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“The staff of Project Censored presents their annual compilation of the previous year’s 25 stories most overlooked by the mainstream media along with essays about censorship and its consequences. The stories include an 813% rise in hate and anti-government groups since 2008, human rights violations by the US Border Patrol, and Israeli doctors injecting Ethiopian immigrants with birth control without their consent. Other stories focus on the environment, like the effects of fracking and Monsantos GMO seeds. The writers point out misinformation and outright deception in the media, including CNN relegating factual accounts to the “opinion” section and the whitewashing of Margaret Thatcher’s career following her death in 2013, unlike Hugo Chavez, who was routinely disparaged in the coverage following his death. One essay deals with the proliferation of “Junk Food News,” in which “CNN and Fox News devoted more time to ‘Gangnam Style’ than the renewal of Uganda’s ‘Kill the Gays’ law.” Another explains common media manipulation tactics and outlines practices to becoming a more engaged, free-thinking news consumer or even citizen journalist. Rob Williams remarks on Hollywood’s “deep and abiding role as a popular propaganda provider” via Argo and Zero Dark Thirty. An expose on working conditions in Chinese Apple factories is brutal yet essential reading. This book is evident of Project Censored’s profoundly important work in educating readers on current events and the skills needed to be a critical thinker.” -Publisher’s Weekly said about Censored 2014 (Oct.)
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14. Europe Holds Companies Environmentally Responsible, Despite U.S. Opposition

In These Times, April 17, 2000
Title: The Big Stick Approach
Author: Joel Bleifuss
http://www.inthesetimes.com

Faculty evaluator: David Van Nuys, Ph.D., Peter Phillips, Ph.D.
Student researchers: Michael Runas, Molly Garrison, Deanna Battaglia

In the near future, the European Union will hold any company that enters the European market responsible for the environmental impacts of its products. Known as Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR), the new regulations will make manufacturers change product design, the kinds of materials used in manufacturing, and the methods by which products are disposed to insure environmental integrity. American corporations have enlisted the aid of the Clinton administration to derail these proposals.

EPR regulations were hugely successful in Germany in the 1990s, requiring all manufacturers, both domestic and foreign, to recycle all product materials, shifting the costs of managing packaging waste from taxpayers to the waste producers. By 2006, vehicles sold in Europe must contain no heavy metals, such as lead, mercury or cadmium, and must be manufactured from recyclable materials. The E.U. plans to implement EPR regulations for all products that contain electrical circuits, phasing out the use of toxic metals in the production of consumer items like refrigerators and computers.

Joel Bleifuss writes, “the beauty of EPR is that by putting the financial burden on the companies for the environmentally responsible impacts of products throughout their life cycle, industry has a natural economic incentive to act in an environmentally responsible manner.” Writing in Beverage Industry magazine, E. Gifford Stack of the National Soft Drink Association describes EPR as a “big stick approach.” “Because the stick delivers a pretty good financial whack,” he notes, “producers also have a financial incentive to design their products to make less waste.”

The Clinton administration has done everything it can to block EPR. The President’s Council on Sustainable Development, established in 1993 to examine ways to encourage environmentally sustainable growth, held heated discussions about EPR, but in its proposed program the council’s industry-dominated task force concluded that users and disposers share equal responsibility with manufactures and suppliers for environmental effects-a position that puts the blame back on the consumer instead of the manufacturer.

Of course, U.S. corporations could take such responsibility, they just don’t want to bear the cost. And the EPA and other branches of government are doing what they can to make sure that they won’t have to. “We are not going to simply follow in the footsteps of Europe,” stated Elizabeth Cotsworth, acting director of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste.

Despite the best negative efforts of the Clinton administration, the concept of EPR is spreading. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED), an association of the world’s most developed countries, is promoting ERP as a promising new public policy tool. Ignoring protests from the U.S. the OCED is drawing up guidelines on the best ways to implement the EPR program in other countries.

Update by Joel Bleifuss

Though it is a revolutionary-and at the same time entirely feasible-means of greatly reducing negative environmental effects of corporate manufacturing practices, the topic of extended producer responsibility (EPR) has not been touched by the U.S. media. Big business would heartily oppose EPR, since the only way it would work is through government regulation. Some environmental organizations are promoting the idea. The Environmental Defense Fund has information on EPR at: http://www.environmentaldefense.org/programs/PPA/vic/epr.html. Information on the waste generated by the electronics industry can be found on the Inform Inc. website:http://www.informinc.org/eprgate.htm

Joel Bleifuss: itt@inthesetimes.com

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