
a result. For example, we don't seem to be interested in paying
attention to debates that might directly affect our ability to
campaign, including SEC proposed regulations requiring mutual fund
voting disclosure or shareholder rights to nominate their own
candidates to the board. Not that these are the most important
reforms, but they clearly would strengthen the power of shareholder
action strategies. Labor unions devote some resources to following
these issues (as well as related questions like CEO pay and offshore
re-incorporation) and have found them to be a key part of a dynamic

6. We have a very poor understanding of the importance of the Courts.
We don't push proactive framing of the law to reflect populist
campaigns. We could learn something from the Civil Rights Movement in
this regard.[4] Instead we have seen the erosion of our ability to
hold corporations accountable through civil lawsuits (tort reform),
long- term corporate assaults on local zoning and
environmental/conservation protections (the so-called "Takings
Project"), etc.[5]

We have defended the Alien Tort Claims Act from attack, but we are
still seeing its slow erosion.

While corporations are using SLAPPs and food disparagement laws to
attack our speech rights, where are we in challenging the notion that
Money = Speech -- a key assumption (created by Buckley v. Valeo)
that allows corporations to dominate political processes?

We have no institutional presence in law schools or business schools,
whereas the other side has a juggernaut known as the Federalist
Society, not to mention judicial "education" seminars at Hilton
Head, the Pacific Legal Foundation, Washington Legal Foundation,
and well over a dozen other groups that "campaign" for corporations
through the courts.[6]

We need to learn from movements in other countries (e.g. through
global campaign meetings like the ones organized by labor unions).

In the short-term we need to use tactics that take advantage of the
fundamental design of corporations, including working with some
sectors to challenge others, such as health care.

And we need to develop strategies leading to reinvigorated challenges
to corporate size and reach, not trying to play the technocratic
antitrust laws (except when it's tactically necessary), but by framing
our demands around simple, bold policies that transcend single
industrial sectors, such as the need to prevent related businesses
from joining to form large market-controlling conglomerates:


Analyst/commercial banking Broadcast/print/other media

Media/other corporations

Meat packers/cattle ranchers

Wal-Mart/Banking, etc.

We need to identify key challenges that provide important
opportunities for our movement -- esp. global warming, CEO pay
(flash point).

We need to take on new institutions, such as the New York Stock
Exchange, putting demands on them that force them into our frame.

The right has built a structure that is quite logical in terms of
values. They talk about "family values" not because it's simply a good
"frame" for the conservative agenda, but because it fits with the
constructions of institutions that sustain their agenda for the long-
run -- the takeover of school boards (which allowed them to develop a
farm team of candidates for higher office) and churches.

How will we build our base?

I'm not sure, but I do think that one thing we want to push for is
simply "democratic control of corporations."

The strategies for doing so are both internal (e.g. by forcing
companies to put CEO pay up for a vote, as they do in England) and
external (when "We the People" take back our own government, we will
be more able to make decisions about the kind of economy we want,
including those that force or incentivize businesses to live within
ecological realities)

It not only means joining with voting rights and democracy activists
to drive corporations altogether out of politics, but joining labor in
the struggle to fight privatization and protect the commons, and
joining consumers in the struggle for the right to essential services,
plus joining with media activists in the struggle to take our airwaves

Although some of us may see the internal game as quixotic, we can
understand its value at least as a way of engaging the people who work
within corporations (what did Gandhi say about how to engage your
opponents?) and exposing the inherently anti-democratic nature of
corporations (with their fallacious assertions of "shareholder
democracy" and other softer reformist approaches that will only
obstruct our way as we strive forward in the struggle for real
democracy if we let them).

It was the great ecologist Barry Commoner who taught us that the
first rule of ecology is that "everything is connected to everything
else." I think that's a good rule for strategic campaigners, too.

Another environmentalist, Emerson, once said that a "foolish
consistency is the hobgoblin of petty minds." That would be us if we
see ourselves simply as "market strategists" or even "corporate
campaigners" or "corporate reformers."

Democracy is a much bigger vision. And one that is quite ecological.
Thus, by looking at our struggle with this kind of ecological
sensibility (without receding into nouvelle vague fantasies) we will
continue to be able to get through whatever dark moments we are
certain to face with the kind of spirit and perspective that will
allow us as activists to continue to love the work we do.

