Google to Stop Censoring Search Results in China After Hack Attack

Google search
Photo by adria.richards

Hey, Google. It’s about time. Read the article here.

Google launched its Chinese-language search engine,, in January 2006. The company said at the time that it did so in the belief that a search engine would help open access to information for Chinese residents. To obtain permission to operate in China, however, the company had agreed to censor search results that the Chinese government deemed objectionable. Google was harshly criticized by civil liberties groups for its concession to Chinese authorities.

The company now appears to be regretting that decision.

“We have taken the unusual step of sharing information about these attacks with a broad audience not just because of the security and human rights implications of what we have unearthed, but also because this information goes to the heart of a much bigger global debate about freedom of speech,” Drummond wrote Tuesday about the company’s reversal of its position in China. “The decision to review our business operations in China has been incredibly hard, and we know that it will have potentially far-reaching consequences.”

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Morgan Stanley’s CSR Aspirations Evaporate In China

Read the article here.

A new report alleging corruption in Morgan Stanley’s China operations has sullied the firm’s aspirations to be a good example of corporate social responsibility.

Reuters has published a damning article that alleges Garth Peterson, a former employee at Morgan Stanley in China, is suspected of violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by engaging in bribery with Morgan Stanley’s government and business contacts in China. The article states Morgan Stanley conducted its own internal investigation and already submitted those findings to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Peterson was apparently fired in December 2008.

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Allegations against U of Phoenix persist

Marketplace and ProPublica
Sharona Coutts and Amy Scott
This two-part series looks at recruiting practices at for-profit schools, particularly the University of Phoenix. You can read part of the transcript, get links for more information and listen to the stories here.

MICHELE RAMBO: My name is Michele Rambo, and I live in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Rambo signed up at the University of Phoenix in Dallas a few years ago.

RAMBO: I did tell them that I was pregnant and they were like, oh, well that just solves everything, you know, you qualify for a grant, you’re covered. And I’m like, so I don’t have to pay anything? And they told me no.

Classes went well. She got good grades. She was almost finished with her associate degree when a school counselor called about moving her on to a bachelor’s program.

RAMBO: And one of the questions that she asked me completely stopped the whole conversation. She had asked me, so what kind of loan do you have?

Rambo thought she didn’t have a loan. But when she enrolled, she signed what she thought was a form inquiring about federal aid.

Turns out it was an application for loans that’ll cost her $18,000 when she graduates.

RAMBO: It was scary. It still is scary. I’m still scared. I still don’t even know what I’m going to do yet.

So how could this happen?

It turns out the enrollment counselors at the University of Phoenix get paid in part based on how many students they recruit. The university’s negotiating the settlement of a lawsuit that claims employees were pressured to sign people up.

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MBAs get schooled in ethics

David A. Kaplan
Good article in Fortune about how business schools may be getting the message about the need for more ethics training. Read the article here.

Rod Kramer thought it was going to be just another dinner at the Stanford Executive Program last summer.

An affable, popular professor at the business school, he had given his usual talks on influence and persuasion in the realms of politics and business.

Then came the wrap-up social event. But the wife of an important corporate executive — “with the help of some wine,” as Kramer recalls — lit into him “for not teaching morality to MBA students.”

That failure, she told him and then told him some more, was the cause of the global financial meltdown. It was an illustration, says Kramer, currently a visiting professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School, of how much “disenchantment” there is about MBAs these days.

Indicting business schools and management education has become a blood sport. “If Robespierre were to ascend from hell and seek out today’s guillotine fodder,” wrote Philip Delves Broughton in a widely cited piece in the Sunday Times of London earlier this year, “he might start with a list of those with three incriminating initials beside their name: MBA.”

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Monsanto? Sustainable? Water bully, I’d say …

Fred Pearce’s Greenwash –
Fred Pearce
Read the article here. H/t to Current.

The agricultural giant Monsanto may well still be the world’s most hated company. The company that brought the world Agent Orange, the defoliant of choice in the Vietnam War, followed up a decade ago with a strident push to flood the world with genetically modified crops. It alienated millions – and even its friends and rivals among GM supporters blamed Monsanto’s belligerence for putting back the cause by many years. But I’m going to ignore GMs and talk about water. And belligerence.

In part, no doubt, to help salvage its GM-tarnished reputation, Monsanto now makes great play of its efforts to help engineer a second green revolution built around “sustainability”.

