Business & Technology

Bush signs off on $25 billion loan to Big Auto

President Bush on Tuesday signed a $630 billion spending bill that includes a $25 billion loan to the struggling auto industry. (Bush’s sign-off also marks the expiration of the offshore-drilling ban and keeps the federal government funded through Mar. 6, 2009.) The loan package — the biggest federal subsidy for Big Auto since the feds bailed out Chrysler in 1980 — is aimed at helping carmakers improve overall vehicle fuel efficiency to 35 miles per gallon by 2020, as authorized in the 2007 energy bill. But the money may be a time in coming: the Department of Energy has 60 …

Meat Wagon: House of fools

While antibiotic-resistant bugs flourish, a House subcommittee buries its head

In Meat Wagon, we round up the latest outrages from the meat and livestock industries. As the fruits of three decades of financial-market deregulation and lax oversight ripen on Wall Street, now is a fitting time to mull over our government’s efforts to regulate the food industry. Let’s think specifically about its actions regarding antibiotics in livestock production. In industrial meat production, you stuff animals together in close contact with their own waste, essentially ruining their immune systems. To keep them alive until slaughter weight, you dose them liberally with antibiotics. Not surprisingly, antibiotic-resistant bacteria strains have begun to rise …

How to find a green job

Tune in to greener occupational pastures. You love the idea of making the world a cleaner, greener place. Wouldn’t you also love to get paid for it? You just might be in luck: Green jobs are growing at an impressive clip. In fact, the very definition of a green job has changed dramatically. Once the purview of foresters, farmers, and environmental-science professors (and, yes, the occasional website editor), green jobs now exist in all sorts of sectors. In fact, at the end of 2007, Achim Steiner of the United Nations Environment Program predicted that “millions of new jobs” would prove …

Like lambs to slaughter?

Smithfield, Pilgrim’s Pride, and other meat giants get credit-crunched

As I’ve written so many times before, a very few companies essentially control U.S. meat production. Their business model is crude, but for years has been effective: You place lots of animals in a tight space (or "contract" with farmers to do so), stuff them with corn and soy (made cheap chronic overproduction mandated by U.S. farm policy), boost their growth with all manner of hormones and antibiotics, and move these unhappy creatures to vast factory-like slaughterhouses, to be done in by some of the lowest-paid, least-protected workers in the U.S. All down the line, the model relies on the …

Clif Bar’s husband-and-wife CEO team talk about staying independent in a Big Organic world

Kit Crawford and Gary Erickson. Photo: Bart Nagel Walk into Clif Bar’s Berkeley headquarters, and you might think you’ve entered greenie-nonprofit world: multiple recycling stations, cruiser bikes kept for employees’ lunchtime use, and a fridge that serves as a pickup point for a local farm’s community-supported agriculture program. Vending machines peddle Amy’s Organic frozen meals and healthy snacks and drinks. A Coke machine provides the exception that proves the rule: Sustainability is a priority here. Hard to believe this is the headquarters of a company with estimated revenues north of $150 million last year. But Clif Bar’s atypical in lots …

Drinking at the public fountain

The new corporate threat to our water supplies

This is a guest essay by authors and filmmakers Alan Snitow and Deborah Kaufman. Their book Thirst exposed how the corporate drive to control water has become a catalyst for community resistance to globalization. This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom’s kind permission. —– In the last few years, the world’s largest financial institutions and pension funds, from Goldman Sachs to Australia’s Macquarie Bank, have figured out that old, trustworthy utilities and infrastructure could become reliable cash cows — supporting the financial system’s speculative junk derivatives with the real concrete of highways, water utilities, …

What we can afford and can't afford not to

Galbraith argues against the bailout and in favor of public investement

I cited James Galbraith last night while arguing that the financial mess should not deter us from making substantial investments in our future. (By the by, you should read Galbraith’s new book, The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too.) Today, Galbraith has a kick-ass op-ed in the Washington Post asking the question everyone else in D.C. is too scared to ask — "Is this bailout still necessary?" — and mapping out a road to recovery. Galbraith isn’t advocating we do nothing — there’s a dense thicket of recommendations in the short space — …

Wal-Mart will slice use of plastic bags

Wal-Mart aims to cut plastic-bag waste in its global operations by an average 33 percent over the next five years, the retail behemoth announced Thursday at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative. And if you ever doubted that Wal-Mart is big, consider this: The move is expected to eliminate some 9 billion plastic bags each year, equating to more than 135 million pounds of trash by 2013. Wal-Mart will give out fewer bags, offer plastic-bag recycling, and encourage customers to use reusable totes (it will offer its own line of reusable bags for 50 cents each). In the …

ReGeneration Roadtrip: Green jobs now!

Van Jones talks about the National Day of Action

Green-job advocates Green for All have just moved into a lovely new office space in Oakland, California. There’s plenty of natural light, beautiful bamboo floors, and lots of room to grow. Unfortunately, their charismatic founder, Van Jones, hasn’t had much chance to enjoy it. Jones is one of the faces at the forefront of the environmental justice movement, and the man is in demand. Luckily, he happened to be in town for one day (and one day only!) while Todd and I were in the Bay Area, and I got the chance to chat with him in his new digs. …

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