Finally, one question:

Q. What was the First Corporate Campaign-related action in American

A. The Boston Tea Party -- an act of civil disobedience against
the British East India Company.

Corporate campaigners are true patriots, the same kind that hundreds
of years ago fought for democratic self-determination against their
own day's illegitimate and massive corporations.


[1] Bart Mongoven, "Corporate Campaigns Find a Peak," Public Policy
Intelligence Report, September 27, 2006.

[2] The Powell Memorandum is available at: http://reclaimdem
ocracy.org/corporate_accountability/powell_memo_lewis.html. Related
analysis is here: http://www.prospect.org/web/printfriend ly-
view.ww?id=9606 as well as in National Committee for Responsive
Philanthropy, "Axis of Ideology," March 2004. Executive summary
available at: http://www.ncrp.org/PDF/AxisofIdeology-ExecutiveS

[3] Oliver Houck, 1984 Yale Law Review Article "With Charity for All"
-- which argues that corporate front groups should have their tax-
exempt status revoked because they violate IRS rules on non- profits.

[4] See Richard Kluger, Simple Justice.

[5] Oliver Houck, cited above.

[6] See http://www.corporatepolicy.org/issues/legalfoundations.htm


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From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #894, Feb. 15, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]



We have removed this article from our archive at the request of the
author, who holds the copyright. We originally stumbled across the
article on the world wide web and assumed it was in the public domain.

A somewhat longer version of the article can be purchased for $10.00
from The Wellesley Centers for Women. The money goes to support the
SEED project on inclusive curriculum, a staff-development equity
project for educators.

If you feel you benefitted from reading the article, "White Privilege:
Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack," perhaps you would consider making a
secure on-line donation to support the SEED Project.

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From: Taipei Times (Taiwan) (pg. 7), Jan. 26, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


By The Associated Press

Moody Air Force Base, Georgia (Associated Press) -- The military's new
weapon is a ray gun that shoots a beam that makes people feel as if
they will catch fire.

The technology is supposed to be harmless -- a non-lethal way to get
enemies to drop their weapons.

Military officials say it could save the lives of innocent civilians
and service members in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The weapon is not expected to go into production until at least 2010,
but all branches of the military have expressed interest in it,
officials said.

During the first demonstration of the weapon to the media on
Wednesday, airmen fired beams from a large dish antenna mounted atop a
Humvee at people pretending to be rioters.

The crew fired beams from more than 450 meters (1/4 mile) away, nearly
17 times the range of existing non-lethal weapons, such as rubber

While the sudden, 54 degrees Celsius (129 degrees Fahrenheit) heat was
not painful, it was intense enough to make participants think their
clothes were about to ignite.

"This is one of the key technologies for the future," said Marine
Colonel Kirk Hymes, director of the non-lethal weapons program that
helped develop the new weapon.

"Non-lethal weapons are important for the escalation of force,
especially in the environments our forces are operating in," he added.

The system uses millimeter waves, which can penetrate only a few
millimeters inside the skin, just enough to cause discomfort. By
comparison, common kitchen microwaves penetrate several centimeters of

The millimeter waves cannot go through walls, but they can penetrate
most clothing, officials said. They refused to comment on whether the
waves can go through glass.

Two airmen and 10 reporters volunteered to be shot with the beams,
which easily penetrated the many layers of winter clothing they were

The system was developed by the military, but the two devices under
evaluation were built by defense contractor Raytheon.

Copyright 1999-2007 The Taipei Times .

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From: NewScientist.com, Jul. 23, 2005
[Printer-friendly version]


By David Hambling

Volunteers taking part in tests of the Pentagon's "less-lethal"
microwave weapon were banned from wearing glasses or contact lenses
due to safety fears. The precautions raise concerns about how safe the
Active Denial System (ADS) weapon would be if used in real crowd-
control situations.

The ADS fires a 95-gigahertz microwave beam, which is supposed to heat
skin and to cause pain but no physical damage (New Scientist, 27
October 2001, p 26). Little information about its effects has been
released, but details of tests in 2003 and 2004 were revealed after
Edward Hammond, director of the US Sunshine Project -- an organisation
campaigning against the use of biological and non-lethal weapons -
requested them under the Freedom of Information Act.

