Business Ethics Links 8-2-2016 The Tobacco Divestment Edition!

Today, we discover in our first story that a single person, a doctor, made life much more difficult for the tobacco companies. In our second story, Washington State is suing Comcast on behalf of the state’s consumers. According to the law suit Comcast violated consumer protections slightly less than two million times. (Ouch!) And will noise cancelling headphones make listening to music safer and more common? That’s a little of what’s going on today! 

James Pilant

  1. Tobacco Divestment, a new front in an old war. 

In an old war, a new front had opened. Tobacco kills six million people a year: the McKinsey Global Institute deems it humankind’s greatest self-generated social burden, ahead even of war and terrorism. Yet as an issue, observes King’s colleague Clare Payne, it has receded in public consciousness: “There’s this tendency for people to think: ‘Oh we’re done with tobacco, aren’t we? Everyone knows. It’s just a choice thing for people now.’ When we’re actually in an epidemic – history’s first epidemic of a non-communicable disease.”

To restore it to the headlines, then, is no mean feat. “She’s a star,” says Cary Adams, CEO of the Union for International Cancer Control, who just over a year ago put King in charge of the Global Task Force for Tobacco Divestment. It’s not a mantle that rests easily with King. All the 41-year-old oncologist at Melbourne’s Epworth Healthcare feels she’s done is take to heart her hippocratic oath, especially the injunction to “do no harm”.

2. Washington State Sues Comcast for 3.7 Billion

“This case is a classic example of a big corporation deceiving its customers for financial gain,” Ferguson said in a statement. “I won’t allow Comcast to continue to put profits above customers – and the law.”

“Not every Washington consumer can hire an attorney to take on a powerful interest who doesn’t play by the rules,” Ferguson said in a press conference Monday morning. “A lot of times you don’t even know they’re not playing by the rules.”

The Tobacco Divestment Edition

Amazon is attempting to develop “smart” headphones


Noise-canceling headphones have microphones that listen to the sound coming from the outside world – the chatter, traffic or building work – and actively mute those frequencies. Amazon is proposing a design, for which the company has just been awarded a patent, that would analyze the incoming noise and listen for specific trigger words, phrases or sounds – for example, “Hey, Judy.”

Upon recognizing the keyword or phrase, the device would temporarily stop canceling noise so that the headphone wearer could hear outside sounds. The patent documents suggest that the same temporary suspension of the noise-canceling capabilities could also be triggered by an electronic, non-audio signal sent from a second device, such as a doorbell.

The Moral Policing of Women’s clothes doesn’t add to the political dialoque

Women whose fathers, brothers or husbands happen to have political careers are treated as mere appendages of their male relatives – to be judged, critiqued and shamed for the sole purpose of reflecting embarrassment back on to the male politician. Just consider the media treatment of Justine Miliband, who was torn down for not having a homely enough kitchen, or Samantha Cameron, who was eviscerated for wearing a sleeveless dress to a church service.

Parents and Trump Voters? 

(This is a good read!) 

Since 2000, nearly five million American manufacturing jobs have disappeared– a third of the entire manufacturing workforce. Using government statistics, one group estimated that over 60,000 US factories have closed in the last 15 years.

One of those factories belonged to my mom and dad.

Just find another job? 

If Donald Trump’s daughter was sexually harassed at work, “I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case,” the Republican candidate told an interviewer on Monday.

The question, specifically framed around the allegations against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes, came in an interview with USA Today. Ailes has been accused of sexual harassment by over 20 women since former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit against him on 6 July. Most recently, Laurie Luhn, a former Fox News booker, has accused Ailes of maintaining a sexually coercive relationship with her. Ailes has denied all the allegations.

So, forget about that justice thing, just move on to the next job! jp

Anthrax revived by global warming

Seventy-two nomadic herders, including 41 children, were hospitalised in far north Russia after the region began experiencing abnormally high temperatures

Doctor Sentenced for death of patient during FGM does three months in jail.

Second Story – same topic. 

“There is a lack of political will, meaning no pressure to implement the law – it doesn’t even stop at the stage of failing to arrest those who are already sentenced for practising FGM,” she explained. “The clear fact that there was no single report coming from the state itself shows the state doesn’t fulfil its role to protect the women right to health and life. The state has a responsibility to supervise the clinics – plus public and private hospitals,” she added.

I can’t help but believe that if you’re cutting flesh off of a woman to protect your manhood, you haven’t got much. jp

Your mobile device’s battery status can be used to identify and track you online.

Trump compares the loss of a son to his sacrifices

“I think I have made a lot of sacrifices,” he blustered. “I’ve worked very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve done – I’ve had tremendous success.”

Stephanopoulos appeared incredulous. “Those are sacrifices?” he asked.

“Oh sure,” said Trump. “I think they’re sacrifices.”

If you think this will disturb or cause second thoughts in Trump voters, you’re mistaken. His appeal isn’t based on the more common moral standards. jp

In today’s Internet world, can truth conquer lies? 

Mikkelson owns and runs, a hugely popular fact-checking site which debunks urban legends, old wives’ tales, fake news, shoddy journalism and political spin. It started as a hobby in the internet’s Pleistocene epoch two decades ago and evolved into a professional site that millions now rely on as a lie-detector. Every day its team of writers and editors interrogate claims ricocheting around the internet to determine if they are false, true or somewhere in the middle – a cleaning of the Augean stables for the digital era.

“There are more and more people piling on to the internet and the number of entities pumping out material keeps growing,” says Mikkelson, who turns out to be a wry, soft-spoken sleuth. “I’m not sure I’d call it a post-truth age but … there’s been an opening of the sluice-gate and everything is pouring through. The bilge keeps coming faster than you can pump.”

Democrats struggle to understand economic insecurity

At the DNC Labor Caucus meeting on Wednesday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a similar warning, urging Democrats to make a stronger case to the working class.

“You see a real economic anxiety and anger. That’s what’s driving this election,” he said. “There has been an economic recovery under Obama, but who has had the benefit of the recovery? Not the working man or woman. Wages have been flat for 20 years while everything else has gone up. And no one is talking enough to that issue.”

Workers Congress privatized abused by private contractors 

Two companies that run food service at the U.S. Capitol will pay a million dollars in back wages to almost 700 workers who they cheated out of their pay, the Department of Labor announced Tuesday.

The men and women who serve Congress its food clawed their way into Washington’s conscience over the past couple of years with a series of strikes and walkouts as part of a campaign for higher wages and union rights. The strikes at the Capitol and in other federal buildings in the Washington, D.C. area helped persuade President Obama to issue three executive orders mandating higher wages and stronger workplace protections for workers hired by federal contractors.

A handful of workers became the face of the union-backed Good Jobs Nation campaign with wrenching stories about earning too little to survive in D.C. or to keep their families together. But the penalties handed down Tuesday suggest the federal contractor taxpayers pay to staff cafeterias on Capitol Hill were not just paying too little to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living. They were outright breaking the law.

Jamie Dimon Cares?!

Dimon forgot to mention in his op-ed that he received a raise this past January himself, which looks very different than the one given to front line bank workers. JPMorgan Chase’s board raised Dimon’s salary from $20 million to $27 million.That’s a 35 percent increase in just one year!

Dimon makes roughly $13,000 an hour. In three hours, he earns the same salary as a full-time Chase employee making $15 an hour.  Raising wages for bank workers is the right thing to do, but a miniscule raise—estimated by the Economic Policy Institute at just 3.2 percent annually when adjusted for inflation over the next three years—doesn’t go nearly far enough toward addressing income inequality or the hostile work conditions for frontline bank workers.