Sustainability is a much-abused term and it infiltrates almost every corner of the company’s website. But to be fair they do try and define what the word means for its business. The company promises that its “sustainable yield initiative” will “reduce by one-third per unit produced the aggregate amount of key resources such as land, water and energy, required to grow crops by 2030.”

Many analysts now see water, rather than land, as the key limitation on growing food to feed a future world population of nine billion in the coming decades. So a third more crop for the same amount of water is a valuable goal. The company trumpets especially its work to engineer more water-efficient maize.

Of course, despite the company’s public pledge to “share knowledge and technology” the company’s corporate aim is to make sure that farmers buy Monsanto-patented water-efficient seeds by the trillion.

But you would expect Monsanto to be especially sensitive about how it manages water in its own farming operations, and particularly to show concern for how neighbouring farmers are facing up to water shortages. Wouldn’t you?

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Nike Resigns From Chamber Board

Green Inc. – NYT Blog
Kate Galbraith
Read the article here.

In another sign of the widening divide in the business community over climate change action, Nike announced Wednesday that it would resign its position on the board of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Nike said, however, that it would maintain its membership in the chamber.

Three large utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources and Exelon — have announced their resignations from the chamber this month due to concerns about the chamber’s position on climate.

“We fundamentally disagree with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on the issue of climate change, and their recent action challenging the E.P.A. is inconsistent with our view that climate change is an issue in need of urgent action,” Nike said in a statement that was posted today on the Web site of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

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Retail Takes on Slavery: The Body Shop Fights Child Sex Trafficking

Tonic, The Huffington Post
Katherine Gustafson
Read the article here.

Think slavery is over? Think our children are safe? A courageous corporate campaign tells us all to think again.

Growing up during The Body Shop’s heyday, I rarely entered a shopping mall without seeing the cosmetics retailer’s familiar “No Animal Testing” signs. And no youthful spree was complete without bagging one of the mango shampoos or pomegranate body lotions that lined the shop’s walls like shining, aromatic jewels.

Back then, the company was one of few touting ethical consumerism; under the direction of co-founder Anita Roddick, The Body Shop pioneered the idea that businesses can do well by doing good. The concept gained so much traction that angry customers just about stampeded when in 2006 Roddick sold her share of the company to French cosmetic giant L’Oréal, not known for an animal-kindness stance. But Roddick saw the move as a pragmatic one that would take the gospel of socially responsible business to new horizons.

And indeed, two years after her death, the company is taking its advocacy work to a whole new level with the launch of the three-year “Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People” campaign, kicked off eight weeks ago in partnership with the organization ECPAT International (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes). The campaign aims to make sure that children’s rights are secure, and that governments are held accountable for their contributions toward that goal.

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Film tells story of America’s famous whistleblower

Read the article here.

LOS ANGELES — Four decades after he stunned the nation by leaking the top-secret Pentagon Papers study of the Vietnam War, Daniel Ellsberg walks the halls of the past in his dreams.

In his sleep, he imagines that he still works as a researcher at the Rand Corp., advising Pentagon officials on policy, handling classified documents, studying the science of war.

“Being at Rand was the ideal life for me,” Ellsberg says, almost as an afterthought. “In my dreams, I am doing classified work, trying to solve social problems.”

Over the decades, Ellsberg, 78, hasn’t been welcome at Rand. He committed the most startling breach of security in the company’s history, walking out on Oct. 1, 1969, with the first briefcase full of classified documents destined for public release.

That bold move — and the actions that followed to get them published — are the subject of a new documentary film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.”

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The Rights of Corporations

The New York Times
The NYT editorializes on where the Supreme Court might be heading, regarding the constitutional rights of corporations. Read the article here.

The question at the heart of one of the biggest Supreme Court cases this year is simple: What constitutional rights should corporations have? To us, as well as many legal scholars, former justices and, indeed, drafters of the Constitution, the answer is that their rights should be quite limited — far less than those of people.

This Supreme Court, the John Roberts court, seems to be having trouble with that. It has been on a campaign to increase corporations’ legal rights — based on the conviction of some conservative justices that businesses are, at least legally, not much different than people.

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On the issue of corporate personhood, you may also find this article to be of interest: Capital Punishment: For Corporations that Violate the Public Trust.