How a Koch-owned chemical plant in Texas gamed the Clean Air Act

The trouble began in the middle of the night.

Around 2 a.m. on January 10, 2017, an air quality monitor in Port Arthur, Texas, began recording sulfur dioxide readings well above the federal standard of 75 parts per billion, or ppb.

The monitor had recently been installed by regulators to keep an eye on Oxbow Calcining, a company owned by William “Bill” Koch that operates massive plants that purify petcoke, a petroleum byproduct that can be used to power steel and aluminum manufacturing.

That Tuesday morning, the wind shifted due north and carried a noxious slew of emissions from the plant a half-mile away to the monitor. By 2:20 a.m., the monitor was reading 122.3 ppb.

3:30 a.m.: 128.7 ppb.

5:00 a.m.: 147.8 ppb — almost double the federal standard.

By the afternoon, emissions readings had topped the public health standard 25 times. For the next 18 months, they would periodically flood the 55,000-person city with a pungent

— source | Naveena Sadasivam, Clayton Aldern | Feb 16, 2023

Nullius in verba


How Big Tech rewrote the nation’s first cell phone repair law

New York state took a historic step toward curbing the power of Big Tech when lawmakers passed the Digital Fair Repair Act, giving citizens the right to fix their phones, tablets, and computers. For years, advocates for the “right to repair” have pushed for such legislation in statehouses nationwide. They argue that making it easier to repair gadgets not only saves consumers money, but also reduces the environmental impact of manufacturing and electronic waste. Most of those bills have failed amid intense opposition from tech companies that want to dictate how and where their products are serviced.

The passage of the Digital Fair Repair Act last June reportedly caught the tech industry off guard, but it had time to act before Governor Kathy Hochul would sign it into law. Corporate lobbyists went to work, pressing Albany for exemptions and changes that would water the bill down. They were largely successful: While the bill Hochul signed in late December remains a victory for the right-to-repair movement, the more corporate-friendly text gives consumers and independent repair shops less access to parts and tools than the original proposal called for. (The state Senate still has to vote to adopt the revised bill, but it’s widely expected to do so.)

The new version of the law applies only to devices built after mid-2023, so it won’t help people to fix stuff they currently own. It also exempts electronics used exclusively by businesses or the government. All those devices are likely to become electronic waste faster than they would have had Hochul, a Democrat, signed a tougher bill. And more

— source | | Feb 08, 2023

Nullius in verba

Constitutionally Render Corporations Unequal to Humans

Rescue Our Democratic Society

No other institutions consistently Rule over as Much in the World as the Giant Global Corporations – not governments, not armies, not religions and certainly not trade unions. These fictional corporate entities have largely achieved transcendent imperial status, as they amass coordinated control over capital, labor, technology and governments because they have secured the rights bestowed upon human beings. In a confrontation or a conflict or even a contract, it is no contest: mere people don’t have a chance.

As Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis warned in 1933, we have created a “Frankenstein monster” in our midst, whose unifying lust for power and control on behalf of their profits know few limits.

In last week’s column, I described a dozen sectors in which the privileged legal advantages of corporate supremacy over real people make the former more powerful every day ( And every day people start with a massive disadvantage whether in the marketplace, the workplace, the environment, the taxation realm, the electoral and governmental arena, and access to justice. Yes, in cultural appropriations as well.

For about 150 years the courts have arbitrarily accorded corporate personhood the same rights as real humans even though the words “corporation” or “company” never appear in our

— source | Ralph Nader | Feb 10, 2023

Nullius in verba

McKinsey’s Addiction Corporations

Almost 30 years ago, tobacco CEOs were forced to answer questions – under oath. For the first time, corporate bosses had to admit that tobacco companies were designing cigarettes to sustain addiction – a dark day for corporate profits, tobacco corporations, and the ever supportive management consultancy firm: McKinsey. Yet, it was a good day for everyone else. Corporate CEOs also confessed that they had manipulated an addictive drug. But Big Tobacco wasn’t finished.

The $157bn heavy tobacco giant Philip Morris shot back by trying to intimidate the media. The corporation did this by filing a $10bn lawsuit against two reporters and their employer – ABC News.

The goal was to shut them up – in the so-called “land of the free speech”. The corporation did this because of their investigation into nicotine manipulation in cigarettes. Yet, the corporate strategy came a touch too late. Public sentiments began to turn against Big Tobacco.

Watching all this unfold in horror was McKinsey. The global consultancy juggernaut was forced to observe a rising tide of public disapproval. Yet, McKinsey knew full well – for

— source | Thomas Klikauer | Jan 10, 2023

Nullius in verba

Email discrimination is unethical

Many companies have been trying to disrupt email by making it proprietary. So far, they have failed. Email keeps being an open protocol. Hurray?

No hurray. Email is not distributed anymore. You just cannot create another first-class node of this network.

Email is now an oligopoly, a service gatekept by a few big companies which does not follow the principles of net neutrality.

I have been self-hosting my email since I got my first broadband connection at home in 1999. I absolutely loved having a personal web+email server at home, paid extra for a static IP and a real router so people could connect from the outside. I felt like a first-class citizen of the Internet and I learned so much.

Over time I realized that residential IP blocks were banned on most servers. I moved my email server to a VPS. No luck. I quickly understood that self-hosting email was a lost

— source | Carlos Fenollosa | Sep 04, 2022

[do not use big company email. always check and clean spam folder.]

Nullius in verba