Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.

Tag Archives: Ethical Business

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Carnival executives knew they had a virus problem, but kept the party going

“More than 1,500 people on the company’s cruise ships have been diagnosed with COVID-19, and dozens have died,” a report from Bloomberg says. How did this happen? Austin Carr and Chris Palmeri explain.

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Your pricey outdoor gear may have been made in factories where workers are abused

“Allegations of abuse have surfaced at a Bangladeshi factory whose multinational owner manufactures for some of the most popular outdoor brands we love. Here’s why that should surprise no one,” Joe Lindsey writes.


We’ve established a goal to eliminate single-use plastics across the fleet, which is a substantial undertaking… The Just Water container goes as far as technology allows today in eliminating anything not renewable or recyclable in a container that will store water.

— Andy Stuart, the chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line, discussing the company’s plans to abandon plastic water bottles (The New York Times: Major cruise line to abandon plastic water bottles)

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Facebook co-founder: It’s time to break up Facebook

“We are a nation with a tradition of reining in monopolies, no matter how well intentioned the leaders of these companies may be. Mark’s power is unprecedented and un-American,” Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes writes, referring to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. “It is time to break up Facebook.”


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Private equity pillage is what’s killing brick and mortar retail — not online competition

Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt have a must read up at CEPR. They explain: “The private equity business model is to strip assets from companies that they acquire. The latest victims: retail grocery chains.”

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Indicting Amazon, Archbishop of Canterbury slams modern capitalism as ‘reincarnation of an ancient evil’

Justin Welby, the top clergyman in the Anglican Church, recently gave a fiery speech in which he criticized the so-called “gig economy”. Welby singled out Amazon for its unethical, exploitative business practices and poor treatment of workers. The Washington Post has a good synopsis of the speech.

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This fourteen year old’s $2 million custom printing business is leaving competitors in the dust

Fast Magazine has just published a must-read profile of Buttonsmith, Inc., a Carnation-based union print shop and trusted NPI vendor founded by Henry Burner when he was ten years old. As author Glenn Fleishman explains, the business has grown rapidly and now does millions of dollars in business thanks to the Burner family’s technological prowess and smart business sense. Henry’s mother Darcy serves as CEO, while his father Mike Burner serves as the lead software developer.

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Amazon cuts Whole Foods prices as much as 43% on first day

“At the store on East 57th Street in Manhattan, organic fuji apples were marked down to $1.99 a pound from $3.49 a pound; organic avocados went to $1.99 each from $2.79; organic rotisserie chicken fell to $9.99 each from $13.99, and the price of some bananas was slashed to 49 cents per pound from 79 cents. The marked-down items had orange signs reading ‘Whole Foods + Amazon.’ The signs listed the old price, the new price and ‘More to come…’.

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Russia issues new ‘red notice’ request for arrest of British Putin critic Bill Browder

“Russia is facing a showdown with European leaders over claims it is ‘abusing’ the international ‘red notice’ system for arresting criminals, in an attempt to silence critics of Vladimir Putin,” reports The Telegraph. Red Notice is, not coincidentally, the title of Browder’s book about his experiences in Russia.

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Go ahead, CEOs. Criticize Trump. He can’t hurt you.

“The business advisory councils that Trump has put together are exercises in public relations,” writes Joe Nocera. “They allow Trump to be seen to be presiding over the kind of serious, successful executives he never was himself. The executives attending these meetings are simply lending their prestige to a president who needs their validation.”

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Businessman paints a terrifying and complex picture of Vladimir Putin’s Russia

Required reading from NPR.

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This again: Boeing plan will shift hundreds of jobs to Arizona

Seattle Times aerospace reporter Dominic Gates: “Boeing plans to transfer yet another substantial work group out of the Puget Sound region, the company confirmed Wednesday. The work shifting to Mesa, Arizona, could involve hundreds of jobs.”

A UBS ad from The Seattle Times

This UBS ad has been appearing in recent editions of the Seattle Times

What is UBS smoking? For the past few weeks the Swiss investment bank has been inviting people to workshops held today and yesterday in Bellevue to “find out what’s behind the post-election optimism”.

“The Presidential election led to an unexpected result: optimism,” the ad reads. “And no wonder. Our research reveals that President Trump is believed to be stronger on investors’ number one concern: the economy.”

The only thing Trump is strong on is insulting people. In every other respect, he’s a terrible human being. But it seems UBS has completely bought into Trump’s mythos. What are they smoking over there?


