The Red Cross’ Secret Disaster

This joint ProPublica/NPR report is extremely troubling, raising questions about how the Red Cross managed relief efforts after Hurricanes Sandy and Issac.

From the report:

During Isaac, Red Cross supervisors ordered dozens of trucks usually deployed to deliver aid to be driven around nearly empty instead, “just to be seen,” one of the drivers, Jim Dunham, recalls.

“We were sent way down on the Gulf with nothing to give,” Dunham says. The Red Cross’ relief effort was “worse than the storm.”

During Sandy, emergency vehicles were taken away from relief work and assigned to serve as backdrops for press conferences, angering disaster responders on the ground.

Go to the report.

See also:

B Corporations Attract Interest, Enthusiasm & Big Company Acquisitions

From the article:

One slice of the hybrid organization movement that seems to be pumping right along is comprised by “B Corporations,” for-profit entities deemed to meet public benefit standards of being socially responsible, often in terms of their dealings with communities and the environment. Companies assessed and certified by a nonprofit called B Lab can place a “B Corp” logo on their marketing materials. In addition to the private certification process overseen by B Lab, more than half of the states in the U.S. have adopted legislation to authorize “benefit corporations,” which may or may not overlap with certified B Corporations.

Bank of America’s $16 Billion Mortgage Settlement Less Painful Than It Looks | New York Times – Dealbook

From the article:

The Justice Department said on Thursday that it had so far recovered nearly $37 billion from big banks for their role in selling shoddy mortgages before the financial crisis.

Such a large number — intended to deter misdeeds in the future — suggests that Wall Street is being made to pay for its role in stoking the subprime debacle. Yet the financial pain inflicted by the settlements may not be as great in the end.

Black Lung Returns To Coal Country

This investigation by NPR and the Center for Public Integrity on the issue of black lung shows – once again – that industry can’t be trusted to police itself.  Workers are not being protected.  The coal industry has gamed the system through the exploitation of loopholes, as well as downright fraud.  Regulators are not doing their jobs, either; the analysis in this story shows that they have known for more than 20 years that miners are breathing excessive amounts of coal dust.

From the series:

From the very beginning, miners reported “irregularities” in controlling coal mine dust, says Donald Rasmussen, 84, a pulmonologist in Beckley, W.Va. Rasmussen says he’s tested 40,000 coal miners for black lung in the last 50 years.

“So many miners will say, ‘If you think the dust is controlled you’re crazy,’ ” he says.

Measuring coal mine dust is key to preventing overexposure. Excess dust can trigger citations, fines and even slowdowns in coal production. Mining companies enforce their own compliance by taking and reporting mine dust samples. Federal mine inspectors also test for excessive dust.

Donald Rasmussen, 84, a pulmonologist in Beckley, W.Va., says he has tested 40,000 coal miners in the last 50 years.

But NPR and CPI have found widespread and persistent gaming of the system designed to measure and control exposure.

Richard Allen, a federal mine inspector underground when the 1969 law first took effect, says he remembers a strange question from a Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) investigator about a carpet’s color in a coal mine manager’s office.

“It was blue and [MSHA was finding] little blue fibers in each [mine dust] sample,” Allen says. “[Investigators] cross-referenced the fibers in these samples to that carpet and found that he was sampling in his office” and not deep inside the mine.

The mine manager was later convicted of defrauding the mine safety agency and served time in prison.

Federal records obtained by CPI and NPR describe 103 cases resulting in criminal convictions for fraudulent dust sampling from 1980 through 2002. Fines totaled $2.2 million, and some mining company officials went to jail.

In 1991, the Labor Department levied civil fines of more than $6.5 million against about 500 coal mines for tampering with mine dust samples.

Listen to the series or read the transcript here.

Kids Cheat Just Like Their Business Role Models Do

From the article:

A friend wrote me last week to say how troubled she was by this stunner from her 19-year-old: The freshman at a private liberal-arts college told her mom that cheating on exams was standard operating procedure at school, and that she fully expected that cheating would be an everyday thing once she got into the workplace, too.

“To really get ahead, and get what you want in the business world, it is absolutely necessary to cheat,” the student told her horrified mother. Forgo a chance to cheat and you’re foolishly transferring a perfectly good opportunity to some other cheater who will reap the benefits, she said.

Though she’s years from gainful employment, the young woman has something in common with lots of people already securing a paycheck in the job world.

Read the rest of the article here.

Monsanto’s 2011 Sustainability Report: Cognitive Dissonance?

From the article:

If we were to look at the 12 leverage points described by Donella Meadows as the places to intervene in a system to try and change it, I believe we would find Monsanto at #12, the first step in the journey. Item 12 is Numbers. It is concerned with measuring and setting targets. Monsanto’s CSR report is full of numbers and targets, primarily aimed at increasing agricultural yield, which is the part of the problem they have been working on. But most experts who have studied world hunger as a system problem, say that poverty, inequality and distribution are the root causes. There is enough food being produced right now, to feed everyone, if we could just get it distributed. In fact, we produce 17% more calories per person today than we did 30 years ago, despite the increase in population. Why then, do we need to double production when the population is only growing by somewhere around 28%?