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Intel working toward conflict-free chip

Let’s hope that other companies will stop making excuses and work to catch up:

In a new video, Intel took a significant step beyond the commitments of other electronics companies by publicly stating its intent “to manufacture the world’s first verified, conflict-free microprocessor by 2013.” No other company from the electronics, jewelry, or automotive sectors have made a similar commitment, so this goal represents a serious step forward.

The video, released by Chief Operating Officer Brian Krzanich, is part of Intel’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, which is “intended to inspire employees and set a challenging target” for the company. “At the beginning of the project we considered banning all material from the country, but we quickly came to the conclusion that that wasn’t the right thing to do,” said Intel’s Jerry Meyers, in the video:

What we found when we were over there [in Congo] is that there’s really only two major industries: it’s farming, and it’s mining. So, if we were to ban materials from that country, we would be depriving the local people of one of two of their main sources of livelihood, and we wanted to avoid that at all cost. But we did want to ensure that we had a good conflict-free source of all minerals.

Instead of pulling its business out of Congo, Intel has decided to begin a ‘bagging and tagging’ system, in which bags of minerals from certified conflict-free mines are tagged, making it easy for companies to trace them and assure that the minerals they receive are clean. Of course, this system is not yet perfect. Meyers explains how, during Intel’s pilot run of the program, they discovered that someone had acquired a number of tags and was selling them illicitly, undermining their entire purpose and function. However, Intel was able to detect and halt this activity within a week.

By taking such determined steps towards creating a conflict-free product, Intel has essentially thwarted other companies who claim that implementing such traceability measures for their products is not feasible. Although manufacturing Intel’s microprocessors mainly requires tracing and auditing tantalum, and not the three other conflict minerals (tin, tungsten and gold), their projected timeframe for releasing a conflict-free product by next year clearly indicates the possibility for other companies to make similar strides with any or all of the minerals in question.

CNN reports government conspiracy!

Did you hear about this thing called the military-industrial complex, a deep-seated alliance between the U.S. government and American corporations that makes sure we are almost always involved in wars, declared or undeclared? Dwight Eisenhower identified it in 1961, and this week CNN caught on. More here.

Yes, they knew

by Susie
The HUD Inspector General report appended to the mortgage foreclosure fraud settlement filed Monday shows that yes, managers were actively directing fraud. What you may not know? The robosigning continues:

Managers at major banks ignored widespread errors in the foreclosure process, in some cases instructing employees to adopt make-believe titles and speed documents through the system despite internal objections, according to a wide-ranging review by federal investigators.

The banks have largely focused the blame for mistakes on low-level employees, attributing many of the problems to the surge in the volume of foreclosures after the housing market collapsed and the economy weakened in 2008.

But the report concludes that managers were aware of the problems and did nothing to correct them. The shortcuts were directed by managers in some cases, according to the report, which is by the inspector general of the Department of Housing and Urban Development […]

“I believe the reports we just released will leave the reader asking one question — how could so many people have participated in this misconduct?” David Montoya, the inspector general of the housing department, said in a statement. “The answer — simple greed.”

They got away with it, all of it.

New chapter in jolly-good scandal

by Odd Man Out
Pull yourself together, David Cameron! Don’t you know those hot-tempered redheads — Daily Beast called Rebekah Brooks the “flame-haired Murdoch favorite” — are nothing but trouble? I thought you were a stalwart advocate of austerity… or did you merely mean austerity for the poor? More here.

Growing up

Bruce in a rare solo acoustic performance (August 1972) at Max’s Kansas City:

Help Jurassic Pork

He’s caught in a nightmare and needs money to get out…

Those goddamned hippies

by Susie
They sure do have a lot of nerve, trying to buy up elections, don’t they?

by Susie
Disrespect toward the Catholic Church is whatever Bill Donohue decides it is (he was last heard from attacking Madonna’s Super Bowl half-time show), and now he’s decided to go after SNAP, the survivors’ group for victims molested first by priests, and then by their local dioceses and their crack legal teams. I’m glad I live in Philadelphia, where the local D.A. had the cajones to take on the church and bring criminal charges. In fact, I’d like some enterprising local reporter to ask our new archbishop what he thinks about this statement in light of Bill’s latest crusade:

“The Catholic League has the courage to speak up candidly and forcefully for the Church when circumstances call for fighting the good fight. The League should be on every Catholic’s short list of essential organizations to support.”