They are gearing up to drop Fox. So that’s what the executives at Fox News are dealing with. They are dealing with a long-term and a short-term business crisis. And so they don’t really have a choice anymore. This is not them acting responsive to something that they should have taken care of a long time ago. This is because of really hard work. Like groups like Ultraviolet that have put survivors out there to tell their stories, organizations like groups like Sleeping Giants. This had to be forced. Fox News needed to be forced to do this by their own business associates.

— Angelo Carusone, President of Media Matters, speaking to MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell about the pending exit of Bill O’Reilly from the Fox Noise Channel (via MM)

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How could United Airlines do that?

New York Times readers share their disgust with United Airlines for kicking a passenger off a plane in the most violent way imaginable.


Politicians and regulators allowed the creation of today’s airline cartel: United, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Four carriers that have outsized and unhealthy market power. They can pretty much do as they please.

— Jon Talton: United’s bully boy tactics are no accident

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City of Seattle dumps Wells Fargo over DAPL

On Monday, the Seattle City Council took up a proposal which would stop all business with Wells Fargo due to the direct financing of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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Wells Fargo killing sham account lawsuits by using arbitration

“The bank has sought to kill lawsuits that its customers have filed over the creation of as many as two million sham accounts by moving the cases into private arbitration — a secretive legal process that often favors corporations,” The New York Times reports.

Video Clip

Must-watch TV: Senator Elizabeth Warren questions (and eviscerates!) Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf at Senate Banking Committee Hearing

POSTSCRIPT: Great commentary by Yves Smith, Jon Talton, and Michael Hiltzik.


Hillary Clinton’s twenty questions that Donald Trump needs to answer — now

Earlier today, Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweetstormed a host of questions that Donald Trump should be compelled to answer after Newsweek published a piece by Kurt Eichenwald concluding that any international policy decision Trump might make would raise serious conflicts of interest (How the Trump Organization’s Foreign Business Ties Could Upend U.S. National Security).

Clinton’s tweetstorm:

  1. Will you sever ties with your company linked to foreign leaders, questionable organizations, and criminals if you become president? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  2. How will you handle non-cancelable contractual obligations with parties whose interests conflict with those of the United States? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  3. While refusing to release your tax returns, how will you confirm that you do not have dangerous financial ties to bad actors abroad? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  4. If you were willing to work with Qaddafi—a known terrorist and dictator—is there anyone you aren’t willing to make a deal with? Who? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  5. How can you be tough on Iran, given your business partnership with someone connected to Iranian money laundering? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  6. Given that you’ve already questioned our commitments to NATO allies, what is your answer to this? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  7. To what extent would your foreign policy be dictated by potential financial benefits for your business partners? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  8. Will you disclose the nature of your personal and business relationships with all of the Russian oligarchs you are “close” to? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  9. Have you or your campaign discussed U.S.-Russian relations with the Russian billionaires with whom you’ve done business? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  10. How did the Russian mob boss who ran a criminal organization out of Trump Tower get a VIP pass to your Miss Universe pageant in Moscow? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  11. With business ties to politically-connected Indian developers, how can you conduct foreign policy that puts the U.S. above your profits? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  12. How can we be sure you’d be willing to be tough on any nation if necessary, if it would put your interests and profits at risk? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  13. How can we know you won’t (again) impulsively damage relationships with crucial allies to preserve your own ego? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  14. We know you engaged extensively in pay-to-play here at home. Have you bribed foreign officials or other parties abroad? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  15. To what extent are you and your family currently contractually tied to payments from foreign business partners, or governments? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  16. You’ve mentioned ~120 foreign deals, including in countries with national security implications. Where and with whom are you working? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  17. Will your children disclose all of the foreign trips and business deals they’ve undertaken during the campaign, and with whom they met? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  18. We’ll let @kurteichenwald ask this one: — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  19. In sum, how will Trump guarantee that if forced to choose between America’s security and his own bank account, he won’t pick the latter? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
  20. It’s pretty clear: Trump’s spent his life unscrupulously looking out for his own wallet above all. Why would that change as president? — Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 14, 2016
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Heroin, Nazis, and Agent Orange: Inside the $66 billion proposed merger between Bayer and Monsanto

“These companies used to sell heroin and Agent Orange. Now, they want to form the world’s largest supplier of seeds and pesticides,” reports Bloomberg’s Lydia Mulvany. Yuck! NPI fiercely opposes this merger and will ask the governments of the United States and Europe to block it.