Let's be clear up front: For better or worse, Twinkies aren't going anywhere. (You may make your own jokes about their longevity at this point.)
Hostess Brands -- the company that makes Twinkies and Ho-Hos and Drake's and Wonder Bread and all of the other archetypical Americana that we love to hate and love to eat -- is going out of business and selling off its assets. All of the brands I just listed will exist again, and soon, but under different management -- and apparently with an entirely different workforce.
Earlier this year, the company announced that it was filing for bankruptcy. As Business Insider noted at the time, much of the debt the company held was owed to the unions that represent the company's workers in the form of outstanding healthcare and pension obligations. When Hostess moved to enact wage and benefit cuts among its workforce, the workers struck.
Today, Occupy Wall Street launches the "Rolling Jubilee," something the group is calling a "People's Bailout." Basically: People pony up cash that Occupy will use to buy bundles of individual people's toxic debt for pennies on the dollar on the dirty market where previously only big evil bastard companies were allowed to do business. Then Occupy cancels the debt. They've already raised enough cash to, as of this post, knock out more than $4.5 million worth.
Americans aren't feeling the hope and change anymore when it comes to President Obama's ability to make environmental progress. A new Gallup poll asked 1,009 people with a range of political views what they thought about the potential for the Obama administration to improve several aspects of American life, including the environment. Fifty-seven percent answered "yes," compared to 70 percent in 2008. The 13 percent drop in eco-optimism was second only to the 21 percent drop in those who believe Obama can heal political divisions in the country.
One California banana-eating man is taking Dole to court, alleging that the food giant misled consumers about the environmental practices at a banana plantation run by one of its contractors in Guatemala.
“Dole markets and sells its bananas as though they were farmed in an ecologically friendly and otherwise sustainable manner,” Clayton Laderer, a California resident, said in a complaint filed Nov. 13 in federal court in Los Angeles.
“In fact, some of Dole’s bananas, including bananas grown in impoverished areas of Guatemala, are produced in a way that destroys natural ecosystems, contaminates the drinking water of affected communities, and poisons local residents.”
At a recent event in Beijing, the company announced that by 2017, 70 percent of the products it sells in the U.S. will come from suppliers that use its "Sustainability Index." (But the company hasn't come close to living up to past promises about its Sustainability Index, so take that with a grain of salt.) The index is being developed by the Sustainability Consortium, a university-hosted group that Walmart launched in 2009. Now Walmart is granting the consortium $2 million to help it expand into China. From Sustainable Business:
The [consortium] engages industries, universities and other experts to form a global network that improves sustainability in consumer goods and helps suppliers adopt those practices. Walmart will use the results to refine its Sustainability Index for use in China.
"The $2 million grant from the Walmart Foundation will support the Consortium and position us to help bring the best science and research to support the development of the green supply chain here in China and globally," says Kara Hurst, CEO of The Sustainability Consortium. ...
"We will drive progress faster and scale our work to make factories more socially and environmentally sustainable, reduce energy and water usage, and eliminate harmful emissions into rivers and the air. We will also have deeper insight into how we can make manufacturing more sustainable for people and communities in China," says Mike Duke, President and CEO, Walmart Stores.
Mike Duke then put down his comically large greenwashing paintbrush and skipped into the sunset.
Exxon Mobil Corp. is part of a growing coalition backing a carbon tax as an alternative to costly regulation, giving newfound prominence to an idea once anathema in Washington. ...
“Combined with further advances in energy efficiency and new technologies spurred by market innovation, a well-designed carbon tax could play a significant role in addressing the challenge of rising emissions,” Kimberly Brasington, a spokeswoman for the company, said in an e-mail. “A carbon tax should be made revenue neutral via tax offsets in other areas,” she added.
Exxon’s political action committee gave nearly $1.2 million to political candidates in the past two years, 93 percent of it to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
So that's the view of ExxonMobil, a company that makes money indirectly generating carbon dioxide pollution. And now, that of the president of the United States, a member of the Democratic Party.
Mountaintop-removal mining (MTR) is a devastating method of coal extraction, literally blowing apart hilltops to make it easier to access smaller, hard-to-reach seams. The detritus from the explosions isn't all captured, and is one of the reasons a recent report suggested that MTR polluted one-fifth of streams in a section of southern West Virginia.
Patriot Coal has agreed to phase out mountaintop removal and other forms of strip mining in a move Patriot officials say is in the best interests of the company and the communities where it operates.
In a deal with citizen groups, Patriot said it would never seek new permits for large-scale surface mining operations, according to details of the settlement revealed during a federal court hearing here this afternoon. …
"Patriot Coal recognizes that our mining operations impact the communities in which we operate in significant ways, and we are committed to maximizing the benefits of this agreement for our stakeholders, including our employees and neighbors," [Patriot President Ben] Hatfield told U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers. "We believe the proposed settlement will result in a reduction of our environmental footprint."
“When schools buy food from nearby producers, their purchasing power helps create local jobs and economic benefits, particularly in rural agricultural communities,” Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan said in a statement. “Evidence also suggests that when kids understand more about where food comes from and how it is produced, they are more likely to make healthy eating choices.”
There's an expression that no one uses anymore: "turn up like a bad penny," which I guess means to keep showing up when you're not wanted, I don't know. But that's coal, anyway: always turning up when it's not wanted. Like in power production, for example. And in extremely high-profile scandals involving CIA directors, their paramours, and tangentially related other women and other generals.
If you haven't been paying attention to l'affaire Petraeus, you have made the right decision. Because every 15 minutes some major new aspect of it is discovered or debunked or reinforced. Trying to keep up with it is futile. If you want to read the latest, I'd recommend the Mother Jones explainer. They might as well just have the page automatically refresh every 15 seconds.
There's one name that it's important you know, for our purposes: Jill Kelley. Jill Kelley -- and I am not making any of this up -- is a married Tampa woman who prompted the entire Petraeus investigation by telling a friend in the FBI that she'd received threatening emails from the woman romantically linked to Petraeus, who Kelley knew thanks to her work as a volunteer at MacDill Air Force base and the various parties and shindigs she and her husband hosted for military personnel at their home. Kelley is also, apparently, an "honorary consul" to South Korea, status which appears to derive from asking South Korea if you can be an honorary consul and which does not allow you "diplomatic protection," should you seek it (as Kelley discovered). (Not related to the issue at hand: Kelley's twin sister, the sketchy cancer charity Kelley and her husband ran, or reports of scads of suggestive emails between Kelley and another general.) Go read that full explainer. It's bananas.
On Thursday Google announced that it’s put another $75 million into a wind farm in Iowa, bringing its total funds invested in clean energy projects to $990 million.
The Iowa wind farm — called the Rippey Wind Farm and located in Greene County — is owned by RPM Access and its 20 turbines are already online, with a capacity to produce 50 MW of wind power (enough to power 15,000 homes). The power will be bought by Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO).
Why would Google care about renewable power in Iowa? Because Google uses a lot of power in Iowa.