— Most Rev. Charles Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia

As to the Catholic League, well, sometimes I suspect they have more board members than actual rank and file members (and what moderate board members they are!): Wingers like Brent Bozell, Linda Chavez, Alan Keyes, the far-right Democrat Michael Novak and Kate O’Beirne, just to name a few. Diversity all the way from A to B!

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, believes that the Catholic church has gone too easy on the survivors of sex abuse by clergy, and has vowed to fight them “one by one,” says a post at the blog Right Wing Watch.

In an interview with Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times, Donohue says that in the past the church “has been too quick to write a check” to individuals who report being victimized by pedophile priests. He believes that the church should fight each case “one by one,” ostensibly to save money “in the long run.”

He said that Catholic bishops should “toughen up and go out and buy some good lawyers to get tough” in the fight against victims of sex abuse. “We don’t need altar boys.”

I can’t use the words I’d like to use to describe this big bully, but you can rest assured that he’s got at least some of the famously rigid and conservative church hierarchy behind him. So now the American church’s cardinals and archbishops have to make a choice: More toxic PR fallout from allowing Donahue to attack people who were raped as children, or try to hold onto the cash? Hmm.

Currently Donohue is backing the efforts of lawyers defending two Missouri priests accused of multiple counts of child molestation. Attorneys for the priests have issued subpoenas to the victims’ advocacy group the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), seeking “more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists,” according to the New York Times article.

SNAP is not involved in the Missouri case, but Donohue believes that the attacks are warranted because, in his words, “SNAP is a menace to the Catholic church.” The subpoenas, thanks to their exhaustiveness, are calculated to distract, bankrupt and embarrass the organization.
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Arizona’s new slut law

By Susie
When I was 18, I worked for a publishing company that was a little bit strange. The female department head was a fundamentalist Christian and a member of Jews for Jesus who used to hold Tuesday morning prayer meetings before work. It was well known that if you never did attend a prayer meeting, you could forget about ever getting a raise.

My immediate supervisor was a young woman named Janice. One morning, while Janice was in the restroom, the department head went rummaging in her purse and found her birth control pills. Instead of talking to her, she called all the editorial clerks and assistants into her department and announced that we were no longer permitted to socialize with the editors, and that we were nothing more than “Jezebels, sluts and whores of Babylon”. (I found this particularly ironic since one of my co-workers graduated from a genteel and well-known Southern women’s Christian college. She’d confided in me that both her father and grandfather—church elders—had raped her. The father raped her shortly after she tearfully confided in him that she’d been raped by her grandfather. “The family that prays together”, etc. …)

The department head also announced that if it was discovered that anyone was using birth control pills, she would be fired immediately. And that if anyone didn’t like it, well, she could just resign.

So I went back to my desk and typed up a resignation letter. I also took another piece of paper, drew a swastika and taped it to the department head’s door. (What can I say? I was young.)

This was my introduction to the fact that there are these kinds of people in the world. And now the modern Republican party has adopted the untrammeled craziness that was my former department head. For evidence, see this from the Jezebel blog—yet another draconian, slut-shaming (and most likely illegal) law proposed in a Republican state:

A proposed new law in Arizona would give employers the power to request that women being prescribed birth control pills provide proof that they’re using it for non-sexual reasons. And because Arizona’s an at-will employment state, that means that bosses critical of their female employees’ sex lives could fire them as a result. If we could harness the power of the crappy ideas coming out of the state of Arizona, we could probably power a rocket ship to the moon, where there are no Mexicans or fertile wombs and everyone can be free to be as mean a cranky a**hole as they want at all times! Arizona Heaven!

Yesterday, a Senate Judiciary Committee endorsed Republican Debbie Lesko’s HB2625 by a vote of 6-2, which would allow an employer to request proof that a woman using insurance to buy birth control was being prescribed the birth control for reasons other than not wanting to get pregnant. It’s all about freedom, she said, echoing everyone who thinks there’s nothing ironic about claiming that a country that’s “free” allows people’s bosses to dictate what medical care is available to them through insurance. First amendment. The constitution. Rights of religious people to practice the treasured tenets of their faiths, the tenets that dictate that religious people get to tell everyone who is not of faith how they’re supposed to live, and the freedom to have that faith enforced by law. Freedom®.

Further, Lesko states, with a straight face, that this bill is necessary because “we live in America; we don’t live in the Soviet Union.”

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