The tests were carried out at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque,
New Mexico. Two experiments tested pain tolerance levels, while in a
third, a "limited military utility assessment", volunteers played the
part of rioters or intruders and the ADS was used to drive them away.

The experimenters banned glasses and contact lenses to prevent
possible eye damage to the subjects, and in the second and third tests
removed any metallic objects such as coins and keys to stop hot spots
being created on the skin. They also checked the volunteers' clothes
for certain seams, buttons and zips which might also cause hot spots.

The ADS weapon's beam causes pain within 2 to 3 seconds and it becomes
intolerable after less than 5 seconds. People's reflex responses to
the pain is expected to force them to move out of the beam before
their skin can be burnt.

But Neil Davison, co-ordinator of the non-lethal weapons research
project at the University of Bradford in the UK, says controlling the
amount of radiation received may not be that simple. "How do you
ensure that the dose doesn't cross the threshold for permanent
damage?" he asks. "What happens if someone in a crowd is unable, for
whatever reason, to move away from the beam? Does the weapon cut out
to prevent overexposure?"

During the experiments, people playing rioters put up their hands when
hit and were given a 15- second cooling-down period before being
targeted again. One person suffered a burn in a previous test when the
beam was accidentally used on the wrong power setting.

A vehicle-mounted version of ADS called Sheriff could be in service in
Iraq in 2006 according to the Department of Defense, and it is also
being evaluated by the US Department of Energy for use in defending
nuclear facilities. The US marines and police are both working on
portable versions, and the US air force is building a system for
controlling riots from the air.

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From: Innovest, Jan. 15, 2007
[Printer-friendly version]


Value at Risk from Toxic Chemicals in Company Products

Electronics, cosmetics, and pesticide manufacturers are among the many
companies that could face loss of market share and access to major
markets due to "toxic lockouts" according to a new report just
issued by Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, Inc.

The international investment research firm examines this double-sided
issue as well as other risks in four industry sectors (Household and
Personal Care Products, Multi-Line Retail, Healthcare Equipment and
Supplies and Household Durables) in their most recent analysis just
released today.

Innovest's report, Cross-Cutting Effects of Chemical Liability from
Products, offers a pioneering analysis comparing companies' chemical
management policies. "This is an issue for the value investor" said
Senior Analyst Heather Langsner. "Those concerned with the long-term
viability of the brand and future competitive value of these and other
large cap firms will need this information to understand potential
challenges to companies retaining and maintaining market share for
their products."

On the upside, growing consumer and market interest in "safer
chemicals" is spurring the development of new markets for higher value
added and differentiated products. Companies such as Herman Miller,
Steelcase, and Marks and Spencer are differentiating themselves in the
marketplace with safer products. Chemical companies like DuPont are
also entering the green chemistry space, winning recognition for new
products even as they face continuing liability and market exclusion
risks for their older product lines.

Innovest cites new laws and regulations in California and Europe as
driving market transformation. The report also comments that Wal-Mart
"will fundamentally alter the marketplace this year by announcing a
chemicals screening policy for all its suppliers." This and other
private sector environmentally preferable purchasing programs are
likely to create economies of scale that bring down the costs of safer
alternative products.

Innovest's report was commissioned by investment managers representing
$22 billion in shareholder assets, who are collaborating as the
Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) to encourage companies
to adopt safer chemicals policies. Ten shareholder resolutions were
filed in the 2006 proxy season and 13 have been filed for the 2007

Copyright 2007 Innovest Strategic Value Advisors

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  Rachel's Democracy & Health News (formerly Rachel's Environment &
  Health News) highlights the connections between issues that are
  often considered separately or not at all.

  The natural world is deteriorating and human health is declining  
  because those who make the important decisions aren't the ones who
  bear the brunt. Our purpose is to connect the dots between human
  health, the destruction of nature, the decline of community, the
  rise of economic insecurity and inequalities, growing stress among
  workers and families, and the crippling legacies of patriarchy,
  intolerance, and racial injustice that allow us to be divided and
  therefore ruled by the few.  

  In a democracy, there are no more fundamental questions than, "Who
  gets to decide?" And, "How do the few control the many, and what
  might be done about it?"

  As you come across stories that might help people connect the dots,
  please Email them to us at dhn@rachel.org.
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